Let me say it flat out. With the events of this week, Jimmy Rollins has become the Phillies version of Allen Iverson. J-Pop may not have the label of a franchise player, but he is clearly expected to be a leader on his team. It is insightful therefore to re-look at the infamous Allen Iverson “We’re Talkin’ About Practice” rant.
Iverson’s main defense about not taking practice seriously is that he gives his heart and soul on the court each game. Therefore it’s foolish to talk about how seriously he does or doesn’t take practice. He ends the rant by noting that he doesn’t see how he can make his teammates any better by practicing.
That is precisely the point. That is why the Sixers never won a Championship with Iverson, and in fact only had one run to the finals. Iverson was the consummate selfish player, who eschewed the opportunity to make those around him better, an attribute associated with Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and players of that ilk in his day. Sure the Phililes won it all in 2008. But Rollins’ production seriously tailed off since then, with last year being a particularly down year for him You would think therefore that he would help set the tone this year by working on every aspect of his game, particularly finding ways to get on base and showing energy and leadership.
When J-Pop was quoted in the Phila’elphia Daily News as saying “So what? It’s only spring training” – that was the exact equivalent of “We’re talkin’ about practice”. So here was today’s Phillies lineup against the New York Yankees at Bright House Field in Clearwater, and sure enough you won’t find Jimmy Rollins’ name there for the third consecutive day.
Here is an interview with Rollins about his benching. I love the line of questioning from Jim Salisbury. He says to Jimmy: “You’re a smart guy. What do you make of this?” Listen closely to the answer – and take in the total picture of what matters.