As the blade falls, it swings forever
Behold, All-Star Weekend, where the world's most star-driven sport for once admits its sordid structure. Its big names even bigger, their auras leak gloppy ambience, and reputations of cliche are hailed for their resonance. What could be a better occasion to revive my fatwa against the basketball stylings of Dwyane Tyrone Wade, a cause whose time has come again.
Sidenote: This week, Camby told the press that he had no interest in being named to the West team as a replacement. Really, if you're an All Star-ish player like Marcus Camby, why would you? The same goes for Melo, and it's why Arenas's deliverance last year felt so hollow. In the case of Josh Howard or Mehmet Okur, getting pulled at the last minute indicates that they have become All-Star-caliber forces. Fine. But was there any question that Melo or Arenas was an All-Star-ish player when they got snubbed? It's an honor to be designated as more starry than the other stars. Being a star who gets recruited from a dwindling pool is a ritual enactment of the obvious. Camby certainly belongs in that company, even though injuries have kept from ever appearing in the game. In fact, that his first appearance could come in this manner seems to heighten the insult.
Over the last few weeks, Wade has been on a run of complete and utter fourth quarter indestructability. Nary a game passes without him exploding for double-digits in the game's final period. He doesn't just put on a show, or pull out a heroic finish. No, the man motivated by winning a championship shuts the whole thing down. The only body clearly in motion is Wade; the only form of production is the doings of Wade; all occurences exist in relation to Wade's activity; on both of the floor, his presence booms as if he were alone in an empty gym. Defenses crumble, shrill whistle-cries fly, and that deft flick of the wrist is guaranteed like he was signing a check. I don't think there's any question that if a competitive game needs closing out, Wade is the hands-down expert.
Needless to say, I can't stand it. It doesn't necessarily provoke or inflame me; I just couldn't care less. Wade negates the existence of the fourth the way that Shaq once could and Tim Duncan always should. There's been some debate within FreeDarko's internal community as to whether his game is blessedly simple or rudimentary. I do know, however, that his individual moves and overall competitive arc display precious little ingenuity. Wade is incendiary-quick, nastily-explosive, and effortlessly effective. His game depends primarily on athleticism and split-second judgment, without sucumbing to the kind of silliness so prevalent among off-guards of his catchy ilk. Not to get all football up in these parts, but Wade's like a running back who thrives by sensing holes no one else sees.
Compare his way with the fourth to his most immediate peers. When Kobe goes to work, there's an intense logic and structure to his attack, like a quarterback on the two-minute drill. It's a study in on-the-fly rationality, that weird quadrant where science and pirates mercifully co-exist. When LeBron deigns to carry his team, he does see my reaching deep within himself and producing moments of basketball you didn't know could exist. He makes you believe by creating objects whose basis is their own self-invention, solving once and for all that "God and a boulder" problem. Arenas, though he's been more smarmy than fun lately, does so like an Old Testament miracle coming down. God is a given, albeit a tempestuous, unpredictable one, but eventually he will slake the sorrows with colossal events.
Everyone's dude Wade? He's Basketball Jesus in the worst sense. Once he was some scrappy guy proving through heart and wizardry that he belonged at the top. Now, his blankets the last twelve minutes with millenial din. It's the absolutism of nightfall, the tyranny of eternal peace. Wade's cockiness and self-awareness are beginning to peak out from underneath the image, and it's no coincidence that the latest run has come when it has. His dominance is awe-inspiring the way mountains and whales can be, which is to say, both calm and sinister. As usual, I come not to question Dwyane Wade's aptitude or annihilate his humanity. Yet when it comes to the game of basketball, I prefer majesty that exerts more than high-flying inertia.