Quote of the week

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you're not, pretend you are.” – Muhammad Ali

Friday, January 30, 2015

Would it be blasphemy to call Yaya Toure unfit?

Yaya Toure
Africa's best footballer, not athlete
Would it be blasphemy to call Yaya Toure unfit? Well, not really.

The four-time African Player of the Year is the best footballer on the continent, no doubt. He is perhaps a model of the perfect African player, combining the continent’s unique physical gifts with a refinement you only really receive at the Nou Camp, home of Spanish giants Barcelona.

That is to say, there many talented players in the world, but few get the opportunity to play and learn at Barcelona, a Harvard of football, if you like. Toure has had this chance and has maximised it to forge a distinctive style and a successful career.

He is forceful and has the power of a truck, yet he possesses the finesse and brainpower of a swan. Toure is, today, one of the few players that can single-handedly win a match, a truly rare behemoth.
So, why hasn’t he shone at this Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)?

It is an open-ended question with the potential for equally fluid answers.

There could be many reasons, some unknown.

For one, international and club football are completely different. Manchester City and Ivory Coast use different systems; the philosophies are poles apart and, of course, the teammates are not the same.

The pitches at the AFCON are also not the pristine carpets of the English Premier League and, perhaps, Toure’s national mates don’t quite make the space-creating runs David Silva or Sergio Aguero do.

These could all be reasons for Toure’s subpar contribution but I feel, above anything, the greatest cause is he is not fit enough for the AFCON. For Africa’s biggest test, Toure is unfit.

The demands of the AFCON are not the same. Sometimes games resemble a track meet rather than a football match. It is the tournament where physical fitness counts most. Strain on the body is high and the need for tip-top physical conditioning is paramount.

Ivory Coast is generally still trying to use Toure in a similar way to City. In the first two group games against Guinea and Mali, especially, Toure had two midfielders behind him which allowed him to be a creator and the license, if he chose, to stride forwards. Toure is still the team’s midfield fulcrum, handling most of the passing moves and set-pieces.

However, the tournament’s fast-paced gameplay has still passed him by.

Toure, of course, isn’t the leanest athlete and, since his move to England in 2009, has seemed to add a bit of flab per year. But, in England it hasn’t been a major problem. Toure is still able to dominate opponents especially because, as he has grown in experience, he has been able to pick spurts to explode within games.

However, at the AFCON he is unable to do the same.

Too physical
African football, Afcon football
Again, this could be seen as blasphemy.

How can the English Premiership be less demanding when it houses the best athletes and is played at the fastest pace? Well, for one, the conditions help. England is cold and ideal for a fast-paced game. Players don’t wear out as easily during a match. Pitches, factors in fatigue, are also perfect.

In Equatorial Guinea, where this year’s AFCON is being held, temperatures have been as high as 38 degrees in addition to sweltering humidity. Those are difficult conditions which require the utmost fitness, even more so in tournament football where rest between matches is often only two days.

Toure has not tried any less with the Ivory Coast; the physical demands of the AFCON are simply much greater.

The final group game against Cameroon was an example of Toure’s effort. However, ultimately, the encounter took the life of other matches where he has been visibly exasperated by their physical nature, being matched and, at times, bullied.

Some of that, of course, comes from the normal star mentality: ‘don’t touch me’.

But, above all, it is vexation, irritation that this is totally different to the Premier League. Men, simply, are not falling here.

So, while Toure is still trying, he is not fit enough for the relentless arena that is the Africa Cup of Nations. And that, ladies and gentleman, is the truth.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

AFCON 2015 Fixtures & Results

The Prize...
The AFCON trophy
Group Stage
Group A
Equatorial Guinea 1-1 Congo
Burkina Faso 0-2 Gabon
Equatorial Guinea 0-0 Burkina Faso
Gabon 0-1 Congo 
Congo 2-1 Burkina Faso 
Gabon 0-2 Equatorial Guinea

Group B
Zambia 1-1 D.R. Congo
Tunisia 1-1 Cape Verde
Zambia 1-2 Tunisia 
Cape Verde 0-0 D.R. Congo
Cape Verde 0-0 Zambia
D.R. Congo 1-1 Tunisia

Group C
Ghana 1-2 Senegal 
Algeria 3-1 South Africa          
Ghana 1-0 Algeria 
South Africa 1-1 Senegal 
Senegal 0-2 Algeria     
South Africa 1-2 Ghana

