Earl Boykins continues to 'do the impossible'
Bumped into Earl Boykins at Bradley Center and as our conversation came to an end, I mentioned that I was having a hard time trying to stay warm in Milwaukee.
"Why would you even try?" Boykins said. "Why try to do the impossible?"
Boykins has probably heard that same question several times as he pursued a career in the NBA. But the 5-foot-5 Boykins continues to hang around, even with the odds stacked against him. After spending last season in Washington, Boykins is now a backup point guard in his second stint in Milwaukee. He is in his 11th season, which trails Spud Webb (12 seasons), Calvin Murphy (13) and Muggsy Bogues (14) in longevity among players 5-9 or shorter.
The thing is, I understand how to play the game of basketball," said Boykins, who is averaging 9.0 points and 3.3 assists through his career. "I understand the game better than most of the players that I'm playing against. With the understanding and the experience I have, I'm able to be successful."
Boykins signed with the Bucks last summer, which placed him in the rare position of preparing for training camp. He usually has to wait until some team contacts him during the season, which was the case the past three seasons, when he joined the Charlotte Bobcats late, spent a year in Italy, and then joined the Wizards.
When Boykins signed with the Wizards in November of last season, he thought he was joining a playoff contender. But only three players -- Nick Young, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee -- remain from that squad. He watched Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson get traded at the deadline and experienced a season like none other.
"It was a learning experience," Boykins said. "It was something that no one expected, especially when I signed there. The turmoil was unexpected and I just tried to remain professional throughout my time there and just go out, play hard."
Despite the upheaval, Boykins said he spoke with the Wizards during free agency, before deciding to come back to Milwaukee, where he ended the 2006-07 season. "They were in a rebuilding mode," Boykins said of the Wizards, "but Milwaukee was a playoff team last year and I wanted to be on a team where I had the opportunity to compete for a playoff spot this year."
As he looks over at his opponent on Wednesday, Boykins hasn't been surprised by the results in Washington. "They are a new team, but they are young," Boykins said of the Wizards (12-27). "I think it was expected for them to start off this way. You would expect it when you get rid of all your core guys and you start over. But they've been playing good of late, especially Nick. Nick's been playing unbelievable basketball. Even before I got there, Nick has always had a reputation as somebody who can score. He can flat out score. Now he's getting the opportunity and he's taking advantage of it."
The Bucks (14-24) have been a disappointment this season, as they rank last in the scoring at just 91 points per game. Boykins is averaging 7.7 points for the Bucks, and has scored at least 20 points twice, including a season-high 26 in a win over Dallas on Jan. 1. "I just try to go out there and try to be consistent," Boykins said. "I try to be a leader when I'm out on the court. The hardest thing to do on this level is being consistent."
And how many thought Boykins would still be here to say that?
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