Movie Thoughts: Glory Road / The problem with the NBA game

Went to see this movie last night. There were a couple of things that struck me about it. It was refreshing to hear a coach say, "you're here to play basketball my way, good, basic, fundamental skills basketball."

So much today, the coaches, administrators, schools, NBA teams and the league in general, simply allow a player to run roughshod over an entire program and make a mockery of the entire thing. Showboating selfish play is the accepted standard mode of play these days. There is so much money at stake for these teams and programs, either at the NCAA or NBA level, that teams and administrators are willing to allow the selfish play that is so typical today. It is not uncommon for a player to essentially say, "give me the ball, and you other four guys go over there by the side line, clear your man out, and let me go one-on-one with my man and score. And when I'm done with this dude, I won't be playing defence on the next few plays, because I will be busy "snapping" my jersey."

The little hippity-hop through the leg dribble, around the back, big fakeout moves are a total crock.

Interestingly, The Sporting News is reporting this morning that the Memphis Grizzlies are doing the best TEAM job in the league right now... with DEFENSE.

The Grizzlies are doing it the way Fratello's teams always have done it: with defense. Memphis entered the week holding opponents to a league-low average of 86.7 points and stood fourth in field-goal percentage defense. The Grizzlies' strength is their ability to keep opponents out of the lane, and that keeps Pau Gasol and Lorenzen Wright from being exposed inside.

OK so that's my rant for the day... The other thing I found astonishing in that movie was the fact that only about 40 years ago, black players, and black people in general, were enduring an amazing amount of persecution. The scene at the motel before going to Seattle should bring a twinge of shame to just about any self-aware "cracka". How truly sad.

Then the coach announced that he was electing to start all the black players in the final game, not because they were black, but because they were the best players on the team. The one white dude stood up and said he wanted to play, and was feeling like he was relegated to the background because of all the attention the black players were receiving. One of the black guys then looked at him and said, basically, that the white guys shouldn't feel bad about being in the background for a few months, black people live their lives in the shadows from day one. Then the other black guy turned to him and said, "welcome to the back of the bus, white man." Poignant indeed.

During the end credits of the movie, there were interview snippets from players in the championship game, most notably Pat Riley, the current coach of the Miami Heat. He made an interesting comment that struck me then, and has stuck with me since. He noted that the championship game was, in effect, the Emancipation Proclamation for that day, 40 years ago. Oddly, the original Emancipation Proclamation was signed almost exactly 100 years previously to that event. Do we need this every 100 years? I certainly hope not.

Those are my observations for today.

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