Chris Ballard of SI.com has a feature on Golden State Warriors center Andris Biedrins today in which he takes a look at the once-promising center's decline over the last few years.
There are a number of interesting tidbits in the article, including a rundown of everything people have tried to do to help him escape his struggles, his relationship with former Warriors coach Don Nelson, workouts out with Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson in Santa Barbara, coach Mark Jackson's take on his struggles and the piece opens with a vignette about Biedrins' lone made free throw last season.
Jefferson's comments are interesting about Biedrins needing to translate what he does in workouts into game performance, but Jackson's comments are probably more significant from the standpoint of him being the man currently coaching Biedrins.
"That's on him," Jackson said when I asked how the coach could help Biedrins regain his confidence. "At the end of the day, you got to find a way to get it done."
This is a mantra of sports: Protect your ego at all costs...When I asked Jackson if he ever lost his confidence as a player, either during his years at St. John's or his 17 seasons in the NBA, he cut me off mid-question. "No. Never," he said loudly, chin raised and back straight, eyes fixed somewhere beyond me. "I'm from New York City. I understand it but at the end of the day, I'm a God-fearing man. As the Bible says, 'Cast not away your confidence.' "
Jackson's first quote there from Ballard's interview essentially echoes - or maybe just reinforces - what Jackson said during Wednesday's post-practice interview when asked about Biedrins missing practice due to right groin tenderness.
"He's getting treatment and we'll see how that plays out," said Jackson. "But we don't have time to stop for anybody - we're going to keep it moving."
You may recall that entering training camp last year Jackson said he was, "...excited about the opportunity to coach" Biedrins. Yet thus far this season, his words could be characterized as dismissive, at best, and Ballard described him as "upset" about Biedrins missing voluntary workouts in September.
Ballard and/or Jefferson are probably right that a lot of what's plaguing Biedrins is mental - as the seven-foot center says it in the article, "my goal is to feel good about myself". But if there's a growing disconnect between player and coach - and Jackson just keeps it moving with rookie Festus Ezeli as his backup, bumping Biedrins to third (or fourth?) on the depth chart at center - it seems unlikely that this will be an environment conducive to him reclaiming his confidence.