More Than A Game: A Book Review

Characteristics of a Sound Offense (According to Phil Jackson and Charley Rosen)

1. Must penetrate the defense.

      a)Create good % shots. Define what is a good shot for each player

      b) Stress inside power game. Play for the 3 pt. power play.

      c)Break down all defenses from full court presses to double teams.

2. Transition basketball starts on defense. Look to run!

3. Provides proper floor spacing 15’-18’, creating an operating room and clearing area on the court. Keeps defense occupied on and off the ball.

4.Provides player and ball movement with a purpose. There is only one ball and 5 players. All things being equal, a player is without the ball 80 % of the time.

5. Provides strong rebound position and good defensive balance on all good shot.

6.Provides the player with the ball an opportunity to pass to any of his teammates.Utilize the abilities of the individual players. Must create high % shots for a team’s best shooters, rebound opportunities for best drivers.

 

 

More Than A Game is as close to a philosophy book as you will find on the game of basketball. A coach is only as successful as their coaching philosophy. John Wooden had his Pyramid of Success, Don Nelson had Nellie-ball, which was about creating defensive mismatches by having the best five offensive players on the court at one time, and Tex Winters had the Triangle Offense (also called the Triple Post); which hit the peak of its success when Phil Jackson implemented it with the Chicago Bulls, and later with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Though some chapters are dedicated to filling in the gaps of the coauthor’s lives, the book doesn’t get bogged down in the “who, what, and why’s”. The narrative thread is seamless despite the jumps in place and time. The reader learns  about Jackson’s Knicks days and how he met Rosen during this time period.

Phil discusses his upbringing and the road that led him to him abandon the Pentecostal concepts of sinning, the afterlife, and redemption, for Zen Christianity (essentially trading in a belief in the otherworldly for something tangible and non-theistic). Jackson expresses how the attraction for the Triangle philosophy almost mirrors his personal religious aesthetic, as he recites the Noble Eightfold Path and how it relates to hoops:

  • Right Understanding
  • Right Thought
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood
  • Right Effort
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Concentration

Jackson goes on to further explain that “Right thought means being in the moment as much as humanly possible. Right action means playing every play, every quarter, every game to its fullest.Winning is only the secondary effect of right thinking and right action.”

Jackson embrace of the Triangle Offense came when he and Tex Winter were Bulls assistant coaches under Doug Collins. Jackson thought the Winter’s offensive scheme reminded him of his time playing for Red Holtzman (who Phil got to watch up close when he was on the bench with a back injury). When Phil was finally promoted to head coach (after Doug Collins’ dismissal), he kept Winter on as an assistant and let Winter install the offense that both credit for their coaching success. Why was it so successful? According to Phil Jackson:

  • Provides a clear purpose and direction with implicit goals.
  • Trains and educates new people, who in turn learn how they can contribute.
  • It rewards unselfish behavior which in turn renews the system.
  • Makes for easier transition through times of change.
  • Provides context within which a leader can integrate all the skills of the team.

The Bulls were able to win 6 titles despite not ever having a dominate point guard or center, and the Lakers managed to win multiple titles with a bunch of role players (some of them scrubs) filling the stat sheet with whatever Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal could not do themselves.

Some of the other highlights from this book are

  • Getting confirmation from both Charley Rosen and Phil Jackson that Rick Barry is indeed an asshole.
  • Jim Cleamons theory on why east coast bred players practice harder than west coast guys.
  • A scene with Phil, Charley, and Tex watching an instructional video by “Pistol” Pete Maravich and discussing the phenomenon of the palming violation.
  • Phil’s and Charley’s collective coaching experiences in the Puerto Rico Superior League and CBA.
  • Jim Cleamons and Quinn Buckner’s (separate) attempts to install the triple post offense as head coaches in Dallas, and the player reactions.
  • Despite Portland going 13 straight possessions without scoring, the Trailblazers lost not because they choked, but because they were gassed from coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the 1999-2000 conference finals.
  • The genesis of the triangle going all the way back to USC coach Sam Barry’s “Center Option with a reverse action” playbook.

