I used to not like Brandon Jennings.
I never dreamed I'd pay tribute to him, let alone enjoy doing so.
I'd never admit this to his mom, who I met just a week ago in Atlanta. (How do you tell someone's mom that you used to not like her son's game?)
But I have to be honest. At times during the JSE, I grew nearly as tired of BJ as I did of Smoove. It's like Smith was that enabling drinking buddy who brought out the worst in him.
And that's what makes Jennings' PSE turnaround so remarkable: he didn't just start playing better basketball... he also became extraordinarily likable.
When I made that video of the Pistons' 10-game surge, I kinda fell in love with Brandon's style of play. You see... I'm one of those guys on the pickup court who plays with passion. I'm no trash-talker, but I give it 100% and I play with a lot of emotion.
Watching all those highlights, I found myself drawn to the clips of BJ yelling, dancing, scoring and passing. It's just fun to watch, and to see how much he cares about winning.
His turnaround this past month was especially satisfying for me, mainly because I'm a die-hard optimist. After SVG took the reigns, I was convinced he'd get the best out of everyone on the roster, especially Jennings. I knew BJ had talent - we'd all witnessed those fleeting moments of Swag in the past - and my belief was that the right coach could harness it and help him play smarter, more selfless basketball.
Although he remains a streaky, inconsistent player... IME there's no longer any doubt he has the tools to be a starting PG for a top-tier NBA team. He's not elite yet, but he's young enough to become elite with the right coaching, teammates and environment.
And that's what made his injury hurt so much more.
The thing is... we don't know if we'll ever see him fulfill his potential for the Pistons. We don't know what the future holds, we don't know how he'll bounce back after the injury, and we don't even know what the Pistons' roster will look like next year.
So I decided to pay tribute to Brandon Jennings' resurgence in a little video I cobbled together.
For those who've seen my debut video, please keep in mind that it took about 40 hours to complete. I slapped this one together in 3-4 hours, after putting my sick daughter (and sick wife) to bed. I hate rushing these things, but I wanted to get this out there while it was still fresh on everyone's minds. I'm also a therapist, so maybe I wanted to help devastated Pistons fans heal a bit and feel better for a few minutes.
So forgive the lack of polish on this one, but I hope you can watch it and appreciate Swag's incredible turnaround this season... and maybe feel more optimistic that good things are on the horizon for your Detroit Pistons.
Things are just beginning to get interesting for this team. There's a ton of potential on the roster already, SVG has shown he can coach, and we know there's a lot of work to be done before the roster is complete.
So watch this and hope that we finally have our PGOTF, or at least feel good about the joy, excitement and passion Swag bestowed on us during this past month.
Here's hoping he gives me another chance to pay tribute next year.
P.S. I used the same band as in the first video. I do have music by other artists, but this song just seemed to fit perfectly.