Thursday, November 03, 2005

 

Get Under The Bus

MINOR LEAGUE POLITICS

It's interesting that 'sources' say there is some GOP pressure for Karl Rove to step down because he hasn't been cleared yet, and the ongoing investigation taints the Oval Office. As much as I abhor Rove's brand of politics, I couldn't agree less. Karl Rove has not been indicted, and lobbying behind "closed" (read "leaky") doors for his resignation is motivated by the same type of political gamesmanship that prompted White House leaders to cherry pick intelligence findings on Iraq. How disloyal and disingenous they are, to sacrifice the man who won them two presidencies in a Bush league move to salvage the 2006 midterm elections.

BCB
 

Unqualified?

A DIFFERENT LIBBY

Look at this person's qualifications to be U.S. President:

DUKE UNIV. PHI BETA KAPPA
HARVARD LAW SCHOOL
HARVARD UNIV. Master's in Gov't and in Education
DEPUTY ASST. CONSUMER AFFAIRS TO A PRESIDENT
SEC. OF TRANSPORTATION
SEC. OF LABOR
PRES. OF AMERICAN RED CROSS
U.S. SENATOR, NORTH CAROLINA

(were this person a man, the person would occupy our highest office. But it's Sen. Elizabeth Dole)

BCB
 

Playlist

IN YOUR EAR

"Evil" Earth, Wind and Fire

"Just One More Day" Otis Redding

"Bug-a-Boo" Destiny's Child

"Exactly Like You" Art Tatum

"Get At Me Dog" DMX

"Stop The Wedding" Etta James

"Roto Rooter" Bootsy's Rubber Band

"In The Heat of the Night" Ray Charles

"The Love I Never Had" Tavares

"Ring of Fire" Johnny Cash

"Needle In A Haystack" The Velvelettes

BCB
 

The "I" Word Cometh

SADDAM SHAME

Bull Moose thinks it's on in D.C. :

Thursday, November 03, 2005
High Crimes and Misdemeanors
The Moose raises the specter of the "I" word.Congressional Democrats are settling on a "narrative" and a "frame" for the Iraq War. In essence, their argument is that the President and his Administration practiced massive deceit to lead the nation to war - that they manufactured and manipulated intelligence. In other words, the narrative goes, the President knew there were no weapons of mass destruction and deliberately lied to the Congress and the American people on the road to war. Or as the anti-war movement inelegantly frames it, "Bush lied and Americans died."The logical extension of this argument is that its advocates should call for impeachment of the President. If there was ever a "high crime and misdemeanor" it is deliberate deceit to lead the country to war. Some of the outer reaches of the left have already reached this conclusion. Is this where the leaders of the party are headed? It sure seems so by the argument that they are now employing.

(the caveat is, the GOP has an edge in the House and Senate. A drastic voter swing in '06 is the only way impeachment can be even remotely discussed)

BCB

Sunday, October 31, 2004

 

New Site

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

If you've been directed or linked to this site, please go here for my current web home and blog

www.bbayne.com

Thank you,

Bijan C. Bayne

(my weekly sports columns may be read at www.dreamwired.com, and my monthly book reviews at www.quietpoly.com)- BCB

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

 

About Me

Bijan C. Bayne is the author of "Sky Kings: Black Pioneers of Professional Basketball", which was named to the Suggested Reading List of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004.
In July 2002, he won the Robert Peterson Research Award for his presentation "The Struggle of the Latin American Ballplayer", given at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. Bayne's chapter on Black baseball in North Carolina appears in the book "Baseball in the Carolinas" (McFarland 2002). His essay on schoolyard basketball will appear in the anthology "Basketball in America" (Haworth 2005).

Bayne has guest lectured on the social significance of the life of Jackie Robinson each year since 1996 at The George Washington University, at classes, and events such as Charter Day 1996 and Unity Week in 1999. His travel articles have appeared in AAA Horizons, Family Digest and National Hotel Executive, and his book reviews have been featured in Washington Post Book World, The Boston Herald, and The Crisis. He is a columnist for the Fantasy Sports magazine DreamCoach, and the corresponding website Dreamwired (see www.dreamwired.com)

 

Here, Here

HOMECOMING

Hats off to the thousands of Washingtonians (be they technically in Md., Va., and even those who didn't live to see this day) who helped bring baseball back to the Nation's Capital. The Mayor, and MLB officials will be the stars of the press conference, but behind the scenes since 1972, many fans purchased season tickets to teams that never materialized, lobbied Congress, wrote letters, boycotted the Orioles, created organizations and websites, staged rallies, called talk shows, wore Senators paraphenalia, prayed, and maintained The Faith. The beneficiaries will be the many schoolchildren will now grow up on baseball.

