Marreese Speights has had his ups and downs with the Sixers during his three run in Philadelphia. He showed incredible flashes his rookie season, quickly became a fan favorite, and looked well on his way to becoming a key part of the team's future. At the beginning of his sophomore season he had the fans clamoring for more playing time, and rightfully so. In his first nine games, before going down with a knee injury, Marreese averaged 14 points, 7 rebounds, 1 block, and shot 60% from the field in 24 minutes off the bench.
Since his knee injury however; Speights has never been the same, nor has his production. Last season he averaged a career-low 11 minutes per game, a staggeringly small number considering his all-world talent and him being just one year removed from his explosive start to the season.
Unfortunately, Speights' playing time and production aren't the only things to have fallen off since his knee injury, so has his fan support. The once fan favorite has become an afterthought in Philadelphia, outside of his wildly entertaining Twitter feed.
Marreese has been in Las Vegas for the past week, playing – and posting dominant numbers – in exhibition games against NBA talent in what some have dubbed the "Lockout League". In fact, Speights posted his third consecutive double-double Thursday scoring 24 points and grabbing 16 rebounds, boosting his averages to 27 points and 11 rebounds for the week.
I have been in attendance for half of Marreese's games this week and even talked with him briefly on Monday. Things were cool between the two of us despite him having called me both a "clown" and a "hater" on Twitter in the past. However; a mere one day after speaking with him I tweeted about a "DNP" he received in a game he was scheduled to play in, which led to him sarcastically challenging me to "tell [him] why [he] didn't play".
There's clearly been some tension between Marreese on the interwebs and I decided it was time to get to the bottom of it once and for all. I wanted to clear the air and get to know the real Marreese Speights. An extended post-game interview was the only solution.
Following Marreese's final game of the week I nervously walked towards the designated media area. I explained to Ben Golliver from Blazer's Edge that my upcoming encounter with a man 13 inches and 100 pounds larger than me could go one of three ways.
1. Marreese declines to speak with me.
2. Marreese punches me in the face and me leaving Impact in a stretcher leads SportsCenter.
3. Marreese and I make peace and reminisce about the greatest naps in the history of mankind.
Make the jump to see what went down!
Jason Buckner – the guy who runs the show at Impact – approached me, along with a half dozen other media members and asked, "Hey, do you guys need anybody?" I immediately replied, "Yeah, can you grab me Marreese?" He said "sure", strolled over to where Marreese was sitting on the bench, said a few words to him, then turned and pointed directly at me.
Marreese gingerly walked over, we shook hands, exchanged a few pleasantries, and sat on some nearby bleachers. As I scrambled to turn on my recording device AKA my iPhone, I said things like "good game" and God knows what else. We'll never know, because it's not on tape.
Once my recording device was rolling the my tune quickly changed, and I wasted no time confronting Marreese about our back-and-forth on Twitter.
Below is the entire transcript of our conversation. My questions or comments are proceeded by a "Liberty Ballers", and Marreese's replies are in block quotes. Enjoy.
Liberty Ballers: I don't try to be a "hater" on Twitter.
What's your name?
Liberty Ballers: @samsjordan; you're always hatin' on me!
Naw, no, no, no, naw, you talking about I got a DNP or something.
Liberty Ballers: I was just writing what I saw.
I switched teams.
Liberty Ballers: I know, but I didn't know that, because you're on the roster for that team and you were sitting on the bench with a jersey.
I ain't on that team no more. We had to switch teams.
Liberty Ballers: I just wanted to let you know dude. I love all the Sixers; I write for the Sixers! I'm not trying to hate on nobody! You feel me?
I just be [messing around] with people on Twitter.
Liberty Ballers: I just want no beef dude, alright?
Liberty Ballers: [Nervous laugh] We could be acquaintances!
[Twitter-beef squashed, on to the interview.]
Liberty Ballers: Can I get your thoughts on the lockout, besides "it sucks"?
Yeah, it sucks. That's all I can really say. I can't wait till the season starts.
Liberty Ballers: Do you have any plans if the season is cancelled or shortened?
Most likely I'll go over seas.
Liberty Ballers: Have you got any offers yet?
Yeah, I got a lot of offers.
Liberty Ballers: How are you feeling health-wise?
Yeah, I'm feeling good; I'm feeling good.
Liberty Ballers: What's your favorite part about playing in Philadelphia?
My teammates. We're all young and we all have fun.
Liberty Ballers: What's your least favorite part about playing in Philadelphia?
Liberty Ballers: How much do you care about the public perception of you?
It's fans, so you can't really be mad at them, so I just go in there and do my job. I can't really worry about the fans like that. I just go out there and have fun with them.
Liberty Ballers: Is there anything that fans don't know about you that you think they should?
Naw, not really.
Liberty Ballers: What do you do for fun when you're not playing basketball?
Liberty Ballers: Bowling?!
Yeah, bowling or playing games.
Liberty Ballers: Are you good?
Liberty Ballers: What's your favorite video game?
Liberty Ballers: Who's your funniest teammate?
Everybody laughs at each other.
Liberty Ballers: There's no one that sticks out?
Liberty Ballers: Which one of your teammates does the best with the ladies?
Can't really say.
Liberty Ballers: Like when you guys go on the road, and you guys go out who does the best with the ladies?
I don't really know about all that.
Liberty Ballers: [Laughing] you don't want to tell?
No, I can't say nothing about that.
Liberty Ballers: Do you think you have a chance to start next year at center?
I'm going to go into training camp and try and do the best I can do. If I start, I start, if I don't, I don't. I'm not going to be satisfied with sitting on the bench cause I know I'm gonna be out there playing my hardest.
Liberty Ballers: Is there anything in particular you think you have to do to win the starting job?
I'm just going to go into camp in real good shape.
Liberty Ballers: Are you in the best shape of your life right now?
No, no, no, no.
Liberty Ballers: When were you in your best shape? Your rookie year?
No, probably the beginning of my second year. Everybody forgot that my second year I started off real good, then I got hurt. Then, the Sixers lost 12 in a row, and I came back. Everybody forgets about that stuff.
Liberty Ballers: When you came back was the injury still lingering?
Naw, cause my first game back I had 14 [points]. My second game back I had 28 [points], and the third I had 17 [points].
Liberty Ballers: So is it just a lack of consistent playing time?
Only this year.
Liberty Ballers: Do you like Coach Collins a lot better than Eddie Jordan, or do you not want to say?
No, I don't want to say.
Liberty Ballers: It seems like you've been expanding your range and shooting more threes lately. Is that something you're trying to add to your game?
No, when I work out in the summer we just work on all kinds of shots.
Liberty Ballers: I notice that you tweet about Boosie all the time. What's that all about?
That's my favorite rapper.
Liberty Ballers: Do you know him personally?
Not really, I know Webbie a little bit. Webbie's his homeboy.
Liberty Ballers: Lou's your best friend on the team, right?
All of us are like brothers, so you can't really say I have a best friend.
Liberty Ballers: Can you grade Lou's rapping skills on a scale of 1-10, if Boosie's a 10?
Liberty Ballers: Alright, I'm going to say a teammate's name and you give me the first word that pops into your head.
Liberty Ballers: Jrue Holiday?
Liberty Ballers: Evan Turner?
ET .... Weird-O! Naw, weird-o, weird-o!
Liberty Ballers: Weird-O?!
Liberty Ballers: [Laughing] Andre Iguodala?
I don't really know.
Liberty Ballers: How about "vet"? Twizzlers? I know he likes Twizzlers!
Liberty Ballers: Elton Brand?
Liberty Ballers: [Laughing] Spencer Hawes?
Liberty Ballers: Best rapper on the team?
He's no rapper, man! I don't really know. I can't answer that question; it's too hard.
Liberty Ballers: Okay, last question. Don't get mad at me for asking this. You and your teammates tweet about naps a lot ...
Liberty Ballers: Naps. One time you said that you just woke up from a "top 10 nap". I just want to know what your best nap of all-time was. Do you remember it?
Yep. My freshman year at Florida. After shoot-around we went back to the hotel and took a nap before the championship game.
Liberty Ballers: And that was the best of all-time?
Liberty Ballers: Okay, I appreciate your time Mo, and remember no beef on Twitter!
Liberty Ballers: @samsjordan
Many thanks to Marreese for sitting down with me, making peace, and answering the one question we've all by dying to know: what was Marreese's number one nap of all-time. It was very cool to get an insight into Mo's personal life, along with his life on the court. In retrospect the funniest answer Marreese gave was when he rattled off the three exact scores he posted following his knee injury, which occurred in December of 2009. He actually scored 14, 17, then 28 points following his injury, not 14, 28, then 17 like he said, but what an incredible memory nonetheless. He's clearly thought about those games a few times.
As one of the biggest Marreese Speights supporters, it saddens me that the last two seasons haven't gone as planned for the big fella. He really does have a ton of talent and unrealized potential. He's looked pretty good in the "Lockout League" thus far, so at least he's on the right track for year four. Another thing to keep in mind is that Marreese will be a restricted free agent at the end of the upcoming season, assuming there is a season.
I should have more updates as Marreese when the "Lockout League" resumes next week. In the meantime follow Mo on Twitter (@mospeights16), congratulate him on a good first week of "Lockout League" and swap top 10 nap stories.