Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bill Russell's Blog

My favorite sports man, Bill Russell (if you want to know why, here is a short presentation of mine about him), did blog on the 2007 NBA season.

It is great to have a recent look at his mind (BTW, I don't think what he is saying is very specific to Basketball). I am sure he could have been a great coach too (well, maybe he was: 1 championship as player coach, once to the final, his team won the championship the following year after he left to raise his daughter). Blog: Bill Russell
I also want to throw one of my games in there from the '62 NBA Finals. We went to overtime and won by three points, defeating the Lakers 110-107. I had 30 points, 40 rebounds and seven assists, which I don't think is that bad. You know what reminded me of that? When LeBron had that great, great game in Game 5 and he said how tired he was. After that game that I had, it was a month before I could walk straight. I was so tired. I don't know if you've ever been that tired where you feel like your bones are aching, but when he said he was really tired, I knew exactly what he was talking about.

I'll Say It Again, It's All About Passing

What the Spurs demonstrated during the first half versus Utah in Game 1 was something I have been saying for a long time: The key skill in today's basketball is passing the ball. That is even more important than being a good shooter offensively because it gets better shots for your teammates. The first half, the Spurs shot close to 65 percent and a lot of that was because of the excellent passes they made throughout the lineup as a team. Steve Nash is a great passer, probably the best passer of the last decade since Magic, but the Suns don't have a whole team of good passers like the Spurs do.

During a game, if you play good, hard defense, it makes you tired. Defense is hard work. So if you go down the other end and have to work just as hard offensively, you're not as good. But if you're a good passing team, you don't have to work as hard to get shots. You don't have to break somebody down every time. It doesn't take any energy. What you have to understand is that energy and energy flows are an extraordinary part of the game. A good passing team doesn't use a lot of energy. You can turn around and use that same energy on the defensive end. That's not saying that Utah wasn't a good defensive team, because they are, but just as in baseball where good pitching will nullify good hitting, good passing will circumvent good defense.

Rebounding: It's Not All About Height

By averaging 25 points and 14 rebounds against the Warriors thus far, Carlos Boozer, who is 6-9, has been receiving a lot of national attention for his play, particularly for doing what he's done as a perceived "undersized" frontcourt player. In my opinion, though, once you get past 6-9, it doesn't make any difference what size you are, you can play with anybody. Like I was telling some people last week, when I was in college, with a running jump I could touch the top of the backboard because I was one of the world's best high jumpers. But most rebounds are taken below the height of the rim. So if I jump up and touch the top of the backboard, there are no rebounds up there. In fact, when I was at my best, if I had to outjump somebody to get a rebound, that was the last line of defense. In other words, I was under duress. I hoped to never let it get to that where I had to outjump a guy. Rebounding is positioning and timing. That is why Bill Laimbeer and Paul Silas were both quite good at rebounding even though neither one could jump very high.

The Importance Of Passing

Dallas has to do a better job of getting its big shooter, Dirk Nowitzki, isolated. When the Warriors double and triple team him, guys have to go to specific spots so he doesn't have to worry about where he is going to pass after he gets the ball. He should know that if they double team, this spot is open. A good pass is just as difficult as a good shot. There are two kinds of passes, one pass to get rid of the ball and one pass to make a play. The attitude of passing is to make good passes because if you make good passes, then shots become easier. If you make good passes you distract the defense. The coach should theoretically know his team and know how to help it accomplish what it wants to. In practice, the coach should watch the players passing the ball to certain spots and if they can't do that, then figure out why they can't. Likewise, if the target that they are passing to is not in the proper place, then why isn't he?

A Similar Situation – My Own Playoff Experience

In 1968 we were down 3-1 to Philadelphia and had to play them the next three games, with two of them in Philadelphia. We had a rookie named Mal Graham on the team. So we get ready for the next game, and I told him, "Well, we're going to beat these guys and this is how we're going to do it." And I broke it down. My theory was always never to concentrate on what you did wrong, concentrate on what you do right. That is how you want to play, but teams have ebbs and flows. When things weren't going right, we'd always call time out and figure out that we weren't playing the way we wanted to play, but the way they wanted to play. Well, that's when you have to decide, when you're playing good, what do you usually do? You emphasize going out there and doing what you do when you're playing your best. What I did was I individually went over what plays to use to our advantage. Sometimes we would play a whole quarter running the same play. What made me do that? Well if they can't stop it, why would we do the other guys job and stop doing it? Basically I never talked about winning three straight, but I talked about winning the next game. That is the one thing. All we wanted to do was win the next game, which is what I told the guys. You don't lose until you lose. We ended up winning the series in seven games.

Spreading Some Knowledge

I said, "During the playoffs, there are certain things that determine the winner. One of the things is matchups. If you take Norm Nixon and Michael Cooper against Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney, that's a wash. The way Jamaal Wilkes has been playing, he and the Doc (Dr. J) will offset each other. That's a wash. Jim Chones is a weak link, but he won't be overshadowed too much by the guy who is guarding him, either Darryl Dawkins or Caldwell Jones. The next guy is totally screwed. He has to try to guard Magic. Magic is big and strong and can guard him, but he is nowhere near the athlete to guard Magic.
Indeed, you can be the weakest player in your team, if you play better then the weakest player in the other team, that will likely tip the outcome in your team's favor!
One thing I have to emphasize, it is a complete team game. Magic had 42 points – I don't know who was trying to guard him that game because you never saw them together – and everyone talks about that, but Jamaal Wilkes got 37 and a guy named Brad Holland came off the bench and scored 10 points. Ninety percent of the people that know anything about that game don't even know that he played. So I never engage in picking favorites.

No comments: