Justin Termine recaps the third week of the NBA season.

FEELING SORE ABOUT DERRICK ROSE

I’ve spoken to several former players over the last few years about Derrick Rose, both on and off the record.  Both on and off the record, there is no questioning how good he is as a player, but both on and off the record there is plenty of questioning about his mindset.  Those questions became even more widespread this past week when he said:

 

I know a lot of people get mad when they see me sit out or whatever, but I think a lot of people don’t understand that … when I sit out it’s not because of this year.  I’m thinking about long term. I’m thinking about after I’m done with basketball. Having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to, I don’t want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son’s graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past. [I’m] just learning and being smart.”

 

This isn’t Derrick Rose looking out for the Bulls, looking out for his teammates, or worried about doing what’s best for a League or organization that pays him an annual salary of more than 16-million dollars.  This is Derrick Rose looking out for only himself.

 

I can understand in the NFL when players are hesitant to take the field or continue their careers when battling concussions.  Concussions affect your mind, your speech, and perhaps your lifespan.  If you suffer enough concussions you may not be able to speak to your son at his graduation.  No matter how many knee surgeries, you’ll still be able to speak to your son at his graduation, albeit maybe a little sore.

 

As Rose’s own teammate, Pau Gasol, said, “being sore is part of the sacrifice and price you pay for being a professional athlete.”  Charles Barkley reiterated it on TNT later in the week.  Eddie Johnson reiterated it to me right here on NBA Today.  And several other athletes reiterated that throughout the course of the week.  Here’s exactly how Barkley put it:

 

“We’re so blessed… I limp around, but I go home to a big ol’ mansion. There’s people that work harder than Derrick Rose, who go home to a shack. There are consequences for what we do for a living. We’ve got the best life in the world… I’ve got good sheets. I don’t know the thread count, but they’re good. I’ve got a big ol’ car, I never have to worry about my bills. There are pros and cons to what we do for a living… As much as I like Derrick Rose, that was just flat-out stupid.’’

 

I’m sure Kevin McHale would agree.  He played during the 1987 playoffs despite a broken foot and doctors telling him he could suffer long-term damage.  McHale played anyway, and as a result still walks with a limp to this day.  Yet ask McHale if he has any regrets, and he’ll tell you no.  He’ll tell you he felt he owned it to his teammates, employers, and maybe even fans to fight through and give Boston one more chance to win a title.

 

There are other examples.  Isiah Thomas gave us a third quarter to remember in Game 6 of the 1988 NBA Finals when he scored 25 points on a busted ankle.  Willis Reed took injections just to take the floor in Game 7 of the 1970 Finals against the Lakers.  Rajon Rondo played against the Heat in the 2011 second round despite a broken arm.  Ronnie Lott ripped off his own finger so he could continue playing in a football game.  Reggie Lewis loved the game so much he sought out doctor after doctor just so he could find one who told him it was alright to pick up a basketball again — forget soreness, Lewis was willing to risk life.

 

Many people have mentioned that Rose earned over 34-million dollars over the last two seasons to play in just 10 games, and should feel a deeper commitment to his team because of that.  I disagree that money should have anything to do with it.   Maybe it should make him feel a deeper commitment, but to say it’s all about money is an insult to so many others.  I know people who make far less and sacrifice far more.  Every time a miner goes into a mine he puts his life at risk.  Every time a truck driver climbs back into his truck he once again jeopardizes the long-term health of his back.  These people don’t just go back to work because of money; they do it because they made a commitment and because other people are counting on them.  Rose apparently doesn’t feel the same.

 

Joakim Noah’s impassioned plea for the media and public to cut Rose a break shows that some teammates have Rose’s back 100%.  You don’t go as far as Noah did unless you truly feel that way.  But I, along with other former players I have spoken to, have a hard time believing all his teammates feel the same way.  They most likely feel the same way I and so many others do — if Rose isn’t jeopardizing his career, life, or team’s success, he should be on the floor, soreness be damned.

 

Again, I can’t stress this enough.  This is not about Rose’s current hamstring situation.  If he’s hurt, and can’t play, I understand.  I feel bad for the kid.  No one should have to go through these types of health issues.  This however, is about his comments.  His health issues I can sympathize with, his mindset I cannot…  and I don’t feel out of line in saying that, because so many former athletes I speak to feel the same way.

