Being labeled a “winner” may be as damning of a label as you can get from someone. Maybe even worse than “loser.” At least being a loser gives you an opportunity to rise up and become a winner. But being a capital-W Winner means there’s nowhere else to go, and everybody wants to be where you are. It’s no surprise then that so many with that label seem to drop off so fast. When you’re drafted to an NBA team with that label, you’re expected to bring the “winning attitude” with you, and make everybody else winners.
It’s illogical, and it’s resulted in a lot of players being mentioned for their college achievements and not their pro career. Let’s be real, it’s about how you play with the big boys. Is it any wonder that so many young men only go for one year of college? It isn’t just about the money. It’s about getting money while you still can; while expectations are low, and people will give you more time (and more contracts).
Of course, many of the best players in this league came straight out of high school, and none of them wake up in a cold sweat wondering what would life be like if they won a national title in college. You want to be Bobby Hurley, Christian Laettner, or Corey Brewer? No. You’d surely prefer the life of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, or Dwight Howard. Read more…
A few weeks ago I predicted Kemba Walker would be this season’s Rookie of the Year. Much has happened since. Ricky Rubio emerged to torture both defenses and a few impatient general managers, Kyrie Irving started on Day 1 with a refusal to look back, and a slew of pleasant surprises (Norris Cole, MarShon Brooks, Markieff Morris, Jon Leuer, Chandler Parsons, and Kawhi Leonard to name a few) rose from their respective benches, grasping to steal a majority of the headlines away. But the race is far from over, and there’s still time for Kemba to shine.
Saturday night he saw the first start of his career, and the performance was quite marvelous. 39 minutes, 23 points on 8-14 shooting (2-4 from deep), 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and 0 turnovers. Charlotte won the game by 12 points, and Kemba was a central reason why. Stat lines like this aren’t expected each and every night, but let it be said, crossovers like the one seen above most certainly are.
[SPOILER ALERT] The First Annual Shaky Ankles NBA Season Preview will be posted later today, and Kemba Walker may or may not walk away with some preseason hardware. I won’t get too in depth with what I think might happen right now, but Walker’s situation seems to be the most enabling, and that’s all you can really ask for when trying to win Rookie of the Year. Opportunities will be aplenty on a team that should spend more time analzying its young talent than actually trying to win basketball games.
With that out of the way, onto this move. As far as hesitation dribbles go, it might be the quickest I’ve ever seen.
Being that my calendar says “March”, it’s only right to include a college basketball shimmy or two. This one came down in the Big East Tournament’s quarterfinals matchup between Pittsburgh and Connecticut, by way of Player of the Year candidate Kemba Walker. Drawing the NBA into this discussion, I’m not sure how Walker’s game fits into the pro level. With the 2011 draft class looking thinner than Nina Sayers, the junior phenom should hopefully find some lottery love. He’s a blur with the ball, but listed at a short 6’1″ which poses more questions than answers for general managers looking to snag a difference maker. Can he run a team? Can he make plays for his teammates? Can he get to the line? I’m not sure the answers stack up optimistically for Walker right now, but who cares? It’s March! Let Kemba have his moment in the sun. It’s a pleasure watching him make plays like the one above; enjoy this while it lasts.