5.07.2006

What They Called For



One thing I hate is when blogs, especially ours, turn into a 'respond to the other guys'-fest. It's like a really bad post-colonial literature class, where everything you read, you're told, is in response to "the other" or the more empowered party or some bullshit like that. And you can't just appreciate what you read for what it is, in isolation. All that aside, "the other guys," namely ESPN's The Sports Reporters really pissed me off this morning when they uniformly decided to torch Kobe, saying that he "packed it in" and instead of playing the game out was actually "sending a message to his team as if to say 'I GOT YOU HERE.' Can the guy catch a fucking break? Last week you're praising him for becoming unselfish (yeah right, Walton and Kwame--with no small amount of assistance from the Suns' "defense" just miraculously decided to start making shots--therefore meriting that other guys get touches). This week, he is, as The SR's were saying, nowhere close to heir to the Jordan throne, because MJ would have never done what #8 did.


Upon throwing a coffee mug at the wall in the Freedarko boardroom, Brown Recluse Esq., disagreed with my outrage, dropping on me this nugget of opinion-based truth; one that is hard to argue:

"i actually see their point. he didn't look like the uber-competitor heir to the jordan legacy win at all costs kobe yesterday. i mean, he really didn't look like he cared if they won. i almost feel like he wanted them to lose. knowing what we know about kobe, he was trying to send a message to someone--p-jax, teammates, proponents of "the right way," the media, maybe all of them. a complex character, to say the least."

To which I responded--and this was the only way I could reconcile my conflicted views on the situation--that I could agree with B.R.esq. yet I felt that in a strange way, Kobe's statement (if it even was a statement) was Jordanesque. If he really WAS saying "Fck you guys," then it was nothing more than what Jordan did being a dickhead to all his teammates, making Bill Cartwright cry, etc. all for the purposes of getting them to play championship level basketball--except Kobe had his eye on NEXT year (and why shouldn't he, the Lakers didn't have a chance from jumpball last night). My point is that Kobe's "message" is going to help the Lakers in the longrun and also sends a clear message to PJax and Kupchak to go hard after some big dogs in free agency. Whatever Mamba did last night was no worse than when after The Era Bulls' fifth or so championship, Jordan went up to a crying Joe Kleine and said, "What are you crying for? I won you this."


The psyche of Kobe Bryant is complex, this we know. And therefore, when attempting to explain his actions, I recommend we do not attribute a single valence to them, but rather try to understand the man for all he encompasses.

63 Comments:

At 5/08/2006 12:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry you fell victim to the NBA pseudo-cognoscenti's pathetic overhyping of Kobe (led by Bill Simmons). The fact is that he scored when the Lakers could have put away the Suns by going inside (Game 6) and did his best ostrich impression when they clearly needed him to try to score (Game 7). Jackson's "oh yeah, he did score one point I guess" should put to rest any Jordan comparisons for a while, but apparently it's hard to let go when you're dead wrong. What a killer instinct on that kid.

Where can I get odds on him never winning a championship without Shaq? Damn, should have jumped on that train a couple years ago, I'm sure the moneyline sucks on it after yesterday's Houdini act.

 
At 5/08/2006 12:30 AM, Anonymous Memory Jones said...

Kobe can't catch a break. Shoot the lights out: he's selfish. Not score enough: he's petulant. Assault a hotel worker: well, that's a different story.

The whole season all people wanted him to do was to admit/realize he couldn't win the whole thing on his own. And realize that he did. If Kwame and Luke are missing 4 out of 5 point-blank shots, then the Lakers don't have a chance.

What difference does it make if he scored 50 points in the loss or 25? He knew that the Suns had pulled an Elson on his team's psyche and one man's scoring bout was not going to rescue them. If the better part of valor is discretion, then why should he fight so hard in what was obviously a losing cause? What would it profit anyone except to prove that all of his tendencies are self-serving?

Kobe is, like all people, complex, and his complexity is only amplified by the scrutiny that washes over every single move he makes. The overwhelming desire to simplify that equation into Kobe = Selfish or Kobe = Hero is just the inability of sports writers, fans, etc. to allow him the same humanity that they afford their office coworkers when those shlubs fail to operate with 100% consistency on a day-to-day basis.

My biggest hope for the Lakers is that Kobe doesn't care what people think of that performance.

 
At 5/08/2006 1:28 AM, Anonymous pyrex chapman said...

we can agree that kobe's talent and misanthropy make him one of the most interesting character in all of athletics, but making apologies for his behavior in the second half of yesterday's game is willfully ignoring the despicable nature of what he actually did.

he didn't criticize a teammate. he publicly humiliated them: "look at these guys when i don't go for mine." whether an attempt to throw the ineptitude of cook, kwame, et al back in the faces of those who claimed the lakers are better served with trotsyesque ball distribution or just an attempt to absolve himself of any fault in a humiliating three-game slide, yesterday's antics can't be compared to any of the jordanesque asshole moves you've cited.

sure, skip us with all the blather about "killer instict" or "he'll never win" -- those are idiotic platitudes. discussion of last night's game should revolve around kobe's motives and his nature as a teammate and person, not lame prognostications.

 
At 5/08/2006 1:58 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

last time i checked, everyone on that but odom was pretty much garbage (as much as i'd like to believe otherwise). and that team depended on those guys springing to life, not kobe dropping 50. at that point, him repeating game 6 wouldn't have helped matters. those players needed to step up for that game to be winnable, that was pretty obvious. kobe cutting the margin of victory to ten would've been meaningless, and in fact this way the other guys get to see that yes, it is reall about us.

i'm taking a few days off to recover from my loss and visit a friend in NOLA, but i will say this: all this vitriol and bad vibes are so petty. there is a reason why skip bayless is going to hell and jesus is the religious inspiration for 34 billion people.

the very fact that pyrex champman is saying that kobe "publicly humiliated" his teammates. . . like he had to do much of anything for them to embarass themselves. it's up to kobe to allow them to show they're men, but he can't make them men.

