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View Full Version : In the NBA, and life, it's all about getting your reps



jackson1
11-27-2008, 05:52 AM
Just four weeks into the season, we're down to six contenders for the 2009 NBA title: Cleveland, Boston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Utah and San Antonio. The first three are the favorites; the second three are the long shots. And they have one thing common. Reps.

Reps are easy to understand: The more you do something, the better you will be. LeBron James (and the Cavaliers, by proxy) jumped a level this season because he banked those Superstar Reps. The Celtics survived a grueling championship campaign, gained a noticeable swagger, embraced the Lloyd Neal Memorial "That's right, we're the f------ champs" mentality and aced their three biggest tests in November (two against Detroit, one in Houston). They're getting those Defending Champ reps. The Lakers were toughened by last year's Finals collapse, brought back Andrew Bynum and evolved into a 10-man juggernaut that wears down weaker foes. They're putting away those Super Team Reps, learning how to flick that on-off switch, blow games open and conserve Kobe's legs for the postseason.

All three teams could win 65-plus games, which, by the way, has never happened before. As for the long shots, the Jazz have proven to be deeper than anyone thought when they survived a solid month without Deron Williams. Come playoff time, they will be better off because their supporting guys stored those Crunch Time Reps. The Spurs are the wily veterans, the ones who know by experience that you only need to hang around for four months, then turn it on in the spring. They're running on the fumes of a decade of reps. Only the Hornets seem to be going the wrong way. A popular preseason pick that struggled early because, as the theory goes, it's easy to jump Point A to Point B and harder to go from Point B to Point C, everyone keeps waiting for the Hornets to turn things around. Including me.

After sitting a few rows behind their bench for Monday's game against the Clippers, I realized the Hornets' problems went deeper. You can tell from the stands when teams are happy and everyone is on the same page. For instance, I watched the Spurs beat the Clippers without Manu and Parker-Longoria; as long as Duncan and Popovich are around, and as long as they keep building around character guys, things can't splinter for them. That Pop-Duncan foundation is just too strong. You could see it during every timeout huddle, you could see it with how they interacted and supported each other, and you could see it with the way they carried themselves. When Roger Mason drained the game-winning 3-pointer, there was no chest-pounding or pointing to God, just a quiet fist pump and a leisurely walk back to the huddle. It's a professional team in every sense.

The Hornets gave me a different vibe. They seemed a little detached, surprising since they have so many character guys on the team: Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler, David West, James Posey. Really, their only chemistry wild card is Mike James and he barely plays. I mistakenly believed it would be one of those lovefest teams that players josh around during the shootarounds before each half and hug each other too much. Nope. Midway through the second quarter, I asked my friend Tollin, "Are we sure the Hornets like their coach?" After all, the Nets practically revolted against Byron Scott four years ago. So there is a precedent.

We studied the Hornets for the next hour like marriage counselors. The good news is that, when you attend NBA (http://www.thenbafan.com) Clippers games, you inadvertently earn a Ph.D. in "How To Tell When a Team Despises Their Coach." Even the football team in "Varsity Blues" liked Bud Kilmer more than the Clippers like Mike Dunleavy. If he doesn't get fired soon, I would put 10-to-1 odds on a timeout huddle this year when everyone slowly closes in around him, we won't be able to tell what happened for about 30 seconds, and then they'll back away to reveal the coach in a bloodied, unconscious lump.

Anyway, that Ph.D. comes down to paying attention to the little things. The way players walk toward the bench after a timeout. (Goes one of three ways: "I'm interested to hear coach's thoughts," "I look forward to sitting down" or "Great, I get to listen to this bonehead again.") How fast someone jumps up when the coach calls for them as a sub. (If they jump up fast, that means they're totally in the game; if they jump up slow, that means they were either daydreaming about that night's sexual conquest or imagining he's punching the coach in the face.) Whether they listen or don't listen in the huddle. The body language of the coach himself. And the telltale sign ... what happens when a top player gets called over by coach when someone is shooting free throws.

This can unfold one of three ways:

A. Player runs over respectfully and seems genuinely interested in the coach's wisdom. Watch what happens when Popovich calls over Duncan or Parker in a Spurs game. Total respect. They look like someone jogging over to a police officer.

B. Player jogs over, doesn't seem totally interested, but doesn't want to seem like a jerk either. This usually sums up 75 percent of the league.

