Shoals's Open Veil

I have never been prouder to be an Arenas jocker than when he took that shot; it going in was just confirmation of the truth. For all that mental golfing we did on here regarding the nature of game-winners, what makes a game-winner memorable, and how much of one a player can take credit for, we discounted the obvious: that under unearthly pressure, someone could shout "fuck you" and take the most proposterous shot available on the entire court. We've rhapsodized about LeBron as some sort of first principle of basketball, but I'll take the wilderness of Gilbert's soul any day over LeBron's techtonic empircism.

As for what followed. . . yes, I am saddened as I write. Varejao probably did interfere on that lay-up; the rebound that popped out to Marshall for the three went off a foot, and I remain completely mystified by Arenas's disintegration on the line. But look, as much as I want to see all manner of fine things accrue to #0 over his years in the league, I also, as I've said before, am strangely protective of him. Despite Washington's well-documented ability to harry the Pistons in the regular seasn, I can't say I had any interest in watching the Pistons nullify their very existence, like the Heat did to them last year. And, to return to a certain prophecy of mine regarding the nature of these play-offs and why they sum up '05-'06, LeBron vs. Pistons is the ultimate individual vs. society experiment. We want to understand what it means for LeBron the symbol and LeBron the phenomenon to dwell within the thicket that is the Pistons; if God were my quill, we'd see Kobe vs. Spurs in the West to test a similar hypothesis.

Back to those fateful two free throws. Andreo thinks it was dirty of Bron to say anything, and certainly intentional; I can't imagine him saying anything malicious, and given his class-act rep (got to maintain) and how much has been made of their respect for each other, he probably just said something harmless in the moment along the lines of "here we go," or maybe "NBA playoff basketball!!" Factor in Hughes and Arenas jawing at each other throughout the series, with smiles on their faces even in overtime, and I have a hard time believing that was anything but camraderie forged through the flames. The thing with Arenas, though, is that it's nearly impossible to imagine what he's thinking and why. Bron gives him dap, and suddenly an 82% free throw shooter who is absolutely fearless in the clutch has rimmed out two straight. Did all the lopsided coverage of LeBron suddenly get to him? Was he so convinced that James was intended, to advance that he missed as if guided by destiny? What worried me most is that, after proving himself an elite player in this series, Arenas has somehow dropped his stock with those misses. To all you Arenas novices, I say: remember The Bomb, and accept that the game's ending cannot be judged by human hands.

Besides, Cleveland probably should've won anyway. I like the Wizards and all, but with that roster the Cavs should be contenders. They've got an MVP candidate, some quality sidekicks, and a cauldron full of well-defined role players. If they can give Detroit a scare, though, it's going to be because all were made to suffer at the feet of a single chiseled idol.

UPDATE LIKE I LEFT SOMETHING: From ESPN, here's what James and Arenas had to say about their brief exchange:

The turnover gave the Wizards the ball, but Arenas failed to capitalize by missing both free throws when he was fouled with 15 seconds left. He might have been thrown off by James, who engaged in a bit of gamesmanship by talking to Arenas between the two attempts.

"I told him if he missed both of those free throws, the game was over," James said.

Arenas' account was a little different. He said James told him: "If you miss this, you know who's hitting the game-winner."

Okay, maybe the exact words weren't toothless as I'd suggested, but either of these versions makes me even more right. James meant no harm, and if Arenas flaked, it's hard to imagine that it was as simple as his fellow competitor intimidating him.


At 5/06/2006 1:26 AM, Blogger Mirabeau Lamar said...

I think you're right about Arenas's psyche; it is utterly unknowable. Like looking into the face of God or gazing at the abyss, it is a question with no answers. That is what makes him so deadly. Agent Zero is both ultra-clutch and a choke artist. In all of the one-point games in this series, Arenas had a shot to be the hero and fell short each time. However, he also averaged a playoff best 12 points in the 4th quarter of each game. It is not the game itself that he is struggling with, it is his idea of himself. Arenas's pride and sense of inferiority are the source of his strengths and weaknesses. His trip to the Cavs lockerroom after Game 5 to whine about how he was supposed to be the story of that game demonstrates what this series meant to him. Arenas wanted to win the battle versus LeBron, not beat the Cavs.

And that is why he failed.

Yoda, out.

