It has been a long time since I heard a professional basketball player blame the ball for a poor performance. As a matter of fact, it has been eight years since the league switched to the synthetic rock and then ditched it for the original leather.
Strangely enough, the newest criticism of equipment is coming in reverse — and from someone who is yet to log any real league minutes.
“My biggest thing is getting comfortable with that basketball,” said Miami Heat draftee Shabazz Napier to the AP. “That’s one of my biggest problems and it’s kind of ironic, because it’s a basketball. But it’s different than a college basketball.”
The young point guard is definitely not the only rookie who struggled during the Summer League, but he’s certainly the only NBA freshman to publicly blame the type of ball for it. This may or may not be actual code for it’s going to be hard to live up to the pressure of being LeBron James’ handpicked guy who was left behind.
Regardless of what Napier’s excuses are, he has to be better than 27.5 percent shooting from the field and 38 turnovers in nine games.
There’s too much riding on the former University of Connecticut star to be good. That’s particularly true when his performances could be used as reason to leverage Norris Cole’s contract for a complementary big or extra scoring insurance for Dwyane Wade’s faulty knees.
Adjustments are just another part of the game, but Napier’s future with the Heat could take a hit if him and Mr. Spalding cannot get on the same page.