Slap Me With Some Proper

This is not a post about the MVP race; I lost interest in that thing the year Jason Kidd got robbed. This is also not my recap of Sunday's game, since only a fool would think that's the real state of Sun/Mavs. What it is, however, is a glance back at an era we didn't realize we were missing. A time when Simmons could describe Amare/Dirk as "the greatest match-up in Rucker history." When I could drunkenly explain to Big Baby that, were I starting a team, Nowitzki would be my first choice of cornerstone—at least twice a week. When "liquid giraffe" worked positively because of its cutesy understatement, when "Next Nowitzki" could set off a Durant-like orgasm of hype. I speak, and I feel the absence, of the days when Dirk was to be feared.

I know that he's the best player on the league's best team, and that he's a more complete opponent than in the pre-Avery years. And with the patriotic Josh Howard by his side, how could this diligent teammate but diminish his magisterial sweep? A German by nature, Nowitzki would doubtless reach his ultimate effectiveness when asked to thrive situationally. Of course this inexplicable creature would be most fully-realized when asked to tackle concrete problems, as opposed to running free like some Mediterranean slime.

All this may be fantastically the case, and yet I long for what was. Remember how in He Got Game, Denzel gets all misty over the early Earl Monroe? Well, in my mistaken identification with the people who once slayed so many of my kin, I have a similar panoramic warmth associated with Nowitzki under Don Nelson. He can still score from anywhere, and will if appropriate—provided he's not choking or fading. That's not the same, though, as knowing he was going to score from wherever just because he could. Like LeBron, or Kobe, or Durant, Dirk once was a player who decided he had to score and then thrilled you proving he could. Perhaps he's wiser now, looking for cues and stoking a trembling economy of function. To me, though, this is not how legends are made, and exactly why "Dirk for MVP" lacks sizzle.

Come to think of it, has anyone thought to correlate Dirk's nagging disappearances with Avery-ball? That maybe it's exactly because of the new way in which Nowitzki is deployed that he sometimes comes up short? Despite his background, maybe this one-of-a-kind dangling bean is born to run, to make things happen rather than be hedged in by context. Even when the Mavs go crazy, it's a far more regimented, iterative offense than was every induced under Nelson. Especially, for some reason, with regard to Dirk. I might be exaggerating this for effort's sake, but at this very moment I feel like Nowitzki has gone from the avatar of Nellie's regime to Avery's prized pupil. This may win games, but at what price?

I find it puzzling that, if Durant becomes a viable #1 because of the Suns, and Dirk is the closest there is in the league now to Durant, why no one thinks Dirk belongs in a wide-open offense. So what, he's seven feet tall. Boris Diaw is pretty big, and Phoenix has no problem getting him on a little bit of everything. If there's something missing from Dirk's on-court charisma, I'd have to attribute it to this. He's been domesticated, applied in a way that would make Hermann's creators proud. Still, this is a entity with the ability to send ripples through the basketball imagination. It is the difference between those who would like to see LeBron back down defenders more, and those who demand he play the point.

Speaking of LeBron, I supremely urge you to peep out this post by my FanHaus cohort Nate Jones, in which he points out that Biz LeBron is ailing. This didn't really sink in until I saw that dinky lawnmower commercial, for which he received only a paltry $200K. Seriously, I was all for him and his boys sticking it to convention, but that shit is just sad.

(Are there no replays in college basketball broadcasts?)

(Is Greg Oden really that tired?)


At 4/03/2007 12:22 AM, Blogger Louie Bones said...

"patriotic Josh Howard"
First a jab at Howards anti-war stance...
"Perhaps he's wiser now, looking for cues and stoking a trembling economy of function. To me, though, this is not how legends are made, and exactly why "Dirk for MVP" lacks sizzle."
...And then saying German efficiency hinders his MVP quest.

Certainly an interesting remark coming from you, someone who doesn't even care about the award.

At 4/03/2007 12:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the commentators talking in the second quarter or so of the Mavs-Suns doulbe overtime game about mentioning to Dirk how he could still be playing with Steve Nash right now... His eyes misted over and he said something like "sometimes I think of what might have been."

At 4/03/2007 12:28 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...




At 4/03/2007 1:04 AM, Blogger Nate said...

