Today, we learn that Elton Brand told Jim Gray that his legs were tired.  In the very next graf, "Brand insists that he's OK."

"The jury's still out for me, until I get five rebounds a game or shoot 40%, then I'll say I'm tired," Brand said. "Once I'm over 10 boards and shooting 50, I'm not giving up that easy."

Giving up?  Hey, Elton, it's only November.  Shit, the leftover turkey in my fridge hasn't even turned gelatinous yet and you're talking about a hung jury about your capacity to play premium ball? 

Elton's tautology is all the more aggravating because he had unilateral control over his summer schedule.  Everyone cooed at Elton's globetrotting from USA Basketball to the Toronto Film Festival to Moscow to his wedding. FSN even put up a cute little Elton Brand route map prior to the opener against PHX.  Meanwhile, according to the LAT on November 9, Elton confessed:

"I'm definitely mentally tired," he admitted, giving up the fight of pretending otherwise anymore. "I thought I was invincible."

If that's what he's telling the press, imagine what he's saying to his inner circle.  Any number of these things - save the wedding - could've been nixed.  Personally, I was annoyed then and even more pissy now that Elton played USA Basketball.  Does that make me unpatriotic?  Fuck you.  I'm the inspector at my polling station, the guy working 18 hours on Election Day for nearly minimum wage to make sure that non-English speakers in Echo Park and the gentrifiers who love them can vote, despite the precinct's shameful history of opening late and without proper supplies.  No thanks necessary.  I'd do it for free. I love my fucking country.  Rah.

But I hate USA Basketball.

You wanna guess how many of these patriotic players, coaches, and support staff voted on November 7?  Give me an over-under.  Yet, you'll hear all kinds of cheap shit - as I did from a close friend of Clipperblog who shall remain nameless - about how USA Basketball is "for the country." 

As they say in the finest classical academies: Bullshit.  

Just ask Michael Heisley how that Rioja tastes as he watches his Gasol-less Cubs, and he ain't even Spanish.  To paraphrase Mark Cuban, how many corporations do you know that would lend out a $100 Million asset for free?  Try none...except the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, etc. 

I don't care if we finished third, or first, or won $10 in a beauty contest.  Doesn't matter.  And I find the parlor game of coming up with alternatives for USA Basketball pointless.  Personally, I think populating the roster with solid 15-20 minute-a-night NBA role players is the way to go.  Let James Singleton play, or Dahntay Jones.  These are professional American ballplayers who have the endurance and capacity to play 2500 minutes a year, but see less than half of that.  Put them on a plane.

The point is that the Clippers aren't the team they were last year and all you have to do is watch EB to see why.  Look, it's his life and his dreams and he doesn't owe me or any other fan a goddam thing.  But let's stop pretending that we don't know why the Clippers are 0-6 on the road.  There's a reason teams resort to bad jump shots and it's because they have no presence in the post.  I'll lay some of it on Kaman and the fact that teams are doubling Elton off the ball [though George Karl has been doing that for three seasons now, including last year's playoff series]; but ask yourself, who was the best post player in the division last season?  Who carried the Clippers almost every night?   You wanna know what else nobody is talking about?  Elton's mediocre defense this year.  Watch him get pushed around in the post, and not just by opposing centers - we know he's undersized - but by the likes of Mark Blount and Rashard Lewis.  Lewis, who is accustomed to killing the Clips from outside, did most of his damage from 15-in last week.  Elton got absolutely shredded last night.  Destroyed.  Against a high post team who drove the lane at will.  And that ain't all Kaman's absence.  On top of that, Brand is on pace for his lowest block total since he was back in Chicago.  If anything, he should be getting some of Kaman's stuffs.

This isn't to panic.  I'm not putting forth anything that Elton hasn't confessed to in the press.  He said he was "mentally tired"; he's the one who told Jim Gray that his legs are tired. 

But, hey, it's still only November.  There's nothing like an 82-game NBA schedule to help a professional basketball player get some R & R. 



Addendum: Clipperblog endorses Dean Yoshitani for the Elvis Lookalike Contest tonight during the Clips-Memphis game.  Yoshitani will try to follow in the footsteps of Palm Thai's "Thai Elvis," in that great tradition of Asian drag.