True Hoops

True Hoops

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Not So Random Thoughts from the All-Star Game

Was it me or was the 2012 all-star game in Orlando almost a mirror image of last year's contest? I mean really what was the difference? You had Kobe headlining the show, drama with a superstar on the trading block, Russell Westbrook doing all sorts of crazy things in the air, and Kevin Durant making all sorts of shots. As for the game itself - same thing: The west getting out to a huge lead, leaving LeBron with no choice but to put the East on his back for a comeback - only to fall short at the very end. Well I guess that's a recipe for high ratings, so why switch it up?

Still, greatness is in the details.
So here are some of the things that stood out.......

Kobe Bryant is the all-time scoring leader in all-star history
Wasn't it just the other day that Kobe made his first all-star appearance at Madison Square Garden and stole the show from Michael Jordan? It seemed in that 1998 game as if the coaches deliberately sat Kobe out the second half so he wouldn't steal the MVP from Jordan. Well, 14 years later he finally beat out Jordan.

Kobe scored 27 in the game and for the most part didn't even seem like he was trying. It's incredible how effective he is when he lets the game come to him and plays off/with his teammates. Any chance he does more of that for this stage of his career?

A testament to his longevity and determination - Kobe is one of the best to ever play the game (and he's only 33). But, he certainly wasn't the main attraction at the game......


Take a step back Kobe (pun intended). With the exception of Jeremy Lin, LeBron James is at the center of the NBA universe - and will continue to be so for the next 5-6 years. Therefore, will all the highlights and milestones, any surprise that this game ultimately came down to LeBron?

Wasn't this game in effect a microcosm of his career (or at least critic of his career) thus far? With the East helpless and down 20 in second half, LeBron came to the rescue - scoring 23 of his 36 points (how about 8 points in the 4th quarter!). As he always does, LeBron displayed his overall dominance and ability to single handedly make a team competitive. But then of course, when push came to shove and with a chance to tie or win the game in the final seconds, LeBron was reluctant to shoot the ball in the end and actually committed a costly turnover.

With last year's all-star game and NBA Finals, I would say this is starting to turn into a disturbing trend. Would it be too much to say that that LeBron lost the MVP more so than Durant won it? After all, Durant only had 2 points in the 4th quarter (granted, it was a big bucket). There is no denying that LeBron is the best player in the world. But he will win only as many championships as he wants to. Forget make or miss, just take the shot LeBron - you've earned it!

With that said, Kevin Durant is really not that far behind LeBron. Think about it, he tends to score more and grab as many rebounds per game. The only things he lags in are the play making skills and defense.

But Durant may be a better one on one player.
He certainly came out gunning this game.

And make no mistake, Durant doesn't care how many championships LeBron is supposed to win. He is a capable foe that is more than willing to challenge for league supremacy. What in the world would happen if KD wins a championship before LeBron?

The clock is ticking......

A taste of things to come
Might as well get used to this debate.
Kevin Durant had 36 points, LeBron James had 36 points. The West won, so Durant was MVP.
This is what it's going to come down to for both the regular season and Finals MVP. The two best players on the two best teams. Who ever wins gets the trophy - it's that simple.
It will be curious to see if this becomes a Magic/Bird thing or if one of these guys becomes Jordan and the other Drexler.

Lack of coaching
Despite being the two time scoring champ and leading scorer on the West, KD only took two shots in the 4th quarter! It was amazing to see Durant open on the wing having his hands out calling for the ball only to get looked off. Couldn't Coach Brooks Get the ball to his main man? How about putting him in a pick and roll? Putting him on the block? In an isolation? Something?

The resulting lack of execution down the stretch on the part of the West all-stars was really something to marvel at.  My favorite was the Chris Paul/Blake Griffin pick and roll at the top of the key with under a minute to go that resulted in a double clutch three-pointer from Blake Griffin to beat the shot clock - but not coming close to going in.

It might have been a good idea to get the ball to their team MVP.
If KD thought it was hard getting shots ups playing with Westbrook, try adding Kobe and Chris Paul to the mix.

Athleticism wins out 
But alas, who needs coaching and execution when you have Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin on your team? There were several times down the stretch when the two aforementioned athletic freaks of nature were able to get dunks - either through weakside cuts or a put back off a broken play - to keep the West ahead.

Speaking of that failed pick and roll between Paul and Griffin, seems to have turned out okay for the West:

It pays to be able to fly.
Look! No Hands!

