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
a disease.

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.


At 1/19/2007 3:40 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

dudes, mike miller is a good player. i also was like, did simmons just basically say that rashard lewis and mike miller were comparable? but, they are in the sense that they would both fit in perfectly on the suns. deadly shooters, nice all-around game, but decidedly second/third/fourth fiddle guys. you're not going to build a team around either of them, but if you added lewis or miller to the heat or the lakers, they're a much better team as a result.

also, both of you somehow overlooked the emergence of josh howard in your assessment of the mavs post-nash. he's a legit all-star now and a huge part of that team. also, devin harris is a major contributor with his defense and quicks. being able to throw him out on the court at either guard spot is a very good look for the mavs. if only he could shoot.....

At 1/19/2007 3:50 PM, Blogger The Assimilated Negro said...

josh howard might be more Tim Thomas-like under D'Ant.

At 1/19/2007 3:52 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

no way. howard would play the marion role and in fact, might even be better than marion.

At 1/19/2007 4:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was nice to see this discussion today, because I actually sent an email to several of my more dedicated sports fanatic friends announcing that with this week's performance (the Suns piece, and his BS about the Pats) I'm officially done with Bill Simmons forever.

It's sad, because for a while, he was one of my favorites, but as TAN pointed out (I think it was TAN), everything he writes is pretty much irrelevant at this point because I will have already read it somewhere else (probably FD) weeks before.

It's all been said, but his references are terrible, his obsession with the Bird/Magic Celts/Lakers is approaching embarrassing and the few times he actually writes something witty aren't worth the thousands of words of absolute crap you have to wade through to find it.

As for Howard, he's got 4 years fewer experience than Marion (although he's only 2 yrs his junior), and puts up almost identical numbers, shoots a little lower percentage from the floor, but better from 3pt. I gotta agree with Shoals here. I think they're pretty much a toss up, but I'm taking Howard as he's still on the ascent.

At 1/19/2007 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So does Simmons become the looking glass or rubber? Status enough to require contemplation; but is the analysis reflective or oppositional?

Um, Mike Miller sucks?

At 1/19/2007 4:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

mike miller really isn't as bad as everyone thinks/for some reason kind of hopes he is. he was the #2 scorer on the team with the 4th best record in the west last year.

At 1/19/2007 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

while i don't have a problem with discussing articles by someone like simmons, i don't see the point in picking apart each little sentence.

though you may not LIKE him, you all clearly recognize simmons as an important/popular/GOOD writer.

i don't want to say anything insulting, because the contributors to this blog are brilliant in their own way. but perhaps it is not becoming of FD and its excellence to spend to much time nit-picking bill simmons. of course, this was mostly done by TAN who i believe is not a regular FD contributor. anyway...

At 1/19/2007 4:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the fact that simmons just realized that everyone else hates the Patriots is legitimately absurd.

At 1/19/2007 4:49 PM, Anonymous Jesse said...

Gay homosexuals have gay buttsex and slurp each other's nuts. Dude...

I'm always confused by the rush to bury Simmons on blogs. It's Oedipal right? Do people devote entire blog entries to how they're done with Jim Caple or Scoop Jackson? (I know this wasn't that, but I've seen enough "I'm officially renouncing Simmons" articles around.) Look, he's entertaining enough, and has a pleasant prose voice, and he's not on Insider, so people go back and read him in spite of themselves, even though he's wrong about most things and out of date on the other things. (And people should probably know better than to read him after the Pats win or before a Colts game.)

But when he writes about basketball, he actually does have a bit of insight, as DLIC points out. And though you can get "the Suns are awesome to watch" here or elsewhere, he does have a few insights, such as the Nash screen thing, that do add to my enjoyment of the game. And maybe I could have gotten that here, but I didn't. Maybe I missed a day?

