When Marquis Daniels left the Boston Celtics for personal matters, they just hoped he’d come back soon.
While Iverson has become the poster boy for what not to do as a teammate, Daniels has proven to be the epitome of a selfless player. He made $6.86 million last year and set career highs in points and rebounds; nobody could have blamed Daniels if he took the biggest deal he could get and played for whatever team offered him the most money and a starting job. After all, Daniels is entering the prime of his career. He’s already made big money, but Daniels’ age is when a lot of guys aim for that one last big contract.
Instead, Daniels signed with the Celtics — to come off the bench behind two All-Stars — for less money than he would have gotten elsewhere. He signed a one-year deal, so Daniels has every incentive to play for next year’s contract. Despite being in a contract year, he’s content doing whatever the Celtics need him to, anything to help the C’s win games.
His stats (5.7 points, 2.9 assists, 2.1 rebounds) certainly don’t jump off the page. In fact, they scream out “Worthless bum!” But the way he affects the entire Boston second unit is easily noticeable for anybody who watches the Celtics play. For a Celtics fandom that spent so much time last season harping on Tony Allen’s shortcomings, Daniels is, well, the anti-Tony Allen. Allen is known for his boneheaded mistakes, stupid drives to the basket, and ill-advised shots. He fouls the opposing team at the worst possible times, often on jumpshots.
Daniels, on the other hand, does whatever it takes for the Celtics to win. His stats aren’t going to put him on the All-Star team (hell, they aren’t even better than Allen’s stats from last year), but Daniels does all the “little things” that make a big difference. He moves the ball, takes good shots, and penetrates into the teeth of the opposing team’s defense. He handles the ball, leaving Eddie House to roam the three-point arc rather than being harassed by the opposing PG. Daniels plays good defense on his man and great position defense when his man doesn’t have the ball. Doc Rivers raves about Daniels’ basketball IQ, and talks about how much better the second unit operates with Daniels on the floor.
After a year of Tony Allen, Daniels is a human sigh of relief. He won’t light up the scoreboard, he’s not going to drain threes, and he probably won’t play many crunch-time minutes at all. But when he’s in there, you can feel confident that 1) he won’t do anything destructive to the team, 2) he will do positive things, even when he isn’t scoring, and 3) he’s not Tony Allen.
Especially with Iverson’s tired act of refusing to come off the bench, everything Daniels has done for the Celtics, everything he’s sacrificed to help the team, makes him look like a great teammate. Iverson put up nice stats in his first three games with Memphis (maybe his ONLY three games in Memphis), but watching the way he put up those stats you realize he’s a selfish gunner who, at this stage of his career, doesn’t make his teammates better.
Iverson controlled the ball, isolating early and often, completely foregoing his teammates and never involving them in plays. He took contested pullup jumpers off one pass. He dribbled the ball excessively. He turned the ball over by trying to do too much. For those three games, Iverson averaged 12.3 points, 3.7 assists and 1.3 rebounds while shooting 57.7% from the floor. On the surface, those numbers look great, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find out that Iverson had a negative +/- in every game he played for the Grizzlies. By monopolizing the ball and turning it over frequently, Iverson completely limited any contributions his teammates would have made. He scored a lot, but Iverson did none of the little things to help the Grizzlies emerge victorious.
Contrasting Daniels and Iverson, you find one player who makes sacrifices to help his team win, who is fine with coming off the bench as long as he can contribute to “W’s”. The other player? Well, let’s just say he’s a malcontent who has never gotten the concept of team basketball.
Just in case it wasn’t painfully obvious, Marquis Daniels (not Iverson??) is the unselfish player who has foregone more money and a starting role for the chance to win a ring, then adapted his game to fit the Celtics’ needs.
Iverson is now said to be contemplating retirement, frustrated by his role as a sixth man.
And Daniels? He’ll be back for the Celtics on Wednesday, willing to fulfill whatever role Doc requests.