So what is it about left handers in basketball? Everyone knows they’re going left. And they still get past the defense going left.
If you’ve seen Manu Ginóbili, you know what I mean.
Or Goran Dragić.
Yes, the Bulls have got one, and a good one.
Dragić, the 14-year veteran from Slovenia who is competing at point guard for the Bulls after a late summer free agency signing, has been an All-Star, the league’s Most Improved Player, and a disciple of left handers like Slovenia’s Beno Udrih and Manu Ginobili.
OK, you know Ginobili.
I’m a Udrih fan since I had him as a long shot in a playoff pool one time and he led the Spurs in scoring for a rare win for me. But I digress.
“When I came to the league they kind of compared me to him (Ginóbili) a little bit because I would drive to the hoop like him a little bit,” Dragić was relating after Bulls practice Monday. “We (lefties) shoot the ball differently if you look. We always turn to the side a little bit. Our finish is a little bit different. Maybe it’s an advantage, but when you play against a right hander it’s a little bit awkward for us, too.”
Sure, but there’s something about left handers in basketball.
Probably because there’s something about left handers.
About 10 percent of the world’s population, according to those reliable sources, are left handers. Yet, six of the last 14 American presidents were left handed. And some of the most creative people in world history were left handed, like Benjamin Franklin, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Renoir, Mozart, Aristotle and in recent times Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Nikola Tesla, Paul McCartney, Bill Gates and, of course, Oprah.
Baseball famously had Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton, Stan Musial, Lou Gehrig, Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Gwynn, Barry Bonds and Deion Sanders, who played other sports. There was Wayne Gretzky in hockey and so many of the greats in tennis like McEnroe, Laver, Seles, Navratilova, Nadal, Connors and creative football quarterbacks like Kenny Stabler and Steve Young.
You can get a sense of why having a versatile and clever one like Dragić may become so valuable.
He’s going left. Good luck stopping that.
I wasn’t so thrilled in grade school when the kid next to me was left handed, especially because he wouldn’t show me his test paper.
Left handers are supposed to have enhanced imagination, creativity and the ability to adapt.
Which does sound a lot like Dragić, who is an ingenious ballhandler and reliable shooter, 36 percent for his career with seasons above 40 percent in Miami and Phoenix.
Dragić is winding down his career, but showed last month in the EuroBasket tournament he still can play at a high level averaging 15 points on 50 percent shooting. He said the Bulls are monitoring his training camp time because of the summer tournament, but he said he’s anxious to play Tuesday in the preseason opener against New Orleans on TNT. And he said he informed coach Billy Donovan of that desire. Donovan has said in viewing different combinations during the four preseason games some veterans will sit out games.
Dragić, who will wear No. 7 for the Bulls, offered a shoutout to another Bulls No. 7, Toni Kokoc.
“Toni Kukoč was big (to me), especially because I was born in Yugoslavia,” said Dragić. “That’s the same country Toni was from back in the day (before the breakup with Kukoč’s part now Croatia and Dragić in Slovenia).”
Dragić listed Udrih as one of his favorite left handers.
Here’s my top top current left handed NBA players:
- James Harden
- Arvydas Sabonis
- Zion Williamson (if he ever does play)
- Ben Simmons (if he ever does play)
- De’Aaron Fox
- R.J. Barrett
- Goran Dragić
- Julius Randle
- D’Angelo Russell
- Thad Young (for old time sakes; sorry DJJ and Brunson)
My top 10 left handers of all-time:
- Bill Russell
- Nate Archibald
- Lenny Wilkens
- Bob Lanier
- David Robinson
- Willis Reed
- James Harden
- Dave Cowens
- Chris Mullin
- Manu Ginóbili
It’s more a personal eclectic list than for the record or record books. Tough to leave off Bulls Artis Gilmore and Toni Kukoč, Billy Cunningham, Chris Bosh and a personal favorite Dick “Fall back, baby” Barnett, the great 60s Lakers and Knicks guard who sort of invented trash talk as he shouted the instruction when he shot. It’s going in, so he’s falling back on defense. Get ready.
Those guys do have some personality.
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