At 5/06/2006 1:32 AM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

my roomate wisely dubbed it the 05-06 "mailman doesn't deliver on sundays" moment.


At 5/06/2006 1:37 AM, Anonymous westney said...

You just blew my mind.

But you could certainly read what was on his mind just after those two chokes. Sitting on the bench, turning away the Gatorate kid, staring at infinity, wearing the painful pit in his stomach on his face for all to see. Now we know he hurts.

At 5/06/2006 4:19 AM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

To have it swing from one of the most likable guys in the league, Arenas, to one of the flat out least likable guys, Damon Jones, was just painful.

A good reminder that sometimes, life is just like that. Now I'll have to meditate on Tayshaun jamming a ball down Mr. Jones' throat before I can get some sleep.

At 5/06/2006 10:08 AM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

i don't know what's worse...the unbearable damon jones hitting the game winner...or my least favorite player, anderson varejao, goaltending gilbert's shot (no call).

in an ironic twist of freedarko fate, if the lakers don't beat the suns tonight, this season will have been a lost cause.

At 5/06/2006 10:13 AM, Blogger El Huracan Andreo said...

Bron Bron completely mindfucked Gilbert.
Class act is a complete facade. Check that motherfucker's beard - I know he's rich and young but now he's getting away with being down right unpresentable.

LeBron is ruthless, but in an amateurish way. MJ would have sent Bill Wennington to convey the message, LeBron is still too playground.

ESPN calls it gamemanship as this league run conspirancy continues... what type of fallout would have occured if it was Mamba whispering a sweet nothing into Ray Allen's history?

Agreeing with Zarko above, what a bitter pill.

Fuck i'm pissed. At least LeBron is going to wear down the Pistons more than those strange Wizards ever could have.

At 5/06/2006 10:16 AM, Blogger ForEvers Burns said...

In the games that I’ve watched the past few years, Arenas seems to miss much more frequently on his second attempt after missing his first attempt than after making his first attempt. I don’t think LeBron got in his head, because Arenas had probably already psyched himself out the moment the first shot hit iron. I wanted to see Gilbert secure a victory with those two free throws, but I hope that those misses will ultimately help him take the final steps to greatness.

The desire to prove the doubters and the haters wrong (whether they truly exist or are birthed from his imagination) bring Gilbert to the gym at 1 am and has driven him to where he is now. But Gilbert’s greatest weakness remains his own lack of emotional and psychological maturity and his difficulties in focusing on what’s happening at the moment are what make him so streaky and inconsistent. If free throws are, as many contend, a mostly mental act, then maybe those misses will lead to some kind of epiphanic moment for him, where he realizes how much further he has to mature and how much more consistently he needs to maintain his focus. If he can find a way to control and channel all of his frenetic energy, he could be, along with Wade, the most dominant guard in the league.

I could be totally wrong about all of this; I’m probably just trying to find a silver lining to last night. I just can’t help but hope Gilbert’s story arc follows that of a clichéd romantic comedy; if last year was act one’s salad days, this year was the inevitable crushing disappointment that results in painful lessons learned, and hopefully next year everyone lives happily ever after.

So I conclude the lamest comment ever, put away my fandom hat, and return to the stable confines of basketball objectivity.

At 5/06/2006 10:17 AM, Anonymous db said...

my guess is that this is all going to be good for arenas long-term, much like kobe's three-airballs-against-utah game was for him. arenas is obsessively competitive and self-loathing; he's the type of guy to pin a newspaper article about his failures to his locker or carry a chip on his shoulder for the entire season because of one off moment. it's like what perfectionist, hyper competitive kobe would be if he didn't have such a dysfunctional personality.

but let's face it - arenas has defined himself and his career through adversity, going back to high school, arizona, golden state, you name it (how does the story go? that he still wears the number zero because "that's how many minutes they said i'd play at arizona." this is a top-10 basketball player we're talking about here.). this is just the next step in that progression. he already established himself as a phenomenal playoff performer; now he's got to establish himself as a winner. i thought he took a big step forward this season and he really grew on me. when he signed with washington i thought he was a bit too freewheeling and out of control to have any real success at the nba level. now i think he's just a little eccentric.

