Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Brian Cardinal - Unlikely Success Story

Jeff Washburn has a nice article on Brian Cardinal in the Journal & Courier today titled "Cardinal continues to realize NBA dream". According to Cardinal, his expectations were met when he made the varsity basketball team in Tolono, Illinois. Needless to say, he has achieved much more than that accomplishment.

"I've succeeded just by being myself ... working hard and being proactive," Cardinal said. "I've improved as the years have gone on. I'm not getting younger, and it seems like the kids coming into the league are getting younger and younger.

"Those guys are much more athletic than what I am. In my position, I'm just trying to stay ahead of the game by continuing to work out and stay in shape. I always try to get after it."

Cardinal and his wife, Danielle, live in Memphis and have a 10-month-old son, Bryson. Cardinal's wife is former Purdue women's basketball player Danielle Bird.

"We enjoy living in Memphis," Cardinal said. "It's a great city. I have a lot of good friends there. There are several Purdue grads that we have befriended. We love it."

And barbecue connoisseur Cardinal couldn't have picked a better city to satisfy his dining habits. He is a frequent visitor to The Rendezvous and Interstate Barbecue -- each a Memphis staple.

"I probably get there too often," Cardinal said. "It's great ... some of the best barbecue. It's good living down there."

It's a nice piece about where hard work and determination can lead you to, and it was nice to hear about one of our less-heralded team members for a change. Who knows, maybe I'll get an Andre Brown or Casey Jacobsen story later this week to top this one.

I know that a lot of people complain rather vociferously about Cardinal's contract and his continual stints on the disabled list the past few seasons. It is true that he hasn't fully lived up to the deal he signed in terms of presence or performance. However, after reading something like this and then recalling how his play in the 2004/05 season helped propel the Grizzlies into the playoffs despite Pau Gasol's absence in several games due to plantar fasciitis, it makes me realize that we, as fans, can be incredibly heartless and critical of guys who are just like us in reality...only a little bit taller. I'm sure none of these players want to get injured after signing these big contracts -- that's just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. And, for all the offbase talk about how "bad" Cardinal's contract is, it isn't like we're dealing with a contract the size of Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill or Allan Houston, is it?

With all that said, I believe that Cardinal can be a valuable contributor for this team, even with the uptempo style they are sure to play. He won't play 24 mpg as he did in 2004/05, but the hustle and perimeter shooting he can likely provide for 8-12 mpg (if needed) should be enough to give Pau, Hakim and Rudy some much needed rest at the forward positions. For me, this is just one more reason to get excited about Memphis Grizzlies basketball as the season draws ever closer.


knots said...

I also think it's mighty fine to have pleasant puff pieces on "good" guys in the NBA. I like Cardinal, he's a hard worker and a legit NBA talent. The sad part of this is that we've rarely seen his talents uninterrupted. I have to admit that although I don't want to be cruel, his contract is indeed a blemish on th Logo's record as GM here. I just think we could've gotten Brian for much less than we paid.

Boyer said...

i like cardinal. i want to see him healthy. he is a great energy guy off the bench. and, if he can play this year - play like he did in 2004/2005 - then he will be a great guy to add depth. oh baby! this season is going to be great. i just hope cardinal can get a few steals, take a couple charges - and of course drain some 3s!

smiit-tay griz said...

I remember when Brian joined the team. His hustle play and work ethic may have been contagious. It seemed that suddenly all the Grizzlies were doing the same, diving for loose balls, grappling on the floor for a jump ball call, using that extra ounce of uummph to change someone's shot. The defense really made a difference at that time. I hope he can return to do the same for us!