Court Is Closed

I don't expect anyone to sympathize with, or even like, my latest McSweeney's column. Therein, I reveal that Gilbert Arenas has undone this sport for me. To me, the Bulls will always be an inferior team. The Cavs will be tarpit of sorrow for LBJ, regardless of whatever win streak they may rig up away from my prying eyes. Short of the Suns, actual basketball may have ceased to exist for me. I know we hatched this League of Psychology, but I think it might have gone too far and effectively ended my NBA existence. All I am left with is performance art, and I expect this blog to forever reflect this ennui. Sorry about that.

Oh, and here's the man himself on the game in question. From Steinz, by way of interviewer Information Leafblower:

Leaf: "Gil, how would rate your swag tonight?"

Gilbert Arenas: [laughs] "It was a mellow swag until the end."

Leaf: "Is there a scale? Can you get better than phenomenal or is that the top?"

Gilbert Arenas: "No, phenomenal is the top. Phenomenal swag is the top swag."

Leaf: "So mellow swag is in the middle?"

Gilbert Arenas: "Yeah, you're just chilling."


At 1/12/2007 10:38 AM, Blogger Trey said...

Short of the Suns

Thankfully, this line is included because they were incredible to watch last night. I have the game tivod to watch again later.

Steve "Canadian Communist" Nash was marvelous. If Russia had been this good at giving of themselves for the benefit of the whole, maybe they would have succeeded.

At 1/12/2007 11:01 AM, Blogger Wade Word said...

Obviously I am not smart enough, but I have no idea what you are doing here. I watch the NBA. I read books and am in tune with pop culture. I just don't get your take. I have been reading this blog for a while, and will continue to, but I just don't get it. It is kinda like how biochemical slang is about hip-hop, but has nothing to do with music or fun.
Well, keep it up, I guess.
Wade Word

At 1/12/2007 12:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

not to bring up Kobe again, but that's what I sometimes see Kobe as, performance art.

At 1/12/2007 1:15 PM, Blogger T. said...

athletes subjugating the ultimate goal of the game (wins) to fulfill their own vision of the grander game is nothing new. Wilt led the league for an entire season in assists because he was tired of hearing he was selfish. There's a million more examples (kobe in last year's playoffs, etc.) - so I think it's not really gilbertology and his talent for doing so that may have ruined the league writ large for you, but the fact that he's your favorite player and you focus on him.

Yes, Gil is a unique player and a unique character - but the examples of being contrary you list have their own tradition.

WV: jdcrp - Juan Dixon, Corporate. A statement of how Balmer has sold out.

At 1/12/2007 1:48 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

t.--this wasn't that. he was barely even there, this despite no one really stopping him, and him being a point guard who should technically have some hand in every possession.

At 1/12/2007 2:19 PM, Anonymous Evan said...

This is getting way too emo.

At 1/12/2007 2:20 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

people who use the word "emo" are already way too "emo."

At 1/12/2007 2:26 PM, Anonymous Josh said...

You didn't think anyone was stopping him? From the upper deck, it looked to me like Hinrich was really quick on defense and actually (surprisingly) managed to cut off any route Gilbert wanted to take to the basket. My take was that that containment was why Gil took so few shots, and attempted so few drives, in most of the game.

At 1/12/2007 2:39 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

did they put gordon on him in the last four minute or something?

i know what you're saying, and maybe i overstated the "no one stopping him" argument. but you've got to admit, he just seemed to shut down. it reminded me of what i said a few weeks back about gerald wallace on the perimeter, except gilbert has the tool to at least try and make something happen from anywhere on the floor. not taking a single shot, and not clearly facilitating the offense, is spooky, not smart or calculated.

At 1/12/2007 2:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't know if it's fair to blame gilbert or the association for what seems to be a neurotic fixation on a single player & insatiable desire to see hime both define and live up to a singular, unpinpoitable aesthetic...

what could possible save basketball under these parameters (except an unlikely proliferation of nash's suns, which itself would necessitate diminishing returns of excitement)?

At 1/12/2007 3:03 PM, Blogger R.G. said...

I can understand Gil having an off night but cat didn't even attempt a shot until the latter half of the 4th quarter. Frankly, I was afraid that he was going Kobe on us and proving that he can lead a team to victory without scoring but I honestly think the combo of Duhon, Hinrich and Gordon has him shook defensively in some sort of weird way. I just thank God the Wiz have Caron and Tawn to carry the offense from time to time.

At 1/12/2007 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the Bulls played the Lakers a few weeks ago they pretty much shut down Kobe, surely a major source of inspiration for Gilbert, in a similar fashion. He went for 19 or 20, was consistenly forced into bad shots, and even fouled out with about a minute and a half left (nailing Thabo's arm on a long deuce, after which he performed a Mutumboesque finger wag at the officials as if to say, "I'm Kobe Bryant, I don't foul out of games b/c I have evolved beyond such petty concerns", which was a goad for the delighted crowd to taunt all the harder). The Bulls, one of the league's best defensive teams, similarly shut down Gilbert by focusing on him.

