Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Old Mule, Skinner

Not much in the news to talk about today that we haven't already gone over, but I suppose we haven't addressed the Skinner comments and reaction, which has now made it into the Canzano column (which is sure to have things abuzz). Frankly I didn't post about his comments when they happened because I didn't see it as that big of a deal, but apparently it is.

For those who have forgotten, the juicy quotes from the article:

>>Skinner, who was traded to the Bucks in a four-player deal July 31, sounded happy to be free from teammates in Portland who he said simply stopped trying.

"It's contagious, and it carried like wildfire throughout the whole team," Skinner said Monday. "Even players that were really dedicated and really wanted to be there, just made it seem like it was for naught"...

"It's everything," Skinner said. "From the way you just sit down at the dinner table, to how you walk, you can just tell when a player (has) not really lost their passion, but just lost their initiative to go out and try to win. And it just goes through everything. It goes through everything and completely destroys a team."

Skinner said he respected veteran teammates such as Voshon Lenard and Theo Ratliff, but didn't care for some of the team's younger players. Skinner didn't single out any specific players by name for criticism.<<

First of all, though many seemed inflamed by the comments, I agree with hyperbully that he's basically just speaking the truth as he sees it. Some have suggested that the guy's holding a grudge, but how do you hold a grudge against a team you were with for less than half a year? That this might not be the whole truth regarding the team is up for discussion, but that this is the truth as one person sees it shouldn't be. And that person is in a far better position to speak truth about such things than any of us are. I don't see where we'd have much grounds to contradict him. If there's one thing that wearies me a little about this Blazer-fan thing, it's when people want to bend over backwards to explain away any criticism of the team as if it were wholly untrue or motivated by something else besides honest assessment. I love the team, you love the team, we all love the team, but there just might be some things to criticize about a squad that lost 61 games last year.

Second, to whom is this apathy breaking news? We've been talking about the same thing here since the beginning of this blog. I guess this is part of why I thought the comments were no big deal. I rather expected a collective shrug from the fan base accompanied by, "Tell us something we DON'T know..."

Third, while I understood the point of the Canzano column this morning, he should know that the code of silence is neither peculiar to Skinner or the Blazers...it's a league-wide phenomenon. When Kobe and Shaq were putting on their daily soap opera a few years ago Kobe made a public suggestion that maybe Shaq wasn't in the best of shape. The furor the next day wasn't about Shaq's weight (which was obvious for everyone to see) but whether it was ethical for Kobe to "throw a teammate under the bus". The general consensus seemed to be no. And this was regarding an observation that was so patently obvious that any street-corner hack with half an eyeball could have told you the same thing. You're not supposed to rat out anyone on your team for anything, ever. You just don't interfere with a guy's reputation or potential paycheck and you don't risk disrupting locker-room chemistry like that. If, as Canzano suggests, silence is the problem then the whole league is in trouble. To expect a backup player just acquired in a trade with an uncertain future with the team to stand up and break that code is just silly. Who would it have helped?

Furthermore, from what little experience I have I'm convinced that the curtain between players and fans is necessary and maybe even good. These guys live in a different world than we do, both in terms of finances and occupational habits/rituals/requirements. I'm not sure we want too much of a glimpse into what the NBA life is really like on the inside. I suspect it might make it hard to follow a lot of these guys. I wouldn't want behavior like some of them exhibit at my workplace, but then again I'm not a professional athlete. Who knows if it's better or worse than any other team? At the end of the day you hope your airline pilot, your surgeon, and your therapist are wonderful people who do wonderful things, but the more important question is how well they fly the plane, fix your ticker, or listen to your issues about your mother. If the pilot and co-pilot are drinking gin and cruising fifty feet off the ground so they can play "slug bug" that's one thing, but stories of hazing and late nights at Scores probably aren't germane and you don't need (or want) to know them. If something bad-but-not-criminal has happened you hope that they get over it like everybody else does in similar circumstances and do their job. And this, by the way, is the issue Skinner appeared to have: not hazing, not people being annoying or disagreeable, but people not doing their jobs.

