Tag Archives: basketball
Read in reverse order. I am very happy that my favorite person on Twitter is alive. The mythical Boston Celtic fan has been missing in action for a long time. thank you is ron.
On Basketball Coaching
March-June is college/pro basketball at its best. A lot of people only worship at one of the churches, I happily switch back and forth.
An observation. There is zero correlation between how successful a person was as a player and how successful they are as a coach. Examples are everywhere, but Patrick Ewing’s Big East Georgetown record of 0-19 is one particularly glaring one*.
In fact, if you compare former top college and pro player coaches versus all the remaining ones, I’ll bet you come up with a negative correlation.
Which begs the question, why? When Magic Johnson quickly flamed out as the Lakers coach, analysts said he had a hard time relating to the vast majority of ordinary players for whom the game didn’t come as easily. I also suspect, they get outworked by their less famous, less wealthy counterparts.
So wisen up athletic directors and pass on the former stars.
*For some strange reason(s), Ewing thinks he should be back next year.
Stat Of The Day
Once again, professional basketball division. As a sometimes Laker fan and all the time UCLA grad, this really pains me. Russell Westbrook was 4-24 from three in February. 16.7%. And last night he started March out 0-4. Maybe quit shooting them?
A lot of smart basketball people were skeptical of the 21-22 Lakers, but I don’t think anyone expected them to be this bad.
‘I Want To Play For You’
ESPN reports that five-star basketball recruit Patrick Baldwin Jr. has committed to Milwaukee of the Horizon League, spurning offers from the likes of Duke, Georgetown and Virginia to join his father Patrick Baldwin Sr., the Panthers’ head coach since 2017.
I’ve never heard of the Milwaukee Panthers, but I’m a fan of the Baldwins now.
“Baldwin recalled the moment he told his parents he was staying home and playing for Milwaukee.
‘I walked in the room and said, ‘I have something to share with you. I want to play for you.’ He gave me a hug, started crying and left the room,” Baldwin said. “My mom and dad left the decision up to me. They gave me insight during the process but left the decision up to me.'”
At 6’10”, Baldwin is a passer, ball handler, and perimeter shooter. Basketball is of course a team game; still, I expect the Panthers to win more than they lose next season.
Just Because You Can Afford To, Doesn’t Mean You Should
A picture of a neighbor’s property from this morning’s walk.
“Hey Ron, what’s the backstory of the University of Washington-painted tennis court/full basketball court with state-of-the-art plexiglass break-away rims?”
I’m glad you asked.
The owner, a friend of a friend who I have never met, bought this large wooded property a couple of years ago. And then proceeded to clear cut it. And then added a bunch of out-buildings and the primo lighted sport court for his children.
Granted I’m not omniscient, but I’ve never seen or heard the children using either of the courts. Which is why the lighting is a humorous touch, as if there’s not enough daylight to get in all the basketball and tennis the children want to play.
Meditating on that court this morning made me think of Venus and Serena growing up on Compton, California’s public tennis courts. Or any elite basketball player who routinely left their hood to find competitive games that helped them hone their skills.
But forget elite sports—whether college or pro—consider the opportunity costs, besides the obvious environmental ones of the clear cutting, of not having to play in public settings with a diverse assortment of other people. Some exceedingly difficult to get along with. Even though my parents could have afforded to, I’m glad they chose not to join a country club. I benefitted immensely from growing up on public golf courses, swimming in public pools, and playing on public tennis courts.
Like in public schools, places where I learned to mix it up with other kids. Which has proved extremely valuable throughout my life.
The Main Challenge For the Brooklyn Nets’ New Big Three
Jesse Washington says its character.
“In all fairness, there’s more to Harden’s and Irving’s character than basketball. Irving is a generous and passionate advocate for social justice. Harden helped buy food for 5,000 Houston families during the pandemic. But when it comes to their profession, they seem entitled. Which makes it hard for any partnership to work.”