At 5/06/2006 10:38 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

even if lebron was just telling gilbert he loved his smile, isn't it against the rules for an opposing player to approach someone while he's shooting free throws? i can't remember anyone doing it. does anyone (like T., for example) know the deal here? even if it's not against the rules, it's definitely unsportsmanlike. fuck lebron james.

if gilbert had made those free throws, or he or jamison had hit those layups, we'd be looking forward to game 7.

word verification: labhun

fuck labhun james!

At 5/06/2006 11:49 AM, Blogger Snicker-snack said...

Do we need to start using LeBron's middle name? 'Cause he just assassinated the Black Prez. LeBron's comment, from a win-at-all-costs standpoint, was absolutely brilliant, but isn't the whole point to elevate your own game rather than lowering your opponents?

erggvzq! I could not have said it better myself.

At 5/06/2006 11:50 AM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

andreo, you basically just re-wrote the email that i sent out this morning. MINDMELD.

for the record, arenas has less supporting cast than kg during the first round exit years, melo now, and many others who have used the excuse.

also, how fucking comical is it at this point that arenas didnt make the first cut of the all-star team. that is the best proof that nobody knows anything about basketball.

At 5/06/2006 12:19 PM, Blogger T. said...

does anyone (like T., for example) know the deal here? even if it's not against the rules, it's definitely unsportsmanlike. fuck lebron james.

Oh it happens all the time. There aren't any rules against trash talking on the court - but it's at the ref's discretion - if he/she feels it's overboard, then they'll T it up. No one is going to call a T on that - hell the most famous is the Jordan to Mailman "Mailman doesn't deliver on Sundays" line.

I love me some Gil, but if he's not strong enough to stand up a quip - then he's not strong enough mentally to win the game. It's that simple.

The Wizards play worse defense than my high school team anyways - they're fun to watch, but they're the Eastern Conference Suns.

At 5/06/2006 12:29 PM, Anonymous Buforana said...

Can you guys ride one player's unfound transcendence any more? Varejao had his hand in the net, but pulled it out before it could have possibly affected Gilbert's shot. Could it have been called, in the anally tight manner that game was called at points? Yes. Was it? No.

And the ball went off a foot? The rule is that the ball has to be KICKED for it to be taken to the sideline. The ball simply landed on a Wizards' foot and through divine intervention, right into the guy's hand who was on fire all night, wide open in the corner. You might want to look at the Wizards' atrocious defense for not even trying to close out on him.

Gilbert hit an amazing shot, one that was clearly a combination of skill and composure befitting a big time player. But when it came time to do what Lebron did twice in the series, he could not take it strong to the rim and finish for his team in the clutch. You claimed Gilbert or any other star "9 times out of 9" wouldn't try to win the game at the rim, but Arenas tried that very thing and came up short. Then, he inexplicably clanged out two free throws, literally a complete 90 degree turn from the blazing defiance of his 35 footer antics.

Gilbert is about as intriguing a character in the NBA, but he has is far, far away from proving himself worthy of the sort of gushing Lebron James recieves. This blog often strikes me as attempting to uproot the obvious idols and legends in favor of the longshot alternatives, simply to be something different. Yes, my favorite players are Lamar Odom, Gerald Wallace, Bonzi Wells--guys who are seeming enigmas to the game, but I refuse to lose sight of the players who are more than enigma, who take the unknown quantity of their game and express it to its fullest potential. Gilbert Arenas will always be a monumental scorer, probably get mentioned near the tail end of names from this era; the difference is, Lebron James will BE this era. I wish you'd stop trying to exaggerate every little flaw you find in Bron, and I'd especially like if he wasn't blamed for every wrong the League itself perpetuates.

At 5/06/2006 12:39 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...


Bethlehem Shoals wrote:

shouldn't we be having this discussion on the blog?

From: Dr. Lawyer IndianChief
To: Bethlehem Shoals
CC: Brown Recluse
Subject: Re: also
Date: Sat, 6 May 2006 10:26:47 -0500

whats crucial is the discrepancy between what bron says he said and what gilbert says he said. because bron didn't make the last shot, according to gilbert's version, that's kind of lame

On May 6, 2006, at 10:09 AM, Bethlehem Shoals wrote:

i'm as mad as anyone, but i really think you have to view this in the context of arenas and hughes, who had technically taunting each other since since the first quarter of game one. also, i didn't see any reports of gilbert being mad about it.

