Guest Post from Lamar Hull on the Benefits of Practice

 

Lamar Hull is a former NCAA college basketball player from Davidson College in North Carolina, who also played on the European professional circuit. He now writes for Direct2tv. He poses an interesting question about the 10,000 hours of practice theory.

As a former basketball player with two NCAA tournaments and a professional tour in Europe behind me, I can confirm that Dr. K. Anders Ericsson’s theory about the quantity of practice required for success is true. Continually setting small goals works, and mental commitment is key. But the more you practice, the further you will go.

Pete Maravich, an NBA Hall of Famer, was a childhood idol of mine. Not just because of his raw talent for basketball, but because of his attitude and his tireless work ethic. He has a desire to be better than the last day, every day.

I decided to model my discipline after his. I started with dribbling drills in the driveway. I practiced shots for hours alone. His homework basketball drills is what molded my game in to what it is now. His drills challenged you to be uncomfortable so that you could become a better player by mastering unique drills.

The discipline continued through middle school, and eventually high school. While other kids were planning sleepovers and frequenting the mall, I dedicated myself to hours of practice. When I wasn’t playing for my middle school team, I was playing pickup games in the neighborhood. It was my practice regimen and perseverance that got me recognition from the varsity team coaches as a freshman.

I played varsity basketball all four years of high school and carried a reputation as a hard worker both on and off the court. I am short so I envisioned my game like former Celtics’ point guard and Hall of Famer, Nate Archibald. His nickname was ‘Tiny’ so I had something to relate too. But there was nothing tiny about Archibald’s game.

I decided I wanted to play college ball, and eventually go pro. I would stop at nothing to achieve those goals, and I would use practice as an avenue to get there.

But I went to a small high school in a small town. College scouts didn’t visit our high school games. I imagine for a lot of young athletes, this is where the road would end.

Mine didn’t.

Even after my senior season ended, I kept practicing. I knew if I kept my skill level constant and took matters into my own hands, I would reach my goal of playing professional basketball.

I wrote to colleges and universities, and sent packages documenting my basketball skills. I ended up earning a walk-on role at Davidson College, a Division I-AA school. I was able to play with Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry. We went to the NCAA tournament twice. Afterwards, I was offered a contract to play professional basketball for the Kings Lynn Fury in England.

It wasn’t the NBA, but it was still professional basketball. I set a goal a long time ago and I made it.

How did I get there?

It wasn’t my height (I’m 5’9″). I didn’t get “discovered” by a scout. I didn’t play for the top high school team in the nation. I didn’t play for the NCAA championship team. I didn’t have any outrageous high scoring records. It wasn’t for any of the reasons we typically see the top athletes in team sports excel.

It was practice, practice, practice, and more practice. Practice brought me to the goal I set for myself so many years ago.

According to the Ericsson’s theory, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve incredible success. I don’t know if I hit that threshold, or if I’d be deemed as a success like Michael Jordan. But I achieved my own version of success, I accomplished my goal.

I can tell you with full confidence that practice IS without a doubt the key to success. Whether you are playing an individual sport, or a team sport, practice determines your destiny.

Photo was supplied from Hull and can be found on his website inspirationalbasketball.com

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The Need for Speed: How Readers Get News is Affecting the Way Sports Journalism is Reported and Written

Over the last ten years, the way fans get news about their favorite sports’ team has changed considerably. Gone are the days when people had to wait for the morning newspaper so they could read a sports article about what happened to their team. Today, people are getting news from different mediums.

What has replaced the old model of gathering news for printed newspapers is the increased role of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging. People want news as fast as possible. They want to know what’s going on all the time, so reporters and writers have to do everything they can to make that happen, or they’ll lose readers and interest.

In addition, digital media is a tool that’s becoming very commonplace with reporters too. They’re using phones or a personal camera to make video and pictures of their subjects.

The catch to this new form of journalism is that putting together a project with video, audio, pictures and a written story can be done fairly fast depending on the size, and it’s usually done by one person. Unlike writing for a printed publication, a reporter personally edits what he or she has, and uploads it almost immediately onto an online blog or social media platform.

