Trae Young Reminds Us of Elton John and Michael Phelps
When you listen to Elton John sing, you can hear the special gift he has for touching your mind and heart. It’s innate, it’s real, and it’s rare. Not many musicians are as talented as he is.
When you watch Michael Phelps swim, it’s blatantly obvious that he was born with more talent, skill, and artistry than the other swimmers in the pool. You can see it as plain as the words on this page. He’s different, faster, blessed beyond belief.
When you watch Trae Young play basketball, you get that same feeling as you do listening to Elton John sing or Michael Phelps swim or any other savant who is better than others at his or her craft.
Young, the freshman guard from Oklahoma University who leads all of college basketball in scoring and assists, gives you the same feeling as you watch him float around the court. He’s got those rare instincts that very few basketball players, even many of the best, don’t. He sees things more clearly and faster than everyone else on the court.
He drives to the middle of the lane, apparently looking to shoot, but then lofts an alley-oop pass for a dunk by a teammate. The play unfolds so fast that only he saw his teammate open for the slam as quickly and naturally as he did. The rest of us were a step behind the play.
Like when you watched Michael Jackson dance, there is no taking your eyes off of Trae Young when he’s playing basketball because you know he’s about to do something that you infrequently see on the court. It could be a one-hand floater in the lane for a bucket, a two-handed, 60-foot chest pass to a teammate for a layup on the other end of the court, or a rapid release step back 35-footer for a swish.
In the NBA players rarely shoot the ball from as far away as Young does, and he makes a good many of them.
Thinking about this phenomenal talent reminds me of some 15 years ago when I first heard about tennis superstar Roger Federer from the commentary of John McEnroe. Because he understood tennis viscerally, Mac could see when Fed was just 20 years old that he had unique talents that would propel him to the top ranking in the world.
Fed’s gifts jumped off the court. The same is true of Trae Young. If you’ve watched enough basketball, you can quickly spot someone who plays the game at a higher level than everybody else. I’m not talking
about noticing that one guy shoots the ball well or jumps high or is quick. I am talking about the whole package of basketball skills, from A to Z, being exquisite, extraordinary in all facets of the sport, literally as if God created this person to be a perfect basketball player.
This is who Trae Young is. From 35 feet away, bam, bucket, swish. Wow. Driving the lane, he’s covered. How is he going to get a shot off? Wait, he’s floating under the basket to the other side and scooping it up with a spin for two points. How did he do that? He was defended. Ordinary basketball players never do what he just did. Even good ones rarely do.
There he is with the ball on the fast break. It’s chaos. Yet he sees through it. It’s all clear. There’s his teammate open for a layup. He saw the play unfold before anyone else.
Sports analysts have talked about why the greatest hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky, was so special. One of his gifts was the ability to skate to where the puck was going to be based on his instincts. It was his anticipation of where the game was going, where the puck would slide to next.
Trae Young plays that same way as Gretzky, one step ahead of everybody. This is not something that can be taught to any basketball player. It’s innate, raw talent.
Elton John makes great songs time and again because he’s great at doing so. It comes naturally to him and we all know it. He will go down as one of the greatest musicians of any generation.
Trae Young’s basketball gifts are of that same magnitude. He can do it all on a basketball court. Other guys can do a lot of good things also. But not quite as effortlessly and naturally as Young. That’s the key. It comes to him with less strain. It is who he is, a fantastic basketball player who comes along only once every decade or so to blow our basketball minds.
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:
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