Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The dumbing of our athletes

This post addresses a couple of comments made by regular reader Dan Jardine of Cinemania fame. I could just e-mail him, but let's pretend there's more than one regular reader. Humour me.

1. Dan asks, "If you were starting a team up from scratch and both Kobe and Lebron were 18 years old, who would you draft and why?"

No offense to Dan, but this is one of these ridiculous questions sports geeks love to throw around. They're both outstanding players. What difference does it make who's minusculely better? If I were a GM picking second in this scenario, I'd be ecstatic. How could you go wrong? You couldn't, that's how.

I was in such a situation not too long ago. As the general manager of the West End Girls of the National Fast Break Association, I sucked so bad one year (okay, for several years) that I got to pick first overall the year LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were eligible. My choice was between LeBron and Carmelo. Whenever given the choice between cornrows and no cornrows, I almost always choose no cornrows. I chose LeBron.

But between LeBron and Kobe Byrant? I dunno. What's the point in trying to say one is better than the other? So for me, it would come down to personal preference, like with the cornrows. Who has fewer tattoos? (Kobe) Who has fewer run-ins with the law? (LeBron) Who is more worldly and well-read? (Kobe) Who's funnier? (Uh...) So I'd flip a coin and be happy with whoever I got. I like them both as players. I like them both as people, as far as I can tell. Which brings us to the next comment.

2. Dan asked, "Guy, you've had close encounters with all sortsa athletes. Are they (as a group--I know there are exceptions like Nash) as dumb as they sound, or have they simply knuckled under to their 'handlers' and become the well-trained speak-but-say-nothing-substantive media whores that their bosses, agents and sponsors demand?"

Now we're talking. This is a legitimate query. My hunch is that they're no smarter or dumber than any other random segment of the population. But it's just a hunch. Sure, I've talked to plenty of athletes, but it's usually about sports. What can you learn about someone if all you're doing is asking them specific questions about a game they just played? I suppose you might get a sense of how they put their thoughts into words, and that would give you an indication of their relative intelligence. But if you heard me stammer and sputter, you'd have no way of guessing that I'm the proud owner of a Bacherlor of Arts degree obtained in only six years. So you never know. Sports talk is the great equalizer.

I remember getting into a political discussion with Greg Anthony when he was with the Grizzlies once. He loved a good argument, which I always take as a sign of smarts. Then again, he was an unabashed Republican so who knows?

The truth is that sports reporters ask such mundane questions, and the same ones rephrased over and over again, that the athlete has no chance to sound intelligent. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a very intelligent man, was also very tight-lipped when it came to answering dumb questions by dumber sports journalists. The first guy I ever had to interview on a regular basis was Canadian coaching legend Ken Shields, who went to the Abdul-Jabbar school of answering questions. Shields forced me to come up with more insightful questions. Because if I didn't, I was going to get a lot of one-word answers. And that's awkward.

But this question got me to look back at a year of quotes I compiled. The year was 1996. A selection of them ran in a season-ending column in Sports Vue. The season being the Grizzlies. The quotes come mostly from that Grizz, but there are others from around the NBA. Looking over them now, it's interesting to see a few from former all-star Jayson Williams, who's in the news these days as prosecutors are trying to send him to jail for covering up a fatal shooting at his mansion in 2002. Williams, in his heyday, was known as the funniest guy in the NBA. I don't think he's laughing too much these days.

Another quote jumps out at me. Shawn Kemp mentions his free throw shooting in the "new" Key Arena. New?! In 1996? This is the arena that ten years later was all of a sudden old and decrepit, eventually forcing the Sonics out of Seattle. I don't buy it. I went to games in Seattle right up to their last season and their arena was great. It was their team that was decrepit (although they were head and shoulders above our beloved Grizz).

Most of these quotes were from direct questions I asked. Since I wasn't a beat reporter, I didn't work on deadline and could wait for the daily beat guys to ask their tedious questions then get in there to speak to players on my own. But some of them are from the scrum and were included (I'm guessing, anyway, 13 years later) to help illustrate what happened that year.

You'll notice that there are some bright guys in the NBA. And some less so. Just like life.
The Sports Guy – May 2-8, 1996

The real NBA season is just beginning. But for us north of the 49th, it’s all over. Here’s a look at my quotes of the year in the NBA.

