SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

When Stealing Is Good And Legal

The late Al Smith, the one-time Governor of New York, made this comment while touring the law library at a law school located in NYC: "Gentlemen, there sit two men who are learning how to pay a bribe, only to call it a fee." I'm sure that as a veteran of Tammany Hall politics, Smith knew a lot about how to dress up such situations, as plain old stealing wasn't legal, even in NYC and even by its politicians, in the 1920's.

But fast forward to the 21st century, and there's a whole lot of good, legal stealing going on. And it's in court, too, or, actually, on a court.

A basketball court.

Rick Pitino has spoken of defensive touches, and his assistants keep that stat because Coach Pitino believes that if your team is disruptive enough on defense, it will win the game. Many fans focus on the scorers, the rebounders and even the shot blockers, and all appreciate the great pass. But fewer focus on the steal, and the last time I checked forcing a turnover might have even a greater magnitude than having your opponent throw the ball away.

It's called making things happen, and the players featured in the article all are difference makers. All can change the flow of a game, just by anticipating and being in the right place at the right time.

Stealing?

It's what the all-Americans do on a basketball court.

And in this case, it's not even for a fee.

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