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Figuring out Fortson: Part I

FLASHBACK! Here's a piece from the archives for some of our new readers. Let me just say that yes Danny did read this piece. No, he was not happy. We made up but that is one scary dude when he's angry.

So long as the fine folks from the Sonics PR Staff continue to let me masquerade as a journalist you can expect updates and features on Danny Fortson.

While Danny is not one of the top line guys for the Sups in either talent or impact he definitely qualifies as one when it comes to personality. There are qualities about Fortson both on and off the basketball court that simply make him interesting and are worthy of conversation.

In addition to being “interesting” Danny Fortson is just plain a nice guy. I will probably continue to write stories about him because as much as any player on the team I genuinely like the guy. He is in fact the only Sonic who has much interest in what I am doing there and actually claims to have visited the site. Here’s hoping he doesn’t get too mad when I criticize him. Its part of the business big fella.

Danny is an enigma. With a reputation as a thug and a guy prone towards violent temper tantrums and hard fouls you would expect him to be intimidating and surly. Danny qualifies as intimidating from a physical standpoint. Almost all NBA players are bigger than me, but few are as large as Fortson who is frankly just massive. I simply cannot imagine being on the wrong side of a bad mood with this guy.

Luckily he is not surly or intimidating. Danny Fortson may have the most easygoing smile and charismatic personality of anyone I have ever met. He goes out of his way to bridge the gap between his size and NBA stardom and my everyday guy stature. He is a guy who makes the effort to walk over toy you for an easygoing handshake or to put his arm on your shoulder instead of pretending there is a glass wall between the press and the players. Danny makes you feel like his friend even if you just met him. In our 5 or 6 conversations I have heard all about his young daughter and the great times they’ve spent together. I have heard all about his deathly fear of flying and the burden that has been on a career where you log countless hours in the air. I have heard almost everything except the standard “take it game by game” type answers that so many athletes churn out without thought.

So if Fortson is not mean, violent, or surly, then it seems like the only explanation for his on the court behavior is that he is not such a smart guy. How could anyone with a few brain cells watch his game tape and not make some adjustments. How could he really be such a nice person and not be bothered by the poor reputation and constant foul calls? Again I simply lack an answer. You can tell by talking to the guy that he is bright and insightful. He makes an honest effort to explain himself and does not seem to suffer from a lack of self awareness. I have met stupid people in my life and would not count Fortson among that group.

That’s the good stuff. Unfortunately some of those same attributes make Danny something of a disappointment as a basketball player.

What seems to stop Danny Fortson from being a great player is that his sincere desire to be just a “regular guy” overrides any sense of becoming an “exceptional guy.” Danny wants to be ordinary much more than he wants to be great and I wonder whether he has great passion for the game.

I asked Danny several weeks ago whether he was a guy who looked himself in the mirror and tried hard to be a better person.

“I’ll tell you one thing; I don’t have any criminal record” said a clearly agitated Fortson.

And that is the heart of the problem. If I asked Danny what his dreams and aspirations are for his 4 year old daughter I am certain that he would not say “as long as she’s not in jail I’ll be happy for her.” Danny sometimes applies low standards to himself and the results speak for themselves.

After hearing Danny Fortson’s tirade against officials and journalists yesterday I was extremely disappointed because nothing good can come of it. Again my favorite player is digging his own grave with comments that while sincere serve no purpose. I could only feel sorry for Sonics PR Director Marc Moquin who did his best to limit Fortsons media interaction and quickly shut down my final interview request.

“He’s done!” said Moq with a bit of feeling.

Indeed Fortson was done for the afternoon but likely the damage has been done. Danny needs to shut his mouth and adjust his game if he hopes to make a substantial impact for this team.