Stars, Rock- & All-

So, every full four-seasonal rotation, the two most depressing days of my year fall dangerously close to each other: Valentine’s Day and the release of The Village Voice’s annual Pazz & Jop poll. And as the release of this poll coincides with the announcement of the NBA all-star squads, it is all too tempting to draw comparisons (Kanye West=Ray Allen—entertaining golden boy, but not even close to Bird/Biggie or Jordan/Jay-Z status, Brian Wilson=Shaq—old guy with a surprising amount of gas left in the tank, leader of a former dynasty, Arcade Fire=Steve Nash—Nash and the lead singer of Arcade Fire (presumably) share the same haircut, Franz Ferdinand=Dirk—pretty cool European guys, Green Day=Grant Hill—mediocre now, but they are inextricably linked with all our teenage angsty days)

I’ll stop there, and leave the comments space for us to draw further comparisons. As BSDs (Bill Simmons Disciples) everywhere are coming to learn, it is quite easy to map NBA players on to Pop Culture Icons X, Y, and Z. And so I will spend the rest of this post bitching about the all-star selections.

First, selections that I LOVE: Gilbert Arenas, Rashard Lewis, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Shawn Marion. Arenas just has that “Why Not US” attitude that every Eastern Conference player (save a few Detroit/Indiana/Jersey-ites) has been lacking for the past few years. Right now, he is a better leader than supposed “franchise guys” that have been in the league five years longer than him. Lewis and Marion were in danger of getting snubbed just on the basis of team all-star quotas, but both of them have been playing out of their minds all season. And love it or hate it, Z-Ill is the third best C in the league, and the only guy who actually makes Lebron’s game better.

Now, the selections I HATE: Ben Wallace, Ginobili, Antawn Jamison. First off, I love what Jamison is doing for his team, but there is no better sign that the league has fallen off than seeing this guy as a coach’s selection. Seriously. Why don’t we just put Tim Thomas, Bobby Simmons, Wally Szcerbiak, and every other “pretty good scorer” on the squads as well. Ben Wallace: Easily one of my favorite players in the “L,” but it just is not his year. Plus, Rip and/or Chauncey if anyone should be repping the Pistons. And Ginobili…This is the sham of all shams. It is as if the voice of Bill Walton “The MIND of Tim Duncan, the HANDS of Manu Ginobili, the AWARENESS of Beno Udrih, the POISE of Tony Parker, the STAMINA of Tony Massenburg” was tape recorded and subliminally instilled within the heads of Western Conference coaches while they were sleeping. Ginobili’s name has been so omnipresent in the media this season it is as if the coaches were just expected to select him no matter what. Ever since he won the gold, he has been talked about as an all-star. All of this is somehow tied into the Howard Dean scream, in which the sheer overexposure of the issue forced us to make a decision based on this salient piece of information alone. The guy will be a career 15ppg/1.8spg-energy player and that’s about all. He’s the ‘00s version of Michael Cooper/Toni Kukoc/Dennis Johnson/insert great role player here…but he’s no all-star.

And some other thoughts:

SNUB O’ THE YEAR: Chris Webber. This guy’s performance so far has been equivalent to Jim Abbott winning 20 games in a season.

UNDERRATED STORY LINE O’ THE YEAR: Shaq vs. Kobe II. This is an even bigger stage than Round 1. I’m thinking that someone could get very seriously publicly embarrassed.

NATION O’ THE YEAR: China. Seriously, do any people have more team loyalty than these folks? Not only did they blast Yao Ming’s vote total out of the water, but this year they have also led us to a very interesting discovery. Exhibit A: Tracy McGrady has been voted on as an all-star starter when he has been clearly outplayed by Ray-Ray and Steve Nash. Exhibit B: Steve Francis failed to make the all-star team for the first time in three years (after starting the previous year for a superior conference!). I can only account for these findings by assuming that Yao’s homeland brethren have supported his teammates by extension, and that is just an incredible gesture of unity. Can Scott Padgett’s all-star days be far behind?


At 2/09/2005 1:16 PM, Blogger El Huracan Andreo said...

