"Basketball Beyond The Floor"

Hockey. A word which is like a dagger to some basketball fans but a way to make a point for others. I am comparing today's book for discussion to the Toronto Maple Leafs. You get really excited and hopeful at the beginning of the season as a fan of the team and of the game. However, as the season wears on, you are pushing against your sensibilities to find a way to make it to the end of the season, much less the first round of the playoffs. Rebound Rules: The Art of Success 2.0 by Rick Pitino with Pat Forde has its moments but was really a disappointment by the end. Rick Pitino describes what he went through professionally and personally to write this book and I appreciate how he told some very personal stories to illustrate how to move past the fear of failure. However, after getting about halfway through the book, it just seemed like the "you can do it" speech we've all heard before. He has already written four books along the lines of this topic which shows people are listening to what he has to say enough for he and the publisher to still make a living off his written word. I said last week I wanted to see if this book could hold a candle to The Gold Standard. Let's just say if this were an MMA match-up, The Gold Standard would be George St. Pierre and Rebound Rules would be Dion Phaneuf. Both very tough dudes, but George comes out on top by a long shot. Let's get into some key areas.

Giving Credit where Credit is Due

According to Rick Pitino, the purpose of Rebound Rules is to give the reader tools to mount a comeback when previous methods of overcoming mistakes or tragedy don't work. He says when we are afraid, fear takes over and we make bad decisions. Further, he says being "relentlessly positive" can be the only way to defeat the power of negativity. Blah. Blah. Blah. We have heard this story before. But to give him credit, he did what a lot of coaches today might never do: admit to his mistakes. As a coach, Rick Pitino says he made 3 key mistakes:

(1) He made too many spontaneous decisions about players.

(2) He took shortcuts. He said if he didn't have the talent he wanted on the team, he should have persevered with what he had.

(3) He beat himself up about mistakes.

These are three key points to remember this season when following the Toronto Raptors or any other team in the NBA for that matter. Some of the greatest NBA coaches of all time handle #3 very well and I think this is the key to their success. Look very carefully at the answers coaches and players give this season and how they evaluate their successes, failures and who gets the credit. One of the handful of things I liked about this book is Rick Pitino's take on honesty as a coach: "One thing you must do in the face of adversity is to be honest with yourself, and with the people you are trying to lead. Acknowledge the difficult spot you're in and commence digging out of it". Note to self: Buy Brian Colangelo a shovel for Christmas.

Going Beneath the Surface

This is the single most line in the book which stood out for me: "Don't work as if you are overqualified for your job". In other words, don't think certain tasks are beneath you like changing your role on the team to beat a certain opponent, even if it means less glory or less playing time. The perfect example of this is when we have agents advocating on behalf of their clients for more playing time. Instead of thinking of what it takes for the team to win, the individual player is looking out for number one. This is the point we were discussing last week with The Gold Standard. Players should fight for more playing time by their actions on the court, not by their words. In Rebound Rules, Rick Pitino describes a former college player of his, Edgar Sosa. Rick Pitino said Edgar had a few powerful nights in scoring, but then just rode the wave after that thinking scoring was the only means to success: "I told him that after being involved in eight NBA drafts, pro coaches, scouts, and general managers did not discuss scoring averages when evaluating players...(instead) Does this player make other people better, and would he make our team better?" This is true but I am sure the fact a player consistently puts points up on the board has some bargaining power.

Corruption is the Rotten Apple

"The steps toward improvement generally require seeking and accepting feedback from colleagues and superiors - that's why we watch film of every game and every practice, for feedback on our performance and how to better it" (Rick Pitino). Now, if everyone on the team buys into this practice, it works. However, there's always the chance of one rotten apple spoiling the whole bunch. This is wear Rick Pitino discussed team chemistry and what corrupts it: (1) Jealousy; (2) Cynicism; (3) Inflated Ego; (4) Inflexible Personality; (5) Discipline Deficiency; (6) Lack of Passion; (7) Excuse Making; (8) Front Running. These are all key points, again, to keep in the back of your mind this season - especially when evaluating the Miami Heat. This team is expected to win because of The Big Three and I would hazard to guess if any of these issues come up if they hit a bad patch and what excuses they will give if the NBA Championship eludes them. Just something to think about.

Flick Pick of the Week

I'm giving you a "good laugh" flick pick this week. If you haven't already, watch "Semi-Pro" starring Will Ferrel and Woody Harrelson. It's about the owner/coach/player of the ABA's Flint Michigan Tropics (played by Ferrel) and how they join the NBA. It might be a stretch for those who aren't huge fans of Will Ferrel but I think he's hilarious and enjoyed it.

Next week we will be discussing Condition the NBA Way written by 14 strength and conditioning coaches of the NBA. It was published in 1994, so it will be interesting to see how relevant it is for today's athletes.

Also, there are only a few weeks left for "Basketball Beyond the Floor" then it will hibernate until next summer. A new feature, "Behind Enemy Lines" will take its place here on the DNB. This new feature will take a look at the Toronto Raptors' opponents for the coming week. We'll discuss everything from strategy to news makers to things to watch for. So mark down Thursday, October 21 on your calendar since this is when the new feature will begin. Until then, we will continue our "Basketball Beyond the Floor" discussions. See you on Tuesday for another serving of "Jiggly Bits".

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