Parker, France and the 2010 FIBA Worlds

13 01 2010

The FIBA World Championships is an international basketball tournament held every four years by the International Basketball Federation. For most people outside of the United States, its importance eclipses that of the Olympic Games’ basketball tournament.

Today, Tony Parker told reporters that he may forgo playing in the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey. Here are a few quotes from Parker…

“I just think I’ve played too much basketball,” Parker said to

“I’ve played five summers in a row, and I think it’s about time I need a rest.

“It’s going to be tough. The contract’s coming up, and Pop wants me to play well every night.

“Sometimes it’s tough because you know you play all these championship runs and every year I play for the national team. Every year.

“This year is the first year I’ve found my body is a little bit tired, you know?

“So I’ll have to make some decisions, because I’m not Superman.

“I can’t do 82 games at the level Pop wants, and then play on the national team.”

Whenever a professional basketball player abstains from ancillary play, the critics come out in droves. Here’s a quote from a fan of USA Basketball’s Facebook page:

“Need to rest”…these players get spoiled.What more could a player want than to represent his Country? I haven’t had a vacation in 5 years,yet I still work hard at my job and my business.I believe that all of us would love to play all year whatever sport we love and get paid so well we can be financially independent at 30.Please professional players,save your excuses and go play.

This fan first asks, “what more could a player want than to represent his country?” Tony Parker has been representing France on the basketball court since 1997, when he was 15 years old. Parker played on the Under-16, Under-18 and Under-20 before moving onto his country’s senior national team. He has been the captain of the French senior national team since 2003. By all accounts, he has been very  much involved in France’s official basketball program for all of his adolescent and adult life. (Parker was even involved in Paris’ bid for the 2012 Olympic Games and was the first ambassador for Make-A-Wish France.)

A more appropriate question is “what more could a player do to represent his country?”

The Facebook fan then seems to trivialize Parker’s work ethic by saying “I haven’t had a vacation in 5 years, yet I still work hard at my job and my business.” This comment betrays a lack of understanding for how much dedication it takes to achieve success at the highest level of a commercially-viable sport. They seem to believe that the physical and mental demands on a high-profile athlete is comparable to their work struggles, since they work 10 hours a day.

Lots of casual fans seem to believe that the NBA (and other professional sports leagues) is filled with spoiled, lackadaisical athletic freaks who have all happened onto a high-paying job. A player of Parker’s stature has put a considerable amount of work into his trade and any fan would be misguided if they dismissed this fact.

The Facebook fan then seems to be making a connection between Parker’s financial position and his duty in representing his country. This particular fan is lucky enough to presumably own a computer and purchase access to the internet. Since these are luxurious afforded to him, should this fan have considered donating his internet budget to a trivial, sports-related, nationalistic cause?

The accompanying argument I hear a lot is “Athlete X is a great basketball player. He should be playing every year for the national team.” The rationale is that if a person has the capability to do a physical act, they should do that act since others cannot.

Here is an analogy: since some people do not have the use of their legs, a physically capable person should be obliged to run a marathon every year for their country. Granted, this is somewhat brash and hyperbolic but the spirit of the argument is the same. Since others cannot, capable people should do it whenever possible.

It can be argued that Tony Parker has contributed more to French basketball than any person in the last 10 years. Even if you take his visibility into account, I think he’s done his fair share. Why are clearly-dedicated players lambasted  when they take a year off from international play?


Conflict Resolution

5 01 2010

I’ve recently finished watching the DVD set of The Office: Season Two.  Like most sophomore TV efforts, The Office found its niche as a show and hit its stride at various points along the way.

The problem is that the absurdity of this show — a trait that has turned me off — starts to creep into the writers’ pens as a fail-safe trick. 

It was really difficult for me to come away with a clear opinion of this season.  When these episodes were on TV, I remember being extremely happy that they had signed on for a second season — as opposed to going one-and-done.  But some of these episodes are just dead weight. 

Some of the situations are just absurd. My problem with that is what it eventually leads to in the later seasons: when they don’t quite know how to start or end a scene, Michael Scott does something completely sophomoric.

The brilliance behind the original British version of The Office was that it was a witty satire. The interactions and situations portrayed in the British version were odd, and most often very awkward, but not altogether impossible to picture happening in a true workplace. That’s what made it funny: the “Stanley” in your office really would say that to the “Phyllis” of your office. What happened to Angela in that episode could have happened to your wife.

The actions during the current episodes with Steve Carrell and his gang are outright absurd. Willingly driving into a pond because your Garmin said so? A coworker dropping a deuce in a manager’s private office?

The American Office has become ever-so-popular because it’s become stupid funny, hold the wit and creativity. It’s now lowest common denominator humor, with its fans ironically resurrecting the middle school calling card “that’s what she said!”

