8/31/08

Like Father, uh, not really

The worst month of the year for the NBA is August. During the month of August I have had time to reflect on a lot of NBA happenings. I have come up with, what I have thought, to be profound thoughts, but upon approval from Phil, I have come to discover that my profound thoughts, have been very, well, unprofound. That changed yesterday when Patrick Ewing Jr. was traded to his father's old team, the Knicks. It caused me to think about not the trade itself, but about the pressure and expectation that has suddenly been put on Pat Jr. (not that there is no pressure when you are the son of a Hall of Fame player), now that he is playing for the Knicks, and not just any NBA team. I have reflected on the father-son duos of the NBA and sports in general, and about what this trade really meant for the Knicks. My conclusion may surprise you. Here are my thoughts on all of this.

Patrick Ewing Jr: I feel bad for the guy. Gets drafted in the second round and then gets dished to the Knicks. Most of the articles I have read on this story favor him going to New York. I look at this as the worst possible scenario for him. The public is a very unforgiving group of critics. People can't help but compare what is familiar to them.

Ask Luke Walton if he will ever be able to get out of the shadow of his father. No matter what he does at this point in his career, he will always be 'Bill's son'. Ask Jeffery Jordan how tough it is playing at Illinois. He probably couldn't even imagine what kind of pressure and what people would be saying if he played at Chapel Hill. Ask Drew, Jon, and Brent, who they are compared to? If they missed a free throw, announcers would have to hold their tongue before they could utter the words 'Rick wouldn't have done that.' Ask Coby Karl or Mike Dunleavy Jr. what sort of pressure they were under when they came into the league. Remember Stephon Curry in his legendary performance this past March? Who did they compare him to? His shot was like...Del's. At least Coby, Mike, and Stephon's fathers weren't considered some of the best players in the history of the game. No matter who you are, if your father played in the league, it will automatically attached inflated standards to your name. Once in a while you will get a Kobe Bryant, who can achieve legendary status that his father's career becomes more known after retirement. Or, if you are lucky, you will get a Grant Hill who is a five time all-star, a college standout, and has a career average of 21 points a game, and your father was an NFL legend who was a 4 time pro bowler who had over 1000 yards twice, and over 6,000 in his career. Even more rarely, will you have a Jimmy Walker and Jalen Rose. The late Jimmy Walker was the first pick in the NBA draft in 1967 and had an exceptional 9 year career averaging 16.7 ppg with Detroit, Houston, and Kansas City. Jalen Rose had a great NBA career with too many NBA teams to name, but averaging 14.8 his career, and even once averaging as much as 22.1 ppg with the Bulls. Kobe, Grant, and Jalen are exceptions.

This brings us back to our latest father-son player combo who has come into the league. Although Pat Jr. is in a very tough spot, you have to love his commitment, and courage to have the career he has had (Jeffery Jordan has to get a shout out for doing the same, even though Jeff will likely never see an NBA court). Patrick Ewing Jr. went to Indiana for the first two years of his college career and then transfered to Georgetown to finish off his career. It was a bold move, one that I'm sure his father was proud of. To put their careers in perspective, Pat Sr. averaged 15.3 ppg, 9.2 rebs, and 3.4 blks while he was a Hoya. Pat Jr., averaged 5.2 ppg and 1.4 assts. You don't have to be a statistician to see the incredible disparity between the numbers. Now, lets suppose, you knew nothing about either players' pro career, and they were not father and son, but brother and brother. Based on the numbers, you would probably say that Pat Sr. would be a good NBA player that had potential to be an All-Star one day. Few, if any, would say Pat Jr. had similar or even comparable potential. NBA teams must see something in Pat Jr. that would make them take a chance on him. The Knicks seem to be in the business of potential and taking Pat Jr. on the basis of potential is a little suspicious. He did not have an outstanding career and is best known for blocking a game winning shot against West Virginia that was about as close to goal tending as you will ever see. The question is, why? Why would the Knicks take an unproven player when they are a fading franchise. Pat Jr. has not proven he can make it. He was drafted on pure potential. His 6'8 and 240 frame gives him an NBA body, but does he know how to use it? Can Mike D'Antoni's coaching staff improve it? My guess is no.

I know that many of you are thinking that I am acting like Pat Jr. is a huge impact player the Knicks acquired, and it is still contingent on him making the roster. This post is more about me trying to be skeptical so Knick fans and NBA fans aren't so harsh on him if he flops. If he doesn't, it is a fairytale story that will probably be made into a movie one day, if he does, it was expected. The kid is playing in the biggest media market in the country, under the shadow of his Hall of Fame father. That is a lot of pressure, but he has dealt with this his whole life. He is probably phasing this out right now, but there is a bigger issue here. This is less about Pat Jr. than it is about the Knicks management. This is clearly a last ditch effort for the Knicks to acquire the best Knicks player in history's son in order to draw nostalgic fans who wish they were back in the 90's. This is a win-win for the Knicks. Fans will be drawn to MSG, to see what kind of player ol' Pat's son is. If the Knick's develop him, it will be the rebirth of their franchise, and it will be a story that will live in sport infamy. If not, at least it got fans in seats for a little bit, something the Knicks desperately need. It was a cheap rental. This pick up was strictly for a PR boost. Something that Knick fans should be extremely concerned about. Sports is about winning, and continuing to win, that is what keeps fans there, not parading around the shadow child of your franchise's glory days. Even the most devout Knicks fan is probably close to his or her breaking point by now, but if you are one of the fans who has looked the other way, be concerned.

Izzy

Ive been meaning to post these for a while.

Top NBA SF prospects in the 2009 draft.

Is Lebron really leaving? Seems like Cleveland is in the best position to do anything.

1 comment:

Trilokesh said...

one thing is certain -- you can fit 2 buses into both pat sr and pat jr's nostrils.