This is the direction that sports journalism is going in. The use of social media, blogs and digital media has affected and changed the way sports journalism is written and reported on. It’s all about getting news out quickly and efficiently before anyone else does.

“[Blogs] also allows for immediacy,” said Paul Flannery, an NBA writer for the sports blog SB Nation and former Boston Celtics writer for sports radio WEEI in Boston. “When I used to cover Celtics’ practices, I would turn around the basic nuts and bolts of the day in a couple of hours, and that wouldn’t be the kind of thing that would show up in your newspaper until 16 hours later, but it would already be up on our site.”

What Flannery means by “nuts and bolts” is that he could post news quickly about what players were hurt, who was going to play in that night’s game, who was mad, and what quotes were being said in the matter of hours. That’s something, which is completely different and couldn’t be done by someone writing for a printed newspaper.

Chris Forsberg, a Celtics writer for ESPN Boston, is one of the top, young and up-and-coming sportswriters in Boston. He writes game analysis, and game reactions for his blog on ESPN Boston. He said social media has changed a lot in the way sports news is reported on.

“[With social media] it helps facilitate how quickly we can distribute the news because of the 24-hour news cycle,” Forsberg said. “Essentially you got news you don’t want to wait to put in the newspaper anymore. There’s no more waking up to the news. You got to get it out there quickly whether it’s through Twitter, blogging or Facebook so that people can react to it.”

In fact, Forsberg said one of the best social media platforms in general for covering the Celtics is Twitter.

“Everything goes through Twitter now regardless of whether it’s a reporter breaking a story or it’s a player saying something,” Forsberg said. “Reporters would’ve called us crazy if you told us 20 years ago that a lot of stories, or a lot of what the athlete is thinking, would come through this 140 character site. It’s always intriguing to watch.”

In addition, he said that the one thing that social media and Twitter has done is foster a great sense of community with readers.

“You now have to have an audience,” Forsberg said. “You put the news up and you not only tell people about it, but now you’re getting them to react to [it] and to get outsider opinion, which sort of [starts] the conversation.”

It’s also interesting to note that Forsberg said players might not always be straight with reporters on camera. Instead, they might post interesting tweets by voicing their opinion about an incident, or something that happened during a game. Tweets like that could lead to another story too.

Jimmy Toscano, a Celtics and New England Patriots’ writer for Comcast Sports Net New England (CSNNE) and a blogger for CelticsBlog.com, went along the same lines as Forsberg, and said Twitter is very important for a reporter.

“If you don’t have a Twitter account, I suggest you get one,” Toscano said. “That’s the first place to get news today. I have a Twitter account and I follow [a] wide range of people that I get news so quickly compared to when it’s up on a website. [Twitter] really is the first place to get news depending on who you follow and what type of news you’re looking for.”

Toscano continued by saying if a story isn’t ready to be published, but there’s important information to get out there then tweeting is important. He said having your name attached to breaking news is important, and it gives you a leg up on the competition.

Since news has to be constantly updated and put on the web regularly, many reporters are approaching interviews differently too.

Toscano said nowadays digital media has made it so that interviews are on tape or video only.

“No longer is it just showing up [to interview someone] with a pen and pad and taking a couple of notes of what a player says,” Toscano explained. “It’s common to see bloggers, and online reporters in the locker rooms after games holding up a video camera, and recorder to a player who’s talking.”

Toscano might be referring to Forsberg as the one who uses only a camera and microphone.

“A lot of veteran reporters make fun of me because I don’t have a notepad or pen when going into the locker room,” Forsberg said. “Nowadays I carry three things. I carry my cell phone, a video recorder, and an audio recorder. Essentially that’s all I need when I’m in there, because those tools allow me to tell stories differently.

Forsberg said that using his digital equipment over using a pen and notebook allows him to tell stories not through just words, but by giving people pictures, sights and sounds of what’s going on in that environment.

Despite how quick stories get put onto the web and how sports journalism is changing; editing and the quality of writing are still very important.

