Dickran's Blog

Just a few drops in the bucket

2 years later

Lebron James won a championship.  Are you really that surprised?  Are you disappointed?  Did you hope he would fail?  Were you hoping to be able to criticize him for another year?  Were you hoping to be able to say that he would never be good enough?

Well now what?  Now he has to win 3 in a row? He has to hit the game winning shot in game 7?  He goes for 4o points 19 rebounds and 9 assists, and he’s expected to do that every night or he’s a failure. Cleveland gave away championships because they didn’t put enough talent around him.  Lebron put winning in front of everything when he went to Miami.  There’s no reason to doubt that this will become a regular occurrence.  He can defend any position.  He can score in so many ways.  He makes everyone around him better.  He’s not perfect.  No one is.  He’s the best player in the game. His average game is better than most people’s good game.  His good game is better than most people’s best games.

He will only get better until his age or health catches up with him.  Even then his ability will allow him to remain at a level higher than most.  His ability to do more than score will allow him to contribute for a longer period of time than most.

 

July 28, 2012 at 8:23 PM Comments (0)

Kobe or Lebron

My gut tells me Lebron. It always has. But it’s tough to deny Kobe’s mental and physical talents. He’s good. He’s very good. But given the choice, I’d still take Lebron. Many people give me dumbfounded reactions. We debate, discuss, and end up getting nowhere fast.

So I thought I’d do a little research. I’m convinced now more than ever that Lebron is the better pick. Evaluation of talent is such an subjective discussion.  Let’s compare the results of previous seasons.

Kobe won his first title in his fourth season. It was his second season with Shaq, who at the time was a dominating post presence. They won 3 in a row. Then they lost in the playoffs with basically the same roster. The next year they lost in the finals with the addition of Gary Payton and Karl Malone.  In 2004-2005, Shaq left, Payton and Malone retired, and the Lakers went 34-48 with Lamar Odom on the team. The next season 45-37.  The next season 42-40.  Then in 2007-2008 here comes Pau Gasol, and the Lakers made it to the Finals.  The last two years, they have won it all.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have made it to the NBA Finals.  They have had the best regular season record for 2 years in a row.  Any guesses on the best player besides Lebron on the Cavs roster over those years?  Drew Gooden?  Anderson Varejao?  Mo Williams?  Antawn Jamison or Shaq (the oldest active player in the NBA)?  Anyone want to engage in this discussion or debate?

Consensus would be that none of these players are as good as Pau or Shaq (in his earlier years). These players might not be considered as good Lamar Odom or Derek Fisher who are the 3rd and 4th best players on the Laker’s current roster.  If you go back to the first three championships, you have names like Glen Rice, Robert Horry, Rick Fox, and Ron Harper on those rosters.  Are any of the current Cavs players as good as those players at that time?

It’s pretty likely if Kobe and Lebron switched places, the Lakers would still win.  The question is would the Cavs still have the best record in the league?  Would they be in the playoffs? They would likely make the playoffs, but I certainly can’t see them with the best record or winning a ring.

Lebron wants to win.  He went to the team with D-Wade, arguably the 3rd best player in the NBA.  Chris Bosh, another top 15 player in the league, is there.  He knows he’ll be measured by rings.  Everyone knows he can play.  He doesn’t need fame or money.  He needs to win.  If he can’t win with these two players and a few role players, then I’m wrong.  I’m taking my chances.

July 15, 2010 at 9:11 PM Comments (0)

Congratulations! You graduated without doing anything!

Ignorance is bliss.  Learning about what goes on in the world is depressing.  Who knew walking into Wal Mart could be so enlightening and so disturbing?

While waiting in line to check out, I noticed a newspaper for sell.  The headline talked about policy changes for the local school system. I don’t know what all of the new policies were. I didn’t finish reading the article.  I was scared to actually.

One of the new policies…the one that made me quit reading…the one that pushed me to write..did it inspire me to write?  That’s too much of a compliment.

