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Something Old And Something New

by Trevor Freeman

Two men.  One a giant in his sport and the other a literal giant had news that seemed to fly under sport’s radar last week.  It is surprising considering the two names involved.  However their news has the potential to impact the sports scene in 2008.  For David Beckham being asked to rejoin England and Roy Hibbert deciding to rejoin the Georgetown Hoyas means there could be a little more sizzle on each side when they show up for America and Europe’s version of the Madness.
I’ll be honest.  I’ve always been a sucker for two types of sports stories.  The first type is the old guy who pulls himself back up by the bootstraps after everybody said he was finished.  The only time I ever rooted against my beloved San Francisco 49ers was when I saw Joe Montana run out onto Arrowhead Stadium to lead the Kansas City Chiefs against them back in 1994.  I loved it when George Foreman knocked out Michael Moorer to regain the heavyweight title.  The second type is rooting for the collegian that gets overlooked despite putting numbers on the board mainly because of some myth that he is too small or too slow.  David Beckham and Roy Hibbert fall into both of these categories.

After the 2006 World Cup, David Beckham was told to take his ball and go home (it should be noted that David James was told the same thing and set the Premier League record for most all-time clean sheets this year…..but that is another story for another time).  This was despite his heroic goal which saved England’s paint in the Round of 16 against Ecuador.  Coach Steve McClaren looked the fifth most capped English player in history in the eye……the man who once led Manchester United to the “Treble” (Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League title) and said “take a hike, your country doesn’t need you anymore”.  Take a step back and think about this.  This would be the equivalent of our Olympic basketball coach walking up to Shaquille O’Neal and telling him to not even bother trying out for the Olympic team.  The only thing I can equate this to is when the San Francisco 49ers traded Joe Montana.  Beckham was a legend and the new English coach discarded him like a rock star discards a groupie they picked up after a concert.

If I was David Beckham, I may well have hung it up.  Especially when the only bit of money that could be had was to be a sideshow star in America.  However what “Becks” has done over the last four months is worthy of praise.  David Beckham displayed the kind of resolve that only great ones have.  The only Englishman to ever score in three different World Cups went to Real Madrid and was reborn.  A goal against Real Sociedad, two assists against Bayern Munich and another assist against Valencia.  The man who was considered finished reached back and found his fastball.  At the same time Beckham was taking a dip in the Fountain of Youth the English squad struggled.  The same coach who had dumped “Becks” had to humble himself and ask him to dance once again.

If I was David Beckham I would have told him to go “F*ck off”.  Luckily for Steve McClaren I’m not “Becks”.

“Let the record show that at the beginning of this season I wrote about Roy Hibbert getting lost in Greg Oden’s hype and that Hibbert could become a star in his own right.  I wrote that it is odd a guy with his hands, his size, his footwork and his post moves is just getting lost in the shuffle.  Saturday night, the most undervalued 7’2″ 280 pound center I have seen come through college in a long time will play Oden to a draw (if not win the matchup).  Book it.  Yes, Greg Oden may eventually become a dominant NBA center, but as of this moment right now…Hibbert is the more polished big man with more polished post moves.  Do not sell on the fact that this is the first time in Oden’s life there will be somebody looking down on him on every single possession.”  

Every now and then I look back on my archives and I cannot believe what I just wrote.  However there are certain times when I crack a smile.  Reading that I said Roy Hibbert might outplay Greg Oden before Roy Hibbert did outplay Greg Oden makes me smile.

For the last year all we heard from every NBA draft pundit who can talk is that Greg Oden is the baddest man on the planet.  That he is the next Patrick Ewing.  Meanwhile the guy that actually attends Georgetown and seems to have the more polished post game is a slow, clumsy oaf who will have problems playing in the NBA.  Outside of Amy Fisher and Joey Buttafuoco’s reconciliation I have not heard anything more ludicrous than people openly questioning whether or not Roy Hibbert would be an effective NBA center.

The fact of the matter is Roy Hibbert outplayed Greg Oden in the Final Four and it was not a fluke.  The drop step he put on Greg Oden in the second half was not a move that a scrub comes up with.  When you take into account that Hibbert has a hook shot with both hands in his arsenal, possesses soft hands on the catch, has improved every season he has been in college and is 7’2″ 280 pounds you have to wonder why more people do not talk about how lethal he can be.  Toss in the fact that Roy Hibbert is probably the best passing big man from the free throw line to the basket since Arvydas Sabonis and you have a player who should never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever slip out of the top three of any NBA Draft.

Hibbert’s decision to come back to school will prove dividends as Georgetown returns three other starters.  The attention will be on the experienced Hoyas from the outset and I think them and their Princeton offense will do heavy damage from November through next March.  Hopefully then everybody who discounted “Big Roy” will learn one thing.  He’s not an oaf………he’s just another dominant Georgetown center.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]    

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