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Olynyk odyssey just beginning

Sun., June 30, 2013

Friday: A couple of years ago, when you saw Kelly Olynyk (if you saw him at all), he was the tall, skinny guy at the end of the Gonzaga bench, jumping up and celebrating whenever a Zag made a big play. Now he’s a Boston Celtic. A soon-to-be-very-rich Boston Celtic. What a journey.

Before last night’s draft, I figured Olynyk would be taken pretty high. In fact, after reading a bunch of pre-draft projections, the ones having him headed to Dallas to serve as Dirk Nowitzki’s backup made the most sense. After all, they had similar skills and Nowitzki is getting up in age (he just turned 35). Having Olynyk on the bench to spell the veteran seemed like a smart plan.

So when the Mavericks drafted Olynyk with the 13th pick, I raised my arms in triumph, pretty pleased with my prognostication skills.

Of course, a few minutes later, there was a “T” by Dallas’ pick. Olynyk had been traded to the Celtics.

And not to the Boston Celtics we’ve known the past few years. Not with Doc Rivers in Los Angeles, soon to be the latest coach to lose his reputation with the snakebit Clippers. And not with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, the heart and soul of the team on the way to Brooklyn in another draft-night trade.

Nope, Kelly Olynyk is a member of the “rebuilding” Boston Celtics, the franchise of Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek and Larry Bird. The franchise that’s won more NBA titles than any other, but looks to now be fighting for a spot in the playoffs. Oh well.

The Maverick situation seemed perfect for Olynyk. But now he’s thrown into a franchise in some disarray, where he might be looked upon by some of the fan base as a savior, the guy future success will be built around. That’s a heavy load for anyone. And maybe even more so for Olynyk.

He isn’t your typical college star. His skills, while formidable and varied, are unusual for a man his size. He doesn’t fit the niche usually designed for a 7-footer. So how he’s used, how he’s nurtured, how he’s developed, may have more to do with his NBA success than for the usual mid-first-round draft pick.

With Boston beginning a new era, will the organization have the patience to develop his skills or will it have to force the issue? How that question is answered may just determine Olynyk’s future.

Wednesday: Today was supposed to be simple. I would wait until the NCAA released its sanctions on Oregon and then rail about how unfairly the Ducks were treated. Simple. But the NCAA didn’t cooperate.

One thing became crystal clear this morning. The NCAA had it out for USC. At least it seems that way now that the NCAA has  released its decision on the Oregon Ducks.

Though the organization found there was a failure to monitor the football program, all the NCAA did was slap the Ducks’ wings.  No bowl ban. The loss of a  scholarship for each of  two years. Three years on probation.

The Ducks will shake these penalties off like Marcus Mariota shakes off a cornerback en route to a 93-yard touchdown run.

Monday: The Coeur d’Alene Ironman was held yesterday. There have been years when both Ironman and Hoopfest are on the same weekend, which isn’t the best planning if you want better media coverage in the market. But this year they are on back-to-back weekends.

That made me wonder. How many people do both?

If you know of anyone, let me know. It interests me. Just knowing there is someone out there who could conquer an hour-long swim one weekend and a guy who wraps both arms around but swears it wasn’t a foul the next, it makes my heart soar.

That’s the type of athlete we need to have on posters.

And in beer commercials.


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