Just a quick one for now. I know how much I harp on this, but as long as the sports media use the weakest, dumbest arguments imaginable to pound home their "kids today" trope, I am going to keep calling it out.
I normally like ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb, but he's got this new argument, which he trotted out on ESPN radio last night that is just so mind-numbingly dumb, at least as he portrayed it, that I don't know where to begin. HIs argument is as follows: the current generation of basketball player is part of the "AAU generation." That is, the top high school players are all playing tons of games in various AAU tournaments being held around the country. And, apparently, in some of these tournaments, you can lose some games and still move on in the tournaments, partly because the tournament organizers want to make sure that the highest profile teams with the highest profile players get as much face time as possible.
And, because these kids are playing so many games - maybe three or four in a given day, according to Gottlieb, and so many overall, that, you guessed it - they don't care whether they win or lose anymore. This is true even compared to ten years ago, though I promise you that if we were listening in on a sports radio conversation circa 1995, we would be hearing a different variant on the exact same argument - that kids today don't give the same effort, they don't have the same values system when it comes to competitive athletics, etc.
As with all such arguments, there has to be some evidence, however thin and lame. And, what's the smoking gun "proving" Gottlieb's point about the AAU generation: this is my favorite part. It's the fact that UNC point guard Ty Lawson took two terrible shots in the final minutes of the UNC collapse against Georgetown Sunday, even though, as Gottlieb and an ESPN fill-in host asserted, Lawson is a "terrible" three point shooter.
Let's get a couple of facts straight. First, Lawson is not a terrible three point shooter. He shot just under 36% from three point range this year. That's not great - but it's definitely good, clearly above the threshold for being a worthwhile thing to do. If you shoot 36% from beyond the arc, you're being as efficient with your shots as someone who shoots 54% from two-point range. That is indisputably good. Compare Lawson to Georgetown point guard Jesse Sapp. Sapp went 2 for 4 from long range on Sunday (Georgetown shot an out-of-their-minds 8 for 14 overall), whereas Lawson went one for four. But, Sapp shoots just under 30% from distance, which is poor. I don't think I need to explain why extrapolating from two shots in a regional championship on Sunday to an indictment of Lawson's three point shooting in general is dumb. But, it's worse than that. Isn't every player of significance in this tournament part of the same generation as Lawson? Gottlieb has, of course, implied that Lawson jacked up two bad shots on Sunday because he doesn't care whether he wins or loses so, what the hell. Of course, anybody who's watched Lawson play this year knows he's an intense competitor who obviously cares about winning. But, beyond that, is Gottlieb suggesting that Roy Hibbert, Jeff Green, Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Jr., Al Horford, Aaron Afflalo and every other participant in the final four - all members of the same "AAU generation" - don't care about winning. And, if he is saying that - what proof does he have? Two shots by Tywon Lawson, from which Gottlieb has built an argument indicting an entire generation of baksetball players.
This is just ludicrous stuff.