The Heart of a Perpetual Loser

At the risk of alienating a good percentage of the FreeDarko audience, I’ve got a confession to make. Actually, it’s not much of a confession because anybody that knows me can affirm the following fact: I’m one girly ass dude. Despite my manly (i.e. hairy and beer-gut) exterior, on the inside I’m pure, putrid, pathetic emo mush. I cry when animals die in movies. I can’t watch “Strangers With Candy” because I feel so bad for Candy. I am one of those rare-breed of dismal people that is absolutely and completely incapable of being mean to telemarketers. To the casual observer, I might look pretty normal and maybe even considerate, kind, and/or a “good person.” This is all incorrect. I’m just a pussy.

I’m not particularly embarrassed and/or proud of my girliness. At this point, I’ve accepted the fact that this is just me. This is just how I engage the world. Or, to quote a sobbing Kevin Garnett, “this is just how I’m built, man.” How is any of this relevant? Well, first of all, to piggy-back off of Shoals recent “this is a league of psychologically complex individuals” post, I think my girly personality would translate well on the basketball court and, frankly, it’s a shame I’m not in the NBA because I’d probably be one of the most entertaining, inspiring, and likable characters in the league. But, alas, I’m not.

How else is this confessional introduction relevant? Well, my girly personality allows me to develop particularly burdensome emotional attachments to people that may or may not be ready, willing, and/or deserving of that type of burden. This happens fairly regularly in my day-to-day life and basically means I experience an absolutely irrecoverable heartbreaking incident every six months or so. Of course, all of the very-real-yet-admittedly-melodramatic heartbreaks I have experienced will pale in comparison to the absolutely devastating heartbreak I would experience if the god damn Philadelphia Seventyfuckingsixers trade Allen Iverson before the impending trade deadline EVER.

Logistically speaking it shouldn’t happen. Iverson is playing the best basketball of his career, he still sells plenty of jerseys and seats (albeit not in Philly), he’s a perennial All-Star based on recognition alone, and he’s become the face of Philadelphia basketball. Trading Iverson is ridiculous from a business standpoint. But, that being said, some folks still insist on arguing that it might not be a bad idea from a strictly basketball standpoint. Fact of the matter is, the Sixers are mediocre as shit right now, and we all know that being mediocre is way worse than being flat out bad. The blame has to fall somewhere, and we all know that AI has a history of taking the brunt of that blame whether it’s justified or not (and, like all controversial celebrity figures, it rarely is). Personally, I wouldn’t make the argument that Iverson is somehow responsible for their mediocrity (what about the Sixers’ lack of team defense, Igoudala’s reluctance to be aggressive, Korver’s inability to develop a game within the 3-point arc, or Samuel Dalembert’s inability to harness his athletic energies into little more than blocking a whole bunch of shots a game?), but there are a bundle of people that would make the argument—I just hope none of those people have positions of power in the Sixer’s front office. And this brings me to my main point:

Even if trading Allen Iverson made sense from a business and/or basketball standpoint, it makes absolutely no sense from an emotional standpoint… at least for an emo sap like me who is all but in love with this little fucking guy. Certainly, while his basketball ability is a large part of my emotional attachment to him, it’s much more a combination of what Shoals and Rocco articulated recently: that my real-yet-admittedly-distant-and-melodramatic involvement with these players—in this case Allen Iverson—is based on something more than just admiration of unfathomable athletic prowess and competitive drive. It’s at this point where basketball has become something more of an art, where players’ performances can be admired on their terms. In far more simpler terms, I think I can get away with saying that “Dude is my dude and I ride for him” and you people will know what the hell I’m talking about.

But, my super duper main point is this: I’d rather lose with Allen Iverson than win without him.

Yeah, I said it. I’d rather lose in the first or second round of the playoffs every god damn year, dwell in the wretched den of just-below-and/or-just-above-.500 mediocrity with this man than go 82-0 in the regular season and sweep everyone in the play-offs and win the whole damn ‘ship with some other turd(s). This is not hyperbole.

