Friday, September 01, 2006

how we're not gonna win for awhile

of course the american basketball team lost. it should have. it didn't deserve to win. it's against our nature.

as a product of the american basketball system, but never a star, i learned how to play within a team structure. i learned a million ways of moving without the ball. i learned how defense is nothing more than angles and desire and how to mix them well. i learned how to cover for my teammates. i learned how to make not just the extra pass, but more importantly, the right pass. i learned where to be and where others should. i learned how to anticipate because i had to outhink the game due to my physical incapabilites. i never had to think about what to do. i just reacted. it was my second nature.

you know, come to think of it, i was decidedly unamerican. but because i had to play that way, because i had to concentrate on being smarter than relying on athleticism, playing that way, the right way, became second nature to me.

thoughtless genius, if i say so myself.

the players we currently worship in the nba, the players with sneaker deals and purchasable jerseys, our american basketball team, well, they didn't have to learn it. they could always go isolation and dunk over people like me. they could get beat on a backdoor and still get back to pin the rock against the backboard. they didn't have to learn where the ball should go because it usually ended with them, or when they did pass it, it was a gorgeous no-look whip that, even if it didn't end in two points, would elicit a "whoa!"

it was that way in high school and summer aau ball, where the concentration is look good enough to get a scholarship. and it was that way for them in college, where the concentration is to get drafted. and it is that way for them in the nba, because that's what sells. it's not about fundamentals. it's about playing basketball instinctively instead of athletically.

you see, we can teach our best players how to defend the pick-and-roll, but these european teams that know how to play will also kill us with step-back jumpers instead of the roll. or will catch up napping by going backdoor. or something else.

we're just gonna learn how to defend one thing, while they've got lifetimes to ways to beat us.

it's second nature to them. that's a nature our stars never had to learn.

lebron james, dwyane wade, carmelo anthony and the rest are wonderful basketball entertainers in the best basketball entertaining league in the world, bred from the world of basketball entertaining. their nature is to win by entertaining. and it'll win in the nba.

but no matter how hard they play, and lord, did they play hard, substance will always beat style.

and, although coach k is not only a coach of basketball, he's a teacher of life, a lifetime of thoughtless genius is not something they can learn in a two-week training camp. which means it's not gonna get any better by the olympics.

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