I hate Liars worse than Thieves...
There is the Truth and then there is that, which portends truthfulness. Paul Pierce doesn’t even enter this discussion, don’t even try it folks. He’s a marvelous basketball player, but he’s a poseur when it comes to the title. Truth is the most nebulous of abstractions. Underlying its fundamental universality is an essential bedrock of Faith. Our faith in the possibility of Truth allows us to not only define and categorize what we’ve perceived, but more importantly it grants us the opportunity to “know” the unapparent, the unperceivable.
The most fascinating aspect of Truth is not its basis in faith, but its ability to produce faith. Viewed as a process or system, Truth is a pretty inefficient. I mean, you insert faith that there is Truth to be had in one end, run it through the ol’ Rube Goldberg and out the other end comes the faith that there is more Truth to be had. The whole endeavor sound pretty silly, doesn’t it? Too bad it’s essential to our sentience. Sentience is built not only on our awareness of self, but more so on self contextualized.
Truth is the tool for contextualization.
In the 1994-95 college basketball seasons, Shawn Respert was my Truth, err my basketball Truth (I’m sorry, my powers of hyperbole are limited relative to my FreeDarko brethren). His game was mine. Not mine in that we shared playable attributes, it was mine in that I got it. I felt that I fully grasped his game in a way that I hadn’t experienced with any other player up to that point. Every nuance of his play was apparent to me, almost to the point of being obvious. His tempered and steady movement off of picks, his competent footwork, his sure and thoughtful help defense (in my estimation, the most underrated of basketball skills), his impeccable temporal and situational timing, and oh G-D his J; as consistent and remarkably ranged as there has ever been or will be, were mine to behold, to value, to trust, to rhapsodize about, all mine. If his game had a vagina, I would have been content to kiss it for hours on end, asking nothing more of it than for its continued existence.
With all of that in mind, I wasn’t blindly devoted. I was never a zealot. I was as intimately aware of his “shortcomings” as his strengths. What I previously referred to as “tempered and steady movement…” and “competent footwork” is admittedly euphemistic for his sneakers dipped in molasses feet and a general lack of agility. I emphasized his help defense because although he exhibited solid defensive method and a talent for playing passing lanes, he could be beaten pretty badly one-on-one by fleet footed 1s and 2s off of the perimeter. Through shiftiness he could get into the paint but he was pretty ineffective in traffic. I knew that he had injured his knee pretty badly in his senior year in high school and learned later that he was a “soothfeeler” of the currently en vogue NBA ailment, heart condition, which cased him to red shirt his freshman year at Michigan St. I attributed his unspectacular athleticism to these unfortunate conditions. Be all of that as it may, I accepted these “flaws” as mine as well.
Oh yeah, the other knock on him was that he was short, that attribute was literally mine. I was about 14 or 15 and something like 5’2” at the time, don’t worry about me folks, I had a mighty growth spurt at 17 so now I’m a comfortable 5’6.25” with a mean tussle game, early. Throughout his collegiate career Respert was listed at 6’3”. Please forgive a small digression, during his professional career; Charles Barkley was listed between 6’6” and 6’8”. I have a buddy named Franco House (great name) who measures 6’4.8” barefooted. I’ve verified this myself, so don't question it. At an autograph signing session in ’92, Franco straight-up bear hugged Barkley. Upon releasing him, Franco had to look down to look him in the eye. Charles Barkley is barely 6’4”. Shawn Respert is barely 6’1”. 6’1” is nothing to sneeze at but that was the BAI (Before Allen Iverson) era.* The League’s view was, “2 guards had to be 6’4”+, that’s it, shut your pie hole, we’ll here no more of it.”
I didn’t care about any of the guff Respert got. I had Truth on my side. Truth can not be reasonably denied.
When draft time came around I heard all of the naysayers naysaying, I simply snorted and guffawed at their assertations of eminent doom for the Truth in the way only a teenager could. I felt like commentators and friends alike fixated on what they perceived as his flaws, while ignoring his genius. It was like saying that Stephen Hawking is a failure because he can’t beat you in a fist fight, just sheer lunacy. I informed all that would listen that my man Shawn was a b-ball belletrist and if they didn’t agree obviously they weren’t refined enough to appreciate his game.
