Friday, November 13, 2009

Jose Calderon Is Mad

Jose Calderon is pissed off. He's pissed off that he hasn't started the season with a bang since he got banged last year, he's pissed off his shot hasn't been falling, and he's really pissed off that it's only increased the doubters to the point of suggesting that Jarrett Jack should replace him as starter. That changed in New Orleans, when he stood over Chris Paul and stared him down and said who knows what; whatever it was, it wasn't pretty unlike his razor-sharp sideburns.

Since then, while it would be too much to say he's been on a tear, he has regained his shot back, and has started to somewhat consistently attack the rim - with success. Let's not kid our selves, he's been getting rocked defending opposing point guards on the point of attack, but what made it really bad was that he wasn't putting up much on the offensive end either.

And there's no better player than to turn it around against than Chris Paul, pound for pound, the NBA's best point guard. While the Hornets are sucking hard, Chris Paul himself isn't. He was scoring pretty much at will, as he would against anybody because, well, he's Chris Paul, but Calderon ended with 16 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, and no turnovers, which is one of Calderon's strengths as he is low-risk, conservative guard. I noticed a little jolt in his step when he hit that deep three, and it became abundantly clear to me when he was jawing with Chris Paul after he caused the turnover...Jose Calderon is pissed. And its great to see.

He may be the nicest guy in the NBA off the floor, but on the court he's a competitor. I honestly think outside of Chris Bosh, he's the toughest player the Raptors have had in the past couple of seasons (until Reggie Evans arrived this year). Now, by tough I don't mean physically, that he doesn't get injured, or some kind of an iron-man type, but tough, as in, he stands up for himself when need be. Think about this for a second: the last two guys he confronted were Kevin Garnett and Chris Paul. That's the NBA's biggest dick/intimidator, and the NBA's best point guard right there.

With Kevin Garnett, Calderon came back with some getting-in-your-face of his own, even with a timeout being called when Chris Bosh, the franchise player and leader couldn't even stand up for his teammate. Bosh, as anytime he faces KG, plays like shit and lets KG's scare tactics get to him. So with Bosh not doing anything, the referees not calling any of the over-the-top antics KG was pulling like crawling on the ground like a dog barking at Jose, Jose stood up for himself, and with some anger too. Enough is enough.

With Chris Paul, while CP3 wasn't overtly taunting JC in any way, you could feel the tone of superiority he was painting all over Jose. Calderon going into that game knew full well what the critics were saying about his inability to perform as of late, and took it to Chris Paul in his own right, but to me, that little confrontation after both of them fell was the ultimate statement. Chris Paul looked at him and then to the referee like "this piece of shit can't get that call against me, you crazy ref?" and Calderon's reaction was something like "That's right, get your ass up and gimme the ball. You're not above me" Even though CP3 IS the best point guard, Calderon was demanding respect.

And looking at last night's game vs the Bulls, he was LOOKING for his shot in that fourth quarter and took those jumpers off the Bosh screen right above the key and nailed'em with confidence. That's the Jose I know, and it's great to see. But what I didn't realize until now is that no matter how much he may struggle in guarding the dribble penetration, he won't accept anything less than respect from opposing players, from KG to CP3.

Calderon is averaging 12.4 points and 6.4 assists going into L.A to face the Clippers tonight, and I expect his assists to go up as the season progresses.

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