The lowest grade that a student can receive in this particular school system is a 55.  What?  Are you serious?  So I can get half the problems right on a math test and get the same grade as the person who didn’t do anything?  I’ve heard of grade inflation, but this is ridiculous.  We’re talking about HIGH SCHOOL.  High school isn’t that hard. I didn’t say students had to take AP Calculus and AP History.  Basic maths, histories, sciences and literatures are not that demanding.  Throw in a few PE, band, art, and technology classes and you’ve got a high school transcript worthy of a diploma.  If students aren’t willing to do this baseline level work, they shouldn’t graduate.  Maybe they shouldn’t be in school.  Maybe they need to be left behind.

If administrators are just trying to push people though the system, then what’s the point of a high school diploma?  It can be argued, that a high school diploma has very little value.  There are thousands of college graduates who are struggling to find a job, so it’s not like a bachelor’s degree is the final answer either.  But why give someone something that hasn’t been earned? And this is the bigger issue. Can I decide to not show up for work and still receive 55% of my paycheck?  What are we teaching kids? Who really cares if they know the capitals of all 50 states?  Do they understand that to get something you have to work for it?  With this system, they aren’t learning either.

Here you go, you can sit on the bench for the whole game, but we’ll still give you 10 points and 5 rebounds anyway.  Oh, you finished in last place?  Here’s a trophy for participating.  Can we get back to earning what we get?  Earn is such a strong word that it doesn’t even have an antonym according to http://www.synonym.com/antonym/earn/ Interesting?  I think so.

There are consequences to all of our actions.  This country will pay dearly for such policies. While we may be destroying our earth with pollution, littering, and oil spills, we are destroying our future generations with the lack of attention that we’re giving to teaching our children properly.  What makes us think we’re invincible?  It is our people that made us great in the past.  Not our technology or our weapons.  We’re not going to have enough great people in future years to keep us great if we continue down this road. America will eventually pay for allowing and supporting such policies.

May 30, 2010 at 6:44 PM Comments (0)

A Question for the Class of 2010

Class of 2010,

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!  You’ve worked hard, you’ve jumped through all the hoops, you’ve persevered. It feels great! Exams, papers, and projects are now memories you’ll share with friends instead of events that you have to dread. Great stuff right? I’d like to give you a present for your achievement. This letter is good for a ticket into the largest amusement park in the world. It doesn’t have an expiration date.  You can use it now, or later if you decide you haven’t had enough school.

I imagine your next question might be, “Where is this amusement park?”  Your mind might wander to thoughts of Six Flags, or Disneyworld, Busch Gardens, or Cedar Point. Nice try, but try again.  This one is bigger.  Some of the rides are faster and more dangerous than anything these could offer. Don’t worry, it’s got the slower rides as well.  It’s got locations all over the world.  You can visit these parks in every city and town across America and the world.  Yes, there’s one right in your home town.  You didn’t know?

This park is called Life.  The question is which rides will you spend your time on?

Do you prefer the roller coasters or merry-go rounds? Will you have the guts to ride the roller coaster, even though you’ve just seen 10 people getting off the ride pale as ghosts?  Will you sit on the merry-go round and just listen to the screams of the scared throngs on those wild and violent rides?  When you ride that fast one that makes you nauseous, you think you’ve had enough, and you can’t take anymore, do you buckle up again, throw your hands in the air and ride it all over again? Or do you go over to the merry-go round and ride in circles.

When I graduated, I started off riding the merry-go round. It was easy.  It was comfortable.  There weren’t any bumps in the road.  The problem was that the view was always the same.  I was always looking at the back end of the same horse.  When I felt like I met the height requirement, I jumped onto another ride.  It was definitely more exciting, but only because the horses on this merry-go round were closer to thoroughbreds than the ponies on the first ride.  Neither ride could match the feelings that I’ve had for the last 4 years.  Yes, the ride is fast and furious.  Yes it has its ups and downs, and even upside downs.  Many times I can’t see the twists and turns that are ahead.  And sometimes I look over at that merry-go round and think about making the switch.  But then I consider the view, and the back end of that horse is pretty unappealing.

