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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sit On Your Couch, Improve Your Hoops Game - NBA Edition

Yesterday we took a look at what you can learn by watching the disciplined college kids play basketball. Today we will look at what you can learn from watching the pros slug up and down the court.

There are many difference between the NBA and NCAA basketball games, and the most apparent is the apparent selfish nature of most NBA players. These guys make big money and need to keep their stats up to ensue the dough keeps coming in. There are, however, examples from some of the greatest to play the game that you can learn from to improve your game.

1. The Larry Bird Lesson –"A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals."

Bird is probably one of the best examples of someone who looked honestly in the mirror, saw what talent he had and perfected it. Not blessed with the quickest feet or highest vertical, Bird honed the skills he was given to make himself one of the NBA’s all time greats. Bird realized early how to get open and nail a jumper, even though he often times had the other team’s best defender guarding him. The lesson you can learn is that if you cannot dunk, don’t try to, instead learn to get open and practice your jumpers. Your teammates will notice your skills and call on you at opportune times. To paraphrase this lesson, Bird also said, "First master the fundamentals."

2. The Dennis Rodman Lesson – “I want to do for rebounds what Michael Jordan did for dunks.”

Rodman wasn’t ever the tallest guy on the floor, measuring out at 6 ft 8 in, but what Rodman lacked in size he made up for in his ability to be in perfect position for every rebound. Although he was most noted for his outrageous hairstyles and multiple tattoos, Rodman NBA for a record 7 consecutive seasons. He perfected defensive positioning and had a knack for knowing exactly where a carom would come off. The take away from Rodman is that basketball isn’t just a game of who can jump the highest or shoot the furthest, but rather if you learn the intricacies of where to position your body for rebounds or to steal a pass or take a charge, then you will help your team in as big of a way as hitting the game winning 3 pointer.

3. The LeBron James Lesson - "Sometimes the coaches tell me to be selfish, but my game won’t let me be selfish."

Everyone in the world knows that LeBron can score every time he touches the ball. LeBron knows it, his coaches know it, the opposition knows it. What makes LeBron the payer he is, is that since everyone in the arena is expecting him to drive or pull up for the J, he has his eyes on the court surveying the D and his teammates to see where he can dish the ball when the opposition collapses. What makes LeBron the best player in the game isn’t his nearly 30 ppg average, but it is his 30 ppg average combines with his nearly 7 assists-per-game. Taking a chapter out of LeBron’s book, you can learn that being a team makes you the best on the floor, more so than just averaging the most points. Look for your teammates, not only will they appreciate it, but it will help you get past a defender who thinks you are going to dish the ball.

4. The Shaquille O’Neal Lesson - "Me shooting 40% at the foul line is just God's way to say nobody's perfect."

How would you feel to be the best player on your team, maybe your league and not be in there for the final few minutes of the game? This is what Shaq has suffered through the majority of his career. The best lesson you can learn from Shaq is to practice your free throws. If you cannot hit clutch free throws late in the game you probably won’t see the floor time as the game winds down. The opposition can spot quickly if you can hit free throws and will take advantage of deficiencies. If they know you cannot hit free throws and you have the ball as the game is coming to a close, they probably will try and get you on the line. If you can nail the free throws, you can seal the game with your shooting.

Some of the NBA greats above are long since retired, but you can still learn lessons derived from their playing days. You can also form your own lessons while watching some of the current crop of NBA superstars. Players like Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard also qualities about them that you can learn from to improve your game.

If you pay attention to other things while watching an NBA game, tell us about them in the comments section.

Keep sporting!
- Who’s In First

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