“Nein… Nein… Nein!” scream my German relatives as their favorite biathlon athlete (sport where athletes ski to targets and try to hit them) misses three straight targets to seemingly seal his fate. He has disappointed my family by his failure. Poor guy, he looked nice enough. Yet he will have to wear that disappointment throughout his day. What is his name? I don’t know, and I’m not going to pretend to care. He had one job, to hit the target! In biathlon one has five shots, and he missed three; THREE! Embarrassing. This failure is comparable to the Falcons Super Bowl choke, the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead, and Ohio State forgetting to play football versus Clemson. Well, maybe not as bad, but still I’m taking time to watch men in skis shoot targets the least they can do is hit them.
I love my German heritage, the culture, the food (the Beer) and the people are amazing and I’m proud to be a part of it. Yet my German heritage also lends itself to stubbornness and sometimes anger. It is built into the language; just listen to “German compared to other languages.” Harsh syllables and loud bursts strike fear into children around the world. Just ask my friends who have heard my mother explode in German, that’s horror-film-quality terror.
There are many things in the world of sports that coax my harsh heritage into the forefront. These things are actions, words and positions and I could list a million. For the sake of time I will mention two things that’ll make me scream “WAS MACHST DU?!” Damn, I feel your fear, hell I scared myself writing it.
I have not met a more aggressively average athlete than myself. Seriously, I was never bad or great, just average. Yet there is a task, due to its simplicity, that I managed to somewhat master. Free throws. Yes, one thing that requires no athletic skill to be average at I somewhat mastered. I would shoot 70% at the line (with no crowd or fatigue so let’s round it down to 60%). Yet professional athletes for some reason can’t manage this simple task at an average level.
Andre Drummond ought to be embarrassed as an athlete due to his inability to make free throws. He has a career free throw percentage of 38.7%. For comparison, every player at my former high school that has taken more than 15 free throws shoots over 50%. As the movie Hoosiers famously stated, the free throw line doesn’t move, it’s 15 feet in high school, and 15 feet in the NBA. A man that will make 22 million dollars in a year wouldn’t even be on the floor late in games at my alma matter, an 8-12 team whose tallest player might be 6’4”. This boils my blood and sends steam through my ears. Free throws are easy to practice, standing at the line and shooting is simple. Drummond is paid large sums of money to do this, and he is worse than most high school starter’s in the country at free throws. Imagine if an accountant was “Andre Drummond” bad at his times tables, someone asks the guy what 6 X 6 is and only 38.7% of the time does he get the right answer, would anybody even let him sniff their money?
“WAS IST LOS MIT IHRE FEHLEN FREIE SHOTS!!!”
I am tired of Charles Barkley. Normally I love and support guys with hot takes, but I just cannot take it (puns) anymore. “He don’t want to compete?” he says of LeBron James. Insert face-palm, how can a man who doesn’t like competing have three rings? Charles insists players of his generation never teamed up. Charles joined the Rockets and failed to win a ring. Even Michael Jordan loved when Dennis Rodman came. This isn’t an era thing, players like playing with good players. "This new generation, they all stick together, they all play together, they're all AAU babies… Any type of criticism directed toward them, they consider it hate. Even if it's a fair criticism, they consider it hate.”
This is a fair comment from Barkley by the words spoken, however the tone of what he says is misguided. Charles finds it a negative that players control the league, that players are friends. His notion that the glory days were filled with guys that hated anyone not on their team is, to him, a positive. I argue that players are smarter today. They know they can compete on the court and work together off it. They make more money, control their owners more, have better brands. NBA stars are also more skilled in today’s game. Charles Barkley would not be a star in 2017. Barkley didn’t work hard enough. He didn’t take care of his body, he would be eaten alive by the grind put in by modern NBA stars.
I realize this isn’t about Charles himself but it is about what he says. He throws around these accusations and judgments without evidence or logic, only based on feelings of the glory days. He remembers the good ole days only for its good and not its bad. He thinks Michael Jordan punching teammates made for a better league, I laugh at that notion. He thinks that a slow-paced, unskilled, bumping in the paint and playing at the free throw line league was more entertaining, I scoff at that thought. He glorifies the past, only because he doesn’t embrace the truth.
As does Skip Bayless, who daringly makes the claim that LeBron isn’t clutch, that he will never touch Michael Jordan in the “clutch” gene. The claim that LeBron James is not as clutch as Michael Jordan is not based in fact. It is a false claim pulled out of his anal cavity inspired by a nostalgia-goggled meal. I’ll prove it.
It’s game 7 of a playoff series, LeBron and Michael are on the floor together (lord help the other team), they are down one with two seconds left. Who gets the ball? LeBron James should, no question. LeBron has made just as many game winners in the playoffs as Michael and has missed less, therefore, LeBron is who you want shooting the game-winner. James is also only one point behind Jordan in PER during playoff games. One point is not a large margin; it is not a “can’t touch” gap. James is blowing away Jordan in playoff series in two important sabermetric statistics. He has more win shares than Michael Jordan, he also has a higher VORP (value over replacement player). All of this in two less seasons. LeBron’s performance in the past two NBA finals should be enough proof that he is a better player in bigger moments (definition of clutch) than Michael Jordan. This isn’t 100% though and it is fair to say Michael had a “killer instinct” and was “clutched”. This is not sufficient to say that LeBron is not a clutch player, that is a lie.
The past has a way of casting a shadow over our brains, erasing the bad and keeping the good. The truth however is much clearer when you take off the nostalgia goggles. Tom Brady is better than Joe Montana, that’s not even a debate. Yet for some reason we have to engage in it because of nostalgia goggle crazies. These arguments persist across not only sports but pop culture. They are fruitless to fight. For the human memory Is the trickiest customer to satisfy. They believe the Star Wars originals are flawless and no one has ever thrown harder than Nolan Ryan (Aroldis Chapman clearly does). These goggles are the poison of sports debating, and I cannot wait to be rid of them; if that day ever comes.
“BIST DU BLIND?!”
With my gears properly grinded I need to rest, for the anger of a German requires a lot of energy. If this poor biathlon can’t win, which he is catching up so don’t write him off. He will feel the air move around him with German anger. It is all fun and games until the German gets mad. Germans are happy and vibrant; we celebrate the month of October, because it’s October. We party for an “Onion festival”; but if anyone is ever in Germany and hears a loud harsh yell followed by a beer being slammed on the table, run. They must run like the wind was carrying them. Or perhaps they can stay and brave the following fury and terrifying language. It is quite a site to see, a German yelling.