Why Players Fail

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Why Players Fail

Postby Coach » Sun Jul 12, 2009 6:00 pm

Wrote a blog entry this morning on the downfall of talented basketball players. Would love your feedback. Thinking of writing a book on this disturbing trend.

http://playerdevelopment.wordpress.com/
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Postby kjb » Mon Jul 13, 2009 2:48 pm

What's the trend that you're seeing? Talented basketball players have failed since forever, haven't they? And how is this different from any other field? There are an enormous number of "failed" writers, artists, singers, dancers -- probably accountants, actuaries, broadcasters, etc. There's a guy who works the register at my local grocery store. He's one of the smartest people I've ever met. Speaks 7 languages fluently. Well-read, knowledgeable, up-to-date on current events. Is checking people out at the grocery store and speaking to the diplomats/foreigners the full expression of his talents and abilities? Or did he "fail" at some other field, or "fail" to get the credentials necessary to enter that other field? And, what's different between him and Eddy Curry?
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Postby Coach » Mon Jul 13, 2009 7:17 pm

kjb, I understand fully that it is not different in other fields, since this was a basketball message board and since I coach basketball, I figured I'd throw it out to basketball people...In the overall grand scheme of things, there is no difference in these failures, but how many books, articles, research have been done over the past say, 5 years on this topic? I recall reading a book about people who got fired from their jobs; but nothing else. I'm sure you can go to writing websites and find writers who have failed (but how many of them signed contracts worth millions of dollars, only to make a foolish choice like turning to drugs and ruining their careers?)

We hear about all these millionaires in sport, I'd like to look at the opposite end; players who had a gift and let it go with foolish mistakes.

Not sure of the difference between your checkout guy who can speak 7 languages and Eddie Curry. But I do know your guy is probably more educated. Come to think of it, maybe your checkout guy is a prof at the local Community College and bags groceries to make ends meet?
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Postby Coach » Mon Jul 13, 2009 7:24 pm

Keith, that's what I'm trying to research; why Darko failed with Detroit with all that so-called, can't miss talent. Could it be the expectations placed on these 19 year old's and signing for so much money?

But come to think of it. Darko is not really what I'm getting at. Players like Q-Dailey, Michael Ray,Lloyd Daniels, Luther Wright all made poor choices leading to their demise; Darko just wasn't good enough at the time. Darko didn't turn to drugs or commit a crime like many have in the past so there is a difference between him and others.
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Postby Coach » Mon Jul 13, 2009 7:27 pm

kjb wrote:What's the trend that you're seeing? Talented basketball players have failed since forever, haven't they?


You are right, the trend has been going on for a long time, but what are we doing about it? Are parents, coaches and teachers doing all they can to help athletes? Since you mentioned singers, could something have been done to help Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown?
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Postby Coach » Mon Jul 13, 2009 11:17 pm

It's all-too-easy for the NBA-types at the top of (today's) totem pole to look down on everybody else & call them Failures. The league today actively seeks to make stars of European-oriented players & younger Yao Mings, but shows scant interest in African-origin players despite the retired examples of Olajuwon & Mutombo.


The game has gone Global, no question. Players in other countries are seeing there is an opportunity to make millions of dollars in America by playing basketball so they are working very hard.

Ron Artest's career may rebound to win a title or two as a Laker, but a principal reason he "failed" the night the Pacers were given a Win over the Pistons in a game that never reached the end of regulation was that Larry Bird, instead of running the team, was gallivanting around Europe "scouting" talent like Jasikevicius. That fiasco nearly ruined Artest's career; a good book might also be written about players like Artest who overcome great odds & persevere.


I don't quite understand what you are saying here? A fan throws a cup of ice at Ron Artest because he is lying down on the scorers table, which ignites him to run into the stands to fight and it's Larry Bird's fault? You're placing blame elsewhere for irrational behavior?
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Postby Coach » Tue Jul 14, 2009 3:25 am

Keith Ellis Said:
Rather, the game has gone Euro & will increasingly go Sino if scouts can find players there. The NBA has shown astonishingly shallow desire to import African players, who it would appear lack "the essentials" in a way Europeanized players do not. Seems rather odd in this modern day & age, doesn't it?


Sir, GEO 101, Asia is not Europe and neither is Argentina, it's South America. Not all International players are from Europe.




Ben Wallace throttled Artest & picked him up by the throat while the referees watched. Then the officials spent a cool several minutes not-deciding what to do, as the Palace fans increasingly howled for more blood. Then the fan-eruption happened & Ben Wallace's brother joined in the melee, punching Pacers at every opportunity.

Artest clobbered Wallace driving to the basket, not even going for the ball! The Pacers ran into the stands! Did you see Stephen Jackson? Why did Artest run into the stands?


Larry Bird, the face of the Pacers, was "in Europe scouting" (read sipping French champagne) rather than in Africa looking for the next Olajuwon or Oscar. He had plenty of egg on his face when he came back to Indiana w/ Jasikevicius in the bag.


Again, what does this have to do with a brawl in Detroit? Artest started it be slapping Wallace driving to the basket with :50 seconds to play and a 15 point Pistons lead. You have to be kidding?



Again, it was easy to rip Ron Artest as a "failure" for liking rap music but a courageous & inspiring sports-related book might instead examine his perseverance -- & note that Artest stands far more likely to win an NBA championship than Bird's team does in 2010.


Who ever said Artest was a failure? He attended a catholic high school in NYC and then later was awarded a scholarship to college. He will not be the only player to persevere and be successful.
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Postby Coach » Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:53 am

Keith,

I'm done discussing Artest and the Malice in the Palace. No matter what, any athlete will tell you you never run into the stands after a fan. I like Artest, always have. But, why has he been with 6 teams in 10 years?
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Postby kjb » Tue Jul 14, 2009 1:51 pm

Back on topic, Coach -- I think there's probably a good book in this. I can see a couple directions to go. One would be a basketball book, which focuses on notable failures, delves into their stories, and then ties together common themes and suggests some ways to counter them. The other would be to do something like what Malcolm Gladwell does -- use a few basketball examples as a leaping off point into a broader discussion of human frailties and failures. In this second approach, you'd probably want examples from several different areas, and then you'd want to show the commonalities. Ultimately, this is a book about human nature, I think. In my experience of interviewing, talking with, socializing and writing about basketball and the people who play (and work) in it, the causes of their "failures" are the same as those for human failures everywhere else.
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Postby kjb » Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:21 pm

I agree with you that Artest can hardly be described as a "failure." At least in basketball terms. He has failed to control his behavior at times, but he's had a successful basketball career by any definition.

When I think of "failures," I think of guys like Chris Washburn, who had incredible physical talent but struggled with drugs and alcohol.

Was Roy Tarpley a "failure?"

Which gets to the larger point of how "fail" is defined in this context.

For example, some might consider Eddy Curry a basketball "failure." But would Curry think of himself that way? He has roughly $47 million in career earnings with another $22.5 million due over the next couple seasons.

Kwame Brown "failed" in Washington, but has approx. $46 million in earnings with another $4.1 million on the way next season.

Michael Olowokandi is considered by many (including myself) to be one of the worst #1 picks in league history. A failure? Nearly $38 million in career earnings.

Or Darko -- not much production on the floor, but roughly $30 million in career earnings.

Even Tskitishvili -- about as abject a failure in the NBA as you could find -- made nearly $9 million.

Many would love to "fail" so well.
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Postby Coach » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:38 am

kjb,

The topic is failure in basketball, not in life or bank account. If you don't make it in the NBA but will stand to make millions of dollars anyway, that is a whole different story. BTW, I have started the book, and hopefully it will be done in a few months.

When you mentioned players have been failing for years, (I think your exact words were 'Talented basketball players have failed since forever, haven't they?') the only difference with today's players is they have all that money to fall back on; it's called guaranteed contracts. Luther Wright failed in basketball, but financially he is set for life. The same can't be said for Fly Williams who failed in basketball but is not set for life financially.
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Postby Mike Goodman » Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:22 pm

kjb wrote:...
Kwame Brown "failed" in Washington, but has approx. $46 million in earnings with another $4.1 million on the way next season.
etc.
Many would love to "fail" so well.

