Game Notes: Bucks at Sixers
I saw a Rookie of the Year tonight.
by Michael Tillery
Hov’s So Ambitious banged through my head as Brandon Jennings and the Milwaukee Bucks made their way back through the tunnel defeated (I noticed a young girl giving the players high fives with one sleeve covering her bare hand and the other covering her mouth amid H1N1 concerns). Brandon’s showing was ambitious. He played like it meant something…with determination and respect for players past.
Jay-Z’s track fits. Brandon Jennings will get his.
His stat line was above average: 34 minutes, 7-16 from the field, 2-5 from Europe, 1-2 from the charity stripe, 17 Mikes, 9 Magics, 9 Barkleys, 5 fouls, 5 turnovers. In barely missing a triple double…and there were opportunities to cement such a historic accomplishment, Brandon most likely will continue to be inspired. Maybe the triple double wasn’t meant to be because he still needs to learn. Maybe, but he didn’t get the win. The Bucks lost to the Sixers 99-86 in Philly’s home opener…the outcome seemingly immaterial. It felt different. I really don’t think most in attendance knew what just went down.
I’m sure there was one… Cuttino Mobley. Mobley, who is from Philly, was there with his son Cuttino Jr, who was no older than 10. I wanted to speak with Cat and knowing he really wouldn’t have minded, but the father in me chose to preserve his father/son privacy unprejudiced.
Could you imagine going to a game with your Pop and seeing a cat who looks not that much older than you flash all over the floor. Scoring buckets, getting up for rebounds and dishing dimes the no look nice kind. Would your eyes leave him? Would you be a fan forever? How would this moment stick with you and would you tell your sons about it?
I don’t want to overstate the significance of one game, but…
I saw a Rookie of the Year last night.
I saw a HOF legend doing interviews from the future…Yeah, Brandon starring as the Ole head. I envisioned myself as the kid interviewing the legend for the sake of simply documenting history. I had the Christmas eyes. I waxed poetic on my Twitter timeline just so the moment would be fresh when I typed it out later:
Brandon Jennings gave me Christmas eyes still hours later wide. Evolution is his game remember his ROY name and exit hate just the same.
His game wakes me Egyptian math way back…for first fame he attacked. Damn you primitive haters are so wack. See his star but don’t ice age tremble.
Imperialistic Italian comparisons belittle the NBA mind. Now is time to rewind past tense crying when his Gumby…now twisties flow never lied.
Nod your head to once taught abroad beats as I dream of his tonight sneak screech. Become up to date NBA wise as it implies to thoughts frozen unkind.
I walked in. He smiled. Drifting through common media stench catalyst euphoria. AI glory and trip dub he did not seek. Twas victory yet denied.
History he comes for you. NBA competition is not his mind. The game his opponent and in the lane his caricature will legend…left hand remind.
Unintentional liberties will be rightfully exacted as time bangs the great point guard drum revisited. Your sons have confidence in him yet you have none?
Evolve from thoughts limited or his flash will be gone. Leaving you stunted, grunting, fronting your vision deceit. Meet his game with truth.
Ty Law and Tyreke flame will not be his muse accused of motivational yet simplistic falsehoods. Let Brandon Jennings wild ya dome before Tim Donaghy’s terror surely comes home.
Entering the Bucks locker room after greeting BDA’s Ilana Nunn, Brandon was getting ready to exit. Nice, I thought, no one is here, but I knew I wouldn’t have much time as the bus was getting ready to leave:
SLAM: Brandon, I haven’t seen you play since high school, but tonight, I noticed something different.
Brandon Jennings: [Cracks a veteran smile] Was it my hair?
SLAM: That too. No more Gumby. I see the twisties.
BJ: Had to switch it up.
SLAM: What’s it like to finally be out here and prove you could be that dude?
BJ: I wanted to come in and win to prove to everyone I can run a team. It’s not about the stats or getting Rookie of the Year or playing in the All-Star game. This is about helping the Milwaukee Bucks organization any way I can to win games and make the Playoffs.
