Przybilla — II

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This-here piece continues the li'l article on Big Joel which ran in this space yesterday. If you haven't read Part 1 yet, you might want to do that now. It appears directly below. Or hammer this link if you're too lazy to scroll...

Since I've got a bit of blank space above the jump that I need to fill, this might be a good time for me to say thanks to MB and Benji for supplying some of the photos that I chopped, mutilated, and ran through the blender for this piece.

It's appreciated.

By the way, if you haven't ever read Mike Barrett's Official Blog, you need to start making that part of your daily routine as a Blazer fan. I'm sure virtually all Bedgers are all over it already, but it never hurts to slap up a little reminder now and then for the noobs... Check it out!

And so, without further ado — click on through to read part two...

Third Contract: Portland is home.

With the conclusion of the 2005-06 season Joel Przybilla's contract was up again. The 7-foot-1 Center looked forward to his second venture into free agent waters. Last time his rookie deal had run out and Joel was pushed headfirst into the deep end by the Bucks and Hawks. It was a miserable experience. Joel had frozen his butt off in the frigid pond and very nearly drowned — there was only one guy on hand to throw him a life rope, GM John Nash and the Portland Trailblazers.

This trip to free agency promised to be very different experience. This time everybody wanted to be Joel's beach buddy.

Two years as a Portland starter had proved to all that Joel Przybilla was able to compete at a high level in the National Basketball Association. There would be no 33 point offensive efforts by Joel in the NBA, but teams knew that by now. What Joel did do very well was block and alter shots in the paint and pull down rebounds. That stuff he did as well as anybody and that was plenty. 

Indeed, Joel Przybilla was widely regarded the top free agent Center of the Summer of 2006. Teams seeking mprovement at the position would come to him.

The Blazers wanted to bring Joel back to Portland in the worst way. The team was at low ebb, but the Blazer brain trust had no intention of staying in the cellar for long. For over two decades the club had made the postseason with a regularity that made major league baseball's Atlanta Braves look like pikers. Now it was just a matter of clearing out the knuckleheads and starting fresh with Character Kids.

Joel represented everything the Blazers wanted to be about — hard work and selfless play, consistency and team spirit. He had size, strength, and skill. Losing him would be regarded around the country as a great vote of no confidence in the struggling Portand franchise at a time when the team was having trouble getting its own fan base to buy in. Losing Joel would be a big step backwards.

Even though he was technically just the draft honcho, Paul Allen's golden boy Kevin Pritchard had assumed in actual practice the mantle of General Manager at this time, at least on questions of player personnel. Team President Steve Patterson was technically the "Acting GM," but everyone knew better. KP's vote counted extra when the suits sat down with the boss. Kevin had been inserted as Head Coach of the Blazer for the last 27 games of the 2004-05 season and he knew all about the donkeys from  firsthand experience.

He also knew who he wanted to keep.

As soon as the free agency period began in the Summer of 2006, Pritchard hopped a plane and flew out to Wisconsin. He had no desire to stock up on 5 year old cheddar, he just wanted to reaffirm in a very personal way the Blazers' commitment to their starting Center.

Joel was touched.

Pryz-story13_medium"I [had just] saw him the week before and I said, you know, Kevin, you don't have to come out and visit me. I know what we're all about and where we stand. But he came out and we had dinner and he flew out the next morning. It feels good to be wanted by someone. It meant a lot to me." ∏

The situation was analyzed from all angles by Joel and his agent. Potential deals were advanced and received. Multi-million dollar, multi-year pitches were made to Przybilla by the San Antonio Spurs and the Detroit Pistons, but to no avail. In the end Portland was ultimately able to lock down its starting pivotman again with their $32 Million/5 year bid.

Joel's decision to return to a team with a sucktastic 21-61 record, worst in the NBA, surprised some. But Portland had taken a chance on him when his stock was low and now Joel Przybilla was in a position to return the favor. 

