In Retrospect: Examining the 2009 NBA Draft First Round

[The following is a chapter from my upcoming book, Tao of the Passing Big Man, and other essays. Due out if and when we survive this global pandemic.]

The NBA draft is a fascinating social phenomenon. Front offices use it as an opportunity to pitch entice their team’s fan base to renew their season ticket packages (sometimes before the season is even over). Some fans use it as a beacon of hope for their favorite team and some players see the draft as a harbinger of what is to come for their own careers. 

A great draft can create a dynasty, a good one can extend it, and a bad draft can set a franchise back five to ten years. The line between bust and boom depends on two important factors: the health of a player and the health of a franchise. Would Steph Curry and Kawhi Leonard be the same kinds of players had they landed in Brooklyn or Indiana? Would we think of Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant the same had their careers started in Portland?

Sometimes it really is just a matter of a player landing in the right situation. Successful organizations invest in their draft picks and put them in situations to succeed. Not all superstars come into the league ready made; some need to be developed and coached and polished into the diamonds they eventually become.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Veterans carry value within the locker room as well as on the court. As is in life, sometimes its all about meeting the right people to help steer you in the right direction. But NBA success isn’t guaranteed. For every Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Butler, there are tons of players who eat themselves out of the league, have substance abuse problems, and even cases of mental illness. The NBA draft is a crapshoot, and some organizations were good, some bad, and others were just plain (un) lucky.

In this chapter we examine a few select draft classes–ones which altered the league indefinitely–that were springboards to some franchises success and doomed others to being league doormats. These drafts were full of generational talent that changed the league for years to come. Some teams set themselves up to contend for the decade, while other teams set themselves up for failure. You can take a look and see from the drafts which teams trended where.

 

2009 Draft First Round Picks

  1. Blake Griffin PF Los Angeles Clippers
16. James Johnson SF Chicago
2. Hasheem Thabeet C Memphis 17. Jrue Holiday PG Philadelphia
3. James Harden SG Oklahoma City 18. Ty Lawson PG Minnesota (traded to Denver)
4. Tyreke Evans SG Sacramento 19. Jeff Teague PG Atlanta
5. Ricky Rubio PG Minnesota 20. Eric Maynor PG Utah
6. Jonny Flynn PG Minnesota 21. Darren Collison PG New Orleans 
7. Stephen Curry PG Golden State 22. Victor Claver Portland
8. Jordan Hill PF New York 23. Omri Casspi Sacramento
9. Demar DeRozan SG Toronto 24. Byron Mullins C Dallas (traded to Oklahoma City)
10. Brandon Jennings PG Milwaukee 25. Rodrigue Beaubois PG Oklahoma City (traded to Dallas)
11. Terrence Williams SG Nets 26. Taj Gibson PF Chicago
12. Gerald Henderson SG Charlotte 27. DeMarre Carroll SF Memphis
13. Tyler Hansborough PF Indiana 28. Wayne Ellington SG Minnesota
14. Earl Clark SF Phoenix 29. Toney Douglas PG Los Angeles
15. Austin Daye SF Detroit 30. Christian Eyenga SF Cleveland

 

All Stars

 

Jrue Holiday, James Harden, Jeff Teague, Demar Derozoan, Blake Griffin, Steph Curry

 

Notable Role Players 

 

Jonas Jerebko, Dejuan Blair, Taj Gibson, Danny Green, Demarre Carroll, Austin Daye, Dante Cunningham, Jeff Pendergraph (later Ayres), Darren Collison, Jodie Meeks, James Johnson, Omri Casspi, Wayne Ellington, Patrick Beverly, Toney Douglas, Patty Mills, Chase Budinger, Eric Maynor

 

Busts of 2009 Class

 

Tyreke Evans, Thabeet Hasheem, Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, Brandon Jennings, Tyler Hansborough, Rodrigue Beaubois

 

Steal of the Draft

 

Steph Curry not only turned out to be the best player in the league, but one of the most destructive offensive forces the league has ever seen. After he overcame ankle problems (which were a legitimate concern for other teams, Steph proved that players from mid- major colleges could compete at the next level (you couldn’t name another player on those Davidson teams can you?). Steph revolutionized the game of basketball with his other-worldy shooting ability and absurd accuracy from anywhere on the court. Just having Curry was enough to get the Davidson Wildcats to the elite eight in the NCAA Tournament. When I watched him in the 2008 tournament, I predicted to my friends that Steph Curry would be the next Reggie Miller, because of his 3 pt shooting. Boy was I wrong……. turns out he is way better than Reggie Miller. 

 

Undrafted Notables

 

Joe Ingles,Wesley Matthews, Aron Baynes

 

NBA Champions

 

Jeff Ayres(2014), Danny Green(2014,2019), Stephen Curry(2015,2017,2018), Patty Mills (2014), Jodie Meeks (2019) 

 

 

 

Draft Notes

  • Its hard to decide who had the worse draft, Minnesota, or the Memphis Grizzlies. Many executives in the league had yet to forgive Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace for trading Pau Gasol for his brother Marc[At the time, the trade looked unbelievably lop-sided as Pau Gasol was a perennial All Star stuck on a well coached overachieving team of role players. No one knew Marc was going to be the beast he grew into becoming]. If you look at the lottery picks that year, you will notice the names of three All Stars (and Olympians) that were picked after # 2 pick, Hasheem Thabeet who played in only 224 games during his career, starting in only 20 of them. Thabeet was selected before James Harden (imagine a backcourt of him and Conley Jr.), Steph Curry and Demar Derozan.
  • Minnesota passed on Steph Curry twice, grabbing Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn with consecutive picks. They drafted Ty Lawson with the 18th pick (who was better than either player for when he was in the league) but traded him to Denver.
  • This was a good draft for finding point guards.  Jrue Holiday went on to be a more than serviceable point guard. At one point (before he worked himself out of the league) Ty Lawson was considered the fastest player in the league. Darren Collison, Jeff Teague and Eric Maynor became great role players for their teams.

 

 

And the Winner is…..

 

The Golden State Warriors and the NBA. Three NBA titles and five finals appearances later, there is no argument that Steph Curry has become one of the faces of the league. Every time you’re playing pickup ball and someone takes a crazy heat check jumper from damn near half court, they are channeling their inner Steph Curry. NBA teams go to outrageous lengths to draft players who they hope to be the face of their franchise. Some succeed, most don’t.

