Wednesday, May 23, 2012

That Time I Met: Dexter Pittman

Did I ever tell you about that time I met Dexter Pittman?

It was on August 4, 2009, and I was playing in a basketball league with player/coach Lawrence Chen.  I played in a similar league on a different day of the week, so I expected the competition to be about the same.  I showed up to the first game and find out we are playing against Dexter Pittman, who was at that time the starting PF/C for the UT Longhorns.  As you could expect, the 6'11" dude yammed all over us, and for one putback, he nearly dunked Lawrence through the hoop like a Dunkin' Donut.

In reality, this was not my first encounter with Dexter, but it was when I got a picture with him.  I came into contact with the big man in the summer of 2006 at Gregory Gymnasium.  I was in there playing some pickup ball when in comes this 350+ pounder.  He pretty much loafed around the whole game, tried to cherry pick a few times, and tried to dunk every chance he got (without success).  Imagine my surprise when after the game, someone notified me that this guy was ranked as one of the best center prospects coming out of high school and a top-150 recruit.  Needless to say, I was not impressed.

Fast forward to this year.  After getting drafted into a perfect situation in Miami a couple years ago, where Dexter would practice with/against players like Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on a daily basis, and where he would only have to get in shape and improve to the level of a Joel Anthony to sniff meaningful playing time, you'd be hard-pressed to see any area of improvement in his game at all.  However, due to the injury to starter Chris Bosh, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra inserted Pittman into the starting lineup for game 3 of the eastern conference semifinals series versus the Pacers.  This would be Dexter Pittman's chance to truly shine.

Dexter responded with the following stat line: 0-2 shooting from the field with both shots getting swatted and 1 personal foul in 3 minutes and 29 seconds on the court.  Sit down, big fella.

And now Dexter Pittman has been reduced to goon status.  As he is clearly incapable of doing much else on the court (and with zero detriment to his team if he were to be suspended a couple games), he connected a vicious elbow to a full-speed Lance Stephenson in yesterday's game 5 with his team up 35 points with 20 seconds left in the 4th quarter.

If you don't know the full story, Stephenson is a rookie who made a choking hand gesture towards LeBron James earlier in the series after the self-proclaimed king missed two crucial free throws.  Lance has since apologized for his actions, but I suppose Dexter decided to take matters into his own hands.  It was pretty much the most classless, flagrant act I've seen on the basketball court since Metta World Peace's assault on James Harden, and frankly one of the worst representations of the great University of Texas I've ever seen.


First of all, let's talk about James Harden purposely running into Metta World Peace before you blame it all on MWP. James Harden started it. Metta World Peace finished it.

Second of all, if you're going to call Dexter Pittman a goon, let's take a look at the root of the problem. The Pacers are at fault for trying to set the tone for this playoff series by trying to get under the Miami Heat's skin. I don't see you complaining about Danny Granger trying to get in Lebron's face and trying to start something. What about when Lance got in Juwan's face to talk trash at the end of game 3? I know Lance apologized but that's not enough. He was asking for it and he got it. This IS the NBA playoffs. Lance started it. Dexter finished it.

This is also why I have no problem with Haslem's foul on Hansbrough. I actually like Tyler Hansbrough but he started it by fouling Wade really hard. Udonis finished it.

So were you upset when Bob Sura tackled Josh Howard in the 2005 playoffs? Is he a goon?

I hope he gets a ring with the king this year.

1. So we're going to condone MWP giving Harden a concussion because he got in the way of his Tarzan-like celebration after a bucket? And MWP trying to play us all for fools by saying that he was just rejoicing and didn't see Harden there? Please.

2. You're right. This is the NBA playoffs, and teams try to set the tone. The beef between Danny Granger and LeBron James did not arise because Granger was "trying to start something." Check the tapes -- each time there was a little talking and posturing going back and forth came after the two got tangled up, and LBJ's elbows just "happened" to start flying.

3. I don't know what exact instance you're talking about where Lance got in Juwan's face to talk trash at the end of game 3. This is what I remember: And yes, that shows that he is just an immature kid, but to have Dexter come back and give him an elbow to the neck while going full-speed? That is one of the most dangerous plays I've seen, and even looking at just the way he landed, he could've easily sustained an injury to his knee, real talk.

4. I'm not a Hansbrough fan by any stretch of the imagination, but there was a huge discrepancy between Hansbrough's flagrant and Haslem's flagrant. IMO, the league will change Haslem's to a flagrant 2, which should be accompanied with a fine and a possible 1-game suspension.

5. Everything is relative. If you recall, it all started when Josh Howard pulled and held onto Yao Ming's arm while he was going up for a dunk and brought the big man to the ground. Bob Sura responded by tackling him. He was standing up for his teammate, which is what you've been explaining for some of these other guys. But if you wholeheartedly think that Sura's takedown was at all near the vicinity of viciousness and injury threat that Metta's, Dexter's, and even Udonis' fouls were, then we got nothing more to argue about.

I find it crazy that Pittman launches his elbow into his throat. And no way he's only 285 lbs (according to ESPN). Playoffs or not, that has no business in the NBA. We can go on and on about standing up for teammates blah blah blah, but there's no justification for that garbage. Sad way to start his career. Even sadder if it's his defining moment.

I wish we had that kind of toughness on the Rockets.

The more physicality/contact/collisions, the better. The 80s were the league's heyday for a reason.

Alby speaks the truth.

This is why instead of scolding the Heat for their physical play, Larry Bird responded by scolding his own team for being SOFT! Larry Bird is a legend.

Physicality is one thing. I loved when hard fouls in the playoffs weren't automatically called flagrant. But shots to a man's neck are an entirely different thing. Even in the 80s, when there were true rivalries in the NBA, player safety was still a priority.

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