10.12.2006

Am I My Brother's Brother?


My colleague, Bethlehem Shoals, holds us down today over at McSweeney’s, where he takes the role of the recent historian, detailing the movement that has come to be known within the FD inner circle, as the Positional Revolution. This movement, in which centers have become play-making assist-guys in the post (cf. Vlade), power forwards have become obsessed with the three-ball, and point guards have become shoot-first dynamos, has been embraced by the league, but has yet to yield any team a championship. Shoals’ thesis, is that the next great step in this movement is for the positional revolution to be embraced at an organizational level, so that instead of one 6-foot-7 point guard or one 6-foot-9 center providing a mismatch, entire teams are engaged in this system of a madman’s logic. This Organizational Revolution, then, Shoals argues should yield greater success.

Although only time will tell, I am here to argue against such an organizational revolution (abbreviated: an OR), and furthermore to state that the Positional Revolution (PR) has largely been responsible for much of the league’s decline over the past few years. The PR, of course, is not unique to the NBA. Indeed, in the NFL and MLB, such movements have arisen as well, but through different means. In these leagues, the very scarcity of quality players at key positions, quarterback and ace starting pitcher, has led to entire offenses and pitching staffs, respectively, emerging as patchwork manifestations. Focusing on the NFL exclusively (baseball gets a bit complicated here), its OR arose due largely to the demise of the quarterback, as well as to the increased speed of defensive lineman (now with the agility of D-backs). The result was that the quarterback position itself, in terms of winning a championship, ultimately became meaningless. Post-St.Louis Rams of 2000, The Superbowl trophy has gone to the team with the most dominant defense, as exemplified by the 2001 Ravens, the 2003 Buccaneers—and to a somewhat similar extent the Pats dynasty teams and last year’s Steelers. A year’s worth of spectacular play by a Manning, McNabb, Culpepper, or Vick, has gone all for naught.


In the NBA, this trend seemed like it would rear its ugly head, when the Pistons of 2004 won the championship. Due to coaching genius and a too-ugly defense, the Pistons, led by an undersized center, the O.G. shoot-first PG of the 21st century (Billups), a 3-ball-shooting PF, trounced the imploding Lakers. Immediately following the Pistons’ shocking victory, however, two important things happen. Shaq got hungry again, forced his way out of LA, and positioned himself to win another championship. And Stern got wise to this defensive uprising, and implemented more emphasis on handchecking. Next thing we knew, we were back to traditionallly position-ed teams, the 2005 Spurs and 2006 Heat, winning the Larry OB in no time. Although, the PR/OR has emerged in the NBA, its success has been stifled.


So we are now back to a sea of illusions. Whereas in the NFL, the victor of their PR has been dominant defenses, the victor of the NBA PR has, and will be, any team that can scrape together a traditionally position-ed starting five. More specifically, any team who can conjure up an ACTUAL center (see Shaq) and an ACTUAL point guard (see the two-headed monster of Glove/White Chocolate), should emerge as dominant. What this does then, is give false hope to fanbases that think their team is going to win with “smallball” or even worse “smallball + a shootfirst PG.” I think back to the Nellie-helmed Mavericks teams, that fateful year when Toine played a good deal of Center, and I cringe. As a Timberwolves fan, I am shaking in my Lugz boots. Thoughts of KG playing center, with a bunch of sub-6’7” guys running around (Ricky D, Mike James, Justin Reed, Trenton Hassell all lie about their height) are all warm and fuzzy in October, but as the season unfolds you begin to realize: it’s smoke and mirrors. Sure you can survive off of smallball for a few games, then all of a sudden Przybilla comes to town and makes you look like the Washington Generals.


Similarly, Warriors fans are probably salivating at reports that their opening day starting five consists of Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, Baron Davis, DaJuan Wagner, and Mickael Pietrus (note: POSITIONS HAVE NOT BEEN ASSIGNED, also note: THE MOST FD STARTING FIVE OF 2007!). Yet again, Nellie is up to his magic tricks. To survive in the playoffs, the PG must distribute. The center must be able to hang with Shaq. And while I share Shoals’ optimism for the Wizards of 5767, or even for a potentially rejuvenated Phx Suns team…cruel reality has my sights set elsewhere.

