Counterpoint: You know what? Donte Greene can kiss my ass.

Since Donte Greene’s announcement to declare for the NBA draft yesterday, I’ve heard a lot of gentle questioning of his logic couched in otherwise supportive talk. Sadness over his departure, understanding the logic of financial decisions, and bidding him a fond farewell. On one level I get that. He’s a talented player pursuing a career in basketball, and as the financial analysts and career advisers would say, he wants to maximize his earning potential. I am neither or these, and therefore have this to say: You know what? Donte Greene can kiss my ass.

Donte Greene leaves as his legacy one season in which he was the leading scorer on one of the lowest performing Syracuse teams in 25 years. He rolled into town flashing the dynasty symbol and ultimately “led” his team to the quarterfinals of the NIT. There, he embodied the team’s reputation of giving up on defense when they had a lead, resulting in a humiliating blown 22 point second half lead at home against a hustling UMass team to end his college career. Over the season he hoisted 521 shots (the most of anyone on the team by over 100) for the lowest field goal percentage of all. 261 of those were 3’s, which he hit a mediocre 34% of. His “hustle” stats finished up at 7.2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. So you’re telling me at the end of that freshman campaign he looks at this season and he says: “you know what? I think I’ve accomplished all I can here. The scouts have seen enough.” Really dude????

Don’t get me wrong. I do not believe that Donte Greene sucks. As a freshman, he exhibited all these flaws but showed a tremendous amount of promise and talent. I loved him not for the player he was this year, but for the player I would get to watch him become on dominant Syracuse teams over the next year or two. Next year, he would have been the star of a top-10 team playing in the nation’s best conference, on national television constantly, and getting the kind of hype that is the stuff of a marketing agent’s wet dream. He could have left as a top 5 pick with a multi-million dollar shoe deal, an established fan base, and looking forward to being an impact rookie in the NBA where he’d be seeing some real minutes.

Now? At this moment, he is exactly what no NBA team needs: a shoot-first guy who can’t create his own shot, defend NBA forwards, set up his teammates, or fill out his game with intangibles. He’s going to go late in the first round to some team like Phoenix, and spend 45 of every 48 game minutes riding the pine. His picture will not grace the front page of ESPN.com next season, and he will have to battle not only to make a name for himself, but to secure a toehold in the league in the long term. And the people of Syracuse will forget him more quickly than any other “star” in the team’s history.

It’s a bad move in every way, and as a fan, I offer him my hairy cheeks as a parting salute.

10 Comments

  1. Andrew
    Posted April 11, 2008 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Amen, brother.

  2. Posted April 11, 2008 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Don’t hold back Tom, tell us how you really feel.

    You are falling into the trap that a number of people are. People are angry because Donte doesn’t love SU. Or because he doesn’t want to stick around and “accomplish something” in college basketball, or for SU in particular. Most of these people say things like you are saying, namely, that he would have much better draft prospects if he stayed a year and tore up the Big East and led SU’s powerhouse team deep into the tournament. And you might be totally right about that. But if you were really only concerned about his future as a baller, and you simply thought he was making the wrong decision for his future, you wouldn’t be this upset. It’s really the fact that he is depriving SU fans of having one of the more talented teams in the country next year. I’m sure he didn’t say “I’ve accomplished all I can here.” But he did accomplish one important goal — meeting the NBA age requirement. I don’t think his ‘legacy’ is that important to him. Which is what really bothers the angry fans. But I’ve become cynical enough about college sports (helped in large part by the coaching carousel) that I don’t expect all the players to love their school and team. Some, perhaps most, still do, but elite guys who are only in college because the NBA won’t allow them in, those guys don’t need to care all that much and I’ve accepted that new reality.