The fan (and owner!) would consider the higher-paid player to be the bigger failure. If you invest very little, you can hardly fail. If you invest a lot, you can fail a lot.

But the expectations of the fan, owner, GM who drafted the player (too high?), etc, are not what determines whether a player failed to develop his true potential.

I don't see a particular 'trend' here, either. There are many more players now than there were in the '50s-60s. There's a lot more media, blogs, opinionators, etc.
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Postby Need To Argue » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:34 pm

Coach wrote: Luther Wright failed in basketball, but financially he is set for life.



Luther isn't really set for life. He is living with his family and does a volunteer radio show. He gets a small income from an annuity that was set up for him that is mid-five figures. He is just trying to keep his life together and enjoys the radio show (small few mile radius).
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Postby Coach » Thu Jul 16, 2009 2:58 pm

Need to Argue

Luther isn't really set for life. He is living with his family and does a volunteer radio show. He gets a small income from an annuity that was set up for him that is mid-five figures. He is just trying to keep his life together and enjoys the radio show (small few mile radius).


Article on Luther...that original deal seemed like he was set for life. But after research, looks like his mother threw a wrench in it. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/print/660226789/At-rock-bottom-Luther-Wright-finds-salvation.html

When the Jazz cut him in 1994, DiFazio, converted his five-year, $5 million contract into an annuity that would pay Wright $158,000 for the next 25 years. But Wright's mother, Mae, had gained control over the annuity when Wright was mentally unstable, he says. She used it as collateral for a large loan. Payments on that loan ate up much of the money.

Wright won't say how she spent the money. He refuses to allow access to his mother, whose health, he says, is deteriorating.

Most of the rest of the money went to child support payments to four children Wright supposedly fathered with four different women, leaving just a small piece — he won't say how much — for Wright himself.

[url][/url]
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Postby Coach » Thu Jul 16, 2009 3:04 pm

Instead of 'trend' I should've used the word, 'epidemic' in my topic above. Larry Bird once said, 'I just don't understand it. These young, talented players come into the league and within 5 years they are gone'. My original post was supposed to bring about conversation on where does it all start? Lack of work ethic, lazy, content with the millions of dollars, drugs ???

I understand teams draft on potential, but after a player like, Kwame Brown gets drafted, is he working as hard as he should to be all that he can be?
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Postby Mike Goodman » Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:33 pm

Coach wrote:Instead of 'trend' I should've used the word, 'epidemic' in my topic above. Larry Bird once said, 'I just don't understand it. These young, talented players come into the league and within 5 years they are gone'. ..

I have always thought the '70s were the decade of anomalous short careers: Marvin Barnes, Sidney Wicks, Spencer Haywood, Pete Maravich, Charlie Scott, John Brisker, Kevin Porter, Ernie D, John Drew, Eric Money, George McGinnis, Wilbur Holland, John Shumate, David Thompson were here today and gone tomorrow.

Into the '80s the 'trend' continues with Mike Mitchell, Michael Ray Richardson, Fast Eddie Johnson, Phil Ford, Cliff Robinson (I), Billy Ray Bates, Sly Williams, Reggie King, Kelvin Ransey, Jay Vincent, Lewis Lloyd, Albert King, Quintin Dailey, Roy Hinson, Mitchell Wiggins, Melvin Turpin.

Players get derailed by injuries, which may or may not be related to their conditioning. If you aren't physically fit, you will almost certainly get hurt; and if you are, you still may. Overeating and under-exercising might be called self-inflicted aggravations. Drugs, drinking, smoking are more obviously self-crippling.
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Postby Mike Goodman » Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:33 pm

Rather than rattling off lists of names of players who were once good (or 'should have been' good) but had short careers, in one era or another, I wondered if it could be quantified.

Using pages like this one -
http://www.basketball-reference.com/fc/ ... i?id=1AwOj

... I looked for careers of no more than 400 games, most rebounds in these short careers, and sorted by first season. Visually scanning the list, I counted the number of players in each time-frame: Entirely in the '50s; start in the '50s, end in the '60s; etc.

