By: mitchell felker
The Fly - This piece by the guys at Hardwood Paroxysm is a few days old, but I had to pass it on, especially after last night.
After spending some time in Ukraine, Greece, Russia and the D-League, Patrick Beverley, a young guard from Chicago, Illinois, found a home in Houston and quickly made a name for himself by being a defensive pest. He can do other things, of course. His offensive rebounding rate happens to be higher than those of Draymond Green, Chris Bosh and David West. If you pay too much attention to any of the Rockets’ Big Three, he’ll make you pay by stepping outside and knocking down some threes. But it really is his ball-hawking defense that has propelled him into the starting lineup for this season’s Houston Rockets – a team with championship aspirations.
The rest article is about Beverley's well-known defensive acumen (and even includes a highlight of some of his finer work from the Warriors game). But as I was reading it last night while watching the Suns game, I couldn't help but think about his path to Houston. We all know about Beverley's long trip to the NBA, but for those of you who aren't familiar with some of the difficulties a black man can face in parts of Europe, you may not understand just how tough and resilient Patrick Beverley truly is. I must concede that I don't know much about the European basketball scene, but as a longtime international soccer fan, I've watched many games from overseas. And admittedly, things may be different for black basketball players in Europe than they are for footballers.
But in soccer, Ukraine and Russia are two of the toughest, most racist and violent countries in the world for a young black player. Entire stadiums screaming obscenities, chanting racist songs and even going as far as throwing bananas onto the playing field. Acts so deplorable that they have caused players to break down on the field and entire teams to walk off in disgust in the middle of competition. That goes on in public, under the lights and with cameras catching everything. I can't even imagine what goes on in private or when just walking down the street. And that's just the racially-motivated hate directed at black players; everyone on the opposing team faces all different kinds of abuse, physical and mental. That is the environment that bridged Beverley's college days to his time now as the Rockets starting point guard. It required grit and a resolve that is rare even in the sports arena.
So jump forward to last night's game, and Markieff Morris is at the free throw line with an and-one opportunity and a chance to put the Suns up three with less than a minute left to go. Morris missed, and that possession and the next three for either team ended like this: Beverley defensive rebound, Beverley made three-pointer, Beverley defensive rebound and Beverley two made free throws. Rockets up three with 20 seconds to go. D-Mo hit two big free throws to ice it at the end, but when the Rockets were down and time was running out, it wasn't Dwight Howard's cape, James Harden's hero-ball or even Chandler Parsons' hair that bailed the Rockets out. It was the gritty, tough defensive-specialist.
To say that Patrick Beverley developed his toughness while in Europe would be foolhardy on my part; I'm sure any kid from Chicago that makes it to the NBA has such traits standard. But the adversity and the struggle that he had to overcome to reach this point has no doubt hardened him and the Rockets are lucky to have that experience in their locker room. For a team with aspirations as high as the Rockets, and knowing the high-pressure games that must be conquered to reach such goals, having a guy like Beverley is awfully reassuring. Because after playing in stadiums in Kiev and Moscow, hitting a big shot in Chesapeake Energy Arena should be no problem.
To be the best, you have to beat the best -
Rockets have 3rd best record against top teams after Oklahoma City and Miami
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) February 24, 2014
Suns had been 32-3 with a lead after three quarters including 20-1 at home. They led by 10 heading into fourth.
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) February 24, 2014