 

 

QUOTES FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE:

 

“Why don’t we have the owners play half the games?… There would be no money if not for the players…. Let’s call it what it is. There. Would. Be. No. Money… Thirty more owners can come in, and nothing will change. These guys [the players] go? The game will change. So let’s stop pretending.”Michelle Roberts, Executive Director of the NBAPA

 

  • Not exactly the rhetoric you want to hear if you would like to avoid a work stoppage in 2017. Glad to see Adam Silver fire back by saying the two sides couldn’t disagree more. This type of talk is completely unnecessary at this point, and not the way you want to start a business relationship. Silver has done nothing but praise players thus far and work on establishing a productive and mutual respect. Based on these (off-base) comments, Roberts apparently has no desire to do the same.

 

 

“I want to buy the Timberwolves. Put a group together and perhaps some day try to buy the team. That’s what I want,” – Kevin Garnett on his desire to own his former team…

 

  • This would be great for Minnesota and the Timberwolves. Garnett is a fiercely loyal person, and it’s never bad for the League to have another passionate person involved with running a franchise like Mark Cuban and Steve Ballmer.  However, despite making more in salary than any other player in the history of the sport, with the skyrocketing value of franchises KG would still likely need plenty of help to make the purchase.

 

 

“I don’t even know if I could express how jealous I am of the fact that Tim [Duncan], Tony [Parker] and Manu [Ginobili], and Pop (Coach Gregg Popovich), have all been together for all those years… I can’t express to you how jealous I am, not all of this up-and-down stuff…. It would be like if me, Pau, L.O. (Lamar Odom), D-Fish (Derek Fisher) and Phil (Jackson), we all were just here,”Kobe Bryant, on wishing the Lakers had the same continuity as the Spurs.

 

  • As my pal Brian Geltzieler pointed out, this comes off as a shot at the Busses’… However, as I point out, Kobe should look in the mirror first. He could have had that type of longevity if he chose not to run Shaq out the door. I often stick up for Kobe, but can’t in this spot.

 

 

“It was good, like a cold shower for us… (It will) make us regroup and be strong for the next game.”— Jonas Valanciunas said after the Raptors dropped a 100-93 decision to the Chicago Bulls before a sold-out house at the Air Canada Centre.

 

  • This game stressed what I have said all along. There’s a big gap between the top two teams in the East (Cleveland & Chicago) and everyone else. The Raptors were 7-1 overall and 5-0 at home heading into this one, before the Bulls simply dominated. If Chicago and Cleveland are healthy, Toronto doesn’t make it past the second round, despite the greatness of Kyle Lowry who finished with 20 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists.

 

“I think any team that wasn’t a playoff team, we didn’t get up for, to be honest… We lost a lot of games like that, that we didn’t win. We lost to the [15-win Milwaukee] Bucks before last year, when they weren’t [good]. So we lost a lot games against team that couldn’t win last year and that’s something we’re trying to change this season.”Wizards Guard John Wall on his team’s mindset last season…

 

  • I enjoy the honesty from Wall, but that’s about it. Think about those comments. The Wizards didn’t take bad teams seriously last year. Maybe that’s understandable if you’re San Antonio or Miami, maybe even Oklahoma City. But prior to last season, the Wizards, under Wall had never even been above .500, forget to the playoffs.

 

“No way. No way that Dirk Nowitzki is better than Larry, and Dirk is a first-rate — he’s an All-Star. Absolutely any time he’s been on the All-Star team, he’s deserved it. I’m not trying to knock him, but Larry is one of a kind.”Kareem when asked if Dirk was better than Larry Bird

 

  • Who exactly asked this question? Hopefully not someone who covers the NBA… And like Kareem said, that’s not meant to knock Dirk. He’s one of the top 25-30 players ever, but he’s not Larry Bird.

 

“The media spin was that we were tanking the season so we could get the number one draft pick. Now, let’s break that down for a minute…. First of all, there’s a lottery system. As players, we all know the math. The last place team only has a 25 percent chance of winning the lottery. Grown men are going to go out and purposely mail it in for a one-in-four shot at drafting somebody who might someday take their job? Nope.” – Michael Carter-Williams in the “Players Tribune” on the theory players are purposely trying to lose games in Philadelphia in order to land a top pick

 

  • I agree with Michael that it’s absurd to think that players are purposely trying to lose games. I also think it’s absurd to believe that coaches would do the same. But Michael, don’t look to the media as the creator of this theory; if you have an issue with losing games intentionally in order to secure a top pick, address it with ownership and you’re General Manager, Sam Hinkie. They created this storyline, by purposely fielding an inferior team, one that in my mind will undoubtedly finish with a worse record than the 197-73 Sixers who set the mark for futility in an 82-game season with just 9 wins.

