Who really wants the smoke?

So it seems that Rucker on Wood has once again become a lighting rod of opinions. Normally, the discussion is who outplayed who, or who’s gotten better since the spring, but unfortunately now, the talk has shifted to what kids didn’t show up and why. As parents we all get the Bobby Brown pass- It’s our prerogative to do what we wanna do with our kids (that may go over some of yall’s head), but I’m a goon! And goons COMPETE! Unless you’ve already made it, I feel like you HAVE to show up!
I get it, the kids have played all spring & summer long, with different events across the country.. I know. I hear ya’ll. But you still have to show up. Unless it’s clear and established that you’re the top dog, a la Sahvir Wheeler (which in that case MAYBE you don’t show up), you need to make it a priority to be there… Although I would have liked to seem him there too, because when De’Aaron Fox, Ndudi Ebi, & even Daniel Gibson were the top dogs, they still showed up.
These days, so many players have trainers they work with religiously, that going out to just hoop is a lost art form. And listen, I’m  definitely not saying trainers are a bad idea. I’m all for skill development and think it’s essential in the growth of a player, but just getting on the blacktop and letting your natural talent takeover has definitely been put on a back burner.
This generation would rather go to a skills session as opposed to going to the gym and playing pick up. When I was growing up, dudes would go to the park or gym and just play.. with anyone! That’s where we learned our “in game” skills and moves. With the growing number of “open runs” the NBA trainer guys like Chris Johnson, & Rico Hines are having, it’s putting a premium price on the skill of just hoopin’ again. These “open runs” are just organized pick up basketball games for NBA guys, and I’m loving it. A bunch of guys getting in the gym, lacing them up and getting after it.

Rucker on Wood is very similar to this, and  as Jim Hicks likes to proudly announce, “It’s the world’s largest pick up basketball games”. A chance to just go hoop, and a chance to show your peers in front of their boasting, quick to say they are better than you parents, that you’re ’bout that action. Not in your summer team or high school team’s offense that set up for you to succeed. Not while hiding behind your higher ranked teammate. On the court. Using a well known and elevated platform to showcase your basketball IQ, how well you can play with other great players, and that you can move without the ball, affecting the game in more ways than just scoring. And honestly, as an evaluator, I want to see these things; I like seeing how guys respond on different stages.

If you aren’t on a college visit, injured,  had death in the family, or a medical emergency, I think you and your player should been there. Especially underclassmen! And PLEASE don’t give that “they need rest” excuse.How much rest is needed for 15 and 16 year olds? They don’t rest from Fornite, or IG, or Snapchat. They don’t rest from being on FaceTime all night. But when it comes to playing in an event like this, they need rest?!?! Not one kid in the class of 2020 or 2021 in the Houston, TX area has already made it or should be above coming to compete. If you’re an adult-parent, mentor, or coach- who’s condoning not showing up because of rest or claiming “You don’t need to go that stuff.”, then I think there needs to be a bit of reprogramming.
It’s important kids understand the significance  of competition and the growth in competing. Being an adult is a competition, raising a family is a competition, getting and maintaining a job is a competition, hell,  life is a competition! I’m just a believer that you have to always want the smoke. No matter when, where, why or how come, let’s get on that court and get to it! You may think an event like Rucker on Wood may be trivial, but giving kids a pass on competing is not!

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