“People are just friendly. If my car broke down I wouldn’t hesitate flagging somebody down. But if I’m in New York? And my car breaks down? You better call Triple A, or call home and let your family come get you. Nobody’s stopping. That’s the city. They say, ‘Shit, we got somewhere to go. We got places to be. You’re just stuck, buddy. It’s your tough luck.’ That’s about it. Everybody’s in a rush. Everybody’s trying to make a dollar.”
Anthony Avent comparing Vancouverites to New Yorkers

“Basketball is not a complicated thing. But you can make it complicated when you think too much.”
Blue Edwards

“How are the Thundercats doing?”
Blue Edwards trying to take an interest in the UBC Thunderbirds

“You should have told me. I would have been throwing behind-the-back passes, everything, to try and get one.”
Blue Edwards after his first career triple double, when told he was sitting on nine assists for the longest time

“Obviously it’s disappointing but when I hit my hotel room, I forget about it and start concentrating on... who DO we play next?”
Greg Anthony dazed and confused after a 94-88 loss to Chicago

“No. I kind of like attention.”
Blue Edwards on whether he has an entourage to ward off any fans

“It’s just hanging around these guys for a whole week. ... I’m sick of being on the road. I just want to lay in my own bed, cook my nice, good meal and relax. That’ll solve everything.”
Robert Horry on being in such a foul mood with his Phoenix teammates

“I have no idea, but I’m not complaining.”
Lawrence Moten on why he thinks the fans have taken to him

“I have a chance to think about a lot of things so I know what I’m going to say if I’m asked a certain question. And you just happen to ask those questions. So I’ve already rehearsed what I’m going to say.”

Blue Edwards on why he’s so quotable

“I have a lot of respect for those guys, but I’m glad we kicked their ass, though.”
Blue Edwards on the Celtics

“I answered your question, man. Don’t try to put words in my mouth, all right? Any more questions, man? You can leave, please.”
The charming Scottie Pippen

“I wanna go see a game up there. I hear it’s the best place in the world to see a hockey game.”
Joe Dumars, preferring to talk Montreal Canadiens hockey than Detroit Pistons basketball

“Let’s have a Blue haircut day.”
The bald Blue Edwards sounding jealous that Big Country Reeves had his own haircut day

“Country has a body that’s gonna change every year. I think next year you’ll see him be even a little more slim and more muscular. I can see it changing over the next three years. Three years from now you probably won’t recognize Big Country Reeves just because of all the physical things he’ll have to go through.”
Grizzlies coach Brian Winters

“Sometimes. I still answer to it but it’s going to get to the point where I won’t. I ain’t ever going to change it officially. I gotta leave my name Bryant. My wife’s gotta have something to call me.”
Big Country Reeves on whether anybody still addresses him as Bryant

“It’s tough, but my mother always told me to keep my head up. Things happen for a reason.”
Lawrence Moten on how he’s handling sitting on the bench

“Oh no. I never use that word. I don’t think there’s such a word. I just think you miss shots or you make them.”
Byron Scott in the midst of a s-l-u-m-p

“I’ll take easy wins any day, I’ll tell you that.”
Byron Scott on whether he prefers the nailbiters or the blowouts he used to get with the Lakers

“He said something to me about next time he’s going to dunk it on me. I said, ‘Do what you gotta do. Whatever you do, you just bring it. You might do better than what you did, trying to just lay it up like that.’... I can’t remember when I’ve seen him dunk in a game, so it seems like that would be pretty hard for him to do anyway... And he won’t EVER dunk on me.”
Byron Scott discussing what was said in his face-to-face jawing with Gary Payton in Seattle

“They have to have an injury. Whatever it is, whether it’s a hangnail or whatever, it has to be an injury.”
Brian Winters discussing the laughable NBA policy of keeping players on injured reserved

“We hug each other all the time. But how many times have you seen pro basketball players chasing another guy off the court?”
Blue Edwards after his buzzer-beating jumper against Philadelphia and subsequent dash into the lockerroom

“I guess now it doesn’t seem so off-the-wall to me because I know I don’t know all the hockey rules.”
Blue Edwards on the questions he gets from neophyte basketball fans

“You worry about the people that you dive into more than anything. But I don’t think you can play this game walking on pins and needles.”
Karl Malone after going into the crowd and knocking over BCTV’s Michael Kennedy, separating his shoulder

“It’s a fast game shooting a slow shot.”
Gerald Wilkins after his third game back

“He said, ‘Are you sure you don’t get nervous?’ I said I get nervous but for $50,000, who cares?”
Rob Carlson after hitting a half-court shot to win 50 grand

