A Basketball Player in Cuba: The Anthony Carmelo Vice Feature

Carmelo Anthony is one basketball player who seems to be loved by all. VICE News recently covered Anthony’s trip to Cuba where he was greeted by scores of enthusiastic fans. It was his first time in Cuba, and from this video stream we get to see the global appeal of basketball. In an interesting fashion, Anthony’s visit to Cuba through VICE was to explore the rising interest in soccer in the country. This is a feature where basketball meets the rise of soccer.

I have written about how the availability of infrastructure and resources can influence people’s gravitation towards sports, marketing, branding and even training. Cuba’s history and economical decline have drastically affected how sports has grown in the country. The New York Cosmos travelled to Cuba to play against a domestic cuban team which is another way to build international relations between the two countries as icy foreign relations begin to thaw.

Walking around Old Havana, Carmelo Anthony can not even believe that he has so many fans. This disbelief can be matched by the true value of international branding , a strong goal and initiative the NBA is trying to push forward. We see Anthony mixing with the locals, talking to people on the street and trying cigars. The people are welcoming and it takes him no time at all to really get settled. Cuba is still untapped as a place for sports potential. One particular community organizer comments on how easy soccer is for the people to learn. Soccer is easier to learn and take up because it does not require as much initial spending on facilities and gear much like basketball or other sports. Soccer is now the sport being promoted amongst the youth in Cuba.

Cubans are ready to be seen by the world. They are ready to be known and to show what they can give. Lets hope we are ready. Check out the video by VICE news below.


You Can’t Shoot The Same Shot Twice

You can’t shoot the same shot twice. I’m sure you might have known this already. I initially wrote on this article and it’s reasoning behind shooting the same shot twice. I however wanted to highlight the idea of shots , more so with shots representing a career rather than a point throw at a basketball game. Many famous people on your TV screens and phones now, have taken multiple shots at their careers. The story of Alexander Graham Bell and his repetitive attempts to invent the telephone is one recounted around the world to build inspiration, affirming the need for perseverance in the face of challenges. So going back to the “You can’t shoot the same shot twice”. It might not be possible to make the same mistakes you made and end up in the same place if you are self-aware and looking to succeed. Here are some athletes who have taken a first, second and even third shot at their career.

This article tells us about famous people who failed at their first career attempt.

Michael Jordan: Most people know this famous quote by Michael Jordan “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Well, Michael said this to reflect on the challenges he faced in building a career as an athlete.


Stan Smith: Used to be a ball bow for a tennis club, and even got kicked out of a tennis match because event organizers felt he was too clumsy and uncoordinated. Smith went on to prove them wrong, showcasing his not-so-clumsy skills by winning Wimbledon, U. S. Open and eight Davis Cups.

Sport, Tennis, All England Lawn Tennis Championships, Wimbledon, England, 3rd July 1971, Mens Singles Final, Defending Champion, Australia's John Newcombe, holds the trophy aloft after winning the tournament by beating USA's Stan Smith 6-3, 5-7, 2-6, 6-4,

Babe Ruth: Most people don’t know that Babe Ruth once had a record number of strikeouts. In responding to an inquiry about this part of he responded, he could be quoted saying  “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”


The goal here is to never give up, or rather to persevere through unfavorable circumstances. You never know what the next shot can do for your career.

Understanding The Physiological Challenges of Basketball

I’ve written a lot about the psychological demands of basketball. The physiological demands of basketball is another matter entirely. The effect of basketball on the physical and mental is well documented in sports science and sports psychology. Since I have written about how focus, discipline and willpower affect basketball, I thought it would be great to write about the effects of aerobic and anaerobic exercise on athlete’s on the court . In this article by Kristen Gilroy, the writer explains how anaerobic and aerobic exercise affects basketball players. Gilroy challenges the argument that basketball players only use the aerobic energy system when playing on court .Kristen proposes that basketball requires both aerobic and anaerobic systems for optimal performance.

Blake Rubin discusses some of the physiological challenges of basketball

In order for the body to display high performance in basketball, it has to rely heavily on it’s anaerobic system and anaerobic exercises. To exercise anaerobically means that you are working on a very high level of intensity, and the cardiovascular system is unable to deliver oxygen to the body quickly. The benefits of the anaerobic system is its ability to aid athletes in making quick movements and reactions on the court. Kirsten Gilroy writes that , “for example, the duration of an anaerobic exercise could be mere seconds, or 1-2 minutes, but nothing longer than that”. Gilroy breaks down what each system does to an athlete on the court. With anaerobic exercise the athlete

Gilroy makes the case for anaerobic exercise, drawing from scientific research which she cites at the bottom of her article.

To understand why basketball requires aerobic and anaerobic exercise, using scientific articles as the backbone for your research, visit Kristen Gilroy’s blog here


Then and Now: The Evolution of Basketball

My name is Blake Rubin, and I have been in love with basketball as far as I can remember. But this sport has been around far longer than my grandfather has, and I wanted to do some research to really understand the differences between the sport then and now. Basketball is a resurging sport. Over the years it has gone through what one would call a phenomenal rebranding, with more international stars and televised programming adding to its global appeal. The sport however has not always been this way. History dictates how we see our present, and I took it upon myself to learn more about the history of this sport to give myself more things to work with.

