Sorry guys. You could have been buddies! Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Farewell Baby Eater: A Jason Maxiell Tribute

There’s something that needs to be said about Jason Maxiell. I’m not sure what it is. My feelings as a spectator are mixed. There was nothing intrinsically beautiful or profound about the way Jason played basketball. His stumpy frame was always easy to pick out among the crowd, his limitations on both offense and defense supremely noticeable at time. As he departs for the tanking/rebuilding Orlando Magic, Jason, now 30 years old, will be asked to give Florida’s other team what he gave the Pistons pretty much every night: everything he had.

Jason Maxiell: Baby Eater. Sometimes you couldn’t believe those blocks. Jason was the kind of player I loved best, though I I didn’t always love him. It’s easy to be blown away by the prowess of these demigods, but Jason could almost be one of us. He was not NBA royalty, not even NBA landed gentry. He was just kind of a doughy guy who every now and then produced bonebreaking blocks and dunks that made you believe in things again. As I said, Jason was not exactly one of the premiere players of the game, but he often stopped them, often went toe to toe with the alpha dogs. People feared Jason Maxiell, and players like him. They feared embarrassment. They feared the highlight reels, feared the slow motion replays of his cleaner than clean blocks and their midair tumbles to the hardwood as the feisty 6’7 power forward (or center!) stood over them, implacable and deadly and kind of chubby, but in an endearing way.

It was probably a good time to sever ties with Jason Maxiell. The Pistons were acutely aware of the subtle declines in his game, how he was less Baby Eater-ish than previous years. He was tired. He was a throwback. And though the throwbacks are running the asylum, Maxiell isn’t a novelty, he’s an NBA player, and he deserves to get paid for eight years  of going to work for the Going to Work and then the We Are Screwed Pistons. Lindsay Hunter and Theo Ratliff and Walter Hermann are gone. Antonio McDyess and Carlos Delifno and Darko and Big Ben are gone. The bickering and mutinies seem to be over. Maxiell put in his time with an entire epoch of the team. You can’t ask him to stay for another and not pay up.

Life On Dumars wishes him all the success in Orlando. He earned it in Detroit.

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