Wednesday, April 9, 2008

NBA Draft-talk time.

It's time to move forward.

After spending almost two whole days consoling myself with tears, memories, phone calls, two cans of Miller Hi-Life, photos of kittehs with funny captions, and a bag of goldfish crackers, I'm almost ready to move on. I'm not ready to turn on the news or, god forbid, ESPN quite yet, but I can start letting go. I think.

Seriously, the kitchen is a wreck and I can't tackle it. It's my turn to buy household essentials- coffee, cat litter- but I can't drag myself out of bed on my random day off, because I was up until 5 AM writing about the Tigers and fretting about the Tigers and, well, just being really, really sad. Also, I really wanted eggs this morning but my roommate eated them, and because I'm so sad about Our Tigers I would rather just mope about the eggs than go down to the corner store and buy more.

(I love eggs. Love them. If someone wants to win my affections, leave my mailbox full of eggs a la the Tic Tacs scene in Juno. Just package them very carefully, or hard boil them first, cos egg goo all over my magazines and Netflix might actually work to your disadvantage.)

So I'm gonna be all theraputic and write about the draft. Granted, I am 1. Not Yet Ready To Focus On Anything Sports-Related Other Than My Tigers, and 2. Not The Biggest NBA Fan In The World. If there weren't Tigers surely being drafted and if there weren't a possibility of at least one of them staying in Memphis via the Grizzlies, I wouldn't even be writing this. So this will be all about feelings, with a little strategy thrown in.

(I make no claims to be an NBA expert. Mostly, I've just cleaned their players' and coaches' bathrooms at my old job.)

For the first time since it happened, I am entirely overjoyed that Darius Washington Jr. decided to declare early for the draft in 2006.

Darius Washington will always be one of those Memphis characters who will be emblematic of how unlucky our program- hell, our city- has always been. He was (is) a talented kid who helped lead Memphis to the Elite Eight in 2006: but unfotunately, he will always be remembered for this moment, where his missed free throws cost Memphis our only shot of making it to the NCAA tournament that year. His decision to declare early for the draft ended sadly- he wasn't drafted in either round, nor was he picked up as a free agent. He ended up playing in Greece last year, then covered for Tony Parker of the Spurs for a few weeks earlier in the season, but that ended quickly and they didn't even send him back down to the D league. Now he's back in Greece, presumably trying again to get picked up by another NBA team.

Had he not left when he did- had he stayed with the Tigers and been a part of last year's team that made it to the Elite Eight, but may have gone even farther with him at point guard- he would have almost certainly been drafted by the NBA last year, maybe even in the first round. He wasn't patient, he got too cocky, and it blew up in his face.

There are a couple of reasons I'm glad he's gone. For one thing, I think that had they had D-Wash, as we called him, running the point during the 2006-2007, the hole we needed to fill at that position wouldn't have been as obvious and Cal probably wouldn't have been as desperate to find a perfect point guard: i.e. we may not have ended up with our magical missing piece of the puzzle, Derrick Rose (although D-Wash wasn't a true point guard in my opinion, but that's another story). Also, who wants to see a kid stay with a team when he doesn't want to be there? Nobody wants a half-assed point guard.

But mostly, I'm glad he left when he did because his story serves as a cautionary tale for our current Tigers who aren't ready for the draft but may be itching to declare early. Out of the Tigers' five starters, only two are likely to be back next year- juniors Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier. Neither are ready for the NBA, least of all Antonio, but either of them could get a little cocky and declare early. Fortunately, both of these kids played their freshman year with D-Wash at point. They remember.

On another note, did anyone watching the CSTV coverage of Memphis all year think it was extra creepy that they had Darius Washington's #35 jersey on display in the glass locker in the background all year long? Maybe they cursed us.

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About Me

Jamaica Plain, MA, United States