We're Lucky We Got Em

The kid Dr. Lawyer IndianChief aka Sam Ada is spreading Freedarko cheer into the public domain. I have authored today's FD McSweeney's installment as well as an editorial for Chicago Sports Review. Both make reference to Spike Lee, and both will hopefully signal my reentrance into the FD inner sanctum as a major contributor as bball season approaches.

I am not going to go into detail here, but the McSweeney's joint is a theological exploration of morality and humility, using the New York Knicks as a case study. On this very site, I have noted my high hopes for the NYK, yet fear 42 wins is all they can ask for....until eternity. The piece for CSR commemorates MJ's involvement in a seminal moment in television history.

I ask you kind readers to please stew upon these two pieces and ponder larger questions as the season inches closer. (A) Did Bonzi Wells ever exist? How prideful must the Sacramento Kings be to cut off talks with Bonzi, only to see him wander over to a Conference rival in the Rockets. This signing singlehandedly caused the Kings and Rockets to swap rankings/playoff spots. Say T-Mac is good for 63 games a season, say Yao is good for 72. Bonzi will CARRY them into the playoffs and beyond. (B) Are assistant coach/assistant GM positions at all meaningful? It seems to me they are based strictly on sentimentality. The hirings of such hometown heros as Moses Malone and Fred Hoiberg, both of whom are terribly underqualified for their jobs, suggests this is the case. (C) Can anyone with a solid conscience give Dwight Howard grief for his comments about the Magic "Winning a championship?" I was sickened to hear talk radio and writers slay him for his confident boasting. We are talking about a league that needs to get its swagger back, and God's son is just trying to play his role in the 21st century. We are just getting back into shape. Shoals has held you down for quite a summer....As training camps begin, these questions and others will be answered by us in full.


At 9/29/2006 1:35 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Great MJ/SNL piece. As far as your large questions go, I disagree a little bit on the first one. I don't believe that Bonzi Wells will be the deciding factor in a possible Rockets resurgence. Obviously, having an inside-ouside combination of Yao and T-Mac together for more than half of the season will make a huge difference. Also, the addition of Battier is a huge plus in my opinion, him chasing some of the better 2-guards and Nowitzki around so McGrady doesn't have to.

But think back to Shaq-Kobe (probably still the duo a healthy Yao and T-Mac compare most favoribly to) and their rotating third scoring options. With such a duo, the ideal complimentary player seems to be a great outside and/or spot-up shooter which Wells certainly isn't. And then you have Van Gundy who still hasn't figured out how to use Yao properly. So I'm not really convinced that JVG will be able to open up the offense for three guys who are most useful when they create themselves.

On the Kings' side I was very impressed with Kevin Martin last season. They still have Artest, Bibby, Miller, and Abdur-Rahim for a terrific starting five and Garcia, Salmons and Kenny Thomas are all servicable at worst. I just don't see them dropping out of the play-offs (with Houston or the Hornets replacing the sinking Memphis Grizzlies).

At 9/29/2006 1:45 PM, Anonymous Pichi Campana Aguanta said...

Wow DLIC. Well done all the way around. I salute your resurrection and commend your in-shape arrival to training camp.

I'm ready for hoops and I'm ready for words. This off-season has been way too long.

At 9/29/2006 2:27 PM, Anonymous TZ said...

Shane Battier is two to three times more significant than Bonzi. I'm not saying Bonzi isn't a good player (he is) or that Houston won't be great (they will be), but still. Bonzi played fair-to-good for half of a season and great for six games. He will make only slightly more a difference than Mike Finley did last year, and that might be from making Yao a little more ready to bang.

And yes, Kevin Martin. He is better than Bonzi right now.

At 9/29/2006 2:37 PM, Blogger T. said...

As for the Knicks piece, what can be said that hasn't already been said?

Wanting to toss my 2 fen into the picture, however, I'm coming close to agreeing with the conspiracy theorists who cliam Brown threw the season last year when he saw how terrible the team was. I think his constant lineup shifting and experiments (this was a man who played the same starting lineup with the Pistons every night) - ultimately cost the franchise another 10 wins. It's much like waiters in a socialist European country who intentionally sabotage things in order to get fired and go on the dole.

Larry Brown was pouring salt ontop of that souffle.

As for the SNL piece - excellent work, although I think you undersell LeBron's impact (and overestimate AI's ability to link with the larger audience. And Al Sharpton? I suspect Obama is much more SNL ready - but all that is long gone anyways. When was the last time SNL mattered?)

