OMG! Renaldo Balkman is back?!
Paul Lintag on Jan 02, 2018 12:56 PM
Before he found his way to the PBA and now with Alab Pilipinas in the ABL, Renaldo Balkman had two separate stints with the New York Knicks in the NBA. (AP)
Raise your hand if your initial reaction to the latest Alab Pilipinas news was "Oh my God, Renaldo Balkman is back?"
Balkman becomes the second banned PBA import to reinforce Alab in the current ABL season behind Ivan Johnson.
And for those not in the know or for those who simply forgot about the guy, Balkman's history is way more interesting than Johnson.
Johnson's PBA ban, which would later be dowgraded into a rather long suspension, came during his second season with TNT.
During his initial run with the then Tropang Texters, which ended with a Commissioner's Cup championship, Johnson had multiple run-ins with opponents, particularly head coach Yeng Guiao.
Before his second season officially started, he figured in a pre-season brawl and was already suspended one game. It was basically a ticking time bomb.
For Balkman, it was a little different.
Back when Petronovela was still a thing, Balkman starred for the Blaze Boosters, leading the team to a 5-1 record.
Winners of five straight games, that Petron team headed into its clash with the Alaska Aces, with an identical 5-1 record, looking for first place.
It didn't happen because Petron lost and Balkman's history changed forever.
Save for his headbutt on Greivis Vasquez during a game in the 2011 FIBA America's Championships, Balkman never really had a bad rep in his career prior to coming to the Philippines. His NBA Draft profile includes analysts praising his attitude and work ethic.
While he never found success with the New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets, he was balling when he came to the PBA, going for around 25 points, 13 rebounds, and almost three blokcs per game.
However, towards the end of that loss to the Aces, Balkman snapped.
After he never got the foul he thought he deserved with the game already decided, Balkman tried to plead his case to one referee.
And then another, and another one after that.
Things escalated rather quickly as Balkman continued to ask why no whistle was blown.
In the process, he ended up shoving one of his assistant coaches (Biboy Ravanes) and a teammate (Ronald Tubid).
Finally, the image of Balkman that's forever etched into the minds of everyone who pays attention to basketball in this side of the world is when he tried to choke Arwind Santos.
Yes, he actually tried to choke his own teammate. Balkman put his hand on Santos' neck and tried to choke him.
It was wild. And no, not the good kind.
In the aftermath of it all, Balkman did apologize to everyone concerned both in person and in social media.
Now he's back in the country to replace Johnson for Alab Pilipinas. Balkman will play his ABL debut Wednesday.
It will be interesting to see Balkman back in the Philippines for sure. For one thing, he should still be productive.
Second of all, his story for redemption is the main thing to watch out for. A changed man, it seems that Balkman wants to erase the bitter memory he left here in 2013.
"Five years to the day I did something I regret… Now, I finally have a chance for redemption," he said.
Catch Balkman and Alab Pilipinas tomorrow, January 3, as they take on the Westports Malaysia Dragon live 8 p.m. from the San Juan Arena. Coverage will be on S+A channel 23, S+A HD channel 166 and on via livestream.
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