Now, this site also adds to my enjoyment of the game, becaus of its take on is player typology. Here Simmons is at his least interesting. For him players are intense winners, preening hot-dogs, stat-hungry chokers, great team guy... basic microwave sportswriter nonsense. This site excels at considerations that, if possibly no more accurate in any real sense, make the game much more compelling. Kobe, of course. The discussion of Howard a couple of weeks ago.

But the need to deal with him, to work through him, to consider each article... he's still got it, he's lost it. It's not just like kids rolling their eyes at their father, right? He actually is somehow the father of the genre? Confused.

At 1/19/2007 4:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, if you just said "Mike Miller sucks," I hope you've seen him play this year. The guy is a pretty sweet offensive player. Great passer, decent rebounder, obviously great scorer, pretty athletic. Because he's rather pale, people see him and think, "slightly better version of Wally Sczscherbiaake," but that's a terrible comparison. Miller does a lot more than stand there and shoot.

Second, if you took all of the gay sex references out of this post, what would be left?

At 1/19/2007 5:53 PM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

I'm not buying "Marion is better than LJ" just yet. You could, although it makes me cringe a little, argue that The Matrix is getting his numbers due to the system he plays in as well as having Nash on the squad.

LJ also went through a dramatic change in how he played the game when his knees went -- he changed from the next Barkley to a 3-point shooter.

At 1/19/2007 6:17 PM, Anonymous paper tiger said...

i'll agree that the simmons bashing gets comical and cliche at this point, but whether it's all the new blood around or the fact that his is so old, you have to admit he's fallen off. i mean, am i the only one who read his patriots column the other day and thought he was writing about himself?

At 1/19/2007 6:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

am i the only one who read his patriots column the other day and thought he was writing about himself?

No, he admitted and basically said that if you don't like it, fuck you. In a way, this post proves Simmmons latest to be true. We are a nation of haters, as you guys are all up in arms about the same shit that made you read him in the first place. Tiresome.

And, I've said it before, but read this, and your Suns love will become fawning as well.

At 1/19/2007 6:38 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Bill Simmons may have fallen off, but I'm gonna keep reading his stuff cause I'm hoping he'll tell that story of Bird shooting only with his left hand again.

At 1/19/2007 7:04 PM, Blogger The Assimilated Negro said...

Shoals - hmmm, I think marion would be even more impressive under Avery, what say ye?

Just to holler at some of the comments, particularly those in defense of simmons... I think the headline and lead question should be kept in mind, its just discussion. There's plenty of reverence for Bill on this site...

And personally, I like to be all "sensational" when I'm e-mailing or blogging (ref. boobs and elephant poop in first post), hence the gay-sex references and exclamation points!!! Its the only way I can cut through all the spam. In fact this is unseen and unposted, but I also attached pictures of Paris Hilton and Jessica Biel with each e-mail to make sure I get DLIC's attention.

At 1/19/2007 7:19 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i thought the whole reason that this suns thing warranted discussion is that his nba columns still are events. we're doing on a post on it not to repeat that he's fallen off, but to dine on the flesh of something resembling a return to form. devoting this much space to trashing someone meaningless would be stupid; giving it a lengthy treatment only proves that there is still something there worth considering and responding to.

At 1/19/2007 7:27 PM, Anonymous amphibian said...

I dislike Devean George to an extreme: although he's seen as a complimentary/hustle player, he misses assignments, doesn't seem to know where to go on the floor yet and his overall demeanor makes me wish Cuban would install a Fan-Ordered Bench voting machine next to each Dallas seat, tabulate the votes at the half and then institute said benching.

