1.29.2007

With But Sanctity To Guide Them



Far too much time has passed since last we uncorked a far-fetched theory on how basketball works. In the midst of our Melo/AI unveiling chat, the subject of Marbury came up. The Recluse raised his voice in support of the thesis that, if he only had a brain, Stephon would be a top five player. That got me thinking immensely on the subject of potential, one that should not be alien to any longtime readers. Namely, the possibility that there are two kinds of potential: that which can only be actualized as goodness, and that which could just as easily be made use of for evil.

On the surface, there's nothing so remarkably strange about this claim. Look at it thusways: the NBA Dark Ages defined for us quite accurately how a player could have great success at something widely considered a failure. How one could excel utterly at a practice detrimental to the sport itself. An athletic, agile guard or SF can be an utterly game-changing presence, instant offense when the team needs a lift. At the same time, we can generally agree that these hooligans can often overestimate their own prowess or importance. The ratio of arrogance to relevance varies, and yet there remains one constant: scorers can either score in a way that helps or hinders the overall project of the offense. The same can be said of de facto instigators like Marbury; it's often noted that his assist totals paint a misleading picture of his team's chemistry.

arirang_01

Mind you, a healthy degree of arrogance is associated with what certain schools of thought have called "swag." All the great ones have it. Roosevelt. Roosevelt. Pushkin. Belvedere. Grace Kelly. But we all know of the proficient 1-3's who have been corrupted by their own capabilities, and thus end up serving no master but their own pleasure. Again, the exact proportions vary. Yet who among us does not see that in Marbury, or Crawford, or Francis, or any of such players not currently employed by the New York Knicks, there exists the clear use of powers for evil ends? I have no interest in assigning this valence to Iverson; I see him primarily as a tragic figure, who now desperately wishes to commune with others but is often checked by his own internalized rhythms. We're talking about Hassan Adams, Gerald Green, Fred Jones, Rashad McCants, Tony Allen, J.R. Smith, all gifted individuals who could end up destroying themselves through misguided, skewed excellence.

sling

Now amble with me, over to the lobby of the big men. Here, there is no such Faustian crossroads. When a big man realizes his potential, nature meets its match, petals pour in showers off of cliffs, and sweetness can reconcile with life. There is no such thing as a bad good big man. Perhaps a case can be made for good bad big men, but that would only bolster my assertion: when a post player falls short of the mark, it is almost always because of failure and indequacy, not misapplied genius. As for the more central possibility, look at that dude Zach Randolph. When he is distracted, insane, or corrupt, he getteth not position and fails to get points or boards. Returning to his double-double ways this year, he is also looked upon as a story of a life rescued from the maw of cancellation.

The lone exception to this rule proves how utterly powerful it truly be. The career of Eddy Curry has proven one of the foremost enigmas of contemporary basketball. When Curry has followed through on his tremendous potential, he is a formidably force in the paint—as far as scoring is concerned. Yet his total inability to block a shot, and remarkably fickle rebounding ability, seems to suggest that he has in fact developed a post game suited only to certain priorities. Much like the athletic off-guard whose defense is lacking but who can beat anyone off the dribble, Curry has redefined the center position as something that, like 1-3 on the floor, can be made a puppet of unseemly purposes. You'd never say that Curry isn't an excellent basketball player, and at this point he's also something of a mature one. But likely All-Star invite aside, he has taken on the role of the serpent in the low post's pro forma Eden.

47 Comments:

At 1/29/2007 3:38 PM, Anonymous B L L said...

Where does Kwame fit in? North or South of Ed Curry?

 
At 1/29/2007 3:44 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i don't think of kwame as a finished product. and what progress he has made has definitely been in the direction of the tradition.

 
At 1/29/2007 3:50 PM, Anonymous trouc said...

Saying that Eddy Curry has redefined the center position = what?! Shown its corruption is possible, maybe, but redefined, no.

 
At 1/29/2007 3:50 PM, Anonymous SK said...

