Michael Porter Jr.

Michael Porter Jr. is now the official mystery man of the 2018 NBA Draft.

Last week, he either couldn’t get out of bed because of hip pain, or a bit of soreness got blown out of proportion by the media. Real news vs. fake news.

NBA executives must decide the reality before Thursday night’s NBA draft, and it could mean Porter is a lottery pick or that he falls to eighth or below.

The world knows that Porter missed most of his freshman year with the Missouri Tigers after microdiscectomy back surgery in November. Remember, the first we heard on that injury was that it involved his hip, not his back.

He returned for two games, wasn’t himself and declared for the draft.

Things seemed to be going along smooth enough until he abruptly postponed a workout and medical evaluation in Chicago last week. It was reported he could barely walk and had to be helped from the bed because of hip pain.

Porter was then suddenly available again for workouts and a video was posted of him in which he looked quite athletic.

He told Will Cain on ESPN radio he is “feeling great,” and, as of Tuesday morning, there was a chance that Porter might still workout for several teams.

“I feel good. … I got evaluated. I let the doctors come in and do all their tests on me. I’m feeling good. I think the teams are comfortable, but I might get a couple workouts in,” he told Cain.

“(My hip) was just a little sore, so I told (my agent) my hip was kind of sore and he just wanted to shut it down for a couple of days.

“And then people took that and kind of ran with it, saying, you know, my hip was injured, I couldn’t get out of bed. … None of that was really true. I was just sore, and I wanted to take a couple of days off. So that’s all that was.”

If I’m a GM the top five of the draft order, this episode would be enough to bypass Porter.

Kurt Helin of NBC Sports wrote on Monday, “There are also concerns about Porter’s grit and toughness.”

“He has the reputation of having been insulated and having been a bit of a diva, what happens when he gets to an NBA team where he is not the first (and, at first at least, maybe not the second) option?

“What happens when he has to play more of a role and have it not be about him and his touches? Teams are asking about that.”

Marc Stein of the SteinLine said Porter could still go as high as No. 2 to the Sacramento Kings, and that other teams believe it could happen.

Sam Amick of USA TODAY said the Kings could be taking the biggest risk in the draft if they make that move.

“…As the NBA draft looms on Thursday, and as the Kings continue to see right through all those red flags that surround Missouri's mystery man, Michael Porter Jr., while pondering the fate of their No. 2 pick, it might be time to send a shipment of oxygen masks to the California capital. The hyperventilating about what happens next has long since begun,” he wrote on Tuesday.

“Porter Jr. is two things that aren’t so easily reconciled – a talent so tantalizing that you could see him giving a Hall of Fame speech someday, and a 19-year-old whose back problems might wind up short-circuiting his budding career.”

He added, “Atlanta is not believed to be considering Porter Jr. with its No. 3 pick, but Memphis still has him on its short list at No. 4 as does Dallas at No. 5.”

Joe Vardon, NBA reporter for Cleveland.com, said the Cavaliers would gleefully take Porter Jr., if he tumbled to No. 8 – regardless of LeBron James’ plans. It is reported that the Cavaliers will not know if James is leaving or staying with that franchise before the draft.

The mystery will be solved on Thursday night. My guess is that Porter Jr.’s past year and past week will put him in a position to be drafted by owner Mark Cuban and the Mavericks at No. 5. He’s a risk taker and Porter is a risk that could pay off big time.

Donovan is darn right

One of America’s greatest soccer players, Landon Donovan, is in hot water because he is featured in a Wells Fargo advertisement in which he proudly wears a scarf that says, “Mexico is my other team.”

He says other Americans should join him in supporting our North America neighbor. The USA didn’t make the field, nor did Canada to our North.

Taylor Twellman, a former USA team member and ESPN analyst, said “I’d rather cut off my own toe” than support Mexico. Twellman is a SLUH graduate, by the way.

Donovan defended himself saying, “To begin, my heart bleeds red, white and blue and no one should ever question my allegiance to and support of US Soccer and its national teams.”

“That being said, having grown up east of Los Angeles playing with Mexican teammates whose passion for futbol inspired me at a very young age, as well as recently with Club Leon in Liga MX, I always have had a strong connection and respect for our neighbor.

“Since the (United States) sadly is not participating in the 2018 World Cup, I am supportive of our CONCACAF rivals and would like to see them do well. If others disagree that is their prerogative; but similar to how the US Soccer Federation, the Canadian Soccer Association and the Federacion Mexicana de Futbol joined together in the United Bid to bring the 2026 World Cup to North America, I believe in supporting each other and building bridges, not barriers.”

Take that Taylor Twellman.

Africa getting its kicks

If black Americans want to root for a team other than America or Mexico, five nations from the continent of Africa are represented at the World Cup in Russia.

Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia are in the tournament that captures the world’s attention and – it bears repeating - a tournament in which mighty America failed to qualify.

No Africa team has won the title in the 88-year run of the World Cup, which is played every four years. Ghana 2010, Senegal 2002 and Cameroon 1990 have reached the quarterfinals.

Senegal coach Aliou Cisse said, “I have the certainty that one day an African country will win the World Cup.”

“It takes time, we have realities that are not there in other continents. But we have a lot of quality and I'm sure that one day, African teams will be able to win tournaments like Brazil and Germany.

“We have no inferiority complex with European countries; you see lots of Africa players at major clubs.”

The Nigerian Super Eagles are zoned in Group D against Argentina, Iceland and Croatia. Tunisia is in Group G with Belgium, Panama and England.

Morocco is in Group B with Iran, Portugal and Spain. Egypt is with host Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay in Group A. Senegal is in Group H with Poland, Colombia and Japan.

Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and appears monthly on “The Dave Glover Show” on 97.1 Talk.” His Twitter handle is @aareid1.

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