"I've been lucky to play [six] years in the NBA," Joel said just as soon as the contract was done. "We'll see how the rest of my career goes. At least I have a role here. In the past, I was unwanted. It feels good to be part of something." ≠

Portland was also by now a real home for the Przybilla family, a fact which made it comparatively easy to accept the market-rate deal offered by the Blazers.

"We wanted to stay here," Przybilla said. "We enjoy it in Portland. Sometimes the grass ain't greener on the other side." ≠ Ø

"We'd made a home here," added his wife, Noelle. "Anthony was born here. We had doctors here. It's hard living in a new city. We've been lucky not to have gone through it too often." ≠

In another interview Joel noted that  "deep down in each of our hearts" he and his wife "knew that this is the place to be. We didn't want to come out and say it, but we just wanted to see what our options were out there. We're glad that it's over and glad of the position we're in right now." ∏

When asked why he did not accept offers for similar money from NBA powerhouses like the Pistons and the Spurs, Joel exuded a confidence that was music to the ears of a long-suffering fanbase.

"I see things turning around," he declared. "When things start turning around and once we start winning — which I believe that we're going to do — I want to be a part of that. I feel the vibe, is that the word? I feel the city, once we start winning..."

His voice trailed off, looking for the right words to express the feeling of that which might be...

"I want to be a part of that and I don't want to miss that. I feel that we have something special here."

"We've really appreciated the fans here," he added. "Even though the team has struggled a little bit in past years, I've never been happier in a place. This will be my 7th year. The first 4 or 5 years of my career were a little rough, but when I came here people just accepted us. There is a comfort zone. We believe that things are going to turn around." ∏

Joel also appreciated the direction the franchise was moving, with its new emphasis on youth and character. Whitsett's menagerie of criminals and knuckleheads had been lead to the slaughterhouse one by one and the stable was by now almost clean.

Pryz-story4_mediumFor his part, Kevin Pritchard was even more enthusiastic about keeping Joel in the red and black. He recalled getting the news of Joel's decision to come back to Portland while at a Summer League workout in Lake Tahoe.

"We finally got the deal done and I let out a resounding, 'YES!!!' and everybody stared at me for a while. That's how I feel right now. This is a great, great thing for our organization. It shows that we are making strides and that we are becoming a magnet for players, not just a place that is a steppingstone. Right now with the new collective bargaining agreement, unless you're way under the cap, most teams are competing for the same player with the same amount of money — and it's good to win one, let's just put it that way." ∏

The 27-year old Joel Przybilla approached the 2006-07 season with financial security and a renewed desire to help turn around the Portland franchise to which he had committed himself. There were a couple of new kids coming in via the draft, a Wing named Roy and a Big named Aldridge. They both were good college players with the reputation of being good guys off the floor as well. Kevin Pritchard had done well in the draft.

The team had turned over.

By the summer of 2006, a total of 10 players who played for Portland during the catastrophic 2005-06 season were gone. There was collateral damage that was part of the necessary cleansing, good guy Point Guard Steve Blake had been packaged to bring in backup reserve pivot Jamal Magloire from Milwaukee. Now there were only 2 donkeys left — former Clipper and Cav Darius "You Know What You Are, Mo?" Miles and pitbull aficionado Zach "Sucker Punch" Randolph. But one of those was a slasher who was about the only guy that could put the ball in the hole and the other guy was a borderline All Star, 20-and-10 guy, right? ~

Despite some time on the shelf early in the season with a heel injury, new Shooting Guard Brandon Roy exceeded all expectations in his debut season, 2006-07. The former University of Washington Husky was a starter in 55 of his 57 games, averaging 16.8 points and he won honors as the NBA's Rookie of the Year. Point Guard Jarrett Jack proved to be another good person with a good game, starting all 79 games for which he was able to lace them up and racking up 12 a contest. Former Portland State University star Ime Udoka added defensive moxie and an even temperament as the team's starting Small Forward.

Yeah, the slow, sluggish, and selfish highest paid player was also the team's top scorer and the leading rebounder, but all the sudden this Portland team was looking like something bigger than Zach Randolph's statistical line in the morning paper.

