I am an unabashed Adam Morrison fan. Nowadays, that’s like saying you’re a fan of Creed or Limp Bizkit: sarcastic proof of a lack of judgement. What can I say though? I’ve been a fan of Morrison since he was a freshman at Gonzaga, I’m not about to jump on the Adam Morrison bashers bandwagon just yet. I know in my head that AM will likely never have the kind of career that many envisioned when he was drafted third overall by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2006 NBA draft, but I’m still hoping against hope that he’ll turn things around. Anyway, with Morrison a visible presence on the Lakers bench during their championship run (complete , I’ve been treated to a barrage of anti-Morrison jokes, all of which I’ve had to just sit back and take.
First of all, let me tackle the question of why I like(d) Morrison so much. Basically, he hits all the major points on my “favorite players” list: long hair, sick jump shot, goofy appearance/facial hair, comes from a small mid-major school, actually seems like a reasonably intelligent guy. There’s also the fact that Morrison attended my favorite college team, Gonzaga University, and helped lead the Bulldogs to national prominence during his sophomore and junior years.
Morrison has always been a love-him-or-hate-him type guy. The very things that certain people love annoy the shit out of others. And then, of course, there was the infamous “crying” incident which occurred in what ended up being Morrison’s final collegiate game. In the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament, Morrison and the Zags found themselves matched up with UCLA. Gonzaga completely outplayed the Bruins for much of the game, at one point taking a 17 point lead in the second half. UCLA charged back, though, and took the lead and the game after JP Batista completely fell apart. With the game essentially over (there were a few seconds left on the clock) Morrison broke down and started sobbing.
I said this at the time, but I’ll reiterate it here: crying in your last college basketball game on the court before the game has even ended is not the way you want to go out. I’m sure AM was embarrassed about it, but is the reaction really that irrational? Put yourself in Morrison’s shoes: he’s been working his entire life to get to this point, his team played great and was robbed of a game they should have won, and now his career is over. Crying is a pretty normal reaction, really. I wouldn’t advise doing it on the court, before the game is over, but people react in weird ways to stuff. I don’t blame him at all for crying on the court.
Obviously, some people don’t feel the same way. To a certain segment of basketball fans, crying on the court was the ultimate display of Morrison’s lack of testicular fortitude. In other words, he was a pussy. So when the draft came around, there were a lot of raised eyebrows when Morrison was drafted 3rd overall. Morrison confirmed the skeptics who said he would be a bust by averaging 11.8 points and shooting a dismal 37% from the field. Not terrible numbers, but not great either. To be fair, Morrison was stuck on an awful team filled with a bunch of chuckers. He was also playing for a defensive oriented coach who refused to play Morrison down the stretch. Disaster struck Morrison in October of 2007; he tore his ACL during a preseason game, which caused him to miss the entirety of the 2007/2008 season. The next year, he was traded to the Lakers, where he’s languished on the bench ever since.
I was playing cards the other day when one of my friends mentioned how Morrison was the least deserving two-time NBA champion of all time. Let’s dispel that notion right away: there have a number of bench players throughout the years who have won championships despite contributing little to nothing to their respective teams. Bill Wennington, for instance, won a couple championships with the Bulls while sporting a paltry average of 3 and 2.8 points per game in 1997 and 1998. Legendary stiff Greg Kite was also nearly non-existent on the great Celtics teams of the 80’s. The ultimate undeserving champion, though, has to be Darko Milicic, who averaged less than a point for the Pistons 04′ championship team.
Is Adam Morrison a bust, then, is the question. Certainly, his professional career to this point has not matched up to his performances at the college level. But his career is not over, my friends. He’s got a lot of years left to play. Get him on a more free-wheeling team like the Suns and he could have a decent career. All he needs is a chance.