AJ Price’s emergence as a high-level player for the Pacers has been as surprising as it has been pleasant. The unheralded second-round pick out of UConn has famously faced many struggles just to get to the NBA, so to see him now play so well is uplifting — and mighty helpful.
AJ, a highly sought-after high school senior, missed his entire freshman year with a near-fatal brain hemorrhage that was later diagnosed as arising from the congenital defect of the circulatory system that he was born with known as “arteriovenous malformations” (AVM). After an arduous and scary road to recovery, AJ entered his sophomore year hoping to get back on the court, but he and Husky teammate Marcus Williams derailed any hopes of playing when they were arrested for foolishly stealing laptops on the Storrs, Connecticut, campus, which garnered him a long suspension. Then, following a return to the team that featured an uncharacteristically long stretch of good fortune and not-so-uncharacteristically good play, he suffered another catastrophic playing setback when he blew out his ACL.
He seemed to be another kid with talent whose skills would never equate to a career. But Larry Bird took a second-round gamble on the kid, probably as much because the Pacers needed another point guard in case the oft-injured Travis Diener was unable to suit up when the season started as anything else.
For Pacers fans, however, AJ’s inspired play since TJ Ford was demoted out of the rotation has been one of the few bright spots during a dreadful season. Now, Pacers fans are definitely cheering for AJ. Larry Bird is definitely cheering for AJ.
And, now, we know that Wizards journeyman point guard Mike James is also cheering for him.
James said this has been the toughest situation of his career. He came into training camp in shape and says he’s done everything that’s been asked of him, but now feels jilted because he’s appeared in only one game the entire season. It is, however, worth noting that he broke his finger after his one appearance on November 6th and spent several weeks off the court.
As James continues to sit on the inactive list, the nine season NBA veteran said he feels he’s being made a mockery of, and considering the circumstances, he believes he’s the worst person on the Washington Wizards, a 14-27 team.
James said the lone bright spot for him this season was when he played against the Pacers. Not because he actually got to play in an NBA game, but because he got to be on the court with A.J. Price, his basketball protégé with whom he often speaks. James and Price share a hometown in Amityville, NY, and James hopes that someone was able to capture a picture of the two on the floor together back on that early November night.
Here’s to hoping AJ continues to do one of his mentors proud.
If I had less respect for you readers, I would have titled this post “The Price Is Right.” Instead, I’ll just post an unrelated How I Met Your Mother clip from the show The Price Is Right that only like 8% of you will find funny. Much like mockingly using ironical words like “steez,” that’s more my steez.