Today’s Fastbreak columnist Joseph Nardone kind of understands what Mark Jackson was getting at when he said that Stephen Curry’s “hurting the game,” but it was phrased very poorly.
Mark Jackson says things. Lots of things. In fact, he gets paid for sounds to make its way through his vocal chords and pass the hole below the nose and above the chin. He is, mostly, pretty solid at it. Then again, sometimes he isn’t. You know, because speaking to a national audience for a few hours a week will inevitably result in some poorly phrased thoughts leaving any person’s mouth.
His latest poorly phrased thought was concerning Stephen Curry. The former Golden State Warriors coach thinks that Curry is “hurting the game.” Now, to be fair, many people are taking only a portion of his words and phrasing it that way. The entire context of words, which still isn’t tremendous, doesn’t paint it in a way which makes it sound like he’s hurling Curry under some sort of bus.
During the Warriors’ Christmas day win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jackson said, “Understand what I’m saying when I say this. He’s hurting the game. And what I mean by that is that I go into these high school gyms, I watch these kids, and the first thing they do is they run to the three-point line. You are not Steph Curry. Work on the other aspects of the game.”
There are multiple layers to this. Not all of which are horrible.
One could likely presume that Jackson meant this in a way that’s more like how Michael Jordan stunted the growth of young players. Much like how young combo guards used to emulate Jordan — which resulted in many years of ugly isolation hoops — young players today will emulate Curry. Meaning, they’ll hurl shots from behind the arc because that’s what they see happen on the picture-box on the regular.
If that’s Jackson’s point, then fine. It’s somewhat accurate, though it does ignore entire contexts of that discussion which should lay no blame toward Curry at all. It’s not as if Curry is responsible for the development of high school players throughout the country, and the idea that he should be to blame for being too good at what he does seems rather silly.
Coaches, at all levels, are the ones who are responsible for developing talent. What’s odd about Jackson’s comments, one which focuses mainly on players shooting from distance, is that for years people have killed grassroots basketball for not teaching the fundamentals of the sport. Curry’s game, shooting obviously included, is based off of fundamentals. He simply happens to excel in every one of those fundamental skills — shooting, dribbling, free throws, passing, etc.
Honestly, Steph Curry should be the posterboy to show how practicing all those skill sets we’ve sworn grassroots hoops has ignored can result in a player becoming great — even if limited by a lack of size or natural ability.
Mark Jackson probably needed to elaborate more on what he was saying. I highly doubt he literally feels Curry is destroying the future of the game. If he does feel that way, however, then he needs to take a minute, sit right there and let me tell him a story about how I became a… never mind.
Broadcasters have a tough, mostly unrewarding job. Very rarely do we ever write think-pieces about all the smart things they say. It’s a high-wire act, with no safety net, which results in social media fodder for every poorly worded thought which the broadcaster tries to articulate in seconds.
It doesn’t help here, in this instance, that Mark Jackson used to coach the Golden State Warriors. Never mind the fact that he should never be calling these games, at least this soon removed from the position, anyway. His mere presence in the booth puts everyone in weird positions. Jackson has to dissect his former team. No one can take anything he says seriously. Either he’ll be perceived as being too biased, too bitter, or too whatever.
The only good that comes about Jackson’s regular calling of games is the fact that Andrew Bogut knows no chill. One of the few guys who played under Jackson who apparently disliked him, Bogut will never let a slip-up by Jackson slide. He’s become, essentially, Jackson’s ombudsman. And, well, it’s rather neat.
Here’s the thing, really: None of this matters. People are (and already have) going to make a huge deal out of this, but Jackson wasn’t attempting to diminish Curry. He was more likely trying to explain how kids emulating him from the three-point line — while ignoring the rest of his fundamentally sound skill set — is bad for the game. And, technically, it’s true.
Regardless, emulation of superstars is a thing that happens every single year by our country’s youth. It isn’t strictly a thing owned by Curry’s being the star today. When I was a kid, my cousin and I emulated Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. Guess what? Neither of us were as good as them, and when we hit the ages of playing basketball with coaches who developed players, I was no longer hurling up any baby sky hooks towards the basket. Emulation stops when basketball gets competitive, a player’s own skill set becomes more defined and coaches put them in a position to excel. If it doesn’t work that way, then it’s on the coaches…not the players kids are trying to pretend to be.
No one is excelling playing the way Curry plays. He’s a unique talent the type of which we’ve never seen before. He’s truly hard to describe to those who haven’t seen him play, as it doesn’t make all that much sense.
As for Jackson, well, dude simply needs to be more careful with his wordsmith abilities and chill. Disney should’ve pulled him from Golden State games long ago, but at least Twitter has something to be outraged about today. Thing is, it’s mostly outrage about nothing.
Yup. Mark Jackson is today’s social media outrage Seinfeld or something.