1.12.2007

The Myth of Thomasyphus


Have you seen the salesman?

Have you seen him? He is selling —SHOCK!

He wishes us to reach into our toilet bowls and grab the shit out of the bowl and hold it up to the light, and see that in fact this shit may be .... INCREDIBLE SHIT! Do you not realize this piece of shit has value!!

Look here, he runs to us with books, graphs, and charts of “value picks,” bellowing the name “Renaldo Balkman” from the heavens. “Look,” he implores, “you got YOUR shit at the lowest possible price. You’ve even gotten a little shitty return on your last trip to the bathroom. Rejoice!!! This shit will one day fertilize your barren soil and help seed the birth of a new landscape!!”

We appreciate your shitty mathematics salesman, but it’s still feces. It’s smelly, and stains the hands. It sullies your clothes. It is not attractive. It is feces. We will flush it now.

“But look what this shit can do! Renaldo Balkman!!!”


Do you know the Myth of Thomasyphus?

Do you seek to deny the absurd inevitable fate of our tragic hero pushing the shoulder-slumbering payroll up the mountain?

Tragedy seeks not defense, only acceptance. And so we weep, in fact perhaps we don’t boo so much as we utterly, cosmically, and forcefully sob.

The salesman spies our tears and presumes we need cheering up. But while waiting for Godot, we need little consolation, only interesting conversation. And certainly we need no finger-pointing to Thomasyphus halfway up the mountain, extolling the half-truth that “things are going well.” His fate is already sealed, his tragic flaws long revealed. This is why we weep so forcefully, why the night is so dark.

Of course the tragic figure has virtues, without them he would not be tragic. Such is our narrative, the interminable rise and fall. From our vantage point, 6,000 feet beyond the NBA and time, every game affords us a screening of the whole meaningless transaction. And so we weep. But not for lack of remembering happier times.

Tragedy begins with great joy. And weren’t we truly joyous seeing this man accrue talent through sheer vision and will? Oh, do you not remember the parades and spilled champagne when we imported the cancer directly into the heart of the team? We cheered while bestowing upon Phoenix a new life, and leaving our own destiny forever flawed and in need of chemotherapy.

Oh the joy! We covered every inch of concrete from Brooklyn to the Bronx with liquor in saluting the return of our own homegrown prodigal son. Do you not remember salesman? Do you not remember the tears of joy? They taste no different than the ones we shed today.

Tragedy begins with great joy. And weren’t we truly joyous when in a moment of the purest genius Thomasyphus realized, if you don’t have the talent, the only alternative is “The Great Coach.” There are but a handful of fish who can spawn under any conditions, given the time and freedom to fully impose their will. And he catches one and gives it to us.

Oh the joy! We drank Mike’s Hard Lemonades until six in the morn on the day Larry Brown was hired. Do you not remember salesman? Do you not remember the tears of joy? They taste no different than the ones we shed today.


But we understand the nature of your beast salesman, we need not dig too deep into this silly pathology, it is a pitch built on the effuse of flare guns. Alive for a moment on the front page, catching your eye, only to fizzle and disintegrate when watched with any sort of steady gaze. We envy your check, and embrace you with the same ardent love we embrace our father, but also offer a warning: Be mindful of your environment. Alas, such caddish opportunism only contributes to the inconvenient truth of global warming in sports journalism:
“But if I was rebuilding an NBA team, Isiah Thomas would be the first person I'd call. Why? Renaldo Balkman.”
Really salesman?
“If Lee, Curry, Richardson, Channing Frye and Jared Jeffries stay healthy and together, within three years they will be in a tug-of-war with LeBron James' and Dwight Howard's squads for supremacy in the East.”
Really salesman?
And I especially no longer fault him for drafting Balkman, who blocks more shots than No. 2 pick LaMarcus Aldridge, grabs more rebounds than No. 4 pick Tyrus Thomas ….
Some say Isiah could have gotten Balkman in the second round, or even signed him as a free agent. I say take a look at the 2006 NBA draft and point out a player selected after Balkman who could have helped the Knicks more this season
Tell me more of this Balkman you are selling salesman. Regale me with his epic tales of grandiose shot-blocking domination. It sounds compelling.
Critics say the Pacers floundered with Thomas as coach, but few care to mention the roster he inherited was not the roster Larry Bird led to the Finals the season before.
Indeed salesman, with Jermaine O’Neal, Brad Miller, Ron Artest, Reggie Miller, Al Harrington, Tinsley and other solid role players, some fools would argue his roster was better.


