Sunday, July 26, 2009

A readers response to " Get in where you fit in"

I am posting a great response to the "Get in where you fit in" blog a couple of days ago. I will also make a few points in regards to the response.

"Although styles make fights, the comparison can be oversimplified if you don't take into account preparation and core competency. For some reason the emphasis has shifted from kids being competent in every aspect of the game to just find a place where you fit and then succeed. So the emphasis should be the search not the preparation for what the game can throw at you. In the not so distant past, MJ had an extreme obstacle in the way of the Detroit Pistons who played a bruising, abrupt slow paced style that relied on brute strength versus poetry. In order to compensate for (prepare)success against this style, MJ beefed up and strengthened himself for the rigors of postseason play against the Pistons. The obstacle in his way was not one which could be avoid by choosing an opponent that catered to his style or a coach that catered to play against his style. The fight was the fight! Ultimately MJ taught us that we should be able to be successful in any environment. Slow down style--I can do that and beat you; fast and furious--I can do that and bet you; etc. I believe that kids (and parents) should NOT just search for a club that fits style but they should search for a club that teaches EVERY aspect of the game and allows kids to play based upon their ability to understand each possession and how to coexist with teammates, coaches, fans, and parents alike. The object is to be successful regardless of style, the object is to be successful based upon skill set. If you can shoot then whether it be uptempo or slow down...the ball doesn't lie."

I agree with a lot of the response but will expand on a few things with examples.

1. "For some reason the emphasis has shifted from kids being competent in every aspect of the game to just find a place where you fit and then succeed."

While I agree and try to teach players to be competent in every aspect of the game, how many players at the high school level are such? While you lament about the "demise" of the game, in what era were the majority of players competent at every aspect of the game? NONE!!! Of course you can name a great player that almost mastered all aspects but what about the other 90% of the players who make up elite basketball at any level? Magic Johnson could not hit the open jump shot coming out of Michigan St. Jordan himself strengthened his jumper while in the pros? Was Larry Legend handle as strong as it could/should have been? How was Wilt's face up game from 15 feet? Here are other examples of "fit".

Damon Bailey was the second coming according to Bobby Knight. He was considered by many the best high school player in the nation his senior year. He went on to a successful career at Indiana. But, what would have happened if he chose to attend UNLV or Nolan Richardsons' Arkansas Razorbacks instead of being a Hoosier. His deficiencies would have been exposed in these uptempo systems.

How about Danny Ferry? Or Christain Laettner? Could they have been NBA lottery picks coming out of a system like Loyola Marymounts' run and gun teams of the early 90's? Or vice versa, could Bo Kimble been allowed to show his repertoire at Duke?

In a more recent example, Would Stephen Curry be a current lottery pick if he had attended Kansas out of high school. Curry benefited from 3 years of having the ultimate green light at Davidson. Playing alongside the yearly first round draft picks that Kansas keeps in its stable would not have allowed for Curry to shoot 20 shots a game and hone his scoring ability. Also, why did Golden State draft Curry. Is he not the prototypical fit for a Don Nelson team. Would the Knicks of Hubie Brown or Pat Riley wanted him so much. NO!!! But, the Mike D'Antoni Knicks coveted him due to him being the right FIT for his style of play.

2. In order to compensate for (prepare)success against this style, MJ beefed up and strengthened himself for the rigors of postseason play against the Pistons.

Again, I could not agree more and I am a huge MJ fan. I am also in the opinion that the 80's and early 90's was the greatest era of basketball. But, back on topic, the example of Jordan and his increased strength to combat the Bad Boys is not valid in the situation. It is apples and oranges.

Jordan was a pro who sole purpose was to be the best player ever. He had the resources(time, money, expert training, facilities) to make sure that added whatever skill he needed to add in order to get the job done. But, what does that have to do with finding a club/coach that fits his style? Did he not lobby to get Doug Collins fired due to style? Remember when Collins moved Jordan to the point(the great MJ averaged 32 and 8 that year). That fatal experiment ushered in the Phil Jackson era and the rest his history. Even though Micheal initially bucked at the ball sharing philosophy of the Triangle offense, MJ eventually realized that the spacing of the offense FIT HIS STYLE.

To further my point, did not my favorite player of all time, Magic Johnson get his coach, Paul Westhead, fired due to style? And I quote:

"Westhead kept us loose and improvising for two seasons. But....the 1981-82 season, he introduced a whole new system. Instead of having us run, he moved us into a planned-out, deliberate, half-court offense.... As a system, it wasn't bad. but it wasn't Laker basketball, and it definitely wasn't a good use of our talent. Instead of Showtime, he gave us Slowtime. " ( My Life by Earvin magic Johnson with William Novak,1992)

Now, would you call Magic incompetent or just aware that styles can enhance or restrict players. That is all I am trying to say. I did not say that one way is more right than the other. Players are not competent in every aspect of the game. That is a fact! No player in the history of the game has truly been able to do it all perfectly. And, as long as the players are imperfect, playing style will play a huge part of a team and players success. Ask Boris Diaw how life is without D'Antoni. Or Elton Brand in his ill fated 76er role.

And I must comment on this comment that the writer left in a different writing about Allen Iverson.

BTW, Allen Iverson is out of a job, never won a championship, and quite possibly out of the NBA totally.

Did you take Allen Iversons' job ? If not, what is your beef with him or my analogy to this young girl playing his style of play. I know, I know, he is what is wrong with the game right? He is too undisciplined and unskilled right? The unemployed Iverson will leave the NBA a loser right? How is this for a loser?

Seasons Played- 13
Career scoring average-27.1 (5th)
All Time NBA Scoring List-23,982 ( 21st)
All Time NBA Steals List- 1964 (13th)
All Time NBA Mintes per game-41.44 (5th)
All time minutes played- 36719 (5th)
Career assist-6.22 (45th)
All Time NBA Career Assists- 5511 (36th)
All-Star- 9
Playoff Seasons- 9
Career steals per game - 2.2 (5th)

Not bad for an unemployed 6'0, 185 pound player. Never mind that he will retire in the Top 50 in every major category measured for guards. Oh yeah, he can't shoot. He only shoots a percentage comparable to All Time greats, Phil Ford, Lenny Wilkens and Pistol Pete. But, I forgot, he is a undisciplined loser. He only played for one of the most strict coaches in college basketball history in John Thompson and took the ultra conservative Larry Brown to the NBA Finals. And btw, Charles Barkley, John Stockton and Karl Malone have never won NBA titles either!