At 1/19/2007 7:51 PM, Blogger seezmeezy said...

not much new to add on the simmons' opinions, so i'll state mine and add 2 that i haven't seen yet

yes, he has fallen off; however, i attirbute it more to others catching up to him rather than him falling back to the pack. maybe not even others catching up, but others simply being given an equally accesible voice (i can access freedarko quicker than a simmons article.) what separated him from other writers was his unique perspective and undeniable talent for writing. now his perspective is no longer unique and comprable or better writing styles are readily available.

as for the boston bias and constant regurgitation... it's tough to criticize dude for what we used to praise him for. he's basically an absolute sports maniac, but he's also a writer. sometimes it's tough to tell which is the predominant trait. that makes him human and more accessible than clayton's pieces or forde's pieces, which are just as information driven but far less personal. part of being personal is being biased, part of being biased is constantly mentioning your teams... and the patriots happen to have been the most dominant team of the last 5 years. of course he's going to suck their nuts and always mention them; he'd be a different writer if he didn't and his past works wouldn't have made the impact they obviously have on freedarko writers and others.

finally, does anyone know how the change of editors at page 2 has effected his work? i've noticed a pretty dramatic shift in his ability to be funny over the last few months and i'm pretty sure they got a new editor.

At 1/19/2007 8:06 PM, Anonymous fix_the_knicks said...

I accept all of the above arguments in favor of the canonization of Avery Johnson -- he was exactly what that team needed, and his way was the only way forward after losing Nash. But at the same time, you have to admit that he got flat out punked in the finals last year by Riles. Given the balance of talent between those two teams, I will believe to the day that I die that if you switched the coaches, the Mavs win in 5.

T.A.N. -- i can't open those attachments, could you re-send?

At 1/19/2007 8:11 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

overcome your weakness, how fundamental is that. while d'ant masks the weakness. yes, big difference there.

Wait, I'm not sure there is a difference. What is the Suns' game but putting the emphasis on passing and shooting? In doing so, it's no worse than any other flawed team that tries to alter the game plan to their strengths, except the Suns are the most successful/innovative. To me, the only ones really overcoming are teams that are changing around their roster.

...when it comes down to it, the teams that win championships are the teams with huge front lines...

This to me indirectly speaks to a conundrum of sports that doesn't get fair discussion, which is the whole idea of picking a champion. Are we saying that the Suns have found a way to maximize wins while not necessarily being able to excel in short showdowns? So does that make them Moneyball? More importantly, does that mean they're actually worse?

Look at soccer. In those leagues, they play everyone an equal number of times and they tally it up at the end of the year. Just a tangential semi-rant.

And yes, Durant is like one of those full-spectrum lightbulbs when you're used to regular incandescent. He's ahead of Oden, for now. The TX/OKSt game was pure candy; Majerus called him a supernova about 4 times, and also referred to him as "Kevin Garnett on the come." I'd love to see him top out at 7'2".

At 1/19/2007 8:15 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

I will believe to the day that I die that if you switched the coaches, the Mavs win in 5.

In-game coach versus team-building coach--is it possible to be both, or are they mutually exclusive? And what do you call D'Ant?

At 1/19/2007 8:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally, does anyone know how the change of editors at page 2 has effected his work? i've noticed a pretty dramatic shift in his ability to be funny over the last few months and i'm pretty sure they got a new editor.

I've noticed he's allowed to take a lot more shots at on-air "talent" (now, if he can only start calling Easterbrook a douchebag on a regular basis...)

At 1/19/2007 8:59 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

" little miss sunshine was a terribly overrated film that stole from everybody"
SML strongly concurs.

At 1/19/2007 9:03 PM, Anonymous cw said...

I got to say I agree with Simmons that the eighties teams--celtics, lakers, philly--were the peak of bball so far. I think if you really watch how they played and then watched how the pistons, bulls, spurs, lakers played, and then thought about matchups (kareem vrs. Luc Longly, McHale vrs. Rodman, Moses vrs ????) that you might come over to the 80s side. The thing to remember about those three 80s teams is that they were as big, as fast, as deep, and played better team ball than any of the champions that followed. I think the only team that might have been able to beat the big three are the bulls becasue of jordan and jackson. But then again, the match up, the match ups.... Dennis Johnson or Paxson or Kerr? Hmmmm... Worthy or horace grant? Bobby Jones or Kukok?

And I also think that when comparing eras, you leave things like atheltic training advances out. I mean if your going to imagine the 80s celtics playing the kobe/shaq lakers in some imaginary present, then you can just as easily imagine that they both have access to the same training.