BCB

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

 

Home

DEJA VU

After a brief techno-glitch, I'm safe at www.bbayne.com. We're open all night

BCB

bijanc@hotmail.com

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

 

Booklist

Read Alert-

These are the outstanding books I read over the past year. They helped me endure a lot of flights and airports.

The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi- Arthur Japin
The Bonesetter's Daughter- Amy Tang
In the Empire of Genghis Khan- Stanley Stewart
Interpreter of Maladies- Jhumpa Lahiri
Captives: Britain, Empire and the World 1600-1850- Linda Colley
Route 66 A.D.- Tony Perottet
Travels with a Tangerine: A Journey in the Footnotes of Ibn Battutah- Tim McKintosh-Smith
DiMaggio: The Hero's Life- Richard Ben Cramer
Lombardi: When Pride Still Mattered- David Maranis
King Rat- James Clavell
My Losing Season- Pat Conroy
Nature Via Nurture- Matt Ridley
The Baseball Fan's Companion- Nick Bakalar
Hot Potato: How Washington and New York Gave Birth to Black Basketball and Changed America's Game Forever- Bob Kuska

 

Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana Inns

It’s All Inn Fun: Eventful Fall Weekends at Regional B & B’s

by Bijan C. Bayne

For many Ohioans, the arrival of fall in the Buckeye State signifies football season and weekend
dates with a rake. Others welcome the autumn months as the time to scout friendly bed and breakfasts. Whether you fancy antiques, chocolate, nature, or romantic getaways, there are inns in and around Ohio to suit your taste. What better time than fall to visit a bed and breakfast- the leaves are changing and the weather is temperate for walking and browsing. Some inns host seasonal events such as murder mystery weekends, gourmet chocolate tastes or art exhibits.

If theater’s your thing, you’ll enjoy a visit to Patrick House, an 1855 Greek revival inn located in Urbana, Ohio. Only 55 minutes from Dayton and an hour from Cincinnati, the inn periodically hosts two fun-filled special events- gourmet chocolate tastings and murder mystery weekends. The chocolate tastes are a visual and confectionary treat. Patrick House is the only Ohio inn affiliated with chocolatier Sweet Affair. Murder Mystery Weekends are a blast. Guests are given handouts that describe the major characters involved. The Champaign Community Players act out a drama based on a theme, and guests participate as bit players. When the murder is committed, guests attempt to solve the mystery based on clues heard in the dialogue and in their character handouts. Part of the fun is mingling with both the lead characters and your fellow guests. The suspect whom the most guests vote guilty is rendered such.
Urbana is also convenient to Ohio Caverns, the Piatt Castles, and Rothschild Farms and restaurant. Innkeeper Sandi Peterson can provide directions and brochures. For dinner, try the Derr Road Inn, where white-tailed deer graze on the premises.

Patrick House, 301 Scioto St., Urbana, Oh. Contact by e-mail at http://by1fd.bay1.hotmail.msn.com/cgi-bin/compose?mailto=1&msg=MSG1094274930.36&start=1761331&len=12506&src=&type=x&to=sanspete%40ctn%2enet&cc=&bcc=&subject=&body=&curmbox=F000000001&a=b97646f54b8c0814ca2d8ef6ca0805f9or by telephone at 877-233-1370. Innkeeper Sandi Peterson.

For a weekend in Norman Rockwell’s America, there’s The College Inn in Westerville, Ohio. Situated on the tree-lined, All-American campus of Otterbein College, this B & B is only 11 minutes from Columbus, Westerville hosts an arts festival in July. Dilapidated for 50 years, the inn was restored by local native and current innkeeper Becky Rohrer. Relax in the bay-windowed library with a good book, or chat in the formal dining room. Bamboo palm trees, Eastern artwork and cozy armchairs combine to relax the senses. The town is the perfect place to witness the leaves changing colors. It doesn’t get more Middle American than this. If Otterbein is playing a home football game, the sounds of festive band music will stir memories of school spirit.

