Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I feel sorry for these NBA players

Going through my old Slam Magazines just to see how far off their predictions are (any article they ever write are about how great a player is going to be and how they are always working to improve their game etc. They went as far to call Qyntel Woods the 2003 rookie of the year before the 2002 draft, I know... WHO?!) and came across a couple players whom I just can't help but feel sorry for (salaries aside) now that I know how their careers have ended up/are playing out right now. I once heard Ray Lewis say in a radio interview, "If hindsight were truly 20/20, we'd all be millionaires." Doesn't make 100% sense but you get what he's trying to say.

So I bring to you these four players who I just can't help but feel sorry for from the era of 2000 to the present.

Mike Miller

(Photo from prodigy.net)
Drafted 5th overall by the Orlando Magic in 2000. The year before, the Magic were 41-41 and didn't make the playoffs. This is the year the Magic brought TMac and Grant Hill in to redefine the franchise. But you already know that Grant Hill gets hurt and is never the same. But that doesn't stop Mike Miller from playing all 82 games his first year and winning rookie of the year averaging 12/4/2 shooting almost two 3 pointers a game at 40%. Here's a sweet vid of Miller hitting his three's.



And that's what he's best known for; his 3 point shooting. Career average of 1.8 3's a game at 40.4%, was a candidate for the redeem team in the 2008 Olympics to help spread the floor (they went with Michael Redd), made 202 three pointers in the 2006-07 season (rank 3rd)... But he's so much more than a 3 point shooter. He can run point guard, he can run the floor, he can start, he can come off the bench (2006 sixth man of the year). But the teams he was on, simply put, sucked. In Orlando for his first three years and they made the playoffs all three years but didn't get out of the first round. Just couldn't get over the loss of Grant Hill.

In the middle of the 02-03 season, he was traded to Memphis. Another up and coming team with a young Pau Gasol, Shane Battier, Lorenzen Wright, and Jason Williams. Don't give Miller ALL the credit, but after he came, they made the playoffs the next three years... only they never got out of the first round. In FACT, they got swept all three years. To this day the Grizzlies have never won a playoff game since their inception in 1995.

After a dismal 2007-08 season with the Grizz (the year Pau went to the Lakers), he was traded to another bad team, the Minnesota Timberwolves. This team had Al Jefferson in his 2nd year as a Wolf and a rookie Kevin Love along with Rashad McCants, Randy Foye, and Craig Smith. This team won 24 games.

During the summer of 2009 (last summer), he was traded with Randy Foye to the Washington Wizards who were finally going to get Gilbert Arenas for a whole season, along with Antawn Jamison, and Caron Butler. Everyone thought this was the dark horse team in the East. You know the rest: they still sucked, Gilbert brought the guns out, the Wizards decided to tank and Caron got traded for Josh Howard (now injured), Jamison got traded for nothing, and again, Mike Miller is left alone on a team of scrubs.

Where is the justice?! Well, there is some beauty in this breakdown. He's a Free Agent this summer. Hopefully a team picks him up and utilizes his abilities to better the team because this guy can PLAY.
Shaun Livingston

(Photo from ESPN)
Drafted 4th overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2004, straight outta high school. One of the few to briefly hold the title of Clippers Savior. This guy is one of the tallest point guards out there at 6'7" (to put that in perspective, Kobe Bryant, the SG is 6'6"). But he is pretty darn skinny too at 185 lbs (again, in perspective, Kobe is 205 lbs and 2 inches shorter, and I'm 5'11" and 175 lbs, all muscle I swear!).