One of Africa's brightest new stars...
Bafana's Tokelo Rantie
Group D
Ivory 1-1 Coast Guinea
Mali 1-1 Cameroon 
Ivory Coast 1-1 Mali
Cameroon 1-1 Guinea
Cameroon 0-1 Ivory Coast     
Guinea 1-1 Mali 

Quarter Final
Congo 2-4 DR Congo 
Tunisia 1-2 Equatorial Guinea 

Ghana 3-0 Guinea 
Ivory Coast 3-1 Algeria

Semi Final
DR Congo 1-3 Ivory Coast
Equatorial Guinea 0-2 Ghana

3rd and 4th Playoff
DR Congo v Equatorial Guinea
DR Congo won on penalties

African King...
Will Yaya Toure and the Ivory Coast finally win the AFCON?

08 February, 2015
Ivory Coast 0-0 Ghana
Ivory Coast won 9-8 on penalties

Sunday, January 11, 2015

#Thoughts: Are the Seattle Seahawks a dynasty?

It was a pleasure to watch the NFL playoffs last night and see my favourite team, the Carolina Panthers, play the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Round. Of course, I initially supported the Panthers only because of Cam Newton, but they are my team now and I have grown to love them.

Cam Newton...
Close, but no cigar
The Panthers played a great game against the champion Seahawks and, if it wasn’t for a few moments here and there, could, very conceivably, have won the game.

The Seahawks, though, are just a whirlwind; they are able to stay in and ultimately win any game because of their awesome defence. Last night they were simply a sight to behold and safety Kam Chancellor, in particular, played like a man possessed. He was Superman all night.

Seattle scored off a turnover; they struck off two improbable series engineered by the magical Russell Wilson and sealed it with an interception. That is Seahawks football – opportunistic, methodical, dynamic and efficient with loads of mental toughness.

It is a formula the Panthers just weren’t able to cope with over a full four quarters.

After a nervous start Newton and the Panthers offence grew into the game. As things wore on they were able to build drives and move the chains. The running game was strong and running back Jonathan Stewart was immense against the league’s best defence. The offensive line also did splendid job of opening lanes for the run and Newton conducted the offence with determination.

On the defensive side Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis were brilliant – two outstanding linebackers – and upfront, the defensive line was exceptional, pretty much nullifying Seattle’s vaunted run-game.

But, the Seattle defence is always lurking and you have to be perfect. Unfortunately, Newton made two huge errors in the red zone.

In the fourth quarter, after another hard-earned and promising drive, Newton had the Panthers sniffing the end zone with the chance to close the score to 24-17, with four minutes to go. However, he delayed the pass and was intercepted by Chancellor.

That was game-over.

Kam Chancellor celebrates his 90-yard interception
Newton showed he has to improve. He played an almost perfect game, remarkable at times, but a lack of poise at the most critical moments is the difference between great and elite. And, in the NFL only elite quarterback play wins out.

Newton had a critical botched first-quarter handoff with Steward when he didn’t recognise the pressure on time. Later, he stared down his receiver and was almost intercepted by Thomas; it was still a costly error as the Panthers could only come away with a field goal from a good drive.

And, then in the end, Newton had the game sealing interception.

The Panthers, though, have a bright future. The defence is great, always a good foundation. The Panthers just need to improve their secondary to one that can cover top receivers and tackle consistently in open space. That would elevate the Panthers defence to the elite levels of the Seahawks.

As things stand, the Panthers have a defence that is above the average good NFL defence, almost elite. But since their offence isn’t as explosive, Carolina need a magnificent defence to pull them through – again, much like the Seahawks do.

The Panthers also need to upgrade on special teams, namely their kick returner. finally the Panthers have to upgrade on wide receiver. This year their top receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, was a rookie and he was backed up by a group of willing, but not game-breaking journeymen.

With those upgrades, in addition to an improving Newton, you have an elite team; one I feel could be Seattle’s biggest rival in the NFC over the next three or four years. Of course, it is easier said than done.

Seattle dynasty

The Future?
Russell Wilson and Cam Newton after Seattle's win
Russell Wilson. I don’t know what to say about him. I think he is the best quarterback in the game.

This is a very heavy statement, I know. Almost blasphemy. But, Wilson is truly amazing. He is a magician with his feet, throws brilliantly and, above all, is unshakable mentally. He doesn’t make mistakes. He is composed and really spreads a sense of calm throughout the team – ‘my quarterback got this’.

Wilson’s poise was pretty much summed up by his crazy play on third down. He was 8-8 for 199 yards passing in third down situations and all three of his beautiful touchdown strikes came on third and long situations.