Even rarer than drafting a franchise player is the good fortune to nab a player who can also be the face of the league. These sort of acquisitions can carry a franchise for a decade if everything goes right. Seeing all the things that had to happen for Steph Curry to fall to Golden State, only further illustrates this point. Of the six players selected before Curry, none of those players are on the team that drafted them, and three of those players are out of the league (Tyreke Evans, Jonny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet). Hell, go back and look at the first round again, and see if you can name all the players still playing in the NBA. Tyreke Evans was Rookie of the Year, Ty Lawson was at one point the fastest point guard in the NBA, and Steph Curry had weak ankles. A little more of a decade later, and the drafts grades get a bit harsher. Minnesota had three chances to get it right and they didn’t. Golden State had one shot and they made it count. It was the perfect storm.

 

 

BM

 

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Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found in the KDVS studios making on air playlists. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

In Focus: KU vs Duke 1988 Final Four

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[The following is an excerpt of a chapter from my upcoming book, Tao of the Passing Big Man, and other essays. Due out if ,and when we survive this global pandemic.]

 

The 1988 Final Four is remembered for many things, people have written ad nauseum about “Danny and the Miracles” besting OU and Duke to hoist up Kansas’ first national championship since 1952. I wanted to pinpoint and highlight a historical game from the national semifinal between Duke and Kansas, but not because of the score–or anything that happened in the game for that matter–, but because of all the players involved in this nationally televised piece of theater.

Not only was this a rematch of the 1986 National Semifinal (both teams had also played each other earlier in the a regular season game in Lawrence, Kansas), but this game was a confluence of different basketball minds who would impact the game in a variety of ways. 

 

This was the first of five straight final fours for Coach K [Duke would go to 7 Final Fours in a 9 year span from 1985 to 1994. ] and the second time in 3 years the teams would face off in the National Semifinal. Larry Brown ( a Dean Smith protege) was facing off against Coach Mike Krzyzewski, a graduate of the Bobby Knight School for the Gifted Bullies. 

The side stories turned out to be more interesting than the game itself. It was a pretty intense game (because of the stakes) but anything but pretty. It wasn’t a terribly entertaining game, one of many turnovers, and lots of stoppage in actual play. Kansas controlled the game for the most part, and Duke would have trouble getting loose against the Kansas defense. In fact, it would be a forgettable game if not for the names of the schools involved. If this had taken place during the regular season there would be very little reason to recall this event. The final score was a tepid 66-59.

Duke’s record was 28-7 for the season and at 26-11, Kansas would barely make the tournament. Neither team won their conference, yet here they both were in the Final Four; facing off for the chance to play against the Sooners.

The Game was played in Kemper Arena; in Kansas City, Missouri, which is only 45 minutes from the town of Lawrence the location of University of Kansas campus. So this was basically a home game for the Jayhawks. Anyway, enough background let’s get to it. 

                           Duke Blue Devils

  • The Duke Blue Devils were of course, coached by the legendary whiny Mike Krzyzewski.
  • Future Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey was an assistant coach on the bench, as well as future NBA scout Bob Bender.
  • Coach K’s starting point guard was former Mercer Island standout, and future Utah Jazz head coach, Quin Snyder (before his stint in the NBA, Snyder would strangely enough become the head coach of Mizzou, Kansas’ biggest rival, for 6 years; perennially losing to first Roy Williams, and later Bill Self). Snyder would have stops in Los Angeles (for both franchises), Philadelphia, and Atlanta as an assistant coach before getting the head gig in Utah.
  • Power forward Danny Ferry would not only go on to to play 13 seasons in the NBA, playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs. Ferry would go on to gain notoriety as a GM for the Cavs and later the Atlanta Hawks (before famously get canned for speaking too freely about African free agents during team conference calls).
  • Center Alaa Abdelnaby spent four seasons in the NBA, bouncing around the league; playing for five teams in that short span of time.
  • Future Nets and 76ers GM (and Bill Simmons punchline) Billy King started at small forward for the Dukies. King would manage to last 18 years in the NBA as an executive before getting replaced during the Brooklyn Nets house cleaning period.

 

                                  Kansas Jayhawks

 

  • Head coach Larry Brown would win this game and the next one, then proceed to take a 25 year break from coaching college; taking jobs on the NBA level for teams like the Sixers, Pacers, Knicks, Pistons, Clippers, and Bobcats (now the Hornets again). Brown would spend a little time in Dallas at SMU before leaving his position for suspicious reasons.
  • Assistant coach Ed Manning (who played for coach Brown with the ABA Carolina Cougars) was also Danny Manning’s father. Many thought Danny Manning was going to go to University of North Carolina, but when Larry Brown hired Ed Manning to coach with him at Kansas, Ed moved the entire family to Lawrence, Kansas where Danny won the state championship at Lawrence High School, then four years later won the national championship less than a mile away at the local university. Danny’s father would go on to be an assistant for Larry Brown when Brown left Kansas for San Antonio, and later, to be an NBA scout.
  • Ed’s son, Danny, would not only manage to play 16 injury riddled seasons in the NBA, but then would go on to coach at University of Tulsa and later Wake Forest. Of course, Jayhawks fans will remember Manning as a bench coach during Bill Self’s title run 20 years from Manning’s own title run in 1988.
  • Future San Antonio Spurs executive RC Buford was an assistant coach on the Kansas bench, as well as Alvin Gentry, who would later be a head coach in the NBA for the Suns (Gentry was an assistant for Mike D’Antoni during the :07 seconds or less era), Pistons, Heat, Clippers, and Pelicans. Gentry would get his first NBA ring as an assistant for Steve Kerr on the Golden State Warriors.
  • Starting forward, Milt Newton would go on to play overseas, before becoming an NBA exec, eventually landing as GM for the Timberwolves for a time spell.
  • Guard Mark Turgeon would go on to have a successful head coaching career; most notably at Wichita State, Texas A & M, and currently Maryland.
  • Guard Kevin Pritchard would be successful as an NBA executive and not a player, working as a GM for first the Portland Trailblazers (he was doomed the minute he selected Greg Oden) and currently the Indiana Pacers.