From: Brown Recluse
To: Dr. Lawyer IndianChief
CC: Bethlehem Shoals
Subject: Re: also
Date: Sat, 6 May 2006 10:37:46 -0400 (EDT)

too bad it doesn't define what "blatantly" or "taunt" mean. what kind of lawyers do they have drafting this shit?

On Sat, 6 May 2006, Dr. Lawyer IndianChief wrote:


At 5/06/2006 12:40 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

buforana,t., etc.--of course i'm overstating the case for gilbert, as i routinely do for all the oddball players that this blog exists to celebrate. some of this is unconscious, some unconscious, some out of duty because these guys just don't get enough shine. but at the end of the day, i like to think that people realize how far we often stray from objective basketball knowledge. it's about feelings and moods.

that said, i just spent a week deifying lebron, and then i had commentors saying that i'd gone overboard there. so the lesson is that we always go overboard but are more interested in doing so for weirdos. less supportable, i guess, but i like to think our praise james is proportionally more superlative than what we give others.

dlic--the wizards have another all-star a borderline guy. the problem is that they're still modelled after last year's squad, despite the fact that there's no longer the same seamless two man game to anchor things.

At 5/06/2006 12:41 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

and a borderline all-star in caron was what i meant to type

At 5/06/2006 1:47 PM, Blogger Dave said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5/06/2006 2:24 PM, Blogger mutoni said...

dave : ever heard of paragraphs? I couldn't even read your comment, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it was worth a read. separate your shit, my man.

At 5/06/2006 2:34 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

maybe that was Bron's advice, too.

At 5/06/2006 2:38 PM, Blogger T. said...

mutoni - Dave (in summary) - He thinks Eddie Jordan made some poor coaching decisions.

At 5/06/2006 3:42 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

splendid quote from mr. irrelevant on lebron's series:

"there's more anger and seriousness about him than fun and weightlessness. He's more Kobe than Magic. We're not supposed to be witnessing the burden of great expectations, we're supposed to testify to the joy of an ascendant king."

At 5/06/2006 3:52 PM, Anonymous Nels said...

Re: Dave's monolithic comment: I agree that Eddie Jordan made poor coaching decisions - calling the timeout there is his responsibility, no? I mean, it's also an incredibly poor decision by his players, though, and I think they deserve at least some of the fault.

I couldn't believe they inbounded the ball again in Game 6 after doing the same thing in Game 5. I don't actually know for a fact that they had a time out left, but if they did, it's simply unfathomable to me how the Wizards could do that twice in a row.

At 5/06/2006 4:20 PM, Anonymous aug said...


Tony Parker sex life news never gets old.

At 5/06/2006 5:38 PM, Blogger Dave said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5/06/2006 5:46 PM, Blogger Dave said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5/06/2006 5:54 PM, Blogger Dave said...

I've been checking out various blogs today, and I have been spreading my opinion on what happened far and wide, so here it is...

The way I see it, the series was lost to a multitude of bad calls. That said, let me clarify because at first glance that would rest the responsibility squarely on NBA officiating. Sure, the refs have nothing but respect for the young man who will undoubtedly have a continuing and profound impact on the league in which they work. I don’t want to take anything away from LJ either, he has more than lived up to the hype and that’s hard to do in the NBA.

However, I don’t know how many times you can let a man walk (especially on a game winner) and not make the call. Had that call been made on the obvious walk in game 3 in the final possession I think momentum in this series would have shifted heavily in the Wizards favor. I also fail to remember how many times I saw his arm sneak in across the body of a defender to clear them out which, last time I checked, is an offensive foul… Put all that aside though. These things happen in the playoffs, that’s just life.

The really questionable calls in this series were made by the Wizards themselves. There were of course the number of defensive lapses that allowed players to get easy looks at the basket or drive to the paint to score. The game winners LJ did get looked way too easy. When there is a playoff series on the line you just gotta step up.

Instead, players allowed him to make winning buckets unhindered instead of giving up the foul on the floor and insuring that he did not drop it in, make him earn it at the stripe. If the Wizards hope to make a real impact in the league in the near future it will have to be all about defense, and not just players that say they are committed on defense, but play it.