 
At 5/08/2006 2:30 AM, Anonymous pyrex chapman said...

we just have different interpretations of kobe's second-half drought.

to me, bryant took umbrage at the suggestions that the lakers' game seven fortunes rested on him involving the rest of his teammates instead of shouldering the load singlehandedly. and after his supporting cast shat the futon to the tune of a 20-point deficit, kobe opted to wag a middle finger at the critics by showcasing his teammates as the chumps that we all know they are. and i agree -- no one needed it pointed out.

i don't see kobe's self-imposed freeze-out as a plea for better teammates; i see it as a statement that he doesn't need them at all.

 
At 5/08/2006 4:34 AM, Anonymous jack said...

Kobe shot 15-25 in game 6, and got them into overtime when everybody else on the team couldn't do anything, and promptly lost the game for him. According to the Hollinger stats depot, the Lakers offensive production is actually worse when Kobe shares the ball then when he gets his.

The message Kobe is sending to his teammates is they have to learn to focus and play high level basketball even when that means giving the ball to Kobe every possession.

 
At 5/08/2006 4:47 AM, Anonymous rainbow squirt said...

The Lakers' starting five combined for 69 points in game seven, the Phonecian starters combined for 71 points. Not a huge discrepancy.

Meanwhile, the Suns got *50* points off the bench; the Lakers' backups contributed 21. Thomas (12 points, 6 rebounds) and Barbosa (26 points) were lighting LA up from the first quarter on.

But yeah, that's all Kobe's fault since he's such a selfish quitter and he rapes people. What a jerk, not being able to score like 55 points at will. The nerve.

All these folks jumping at the first chance to hate, it's just like Bun-B says: People always be around when you shinin' and ballin' / But they real hard to find when tough times come callin' / You got money doin' good and they all in your face / but disappear like Sue Storm soon as you catch a case / it's like clockwork homeboy, the shit never fails / soon as they think the party's over, everybody bails.

In the aftermath of LA/PHO vol. 7 and Sunday's routing of Bron Bron's Cavaliers by the New Model Army of "team basketball", we may be in for an onslaught of sportswriters paging through the usual "unselfish play is superior" hymnal. Oh boy.

There needs to be a Rip Hamilton shoe called Air Ham. The soles of the shoes could be partially patterned after Rip's hair.

 
At 5/08/2006 5:13 AM, Blogger Nate said...

Great points, Henry. Macio, what are you talking about? The guy carried this terrible team the entire year, when most of these NBA players you probably consider better teammates would have either bailed on their team, asked for a trade, or blamed their teammates for the lack of the team's success. Also no other player (with the exception of a Healthy Shaq) could have gotten this team as far as they went. Give the guy a break. I am not saying that Kobe is a great guy, but the polarized hating or celebrating of Kobe is just ridiculous. It's like we have the democrats who are too liberal in their praise of Kobe and the Republicans who are waaay too conservative and think that Kobe is just terrible and don't leave any room for discussion. I think that the answer is somewhere in between. Someone on another blog compared him to T.O. I can't believe someone would compare him to TO. If he were T.O. he would have come out Jacking in the playoffs. And if he were T.O he would have come out after game 6 and run his teammates under the bus for losing that game, because that is exactly what they did. But anyhow, it will be interesting to see what fans and the media talk about the rest of the playoffs now that Kobe is gone...

Word Verification:kijfh

 
At 5/08/2006 7:17 AM, Anonymous futuristxen said...

Now that Kobe is gone, that's just more eyes on Lebron. They'll use the same arguements they use on Kobe on Lebron. When his teammates work, they'll say he should be more assertive, when they don't, they'll say he needs to involve them.

This culture is so team team team it's sickening. Individuality is punished as unpatriotic. Toe the line. Live in Fear.

D-ETROIT BASKET-BALL!

Drunken rich yuppie Lawyers all of them. Bitter because they were never the star. Revenge of the Nerds. Death of the Dream.

America no longer wants to be the best. And we hate to be reminded of that fact.

 
At 5/08/2006 8:15 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

i may be banned from freedarko for saying this, but i actually really enjoyed watching both the spurs and pistons play yesterday. they're well-coached, smart basketball teams.

but, what some people don't realize is that the pistons play that way only because they can. billups, hamilton, rasheed, and even prince are talented enough to justify putting up 20 shots a game on shitty teams, but they don't because there are other guys on their team who are just as good and deserve shots just as much. with the spurs, they have parker, manu, and duncan. both teams have talented, experienced players on the bench.

it's a lot easier to trust your teammates when they hit shots.

the simple fact is that kobe and lebron have vastly inferior supporting casts. as kobe demonstrated, his teammates can't win games with him sharing the ball, at least not against teams with normal-sized frontlines that are committed to defense, i.e., not the suns, and actually, even the suns, as it turns out.

kobe and lebron have their faults, and they've been made more than evident in this season's first round, but the real blame here lies with the GM's and coaches that put this ill-fitting, overmatched talent together. kobe did all he could, and so has lebron. but, they're outgunned, so down they will go.

 
At 5/08/2006 8:51 AM, Anonymous futuristxen said...

I think there's a diffrence between liking the Spurs and liking the Pistons. The former is about liking the finer things in life. Being able to enjoy Duncan's fine mastery of the ebb and flow of the game, being able to watch him in his prime conduct the Spurs was though on the other end of the spectrum, as entertaining as anything Iverson was doing at the time.