Aside note: Forward Scooter Barry happens to be the son of Rick Barry; who played with Larry Brown in the ABA for the Oakland Oaks.

 

The conclusion to be drawn from all this useless bit of trivia is that obviously your kids are better equipped to succeed in life if they choose to go to Kansas over Duke. Larry Brown would win an NBA title with the Detroit Pistons in 2004. Alvin Gentry would get a ring as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors in 2015. RC Buford would help the Spurs to develop enough talent around Tim Duncan, as the Spurs would win 5 titles in 15 years. On the Duke side, besides Coach K, no one involved in that game really won anything ( Danny Ferry did get a ring in 2003, playing sparingly on the Spurs). So mothers, don’t let your kids grow up to be Dukies.

 

BM

Tobacco Road’s Top 5 Duke Carolina games

[The following is an excerpt of a  chapter from my upcoming book, Tao of the Passing Big Man, and other essays. Due out if ,and when we survive this global pandemic.]

With only 8 miles separating the schools, it is only natural for a  rivalry to develop between Duke University (a private school) and University of North Carolina (a state school);especially as both basketball programs continued to develop in their competition for the state (and the nation’s) top basketball talent. Being in such close proximity only lends to more intrigue; much like two neighboring high schools. Teams hop on the bus to go play in the next town, and after the game, win or lose, they got to get on the bus to go back. Anyone who played high school athletics knows that feeling. Only a few miles separate Wake Forest, NC State, Duke, and North Carolina. This is what makes the Atlantic Coast Conference rivalry between the schools so special. For quite a while, to make the tournament from the ACC, a team had to win the tournament in order to qualify. This created a hostile four day environment for the conference tournament. NC State, Virginia, Wake Forest, and Clemson were tough opponents and things routinely got testy, but none of those games have the innate gravitas and star power as Duke and Carolina.

 

Some historians point to the year of 1961 as the tipping point of the rivalry, when an on the court fight–which turned into a brawl–between Art Heyman and Larry Brown.

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What followed from that game came a series of knockdown, bloody drag downs that defied the records of either team. 

 The rivalry leveled up a notch in the 1980’s when upstart coach Mike Krzyzewski took over the coaching duties for the Duke program. By 1984, Duke was regularly penciled in for the Final Four, and as college basketball rose to higher prominence and viewership, the rivalry got ratcheted up in intensity. Some games were better and more memorable than others, but outside of the Yankees-Red Sox in baseball, Miami-Florida State in football, you will not see a rivalry (with such national appeal) with such star power as Carolina v. Duke. For both programs, this is usually a measuring stick event to see where they rank vs. the rest of the field. In the past 27 seasons, either Duke or North Carolina have won the National Championship; accounting for 33.3 % of the National titles between the two programs.

Below are the top five games in no particular order

2/01/2001 85-83 Carolina

 

Notable Players:

UNC: Brendan Haywood,Ronald Curry,Julius Peppers ,

Duke: Shane Battier, Jay Williams, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Chris Duhon, Carlos Boozer

 

Future NBA bust Joseph Forte had 24 points and 16 assists to lead the Tar Heels to a win in Durham. Fans were robbed of an overtime game after Shane Battier inexplicably fouled Brendan Haywood going for a loose ball with 1.2 seconds left. Duke had just tied the game on a spectacular sequence that led to a Mike Dunleavy Jr. game-tying three with only 3 seconds left. Haywood (who had strangely enough had a chance to ice a game against Duke at Cameron Indoor 3 years earlier, but missed both free throws) connected on both attempts to win the game 85-83. Chris Duhon’s full court heave hit the back of the rim as time expired. 

 

2/2/1995 102-100 UNC in Double OT

 

Notable Players

UNC: Rasheed Wallace, Jerry Stackhouse, Dante Calebria, Jeff McGinnis, Donald Williams

Duke: Cherokee Parks, Trajan Langdon, Chris Collins

 

This is one of Duke’s worst teams (talent and record wise) in the Coach K era, but to be fair, Coach K was out that year due to back surgery. Although Langdon and Cherokee Parks both went on to have brief NBA careers, neither would make an impact on the next level. Despite the gap in talent, Duke made a game out of it, and somehow survived a barrage of legendary slam dunks by the Stackhouse and Wallace duo. Of course no Duke-UNC game is complete without some late game drama, and just when the Tarheels seemed to have things wrapped up, Jeff Capel hits a half court runner–at the buzzer– in the overtime period to send it to another overtime. Carolina would outscore Duke 7-5 in the additional OT period. Some consider this to be the greatest game in the rivalry, and having watched it live (and every other time it comes on television), I find it hard to disagree with this sentiment.

 

3/5/1994 UNC 87 Duke 77

 

Notable Players

Duke: Grant Hill, Cherokee Parks, Antonio Lang Duke

UNC: Rasheed Wallace, Jerry Stackhouse, Eric Montross, Derrick Phelps

 

Despite the score, this was a competitive game until the very end. It was tied for at 61-61 before Carolina took control of things. Grant Hill showed why he was a can’t miss lottery pick ; showing no weakness in his game. Back then, he was easily the most talented player that Duke had produced thus far, and at the time was their version of Michael Jordan as far as producing complete players. Duke could not find an answer for Rasheed Wallace (in only his third start),  and eventually the Blue Devils got worn down by the big front line of the Tarheels. The game clinching run by the Tarheels was stamped by a high flying alley oop dunk by Sheed, followed by a back breaking 3 pointer by Donald Williams.

 

02/05/2004 Duke 83-81 OT

 

Notable Players

Duke:Chris Duhon, J.J Redick, Luol Deng, Daniel Ewing, Shelden Williams

Carolina: Sean May, Raymond Felton, Jackie Manuel, Rashad McCants

 

Frequently referred to as the “Chris Duhon” game. Duke would have four players from this team go into the NBA (Shelden WIlliams would make it big in his own way by marrying WNBA beauty Candace Parker). Raymond Felton ended up as the best NBA prospect on this Carolina team full of Blue Chip Recruits. This back and forth affair would be punctuated by a gorgeous reverse layup by Chris Duhon after a game tying Rashad McCants 3 pointer to tie the game up with 13 seconds left. Duke led most of the overtime period until the McCants’ bucket. His three was almost an exact play by play of when Carolina’s Jawad Williams hit a game tying 3 pointer off a pump fake to send the game into overtime. It was just another unbelievable frantic endgame in college basketball’s best rivalry.