The final nail in the coffin was clock management. This is something that I tend to put on Eddie Jordan, because he should have the say on how the plays will run down the stretch. The last possessions of game 5 were nothing short of TRAGIC. First of all he orchestrates a buzzer beater that wasn’t. What I mean is when you have more than 24 seconds on the clock you are not up against a buzzer. That’s assuredly 2 possessions, yours then thiers. So you’re going to have the audacity to challenge one of the premier players in the league to make a buzzer beater?!?!!? no no no no NO….. I don’t get that at all. Seems you would want to score quickly and use fouls and remaining clock to ensure that you are in firm control of the game and the last possession.

Instead LJ scores, and then they try to get the ball upcourt for an extremely low percentage flailing jumpshot with 9 tenths of a second, and do this considering they STILL HAVE A FULL TIMEOUT! (yes, this stuff does fire me up a bit just in case you couldn’t tell) Okay, so that means they could have advanced the ball and drawn up a play for an open catch and shoot situation, but no… not to be.
Then after working their tails off to stay in the game last night they squander second chance opportunities left and right in OT on low percentage shots, and I’m sure anyone who watched last night recalls the exchange between LeBron and Gilbert as he stood at the line. As a matter of fact, I recall turning to a friend I was watching with and asking just what THAT was all about. I personally have never seen anything like that. I was sure it couldn’t be LJ with words of encouragemanet for Gil.

Apparently what he was being told, somewhat prophetically by “The Chosen One” was that if he missed these free throws, this series belongs to the Cavs. He reiterated the point after the first miss. He was right. I was totally phonetically bankrupt as I watched Damon Jones spot on 3 sail through the bottom of the net as the seconds ticked off in regulation.

Okay, now hit rewind for a minute… To the last Wiz timeout, when the ESPN cameras went to the Washington bench and we overheard Antonio Daniels questioning whether or not to call timeout should Cleveland score in that final possession. What I didn’t hear was Eddie’s response to that question… WAS IT NO?!?!!!!? If so, then shame on you, Mr. Jordan… That is inexcusably bad coaching. Why not call time, calm your team down, get them focused and draw up a play to win this game??? No, instead it was a mad dash upcourt when they could have advanced the ball… Enough said.

Any hardcore basketball fan could see the possibilities for things to be dramatically different than they were. It was all about the “little things” the team lacked throughout the season. It’s a huge disappointment, and still I am a Wizards fan. That will not change. I just hope somewhere out there today Gil is watching those tapes where he got that tap on the shoulder and he let LJ climb into his head, and promises himself that will never happen again.

*this commentary has been formatted for your viewing pleasure*

At 5/06/2006 6:40 PM, Anonymous jack said...

Regarding what Lebron said to Gilbert:

According to Grant Long, who Dave Barry interviewed for his senior thesis on basketball (now lost to the internet), Larry Bird used to talk all kinds of trash all over the court.

I don't understand why it makes Lebron less of a sportsman to talk smack. I think Buforana is right in that you guys look for anyway to bring Lebron down and build Arenas up.

At 5/06/2006 6:53 PM, Anonymous ronald james davis said...

I think what actually happened after Daniels asked about the timeout was one of the assistants said they didnt have any left. Thats what it sounded and looked like to me anyways

At 5/06/2006 7:04 PM, Blogger T. said...

Larry Bird used to talk all kinds of trash all over the court.

The two illustrative Larry Bird stories are 1. When he told the guy coming out of the timeout where he was going to get the ball, and how he was going to win the game with a shot from *this* spot - and proceeded to do so. and 2. "Who's playing for second place?" from the 1986 3-point shootout.

At 5/06/2006 7:05 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

dudes, i have never slashed on lebron for The Comment. while andreo has his issues with it, i've done everything to not only excuse it, but prove how there was not necessarily any evil contained in it.

At 5/06/2006 7:29 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

definitely "no evil" in the comment, definitely "mildly gangster" even. good for lebron, thanks for the personality...the point i am (and maybe andreo is) trying to make tho is that kobe/melo/artest/(gilbert??!) would not be referred to as engaging in "gamesmanship" if they made that comment. most likely any of those dudes would get ripped.

At 5/06/2006 7:44 PM, Anonymous futuristxen said...

When has anyone ever been ripped for that sort of thing? Until you guys started ripping on Lebron, I hadn't heard of anyone. It's just part of the game. Jordan did it. Pippen did it. Sam Cassell still does it. Gary Payton still does it. Kobe Bryant does it. Everybody in the league pretty much does it at some point. If Lebron were at the free throw line shooting, it wouldn't have been at all suprising to see Caron Butler or Gil do the exact same thing, with Haywood on the block chortling away.

