December 17, 2007
By now, Keon
Clark's declaration that the former forward/center "never played a
game sober" has made its way across the internet. The story has been out
for a few days, and I'm still not sure how to feel about it.
Clark, when he wanted to be, was a heck of a basketball player. Possessing a massive wingspan, the 6'11" big could run with the best of them. He had a good rolling hook, soft touch and defensive instincts that matched his sometimes shockingly-good athleticism. This mixtape does a good job of summing things up. Not sure if the NBA ever noticed, but Keon was left-handed.
Another thing the league didn't notice, apparently, was the smell of juniper berries on his breath. If Keon is to be believed, and I'm not entirely convinced that he is, Clark was downing a half-to-full pint of gin a day, drinking during halftimes of games and playing while intoxicated. This, to me, doesn't make sense ... and not in the whole, "you shouldn't drink every day, on the job, while playing basketball, or any combination of all three"-way.
Gin smells. Gin smells horrible. I'm sure the people who drink gin can tell me some lovely things about the libation, but as a former bartender, I loathed having to bust out the gin bottle (be it the cheap stuff or expensive kind) because I knew that 1/8th of a teaspoon of spilled gin would trump any other noxious odor that might emanate from behind the bar.
This potent potable, more so than any other I can think of, tends to stand out; so it makes little sense that Keon would be able to play drunk or near-drunk in certain NBA games (to say nothing of every NBA game he ever played) without anyone catching on, trying to help, or treating him any worse than what he appeared to deserve on the surface (a good-but-limited big who often couldn't be bothered to put it all together).
So, while we appreciate Keon coming to terms with his life and throwing himself at the mercy of the court in this instance, we're going to regard this as an addict willing to say anything he can to alternately grab attention, and overcompensate in candidly admitting to past transgressions in the face of a judge who would be deciding the shape of things to come for KC.