Put horns on that rabbit!!

New shit up on McSweeney's today. Our working plan is to post a companion piece to each of these on FreeDarko itself, but I don't think anyone needs to hear any more about how little this season means to me. My awkwardly titled column strives endlessly to shed some light on the geo-foundational implications of my ongoing mistrust of '05-'06. You also might even catch me engineering the ultimate backlash against the "style over content" school that, somehow, we've been lumped in with.

Some other observations:

-At the heart of any discussion of last season is the Suns, and after watching them gouge the Clippers, I've once and for all decided that this edition is a better team. What's missing, though, and why I still can't fully get into the idea that they're as must-watch as they were a spring ago, is that there's not enough puncuation on all the hypertactic elegance. Sure, Marion can finish, but he's too ethereal for me to feel he's really turning each posession into a full-fledged statement of overtakingness. As in, he inserts the exclamation point, but I want the whole fucking thing in caps.

-Are those NBA spots about the travel rule a joke? Wasn't the last one a clinic on mid-range jumpers? I know the timing doesn't make sense, but I can't help but wonder if these aren't an answer to the shit-eating "this is to remind the pros what boxing out looks like" commercial that New Balance ran during the ASG.

-Chris Kaman looks like a seven-foot tall Gary Busey, and has single-handedly upped the ante on "active" big white guys.

-I'm sick of hearing about all how high all these guards rank in points in the paint. I know points are points, and the paint is the paint, but damn, couldn't they differentiate between "in the paint" and "into the paint?"

-NOT GROUNDLESS HATING: Ever notice how, whenever the Suns play, their guys gush about how much fun it is, the opposing team can barely hold back the smiles, and the announcers gush about what a wonderul, lovable sport it is in their hands? That might be the essence of the FreeDarko position: competitive basketball, yes, but it should never, ever be joyless.


At 3/16/2006 1:04 PM, Blogger Dr. Chestnutt said...

Nice work on McSweeneys. My thought is that the league is experiencing the natural bathos that follows a period of reinvention/renewal - it is the uncertain silence between the coronation and the reign. That is why pretenders like Paul Pierce and Gilbert Arenas have gotten so much ink, they are engineering their own stories amidst a vacuum of tangible long-term drama from entities more capable of bearing heroic expectation. All great myths require Kings to be Kings and servants to serve, but right now the Association has many Falstaffs and Hal’s but no Henry’s (yet). There is no myth or joy in the idea of the Pistons or the Spurs - their models hew too closely to the grim demands of modern economic theory to ever stain our imagination with magic (ie – illusion of transcendence).

And fuck this nonsense about point guards scoring % in the paint. That's like comparing ground kills by an Apache attack helicopter vs. one marine and his rifle.

At 3/16/2006 1:16 PM, Anonymous LUCAS said...

I agree that the suns are a better team than last year and that they have exclamation points but not yet in all caps. BUT, last night against the Clips, Tim Thomas had a couple of dunks that were ALL CAPS and both of which were in the face of "the new big white guy," Kaman. Tim Thomas is hungry like people stranded in the arctic after their plane crashed. He is a big dominant scorer and once he learns the Suns system better in these final games before the playoffs, we are going to see some ALL CAPS performances during the playoffs. He is playing for a contract, which seems, is the best motivation players have these days. He is as big and tough as any of the bigs he will face in the playoffs, yet much more athletic. Sound familiar? I think this is the year that the Suns can take it all.

At 3/16/2006 1:32 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

tim thomas could experience an unprecdented renaissance: a failure at being a versatile "potential-soaked" SF, he find his role in the nba as an enforcer of style. shouldn't it go the other way--from show-off to "whatever it takes" vet?

i am not saying the following because anyone needs to hear me do so, but out of that fiery thing we call ritualized duty: arenas is every bit as essential to the new nba as melo. he's the most legit eccentric in basketball, probably in any sport, and also happens to be one of the league's most electrifying scorers. fine, he doesn't play defense, but i think you're making the mistake of judging his game without taking into account how fucking weird a person he is. a lapse of defense is never just a lapse of defense with him.

At 3/16/2006 2:32 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...


At 3/16/2006 2:44 PM, Blogger emynd said...


If the Suns were to win the title, would that redeem the season for you?


At 3/16/2006 4:42 PM, Blogger Dr. Chestnutt said...

