something in the book raise a question or provoke an opinion?
Every few weeks Ill post an assortment of reader responses
of general interest, along with my own commentary.
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with whatsbev.com, the British online basketball forum.
Q&A with ivyleaguesports.com.
the leading Web site for all hoops happenings in the U.K. and
(the International Basketball Federation).
Bigger Game, Smaller World, you have to make it to Taipei for
the High School Basketball League (HBL), where high school
players are among the biggest stars in the country. Maybe it
doesn’t seem so odd in the age of LeBron James and Amare Stoudamire,
but catching an HBL Finals game is fantastic.
There’s also the curious pop-star quality of the Korean Basketball League, where
fans cheer as much for a player’s Justin Timberlakeness as his Kobe-Bryantness.
—Terence Lau, Houston
who now works for the Rockets, put in time with the NBA’s Asian listening
post in Hong Kong. He knows well the basketball mania in mainland China and
the Philippines, so if he’s willing to lump South Korea and Taiwan in with
those two, I’ll take him at his word.
the 2003 NBA Draft: G.M.s gambled on Pietrus, Diaw and Barbosa
because the owners want to make the league . . . whiter? That
assertion is invidious to journalism and to the game, and I
yearn to see it
called out, instead of being dignified on Outside the Lines.
Let the word go forth! The universalizing power of a global game
is self-evident, but there’s
a special providence in the example of a global league, which
is a few years from being the most widely representative, completely
integrated and perfectly meritocratic body in the history of
our species. And by the end of Bush’s second term, it may be
the only functional international body left standing.
Weissman, Freedom Park, N.J.
When young Americans of any hue can pass and shoot and move with the skill
and smarts of their Serbian counterparts, they’ll be drafted in greater numbers.
NBA teams are desperate for well-rounded players, and if they have to go to
the ends of the earth to find them, through passport control they’ll go. For
a historical analogy, think of the Japanese automakers during the Seventies,
and how they spooked Detroit into getting its act together. In the long run
the international invasion will be good for U.S. hoops.
was interest in the Worlds in the States? Was anyone even paying
attention? I must say, with regards to international hoops, I
feel a bit like one of those cool kids in school who liked Nirvana
before they ever became popular and then got pissed off once everyone
started liking them. Ever since seeing Drazen Petrovic Ive
been a Euro hoops junkie . . . and now the best are all flocking
to the States for everyone to see! The nerve . . .
Carl Schreck, Moscow
Worlds registered as barely a blip stateside, although many stateside
fans, after I ripped the poor attendance on cnnsi.com,
couldnt quite settle on the reason they werent paying
attention. At first, some claimed that the competition wasnt
worth taking seriously because no foreign team could challenge
the U.S. Then, after the Americans lost once, then twice, then
three times, I heard from fans who were now suddenly
denigrating Team USA as an assemblage of self-centered vacationers
not worthy of support when a raft of other teams, from Argentina
and New Zealand to Yugoslavia and Spain, played a brand of ball
absolutely worth turning out for. Would have been nice if these
self-styled basketball connoisseursmany of them Hoosiers
could at least make up their minds as to why they were so indifferent.
By the way, Carl is the English-language p.a. announcer at CSKA
Moscows Euroleague games. Which makes him a sort of Jaime
Jarrin of the steppes.
August of 1985, not long after you left Lucerne, I arrived in
Switzerland to coach the Lucerne-Reussbuehl team that had found
itself relegated to the third division (strangely named the Premier
League). I inherited much of the team you played with and wrote
aboutPius Portmann, Bruno Duenner, et. al. I had a wonderful
year, pretty much watching them beat up on everyone and occasionally
calling a time out. We went undefeated, though we lost to the
hated Vacalloin Vacallo, naturallysome 20 minutes
after the game had ended with us winning by one. Something about
a players father who was the official timer not being able
to properly signal the end of the game with the cowbell that was
supposed to be right there at his feet, and a subsequent phantom
three-point shot that no one saw. I imagine that Pius hasnt
been so livid.
Jack Gaudreau, Atlanta
readers of Chapter Four know, Pius has
good reason when he gets righteously indignant. Cowbells at the
scorers table and a third division that goes by Premier
League are just two of the many oddities youll find
in Swiss basketball. And have to suffer through. Pleasantly, Id
really enjoyed your book, especially Chapter
Five on the Gus Macker. My team and I ended up returning to
Belding last July, and we were the featured Hall of Fame team. What
a great weekend. I even got to shoot the Do or Die.
As usual, I missed, but as Ernie (Chicken Wing) Cryer said, the
sun was in our eyes, so I got a second chance. Needless to say the
tournament went on as scheduled.
Jerry Fike, San Diego
as a member of the legendary Miss Elizabeths Fan Club team,
is a member of the Macker Hall of Fame and vows to head for Belding,
Mich., for the 30th anniversary tournament in 2003. I hope to join
all faithful Mackers in making that pilgrimage.
a Spaniard who has been following the NBA closely for almost 20
years now, and Ive perceived a clear decline in the quality
of U.S. players. I am in love with the NBA basketball of the Eighties,
the players who knew how to play the game, especially the large
number of very good centers. How many centers are in the league
today? If Shaq had had to play in the Eighties, it wouldnt
have been the same. He would still be great, but he would have to
work much harder, especially on defense, against Kareem, Moses,
a young Hakeem and a young Patrick, Robert Parish, Artis Gilmore,
Mark Eaton, Jack
Sikma, Darryl Dawkins, James Donaldson, Tree Rollins, Bill Cartwright,
even Sam Bowie when he was healthy or Bill Walton during the 1985-86
To me those were the best times. Players knew how to play team basketball.
