Boris Diaw's unlikely arc of triumph

"Boris is the kind of guy you have to judge by results and not necessarily by how he gets there, particularly if his path diverges from the way you want it done," Griffin said. "You can't pound him into a role. You have to let him grow into his role organically."

In Atlanta after Stotts' departure, and especially in Charlotte after Silas replaced Larry Brown and the Bobcats sank to the historic depths of 7-59, Diaw frustrated those around him far more often than he dazzled.

"I think passers are underrated in this league," Quinter said. "Also, Boris can get bored, especially if he's asked to fit into a box. And when he's bored, he can be difficult."

Said former teammate Raja Bell, who saw the best of Diaw in Phoenix and the worst after both were dealt to Charlotte in December 2008: "His skill set and his value, quite frankly, get lost on bad teams. I think after a while he shuts down on them."

In a sit-down earlier this week on ESPN Radio, Parker referred to the Hawks and then-Bobcats as "tough teams" rather than bad. The implication being, as Bell suggested, that it was tough for his national-team colleague to stay plugged in with a team that wasn't going to share the ball and dig in defensively.

Yet it must be noted that even the seemingly easiest of teams to play for, captained by Parker himself, hasn't been immune to spells of Bored Boris. It was just a year ago, in Game 2 of the 2013 Finals against the Heat, that Diaw's 11 scoreless (and rebound-less) minutes landed him right in the Gregg Popovich doghouse. Diaw got a DNP-CD in Game 3 and was never the factor in those Finals that he has been in this series.

"It's important for Boris to like who he plays with," Griffin said. "Part of why he did so well with us [in Phoenix] was because he was around so many like-minded people in Nash, [Grant] Hill, Bell, [Leandro] Barbosa, etc."


Worth the weight

Without much elaboration, Parker acknowledges that Diaw is indeed aware of the unkind comments routinely made about his physique. Steve Nash, furthermore, concedes that he and some of Diaw's old Suns teammates were themselves guilty of busting on Boris about it to his face.

"You know how locker room banter can be," Nash said.

But both of these Hall of Fame-bound point guards, two of the biggest Boris fans you'll find, insist that the quipsters and hashtaggers on the outside never give Diaw his due.

"He takes [this] serious," Parker told ESPN Radio. "This year, he took a chef. He got healthy, took care of his body, and you see the difference. He's been playing great basketball for us."

Said Nash: "He slimmed down a lot this year, actually. He's always got that stigma he's out of shape, but I don't think that's fair."

Added Quinter: "We sent a trainer to accompany Boris one summer when he was playing for the French national team. The trainer comes back when the event is over and says Boris is in fantastic shape. Boris comes back to Phoenix after about two weeks, lifts up his shirt, and everyone is flabbergasted. How do you add that much weight in two weeks?

"But the reality is that he has almost always played well, whatever his weight is. The most important thing for him has always been his conditioning -- his stamina."

"This series [against Miami] obviously shows he can play a lot of minutes and be effective," Stotts said. "Regardless of what you think of his weight, he's an effective four man."

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