Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/10/13
Eyelids are made for blinking and perhaps putting shadow on. In the case of Renaldo Balkman they also are for tattooing. The Mavericks’ forward who is trying to cash in on his long-shot chance of making the final roster has the words “hustle” and “harder” inked onto right and left eyelid respectively. Those words embody his philosophy on basketball not to mention speaking highly of his ability to handle pain. Asked for his first thoughts on the dreadlocked multi-tattooed former first-round draft pick of the New York Knicks coach Rick Carlisle said: “My first thoughts? I like his hairdo. And I like his tattoos a lot. There’s a lot of storytelling going on there. “You know he’s got a high pain tolerance if he’s got tattoos on his eyelids. All that stuff impresses me before we even start talking about his game. That’s why I liked [DeShawn] Stevenson.” As Carlisle likes to say you can’t have a whole team full of milk-drinkers. You need a few guys who live just a little closer to the edge. And the edge is something Balkman knows about. He made headlines last season when he was playing in the Phillipines and lost his cool after getting a tough no-call from the referees. He pushed the ref bickered with coaches then choked a teammate who was trying to restrain Balkman. The YouTube video is the first thing that pops up online when searching for information on the 6-8 Balkman. It wasn’t his finest moment. But he’s trying to resurrect his career and the Mavericks aren’t even his first stop in that process. He played in Venezuela and Puerto Rico after getting banned from the league in the Phillipines for his outburst. “It was a long journey to now” Balkman said. “It’s a blessing I’m here. That [the choking incident] is in the past. I’m looking forward. It’s a step for me to be here now. Whatever happened happened. I’m moving on.” And moments like that can impact a player for a long time Balkman knows. “It was an incident” he said. “Everybody knew about it. But it didn’t stop me from what I knew what I was trying to do. I could have easily said it was going to hurt my whole career. But I turned a lot of things into positives. If I had to go to six or seven places to play basketball and show everybody I’m still in it that’s what I would have done. “I went to three places to play as much basketball as I could.” As for those eyelids Balkman has had the words on there since 2005. And yes there was some pain associated with the lid ink. “That was my thing coming into the league in 2006” he said. “I’m going to hustle harder. That was my goal. I shouldn’t have done it but I did it. But I was getting a lot of tattoos then. They all tell about my life.” On the floor Balkman has relied on his strengths to give himself a fighting chance to stick with the Mavericks or catch the eye of another team during the preseason. Against the Pelicans on Monday he provided a fourth-quarter spark with his defense and active style at both ends of the floor. “He’s a veteran player” Carlisle said. “He knows the NBA game. He quietly goes about his business but he makes solid plays. And he avoids the catastrophic mistakes that some younger guys tend to struggle with.”
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