Daily Archives: December 4, 2010

An athlete to root for: Austin Rivers. And Arizona’s budget woes lets people die

The best high school basketball player in America plys his trade just an hour from where I live.
And he’s committed to play for Duke next year.
So of course I was going to go down and see him in person at least once this season.
I made the trip to Winter Park, FL to see Austin Rivers play the other night. Everything I’d heard about him? True.
He’s the son of Doc Rivers, who if you don’t follow hoops is a former NBA player and current coach.
Austin Rives is 6-foot-5, and he has everything. Everything. He can shoot, he can dribble, he’s fast enough to get through a double-team, and he plays defense, too.
It’s hard to explain if you’re not a basketball fan, but when you watch a kid like this who has the total package, and does everything on the court so smoothly … well, it’s a beautiful thing.
Still, I wanted to know one more thing: Was Rivers a jerk? So many of the top young high school and football stars I see are cocky and disrespectful, and all about themselves.
Happy to report that Rivers is none of these things. He was respectful on the court, to opponents and teammates. After the game, when I interviewed him,  he was smart, well-spoken, polite, everything you’d expect.
What struck me the most was, about five minutes after we were done talking, I was walking out of the gym and saw Rivers standing in the middle of the gym lobby.
He was in a circle of a group of kids, none of them basketball players, and he was just hanging out, shooting the breeze, without a care in the world, and blending in perfectly.
No one, least of all him, seemed to care that he was the best amateur player in America. He was just a teenager, chilling with his friends after a game.
It was a breath of fresh air.
So go ahead and root for Austin Rivers, a kid who gets it.

**You want some scary proof at how bad the budget problems states are having? Of course you do. Check out what’s going on in Arizona when it comes to organ transplants. Because of significant cuts in the state’s Medicaid budget, Arizona has stopped financing organ transplants in certain cases.
The worst part of this, as if there’s only one worse part, is that donors who had successfully made it to the front of the line after sometimes years, and were in line for a donation before the budget cuts, now are being told that the state can no longer afford to give them the organ.
Disgusting. Awful. There has to be a better way. There has to be a way to cut spending without actually letting people (potentially) die of neglect like this.

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