The College Inn is only a few blocks from the Benjamin Hanby Memorial the 19th century home of a local abolitionist best known for composing the Christmas carol "Up on the Housetop". A leisurely Saturday stroll on State St. may include art galleries, lunch, or browsing at Amish Originals Furniture store. The main drag is thriving with residents with the same idea. On the way back to the inn, visit the Used or Rare Bookstore.
Westerville was the birthplace of the Temperance Movement, and the town is still "dry". Your best bet for dinner is the artsy Table of Contents on 377 West Main Street. It’s minimally-staffed, but has an eclectic atmosphere accented by Fiesta pottery and vivid paintings. The entrees change periodically. Don’t miss the mango cheesecake or the blueberry bread pudding.

The College Inn, 63 West College Ave., Westerville, Ohio. The website is http://by1fd.bay1.hotmail.msn.com/cgi-bin/compose?mailto=1&msg=MSG1094274930.36&start=1761331&len=12506&src=&type=x&to=CIBnb%40aol%2ecom%2c&cc=&bcc=&subject=&body=&curmbox=F000000001&a=b97646f54b8c0814ca2d8ef6ca0805f9 or telephone 888-794-3090. Innkeeper Becky Rohrer.

For nature walkers, Cedar Hill Bed and Breakfast in Wilmington, Ohio is situated near trails and parks. The inn consists of both a large log home and a carriage house. Cedar Hill is an hour from Cincinnati, 40 minutes from Dayton. Caesar’s Creek Gorge and state park are a short drive- the gorge is made of limestone bedrock 180 feet high. Nearby Harveysburg is home to a museum housed in Ohio’s first school for Black children, built in 1831.
The inn’s special events include Murder Mystery weekends in January and March, and "Chocolate Lovers’ Month’ in February. The Murder Mystery here is acted out in the carriage house and the log home, with guests and Wilmington College students as players. During Chocolate Lovers’ Month, everything from the goodies in the gathering room to the breakfast crepes are chocolate.

The McCarron’s can give you tips on a scenic hike during which you may see deer. Drive into town for a sandwich at Jim’s Deli inside Books ‘n’ More on West Main Street. It doesn’t take much to picture this street 70 years ago. On Main you’ll see the stately Murphy Theater, built in 1918 by early Chicago Cubs owner Charles Murphy. Notables such as Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds, and The Oak Ridge Boys have performed at the Murphy. The theater appeared in the1989 film "Lost in Yonkers", and actor John Ritter was married there. Wilmington hosts a Banana Split Festival the first week of June and a Corn Festival the weekend after Labor Day. The Renaissance Festival runs each weekend from late August to October 18. In nearby Lebanon are the Indian mounds at Fort Ancient State Memorial.

Innkeeper Rick McCarron’s wafer-thin crepes are a morning delight. An additional treat are the homemade oatmeal cookies in the carriage house. Be sure to visit Ye Old Grandpa’s Pottery Barn, owned by the Storers. Built in 1850 next to an Underground Railroad farmhouse, the stately old white barn houses a pottery company whose work is sold to Germany, Australia and Thailand. Grandpa’s is open until 6 p.m. Saturdays. Top off the evening with dinner at the Spillway Lodge, a restaurant with hearty American fare and a lakeside view.
Cedar Hill, 4003 State Route 73 West, Wilmington, Oh. Telephone 877-722-2525. E-mail cedarbb@hotmail.com. Innkeepers Joan and Rick McCarron.

An hour west of Cincinnati and 30 minutes from Oxford, Ohio in Brookville, Indiana, The Hermitage was once owned by 19th century Indiana painters J. Ottis Adams and T.C. Steele. Martha Shea has run it as a bed and breakfast for five years. The inn hosts a fall event known as "Art at the Hermitage", where 12 artists and craftspeople exhibit their works under tented areas. There is instrumental music, patriotic song, and bluegrass banjo playing on the 112 foot long veranda. Antiques abound here, from the grand piano and pump organ to the implements from the original artists’ studios. A chandelier dates to a Presbyterian church in 1852, and the house features a window constructed from bottle bottoms.
Enjoy lunch at Hearthstone, a restaurant used in the movie "Rain Man" (they have a Rain Man Room).