Of course, this echoes the “this is a league of style/stars/nutcases-on-display” mantra that we live and die for around here, but allow me to offer up this slight variation on the theme: “This is NOT a league of wins and losses.” Perhaps we can chalk it up to the postmodern death of the grand narrative, where the age-old, linear narratives of (a) dominant team wins championship or (b) Cinderella team overcomes huge obstacles to grip the heart of a nation and win championship have just lost their meaning and effect. Or perhaps the domineering personalities that have flocked to the NBA in droves have forced us to engage the sport in a more human and subjective manner. Whatever it is, the fact of the matter is, to many of us, wins and losses and championships are the footnotes, not the action that drives the narrative. In fact, I would argue that winning itself stands at a point that’s at just about equal distances from “everything” and “the only thing.” And, I think then that this is the major point of contention between the basketball fans of yore and the new breed that finds themselves nodding along to FreeDarko: the game done changed and the winnings and losings are only as important as the winners and losers that play the fucking game. I suppose finding some sort of grand-scale enjoyment in each and everyone of AI’s performances regardless if they result in a win is akin to liking the music that an artist makes whether or not he wins a Grammy for it.

So, as Shoals mentioned in his post yesterday, it would be unthinkable to trade someone like Allen Iverson or Kevin Garnett, but not just because they helped “build the cities” that they currently play for. We fucking love these guys. Fuck winning when love is involved.

Or perhaps I’m just an emo-ass dude and I’ve got crushes on all these fucking dudes because of some odd estrogen chemical imbalance. Somehow I doubt it though.



At 2/23/2006 10:53 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

first off, i'm excited that we're moving from "style above all" to "meaningful emotional attachment above all."

but i think it's important to note that, for many fans, that kind of personal attachment can only result from the win/loss narrative. you or i can appreciate the majesty of AI or KG's sustained competitive inferno, but that would seem unresolved for a lot of (no less emotional) basketball headz.

as in, personality is only actualized for some in the act of winning or losing. then spectators can form some feelings.

wins and losses aren't just the index of achievment; i'm fairly sure that plenty of folkzz consider them the crux of athletic presence. i mean, try applying our rapidly advanced theory of player attachment to baseball, or even football--those sports not of the future.

At 2/23/2006 11:10 AM, Blogger Rocco Chappelle said...


Great post. You framed this whole thing perfectly, mainly because I feel like a queer agreeing with you. At this juncture, I appreciate Iverson, the sixer, more than the Sixers, which is absolutely shameful for a man to admit. Men should concern themselves with the building of high-speed monorails and the production of new, more heat efficient polymers that increase safety and profit margins. Men shouldn’t go to see “Legally Blonde” or “Sweet Home, Alabama” because he thinks that Reese Witherspoon is “down to earth”. That’s what I do, and you’ve forced me to acknowledge it.

Thanks for making me a eunuch.

PS- I have suspicion that very few players connect with their base on this level. I can’t fathom someone in Milwaukee making the same argument about Michael Redd.

At 2/23/2006 11:22 AM, Blogger mutoni said...

e, great post man. I couldn't agree more. You can love a player blindly no matter the well-being of the organisation. i don't think this is a new development though, plenty of people have always felt this way about certain guys (eg. Starks, Mookie Blaylock, 'Nique).

Not to pimp my own shit, but here's what i wrote after seeing that emotionally devastating handshake Kobe and Shaq shared in LA a little while back :


My point is this: I'm a Kobe guy and I would rather have him running shit in LA even if it means barely making/missing the postseason with the scrubs around him every season cause that's my nigga and I ride with him no matter what. You dig? Fuck Shaq, I don't care if keeping him in LA would've guaranteed us a trip to the WCF or maybe even the Finals each year, I don't got love for him, in fact, I hate the dude (fuck his awesome interviews and pre-ASG dance routines).

At 2/23/2006 11:23 AM, Blogger emynd said...

"Men should concern themselves with the building of high-speed monorails and the production of new, more heat efficient polymers that increase safety and profit margins"

I do both of these things on a fairly regular basis.

I agree that it's pretty ludicrous to imagine a player having a similar connection to their base, but, as far as I can tell, Iverson comes pretty darn close. I get the sense that he would be heartbroken if he were ever traded and he's repeatedly said he wants to end his career in Philadelphia, even throwing in jabs at folks like GP saying "I wouldn't want to go to a team for a year or two just to win a championship. If I can't win it here, then it wasn't meant to happen" or something like that. Iverson definitely seems to have an emotional attachment to the city. We'll probably never truly know why, but I almost want to see him get traded just to see how heartbroken he'll be just so I can love him all the more for being so heartbroken.