As a team, Seattle really can be a dynasty. Incredibly, they have improved from last year. They look faster and even more menacing of the defensive side of the game. The performance of safeties Chancellor and Earl Thomas, in particular, was insane.

But the whole defence was unbelievable. Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett bring unreal pressure upfront and Bobby Wagner is the best middle linebacker in the game at the moment. And that’s not mentioning cornerbacks, Richard Sherman and Bryon Maxwell, and linebacker Bruce Irvin, another who had an outstanding game against the Panthers. It is almost as if the Seattle defence are trying to outdo each other and that competition breeds excellence.

On the offensive side Seattle are not yet explosive. But they are solid and they know who they are. Their running game sets everything up. Even when they don’t have the most productive night, like yesterday, they keep chugging away and that always makes them a multidimensional threat.

This is all conducted brilliantly by Wilson.

If plays breakdown he is able to make plays with his feet. He is always ice cool, able to keep his eye downfield on open receivers even under duress or on the run. Wilson is simply an amazing guy. And, altogether it makes Seattle very exciting, exciting for the future. The building blocks for a dynasty are there.

You better alert the legion!
Seattle Seahawks defence
Quick outs:

The difference between three and seven points
The Baltimore Ravens basically lost their AFC Divisional Round game against the New England Patriots because they had to settle for a field goal early in the fourth instead of a touchdown. With the scores tied at 28-28 in a topsy-turvy game, Joe Flacco, who had been unreal until then, just wasn’t able to engineer a touchdown. The Ravens had to settle for a field goal to make it 31-28 and, with Tom Brady on the field, that was dangerous. And so it proved. Brady led the Patriots on a methodical drive and New England won 35-31.

Similarly, Newton and the Panthers’ failure to get a touchdown just before halftime against Seattle was also a game changer. At 14-14 the game is different. But, behind you have to take more chances and against elite defences, such as the Seahawks, that’s when you get picked off. In post-season play, the difference between getting the touchdown or having to settle for a field goal is crucial.

We might have seen the Super Bowl two
Whatever happens tonight between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, to go to Seattle and win, especially at night, is just too tough. Things just happen there, like man-made earthquakes.The AFC is a bit more open, especially if the Denver Broncos prevail over the Indianapolis Colts. 

The Broncos are a champion team with a champion quarterback, Peyton Manning. They have added toughness and athleticism this season after their Super Bowl blowout last year. However, in Foxborough, you always have to side with Tom Brady and the Patriots. This year, I believe, we will be seeing the Seahawks and the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The 10 Wonders of Sport

The following piece looks at 10 of the most wondrous individual skills in sports today. It’s a current list, limited to active athletes. There are simply too many examples of special moves over history to delve beyond current stars. From the Zidane pirouette to the Tyson left hook, from Iverson’s crossover to Tendulkar’s pull-shot, this list would have been endless. These, then, are today’s 10 Wonders of Sport. Enjoy.

1. Rafael Nadal forehand (Tennis)
The Whip
Ever since Rafael Nadal exploded onto the tennis scene a decade ago as a cargo-pants-wearing 17 year-old, his forehand has been a phenomenon. The simplest way to describe Nadal’s forehand would be to call it a whip, one that has helped the Spaniard to 14 Grand Slam titles and made him the greatest clay-court player in history.

As a weapon it is incomparable, as wondrous as it is deadly. Its mechanics remain unique with everything about the stroke – from Nadal’s body position to his delivery – defying conventionality.

The preparatory stance, for a start, is one of the most remarkable in tennis with Nadal often positioned in a semi or fully open stance. The objective here is to exert as much rotational energy with his body as possible when he swings at the ball.

Simultaneously, his legs work to propel his upper body at a rapid pace for added force.

As he uncoils, Nadal’s whole upper body twists into the shot. The racket, meanwhile, has been positioned below the ball; the racket face will brush the ball as it is thrust upwards, producing spin. Nadal’s fabled extreme grip forms another part of the equation as it enhances the downward disposition of the racket face during the backswing.

As Nadal swings his racket into the ball the racket face repositions in a vertical manner into the contact point. Nadal then follows through in an exaggerated, whip-like motion after contact.

The outcome is heavy topspin achieving high net clearance before the ball dips viciously and shoots up after hitting the surface. It is a nightmare for opponents, especially on clay where the ball can lift up as high as shoulder height.

Frighteningly, as time has passed, Nadal has been able to even better his forehand.

