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Friday, Dec. 10, 2010
Time for league to get wise, promote names
By ED ODEVEN
Here's a brilliant idea: Expose the masses to the bj-league's most prized assets, its former NBA players — Kyoto Hannaryz guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Tokyo Apache center Robert Swift and Saitama Broncos guard Kenny Satterfield and Apache coach Bob Hill, a veteran bench boss of four NBA teams — during All-Star weekend next month in Osaka.
It would be a win-win situation — for players and fans, media and sponsors, the league office and the sport as a whole, too. That's why the league, which often defies logic, will probably find an excuse to not utilize this quartet's unique star power to help popularize this beautiful game in Japan.
One of the league's leading voices for progressive change, Akita Northern Happinets coach Bob Pierce, proposed a series of clinics, which would certainly create the chance for increased media coverage for a league that often fails to get widespread coverage on the national level.
For starters, Pierce suggests that something known as the Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf shooting clinic is a no-brainer for the league to set up.
"I talked to Mahmoud before our game today," Pierce told The Japan Times on Sunday. "He would love to do a shooting clinic for Japanese kids.
"Now wouldn't that be natural?" he added rhetorically, referring to the 41-year-old sharpshooter who's averaging 11.0 points per game while shooting 54.5 percent from 2-point range and 90 percent at the free-throw line.
An Abdul-Rauf clinic would be "a great way to promote basketball, the bj-league, a former (very famous!) NBA player, NBA Japan, etc."
The 183-cm Abdul-Rauf, a former All-American standout at LSU (known as Chris Jackson in those days; he was the No. 3 pick in the 1990 NBA Draft), scored a team-high 18 points on 9-for-15 shooting on Saturday against Akita.
He was one of only two Kyoto players to reach double figures in scoring in the team's 17-point loss. And, now in his second season with Kyoto, he's still capable of causing fits for opposing coaches and defenders.
Listen to Pierce's explanation: "He put on a shooting clinic in our game Saturday. Pull-up jumpers off the dribble. Catch and shoot. Curling around screens and shooting with that picture-perfect release. He's the same size as many Japanese players. They should all be learning from him about balance, release point on the shot, reading the defense, using screens. . .
"He may only be here the rest of the season. Don't waste his time in Japan."
Pierce also believes the league should have Hill conduct a coaching clinic, while Satterfield (15.6 ppg, a league-best 7.3 assists and 2.0 steals through Sunday) should be on hand to run a ball-handling/point guard clinic. Add Swift (12.1 ppg), who has Japanese heritage, to the mix to teach the basic skills needed for a big man.
"There will be a lot of players and coaches available," Pierce noted.
He's absolutely right. In fact, the league should send out a memo today instructing each team to select a handful of players to be available to assist at these clinics and require each head coach and assistant coach to also be ready to chip in as well.
Think of the message that would send to the fans and the national media: The bj-league is truly serious about becoming one of this nation's premier sports leagues.
So here's my advice: Call the bj-league office (03-3798-8881) or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org voicing your interest in seeing these NBA veterans lend a hand in a series of All-Star weekend clinics.
There's still plenty of time to transform this idea into reality. The 2010-11 All-Star Game is scheduled for Jan. 23.