Sunday, 28 August 2011
You can't teach an old dog new tricks.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Forget what they say Boston's green hasn't had its day. Sure the Lakers beat them the last time they met in the Finals, while the Dallas Mavericks are the reigning champs and there's more Heat in Miami. Still you should never underestimate the pride of a Celtic. Like Sam Malone in 'Cheers' critics are calling time on this ageing team. Sure now these guys may be seasoned but they're nowhere near drawing out pensions. They can more than afford a few more years propping up the bar of contention.
Look at the San Antonio Spurs for example. They've still been in the hunt for years, between best starts and grizzly ends. Sure as they get older there primary weapons may begin to look more like bows and arrows but these Spurs have been clicking around contention for years. This is the exact same space of time that critics have been writing them off. When the swords are drawn there's no butter knives here, this team forks out more. Now there's food for thought for all the critics to do dishes to. Celtics green, blue collar workers roll up their sleeves and get down to business and work. They aren't playing with you.
Still whether worthy of ink or pencil lead, critics are writing these Celts off by the blog, magazine and broadsheet. That's just the way some people see it though right? As soon as you hit 30 it's over and then after that 'you’re too old right'?
It's time to put that notion to bed. It's common knowledge that three things win championships; role players, defense...and experience. Now do the Celtics have plenty of these things in abundance? Role players? Well Glen Davis really is big but his jersey isn't the hottest seller, so check. Now as for defense, where talking about the Celtics here, so check two. Finally as for experience, well people have said the Celtics are old right?
So next season when all the hype of the summers blockbusters have died down and an end to the lockout opens up don't be surprised if it's the Celtics that are at the forefront of everyone's mind. Believe it, this won't be inception. It'll be Doc, Rondo, KG, Jesus and Paul Pierce. It'll be the truth. Dallas are the team to beat and for Boston, beating L.A. is revenge worthy. A cold dish also needs to be served up for the Heat as LeBron, Wade and Bosh have a reigning Eastern Conference champion super group for a generation. Take that and the fact that there's always Magic in Orlando and Nuggets in Denver we definitely have an exciting season on our hands for 2011/2012, whenever it starts. Champions could come from anywhere next year, Oklahoma, Chicago, pick your city. Times are changing but even one of the oldest franchises in league history is moving with the seasons. To bloom like Summer, with a spring in their step, not to fall like leaves in Autumn, or to freeze out like Winter.
How can this team even be considered too old when their best player is one of the youngest Point Guard talents in the league? Throw stardom aside because Rajon Rondo hasn't been the fourth Beatle for a long time now (Sorry Ringo), now this young bucks nipping at the heels of MVP Derrick Rose, Deron Williams and Chris Paul to make a point at being the best guard in the league. Young small, forward thinking, swinging scorer Jeff Green also brings more color to these Celtics.
As for the 'Big Three' these guys may not be taking to the stage like Wade and his new pals but they certainly still deserve their place on it. Kevin Garnett may not be 'Da Kid' that was a hive of energy for 48 straight like he was as in Minnesota anymore but he still brings more energy, heart and enthusiasm then 99% of players in the league. Also as K.G. has matured his game has to, making him one of the best all round forwards ever, just like Tim Duncan he can take anyone, including him.
Ray Allen's fade may have gone but his game hasn't disappeared. His shaved head, three point stroke and killer clutch play (especially come playoff time) is making him look like the closest thing the leagues got to Reggie Miller (or even Larry Bird's legend), now that he's over taken the three point legend that is Miller time in buckets drained. Now as for Paul Pierce. You can't handle the truth, no one can. He's still one of the best, top free agent target or not. The Celtics free-agent regain really is every other team’s loss. The Californian child is New England's finest, writing award-winning chapters of success like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. A reborn talent in the town that leaves opponents hunting for good will, or begging for mercy.
The rest of Boston’s roster is also taking a shape that Glen Davis would dream of. Carlos Arroyo and Nenad Krstic give the team foreign flavour and international intelligence. While valuable veterans like All-Star talent Jermaine O’Neal and real role players like Troy Murphy, Von Wafer and Delonte West gives the team more go to guys that could come off the bench, or start, contributing big either way, either or. This gives the C’s an 'A+' and 'A' grade team in terms of their first and second B' teams. Over four quarters they may even be the last team that’s going to look like a bunch of old guys.
Who's the best player in the league right now? It's obviously between Kobe and LeBron. Now as for the best team, the two heirs to the Dallas throne right now are Miami and L.A., but even though the baton has been passed Boston still have some strength to throw rocks or torch the opposition. They're more than watching like Kanye and Jay-Z. Plus the storied, historical Laker/Celtics rivalry is very much alive until Miami, Dallas or otherwise permanently close the book while writing the next chapter with their own dynasty. Boston is still one of the kings of the East and the rest of the league. Los Angeles better be careful as well because the boys from Beantown have stopped Showtime before and they where only one game away from doing it again last year. Want to know another reason why this Boston team is still relevant? This writer saying all this bleeds purple and gold!
You can't ignore truth, isn't that right Paul?
What are dreams made of?
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Dreams are made from aspirations and desires. Dreams start in the playgrounds, are cultivated in college and grow on the court. Dreams start in America and carry on through the world. Dreams are World Championships. Dreams are Olympic Gold medals. Dreams are carried by 12 men 18 years ago. Dreams are made true in Barcelona. Dreams are real.
What are dreams made of?
Dreams are activating NBA players for the first time. Dreams are remembering Chuck Daly, Rest in Peace. Dreams are one of the greatest teams every created in world sports history. Dreams come from the help of NBA legends, Lenny Wilkens, P.J. Carlesimo and Mike Krzyzewski. Dreams come when you almost beat your opponents by an average of 44 points.
What are dreams made of?
Dreams begin with Angola and end with Croatia. Dreams are witnessed by global fanfare. Dreams are that potent. Dreams come in sound bites. Dreams seem unreal, ‘Like Elvis of ‘The Beatles’’ walked into the room. We hear you Chuck!
What are dreams made of?
Dreams are Christian Laettner, fresh out of Duke University showing us all the versatile talent that this big man adopts.
What are dreams made of?
Dreams are admiral’s making port. Dreams are David Robinson holding it down on the court.
What are dreams made of?
Dreams are Patrick Ewing owning the paint. Rebounding, dunking and sweet stroking, with his Number 6 uniform soaking.
What are dreams made of?
Dreams are Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, teammates and brothers on two squads. Chi-towns finest. Batman and Robin. Dreams are dunking on everybody with your tongue out. Dreams are taking on everybody, point to pivot.
What are dreams made of?
Dreams are two more teammates and brothers pick and rolling for their country. Dreams come from the country and wear short, shorts. Dreams are Karl Malone and John Stockton. A one, two punch nobody wants’ to face.
What are dreams made of?
Dreams ‘Glyde’ like Clyde, Drexler to be exact. Dreams glide through the lane and finish at the hoop, ferocious and beautiful all at the same time.
What are dreams made of?
Dreams come with a buzz cut, don’t look like your average but play like a savage. Dreams come in threes. Dreams shoot the lights out. Dreams are Chris Mullin.
What are dreams made of?
Dreams come from an MVP amongst legends. Dreams ‘round’ into shape. Dreams take every rebound and ball. Dreams drop 18 points per on a team where the ball is shared. Dreams are funny, charming but serious all at the same time. Dreams ‘Let em have it Chuck’. Dreams are Charles Barkley.
What are dreams made of?
Dreams are two former friends and foes coming together for one common goal. Dreams are about to pass the torch after going out with a shooting bang. Dreams are two guys that helped redefine the league and sport as a whole. Dreams are two guys who brought the sport around the globe and are now making it their own. Dreams are things of Magic. Dreams are things of Legend. Dreams are Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.
What are dreams made of?
Dreams are made of this. Dreams are made to witness. Dreams are enshrined last weekend. Dreams are poetry in motion. This dream however is summed up better by Magic’s devotion.
Dreams are golden. Dreams are real.
By Tim David Harvey
It's been said before, this game is as much about the mental as it is the physical. Skill versus will, motion versus emotion. During a recent water-cooler esque conversation about a game with a die-hard, this writer was further inspired by this notion.
This season, in a prime Eastern Conference clash, the Boston Celtics took on the Orlando Magic, or should it be said Kevin Garnett took on Dwight Howard. A lot was to be said for what determined the game, beyond star players and key shots. The mental battle between Garnett and Howard played the most significant role however. The two differing sides of passion, from K.G.'s emotion to Dwight's smiling devotion. It was time to see and hear who was tougher then the rest. Sure there is nothing wrong with Dwight's fun and happy go lucky approach to the game but it was 'Da Kid's', snarling, growling, glaring, staring and chalk tossing and chest pumping, thumping passion that was King Kong. K.G. talked so much trash that he really needed to start thinking about recycling. Sure trash talk is throw away but it's also an important way of throwing off your competitor and getting into their heads.
Sure on another night, Dwight's constant smiling at everything may have been Garnett and Boston's plight but not last week. Kevin's passion and heart was too much, attacking and screwing with Magic. Still this is just the tricks of K.G.'s trade, no foul play here. Just look at the highlight reels of this Boston great, you'll see just as many slow-mo jersey tugs, heart thumps and head pounds, as lay-ups, dunks and blocks (and there's a lot of those). Nine times out of ten the only thing not standing up about Kevin at the end of the game is the elastic on his jersey...and you can bet he'll still be talking, even after the presser.
See 'trash talk' is more than just 'your momma so fat she's sitting next to everyone in the Garden', it's more than jokes, it's a tactic not to be played with. Even Mr. T couldn't tell K.G. to stop his jibber jabbering, or Gary Payton for that matter. You best believe that the legendary point guards mouth was damn near as effective as his handle on defence. The D student was so good at getting under his opponents uniform mentally and physically that he frustrated everyone from Sam Bowie to Michael Jordan. It's this play that made sure 'The Glove' had his hand on more games then Goldstein.
