The Bouncing Ball, Thoughts on Sports by Paul West, the Rivalry Week Edition

The Bouncing Ball, Thoughts on Sports by Paul West

Hi all, and welcome to the latest #thebouncingball sports blog entry! I hope you’re all enjoying the NCAAP Hoops rivalry week…off we go.



  • It always seems to take a catastrophic, sad or troubling event to bring an overdue topic to the foreground. It isn’t like nobody knew that a freshman COULD blow out his ACL like Nerlens Noel did the other night; of course, now that it’s happened, everybody wants to talk about the “one and done” rule, and ask if it’s problematic. Of COURSE it’s problematic.
  • Related to the above, per what a few have already said: Jadeveon Clowney playing this coming season would be a lousy business decision, and he really shouldn’t do it. Work out with scouts and teams, and maybe find a way to keep his game instincts fresh. But if he blows an ACL or something else, his career will be mortgaged and that will be sad.
  • Also related to the above: Steve Spurrier just said, related to the matter of Clowney risking his career by playing this year in his ‘wait year’: “Now if money was his only goal in life, then he couldn’t play.” Really, Mr. millionaire coach who’s only a millionaire because of the players, whose full-time college jobs make it difficult for them to pursue legitimate majors and do not pay them a cent while they make billions for countless other people? I say–and I will not bother to throw in a ‘with all due respect’ here–shut up, Steve Spurrier.
  • I’ll say it again: don’t sleep on the Mets this year.
  • Something occurred to me today, amid all the MJ/LJ talk. Remember how, when LeBron was being criticized for letting Dwayne Wade take the walkoff shot, some astute observers were comparing him to Magic Johnson, because of his basketball IQ and inclination to facilitate teammates? Well, given his recent record-breaking run of shooting efficiency, it occurs to me that he’s evolving into a Bird-Magic hybrid. Big, versatile, can play all five positions–like Magic. Threat to score, rebound and facilitate at a superior level, like both. And now he’s developing into a pure shooter, like Bird…wow. See, to me, the thing about Bird and Magic was that they were very similar. Very big, but unusually versatile for guys with power-forward size. Athletic, but not above-the-rim athletic; can beat you inside or outside, supernatural court vision. The difference? Aside from their temperaments, of course, I think it was in their shooting styles. Bird was more of a sharpshooter type, even though he could beat you inside; Magic was more of a crafty, elusive scorer, even though he could obviously shoot the ball, as well. So what we have, in LeBron, is a power-forward sized guy who can beat you inside and outside, has great court vision (maybe not as absurd as Magic or Bird, but then again, the game is so much faster now, it’s hard to really compare without grading for game-speed inflation). More Magic’s temperament, in terms of congeniality and easygoing persona, but his freight-train runs to the basket display a hint of Bird-like mean streak. And now he’s developed his shooting game, to where he’s a legitimate shooting threat from wherever he is. Not quite a three-point champ just yet, but at this rate and at his age…well, he does sometimes make threes look like free throws. So, yeah, that’s kinda scary. Oh yeah, and there’s no such thing as the “LeBron rules” like good ole MJ got. I think that, in some ways, LeBron is already a guy you’d rather build a team around than Mike. Blashpemous, I know.
  • I hope the Big East tournament this season is a real whopper, to send it off in style. It’s really a shame that such a consistently great marquis tournament will be spoiled by the counterintuitive (corporate) realignment of some of the conferences…
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