Now, the joy is in watching Tony Parker. A man who is at the peak of a life nobody could dream to live. If ever there was somebody living the perfect life and playing like it, it's Tony Parker. He literally plays on cloud nine. Now if only Manu could recapture his Argentine gusto that his teammate Nocioni has picked up on, you'd really be cooking.

The Pistons on the other hand are a team full of unsupportable bastards of the highest level. The word boorish is too good for these freaks. All of the players on that team, with the exception of Antonio Mcydsses deserve to be spread across the Hawks, Bobcats, and various bottom feeder NBDL teams like the Knicks. They are in a two words "Rasheed's Team". And all the bullshit about playing the right way for a team that constantly cries to the refs, cries to opponents, enjoys showing up opponents, is not above the kidney punch as an ends to a mean--if ever there was a wrong way to play the "right way" the pistons are it. In some way that's perfect for a former Larry Brown team. Complete and utter hypocricy. Everything good about the Pistons is shadowed by something completely wrong that invalidates said goodness.

The sooner they take one to the back of the brain the better. The NBA was never in good hands with teams like Detroit contending for championships.

 
At 5/08/2006 9:36 AM, Blogger Josh said...

Er, ok...I'm gonna take it in a slightly different direction here.

I admit I'm enamored with the Pistons now, and the tipping point for me, potentially embarrassingly enough, was the totally old-skool musty 70s-nostalgia super-funktastic clip using RJD2's "Ghostwriter" that ESPN used at the beginning of this season. Among a bevy of stars, the clip offered up the Pistons as a team of one, and something about those triumphant horns and the five-against-one aesthetic turned me into a sucker for solidarity.

What you have with the Pistons are five core guys who were all doubted or dismissed at one point or several points in their careers. Plus, as Ghost would say, they stick together like cheap rice, in a genuine and believably fraternal way (ie. you really believe they hang out together off the court) that blows all other paradigms of "chemistry" (Patriots, Red Sox, Spurs) completely out of the water.

 
At 5/08/2006 9:55 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

sheed
big ben
billups
tayshaun

with the exception of hamilton, who still is kind of affably sly, that's an all-awesome starting five. until they came together, the top three had, at various points in time, been among my favorites in the league. i respect what they're doing now, and it seems to prove that 1) working together always prevails 2) teamwork is ultimately boring (even the suns prove this at times).

the spurs, though, have way too much dead weight. even if i've started to come round on duncan, and manu rules when he's on, and parker i guess is worth thinking about. . . i don't trust them enough to give them the benefit of the doubt. like "before i went to war i was a peaceful man" spoken by the guy who eats brains.

 
At 5/08/2006 10:02 AM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

best usage of an RJD2 reference in FD comments award goes to Josh.

The only thing I can be mad at the Pistons for is kinda killing Crazy Sheed and turning him into Just Plain Weird Sheed.

 
At 5/08/2006 10:06 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 5/08/2006 10:11 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

you're really telling me that you'd take the precursor to zach randolph over the batty statesman he's become?

 
At 5/08/2006 10:26 AM, Blogger Joey said...

I'm a proud Kobe hater and I gotta agree. What do they want the dude to do? Score 81? He shoots too much. Defer to his teammates? He's sending a message and letting his teammates down. The Lakers, as constituted save for Odom, do not have the other pieces required to consistently be a good team. Praise Phee-il (that's how Scottie used to say it) and Kobe for taking three games from a better team that does not have win that series if Tim Thomas doesn't spend two weeks playing like the the guy he should have been five years ago.

Rip Kobe for real things, like senselessly changing his number; or seeming contrived at all times when not playing basketball; or clowning himself during the dunk contest of all-star weeken; or, you know...

 
At 5/08/2006 10:29 AM, Blogger Neil Scientist said...

what's up with all the dirk-hatred? It's like he doesn't exist here. Sure his surrounding cast is good, but he shows his teammates up, sometimes refuses to play defense, and exhibits some compelling semi- or anti-social behaviors, and wields an unusual toolkit of ballability. Plus he's full of archiovillainy. Nobody here can get behind him?

Use the litte handicapped fellow for your next word verification checkin. It's symbolic logic for human irregularities.

 
At 5/08/2006 10:43 AM, Blogger T. said...

For me personally, I'm just against 7' Germans who habitually sink 3 pointers and the hopes of my team.

I have the this weird rooting issue in that I have individuals that I enjoy on a certain team (e.g. Nick Van Exel, Manu Ginobili, Mike Finley, Roscoe Wallace and Chuancey Billups) but I can't support that team - and then on the flip side I really want the team to win a series (Lakers) - but I don't really like any of the players on the Lakers.

Maybe Yao and Tracy should just solve this for me and stay healthy, ne?

I can't believe FreeDarko would be throwing in the towel when the Clippers - THE CLIPPERS! - have a good chance to go to the Western Conference Finals.

 
At 5/08/2006 11:06 AM, Blogger Vegan Viking said...

Are we overcomplexifying Kobe? The second half of Game 7 reminded me of the second half of Game 5 of the 2004 Finals against the Pistons. Nothing was working right for anybody on the team, and in the second half it became clear that it was over. There are very few athletes who play unaware of defeat in those situations, and even fewer who are able to continue to play at an intense level at that point. It wasn't the complexity of a unique character; it was the normal development for a player on a team getting demolished in an elimination game.

 
At 5/08/2006 11:14 AM, Blogger Joey said...

You hold up, turn the beat off: I had to turn the beat off because futuristxen is wearing chancletas with jeans on right now. He's claiming he's an 80s baby and all that.

The word "boorish" is too good for the Pistons? They're a collection of bastards?

Rip Hamilton, who lives for Coatesville, PA and doesn't get in trouble?

