Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Three-point play...

The three-point play is one of my favorites in basketball. No, I'm not talking about a long-distance bomb from a dude who usually has no business jacking up that shot and is then emboldened to take more after the rare make. I'm talking about the guy who crashes through the lane, makes the effort to finish his shot and gets fouled for his trouble. He then goes to the line and makes the free throw. To me, it's a beautiful thing.

My other favorite play in basketball is the extra pass - which is why I generally don't like the NBA. I have had protracted arguments with my friend Joel about my views on the National Basketball Association, which are generally stymied by the fact I refuse to watch NBA games to bear out Joel's theories that it's gotten better.

However, today's blog features two news articles that look on professional basketball with a positive or, at the least, neutral eye. And from reputable news sources, no less!

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at what it terms the "locker room nerds" - international players who are bringing reading back to the locker room. The article calls out many international (and some US) players by name for their reading habits, some of which are far more advanced than mine. While some may argue the Bucks players have more pressing matters to attend to on the court, the organization gave them Kindles for Christmas last year, and the player's association publishes a quarterly reading list. I do have to give Dwayne Wade props for admitting one of his favorite books is Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." Especially since the "handful" of Trail Blazers who read aren't comfortable acknowledging they do so.

The New York Times published a story in the Health section that examines the findings of researchers who have been focusing on non-verbal cues like touches. The scientists have found that a touch to the arm, a grab of the shoulder or a pat on the back not only emphasizes the feeling being conveyed in words but is also capable of conveying the same feeling without verbal communication. In an experiment a blind-folded participant was able to identify eight different emotions with 70 percent accuracy. Later in the article, the Times references work by Berkeley scientists who studied non-verbal communication in NBA games last year. They report, with a few exceptions, good teams tend to be touchier than bad ones (hello, Celtics and Lakers) and good players are also more likely to touch teammates during a game - fist bumps, chest bumps, high fives, etc.


Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few days, you know that the USA men's ice hockey team defeated Canada by two goals on Sunday. While clearly not of the magnitude of the 1980 US men versus Russia, this was definitely an upset. The Boston Globe mentioned in a blog that five year-old YouTube star Josh Sacco attended a team dinner before the match up. Sacco is known for his oddly affecting and remarkably accurate impression of Herb Brooks giving his famous locker room speech during the "Miracle on Ice." I enjoyed watching Sacco the first time I saw this video. Here it is if you would like to see it too.

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