Over coaching
Speaking of not needing coaching, let me ask you a question:
With all dominance that LeBron displayed during the second half of the all-star game, as a coach with your team down 2-3 points, who would you run the final play for?
Deron Williams???
No disrespect to D-Will but what type of coach would make that call?
Oh wait, it was the reigning coach of the year Tom Thibodeau.
Granted, LeBron made a costly turnover all on his own, but how much of that do you think can be attributed to the fact he wasn't in attack mode after that play call? Alright, with 1.1 seconds to go and one more chance to tie game, LeBron's number (being 6-8 from three) would get called this time. Right?
Instead Thibodeau used LeBron as a passer to take the ball out of bounds. I think Kobe Bryant's facial expression and laughter as he looked at LeBron going into that final play perfectly summed up how ridiculous that play call was.

It reminds me of the last play in the movie Hoosiers.
Having the ball with the score tied in the final seconds of the state championship game, coach Gene Hackman brilliantly decides "We're gonna use Jimmy as a decoy" to have someone else take the last shot! After that statement, his whole team looks at him in silence with a mixture disbelief and disappointment. "What's a matter with you guys? " Hackman asks.  Jimmy (the best shooter in the state) then looks him squarely in the eyes and says, referring to the last shot: "I'll make it."
"Alright" Hackman says, "Jimmy you get the ball and take the last shot."
No play. No nothing. Just give the ball to your best player and get out of the way.

Part of the problem is that LeBron didn't look Thibodeau in his eyes and say "I'll make it."
It would have also been nice if Wade looked at Thibodeau with disbelief and disappointment to back up his boy.

Two very dubious play calls, to say the least.

Never do your enemy any favors
Maybe this actually was brilliant coaching.
How so?
Well, it is more than likely the Heat will be playing the Bulls in the eastern conference Finals again this year. And you have to know coach Thibodeau realizes this.
Yes, any sane and well meaning coach should have said to LeBron, "just get the ball and take the last shot." Heck even Kobe, who was playing defense on LeBron, told him to shoot the ball.
But as a coach, why on earth would you want to give confidence to the best player in the world, especially when said best player in the world will surely be the biggest obstacle in getting your team to the Finals?

Could these last two play calls be some sort of physcological warfare that Thibodeau used to plant a seed of doubt into LeBron's head, that he hopes resurfaces come playoff time?


Dwight Howard is an extraordinary defender
This may seem like an obvious statement to make regarding someone who is the three-time (and soon to four-time) reigning defensive player of the year. But really, how many times do you see someone block Andrew Bynum in the post then lock down Kevin Durant and Chris Paul in one on one situations on the perimeter - in the same game? The only other person I can think of that was versitile enough to do that sort of thing was Kevin Garrnett.

Howard is not a super star in the same vein as LeBron, Kobe, Durant, or Wade - but that may be a good thing. He can dominate a game without dominating the ball. Forget shooting and dunking, is there some sort of all-star event to showcase that kind of talent?

Of course, not even the most dominant defender in the game is perfect. Howard couldn't stay in front of  Kobe - but then again, there is a history there.

Additionally, there are some drives to the basket that even he knows not to contest:

Which brings us to......

Russell steals the show
Russell Westbrook is not a secret anymore. My question is, why does he have a personal vendetta against the rim?

Forget getting LeBron into the slam dunk competition to go against Blake Griffin. Let's just roll out the ball and let Westbrook have his own personal dunk contest.

I have a feeling LeBron wouldn't mind watching that. He seemed content to do so during the actual game.

What was better, Russel's dunk or the look of awe on LeBron's face?

LeBron liked it so much, he wanted to get a second look:

Messed around and got a triple double

Dywane Wade was the third person in NBA history to record a triple-double in the all-star game - behind Jordan and LeBron.

Is there anyone in the world better at being the second best player on his team?

As good as the LeBron/Durant Finals match-up will be, how good do you think the Wade/Westbrook match-up will be?

But why was he practicing punches?

All-stars games are not fake
Similar to wrestling, I used to think these games were made-up.
Then I saw Kobe walk off the court with a bloody nose, only to later find out that he suffered a fractured nose and concussion. Essh.

Even all-star celebrity game MVP and actor Kevin Hart was was in disbelief.

Question: What if someone other than Wade had done this?

Another question: How impressive is it that Kobe still played in the clutch?