“In training camp I had to sing in front of them twice. A slow song. I can’t even remember the name of it. But I had to tell jokes and I had to tote the bags on the road. I had to do all that.”
Antonio McDyess on life as a rookie

“They came out and kicked our ass the first quarter... Don’t say it like that. They kicked our butts the first quarter.”
Greg Anthony censoring himself after a 91-85 loss to Denver

“I like the weather. No snow.”
Blue Edwards

“Of course I prefer the rain! I don’t know what I’m gonna do with all that sun down there in L.A. All that sun and warm weather.”
Antonio Harvey after being released by the Grizzlies and picked up by the Los Angeles Clippers

“When I was with the Bucks, we kind of went at it. There was a lot of trash talking then. Just some players in the league you don’t get along with.”
Eric Murdoch on his history of run-ins with Bimbo Coles

“Sometimes I hate having breaks. If I could, I would play a game every other night. But I don’t make the schedule.”
Blue “Iron Man” Edwards

“If I had players that could run up and down and score a lot of points, I might run a lot more, too.”
Brian Winters on the slow-down style of the Bears

“I had a good rhythm going. Just the body and the stomach said, ‘That’s enough. Go sit back down.’”
A sick Byron Scott after scoring 19 points in only 23 minutes against Utah

“You can’t play worrying about being traded. If it happens, it happens. You just pack your shit up and move on.”
Blue Edwards on the possibility of being traded

“What am I gonna do? Write ‘em a letter and say, ‘Please don’t trade me!’?
Blue Edwards wanting to stay in Vancouver

“I’ve been doing this since I was six. And even though I’m not an old man, that’s a long time. I figure another six or seven years in the league and I’ll just kind of go on out to pasture. They won’t even know who I am.”
Greg Anthony

“I’d like to play the New York Knicks on the second night of a back-to-back after an overtime every time.”
Brian Winters after Grizzlies shock the Knicks 84-80

“I’d rather put on a wooden beak and go out and pluck shit with the chickens.”
Jayson Williams on the thought of playing for the Grizzlies

“If the trade does come, then I just fail the physical. And I go right back to where I’m going. I’m untradeable.”
Jayson Williams on what he’d do if he’s traded

“Today a peacock, tomorrow a feather duster.”
Jayson Williams on the ups and downs of his career

“I think everybody thought we would have a legitimate chance to win tonight, including myself, and sometimes when you get put in those positions, you almost get too ready to play and you come out and you’re tight. And I just thought we were tight as a drum.”
Brian Winters on a loss to Detroit, number 17 in a row during the first big losing streak

“In the long run, this will make everybody on this team better. I think any times you go through streaks like this as a player or a coach, I think it makes you a stronger individual.”
Byron Scott after a 93-84 loss to the Pistons

“It was just one of those games where you couldn’t kick it in the ocean.”
Brian Winters after the Detroit loss

“It was a monkey on your back and it kind of grew to a gorilla and it’s nice to have it off my back and everybody’s back.”
Brian Winters after ending the first streak with a 104-100 win versus Portland

“This is not a one-hit wonder. We’re not just trying to win one game every 19.”
Darrick Martin

“I was just glad we won. I couldn’t believe it. Nobody wanted to be part of the record. Now we can start a winning streak.”
Darrick Martin, dreaming a little dream

“We kind of fell off the emotional cliff tonight.”
Brian Winters after a 116-85 home loss to Golden State, one night after beating Portland

“We found our team chemistry. Now we’ve lost it again.”
Blue Edwards on the second losing streak

“I don’t worry about the record. If the record happens, it happens. A record is a record. It’s not that big of a deal to me.”
Brian Winters after Orlando loss, 13th in a row

“I don’t really think about the 20 losses that much. It’s frustrating as hell. Yeah, you’d like to win, but all you can do is go out and give your best. Unfortunately, the best hasn’t been good enough for us.”
Greg Anthony

“These are the dog days right now. And you have to be man enough to accept them and deal with them and understand that it’s not going to be like this forever.”
Greg Anthony

“I don’t let anything like this make me not want to play basketball.”
Byron Scott

“I will definitely remember all of these losses come next year. There’s gotta be payback.”
Eric Mobley

“Our goal for the second half is to go out and win at least as many games as we did the first half. I think that’s a reachable goal for us.”
Blue Edwards, said with a straight face

“Because we’ve had a lot of close losses, that’s motivated us to continue to work because we know that a win is just around the corner. Although we haven’t got to that corner yet.”
Blue Edwards in the midst of a 23-game losing streak