Which rides are you going to ride?  Life has rides of all shapes and sizes.  The largest amusement park in the world wouldn’t be complete without the full compliment of rides.  There will be people riding all of them.  Some people will stand in line for hours just to get on one ride.  I would encourage you to try them all. Figure out which ones you prefer.

I like a change in scenery.  I like not knowing what’s next. I cherish the dips, twists, and turns. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I do know they make me a better person.  I’ll look forward to seeing which rides you decide to take.  Congratulations again.  Welcome to LIFE.

May 28, 2010 at 11:07 PM Comments (0)

Is UConn bad for women’s basketball?

There has been quite a bit of talk about the UConn women’s basketball 72 game winning streak. Some of it is positive and some is negative.  I don’t think you can talk negatively about a team winning 72 games.  The criticism is of the sport itself and I think it’s on target.  Right or wrong, the criticism is good for the sport. Number one is that it’s attention. And attention good or bad is attention and more people will watch because of it. Number two, maybe it will make some of these programs step up who consistently underachieve. I think the lack of parity can be partially attributed to coaches who aren’t doing their jobs. Many coaches are only concerned about their next job as opposed to making their student athletes better. We know that high school basketball leaves a lot to be desired. This stems from a lack of fundamental development at young ages because of AAU and high school coaches who have selfish interests. It could be said that the same issues exist in the men’s game but I digress.

The athleticism in men’s basketball makes it more appealing to watch to the average fan. Fans like dunks.  Fans like the high wire acts. It doesn’t mean it’s better basketball. In many cases it’s not. But that doesn’t change the fact that most fans don’t know what good basketball looks like. I’m not even sure about some of the coaches out there. But more fans means more money which is what today’s world all about.

Football is popular because it’s exciting.  It’s fast paced.  I’ve never understood why people like NASCAR racing, but it’s fast.  There’s a reason the smaller circuits don’t get as many fans.  The cars don’t go as fast.  The truck series?  Really?  It’s not even close.

There’s a reason there’s been a decline in the popularity of baseball. It’s boring. Kids don’t like it and they don’t play it. People can say what they want about performance enhancing drugs, but at the end of the day, baseball has made more money and had more fans as a result. Not saying it’s right or wrong.  It just is.  People would rather see somebody hit home runs as opposed to strike people out. Which is more exciting, 10-9 or 1-0? To a baseball purist, maybe 1-0, but to the average fan, 10-9.

Sorry for the tangent, but I think it’s relevant.  Bringing us back to women’s basketball.  People like competition. Close games are more fun to watch. How many times have you heard “they let them come back to keep people watching”? Not that it’s true, but if it’s a blow out, people change the channel, people leave early. People like rivalries. People like excitement. UConn is in Storrs, CT.  That’s not what I would call a big market.  And who wants to see a team win by 20 every night? The reason I don’t like the movies Titanic and Pearl Harbor…I already know what’s going to happen.

I like watching UConn, because I’m more than just a basketball fan. Maybe if I were a movie aficionado, I might have more appreciation for those movies.  In any case, this is a compliment to UConn and a challenge to the rest of women’s college basketball.  STEP UP!!!  Is there really that much of a disparity in talent between one team and all the rest?  Are the players on Geno’s team really that much better than everybody else?  Tina Charles and Maya Moore may be the best two players at their positions, but are the other three players dominant at their positions?  Can teams not figure out a way to at least keep a game close?  Can’t at least one other team at least compete?

