Kids These Days: Part I

I’m convinced my dad would be ranked number one in the world if there was a category for Masterful Parental Manipulation With a Sports Emphasis.

I think about him every time I walk past a parent going off on some little kid because he isn’t performing. Then I fight the urge to stop and scream “Amateur!” at the top of my lungs. [At the parent, not the kid. Kids are supposed to be amateur, for anyone who’s forgotten.]

There are certainly lots of complexities and nuances to parenting in general and parenting a potential sports superstar in particular today and no one knows everything. Even so, the notion that the only way to get results is by verbally whipping them after each and every failure from the minute they are born onward is completely erroneous. That is just one motivational approach out of hundreds that have historically been used to motivate professionals across industry. There’s never only one way to execute a goal. CEOs know that.

I feel it’s my responsibility as a former player, sometimes coach and current fan (of most sports) to debunk this philosophy, considering I was raised and mentored by someone who “got it right.”

Let’s say that, hypothetically, this is us:

griffins-playing-basketball

Twenty-five years ago my dad used to arrive home in his old pickup truck after an epic commute in rush hour to Fort Worth and begin the excruciating process of taping up both of his knees (I swear the man has kept Mueller in business), throwing on his Russell sweatpants, lacing up his Reebok high tops, wrangling his three kids and walking (yes, walking) over to the local high school for a game of pickup.

There weren’t any recreation centers on that side of town until we started leaving for college so we were stuck with the poor man’s version and that suited us just fine. The walk was followed by games during which he fought tirelessly to get at least one or two of his fun-size athletes into the mix for a chance to run with the high schoolers and adults who always seemed to arrive with something to prove.

He’s old school so just imagine the kinds of calls he made throughout the game. Foul. Travel. Carry. Three seconds. That’s just during the game; he had another set of rules to get to tipoff. My kids play on my team. (He wasn’t into trades, not that the other team was looking.) If that one got rejected due to the minimum height requirement, he’d invoke his “substitution rule” which enabled him to swap kids on a made bucket. Substitution during pickup? Who is this guy? Sometimes he’d make us go over and call next, just to build character. And let’s not get into swearing regulations and penalties. The man’s rules had rules.

So far it’s sounding pretty on par with lots of kids’ experiences growing up with a sports-centric dad in the U.S. during the 90s, right? Here’s the difference. [WARNING: This is a secret of the universe.]

Everything he did in relation to sports, every action, reaction and interaction, flowed from the same anchor point: Enthusiasm. He had unmatched personal enthusiasm for the game. He still does. He just loves basketball. He’d love basketball in a vacuum. He’d sit in that vacuum talking about it for hours, baffling the world’s greatest scientists. Because of this enthusiasm, I wanted to be a part of it. We all did. It was unintentionally artful. He made it look like so much fun.

In this way, he incubated our love of the game for years until we were ready to address the hard questions. Am I good enough to play in college? Even if I’m good enough, will I be given the opportunity? If not, how am I going to pay for school? Around this same age he also made us aware of the financial commitments of summer leagues and tournaments. Driving to Louisiana or Oklahoma was a big decision for our family of five. He told us to take it seriously. The takeaway here is that in his mind “taking it seriously” always translated to “maximum effort” and not performance specifics.

Don’t get me wrong; I had my fair share of car rides home with him from terrible games where we re-hashed every play, every shot and every decision I made on the floor. Those were excruciating but they happened at 16, 17, 18. I played for aggressive, militant coaches in high school and college. There’s nothing wrong with a high bar and relentless standards and being pushed. That’s to be expected, most times, when you compete at a high level. That’s a different conversation, though.

Looking back, my dad had two things going for him. He had the right approach (win them over with my enthusiasm) and he had the right goal (time spent together doing something we all love). He always cared more about whether we were good people than good athletes. That formula can be pretty powerful in life. It can produce results. It can produce kids who end up being both.

Turns out Peter Berg (click here) and John McEnroe agree with me.

In Part II of this article we’ll discuss their thoughts on the current sports parenting climate and why it’s something that’s worth getting worked up about.

written by – A.M. Boidock

Monday Afternoon Overreaction

A timeline in my (admittedly hoops-junky) world over the last 4 days of NBA Playoffs:

Friday:

Chicago Bulls WIN:  Will the REAL Derrick Rose please stand up!?!?  Seeing Derrick Rose play the way we ALL HOPED he would play after coming back from 10 years of injuries (last time he was healthy in a playoff game, Game of Thrones was beginning it’s third season).  He’s a bulldog on the court with the instincts of a Summa Cum Laude Harvard grad-Meerkat.

Rose hit a game-winner at the buzzer to beat the Cleveland Lebrons 99-96 on Friday night, after coming off a ball-screen on a seemingly broken play.  Rose found the space to rise up and get the shot off over Tristan Thompson (why didn’t JR Smith and Thompson double him hard?), which made me uncontrollably utter out-loud like a basketball Rain ManHOLY SHIT, D-Rose is back.

