How Ancient Wisdom Can Help Us Deal With Haters

Like most everyone, I once waged a battle against a force as relentless, punishing and timeless as waves crashing on the beach: kids being dicks to each other.

Here’s a quick recap of my life up until age 16, with a focus on what would become the major annoyance of my youth: my high voice making me feel inadequate on the basketball court. 

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Book Reviews, Harvard Weightlifting Madness, Hollywood Sadness

Books I’ve Been Reading

The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe

This is a classic for anyone who truly wants to understand the origins of the psychedelic movement in the 1960’s. If you’ve ever done a psychedelic and been overly worried about set and setting (quiet room, trip guide, etc.) then this could be a good book to check out. To the originators of the whole movement, set and setting was far less important than partying as hard as possible at all times. The core group out of northern California was tripping 24/7 and tooling around the country in a tricked out party bus. It’s a great read. Ken Kesey is like Keith Richards, Rob Gronkowski and Jesus all wrapped into one.

Continue reading “Book Reviews, Harvard Weightlifting Madness, Hollywood Sadness”

Don’t Be the Benchwarmer Everyone Hates

During the second half of my second year in Israel, I was relegated to the bench. I wasn’t a sixth man. I was the last man. Well, maybe I was just above the 17-year-old who was in the army and was only there half the time. But I certainly wasn’t playing.

I’d never been a bench warmer. While it was miserable at the time, I learned a lot. Like how sometimes you just have to deal with an “unfair” situation. You have no right to become an obnoxious, negative, sarcastic practical joker just because you think you’ve been slighted. That’s a good way to make a lot of enemies.

Here are a few other things you never want to do as a bench warmer:

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Inside the Mind of a Disgruntled College Athlete

Basketball players and their coaches have two kinds of relationships:

Blissful and symbiotic –

Awwwwww
DOC: I love you guys. PAUL: I still don’t know what ubuntu means. KG: One day, when you’re coaching a different team, I’m going to say some unforgivable things to you and your players. I love you, but I’m a sociopath.

Or nasty and toxic –

I've had some wild coaches, but I've never seen someone get kicked. Too funny.
I love how nobody on the sidelines even reacts to the coach executing a running kick on a player. Just another day at practice!

I know players who loved their coaches, and players who wouldn’t have helped their coaches if they’d found them trapped in a burning car. There’s not really an in-between. It’s a love/hate thing, in my experience.

I thought it’d be interesting to look back on a time in my life when I was convinced my old college coach, Tommy Amaker, was a sadistic person. I truly believed that he was determined to ruin my life and drain me of every last vestige of enjoyment that I could get out of basketball. This should offer a glimpse into the psyche of a college athlete, and allow you to understand how nuanced player-coach relationships can be.

For some context, know that I used to be incredibly bitter regarding stuff that happened in my college basketball career. The more time that passes, and the further I get from the world of organized spots, the more I realize that I was way too myopic/intense/obsessive when it came to basketball. I’m proud of how hard I worked, but holy shit do I wish I could go back in time and swap out a few lifting sessions for some quality time with a therapist. Six-foot-nothing Jewish kids from the suburbs should be thrilled just to be playing college basketball, let alone starting for an Ivy League team.

Also, for what it’s worth, Coach Amaker and I are on great terms these days. I will always be grateful that he took the time to give me a solid recommendation to my team owner during my second year abroad.

So, after my sophomore year of college, the team was summoned to the locker room for a meeting with Frank Sullivan, our head coach at the time. We filed into the locker room and sat in folding chairs while Coach Sullivan paced back and forth, rocking a tight leather jacket. We knew something was up, since he normally wore the same four shirts. Either he was having a three-quarter life crisis and was inviting us on a ride with his new motorcycle gang, or he was no longer a part of the program, and thus no longer gave a shit what he wore. Turned out to be the latter. He told us that the athletic director was letting him go.

As much as that must have sucked for Coach Sullivan, I was excited. Our team was pretty terrible, and I thought some new blood would be good for the program.

To be clear, I never asked for Coach Sullivan to be fired. I didn’t have that power anyway. I was the third fiddle on a team that just finished at the bottom of the standings. It wouldn’t have been like MJ demanding that Doug Collins be ousted.

I'm the GOAT, and you're some dude with a perm who's only famous for losing to the Russians in the Olympics. Get out of my face.
Doug: “You’ve gotta pass the ball to Brad Sellers!”   MJ:  “…”

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Why Players Don’t Listen to Their Coaches

European basketball coaches, and especially Israeli league coaches, have an obsession with strategic, aggressive fouling. “USE. YOUR. FOWWWWWWWWLS!!!” was easily the most frequent thing I heard during timeouts. The idea was to make the game choppy, take the offense out of its rhythm and prevent fastbreaks. The strategy made a lot of sense to me, but it also represented the most jarring difference in transitioning to the European style of basketball.

Let me quickly say that I always found it interesting that so many Israelis identified as “European.”  This was most noticeable in the way they dressed. You looked out of place if you weren’t rocking capri pants, an Abercrombie & Fitch shirt that was two sizes too small, and a faux hawk. But it wasn’t just a look. It was a mindset. I once got into an argument with a teammate after he proclaimed that Israel had “the best doctors in Europe.” I pointed out that we were in the Middle East. He would not budge. “Best doctors in Europe,” he insisted, while taking a drag off a cigarette, chugging some Turkish coffee, and slipping into his Crocs. Continue reading “Why Players Don’t Listen to Their Coaches”

Why Eurobasket Sucks

Eurobasket.com is the largest website in the world that exclusively reports on overseas basketball. Most people have never heard of it, but it is required viewing for anyone playing abroad. It actually does a decent job of aggregating the scores and stats from leagues all over the world, but it does so using the ugliest, clunkiest website known to man.

The site is, quite frankly, hard to look at. The layout is hopelessly cluttered, there is no intuitive way to locate old posts, and it is chock full of obnoxious advertisements. Also, the main page is extra awkward because they shoehorn video clips into the middle of the headlines.

One of the front page video clips you can access is a 2 minute highlight of Yugoslavia vs South Korea from the 1996 Olympic games. It has 5 views on youtube, and I think I account for 3 of them.

Timely! At least can’t accuse them of chasing trends.

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