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Educating Brendan

When Julio was a kid and playing driveway basketball, every so often the
neighbor's dad would join in. Older, slower, and unable to keep up with
the teenagers who flew by him, he would neutralize that advantage in a very
simple way: he would hold. Or shove. Or push. No matter what you did,
Hillel Gitelman would find a way to make you miss, even if it meant hanging on
to your forearm. That's what older guys do when they can't keep up any
more. Like, say Patrick Ewing. Remember when Brendan Haywood said that Utah's
Andy Jensen reminded him of "the dirty old man at the Y?" He
ain't seen nothing yet. Ewing's going to be after Haywood like he worked at the
Gold Club. Wait, that didn't really work, did it? Well, you get the idea.

Patrick Ewing, to be clear, is far from our favorite player. He's
always been a bit selfish for our taste, and his genius for defense abandoned
him somewhere. When he was a freshman, he beat Oregon or Oregon State - we
forget - by himself, in the first three minutes of the game. He blocked a shot
and then beat everyone downcourt for a massive dunk. Game over! You could
see those West Coasters just in shock. They never recovered.

He's a long way from that. He's kind of the Hil Gitelman of the NBA now, an
older guy who can still compete if he can neutralize the young bucks. Watch him
whack Haywood relentlessly. Watch him bang him down low and teach him how
to throw elbows. And the thing is, being the NBA, there's absolutely no point in
complaining or calling him the dirty old man, because a) Brendan will be
making a lot of money for taking his beatings, and b) any sign of weakness is
pounced on by the league in general, from refs on down. The NBA is the
ultimate meritocracy.

For Haywood, who has drifted often in his career, this is a really, really
good thing. He'll be forced to hold his ground. He'll have to grow
up in ways he didn't have to in the ACC. And by the time Ewing has
finished teaching him, he might be a fairly competent NBA center.

He's not going to enjoy it. But if he whines, or complains, he's a marked