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Post Info TOPIC: Big Fros and Short Shorts--Strat Ball Tourney
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Date: Mar 12, 2016
Big Fros and Short Shorts--Strat Ball Tourney
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Lately I've been watching a lot of old school basketball on YouTube. Lot's of games, clips, and highlights from the sixties, seventies and early-mid eighties. It's around the era I grew up and played basketball in high school, and to say I have a nostalgic preference for the era would be an understatement. I am an outsider to the game now, when I was a fundamental part of it's community thirty-forty years ago. Watching these players from my youth--and even before-- has spurred a renewed interest in the game I used to love.

So with that in mind, I dug out my old Strat-O-Matic game from back in the days. Not the "current" version, but the old school game, with the big red board and and box and all the pawns. I had literally not looked at it with any interest in over thirty years. I remembered it being kind of clunky and kind of a poor predecessor to it's improved cousin, and it had sort of taken up space in my closet with nowhere to go but the thrift store.

Fortunately, I don't throw my gaming stuff away, or at least haven't for a long time, and this has reminded me why I don't. Because as I looked through the cards, bent, warped, and stained though some were, wow, what a flood of memories. The only season I ever got with the original game was the 78-79 season, which I believe is the last Strat produced in that format. At the time it was not one of my favorite seasons;  the Lakers were not one of the better teams and I hated the Sonics, who won the title that year.

But thirty five years later it seemed like an uncovered goldmine of great stars of the past, as well as lesser known players I had forgotten about. So I randomly selected a couple of teams, the Celtics and the Nets and played a game.

And you know what? Once I got the game mechanics and the flow down, it wasn't that bad at all. In fact, it was actually a lot of fun. I had to refresh my knowledge of the rules a little, but it was amazing how quickly things came back to me, and within a couple of quarters I was playing it as fast as Strat's FAC version. Timing requires a little diligence--gotta remember to move the pawn--but it was really cool to visualize players like Dave Cowens, Tiny Archibald, and Bob McAdoo do their thing. Or not do their thing. The Celtics had no defense and got run by the Nets 117-93. And as a more mature gamer, I was actually able to see some things in the original engine that I undoubtedly missed the first time, and ways around some of the clunkiness that I had not thought of before.

So I decided to set up a tournament. Something that won't take too long, a ladder, double elimination tourney within each division. Fifth seed plays four (or six plays five in the other two divisions), losers goes to the loser bracket, winner advances to play three, loser of that game plays loser of the first game, winner advances to play two, and so on. Division champs meet in a best of five, conference winners play in the Championship Series in a best of seven. Nothing too complicated, and enough to get a flavor of the season, which was one of the most competitive in NBA history. No one won more than 54 games, no one lost more than 56. No nights off, and anyone could beat anybody. A far cry from the current NBA, but I digress ( and I could go on for pages, so don't get me started.)

I don't know how long this will hold my attention, frankly, and my other project will likely take precedence. The lack of home court advantage ihn the game might start to annoy me (or I might just come up with a clever way to add one), or the fact that foul drawing/committing is only indirectly accounted for may become a pain. But right now, I'm enjoying myself, and not worrying about those things too much. In spite of these "issues" in the handful of games I've played, I gotta say, the results have been very realistic.

So pick yo' "fro" to spherical perfection, put on your short shorts, and return with me to the time of 3-to-make-2s, no damn three point shot, post play, and what's this, fast break basketball? 



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"I hated the Sonics"

Say it ain't so! disbelief

Geez...we win one stinkin' title...wink

I'm curious as to what colored your perception of that team.  Sounds like you were possibly rooting for the Lakers?  They were a real team.  Lenny Wilkens was a wonderful coach (and remains a Seattle icon to this day), having inherited a team that started the previous season 5-19, and taken them to the Finals, where they lost in the seventh game.

The next season, I was lucky enough to be home on leave, and I got to go to all three home games in the Sonics' series against L.A.  It was a great series, close games, very exciting.

I had to leave again before they reached the Finals, so all I got to hear was the final game, which I stayed up all night to listen to on Armed Forces Radio in a small hotel room in Naples, IT.

I remember being so excited.  I bounced out of bed, got dressed and was going to head over to the club.

Until I remembered that it was almost 5 a.m.

So I turned around, got undressed, and went to bed.

Some celebration.

I admit I have never played SOM Basketball (or hockey, or football).  Something about the (perceived?) notion of all those incremental individual player movements on each play.

