Mike Conley a keeper?

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August 29, 2016 | 1:28 pm EDT Update
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Paul Shirley: In addition to my short stints in the NBA, I also got to play a bunch of basketball in Europe — for one team in Greece, one team in Russia and three teams in Spain. Playing in Europe had its drawbacks, like that the team in Greece still owes me $52,000. But when I wasn’t lamenting losses of small fortunes, I was getting an invaluable education. I learned, for example, that most Europeans value different things than most Americans — things like family, community, and really long dinners that might not end before midnight. These values were reflected in the way European teams played basketball. There were fewer “stars” in Europe. Some people put this down to contract structure; usually, players’ contracts are within shouting distance of one another. But I would argue that it’s the other way around. The contracts are built this way because of the culture, which values interpersonal relationships far more than we do.
Paul Shirley: But we also traffic proudly in individualism, in the worship of self-sufficiency and in the stubborn belief that the world is (or should be) a meritocracy. Those attitudes seep into our sports, by way of our discussions of which player is “elite,” by way of our celebration of max contracts over max effort, and even by way of the manner we use when talk about the games those players play: never the Washington Wizards against the New York Knicks; always John Wall and the Washington Wizards against Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks. It’s no wonder Bradley Beal and John Wall don’t like each other. It’s no wonder I encountered zero NBA locker rooms where the players wanted to see each other after the games. It’s no wonder those biographies I read as a child would have to be fiction if they were written now.
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