Built by the builders
I barely remembered to flip over to Kenny Smith's charity game, since by 10PM I'd been lulled into a state of complete and total NFL zombie-dom. And after having spent half an hour worrying about Javon Walker's knee and its impact on my fantasy team, it was hard to get back into the high-minded "the world really matters, the NBA really matters, a new day is dawning" state of mind that I'd been in for the past week and a half. Despite this, it was beyond heartening to see LeBron, KG, Amare, Kobe, and just about everyone else I give a fuck about in the Assocation, make good on everything I've been predicting since that first wave of player donations. As individuals, professional basketball players may not be political. But at this point in history, the game sure as hell is; to their credit, every last one of them seemed to realize this and rise to the occasion. When you hear a kid like Amare explain how he felt compelled to do something for "his brothers and sisters," or Kenny talk about the South as "where we all come from," it was the NBA formally accepting its symbolic importance and real-life responsibility to African-American life.
A few more thoughts:
-Kanye's presence was just perfect. Like NBA stars stepping up, he's spoken out because he has to.
-Insidehoops reports that Gilbert Arenas "participated in a halftime tumbling exhibiton," Stevie Franchise "mixed it up with rope jumpers," and Stackhouse delivered the national anthem. A league of style, even in its most serious hour. And that's why find it (and Kanye) so convincing—this isn't your typical Hollywood, straight-faced and blustering ignorance, activism.
-Some of you might wonder why I ever nominated Kobe for FBP, but I think that last night proved that I know what I'm doing. At first I couldn't stop laughing when Sager walked a kid over to the bench to hang out with Kobe; I'm sure the Kobe haters will deride it as more image-obsessed preening on his part. But when the game wrapped up and Kobe was still with him, you couldn't help but be a little moved.
-While Kenny waxed rhapsodic about the South as ancestral home, Barkley was blunt as ever, telling viewers to "get your education. . .you cannot be at the mercy of the government." TNT: too real.
-AI came through at the last minute, as did Melo. But as has already been brought up on here, where were Duncan and Shaq? Granted, they would have ruined the game, and I know Shaq is doing his own thing. Still, given the significance of the night, you'd think they'd at least want to pledge their support to the new solidarity.
-I'm continually floored by just how much so many players are doing. It almost seems like the NBA might play a decisive role in the relief effort, which just confirms for me that this is the greatest sport on the planet.
-On a lighter note, is there a new rule that every commercial now has to contain the Pats? It's getting ridiculous, especially for a team that's somewhat lacking in the charisma department. But I do want to say, once and forever, that the spot where they draft the Pepsi machine is the funniest thing ever placed on the airwaves. No matter how sick THC is of hearing my talk about it.
Now back to my Walker woes. . .