I guess the only major question left is to whom Skinner was referring. He specifically excluded Ratliff, Lenard and Blake. I think since Przybilla made many of the same comments and played really hard we can probably exclude him also. Khryapa also seems unlikely and Ha didn't get enough minutes to matter that much. I suppose Jack and Webster could qualify, but from outward appearances at least they both worked hard on their games. To be fair put them in the "maybe" category. That leaves a solid pool of Randolph, Miles, Dixon, Telfair, and Outlaw. Perhaps not coincidentally, all four of the remaining players have been reported in trade speculation. But then again, we could have told you that before the Skinner comments.

In the end, this is one of those things that only matters in August. It will be long forgotten by the time training camp opens. (Which is not that far away...YIPPEE!!!)

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

22 Comments:

Anonymous TP43 said...

You go Dave. I'm not generally prone to the "me too" post but this to me is as you said pretty obvious stuff and simply dog days of summer - much ado about nothing.

I raised an eyebrow that people rose to the bait and then yawned and clicked the next link. Take solace in a slow but steady purging of this type of player.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

I think you can safely exclude Outlaw from your list as well. His problem certainly doesn't stem from any sense of entitlement.

I personally think his remarks fall squarely on Miles and Randolph, but Telfair could possibly be there as well. Where I exclude Telfair is when Skinner went on to talk about the apathy spreading through the team. Telfair may have a lot of problems, but I don't think apathy is one of them.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

I hope Outlaw doesn't belong in that crowd. Although maybe some would say that apathy about working on his game has contributed to his slow progress. But that's just speculation as far as I know. Mostly I didn't have clear reason to exclude him so I left him in.

--Dave

12:06 PM  
Anonymous fatty said...

the reason why this is an
uproar because it was seen
on late night espn and the
whole country has more
material to bash the team
also skinner to a shot at
the culture and said
wisconsin has better weather
but the bottom line is
until the 2 cancers are gone
then this team will continue
to get bashed period....
and for the losers who
continue to defend the 2
cancer patients that's why
everyone laughs at portland
the alabama of the west coast...

1:00 PM  
Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

I really had a problem with Skinner’s comments. Here’s a player that has had a barely marginal career. If he wants another NBA contract (let alone a good contract from a good team) he needed some minutes to try and prove his value. Portland gave him a golden opportunity to do just that. He knew we had injured players (Godzilla, Zach, Darius, Jack, Telfair, Theo) and were trying to evaluate players. We did him a huge professional favor and he stabs us in the back. Flat out- he’s 100 all ass.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous fatty said...

prophet you're joking right
skinner told the truth period
like a broken record until
the 2 cancers are gone this
is still s.a.smith and j.leno
whipping boys the good ole
boys from bama ooops i meant
portland....

1:38 PM  
Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

Skinner may have "called it he sees it", but he knew there was a lot more to the story. He knew it and he decided to be a jack-ass. let me put it this way- if a company hires me and treats me better than I deserve or expect and that treatment directly helps me as I leave and go forward, I'm not going to go public about every single dirty thing I can think of about that company that helped me out.

But he did.

There's a reason his initials are B.S.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

lol...Cute on the initials. Skinner has had a rep for speaking his mind a lot of places, that's for sure. I didn't know this made ESPN news. Must have been a slow day.

In any case, I still maintain that the revelation that the worst team in the league has a couple of problems is underwhelming. Let him yak.

--Dave

1:51 PM  
Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

I agree. Let him yak. It's certainly a free country.

Hear the rumor attacted to Darnell Vanentine that Miles is barred from training camp due to attitude? Me, I don't believe it unless we're preparing to waive him- again, which I don't believe.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous TP43 said...

BP - That's juicy, where in the heck did you hear that one? Can't decide if I'm shocked or thrilled we're finally taking a stand . . . if it's true of course!

