Hey, It Really Is All About Practice!!

By Gary Norris Gray
Updated: December 4, 2008

“I’m the franchise of this team and we are sitting here talking about practice I’m talking about practice, practice, man, not the game, not the game, that I work my heart, my soul, out for just practice. What are we talking about here? We are talking about practice.”

– Allen Iverson.

CALIFORNIA – This is what former 76ers star Allen Iverson kept saying over and over again. In his press conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania seven years ago he was reacting to how the Tri-State media had overstated the fact that he did not come to practice at the end of the season and that it was not a very big deal.

Why? Because the Sixers played themselves out of the spring classic.

Mr. Iverson made a habit of slacking off during the end of the basketball season. This is the time when most basketball players step it up, getting ready for the playoffs or a new contract.

Mr. Iverson has done it again. The coach of the Detroit Pistons wanted the team to come in early Thanksgiving Day and have an hour of PRACTICE. Mr. Iverson was a no-show.

Well, Mr. Iverson, PRACTICE makes perfect. PRACTICE makes you a better player; PRACTICE makes your teammates better. PRACTICE made the Philadelphia 76ers the Eastern Conference Champions in 2001.

PRACTICE helps you to know how your teammates will perform on the floor, on the lanes, on the field, and on the ice. PRACTICE.

Southern Illinois University, at Carbondale created the first disabled bowling league, my team, “The Rolling RainBows”, a motley crew a African American- Native American Indian, a German American- Native American Indian, a Jewish-American woman, and a Mexican-American.

We were only missing an Asian- American thus “THE ROLLING RAINBOWS”. This motley crew won the first historic disabled bowling league trophy at S.I.U.-Carbondale.

Everyday at least one Rolling RainBow would be at the bowling lanes honing his/her skills every week. We were the only team to PRACTICE before league games.

After the first five weeks of league bowling the RainBows had a commanding lead, but our co-captains did not quit. Both of our captains told the team to PRACTICE at lease once a week.

For me it was so boring, now everybody could understand what our co-captains talking about. The team could see the difference in their bowling tactics

The Rolling RainBows won the SIU-Carbondale Disabled League Bowling title by 7 ½ games. Not a single team beat the Bows in League. Oh yeah, they won a few games against us, but they never won a series.

Why? Because they got tired near the end of the second game and were pooped in the third game. Three players on our team never bowled in their lives so this was new adventure for all of us.

We had the advantage and that was PRACTICE.

Members of the team would try new ways to spot the bowling ball. Each player had a different disability so they would approach the lanes in various ways. The team found out about the significance of the weight block in each bowling ball and how it affected the direction of the ball after each player pushed it down the lanes.

This was a great advantage for the mighty Rolling RainBows.

This is why you have PRACTICE.

If you, Allen Iverson, are not present at the gym, how could you know what plays to run the next game? I have been bowling for over 20 years now and have acquired 14 trophies.

One thing that still stands tall, the one thing that could not be missed and was not stressed enough to my California bowling teammates, you had to put the time in to win and PRACTICE.

In many bowling years, I only had two really bad teams: yes, you got it; they did not PRACTICE. And both teams ended up in last place.

What do you think Boston’s Larry Bird and L.A.’s Magic Johnson did in their many NBA title battles of the 80′s on their off days? Yes. They PRACTICED. They have 10 banners of that era hanging on the ceilings of the FleetCenter and Staples Center to prove it.

Many can still see Johnson leading the Showtime’s fast break down the Great Western Forum floor with James Worthy on the left and Michael Cooper on the right.

Magic just throws the ball to the open man for a Laker lay-up, an easy two points, another Laker lead, and another Laker championship. Bird did the same on the Boston Garden floor with Kevin McHale on his right and D.J. (Dennis Johnson) on his left flying down the floor

Bird just throws the ball where he knew his teammates would be. These two NBA All-Stars could do this because of their dedication to PRACTICE. Knowing who and where their teammates should be allows you to perform this way.

But nobody can perform this way if you do not come to PRACTICE.

Mr. Iverson is the new athlete, one that thinks he/she is Superman. This athlete does not need anybody but him/herself to win games. Yes, you might score 50 points but what good have you accomplished when your team loses the game by one point?

Your team loses because you threw a bad pass at the end of a tight game. Your team loses because that same pass, if you had been at PRACTICE, would have won the game with an easy lay-up.

That pass, a pass on instinct, which should have been easy, that pass could have been made with your eyes closed but because you were not at PRACTICE you miss his/her hands by one foot. You miss by a half-foot.

The point is you missed at a critical time. This happens in all sports but if you don’t come to PRACTICE the percentages go way up that the mission will not be accomplished.

Remember there is no “I” in team; the new sports heroes don’t understand yet. Time will tell if Iverson and the new breed get into the Hall of Fame. Time will tell when these new sports figures change the “I” into we.

A team can be one unit, thinking one thought, having one dream, the championship. That is what PRACTICE brings to the game. So, Mr. Iverson, I truly hope you got the point this time that PRACTICE is important and you should be at every single one of them the rest of the year.

Mr. Iverson, basketball fans hope you think about what you said at your press conference many years ago and come out ready to play for the people of Detroit. Mr. Iverson, basketball fans would like to see you at every PRACTICE from this day forward.

PRACTICE, Just ask the members of the first Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Disabled Bowling Champions.