When prompted most NBA fans will recall Reggie Evans' decision to assault Chris Kaman in a playoff game and Ernie Johnson's subsequent, ill-fated attempt to popularize "the cookie jar" as a term. However, few people realize that though Evans avoided suspension for his controversial maneuver, the former Iowa standout was placed on double secret probation shortly thereafter. In fact the very notion that the NBA even had the Animal House inspired form of probation was one of the best secrets in all of professional sports until documents surfaced describing it in full detail in the aftermath of the Tim Donaghy scandal. Yet even in the face of the widely circulated documents that outlined several examples of players who have earned the dubious status - World B Free (unauthorized name change), John Stockton (ridiculously short shorts), Antoine Walker (the Walker Wiggle), Shawn Kemp (flagrant disregard for Chris Gatling's career (#s 5 and 1) and numerous other "minor detriments to the league's image" - the NBA refuses to acknowledge the existence of its double secret probation program. When finally asked about it following his most recent All Star weekend state of the NBA address commissioner David Stern scoffed at the notion and quipped, "If I'm Dean Wormer who is Bluto Blutarsky - Glen Davis?"* Regardless of Stern's repeated denials it now appears that the NBA instituted this form of punishment 25 years ago. Essentially anytime a player acts in a way that does not warrant a suspension but "really annoys the commissioner" he is eligible for double secret probation, which lasts for two years. At the conclusion of the two years a player can be removed, provided he has made the necessary adjustments and behaved well on and off the court. In fact the aforementioned Stockton is the only player to have his double secret probation extended due to his steadfast commitment to short shorts.
This brings us to Evans whose two-year run on double secret probation could end in the just over a month. Unfortunately for the 76ers rebounding fanatic, those close to him think that an extension is imminent. Their belief is not unfounded for even though his behavior during games has been exemplary, several off the court incidents significantly hurt Evans' case. The first occurred at a practice in December of 06'. During a scrimmage the rebound obsessed Evans, who once corralled 25% of shots missed during his minutes (2005), was attempting to grab every errant shot. To that end he took it upon himself to box out Marcus Camby, Nene and Carmelo Anthony every time down the court, although to be fair Anthony's efforts on the glass, particularly the defensive, were minimal at best. Still Evans was dominating until Earl Boykins swooped in and grabbed the final rebound of the scrimmage before wind sprints commenced. The rest of the Nugges knew the diminutive Boykins was in trouble, mainly because Evans repeatedly shouted, "I'ma kill him! He's the grinch! He tried to steal my Christmas!" throughout the sprints. Luckily George Karl was able to calm Evans down, citing the strict homicide laws that exist in the United States in the process. Having just signed Evans to a multi-year extension the previous September the Nuggets organization decided to side with the power forward and traded Boykins away to the Milwaukee Bucks within a month. However, the following September (2007) a similar incident occurred when Evans got into a dispute with Allen Iverson over a rebound in a pick up game. The infuriated Evans said at the time, "I got rid of Boykins, I'll get rid of you too." This statement revealed a complete misunderstanding by Evans of is value to the organization and within 24 hours he was on a plane to Philadelphia.
Having said all that, the straw that broke the camel's back most likely occurred on Sunday March 23, 2008. After grabbing a mere 9 rebounds in each of back-to-back games against the Orlando Magic and New Jersey Nets Evans was late for the team's departure to Boston. The organization was furious with his tardiness and then dismayed by his excuse. Evans, despondent about not recording double digit rebounds in his previous two games, wandered the streets in a daze until he stumbled into a church league game. Once there he saw missed shot after missed shot and few if any rebounds. Shots clanked off the rim and then bounced off players before rolling out of bounds. After five minutes Evans could not take it anymore and threw himself into the fray, much to the horror of the parents in attendance. One parent who wished to remain anonymous said, "I know my son isn't a great rebounder, but he's 12!" That same parent reported that Evans intimidated everyone involved - coaches, players, fans, referees and the guy running the clock - to let the game go as planned. He then proceeded to dominate, grabbing an astronomical 35 rebounds in 6 minutes of play, prior to the arrival of the police. Fortunately for Evans he was able to sign a few autographs and avoid arrest. However, he held up his real team's departure for Boston and most likely raised the ire of David Stern once again. Although as expected calls to the commissioner's office were not returned. Stay tuned.
*Both Davis and representatives from the Boston Celtics refused to comment on the commissioner's hurtful analogy, probably out of fear of being placed on double secret probation.