Regarding Durant and Phoenix causing him to be number one, I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up in Phoenix. With Atlanta's pick top 3 protected, Phoenix has no chance of getting Mr.Durant unless they trade for him. I think before Phoenix settles for Noah or anyone else, they are going to try and package Marion and their three first round picks for Kevin Durant. They are going to be running into salary cap issues soon, and this would give them an opportunity to dump Marion before he opts out after next season, and also get a player who has the potential to be one of the best players in the league after a few years. Bill Simmons mentioned this on a podcast with Chad Ford. If Phoenix get’s Durant I’ll probably shoot myself. Amare and Durant playing next to each other for the next 10-15 years, with Steve Nash in the mix at least for the next 3-5 years. That’s crazy.

Here’s the Ford/Simmons podcast:


And here’s a link to a post where I break down Phoenix’s Salary Cap situation:


WV: ywzoapkx...What NBA GMS will scream if Durant ends up in Phoenix.

At 4/03/2007 1:11 AM, Blogger DrewBreez said...

This is so on point about Dirk. Kobe is the Dirk antithesis and for all the right reasons. He's a show entirely of himself and enjoys it when he has to take absurd fading threes to keep his hapless team in it. Dirk has become docile (not his nature) and would probably defer to a lesser Terry or Howard for the final shot in order to remain "true." I think this will keep Dirk in suspension until further notice. Kobe for MVP.

Not even a Kobe fan,
Drew Ricketts


At 4/03/2007 1:59 AM, Anonymous SonnySqueegee said...

is this a basketball blog or the style section in my metropolitan newspaper? dirk for mvp because he is the mvp. aba is dead suckas.

At 4/03/2007 2:05 AM, Blogger T. said...

I nominate sonnysqueegee as "Reader Least in Tune with FreeDarko's purpose"

*Honorable mention goes to LouisBones for thinking FD would mock Josh Howard's anti-war stance.

At 4/03/2007 2:15 AM, Anonymous SonnySqueegee said...

ah T dont hate, just mixing it up with a new name and thought this would be a good post to throw it in. wait, dirk in an aba uniform, my mind wanders.....

At 4/03/2007 2:36 AM, Anonymous tisopeurope said...

If basketball blogs were a newspaper, FD would be the style section.

At 4/03/2007 5:50 AM, Blogger T. said...

sonny - is it really hating to point out that you're criticizing a blog for being concerned about "style" when the very construct and purpose statement of this blog is about examining the style as it relates to the association?

(I wanted to work in some sort of reference to Struck & White/Elements of Style, but deleted 3 or 4 "jokes" and decided I best leave it up to people who are actually clever)

At 4/03/2007 8:45 AM, Blogger ~CW~ said...

Nate, while that would make me consider taking out a loan and just traveling around the country watching the Suns play every night, there's one problem: Who, even with the incentive of Marion and more number one picks, wants to be the GM that traded away the chance to have Kevin Durant? It would be like taking Mario Williams over Bush and Young, only times a thousand in terms of fans hating you.

At 4/03/2007 10:56 AM, Anonymous IShootFours said...

All I know, is that if the love child of Mark Madsen and Anderson Varejao (Joakim Noah) is on the Suns within the next 80 years of my life, then my life loses purpose. A hustle player, a good but not great role player, should not be a lottery pick. Give me a draft where I could choose Kwame, Shawn Bradley or Joakim and I am taking the two former. The have and had in Shawns case, basketball ability. The Suns already have dead weight in Sean Marks, why add a lottery pick who clearly cannot even shower properly?

To be honest, I wouldn't mind losing Shawn Marion. He said himself, the Suns do not run sets for him. So really, what is the purpose of paying 17 million for a man who is essientially, not a part of your gameplan? Kevin Durant would be nice, but wouldn't Brewer be just as nice given the Suns system? I am not saying do not take Kevin, and fiscally it would make more sense with one first rounder than three but Brewer would bring alot to the Phoenix lineup in regards to defense, and he isn't a slouch on the defensive end.

I guess the end all is, Fuck Joakim Noah.

wv:dyyxczf-The sound I'll make when Joakim gets drafted.