If he ever gets traded, guarantee he goes for at least 60 when he plays against the Sixers.


At 2/23/2006 11:34 AM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

great post, man.
i think shoals is right about the importance of winning, though i'd say 'playoff narrative' instead of 'win/loss narrative' - the more or less annual experience of making it, even if its just to lose first round. (after all, even the worst teams still have wins in the regular season). i know my own libidinal capacity vis-a-vis Knick players pretty much evaporated after the tragic events of 2001.
then again, AI might be one of those players for whom emotional attachment really does transcend any consideration of the team he plays for. same with KG. its impossible to know of course, since apart from all their style, the sheer talent of those guys would be enough to get pretty much any team to the 1st round. still, I'm pretty confident that, all things being equal, had Allan Houston had put up 35 a game the past 4 years I'd still feel nothing for him. if it had been AI.... I'm not so sure. so maybe the playoff narrative doesn't matter after all.

At 2/23/2006 11:37 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

it's really only iverson and garnett. fan favorites like moochie can never be judged for winning or losing. and while i'm kobe till i die, his legend is such that he does need to win. he's a killing machine, and it doesn't make sense if bodies don't drop.

with AI and KG, there's also the sense that losing only reinforces their cred. like they give it their all and are still somehow "kept down" by the power structure of bullshit W's and L's. you'd have to be insane to look at the heart they put into the game and undeniable skill they bring to it and not think that, on some level, they should have won. not because of sentimentality--that's kind of condascending--but because everything about them on the court screams "champion."

it's like when Simmons said Amare "just carried himself like the MVP."

At 2/23/2006 11:39 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

playoff narrative defines a career, but a regular season's mood is decided by that day-in, day-out tide of success and failure

At 2/23/2006 11:40 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

and sorry i typed "moochie" instead of "mookie," there's no comparison

At 2/23/2006 11:59 AM, Blogger mutoni said...

shoals, i was hoping you wouldn't point out that Kobe needs to win to complete his legacy. i think every true mamba fan fears this, that maybe bryant will give it his all for years to come but will ultimately retire with 3 titles, and some numbnuts will always claim that shaq did all the work for them. this is perhaps my biggest fear as a sports fan. i liked jordan but (never LOVED) and never felt that i had to fight for him to ride with him because frankly he didn't need it, but kobe does, and desperately.

as for moochie/mookie, i was about to say ...

At 2/23/2006 12:02 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

i meant 'playoff narrative' from the perspective of the fan. in that sense, it includes the day-in, day-out stuff, but always with an eye towards a playoff birth and at least a chance at the championship. the contrast is with the day-in day-out of teams like this year's Knicks, whose utter lack of playoff hope makes fan-player affect pretty much impossible.

At 2/23/2006 12:05 PM, Anonymous TZ said...

You've certainly explained how half of Sactown felt after Webb went out. People are still bitching about the trade. Still.

At 2/23/2006 12:08 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

also...i think what Mutoni said about Starks/Mookie/'Nique is true up to a point. Starks is who I was thinking of when I wrote that last thing. but whatever Starks screamed, and whatever I saw in him, it certainly wasn't 'Champion'. which is to say, i think a lot of that fan-favorite love comes from cycles of playoff (if not finals) experience. the Knicks were a legitimate contenders almost every season Starks played. same with many of those Hawks teams. in contrast, AI and KG have been on teams that, in most any given season, at best seem destined for a first round sweep.

At 2/23/2006 12:23 PM, Anonymous T. said...

Did anyone see those Pharell/TNT commercials leading up to the All-Star game? I thought he captured AI *perfectly* . . ."this to me, sounds like struggle. . . but there's hope"

I think AI - above all players in the Association - speaks to people. And i'm not only talking about the urban hip hop fanbase. I spent a number of years working in China - and his jersey being the #2 seller in China surprised me about 0%. I'd wager no one in China knows about his upbringning the newport news or cru thik or jewelz or anything else - but they can see in his play struggle. . . but hope. And that's a larger meta-meaning that anyone can relate to.