At 1/19/2007 9:09 PM, Anonymous Mavis Beacon said...

a lot of great stuff, here.

One thing I'd note is that Miami won last year without a dominant big manr. They had a formerly dominant center. They are not the same thing.

At 1/19/2007 9:17 PM, Anonymous trouc said...

Russell on Wallace : "When I was playing, I was innovative," he said. "I didn't have a teacher. When you see the game these guys are playing is where I left off. In high school, I'd never seen anybody block a shot. Conventional wisdom at the time was that no good defensive player ever leaves his feet. I had to fight to be able to do that."


The old man trap -> I think you've got to be warry of projecting somebody like Howard or Lebron back into the past because the game's not exclusively about athletics, you've also got technique, the notion of what's possible in the game. Without Russell, would somebody like Howard even *think* to play the way he does? Ditto Magic and Lebron. Maybe this aspect of the bball gets downplayed because athletic progress is more or less constant while innovation is fairly rare and ultra-individualistic. I guess this is just to say that you can't compare Magic vs Lebron or Chamberlin vs KG because Magic and Chamberlin *invented the game*.

At 1/19/2007 9:28 PM, Anonymous fix_the_knicks said...

"In-game coach versus team-building coach--is it possible to be both, or are they mutually exclusive? And what do you call D'Ant?"

Salt Bagel, if I understand your comment, the basic point is that Riley excelled in the in-game aspect, while Avery gave his team an identity -- something Riles didn't have to do as much. That's fair. Basically I was just emphasizing that for all his strengths as a coach, Avery had exactly one play to get Dirk the ball in that series, and after the Heat shut it down, it was pretty much over. Also, psychologically, I thought he mishandled the whole refereeing situation, allowing the Mavs to use it as an excuse. But when the boss (Cuban) sets the tone, I guess there isn't much the coach can do about it.

And as for Mavis Beacon -- it wasn't just Shaq. Much to my chagrin, Alonzo made a significant impact in that series on the defensive end. That said, I don't think that Heat team could have possibly gotten by the Spurs. So the maybe the argument should be that you need a dominant frontline to win the West.

At 1/19/2007 10:22 PM, Anonymous johnny5 said...

they give up the fourth most opposing rebounds in the Association

To be fair, there's a lot more possessions in their games. I'd like to see how they compare when that's averaged out. They're somewhere near the middle of the pack when looking at their/opponent rebounding differential (-2.3).

At 1/20/2007 1:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

However (im)measurable simmons' decline over the past few years, he is still at his sharpest when writing about basketball, and his accessability and general popularity, not to mention his obvious zeal for the game itself, can only provide a greater interest in the NBA (never a bad thing). And, sure, he's a bit of a sell out, in some ways (his Godfather/Celtics articles back on digital city were better than nearly anything he's written since), but I think if he gets more people watching the Suns, more people watching and talking about the NBA, then that's good for the league (and ultimately good for other ballblogs, like fd). Right?

At 1/20/2007 1:18 AM, Anonymous paper tiger said...

any of y'all think that your idea that simmons is only sharp on basketball is related to that being the only sport you care about? that's not an accusation... but, shit, someone like shoals, you say all the time that other sports don't mean nearly as much to you. why would you then fault a simmons football column for not giving you a boner?

At 1/20/2007 2:14 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

uhhhh. . .i'll answer that. it's not like i'm totally ignorant of other sports. and besides, good writing should precede in-depth knowledge. simmons made me like basketball even more than i already did; i certainly know, or at least knew, enough about football and baseball that a quality column would've had a similar, if less pronounced, effect.

btw, his "cooperstown should be shaped like a pyramid" piece is one of the best things he's ever written IMHO, and that's not basketball.

At 1/20/2007 9:27 AM, Anonymous Scott said...

