Tromping Orders

I was going to hold off on this post until Monday, when I'm not busy visiting with my girl's folks. But I've decided that given the urgency of the matter, and the distinct danger that someone else might think of this first, I have no choice. I must move now and quickly.

To all those asking for a working definition of FreeDarko: I can at least offer the advice that, above all things, you must prize the beginning of the season. I will never attempt to convince that it matters in some strictly competitive sense. But it is first shapely stirrings of the team's narrative, and provides invaluable troughs of the NBA mundane. No matter what your orientation toward the sport, these early days are more than paltry scraps on the verge of rot.

I can hardly understand how, then, it took me so long to firm up this second jawbone of credo: the end of the season is the mirror of its outset. For many, like the Phoenix Suns, these are a mere formality. Yet in the case of the truly wretched, only now do we witness the return of that early season texture. November exists solely to tease or force feed the hounds with potential, December unceremoniously crushes them, and then late March and the regular season's fraction of April are all about stirring up the mist where they fell.

Now, in these late, aching weeks, is when young teams suddenly do go bananas. Where rookies run, weirdos prosper, and the future seems like more than an accident. Many might have seen Suns/Warriors as proof that Golden State could hang. Sorry, but that was just them being the epitomal late season flourish. To find a spark, or an identity, this late shows only a lunatic's death bed conversion, or the discovery of uranium by two cooks holding flames. Do not take these words to mean that they waltz with irrelevance. But be sure, these are fantasies, fever dreams, the realm of possibility given webbed toes and a wallet.

You may say "things happen because everyone else has given up." Really, though, who has cast down their sword? Dallas and Phoenix? Teams doomed to a rock-solid fifth or sixth seed? Teams in no position to meaningfully tank but. . .determined to give up? Face it people, magical things happen when, once all has slipped away, the Blazers, Bobcats, Hawks, and Celtics of this world flout their self-imposed conventions and let themselves be free.

Here are a few things I currently find moving:

-LaMarcus Aldridge, franchise player
-Gerald Wallace, coming for that contract
-Walter Hermann, the Adam Morrison I can stand
-Salim Stoudamire, dead-eyed rogue
-Everything I said about the Warriors on Friday
-Rondo/West, Addam's Family backcourt

Please, tell me yours. But like me, be open, always open, to the fruitful paralysis of surprise.


At 3/31/2007 8:13 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

You're gonna hate me for saying this, so I apologize but: the Knicks' three point guards plus Balkman plus Jeffries, on the court at the same time. I remember back to the post where you had the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse (representing Marbury, Francis, Crawford and Robinson)... seeing it, but as a rejuvinated Marbury plus Collins, Robinson, and Balkman (technically a swingman playing PF) is quite preposterous. Yet its also effective chaos.

Somebody needs to photoshop Isiah as the 2nd coming of Black Jesus, and the four guards as his horsemen for me. I would be eternally grateful.

Beyond that there is only the 76ers of Miller and AI2 and Dalembert, doing work to get from Durant to almost the 8th seed....

At 3/31/2007 8:32 PM, Anonymous MegaPickles said...

- Luol Deng, high scorer
- Michael Ruffin, student of physics

At 3/31/2007 8:36 PM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

The Warriors, at least since Davis has arrived, have been a end-of-season team, allowing the fanbase to accrue some amount of hope for the next season, which is then cruelly dashed.

O Warriors, eternal guardians of drafting at the end of the lottery, not high enough for Yao Ming, not low enough for Josh Howard.

Regarding Aldridge, imagine if the Blazers had made the following trades the previous season, instead of turning them down:

Theo Ratliff and Darius Miles
David Lee and Penny Hardaway

Michael Redd

wv: pbiii - Hipster ordering a drink and falling to his doom.

At 4/01/2007 2:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always think of this as the Josh Smith saga. His first April he put up 16 pts and 9.5 boards a game after averaging 10-6 overall on the year. Was this development or just April fever? He starts off the next season averaging under 10 points and 6 boards for the first three months of the season. But once April rolls around he puts up 17.5 ppg and 7.6 rpg (not to mention 4 apg). Wow, this time must really be progress, right? November: 12-8 a game. Good, put not the stats of April.

