New Zealand Breakers coach Dan Shamir is sticking fat with Lamar Patterson, despite the prized import copping flak for his form and his figure.
Patterson was serviceable with 16 points in the Breakers' season-opening overtime loss to the Adelaide 36ers last Friday, but on Wednesday he played less than 15 minutes and was held scoreless as NZ again went down to the Sixers.
His out-of-shape physique attracted as much attention as his lack of production.
Former NBA centre Chris Anstey and NBL legend Derek Rucker labelled the American "unprofessional" while Australia's longest-serving basketball writer Boti Nagy said Patterson was "disrespecting himself, his team and the league" by entering the season so overweight.
"I believe in our team and I believe in Lamar," Shamir said of Patterson, an established star who was an All-NBL First Team selection in each of the past two seasons with Brisbane.
"He's so smart, he's one of the best passers, he's a mismatch when we played (against) him because of his size and his ability to play both the perimeter and in the low post.
"We know Lamar Patterson is a proven player, All-NBL for two years... it's been a dream for a long time for me to coach him."
Shamir needs Patterson, who played 44 NBA games for Atlanta, to improve his conditioning and output quickly, with the Breakers' season already teetering at 0-2.
"We all have to put in the work and figure out what's going on and why it is like that," he said.
"That doesn't exclude Lamar.
"One of the main factors for basketball players is being in elite shape.
"Hopefully we get him to the point that he plays his role in the team, which is huge.
"I've been in this situation before where it takes a little bit of time.
"We didn't expect it to be like that."
Australian Associated Press