37 Comments:

At 10/12/2006 12:18 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i've heard that DLIC has a plane to catch and won't be getting to these comments anytime soon, but perhaps someone else can explain the QB list to me. it would seem that these fancy hybrid QB's are the exact opposite of the antiquatd brad johnsons of the world. to adapt to killer defenses, they've taken on rb traits; it's individual PR at its finest, and with an external justification, to boot.

platooning and bullpen disease eat away at positonality through over-specialization, which is the inverse of thinking one guy can do it all. or reorganizing your team every five minutes on the strength of how flexible the whole gets when you dissolve traditional roles.

those examples i gave are ultra-role-playicizing. not the assimilation of role's into fire-breathing lofts of invention.

 
At 10/12/2006 1:04 PM, Anonymous fix_the_knicks said...

The true battlefield of positional ambiguity in football is not the QB, but rather the tight end -- and the dialectical unfolding of this trend is revealing. The story, as I understand it, goes something like this: in the last years of the previous millenium, teams like the Rams and Colts started tearing it up with four and five receiver sets. The plan was this: the quarterback releases the ball so quickly that the pass rush is rendered meaningless, and the receiver picks up yards after the catch by juking the hapless second or third-string defensive backs that were forced onto the field by the unorthodox formation. This enabled slow-moving dinosaur QBs with exceptional hand-eye coordination and questionable pocket presence to flourish (see Warner, Kurt).

In the years that followed, defenses responded by selecting legions of athletic and talented DBs in the early rounds of the draft. Suddenly, the four and five receiver sets no longer created the same mismatches as before, the yards after the catch were fiercely contested, and the pendulum tilted in favor of the defense. It was in these years that the Patriots, with their uncanny ability to see three or four moves ahead, began stockpiling athletic pass-catching tight ends. For while the new generation of quick, DB-rich defenses could run around with slot receivers all day, they would be physically dominated by bigger and stronger tight ends. Furthermore, the inherent ambiguity of the TE position permits run as well as pass -- an even greater danger for defense built around nickel and dime coverage. The apotheosis of this movement is indeed the 2006 Patriots, who eschew the very idea of competence at the WR position, in favor of a deep corps of strong and talented TEs.

That said, the defensive/offense dichotomy of football yields a very different dialectic than in basketball, in which both action and reaction must be contained in the same player. Thoughts?

 
At 10/12/2006 1:08 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

why does that dialectic not exist in basketball? or could one argue that it could, even should, exist, but just doesn't?

i's actually say that the new direction i discussed is based on this principle. you devise line-ups based not on roles, or chemistry, but as chess match against the other bacterial colony thrown out there.

 
At 10/12/2006 1:20 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Isn't it just the economics of skill and specialization? I mean, it's hard to ask a lot of guys to share many of the tasks of basketball and do each one well. Plus, there's not enough room on the floor to ask, say, four guys to handle the rebounding.

Statheads and Basketball on Paper-lovers always talk about the jobs that need to be done by a winning basketball team. Hit outside shots, draw fouls, win turnovers. I guess five guys playing Position Zero could be a nightmare for the opposition, but only if they're all good at everything. There can't be any weak links. You'd love to have that amorphousness, but the economics say specialists are easier to come by. Plus, to play that game, everyone would need some sort of Instant Positional Awareness, i.e, "Which one of us needs to get that rebound right now?" It's an extra thing to think about.

I'd say it's not the PR theory that's wrong, just that the struggle of assembling a good non-positional team is harder than anyone thought. It's just like anything else in life when there are multiple roles to fill. I think I may be repeating your point.

By the way, anybody notice Rondo's first couple games? The bright glow of Simmons should soon be visible from Texas.

