Friday, September 30, 2005

Knott's Parting Shot

Whenever Dixon entered the game in the Wizards-Bulls playoff series last spring, the eyes of Bulls coach Scott Skiles would reveal traces of glee. The backcourt players of the Bulls attacked Dixon with uncommon passion. It was ugly. It was unfair. But that is the NBA. There is nothing egalitarian about it. If you have a weakness, it will be exposed.

Tom Knott couldn't resist taking one last swipe at Juan Dixon, even as his target was quietly departing for the opposite coast. Perhaps Knott was feeling a little melancholy that both Kwame and Dixon wouldn't be around anymore for him to take cheap shots at in his hack columns. Let me remind everyone that Knott wrote some fantastic scandal rag hatchet jobs on the young woman who accused Kobe Bryant of putting his hands around her throat and raping her in a Colorado hotel room. According to Knott this girl was a money hungry slut who used a squalid little liaison with Bryant to launch the rape accusations in a elaborate extortion attempt, or conversely win back her estranged lover. Add in the "disclosures" that she spent time in a hospital for a suicide attempt and you have the full blow nut-or-slut defense, which makes you wonder if some former members of the Clinton administration were giving him talking points. I'm sure the fact that Bryant had to pay handsomely to get the case settled didn't change this hack's position.

When someone in the media makes such a sleazy accusation they should be held to it and reminded from time to time. To call his work trash would be to ensure that sports journalism never rose above the local landfill, then again maybe that is the case anyway.

But back to his latest column from the sewer. I doubt there was any "traces of glee" in Bulls coach Scott Skiles eyes when Dixon dropped 35 on his bulls in a pivitol game 4 at MCI center. As a matter of fact Skiles referred to it as a "whuppin", but I guess he meant to express glee and it just came out wrong. In that contest the great Larry Hughes went 3-16 with 10 points. The rest of the Wizards bench scored 8 points. The simple fact is that without Dixon the Wiz would have been bounced in the first round in ignominious fashion. I guess it sounds better when trashing a player to address his single handed delivery of a playoff win as "Dixon had one game in the playoffs.". How modest.

Dixon had a better FG and 3 point percentage than either Arenas or Hughes during the playoffs. Both produced more than one stinker of a shooting night; Hughes shot 3-16, 4-17, 5-17 while Arenas had 3-19 and 6-24 brickfests. Dixon isn't better than either of them but when you're trying to tar and feather a player make sure he didn't outplay your stars when it counted most.

Juan Dixon will likely never be a star in the NBA. Like Mateen Cleaves and Khalid El-Amin before him his game was better suited for the college ranks. Buried on the bench in Washington would all but insure that he would never blossom into a starting player, if he has that possibility in him. It was time for him to move on and time for the Wizards to admit he didn't fit in their plans. Perhaps in Portland he will be afforded that opportunity and I for one hope he shines.

As for Knott his petty sniping is nothing Dixon hasn't heard before, and no where near the worst. Too often in sports cliches like courage, heart and "burning desire" are thrown around. The sad fact is few, if any, professional athletes measure up to those descriptions. Juan Dixon is as great an example of someone who has those virtues in abundance as Knott is of someone with a dearth of them. You could almost picture him slithering in the shadows for someone like James Callender in Jefferson's time or leading a "crackhead" chant back in his days at George Mason. At a time when the Wizards had a team full of too many malcontents and headcases Juan never did anything that didn't bring credit to the franchise and he left it in higher regard than when he arrived. Dixon was a bigger man for that and Knott shows how small he is in comparison.

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