Not only can he impart topspin, Nadal can now flatten out his forehand for stinging winners. It is now the ultimate weapon in tennis, able to bring outright winners from anywhere on the court, often turning defence into definitive attack instantly.

Additionally, such is his body strength, Nadal is able to win points off-balance and from improbable positions.

“He used to have a good forehand down the line, but it was a redirection, a shot to set up the next one,” Darren Cahill, former coach of Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi, now an ESPN commentator, said during last year’s Australian Open. “Now it’s an outright winner, and it’s a scary shot.”

It is too scary.

In 2011 The New York Times produced a video called "Speed and Spin: Nadal’s Lethal Forehand". It was based on measurements by John Yandell, owner of TennisPlayer.net. Yandell filmed thousands of slow motion videos of shots played by tennis pros and counted their ball rotations per minute (rpm). The video also used stats from Hawk-Eye. It revealed:

-          Nadal’s forehand averaged 3,300 rpms, which was about 18 percent  more than the average topspin on forehands by Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic

-          Nadal’s highest measured topspin was 4,900 rpm

-          Nadal’s heaviest topspin was used on slower, 70-75 mph loops, however Nadal frequently hit his biggest weapon, the inside-out forehand, at 94 mph with less topspin

-          Nadal’s flat put-away forehand was recorded as fast as 107 mph

2. Floyd Mayweather lead right (Boxing)
Floyd Mayweather is one of the greatest boxers of all-time. Certainly, he is one of the most skilled practitioners of the art ever.

Mayweather has a stunningly wide array of skills, both offensive and defensive, and they have helped him to a perfect 47-0 record over 19 years and six world titles in five weight classes.

Of Mayweather’s numerous weapons, the most fascinating is his lead right. It is a punch that isn’t taught in boxing class because of the degree of risk involved.

For a right-hander, it’s a punch thrown with the right hand from a conventional jab stance.

To execute it, one has to leap forward with their right hand outstretched and be quick enough to avoid being countered to a wide exposed chin. The danger here is clear.

Mayweather, however, has mastered this skill. His unbelievable quickness allows him to usually sneak the punch in before the opponent can react. Mayweather then seems to further circumvent the danger by jumping into his opponents after throwing the punch.

When he sees the moment, Mayweather quickly leans forward with his whole body and leads with a straight right hand. Whether he lands or not, he will usually follow through by grabbing the opponent, with a forearm crush or a lifted knee thrust into the opponent’s thigh and lower abdomen region. None of these moves are particularly legal, but they take away the opportunity for Mayweather to be counterpunched off-balance.

At other times Mayweather pulls only his head and upper body back and keeps his lower body in neutral. After landing, he slips out and is swiftly in punching position once again when he recovers his upper body.

These factors help make what is otherwise an unadvisable move a main weapon.

The lead right, as with other skills on this list, is not novel to its current user, Mayweather.

It is something the great Muhammad Ali used to do.

The difference is Mayweather has used the lead right over the years as a main offensive tactic like he did against Ricky Hatton in 2007. That night his strategy against Hatton’s relentless but unguarded pressure was to take pot shots. 100 of the 129 punches Mayweather landed were power punches and the majority were straight right-hand leads. Time after time Mayweather landed the punch flush on Hatton, wearing the Briton down until a 10th round knockout.

CompuBox stats: Mayweather v Hatton
Total Punches
Pct. Landed
Pct. Landed
Power Punches
Pct. Landed

Mayweather, thus, has made the lead right a two dimensional and accurate weapon. As a counterpunch, he’ll lean his body forward, baiting his opponent to throw a punch. Mayweather then avoids the punch by pulling his head back, arching his back, and then springing back forward with a right hand counter.

As an out-and-out attack weapon, he jumps in cat-like and lands the punch. In an instant his opponent is tagged often not knowing what has hit them.

It is money.

Here’s a comparison from 2012 of Mayweather to his contemporaries in the plus/minus category - the difference between a fighter’s punch connect rate to that of his opponents
Floyd Mayweather
9 fights
Andre Ward
7 fights
Vladimir Klitschko
8 fights
Yuriorkis Gamboa
6 fights
Manny Pacquiao
7 fights
Timothy Bradley
6 fights
Nonito Donaire
7 fights
* Data through February 2012
- Statistics courtesy of CompuBox

3. Kobe Bryant fadeaway (Basketball)
Kobe Bryant's fadeaway
Kobe Bryant has mastered basketball’s fadeaway jumper, arguably the toughest shot in the sport. The original master of the shot is Michael Jordan while other players like Dirk Nowitzki have used the stroke to deadly effect over their careers.

