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Stepping Back on Spencer Hawes

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When the Hawespocalypse hit last week -- when Geoff Petrie and Paul Westphal expressed disappointment that Spencer Hawes pulled out of Summer League at the last minute without even telling them personally -- the sound and the fury were quick and violent. Honestly, I think few of my opinions have ever resulted in so much disagreement, even if the subject isn't quite as important as some we'll broach in November-February-June. That doesn't matter entirely, but what does matter is that I remain fair in my assessment of situations and personalities.

I crossed the line by stating Spencer Hawes doesn't love the game -- I, honestly, have no way of knowing that. My mind is a bit foggy on this particular subject for two central reasons. Last month, I read Playing for Keeps, David Halberstam's incredible Jordan bio. (Highly recommended.) In it, Halberstam goes into deep detail about how much harder Jordan and Pippen work compared to everyone else. The way it's written, those who aren't working like Jordan and Pippen -- and there are plenty -- come off as enjoying basketball as a job and not as their existence. And lo! Jordan and Pippen end up as two of the greatest players in the game.

The second reason I jumped straight to the accusatory tone with Spencer has to do with a player closer to home.

We've seen Kevin Martin go from anonymous stringbean to sneaky scorer to three-time 20-ppg scorer. Every November, he has a new trick, a new piece of himself that we have never seen before. I hate to harp on this, but no Sacramento King works as hard as Kevin Martin works in the offseason. And it's paid off gloriously.

During the Finals, we heard about Kobe -- reigning MVP Kobe Bryant -- waking up at 6 AM last summer to work out. Every day. Kevin heard that, too. And Kevin's at the gym at 6 AM this summer. Every day. Like clockwork. If team management asked Kevin to play a couple games in Vegas to start to build a relationship with Tyreke and Omri, is there any question in your mind Kevin would be there two days early with bells on? And this is a three-time 20-ppg scorer. A near All-Star. The highest paid King.

But just because someone's work ethic isn't as obvious as that of Kevin doesn't mean that person has no work ethic. Spencer came to camp in great shape last year, and he had a strong season. He works, and I've since heard about the workouts he's doing daily up in Washington. He works, and he wants to get better, and he loves the game, people around him tell me. And I have to believe them. I have no reason not to, besides this foray into bad decisions (at worst) or bad communication. I stepped over a line by questioning Spencer's heart because of this incident, because I've never seen Spencer's heart, I don't know what exactly it is he has been doing, and I'm not in a position to make definite, defiant statements about such.

I'm still disappointed, because this would have been a great opportunity to begin building for the future, and because it is really not hard to pick up a phone and dial your boss. I expect Spencer will make it up to the fans by showing up to camp in the best shape of his life, and by having a great season as a full-time NBA starting center.