2:29 PM  
Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:39 PM  
Blogger ignacio said...

i don't think it hurts to have skinner say whatever he feels like and i agree with dave that naming names might well be bad form.

there's a lot we don't want to know about these guys. for instance: groupies and/or the use of escort services. i have no curiosity whatsoever.

a genre crime novel was published some years back, by a sportswriter who was once based in portland. i can't remember the title, but the writer's name was jim patton. isaiah rider/rasheed wallace days.

if anyone wants to wallow in that kind of thing.

i'm looking forward on the other hand to brandon roy, martell webster and lamarcus aldridge, none of whom seems likely to ever evolve into that sort of clown.

2:54 PM  
Blogger lyle said...

i think everybody who follows basketball closely knows the type of activities basketball players are up to in their free time. so the whole concept of groupies, partying, etc. isn't gonna be any sort of huge revelation.

the bottom line is that unless you have something bordering on super human morality and/or willpower, spending your entire adulthood and childhood (starting at maybe 10) being told your are basically god and can do no wrong from damn near everybody you ever come in contact with tends to do bad things to your perspective, and on your ability to judge what's right and what's not.

eddie griffin, anyone?

again, some guys seem to be less apt to come off as effected by this mentality (hi brandon and martell), but i think it exists to some degree in pretty much everybody who has ever been a professional athelete.

again, people who follow basketball mostly realize that, and they ignore it because they know it's part of professional sports and it's part of reality.

4:49 PM  
Anonymous TP43 said...

Interesting BP, but as you said the proof's in what pans out. Makes you wonder if maybe they didn't try to jolt him a bit though doesn't it? It seems I remember Nate indicating he had declined to workout with Bayno and company at one point over the summer so it's not exactly a huge stretch to see something like that being in the realm of possibility. I'd almost forgotten about our director of player affairs, (or whatever Darnell's title is) I wonder what kind of contribution he's making. I haven't heard the players mention him but we've got such limited / controlled access that doesn't necessarily mean anything.

By the way, I get your point about BS. I'd never do it but honestly I don't hold players to that level of professionalism - maybe I should. At times I think I get sucked into de-emphasizing something the press is trying to use to generate buzz instead of looking at the article on it's own merits.

6:26 PM  
Anonymous TwoDeep said...

I read through things kind of fast but I don't think I saw anything that directly addresses this statement of Skinner's:


"Even players that were really dedicated and really wanted to be there, just made it seem like it was
for naught"...

Therefore, in this sentence at least he was certainly referencing Miles and Fatbo ... I mean Zbo (You're rubbing off on me Fatty).

So you may be right Dave ... he may have been pointing at players like Telfair and/or Outlaw.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Scott R said...

My take: Who cares. He spoke his mind. That's fine. Someone asked him a direct question, he gave a direct answer. It's no different than i would do. I have absolutely no idea how to sugar coat things, or talk my way out of "dangerous" questions, and am thinking that maybe he has the same style of personality. Direct question = direct answer. His responses don't hurt me at all, nor do i think it hurts the team either. In the end, it just comes out as a role player at best forming his own opinions. It'd be an actual story if it were a high-paid, hard working, superstar starter.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

This whole thing is rediculous.m He's just saying what we already knew/what had been said. However, since we live in a podunk town like Portland, there's nothing else for the Oregonian to report upon. JC needed a column, and instead of reporting about sometrhing positive this team has done, took this little situation and made a moutnain out of a mole hill. If Portland were a MAJOR media market, this wouldn't have even gotten a second glance by any of the reporters and probably most of the fans.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Will said...

One comment about Juan Dixon -

I typically liked his efforts during games, though he often forced his shots. However, remember when he first came to the team and struggled a lot in practices and claimed that he wasn't that good of a practice player and he plays better in games. I wonder if Dixon ever picked up his game in practice, or if he continually stuggled and lagged in practice. I definitely wouldn't be surprised if Skinner was referring to Dixon amoung the other obvious choices.

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