EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Shane Larkin, the freshly promoted Nets starting point guard, knows the elation that a family or families will feel Wednesday when the call comes from the Baseball Hall of Fame. His memory is still fresh from Jan. 9, 2012, when his dad, Barry, got that very call.
“I was at the University of Miami. They had all the camera crew and everything in my house and I think my mom called Tuesday. “He was really happy. Everybody in the house was screaming.
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“It just makes you proud, just to see the respect that those have for your father and the way he played the game. It’s the highest honor in sport, to be named to the Hall of Fame and be recognized as one of the best players ever. I’m extremely proud of my dad and what he was able to do.”
And that is despite the fact that the shortstop’s son utterly lost his taste for baseball at the age of 7.
Until then, he had loved his dad’s sport, hanging around the Reds’ spring training facility, shagging flies and taking hitting lessons from Tony Perez and Pete Rose. But when he used his batting style — big leg kick, pronounced hand-rolling — during a practice, a youth league coach vehemently told him it was no good. That was all Shane needed to swear off baseball.
The 23-year-old point guard, who is with his third NBA team, got his own kind of call this week when the Nets announced Sunday that starter Jarrett Jack was out for the season with a knee injury. Larkin didn’t need some Little League coach to critique his first game in the new role Monday, four points and two assists in a 103-94 loss to the Celtics. He went home, watched the tape and saw how he could have been more aggressive at some times, more patient at others.
“Coming into the season, a lot of people didn’t know what to expect from me,” Larkin said. “I think I’ve shown in spurts that I can be an effective player. I’ve had great games, I’ve had bad games. I’ve just got to find that consistency, go out every night and play well. This is definitely an opportunity for me to establish myself.”
Joe Johnson, who had his second consecutive 20-point game against the Celtics but is questionable to face the Raptors at Barclays Center Wednesday night because of a bruised left thigh, said late Monday he expects Larkin and backup Donald Sloan to “respond big,” adding, “I know Shane has put a lot of ownership in it, so has Sloan. They’ll bounce back.”