"Sighhhhlent Night...of mannnnnnnnnnnnnnny nights...all's not calm...all's not clear...Heavenly Angels are nowhere to be found..."...

user-pic
Oooops...and here I thought I sent this the night before...my bad...my friend, Bob Condotta, a true literary genius and advisor to me from the Seattle Times Sports, told me the most difficult aspect of writing a blog is keeping it "current and fresh..."...Just remember this Dear Friends, y'all like cold pizza and heatin up the Chili the next day right? Okay, so my current blogit is "day old"...Peace on Earth...Enjoy!

December 17, 2007...It's 8 days here before Christmas in China, and I gotta tell you, they are into the commercial "spirit" of Christmas very well...We have lights, trees (plastic, wire, steel, rubber, paper...you name it, they've got it...), Music of ALL the Christian songs BUT instrumental only...you know, you can only "go" so far with the English language...but it stops there, i'm afraid as the store owners and employees really don't understand the true "Spirit" Sante Nicholas and the Birth of Christ, yet if they did, they would celebrate it in a most caring and wonderful Spirit...The Olympics in Beijing this coming summer will either enhance or diminish the opportunity to, worship as a community...This past General Assembly of the People's Republic of China passed a measure (remember that political word: measure) allowing the their citizens the right to worship in a Church...BUT it must be approved by the respective authorities and government for times of service. observances and of course NO OPEN exhibition of faith in Public at anytime...By my "measurement" that's a tremendous step in the right direction as the country becomes more "wired" to the Free World..Think about it: we gave them Windows, they love it and also have pirated it on the streets of Beijing, but this small gift of mankind to his fellow species will have more to the ever-changing culture than I would have ever imagined BEFORE coming to China...Think about it: Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and Bill Gates are the pioneers in accessing one's modalities for learning...Wow...and China has carefully weighed in on this phenomena of Windows (great name, Bill) and VISTA and realize that as powerful as that software may be, WE can have better methods of control over our citizens than at any time before...Meaning, that every major city has at least ONE University that is specifically centered on Technological Research and Development...I happen to live in the largest demographic for such schools...One that has over 26.000 thousand students attending...plus a couple more with less enrollment...Wow, talk about "digressing" here, how'd I come up with Bell, Edison and Gates in the same sentence? I must be SICK!!! Back to hoops Hades...

Last night's game...let's see, HOW do I or HOW can I put that loss in perspective...Hmmm, let me think a minute............................................................Okay, here's how bad it is on the road: there are 3 things I don't like when coaching basketball and sitting on the bench: 1) losing because the effort was lacking...2) unforced turnovers and 3) when the freakin PA puts on Engleburt Humperdinck Elevator music with 9 mins. to play and we're down 30...Geeze Louise, I thought I was on the Columbia Tower Elevator forever goin to heaven listening to that music and having to sit and watch our inept play...We've had 4 blowout losses whereby the PA's put on the most numbthinking music score to keep the people entertained!! Can you believe they ACTUALLY stayed to the END, swaying to and fro in their seats to the music, oblivious to the action before them...I gotta remember that one: when you're beating an opponent baaaad, and it's the 4 Qtr. mid to late, it's important to entertain the masses with soft music so the guests are comfortable as they "ride" this one through to the end...What do we do at home when we're getting slammed? We play WALTZ music or Mitch Miller Big Band Music (Tie a Yellow Ribbon...)...Anyway, maybe I'm being to over dramatic here, but all the same, it's a really painful loss to me when the game devolves into an Elevator music fest and the only thing missing is Robert Goulet as the emcee...Where's my Bombay Sapphire? Oh yeah, I'm drinking Green Tea these days to help with my cold and cough...but a lil Elixir "should" also help now and then, no?

Okay, here is my Christmas Wish to all the little munchkins and "lynchpins" (those who don't like the Sonics and present ownership...)Kids, please reflect upon this past year, your successes and some failures inbetween, know that your parent(s) love, support and careful reminders of making right choices is what makes them so important and special in your life today...please give them a long long hug and the words of "thank you Mom...thank you Dad...thank you Grandma...thank you Grandpa, for your love and support and prayers that I do the right thing always and NOT something not-so-smart that would hurt me, you and my teammates after the fact...This, young friends is the GREATEST gift you can give your parents today: the gift of communication, wrapped with your words, sealed with your lips, for I guarantee you this, your loved ones will be astonishingly amazed that you would take the time to reflect and share with each of them your feelings...THEN, I wish for you to consider the following: visualizing some "genuine act of kindness" towards someone you don't know in your daily life, meaning when you go to the store, hold the door open for the person behind you...when you go to the store and observe an elderly person needing help with their groceries, help them freely and gladly, make them feel wonderful about the youth of today's world: "my oh my, they DO care about us..."...and then of course doing something special for your family or a family member that they would least expect YOU of all people to do...Now THAT in itself is a genuine ACT of KINDNESS...Merry Christmas and many many blessings and safe travels to you all in the New ALL Year, on to the Lynchpins: I share with you your ill thoughts whenever the subject of the Sonics moving to OKCity comes up, but I want you to seriously,consider this "genuine" act of kindness the next time you go to a Sonics game> thank the Ushers for their assistance, the Sonics staff members who have been so faithful to stay the course of the franchise at this time, and continue to support this young team, at several have homes here and we definitely would want them to always remember the GREAT spirit of the Northwest when their careers are completed...and lastly, along the same lines of being 'kind' towards the Sonics, please express your love and support with a "Happy You're Here Seattle Storm" card, they are a wonderful model for young aspiring participants who play basketball in Washington State...

