The last year has seen the intensity on the court in world basketball escalate a lot. Once upon a time NBA and college players would find lesser leagues away from the spotlight where they could relax and make a living for themselves. But those days are no more in the dog eat dog world of international basketball.
Josh Childress was selected 6th by the Atlanta Hawks in 2004 and had played 8 seasons in the NBA before signing with the Sydney Kings last year. Despite being a laid back character with very smooth basketball skills, under the bright lights of Perth Arena the NBA veteran fired right up with an elbow to an opposing players face in just his third game.
Shanel Harrison was a star college player for Virginia Tech and La Salle. She to had a similar reaction to the intensity of the Finnish basketball league last year where she king hit an opposing player after several physical exchanges.
And last month three former NBA players got into some super heated exchanges during a quarter final in China. Von Wafer (Lakers, Rockets, Celtics, Magic) got ejected for punching an opposing player in the stomache and then threw a chair into the crowd. Hamed Haddadi (Grizzlies) and Jeremy Tyler (Knicks) were also involved in a confrontation when going to shake hands.
There’s another video of the teams trying to fight once they return to their locker rooms but there’s like a million security guards keeping them apart.
This trend of world basketball lifting American players intensity has been noticed by NBA organisers. Every year while the NBA All-Star weekend draws the best players from the league in an East vs West showdown it never delivers a genuine contest. To give you an idea of the intensity of play, this year’s All-Star game was won by the West 163 to 158. That’s not a basketball score, that’s a game of T20 cricket (coincidentally another sporting event which isn’t a genuine contest).
So this year organisers added the innovation of a “World Team” to try to fire up the next generation of All-Stars in a “Rising Stars USA Team”. Unfortunately the game sucked. The World Team won 121-112, which to give it credit is at least a real score. If for some reason you want to watch 8 minutes worth of uncontested dunks then you can watch highlights of the game below.
While it was unfortunate the World Team failed to fire up the Rising Stars at the All Star weekend it did seem to have a big impact on the energy levels of some of the NBAs lesser stars in Jeremy Lin, Jordan Hill and Swaggy P as they celebrated the Lakers (14-41) hard fought win over the Celtics (20-33).
While Kobe’s intensity levels also rose after this event it is thought they will be channeled in a more “Josh Childress” like manner as opposed to the “Swaggy P” style.