Prediction: DaJuan's success indirectly bumps the medical industry by opening the public's eyes and conversations to gastrointestinal disease.

 
At 10/12/2006 1:37 PM, Blogger Trey said...

The argument about football TEs is a very good one. However, you neglected the position they so often do battle with -- LBs.

Even within the past couple of years, linebackers were specialized to either run-stopping or pass saavy monsters. Guys like Ray Lewis and Urlacher have changed that tremendously. Rather than coming off the field for a third down, these guys never leave. Whether blitzing or dropping in to coverage, they are the focal point of whatever their respective defense is trying to accomplish. Urlacher even played safety and returned kicks in college. He's an android.

On the basketball front, there was a (surprisingly) good article on Page 2 about Artest. He might be your Ultimate Do-Everything guy. They said how, sure he was a talented scorer and premier defender; he also wants to be the enforcer of the team. Say what you will about KG being supreme on both ends of the court, but he'll never be the one hammering people to protect his teammates.

 
At 10/12/2006 1:39 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

part of what made the suns/lakers series so transcendent was that both team were fucking around with this flexibility, even with far from perfect personnel. i know we're not thought of as a pro-coach organization, but when you see one putting guys in a position to take advantage of their full abilities on a minute-to-minute basis, the synergy of system/indivdiual can be breathtaking.

you can't honestly tell me that, if properly delegated, an ever-shifting team of reasonably talented swingmen, combo guards, and skilled PF's is so much more difficult to come by than a true center, serious pg, etc.

 
At 10/12/2006 1:40 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

trey, artest is a man who fulfills many roles; garnett outmodes the very notion of roles.

 
At 10/12/2006 1:55 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

I guess what I was going for is that you could easily collect those players and make a team of them, and it would be fun, but they wouldn't compete. They'd commit too many turnovers and not get enough defensive boards.

You said the key words: "reasonably talented". I think that to have a highly successful team of this makeup, two or even three of them would have to be top-tier guys. Without them, a team with one demi-star and some merely solid big men and shooters would give them a run. That's where the difficulty is, and why you don't see it much.

I'm not ripping the ideal, more just trying to delineate the forces at play.

 
At 10/12/2006 2:00 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Addendum: Warriors may end this debate one way or the other.

 
At 10/12/2006 2:40 PM, Blogger T. said...

I think the real genesis of this positionless debate starts with the 1987-1989 Illinois Illini.

They played 5 guys between 6'6" and 6'8" - Kenny Battle, Nick Anderson, Kendall Gill, Kendall Gill, Steve Bardo, Marcus Liberty.

 
At 10/12/2006 3:08 PM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...

I always liked Kendall Gill, but I never realized he was Multiple Man.

I am a part of the FD contingent of the geographically faithless. I have some sympathy for the local team, however. The re-hiring of Don Nelson has forced me into a state of carefully controlled expectation.* It would be sufficient if the games become fun again, even if the fun doesn't also lead to more than moderate improvement.


* This despite (1) my girl referring to him as "The Klansman" whenever she sees him on TV; he just looks like one, she says. And (2) the C-Webb affair. I'm not sure I can really forget Nelson's role in Webber getting moved.


wv: ihnmtqq--First Saudi player in the NBA.

 
At 10/12/2006 3:30 PM, Anonymous fix_the_knicks said...

Side question -- rereading this discussion, it almost seems like the type of basketball you're talking about -- slick-passing centers, perimeter-dwelling PFs, free-flowing interchangability -- is exactly the kind of ball they play in Europe. Small wonder, then, that so many of the harbringers of the revolution -- Sabonis, Vlade, Nowitzky, Diaw -- are Euros. So how does this discussion fit in with our earlier "Europe will always be sideshow" brawl from the summer? Shoals, can you explain why the "Positional Revolution" isn't just Euroball with more athleticism and banging?

 
At 10/12/2006 3:40 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

"interchangability" is a negative characteristic; recognition of individual richness is, paradoxically, both more positive and more finite.

plus anyone can do that shit when there's no athleticism involved.

