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Monday, January 28, 2008

Anderson Varejao's half-court obsession

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2008 at 2:54 PM

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Could the king of flop be turning a little weird?
After missing the first several weeks of the season with an injured sense of self-worth, Cavs forward Anderson Varejao is back – and he’s making an impact on more than just wig sales. Following a lengthy contract stand-off, the floppy-haired flopper is averaging career highs in points (8.2), minutes (29), rebounds (8.9), and assists (1.2), proving once and for all that boorish agents and a total lack of team spirit are really good for your game. “I worked on my shot, I worked on my jump-hook,” Varejao says of his time off, which he spent training in Brazil. “I’ve got a lot of confidence.” But along with a reliable 15-footer and the healthiest tan in Cleveland, Varejao also returned from Brazil with a new and unhealthy obsession. After both practices last week, while his teammates retreated to the locker room, Varejao found an empty basket and started launching shots – from half court. On Tuesday, it seemed like an amusing little game; he heaved a few, knocked one in, and quit. But on Thursday, it looked different. Diagnosable, you might say… As he missed the first dozen or so, Varejao looked calm, even bemused by his early misfortune. But as the bricks ratcheted into the double digits – and the gym continued to empty – he began to look perturbed, even angry with his inability to sink a 45-footer. After 30 misses or so, he tossed his ball to a nearby assistant coach, demanding a different one. But the new one was equally prone to bouncing thunderously off the rim. It was clear Varejao wouldn’t stop until he sunk one. “He does this every practice?” C-Notes asked Tad Carper, a Cavs spokesman, who seemed caught somewhere between amused and concerned for Varejao’s mental stability. Yup, Carper said. Every practice. “He dabbled in it some last year. This year, it’s become more of an obsession.” It was around then that Varejao, at least 40 misses in, rattled one home. There was no celebration, really. Just relief on everyone’s face that it was over, and they didn’t even have to call the team doctor. – Joe P. Tone

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