Editor’s Note: This article is Spencer Lund’s first for Shaky Ankles.
There’s a famous sociological investigation called the marshmallow test. It’s a pretty straightforward experiment: A marshmallow is placed in front of the subject with the warning that they’re not to eat the marshmallow for 15 minutes if they want to receive a second marshmallow. The subjects during psychologist Walter Mischel’s original test at Stanford University’s Bing Nursery in 1972 were children aged four to six.
They were given a choice between a marshmallow, an oreo cookie or a pretzel stick—depending on their own preferences (not all kids love marshmallows). It’s a basic test of deferred gratification. If the hyper-kinetic, Twitter-infused, contemporary NBA fan were to take the test, they would probably gobble the marshmallow within a couple minutes. If Bulls and Timberwolves fans want a second marshmallow, they’re going to have to wait and remain patient with their franchise point guards, both of whom are recovering from knee injuries as the NBA’s preseason ends, and the regular season is set to begin.
In the grand scheme of what’s altruistically important in life, I believe it’s fair to suggest all teachers, doctors, surgeons, and members of the armed forces should be given financial compensation of equal or greater value to that of which is awarded professional athletes. Their actual impact on human life is indisputably greater, more important, and further reaching. Of course, they don’t (and never will) because the businesses they’re in don’t create the billions upon billions of dollars in gross revenue that the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL produce on an annual basis. They also have an uncountable number of members in their labor force, making each worker’s slice of pie much smaller than that of the athlete. Call it sad. Call it unfair. Call it horribly disproportionate. Call it the real world. Read more…
Whether you hail from Compton, California or the European Union’s north side, Derrick Rose doesn’t care. He will happily lead you one way and then go the other. It’s what he does, and he’s possibly the best in the world at it. Possibly nobody in the entire league possesses the same quick back and forth deception—from left to right then back again—Rose does. At such a young age, his ball handling ability is effective to the point where it isn’t inconceivable to believe that over the next 10 years he could singlehandedly bring the crossover into its next era; it’ll be a joy to observe.
Today, the good people over at the New York Times blessed us with this phenomenal mini-documentary on the crossover dribble. If you haven’t seen or heard about it, please watch right now. Don’t even read the rest of what’s written in this post. Scroll down and watch. Right. Now. (Then scroll back and read.)
The only grievance I have is its contracted length (only six minutes and 30 seconds), but the informative throwback spots with guys like Pearl Washington and Dean Berry are simply priceless, and their words are well worth every taped moment. The video stimulates one of my all-time favorite basketball related arguments: Who has the most effective crossover in NBA history? Iverson owns the most iconic, and Hardaway’s basketball legacy might be most entwined with the move, but the way modern day guys like Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams break out their shimmy at the drop of a dime to not only score, but embarrass their opponents, it’s so tough to say who fits snuggest on the Crossover’s throne.
But, honestly, who cares who’s the most effective with it. The move represents so much more than evading the defender. It’s stylish. It’s elegant. It’s a big jumble of speed, power, deception, and confidence rolled into a never ending split second. And this video, combined with Shaky Ankles in its much smaller venue, has begun to recognize just how special such a simple dribbling maneuver can be.
Wait, I know that earlier I said I only had one complaint in regards to the video you’re either about to see or just saw. That was a lie. I wish I made it.
Back when I was in high school, at least twice a month I elected to get my hair cut at a communal barbershop located just outside Cambridge’s Central Square. Each time I visited I was greeted with vivacious conversation surrounding one of three topics: Basketball, boxing, and African-American artistry. The discussions were almost ceremonious in their consistency; questions were posed, debated, and ultimately resolved by whoever happened to be holding the long, potentially threatening, wooden broom. Men of wide ranging knowledge such as Henry Louis Gates Jr. were regular participants, and the chatter which made the shop palatial would put any talking head program airing on popular television today to permanent shame. Read more…
In an all-time, symposium inducing trade deadline to trump every trade deadline that ever was—two franchise players were dealt, resulting in a seismic, anti-exploratory geographic shift from west to east,and a top flight championship contender traded its starter who most embodies said team’s tried and true, gritty identity—he’s been called the most treasured piece acquired. Not Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, Kendrick Perkins, or even Jeff Green, but Kirk Hinrich. A solid, unspectacular point guard who’s limited athletically and wears funny goggles. This was, in one coach’s eyes, the most prized possession; the difference maker capable of partially leading the hapless Hawks past the first round and into uncharted waters.
