It’s been a sleepy few weeks as the majority of the Clippers’ roster has been set and “breaking news” is now in reference to the eleventh, twelfth or thirteenth man. Training camp is still a month away and, in reality, the regular season is mostly a laboratory for the Clippers as a playoff berth would not even qualify as minimum expectations for the upcoming season.
So we at ClipperBlog are taking this time to look back before going forward. To kick off Throwback Thursday (or #tbt for the social media savvy), here’s a gem from Jordan Heimer back on February 25, 2011, reflecting on Baron Davis and the deal that ended his tenure in Los Angeles. Here’s an excerpt:
Baron Davis: Bon Voyage and Thanks For the Memories
Our expectations create our perceptions. A cheeseburger off the drive-thru value meal might hit the spot, but if you order a $14 burger at an expensive steak house and the waiter serves you a Big Mac, you would complain to the manager.
For 13 million dollars a year, fans expect everything. That’s reasonable. Guys who are paid at an elite level are expected to combine their (assumed) elite talent with elite work habits. Effort, consistency, and a good attitude (or, at least, the perception of all three) are base line expectations.
Since the trade with Cleveland was announced yesterday morning, I’ve read a lot of obituaries of Baron Davis’ time with the Clippers, ranging from mostly negative to downright vituperative. He’s been killed in opinion columns and message boards, called “lazy” and “moody,” an “indiscriminate chucker,” and a “coach killer.” At times, he was all of these things.
But honestly, the adjective I would use after watching Baron play for two and a half seasons is “limited.” As that heavyset fellow behind the podium in those beer commercials says, he was who we thought he was: a player prone to both injury and indifference, an extraordinary facilitator who often preferred scoring, an occasionally spectacular player who rose to big occasions, but – all too often – only to big occasions. That was the player Donald Sterling and MDSr should have seen that he was at UCLA, in New Orleans, and in Golden State.
I won’t try to defend the indefensible. In two and a half seasons in Los Angeles, Baron played about a season’s worth of good basketball. He helped Mike Dunleavy lose his job, and probably guaranteed that Kim Hughes will have more trouble finding his next one. He brazenly reported to camp out of shape this season, and his subsequent knee injury was a contributing factor to the 1-13 start that essentially ended the season before Thanksgiving.
But Baron challenged me as a fan, made me aware of the different ways I judge athletes and “people.” As a person, I found myself feeling sympathetic to a lot of Baron’s challenges. Who hasn’t taken a job and immediately realized it might not be a good fit? Who hasn’t had a boss who was bull-headed, over-critical, reflexively joyless, seemingly determined to thwart any attempt at creativity or personality? Or felt sour after a friend’s betrayal? Or responded to criticism with petulance rather than a renewed commitment to accountability? Been overwhelmed by the pressure to impress at home?
Some athletes go out and perform regardless of circumstance. Some don’t. Some can’t.