If Curry ate David Lee his problems would solve themselves.

 
At 1/29/2007 3:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what of the decent big man of detriment to his team (see Ilgauskus, Zydrunus)? is he potentially good on another?

 
At 1/29/2007 3:53 PM, Blogger Vegan Viking said...

Injuries can also destroy a big man of limitless potential (Bill Walton).

It's odd, but I've always thought of Shaq, as dominant as he is, a big man of unfulfilled potential. How does a player of his build and dominance NEVER lead the league in rebounds? He was at his best during Rodman's prime, but that's still odd.

 
At 1/29/2007 4:00 PM, Blogger Gladhands said...

Big men wo fail to reach their potential for reasons other than injury or poor work ethic do so for the same reason their smaller counterparts do. They fall in love with their jump-shot.

 
At 1/29/2007 4:16 PM, Anonymous paper tiger said...

gladhands- that's why i at first thought of sheed, or even antoine walker. but, rereading, the subject is more "post player" than "big man." those whole "fall in love with their jump shot," as you say, aren't really post players anymore. chris webber aside.

 
At 1/29/2007 4:17 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i actually thought of shaq as prefiguring eddy curry, except he was just inconsistent, not essentially flawed.

and while it may be a thin distinction, guards who fall in love with their jumper can still be successful, whereas big men who drift are only half-there. again, the whole fulfilling potential and misusing it vs. not counting until you get it right.

 
At 1/29/2007 4:17 PM, Anonymous ronald james davis said...

kwame is a big man in the sense that he is a large human. i think he is content to just be a positionless athlete for the rest of his career. especially with KAJ seemingly working only with bynum now. kwame is destined to forever be just a ball of muscle and sinew ready to elbow someone and occasionally get a rebound.

 
At 1/29/2007 4:19 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

pt--i was a little sloppy with that. as stupid as it sounds, toine and sheed are still about potential to me. and that's how they're always discussed by the media. even if i don't think ever could/should be a post player proper.

 
At 1/29/2007 4:23 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

If anything, being a big man who fails to fulfill your "potential" (I hate that, as that often means you fail to fulfill the prophecy of being the second coming of whoever you are "molded" by fans/media to be) is more disappointing to me. It means you either got injured (Walton) or just never put in the work ethic. Too often it's the second.

Most "smaller" player get to be on a team (meaning less than 6'8, IMO), whether NBA or college or even HS, because they worked hard on their game to get there; but a 6'10 cat, a 7'0 cat, they work, yeah, but they often will still be on the team even if they don't care to learn... take a Shawn Bradley. Take a Big Country. Take a Kwame. These guys never should have made it to the NBA, let alone be starters. Their learning curve is slower than everyone else's.

If he only had a brain, Stephon would be a top five player

Yeah, and if Stephon knew how to pass correctly - if he could just pass the ball to someone's chest, instead of bounce passing across the court to an open man, or throwing through three defenders in traffic... anyone who handles the rock as much as Marbury did in his career could average 8 apg. That doesn't mean those are good assists, or that he's a good passer. A good passer is someone who hits an open man in the chest with a pass, so he can go straight up with the jumper. A good passer is someone who draws defenders aways from the basket, while going to the paint, so the open man can finish. And yes, that is why Marbury sucks - because he doesn't have a passer's brain. He has a drive to the hoops brain (still good at that, though much better in his earlier days), and that's it. Never developed his long-range jumper. Waste of talent....

 
At 1/29/2007 4:25 PM, Blogger T. said...

obviously the difference between a talented knucklehead 1-3 and a talented knucklehead post is the domination of the ball.

If there were some post-up version of Marbury, it wouldn't matter so much, because he wouldn't have possession of the ball to the determent of everybody else. (Although now that I'm typing this, perhaps the Houston Rockets version of Charles Barkley?)

