Wolf: Of zones and men

May 27, 2010, 5:44 AM | Updated: Jan 14, 2011, 4:19 pm

Competition is an aggressive act. Since the beginning, competition pitted one man against another, opposing each other, imposing their will upon the loser. Many times one man was superior to the other. Many times, physically, one of the competitors had a severe advantage over his opponent and it often cost his inferior his life. They called them gladiators.

Gladiators used their brains as well. They didn’t just charge into the arena and, without thinking, propel themselves at their sworn enemy. And if they did, they often found themselves on the ground looking up at their better, looking up at thumbs pointing down.

Man has always used his brain to overcome physical deficiencies. It is what separates us from the beasts of the field, muzzling their way threw the dirt, scavenging for food. We have the ability to think, to reason, to plan, to overcome by using the power of thought.

David was a shepherd boy. Goliath was a warrior that stood 9′ tall. What did David do? He used a sling to bring the giant down. He didn’t charge in with a short-sword and try to run the bully through – even though he had divine intervention and protection! He used his head…he used a sling.

So why do people look down upon the Phoenix Suns for playing a zone defense? Competing is about winning and Planet Orange is using its brain to get back into the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Purists are screaming, “They’re playing a zone because they can’t guard the Lakers straight-up. At the NBA level, you never play a zone unless you are inferior to your opponent and don’t match-up well. The Suns can’t guard the Lakers and that’s why they are playing a zone.”

What brilliance this is, what sapience? This is riveting stuff to which I say, “Duh.” You don’t get this type of hardcore analysis just anywhere. It takes the best and brightest minds to bottom line it, doesn’t it?

Aristotle said “the hardest victory was over self.” Sun Tzu said, “Know your enemy and know YOURSELF.” I say, “Humility is a wonderful master.” One needs to know his own weaknesses, know his own short-comings and have the humility to acknowledge them without looking through the prism of false bravado and misguided machismo. One needs to know when to use his brain to win, when to use his brawn and when to use a combination thereof.

After all, we are man.

If you have a problem with the Suns playing a zone because they don’t match-up well with the Lakers, if you think it is anything less than manly to do so, if you wish to mock the Suns for playing their “girly-man-zone,” I implore you: stand up, lift your knuckles from the ground and walk upright.

Welcome to the species.

Penguin Air

Ron Wolfley

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Wolf: Of zones and men