Bryant, however, has come to master the fadeaway in his own Mamba way and is able to score from any position and any situation.

Because of his underrated elite physical abilities, Bryant is able to rise up, hang suspended mid-air – while leaning away from a defender, or two – and then have enough strength to shoot the ball with enough arc to loop over the defender’s outstretched hand.

The difficulty is enormous; the grace and cunning, unmatched.

As Bryant explains in this video, he uses his fadeaway jumper in a variety of situations.

With it he is able to beat double teams. He is able to score with no space. He can back down a defender then use a spin move and score. He can jab-step, then rise up and shoot on the slightest misstep by his defender.

Simply, Bryant has given the fadeaway stunning variety.

It is this variation that has made the shot a devastating weapon as Bryant has won five NBA championships, two scoring titles, two Finals MVPs and become the league’s third top scorer of all-time over a glittering 19-year career.

Finally, it is typical Bryant that the move was perfected by watching a cheetah hunt on TV.

To quote Bryant: “When you watch me shoot my fadeaway jumper, you’ll notice my leg is always extended. I had problems making that shot in the past. It’s tough. So one day I’m watching the Discovery Channel and see a cheetah hunting. When the cheetah runs, its tail always gives it balance, even if it’s cutting a sharp angle. And that’s when I was like: My leg could be the tail, right? … Inspiration surrounds us.”

4. Ronaldo freekick shot (Football)
The cream is about to hit the fan...
Cristiano Ronaldo packs an incredible shot and has the ability to shoot powerfully with either foot from any angle. The only other examples of this extreme ability in history are perhaps fellow Portuguese legend, the late Eusebio, and Argentina’s Gabriel Batistuta.

By mixing his natural striking power with unconventional technique, Ronaldo has made his freekick shot into a unique spectacle and, over the course of his prolific career, has scored 43 of them.

Ronaldo’s freekick strike is examined in some detail here, but, to break it down in short, Ronaldo strikes the ball in a manner that maximises velocity and produces vicious dip and movement.

Whereas the conventional freekick method is to approach the ball from a side angle and use the side-foot to strike, Ronaldo approaches the ball head on and hits it with his laces, with his foot pointing downwards.

The technique and follow-through aim to put as little spin on the ball as possible. This causes Ronaldo’s thunderbolt strike to dip and move violently, pretty much the nightmare scenario for any goalkeeper.

The key, again, is the lack of spin on the ball. Experiments on football design technology have revealed modern-day footballs lose between 30 and 40 percent of their speed shortly after impact. Ronaldo’s technique makes sure the ball loses less speed than normal.

“Every time a ball rotates through the air it creates drag and slows down, so the more spin a player places on the ball the more speed his shot will lose in flight,” Dr Andy Harland, part of the team that developed the official ball for the Euro 2004 championship, said in 2009.

“Ronaldo’s aim when he strikes the ball, whether he’s aware of it or not, is to eliminate as much spin as possible and then leave the fate of the ball to nature’s randomness.”


5. Colin Kaepernick fast-ball (Gridiron/American Football)
Rocket arm... CK7
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick could have been a professional baseball pitcher and the velocity of throw shows. It is a cannon.

Kaepernick was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 43rd round of the 2009 MLB first-year player draft before choosing to pursue a career in the NFL.

In 2013 he threw an 87 mph ceremonial pitch before an MLB game and until last year jointly held the throwing velocity record at the NFL draft combine, a 59 mph throw from 2011.

This pure speed has been evident often in his NFL career.

Kaepernick was at his most devastating during the 49ers’ magical playoff run in 2012 when he led the 49ers to within one play of winning the Super Bowl. His arm, complemented by his equally lightning legs, made Kaepernick the pin-up for the future dual-threat quarterback at the time.

And, although Kaepernick hasn’t quite progressed in expected manner since, his fast-ball is still an incredible skill.

6. Roger Federer backhand (Tennis)
A thing of beauty
Roger Federer is the king of grace and his one-handed backhand is possibly the most beautiful sight in all sport. It is a magical stroke that produces under pressure in both offensive and defensive situations.

Despite using one hand, Federer’s backhand is authoritative and efficient. That is because of the Swiss Master’s immaculate mechanics; the stroke flows seamlessly from one part to the next.

