Monday, February 21, 2011

How Should Fans Feel About Luka Mirkovic’s Post-Basket Celebrations?

One of the most recent debates on the Northwestern message boards has been about Luka Mirkovic. Not whether or not Luka should start (we seem to have gotten past that), but about whether Luka’s histrionics after he makes a three or gets an and-1 are appropriate. To be honest, I never gave much thought to the idea until this Saturday at Indiana. Before Saturday, I’d generally see Luka get excited, kind of laugh because most the time Luka is probably the Big Ten’s most unaggressive big man, and then forget about his actions until he did something similar. At Indiana, though, when Tom Pritchard mimicked Luka after making a basket shortly after Luka gestured “three” after he hit a three, I thought it might be worth discussing this issue.

I don’t generally have a problem with a player who shows emotion and wants to celebrate a big shot. John Shurna has been known to get hyped after he or a teammate hit a big bucket and no one in the Northwestern community seems to have a problem with what Shurna does, but a lot of people seem to think Luka should try to contain himself. I think the reason is twofold. One is that Shurna (when not hurt) is consistently good. He makes impossible shots look easy and hits threes with more ease than some people (like Luka) hit layups. The other reason is that Shurna appears to be acting spontaneously when his joy appears. I’m not saying Luka isn’t, but yelling with joy sure appears a lot more spontaneous than some type of gesture which one probably has to consciously decide to make.

From my point of view, I think the second point is the critical one. Sure, some people will say Luka needs to “earn” the right to celebrate, but if some third-string walk-on comes off the bench to hit a buzzer beater in the NCAA Tournament would people say he can’t celebrate because he doesn’t have a double-figure scoring average? I don’t think so. Maybe that’s an extreme example, but my point is that I don’t think the right to be proud of oneself should be restricted. On the other hand, I don’t like the idea that a player is spending any amount of time thinking about something other than actually playing basketball when the game clock is moving. That’s why I’m not in love with the idea of Luka making his “three” gesture or blowing kisses to the crowd on the way down the court after a made hoop. I don’t care if he wants to thump his chest after an and-1 (at the rate Luka makes layups maybe he should celebrate that) because it’s a dead ball and his focus doesn’t need to be on anything else. On the other hand, if he needs to take even one tenth of a second to think, “I want to make a ‘three’ signal” or “I want to blow kisses to the crowd” when he should be focused on where he needs to get in NU’s defense that is disappointing because it isn’t the smart basketball that NU needs to play in order to win.

If I were Bill Carmody my message to Luka would be to contain himself while the game is going on. I didn’t care that Luka’s “three” gesture fired up the IU crowd, but I did care that he let IU get an easy basket on him after he did it. Maybe the two weren’t connected at all, but maybe they were and I don’t want to take the chance.

On the other hand, if Luka wants to thump his chest after making and-1s that’s fine. The game is stopped. Sure, it looks a little ridiculous when a guy who can’t even shoot 50% from two feet gets all excited, but maybe it makes more sense, and if Luka himself doesn’t care how the move makes people perceive him, then I don’t care. I just don’t want him losing focus when a guy is going to be coming right at him trying to score. He isn’t prolific enough on offense that he’ll be able to make those points up.

1 comment:

Glenn said...

I've got no problem with the celebration but he should hold that stuff to home games.

Doing that stuff at Purdue or Indiana is stupid when -- as you point out -- he doesn't exactly have the game to back it up.