Back for more? Or just looking to reminisce of the old times? Maybe it’s a sympathizing with wishful thinking kind of night? If your answer was one or all of the above, then stick around. You didn’t ask for it, but you sure got it; my added chapter to the ten things I miss most in sports.
6. The NBA as finesse sport
For your information, when James Naismith invented basketball in 1891, he intended the true nature of the sport to be a conditioning sport so that his football players could stay in shape. And no, that didn’t include keeping their bruises in full swing. We can date this problem back to the origin of the original “Bad Boys” of the league in Detroit…but the problem hasn’t curbed itself. It’s gotten worse. What can we attribute to this? Well, to properly tell this, I need to tell a story of my own.
When I was in little league baseball, all the rage was Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa and the battle for the home run record (unfortunately, this turned out to be between a couple of cheaters). Moving on, if you can remember, neither of the sluggers were terribly familiar with their past fundamentals. They both liked to swing for the dirt to access a deeper power. What did we as middle schoolers deduct? To be a pro ball player, you had to simply follow success. Not the case, I might add, and our coach tried and tried to get us to ignore that stuff. The point of my tale? Just because it’s done by a pro, doesn’t mean it’s right. Lately, I’ve turned on to European basketball due to the fact that they play the sport the way it’s meant to be. Yeah, I said it. I like watching organized basketball. Not a bunch of overpaid street thugs who “learned” basketball on the city basketball court. Organized basketball and yard ball are two completely different things. Let’s show some respect for the real sport.
Adam Silver could make a change. He has the potential to cut the fat, unwanted crap out of the sport. He has a chance to change basketball forever. He could enforce the fouls being called. If the guy tackles you, eject him. If he is ejected, automatic three game un-paid suspension. Call 100 fouls a game. It can be done. Will they? Probably not. Because the game is not played in high school gyms anymore. It’s played among the cold, malicious, off-track courts.
You want real basketball? Go to rural, mid-western, small town high school U.S.A. and that is where you will find the true meaning of basketball. I’m talking popcorn for a dollar, smells for free, pep-band playing, wooden bleacher basketball. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, at least rent the sports classic “Hoosiers”. Maybe that’ll get through to someone. I think I can sum up this entire article with the closing scene of Blue Chips, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HIUkUm0440. Next question.
5. Deserting college early for a payday is NOT an option…in any respect
The problem is not a hard one to figure out. As I referenced before, the challenge in basketball is the failure of the NCAA to properly prepare individuals for 1. the real world and 2. life after college. Both of which will come about one day. The NCAA has purposefully voided the future of students they “care about” to see to it their wallets enhance. If you don’t believe me, reference the entirety of Blue Chips (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109305/). A movie made twenty years ago addressed two common problems in non-professional sports; deserting the team who worked so hard to recruit you, used a scholarship on you, and built you up to what you are now is the hand that has just been bitten. But people ask, can you honestly blame the kids? Yes. You sure as hell can. Isn’t that how we learn anyways? From our mistakes and injustice? It is a sickening disgrace and a belief of untold ignorance for young men to think they can handle the chiseled, veteran responsibility it takes to play in professional sports. And yes, the responsibility of a celebrity athlete has its own untold burdens. You can barely write, but yet make what some of us will never seen in one lifetime as a yearly salary. This, folks, is what we call a broken system.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a true believer in a collegiate athlete being required to go the ENTIRE four years that they promised the university who worked so hard to get them there. You committed to X University. Committed. Not “we’ll see who’s going to pay me after this year” commitment. But here’s an inside scoop as to why they leave short of their commitment: they weren’t raised on honor, commitment, or values of any type. That’s where our problem lies. Again, it comes down to the environment a person comes from. If you weren’t taught it, how are you supposed to know? Easy. Reference the definition and teach yourself. It needs to be done.
Still think it is useless to go to college for an entire four years of sports, which is what you promised a university? Still think man-children should be able to make their own choices? Then let me leave you with this: College is where you go to learn. The real world is where you go to grow up. Without one, you cannot do the other.
4. The (Lack of) Media Involvement
Not all of them, but some announcers these days are just horrid. Exceptionally horrid. Even the color commentators these days seem to feed into the hype of one player instead of emphasizing the concept of a team. When you always talk about LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dez Bryant, or even Russell Wilson, what are you really contributing? I’ll take that rhetorical question. You are feeding the mind of that nine year old that “you don’t have to rely on a team for anything, because they aren’t the ones getting talked about on SportsCenter after the game.” When guys like John Madden, Bob Knight, Keith Jackson, or even Pat Summerall spoke, all ears are up. They didn’t single out individuals, they referenced teams. They gave the weekly standard shout out to 90 yard run, of course. But then said “brought to you by” your offensive line. Because without them, you would be in the dirt.
Same goes for basketball. All the media likes to do anymore is bring up one guy. I absolutely despise Dick Vitale for this. I know, I know, you’re fun and cheeky. You’re the outspoken old guy who gives that vintage edge to the new, robust entertainment industry. Yawn. Want to know a fun fact? Without the deep bench, rotating hall of fame players around him, and THE best NBA coach ever, Michael Jordan wouldn’t of been anything but another retiree. Jordan should call his old team up every day and remind them “Hey guys, I just wanted to say thanks for giving me all..this. Without you, I wouldn’t be one of the greatest ever.” And especially thank Phil Jackson and Tex Winter for giving him a playbook designed specifically for him. Some guys get all the breaks. That’s why Larry Bird and John Stockton will always be my favorites. They did it all…with less. We saw how less with less did for Jordan in Washington.
Insert Lebron James. Lebron, why would you EVER go back to Cleveland? You got your “decision” just how you wanted it: annoying and gaudy. Not to mention these are the fans that booed you off the court multiple times. Yeah, sounds like a home to me. An orphanage, maybe. Alas, the media strikes again, feeding the undeveloped mind that they don’t need a team or a contract. They can just call up their boys and make up a team to play on. Even grandpa Stern addressed the issue and found no cause for investigation. So tampering and collusion are only extended to non-players? You could not have done a worse thing, David. You just gave your stamp of approval to form “super teams”, regardless of any new CBA. Furthermore, you just enforced the sentence prior. Don’t worry about the team concept, just worry about making the SportsCenter highlight reel. After all, isn’t that how true players are measured?
My original solution was to cut media interaction with ALL players in half, but all that would do is get me laughed at. Instead, I recommend that we cut to the previous issue addressed: staying in school. Maybe that would contribute to the decrease of a massive amount of uneducated punks making larger than life decisions at 20 years old. Or should we leave the real rules up to the real adults, David?
Bottom line: There is no bigger value than teaching your kids the value of right and wrong. The media/hype is never worth the time. ALWAYS honor your opponent, and that a commitment is just that…a commitment. If you don’t think these qualities are necessary, not just for professional athletes everywhere, but for kids to learn in general…then what are you even doing with your life? We can armchair this thing all we want, but in the end it comes down to curbing your attitude in light of respect for yourself, others, and the game for which you are lucky enough to play for profit. Something I think this nation as a whole has lost recently.
Stay tuned for the final chapter to The Case Files.
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