I completely agree with the above comments that BS is at his best writing about basketball because he knows more about it...but to provide an opposing view, one of my friends who hates the NBA looks forward to the 'regular' columns and referred to the NBA stuff as 'masturbatory'. naturally, I think my friend is wrong, and less cool than me for not recognizing the embarrassment factor derived of the 50 cent references and reality-tv breakdowns...no accounting for taste, I guess.

At 1/20/2007 11:56 AM, Anonymous 999%NBAspaceLAZER said...

stfu adam shefter's swag is phenomenal http://scoopsnoodle.com/adam_schefter/adam_schefter.html

At 1/20/2007 12:59 PM, Anonymous Petey said...

"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"

Yup. And that's why letting Nash go was actually the right move.

They basically traded Nash for Dampier, and counter-intuitively, Dampier has been more important toward the goal of building a title winner around Dirk than the two time reigning MVP would have been.

At 1/20/2007 1:06 PM, Blogger The Assimilated Negro said...

trouc - that's sort of interesting, the idea that even if you're 7'6 and can jump out a building, you might not *think* to block a shot ...

I"m dubious though, don't the athletic gifts beget the consideration of how to use them? Shaq would have broken rims and support systems, whether seen before or not, because he could.

Don't the great players possess some innate instinct, that is distinguishable precisely because it can't be taught?

Maybe that's overly romantic.

At 1/20/2007 4:15 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

shaq ripping down goals didn't exactly take imagination or any level of reasoning. but someone like garnett--is it guaranteed that anyone with that skill set could've devised the game he has? what about lamar odom? ak-47?

at some point, the player's mind has to factor into the invention of an on-court vocabulary. as long as they're doing something remotely distinctive. when it comes to athletic creativity, there's a fine line between instinct and intention; still, acting in the instant is different than a career-long tendency.

At 1/20/2007 5:17 PM, Anonymous Freddie said...

"as you guys are all up in arms about the same shit that made you read him in the first place"

But that's exactly the problem. It's the same old shit, over and over and over and over again, the same tired article, the same worn-out, shticky formula. Don't you think that the fact that his mailbag always feature writers who are absolutely indistinguishable from the man himself tell you something?

As for the Durant in the 50s thing, the assumption that natural athleticism is getting better and better inevitably involves a)a deeply flawed understanding of evolution and the time it takes, and/or a)a tacit acceptance of race theory.

At 1/20/2007 5:48 PM, Anonymous cw said...

"As for the Durant in the 50s thing, the assumption that natural athleticism is getting better and better inevitably involves a)a deeply flawed understanding of evolution and the time it takes..."

I think in general this is true, but then again, it only takes one mutation to change evoloution and that can happen at any time, not to say that to it has... But what has really improved is training techniques. Basketball player never used to lift weights, for instance. Plus, physical innovators (like magic, or nowitzki) show others what's possible so now we get Livingstons and Barganinis.

At 1/20/2007 11:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But what has really improved is training techniques.
And nutrition. We may get more fat than we used to, but we also get more calories and more protein at a younger age, so we're measurably taller on average than we were.

Also, when your population is bigger (the country has twice as many people as it did in the 50s), you have more physical outliers. More freaks == more NBA-size people == better, on average, basketball players.

Oh, and duration of training- potential stars begin training and getting taught at a much younger age than they used to, so even if you think bodies are the same (which they aren't) the basic skills are more developed at a younger age.

The great outliers- the Russells of the world- would be great in any age. But the average NBA player today would kick the crap out of the average NBA player of 40 years ago.

At 1/21/2007 12:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Every champ for the the last 15 years had THE dominant frontcourt/post-player or MJ. There's no way around it."

I don't know about that. Pistons 2004 had the wallaces. They couldn't contain shaq, and as I remember, they barely tried to. Does that mean the suns can do the same? No but maybe they don't have to.

At 1/21/2007 12:34 PM, Anonymous Hylas said...

I will believe to the day that I die that if you switched the coaches, the Mavs win in 5.
... but if you switched the referees, the Mavs win in 4.

