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“Let’s see … Irving missed 26 of 37 games at Duke, then 15 of 66 games as a Cavs rookie and 23 of 82 games this season. In three years, he’s played 121 games and missed 64. So far he’s torn ligaments in his big toe; sprained one shoulder; broken his hand; suffered a concussion; broken a finger on his non-shooting hand; broken a bone in his jaw; hyperextended a knee; and sprained the other shoulder.
Was that a series of fluke injuries … or a more ominous pattern that spells out the words, “KYRIE CAN’T STAY ON THE COURT”? Durability is really 25 percent luck and 75 percent DNA. You can’t do anything about Patrick Beverley slamming into your knee as you’re calling a timeout; that’s in the 25 percent. Mike D’Antoni playing you too many minutes until your 35-year-old body breaks down; that’s in the 25 percent. But grinding out 36 to 38 minutes a game for six to eight months per year, fighting off nagging injuries and bringing it year after year after year? That’s in your DNA. That’s the 75 percent.
My favorite example for this topic: John Stockton and Kevin Johnson. Before he saved the Kings and turned himself into Seattle’s Archenemy, KJ was an absolutely devastating offensive player; nobody could stay in front of him. He’s one of the few guards I can ever remember who made good defenders start backing up just by making it seem like hemight make a move. Stockton didn’t have that first step or KJ’s power around the rim, but he mastered everything that went into playing point guard — specifically, setting up teammates, running fast breaks, picking his spots and doing everything in the most efficient way possible.
Of course, that wasn’t his greatest talent. Stockton played 19 seasons in all. In 17 of those seasons, he played every possible game. He missed four games in the 1989-90 season, and he missed 18 in the 1997-98 season. That’s it. He also played 182 of a possible 182 playoff games. So if you’re scoring at home, John Stockton played 1,686 of a possible 1,708 professional basketball games. Think about that. It’s freaking astounding. He played in nearly 99 percent of the games he could have played.
On the flip side: Kevin Johnson’s body broke down as his career went along. The first five years were fine — he played 80 (52 games with the Cavs before being traded to Phoenix), 81, 74, 77 and 78 games for the Suns, also playing all 40 of their playoff games and even making three straight second-team All-NBA’s. Then the wheels came off: 49, 67, 47, 56, 70, 50, 0, 6. Ask anyone who played fantasy basketball in the ’90s — when someone took Kevin Johnson, everyone else snickered. He couldn’t stay on the court. His hammies were made out of papier-mâché.
So we’ll see about Irving, an electric offensive player who is already one of the league’s best clutch scorers. He’s only two years into a favorable rookie contract. And he’s also just 21 years old, a baby for God’s sake. There’s a lot to love. Ironically, I think he’s Kevin Johnson 2.0 as a basketball player — just as devastating off the dribble, just as unstoppable getting to the rim. Let’s hope that comparison doesn’t stretch to his durability, too.” [Simmons/Grantland]
“Even in the two percent of calls that need reviewed, I would expect few to be overturned. My philosophy has always been that if you haven’t decided a review within thirty seconds, the original call should stand. You don’t want to end up with a situation like the NFL where the ref stands under a hood for ten minutes trying to get every call perfect. That shouldn’t be necessary in baseball anyway, because the calls are not as complex. Calls should only be overturned if the original call was clearly blown, and if you need to look ten or fifteen times to make your decision, you don’t have conclusive evidence of a blown call, so let it stand. If I was in the replay booth for Rosales’ home run, would I have overturned the original call? Like I said, it took about five looks before I was convinced. But I was looking at it through the biased eyes of an Indians fan and on a TV where the HD comes and goes. If it had been my job to get the call right and I had the proper tools, I think I would have gotten it right. But that really points to the need to eliminate as many of these judgment calls as possible by making the definition of a home run more obvious. Imagine if the three point line in basketball hovered about four feet above the court, so that whether a shot was worth three points was determined by where your chest was rather than your feet. Would that lead to more bad calls? This is about as logical as that would be.” [Mount/Wahoo’s On First]
“The biggest question is how many of those young arms will be needed? It is hard to tell, though it is nice that Cleveland management stocked up on enough of them that all the bases appear to be covered. Should Jimenez revert to the starter he was much of last year most of April, it may not be as bad. Kazmir has made four starts. His first was discouraging. However, he looked more like his former All-Star self in his last two starts. No guarantees with him, however.
McAllister, Kluber and Bauer represent the future of the Indians rotation. The future could be coming sooner than expected. Where that idea was once thought to mean the 2013 season would be in jeopardy, it now may mean the opposite. Cleveland’s rookie and second-year hurlers are showing the squad can win with them in the rotation now. Cleveland’s young pitching has been a pleasant surprise. If the Indians do reach the postseason this year, it will be the emergence of the youthful arms that likely will have propelled the club to those heights.” [Gifford/Did The Tribe Win Last Night]
Dawgs by Nature breaks down the facts of first day of Browns rookie camp. [Pokorny/Dawgs By Nature]