Zeke Upshaw, who played for the Grand Rapids Drive of the G League, died today after collapsing on Saturday in a game against the Long Island Nets. Upshaw was 26-years-old.
Here is a statement from Upshaw’s mother, Jewel:
“After continued efforts from the medical team at Spectrum Health, Zeke made his transition at 11:16 am. To family, friends, teammates, coaches, fans & confidants, thank you for your prayers and support during this most difficult time.
“Details of his memorial will be announced at a later date. We’d like to thank the many doctors and nurses at Spectrum Health for their efforts in caring for our son. We’d also like to thank the Drive for the support they have extended to our family.”
Upshaw was in his second year with the Drive. He played collegiately at Illinois State and Hofstra.
The Clippers officially began the rebuilding process this week when they traded Blake Griffin to the Pistons.
Griffin was a guy who helped make the Clippers relevant in Los Angeles, and after he signed a five-year $173 million deal this summer, you thought he could end his career with the Clippers.
However, on Monday, Griffin was traded along with Willie Reed and Brice Johnson to the Pistons for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, and a first and second-round draft pick.
On Wednesday, Griffin revealed that he found out about the trade via Twitter.
According to Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady, Griffin finding out about the trade through Twitter was wrong:
“For somebody that got that type of history with the organization, he’s the one that really started to get the Clippers on a winning path,” McGrady told TMZ Sports. Yeah, that’s very disrespectful.”
McGrady does believe that Griffin’s number 32 should be retired by the Clippers.
In reality, the Clippers started rebuilding the moment Chris Paul decided to go to Houston. No one expected the Clippers to make any noise this season.
With Griffin’s injury history, you can understand why the Clippers made the deal. Regarding the Pistons, you get a guy in Griffin who could help bring some excitement to Detroit. Also, he could help the Pistons make the playoffs.
I think it’s a good deal for both teams!
In a shocker, Blake Griffin was traded to the Pistons on Monday.
Griffin, who signed a five-year, $173 million deal last summer with the Clippers, was traded to the Pistons along with Willie Reed and Brice Johnson for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, and a first and second-round draft pick.
Here is how Twitter reacted:
Attention NBA agents: Anytime a team pitches your guy with rhetoric about retiring with said team, make them back it up by giving your player a no-trade clause in his contract. https://t.co/BA7vdDqnht
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 29, 2018
When Blake Griffin see Doc Rivers at the Lightskindid barbershop pic.twitter.com/YwMHGHTUV4
— Josiah Johnson (@KingJosiah54) January 30, 2018
Derrick Rose has played more games in the last 3 seasons (142) than Blake Griffin has (129).
— Mike Sullivan (@MikeSullivan) January 30, 2018
— Clipper Darrell (@clipperdarrell) January 29, 2018
— Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin23) January 30, 2018
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) January 30, 2018
— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) January 30, 2018
Blake Griffin gonna turn into Blake Icewood after his first Pistons home game.
— Chase N. Cashe (@ChaseNCashe) January 30, 2018
— theScore (@theScore) January 30, 2018
Since the end of the 2017 Finals,
& more have switched teams. Incredible.
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) January 30, 2018
— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) January 30, 2018
The Pistons of the 2000’s had a lot of success. They won an NBA title in 2004. They made it back to the NBA Finals in 2005 before losing to the Spurs and had a run of six straight conference finals appearances.
The next question for some of stars of those teams is which guys belong in the Hall of Fame. Rip Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, and Ben Wallace are all eligible for the Hall of Fame this year.
Chauncey Billups, who was a Finals’ MVP in 2004, believes that himself, Hamilton, and Wallace should all be in the Hall of Fame.
The case for himself(Billups):
“Being drafted the third-pick in the Draft, and really falling off after that, not having a good three or four years. Kind of falling off the map, almost being considered a bust at that point, and to get off the mat, at that point, and turn it all the way around and climb all the way to the top of the mountain. I think it’s Hall of Fame worthy,” Billups told TMZ Sports.
The case for Rip Hamilton:
“I think Rip’s a unique case as well because his game wasn’t sexy. He’s going to run all over the place. He’s going to shoot mid-range jump shots, he’s not really out there dunking on people, but like you said, he’s the instant 20 points a game scorer,” Billups said. “He was our go-to guy a lot of times, and he won. He won on the collegiate level (1999), he won in the NBA, so I think there’s a case to be made for Rip.”
The case for Ben Wallace:
“I think Ben is the easiest case out of all three of us, to be honest with you. Ben is a guy if look at (Dikembe)Mutombo’s stats, Dennis Rodman’s stats those are kind of his comparables. Ben should of been a first-ballot Hall of Famer,” Billups said. “This dude was lights out. He’s 6’7, they say he’s 6’9, he’s 6’7. He weighed probably 225, 230, and he banging with all these dudes every single night. Winning that match-up (against) Shaq; all of them he’s winning them match-ups most of the time. I think Ben Wallace is a Hall of Famer for sure!”
I think out of three, I agree with Billups, Wallace is the easiest case to be made. Wallace won the DPOY award four times, 4x All-Star, and won an NBA title in 2004. I think Wallace has done enough.
Regarding Billups and Hamilton, I believe they belong in the Hall of the Very Good. They had good runs with the Pistons, but neither player never was First–Team All NBA, and neither guy was the best at their position at any point in their careers.
Billups and Hamilton had very good careers, but they were never great. I think they fall short, but I would not be surprised if Billups gets in.
Darko Milicic was a bust. That might be put it kindly. He was not very good. In the 2003 NBA Draft, the Pistons had an opportunity to get Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, or Dwyane Wade, but they chose the then 17-year old Serbian forward. He supposed to be the next big thing. Turns out that was not the case, and we may have found out why. Milicic, 31, told the website B92, which was translated by Reddit, the struggles he had in the NBA.
“I’d do a lot of things differently now. It’s true that I ended up on a team that was trying to win a ring, which rarely happens to a #2 pick, but in the end, we’re all looking for alibis. I could say i didn’t get a proper chance. However, that’s simply an alibi; it’s up to a young player to prove himself, work hard and wait for his chance. My approach was completely different, as a #2 pick coming from Europe I thought I was sent by God. So I got into fights, got drunk before practices, spiting everyone, while in the end, I was spiting myself.”
Wow, drunk before practice! He thought he was sent by God? It seems ego got the best of Milicic. Today, the 350 pound Milicic is a farmer in Serbia.
“I’ve gained 90 pounds since I stopped playing, I’m at 350 right now. I’m working at my farm and enjoying that kind of production. I take walks through my fields and watch the process, which makes me really happy. I’m still pretty inexperienced at this so I like to learn, seek guidance, go to seminars. I’ve created my own peace of mind and I’m enjoying it. There’s always problems like in any other field of work, but I’d rather do this than build skyscrapers in the city because I’d end up shooting myself. I think this is the most positive story of them all, food production and food in general is the future in every sense.”
If the Pistons would have drafted Melo, Bosh, or Wade, one championship could have easily been two or three!