The Hermitage is an ideal inn to visit in early October during Canal Days which attracts 250,000 people and 700 to 800 flea market vendors. The Christmas Walk in Metamora, Indiana is also popular, the lighting spectacular takes place each weekend from Thanksgiving to the weekend prior to Christmas. Both Canal Days and the Christmas walk feature passenger rides along the Whitewater River Valley Railroad. Metamora’s arts and crafts shops are open year-round.

The Hermitage, 650 East 8th St., Brookville, In. Contact The Hermitage at 877-407-9198 or http://by1fd.bay1.hotmail.msn.com/cgi-bin/compose?mailto=1&msg=MSG1094274930.36&start=1761331&len=12506&src=&type=x&to=hermitage%40cnz%2ecom&cc=&bcc=&subject=&body=&curmbox=F000000001&a=b97646f54b8c0814ca2d8ef6ca0805f9. Innkeeper Martha Shea.

There are several charming inns just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. Ash-ley House in Newport, Kentucky is lavishly appointed with stained glass windows, tapestries, and rooms that afford a breathtaking view of the Cincinnati skyline. Seldom will you feel so private while so close to a city. Bask in the relaxation of a Jacuzzi tub. The shops and dining of Newport-on-the-Levee are a few blocks away. There’s also the Newport Aquarium, and The Peace Bell. Newport’s Basilica of Notre Dame boasts the largest church stained glass window in the world. A must lunch stop is nearby Pompillio’s, where the "toothpick scene" in "Rain Man" was shot.
Debi Peace is the innkeeper of Ash-ley House, on 310 East Third St. In Newport, Ky. Call 859-291-1114.

Located minutes from Cincinnati, the Amos Shinkle House in Covington, Kentucky is a riverfront inn rich in period furniture and intriguing lore. The Shinkle was built in 1854 and once owned by C & O railroad exec John Spalding. Much of the furniture is original to the house, co-owner Don Nash purchased it at an estate sale in 1971. The inn’s seven guests rooms sleep 21, and the carriage house sleeps 15 in four rooms. The breakfast specialty here is the German Apple Puff. There are handsome four poster beds, stately armoires, music boxes, and an antique mantle clock that was a gift to the Spalding’s from Diamond Jim Brady. The art deco glass and tile theme in one second floor bathroom evokes a Joan Crawford movie. Be sure to tour the carriage house with its equestrian decor. During slavery, runaways were hidden in the hayloft.

The Amos Shinkle House is at 215 Garrad St., Covington, Ky. Call 1-800-972-7012 or http://by1fd.bay1.hotmail.msn.com/cgi-bin/compose?mailto=1&msg=MSG1094274930.36&start=1761331&len=12506&src=&type=x&to=amosshinkle%40yahoo%2ecom&cc=&bcc=&subject=&body=&curmbox=F000000001&a=b97646f54b8c0814ca2d8ef6ca0805f9. Innkeepers Bernie Moorman and Don Nash.

For couples seeking a romantic weekend less than five minutes from Cincinnati, it’s tough to beat Covington’s lovely Wallace House. Built in 1905 the octagonal Queen Anne victorian commands a corner in a section that was once the summer getaway for Cincinnati tycoons such as department store magnate John Shillito. The interior is tasteful luxury, both suites and bathrooms are spacious. Guests are welcome to watch movies or play billiards in the large Common Room. The Room With a View features a skylight. The creative innkeepers Jenni and Bill Woodruff vividly decorate the veranda and lawn for Halloween.
Restaurant recommendations include the Syndicate (think "Rat Pack" movies and Chicago steak) and Marco’s, a classy spot with a singing guitarist. You may choose from macadamia crusted ruby trout, pecan chicken, salmon with basil or chicken and broccoli penne pasta. As the vocalist asks for requests, savor the butterscotch pie, bread pudding or Italian love cake. Friendly innkeepers, small college football, brilliantly colored oaks- such traditions beckon tourists to these small town treasures.

Wallace House, 120 Wallace Ave., Covington, Ky. Phone 888-942-8177 or e-mail http://by1fd.bay1.hotmail.msn.com/cgi-bin/compose?mailto=1&msg=MSG1094274930.36&start=1761331&len=12506&src=&type=x&to=info%40wallacehousebb%2ecom%2e&cc=&bcc=&subject=&body=&curmbox=F000000001&a=b97646f54b8c0814ca2d8ef6ca0805f9 Innkeepers Jenni and Bill Woodruff.

