- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Rookies selected in the second round typically aren’t expected to serve in leadership roles.
Then again, Bernard James will be far from the typical NBA rookie. The big man from Florida State is a 27-year-old former Air Force staff sergeant who served tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and Qatar.
Needless to say, the Mavs like the defensive-minded center’s discipline and toughness, as is the case with fellow second-round pick Jae Crowder, a rugged small forward whom coach Rick Carlisle praised as “one of the two or three hardest-playing players in the draft.”
And James, who planned to return to the Air Force as a commissioned officer before the NBA became a realistic goal, certainly has proven that he has the steady but firm hand of a leader.
“I think I was pretty fair with my guys,” James said of his Air Force leadership experience. “But sometimes, you get a knucklehead and you got to put the smackdown on him.”
Sounds like the Mavs could have used James during Josh Howard’s days in Dallas, huh?