 

03/03/1984 96-83 Carolina in Double OT

 

Notable Players:

Duke: Johnny Dawkins, Jay Bilas, Tommy Amaker

UNC: Kenny Smith Michael Jordan Sam Perkins, Matt Doherty Brad Daugherty

 

This would go down as one of the most talented teams in UNC history, losing only 3 games total and going through the ACC regular season undefeated. Duke had a chance to escape Carmichael Auditorium with a win, but Matt Doherty’s jumper at the buzzer tied it up and sent it into overtime. By the second overtime, Duke was gassed and Carolina busted the game wide open. This did not diminish the excitement, as it would prove to be both Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins’ final games in Chapel Hill.

 

Historically, star power has always separated this rivalry from annual skirmishes of other college programs. Yet, for a number of years (probably starting around mid 2000’s) the star power just wasn’t there. When top pro prospects, R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson stepped onto the Durham campus in 2018, the buzz level was akin to the old 90’s classic games which featured players who were not only stars, but school legends. Both schools still get NBA talent, but the way college ball operates these days, fans don’t get to see the best players develop from year to year; eventually seeing their talent and maturity coalesce into strong senior seasons.

This never stopped the games from being competitive or exciting, however; up until the 2019-2020 season, the two teams had split the last 100 games 50-50; with each team scoring 7,746 points each. The first meeting of the 2019 season between these two resulted in a buzzer beater game winner for Duke that would make honorable mention if there weren’t at least 50 other games that were just as good;if not better. It was a good one too. Duke won 98-96 at the Dean Dome in overtime, and hit two buzzer beaters–one to send it to overtime, and the next one to take the game. There were some nice players–some will even make the NBA of course–unfortunately there were no monsters on either school’s roster, but it still had the DNA of a good ass game–which is almost always a guarantee when Duke plays Carolina.

 

BM

 

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found in the KDVS studios making on air playlists. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

From Runnin’ Horns to Kevin Durant to Mo Bamba

[The following is a chapter from my upcoming book, Tao of the Passing Big Man, and other essays. Due out if ,and when we survive this global pandemic.]

Tom Penders 

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To some (okay, maybe just me), Tom Penders is considered the godfather of UT basketball. Before he got to the program, the team averaged less than 5,000 fans a season in a town that was apathetic to anything beyond the football team. The school hired Tom Penders to be head coach and the team immediately went from 16 to 25 wins in one season. Most importantly, Penders implemented an uptempo offense (dubbed the Runnin’ Horns) that was fun to watch. During his tenure at UT, the team averaged 87 points a game, won three southwest conference titles and had 8 NCAA appearances. The average attendance doubled and the Runnin’ Horns won on an average of 20 games a season. Although his tenure ended in a less than satisfactory manner, Penders set up the program to get locally and nationally ranked players to at least take a look at the University of Texas; making it easier for successor Rick Barnes to take the basketball program to yet another level of success. Penders recruited mostly system players that played well during the regular season, but they usually lost to superior teams at certain points in the NCAA tournament.

Despite not having much post season success, Penders put UT Men’s basketball [before Penders arrived, if someone told you they were going to a UT basketball game, you just assumed they were talking about the nationally ranked women’s team coached by the legendary Jody Conrad.]on the map with their fun and loose style of run and gun basketball; became the second most watchable team in the Southwest Conference next to the Arkansas Razorbacks. Penders  ran his own version of Nellie ball starting 3 guards (B J. Tyler, Roderick Anderson, and Terrence Rencher)– starting his 5 best, fastest players instead of setting lineups based upon position.

[The only other school I remember trotting out a 3 guard lineup at that time was FSU with a starting backcourt of Bob Sura, Sam Cassell and Charlie Ward–all three would go on to play in the NBA.]

Penders finished his tenure at UT with a 228-110 record while having only 2 losing seasons (one of them his final season with the team;finishing at 14-17).

 

 

Rick Barnes

Things really took off nationally for the Longhorns when Rick Barnes took over the program (from 1998 to 2015). Barnes recruited two National Players of the Year( T.J. Ford and Kevin Durant) to play for the program (something that was not easy to do in Texas. Most high school basketball players left the state to play college ball), and sent a slew of others to the NBA. Despite making 16 NCAA tournament in his 17 seasons, Barnes was fired after a 20-14 final season and a second round tourney loss. Barnes’ tenure is looked at as an unprecedented success as a UT Men’s basketball coach; going 402-180 in his time in Austin. UT had even made the Final Four–their first since 1947– in 2003, and had a #1 national ranking for the first time in team history. images

 

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Shaka Smart

In 2015, University of Texas fired Rick Barnes and replaced him with former VCU head coach, Shaka Smart. Smart’s tenure has yet to deliver on some of the big expectations fans had for him and the program, but Smart has kept the team competitive and sent players to the professional leagues. The program however, has yet to make a real impact on a national level in quite a while(two NCAA tournament appearances in 5 years–both first round exits.

The good news is that the basketball program is no longer being treated like a stepchild and the team is due to get a new arena in 2021. I hear that it will seat 10,000 fans (which might be the exact number of basketball fans in Austin) As excited as I am, that UT is finally getting a basketball only venue, it disappoints me that its only just now happening. I figured this would’ve been in the works the minute Kevin Durant declared fort he NBA draft. Smart’s coaching record is a respectable 90-78 at UT, but it still feels like UT basketball is at a crossroads. Perhaps they will get a bigger profile new coach to match their new venue. 

