FreeDarko Upon the Healing Chair

In a far-off country, there is a saying: peer into a man’s vomit, and you will know the life he lives. Call it hubris, call it charity, but some of us decided it was about time we turn our madrigal powers onto ourselves. In the process, we’d hoped to hand our audience that proverbial grain of salt, such that there would never ever again be the slightest misunderstanding over what we said, why we said it, and ultimately, when we said it. By telling the world of our FreeDarko colleagues, this site would enter a new age of prowess and honesty.

But then it dawned on us: what does one really know of his fellow man, especially when they may or may not have ever met in person and have communicated almost exclusively in terms of the National Basketball Association? The only logical answer was to each select the five players we most relate to, and then submit this list to the three other participants for their expert assessment.

NOTE: Only Dr. Lawyer IndianChief and ForEvers Burns have any actual training in the psychological arts. The Recluse and myself just happen to hang around here more than anyone else.

NOTE: These readings were based purely on the lists of players, not whatever details we might know about the individual in question. I know that anyone familiar with me will find this impossible to believe, but strangers and friends alike came to the same conclusions.

NOTE; Obviously, this experiment was perfectly devised, flawlessly executed, and should be employed in a variety of institutional settings.

Bethlehem Shoals: Kobe Bryant, Gilbert Arenas, Chris Webber, Eddie Griffin, J.R. Smith

Brown Recluse, Esq.: Incredibly bright, but deeply troubled, this subject never fails to both amaze and disturb me and my staff. Although possessed of prodigious talent, Mr. Shoals has thus far been profoundly unable to get his life fully on track. A classic loner, he is incapable of trusting other people and often feels that he must do everything himself. Such a burden would weigh heavy on any man, and it is therefore unsurprising that the subject often finds himself fighting through periods of depression and anxiety. However, I am optimistic that once placed in the right environment, he will thrive emotionally and professionally.

Dr. Lawyer IndianChief: The patient obsesses with the past, simultaneously trying to both evade it and embrace it. He reports a frequently reoccurring dream of purchasing suits and other fine clothing with a father figure, possibly representing social goals of appearing more dignified to others and ultimately to be loved. Prior criminal tendencies cloud the patient’s attempts at achieving these goals, and a longstanding inferiority complex looms largely over the patient’s current pscyhe. The patient’s difficulties in relationships with women also contribute to his emotional insecurities and daily existential anxieties over his place and purpose within the world.

ForEvers Burns: Clearly, Shoals considers himself outside of the world of mainstream acceptance. Like all of the players with whom he identifies, he shelters himself in a coccoon spun with threads torn from the tattered fabric of his consciousness. His players isolate themselves from society and see the world at large as their enemies. Kobe convinces himself that everyone wants nothing more than to witness his specatcular downfall; fatalism has completely devoured Webber as he accepts that the very forces that hold the universe together conspire daily to keep him from success; Arenas retreats to dozens of neurotic habits and ticks (showering in his jersey? forcing his dogs to run on treadmills?); Griffin self-medicated with alcohol. I don't know J. R. Smith at all, but judging from his peers on this list, tragedy lurks around the corner. Don’t worry Shoals, if America’s Funniest Home Videos can become a national treasure, then surely the world can open its arms to you.

Brown Recluse, Esq.: Pau Gasol, Tracy McGrady, Robert Horry, Andre Iguodala, Antawn Jamison

BS: Patient’s ego appears to be in a sort of low-level turmoil: an unassuming professional, he also seems driven by a muted spark of individuality. We can also observe this paradox in his name, which seeks to both legitimize mystery with the honorific “esquire” and hint at the secretive, possibly mystical, nature of his inner life. It remains to be seen whether this manifests itself as a healthy measure of smugness or fear of underachievement. My main concern is that, thrown into indecision by these competing identities, he may one day find himself unable to take on greater responsibility or a heightened social role without sacrificing some vital part of his self-image.