 
At 10/12/2006 3:50 PM, Anonymous fix_the_knicks said...

Shoals said: "why does that dialectic not exist in basketball? or could one argue that it could, even should, exist, but just doesn't?"

One obvious answer is that the rate of change in the two leagues is really, really different. NFL teams turn over 1/3 of their rosters every year, and last place teams go to the superbowl a year later -- a process that might take a decade in the NBA. I think part of the reason that the NFL is such a "copycat" league is just because it can be; with non-guaranteed contracts, if you decide you don't want to pay big bucks for WRs anymore, you can stop paying them tomorrow. Meanwhile, my Knicks will be paying Jerome James until 2015 or something.

The less obvious answer probably has something to do with the fact that in basketball, the same set of guys have to play offense and defense, and that you can't draw up the offensive plays ahead of time in the same way that you can in football. But I don't know exactly what the implications of all that are. Another interesting comparison would be soccer, which is more similar to basketball in these ways, and yet appears (to me, a casual observer) to be much more positionally fluid than basketball. But this is when someone who knows what they're actually talking about should chime in.

 
At 10/12/2006 4:10 PM, Anonymous fix_the_knicks said...

OK, I'll concede that what you're advocating shouldn't be called "interchangability." I don't see why Euroball is any less a recognition of individual skill... except maybe that they're less skilled.

Another dimension of the football comparison is that football positions are racialized in a pretty dramatic way -- for a long time, Tight Ends were mostly white, while WRs were almost always black; fullbacks are white and halfbacks are black; big-but-coordinated white guys become OTs, big-but-coordinated black guys become DEs... it's weird. I'm convinced that Mike Alstott was listed as a FB for all those years solely because he's white. A lot of the "innovations" in football have involved crossing these barriers in various ways. In basketball you could argue that the "scoring PG" crossover is sort of a similar phenomenon, since the pass-first white PG might be one of the last surviving racial-positional tropes in basketball.

 
At 10/12/2006 4:30 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

I thought of a way to rearrange my thesis on this with a sort of Evolution of Positionness:

The atoms of performance in basketball have never been position-based. That is, there is no such thing as the Power Forward's Job, the Center's Job, etc. The real tasks that form the substance of playing are things like Interior D, Rebounding, Perimeter Offense, and so on.

It just so happens that positions grew out of this because certain players with particular body types and skill sets existed, and those guys who were good at certain things also happened to be good at other things. And the things they sucked at were easily shunted off to someone else.

There are certain combinations of skills that are rare to find in one player just because of physical limitations. I think sometimes the best we can do is not a true multi-player, but a guy who fills a traditional role plus something extra, such as Dirk, who is basically a really good 3 who also happens to be really tall; or coax multipleness out of someone via your coaching scheme, as is done with Diaw by perching him at the high post (the Suns enter this discussion to illustrate an exception, not a rule).

As far as true sharing of jobs and/or finding someone who can do two or three things that aren't normally done by the same guy, that's much tougher. This is especially true when you try to combine interior and perimeter tasks. It's easier to find or build a good player in one of the traditional roles than to find a good frankenstein player. That's not to say that a team of frankensteins wouldn't be successful; they would just have to perform the same jobs as everyone else.

wv: waeeyow - sound effect in And-1 graphic novels

 
At 10/12/2006 5:14 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

i am sitting in o'hare airport, and paid for wireless simply to comment that i can't believe i forgot to mention mobile quarterbacks as part of the nfl's PR. this doesn't really change my argument, however, that TRUE QBs have died, and great defenses now rule the earth.

 
At 10/12/2006 5:22 PM, Blogger Tigero is my Afro-Asian said...

First things first: Umm, J-Rich isn't a starter on rainbow troat tie's team? Seems odd. Damn, Dime was dead-on, nicknames deceased.

Championships teams are built through consistancy. The basic formula for this has been established for fifty years. Players need to know their roll, and when you throw in hybrid 6'10 2/4's, their rolls become awfully fuzzy (see: FIBA ball from 1997-present).