Payton's one season team-mate on the Lakers, Rick Fox was another great instigator. A great defender and one of the best game changers that didn't show up on the stat-sheet. Sure it isn't recorded but everyone in the Los Angeles and Sacramento areas of Cali know how killer Rick's game was. Especially Peja Stojakovic who paid the cost for Fox's no holes barred D. In those legendary Laker/King series the Lakers where crowned victorious because Rick made it virtually impossible for Peja to take any shots at the throne. Stojakovic's killer three point shot was dead and out the water as the European sensation couldn't wet anything. This shooter was in the foreign territory of not getting his own way, thanks to Fox's sly off the ball defence. A style that is mental as it is physical, as will destroying as it is skill employing. Sure you have to be strong, athletic and fast to prevent someone from getting touches but it's vital to have a mental edge too. When this D is in effect the only buckets will be left for tears, because these mind games really get to opponents. Now who's left playing?
Rick's dawg Kobe is a doberman on defence two and just think how much mental pressure comes with playing one-on-one with one of the greatest of all time? Knowing he's watching your every move and then you have to deal with every one of his. Kobe recently faced former team-mates Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmer in New Jersey just mere months removed from better days. Sure off court it was all love but on the floor Kob made sure there was "no mercy" just like he's reiterated before. This killer instinct, which we've talked about before is exactly why Kobe's murder game has so much conviction, for better or hearse.
Bryant's back-up, Shannon Brown has his back in more ways the one. From dunks to blocks and more dunks, Shannon is the true definition of a spark-plug, re-charging his teams energy in crucial lows, emphasis on crucial. You see every minute of a game is important and this underrated, spark of energy can sometimes be 'clutch' even with two quarters left in the bank. Bench legend, Vinnie Johnson was nicknamed 'The Microwave' during his Detroit days in the 80's. Nothing complicated here but sometimes it's the simple things, when the Pistons needed more fuel, they went to someone who could heat up and be ready in seconds, which sometimes in basketball is all the time in the world, all the time you have and all the time you need.
It can be argued that Chris Anderson is the most loved man in Denver with Carmelo now gone. Sure he'll never average 30 or be a high-roller baller like his rap Birdman namesake but baby's got talent. From dunks to blocks, he gets the fans off their seat and puts the opponents on their backsides. He's a real momentum changer and just like gravity all you need is a little push for things to quickly spiral from one way to another. This jokers no clown he's the Nuggets ace in the hole. The high socks, tattoos, accessories and Vanilla Ice hair are all part of the unique mind-set of a guy who can bring the energy like M.C. Hammer. Energy is such an important factor of basketball and all spirits. When your bodies out of fuel and your running on fumes in need of a pick me up, the reserves of energy come from inside, the mind. That's how you then take care of business, by 'minding' it. Think on.
There are an infinite amount of examples here that we can not put it all in one, let alone two pieces. A sound state of mind speaks volumes and that makes the winners sing while the losers are left trying to hit the right notes. It's evident in any for of Basketball from Motown to California, it's supreme in all the three degrees, the college, the pro's and the streets. In high-school and college there's that undying passion from every contributor, one through to the fan sitting up top at the back. Everyone is passionate, excited that young exuberance that those past it wish they never passed on. From replica game sweats to instruments these guys are as bold as brass, with passion perspiring out of every pore. Same perspiration in the streets whether it's coming off a Jordan replica or a white tee that's now a shade of off grey. From one on one to 'I'm Mike your Mars'. From five versus, whoever you got, to next basket wins, it's all the same trend.
Some people wish they saw the same passion, the same exuberance in the big leagues, in the NBA. Trouble is they aren't looking. From the Birdman to the cash money of courtside, armchair fan Mark Cuban. From the guy taking the last bucket to the guy on the bench in a suit, just glad he isn't in the D-League, but just wishing he could play. From Kobe to the next 10 day. From the look in K.G.'s eyes to the white in Dwight's smile. It's all there. It's a state of mind.
Physiology vs. Psychology, Skill vs. Will.
BY TIM DAVID HARVEY
Picture the scene, your on court. Hardwood or blacktop the location doesn't matter that much. The same goes for the shot. Free throw or three pointer. Inbounds pass or on the stripe all alone. The details aren't really that important right about now. What is important is that this shot is crucial. There are only dwindling tenths of a seconds left. If you make this you've made it because there's no fine line. Between the iron and the twine lie victory or defeat, joy and misery and those who could be heroes and those who may be villains. So what goes through your mind? Nerves or confidence? Do you sweat some more or do you have nerves of steel? Are you a hit or a miss? Do you sink or swim? One things for sure basket or no basket believe me it's all in your head.
It's what separates the MJ's from the John Starks and the Kobe Bryant's from the Nick Anderson's, because free throw, three pointer, fadeway or clutch J, you got to make it in this league. Everyone that's played basketball long enough however knows how to make the play and most can put the ball in the hoop. Now even if their a franchise player or a suit model at the end of the bench every player in the National Basketball Association deserves their spot. This is regardless of stats, jersey sales or rep. Now although this may be true does this mean every NBA player is equal? Hell no!
There's a lot that separates the best from the rest and from the less. There's a reason LeBron James is who he is and Kwame Brown is where he is (although Kwame's still got game) but what really separates guys like this? Sure the most defining thing is skill and talent; it's for sure the most common denominator. It would be foolish however to think that's just it however. Skill only takes you so far. Not to sound like a corny boss at one of those awful team building seminars but a winning personality makes a champion. A talented player isn't just as good as his skill allows, he's a good as he wants to be. A winner isn't just a guy that works hard, a winner wants it more than anyone else on the court, field, track or boardroom (I'm telling you I've been to too many of these seminars). To be successful, you have to crave success and more importantly believe you can achieve it.
There's a reason Ron Artest has gone from having his jersey soaked in fans beer to celebratory champagne. His mindset has changed. Ron is still Ron, Ron, partying hard and cutting rap records but this summer he's gone that extra mile thanking and helping the therapy of mental health more than he did in his infamous NBA Finals press conference. Artest is even auctioning off his championship ring to raise money for the teaching of psychologists/therapists.
This gesture is not only an extremely generous one but one that is for a cause close to Ron's heart and mind. This is Ron's way of saying ‘thank you’ and also maybe his way of saying he couldn't win without the help of his therapist (he has cited this before and from the looks of the MVP of Game 7 the Lakers wouldn't of won without this either). You see a positive mindset is what separates a troubled star like Ron Artest from one like Isiah 'J.R.' Rider. Back in 2001 when Rider played on a championship Laker team he didn't even log a minute of playoff action losing a roster place to Greg Foster of all players. No matter the negative it's important to realize that just like what Leonardo DiCaprio says in 'Inception', "positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time”.
The right attitude makes men out of boys. That's why motto's like 'Yes we can' are believed in. Belief, confidence and a positive mindset makes presidents out of politicians. It's why a guy pushing 40 who's come out of 'retirement' rules the rap game. It's the reason why a down and out actor can come clean out of the darkness of drug addiction and light up the silver screen like no one else.
To be the best, not only do you have to challenge the best (thank you Nas) you have to have the desire to be the best. That's why the aforementioned Barack Obama, Jay-Z and Robert Downey Jnr are where they are right now, amongst the best in their respective fields. This is also why in basketball the Portland Trail Blazers will always regret drafting Sam Bowie. Having the get up and go and the right mindset defines you and can also define history. Imagine if MJ decided to leave the gym and instead didn't redefine a sport, a brand and a culture? Or imagine if another MJ decided to hit the club instead of hit the studio? 'Thriller' may have just become some other filler.
You see Michael Jordan is the biggest icon not just because of the talent he possesses but the man he is. A guy so competitive that he would even stay up all night in college, refusing to be beat by his dorm mate at 'Monopoly'. This willingness not to be 'board' with any game he's playing is the reason 'Brand Jordan' has created a monopoly in basketball.
Jordan's never say die attitude is what has separated him from not only the Sam Bowie's of the league but the best of the best too. When critics wrote Jordan off in college, he shot them down in '82. This proving of the haters wrong continued throughout Jordan's whole career-minus a few bases-call it a rough in the diamond. Even when flu tried to knock Mike out cold in the 1993 NBA Finals he became the virus that the Phoenix Suns couldn't recover from.
On a Nike advertisement Jordan has said it himself, the reason he's so successful is because he's failed so many times and it is his willingness to accept this failure that has made him able to rebound unbelievably like Charles Barkley (another guy who's made 'power moves' because he believed he could, now put that in a commercial). Jordan has said he never worried about missing a final shot and that's why he made more than he missed. In the clutch moments of games he was Robert Horry, he was Bruce Willis, he was Michael Jordan.
This 'Die Hard' attitude is why another legend can go from air balls to parade hauls. Kobe's career may have started with growing pains like any 17 year old would go through, but for over a decade it's been 'Die Hard: With A Vengeance'. The most similar player, the heir to the throne Kobe Bryant is one in the same mind with Jordan. He breathes the same 'air', he proves the same haters wrong and basket for basket he just does it, swoosh for swoosh. The reason he's so close to being 'Like Mike' compared to all the other Lil Bow Wows is because this 'doberman's' killer instinct and mindset is on par like Tiger Woods. Nobody right now in basketball has an instinct as deadly as Kobe and nobody in basketball history has an assassin’s mentality like Michael Jordan. A calm positive mentality is why the Zen of Phil Jackson outlasts the storm of any competition. Phil Jackson is also the coaching mindset that's been behind both Mike and Kobe. Coincidence? There's no coincidence about it just championships.
