[SAEN]马刺的“元老”德文特·格雷厄姆获得了他的闪耀时刻

By Jeff McDonald, Spurs Writer | San Antonio Express-News, 2024-04-13 12:18:35

由Gemini Pro人工智能翻译,译文内容可能不准确或不完整,以原文为准。


马刺后卫德文特·格雷厄姆(中)在周五晚上战胜丹佛掘金队的比赛中投进制胜球后庆祝胜利。

德文特·格雷厄姆抢到特雷·琼斯的传球,然后快速启动。

随着时间流逝,马刺落后一分,周五与卫冕 NBA 冠军的四节来回对抗最终演变成了一场一对一的较量。

格雷厄姆对阵丹佛的贾马尔·穆雷。

“我当时只是想,‘冲到篮下’,”格雷厄姆说。

比赛,格雷厄姆。比赛,马刺。

格雷厄姆在比赛还剩 0.9 秒时从穆雷头上急促地跑出 5 英尺,带领马刺在弗罗斯特银行中心以 121-120 意外地取得了一场激动人心的胜利。

这给了马刺在原本令人沮丧的赛季中最激动人心的时刻,这让他们在终场哨响后很久都继续在看台上和主队更衣室里欢呼雀跃。

对于格雷厄姆来说,它也为他个人充满烦恼的赛季画上了一个应得的句号。

在整个第六次 NBA 征程中,直到 4 月份伤病开始增多,格雷厄姆几乎没有出场机会,但无论如何,他已经做好了在聚光灯下的准备。

“他整年都很拼命,”教练格雷格·波波维奇说。“他总是准备好了。我敢肯定他不喜欢(不上场),但他总是为他的球队而战。”

周五,格雷厄姆以最明显的方式出现在那里。整个赛季,他都在以更微妙的方式出现,而这个赛季将在周日主场对阵底特律的比赛中结束。

29 岁的后卫在 2 月份成为球队的最年长球员,当时马刺将道格·麦克德莫特交易到了印第安纳。

队友们称格雷厄姆为“元老”、“老派”或“叔叔”——这些都是对一位资深政治家的爱称,尽管还不满 30 岁,但在一个几乎达到法定饮酒年龄的球员名单中,他看起来简直像个白发苍苍的老人。

同时,波波维奇在整个赛季的大部分时间里都没有叫出格雷厄姆的名字。

在全明星赛中场休息时,格雷厄姆只参加了 12 场比赛。直到 3 月份,他几乎每晚都可以穿着燕尾服和牛津鞋参加比赛,而没人会注意到。

他的大部分动作都出现在训练之后,与视频工作人员和球员发展实习生玩 3 对 3 的比赛。

不知何故,格雷厄姆设法每天早上都带着微笑上班。

“这只是我的成长方式,也是我一直以来在 NBA 的态度,”格雷厄姆说。“你必须随时保持职业水准。你永远不知道谁在关注你。”

随着赛季结束和马刺常规球员中伤病累累,格雷厄姆得到了越来越多的出场时间和越来越长的链条。

他在过去七场比赛中的每一场中都打了至少 18 分钟。不止一次,这位 6 英尺 1 英寸的火花塞在胜负中扮演了关键角色。

格雷厄姆在 4 月 5 日马刺在 New Orleans 的胜利中得到全场最高的 20 分。周五,他在第四节中以 11 分中的 8 分出其不意地击败了掘金队,其中包括制胜一球。

事后,波波维奇将格雷厄姆与马刺夺冠鼎盛时期的两名很少使用的替补球员史蒂夫·科尔和丹尼·费里进行了比较。

“他们没有打太多球,但我们在需要他们的时候他们就在那里,”波波维奇说。(格雷厄姆)是同一块布料,同一物种的人。”

在走出阴影并站出来后,格雷厄姆让 NBA——也许还有波波维奇自己——想起了一件重要的事情,因为这个熟练的后卫正在应对他的职业生涯中接下来会发生的事情。

波波维奇说:“他证明了他仍然是一个球员。”

