Player Capsules 2012, #235-237: Lance Thomas, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson

As our summer mainstay, Aaron's writing a 370-part series discussing almost every notable player who was -- as of last season -- getting minutes in the NBA. Intent is to get you talking, thinking, and appreciating the myriad of wonderful folks who play in our favorite sports league. This afternoon we continue with Lance Thomas, Wayne Ellington, and Ty Lawson.

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Follow Lance Thomas' example and buy a black diamond Jesus head.

As far as I know, most of the people who actively follow this blog are NBA fans -- few that I know of follow the NCAA with any sort of fervor or interest. I count myself in this general group. I don't like watching college basketball all that much, honestly. The talent is dismal, the excessive shot clock leads to overcomplicated and aimless offensive sets, the coaches lord over their players, chalk rules in a boring regular season, and the "possession arrow" is quite possibly the stupidest major-sport concept I've ever seen. March Madness is a lot of fun, and the crowds are neat. But I watch college basketball with this inherent sense that I'd get a better aesthetic experience by watching any average NBA team with an obsessive fanbase like Portland or Golden State. The defense is interesting, at times, but the requirements of the game tend to make successful college-level defensive schemes actively harmful to a player's development as a professional league defensive talent -- far too much of an emphasis on reach-ins, ball-watching, and zone protection. Simply not enough focus in the college game on single coverage, or on understanding ways to truly shut down a play. There's a reason most rookies are terrible at defense -- their college coaches do them a great disservice.

The reason I mention this is that I'd like to talk about a recently-broken story that most NBA fans have only glancingly heard about. The story broke this summer, and has intimately to do with Lance Thomas. Basically goes like this. Early in the 2010 season, Duke University's men's basketball team was in New York to play Gonzaga. They won by 35 points, then the team generally dispersed for a short winter break before a return to campus a bit over a week later. Lance Thomas -- alone, with nobody beside him -- went to an upscale jewelry store in New York and bought a black diamond necklace, a diamond-encrusted watch, a diamond cross, diamond earrings, and a black diamond pendant in the shape of Jesus' head. (... yeah, really.) The cost was $97,800. He paid $30,000, but the jeweler allowed him to take the rest on a bill-of-sale agreement that he'd pay the rest of the total within 15 days. The payment never came, Thomas stopped returning his calls, and the man eventually gave up trying and took him to court this summer. The two eventually came to a very carefully worded settlement, one where the money was conditional on the store not cooperating with any internal NCAA investigators and one where neither Thomas nor the jeweler would release the terms of the settlement otherwise. So, nothing will happen.

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