Some things don’t change

By Ed Odeven
Summer of 2010

Every other e-mail or conversation regarding the bj-league includes at least a few words about the league’s financial woes.

And yet there’s a mad rush to keep expanding — three new teams for the 2010-11 season and more on the way the year after that.

Sure, the league needs the infusion of cash that new teams bring, but is the current business model really sustainable?

It appears 11 of the 16 teams will have new head coaches in 2010-11. Yes, sometimes change is good, but wholesale changes reflect badly on the league.

The circuit’s basic structure screams for some semblance of stability. Commissioner Toshimitsu Kawachi and others in charge have not provided it.

And it starts with player development, and not enough of that is taking place in college.

By expanding so often and so quickly, the talent level, especially among the league’s Japanese players, is getting watered down.

As one coach said in a recent interview, “The players at the tryout camp were by far the lowest level in the three years I’ve been going, maybe the worst ever.”

In other words, the league is expanding too quickly.

And its long-term survival is becoming doubtful at this point.



  1. My view is quite simple, the reason for the rise in not-so-good talent within the Japanese ranks is rather easy to comprehend, there is very little teaching of the sport by the people supposedly running the show! From the highest order(or should be) all the way on down. The BJ league and Super League…. they do not mediate the lower levels of the sport throughout the whole of the country, therefore you see absolutely no progress in the games of the youth. At the University level, same deals same results, all the way down and through the minor ranks. How are levels of athletes supposed to increase when, very few to NO ONE, is lending them anywhere positive? That was my message the entire time I was in Japan, and the trend continues to this day. This is also the reason I was run out of town, for I was one of the only ones screaming foul right from the beginning and we all know that if you are a nail that refuses to be banged in, they will just pull you out and replace you with one who will. I tried on a number of occasions to be a part of the “system” yet my way, would have helped not hindered the youth. It would have given them the skills to succeed rather than fail. Would have empowered the children to become meaningful players and maybe even start to reverse the trend of relying on foreign imports for all the dirty work, and actually promote outstanding play from the Japanese ball players themselves and start to make men out of them and elevate their own games. This was the vision I had for Japanese young men (and women) yet it was not meant to be, for the “folks in charge” don’t even believe that their own children can fill those roles. Therefore they don’t teach, hence you see what you have now playing at your “tryouts”. You say there are 11 coaching jobs open as of right now….. would I even be considered for one of these jobs…despite the fact that I have been in and around the game for over 30 plus years. (this is what I did for a living, and did it quite well…..) I beg to differ, and yet my foundation works as well as my almost 12 years of service to the basketball industry in Japan begs the question why? Why am I not even being considered? The basketball culture will not change until the higher ups stop chasing the money and start building a legit outfit…. committed to raising the youths games through good teachings of basic skills and meaningful practices, and finally having worthwhile competition. Then and only then shall changes begin to show themselves on the court!

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