I found an old basketball game box at a local Value Village shop once.  It had a few parts and some cards.  But not enough to actually play.

It's not something I ever seriously considered, since I already spend so much time involved in my baseball replays.



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I don't know, probably being a Laker fan, but there was just something about that team I really despised. They played ugly, they were ugly, their uniforms were ugly--I just hated them. ;)

That being said, I agree they really were a great team, better than the sum of their parts, and actually were very admirable in a lot of ways. But when your fourteen, passions can run rather high and become irrational I guess.

But Dennis Johnson, Jack Sikma, Lonnie Shelton--those were some ugly dudes. Haha...

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CENTRAL

New Orleans Jazz (#6) at Cleveland Cavaliers (#5)

NO   34 20 21 19-94

CLE 26 27 38 28-119

High Scorers 

NO: Pete Maravich-21, James McElroy-14

CLE: Campy Russell-21, Butch Lee-16

The Jazz started out hot, and Maravich couldn't miss. Then foul trouble hit, and the Pistol kept misfiring, and the next thing you know, the Jazz were in a hole with no way out. Maravich and Spencer Haywood both fouled out, and the Cavs got great bench production from Lee, Mike Mitchell (16 pts.) and John Lambert (14). The Jazz had major matchup issues throughout (the only way Lambert could get that many points) and were just brutally cold in the second half (40 pts total.) The Cavs also benefited from some home cooking; the made 29 of 43 free throws, while New Orleans only went to the line eleven times, making nine. It pays to sag  (most teams defended that way back then) because you give up way to many free throws otherwise, and the Jazz learned the hard way not to play out on everybody who could knock down a jumper. Especially Maravich and Haywood, who should have been playing back on everybody, and/or guarding less prolific scorers. Count this one as a learning experience.

Campy Russell, Cleveland



-- Edited by pfunkone on Saturday 12th of March 2016 06:08:42 PM

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pfunkone wrote:

I don't know, probably being a Laker fan, but there was just something about that team I really despised. They played ugly, they were ugly, their uniforms were ugly--I just hated them. ;)

That being said, I agree they really were a great team, better than the sum of their parts, and actually were very admirable in a lot of ways. But when your fourteen, passions can run rather high and become irrational I guess.

But Dennis Johnson, Jack Sikma, Lonnie Shelton--those were some ugly dudes. Haha...


I get it, totally. wink

That Sikma hair was...I can't really find the words.  But it was better (maybe?) than the perm he had later.

He was a big banger who fought hard for his success.  Same with guys like Paul Silas.  I'm sure he's the type of guy who'd be one of your faves, if he was patrolling the paint for your team.

Like Maurice Lucas.



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Silas got amazing mileage out of the tail end of his career with Boston and Seattle. Guy could barely make a layup, but as you mentioned, he was an enforcer who could D-up post guys and grab boards and loose balls. And when necessary clock guys who drove the lane a little too easily. He was a good teammate and he fit the Seattle profile; great D, couldn't hit the Pacific Ocean from the Santa Monica Peer. (Sonics were 19th out of 22 teams in FG% that year, but first in defensive FG%)

Speaking of goony looking Sonics, how could we forget Dennis Awtrey, who sported the white man fro for most of his career? Haha.

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PACIFIC

Golden State Warriors (#6) at San Diego Clippers (#5)

GS 31 8 30 35-104

SD 15 22 25 19-81

High Scorers

GS: Wayne Cooper 22, Robert Parish 18

SD: Swen Nater 18, Randy Smith 17

This game felt more like a modern game--there were stretches where neither team scored or even came close. Normally a club can't survive an 8 point quarter, but that Golden State did was a testament to the Clippers cold shooting. Lloyd (not yet World B.) Free couldn't hit anything from anywhere and finished with 9 points, and his backup, Freeman Williams, who was in the league for one solitary reason, because he could shoot, couldn't, and finished with just 4. Nater and Nick Weatherspoon (12 pts.) did yeoman work on the boards for the Clips, who were actually petty good that year, but their defense was not that strong and the Warriors took advantage down low. Purvis Short also had a nice night from the perimeter for the Warriors (14 pts.) Jojo White also had 10 for Golden State, which is noteworthy only because it came for Golden State. I had forgotten he got traded that year and finished his career there, unwilling to deal with the nightmare of the Celtic disintegration.

Jojo White, Golden State (?!)



