Showball vs sports, stupid or incongruent?

Bogdan TanjevicIn 2012 the Turkish National Team head coach Bogdan Tanjevic, while speaking with the Italian La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, exploded regarding the NBA and a Turkish player, Enes Kanter and “called out” the NBA and its coaches labeling the latter,

Stupid, except for a few that make millions and win titles”.

He goes on to say,

America is the right place to lose your brain. First of all, because of the coaches who don’t understand anything; in the NBA there are just three or four good coaches who in the last 100 years, gain billions and win trophies. The other ones are stupid…”

First things first

Bogdan Tanjevic is a great coach. He was born in Pljevlja, (former Yugoslavia, now Montenegro) and he has accomplished much. Tanjevic won the Euroleague in 1979 (with Bosna Sarajevo) when it was still called FIBA European Champions Cup. He accomplished that feat with a team that relied entirely on domestic players. Throughout his career, the 70-year old Tanjevic coached clubs in France, Italy, and Turkey. In addition, he was also at the helm of the national teams of Yugoslavia, Italy, and Turkey.

Moving on about the interview in question – and here’s a scouting report on it.

  1. Enes Kanter is a huge talent.
  2. Kanter needs the Turkish national team more than they need him.
  3. America is the right place to lose your brain.
  4. In NBA there are just 3 or 4 good coaches who last for 100 years, gain billions and win trophies. The other ones are stupid, Tyrone Corbin included.
  5. Tyrone Corbin is stupid.
  6. Tyrone Corbin doesn’t know what he’s doing.
  7. Kanter forgot how to play basketball.
  8. Kanter will never be a center but he starts always back-to-the-basket. As PF/C, he would be devastating.
  9. Kanter is 210 cm but he is the best shooter in the Turkish National Team, guards included.
  10. Basketball is like cocaine.

It says here that Coach Tanjevic had more of an emotional rant than having anything logical to say.  The NBA? The Billions? The Stupid Coaches?  There are gifted coaches in the NBA and the same is true for International Basketball.  To quell the argument I think it is safe to say that basketball over there (NBA) and basketball over here (International) is the same animal with different fur.

Stupid is the wrong word – Incongruent is better

Stupid (is defined as): Adjective: Having or showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense.

Incongruent (is defined as) Adjective: Made up of parts or qualities that are disparate or otherwise markedly lacking in consistency.

By those definitions I suggest there are more real, actual “Incongruent, bordering on Stupid” things going on in our wonderfully wide world of basketball. In the end, there’s no positive outcome or merit in labeling, there’s no genius involved in insults or judgments’. It’s best to rely on constructive criticism, based on clarity regarding any subject as nothing is a simple as it appears on the surface. My having a 40+ year basketball (romance) background working in Europe, the NBA and the NT of Nigeria (London 2012) permits (not entitles) my “take” on coach Tanjevic and our profession. Every NBA team/club – every Euro league team/club, every National Team- and every local pro team are all different yet have a basic common denominator. Money is involved. Money+Ball = Show. That’s all that unites them. In every other sense, they are separate, individual, living, breathing entities. They are living organisms. They’re planets in the same universe, but that’s it!  Some things in this universe can clearly be labeled as stupid (or Incongruent) but surely not the leaders on the court, their coaches, cannot be called STUPID by any stretch of the imagination or logical thinking.

A list: Stupid or incongruent?

Here’s my take, for the sake of argument, on what could actually be called Stupid (that exist in our basketball universe) or judged Incongruent.

  • Euroleague Final Four format  Unlike the formula of the NCAA which is an ELIMINATION TOURNAMENT leading to a FINAL FOUR showdown; the Euroleague follows the NBA format and then jumps off and over to the NCAA format. Go figure. Is it dramatic? Yes. Is it incongruent bordering on stupid? Yes. Probably scheduling conflicts are the major reason but back to the drawing board boys, because after a grueling, long season and dramatic playoffs series’, arriving at a one game showdown has no logic. The fact is that on any given day one team can beat another! The Euroleague loses credibility, value and I daresay, income. Incongruent!
  • Moving Blocks – All over the globe, they have come to dominate the game, making it poorer, uglier, and more dangerous and almost at the level of “low bridging” and tripping. Anybody remember the movie Roller Ball w James Caan? Are we going there? It’s Stupid.
  • Intentional fouls to stop fast break are high on the list of allowed tactics especially in our neck of the woods internationally. Change is needed, please. Incongruent!
  • Basketball Referees, ON ALL LEVELS, having to “touch the ball” before a sideline inbound pass, after an offensive team half court turn-over is a game interruption and it’s been dumb since it started. Stupid.
  • Not permitted to play a zone defense in the NBA, the “best” league in the world…as the NBA rules say zone defense is officially “allowed” but then says, “No zone defense may feature an unguarded defender inside the free-throw lane for more than 3 seconds”. What? Bottom line? – You can’t play zone defense! Come on guys. “Showtime” could be a crowd-pleasing Passing Game too!  Incongruent!
  • Salary Caps: Not imposing and controlling a salary cap in European National leagues. As a result, some clubs can spend freely and in some cases thirty times more than its same league competitors. That has been more than Stupid. It’s Ridiculous.

Professional Basketball is not a sport

Finally, regarding the Tanjevic and NBA coaches’ comments. Allow me to break it down. To receive money or other monetary gains for practicing sport affects sport at its very root. And by appearing before an audience, “sport” morphs into “show” and becomes part and parcel of show business.  Sport implies and is defined as a competition of the discipline against another or others for entertainment and camaraderie; Sport is playing some one on one with your next door neighbor, your dad, or with friends in the park.

ShowballProfessional teams/clubs are a quest for more money and success, a show with large doses of athletic ingredients… and that’s true in New York and Timbuktu It’s the entertainment industry, it’s professional sports here, there and everywhere. It’s a show. It’s the same animal, just different fur. We’re all a part of it, the drama, the suspense, the comedy, the athleticism, the titles and totals, all for the media, the mortgage, the cameras, the bank and the public. And we love it! As we get to play a game just as when we were children and get money and fame for it. Still a game but it’s no longer sport.

Comparisons to consider

  • The NBA Playoffs provide a television series just like American TV General Hospital does. “Tune in for the next episode”. Drama. In NY it’s a Melo-drama.
  • National Team competitions provide that “nationalist” passion and fuel the excitement internationally all dressed up in sports garb like Nigeria-Angola, Brasil-Argentina, Serbia-Croatia or USA- Spain if you like. Great basketball and winner takes all (the rewards)!
  • European National leagues are “sold” with the small and large city rivalry ingredient, utilizing “regional ethnocentrism” as fuel.  Barcelona-Madrid just like Golden State Warriors-Cleveland Cavaliers all the way down to the smallest cities here, in every country.

It’s all good and it is what it is. Basketball for money is not a sport. Moneyball title is already taken so we’ll say, Showball. Professional basketball is now in a tug-of-war of “Showball vs. sports”. The question is, “Where is it headed?”

So let’s keep it real NBA/FIBA!

Coach Tanjavic regrets what he said, the way he said it or the terms used. (It was a surprise coming from a very talented innovator, a master of coaching. I’d have imagined that our Mediterranean diet would’ve induced calmer and less aggressive behavior but even the best of us have an off day). There are “real” things to think about and discuss on many basketball levels. Insults lead nowhere. 

Written by Tim Shea

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