Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers

On Brandon Roy and the loss of control

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“I don’t think any of us can speak frankly about pain until we are no longer enduring it.” -Arthur Golden.

My wife’s biggest problem with being pregnant has nothing to do with the nausea. She’s not bothered by her increasing lack of balance, nor the fact that she now craves fried food as if she was the one raised in rural Arkansas and not me. She doesn’t even mind being unable to drink. Okay, that’s a lie. The booze is a bummer. But the biggest issue with being knocked up is the lack of control. Her body is reacting to something which she has no control over, and while they can be considered consequences in many ways of various decisions she’s made, it doesn’t change the fact that she’s hungry but not because she hasn’t eaten, tired but not because she hasn’t slept, and irritated but not (just) because I’ve done something stupid. The body is the one that’s in control, and that can be pretty frustrating.

In this discussion, Brandon Roy’s tired of feeling pregnant.

Roy has broken a bit out of his recent slump, and he’s attributing it to reaching his limit with his limits. Let’s let the Oregonian explain:

“I’m not that kind of player,” said Roy, 26. “Maybe when Im older, but right now, Im fine, so I just want to play.”

The deterioration of Roys game — he has openly limped and grimaced through games lately — has been widely chronicled and debated, both internally by Blazers management and by fans on message boards and radio waves. But Roy said he has neither listened, nor worried, what others have to say or think. This was his body, his game, and only he would decide how the next chapter was written.

“There was no one moment. It just built up, and I finally said there are two ways to go: You can keep it up or do something about it. So I just decided to do something about it.”

via Portland 101, Phoenix 94: Brandon Roy scores 26 as Blazers win streak grows to four games | OregonLive.com.

Roy’s taken the gloves off. The minute limitations, the self-concerns, the awareness that he’s working with no brake pads on his knees, with no meniscus and that he’s not who he once was. He’s just trying to be who he once was. Or some other version of himself that doesn’t need that explosiveness, who can just shoot jumpers. It’s fearless. It’s bold. It’s heroic.

It’s sad.

Sad because at the end of this, Roy doesn’t get to go back to rollerskating and wine spritzers like my wife does (rollerskating and wine spritzers meaning explosive dunks and long minutes to Roy, and she neither rollerskates nor drinks wine spritzers, but that’s neither here nor there). At the end of this, Roy still won’t have meniscus tissue in his knees, will still hurt when he plays basketball, and will still have to wonder why it is that his body revolted in such a cruel and disappointing way.

But true to form, Brandon Roy is going down swinging.

There’s no alternative, really. To admit defeat is to go down a road of failure and self-restraint which, to be honest, is all too common in our society and is sometimes called for, but is also not heroic. And athletes, though they are almost never heroic anymore, still need that heroic mindset. They need to be able to push themselves beyond limits in order to succeed at their jobs, to really succeed.

And we’ll keep hoping that Roy is able to get to that next level, even if his comments bring concern that perhaps the cost is too great on him personally. To push himself as he’s proposing to is to invite severe injury. Things tearing, breaking, keeping him out for long stretches and worst of all, bringing even more pain. But that’s something that may happen anyway, something he can’t control. And this way at least it happens on his terms. He’s in control of his body, even if he’s destroying it in small doses.

You have to wonder if the cost isn’t too great sometimes.

Then you remember the millions of dollars and the fact that everyone loves him and it’s cool.

Kind of.

Monty Williams is back coaching with Team USA, ready to get back on NBA sidelines

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18:  Draymond Green #14 of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team drives against assistant coach Monty Williams of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on July 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.

Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.

Now, after getting his feet wet with Team USA (where he is an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski), he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman he is ready to get back on the sidelines.

“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”

He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.

Ben Simmons says he plans to work on shooting, handles, getting stronger before camp

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons cheers from the bunch during the first half of the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Associated Press
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The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.

Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.

He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.

New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.

Report: Warriors sign JaVale McGee to make-good training camp contract

JaVale McGee
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JaVale McGee is getting another shot in the NBA.

He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.

But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.

I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.

Russell Westbrook laughs off question about Kevin Durant

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant #35 discuss play during the first half against the Los Angeles ClipperLos Angeles Kingsat Staples Center on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.

But not right now. He remains silent.

This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.

https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js

In the full Facebook clip, Westbrook walks away, too. It’s his right. He can talk about it on his schedule.