meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow” Meschery's Musings of Sports, Literature, and Life Meschery's Musings on Sports, Literature and Life: 2011-02-20

What my musings are all about...

Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.

The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.

The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

After Listening to Kenny "The Jet" Smith

     The demise of the National Basketball Association flashed before my eyes. Don't panic, it won't happen before we see another NBA championship series between the Lakers and Boston this season. And it may not happen next year or the year after, but it will happen, I promise, unless the league can figure out what to do to minimize the new trend, Kenny "The Jet" was talking about on TV recently. He said, "It's not about money so much as the desire of great players to play with other great players." (Witness the Amare, LaBron, Boozer, Melo moves.) So, I'm thinking where will Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Kevin Durant be a year or two or three from now? There are not that many lock-down super stars in the NBA, there never has been, but if they all decide to group together to create a few elite teams, what happens to the rest of the NBA teams particularly to the small market franchises? Naturally, the deeper the pockets of the owners the better those teams will fare. Finally, the marginal teams, those with shorter pockets and no supers (You decide which ones.) will become perennial bottom-feeders.
     Like the people who insist that there is no global warning, you may dismiss my dire predictions as alarmism. But if you agree, then something has to be done; otherwise, our wonderful professional sport will suffer, and we as fans will also suffer.
     Something must be done. Rumor has it that "franchise tags" like the NFL is being considered. A splendid idea. If there are financial ways to level the playing field, I'm sure David Stern and his associates are mulling those ideas over, as I write. I will leave them to it with the hope that they don't simply dismiss the problem as having only to do with player salaries. I want to talk about the game itself. I propose a rule change, a very simple little rule change, not a drastic rule change, not a rule change that will make the purist faint, such as the one I proposed to a soccer team owner that they should scrap the off-sides rule, but a rule change that if implemented might save the meag-stlar-less NBA teams from folding, a rule change that will provide them with a weapon to defeat the elite teams. The simple rule change is this: Raise the 24 second clock limit to 34 seconds.
     Such a rule change will provide coaches of teams without super-mega-Melo-Bron-type-mega-stars time to be creative. The 24 second clock gives the team with overpowering players an advantage. The 34 second clock will allow smart coaches to create patterns to free their players for open looks. (Taking into account that the coaches are smart and creative.) Remember, that the NBA is full of excellent players, most of whom can defend (if their coaches demand it) and effectively shoot, board, and pass. By allowing them a chance to break down the overpowering physicality of the mega-stars, perhaps to outwit them, a team with good players might defeat a team with great players. A 34 second clock puts intelligence back in the game. And only intelligence will save the NBA.

The Jump Shooter    by Dennis Trudell

The way the ball
hung there
against the blue or purple
one night last week
across town
at the playground where
I had gone to spare
my wife
from the mood I'd swallowed
and saw in the dusk
a stranger
shooting baskets a few
years older maybe thirty-five
and overweight a little
beer belly saw him
shooting there
and joined him didn't
ask or anything simply
went over
picked off a rebound
and hooked it back up
while he
smiled I nodded and for
ten minutes or so we
took turns
taking shots and the thing
is neither or us said
a word
too heavy now and slow
to play
for any team still had
the old touch seldom
ever missed
kept moving further out
and finally his t-shirt
a gray
and fuzzy blur I stood
under the rim could
almost hear
a high school cheer
begin and fill a gym
while wooden
bleachers rocked he made

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Why My Wife Was Not Interested in the All-Star Game.

   And she was right, of course. The strobe lights, rock band, glitz was too much for someone raised in less cacophonous times. However, as an ex-NBA player I remained glued to the cheap arcade longer than I should because I expected to see great pure shooters shoot, and men who can leap tall buildings leap. But in the end, when the gospel choir walked on and a car was rolled out, and Kenny Smith started his Barnum and Baily interpretation, Griffin's skyrocketing dunk became anticlimactic.
   The fact is, there was anti-climax from start to finish: from three cheerleaders bumping and grinding behind Stephan Curry and his teenage sponsor - a sweet girl, whose sweetness was diminished by the tawdry display behind her - to "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkin's leopard-skin suit and bumbling voice, to Cheryl Miller pretending that this was sport and not circus, to Hollywood actors and Heisman Trophy winners primping for the cameras, to the hip-hop band's less than successful performance, to the frenzy of commercials, to the pointless dunk contest judges whose decisions meant nothing more than a TV audience's chance to see how white The Doctor's hair had become.
   Even so, oh, yes, dear reader, even so, I remained in front of the TV watching through three mediocre skills events (did you ever see such lousy 3-point shooting?) until finally the dunking contest began and I, like most NBA fans looking forward to Blake Griffin, felt slightly vindicated because there were some super aerials, the best being Serge Ibaka's behind the freethrow line take-off slam, farther out than Jordan's and Erving's. Until, you guessed it, the gospel choir strutted onto the court singing about high flying and Kenny Smith began his ... and I realised my wife was absolutely right to insert her earplugs and go back to her novel. But it was too late; I had watched the whole damn thing. Afterwards, I felt like a starving person who had eaten a dozen Big Macks with greasy fries because he was too hungry and too stupid to turn them down.

As an retired English teacher I love this poem by Michael McFee

Shooting Baskets at Dusk

He will never be happier than this
lost in the perfectly thoughtless motion
of shot, rebound, dribble, shot-----------How does punctuation
                                                              affect sound?

This mind removed as the gossipy swallows
that pick and roll, that give and go----------Parallelism:
down the school chimney like smoke in reverse-------Figurative

as he shoots, rebounds, dribbles, shoots,-----------Parallelism:
the brick wall giving the dribble back---------------Sound devices:
to his body beginning another run

from foul line, corner, left of the key
the jealous rim guarding its fickle net--------------Personification:
as he shoots, rebounds, dribbles, shoots,       

absorbed in the rhythm that seems to flow-----Sound devices:
from his fingertips to the winded sky                                    
and back again to this lonely orbit                                 
of shot, rebound, dribble, shot,                        
until he is just a shadow and a sound----Implied metaphor:              
though the ball still burns in his vanished hands.