Pursuant of feelings

You could call me a scienceless monster, and I would wonder exactly what you picture when you say that. And then I would still relate the following anecdote to you, leaving you to judge for yourself who carries the lambs in this family.

This past week, Deadspin posted a link to a certain imaginary account of Len Bias's retirement. I found it quite moving, and left said gentleman a comment in which I expressed my admiration and further wept on the subject of this century's most powerful loss. If I ever came into possession of a time machine, after going back and pulling out Hitler's bladder with a fiery hoof, I would tend to the fancy business of saving Bias's life. I didn't feel like this in March, and I might not later this year, but for now that's where my priorities come to rest.

It then occurred to me that the entire universe labors under a central misconception about Bias's cocaine-induced passing. I attempt to share this on this dude's blog, but it has since disappeared from his comments section. Thus, it's getting its own post in the land of FD.

Although Bias is looked upon as a youthful tragedy, he's also been taken as an anti-drug poster child, with no less decent a writer than Bomani Jones having cast his death as the day casual coke use died. Compared to Reggie Lewis or Hank Gathers, whose untimely, cardiac-related ends were martyrdom at its most pure, Bias's legacy always has an undercurrent of darkness. His fate was the direct result of irresponsible behavior; it may have been the eighties, but a man who od's is surely in the throes of an especially sinister drive. Maybe he did too much that night, maybe he'd worn out over time, in either case Bias succumbed to his own demons.

Now, I'm not here to extol drug use, or try to downplay what the world learned from this most unfortunate of events. We need to be honest, though, about what Bias's overdose actually tells us about just how "guilty" he was for his own death. In some ways, Bias was as much a victim of congenital make-up as Lewis or Gathers. Granted, he opted to dabble in the white while his brothers in doom made no such risky decision. At the same time, however, the amount of cocaine it takes to fry a man's heart varies greatly from body to body. In elementary school, we were all scared stiff by the notion that under no uncertain terms, yoru first line of yay could drop you right then and there. It was Russian Roulette of the most bleak variety, a drug seemingly predestined to kill certain unwitting party-goers.

While this take was predictably histrionic, it is true that cocaine's ability to slaughter defies any across-the-board rhyme or reason. Overindulgence can go on unabated for decades, or suddenly decide one day to overwhelm a user who has settled into a comfortable routine. This could involve less than usual as readily as it could more, and Simmons is woefully misinformed if he feels some deep-seeded need to picture Bias reenacting the end of Scarface. Doing lots of the shit is still a bad idea, but a fate like Bias's is by no means proof of addiction or sickening hedonism. In fact, had Bias been born with a slightly different heart, the NBA might have had an altogether different, less complex, patron saint of coke and consequence.


At 6/21/2006 9:00 PM, Blogger GentleWhoadie9000 said...

yeah, I don't really think Bill Simmons is the guy to rhapsodize puritanical about llello. Maybe if Bias had drowned in a swimming pool full of jello shots.

At 6/21/2006 10:26 PM, Anonymous bublitchki said...

Aside from its tragic archetypical symbolism, or its utilitarian value to the "Just Say No" camp, Bias' death had (to this Boston-hating Knicks fan, anyway) a far more resonant significance: a merciful end to the enduring legend of Celtic invulnerability.

Following a childhood in which I watched Celtic championships recur with the monotonous, non-changing repetition of a Hanna-Barbara cartoon backdrop to a young adulthood in which I saw them reserve Larry Bird using a throwaway draft pick the year before he was eligible to graduate, I came to believe that Red Auerbach had divined a way to circumvent the traps that routinely ensnare the other, mortal denizens of the NBA universe.

Boston's selection of Bias - whose extra-Terrapinestrial exploits had me both bedazzled and convinced of the inevitability of his NBA dominance - just seemed like more of the same... until his untimely death shortly thereafter, that is.

At the time, I felt rather ashamed that I did not share in the sporting world's grief at the tragedy of such a talented young athlete's passing. Nor did I feel the sense of gravitas suggested by those who eulogized his death as a cautionary tale. No, all I felt was relief that the cosmic arrow of the basketball gods had, at long last, found its way into the soft flesh of the Celtic Achilles heel.

Of course, I kept such unwholesome thoughts to myself, believing that they rendered me somewhat less than human. Until one day in the mail I received a postcard from a friend, a fellow Knick fan, who was travelling in Prague at the time. On the back was written just one line, which read: "Finally! A crack in Red Auerbach's crystal ball!"

wv: frpmclh; Free Paddy McIlhenny -this site's counterpart for the hurling set.

At 6/22/2006 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that whole article's just your long way of saying dwyane sucks, right?

At 6/22/2006 9:49 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i am not a venomous man. i just don't want to have wade shoved down my throat every day for the next fifty years.


At 6/22/2006 10:34 AM, Blogger Gregg said...

Larry Brown just got fired. Get ready to hear about that for a while instead of D-Wade.

At 6/22/2006 10:45 AM, Blogger Joey said...

I just want to say one thing after reading this:



The Knicks hate me. Like, they REALLY hate me.

Thanks for letting me do that.

