Saturday, May 9, 2009

What Kind of a Name is Von?

Game 2 of the Lakers/Rockets series was by far the most physical game of the 2009 NBA playoffs so far.  It had everything.  Kobe throwing elbows at Ron Artest's throat,  Derek Fisher laying out Luis Scola and Yao Ming making a Paul Pierce like return after banging knees with Kobe Bryant.

With all of the hype surrounding the game there was one event that went completely unnoticed and undiscussed.  Von Wafer, worst name in sports, was benched by Rockets coach Rick Adelman and then told to go change into his street clothes and wait on the team bus for the entirety of the fourth quarter.

Wafer apparently took exception to this and needed to be restrained by his teammates before going back to the locker room.  

The whole incident occurred because Adelman wasn't giving Wafer the minutes he felt he deserved.  Wafer, who had 7 points in 9 minutes, felt that he could help the Rockets come back and win.  Adelman felt differently however and had Wafer ride the pine.  This is what sent Wafer off and during a timeout he made his opinions well known to Adelman.

Wafer was on the bench for tonight's game and in his pregame press conference Adelman had this to say about the whole situation, "He’s on the team.  We talked about it and it’s over with. He didn’t like coming out (of the game). He doesn’t have to like coming out, but it’s his job to accept that."  Handled like a true professional who has been around the game long enough to know how to handle young players like Wafer.

I have no problem with Wafer wanting to play more minutes, in fact I like his enthusiasm, but he went about it the completely wrong way. You don't cry to your coach and get into his face if he doesn't put you in.  You simply sit on the bench and stay mentally involved in the game and make sure that while you are out on the court you play your best.  Maybe Adelman didn't want to play Wafer because the game was close and Wafer is notorious for taking bad shots. Or maybe he didn't want to play Wafer because he preferred to have players on the court who actually try on the defensive end.  I don't know, I'm not Rick Adelman.

I think Wafer quickly forgot everything that Adelman has done for him and his career.  Before the start of the 2009 season Wafer had played for four different NBA teams and his career high in minutes was during the 2007-2008 season when he played 154 minutes for the Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers.  This season Wafer played over 1200 minutes and owes that significant playing time to Adelman who frequently used Wafer off the bench as an energy player.

Wafer is just one of many young players who for some reason have this unearned sense of entitlement.  He hasn't been in the league long enough to challenge the authority of a head coach, especially not one as experienced as Rick Adelman, and needs to realise that he isn't out there playing by himself. He is part of a team that is trying to win in the playoffs and doesn't need this kind of a distraction from a bench player who averages 8.1 ppg.

The only guys who I think could get away with this are guys like Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd, Shaq, Kobe (if he didn't play for Phil Jackson) and Tim Duncan (if he didn't play for Greg Popovich).  These are the guys who have been in the league long enough to get away with pulling a stunt like this.  Von Wafer isn't on the list and never will be on the list.  He should be lucky he is seeing so much time.

I realise that Wafer is still young and it's the playoffs and he is excited and wants to be on the floor but he needs to realise that he needs to be a role player and that he isn't the superstar.  Maybe if he passed the ball once in a while (averaging 0.8 apg as a guard) he might see the floor more often.  Also maybe he should get a real haircut as the one he is rocking now makes him look like a Ron Artest wannabe aka a douchebag.

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