One final note, which isn't related to anything - the all-time best athlete appearance on SNL was Joe Montana uttering the words "I'm going upstairs to masturbate"

At 9/29/2006 3:58 PM, Anonymous Aaron said...

DLIC, as the token Orthodox Jew around here, I want to briefly note that the shtetl is losing/has already lost its cultural relevence to the Jews. Obviously accuracy must sometimes be sacrificed for poetry, and I understand your need for a metonymic companion for 'the hardwood', so I won't complain too loudly.

The McSweeney's piece in general, while overly dramatic, managed to frame a tired situation in new terms and I applaud you for it.

Nobody yet has managed to explain the sheer depths of idiocy the Knicks have sunk to in the past few years. I don't think we'll ever understand why Isiah and Dolan did as they did. But a story arc of foolish pride followed by anxious and clumsy attempts at atonement makes as much sense as any.

One thought I've entertained is that of the shadow cast over the New York sports scene by George Steinbrenner's example. The Wilpons have been forced to follow it, albeit sometimes clumsily, and the Rangers followed it for a while before the labor stoppage forced them to reconsider. The line we've heard repeatedly about the Knicks from Isiah is that New York won't tolerate a rebuilding process. Everyone here dismissed that as the bullshit it is, but perhaps Isiah got the idea from watching Steinbrenner at work? Perhaps his guiding principle has been that the only successful business model in New York sports is the Steinbrenner model?

Maybe the fundamental issue to be examined here is why the Steinbrenner model doesn't work in basketball as it does in baseball.

At 9/29/2006 4:25 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i don't know, i think that the shtetl has some resonance among cultural history types.

what fascinates me about the knicks piece, and why the theological angle makes so much sense, is that franchise management is often cast as a moral question. like because these teams mean so much to so many people, fucking them up is actually some sort of sin. when, in fact, it's simply stupid from a competitive standpoint and potentially and potentiall bad for business.

we've heard time and time again what a crime unto basketball it is that this team in particular is a mess; if there is such a thing as the NBA gods, certainly the knicks should bow down and atone. right?

At 9/29/2006 10:56 PM, Anonymous torgo said...

I'm going to go with Aaron on the slightly overblown approach to the Knicks. I just can't see those pieces coming together to create anything positive. Good chunks of the team are players that Paxson rightfully shed from the Bulls, the case could be made, in some ways, that Crawford, Rose, and Curry held back the Bulls from being they 'team' that they are now.

Philosophically speaking, I know I don't have a leg to stand on with that point. Just know I breathe a sigh of relief they aren't with the Bulls anymore. Yes, Crawford is good for one stunning night a year (40+ points, what have you) but he's good for at least ten games of outright selfish ballhogging/pouting.

More importantly, the shtetl thing. As a massively lapsed Jew (my college professor, a Catholic, once reminded me it was Yom Kippur as I was eating a cheeseburger for lunch), the one thing I really held onto from Judaism was the communal stories, the shared history. The shtetl was, even for a midwestern Jew in a community of 200 families in a city of 90,000, a touchstone. The stories, like Chelm, like the 36 Tzadikkim, the Golem, those are things that I still cherish, even though I haven't been to a synagogue in years.

And, uh, I'm guessing a number of you out there might appreciate this:
L'shannah Tovah

uh WV: yeawau... just creepy, really

At 9/30/2006 4:39 AM, Anonymous theItinerantSon said...

Kevin Martin's leading them in points next year.

At 9/30/2006 6:56 PM, Anonymous basketball tips said...

Bonzi is not all he's being made out to be. He's a decent player, and any decent player can play big in a good system with good teammates. He's not going to make or break a team. Period.

At 9/30/2006 10:33 PM, Anonymous Aaron said...

Torgo, I love the Chelm stories as much as you, I'm sure. But three of my grandparents were born in America, and the fourth moved to America when he was 12, in 1939. The connection to the shtetl lies four generations in the past. My parents can understand Yiddish but not speak it. I heard the stories of the Golem not from my grandparents but from books. Fiddler on the Roof is fun, but I don't get the same charge out of it that my parents do. The Jewish folklore of my childhood was Zionistic in nature.

My story, for my generation, is the rule, not the exception. It's not that our generation has forgotten the shtetl. And it still has some mileage, particular (as Shoals said) among the cultural history types. It's just no longer culturally particularly relevent.

At 10/02/2006 3:13 AM, Blogger mutoni said...

very good CSR piece. one thing i gotta point out though is that Lebron throws up the Dynasty sign not out of respect for Jigga but rather for his hometown of Akron, OH.

At 10/04/2006 12:41 PM, Blogger Stumbleweed said...

What does the Rocafella sign have to do with Akron, OH?


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