Friday, June 27, 2014

Wiggins downplays rivalry with Parker

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt, left to right, Andrew Wiggins and general manager David Griffin hold up Wiggins jersey during a new conference Friday, June 27, 2014, in Independence, Ohio.

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt, left to right, Andrew Wiggins and general manager David Griffin hold up Wiggins jersey during a new conference Friday, June 27, 2014, in Independence, Ohio.


— The NBA has been known to fall in love with intense rivalries throughout the years.

Teams, players, cities and coaches, all have been paired together in a tumultuous tango designed to ramp up the hype and make the league and its players more marketable.

Former Kansas University forward Andrew Wiggins is not interested in helping out.

Wiggins, drafted No. 1 by Cleveland on Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, became the first Jayhawk since Danny Manning in 1988 to be selected with the top pick. However, just because Wiggins edged out Duke’s Jabari Parker, who went second to Milwaukee, for top billing in the Big Apple, does not mean that the two are destined to become the next incarnation of Bird-Magic, Bulls-Pistons, Kobe-LeBron or Spurs-Heat.

“Good players will always be compared to each other,” said Wiggins about 15 minutes after being tapped No. 1 in New York. “But I never think of anything as a rivalry. I think that’s what the media portrays it to be.”

Along their journey from prep stars to high-profile colleges and top-tier draft picks, Wiggins and Parker became good friends. They both own easy-going personalities. They both like sharing the love they get with their teammates. And they each have a common understanding of what the other is going through and, therefore, a greater appreciation of what they each have accomplished and how difficult it was.

That doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t like to compete against each other. Leading up to the draft, Wiggins made no secret of the fact that the idea of someone else being drafted first did not sit well with him. And back in early November, in Chicago, during the only collegiate meeting between these two sensational talents, Wiggins asked to guard Parker late in KU’s 94-83 victory over Duke and outshined his fellow-one-and-doner down the stretch.

“On the court, it doesn’t matter who I’m going against,” Wiggins said. “I’m going to go hard. I’m going to go to win and kill. Off the court, we can be friends, but on the court, it’s a different story.”

Regardless of what becomes of the Wiggins-Parker rivalry — if anything ever does — the former KU standout said he thought both guys entered the NBA with a big-time advantage in terms of knowing how to handle what’s ahead. The reason? The schools at which they played their lone seasons of college basketball.

“I think college really prepares you for a level like this,” Wiggins said. “Especially a big-time school like Kansas or a Duke or a Kentucky, where you’re always under the spotlight... You’re basically treated like a rock star on campus or wherever you go in that state. I think that really translates to the NBA.”

Another thing Wiggins believes will help him make the adjustment is the coaching he received from KU coach Bill Self during his one-year holding pattern that preceded Thursday night’s dream-come-true event.

“He’s a great, legendary coach, one of the best there is,” Wiggins said of Self. “And he doesn’t baby anybody. He really pushes you to be the best you can be, and he brought a lot out of me.”


Ashwin Rao 7 years, 3 months ago

Great comments. Love his maturity! Thanks for the plug!

Eliott Reeder 7 years, 3 months ago

“On the court, it doesn’t matter who I’m going against,” Wiggins said. “I’m going to go hard. I’m going to go to win and kill." He then added, "Unless, of course, you're Stanford. Then I'm gonna lay in the cut and see if Connor Frankamp can pull off a miracle."

Brianna Zaleski 7 years, 3 months ago

Give it up Elliot. The kid was 19 yrs old. When u were 19 were u supremely confident in everything u did? Did you shine the brightest when the pressure was at it most intense? I doubt you've even experienced anything like the situations this kid had to deal w on a daily basis.
Freshman are going to play like freshman sometimes. It's a fact of life. That's why those tournaments are usually won buy teams laden w Jr s and Sr s. Because they don't play like Fr.!

Jim Stauffer 7 years, 3 months ago

Brianna, That is why I hope Coach goes back a bit and begins to mix and match classes so someone who is going to be on the court is something more than a novice.

No knock on Andrew. A great kid who represented the U very well.

Robert Brock 7 years, 3 months ago

Cut the kid some slack when it comes to the Stanford game. He was a rookie on a rookie-dominated team. A veteran squad would have pulverized that pedestrian Stanford club.

Brad Farha 7 years, 3 months ago

It's not like Stanford was without talent. Yes they were more experienced, but they also had two guys selected in this year's draft (Huestis & Powell).

David A. Smith 7 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, I'd have to beg to differ regarding Stanford. They were pretty good. And, as far as Wiggins, he had a few freshman moments. It's the nature of the beast when young players are in the mix. If it had been anyone else that had a rough game as a freshman, people would have understood. Being a beast as a freshman brings a lot of unrealistic expectations. It should be treated as a pleasant surprise when a freshman is a clutch, go to player. Man, are we an entitled bunch, or what?

Chad Lee 7 years, 3 months ago

The reason we had such a young team last year was the senior team we had prior. That is why, not because Self made an effort to just get OADs. How short some memories are

Al Martin 7 years, 3 months ago

Yep. The one and dones were absolutely not the problem on this team. Lack of veteran leadership was.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 3 months ago

"you ride is jack" ? A little help, what does this mean? I am going to guess your point is wrong?

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 3 months ago

you ride is jock: "you are overly critical of him"

you won't find that one in Merriam-Webster's though.

Shannon Gustafson 7 years, 3 months ago

Nice to see him continue to say nothing but positives about KU and his college experience.

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