Deputizing a former Razorback basketball player is a convenient and accurate way to articulate the attitude about NBA teams resting players.
“I think that’s a disgrace to this league,” Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverly said recently. “I think that fans deserve better.”
Beverly’s route to the NBA shapes his obligation to those who buy tickets. A star at a Chicago high school, Beverly played two years at Arkansas and left for Ukraine after the 2007-08 season. In 2009, he admitted turning in a college paper he didn’t write.
“I served my punishment … going overseas,” he said. “It wasn’t because of grades. A person volunteered to do my paper. I wasn’t thinking.”
He matured in Ukraine, he said, learning from a former NBA assistant and from older teammates, including one who was 38, same age as his mother at the time.
At 6-foot-2, he was considered too small to be a shooting guard, but he improved his game overseas and was drafted 42nd in 2009 by Los Angeles. Now, he is a point guard with the Rockets, averaging 28 minutes per game, and making $6 million per year. That is almost $90,000 for each of the 67 regular-season games he started — piddling, maybe, to LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Mike Conley, and the many others on the plus side of $20 million — but much appreciated by somebody who played for far less. By the way, his reasons for missing 11 games included arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, a quadriceps contusion, and right wrist soreness.
Even if coaches ask players about resting, Beverly said late last month, “It’s up to you to play or not, and if you don’t, you’re disrespecting the game. And I don’t believe in disrespecting the game, because there was a time where I wasn’t playing in the NBA and I was trying to get here.”
Interestingly, James Harden — a Beverly teammate and one of the highest paid players in the league — started 81 regular-season games this year, 82 last year, and 81 the previous year.
So, a family that plans a trip to see “The Beard,” is likely to succeed. Not so with some players and such an outing can be expensive.
For example, on the last day of the NBA season, an online search for tickets to the Cleveland game turned up seats that started at $50 and were 12 rows deep in the second deck.
No doubt, new arenas are more conducive to watching basketball, but sitting in one of the thousands of empty nosebleed seats to watch a holiday tournament game in the New Orleans Superdome prior to Arkansas vs. Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1980 was a waste.
That observation is from somebody who does not care if an acrobatic 6-foot-9 athlete can throw a basketball down through the basket, but understands that others don’t appreciate the power and finesse of golf.
Anyway, imagine the frustration after paying for seats, travel, accommodations, food, souvenirs, parking, etc., and the objection of a family’s affection is in street clothes. Consider the working stiff’s expenditure vs. the highest paid NBA players getting more than $250,000 per 48-minute contest.
Playing in the NBA might cause some wear and tear, but years earlier, the same athletes embraced pickup games for hours on concrete courts or in gyms for nothing. Besides, in-your-face defense is not employed every minute of the regular season and the athletes do fly specially equipped charters.
Quoting an NFL pre-game show, “C’mon, man!”
More than 30 NFL players could be fined for participating in an arm wrestling contest at a hotel/casino in Las Vegas because of a league policy that prohibits NFL personnel from promotional appearances at a casino, but that same league voted 31-1 to move a franchise to Sin City.
Can’t wait to see prohibitions against players, coaches, and members of the officiating crew walking through a casino en route to a restaurant.
Harry King is sports columnist for GateHouse Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org