Lamentably, amidst this rebirth of the franchise Joel was forced to endure yet another injury-plagued year. 

The season started rough, with Pryz forced to miss the home opener with a lower abdominal injury. Originally projected to be out a week, Przybilla wound up missing 13 games, not making it back on the floor until nearly the end of November. By that time, the Blazers were 6 wins and 10 losses and staggering around like little kids getting hooped by Big Brother.

Joel resumed his place in the starting 5 and things were going swimmingly up until his old friend Mr. Injury nailed him again with a post-Valentine's Day treat. Once again a tweaked wheel, this time his left knee, had managed to knock Joel out for the year. The final 26 games of the season were lost. The team was 24-33 at the time Joel went down. Without him down the stretch hey managed just 8 more wins against 18 losses.

The Blazers finished 2006-07 with 32 victories. While this was represented a handsome increase of 11 wins over the horror that was the previous season, the Blazers were still bad enough to land in the 12th spot in the NBA's Western Conference. They were lottery bound again.

Oh, what a lottery it turned out to be.

Expectations skyrocketed when the team got the proper ping pong balls to secure the #1 overall pick in the 2007 draft, a choice which GM Pritchard invested in the star Center of the NCAA tournament runner up Ohio State Buckeyes, Greg Oden.

Was Joel concerned about the competition? Did he even care?

We'll never know because Greg Oden was down for season-ending microfracture surgery before the 2007-08 campaign could even begin. It was a tough turn of events for the team, but the Blazer nation was nothing if not patient. They w ould get their guy, they would just have to wait.

For his own part, Joel Przybilla sought to vanquish the rap that he was himself "injury prone" by playing in all 82 game in the coming year. That was the big target for him.

"If I can play all 82, there'll be a sense of accomplishment," he said. "I've never done that before in a season." ≠

For most of the year, it looked like Joel would achieve his ambition. He was consistent and solid, although Head Coach Nate McMillan raised eyebrows by pulling him late in a number of games in an effort to "go small" for some extra offensive punch. The tactic often backfired, but no matter. Joel still was having a nice year.

Then in Game 77 came disaster when Joel broke his hand on the rim. His season, for a third consecutive year, had come to a close before the last game was played. The Blazers finished 2007-08 squared up, 41 wins and 41 losses — out of the playoffs this time, but now clearly on the verge. The kids were all right.

Pryz finished the year narrowly missing his career high in minutes played, posting averages of 4.8 points and 8.4 boards in just over 23.5 minutes of game action. His rebound rate per 36 minutes worked out to 12.8 boards per game — a career best.† This rebounding rate compares well to that of the Gold Standard of NBA rebounders, Orlando's Dwight Howard, who boarded at a clip of 13.5 per 36 for the season. ∂

Pryz-story5_mediumMoving into the the 2008-09 season, Joel  was highly optimistic about Portland's team character and the group's chances for success.

"The thing with this team, guys aren't that selfish, guys are going to sacrifice things because we want to win. Winning cures everything... When I first started here, losing sucked. Last year we were .500 and even though we had a good year it still feels like we have a lot to prove. As long as we keep on getting better throughout the year we'll be in a good situation." ∑

Przybilla faced the prospect of moving to the bench to back up 2007's #1 overall draft pick, Greg Oden. Joel remained upbeat and positive. When asked about his expectations for playing time in the coming season, Joel gave an answer which he clearly divined from a a crystal ball.

"I know it's a long year, a long season," Pryz opined. "Greg could start at the beginning of the year — and I've had that happen before — then maybe I come and start at the end." ∑

And that is exactly the way that things played out.

Greg Oden was annointed the starter by Head Coach Nate McMillan ahead of the first game, and there was never any question for him about the decision — or thought about whether Greg Oden was mentally prepared to be a starter in the NBA. He was the #1 overall pick, he needed playing time to find himself after a year lost to microfracture surgery, and it was simply an accepted fact: Greg Oden would start.

