Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Know Yourself

June 19th, 2019 Articles
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In Ancient Greece, the philosopher Plato declared that “the unexamined life was not worth living” and was put to death for corrupting the minds of the local youth. His plays had featured a wise character named Socrates who when asked to sum up ancient philosophical knowledge replied with the now famous quote: ‘Know yourself.’

Then and now there remains extraordinary power in knowing yourself and many feel that this is literally the meaning of life.

Plato’s encouragement for reflection and self-knowledge was judged so great a danger to society and he was executed. What were the elder Greek leaders thinking? Most likely they were protecting themselves, as we now know that real danger comes with a lack of self-knowledge.

When we speak about self-knowledge, we’re alluding to a particular kind of knowledge, generally of the emotional or psychological kind. For this exercise we’d like to focus on the areas of self-knowledge that matter most in life, the areas concerned with the inner psychological core of the self.

 

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We The North

June 14th, 2019 Articles
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The battle for the NBA Championship for the 2019 has ended with first time winner the Toronto Raptors defeating the Golden State Warriors.
 
After each game I hacked together a wallpaper all based on the “We the North” theme and the games action.

 
 

Game 1

The emergence of young Sir Spicy P. was celebrated with a convincing Raptor win in the first game of the Series.
The Raptors “trash” the Warriors.
 

Toronto win, series is 1-0
Raptors 118 Warriors 100

 
 

 
 

Game 2

Cousins and the Splash Bothers show their All Star class with a hard nosed play worthy of a champion.
 
 

GS win, series tied 1-1
Raptors 104 Warriors 109

 

 
 

Game 3

The strong showing by the Claw Clan as they exploit a depleted Warrior team. Curry scores 43 points.
 
 

Toronto win, lead series 2-1
Raptors 123 Warriors 109

 

 
 

Game 4

The Raptors take on the Warriors at the Bridge in Golden State and emerge the victor. Kawhi leads the charge.
 
 

Toronto win, lead series 3-1
Raptors 105 Warriors 92

 
 

 
 

Game 5

The glory of Champions featuring the Golden Company of Curry, Green, Thompson, Boogie and Durant shine in victorious battle. House Tarantula leaves the field due to injury.
 

GS win, series 3-2
Raptors 105 Warriors 106

 

 
 

Game 6

The North is victorious and the reign of the tyrant is ended. Long live the new King!
 
 

Toronto wins series 4-2
Raptors 114 Warriors 110

 

 
 

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Prognosis Negative

June 12th, 2019 Articles
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The story of an Achilles injury generally starts the same…. “I heard a a popping noise” and “I was tackled, hit, pushed, kicked etc. from behind”. In reality it’s most likely a sharp turn, small bump or an awkward step.

HERE COMES THE SLOW MOTION PLAY BY PLAY. So if you’re one of those “I don’t want to see it!” people who refuse and hate to watch the slow motion injury replays, skip the next paragraph.

Initially comes surprise, even a bit of anger as to what has happened. “Who hit me!” might go through your head. No real pain in that moment, just confusion and frustration. But then comes the pain! Sharp and clear as it shoots up your leg and as as you fall to the floor. This is replaced quickly with the painful spasms of the calf muscle as you twist and worm about on the ground. You might even scream out and swear repeatedly. If you’re lucky, someone massages your calf and the pain quickly subsides. With the pain gone, you’ll realize that something is definitely wrong. Something is broken. It doesn’t hurt, though it’s a strange sensation to have absolutely no control of your foot. It’s like a big lump of useless flesh on end of your leg. An Achilles Tendon Rupture.

Is this the end of your sports career? At the time of this original article the outlook for Kobe Bryant was “Prognosis Negative”, but science and history combined and he returned to the floor in little over 8 months time. Was he the same? Well not really, but it’s hard to say when an athlete reaches the twilight of such a long and successful career. Kobe was certainly able to elevate his game from time to time, but he wasn’t the force he was prior to the injury in 2013. How does this look for Kevin Durant in 2019? The reality is that the Achilles injury remains one of the most feared injuries for a basketball player.

The Achilles tendon is like a thick rubber band that connects the calf muscles to the heel bones. It’s the thickest and strongest tendon in the human body. Like many injuries it is subject to the class or grading system where a first-degree is less severe than a second-degree, and a third-degree sprain is actually a complete rupture or break. For example, “The Black Mamba” Kobe Bryant has most likely experienced a high second-degree sprain. This is indicated by his ability to walk and shoot the free throws after his injury. He has some control of his foot, so the tendon is still attached. It’s not uncommon for athletes over 30 to experience an first-degree sprain, and the acute pain in the area is the bodies early warning system for this affliction. Typically this injury escalates into a second-degree Achilles Tendon Sprain and then without proper care and attention, the rubber band is snapped in two and we have an Achilles Tendon Rupture.


