5 NBA Players Who Have Run Out of Excuses
5 Players Who Have Just About Run Out Of Excuses
Excuses are a common thing these days, but they are still about as socially acceptable in the business world as wearing underwear on the outside of clothing. But when it comes to some of our favorite professional athletes excuses are a way of life. They are often a buffer between what we want them to be, what they say they are, and who they really are as players. To be certain, reasons and excuses are not interchangeable but they are distant cousins.
A severe injury, for example, is a clear reason as to why a player might miss a game or not be able to perform to the standard we are used to seeing him perform at. But it is very difficult for the fan to figure out which is which at times. Yet we are to spend our hard earned money on athletes whose performances steadily decrease as their salaries increase?
Fans of the NBA brand of basketball remember the infamous Michael Jordan flu game versus the Utah Jazz in the 1997 NBA Finals, Willis Reed's Game 7 appearance in the 1970 NBA Finals against the mighty Los Angeles Lakers, and Isiah Thomas' 25-point third quarter burst against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1988 Finals, while playing on a severely sprained ankle. With all the Herculean efforts fans have witnessed in this league people are used to seeing the very best persevere over insurmountable odds. I feel like it is high time to call out some folks on this one-those who have not have not displayed anything near that type of fortitude.
Those listed here are players and one franchise whose excuses are just about up. This slideshow is a list of several NBA players and one organization who have not lived up to their potential in the past and their excuses as to their incessant mediocrity have completely run out. The only thing that is stopping them from living up to their potential this season -- barring injury of course -- is themselves.
Ricardo A. Hazell is a freelance writer based in New York City. You may follow him on Twitter at NikosMightyDad or add him to your network on Google Plus.
5. SF Evan Turner
Philadelphia is a hard town for any professional athlete to play in and that goes double for lottery picks. Ever since SF Evan Turner was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers fans and prognosticators have been screaming about how big of a mistake the Sixers had made by drafting him second overall in the 2010 NBA draft. Every mistake he makes provides additional fuel for their ever growing bonfire of insanity. But I see in Turner a talented small forward with point guard passing ability and a player whose development was somewhat stunted by the team dynamic as well.
Initially he split minutes with SF Andre Igoudola -- a player with whom Turner shares several skills, with Iggy as the better defender and not as good a shooter. Last year PG Jrue Holiday was the catalyst on offense and, being the type of player who likes to pound the ball, would simply make plays on his own. He was the point guard and the best weapon they had at the time.
Turner also has great passing ability and court vision but was sometimes just standing around on the baseline or on the perimeter while Holiday did his thing. I always believed he would flourish when allowed to be ball dominant. This season, aside from PG Michael Carter-Williams, Evan Turner is clearly the best passer the Sixers have and he will be asked to score more as well. There's no faster eraser of the bust label than to put up prime time numbers on a bad team. It's not a permanent fix, but it would be a step in the right direction -- one of better numbers. The Sixers may stink this year, but you gotta get yours Evan. A repeat of last year's numbers (13 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game) are unacceptable.
4. PF Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin is an incredibly gifted athlete in a game where athletic bigs are a cherished commodity. He also has a larger than life personality that endears him to the elderly, small children and puppies. But winning in the NBA has nothing to do with being Mr. Congeniality. Griffin has suffered through his fair share of injuries during his short career, but injuries aren't what led him to be manhandled and ridiculed by PF Zack "Z-Bo" Randolph during the Los Angeles Clippers' playoff duel against the gritty Memphis Grizzlies.
It's the belief of some that he simply does not take the game seriously enough to improve and that his physique belies his disdain for contact in the paint. His image just gives NBA goons what they need to beat him up. The only way Griffin can remove that bulls-eye on his back is by playing a full season of relatively injury free basketball, going deep in the playoffs and winning. Hopefully he has become more proficient playing with his back to the basket and has put in more work on the mid-range jumper. What big man who has ever lived would not want to play with Chris Paul? Added bonus, he now has an NBA championship-winning head coach in Doc Rivers to help guide him and another season running the lane for PG Chris Paul -- the best point guard in the business. No excuses.
3. C Andrew Bynum
First it was because he was too young and immature, then it was because he didn't want to play with Kobe and was sulking. After that it was because both of his knees were injured at one point or another during the 2012-13 season. Now what will it be? Andrew Bynum has been selling dreams and practically stealing money for over a year.
Though his potential is limitless how long are his teammates and fans supposed to wait? All the surgery is supposed to be over by now, and Bynum has been cleared to participate in basketball activities but has not played a preseason game with the Cavs. It would be a joy to see him and Kyrie Irving be the future of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Bynum playing 65 games this season would go a long way toward bringing that future to pass.
2. C Dwight Howard
I don't know what it is about Kobe Bryant that makes some of the world's most imposing men get all into their feelings to the extent that rapper Drake would be envious, but Howard is yet another casualty of number 24's constant demand for greatness from his teammates. Howard came to the Lakers as part of a four team deal that sent then Laker big man Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers. In the beginning Howard was dealing with a litany of injuries and was understandably less productive than he normally would be, but it was soon revealed that Dwight didn't like to be pushed or prodded into productivity.
Especially not from someone who is as obsessed about winning as Kobe Bryant. Now Howard with the Houston Rockets and a cast that is ready made for a deep run in the playoffs. He has his team, a team that seems far more laid back than the legacy-laden Lakers, a new fan base with which to laugh and joke, and a coach who knows the riggers of being a talented big man in HOFer Kevin McHale. His bed is made; now let's see how well he lays in it.
1. Franchise Out of Excuses: Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves have been an enormous disappointment to me. Year in and year out the franchise struggles to find its identity and is practically eliminated from any mathematical possibility of making the playoffs on New Year's Day. The team has been without PF Kevin Love for much of the prior two seasons, but they do have other guys.
It is not as if the franchise doesn't know how to draft. They have drafted PG Ricky Rubio, SF Derrick Williams, C Nikola "General Zod" Pekovic and had Andrei Kirilenko on the roster last year as well. JJ Barea is no scrub, nor was Chase Budinger. So what gives? The next person that says it's because they're too white will be tracked down and summarily smacked silly with a frozen loaf of Wonder bread. Their best season in five years was last season when they finished finishing 20 games below .500. Breaking even this season would be a great start. Not asking for a title, or even the playoffs. Just...break...even.