The flipside of the coin is not a pretty side to face. Negativity is why some players head for the showers while their opponents are telling tales of victory. Maybe negativity is why Nick Anderson's name lives in infamy for the wrong reasons because his reputation lies on the wrong side of the hoop. Maybe a lack of confidence is why John Starks missed all those shots when he could have sunk Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Basketball really is a complex game and is much a mental one as it is a skillful one. When Shaquille O'Neal was dominating Michael and Chicago back in the 1996 NBA playoffs when he was making (Orlando) Magic on the floor a single action turned the game the way of the Bulls charge. No it wasn't a shot or a defensive play; it came when Shaq beat Jordan to the basket and then pat his butt after the play. This was interpreted by Mike that Shaq wasn't as serious as he was. Whether this was true or not didn't matter as this idea was all that Jordan needed. After that it was Mikes touches that where spanking Shaq and Orlando.
Complacency and defiance can sometimes be the product of confidence and over inflated ego's however. So the right balance needs to be struck in a player’s positive mindset, because there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Maybe a lack of killer instinct (that can result from complacency) is why Tracy McGrady has never stuck around for the second round of the playoffs. Maybe the reason Allen Iverson is finding it so hard to even find a roster spot is because he's too busy trying to find a niche. A defiant personality could be the reason the answer doesn't have a team, because he's not 'willing' to accept a reduced role or to lose without question.
A defining mindset, good or bad isn't just apparent on an individual basis, it is evident in team dynamics also. A great team mentality will take a group far. Even if they aren't the best team around they can still beat the best by having the better attitude. Just like the Detroit Pistons did without any big names to a Laker team that featured Kobe, Shaq, Malone and Payton in 2004. On the flip a complacent team or one with a bad coach or locker room cancer is doomed for failure. It's that notion of if one fails everyone fails. If a team isn't on the same page they'll never make the history books.
It's the reason people these days people have doubts whenever the USA play in an Olympics or a world tournament (even in last years successful tournament). It's not just because of the U.S. talent that plays versus the developing talent of the world. It's also because complacency once turned a 'dream' into a nightmare and when the US rested on their reputation they destroyed it. It was this negatively reinforcing motivation however that turned a negative into a positive and put Team USA back on top of the world. Just like the common negative to positive motivation of revenge in sports. Which last week the USA used minute for minute to defeat Russia in 82 after the controversy of the infamous matchup with the Soviets in '72. A team can always 'redeem' itself but a negative reputation can still stick around for awhile however. No matter if we go from Carlos Arroyo popping his countries name on his jersey to Kevin Durant doing it in the FIBA, world championship semi-finals before leading America to Gold in the finals. That's the great thing about the competitive nature of Basketball. No matter what, you've always got to prove yourself.
So do you have what it takes with that ball in your hand? There are so many different factors physically and mentally speaking that separate how much someone can achieve in basketball but success all starts with a positive step forward. So as you set up to take that shot that comes with a an angle of difficulty and an even greater degree of stress, just believe. Mind over matter. Now that's what matters. Do you get it?
Saturday, 27 August 2011
(Originally published by SLAMonline on 09/30/09 http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2009/09/measure-of-dedication/)
Matt Harpring’s plays with heart. Without it, he would have called it quits by now.
By Tim David Harvey
Carmelo Anthony posts up and puts up a shot, it’s just off. He forces his way under the basket and tips and battles for the rebound. He then crosses over-leaving his defender for dust, crosses over again and dunks hard in the grills of three Celtic greens. The crowd goes wild.
LeBron James rolls off the screen and drives hard and fast towards the basket. He takes off just inside the paint with both force and grace. He takes off like he was about to get all 10s and it was mid-February. Except Tim Duncan’s is in the way… or at least he was in the way. He ends up staring at a part of the King he didn’t want to see as ‘Bron completes a dunk that even the San An crowd can appreciate.
Matt Harpring tries to shake off his defender, he hustles left, he shakes right. He roll’s off the screen set by his teammate and sprints into position receiving Andrei Kirlienko’s pass. He picks his spot, releases a jumper and its all butter. It’s simple yet effective. He does this again and again against the Raptors that night. It’s not as flashy as James or Melo, but it still gets the job done and the result is the same. Points on the board, point made.
Understand, this is not an article arguing that Matt Harpring is better than the best, although he does deserve his name amongst the better players in the NBA. We’re not looking at his career in retrospect because here’s hoping this is not finished. Matt Harpring would have called it quits by now if he wasn’t dedicated. It may not look like he stands a chance, but he’s fighting for the glimmer of opportunity.
“The toughest of my life.” That’s how Matt Harpring described last season with all the chronic injuries he endured. True warriors don’t complain in the face of adversity. When hardship stares them down they just get on with it. Whatever Harpring is going through, it must be tough for him to admit its getting the better of him. It’s sad to see that injuries have forced a decline in Harpring’s production. He’s not the type of guy who only averages about two made free throws and a bucket a game like he did last season.
There were encouraging points last season, though, as Harpring recorded 14 points and 8 rebounds off the bench. He’s still driven enough to turn it up when needed no matter the physical cost, which is easier for him to endure then the mental loss. In Utah’s only playoff win against the Lakers, Matt had a strong (for an injured reserve) 10 points. This shows he can still perform and, at the very least, showcased a triumphant hurrah wearing baby blue.
Why isn’t plain, old fashioned consistency and dedication championed too? He’s not your typical baller. Where’s the tats? Where’s the attitude? When was that the measure though? He may not go hard but he plays hard. He’s not a poster on your wall but he sets the standard. Matt Harpring is what he is — your prototype, do-it-all small forward. Small forwards like Matt Harpring are uncommon today, but don’t call him old school. He’s doing his thing right now. He’s not SportsCenter. He’s not Top 10 plays of the week. But he’s there everyday, first one in, last one out. Measure this guy’s worth statistically and you would be selling him short. Quantify all this mans done in sentences and it’ll be hard to find the words he best deserves.
Harpring’s career averages are at 11.5 ppg and 5.1 ppg. He averaged more than 11 points per game for seven years straight. His career season came in ’02-03 when he averaged 17.6 ppg (including a career-high 33 points against the TWolves), proving he can step out of his role and put up big numbers. Think of the years he averaged around 15 ppg with limited touches. Matt makes the most of what he has and what he’s given. It’s a shame his injuries robbed him of 178 games in his career so far, but it’s the stats — such as the 50 career double-doubles — that should really be considered.
The words ‘so far’ will be used here, not ‘once was,’ because let’s hope this guy isn’t done. True professional. True sportsmen. Loyal warrior to his previous teams and Utah Jazz legend. It’s a shame when someone is the model of consistency their whole career only to have their skills taken away from them. Sometimes it feels like all the hard work never pays off, doesn’t it? For guys like Matt, however, the hard work is not an everyday grind, it is a daily routine. Hard work is performed because of duty, not because of reward. The outcome is what’s good for others. Your team, not yourself. We may not see him in the Hall of Fame in a couple of years, but we will see him in the crowd as an honored guest when his All-Star teammates enter the Hall.
It’s not about what you can claim about yourself it’s about what you can obtain for others. The loudest one in the room is the quietest one in the room. Act up and boast too much and people will start to hate. Knuckle down and go about your business quietly and efficiently, however, and you’ll be respected. Matt Harpring isn’t gonna be popping up on MTV anytime soon, but true fans should tune in every time his videos hit NBATV.
You can’t ‘add’ Matt on MySpace but you could pick up a spot on one of his camps for your kids if you hit up mattharpring.com. His ‘Back to Basics’ camp where you’re taught “the right way to play the game of basketball. Flashy? No. Fundamental? Yes! This is Harpring’s legacy. Matt believes in decency and respect. Both are how he acts and the latter is what he has truly earned. This is why Matt has set his camps up in Atlanta and Salt Lake City — his hometown and the place where he now resides. Two places that have given him a lot, and two places where he’s returning the favor. The goals of Matt’s ‘Back to Basis’ camps are to ‘improve and have fun.’ Harpring knows it’s important to have both these elements. You can’t really enjoy one without the other. What Matt is teaching at his camps is what he’s displayed in every game and year of his career.
Back injury, knee injury, ankle injury, then ankle injury, knee injury and back injury all over again. Chronic problems cruelly doled out to a constant performer. Life’s not fair at times and it’s no game. It’s hard work; it’s a test. Time eventually takes away the things you did so well when you were young. It’s sobering, and it’s defeating. The true victory, however, is looking back at everything you’ve done with pride, and the falls become not so bad.
True triumph lies in looking at what faces you as a challenge and not a predicament. It’s staring at the darkness with no light and pushing forward. Its looking at the wall in front of you and deciding your gonna give it all you’ve got. In basketball it’s all about giving it one last shot. Its being knocked down again and again and again and picking yourself up again and again and again. It’s about being mentally capable when you physically unable. It’s about giving it another six weeks. It’s about looking at a foretold conclusion and offering it a re-evaluation.
Matt Harpring physically may not be able to compete in six weeks but one thing is for sure — he has never stopped being able to mentally compete. He’s the rare type of player who wants to give it all because hard work helps those around him not because he just wants to take down his opponent. Matt should be idolized. His positive attitude has never wavered and he will hold his head high even if he can’t carry himself physically for one more go-around. Matt’s personal motto is simple but key, ‘Don’t ever give up.’ Understand?
After the thunder comes a storm.
BY TIM DAVID HARVEY
Let’s take it back to 2008 for a moment. The Supersonics franchise channel Kelsey Grammer’s Frasier and said ‘Goodnight Seattle, we love you’ heading off to Oklahoma City. This left nobody listening to Basketball in Seattle but believe me everyone should be now. Even though Kevin Durant has helped make everybody forget about the Sonics with the still relatively new Thunder Basketball purists should still look out for the Storm.
The Storm being Seattle’s premier Basketball franchise. A franchise that still plays in the Supersonics former KeyArena and a franchise that plays in the WNBA. A league that now delivers, as well as ‘Expects great’ but also a league that goes about as unheard of as those old ‘Save Our Sonics’ pleas.