 

Coincidentally a paper was recently published on Achilles injuries in NBA players by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in Chicago which examined just how devastating an Achilles Tendon Rupture has been on the performance of NBA players. Specifically, they examined the before and after statistics of 18 NBA players who’d sustained ruptured Achilles tendons between 1992 and 2012. Of those players, eight (Elton Brand, Dominique Wilkins, Gerald Wilkins, Laphonso Ellis, Christian Laettner, Stanley Roberts, Maurice Taylor, Dan Dickau) returned to the league for multiple seasons. Seven players never returned to play in the NBA (Isiah Thomas, Jamie Feick, Perry Davis, Don Reid, Emanual Davis, Jerome James and Laron Profit, and three players did come back, but for only one season (Voshon Lenard, Desagana Diop and Mehmet Okur). The paper concluded what we knew all along…“NBA players who returned to play after repair of complete Achilles tendon rupture showed a significant decrease in playing time and performance.” They go on to point out that “A total of 38.9% of players never returned to play”.

Using something called a Player Efficiency Rating or PER, (a formula developed by NBA journalist John Hollinger of ESPN) they compared the before and after statistics of each player. In John’s own words, “The PER sums up all a player’s positive accomplishments, subtracts the negative accomplishments, and returns a per-minute rating of a player’s performance.” Basically it’s a fancy formula that manages to put a rating on each player, and put all our favorite players in some sort of hierarchical order. LeBron, Durant, Paul and all the others are all conveniently ranked in this metric, but there are also some weird anomalies with players that only play a few games. For those eleven players that returned, the study showed an average Player Efficiency Rating drop off of 4.64 in the first year back and 4.28 in the second. In the Hollinger system a drop off of over 4 PER points is big. So big it’s been the difference between playing in the NBA and playing in Europe or not at all. It’s the difference between a guy who creates and scores and a guy who get’s scored on… and it’s always about buckets. For the record, Kobe Bryant was consistently in the Top 10 for PER scores with scores typically in the 20′s. He never appeared again in the Top 10 after his injury with PER scores no higher than 17.6.

Dominique “The Human Highlight Film” Wilkins is the one big exception. Wilkins suffered his injury in the 1991-1992 season and then at the age of 32 came back to average 30 points once again in the following season. His remarkable comeback started tentatively. “I didn’t feel like I could jump the same way once I returned. I felt like if I jumped too hard or pushed too hard off my ankle, that it would pop again.” he said reflectively after the injury. His next quote, and it’s a long one, is pure recovery gold. “That was all mental. Once I got through that part, I told myself, You know what? If this thing is going to pop, it’s going to pop. But I’m going to play hard. I’m going to go off of it hard. I felt funny mentally. But physically, it was repaired better than ever. In fact, it was three times stronger than my other Achilles.” Wilkins would go on to make two more NBA All-Star teams, play on the gold metal winning “Dream Team 2″, and even win a Euroleague title along and accompanying MVP award with Panathinaikos in 1996. A fantastic career for a player who “Highlighted” the Jordan era of basketball.

The optimistic “prognosis”, and I have to think of “Prognosis Negative” from the now classic Seinfeld TV series…

…is that an athlete can come back, but is never the same. Hell, the second best recovery story for an Achilles tendon rupture is Elton Brand, and that’s nothing to cheer about. Chauncey Billups has returned from his injury with diminished skills and backup center and dedicated baller, Zaza Pachulia plugged away after his injury with very little statistical drop off. Those that do return are forced to change their body mechanics and timing as a result of this injury. This often results in a big drop off in shooting percentage with Kobe Bryant both taking fewer shots AND making less of them. The issue is with quick, explosive and dynamic movements and this supports the Kobe and Zaza results. The injury also opens the door for further injuries as body balance adjustments put subtle new stresses all over the body. This further affects speed, explosiveness and lift and results in a new dynamic that forever changes an athletes game.

What I can offer, is some advise from someone who have battled this injury for 20 plus years. First, if you experience pain in this area, take it seriously. Do the RICE program. Recovery from an Achilles Tendon Rupture is very, very difficult (see above) and injury prevention can easily be inserted into your regular workouts. For those of you that are experiencing a 1st degree tendon sprain, further activity will cause micro-trauma within the tendon and eventually weakening the tissue further. You’re heading toward a 2nd degree, and eventually a rupture if you’re not careful! The tendon encounters extreme forces during jumping, sprinting and decelerating, so there are many opportunities for an injury to occur…. stay away from these activities! After a good rest and some massage therapy, get some professional advise and do the work in the gym.

If you’re an experienced or advanced Achilles injury survivor here are a few suggestions to help you through this affliction.

