Remember the movie Predator? Google it, my young crunks!
In the movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the sole survivor on a commando mission in the jungle. Why they were there and what they were doing is inconsequential. All a young crunk need know is that Arnold’s mercenary party had the gross misfortune of running into an alien from another galaxy. Unfortunately for Arnie and his clan this alien was a cosmic hunter of sorts, collecting species of all kinds from planets scattered throughout the cosmos. The predator was a bad, bad alien, killing things with impunity and great acumen.
After all kinds of killings and spines being ripped from their resting place as trophies, Arnold is left to his own devices, the sole survivor of a reality gone horribly wrong. After a well thought out plan to trap the predator runs-a-muck, the predator finally corners a beaten and bruised Arnold. With one arm, the alien hunter grabs the former governor of California by the throat and lifts him from the ground, turning his face back and forth. With an ugly, pincer throbbing, quizzical look on his face, the predator looks at Arnold and says, “What are you?”
The alien wanted to know what species Arnold represented. What his answer was or how the movie ended is something that shall not be disclosed here. I refuse to ruin one of the classic, top-five guy movies of all time.
Not unlike Arnold, Robin Lopez must answer the same question.
Coming into this season, Alvin Gentry said on more than one occasion and in different ways that Robin Lopez was going to be a key to the Suns season – the “second most important player on the team.”
After what could only be characterized as a brutally below average season, filled with uninspired play, Lopez was finally benched against the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night; he got the big DNP.
Alvin Gentry lifted Robin Lopez up in front of Planet Orange and asked him, “What are you?”
Understanding that everybody that gets paid handsomely to show their wares against the best our world has to offer has a considerable amount of talent to begin with, you should know there are only four types of professional athletes in the world. Generally speaking with few exceptions, there are only four “types” Robin Lopez could be:
The Freak: a player that has exceptional skills, special ability and plays the game as if they were classic overachievers. They are your worst nightmare. Their love, passion and respect for the game are only matched by their exceptional talents. They are self-starters, players that can manufacture desperation as if they did not possess the ability to play in the league. They always demand more. There is always more to give! They comprise the vast majority of the legends we idolize in many halls of fame.
The Gifted: a player that has exceptional skills and special ability. Many times this type of player gets by on his talent alone and does not play the game with passion or love. They don’t get everything they could out of their talent because what lies beneath, their person, never demands more. And this is why they are susceptible to criticism and critique.
The Overachiever: a player that has the talent to compete at the highest level our species can generate but does not possess exceptional skills or ability. This type of player gets by on his effort alone and plays the game with passion, love and respect. They get everything they could out of their talent because of what lies beneath; they always demand more of themselves and realize their career and the success they experience has a direct correlation to their effort. We love this type of player because we can so readily identify with them. They receive praise and respect because they always give their all.
The Underachiever: a player that has skills, sometimes exceptional, and abilities that are sometimes special. Many times this type of player is in the league because of his talent alone. Talent evaluators are constantly waiting for these players to even their production out and become more consistent. They show flashes of their considerable potential and then, for whatever reason, withdraw from that potential. They never challenge themselves and never live up to their potential because they refuse to challenge themselves.
I am a Robin Lopez believer. Coming into this season I thought Alvin Gentry was right on the money when he said Lopez was the second most important player on the roster. He showed flashes of being a classic overachiever, a banger, a guy that could be a productive center in the NBA.
This is not speculation. He did it two-seasons ago; he showed he could be a force in this league; he was developing; his future was bright.
So what happened, young sir? Mr. Lopez what derailed you from your quest?
Or as the predator might say: “What are you?”
Or have you already made that clear?