pragueBlog

2003-10-24  

Interesting news via Cerny. Jiri Welsch the Czech NBA player has been traded to Boston. (Will MacMillan break yet new ground now and develop an interest in the only really interesting sport played in America?)

I was cheering for the Celtics and John Havlicek when I was a mere sprout. I think I was a basketball fan before I could walk. Back in those old days they played with a little heart. Today, I say the words "Kobe Bryant" or "Shaq" and I want to rinse with Listerine. The rest of the NBA is half jailbirds lucky to be out of prison, and half ego monsters that are the worst possible role models. I could not possibly care less about this individual, although millions of young people will consider him somebody to emulate because of All That Swag.

And that's what it's about, isn't it? Whether you rip off the public legally or a bank illegally, it's about the Swag. And the women, and the cars, and adulation.

John Havlicek was the antithesis of today's NBA star. You admired him for none of the qualities for which Kobe Bryant is admired. To whom do the words dedication, relentless, hard-working, selfless, teamwork, humility apply more?

The truth is that I lost interest in the professional leagues long ago - well before my hometown Blazers were acquired by Top Ten Rich List Asshole Paul Allen. He hired the NBA's biggest management Asshole Bob Whitsitt, who promptly moved Blazer headquarters to - Seattle. That's roughly equivalent to the Red Sox deciding to move their management offices to New York City. He's gone now, but it will be years before Portland embraces its team the way it did during the big years of the late 70s and 80s.

I've been following Jiri Welsch's NBA adventure. He seems like a nice kid, and it's a great story: from Pardubice to the big leagues. But Welsch is not new to me. About four years ago, he was the star player for Sparta Praha. I live near the auditorium and used to go to their home games. The very first time I saw him on the court he stood out by a mile. He's relatively tall, although he hadn't reached his full height yet - he was still a teenager. But what made him stand out was the way he moved with the ball: very fluid, almost rubbery and lightening quick. He was in total control of the game shooting, passing and stealing. I have seen a lot of NBA games in my time, and this is the honest truth: the first time I watched him play I said, "this guy could make it in the NBA."

Steve | 11:15 |
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