Nothing was spooky about Gilbert's game; Hinrich played great defense by picking him up right over the time line, staying with him and not biting on his ball/head fakes. Also, the Bulls tailored their game plan to stop him, frequently collapsing when he drove. This allowed Antawn Jamison (who Luol Deng had difficulty stopping) and several Wizards bench players to have big games. Arenas wisely backed off and allowed his teammates to take advantage of the Gilbert-focused defensive scheme.

No offense, but the McSweeney's article, while beautifully written, comes off way, way over the top. It basically paints a picture of Arenas as a Zen master, a Sufi mystic drifting ethereally across the surface of the court. I admit that he is a fascinating charcter for many reasons; underdog indentification, the man who everyone doubted proves them wrong, Agent Zero, Gilbertology, etc. but you're fetishizing him to an extreme. What about Jim McMahon, World B Free, Mark Fidrych, Darryl Dawkins, and on? Gilbert exists in the framework of a long line of gregarious eccentrics in pro sports, but the Internet has made him into a virtual messiah.

If basketball no longer exists for you outside of the Suns and Gilbert, then I feel sad for you, especially because it seems so central to your life that you have this great blog (which I've only been reading for several weeks, so maybe I'm missing the point as well). As talented and fascinating as Gilbert is, he is still only a cog in a machine that is greater than the sum of its' parts.

At 1/12/2007 3:30 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

anon 3:17: i am assuming this is a phase, and a fairly ridiuclous one at that. i also think, as i said last week, that bloggers have done a lot to obscure what gilbert really is: a very talented, very confident, playful, and colorful NBA star. i wasn't happy that i saw the way the game i did, though i think the truth lies somewhere between "heinrich unmanned him" and whatever the fuck it was i said.

incidentally, my fanhouse post about no mas's darryl dawkins interview began with the following sentence:

One thing I've learned in this business is that you've always got to keep things in perspective. And with all the talk these days about Gilbert Arenas, you'd think he was the first athlete ever to say something strange to the press.

At 1/12/2007 3:33 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

oh, two more things: most of freedarko is overwritten and exaggaerated, i think. and also, if basketball has currently ceased to exist for me outside of the suns and the wizards, there's probably a kernel of universally applicable truth to my madness

i've also grown extremely disillusioned with following the east. the resaon i mentioned that cavs' streak is beacuse i'd had no idea it was gong on, and felt stupid; then watching them get eviscerated by the suns, i felt stupid for having ever felt stupud for having not known about it.

At 1/12/2007 3:52 PM, Anonymous jd said...

BS: anon 3:17 here. I didn't mean to criticize your article so much as to point out that the Gilbertology phenomenon has been so overblown by cerebral bloggers that it's to the point where it has become self-reflexive/referential. I don't want to say it's an updated case of minstrelism (which isn't even a word, natch) but while Gilbert is obviously cultivating his image to a point I doubt that he is aware of poignant exaggeration of his Internetology celebrity.

I am not the most knowledgeable basketball fan; I like your blog precisely because of it's overwritten, overexaggerated emphasis on the intangible side of basketball, and by extension, all sports. I don't doubt that kernel of truth in the madness. I especially loved the description of Nash/Amare as tragic heroes, destined to eventually fall because of their gifts. And the East is often unwatcheable of late, a fetid and bubbling stew of mediocrity. The Bulls (of whom I am a fan) have inherited, possible along with the Rockets outside of TMac, the title of unsexieset style of basketball from the Pistons/Spurs of yore, and so for me in a way the shutting down of a Gilbert/Kobe or a game where Ben Wallace's receding brilliance tantalizes with a fleeting demonstration of dominance is the equivalent of an exquisite Gilbert 3-ball. My favorite single moment so far this season was actually Gilbert's deadeye 3 over Raja Bell in OT to seal the game after he'd made a huge motion of waving all his teammates away from the basket.

Sorry to be so long-winded, but it's been a godawful day of drudgery at work.

At 1/12/2007 6:05 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

i quote from the AP game recap:

"Washington earned a seventh consecutive home victory even though Arenas didn't even attempt a second-half field goal until there were fewer than 6 minutes left in the game -- a result of coach Eddie Jordan's halftime chastising about forcing shots.

[emphasis mine]

so, shoals isn't the only one who thought arenas's behavior in the second half was odd. it is basically the same scenario as when he didn't shoot for almost a whole game after being criticized for not passing enough. both times, he was probably more immature than "eccentric."

At 1/13/2007 1:57 PM, Anonymous Freddie said...

What if you just want everyone to stop slurping Arenas so hard?

At 1/16/2007 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been waiting for this moment. You're oversaturated. Either wait for the playoffs, or try following the Milwaukee Bucks. They are going to explode when everyone comes back. Hope.

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