Eight months ago, Yogi Ferrell went undrafted out of Indiana.
For February, the NBA named him Western Conference Rookie of the Month.
It’s the latest accomplishment in Ferrell’s meteoric rise, and it puts the Mavericks point guard in rare company.
Since the NBA began awarding Rookies of the Month in 1981, only one — Grizzlies guard Tarence Kinsey (April 2007) — earned the honor in his first professional season after going undrafted. Kinsey signed with Memphis shortly after the 2006 draft and made the regular-season roster.
Ferrell took a longer route, initially signing with the Nets then getting waived before surfacing in Dallas. He led Western Conference rookies in points (12.0) and assists (4.7) per game in February.
Five other undrafted players won Rookie of the Month:
- Adrian Griffin (November 1999)
- Jorge Garbajosa (December 2006)
- Jamario Moon (January 2008)
- Ivan Johnson (April 2012)
- Chris Copeland (April 2013)
But all five spent at least two full seasons in lesser leagues before joining the NBA.
Ferrell is an undrafted rookie in the truest sense — and one of the most impressive ever in his first pro season.
If Taj Gibson can make a shot beyond halfcourt in Portland last night, why not this guy too?
The Thunder acquired a 3-point shooter in their trade with the Bulls.
But maybe it was Taj Gibson (100% against the Trail Blazers last night), not Doug McDermott (1-for-6).
Kawhi Leonard made an impressive-looking turnaround jumper with Paul George — a quality defender — draped all over him to give the Spurs a 100-99 win over the Pacers on Wednesday.
George, Indiana coach Nate McMillan and Jeff Teague, via Nate Taylor of IndyStar:
“He traveled,” George said of Leonard. “I made him work for it and he picked his dribble up. Then out of nowhere he had extra space. Plays like that, (the referees) got to see, they’ve got to see. He made a tough shot.”
“I thought he traveled before he took that shot,” McMillan said in a matter-of-fact tone.
“Yeah, he traveled,” Jeff Teague said. “He picked up his foot and traveled. But it’s the end of the game and (the referees) let some things go. He made a good play.”
Those Pacers were right, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:
Leonard (SAS) gathers the ball with his right hand and establishes his left foot as his pivot. He then switches his pivot foot to his right foot prior to the shot attempt.
A correct call would’ve given Indiana the ball with a one-point lead and 4.4 seconds left. That wouldn’t have guaranteed a Pacers win, but it would have dramatically swung the results in their favor.
The two-minute report also noted Teague getting away with a travel on the prior possession. But, despite Monta Ellis getting two free throws, Indiana didn’t score on that possession anyway. As they say, ball don’t lie.
Leonard’s uncalled travel was the only missed call of note in the final two minutes — and it was huge.
Asked about having a gay teammate, Amar’e Stoudemire said: “I’m going to shower across the street. Make sure my change of clothes are around the corner. And I’m going to drive — take a different route to the gym.”
Stoudemire, who starred for the Suns and Knicks and now plays in Israel, was even asked whether he was joking. Instead of diffusing the situation, he dug his hole deeper by saying, “There’s always a truth within a joke.”
And now comes the inevitable apology.
Stoudemire in a statement, via Eurohoops.net:
I want to apologize for my offensive comments against the LGBT community. These remarks were taken from a larger interview where a reporter was asking me hypothetical questions, and all my answers had a comedic undertone. The answers I gave were meant to be taken as jokes & I am deeply sorry for offending anyone. I am open to creating a dialogue to assist the fight the LGBT community encounters daily and will continue focus on playing basketball”
There might be a time and place for that type of joke, but it wasn’t appropriate for a broad audience of strangers — the exact group who’d see Stoudemire’s interview. Simply echoing misguided fears about a persecuted minority isn’t funny with no other context, and there was no other context here. Stoudemire wasn’t joking with old friends who knew his true feelings. He was speaking to the world.
It’s good Stoudemire apologized, but how many people already heard and internalized his harmful “jokes” based on the idea of all gay people being sexual predators? Stoudemire can’t completely walk this back with merely a statement.