Matt Walsh was a Baller

We’re all on the same team here, right? I mean we all write for the same website. We all root for the same team. We’re all good people. But I’m sorry, I could not let the idiocy I’ve read lately stand without a proper apology to our handful of readers.

We’re Gators. We don’t HATE anyone that has ever put on a Gators uniform, barring murder, rape or FSU graduate school (do they have post-grad programs in the circus tent?). So it was quite shocking when I saw the article last week about Brett Nelson. Of course Nelson was a big disappointment in his time in Gainesville. That much is obvious. But to suggest throwing batteries at Nelson? If it was a joke, I guess I got a chuckle out of it.

But the words about Nelson weren’t enough to incite me to Bourbon Meyer writer-on-writer crime. I assumed it was just an overstatement, all in good fun, nothing too incendiary. I mean Nelson went from a 15-per-game scorer to just six in his final season not because he slacked off or got lazy. His shot abandoned him and yet no one spent more time in the gym shooting jumpers. He still worked hard and was obviously well loved by his teammates and coaches, as evidenced by his employment by former assistants Donnie Jones and John Pelphery. But whatever, I wasn’t going to say a word.

Then part two of this genius hook of “all hated” Gators was just too damn ignorant for me to ignore. Matt Walsh is still one of my all-time favorites. When he wore orange and blue, he was everything we Gators love. He could ball. He was a winner. He was cocky. He was fearless. He had a funky look. And he bagged some hot chicks (are you really hating on the guy for hitting this?). Walsh played with passion and hustle every night. He wasn’t the most athletic guy on the court but he was able to make huge shots, slashing through the lane, contorting his body or pulling up behind the arc. Walsh filled the stat sheet as well as any wing player ever has for the Gators. And although the team struggled in the NCAA Tournament in his three seasons (the loss in 2005 to Villanova wasn’t a bad loss), Walsh was the MVP of the Gators first-ever SEC Tournament championship. And if you think Florida goes on to win back-to-back national titles without getting over that SEC Tournament hump, you are a moron. Billy and the Oh-Four’s have admitted as much. Walsh, with David Lee and Anthony Roberson, provided a huge bridge from the Mike Miller era Final Four team to the Oh-Four’s era.

The non-sensical ramblings comparing Walsh to Noah, or claiming Walsh failed because he couldn’t win in March despite the great talent around him blow me away. Walsh was amazing as a freshman and can hardly be blamed for the Gators losing to Tom Izzo’s Spartans in the tourney in Matt Bonner, Justin Hamilton and Brett Nelson’s senior years. And in 2004-2005, as mentioned the Gators won the SEC tourney and lost to a very strong Villanova team, while Noah, Horford, et al, were barely used.

Hating Walsh because he was born with a silver spoon… well, do you hate Rex Grossman? Walsh and Grossman had pretty similar upbringings and careers at UF.

And one last thing before I call it a night… I’d cut off my left nut right now to have a Gators team with a Brett Nelson or a Matt Walsh that was GUARANTEED to defend the home court, win 20-25 games and get to the NCAA Tournament. As we’ve seen the last three years, it just isn’t that easy.

I guess I’ve ranted enough. I’m sure the author didn’t think very hard about what he was doing or he would have realized Gators don’t hate Gators. And I’m sure if he had a little more time to reflect, he’d realize that Brett Nelson and Matt Walsh both deserve love and respect from Gator Nation, depsite disappointing endings to their careers. Hopefully, we’ve seen the last of this gimmick on a pro-Gators website.

Go Gators!!

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