I repeated this using most points by players with careers less than 400 games. These are crude estimators of 'potential', but that's what I could think of.

400 regular-season games is roughly equal to 5 modern seasons (since the mid-'60s anyway). Here's how they're distributed, NBA and ABA:
Code: Select all
years    Reb  Pts
1950s     14   6
50s-60s    6   2
1960s      5   2
60s-70s   20  24
1970s     17  17
70s-80s    8  11
1980s      4   8
80s-90s    7   7
1990s      2   4
90s-00s    9   7
2000s      3   3

As suspected, the late-60s to early-80s comprise more than half of these significant-but-brief careers. Many of the same players enter in both columns.

If we exclude the ABA (on account of there were lots of stopgap players in the first 2-3 years), it will break down differently. But then there's the problem of guys who only had short NBA portions (on top of ABA) of careers. I'll try to pick these out of the mix.
NBA only:
Code: Select all
years    Reb  Pts
1950s     12   10
50s-60s    6    4
1960s      7    3
60s-70s    5    3
1970s     13   11
70s-80s   13   14
1980s      7    9
80s-90s    9   11
1990s      3    5
90s-00s   12   10
2000s      5    5

Without the early-ABA guys, it's clearly the '70s and early '80s that dominate. Even with more teams and players today, there seem to be fewer such short careers.
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Postby Coach » Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:31 am

Keith Ellis,

Cliff Levingston was a monster; and he was the 9th player selected in the draft. Solid college player who worked very hard. Played with energy, excitement and determination. He understood his role too, which many players never buy into what will keep them in the league. Levingston played up front in Atlanta with Antoine Carr and Kevin Willis plus Tree Rollins and those guys did a lot of the dirty work. Kelser was dogged by injuries which hampered his career (but he will never use that as an excuse). Injuries are one thing, using drugs is another; I don't equate the two. Now, making the most out of what you have is another topic.

Mike,

Great stuff on your last two posts. I loved Sly Williams, he had a great move where he would fake going right (his weak hand) then inside out his dribble go to to his strong side, the left. I have actually taught my left-hander wing player that move.
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Postby thehef » Fri Jul 17, 2009 8:36 pm

I'm still trying to understand this, Keith:

Ron Artest's career may rebound to win a title or two as a Laker, but a principal reason he "failed" the night the Pacers were given a Win over the Pistons in a game that never reached the end of regulation was that Larry Bird, instead of running the team, was gallivanting around Europe "scouting" talent like Jasikevicius.


To re-phrase & cut to the chase, it looks like you are saying:

A principle reason Artest was involved in, and was villainized for, the Pacers/Pistons brawl was because Larry Bird was in Europe scouting players.

I've no comment or interest on the particulars of what led to the incident and how it unfolded, but I'm just trying to figure what Bird could've done had he not been in Europe. What if - at the time of the game in question - he were instead in his Conseco Fieldhouse office, poring over scouting reports and salary cap numbers? Or on a Western-US scouting trip? Or at home eating steak and sipping brews after a long day of meeting with scouts and calling other GM's? You know, doing typical evening GM-like things. Would he - in your eyes - be just as blame-worthy?

And correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure most GM's have made overseas scouting trips. And - in regards to Jasikevicius - I'm pretty sure most GM's have recruited/drafted/signed players that didn't work out. So... what if Bird had been scouting - and eventually landed - the next Dirk, Pau, or Parker? Would that have somehow mitigated the blame he apparently (in your eyes) holds for the brawl incident and Artest's involvement?

Re "gallivanting" and
Larry Bird, the face of the Pacers, was "in Europe scouting" (read sipping French champagne)...


Do you know for a fact that this was less of actual scouting trip and more of a vacation, compared to the typical European trips of other GM's? Do other GM's typically rough it, backpack and all? Or is it likely that these relative high-earners do their business-traveling in style?

Help me connect these dots, Keith ;-) Cuz this ain't addin' up.

