A lot of you probably wonder why I don’t write much anymore (note - nobody has actually asked me why I don’t write much anymore). The truth is, I can’t due to my busy schedule, and also I don’t really need to most of the time. We’ve had so many great writing talents come through our doors over the time I’ve been here (since 2010) that I only have to worry, for the most part, about editing other peoples’ work and then plugging holes (those January Thunder vs. Nets games ain’t going to write themselves).
But something dawned on me as of late. The craft of writing is like exercising a muscle. The less you do of it, the more likely you are going to atrophy and forget how to do it competently and efficiently. So I’m starting a little experiment, which you can feel free to disregard at your own leisure, to get back into the habit of exercising those muscles. I’m tentatively calling it “Sherman’s Short Shots,” because a) that’s me; b) I am not a tall man; c) I love ristretto; and d) this is supposed to be about basketball. The idea behind it is to encapsulate singular ideas in succinct fashion that I find intriguing on some level, and to be able to do it on the regular. Topics may include — but are not limited to — the business of basketball, play breakdowns, sports in context, and maybe bourbon (definitely bourbon).
One of my responsibilities at my day job is to worry about the business of education, and on that note it was quite the surprise to see my personal passion and my professional passion intersect.
This initial thought isn’t so much about Rose’s charter school or what he’s doing to make the space he occupies better than when he arrived. But rather, it’s about perception. I had the privilege of living through Jalen Rose’s ‘Fab Five’ era, where he and 4 other freshman and then sophomores took a run at the NCAA championship, first losing to Duke and then losing to the Tar Heels. During that time I was primarily a Syracuse Orangemen fan so I naturally didn’t like those Michigan teams, but I also struggled in my formative years to fully appreciate how radical a shift they represented in the landscape of the college game. Putting aside their method of presentation, they ushered in an era of young players making a quick pit stop in college in order to get to the pros. But even in that pit stop, their ripple effects were profound. And I’m not sure I understood it or even liked it, because I lacked the framework to comprehend it.
And yet, there was something galvanizing about those teams that reminded me a bit of the Detroit Pistons of the late 80’s, a team so self-assured and insular that, as it is often put, you either loved them or hated them. And I hated them oh so very much. Yet, several decades removed, and with the benefit of 30 for 30’s Bad Boys documentary, I had a change of heart. In listening to them speak about their own team and relationships, I couldn’t help but think, ‘that’s exactly how I would want my own team to talk about themselves.’ And it was the guys I disliked the most! Rick Mahorn, Bill Laimbeer, Isiah Thomas.
But those Piston players, like those Michigan players, now of which at least three of them in Rose, Chris Webber, and Juwon Howard, have become great ambassadors of the game to go along with their lengthy careers, and they speak well of the game. With great erudition, Webber and Rose in particular are part of communicating the game to the next generation of fans, and I never could have seen that coming way back in 1992.
So good job, Jalen. It has been a pleasure to watch your story play out over the years. And my hat goes off to those Piston teams of whom I loved to root against.
But I still hate Laimbeer.