 

Spa Interview

THE EXECUTIVE TREATMENT: THE SPA OF THE NEAR FUTURE:
It seems almost every upscale property that does not have a spa is adding one. What characteristics and treatments will distinguish the spa of the next few years. Bijan C. Bayne spoke with Darlene Davison, Spa Director of the Don Cesar Beach Resort & Spa in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Bayne: Ms. Davison, where is the hotel spa industry headed?

Davison: In the next few years, pampering spas will continue their merge into wellness centers. With society having so little time and so much stress, they will be seeking new ways to incorporate their health care into their vacations and vice versa. Spas will be competing for healthcare dollars that aging baby boomers are ready to spend on anti-aging treatments. Another focus will be on the fact people are retiring much older (even social security retirement age has changed) and need to compete in a young work force, so anti-aging treatments will be the key for that whole age group. Our competition will be coming from doctors, who are becoming discouraged with the HMO’s. They’re opening their own medical spas, which will be the wave of the future. So my approach, in a resort atmosphere is that I can have a two-fold agenda. We can pamper and schmooze and leave the guest with an overall feeling of wellness.
We’re doing microdermibrasion and endermology. Endermology is an incredible machine process that takes away all the cellulite and extra added fat cells. People have these procedures in packages of 10 treatments. When they reach their desired level, then it’s a question of maintenance. That type of treatment is an example of the long term commitments baby boomers will be making.
A broader service menu will be needed in order to incorporate wellness modalities and alternative therapies. Spa directors will be coordinating lecture/educational activities, health/wellness programs. Spa treatments and programs (including anti-aging and stress reduction), exercising/fitness programs, nutrition and weight reduction programs, and developing total treatment programs for guests whose goal is to go home wiser and healthier as a result of their vacation or business trip
Nutrition is really a key important factor in this. I just interviewed a doctor who is a nutritionist, a personal trainer, a sports director, and a lifestyle therapist much like "Dr. Phil". He will conduct seminars of lifestyle change, wellness seminars.
When guests come in on the fly, they want to do things they don’t have time for at home. There are the personal training sessions, nutrition sessions, energy balance massages, treatments to balance the chakras. We will be able to provide both long and short term care. This is what baby boomers are asking for. We just had a 41-year old guest who’s pregnant, and we’re seeing this more often. People are getting their careers all set before they start their families.
My job focus is to research new techniques, and to personalize these treatments. To broaden our service menu, we add alternative therapies. We coordinate seminars for our guests, allow them to have wellness sessions with a doctor.

Bayne: Where will spa directors find novel ideas?

Davison: It’s an education. I will have to study more international cultures, because their wellness and beauty treatments are far ahead of ours.

Bayne: Is that because some of their treatments are impractical for your market?

Davison: No, we’re not privvy to it. My job is to do some study with other spa directors who may have traveled to Europe or Asian countries. I belong to ISPA, a national organization of spa directors and owners. It’s a phenomenal networking organization. We bounce ideas off each other. The association is having a a four day seminar soon, which I’ll be attending, with 60 other spa directors. A large focus will be on versatile, well-trained technicians versed in a variety of modalities. A cross-trained tech will be of great value to any spa (i.e. a massage therapist will need to know reflexology, energy balancing, stress reduction techniques, just to start and then add cranial- sacral, aromatherapy and many other modalities). More and more therapists are getting aestheticians’ licenses. Spa directors will be coordinating services from a number of different venues-massage therapists, aestheticians, exercise/fitness personnel, doctors, chiropractors, alternative health practitioners, and nutrition experts
You must also be sure that the treatments are indigenous to your area. I have a signature line of indigenous products. For us its mimosa, which is orange and jasmine, and we’re working with our manufacturer on that. We have the same manufacturer as the Spa at the Hotel Hershey (Pa..), where of course they’re known for their chocolate scrubs. What I do with the manufacturer is go over lots of things. I also bounce ideas off my staff. But the foreign spas are light years ahead. Once I had three therapists all set to go to Beijing and be trained in all these different modalities. Well, 9-11 occurred while they were in Europe en route to China, and they were afraid to go on, so they came home.

Bayne: Was the trip sponsored by the hotel?