That decision was not long-lasting. In the first quarter of the season opening contest on Oct. 28 against the Los Angeles Lakers, Oden landed awkwardly, twisting his ankle. X-rays and an MRI would follow, fortunately negative, but Oden was back on the shelf again, faster than a hater could shriek "Sam Bowie!" Oden was 0 points scored in 12:51 of game action and the media frenzy was on. The Lakers clubbed the Blazers by 20 and the 2008-09 campaign was off to a most inauspicious start. ñ

From that moment on, the importance of Joel Pryzbilla to the Portland Trailblazers' roster stood out in sharp relief. Oden was not too long in coming back, but it remained clear to all that the young man, no matter what his physical talents, had much to learn about the NBA game. By the end of the season Coach McMillan had concluded that his team was at its most effective with the consistent and reliable Przybilla assuming the starter's role, with the highly touted but sensitive "red-shirt" rookie coming off the bench.

Throughout his career, unless he was injured, Joel has been pretty much a 25 minute per night guy. As a dude that bangs hard and never coasts, that's plenty. The reason there are so few legit mashers in the NBA is simple: it's hard work and it hurts. 

Greg Oden's issue, on the other hand, is merely staying on the floor without being fouled out. He, too, proved himself to be a 25 minute man during his rookie year for this altogether different reason.

You put the two together, and it's a ferocious platoon — two exceptional rebounders, two superior shotblockers, The Center position for Portland was not an either/or in 2008-09, it was a either/and.

Joel started 43 games, skewed toward the end of the year, Greg started 39, skewed towards the start.

Joel logged an average of 23.8 minutes per night, Greg contributed 21.5. 

Joel scored 5.5 points a game, Greg put in 8.9 — for a positional total of 14.4.

Joel racked 8.7 boards a game, Greg 7.0 — for a positional total of 15.7.

Joel blocked 1.2 shots per game, Greg 1.1 — for a positional total of 2.3.

The Przybilla/Oden Center tandem did the job. And then some. ¶

Joel Przybilla was even ranked the #1 rebounder in the NBA for the 2008-09 season by ESPN.com's stat guru, John Hollinger. Æ

Best yet, Joel's success on the floor coincided with success by his team. Portland was back in the post season. They didn't just sneak in, either — the Blazers finished the year with a smooth 54 wins and the 4 seed in the all powerful Western Conference of the NBA. They were the hottest team in the league down the stretch, crushing opponents almost nightly.

Despite the fact that Portland had a kryptonite sandwich shoved down their gobs by the Houston Rockets in the 1st Round of the NBA Playoffs, losing in 6 games, it doesn't take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

The Blazers are close now. Very close.

Rip City is back, baby — thanks in some significant measure to the play of the Blazers' hero of the trenches, Joel Przybilla.

 

Snippets.

I — Shaq.

Pryz-story10_mediumPrzybilla's status as a legit 7-footer with an oversized tough streak to match has made him one of the few NBA bigs both courageous enough and able to put a body on Shaquille O'Neal, the 350++ pound man-mountain widely regarded as the best Center of his generation. Not surprisingly, sparks have flown periodically from the collisions between the irresistible force and the immovable object.

Following a November 1, 2008, game between O'Neal's Phoenix Suns and the Blazers — a game in which the aging Shaq racked up 16 points and 8 boards in a victorious effort, over Pryzzy's best efforts — Big Diesel was gleeful:

"Przybilla can't guard me when I'm 27, 37 or 47," Shaq-fu spouted.

When a reporter chimed in with the thought that a (posterized) Przybilla would probably be seen a great deal in a Shaquille O'Neal highlight reel, Shaq grinned and hooted.

"Thanks, Przybilla!" he smirked. Œ

This piece of mockery was widely quoted in the press.

When the two teams faced each other again three weeks later, Shaq seemed conciliatory, if not quite apologetic — as if his post-game locker room trash-talking had come out wrong and crossed the line. Shaq and Pryz yukked it up at center court before the game, hugging and exchanging good-natured banter. After the battle was over, Shaq once again held court with the press in the locker room. This time Shaq was gracious in victory, summing up his own performance by giving the man his due.

