I am a river, I am at ease

What somehow didn't come out of yesterday's strident rant is that I just don't find the Spurs or Pistons all that interesting or compelling. They could put up 150 points and still not hold my interest. The numbers may be there in this postseason, but the inspiration still is not there.

(I know that I am a veritable font of typos, but the Old Country flashback there was intentional.)

(Not to be confused with a Big Country flashback.)

Other thoughts:

-The Spurs are almost flawless. Except for one major error in judgment last night, Duncan always finds the path of least resistance and makes it happen. Really, Tony Parker could not exist as is on any less-disciplined team.

-If you want to start making a list of my favorite players, try looking first at guys whose names sound majestic when intoned by Kevin Harlan. "Stoudemire with the block!" "Tracy McGrady from downtown!" One of the small joys of NBA-watching that I'm only now catching on to. [editor's note: originally this read "when intoned by Jim Gray," which is a funny thought in itself but clearly just the wrong TNT name in my head]

-Duncan may be able to outwit Amare for now, but I honestly believe we're looking at the best power forward ever in embryonic form. If he got a little more consistent on defense and learned to grab a board or two on that end of the floor, he might overnight become the hero of Duncan-haters everywhere—can you imagine Timmy not making an all-NBA first team even once before he retires!?!??!!

-At one point last night, I was so dispirited and broken that I actually enjoyed something Neal Pollack wrote. Granted, it was on the Suns, and was mostly notable for a few choice post-games quotes and the pandering claim (it was on slate.com, no link because they don't need your traffic and frankly, the piece stinks) that the Suns don't just run, they do so with irony and humor. I have returned from that dark place, but that shows you how far I'd fallen by midnight yesterday.

-This draft may suck for teams forced to make selections, but for self-proclaimed pundits it's going to be a field day. I often think of the draft as the ultimate in NBA-geekery, since it's bigger, badder NFL brother certainly is. But there's something so surreal, elegant, and self-contained about that great day in July that I think it's appeal is far broader than the game itself. You've got all matters of politics, economics, and race front and center, international relations, the art-in-itself of scouting that increasingly has less and less to do with actual basketball playing, a cast of characters that would make a magical realist blush, and the goldrush-like insanity of it all. You could make an art house flick called "Draft!" and sell it to the ladies. I swear this!

-That is, after this year's #1 pick this is all true. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Marvin Williams as a player or as a person, and I expect him to be at least as good as Melo. Then you can get down to choosing between the floppy-haired Aussie giant, the goody two-shoes point guard with a dark side, and the token "next T-Mac."

(There are basically two modes of scouting: one where everyone in the draft is going to be a star, and the far more useful, if less titillating, approach in which everyone is probably going to be very good or just okay. The former compares everyone to Garnett, Kobe, T-Mac, and Shaq, the latter more manageable names like Abdur-Rahim, Andre Miller, Brent Barry, and Quentin Richardson. It's also pretty clear that superstars are far less likely to be "types" than borderline stars or outright role players, since "once-in-a-lifetime talent" is by definition singular. You don't want to go looking for a player who fits the template of Kobe or KG, because they'll inevitably come up short and blind you to their true usefulness)

-Brickowski, thank you for your comforting words yesterday. The Suns may have one foot out the door this year, but it looks more and more like they have the stench of prophecy hanging around them.

-On the off chance that Joey Johnson reads this blog, I'm sorry I ever even implicitly questioned your right to sit out. I forgot that you'd basically had your entire face reconstructed.

-I've pretty much stopped reading King Kaufman, but this from a few days ago is as cogent a spin as I've ever seen anyone put on the Big Redhead's surgery of broadcast.


At 5/25/2005 7:03 PM, Anonymous brickowski said...

it's been said here before, but there really is an order to the NBA playoffs. teams don't just come out of nowhere and suddenly win a title. as much as anything, the playoffs are about the journey. i think it would have been a disservice to the phoenix story if they were to win it in one year. without struggle there is no progress. jordan had to overcome the pistons and duncan had to overcome the lakers. the suns will have the off-season and all of next year to figure out a counter to the spurs.

i know he's only joe johnson, but i think his presence would have made a difference in this series. maybe not enough to win, because the suns downfall seems to be their inexperience, but if he's around to guard parker a lot of things change. nash looked completely gassed at the end last night after trying to chase tony around for 40 minutes. joey wouldn't have let tony get off like that, and nash would've conserved a ton of energy if he just had to hangout in the corner on bowen.

random thoughts:
-i feel sorry for marion. everyone in the media is shitting on him, but nobody mentions the ridiculous task he's been given. dude is in basketball hell: he's gotta try and guard duncan at one end while being guarded by bowen at the other. if that doesn't sap your will to play, nothing will.
-if amare has any hopes of taking duncan off that 1st team, he's got to improve on defense. a lot. he’s got length, strength, and hops–there’s no way that ginobili should be able to get to the rim whenever he wants.
-I know you don’t find the spurs compelling, no matter how hard I try to convince, but I think a robert horry 3 is one of the most awesome acts in all of sports. he’s such an assassin. that shot last night was worth so much more than three points. these phoenix kids grew up watching him throw in countless clutch shots. their legs had to buckle after seeing him hit another one in person. how could they possibly compete with a legacy?
-go miami.

At 5/25/2005 7:43 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

-so true. teams that come out of nowhere didn't have to go through nothing, which means they're usually found out as someone as some real competition comes along. or, if they had to face adversity along the way, maybe they wouldn't have been able to put together the upset that got them there. that's the argument against the pistons. and why the pats' first title was so insubstantial--sure, they slew the giants, but they got some serious breaks along the way.

-joey johnson may only be the fourth best player on the suns, but he would be option 1A on about half the teams in the league. containing parker wouldn't be such an issue if the suns could make up for those quick buckets on the other end. as is, they're having to fight way too much for way too many of their points.

-marion has always been the quinessential insider's guy. his fanball dominance notwithstanding, people who pay attention have known for a while now just how much he can do. and does on a regular basis. q is a flighty, young player who might be letting the pressure get to him; we all know that if marion's not getting his, there's got to be a damn good reason to it. something the spurs are doing very right, not a failure on marion's part.

-amare certainly has the will and the ethic to play d. he just needs to get smarter about it. he's not good at helping or making adjustments when match-ups switch. you can see him thinking it through out there, always too late.

-i heard rick fox say today that horry is a better clutch shooter than reggie because he's had more opportunities to take them when it REALLY mattered. that's horry in a nutshell. he's lucky to be on good teams and lucky to find himself taking three's in a lot of close situations. that's his legacy. reggie, on the other hand, has made way more important shots than you can count on your hands. all of them might not have come at the buzzer, or been the only shot he hit in the fourth. but you could almost argue that reggie hit three's that helped keep games from coming down to the last second. conversely, who's to say that he might not have had more chances to hit game-winners if his teams had been better? it's all luck, i tell you

-quoth THC "these playoffs are all about wade now"


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