 
At 1/29/2007 4:26 PM, Blogger seezmeezy said...

being that agent zero plays less defense than me during a pickup game, where does he fall in this discussion?

he seems to be the perfect example of the dude who can beat anyone off the dribble but can't stop anyone 1-on-1.

wv ogcbezhf: origanoo gun clappaz album in yiddish

 
At 1/29/2007 4:51 PM, Anonymous paper tiger said...

t- yeah, i thought of that houston charles barkley, too, with the 20 second clear-out backdowns, but then i realized that if there's anyone who doesn't belong in a discussion about unrealized potential, it's probably chuck.

 
At 1/29/2007 4:53 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

If there were some post-up version of Marbury, it wouldn't matter so much, because he wouldn't have possession of the ball to the determent of everybody else.

T., I would argue that if Stephon was taller, and a SF, then it wouldn't matter, because he would be, I don't know, Latrell? Any SF who drives hard to the basket and draws fouls, but has little range on the jumper? Does Corey Maggette fit?

But because he is shorter and a point, he holds the rock too much. The solution would be to place him on a team with the rare point forward (truly the most valuable skill set for a team ever, simply because it can compensate for weakness in other aspects).

Props to these lines: If Curry ate David Lee his problems would solve themselves.

and wv ogcbezhf: origanoo gun clappaz album in yiddish (Full Disclosure: I worked for Duck Down for all of a week when I was in HS. That little enterprise consisted of me posting stickers for the Helter Skelter album all over the Union Square area. It ended with me catch mad flack from Big Dru Ha* and some cat named Eddie Machette.)

*Actually not that big in real life, though large compared to the diminutive Buckshot.

 
At 1/29/2007 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think big men are more likely not to live up to potential, b/c they're big -- it didn't take work to grow to their size (unless you consider eating work), they can get by without many real skills, and big men (in the nonbasketball sense) rarely have the same chips on their shoulders as littler guys (no one ever messed with shaq, which is why he's such a teddy bear). so most big men are somewhat soft. if shaq really had a killer mentality and/or motivation, he'd have 8 rings by now or somesuch. (ben wallace is the contrast -- he had something to prove.)

 
At 1/29/2007 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn blogger ate my post -- I can think of a handful of big men of "misguided, skewed excellence." At the risk of showing my age, Ralph Sampson was this way. For his few healthy years in the NBA he put up good numbers, but he had vague aspirations of "redefiing the center position" in ways that weren't clearly connected to winning games. He was amazingly agile and was tempted to shoot perimeter jumpers and even handle the ball in the open court, but there were other guys who could do those things. Ralph was slow to accept that when you're that big, you're obligated to do a lot of your damage in the paint. There are a handful of guys, generally really talented guys, who are really 5s but imagine themselves as 3s. (Garnett, arguably, is this way.)

As for Eddy Curry, he is not the original big slow soft guy, who looks like he should get a million baords but doesn't. See also Joe Barry Carroll, Kevin Duckworth, late-career Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. (Again with the showing-my-age.)

 
At 1/29/2007 5:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your statistical justification of "no bad good big men" versus the existence of "bad good guards" is unfair. If we were to define a guard's excellence to include a high shooting percentage and low turnovers (put some of this shit in more advanced statistics if you like to allow for Kobe of 05-06 and others to still be virtuous), then I don't think that there are any examples of a "BAD good guard." Marbury and his Knick buddies certainly fail.

 
At 1/29/2007 5:36 PM, Anonymous aaron said...

What about Tyson Chandler? What do we say about the athletic big man who ELECTS to become a defensive stand-out at the cost of the complete abandonment of an offensive game?

When Eddy and Tyson played together, announcers would lament what could be if they could be switched after every possession.

It always seemed to me that Chandler made a conscious decision not to care about his offense. He's the flip side of the Eddy situation and he's just as much about that dark side.

 
At 1/29/2007 6:31 PM, Blogger Fat Contradiction said...

Dang! LBJ yoinked all my examples! Sampson's a brilliant one, but the guys who probably invented this category are Sidney Wicks (UCLA, Blazers) and Walt Bellamy. Maybe Elvin Hayes if you're uncharitable.