Personally, I have no qualms with Gilbert’s D or lacktherof, but I’m just not convinced that his quirkiness promotes him to the status of scion of the new NBA. Even in his self-appointed role as the ultimate outsider, he falls short of Kobe’s organic and far more epic (Shakespearean) status. Also, I think the perception of his eccentricity (via the Wizznuttz’ brilliance, primarily) is far more compelling than his actual impact as a persona with the average fan. But maybe that’s where this becomes a translation problem – how differently does one evaluate Gilbert with the FreeDarko exegesis than with the more shallow resolution of popular opinion? In either case his game is without question, but I just get the feeling that years from now he’ll be a name tossed out by older, intellectual fans as code for their deeper understanding of the Association, whereas the LeBron/Melo/Wade trinity (and fallen Prince Mamba) will still have wider relevance.

At 3/16/2006 5:00 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

with or without amare? i would enjoy watching anyone take down the pistons, spurs or heat, and while nash might not be one of my sentimental favorites, him on the court is nothng short of sublime. but do i want a stoudemire-less suns to be their signature team of last decade? no way.

dc, this assumes that freedarko's new nba and the common fan's version of it are not the same thing. it's entirely possible that arenas deserves to be in that category, and fits with its new message of charisma and young bravura, but just isn't known enough for everyone to see this. or people aren't as obsessively analytical about "the new nba" to the point that they'd see arenas belongs, albeit kind of obliquely.

i think saying "we know better" is less snobby than claiming "we're not even watching the same league."

At 3/16/2006 5:48 PM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

in the most trying of times, march madness appears like the garishly painted face of a prositute. as we turn to her, shamefaced, we say ,next year, Next Year.

At 3/17/2006 1:48 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

because FreeDarko is nothing if not fair and balanced:

the spurs' play may never reach "hiphopketball, a jazzabration" heights, but it's certainly not joyless. to wit, robert horry recently started wearing knee-high socks as a tribute to the injured van exel, and vowed to wear them until nick returns. even you will be hard pressed to deny how fucking cute it is when 16 year vets start doing high school kid tribute shit.

obviously it's unfair to compare any team to the suns, but i can't understand jocking obscurities while heralding the most universally beloved team in years.

those new balance commercials are vile enough to ensure that i'll never purchase a pair of NB's again. why does the NBA allow that shit to air repeatedly during games? you'd never catch the NFL airing commercials that denigrated their product or said college football players played harder. plus, i was watching a high school team practice at my gym earlier in the week, and these kids had apparently never heard about boxing out.

but you sort've have to love those traveling commercials, if only because they made kandi the poster boy for traveling. has any player ever been more shit upon?

At 3/17/2006 4:53 PM, Blogger Mirabeau Lamar said...


Thank you for sticking up for the Spurs on FD. Horry's clutch play and self-deprecating style make him one of the most endearing players that laces up in the league. His clutch play even spawned a lot of speculation last year about an Horry wing of the Hall of Fame, just for his uncanny last-second heroics. I went to a poker tourney he hosted in Austin this last fall and he was spiting game to these two hot women in their early twenties, who seemed to be there for his pleasure only, which blew my notion of him away.
Not to mention Parker's relationship with Eva Longoria, which has got to give him some hip-hop cred; I know it gives him big props with South Texans. Much could also be made of Duncan, who seems to give this blog serious classification problems, as he doesn't fit into any convenient category. He's basically a laid-back gamer, sarcastic as hell, and resentful of his superstar status. The interior life of the Spurs might be worth some discussion. The reason the Spurs don't get much ink on this blog is they way in which they win: no nonsense and nonchalant, which seem to be anathema to FD. That and half of them learned English in adulthood, which doesn't make for the most media savvy team. But the fact that they have rooted themselves in poor-ass Bexar County and embraced Alamo City, with no other professional sports for at least 200 miles, says a lot about the way in which a team and a town can develop a multi-faceted relationship.

At 3/17/2006 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post, loved the last paragraph, which should be Free Darko's effing mission statement.

Two comments: First, Brickowski brings up a good point - the Spurs are FD in their own little way. No foreign player embraces hip-hop improvisation like Ginobili, right? As opposed to the fundemental-savvy Pejas of the world, with their perfect jumpers, coming straight from the Drazen mold, Manu is all improv, especially come playoff time...

Second point: Where does Wade fit right now in FD's world? Has his dominance over the last few months (and the Heat turning into legit contenders) been noticed? Is this Wade rising to another level, or just an extended hot streak?

At 3/17/2006 5:36 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

dlic and i are in the same room, believe it or not, and have come to the conclusion that arguing about the spurs is just not any fun. as in, everything people can say about them is valid, but that doesn't change the fact that, in the same way that the jazz is white, the spurs are boring, and talking about them in this forum is always going to tend toward this.

i love watching manu play, and tim duncan's humor has made me realize what a multi-faceted figure he is; there are probably more of these little facts about the spurs that i could list. still, the sum of these parts is not enough to un-gestalticize my view of that franchise. these are aspects of individuals that do nothing to unseat that team's roaring monotone.

i still stand by what i said about wade earlier this season:


At 3/17/2006 8:12 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

Dr. Chestnut,

Gil as the Bernard King/Andrew Toney of this generation?