The Road To Eldorado shows the evolution of basketball, then and now

The First Basketball Game

Historical accounts tell us that the first basketball type game may have originated by the Olmec people of ancient mexico. The Aztec and Mayan cultures also played a game similar to basketball, with the difference being the ball. For the Aztec’s the “ball” often used in these games were the heads of conquered foes. This ancient form of basketball can be best seen in the below clips of Mel Gibson’s film “Apocalypto” and Dreamworks “ The Road To Eldorado” Both of these films represent some of the most visual conveyance of the ancient form of basketball.

The First True Basketball Game

The first true basketball game was played with 18 players with nine players being on each side of the team. It was invented in this new form by a canadian doctor named James Naismith. He invented the sport  for the YMCA to have a sport to play in the winter time. At this point, the game was not even called “basketball” till a man named William R. Chase scored what is recorded as the first point in the history of the game, and then the name Basketball was suggested as the official name of the game. In this time of the sport’s history, the game lasted for 30 minutes, which of course is different from how long the game is being played now.

The Key differences

The key differences in the sport then,  when it was in its first game and now is that the game is played with it’s own specialized ball, newer rules in shooting and line placement are currently being adhered to.  Basketball has also gone through a strong commercialization process of the years. The more acceptance and followership the sports acquires, the number of televised programming and sponsorship opportunities increases, with organizations like the NBA now cashing into the booming sport as a business.


Mental Attitude: The Keys To Success in Basketball and The Arts

Becoming a strong athlete or top basketball player is no small feat. In sports, the arts, and even in the military, a lot of the grunt work is dominantly physical and intricately also mental. Mental attitudes shape performance and performance shapes results. Often times the audience approach to basketball performance analysis is limited to what we see on the external, but the battle as they say, is in the mind. When we think of performance we don’t think about how much focus is required to let go of distractions coming from the crowd or even fellow team mates, learning to breath under pressure, to make a foul shot which is predominantly a 90% mental action, How does the mind affect performance? Can being in your own head toy with how you perform on the court? These are questions basketball psychologists try to answer by studying mental attitudes and competitive advantage in relation to performance.  According to this is a list of skills needed to be a top performer in basketball. Not surprising that this list also works with achieving mastery level as an artist . The saying goes that “excellence is therefore not an act, but a habit” and achieving excellence in the world of basketball has been attributed not only to the prowess of the player but also the presence of a mental coach. Mental coaches also serve as mentors, an essential ingredient in developing skill and mastery of game and even self.

Mental coaches provide an accountability structure for players working to develop strong mental attitudes towards performance. It is the mental coach who provides the feedback on mistakes, lack of focus, corrections on play and position. Mental coaches help athletes develop in these areas of focus:







There is no difference between this area of focus for basketball and even what is needed to become a master in the arts. To achieve a level of mastery requires constant skill acquisition, challenging plateaued levels and developing mental toughness. In his new book “Mastery”, Robert Greene the author of  New York Times bestseller “The 48 Laws of Power” released writes about the process of becoming one of the masters, and the skills needed to do so are highly attached to these areas of mental focus.

You can watch this Robert Greene interview to understand his take on Mastery Mentoring + Mastery+ Power = Success by Robert Greene


Robert Greene speaking on Mastery

Cognitive Psychology and Performance

The world of sports psychology continually tries to answer the various questions we have when it comes to motivation, discipline and performance in sports. Scientists have tried to understand and hypothesize how neural activity affects performance in crucial moments in sports history, one of those being Mark Price missing the record-tying shot from the charity stripe, which would have sealed his 90.4% shot record. Before Michael Williams of the Minnesota Timberworlves broke the record,  Mike Prince  I came across an interesting article named ” Why You Can’t Shoot The Same Foul Shot Twice” by Nikhil Swaminathan for Scientific American, and here is the main takeaway .


A new study by Neuron, concluded that in play ” the brain does not plan the execution of a shot in the exactly the same fashion each step of the way”. In studying two Rhesus monkeys, scientists observed as the monkeys made simple practiced movements like reaching towards a target,. They focused on the individual neurons in the premotor cortex, the part of the brain responsible for higher functions like movement planning. In discovery, scientists found that off line neural activity is a major factor in predicting the speed of each reach.


For more details, read here

Hoop Dreams: The Global Future of Basketball

Last year, the world lay mesmerized by the drama and spectacle of the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil. All stars sat at the table before them, and the dramatic wins and loses had their cups running over with home goals, ear biting, weeping Colombian players and so on. It was amazing. For what seemed like a long time coming, many Americans tuned into the sport with as much enthusiasm as their international counterparts, crowding in parks, cheering and mourning the rise and fall of the US national team, who again, surprised the world with their performance. It was a world cup as never seen before. Long time winners left early, and the strongest in the game came out on top.