 

Players of note from University of Texas

 

Tom Penders Era (1989-1998)

Travis Mays, Dexter Cambridge, BJ Tyler, Terrence Rencher, Chris Mihm

 

Rick Barnes Era (1999-2015)

Maurice Evans, Chris Owens, T.J. Ford, Royal Ivey, James Thomas, Lamarcus Aldridge, Daniel Gibson, P.J. Tucker, Kevin Durant, D.J. Augustin, Damion James, Dexter Pittman, Avery Bradley, Tristan Thompson, Jordan Hamilton, Cory Joseph, Myles Turner

 

Shaka Smart Era (2016-2020)

Isaiah Taylor, Jarrett Allen, Mo Bamba, Jaxson Hayes

 

 

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found in the KDVS studios making on air playlists. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

In Retrospect: Examining the 2007 NBA Draft First Round

[The following is a chapter from my upcoming book, Tao of the Passing Big Man, and other essays. Due out if and when we survive this global pandemic.]

The NBA draft is a fascinating social phenomenon. Front offices use it as an opportunity to pitch entice their team’s fan base to renew their season ticket packages (sometimes before the season is even over). Some fans use it as a beacon of hope for their favorite team and some players see the draft as a harbinger of what is to come for their own careers. 

A great draft can create a dynasty, a good one can extend it, and a bad draft can set a franchise back five to ten years. The line between bust and boom depends on two important factors: the health of a player and the health of a franchise. Would Steph Curry and Kawhi Leonard be the same kinds of players had they landed in Brooklyn or Indiana? Would we think of Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant the same had their careers started in Portland?

Sometimes it really is just a matter of a player landing in the right situation. Successful organizations invest in their draft picks and put them in situations to succeed. Not all superstars come into the league ready made; some need to be developed and coached and polished into the diamonds they eventually become.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Veterans carry value within the locker room as well as on the court. As is in life, sometimes its all about meeting the right people to help steer you in the right direction. But NBA success isn’t guaranteed. For every Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Butler, there are tons of players who eat themselves out of the league, have substance abuse problems, and even cases of mental illness. The NBA draft is a crapshoot, and some organizations were good, some bad, and others were just plain (un) lucky.

In this chapter we examine a few select draft classes–ones which altered the league indefinitely–that were springboards to some franchises success and doomed others to being league doormats. These drafts were full of generational talent that changed the league for years to come. Some teams set themselves up to contend for the decade, while other teams set themselves up for failure. You can take a look and see from the drafts which teams trended where.

                                                     2007 First Round

  1. Greg Oden C, Portland
16. Nick Young SG Wizards
2. Kevin Durant F, Seattle 17. Sean Williams PF New Jersey
3. Al Horford C Atlanta 18. Marco Bellinelli SG Golden State
4. Mike Conley Jr. PG Memphis 19. Jarvis Crittenton PG Los Angeles Clippers
5. Jeff Green SF Boston (Traded to Seattle) 20. Jason Smith PF Miami (traded to Philadelphia)
6. Yi Jianlin PF Milwaukee 21. Daequan Cook SG Philadelphia (traded to Miami)
7. Corey Brewer SF Minnesota 22. Jared Dudley SF Charlotte
8. Brandon Wright PF Charlotte (traded to Golden State) 23. Wilson Chandler SF New York
9. Joakim Noah C Chicago 24. Rudy Fernandez SG Phoenix (traded to Portland)
10. Spencer Hawes C Sacramento  25. Morris Almond SG Utah
11. Acie Law G Atlanta 26. Aaron Brooks PG Houston
12. Thaddeus Young PF Philadelphia 27. Arron Afflalo SG Detroit
13. Julian Wright SF New Orleans 28. Tiago Splitter C San Antonio
14. Al Thornton SF Los Angeles Clippers 29. Alando Tucker SF Phoenix
15. Rodney Stuckey SG, Pistons

 

All Stars 

Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Marc Gasol, Joakim Noah

 

Notable Role players Drafted This Round

Ramon Sessions,Glen “Big Baby” Davis,Carl Landry,Arron Afflalo,Aaron Brooks,Tiago Splitter,Rudy Fernandez,Wilson Chandler,Jared Dudley,Daquan Cook,Rodney Stuckey,Nick Young,Thaddeus Young,Spencer Hawes,Corey Brewer,Jeff Green,Joakim Noah, Marco Bellinelli,

 

First Round Busts

Greg Oden, Wright, Javaris Crittendon, Brandon Wright, Yi Janlian

 

Steal of the draft: Marc Gasol with the 48th pick. Gasol turned into an All NBA defender, and was a key mid season trade acquisition for the 2019 Champion Toronto Raptors. He along with Mike Conley became the cornerstones of the “Grit N Grind” era Grizzlies.

 

Notable Undrafted: Anthony Tolliver, Gary Neal, Joel Anthony

 

NBA Champions 

Kevin Durant (2017,2018) Tiago Splitter (2014) Glen Davis (2008) Marco Bellinelli (2014) Corey Brewer(2011) Marc Gasol (2019) Nick Young (2018) Joel Anthony (2012,2013)

 

Draft Day Notes :

 