 

Littered with hoops jargon and diagrams that illustrate the basic ways to fill a triangle; More Than a Game strikes a beautiful balance of real life experiences with  X’s and O’s. The symmetry of Jackson and Rosen’s storytelling reveals accuracy of the phrase “basketball is an expression of life.” Each experience is treated as merely another step on the path to basketball nirvana. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to go into coaching–basketball or otherwise. A+

BM

 

 profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at FullsassStudios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Clicks to Pick Nov. 28th to Dec. 4th

This A Good Ass Game will be run by carefully chosen special guests while Bobby Mickey is on vacation in Havana. This Week’s Clicks to Pick are brought to you Devon Singrey.

Monday, November 28

Kings @ Wizards
The world is a confusing and frightening place right now. We can all use something to make us feel good. What better way than to look down on the two most dysfunctional franchises in the league? There’s nothing quite like watching John Wall and Bradley Beal fantasize about murdering each other in real time, or Boogie Cousins spontaneously combusting in frustration, to make your problems feel like mere trifles! Sac-Town vs. Chocolate City is the dumpster fire America deserves.
Hawks @ Warriors
Clearly the Dubs have figured some stuff out after the early-season ugliness, and Atlanta looks just good enough again to get fans’ hopes up before another sweet, sweet second-round exit. Steve Kerr is always tinkering with his rotations, but watch out for Spurs protege Mike Budenholzer and his All-Tepid Lineup of backups Tim Hardaway, Jr., Thabo Sefolosha, Mike Muscala and Kris Humphries. It’s hard to not hate the Warriors, but then you watch Dwight Howard for 48 minutes and think, “these guys aren’t so bad.”

Tuesday, November 29

Lakers @ Pelicans
After starting 0-8 and looking primed to waste another year of Anthony Davis, the Pellies have gone 6-3, including a recent four-game win streak. It should be entertaining to see how they deal with the surprisingly decent Lake Show, especially after getting smoked 126-99 earlier in the season. So many questions with these teams! Has Swaggy P made a change for good? Will Mozgov smash? Can Tiny Tim Frazier survive and thrive, or will it be L.A. saying, “Bah, Humbug!” again?
Rockets @ Jazz
It’s a Battle Royale between two teams the media likes to pretend are going to compete in the West! I assume the very existence of James Harden’s ostentatious beard, spicy offensive game and no-cares D will send the fans in Salt Lake City into a frothing rage, so expect a contentious affair between “The Beard” and Utah’s favorite adopted son Gordon Hayward. “Facial hair? 3-pointers? Bad defense? THAT’S NOT REAL BASKETBALL! Jerry Sloan would disapprove of that even more than he would a gay player!”

Wednesday, November 30

Grizzlies @ Raptors
Skinny Kyle Lowry deserves recognition for shedding those pounds, but he’ll never achieve DeMar DeRozan skinniness; just as Toronto will never be a real contender with this group of above-average dudes. The Griz know that life, having existed for years on the periphery of elite relevance and never quite getting there. The winner gets to pretend they have a real shot past the first round for another month.

Thursday, December 1

Clippers @ Cavaliers (Good Ass Game of the Week)
The Clips are dope. The LeBrons are dope. This game is dope. Like every other basketball fan in America, I’m curious to see if L.A. is actually for real this time, or if they’re going to faceplant before the conference finals again. Beating the champs on the road would be a good indicator, but it’ll take a lot to top The King, who’s currently averaging 23, 9 and 8 on 50% shooting. Plus, Kevin Love has decided to show up this season. And Kyrie! Damn, the Cavs are good.
Rockets @ Warriors
It’s always fun to watch Houston take on Golden State. The Rockets aren’t good enough to seriously threaten the Dubs, but they’re not smart enough to realize it; which makes it super entertaining as they fire off 45 threes only to lose 130-100. It’s kind of cool that James Harden is a point guard now, so he and Steph get to not guard each other as they both go off for 40-plus. This is one of those nationally televised games in which KD needs to really drive home his new villain status. Embrace the evil, Kevin. Everyone hates you already.