 
At 10/12/2006 6:06 PM, Anonymous boris said...

To me there's a difference between Nellie-variety small-ball (just exploiting matchups) and the D'Antoni "system" (which I think is ultimately responsible for Nash's success). I would have loved to see a Phoenix/Miami finals series.

To me the "the two-headed monster of Glove/White Chocolate + SHAQ" was not the reason Miami won. Wade basically took the team on his back. I think attributing their success to traditional positioning is a bit of a reach

 
At 10/12/2006 7:26 PM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

Yeah, drop Pee-Truth or Undirty Bop from that lineup and plug in J-Rich. Nellie might be pissed about his free throws; he's not going to bench him for that though.

The real problem I have with is what happens to Biedrins and Diogu now, since they don't fit into the new system at all.

Being a Warriors fan is like a really bad peyote trip.

 
At 10/12/2006 7:28 PM, Blogger T. said...

Another interesting comparison would be soccer, which is more similar to basketball in these ways, and yet appears (to me, a casual observer) to be much more positionally fluid than basketball.

I'm not sure that it's a positionally fluid as basketball. Jsut taking an example from this year's US team in the World Cup - a lot of people were saying the reason why DeMarcus was so ineffectual was he was used to playing upfront for his club side, that he wasn't as good playing defensive midfielder The NBA equivillant would be having Manu play Bruce Bowen's role. Sure, Manu could do a pretty good job as the defensive stopper, but you're losing his ability on offense. And he doesn't feel as comfortable either.

Also, for some reason soccer alignments tend to screw people up - England lost this weekend in a Euro Qualifier playing 3-5-2 (instead of a standard 4-4-2) and now the papers are full of criticism of the alignment.

I'm not sure what all this means.

 
At 10/12/2006 8:41 PM, Anonymous Sourounis said...

England lost because they simply have a bad team.

And soccer alignments doesn't have to do so much with positions, as with tactics.

If you are not to bored go to wikipedia and type "total football". That's the first PR in sports.

 
At 10/12/2006 8:45 PM, Blogger herecomesthebastard said...

interchangibility is not real. i don't think it is. people like artest and KG... not that they are similar... offer a glimpse into the future. its like, if you took Kobe Bryant and put him in the league in the distant past, he could probably play any position.

maybe i'm not understanding what it is that is being talked about right now... but i think it is the evolution of the players and their skills. the players growup watching the moves of lots of players at different positions and then take those moves to the position that they are destined for. So a PF kind of looks like something else... or a lot of other things... but really... he is still just a power forward.

Not sure that i know what I am talking about...

 
At 10/12/2006 8:45 PM, Anonymous Sourounis said...

I'll just copy paste the first tvo paragraphs of the wikipedia article:

"In soccer, Total Football is a system where a player who moves out of his or her position is replaced by another from his or her team, thus retaining their intended organizational structure. In this fluid system no footballer is fixed in his or her intended outfield role; anyone can be successively an attacker, a midfielder and a defender.

Total Football depends largely on the adaptability of each footballer within the team to succeed. It consists of footballers being extremely tactically aware, allowing them to change positions at high speed - in its simplest terms, every player is comfortable in any other position. It also puts high technical and physical demands on the players."

 
At 10/12/2006 10:13 PM, Blogger Sergio said...

Agreed. When Ronaldinho suits up for Barca, you cannot assign him a position; the man is everywhere. He is just as likely to materialize on the right flank for a cross as he is to deliver a cutting pass from the box. Similarly, Thierry Henry has a tendency to swing into midfield and assume more of a playmaking role, as opposed to play the traditional forward role of a man his size (6'2, a giant by the sport's standards).

I could go on for hours: fullbacks providing offensive pressure, defensive midfielders doubling as playmakers... Positional interchangeability is a fact of life in soccer. After all, when one superstar shifts out of the team's natural alignment, all of his cohorts must compensate, both offensively and defensively. To use Ronaldinho as an example again, when he assumes a pure forward role, Eto'o must move to the flanks, which forces Guily to compensate accordingly, etc...

