The Hawks are holding a rookie and free agent mini-camp this week. For those who don’t know, rookie and free agent mini-camps generally are reserved for three types of players: 1) recent draft picks; 2) players who are trying to transition from Europe back to the NBA; 3) players who sit on the end of the bench and occasionally break their folding chairs (assuming they can fit in them).
On Tuesday, I went looking for a player in category 3 but I only found part of him. Randolph Morris was only too happy to tell me the rest of him was lost.
That and other items in this week’s Tuesday Countdown. Take it Count (who by the way could lose a few pounds himself):
The Hawks need a big man. It might be a stretch to say a guy who played less than four minutes a game last season can fill the void, but Morris is giving it a run. He is 6-foot-11 and now weighs about 270 pounds. This past season, he admits only to weighing 285. There is a belief in some corners he actually topped 300. But when I asked him for that confession Tuesday, he smiled and said, “Not when I stepped on the scale. But I felt like I was 300.” Fortunately, he woke up.
Before detailing how Morris changed, here’s the background. Morris was supposed to be a star. He was a McDonald’s All-American at Landmark Christian. He opted not to enter the NBA draft in 2004 and instead went to Kentucky (Georgia Tech, among other schools, wanted him). He was OK but certainly not great in his one season in Lexington, declared himself eligible for the draft, but didn’t get taken. He petitioned to go back to the Wildcats, which the NCAA allowed on the condition he miss half the season. Following that year, he signed with the New York Knicks as a free agent. He was ordinary. Then last year, he was picked up by the Hawks, where he mostly sat.
Now, I don’t know what how good Morris can be. But I know what assistant coach Tyrone Hill said Tuesday: “Whenever you can lose that much weight, it helps your quickness and you feel stronger mentally. think it’s a sign of him turning over a new leaf. …We need a big guy, bad. The top four, five teams in the East are getting a lot bigger and stronger. He can help us. He’s got talent. But it’s really up to Randolph.
Morris said he used to “have to go to Wendy’s after practice” for a quick meal. Every day. His weakness: “A bacon cheeseburger meal.” Would he supersize? “Of course. I mean, when they ask you, you’ve got to do it, right.” He also would go grocery shopping and fill his cart with soda (not diet), sweet tea, Doritos (Cool Ranch, of course), Cheetos and an assortment of cookies. “I loved those little Duplex kind. One side’s white, the other side’s chocolate and there’s that cream in the middle. I’d get a 72-pack of those.” After some nudging by his fiancée, Morris finally came to realize he needed to get in better shape. He improved his diet (fruits, whole grains, fish) and increased his workouts. Down went the inseam.
Morris is in the last year of his contract. Nothing like a little financial pressure to light a fire under your backside. Opportunity has been a motivator. He knows the Hawks haven’t solved all of their issues in the post. He knows this could be it. He knows people have questioned his work ethic in the past. “I know I have a chance to prove myself. I know if I don’t do it, they’ll look somewhere else. I need to step up so I can play aside Al [Horford] and Zaza [Pachulia]. …One of my coaches in middle school said the worst thing they can say about you is you have potential. I know it’s in there somewhere. I just have to find it.”
The Miami Dolphins announced Marc Anthony has been added as a minority owner, joining entertainers Gloria and Emilio Estefan. And where you get Marc Anthony, you get Jennifer Lopez. So at the very least, the Dolphins will not be short for anthem singers. The good news is, this probably makes a miserable human being like Bill Parcells even more miserable. When you think about it, Parcells now works for J-Lo. But with her hanging around the complex, at least now he’s got someone to compare butt sizes with.
As you might’ve read on AJC.com, Carver-Columbus high school has banned – banned! – Georgia coach Mark Richt and his assistants from recruiting on their campus. Why? The Bulldogs had the nerve to rescind a scholarship offer to a player. Dudes: Get over it. Everybody feels bad for the kid. But this kind of thing happens all the time. Schools over commit or change their mind. Yes, I’m sure the kid was embarrassed because he was in Athens on campus when Richt pulled back the offer. But please. Are we to believe that if Carver-Columbus has a linebacker or receiver who aspires to play for Georgia, his coaches aren’t going to allow Richt to watch him, talk to him or work him out? Who’s doing the disservice here?
Commissioner Roger Goodell said again — after the Marc Antony press conference! — that he wants to see genuine remorse from Michael Vick over what he did before he agrees to reinstate him. Look, I’m guessing that Vick officially will be off the suspension list in the next couple of weeks. But what more does he want? Regardless of where you stand on Vick as a person or an athlete, he already has lost more in terms of income, stature and reputation than any athlete in sports history. (I put him ahead of Mike Tyson because Tyson had a lot more public baggage than Vick even before he finally crashed and burned.) Do you want the man to drop to his knees and cry? Get this over with.
A minor league baseball team, the Brooklyn Cyclones, offered a pre-game Lamaze class in center field before Sunday night’s game. It was one of several activities the team did in conjunction with the “Bellies and Baseball: A Salute to Pregnancy” event. They even had a “craving” station with pizza, pickles and ice cream. The Braves considered doing the same promotion in 2007. But then they just cut Bob Wickman instead.
Erin Andrews had no comment on Randolph Morris, Jennifer Lopez, Carver-Columbus, Roger Goodell or the Brooklyn Cylclone. I was told my digital editors she’s kind of a big deal and I needed to get her in here somewhere.