December 10, 2010
Serbian-born Warriors forward Vladimir Radmanovic(notes) is many things: a capable shooter, a liar, a man who sometimes wears a beard, etc. But over his 10-year NBA career, no one has ever mistaken him for much of a leader. That's what happens when you don't show much interest in defense, or hustling, or even just getting excited when a teammate makes a nice play.
Someone apparently forgot to tell Vlad Rad about his reputation. Because during the Warriors' recent five-game skid, Radmanovic has decided to be the one to make sure his team puts forth all possible effort. From Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle:
"We're struggling right now, and we need to find ways to get back to a winning streak," Radmanovic said. "After being in the league for 10 years and playing on teams that have won and teams that have lost, I have experienced what it takes to win. Bottom line: You have to come to practice and work on aspects of your game that are not clicking." [...]
"Nobody likes to practice," Radmanovic said. "We all wish we could just play in games, because that's where it's fun. No practice, no game. That's the message I was trying to say to the guys."
"I understand that there are a few guys who are playing a lot of minutes, and it's hard for them to come to practice and stay motivated," Radmanovic said. "At the same time, those are the guys who are carrying this team, and we're all depending on their success to win games."
It's hard to know where to start with this story, but let's begin with the fact that Radmanovic lecturing everyone on working hard is as rich as a series of unwarranted contracts have made the man himself. Perhaps he's actually been a demon in practice during all these years and hasn't been active in games because he's all tuckered out. I don't know, I guess practices are closed in part to maintain the illusion that real games are the only things that matter. I gather that Vlad wasn't a big fan of Allen Iverson's infamous practice press conference.
Of course, games do matter way more than anything else, and Radmanovic is absolutely correct that players like Ellis and Stephen Curry(notes) carry the Warriors for as many of the season's 82 contests as they can. If they don't work hard in practice, it's not because they're not motivated, but because they are legitimately tired and shouldn't exert themselves too much in full-court 3-on-2 drills. But Vlad Rad's the expert, right? I mean, he hasn't averaged more than 23 minutes per game in five seasons, which apparently makes him one of the most put-upon players in the league.
Will any Warriors listen to Radmanovic? Maybe, if only because the man has been to the NBA Finals as a starter. Then again, his performance was also a major reason the Lakers lost to the Celtics in 2008: he struggled to shoot with any consistency and did absolutely nothing else to help the team (because he is Vladimir Radmanovic). This is not exactly a dependable veteran -- he's more like a 45-year-old guy at a local gym who thinks people should respect him just because he's been going there longer than anyone else.
Monta's reaction sums up the ridiculousness of this whole ordeal pretty well. I don't know what he said when questioned about Vlad's thoughts on the team, but whatever he came up with almost certainly has more validity than that of a player who can't get more than 14.1 minutes per game on a team in desperate need of bench help at both forward positions. When Vladimir Radmanovic questions your effort, you just dismiss it with "a quick retort" and move on to the next issue. Like, I don't know, winning a game and stopping a losing streak.