1. Heel Lifts Basically rubber heel cups that fit in your shoes.  These allow you to continue to play with a minor work adjustment to the elevation of your heel.

2. Tendon taping Tape is applied to the injured area to limit motion in a way that promotes healing. This approach is certainly effective, but has drawbacks. First of all, you’ll need to start shaving the region before the tape is applied, and second it’s tedious and time-consuming. Not really an option for the weekend warrior.

So there you go, a long story about a crippling injury with a limited upside. Nice!

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What is “Monkey Balls”?

April 14th, 2018 Articles
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If you say that’s “Monkey Balls!” I’m surprised how many people understand what I mean with the term. It’s said generally after something a bit crazy, a bit random but always, always ugly. People seem to get this somewhat intuitively. It’s certainly a humerus term and I find this a great addition to my vocabulary to describe basketball plays.

I’ll shout this out after a crazy sequence of events and typically after a series of back and forth turnovers by both teams.

The basic idea. It’s not pretty basketball.

And here’s what you’re most likely interested in. Some basketball examples.

 

 


 

Here’s another picture to give you the basic concept. Look away now!

 
 

 

 
Ah you missed the warning, well if this story gives you a chuckle don’t forget to give me some love and “Like” this page.
 

Last Game of the Season

January 3rd, 2018 Articles
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What would your team look like if you said your end of the season good-byes… today?

You may have never thought about this but I promise you this idea will greatly enrich your team’s season now and in the future.

Let me explain.
If you’ve been through a few basketball seasons you will understand it when I say.

“The season is long when it is, and short when it’s over.”

When I look back on seasons gone by 5 or 20 years ago, it’s the feelings of that season or team that you remember. An ancient team photo will bring back memories of situations and the past is quickly replayed in your mind, but these memories are deeply flavoured by the feelings of that season. Some old video footage might be available and you may have been the hero or the zero who made the critical mistake…this doesn’t matter. In the end the honestly of the season is captured by the feelings between you and your team.

Inevitably it’s only after the final game of the season a team open up with each other and expresses their feelings to the group and with each other… have you noticed that?

Players tightly hug each other and say deep good-byes….they warmly embrace teammates they would normally have very little interaction with. Then come the text and group chat messages with heartfelt messages. You see phrases like; “I’m going to miss playing with you,” “you are one of the best teammates I’ve ever had,” “you had such an impact on me and my game,” “I appreciate all you’ve done for me” and even the classic… “I love you man”.

In many cases, this is the first time they’ve had a teammate share this type of sentiment or emotion with each other. Many times they’re even surprised to learn their teammate felt that way about them. Regardless of the “surprise” it’s generally welcomed and their relationship potentially moves one step further. But somehow the honest and unforced connection that was available during the season has been lost. This spurt of relationship growth is poorly timed; the season is over.

This unique moment in the basketball season is also experienced by coaches. As a coach who tries to develop players, I rely on a heavy dose of faith throughout the season. I’m not referring to some heavenly faith or some entity in the sky, but the faith that what we’re passing on is actually reaching the players… making an impact. “It just takes time” I often say to myself in encouragement. Sport development is hard to quantify and since it’s cumulative in nature and can move back and forth in waves there are moments when you ask yourself… are we progressing? Am I an effective coach? So many internal questions that go unanswered.

But then at the the end of the season during those good-byes I’m approached by players and overwhelmed with appreciation and sometimes praise. Don’t get me wrong, this is appreciated… but it’s late to the party.

“Coach, thank you for all you did for us this year.”
“Coach, you really made a big impact on my life, I want you to know that.”
“Coach, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed your practices, I absolutely grew-up through the season.”

I think to myself, “Really? You felt yourself growing? That’s awesome because there were moments through the season I really wasn’t sure.

The reality is, if that player knew how much those words meant to me if they were shared with me in-season, I am convinced they would’ve seen an even better version of me. We would have trusted, connected and worked better together.

The same goes for teammates. Sharing these honest and transparent feelings with teammates at the end of the season is great but doing it during and throughout the season is better. It’s deeper and it reaches deeper meaning. If these words through the season can take you all to another level… imagine what the end of the season goodbyes will look like then.

When you pour more into each other through the process, you both will get more out of the process.

If you have a teammate who’s having a positive impact on you, tell them today.

I encourage you…

If you have a teammate you’re enjoying playing alongside or a teammate who’s having a positive impact on you, tell them today.

If a coach is having a major impact on you, tell them thank you today.
If a player is a joy to coach, share that with them today.
If a player is growing into the person and player you’ve hoped they would, make a point to tell them that today.

Don’t save one of your biggest team growth moments until the end of the season; implement your end of the season good-byes today!