SLAM: [I point to Kurt Thomas] You are playing with guys like Kurt who have seen it all what are the veterans of the team showing you about NBA life?
BJ: To get my rest, stay mentally tough throughout the long season. There are going to be nights like this. You have to move forward and get ready for the next game.
SLAM: Overseas last year…the media here drawing both negative and positive comparisons to Ricky Rubio. What did you learn from that experience to give you a true sense of the what you will see here in the NBA?
BJ: Just that year of playing professional basketball and showing how mentally tough I am moving away from home, going to two a days and only playing two games a week…coming off the bench…which humbled me a lot. Now that I am here, I’m trying to make my mark in the League. I had to take care of my responsibilities and be a man. I did what most men wouldn’t do and that’s taking my family over to Europe.
SLAM: Your first on court NBA eyes were here in Philly and you damn near pulled off the unthinkable…an Oscar…the emotions of it all. Speak on that.
BJ: To tell you the truth, I was thinking about when AI played in his first rookie game and he came in here and put it down. He is someone I look up to and someone I tried to pattern my game after as much as I can. We are about the same height and length. I wasn’t trying to duplicate what he did in scoring 30, but I wanted to make it memorable.
SLAM: Damn I wish I had more time with you, but what should we expect from Brandon Jennings the rest of the ‘09-10 NBA season?
BJ: Just leading this team and try to get that top seed. My main goal is to make the Playoffs.
Brandon was determined to make a statement. Yes, of course has so much to learn but…
“The motivation for me is them telling me what I could not be.”
We all know his story, so there’s no reason to rehash what once was, but his path to the NBA was as unique and any in the history of the game. He had his doubters. His draft stock dropped and he was compared to those not here who should be here. There were tales of his assumed laziness and mediocrity written by writers who actually never saw him play. Those of us with a different perspective waited to speak. I chose to forget beforehand that he was playing here last night with intentions of clearing my mind. In this field, it’s very difficult to be amazed so performances like this shock no matter what the score.
The sports scribes jaded do not become wise to the influential exploits of the games we document for the future, instead the negative falls slow but succinct like a ocean of debilitating molasses creating a legacy that is not one bit objective. But…when a player performs this well in his first game, it’s akin to the first sips of dramatic coffee body cold.
The words dance in your mind and an excitement builds until those words are released to pen. There were spells where Brandon was a step behind defensively, but his so sick mental and physical quickness will allow him to react a step ahead of those less savvy and athletically gifted.
His coach Scott Skiles elaborates on Brandon’s initial game impact:
“I thought offensively he was very good, especially considering it’s his first game. Obviously, you have to be blind to not be able to see some of the gifts he has. But, defensively he’s got a long way to go. He works out, and we’ll keep working with him. He almost had a triple double in his first pro game. He looks like a legitimate pro guard, there’s no question about it.”
I wanted to get something from Louis Williams…himself a mercurial point guard.
SLAM: Lou, going up against someone who mirrors your speed and quickness, is it fair to say you see the similarities as well?
Lou Williams: Absolutely, absolutely. That question was asked of me two days ago and my response was not really, but to play against him tonight…he goes out and almost gets a triple double on his first night? Our situations are similar..both young guys straight out of high school who played professional basketball on some level. I’m happy he came out and had the success he had tonight. At the same time, it is motivation for me. I see I still got that game. I’m still a young guy and I can look at another young guy…a fellow Naismith Player of the Year…and say OK, there we go.
Lastly, If any of you have truly played the game, you’ve most likely guarded someone whose jumper bounces before your defensive eyes are truly focused…hand outstretched way too late.
The next thing you know, swiccup!
Brandon has that gear and to make things more complicated, he is left handed. As long as he develops, Brandon Jennings is gonna be a problem for the League and imagine when his body truly matures and catches up with his unusually veteran mind.
Is he Fat now or Lever surpassed later?
What will you tell your son Cuttino?