Xavier McDaniel used to do it. Greg Anthony. Scrubs, superstars, everyone. It's how the game has always been played. Even at the rec league YMCA level people talk trash in that situation.

At 5/06/2006 7:49 PM, Anonymous jack said...

T. - I'm guoting Dave Barry quoting Grant Long. Larry Bird used to say stuff like, "too late" if you didn't rotate fast enough to stop him draining a three. I can't remember the other examples, he just used to run his mouth a lot.

I don't see how a trashtalking could ever contain any evil.

At 5/06/2006 7:54 PM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...

1. Where's my Game 7? I could keep watching just these two teams play for a lot longer ... if for no other reason (and there are so many) than to avoid having to watch the (fucking) Pistons.

2. The thing most missing from the playoffs so far is T-Mac's Vein.

3. "there's more anger and seriousness about him than fun and weightlessness. He's more Kobe than Magic. We're not supposed to be witnessing the burden of great expectations, we're supposed to testify to the joy of an ascendant king."

I can't agree ... or rather, this is again a case of passing judgment on LBJ before he's done, and so it's too soon to say whether I agree. The process of self-overcoming is partly contention with the Spirit of Gravity. It cannot all be ascendant joy at once. One must travel crooked roads in learning to stand and walk and run and jump and climb and dance. But he who would fly must first learn those things, for one cannot fly into flying. And if his commercials and his game have taught us anything about Mr. James, it is that he is, at heart, a dancer and so at war with the Spirit of Gravity. Don't mistake the journey for the destination.

4. I believe it was Mr. Pippen who explained the absence of mail service on Sundays to Mr. Malone. Just thinking about that makes me chuckle, but watching Pip on the ESPN pre-game last night really made me miss watching him play. Now there was a worthy GSBOAT. Paging Mr. Odom, time to step up ...

5. AGENT ZERO WAS PHENOMENAL LAST NIGHT AND IN THIS SERIES. I don't give a fuck about what might have been. He was great, I was honored to watch what he did do, and I'm already thinking about next year's playoffs.

WV: iflzxl

At 5/06/2006 8:07 PM, Blogger Dave said...

Basketball is probably 50% skill, 25% strength, 20% wits, and yes, 5% trashtalk. These figures are speculative and could be argued ad-nauseum, but the point is to a large degree it is a very mental game.

The figures cited for being infamous for doing so are cerainly not the only players who do. I think that at one point in time or another all players do it. I think even coaches do at times. Case in point - recall what Phil Jackson allegedly said to Raja Bell earlier this week from the sidelines?

That is not to place any type of guilt on those who do, it happens, it will continue to happen. I think that the comment was made that some would like to detract from LeBron and put Arenas on a pedestal... Not so, at least not from this observer. If anything, I believe the true test of a player is the ablity to rise above these circumstances, which Gilbert unfotunately did not.

As for the timeout situation in the OT, like I said I didn't hear what the coaches advised on that. I could have sworn there was a timeout left, maybe they didn't account for it, or I could be wrong about that... been known to happen.

At 5/06/2006 9:23 PM, Anonymous spider said...

GSBOAT = Greatest supporting bitch of all time? I'm trying to figure out what else it could be...

I felt like Lebron's comment to Gil at the stripe was a manifestation of LBJ thinking "Hmmm, I'm supposed to be the next Jordan, what would Jordan do in this situation?" Here you have was baby James Trying Too Hard. I don't think it was gamesmanship or competitive spirit, I just think it was a gauche thing to do...

At 5/06/2006 10:00 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

there's trash-talking, there's trying to get a psychological edge, and then there's ruthless guerilla tactics. the latter is some cassell and payton type shit; most players end up somewhere between 1 and 2, and i think at "worst" lebron was tending toward the perfectly normal #2. #3 would've been a little too raw for that particular series, and in some ways completely out of the character for the bron we've come to know.

At 5/06/2006 11:43 PM, Blogger Neil Scientist said...

Why are people accusing this site of Lebronophobia? The whole point of the initial thread was that coronations are inappropriate to round one of the playoffs. The guy is the monster, and will be for another 15+ years. Nobody's denying that.

