30 second time outs

Monday, November 22, 2004

Basketball - back to our roots?

When Naismith invented the game at the old YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891, the game of basketball began. Given the cold Massachusetts winters, Naismith needed to find a recreational activity that could be played indoors and he preferred a sport that would develop skill and one that was not exclusively relying on strength. How far away from that have we gone. The game is very much about bigger, faster, and stronger. Now we need to add "smarter". We need to get back to the game of skill that Naismith intended.

Originally the game was going to be "Boxball" but the janitor didn't have any boxes. So the "baskets" became old peach baskets that the janitor nailed to the balcony railing (that coincidentally were 10 feet high).
Basketball in it's infancy was sometimes a rowdy game. Fans would try to reach over the running track (balcony) to deflect the shot (the basket was mounted on the facade of the overhead running track). And rowdy fans would throw things onto the court... so they erected chicken wire netting, or "cages" around the court to protect the game and players from the fans. The players then got the nickname of "cagers". The term is derived from the Trenton team which put a wire mesh between the floor and its fans after several ugly incidents in the game's early days. There are tales of fans in cramped gyms sticking players with hat pins, and lit cigarettes. In Pennsylvania coal towns, players were known to be subjected to nails heated with mining lamps. The chicken wire was soon replaced with a rope netting, off which the players bounced like prizefighters in a boxing ring. The cage also kept the ball from going out-of-bounds, thus quickening the pace of play. Maybe we are not so far from returning to our roots in that area as well.

The Pistons/Pacers fiasco could be the first step. Pacers forward, Ron Artest started the first wave of altercations with a hard foul on Piston center Ben Wallace. If you are the Defensive Player of the Year, go up and at least try to block it. Late in a game that had long since been decided. Why all of the starting lineups were still in is a mystery to me. Ben Wallace then retaliated with a severe push, threw no more punches and had no more contact with another Pacer. We next witnessed the typical sports altercation. Everyone standing around threatening everyone else and sticking up for their "manhood" while demonstrating little of it.

Now, initially, Artest's intelligence overcame his continued lack of composure and he CHOSE not to respond to Wallace's push (which is why he is healthy and still able to walk the streets and rap today). However when a meekly fan "attacked" him with a half empty plastic cup at him (and I'd like to be the attorney arguing against that as an "attack"), so NOW he's "disrespected". He CHOSE to go into the stands and escalate the event even further. Funny thing happened then - he went after the wrong guy. For attacking an "innocent" bystander I'm sure he'll lose a little more of his NBA money on top of the 5 million or so from the suspension without pay. Getting hit by a half empty plastic cup while you lay like a smart a** on a scorers table as if to say, everyone look at me, I"M not fighting", is hardly life threatening requiring self-defense. PLUS, he passed up three bigger guys to go after the scrawny fan that turned out not to be the one who threw te cup anyway.

Self-defense and retaliation are two different things. Self -defense is when there is imminent and immediate danger and a reasonable belief that the other party intended to inflict great bodily harm or death. I'm not sure that a half empty plastic cup thrown from several rows away is danger of any kind. What Artest did was retaliation.

Jackie Robinson had to deal with 100 times worse. Did he ever do any such thing? Ever hear fans at an event yell at referees? I'm certain they've had things thrown at them. I would bet that you could find several instances of attorneys being vilified by courtroom spectators or outside protestors after unfavorable verdicts. Probably even had things thrown at them. Yet I do not ever remember hearing of any attorney turning around and attacking those mentioned in the courtroom. And if they did, I'd bet they'd be fired by the firm. Or most probably disbarred.

Stephen Jackson, under the guise of "helping a member of his family", went into the stands - AND RAN RIGHT PAST a swarmed Artest (some help he was), punching another fan not even involved in that altercation. If you look at the tape it was he who really escalated the matter with all the jawing during the typical pro athlete standoff at center court. His 30 games may not have been enough.

