It was nice to see Wednesday afternoon that the Tyshawn Taylor we all saw grow up before our eyes during his time in Lawrence, highlighted by a big emotional growth spurt late in his career, has continued to mature.
His look, his game and the words that spilled from his mouth could best be summed up by one word: professional.
As is the case with impending high-lottery pick Ben McLemore, Taylor came up rough, McLemore in St. Louis, Taylor in New Jersey and Florida and back to New Jersey. Now Taylor makes big money and wears a big gold target on his back, one the vultures can see from miles away.
Taylor didn’t get much playing time as a rookie, twice scored in double figures and averaged 2.2 points. He made six of 13 three-pointers. He’s so quick that he’ll get a good shot to stick, and he works hard at improving his game. Just as important, it sounds as if he’s taking the right precautions to prevent himself from getting fleeced.
Taylor and McLemore never were teammates in games, but they did practice together daily for one semester. Naturally, they got along well, given that they are two of the friendliest college basketball players I’ve ever covered.
Taylor, like the rest of us, is rooting for McLemore not to lose his future fortune to bloodsuckers.
“Ben’s going to have a lot bigger problem with that than me,” Taylor said. “His paycheck is going to be a little bit bigger than mine. But I think it’s all within yourself. You’ve got to be able to tell people no. You have to be able to have some good people with you that can tell people no. But when you’re in a situation where you come from little and you get enough, you want to be able to help as many people as you can.”
But not nearly as many as want to be “helped” by you. It sounds easy to all of us to just shut people down, but Taylor doesn’t make it sound easy.
“Ben being the young, nice kid he is, I think Ben is going to try to do that,” Taylor said of helping as many people as he can. “But you have to do that within limits. You can’t overdo it. You can’t go broke yourself trying to help other people. I think that hurts a lot of people in this league.”
McLemore enters the world of big money a couple of years younger than Taylor, and saying no hasn’t been easy even for Taylor.
“You don’t necessarily feel like you owe people, but you always want to help, especially if you know you can, but it can be overwhelming at times,” Taylor said. “I’m dealing with that myself. It can be overwhelming. I think he’ll be fine, though.”
Taylor said he hired an agent to negotiate his contract and selected a separate person to serve as his financial adviser. Here’s hoping he’ll be drawing a big NBA check for a long time. He doesn’t strike me as a guy who ever will turn arrogant.