Meanwhile, in March he's averaging 20 points, 9.5 boards, 3 assists, 1.5 steals and 3.5 blocks (and 4 TOs) a game. It's now April - I'm dying to find out what he does in his favorite month of the year.

(P.S. I tried posting this before and I'm not sure if it worked, so if this shows up twice I apologize.)

At 4/01/2007 7:06 AM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

- Kevin Willis

- the slight chance of James White unleashing something

- Bostjan Nachbar and Carlos Delfino regularly posterizing people (OK, with Delfino at least I knew he could jump)

- Walter Herrmann as well (additional creepy intrigue if you deduce from his name that his grandfather might have been a Nazi fleeing to South America after WWII. Wasn't it here that someone suggested Herrmann to be scientifically assembled in the Dr. J-mold with his huge hands?)

At 4/01/2007 1:02 PM, Blogger J.E. said...

-T.J. Ford, when he’ll match Skiles’ 30-assist game

At 4/01/2007 2:31 PM, Anonymous ronald james davis said...

free flight white

At 4/01/2007 2:44 PM, Anonymous Pichi Campana Aguanta said...

For symmetry's sake I'd like Ronnie Price to finish out the season with another monster dunk over someone of Boozer's stature.

Also, as I was doing a bit of googling about Walter Herrmann (since he's an alum of the team of my heart: Atenas of Cordoba), I rediscovered all the old Argentine articles about that horrible car accident that killed his mother, sister, and girlfriend. (Only to have his father pass away exactly a year later).

Although I like Kaifa's idea of a Nazi Julius Erving construction emerging from the interior of Argentina to rule the world, the names Herrmann and Heinrich (his mother's name) are Jewish surnames.


There could be some kind of basketball alchemy going on down there though. When I lived in Argentina I loved to visit the bizarre German towns in the mountains. Any group that plants miles of pine trees in perfect rows could be up to anything.

At 4/01/2007 3:11 PM, Anonymous Sourounis said...

The possibility of Josh Smith having a quadrable double. A quintabel even? Just for the sheer perfection of it.

At 4/01/2007 3:35 PM, Blogger PostmanE said...

Ty Thomas scoring 20+ on nothing but dunks and free throws.

At 4/01/2007 5:40 PM, Blogger Vinnie said...

This late-season Ty Thomas freakout has been so unnecessarily delayed and dampened by that grim drill seargent we all know as Scott Skiles. But I won't get started on that because I have places to be...

My contribution to the list:
Portland, the entire team - minus that self-serving tub of goo Zach Randolph shanghiing every offensive possession.

At 4/01/2007 6:40 PM, Anonymous ronald james davis said...

i also want to throw in the fact that jordan farmar may very well play in both a d-league and nba game on the same day today.

At 4/01/2007 6:45 PM, Blogger ~CW~ said...

* Ben Wallace getting the ball at the post with the look of a man who knows he can't finish, and if he tried, he might get fouled, only prolonging the shame.

* Rashard Lewis, the man whom which the Sonics played better without in the Spurs series of postseason past, gunning for that contract, and my silent prayer that the league treats his surge like they did Wells' efforts last year.

* Rudy Gay and Hakim Warrick giving the Grizz hope of a Big East-led, dunkathon future.

At 4/01/2007 7:01 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

PCA, so there really are towns like that in South America and not more or less just single individuals settling somewhere? I guess some things were left unsaid in my school or rather vastly distorted. Also, you're right on with your scepticism about people with perfectly lined up trees and so on. There's actually a derogative German term for such obsessive people that translates to "garden Nazis" in English.

I won't pretend to be knowledgeable at all about Jewish surnames, but Herrmann and Heinrich are quite regular German names (classic early 19/20th century first names for males and common last names as well). All the Herrmanns I personally know have no Jewish background at all, so maybe the names were passed on through marriage?

And yes, Tyrus Thomas. Maybe he'll turn out to be the perfect successor to Ben Wallace when he can't get it done anymore a season or two down the line.