When a team wins a basketball game, there’s always more than one reason.  Putting more points on the scoreboard, is more than just making more shots.  It could be shooting better shots, having less turnovers, getting more rebounds, and heck even getting lucky.  When a team wins 72 straight games, there’s more than one reason.  And it looks to me like the UConn program is hitting all the right buttons. From administration, to faculty, coaches, players, managers, and fans, they’ve got a recipe for success. (At least if they aren’t cheating and I seriously doubt that’s the case)

So let’s talk about parity.  If men’s players weren’t allowed to leave for the NBA, you’d have Carolina, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and maybe 10-12 other programs dominating every year with Mid Majors having no chance. But even now, there’s not that much more parity. How many teams outside the power conferences make the Final Four in either men’s or women’s hoops? We might see one this year, but I wouldn’t bet on them going all the way. Last year, all 4 top seeds were in the final four.  Carolina ran through the tournament fairly easily.  If that team was around this year..parity?  No way.  Ok ok…forget hypothetical, but which 16 seed is going to win this weekend?  Yep, exactly.  Back when UCLA won 10 national championships in 12 years, things were extremely different.  The tournament was smaller.  Recruiting was different.  There weren’t as many teams.  There was no 3 point shot.  The list goes on and on.  What they accomplished was difficult.  They deserve credit.  But because of increased parity, that won’t happen again. The sport doesn’t want it to happen again.

And I certainly wouldn’t put any big surprises in the women’s Final Four.  UConn is setting the standard.  And they are setting it high.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  The rest of the teams will catch up…one day. And someone will look back and compare the teams of the future to this team.  And someone will say, well it was different then.  Because the rest of the world will catch up. And it won’t be when UConn loses a game, because they will eventually.  It will be years after when there are scores of teams competing for the top.

Women’s basketball hasn’t been around as long as men’s.  Women haven’t been playing as long.  I don’t know any statistics, but I bet the overwhelming majority of girls who play basketball when they are young do so in an organized setting. Girls don’t play on the playgrounds as much as boys do during their youth. That gap is closing, but there’s still a difference. Just like the 9 year old boy I met a couple weeks ago.  He was spouting off names and stats like they were his multiplication tables.  It’s only one example, but I would wager that there are more of him than there are girls at 9 years old. Many girls touch a basketball for the first time in a parks and recreational or AAU setting at 8 or 9 years old.  Many boys grow up with a basketball in their hand.  Many girls don’t. By 8 or 9 many boys have already played in 2 or 3 years worth of games. They know the rules.  They know where the baseline is.  Again, this doesn’t mean that boys learn to play the game better.  It just means that the men’s game is more advanced.

It’s the same with soccer.  Men’s soccer in America isn’t as good as it is in other countries.  There’s a reason that Canada won the most gold medals in the 2010 Winter Olympics.  People in different climates in different socio-economic backgrounds play different sports.  People with money are more likely to play golf than people without. Could someone out of a low income area be better than Tiger?  Of course, but we may never know. They grow up playing basketball not golf.  Imagine Tiger as a hoopstar.  UNGUARDABLE! Better than Jordan?  He may be “too short”, but his athleticism and mental game on a basketball court would be tough to combat.

Carolina women’s soccer program is another example of domination. They don’t get nearly the attention they deserve either, partly because it’s soccer.  But in the end, it’s been good for women’s soccer.  Other teams are stepping up to the challenge on the recruiting field which translates to the soccer field, but there’s still a ways to go.

History tells us that race and gender have had a big impact in all walks of life.   Racism and gender bias still exist.  If racism has been minimized, it’s been in sports. (One of the reasons sports is great)  Title IX may not have eliminated gender bias, but it has helped.  What it can’t do is change the past.  We’re still working towards overcoming those issues.  I prefer to admit the elephant is in the room and work to make things better.  If we believe things are equal, I believe we’re selling ourselves short.

I’m not a UConn groupie, but I hope they continue to pave the way towards better basketball.  I hope they keep winning until I’m on the sidelines as their opponent.

March 15, 2010 at 9:09 PM Comments (0)

Hypothesis: Mathematics and Basketball exhibit Similitude (Part IIIa)

Given information about basketball (what we know):

In its simplest form, basketball is a sport that consists of one team trying to put a sphere through a ring to score more points than their opponent while they also attempt to keep their opponent from scoring.