"I knew that Przybilla's a monster on the boards," Shaq simply said. "I was just trying to get as many boards as possible."

When asked about their brief words before the game and whether this represented a patching up of affairs between the two 7-footers, Shaq was jocular but emphatic.

"We don't have a problem," he declared. "He has a nickname that he doesn't like and I was just telling him that I thought it was a nice nickname, marketing-wise — 'Vanilla Gorilla' is what they call him. I told him that I liked it but he said that he hated it. So I said that I wouldn't call him that — so I won't call you 'Vanilla Gorilla,' Przybilla."∞

The assembled reporters cracked up.

Shaq is a funny dude.

 

II — Was Joel Przybilla a Big, Fat Fatty?

A fascinating article surfaced in the comments section under Part I of this article, courtesy of Mortimer "Morty" Mortone. So let's roll back, shall we?

As we recall, Joel was given the bum's rush by Milwaukee and Atlanta due to chronic injury problems, taking the form of tendinitis in a knee. In his 4th season, his contract year of his rookie deal, he was only able to play a total of 33 minutes in 5 games for the Bucks, who ditched him at the trade deadline to the Atlanta Hawks. His leg still gave him trouble and he only managed to play 12 thoroughly uninspiring games in Hawks red.

Perhaps Przybilla's knee issues were to be explained by the size of his belly, buttocks, and other bodybones...

According to an April 2005 article on RealGM, Joel Przybilla shed 40 pounds during the summer of 2004, prior to coming to Portland as an Unrestricted Free Agent in a deal signed with GM John Nash. ©

Milwaukee Head Coach George Karl wanted Joel to beef up so that he could mash with any and every Center in the league, so the story goes, and so Joel obligingly porked out and puffed up. The end result didn't help at all in the trenches and contributed significantly to Joel's inability to stay healthy, the article asserts.

So is it true?

Published NBA physical statistics are notoriously reality-challenged, so all we can do is take a little peek at the official numbers and guess. According to Basketball-Reference.com, one of the most reliable statistical resources, the 7-foot-1 Joel Przybilla came into the NBA as a rookie weighing 255 pounds and never gained an ounce during his Milwaukee career. Nor did he ever lose an ounce playing for the Blazers.

I reckon that's a question that simply has to be asked of Joel in person.

It would be interesting to learn.

 

III — Training Regimen.

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Przybilla is one of a growing number of NBA players who make use of Mixed Martial Arts training in the off-season to maintain conditioning — a group which includes his Blazer teammate, Steve Blake.° During the summer, Pryz spends 3 days a week working on his strength and endurance at the Duke Roufus MMA Academy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.¥

His use of training for combat sports began in the summer of 2005, when he began to make use of boxing training to enhance his footwork and develop his stamina.

"I wouldn't take no hits," Przybilla he said of his experience. Rather, his trainer in Milwaukee, Scott Cushman, put pads on his hands and helped out with the heavy bag. Joel threw and he caught.

"Boxing is good footwork, working on your quickness and your core strength and it's an overall workout. We did a lot of core work on the abs, too. I feel stronger, my body fat is down, and I'm at between 240 and 245 pounds, which is a little up from last year. I feel like I'm in the best shape I've ever been," Joel said in the fall of 2005. *

These days Joel is enthusiastic about the use of MMA training for life in the NBA.

"You've got to have the core strength to hold a guy down in the paint and I can notice a difference," Pryzbilla declared. "I can tell it's helped a lot already. Where it's really going to help me most is defensively. The stance is almost the same in boxing as it is in basketball and like boxing, you're reacting to what your opponent does in basketball. I'm primarily a defensive player to begin with and I think this is perfect for that purpose."±

"During summer time, when you're trying to get away from basketball and trying to stay in shape, it's a great workout," Joel declared.¥

MMAer Matt "The Law" Lindland, who briefly worked Joel out in Portland, had praise for his rather large charge:

"Joel's a good athelete," Lindland declared, "he's got good movement, he's got good hips — he's an athletic dude."¥

Mark that one down as a high compliment.

