If there’s one sport most closely connected with the art of trash-talking, without a doubt, it’s basketball. Cripes, the And 1 Tour gives a guy a microphone and puts him on the court to yap at the players. So it’s frustrating to see the David Stern NBA now populated by mediabots, personified best by notorious hothead Rasheed Wallace’s epic “Both teams played hard” interview.
Fortunately for all of us, Brandon Jennings has not been drafted by an NBA team, so nobody has beaten the will to speak candidly out of him yet. Jennings, already something of an iconoclast for his decision to spend his year between high school and the NBA in Europe rather than in college, was asked by the Sacramento media about fellow lottery prospect and European Ricky Rubio and how he compares. The result, as seen on the videos at the KINGS BLOG of the SACRAMENTO BEE, was good, old-fashioned playground smack talk:
Jennings: Well, put it like this: If he was in a workout with me, Jonny Flynn, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Stephen Curry, he wouldn’t even probably be at the top.
Reporter: You think he’s all hype?
Jennings: Because he played in the Olympics, he been playing pro ball since he been 14, so you know, there it is right there.
At this point, fellow interviewee Jonny Flynn is dying laughing, mainly because he knows Jennings will never again be allowed to talk like this. Jennings wasn’t finished, though:
Reporter: You think you should go before Ricky Ruubio in the draft?
Jennings: Yeah, I think I’m a better player than he is. I can shoot the ball better than he can. The only time I’ve seen him do something is when he has a home run pass or something. So I think the dude is all hype. I can’t even front. I’m going to be real with you guys.
(Interview text helpfully transcribed and compiled by THE SPORTING BLOG)
One slight problem in Jennings’ statements is that if the Olympics are any indication, Ricky Rubio can freaking ball, man:
Yes, there’s inevitable hype surrounding someone who’s been a pro since he was 14 (by the way, those last six words made David Stern’s head explode), but there’s a reason for it; he’s really good. You can’t get into the top 5 of the draft on pure hype anymore. We’re not getting burned like the Pistons and Darko Milicic again.
It’s just sad that with the draft so close (June 25), Jennings will soon be a member of an NBA team. Once he’s signed, rule #1 will have nothing to do with basketball at all; it’s simply “never say anything at press conferences.” And just like that, gems like these will be gone forever.
Well, until ESPN wises up and remakes Madden Nation and the World Series of Poker, but with nothing but pro athletes as the contestants. Oh, and drinking and betting would be encouraged. That’s where the fun begins.