After posting a 24-58 record on the backs of Dana Barros and Clarence Weatherspoon, the Sixers landed the 3rd pick in the draft. Everybody seeming geeked on Joe Smith after Maryland’s title run, there was chitter-chatter about the two UNC bols (Stackhouse & Rasheed (Black Dutchman) Wallace), some high school kid named Garnett was coming out (who did he think he was, Shawn Kemp/ Fo-Fo-Fo Malone), what nerve. My boy Doug was talking all loud about the icons Ed O’Bannon and Cory Alexander. I wasn’t hearing any of it. The Truth is simply that, the Truth. I knew, but few others seemed aware, the answer to the Sixers woes was on his way.
Respert was projected to be a late lottery pick, "the fools", I thought. This situation was a gimme. ’95 was the first draft for the Grizz and Raptors, they were drafting 7th & 8th respectively. All the Sixers had to do was trade the third pick down to one of the expansion squads for their 1st round pick in ’95 and 1st round pick in ’97 or ’98 when they would have a chance to get the #1 overall pick. The expansion squads in the League can’t be competent for at least 5+ years, it’s a rule. There’s not going to be any craziness like the Carolina Panthers going to the Superbowl in their second season in the NBA. It just can’t happen. Draft Respert at 6 or 7 and lock up the 2 guard position for the next 10 years. Simple. It was like tapioca, no frills, but still the shit.
The fucking idiot Sixers draft Stackhouse at #3!
I mean, Stackhouse had a good season and all. He averaged 19 and change ppg, lead the league in turnovers, whatever. In the meantime Shawn who got drafted by
…socks of Vin Baker on the road because Vin’s too wasted to do it himself.
It didn’t make any sense, how can the Truth not be the Truth. I knew Mike Dunleavy was trying to convert Respert into a PG (I think I’ve made my love for Shawn pretty clear to this point. Shawn simply was not a point), so Shawn was stuck behind “Shoeless” Sherman Douglas and backup PG Lee Mayberry getting 13 mpg. I figured that Dunleavy would have to come around at some point. He drafted the guy. He had to see him practice. He had to find some way to work in the most prodigious shooter of the coming millennium. How is the Truth lost on him? The off-season after Shawn rookie year seemed like the Bucks might have finally been getting the right idea. They got rid of Lee Mayberry, which to me meant more tick for Shawn. The Truth would be revealed. All of the philistines would have no choice but bow down to the Truth and it’s avatar.
Season 2, Let’s get it!
14 games, 6mpg, 1.5ppg- TRADE to the hinterland of
Hey what’s up with this Iverson kid? He seems awfully honest, maybe not the Truth, but honest enough. Hey, in the long run that Marbury dude from
The Truth slowly faded from my consciousness. It’s funny how you can invest so much energy and time into something and only a few short years later you have to be reminded that your momentary passion ever existed. If not for jabs here and there from friend who knew me when, I probably would have completely forgotten about my Respert acolyte days. I really didn’t care why the (t)ruth proved to be so untrue. I’m busy these days. I don’t have time to ponder the mysteries of the universe anymore. I have too much work and intoxication to get done. I assumed everybody else was right and I was wrong. His game simply did not translate to the NBA and over 4 years in the league that fact was emphatically proven night in/ night out.
Then, early this summer I happen upon an article called “Respert’s secret battle”. What? What?
The dude had FUCKING CANCER?!? The Truth had cancer at 23 years old. The Truth was recovering from chemotherapy and logging 10 mpg in the NB fuckin’A.
He didn’t fail because his game didn’t translate, he failed because Deus Roundballus decided many moons ago to fuck him. They watched as he developed his remarkable talents and smiled upon him until they realized that his truthfulness was so pure and striking that his existence challenged their sovereign tyranny. So to compromise this Promethean character before he was fully formed they first stunted his growth at age 17, then they Gilloolyed him, then they tried to steal his heart. After failed attempts to sodomize his mother and assassinate his dog, they were like, “fuck it, let’s give the dude cancer at age 23 even though he’s in peak physical condition, apparently we’re going to have to start playing dirty.” So what does the Truth do, he goes and gets chemo, flies to LA the next day to play summer league ball, eats crackers (which was all he could hold down) and is second only to FBP Ray Allen in scoring on the team. Ultimately he did succumb to the underhanded deeds of the of the B-ball fates, there was no otherway for it to play out. Their power is absolute. The brave die young.
Do not mourn the loss of the Truth, though. He certainly doesn’t
I figured that what I did at
To be continued…..
*I’m shocked that the godfathers of FreeDarkodom haven’t touched on MONAI yet. Too slow fellas, I’m the gingerbread man, I’ve already called it.