Update on the Team upon return to Changchun last night...we had a team meeting following our return from the recent two game trip...We watched our first game vs. Shanghai Sharks, a memorable win in that we came from behind 14 points to win on the road, an improbable win...it was the first time we've WATCHED ourselves play AFTER the fact...I know, I know, hard to believe but it's his team and he wants to do his preparations from what he knows, obviously not from what he can learn...We'll see tomorrow night how this meeting and reflection turns out for us...fingers and toes crossed for this one...a little prayer too!! After the meeting was concluded at 8:30pm after one hour together...I then sat down alone with Coach Gao (Pancake, the translator also), and asked him if we could make an attainable end-of- season Team Goals list that would allow us to achieve some satisfaction for finishing on a positive...He was curious as to how that may be introduced, and I explained: "since we're basically eliminated from the playoffs we need to rededicate ourselves individually and as a team, meaning that we need to focus on each game by quarter, limiting the opponents to 25 points or less each quarter; reduce our "quarterly" turnovers to no more than 12 per game; that we as a TEAM will value possession of the ball when we have it in our hands and NOT try to create plays when the simple application calls for execution; that we will try to EACH get 3 rebounds or more when we have the opportunity to play; that we put aside our personal goals oriented towards "game bonuses" when we win, to know that winning as a Team is more important than a couple hundred dollars for "winning" individual statistics; and that as a Team everyone succeeds..."...He looked at me, then Pancake and nodded, not saying much but understanding clearly that this "thinking" was beyond anything he ever imagined or considered...Then there was a knock on his door, and Pancake opens it to allow the Owner, Mr. Qu, to enter...Unbeknownst to me at the time, there was this "summit" meeting and he arrived to speak with the Head Coach, and was surprised to see me, but happy also...He asked me to stay, and participate in this meeting if I wouldn't mind...I obliged and we had an hour and a half visit...I basically told him that we have players on this team who are only motivated by their minutes played and statistics that favor their contributions WHEN we win...Right now the team is in conflict (Chinese Team Members) because of their loyalty to the previous GM and former teammate of theirs, SunJun, the Larry Bird of Chinese basketball...Remember when 5 players chose to "strike" when the new GM replaced SunJun? Well, the first thing he did was change the contracts of the players and their bonus structure, setting off a negative reaction 3 days before our first game...So I explain that when a Team 'in season' has off court distractions, such as the media calling for the return of SunJun and the management group and Head Coach to be replaced, well their was a wound that never healed and when we win on occasion it is only a bandaide to the real deep wounds that began in October...I shared with him that this team has 4-5 players who can't play at this level now, and that IF changes aren't made in the offseason with some of them, then he (the Owner) will be having this discussion again with his coach and GM...He asked me what is the biggest problem? I said the chemistry is bad and was BEFORE he bought the rights to the team (an owner doesn't "own" the team, rather "owns" the rights to the team for X amount of years and then it returns to the local government administration)...He narrowed his eyes, and his face changed remarkably because he realized that this American coach that he brought in originally to coach the team was telling him what the Head Coach has been trying to explain to him all season: these players play for themselves NOT for the Team or the Fans...He asked me what could be done now to 'change' this problem, and I said that in America, an NBA Owner and GM would sit down with the team and address the issues face to face, telling what it is that he sees on the court and how bad the results have been at home...All the while Coach Gao is nodding to the translation by Pancake, and I'm thinking to myself, "wow, he understands the need for his presence and leadership at this time..."...He doesn't say anything to my suggestion, other than he was now going to "cancel" a team dinner that he was going to provide tonight for the team...In other words, I "connected" with him, and he was now going to address his "investment" Team at some point before tomorrow night's game...Coach Gao then followed up with the problems between a couple of players that's been ongoing ONCOURT and that talking to them both has not made any impact at all...The owner then pulls out his cellphone to share a text message that he had received from his wife on Sunday night WHILE watching our debacle on national television...Yikes!! Not only is he getting killed by the local Press but now HIS WIFE is giving him methane particles to hear and read!! Wow, now I know this is serious business...After that demonstration of "you think you've got it bad...", the meeting abruptly ends, Mr. Qu, hugs me goodbye and walks out the door...I look at Pancake, whose countenance is like a young man walking in on summit meeting between his Leader and mine...He said later he's never been in this type of translation/situation before...Told him he "done good", go to sleep! Coach Gao says goodnight to me also, and I take a Taxi back to my hotel (the Team stays in a different hotel than the Americans)...Fast forward to Tuesday night's practice: we arrive at our facility and instead of going to the weight room, we head for the dormitories that the players live in for 4-5 months at a time, and there we go into a meeting room...Hmmmm, I say to myself, maybe the GM is meeting with us, as Pancake has NO clue what is going on (he hears very little on the inside), and then a couple of minutes later, here walks in Mr. Qu and Mr. Jiang, GM...Let me tell you this: this Owner "gets it", really, he took the information from the coach and myself and of course the GM and slept on it and now wanted to address his Team...He was magnificent...he spoke from his heart and it was very positive-constructive towards putting the issues behind us and also the indifferences we may have towards one another and all the bad, negative publicity that has been written of late...All he pleaded for was an HONEST effort by all, for their self pride, their family's, the City of Changchun and of course the Fans...What an experience, mostly positive, believe me, please, to witness adversity firsthand in a foreign culture, being on a basketball Staff as an assistant, having a translator speak twice in all things related to everyday basketball life between Americans and the Chinese coaches and players, well it's been intriguing and exciting at the same time...The 'only' downers are two: missing my Family at Christmas time and our inability to play intelligent basketball this season...I'll blog tomorrow's outcome for you...take care...God Bless...Coach tom

comment on "Sighhhhlent Night...of mannnnnnnnnnnnnnny nights...all's not calm...all's not clear...Heavenly Angels are nowhere to be found..."......