I admire Jerry Sloan for leaving the Utah Jazz. I have always admired Jerry ever since he played for the Chicago Bulls and tried to knock the hell out of me as I set a screen on him. Oh, to be sure I was trying to knock hell out of him too. He was a tough hombre, and you set screens on him at your peril. He and Norm Van Lear were a feared defensive back-court duo for the Bulls. Jerry brought that same competitive fierceness to coaching, and he was Hall of Fame successful. But Jerry probably decided that the game was not evolving the way he wanted it too, so rather than adjust his principals, he returned to his beloved farm in Indiana.
What was Jerry Sloan leaving behind? His determined belief that there was still a place for pattern offense in the NBA. Not in today's game Jerry. Players want to run, and perhaps need to. It's becoming ice hockey without the ice. It's a roadrunner's beep, beep, and they're gone game. It's blink and you'll miss a key play game. It's a game played at warp-speed and air-speed. It's a beautiful game, but it's not the game you and I played, Jerry.
Jerry Sloan is one tough guy. He held out to the very end, sticking to a strategy that had worked, (Wasn't it fun to watch Stockton to Malone?) until his point guard decided his team should speed up its game. Jerry was unwilling to adjust the way Coach Popovich has with San Antonio. That's not a criticism. There is something noble about simply fading away the way General MacArthur did, having fought the good fight and knowing when it's the end. Good plowing, Jerry. I can still feel your elbows, and I'll miss watching your brand of basketball.
Losing Steps by Stephen Dunn
It's probably a Sunday morning
in a pickup game, and it's clear
you've begun to leave
fewer people behind. Your fakes are a good as ever,
but when you move
you're like the Southern Pacific
the first time a car kept up with it,
your opponent at your hip,
with you all the way
to the rim. Five years earlier
he'd have been part of the air
that stayed behind you
in your ascendance,
on the sidelines they're saying,
He's lost a step
In a few more years
it's adult night in a gymnasium
streaked with the abrupt scruff marks
of high schoolers, and another step
leaves you alike a wire
burned out in a radio
You're playing defense,
someone jukes right, goes left
and you're not fooled
but he's past you anyway,
dust in your eyes,
a few more points against you.
Suddenly you're fifty,
if you know anything about steps
you're playing chess
with an old, complicated friend.
But you're walking to a schoolyard
where kids are playing full-court,
the value of the experience, a worn down
basketball under your arm,
your legs hanging from your waist
like misplaced sloths in a country
known for its cheetahs and its sunsets.
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.