Yes everybody, despite what you have heard his name is actually Andrea ‘Barg’nani, not ‘Bust’nani as he is so often referred too on Toronto Raptor message boards and around the NBA. This 23 year old sharp shooter who was drafted 1st overall in the shallow NBA draft of ’06 by many accounts has been more of a disappointment then the movie “Max Payne”. After a solid rookie campaign that saw him average a respectable 11.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game as well as finishing a close 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting to the very talented Brandon Roy, Bargnani took a step backwards averaging 1.6 points and .2 rebounds less his sophomore year. This had Raptor fans foaming at the mouth calling for him to be dealt for the flavor of the week and Raptors GM Brian Colangelo’s head for dessert.
A slow start to the ’09 campaign, a head coaching change and an injury to starting center Jermaine O’neal provided Bargnani with yet another chance to prove his doubters wrong and show what he had only revealed in flashes his rookie season. An opportunity the 7-footer would take full advantage of averaging 19.1 points and 6.4 rebounds in 29 games. More impressively is out of those 29 games just two have seen him fail to score in double digits, one could only question the vast improvement and overall maturity in both his game and his demeanor.
Now as his critics stand quiet, Raptor fans rapidly go back through their message board posts deleting any evidence of doubt along with the changing of signatures to “IL MAGO!!” (The Wizard) we are reminded that players are human too and sometimes all they need is a little time to grow up.