Brandon Jennings has not been shy about blazing his own way. After starting at Compton Dominguez High School (which has its own problems recently), he transferred to basketball powerhouse Oak Hill Academy for graduation. He took the Tim Floyd college path, signing up with USC and then Arizona for college before failing the entrance exam and heading to Europe for his forced sabbatical before the 2009 NBA Draft.
(No, it was a different word…)
Therefore, no one should show a bit of shock that Jennings has shown a penchant for holding strong opinions and then sharing them through the Interwebs. That’s why the newest Buck’s latest words about his “n****”Scott Skiles, those “n*****” Knicks fans, and the “bum-a** n****”Like Ridnour. (Hey, he wasn’t going to learn more English in Greece during his winter abroad.)
The Clippers’ selection of Blake Griffin with the first pick in the NBA Draft last night was a forgone conclusion, so most of the draft drama was centered around Spanish point guard sensation Ricky Rubio. Over the past couple of weeks, Rubio became one of the most fascinating prospects in draft history — he doesn’t want to play in a small market or a cold city, his agent didn’t let him work out against other humans (which led to the strange one-on-none workout in Sacramento), he still has a huge buyout in his European contract, and nobody can really agree about how good he really is (he could be the next Steve Nash or the next Dan Dickau, and neither scenario would be surprising).
In other words, Ricky seems to be rejecting Minneapolis as his future home. Any threat to not come to the NBA isn’t really financial leverage, since his contract is slotted based on his position in the draft. But he could be pulling this stunt to try and force a trade to a city that’s more to his liking, such as New York. He might also be wondering (like a lot of other people) why the Wolves took another point guard (Johnny Flynn) with the #6 pick. Here’s what Mr. Rubio told MARCA (via FANHOUSE):
“We are going to speak with the [staff] of Minnesota and see what’s happening, because, in some hours, we may be in Minnesota or in another place.”
He’s either expressing confusion over the Wolves’ intentions of keeping his son, or he’s basically telling them they better trade because there’s no way Ricky’s coming to play there.
After being drafted, ESPN’s Mark Jones asked Ricky to compare his game to that of a current NBA player. To which he simply replied: “I’m Ricky Rubio” (to the amusement of the MSG crowd). Scroll to the 3:20 mark of this video:
Surely I’m not the only person who thought of this when I saw the interview:
After Minnesota picked Flynn, it looked like Stephen Curry might fall to the Knicks, and it was no secret that he wanted to call MSG his home. But the Warriors didn’t get the memo and picked him, sending the Knicks fans on hand into depressed hysterics. It was only fitting that the boos rained down on Jordan Hill, who had no chance to win over the New York crowd in such a short period of time. At least he’s probably better than Renaldo Balkman.
The other strange development of the night was Brandon Jennings‘ last-minute decision to not attend the draft at the advice of his agent, who seemed uneasy about letting his client end up like Rashard Lewis, who famously slid way down the draft board while TV cameras watched his every emotion. Well, as it turns out, Jennings went 10th to the Bucks, then decided to show up a few picks later to get his photo op with David Stern. Now, if Jennings turns out anything like Lewis, he wouldn’t have cared when he was drafted.
HOOPSHYPE has a good recap of the draft up, and Kings fans are going to need to steer clear of hairdryers and bathtubs after reading that they’ve got the next Larry Hughes on their hands. The suit of the night, without a doubt, belonged to James Harden:
(Mustard suit + bowtie = smooth)
There were some other things going on in the sports world last night, including the resolution to one of the stupidest athlete spats in recent memory. With the Yankees heading to Queens for a weekend series with the Mets, the tensions between Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Bruney once again became back page news. But the NY DAILY NEWS reports that it was all settled last week, when Bruney sent a clubhouse attendant over the Mets clubhouse to apologize to K-Rod on his behalf. I was accused of some anti-Yankee bias in my original post about this matter, but really, c’mon, sending an attendant to apologize for you? How lame is that? I would’ve loved to see that exchange at K-Rod’s locker.
A lot of major league pitchers struggle, and a lot are sent to the minors to work through their troubles. But few actually go to their team and ask to be sent down, like the Pirates’ Ian Snell has done. Snell is 2-8 this year with a 5.36 ERA and awful 1.624 WHIP. He had actually been throwing better as of late, but said he thought it was best for the team to be sent down because he was bringing too much negativity to the team. I can’t decide if this is an alarming lack of confidence and perseverance on Snell’s part or a refreshing selfless decision done in the interest of helping his team and his own career. Regardless, Snell has actually been slightly better this year than last, when he had a 5.42 ERA and even more god-awful 1.765 WHIP, and he threw a full slate of 31 starts. Here’s what Snell told the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE’s Dejan Kovacevic:
“I don’t want to point fingers and make excuses. I just made a better decision for myself, my career and my life.” I asked what he needs to do: “Nothing. You guys don’t understand it unless you played baseball. You don’t understand it, and the people at home don’t understand it. I’m just going down there, get my thoughts together and do well.”
