Chasing the Norm

Australian academic and blogger on politics, international relations, and culture

Tag: Basketball

Aussies invade the NBA

As a long time follower of basketball, this is very pleasing news:

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Trail Blazers signed guard Patrick Mills to a contract, it was announced today by General Manager Kevin Pritchard. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Portland selected Mills (6-0, 185) with the 55th overall pick in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft after playing two seasons at St. Mary’s (CA) College.
Mills, who fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot during an NBA Summer League practice session on July 9, underwent successful surgery on July 13 and is continuing his rehabilitation on schedule.
The Australian national was an early entry candidate for the NBA Draft out of St. Mary’s, where he posted averages of 16.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.97 steals in two seasons. Mills, 21, was a First Team All-WCC selection as a freshman and sophomore.

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Mills is now the fourth Australian currently playing in the NBA, along side Andrew Bogut, Daniel Andersen, and Nathan Jawai. (If any politicians out there are paying attention, its worth noting that Jawai and Mill’s are both of indigenous background. Sport can always bring people together, and these guys could be perfect icons for Australia if we were smart. That said, outside Bogut these guys are still small fry in the NBA. Mill’s (a canberran too!) is celebrating getting a contract worth $1 million over 2 years, while his teammate LaMarcus Aldridge has been re-signed for $65m over 5 years. That may sound insane amounts to play sport, but as Charles Barkley noted recently, Australian sports stars get a pittance:

“I don’t want to insult the Australians (but) I am like, ‘These guys are some damn idiots’,” Barkley told the Dallas affiliate of ESPN Radio.
“Nobody plays football without pads every week for three, four or five months and don’t make any money.
“At least in the NFL, you are going to kill yourself and … you get to be a millionaire after it’s over.”

The media may mock (just about every version of this story from Australian newspapers mentions his bad golf swing and career controversies), but while NBA players take home a combined 55% of club earnings, Australian AFL players get 25% total (not sure other codes, but would be comparable if not even less). The players may bring the fans, but they only get a tiny amount of the profits from Rugby and AFL in Australia. US figures will always be bigger due to markets, but add in the ultra-restrictive salary cap and it is no surprise that we see Australian sports stars constantly changing codes or going overseas. (I’d exempt Basketball players in this, as while the NBL is a decent league, there is only one true world class league in the world for basketball and thats the NBA. There’s simply no comparison, and no other place a great player should be.)

A decade ago Australian Basketball was a joy to watch with Andrew Gaze, Luc Longley and Chris Antsey embarrassing the Europeans regularlly and making the Boomers if not a medal winning team (unlike their ultra successful female counterparts) at least a top 5 and feared team. Those greats have all moved on, but with the experience Mills, Bogut, Jawai and others are getting in the NBA at the moment, we should be very very competitive come the 2012 Olympics. Until then, Australian fans can settle in to watch the NBA online for around $20 a month, or i’m told One-HD (Ten’s new free to air channel) should be showing 2-3 NBA games a week. Pre-season games are already under way, with the full season beginning Oct. 27. Game on!

We succeed because of failure, not in spite of it

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“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed” – Michael Jordan

I recently had to give a speech to a number of international students on my research. Most of what I said probably flew over their heads, but mentioning Michael Jordan admitting he succeeded only because he was willing to fail: that they recognised & responded to. We seem to be a culture where people are only ever allowed one shot at success. When Turnbull loses he will be forced from politics. Whatever contribution, whatever lessons he’s learnt will be burnt as an offering to the gods to bring forth the new inspired hope to lead the Conservatives back from the wilderness. But experience counts, and we discount it at our peril. No worthy historical leader has appeared on the scene already great. All have their failures from which lesser men would falter. But it is precisely because they returned to fight that they achieved what they did. Likewise the great strength of the US entrepreneurial culture now is less their lax regulations than the low penalties for failing (bankruptcy) and starting over.

Along with the Bradman’s and Di maggio’s, will Jordan’s name always sit. I never saw him in person, but I was lucky enough to follow basketball whilst he was still playing. Last night Jordan was finally inducted into the Hall of fame.

Speaking ’bout my Generation

On Friday night I had the pleasure of attending the Big Bang Ballers launch here in Canberra. They’re a new type of NGO, one trying to allow kids in developing countries to be kids for a while. That is to live as we all take for granted, without having to also be income providing responsible adults as well. They aim to, (and already have in countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines), bring together different social classes, religions and ethnicities, all through the great game of Basketball. And set in play by a local Canberran I have the honour to call a mate:

Take a look at their website for more details if you are interested: http://www.bigbangballers.org/.