Finally – outside evidence that I’m not crazy…

Published: February 21, 2009

I’ve been babbling about how bad James Posey is now for over a month, with little or no agreement or encouragement from my fellow Hornets fans.  It’s been going on so long now that I feel like that crazy guy who sits in the corner, picking imaginary fleas out of his coat.  How does nobody else see how horrible Posey is this year!?  And don’t give me that “intangibles”, “doesn’t show up on the statsheet” stuff.  I know when that’s the case (Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby, Sheed in his prime), and when it’s B.S.  With Posey this season – it’s B.S.

Here’s (finally) a national columnist who addresses James Posey’s Loafing ways

As a devoted fan and student of the game, I have heeded your requests for fans to view NBA action on both a more fundamental and a more sophisticated level. Accordingly, I paid special attention to watching James Posey the last time the Hornets played the Spurs. Since you have repeatedly lauded Posey’s defense, I was disappointed in the way Manu Ginobili manhandled him. Posey couldn’t keep Ginobili out of the paint, seemed to be too slow moving laterally and also gave up on several plays. When he wasn’t making his threes, Posey was a complete liability on offense. What am I missing?
— John, San Antonio, TX

[Charley Rosen’s response:]

You’re really not missing much — except a history lesson.

Posey’s break-out season was with Memphis in 2003-04 under Hubie Brown when he averaged 13.2 ppg, shot 38.6 percent from beyond the arc and 47.7 percent overall. Helped immensely by Posey’s performance, Memphis won 50 games before being swept by the Spurs in the opening round of the playoffs.

But Posey got too enamored with his own success and gained weight in the offseason with the extra poundage contributing to various injuries that limited him to 50 games the following season.

The Grizzlies commenced that 2004-05 campaign by losing five of their initial 16 games. During that stretch, Hubie retired, and the interim coach, Lionel Hollins, was replaced by Mike Fratello.

Like his mentor Brown, Fratello was a screamer and a nagger, but lacked his teacher’s bonafides. Even though Memphis won 44 games, Fratello’s high-powered style of coaching wore down the chops of most of his players.

Accordingly, Posey played with diminished enthusiasm, averaging only 8.1 ppg, shooting 30.9 percent from the outskirts and 35.7 percent total. The Memphis front office, disgusted with Posey’s lackadaisical play, dealt him to Miami (as part of a massive five-team trade).

Posey’s competitive chops were roused as the Heat went on to win the championship. But Miami’s fortunes were blighted the following season when Dwyane Wade suffered a series of crippling injuries, and Posey was itching to see what kind of interest his own free agency status would attract.

The next stop for Posey was Boston, where he reverted to being a money-shooter and defensive ace.

A pattern is certainly discernible. Throughout his career, Posey has been at his best while playing for competitive teams such as the Grizzlies’ 50-win season, plus championship seasons in Miami and Boston.

And it’s precisely because New Orleans is such a long ways from being a championship contender that Posey seems to be just going through the motions. The Hornets’ comparative lack of success is a surprise to most NBA-watchers, especially on the heels of their 56-win season in 2007-08.

But whatever the reasons for the Hornets’ decline, it has greatly affected Posey’s attitude.

So, John, your observation that Posey “gave up on several plays” is right on.

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