They were fundamentally sound. They had passion for the game. Todays
players are much closer to the playground, where guys like to show
up opponents and impress girls watching from the bleachers. I feel
that todays NBA player isnt eager to learn and has no
respect for veterans.
I hope there is a positive consequence of what happened to the U.S.
team in Indianapolisthat Americans will finally respect foreign
players. I remember when Petrovic entered the league in 1989 and
got no respect from his coaches and teammates. He was much better
than most of them by the time he left. Nobody remembers Fernando
Martin, a Spanish player who was in Portlands roster for the
1986-87 season. He died in 1989 in a car accident, but he was a
very good power forward, very strong and passionate. He played in
just 24 games. I imagine that, if he entered the league today, it
would be different.
Rafael de Benito, Valencia, Spain
NBAs attitude toward European ballplayers has changed drastically,
and the fans and media will eventually follow. And the reason savvy
NBA front offices are all over the European market has much to do
with the quality of the top clubs, which have superb developmental
programs. As F.C. Barcelona general manager Antonio Maceiras recently
told me, Europe felt a certain pride in the Argentines silver-medal
performance in Indy. Their Latin flair gave them a feel for the
game, and the economic crisis gave them a hunger, but it was discipline,
imposed by top clubs in Italy and Spain, that turned the Argentines
into complete players, whom coach Ruben Magnano in turn molded into
a consummate team.
Incidentally, until Rafaels comment, it hadnt occurred
to me that car accidents took the lives of three of the best European
players ever: Petrovic, Martin, and Yugoslavias Radovij Korac.
been increasingly concerned over the past decade at the wall of
ignorance and isolationism in the U.S. as the quality of the game
there continues to deteriorate. Even the influx of foreigners hasnt
really changed the basic cockiness and lack of respect among the
public and the media. This Gasol had better be good,
a dejected Memphis Commercial-Appeal columnist grumbled after the
Grizzlies picked him. Of course hed never heard of Gasol,
much less seen him play.
Before the Worlds, some writers were applauding Mark Cubans
drive to keep his players off teams at the Worlds. To be specific:
off the non-U.S. teams,
for I didn't hear anyone whine about Michael Finley playing for
the Americans. Dirk Nowitzki resisted this effort, but Shawn Bradley
[who could have played for Germany, where he was born] and Steve
Nash were coerced into quitting, and Nashs absence killed
Canada. Will NBA owners favor the presence of the top American players
on the U.S. team, while forcing foreign NBA players off their national
teams? That would be a pretty sad and unsportsmanlike way to reassert
American dominance. And it would be an ostrich-like tactic.
Victor de la Serna, Madrid
on, Victor, who, by the way, writes on matters hoop for the Spanish
daily El Mundo under the pen name Vicente Salaner. To everyone
who gainsayed the rest of the worlds performance in Indy with
Yeah, butsyeah, but this American guy didnt
play, and that guy didnt eitherId remind them
that very few other countries fielded their strongest teams, either.
Both Nash and his Mavs teammate, Wang Zhi Zhi of China, were missing.
New Zealands fourth-place finish was all the more startling
as Sean Marks, the Tall Blacks lone NBA player, missed most
of the tournament with an eye injury. And Spain played without a
raft of national-team mainstays, yet still dumped the U.S.
Remember, in Sydney, the U.S. Olympians came within a missed three-pointer
of losing to a Lithuanian team stocked with no-namesand that
American team had Jason Kidd. I hope Im not made to look like
a fool, but I dont believe the NBA would dare pull a protectionist
ploy like the one Victor fears. For reasons ranging from stylistic
to global marketing, the foreign influx is a great thing for the
NBA. And David Stern knows it.
book was totally uplifting to me. The game weaves its way into the
heart and soul, and in some weird, esoteric way, you become one
with it. When I was younger, I used to visit Hong Kong to have suits
made. One of my joys was hooping with street kids on the Kowloon
side. Even amidst cultural and language differences, the commonspeak
of the jump shot connected us all.
Im 43 and love basketball as much now as I did at 13. Ive
had knee surgery, back injuries, dislocated fingers, bruised heels,
a torn Achilles, yet I look forward to Saturday mornings when I'm
still out there knocking down threes, trying to be the Paul Pierce
of the over-40 cadre. I cant quit and dont want to.
My friends say I should learn golf and I bristle at the idea.
The beauty of basketball is that it never leaves you. Women may
come and go, job opportunities and promotions may ebb and flow,
but basketball remains ever faithful, like the rock of Gibraltar
in headband and high tops. Thats why I love the game. Its
never let me down.
Lindell Singleton, Grand Prairie, Tex.
that homilythe right Reverend Singleton teaches at the Lone
Star Basketball Academy in ArlingtonI can only say, Amen.
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