Modest Mouse - Arenas
Danger Mouse - Dwyane Wade

At 2/09/2005 1:53 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i plan to watch unc/duke tonight, the first college game i've gone out of my way to watch in several years. it's to justify the carolina blue hoodie i've been rocking for the past four months--otherwise it risks looking effeminate. claiming unc is the only obvious solution.

thus i come to you to sing the antawn jamison. he's the secret to that team. his weirdo tweener game is perfectly suited to a fastbreaking, guard-based team like the wizards. . . doesn't slow them down, has some fluidity offensively, but also provides a presence near the post (if not in it). of course, amare would be ideal for a guard-based running team, or sammy d., but, much like jamison's game, in a perfect, pragmatic way he makes as much sense as anyone on that so so successful team.

manu--man on earth. everyone knows that, were he not playing in pops's ultra-conservative system, he'd be the second coming of. . .has there ever been a strong, explosive, wildly creative souther american two guard before? he's like a more reckless arenas, if that's possible, but doesn't get the heat for making weird decisions because he's white and doesn't run the offense.

big z--ech. the center is a dead position. dirk is a center now. amare, too. people like webber and sheed have been playing some center for the last few years. the all-star game is no place for obligatory low-post madness--it's the polar opposite of the playoffs. last night his own coach could only support his selection by saying "he's one of the top five centers in the league, and we're winning."

i agree with you that big ben hasn't earned it this year. ever since brown and sheed rolled into town, he just hasn't been the same. this is a guy who used to be able to do everything on defense, manning up and denying the lane with equal aplomb. now he's a exceptional defender in the post, but not the magical, freelancing mastermind he used to be. i guess it's good that he doesn't have to do everything anymore, but watching him rule the world was it's own peculiar kind of 55 point offensive explosion in the negative.

At 2/09/2005 4:59 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

jamison has not done much the past few weeks with arenas taking his game to the fucking stars, but he was killing it the first 1/3 of the season. he's way better than wally or tim thomas, come on. like nathaniel said, he's a big part of the wiz success. on a side note, i hate to see larry hughes get snubbed when he was putting up such reesicculous stats for a minute.

but, i'm really happy that big z made it. dude is the third best center in the league, after shaq and brad miller, and ahead of yao. it's pretty crazy how far the kings have fallen in the eyes of the league. none of their four stars (yes, brad miller is a star) made it? c-webb should be there instead of either manu or rashard lewis, both of whom i like, but are not quite all-star caliber. bibby is nice, but can't fuck with nash, allen, kobe, and t-mac. and franchise should have ben wallace's spot. okay, i'm done.

At 2/09/2005 6:15 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

that pazz and jop poll is fucking retarded. or maybe i'm just that awesome. but if you put all those singles in an i-pod and handed it to me, i would erase it and mail it to gilbert arenas, who is apparently too cheap to buy one for himself

At 2/10/2005 9:16 AM, Blogger Ken said...

Real Life Zydrunas story:

I live in Cleveland, and somehow Z has become good friends with my neighbor, he's over there all the time. Anyway, for my sisters birthday we got a pinata and were doing the pinata thing in my front yard. While doing this a white Excursion limo pulled into my neighbors driveway, and a seven foot plus Lithuanian in short-shorts and a beat t-shirt got out. He stayed in the yard and watched us hit the pinata. Once the pinata broke he gave a head nod to us and moved on.

At 2/10/2005 10:09 AM, Blogger Nels said...

I think the fact that China is a Communist country has to have something to do with the support they throw at Yao's teammates.

On a side note, anyone who can put up 13 points in 35 seconds deserves to be an All-Star whether they have teammates from China or not.

At 2/10/2005 7:08 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i can't believe i didn't have anything to say about this before. how does z become friends with someone? can he talk? what does he do in his spare time? does he hit the clubs?

At 2/11/2005 9:16 AM, Blogger Ken said...

My neighbors either are, or are tight with Z's lawyer. I wish I knew them better. His voice his really bassy and heavily accented. He is a loud drunk, kicking it on my neighbors patio while I'm trying to sleep. He actually got a DUI on my street.

I can picture him in some cheesy club but I've never seen him dressed to impress. I kind of doubt he kicks it with McGuiness on the weekends.

At 2/11/2005 9:24 AM, Blogger Ken said...

Z's drinking soundtrack is the hits from License to Ill, Appettite for Destruction and Kid Rock.

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