Sunday, February 01, 2009

Hoop, Obama, and character - Jake Widman says ...

During the inauguration hoopla, I read that Michelle Robinson Obama, back in Chicago in the day and before she had been too very long originally dating Barak, asked her brother to play basketball with him and give a report. The thinking was that if Obama had genuine character flaws of any kind they would probably surface in a pick up game. I think that is a sort of street smarts; I like the idea. The idea that you study a person this way - it's almost Shakespearian to ask your brother to run the ploy. With that in mind I asked old buddy pick-up game all stars of yore for their take on suspect traits in a pick-up game player - traits that could divulge deep inner traits of character - ugly ones - ones you wouldn’t want to endure for a lifetime. How did they gauge other players? I invited my b-ball buds to forward the question to their team mates too.

Jake Widman says ...

People who intentionally foul as a way of playing defense. There's this one guy I play with--if you're going in for a layup against him, he'll hold your arms down. If you start to drive around him, he'll reach out and grab you. If you cut to the basket without the ball, he'll step into you to knock you off line. I know this stuff happens in the NBA, but it's a sign of a personality flaw in pickup ball because there's no real consequence--you don't get your two shots, and he never fouls out. To me, that makes it contrary to the spirit of the game, or at least of the types of games I like to play in. (Part of it is that none of us are so good that a layup is a gimme--let the guy get his shot off!) It tells me he's someone who's willing to exploit loopholes in the rules to his own advantage, even though it's not in keeping with the spirit and is not the way everyone else is approaching the game. Maybe it's a good trait in a lawyer, but it's not an attractive trait in a playmate.

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