4.06.2006

Cold On This Side of the Ocean

New Freedarko piece up at McSweeney's today. In it, I discuss the myth of The Association needing big market success in order to prosper, and I do a little pointless baseball-bashing.



Behind closed doors, a number of questions arose about this idea. Shoals suggested that big-market teams must be either "excellent" or "fucked up" to generate interest. I tried to recall the strange 2001-2003 Knicks, and decided that ultimately that wasn't the case because the games were still an "event" to attend. But by event I only mean that you could like sit next to Zach De La Rocha or something, which I'm not sure is the same thing as "generating interest." Clearly someone must recall this Knicks era better than I. Enlighten us.


Additionally Shoals posed the question of whether the permission of big-market teams to be shitty without punishment/losing intrigue then actually allows for small-market teams to flourish. Take this as you will.

[the only lesson I've learned in grad school is that to get out of answring a question you cannot answer, re-ask the question to those who initially posed it].

What I'd also like to acknowledge, and what I have said before, is that MIKE BIBBY COULD CARRY THE WHOLE LEAGUE ON HIS BACK RIGHT NOW. ADDITIONALLY, Every player on the Kings has a chip on his shoulder. Including Adelman. SAR has a vendetta against the entire league. Francisco Garcia is angry at life. Bonzi Wells listens to Danzig IV on his headphones while lying on his bed. For all the NCAA-hating we did in the last couple of weeks, I have to say that the paucity of recent NBA playoffs upsets compared to the abundance of (fake) upsets in college makes me thirst for a Deke-on-the-floor type scenario come June. Sacramento is the team to do it. The Kings' pedigree is pure post-season, and nobody wants to face Artest in seven games. Texas beware.

35 Comments:

At 4/06/2006 1:35 PM, Anonymous Aaron said...

The only thing I want to comment on from the McSweeney's piece is how much it'll fuck up the dynamic of the NBA if the Nets move to Brooklyn.

I mean... in a lot of ways, this is a team that belongs in Brooklyn and has belonged in Brooklyn for as long as it's been in Jersey. Except for one thing. It somehow has an identity as a small-market team that would be shattered by the move. Completely torn to pieces.

I have to admit, the idea excites me.

 
At 4/06/2006 1:39 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

as long as the knicks exist, they'll be the city underdog. relatively speaking, for sure. like mets/yankees, jets/giants. or so i'm told. antelope/suffering.

word verification: "gotduns"

 
At 4/06/2006 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the McSweeney's piece:

"To return to the myth itself, the major recent impetus behind the notion of needing big-market success has largely resulted from the huge TV-ratings drop that the NBA playoffs took once the New Jersey Nets, San Antonio Spurs, and Detroit Pistons started making regular appearances. (Note that until the Nets and Spurs met in the 2003 finals, 18 out of the last 21 finals had featured at least one of the big-market teams.) Erroneously attributed to the failure to feature big-market teams, this ratings plunge, a closer look will reveal, is due not one bit to the physical location of these teams. Rather, it is the mind-numbingly workmanlike and low-scoring style of play that Nets/Pistons/Spurs teams have provided over the past few years and their lack of star-quality players that have kept the masses away. I have no doubt that smaller-market teams with flair and charisma could go toe to toe with any big-market team. If the sex-machine-paced Phoenix Suns and the clinically delirious Washington Wizards were to meet in the finals (or, more realistically, the Dallas Mavs and the Miami Heat), TV ratings would go through the roof."

It would be petty of me to point out that your "closer look" is actually just "your opinion", so I won't. But I will suggest that you're looking at this from the perspective of a diehard NBA fan instead of that of a casual sports fan. The casual sports fan doesn't know how the Suns and Wizards play, he just knows that he doesn't give a shit about those teams. The Celtics and Lakers could have the most boring teams in the league but if they met in the finals again, their ratings would kill your hypothetical Suns-Wizards tilt.

Scott

 
At 4/06/2006 2:07 PM, Blogger A-Wood said...

