Saturday, April 13, 2024

#104 / Taking A Charge

Pictured is Brandin Podziemski. He plays basketball for the Golden State Warriors, as even non-Warriors fans can probably surmise, just by consulting the picture above. Those who follow the Warriors, who may still be denominated "Authentic Fans," a term that was in vogue a few years ago, well know Podziemski, who is a "rookie" this season, but who has become one of the more valued players on the team.

The picture of Podziemski, sitting on the court, comes from an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle on December 27, 2023. The article is focused on a "skill," if you want to call it that, that few players possess, and that Podziemski brought to the team as a relatively recent arrival. 

The "skill" referenced is the willingness and ability of Podziemski to "take a charge." That means that the player is willing to embrace "the gritty, sometimes painful task of planting his body in front of an onrushing opponent," and letting that opponent knock him down, so that the opponent, instead of making a basket, and scoring two points "at the rim," as the announcers say, is called for a foul, instead. 

A player who is willing to put his body in the way of a basket-bound opponent, "taking a charge," can convert what is likely to be a two-point score for the opposition into an opportunity for the team whose self-sacrificing player has "taken the charge" to  make some points itself, and certainly to take possession of the ball.

Here is a little excerpt from the Chronicle article, commenting on this particular basketball talent: 

Brandin Podziemski, even as an eighth-grader, understood he needed to find ways to contribute to his team. He couldn’t jump especially high, so he embraced the gritty, sometimes painful task of planting his body in front of an onrushing opponent. 

That skill proved useful as Podziemski moved from St. John’s Northwestern Academies outside Milwaukee to college stops at Illinois and Santa Clara. And now, as a Golden State Warriors rookie, Podziemski remains accomplished at one of the game’s unglamorous, if valuable, chores. 

He leads the Warriors in charges taken this season with 12 (through Tuesday), including a dramatic, game-saving one Dec. 17 in Portland. Podziemski’s total ranks fourth in the NBA and tops all rookies. 

Brandin recalled a church-league coach extolling the value of taking charges. His dad traces the habit to eighth grade, when Brandin chose to pursue basketball over baseball. He started watching videos of college and pro players, including the European leagues, and diligently studied the nuances of the game.

“I think that really took off when he went to military school,” John Podziemski said. “His school credo was, ‘You’re only as strong as your weakest link.’ Brandin seemed to think if he couldn’t go up in the air to block every shot, then he could take a charge.”

It became a small snapshot of a wider St. John’s philosophy stressing team over individual. Podziemski came to realize if he was deficient in one area, such as pure athleticism, there was no point in lamenting his shortcoming (emphasis added).

The phrase that captured my attention, as I read The Chronicle story about Podziemski, was the phrase I have highlighted, above: "team over individual." In fact, that "team over individual" philosophy is the essence of what I celebrated as "Warriors Ball" in that blog posting I referenced earlier, and in this one, too

That approach has worked for the Warriors. 

I contend that it works for all of us, when we practice it in the context of the way we configure our politics, society, and economy. 

Why don't we give it a try? We still have lots of time left in 2024 to consider how to accomplish that, and to celebrate our connections, not our individualism!

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