Jeff Pendergraph, in his first season in the NBA, is already one of the more interesting characters playing for the Trail Blazers. Smart and outgoing with just a bit of crazy mixed in, Pendergraph has assumed the role of quirky post player with Arizona ties that was vacated when Channing Frye left Portland for Phoenix.
To get a better grasp on what makes Pendergraph (also known as JP) tick, we'll check in with the rookie from time to time in a occasional series known henceforth as "Jeff Pender-graphs".
Jeff Pendergraph has a hard time keeping his tongue in his mouth. That’s not a metaphor for trash talking (something Pendergraph will indulge in from time to time); he literally sticks his tongue out while on the court, and quite often at that. Check out the photomontage over yonder if you need proof.
(By the way, this seems to be a somewhat common habit of young players involved with the Trail Blazers
It’s not that he’s trying to be impolite. His mother, who Pendergraph refers to as “the boss,” raised him right. And he’s not trying to necessarily “be like Mike.” For JP, sticking out his tongue is a habit born out of the intense focus that has helped him get into the league.
“That’s something that I’ve always done,” said Pendergraph in between demonstrating the different ways he sticks out his tongue in various scenarios. “When I’m thinking real hard or doing homework (well, I don’t do homework anymore) I always bite down on my tongue. It’s like a concentration thing.”
Usually that concentration is spent on figuring out the best way to tear the rim off the backboard, a goal Pendergraph seems rather eager to accomplish.
The habit seems harmless enough, save for the possibility of Pendergraph accidentally biting his tongue in half. But as it turns out, Pendergraph has already thought of that scenario, and has taken the necessarily precautions to make sure no one will ever be subjected to that scene.
“Why do you think I wear a mouthpiece?” said Pendergraph. “I can bite down as hard as I want and nothing happens.”