At 4/01/2007 7:39 PM, Anonymous Pichi Campana Aguanta said...

Yeah, I have no idea if Herrmann is Jewish either. Just wanted to observe that Argentina is full of people who escaped Europe for all kinds of reasons. The town I visited was called Villa General Belgrano.



But I think this town is the exception and not the rule.

I thought Shoals was the originator of the Herrmann/Dr.J comparisons, but apparently that was his rep back in his days tearing up the Spanish league.

wv: lefatq - a three guard conglomerate of Bron, Baron, and an erstwhile Knick

At 4/01/2007 7:54 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

I'll chime in to Kaifa's question, since I am of Argentine descent; yes, there are most certainly towns/villages/neighborhoods that are purely settled by German, um, refugees. They didn't necessarily try to assimulate too much. They exist outside of Argentina, too - I saw an small town in DR that was mostly German settlers (with German restaurants, bars, and language) - but clearly its more likely in Argentina. Here is wikipedia's list of German settlements in Argentina:


And I have no idea if Herrmann is Jewish or not, but I would bet not, since no one has written about it yet, and because most Germans in Argentina are not Jewish.

At 4/01/2007 8:00 PM, Anonymous Pichi Campana Aguanta said...

SML, are you talking about Sosua in the DR? That place is great. And as long as we're talking about the History of the Jews in Latin American, I offer this:


And only slightly related to this thread, but I'd like to see the NBA implement that 4 point halfcourt shot.

At 4/01/2007 10:09 PM, Blogger T. said...

- Yao + TMac coming together like Voltron (albeit with a set-back today)

- Golden State scoring 120ppg, Beidrens with 15+ rebounds and shooting 60% the rest of the way

- Co-sign on Boki Nachbar dunking on everyone (he said he got the most practice dunking on Yao in practice)

- Chuck Hayes - Most Improved Player?

- It's Ilyasova Time!

At 4/02/2007 12:22 AM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Holy ish - nice call, Pichi. Yes, Sosua is an amazing place. Good times. Very good times. My crew lost enough money at the casino one time that the mafia dude that runs the casino (Philly mafia, as it turns out) invited us over for a bbq at his place the next day. And I'm obviously leaving out the stories involving women, the beach, or both. 40 ounces of Presidente for under a $1!

At 4/02/2007 1:23 AM, Anonymous ronald james davis said...

as a follow up, farmar scored .43 points per minute in the d-league and .57 points per minute in the nba today. Clearly, sacramento kings defense < anaheim arsenal defense

At 4/02/2007 2:16 AM, Blogger Aaron said...

*Josh Boone becoming exactly what I expected him to be (a taller, less ridiculous Renaldo Balkman)

*Isiah's smile, which still infuriates me every time I see it... I don't know. I agree with SML that there's something beautiful about the configurations Isiah's been throwing out there recently. The emergence of the young Knicks has been surprisingly fun. But there's so many 'if only's' associated with these Knicks. If only Ariza were part of the bunch instead of Francis. If only we had Ty Thomas instead of Eddy Curry. If only Isiah didn't feel obligated to put Jerome James on the field every so often.

At 4/02/2007 4:12 AM, Blogger EL MIZ said...

--in the vein of STARBURY's 43 point, 5 assist night a few days ago, might we ever see an Eddy Curry line of 40 points, 1 rebound, 0 blocks.

--everytime nate robinson (5'9") outrebounds eddy curry (6'11")

At 4/02/2007 8:05 AM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Thanks PCA and SML, and there's no other basketball site I could imagine being pointed to something like this. Very interesting, I'll definitely look into this corner of German history I had neglected so far.

Back to the original point of the post:

- the NBA becoming more and more like somebody playing NBA Live at home: a) the way the Suns play, b) teams starting their five best players (=those with the best rating) regardless of having a traditional PG-SG-SF-PF-C line-up, c) more than ever, single players on various teams going off for huge scoring nights just like some kid always giving the ball to Kobe or LeBron when playing at home

- Also, thanks, to Josh Smith and now Tyrus Thomas, the regular occurence of the block on defense followed by the fast break trailer and dunk by the same guy. Although that does have a kind of Super Mario-burst-of-indestructability-after finding-a-yellow-star quality to it...

