Hey y’all. I penned a column over at Sports on Earth about DeAndre Jordan’s growth this season. Here’s an excerpt. Hope you like it. Or don’t. Whatever. I’m only kind of going to cry about it.
Athletes, like the rest of us, are undoubtedly privy to the context of their environment. When freshly-minted head coach Doc Rivers arrived from Boston, his goal was to build a locker room that fostered progress. Doc didn’t pull the big man every time he missed a rotation; he kept Jordan in crunch time lineups despite his abysmal free throw shooting. Rivers told Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Ballard that when Jordan’s temper flared, he would whisper in his ear, “Get past mad. Get past mad.” Little by little, Rivers instilled confidence in Jordan.
Jordan didn’t finish in the top three in field goal percentage, rebounds and blocks just because Rivers let the reins loose, though. The most important thing Rivers did for Jordan was give him ample agency to explore him game, to feel okay about making mistakes. The impetus to fix them was always on Jordan.
Instead of settling for empty double-doubles, Jordan worked to master the less sexier components of his game. Improvement is like the best kind of nachos, though: layered and imperfect.