On the contrary. In some ways, it might be worth pointing out, ritual adoration of Lebron is the red-headed stepchild of this site. Is the halfwitted, semi-mute corporatese adoration emanating from the Craig Sager's of the world but cosmetically different from the verbosely ethereal and gushingly reflective celebration of Ultrageometrical (or Hyperdynamic?) Man characteristic of this site?

BTW: that game wasn't very exciting.

At 5/07/2006 12:50 AM, Anonymous spider said...

Neil, are you talking about PHX game 7? Come on, Pat Burke stroking the 3 ball was pretty sweet.

Did y'all catch Kobe's comments about Raja Bell in the postgame?

At 5/07/2006 8:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, the only awkward yung'un-ness about lebron's comment was the fact that he actually approached arenas and put his hand on his shoulder. jordan would have acted like he was wiping some sweat off his face, covered his mouth with his jersey, and without looking at the guy in the eyes, said just enough to tie his stomach up in knots.

b. shoals mentioned payton - his m.o. is to snarl, get so far up in a guy's face that you wonder whether or not he's thinking about biting off one of his facial features, while it becomes painfully obvious that he's so much of a has-been that he doesn't even have those shit talking rights anymore. dude is capital P-athetic.

and hey, lebron didn't come off as being nearly as adversarial as any of the other notorious shit talkers, phil jackson included. he and arenas are friends ... it's like telling your best buddy you're going to fuck him up in some madden 2K1 or something

At 5/07/2006 11:10 AM, Anonymous aug said...

Another reason i can't fully embrace my new king, lord and savior, is that most everything he does seems forced. He doesn't seem very natural. From age 16, he knew he was gonna be the best baller of all time. He started trying to act like jordan in the quiet diplomatic way. His humor doesn't seem funny whatsoever. It just seems as if he's reading off cue cards of what he believes to be "the right thing to say given his situation and status"(which goes back to my conspiracy theory.

Did anyone else see right before the game when they showed lebron in the tunnel? Some guy was asking him questions as he was walking in his suit along the lines of should the wizards fear you and he said something like "of course" with that annoyingly unnatural serious face on. If anyone can find out the exchange that'd be nice but you get the point.

That trash talk at the end of the game doesn't seem very affecting as something bird, jordan or rodman would say to get in someone's head. If i was playing against lebron and he was trash talking during the whole game, i probably couldn't help but laugh. I'm sure people who get trash talked by lebron wonder "is this guy serious?" It's like lebron is doing it because he thinks he should. He has a good knowledge of basketball history and knew the greats did it, so he thinks he should as well, only he doesn't know how to do it.

At 5/07/2006 11:33 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

and hey, lebron didn't come off as being nearly as adversarial as any of the other notorious shit talkers, phil jackson included. he and arenas are friends ... it's like telling your best buddy you're going to fuck him up in some madden 2K1 or something

thank you. that's what i was trying to say.

i am getting so sick of people criticizing nba'ers. fuck this pat burke shit--that's bush league, ncaa uplift. dissecting is one thing, but if you have a problem with how amazing lebron is, find a different sport.

At 5/07/2006 2:41 PM, Anonymous futuristxen said...

Aug, you're out of your goddamned lebron hating mind. You're trying to shoe-horn him into the Jordan-wannabe mold that Kobe was put into, just because he's been said to be the "next". But the whole forced humor thing...I can only assume you haven't seen much video of Lebron off the court. Have you watched the Making of The Lebrons commercials? Lebron is in various character busting up the crew.

Maria Sharapova is a huge Lebron fan, ostensibialy because of his sense of humor.

Trying basically being asked "are you the greatest" in five thousand diffrent ways everyday of your waking life, and see if your answers don't get trite and scripted. Remember, every question he gets asked, he's been asked about a million times before.

Wilbon says Lebron called Arenas a "fucking wimp" after Arenas missed the freethrows. I didn't even know people still said wimp. Must be Ohio vernacular.

At 5/07/2006 3:15 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

actually, here's wilbon's column, which offers a more jocular version of things, gives arenas's feelings on the taunt, and does a great job of excusing gilbert once and for all (plus, of course, some wacky details). now on to kobe. . .

At 5/07/2006 3:29 PM, Anonymous futuristxen said...

Here's the Wilbon Column I read:


Markedly diffrent in tone.