Still when a storm comes you can’t stop the rain and when it rains in Seattle it pours. Last season the Storm became the WNBA champions for the second time and to top that off their leader Lauren Jackson became league MVP for the 2010 campaign and the third time in her career. As the Storm blew out Atlanta banners in the crowd read, 'Not in our house'. The key doesn't fit for the Sonics anymore, the locks have changed. It's the Storms home now.
The Storm showered nightmares on the Atlanta Dream in last years finals. Sweeping them and putting them to bed in 3 games. Now that’s headline making, even if Carmelo and of course LeBron dominated more of the broadsheets. Between all the hear say and gossip however real ball speaks for itself and with the Storm they cut, printed and wrapped it all up right before your eyes. It’s just a shame these days you’d need a paperboy in a sandwich board to read all about it.
Still purists can see and believe when they look into the eye of the storm. They see whet began as an expansion team in 2000 become a team that is not only a playoff regular but a two time champion in eight years. They see a team that has done so much and believe it can do more.
Stormwatchers, chases and followers that look into the eye of their team can see it is led by a player like no other in Lauren Jackson. A most valuable player to her team, league and country. An Australian who makes her nation as proud as Andrew Bogut does. A player that’s among the best in basketball today, men or women, period. A player you don’t want to underestimate before you get Lo-Jacked. A winner and a champion.
Opponents that dare look in the eye of the storm will have a dead eye staring right back at them. Observe a sharp three point shooter in green and white, knocking down treys in the corner with ‘Bird’ embroiled across the back of their vest. This shooter however doesn’t come with a French Lick but this shooter is more than just ‘another’ bird. This deadeye is Sue Bird and if opponents don’t keep an eye on her, they may as well stare in the face of defeat.
There’s more to this Seattle Storm than meets the eye however. It’s teams that win championships and Seattle boasts an international, diverse and versatile roster. Players that thread the needle and space the floor. Players you can bank on like Swin Cash. Girls you can have faith in like valuable veteran Katie Smith and central minded Ashley Robinson. Ladies that can play on either ends of the floor in parallel currents, AC/DC just like their theme song leaving their opponents ‘Thunderstruck’. Even after their brother ran off to Oklahoma in Sonic speed the Storm still stand alone proud, an only child to the city, carrying and making Seattle proud.
Seattle is famous for grunge music and bands like Pretty Girls Make Graves, but here it appears that real women make great basketball players. Maybe Pearl Jam (we see you Mookie Blaylock) should name their next album after the Storm. The city of Seattle needn’t fish for an NBA franchise, they’ve got a perfectly good team in the WNBA. A team that right now is the best in its league. Sure Sparks may fly and Shock and Mercury may rise but the Storm isn’t over now. Dreams may reach as high as the Sun, Sky and Stars but nothing is as high as the cloud the Storm sits upon. Up high above Liberty, Mystic, Lynk and the strongest Fever. Or in other words, it doesn’t matter if you’re from Los Angeles, Tulsa, Phoenix, Atlanta, Connecticut, Chicago, San Antonio, New York, Washington, Minnesota or Indiana. In the WNBA, 12 for 12 nothing right now goes to town with Seattle. Even if their 16 and 12 record is good for third in the West, they're still the reigning world women's basketball champion.
The city of Seattle weathered the storm of the Supersonics technically giving their roster away to Oklahoma and the Thunder and shone through the darkest cloud with a new team, better than ever. So the next time you see a gloomy cloud on the horizon out West and feel like there’s nothing to do, don’t just put up an umbrella, really take in the storm because with a team like Seattle you may have just saved your rainy day. Now tell me again what the WNBA told you about expecting great?
(Originally published by SLAMonline on 11/21/09 http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2009/11/california-king/)
Reminiscing with Sacramento royalty.
By Tim David Harvey
When franchise players can’t get it done this is when valuable bench players get the chance to earn their bread and butter. Every championship team needs a Robert Horry or a Toni Kukoc. As a season wears on successful teams need to be running on all cylinders and sixth men become important. Over the last decade there haven’t been many sixth men better than Bobby Jackson. Now retired from the game BJax won’t have much time for fishing as he undertakes new roles with the Sacramento Kings. Taking a break from his busy schedule Bobby talked with SLAMonline.
BJax was selected with the 23rd pick of the ’97 Draft. This was after playing for the Western Nebraska Community College and the University of Minnesota. Bobby took a long route in getting to the NBA but his hard work and upbringing helped shape the player he’d become.
SLAM: You are not the type of guy who forgets where he comes from. How did your experiences of playing in your hometown Salisbury, NC and then at college in Nebraska and Minnesota help shape your NBA career?
Bobby Jackson: It humbled me a lot. Coming from high school and having so much hype and then not being able to go to a Division I school right away. Having to go the hard route and not the easy route, it really focused me on becoming the person that I am today.
Jax may have been handed a Sonics cap on draft day but he never donned Seattle’s jersey. Bobby played for the Denver Nuggets in his rookie season, earning some decent burn. It would not be long though before he was traded again. Bobby’s next stop found him playing for the Timberwolves. This would be the second time that he’d play for the city of Minnesota after previously leading the universities team to a Final Four appearance. After a couple of years out in the cold, BJax would take his game to the hotter climates of Sacramento, CA.
These years would be the defining moments of Bobby’s career. The state of California offered Bobby a much bigger stage to display his talent. It was all lights, camera and ‘Action Jackson’. The Sacramento Kings of the early millennium were a Western Conference powerhouse. They may have not had a Tim Duncan or a Shaquille O’Neal but what they did have was one of the best rotations the League had ever seen. Vlade Divac, Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Doug Christie, Mike Bibby, Hedo Turkoglu, Scot Pollard and the ‘02-03 Sixth Man of The Year Bobby Jackson himself all contributed. This wealth of talent resulted in more wins and more cowbells.
This Sacramento team almost became Kings of the NBA forcing the Lakers on the ropes in the 2002 Western Conference Finals (were Jax averaged 12 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 1.6 apg in 22.1 mpg). The series had its controversies and many felt the victors of this seven game thriller would be the eventual NBA Champions. The Kings may not have tasted champagne but the team of the early 2000′s was one of the best in franchise history and Bobby Jackson played a crucial role coming off the pine.
SLAM: The Sacramento team of earlier in this decade that you were on was so deep and strong, how close was this unit?
BJ: It was close. We respected and supported each other on and off the court. You rarely find that, especially outside of basketball. If a guy had something going on we were definitely there for him. I think that we had a type of brotherhood.
SLAM: How important was this team’s rotation in beating other teams down the stretch?
BJ: I think it was understanding our roles. We had to know that the starters would rely on us and we knew that we had to come in and put energy into the game. I think that we just all continued to vibe off each other.
SLAM: Why do you think a title eluded you guys?
BJ: A lot of people had a lot of mixed emotions on that. I think that if you were to go back and look at the film you can see it was like eight guys against five. When the refs continue to give certain teams certain calls then is nothing you can do about it. I felt like at the end of the day we got cheated. There is nothing that we can do about it. If you look at the calls that the Lakers got and we didn’t get, I’m not complaining because they beat us, but you still question yourself on who is on the up and up during that time.
SLAM: Sacramento is proud of players like you. When you see the other guys from that Sacramento team you were on move on and be successful in so many different areas how proud does that make you?
BJ: Great. I think that just by seeing different guys and being a part of this community and being that this is the only franchise here in Sacramento, they will remember what you did and what you bring to the table, how you are as a person and in the community. They respect that in you as a person and they will support you through thick and thin. It is a great feeling to have the city and organization have you back. To have people who have played here in the past and have gone away and come back, they still have the love for them.
After his tenure with the Kings Bobby moved around different cities and teams over the years from Memphis to Houston. In between these stints he also played for the New Orleans Hornets, the team coming back after the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. Bobby may have changed teams regularly in the tail end of his career but the heart and passion he displayed on and off the court remained constant.
SLAM: What was it like playing in the great city of New Orleans?
BJ: I liked it, especially going there after Hurricane Katrina happened. In seeing the devastation and seeing how the fans supported us when we came back, it was tremendous. We definitely wanted to give back to the community. New Orleans is a beautiful city and they have their own culture and their own origins and food. Everything is all about New Orleans, once you go there you have to experience it. It is a city that never sleeps. The fans and the community there, they are great and they love the Hornets and they love the Saints.
On the court Jackson was tenacious on his way to career averages of 10 ppg, 3.1 rpg and 2.6 apg. He specialized in going hard to the basket no matter who was in his way, cutting through defenders like a knife through butter. At 6-1 and 185 pounds it was a daunting task for BJax to take it in the paint against Western Conference big men year after year. Bobby’s tenacity however made him the type of player that you could bring in during those mid-quarter lulls. BJax gave his teams the same sort of charged-up energy boosts that Vinnie ‘The Microwave’ Johnson bought to his 1980s Detroit Pistons. Jax had the same ability to come in and change the tempo and fortunes of his team very quickly heating up like a pressure cooker.
SLAM: One thing that stood out about your play was your speed. In a big man orientated conference how much of an advantage was that for you?
BJ: Tremendous. I had to guard guys out there a lot bigger than me, at 6-5, 6-6 and I am only 6-feet tall so I believe that played to my advantage because I could get out, I could play in passing lanes and get the fast breaks. It was a disadvantage for them because I was so fast and they had to guard me, just as well as I had to guard them. They probably tried to post me up, which rarely worked because of how I fought them on the post.
SLAM: For a small guard how daunting was the prospect of taking the ball to the basket in the tough West, with the risk it could have on injury?
