“Be water, my friend.”

Bruce Lee

Last night, I was talking to Jason Smith for ESPN’s NBA Today Podcastwhen Jason mentioned that some of the buzz about Derrick Rose died down a bit in late March/early April due to the strong late-season play of fellow rookies such as New Jersey’s Brook Lopez and Minnesota’s Kevin Love. Now, maybe it was because I had literally just finished a long night of pickup basketball and was therefore exceptionally thirsty, but I told Jason that this happened because Derrick is like water: Easy to take for granted because it’s always there…but you’d be dead without it.

This off-the-cuff analogy reminded me of my all-time favorite Bruce Lee quote, which goes: “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

Lee’s statement could be interpreted several ways, but to me it’s very similar to one component of Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. That whole “survival of the fittest” thing doesn’t (as many suppose) mean that only the strong survive. What Darwin actually meant was that those creatures who are better equipped to adapt to the immediate, local environment are much more likely to survive and prosper.

My point — and I swear I have one — is that I don’t really care all that much if Derrick scores in bunches every game. Too many people made too much out of Derrick’s decreased productivity in Game 2. The NBA Playoffs are all about adjustments. Kendrick Perkins got a lot of burn in the media for predicting that Rose wouldn’t have another career night against the Celtics. That statement should have earned him an honorary Ph.D. from DUH! University. It was obvious that Boston’s coaching staff was going to gameplan against Derrick after his Game 1 explosion. Now Vinny, Del and Bernie get to gameplan against Doc’s gameplan.

Derrick simply needs to be like water. Let the game come to him. If he needs to flow, he should flow. When it’s time to crash, hopefully he can crash. That’s how this kid plays. Adapting to the situation as it presents itself. And, if you think about it, that’s how legends like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan played. It’s also how soon-to-be MVP LeBron James plays right now. Doing whatever you have to do to win…which doesn’t always mean scoring the basketball.

Anyway, I’ll be decked out in red tonight and loving it live at the United Center. You can expect my on-the-spot report late tonight or early tomorrow, depending on how many post-game brews I kick back at The Billy Goat.

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5 Responses to “Be water, my friend.”

  1. sguldin3@gmail.com'
    Scott G. April 23, 2009 at 2:02 pm #

    Mmmm, Billy Goat. (Of course, the Madison Goat isn’t the same as the original, but it still works.) Wish I could have a couple of cold ones with you.

    I like this post. The part that worries me, though, is this: “Now Vinny, Del and Bernie get to gameplan against Doc’s gameplan.” For my tastes it puts a little too much responsibility in the lap of someone who has “no regrets” about burning all of his timeouts in consecutive playoff games, and — when faced with justifiable criticism — says “I don’t care. I’m the coach.” Yeesh.

  2. davebadasslarson@yahoo.com'
    BadDave April 23, 2009 at 4:23 pm #

    I’ll second the “Mmmmmmmm. Billy Goat.” Cheezborger! Cheezborger! Cheezborger! You want fries? Just promise you want have too many pre-game brews, eh?

    That’s the last agreement Scott G. gets from me. He spaketh the truth, and it is bitter. I’ll continue to live in my own world and think it will happen.

  3. Joey.Goldberg@gmail.com'
    Joey G. April 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm #

    Good post, I agree. The same goes for Tyrus & Joakim. Hit the glass, play strong defense & let the offensive game come to you!

  4. beforethevine@gmail.com'
    Jason April 23, 2009 at 6:35 pm #

    Good point, if you watch how Rose played in the second half of Game 2, he made a lot, or was involved in a lot of critical plays down the stretch, without scoring. He had a few key blocks, assists, and crucial buckets at crucial moments to break the Celtics momentum. He knew Ben Jordan was going off, so he made like water, and fed him the ball in a timely manner. Given the fact that he was displaced with 2 fouls and thrown off his rhythm (as a rookie) the entire first half, he integrated well in the second half, picked his spots, played with poise, and would have made like water for the win, if it was not for Ray Ray going clutch at the buzzer.

  5. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale April 23, 2009 at 7:02 pm #

    Scott G. — If by some chance you’re at the Billy Goat by the UC after the game, I’ll be the tall (6’3″), thin, shaved-headed guy in the Derrick Rose jersey.

    Yeah, I’m worried about Vinny’s gameplanning too. But I’m basically just throwing up my hands and hoping/praying for the best.

    BadDave — Not too many PRE-game brews, no. Post-game? Well, let me put it this way: Mikey’s driving. ‘Nuff said?

    Joey G. — Exactly. Noah’s definitely more of a “let the game come to you” player. Tyrus needs to be more like that on a consistent basis.

    Jason — That’s exactly my point. I don’t think the numbers always do justice to a player’s contribution. Rose played smart, in-control ball, even if he didn’t set another career-high in scoring or assists.

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