To be added to the list of reasons covering sports is really fun: getting people to react the way Pierre Garcon did when Peyton Manning praised him on national television.
After the Colts beat the Jets to take the AFC Championship in late January, the Indy quarterback stepped to the microphone and made a point of reminding the world of how well Garcon had played. CBS cameras cut to Garcon, who wore an enormous ear-to-ear grin that could only be described as the “The best player in football is saying good things about me, and lots of people can hear him” smile.
[Note: I am aware that Garcon's name usually features an accent mark under the "c" in print. Unfortunately, I am not technologically savvy enough to generate said accent mark, so you'll have to make do as is. Please do not riddle me with emails about how I forgot the accent mark. Please do riddle me with emails about everything else on your mind.]
Fast-forward to Jam Session in Dallas on Saturday of All-Star weekend for a parallel on a remarkably smaller scale.
Curtis Stinson and I stand beside the scorer’s table after the D-League All-Star Game, which Stinson’s Eastern Conference team dropped, 98-81. The star point guard for the Iowa Energy is an easy interview. He is eager to say all the right things, to tell me that he just wants to go out and win basketball games every night, that he’s honored to be here and that he knows he needs to improve his shooting and make his all-around performance more consistent to make it to the next level.
Standing no more than five feet in front of us is Nick Nurse, the man who not only coached Stinson in the All-Star Game but who coaches him every day in Des Moines. We talk about what Nurse brings to the table and how Stinson really enjoys playing for him. The time seems right for me to bring up something Nurse told me when we chatted in Boise back in January.
“Coach Nurse told me you were without question the smartest player he has ever coached. What do you think of that?”
It doesn’t matter that my recorder picked an awful time to malfunction and cost me the rest of the audio with Stinson because the most important part of his reaction couldn’t be conveyed audibly: He gave me the Pierre Garcon grin.
The comment clearly caught the floor general off guard, and he reacted with genuine pleasant surprise. It made him sincerely happy to hear that his coach spoke so highly of him.
Fine, talking to yours truly isn’t exactly doing an interview on a national network. Perhaps the D-League All-Star Game isn’t exactly a lateral move from the AFC Championship in terms of prominence. But none of that made it any less cool to see such an enthused reaction to the coach-player version of “game recognizes game.”
From the other end of the tone-of-conversation spectrum: Ridiculous Upside‘s Scott Schroeder is a celebrity, although perhaps not in the way he envisioned. When I approached Reno guard Desmon Farmer after the All-Star game, he started by asking, “You know where that dude from Ridiculous is? His name’s Scott…He better not be here. He been hatin’ on my game all year for no reason. I’m not tripping though.”
Farmer apparently saw Scott’s interview with Flint Hotbed Hoops‘ Patrick Hayes, in which Scott gave an honest but up-and-down-at-best appraisal of Farmer’s game. Since Farmer wouldn’t elaborate on which of Scott’s assertions were bothersome (“I don’t know” is all he offered when I asked), I don’t have a ton to say except that Scott didn’t write much that struck me as unfair.
Farmer is a tremendous scorer, no question, and his point totals reflect that. But he hasn’t shot the ball as well from the outside this season as he has in the past, he seems almost exclusively reliant on his left hand and he sits in the league’s top five in turnovers at 3.7 per game. I noticed the same thing about his body language at Showcase that Scott mentioned having seen on a few occasions. Those aren’t good signs.
In the interest of balance and fairness to Farmer, Desmon answered when I asked him about turning the ball over: “My team has me doing a lot. I’m gonna turn the ball over. All the guys that are the main guys on their teams, they gonna turn the ball over.”
Yes, more touches often means more turnovers, and without advanced metrics available for individual D-League players (I’m going to keep nagging Hoopdata‘s Joe Treutlein about this), it’s tough for me to offer a statistical refutation of Farmer’s claim. But I don’t know that his usage rate is that far above those of most others that it would keep his turnover percentage down to a more palatable rate than his raw turnovers per game stats indicate.
Farmer also added, “I haven’t just been scoring. I’m averaging five assists [Ed.'s note: 4.3] and five rebounds as well. I think I just need an opportunity. Once my opportunity comes, I need to take advantage of it.”
Farmer has plenty of talent, and I’m always partial to lefties. But like my blogging colleague, I wouldn’t buy that he’s ready for the NBA at this point either.
If you didn’t make a point of watching Friday’s D-League dunk contest, you missed out. Fortunately, Hardwood Paroxysm‘s Matt Moore has great video of Dar Tucker jumping over some 7-foot dude who would be named All-Star MVP less than 24 hours later. Best dunk of the contests this weekend.
On the last thought going through his head before lifting off, Tucker said, “‘Just make the dunk.’ I told myself, ‘I just make the dunk, it’s over.’ I knew all I had to do was get a 45 or whatever, but I wanted to go out with a bang.”
He certainly did. Dar is the real deal, dunk-wise.
Regarding the large fellow over whom Tucker jumped, Bakersfield’s Brian Butch did not begin D-League play this season until Dec. 19. He was not initially selected as an All-Star, named instead as a replacement. Friday night, he predicted he would be the MVP of the D-League All-Star Game, and the next day, he went out and won said award with 18 points and 13 rebounds in the Western Conference’s win. Good on him.
Stay tuned for much more from an eventful trip to Dallas coming throughout the week.