Chauncey Billups, a good citizen and a guy who got a bad rap because Rick Pitino didn't like him?

Ben Wallace, the walking testament to hard work and quiet dignity?

Tayshaun Prince, a player willing to commit himself to defense, never rock the boat, and do whatever the team asks of him?

I'll admit that Rasheed has been a jerk--that whole "CTC" episode was pretty much the nadir of his career (although wonderfully endearing for people like me)--at times, but since joining the Pistons, all he's done is play hard, provide the best on-ball post defense in the lig (read that again), and work well with his teammates. The dude, Roscoe, is even a leader in the locker room, what with the belt, the nicknames, the jokes, and all that.

How is this team unlikable?

And I think that the Pistons and Spurs are beasts of different natures.

First, let me issue some caveats: I love Pop. I think he's a great coach. I also love Duncan in totality--the focused intensity, the efficient game, the mildly awkward moments of athleticism (like those falling jumpers he takes as he comes across the lane). And Manu is my man (when he's got his body and mind right--not this season). That said, they seem to prioritize teamwork as a way to leverage Duncan and Manu and Parker. Bowen, Barry, Big Shot, etc.--they all complement the dominant traits of the Spurs' three best players. The whole is not greater than the sum of the parts, the sum is just a great number because of the components.

The Pistons, though, are the best team of the last 15 years. I DO NOT mean that they would be Michael or Hakeem (although they might beat this Rockets). I just mean that they define team better than anyone else has in a while. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Individually, the Pistons each bring certain skills to the table, and the Pistons have good players. But unlike a Manu or a Duncan, the team is not configured around the outstanding abilities of a few cornerstones. The Pistons, as an organization, wouldn't be nearly as successful without one of the key equals. The Spurs, though, can replace David Robinson with Rasho with Nazr and win titles. If you took Tayshaun off the team and inserted Carmelo Anthony, would the Detroit organization be what it is right now? What about substituting Michael Redd for Rip? I don't think it would.

And that's what makes Detroit so much fun that you can't help but root for the Pistons. They're flawed as individuals, but collectively, they're great. Sort of like Voltron.

Or, when put another way, NWA lost Ice Cube but still produced Efil4zaggin, a strong record, because it retained critical elements. And when Dre left, he was able to drop a classic because Dre was Dre. Well, that's the Spurs and Duncan. The Pistons? The Pistons are A Tribe Called Quest. Yeah, Jarobi left (insert name: Elden Campbell, Darko Milicic, Mike James), but they didn't need him because Jarobi wasn't Tribe. Tribe was Phife, Tip, and Ali. None of them sounds right without the other two.

 
At 5/08/2006 11:19 AM, Blogger Vegan Viking said...

The Pistons have the best starting 5 in a while, that's certain. Other teams have had a better 1-3 players, and other teams have been better 8-9 deep, I think. But for a starting 5, it's tough to think of another team to match it since...?

 
At 5/08/2006 11:31 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i'm all up in golf claps after joey's comment, but i've got to take some issue with your decription of the spurs. before this year, parker was inconsistent and flawed enough to be a role player, and this year, manu fits that bill. sometimes i think that they might just be a classier, better organized version of the heat or sonics--two stars, meaningful support, occasional stepping up when necessary.

 
At 5/08/2006 11:31 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

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At 5/08/2006 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think an important point you gentlemen are overlooking here is simply this; jordan, 6 rings. kobe + shaq = 3 rings. kobe = 0 rings.

you may not buy into that argument, and you can't discredit his talent as a player, but i still think the diesel's denoument and final apogee had alot more to do with those rings than mr. mamba. that lakers dynasty rode the diesel for 3 3/4 quarters and then turned the reins over to kobe in the clutch.

also, i have a radical suggestion: can we drop this "heir to the jordan legacy" thing once and for all? my reasoning being A) michael jordan is not the best player in NBA history, but he is the best marketed player in the history of sports and B) do you think possibly, just possibly, there doesn't need to be an heir? he held the league hostage for the better part of a decade, which was great for chicago fans, but ask a jazz fan how they liked it. a larger market does not a better team make.

 
At 5/08/2006 11:48 AM, Blogger T. said...

Speaking of Mr-is-he-or-isn't-he-23? - FOURTH in the MVP voting?

What the hell?

 
At 5/08/2006 11:54 AM, Blogger Joey said...

"The hell" is that the media fucked the shit up last year when it picked Nash and sort of had to pick him again this year when D'Antoni's system produced similar results.

 
At 5/08/2006 12:28 PM, Blogger Nate said...

Yeah the media fucked up big time on that one! I can't stand Marc Stein! He'll vote for Nash every year until he retires. What irks me even more is that Nash is one of only 9 guys to win back to back MVPS. There is no way he belongs in this class of: Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Moses Malone, Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. Sorry, he's good, but not that good. And before he came to the Suns, was even considered a hall of fame canidate. I mean KJ, Tim Hardaway, and Mark Price all had similar careers to Nash up to this point, yet you'll never here them mentioned as hall canidates...

 
At 5/08/2006 12:28 PM, Blogger Nate said...

*hear

 
At 5/08/2006 12:36 PM, Blogger GentleWhoadie9000 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 5/08/2006 12:40 PM, Blogger GentleWhoadie9000 said...

futuristxen said:
And all the bullshit about playing the right way for a team that constantly cries to the refs, cries to opponents, enjoys showing up opponents, is not above the kidney punch as an ends to a mean--if ever there was a wrong way to play the "right way" the pistons are it.


With a startling few exceptions, these are the rules:

Every team is full of jerks (everybody on those teams makes millions for putting a biscuit in a basket and being tall). Every team commits petty fouls and whines to the refs. Every team plays dirty. Every team has at least one guy with a criminal history.