Keith wrote:
... & note that Artest stands far more likely to win an NBA championship than Bird's team does in 2010.


Keith, one could just as easily replace Artest's name with any player on LA, Boston, Cleveland, San Antonio, Orlando..., and could replace "Bird's team" with the the GM's name of a bunch of other mediocre, rebuilding, or just plain bad teams... and it'd be true. But what is the connection here? This just smacks of bitterness, like you're blaming Bird for Artest's bad reputation.

Artest is who he is. A very talented basketball player, and a strange (entertaining, colorful and/or misunderstood, to some) dude. He was that way before he was Pacer, as a Pacer, and as a King, Rocket, and will be as a Laker. That he went off - somewhat provoked or whatever - and went into the stands a few years ago could've happened anywhere at any time. If it happens next year, Mitch Kupchak may get blamed for taking a chance on Ron, but I don't think too many people will blame Mitch for the actual incident. Nor will they blame him because of his whereabouts at the time.
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Postby thehef » Sat Jul 18, 2009 12:52 am

Keith, I think you've done a pretty good job venting your bitterness, but there are a few things left to clear up ;-) It'd be great if you could address these specifically:

...as a Pacer fan am bitter about Bird's whereabouts on the night in question. He showed his priorities...


1. Do you have any evidence that Larry was not actually scouting/working/doing his job in Europe, and was instead simply vacationing or partying?
2. Regardless of what Bird was actually up to in Europe, what is the connection between his whereabouts and his alleged responsibility for what happened that night?
3. What priorities did he show? What would you have preferred he be doing that night?

... Head-Case Failures like Ron Artest, which I consider coded language for something more sinister.


I can only assume that you are alluding that Bird's opinion of Artest is based in racism. I have no idea (perhaps you do) if the "Head-Case Failure" tag was actually applied by Bird to Artest. At any rate, I don't know about 'failure' but my guess would be that "Head-case" would be a tag applied to Ron by a not-insignificant number of fans & writers. Probably some GM's, coaches, broadcasters, and players, too.

Consider the case of Dennis Rodman. He was kept in line by Jax, Pippen, & Jordan. We saw Chicago's leaders clamp down on The Worm any number of times in the latter Nineties. Kurt Rambis couldn't achieve same in easygoing LA, Kobe was too young, & Shaq was too self-absorbed.


First of all, while I DO see the connection between Rodman and Artest, I don't see a point related to the subject... Un-related to the subject, you're right about Dennis being kept in line, and that Rambis couldn't do the same. Kurt didn't come in with a resume and a contract that said "I'm here to get your spoiled, loser butts in line, there is NO chance of me being fired, and now you will have nobody to blame but yourselves if you lose." Shaq and Kobe knew that their reputations were not good, and that if they succeeded in torpedoing the Jax-led ship, they were toast. Not saying that it was imperative to win a title the first year, but it was, in a sense, now-or-never-time to either rid themselves of the selfish, spoiled, loser, coach-killer labels, or prove that those labels applied, forever. Rambis did not have the unwavering backing of the front-office, nor the coaching cred to pull that off.

... amazingly, the league office gave Indiana the Win even tho the game never concluded, to divert attention from what should have been a forfeit or a tie...


Why is there discussion /debate about giving the Pacers the win? It was a 15-point margin with 45 seconds to go in the game. A particularly ugly incident ocurred, so what justification could there have been for either finishing out garbage time, calling it a draw, or awarding a forfeit?

Maybe going to Europe for scouting junkets is all about business, but I've travelled for commercial reasons a few times & have seen that, for some, the fancy cuisine & haute couture are compelling side-benefits.


Perhaps, and let's assume so. But is there ANY evidence that L. Bird is the poster-boy for this, compared to other GM's? Or is this just a moving target that you happened to grab to vent your frustration at Bird?

Country boys like Bird are certainly not alone in falling into such a trap, but he should've known better w/ a team on the verge of a title.


So, what your saying is that a GM should not take an overseas scouting trip during the first month of a season in which his team is a title-contender. Correct? If I were to produce a list of other GM's who have done the same (which I can assure I will NOT attempt to do :-) ), would they be just as guilty? And, please - specifically - define what you mean by trap.

