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Thursday, August 23, 2007
Thoughts on Michael Vick, Ruben Patterson, and Lawrence Pedowitz

Some thoughts on new developments concerning Michael Vick, Ruben Patterson, and the NBA's hiring of Lawrence Pedowitz:

Michael Vick

On ABC News, Russell Goldman examines Michael Vick's future in his extensive piece, "In The Dog House: Will Michael Vick Ever Play Again?" In addition to UMass sports management Professor Stephen Jefferson and public relations guru Alan Caruba, I was interviewed for Goldman's story (related aside: I was interviewed on MVN's Outsider Radio to discuss Vick, thanks to Brandon Rosage for having me on). I emphasized that Vick's best approach from this point on is to appear apologetic and contrite, rather than defensive and argumentative. Granted, for reasons that we've discussed on this blog, I believe that circumstances and persons around Vick have contributed to his bad decision-making, but I recognize that many people don't like dispersing blame like I do, and thus Vick needs to tailor his message to the audience. Here are some of my comments from the story:

Mississippi's McCann agreed that it was best to be contrite rather than try to offer justifications.

"Strategically it's best to be apologetic. Most people will not find the circumstantial reasons compelling. It's a hard argument to make to engender empathy and has the risk of backfiring."

After Vick gets out of prison, he will likely be 28- or 29-years-old, and will then face a lengthy suspension from the NFL. What should he do while suspended by the NFL? Unfortunately for Vick, playing in the Canadian Football League won't be an option. Rick Matsumoto of the Toronto Star reports on what might be called the Ricky Williams Rule: "Criticism over last year's signing by the Argonauts of running back Ricky Williams, who was under suspension by the NFL for drug use, led the league's board of governors to pass a bylaw that prohibits an NFL player who is currently under contract or is serving a suspension from signing a CFL contract."

Ruben Patterson

There is no question that 32-year-old Ruben Patterson is a good, maybe very good, NBA player. Last season, he averaged 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists in 31 minutes a game for the Milwaukee Bucks. Even better, he shot 55% from the field, which is outstanding for a 6-5 guard/forward, particularly one who is also known for his excellent defense on some of the NBA's top scorers. And he's now a free agent. You might think there would be serious interest in the swing man, but his phone hasn't been ringing off the hook.

Why not?

It's not entirely clear. One reason may be that he recently turned 32, but he's still likely young enough to have at least a couple of more good seasons--and it's not like there are many guys, of any age, in the NBA who can neutralize the other team's starting 2 guard and also shoot 55% from the field.

A more explanatory reason may be that Patterson is a registered sex offender, and he must register himself as a sex offender in any state he lives, in accordance with his guilty plea stemming from an attempted rape of his child's then 24-year-old nanny in 2000. Patterson avoided prison time through the plea. Since then, as noted above, he has had a solid NBA career, with last season being his best yet. But I could see some teams weary of signing a player with that background and condition. Patterson, however, would like to play for the potentially championship-bound Boston Celtics, and Celtics fans are now debating the wisdom of signing him (check out heated debates on Celtics Blog and Real GM).

It's interesting to consider Patterson in the context of Michael Vick, as some fans seem willing to forgive a player's mistakes, while others believe that certain crimes are so egregious that no amount of time should lessen them. That legal debate is certainly not confined to sports, but it's interesting when it comes up in this setting, and will likely come up again when Vick returns to football.

8/24/07 Update on Patterson: Check out these comments by Jeff Clark on Celtics Blog. Jeff examines the different free agent and trade options for the Celtics in light of 42-year-old Reggie Miller saying "no thanks" to a comeback. Also check these comments by Darren Heitner on I Want to Be a Sports Agent. Darren examines Patterson's situation in the broader context of character in sports.

NBA Hires Lawrence Pedowitz

Henry Abbott on True Hoop explores the merits and drawbacks of the NBA hiring someone to conduct an internal review relating to gambling and NBA officials. The NBA has retained Lawrence B. Pedowitz, a former Chief of the Criminal Division in the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and current partner at law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, to review of league rules, policies, and procedures relating to gambling and its officiating program. I agree with Henry that Pedowitz is well-regarded and highly-qualified to conduct a review, and also agree that Pedowitz working directly for the NBA might influence or perhaps limit how he conducts the investigation.


