Neat story from Anthony Slater: “Tucked deep inside Rwanda’s mountainous terrain, the small Central African village of Rwankuba doesn’t have Internet, doesn’t have running water and doesn’t have much connection to the outside world. It’s a war-stricken country, still recovering from the devastating mass genocide that killed more than 500,000 people (about 20 percent of the population) in 1994. So it came as no surprise to Betsy Dewey, a Peace Corps volunteer from Oklahoma City, that the Rwandan natives had never heard of her home state. “New York or California?” they’d ask back in January, her first month in the village, when she introduced herself as an American. “Oklahoma,” she’d reply. “It’s in the center of the country, but it’s not famous. Don’t worry.” There was no expectation that they’d know. So there was no reason for her to believe Luke, one of her oldest students, when he proclaimed: “Oh yeah, I know Oklahoma.” “No you don’t, Luke,” she laughed. “Yeah, I do,” he replied. “They have the Thunder. Do you know Russell Westbrook?” Dewey teaches English at the village’s boarding school. At around 8 or 9, the kids are required to learn the language. She’s there to help them through it.”
Zach Lowe of Grantland on how SportVu can change the game: “The box score is only one component in improving the way fans understand the game, Hellmuth says. He envisions a day when the cameras will be able to educate fans on the spatial aspects of defense — where players are supposed to be against a particular opponent running a particular offensive set. (The Raptors are furthest along in understanding this. Implementing it is another matter.) “We can really advance the fans’ understanding of our game,” he says.”
Kevin Durant shot ping pong balls on French television. It was kind of awkward.
David Berri for ESPN.com on building strategies: “There is another problem that the Thunder discovered. Initially draft picks play under a rookie contract, so these players can produce wins at a very low cost. But this contract expires fairly quickly. Specifically, the Thunder were able to employ Harden for only three seasons. Once a player moves on to his second contract, the team essentially moves to option No. 1 (i.e. building through productive veterans). So not only does this approach requires luck, it’s also a short-lived strategy. Nevertheless, teams seem to try and follow the third option. And for that to happen, teams have to lose — or pursue the strategy of tanking. Such a strategy essentially contradicts a fundamental promise made by sporting competitors; that the competitors will do their very best to win the game.”
Abe Schwadron of SLAM on KD: “Coming up, Durant idolized Vince Carter. But when it came to footwear, he was partial to Pennys and, true to his DC roots, Foamposites. His mother, Wanda Pratt, did her best to keep Kevin and his brothers laced in new kicks, but money was tight and they were often a few styles behind. KD rarely made trips to the mall to go sneaker shopping—in part because by the time he was 14 or 15, he was wearing a size 18 shoe, which made hitting up Foot Locker for a fresh pair a smidge more difficult for him than his teammates. Safe to say, in KD’s case, the shoes didn’t make the man.”
Serge Ibaka’s newest blog: “The second time was last summer in South Africa. This was obviously a great experience because It was the African edition and there were players from the Congo and neighbouring countries. I felt blessed to be part of the group of people that can give advice to young people. And not only players, but also people from the communities that we were able to visit, last year and also this past week in my third camp. Nowadays, I have found my place in the NBA and have more moral authority to talk to these kids. But, anyway, the message is the same: work hard and stay focused If you have a dream.”