How will I deal with Powe’s departure?
Posted by Brendan Jackson on Aug 12, 2009
The same way I dealt with Ryan Gomes’ departure.
Ryan Gomes was one of the now infamous Celtic second round picks that turned out to be a diamond in the rough- to anyone who doesn’t watch college basketball. Gomes, like his would-be future counterparts Leon Powe and Glen Davis, was the best player on his college team (easy Tyrus Thomas fans). Prior to the 2005 Draft, Celtics fans were well acquainted with Gomes by way of him playing his college ball just down I95 at Providence College.
Having a College All-American fall to your team late in the second round is pretty much the best any Draft Watcher can hope (aside from an international pipe dream). Seemingly destined to be a rotation player for the Celtics, Gomes worked extremely hard his rookie season, starting in 33 games and averaging nearly 8 points and 5 rebounds a game (Basketball-Reference), easily outdoing the Celtics first round pick (who for some inexplicable reason, fans still want to waste a roster spot on, I mean more power to him if he proves me wrong, but I just don’t see it…as a I digree parenthetically).
NBA scouts had Gomes pegged as a tweener who at 6’7″, was too small to play power forward, and lacked the necessary ball handling and shooting ability to play small forward…and in a lot of cases they were right. Gomes is too small to be a power forward. He’s not the massive but short power forwards that can hack it at 6’7″ because they just out muscle everyone (á la Craig Smith, DeJuan Blair) and he’s not tall enough to really be a back-to-the-basket power forward (á la Al Jefferson, Kevin Garnett). To put it simply, Gomes’ success can be summed up in three words: He’s a baller.
He’s an absolute baller (okay four words). He works ridiculously hard, he fights for rebounds, he finishes at the rim, and he’s a reliable midrange jump shooter. He’s also an extremely high character guy. He’s a player any GM would be happy and lucky to have. IN another words, he’s pretty much Leon Powe.
In fact, Ryan Gomes and Leon Powe’s similarities are shocking (the least of which being their near mirror-image qualities of their last names). Both played for smaller, but highly reputable college basketball programs in big time conferences (Gomes- Providence, Powe- Cal). Both played power forward in college but were so dominant that they could essentially play where ever they wanted. Both were passed up by teams that could have really used them and luckily wound up with the Celtics.
While Gomes uses his basketball savvy, however, Powe uses his Power. Part of the reason Powe is so fun to watch is that fact that teams without a shot blocker can not contain him in the paint. He’s too strong and too good a finisher despite knee injuries crippling (terrible pun) his leaping ability.
And then there’s Powe’s adversity. I swear, the fact that the guy can smile is a shock to me. Growing up poor in Oakland, living in a car, having knees that refuse to believe he plays basketball. Going through what Powe has been through is unfathomable- just like seeing him in a Cavs uniform.
Hopefully, it’ll be similar to the way it is when Celtics fans see Gomes in a T’Wolves jersey. It’s nice that he gets to start, it’s nice that he’s playing well, and it’s nice that he’s making money. All of those things can make Celtics Fandom root for Leon Powe. Unfortunately, he’s wearing maroon and gold (and not of my alma mater, which, I must admit, would be sweet in some sort of Twilight Zone). Celtics fans had the luxury of Gomes going to another conference, but in this case, there’s no such luck.
Let’s be honest, it’s going to absolutely suck seeing Powe play for the Cavs. I’m predicting an absolute visceral reaction to take place in my stomach when I see him tie his maroon shorts the first time he enters the game. Thinking about LeBron-to-Powe combinations, or, infinitely worse, seeing Powe high-five Andersen Varejao makes me very depressed.
All that being said…
One really can’t dwell on this too hard. What’s done is done. Danny Ainge has shown that he doesn’t believe in player loyalty for fan favorites. In his first year as GM, he traded away fan favorites/starters Antoine Walker, Eric Williams, and Tony Battie. And now he didn’t resign Leon Powe.
Because he wants to win, and has shown he can. It’s a sad, sad fact that there is a boat load of uncertianty about whether or not Powe will come back and be 100% and Ainge felt he just couldn’t handcuff a roster spot. He traded away Gomes (and others) to get Kevin Garnett and won a Championship. Hopefully our collective sadness over another favorite player’s departure can bring us another one (that and a healthy KG, Rasheed Wallace off the bench, Marquis Daniels backin’ up Pierce, and what are they doing about a back up point guard??…)