- Ronny Turiaf, kid in the candy store

At 4/02/2007 10:25 AM, Blogger evan said...

-Kobe being able to go on a month long scoring tear without seeming brash or ostentatious.

-Don Nelson still having more sack than 90% of other coaches in his experimental rotations.

-Golden State being faster overall than Phoenix.

-(QRich, Ray, etc) packing it up for the season like NFL stars not going to the playoffs.

**My grandparents (Jewish) moved from Miami to the DR around 88. We would visit and go to Shabbat services at the temple which I think may have been in their small town Cabarete. We would go to Sosua Beach where my pre-mitzvah eyes would lead me to all of the fine, topless euro chicks.

Anyone who's been of late, shoot me an email (evanucf@hotmail.com)**

At 4/02/2007 11:14 AM, Blogger SuperFrankieLampard said...

-Being able to see the Bobcats play the Wizards at home for ten bucks.

-The possibility that Hermann could, like God, hold the whole world in his massive hands.

-The possibility that James White could throw down a two-handed dunk from the foul line on a breakaway in garbage time.

At 4/02/2007 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't stop seeing that furry thing from the first picture, and I can't stop laughing about that "Michael Ruffin: Student of Physics" line.

At 4/02/2007 12:22 PM, Blogger Louie Bones said...

"- Also, thanks, to Josh Smith and now Tyrus Thomas, the regular occurence of the block on defense followed by the fast break trailer and dunk by the same guy. Although that does have a kind of Super Mario-burst-of-indestructability-after finding-a-yellow-star quality to it..."

That is genius Kaifa.

At 4/02/2007 1:24 PM, Anonymous Iverson fan said...

-Kobe's ego develops its own gravitational force.

-Linus Kleiza drops 40 in the playoffs.

-Kwame Brown makes a layup.

-Isaiah finally makes the trades for Darius Miles and Kmart.

-Josh McRoberts and Tyler Hansborough become the next Cherokee Parks and Eric Montross.

-Don Nelson convinces Al Harrington to play a little point forward.

-Phil Jackson shows the Lakers pictures of Popovich and the bad guy from "Grease" so that his team will compete harder.

-A Canadian wins his third straight MVP.

At 4/02/2007 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darkofan: Lyrical post. Among the teams still scrapping for spots, season end desperation produces positive development. Example: Nets rookie Josh Boone, playing all season behind Collins who would be the dullest palyer in the league were it not for his deep foul shooting malaise, has suddenly emerged as a player smart enough to put himself in a position to make productive use of passes from Kidd.

At 4/02/2007 6:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't this whole corrolary also a presentation of a large problem right now? That problem being the fact that no playoff-hovering team has had the stones to go on a run and put themselves in the playoffs.

We are in a state of sports right now where there just arent enough players taking matters into their own hands and winning games/championships. Even in last years finals, when DWade had a chance to put the ultimate seal on the game and hit 2 free throws in Game 6 to go up by four and clinch it, and he misses them (yeah they still won the game but still..).

What I'm saying is that right now is a time where a Baron Davis or a Dwight Howard or Tyson Chandler/Chris Paul (et al) should be having strings of 3 or 4 games in which they elevate to superstar levels and carry their teams into the playoffs on their shoulders. The problem is no one is doing this.

At 4/04/2007 3:45 AM, Anonymous grover said...

Speaking of Josh Smith and his April exploits...

Is there any question that the boy is looking forward to Fo-Twenty? That he's playing in anticipation of the stickyicky?

I mean, the guy is always looking utterly chill, whether it's skying for a massive block or galloping down the court for the follow-up slam.

And yes, I recognize the word 'chill' is more often applied to his teammate Josh Childress, while our boy Smith is J-Smoove. I simply refuse to hear of it.

Is there any more contrived, utterly boring duo of nicknames out there in the NBA today? Or ever?


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