 
At 10/12/2006 10:31 PM, Anonymous Sourounis said...

Unfortunately there is no more Eto for at least 5 months. For me he was the most valuable player in that team, and vastly underrated when compared to Henry, Ronaldo, Nisterloy etc.

It's a shame because the current Barcelona squad, which has been pretty much the same for 3 years now, is probably the best soccer team of all time, in terms of style, show and winning.

 
At 10/12/2006 11:12 PM, Blogger jon faith said...

I think T. duplicated Gill in deference to Lowell Hamilton, a name which I sometimes ponder with a (not Plutarchian) warm glaze. Incisive reference. ciao - jon

 
At 10/12/2006 11:36 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

I thought England lost because the keeper whiffed on a back pass and it rolled into the net.

 
At 10/13/2006 12:46 AM, Anonymous Torgo said...

Damn. First time I've wanted to take notes for a post before. Good shit, all round. And I think there's an underlying link, an elephant in the foyer, or something. And, to be honest, I think it's ESPN. Highlight clips all night, all morning.

Bear with me. I am not a dinosaur damning the me firstness, or the destruction of the game.

Think about it. In the age before 24 hour highlights, people like Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain were told "you're tall. Stand here" by their coach, and they did it. It's what they were expected to do, it's what they thought their job was.

With ESPN and Jordan highlights (among others) that so many have grown up with, we're seeing the realization of kids primal dreams. Come on, who didn't want to be like Mike? Like Magic? Like 'Nique? I'm sure every damn one of us here has dreamt, if not literally had a dream, about being able to do that stuff. (The dream I had where I dunked, it was beautiful, felt so real, it buoyed me through the nasty unpleasant day that followed).
The difference is, there I was, a short, not exactly athletic kid, believing people could fly, and wishing that some genetic mutation would overtake me, and I could do that too. With Lamar, with Dirk, with all those 3 point chucking PFs, the dime dealing 5's, we're seeing a generation who, before they got told "go there, stand here, do this" they knew, they *knew* what they wanted to do. They wanted to make a pass like the one on the highlight reel. They wanted to dunk like (insert dunker of choice). And these guys in the NBA, their bodies didn't betray them by failing their dreams. Brad Miller is nigh on 7', but he can pass. Gilbert goes one on one instead of passing because that's what he dreamed of doing, what he practiced doing, his idolization is imitation.

It may well be that the highlights old men say are destroying the game are, in fact, revolutionizing the hoary old cliches of the game, the lead foot center, the passing PG, and replacing it with fluid awareness of roles, with acceptance of duty.

I think we'll be seeing more coaches flame out, then be replaced by someone who understands the players, and the players' skills at their disposal.

Maybe, just maybe, we need to recognize that when people salivate over Eddy-freaking-Curry, saying he's a true center, that just maybe the true center is dead, and you'd be better off running Sheed in the middle, signing Bonzi to run wild and get all the rebounds, and... wait, the Pistons signed Mohammed? Damn.

WV: xvayg Xavier McDaniels vanquishes all your guys

 
At 10/13/2006 12:47 AM, Blogger Sergio said...

I'm an Arsenal supporter myself, but I have to agree with the Barcelona assessment. They are an incredible squad, and they truly embrace the notion of Total Football.

Eto'o certainly is underrated, but I believe this is mostly due to him being overshadowed by Ronaldinho. If he played for a team where he was The Man in both theory and practice, as Henry is to Arsenal, he would be a household name.

As for England's loss, think of it as karmic retribution. That team stands for everything that is wrong about the sport; it is only fitting that it should be humiliated by the Croatians.

 
At 10/13/2006 2:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The football analogy is by far the best comparison to the currents that ebb & flow in a good basketball game.

Soccer moves in waves, fast breaks, and with the upswing of the Brazilian influence, breakdown moves that easily rival Iverson or Skip.

