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Pine Time Players

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by xiki, Aug 24, 2004.

  1. xiki

    xiki Contributing Member

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    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/basketball/nba/2004-08-24-bench-players_x.htm

    Posted 8/24/2004 1:18 AM Updated 8/24/2004 1:24 AM

    Bench players don't feel they're taking a back seat
    By Jim Halley, USA TODAY

    An 11-year NBA veteran, Scott Hastings spent more time on the bench than a Supreme Court justice.

    Despite averaging less than 11 minutes and three points a game, Hastings was always in demand as an 11th or 12th man. His mantra for survival was "No job too small." (Related item: From bench to coach)

    "My first year in Denver — it would have been my 10th year in the league — we were coming back from a road trip and I was helping pull off the team's bags from the baggage carousel," Hastings said. "I'm looking at the other young guys, and they're climbing on the bus."

    Hastings and other longtime NBA bench warmers outlasted perhaps more talented players by doing the little things on and off the court.

    "I had pride in my game even though I never played," Hastings said. "It kept me in the league a lot longer."

    Greg Dreiling played for 10 seasons in the NBA and averaged 2.1 points a game. Ed Nealy played for 10 seasons, averaging 2.7 points and 3.3 rebounds a game. Chuck Nevitt played for nine seasons, averaging 1.6 points and 1.5 rebounds a game.

    Riding the pine

    Longtime bench warmers in other sports:

    Baseball
    Position players who played 10 or more seasons yet had fewer than 800 career at-bats and never more than 220 in a season:
    Seasons Player Career at-bats
    11 Arndt Jorgens 738
    11 Randy Knorr* 676
    11 Josh Billings 488
    10 Jim Beauchamp 661
    10 Sammy Esposito 792
    10 Trenidad Hubbard* 762
    10 John Marzano 794
    10 Charlie Silvera 482
    10 Matt Sinatro 252
    10 John Vukovich 559
    Football
    Quarterbacks who played at least 10 seasons yet had fewer than 350 completions in their career:

    13 Jeff Rutledge 274
    12 Matt Cavanaugh 305
    11 Mark Herrmann 334
    10 David Humm 63
    Hockey
    Goalies who played at least 10 seasons and never played 2,000 minutes in any season:
    Seasons Name
    11 Wade Flaherty*
    11 Jeff Reese
    10 Mike Veisor
    11 Jimmy Waite*

    *active player
    Source: Elias Sports Bureau

    Many of these career bench warmers were big men who could rebound and play defense. Hastings is 6-11, Dreiling 7-1 and Nevitt 7-5.

    "There's just such a premium on big men in the league," said Phil Johnson, a 31-year NBA coaching veteran who's an assistant with the Utah Jazz. "If you get a big guy hurt, it's hard to get somebody to replace him."

    Others, such as 6-1 point guard John Crotty, made dependability an art form. Still others, such as Antonio Harvey, could play several positions.

    "At 6-foot-10, 220, I could use my height to guard any position from two guard to center," said Harvey, who played for six NBA teams and three college teams.

    While PTPs (pine-time performers) don't earn the money the top players in the league do, the pay is still better than they would get outside the league, especially in recent years. When Crotty broke into the NBA in 1992, he received $140,000. In 2001-02, his last full season in the NBA, he was paid $1 million. Still, by contrast with the league's highest-paid stars, career bench warmers are paid less today than they were more than a decade ago.

    In 1991 Hastings earned $450,000 for the Detroit Pistons and Nealy, another PTP, made $550,000 for the Phoenix Suns. The top-paid player in the league that season was the Cleveland Cavaliers' Hot Rod Williams, who made $5 million, or more than nine times what Nealy made and just over 11 times more than Hastings. Last season the Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Garnett pulled down $28 million, more than 11 times the $2.5 million career reserve Andrew DeClercq made for the Orlando Magic.

    But making less isn't what most NBA reserves have difficulty adjusting to. It's playing less.