Friday, December 2

Timberwolves @ Knicks
You’d better tune in to check out two of the best young big men in the game as Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis go head-to-head. Plus: Carmelo! Andrew Wiggins! Zach LaVine will probably dunk! There’ll be a gross slap-fight as snarly tough guy Joakim Noah and future Noah replacement Robin Lopez butt heads (possibly literally). As an added bonus, the 27 percent three-point shooting percentages of point guards Derrick Rose and Ricky Rubio will have a bricklaying contest to the death. Fun fact: D-Rose’s career percentage from distance is worse than Ricky’s. ¡Ay Caramba!
Cavaliers @ Bulls
The King on back-to-back nights! Chicago HATES LeBron, and the unholy Rondo-Wade-Butler triumvirate hasn’t blown up yet, so this ought to be a loud, angry environment that will test Cleveland one night after playing the Clips. The Bulls aren’t going to be a legit contender to win the East, but up until Rondo quits on the team everyone should be watching. There’s just no way this ends well. A sweep of this back-to-back would be pretty impressive for the Cavs.

Sunday, December 4

Pelicans @ Thunder
Why not? We get two of the supreme athletic freaks in the Brow and Russ, with both players vying for the title of “Most amazing plays without any help in a single season.” Russ will try to posterize Anthony Davis. Davis will try to end Russ’ life. The other eight players are completely superfluous in this game. We shouldn’t even count their stats. With enough assists from Davis, there could be a triple-double on both sides.
img_3186 Devon Singrey is a Portlander and creator of the college football blog, Making Sense of Saturday. His interests include basketball, football, history, mythology, funky music, and all things Prince.

Good Ass Games of The Week

Bobby Mickey will be back from vacation the week of December 5th with his regular weekly column. Until then, here are the “picks to click” for the week of 11/21.

 

Monday

Toronto at LAC

Dallas at San Antonio

Houston at Detroit

Boston at Minnesota

 

“Tap That Vein”Tuesday

Oklahoma City at Los Angeles Lakers

 

Wednesday

Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State

Oklahoma City at Sacramento

 

Thursday

No Good Ass Games Scheduled

 

Friday

Houston at Sacramento

Golden State at Los Angeles

 

Saturday

Minnesota at Golden State

 

Sunday 

LAC at Indiana

Houston at Portland

 

 

Knapp Time: Alex’s Picks To Click For the Week of Nov.14th-20th

This A Good Ass Game will be run by carefully chosen special guests while Bobby Mickey is on vacation in Bermuda. This Week’s Clicks to Pick are brought to you by Alex Knapp. You can also check out Alex Knapp’s Weekly Hot Take Roundup here. #fullsasstakeover

 

 

MONDAY

Thunder @ Pistons 7:30pm EST

Record wise this is the best game of the night, and somehow the Pistons got off to a decent start despite missing their all-star PG, Reggie Jackson. I could see Westbrook going for 45 but the Pistons still wining this game. Should be fun to watch.
Mavs @ Knicks 7:30pm EST
Old man Dirk vs Young man Zinger. Worth a click.
Magic @ Pacers 7:00pm EST
Here are two young and fun east coast teams battling for a playoff spot. Each team needs to win this to prove to they belong in the playoffs.
Indiana is better but I think Orlando gets the win.

TUESDAY

Bulls @ Blazers 10:00 pm EST (NBA TV)
The jury is still out on the new-look Bulls. After a hot start they’ve stalled with 3 straight losses (can’t score sometimes).
When they shoot above 40% from 3pt land they win. When they shoot below 36% from 3pt land they lose. There is very little in-between.
Dame vs Rondo, C.J. vs Wade/Butler, Myers Leonard vs Doug McBuckets?!?!?!
Toronto @ Cleveland 7:30pm EST (NBA TV)
Oh you that lame kind of NBA fan who only watches “the best” teams play? That is sooooooo cool LAME.

WEDNESDAY

Golden State vs Toronto 7:00 pm & Memphis vs Los Angeles Clippers 9:30 pm
Both the ESPN matchups will likely be more blah then exciting. I can’t stand watching Toronto or Memphis. I hope KD and Curry go for 80 combined and Blake Griffin ends somebody career with an earth shattering dunk.
Rockets @ Thunder 8:00 pm EST
Harden vs Russ. Gonna be high scoring!!!
Bucks @ Hawks 7:30pm EST
If the ESPN games don’t hold your attention, then watch the Greek Freak play a squad with an actual good team defense. They will be a good test of his skill level. NBA nerds will get off watching how many different defensive looks coach Bud throws at him.

 THURSDAY 

Blazers @ Rockets 8:00pm EST
Both the TNT games kind of suck here too (Philadelphia vs. Minnesota; Los Angeles Clippers vs. Sacramento). You can call me a homer but I’d rather  watch Dame and Harden go buck wild on each other (neither of them can play a lick of defense).