 

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IV — The Millionaire Next Door.

The starry-eyed F. Scott Fitzgerald once used a banal line in one of his short stories, an otherwise forgettable magazine piece published in 1926.

"The rich are different from you and me," he gushed.

To which the smartass Ernest Hemingway replied: "Yes, they have more money."

Neither Fitzgerald nor Hemingway was hurting for cash at the time, mind you, nor is Joel Przybilla today — but you would never know it from the family's lifestyle. 

The Przybilla's are regular folks with a house in Tualatin, doting parents of a son named Anthony. No nanny, no domestic servants, just your average multi-millionaires next door.

Score one for Ernest.

Big Daddy Joel is bullish on fatherhood.

"It's been the best," he told a reporter in 2008. "Everything revolves around Anthony. It has changed my life. I come home after a game or practice, he puts a smile on my face no matter what."≠

Noelle even packs the Pryzzlet to Blazer games.

"He looks down on the court and is like, ‘Hey, there's Dad,' " she shared.≠

The family maintains a sensible, thoroughly normal balance, spending off-seasons around their families in Wisconsin and enjoying free time during the off-season in a cabin on a lake.

"I feel like we're... well, we're just normal people," Noelle has said. "I don't feel any different than anybody else."≠

 

V — The Inevitable Discussion about Contract Status.

Joel Przybilla has a player option for the 2010-11 season, in which he is slated to make $7.4 Million. ë

In other words, following the current 2009-10 season, he can choose to opt out to life as an Unrestricted Free Agent.

This has prompted wailing and gnashing of teeth on the part of some, who seem oblivious to the fact that in a league with a falling salary cap and luxury tax threshold, the complete list of teams looking to do UFA deals at contract levels exceeding the Mid Level Exemption (MLE) may be written on the back of a matchbook with a dull Sharpie.

Bear in mind that this year's comparable-player free agent signing, backup Center Marcin Gortat of the Orlando Magic, was offered the MLE by Dallas and matched by his former team. While starting Centers in the NBA with contracts in the $10M to $15M range abound, it seems that in the current NBA market, the defender and rebounder Joel's deal is more or less in correspondence with his market-determined value.

Since $7.4 Million exceeds the amount a team can pay in the first year of a MLE deal, the chances of Joel opting out of his 2010-11 deal would seem to be remote. 

Joel is happy with Portland, Portland is happy with Joel. Joel is respected by the club, beloved by the fans, and adequately paid.

Stop worrying. +

 

— END —


Footnotes:

†— Joel Przybilla's career stats may be found at NBA.com, http://www.nba.com/playerfile/joel_przybilla/career_stats.html, and the always useful Basketball-Reference.com, http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/p/przybjo01.html. Both of these sources were used extensively in the writing of this piece.

≠— Kerry Eggers, "Star on Home Court: Joel Przybilla divides focus between Blazers and his family," Portland Tribune, http://www.portlandtribune.com/sports/story.php?story_id=120639645572259000, March 25, 2008.

+— The list of 1998 McDonalds All-Americans may be found at http://statsheet.com/bhsb/mcdonalds_all_american_team/1998

#— "Clem Haskins," Hoopedia wiki, http://hoopedia.nba.com/index.php?title=Clem_Haskins, retrieved Aug. 12, 2009.

‡— "College Basketball's Tarnished 20," FindLaw Sports, http://sports.findlaw.com/basketball/tarnished/01/index.html

≤— Associated Press, "Report: Haskins Lied: Coach Denies Charges He Knew About Fraud," CNNSI, http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/college/news/1999/11/19/minnesota_ad_ap/, Nov. 19, 1999.

¬— The Minnesota players suspended by the team over allegations of academic misconduct included starters Kevin Clark and Miles Tarver plus reserves Terrance Simmons and Antoine Broxsie. Sportsticker Enterprises, "NCAA Tournament Recap (Gonzaga-Minnesota)," CNNSI, http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/college/men/scoreboards/1999/03/11/recap.minnesota.gonzaga.html, March 11, 1999.