Jermain O'Neal's 25 games are about the same as Kermit Washington got for punching Rudy Tomjanovich in an attempt to protect Kareem Abdul Jabbar. If O'Neal threw the same punch at a player in the context of a game, it would have been less. O'neals punch may have been the most dangerous, but it happened in "his domain" on the court - where the players are supposed to be. For that reason O'Neal's suspension may be a litle harsh, even though he tried to get in the stands he can't be punished for something "he wanted to do". In this case it was the fans on the court that were in the wrong the most and put themselves in harms way. The fan O'Neal punched may have been a little defenseless (he was getting up off of the ground-that may have been factored in). But how does a player know that it is not a Monica Seles (tennis player who was stabbed by a fan) or Tom Gamboa (Kansas City Royals 1st base coach who was attacked by fans on the field).

Ben Wallace retaliated and pushed someone who fouled him, and got 6 games (the same as Rick Fox got when he fought Christie) Wallace. Probably happens a once a week in the NBA. And then he threw a towel. Can't suspend him more for that. You have to punish the action for what it was - not how everyone else reacted to it. That's why he didn't get more. Stern issued a suspension based on those events. It could be argued that he got too much. Did anyone see the Chicago/Washington brawl IN THE PRESEASON! On 10/27/04 The NBA suspended Brendan Haywood (Was) for 3 games, Antonio Davis (Chi) for 2 games, Eddy Curry (Chi) for 2 games, and Larry Hughes (Was) for 1 games and fined Kirk Hinrich (Chi) $10,000 for their involvement in the melee during the Chi-Was game. The suspensions started with the beginning of the regular season. Haywood was WAAAAY more out of control than Wallace. It is all about consistency and precedent that determines the length of suspensions. The NBA came down with the fines and suspensions for a fight in the Lakers-Chicago game on 1/14/02. Shaquille O'Neal (LAL) was fined $15,000 and suspended 3 games for throwing punches at Brad Miller after O'Neal was fouled hard by Miller and Charles Oakley. Sounds like the same thing that Wallace did, doesn't it? So Wallace's suspension was about right.

The most overlooked aspect of the rumble, and maybe the most shocking was the behavior of Rasheed Wallace. He was a major peacmaker throughout the altercation, on the court and in the stands. BIG props to Rasheed. I have always respected his game but have NEVER been a fan of his attitude. He was the calmest person involved. In Portand, he would have been in the stands throwing punches right along with everybody else. It shows that players CAN change given the right circumstances. Lets hope Artest does.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Credit where credit is due….To the NBA

One of my favorite reads every couple of days is Blog Maverick - www.blogmaverick.com.
It is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban's, (almost)daily blog. Like him or not (and I do) Cuban is usally right on with his thoughts commments. Or at least he and I just agree. Here is what he says,

"Thank you David Stern. Thank you Ronnie Nunn. Thank you Stu Jackson. Because of the initiative and action taken by the NBA to call the game by the rules as written, we have the seen the game become much more free flowing, and as a result the scoring is way, way up , reversing a long trend of decline.

I know that Ronnie Nunn and Stu Jackson put in a lot of hours going through tape, coming to the realization, correctly so, that contact on the perimeter slows down play, impacts shooting percentage and gives the defense an advantage that shouldnt be there.

I know there are some playground purists that think the league 'should let them play'. Suggesting that if there isnt a turnover or blood caused by contact that its ok. Honestly, there is no commentary in all of NBA punditry that is stupider. The ironic thing is that those same people who call out for 'let them play', are usually the same ones who consider themselves basketball purists.

Well guess what guys. Playing basketball 'the right way', to quote Larry Browns now popular phrase, means a defender should be in a defensive stance, moving his feet, arms extended, keeping his man in front of him. Playing defense the right way is not compensating for lack of defensive desire or skill by bumping , pushing, grabbing and stiff-arming. A defender does these things to compensate for lack of ability to keep up with the offensive player. There isnt a single instance of defensive contact that isnt an effort to impede an offensive player and gain an advantage."...read the rest here, and I'd suggest that you visit often.

