Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Perception vs reality

Tonight, while going back and forth from the DAL v ATL Summer League game and the WNBA's LA v DET game, I caught the fight that broke out between the two women's teams.

As coaches and officials tried to separate the players, DET assistant Rick Mahorn was accused of pushing LA's Lisa Leslie to the ground.

Now, I don't know what happened. From the highlights I saw (during the broadcast and online), I couldn't see it. But according to the game's color commentator (who was just a few feet from the melee), "He truly was trying to play peacemaker."

The problem with fights in sports is separating fact from fiction. As is the case with most things in life, perceptions matter more than reality. Unfortunately, we base our opinions and actions on our perceptions.

Don't believe it? Have you ever seen a Harlem Globetrotters game? You know the part where one of the guys is running around with a bucket that you perceive to be filled with water? The reality is that it's only filled with confetti. But when he throws the "water" into the crowd, everyone ducks. Why? Because our actions are based on perceptions, not reality.

In the case of fights like this, it's not about what actually happened; it's about what people think happened.

Fights tend to follow people for years, sometimes for their entire careers. For outsiders, it's impossible to know what went on, what was said, or what led to the game that led to the fight. Of course, this leads to speculation and, reality aside, opinions are formed.

Watching the post-game coverage from the WNBA game, I only hope the fight doesn't follow Rick or Lisa. Rick and I were assistants together under Lon Kruger with the Hawks. Rick is a genuinely good guy who is loves the game of basketball. [He did a great job working with the ATL's big men, by the way.]

I got to know Lisa when she would visit a friend of hers, Lorenzo Orr, who played for us in the USBL. From what I know of her and what I've heard and read, she's a terrific person.

While on the subject of women's hoops, when I was an assistant with the Magic, I had the chance to scrimmage against the franchise's WNBA Miracle team at the request of Miracle coach Carolyn Peck, who would round up a few of us who had played college ball to work against their team.

What amazed me most was how physical the women's game is. They set screens on the defender, not in an area. They're not as quick as their male counterparts, but they really
execute well and they understand the finer points of the game. That always impressed me.