Congrats to Jorge Gutierrez, who has officially made it big time in the NBA with a multiyear contract with the Brooklyn Nets. It's not a huge contract (the second year is only partially guaranteed), but it's one that should assure that he will stay on the NBA radar for quite some time.
Gutierrez has actually seen significant playing time. He scored his first NBA points a few weeks ago against the Kings...
He had an impressive 5-6 shooting game against the Nets. You can just see him scrap all the way for his points. No athleticism, nothing too flashy about any of it, just pure efficiency and good decision-making.
And then got ejected for playing "hard defense" a few days later. He was fined $15,000 for the hit, although I'm sure one of the veterans will be happy to spot him some of the money.
Kudos to Jorge, who I think will be in the fixture in the league sooner rather than later. If you have decent skills and incredible work ethic, you will get noticed in this league. And I feel Jorge still has a lot of growth and development yet left in him. His journey's just begun.
We move from a happy story to a somewhat shocking one. DeSean Jackson has been the target of rampant speculation the last few weeks, and it all came to a head today when the Eagles released him. Teams that have shown interest include the Chiefs, Raiders and Jets.
DeSean has been somewhat of a lighting rod for all Cal fans. He's been praised. He's been ridiculed. He's been glorified. He's been trashed. That legacy has followed him to the NFL, and it appears to have caught up to him. Chip Kelly is not someone who wants to deal with too many distractions outside of the football field, and has been quick to discipline pretty much anyone who steps out of line (and occasionally reinstate them. But this isn't college anymore!). Jackson apparently became too much of a distraction for these sort of issues, and he paid the price for it.
Obviously DeSean has had his troubles in the NFL and at Cal with regards to locker room issues (particularly with the Eagles, where he barely talked to anyone on the team). I'm not sure how much he is to blame for this--his father was the classic Little League dad, and maybe that was what was needed to keep him away from bad influences in the league. But unfortunately his inability to see outside of himself have forced him out in Philadelphia, and it might cause his reputation added harm down the road.
I do want to address the gang thing though.
Apparently, DeSean's gang affiliations have been cited by a few sources here and there as part of the reason the Eagles let him go. I know it's the classic thing for all of us to throw our arms up at this alarmist headline. and say "gangs are bad, mmmkay", and it's obviously a troubling association.
But it's not that simple with gangs and athletes. Monte Poole breaks down the DeSean-gang connection.
Back in May 2011, when I was a Bay Area News Group columnist, DeSean's brother, Byron, invited me to join their small group visiting the notorious state prison on the northwest shore of San Francisco Bay. I accepted, curious to see and hear a millionaire NFL star's personal interaction with murderers and rapists and others confined to the margins of society.
DeSean was tremendous, speaking with authority and clarity about his own experience in Los Angeles, talking about friends he had lost to prison or death as a result of the gang lifestyle.
He told me he saw a lot of people at the Q who grew up as he did, navigating violent streets and hoping to survive. Some did. Others did not. DeSean said he always looked to his brother -- Byron Jackson had a brief NFL career -- and their father for guidance.
Jackson said something else that struck a chord: Gangbangers, sensing his bright athletic future, protected him, insulating him from danger. The thugs told him he was going places, and they did not want to be responsible for shattering his dream.
Jackson that day spent several hours at the Q, listening as much as he talked. This was his second trip to the prison and he said he was compelled to visit because doing so reminds him of what he has overcome and, above all, keeps him grounded.
One of the last things he said after the nearly three-hour visit was that he would be back. That he felt the need to return.
Many of our best players have come from gang-infested areas, and had no chance to escape their influence (Marshawn Lynch comes to mind, and he does much to give back to the Oakland community with his Family 1st Foundation). I don't think it's fair to judge Desean as a potential gangster by association because he MIGHT have thrown up a few signs and he posed for a photograph with an INNOCENT MAN.
So seeing Desean being raked over the coals by the national media for this particular little issue has been a bit vexing. No, Desean isn't perfect, but to try him as a criminal when he hasn't been accused of anything is just plain innuendo and at best dishonest marketing by the Eagles.
(FYI, this is how I feel the decision-making went down there. "Look, we don't want to pay Desean all this money, he doesn't block well enough for Chip, we love this wide receiver class and want to pay the new guys cheap, let's stir up his past and throw in some "gang ties" and make everyone believe it and the fanbase will simmer down. PR BATTLE WON EVERYONE, LET'S GET CHEESE STEAKS.")
It will never be simple to be a fan of Desean Jackson, will it?
Tosh Lupoi is doing things!
One report connects top West Coast recruiter Tosh Lupoi to Alabama: http://t.co/EwDaNBfv0d— SB Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) March 28, 2014
Tosh, Kiffin, Saban. The jokes. I have nothing more to say.
P.S. Just checking if you're still Cal fans: WHO IS UPSET BY AARON RODGERS IN THE WISCONSIN LOCKER ROOM AND WHY ARE YOU UPSET BY IT IF YOU ARE?
I know someone is upset by this. Come out of the woodwork. YOU ARE OUT THERE.