  • Mike Conley is one of the few top 5 picks to never make an All Star Team and not be considered a bust. Conley is like a NFL quarterback without any weapons on offense. The only players that Conley ever had to help him on offense have been Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. If I were coaching a young point guard, I would make them watch countless hours of Mike Conley game footage to help them understand how to run an offense. There are few point guards in the league who can control an offense as efficiently as Mike Conley Jr. Conley also had the misfortune of playing in the West (why isn’t Memphis in the Eastern Conference?) during the point god renaissance and was always overlooked in favor of Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Steph Curry, Tony Parker, and Chris Paul. Now pretty much washed, Conley may never get his true due as a high level point guard. 
  • Portland–not understanding they were doomed to repeat team history–passed on a generational talent in the draft to select a player based on need–and again it was a big man who never got his career off the ground in the way a number one draft pick is expected to perform. Greg Oden didn’t even stay in the league as long 1984 pick Sam Bowie. Oden had 3 micro-fracture surgeries on his knees in a five year period and was unable to stay healthy enough to make an impact on his Blazers’ teams success. He played fine when he could play, averaging almost  a double-double in his first two seasons. Durant of course became an all world player, winning Olympics medals, scoring titles, ten All star game appearances,  a league MVP, and 2 Finals MVP’s on the way to two championships–not to mention millions of dollars in endorsements.
  • If it were true what Portland apologists say–that the Trailblazers didn’t need another wing player; they needed a rim protector in the paint, then the proper selection of that particular draft would’ve been Al Horford (in hindsight). Portland could’ve easily swapped picks with the Atlanta Hawks and still gotten Horford without paying him as the number one pick in the draft. Who is to say that anyone could’ve foreseen Oden having injury problems? I certainly didn’t, but I’d watched enough ball that season to see that Oden’s body might not be able to handle his frame. Even I could see that there might be some problems, especially with him already missing most of his freshman year with a broken hand. Although, to be fair, he was a monster on the defensive end of the court when he played at Ohio State.On the other hand, Portland could’ve had a front line of AL Horford, Lamarcus Aldridge, and Nicolas Batum, with Joel Pryzbilla, Channing Frye, Travis Outlaw, and Rudy Fernandez coming off the bench. Oh yeah, by the way, Brandon Roy was the starting point guard. Blazers went 54-28 that season and finished 2nd in the Pacific Division to the West champion Los Angeles Lakers, but maybe they actually make a deep run instead getting knocked out in the first round to the Houston Rockets. There is no telling how far a big 3 of Aldridge, Horford, and Roy would have taken them during that Brandon Roy era.  Portland would continue to make the playoffs, only to be formidable playoff opponents that ultimately fell in the first round–their win total decreasing each season. Eventually, head coach Nate McMillan would lose his job, and the Blazers would miss the playoffs two consecutive seasons. In short, that blown lottery pick set the team back half a decade, and it took drafting Weber State’s Damien Lillard (after Brandon Roy’s degenerative knee condition forced him to retire early) to turn the franchise around again.
  • Jeff Green got traded to the SuperSonics that night, but Boston came calling again years later, when they broke up their mini-dynasty and traded defensive specialist Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green. Boston would never got back to the NBA Finals after trading Perkins; falling again and again to the Lebron James led Miami Heat.

 

And the Winner is: 

Oklahoma City. They pulled off the heist of the century in stealing an entire NBA franchise (with the help of David Stern)  and moving them to the midwest. Kevin Durant would become the face of the franchise, and OKC would end up with two more lottery picks that would become league MVP’s (more on that later). Seattle to this day still doesn’t have an NBA team, and the league is worse off for not having teams in Vancouver and Seattle. Maybe that will change by the time this book is published. One can only hope.

BM

 

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found in the KDVS studios making on air playlists. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

 

KU vs UT:Rivalry or Revelry?

[The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Tao of the Passing Big Man, and other basketball essays; coming out someday if we ever survive this global pandemic]

Texas vs. Kansas provided fans with not only some of the most entertaining games of not only the Big 12, but in the nation.

One of the consequences of the formation of the Big 12 in 1996, was that it combined the strengths of the Big Eight and Southwest conference and covered up some of the weakness. Annual football powerhouses like Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A& M were able to pitch recruits on marquee games against in conference foes, while Kansas could continue its reign as basketball overlords (having won 43 outright conference titles with the next closest being Kansas State with 17).

Kansas would continue its dominance in the new conference even going undefeated with an all time great team in 2002 (being the first and only team to do so, so far). Although Kansas has won 17 of the last 21 titles (including 12 straight before the 2018-2019 season), there have been years where other schools were able to give them a run for their money; most notably, the University of Texas. 

At UT’s best, (during the T.J. Ford and Kevin Durant years) this matchup produced some of the most memorable games the conference and nation had ever seen. The reason these games were so memorable is that they had star power on both teams, with future NBA players in each game. Although Texas lost all four games, the quality of the games were so high, that even Kansas fans walked away with respect for how those Texas teams competed. T.J. Ford once remarked on Twitter that the 2003 game in Allen was unforgettable, and one of the most intense games he’d ever took part in. 

As of today, Kansas leads the series 33-9 and since the 2013-2014, Kansas has won 11 of 12 meetings. Que Lastima! It could’ve been something beautiful. It could’ve been a Big 12 rivalry, but in the Big 12, Kansas has no rival (and don’t say Kansas State; that’s more emotion than execution). 

 

Kansas at Texas February 11, 2002 

Kansas over Texas 110-103 OT

This high octane game featured the two highest ranked recruits at their position in Jayhawks’ point guard, Aaron Miles and the Longhorn’s T.J. Ford. It was a point guard clinic. This game got up to 100’s as Kansas finally prevailed in overtime 110-103. It was one of the best games I’d ever attended live, with both teams going up and down the court. T.J. Ford was already making his case as one of the best point guards in the nation, taking the precise amount of dribbles necessary to advance the ball and always throwing his passes in a place where teammates could either shoot it or make a basketball move. He was fundamentally sound and a good defender. 

Miles had the luxury of playing with three All American players in Drew Gooden, Kirk Hinrich, and Nick Collison. In addition to those guys, he had sharpshooter Jeff Boschee, and off the bench came Wayne Simien, Michael Lee and Keith Langford. Texas at the time was no slouch with James Thomas, Brandon Mouton, and Brian Boddicker on their side, and arguably one of the nation’s best perimeter defenders in future NBA role player, Royal Ivey. 

This game featured some impeccably run fast breaks, high flying alley oops, great defensive plays, and efficient offensive possessions, punctuated by a game tying jumper at 0:31 seconds in layup by Royal Ivey to send the game into overtime. At the time it was the loudest game I’d ever attended. The Frank Erwin Center was at 94 % capacity that night , at least half the crowd were Jayhawks fans. Seeing the Jayhawk faithful devotion and passion to their team (some people had driven down to Austin that day and were driving back to Lawrence immediately afterwards) piqued my interest, and the seed was planted to one day see a game at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas

Footnotes:

  • Aaron Miles 10 points, 13 assists
  • T.J. Ford 16 points, 11 assists
  • Brandon Mouton had 25 pts , 9-17 FG for UT
  • Wayne Simien had 17 points, 10 rebounds (7-9 field goals)
  • Jeff Boschee 21 pts, 6-13 (3 pt)
  • Drew Gooden 28 points, 7 boards on 12/23 shooting
  • Texas forward Brian Boddicker 19 points for UT (4-8 3 pt)
  • Kansas more than 50 points in the paint and 4 out of timeout plays that resulted in lobs at the rim (This was also the first time I’d seen the front court high-lo run to perfection with Drew Gooden and Nick Collison). 
  • UT Power Forward James Thomas 14 pts, 12 rebounds
  • Nick Collison had 5 points, 2 key rebounds and 1 assist in the last 6 minutes of play (regulation and OT combined)
  • Kansas at the time of this game was 53-0 all time when scoring 100 plus points
  • Kansas guard Aaron Miles almost ended the game in regulation when he missed potential game winning jumper at the buzzer
  • Texas had five players in double figures of scoring while Kansas had six
  • This game also featured 5 players who all ranked in the previous season as the top 100 high school recruits, point guards T.J. Ford (#10) and Aaron Miles(#11), and forwards, Wayne Simien(#67), and Keith Langford(#41).
  • Basketball fans were robbed of a NCAA tournament rematch between these two teams when UT lost to Oregon 70-72 in the Sweet Sixteen round. It would’ve been a memorable Elite Eight for all parties involved. 