C. Player does a double-take and his head kicks back briefly (like he's thinking, "Really, I have to talk to this guy again???"). He saunters over disdainfully. When he reaches the coach, he makes eye contact for the first two seconds, then starts subconsciously pulling away (first with his eyes, then with his body leaning back toward the coach), and at about the six-second mark, he just starts walking back toward the court whether the coach is finished talking or not. Everything about the exchange says, "I've just had it with this freaking guy."

I mistakenly believed that Chris Paul and Scott had an "A" relationship but in the second half of Monday's game, it was revealed that they were a "C." At least right now. Translation: I am no longer sold on the 2009 Hornets.

Which brings me back to reps. I wrote for Jimmy Kimmel when he hosted the "American Music Awards" show last weekend. We showed up for rehearsal on Saturday and Jimmy's agent, the legendary James "Baby Doll" Dixon, wanted a picture with Miley Cyrus to impress his three kids. We thought this was really funny; not the request itself, but that Baby thought his kids would be impressed by a photo in which a teenage female pop star was taller than their father.

After getting the picture, Jimmy and Baby ended up chatting with Miley for a minute before returning to our spot. I mentioned that Miley, who turned 16 on the day of the show, handled herself with the maturity of a 30-year-old woman. Actually, it was a little creepy. Like one of those "Freaky Friday"-type movies in which the mom and daughter switch bodies. Jimmy pointed out that Miley's current boyfriend was 20; we decided this was for the best since she couldn't date anyone her age. She had worked too many hours, been exposed to too many different things, had too many adult conversations, been in the spotlight for too long, lived too much of a life. Even if she was physically turning 16, mentally, she was turning somewhere between 21 and 49.

"It's all about reps," I said to a nodding Jimmy. "She's gotten a ton of life reps, if that makes sense."

In real life, reps are a good thing unless you're a porn star, a hooker, a cocaine addict or Tony Siragusa. In basketball, sometimes you can get too many reps in the wrong direction and it does more damage than good. If the Hornets are subtly tuning their coach out -- and that seemed to be the case on Monday night -- then that situation can only deteriorate. Remember Avery Johnson's last two seasons? The Dallas brain trust never realized Avery lost the team until after the damaging-in-every-conceivable-respect Jason Kidd/Devin Harris panic trade. They didn't understand -- or maybe they didn't want to admit -- that Avery had burned out his players and they were getting "I secretly hope we lose so I never have to hear this guy's annoying voice again" reps.

So how will this Hornets' situation play out? My guess would be poorly. (Unless I caught them on the wrong night. I doubt it.) But it's just one of the most intriguing questions through four weeks. Here are 10 more.

1. Has Derrick Rose exceeded every conceivable expectation?

Yes, yes and yes. Yes. Yes. Absolutely yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Unequivocally, 100 percent, yes. As God as my witness, yes. May I get struck down by lightning if I'm lying, yes. Yes. Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Allow me these three points:

A. His worst-case scenario ceiling? Micheal Ray Richardson without the coke problem. (And if you don't think that's a big deal, remember that a clean Sugar knocked the Fo-Fo-Fo Sixers out of the '84 playoffs by himself.) As for the best-case scenario ... I can't jinx it so I won't go there. Just know that I wouldn't change a single thing about his game other than giving him a reliable jump shot (which should come soon), which doubles as the craziest thing about Rose right now: He's beating guys off the dribble WHO ARE ALREADY PLAYING OFF HIM BY FIVE FEET!!!!!! Do you realize how absurd that is?

B. I always judge players by one question: Would I like playing with him? And I'd love to play with Rose. ... Too bad I was washed up 10 years ago. But to watch Rose's unselfishness slowly rub off on such a messed-up, immature, overpaid, poorly coached, terribly put-together Bulls team has been one of the most random shockers of this season, right up there with Vince Carter looking like Vintage VC again; Jason Thompson being a great pick; Jason Kidd morphing into a Nash-like defensive liability; Marc Gasol being semi-competent; the poor Hawks fans getting suckered in by one of Flip Murray's infamous November hot streaks; the fact that Alexis Ajinca could ever get drafted in the top 20 of an NBA draft; and Tim Thomas being involved in a trade that was delayed because someone else had a heart problem.

Because of Rose (and to a lesser extent, Vinny Del Negro's ongoing Shooter/"Hoosiers" routine which continues to deliver the goods comedically), the '09 Bulls became one of my go-to DirecTV teams even though I can't stand watching 80 percent of the guys on the team. Remember the days when we were worried that we wouldn't have an adequate starting point guard for the USA Olympic Team? Now we have Paul, Williams AND Rose? Holy schnikes.

rosesbulls
11-27-2008, 11:12 AM
1. Has Derrick Rose exceeded every conceivable expectation?