“When you have people looking to you to be a leader, you gotta lead.”
Blue Edwards

“I kicked their ass from a personal standpoint. We didn’t win, but I kicked their fuckin’ ass.”
Ex-Grizzlie Benoit Benjamin, continuing his personal rivalry with the Sonics

“I’ve had a difficult shooting year. But that’s not going to deter me from shooting a game-winning shot. In a situation like that I know that I’m going to do everything perfect. I guess it’s just an innate ability.”
Blue Edwards after hitting his third game-winning shot, this time against Sacramento

“Everybody that’s close to me knows that confidence is something that I’ve never lacked since I was three years old. I believe that I’ve been blessed with a lot of talent and I believe that at times I can do whatever I want.”
Darrick Martin

“You gotta be aggressive. You gotta shoot it. I mean, I went 0-for-9 tonight. I wish I had a chance to go 0-for-15.”
Blue Edwards after a 1-point performance in Seattle

“Maybe it’s the gym. I haven’t made a free throw since we’ve played in this gym. I mean, you can’t be perfect, man, and I realize that.”
Shawn Kemp on his troubles in the new Key Arena

“I don’t care how many shots I missed, I don’t care what my percentage is, when the game is on the line I’m gonna shoot it. And nine times out... No, 10 out of 10 I’m gonna make it.”
Blue Edwards

“Game is on the line, gimme the basketball. I have no fear whatsoever that I’m not gonna come through.”
Blue Edwards

“I’m gonna tell you something. No, I don’t. I’ve played a two-guard all my life.”
Gerald Wilkins when asked if he likes playing small forward

“X’s and O’s are fine but whoever has the shot should just go ahead and take it.”
Chris King on the tendency of the team to pass up good looks

“We got a lot of guys here who just don’t understand how to play the game. They got athletic ability, but they don’t understand how to play the game.”
Byron Scott, showing frustration after a 2-17 start

“No, I wasn’t happy sitting on the bench. Would you be happy sitting on the bench”
Ashraf Amaya after loss number 50, a 92-87 heartbreaker against Orlando

“I think this team is starting to take shortcuts. We can’t afford to do that.”
Blue Edwards after loss number 47, a 94-80 setback to Indiana

“For a situation like this you need more of an in-your-face type of guy, where when somebody’s not working hard, he’s gonna let him know about it. A lot of times that didn’t happen this year.”
Eric Murdoch assessing Brian Winters’ job

“If I knew Brian well enough, when he tried to sub me I would have waved him off.”
Blue Edwards after starting off a game red-hot then being taken out

“I think in college there’s not too many good players. Times change. Back then when I was playing, we had Ewing, we had Jordan, the first ten, twelve players were franchise players. But nowadays you get only the first two guys [who] may be franchise players.”
Mario Elie on why there’s no more need for ten rounds in the college draft

“Why I gotta tell ’em? I mean, look at the stat sheet. It’s simple. I’m shooting 90. It’s as simple as that. It don’t take a genius to figure it out.”
Byron Scott, the team’s best free throw shooter, wondering why he didn’t get the ball in a must-foul situation. Instead Greg Anthony hung on and missed the free throw that could have iced the game

“I think the officials let him get away with so much. He’s the one who’s creating contact. He’s the one that’s fouling. But because he’s an all-star they let him get away with that.”
Blue Edwards on ex-teammate Karl Malone

“The thing that I like about these officials is, guys get on ‘em, curse at ‘em, call ‘em all kinds of names, they don’t take it personal. What you see a lot of times, with some of the established officials, when you show ‘em up, they get you on the other end to let you know that they got control, which is basically bullshit.”
Blue Edwards comparing replacement officials with the regular NBA refs

“It seemed like every time I look at the referee they have a tendency like I’m insulting them because I have this mean look that I’ve been playing the game with.”
The grim-faced Dikembe Mutombo, on why he gets so many T’s

“I think they are neutral, but we’re talking about human beings. An analogy: a reporter probably should be more objective sometimes but the reality of it is sometimes we write and we’re a little more subjective because we have a personal stake in it or we have a personal opinion.”
Greg Anthony defending referees

“I think I’m gonna start calling him Jaws Triano.”
Grizzlies radio play-by-play man Don Poier after his colour man Jay Triano was warned by referee Ronnie Nunn not to point his finger at him