 

QUICK THOUGHTS:

 

THE CHIEF COMPARES A KING TO A LEGEND… Robert Parish told Nancy Lieberman and I that LeBron James is a much better athlete than Larry Bird, but Bird had the edge in every other category. I agree with the Chief that Bird is the better player, but would also give LeBron the edge as a defender…

 

DON’T SCREW THIS UP, PELICANS… Anthony Davis is first in PER and blocks, second in rebounds, fourth in steals, and fifth in points.  If that continues, Mike Dunleavy Sr., Nancy Lieberman, and I believe all the Pelicans need to do to give him a legitimate shot at the MVP is make the playoffs.  Usually you need to play for one of the top 3 or 4 teams in the League to win the award, but why should we punish guys who are surrounded by a situation they can’t control like Davis, and reward those like LeBron, just because they can cherry-pick their supporting cast?

 

NBA THRIVING DESPITE KNICKS… The common theory is that the NBA is at it’s best when the Knicks are good.  New York is 3-8 and arguably the worst team in the League outside of Philadelphia, yet the League still just signed a new television deal worth around 2.5 billion dollars annually…  How much do you think that would be if the Knicks were run like the Spurs?

 

DIRK PASSES HAKEEM, BUT IN POINTS ONLY… Dirk passed Hakeem Olajuwon into 9th place on the all-time scoring list this past week and became the all-time leader in points for an International Player.  Despite Lionel Hollins adamantly disagreeing with me, I believe he joins Bob Pettit, Karl Malone, Kevin McHale, and Charles Barkley in the discussion as the second-greatest Power Forward in NBA History. However, he is not the greatest International player ever. That title remains with Hakeem, who won two titles to Dirk’s one, and unlike Dirk is one of the greatest defensive players of all-time.

 

HOW QUICKLY THEY FORGET… It hasn’t been a good week for Kobe as he passed John Havlicek for the most shots missed in NBA History on Wednesday, followed by going 1-14 on Friday against the Spurs.  Despite the rough few days, the mocking seems to have gone too far.  It seems people forget he’s still one of the 10 best players to ever play, and is still better than 90% of the League even at age 36 and coming off two major injuries. We should also remind you that, despite the narrative, Kobe is more than just a “gunner.”  He’s a 9-time member of the All-Defensive Team, and as Sam Mitchell has told me, his prime he “was a better defender than LeBron.”

 

CP3 STALLING IN THE CLUTCH…  The past year has not been good to Chris Paul with the game on the line.  Despite his reputation for coming up big in big spots, Paul has faltered as of late.  It started in Game 5 of the second round of last year’s playoffs when he committed three gaffes in the final minute in a loss to Oklahoma City.  It has since carried over to this year.  In the Clippers season-opening win over the Thunder, Paul missed two free throws with a one-point lead and 13 seconds remaining, although the Clippers still hung on to win.  Then this past week against San Antonio Paul was stripped by Kawhi Leonard with under a minute left in a three-point game before missing a very makeable lay-up which would have given LA the win as time expired.

 

GORDON’S PRAYER ANSWERED… Magic Rookie Aaron Gordon (my co-host for Year One on Thursday’s from 6-7pm ET) was guarding Carmelo Anthony in the closing seconds with the Magic up 1 at MSG earlier this week.  He told me he was “just praying Melo didn’t get the ball.”  God did him one better and gave it to J.R. Smith, who unlike Gordon, didn’t get his prayer answered as the Magic came away with their second road win of the year on JR’s off-target heave.

 

NBA Today Rankings

This week’s rankers – Justin Termine, Eddie Johnson, Brian Geltzeiler, Noah Coslov & Shane Connolly

 

 

Team Rank LW Rank AVG
Warriors 1 1 1.3
Grizzlies 2 3 2.5
Rockets 3 2 2.8
Spurs 4 T-5 5.7
Raptors 5 4 5.7
Bulls 6 T-5 6.3
Cavs 7 T-7 7.0
Mavs 8 13 8.3
Blazers 9 T-11 9.0
Clippers 10 T-7 9.3
Wizards 11 T-11 9.5
Kings 12 10 11.5
Pelicans 13 15 12.7
Suns 14 14 14.5
Heat 15 9 15.0
Hawks 16 16 15.2
Nets 17 17 17.8
Hornets 18 18 18.0
Bucks 19 21 19.2
Jazz 20 19 20.0
Celtics 21 20 21.2
Pacers T-22 29 23.5
Pistons T-22 23 23.5
Magic T-24 27 24.5
Thunder T-24 24 24.5
Timberwolves 26 22 24.8
Knicks 27 25 25.2
Nuggets 28 26 27.5
Lakers 29 28 29.0
76ers 30 30 30.0

 

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