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“Old Indian game. It’s called, uh, put the ball in the hole.” – Randle McMurphy, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Basketball really is as simple as an in-character Jack Nicholson says it is. Put the ball in the hole, stop the other guys from putting the ball in the hole, and you’re all good.
It’s only us loonies that insist on making it more than it is -– a story about humans, mental achievements intertwining with physical capabilities, or the guys with the colors I like against the guys with the colors I hate.
The trick to putting the ball in the hole is getting there, because –- here’s the catch -– the hole is pretty high in the air. 10 feet, to be exact. Most of us are not 10 feet tall, not remotely, not even with our hands stretched up high.
But if you can get your Chief Bromden lookalike to stand under the basket and hold the net shut, you can shut off the other team.
Dwight Howard won the genetic lottery, a 6-foot-11 behemoth with springs for legs and boulders for shoulders. But to dismiss his defensive dominance as the natural conclusion to the combination of his parents’ DNA is lazy and ignorant. True, Howard’s sheer being is domineering on the basketball court as we approach the rim –- even as an 18-year-old rookie with almost no idea how to play the game, that build and athleticism were enough to average 1.7 blocks in 32.6 minutes per game -– but over the years, Howard has become the first player in NBA history to win three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards because of his ever-increasing understanding of how to take that Apollonian structure and utilize it with devastating effects.