Look salesman, I wish you no harm of course, you are only selling your wares. You are only trying to pick up my spirit. But perhaps your pitch-perfect satire was published in the wrong venue. The parable of The Geek, The Bully, and The Idiot, is already being told to our children. They are learning the lessons so they won't be chained to this unending darkness. But it would take a Herculean effort to turn back the hands of time now, and until such an event, Thomasyphus continues to roll the payroll up to the top of the mountain. And no one thinks it will stay there, not even you.

Perhaps another tact: Charts and spreadsheets of draft picks can’t process the infinitely complex algorithms of the heart. And we native New York Knick fans now only bleed concrete and pain in lieu of blue and orange. Our love has been turned over too many times. Our soul knows only betrayal (and an inability to defend on the ball) … and so let us weep together salesman. Let us share in this most primal of emotions. Let us weep until the night becomes the day once again.


...thus spach TANathustra

24 Comments:

At 1/12/2007 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Word.

 
At 1/12/2007 2:47 PM, Blogger Trey said...

Granderson contradicts himself anyways. Arguing that he would call Thomas first to rebuild a franchise, then stating in the last sentence that he wouldn't give him the checkbook. Everyone agrees that he can scout. Clearly this is what he should stick to.

 
At 1/12/2007 4:21 PM, Blogger Captain Caveman said...

Hey! The Assimilated Negro isn't Jewish! I want my money back.

However, I liked the part with the boobies.

 
At 1/12/2007 4:41 PM, Anonymous Fred said...

That kangaroo pic is awesome. Sums it up beautifully. I can't take my eyes off it. Even more than the boobs.

Good work TAN. I didn't know you were Jewish either.

 
At 1/12/2007 4:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is as moving a post as I've read at FreeDarko in months. But couldn't one argue that Lee and Curry are two chunks of corn in the feces that is the knicks roster? By my count, they're a pass first point guard and a shot blocking power forward away from being a good team. Rihardson can shoot and defend on the perimeter, Lee can rebound, Crawford is offense off the bench, Curry can score down low. It's not all ash and toxic waste is it? Is it? Oh god, IS IT!?

 
At 1/12/2007 5:34 PM, Blogger T. said...

Hey! Guest FreeDrako! I like it, inasmuch that DLIC, Shoals and Silverbird have their perspectives, it's good to read something that's not Suns or Gilbert centric.

LZ Granderson = StopMikeLupica?

Heh. I kid. I kid.

I don't have much to add, except trey is right - no one doubts Zeke's talent scouting ability (which goes all the way back to drafting Mighty Mouse, Camby and TMac with the Raptors). It's financial sense and trading for a fantasy team which will ultimately serve as Zeke's undoing. Eventually. Assuming Dolan has eyes or listens to his fanbase.

 
At 1/12/2007 5:40 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

curry can score down low. unfortunately, he can't do ANYTHING ELSE. q's back is never going to last for 82 games in one season. crawford would be a great sixth man, but he's basically being relied on as the primary scorer a lot of nights. lee's my dude, though. i couldn't stop talking about him during that draft. ask shoals.

you're right that they need a pass first point guard and a shot blocking power forward. those aren't easy to come by, though. the knicks should merge with the hornets. they've got paul and all those young athletic shot-blockers like cedric simmons and hilton armstrong.

 
At 1/12/2007 6:04 PM, Anonymous D-Wil said...

