Player Spotlight: Haralabos “Bob” Gouzinis


I recently asked the I Bleed Basketball FaceBook page what topics people most wanted covered on this site. Two of the great responses I received included “player breakdowns” and “unsung heroes” which inspired me to start a Player Spotlight section which will highlights some of the great characteristics and qualities of players I have come across– some accomplished, some unsung– so that we can all hope to learn from them and embody some of their special attributes.

Now most of us have heard of Kobe Bryant’s relentless work ethic or how many jump shots Ray Allen puts up on a daily basis, so why not start with a player that’s maybe not quite as famous (until now) but still displays a magnificent quality that we can all try and incorporate into our games.

Who is this player you ask? That’s right, it’s Haralabos “Bob” Gouzinis.

Bob representing Jersey against the Caymen Islands in the 2009 Island Games held in Åland.

Bob representing Jersey against the Caymen Islands in the 2009 Island Games held in Åland.

I have played with and been coached by Bob on many occasions. Something we’ve had in common over the years is that we’re usually the last people off the court and this has given me a number of opportunities to pick his brain.

Some of the interesting things I’ve managed to learn are that he witnessed one of Michael Jordan’s first games as a UNC Tar Heel against the Greek gational team in a pre-season game, Magic Johnson was his childhood hero and he always wanted to play the point guard position just like him, he used to have a poster of the Temple University great– Mark Macon– on his bedroom wall with a matching Temple backpack; who in fact turned out to be the head coach during my spell as the team manager at Binghamton University and the crazy notion that after years of knowing him, his real name wasn’t Bob! But the thing that stuck with me the most is something he said to me after a game of 1-on-1 on a late summer evening a few months ago.

Despite being considerably bigger and stronger than me with a whole host of accomplished post moves to match, he played me as a guard even though I was faster and more agile. He was doing crossovers, in and outs and a whole host of fade-aways. I was confused. Why was he playing me this way?

After winning the series of 3… just… and after we both caught our breath, I asked him about what things I could work on with regards to my game. We discussed a few specifics with regards to ball handling and shooting, then he said something that demonstrated why he was such a great player. Why he had played me in such a way.

“Every time I step on the court, I try and learn something new. I focus on a part of my game and I improve it. If I had played you like a post-player, I wouldn’t have improved my game much!”

It is an uncommon way of thinking and understandably. We are taught to go to our strengths so that we have the best chance of winning the game. It is easy to get carried away with this mentality– especially to someone like me is who über competitive– and neglect our weaknesses. Bob’s ability to place a greater emphasis on improving than winning means he is able to develop a truly well rounded game so that he has more tools in his armory when it counts.

I promised Bob that next time we play, I’ll be posting him up!

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