BJ: Well I had a lot of injuries doing that. It didn’t change the way that I approached the game everyday. The younger I was, I was going to drive and get to the basket as much as possible, but the older I got I tried to settle for jump shots. You learn to pick and choose your spots and as a young player you don’t always know that. You want to go in there every time. Then you start to define your jump shot and I felt like when it was time for me to go to the basket I was going to the basket and there wasn’t anyone who was going to stop me. You have to have that mentality when you are playing with a lot of great players on the court.
SLAM: Players like yourself over the last decade have brought more attention to the value of key reserves. Why do you think this has been the trend over recent years? Are fans recognizing a better team game these days or is it simply because being a star today isn’t just about averaging 20 points?
BJ: I think that it is a compilation of all of that. The fans want excitement and want guys who are going to play hard ever night. Some starters do that every night and some don’t. As reserve guys we know that our team counts on us. We try to go out there and do the best that we can and go out there with as much energy as we have. We try to change the game and change the tempo.
SLAM: I see similarities between you and Vinnie ‘The Microwave’ Johnson. You both were so effective and valuable in crunch time situations. Who did you look up to coming up?
BJ: ‘The Microwave’ is a great name. He was effective when he came off the bench. Like he had a name, I had a name too, mine was ‘Buckets’. It was ‘Buckets’ because when I came into the game I got the buckets. He is a great role model, not just for me, but because of how effective he was when he came into the game and how the game changed, it was tremendous. I definitely wanted to add that to my game. Once people started calling me that I knew that I had to come up with my own name. I had to get my own swagger and how I approach my game.
Off-court Jackson may have had a different intensity but he still had the same heart and passion. B gives his all to his charity and community work, his relationship with his fans and various other ventures. BJax loves the fans and the fans love him. This hasn’t changed over the years from team to team but obviously one team stood out over the years as having a place in Jax’s heart. So as the final curtain of his playing career drew Bobby decided to pull an LL and Biggie as he headed back to Cali’ to rejoin Sacramento. Salisbury, North Carolina may have been where Bobby Jackson was born and raised but the city of Sacramento made sure Bobby felt at home.
Now retired Bobby will work with the Kings in various formats including community efforts and the development of players. This should help young talents like Tyreke Evans. Young players on the up and up who could benefit with the advice of a big-game specialist like Jackson.
Retirement will also offer Bobby more time to work on his many community and charity projects. The most important of course will be his continued work on his ‘Bobby Jackson Foundation’ which serves in the education, research and treatment of breast cancer. A foundation set up in the honor of his mother Sarah who tragically past away after a battle with the disease. Also on his agenda will be the ‘Bobby Jackson Livingstone College Basketball Camp’ which is held each summer in his hometown. Bobby will remain busy in many areas of the community and he will also continue to produce and work on the bizarre horror series ‘Nite Tales’ which Flavour Flav and other scary looking individuals have starred in.
SLAM: Your new role with the Kings means your involved in various areas, how do you feel fan interest can be generated again in this team?
BJ: I think there are different way that you can approach that, with the players, through media and by me going out to do speaking engagements at schools and organizations that you can get to commit to buys tickets. I think it has to be a collective agreement between everyone and everyone has to put their foot forward and try to get this thing back to where it was.
SLAM: Sacramento has a lot of talented players, guys like Martin, Evans and Garcia. Can these different talents mesh into a playoff team?
BJ: I think that anything is possible. I think that they are playing extremely well right now and it is a long season, but the sky is the limit for this young team. They can only get better with the more and more games that they play and they start to realize the mistakes that they shouldn’t make and realize the things that they should do. It is only going to make this team better.
SLAM: Although you will still be a busy man, retirement from playing will offer you more time. How important is that in continuing your great charity work and raising your family?
BJ: That is always important. That is what got me to where I am today is having family and giving back to the community and giving my time to charity. I believe that will always be a part of my life and my career. Now that I am not playing basketball I have other things to do, but I am always going to rely on giving back and doing charity work. Family is always going to be apart of me. They are what made me who I am today.
SLAM: Any more ‘Nite Tales’ in the works? That was one scary clown.
BJ: We are always in the works of doing different things. We have a new movie coming out in March or April of next year. It is called Chain Letter and it’s going to be a world wide movie. As for Nite Tales, it is always growing. We will probably start doing some more shows and I don’t know what the episodes are going to be like yet, but it is always a challenge when you step into something different.
BJax was one of the best reliable backups the League has seen during his playing career. Those days may be behind him now but with his passionate, motivated and positive attitude and his tenacious and generous work ethic he will continue this backing up and this reliability in all rings he throws his hat in. Its plain to see he has a lot to offer and he’s giving it by the bucket load.
Thursday, 25 August 2011
Originally Published By Slamonline 09/16/10 http://www.slamonline.com/online/other-ballers/womens/2009/09/this-womans-work/)
BY TIM DAVID HARVEY
It’s September 11, 2009. Magic Johnson touches down in LAX and a guy at the airport does a double take. “Its Magic! What’s he doing here?” This guy asks Magic why he’s not in Springfield welcoming in his new fellow Hall of Famers. Earvin looks at the guy and tells him he’s in L.A. honoring a future Hall of Famer… Lisa Leslie.
All eyes in the basketball world may have been focused on Massachusetts this weekend but another well-deserving basketball pioneer deserved her tribute too. The atmosphere in the Staples Center was buzzing with excitement like it was October 27 already. Lisa received her golden sneakers and a standing ovation in a fitting ceremony. After this finale year Leslie will have more ceremonies to look forward to. There’s the matter of her jersey being retired, and, in a couple years, she will be the one spending a mid-September weekend in Springfield. This time she won’t be joined by The Simpsons.
The WNBA is about to complete its 13th season, and Lisa’s been there since its conception, playing every season with the Los Angeles franchise. Lisa Leslie is the Los Angeles Sparks and she embodies the WNBA.
She’s done more for the WNBA than any other player. Lisa’s the consummate professional, dignified with respect for the game and respect for the right way of life. Lisa’s also a model both in fashion and citizenship. She’s a philanthropist, active in the community. Leslie has as much heart as she has hustle. Even when it was her turn in the spotlight at last weekend’s farewell ceremony, she reminded everybody that it’s all about passing the ball. The NBA could definitely use more players like her.
Let’s not get it twisted, in her day, Lisa could school a lot of NBA guys too. It’s a good thing the League didn’t let her play with the big boys like the PGA Tour let Michelle Wie do in golf, because a lot of guys would have been embarrassed… real embarrassed.
The WNBA may still be on the rise, but a lot of people simply turn their noses up at it. It’s a pity because women can ball too. The WNBA’s current slogan is ‘Expect Great’ and that’s what you get every time you watch a game. This league is no sideshow and these players aren’t pushovers. It’s rich with talent, and Lisa is still the cream of the crop after all these years. The Sparks No. 9 paved the way for so many female basketball players to come through. Fans shouldn’t look at the cheap tickets and sneer, they should look at the affordable tickets as an opportunity to see a basketball great before she calls it a career.
One playoff series, one more run at a championship, one last shot at a ring. Barring a comeback this is all Lisa’s got left. After all she’s achieved for the WNBA, it still comes down to now. Lisa Leslie’s great performances and efforts on and off the court have been so important for the sport for over a decade now. Lisa has been dominant on both ends of the floor, scoring points, grabbing rebounds and blocking shots. She’s the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and she’s still a potent offensive threat.
Leslie devoted herself to honing her skills over the years. She even played in Russia in the ‘05-06 offseason just to continue working. Lisa is the perfect role model for young women and men alike. She’s a champion, an MVP and a mother too. A true superwoman like Alicia Keys sang about. Lisa’s an icon in female sports and the poster child for the WNBA. She may not have been only female to grace SLAM’s cover like Chamique Holdsclaw, but she was the first WNBA player to catch a dunk in July of 2002. This was one of the women’s Association’s defining moments, and Lisa owns it.
Lisa Leslie has done it all in the WNBA with career averages of 17.3 ppg and 9.1 rpg. She did it with the enthusiasm, determination, leadership and influence that can not be measured. Leslie’s career includes statistical highs such as 41 points and 29 rebounds and personal highs such as two rings, three MVPS and four Olympic gold medals. Some men remain ignorant to the achievements of women in sports. There’s a problem when the only time a woman graces the cover of Sports Illustrated regularly is when she’s in a swimsuit. Lisa’s 13 strong years at center going to battle in the paint, elbows first can not be passed over. There’s a reason she’s achieved global appeal, there’s a reason she guests on The Simpsons, and there’s a reason her autobiography was called Don’t Let the Lipstick Fool You. These reasons weren’t for gimmicks. Lisa Leslie was and is the real deal.
If it’s hard enough for a player to comeback and rediscover their form after injury, think how hard it is for a player to comeback and rediscover their form after childbirth. This is exactly what Lisa did after sitting out the 2007 season. This was done through hard work and persistence. A strong woman, giving her all to her work and personal life.
She leads all WNBA players in career points and rebounds; she’s been named the Player of the Week a record 14 times. She’s still as dominant and effective in the final weeks of her career then she was in her rookie season. The star of Los Angeles Sparks may as well follow in the footsteps of Los Angeles Laker legend Jerry West and have her silhouette integrated into the WNBA logo. Taking nothing away from WNBA greats like Diana Taurasi or Sue Bird, Lisa’s popularity and appeal makes it clear that in the WNBA, she is the man… so to speak.
She helped spearhead the global appeal of female basketball. Just like she dominated in the league, she dominated in the Olympics. Lisa is the first athlete as a member of a team to win four consecutive Olympic Gold medals. If Lisa is dismissed by narrow minded fans as someone who doesn’t deserve legendary status, then these same fans need to dust off her trophy cabinet.
Lisa has led the first 10 years of the WNBA and her legend will last throughout more decades. She is an influence to players in the league and players coming up. Her worldwide appeal and influence has helped more girls pick up a basketball when everyone else was telling them it was just a man’s game.