I often expound to my friends that out of everyone in the NBA, I'd most happily shell out money to watch AI play.

At 2/23/2006 12:45 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

mutoni--i don't mean that kobe needs to win to cement his legacy, but that what he means to me and all his other fans ultimately depends on his ability to slay the opponent. it has nothing to do with stats and numbers, everything to do about what we find great and terrible about him.

SB5000--since as you point out, having a garnett or an iverson virtually guarnatees at least strong odds of making it into the playoffs, it's a question of what kind of mood you slip in there with. or anticipate slipping in there with. not to mention how narrow the escape.

T--i think i've said this before, but iverson doesn't just own philly because there's a ton of black people living there.

At 2/23/2006 12:55 PM, Anonymous Tinns said...

Maybe one of the Philly guys could speak to this better than me, but I'm starting to hate watching AI play. The flopping, the ridiculous calls he gets, the whining and whining and whining; it's embarassing at times. Don't get me wrong, he's a trailblazer in all respects for all cultures off the court, I mean he just forced "AI" down everyone's throats and made them eat it up. And they did. He never bent an inch (or really grew up) and that's what makes him unique and great and first. I don't know. Whenever I'm thinking about this guy it's only in superlative terms, and then when I catch the sixers play I feel let down a bit. Maybe his remarkable consistency has dulled my wonder in some sense. I get the feeling that guys like emynd love the Answer for reasons that have nothing to do with the game, which is fine. He demands respect (especially off the court), backs up his shit, and so you love (envy? admire?) him. Again, I don't know.

(and--this has nothing to do with what went on above--but the KIng did a really really nice job d-ing him up the other night, I couldn't believe he even tried. Scary that fella.)

At 2/23/2006 1:12 PM, Anonymous Butterglory said...

The name of the shit upon character in Strangers With Candy is Jerri Blank, not "Candy."

At 2/23/2006 1:12 PM, Blogger emynd said...

"I get the feeling that guys like emynd love the Answer for reasons that have nothing to do with the game."

I don't think it's possible to like AI "for reasons that have nothing to do with the game" because all of these extra-curricular "reasons" are embodied in his game. To me, that was a big part of Shoals recent psychology post: that what we see in these folks' game is not a reflection of themselves or even necessarily a representation of themselves. We see them.

It is impossible to like AI for extracurricular reasons because there are no reasons that are outside of basketball. Sure, I've read his biography, but that wasn't until like 2 months ago. I've loved the dude for years and have known very little about his actual biography if that's what you're implying.

Honestly, I agree that the flopping is getting to be a bit much from a viewers' perspective, and the only real response I have to it is that if you watch AI closely, dude really does get fouled on a good 85% of his drives to the basket, whether he whines about it or flops or not. He probably only gets 50% of those calls. Unfortunately for AI, the refs can't call every single foul that legitimately happens to him because the pace of the game would slow down to an unwatchable rate. AI has figured this out and has decided that flopping is the best way to get their attention. It can be infuriating to watch though.


At 2/23/2006 2:42 PM, Anonymous T. said...

cue name dropping conversation, but I think this is somewhat relevant

A certain all-star from Minnesota and I had a conversation about AI and he was talking about why out of all the 6' guys in the league, AI is making layups and not getting his shots sent to mid-court.

He said the difficulty was most small guards coming into the lane, will see the big guys and jump as soon as possible and try to get shots OVER the front line (see Tony Parker's teardrops or Nick Van Exels runners or Skip's floaters). He said what makes AI different is he will drive further into the lane and come closer to the big guys before he jumps - and even now that he's played against him so many times - he's still uncertain about how deep AI is going to get. And then when he gets right next to the big guys - that's when he jumps. He just keeps coming and coming and makes you back up.

Plus, he said his arms are super long - like they hang down to his mid thighs.

At 2/23/2006 3:04 PM, Blogger mutoni said...

I think it was during AI's Sportscentury that his mom proudly proclaimed that she predicted "he's gonna be a ballplayer" as soon as she gave birth to him because of his freakishly long arms.

as for AI getting fouled on 85% of his drives to the cup, I don't buy it. He screams every trip down the lane and gets a number of calls as a result, then again so do a lot of guys, but Iverson practically cries when he doesn't get the whistle. Like last night when Lebron got a clean strip off him as he went up for a layup in the fourth quarter and Ivey got the obligatory trip to the line. I'm almost convinced the refs feel sorry for him at times.