 

Texas at Kansas January 27th, 2003: The Nick Collison game

Texas 87-Kansas 90

This Big Monday rematch (featuring two top 5 teams) did not disappoint. It was fast paced, up and down and a very intense crowd in Allen Fieldhouse. Playing on four fouls, Nick Collison took over down the stretch drawing a standing ovation from announcer Dick Vitale. T.J. Ford put up 25 points and had 10 assists. Aaron Miles put up 15 and 9 assists, Kirk Hinrich had 25 points as well, but it was Collison who put up an unforgettable 24 points and 23 rebounds; scoring in every way possible to put the team on his back. A # 3 ranked Texas squad came to Lawrence and gave the struggling Jayhawks all they could handle (Kansas had lost their previous 2 games making this matchup a must win). Texas had two chances at the end to tie the game (Kansas didn’t make their free throws–something that would continue to haunt them all year) and send it to overtime with 2 missed desperation three pointers before the buzzer sounded. This would be the last time head coaches Rick Barnes and Roy Williams would face off as Big 12 opponents.

 

March 3, 2007 Texas at Kansas Kevin Durant comes to Lawrence 

Texas 86-Kansas 90

 

One of this generation’s most fantastic phenoms came to basketball’s most hallowed court and left his mark. Kansas overcame a 16 point deficit as Kevin Durant scored 25 first half points to open the game (he would finish the game with 32 points). He had lots of help from his teammates. Damion James chipped in 12 points, A.J. Abrams had 18 points, and D.J. Augustin scored 19 points and dished out 13 assists. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, they only had 8 offensive rebounds compared to Kansas 13, and Texas only had 2 points all game from their bench. Despite all that, they almost came away with a W, and probably would’ve if not for an injury to Kevin Durant’s ankle with less than 11 minutes left in the game (keep in mind that KU was up at the time 71-67 when this occurred).

Texas jumped out to a 16 point lead, lost it in the second half but fought back at the end to get within three points. Julian Wright made an unbelievable block on D.J. Augustin’s 3 point attempt to tie the game. Wright would finish the game with 17 points, 13 rebounds 6 assists and 5 blocks.

What is most notable about this game was the sheer volume of NBA bound players who played. Brandon Rush, Julian Wright, Mario Chalmers, Sasha Kaun, and Darrell Arthur, and for Texas, D.J. Augustin, and Kevin Durant (Damien James and Dexter Pittman had cups of coffee in the league too).*(Keep in mind that Lamarcus Aldridge, Daniel Gibson, and P.J. Tucker all left school early for the NBA. Imagine the hype around this game had they still had those guys on the roster.)* 

Although it would not go into overtime like the Big 12 tournament championship game, the overall quality of play was better. Because it was in Lawrence–a college atmosphere not an over-sized arena–both teams played better overall in this match-up to decide the Big 12 regular season champion. This would prove to be the peak of these two basketball programs contesting each other.

2007 Big 12 Championship Tournament game (Durant gets a glimpse into his future)

Texas 84 at Kansas 88

The second meeting had the intensity of their first meeting, but lacked the efficiency and execution, as both teams were clearly exhausted going into their game at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant had little help scoring outside of A.J. Abrams’ 19 points. The team collectively shot 38 % and would’ve been blown out had it not been for Kevin Durant’s 37 points (12-30 shooting) 10 rebounds and 6 blocks. Kansas with its five future NBA players on the roster, had four guys score in double figures. In a harbinger of what was to come for Kansas (the next season), Chalmers hit a game tying 3 pointer off a dribble hand-off play to send it into overtime. Texas (again) jumped out to a solid lead, but couldn’t quite hold on. There were only 14 points scored total during overtime as Kansas just outlasted Texas despite Mario Chalmers fouling out at the end of regulation.  

That particular Kansas team would would go on to lose to UCLA in the Elite Eight, while Texas would get knocked out in the second round of the NCAA tournament by Nick Young, Taj Gibson and the USC Trojans. Neverthless, Kansas and Texas have never been able to recapture the magic that college hoops fans witnessed in the early to mid 2000’s. Despite sending numerous guys to the NBA, Texas hit a level of mediocrity that cost Rick Barnes his job after almost another decade.  Kansas would continue to dominate the league to this day, not missing a beat with head coach Bill Self who would parlay his success at Kansas into a Hall of Fame coaching career. Losing only Julian Wright the following season, Kansas would go on to march to the Final Four and beat Memphis in the title game; taking Self only 5 seasons to win a national championship at KU. 

 

BM

Before He was the GOAT: Excerpt from Tao of The Passing Big Man, and other Essays

The following is a chapter from my upcoming book, Tao of the Passing Big Man, and other essays. Due out if and when we survive this global pandemic. 

 

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“When I first saw Michael play, I recognized there was a different era coming in. In my time, I believe the best all around player has been Magic Johnson. The best defensive player has been Michael Cooper. And in a few more years Michael Jordan will be the best player there ever was.”

Larry Bird excerpt from his autobiography, “Drive”

Even though Michael Jordan spent his final two seasons playing for the Washington Wizards, many fans’ lasting impression of number 23 is his jump shot over Bryon Russell as a Chicago Bull. It is easy to get blinded by the flashy dunks and dizzying highlights. Sure MJ had the Gatorade commercials, and the Nike and McDonald’s advertisements because he was such an exciting player to watch, but the reason Michael Jordan is held in such high reverence is because he really was the “Greatest of All Time”.

