WASHINGTON – Kim English, on his way from getting up a few early shots or doing whatever players do 90 before games, jogged down a Verizon Center hallway back to the Pistons locker room Saturday. As English turned one entranceway too soon, a Wizards event staff member alerted him to the error – then said he’d send English back the wrong way once the game began, his way of giving the hometown team an edge.
“I don’t play,” English yelled back, his tone more humorous than resentful.
The event staff member reminded English that plenty of benchwarmers get their chance against the Wizards – who’d lost six straight, including the Pistons’ 100-68 win Friday.
“You’re right,” English said. “I played last night.”
“Looking at Kim, especially coming back home, opportunity mainly to play in front of family and friends,” Frank said.
Of course, English didn’t play Saturday. He doesn’t play most games.
As an NBA player, English is pretty unremarkable. He was a second-round pick, and most second-round picks don’t last. On the court, aside from his 47 percent 3-point shooting in an extremely small sample, there’s little evidence he’ll stick in the league. Even as an ordinary prospect, he’s unremarkable. There are 70 others who’ve been good enough to play an NBA minute this season but have played less than English.
What makes English stand out, though, is his likability.
He grew up in Baltimore with a girl’s name and a stutter, but that just hardened him. As did his summers at his father’s construction company. From the time he was about 12 until he went to college, he poured concrete for English Concrete Contractors.
“It was labor. Definitely hard work,” English said. “It gives you an appreciation that there’s people out there that do that for a living. It takes this and puts it perspective.”
Unfortunately, English might need that perspective. Next to Austin Daye, no Piston has a more tenuous spot in the NBA than English, whose contract is fully unguaranteed for next season
It would be easy to end this post by saying English will make it as an NBA player, adding some cliché that English’s resolve is as solid as the concrete he poured.
But, in the NBA, it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes, likeable players don’t make it. Sometimes, small disappointments like not playing in front of hometown fans develop into big disappointments like losing a roster spot.
There’s no grand narrative here – just a player I’m still hoping will, and very well could, succeed, but might not.