Monday, January 16, 2012

Basketball: More Than Just a Game

Just finished reading "Basketball: More Than Just a Game" by Larry McKenzie this weekend. Coach McKenzie is the head coach at the Academy of Holy Angels (Richfield, MN). He was formerly the coach at Minneapolis Patrick Henry High School where he guided the Patriots to 4 straight state titles. Having watched his teams play for many years I was eager to get the book and it did not disappoint.

The book is broken into ten main chapters, each representing a different part of the game using one of the letters in basketball. For instance, the first chapter (letter B) is titled "Business" and discusses how the game of basketball has become a business. This chapter may be my favorite because he offers up some very insightful, and stinging, thoughts on grassroots/AAU basketball and the money train that has become. His comments will be seen as controversial by many, but I feel that they are spot on. Many in the grassroots basketball community have lost sight of the fact that it's a game and we are dealing with young adults.

As I said, the first chapter is Business, but without giving too much away here are the rest:
Appreciate (Show appreciation for life)
Student-Athlete (What that means and some great tips for aspiring college players)
Knowledge of the Game (Skills you need to have to be good)
Enjoy (The fact that you have to have fun)
Teachable (Being coachable is important)
Believe (pretty much says it all!)
Attitude (have to have the right one)
Live to Love (Love others)
Love to Live (Enjoy life)

My favorite thing about the book though is the wide variety of topics that are covered within the pages. It's not a coaches manual that is going to help you win four state titles in a row, it's more of a winding love letter to the game that connects with me personally on many different levels. It's more about life lessons within the game than it is about how to win. It's more about how to win off the court than on it. If you are a coach interested in just winning I wouldn't recommend the book to you. I would, however, recommend the book to every person who is a fan of the game, every coach that teaches more than Xs and Os, and every player and parent. I really enjoyed it, will share it with our players, and will definitely read it again!

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