Wednesday Required Reading
1. What if the Great American Novelist Doesn’t Write Novels? I need to see a lot more of Wiseman’s work, but the little bit I have seen makes me think that question is not at all hyperbolic.
“The fact that Wiseman’s half-century-long project is a series of cinéma-vérité documentaries about American institutions, their titles often reading like generic brand labels — ‘High School,’ ‘Hospital,’ ‘The Store,’ ‘Public Housing,’ ‘State Legislature’ — makes its achievement all the more remarkable but also easier to overlook. Beginning with ‘Titicut Follies’ (1967), a portrait of a Massachusetts asylum for the criminally insane that remains shocking to this day, Wiseman has directed nearly a picture a year, spending weeks, sometimes months, embedded in a strictly demarcated space — a welfare office in Lower Manhattan, a sleepy fishing village in Maine, the Yerkes Primate Research Center at Emory University, the flagship Neiman Marcus department store in Dallas, the New York Public Library, a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Tampa, Fla., a Miami zoo — then editing the upward of a hundred hours of footage he brings home into an idiosyncratic record of what he witnessed. Taken as a whole, the films present an unrivaled survey of how systems operate in our country, with care paid to every line of the organizational chart. They also represent the work of an artist of extraordinary vision. The films are long, strange and uncompromising. They can be darkly comic, uncomfortably voyeuristic, as surreal as any David Lynch dream sequence. There are no voice-overs, explanatory intertitles or interviews with talking heads, and depending on the sequence and our own sensibility, we may picture the ever-silent Wiseman as a deeply empathetic listener or an icy Martian anthropologist.”
2. Why Are Great Athletes More Likely To Be Younger Siblings?
“The roots of the little sibling effect may lie in the way younger siblings strive to match their older siblings on the field. This was the case with Michael Jordan, the youngest of the three Jordan boys and the fourth of the five Jordan children. When the siblings were growing up, Larry — who was born 11 months before Michael — was considered a better basketball player and regularly bested Michael in one-on-one games.
‘I don’t think, from a competitive standpoint, I would be here without the confrontations with my brother,’ Michael recalled in the ESPN documentary’ The Last Dance.’ ‘When you come to blows with someone you absolutely love, that’s igniting every fire within you. And I always felt like I was fighting Larry for my father’s attention. …
‘I want that approval. I want that type of confidence. So my determination got even greater to be as good, if not better than, my brother.'”
Alas, did not apply in my family. Oldest Brother routinely whipped my ass on golf courses and tennis courts alike. And Older Brother was a much better swimmer and water polo player.*
3. Amanda Seyfried Finally Stakes Her Claim. How to be wonderfully grounded, against the odds. Buy a farm.
4. Why Andy Mukherjee is losing hope in India. Given it’s impact on the planet, anyone who is not East-Indian owes to themselves to learn a lot more about India. This is an excellent start.
*that’s why this athletic accomplishment was so gratifying
Book of the Week—Geezerball
I’m on a nice little reading roll, meaning a book a week. This week I cheated though when I subbed in a fun, short read, for a long, dryish, academic one that I was plodding through.
Geezerball: North Carolina Basketball at its Eldest (Sort of a Memoir) by Richie Zweigenhaft tells the story of the Guilford College noon pickup basketball game that I played in between 1993-1998 when I taught at the “small Quaker college”. The game is 44 years old and counting and some of the participants have been playing most or all of those years. One of the game’s mottos is “You don’t stop playing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop playing.”
Richie, also known as “The Commissioner” is an accomplished author of several books on diversity in the American power structure. Now 75 years young, he’s the glue that’s held the game together over the decades.
Geezerball prompted a lot of reminiscing about those years and reflection on what’s most important in life. I remember 11 of the 29 players on the current geezer email list which is pretty remarkable given how bad I am with names. It also speaks to the game’s stability and what demographers have been telling us for awhile—that Americans aren’t moving nearly as much as in the past.