The best teams are the ones who make the negatives work for them. Look at all the most recent "dynasties": The 80s Celts were full of hacks like McHale and Parrish. Did the 80s Lakers get called "showtime" for not showing up their opponents? The early 90s Pistons were the 00s Pistons only with 10x worse of an attitude, Lambeer, Rodman and better guard play. The mid-90s Rockets had Vernon Maxwell. The 90s Bulls had the most likeable/most dislikeable character in basketball history- MJ, plus a sidekick who refused to take crucial shots in crunchtime, not to mention Rodman again. The 00s Lakers had Kobe, and we don't need to revisit that here.

What you should be whining about is that your team is too pussy and too likeable to be successful in the L.

 
At 5/08/2006 12:49 PM, Anonymous Griffin said...

The picture of the Beatles makes me think of the following:

Michael is The Beatles
Record executives will always be searching for the Next Beatles, and they will promote some bands as the New Beatles, but time will always correct these greedy errors. Neither will ever be knocked off the mountain top because no one will ever be better.

LeBron is Oasis
Being measured against the best can provide short term glory, as we - the public - try to recapture the past (can you sing the words to "Wonderwall?"). But the public who deemed you the Second Coming will eventually damn you to hell for being a two-bit impressionist. LeBron is writing "Champaign Supernova" as I write this.

Kobe is Radiohead
Kobe is openly shitting on Jordan's model. He's distorting the vocals, playing them backwards, giving them slow when they want fast, giving them down when they want up. He's saying, "I don't care if I fail. I'm not Michael Jordan and I don't want to be." And by rebelling from Jordan he will become more like Jordan, just like Radiohead is to The Beatles.

 
At 5/08/2006 1:52 PM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

Anybody who saw that over-the-shoulder backwards oop that Sheed fed to Dice and can still hate on the Pistons is a little dead inside.

 
At 5/08/2006 1:56 PM, Blogger Mirabeau Lamar said...

Steve Nash is Dave Matthews Band.
Beloved by the white middle class, who see in him something that he doesn't quite represent. Yet, in spite of his fans, his music is actually pretty good, just not quite at the Radiohead level.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas is Hank Williams, Jr.
Bearded, burly and intimdidating, though not quite as original or serious as you would think for a man with his genetic inheritance. Perhaps a one-trick pony (i.e. Are You Ready for Some Football?/'05 All-Star Game)?

Scottie Pippen is Nick Lachey.
Great talent, but not quite as impressive without his better half, who thrust him into the national spotlight in the first place. Post-breakup image based on sympathy and sex appeal (Rolling Stone cover/Pirate earring?).

 
At 5/08/2006 2:01 PM, Blogger Vegan Viking said...

Pippen's '93-94 season--without Jordan--was a work of art. I've never seen greater versatility in a basketball player than he showed that season.

 
At 5/08/2006 2:06 PM, Blogger Mirabeau Lamar said...

That's true. That season was unbelievable. Hopefully, Nick's upcoming album, "Soulo," will be able to match that season in terms of greatness. If not, my analogy breaks down. However, the similarities between both "country boys" are striking, even to the pedestrian observer. Lachey played great "team" and "individual" ball, whether it was with 98 degrees or his groundbreaking solo efforts (see his single, "This I Swear," which still draws significant radio play).

 
At 5/08/2006 2:40 PM, Blogger Joey said...

Comparing Scottie Pippen, one of the 50 greatest players of all time, to Nick Lachey, a worthless nobody, might be the most insulting thing I have ever read. Scottie was the prototypical SF and, in many ways, he was the guy who made versatility at the 3 such an important part of NBA basketball today. I'm not saying Scottie was the originator of his style, but he helped refine it: he had the skills of a point guard, he could play a one-man zone, he was a fantastic finisher, he added range and was willing to shoot the big three. In 93-94, he should have been the MVP and the guy was a bullshit Hugh Hollins call away from carrying his team to the Eastern Conference Finals. On top of that, Michael never won shit without Scottie. I am going to stop now because I don't have the hours I need to due the man justice, but don't front on Scottie like that. The dude is a legend.

 
At 5/08/2006 2:42 PM, Blogger Joey said...

do*

 
At 5/08/2006 2:51 PM, Blogger Mirabeau Lamar said...

Joey, Lachey is not worthy to carry Pippen's weed for him, let alone his trophies, but the analogy lay in the relationship to another, not in terms of actual mano e mano excellence. I may need to start using a sarcasm disclaimer in my posts, just in case any Ilgauskas partisans come out of the woodwork, what with their centuries of ethnic violence and blood vendettas.

 
At 5/08/2006 2:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pippen more like Paul McCartney ex-Beatles eom

 
At 5/08/2006 3:00 PM, Blogger T. said...

I thought we were staying away from NBA players = musical archtypes around these parts . . . and then I see Pippen=Lachey? Well, I guess boy bands really aren't music per se.

 
At 5/08/2006 3:03 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

no offense, griffin, but those comparisons are butt. first, kobe obviously wanted to be michael jordan, and is only now realizing maybe he can't be. also, the beatles DID distort the vocals, play them backwards, etc. "tomorrow never knows" alone trumps radiohead's entire catalog. thirdly, comparing lebron to oasis does extreme injustice to his potential to be GOAT. i'm starting to fear that lebron's sense of entitlement may derail the train to his destiny. in that way, he may be the new york dolls, i.e., too much, too soon.

 
At 5/08/2006 3:21 PM, Blogger mutoni said...

I don't know about the rest of you, but I simply can't get myself to care as much as these playoffs (or the NBA, in general)after Tim fucking Thomas hit that three at the end of regulation in game 6 and after Gilbertology choked at the line. Too much devastation, too soon.