I must admit, Granderson makes a compelling case. The Knicks' nucleus is nice. They need a real point guard like Derek Raivio of Gonzaga (JUST KIDDING! I just wanted to see if peeps were paying attention). Seriously, they need to dump Starbury and Steve Francis and they need a nice young PG not named Nate Robinson, unless, of course, he grows the hell up. They'll need a littler depth and they'll need to realize that if they value defense like the just-a-bit-older Chicago Bulls do, they can win ----- big.

I know its easy to have some real dislike for Isiah Thomas; he's always made me queasy. But, along with some horrendous moves, he's also stocked quite a bit of young talent.

 
At 1/12/2007 6:28 PM, Blogger The Assimilated Negro said...

yeah, the point is that being a good talent evaluator does not a GM make, as Granderson knows. Moreover, and I didn't dig into this much, if you are a good talent evaluator but can't make things work, it demonstrates how bad your other faults are.

In the end Thomas likely suffers from the same ego-itis that plagues others, both active and retired execs. He's always been a "tough love" type, who was good enough as a ball player that he didn't have to worry about burning bridges, or being an empathetic teammate. Just be brilliant on the court, similar to Jordan.

But as an exec, empathy and stepping outside of oneself is paramount. Thomas sealed his fate when he forced out Larry Brown to save himself. If he would have played the team game at that moment, we'd have light on the horizon.

Don't kid yourself, the youth on the Knicks make them more watchable, but they will never be a legit contender. Did someone just say something about Q being a shooter and perimeter defender? I think that illustrates my point perfectly. he does do that ... for the Knicks. David Lee is cool, but how many forwards you taking before him in a draft. The Knicks are interesting if you look at them in a vacuum, not in comparison to other teams

More than the shot-block presence and true point-guard, they need LEADERSHIP. A vision. Until we get a braintrust that has this in excess we are lost.

thus spach TANathustra ...

 
At 1/12/2007 6:54 PM, Anonymous mutoni said...

hey TAN, i thought The Takeover (Gawker, now FD) only applied to Gilbert. A very good addition to the team here, btw.

 
At 1/12/2007 7:12 PM, Anonymous D-Wil said...

TAN-
Hey, you're on the the pulse of the NYN - I'll take your word over my view from the hinterlands.

 
At 1/12/2007 9:53 PM, Blogger The Assimilated Negro said...

Does NYN stand for New York Negroes?

Yes, I scout them like po-po on a Saturday night. (oh snap!)

 
At 1/12/2007 10:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 6:04 PM, D-Wil said...

I must admit, Granderson makes a compelling case. The Knicks' nucleus is nice.


While I agree on a surface level, on the core level, I couldn't disagree more. Although I like Lee, Jeffries and Balkman, and I could be convinced re: Curry, they are not a nucleus. Nucleus is something you build around; those players are the guys you add to a nucleus.

And therein lies Isiah's problem. He's having minor successes in the draft and he's getting good last-piece-of-the-puzzle guys, but the puzzle he has is crap.

Ultimately, he's getting handcuffed by previous stupid decisions. Investing in Curry and James meant he couldn't keep Jackie Butler, even at a bargain, and Marcus Williams, a legit difference maker, gets passed over because Isiah has a backcourt logjam and is desperate for any defensive toughness.

So no, Lee and Curry don't vindicate Isiah. They merely highlight his inability to build a team, even with good pieces.

 
At 1/13/2007 12:39 AM, Blogger The Assimilated Negro said...

And think about what kind of shot-blocking PF you'd need to turn the Knicks into a contender. Dwight Howard?

What pass-first point guard? Steve Nash?

Also, to add on Isiah's ego as tragic flaw ... he has two major gaffes, mentioned Larry Brown, the other Marbury. marbury has never won. Last year he declared himself the best point guard in the NBA, so we have an INSANE person running the point, supposed to be our best player.