    "A lot of guys like me had some margin of success in college, and a lot of them struggled with being a role player after college," Hastings said. He noted he didn't adapt until his fourth or fifth year in the league.

    After once embarrassing himself in garbage time, Hastings began paying more attention on the bench and kept himself in shape, mentally and physically, for whatever opportunity arose.

    "I remember one time that Michael Jordan was killing us when I was with the Hawks," Hastings said. "It was his first or second year, and he was pretty much running up and down and dunking on us. Coach (Mike) Fratello called me into the game and said, 'I want him on his (butt).' That was my job."

    Harvey had the fortune to play alongside Los Angeles Lakers forward Kurt Rambis. Though a starter, the bespectacled Rambis taught Harvey what it took to be a longtime role player.

    "When I was a rookie with the Lakers, I would be at the gym at 4:30 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game, and Kurt and I would be on the court and he would be teaching me to play basketball. I think that's where a lot of being in the league for so long came from. If a coach told me to run as fast as I possibly could to get the other player tired, that's what I did."

    It comes down to knowing your role. Nealy knew when Cotton Fitzsimmons would use him.

    "Steve Kerr's rookie year, I sat on the end of the bench next to Kerr," Nealy said. "One time I just started taking my warm-ups off and Kerr asked me what I was doing. I told him I was going to be called in. He didn't believe me, but sure enough, Cotton called me over. There was a jump ball, Eddie Johnson was in, and he already had two fouls. And Cotton didn't want him picking up another before halftime, so I went in."

    In some cases, players survive by concentrating on defense. The slender Harvey couldn't hope to stop the 325-pound Shaquille O'Neal, so Harvey kept his arms up and his mouth shut when guarding the Big Diesel.

    "It was strange to be guarding Shaquille when I weighed 210, 220," Harvey said. "Obviously, you can't be afraid, but the only way to guard him was to be nice to him. You don't want to make him angry."

    Hastings said he occasionally frustrated Larry Bird because he was too slow to go for Bird's fakes.

    Hall of Fame players generally play longer than even the most tenacious bench warmer. Kareem Abdul Jabbar played for 20 seasons, and Moses Malone played for 21. But some players, obviously talented, don't last because they can't make the transition from star to sub. Just look at Harold Miner, Fly Williams or Rob Williams, none of whom lasted five seasons.

    "I think when you analyze what (longtime backups) do, they realize who they are and know what they can do and don't cause waves into what coaches are trying to do," Johnson said. "They understand they are there in a backup role, and they are always ready to go."

    Sometimes that means taking one for the team, whether drawing a charge or setting a hard pick.

    "Once I just flattened Jordan on a screen and Joe Dumars got open and got an easy jump shot," Hastings said. "The next time down, there's Jordan again, dogging Dumars on defense. I set up again, but before he got to the screen, Jordan slugged me right in the crotch. He got the foul, and I got the free throws."

    Longtime short-timers

    A team of players who played at least 10 years in the NBA while averaging no more than five points and 15 minutes a game:

    Pos. Player Seasons in league Points/ game Minutes/ game
    G Scott Brooks 10 4.9 13.6
    G John Crotty 11 4.0 12.2
    G Jud Buechler 12 3.3 11.7
    G Doug Overton* 11 4.5 14.6
    F Scott Hastings 11 2.8 10.4
    F Ed Nealy 10 2.7 12.6
    C Greg Kite 12 2.5 14.8
    C Paul Mokeski 12 4.0 14.0
    C Greg Dreiling 10 2.1 8.9
    C Jawann Oldham 10 4.4 15.9
    C Greg Foster 13 3.9 12.1
    C Bill Wennington 13 4.6 13.5

    Coach: Phil Jackson (12 seasons, 6.7 points a game)
    Assistant: Rick Carlisle (five seasons, 2.2 points a game)
    *active player
    Source: Elias Sports Bureau
     
  2. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    good article.
     