格雷厄姆周五的大篮子并没有让马刺更接近季后赛的荣耀,就像科尔和费里过去所做的那样。

但这确实帮助马刺或许从西部联盟的垫底中奋起。

周五的胜利加上波特兰输给休斯顿,使马刺以 21-60 的战绩与开拓者并列联盟垫底。由于直接交锋得分高于对手,马刺被认为在积分榜上领先于波特兰。

这场胜利还向丹佛努力连续第二年获得西部第一的尝试投掷了一枚手榴弹。

周五掘金队醒来时只需要击败垫底的马刺队和同样不景气的孟菲斯灰熊队就能获得头把交椅。现在他们已经将驾驶座让给了俄克拉荷马城。

如果周日对阵底特律获胜,马刺将与去年的胜利总数持平。

早在 10 月份,当马刺对维克托·文班亚马的到来寄予厚望时,22 场胜利似乎是一次失败。

考虑到马刺在不到两个月前的处境——在 2 月份的一场灾难性的牛仔竞技比赛后以 11 比 48 落后——22 场胜利感觉像是一个通往更美好未来的跳板。

波波维奇说:“许多处于这种位置的球队就这样死掉了,”他的球队在过去 10 场比赛中赢得了 6 场。“这些家伙,你可以看出他们彼此欣赏。他们互相爱护。”

同样,格雷厄姆本可以在马刺板凳的尽头对大量 DNP 生闷气。

格雷厄姆说,在他沮丧之际,他得到了母亲德瓦娜·金和祖母多丽丝·金的有力支持。她们是周五在弗罗斯特银行中心爆满的观众之一。

他还提到了与叔叔达雷尔的谈话,导致周五赛后新闻发布会上出现了温馨的时刻。

格雷厄姆说:“他一直想让我高呼他的名字。”“我当时想,‘嘿,我不玩游戏,我不做任何媒体工作。我不能。’所以达雷尔,这里就是你的高呼,兄弟。”

格雷厄姆的闪耀时刻——以及延伸到他叔叔达雷尔——几乎贯穿整个赛季。

丹佛的尼古拉·约基奇错失了一个 17 英尺的投篮,如果投进,就会让掘金队在还剩 9 秒时领先三分。琼斯紧贴着自由篮板球,将球传给场上的格雷厄姆,促成了一次为制造或破坏篮筐而进行的疯狂冲刺。

当格雷厄姆的投篮命中,终场哨声在周五马刺赛季最激动人心的胜利之一中响起时,球员们在中场向这位时时可谓之英雄拥去。

球队为胜利而高兴,为格雷厄姆高兴得喜出望外。

前锋桑德罗·马穆克拉什维利说:“他是一个坚持不懈、从不抱怨的职业球员。”“我会为任何人感到高兴,但我为德文特感到非常高兴。我觉得他应得的。”

后来,当格雷厄姆坐在采访台上讲述他的关键投篮时,房间的门被推开,一个 7 英尺 3 英寸的身材走了进来。

文班亚马漫不经心地将一个篮球扔给格雷厄姆,然后一言不发地离开了。

那是比赛用的球。那是格雷厄姆的球。

马刺的元老赢得了它。

原文如下:

Spurs’ ‘O.G.’ Devonte’ Graham gets his shining moment

[Image] Spurs guard Devonte’ Graham, center, celebrates after hitting the game-winning basket in Friday night’s win over the Denver Nuggets at Frost Bank Center.

Devonte’ Graham grabbed a throw-ahead pass from Tre Jones and then turned on the jets.

The clock ticking down and the Spurs behind by a point, four quarters of back-and-forth against the defending NBA champions Friday came down to a game of one-on-one.

Graham against Denver’s Jamal Murray.

“I was just like, ‘Get to the basket,’ " Graham said.

Game, Graham. Game, Spurs.

Graham’s frenetic running 5-footer over Murray with 0.9 left lifted the Spurs to a surprising and stirring 121-120 victory at the Frost Bank Center.

It gave the Spurs perhaps their most thrilling moment of an otherwise frustrating season, one that kept the building buzzing — both in the bleachers and the home locker room — long after the final horn.

For Graham, it also wrapped a well-deserved bow around a season that has been personally vexing.

Little-used throughout his sixth NBA campaign until injuries began to mount in April, Graham was nevertheless ready for his time in the spotlight.

“He busted his ass all year long,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He was always ready. I’m sure he didn’t like (not playing), but he was always there for his team.”

Graham was there in the most obvious of ways Friday. He has been there in subtler ways throughout the season, which ends with a Sunday home game against Detroit.

The 29-year-old guard became the club’s oldest player in February when the Spurs dealt Doug McDermott to Indiana.