Friday, November 05, 2004

SI.com - Seeking edge, college hoop teams try out video game

The future is NOW!

As I was "blogging yesterday about
Basketball4all's involvement with the ACE IntelliGymtm around the world other news agencies were posting this article on their websites:

"MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Memphis forward Simplice Njoya sat hunched over a laptop, testing an theory first studied on Israeli fighter pilots.

The premise: Skills he picks up playing a complex computer game can make him a better basketball player.

'The theory is, it's going to be the weight room for the brain,'' Memphis assistant coach Ed Schilling said.

The on-screen action looks nothing like a basketball game but is designed to work on the visual and decision-making skills a player needs. Basketball programs at Memphis and Kentucky are testing the game to see if it gives players an edge.

Called IntelliGymtm, the game was created by Israeli company
Applied Cognitive Engineering Inc."....read more

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Basketball for ALL endorses the ACE IntelliGym

Basketball for ALL endorses the ACE IntelliGym:

"How many times do you see a player and say, "he ...really has court sense"...sees the floor"...understands the game"...or...has a high basketball IQ"? If you're like me, not often enough.

In the '60's and '70's basketball training was all about fundamental skill aquisition and footwork. In the '80's and '90's it was about physical training and getting bigger, stronger , faster. Now it's time to address the final frontier..the brain!

ACE (Applied Cognitive Engineering) has developed a revolutionary training tool that enables basketball players to dramatically improve their game-intelligence skills. The ACE IntelliGymtm directly stimulates the brain-functions responsible for basketball's cognitive skills. By doing so, this unique trainer enables super-quick development of proficiencies that, until now, were considered an 'instinct', something that the players either have or they don't. Skills such as decision making and execution, shot selection and team play, movement anticipation and pattern recognition, peripheral vision and spatial awareness, unpredictability and overall court sense. Testing the system on real basketball teams has shown to improve their performance in 22% to 28%.

At best it takes hundreds, maybe thousands of court hours to develop these instincts. Until now. In 6-8 weeks of training two or three times a week for about 45 minutes your players will improve their decision making by nearly 30%. You do nothing but make the decision that you need to improve. The software does the rest. "....read the rest here

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Parent a Basketball Program

Basketball-Tips.com FREE weekly newsletter :

"'We never know the love of a parent, until we become a parent ourself.' I think that once a coach becomes a parent, it changes his perspective on how to teach young people. Raising my children, I did not only want them to do the right thing because 'Dad said so' but rather because it was the right thing to do. Their comes a time when 'Dad'(or Mom) is not going to be there, and yet a correct decision must be made. In order for this to occur, they had to learn 'why' it was the right thing, and 'how' it was going to benefit them. I believe that a similiar approach must be taken in basketball coaching, and that is stressed at
Basketball4all. We call it 'Parenting the Program.'"...read the rest here

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

FOXSports.com - Todays' Basketball "Superstars"

A paragraph in the middle of an article regarding "overated" NBA players is very telling in the problems we are having in the game today.

FOXSports.com - "Overated Basketball Players":

"The trouble starts in junior high school, where superior hooplings are recruited (in public and on the sly) by agents, sneaker manufacturers, AAU teams, and even colleges. Adults who should know better solidify their influence over these kids by telling what great players they are, and how much greater they will become if they sign up with the right people. Should one of these pumped up youngsters have a bad game, well, then, it's always somebody else's fault - his teammates, his coach, or the referees.

Hey, kid. Want a free sweatsuit, free sneakers, and a free trip to play in a tournament in Paris? Stick with me, kid, and I'll make you a multi-millionaire."

Read any magazine, message board, chat room and you'll see that this is, far too often, the case.

Lok's Ledger