Semi-finally, Keith, you haven't yet connected Bird's trip to Europe with the brawl. You've expressed your disenchantment with how the brawl & aftermath were handled by the officials, league, etc. Fine, no argument. And you've certainly shown that you don't put much value in scouting trips to Europe. Ok. But please, please, offer something to connect the two. Something that shows that (to paraphrase you in your OP), the reason Artest 'failed' the night of the brawl was because Bird was in Europe scouting Jasikevicius. Please be specific.

Finally, re Bird saying he felt insulted to be guarded by white guys... Your paragraph about that above certainly shows that it was kinda silly (of Bird). However, athletes have always used disrepect - real or imagined - as motivation. (Remember Kobe's arrogant and classless behavior against Battier in this past postseason?) Despite your evidence about B-Jones, the Mixer, DV, McHale, it was probably not a minority opinion during Bird's playing days that, in general, blacks were better basketball players. And I'm sure Bird, particularly pre-NCAA/NBA stardom, heard alot of "slow-footed, can't-ball, white-guy" comments just prior to taking the court and showing them otherwise. I would imagine that he took particular pleasure - as well as a challenge - in beating the best of the best. And I would imagine that much of time, he found that the best of the best was not the white guy.
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Postby Mike Goodman » Sun Jul 19, 2009 12:07 pm

Coach wrote:...any athlete will tell you you never run into the stands after a fan. ..

Cedric Maxwell went into the seats and jumped on a fan, pinning him to the floor, having some serious words. This was during one of those classic Boston/Philly playoff series in the early '80s. Afterward, the fan was hauled off by security, and Cedric returned to finish the game. In fact, I believe that was the year he won Finals MVP, 1981.

Does anyone know what the fan said to incite Maxwell? Or what Maxwell's (verbal) response was? Or how he was immediately and completely absolved of any guilt for his actions?

The league let this slide, and it didn't lead to any 'rash' of players attacking fans. Stern wasn't yet comish.

Well, I did find this 2:17 clip of the incident (and some comments) :
http://dimemag.com/2009/01/cornbread-wa ... on-artest/
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Postby Coach » Sun Jul 19, 2009 11:48 pm

Mike Goodman,

Cornbread went into the stands 28 years ago. Only a fool does something like that.
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Postby Mike Goodman » Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:50 am

So, would Maxwell not jump on the fan if he played today? Would he be smarter? Would he do the same, and bring down his whole team, repercussions lasting years?

Bird can't shake Doc, he goes back and forth with Parish, who misses a tough turnaround from 14'. Toney is trying to keep Maxwell off the boards, they get tangled up a bit, and Maxwell crumples Toney with an elbow.

Just as Maxwell gets the rebound, he's straight-armed out of bounds under the basket, by Daryl Dawkins. He lands in a (Philly) fan's lap.

Extricating himself, he's headed back towards the court. The fan is jabbering something, and he also throws something at Maxwell, who then turns back and does the pouncing thing. No punch is thrown.

Fitch runs into the mob, Daryl steps in as 'peacemaker', Chris Ford gets out of bounds a bit; everyone stays pretty cool. By just playing on -- and perhaps, just hoping for the best -- they got the best, out of the Celtics, at least.

Did Philly hang on in this one, to go up 3-1? Boston came back to win the last 3 games. Only previous time - 1968, Boston over Philly.
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Postby kjb » Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:40 pm

Thing that struck me in that Maxwell clip were the travels by Parish and Bird. Call either of those, and there's no shot, no elbow, no angry fan, no Maxwell pushing.
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Postby Mike Goodman » Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:22 pm

My guess is that the fat guy used the N word, and Cedric demonstrated that no man has to turn his back on that. Certainly no warrior does.

Maybe times have changed. Maybe the taunts now are somehow less self-indicting. You pretty much can't get away with such talk in public any more, can you?

Back then, men were men, and you couldn't tell them what not to do. Talk hate , smoke in arenas, pack heat ...
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