4.22.2006

The once and future



I'm not gonna lie, that was hard to watch. I generally abstain from any kind of rooting or partisan fandom that does not serve the interest of complete and total NBA awesomeness, i.e. it is virtually impossible for me to ever want to see LeBron "fail." This also explains why I would rather see a shoot-out than stomach a cripplingly defended star. But for the last two years, when Playoff Seasons comes 'round I instantly transform into a Wizards fan. It's not even in a rah-rah, chest-thump thing—it pains me personally to watch one of my favorite public figures made the fool, especially when he's so perennially slept-on (priceless Hubie: "Jamison is kind of unknown, since Arenas gets all the publicity.") The only comfort I'm getting here is remembering what a madhouse the series with the Bulls was, right down to Arenas completely tanking in the first game. I seem to remember writing at the time that "this is the most complex playoff coming out party for an athlete i've ever seen." If there's one thing we've learned about Arenas, it's that none of the usual strategic or psychological cliches apply, and the coffin is far from shut.

LeBron, though, is immanence itself, thoroughly unswayable by anything the world might throw at him. Yes, I know the Wizards are biologically incapable of playing defense, and James may not always opt to dominate the way he did in the first half. Unlike Wade and Amare, though—the other two most chronically unstoppable athletes in the game—he doesn't rely on a set repertoire of moves. When Kobe or AI are on, it's the same sort mesmerizing, out-of-thin-air creativity. But with those two, it's a matter of finding their rhythm, often through trial and error, and they often look like it's taking a superhuman effort to pull it off. LeBron, though, has no limits, speaks like a man inventing his own perfectly eloquent language on the spot, and quite frankly appears to be toying with the parameters of the game. The hoops should be higher, the court bigger, the teammates purposefully incompetent. . . basically, dude should be illegal. The two-dimensional Amare flat-out undermines the idea of the complete game; LeBron is more basketball than basketball itself.

(I hate to make this joke again, but for those who weren't knowing the first time around):



If used correctly, he could be more valuable to a team than Shaq his prime. And before you call me out on that, think about this: MJ was, no question. Heed what the crazy guy said at halftime: "by the time it's all over, they'll be mentioning him in the same breath with Jordan." Anyone not willing to at least reasonably consider this, already, is a pain in the ass.

Laughing sidenote: centuries from now, who wins a game of pay-per-view one-on-one: Arenas's adopted brother or the Katrina evacue Kobe's taken under his wing?

24 Comments:

At 4/22/2006 6:13 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

and no, i don't consider arenas's 26 to mean much. that game was over at the half, and it's probably okay to let an offensive machine rattle off a 17-point 4th when everyone else has given up or been successfully neutralized. especially if they aren't playing any defense.

 
At 4/22/2006 6:23 PM, Blogger Neil Scientist said...

I felt the same sickness, but only because the whole presentation felt more like a coronation than a basketball game. Sports fills a serious emotional void in my life; all my everyday activities are anointed in this same way as Bron's inevitable victory today, if without the heroic triumphalism. Treating any sporting event as a fait accompli makes me feel like I shouldn't bother watching. In a bad analogy, I know I'm going to eat dinner most nights; but I don't know what it will be. I don't get excited for the dinner, but I do for the uncertainty. Removing that from the real-time is depressing. Don't get me wrong though; I don't watch for the insults, I watch for the narrative.

 
At 4/22/2006 6:30 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

to their credit, hubie and whoever did say a lot about arenas being almost as elite a scorer as kobe and bron, and profusely complimented the one or two moments of perilous freedom gilbert enjoyed, and jumped all over the faux-rightening of arenas's fourth. but i wrote it either in my pre-game posts or the comments on it: the network didn't just make it into "we want lebron," they went for the whole "lebron is the universe" presentation before the opening tip. and while that's unfair to the wizards, i doubt they had any conversations on what to do if lebron had a bad game.

 
At 4/22/2006 6:55 PM, Blogger mutoni said...

lebron completes me.

 
At 4/22/2006 6:56 PM, Blogger mutoni said...

as for the two adopted kids, Bryant's kid would definitely win. I have no doubt about it.

 
At 4/22/2006 7:13 PM, Blogger Neil Scientist said...

In my above post, I didn't mean insults, I meant upsets.

I agree that they didn't poop on Gilbert, but they certainly didn't indicate, even in the early going, that he might take over the game. which would have constituted a healthy assessment of the game's possibilities.

 
At 4/22/2006 8:27 PM, Anonymous scoopsnoodle said...

neil otm

was anyone at all surprised that lebron had a tripe double in his 1st playoff game? will anyone be surprised when he's the best player ever?

no, we knew it since he was in high school.

it's weird.