“A referee is supposed to be thick-skinned, is supposed to be able to handle things like this. To act as emotionally as he was in the latter stages of that game I thought was really unprofessional... I don’t care if that’s supposed to add colour to the game or not, I just thought that was bush, period.”
Don Poier, commenting on Ronnie Nunn’s antics

“I felt that he tripped me purposely... I don’t think there’s any room for dirty play like that, you know?... I think theoretically he’s probably really a good dude. But when you do stuff like that you tarnish the things that you accomplish out there on the floor. And you also don’t get any respect from players because they don’t respect guys who go out and try to hurt you because basically we’re all out here trying to earn a living, and you’re going to kick somebody in their lower extremities, you know, you could tear up somebody’s knee. And that’s just not professional. I don’t respect people who do stuff like that.”
Pooh Richardson talking about Greg Anthony

“I’m not going to sit here to answer his accusations. I fouled him, period. Period. I didn’t think it was dirty. You know, maybe that’s how they play out there. Maybe they don’t touch each other when they play basketball. I don't know. But I’m gonna hit you. And if you don’t like it, you don’t like it. That’s your business. I’m going to play the way that I know how to play, the way that makes me most effective. And if he doesn’t like it, then I suggest he address it.”
Greg Anthony on Pooh Richardson

“Even when he was in New York he used to come in and he kind of had the reputation of being, you know, borderline dirty.”
Blue Edwards on his teammate Greg Anthony’s rep

“It’s an emotional game and I’m an emotional player.”
Greg Anthony after a flagrant foul against Dan Majerle in a 98-90 home loss to Cleveland

“I’m going to buy me one. I’m going to buy a box of ‘em and bring one to every game. I’ll just tuck it under my shirt and start giving out techs.”
Greg Anthony, thinking of buying some whistles and getting back at the refs

“I just didn’t want him in my face so I pushed him out of the way. The hockey fans are used to seeing that.”
Blue Edwards after another altercation

“Any guy’ll tell you, you want to win, man. This is not tennis. This is not golf. You know, it’s a team sport. Bottom line is winning.”
Greg Anthony dismissing his good stats after another loss

“That was what I call an aberration. It was one of those nights where we couldn’t throw a rock on the ground.”
Greg Anthony on a 33-point loss in Boston

“We could go out and beat Johnny Junior High and I would be thrilled because that’s what we play for, is to win.”
Greg Anthony

“A win’s a win’s a win. I don’t care if it’s against, you know, Sisters of Jehovah’s Witness. I just want to win.”
Greg Anthony after a 69-65 victory against Miami

“An ugly game but a win is a win and it ain’t never ugly.”
Byron Scott after the Miami win

“When they put out in the paper tomorrow, when you guys put our record up there, 7 and 28 or whatever we are, you’re not gonna put an asterisk and say one ugly win.”
Blue Edwards after the Miami win

“Charles is a great, great player and great person. I mean, he’s a character out there on the court. He really gives the fans their money’s worth because he’s an entertainer. He plays the game, he talks to the fans, he smiles out there, he has fun, talks to the referees, talks to opposite teams, coaches, he talks to everybody. You know, I think that’s how you should be. Just have fun and enjoy the game when you’re out there because this lifestyle’s not going to last too long.”
Byron Scott on Charles Barkley

“Everybody’s been treating us bad, but you’re all gonna pay! You’re all gonna pay for all the bad stuff y’all said about our team! Everybody, not just the Grizzlies. Everybody!”
Charles Barkley

“Get me some damn American beer, too. You all be drinking that strong stuff here. I need some light beer.”
Charles Barkley

“They don’t dare ever talk about my family. If they ever say anything bad about me or my family, I’ll kill ‘em!”
Charles Barkley on the media

“The Canadians robbed us in 1983! They robbed us. They wasn’t that good. They just robbed us.”
Charles Barkley remembering when Canada beat his American team at the World University Games in Edmonton

“I like Edmonton, too. I went to a place, there was this little bar called The Library there. I told my mom every night I was going to the library. She didn’t know what I was talking about.”