FRIDAY (GOOD ASS GAME OF THE WEEK)

Warriors @ Celtics 8:00 pm EST (ESPN)
Celtics always want to beat this team, and coach Brad Stevens usually has a good enough–
creative game plan to make it fun and exciting. My money is on an overtime win by the Celtics.

SATURDAY (Go Do Something Fun)

Warriors @ Bucks 8:30pm EST
Maybe…
Hornets @ Pelicans 7:00pm EST
Watch “The Brow” drop 50 on Kemba and company.
They have no big man to guard him. Cody Zeller, Roy Hibbert, Marvin Williams? Get the fuck outta here with that weak shit.

SUNDAY 

I will be at the Blazers @ Nets game, so I hope it’s a blowout.
Other than that, this looks like a football day (Cowboys-Steelers; Patriots-Seahawks).
f16fe4_33a1706de82a46a9b053723415da08dc      Alex Knapp is a Portlander who has lived in Brooklyn, New York for the past 7 years. He is a filmmaker and actor currently working in HR to pay the bills. Alex is an avid NBA basketball fan who likely has an opinion on every team and every player, seriously – try him. You can check out his podcast with Anthony Levy, PDXPATS on iTunes. 
 

A Book Review of :07 Seconds or Less

If you’ve read Sports Illustrated or stumbled across the book Unfinished Business, then you are familiar with the work of Jack McCallum. Mccallum has been a notable figure in the sports journalism circles for decades as a basketball writer for SI, and his various paperback books about both basketball and non-basketball related topics. He is currently in the basketball Hall of Fame as a writer, and for any older school Celtics fans of the Parish,Bird, and McHale era should get their hands on Unfinished Business.

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Much like Unfinished Business, McCallum follows around the ’05-06 Phoenix Suns during their entire season like he did with the 1990-91 Boston Celtics. The biggest difference is that McCallum gets an incredibly rare glimpse into NBA minutiae as an unofficial “assistant coach” of the team; sitting in on meetings and going on road trips with the other team assistants. This access pays off as McCallum gives readers an intimate (but sometimes unfair) snapshot of the pivotal and inane moments  of the Suns unexpected run to the Western Conference Finals.

Some of these moments include:

  • Boris Diaw making a name for himself in the wake of the Amare Stoudemire season ending knee injury, and become the lynch pin to seeing Head Coach Mike D’Antoni’s philosophy come to fruition. It is hard to believe today, but Boris Diaw came into the league as a 6’8 guard.
  • Raja Bell at the peak of his NBA career, and laboring to keep a spot in the NBA, he finally finds a place where he can thrive.
  • Eddie House (yes that one) and his hilarious locker room quips.
  • Pre-game, mid-game, and post game conversations among assistant coaches ranging from what adjustments need to be made from game to game, to the best places to eat in certain cities after NBA games.
  • The Suns coming back from a *cough* 3-1 series deficit against the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.
  • The Suns-Clipper second series that turned when Mike Dunleavy Sr. decided to put a green Daniel Ewing in the game to guard (and subsequently lose) Raja Bell in the waning seconds of the 4th quarter.
  • Tim Thomas. Remember that guy?
  • The strained relationship between the Colangelos and Robert Sarver, and why the Phoenix experiment ultimately failed. I’ll give you one hint. It wasn’t because of the Colangelo family (I never realized that Joe Johnson was traded. I’d always was under the impression he left as a free agent).
  • Steve Nash yelling out the time remaining on the “Clickety” before each tip-off.
  • Dirk Nowitzki’s epic 50 point game in a pivotal game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.
  • Alvin Gentry’s humorous anecdotes about players and coaches, including the time Jerry Stackhouse beat up Kirk Snyder.
  • NBA pre-game routines of players, coaches and staff.
  • Then NBA commissioner David Stern issuing a racially coded league wide dress policy.

The book is a real Who’s Who of names from that time period, and I found myself reminiscing on how good Corey Maggette and Elton Brand were back in the day. If you ever listen to the Truehoop podcast (and I highly recommend you do so if you haven’t yet), you may hear Amin El Hassan refer to his time in Phoenix during the SSOL era, and how he went from having some of the most fun he’d ever had on a job, to hating to even come to work.

