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An Ode To Marreese Speights

Farewell Mo, we hardly knew you.

Marreese Speights was (finally) traded today in a three-team deal, which will land him in Memphis and will supply the Sixers with two second round picks in next year’s draft. It’s a good deal for Mo, because it gives him a fresh start in a new city, where he will certainly get some playing time right off the bat with Zach Randolph’s injury. It’s good for the Sixers because well, they weren’t going to play him anyway. It clears the room on the bench and the room off the cap to add another player this season if needed without going into luxury tax territory.

Speights managed to get himself deeper into Doug Collins’ doghouse than any player since Collins became coach last season. I mean, really deep. I mean, for a few games, he was behind Darius Songaila. Speights became the poster child for unrealized potential on the Sixers. The common belief was that Speights didn’t try very hard, didn’t value defense, and was a selfish player. There may be some truth to all of those things.

But this, like most situations like this one, are probably slightly more complicated than we give them credit for.

To me, the Speights ordeal goes back to the Eddie Jordan season. Speights started off the season playing very well. In the blog I was keeping back then (my first blog ever!), I often campaigned for more time for Speights. Then, on November 15th Speights injured his knee and missed the next eight weeks of the season. He was never the same after that.

I’m not saying it was the injury that’s kept him from performing, but I think it started to snowball. Speights came back from the injury and wasn’t in good shape. He stumbled the rest of the season. Mind you though, by the time he returned, the season was an absolute, unmitigated, certifiable disaster. Every player had checked out, and the entire organization knew the coach was going to be fired. Not a great situation to come back to.

When Collins took over, he didn’t take to Speights. Maybe Collins didn’t see Speights working hard enough, maybe it was Speights not picking up the defensive assignments, whatever it was, but it wasn’t working. Instead of using it for motivation, it seemed to continue to spiral downard for Speights. When he’d get his limited playing time, he’d shoot almost every time he touched the ball, probably trying to prove himself the wrong way. You can guess what happened from there. ┬áProving you should play more by trying to fit 20 minutes of playing time into five minutes doesn’t work.

Finally, after the extended off-season that had many of the Sixers return in great shape, reports were that Speights came in the opposite. He hasn’t played for the Sixers this season, and now he won’t ever.

I don’t think Speights worked hard enough here in Philly. I think if you asked him privately he may agree with that sentiment. I don’t think it means he’s incapable of doing so though. Sometimes, things just don’t work out the way you want them to.

People can be pretty mean on the Internet, but Speights always seemed like a good natured, light hearted guy who legitimately enjoys playing basketball. When I repeatedly complained about his lack of defense last season on Twitter, he still greeted me with a smile and a handshake.

For whatever reasons, it didn’t work in Philadelphia for him. I hope it goes well and he finds a good basketball home in Memphis. I also hope his dream of freeing Lil’ Boosie eventually comes to fruition. We’ll always have you tweeting twitpics of fat chicks.


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