At 4/03/2007 10:57 AM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

CW - it depends on who #2 is (or #1, if they don't want Oden, either). I can't see the Celts doing it, but the Bucks? If they end up at #1 or 2, do they need Oden (they have Bogut) or Durant (they have Redd for another three seasons, minimum)? Wouldn't Marion plus three #1's be a better fit for their franchise?

And why would the Hawks want a SG (Durant) or a center (Oden) when they could have another SF (Marion) and a chance to draft another three SFs?

My point being that its not totally out of the realm of possibility, though I would have to bet against seeing Durant in a Suns uniform.

At 4/03/2007 11:49 AM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

And for that Bucks-Suns deal to work, the Bucks would want to include some dead weight in the deal, so Bobby Simmons and his $10 million a year for two more seasons would be going to Phoenix, too.

At 4/03/2007 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darkofan: The lucrative lawn mower endorsement article (linked in the post) has irony. Maybe John Deere can sign A.I.
Reminds of Earl (the Pearl/the Seal) Washington using brother Beaver Washington as his agent when signing with the Nets years ago, or Bill Walton using the radical Jake Scott as his unofficial agent with the Trailblazers.)

At 4/03/2007 11:56 AM, Anonymous CB4 said...

More like, is Joakim Noah really THAT tired? It took him about 3 minutes, whereas Oden played almost the whole game.

At 4/03/2007 12:10 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

"And why would the Hawks want a SG (Durant) or a center (Oden) when they could have another SF (Marion) and a chance to draft another three SFs?"

sml is funny.

and smart. that suns trade would actually make sense for the bucks, provided they get at least one starter-quality player out of their 1st rounders.

PG mo williams
SG redd
SF marion
PF villanoeyebrows
C bogut

plus charlie bell, david noel (poor man's marion), and all those first rounders. if they stayed healthy, that's a good team.

At 4/03/2007 1:42 PM, Blogger Nate said...

I actually posted about some Durant/Phoenix trade scenarios over at the Haus...


At 4/03/2007 2:23 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

okay, nate, i'll say it. you're smart, too.

At 4/03/2007 2:55 PM, Anonymous D-Wil said...

I swear KD is staying in school unless his Franken-mentor Rick Barnes splits for Kentucky. Then again, I could be wrong. I actually hope both Oden and KD stay just to witness the crumpling of so many GM's dreams.

Hoewver, Suns getting KD scenarios do make complete sense, which means there are lots of smart people out there, even - sigh - Simmons.

And Dirk-Diaw? How quickly we forget that Boris the Spider was a PG for two minutes in the ATL.

At 4/03/2007 4:29 PM, Anonymous Joel said...

Diaw was an absolute wretched player for the Hawks and I believe on most teams he would be an average contributor at best.

At 4/03/2007 4:50 PM, Blogger rubbersoul said...

Come on Shoals, this Nowitzki argument is rather poorly contrived.

"A German by nature, Nowitzki would doubtless reach his ultimate effectiveness when asked to thrive situationally."

What is that? With this reading, shouldn't all American players be fat and amoral? You make the huge mistake here of critiquing Dirk as if he were somehow representative of one's perception of Germany, rather than but one in a land of many.

"I have a similar panoramic warmth associated with Nowitzki under Don Nelson."

Where any evidence of foreign difference may be seen is in analyzing Dirk as he tries to become THE MAN, and all that entails in a post-Jordan NBA. The Jordan image and legend has been fetishized out of attainability here in America, and perhaps abroad as well, but where a key difference lies is in how one perceives Jordandom vs. the now American-fetishized Euro Team Ball concept in relation to ultimate basketball achivement. Basically, I doubt Dirk grew up trying to be Jordan; more likely, it was Detlef Schrempf whose poster hung in his room.

Dirk in the Nellie days was, I think, more out of alignment with his inner basketball morality than he is now. Remember, he came over young and impressionable, and Nelson never pushed anyone to be THE MAN anyway; that would just infringe on his own conception of genius. Whereas I agree that that Nowitzki was entertaining as hell to watch, I think he probably got tired of losing, and his subsuming of any ego to the AJ team thing they've got going on now is more in line with more fully realized conception of basketball greatness (i.e., titles over highlights).

Nowitzki is psychologically fascinating precisely because he fits no traditional mold of how we've come to expect our superstars to behave. He's very open about his anxieties; I think early on, he was Nellie-ball's avatar because Nelson made him that, just as AJ has made him the manifestation of his ideal. But underlying both is Nowitzki's ever desperate quest for authentic achievement.