There really is a big-man analogue to the "fake assist" diagnosis that so plagues Mr. Marbury. On scoring, it tends to manifest as a shoddy shooting percentage, a big man who just never seems to hit half his shots: watch him over a week, you realize he can't score when pressured. (Alternately, he has an inflated shooting percentage because he never shoots anything contested: Sheed in his "prime" was notorious for this.)

As for rebounding, we've all seen those big guys who only seem to come away with free-throw rebounds. Six of those a game and another couple that just fall into your hands, and you've got yrself a fake big man...

-Fat

 
At 1/29/2007 6:52 PM, Anonymous danny said...

seezmeezy's comment on Gilbert was in the back of my mind the whole time, and I remain convinced that, in the end, he will be remembered more as the apotheosis of the combo guard with incredible talent and no defense or understanding of the game.

This raises the question, though, of circumstance and how far flawed individuals can blossom in the right setting. How does the transformation of , say, Chauncey Billups illustrate the nature/nurture conundrum? How does AI, a player I love, stack up in the arrogance/relevance calculus? My gut remembers 2001, but every now and then I see all too clearly that, like all of us, he is inculcated with a style of play which is not so much intellectually learnt as culturally transmitted, and not completely subject to any desires for transformation, including his own.

 
At 1/29/2007 6:54 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Fat Contradiction hit the analogy perfectly - Marbury can get a 4-6 assist total by virtue of being designated the point, just like a big man can get 6-8 rebounds a game by doing nothing (see Curry) other than be big. Those are your base numbers for PG/big men.

wv: sagbakh: Fat Joe being honest with himself.

 
At 1/29/2007 7:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: The thesis of this post - Stephen Jackson.

 
At 1/29/2007 8:20 PM, Anonymous MaxwellDemon said...

“'We just have the swagger,' Marion said." In case Agent Z is wondering who has been bogarting the swag.

 
At 1/29/2007 8:47 PM, Anonymous jr said...

Anon 5:03 - That's a fantastic point about big men often lacking that chip on the shoulder inspiration of an AI or even a Rodman. Watching Sheed (for example) shoot endless 3s and refuse to bang in the post is always infuriating to me, especially because it's not like he's inept on the inside; he has the grace and agility that so many bigs painfully don't. As someone else pointed out bigs will also often be retained on the roster through no fault of their own simply because of the dearth of men 6-10 or taller with even average coordination and agility; meanwhile there are tons and tons of Ben Gordons out there scrapping and they have to really distinguish themselves to get a shot.

As a Bulls fan I sat through the drudgery of the Chandler/Curry era with its' massively unfulfilled promises and they are basically a single great post player broken into 2 evil halves. If only Paxton could have found a mad, evil scientist to combine them...alas. Ben Wallace has always been one of my favorite players because he's like the anti-soft big man who consumed all that lacking inspiration from other guys. Based on his talent alone he really he shouldn't have a place in the NBA but because he's willing to do everything that many bigs aren't he is able to dominate way bigger guys through sheer force of will, even today when his salad days are clearly behind him. That also shows in his hideous offense (pretty good passer though) where a requisite amount of talent is necessary to succeed.

 
At 1/29/2007 8:48 PM, Anonymous abacus said...

as an nyc native and resident, i would love to see a more careful and dedicated assessment of stephon. he has truly phenomonal talent and his career has been a truly phenomonal disappointment.

as someone who grew up playing tons of pick up ball in NYC (mainly queens and i was never any good), i played with hundreds of "stephons" growing up. he is the prototypical playground alpha-dog: endless dribbling and relentless, aggressive drives to the hoop; a nasty demeanor and utter disdain for those with lesser talent; difficult to play against, but ultimately more difficult to play with.

i would argue that he's a product of his environment moreso than anything else, and his deficienies were just never corrected in college. UNC or Indiana would undoubtedly have served him better than georgia tech. bobby cremins also failed to help kenny anderson to the next level (given that i attended the same HS as anderson i was even more saddened by his failure to be the next isaiah).

but at his best there is truly something beautiful about stephon's game. the way he drives to the hoop... it's the epitome of what we would have considered being "nice" back in the day... the fact that he is only 6'2 makes him even more impressive. maybe he would have been better realized as an "And1" player.

all of that said - yes, he sucks. i prayed he would turn it around in jersey and even held hope for him in nyc, but he truly seems to have learned nothing.


stephon is like the antithesis of steve nash...

