DeAndre Jordan is one of the NBA’s most dominant big men. The 6-foot-11, 265-pound center for the Los Angeles Clippers is currently averaging 12.2 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. Last season, he was named t0 the All-NBA First Team and the NBA All-Defensive First Team. At the 2016 Summer Olympics, he helped Team USA capture gold.
In a piece for The Player’s Tribune, Jordan reflected on his nine years in the NBA. Highlights include learning how to prepare like a pro from Marcus Camby, getting dominated by Tim Duncan down low and picking up 150 Starbucks vanilla soy chai lattes for Baron Davis.
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But perhaps the most surprising part of Jordan’s piece is the revelation that Nick Collison is one of the toughest match-ups he’s ever had in the NBA. From Jordan:
It always surprises people when I say this, but one of the toughest players I’ve ever matched up with is Nick Collison. I hear a lot of big men say that Shaq is the hardest guy to guard, and trust me . . . that’s very true. (One time, Shaq almost knocked me out with an elbow to the chest.) But I learned more about the game playing against Nick. I remember one time when we were playing in Oklahoma City and Nick came into the game. He came right up to me and—super politely—said, “Hey man, I’m just letting you know that my coach told me not to let you get any rebounds.” Then he smiled. He was so damn respectful about it.
The rest of the night, every time the ball was at the rim, Nick was crashing into my legs with the hardest box-outs I’d ever felt. He was a man with one mission: to keep me from getting boards. Nick is not the tallest dude, but he’s relentless. He’s a hard, hard competitor. When I play him I know I’m gonna be sore in the morning, because I gotta box this guy out every time—and I know he’s gonna box me out every time.
Getting rebounds when you’re 6’11” is definitely easier, but it’s not easy. With some rebounds, yeah, I can just go up and grab it. But whenever a guy like Nick guards me, or a team throws two or three guys like Nick at me, they’re in the game for one reason: to make my night miserable. As a big man, you hate that . . . but you also respect it.
It might sound crazy considering that Jordan is an elite NBA player and Collison has been a role player for his entire career, but it just goes to show how hard some bench players work to earn their place. Currently in his 13th season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Collison is averaging 1.1 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. He hasn’t averaged more than 5.9 points or 5.1 rebounds in a season since 2009. But sometimes, a player’s most meaningful contributions don’t show up in the box score.
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