Upper Deck: JJB Ruminations & 'Gnominations'

Professor Carter comes out of the Upper Deck for a close look at Blake Griffin ... some sadness about the not-yet-readiness of Peja ... and leans way in for a look at Hero of the Week JJB, too.

The Tuesday night game against the team from the Los Angeles Barber College was strangely rewarding on a number of different levels. Partly it was because I was out of my usual seat and in the lower deck of the arena which had an effect on my perspective of the game. I had an up-front view of the latest young phenom to hit the NBA in the person of Blake Griffin. I have to admit after everything I had heard about him prior to the game I was expecting something of a cross between Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, and Thor, the Norse deity.

Not to undersell him, he was a very good player, especially for one so early in his career, and considering that he was playing for a team that has been historically known for, um, well for giving haircuts as much as playing basketball.

During the first quarter, I have to admit I had some level of concern, partly because the Dallas Mavericks looked like a football team I watched back in the fall: tired, old, and indifferent. However, there was a major force waiting to be unleashed, one that would take us all by surprise. The force of the Maverick bench, specifically in form of Jason Terry and J.J. Barea and Peja in a snappy suit.

We all love Jet. We're all going to like Peja, too, as soon as he gets out of that snappy suit, which Rick Carlisle says isn't going to happen tonight or this weekend.

So let's root for JJB!

I have to admit, I like J.J. A lot of people make fun of him, and personally, I have never understood why. They make fun of the fact that for a basketball player he seems so short. So, well, cute. It makes most fans want to pinch him on the cheek like your Aunt Rose did you at family get-togethers when you were eight years old. It has always been unfair to make fun of J.J. just for being, what is the politically correct term? Vertically challenged. Height is not a requirement for heart. Size is not necessary for courage. Stature is not essential for some other synonym of heart. It appears to me that J.J. has heart, and he does something that relatively few Mavericks do: he attacks the basket.

I am stumped as to the cause of the angry reaction toward him that appears on DB.com Boards. For some reason that remains a bit of a mystery, people tend to have little patience toward JJB. He is popular especially to those at the game, when he enters there is more than a smattering of applause. He appears to be a particular favorite of the women of the audience. After all, as I mentioned before he is cute, in a sort of Verne Troyer way.

Personally, I was glad to see him show up with such energy in the Tuesday night game, as his entry in the in the first half may have been the turning point of the game, and 25 points later there was no doubt, he had a major impact on the outcome. I'd like to see him do it again tonight against the hated Houstonians, at which time I will move to gnominate him for Player of the Week.

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