A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with my agent. He said that he was talking to some teams in Italy. I got very excited. (I recently gained Italian citizenship.) Then he said that they wanted to see some film. Maybe a highlight tape. I was instantly crestfallen.
It hit me all at once that I was wildly unprepared to fulfill that request. My most recent highlight tape was from college. I sent that anyway, hoping that the all the footage of Jeremy Lin might serve as an intriguing distraction while I scrambled to figure out what I was going to do.
I was at a workout the other day and noticed that a recent high school graduate was shooting with a strange looking ball. It had a completely different color, texture, and weight than the Nike ball I was using. It was darker, rougher, and harder.
It was made by Under Armour. Apparently the school this guy is attending uses those balls exclusively. I couldn’t believe it. Not only was I unaware that Under Armour even made basketballs, I was shocked that they had the audacity to trot out what I consider an obviously sub-par product. Unless you are 100% defensive minded, I am pretty sure you prefer a ball with some give and cushion to it. A relatively soft, slightly sticky ball is easier to handle and allows you a little more leeway with your shots that hit the rim. By making a tough, unforgiving ball, Under Armour essentially ignored all the traditional qualities that people seek out in a college ball. It had the look and feel of something a Middle School team would use when if were forced to practice outside. Stick to cleats, Under Armour.
Seeing Under Armour’s poorly made, make-James Naismith-Roll-Over-In-His-Grave ball reminded me of the least favorite basketball I have ever used.
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”
Me “Ok, I know there is nothing we can do about it, but who got my points last game?”
“Just out of curiosity. I know one of you got them.”
“We all count our points. We all saw the box score. I wish someone would give me extra points, it’s nothing to be ashamed of!”
I have had some version of that conversation several times throughout my career as a pro. I will get credited with less points than I deserved. Like I said before, it really bothers me when they mess up assists, but at least those can be hard to determine. But points? You are just going to take my hard earned points and give them to someone else? Continue reading “Who Has My Points?”
Being a point guard who literally makes his living off of assists, I was irritated at the end of one of my midseason games. We had won, which I was thrilled about, but the official score sheet had me down for 3 assists. I could count 5 off the top of my head. I might have had 7 if the stat people were feeling generous. I know that people make mistakes, but this kind of thing happened enough in Israel that it really started to get on my nerves. I talked to my coaches about it and they said there was nothing they could do.
Thankfully, there was something that I could do. I took to getting chummy with the people at the scorers table during home games. I figured even a little something, like a smile, couldn’t hurt. I even went so far as to point over to them after a pass to make certain that they credited me. I would laugh as I did this in order to keep it lighthearted, but it’s one of those “haha this is funny right? But also you better give me that g#*@%& assist.”
I have always bristled when people throw their hand in the air after they tip in a missed shot. They do this to notify the scorers table that they were deserving of the points. The worst is when someone sticks their hand up after a no brainer type of sequence, like when they were clearly the only ones in the vicinity of the basket. Everyone saw you buddy, waving your hand and getting all excited makes you look like the fat kid from soccer who is allowed to score a pity goal at the end of the year. Continue reading “Thoughts on Assists”