Nothing that happens from now on will top the Cavs/Wiz and Suns/Lakers series in terms of theater, individual greatness (I'm pretty sure 'Bron is done for the season), utter and complete insanity (see Bell, Raja and his mom) and heartbreak. So, why bother?

Bring on the preseason!

 
At 5/08/2006 3:41 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

mutoni, i think shoals would agree with you, but as someone else said, as long as shaun livingston is playing, i'm sailing with the clippers.

ahoy!

 
At 5/08/2006 3:46 PM, Blogger mutoni said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 5/08/2006 3:47 PM, Blogger mutoni said...

Shaun's my man, but I'm afraid to watch that series and see Nash do to him what he did to Smush. That would simply be the end of me.

*is it immature to wish bodily harm upon whoever voted Nash ahead of Bryant, James, Nowitzki and Billups for MVP?*

 
At 5/08/2006 4:11 PM, Anonymous aug said...

If anyone has read a comment of mine before, they know i'm salivating at the thought of watching diaw and livingston. Seriously, i'm rooting for cassell to get injured right away so livingston can step in and become a man in front of me. Is he ready yet? No, but i can dream. I'm still not ready for diaw vs. livingston. I need to go lie down.

 
At 5/08/2006 4:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. i'm with the scottie lovers, believe he helped MJ as much as MJ helped him. i also don't think jordan was greatest player ever -- it's like thinking that U2 is the greatest rock band ever -- um, no, they may be close to the beatles, stones, zep, who(ever), but they really benefit from having the stage pretty much to themselves as far as supergroups went/go in the 90s/00s.

2. the pistons as perfect machine, sum greater than parts, is about right. the genius is that someone recognized it would work even if you weren't building around one superstar (could have been luck). BUT rasheed had been a legit superstar -- scottie helped him almost get to the finals, but that was sheed's team -- can still roughly equal duncan when he gets his mojo going. the fact that he's willing to defer now is admirable, but i think you can't ignore what sheed was in assessing the pistons (none of the other pistons were stars before getting there).

3. if it's just duncan's supporting cast, as someone put it, doesn't that mean duncan's the man in a way almost no one else has been? (MJ had scottie, shaq had kobe, etc.) i don't necessarily buy it, but that's where the argument leads.

 
At 5/08/2006 4:44 PM, Anonymous Griffin said...

Recluse, I realize my comparisons aren't all encompassing, but I think they make my point.

I stand by Michael as The Beatles. LeBron as Oasis is overly judgmental on my part, but again, I think it makes my point. He's following in the footsteps instead of trying to blaze his own path.

Kobe is the opposite. He has blazed his own path and has become more than The Next Jordan. That's where greatness is (and I don't mean greatness as success) and that's how Jordan became great, by being his own man and clearing his own path. It just so happens that when Radiohead went experimental it mirrored The Beatles trip. Likewise, I think if Kobe stops trying to be like Jordan, he will actually find a greatness similar to Jordan's.

 
At 5/08/2006 4:47 PM, Blogger Josh said...

I just hope STAT doesn't end up being the Stone Roses.

 
At 5/08/2006 5:36 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Anon, I don't think the MJ-U2 analogy works if you're focussing on having the stage to oneself. There's a reason Barkley, Stockton, Malone, Ewing don't have a ring and Robinson and Drexler only won it when MJ was gone (or didn't play the whole season), and it's not that they weren't good competition. MJ had the whole Dream Team to go up against (minus Scottie of course).

And as far as Rasheed goes, I wouldn't say that he is willing to defer now. Rather, with him the problem has been to get him not to defer and play like the star that his skill set allows him to be. Like KG's nasty twin...

 
At 5/08/2006 5:58 PM, Anonymous aug said...

The only thing i wish was different for jordan, was top notch competition at the 2 spot for jordan to score on/guard. John starks my ass.

 
At 5/08/2006 6:08 PM, Blogger Joey said...

Rasheed might have the most natural ability of any forward in the league since Kemp and before Amare. I know that Duncan is better, Garnett gets more pub for his versatility and all that. But when you think about it, Rasheed's range is a legitimate 25'; he was and can still be devestating in the paint when he's concentrating; he gets off the floor quickly--one of the quickest jumpers I can remember, especially on second jumps in a particular sequence; he really understands the game; he's a willing passer; and his post defense is fantastic--he blocks shots, fights for position, uses an offensive player's momentum against him. My primary criticism of Sheed, aside from when he turns into Out of His Fucking Mind Sheed and does something stupid, is that he's lazy when boxing out. It makes me sick when he turns Jeff Foster into an all-star.

Sheed could have been in the hall of fame. Easily. But he never put up the numbers because he's not selfish and he was never on winning teams. Until now, and it's likely too late since he has a bad rep and the Pistons are lauded for being a team.

 
At 5/08/2006 7:53 PM, Anonymous Torgo said...

I think I might have a kindred spirit in Joey. Voltron=Pistons was beautiful, as long as we can leave out the annoying kid in the green lion. God, I hated him.

I have a love hate thing with Sheed. He's definitely the voice of the team, if not its soul (the soul could be kind of a Elias/Barnse-ian struggle between Big Ben and Sheed, quiet strength vs. outright insanity), but it's true, his potential was so great. He could still be a dominant player, but he tries to play away from his strengths. Yes, he can hit from outside, but in the post, he's unstoppable. I see him settle for long jumpers or threes, filling the box with 1-10s and 2-13s, when if he just got his butt down to the post, he'd go 7-10, 8-12, and get the FTs to boot. But, admittedly, the Pistons don't need that.