I think he just needs a hug, not a stint in AAA.
Before we get to today’s links, I feel like taking a few minutes to watch the “Smooth Criminal” video again. There’s no doubt that Michael Jackson was a weird dude, and possibly a perv on such a level that he doesn’t deserve our grief. But is it so bad to spend a day remembering why we loved the guy? All that other stuff will come back around soon enough.
Now let’s get on with those links:
• Ever wonder who that lady is who gives the draft picks their hat before they walk over to meet David Stern? Wonder no more.
• Vijay Singhattempted to bail accused swindler Allen Stanford out of jail, but was told he couldn’t because he isn’t an American, according to CNBC’s Darren Rovell. This is like the first time I’ve ever heard about Vijay being a really generous guy, and it’s to someone who probably stole a bunch of money from him.
• According to this AFP story, “Gay clocks wind-aided 9.75″ at the US Track and Field Championships. Miss California is unimpressed.
• Frank Thomassays he’s “close” to retiring, which will be news to the one person in the universe who doesn’t already think that Frank Thomas is retired. That person being Frank Thomas, of course.
• A man has now been arrested in connection with Karen Sypher’s plan to extort cash from Rick Pitino. Why was Lester Goetzinger so willing to help out in this scheme? Were sexual favors involved or something? Oh, actually, they were.
• Wimbledon’s in full swing, and a rising star you might want to keep an eye on (or both your eyes on, really) is Caroline Wozniacki out of Denmark. She’s the #9 seed and has advanced to the third round. Here she is enjoying some time off the court:
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.
(To Jennings’ credit, he’s just eating the basketball. That’s incredibly poor technique.)
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:
The Atlanta Hawks’ animal mascot (as opposed to its mall & car dealership mascot) couldn’t get settled for Wednesday night’s Game 2 against the Miami Heat. Before each home game, Spirit the Hawk usually swoops across the arena and land with its handler.
For reasons unclear, they started the game while Spirit stayed loose. However, the game came to a screeching halt a few minutes in when Spirit landed on the backboard camera and Josh Smith excused himself due to winged predators in the field of play. Eventually, Spirit returned to his handler and play continued.
The rest of the Hawks followed suit in avoiding airborne objects for the remainder of the game, allowing Dwyane Wade to divebomb them with 33 points (including six three-pointers) in a 108-93 win to pull even with the Hawks at a game apiece in the seven-game series.
After the game, Hawks management offered Spirit the scorekeeper job; at least he knows where to look for the ball.
In other NBA games last night, Philadelphia lost to Orlando 96-87, New Orleans lost to Denver 108-93, and the Detroit Pistons lost their ability to care.
Long-time watchers of tall young men will recognize the puppeteer behind this latest stress test on the basketball pipeline. Sonny Vaccaro has his hand in this year’s Atlantic leap, just as he did for Jennings last year. Tyler turns 18 in June and will be eligible for the 2011 NBA draft.
We have a suggestion for Tyler to consider when he selects an NBA agent:
Not too long ago, pundits were touting Europe as serious competition to the US in pro sports. They could pay more to their basketball and hockey players, and were attracting stars at a growing rate. Well, it looks like there’s still a ways to go before the US loses its role as the premier sporting nation. Just ask Alexei Cherepanov. Or ask Brandon Jennings, who’s alive and talking about how terrible it is over there.
Jennings isn’t getting paid, isn’t getting to play, and isn’t getting to work on his game the way he would had he stayed in college. Add to that the language and cultural barriers, and Jennings is sending up a big red flag for any athletes who are thinking about going for a quick and easy payday.
Former NBA player Rawle Marshall (Mavs, Pacers) attacked a player named Sinisa Stemberger during a game last night, opening up a huge wound on his forehead. Based on the report, Marshall may be facing a months-long suspension, or permanent explusion from the league.
Apparently everybody on the U.S. Men’s Basketball team is under the impression that China is a country in Europe, because it’s been the only things on their minds lately. While Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have both publicly toyed with the idea of going overseas in a few years, I’m okay with the fact they don’t know China is located in Asia. After all, neither of them went to college.
That being said, Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer went to Duke, so you would think he’d have a better idea about world geography. Of course, going to Duke did teach Carlos a thing or two about having and making money. Which is why when he was asked about the possibility of someday playing in Europe, he admitted to being open to it.
JOE SPORTS FAN eyes this eye protection aficionado rocking two pairs of Rec Specs.
George Brett was a coke head? BUGS AND CRANKS notes that ESPN’s Rob Neyer thought the coverage of the 25-year anniversary of the “Pine Tar Game” was a great time to suggest that Brett, who he calls “one of the hardest partiers in the midwest,” used cocaine.
THE BIG LEAD gives us the scoop that U.S. Olympic track star Lolo Jones may be stealing from Chad Johnson’s playbook.
AWFUL ANNOUNCING informs us that the real star of last night’s MLS All-Star game was ESPN’s Rob Stone and his sidekick “Bitchy the Hawk.” Video after the jump. Read more…