(pardon me while I state a few passionate thoughts about basketball)

While it shares similarities with other sports, basketball combines the best attributes of other sports into one.  It is fast paced, high scoring, and dynamic.  It requires the most unique combination of strength, speed, quickness, jumping ability, finesse, and mental fortitude along with the precise execution of all of the fundamental skills by all 5 players in unison. Other sports can boast they they have parts of these, but no sports can say they have them all.

(ok now back to breaking down basketball)

Basketball is played at many levels and by various ages whether in some organized form or on playgrounds and driveways across the world. The game is played according to various rules that can change from playground to playground or country to country. There are countless variations on the standard 5 on 5 game from individual competitive shooting games to 1 on 1 and 21.  Regardless, the fundamentals of the sport remain consistent no matter which version of the game might be played at any given time.

The ability to dribble, pass, and shoot the basketball, as well as the ability to defend are fundamental to the success of any basketball player or team.  There are a variety of techniques used in attempts to successfully execute these fundamentals.  Some techniques are generally accepted to be more successful than other, but the technique becomes irrelevant if the desired outcome is achieved.

The game of basketball starts with the position and movement of the feet, even though the ball is manipulated with the player’s hands.  When an athlete can learn how to move his or her feet quickly and correctly in order to achieve proper body position, the other skills can be executed much more easily.  Clearly, it is not enough to only teach footwork. Proper use of the hands must also be taught in order for a player and team to be successful.

Then coaches get to teach players about body position.  Teaching a player how to be in the right place at all times and how to get from one place to another in the most effective way possible is crucial to a player’s success.

Not to mention, it is important for players to get to those correct positions with and without the basketball. As a result, all of the footwork, hand movements, and body positioning must happen quickly, efficiently, and in the proper sequence in order for the player to be most successful.

It should be apparent that the best basketball players are highly skilled athletes.  Years and years of practice go into developing and perfecting the skills necessary to perform at the highest level.  Young children have not yet developed the strength or coordination to be highly proficient at these skills.  As a result, being able to make one lay-up might be an amazing achievement for them.  On the other hand, a professional basketball player should rarely miss a lay-up.

March 7, 2010 at 8:41 PM Comments (0)

When will we ever learn?

It’s amazing how things work in life. We all make mistakes, we all tell ourselves we’ll never make that mistake again, and yet history repeats itself consistently. Some of us might refrain from repeated blunders, but how many of us just never quite get it?

Everyone has a flaw, at least one. Whether it’s a lack of discipline, organization, confidence, honesty, commitment, loyalty, patience, or some other intangible, we are who we are.  As a result, it can be quite a challenge to actually learn from our mistakes. It can be almost impossible to keep history from repeating.

How do we take ourselves outside of our innate programming and actually “change”? Is it possible? Are we so hardwired whether by nature, nurture, or a combination of both, that we’re unable to really avoid repeating our mistakes? Is it possible to “program” a child or ourselves to literally learn from their mistakes. Instead of teaching them what to do or not to do, is it possible to teach them to analyze a situation as right or wrong and then act in the future based on that how to avoid making that mistake in the future?

December 31, 2009 at 8:14 PM Comments (0)

Should parenting be taught by the government?

http://townhall.com/columnists/ChuckNorris/2009/08/11/dirty_secret_no_1_in_obamacare?page=full

This article really got my gears turning. I think it would be a great discussion over coffee or hot chocolate, in my case.

I’m a firm believer that poor parenting is the major cause of many if not most of the problems in our society today. Whether parents are bad role models, they don’t care, they don’t set and enforce rules, or they spoil their children, better parenting would lead to better performance in schools, lower crime rates, and higher fiscal responsibility. If fewer people had credit card debt, there were fewer people in jail, and students did their homework, just think about how much better society would be.

I feel like I am blessed to have good parents. Wait a minute, let me correct that, GREAT parents. Am I perfect? Of course not, but I know they are a large reason why I am who I am. I believe they could raise any child to be a productive citizen in our society.