And futuristxen, who do you want to hit here, because it's not the Pistons. I agree with the rebuttals that have gone before, but man, your rage is a bit excessive.

Bulls as imperfect sum is better than the parts?

 
At 5/08/2006 8:10 PM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

I appreciate shoals anger at those who one day trash kobe for passing and the next for not. However, it really did look like he had given up in game 7, and not trying is something that all athletes get criticism about. I don't buy that he was just trying to stay in the gameplan. He wasn't running around, racking up assists and creating shots for his teammates. the offense didn't go through him to other people like it had earlier in the series. Instead, the offense went completely around him, with his seeming consent, for 2 quarters. He just didn't touch the ball.

We came to bury kobe, not to praise him.

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


And futuristxen, who do you want to hit here, because it's not the Pistons. I agree with the rebuttals that have gone before, but man, your rage is a bit excessive.


The urge to scream out over the oceans of praise being sung forth about the Pistons is a strong one. I find they still reek of the stench of Brown. They get the best of both sides of every arguement. Four of their Five starters make the all-star team, and yet they are said to be a team of no stars. There is a sentiment that they are a sum greater than their parts. Like if somehow the Lakers got rid of Kobe, and all banded together to play "team" basketball, they'd win the West outright. This team was made by the gifting of Rasheed Wallace from the Hawks upon the Pistons.

The modern day equivelent would be Dallas getting Artest for a few second rounders.

I'm a fan of Sheed. But I find the Ben Wallace praise to be the defensive version of the Steve Nash praise. I don't think Ben is the best defender named Wallace on the Pistons, let alone the defensive player of the year.

With Rip Hamilton, I think the mask has made me mistrust him. It's bad enough he plays the game like Reggie Miller. But that he does it behind a mask seems disingenious.

I just find the coverage of the Pistons and the rest of the NBA to be all out of wack.

The idea that the Mavericks could finish with a record close to that of the Pistons, and only have one all-star, and yet that all-star isn't even runner-up in the MVP voting...makes no fucking sense at all.

People like the Pistons because they feel that they invalidate individual greatness. At least on an unconcious level. There's no radical artistry with the Pistons. Now that they've essentially tamed Rasheed, it's just the constant drone of the machine. The Pistons are the team for engineering minded people. The Spurs are still using the star system, whether people want to admit it or not(it was spot on to say they are a well run Heat or Sonics organization).

I watch basketball to have my imagination challenged, to have my vocabulary changed, to revel in the achievements of the individual over the collective. It's an inspiring sport. The Pistons for me are the antithesis of this. And anytime they play I feel like I am rooting for the soul of the game. That if they Pistons continue to succeed, they'll eliminate the Kobe Bryants, the Lebron James, the Dwayne Wades.

And Lebron James is The Clash. An amalgmation of great influences, that occasionally finds it's own brilliance rise above them.

It's hard to fit Kobe into a comparison with Jordan and Lebron, because there really is no relation between Kobe and Lebron and Jordan. There is a Jordan-Kobe relation. And a Lebron-Jordan relation. But never do the two meet. I think for Lebron Jordan is just one of his influences. But considering his age, he's as apt to have patterened his game after Penny and Grant Hill than he did from Jordan. Or even Scottie Pippen. Lebron isn't old enough to have seen Jordan in flight. Kobe is.

 
At 5/08/2006 9:25 PM, Anonymous Torgo said...

futuristxen, I fully agree that the all-star thing was a bit off. It was the coaches rewarding guys they wanted to coach, saying to the league, "damn, I wish my players would be like that." were they all bonafide all-stars this year? I wouldn't say so. Definitely Chauncey, and Ben. I'd take Rip before Sheed this year. The coaches were making a statment with their bench votes, at least, that's my theory.

In a way, though, the team vs star issue was laid out for all to see. When the four pistons (plus pierce, of all people, being a perfect stand in for Prince, with the added benefit of consistancy) were on the floor, they dominated the West, which at best was playing a two man game. I know that the all star game is a festival of offense, and one on one, and that there's no "real" practice, that the teams are together for a weekend of partying at best, but damn, the Pistons showed that they could beat the best the west had to offer, even if they were no where near as talented. And I guess that's why they're anti-Darko... damn.

Last thing, about that mask: The man wears it because he has almost no cartilege in his nose. His next broken nose will end his career. How he get his nose broken (what, two, three times)? Working damn hard. We respect AI for playing when he should be in a MASH unit, and Wade with his fall down/get up bit, what about Rip?

Word Verification: qexvjnew Varejao is the new Quixote. You saw it here first.

 
At 5/08/2006 10:23 PM, Blogger FuzzyDementia said...

A case could easily be made that if the five fingers of the Piston fist were amputated and re-attached to various less inclined extremities across the L, each would boast bulkier stats and more pronounced individual accolades. These five parts may not be freakish, magic or athletic testaments to what the game allows, but after being cast off and united as one, each would now glow as a tempered brand if left to fend for themselves on some barren roster. That's the beauty of the Pistons. They were scattered embers brought together to a flame and are one mind and body breathing and thinking and moving.

Anyone who balls should feel the greatest rush while up against it, while looked down upon, not supposed to win or compete but doing it anyway, doing what shouldn't be done and drawing it up from the heart. Detroit had it's greatest gleam when they were upstarts and dismissed, and utterly, utterly dominant. Now that they sit upon a summit it is justification, which is pleasant sans fierce.

It's a shame some can't see the stars within the star.

