It's a shame. It's a real shame there is even debate surrounding the vuvuzela and the World Cup. Who new knew a long, plastic instrument rich in tradition and culture could stir up so much controversy? Think of our traditional celebrations in the NBA Finals and what would happen if they were banned. How about those little squiggle things handed out to fans who sit behind the net? They are meant to be waved vigorously in an attempt to distract the opposition and cause them to miss a free throw. I don't think the NBA players really take this as a serious threat because really, is a little squiggle (for lack of a better word for it) going to throw off a professional basketball player who is being paid millions to make that free throw? I know this is not the same as the vuvuzela but the same arguments are being made by players and broadcasters about its buzzing sound being distracting. In the world of broadcasting and professional sports, what do you do when you are faced with a challenge? Complain about it, or accept it and find a way to work around it? I would take the latter. I bet you Phil Jackson is telling the same thing to his Lakers tonight as they take on the Boston Celtics - a team that seems to have a working bag of tricks that will explode at any minute. Let's look ahead to tonight's game, talk about Tom Izzo's decision and possible steroid use in the NBA.
Shrek and Donkey should stay in the movies
Man oh man. The Boston Celtics are putting on quite a show. They are posting wins by rebounding and playing strong defensively. The Lakers need to win these battles or the NBA Finals will slip away from them. Notice how I didn't mention scoring? I still believe it will go to game seven. The Lakers have the talent and depth. But let's go with the trend of comparing NBA players to movie characters and talk about Alvin and the Chipminks: Lamar Odum, Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum. If there are any X factors in tonight's game it will be these three. Odum and Artest have not been consistent and if the Lakers are going to win rebounds and the little battles, these two need to step it up a notch. Andrew Bynum is really favouring that knee of his and there is this constant talk about draining it or how it will perform under pressure. He is becoming a growing concern. The Lakers need to come out with guns blazing like game one of this series or tonight will be their last game of the 2010 NBA season.
It's hard sometimes to think of these NBA superstars as regular people with everyday challenges like the rest of us. Part of it is trying to relate to making millions of dollars to play basketball. With this this lack of connection, these players are put on another level as if they are not human. But I think if you look at other professional sports, the NBA is possibly the most accessible and it's players seem the most human. I am sure there are athletes in other sports that are tweeting things something like Chris Bosh did the other day, "At my Aunts for a barbeque". I like that part about him. In the NBA, you can sit court side, up close and personal to the players and actually see their athleticism. This is not to say that football and hockey players are not showing their athleticism by nature of the equipment they need to wear for their chosen sport. I play hockey and will tackle football in the coming year (NWFL here I come), so I realize the rigors one has to go through as an athlete in these sports. But there is just something so beautiful about a game that is just you, a basketball and the uniform of the club you play for. I think about that when I hear stories about Ray Allen missing Saturday's media session for a "family matter". It could be related to his son. His son was diagnosed with diabetes during the 2008 Finals and nearly missed game 6 to go be with him. Or how Derek Fisher was seen wearing a pink bracelet during game 5 of this series to pay tribute to his daughter Tatum who developed eye cancer at a very young age. She's doing great now apparently. It makes them seem like real people and not just millionaires playing a beautiful game.
"Should I stay or should I go now?" A not-so familiar Izzo tune
Tom Izzo is one of those guys who truly loves his job and is genuine in his comments. He has been very appologetic to the media about not commenting on the possibility of coaching the Cavs. He really cares about the "kids" (as he puts it) at Michigan State University and he seems truly torn about the decision he has to make. Rightfully so. He's Michigan State University's all-time winningest coach and has a 364-146 record in 15 seasons with this team. But think about it. Why would he leave all this, all the accolades and love for the Cleveland Caveliers if Lebron James will not be in his line-up? This is what I'm thinking the hold-up is. There are also reports of Byron Scott, a former Laker, being a back-up plan in the event Tom Izzo declines the Cavs' offer. Byron Scott is also rumoured to be waiting to see what Phil Jackson will do at the end of the season. Everyone seems to be in wait and see mode. It is going to be an interesting summer, that's for sure.
DOPING IS NO SCANDAL
Let's be honest. Somewhere in the NBA someone is taking or at least dabbled in performance enhancing drugs. Players in just about every other sport have been known to test positive at least once in a while, so let's not pretend it doesn't happen in professional basketball. With all the controversy surrounding the suspension University of Waterloo Football program and nine of its players deemed guilty of using performance enhancing drugs, made me think what is being done in the NBA for those young players looking to sustain a career in this league. I found my answer linked to Derek Fisher - his mother, Annette. When she's not cheering for the Los Angeles Lakers and obviously rooting for her son Derek, she dedicates some her time to an organization called "Mothers of Professional Basketball Players". This is a group that hosts discussions around the time of the NBA draft in an effort to help incoming players and their families adjust to life in the NBA. They set up a panel to talk about real-life situations and try to share some of the good and not-so good elements of playing professional basketball. With all the media attention and contracts aside, for a young kid possibly as young as 19 years old (and sometimes younger), moving away from home and having to deal with the everyday pressures their parents usually took care of, can be disheartening. The temptation to take performance enhancing drugs to advance their careers and sustain a lifestyle may be great since family involvement in their career up until this point may have been that voice of reason. I wonder if a "Mothers of Canadian University Football Players" group would have adverted a potential nightmare at Waterloo University. It is scary to think the pressure to perform on a professional level exists at the amateur level.
Books, Movies and Basketball
Don't forget to check in with the DNB on Thursday when our new feature "Books, Movies and Basketball" will be starting and lead by yours truly. Our first discussion will be about "Hoop Dreams" by Ben Joravsky. If you haven't read it yet, you still have time. It took me a day and a half to complete since I couldn't put it down. It is still my favourite book of all time. I will also suggest a movie for your weekend viewing pleasure with a basketball theme, of course. This week's choice comes from a long list of favourites. You'll have to tune in Thursday to find out.