 
At 1/29/2007 8:49 PM, Anonymous jr said...

paxson, not paxton. jesus. sorry.

 
At 1/29/2007 10:02 PM, Anonymous torgo said...

I'm with jr on the bulls fan thing. I've never understood how Chandler could never learn basic offense skills. His putback dunks were always fun to watch, but unless he has a clear path to the basket, you're looking at a missed shot or a turnover. And, while many here aren't fans of Skiles, his comment about how Curry could become a better rebounder ("Jump.") wasn't actually a joke. At the very least, rebounding is a 'want to' thing. You have to want to get the ball more than the other guy (and, if you really get into it, which I don't think he ever has, you have to know where to go).
Maybe it was the management that failed them, by not sticking them with coaches that would teach Chandler how to move on offense, how to take a shot, or Curry how to defend, like LA is doing with KAJ and Bynum.
What about Odom? In talking about potential, why aren't we talking about that entire Clippers team? Miles? Will there be a footnote in this thesis about the 6'10" players who don't actually like the game, but manage to fake it long enough to get a ridiculous contract?

 
At 1/29/2007 10:23 PM, Blogger T. said...

anon 5:28 - I still don't see the sampsons, jbc, latter-day bob mcadoo, etc. hurting their teams as much as the marburys - just because the ball isn't in their hands for 20 seconds of the shot clock. They tend to receive the ball and then shoot. (The exception being the Rockets version of Barkley . . . and perhaps Mark Aguirre?)

 
At 1/29/2007 10:52 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Abacus - as someone with almost an identical background (replace Queens w/ LES), I know exactly what you mean. In my case, it was Shamgod (who went to LaSalle with everyone one of my friends who could ball) - all dribble and drive, no j. Even in the playground when we came upon a wannabe Shamgod you just played far off them, to keep them from driving past you. It's like Marbury's game never evolved from the streets, despite years of pro coaching.

As for Odom, he's always been my poster boy for the "potential" of the swiss army knife SF - Miles, et al. Every draft some SF between 6'7 and 6'10 will get drafted because he could everything (post, pass, shoot) well, but can't do anything great. The NBA is about specialization, not being good at everything. That's the Felipe Lopez corallary.

 
At 1/30/2007 2:11 AM, Anonymous jr said...

Torgo: I forgot all about that Skiles gem concerning Curry's lack of desire to put forth even a halfhearted attempt at rebounding. I know he's pretty much the ultimate anti-style coach and by extension the antithesis of freedarkoism but I'm a huge fan of his simply because he's 99% bullshit free. In fact I don't think he really is anti-style (I'm sure he cares a lot more about winning than playing the "right way") so much as he values hard work over artistry; I don't know if he'll be able to take the Bulls from point B to point C but I do know there will be some very entertaining Bill Parcellsesque press conferences and the Bulls will always, always play hard in the meantime.

 
At 1/30/2007 2:31 AM, Anonymous torgo said...

jr, one of the reasons I like the bulls, and skiles, is that they aren't the most gifted, or the flashiest, but they're willing to work hard, and in fact, the concept of potential (and the marburys, mileses, odoms, and of course the 7' stiff projects like reeves and bradley) is why they're able to pull it off. Realistically, looking at Hinrich, there's no way he should be able to stop some of the people he's guarding, except, perhaps, that he wants it more, that he's been coached to want it more. Same for Duhon, for Wallace, Noce, and the rest. If the guys with the potential would actually develop it, and grow into what everyone thinks they could do, the bulls wouldn't make the playoffs.
So, uh, thank god for guys getting content after big contracts, or people willing to trade for guys like Curry.

 
At 1/30/2007 3:23 AM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Maybe I haven't worked this concept out quite right, but as a bad good big man I would also nominate Shaq, but mainly in his last season with the Lakers. He would always be calling for his one shot, would gripe when not getting the ball enough (by his own estimation), and even worse, would give a half-ass effort on D when not shooting as much as he felt he should. So because a big guy normally can't just waste a possession from the get-go, isn't that as close to a selfish PG as a post player can get?

Also, nice Gilbert interview on his All Star appearance:

http://broadband.nba.com/cc/playa.php?content=video&url=http://boss.streamos.com/wmedia/nba/nbacom/recaps/recap_664_phxmin.asx&video=blank&nbasite=nba

 
At 1/30/2007 3:24 AM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

"one shot" - stupidity + proof reading = "own shot"

 
At 1/30/2007 3:39 AM, Blogger S-Love said...

"I know [Skiles is] pretty much the ultimate anti-style coach and by extension the antithesis of freedarkoism but I'm a huge fan of his simply because he's 99% bullshit free."
The other 1% being his attitude toward headbands?
To be fair to Sampson, I don't think he could have overcome his injuries even if he had put more time into more traditional big man skills.
For the big man discussion, why not bring up Jelly Bean Bryant? There was some effort to reconsider his career because of his son's success--he was a big man with a guard's game ahead of his time, etc.--and while the reconsideration has not been as successful as, say, the revisionist attitude toward Archie Manning's career, perhaps a look at Bryant could tell us something about Kobe's psyche and the finesse big man in general.

 
At 1/30/2007 9:57 AM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Bullshit-free can also be a style if you project it and embody it effortlessly.

Also, didn't Shammgod go to Provy?

 
At 1/30/2007 10:17 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

here's why i don't really care about the automatic rebounds: they don't factor into my analysis of curry. exactly what makes him so insidious is that even if you write those off as bullshit, he's still a fully-developed (for him), accomplished player. he plays center like a scoring guard, and any big man residual stats are totally accidental.

 
At 1/30/2007 10:35 AM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Salt Bagel - Shammgod went to Providence for a couple years; he went to LaSalle HS in NYC prior to that (LaSalle is in the LES); he was drafted by the Wizards (#14?), and that's the last I heard of him.

Vince Carter played the rare motivated game yesterday, totally dominating the fourth quarter. Don't know what set him off, but he was seen waving bye-bye to the Jazz bench after swishing a 35-footer at the buzzer. Watching that game reminded me that while alot of people here criticize Shaq for failing to live up to his (physical) potential to dominate, VC is the ultimate letdown to me. He could do anything Kobe or Gilbert can do - he has as much range as Arenas, he can drive to the basket as hard (if not harder) than Kobe, and can rise above a double team and shoot a clean jumper. In that fourth quarter yesterday, he drove harder than he's driven in years, getting a basket or foul on almost every possession down the stretch (save for the one possession he was triple-teamed on). I had no doubt he was going to win the game, but I didn't (still don't) know why... why this game?

Unlike big men like Curry and Kwame, who's main problem (IMO) is their lack of learning ability about how to play the game, VC's main problem has always been self-motivation. I guess you could argue that Curry hasn't learned how to play defense or rebound because he doesn't care, but VC knows how to score like nobody in NBA (but T-Mac and Kobe), he just too often doesn't cares to....

 
At 1/30/2007 10:41 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

about vince: i'm sure we're all familiar with the tragic, reflective big man, forced into sports service by his height when he'd rather be doing something else. i almost think that vince is like that, but with otherworldly athleticism replacing height. like how could he not have made a career of basketball? at the same time, he's not a stupid guy, and probably has some sense of a (hypothetical) life beyond basketball.