At 5/07/2006 3:53 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i have no problem with what james says in his metaphoric own house when arenas isn't standing next to him. after all, don't we want james to shine forth as, to quote wilbon, "a bad, bad man?" what's he supposed to do, remind his team to feel respect for arenas when he's trying to fire them up for a thrilling, last-second, series-clinching win on the road?

At 5/07/2006 10:08 PM, Anonymous aug said...

Whoa. What the hell did i do say? I never said i hated lebron. I just said i'm not ready to accept him as my lord and savior yet. I'm sorry. I've seen lebron backstage/behind the scenes and he still doesn't seem very natural to me. I don't care if it's not his fault because he's been treated so weird since early in high school, his actions seem forced to me. I felt embarassed for lebron when i saw those "the lebrons" commercials. I don't think a 17(is she legal yet?) year old tennis player thinking he's funny is going to convince me.

I feel bad for the guy though. Like you said,futuristen, he has been asked since high school if he was the greatest and hears nothing but how amazing he is, or how dissapointing he is when he's not perfect. It can't be a good life he leads with these expectations. I wish he had a chance to come into the league and develop his own identity before he was forced by his pr reps, media pressure, and preconcieved notions of what he should be shaped his personality. A reason i don't accept him fully yet(him as a person, not his game), is because he is not natural. No one can seriously think that this is lebron, pure and simple. He has been groomed since age 16.

Kobe, MJ, Magic, Bird, and the other greats established their own legacy. Lebron can't really do that since his path has been laid out in front of him since he was in high school. His career is just a matter of fulfilling them.

what are the odds someone will read this given it's not the new post anymore?

At 5/08/2006 9:23 PM, Anonymous futuristxen said...

See, I felt the way you do about Lebron about Kobe when he came into the league. It seemed forced. He seemed lonely and anti-social on the court. And lo and behold, we find out, that that was the truth.

With Lebron we can infer an entirely diffrent person. Lebron is an intensley social person. Which makes sense given his upbringing and need for communinal stability in his life. He played basketball with the same group of guys from Grade Five through high school, and now most of those guys are still around Lebron, Maverick Carter being prime example number one. There's also the relationship with his mother, who is at every game. You didn't see that from Kobe's parents. As well as Lebron's kid, who is at every Cavs home game, and who Lebron occasionally plays with during breaks in play during games. He seems to have a very entrenched social network that he had setup before he started getting "groomed".

To me, Lebron is more a Jay-Z, Allen Iverson type of person.

Kobe is more of a John Wayne Gacy type. I've come around on Kobe but I still feel as though he is a fundementally damaged individual who is caught between worlds.

The desire to fuse Lebron into the NBA golden boy role, and because of it, cast aspersions on his character, because Kobe fell so hard from that role, is completely unfair, but I feel that is what is happening. What so many of you who are talking about that path, have failed to mention is that the media is drawing up a very dark path post-Kobe Bryant. They were waiting in the weeds for him to trip up in High School. They are waiting in the weeds for him to slip up now. What impresses me the most about Lebron is how quickly he figured this out, and how quickly he has gotten to the point of not caring. Lebron does not seem the kind of player who changes his game to prove points to external forces like Kobe has been. Lebron's support structure is such that I don't see him striving to impress the national scene on or off the basketball court. He has the skill of knowing when and who to listen to, and who not to.

At 5/11/2006 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bottom line: If Agent 0 is going to be the transcendant player so many of us want him to be, he will have to use this experience to make himself stronger. In the past he has shown the propensity to do so. Here's hoping...

At 6/20/2006 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the comments suggesting that lebron has always had the talent and is still so young that he doesn't know how to act in this situation are right on. seems like part and parcel of the way that sports stars are brought up these days. i mean, jordan was drafted behind bowie. he never had to become jordan, he just was jordan. he didn't whine about it -- he just went out there and did it on the court and it was undeniable.

as a texas fan, i think that vince young displays those same qualities (sorry, i know that's OT, but it's the best example i can think of) and it's 'cause he's been sold short his whole career yet has continued to exceed himself and be a leader -- the truly great players have to earn their reputations, and that's gotta be hard to do when your whole script has already been written for you.

i actually feel kinda bad for lebron. he's never gotten a chance to be himself, and at this point he probably doesn't know who he is. he's been cast in the mold of the player that all of us want to play on our PS2, with 99 in every skill and so on. i'm glad to see him trash talk. it shows some personality.


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