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Why drafting for character and hustle matters over "talent"

Yes, the "Psycho T" backlash here is pretty evident. If you listen to the Tyler Hansbrough Haters, they say that he has no ceiling. He's a poor man's Jeff Foster (scary, indeed). He's all hustle, no talent. In today's NBA, for some that translates into "bench player." For some, Hansbrough at 13 was akin to simply passing on the pick entirely. They might as well have drafted Fredrick Weis' younger brother "Willy."

Man of Pace:

Tyler is not going to be the player people think he will be.

Tyler is too slow to play professional defense. I expect to see him embarrassed regularly for several years on the court. Imagine how Dwight Howard will be blocking his shot off his forehead regularly.

Thirty One:

Personally I think they can take this draft and shove it. They got nothing in either round I care to see on the court. A.J. is a scumbag who has been arrested multiple times and Hansbrough was loathed by almost every non-Carolina fan in the country. I can’t even fake an interest in watching these two guys play basketball.

And my personal favorite (because it is just THAT bat shit crazy) is by the ironically named the common sense avenger:

The organization has this mindset that every white guy could be the next Larry Bird. They continue to keep drafting hacks in the hopes they might strike gold (Scott haskin, Greg Dreiling, etc) The team got lucky with Rik Smits, and they only got 4-5 good years out of him(by the way,where is our 2nd round pick from last year?) The pacers continue their racord of 1 out of about every 6 1st round picks worth a crap( Bender=turd harrington=turd haskin=turd)

Forget the fact that Scott Haskins was drafted 16 years ago and Greg Dreiling 23 years ago. Forget that the last few Pacers drafts featured guys named Brandon Rush (black), Danny Granger (black), Roy Hibbert (black), and Shawne Williams (black). You have to appreciate a special kind of "fan" who thinks that a team whose roster is 90% black, and who hasn't drafted a white guy since Austin Croshere back in 1997 has a hard on for finding "the next Larry Bird." 

Anyway, a few other comments post-draft riffed on the debate of talent v. character. One of the was mine. I wrote this just after the Hansbrough pick:

The Pacers are rebuilding with "high effort" players, not "upside" guys with questionable character. We tried that already, and it got us no where. They are also waiting until some of the huge salary players (Dunleavy, Murphy, Tinsely, etc.) come off the books. This will allow them to go out and sign some marquis players.

My comment was greeted with responses that argued for a more boom-or-bust approach by the Pacers. Why not take a risk on some talent? some wondered. For many, Hansbrough is too "safe," too predictable. Many just flat out hate Hansbrough, but I think you can dismiss those people as "haters." When I guy dominates in college for four years, he doesn't "suck." 

The reason Indiana drafted Hansbrough is because of his work ethic, hustle, and drive. Those traits were key in his college success, and they are traits many people look for when they watch real basketball. In addition, Hansbrough's personality off the court was very attractive to Pacers brass. This is a smart, polite, earnest kid who just wants to play basketball. With Hansbrough, you know exactly what you are getting, and for a team looking to scrub away the terrible image it had built with players like Jamal Tinsley, Stephen Jackson, and Shawn Williams, guys like Hansbrough, Granger, and Rush are the kinds of people you need.

Indiana wants hard workers, not idiots who shoot at people in strip club parking lots.

Now, one of the people Pacers fans were hoping would still be around at #13 was Brandon Jennings. Jennings, you may recall, was drafted at #10 by the Bucks. Now, despite Jennings' talent, he is a 19-year-old player with zero college experience. He's also got a big mouth. Gee, that sounds like a great combo.

Well, recently, Brandon had a chat with his friend, rapper Joe Budden. Now, you tell me-- Should the Pacers have made a push to get a player like this:

On next season in Milwaukee ...

Budden: You better worry about Ramon Sessions, diggin' in your a**, pause.
Jennings: He's not going to be here. [inaudible] That money is going to Charlie.
Budden: N****, Ramon Sessions is gonna be there.
Jennings: I doubt it.
Budden: They ain't go no other guards.
Jennings: Ridnour.
Budden: N****, get that bum-a** n**** outta here.
Jennings: He's going to be a backup.
Budden: To who?
Jennings: To who? Who else n****?

On what happened on draft night ...