Almost coincidentaly falling out at the same time as Vick's suspension ends, Mark Cuban's new league is set to open, he would be an amazing publicity stunt for a new league, and give it some cred.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 8/22/2007 10:23 PM  

Thanks for the comment. Very interesting point, and I agree that Michael Vick joining Mark Cuban's new league (the United Football League) would supply the UFL with a great deal of publicity and also--if Vick is still in shape at that time--a guy who could help bridge the inevitable talent gap between the NFL and the UFL.

Blogger Michael McCann -- 8/22/2007 10:49 PM  

Boston should probably give Patterson a shot. He offers solid defense along with good shooting. Something to be valued in the NBA for sure. With the Celtics' recent acquisitions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, expectations will be high in Boston this year. Considering the weaker aspects of the Eastern Conference, taking a gamble on Patterson, despite his one off-court incident, may very well prove to be a good move for the Celtics who need to deliver a very good season to their fans.

Blogger John Biggs -- 8/22/2007 10:53 PM  


Thanks for your comment (and also for your comment responding to the earlier post). I agree that Patterson would, at least on the court, make a great addition to the Celtics, who are in desperate need of bench help, particularly given Tony Allen's injury. Patterson could really be a dynamic 6th man behind Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and also a defensive stopper in the 4th quarter.

It would be interesting if the Celtics' choice comes down to 42-year-old Reggie Miller versus 32-year-old Ruben Patterson. I suspect they would go with Miller, but one could make a good case that Patterson is the better player at this point in their careers (especially since Miller's been retired since 2005).

Blogger Michael McCann -- 8/22/2007 11:36 PM  

Im not sure why Milwaukee let Ruben go. I think he has a great talent that VERY few NBA players have, he can shoot great percentages and has top notch defense. Being a big Bucks fan, I wish Milwaukee would resign him. Well where do you think he will end up playing if he gets a chance?

Anonymous Joshua Dennis -- 8/24/2007 2:07 AM  


Thanks for the comment and thoughts on Patterson. I agree, he's a very efficient and useful player; in the absence of being a registered sex offender, he would probably get a lot of attention as a free agent.

But the phrase "registered sex offender" is really terrible; it's hard to overlook it, even if the crime happened seven years ago, and even if he is a different and better person at age 32 than he was at 25 (and certainly, people often mature considerably between those years).

My hunch is that he signs with Boston, especially now that Reggie Miller is not coming out of retirement. But maybe the Celtics opt instead to bolster their point guard situation (as Jeff Clark writes today on Celtics Blog, Sarunas Jaskevicious may be a target). I could also see a lot of folks in Boston disliking the idea of a registered sex offender playing there, and perhaps Celtics ownership feels the same.

It will be interesting to see.

Blogger Michael McCann -- 8/24/2007 10:22 AM  

I realize I'm a little late to the game on this one, a dodgy computer leaves me two days late on most of my bookmarks, but I have to add something on Patterson:

he's not that good at defense anymore.

About a month into the 2005-06 season, you could tell that this guy's footwork had become lazy, and his combination of instincts, quickness, and strength wasn't enough to make up for the poor footwork. Since then, age has caught up a bit, he's used more of his energy on offense, and he doesn't deserve anywhere near the reputation he gets defensively. An SI scribe had him as a top-five defender in a website piece last year, and I was incredulous. There was a reason Milwaukee was last in the league in defense last year, and it wasn't just Michaek Redd.

That said, I'm surprised he hasn't found a job. And THAT said, I'm not surprised he hasn't deigned to take the veteran minimum. He thinks he's worth more, and he probably isn't at this point.

Blogger kellydwyer -- 8/24/2007 4:06 PM  

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Blogger Henry Hyde -- 4/28/2010 9:20 PM  

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