Why Derrick Nix is right and wrong on disrespect toward Spartans

Derrick Nix finally let it out Thursday, saying what he really thought about how Michigan State’s players are perceived — under appreciated, disrespected — compared to some of their upper-tier Big Ten brethren.

It’s one of the personality traits I like best about Nix. He’s genuine, says what’s on his mind. More players should do it. The repercussions are rarely serious and Nix probably sleeps better because of it.

“I take it personally,” Nix said “Everyone saying Michigan this, Michigan that, and they don’t give us no credit.”

[Here's the full story from colleague Joe Rexrode]

Nix said if Michigan would have won Tuesday, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway “would have been God. … We won and they didn’t even show our highlights.”

Nix also sounded off the how the Spartans are perceived as NBA prospects.

“I don’t know if it’s us as players, I don’t know if it’s Michigan State, I don’t know what it is. I just feel like none of us get credit. (Indiana’s Victor) Oladipo is no different than (Branden) Dawson. Dawson’s not on the draft board, Oladipo is in the top 15.

“Payne is 6-10, can do everything that (Cody) Zeller can do. He’s not on the draft board, Zeller is in the top 5. I mean, I can do everything Reggie Johnson from Miami can do. He’s on draft boards, I’m not. Keith (Appling) can do everything Trey Burke can do. Trey Burke’s in the top 5, Keith’s not. Gary (Harris) can do everything that (Shabazz) Muhammad from UCLA can do. He’s on draft boards, Gary’s not. We’re just, we’re underdogs.”

I agree with Nix on some of this. Michigan State has been much less talked about than Indiana or Michigan (though that will change, especially if MSU wins Tuesday against the Hoosiers).

A lot of that, I think, has to do with MSU’s success over the last 16 years. The Spartans aren’t a new story. Michigan and Indiana are. They’re storied programs that have come back from the dead and that makes them interesting.

And, in a national media world where a disabled cruise ship becomes the ONLY story on earth, most media brains apparently aren’t capable of looking deeper to find the new stories at a place like MSU.

On the NBA front, however, I only partially agree with Nix.

The Payne-Zeller difference is mostly about height — 6-foot-10 vs. 7-feet. But, as they are as players today, Zeller is overrated. He’s an NBA journeyman, unless he gets a ton stronger. And Payne has a chance to be a good 4-man at the next level. But, like Zeller, he’s not there yet.

The Nix-Johnson comparison is also a difference in height and wingspan. Johnson’s at least an inch taller, with a 7-2 wingspan. And even though he doesn’t have Nix’s court vision, that makes him a better prospect in the eyes of the NBA. There simply aren’t many 6-8, 6-9 centers at the next level. (Still, at worst, Nix is going to be making six-figures, tax-free, playing in a top league overseas; not a bad way to spend your 20s.)

Oladipo and Dawson are different players — one a guard, the other a forward. Oladipo is more electrifying and, to this point, plays with a more consistent motor. But if Dawson’s ball-handling and shooting continue to improve, as they have, he’ll be a first-round NBA prospect.

Comparing Harris with Muhammad is all about height, even if their listed heights were true. Harris is 6-4 (really closer to 6-2) and Muhammad is listed at 6-6. That’s a substantial difference in the world of NBA 2-guards.

I think Harris will play in the NBA. But no matter what Chad Ford writes about Harris as a first-round prospect, I don’t see him leaving after this year, and maybe not early at all.

Lastly, the Appling-Burke comparison …

Appling is a fantastic college player and maybe a 10-year NBA guy, but most likely as a backup point guard. Burke is likely something more. I don’t think he’s over-hyped at all. As a college player, Appling undoubtedly is among the elite and absolutely underrated (See any comparison, ever, with Aaron Craft.).

Regardless, it was a refreshing take from Nix, who said what I think a lot of us sometimes think.

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17 Responses to Why Derrick Nix is right and wrong on disrespect toward Spartans

  1. avatar MAB says:

    Are you saying Appling is undoubtedly over-hyped as a college player?

  2. avatar G&W Roses says:

    appling is undoubtedly what?

    yes, very refreshing to see someone as real as Nix come out and say this.

    • avatar Graham Couch says:

      I cut off my initial thought there. It’s fixed.

      • avatar Spartan 81 says:

        Graham, would you be interested in talking with Earvin for five minutes before the game Tuesday ? You could ask him if he feels Ponchos kids are overlooked due to market share
        Compared to the household name brands. Izzo once said Earvin takes the time to learn the hight school stats of the freshman each year.

  3. avatar Jody Mack says:

    Derek work to improve. Marketing isn’t what they see on the next level. It’s skill set. I agree with what you said about Zeller and Payne but focus on what you can control and be consistant. The media sells papers, internet articles, and magazines. How many have you ever seen in the IM hooping or playing in the Bres in the summer? I’ll rest my case. Focus on willing the National championship. Everything else will take care of itself. Your effort against UM is what you should strive for the rest of the season.

  4. avatar msu76 says:

    Speaking of disrespect for a Spartan (and I think the former shoe-shine boy from the UP gets plenty of national love), ESPN.com just rated the 75 best NCAA tournament players of all time. Magic is #5. I can’t really quibble w/Bill Russell, Bill Walton & Lew Alcindor being rated higher, but they also have him behind Christian Laetner. Stupid!

    • avatar CSpartan says:


      Sorry, name anyone older than 10 years old who doesn’t think that Magic vs. Bird was the best NCAA final ever…

      Love and respect to all the others…1979 championship changed basketball for a generation and brought marketability and hype to a previously untouched sport and a rivalry that carried over to the NBA for another generation to enjoy.

  5. avatar Rob Yelvington says:

    Derrick Nix has come along way since he was this doughy non-running, free throw bricking freshman. You can thank Coach Izzo for sticking with him. I hope he makes it to the NBA and collects that big paycheck.

    He has great hands and great feet for a big guy. And he’s flawed and works daily to overcome his flaws. Two things you cannot coach.

  6. avatar Jody says:

    Yes he has improved. I first saw him at Murray Wright. I’m just saying control what you can control. He can’t control who writes what about beating UM. You can instill work ethic into a kid as he becomes an adult. I am proud of how hard he has worked and his contributions. But again handle what you can influence.

  7. avatar A very ProCouch poster says:

    I think we have seen the last of the Anti Couch his silence indicates his approval of Graham’s piece tonight.

  8. avatar Trophy says:

    I’ve always luv’d Nix, check out my posts for the last 3 years. He plays better every game. He’s correct about perception, that’s why there are so many walmart wolvies. Spartans are the hard working regular folk who achieve continued success because of their hard work. We love our Spartan athletes because they are like us, not privileged, just regular people who seize the opportunity they are given, and realize that success comes from dedication, focus, and hard work. We success know it’s not a gift. It’s OK to have a chip on your shoulder, that’s what makes me get up earlier every day and work harder than my competition. I would hire Derek any day, he’s my kind of guy, a great Spartan!!

    • avatar Spartan 81 says:

      Could not agree more Trophy, and thats why our athletes keep coming back, you never see reunion games like that at Ann Arbor. I remember thirty years ago Michigan students would complain it was cuthroat and no one would help anyone out academically.

  9. avatar A very ProCouch poster says:

    The Anti Couch is wrong about this blog, 12 posts here 14 on the last thread. Back to back double digits posts. Spartan Nation is coming aboard this blog with or without the Anti Couch, the numbers prove it.

    • avatar A very anti Couch poster says:

      Considering that half the posts are by the same people, I don’t think so there bunkie. My only point is to point out how poorly Cracker is representing LSJ and covering the Spartans.

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