The beauty of basketball

There are many things about thegame of basketball that appeal to me. When played as it’s meant to be, the sport is artistic, pleasing to the eyes. From handling the basketball to passing the basketball to shooting the basketball, there is not a more elegant sport. Again, when those who are doing those things are doing them well.

Kansas redshirt freshman Ben McLemore is a basketball prodigy and a joy to watch.

The game of basketball can be a train wreck if in the wrong hands.

But when a player can do all of the essentials, he becomes special. There are three players that I want to write about today, at different levels of the game.

Wichita North’s Conner Frankamp, Kansas’ Ben McLemore and the Miami Heat’s LeBron James are special players, obviously, but it goes beyond their statistics.

It goes to their art.

I was jolted by this notion Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse as I watched KU’s McLemore score 30 points during a 21-point win over Kansas State. He was phenomenal. McLemore’s grace stands out. He’s an elegant basketball player, someone seemingly born to perform with the orange sphere in his hands.

When he shoots the ball, it looks different than a shot from anyone else. McLemore reaches an apex with his leap. The ball lines up perfectly with his hands. The release is flawless and the flight of the ball is as beautiful as a painting.

Think I’m over-doing it? I don’t think I am.

Basketball is such an aesthetically-pleasing game, or at least it can be. And when it is, it’s a game like no other.

I have seen Frankamp play several times during his career and it’s not just that he scores points in bunches, it’s how he scores them. It’s the way he handles the basketball to create his shots. It’s how he pulls up and gets off a shot in the blink of an eye.

Many basketball players plod. They end up getting the job done, but it can be painful to watch.

Basketball is a game meant for symmetry. It has its own cadence and the very best players are the ones with rhythm.

James is another example at the NBA level. He’s 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds, at least. He’s a bull, yet a graceful one. When he puts his head down and takes off for the basket, there’s violent beauty in his assault.

When I watch a basketball game, I look for players who will bring me out of my seat. I’m drawn to greatness in all walks of life, but especially in basketball. I think it’s a beautifully choreographed sport.

That beauty can be diminished or flat-out extinguished by sloppy play. Lazy passes and bad shots are the worst. Basketball can be an ugly sport.

In the hands of the most skilled players, though, there’s nothing better.

And that’s why I wanted to write today about Frankamp, McLemore and James. They are highly-skilled artists as much as they are outstanding basketball players. Their movements accentuate their skills to the point that they blend together as one.

They make the game look effortless, which we all know it isn’t.

McLemore made a huge impression on me Monday night. He was so good, so fluid. He never forced the game, he let it happen. When I watch him, I know I’m seeing a future NBA All-Star.

Concerning McLemore, I posed this question on Twitter: How high is McLemore’s ceiling?

I’m not sure there is one. His skill and elegance are a dynamic package. It looks to me like he was put on Earth to play basketball, and there are only a few basketball players I can say that about.

Frankamp and James are in that category, too. Players like this don’t come along often, so it’s important for those of us who love basketball to soak it in. We’re lucky to get to watch players like this perform their craft. For them, it’s much more than a game.