At 6/22/2006 10:55 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

expect the official freedarko take on the situation later today, once we remember that

1) the knicks are still in the league
2) larry brown is the most high-profile jew in american sports

At 6/22/2006 11:16 AM, Blogger Joey said...

I foresee a 7-72 campaign during which the Knicks use 79 starting lineups and run the crunch-time offense through a paragon of offensive production like Malik Rose.

As for Larry taking an L for the Chosen People, this likely makes him available to appear as a special guest and morose, uninspirational speaker on the Fall bar mitzvah circuit:

Well, Daniel, as we stand here today and you become a bar mitzvah, joining your community as a Jewish man, I want you to remember a few things. You are eventually going to die. You'll likely suffer along the way--through arthritis, isolation plays, and Allen Iverson. If you're lucky, you'll meet some younger chick who will give you an infant child as you push 60 or beyond. You'll suffer through the indignity of having to coach LeBron and Amare and Dwyane and The Matrix. It will be the sort of torture that might lead you to criticize everyone whom you've ever met. Publicly. And on top of all that, you probably won't even get a decent bagel anywhere unless you're living in New York or L.A.

Great job on that Torah portion.

At 6/22/2006 11:41 AM, Anonymous np said...

Of course, the Brown firing makes this a lot more amusing. I'm just hoping that Starbury despises Isiah more than he despised Larry Brown last season. At least that way I'll have more intra-Knicks jousting to read about in the Daily News: you need something to fill the subway commute.

At 6/22/2006 1:02 PM, Blogger T. said...

Just dropping in to say I love the Roy Tarpley card. He was the originator of the new school power forward. How sad was it in 2000, when on a trip to see a young Yao Ming, and noticing a familar goggle-wearing power forward laboring up and down the court. The player I feared the most as a young Laker fan was now reduced to grabbing rebounds in an unheated Shanghai gym to get his basketball fix.

At 6/22/2006 1:55 PM, Blogger GentleWhoadie9000 said...

re: Shoals claiming LBrown as the most high profile Jew in American sports
[buzzer noise]

I can rattle off a good list of people in Basketball whom one could argue, have higher profile:

Mark Cuban
David Stern
Red Auerbach

Not to mention, if we're talking all of sports, there might be some Sandy Koufax/ Theo Epstein/ Pete Sampras action in there. That being said, LB is a pretty serious force, despite being delusional.

At 6/22/2006 3:06 PM, Anonymous Natural Oils said...

Is Pete Sampras a Greek Jew?

At 6/22/2006 3:31 PM, Blogger T. said...

Don't forget Danny Schayes!

At 6/23/2006 9:45 PM, Blogger there is no you or me without Suomi said...

or Matt Geiger!

wv: gtsag (get trashed, sodomize a goat)

At 6/25/2006 10:13 AM, Anonymous jon corzine said...

larry brown became a caricature of a coach a few years back .. probably starting post-philly and right around athens. he was all madness, no method. his coaching 'style' was to sublimate his players to his ego in any way possible . .. i hate to say it but he was always overrated - by a wide margin - and is teetering on becoming a has-been in the new, more player-friendly nba.

every idiot is predicting an apocalyptic season for the knicks, which is pretty much proof enough for me to believe that they'll improve, possibly in dramatic fashion. it's like they say with stocks - once the sentiment is unanimous, the trend is over. the case against isiah is overstated on false premises - he wouldn't be so vilified if we weren't coming off an absurd 23-win season in which larry brown suddenly forgot how to coach in an effort to eventually take over the entire franchise. give it until the middle of next year to determine whether he's headed in the right direction.

i'm also starting to believe that, outside of magic johnson and jim dolan, the basketball establishment really doesn't like isiah so much. especially the media. they've been a little softer on him as a coach, but he was doing well there .... it's just a point of interest to me that some guys like bird (and his boy carlisle), mchale (well him to a lesser degree), ainge, get much more rope. dumars certainly earned it, but he's also party to one of the biggest personnel errors of our generation in the 2003 draft.

whatever ... i'm not a huge isiah guy, but i really believe that the anti-isiah sentiment is a little overdone. heaven forbid he takes over and NY start winning .. then what will everyone say? what will the larry brown cult of personality/apologist crew have to say about that one .... i'm actually hoping it happens just to make things more interesting in that corner of the basketball world ...

At 6/25/2006 12:03 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

jon, i couldn't agree with you more on LB. even toward the end of his tenure in philly he was displaying the kind of rank egotism that got him where he is today. unfortunately, anyone you say this to will point to that fucking pistons title, as well as to their failure to push through this year. i wish there were some way to explain all that away.

both dlic and simmons have pointed out that isiah is a fantastic draft guy, and he could hardly be blamed exclusively for the immaturity of those pacers teams. he certainly didn't do anything to remedy what layden left him, but as you point out, he's hardly the only big name gm to make some huge mistakes.

if they'd really wanted someone to clean things up in a responsible manner, they should've tried some moneyball-ish route, not bringing in a guy who, as with most former stars, can get easily seduced by the should-be talent. and let's not underestimate how much the knicks had been reduced to a personal battle between thomas and brown, so that some of isiah's decisions might have, on some level, just been meant to show brown who ran shit.

plus they are in great shape to nab someone huge in the next couple of years.


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