 
At 1/30/2007 10:54 AM, Blogger Terence said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 1/30/2007 10:55 AM, Blogger T. said...

sml - god shammgod has been balling in saudi arabia and china (and perhaps a few other stops) since dominating the big east. I know I saw him playing for Yujun in the Asia Club Championships a few years back.

Interesting tangent - Kobe has said in interviews all his streetball moves he learned from shammgod at basketball camp; since he's not learning that stuff in Italy or Lower Marion.

 
At 1/30/2007 11:57 AM, Anonymous Ken "The Animal" Bannister said...

Speaking of unfulfilled potential and PF/C's, what about this trio?

1. Shawn Kemp.
2. Oliver Miller
3. John "Hot Plate" Williams

Like Eddy, they all struggled with weight/conditioning. All we're remarkable agile for men their size (Paging Glen "Big Baby" Davis, your future awaits...) and had skill sets that made their employers drool, yet all were considered washed up before they hit thirty. As a Knicks fan, I hope we're not witnessing the "prime" of Mr. Curry this season, though in my heart of hearts I fear it is so.

Regarding Steph,

I'm sorry. The evidence that he "doesn'tmaek the simple chest pass' is gleaned from folks who take the likes of Isola, Vescey, Berman, Lawrence et al., at their word. Marbury has run a million pick and rolls which result in open jumpers. He's beaten his man off the dribble and found a big under the basket for an easy hoops COUNTLESS times (even if the player under the hoops was Nazr Mohammed). Steph can look like a moody bastard (though I never remember Ewing and Oaklety being fonts of sunshine and lollipops either) and may be an utter asshole, but those eight domes aren't illusory -- especially considering he was passing to who his first coupel of years in NY? Shandon Anderson? Mike Sweetney? Tim Thomas? (talk about a big falling in love w/ his jumper...)

 
At 1/30/2007 1:24 PM, Anonymous Abacus said...

i never thought the problem with stephon were "fundamental"... given his other talents, his jumper is good enough (not great), and his "form" in all things usually looks fine.

it's just his attitude... your point guard just can't be such a ball hogging SOB. i mean, j kidd does not average many more assists than steph (maybe 9 a game), but if you just watch him play, he is always passing and trying to set up his teammates, whether he is finishing a break or starting the break with a pass (in which case no assist)

 
At 1/30/2007 2:23 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

@Bannister: The evidence that he "doesn'tmaek the simple chest pass' is gleaned from folks who take the likes of Isola, Vescey, Berman, Lawrence et al., at their word.

I hate those writers, and have often argued that media coverage of the Knicks is biased and completely inane (hence the SML moniker). I make my argument based upon watching almost every Knick game for the past three years. Seriously, I firmly believe that if you watch the games, his passes are off target so often it messes up the flow... you can disagree with me on this, but please recognize that it is my opinion from watching the games, not reading crap in the newspapers....

 
At 1/30/2007 2:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I do on this motherfucker is look at the pix. I can't ever understand a word you fux iz sayin'. I don't even understand the pix motherfucker.

 
At 1/31/2007 4:50 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Animal, I think Shawn Kemp actually did realize his potential, he just fell off immensely after realizing it (and landing that big contract). Kemp in the 96 playoffs was absolutely dominating leading those Sonics to the Finals.

I think that Shoals makes a good comparison between Shaq and Vince about where their apparent lack of realization comes from, although I think it's not necessarily that they maybe never were that interested in playing basketball; I think it's more that those guys probably dominated to such an absurd degree during their "developmental basketball years" that they never had to work hard to be great. I think never being personally challenged probably is what caused their motivation to never develop.

One of the often-cited reasons that Jordan became as driven as he was stemmed from his being cut from his HS basketball team, so he became a focused monster on the court. What motivation did Shaq ever have to learn anything other than how to dunk on everyone when he surely was able to do that since Jr High? The same could probably be said for Vince, although I think after he won the Dunk Contest he seemed to not want to be known as "just a dunker" and erringly shied away from his ability to drive the lane instead trying to become a 3-pt specialist. I also think that LeBron has taken a few misguided steps down this same road.

 

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