Andre Drummond missed a pair of free throws in the fourth quarter and sat for the rest of the game. He’d been there before, looking unhappy on the bench while Stan Van Gundy avoided Bang-a-Drumm.
But the Pistons hadn’t been there before. They were clinching their first playoff berth in seven years, snapping a postseason drought that began before any current player joined the roster.
As his teammates cheered each other down the stretch, Drummond sat and sulked at the end of the bench. He didn’t even join huddles during timeouts.
Drummond, via Aaron McCann of MLive:
“I was sad,” Drummond said. “I was thinking about something else throughout the game. I obviously didn’t have a good showing during the game, but everybody has games like that. I said it a couple weeks back when I lost my best friend, that I was going to try and get into the playoffs for him. And when we did it, the emotions started running through me.”
“On my part, it was selfish,” Drummond said. “But everybody has emotions and everybody goes through certain parts of their life. We won the game, and that’s when it kind of really hit me. I couldn’t really control the feeling I had. I did apologize for the way I acted – it looked a certain way, but it wasn’t. That’s really just what it was.”
“Age doesn’t matter. I’ve been here for four years now,” Drummond said. “That’s unacceptable for what I did, no matter what the circumstances were. No, I did apologize. Something like that won’t happen again. That was selfish on my part. I should have been celebrating with my teammates.”
It’s unfortunate that Drummond’s friend died, and everyone grieves in their own ways. Drummond’s reaction – whether totally because of his loss or frustration due to missed free throws landing him on the bench – was human.
But Drummond also holds a high-pressure job that demands players put aside personal issues or channel them into their play. Obviously, that matters less when he’s sitting on the bench than in the game. But Drummond – Detroit’s best and soon to be highest-paid player – still holds influence from the bench. His teammates look to him as a natural leader given his status as the franchise’s longest-tenured player. It doesn’t help if they’re distracted, wondering about Drummond’s overt and sudden change in mood.
Drummond needn’t apologize for feeling a certain way – but it matters when his response to those feelings affects others. This is a small issue for a young player to learn from.
Mostly, Drummond is probably being too hard on himself.