6.21.2006

Faith is the ultimate weapon



In the interest of this Great FreeDarko Awakening I'm currently trying to foment, here's something to munch on. This is in a paper that, at least technically, is a big one in a major city; I'm hardly about to get behind The Washington Times as an entity, but when this column is being pressed up by the thousands, there must be something in the air. Credit due to The Big Lead for making me notice it.

This is one of the numerous occasions on which I have refrained from using a photo that involved a monkey, since the danger it posed to international race relations was far too dire. Know then, that there is an image quite similar to what follows that has a funny chimp in it, and I would have posted it in an instant had it not left me open to accusations of calling Arenas a monkey. Such is my concern for the ultimate fate of this planet's communal welfare.

. . . but when this column is being pressed up by the thousands, there must be something in the air.



Despair not, the bone-smushing treatises will return soon enough. Consider this our one-day freak out, transition into off-season, vacation, whatever.

Actually, before the deluge, let me clarify what this post is all about. I've grudgingly admitted that Wade is the best we've got in this league. I would, however, rather inhabit a realm where there exist some wacky criteria by which one could at least make an argument for Arenas, even if it requires burning up every once of credibility and running through a lifetime's worth of faith's fuel. I don't know how I feel about appealing to an elemental basketball argument, but there is certainly room to invoke FreeDarko's trademark subjective/objective split. As a subjective force, beheld by subjective minds, Arenas could very well have an advantage over Wade. What that counts for is beyond me, though I hope that some day, a paradise will dawn in which these efforts will be proven to have been anything but futile.

15 Comments:

At 6/21/2006 1:17 PM, Blogger GentleWhoadie9000 said...

Shoals,
fuck it. You don't need to explain yourself. You don't have to like Wade. Barry Bonds was the best hitter in baseball for 5 years. I fucking hated the guy (for reasons easier to define than those relevant for Wade-hating). Furthermore, you don't have to accept Wade as the best player in the league if you don't want to. Part of being a sports fan is rooting not just for players or teams, but rooting for the achievement of an ideal state in the game. And rationality has no place in that process.

We root for close games. We root for underdogs. We pull for the home team. We want to see Antoine Walker dribble the ball out of bounds. We want to see team basketball. We want selfish stars to replicate the feats of dead heroes. We need more representative statistics. We debate endlessly, and in the process, nobody can predict the outcomes absolutely.

As much as FreeDarko struggles to fuse or separate the emotional and the rational, it's just as well that the means is an end unto itself. The sport will never achieve the ideal- which is a blend of fantasy and hagiographic hindsight- but it will constantly focus and refocus the minds eye in ceaselessly recreating that ideal.

Godspeed, offseason.

 
At 6/21/2006 1:35 PM, Anonymous Donnn Nelson said...

Remember the day after the '04 election when every Dem commentator had to wonder if the ideas that animated his existence were truly marketless, that it was Bush's world and we'd just have to live in it indefinitely? Yeah.

The "day after" is a tough day for the FD ethos but don't let it take you down rashly chosen roads. Wade is in some sense "better" than Arenas results-wise, but he depends on extrinsic forces (Shaq still commanding the double, being able to "draw a foul" by socking Dirk or getting Marquis to breathe on him as he goes up, the relative competency of the rest of the supporting cast) to exploit the skills he does have to the fullest.

Granting to Wade cosmic significance (as opposed to congratulating him on immediate triumph and leaving it at that) would concede what Simmons was on yesterday, that we're about to step back into the '90s. Once you concede that, the site ceases to exist.

As a dejected Mavs fan who didn't mind getting torn up by Amare a year ago nearly as much, all I've got today is FD and the idea that there is a community out there unwilling to concede Wade-ism as a model for the future. It feels like months ago that this site was dismissing a potential Spurs-Pistons II as without implication, as the New NBA was not built in a day. Worth remembering.

 
At 6/21/2006 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Arenas is a zombie?

;)

 
At 6/21/2006 1:58 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

no, this will our year and i'm stoked about it. and we are probably FD zombies for it.

 
At 6/21/2006 2:31 PM, Anonymous first-time poster said...

as they say in sports radio: long-time reader, first-time poster . . .

i think you and bill simmons are over-reacting for 2 reasons:

* despite wade's performance and ensuing adulation, there are a ton of very contemporary examples of high-scoring me-first little guys who will go nowhere unless they learn to pass more - iverson, marbury, arenas, etc.

(yes, as great as arenas is, at 6 '4 he will need to be more of a distributor or a secondary option in order to win. he cannot be the primary scorer).

hopefully these examples will counterbalance the wade effect

* lebron will win within the next 2 years and he is definitely more magig/bird than jordan

 
At 6/21/2006 2:38 PM, Blogger Captain Caveman said...

