The Everyman Star

The word ‘superstar’ is thrown around a lot these days.

In game 1 of the Denver-Golden State series, Doris Burke was foolishly anointing Ty Lawson a superstar on the rise. Doris Burke was just doing what so many analysts do. Hyperbolizing the stardom of professional athletes. Those who are only well-known to fans following the particular sport and understand that athlete’s greatness within their sport.

Ty Lawson is not even a star, much less a superstar.

Heck, I would argue that Lebron James and Kobe Bryant are the NBA’s only two true superstars. They are the only players that have a significant reach to the public beyond those who care about basketball.

Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard are stars. They will be known to the average sports fan. However, my mom is going to be utterly confused if I start a sentence involving any of those guys.

Steph Curry?

He is well be on his way to surpassing those stars and he just might be knocking on the door of legitimate superstardom. Kobe/Lebron territory and that’s no joke. Steph Curry is everything that Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant are not. He has something that none of them will ever have.

He is relatable.

No, he isn’t tiny like Muggsy Bogues. But Steph Curry isn’t imposing either. He is an unintimidating 6 foot 3, 185 pounds. He went to a small school because no one thought he was good enough. He beat the odds in a Cinderella-like fashion.

His game isn’t intimidating either. He has that silky smooth jumper we all wish we had but he can’t just pull up whenever he wants. Remember, he is not 6 foot 9. He is the opposite of physically dominating. He has crazy handles but they aren’t made for an And1 street ball mix tape in a Jamal Crawford style.

Despite the fact that his Dad, Dell Curry, played in the NBA, there is no sense of entitlement or superiority. There is no gorilla chest pounding after a slam dunk in a meaningless first round series against a relatively hapless opponent.

There is passion though. Lots of it. The man is not without personality by any means. He gets pumped in a manner that doesn’t come across as smug or arrogant. He reacts to the energy of the game the way many of us probably imagine we would as well.

Steph Curry could be this generation’s Allen Iverson, except he won’t be broke at 35. He is not the same player as Allen Iverson in any sense but his appeal to fans is similar.

He is the little engine that could.

With a bum ankle, unthinkable scoop shots, rainbow 3’s and one-handed dimes, Curry carried the Golden State Warriors to the 2nd round of the playoffs. Although their double-double machine David Lee was missing for most of the series, Curry was still able to step up and did so at the most opportune moments as only a superstar can.

Most importantly, Steph Curry is a joy to watch. There is more to his game for the average viewer than say, a Chris Paul. You don’t have to be a basketball person to appreciate what Curry does on a night-to-night basis.

He needs a championship calibre team though. No one becomes a superstar without championship runs. Multiple championship runs. Steph Curry could possibly be the scorer’s version of Steve Nash, who is a borderline superstar in his own right (Note: He is a superstar in Canada). Playing in a run and gun system that never fails to generate excitement, Curry already has a sidekick for years to come in fellow sharpshooter Klay Thompson.

With a guy like Curry, any franchise has the ability to build a team good enough to make a run a championships for years to come.

Without Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo and Jeremy Lin in the 2013 NBA playoffs, Steph Curry has become the darling of the entire league. The underdog role fits him more perfectly than, well, a glass slipper.

Steph Curry won’t be able to shake that label but that isn’t a bad thing. He will always be the little man beating the odds. As a professional athlete, it is what makes him so endearing. To think, this is just year 1 of his rise to stardom. As long as he stays healthy, he will be one of the NBA’s premier stars.

With a little bit of luck, he might be a superstar too.

Agree? Disagree? Reply in the comments section below or e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com

Also, you can follow me on twitter @chrisrossPTB and I will happily return the favour.

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Lin’s Rise Shouldn’t be so Surprising

The circumstances are Lincredible. The meteoric ascension to stardom is one of a kind. The hype is more than deserved for this Linderella story. The shock of Lin measured a 9.0 on the Richter scale after his game winner on Tuesday night in Toronto and who knows how long we will feel the after effects.

Still, why are we so flabbergasted by Jeremy Lin?

Asia’s version of Tim Tebow has been dissected about as much as, well, the real Tim Tebow. Most human beings on the earth haven’t gone the past 2 weeks without asking how the hell this kid didn’t get his opportunity sooner. In this age of youtube sensations, endless video scouting and advanced statistics, it is almost unfathomable to have a talent as sensational as Jeremy Lin go undrafted and sit on the end of the bench, about to get cut.

I, as well as you, have read and heard the endless discussion as to why Lin’s talent was missed by most everyone. Yeah, he is Asian. Yeah, he is scrawny. Yeah, he doesn’t shoot well. We get it.

What I still don’t get is why we are continually shocked by these mega-talents who were oh so close to bagging groceries at their neighbourhood Hy-Vee? Because we shouldn’t be.

Not anymore.

Jeremy Lin’s story may be mind-blowing but the thought that he could just as easily be out of the NBA right now instead of taking the Big Apple by storm isn’t. There are too many examples of talented individuals who have taken their respective sports by storm for us to be truly surprised anymore. To continue to be in disbelief as to how these guys aren’t noticed is like being stunned that Lindsay Lohan is back in rehab or that Kim Kardashian is trying to exploit another NBA player for even greater fame (FYI, Kim Kardashian is rumoured to be going on a date with Jeremy Lin).

Prior to Linsanity, Tom Brady was the poster boy for mis-evaluated talent. We all know about the 199th overall pick turned GQ, supermodel dating, touchdown throwing golden boy of the NFL. How did Tom Brady get passed on 198 times in 2000? Crazy? Not so much.

Talent is constantly under and over estimated. In another shocking development, the sun will set in the west tomorrow evening.