One young woman this eight-time All-Star influenced is fellow Spark’s teammate Candace Parker. What more can be said about this young sophomore? She (herself coming back after child birth) is dominating and getting better and better. This reigning MVP and Rookie of the Year is the future of the WNBA’s next decade, and she could bring the game even more popularity and worldwide appeal. The more her star rises the WNBA’s stock will rise. If Candace is the LeBron James of the woman’s game then Lisa Leslie is the Michael Jordan. Lisa influenced and inspired Candace while she was growing up and hoop dreaming. Today in her last years Lisa is mentoring Candace is her first years. They form the perfect partnership — the legend and the star. Their games compliment each other and they give the Sparks the talent to go far and the league the star power to attract more fans. If only they had more time together. Think of the excitement, think of the dominance, think of the rings.
But this is the last chance for this particular partnership to obtain that elusive ring for the L.A. Sparks. How fitting and deserving would it be for Lisa if Los Angeles won it all this year? This is Lisa’s last dance and she knows all the right steps. The Sparks take on the Seattle Storm this week. Before Lisa retires and passes the torch to Candace once and for all, she will have one more chance to show the world how good she really is.
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
'Miller Time' makes way for a Ray of light.
By Tim David Harvey
Swish, swish, swish! This year saw Reggie Miller doing the talking, while someone else was doing the playing. Reggie stepped into the Spike Lee role as Ray Allen was on Miller time. OK, so it wasn't as dramatic as it sounds, but just like Mars Blackmon and Michael Jordan, all Reggie could do was watch, hug and congratulate as Ray Allen beat his all time 3 point leading record. There was nothing he or nobody could do about it and there won't be for a long time. Nobody can touch or new 3 ball man Ray Allen. SWISH! Noooobody!
You see Reggie took the bullets out his dead-eye, assassins gun a long time ago and despite a few inklings to pull an M.J., Miller didn't want to tug a hamstring two, so retired he stayed. Nowadays Reggie is a commentator and that's exactly what he was doing when he and his ESPN team watched Boston Celtic, Ray Allen nail bucket after bucket as he kept raining on Millers all-time three pointers made record this season back. DAMN! Now that's got to hurt. Years ago they where talking about how Reggie was a better three-point shooter then Bird. Now that's all flying away as when it's all said and done, the best three title now belongs to a member of Boston's big-three.
Still it was nothing put pride and joy as Reggie commentated and real talked about Ray and his legacy. As the torch is being passed at least he can be rest assured that someone is keeping the shooters touch burning pure. Besides, from New York City to the pages of SLAM, Reggie always relished the villain role. Now what better a hero to overcome the villain then our saviour, Jesus Shuttlesworth? Spike Lee couldn't write it any better. Ray Allen's got game and he's got Reggie. His 2,612career three's and counting have torched Millers incredible 2,560. Now sure Jason Kidd's is in third place on the all time made list with 1,795, but his bronze shot is almost a thou below Ray's. Plus Jason? Your kidding right. Solid, yep, but pure? This aint child's play. Ray passed Reggie's high, three point bar like law school as the books were re-wrote. Still one question remains however, which player is the better shooter? Is number 34 really one better then number 33?
Technically speaking yes...technically speaking that is. Both shots of course are historically pure, but there's something so fluid and pure about Allen's rays. From the hand and eye, plus body coordination and positioning, to the range of motion. Purity is this shooters devotion. It almost looks rigid, but it's relaxed. Honed after years of practicing at home. Like an EA video game before all that real DNA technology, but this is live in living colour. You almost expect every shot to go in, Jesus even shows those courtside miracles pre-game by turning sat down shots on the pine to water. Sure Reggie's flick of the wrist shot worked so well ESPN made a movie out of it, but Allen's just looks a bit better, and is looking even better by the game and the record breaking.
Statistically speaking Allen edges Miller two. Obviously Ray has shot down the greatest figure, but right now his stats across the board stack up better too. Allen (6,554) has taken less shots to get to this milestone point than Reggie did in his career (6,486) but obviously Reggie has played more then Ray and surely if Miller came back he could make even more three's with his time. Still at this point Allen's .399 percentile marginally passes Reggie's,.395. This is not a test. The baton truly has been passed, from one legend to another.
Still, (and this isn't taking anything away from Ray) there was just something about Reggie Miller. You have to have love for someone who everybody hated. The bad guys are normally the ones you root for more in drama, whether fictionalised or televised. Seriously, who do you prefer? Batman or the Joker? Reggie played his cards right two, playing the bad guy to a tee like Tiger, just with love for the game. Now Ray Allen is a clutch king, who can shoot over anything, including prison walls, just ask Denzel, but compared to Reggie's clutch, forget about it. There's nothing between them, not even 8.9 seconds, right Spike? I'm sorry Spike who? Reggie had that, it's my game, killer instinct like only two others in history. Those being these two guys you may have heard about, Kobe and M.J.
The difference between Miller and the two greatest of all time was that Reggie was more adept from three, as he routinely dropped F-bombs from behind the arc, two by two like Noah, three by three like M.J and Kobe trophies. Sure there was no ring, but their where plenty of classic, gold, 'Where Amazing Happens' moments that if the playoffs and conferences where different would have been perfect ends to NBA Finals. Sure Ray's threes impressed the hell out of people, but Reggie's scared the s*** out of folk. Just ask Spike Lee, Madison Square Garden and the city of New York. Allen may hold all sorts of three point records from the season (269) to the finals (8) but Reggie holds the heart of New York basketball in his merciless grip, right to the core of their rotten 90's playoff runs.
Sure, now where going further beyond the arc to Robert Horry territory, because that still isn't a determinant for how pure these guys three point shots are in comparison. It's merely just a hint. With this comparison where going into who is the better player range, mind over mechanics, which has only a little to do with the purity of the shot and more to do with everything else that comes later. As for the shooting however, critics, fans, bloggers and anyone else alike could take shots all day. The fact remains that both guys sniper shots (that are actually real, taken and made) where and are as pure as straight vodka with no chaser. Still, as Ray downs Reggie's milestone, another thing is as clear as Smirnoff. Ray has indeed shot down Reggie and he's got plenty more bullets in his gun for his next season and legacy. The gunslinger is about to draw again. Swish, swish, SWISH!
Tuesday, 23 August 2011
'London Prepares' an invitational Basketball tournament a year before the Olympics.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
OK, so the 2012 Olympics may be less than a year away but last week London held an invitational basketball tournament this last week to help the city and some of the fans and teams get ready for next years biggest event on the sporting calender. Six top teams from around the continents of the world faced off with each other in the new Lemon Meringue, dessert looking Basketball stadium as a starter for things to come. With five days of basketball with three games in each fans where left full with as much talented basketball as they could lap up. 'BASKETBALL 24/48/82' was on hand on Saturday to join those taking in the action but let's take a look back at the entire working week of games and look at each team in the order of how they finally came out in the final standings of the leaders table.
FRANCE: The French team have the ability to field five NBA players as their starting team and that may just be the reason why they won all five games in this tournament. Tony Parker was dishing behind his back, revealing the player of old while Chicago Bull Joakim Noah was just an outstanding player in his own right yet again. Nicolas Batum again was on the rise, while Boris Diaw showed the flashes of brightness that made him a premier Phoenix Sun. Florent Piétrus also made up for the absence of his brother Mickaël Piétrus while the injured Ronny Turiaf made up for his on-court absence with his usual passion and team promotion off the bench. In fact the whole French team spoke the right language as they said Au Revoir to all their opponents. Ooh la, la!
AUSTRALIA (AUS BOOMERS): Here comes the boom...and in a big way. Even without NBA star Andrew Bogut this team wasn't a bust. Led by Portland Trail Blazer Patrick Mills this team led a trail showing the world that they weren't down under and below their top ten world rank (number 9). With top performances from guys like Mark Worthington and Joe Ingles these players where efficient across the board forming one of the tournaments most cohesive and put together teams. They lost only to tourney winners France and boomeranged from their second day defeat to win the rest of the week. After a wonderful weekend they showed the fans who stayed after Team G.B's game on Saturday that they where worth the watch and wait. Getting closer to the action courtside we could really see and hear just how competitive and effectively run this team were. When the Olympics come calling next year, everyone will see and hear so much more.
CROATIA: The Croatian nation are full of more than just ballplayers most commentators found hard to pronounce, they are stacked to the rafters of jersey retirement worthy players. Boston Celtic Marko Popović know how to get it popping, while Croatian league favourite, but not exactly home-bred Dontaye Draper gives this nation a whole different dimension. When Saturday came the Croatians lost big to France, but to close out the weekend and the tournament they blew out China. Croatia may have also lost to the Aussie's but they won the Serbian grudge match and showed the hosts what troubles they could have next year. Britain are good, but the 'great' right now resides in Croatia.
SERBIA: Sure things could have gone a little better for Serbia, but even after losing three games they still played hard and managed to squeeze two good wins out the tournament. They matched Australia's toughness and competitive fire on a hard fought last game on Saturday and they beat up on Great Britain and made China hit a wall. Behind great players like the Nba's Nenad Krstic and the tough Stefan Markovic the nation showed they had a lot up front and with a points percentage of 103.08 they proved they could put up numbers with the big boys. Don't count them out for next years big stage.
GREAT BRITAIN: On Saturday we saw the British team win their one and only game against China and even though where democratic (being based in the U.K after all) it was a strong performance. This team showed the improvements that were necessary for them to qualify for their own hosted Olympics next year. Even in their losses they showed heart and a soul to their team. Even without NBA star Ben Gordon, poster boy Pops Mensah-Bonsu or their captain Drew Sullivan, this team showed a lot of promise behind their torch-carrier and biggest star and national pride attraction Luol Deng. The Chicago star was charging and on fire with some power plays also being a block away from another win. The whole British team looks good however from Robert Archibald to Daniel Clark, proving there much more than what's on paper. Sure they didn't unfold in this competition but they sure look worthwhile for 2012.
