No one man is a team

Maurice Fitzgerald and Peter Canavan gave two of the best individual displays the one seeing eye here ever witnessed in All Ireland football finals. Maurice practically steered Kerry past Mayo, Peter and his colleagues were robbed of at least a second chance by an utterly attrocious decision from a referee who considered himself the greatest thing since sliced bread.

In both cases, the mercurial magicians were feted afterwards for their efforts. Rightly so. Maurice kicked ten points to steer Kerry past Mayo in 1997, Peter had actually gone one better two years beforehand against Dublin.

The similarities didn’t end there. Jody Gormley was the only other player to raise a flag for the O’Neill County, Pa Laide being Maurice’s sole accomplice against the Connacht kingpins. What often gets overlooked though is the fact that they didn’t create all the scoring chances themselves.

Peter The Great

Yes Fitz essayed one of the truly great scores from a sideline ball (Not the last time we would see that!) but throughout the rest of the game, which was marref by a horrific injury to Kerry’s Billy O’Shea, it was the efforts of and combination with his team mates which made it all possible. Similar of course applies in the Canavan case.

Maurice Fitzgerald

Somebody really needs to show the tapes of those matches to James Harden. Houston Texas is a long way from either Ballygawley or Caherciveen, but, for anybody with even a passing interest in Basketball – and the NBA in particular – what is already one of the big stories of the year has been developing thence.

Basically, what it amounts to is the now Brooklyn Nets star having a hissy fit – another one – only this time he got his own way. For anyone not into or up to speed with things in the fast paces five-a-side fare, Harden – who looks like a double of comedian Romesh Ranganathan – seems to think he’s in a league of his own.

A few years back, he was apparently righteously indignant at not being voted the NBA’s MVP – Most Valuable Player – that code’s equivalent of Player Of The Year. This despite the fact that (a) the accolade is voted upon by the fans and the media and (b) the Houston Rockets hadn’t won a Championship whereas the likes of LeBron James (Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers and LA Lakers) and Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)  had.

The latter should be a moot point mind you. Across various sports, there always have been and will be top notch performers who do not attain the exposure or therefore recognition their talents undoubtedly merit. Like a hurler from, aptly enough, Tyrone or Kerry or, as was wonderfully highlighted by one of Navan’s greatest exports, Tommy Tiernan, on his show recently, Leitrim hurler Zak Moradi from Iraq. Yes, you did read that correctly.

Zak Moradi has a GAA story like no other

Zak originally came to Carrick-On-Shannon at the age of 11 to escape Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, whereupon he immediately fell in love with hurling. From there, he not only went on to achieve the dream of every youngster that ever picks up a hurl – he lined out and won in Croke Park – but also began spreading the Gospel in Tallaght, Dublin, where he now resides.

No doubt you are probably wondering – particularly if you are from outside of Ireland – what all of the preceding section had, if anything, to do with James Harden. The simple explanation is just to illustrate that just because a player doesn’t – notionally at least – receive the acclaim others, or themselves, reckon they should, doesn’t mean that firstly they’re not there or, more significantly, not worthy of such commendation.

However, when many people would understandably lose empathy with Harden’s desire to get out of Texas was in his reasoning. Because, from this vantage point at least, it appears that what the gloriously bearded one obviously saw as weaknesses in his erstwhile employers emanated from those around him. Both on and off the court.

James Harden lining out for the Houston Rockets

There seems to be two very distinct schools of thought when it comes to coaches in the NBA. Clubs either either change coaching structures with the regularity most people change a light bulb while there are others who believe in affording their sideline directors the longevity required to make a meaningful impact on their franchise.

Now, the latter plan of attack is even more prevalent in Colleges basketball – which is as big if not an even bigger deal than the senior stuff – where the likes of Tom Izzo and Roy Williams and Mike Kryzyzewski have been in their jobs, in some cases, longer than I’ve been alive. To find somebody of comparable staying power in the NBA, turn to Greg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs who is in the midst of completing a quarter century at the helm in the Lone Star state – during which time he has overseen five Championship successes.

Gregg Popovich is in his 25th season in charge of the San Antonio Spurs

In contrast, the local rival Rockets, since the departure of Rudy Tomjanovich as coach, have not kept anybody in charge longer than four years. Granted, comparative to soccer in England, four years equates to a lifetime. From the time I became properly re-attuned to the NBA again around a decade and a half ago, Jeff Van Gundy, Kevin McHale and Mike D’Antoni got as near as anybody is likely to getting the Rockets to lift a Championship. So for Harden to earmark shortcomings of erstwhile colleagues on and off the court as his reason for leaving is as disingenuous as it is unfair and wrong.

What’s even more puzzliing is,  when he did want away, and knowing how much he obviously values himself, why he would choose the Brooklyn Nets over some of the better, more competitive teams is baffling. For as long as I have been following the NBA properly, the two New York clubs have been among the worst in the league.

Back in Texas, they seem to have adjusted to post-Harden life well enough. With Steven Silas getting his chance as a Head Coach after donkey’s years as a number two and with a roster including PJ Tucker and John Wall and Victor Oledipo as well as the very promising Christian Wood, this observer thinks they will be quite alright!

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