Don't Cry For Him

Last night didn’t really count for much. Two games—one overshadowed by a wan championship acceptance, the other a clammy vigil—and outcomes that shrieked of rust and dreams. As I sit here watching, though, I feel like I’m finally in the presence of the sport I hold so dear.

In fact, this might be the most urgent opening day I can remember. Anyone with a nose for snark knows that, supposedly, the Association holds no water before February; for real red-bloods, that date might even drift off into May. Tonight, though, you get the chance that something bold happened last spring in the Playoffs, something that still resonates at the outset of ’06-07. Somewhere along the line, up-and-comers seized the throne, young teams became contenders, and the New NBA went from a theory to a empire. What’s more, players like Butler and Odom manifested that how last we saw them was how they plan to stay. They found their rhythm at the right time, but when the whole league finds its groove, something bigger is going on—something that one man’s reluctance or laziness can’t possibly shake off. No guarantees that this entire season will have a playoff-type atmosphere, but this is feeling like a sport whose grand narrative will not be taking days off.

Of course, this is all leading up to a discussion of a certain All-Star’s rocky reunion with The King. I’ll resist the itch to compare it to his shotless statement game, since his PG play tonight was anything but forced and exasperating. And while there might be something to the theory that Gil stranges it up so us and Henry will keep his blog buzz fresh, that tranced-out swaying before the tip was probably enough. Plain and simple, the Arenas who made his name during the shootouts with LeBron didn’t show up. And no doubt we’ll hear suggestions that Bron’s got him shook, that Gil showed his plaids with those missed FT’s and deserves to not be mentioned by the ESPN team until they’ve spent an entire quarter slurping Bron.

Let me speak as a vet of the cause: this is Arenas the player. Hubie aptly referred to him as “one of the truly great streak shooters we have in this league,” which was somehow neither a compliment nor a criticism. It has nothing to do with a lack of internal controls or a colorful sensibility—Gilbert Arenas just doesn’t play the game of basketball like others do. Part of what makes his rivalry with LeBron so irresistible is that, while James exists to hand down new commandments from atop Mt. Naismith, Arenas flits in and out of the standard progression of a contest. Iverson is streaky because he’s undisciplined, selfish, and headstrong; Gilbert, the cuddliest gunner who ever was, is waiting for the game to catch up to his reasoning.

So no, I’m not concerned. I don't believe this was a moment of weakness or failure. And I don’t think this is all that interesting, having followed Gilbert madly since his rookie campaign. It’s Gilbert being Gilbert—kind of a nuisance, a set-up for drama, and the source of some fundamental questions about the order of the sport. I have no clue why he couldn’t get a shot to fall until the fourth, why he suddenly appeared fit to exchange three’s with LeBron, or why he then opted to give it to Jarvis Hayes twelve times in a row immediately after that. Most of all, I don’t get how an offensive-minded hellion responds to a scoring slump with some of the soundest distributing I’ve ever seen from him. I have learned to not look for explanations, and instead assume it’s like a bunch of crazy snowflakes that melt on top of a piece of paper that needs moisture.

A few other observations:

-Those LeBrons interviews were beyond brilliant. I don’t care if it’s a marketing campaign; it’s the perfect, frank metaphor for his personae, he inhabits it brilliantly, and his acting shows more personality than anything else he does (citation?). Besides, I’m sure at least some of our readers remember the days of postmodernism.

-If there isn’t a fantasy team named “Primoz Brezec Exhaustion” by 11AM tomorrow, this blog will go into darkest hibernation.

-Same for "Cuttino Mobley Boxing Arthritis."

-Amare is looking older, sadder, more dignified. And while I don’t buy this “the Suns have passed him by” bullshit, I worry that his having missed out on the New NBA’s maturation might hurt his legend.

-Wait, is there any chance that this injury turns Amare into the Next Duncan? He seems to have figured out a thing or two during his hiatus.

-Actually, fuck that. He's regenerating before our very eyes, and forgetting whatever it is he learned about playing in the post.

UPDATE: Watch me crawl in all directions as I ponder the League Pass Question on McSweeney's.


At 11/02/2006 12:12 AM, Anonymous fix_the_knicks said...

Shoals -- love how you kept updating the end of this post as the game progressed and Amare got warm. My thoughts exactly.

