Religion and Basketball

We used to make fun of Jeremy for his beliefs. A lot. There was not a bus trip that went by where another teammate and I would not take him to task. If god was so benevolent, why all the wars? How come you can never see him? Do you really not believe in evolution?

The funny thing is that I think I was missing the whole point. The ancillary details surrounding the religion are not that important. Being religious gives people a moral framework that they build their life around. This structure can be a very positive force.

The power of the mind is undeniable. If you believe that a higher power has planned big things for you than you are more likely to make something out of your life. I really think that’s the case, and even if it is just a placebo effect, it is still an effect. They have given pills to pregnant women that were supposed to induce vomiting, told them it was an anti-nausea pill, and watched as those women suffered less from morning sickness. The human brain is NUTS. So, if you ignore the fact that a ton of religious people think a dude died and came back to life, and that the earth is only 10,000 years old, you can see where having seemingly irrational beliefs can come in handy.

You need to be irrational to succeed in basketball. You have to believe in the hot hand, even if stats prove it does not exist. You have to believe you are the best player on the court, even if you have just played 5 sub par games in a row. You have to believe that spending hours a day shooting a ball through a hoop is a better use of time than learning a different skill, spending time with friends, or even studying. Continue reading “Religion and Basketball”


Royal Jelly

I want to talk a little bit about Mike Conley, George Hill, and Avery Bradley. All three are players that epitomize the positive things that can happen when an organization puts unwavering faith in a young players’ abilities.

No one would question that all of these players have talent. They had brilliant college careers and were touted as special from a young age. Yet, none of them showed their true potential at the professional level until they were given the full royal jelly treatment.

The “royal jelly” refers to the food that certain honey bees eat that allows them to develop into queens. The larvae destined to become queens are fed a different substance than the rest of the bees.  If they don’t get this food, they can’t become queens. (The name invokes images of some sort of delicious caviar crossed with Smuckers. In reality it an ooze secreted from the heads of the worker bees. Royal jelly certainly sounds better than brain pus.)

The idea that special treatment during different stages of development can affect who succeeds has been applied to athletes. I first read the term royal jelly on Truehoop, and they have discussed it at length. I’m not reinventing the wheel, just continuing to point out that circumstances and minutes are often the only difference between a player being a star or a bench warmer. Continue reading “Royal Jelly”

The Problems With Scouting Reports

Today was my first Israeli scouting report, and it was very entertaining.  There were no chopped up video clips detailing the strengths and weaknesses of each player. There was no going over every possible play they might run. All these things were replaced by watching the first quarter of their last game along with a with a simple 15 minute team meeting and a piece of paper with a sentence about each player.

This was all right up my alley. I know that coaches have good intentions and work hard to put together their reports, but do we really need to spend a half hour talking about their 8th, 9th and 10th players? You could probably feel it coming, so hear it is. Time to rant about college pregame scouting reports and walk-throughs! Continue reading “The Problems With Scouting Reports”