That doesn’t mean there’s a secret formula or some magic pill to great parenting. I’m sure my siblings and myself were all raised differently. The variables in raising children are constantly changing. The fact that I had no older siblings would make things different for me. Technology changes things. Society changes things. I’m still confident that they figured it out and made great parents regardless of the situation.

How did they know how? It sure wasn’t through some government subsidized class. As good as these intentions may be, somebody is a little too idealistic. The government has enough trouble running itself. And now they want to get into individual homes and try to run those? I can just imagine the expensive bureaucracy that would be created in such an endeavor. Besides the fact that it’s a complete invasion of our rights as people, it would just mean more wasted money and time.

And Chuck Norris is right. There are just as many rich parents who need help with parenting as there are poor ones. While there are many problems with low income neighborhoods, there are plenty of rich people who don’t know how to truly care for their children. Buying them stuff to make them happy is not the answer.

I can see it now.  “Parenting Police”  They walk through the mall, see an instance of poor parenting, and slap cuffs on the parents or write them a ticket.  Or they go door to door doing random inspections of parenting methods.  While better parenting would make things much better, I don’t think this is the solution.  The best experts on parenting are parents themselves. You don’t need a PhD in psychology to be a good parent.  How many parents want to admit that they aren’t good parents?  That would an interesting statistic. What if a parent thinks they are doing a great job?  Regardless of what anyone else thinks, should they be subject to the “Parenting Police”?

I don’t usually get caught up in political agendas and discussions.  They are fun to discuss but I’m not about to lose any sleep. I just found this one a little interesting. Feel free to make your own drop in the bucket….

August 11, 2009 at 9:47 PM Comments (3)

The phenomenon of “o’clock”

Has anyone ever wondered why we gravitate towards starting events at “something o’clock”?  If the day comes that I get married, do you think my future wife would have a fit if I wanted the ceremony to start at say 5:37?  Would it be terrible if everyone had to be at work by 7:09? Maybe it’s “easier” to start things at “o’clock”.  Maybe we’re just lazy to try and remember anything else.  Maybe TV shows start at “o’clock” to give them excuses for more commercials.  But remember when TBS started all their shows at :05.  They don’t do that anymore do they?

The funny thing is that the Super Bowl always starts at 6:18 or 6:23 or something, and they always find time for commercials.  They never have trouble selling spots either.  Granted, the Super Bowl for a football fan is a Christian’s Easter, but since when does the sun always rise or set at “o’clock”? Not that it really matters.  And it’s not that I’m complaining. Maybe it’s not a phenomenon after all.  I just wonder if this was just a “natural occurrence” or something that someone famous started one day and everyone just followed.  Or maybe there’s a more logical explanation.  Any ideas? I was just wondering……….

August 5, 2009 at 9:18 PM Comments (0)

I like complexity.

As was noted, the title is such a simple statement, yet infinitely meaningful.  Does it remind you of any other phrases?  How about “constantly changing”?  Maybe you can comment with others.

I don’t know that any other statement can sum me up quite as well as that one. I like complex people. I like complex situations. I like complex tasks. Simple people tend to bore me.  Not that many people are really that simple, but some people are uncomfortable with their complexity. I enjoy being able to delve into what makes us tick.  Exploring the summation of our experiences, which have been impacted by countless variables, is exciting. Analyzing these variables, which are completely out of our control, yet shape our lives is fascinating. To deny this complexity is at best irresponsible and at worst dangerous.

Life is going to throw a variety of pitches my way.  Thank goodness they aren’t all straight fastballs.  Sometimes it’s a curve, sometimes it’s a slider.  Sometimes it might even be a knuckleball.  I might not even hit for a very high average, but I’ll figure it out one day and then I might go on a 162 game hit streak.  If you only swing at the fastballs, you’ll never learn how to hit the rest.  Bring on the complexity of life.  If anyone wants to get on base in front of me, I’ll do my best to knock you in.

It’s really simple. You never know what life’s going to throw at you, so stay on your toes and be ready for anything.  That’s not that complex is it?

July 27, 2009 at 9:21 PM Comments (0)

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