When one is bound for glory, envious entities will try anything to bring him down. This happened to 17-year-old Andrew Wiggins after a writer dissed him through a scathing article. Wiggins, known for his low-profile and silent demeanor, responded in the only way he knows how: by playing the best basketball of his life.
A fair critic or a jealous hater?
A writer by the name of Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated slammed Wiggins' rumored lack of work ethics. Thamel didn't just diss Wiggins' persona, he also dragged his father and past Canadian prospects.
"And with Wiggins, there are warning signs. Wiggins has attended three schools in the past four years. His college recruitment is being run by his father, Mitchell, an unemployed former NBA guard best remembered for a two-year suspension for testing positive for cocaine. Andrew Wiggins' work ethic and motor have yet to catch up to his athleticism and raw ability. That leaves the question of whether he'll coast on talent to a solid NBA career or tap into his vast potential and emerge as an elite player and Canadian icon."
"In the past few years, more highly-touted Canadians have fizzled than sizzled in the states, victims of bad advice, fly-by-night prep schools and a lack of preparation on and off the court," Thamel wrote.
It was a demolition job attempt to takedown Wiggins, who had been named a candidate for the Naismith Award — a plum given to the best high school baller in the country. Wiggins, then a senior at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, was already being compared to the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. One recruit even believed Wiggins had the potential to be the "Michael Jordan of Canada."
The article came out at noon on Thursday. Wiggins became aware of the searing piece but didn't say anything about it. He waited until 7:30 that evening to respond at the expense of their foes, Marietta College JV. He dropped 57 points on 24-of-28 shooting in a dominant 111-59 victory. Wiggins also snagged 13 rebounds and had four blocks.
"I was happy about becoming a candidate for the Naismith Award, but when the article came out, I didn't pay it too much mind," Wiggins said, per herald-dispatch.
"I just had to respond to the negative outlook that the reporter gave me," Wiggins said. "I thought I responded well. Negative media happens to everybody. You just have to work through it and respond."
His media response seemed tame to his tweet later.
Thamel must have been secretly rejoicing when analysts started entertaining the thought if Wiggins is a bust or not. After all, Wiggins did well in his first few years in the league but failed to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to the promised land. Winning is the be-all and end-all of any sport.
It would be interesting to know what Thamel thinks of Wiggins right now, especially since he has made incredible strides in his career. Yes, he is not the franchise star. But he is one of the most critical pieces of the Golden State Warriors' playoff campaign. Head coach Steve Kerr even said that Wiggins filled the void left by Kevin Durant, Shaun Livingston, and Andre Iguodala. Not only does the Ontario native provide offense, but he has also vastly improved on the defensive end. Whether the Wiggins wins his first NBA Championship is a matter of wait-and-see. Whatever the result is, we can rightfully say that Wiggins won't go down as a draft bust.