Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ball Hogs

I always find it odd that so many players, and the slightly retarded fans that worship them, confuse greed with leadership. It’s true that shooting guards are most likely to lead their team in scoring, and therefore are the most likely to become ball hogs, but it seems to be difficult to explain to them that just because they think they can score on anyone, that doesn’t make it a good game plan. MICHAEL JORDAN could score on anyone, but he still understood the value of his team controlling the time of possession, getting his teammates involved, and taking good shots. Jordan routinely led the NBA in scoring, and he could have scored much more, but the most amazing of any of his extraordinary accomplishments is that he never gave his personal statistics greater priority than victories.

There are only a few players in the NBA today that can routinely carry their team to victory through exceptional unselfishness. STEVE NASH and TIM DUNCAN are the two best examples, and DWYANE WADE has that ability, but he is at a crossroads in his career. Does he continue to be a fabulous jack-of-all-trades, or will he fall in love with himself and lose sight of the “big picture”, as KOBE BRYANT and VINCE CARTER have done? Only time will tell, but lets hope that Wade aspires to become more than just the leading scorer of a mediocre team. Here is a list of the most greedy ball hogs in the league:

KOBE BRYANT: You don’t score 81 points in a single game by passing. You do it by shooting every single time you touch the ball … and by playing against a team with no dignity. The Lakers won that game against the Raptors last year, but it ruined the rest of the season for them. Bryant’s teammates already knew he was selfish, but they had never seen him so blatantly selfish, refusing to pass to them for easy lay-ups so he could throw up double-teamed jumpers that miraculously fell into the basket. If the Lakers were playing a better team, they would have lost because of Bryant’s narcissism. The trust was gone and Bryant caused his young teammates to lose confidence. Jordan was like that early in his career, but as he aged he became acutely aware that basketball is a team sport and the Bulls rarely lost again. Bryant is the opposite. He was once a solid, well-rounded player that could score, defend, and (gulp) pass. Now he is mostly just a phenomenal scorer and a world class cry-baby.

ALLEN IVERSON: He blamed the 76ers franchise for all his failures, but the truth is that they gave him too many opportunities. They gave him a bunch of different coaches to work with, but he always refused any game plan that didn’t involve Iverson dribbling all the time off the shot clock before taking an off-balanced shot at the buzzer. They gave him a plethora of quality players to be the SCOTTIE PIPPEN to his Jordan, but he ignored them on the court until their value diminished and they were shipped out for another player that would suffer the same fate. It’s understandable why the fans in Philadelphia loved watching him play. His flashy style is fan-friendly, but it’s also detrimental to winning a title. This year the 76ers finally woke-up and realized that they just can’t win with Iverson and his massive ego. He’s the Nuggets problem now. When he arrived, Iverson claimed to understand that CARMELO ANTHONY (another ball hog) is the star in Denver and that he is just a supporting player, but don’t believe it. This pairing (like all in Iverson’s past) isn’t working and the Nuggets are seriously underachieving and soon Iverson will become Iverson again.

GILBERT ARENAS: His quirky personality may be charming to some, but Arenas is perhaps the most egotistical star in the NBA. Unfortunately for the Wizards, he hasn’t yet accomplished anything to merit his behavior. Arenas never refers to his team, he speaks of himself in the third person, and he is concerned only with his own scoring stats. It’s no coincidence that whenever Arenas threatens to have a personal grudge against an opponent, he struggles. Again, basketball is a team sport that requires everyone to contribute. Arenas too often approaches the game like a boxing match, but that never works. The idea that any single player will defeat the opposition is wrong and in direct conflict with his team’s chances of winning. The fact that Arenas is a point guard (sort of) makes his ball hog act even more intolerable. The point guard must dictate the pace of the game for his team. He must make quick and secure decisions, and he must see the whole floor, not just the basket. Arenas’ itchy trigger finger wears down his teammates throughout the season and when the play-offs roll around, they will have lost faith in the decision-making of their point guard, and that is a recipe for disaster.


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