But maybe Starbury's ego problem has been bosltered by Isiah's. Isiah probably thinks if he were in the NBA, he could win, but he couldn't. It's a different NBA. If he weren't Marbury, maybe he'd be Chris Paul. But it wouldn't get over the same ... and so he heaps all that on Marbury. I mean how can Stephon declare himself the best PG in the NBA on his own? That's a bananas move in his position. He can't come off the court thinking that, our bodies don't lie ... so its got to be assist from Zeke on #3's insanity.

... so suspects TANathustra

 
At 1/13/2007 11:03 AM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Hey, TAN! I am huge TANfan, so I'm glad to see ya posting over here at FreeDarko.

I'm sure ya'll expecting me to defend Isiah, but I'm not going to (yet) - as I've said in the past, he's not a good GM, but he's not the worst, either.

However, I am going to get at Larry Brown. Alot of people have given Larry Brown a free pass, mostly because the sportsmedia refuses to tarnish his reputation; this is total BS. Larry Brown came in here last season, and got into a power struggle with Isiah for more control. He didn't want to be the coach, he wanted to be the big dog. Now, yes, you can argue that Dolan should have given him control, because he's the better choice to lead the franchise; that's fine, but those were not the terms he was hired under.

So he comes in, throws the season (no f*cking arguments, please - he took a 30ish win team the year before, added Curry, Q-Rich, Nate, Lee, and Frye, and the team dropped to a 21 win team), using every possible lineup possible. Routinely changing plays two to three times a week. He also uses his connections in the media to make Isiah look bad - this is when the "Isiah is the worst GM ever" stuff started in the MSM. Not before Brown, but last season.

But the worst point was pushing for the Francis trade, then throwing Zeke under the bus when it occured, letting the media go off on what an idiot Isiah is for making this trade, when it was at Brown's request. Then he goes to Dolan at the end of the year, and tells him to cut Francis (and Marbury), and eat their contracts. How do you think Dolan is gonna react - he knows Brown wanted Francis, but let the heat fall on the GM, then tells him the owner he wants Francis cut?!? With three years and 46 million let? So Dolan had enough of this sh*t, and cuts him lose instead (with 4 years and 40 million). And he's so pissed that he refuses to honor his contract. And you know what, there must have been enough evidence of Brown's misdealings, because he agreed to a buyout at 18 million.

I think Dolan would have fired Zeke and gone with Brown if Brown hadn't had blatantly turn the situation into shit. And I think Dolan still wants to fire Zeke, but fairly. Not because the media is trying to get revenge for Brown, but based on his own merits. He's refuse to allow Zeke to make any trades (seriously, when has Zeke ever gone this long without making a trade?), and has said, on the record, that Zeke has to show "improvement" (whatever that means) or he's gone.

So that's my theory: he wants to fire Zeke, but only on fair grounds, not based on a media witchhunt. If the Knicks collapse in the second half, he'll be gone. If the Knicks make the playoffs, or hang in the race for the Atlantic, he'll keep Zeke.

The Knicks are .500 over their last 20 games - there is improvement. Curry is still limited, but he's 24 and gets better every day. He's kicking the ball out when he gets doubled, or taking it in hard. He used his lefthand yesterday. He's growing. Lee and Frye are solid young players with value. Crawford is a top 6th, along the lines of Ben Gordon. Q-Rich is still young and deadeyed, plus a good defender. If the media wasn't feeding you a dose of negative shit every day, people might see a decent team in the making - not a championship team, but pieces, missing one or two parts. A pass first point plus a defensive PF (Artest?, even if he is a SF) = a team that can be a 4 or 5 seed in the East.

I like the Raptors future better (Bosh > anyone in the Atlantic), but the Knicks have a better future than Philly (though Oden might change that, no doubt), Boston (crap) or the Nets (Kidd is going for it now, because he know Carter ain't coming back; unfortunately Carter isn't going for it now, but we'll see come playoffs if he turns it on or not).

