A responsible blogger not only writes interesting, well-thoughtout posts, but they also write posts that are relevant to the times. This includes talking about a topic that has at least been plastered all over ESPN within the week, as well as littering the post with tags and SEO keywords to drive up traffic to the blog for the sake of upping the view count. No matter how careless the practice, that’s what a responsible blogger does.
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Prior to my epic failure at upkeep the past 3 months for this blog, I think I did a fairly good job of accomplishing both thoughtful and relevant posts. Granted, the former is a totally subjective view while the latter probably is a more objective take. Nevertheless, you’re welcome for 3 months worth of decent, semi-entertaining content.
But this is my blog, my rules. So while I will never stray from the interesting and well-thoughtout realm of sports blogging, be aware that in the following post, I put a huge Martin Havlat middle finger up and said “fuck relevancy.” This post is probably about 1 month too late (or even 4 months), but this post has to be written, if only because I’ve been teasing it for the past 2 weeks or so.
If you’re not following me on Twitter (which you should because I’m hilarious — sometimes), then you probably don’t know I’m the biggest Ricky Rubio fan west of the Mississippi. Hell, I may as well be a closet Minnesota Timberwolves fan since I’m a pretty big fan of Kevin Love, too. Best big man in the game, in my opinion. Yes, even ahead of Dwight Howard. But I digress.
I’d be lying if I said I’ve been a fan of him forever. I actually hated him during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing mainly because the mainstream media was drooling over him constantly, and I’m not a fan of overhype*.
*Case in point: Kentucky. During the entire tournament, everyone’s mama’s mama was talking about how great of a team Kentucky had. Considering I don’t watch college hoops until March Madness, I had nothing to go by but their performance in the tournament. I wasn’t impressed with any of their games leading up the to championship game, but I think this was merely a negative reaction to the MSM’s overdone praise for a team full of freshmen and sophomores being able to accomplish what they’d done this season. I still wasn’t a fan though. And either Anthony Davis just isn’t a flashy player, or he’s going to have to find some way to enhance his offensive game because I saw zero on Monday. (SEE! Some relevance. Kudos to me for a semi-relevant aside.)
Again, I digress.
The impetus for my Rubio affection didn’t start during the Olympics. It didn’t even start when he was drafted. Hell, it didn’t even start during his first game as an NBA player. My admiration for Rubio started once I realized he possesses a trait that very few players are born with, and Bill Simmons agrees with me, too. He likes to call it “The Passing Gene.”
Granted, I’ve always known Rubio was a flashy player. The comparisons to Pete Maravich were abundant during the Olympics, so it wasn’t lost on me that the kid has some decent handles and vision. (Here’s the obligatory Pete Maravich YouTube clip for comparison.) There are many NBA players who have decent handles and vision but aren’t born with the passing gene. Some NBA players are good passers, but don’t have the passing gene. Kobe Bryant would be one of these players. I’d put Dywane Wade in here, too.
Then, what exactly is the passing gene? It’s a lot of different things. It’s almost like being a good chess player.
Players with the passing gene are able to see the play develop in their head 5 steps ahead of everyone else allowing them to deliver a precise pass that sets up their teammate in the best position to score.
Players with the passing gene have Superman-like court vision. They can see through and around defenders giving them a wide view of the court available to them, which helps them make better decisions with the ball.
And who else besides Ricky has this gene? Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Steve Nash, and LeBron James, among very few others.
Why does having “the passing gene” mean so much to me, you wonder? Little did you know, while hockey and football are my top two favorite sports to follow at the moment, basketball is probably the game where I’m most savvy. Not to brag (well, actually, yeah I am bragging) I understand the game better than probably 90% of basketball fans. Having played basketball for 8 years starting in the 4th grade, and growing up with Michael Jordan and the Bulls, it was impossible for me to not fall in love with the sport. I fell so in love with it that even after I stopped playing, I started to coach a girls basketball team. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve morphed from a casual basketball fan into a hardcore basketball fan. (Not quite the league in particular but more so basketball and the game itself).
With that said, the difference between a casual and hardcore basketball fan begins with the level of appreciation for certain aspects of the game. For instance, a dunk versus a pass — I’ve seen enough dunks in my life that I don’t get amazed by every Blake Griffin throw down on SportsCenter. I will, however, get goosebumps when I see Ricky toss a behind-the-back, back door pass to Kevin Love at the low block for an easy lay-in. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be behind-the-back (although Ricky will do it anyways cause he’s awesome). I get the chills when I see a back door pass during a game, period. If you watch a game with me, you’ll most likely hear me saying “Nice pass!” more often than “Oh snap! That dunk was sick!” In other words, it’s the little things, the intricacies that tickle my loins.
I think my admiration for players with the passing gene, specifically Ricky, also has to do with the fact that when I played, I was a point guard. I almost think that if I were to have continued playing basketball, I would have probably wanted to emulate the playing style of those players mentioned above. They serve as a proxy for what my life could have been (provided I was still playing…and I was born a boy).
Ricky Rubio may not be the most gifted scorer. Outside of the occasional 3-pointer that most Europeans seem to be able to hit, I am fully aware that his offensive game leaves a lot to be desired. His shot sucks. It really, really sucks.
But as far as his court vision and passing ability, he’s already firmly placed in the top 5 of the league, as far as I’m concerned. This is a bold statement, I know, but read it again. I’m not saying he’s a top 5 point guard. (He can certainly get there. It’s too bad we have to wait until next season to see. Damn you, Kobe Bryant!)
I’m just saying that while others have to be taught how to pass, he just knows how to do it. It’s innate. He’s lucky to have been born with the ever-coveted passing gene, and boy, that’s one damn good gene to have.