At 4/03/2007 4:54 PM, Anonymous iverson fan said...

"Iterative offense?" Are you serious? I had to google that one. Longing for the old Dirk is like longing for the old Peyton Manning. "Man, I know he is good and winning now, but I really miss the days when his team played no D and he just put up monster stats." Come on. I really miss the old Tom Hanks, the one that acted so funny in Splash and Bosom Buddies. It really sucks that he has tried to improve and better his craft. I can't wait to read the article in 4 years that longs for the Nellie coached Monta Ellis.

At 4/03/2007 5:03 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

@ rubbersoul's theory about dirk getting "tired of losing." sure, they're historically good in the win column this year, but let's not act like the mavs weren't winning games during the time dirk and don spent together.

(i'm leaving out dirk's rookie year because he had not really arrived yet.)

99-00: 40-42
00-01: 53-29
01-02: 57-25
02-03: 60-22
03-04: 52-30*
04-05: 42-22 (before aj took over)

*03-04 was the fucked up year they had jamison AND walker, and were also trying to work a rookie josh howard into the mix.

At 4/03/2007 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"PF villanoeyebrows"....too funny

At 4/03/2007 5:06 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

iversonfan's back! shoals recognizes that dirk has "improved," so what's wrong with saying he personally enjoyed the old dirk better, or that that were some aspects of old dirk that were "better" than new dirk? it's his OPINION.

it's my opinion that tom hanks is an insufferable, self-satisfied douchebag, and i personally will not see any movies he's in. this has been the case since "philadelphia." i very much miss "bosom buddies" and "big" tom hanks.

At 4/03/2007 5:19 PM, Blogger rubbersoul said...

Sure, they were successful in the regular season, but they always lost in the playoffs. They were never really close to the best team in the league any of those seasons.

I'd argue that the moment that completed the change was the fallout after Dirk blewup at Jason Terry after seeing his best friend (and ex partner in offensive heroics and playoff shortcomings) eliminate him in the 04 playoffs. That's also why I think he's become a better player since Nash left - they don't have the luxury of relying on each other, and were both forced to confront alone what they previously neglected together.

At 4/03/2007 5:25 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Notorious Academy Award Whore Tom Hanks vs. "Bosum Buddies/Splash" Tom Hanks is the new "Is Basketball like Jazz?" of FreeDarko.

At 4/03/2007 6:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beth and the haters got a smackdown at MavsMoneyball.com today.

At 4/03/2007 6:18 PM, Anonymous iverson fan said...

Recluse, I love the Burbs as much as anybody, and I realize it was his OPINION. What I posted was my OPINION. His just came off like a music fan that no longer likes the artist because now his band shirts are sold at Hot Topic. I think the kids call that POV "elitest." "But at what cost?" Like Dirk has sold out in order to win. He didnt sell out he bought in. This is basketball. Winning is the point. If Dirk were playing on And1 mixtapes, I would be all with you. But what's with the Tom Hanks hate? I mean he's not my favorite, but he's not Keith Van Horn either. Who is the Tom Hanks of basketball? I say Joe Dumars.

At 4/03/2007 9:47 PM, Blogger Joey said...

As much as I liked and like Dirk, Gunner, I always felt that his appeal was heightened due to his uber European-ess. He had awesomely bad haircuts, he failed to enunciate and said things with this vacant vocal intonation, he wore that crappy earring for a while, and he told Sports Illustrated that he didn't use the internet except to check email. That made Dirk this happy-go-lucky scoring machine. He has become a little more serious and whole foreigner aspect of her persona has been muted. I sort of miss that more than anything else.

At 4/03/2007 9:58 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

Hey I don't know where else to post this, but it has to be of interest here.


Title: Jerry Colangelo doesn't read wizznutzz/Esquire/freedarko/fanhouse/truehoop/espn/dcsportsbog/pay attention to the nba

From the lengthy espn article about upcoming USA Ball rosters:
Colangelo also said he wants to have a clear-the-air meeting with Gilbert Arenas, whose departure from the team during an exhibition tour of South Korea was less than amicable. Colangelo said he unsuccessfully tried to contact Arenas when he was in Washington last weekend, getting a message that Arenas' voice mailbox was full.

