Anthony Edwards is a mercurial talent out of Georgia. He can score points in bunches and has in-the-gym range. The 6-foot-5 shooter could become the league's next James Harden or its next Charlie Day, such is his uncertainty. In an ESPN.com feature published earlier this week, Alex Scarborough lays out the risk and reward that rides on Edwards' back as NBA teams try to assess how much of their future they should place in his hands.
That Edwards isn't necessarily eating and sleeping basketball isn't subtext. It's the actual text. And just like anything that picks away at the persistent scab of trivial obsessiveness, it's causing simpletons and those with a fetish for the unimaginative status quo to take pause, then concern-troll.
"To be honest," he says, "I can't watch basketball." He retells the story about the first time he dunked and how it signaled to him that he was talented and could accomplish something he might not have been able to in football, which was his first love. So that's the direction he went, simple as that, hanging up his cleats. "That's all I needed to see," he says. So when after that did he get into basketball? "I'm still not really into it," he says. "I love basketball, yeah. It's what I do." He's not entirely convincing. He says if he were drafted by the NFL tomorrow, he'd let basketball go. "Because you can do anything on the field," he explains. "You can spike the ball. You can dance. You can do all type of disrespectful stuff." In the NBA, he says, "you can't do any of that. You'll get fined."
Now, clearly, Edwards is a young man with a lot of thoughts and he's not afraid to share them. Which is great in almost every single pursuit except playing sports where fans and employers would prefer you be a singularly focused robot who bounces a ball or catches a pass.
I'm not even talking about controversial stuff or more universally recognized social justice campaigning. I'm talking about the fierce blowback players are still greeted with in 2020 by deigning to say what's on their mind and suggest their sport is not the end-all be-all.
Obviously, a team wants to know that their guy is invested when giving him hundreds of millions of dollars. But they are also largely smart enough to understand that interest is best gauged internally, not publicly. It's a lot tougher to obscure a lack of passion from teammates day in and day out than it is the public. Conversely, a few stray and entirely understandable quips about outside passions aren't as important as the hard work of playing.
All of this to say, it's not surprising that fans and insiders are drumming up concern over this passage. It's just a bit amazing that in this stretch Edwards actually says 'I love basketball. ' That has to mean something when trying to determine from afar if the guy likes basketball.
Hey, who knows though, right? We could all look back on this piece as the definitive red flag after an Edwards flame out or a false one if he dominates. My two cents is it's just an honest guy talking who just so happens to have an incredible gift.