Jeremy 2.0. Last Thursday night, Jeremy Hunt became the 42nd player in
Memphis Tiger history (and the eighth under John Calipari) to score his 1,000th
career point. Based on where Hunt was a year ago -- "permanently" suspended from
the program for his involvement in a pair of altercations, though still enrolled
in school -- he's probably the least likely member of this elite club to have
reached the milestone. And one of the first to do so as a sixth man, making
waves off the Tiger bench unlike many seen in recent U of M history.
I'll blame it on the curse of indecision, my inner Hamlet. Just couldn't decide
among three topics this week, so I'll share some thoughts on each. One at a
After the Tigers' blowout victory over Rice, I asked Hunt if he had actually
benefited from the year off, that being so close to the program, yet so far away
during his suspension, made him a better player and person today. "Last year was
a test," he said. "It was to see if I could grow up or not. I took on a lot of
things, and it definitely panned out. If this team hadn't let me back, I
wouldn't be here. So I thank everybody involved with that. It feels like a big
"I didn't know [Hunt was that close]," said Calipari, "and I really didn't want
to leave him in the game. But they told me he just needed four points. I'm happy
for him." Needless to say, the coach and his players have their sights on larger
things than individual achievement this season. But for Jeremy Hunt --
1,000-point scorer, college graduate -- redemption is mighty sweet.
Trade, shmade. Perhaps second only to the NBA All-Star Game on sports'
hype-o-meter are NBA trade rumors. One February after another, superstars are
rumored to be on the move. Jason Kidd to the Lakers! Vince Carter to Orlando!
Pau Gasol . . . a Bull! And one February after another, the deals seem to crawl
back into a hole like so many shadow-seeking groundhogs.
I'm convinced Grizzlies president Jerry West will have Memphis in his rearview
well before the 2007-08 season opens, but Mr. Logo did exactly the right thing
in retaining Gasol, the Memphis bargaining chip in so many of the overleaked
trade discussions. (Dallas? Where would Gasol fit on the floor with Dirk
Nowitzki?) The Gasol-Memphis marriage is one worth saving, at least as long as
it takes to find out where the Grizzlies' ping-pong ball lands in this spring's
draft lottery. The image of Gasol alongside one Greg Oden just might be enough
to get that "For Sale" sign off West's front yard. Until the lottery, read all
you'd like about the blockbuster that sent Juan
Dixon from Portland to Toronto!
Remembering DJ. I'm saddened by the sudden death of Dennis Johnson. My high
school years in New England (1983-87) directly coincided with DJ's finest
seasons as a Boston Celtic. Larry Bird may have won three consecutive MVP awards
during that stretch, but Johnson was the glue of four consecutive Eastern
Conference champions, and two NBA champs. With three Hall of Famers -- Bird,
Kevin McHale, and Robert Parrish -- occupying the frontcourt for Boston, it was
up to Johnson as point guard to keep his star teammates happy and productive.
The consummate teammate. (It shouldn't be forgotten that Johnson had already won
a title -- with Seattle -- before any of those Hall of Famers made it to
My dad loved those Celtic teams. It was a time when basketball fans fell into
one of two camps: Magic's Lakers or Bird's Celtics. And New England's camp was
fortified. Boston's coach, K.C. Jones, hosted a summer clinic at Norwich
University where my dad taught. At the time (and somewhat to this day), those
Celtics felt like family. To lose Dennis Johnson at the age of
52 . . . it just plain hurts.