“I dare you to read two posts about me in one week.”
What? Another Utah Jazz post?, you ask. I thought we only had to be subjected to these once a month, tops.
Well, I (Ben) can’t just let pressing developments among Salt Lake’s finest go unreported for weeks at a time. And I’d qualify Sports Illustrated’s recent profile on Andrei Kirilenko to be a very pressing development.
While SI passes on the chance to ask Kirilenko why he hasn’t updated his website in four years, it does get the dirt on several other issues, such as:
Kirilenko’s “rocky” relationship with coach Jerry Sloan. “It’s not that I don’t like Jerry,” says Kirilenko. “He’s a good person. He’s just from an older generation that treats players like kids. Let’s say your boss comes to you and says, ‘Hey, son. Come here.’ And you look at him like, What did you call me? It doesn’t hurt your feelings, but it doesn’t feel comfortable.” (Sloan is quoted as saying, “I don’t need my players to like me. I need them to play for me.”)
Kirilenko’s seven-year-old son, who is named Fedor. I did not know this.
His wife, Masha, who has given him permission to sleep with another woman once a year. This is old news, but whenever I tell someone I’m a Jazz fan he invariably asks, “Man, what’s with that deal between Kirilenko and his wife?” and I have the same conversation all over again. In the SI article, Kirilenko suggests he has no intention of cheating on his wife. Masha, meanwhile, has issues with Sloan’s coaching style and mouths things to Andrei in Russian when he’s sitting on the bench. I did not know this either.
In NBA action last night the Jazz beat the Kings at ARCO Arena, 99-94. Morris Almond had 12 points and 6 boards in 26 minutes off the bench. One word: Unstoppable. The Jazz did benefit from a curious strategy by Reggie Theus to insert Quincy Douby into the game for the last four minutes (the only four minutes he played) and let him jack up threes instead of getting the ball to, say, Kevin Martin or Brad Miller. But really, the difference was Morris Almond.
Elsewhere, the Knicks and Spurs lost at home and the Lakers had a massive fourth quarter breakdown at Indiana in a 118-117 loss. Troy Murphy’s tip-in at the buzzer bounced around the rim for about five minutes before finally dropping in. And as if it could get any better, I’m suddenly in second place in my fantasy league! This cannot last.
Since we’re already on the subject of the NBA, let’s address the sensitive topic of Stephon Marbury. Specifically the fact that he is a headcase. This has been clear for quite some time. But Marbury’s taking it up a notch. Without Isiah Thomas to kick around, somebody needed to step up for the Knicks organization.
Marbury, as documented last week, refused to play when the Knicks suited up just eight players against the Milwaukee Bucks on November 21. As you might imagine, this didn’t go over well with some of his teammates. Quentin Richardson had this to say:
“The way the situation is, I don’t consider him my teammate. He hasn’t played with us all year. He doesn’t want to play with us. This is the second time. I don’t look at him as a teammate. Teammates don’t do that, regardless what’s going on with the coach. You don’t do that to teammates. We were basically left out there.”
Harsh words, but fair, no? I never expected Quentin Richardson to be the voice of reason, but there you go.
So how did Marbury respond?
“I sat there for three weeks and didn’t say one word,” Marbury told the Post. “I didn’t hear one of my teammates say, ‘Why isn’t Stephon Marbury playing? This is a good system for him, even to play with the second unit and bring more firepower.’
“When things got bad and then worse, guys like Quentin Richardson say, ‘I don’t consider him a teammate. He let his teammates out to dry.’ He didn’t care I was his teammate when I was banished. They left me out for dead. It’s like we’re in a foxhole and I’m facing the other way. If I got shot in the head, at least you want to get shot by the enemy. I got shot in the head by my own guys in my foxhole. And they didn’t even give me an honorable death.”
Hmmmmm. This is crazy on about six different levels. You’ve got the Deluded Ex-Franchise Player with Grandiose Notions of his Diminished Talent using a Rather Graphic Analogy to illustrate that his Turncoat Teammates want to Shoot Him In The Head. Does anyone seriously expect that, say, the undrafted Wilson Chandler is going to pull Mike D’Antoni aside and say, “Coach, it’s great that I’m getting PT and all, but shouldn’t more of my minutes be going to Marbury? He keeps mumbling something about ‘an honorable death’ and the guys and I are getting a little weirded out”?
Marbury doesn’t seem to grasp the concept that this foxhole analogy doesn’t work because Marbury refused to go in the foxhole. If you suit up less than eight players in the NBA, you forfeit the game. League rules. So after trades and injuries depleted the roster to eight players with Marbury, you’d think maybe he’d rally for his teammates, seeing as he abides by a strict code of honor and loyalty. But he refused to play. He let seven guys share the 240 minutes of playing time the Knicks had to fill. He may as well have been lobbing grenades into his own team’s foxhole. But now he thinks he’s still in there with them?
I think we’ve all seen this movie before, and it doesn’t end well.
I also worry that Plaxico Burress’s recent crazy streak will incite Marbury into a jealous rage and that he’ll respond by pulling a Tracy Jordan and tattooing his face with permanent marker or making all his teammates a Phil Collins mix tape.
Don’t forget there’s a Readers Forum going on all this week. The mysterious Andrew Cashmere informed us that there’s an award created in his honor involving spray-painted underpants. (And that white people do indeed love bad memories of high school.) Join the fun here.
UPDATE: Since Marbury has not actually played in a game this year and we do not have ESPN, I didn’t realize that he already has a face tattoo. On his head. He got it this summer. If I was Quentin Richardson, I’d be very afraid about what I might find in my locker tomorrow.
UPDATE 2: My friend Jon offers a minority report on Marbury: He’s being scapegoated. D’Antoni never asked him to play in the Bucks game so Marbury never refused. “They’re trying to run him out of town,” says Jon. “He’s just a symbol of the old Knicks.” I don’t buy this, but we try to present all the viewpoints here for your consideration.