Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Irrational hate of Larry Hughes

I may have become one of those fans. Maybe I have crossed the line over to the dark side. For it is quite possible that even if Larry Hughes scored 30 points a game and averaged a triple double for the rest of February, I would still swear at him every time he checked into a game in the fourth quarter.

It is completely irrational to hate a player who should be a major component on one of your hometown teams. And honestly it is not about the money. It is not Larry Hughes’ fault that the Cavs agreed to pay him what they pay him. And it is not my money.

Over the last week or so, I have seen comments about how Larry Hughes has played well in the last few games. There have been games where he made more than half his shots when his season average is in the lower thirties. There has been mention of his defense.

And still when it is the fourth quarter and he is in the game, I swear out loud. And every time he pulls up for a shot, I cringe. If one of his jumpers actually falls in, I am amazed.

I am not sure what he could do to win me over.

Why don’t I like Larry Hughes?

It starts with my view of him as Rec player. What does that mean? To me it means, Larry is all about his shot. He thinks he is better than he is, so he chucks up any shot that he can. The man has no conscience. He never remembers a bad shot and he honestly believes that the next one will go in. It doesn’t matter what the numbers say, if he thinks he has a shot- he is taking it. In other words, he honestly believes his low percentage shot is better than anyone else taking a shot. And yet Larry Hughes plays on a team with LeBron James, Z and a youngster in Boobie Gibson whose three-point percentage is among the tops in the league.

I keep hearing how the Cavs are better when Larry plays the point even though he wants to be the shooting guard. Like he is a team player sacrificing his game. Well, that really isn’t true. LeBron is point guard. Sure when there is no pressure, Larry will dribble the ball up but that doesn’t make him the point guard. In most close games or if the Cavs are trailing in the fourth quarter- Larry Hughes in on the bench. Why because Boobie and Damon Jones are better outside shooters and Devin Brown and Ira Newble are stronger defenders.

It bothers me that people think Larry Hughes is a good defender. He isn’t. Does he make some good defensive plays? Yes, yes he does but ask any coach if that makes a good defensive player. In my opinion, Larry Hughes spends more time and effort looking like he is a good defender than actually being one. What do I mean by that? He muscles up or move his feet and arms but to what end. Most of the time if the man Larry is guarding wants to move forward, he can and does. If the man wants to pull up and get off a jump shot, he can and does.

Larry Hughes is obviously talented. Everyone in the NBA is. Anyone in the NBA is capable of having impressive moments. But overall, Hughes depresses the crap out of me. And maybe it is because the Cavs have had success with him out of the lineup. Maybe it is his laid-back attitude that makes it seem like he doesn’t care if he wins or loses. Maybe it is his lack of a conscience on taking bad shot after bad shot. Or maybe it is because he is one the player who LeBron James has not made better.

Seriously- think about that. How has Z’s career had a rebirth? How has Drew Gooden despite some brain-farts become a valuable asset? How has Boobie gone from a little used backup with a weird nickname to a playoff hero and all-star weekend three-point contestant? Why did Anderson Varejao’s agent think he could get double digit millions for a guy with no natural offensive skills. The Cavs, with a roster no one else wants, made the NBA finals and yet Larry Hughes now with three years on his belt playing with LeBron has regressed. I keep hearing how Hughes just is not a good fit for the Cavs. How can anyone not find a way to fit in with a man who can get him an NBA ring?

Think on that for a while. What does that say about someone?

I know Larry Hughes is not going anywhere. No one wants his contract. Hughes really could only play for Wizards, Suns, Warriors and maybe the Knicks. He needs a team where he can run and gun and not worry about missed shots. His defensive assets are really just cheap steals and taking chances. It makes no sense to boo him. It makes no sense to hope for hangnail so he can sit out a month. But that is how I feel. I want him to change my mind. I want him to prove me wrong. I just don’t see it happening.