There is a very thin line between the big leagues and coaching high schoolers. The line is thinner than most professional athletes would like to believe. Most professional athletes live off of the belief that it was their own exceptional talent and hard work that allowed them to reach the top of the sports world. They need to believe it.

Arian Foster’s pompously narrated ‘self-made’ story on the show E:60 is a prime example of this. He went from undrafted running back to arguably the best in the NFL.

Little do most of them really know about the great deal of luck that made it possible for them to excel and make those millions of dollars. The overweight guy on his couch, hollering at the TV could very well have been overlooked. That’s just the nature of sports though. There are so many talented athletes and so few spots that there is bound to be missed talent.

Sometimes though, that almost missed talent turns into a superstar.

Everyone is now on the watch for the next Jeremy Lin. His Linsational story has made people wonder how many more like him are out there. There is probably someone on a college bench waiting to be the next Jimmer or a division II potential superstar lighting it up in relative obscurity somewhere in Omaha.

Stephen Curry, the son of former NBA veteran Del Curry, only received offers to play at Davidson, Virginia Commonwealth and Winthrop. He became a college superstar, the 7th overall pick in the NBA draft and, aside from the injuries, is excelling for the Golden State Warriors. His brother Seth went to Liberty University before Stephen Curry’s stardom forced scouts to take notice of Seth’s ability. Seth is now the starting for the Duke Blue Devils.

Again, Jeremy Lin’s story is exceptional but, in the end, he’s simply another missed talent. Continue to be amazed at the aura, the man, and the legend that is Jeremy Lin.

Just don’t be so surprised that he slipped through the cracks.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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Mark Jackson’s Tunnel Vision

It doesn’t surprise me that Mark Jackson employed his hack-a-Howard last night. It didn’t surprise me when he did it on Christmas Day to Deandre Jordan and the LA Clippers. Mark Jackson was always a lobbyist for teams taking advantage of the rules as best they could when he called games for ESPN. As disgusting as flopping, intentional fouling and guys jumping into defenders for free throws is to many of us, Mark Jackson was always applauding from his court side seat. Thank goodness Jeff Van Gundy was there to put him in his place.

It’s just too bad for Mark Jackson that Jeff Van Gundy isn’t on his coaching staff in Golden State.

Since last night’s game, where Dwight Howard attempted an NBA record 39 free throw attempts, Jackson’s hack-a-Howard strategy has been debated fiercely. Whether from a strategic stand point the choice to foul Howard throughout the game was right or wrong, Jackson’s implementation of this tactic does not bode well for his long-term future.

I think we can safely assume that Mark Jackson aspires to be an all-time coaching great. When all is said and done, he will want to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Jerry Sloan and Pat Riley.

It won’t happen if he continues to think like 15-year-old – unable to look farther in the future than Friday night. As a first year head coach on a team that lacks basic defensive principles, Mark Jackson should be laying a solid foundation for years to come. Instead, all he seems to care about is a meaningless January win on a team that is bound to be golfing come playoff time.

Mark Jackson clearly cannot comprehend the idea of short-term pain for long-term gain. Too bad that his attempt to prove himself as an outside-the-box thinking NBA coach will cause him not only short-term pain but long-term pain as well.

By putting his excessive hack-a-poor free throw shooter strategy into practice from day one, Mark Jackson has told his team they can’t play defence and he isn’t even going to bother trying. It isn’t possible for Jackson’s players to ever learn to trust him if he won’t put any faith into them. It’s not a good sign for the Warriors franchise that they have a coach who is so short-sighted.

His comments following yesterday’s game did nothing except reinforce his narrow-minded philosophy. He said “I can understand people thinking, ‘Why?’ But don’t get caught up in the free throws. Think about the times we didn’t foul him. It was dunks, hooks, plays at the rim. He’s a great player and a bad free-throw shooter. We were giving ourselves the best possible chance by messing up their rhythm.”

Let’s go with Mark and believe that those 39 free throw attempts did in fact give his team the best chance to win. So what? Teaching your guys how to intentionally foul a far superior individual isn’t doing anything to benefit the long-term future of your franchise and you personally as a coach. I don’t care that Kwame Brown was injured and they had no true center to guard Dwight Howard. It’s not about that.

Give a man a fish he’ll eat for a day but teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. Sadly, Mark Jackson’s men didn’t even get to eat for a day.

Mark Jackson shouldn’t be looking for a few cheap wins here and there. Hack-a-Howard won’t help instil a gritty, hard-nosed, defensive culture in his team that was absent in Don Nelson’s run and gun, high-octane offensive system.

The Warriors may lack the personnel to be a great defensive team but it doesn’t mean they can’t try. Mark Jackson should look at the way Toronto Raptor’s first year coach Dwane Casey has implemented a refreshing brand of hustle into a team that was the NBA’s worst defence last season. Despite the lockout and a starting line-up that still features Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon, Casey has transformed a previously inept Raptor defence into respectability. Casey talked before the season of bringing a new brand of basketball to the city of Toronto and he has done that.

Unlike Dwane Casey and contrary to what Mark Jackson might believe, he hasn’t walked the walked.

Last night, unbeknownst to Jackson, he waved the white flag and surrendered to the Orlando Magic. He thought he was fighting for his team but really he was telling them that he shouldn’t be the general leading them into battle. Some players would jump in front of a bullet for their coach. There’s probably a few Warrior’s right now who would push Mark Jackson into the line of fire.

It may be too early to write Mark Jackson off as a legitimate NBA coach but the alarm bells are ringing. If he doesn’t change his ways and continues looking only in the short-term, he won’t have to worry much about the long-term state of the Warriors.

No problem though, Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen will welcome him back with open arms.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

Subscribe to my blog too and you can get the latest posts such as Tim Tebow a Real Starting Quarterback?

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