 
At 5/08/2006 11:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just thinking, a great and childish way to run the NBA play-offs as truly a league of stars, would be that the winning team in each series may select one player from the losing team to add to its roster, but only for the immediate next round. For example, Right now we'd be watching Phoenix with Lamar playing the Clips with Carmelo. After that, we might see Clips back with Lamar playing Dallas and Duncan, or Phoenix with Elton Brand playing San Antonio with Nowitzki. The east would be even more exciting, as the two headed Gilbert Arenas, Lebron James monster could easily ravage the Pistons plus Redd, but then without Arenas for the finals, the Heat + Kidd would become Heat + Lebron.

I'm not saying this is realistic, I'm just saying it'd be a lot of fun.

 
At 5/09/2006 12:56 AM, Anonymous bayaz said...

All this bitching about the league, the Pistons, Spurs, etc, really confuses me and makes me think of this great interview with Deleuze about Foucault. I don’t have it lying around, so I can’t quote it verbatim, but the gist is that D. is critiquing the idea that we as readers can accept and reject Foucault’s works at will, indicating perhaps that he finds this to be the mark of a small mind, i.e. a mind unable to grasp the totality of the work/project that was all of Foucault’s oeuvre. I think this is an odd point given the anti-totalizing concepts Deleuze was the master propagandist for, but it’s still useful and it seems to me that we can see this here and elsewhere with the Pistons hatred, the anti-team consensus. If the game is going to be privileged as the least structural, most flowing, open-ended game, one where a complex set of forces can collide in chaotic and feedbacking patterns of omni-change, why can’t we look at the league in the same way? It should be obvious that there are structural shifts and arcs in the way the game’s played, but why is this a bad thing? It’s this flow itself that gives the game its drama as teams/styles fade/ascend as they finally figure their opponents out and invent the new techniques/tactics or just plain greatness (possibly Lebron), that enable them to bypass these obstacles. If Lebron really turns out to be your Nietzschean transvaluer, then this act will only be further strengthened in reference to and through its immediate on-court relation to its polar opposite, i.e. the team game as we see it with the Pistons. This is an era like any other, and I think if you aren’t appreciating it you probably just aren’t looking in the right places or in the right way. (No Zep was not the end of all possible good music, keep digging, change your ears.)

And this whole Pistons = The Machine business is just a bunch of bullshit. The Pistons aren’t the machine, they’re a fucking commune, universal love, shared duties, people don’t know their PLACE but instead a contributive zone that is self-constructed. Flip’s not the BOSS, he’s just another piece of the free floating always changing puzzle. Pistons = Rhizome. I think viewing them as a return to the past, as the return of a lost communal aesthetic that’s missing in modern life totally misses the point because the sort of community they represent hasn’t ever functionally existed as a social or political reality (at the macro level). They aren’t Hoosiers, but the Lebronian (as argued here) equivalent of the team game, renewing it without a RETURN.

 
At 5/09/2006 2:21 AM, Blogger GentleWhoadie9000 said...

futuristxen, that was not an argument, it was an irrational rant born out of who the fuck knows what. what are you even talking about? what's your beef? they win games. they don't have stars. so what?

all this sounds to me like somebody without a decent team to root for. would you be disappointed if you were a pistons fan? hell no. they win. isn't that what a team is supposed to do. fuck the style over substance argument on this one. that's sideline rap fan, ironic ghostface listening-assed, college boy po-mo bullshit. if sheed doesn't commit 30 techs in a year, i don't think that makes downgrades him in my pantheon of heroes. they won a championship and went to the finals, that's what a basketball team is SUPPOSED to do.

did joe dumars date rape your grandmother? what did the pistons do to get you so up in arms. jeezus.

word verification: idphlvr
translation: illadelph lover

true indeed

 
At 5/09/2006 4:03 PM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...

Bayaz:

Lots of good stuff to think about in that post. I'm all twisted over the Pistons. One of the compelling aspects of Jordan's Bulls was the individual brilliance of many players totally contained within perfectly functioning team structure. It was a large part of what made me appreciate basketball. I actually approved of their complete control of the game because something so beautiful should prevail. I should, therefore, celebrate the Pistons and their dominance. They should be everything you say they are. But there is something to me ugly about their game that I haven't yet been able to articulate to myself. Their anti-aesthetic makes me dismiss them and simply want them out of League where I no longer have to see or hear about them. Perhaps I'm merely a hater, but whatever it is that I find so grotesque about their game nullifies everything you say about them that should be true.

 
At 5/10/2006 12:36 PM, Anonymous David Soll said...

As a fan of the rhetorical slant usually taken on freedarko, it bothers me to see Dr. Lawyer IndianChief assume a pejorative stance to intertextuality. If the doctor is unwilling to take on fully the Lacanian/post-structural mantle of every statement beginning as a response to the Other, it seems to me that recognition is at least in order for the dialectical approach taken in some of the finer posts on this blog.

One of my favorites in recent months, Science and The Bible (4.18.2006) by SilverBird5000 walked this line admirably. SilverBird's piece proceeded as a deconstruction of various thinkers' approaches to the MVP question and it amounted to a reduction of each from its tacit claim to "objective determinacy," while still voicing a strong, "independent" opinion that contributed to the debate's overall language-game. This, to me, is the uniquely freedarko contribution to sports blogging, and I hope it isn't being brushed aside by the doctor in his rush to slam "post-colonial literature class".

There is, I'd like to think, a middle ground between a total "death of the author," Foucauldian paralysis and a more careful, complex approach to the intertextuality of opinion formation. The doctor claims to prefer blogs which can be appreciated in "isolation" - well, to me this sounds like a dismissal of what attracts me to freedarko in the first place. It is claims to isolation, not isolation itself (which I really do think is a fiction), that allows analysis to take over the game and constitute an unfree Darko. If what you're looking for is isolated claims to objective determinacy, nearly every other sports thinker in the country is already doing this, and their perpetual failure seems to (at least in part) have been the impetus for this far more compelling blog.

 

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