I know a little bit about getting one chance to crack a rotation, one chance to finally get some minutes.
One chance to possibly shine.
Unfortunately for me, my one chance to play was but a brief interval from my otherwise bench-riding college career.
But I’ll save that story for another day…
For now, I’ll keep it to the Celtics; With Rajon Rondo likely out tonight (although Doc Rivers hasn’t entirely ruled it out), J.R. Giddens is slated to make the first start of his NBA career. As any player would be, Giddens seems anxious and excited to make the start. After one and a half years of picking splinters out of his butt, to finally get the opportunity to play some extended minutes has J.R. “Giddy”. (Please laugh at my horrible attempt at a pun… please?)
Since getting the news that he might start, J.R. has beamed with hopefulness, nervous anxiety, and anticipation. Giddens told the Boston Globe, “It’s a Christmas present. I’m not going to focus on it. I’m pretty sure I’m going to play, and that’s what I’ve been waiting on.
“It’s hard not to be excited. It would mean a lot, an actual NBA game, let alone getting some significant minutes. You’ve seen me – I’m anxious to get out there and show my gifts to the world. It’s crazy. I woke up this morning and wasn’t expecting this. Being a first-round pick and not having a chance to play, it’s very humbling. For this opportunity, I feel fortunate and blessed to get it.
“I just want to get some minutes and produce and show what I can do to help the team.”
Like any other player, Giddens wants to play, and he wants to help his team. For him, it must be tough to sit back and watch his teammates win games, knowing he had little to no impact on the outcome. Yeah, it’s nice to win, and he should be fortunate to be in a winning atmosphere on a contender… but far better than winning games is knowing you actually had a role in winning them.
For a year and a half, Giddens has toiled on the bench or in the D-League, knowing most nights he would never hear Doc Rivers call his name. He was on a team that won 62 regular-season games last season, but how many of them did he really win?
In high school, my friend once told me after missing a loss with an injury, “Man, I didn’t lose that game. You guys lost that game.” If you use that calculation, last year J.R. Giddens didn’t win 62 games… he won three, and he lost three. (Note: In the same way my friend didn’t lose that one game and J.R didn’t win all those games, I didn’t go 2-22 my freshman year in college along with the rest of my team; I was 2-11, baby.)
From a standpoint of being a team player, you really shouldn’t look at wins and losses like that; the entire team wins and the entire team loses, not just the people who play the most minutes.
To that I say, “Blah, blah, blah.” If you don’t play minutes, you aren’t helping your team win. It may not be the right way to look at things, the politically correct way to look at things, or the way a coach would want you to look at things, but it’s the truth.
Just think about it: How much has a guy like Lester Hudson really helped his team this season? Every time he’s inserted into a game, the outcome is already decided. The only thing left in doubt is whether the Celtics will win by 20 points or 30. You and I have both helped the Celtics win as many games as Hudson. I’m not saying you and I are as good as Hudson, or that the Celtics should sign me to a ten-day contract and see what I can do…
No, what I’m trying to say is that Hudson’s biggest contribution to the team — really, his only contribution to the team to this point — has been as injury insurance. Hudson is somebody to have around in case three starters and two other rotation players are injured (sounds like right now, doesn’t it?), and there’s no other option but to play him minutes.
Just like Hudson, Giddens has simply been injury insurance to this point in his career. Today, for the first time since he was drafted, it looks like the Celtics will finally need to exercise their insurance policy and let Giddens play some minutes.
Maybe he’ll impress, and maybe he’ll earn some more playing time with a great game.
But far more likely, Giddens will again be relegated to the bench as soon as Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Marquis Daniels return from injury. Far more likely, he’ll be right back to picking splinters out of his backside as soon as the injury gods shine a little health Boston’s way. Far more likely, he’ll go right back to being nothing more than injury insurance.
It’s refreshing to see such excitement from an NBA player about the chance to play minutes, but the fact of the matter is…
J.R. Giddens’ opportunity will likely be short-lived.