Need for Closure
On the heels of perhaps The Association's best game of the season so far (Grizzlies-Pistons 2OT thrilla), I will echo Brickowski's "The NBA is bleak" sentiment, and pepper you all with a few half-baked ideas, screwball notions, and not-fully-formed sentences. Last year, the lig spoiled us, giving us neatly formed storylines, like pretty maids all in a row: Artest goes crazy, Fast Break is back, Nash vs. Shaq MVP debate, demise of the Lakers...whereas this year, my teeth chatter, sounding ever-more like the arthritic knees of Kevin McHale knocking together, as I wonder, "WAIT, IS IT 03-04 ALL OVER AGAIN?" I'll take what they give me, and I'll give you what they take...
NBA Racial Semiotics ALERT!
From the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
"After clanking shot after shot during the second quarter Thursday night at Target Center, the Timberwolves will make a change. But it has nothing to do with their roster or on-court strategy.
Instead, workers will replace the basket at Target Center's south end after some Wolves players remarked Friday that the rim looked a little tilted. The basket in question is near the visitor's bench and where the Wolves shot 3 of 17 (17.6 percent) during the second quarter of a 90-88 loss to the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. They were outscored 25-8 in the quarter.
On Friday, sharpshooters Fred Hoiberg and Wally Szczerbiak noticed that the basket appeared off kilter. But other teammates, including Anthony Carter and Troy Hudson, couldn't tell anything was wrong. "I'm from the ghetto," Hudson said. "I've seen so many tilted rims, they look normal to me."
So, let me get this straight. Fred and Wally see a crooked rim. They see imperfection. They see dissent from the American steel of Pa's old hoop out in the Nebraskan cornfields. They see opposition to the cold sturdy metal that adorns Long Island gymnasiums, where virgin cheerleaders look on in amazement. They see their would-be perfect circle, one degree askew. Perhaps two. An affront to their carefully sculpted and practiced jumpshooting technique. Perfected from years of attending basketball clinics and playing on summer league teams.
Carter and Hudson, on the other hand, what do they see? Home? Tradition? Subversion?
Moving on. You know what totally rules? Sam Mitchell's job security. In an age where Orlando management decides that Johnny Davis (NOT Cuttino Mobley's being replaced by Doug Christie's plantar fascia) is the reason for the Magic's decline, Terry Porter is thrown under a monster truck, and even Stan Van Gundy is Fredo Corleone'd out the game as HIS BEST PLAYER IS OUT WITH AN INJURY, it is refreshing to know that leader of the NBA's worst record is safe.
No condescension here at all; I have a huge soft spot in my heart for Sam. In his first stint with the T-Wolves, the guy was traded with Pooh Richardson for Michael Williams and Chuck "Rifleman" Person. Williams went on to miss like 140 of the next 142 games with various injuries, and Sam mysteriously rejoined Minnesota a year later, making the Timberwolves' first blockbuster trade in franchise history: SAM MITCHELL + POOH RICHARDSON IN EXCHANGE FOR SAM MITCHELL. An ominous beginning to say the least...
Sam went on to become Mr. Timberwolf in the pre-KG era, setting all franchise marks before Da Kid came along. And KG would not be close to the player/person he is today were it not for Mitchell (...and Terry Porter...and Malik Sealy...and, well, no Flip Saunders didn't really do as much as he gets credit for...). Sam doesn't strike me as possessing one ounce of basketball strategy knowledge or X-and-O ability, but cot damn can the man motivate! He is, and I say this in the nicest way possible, a glorified version of an assistant high school basketball coach. You know how it works...While some dipshit gym teacher is telling you how good you can be, and how much he cares about you, and how he played against Xavier McDaniel back when he was in high school, the assistant coach plays the lunatic bad cop screaming on you and threatening to make you run killers until your armpits bleed. Sam is the bad cop.
And in an age where--putting my Chris Berman mask on--attitudes and egos rule the Association (this is a league of PLAYERS), Sam's complete naivete is refreshing. He has no idea that you are NOT supposed to call your rookies soft (Villanueva), challenge your franchise players to lockerroom fights (Vinsanity), or publicly embarrass hotheads for yelling at the refs and then make them cry (Rafer Alston). Especially when you coach the only team in Canada, and your city has all but stopped giving a shit about attending steps towards the (ugh) Rudy Gay sweepstakes cleverly disguised as basketball games. Sam's old school mentality has no business in The Association, yet he stubbornly presses on with it. And Rob Babcock's glorious ineptitude is going to do nothing to stop him.
Speaking of bad GMs, it is commonly thought that the only current executive worse than Babcock (No Weisbrod) is Isiah Thomas. While I prepared a mini-dissertation a few weeks ago, in defense of Isiah, Bill Simmons (whose columns get infinitely better during the basketball season, don't front) swooped in and stated what was to be one of the cornerstones of my argument, which is that he is actually really good in the draft. Another main point, which I will make briefly is that Zeke recognizes that the allure of New York gives him essentially an extra free agent/blockbuster trade opportunity every year. Which is why, as ridiculous as it sounds, The Knicks are consistently legitimately in the hunt for guys like Kobe, Artest, Lebron et al. Anyways, I scrapped the article, but could not scrap what I have deemed to be the greatest hoops/music comparison of all time.
ISIAH THOMAS IS THE SMOKEY ROBINSON OF BASKETBALL.
Once the king of Motown, had an impressive supporting cast and led his team to unprecedented heights. Hated by all his contemporaries. Continues to flash that conniving asshole-on-the-inside smile. Extremely rocky post-glory years career.
KISS THE RING.
Oh, and just to say it before anyone else does. "Who got Pietrus, he got GRAAAAPES."