When I spoke with him after Thursday’s summer league game, Chris Douglas-Roberts made it very clear why he had some struggles by the time the end of the season rolled around last year.
“I’m extremely competitive. Extremely,” the man known as CD-R said.
And I’ve seen that side of him before. Within seconds of hearing about the Douglas-Roberts to Milwaukee rumors, I thought of the Nets trip to Milwaukee last November 18th.
Things weren’t pretty. The Nets were in the process of blowing yet another lead and Douglas-Roberts was none too pleased about it. He was openly shouting at teammates and his coaches, but in a way that struck me as different. This wasn’t someone simply being a jerk and blaming his teammates. No, he seemed to just so badly want to avoid another loss that he had a hard time keeping it together when the game was slipping away. I caught up with CD-R after last night’s summer league game.
“Yeah, I remember that game. We hadn’t won a game. And we were up, up like 12,” said Douglas-Roberts. “It was the beginning of the second half and we were letting a lead slip. (Assistant coach) Doug Overton was saying, just play, don’t worry about the calls, just play. But I just didn’t want to lose that game. Especially when we were up 12.”
I wish I could put as much emphasis in print on the sentence “but I just didn’t want to lose that game” as Douglas-Roberts did when he said it. The monkey on the back of New Jersey had turned gorilla (the team was 0-11 coming into the game) and with the injuries they were facing, it was CD-R that was feeling a lot of the pressure. Despite his best efforts, they did lose the lead and eventually the game. CD-R finished with 31 points and was as interested in the game as any Net.
Actually, he was interested in more than the game.
Appearing none too shy when it comes to letting opponents know how he felt, Douglas-Roberts had a few words for Brandon Jennings throughout the game. It culminated in a back and forth trash talk session between the two of them when Jennings was icing the game at the line in the fourth quarter.
“Me and BJ did get into a lil’ bit, but it’s all love now,” CD-R said. “And I want people to know that too. It’s all love. We were competing, it was trash talking at the end of the game. He does that and I do it too. It was nothing more than competing, two guys competing.”
Brandon Jennings penchant for trash talk invigorated Bucks fans last year, but alienated plenty others. Milwaukee was thrilled to have another floor leader willing to stand up to opponents and let them know why his team was here to stay. Not since Sam Cassell was quarterbacking the Bucks had the franchise had such strut at the point. And now with the addition of Douglas-Roberts, it appears another strutter is in town.
“Me and Brandon are going to have those moments (trash talking), we’re similar personalities,” he said. “I feel like it’ll be a big spark for a conservative city like Milwaukee.”
They certainly could be, but only if they win and keep their teammates on their side. Jennings was a huge success in both those facets last season. Douglas-Roberts is already on the right track when it comes to winning over teammates and the fans. Few players have ever been so excited to leave a big market like New York for the dimmed spotlight that awaits them in Milwaukee. But CDR nearly made Twitter explode with his serious of *CAPS LOCK ON* Tweets about Fearing The Deer and getting ready to work.
“It was a combination of relief and opportunity. It’s a feeling you have when you’re feeling wanted,” he said. “They were interested from day one, as soon as the season was over. Coming from such a struggling situation, it’s a relief, it’s a monkey off my back. To be playing on a playoff team with great fans, it’s great.”
The close knit group that is quickly developing in Milwaukee doesn’t hurt either.
“It does (feel like a tight group). And I haven’t met really anybody other than the guys here, but it just feels like a real team,” he said. “Without even having to play a single game, it just feels like a real team. I’m sure we’re going to embrace each other and the fans are going to embrace us.”
This Bucks revolution continues. Something tells me when players were added in 2005 and 2006 we wouldn’t have been hearing about how those groups “felt like real teams” and we certainly wouldn’t have had players showing up to support summer league teammates. But here we are. Jennings and Douglas-Roberts are in Vegas watching a team that has only two or three potential regular season teammates on it.
Milwaukee has always wanted a group as committed to each other and to winning as the fans were to them. The city, and its fans, may finally have what they’ve been searching for.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.