I often wonder whether in the future, basketball could have a similar audience. In this article, NBA lead writer Josh Martin highlights a similar concern I have with the future of basketball in the global space. Will basketball ever be as successful or appreciated as an international sports, just as soccer, baseball or even the NFL are?

Basketball has not been able to catch up with soccer as an international sport, but it is getting there. The FIBA World Cup, though not as popular as FIFA, has managed to catch up to the world’s most thrilling sports. as this article reports. Basketball is quickly becoming an internationally branded sport, also not void of it’s own theatrics and excitement. The contributing factors to basketball’s rising popularity can be attributed to an increase in revenue after renewals from national television pacts, this is to say that the sport is gaining traction and more people are watching. An estimated $4.75 billion was generated for the league in the 2014-2015 year gap. That’s a whooper! And it looks like “things can only get better”.

The NBA is now one of the most popular brands in China, with a 70 million people follower base on popular blogs like Sina Weibo and Tencent. These are the hoop dreams coming to life outside what we’ve known to be our global scope of the sport, a scope that is often limited to the U.S. With the global expansion of basketball fueled by strong marketing and branding efforts, more countries continue to adopt the sport, but how far can they take this and are the grass root efforts and resources enough to propel developing countries with interest to the top?

What generally sets the USA apart both in soccer and basketball is the availability of resources. We saw team USA’s strength in the world cup, not particularly because this is a sport tailored or grounded in USA tradition as opposed to our european counterparts, but more so the positive effects of investment and financial resources which are highly important factors when it comes to training.

As much as basketball is catching up, soccer is still moving forward, and the gap continues. Soccer’s re-ignition in the US may mean more investment, marketing and branding. As basketball and soccer do not face similar challenges in taking up the game, soccer may continually lead in popularity. My version of hoop dreams do not dictate basketball being on the same playing platform as soccer, but as basketball being an internationally credited sport in it’s own right, meaning more marketing, branding, advertising, viewership and support.

The Latest Around the NBA

It seems like something big is happening everyday in the NBA. In the middle of the summer is generally when the NBA’s free agency period slows down but we continue to see moves made. Let’s take a look at some of the latest moves to happen in the NBA.

Deron Williams Bought Out by Nets; Signs with Mavs

Blake Rubin - Deron Williams

Williams joins the Mavs

Deron Williams has not been the franchise player the Brooklyn Nets had hoped for. Since signing his max contract, he has not given the Nets much of what they paid for. The Nets decided to cut their losses short, agreeing to buy Williams out of the final 2 years and $43.5 million owed to him. Williams has cleared waivers and signed with the Dallas Mavericks for 2 years $10 million.

Enes Kanter Resigns with OKC

Kanter was one of the top prizes in free agency but unfortunately he was a restricted free agent which limited his options. The Trail Blazers however after losing LaMarcus Aldridge put in an offer of 4 years $70 million that the Thunder had the opportunity to match. So Kanter, who averaged a double-double with the Thunder after arriving via trade from the Utah Jazz, remains with the Thunder. Kanter has offensive upside but has been a huge let down on the defensive end.

Cole Aldrich Signs with Clippers

The Clippers nearly lost their prized center DeAndre Jordan to the Dallas Mavericks. Jordan has second thoughts and decided to return home to the Clippers signing a max contract. With the Clippers solidifying their center position and starting 5, they now moved to fill the backup center role previously held by Spencer Hawes. The Clippers signed former 2010 lottery pick Cole Aldrich to fill that role. Although he was drafted in 2010, the Clippers will be the 5th stop for Aldrich in his career. After being drafted by the Thunder, Cole made stops in Houston, Sacramento, and with the New York Knicks.

Who Remains and Where Could They Head?

NBA free agency has been exciting and fast paced. Many players have already found new homes while others have re-upped with their current team. In a shocking move, former Pacers forward David West who opted out of a $12 million year has signed with the Pacers for $1.2 million. Lets take a look at who else is still out there that can help a team today.

JR Smith – Guard

Smith had a JR Smith like year for the Cavs last year. Unfortunately, he didn’t finish as hot as he would have liked to this year thus diminishing his value in free agency. Smith will likely look for a multi year deal with a contender. There is still a chance he returns to the Cavs.

Enes Kanter – Center

Blake Rubin - Jeremy LinKanter was traded at the deadline from Utah to Oklahoma City. He played well offensively but struggled defensively. He still put up good enough numbers to get a good deal. Problem is he’s a restricted free agent and these deals take time. It’s unclear if he fits new head coach Billy Donovan’s system in OKC.

Jeremy Lin – Point Guard

Remember this guy? It’s Linsanity. After the Rockets made him an offer the Knicks could not match 3 years ago, Lin is now back on the market. He has not had as much success since leaving the Knicks and has played backup point guard for much of his deal. Still Lin can provide minutes for a team. The Mavs have been linked to talks with Lin, but I think we all want to see Lin back in New York.

There are many other great free agents out there. Teams have been spending at record pace and may not have much more money to offer players left out there.