At 2/23/2006 3:36 PM, Anonymous Aaron said...

Thank you, emynd, for finally crafting the perfect Anti-Ewing Theory.

I grew up a Mattingly and Ewing fan and Simmons' Ewing Theory always nagged at me. You put into the words the reason why it bothered me.

At 2/23/2006 4:08 PM, Blogger Mirabeau Lamar said...

I’ve come late to the FD conversation and have immensely enjoyed the metaphysical discourse on the NBA; I’ve been addicted to reading through the archives and the lively comments on each post. I’ve noticed the preference among the Masters of the Klondike to elevate style over substance, or to argue that style is, in essence, substance. The celebration of the individual performance in the League can represent the U.S.’ cherished freedoms, the free market emphasis on the pursuit of self-interest and the herald of the sport of the 21st century. The special emphasis placed on race, ethnicity and identity also set this blog apart from the standard fare.

However, I must quarrel with the explicit anti-Spurs and, to a lesser degree, anti-Pistons sentiment that pervades this blog. I appreciate emynd’s paean to AI and his psychological attachment to AI, regardless of the Sixers fortunes. This second-term Bush-era defeatism is clearly a reflection of the deflated liberal political landscape. I would contend that unless AI’s statistics reach legendary proportions, then he will be relegated to a footnote in the annals of the NBA without a ring. For future generations sake, our children and theirs, a single player must attain that elusive ring or be cast into anonymity(see Bernard King).

The Truth (not so much the Paul Pierce variety, but the Old Testament brand) is that those who are remembered and who bring lasting joy and meaning to fans and communities find a way to win it all. The same type of love that emynd has for Iverson over the Sixers is shared by Central Texans who cherish their beloved Spurs over any individual Spur. The Spurs are truly the league’s first global team: half of the roster is composed of persons born outside of the mainland U.S. and the style of play is decidedly un-American; selfless, defensive-minded, perimeter game that eschews highlight-reels and off-court drama. The reason the Spurs have come to dominate the League is their utter lack of ego conflicts and perfect chemistry. Duncan’s yeoman ethic coupled with his phlegmatic leadership style sets the professional, adult tone that is missing on teams where the pursuit of individual glory and self-involvement has torn championship prospects asunder (see Pacers, Lakers). The premodern (Cousy/Russell era Celtics), communal spirit of the Spurs game means submitting self for the greater good. As a result, predominantly-Mexian San Antonio, which appreciates the nexus of traditional values and the interrelated global community, has been rewarded for their loyalty to the only pro sport for hundreds of miles.

While FD has derided the SA game as grandparent-friendly, it is precisely that type of play that brings it home. It wasn’t MJ’s highlights (which weren’t bearing fruit until seven years of team-building) that won six rings, but the emergence of Pippen, the solid play of Grant, and the ability of the team to play as one. (Sidenote: has any cultural commentator examined the uncanny similarity between the successful political formula and basketball strategy of the 90s: Triangulation vs. Triangle offense?)

Sorry for the rambling comment. I just wanted to stick up for my Spurs and have thoroughly enjoyed this blog.

At 2/23/2006 4:36 PM, Anonymous 412hater215 said...

OK, let me try to distill 6 years worth of bar-room arguments I've had about AI into a few digestable paragraphs.

I have had numerous Philly heads take me to task about my view that in order for the Sixers to do jack shit, they MUST trade AI. I'm kind of torn about this opinion of mine because I love AI to death and he is the best representative Philly could ever have. By representative I mean he is actually representative of the Philly mentality. This is a rugged black city and he is the most unashamedly urban black personality in all of pro sports. I even convinced my old roomie to name his cat Allen Iverson Agrawal.

From a b-ball standpoint, the reason AI needs to go is this: in order for Iverson to be successful he must shoot the ball about 35 times a game. In order for him to shoot the ball 35 times a game, he has to be given the ball in a half court set and capitalize on some unconventional or chaotic drive or shot. The other four guys just chill and watch and generally have no clue what to expect. This is one reason their rebounding has always sucked despite having guys like Motumbo and Dalembert around. The 2 through 5 guys have as little idea what's about to happen as the defense.