The Knicks from 2001-2003 generated interest b/c it was amazing to watch Layden construct the whitest basketball team imaginable in New York City. Seriously, most of the guys on that team were Mormon. That's just hilarious in my opinion. It was a joke that he kept his job for as long as he did.

And the Garden will always be an amazing place to watch a game, even if the Knicks do suck. There's not a bad seat in the house, unless you're sitting in the upper deck next to a middle school group from St. Louis. That said, I can't recall Zack de la Rocha ever sitting courtside. Morello, maybe.

 
At 4/06/2006 2:22 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

oddly enough, i actually did sit next to Zack de la Rocha a couple weeks ago (though it was at brunch in Venice, not courtside at MSG); i also followed the 2001-2003 Knicks. neither generated much interest. but out of the crudest of necessities - hunger in one instance, childhood affect in the other - i continued to sit and focus.

i read an article recently that said that local Knicks ratings have actually gone up from last year, and that the Garden remains profitable (despite a slight drop in attendance). the author speculated it was because of a "morbid curiosity" in the current disaster, and maybe he's right. still, since most of the drama has played out in the media coverage, i don't see why voyeurs would find it necessary to actually watch any of the games. my guess is its just force of habit - the kind that takes decades - not years - of dissapointment to break.

one more thing: is that shoefly in that picture?

 
At 4/06/2006 2:28 PM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

In general i agree, but come on, mrs. arenas. No one would give a flying fuck about the wizards in the finals. The suns are a different story, because they are a phenomenon, and they have a transcendant star with crossover appeal in nash. for all the uniqueness of arenas (and i like him) the wizards are just another mediocre team, who are mediocre in the same way as every other mediocre team (i.e. no consistency and no defense.)

 
At 4/06/2006 2:32 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i agree and disagree with sb5000. yes, there has been a lot of media drama, but there's also the sheer enormity of how bad the basketball they're playing is with that payroll, "talent," coach, etc. that said, marveling at that is not the same thing as wanting to pay to see it. you don't have to fuck that fat girl to joke about what a bad experience it would be.

 
At 4/06/2006 2:42 PM, Blogger OG said...

nice post.

the debate over whether those finals with small market teams did poorly because of boring hoops or small markets is interesting. it seems convincing either way, but i doubt one argument can be concretely proven.

but my real reason for posting is: "U.S. Cellular Park"? come on. it may be a trivial point, but i do have an obligation to live up to the handle.

 
At 4/06/2006 2:44 PM, Blogger OG said...

yeah i meant nice mcsweeney's article. post was nice too. where'd you find that blood? they bangin' in wilmette now?

 
At 4/06/2006 2:49 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

i will say this: for a knick fan, there's certainly an attraction to the current team that while not exactly mobird curiosity, is more just about figuring out who to blame. are the players really quiting, or is Larry just rotating them out of rhythm? can Steph and Stevie really ever share a backcourt, or is Isiah truly that a fucking dunce. to answer these questions, its true that you do have to actually tune in and watch. i've probably done this about 10 times this year alone, at the expense of missing the real, interesting games featured elsewhere. my guess is that this sort of compulsive need to distribute guilt is somewhat unique to the nyk fan.

 
At 4/06/2006 2:57 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL

 
At 4/06/2006 3:16 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

a few things:

OG, the initial version said "Comiskey Park (STAY TRUE)" and then when i changed it to us cellular, i got lost in translation. embarrassing as how i live about 40 blocks away.

i found the blood on friendster.

when i was like 21, i went to a knicks game and bumped into Zach DLR...dude who was with had to tell him "how big an influence he was in his life." Extremely silly in retrospect, but kind of mindblowing back in the early 21st century.

wait...NO ONE WOULD CARE ABOUT THE WIZ IN THE FINALS? I'm not even taking the default freedarko position here. this would be front page material. can you imagine the personality profiles on gilbert and etan thomas? the underdog narrative (in its purest form)? the complete irreverence of it all?

 
At 4/06/2006 3:24 PM, Anonymous TZ said...

Reef is currently a top-12 player in the West. Bibby, too. And Artest.

