When hawks whittle clothing
If you gazed upon these words hoping to see me slashing away at Bill Simmons’
SG’s argument is an admirable one. Pierce, victim of a terrible personal misfortune and some unexpected organizational loops and slings, has finally come ‘round and become the franchise figurehead that Beantown’s desperately needed for all these sleepless nights. As fans, we should not begrudge the time it took because Pierce is, after all, only a man, one who lives and bleeds like us. He’s had tough times, been placed in some untenable positions, and should just generally be granted the benefit of the doubt and be retro-fitted for our collective patience. If you read between the lines, there’s the smug implication that because Simmons has come to this magnanimous conclusion, because he has offered Pierce clemency, the Truth is now all that much brighter a superstar. In more ways than one, SG and his clovered hordes own Pierce’s present-day honor.
I’m not going to dwell on what Silverbird rightly deemed the column’s most offensive feature: that the 36 year-old Simmons stops just short of calling Paul Anthony Pierce, himself birthed in 1977, “boy.” No, what’s forced me to take public issue with Mr. Easy Target is his bizarre contrasting of Pierce with Garnett, a player who embodies both the psychologically rich NBA’er Simmons thinks he’s inventing and the franchise faith that, according to this piece, only P-double has found through the flames of trial. Baselessly asserting that Garnett will likely walk away from the floundering Wolves this summer because he isn't like Pierce is, to say the least, stupid as fuck. It taketh very little Association know-how to recognize that any discussion of Garnett begins and ends with his legacy as a person-through-game, and vice-versa. In addition, anyone who bothers to monitor off-season rumor mongering should know that KG could have demanded a trade at any point over the last four years, at no great detriment to himself or the organization. Garnett's position is certainly less precarious and unseemly than Pierce's was in June '05, while he's also arguably a more compelling personality/case study. That his future gets lumped in with the status quo, while Pierce is celebrated for his singularity and depth of feeling, strikes me as more than a little arbitrary. Granted, Pierce has actually undergone that most linear of redemptions, but isn't Garnett more likely to, from start to finish, address the situation in a way that demands we acknowledge his multi-dimensional humanity?
Simmons seems, however unwittingly, to claim that for a player to be considered in this way is 1) a luxury 2) inextricably tied to one’s stake in what I’ll call an athlete’s “political” career. Pierce gets this treatment because a Celts fan can see that it’s the only narrative that now makes sense—a white-washing of both Pierce as he once was and the city’s once-smoldering opinion of him. It’s not unlike admitting someone has a drug problem only once he’s cleaned up and has become a wonderful person that you’re proud to call your own; it allows you to excuse your past behavior, put a laudable spin on his, and, in short, pretend like you’ve actually been an active part of his life all along. Embracing the complexity of the situation after the fact, when things are safely resolved, is just as glaringly black and white as refusing to see it while it’s going on. In effect, all the messiness that comes with complexity ends up smoothed-over and self-congratulatory, like admitting it once was there is the same as having deal with it then.
In all honesty, this is nothing more than a new twist on the “my team is full of real, down-to-earth/colorful and interesting/saintly guys” conceit that makes homerdom so absolutely revolting. Saying that Pierce is a study in human psychology and newly-discovered resolve, while discounting the possibility that Garnett (or Iverson, who wrote the book on what Simmons sees in Pierce) could also be that thing, is about as myopic as NBA commentary gets. Denying other players their humanity is about as rank as insisting that out-of-towners aren’t legit athletes, or at least not on the same level as your resident All-Stars. And doing so only when it’s a necessary component of your feelings on being a fan of player X as it relates to worshipping at the altar of team X, it’s got next to nothing to do with actually recognizing that, from the jump, this is a league of psychology. Instead, it becomes just another form of grafting super-celebrity of one kind or another onto one’s zip code messiahs.
While I’m shouting profusely about Page 2, I might as well nod in the direction of Jason Whitlock’s shockingly obtuse
DLIC: the overall point that the QB position is way different from anything else in sports is interesting. obviously the point has been made before, but vince is an intersting example. He also IS capable of redefining exactly what it means, in ways vick or steve young or whoever never could.
Shoals: isn't the point that vince has the power to be the hip-hop qb that vick, only a stunner, never could be? vince won over an old school coach to the point of blastin slim thug in the stadium before games, overcame the "run-first" label on his own terms, and made one of the most conservative states in the world love a straight up h-town representer. and took it to the "greatest college team ever" in the most hard-noised, soon-to-be-a-movie way ever.
Emynd: Well, yeah, that's the freedarko take on it, right? This is shaping up as a Vince Young could do for QBs what AI did for the NBA, right?
There’s a reason why I generally only read ESPN for facts these days. Which begs the question of where my expert analysis, if such a thing still colors my relationship with the game, is coming from.
P.S. Speaking of the opposite of everything I've been getting at, Melo might now be, across the board, one of my league-wide favorites. I know he looked bouncier than usual at the beginning of the season, but he's kept tightening things up to the point where he's now pure fluid (yes, tightening on an infinite scale will eventually yield fluidity).