What basketball tells you about a person

I love to play basketball and have for many years. It’s one of the sports I’ve played consistently since high school. I would say I’m an average player with maybe a better than average outside shot. The three point shot hadn’t yet been implemented when I was in high school (missed by a year) and so most plays were focused on pounding the ball inside (we had a center who went on to play at the University of Utah) and occasionally the ball was kicked back out for a perimeter shot. But back then, as a guard, you’d better be very open if you decided to hoist up a shot from 18 feet. Times have sure changed since the three point came in to play. Now, many teams pass the ball around the perimeter looking for the open shot, and forwards and even centers frequently hoist up 20 footers. Look at how many centers in the NBA can shoot from down town. It’s changed the game.

I’ve played in organized leagues as well as a number of pick-up games at the gym. What I’ve learned is that I can tell a lot about a person by how he plays basketball. Here’s what I look for:

  1. Does he try to involved his team member or does he ball hog?
  2. Does he play defense or stay back and cherry pick for layups?
  3. Does he call his own fouls or whine when someone calls one on him?
  4. Will he pass the ball to an open teammate or insist on going one on three?
  5. Will he make the extra pass to an open teammate who is closer to the basket?
  6. Does he go after loose balls and rebounds?
  7. Will he offer to sit out a game if there’s an odd number of people?
  8. Can he dribble the ball with his head up? Or does he think he can drive the middle on three defenders? (My personal pet peeve)

These are few things I look for when I play. Those players who will pass the ball around and get everyone involved are those I enjoy the most off the court. As amazing a player as Michael Jordan was, he’s not the person I’d choose to play alongside had I been given the opportunity. The two players that I would have most liked to play with would be Magic Johnson and John Stockton. Both of these guys made their teammates better because of their unselfish play. They were so fun to watch because they were masters at distributing the ball at just the right time. Some of their amazing passes are legendary. I think a fantastic pass beats a slam dunk anytime.

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