Shane Battier attributed his shooting success in Game 7 of the NBA Finals to the good graces of the basketball gods.

Not to spending extra time in the gym working on his shot; not to having fresher legs from spending the entire Heat-Pacers series on the bench because of bad matchups; and not, despite his fondness for studying and being aware of statistical tendencies, to finding and shooting from the spots from which he is most efficient.


Instead, Battier, a player praised for his high basketball IQ and affinity for analytics, attributed his good shooting fortunes to having been looked-upon favorably by the basketball gods.

If these basketball gods are real, and if they did find it fair, and in their plan for the basketball universe, to bestow favor upon Battier, does that mean that these same basketball gods were frowning upon Tim Duncan?

If these basketball gods do exist, I refuse to believe that they would frown upon the player with the well-earned moniker, The Big Fundamental. The idea of basketball gods going against Tim Duncan causes me to doubt their very existence, and to doubt the reality or existence of their basketball-centric divine plan.

The only way the basketball gods would bestow favor and grace on another player to the detriment of a player who is, by all accounts, one of the greatest players, and nicest guys, to ever lace 'em up - and who is known as The Big Fundamental - is if these basketball gods, themselves, no longer believe in the values of the fundamentals of their own game; if the evolution of the game and its fundamentalism are actually at paradoxical odds with one another.

Fundamentalism has certain religious connotations; in its extremes, a blind stubbornness to accepting changes to, or to detour from, the orthodoxy of whatever higher power or canon, or game, to which one is a faithful follower of and/or believer in.

The colporteurs have taken to the streets in the day(s) since the Heat won Game 7; shouting (at least proverbially so) of the greatest-ness of LeBron James. But, the basketball fundamentalist in me dismisses that idea pejoratively, if not outright; preferring instead to see Duncan as the demigod, and perhaps as the titan of basketball fundamentals.

In sports there is fandamentalism, which is akin to extreme religious fundamentalism; including the tendencies of over-zealous fan-bases to reject (even the possibility of the validity of) the beliefs of other fans and the rights of those fans to possess such beliefs.

But, there is also fundamentalism as a devotion to the purity of the game(s) we love.

I try to avoid fandamentalism; choosing instead to remain reasonable in my thinking, and rational in my behavior. But, after watching the NBA playoffs, I wonder if I may be guilty of stubborn fundamentalism in my devotion to what I believe to be the fundamentally sound way to play.

As a basketball purist, I root for The Big Fundamental; and for the coaches, players and teams that still teach, instill, insist upon, work-on, drill-on, take pride in, and play within systems that are predicated upon utilizing, the fundamentals of the game of basketball. I am, after all, a disciple of the Carolina canon of playing hard, smart and together.

UNC fans are fond of the rhetorical question, If God isn't a Tar Heel fan, why did he paint the sky Carolina Blue?Does that mean He divinely intervenes when the Tar Heels play the (Duke) Blue Devils? Like their religious fundamentalist counterparts; sports fandamentalists believe in divined miracles.

Maybe the game has evolved to the point where NBA offenses must be predicated upon high ball-screening, pick-and-roll action on every possession. Maybe driving and drawing (defenders), and kicking-out for threes are the new motion offenses. But, jumping to pass will always be a cardinal sin in the game of basketball I believe in.

Unfortunately, when the NBA champions' offensive strategy is predicated upon driving, jumping, spinning, and kicking; jacking-up 30-foot threes and 20-foot fade-away jumpers; and, taking three-to-four steps before launching one's self horizontally into a defender, all without feigning to take a single dribble, it makes it difficult to coach the basketball fundamentalists' fundamentals to today's young players.

Maybe I'm just getting old. Maybe I'm clinging to outdated, fundamentalists views of the game because I can't understand the version of the game being played on TV. Maybe I should just spend more time on the golf course. But, I've met the golf gods; and, they are not kind.


Matt Laczkowski is a former Division I athlete and a coach who now writes a column each Monday. Reach him vie email at