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Dear Coach: MJ vs. Wilt, Flacco, Coach/Child relationship

It's time for the second installment of the Dear Coach mailbag. Let's get to it:

Dear Coach,

While I agree with you about Mike Jordan being one of the all-time greats, my vote for number one has to be Wilt Chamberlain. Jordan could not have out rebounded the "Stilt", could not have shot over him, could not have stopped him from scoring-except for maybe drawing an offensive foul, [Jordan] being the quicker of the two. And let's not forget Wilt's 100-point night at the Hershey Arena! That [was] before the 3-point shot giveaway was installed. Even with that added boost, no one has come close to that [single game scoring] record.

Bill H., Westminster

Thanks, Bill. You're right. Wilt was a giant among giants among men; literally and statistically. He was the best scorer of his era; possessing an unstoppable combination of size, strength and speed. But, how many championships did he win; particularly, when going head-to-head against Bill Russell? How 'bout Oscar Robertson,"[T]he (Original) Big O"? Despite being (only) 6'5", Robertson remains the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season. I don't claim to be an expert. I don't even watch the NBA until the finals-the basketball purist in me has a distaste for the lack of (enforcement of) fundamentals and/or rules of the game of basketball as applied (or not) in the NBA. I recommend Bill Simmons' "The Book of Basketball," in which he puts forth arguments ranking the top 96 players in the history of the NBA. Simmons' top five: (1) M. Jordan; (2) B. Russell; (3) K. Abdul-Jabbar; (4) M. Johnson; (5) L. Bird. Sixth on Simmons' list; W. Chamberlain.

Dear Coach,

If you intend to write about local athletes maybe you should be a bit more in tune with the fans. While we don't think Joe should use up all the money the Ravens have available, show a bit of respect, I see you didn't earn any superbowl [sic] ring yourself. I'm sure you are thinking you are funny but your article was pretty sarcastic and not funny at all.

Elodia B., Westminster

Thanks Ms. B. I'm sorry you found my faux Flacco column fatuous and not (at all) funny. From what I understand, there was an editor at the Times who, upon reading the column, commented that, "well, that's one way to do it; angering and alienating yourself from all the Ravens' fans in [your] first column."

That wasn't my intent. Without backpedaling - I saw my shots at Flacco's acting chops (and his now-shaven uni-brow) as humorous footnotes to the column. And, while standing-by the fact that I'm not a die-hard Ravens' fan, I'm not sure how my other suggestions were negative toward Mr. Flacco or the Ravens. Nonetheless, and despite my qualifiers, you are correct, I failed to include mention of the Super Bowl Ring I won in my byline. In fact, I won a Super Bowl ring in 1977, in Super Bowl XII; playing as Ed "Too Tall" Jones of the Dallas Cowboys. [I'm 6'9" in real life.] Oops. There I go again; another poor attempt at (sarcastic) humor. [Though you can't tell from my hairline, I wasn't even born in 1977.] My apologies to you and all the Rt. 1 Terp-Ravens fans who found my column humorless, and my lack of falling-in-line with the Seven Nation (Turtle-Fearing) Army of "we" off-putting.

Dear Coach,

Next week's article should be about the (hypothetical) head coach of the [youth] football team who has his son at quarterback. The coach needs to know the responsibility to grow and develop every member of the team, not just his kid. I am sure Morgan Wooten of DeMatha felt pride in guiding kids to college or the NBA even though they were not his (biological) kids.

Rick L., Westminster

Thanks, Rick. I've got a client whose company is contracted to run youth league tryouts, and to provide coaches, in an effort to pre-empt and circumvent this practice of nepotistic on-field favoritism.

The tough part is the balance between applauding the parent-coach who has the time, energy and passion to volunteer his time to coach his, and other's, kids; while, preventing the preternatural practice of parent-coach politicking that is entirely too prevalent.

I often refer to a related phenomenon - the "fun-house-mirror effect": Three dads sit watching the same (high school basketball) game; each commenting about how their respective son is the best player in the gym; much to the confusion and consternation of their fellow removed-from-reality-parent-counterparts.

The most egregious offenders-the parents who have the audacity to bad-mouth another player on their kid's team for that child's (purported) shortcomings, for the sole reason of falsely championing (their perception of) their own kid's skills.

Parents should cheer for their children, and for their children's teammates. Parents should be honest with their children, and with themselves. Parents should not live vicariously through their children; particularly, not at the expense of another person's child's youthful exuberance, fun, or positive experience.

Send your questions for, or comments to, Coach at: coach@with-character.com.

Matt Laczkowski is a former high school and Division 1 athlete, a coach, and now a columnist writing from Westminster.

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