It's a pretty great week to be JaVale McGee.
While the man who calls himself Pierre is usually in the headlines for boneheaded plays and hilarious YouTube montages, things have been looking up for McGee.
First, there was Thursday's trade that sent him from Washington to Denver. Not bad to go from the league's leader in "WTF-face palm" moments to a playoff team in the Western Conference.
Now he's got a coach who believes in him. In a huge way.
George Karl is one of the good guys in the NBA coaching ranks. He's dedicated, kind and professional. He's one of the coaches who will treat the media better than they're used to being treated, pulling up a chair and turning a postgame scrum into a 20-minute trip down memory lane.
He's also been around the game a long time. With a coaching career that spans 30 years, he's seen the NBA's best and brightest. Somehow, despite all of these nice things, Karl did something last night that made eyebrows spike and then furrow.
Karl, speaking about newly-acquired McGee, compared the 24-year-old to six-time MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Yes, that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The one Kobe Bryant is chasing. The one who has scored more than anyone else in NBA history, with 38,387 points. The one who makes the internet go wild when he posts photos of himself posing with Zooey Deschanel to his Twitter account.
From the Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman, here is Karl, making one of the strangest comparisons I've ever heard:
"His length is very impressive. He's long," Karl said. "I think he plays a little bit like Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar), but he's a defensive Kareem more than an offensive Kareem. He's not going to be a power player, but he's going to be an athletic-length-long player."
You know, if he's not going to be a power player, we probably could have come up with some comparisons that suit McGee a little better. Like, say, any tall player to ever play basketball.
Karl isn't the only one who believes in McGee, though. McGee's mother, former WNBAer Pam McGee, has always thought her son was just in need of the right opportunity and a coach who believed in him.
This past summer, she told Mike Wise of the Washington Post that they paid UCLA assistant coach Scott Garson to work with McGee. Who did Garson show him film of?
“I brought him into the UCLA Hall of Fame and showed him films of Kareem,” Garson says. “He picks things up very, very quickly. The thing about a kid that talented and that size, you have to grab his attention. I don’t know the situation there, but if I were a big-time future center, I would want to learn from someone who’s been to where I want to go."
Well, then. Maybe we'll be pleasantly surprised by McGee. Maybe we shouldn't all freak out and think he's suddenly going to be the next coming of Abdul-Jabbar. Either way, Abdul-Jabbar is still a hell of a player to compare him to, but it's one way to show your guy you believe in him. Maybe this is all a part of Karl's master plan.
So…bets on how long it will be before we get our Nuggets edition JaVale McGee high/lowlight reel?
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