 
At 4/22/2006 8:39 PM, Blogger Neil Scientist said...

yes, but somehow his team managed to miss the playoffs in his first two years, during which time they somehow never managed to go 82-0. I'm not hating on LBJ at all; but his acknowledged amazingness doesn't mean the game is ever, or always, a ritual enactment of his dominance over all others. rituals bespeak foregone conclusions; they are fixed competitions. playoffs, ostensibly, are not.

maybe i'm off, i don't know. i don't even know that otm is.

 
At 4/22/2006 8:59 PM, Anonymous scoopsnoodle said...

oh, were you just complaining about the coverage?

 
At 4/22/2006 9:04 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

customer feedback interlude: if we put up before and after-type posts, or a thousand little ones over the course of a day, is anyone going to see them once they disappear from up top? i am asking you, the audience.

 
At 4/22/2006 9:36 PM, Blogger Neil Scientist said...

yes, definitely just complaining about the coverage, which i will insist was more appropriate for a ritual or fetish party than for a sporting occasion. and shit, i even like hubie.

 
At 4/23/2006 12:24 AM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

i say conglomerate the posts. shit happens too fast. let the comments, like the hair of chris kaman, run forth and be free.

word verification = cyqcz = suckaz!!

 
At 4/23/2006 3:19 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

audience input duly noted. tomorrow you will hear from me but once on the subject of the lakers/suns. and please, please, read what i wrote before this one. it means so much to me.

 
At 4/23/2006 8:42 AM, Anonymous aug said...

It's hard to deny how true those "We are witnesses" commercials are for Lebron. Good ad campaign. There have been some great nba related commericials this past year. Melo's, the kids imitating Jordan's moves, the lebrons, wade's, we are witnesses, and a bunch of others ones.

 
At 4/23/2006 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anybody remember Ralph Wiley's Dune column, which featured Tracy McGrady as the Kwisatz Haderach and Kobe as Feyd? Kobe may or may not still fill the latter role in the collective unconscious, but I don't think McGrady's really in the running for the former anymore -- it would have to be LeBron James (again by reference to the consensus, not to my personal feelings).

 
At 4/23/2006 12:14 PM, Anonymous august strindberg said...

I don't know much we can compain about the coronation coverage, when the king did in fact play like a king. But the weird thing was that the Wizards seemed to be watching the same video, utterly terrified of LeBron after the first quarter. That flailing double team behind the three point line? Is that not mathematically guaranteed to result in an open three by Donyell? Just let Jeffries do his wide-eyed best, never ever switch to Jamison, and hope LeBron is cold and Gilbert is hot. ...oh man...

 
At 4/23/2006 12:28 PM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

I thought butler did an ok job on james too (comparatively, anyway). the part that was really brutal was when they put arenas on him early in the game. it was miserable, and not only did leborn use his size to dominate, but i think struggling on d was a factor in getting agent zero out of his offense from the get go.

 
At 4/23/2006 1:34 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

especially lame that they gushed over hughes's defense the whole game, right down to nodding approvingly at his desire to be recognized for it, while he's essentially the same kind of ersatz defender that arenas is. great at playing passing lanes or making plays on the ball in transition, but absolutely zero ability to lock down another star once the half-court sets in.

 
At 4/23/2006 1:51 PM, Blogger mutoni said...

i can't believe no one has commented on Arenas's nicknames for his teammates.

As much as I love Gilly, I did take a sick pleasure in seeing him practically shake with fear as he got into his defensive stance against James.

 
At 4/23/2006 2:41 PM, Blogger GentleWhoadie9000 said...

Ballers are collecting feel-good stories like jewels. What's next, Rasheed Wallace starts giving low income loans to crippled children in Darfur?

P.S. This is the new blog-literate version of the artist formerly known as 412hater215

 
At 4/23/2006 7:30 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

abou the nicknames bit. . of course that was instant arenas canon material. but coming just before his forgettable first half. . .i just heard those familiar sports talk caller voices, getting on gilbert the same way they always have ricky wiliams: "that's not a man, that's a fucking flake, that's why he's not a champion and never will be, sports is for crew cuts and anyone else is a no-talent faggot!!!!"

 
At 4/24/2006 9:19 AM, Anonymous tp said...

i couldn't imagine a better gil nickname for the softest 7 foot 280 lb center ever created, one who would prefer to shoot fall aways in the post rather than take it to the hoop.

brendan "i love my mama" haywood.

 
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