Seriously, I'm not watching basketball for that long a time, to know enough about Riley's heroics in earlier championship endeavours, but I do not believe that he outcoached his opponent in last year's finals. In fact, I always imagined his players to be rather embarrassed by his "15 strong"-tub, if anything, and not miraculously motivated.

If you take players like Mourning and Walker this close to the trophy, you don't need to be a great coach, to bring out the best of them. If you then add arguable calls, the best defence on Nowitzki in the post season, a psychological breakdown of the Mavericks, and a magnificent Dwyane Wade, the Heat take home the Larry O'Brien.

At 1/21/2007 2:51 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

"I don't know about that. Pistons 2004 had the wallaces. They couldn't contain shaq, and as I remember, they barely tried to. Does that mean the suns can do the same? No but maybe they don't have to."

did you watch that series? they had elden campbell, corliss williamson, the wallaces, and mehmet okur harrassing the shit out of shaq. the key was that they never tried to double him too much, so another big could control the paint. that is the genius of larry brown.

At 1/21/2007 10:10 PM, Anonymous Petey said...

"But at the same time, you have to admit that he got flat out punked in the finals last year by Riles. Given the balance of talent between those two teams, I will believe to the day that I die that if you switched the coaches, the Mavs win in 5."

Yup. With Dampier and Diop, Johnson had one of the few rosters in the league that could cover Shaq halfway decently without resorting to doubling.

Yet he stuck with the double for most of the series, letting Wade play 4 on 3. Absolutely crazy strategery, and single-handedly responsible for losing the series.

At 1/21/2007 10:58 PM, Blogger The Assimilated Negro said...

The Finals/Riley reminder does slow my Avery-roll a little bit. But I think Wade's performance simply transcended coaching, whoever had Wade would not be denied.

At 1/22/2007 5:55 PM, Anonymous Microbano said...

In reaching the "we look forward to BS NBA pieces because of his nuanced insight into the game" quorum, this forum is confusing cause and effect.

The insight, whether generated via fanatic fan-dom or research and study or simply NBA horse sense is the foundation upon which Simmons builds what I think actually keeps us reading - and that is the playfulness with which he treats both the game and the players.

His shit pop-culture references make his insight seem a little more approachable, and him sound a little more like someone putting sports in their proper context. I don't think that his legion of fan-boy readers born long after 90210 ceased to be prime time fare particularly care that the references are dated - or that he seems to be reaching for fresher ones.

He shares their passion, but also seems to be able to couch it in a context and a language by which he can explain it to - and even share it with - his wife.

And that is the ageing fan-boys ultimate sports fantasy.

At 1/22/2007 6:10 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i think of simmons' insight into basketball as inherently playful. it's hard for me to separate the two, which is why he consistly has original insight. the pop culture stuff is incidental, and thus could easily be lost for all eternity.

At 1/24/2007 2:29 AM, Blogger DrewRicketts said...

Steve Nash, in terms of similarity scores on Basketball-Reference.com is Mark Price in his prime. I caught hella flack for positing this notion among fellow NBA-fanatic friends. For one, I'm no stat junkie. Second, Mark Prizzle was nice in his own right and led those Cavs to decent (not historic) playoff runs. The person who said it best about BSimms encapsulates my view as well: we're enamored with watching him play more than we are the results of his play.

I think the man is genius with the ball and makes his teammates enormously better. Do I think Nash makes his mates better than Kidd or Magic made his? Not really. I believe we are more apt in the blog-happy world to talk about it because it's current. The world of sportswriting has made Nash an MVP nearly as much as his skills on the court. The snowball effect of saying someone is good or bad can turn Mike Miller from good complementary player to one with "great" all-around game and subsequently "2nd option on the West's 4th best team." Getting my drift here.

I'm going to co-sign on Avery being genius and even D'Ant being creative. Nash, however, is not the player I want leading me to the chip round. I don't think anyone here takes him over Kobe, Dirk, Flash or a Declinin' Duncan.

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At 4/13/2009 5:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...




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