Conversations: The Gertrude Stein-Ernest Hemingway Letters
No time for introductions. What follows is an all-too-lengthy symposium between The Assimilated Negro, Brown Recluse, Esq, and me, Dr. Lawyer IndianChief, on the recent Bill Simmons' PHXSuns-fest. Should keep you overfed and slightly refreshed through the weekend.
KEY: T.A.N. is in bold Lucida Grande, Brown Recluse steps in for a moment dipped in Courier italics, and I, Dr. LIC, am draped in plain Times.
so, what's the reaction to latest Simmons piece on the suns?
i thought his slurping was a little too hard ...
in thinking about it right now, i think i'm coming to some conclusion on the import of your head coach, as in I take Dallas over Phoenix, and I think its because I take Avery over D'Ant. I think this is because Avery;s imprint, and getting Dallas to play defense, integrate a solid half-court offense, and successfully transition out of the nash era is much more impressive than D-Ant's pedal to the metal approach.
as i continue to mull, this feels like it might be weighty enough to write about. Dallas vs. phoenix. that's what the west is about now right? at least until we see the ramifications in denver.
I don't know, maybe I could re-read also, but it seemed a little fluffy to me. I haven't been watching the suns much, but this is because the NBA is the most objectively rational sport to me, i.e. we all know the suns and mavs and spurs will be the contenders and there's no way around it.
so in the midst of their huge winning streak, a streak we know has to happen, jsut as those other two teams will have great stretches, he announces their distinctively great ...
but then he qualifies it throughout the piece, with the Marion/Amare dynamic, amongst other things. if the team is legendary shouldn't he be able to say they're goign to definitively win. then half of the piece is dedicated to durant and comparison to the celts/lakers teams.
[Enter Brown Recluse, Esq.]
okay, i read it. not that this is relevant to the point by point, but
these things jumped out at me, and i thought i'd share:
"by the way, did you ever think that Shawn Marion would go down as the
greatest UNLV player in NBA history?"
whoa.....that kind of blew my dome a bit. but, yeah, i'd say he's
clearly better than LJ at this point. and j.r. rider, of course.
"I have never, ever, EVER seen anyone run the point guard position
like this on a day-to-day basis. Not even Magic and Isiah."
okay, now, that's some serious shit. i would agree that i've never
seen anyone run the point in the particular way nash runs it, but to
imply (he doesn't necessarily say it) that nash is a better point
guard than magic or isiah is pretty bold. but, you know, it's actually
not that ridiculous of a statement.
also, his durant stuff was on point. if you guys haven't watched him,
watch him. he's amazing, even if he is so skinny he looks like he has
i think simmons has seriously fallen off with the pop culture
references and jokes, but his nba analysis is as sharp as ever. dude
really does know the game.
[Dr. Lawyer IndianChief says something:]
to me, the suns are nowhere near as good as dallas, and maybe not even as good as houston come playoff time. when it comes down to it, the teams that win championships are the teams with huge front lines, and a couple 6-10 guys (thomas and stoudemire) just aren't going to do it. the suns get exposed year after year because of this. diop/dampier, yao/mutombo...even duncan/butler/elson/oberto, they will all wear the suns down in a five game series. don't get me wrong, i'm rooting for the suns as much as simmons, which is why it is so tragic. another thing the suns are repeatedly exposed for: TERRIBLE rebounding. they give up the fourth most opposing rebounds in the Association, and watching them do this every spring has just got to be murder on their fans. their defense has seriously improved, giving up a fairly stingly opposing FG%, but it doesn't matter when guys are getting second-shot attempts. shoals calls the bulls the biggest tease in the league, but it is the suns that just KILL their fans every year.
as far as coaching, i don't know about avery being better than D-Ant. as good as avery is as an intervener, d'antoni is just as good for rolling the ball out on the court and letting em play.