So you have at least 35-45 posessions where there is no real gameplan other than to let Allen do his thing. Nobody else gets more than 1-2 designed plays a game, maybe a week. That isn't the way to generate any consistency or rhythm and it doesn't do much to develop younger players. The only real skill anybody develops is the standing on the block waiting for the ball to miraculously land in your hands skill.

My Pops, in his infininate NY Jew-streetball wisdom (think Bill Bradley posters on the wall) said it best: "If you're going to shoot 35 times a game, you damn well better get 35 points a game. And if your team is losing, they could probably lose without you as well as they could with you."

Why won't they trade AI? Well, for one, nobody else wants him. For two, nobody buys Igoudala jerseys. I'm going to have a beer and apologize to my inner Ivo.

At 2/23/2006 4:58 PM, Anonymous the bus said...

Love this post - particularly the Grammy analogy, which could be expanded on. It made me realise my love for Oasis and my love for Kobe are somehow connected.

At 2/23/2006 5:31 PM, Blogger mutoni said...

apropos of nothing

Artest alert :
(when asked about his matchup with Bryant tonight, he responded)

"I'll do the same thing against him as I have against all the other guys I played who averaged a lot of points," Artest said. "I'll bring his scoring average down. I'll play my game. Most guys who average 20 or more, they don't get that against me."

Gotta love Ronnie. we'll see if he can back up his claim.

At 2/23/2006 6:42 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

412 - well said on all counts. especially the part about the man and the town. there really is nothing and no one as perfectly Philly as AI. he even represented Gladwyn, when he lived there. that's how Philly he is - he could make even the main line his own.
i remember riding the bus that summer in '01 when they went to the finals, and how on every single game day (and when they won, the day after), literally everyone was wearing an iverson jersey. grandmas, newborns, the desheveled Penn chemistry profs, guide dogs - everybody. even now, as disappointing as that team has been, i bet most of those people still wear his jersey under their sweaters, just waiting for another chance to show they believe.

At 2/23/2006 6:57 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2/23/2006 7:04 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

e, let me be the 357th person today to applaud your post. It’s ridiculously good, and you’ve helped me clarify a number of thoughts I’ve had on the sixers. This team has thoroughly confused me for the entire season. During AI’s preseason love-fest with Cheeks and PRACTICE I really thought they’d put it together this year and be a top 4 team in the east. I was in Vegas just before the season began and put money on them to win more than 42 games. It seemed like a lock. The standard formula for NBA success was in place, at least on paper: an in his prime SUPERSTAR surrounded by a young perimeter stopper/slasher, a veteran presence and certifiable #2 option in the post, and a young beast who could control the paint, compensate for Cwebb’s defensive shortcomings and contribute without demanding touches. They even had some competent role players in Korver, Hunter and Salmons. I never thought they’d win a title, but I’ve certainly seen less impressive starting 5’s win 50 games. Fuck, even now it still seems like a more talented bunch than that 2001 finals team.

Over the last week I’ve watched them have great wins over the Spurs and Cavs. But in between those wins they managed to lose by 33 to the Bulls when I wasn’t watching. I don’t get it. There’s a lot of Philly blood on this site and I was hoping someone could explain this team to me, but it sounds like there aren’t any easy answers that don’t involve Iverson and/or chemistry, and I think we’d all prefer to ignore that discussion.

During the 2002 World Championships, well before FreeDarko came into my life, I had a thought that clashed with everything I stood for as a sports fan. At that point, I was insanely competitive and wanted nothing less than domination from my teams. I spat at regular season success, and if my team was incapable of delivering me titles I would ignore not just them, but their entire sport. My relationship with the Mets and baseball from 2002-04 is proof of this. But I was strangely at peace watching the US basketball team lose not only the tournament, but their dominant grip on basketball. The loss seemed less like an aberration than a calculated decision that was years in the making. It was as if the players, coaches, scouts, and executives had all come to an agreement: “we understand that this isn’t the most effective way to play basketball, but damnit if it’s not the most fun!” I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder to be an American.

