HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Royce White’s Leap Of Faith
By Yannis Koutroupis
Just a few weeks ago winning the lottery seemed more probable than seeing Houston Rockets rookie Royce White play for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets’ D-League affiliate. The Rockets had tried to assign him before, but White refused to report as a part of his ongoing crusade for the NBA to improve their mental health crusade.
The issues that caused White to risk suspension and make him a beacon for criticism still remain. Yet, on Tuesday night he took the floor at State Farm Arena while donning a Vipers jersey.
“We just had a lot of discussions,” White said to HOOPSWORLD. “It was a 2 ½ month process where we just went back and forth and back and forth and eventually I said hey listen I’m going to go down there in good faith even though we don’t necessarily have the protocol that I wanted in place or the protocol that was suggested, but hopefully this move, me coming down here and doing my part in good faith that the league, not just the Rockets, will make a good effort in trying to make sure that everything is place to make people like me safe.”
Damian Lillard No Longer Overlooked
By Alex Kennedy
“I have a chip on my shoulder, knowing that people doubt me and whether I can make it to the next level. It’s everyone’s dream to play in the NBA. I’ve wanted that my whole life. That’s what I work for, to prove people wrong.” – Damian Lillard, 2011
Damian Lillard doesn’t seem to fit the underdog mold. After all, he was the sixth overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft and seems like a lock to win the Rookie of the Year award. Lillard has taken the league by storm and is having one of the most remarkable rookie seasons in recent memory. The 22-year-old point guard has become a household name and looks poised for an outstanding career.
However, before Lillard was donning a Portland Trail Blazers jersey and dominating NBA competition, he was overlooked and underappreciated at every level.
Lillard’s basketball career nearly ended in high school, when he was buried on the depth chart at St. Joseph of Notre Dame in California. He rarely played at the private school and when he would see the court, it would only be for a handful of minutes. After his sophomore season, the team’s head coach told Lillard that he was unsure if there was a role for him. Rather than continuing to pay for their son to attend the school, Houston and Gina Lillard decided to pull him out of St. Joseph.
Dwight Howard Exposed in LA?
By Bill Ingram
Dateline: Orlando – Prior to the trade that sent Orlando Magic franchise cornerstone Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers, there was a little drama that played out more nights than not in the Magic postgame locker room. For those who aren’t familiar with the way the media tends to work, those who are covering games for newspapers have a deadline by which they have to submit their materials, which almost always include quotes from players following games. In the case of the beat writers covering the Magic, a quote from the lone All-Star on the team was a fairly imperative part of their job. Most stars understand this and make sure they make themselves available in a timely manner after games. Not all stars observe this professional courtesy, however, and Dwight seemed to delight in the extra attention he got by making the media wait after games.
He would sit in the training room, which opened directly off of the locker room, in full sight of the media as he ordered a postgame sandwich and ate it leisurely as the beat writers watched the clock and sweated over their fast-approaching deadlines. No interviews are allowed while a player is in the training room, and while Dwight might make jovial conversation as he ate and relaxed, nothing was on the record and it was never about the night’s game. Finally he would come out, sometimes before the beat writers had left to submit their stories and sometimes not.
Through this common situation we can look into what makes Dwight Howard tick, and also perhaps gain some additional insight into why he is struggling to find himself in the media hot bed that is Los Angeles.
James Harden Puts Houston On His Back
By Lang Greene
The Houston Rockets have been tirelessly searching a franchise player ever since it became apparent the days of Yao Ming dominating the paint were nearing its end. For a franchise with a storied history, Houston has been struggling to lure marquee free agents to the organization in recent years which has resulted in the team missing the playoffs for the past three seasons.
Before this season, seeking star power and taking a calculated risk, Houston traded for shooting guard James Harden, the 2012 Sixth Man of the Year from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Harden had big dreams and a vision of being a franchise player. In Oklahoma City Harden’s ceiling was a supporting cast member with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook already firmly entrenched as Oklahoma City’s future.
As we head into the All-Star break the gamble by the Rockets’ front office has seemingly paid. The Rockets are 29-26 and are positioned to snap their postseason drought and Harden has become an All-Star while strapping the franchise to his back en route to putting up 26.1 points, 5.7 assists and 4.8 rebounds per night.
The Pros and Cons of Trading Iman Shumpert
By Tommy Beer
“Young guys aren’t winning an NBA title.’’ – Mike Woodson
Head Coach Mike Woodson and GM Glen Grunwald, seated next to each other on the dais, were the first two members of the organization presented to the assembled media for questioning on media day back in early October. Both men were well aware they would be asked about the age of their roster. Sure enough, one of the first questions was directed at Woodson, inquiring how he felt about the influx of veterans (Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Pablo Prigioni, Rasheed, Wallace, Kurt Thomas, et al) Grunwald had brought to New York over the course of the previous offseason.
“Young guys aren’t winning an NBA title,” replied Woodson. “To add veteran guys who are defensive-minded, battle-tested, that have won, will be huge as we try to win the NBA title.”
Andrea Bargnani Waiting Out Trade Deadline
By Joel Brigham
Toronto Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani, who missed almost two months this season with an injured elbow, is now back in the Toronto rotation just in time for the team to shop him aggressively ahead of the February 21st trade deadline.
After making a blockbuster move for Rudy Gay, the Raptors are reportedly entertaining offers for other players, and most of the more prominent rumors the team is involved in just so happen to involve Bargnani.
“Every day my name is next to a different team,” Bargnani said. “It’s something I can’t control because trades are just part of the NBA. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. All I can do is focus on what I do day-by-day, and right now my focus is on the Raptors, and it will be for as long as I’m here.”