A question for all, was Drazen really un-FreeDarko himself? I mean, yes he was something of a one-trick-pony chucker, but he was perhaps the best (or at least most voluble) trash-talker in the league and one of the more emotive guys out there.

At 3/18/2006 8:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More questions are raised: Set one: So, when all is said and done, and the votes are counted, the Spurs are boring to FD. That's fine; question is Can the Spurs NOT be boring? What if Popo does retire/quit at the end of the season, for example... does a new coach open up the tempo of the Spurs? Does he let TP and Manu run up on everyone else Olympic-style? And, if the Spurs become fun ballers, does this make them less likely to win a championship? Is the only way the Spurs win the boring, 80 to your 75, way, or can they be changed and still win? Isn't that the real battle of the last two plus seasons - the boring style of the Spurs versus the gunning styles of the Mavs and now the Suns? 90's Pistons/Knicks versus 80's Showtime?

And the second set, on Wade: FD wants players to be like The Matrix (the movie, not Marion); FD sees Wade as the sequels to The Matrix. Let me explain: the original Matrix was about the one, Neo, learning to use his powers to combat the Agent Smiths... what made the scenes so dynamic, so engulfing, is that Neo was clearly fighting for his survival, and it showed in every scene. Every move Neo makes is born out of desperation and survival, and with it came improvised beauty. In the sequels, however, Neo is no longer fighting for survival... in the crappy fight scenes, he seems bored as he battles armies of Agent Smiths, barely needing more than an arm raising to stop them. Hell, he could be smoking a cigarette in his other hand, and it wouldn't make the fight scenes any more boring. Is that what Wade is to you guys; someone who doesn't have to improvise, isn't born out of survival, someone who just straight up dominates? He might have well be holding a lit cigarette in his off-hand while shooting a jumper? Is this a valid interpretation of FD's take on Wade?

At 3/19/2006 8:23 AM, Anonymous Jimbo said...

Mr Shoals -
But I wonder if I'm the only one that feels that feels that your comments sometimes have a air of finality to them which tends to discourage disagreement. (Of course this is your blog and if you want it to discourage disagreement that's well within your prerogative, but somehow I don't think that's the agenda.)

Re: the Spurs - both Brickowski and Mirabeau make cogent points. And, what, exactly, is monotone about them? Duncan throwing down on Yao and swinging on the rim was almost playful. Horry's clutch, Nick's van knee highs, TP's teardrops (and girlfriend), Duncan's flip flops, Manu's - uh - crazy shit aren't stylish enough? I mean, surely the fact that they have good FG% at both ends isn't enough to un-FreeDarko them. Is it?


P.S. I'm not even going to mention the fact that, despite being neither old, white, conservative or expert at basketball, I like watching good interior defence and footwork in the post and am completely bored by 3s and breakaway dunks. I used to love watching the Admiral just because of his quick feet on defence. (Of course his Steve Nash's-tshirt-is-hurting-the-troops shit just made me sick and sours my attitude toward him and his outstanding defensive rotations.)

At 3/20/2006 10:16 AM, Anonymous T. said...

Maybe the Spurs aren't interesting because they don't have flaws? They're more like automotons.

Greek heroes (not the sandwich) had a defining characteristic of being flawed - vainity, hubris, arrogance - something which kept them closer and relatable to the audience.

I watch the Spurs - and everything just seems to work out for them. When they need a bucket, they'll get a bucket. When they need a stop, they'll get a stop.

TNT knows drama? The Spurs aren't very dramatic - because you already know what's going to happen.

I don't hate the Spurs (in fact, I love Manu - he's one of my favorite players to watch) - but they're boring, because they're so good. There's rarely a doubt in the outcome of a game - or even a big shot.

At 3/20/2006 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to find the spurs boring, you've got to really work at it. the spurs are nowhere near the boredom presented by the various riley teams (knicks, heat). manu is flat out thrilling, parker is pretty close, horry is ridiculous (the three in game 5, the superman slam? come on), and duncan does his job. i think the basis of the knock on the spurs is that neither the admiral nor duncan is rowdy, and they have been the face of the franchise for years. for me, watching games where there's all sorts of great scoring because no one's playing any D is more boring than an actual game, where the players play D because it matters.

At 3/20/2006 3:44 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

to me, basketball is an active, get yours, kind of game. manu does this. parker does this in a way i can barely watch. other than that, they're all about defense and manufacturing. these are their core values, and like i said above, it takes more than a few exception to displace those.


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