I’m hoping that your post somehow inspires the Sixer organization or Philly at large to reach a similar agreement.

At 2/23/2006 7:46 PM, Anonymous 412hater215 said...

I'll be damned if its fun to play or watch Sixers basketball. It's downright painful. When you've seen about 10 Iverson jukes or leadfooted fastbreak slowdown layups, you've seen em all. Shit is just painful. They need to just throw oops to to Igoudala all day and if he can go Gap Band on about 30%, then it'd be worth it.

At 2/23/2006 7:47 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

MBL: welcome to FreeDarko. if you continue to browse through the archives you'll notice that i've spilled considerable internet ink thrashing against the tide of anti-spur sentiment. at this point, i pretty much go out of my way to avoid mentioning anything spur related. there are a couple of reasons for this. for one, it seems in poor taste to talk about the spurs while many of my darko brethren are forced to suffer with teams like the sixers or wolves. But, more significantly, there’s really just nothing interesting that can be said about the spurs at this point. They’re happily playing their below the radar game, and are hopefully on the verge of making their annual late-season run. As a fan, I’m happy with where they’re at (ignore the hype about the importance of seeding—the difference between 1st and 4th is drawing the Lakers or Clips in the first round, and we should handle the Mavs with or without homecourt), but as a blogger trying to craft grandiose, self-indulgent basketball narratives I’m less than thrilled with them. Though, if we continue our trend of psychoanalysis I imagine Duncan would be a pretty interesting subject. You have to believe that losing his mother to cancer when he was 14 changed him. Plus, he married a Wake Forrest cheerleader. That's gotta mean something.

At 2/23/2006 8:09 PM, Blogger mutoni said...

a duncan narrative is definitely something to look into.
perhaps a long look into what his and KG's respective legacies represent in the grand scheme of things.

At 2/23/2006 8:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

seemingly unrelated, but perhaps to the larger idea of FreeDarko - as I was leaving a bar on Shephard, who do I see but Penny Hardaway.


At 2/23/2006 9:33 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

fuck, i forgot the whole reason i responded to Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar in the first place, but at least it relates to 412's objection.

"AI will be relegated to a footnote in the annals of NBA history."

i don't think this will ever be true. the bernard king comparison doesn't work. melo has gone to commercial lengths to prove that King wasn't some inimitable freak, but (slipping into Stephen A…nullus) THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER ALLEN IVERSON! I’m certainly not the first one to say this, but it really can’t be repeated enough. We're far more likely to meet another Jordan than another AI. There are a ton of guys in the NBA that I like enough to waste time blogging about, but Iverson is the only player in the current Association that I can envision telling my seed about. And, 412, I wasn’t trying to suggest that watching the 76ers is fun, just that there are certain things in basketball that are bigger than rings.

At 2/24/2006 12:41 AM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

way back in the dawning days of this site, Shoefly wrote a post about how Iverson would have been a worldclass boxer (junior welter weight) if he'd chosen the path.
the argument there was about size and speed. but i was reminded of it today more as a metaphor for Iverson's place in the sport and in his adopted city. it seems to me there's something about Iverson's particular kind of athleticism and talent that simply destines him to be alone on whatever team is put around him. its like he transcends not just the game but the sport itself. he plays like a boxer. whether he stands or falls, he is always alone.

At 2/24/2006 1:04 AM, Anonymous dickie said...

Are we all sleeping on Iverson's accomplishments? I mean he does almost singlehandedly take Philly to the playoffs every year, and he did get to the big dance once, and Game 1 2001 was one of the most electrifying displays of basketball I have ever seen. Compare with KG or (gulp) Vince Carter who've never even been close.

Compare Philly also with the Atlantic divisions pathetic roster of Knicks, Celtics, Nets and Raptors? Their combined winning percentage over the past 5 seasons is approximately .083. Philly may not ever be a realistic contender, but consider the alternatives!

There but for the grace of God, goes AI.

At 2/24/2006 9:39 AM, Blogger emynd said...

Completely unrelated, but it struck me while reading about this autistic kid who scored 20 points in 4 minutes: is Kobe an autistic "idiot savant" who is completely incapable of dealing with social situations?


At 2/24/2006 1:06 PM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...