“There’s great responsibility when posting online,” Flannery said. “Your writing has to be clear and without mistakes and sloppiness. I think the best part of sports journalism on the internet is taking the old school values that you learned and applying them into a much quicker medium.”

For more of an inside look at sports journalism, take a look at this video below. Some of the top Celtics’ writers and a student speak about the ever-changing world of sports journalism.

Happy 56th Birthday Larry Bird

Well it’s another legendary Celtics player’s birthday. It was on this day 56 years ago in the small town of French Lick, Indiana that the Celtics greatest player of all-time was born.

There’s really no place to start with describing how good Larry Bird was when trying to write this blog. I could probably write 1,500 words, and it still wouldn’t be enough.

In sports, one of the most overused words is amazing. It’s used all the time when a big moment occurs, or when a player does something that stuns the fans and media. But using it to describe Bird isn’t an overstatement. He was that good, and for many Celtics fans, he was simply the best.

For 13 years he, along with Robert Parish and Kevin McHale, led the Celtics to three championships in 1981, 1984, and 1986. In addition, they went to the Finals in 1985 and 1987. The three players also formed arguably the greatest front court in NBA history, and were dubbed the Big Three. But Bird was the straw that stirred the drink. During two of the championships, he earned the Finals MVP in 1984 and 1986.

Bird also won Rookie of the Year in 1980, league MVP three times from 1984-1986, and made the All-Star team 12 times.

Throughout the 80s, he and Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson formed a friendly rivalry that brought interest back to the NBA. After Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain retired, the league went into an attendance and lack of interest funk in the 70s. But the 80s were all about the Celtics and Lakers. Johnson would win five championships versus Bird’s three. In total, the Celtics and Lakers won eight out of a possible ten championships during this decade.

Despite the Lakers winning more, the 1985-1986 Celtics team is considered by many fans and media personalities alike to be the greatest basketball team of all-time. The Celtics went 67-15 on the way to their 16th franchise championship. They were so good that they lost just one game at home, in the Boston Garden, and that includes the playoffs as well. Like I mentioned above, Bird won the league MVP, and Finals MVP that year.

Bird was also the ultimate team player. He often sacrificed his body for the good of the team by diving on the floor for loose balls. In fact, his style of play led to numerous back injuries and an early retirement at the age of 35. To this day his back isn’t right, and it’s a reason why he resigned as president of basketball operations of the Indiana Pacers this past offseason.

There are even many moments of when he came up clutch, and I’ll name a few. Who could forget Bird stealing an inbound pass by Isiah Thomas during the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons? How about him exploding for 60 points against the Atlanta Hawks back in 1985? In fact, it was Bird who scored all 16 of the Celtics final points in that game.

Today, when fans debate on who was the greatest Celtics player of all-time, the argument always ends with either Bird or Russell. The late Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach even dumped fuel onto that debate by saying Bird was the greatest basketball player of all-time. Despite all the accolades and honors from the basketball world, Bird is still just a quiet guy from French Lick, Indiana.

Happy Birthday Larry!

Photo (cc) by nantonin and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

New Orleans Hornets to Change Name to Pelicans

This is a tad off topic, but it’s definitely worth blogging about.

According to Yahoo! Sports, the New Orleans Hornets are reportedly going to change their team name to the New Orleans Pelicans effective for the 2013-2014 season.

Team owner Tom Benson, who bought the Hornets back in April and is the owner of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, has wanted to change the name of the team to something that would be fitting to the state of Louisiana.

The pelican is the official state bird of Louisiana, and it appears on the state flag and seal as well. The Pelicans were also a minor league baseball team based in New Orleans from 1887-1977.

As far as the The New Orleans Hornets go, the team first started out as the Charlotte Hornets back during the 1988-1989 season. In 2002, they moved to New Orleans and kept the same name. Meanwhile, the league granted the city of Charlotte an expansion team for the 2004-2005 season, which would end up being the Charlotte Bobcats.

Analysis

When I first heard the Hornets were reportedly going to change their team name I kind of laughed. I mean can you see players telling their agents, “I want to be a Pelican!”

