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July 31, 2008

And so they run. Rezball is a smashmouth game of speed, aggression and stamina. Full-court presses and man D are applied relentlessly, but the transition game is the game. Guards often start a break after receiving the inbounds pass; set plays are rare. Rezball makes the 2007 Suns look like the 1995 Knicks. Squads with three guys taller than 6’3″ are rare, so even the short guys know how to play big, and all five positions boast guardlike handles and shooting skills. Watching the best teams will rivet you to your seat-from the way players improvise at warp speed to their sheer endurance and the dialed-in-but-carefree way they ball.

The game is all action, no filler, which is why fans pack local gyms to see the powerhouse teams square off, and the top players get their 15 minutes of fame as heroes, asked to sign autographs and pose for pics after games. But 15 minutes is almost always all rezballers get. “We’ve had a lot of talented players around here,” says LeBeaux. “But they ended up stuck here and started using drugs and stuff.” Few scouts make the trip out to Pine Ridge. “There’s a lot of guys, who if good colleges had asked them to come, I bet their lives would have been different.”

As I read this article in the new ESPN magazine, I kept thinking that, sadly, this could be how Rowdy’s (from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) life turns out.

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