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Martin Devlin: RJ Hampton brought the hype but failed on the court

Author
Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Fri, 7 Feb 2020, 12:47PM

Martin Devlin: RJ Hampton brought the hype but failed on the court

Author
Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Fri, 7 Feb 2020, 12:47PM

RJ Hampton. Remember the name. Because there's not a lot about anything else he did here that you will. The Breakers star import has left the team early, gone back to Texas to "rehab  his injured hip" and "prepare for the upcoming NBA draft".

So, was he a success and if so how do you define "success"?

In terms of the hype and hoopla he brought the answer is an unreserved YES! After missing the playoffs last year the team, the franchise, was in desperate need of an excitement boost.

The new owners had burst in swinging a new broom full of brash talk and big bravado. This was going to be sport with a glitz and glamour the likes that sleepy ole NZ hadn't seen before.

An entertainment experience guaranteed to bring the fans flooding back and renewing interest in a team and a league that was looking like it'd well reached  its peak and had little new ground left to gain. The "family franchise" image was kicked for touch, the new Breakers would be in your face both on court and off. And, to no-one's surprise, it wasn't really working. 

Seriously aligned and entwined to the shockjock US Barstool Sports the Breakers shop window was pretty much anti everything about the way  teams and organisations traditionally operate here. And that's not a  bad thing, it's just different. And as we know in NZ, "different" often means it takes a whole heap longer to gain widespread acceptance and approval. 

RJ Hampton's acquisition was simply invaluable in speeding up that process.

The interest, focus and adjulation that accompanied the young man unprecedented in NZ sport. Single-handedly he, and the promotional machine around him, gave the Breakers their mojo back. Off the court he was a resounding success.

On court though he failed to impress. How good is/was the young man?

Who would know? He averaged just 21 mins in the 15 times he played.

That's right, fifteen. When he wasn't injured he was either resting or carefully managing his playing time so as not to over-exert during this crucial career learning period. In other words kept in cotton wool. And now he's preparing for the draft.

Whatever the NBA scouts are looking for I doubt they gleaned much from anything he did while here downunder. Other than the guy got a lot of press coverage and left with a brand new Kobe tattoo.

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