 
At 4/06/2006 3:37 PM, Blogger Mirabeau Lamar said...

Shoals, having friends who would fuck fat chicks just for the story, I think you may be underestimating the public's love of trainwrecks. VH1's celebrity programming, much like the Knicks, draw viewers who like pathetic drama. In fact, the Knicks are kinda like a bad reality show right now. One that people can't help but pay attention to. Just like Tolstoy's remark that unhappy families are all unhappy in their own unique ways, the Knicks have brought the pro sports soap opera in their own distinctive manner (Brown vs. Starbury; Stevie Franchise as unwanted stepchild/usurper). I'd pay to see that.

 
At 4/06/2006 3:48 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

us cellular has now been corrected in the original piece.

 
At 4/06/2006 3:48 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

yeah, shoals, what's wrong with fucking fat chicks?

 
At 4/06/2006 5:36 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

Anna Karenina: fat chick.
you heard it here first.

 
At 4/06/2006 5:49 PM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

Just to clarify my previous comment, the point was that style does not equal attention, because style is only one component of a team's identity. For instance, in 2002-3 the nets were coming off a finals appearance and headed to another finals. At this time, they played an extremely exciting brand of basketball, with the league's widely-agreed best passer throwing no look oops to k-mart, who, as a league leader in technical fouls, had some style himself.

still, the nets were 23rd in the league in attendance. though hardcore fans liked to watch them, people never cared about them and they never drove ratings.

this is to reiterate a point made endlessly on this site, and to again counter the superficial accusation that freedarko is all about style. This is a league driven by story, not style.

 
At 4/06/2006 5:58 PM, Anonymous Another Aaron said...

^ "wait...NO ONE WOULD CARE ABOUT THE WIZ IN THE FINALS?"

No. No, they wouldn't. The NBA is not the NCAA, and the Wizards are not George Mason. I'm sensing a gross under-appreciation of the value of name recognition. As has been intimated repeatedly on this blog, The NBA is a league of stars. Gilbert is nice, but he is, by know means, a STAR. Quirky is fine, but with more well-established crazies like Artest walking around, Gilbert's personality doesn't seem all that outlandish.

For some reason, I question the mainstream appeal of Etan's poetry.

 
At 4/06/2006 6:09 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

Reef is currently a top-12 player in the West.

Shennanigans.

 
At 4/06/2006 6:16 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

Gilbert is the hoops equivalent of that band that's thisclose, and people who "know something about music" are always hyping, but in their infinite (un)wisdom, the public-at-large just doesn't feel them.

The Suns, on the other hand, are like a Fugees reunion tour - remember the "good old days" of Showtime...it's back!

 
At 4/06/2006 7:00 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i said this somewhere else, or maybe only to the recluse, but those nets teams are seriously overrated, style-wise. they were nice on the break and on alley-oops, but they spent just as much, if not more, time peddling typical eastern conference bullshit.

 
At 4/06/2006 7:55 PM, Blogger d.d. tinzeroes said...

A quick perusal of year-by-year Finals ratings revealed the following to me: the lowest rating ever was the Rockets-Lakers in '81.

From there ratings skyrocket through the Celtics-Lakers-Pistons-Bulls. Rating dip (slightly) for the Rockets back-to-backs. Jordan leaves and we get an overall decline with Spurs-Lakers-Pistons.

People don't like to watch championship series centering on big men.

The boom years, essentially, are all about the Larry-Earvin-Isaiah-Michael chain. And overall I would characterize these four players as face-the-basket, score inside AND outside and capable of running the court players.

The '81 Rockets had the original twin towers. Is it any real surprise then that the next worst finals was the Spurs redux of the same? Diehard and casual fans alike know that its next to impossible to stop a team with a dominant big man (or men) if the other team lacks the same, so why watch?

I haven’t watched every game of a Finals since the Sixers-Lakers, and that was because of Iverson, so I count that as a point in favor of my argument (even though the 6ers really didn't stand a chance, Iverson was such a joy to watch that year he made believers out of everyone that HE JUST MIGHT upset the Lakers). Ah crap lost my train.