Charles Barkley holding court

“I don’t think there’s any question. That’s like asking, Do you think Michael Jordan will help the Bulls?”
Jerry Sloan on whether Magic Johnson’s return will help the Lakers

“He’s a guy who loves the game. Anytime you have that, it’s good for basketball. I think it’s important that guys think about the game and not necessarily just themselves. So that’s good for the game.”
John Stockton on Magic Johnson’s return

“I think any guy on that team that was threatened by him coming back is crazy. Because all he’s going to do is make you better.”
Byron Scott on his old teammate Magic Johnson

“I think they’re going to be pretty pissed off! We gotta understand that they’re gonna come after us probably from the get-go. If we show any signs of weakness it’s going to be a blowout.”
Byron Scott after sneaking past Seattle 94-93 in the first of a home-and-home series with the Sonics

“I was just trying to get in his head, basically. I wouldn’t do it if we were in Seattle. I’ll be quiet. I’m not going to mess with him there. Unless we have a 20-point lead then maybe I’ll say a little something.”
Eric Mobley on the trash-talking that was going on between him and Gary Payton

“I could just sit there and call time-out about every third play, but you can’t.”
Brian Winters after a 92-68 butt-kicking by the Sonics

“Let me compare this team to the Milwaukee team that I was on a couple of years ago when we won 20 games. We were fighting in the locker room, guys were not practicing, and guys were pointing fingers. And none of that has happened here.”
Blue Edwards after the Grizzlies break a 23-game losing streak with a 105-103 win against Minnesota

“We hung in there together and we stayed with this whole thing throughout the season. And we rode it out. We played hard, we played together, we won together and we lost together. And that’s a tribute to our team and to our staff.”
Byron Scott assessing the year

“We haven’t played enough together to win. That’s something that’s going to come with time. But the sad thing would be for the fans to say that we quit, that we’re lousy players. It would be sad for management to say that we quit. I never would want a coach or management to question the toughness of this team or me as an individual.”
Blue Edwards


  1. What's the point in asking the question? Well, I dunno, maybe so we could analyse the available data to figure out who is the better player? Well you warned me this column was coming, so I guess I should have been prepared, but your dubious dodge of my question leaves me wondering if you are a poseur. I mean, come on, just how much of a basketball geek are you if you won't answer a simple question about the relative value of these two great players. Just because Lebron and Kobe are both superb doesn't mean that there is no value in discussing their differences, and their relative values (who will contribute more wins/season over the course of a career.) When I look at their numbers, it seems that Lebron has an ever so slight edge offensively--a few more rebounds and assists than Kobe--but Bryant has a better defensive reputation, which is evident in his higher steal totals, but apparently James is closing the gap on the defensive side of things. But, in the words of Rod Steiger in the movie In the Heat of the Night, "I'm not an expurt" and would welcome the feedback of those who are more expert in this matter than I. So stop dodging, and take a stand you pussy.

  2. Nope, no stand on such a ridiculous question. It's impossible to tell. They're on two different teams in two different conferences with two different styles, so if one guy has a slight edge in points and the other in steals (or whatever), it means next to nothing. They're both great. Leave it at that.

    Standard wisdom (which I usually abhor) will always default to championships. But there are too many variables for me to buy into that line of thought.

    But I ask you, why the need to figure out who the better player is? It's not like we're comparing George Gervin and Gheorghe Muresan. These two guys have very similar abilities and talents. They're both outstanding. Why not leave it at that?

    Anyone other than Dan want to weigh in? Otherwise we can just take it off-line and into the alley.

  3. I think you're both right. It's fun to compare, but really they are so close to be equal that it would come down to game by game probably. It's kind of like the Magic vs Bird thing. They were both great and on any given night one was better than the other.

  4. The whole Magic v. Bird question would be a lot easier to call if Johnson hadn't retired so young.

  5. I say that cuz only Magic was a Kobe/Lebron/Jordan type who could do it all. He could play any position on the floor, beat you as a point guard, a shooting guard, a power forward or a centre (if playing against a smaller team, anyways). He was more athletic than Bird and appeared to play with considerably more enthusiasm, if not tenacity.

  6. Magic was probably my favourite player of all time. But I don't think you could say he was more athletic than Bird. If so, only marginally. They were equally unathletic. And I think they're perfect examples of two guys you can't honestly assess as one being better than the other. They were both incredibly good, brought out the best in each other, could do everything. Some people say Bird was better, some say Magic. It comes down to whether you were a fan of the Celtics or Lakers. i.e. playing favourites.

  7. It is interesting that they both appeared to be unathletic. I suspect if we suited up for a pick-up game with them they would appear quite athletic. It is just next to NBA athletes that they are not. The same was often said of Gretzky. Can't skate, can't shoot, but what a hockey player. The three of them had great vision.

  8. Same with Nash. He looks like a slow-footed doofus in the NBA, but he's the fastest high school player I ever saw.

    Could Bird do it all? He couldn't dribble all that well--Magic was much more capable on that front, no?