NBA Playoff Race War Semiotics: Part 2
Today, we journey West, as both our Asian and Jewish forebears have done in years past. I should note here that we chose to wait until the Playoffs for this racial review because only the highest achieving teams in the Association could possibly be considered either Asian or Jewish. If you're just tuning in, either scroll down or click here for Part 1. Also, be sure to check out our playoff coverage over at Deadspin over the next month.
[Also, thanks to T. for the amazing Juwan Howard picture.]
Bethlehem Shoals: Few things are as pronounced in post-war German culture as guilt over the Shoah. Lots of fervent Christians, especially those in Texas, have a strange obsession with living, breathing Jews. They like to touch them and marvel that their ancestors live in the Bible. Between their Deep South zealot coach and a star who's the equivalent of German liberalism, the Mavs are obviously going to be Jew-friendly. In fact, they've said I can run practice during the Finals.
Brown Recluse, Esq.: As a Japanese-American, it pains me to acknowledge that there are an awful lot of similarities between Germany and Japan. They both tried to take over the world, hate immigrants, and manufacture high-quality automobiles. Dirk's way too tall to be Japanese, but otherwise, he fits the bill. He doesn't want to stand out too much from his teammates, and he has that little goatee like Pat Morita. Also, Devin Harris is Chinese, Desagana Diop is Korean, and Josh Howard is Vietnamese.
BS: The Suns might be my favorite basketball team ever. I never enjoy watching them—instead, I bemoan the fact that the game will soon end, some other team will grace the screen, and things will be lacking. They make me hate my life, curse my family, and wallow in my own woeful inadequacy. In short, the effect they have on my NBA experience reinforces three of the most Jewish traits imaginable: self-doubt, complaining, and comic melancholy.
BR: Well, after reading Shoals's paragraph about the Suns, I'm convinced that he's Jewish, but the Phoenix Suns are clearly Asian. Steve Nash is a given: soft-spoken, humble, and works incredibly hard on his game and conditioning. But, it's the team as a whole that really embodies Asian values. Amare is only one extra letter away from "amae," a Japanese word meaning "indulgent dependence". Nash indulges his teammates with his incredible passing skills, and they in turn are dependent on him in order to amass their huge scoring totals. Much is made of how Marion is incapable of creating his own shot, and you can bet the Suns players truly appreciate the open looks Nash gets them on the perimeter.
San Antonio Spurs
BS: After three seasons of very public effort, I will now admit that I cannot rationally explain my dislike of the Spurs. It's part aesthetics, part affect, part history and part highly personal truth. . . and yet, it isn't really any of these. So it is with this the construct called "Jewish identity." There's a bit of genetics, a religious canon, certain cultural values, and yes, some shrill delusion. And yet somehow no combination of these seems adequate. Thus, for making me better understand the elusive nature of Jewish identity, I claim the Spurs as my own.
BR: This may sound weird, but Tim Duncan has always reminded me a lot of my half-Korean cousin (wait, wasn't that the play Lincoln was watching when he got got?). They're both tall, have round faces, married white girls, and most importantly, have a quietly devious personality. Duncan's deviousness has been obscured because his game is all old-school fundamentals, causing the media to inaccurately label Duncan the individual as stoic and wholesome. Indeed, his Chinese fans call him the "Stone Buddha". In reality, Duncan is more similar to Sun Wukong, the Chinese Monkey King, who liked to play pranks and acheived greatness through craftiness.
BS: Um, no.
BR: Asian-American scholar Claire Jean Kim has developed a theory stating that Asian-Americans have been "racially triangulated" (figures the shit sound like a geometry proof) in relation to the black/white racial dichotomy. While whites are seen as the dominant "superior" group, blacks are perceived as "inferior" and stereotyped as lazy and unintelligent. Asians are positioned between the two groups, stereotyped as smart and hardworking, yet too foreign to gain entry into the dominant white culture. Although the Jazz don't have any Asian players, their two best players are both biracial, themselves positioned between black and white, perpetual outsiders. Add in the fact that they're obedient and hard-working, and we've got ourselves some honorary Asians in Carlos and Deron.
BS: Ground zero for the conflict. Let me break down a few things for you, though: Yao is too tall for an Asian. Those uniforms don't look like China, they look like an upscale Chinese restaurant. Chinese food in this country would be nothing without the Jews' patronage. McGrady may be mellow and all, but he's got a nagging back problem and has even dabbled in psychotherapy. With a void opening up where once an honorable pagoda stood, Van Gundy (duh) and Juwan Howard come rushing in. If Caron Butler is Korean, Juwan is most definitely a Jew. And not just because of the name.
BR: For those keeping score, there are zero Jews in the NBA (Jordan Farmar doesn't count) and one Asian. Far from being a token, Yao is the most dominant big man in the game, and his presence alone makes the Rockets unequivocally Asian. Also, as explained earlier, all biracial players are Asian, so Shane Battier counts, too. And please, Juwan Howard is Asian, because of the name and because he spent his rookie year in the NBA writing term papers on the team plane so he could graduate with his class. That's the most Asian shit I've ever heard.
BS: They may lead the league in Asian ink, but that's about it. I spent the first four decades of my life thinking George Karl was Jewish, and why wouldn't Larry Brown's sidekick count? Plus a team whose very success depends on psychological, rather than physical, fits well with the Jewish agenda. We invented the only kind of psychology that works, are preoccupied with taking part in it, and are physically deficient in all ways but one.
BR: George Karl isn't a Jew, he's a fucking Asian guru. He's bald, lives on top of a mountain, and teaches young men the meaning of life. Witness this quotation from last January: "It's my Chinese fortune cookie. The year of the rabbit. The year of the cat. It's the year of the Nuggets. Forget about last year. Let's learn from what happened last year. Let's move on to 2006 and have a great 2006."
Los Angeles Lakers:
BS: Los Angeles may belong equally to both peoples. Their flagship sports franchise, not so much so. Exhibit A: Kobe Bean Bryant. In case you forgot, he wouldn't mind being Jewish and feels for the plight of the Israelites. In case you didn't click on that second one, Kobe and many other Lakers are unquestioned friends of Elie Seckbach. Yeah, I see Phil Jackson and his Buddhist awakening. Let's be real, though—what's more Jewish than grown men having Buddhist awakenings? One hour later: I only just now remembered Jordan Farmar.
BR: The Lakers are so goddamn Asian, I don't even know where to start. Head coach Phil Jackson is a Buddhist, Kobe is a city in Japan, Luke Walton's stepmother is Asian, I could go on and on. But, the real Asianness comes from Kobe's inner struggle. Blessed with natural talent and possessing a strong work ethic, he has tried in recent seasons to be a more selfless player , but has found it difficult to dampen his extreme drive to be the best. I'm not denying that Bean Thousand is often obnoxiously arrogant, but every once in a while, you get the sense that he's the high school valedictorian who wishes he could just blow off violin lessons and hang out with the regular kids. Totally Asian.
Golden State Warriors
BS: I'll have to settle for a consolation prize on this one. They're definitely Asian, but there's no way they're as Asian as the Recluse thinks they are. I'm sure this team leads the league in mildly offensive jokes about egg rolls, and last I checked, they'd yet to promote Yuta Tabuse up from their NBDL affiliate.
BR: This one is too easy. Golden State = Yellow State. Over.