Tuesday, September 2, 2008

On that Outlaw wanting more shots thing

We have all read it by now. In fact, the Travis-saying-he-wants-more-shots issue has been pretty much covered (1, 2). If not for my hyena streak I would probably leave it alone at this point, but I can't resist the possibility of crumbs on the carcass. Yummy carrion.

Outlaw will experience a little backlash from some fans over this. But what did he do, really?

1) He used human reasoning ability to deduct that adding offensive perimeter talents Bayless and Fernandez will result in a diminished role for him in the offense.

2) He was concerned about this.

3) He voiced these concerns to a reporter.

The problem is not #1, all Outlaw is guilty of here is possessing some logical thinking ability.

Perhaps the issue is #2. Surely, a true team-player would be happy to welcome additional talent to the roster. If it means reduced individual achievement, that is a small sacrifice for the ultimate goal of team success.

Before you buy that consider Outlaw's position. He struggled until last season, when he broke out and experienced the first sustained on-court success of his career. He is still young, and probably rightly believes his ability is still growing. I can understand how Outlaw feels that he is finally on the cusp of something very good. In a way, he has had the rug pulled from underneath his feet. He has the right to be a little upset about the deal. Would you really want a player that in his heart would be truly happy to be less involved with the team?

Then we come to issue #3, which caused this whole mini-storm. Outlaw showed candor we don't see all that often. Actually, such public honesty and openness will be very rare on this team that is stacked with some self-aware and conscientious talent. Maybe he knew management and MacMillan would be deaf to his concerns, and decided to go public with his hissy. Perhaps Outlaw will learn a lesson from this and go Clyde Drexler with the media from now on. Speculation is fun.

Whatever his motivation, Outlaw is well within the normal range of human reaction to his situation. We are reminded, once again, that these people are human beings after all. He isn't living up to some idealized expectation that probably doesn't exist. We don't want normal humans with insecurities to play on our team. It ruins the whole illusion.

Speaking of insecurities, please believe Outlaw has them. Sometimes he says things that taken literally can definitely give off the vibe of another athlete with delusions of grandeur. As Dave says from Blazers Edge:

If you had a Ferrari, you’d want to drive it fast sometimes. You may understand the need for a speed limit. You may agree with it. But when most of your life is spent driving 65 it’s hard not to envy a guy in Germany who can drive 120 whenever he wants. I mean, it’s a Ferrari, dude. Travis is pretty sure he’s a Ferrari. And looking at some of the things he’s able to do on the court it’s hard to disagree.

I'm not so sure Travis actually thinks of himself in this way. On the court, his sporadic confidence issues have been noted by many. His bluster seems more likely to be an attempt to deny these insecurities than to reflect his true feelings. Is it outlandish to think Outlaw feels a bit threatened by the arrival of Bayless and Fernandez? Would such a feeling be abnormal?

The broad underlying issue from all of this is how the Blazers will handle being stacked with so much talent. Not just any talent, but the young, ambitious, and flourishing variety. The type that wants to get shots and shine. The organization has excelled at obtaining such wealth of personnel, now we get to see how adept they are at managing it.