CHINA: The Yao Ming dynasty may be over and this team may have suffered a death in this tournament-losing every game-but still you best believe this Asian nation is still alive and on the rise. They are far from over or done, look for them next year to run. You see their record in this tournament reflects more the overall talent pool of this invitational than their 'lack of'. Sure improvements must be made but we fancy this Chinese side. They displayed toughness and competitiveness against the host nation and proved they where worthy of their invite. They won't be picked last next year too with great talent in depth and diversity. Yi Jianlian us a shot or two of improvement away from being the next big thing and he isn't the only one with moves or skills. Former Dallas Maverick Wang Zhizhi is champion off the bench and former Laker Sun Yue is a golden talent L.A. should have mined. Besides in a jersey ugly tournament they had the best kit and surely that must count for something. They'll be a good look for next year.
So there you have it, a nice little taster for things to come next year and a great couple of days in roundball to feed that 'Basketball Jones' which has been itching more with this lockout. All the nations locked it down and on the worlds stage in London showed that the future of international basketball is in safe palms. The development of the 2012 Olympics looks great, even if there is till overdue grounds work to be done in the Olympic Village. This city is ready, the world is watching and we can't wait for next year.
A few more years aren't going to stop Kevin Garnett.
By Tim David Harvey
"Excuse me? Was you saying something?/Uh uh, you can't tell me nothing"-KANYE WEST: CAN'T TELL ME NOTHING.
What's happened over the last few years? What happened to the next chapter in the storied Celtic franchises dynasty? A few years removed from the first championship of the new millennium came their sophomore slump and in some peoples argument this years saw the latest end to the storied Lakers/Celtics reign thanks to Miami and Dallas. Is this a glitch in the matrix? Or are the Celtics simply not the team they were a few seasons before? Has too much been read into this Boston team? Or was last year just a hiatus from the top? Are these guys too old? Has the baton of Eastern Conference dominance now been handed to a new big-three in Miami? Or is this fab four about to be famous for the dynasty they tried to make?
The primary reason the Celtics ‘only’ made it to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals the year following their championship win was due to the loss to injury of Kevin Garnett. Kevin was more than just a catalyst of these new Celtics when he was bought over in 2007. Kevin was the big ticket that booked Boston’s place in the NBA Finals. Without ‘Da Kid’ the Celtics more than likely wouldn’t have even made it to the NBA Finals, let alone win. Lets face it not many people were excited about the Celtics until KG was bought in. When Ray Allen was traded for, the idea of him playing alongside Paul Pierce wasn’t screamed from every Boston rooftop. Once Kevin signed on however the rest was NBA Finals history as New England scored and remained hoarse.
So for the Celtics to even think about contending for another championship again next season they need Garnett healthy and ready to go. That being said ever since injuring his knee, for the first time in his career Kevin’s name was surrounded with doubt and questions. To go along with his diminishing age (35) and numbers (still big) critics are already trying to call time on his career or at least his prime. More questions are being raised like the expectation of his jersey to the rafters. Can he come back? Is he done?
Still it's the reason that Garnett's number 5 will be retired here that means that this ceremony in Boston will be awhile off yet. Kevin is a die-hard, retire later, passionate, big-time player. He's far from done. A blown knee or later years aren't about to change that. Everyone who doubts ‘Da Kid’ has reason for concern but they seem to forget that the guy their doubting is Kevin Garnett. One of the greatest of all time. The best forward in the league today not called Tim Duncan. The franchise player, the difference maker, the man. He screams when others shout, he bleeds when others sweat, he gives more when everyone else gives in.
Injuries are injuries however and age is age the name of every player that has suffered from a knee injury now comes with questions and doubt. Guys like Greg Oden, Jason Kidd and Tracy McGrady. These guys may be some of the best players in the league right now but they all have a high-profile injury history. Who would blame anyone if they hesitated to build a team round any of these players? A knee injury is one of the worst injuries an athlete can suffer no matter the severity of the condition. Rehabilitation takes a long time and it’s easy for a player’s condition to relapse and for the injury to flare up again. That’s just the lucky players; a lot of guys never come back from an injury this bad. Most players can kiss goodbye to their hops, form and maybe even their contracts.
So it really is little wonder that people doubt whether KG is or ever will be the player he used to be before the injury and now with his seasoned years? With that being said however it can’t be denied that at full fitness and health there really is nobody like Kevin. Its easily forgot that KG can play all five positions. Clone this dude five times and you can put the Lakers and Cleveland debate to rest. This guy is still as crazy as when he entered the league as a skinny kid with a high top fade back in ’95. Look at how he dominated Pau Gasol in the finals. Look at the All-Star selections. Look at the post-moves, the shot selection, the dunks and the blocks. He does it all at the highest level. He’s still slight but muscular, so strengths no problem. He’s been a mismatch problem his whole career. He pioneered the big small forward position which guys like Lamar Odom and Anthony Randolph are now using to their benefit and their teams advantage.
Injuries whether chronic or career threatening can never really be generalised. The outcome of a player recovering from injury is really judged on a case by case basis. For every Jason Kidd there’s a Penny Hardaway. Sometimes if a player is determined enough and works hard they can overcome their injury and return to form. Kevin’s never say die attitude and amazing work ethic puts him in the company of people like Grant Hill as opposed to guys like Derrick Coleman. The unfortunate thing that with serious injury comes the annoying labelling of doom and gloom. Kevin Garnett is the type of guy that would rather go find his own luck then be a fatalist. He has rebounded from his injury as well as he does in that statistical category, and he still scores big, even if critics and former fans are trying to box him out.
So Kevin’s not about to give up this easily on his health, years or his team. So why are people giving up on him? Critics may not be out for the big tickets number however Kevin does seem to be getting quietly dismissed. Why should he? Garnett is easily in the top ten players in the NBA and his franchise is still top five. He is one of the most effective players in the L. With career averages of 19.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.6 blocks per game K.G. is as versatile as they come. The numbers don’t lie even if the injury lists shed doubt. The one thing about Kevin that can never be measured statistically is his invaluable heart and passion. His competitive but fair nature. His desire to win but his respect for the game. The consummate professional but the unyielding warrior.
It was heart breaking for Boston fans to have seen Kevin in a suit at the end of Boston’s bench during their most critical run in the late season and playoffs of 2009. He looked as disappointed as a veteran who still had some game left in him but was placed on the injured reserve list. KG clearly looked upset, he was behind his Celtic team but he wanted to be leading them. His Celtic team weren’t at their full potential then, but when they are these days they're almost impossible to beat, just ask…well anybody. Years later after overcoming all of this do you really think he's in the mood to give up? This is the same man who fought back tears after being interviewed about losing in the Minnesota years. He is a winner, he won't give up. He can't give up.
Garnett doesn’t belong on the sidelines suited and booted; he belongs on the court in uniform and sneakers. He belongs in the game yelling, pumping his fists, tugging his jersey, headbutting the bottom of the basket and hitting his chest, head or anything that helps psyche him and amp his team up. Garnett’s team needs him yelling on the scoreboards video at the start of the player introductions because he sets the tone. Its Kevin’s aforementioned heart and passion that denies this competitive fire from being doused. It’s this heart and passion that has kept him working all these years when there was no light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s the same heart and passion that helped him get through all those years of losses in Minnesota. The same soul that helped him overcome the Stephon Marbury trade or the utterly tragic death of his idol, and one of the most underrated talents in the NBA, the late, great Malik Sealy. If you watch the DVD 'KG', you can see just how much this still hurts him and how much he carries Sealy's name with everything he does. A true man, team-mate and friend himself Garnett is all heart. 'Aint that right Sam? Mitchell or Cassell you can ask them all. It’s the same heart and passion that will help him keep the Celtics and his window open in what some see as the Winter of their reign. When others sleep Kevin will be on the beach, meditating and working out from dusk till dawn and until the gym opens for him to be the first to enter and last to leave. Now that's amazing, now that's dedication. Next year, once again he will come back stronger and more focused then ever.
Do not count out the Boston Celtics next year and definitely do not count out Kevin Garnett. Throughout KG’s career his passion, dedication and work-ethic have made him the type of player that the saying ‘Blood, sweat and tears’ literally applies to. Just remember the emotion when Michelle Tafoya interviewed Kevin after he won his first championship. The words he struggled to get out through tears and the joy shown in the pumps of his fists. That night Kevin had finally achieved something that had eluded him for so frustratingly long. It was clear to see it was everything he dreamed it would be, but it was also evident that he wasn’t done. Not yet anyway.
"Anything is possible...ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE"-KEVIN GARNETT NBA Finals 2008
Monday, 22 August 2011
Changing your game.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
To all those young, aspiring basketball players out there looking to develop their game you need look no further than the coaching and training of Marqus Coleman from Oakland, California. This talented man has coached on so many levels, from High School to pro and he has helped male and female players of all ages. His 10 year coaching career has also seen him help the development of NBDL players and he is currently an assistant coach at San Francisco State University. Coleman also runs many boot camps and trains some of the pros. He's been working with a very, athletic and talented young man by the name of Aalim Moor (a focus of another one of our features) who really is going places. The same can be said for Marqus who's about to take his career, as well as the talent of the individuals he coaches and trains to a whole new level. So let's go over some X's and O's with Coach Coleman.
24/48/82: How you doing coach? Congratulations on all your success. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
MARQUS COLEMAN: I am doing well. Thank you. I draw my inspiration from different people I see in the coaching business. I am always exited to watch coaches like Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers who are passionate about the game and create ownership opportunities for the their players on the floor. Also at the same time the young people inspire me, because they are hungry to be better. Once we get going they always want more, which forces me to produce more.
24/48/82: Can you tell us what you've been working on recently?
