30 second time outs

Friday, September 01, 2006

Basketball in the USofA what has it become - and why.

The sport of basketball in the USA has changed. The game that is being played is some spiced up, yet watered down version of what Dr. James Naismith invented. Try that with a favorite soup recipe. Add a whole bunch of spices - then throw in an extra quart of water. Not too good, is it? The United States developed this game, and now they are destroying the game as we knew it. Maybe it is just evolving into something different. Something more resembling that old made-for-TV "SlamBall" than the game of skill, finesse and accuracy that Naismith`s game required to become successful. But ancient Greco-Roman wrestling evolved into WWF professional wrestling. That doesn`t make it better. Maybe it is more "entertaining" if you are not a thinking man. More "action" around the ball (I see less action away from the ball)and more "spectacular" plays (I see less intelligent decisions). I have to believe that their are still some people that appreciate the 2-1 baseball game or a football defensive struggle...or a Detroit Pistons NBA Championship, when they "played the right way". Contests are like a chess match, that require strategy and counter moves, something just as cerebral as it is physical. But certainly many games are now much less a "sport" and more an "event". More individual and less team. More "me" and less "we".

In the United States players, in general, no longer understand shot selection and team play, decision making and execution, movement anticipation and pattern recognition, using peripheral vision and spatial awareness, or have any general concept of relative motion and court sense. Game intelligence is at a minimum. Even when they win, they look worse doing it. At least in the eyes of a basketball purist. Players grow up playing so many games, that the games are less meaningful. Many people never even hear about the results of those games, so the end result is insignificant. Players do not necessarily compete with their friends and schoolmates, but a collection of talent from all over. The feeling of trust in and responsibility for their teammates is never fostered because everyone spreads out when it is all said and done..

Internationally the game is still a game of movement, passing, open shots, team creativity, and deception. The game as Naismith intended for it to be played. TEAMmates, playing TEAM basketball, for the TEAM. The game is about their teammates that they have lived with at the academies, practiced with and shared blood, sweat and tears with, over a long period of time. The teammates that they care about - and wouldn`t dare let them down.

American basketball players have become obsessed with bigger, faster, and stronger. The goal is to overpower - not to outsmart. Individual creativity is emphasized to battle the more prevelant (and often times legislated in youth games) man to man defense. Coaches get intoxicated with the athleticism that some players exhibit and the coach`s "basketball vision" get`s blurred. Coaches have turned to aggressive, attacking styles of play that are meant to cause turnovers and create easy shots. Fouling for profit, in hopes that the officials "can`t call all of them" is a common defensive strategy! However, what it has created is a generation of players that can only play that helter-skelter, individual style.
Now, how many times do you really look at the USA Olympic team , see a player and say, "he ...really has court sense"...sees the floor"...understands the game"...or...has a high basketball IQ"? Not many!

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. In this millenium, we need to address the final frontier...the brain!

Players, and coaches, need to return to the basketball concepts that make this game so great. The timing and synchronizing of player movement, the synergy that teamwork creates, and the perfection of offensive skills - with NO slippage allowed. Do not settle for mediocrity - demand perfection!

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