***sidenote: Seriously, what the hell happened to the Cavs?  Kevin Love goes down, Kyrie Irving isn’t 100% healthy, now it’s the Cavs of  2008-2010 all over again??  If Lebron doesn’t go 30-10-10, they got no shot at winning.  JR Smith, KING of the terrible shot, is a BIG part of their offense right now…how’d that work out for EVERY other team he’s played for?  Sorry Knicks fans, that was a low-blow.  AND WHY WASN’T LEBRON guarding D-Rose on that final play!?!?

Los Angeles Clippers WIN BIG:  Hey Houston, how’d that hack-a-Jordan strategy work out for ya in that 124-99 ASSSSSS-WHOOOOOOOOPIN??  This game was the beginning of the downfall of the Houston Rockets, AKA the era of Dwight Howard.  JJ Redick shot 11-14 from the floor and 5-6 from threes on his way to 31 points in the game, HOW DO YOU LET JJ REDICK drop 31 on your face in the playoffs??  And as if that wasn’t enough, Austin Rivers put in 25 points off the bench to add a Triumph The Insult Comic Dog to the injury that was Houston’s defense.  Was I too hasty on my “Daddy’s boy-lucky to be in the league” analysis of Austin Rivers???  Or is Houston THAT bad?

Saturday:

The Memphis Grizzlies are apparently for real again:  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Mike Conley is the most underrated point guard in the NBA.  He sat out game 1 because of his broken face.

17715276-mmmain Mike-Conley-050615

The Grizz lost game 1 at Golden State 101-86, BUT when Conley came back in game 2, Memphis stole a road-win 97-90, then on Saturday they took a 2-1 series lead back at home in Memphis after a 99-89 victory that sent Warriors fans into a spiral of despair wondering if the baby-faced assassin had met his match.  Right now, Tony Allen OWNS Klay Thompson and Steph Curry.  The Warriors are in trouble.

The Washington Wizards and Ole-Man-River with a big win:

In a playoff series that I honestly couldn’t care less about, Paul Pierce made it interesting for at least one night.  John Wall out with a broken hand makes this a who cares cause you’re gonna loose in the next round anyway series. 

***sidenote:  I have inside information that Colin Cowherd (racist) broke John Wall’s hand using telepathy and out-of-touch-white-guy voodoo, so he could have something to pontificate about on his radio show.  Thus proving his hypothesis that dancing the “Dougie” will eventually lead to hand injuries and the lack of a jump-shot.

Sunday:

Setting:  Mother’s Day, fancy-nice-collared shirt restaurant for brunch/lunch.

What I’m doing:  Sitting the wrong way at the table, eyes glued to the TV over at the bar ignoring any mother who isn’t dribbling a basketball or offering me an alcoholic brunch drink.

  • Just under 3 minutes left, the score was 80-74 Cavs.  Plenty of time for JR Smith to do something stupid.  Also, I’m on my 4th mimosa and the eggs benedict is starting to look like a bad choice.
  • 30 seconds left, Jimmy Butler shakes loose and hits a three bringing the Bulls within 2 points, 84-82.  I’m the only one in the bar watching the game, an omelet cart rolls past me, it smells terrific.
  • Lebron is doubled by Dunleavy and Derrick Rose, Lebron elbows (?) Dunleavy in the face sending him to the floor for the offensive foul (I haven’t seen acting like that since Dunleavy’s dad ACTED like a head coach).  There’s that damn omelet cart again.
  • 9 seconds left, Derrick Rose drives past Shumpert and hits a layup (nice defense kid-n-play), again why isn’t Lebron guarding Rose in these tight game situations?  Tie ball game!!  I’m yelling at the TV sitting next to a 75 year old grandmother eating chocolate cake.  Screw it, gimme a Denver omelet, no onions, no peppers.  YES, I know that’s just a ham omelet.
  • 4 seconds left, Lebron drives the lane and is HACKED and PUSHED by Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler, NO CALL!?!?  Cavs ball, under the hoop.  I can’t believe they didn’t call that foul AND OF COURSE I’d like a Bellini!!!!
  • Refs check the clock, set it at 1.5 seconds.  in-bounds play consisting of Lebron saying gimme the damn ball…Lebron fade-away GOOD!!!!  HE HIT IT, HE HIT IT!  HOLY SHIT!  Everyone in the restaurant looks at me as if I just threw up green chile on the grandma next to me.  As I’m yelling (respectfully under my breath), I knock an orange juice off the table, but nothing to fear…it wasn’t a mimosa, just a regular orange juice.  The grandson on the other side of me cries.

   

Man, the Rockets are terrible.  They’ve given up completely:

The hack-a-Jordan doesn’t work, the only team that could even come close to making it work was the Spurs because they have 3 HOFers and a HOF coach.  The Rockets have NONE of that, unless you count their coach when he was a player.  I love how there’s all this chatter about how Dwight Howard has been working with Hakeem Olajuwon on his post game, at what point will we see anything that resembles an Olajuwon move?

It’s very disappointing to see James Harden give up like this.  Dwight Howard seems to suck the life-blood out of every team he’s a part of like a 7-foot vampire with a fohawk.  I hate to say things like “that guy will NEVER win a championship” about anyone, but seriously…Dwight Howard will NEVER win a championship.

Mid-Playoff Predictions:

Chicago Bulls VS. Golden State Warriors in the NBA Championship

Chicago Bulls win in 6 games.