to shift gears, though, let's talk about simmons. as much as we give him a hard time, guy is incredible. it's funny that when he writes an NBA column, it actually has the effect of making the rest of his work look so awful. he can't get around it, he knows hoops better than anything else, and he is also in the odd position of being a comedy writer who is better at nba analysis than anyone else affiliated by the worldwide leader. quick example, his insight about nash tripping the opposing players on screens, and pointing to that bulls game on jan2 where he set up barbosa for the winning shot? that was a play that my friends in chicago were talking about for weeks after the fact, but that NO ONE else should have cared about. it really shows you the level of sophistication with which he watches the games.
another note...brown recluse brought up the point that simmons has really fallen off with the pop culture references, and it is painful/teenager-to-dad-like to watch him trot out things from "indie culture" to reconnect with his audience (sidenote: little miss sunshine was a terribly overrated film that stole from everybody). i only bring this up because i am going to make a terrible pop culture analogy myself. simmons is the COMMON SENSE of sportswriting. just when i think he's completely lost it, he comes back stronger than ever.
hmmm. quick response for now. I'll be able to get on this for real maybe mid-late afternoon.
firstly, I don't see how you can slurp SImmons on this piece, and then say you also see the Suns as a tease. isn't the thrust of simmons' premise that the Suns are the best team in the NBA bar none? granted he qualifies it himself, which is another problem i have. if you're going to make a bold declarative statement, then do it. otherwise confess to jocking the suns while they're on an incredible hot streak like everyone else
i think the problem that simmons is having is that he is confusing his love for watching the suns play with a claim that they are actually the best team in the nba.
it's not even close. THIS is the tragedy of the nba. the suns are practically the saints of the nfl. everyone is pulling for them and they have the most exciting offense on the court/field, but they just don't have those playoff essentials (rebounding, big front line, do they even have a guy to make the clutch shot? etc.) to close the deal. simmons should have just focused on how FUN the suns are to watch in the midst of a very bizarre (/troubling for him: see the celts, clips) season.
My first and possibly biggest beef is with his first premise/section:
And it's an exceedingly relevant development for two reasons: 1. We're in a weird time in sports right now. There isn't a dominant football, baseball, basketball or hockey player
From where I"m sitting I hear a lot of talk about LT as potentially one of the all time greats. Same with Peyton. Tom Brady seems fairly transcendent. IN baseball Pujols, ARod, and Bonds pre-scandal tarnish? Hockey all the buzz are these young great players. In fact in every sport I'd say we're looking at arguments made for us getting to watch the greatest to ever play their sports.
2. The last great basketball teams were the Lakers and Celtics from the mid-'80s.
says who? this is where simmons age and bias are very much on display. The BUlls. I'd even argue for the Duncan/Pop Spurs since D-Rob. Great teams with great players. I mean maybe they didn'tgo as deep, but i'd stack them up and think they could win against those celt-lakers teams.
The two games and 28-game streak is like "so what" to me...
I like the Amare/Marion insight, that's good stuff. But I also think of it as exactly the reason one would read freedarko, you can get that type of stuff a couple times a week, not wait for a simmons "basketball" article
Bell and Barbosa are overrated because of Nash. This we all know to be true.
I agree with the "Nash actually deserves the MVP this year" premise, but again I think this whole thing you might find as a toss-off adlib at free darko. Its cool, it adds to the conversation ...but I'm not looking to slurp. My wig hasn't been pushed anywhere. And until I see Nash win a playoff series for the team, i say slow it down on all that Nash 2.0: This Time He's Edgy talk .
His main point, I think he falls into an old man trap. Old man trap means you're a sucker for your generation and deny the evolution of people, athletes, the game, life all around you. Yes Durant would score 55 with ease if he played in the 50s. And that means, while it may be difficult, its not impossible to compare different teams and different eras. just don't be a pussy. We know preposterous never-seen-before athletes when we see them. Lebron, Dwight Howard, people like this would be MVP's back in the day. So in general, contemporary players are just better athletes, they've built on everything that came before. They have stood on their shoulders. It doesn't make old less valuable, but it means today's spurs, mavs, suncs can compete with any of these old school teams.
