The Dallas Mavericks have reached the Finals of the NBA Playoffs, and their depth has been a big reason why they’ve had so much success. Though they only have one superstar in Dirk Nowitzki, their strength is that they have eight other solid-to-good players on their roster. One of whom is backup center Brendan Haywood, who despite playing only 18 minutes per game is extremely valuable because he gives Dallas another sturdy defensive presence in the middle. Apparently ESPN analyst Mark Jackson doesn’t see it that way.
When starting center Tyson Chandler committed his third foul early in the third quarter of Game 1 against the Heat, Haywood checked into the game. Play-by-play man Mike Breen said it’s been a nice benefit to have a guy like Haywood available off the bench. He then related a story about how Heat exec Pat Riley made a recruiting visit over the summer to Haywood at his home in North Carolina. Haywood signed with the Mavs instead, thinking he was going to be their starter until they locked down Chandler.
Upon hearing the story, Jackson was incensed.
“What has this League come to?” Jackson opined. “I’m not going to see Brendan Haywood at his house to recruit him. Come back to me, Coach Riley.”
Jeff Van Gundy asked in surprise, “You don’t think he deserves a visit?” Jackson responded by saying Haywood should have to meet them halfway.
At best, it was a sad attempt at being humorous during the NBA Finals. At worst, it was a horribly ill-timed jab that indicates Jackson doesn’t understand all the pieces that go into building a championship team. Breen just got done explaining how having Haywood off the bench gives Chandler the freedom to play aggressively on the defensive end. Chandler’s presence in the middle has helped the Mavericks become a tougher team on the interior. How can one not see the value in that, and the role Haywood plays in it?
It’s not the first time we’ve heard Jackson say something somewhat controversial, but given the circumstance (the Mavs are in the Finals), I’d say whatever strategy they employed was pretty wise. Jackson comes off as looking foolish, not to mention disrespectful for the comments.Google+