  3. xiki

    xiki Contributing Member

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    I enjoyed it, too. Those guys, for the most part, are a lot more fun than most 'superstars'.
     
  4. Davidoff

    Davidoff Contributing Member

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    Nice article
     
  5. Kayman

    Kayman Contributing Member

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    "outlasted perhaps more talented players by doing the little things on and off the court"... Blah-blah-blah.... Call it for what it is: NBA's unwritten AAWS policy. Affirmative Action for White Scrubs.
     
  6. jlwee

    jlwee Member

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    John Ameachi Houston Rockets 1/4 season 0 points 0 minutes :D
     
  7. dugtzu

    dugtzu Contributing Member

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    its only affirmative action if other races are competing for the job. most black ballers wouldnt want to put a crimp in there ghetto style by carrying someone's bags....
     
  8. jlaw718

    jlaw718 Contributing Member

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    I have a couple of thoughts on this. As someone of mixed race I have a little different perspective on this topic. I read posters who deride the fact that if there is a white player on an NBA team, he must be a 'token'. Yet, the same poster will charge a baseball team with very few blacks on it as possibly 'under-represented', not that they too have 'scrubs'. Why the opposing arguments? Why is an NBA team not 'under-represented'?

    Oh, I know the inevitable knee-jerk answer... basketball is a 'black man's game'. I find this answer offensive on several levels -- again trying to be intellectually consistent as someone who has heard and lived the arguments on both sides of many racial issues. I encourage people to explore the writings of noted sports sociologist Dr. Harry Edwards (who is black, BTW), and others who point out that many whites have socioeconomic advantages over minorities (big surprise there, huh...and, again, speaking in generalities) and have many more outlets to pursue (again, speaking in generalities). Think about it, whose to say that many whites with untapped athletic ability aren't off pursuing swimming, golf, music, academia, etc..... We assume that EVERY person who is blessed with a talent or ability will be DISCOVERED. This is just not true.

    We also don't accept the fact that many whites will not pursue the highest levels of some sports because of the generalization and self-fulfilling prophecy that fosters an attitude of "...why bother. There's not many people like me playing in the NBA, so I'm better off learning guitar or playing soccer or taking up tennis."

    By the same token, I love seeing people like Tiger Woods and the Williams sisters do well in there respective sports. It gives me hope that the perverbial door will be kicked in and that maybe my cousins ,nephews, or neices will try to one day excell in a sport that has been largely white for so long.

    I absolutely love seening the rest of the world catch up to us in basketball. What I hope this shows in the coming years is that there is not some magical stranglehold on certain sports by blacks, the same way there is not some strange, unknown reason why blacks could not swim in the Olympics one day (and, I must say, I'm a hell of a swimmer;) ). Look at the difference between the white European players and the white American players. Observe their countenance and posturing on the court. We have driven home this drivel about 'whites unable to compete at the highest level' for so long that they are visibly intimidated by blacks (there are exceptions, but I'm speaking in broad strokes and I'm sure you follow my point on this....). Notice that many Europeans are not intimidated. They haven't been beaten over the head with what they're 'not supposed to be able to do'. Basketball across the pond is relatively new. I look at the '92 Dream Team as the watershed event for the world's eyes to open up regarding basketball. In 12 short years they have progressed exponentially....through increased interest, which begat more people playing, which begat better coaching, which begat better competition, etc... The point is, the world ain't slowin' down. And I think that's great.

    Understand where I'm coming from.....I've had glass ceilings placed on me from BOTH sides since all of my life. Real life is being pressured by your boys in junior high and high school NOT to raise your hand in class, NOT to go home and study, NOT to get educated. Just to remember the hell I took makes me laugh. From the other side I see and hear people discourage one another from pursuing certain athletic ventures because 'they're not supposed to do that' or 'they don't have the inherent physical skills' to compete.

    Man, it's not only devisive but STIFLING to a person to continuously hear that over and over and over. It becomes a snowball of reality that is hard to combat. If one person says it, it can be overcome....if a group is saying it, MAYBE it can be overcome.....but if most of a society is saying it, well, overcoming it now becomes the exception and not the rule.