Besides, I find pelicans to be kind of creepy. Those long beaks and mouths are just freaky. I think I feel like this because they remind me of that flying dinosaur from the mediocre Jurassic Park 3who trampled all over a main character, and tried to bring another to feed to its young. Just creepy, but I won’t hate on pelicans. That’s just the way they were made. It’s not their fault.

Now that the news has sunk in, I understand where Brown is coming from. A pelican is part of Louisiana’s history, which I respect. However, If we’re going to change names, we might as well change the names of the Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz, and Memphis Grizzlies.

It would’ve been nice to see the Hornets become the Jazz again like they were during the days of ‘Pistol’ Pete Maravich. I also like the idea of the New Orleans Sound. It’s a fitting alternative to the Jazz, and a nice tribute to the musical past that New Orleans offers.

I also find it interesting that Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan is open to the idea of bringing back the Hornets name to Charlotte. Apparently, there’s a small group of fans who long for the past to a point where more fans are wearing the old-school Hornets apparel rather than wearing Bobcats apparel.

We shall see.

Photo (cc) by bertknot and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Rajon Rondo Suspended for Altercation With Kris Humphries

The bad news just keeps rolling in for the Celtics. This time starting point guard Rajon Rondo will be suspended for the next two games due to his physical altercation with Brooklyn Nets forward Kris Humphries yesterday.

Gerald Wallace and Kevin Garnett were also both fined for “escalating the incident.” Wallace was fined $25,000, while Garnett was hit with a $35,000 fine. Humphries wasn’t suspended or fined.

The fight started shortly before halftime during the Nets blowout win.

At the time, the Nets were up by 16 points. Kevin Garnett was driving to the basket when Humphries fouled him. Garnett fell to the floor, and by the time he got up, the pushing and shoving already started.

Rondo took exception to the foul and started shoving Humphries into the crowd. That led to other players going into the stands to pull them apart and for others to go and stick up for their teammates who were part of the scrum. Nets forward Gerald Wallace was the most physical player, outside of Rondo and Humphries, was shoving Garnett around pretty good.

So the question is, was the suspension Rondo received justified?

I believe it was. I’m probably in the minority for what happened, but the fact remains, he was the main aggressor. Humphries fouled Garnett a little harder than normal, but that’s basketball. But after the hit, it seemed like Garnett sold his fall to the referees a little bit. In other words, it was a little more dramatic than usual. Typical of NBA players these days.

What Rondo should’ve done was get in Humphries face, have a few words, and maybe shove him a little bit. Shoving meaning a few pushes, and not pushing him into the stands. That’s it. He probably wouldn’t have gotten suspended or even fined, and if he did get fined, it would’ve been real small.

My whole issue is everybody saying it’s good he showed toughness and leadership, and that he’ll stick up for a teammate. Does Rondo really have to prove to the world that he’ll stick up for Garnett who has been his friend and teammate since 2007? No it doesn’t. This isn’t the streets of Boston or Lawrence, Mass., where you’re trying to prove to your high school buddies that you’re tough. People promoting and saying Rondo “kicked Humphries ass” are ill-informed. If Rondo is going to be a leader, he needs to show better judgement. Celtics analyst Donny Marshall said it best by saying “being a leader means staying on the court.” Even Celtics coach Doc Rivers said it was a boneheaded move by Rondo. I understand that he won’t throw his players under the bus, but Rivers is usually a pretty stand up and honest guy. I believe he meant what he said.

I like Rondo a lot. He’s improving everyday. There was a time where I never thought he’d learn how to shoot a decent midrange jumpshot, but now he does. What he needs to improve on is his judgement of situations. This is the third time he has been suspended in the last nine months. That’s unacceptable of someone who is going to be a leader.

Personally, I think he isn’t ready to be called a leader. Some media members might have put that label on him because of the way he plays and facilitates a game.

But right now, Rondo is more of a leader in training, and whether or not he becomes a real leader is debatable. For all we know, he might not even want that title. The way I see it, as long as Paul Pierce is playing, this will be his team until he retires.

Kevin McHale’s Daughter Sasha McHale Dies at the Age of 23

Normally I try to avoid sad and depressing stories, but this was way too much to ignore.