M.C.:I recently finished a major collaboration called the “Moor III Project”, which was put together on film and made available for viewing. Following the completion of this project, I took some personal time off to take my daughter to Grambling State University, where she will be participating as a full D1 scholarship athlete on the women’s basketball team. In the upcoming weeks I have plans for some new team training sessions, as well as continuing with my existing clients. I am also looking forward to major projects arising in 2012.
24/48/82: You have to love this kid Aalim Moor. His dedication and work ethic, you make a great team. Can you tell us more about what you guys have been working on?
M.C.: Aalim Moor is a great kid. The relationship that was created between teacher and student is a bond that will last throughout his basketball career. We have been consistently discussing carrying on his workout to coincide with his season at San Jose State University. Aalim is currently in Rome with his SJSU team, prepping for four big international games. Upon his return, we will to communicate and discuss how to increase and strengthen his growth level.
24/48/82: Moor really is going places, just how far do you think he can go?
M.C.: Aalim in my opinion has a shot at the pro level. I think his passion for being the best he can be is not limited to just college basketball. He has been able to adapt to any level of play so far and I think that will continue. We talk a lot about how we are building for the pro level in everything we do.
24/48/82: I love the different types of creative drills you do with him, especially the ones that simulate certain things that happen in-game. Can you tell our readers more about these techniques, like the bungee cord resistance training?
M.C.: The techniques I used in Aalim’s workout are based on my philosophy of 2-6-2. We work the moves two seconds at a time, within six inches of his body, to create the two feet of space you need to complete a successful move on the floor. The resistance band helps simulate playing against a force holding you back, in doing so it strengthens each factor of the “2-6-2”. However, in order for this workout to reach its full potential, the player undergoing the workout must maintain a professional level of focus and concentration on every aspect and detail of every drill. I believe that the greatest pro players are masters at playing consistently in small areas of the floor.
24/48/82: I'm really impressed with the way Moor manages to take the resistance and get his shot off. This technique must really be one of the best ways to develop a players offensive skill and one of the closest things to actually one-on-one or in game basketball right?
M.C.: I believe it is the best. If a player can move and be explosive with resistance, that player will have no problem creating space against any opponent.
24/48/82: What do you see as your most important type of drills and skills to develop with a young player of Moor's type?
M.C.: Moor is a point guard. The drills are broken up into 3 parts: From half court to the top of the key, I create drills of leadership and mental understanding of the entire floor. Second: From the top of the key to the second peg of the lane, I create drills of decision-making. The idea is to make the point guard think ahead, and how to set teammates up to succeed. Lastly: From the peg to the box is all about making the goal, that is when you have a scoring mentality. Within these drills I break the court up in percentages, using 25% of the half court for each skill moves to create different angles of execution while changing the complexion of the floor for the defender.
24/48/82: When you start with a new player, what do you first look to train and develop?
M.C.: I teach a player two things: first is footwork because that is the building block for a player to be successful at a high level. The second, I start working on the mind. I create tests of understanding the game mentally. I the player to be able simulate and create a visual of what their opponent is seeing at all times.
24/48/82: Can you tell us more about your work with the San Francisco State University and your time in high school playing and coaching?
M.C.: This is my second year with SFSU. My role is guard development for their women’s program. Every drill I create is based on real situations of the type of offense we are running. I played ball in high school and was fortunate to win a state title my senior year. However, coaching has always been my passion. I started coaching an 8th grade basketball team during my sophomore year of high school. I always had a drive to be a leader on my sports teams both mentally and physically. Being a point guard and embracing the role helped me develop leadership that later characterized and shaped my coaching abilities.
24/48/82: How about your work in the NBDL and with the pros? How rewarding and valuable to your experience has that been?
M.C.: Every summer I am fortunate enough to be given an opportunity to work with the Bakers Field Jam during their tryout period. Being a part of this has raised my level of teaching due to the serious attitude towards the game, the intensity and pace. These players who come to participate approach the game in a business manner, allowing me to walk away with new findings on how to add to a pro workout and help them succeed at that level.
24/48/82: You've done many great things in 10 years, what's been your most rewarding experience?
M.C.: My most rewarding experience in 10 years was meeting Maaeah Howell (who has now become my surrogate daughter). This was a kid that wasn’t skilled but had a passionate desire to play at the division 1 level. We started working out and in two and half years of development I was able to watch her sign her letter of intent to Grambling State University. I have worked with a lot of players, but by far she is an inspiration and has a story to tell about going against all odds to achieve her goal in life.
24/48/82: I'm really impressed with your 'Elite Boot Camp' and it's philosophies. Can you tell us more about this?
M.C.: The Elite Boot Camp is designed to improve the athlete in more areas than just the basketball court. I wanted to combine the whole experience of athletics into a program that wasn’t so routine as showing up and shooting for an hour or open court drills. The body is a machine and you have to program it to function the way you need it to at all times, but the only way to do that is to build in stages in the most extreme conditions. I will admit the workout is unorthodox and looking at it from the outside in can be troubling for some to understand, but once you start to see the results in the athlete it tends to grow on you, leaving you wanting more. The mental growth that I have seen in the players from these workouts is rewarding.
24/48/82: Can you share with our readers the camps core principles that you have created?
M.C.: The most important principle, and perhaps the most unique part of my training is that I create my workouts around the individual athlete. Most camps offer a structured training session and expect the athlete to follow suit. I prefer to work in small groups in order to give the participants personalized workouts. When I run group training sessions, I design a curriculum that includes what I believe to be the three major factors to becoming an elite player; explosion, conditioning and consistency. Another major principle I try to install in the workouts is work ethic. In other words, learning how to workout. Anybody can go to the gym and break a sweat and claim they worked out. My goal is to teach young athletes how to give 110% on every detail of their workout and make the most out of each minute spent in the gym.
24/48/82: Can you also tell us more about the camps 'Six Step Athletic Scholarship Search System'?
M.C.: The six step camp was created by Patricia Marino and Al Musante after their daughter was in the process of trying to get recruited to play college basketball. I had the pleasure of coaching their daughter in high school and training her in the off-season. I like to share this story on how this book, workshop and self-help book came to life. This process was created to give parents the information and step by step instructions needed on how to go after their child’s dream of being a college athlete, on their own. Patricia and Al were forced to market their child to the college community without the stage of AAU or a recruiting service. The end result through their efforts landed her a full ride to the University of San Francisco, were she played and graduated. I would encourage every parent of any sport to pick up this workbook and get proactive in the process of helping their child get to college athletically. We have combined the Six Step clinic with my camp to give kids the complete program to help them become athletically better but more importantly knowledgeable of how to approach a university with all administrative steps in order. Knowledge of the details of the recruiting process is often over-looked, we assume that if an athlete is talented enough a school will automatically pick them up. This book reveals tips and secrets that everyone parent or athlete can benefit from.
24/48/82: You strike me as the kind of coach that loves and feels like its his duty to coach and help as many different individuals as possible, which is incredible. It shows true love of the game over those who just want to bulk up their resume. Just how important is it for people to realise that great basketball extends more than just the NBA or men etc?
M.C.: I am a mentor and a role model first before I am a basketball trainer. The life lessons you can teach in this business are more important than the NBA or any level of playing. Once I take on a new client I feel it is my job to stay with them for the duration of their life. I take it personal because as a trainer I get to see the vulnerability in people. By discovering those things, I want the player to maintain a positive experience and leave the training with a foundation to help determine their future. To me mentoring athletes is like conditioning; if you stop running for 72 hours, you will fall out of shape. If I stop mentoring for a minute I may lose a player to distraction, but more importantly I may lose a person who in turn will not achieve success in life.
24/48/82: You do a lot to help a players confidence, some may say the most important skill. Can you share with us more on how you help develop this?
M.C.: Confidence is everything. The first thing I will tell them is; “when you step on the court you have to feel you are the best one out there” Not with a cocky attitude but with your approach to the game. The next step is making the player great in one area of the game. A lot of players believe that to be good they have to be masters at all aspects of the game. This goal is more or less impossible. I try to teach my players to master one small area of the game at the time. As the player becomes great at each area of the game, the confidence grows and the game becomes easier for them.
24/48/82: Who inspires you most in coaching?
M.C.: Ansara Johnson. He has filled 3 major roles in my life, a father figure, brother and friend. He started mentoring me as a young person and taught me about being a leader in life as well as in the gym. The great thing is we are still as close today as we were when I was young kid trying to figure this whole thing out. We continue you to work hard week in and week out mentoring young people in our community by using basketball as a platform to create successful people in society.
24/48/82: What advice you have for young aspiring coaches?
M.C.: I would tell the up and coming coaches, learn as much as you can about the game in small steps. Gain experience in one area and then move to the next, know what you are good at and surround yourself with people that are good in other areas. Also, volunteer for as much as you can at the higher levels. Moving up in this profession is about opportunity and trust. Develop relationships with integrity and do it because you love the game.
24/48/82: Thank you for your time it's been much appreciated and all the best of luck because your going far. Although your already achieving so much you seem driven for more. What's next for you and what do you see as your long term goals?
M.C.: I am working on a few things in the coming future that should allow me to be involved in the game of basketball more. My long term goal is to work for the NBA in some capacity. I would love to be involved in this game full time, but I remain patient for the day I get the opportunity to work for a professional organization. Tim, thank you for all your time and effort spending time with me. Hopefully the next time we sit down I will have much more to share with you.
There's no doubt Marqus Coleman will have more to share with us the next time we interview him because the last thing he'll be doing is sitting down. The more and more this man works the more and more you'll be seeing and hearing of him. Marqus doesn't just talk a good game, he knos one too. from every X and O, to developing every sort of talent in every which way possible. Soon it won't just be this hard working coach's students who will be living their NBA dreams. Coleman has the talent, drive and ethic that the big leagues welcome with open playbooks. Watch this space.