Everybody loves Melo 
Can you guess who scored the most points in the 4th quarter of the all-star game?
Yes, it was Carmelo Anthony, who had 9 points.
Of course he also took the most shots, going 3-7 from the field.
Don't worry A'mare, it's not just you.

A different Rose
One of the things that stood out the most to me happened during the player introductions of the East starters. Take a look for yourself (go to the 4:45 mark):

Look at Derrick Rose's facial expression - it's as priceless as it is awkward.
Dancing? There's no dancing in all-star games!
Apparently no fun or smiles are allowed either:

Some interesting quotes from around the league this year:
Kobe: "Derrick Rose and Chris paul are the only players in the league that have the same type of focus as me."
Larry Bird: "If you want to win play with Kobe. If you want to have fun, play with LeBron."

Certainly seems that Chicago and Miami are a different breed of teams.
Just like Rose and LeBron are different types of super stars.
Can't wait till they match up again.

Do the right thing
This might be Steve Nash's last all-star game. He is one of the greats and the ultimate professional (although he used to dance at the all-star game as well). This is evidenced by the fact that he will not demand a trade from the Phoenix Suns despite them having a losing record and him having a limited time to win a championship. Shouldn't the Suns (ala what the timberwolves did for Garnnett) trade him to a contender?

It just makes sense. I'm not sure if the Heat or Bulls are options. How about the Thunder, as backup that finishes the game and pushes Westbrook to the two? Or how about the Lakers? Aren't they in desperate need of someone with Nash's talents? How much better would he make that team? How well would he run a pick and roll with Kobe, Gasol, and Bynum?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Slam Dunk Contest

In the wake of Iman Shumpert, and therefore Jeremy Lin, having to pull out of Saturday's Sprite Slam Dunk Contest - there is little left to be desired in this year's event. Derrick Williams seems to be the only legitimate contestant and should be the favorite coming in. Dare I say that the Taco Bell Skills competition looks to be more entertaining? By the way, any chance they can get Jeremy Lin into that?

I've said it before, if the NBA was serious about the dunk competition, they would demand that LeBron James, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, and Russell Westbrook face off. And just for good measure, the winner would then have a sudden death dunk off with Vince Carter (who can probably still put his thing down). What do we have to do to get this to happen? Do we have to talk some sense into LeBron and them?

Well, apparently the Clippers and Nuggets are as equally disappointed as I am, and therefore decided to hold an impromptu dunk competition last night at the Staples center. Of course in one corner, we had the reigning slam dunk champ himself, Blake Griffin. But in the other, as a challenger, we had obscure Nuggets rookie Jordan Hamilton.

Hamilton took the fight to Griffin early and looked to put pressure on the champ:

Not bad, not bad.
Nice usage of Reggie Evans as a prop.
All in all - "a little bit impressive."

So, how did Griffin respond?
Like a champ:


Lets take a look a the dunk check list.
Use of teammates: Chris Paul for the set up and DeAndre Jordan as an obstacle - Double Check.
Adequate distance from rim on take off: Dotted line - Check
Use of props: a recently vindicated Timofey Mozgov swiping at the ball, a helpless Andre Miller looking up in awe, and rookie Kenneth Faried's back as a mid-air seat cushion - Triple Check. 
Degree of difficulty: Switching from two hands to one hand several times in the air, finishing the dunk with the body almost in vertical position - Double check.
Finish/swag: Briefly sliding on the floor, then getting up and sprinting back on defense like he does this sort of thing on the regular - Check.

Do we even have to ask who the winner is?
You have to give Hamilton credit for having the gall to challenge Griffin on his home turf and serve up an odiferous facial slam. But the fact of the matter is, Blake's dunk was bigger, stronger, and nastier.

Come to think of it, this dunk off is a microcosm of what currently ails the Slam Dunk Competition. Yes, up and coming rookies and sophomores are eager participants that provide a certain level of cute entertainment. But it pales in comparison to the star power that the big boys have. They know how to turn the ordinary into flights of fantasy. They have the penash and it-factor to make us distort our faces in disbelief.

Here's hoping the NBA get's back on track.
If not, we still Have Blake Griffin during the regular season and playoffs.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Create a Caption - Round 3

Of course by now you know that the Jeremy Lin led Knicks beat the Dallas Mavericks 104-97 yesterday at the Garden.

But did you know that Mark Zuckerberg was in attendance?

