@Sports Out West:
Last Tuesday, Bessie Cooper died in a Georgia nursing home at age 116. Nearly as impressive as her longevity was Willie Green’s start on Saturday, his 16th of the season and the 242nd in his 10 year NBA career. Green was never expected to crack an NBA rotation or even seize a roster spot, but his determination was too much to ignore. A decade after his first professional basket, the shooting guard is filling a pivotal role for a contending Clippers team.
If you were born in the 20th century, you most likely witnessed an American tragedy. On February 26, 2007, NBA point guard Shaun Livingston collapsed from a layup attempt and obliterated his left knee in what was arguably the most grotesque sports injury in United States history. Prior to the disaster, Livingston was heralded as a basketball prodigy, drawing comparisons to the multifaceted Magic Johnson. Since his axle snapped, it’s been an uphill climb to remain relevant on the court.
I meet too many kids who despise used toys. My Hot Wheels showed damage, but they got the job done.
The same truth applies to NBA big men in their 30s. The mileage on athletes’ bodies can be offset by greater familiarity with NBA tricks and schemes. The accumulated wisdom of Elton Brand and Chris Kaman attracted the attention of the Dallas Mavericks, who have failed to replace Tyson Chandler’s towering presence. Brand and Kaman, 33 and 30 years old respectively, are slowing down in a young man’s sport, but they hold a wild card. The duo banged low together at an All-Star level with the Los Angeles Clippers for five seasons, and bring invaluable experience to the Mavericks. More importantly, their styles of play will mesh with the current roster, and ease the pressure off Dirk Nowitzki to carry the squad on another playoff run.