 
At 1/13/2007 11:30 AM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Just wanted to get at some of the comments: the general consensus is that the Knicks have some talent, but no nucleus. Here's my take: like D-Wil said the other day about planets, the Knicks are satellites with no planets. That's pretty accurate. Curry could become a planet, but that's potential, not reality.

However, you don't always need a planet to succeed - yeah, the Spurs have Duncan, Laker have Kobe, Dallas has Dirk. But what about the Jazz? Their main focus comes from MVP candidate Boozer, but no one builds their team around Boozer... it's the fact that everyone plays their part right that makes the Jazz good. Deron is a Nash like point guard; AK47 does the defense thing; Boozer is the big man; Okur spots up deep, allowing Boozer to be in the paint by himself, and if he kicks it to Okur he hits the three or whatever. The point is that you don't need that centerpiece to make it happen, if every does their job - look at the 04 Pistons.

So can the Knicks be the Jazz or Pistons? With a vision (like TAN, the Knicks lack that vision; I'm incline to agree with TAN), one could see the Knicks doing well with two additions - one for a pass first guard, the second for a forward who can defend. Jeffries was a shot at filling the second; he may not pan out that way, but we'll see. Balkman was also a shot at the second. Point is, at least Zeke seems to have identified one of his two most urgent needs. That's a sign, take it whichever way you want...

 
At 1/13/2007 6:35 PM, Anonymous throwawayidentity said...

Am I the only one who could see the knicks winning the titanic and zeke keeping his job(s)? Not that I'm saying the team is any good, but neither are the rest. And if they win the division, how do you fire him? Even if he does it at .500...

 
At 1/13/2007 6:36 PM, Blogger Unsilent Majority said...

"...they will be in a tug-of-war with LeBron James' and Dwight Howard's squads for supremacy in the East.”

Because Gilbert and Caron are OLD!

 
At 1/13/2007 9:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://espnbs.com/blog/index.php/2007/01/11/defending_isiah_the_impossible

Same article pissed me off too.

 
At 1/14/2007 3:29 PM, Blogger The Assimilated Negro said...

I acknowledge Larry's culpability in the linked bit on The Geek, Bully, and Idiot. He was stubborn and bullheaded. But I think drastic measures are called for with a guy like Marbury, the star/hub of your team, proclaiming himself the greatest PG in the NBA. Personally, I wouldn't have protested if he put Star in a solitary cell, with no food or drink, and forced him to watch clips of Nash and Kidd 24/7 clockwork orange style for a month.

We can't really speculate on who demanded trades for whom and then flip-flopped, so I keep that out, I didn't mind the Francis deal ... but it clearly was a power struggle and for Knicks fans the wrong person won. LB's the only guy with a winning track record, and that should obviously have been the bottom line trump card.

As far as planets and satellites, my side point here was there are a handful of coaches who might be planets themselves. Handful might be an overstatement, but LB is definitely one of them, and if there are actually five, then Sloan is one of them also. Sloan makes the Jazz. LB made the Pistons, when they were an actual contender, he showed a coach can be a planet. Hence his justifiable ego with the Knicks.

Dolan's an idiot, there's no excuse for him. The only reason Thomas is even nominally tolerable is because you have to concede he's dealing with the fallout from the true and living Godbody of Disgusting General Managers, the legendary Scott Layden.

For Dolan to go from Layden to this situation is indefensible, and we should treat him like Saddam, but the sad reality is that it does represent an improvement.

Sort of how the Knicks team has improved this year...

 
At 1/16/2007 1:16 PM, Anonymous Carlos said...

"it clearly was a power struggle and for Knicks fans the wrong person won. LB's the only guy with a winning track record, and that should obviously have been the bottom line trump card". Larry Brown as a GM? Seriously? Come on, Isiah may have flaws, but Larry Brown? The guy who wants to trade a different player every week? The genius who thought Mark Jackson was expendable and had to eat his words within a year? He may be a great coach, but he would be a truly horrible GM.

 
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