I am virtually adopting Brannen Greene, as my player to give XTReme Belief in this season...while I remain a member of the the last team

  • Each season I pick one troubled player, or one player that is not getting the breaks, but who is furiously trying to make it against all the odds. Last season I embraced Hunter Mickelson. Another season I embrace Mario Little. Before Brandon Rush recovered, I embraced him. After he recovered I embraced the player that started for him until Brandon recovered. When Brady got suspended I supported him. I don’t adopt the guys that are a little down, or a little in the corner. I just cheer for them and find flaws in their games that could make them get better. I adopt the guys that are all the way down–the guys on the ropes with Drago bearing down on them–the guys about to lose their dreams, the guys with fire in their bellies that burns on the verge of consuming them BEFORE they learn to harness it. It doesn’t always help, in terms of turning a season into a fairytale ending for such players. There is no way to overcome not being good enough. All of us sooner or later aren’t good enough. Even Big Russ, Wilt and Michael Jordan finally weren’t good enough. Father time, if not Father talent, is an ultimate opponent no one beats.

    I ran out of talent long before I had to play and lose to Father Time in basketball. No one gave a shit about the end of my career but my father and mother and me. But I guaranty you I mourned the passing of my career as much as Big Russ, Wilt, and Michael did theirs. It is one thing–maybe the only thing–Michael, Wilt, Big Russ and I share in common–we all lost the last competition–each of our basketball careers ended. Finito. Over. Memory Hole.

    These young men on the KU basketball team that are so much better than I ever was–they will one day, sooner, hopefully much, much later, be teammates of mine in losing the last competition. We are the biggest team in basketball–the team no one deep in their hearts ever thinks they will join–the team no one wants to be a member of–until they are on it–and even then a part of them wishes they weren’t–but knows its the Tao of Basketball–it is the one way ride. It is the discovery that time’s arrow points only one direction and its forward.

    This team, it includes my deceased brother and father,. It includes many other dead Jayhawks: Phog Allen, and W.O. Hamilton, and Dick Harp. The only dead Jayhawk it may not include is James Naismith. I truly have never seen, or heard it documented beyond a reasonable doubt that Jimmy ever actually played the game he invented. And I doubt, if he ever did, that he ever played for another coach. He is the Father–the immaculate father.

    This team, It includes the living too. The living in a kind of blessed basketball purgatory, where they get to cheer and be members of this team that lost the final competition of their lives. It includes Bill Self. It includes Roy Williams, Larry Brown, Ted Owens. It includes former Jayhawks like Dean Smith, Danny Manning, Jarrod Haase, Tad Boyle, and KU coaching disciples over the years too numerous and KU players too many to recall here.

    The team is vast.

    This team, it includes non Jayhawks, too. It includes Ward Lambert, Henry Iba, Claire Bee, Pete Newell, Frank McGuire, Don Haskins, Al McGuire, Ralph Miller, Tex Winter, Jack Hartman, Eddie Sutton, Bob Knight, Mike K, Rick Pitino, John Thompson and son, Jerry Tarkanian, John Calipari, Sean Miller…and so on. They all lost the last competition.

    All of us that ever picked up a basketball and made a team, even if only briefly, we are all, like it or not on the same team now–the biggest, baddest, most talented and least talented team in the game. The team of players that lost the last competition; that finally had to quit going to the gym to please a coach, and win some moments on the sacred wood with the black lines and the orange rims with the white nets; that finally never got to be on a basketball team again playing the greatest game ever invented; the team that has only one opponent–death itself. Once you are on this team, you are on this team. This team is big and it grows bigger each moment. So far, anyway, even death cannot take away teammates faster than they are added each year. We are the Father of All Basketball Teams. The Last Team any of us will ever be members of.

    It is from this vantage point, through a flat computer screen, that I experience and process Brannen Greene’s reputed melt down and 6-game suspension, and place it in its proper (at least for me) perspective.

    It is from this vantage point that I virtually adopt players like Brannen.

    It is from this vantage point that I notice all these guys that I have adopted eventually made something of themselves, eventually transcended the self-made shit storms they became involved in during their time under the KU spotlight before their final competitions.

    Why do I do this? Why do I care? Why do I love these players so? Why do adopt the most troubled among them, at least the most troubled from the outside looking in?

    It is not as simple as supporting an underdog. Most of these guys have been massively favored by the basketball god in terms of physical abilities and talents. Most of them 60 will still be able to be better than I was at my best at 17-18.

    I have often asked myself why give an aglet at the end of a lace in the eyelets of a petro shoe anymore about these guys? They are not even on my team yet. They have not even lost the final competition yet. They should be supporting me, not the other way around. They still get to play.

    I am just a stinking, often incorrect, inconsequential board rat engaging in an ephemeral activity of posting on an internet basketball site. Its data packets will in time be lost to all, but the NSA, who will absurdly keep them stored in some deep cavern under Hutchinson, or Area 51 Nevada and never looked at, for centuries, unless some idiot in the national security bureaucracy mistakes this infinitely loyal citizen for a basketball terrorist. I am in short a basketball fan with no rational influence over these player’s futures that I can discern, whatsoever.

    So: why do I adopt and defend incompletely neural-netted guys that don’t even know I exist; that are probably too young and too caught up in their own problems to care that I care about them?

    It has taken me awhile and millions of words to explain it to myself, to distill it into something both understandable and true, at least to me.

    I have had to wade through many self-deceptions and misunderstandings of the issue in pursuit of these diamond hard gems of insight.

    Consider them not as your reasons, but as evidence that if you seek to know why you post, or what good it does, you too can find your own truth trodding down the dark hall I have virtually walked the last ten years.

    The insights distill as follows.

    Everybody needs as many people to care about them as possible, and I can afford to care about these players, so I do.

    Player’s growing up are part of the “amazing things that happen in that building” and our caring for them is a minor, but nothetless significant contributor to the amazing things that happen in that building.

    The amazing things that happen in that building are part of the living myth of Kansas basketball, and that living myth knocks the callouses off the hearts of many and enriches the spiritual lives of all that touch it for any length of time.

    Self makes mistakes with guys, but if he has enough chances to get better with a kid, and if a kid gets enough chances with Self, amazing things can happen to the lives of players in that building, and my caring remotely influences that, and even the hard core empiricists can measure the contribution by how hard it is for opponents to win in that building.

    Once upon a time on a web site far, far away, a member of the Manning family reached out to me and thanked me for what I had written about former KU assistant coach Ed Manning, and I can never forget that, and so I can never quit believing that the messages in a bottle that I write, that we all write here, might help some good persons, somehow, struggling some times, against seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve a worthwhile goal.

    A person struggling against seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve a worthwhile goal is the true definition of a hero.

    Heroes matter.

    Heroes that will one day be joining my last team matter.

    We are all in this together.

    I believe.

    Go, Brannen, go!

    Rock Chalk!

  • If you adopt him, does that mean he gets to inherit your vast fortune should you pass?

  • @jaybate-1.0 I’m sure his parents would sign him over! Jk

  • Nice work Bate, very touching, put tears in my eyes.

    Since his recent punishment I am really rooting for BG. I like his attitude on the court. We need more players to show some flavor on the floor.

    Poor kid missed out on Korea experience and now his dream of playing in Maui, once in a lifetime opportunity, was taken away. Despite getting limited PT he has stuck it out so far. He is a Jayhawk at heart and I respect him for that.

    Lets hope that he graduates from KU with flying colors, gets a solid college career as a BB player and a has a long professional career in the L.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Nice post!

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