G For Three

It’s inevitable. Change. You can grab the onrushing train and try to hold on, jump out of the way, or be flattened.

In 1979, the National Basketball Association introduced the 3 point shot some 22-23 feet away from the basket. I will not bore the shit out of you with statistics of how the game has evolved (or devolved) since then, but scoring changes in sports can affect the game fundamentally, the two point conversion in football being the other obvious case.

I will however flash my big man bias and tell you that there is nothing more frustrating than running up and down the court, posting up with great position, hoisting my hand in the air, and watching as the point guard jacks up another three. Oh wait, there is something more frustrating. Setting a high screen and roll, having a clear path to the basket, then watching the point guard jack a three over TWO defenders as I shoot an air layup showing where my path would have been.

The temptation of a possible three points seems to alter the thinking of players, coaches, and fans. Is the big man a thing of the past? Not really. Now you just have big men working on shooting threes. Dirk Nowitzki was the pioneer of this shift, and for a while it was a novelty to the point that he was the only one doing it. Now there’s a handful of guys approaching or exceeding seven feet tall who can shoot a three pointer with enough accuracy that it needs to be addressed by the defense as something more than just a novelty. Brook Lopez, Marc Gasol, Nikola Jokic, and Joel Embiid are just some examples of the paradigm shifting from the lumbering big man setting up shop on the low block to the “stretch” big man setting a pick, then setting up shop behind the three point line.

It is still my assertion that the best big men can do both. And that is what I try to do now when I play in rec leagues and pickup. Am I an effective three point shooter? I’ll call myself streaky; I’ve had games where I’ve hit two or three threes in a row and then others where I haven’t even come close. But by no means have I abandoned my post game. Some dinosaurs will never be extinct, but they definitely will have to be agile enough to grab that three point train.

Album of the Month: Coldplay “A Rush of Blood to the Head”

I acknowledge that Chris Martin, lead singer of the band Coldplay, is a douche. So much so that he can be rightfully called the archetype of the new millennium male douche. Sensitive, angst-ridden, cause-supporting, earnest, sappy, hipster, whatever adjective you use, he planted the flag firmly and claimed a new planet of adult alternative contemporary pop-rock with the 2000 anthem “Yellow” (from their major label debut “Parachutes”) soon to be crowed at karaoke by college bros deeply in touch with feelings they never knew they had. Millions of album sales, and the inevitable backlash, came swiftly.

The next album would, rightly or wrongly, determine Coldplay’s fate and direction. In 2002, they released “A Rush of Blood to the Head” and it became clear from the outset: Coldplay came to play. Martin’s angst remains ever present throughout his lyrics and yes, he overreaches at the heartstrings plenty of times.

But the real power of this album is the band.

Whereas “Parachutes” can be so ethereal and atmospheric to the point of disappearing, Rush of Blood maintains a constant rock presence and feel. Piano, guitar, drums, bass all come together in plenty of soaring choruses and memorable hooks. The opening song “Politik” is a globalist call from Martin to “open up your eyes” and “don’t forget the rest of us” over a two chord power punch. He does keep bringing it back to love and doubt and fractured relationships throughout the record, and as his depression increases, the record becomes deeper and more compelling. Even when the lyrical sappiness is turned up to 10 on “The Scientist”, the gorgeous melody carries the song. By the end of the record, the next to the last song is the title track, and Martin is ready to watch the house of broken promises burn to the ground. Easily the highlight of the album. The final song “Amsterdam” finds Martin completely adrift and ready to end it all, but before hope is lost, salvation is found: “Stood on the edge/Tied to a noose/But you came along and cut me loose”.

(editor’s opinion)

FINAL CUT: This album is full of soft piano leading to soaring chords and melodies. Coldplay probably peaked with this album but it remains their finest work top to bottom. Martin never quite gets to where he wants to be, but his confusion, depression and anger make for some great moments. If you’re a fan, this is in your top 2 Coldplay albums. If you’re not, start with this one.