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Despite shortcomings, Snow a proven leader



Published: Sat, October 28, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The defense-oriented point guard is an extremely durable player.

MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE

CLEVELAND -- Eric Snow is perhaps as well rounded and well read as anyone in the NBA.

In the past, NBA general managers have voted him the player most likely to become a future head coach. He has been to the Finals on two different teams.

He has been a part of the core, anchored by LeBron James, that turned around the Cavaliers from a losing team into a 50-win team over the last two years.

By coach Mike Brown's admission, Snow was about the only player he could count on each night on the defensive end.

Brown trusted/needed Snow enough to have him guard star players from Dirk Nowitzki to Tracy McGrady to Gilbert Arenas. Snow has also only missed one game in the past four years and has been the most durable Cav over the last two years.

Yet because of his style of play, Snow is often the subject of criticism from fans and media.

Most of the focus is on his age (33), his offensive ability (4.8 points per game last season) or his contract ( 6 million this season and 14 million over the next two seasons).

With so much attention on the Cavs this season, even more of a spotlight has been on Snow and his perceived shortcomings, especially leading up to Wednesday's season opener against the Washington Wizards.

"It has been something that has been said since I was a freshman [at Michigan State]," Snow said.

"It is unfortunate, but I still have a job to do. If people don't like what I do or what I'm doing, that's up to Dan Gilbert, Danny Ferry and Mike Brown to make a change."

No change ahead

There is no change in the offing. He started the last 225 games he played with the Philadelphia 76ers, but Snow lost the point guard job to Jeff McInnis after being traded to the Cavs.

By the end of the season, McInnis had been benched and Snow was in the lineup.

Then the Cavs signed Damon Jones, who had starter for the Miami Heat, and Snow beat him out in last season's training camp.

Still, most preseason publications have cited Snow and the Cavs' backup point guards Jones and David Wesley as the team's weakest links.

"With LeBron, Drew [Gooden] and [Zydrunas Ilgauskas], the backcourt isn't our strength," Snow said. "We won 50 times last year, maybe I had something to do with the 32 losses and not the wins."

Snow is used to it. One of his favorite things to do is ask people to try to name players other than himself and Allen Iverson who were on the 2000-01 Sixers team that won 56 games and made the Finals.

His point is usually made: key players on that team were overlooked and criticized at times that season. Which is why he isn't letting a new round bother him too much.

"Everybody has been writing the same stuff every year. [The media] wrote it when I was in Seattle, when I was in Philly and now," Snow said.

"I guess it will stop when I retire. It can't bother me because it won't stop. I don't need any credit, it is given by whether your team believes in you."




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