When Barack mentioned basketball during the campaign (e.g., “I’ve got sharp elbows”) it translated to “I’m not afraid to mix it up with the big boys.” Not so for Palin.
A Governor is not a Point Guard
I know it’s absurd to bring up Barack Obama in a diary about Sarah Palin, but just as a point of comparison, when Barack mentioned basketball during the campaign it usually was “I may be skinny, but I’ve got sharp elbows”. Translated that means I’m not afraid to go down low and mix it up with the big boys. It was him saying I can play the post, I can fill the role.
Lost in the loopiness of Friday’s press conference was the complete inaccuracy of her basketball analogy. A Governor is not Bob Cousy or Steve Nash, he is Wilt Chamberlin or Shaq. A Governor is the dominating presence in the middle, so powerful that the offense runs through him to accommodate his game. He doesn’t throw the alley oop, he’s the one who catches it and jams it through the hoop. He’s the one when the team misses the shot he gets the rebound and slams it through the hoop. He’s the one who gets the ball down low and powers his way under the basket and slams it through the hoop. It’s called signing bills and transforming ideas into laws.
And on the other end, when the other team is close to making the shot, he’s the last line of defense, the one who swats away the shot, vetoes their attempt to score. A good point guard is a legislator, perhaps a majority leader or whip, someone who is a facilitator, not a scorer. This isn’t difficult stuff, it’s a pretty simple and simplistic analogy.
So what does it say about Sarah Palin that she would get it so wrong? Some may say it shows a basic misunderstanding of what the job is all about. Certainly much of her actions as Governor have shown either lack of fully grasping the role or a severe disinterest in it. Some may say this is a reflection of her narcissism – I was a point guard therefore the Governor is a point guard. But I think the reality is a lot more shallow than that. We all know people like her. She’s stuck in High School. She still lives in her home town and even as Governor couldn’t bring herself to make the move to Capital. She married her high school sweetheart. And she still exhibits the pettiness and petulance of a high school girl who thinks she’s the be all and end all.
We all know people like her. They don’t make it in College, often drifting from school to school until returning to their home town to stay for good, sheltered in their past success, unable to move on. For Sarah, the Governor is a point guard because she’s incapable of the personal growth required to become something different, something bigger, something better.
I know it’s absurd to bring up Barack Obama in a diary about Sarah Palin, but just as a point of comparison, when Barack mentioned basketball during the campaign it usually was “I may be skinny, but I’ve got sharp elbows”. Translated that means I’m not afraid to go down low and mix it up with the big boys. It was him saying I can play the post, I can fill the role. Far different than the image of the point guard dribbling the ball through a full court press and then passing once she gets it over mid-court. Which brings me to the last point of her analogy in strict basketball terms: the full-court press.
That is a very effective defense…in High School. You occasionally see it in College. In the pros, it’s a sucker move. In this year’s championship, a key moment was when Phil Jackson decided to take the ball out at the far end of the court. Van Gundy fell for it, put a press on which just spread out the defense and allowed Derek Fisher to get off the open three to tie the game. It was the turning point of the series and the play that really showed the weakness in the Magic’s game – the coaching.
Van Gundy, like Sarah Palin, showed he wasn’t ready for the big time (though I would put him far above Palin in terms of preparedness). Sarah’s hoop game is still High School, just as Sarah herself is still stuck there, telling the increasingly fewer people of her past glories, big fish, small state. Did you know she was Miss Wasilla? She was. She still is.