An aside -- did anybody see the Orlando game? They just showed the highlights and Howard looked absolutely ridiculous.

At 11/02/2006 12:20 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

funny, i'd just come on to add another update: amare/marion/nash reunion + barbosa and diaw might be my favorite team EVER. everything i said about them yesterday was pre-awakening.

howard looked amare-esque. minus the swagger, of course, which is the best (and most important) part of amare's game.

At 11/02/2006 1:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello? rudy gay?!

At 11/02/2006 2:02 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

"every game should be triple OT: the rudy gay and hakim warrick story"

At 11/02/2006 9:02 AM, Blogger JoshLove said...

the "director's commentary" of the poolside Lebrons was the best, particularly the aside about them being one of the few families with a 20 foot platform diving board, and also the part about them "luckily" having 17 cameras able to capture every one of Business' mid-dive contortions.

At 11/02/2006 9:03 AM, Anonymous aug said...

The griz-knicks game was painful to watch with the exception of gay. So many chances to put it away and no one could step up. Mike Miller and Chucky Atkins should be ashamed as they are both personally responsible for losing. Miller almost airballed 2 free throws with 5 seconds left and missed 2 other game winners, and chucky had 2-3 huge turnovers in the last minute of the overtimes. I wanted to cry. On the plus side, where do i get my Gay jersey and how long until rappers are wearing Gay jerseys in videos?

The NBA is so stacked top to bottom this year. The parity is way too intense. Anyone can make the playoffs this year, but only about 5 teams have a championship shot. Hopefully this little difference and the fact that the nba game is beautiful to watch won't ruin the nba like parity did the the NFL.

Some really weird stat lines last night since it was the first game and people are getting in a flow still. However, i do feel that Turiaf is semi-for real. Not 23-10, but definitely 14-8 with good shooting and defense, unlike kwame. Poor kobe has to be wondering where these guys were last spring.

Does anyone else believe the pacers are a dark horse eastern confernce champion team? How many teams have 8 guys as good as their first 8? 2 points, 2 guards, 3 great forwards, and jeff foster(who has proved to be a good playoff C). I don't trust bron to get to the title yet, i think the pistons are weaker(not because of ben), and the heat are way too old. I don't know what i'm supposed to do with all my orlando magic "pound the pacers" signs from the mid-late 90s though.

At 11/02/2006 10:28 AM, Anonymous Brendo said...

I think Ronny Turiaf got expoentially realer when he told the media he wanted to be "Rah-nee" instead of "Roe-nee" from now on.

I don't necessarily mean on the stat line, but definately more real.

"Primox Brezec Exhaustion" is two characters too long for the Yahoo leagues.

Jordan Farmar. Fuck yeah.

Raja Bell = skinniest Charlie Share in the association.

At 11/02/2006 10:37 AM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

My opinion: The Pacers are not contenders of any sort. Sorry to burst the bubble, but they may not even be a playoff team. As for why - no disrespect intended, but I love the way you dropped "(they got) 2 points, 2 guards...". So do 31 other teams. Their 2 points ain't as good as 15 of those other team's points, minimum. Ditto the SG, unless you think SJ's daily "4-15, 1-6 from 3PT line" is quality. They do have a solid frontline with Jermaine, Al Jefferson, and Granger. But they do not have enough to do better than a 6-seed, tops. Just my opinion.

WV: abjblx: A BJ block - like a cockblock, but lower. I know this chick that's straight Mutumbo when it comes to cockblocking...I swear there are nights that when some guys come approaching her girl crew in the bars she SWATS them into the 3rd row. I don't agree with her style, but I admit that sh*t can be mad entertaining to watch....

At 11/02/2006 10:54 AM, Blogger c-los said...

The pacers are one team outing away from not being able to field enough bodies and therefore being forced to forfeit a game....as far as the knicks game...i was just looking at some of the players on the court with a "WTF are they doing out there in the first place" look. When Chucky and Mike Miller are your go-to players in the crunch it means trouble....although I did enjoy watching Hakeem "HAK" Warrick as the commentators called him...been a fan of his since his Cuse days

At 11/02/2006 11:32 AM, Anonymous Carlos Destrroyo said...

firemike: You got Al Jefferson confused with Al "Chad Johnson" Harrington.