§— Sarah Mitchell, "Przybilla's Gone, Gophers Hit the Road at Bad Time," Minnesota Daily, http://old.mndaily.com/articles/2000/02/22/13369, Feb. 22, 2000.

∆— Sarah Mitchell, "Przybilla-less Gophers Lose to Illinois 89-80," Minnesota Daily, http://old.mndaily.com/articles/2000/02/18/13337, Feb. 18, 2000.

£— Anthony Maggio, "Przybilla Finds Happiness, Challenges with Bucks," Minnesota Daily, 07/13/22247" style="color: #c8181d !important; text-decoration: none !important; background-color: transparent;" target="_blank">http://old.mndaily.com/articles/2001/07/13/22247, July 13, 2001.

ß— The 2000 NBA Draft went down like this: 1. Kenyon Martin, PF, New Jersey Nets; 2. Stomile Swift, PF, Memphis Grizzlies; 3. Darius Miles, SF, Los Angeles Clippers; 4. Marcus Fizer, PF, Chicago Bulls (yikes!). The thing is, it's not even really worth mocking the Bullies, there just weren't that many real players who went in 2000. A greater than average number of 1st Rounders simply did not pan out and there were relatively few future stars from whom to choose. Hedo Turkoglu went #16, leading the list of non-lottery talent. The Blazers picked next to last, #28, and took PG Erick Barkley out of St. John's. Remember him? Best pick of the draft was Michael Redd, going to Przybilla's Milwaukee Bucks with the #43 pick in the 2nd Round.

◊— "Answers from Joel Przybilla," NBA.com Chat and Mailboxes, http://www.nba.com/chat_and_mailboxes/answers_przybilla_020205.html, Feb. 5, 2002.

ÿ— An excellent resource of raw data for historical month-by-month and game-by-game analysis is http://www.databaseBasketball.com. For example, for the 2001-02 Bucks see http://www.databasebasketball.com/teams/teamyear.htm?tm=MIL&lg=n&yr=2001

√— A chronicle of Joel Przybilla's injuries appears on the SBNation player page for Joel, http://www.sbnation.com/nba/players/21817/Joel_Przybilla

Ω— "Hawks Acquire Doleac, Przybilla, Pick," NBA.com, http://www.nba.com/hawks/news/trade_040215.html, Feb. 15, 2004.

•— Przybilla's contract was reported as $2.2 Million over 2 years in the press at the time of its signing, but the internet resource Basketball-Reference.com gives the figures as $1,500,000 for 2004-05 and $1,560,000 for 2005-06. These figures are assumed to be correct here. http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/p/przybjo01.html

€— Joel Przybilla, interview with "Trail Blazers Courtside," http://www.nba.com/media/blazers/41106_joel.mp3, April 11, 2006. 

µ— Associated Press, "Nash Won't Return as Trail Blazers' General Manager," ESPN.com, http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2463998 

Ø— It's pretty easy to confuse GM John Nash with GM Bob Whitsett just because the Blazers really sucked and there were a certain number of knuckleheads playing for each. But Nash should be remembered fondly by Blazer fans as the guy with the cojones to blow the sucker up and start building it again. Kevin Pritchard merely continued the line of policy begun under the Nash regime. He did have a really good 2006 draft though, eh? No diss on KP.

~— Please note again: it was John Nash and Steve Paterson who cleaned house, not Kevin Pritchard. The wrecking bar had been wielded prior to KP ever being named the Blazers' GM. KP eliminated the last two donkeys, one in a clumsy and extremely costly giveaway and the other in a controversial and graceless forced retirement fiasco. KP's brilliance is that of a builder. He has shown no great acumen in wielding the sledgehammer.