The game combines two of the very few things upon which most medical doctors and social scientists respectively agree—the importance of exercise to our physical health and the importance of close interpersonal relationships to our mental health.
“My wife says she expects to get a call one day saying I’ve died on the basketball court,” one geezer writes in the book. “If that happens, she’ll know I died happy.” In actuality, the game is probably extending the life of the participants. Even more importantly, it’s adding tremendously to the quality of their lives. Their friendships, and the humor that marks their interactions, are testaments to the power of community.
Among other remarkable aspects of the game is the fact that nearly all the participants are men. As a runner, I can’t help but notice more women running together; like the geezers, strengthening their bodies, their hearts, and their minds simultaneously. Same with the Gal Pal and her girlfriends who go on long walks every Saturday morning while catching up on the week’s events. I don’t know if it’s true, but it seems like men are more prone than women to prioritize their work lives, often to their own detriment. Given that, I find it inspiring that a dozen men in Greensboro, NC have been defying that norm every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 44 years.
The sort of memoir reminded me of exactly how cool of an addendum the game is to the participants’ lives. But now, upon further thought, I can’t help but wonder if when those men near the end of their lives, they’ll think of the game as one of the most essential parts of their lives, and their work as more of an addendum. Meaning, what if we all have it backwards? What if the GalPal’s Saturday morning walks, my Saturday morning group runs, my Tuesday and Thursday night group rides are the core and everything else is the periphery?
This line of thinking may be just one more example of my economic privilege at work, but I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we organized our lives around Geezerball-like communities, where we prioritized movement and friendship over material wealth and status? Put another way, how much is enough? When it comes to work hours and money, there’s always a point of diminishing returns. At a certain point, more work means more impoverished relationships with family and friends.
In contrast, when it comes to walking, running, cycling, swimming, surfing, or playing basketball or golf with friends, there is no point of diminishing returns. Our physical and mental health just keep improving. Our entire well-being. That’s the lesson of Geezerball.
More Zach Lowe Genius
Because you can only take so much of President Big Stuff, more of the most astute NBA analysis going.
On rookie Memphis point guard Ja Morant.
“Morant is real . . . Morant. . . is absolutely electric with the ball. When he gets a head of steam, he can finish right through bigger defenders:The league is awash in water bug point guards who get inside the foul line at will. What separates the greats is the ability to explode through traffic to the rim instead of settling for floaters. Morant has that extra gear.
Morant is shifty in tight spaces. He has a knack for changing speed and direction with an abruptness that confuses defenders. He already is smart about weaponizing his speed as an off-ball cutter.
Teams are going under picks and daring Morant to shoot 3s. He is accepting some of those invitations and is 12-of-29 from deep — great early signs.
Like almost every rookie point guard, Morant has a long way to go on defense. He has the tools and grit to grow into a plus on that end. In his third NBA game, Morant swatted Kyrie Irving’s game-winning attempt at the buzzer and talked all sorts of trash. He looks like a star in every sense.”
And what about De’Aaron Fox?
“I’m a De’Aaron Fox true believer, but Fox’s early-season defense was disappointing: He was flat-footed, upright in his stance, not as engaged as he needed to be.”
Proving no one’s perfect, Lowe shoulda used “is disappointing”, “is flat-footed”, and “he needs to be” since we’re still in the early going.
And on Laker cast off Moe Wagner:
“Wagner might. . . be the leagues’ cheeriest teammate. Basket mics constantly pick him up shouting encouragement at teammates. I would purchase a Moe Wagner Encouragement app that reinforced positive life behaviors: ‘You are killing it on the treadmill, Zach! Great job ordering salad instead of fries! You’re taking a lot of steps today, Zach! Keep it up!'”
Postscript: Richie Z, Guilford College noon ball legend, checks all of Morant’s boxes except the “all sorts of trash”. That can be learned though.