This is a great story. Professional athletes (at least some of them) do more of this than gets made public, but this is a special situation and special move.
Roy Hibbert, the center of the Indiana Pacers (who got a max contract extension this summer), is flying across the country because the wish of one child was to meet him and see him play, but the young boy might not make it to that long.
From Mike Wells of the Indy Star:
Lee Eddins had hoped he would be able to watch his idol, center Roy Hibbert, play in person when the Indiana Pacers visit Sacramento, Calif., for a game against the Kings in late November. But Lee, 12, is not expected to live that long…
So Hibbert has planned a special surprise. Later this week, he is flying to Sacramento to meet Lee.
“Once I heard he had a dying wish, I knew I had to do something more than send him presents and Skype with him on the computer,” Hibbert said. “I’m usually uncomfortable going to hospitals when the Pacers do events because it’s pretty tough to see kids in that situation. Once I heard about (Lee), I realized I had to get over it and do it for him.”
Good for Hibbert. And good luck to Lee.
I don’t want to go all NBA Cares promo here, but there are good guys in this league who do good things for people. Who don’t just do it for the recognition or tax write-off. Hibbert is one of those guys.
Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.
Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.
The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.
Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.
Enter Greg Smith.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.