A New and Different Sun

2 12 2009

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly-changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
— Chris McCandless (or Alexander Supertramp)

The Art of a Beautiful Game

1 12 2009

Chris Ballard delves into the depths of the NBA game with “The Art of a Beautiful Game.” I truly enjoyed this book; I couldn’t put it down until I finished it.

Although the subtitle is The Thinking Fan’s Tour of the NBA, it’s really more for observant NBA fans and true fans of basketball in general. It doesn’t necessarily challenge you to think about the impact of basketball or how it ties into society.

Ballard focuses on different aspects of the sport, tying anecdotes around an NBA star who most exemplifies this characteristic. For example, the chapter on defensive prowess focuses on Shane Battier or the chapter on shooting focuses on a 3-point contest the author had with Steve Kerr.

Even if you’re just a casual fan, the small tidbits of information Ballard drops will keep you coming back for more. Want to know how Pittsburgh’s Sam Young prepared for the NBA Draft? Who is Idan Ravin and why does Carmelo Anthony respect him so much?

Ballard even drag-races Shaquille O’Neal after leaving the Suns locker room. After reading “The Art of a Beautiful Game,” you’re challenged to watch an NBA play closely and this book will definitely equip and reward you.

Pursuit of Happiness

31 10 2009

Finally got to listen to Cudi’s album all the way through. You’ve gotta listen to it and especially this song…

The Shootout: Opening Week Power Rankings

27 10 2009
Ron Artest’s hair is ready. Is yours? Season starts tonight!
  1. Dunkin’ Dan Returns: Last year’s runner-up wants his panties back.
  2. HEADS UP 7UP: Third place last year makes Christopher Walken horny.
  3. beans&rice: I would hype this team but do I really need to?
  4. Super Ballers: The three-time champ wants to prove that he’s still relevant.
  5. AIR FACE 2.0: If he doesn’t win the 3PT category, I will make him sign Novak.
  6. sandbox: Matt Barnes=Gerald Wallace 2.0
  7. K Street Baller: CP3 has carried teams before but he can’t log into Yahoo for you.
  8. TheBigFish: Amare leads a cast of versatile dudes over 6’6″.
  9. TeamLouie: This team looks really versatile but do they have a strong point?
  10. The Innovator: Lots of glasseaters but can they do anything else?
  11. The Hop-Ons: D-Will leads a solid cast.
  12. Balding Is Beautiful: Blake Griffin is a piece of shit. So much for threepeat.
  13. The Avengers: Can Agent Zero stage a comeback?
  14. 8===D~~~Bebe juice: OH BABY!
  15. Frankenstein McHale: It’s going to be a season for the ages.
  16. Jcons: D-Wade and a lot of youth.
  17. Luolapalooza: Iggy and Joe Johnson lead the way but not much depth in the frontcourt.
  18. Toni KukocWhy didn’t he pick up Aaron Gray?
  19. Posers ’10: What a fitting name.
  20. Team Name: Description line.

When You Draft Like The Pros

27 10 2009

… You’ll most likely get burned.

I’ve been a part of this fantasy basketball league since 2003. It’s a good, competitive league.

I had been looking forward to the fantasy draft like a young, wide-eyed, obese boy sitting in his kitchen on the eve of Thanksgiving.

I had been crowned the champion for the last two years and am eager to threepeat, complete with a postseason parade down Michigan Avenue here in Chicago.

The parade would be met by warm Chicago weather and a crisp acknowledgement that dreams are possible: fantasy champions can threepeat.

But today, with Blake Griffin’s fractured left patella, it all came crumbling down.

For whatever reason — because I’m a dumbass — I strayed from my usual, objective strategy of drafting boring players with great statlines and sprinkling the team with young role players on the cusp of increased rotation minutes.

Here’s a breakdown of my fantasy team…

Reliable Major Players: Carmelo Anthony, Tony Parker
These are guys that I can hang my hat on. I know both will score but not much else.

Oft-Injured Almost All-Stars: TJ Ford, Al Jefferson
These guys may make me look like a genius or a complete idiot. They’re both up for big years — if they can stay healthy.

Productive Role Players: Rodney Stuckey, Jeff Foster
If Foster gets 20 minutes, he’ll get you 10 boards. If Stuckey gets minutes, he’ll get you some scoring and a handful of assists and steals. If Stuckey starts, he could be up for a breakthrough season. Those are all big “ifs.”

Young Guys On The Verge: Marreese Speights, Brandon Rush, Amir Johnson
These guys have impressed when they’ve played, especially Speights.  But can they edge out teammates to win jobs on the rotation?

Rookie Phenoms or Bust? Griffin, Terrence Williams
There’s been a lot of preseason hype on both players. Can they produce?

Why Did I Pick You, Again? Kwame Brown
Oh yeah, because you’ll start and get me 2 points and 7 boards a game.

All this to say, when you draft on potential, you’re going to get burned one way or another.