    Race will always be an issue. Some of us will always MAKE it an issue. Sometimes it NEEDS to be made an issue. It's reality. But to put constraints (imaginary or otherwise) on a group of people, or to be INCONSISTENT in applying the "...there is only (insert number here) of (insert race here) on this team so that means _______" logic..... that bothers me. Again, just my perspective.
     
  9. DaDakota

    DaDakota Contributing Member

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    Jlaw718,

    You should post more often, that was a very well constructed post, and I am not just saying that because I agree with it.

    :D

    DD
     
  10. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    Good post Jlaw

    FWIW, I know of at least two black swimmers who have won Olympic Gold medals (Ervin from the US in 200 and Nesty from Surnam in 88).
     
  11. jlaw718

    jlaw718 Contributing Member

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    Thanks DD. You know how it gets really busy at work and we find ourselves lurking more than anything? Thats been me.
     
  12. Kayman

    Kayman Contributing Member

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    Jlaw,
    you wrote a fine post, but it has very little to do with the subject or with what I wanted to say.

    (BTW, I am really puzzled too, as to why white American players are so inadequate these days, come on this is the country that gave birth to Larry Legend after all. But this is not the point.)

    Here's how roughly NBA's echelons stack up:

    A. Super-Stars, Franchise Players, All-Stars: on average I would say those are about 1.5 per team, so altogether 30-50 players in the world.

    B. Starters and solid rotation guys: these are guys 3 through 8 on the roster, so roughly 150-200 players.

    C. Bench warmers, guys 9-12 on the roster plus 1-3 on the IR, roughly another 150-200 players.

    Now, here's how talent is distributed in the world, and that's how God, nature, or DNA (whatever you chose to believe in) has distributed it: for every true player in echelon A you have 10 to 20 players in echelon B and for every player in echelon B you have 100 to 200 players in echelon C.

    What that leads to is that there's a shortage of A-list players and they command all the money, spoils, and attention of recruiters. Since there is a shortage, some true B-list players are anointed A-list players and are known to everyone as "Overrated"

    Players in Echelon B are generally hard to find, but not that hard. All of them are millionaires, but hardly any of them is a household name.

    In theory there should be many, many players in echelon C competing for each slot in the League.

    If NBA had a completely free labor market , the echelon A players would be making more money than they are now, however, the League put a cap on contracts. If the labor market was free, C-list players would be making no more than 70-80K per year. Consider that many of them are borderline NBDL/CBA material and salaries there are well bellow that range. The league however, has put a minimum on player salaries and not only that, but it subsidises the salaries of veterans that are at the end of the bench.

    Where does race play into this? Race is not a factor in choosing the A-list and the B-list players, the only factor there is production and talent. The owners and the league want to put out a good product and they want to hire the best of the best.
    C-list players do not make or break the success of a club or the league. They are mostly intercheangable with non-NBA players, with minimal impact.

    Now, if you look at the league as a whole, there are more black players than whites. I don't know why that is and it is not the point that we are discussing. However, if you only look at C-list players you'll see a lot more white players (proportionally) compared to A-list and B-list. At the same time if you look at D-, E-, F- lists (CBA, NDBL, Globetrotters and whatever other leagues there are), they are full of black players too.

    What does that all mean? The NBA is color-blind to echelon A, but pays theese players below market rates (not a crime, considering that we are still talking about tens of millions of dollars). It is color-blind to B-list players who are compensated at market rates. For C-type players there is a preference of race (white) over talent and these players are paid higher than free market rates and subsidised. Why? Well, check out the Kirk Hinrich vvs. Dwayne Wade poll on this bbs to get the answer.

    The Rockets, by the way, are one of the worst offenders. If you look at their 10 through 12 slots over the years you'll see serious overrepresentation of whites over the league average and over the Rockets own 1-through-8 roster. This goes from Richard Petruska to Erick Pisskowski.