Teammates call Graham “O.G.,” “Old Head” or “Unc” — terms of endearment for an elder statesman who, though not quite 30, seems downright ancient on a roster barely old enough to legally drink.

Popovich, meanwhile, did not call Graham’s name at all for most of the season.

By the All-Star break, Graham had played in only 12 games. Until March, he could have dressed out in a tuxedo and Oxfords on most nights and nobody would have noticed.

Most of his action came after practices, playing in 3-on-3 games with the video staff and player development interns.

Somehow, Graham managed to keep showing up to work each morning with a smile on his face.

“It’s just how I was raised, how I’ve always approached being in the NBA,” Graham said. “You got to be professional at all points. You never know who’s watching.”

With the season winding down and injuries piling up among the Spurs’ regulars, Graham has been given more and more playing time and more and more leash.

He has logged at least 18 minutes in each of the past seven games. More than once, the 6-foot-1 spark plug has played a key role in winning and losing.

Graham tallied a season-high 20 points in the Spurs’ win at New Orleans on April 5. Friday, he sucker-punched the Nuggets with eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, including the game-winner.

Afterward, Popovich compared Graham to a pair of little-used reserves from the Spurs’ championship heyday, Steve Kerr and Danny Ferry.

“They didn’t play a whole lot but they were there when we needed them,” Popovich said. “(Graham) is of the same cloth, the same species.”

In stepping up and out of the shadows, Graham has reminded the NBA — and perhaps Popovich himself — of something that will be important as the journeyman guard navigates whatever comes next in his career.

“He’s shown that he’s still a player,” Popovich said.

Graham’s big basket Friday did not nudge the Spurs closer to playoff glory, the way Kerr and Ferry buckets of yesteryear did.

It did help the Spurs perhaps fight their way out of the Western Conference cellar.

Friday’s victory, coupled with Portland’s loss to Houston, moved the Spurs to 21-60 and tied with the Trail Blazers for last in the conference. Thanks to head-to-head tiebreaker, the Spurs are considered ahead of Portland in the standings.

The win also lobbed a hand grenade into Denver’s bid to earn the No. 1 seed in the West for the second year in a row.

The Nuggets awoke Friday needing only to beat the last-place Spurs and nearly-as-moribund Memphis Grizzlies to secure the top spot. Now they have ceded the driver’s seat to Oklahoma City.

With a victory Sunday against Detroit, the Spurs can equal last year’s victory total.

Back in October, with the Spurs high on the prospect of Victor Wembanyama’s arrival, 22 wins would have seemed like a failure.

Given where the Spurs stood less than two months ago — 11-48 after a disaster of a rodeo trip in February — 22 wins feels like a springboard to something better.

“A lot of teams that have been in this position, they just die out,” said Popovich, whose team has won six of its past 10 games. “These guys, you can tell they enjoy each other. They love each other.”

Likewise, Graham could have pouted on the end of the Spurs’ bench in a deluge of DNPs.

Amid his frustration, Graham said he received uplifting support from his mother, Dewanna King, and his grandmother, Doris King, who were among the sold-out crowd at the Frost Bank Center on Friday.

He also cited conversations with his uncle Darrell, leading to a wholesome moment in Friday’s postgame news conference.

“He been wanting me to shout him out,” Graham said. “I’m like, ‘Yo, I’m not playing, I don’t do any media. I can’t.’ So Darrell, this is your shout out right here, brother.”

Graham’s shining moment — and, by extension, uncle Darrell’s — was nearly a full season in the making.

Denver’s Nikola Jokic missed a 17-footer that would have put the Nuggets up by three with nine seconds left. Jones bird-dogged the loose rebound and fired the ball up the court to Graham, precipitating a mad dash for the make-or-break basket.

When Graham’s shot fell through and the final horn sounded Friday on one of the Spurs’ most inspiring victories of the season, players swarmed the man of the hour right there at midcourt.

The team was happy for the victory, and over the moon for Graham.

“He’s a pro who stuck with it and never complained,” forward Sandro Mamukelashvili said. “I would be happy for anybody, but I’m very happy for Devonte’. I feel like he deserves it.”

Later, as Graham was sitting at an interview podium recounting his clutch shot, the door to the room swung open and a 7-foot-3 frame ambled in.

Wembanyama casually tossed a basketball to Graham, then left without a word.

It was the game ball. It was Graham’s ball.

The Spurs’ O.G. had earned it.

By Jeff McDonald, Spurs Writer, via San Antonio Express-News