The virtues of summer sports, and the embarrassment called the NBA

Summer sports can be tedious for some and all important to others.

It is by far, the most vital period of days for any athlete hoping to truly master his/her craft for the upcoming seasons and put them in a position to differentiate themselves from so many other athletes that believe themselves better.

It is a Catch 22 for many young athletes: Do they put in the work and sacrifice the normal, mundane, social activities in the hopes of becoming the player they want to be or risk wasting that time to end up finding out they just weren’t that good in the first place? Or, do they not waste the time and go hang out at Legends with their buddies and wash away a golden opportunity to build on their obvious talents?

The thing is that all the scenarios, ironically, have merit.

If one doesn’t work hard – and there is actually a certain level of expectation in suffering that qualifies one for truly working “hard” – they tend to find out that either they aren’t very good compared to others – if not on their team than compared to other players on other teams – or their teams end up being pretty mediocre.

However, imagine all those opportunities lost and memories denied if a young adult works hard at a sport to find out it was not for the better. Sure, the experience itself of working hard, pushing oneself and showing improvement – even if it isn’t enough – are valuable lessons in their own right.

But it still stinks to not get to where one wants and then miss those trips to the lake.

Then of course, why does a potential star athlete have to work hard on sports?

Did one ever consider that he/she is a brilliant mind? A charismatic person? Maybe their goals in life steer toward the academic and the professional working world? Maybe they plan on being a fantastic businessman or politician even – although the latter may be oxymoronic. 

So coaches and their teammates better just live with the fact that he/she may be a good player, but not as great as everyone but that athlete expected them to be. So what? It’s their life.

Finally, if that great athlete does work hard? Well, then the sky is the limit, at least in the sports arena by means of potential scholarships, monies saved on education and maybe, even slightly, a chance at a pro career in an athletic field.

The point is, this is the time of year where athletes, on an individual basis, must put up or shush. If you aren’t putting in the work, your need to complain is null and voided by your inaction.

Take advantage of the camps your coaches are putting together. Invest the time if you truly envision yourself as, or consider yourself as great.

But if not? That’s OK too. Live life and pursue the bigger picture.

Only when called to question you should not be heard suddenly making excuses of why you fall short.

Just say that something more important became your focus. Who cares if the “fans” don’t like it?

You are the one who has to live your life.

Just be accountable while remembering that. 

Thank Gravy   it’s over!

The most embarrassing year for NBA play has finally ended.

The Golden State Warriors are now being hailed as maybe “the greatest team of all time.” Well, maybe by people who clearly don’t know the sport, it’s rules and competition altogether.

They won an NBA title a year removed from a 73-9 record and a 3-1 championship series lead and flop that saw them fall to Cleveland. Instead of working just a wee bit harder at their games, they went out and traded for another all-star to essentially win, one game.

One game?

How embarrassing.

That all-star? Kevin Durant? Had that same GSW team down 3-1 in the Western Conference semifinals and he too choked his way to a series loss. So as we have heard many times before, he joined the team he essentially had beat instead of raising his game and/or mental toughness quotient.

OK.

So those two entities formed a title team this year that is now laughably being called the best ever.

Are you kidding me?

Now, I know millennials like to claim everything around them is the greatest, just so they can piggyback off of that relevance, but sorry kids, you are dead wrong on the assertion these guys are the best, let alone Top 5.

No it’s not an “age thing,” because even though I am outspoken about the de-evolution of hoops, I also am on record as saying sports like baseball, hockey, soccer are being played in this country better than ever before, while football is better in many ways except for atrocious tackling.

So, (buzzer) not an age thing.

It’s called reality.

The biggest reality is that the game continues to shy away from calling the game as defined in the rule book. Players are not allowed to travel, carry a basketball, push off of the dribble and they are allowed to defend by beating offensive attacks to the spot and establishing a plain of verticality.

Suddenly, none of that matters anymore. Defenses are handcuffed, mediocre offensive players are allowed more freedom and the game is a joke.

Funny thing is how they claim that those “older” teams couldn’t “hang” today. Based on? 

“We are so much more skilled and athletic than ever before.”

Um, no not really.

Athleticism is not skill. Also, last time I checked, there were some dang good teams in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s that had some superior athletes on them. Bill Russell? Wilt Chamberlain? Elgin Baylor? Nate Thurmond? Oscar Robertson? Jerry West? Kareem? 

All this modern era has done is add some muscle and a better diet. Better athletes? Relative.

More skilled? Oh you mean more than the guys who had to crossover a defender with a dribble right in front of them, no carries allowed and definitely no extra 1-2 steps given a pass?

You mean when in a defensive dominated league the teams still shot at a better clip than in an era where no defense is allowed?

Oh, wait! They shoot threes more than ever before, that’s why it’s lower! Um, no. The two-point game is putrid and you would think they’d shoot better in an era where defenders are handcuffed. They miss more layups than ever before and the mid-range game is embarrassing.

But let’s let guys who barely make free throws jack up 100 threes a game.

Yep. That’ great skill.

And the college game? Even worse.

Sad to see what was once a great sport, go down the tubes. 

But, when we were young, we actually appreciated the older-era teams and tried to learn from them.

That lesson is needed more than ever now. 

Royal hope

The American League Central is kind of a mess right now and that could be a good thing for the Kansas City Royals.

A last-place team dressed up as a good one is at the top of the standings most of the time and that will end soon. The defending champion Cleveland Indians can’t seem to figure out if they want to win or not, but if they do, it’s over.

Detroit still has good pitching and pride, but they are too inconsistent.

The Chicago White Sox? Next.

The Royals have tried to fight out from under a bad start. Their offense is bi-polar and their pitching is the same.

Yet, they still have many players on board that still remember what winning big takes.

I have a feeling that we will see over the next 20-30 games which team shows up: The one who knows winning or the one who got bored with it.

Stay tuned.

Alan Dale is the sports editor of the Leavenworth Times. He can be reached via email at adale@leavenworthtimes.com. He is a basketball purist at heart.