Month: May 2014

Memorial Day Thoughts

If there is one sound that resonates through the history of man, it is the beating of a war drum.  War is how we  divide, define and defend ourselves for money, religion, power and, most honorably, self-preservation. War, like the rest of life, is never fair.  At the tip of the spear is the soldier. 

The soldier will endure pain and horror, and see acts of courage and compassion that will shape their minds and lives in ways unsuited to what we would regard as normal…..and those are the lucky ones.

The not so lucky will return in the prime of their lives maimed mentally and physically….and many will never return. 
They could be a classmate, a neighbor, a friend or family member not much different from each us, but for their service and sacrifice.

Thank you.

The Napoleonic Deficiencies of Chris Paul

It all went to hell just after the Steve Kerr noted that Chris Paul had 36 assists and 1 turnover over the last three games.  He promptly turned it over twice, but that was a minor shart to the explosive diarrhea that ran down the leg of his reputation in the final thirty seconds of game five.

Up two with under twenty seconds to play and the shot clock off, Paul mysteriously coughed up the ball as Russel Westbrook approached to foul him.  After some horrendous officiating, OKC inbounded the ball and Paul put himself in harm’s way on Westbrook’s ill-advised three pointer and was called for a foul.  Down one, Paul came off a high ball screen, bypassed an open look at the elbow to drive into the timbers and lose the ball as time expired.  A stunning display of ineptitude at the worst of times.

Chris Paul is regarded as the game’s best point guard, an inspiring leader and genuine winner.  When healthy, he posts an outrageous player efficiency rating and is unquestionably the best player in the League at his height.  Yet, he is a polarizing player who’s true value is difficult to assess. 

He is often injured, albeit mostly with nagging injuries,  despite the fact he hardly plays with the reckless abandon of Russell Westbrook or dare I say Allen Iverson.

He generates a lot of assists, but that seems more readily tied to his ball-dominating play, rather than any infectious passing.  He controls the tempo of the game like a North Korean Minister of Media seldom pushing tempo or creating uncontested baskets.  Many of his passes are followed with an immediate demand for the ball back.  This likely explains the difficulty the Clippers had playing with him last year.

To say he is pre-occupied with the officiating is an understatement.   He often functions as a de facto fourth official on the floor with a disturbing propensity to exaggerate even the smallest of bumps into a whiplash-inducing motor vehicle accident which may or may not contribute to his aforementioned shaky health.

His particular brand of leadership is high on gesticulations and scowling which cements his reputation as a ferocious competitor, but low on actual results….a couple of decent regular season records and one play off series win as a Clipper.

In summation, he is a terrific basketball player, but consumed with an on court persona that wreaks of a Napoleanic complex that ultimately compels him to do more than he is capable doing.  Until he learns to recalibrate that persona, he is destined to fall short of his goals.

A Loose Guideline for the Betterment of Basketball

I spend a vast swath of my time watching, playing and pondering the game of basketball.  In the almost forgotten words of Faith Hill, “it matters to me”,  and when people screw it up, at any level, I get pissed.  This is somewhat predictable when considering that I view the game as a lense into the soul of every man, woman or cripple that chooses to play.  Consequently and for the betterment of basketball, I offer the following guidelines to be applied judiciously by all.

1.  Unless you are on a team, do not show up anywhere in full uniform to play.

2.  Unless you are uncontested or holding a position of great leverage, do not automatically throw an offensive rebound back up.  Kick the ball out and make the defense chase the ball.

3.  Good things happen when you force defenders into close outs.

4.  If a teammate is ahead of you and clean in transition, throw it ahead.

5.  Contested shots are bad shots.

6.  Never post up in a position already occupied by a teammate attempting to post up.  Not only is this strategically ineffective, you look like a jackass.

7.  Everybody likes to play with a good passer.

8.  Defense is always a five man operation.  Shutting your guy down at the expense of help and rotation is an act of selfishness on par with suicide.

9.  Dribble only with a purpose.  If there is no purpose,  pass the damn ball.

10.  If the team moves the ball to get you an open look, shoot without hesitation. The defense and floor balance is in your favor and failing to shoot craps in all the work of your team.  See also, jackass and suicide.

11.  Play to your strengths, but work like hell year round to expand those strengths.

12.  One handed players suck.

13.  If you defend, pass without turning the ball over and run the floor, there is always a place for you.

14.  If you struggle to score, but persist in trying the place for you is called hell.

15.  Passing the ball relieves pressure.

16.  Defense breaksdown the more it has to move and make decisions.   They don’t have to do either if you hold or dribble the ball in place.

17.  Defense doesn’t start until the advance of the ball stops.

18.  Defense defends actions as much as it defends people.

19.  Winning is a byproduct of playing the right way.

20.  Make your opponent uncomfortable.

21.  Spacing and passing are essential to effective offense, but often counter to player’s inclinations.

22.  The dark arts of screening and boxing out are the nutrients of victory.

23.  You will not shut the other team out so you ultimately play the percentages of the game to bend the outcome in your favor.

23 guidelines is a tribute to Michael Jordan, A Life by Roland Lazenby which I regard as a must read for anyone who loves the game of basketball and aspires to be anything above mediocre.