News Flash - Brand is Still Bland
Recent chatter says that Elton Brand is putting together an MVP like season as he leads the Clippers to the top of the Western Conference. Now, I'm sure by now that any discerning sports fan knows that this is simply fill to an otherwise boring start to the NBA season. That Elton Bland is being touted as an MVP at this early juncture is both an insult to our collective intelligence and a recipe for marketing disaster. This isn't about his MVP candidacy or not, simply the need to talk about something. People are getting paid to write about the Association every day and why not stop by the supermarket aisle that sells jarred Marshmallow Puff once in a while. For shits and giggles.
Don't get me wrong - I've always enjoyed his silent production. I felt slighted along with him when the Bulls traded him for the waste that is Tyson Chandler - and not just because Elton and I share the same birth date, which we do. He reflects the passive, successful side of the Pisces. I am the evil, maniacal and successful size. My home videos are better than his highlight reels, I promise. (Can we recall now that Brian Skinner was also sent in that trade along with Tyson Chandler? Is that the first we heard of this mythological sum-zero that is Brian Skinner? Should he have not been promised more for his career when packaged in such a botched, bum deal?)
I half-like Brand in the same way that I half-like Tim Duncan. Their style serves to let all the nostalgic and nauseating commentators point to examples of how the game used to be played - and thats interesting because of the cantankerous factor. He does the little things. Gets some blocks without being a specialist. Doesn't stir up shit. Fills up a fantasy line and a stat line. (For the record, when given the chance I drafted Bosh over Brand and I'm still ecstatic about it.)
He's been tolerable to date because in the realm of winning and losing there is a tidy balance between the two. Duncan has reaped fame and glory while Elton has been confined to an epoch of losing with the Clippers. To date there has been one Ambassador to the bland land of Duncan and Brand.
But now that the Clippers are winning and Brand is getting the praise it just reaks of rotten. Dead cat rotten.
I watched Brand torch the Heat this past week. He's dropped some weight and is clearly more athletic. His jump shots make the net sound good - a crisp swish - and that is a helpful distraction while he's pushing Udonis Haslem and Antoine Walker around for 37.
But the problem is that Brand isn't pushing anyone around. Even by scoring 37, he's rarely - if ever - spectacular. But that comes as a surprise to few, and even less to those who frequent this site and know what FreeDarko is all about.
My most defining impression of Brand starts and finishes with a pre-draft interview with either Chris Myers or Roy Firestone (can't recall) on ESPN's Up Close. Brand was getting routinely criticized for his lack of height - and rumor was that the Bulls were looking to draft Lamar Odom instead of him. David Falk, his agent, was alongside as I remember.
To settle the debate Myers or Firestone (again, I'd prefer it to be the latter but think it was Myers) got out an measuring tape and measured Brand from head to toe. Again memory is a bit waning here, but Brand stood at something like 6'4. Not close to his playing height.
The real tragedy is that instead of questioning the inexact science with which the host measured him, Brand just stood there dumbfounded. His usual half-cocked grin.
Now the fact that the reigning player of the year would be a sucker for such punishment; imagine the embarassment... a fucking tape measure! Who would stand for it on national television? I still can't believe that Uber-Agent David "Wish He Was Related to Peter" Falk would allow this circus to occur makes a mockery of every fine, self-centered athlete and their smart, prick agent that ever came before.
And we thought Ricky Williams and Master P were stupid. Nevermind that it also was the lowest moment ever for Up Close - leading to its eventual downfall alongside the infamous Rod Tidwell interview when Jerry Maguire (the Tom Cruise that I used to like) gets off-stage props and cries. But that was scripted.
Flash forward 6 years and we still know what we always sort-of did. We're not gonna buy a ticket to watch this guy. We watched the Baby Clippers for Odom and Miles, not Brand. After all, he is basically Clarence Weatherspoon with a bit more athleticism, better coaching and now - drumrolls please - a new diet. I rather he'd have gone Tom Hanks in Cast Away Freak Thin than this.
Admittedly, with his body type and size the only Power Forward that could possibly keep us interested is named Barkley. That dude crashed the boards. This dude shoots baseline jumpers.
Maybe there is some strange psycho-jumble about our tastes as reflective of body length aesthetics, but FreeDarko has talked incessantly about mind & world interactions this week and some of our readership has indicated that they're tired of it. How's this for a matinee?
Regardless, if the eye must be on the Clippers I rather have the talk be about Maggette (should be), Chris Kaman (unreasonably) or anyone (give me a healthy Shaun Livingston!) but please not about Brand. It's too easy and too boring.
A few things we know. The Clips are playing well-coached suffocating defense at the beginning of the season. They won't be at the end. Cassell and Cat Mobley will unravel. Whatever skills may make Brand a MVP candidate during the regular season are going to be proven useless when he has to match up against Duncan, Nowitzki (or day I say Amare) in the playoffs. And, of course, this so-far success will be revealed as a fraud - just as another Western Conference team led by a MVP touted PF year after year is.
It's the to date drudgery of the 05-06 NBA regular season that has given the media the need to fill it up with Brand4MVP headlines. As FreeDarko tries to go daily, we too are trying to fill it up - and I'll admit that we're finding it a bit difficult. Give this whole post in the first place. Who really gives a shit? About Brand or my anecdote about a tape-measure incident in 1999... it all reeks of trying too hard. Now I know what was rotten.
But there is someone we do care about. Remember that regardless of height, weight, demeanor, or lack of back bone - Brand was taken first overall. In hind sight, it still stands as a smart move by the Bulls. Brand is arguably the second best player taken in that draft - especially given the numbers he's putting up this year.
Still, all the others that would make the top five list - AK-47, Manu Ginobili, Shawn Marion - are more interesting. Even the other good pieces from a disastrous 1999 draft (basically Lamar Odom and Baron Davis) incite more opinion, and neither has had near the career that Brand has. League of style to be sure.
The best player from that year? Chi-Town's other pick. None other than Truwarier, Ron Artest.
One of my favorite discoveries is researching this walk to the nearest Wawa is the following excerpt from an AP article following Draft Night 1999.
"Brand is used to traveling and living away from home, and his mother, Daisy, will probably come to Chicago with him for at least the first year. He also got a pleasant surprise when the Bulls drafted one of his old AAU buddies, Ron Artest, with the 16th pick.
Artest, a forward at St. John's, and Brand played on the Riverside Church AAU team for three years, including one spectacular season when it went 64-1. They once talked about going to the same college. And when neither could sleep on Tuesday night, they sat up in the hallway of their hotel, talking about how far they'd come and how their lives were about to change.
When Artest heard the Bulls call his name, he started crying. And no, it wasn't because his hometown New York Knicks didn't pick him.
"All I could think was, 'I'm back with Elton again!"' Artest said. "That's crazy. I'm going to feel right at home.""
Who knew trubonds existed between Bland and Ron-Ron? I hope that salvaged this piece of puff. If not, here's something you're likely to never see in live flesh.
Motherfucker done gone horizontal! Where's the parachute?
And if not, find comfort in the Curse of the Dukies. I am. Right now.