I think the Pacers have dropped back a step, personally. They're now a team of solid small forward types, but without the cohesiveness and 10-strong depth that Dallas employs. Something about that roster screams "ENTROPY," but maybe that's just the sound Tinsley's hammy is making.

On Detroit: They're either going to bomb their way to a five seed, or pull an anti 05-06 and peak towards the end of the year. Regardless, the Bucks ran a layup line, and when they missed, Nazr was more than happy to turn the ball over. Detroit looked like they hadn't practiced over the summer.

Watch for 20 Rasheed ejections this year. The new rules are not kind to him.

At 11/02/2006 12:26 PM, Anonymous seezmeezy said...

league pass article:
my best analogy is it's like if your girl offered you a threesome every night for the next 5 months in exchange for a reasonable increase in "together time."

bron commercials:
the "pretty" lebron looks EXACTLY like mini-fro amare when he's swimming under water after finishing the dive.

At 11/02/2006 12:35 PM, Blogger Nate said...

The Pacers won't be a championship caliber club because Carlisle alienates everyone and because their point guard situation sucks. Tinsley misses half the season every single year. They need to find a new starter. Maybe they should have drafted one at 17 last year instea of picking up ANOTHER SMALL FORWARD/WING GUY!!! They could have had their pick of Farmar, Rondo, or Marcus Williams at that spot.

Lastly, people forget that they don't have Mr. Clutch Jr. on their team any more. Reggie Miller was the heart and soul of that franchise and they don't have one guy with his swagger or his set of balls on that entire team. And they thought all of their problems would be solved by trading perhaps their best player (Ron Artest) for basically Al Harrington (who in my eyes is noting more than a mid-level exception type player and a tweener). Larry Bird: Great Coach, Great Player, So-So GM...

At 11/02/2006 12:40 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

simmons made a good point about the glut of young point guards. i don't know if teams have realized this, and suddenly think that other positions are more scarce, or are operating under some outmoded assumptions about how you build a contendor.

At 11/02/2006 1:03 PM, Anonymous aug said...

I'm not saying the pacers are a beast of a team, but i think they'll make the playoffs and have a chance to make some noise. They're a darkhorse. They always play people tough in the playoffs and they have some playoff tested guys. Tinsley when healthy can distribute and sarunas is in his second year and the prime of his career. There is no way he won't be better than his rookie year. I didn't mean to start a hellfire, i just think they have the experience and depth to be a darkhorse east team in the playoffs.

I like the fantasy names, shoals. For the past few years i've been switching between
Dino Radjasaurus Rex
Cherokee National Parks.

I missed the fantasy boat this season. I might have to make a league for my friends and start a few weeks late, i guess.

At 11/02/2006 1:30 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

It took a few short years for postmodernism to bread and fry my intellect. The Lebrons creation refuses to speak to his immensity. Perhaps you weren't claiming that it did. I like them for the humor, and that's it.

At 11/02/2006 2:59 PM, Blogger DailyDub said...

I was at that Dubs/Lake Show game last night, and I can tell you that Murph and Dun are going to make a lot of guys like Turiaf look like super-stars.

At 11/02/2006 9:31 PM, Blogger O.D.B. said...

Little late in the game here - riffing off the early Hakim Warrick awes. I know his play up until 24hrs ago didn't warrant it, but FD should keep an eye out for an 06-07 breakthrough. A reminder of the possibilities:

At 11/02/2006 10:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that the beginning of this season has a different resonance to it. There's something grander, more serious and more interesting going on here. Maybe I'm just projecting my own excitement about The Takeover, though.

Also, fix_the_knicks, I caught the Magic game on Comcast Sports Net and Howard was pretty fantastic. It was also good to see Grant playing competently and without a noticeable hitch in his step again.

At 11/02/2006 11:00 PM, Anonymous Carlos Destrroyo said...

aug - This year (also my first with a fantasy hoops team) I'm rockin "The Nazr Regime" as my name. Someone should give out points just for names.

At 11/03/2006 7:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brendo: "PrimozBrezecExhaustion"

Problem solved.

WV: lbwkwiw: LeBron awakens wonder in world.


Post a Comment

<< Home