Budden: Who was hatin' on you?
Jennings: Jay Bilas.
Budden: What happened? You ran in the draft late or some dumb s*** like a loser?
Jennings: No, I was at the hotel. This is what happened right. My agent is like "Well, we ain't hear nothing .We ain't have no guarantee." So we makin' phone calls and s*** and n***** is saying like "The workouts is great and everything and he's the best point guard but we don't know yet, we just don't know."
Budden: They didn't say that about Rick Rubio, number one, and number two they didn't say you the best point guard. They said your jump shot is shaky, you got some potential, but your work ethic is bull****. You averaged 3 points.
Jennings: You're a liar. I know you're lying now.
Budden: I'm just telling you what they said.
Jennings: That ain't nothing but a college person.
Budden: Just tell me what happened. You end up running in the draft? I tunred it off after that.
Jennings: No, n****, I came out there and made my appearance n**** and I had the best appearance out of all them n******. And I was the best dressed, they said, by the way. I was the best dressed.

On whether he'll start next season ...

Budden: You think you gonna start for real though?
Jennings: I don't know, actually, I really don't know.
Budden: I heard that n**** Scott Skiles is an a**h***.
Jennings: That n**** tough, that n**** tough though. There must be a reason he liked me. There must be a reason.

On Ricky Rubio and the Knicks ...

Budden: Let me know when Minnesota get there. So I can watch Rubio light your f****** a** up. I never seen a n**** hate on Rubio so much.
Jennings: [inaudible]
Budden: You know what's funny? You're the only guard in the draft talking s*** about Rubio.
Jennings: The other n***** are scared.
Budden: What are you going to do when Rubio comes to the Knicks?
Jennings: Rubio is not coming, they are not giving up Rubio. You got Jordan Hill, you happy with that?
Budden: I don't really know enough about Jordan Hill to be happy ... I'm happy with Toney Douglas.
Jennings: I know they were booing this n****.
Budden: What does that mean? They boo everybody n****.
Jennings: If it was Stpehen Curry, them n***** would've went crazy in there.
Budden: Shut the f*** up, you don't even know nothing about New York basketball.
Jennings: F*** the Knicks, them n***** skipped out on me.
Budden: Oh man, you feel to the Knicks like I do about Jay-Z? [Laughs] Yo, the Knicks is your Jay-Z?
Jennings: F*** the Knicks, them n***** is always going to be weak.
Budden: This is where I f****** hang up on your f****** ass for talking stupid.
Jennings: Duhon ain't gonna get it done.

Clearly, this is a stellar individual who the Pacers can use to scrub clean their dirty image.

Jennings is a top 10 pick. He's also a classless prick, and such people do not thrive in Indiana. You can make whatever judgement you want about Midwesterners and their "values," but the bottom line is the player and the team must play the game the right way and conduct thmeselves as professionals.

Otherwise, they're garbage, and not worth spending hard earned money watching.

Remember, the Pacers have to compete with the Colts for fans. You think a Colts player would last five seconds on that team if they were ever caught saying something like what Jennings says? Not only does he insult future NBA colleagues and other NBA teams, he uses the word "nigger" about as many times as Southern Plantation owner circa 1865.

And please, save me the excuses that "he's only 19" or the pathetic one that "when black men say 'nigger' it's ok." No, and no.

If you are wanting to become a PROFESSIONAL, you must act like one. Even at 19. If you are unable to, go to college or something. Jennings is talented enough to get a full ride to a great school. If he chooses not to do that, then he is expected to be as mature as someone who went through school. To play the professional's game, you must be expected to act professional. If this were someone on an NFL team saying these kinds of things, he'd get pile driven into a goal post by one of the veterans. This is a big reason why the NFL thrives while pro basketball dies.

People like football players better than basketball players. Footbal players, in general, act more professional. There is also a cutoff age (see Maurice Clarrett). Take note, NBA.

I won't go into the silly "n-word debate." "Nigger" is a derogatory word created by white people with the expressed intent to demean black people. When black people use it themselves to describe themselves, they demean themselves. Whether they know it or not, they do. And if you are trying to convey that you are someone worth a damn, calling yourself or other people "nigger" is not advisable no matter what race you are. End of cultural lecture.

This is what it means to draft character over talent. Brandon Jennings might have more talent than Tyler Hansbrough, but after listening to Jennings little chat, it's pretty clear he is an immature punk in desperate need of some growing up. He can do that on someone else's dime. I do not pay the price of admission to watch Larry Bird and Jim O'Brien baby sit spoiled children. I expect to see grown men compete passionately and professionally in a game they love. If I don't get that, there are plenty of other things going on to entertain me. And while other cities and teams enjoy the Jennings-like player, Indiana has had enough of them. Give us the Grangers and the Hansbroughs. The guys who give you exactly what you expect.

For the Indiana Pacers right now, that is what they need. Like it or not.

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