Davison: They went on their own. The hotel does pay for some continuing education. Bio-energy balancing is another modality you don’t here much of yet. At the Don I have added an aromatherapy bio-energy balancing treatment and it’s becoming one of my best treatments. Our guests love it and they can’t believe how they feel afterwards.

Bayne: What do you envision in the future of spa restaurants and juice bars?

Davison: Juice bars are a wonderful added amenity. I think they work best when they encourage social interaction. The menu is important though. Pina coladas are definitely out, and ginseng shots, protein boosters and green tea are in. Oxygen bars are fabulous. We’ll have an oxygen station in the waiting area of our lounge. They’re becoming a necessity. Unfortunately, with what has happened to the ozone layer, our oxygen is depleted. The earth is being starved of oxygen. In some parts of this country oxygen levels are only seven percent of what they should be. People are looking for nutritional balance, not pina coladas. Guests are so much more educated now.

Bayne: Does the fact that people are more aware help the industry ?

Davison: Absolutely. That’s why I’m focusing on the wellness end. We get lots of calls about heatlth and treatment. People sit down and talk with us for an hour. Our therapists, thank God, are so into naturopathic wellness, they preach it. We sell a solar soother that is so effective, after one treatment, one sees a difference in one’s skin. We are in a very sunny region, and over the years the elasticity of the skin breaks down.

Bayne: Who developed the product?

Davison: The soother was developed by FloriSpa.

Bayne: Will your recruitment strategies change?

Davison: Big time! It’s definitely going to change. My therapists have to be a lot more educated, sophisticated and cross-trained. They’ll have to know a lot of different modalities. The ideal stiuation for me would be to have a therapist with all kinds of certifications in lots of different modalities. They’d be well-trained in skin and body treatments. Therapists are getting dual licenses now. As to hiring issues, we are seeking higher levels of expertise!! It’s no longer a "rub-em and scrub-em" world. Our technicians train several times a year with different industry experts and once a month in-house mandatory training is done. Our clientele is upscale, savvy and well- educated, so we must have the most up-to-date information. This training works as an intensive staff bonding opportunity, which adds cohesion to the team while it improves everyone’s skill level. Education is key to keeping your staff motivated and ready for any challenge you have. Product manufacturers should not be the educating force in our industry, but up until now, there were few alternatives. Thankfully, I have had good experience with our manufacturer as far as education, but well trained technicians are far and few between. Most directors have taken over the education role, as they are better equipped to train their staff, update the service menu and standardize their treatment protocols, rather than relying on a manufacturer who’s trying to improve on his own bottom line. Skin care and body treatment go hand-in-hand. It makes the guest feel more comfortable when the same person can do skin care, body wraps, and scrubs. There’s then no need to change rooms and such.

Bayne: What is the future of spa decour?

Davison: That is determined by the property. Our design will be consistent with the historic theme of the Don Cesar, with marble and so on. We won’t have glass and chrome, for example, because of the look of our property. There’s a new therapy called Amma therapy, that’s a push and pull therapy. It’s a form of Asian body work that focuses on restoring balance. It’s done fully-clothed. It manipulates the muscles and stimulates the energy pathways. I’ve been doing it a year. It’s like accupunture with essential oils. When we introduced it, our therapists literally felt like they were floating. Amma therapy balances out the chakras and energy meridians. Imbalance produces headaches. I carry all my stress between my shoulders. When your meridians are all balanced out, your blood flows more easily. In a nutshell, the wave of the future will be baby boomers trying to stay healthier longer in the workforce.

Bayne: Thank you for your insights Ms. Davison.

Davison: Thank you.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

 

New Digs

For the faithful, I've moved to www.bbayne.com. I'm not giving up the old spot, just wanted a place for safekeeping, as web homes are known to crash & burn, info included.

See you at the housewarming.

BCB

bijanc@hotmail.com

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

 

Broke Ballers

For a few years, basketball purists in the United States have decried the quality of play in the NBA. Critics have cited the frequency of sub-90 point games, the lack of fundamental play, the fact that a 40-year-old John Stockton could still execute well playing the grueling position of point guard, and losses the U.S. national team suffered at the World Championships in Indianapolis two years ago. Note to Tiger Woods: the low scores you're looking for are in the NBA. Those who defend the game say scores are low because the athletes defend better, scouting is more sophisticated, and more shots were taken 25-30 years ago. I attribute a lot of that to excess dribbling, deep into the shot clock. There was much more catch-and-pass in the 120 point era.