He didn't play much his rookie year. He had Marco Jaric playing in front of him. To make a short Clipper career short, he started 15 games out of 30 played his rookie year, 14 of 61 his second year, and 31 of 54 his third. Livingston was a good point guard who had a chance to be something special. He always looked to pass first, saw the court well (at 6'7" he could see over any other PG guarding him) and delivered crisp passes. But that third year was the year of the horrific knee injury (warning: horrific content). Right when he was being given the reigns to the Clipper offense, his career was possibly over as his ACL tore clear off and was out for the rest of the season after surgery. And he didn't quite recover fully and lost his explosiveness.
He missed the rest of the 06-07 season and all of the 07-08 season after the Clippers waived him. Miami gave him a chance but traded him after 4 games to the Thunder, where he got 8 games in 08/09 and 10 games this year. He was waived and signed later on by the Wizards where he's started the last 2 games. His best game since the injury was 3 games ago, a loss vs. Orlando where he scored 18 points and dished 8 assists in 30 minutes.

He's got a chance, but if it weren't for that knee injury, he'd probably be starting for a team that was going somewhere (not necessarily the Clippers) having a nice stat line on a nightly basis. Instead, I'm watching his box scores, hoping he's getting playing time and puts up decent numbers. He's on a 2nd 10 day contract so if things don't work out, he'll just have to try again for another team.

Tim Duncan


(Photo from YouGotDunkedOn)
I know, how can you feel sorry for a 4 time champion, 3 time finals MVP (and stats aside, he was MVP of the 2007 Finals, not Tony Parker), 2 times regular season MVP, and perennial all star? Because even with those accomplishments, people outside of San Antonio just don't care. Those accomplishments are better than Shaq's and Kobe's. But the gripe against Duncan is that he's boring. Mr. Fundamental is too fundamental and doesn't have the personality that hits headlines outside of the Sports Page. I'll admit, I was snoozing during the Detroit-Spurs finals in 2005.

Going back to my Slam Magazines, Adidas had an ad on the back cover of each magazine for about a year featuring their Adidas team of TMac, Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan. The website was 21121.com (21 for KG, 1 for TMac, 21 for Duncan). And of course no one ever bought the Duncans. But TMac was always selling shoes despite never making it out of the first round of the playoffs, no MVPs, but hey, he did flashy dunks and could cross people over, and that's what sells.

So in short, Tim Duncan, one of the greatest players of all time and best power forward of all time doesn't quite get the recognition that a "of all time" player should.

Kevin Garnett

(Photo from Derok)
Again, how can I feel sorry for one of the highest paid players ever, who won a championship two years ago? Well I don't really, mainly because Kevin Garnett is one of the players I hate the most, even before he helped beat the crap out of the Lakers two years ago, but I do feel sorry for him. Why? Because it could have been so much more for Garnett, except his years in Minnesota had gone to waste. His management screwed him over.

Most recently? Trading Brandon Roy for Randy Foye, but before that, around the year 2000, they were involved in a salary cap scandal, promising Joe Smith a multi million dollar deal in the future if he signed for less at that moment. Well the league found out and punished the Wolves by taking away their next FIVE FIRST ROUND DRAFT PICKS (2001, 2002, 2004) (2 picks were later returned). Granted, they made the playoffs before each of those drafts so they wouldn't have been lottery picks, but you build your team with a draft and can trade for players with draft picks, and yet KG still played his heart out and even won MVP in 2004. But it could have been more.

But hey, he still won a championship with the Celtics as a main ingredient in their big three, but it's something more special when you turn a whole franchise around to a championship, something that could have happened had management not tried to be so sketch.

Coming soon: My "I don't feel sorry for these NBA players" post.

3 comments:

Kris said...

I CRINGE EVERY TIME I SEE THAT LIVINGSTON VIDEO

KneeJerkNBA said...

Duncan's an interesting case study. He's clearly one of the best players of all time but he won't be truly appreciated until he's not around anymore.

Did you see that NBA Player Of The Decade list that came out recently? LeBron was rated above Duncan. And Shaq. LeBron's incredible but how many rings did he win in the aughts? Ludicrous.

http://www.breakingglobalnews.com/nba-player-of-the-decade/1222043

ReadBetweenTheBaselines said...

Kris - me too man, me too.

KneeJer- That list is BS! rings trump all. That's why Karl Malone and Barkley will never be up there with the all time greats.