Safe to say Linsanity has reached a critical mass when Facebook founder (and fellow Harvard guy)  wants in on the action. Although, from the picture below it seems as if he may have developed an infatuation with another Knicks player. Or perhaps he just had a lot to think about after the Knicks thrilling victory over the defending champs.

Let's call this Lin-stant access.
Mark Zuckerberg, What's on your mind?

1) How did Iman Shumpert make it into the Slam Dunk contest? Oh wait, Lin will be throwing him an alley oop!
2) I wonder if Jeremy Lin will accept my friend request.
3) Hmmm. What if I changed it to Lin-book?  
4) This Linsanity is crazy - maybe I should have stayed in school.
5) I was Time person of the year. I don't see Spike Lee wearing my Harvard attire to the game.
6) Can I get Jeremy Lin to play me in the Social Network sequel?

1) Huh, so that's what a point guard looks like.
2) Huh, so that's what a Harvard dropout looks like.
3) Hmmm. Jeremy Lin - Harvard Grad, $700 K a year in the NBA. Mark Zuckerberg - Harvard dropout, net worth over $20 billion. So that's what they mean by fuzzy math!

But wait, there's more!
Here in create a caption round three/Lin-stant access, we actually get to hear Mark Zuckerberg's thoughts on the game! Here they are:

Wow! I've never been to Madison Square Garden before - this is Lin-credible! I didn't even know New York had a basketball team until 9 games ago.
28 points, 14 assists, and 5 steals for Jeremy Lin! Not to mention that dunk!
Who cares that he had 7 turnovers and has in a landslide set the record for most turnovers in NBA history for the first 8 starts of a career? It just goes to show you, everybody loves a winner.
Besides, I may not know much about basketball, but it seems obvious to me that Lin is spent - he did play 45 minutes today you know. Imagine when that guy Baron Davis returns. Do you think the Knicks second unit will even miss a beat? That will surely cut down the TOs.
Speaking of new guys, that JR Smith really made an impression. Nice hair, tons of energy. Kind of amazing how in his first game, without even attending a practice, he was able to replace Landry Fields  in crunch time and take more shots that A'mare Stoudemire. Ah, but who cares about Fields, he's a Standford guy. Besides, seems like Smith knows what's up - college is so overrated.
But I do feel bad for A'mare, look at how underutilized he his. It seems to me the Knicks would be the beneficiary of throwing him into more pick and roll situations with Jeremy Lin. Think about Dirk Nowitzki having to either switch out onto Lin, or sprint back to A'mare as he catches the ball in an isolation. But what do I know? 
The bottom line is, this is Lin's team now. So what if A'mare first provided the capital for getting the Knicks off the ground and back towards respectability? He could never take the Knicks to the heights that Lin has. And who cares if Lin stole Carmelo's idea of coming to New York and playing savior? Wait a minute, why does this drama sound a little familiar? 
Speaking of familiar, am I in any way related to Steve Novak? Now that guy has swag. 14 points in the 4th quarter? Did he even play before this year???
I wonder if Jason Terry will get a tattoo of Jeremy Lin on his biceps. I wonder if Mark Cuban dreams of having as much money as me. Lamar Odom is on Dallas? I wonder if a Kardashian here? Oh, but Eva Longoria is here. I wonder why she has a better seat than me? Speaking of better, I wonder how Nowitzki is better than everyone else with only one leg?
I really should update my facebook profile with all of these thoughts - let me go online.
What's this? NBA update: Kevin Durant drops 51? Russell Westbrook drops 40 with 9 assists? Serge Ibaka has a triple double with 11 blocks?
 Who cares!!!
 The Knicks are .500! They just beat the defending champs! They have Jeremy "OMG"  Lin! Everything else is Lin-consequential! 
LMAO! No really, I just saw LMAO.

There you have it folks.
Shot out to Mark Zuckerberg for providing his thoughts to True Hoops NY!
(Note, I didn't actually speak with Zuckerberg - but I thank him anyway).

Now, you know the drill, same rules as round 1 and round 2.
Except this time, the person who provides the best caption for the picture above wins a Jeremy Lin T-shirt! What could be better than that?!?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Legend continues......

Just when you thought there wasn't anything else Jeremy Lin could do to impress you:

What more can this man do???

Okay, maybe cut down on his turnovers and display a little better shot selection (He had 8 turnovers and shot 9-20 for the game). There were two two straight possessions late in the 4th where he threw an errant pass to A'mare and then forced up a contested shot in the lane. But then again, he finished the game on a 6-0, hitting an a lay-up plus the foul to tie the game with a minute to go, then hitting the three above to seal the deal. Lin finished with 27 points and 11 assists to lead New York to their 6th straight victory.