Recently, The Scream Team has lost games to Italy and Puerto Rico. Despite the presence of MVP-caliber players such as Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson, the U.S. trailed Puerto Rico by 22 points at the half. No U.S. Olympic men's basketball team had lost a game since the U.S. began using professional players to help sell singlets and erase the memory of a bronze medal finish in Seoul and a Goodwill Games loss to Puerto Rico in 1991. Interestingly, though the media won't cover them, the American ladies' team is playing quite well, and giving a clinic on team basketball. Haven't ladies' defenses improved? Aren't women better athletes than they were in Anne Meyers' day? The United States will be crowned with gold, despite not having DeLisha Milton or Chamique Holdsclaw, and Katie Smith is benched with an injury.

The 1991 Goodwill Games team from the U.S. featured All-Americans Alonzo Mourning, Christian Laettner, and Jimmy Jackson. They faced a veteran Puerto Rican contingent that played together in international and Latin American tournaments- the nucleus of which was Jerome Mincy (starred at Alabama-Birmingham), Jose Ortiz (a former Pac 8 player of the year at Oregon State), James Carter, Edwin Pellot and Mario Morales. Their victory over the college kids was no upset. In 1976, a Puerto Rican team starring Raymond Dalmau, Butch Lee, and scoring machine Neftali Rivera came within a point of defeating the USA in the Montreal games. That American team, coached by Dean Smith and John Thompson, starred Adrian Dantley, Scott May, Quinn Buckner and Phil Ford. Had they lost, I don't think NBA'ers would have played in the next Pan Am Games or Olympics. The U.S. has lost to Cuba in baseball, and not resorted to sending Piazza, Clemens and Bonds to the Games. Cuba has won more boxing medals than the U.S. since 1992, yet Mike Tyson and Roy Jones did not lace up the gloves for the old red, white and blue.

What's missing from the college game, the NBA, and every high level of American basketball save the women's game is intelligent play. Team concepts can derail great athletes (Princeton beat defending NCAA champs UCLA in the 1996 NCAA Tournament by using timely cuts to the basket and decisive passing). The Argentines, Italians, and Puerto Ricans play the game as the 1970 Knicks or 1982 Tar Heels did. They don't dribble to excess. Players without the basketball move with a purpose. The post players pass well. The players can shoot jumpshots, which is important when facing a packed-in zone. The screens that are set away from the ball and at the high post remind one of, well, a Bob Knight team. We've taught the game well, we just haven't taught it at home. Blame ESPN's "Sports Center" for emphasizing the highlight dunk, blame the dependency on the three-point shot, blame "Hot Sauce" and the guys from And 1, but basketball is still a team game. Isolation plays for one talented player do not spell triumphs. Neither Wilt Chamberlain nor Michael Jordan won NBA championships their first seven seasons or so, for lack of a supporting cast. Shaq and Kobe didn't cop last season. Lebron James alone cannot catapult the Cavs into the Finals. It takes role players and group effort.

The WNBA Olympians work as a unit, despite the fact that Sheryl Swoopes or Diana Taurasi could drive by their respective defenders at will, and that Lisa Leslie is far more coordinated than most of the pivot players she'll face. In a game vs. the Czech Republic that posed a challenge, the Americans rallied by tightening the screws on their defensive press, rattling the Czechs. FIBA rules allow more contact and less traveling than the NBA. The lane is wider, but the three-point line is closer. USA Basketball should have selected a team comprised of savvy passers, 20-foot jumpshooters, and players who understand how to set and use screens. A team of slashers (Stoudamire, Iverson, Jefferson, Marion, Wade) no longer frightens the FIBA opponents. The original Dreamers were not one-dimensional, Stockton and Magic were two of the four greatest passers the game has ever seen. Bird is the premier passing forward in history. Jordan, Stockton and Magic understood how to use screens. not that they needed them against Angola and Venezuela. John Thompson took the wrong type of squad to Seoul (only Hersey Hawkins was a jumpshooter, and he got hurt- Rex Chapman and Danny Ferry were cut). Larry Brown's team is not suited for FIBA play. Iverson has no Answers and LeBron cannot Save them. Lesson One- don't learn the players, learn the game.

BCB

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