I was watching the Cal-Washington State game tonight, enjoying a much-needed respite from the stress of the present conjuncture, when I realized that the Bears' fortunes can be measured rather precisely by the number of assists they register on the stat sheet. I suppose that's usually true in basketball. In Cal's case, though, the difference between their total in good games and bad seems especially pronounced. Contrary to what a novice might think, assists aren't simply the result of "unselfish" play, as television announcers repeatedly suggest. Rather, they are the product of a teamwork that requires both knowing when to pass up a low-percentage shot and having the decisiveness to take a high-percentage one, should the opportunity arise. In other words, too much unselfishness is actually counterproductive. The player who takes advantage of opportunities without pressing too hard to create them is the sort who plays the best team basketball. And that is the player who has the capacity to recognize the difference consistently and act on that recognition. Some of my readers are of the opinion that my entries about sports usually have an allegorical dimension. Most of the time, I smile at the absurdity of that notion. This time, though, I am forced to admit that their suspicions are right.