Vecsey, the Rucker and the Doctah


As a lifelong fan of the New York Knicks–I can still remember watching the ’69-’70 championship team, including the game 7 win over the Lakers on the black and white TV–I’ve had my fandom stoked like never before this year.  The Knicks are good again, and my son, with whom I’ve never really shared much in the way of recreational interests, has become a Knick fan the last two years and we watch many games together.

In addition to the enjoyment I get from catching the games, I also have taken to following some favorite writers on Twitter, including Hall of Famer Peter Vecsey (@PeterVescey1)who still provides the most insightful remarks about the NBA that one is likely to find anywhere.  As a longtime reader of his Hoop du Jour column in the NY Post, I was disappointed when he left the Post, but happy to once again find him dispensing insights on Twitter.  He is an interesting guy with an encyclopedic knowledge of the NBA and ABA and its characters, but he occupies a unique place in hoop history as a player, coach and the man who brought Julius “Dr J” Erving to the Rucker League in Harlem.

The Doc was my favorite player growing up and the Rucker League held a mythic place in hoop lore as the place where the best pro players went to play in the summer against the best streetballers.  I heard Vecsey recently on a podcast with an Australian hoop fanatic, Adam Ryan, and their conversations and the anecdotes Vecsey told rekindled my interest in the Rucker’s mythical past. You have to remember that it was all taking place pre-Youtube, so the exploits are only recorded via words.  He is the only one who can tell the stories and should write the book.  I’ve been on his case over the years to write the book that no one else can write, but he has declined so far allowing that he’ll write it all when his children unlearn how to read.

A couple of years ago a student, AJ Goldhoff, contacted him for help with a capstone project about the old ABA and Vecsey graciously took time to answer all of AJ’s questions.  If any of you pursue any basketball-related topics, Peter Vecsey might be helpful to your cause.

Brain Gain at what cost?

While I’m not at all surprised at how much “off-label” use there is of Adderall and the other drugs mentioned in the article, I have to admit surprise at the generalized level of acceptance and sense of inevitability coming from the likes of the British Medical Assocation and the Nature article “Towards a Responsible Use of Cognitive Enhancing Drugs by the Healthy.”

The trade off in productivity for creativity–the dampening of creativity as the article called it–is not something that will diminish the fervor for neuroenhancers as I figure a more evolved form of neuroenhancers will come around to heighten creativity (something without the stigma of LSD and other drugs like it that were used by the likes of Steve Jobs).

As someone experiencing what someone in the Atlantic Monthly referred to as the typical, middle-aged, just-at-the-tip-of-the-tongue syndrome when I can’t remember names as well as I used to do, I understand the appeal of a pharmacological assist as well as anyone and have had my eyes opened.  It would be nice to have the same energy and mental acuity as ten years ago to go with the experience and–ahem–wisdom of today.

The most interesting part for me was from Paul Phillips, the poker guy, who called Adderall a “correction” and modanifil an “enhancement.” If these things are deemed safe and without long-term detrimental effects, maybe the British Medical Association is right: bringing up cognitive ability via a pill is “generally seen to be a good thing” and I allow for the possibility that I will concur.

Welcome to Capstone 2013

Raison d’être

Keep in mind that the course came to be for a number of reasons, but I view the two main ones as follows:

  1. Research skills and awareness for college. The college people often say that kids don’t get to them with enough background in doing research, so we set out to tend to that shortcoming by creating this class.  Academic research goes beyond typing something into a Google search bar and seeing what comes up.
  2. We’re not a warehouse for those suffering with senioritis. Over the years seniors have come to the last semester with an attitude that suggested they were on the glide path of an amusement park ride–just cruising into the end.   Well, we put the onus on you to explore a subject of interest to you so your interest level is not dependent on your instructor.  You will not be afflicted with the malady known as senioritis if you are pursuing knowledge that is of interest to you.

There is much sea to sail between now and graduation, so let’s get started.