It truly is amazing how Lin has transformed the franchise. It used to be, the Knicks always found a way to lose (and this goes back a long time). Now with two straight come from behind wins on the road, the Knicks are actually finding ways to win. You almost feel as if they will find a way to win now. Think about the steal and dunk that Imam Shumpert got off Jose Calderon with less than two minutes to go that cut the deficit to three. Think about the tip-out on a Knicks missed shot that Tyson Chandler got at the end of the game to give the Knicks the final possession and set-up Lin's winning shot.

Those are winning plays that the Knicks weren't making a little over a week ago.
Now they are.

And look at the gall on this kid. Peep how with 13 seconds to go in the game, Lin waives off Tyson Chandler (and the pick-and-roll) so he can have the iso on Calderon.
How much swag does it take to do that?

The only question I have to ask is......what's next???

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I think New York needs a moment like this.

You got to be Lin-it to win it.
And with Jeremy Lin running the show for the Knicks, they just keep...... Lin-ning.

I coud have guessed that Lin was gonna do well against the Lakers, who don't really have an elite point guard and were playing their second game in two nights. But 38 points to go along with 7 assists and 4 rebounds to out play Kobe Bryant......on national television? At this point this is just surreal. Easy for me to say that I haven't heard the Garden rocking like this in a while. Sheesh, even after the Giants just won the Super Bowl, I haven't heard the city abuzz like this in a while.

And you better believe that I was amongst the crowd last night at the Garden chanting:

It's not that Lin has emerged from absolutely no where to become a serviceable player for New York. No, he went from the D-league to become the best player on the Knicks and almost single handedly has turned around the franchise in leading them to 4 consecutive wins. And this is all in a little over a week!
In those 4 games Lin is averaging 28.5 points, 8 assists, and 4 rebounds a game.
It's almost expected for him to put in work now and lead the team.
There is certainly something special happening.

As Tyson Chandler said, "I've never seen anything like this. Not a guy who was the 12th man sitting on the end of the bench doing what he's doing."

How is this possible?

After last night's game, Kobe Bryant said: "It's testament to perseverance and hard work. A good example for kids everywhere."
And D'Antoni chimed in: "I would like to think it would all work out, a guy who's true to his profession and works hard that eventually he'll get a chance.""He's made the most of his situation and we're going to try and make the most of him being able to play."

To sum it up and segue a bit from my last piece on Steve Nash, here is what Nash wrote on Twitter the other day: "If you love sports you have to love what Jeremy Lin is doing. Getting an opportunity and exploding!!!"

Almost as amazing is how this run by Lin and the Knicks has transformed the way people are looking at D'Antoni and his job security. I heard a guy on the Knicks radio bring up a great point.
About D'Antoni's system, he said:
"Look at what Steve Nash did. Look at what Chris Duhon did when he first got to the Knicks (He set the Knicks record for assists in a game with 22). And at this time last year, everyone was saying Raymon Felton should be an all-star. Now look at Jeremy Lin."

I always felt that after the Carmelo trade, D'Antoni didn't seem to really adjust his system to cater to the specific strengths of his players. But what if it's his players that should switch up their games to cater to his offensive schemes?  They definitely seem to induce offensive potency and instill ball movement that keeps everyone involved. There is no question now, that his system is dependent on a skilled and smart point guard. But there is also no doubt that his style of coaching makes point guards better. And I can't emphasize enough, it is really amazing (and somewhat gratifying) to see what playing fundamental pick and role basketball can do. It is a simple play that provides so many offensive options.

But don't take my word for it, after last night's win against the Lakers, Jeremy Lin himself said: "Coach D'Antoni is an offensive genius."
There is probably a reason he is an assistant coach for team USA.

I should say, Jeremy Lin doesn't have too many one-on-one skills.
But who cares? Since when has that become the defining factor for being a good basketball player? Or running good offense? It's probably better (certainly for this team) that his style of play is more team oriented.
EVERY TIME he comes off a Tyson Chandler or Jared Jeffries (and soon to be A'mare Stoudemire) screen at the top of the key, he either:
1) has a wide open mid-range jump-shot
2) gets into the lane
3) has the screener rolling to the basket for a lob or bounce pass
4) has an open shooter in the strong side wing/corner (after the defense helps)
5) has an open shooter in the weak side wing/corner open (which can be hit by a skip pass or ball reversal)

Let me reiterate. He has one of these options EVERY TIME.
Is it any wonder that the Knicks offense has picked up? Is it any wonder that there is more ball movement and that everyone on the team is more involved? Think about how much easier it is for player not involved in the pick and roll to get open shots or make plays by making the extra pass or attacking the basket as the help defense tries to recover.