 
At 4/07/2006 2:29 AM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

Because basketball is the only real sport that can be played by oneself and with minimal materials/space required (i.e., you can play it in the city), hoops, like no other sport, defines the paradox of the isolate among the masses.

I'm going to be that guy and point out that soccer meets this requirement. If you don't think soccer is an urban sport, you haven't seen the Brazilian slums.

Then again, if we assume you're talking about American Sports when you say "sports" (a la the Worldwide Leader) then yeah, you're dead-on.

 
At 4/07/2006 3:46 AM, Anonymous rainbow squirt said...

because basketball is the only real sport that can be played by oneself and with minimal materials/space required

Umm, one can play football by oneself, too. Didn't you see Napoleon Dynamite?

 
At 4/07/2006 11:07 AM, Anonymous T-Ma(li)ck said...

regarding the point about basketball being the embodiment of the large american city: i dont disagree with the points made, but i just want to add that the growing latin influence, especially in places like nyc, make it just as likely that you will be walking down the street in east harlem (nee spanish harlem) and see kids from the DR and PR turning the streets into baseball diamonds as they play stickball, not just in groups, but on their own using the walls of buildings as teammates. the same thing could be said about soccer in places like socal and texas with the mexican populations. these sports dont lend themselves as easily as bball to being played by oneself, but that doesnt stop kids from engaging in their passions. this is all simply to say that the nature of america and its cities is changing, and perhaps with it is changing the sporting landscape as well. if the mls really wants to blow up they just need to start recruiting every young mexican kid whose only dream is to grow up a soccer star, the latin counterpart to guys like telfair and marbury who grew up poor in black ghettos and used ball to escape. by the time latinos outnumber whites by a large number in the states, soccer could just be blowing up.

 
At 4/07/2006 12:31 PM, Blogger T. said...

Just remember with every one kid you lose in the US cities - you're gaining 3 kids in China/Spain/France - places where basketball has really taken off in the last 10 years.

 
At 4/07/2006 3:29 PM, Blogger T. said...

By the way, today's Simmons piece on the Clippers is excellent.

 
At 4/07/2006 3:58 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

T-M, that's a great point re: soccer. If somehow the AI's of the next generation ended up playing soccer, we'd dominate the World Cup.

 
At 4/07/2006 9:20 PM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...

After watching some of the recent Pistons-Heat and Spurs-Lakers games, I am on the verge of taking the position that I simply will not watch any more games involving Detroit or San Antonio. Like the paintings of the Hudson River School (beloved by my very own father), they are skilled works with admirable attributes, but they aren't worth my time.

I already told my Tivo not to bother recording this weekend's Pistons-Pacers affair.

And to make the foregoing even moderately on topic ... I see this chain of connection: myth of American frontier (e.g. as depicted by the Hudson River School) > wistfulness for our rural past > Hoosiers basketball meme> "right way" > Spurs/Pistons (now) > me turning off my TV

In contrast: the urban reality > dreams of the future > basketball as vehicle for creativity and reinvention > presto > [insert appropriate team and year here] > me watching with enthusiasm

 
At 4/07/2006 9:46 PM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...

Also, I'm tremendously frustrated by the collapse of the Sixers.

 
At 4/08/2006 1:13 AM, Blogger mutoni said...

Speaking of frustrating and ill-timed collapses, I'm a fan of the LA Lakers.

UGH.

Not a good week for me, this past week. Not good at all. I feel so bad for Kobe. The rest of the squad would barely be competitive in the NDBL.

 
At 4/08/2006 1:15 AM, Blogger mutoni said...

The Simmons piece is quite good. I must concur. The Sam I Am stuff was phenomenal.

 
At 4/08/2006 3:27 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

holy shit. the sixers and lakers have collapsed right under my nose...and even more embarrassingly, the bulls have catapulted themselves into a playoff spot without my knowing

 
At 4/08/2006 6:58 PM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

To further expound on the soccer thing, this is actually one of the better articles that ESPN.com has had in a while:

http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story?id=364126&root=us&cc=5901&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab5pos3

 

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