10 May 2010

Rajon Rondo lives for the playoffs

The first time I heard about Rajon Rondo, it was from Bill Simmons as he raved about the kid's talent in a column on ESPN.com. It took a couple years, but eventually Rondo blossomed into the great point guard that Simmons had seen coming. He's long, quick, athletic and he passes exceptionally well. The biggest flaw to his game is shooting, but for whatever reason, he can get to the rim even with his defender knowing he's not going to take that 15-foot jump shot.

The most interesting aspect of Rondo's game is the way he statistically blows up in the playoffs. During the regular season, he's a good-to-great point guard. During the 2008-2009 regular season, he averaged 12 points, 8 assists 5 rebounds and a couple steals per game. Then the playoffs rolled around, and over 14 games he averaged 17 points, 9.8 assists and 9.7 rebounds per. The guy was a walking triple double.

Apparently that's just how Rondo is wired, as we see a similar story this year. From November to April, he averaged 13.7 points, 9.8 assists and 4.4 rebounds. Playoffs? 17.9 points, 11.4 assists and 7.1 rebounds, including an incredible 29 point, 13 assist and 18 rebound performance against the Cavs yesterday. He just takes it to another level when the games matter most, a characteristic all the greats have had.

He may have been overshadowed by Garnett, Allen and Pierce these last couple of years, but watch for him to take this team over as The Big 3 age.

06 May 2010

World Cup 2010

I don't often covet things this much, but I want to go to the World Cup in South Africa pretty badly. I spent five months there in 2002 as a proselyting missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints... most of it in the Cape Town region of the country, though I was near Johannesburg for a couple weeks.

South Africa is a stunningly beautiful country with its share of problems. Poverty abounds in what are called townships, essentially shack cities made up of non-whites. While apartheid is no longer law in South Africa, the people continue to segregate themselves pretty effectively, and racial tensions are always high.

Nonetheless, I've wanted to go back pretty much since the day I left. But the prospect of visiting while the nation is hosting the World Cup kicks that desire into overdrive.

If you were paying attention to the time I was there the first time, you'll notice 2002 was a World Cup year, and the way soccer brought all South Africans together was nothing short of amazing. Black, white, colored (a South African term for children of a mixed relationship), it didn't matter. They all loved Bafana Bafana (a nickname for the national team meaning "boys" in Zulu) and cheered them on from their homes and from bars during every match.

I can only imagine what uniting power this event will have on the country, possibly to a long-lasting positive effect, and I'd love to be there to see it.

The Freakonomics bloggers wrote about a temporary effect hosting such a large event can have on a nation.
Hosting an international football event does, however, seem to improve national wellbeing (the “feelgood” factor). The BPS Research Digest blog reports that the games are associated with big happiness boosts: “three times the size of the happiness boost associated with gaining a higher education; one and half times the happiness boost associated with getting married; and nearly large enough to offset the misery triggered by divorce.” The effect, unfortunately, lasts less than a year.
Pretty neat stuff, and a big reason sport is so popular worldwide. You invest a lot into a team, a player, a sport, and then, every once in a while, it all pays off.

Go Bafana Bafana!

03 May 2010

Top 10 plays of the first round

Don't agree with J.R. Smith's breakaway dunk being #3, personally. I generally give more credit to plays made when there are defenders within 50 feet of the guy making the play.