Slamadamonth, SLAM #121: Leon Powe

Leon Powe

Originally published in SLAM 121

It was a matter of simple mathematics.

A+B+C=D. In order to ensure that his contract would be guaranteed for next season, Leon Powe needed D to equal 16. A, B and C represented points, rebounds and assists per game. He didn’t make it.

Not that hardships are new to No. 0. Hardship. That’s what it used to be called when one came out early, implying that you literally couldn’t afford to put off turning pro for another year. In that case, Leon Powe could have gone pro at any time.

He grew up fatherless and homeless, became a ward of the state of California, yet overcame it all to become a McDonald’s All-American. Then he blew out his knee in college. Missed a whole year at Cal. Things were taken, not given. The 6-8 power forward who seemed like such a can’t-miss was eventually taken 49th in the ’06 Draft, then sent from Denver to Boston. He played on a terrible Celtics team that first year, and then the Cs remodeled, loading up at the 4. Kevin Garnett. Glen Davis. PJ Brown.

But the 24-year-old Powe, with his undersized body and oversized heart, kept pressing, kept earning minutes, straight through to the NBA Finals. And then came Game 2 of the Finals. Breakout. Twenty-one points in 15 minutes, two monster dunks.

We think the math will work itself out.

Russ Bengtson