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Steve-Goldberg-Column
08/08/2014
Steve Goldberg's Wheel World
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The seismic shifts in basketball

CHARLOTTE (Steve Goldberg's Wheel World) - While the hurricane named Iselle batters the big island of Hawaii today, it's been relatively quiet in the Atlantic.

In between the relatively weak hurricanes Arthur in early June and Bertha which pinged around the Caribbean last week, the National Weather Service notes a tropical depression in mid-July.

That depression probably wasn't weather related at all but just the collective pain of Miami as LeBron James left for Cleveland. That storm stretched in Minnesota this week as it was announced that the Cavaliers had successfully traded for the Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Love by giving up two Canadians - Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett - who were the last two top NBA draft picks.

It heralds a seismic shift in the power balance of the NBA eastern conference.  Cleveland rises to the top as the tide seemingly rolls out in Miami.

For me there was a feeling of déjà vu, or should that be déjà hoops, as there was a similar shift in the NWBA last season when two other top Canadians - Patrick Anderson and David Eng - were the prize, lining up for the New York Rollin' Knicks. If the NWBA had a draft, these Canucks would have been #1 picks as well.

The two stalwarts of a Canadian national team that claimed three of four Paralympic gold medals since 2000 and a 2006 World Championship led the Rollin' Knicks to their first-ever NWBA Championship Division title. It was the first title of any kind with the Knicks name attached to it since 1973.

How seismic was the shift? Anderson with 32 points and Eng with 22 outscored the Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks, a dynasty team which had won the previous four national titles, by themselves. The second-seeded Rollin' Knicks trounced the top-rated Dallas 76-53.

While James is going back home to Ohio, Anderson was leaving his. It wasn't chasing glory or mounds of money that moved Anderson to take his talent from Ontario to New York. It wasn't even his talent for basketball. It was music. Well, music and a girl.

Anderson's wife Anna Paddock - they married in 2011 - is a Canadian singer-songwriter and classical pianist. She was headed to Manhattan in 2008 to earn a master's degree in music theory and composition at New York University. He followed.

After the Canadians lost to Australia in the gold medal game at the Beijing Paralympics that year, Anderson called it quits on basketball for a while and moved with her and to study music himself at Hunter College. It was a new challenge for someone who had established himself on top of his game.

"There is a big difference between talent and skill, and perhaps I took for granted in sport all those years what it took for me to transform my talent into skill," he told the BBC in a 2012 interview during the London Paralympics.

"It was a humbling lesson for me to learn, but it is also exciting. In musical terms I feel young. Maybe not as an athlete, but I have a lot of years to work at it."

Seismic shifts, while good for some can be devastating for others. LeBron may be Legone but with Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Miami Heat will still be good though not great. Without Anderson, Canada failed to qualify for this summer’s IWBF World Championships for the first time ever.

Anderson, who turns 35 on August 22, is living in Brooklyn these days and plays bass in his wife's band which also includes his brother Jonathan.

If Anderson, who left New York in 2011 to lead Canada to one more gold medal in London, becomes half as proficient at music as he is in basketball, his next gold medals will be Grammys.

Steve Goldberg

FIBA

FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

FIBA takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.

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Steve Goldberg

Steve Goldberg

Eight years after first getting a glimpse of wheelchair basketball at the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul when covering the Olympics for UPI, Steve Goldberg got the chance to really understand the game as Chief Press Officer for the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta. He's been a follower of the sport ever since. Over the years, the North Carolina-born and bred Tar Heel fan - but University of Georgia grad - has written on business, the economy, sports, and people for media including Time, USA Today, New York magazine, Reuters, Universal Sports, TNT, ESPN, New York Daily News, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and The Olympian. Steve Goldberg's Wheel World will look at the past, present and future of wheelchair basketball.