Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's possible that Bolt, like Magic, is an anomaly

anomaly (ə-nŏm'ə-lē) 1. Deviation or departure from the normal or common order, form, or rule. 2. One that is peculiar, irregular, abnormal, or difficult to classify.

Every once in awhile, an athlete comes along who is "difficult to classify." Before Magic Johnson, if a coach had a 6-foot-9, 220-pound player on his roster, it was likely he'd be spending time in the low post.

Similarly, until 6-foot-5 Jamaican Usain Bolt came along, 100- and 200-meter sprinters tended to be shorter when compared to 400-meter runners.

As former Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson said in this NY Times article recently: “In the past, if somebody 6-5 walked into the coach’s office, the coach would have said, ‘You’re a 400-meter runner.’”

After watching Bolt shatter world records, coaches are changing their thinking:

Just as basketball coaches had to overcome resistance to chunkier packages like Charles Barkley, so track coaches have had to recognize that a man as tall as Bolt can be a sprinter, long legs, long frame and all.

But in Magic's case, his dominance of the PG position hasn't led to taller point guards. Of the top PGs in the NBA today, all are between 4-6 inches shorter than Magic. Chris Paul is 6-0 at the most. Arenas, Nash, Billups, D. Williams, Baron Davis -- all are 6-3. Tony Parker, Bibby, D. Fisher, Rondo -- all 6-2 or shorter.

And the all-time great point guards -- Stockton, Isiah, Oscar Robertson, Archibald -- were relatively small.

Magic was unique. An oddity. A "deviation from the norm." Bolt might be, too.