Most important for the Knicks offense is that Lin is smart with the ball (Harvard). He sees the floor well and is a willing passer. But it also important to note, as did Tyson Chandler did, that "he is skilled."
Ask Derek Fisher:

Lin is fairly quick and aggressive going to the basket to put pressure on the defense. It is almost surprising how tough and extremely adept at finishing in the paint he is. I mean really, it was amazing seeing him loft shots above Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol last night - many of them while getting fouled (he took 13 free throws).

When getting into the lane, Lin is also developing a bit of a go to move. He likes to drive to his right going to the basket and then turn his body away from the rim to protect the ball from the bigs as he take a reverse lay-up from the left side. Check it out:

Of course, being only 23 and 4 games into playing significant minutes in the NBA, Lin still has some things to work on. As a Laker fan pointed out during the game last night, Lin doesn't seem to have much of a left hand and always wants to go back to his right. He made a good point. But at the same time, the pick and roll offense is set up so that even if the bigs jump out and hedge on the screen to prevent Lin from turning the corner going right, he still has 3 out of the 5 options listed above and can even split the defense. And even if the on-ball defender overplays Lin to his left, in attempt to prevent Lin from using the screen, he can blow by them going left as he did against John Wall the other night. 

But really the most important and amazing thing about Jeremy Lin thus far has been his ability to transform the energy and attitude of the team.
After the game Jared Jeffries said: "You see how hard and unselfish he is playing and you'd have to be a fool not to follow him and play the same way."
Jeffries finished the game with 11 points and 9 rebounds. No wonder he's so excited and supportive:

And it's everyone on the team.
Steve Novak scored 19 points twice in the last four games.
Imam Shumpert had 9 points in the 4th quarter last night.
Tyson Chandler is averaging 15 and 10 in the last 4 games.

Jeremy Lin has managed to Lin-fect his team and all of New York with his play.
Dare I say we have an Lin-satible appetite for it now?
Nothing less will suffice.

And if someone who was un-drafted, in the D-league a couple of weeks ago, sitting at the end of the bench, living on his brother's couch, and didn't have his contract guaranteed till last night can go out and play this way, why can't we all do the same?

Jeremy Lin is leading New York.
I'm all-Lin.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Point Made

Passion. Sacrifice. And a willingness to continue to learn.

Aren't those words a perfect description of what constitutes greatness?
Therefore, would you really be surprised to know that those were the words Steve Nash chose when describing what longevity and success in the NBA comes down to?

I think Nash knows a thing or two about longevity of success.
Even after just turning 38 years old (Happy birthday Steve!), Nash is without a doubt still one of the best point guards in the league. He currently leads the league in assists at 10 a game and is shooting 55% from the field!

Of course, when you've been great for over a decade, it starts to add up.
Last Wednesday in New Orleans, Nash became the all time leader in assists for the Phoenix Suns. By chance, I was lucky enough to be at the game to witness it. Nash's greatness was on full display, as he finished with 30 points on 13-16 shooting with 10 assists (1 turnover).

This performance really highlighted another aspect to Nash's game.
Beyond being one of the best point guards of all time (he is currently 6th all-time in career assists), Nash is also one of the best shooters of all time. How's this for a stat:
Steve Nash is the only player in NBA history to shoot at least 90% from the line, 50% from the field, and 40% from three for an entire season more than 2 times in his career. He has done it 4 times, and is on pace to make it 5 after this season (Larry Bird is the only other player to do it more than once).

All of these accomplishments make Steve Nash an ideal player to try to emulate for students of the game - of all ages. When I was training to tryout for professional teams overseas, I tried to incorporate as much of Steve Nash's game into my workout routines as possible. As a high school coach, I can't tell you how many of his moves I use as intructional drills in practice.

I was fortunate enough to finally see a bit of his routine in person and get some footage.
Take a look:

Normally I would try to find something mechanistic to analyze.
But this time I won't because the real treat for me came after the game, when I got a chance to go into the Phoenix Suns locker room. There sitting in the back of the room was Nash on a training table with a bag of ice wrapped around his ankle.