    Just the season before the last one we had a guy, J-Hawk, who would fit perfectly the description of the article. Din't he do the little things? Din't he bust his tail off? Didn't he take the charge when needed? Yes! Did he spent 10 years in the NBA like the scrubs listed in that article? No! After finally breaking in the League at 29, making the minimum, he was cut the next season. The Rockets went with Pisskowski, Snackbar (both making millions of dollars) and Padget. Did it make difference on the field? Well the team probably had the best record when none of them actually spent a minute on the floor. So why did the Rockets do it then? When you see that there are about 36,000 threads about Nackbar started on this bbs you get the answer. The league and the Rockets have a vested interest in keeping white scrubs on the rosters and they aer doing everything possible to keep it this way.
     
    #12 Kayman, Aug 25, 2004
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2004
  13. jlaw718

    jlaw718 Contributing Member

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    Kayman,

    My post was not meant to be a direct comment on what you had said (even though I did quote your post).

    I agree with you on several fronts.

    It's just that I have seen numerous threads and posts lately regarding race in sports where the author(s) appear to have quite a bit of animus and I just wanted to take a moment to throw in my 2 cents for what it's worth.

    My pet peeve regarding race issues is that some people think things are just set in stone....that they just 'are what they are'....that it's purely black and white (obvious pun unintended).

    We become so accepting in our generalities and stereotypes of races and people that it becomes exponentially harder for these groups to break through the glass ceilings we impose because of the negative reinforcement they are recieving (sure, some individuals will succeed regardless, but I'm speaking about the targeted groups as a whole).

    As I mentioned before, I felt a sense of pride when Tiger Woods hit the scene. Not because he was one black guy that was winning tournaments, but because it showed that the mountain top could be reached by ANYONE....regardless of race.

    I felt the same way when Jeremy Wariner won the 400 meters the other day. How often have you seen white guys compete and succeed in sprint races?

    I don't want a young man (of any race) reaching the 7th, 8th, or 9th grade trying to decide where he wants to cultivate his athletic talents thinking, for example, "......hmmm, I'm white and everybody knows I won't be going to the pro's or even a major college on a basketball or track scholarship, so I better concentrate on something I can succeed at like golf or tennis." What about if this kid had the potential to run the 100 meters in the 9.8's but he never cultivates his talent because its been droned into his head that whites just aren't meant to be sprinters?

    By the same token, I would hate for a kid to think that because he's black he BETTER succeed at basketball, track, or football because he couldn't at tennis, hockey, or gymnastics. Or that the pressure not to partake in these predominantly 'white' sports would preclude him from even seriously considering trying.........what if, unbeknownst to us, this kid has the potential to be better than any gymnast this world has ever seen? And we are never graced with seeing him doing a vault excercise because back in 8th grade he was told (or felt) he had no chance and that he had better focus on sports where the possibility of success was safer.

    We've become so comfortable and accepting of generalities that they sometimes feed on themselves and become more self-fulfilling than anything.

    But again, I didn't mean for it to be a direct comment on your post Kayman.
     
  14. Kayman

    Kayman Contributing Member

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    Fine, those are all valid points ... but again... Eric Pisskowski, Jud Buechler and John Crotty are neither Tiger Woods nor Jeremy Wariner . They are no Larry Bird and no Dirk Nowitski. They are scrubs that have made for many years a lot more money than the average American and a lot more money than the average black palyer of similar skill, only because they are white. That's the point here. And that's why it is a shame for USA Today to put out all this BS about "doing the little things" and what not...
     
  15. insane man

    insane man Member

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    how many scrub black pure shooters have you seen?

    many of the bench warmers are pure shooters. many of them are just good with the ball wont lose it and can spot up. honestly whatever the reasons are...i haven't seen many black guards who do that recently.

    plus now the infatuation with european players and their potentials lead to many teams having their nachbars ride the end of the bench for years.
     
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