Typically during the long months of summer most NBA players fade to the background. Most spend their time focusing on some R&R and/or working on their game to get better for next season. One exception to the rule this off-season has been Brendan Haywood.
As you all know, we've carried the "BRENDAN HAYWOOD IS MASSIVELY UNDERRATED AND WE WON'T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT UNTIL YOU STOP CALLING HIM 'BRENDA'" banner because he just doesn't get respect for the fine work he does at center. So it's come as a bit of a surprise to see him get so much publicity this summer after years of toiling in relative anonymity.
It started in May when he started his blog on Yardbarker where he's touched on a number of issues, not all basketball related but typically more insightful than the thoughts of your average NBA player. (Sidenote: It's refreshing to see a player trying to create an online presence using something other than Twitter.) Then earlier this month, he began a weekly radio show on WJFK. In between he's given various interviews, including last week's interview with Hardcore Sports Radio that caused a bit of a firestorm, to say the least.
All of this media exposure comes on the heels of the most important season of Brendan's career. He turns 30 in November and he's entering a contract year; likely his last and best chance to rake in a big payday. I don't think that it's a coincidence that Brendan is increasing his media availability on the heels of the most important season of his career.
As we all know, the 2010 free agency class that Haywood is a part of is chock-full of big name players. Especially in a year where the cap is going down, it's going to be hard for many good players to make the money they would get in other years. That makes it more important than ever for players entering free agency to get their name out there into the public consciousness and into the minds of general managers. So far this summer, Brendan has done just about everything possible to get his name out there and increase his value.
Of course, nothing helps one's value better than playing well on the hardwood. But don't tell Brendan that media exposure doesn't help at the negotiating table. All he has to do to refute that argument is point across the locker room to Gilbert Arenas, who has probably done more to increase his value through the media than any other player this decade through his blog and his wacky interviews.
Media exposure can certainly increase your value, but as we saw last week, not all exposure is good exposure. So what do you make of Brendan's media-filled summer? A brilliant PR move that will pay off in spades (and Benjamins)? A risky move with great potential for backfiring? Much ado about nothing? The choice is yours.