Yes, yes and yes. Yes. Yes. Absolutely yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Unequivocally, 100 percent, yes. As God as my witness, yes. May I get struck down by lightning if I'm lying, yes. Yes. Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Allow me these three points:

A. His worst-case scenario ceiling? Micheal Ray Richardson without the coke problem. (And if you don't think that's a big deal, remember that a clean Sugar knocked the Fo-Fo-Fo Sixers out of the '84 playoffs by himself.) As for the best-case scenario ... I can't jinx it so I won't go there. Just know that I wouldn't change a single thing about his game other than giving him a reliable jump shot (which should come soon), which doubles as the craziest thing about Rose right now: He's beating guys off the dribble WHO ARE ALREADY PLAYING OFF HIM BY FIVE FEET!!!!!! Do you realize how absurd that is?

B. I always judge players by one question: Would I like playing with him? And I'd love to play with Rose. ... Too bad I was washed up 10 years ago. But to watch Rose's unselfishness slowly rub off on such a messed-up, immature, overpaid, poorly coached, terribly put-together Bulls team has been one of the most random shockers of this season, right up there with Vince Carter looking like Vintage VC again; Jason Thompson being a great pick; Jason Kidd morphing into a Nash-like defensive liability; Marc Gasol being semi-competent; the poor Hawks fans getting suckered in by one of Flip Murray's infamous November hot streaks; the fact that Alexis Ajinca could ever get drafted in the top 20 of an NBA draft; and Tim Thomas being involved in a trade that was delayed because someone else had a heart problem.

Because of Rose (and to a lesser extent, Vinny Del Negro's ongoing Shooter/"Hoosiers" routine which continues to deliver the goods comedically), the '09 Bulls became one of my go-to DirecTV teams even though I can't stand watching 80 percent of the guys on the team. Remember the days when we were worried that we wouldn't have an adequate starting point guard for the USA Olympic Team? Now we have Paul, Williams AND Rose? Holy schnikes.

Thats my second favorite quote in bill simmons article my favorite is "Derrick Rose is like a $500,000 Maybach parked in the driveway of a $200,000 house in the middle of nowhere. Let's hope we still aren't saying that in three years."

Vinny642
11-27-2008, 12:03 PM
I dont get it but why is Cleveland over us but we beat em wihtout Peja and Tyson Chandler??? Pisses me

Aapox
11-27-2008, 12:11 PM
I guess you didn't read the first half/middle area of the post?

innovator
11-27-2008, 01:36 PM
I dont get it but why is Cleveland over us but we beat em wihtout Peja and Tyson Chandler??? Pisses me

maybe better record

Wilson
11-27-2008, 02:01 PM
Here's the link to the article by the way: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/081126&sportCat=nba

When posting an article, you need to include a link to it jackson1

It was interesting what Simmons had to say about the Hornets. Lets hope it's not true that they're tuning their coach out. Even though I'm a Laker fan, it would be a shame to lose out on a potentially great Hornets team. Over the next few years, the top of the Western Conference should read, in any order: Lakers, Rockets, Hornets, Trail Blazers. It would be a shame to lose one because of a bad player-coach relationship.

Flash812
11-27-2008, 02:31 PM
Here's the link to the article by the way: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/081126&sportCat=nba

When posting an article, you need to include a link to it jackson1

It was interesting what Simmons had to say about the Hornets. Lets hope it's not true that they're tuning their coach out. Even though I'm a Laker fan, it would be a shame to lose out on a potentially great Hornets team. Over the next few years, the top of the Western Conference should read, in any order: Lakers, Rockets, Hornets, Trail Blazers. It would be a shame to lose one because of a bad player-coach relationship.

It is not true, Simmons picked them to come out of the west and he wants an excuse to get out of his pick by saying the team doesn't like each other. If he went to more games he would understand a little more, they are all intense guys on the court and different off of it. The hornets played great coming into the season and the first 2 games but then went into a slump just like they did at times last year, it always lasted about 6 games too. Once they get out of the slump they will be recognized again as an elite team. Hell they are playing great defense only allowing 91 pts per game, the offense has been sketchy with Peja and Chandler being bums as of late, the last 3 games might be enough to get their confidence back.

cmstophe
11-28-2008, 12:21 AM
I dont get it but why is Cleveland over us but we beat em wihtout Peja and Tyson Chandler??? Pisses me

Should the Wolves be a better team cuz they beat Detroit?

No.

SAVAGE CLAW
11-28-2008, 12:35 AM
This guys an idiot, Marc Gasol is not semi-competent he is a COMPETENT center.

What was he expecting????