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MIDWEST

Chicago Bulls (#5) at Indiana Pacers (#4)

CHI 33 24 17 43-117

IND  42 18 27 26-113

High Scorers

CHI: Artis Glimore 36, Wilbur Holland 16

IND: Billy Knight 19, Alex English 18, James Edwards 18

Both teams started on fire, but the balanced scoring of the Pacers thrust them into a fourteen point lead as late as the ten minute mark of the fourth quarter. But two things did Indiana in; the complete inability to contain the A-Train, and a nearly futile approach to free throws. Gilmore simply dominated, especially late, and the Pacers combined to miss 17 foul shots, six by Mike Bantom, who finished 3 of 9 from the line (Indiana was 21-38.) Chicago finally took the lead back with about 1:45 to go, then then finally decided to play some defense, keeping the Pacers off the board the remainder of the game, save for one English bucket. Mark Landsberger pitched in 10 points and about 15 rebounds off the bench (not keeping those stats, although I might by the conference finals.) Pacers had a nice team, but Buddha (Edwards) just wasn't up to the test of the Train, and surprisingly neither was Len Elmore, who was utterly ineffectual. 

Artis Gimore, Chicago



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Yeah...not much you can say about Awtrey.

My guys were mainly Sikma, Downtown Freddie Brown, Gus Williams and John Johnson.

Man, if only Brown had played his career in the three-point-shot era.



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Yeah, he shot 37% for his career. Fred played five seasons with the rule, but never really exploited it. Few teams really used the three then. It was just for comebacks and the occasional show of range, and I liked it better that way, personally.

**Rant alert** (which is not directed at you, Seaj by the way, but it segues into my biggest pet peeve about the current incarnation of the sport)

Admittedly I'm in the minority on this, but I fervently believe the three point shot has ruined the sport, and I don't feel that I'm exaggerating when I claim that. It has eliminated the post game, the intermediate game, moving without the ball, and the fast break, reducing modern professional basketball to a redundant series of pick and pops, and drive and/or kick forays by dribble addicted guards and wing men.

You can't run the break if the opponent's offense has three or four guys back on every possession because they are arrayed around the arc, which is why there is little real fast breaking, and the rare times it does occur, wing men fan to the arc looking for open threes, rather than going to the hole. You don't really need a post game as a big man if the ability to shoot from the perimeter becomes over-valued, and you don't need to try and move without the ball if all you need to do is spot up and wait for your teammate to beat somebody off the dribble and kick it to you, or wait for the ball to be reversed to you after the defense sags to stop the penetration or the defense of a ball screen. It's boring, unimaginative, and turgid.

But franchises gradually did the math and they have come to realize making and defending the three is the key to winning, so the way in which they play has come to reflect that unavoidable fact. If anything it will only get worse, as analytics drives the game toward greater extremes of layups and threes and nothing else. I can't blame teams and players for adapting to that mathematical reality, nor for those who invented the idea (blame lies with the ABL in the early sixties.) They thought it would create offense and set their league's apart from the established NBA. I don't even take issue with the NBA for relenting to pressure to adapt it. I don't think anyone could have realized what it would do, and perhaps no one besides me cares.

Because if you know nothing else, how would you know there is a better, more varied, more urgent, and ultimately more interesting and aesthetically pleasing way to play the game? People think the Warriors or even the Suns with Steve Nash, define entertaining fast break basketball. Please. If the current Warriors stats are compared with the teams in this project, they would be the slowest team in the league by pace, and if you convert their threes to twos, they would be below average in scoring for that year.

Last point in my rant, because I could go on and on...

My 17 year old daughter, not unfamiliar with athletics, but not a basketball fan, was watching a clip from the 62 Finals with me. Lakers-Celtics, grainy, black and white film, with players still limited by the strict interpretation of a proper dribble, for as Oscar Robertson reminds people, guys could not dribble the ball from the side--it had to be hand on top of the ball, fingertip control, or they would get called for a carry. It made them look awkward and mechanical when they really were no such thing, but it's unnerving if you don't why they handled the ball that way. A lot of people see those old clips and say "hey look at the stiffs." But when they go for rebounds and shoot the ball, for example, there's usually very little difference from today's athletes. A little, but not much. 

Anyway, she's watching for about two minutes and she says, without any prompting, "you're right dad. The game was more entertaining to watch back then." 



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I'm with ya, 100%.  I also believe today's zones cover a multitude of defensive weaknesses.

