Thursday, December 20, 2007

Anger is NOT the Answer

(Boulder-CO) J.R. Smith said today in The Denver Post that, “When I'm not angry I have a lot more finesse to my game, I try to do everything real smooth. When I'm out there angry, everything's more rugged; getting rebounds. And then my teammates get behind me.”

My initial response to this statement was, “Good, do whatever it takes, J.R.”, but after thinking about it from a perspective of someone who continues to play the game I thought differently. In fact, my perspective on the topic did a complete 180. The worst thing you can do is play the game angry with the reason being basketball is to sports as jazz is to music.

Follow me?

Basketball is played in the moment. Much like jazz music, basketball is improvisational. When you use an emotion like anger to motivate yourself, your actions become premeditated and the results are often not favorable. Especially in a game like basketball which, from one second to the next, requires you to adapt to the situation at hand. Not to mention the type of premeditative thoughts that anger usually evokes.

Instead, I feel that the problem with J.R. as of late has been his intensity, or should I say, lack there of. Remember when he was playing good? He was playing the best defense of his career and it was translating into an improved offensive presence. J.R. was getting steals that were putting him out on the fast break. Once on the break, J.R. was dishing assists when he wasn’t finishing, and he was playing within the flow of the game and with his teammates. He was also making his long ball, which additionally, is all about being ready and in the moment.

Now instead of feeling the flow, or should I say the jazz, of the game J.R. is forcing himself in a negative way both for himself and the team. When he is in this kind of mentality he hoists bad shots, plays poor defense highlighted by frustration fouls and too much gambling, and ultimately, sees his minutes taken away. So, the answer, in my eyes, is not for J.R. to get angry with the situation, but rather to focus all his intensity into the moment and situation. The best at doing this was his Airness, Michael Jordan, with that stare and body language that was so intense that it could seemingly bend steal, and the will of his opposition. But, that wasn’t the best part about it, no no no, not at all. The best part about the intensity demonstrated by Jordan was it made his teammates raise their games to new heights because while their physical abilities were nowhere near Jordan’s; nor could they be raised to equal his. Their intensity levels were capable of rising to the level demonstrated by their emotional leader, and that is what made Jordan’s intensity so contagious.

So, once again, the answer for J.R. is not to get angry and play with a negative and premeditated cause, but rather to intensify his efforts and to play in the moment. Feed off the most intense player on the floor and try to match their intensity. Heck, for that matter, it could be just an intense play - a rebound, block, or a dunk - but use its rhetorical power to put yourself into the same mindset.

Be like Mike!
Change the game as the game changes. Feel the jazz.

I know I always wanted to.

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