GW9000, beautifully stated.

Joga bonito, NBA.

 
At 6/21/2006 3:09 PM, Anonymous WhitePeopleDon'tKnow said...

It's interesting to watch Shoals, who seems to so little understand fandom that he is actively repulsed by it, struggle with the fact that he has a favorite player.

shoals, we do not begrudge you. If we did, we would not be here. Welcome to the human race.

 
At 6/21/2006 3:12 PM, Blogger Vegan Viking said...

It's boring to root for the best player in the league, isn't it? Unless he's on a team you've grown up loving, of course.

 
At 6/21/2006 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

not necessarily, and i think this is what shoals is on. if the best player is not simply just beating everyone else (wade) but playing the game like no one or few can, the joga bonito (LBJ)

 
At 6/21/2006 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to finish my thought: rooting for bron is not boring.

 
At 6/21/2006 4:37 PM, Anonymous Lucas said...

Amare is back next season boys. How about a true TEAM with a (most!?) dominant player. I hear he is going to be in the Vegas summer league puting up stats like 50/25/20. Watching him play with the scraps of every other team will be amusing for sure.

 
At 6/21/2006 4:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A quick thought before I return to obscurity.

I think the "problem" with Wade's game is that he should have become the "Next Isiah" and has somehow become the "Next Jordan" when we weren't looking.

As much as he has worked to destroy his legacy since retirement, Isiah was easily the most interesting star of Bird/Magic Renaissance Era. Isiah was a hateful little man with an insatiable drive who somehow become one of the best "team" players of all time. Though Isiah could win games by himself at times, he was never going to win a title unless that Pistons nine-man rotation was working properly.

Wade last night represented all that was wrong with Jordan's Bull's teams. Aside from Pippen in the Tonto role and the Grant/Rodman rebounding factor, the role of the rest of the Bulls was not to screw things up.

Watching a star player force the ball into the paint and get bailed out by the refs because his teammates are otherwise incapable of anything aside from throwing up bad three-pointers is sad. The fact that the Mavericks could not exploit this fact of the Heat's existence is worse.

My final point is that the league does not need or should not want the Next Jordan. Polytheism is always more interesting.

 
At 6/21/2006 8:31 PM, Anonymous Torgo said...

For the longest time, I resisted the dislike of Wade on this site. He is an electric player, I thought. And he can be, but how can you be excited for inexorability (if it's not a word, it should be)? Those step-back, pull up jumpers that you know are coming the second his man manages to stay in front of him? How can they be in the least bit exciting? The wrap around the whole mavs team in the post pass to Shaq? It was, to get all agenty, inevitable.

It doesn't help that Dirk's assault on Wade's forearm (or the Daniel's aura so flagrantly brushing against Wade's jetwash) was the worst call since Doug Christie's nose fouling Kobe's elbow back in the day. I'm not one to harp on refs, but damn, that was bad. There was a comment, maybe on Deadspin, or MJD, that if Wade self-called those fouls in a pickup game, the other team would argue so much, they'd never finish. I think differently here. If he called those fouls on his own, someone would show him what a foul was, and when he limped his way to the sidelines, maybe he'd get the message.

There is a point here, and it's why, I think, I don't like Wade now. He didn't call those fouls, but every time, he seemed to expect the whistle, looking to the ref after every shot. The refs, like trained dogs... well, y'know. Damn.

And Toine? With a ring? Mourning, the shell that White-Choco has become, and GP? Karma doesn't exist. It's a myth told by parents to trick children into doing "the right thing."

wv:gefefp To choke on gefilte fish while watching a ref call a ridiculous foul.

 
At 6/22/2006 1:10 PM, Blogger T. said...

Shoals -

I don't think you're quite alone in this. There was a long period of my life (1985 through oh, I don't know, 1998) where I refused to accept Jordan as the best player in the NBA. I - and probably legions of NBA fnas from Detroit to Seattle and everywhere in-between can understand it. Now, I certainly don't think Wade is NextJordan - but he's certainly at the very least choice 1c (if not 1b or 1a) in this current moment in time.

 
At 6/22/2006 5:59 PM, Blogger the_glide said...

Has the title "the next Jordan" taken a significance beyond its literal meaning? When we crown someone TNJ, are we really saying that Player X will play the game in a way that mirrors Jordan's? Does Player X have to shoot fade-aways and drive with his tongue sticking out? Does he have to put up numbers that resemble Jordan's? Does he have to learn the same progression of lessons that Jordan learned?

Or does crowning someone TNJ mean something far less literal? Understood that way, Player X could never really become like Jordan, but he could become TNJ. Is it a temporary title of honor bestowed on young great players? Could a PF or center ever be considered for TNJ status? What does it mean?

 

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