Category Archives: Basketball

Basketball’s Artistic Merit

The Fung Bros.’ video on NBA Moves got me thinking about the artistic nature of the athletic performance of basketball moves and scoring.

Even though the ultimate goal is to win by outscoring one’s opponent, it isn’t enough that the players just get the ball into the hoop as many times as possible.  Methodology necessitates that players try to keep the other team from scoring by getting the ball back or “fouling” them.  In baseball, the pitcher strikes out the batters; in football, the defense keeps the other team from getting another set of downs, sacks the quarterback, or intercepts the ball; in hockey and futbol, and I imagine to a similar extent basketball, each team tries to get the puck/ball to score.  Hence, the back-and-forth quality of these three sports compared to baseball and football, where the former is more stationary and the latter consists of a series of stop-and-go’s.

In addition to the technique and skills required to put the ball in the hoop, though, does a player have to execute these plays with ostensibly intentional rhythmic and complex footwork?  Is the footwork a byproduct of trying to get the ball close enough to the hoop to dunk?  The more I watch a variety of basketball plays, the more I see artistry in the physics of that choreography no matter how (co)incidental.

Basketball game-play impresses me as being more unpredictable than football.  The gridiron is a much larger stage and the fluidity of certain plays contributes to the notion that every outcome is planned.  It seems that basketball invites and involves more improvisation down the court.

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On the Mind, Brain, and Bob Knight

There’s a book on the Korean War by Bruce Cumings that I bought a few years and still haven’t properly started reading.  It is among the handful of other books (fiction and non-fiction) that I still have not finished reading.

bcKW

 

And yet, what do I keep doing?  Buying more books and reading a few of them back-to-back and then starting/stopping a couple others. After my trip to my neighborhood Barnes & Noble today, looks like The Korean War is going to have to continue waiting for its turn to be read.  I went to the bookstore with the intentions of getting Unbroken (Angelina Jolie, 2014) and The Blind Side (John Lee Hancock, 2009) so I could write about them and potentially re-evaluate my thoughts concerning their presentation and themes.

Upon browsing the science and sports sections, though, I came away with three books:
livres

Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking by Richard E. Nibsett
— I read his book Geography of Thought many years ago and enjoyed it.  I even emailed him about the concept of amaeru (and he responded!  This was back in the day before social media was an appropriate way of contacting published scholars, writers, artists, athletes, companies, etc).

A Season On the Brink: A Year With Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers by John Feinstein
— John Feinstein possesses such a pithy and humorous narrative voice.  See previous posts about his work.

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman
— I like reading about cognition; I also like the way this book smells.

Oui.  I’m probably going to read them concurrently; I’m a few pages in already on A Season on the Brink.  Before the inevitable waxing poetic on Mr. Feinstein’s writing, though, I am going to address whether or not the NBA, MLB and possibly NHL have teams whose websites need footer updates.  After clicking through half a dozen NBA teams’ sites, their footers are much more consistent (if not identical) in text and display and reflect the current calendar year…unlike the NFL’s teams every-which-way UI/UX.

Je vais finir, je vais finir.

 

Happy Cupid’s Arrow

In the spirit of the day, a week into Monkey year, these words pour out of my finger tips.

Visibility reached to dangerous levels as the rain pelted down the windshield of the van in which Henrietta was riding as a front passenger.  It was a last minute decision to hail a ride through an app that was still in beta testing.  Her cousin assured her that it was safe and operational, the user interface just hadn’t been finalized yet because the creative team was awaiting approvals from their director, Marshall, who was recuperating in the hospital after nearly drowning in an effort to save his eight year-old Saint Bernard, Augusto.

Henrietta tapped the dashboard hard.  The driver turned to her and shouted over the rain, “What? What’s going on?”

“I need to get out of this car!”

“Rain?!” the driver waved his left arm out in front of him, pointing to the onslaught of precipitation.

“I know, I just gotta get out of this car now!”

The driver shrugged and brought the car to a stop by the front entrance of a high school just down the road.  Henrietta thanked the man for his time, re-positioned her jacket so that it covered her head and dashed out of the van.  She tried three doors before finding a fourth one unlocked.  After removing her jacket and wringing out water from her long, black hair, Henrietta realized she had escaped into the school’s gym.

Most of the lights above the bleachers and the basketball hoops were out, but the ceiling lights above the stage were still operational.  Henrietta walked towards the center of the court when she noticed a human figure hunched over on the bottom bleacher nearest the painting of the school mascot, an armadillo or a mutant rat.  Henrietta slowed her breathing, tried to tremble less from feeling cold, and debated retreating back outside.

There was not time enough to decide since the figure lifted its head and fixed its gaze on her.  She couldn’t see its face, of course, nor could she move.  Curiosity and fear interlaced, keeping her standing at the three-point line.  The figure stood up and stepped in her direction.

“Hey,” it called out in a low hum.  “Do you know where Neal went?”

Henrietta cleared her throat.  “Who?”

“Neal,” the figure answered as his features became clearer.

Henrietta sucked in a breath of disbelief.  The man who stood before her looked just like the basketball player who had been missing for two weeks.  His disappearance was among the top five news stories across newspapers, blogs, social media, and TV.  Henrietta blinked several times and shook her head.

“I don’t know any Neal; there’s nobody else here.  It’s been raining so hard out there — how did you get here?”

The man didn’t know.  All he could remember was going to a hockey game with his best friend Neal.

“It was his birthday, and I wanted to give him a special gift.”

Henrietta’s hair had dried mostly but the more this man spoke, the colder she felt.  She’d always believed in ghosts, but she didn’t think they were visible and as real as certain popular TV shows imagine.

Resting at the tip of her tongue were the words, “Where did you see this hockey game?”

Would she speak them or would she turn around, vacate the premises and pretend this day didn’t happen?

 

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ESPN on the Atlanta Hawks

It’s not about the players, not really.  It’s about suits-and-ties, the difficulty in relying on good intentions, and the greater difficulty in believing those who have collective best interests in mind and yet still give you an unpleasant after-taste.

We’ve all experienced this kind of environment.  We’ve met new trail-blazers, path-makers, foliage-hackers who are there to help us reach our destination, wherever that may be, if only they’d ask us politely if we minded terribly that we wear X boots instead of Y sneakers, replace A resources with B, and build our prosperity into the future because it is no longer tenable to continue feeding sentimentality that only we can appreciate truly.

  

Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst * at ESPN have written a very fascinating piece on the Atlanta Hawks and “the tangle of egos [that] threatened to engulf the front office“.

Do you remember in chemistry class learning about different substances combining that sometimes created something very “ooo and ahhh” without dangerous effects?  And other times, only the teacher could mix the contents of one flask with another because of known dangerous effects?  Running a sports franchise must be like chemistry class.  Everyone wants the “ooo and ahhh” and don’t always yield long enough to consider who should be doing the mixing and if there’s going to be any dangerous effects.

*Holy saddled up horses, John Wayne!  If Brian Windhort’s wiki page is correct, he and I have the same birthday (but on different years — I’m two days older than Justin Timberlake).  And, that means Brian also has the same birthday as Ed Burns but is ten years younger.  Woo-hoo!