So in case you were living under a rock, Suns star guard Devin Booker has been under the microscope for what he said on video during a pickup game in the offseason. During the game, Booker got double teamed and as he passed it out, he frustratedly said “We not doubling in open gym.”
This lit a fire under the dried up field of NBA Twitter and local and national media, from guys like Jalen Rose to Kevin Durant voicing their opinions on the matter. Now, I love messy Twitter as much as the next guy but there’s no reason for people to dissect this and make more of it than it is.
Every offseason, players drop pickup mixtapes or highlights of their pickup games and for the most part, people aren’t freaking out over them. That’s because the video is there as a tool to hype players up by their trainer or their agent for the next season. You put an NBA player in a gym with guys who aren’t on his level, edit it up with his best plays and then post it on social media to fanfare. It’s practically second nature at this point for any player worth his salt does something like this.
Even if NBA players are going against each other, these games don’t have the same intensity as a regular season game. They’re not surrounded by thousands of fans cheering or booing them, they just can’t recreate that level of pressure or talent in a gym in Los Angeles or New York or wherever they play.
Now, It’s exciting and great that they’re working out and honing their craft in the offseason. I know there’s fans out there who see those videos and get hyped for what their favorite player will do next season. However, there’s no reason for fans, members of the media or even players to think a pickup game in August will define a career. Booker not wanting to be doubled in the middle of a pick up game isn’t a sign that he’s soft, it’s him wanting to work on other skills than passing out of a double team.
There were some people who thought this entire ordeal made Booker look soft and I think that’s ridiculous. First off, the man gets the double-team quite often in the NBA already (11.9% on the pick plays) so it’s not like he doesn’t have experience dealing with it. Booker is the best player on the Suns and knows he’ll get doubled next season, he’s probably already worked on it this offseason.
It’s irresponsible for us to trash Booker’s character and mental toughness for not wanting to get doubled in a pick up game. It’s not like Booker is complaining about it in a regular season game. These players are trying to get better and have fun while doing so. Pickup games provide players a chance to do both.
This story only exists for one reason: it’s the middle of the NBA offseason.
There’s no real news going on around the league other than Team USA and the low-tier free agents getting signed. If this story was occurring when 40% of the league was looking for a new team, it would be a blip on the radar. That being said, this makes for great, dumb drama in a league that seemingly never stops providing us with it.
It’s one of the many reasons I love the NBA.