...I think we all know that Gilly's voicemail is always full. "Hey, this is me!"

At 4/04/2007 4:07 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

I think that for many attracted to FD as a place to discuss the NBA (or maybe it's only me), the point isn't winning. The point is winning through an expression of self that is simultaneously stylish, psychologically revealing, and fun.

"Selling out" and "buying in" are equally opprobrious if they mean a renunciation or subsuming of self to a geriatric concept like "team" simply for more wins and jewelry. Champions are truly made through self-overcoming.

"Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost, and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment."

At 4/05/2007 11:55 AM, Anonymous Aaron said...

What I find fascinating about Shoals's post is that Mark Cuban's line has consistently been "We already tried the Suns offense and it didn't work for us." I've always had a problem with Cuban's idea that Nelly-ball is identical to Sunsball. There's not a lot of points of commonality between the two systems, philosophically, and I think any visual similarities are purely superficial. But I think Cuban would be shocked by your even asking what Dirk could do in the D'Antoni offense, because he feels like he's already been there and done that.

At 4/05/2007 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where do they differ philosophically? The fundamental tenet of both offenses is that they are going to run and gun and try to "outscore you" rather than "hold you down."

Even in the halfcourt, Phx runs the pick and roll with Amare and Nash, Dallas ran the pick and pop with Dirk and Nash - the difference is simply personnel. The Suns also have better 3-point shooters than the Mavs did. Phx executes better in the halfcourt than those Dallas teams because there is no way to guard a pick and roll when it involves arguably the most destructive post player and the best shooter in the game today. Philosophically, though, how do they REALLY differ? I'm just looking for some elaboration..

At 4/05/2007 6:10 PM, Anonymous Freddie said...

Where do they differ philosophically? The fundamental tenet of both offenses is that they are going to run and gun and try to "outscore you" rather than "hold you down."

That is an incredibly simplistic reckoning of an offensive philosophy.

At 4/05/2007 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, obviously, but I was trying to hit as close to the root philosophy as possible. That, and I don't have a dry erase board handy.

I'm still waiting for someone to delineate the PHILOSOPHICAL differences.

At 4/06/2007 1:17 AM, Anonymous Aaron said...

Are you kidding? Personnel reflects offensive philosophy. Nash and Dirk may have run the pick and roll, but those Nelly-ball teams were mainly about scorers, people who could take the ball and create points by themselves. Nelly-ball was about emphasizing scoring over everything, and putting together a bunch of individual scorers and seeing if they could overwhelm other teams without there being any semblance of a team. It was a noble experiment, but it has nothing to do with the team-driven run and gun of the Nash/D'Antoni Suns, who are all about getting easy points by creating scoring opportunities for teammates. They might look similar, but the ideas were very different.

At 4/06/2007 3:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still disagree. Your claim only really holds up for one version of Nellie's Mavs - the 2004 team, with Nash, Dirk, Finley, Jamison and 'Toine Walker. THAT's a team of individual scorers, and not suprisingly, they had a down year (compared to the previous few seasons).

The personnel of the more successful Nellie Mavs, in terms of defined roles, is not strikingly dissimilar to these Suns. For example, the starting 5 for the 2003 WCF team: Nash, Raja Bell, Mike Finley, Dirk, Bradley.

We've already discussed Nash/Dirk and Nash/Amare; Bell's role was very similar - defend and spot up. By the time Dirk became an illuminating force himself, Finley's role was drastically reduced: he pretty much had to get his on the fast break, with the occasional curl off a screen. Marion on these Suns is the same sort of cat in those terms, but his vastly superior athleticism and rebounding make him the more forceful player.

My comparison kind of breaks down with Bradley and Diaw, but what I would say is that those 2 are decidedly lower options on the offensive end. Where the Suns have expanded and refined the philosophy is when they play Diaw in the post and let him wield his passing ability.

At 4/07/2007 1:50 AM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

Nellie ≈ Hegel

D'Antoni ≈ Schopenhauer

At 4/07/2007 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only question: Who will prove to be Nietzsche...Nash? Yuta Tabuse? I'm guessing not Marbury...

At 4/13/2009 4:59 AM, Blogger 平平 said...




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