Anyone who's played both competitively will tell you, without a doubt, that the lessons learned easily cross the gap between the sports.

Steve Nash likes football - the media has beaten it to death. But the real story here is that the great international players have succeeded precisely because they have the vision of the full court that a midfielder would have of the pitch.

 
At 10/13/2006 9:58 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

Have any of you seen this article on the pathology of Gilbert Arenas? If found the link at the mightymjd.com

 
At 10/13/2006 1:15 PM, Anonymous Jack said...

I think saltedbagel has it on lock about guys that play a certain position, but have other skills as well (i.e. Dirk, Sheed, Nate Robinson dunking, etc). I think the CLOSEST example of the type of team you are talking about would be the Suns, but even they rely on position-based play; the same positions are all represented, but by unorthodox players in them. Still though, they played with a system that worked for who they had and a point guard that thrived in it. I think with that system, they would have beaten Miami had they made it to the finals. I also agree that Miami's title should be attributed more to D-Wade's domination (and foul shots) than their traditional position based play of J-Will and Shaq.

Imagine a team of LeBron James clones. He's a guy who can "do it all," but would that team be successful? Perhaps against the Suns, playing that style. Against Shaq? Probably not. Teams would just find the way to beat them whether it be size, strength, quickness, or whatever, and implement that. Everything has a weakness.

 
At 10/13/2006 1:28 PM, Blogger Stumbleweed said...

Wow, that Esquire Arenas article is awesome. I truly love this man. I think I'm going to buy an Arenas jersey this year.

Speaking of jerseys, anyone know where to find a Marcus Camby jersey -- the dark blue alternate (the one with the cursive on the front)? I've been digging everywhere, and I haven't found it once. If anyone has the hookup, let me know...

WV: eeiztv - Electric eels in ze TV!

 
At 10/13/2006 1:37 PM, Anonymous Aaron said...

Re: Diaw as the first Point Center... Doesn't Magic own that title entirely, on the basis of the 1980 Finals? Isn't it true that there is nothing Diaw has done that Magic didn't do first? Granted, Magic returned to PG when Kareem returned, but he proved it could be done.

 
At 10/13/2006 1:42 PM, Anonymous seezmeezy said...

much as i love the free darko take on the nba, the true and final point of the league has remained the same since its beginning: make a buck.

rule changes of both drastic and subtle nature are implemented every year to make the product more consumer-ready. the league is predicated on showcasing individual stars as a way to generate money. to me, that means that the league wants its stars spread out among the squads. put 3+ stars on big market teams, give toronto chris bosh. every so often a miami comes along and squeezes what little juice remains from enough withered lemons to get one glass of lemonade, but such occurences are rare and short lived.

most of the stars in today's nba are the positionless wunderkind of shoal's article, so if you agree with my assesment of the league's true goal than my next point is a logical conclusion:

i propose that shoals' dream team is a distinct possibility in the college ranks where rules of assembling a team are pretty loose. on the flipside, it's pretty much an impossibility in the pros where assemblage is far more restricted.

i feel that a professional team composed of extremely dope positionless/positionful players who enjoy consistent success (multiple championships) would be impossible to assemble anywhere but a big market like ny or la. such a team would become a juggernaut, the league's worst nightmare, and couldn't possibly last long due to the goodies of the league's salary structure.

as for the zards, i actually drank enough maker's mark to convince myself that the 3 seed was a mortal lock. but let's be real: their positionless strenght is their positionless weakness.

 
At 10/15/2006 2:46 AM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

I think it would be prudent to point out that Total Football has accounted for all of no World Cups, as opposed to multiple honors for cattenaccio and the regimented German fussball.

Even Barcelona plays a system, that being a 4-3-3 where the 2 attacking midfielders and the 3 forwards play roughly free roles (although they all typically wind up in the same spots, Ronaldinho wide left, Messi/Giuly wide right, Eto'o central); everybody else on the team has a role. Not to say that they aren't possibly the greatest advertisement for the game in living memory, they still have definite roles that are filled by specific players.

 

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