Marcin Gortat

Originally published in SLAM 139

When the Bulls banished Larry Hughes to the bench in early ’09, he wasn’t worried. Upset? Yes. Confused? Absolutely. Worried? Hell no. His finances were set, thanks to that $70 million deal the Cavaliers gave him in ’05. While the jumpers weren’t falling—he hadn’t averaged 20-plus ppg since that last contract year—the checks just kept on coming.

When the Knicks banished Hughes to the bench in early ’10, he wasn’t too worried. Upset? Yes. Confused? Absolutely. He grew a beard, either in protest or in hopes of being mistaken for Larry Johnson, circa ’99. Then again, Hughes was a bad fit in Mike D’Antoni’s system. “Seven Seconds or Less” was not designed with the guy who inspired heylarryhughespleasestoptakingsomanybadshots.com in mind. But people knew what he could do. He’d play somewhere.

When the Playoff-bound Bobcats signed him for the stretch run in March, he was ecstatic. Nothing could faze him; not the silly uniforms, not Larry Brown, not even being posterized by Marcin Gortat in the Playoffs. You see, while he was starting to get concerned he’d find himself getting dunked on by Europeans by now, he’d envisioned it happening under slightly different circumstances.

Russ Bengtson