¶— To reiterate, the gold standard at the Center position in 2008-09 was Orlando's tandem of Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat, who put up combined totals of 24.4 points and 18.3 rebounds. One should bear in mind, however, that Orlando played a style that made use of one low post player and 4 de facto wings, which no doubt aided in beefing up the team's rebounding figures for its Centers. The Los Angeles Lakers, with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum both capable of playing the pivot at a high level and big D.J. Mbenga on the bench, are another on the very short list of teams stacked at the position.

Æ— John Hollinger, "Hollinger's Final Playoff Statistics: Rebound Rate, All Positions," ESPN.com, http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/statistics?sort=reb&pos=all&seasonType=2&action=upsell&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fnba%2fhollinger%2fstatistics%3fsort%3dreb%26pos%3dall%26seasonType%3d2

Œ— Brett Pollakoff, "Shaq Enjoys Playing Against Joel Przybilla, No Matter How Old He Gets," NBA Fanhouse, http://nba.fanhouse.com/2008/11/02/shaq-enjoys-playing-against-joel-przybilla-no-matter-how-old-he/, Nov. 2, 2008.

∞— Brett Pollakoff, "Shaq Approves of Joel Przybilla's Nickname," NBA Fanhouse, http://nba.fanhouse.com/2008/11/24/shaq-approves-of-joel-przybillas-nickname/, Nov. 24, 2008. Shaq's direct quotes are transcribed from a raw audio recording of his post-game comments to the press, the mp3 of which appears at that same URL.

º— For Blake's use of MMA training, see http://forums.mmanews.com/general-mma-forum/31857-nba-player-steve-blake-trains-mma.html

¥— "Joel Przybilla of the Portland Trail Blazers at Team Quest," YouTube video, " style="color: #c8181d !important; text-decoration: none !important; background-color: transparent;" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pHoHSCZugM

*— Kerry Eggers, "Przybilla's Primed for Basketball and a Baby," Portland Tribune, http://www.portlandtribune.com/sports/story.php?story_id=31853, Sept. 27, 2005.

©— Billy Ray, "Surprise, You Have a Center!" RealGM.com, http://trailblazers.realgm.com/articles/95/20050413/surprise_you_have_a_center/, April 13, 2005.

±— Joel Przybilla, testimonial for Duke Roufus Academy, http://www.milwaukeemma.com/testimonials.html.

∏— Interviews by Mike Barrett with Joel and Noelle Przybilla and Kevin Pritchard on Trail Blazers Courtside, July 17, 2006. Audio links via "Przybilla On Courtside Monday Night," Mike Barrett's Blog, http://mikebarrettsblog.blogspot.com/2006_07_01_archive.html, July 17, 2006.

∂— "Dwight Howard," Basketball-Reference.com, http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/h/howardw01.html

∑— Casey Holdahl, "Catching Up with Joel Przybilla," Center Court Blog, http://trailblazerscentercourt.blogspot.com/2008/09/catching-up-with-joel-przybilla.html, Sept. 25, 2008.

ñ— Jason Quick, "Lakers Take Out Greg Oden and the Blazers on NBA's Opening Night," Behind the Blazers Beat, oregonlive.com/behindblazersbeat/2008/10/highpowered_lakers_crush_blaze.html" target="_blank" style="color: #c8181d !important; text-decoration: none !important; background-color: transparent;">http://blog.oregonlive.com/behindblazersbeat/2008/10/highpowered_lakers_crush_blaze.html, Oct. 28, 2008.

ë— An extremely useful resource detailing team and player salary data, browser-bookmark-worthy for every fan of the NBA, is "Storyteller's Contracts," http://www.storytellerscontracts.com/

+— On the Aug. 17, 2009 episode of "Trail Blazers Courtside," Mike Barrett said with great authority that "I know that's the plan" for Joel to exercise his player option. Absolutely no hesitation or shadow of a doubt on the matter, with the implication that he was leaving so that Joel Freeland would have a place coming over from England for the 2010-11 season. Hmmmm. I''ll bet you a beer he doesn't...

This article is dedicated to Greg Oden as a reminder that big men getting hurt is par for the course. People who know the game understand this. Don't worry about the others.

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