McCallum captures the sweet period of that blip in franchise’s history before it went sour and all the front office guys went on to do bigger and better things (people like Steve Kerr, David Griffin). My only criticism is that there are a few times that McCallum comes off as an out of touch, old, white guy who has trouble relating to this new generation of stars. The Phoenix staff, although welcoming, does not take it easy on him, and Jack occasionally is the butt of joke just by being there as a writer.

I also wonder if he could do it again, would McCallum leave out some of the more unflattering passages of Shawn Marion and/or Amare Stoudemire. It is these instances where I often considered if he understood the weight of the perceptions he was giving; as sometimes Marion and Stoudemire were unfairly portrayed as dumb, lazy, or selfish.

I personally felt that McCallum could have still moved the story along without including these superficial broad strokes of their characters. Both Marion and Stoudemire overcame seriously adverse circumstances to become the people they were, and McCallum failed to give readers this balanced look at their lives.

All that being said, it is a really fun read, and quite funny. It moves along with the same pace as those high-octane D’Antoni offenses, moving from one place to another with ease. If you’ve read some of Jack McCallum’s other works, it isn’t an unfair criticism to call some of his writings stale and out of touch. This book is only slightly out of touch.

I give it an A minus.

BM

 profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at FullsassStudios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

The Weekly Hot-Take Roundup

Welcome to the Weekly Hot Take Roundup (AKA Knasty Knapp’s Spicy Takes); a place where world renowned (his world) opinion-artist Alex Knapp, slings the spiciest of takes down the unsuspecting throats of Fullsass readers. Did you ask for these hot-takes? Does it matter?

Portland Trail Blazers
  • Evan Turner isn’t fitting in, can’t take enough of the offensive load off of Dame and C.J. to positively impact the game.
  • Myers Leonard has fallen out of the rotation and should be traded immediately, his trade stock is plummeting by the day
  • Dame can’t do it all himself, and unless other guys step up big time (think C.J.’s ascension last season) we will lose more games then last year. FACT
Golden State Warriors 
  •  The sentiment that “Zaza can’t stay on the floor” is overblown and people don’t realize David West is completely washed up.
  • They will go on a 10 game win streak as soon as Klay gets out of this 3pt shooting slump. It probably starts next week.
  • Lets give JaVale McGee some burn huh? Love that guy.
LA Clippers
  • Blake Griffin is a fucking beast and when engaged is an overall more impactful/better player than CP3. HOT TAKE!
  • J.J. Redick is off to a horrible shooting start (like Klay). Maybe its because he spent too much time on his podcast this off-season.
  • This team makes a trade for Rudy Gay and goes to the Western Conference Finals. FREE RUDY!
Minnesota Timberwolves 
  • If you’ve watched any of their games yet this season, you’ve seen why they won’t win more then 41.5 games (Vegas over/under).
  •  People need to stop hating on Zach LaZine [editor’s note: Do we?]. He is an athletic freak with a perfect form pull up jumper. Any good coach could make that guy a legit starting Shooting guard in the NBA–which Thibs will do.
  • Chris Dunn might be more of an impact than Ricky Rubio RIGHT NOW. Trade Rubio.
Orlando Magic
  • Gordon isn’t a good enough 3pt shooter to play the SF and isn’t able to utilize his athletic advantage (greatest strength) if not guarded by 4’s.
  • Elfird Payton STILL can’t hit a 3 pointer to save his life, this makes year 3, move on.
  • IF and WHEN they trade Vucevic they will effectively be tanking the season, as he is their only true interior scorer and the only one of their big man who rebounds. I feel bad for Frank Vogul that Rob Hennigan fucked this up so bad. FIRE HENNIGAN!
Dallas Mavericks 
  • This is Dirk’s last year. I can smell it.
  • Harrison Barnes is good enough to be the #1 scorer on a okay/bad team and #2 scorer on an okay/good team.
  • Deron Williams is playing well right now, and it WILL continue. He’s still got it. This team makes the playoffs.

 

f16fe4_33a1706de82a46a9b053723415da08dc  Alex Knapp is a Portlander who has lived in Brooklyn, New York for the past 7 years. He is a filmmaker and actor currently working in HR to pay the bills. Alex is an avid NBA basketball fan who likely has an opinion on every team and every player, seriously – try him. You can check out his podcast with Anthony Levy, PDXPATS on Itunes.