I don't like Novak Djokovic. I usually respect the soft-spoken, reserved humility that international athletes -- most notably, tennis players (see Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, even Maria Sharapova) -- bring into competition. It is a refreshing contrast in a country where so many sports stars are megalomaniacs one can hardly notice those who aren't.
Then came Novak Djokovic.
He (predictably) beat Andy Roddick in the U.S. Open last year, and when interviewed on-court following the match, decided centrecourt in New York City was a good place to deride Roddick for commenting on Djokovic's ever-expanding list of injuries. He got the crap booed out of him, deservedly so. But it didn't change the fact that he had appeared so, so graceless in victory.
And Roddick's comments were fairly harmless. Djokovic does come up injured a lot, especially in a sport where conditioning is probably more important than talent. But even if Roddick had spit in Djokovic's face, Djokovic could have taken the high road. But he apparently doesn't get that concept.
So flash forward to yesterday, when the two played again in the QF of the Australian Open. Roddick beat Djokovic in four sets in a match in which the on-court heat index topped out around 145. Well, it was more like three and a half sets.
Because Djokovic couldn't finish the match!
Wait a minute...isn't this the same guy who verbally crapped on Roddick for making a conversation out of Djokovic's subpar physical condition? I think it was.
Nice match, Roddick. My distaste for Djokovic almost made stomachable one reporter's post-match question to the effect of "shouldn't you know when your body is going to give out, maybe to help you finish the match?" (It was something comparably asinine.) I actually agree with the tone of Djokovic's answer -- "easy for you to say." What a stupid question. Reporters never cease to underachieve.
-I said in October of 2006 that Brandon Roy or Rudy Gay would win ROY that year, and both would be superstars in the NBA eventually. (I swear to God I said this. I have a friend who will testify in court if need be.) Well, Rudy Gay is not quite as superstardom, but he is quietly averaging 18.5 points, 5.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game. (And just because one man is "not a big Gay guy" [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RXaERVhNuU] doesn't mean Gay isn't worth championing.)
Roy, on the other hand, is there. (And he did win ROY in 2006-07.) He put up 33 points last night on fifteen shots (11-15). He is leading a resurgent Blazers team in points (22.6, tenth in the NBA), and also netting 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. Slight increases in all three categories, and we're talking Wade/Kobe/LeBron-type numbers.
How did I know these two would be good? They were outstanding college players, but there is one measurement that always makes for a relatively seamless transition from college to pro -- size at shooting guard, especially where the player is a slasher in college (as both of these guys were). Roy and Gay are 6'6'' and 6'8'', respectively. That's some big size for a shooting guard.
Who will be Roy- and Gay-like in the 2009 Draft Class? More on that later.
-There was some college player who made an AMAZING layup on Sunday. The hang time and mid-air adjustment were Jordan-esque. If anyone knows who this was and/or has video of it, please let me know.
-Terrell Suggs is now to be considered a selfless athlete. It is a deserved label considering he wants to take a discount (as an unrestricted free agent) to stay with the Ravens, and he is making a plea that Ray Lewis and Bart Scott do the same. Terrell Suggs is also smart -- why wouldn't he want to keep the best defense in the NFL (over the last [sideways-8] years) together?
I hope Scott and Lewis do the same. (I also hope there's no manslaughter involved -- yes, I'm looking at you, Ray.)
Rap line of the moment: "Never forget where you from, or the block'll ban you / I keep my ear to the streets just like a cocker spaniel." Ludacris, Southern Gangsta