I am a faithless man, but I believe in the Answer. I have done since the GU Revelation. I accept his mistakes and weaknesses, for they are mine. I forgive his flops and whines, for they are a necessary means of drawing attention to hits that might otherwise get overlooked. I marvel at the Crossover, the jab step, the pull-up 3, and the calculatedly heedless drive to the rim. I ponder what the Game would have been like if the Answer had worked harder on his shot or developed tear-drop floater, but I believe he was more focused on a different form of self-overcoming. I consider the possibilities of a career played with his own special boy who understood when the pass would come and from where, for I have seen too many opportunities squandered by blockish hands and insufficient imagination. I look on in wonder as the man reveals himself through every action and inaction on the court, for I fear such televised nakedness. I look on in glorious disbelief as he makes his move to the basket, for he is an unrivaled blur of spontaneous self-creation and presto. I celebrate his victories and his losses and his presence, for I know that I am watching something original and great. But it is all tinged with a hint of sadness, for I suspect that, like the madman in the marketplace, he came too soon, and there are not yet eyes to see him.

And with that said, I wish to take issue with this accepted wisdom that, to be effective, Iverson needs so many shots that his teams can only win with a defensive-minded supporting cast of role players. That is but one way to win. I contend that the Sixers have routinely failed to acquire (or keep) even a single player of equal talent or to hire a coach who could figure out out to build an offense around him (as D'Antoni has so masterfully done with the talent in Phoenix). I ask only that you look at AI's performances in the All-Star Game, with appropriate adjustments for the fact that it is the ASG and not a regular season or playoff game. When surrounded by players he considers his equals, his shots and points have gone down with his minutes, but he has averaged around 7 assists per game, won two MVP's, and keyed a couple of historic comeback wins. And he's been obviously happy to play that way. Consider a world in which Philly got KG in 1995 (could have happened) and AI in 1996, or the one in which it got AI in '96 and either Nowitski or Pierce in '97 (either of which they could have drafted). With that one other piece and a coach willing to develop an offense that maximized the talents of AI and his hypothetical partner, I think AI could still have been who he has become and also been more successful.

But that is counter-history. In the future world, AI will likely be one of the poster children of this generation of the NBA: unrivaled talents and glorious physical and mental freaks who kept their teams competitive, but given what they had to work with (including themselves), couldn't get a championship.

At 2/26/2006 3:23 PM, Anonymous Gregory Purpura said...

Despite being a generally stoic individual, I weep uncontrollably every night, bemoaining the grim the grim reality that Billy goddamn King has completely wasted the career of Allen Iverson...

At 3/05/2006 8:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

speaking as a lifetime sixers fan, i agree with this post 100%. people outside of philly don't understand how good he really is: 3rd all-fucking-time highest career ppg average behind only wilt and michael? only person besides michael jordan EVER to have 2 50 point games in the same playoff series?

ive always wondered why billy king doesn't get more blame for the sixers mediocrity. he's the goddamn GM after all.

i would absolutely rather flounder around .500 only to be served up as a sacrifical lamb for the pistons come playoff time with allen iverson than have the sixers win a title without him.

At 3/05/2006 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

same anon. as above, i'll register soon i promise.

an interesting paradox exists within the city: this is definitely a football town. eagles coverage and fanfare perenially outshines the sixers in the public eye, even in the offseason, and yet i don't think you'll find a single philadelphian who will argue that allen iverson is the most popular athlete in the city (with the possible exception of the arrival of TO, who was honestly treated as a christ-like figure at first)

this popularity discrepancy hearkens back to him being the perfect "representative of philly", but in my opinion, it's much deeper than that. he's not representative of philadelphia: he is philadelphia. undersized, disrespected and absurdly hard working.

do you recall the reebok commercial a few years ago where he was running through the streets of my fair city while dribbling, only to scale the steps of the art museum, heave the ball out of frame and then look upon the city like an alpha lion surveying all that is his? i can't really articulate the relationship any better than that.

he is rocky, but better because he actually exists. howard the coward eskin is the only person in philly i can think of who doesn't revere the man (and i assure you, all real philadelphians despise howard)

At 4/19/2013 4:34 PM, Blogger Jim Philips said...

It is a your way to be. At least you manly enough to admit it.

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