Of course, today's interpretation of the rules won't allow for the physically-aggressive man-to-man they used to play.  In fact, those defenses were so good, they had to loosen things up.

Give me Red's Knicks, or any of the great Celtic teams.  Great, fundamentally-sound.  But no one remembers those guys any more.

Remember Shaq's mind-numbing comment to assistant coach Lenny Wilkens, when they were preparing for the Olympics?

"You played, coach?"

What an insult!  Imagine someone in Dodger camp, saying to Sandy Koufax, "You played?"

Shaq has otherwise always seemed pretty savvy, especially regarding his place among the game's great big men.

What I find amazing is that can happen in probably the best game for showcasing how a sport has evolved.  From Elgin Baylor, to Connie Hawkins, to Julius Erving, to Michael Jordan and on to guys like Kobe and LeBron.  There has always been a sense of "How can I top that?" in each new generation of young players.

Of course, there are probably still a few folks who still think they should be shooting two-handed set shots.

I think Freddy Brown would have easily been a 40% shooter from three-point range in today's game.  It's all in how the game evolves over time, and what you are training to do.  Bob Cousy would still be Bob Cousy, but different, in that he would have faced different challenges and adapted to those conditions.

Maybe he would have been Steve Nash.

Wilt would still run the court with any big man in the game (remember, he also ran track at Kansas, and played guard for a season with the Globetrotters).  Picture an unnervingly-strong big man who could run the court, and also had a nice array of post moves.  Add good enough down-low ball skills to lead the league in assists.



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Yeah, it's frightening to think what Wilt would do today with no one but Dwight Howard to even approach him physically. They were still trying to get Wilt to come out of retirement to play 18 minutes a night when he was fifty, and I've never heard anyone that saw him play that would doubt he could have.

I think Jordan inadvertantly set the game back too, which again, is not a way to gain popularity points with other fans. He was great, of course, but that was the problem. He created the illusion and the acceptance that hero ball could win titles, which was reinforced by the media looking for a simple narrative, and now every team has to have that "go to guy" or they can't seem to function. The Celtics, the seventies title teams, and then Magic and Larry went a long way demonstrate that teamswon titles, and while having great players was always necessary, making your supporting teammates better and trusting in their abilities was critical to succcess. That's very rare now, and I'll give the Warriors and Spurs credit for not falling into that trap. Curry can be a bit impetuous with his shot selection, but is actually pretty unselfish for a guy who can shoot like he does. The Warriors and Spurs share the ball, have many people who can beat you, and that is why they are detroying the league.



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I remember that, about Wilt.  If I recall, it was the Cavs who made the offer.



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ATLANTIC

Boston Celtics (#5) at New York Knicks (#4)

BOS 31 27 36 23-117

NYK 30 30 28 34-122

High Scorers

BOS: Bob McAdoo 34, Dave Cowens 21

NYK: Ray Williams 27, Toby Knight 15

Uptempo, not a lot of defense, but a fun game to play. McAdoo got Knight in foul trouble, which shifted the offensive onus to Williams and the Knick bench. They rose to the occasion, as Joe C. Meriweather and Earl "The Pearl" Monroe had 14 and 13 points respectively. Altogether, New York got 42 from their reserves, while Boston got just 20, and that was the difference in the game. That and getting Cornbread Maxwell in foul trouble; eventually he DQed with 13 points, and the Celtics missed his rebounding and efficient low post offense. Because they can't guard anyone.

Ray Williams, New York Knicks



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CENTRAL

Cleveland Cavaliers (#5) at Detroit Pistons (#4)

CLE  29 27 26 28-107

DET 27 34 20 28-109

High Scorers

CLE: Jim Chones 34, Campy Russell 31

DET: Kevin Porter 22, Bob Lanier 21

Chones missed a layup with five seconds left that would have sent it to overtime. Otherwise he was utterly unconscious and Detroit had no answer for him. The Cav center shot an incredible 22 free throws, made 16, and fouled Lanier out. But the Cavs could not hold a thirteen point fourth quarter lead, and M.L. Carr (15 pts.) led the Piston comeback, retaking the lead with about three minutes left. With Lanier on the sidelines, KP took a more aggressive approach and dropped mid range jumper after mid range jumper on Foots Walker and Co. Mike Mitchell had another solid game off the bench (13 pts.) but the Cavs got little outside of the Chones and Russell. John Liong was injured and missed the second half. Earl Tatum stepped up with 14 for the Pistons.

Jim Chones, Cleveland Cavaliers



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