It was during the first minute of last Thursday’s Wizards game against the Timberwolves in Minnesota. John Wall did a nice job of quickly recovering on Luke Ridnour after he came off a ball screen and JaVale McGee did a nice job of helping. The attention paid to Ridnour forced him to attempt a pass, but that got deflected off the backboard by Wall who made the recovery and headed in the other direction. But for some reason, as he was pressured by Ridnour — but not too much — Wall decided to get rid of the ball, which, is not necessarily a bad idea … you can pass quicker than you can run … but perhaps not ideal when the pass goes to the big man McGee in the midst of him jetting up the court.
McGee caught the ball in stride, just before crossing the half-court line, put it on the floor once … put it on the floor again, a in-and-out move versus Darko Milicic … and put the ball on the floor a third time. Before anyone knew it, McGee was past several T-Wolves and scoring at the rim, an incomparable athletic maneuver for someone his size. That’s when Wizards television analyst Phil Chenier said:
“I still say that’s a curse and a blessing … the ability to handle the ball at 7-feet … that time it worked out well.”
Sometimes the blessing of McGee’s talents can be a curse when he thinks he can use them in just about any situation. And this time, he was unfortunately encouraged because it worked. The success rate of McGee pulling off such a feat is likely higher against a team like the T-Wolves, much lower against a team like the Boston Celtics. In any case, it’s never truly ideal. Hence, it’s difficult coming to grips with how to celebrate something that often causes chagrin in the heart of a coach, yet is pretty beautiful to watch.
You appreciate the blessing and hope the result is not always cursed, or at least that young players eventually learn to limit self-induced risk. And in this instance, note that to both McGee and Wall, as the point guard who might one day better know who he’s passing to in that situation. Then you write about it and make a video of the play … JaVale McGee: A Curse and A Blessing.