Peace At Last
Note: This is sort of a response to that Simmons post. It was also written in twenty minutes on my last day at this job, so sorry if it's a little rushed or completely off.
Hey, anyone see that Warriors/Suns game last night? The one where Reggie Miller claimed that Barbosa was too fast for his own good? Where J-Rich exposed his potential to be the sub-Wade (in terms of FreeDarko hate speech)?
I have to say, the whole game was hovered over for me by Nash's recent admission that the Suns are basically done for now. Not I think a team could ever not try when their style is based on freewheeling telepathy and hyperkinetic self-stimulation. But when the starters went to the bench—or hell, when the Suns seemed ill-inclined to prove anything by staging a mammoth run of their own—I couldn't help but feel the shrivel. I know that Barbosa zapped them back into things, and I thank him for it, but isn't the Suns credo that they play team ball like a hot-rod individual? This is the hook missed by every single bad Voltron comparison made in the last decade. . . and why if the Suns were jazz, they would be a kind no one likes to listen to for long.
But the real treat was seeing the plosive Warriors truly shattering their old masks. I know that some might have been them attaining a Suns-like fluidity, especially with that bazonkers small line-up. Really though, that was the first time that team has ever seemed to have any hierarchy, which is the mark of normalcy in the NBA. Not along the lines of traditional labor distribution, but instead an understanding of how important everyone is in the grand scheme of the sport—and, correlatively, how large they loom on the team.
It's no secret that Ellis and Biedrins are the future. What's striking is how willing to accept this the tempestuous, star-ish vets seem. Davis, who is more like a chunky Billups than a more complex Marbury, doesn't force his significance. There have been some rumblings from Richardson, and yet you didn't see him trying to turn that first quarter into a career night. And Al Harrington has turned into, well, an effective scorer who wants no more or less with his life. Maybe the Warriors' style allows them to slake their egos while buying into a program, but it's shocking how much so many supposedly me-first pricks have been willing to get in where they fit in.
Surely, though, the most startling pilgrim is that one called Stephen Jackson, a.k.a. the league's real poster child for bad behavior. No one seems to care, or maybe they just don't remember, that he stuck in the league because he won a title for the Spurs when no one else would/could. This isn't an attempt to redeem or excuse all he's done (or been through, if you prefer that formulation). Instead, I'm mawkishly suggesting that there is a place after death for this kind of player. Jackson showed in the beginning he could tame himself and accept the bigger picture; now with the Warriors, he's that hungry kid transmuted into a bad-ass vet. He'll drop 30, sure, but he's not freaking out if he's not.
I am sure that some of you who watch the Warriors every single night will dispute most of these claims. I believe, however, that the emergence of Monta alone attests to the maturity of the club. He's more aggressive than Barbosa's ever been, and no one seems the least bit averse to it on the floor. I know Richardson's been losing minutes to him, but last night showed that coexistence is possible. The real importance of this post is actually to point out that there is a future for this generation. I once mused about how entertaining it would be to see old Zach Randolph or Eddy Curry interviewed on television. What I missed was that necessary step between now and then, when, inevitably, some kind of mellowing with age has to occur. It's more unlikely that a rebellious athlete will cool down some than it is that he'll continue to rage, unchanged, till his dying day.