A few weeks into the NBA season, Houston Rockets coach and Celtics’ legend, Kevin McHale took a leave of absence to deal with a personal family matter. No one really knew what it was, but it had to be big enough to pull him away from the job he loves.

Today we learn that family matter was taking care of his 23-year-old daughter Alexandra “Sasha” McHale who lost her long battle with lupus on Saturday.

The Houston Chronicle was the first to report this. Rockets owner Leslie Alexander released this statement:

I extend my deepest condolences to Kevin and Lynn for the loss of their beautiful daughter, Sasha, on Saturday afternoon,” Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said in a statement on Sunday. ” Kevin and Lynn are loving and dedicated parents who will need our continued support throughout this very difficult time.  Our entire organization is mourning the McHale family’s loss and we ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”

My condolences go out to the entire McHale family. I’m so sorry for your loss.

Photo is credited to “Lipofsky Basketballphoto.com and can be found at: http://www.basketballphoto.com/NBA_Basketball_Photographs.htm. Some rights reserved.

Impressions During a Visit to the Boston Globe

I’ve never visited the Boston Globe in my entire life. In fact, this visit would make it my second visit to a newspaper headquarter in the past week. Last week I interviewed Bill Burt at the Eagle-Tribune, so it interesting to see what newsrooms were like.

Anyways, as a class we toured the entire Globe facility. It was pretty neat to see the printing press area, and even neater to find out that the Globe not only prints their newspaper, but it prints out the Boston Herald and The New York Times as well.

After touring the printing area, we toured the newsroom and learned about some of the interactive media that the Globe is participating in.

My favorite feature they have in the newsroom involves Twitter. Throughout the newsroom, there are TV monitors set up on the walls and posts. On these TVs are tweets from Globe writers. Each tweet has some comical or interesting news related to their beat. Their tweet stays active on the screen until another writer tweets.

I like that feature, because it’s just interesting to see what’s on a Globe writer’s mind and what’s going with their beat. In fact, Bruins writer Kevin Paul Dupont had a funny tweet about the NHL labor strike, and the disagreement between the player’s association and the league.

Another feature at the Globe I found fascinating was a program they have called SNAP. The Globe has a $25,000 interactive display that shows every Instagram picture taken around Boston. The pictures are used as a source for stories. The pictures at the Globe are also shown on a map of Boston, so if a picture was taken at the Old North Church, than a picture will hover over the location of the church on the map. In a way, SNAP is like an interactive version of lifestyle and culture in Boston. You can bet if people visited a bar or tourist attraction and took a picture, then uploaded to Instagram that the Globe media lab will use it.

I like how people can put captions within their picture, which captures the essence of the photograph. For example, if someone goes to Halftime Pizza, takes a picture and writes a small caption saying how good the pizza is; the Globe technically gets a picture along with a small review.

SNAP is such a neat feature for the Globe.

Although confusing, the cascading of tweets was interesting. The Globe keeps track of all the tweets about its articles. Who is tweeting about what and what tweets are gaining a lot of interest are also focal points of cascading.

I found “open captioning” to be interesting. This is a feature where a media outlet can tap into the Globe’s network so that any speech that’s being presented on their channel will appear as text on the Globe’s “open captioning.” I was confused by this, but my impression of this feature is that if Fox News is having Mitt Romney on to speak, and are tapped into the Globe, the speech text will appear. I might be repeaing myself, but I’m trying to clarify what I was told this program is. It’s confusing, but a unique feature.

Finally, I got to see Adam 12 do his radio show for Boston.com radio (RadioBDC) and I was intrigued because I’d love to have my own sports radio show here in Boston. I love talking about sports and I’m pretty knowledgeable. If I had a dream job, this would be one of them.

I liked visiting the Globe. I’ve been reading it since I was able to read newspapers, so it was fun to see how things work. I definitely want to work here one day, that’s for sure. For now, I need to concentrate on the rest of this semester and next semester before I walk in that direction.

Picture is from the author of this blog’s personal media library. Some rights reserved.