And as far as I'm concerned there's a significant difference between Rashard Lewis and Mike Miller ...
agreed on points 1 and 2. LT is the most dominant player in sports. i'd argue that Santana is close to dominant in baseball. His claim about the Lakers/Celtics is classic "guy who stopped being enamored after his team started to tank." Those 1990s Bulls teams could have just kept winning forever.
As far as old man trap, that is at the heart of the article. He loves the Suns because they remind him of a hybrid of those Lakers-Celtics teams, when let's face it, times have changed in terms of what is required to win a championship. Every champ for the the last 15 years had THE dominant frontcourt/post-player or MJ. There's no way around it. Sure, it could be time for a revolution, but the Mavs are as much of a revolution as anything. The team with the "swiss army knife" player (Simmons' term) has never won jack in the playoffs. Perhaps the aftermath of the post-Sabonis/post-KG explosion of these do-it-all types will finally get over the hump with Nowitzki, thus setting the stage for more dominant swiss-army-knives, Lebron and then Kevin Durant to win future championships as well.
The Rashard Lewis/Mike Miller thing confused the hell out of me. I was like, "Why would you give James Jones' minutes to Mike Miller?"
The Suns and Dallas are close. But as you point out Dallas is sturdier and more diligent up front and on the glass. And this is a direct reflectin of the difference between Avery and D'Ant. Before Avery the Mavs were just as soft as The SUns, maybe softer. Now they follow the Spurs. That's all coach. Not Dampier or Diop. If Avery took over the Suns, Amare would become a beast.
This paradoxical conundrum just struck me:
If Steve Nash is a potential 3-time MVP.
And Dallas is better than the Phoenix
And Dallas is better now than when they had Steve Nash
And Phoenix is exponentially better since they got Steve Nash
How ridiculous is Avery Johnson then????
Would you trade Steve Nash for Avery Johnson the coach??...
the answer is YES!!!! YES!!!! YES!!!!!!!
But see Simmons doesn't want Avery's nuts all in his mouth. He'd rather Steve Nash's nuts, like everyone else.... homosexuality is undoubtedly easier if you have a group of people participating.
ok, avery is the man. but so is mark cuban (eff donnie nelson, getting his strings pulled). cuban made some seriously gutsy moves. i still think the nash move was stupid, but dumping finley and don nelson were brilliant. replacing toine walker and jamison and shawn bradley types with guys you NEED to win championships: diop, devean george, fuck it...even croshere. i dont know how much of this is directly attributable to avery j, but upon his arrival the entire culture changed. the thing was, for the longest time, dallas was the joke of the league, so when cuban took over, everyone was just content that they were winning a ton of games. 52 wins was a novelty. fuck the playoffs. plus, the whole playstation-in-the-locker thing had the major league effect of "we're pampering these guys." the van exel team was a TEAM OF STARS. as long as they got their points (and they always did), nobody cared. i think avery's arrival was more of an "oh shit" moment than a "now we're going to learn how to play good defense moment." dirk's D still sucks. same with terry. but with damp and diop in the lane, nobody wants to go in there.
Also, agreed on distinguishing entertainment vs actual quality/caliber of team. and the suns are the best team to watch.
I think this point about the schedule and power structure of the league is a sharp one. I think it ultimately helps my side also which is to say you can get this sort of stuff at FD, steady flowing.
overcome your weakness, how fundamental is that. while d'ant masks the weakness. yes, big difference there.
…Not much more to add here. Santana is another good call. i don't know if he's transcendent, but he's definitely the consensus ace anyone wold take.
and unit and Clemens were transcendent in their primes a few years ago, .... his claim about athletes, especially as his first point is completely out of his ass.
I think when people make claims like this they should suffer the slings and consequences of irresponsible rumor mongering, like we should be able to say that obviously Simmons and MIke Miller are having the gay sex, only way he'd force his name in like that.