    And besides, it’s easy to say “stick around and you’ll be much better off in next year’s draft” but it’s completely hypothetical. He could get injured. Weaknesses in his game could fail to improve and get more exposed, hurting his stock. The team could suck for reasons beyond his control, keeping him out of the spotlight. His cousin could steal someone’s mealcard and get him suspended for part of the season. He could flunk out during fall semester and miss a bunch of games. There are so many variables that to say it is the wrong decision right now to take the first-round guaranteed contract (assuming the projections are accurate), is just silly. It’s never the wrong decision in the moment. In hindsight, maybe he will wish he’d stuck around. But I get the sense that he’s not a “delayed gratification” kind of guy. He’s about as close to being a guaranteed millionaire as one can get. You can’t say it’s ‘wrong’ to make the jump right now, even if he did have a deep love for Syracuse.

    Let me also say that everyone has apparently forgotten that none of us expected him to be here for more than one year when the season began. Those Don’te Leave shirts were in production pretty early on. We hoped, as fans, that the streak of somewhat sucky play he went through would convince him that he wasn’t ready for the pros. And we convinced ourselves that he wasn’t ready. But really, he is. You’re right that he won’t be an NBA superstar anytime soon, but in a couple years he will be a very good pro player. We’re just upset that he would rather spend those couple of years on an NBA bench or a D-League roster rather than starring for our favorite team. That’s all this comes down to.

  3. Greg
    Posted April 11, 2008 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Donte had that “only here to meet the NBA age requirement” stink on him all season. His lazy, uninspired play was a slap in the face to guys like Flynn and Harris. Sure, all of them could play lazy at times, but it never looked like Flynn, Harris, KO, Onuaku lacked heart. Donte always did. Really he just didn’t care. I believe we would have seen a much different Donte Greene if Devendorf and Rautins never got hurt and SU was contending for a title. Hell, that’s why Boeheim took a chance on him.

  4. Posted April 11, 2008 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Tom is not alone:

    Wednesday, April 9, 2008
    All of Facebook Has Turned on Donte’ Greene
    http://syracusesportsblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/all-of-facebook-has-turned-on-donte.html

    Wednesday, April 9, 2008
    Don’te Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out
    http://smittblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/donte-let-door-hit-you-on-way-out-donte.html

  5. Posted April 11, 2008 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    As much as I understand he is doing what he thinks is right for his future, and as much as it does not bother me that he is going beacuse we will still be good without him, part of me does feel good saying “suck it” in his general direction. You make a great point about how he came into town and flashed the dynasty sign. Yet, he leaves a legacy of someone who just chucked it up and didn’t play defense. Never mind the fact that “his team” accomplished nothing. I will leave it to other folks to say so, but I don’t mind if people are a little upset about his departure. Writing on his facebook wall is a bit much though.

  6. Michael
    Posted April 12, 2008 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Actually, I agree. But can we just make rule banning all future references to TM’s “hairy cheeks”…

    OK?

  7. Michael
    Posted April 12, 2008 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Man says he was attacked for coming to the aid of SU basketball players

    http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2008/04/man_says_he_was_attacked_for_c.html

  8. suinjersey
    Posted April 14, 2008 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    my 2 cents…I watched him play all year..always waiting for him to call for the ball down low..turn into a derrick coleman ( I know)..he just sat outside hoisted 3’s which ultamitely was our demise. I can’t see him getting picked too high in the draft. I’m a Nets fan..we will have Dallases pick around 20th. I wouldn’t want him for now. Perhaps in a few years after his stint in the NBDL.

  9. Posted April 14, 2008 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    You don’t have to take me off your blogroll anymore.

  10. Posted April 14, 2008 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Onte (no D) can kiss my ass, too. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a LAZY basketball player. If you wanna jump to the NBA and take a ton of money to play a game (well… he won’t be doing much playing at all), that’s fine with me. But onte wasted a lot of people’s time and money at the countless times he decided “you know what, fuck defense” or his classic “Fuck it, i can’t miss a tenth three in a row.” My heart bled for the guys who actually cared about winning (Flynn, Harris, Kristof!) but had to deal with some 6′11″ hotshot who’s downfalls outweighed his upside by a mile. I’m not stupid, and I think they’re more talented with him on the team next year… but without him, they’ll be a much better TEAM

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  1. [...] Okay, this one is a mixed bag. I admit that the team would be better with him. But as I had time to reflect on his departure, I came to realize that this is not a guy I’m going to miss terribly. I think he’s the [...]

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