We can talk about his 6-0 record in the NBA Finals and six Finals MVP’s, his five regular season MVP’s, his ten scoring titles, and 14 All-Star appearances, but many people forget that he was also the best defensive player at his position. Jordan made First Team All-Defensive in nine of his seasons, led the league in steals three times, and during his 1988 campaign when he averaged 32 points per game, he was the defensive player of the year.

Before Michael Jordan’s ascent, the NBA was ruled by big men. Giants like Lew Alcindor, Bill Russell, and Wilt Chamberlain (and George Mikan before them) dominated the game. It was a conventional belief around the league that in order to win NBA titles consistently, you had to have a fixture at the center position to anchor your team. At 6’6, Jordan not only defied these conventions, he changed the league entirely; sparking the shift to a league full of wings and guards beating their defenders en route to gravity defying dunks.

Before he was hitting iconic game winning shots against Utah and Cleveland, he was hitting game winning jumpers to win NCAA games against Georgetown, Duke, NC State, and Maryland.

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Jordan himself says that there would be no Michael Jordan without Dean Smith. Jordan says that after his parents, Dean Smith left the biggest imprint on who he became. Many ignorantly say that Dean Smith was the only man who could hold Jordan under 20 points, but he averaged 20 his sophomore year in college, and his junior year he hit 19.6 points per game (There was no shot clock or 3 point line back then either for what it is worth).

 

Early criticisms of Jordan’s NBA career was that he was a great scorer, but couldn’t get his teammates involved. Although this was warranted, looking back it was hard to blame him. Jordan had a better basketball coach, and better teammates (even better workout facilities) at Chapel Hill than he did during his early years in the NBA. At North Carolina, Jordan played with future Hall of Famer James Worthy (the 1982 NCAA Tourney Most Outstanding player with 28 points in the championship game on 13 of 17 shooting), Jimmy Black, Sam Perkins, Matt Doherty, Kenny Smith (2 time NBA Champion), and Brad Daugherty (5 time NBA All Star). 

At Carolina, Jordan had arguably most talent he’d ever play with in the 1982 and 1984 seasons, and his passing skills really showed– he almost always made the correct basketball play even back then. It was at North Carolina where he mastered the fundamentals of passing, rebounding, moving without the ball, and defending. Not only did Jordan have Dean Smith as his head coach, but during the Jordan era, Coach Smith had an impeccable roster of assistant coaches in Eddie Fogler, Roy Williams (the man credited with recruiting Jordan), and Bill Gutheridge.

The Media and today’s fans like to debate, who was the greatest MJ, Kobe, or Lebron like hip hop fans used to argue Biggie, Jay-Z, or Nas. But there is no debate. Kobe Bryant (R.I.P.) was a notorious ball hog (who was actually a really good passer when he wanted to be one) who could be goaded into taking a slew of bad shots under the right circumstances (shooting the Lakers out of the 2004 and 2008 Finals). Although Lebron will amass many gaudy stats and break a lot of records, many fans will point to his six losses in the NBA Finals, and proclivity to play “too passive” in key situations early on in his playoff career (we might be having an entirely different conversation today about Lebron if not for a historic collapse by the Golden State Warriors in 2016, and a Ray Allen clutch 3 pointer in 2013).

In short, Kobe may have been too selfish offensively and Lebron may not have been selfish enough. Michael (if I may be so bold to call him by his first name) was the perfect balance of the two, as one can point to his willingness to take over games when needed or make the game winning pass; as seen in the 1993 and 1997 Finals to John Paxson, and then Steve Kerr.

There was no weakness to Jordan’s game. He was a prolific scorer, a lockdown defender, and an underrated passer. He could drive to the basket and smack the ball into the defender’s face after posterizing them, or stop short and loft a floater in the lane, or he could just beat people by shooting over them from long distance.

Looking at both Lebron and Kobe’s careers, it makes you wonder what would their careers been like had they even played at least one year in college. Kobe would’ve played at Duke for Coach K, instead of Del Harris, and Lebron would’ve played for Thad Motta at Ohio State instead of the legendary Paul Silas. It seems petty to even speculate how much “better” two of the most elite players of their generations could’ve been (as I write this, I’m actually realizing that Kobe went to 7 NBA Finals in the span of a decade), but its necessary to illustrate the gap between those two first ballot HOF players and Michael Jeffrey Jordan.

It is a completely different conversation (for what it is worth, Kobe came pretty damn close) when you are talking about Jordan, and if you weren’t around to see him play in the 90’s then its not easy to understand. Statistics won’t tell the whole story about how truly dominant Jordan was and why he is is the elite among the elite. I think the biggest difference between Jordan, Kobe and Lebron, is that neither Lebron; nor Kobe had the tutelage of Dean Smith and Jordan did.

Jordan’s early development at the collegiate game was a direct testament to picking the right college and the right college coach in Dean Smith; who many consider the best teacher of the game in his time. Jordan most certainly would’ve still been the athletic freak that you see in his vintage highlight clips, but mentally and fundamentally, he may not have hit his apex had he gone to any other school in the country.

Former Tarheel, Kenny Smith, once said that “Michael Jordan was Dean Smith if Dean Smith still played basketball” and “that rarely do you see a player be the best athlete in a sport and be the most fundamentally sound.” Jordan was both. Oh yeah, (Kenny) Smith said that Jordan never took a bad shot. Think about that for a minute.

Quite often people reference the game winning jumper that Jordan hit during the 1982 championship game against Georgetown as if that told the whole story. Michael Jordan had 16 points on 7 of 13 shooting, but he also had 9 key rebounds, 2 steals and 2 steals. Even then, Jordan was focused on becoming a complete player. If he were just a scorer, he would’ve found it hard to even get off the bench during a championship game as a freshman, making it highly unlikely for a young player in that situation to find himself taking the game winning shot.

As for that game winning jumper, even Jordan admits that is when everything changed for him. He is quoted as saying “after that shot, he went from being Mike, to Michael Jordan”, and the rest as they say, is basketball history.

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Illustration by “Sweet” Lou Eastman

 

 

BM

 

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found in the KDVS studios making on air playlists. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com