Where Damon Stoudamire gets his pot.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Players I Shouldn't Like: Part I

For those of you who have tried to comment on any posts but couldn't because you didn't have a Blogger ID, I just turned that off. Anyone can now comment. Thus, comment away!

There's a lot of talk about playing the 'right' way.

Whether mentioned by commentators, coaches, or players, the 'right' way to play is an admittedly vague way of putting things. The best professional basketball players are aware of this vague set of rules but cause the unidentified framework of proper play to bend within their skill-set.

In other words: You can't break the rules unless you know them.

Lebron barrels through the lane like a reckless animal and tucks the ball in his side like a running back penetrating the defensive line. Kobe calls his own number with time running out, often passing up the opportunity of passing to an open teammate. I'm not sure where either of these fall under the 'right' way, but the game concedes to style.

For most professional players they'd get yanked if they pulled half the shenanigans of a Kobe or Amare. Think back to high school: most of us were benched for taking an ill-advised three, whereas the top couple players had free reign of the court. Granted these top-tier guys make unbelievable plays, but on the flipside they're given the opportunity to test the boundaries of the spectacular. Most aren't.

This will be an ongoing series for those other players.

Lebron scored 41 last night. His execution is a lesson in monotony. Give me an unbridled Al Thornton or a trigger-happy Nate Robinson any day of the week.

First up is Ricky Davis, or what I'll dub Player With Nice Stats But Always Plays on Shitty Teams.

You know a guy is not playing the 'right' way when his most memorable professional moment came from shooting on his own net and retrieving the rebound for the purpose of notching his first career triple-double. (Jerry Sloan was one anger management class away from sprinting on the court and clothes-lining Ricky.)

But I follow Davis for other reasons.

He is the only NBA player to dunk after putting the ball through his legs, during an NBA game. (Lebron did it in high school, Josh Smith in international competition, but only Davis possessed the testicular fortitude to pull such a stunt in-game.) The tales of Davis's clubbing history should be published by Random House, or at the very least influence some Penthouse Forum letters. Plus, the dude can flat-out score with the best of them.

For a long time I've been attracted to players who can catch fire, who for a five minute stretch reach levels of offensive excellence unparalleled at that very moment. And Ricky Davis, throughout his career, has proved that he can get hot.

He does not play the 'right' way. He may not even care about winning. But he's part of a small group of basketball players on the planet who could notch 40 on a whim and infuriate his coach at the same time.

Truth is, Davis' game is not nearly as selfish as it seems (or maybe he's matured) and far more well-rounded than that of your typical gunner (ahem, Ben Gordon).

But, without fail, Davis finds himself on yet another underachieving team (the Los Angeles Clippers) where he'll pick up stats, inevitably partake in the club scene, and launch into summer break around the same time as college kids. In his own way he makes consistency pretty damn exciting.

And, of course, there is this video, which adds to the Davis lore:

No comments: