Robert Swift was drafted in the first round out of Bakersfield High School by the Seattle Supersonics in 2004. The 7-foot-1 center never lived up to what the Sonics-turned-Thunder organization wanted him to be, but it wasn’t for a lack of help from the NBA.
In a must-read profile on Swift’s post-playing life, Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Ballard details a time when Spurs legend Tim Duncan told the Sonics youngster, mid-game, how to correctly play a San Antonio set.
Swift buys a kick-ass truck, eats like a king. And he gets to play against his idols. The first time he guards Tim Duncan, Swift pushes up on him on the block, trying to impress him.
“Nah, nah, don’t do that,” Duncan says.
Swift is surprised. Duncan never talks to opponents. And yet…
“The ball’s going to swing to the other side, get position,” Duncan continues.
The ball swings. Swift follows orders, shuffling his feet across the lane, staying behind Duncan.
“No, further up,” Duncan says. Swift takes a half-step.
“No, a little higher, don’t let me duck in on you.”
“All right, now come back,” Duncan says, moving across the lane. “The ball’s about to be swung back, but it’s not coming to me this time so don’t worry about it. But now you know how to play it.”
This wasn’t the first time Duncan gave notes to opponents during game play. Etan Thomas shared a story about how Duncan blocked one of his shots and gave him advice on how to avoid that block the next time Thomas was isolated on Duncan. When Thomas tried, Duncan didn’t block his shot (Thomas still missed).
As for Swift, it appears that he’s going to attempt to make a comeback to the NBA after stories of being arrested for armed robbery, being addicted to heroin and having his house (which was disgusting) raided by police. In that raid, police found, among other things, a sawed-off shotgun, a grenade launcher and samurai swords.
Swift never showed much promise during his brief stint in the NBA, but size is always at a premium and there’s an off chance that a D-League team could take a look at him in earnest.
(Via Sports Illustrated)