DLIC: Ah yes, this reminds me of a case study of 1986. Mr. Whittaker. Mr. Whittaker suffered from a rare condition called hyperlacksadosia, in which he became extremely stagnant and engaged in bored, monotonous behavior, but would spontaneously and unknowingly become aggressive and active. The patient desires a companion of equal or, if possible greater status. He does not seek attention, and highly values privacy. Prone to staring at mirrors for hours, under the illusion that he has some facial protrusion or peculiarity, such as ingrown facial hair, a lazy eye, or an extended lower lip.

FB: The Recluse must layer well to compensate for the ice water coursing through his veins. His utter lack of visible emotion indicates either a ruthless and calculating efficiency or the fragile psyche of a ticking time bomb. With T-Mac and the others, you see men who could calmly slit your throat and then drop 40 on Jumaine Jones without their pulse ever rising above 70. As a young boy in school, the Recluse no doubt excelled academically, and while the bullies might have been inclined to torment him, they kept their distance unsure of how a child with such empty and soulless eyes might react. It’s likely one day that the Recluse will eventually learn to feel “love”, “hate”, and “happiness” but it’s equally likely that someone will find the postman in his refrigerator.

Dr. Lawyer IndianChief: Andrei Kirilenko, Tayshaun Prince, Lamar Odom, Mike Sweetney, Antonio Davis

BR: While he initially appeared to be accomplished and well adjusted, further sessions revealed that the subject has a malformed sense of self-worth, often subjugating his own needs and wants to those of others. Despite statements to the contrary, he feels that his hard work and talents are underappreciated by those around him, causing him to feel anger and resentment. In the extreme, these emotions can lead to self-imposed isolation and sustained withdrawal from loved ones. Dr. IndianChief also has serious body image issues, which is to be expected considering his grotesquely long arms and large backside.

BS: In my thousands of years spent diagnosing the wayward and in-between, on occasion I have witnessed patients so preoccupied with their physical form that it dictates the very contours of their mind. Here, we have a yet more curious case: a man seeking to define his mental make-up according to the general concept of physical abnormality, verging on deformity. It is my expert opinion that this brave soul aspires to a kind of de facto justification for some wild, possibly deviant, actions and tendencies, and is under the impression that the first principle of the flesh could provide him with a existential license unsupported by reason or morality.

FB: Tayshaun Prince looks like a hypoglycemic twelve-year old; Antonio Davis’s ears are large enough to interfere with radio signals; Mike Sweetney appears to have the same illness that afflicted Robin Williams’s character in Jack; Kirielenko’s head could easily be mistaken for those creepy potatoes wrapped in stockings that grow grass that looks like hair. To be blunt, the good doctor does not find himself very physically attractive. Of course, Dr. L-I-C doesn’t want anyone to know about his preoccupation with his appearance, hence the inclusion of Odom on the list to obscure his true feelings about himself.

ForEvers Burns: Gilbert Arenas, Juan Dixon, Cuttino Mobley, Anderson Varejao, Brent Barry

BR: This subject exhibits some of the classic signs of a psychopath: a constant need for excitement, impulsive decision-making, and a lack of responsibility. Also fitting the profile is the manifest intelligence and superficial charm masking a striking lack of compassion for his fellow man. While he can be magnanimous, he is not what I would consider to be generous. Mr. Burns also demonstrates a youthful zeal that is inconsistent with his age and profession. The subject does not pose a risk of violent behavior, but I have trouble envisioning him ever making the sort of deep connections with other people that characterize a truly mentally healthy individual.

BS: Some of my less distinguished colleagues in this field often conflate immaturity and recklessness, such that growing up would as a matter of course resolve one’s more chaotic impulses. This patient stands in sharp opposition to this folly-filled shibboleth, as he complements adult usefulness and utility with characteristics that, in the eyes of a lesser analyst, might be mistaken for rashness or frivolity. Here, whether sublimating these tendencies into the accomplishment of the task at hand (be it social, cognitive, or conceptual) or retaining them as a kind of motivational “flair,” there can be no question that this individual thrives on imperfection and energy.

