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Basketball without backbone: The NBA has an 11-year-old prospect

There’s a video running across folks’ Facebook pages this week of the 11-year-old high school varsity basketball player.

It’s stupid, don’t try and tell me it’s not.

If you haven’t seen it, congratulations, you’re probably a better defender, basketball fan and person already.

The kid is 4-foot-something and the images look like an NBA video game when you create the shortest player possible, jack up his speed and agility attributes and then run through defenses, creating a surreal scene that takes you, a 5-8 white kid, into your pro-hoops dream scenario. I just crossed over Kobe and dunked on Dwight Howard.

But that’s a video game, with the emphasis here on its illusory characteristics. In reality, my jumper is shoddy and left-handed layups defeated me years ago.

The fact that a coach even plays this kid is the fault of a defense-absent, offense-first mentality created by the NBA.

I never thought I’d tell you I can as easily watch a high school girls basketball game as I can the NBA. After watching what feels like 200 girls games since November, I’ll tell you, high school girls in Wyoming play better defense than the Los Angeles Lakers.

Take that for what it’s worth, not as a slight to the girls but as a statement on highly-paid, supposedly elite athletes.

Basketball at the highest level is a dancing with the stars spectacle. Until the playoffs in June, the best way to watch the professional version of the sport is via cut-up late night highlights.

Oh, Seth Curry just double-skip bounce passed a three-quarter court alley-oop? Cool, I’ll watch that for 30 seconds. But the no halfcourt D, no-stop-ball fast break symphony that is the majority of the game? No thanks.

I miss the ‘90s (I was 8, but hang with me) when a trip to the lane more often than not ended in a rendezvous with someone’s elbow and subsequently the floor, face first.

I want someone to drop this little fifth-grader with a flagrant body slam when he tries to criss-cross dribble his way into the lane.

Seriously, watch the video. In the second snippet a much taller defender plays like he has four fouls, puts his hands straight up in the air, feet flat on the ground, creating a scene of Shawn Bradley with four fouls getting scored on by Muggsy Bogues. (That sentence explained: Shawn Bradley was an awkward 7-foot-6 center, his NBA career defined mostly by said height. Muggsy was known for his small stature. He stood 5-foot-3, was a sports photographer’s obscure image dream, and to this day the shortest player ever to play in the NBA.)

The CNN reporter that interviewed this fifth-grade star point guard spewed some silly question precluded by, “basketball experts are saying it’s like nothing they’ve ever seen…” That’s a complete lie unless these basketball experts are Wolf Blitzer, or even better, Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless.

Take it for what it’s worth. The kid has got serious quickness and an impressive jump-shot for his age, but if anyone on the floor put a body on him, end of story.
End rant.

I think I’ll watch some USA baseball this weekend.

Brad Estes is the Sheridan Press’ Sports Editor.

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Brad Estes

Sheridan Press sports editor

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