Being a former player and currently a coach - I jumped at the chance to ask Nash some questions. Namely, what he attributes his longevity to,  how he evaluates coming off the screen and roll, how he determines when to shoot or pass, and what his practice routine for shooting is. Nash's whole interview session with other reporters is posted below. But to hear what was essentially a one-on-one interview between Dr. JRS and Steve Nash - skip to around the 5:40 mark. Take a listen:

You'll notice there were some moments of levity in there - including Dan Majerle joking in the background that I was asking Steve these questions "because he's white," to which I responded: "I'm gonna ask Derrick Rose these same questions" (which I did, but that's another story). But in all seriousness, let me just say that for me, asking Steve Nash about the screen and roll and how he assesses what the defense gives him would be equivalent to asking Picasso to discuss his methodology for painting. How invaluable are these words and how amazing was it that he answered so elaborately?
I think any aspiring point guard, should soak up the knowledge.

What were the important points?
1) Always put pressure on the defense
2) Try to get the best "real estate" possible
3) Keep your dribble alive
4) Be prepared to make the defense pay - shooting when they drop off, passing when they step up.

There is such a profoundness in simplicity.
And really, all this comes off of mastering a simple play: the screen and roll.
That night, I sat there during the game and just watched Nash get into the lane at will to pick apart the defense. Coming off that screen he always had options to make a play that put the team in a position to be successful. The key, as Nash said so himself, is being prepared to make a play.

So how do you prepare yourself to make the correct play?
Well to start, may I suggest passion, sacrifice, and a willingness to continue to learn. Then incorporate these elements into your training routine. From a technical standpoint - Nash said he sticks to his routine of making 100-150 shots a day. You can actually see a workout of his online.

But there are a couple of points brought up here beyond technique that are fascinating.
How about the notion of sticking with a routine, almost to a fault?
There was always something about the concept of staying true to something - no matter what - that appealed to me. Of being passionate enough about something, to be willing to sacrifice time and even health to see it through. To remain loyal to your ambitions and goals, even as you progress in age, and continue to put in the work despite all the inevitable distractions that come your way.

Greatness is a long term project.
Think about how much focus it takes.
If there was one thing that became apparent from watching and listening to Steve Nash, it was the unbelievable amount of focus he possesses. And make no mistake, that in itself is a skill.

Because of all the media and popularity associated with the NBA, many people might think that success is a social thing. Actually it's very solitude oriented. It demands diligence, perseverance, and belief - mostly when no one is looking. Or perhaps I should say, in spite of who's looking and asking questions (like me).

These sorts of things probably came in handy when Nash wasn't recruited out of high school. They also probably came in handy when he hardly played his first three years in the NBA.

But almost paradoxically, how about the notion of sticking to your routine and evolving it at the same time? Notice how he mentions having a routine for this stage of his career. And about learning more - specifically about body motion and injury prevention -  to stay ahead of the game? This is priceless. Here you have Steve Nash, with all his success and accomplishments, still having the humility and desire to learn more in all aspects of the game. It's a continual process of adjusting and fine tuning yourself. Of constant self assessment while also taking in your surroundings and watching others to add new layers to your craft. Understanding this is essential in order to adapt to changes in your game, body, and competition. Ultimately, this process is essential for survival and prosperity as a professional.

Many of these concepts were highlighted by Nash in his Nike "Training Day"commercial. The best part about Nash is that he is humble enough to incorporate elements from diverse sources and people, even to improve the most minutia aspects of his game. I mean, the dude plays pick up ball in chinatown and soccer in Chelsea!

Of course, all of these things - dedication, passion, sacrifice, humility, willingness to learn - are what makes Steve Nash a  special player and person. But ironically, by exuding these characteristics for self-improvement, it enables Nash's greatest attribute - his ability to serve as a facilitator and make everyone else around him better. Think about it. How can all of his qualities not rub off on his teammates or even those just watching him play (like me)? By being the best he can be, he can change those around him.
It truly is a special quality and skill.

I can go on and on for hours. But let me finish.
Steve Nash is without a doubt one of the best point guards of all time.
He is after all a once in a generation player.
But it's not by accident.
Think about all his attributes that enable him to maximize his ability, skills, and potential.
Then think about how his passion, sacrifice, and humility positively transforms everyone around him.
It then becomes clear that Steve Nash is a once in a generation person.