DLIC: Patient suffers from a full-fledged identity crisis. Struggles with his own personal racial ambiguity, often engages in racial code-switching, displaying behavior associated with various cultural stereotypes. Due to this tendency, as well as an unfortunate trend of being turned away by various social collectives, the patient has difficulty staying in one place and is constantly navigating between new and different social circles. Can revert to very immature behavior at times. Highly responsive to juvenile insults; said insults can actually be used as a motivational tool for the patient.


At 12/21/2005 2:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can anyone relate to Eddie Griffin, a guy who punched his girlfriend in the face and tried to shoot her?

At 12/21/2005 2:47 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

she wasn't his girlfriend, she was some gold digger. and it's not like any of the bullets actually hit her!

At 12/21/2005 3:41 PM, Blogger emynd said...

"How can anyone relate to Eddie Griffin, a guy who punched his girlfriend in the face and tried to shoot her?"

Who CAN'T relate to wanting to punch and shoot your girlfriend?!


At 12/21/2005 5:48 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

"it's hard to win three championships with a player if you think he's uncoachable"

At 12/21/2005 6:16 PM, Anonymous aug said...

Fun post. I agree with eddie. I used to call a friend's little brother who played ball with us eddie griffen. Same game, and similar personality from what i gather from the little i know of him.

At 12/21/2005 10:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

too much time on your hands fellas. thanks, though.

At 12/22/2005 7:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm getting so sick of your introspective, self-glorifying shit. This was the best you could produce after Kobe went off for 62 in 3 quarters? Talk to me about him being a ballhog, talk to me about him being hellbent on giving us unintentional comedy...anything but this boring crap. FreeDarko teeter-eth, my friends, make no mistake.

At 12/22/2005 9:22 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

if you need me to tell you that kobe is a ballhog, or that there his coming out after three challenged the critics to stick to their criticisms, we're both wasting our time. and i've written so much shit on kobe in the past, i'm kind of spent in that dept..

look, it's not my "job" to do anything other than chronicle my relationship with the nba. i never purport to be anything other than self-glorifying and introspective, and i don't know at what point in time you started expecting anything but that. i'm serious, if you think we've fallen off, tell it to me constructively. HELP ME!

At 12/22/2005 9:34 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

and really, if you're going to pop off, at least give us a name. otherwise, you might as well be my estranged grandmother out to get me. i may not agree with what aug says, but at least i know who's saying it and why—which, incidentally, was kind of the point of this whole fucking post.

At 12/22/2005 12:23 PM, Anonymous faux_rillz said...

"Arenas retreats to dozens of neurotic habits and ticks (showering in his jersey? forcing his dogs to run on treadmills?)"

Arenas forcing his pitbulls to run on treadmills is not quite the act of whimsy that Sports Illustrated tried to present it as--that's a pretty common way of building pits' stamina for dogfighting and hints at a hitherto unexplored side of Arenas.

At 12/22/2005 2:27 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

not that i'm wholly averse to arenas having a dark side, but isn't fitness something that a pitbull owner might want in his dogs even if they're not being doomed to danger?

At 12/22/2005 3:25 PM, Anonymous faux_rillz said...

"not that i'm wholly averse to arenas having a dark side, but isn't fitness something that a pitbull owner might want in his dogs even if they're not being doomed to danger?"

A stretch--give dogs enough space, which Arenas can surely afford to do, and they will keep themselves fit.

No, this bespeaks a dark side.

At 12/22/2005 3:44 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

this all raises the absolutely breathtaking possibility that dog fighting in the association is like weed is. . .i.e. lots of cats come up around it and bring it with them into their new lives, it's really everywhere even though the public stays quiet about it and pretends it's nowhere in the league.

and, so we're clear on this: i mean this, and there's a chance it's undue stereotyping.

At 8/22/2007 5:42 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

this post and its comments have an odd resonance now, more than a year and a half later. we saw only the very tip of the iceberg when it came to both eddie griffin and professional athletes' involvement in dogfighting.


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