Friday, May 12, 2006

A Nice Break

So, Uncle Cliffie Robinson got suspended for 5 games for lighting up. During the playoffs. (Hey, at least he didn't complain about minutes. That would have made him an asshole...)

So bad for Robinson, and bad for the Nets. But good for the guy who gets/has to step in and guard Shaq - John Thomas ($):
Thomas, a journeyman power forward who had brief stints with Atlanta and Memphis earlier this season, now becomes the first and only line of defense behind Jason Collins at power forward and at backup center behind Nenad Krstic as the Nets head into Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat.

Pretty significant role for a player who thought he'd be working on a computer marketing program in Los Angeles right about now rather than trying to hold his ground against Shaq. . .

Thomas' wife is a producer of television movies, and she had been working recently on a reality show starring former NBA player Doug Christie and his mercurial wife, Jackie, while Thomas himself was working on production of a computer program that would allow television viewers to interface with particular shows, clicking on a piece of wardrobe in a music video, for instance, to receive information about that particular apparel.

Chances are he never imagined clicking on a No. 41 jersey in a random Nets game and having his image pop into the screen, but that's about the equivalent of what happened to the player drafted No. 25 overall by the Knicks in 1997 before his career wound through Boston, Toronto, Minnesota, China, Spain and the Dominican Republic before coming nearly full circle to the arena just eight miles across the Hudson River from where Thomas played his first professional game.
I have to admit a huge soft spot in my heart for Thomas. First he was a key member of the Bobby Jackson led Minnesota Gopher team which made the Final Four.

But more importantly to me is he facilitated the most fun period of basketball I had in my life - In the spring and summer of '02, just before I went to law school, I wasn't working. I had quit my temp job and was spending most of my time either playing basketball or coaching ultimate. JT started showing up at the suburban Minneapolis health club where I played pickup hoops.

He was trying to get in shape for a summer of tryouts, hoping to catch on with a team in the NBA, or at least secure a lucractive overseas contract. To that end, he organized a regular game at an irregular time (mid-afternoon to miss the lunch time hacks, and to beat the after work crowd) to ensure a high-level of play. Most everyone in the game was either a current D-I player or recent grad playing some form of professional basketball. Occasional players included Khalid El-Amin (for my money, the best guy I've ever played against), Bobby Jackson and Devean George.

Somehow, I got included as well despite being short, slow, and nowhere near skilled enough. (Memory isn't perfect, but I imagine they had 9 guys and I was the only non-tool left in the gym from that day's lunchtime crowd.) But I held my own the first time, and and John encouraged me to keep coming back. For that 3 months, I played ball at a higher level than I really thought possible for myself. And through it all John was nothing other than a teddy bear of a guy, as unthreatening as a 6'10" 275-pound guy can be.

So, anytime I see him catch on and get a little bit of the spotlight, it makes me a little happy. So congrats, John, and make the most of it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Pooh, nice blog. Glad to see you rooting for a classy guy. :)

Just Karl