And now, just as the Hawks finally defeated their personal Dwight Howard/Goliath, Hinrich’s done, hampered by an ill-timed hamstring injury. Normally the loss of a proven defensively adept guard would be a death blow for any team facing a point guard able to wreak as much havoc as Derrick Rose, but what if this injury turns into a blessing for Atlanta? An injury to Hinrich opens up the door for two possibilities: 1) Second year pro Jeff Teague gets the nod as a starter, is thrown into the playoff’s already burning fire, and is held partially responsible for defending Rose, or 2) The Hawks first round leading scorer, Jamal Crawford, is thrust into the starting lineup for the first time all season, seeing more minutes, more shots, and sticking Teague into the role of dynamic bench scorer. Either way the Hawks have an unknown entity on their hands which isn’t exactly what they’d like heading into the Semifinals, but it shouldn’t put a smile on Thibodeau’s face either. This from the league’s Coach of the Year in a recent AP piece looking at Atlanta’s second round chances:
“They have quality depth,” he said. “Crawford has played a lot of minutes. Teague has played extremely well when he’s been in their rotation. He’s a guy that you can’t overlook. Joe Johnson has the ability to handle the ball. They’ve got a lot of depth in their backcourt. Their perimeter guys are really skilled.”
There’s a good chance that on the defensive end Atlanta deploys a hefty dose of the longer Joe Johnson on Rose, but this strategy can’t be a four quarter solution or Johnson will likely see himself get in a wee bit of foul trouble. But on the offensive end, maybe this turns into the most pleasant of surprises for Atlanta. Maybe Teague’s speed and athleticism give Derrick Rose and his not so great perimeter defense an unexpected headache. Maybe he’s able to push the envelope and force Rose to the bench with his own foul trouble quicker than the Bulls would like.
The Bulls can’t win a championship unless Rose averages 35 points a game. This hypothetical theory is of my own creation thanks to Boozer’s expected forfeiture of offensive responsibility (his splits against Atlanta this year are an unmemorable 8.5 points and five rebounds, his lowest scoring total against all teams) and the Bulls’ brittle reliance on Rose to take over in the fourth quarter. I’m not saying Atlanta will win this series, but with Teague they have somewhat of a secret weapon. A player with blazing speed, great handle, and an aggressive attack the basket mentality. The series will more likely come down to how well Josh Smith and Al Horford can handle Joakim Noah and Boozer, but today’s game ends in the backcourt. Ironically, given Hinrich’s injury, it’s where the Hawks could have the unexpected advantage.
Rajon Rondo is a reigning member of the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team; he’s an absolute hawk of the basketball and one of the league’s premier perimeter defenders. Right now he’s in the top three at his position in total defensive plays and second in the entire league in steals. Finding clips of him getting fooled by the dribble is like catching sight of John Calipari’s coiffure in bone dry form, nearly impossible. Yet last night, during the making of a 97-81 victory by the Bulls, the impossible became reality. This is the magical power of Derrick Rose, your 2011 league MVP.
1) If you haven’t already seen it, one of my favorite writers, Bethlehem Shoals, took on the upcoming cycle’s least important free agents. It’s neither a sanguine nor pretty open market out there.
2) Last night David West suffered what might be a career shifting knee injury. In recent weeks he’s been quite talkative about his upcoming free agency; rightfully optimistic, sounding like a player who’s ready to reap the benefits of all the hard work put forth towards his profession. The primal screams that can be heard from the video linked above are as difficult to hear as anything in the sport, and I can only hope a good guy like West comes back stronger than before. On the long list of Things That Aren’t Fair In This World, a dedicated athlete tearing an ACL is definitely up there.
3) Not to be a selfish Sally, but if Kevin Love’s really out the rest of the year with a groin injury, my fantasy basketball team can kiss its championship chances goodbye.
4) Video evidence that the game’s most intense man is for real.
5) I like StatsCube. You should too. Here it takes a look at who should win the Most Improved Player award.
6) Great article on the staying in school vs. leaving early argument.
7) Hardwood Paroxysm’s wonderful look at the pressures Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant have ahead of them, and how they could shape the two youngsters.