NO DISCO FOR DIRK
Word came down on Monday that Dirk Nowitzki will be sidelined from the Mavericks’ line up for an indefinite period. And while that is terrible news for Dallas – and a stretch run in an extremely deep and competitive Western Conference – the Texas crew has still got to be thanking their lucky stars. The news could have been MUCH worse for Nowitzki.
I’ve watched the replay from Sunday’s nasty fall against the Spurs over and over and I still can’t believe Dirk didn’t break his leg, shatter his ankle, or tear every ligament in his knee. The way his leg buckled underneath his body … I was expecting to hear the Mavs announce on Monday that Nowitzki was gone for the season. At least the team can now hold out some sort of faint hope that their go-to guy and the reigning MVP might just have a shot at returning for the post-season.
Of course, Dallas has to get their first!
The optimist in me says this injury COULD be a minor blessing in disguise. Reason-being … the Jason Kidd experiment has not worked out yet for the Mavs. With Dirk now out, Kidd can focus more on being a distributor to the ENTIRE team as opposed to having to worry more about keeping Nowitzki happy; developing chemistry with him; and, thus, leaving everybody else as a 2ND thought on his mind. This injury will force Kidd to truly take over this team and become the leader and guiding light (sorry for the cheesy description) of a team that is sputtering.
THE MADNESS CONTINUES
Although 90% of my bracket has been OBLITERATED, I still have my Final Four teams a live (UCLA, Texas, Tennessee, and Kansas).
However, as exciting as the tournament has been, I wanted to focus on one issue specifically … other than the games and teams that still remain.
Who is the number 1 pick this June? Are there a lot of “impact” players in the college game right now, that will go on to star in the NBA?
Quite honestly … I’d say … No. No, there aren’t a ton of “stars” ready to make that jump from the NCAA to the NBA.
There are plenty of names out there (Eric Gordon, Derrick Rose, Brook Lopez, OJ Mayo, and more) but the only guy that I have seen to this point that truly has the makings of an NBA All Star / Superstar … is Michael Beasley. Rose or Mayo or anybody else may prove me wrong one day, but as it stands right this second … Beasley is the only guy I see as a future poster-child for the Association.
Don’t get me wrong – many of those players I mentioned (and others … like Kevin Love, Jerryd Bayless, etc) will have solid professional careers – but based on the tournament so far … Beasley is in a class by himself.
Ironically, the most talked about player right now – who is plastered all over every highlight show and website – is Stephen Curry. Yet part of me is still skeptical about whether or not his has the body and the all-around game to excel at the next level.
I hope I’m wrong about Curry … ’cause I feel a slight connection to the guy after watching him grow up in Toronto for a few years during his Dad’s (Dell Curry) days as a Raptor. In fact, Stephen used to talk about wanting to play for Duke when he got older. He never became a Blue Devil but he’s sure helping put Davidson on the map!
TJ AND DR. PHIL
In the ongoing / never-ending “debate” of TJ Ford and Jose Calderon, I thought I’d put on my psychiatrist hat and try to break down my feelings on this issue one more time.
To use the football example … the starting QB is never supposed to lose his job due to injury. As soon as he comes back healthy, the job is his.
However, in some circumstances – like the one that unfolded in Toronto – the back-up ends up playing SO well that even when the starter returns … it seems crazy to upset the balance again and have everyone have to start from scratch with the man who originally held the gig.
Such is/was the case in T.O. … when TJ Ford return after two months away from the Raps … only to find that Sam Mitchell was sticking with Jose Calderon as his “new” starting PG.
The easy response for many – when talking about TJ – is: “Suck it up. Play ball. Be a team player”.
But the reality of the situation is … like it or not … “sucking it up” is easier said than done. The COMPETITOR inside TJ Ford wants to play. That competitor wants to have his old job back; log heavy minutes; play meaningful minutes; control the offence and the team; and be one of the main go-to guys … especially in crunch time.
To suddenly ask that guy to play half of his usual allotment of minutes; come off the bench; sit on the bench during the late stages of most games; and have less of an overall impact on the team … is tough.
None of that changes the fact that Ford has had more downs than ups since his return to the Raptors … but … I’m merely stating that I can see where the man is coming from and where his mind might be at right now.
If I were in TJ’s shoes … would I want to be playing more? ABSOLUTELY.
Would I be happy with losing my starting job and having to accept the back-up role? Absolutely not.
Would I want to be on the floor in tight / meaningful situations and games overall? Absolutely.
Would I still believe that – truth or not – I’m the 2ND best player on this team and I think I can carry this team (even without Bosh) through anything … much like I did last year when I kept my team at .500 despite a long absence for CB4? Absolutely.
But there are signs that Ford is starting to “get it” …
His body language on the floor over the past couple of games has shown great improvements and his interaction with Calderon has been outstanding. Perhaps TJ finally got to the point where he may have said something like … This isn’t fair … but I’ve got to make the best of it and find other ways to help my team.
We’ll see how it all plays out over the final 12 games of the season. And, to be fair, Calderon (and the entire starting 5) need to step up their games as well. The Raptors have been falling behind too early; too often. I’m not necessarily in favour of a shake-up to the starting unit, but a collective head-shake could be in order.
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