Federer’s preparation is significant, preparing for the stroke with a unitary body turn in which the body turns and coils as a unit. This loads up power into his core muscles which is essential in generating power. By the time Federer reaches the contact point his arm usually is straightened in front of his body and the follow through almost always finishes up high.

Sometimes Federer uses some element of a brushing motion to impart additional topspin other times Federer will drive his backhand and flatten out the shot.

Because of this adaptability on the stroke, Federer has the ability to dictate play from various areas of the court. He can also use his backhand from deep behind the baseline or on the rise, oftentimes making the unbelievable seem mundane.

Federer’s backhand is, simply, a glorious shot.

With tennis evolving and greater emphasis on power, the two-handed backhand is now the standard.

It means we may never see anything like Federer’s classical backhand again.

Just as its master, the Federer backhand will go down as one of the most beautiful gifts ever to sports.

7. Lionel Messi chip (Football)
Messi chip time... it's late for someone
Lionel Messi can chip a football into the net from any angle and any situation. It is an incredible skill, just one of the many extraordinary talents the Little Flea possesses.

Certainly, the challenge of lobbing a ball over a highly trained goalkeeper, while on the run, for example, is difficult to explain. The science behind it is quite unimaginable; it sometimes seems Messi is simply flicking the ball with his toes even though this would require legs the strength of Hercules.

Then again, this is Messi; anything is possible.

He does the insane for fun.

8. Victor Matfield lineout (Rugby)
Victor Machine
Victor Matfield winning a lineout in a tight rugby game is about as close to a sure thing as you can get in sports. Matfield is the best lineout practitioner in rugby history; it is arguable he has ever lost his own lineout legally.

At 37 and coming off a three-year retirement, he is still going strong solely on the strength of his unmatched lineout ability.

Matfield initially retired in 2011 as a World Cup, Lions series and two-time Tri-Nations winner. With his club, the Bulls, he had won three Currie Cups and three Super Rugby titles making him South Africa’s most successful player ever.

However, last year, Matfield was coaxed out of retirement and then proceeded to make a seamless return to the game. He had the second most lineout wins in Super Rugby in 2014 and made the Bulls the best lineout team in the competition.

Most lineout wins – 2014 Super Rugby season
Stephan Lewies
Victor Matfield
Ben Mowen
Rob Simmons
Michael Rhodes
Jake Schatz

Matfield then returned to his role as Springbok inspiration and, as things stand, will be a vital cog for South Africa in what would be his fourth Rugby World Cup, later this year.

“I’ve always prided myself on my ability to read the lineout,” Matfield was quoted as saying before his 2011 retirement. “It’s like it’s a type of Matrix and somehow I’m able to see the answer through all the complexities and make the right decision often.”

Yes, when it comes to lineouts, Matfield is The One.

9. Tim Duncan bank shot (Basketball)
The Unstoppable Timmy
Tim Duncan is one of the most refined basketball players in history and, to many, the greatest power forward to ever. He is Mr Fundamental, the owner of five NBA titles spanning 15 years, three Finals MVP crowns and 10 All-NBA first team selections.

His entire game is a living, breathing coaching manual but of all his polished moves, his signature is his bank shot. It is almost impossible to defend.

That is because Duncan’s bank shot probably has the quickest release in the game as it doesn’t require arc or strength. It is also flexible because Duncan hasn’t committed himself to anything until the last second.  When he is able to read his defender is going for the bank, Duncan can always put the basketball back down, re-establish a triple threat stance – and proceed to the next phase of Timmy work, whatever it may be.

His bank shot is typical Duncan – unspectacular, but terrifyingly efficient. It is Mr Fundamental's fundamental move.

10. Aaron Rodgers deep ball (Gridiron/American Football)
Time to go deeep!
Aaron Rodgers has re-written many a rule about the quarterback position in his seven years in the NFL.

He is the ultimate quarterback, a perfect combination of head, arm and legs.

One of his lethal weaponry is his accurate deep ball and Rodgers ranks first in NFL history for most career touchdown passes of 70 or more yards with 16. It is a record he established in November with a 73-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson – surpassing Peyton Manning and Brett Favre who have 15 each.

According to John Parolin, since 2011, Rodgers has thrown 211 passes of 20 yards or more. Nearly half of those have been completed, and of those, nearly 35 percent have gone for touchdowns. Furthermore, Rodgers has thrown 7.2 deep-ball touchdowns for every interception, a rate twice that of the next quarterback on the list, Tony Romo.

All the while, Rodgers makes it look easy, perhaps another wonder of sport.