When the words “National Basketball League” gets uttered in public, there is an immediate smirk on people’s faces who have been in the game for many years. In summary I can sum up the last 15+ years of basketball in South Africa.
Corruption, nepotism, fat cats, back door deals, misappropriation of funds allocated, egos, lies, lawsuits, poor management skills, poor leadership traits from Xco members and, believe me when I tell you this, the list goes on and on.
Ask any true “baller” the state of basketball in South Africa and be prepared for a sit down session, because there is a lot of baggage to be offloaded. It is hard to explain the passion, the love for the game and the burning desire just to be able to put a leather ball in your hand which “ballers” have.
Once the love for the game has bitten, it is hard not to get caught up in the hype, the excitement, the fashion, the rivalry between teams with size, skill and shooting ability. As a Scientist, I have the privilege to coach many sporting codes and I truly understand what each sports physical, mental, and performance needs are but there is one sport that I would say is the king of all sports with regards to how tough it really is, and you have guessed it… its basketball.
Calm down, I know there is Rugby and American football out there but hear me out. All sports require you to be fit, that is a given. Rugby and American Football requires you to have muscle size and short range explosive contacts and with few runs with exception of the wings . Football on the other hand requires you to be lean and mean and have an incredible amount of endurance.
Basketball on the other hand is a very demanding sport. You are required as an athlete to sprint down the court and fight for court positioning whilst running plays to try find an opportunity score. Then you are required to sprint back to defence to defend against some of the biggest monsters you have ever seen. I am six foot five and when I say some of these players are bigger than me, that is what you have to stop penetrating the ‘key’ scoring area.
If you manage to get that right, then you still have to keep a watchful eye on four other players trying to cut through ‘dunk on your face.’ A terminology used by a player dunking over another player, the ultimate belittling of an attacker on a defender.
If you manage to survive through great team defense then you still have to put your body on the line when your opponent decides to drive straight to the basketball. Like a live kamakazi pilot he drives straight to the hoop and if you didn’t manage to steal the ball on his first dribble you have to hold you position without moving otherwise he gets the foul on you.
Sounds easy right? You put yourself on a railway road and then try stopping the freight train.
When the dust settles from all the action, the players have to pick up from where their opponents left off and get back on the attack. Without boring you with calculations, top NBA basketball teams at high intensity on average sprint 20m, free throw to free throw which is approximately 105 times during a match.
Add the plays, add the physicality and then add the mental strength needed to keep composure. For this reason I would say basketball is the king of human performance sports. If you don’t believe me, find a local court and try out basketball for yourself. The bug just might bite!