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When Shawn Kemp blew up, and other warning stories

Article by Nicholas Jackson

While we were trying to figure out something new to say about the actual NBA’s ongoing lockout, Trey Kerby at TBJ found something interesting around the NBA’s last lockout, from 1998. It relates to the current one, and it should hopefully serve as a warning to all the NBA players locked out from their teams. Not just in regards to the (hopefully, just) truncated season, but their careers in general. The story is about Cleveland Cavaliers forward Shawn Kemp, and how he obtained so fat between this game, and the start of 1999 season nine months later. Very little pregnancy jokes, please.

First, the lowdown with the Cleveland Plain-Dealer:

The Cavs listed him at 6-10, 280 pounds — a 34-pound increase with the previous season — but then-General Administrator Wayne Embry later revealed in his autobiography that Kemp reported to stay at 315 pounds.

“He was really very honest about this, ” former Cavs coach Mike Fratello recalled. “I stated, ‘Shawn, how did this happen? ‘ He said, ‘Coach, I didn’t think i was coming back. ‘”

Now, the history.

Kemp’s real issues started when his / her Seattle SuperSonics re-signed Gary Payton to some deserved contract during the 1996 offseason, while having a chance on defensive-minded big man Jim McIlvaine through same month. McIlvaine had led the NBA throughout blocks per minute in Washington all seasons before, and he seemed like an ideal fit alongside Kemp and a SuperSonics team that had a good number of firepower to make up for McIlvaine’s a problem shortcomings.

Kemp, instead of relishing the opportunity to improve upon his team’s 64-win season in the campaign prior, sulked. Unable to re-negotiate his relatively lacking contract as a result of terms of the year-old collective bargaining agreement, he pouted his way through the next season before forcing a three-team package that sent him to #link# Cleveland with September of 1997. Kemp, to his credit, excelled with the Cavaliers which year, working with four rookies from the rotation to help lead Cleveland into the playoffs and the NBA’s best defensive (that’s pace-adjusted, mind you) under coach Fratello.

For Kemp to assume that the NBA would lose the entire 1998-99 #link# year? That’s tough to swallow, so for you to speak, because few really thought the season would be lost. There was rhetoric, #link# to make certain, but take it from someone who was writing within the lockout back then — far more expect the 2011-12 season for being canceled than expected 1998-99 to proceed bye-bye.

And it’s not as if Kemp hadn’t utilized criticism for his #link# weight months before the season got underway #link# in Feb. His appearance in a December charity game (and the subsequent pictures in which showed #link# up in ESPN your Magazine soon after) had Cleveland fans writing over 1999 campaign months before it started out.

Though they needn’t. As Kevin Pelton pointed out on Twitter on Monday, #link# Kemp actually came through with a fine season in 1999, utilizing a more rewarding jump shot and his typically very good touch. It was Zydrunas Ilgauskas'(notes) wounds (Big Z managed just five mmorpgs that year) that sunk the Cavs. Faced with a bigger offensive load the next season devoid of Ilgauskas, Kemp’s turnovers spiked as they hit his 30s, and his helpfulness decreased.

It’s not as if the Cavs didn’t aim to, pardon the turn of phrase, reshape their former All-Star. Then-GM Wayne Embry had this to express:

“With the money we were paying him, we had every reason can be expected him to stay in shape. It was not as if he could not afford to lease people to help him do in which.

“The Cleveland Clinic nutritionist put him with a diet, but Shawn did not have the discipline to adhere to it. We even offered to have a chef go to her house and prepare meals for your ex boyfriend….I told Shawn the same thing I told Mel Turpin typical, ‘I don’t want anyone playing personally that weighs more than me. ‘ That did not work either. “

Kemp had signed an extensive contract extension following his trade to Cleveland, and Embry’s correct — the Cavs weren’t obligated to rent a nutritionist or personal chef along with the money they were already compensating him for his hopeful 20 and 10 a night.

And at a good number of point, you have to stop blaming Anthony McIlvaine for everything. Especially when you do not play with the guy anymore.

Very little, this was on Kemp. It wasn’t on McIlvaine or George Karl as well as Wally Walker or the lockout or #link# bad advice he might have gotten on a lost season. Shawn might have held it together during the reduced #link# 1999 season, but everything beyond that’s a massive failure. He waddled his route to Portland in 2000, but had to leave the team on the end of his first season as he struggled which includes a cocaine addiction. A stint with Orlando and failed workouts in front of several other teams followed, and this potential was never realized.
Shawn Kemp wasn’t a blubbering mess over the shortened lockout season. He played quite well and nearly led the Cavaliers returning to the playoffs. And his weight gain may not #link# have been the beginning of his basketball end, because the 1996 offseason may have had more related to his frustration than anything else.

It didn’t help, though. Keep that in your mind as you consider the tiramisu with this lockout, NBA’ers.

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