Originally written on Celtics Green ...a boston celtics blog.  |  Last updated 9/10/14
The stories are legendary of players with such an inner drive that they elevated themselves from good to great.  Bird and Russell, Jordan, Bryant, Olajuwon, Garnett—all these players improved by leaps and bounds after entering the pros, and were known for their dedication to offseason training.  All had physical gifts, but so do hundreds of others that were (or should have been out of the league in three years).  For every maniacal gym-rat honing his skills, building his stamina, and developing new weapons, there are dozens or hundreds who squandered their gifts and faded into oblivion.  Some are derailed by injury but more often than not their demise can be laid directly at the hands of their lack of a burn for greatness (that and a low BBIQ, or perhaps just a low IQ period).  We fans of the Green have seen far too many examples in recent years—Jerome Moiso, Patrick O’Bryant, Pervis Ellison, Gerald Green, Mark Blount, Acie Earl, Dwayne Schintzius all failed to fulfill that albatross tag of potential.   Which brings me to our current roster, I offer two names whose careers we should fear are threatened to be stillborn by the smolder to be mediocre—Fab Melo and Vitor Faverani.  The only two legitimate centers on the Celtics’ roster may not amount to a hill of beans (shouldn’t that be will amount to a hill of beans?)  I think that it is no accident that so many in the failed-potential list are big men.  There is perhaps no other group of youth so misguidedly thrust into a sport simply because of one physical attribute.  Show me a little guy competing on a basketball court and I’ll show you a determined individual battling uphill odds to overcome natural disadvantages.  Big guys, not so much. But back to the Celtics’ duo.  Faverani is essentially an unknown at this point.  Many (myself included) in the blogosphere have pored over YouTube highlight clips and emitted an optimistic “Hmmmmm?”  Far fewer, I suspect, have ferreted out the articles delving into his sporadic production, conflict with coaches, and relegation to bit player on Euro teams in dire need of help.  An air of indifference on the bench or in the game does not auger well for the dedication to toil away out of the bright lights.  Missing practices, tardiness to games, disinterested and lethargic while in games, inconsistent, a question mark on defense and rebounding, a backup center garnering only 17 mpg on a Spanish team—these are not descriptions that scream NBA contributor.  A mobile, agile big man with skills went undrafted when he became eligible—the reason, his intangibles made him a poor risk.  Now many of these damning reports date back to his teens and most recent reviews suggest he has matured (every one that made no questionable decisions in their teen years is free to throw stones); still there is a reason that only the first two years of his contract are guaranteed.  Has that increased maturity brought with it the burn to excel?  We can only hope so. Even more than the frequent lunacy on the sports blogs, I have a hard time understanding the hue and cry from many Celtics fans that Melo be dumped, tarred and feathered, or just run out of town on a rail.  Most thoughtful observers saw his drafting as a three-year project and a somewhat measured gamble.  Jared Sullinger for immediate help and Fab for the far (in basketball terms) future.  In Melo we have indeed seen noticeable improvement—a hook shot, better (not good but better) footwork, and a better understanding of defensive rotations.  Is he still awkward, sure.  Is he soft rather than imposing at the offensive rim, too often, but improving.  Does he lope down court rather than drive to his position, yeah, most of the time.  Does he still look soft and lacking muscle definition, yep.   The problem is that far too often it seems that many of Fab’s issues would have been addressed by this time.  It sure doesn’t look like he’s spending a lot of off-court time hitting the weights and building stamina.  He doesn’t seem to have found an inner-mean that would make him a terror around the rim rather than a pussycat.  I was fully prepared for it to take three, or even four, years to polish this gem in the rough.  What I can’t get behind is a cowardly lion not even looking for courage.  Slow progress in basketball skills—no problem; lack of heart and a smolder to be mediocre—absolutely intolerable.  I just can’t get the image the stationary bike buried under a litter of pizza boxes mounded in  his apartment It is hard to express just how much I want to be wrong about my fears for Fab and Fav.  Let’s all hope that the next few years we are referring to the Rio Rogues rather than the Brazilian Busts.[Discuss on CG Forums!]
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