woensdag 18 mei 2016

CITAAT HAKEEM OLAJUWON / DEBAT 'SMALL BALL' / NBA / PLAYERS TRIBUNE: Hakeem 'The Dream' Olajuwon en zijn Visie op 'Small Ball'

1995-96 Fleer Metal
Hakeem Olajuwon Gold Card.

Card #40.
Ooit had ik het voorrecht Hakeem Olajuwon te mogen interviewen, hij was op een promotionele trip voor de NBA, ik had het hele vrijwilligersdeel van de NBA Jam-Session op de 'Megafestatie' verzorgd, dus ik mocht zijn persconferentie bijwonen en kreeg de gelegenheid na afloop daarvan nog exclusief wat extra vragen te beantwoorden. Wat er mij er nog van bijstaat was dat ik hem vroeg over hoe hij in de wereld stond - als eerste succesvolle Afrikaan in het College-basketball en de NBA, en na zo'n lange carrière en zelfs een optreden als Amerikaan in 'The Original Dreamteam' op de Olympische Spelen van 1992 in Barcelona - "voelde hij zich Nigeriaan, Amerikaan, Afrikaan?" Het antwoord kwam onmiddellijk en gedecideerd: "Ik voel mezelf in de eerste plaats Wereldburger, en daarnaast ben ik dat ook allemaal; Nigeriaan, Afrikaan, Amerikaan...maar al die grenzen zeggen mij niet zoveel meer..."

Ik was al een grote fan van de speler - en de mens - 'Hakeem'; veel - zelfs maar een beetje - mooiere, en meer succesvolle spelers heeft het Basketball nog altijd niet voortgebracht, en betere voorbeelden - zeker voor jonge Afrikanen, maar ook voor de jeugd in het algemeen - kan je natuurlijk ook niet bedenken...

Hakeem Olajuwon schreef voor de zich snel tot een fantastisch ontwikkelende Website 'The Players Tribune' een interessant artikel dat zeer relevant is gezien de ontwikkeling van - zeker de NBA-variant van - het Basketball richting 'Small Ball' die op dit moment gaande is.

Een aanrader dus!

Hieronder een fragment van zijn stuk, daaronder een link naar het hele originele artikel.

CITAAT (Players Tribune, 18 mei 2016)
“People sometimes ask me, ‘Is the era of the dominant big man over?’ They wonder if small ball will make the NBA a shooting guard’s league. But if you only look at sharp shooters like Steph and Klay, you miss what’s going on.”

‘Small’ Ball

NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon always thought of himself as a guard in a big man’s body. In The Players’ Tribune, Olajuwon goes into detail about his style of play, lists some of the toughest players he’s had to guard — including Shaquille O’Neal and Patrick Ewing — and also discusses the state of today’s NBA game.

Gary Payton was tough in the post, man.
The Sonics always gave us trouble. It was Gary. After we played them one time, I remember going up to my teammate Mario Elie. We were just finishing practice. I had to know what was going on.
“Is Gary strong?” I asked him.
“Not really.”
How was this little guard doing so much damage in the paint? I walked over to Clyde Drexler.
“Is Gary strong?”
“Not exactly.”
“Then how’s he getting that deep position on you every time?”
Clyde was shaking his head.
“I don’t know, man. I don’t know.”
Mario overheard us and came over.
“With Gary, it’s hard to explain.”
No one could give me an answer.
I always thought of myself as a guard in a big man’s body. Maybe that’s why I respected Gary’s game so much. He never wanted to be just a guard — and I never wanted to just be a traditional center.

I didn’t really have a choice. No one ever told me what a center should play like. When I first arrived in America at age 18, I had never watched an NBA game. Not even one. When I came from Nigeria to play college basketball in Houston, I didn’t know the name of a single NBA player, either. I first shot a basketball only a year before that, when I was 17 years old. At the time, I had the footwork of a soccer player.
I always thought of myself as a guard in a big man’s body.
As it turned out, being naive about basketball worked in my favor. I didn’t approach basketball with any preconceptions. When my coach told me to play the center position, I didn’t know what he meant. I could name the five positions, but I couldn’t really explain the difference between a center and a small forward.
The summer before I began college, my coaches would yell at me during practice, “Hakeem, you’re playing center! Just stay in the key!”
I didn’t want to stay in the key. I watched the guards and I was inspired by their creativity.
The key was boring.

I wanted to dance in and out of the paint, all over the court. I saw guards handling the ball and I’d say, “Man, I want to do that stuff.”
So I developed my outside game. I didn’t just do big man drills. I worked on my dribbling and my mid-range jumper. I worked on my passing and my footwork. If I had a slower guy guarding me, I would draw him outside of his element. I could get an easy jumper, or I could cross him over and beat him to the rim. If he was smaller, I’d get early position inside and post him up.
I learned that basketball and soccer are similar in at least one way: You take what the defense gives you.
Soon, coaches stopped telling me to stay in the key.

Two weeks ago, I was watching the Warriors and Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. I had some friends over and the conversation turned to a picture on the wall...

Het hele artikel van Hakeem Olajwon 'The Players Tribune' lees je --- Hier ---

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