A Burger on Every Doorstep

Call me inept, but I'm only so disappointed that the Warriors threw that game to the proverbial dogs last night. It might have a little to do with my newfound embrace of the Jazz. Certainly, Fisher and Brown's respective perils made a mockery of all my "basketball is humanity" posturing. Golden State's twisted tale of discovery is X's and O's compared to immediate well-being threatened, and even T-Mac's saga places too much emphasis on basketball winning and losing. Plus there's Kirilenko, who in addition to having become THE FIRST EVER EURO WITH THE SLIGHTEST BIT OF EMOTIONAL RESONANCE has sky-rocketed back into the FreeDarko power rankings. When a guy blocks every shot in the lane and then fills in for an elite-ish point at the other end, Lamar Odom suddenly seems like a mere dilettante in this here revolution.

But there's also something mildly hypnotic about how endlessly nonchalant the Warriors are. I've often marveled at Phoenix's inability to understand the concept of pressure. They're not steely up against it, they're basically oblivious to it. With the Warriors, that's taken in a whole other, possibly psychotic, direction. I sometimes get the sense that Golden State thrives only on fun. Half-court offense, that's a drag. Tightening up to face an OT, who wants to do that? They don't just play loose, easy and arrogant; they're indifference to anything has to be addressed otherwise. That gigantic collapse in Dallas wasn't just failed, it was pretty half-hearted. Same with the thing last night—it's like they thumb their collective nose at pressure so forcefully that they're propelled away from it.

Granted, this is an exceptionally romantic view of a proud team that wants to win. However, I think it does do some worming into that team's psyche. They're fueled by something almost mystical, and when that's taken away they're only so good. Hard to pin down exactly what this misty ingredient is. I do know, though, that without it basketball kind of ceases to be basketball. Not only are they less fluid and conherent--they're barely even present on the floor. Reminds me of something I said about Gerald Wallace once; actually, it's more like my slightly-forced reading of what makes J.R. Smith special.

The Suns play like a team who have rejected the late-game narrative. The Warriors, they seem actively disgusted by any suggestion of it. Nothing but disdain for the crotchety theme of "playoff basketball." It served them well against the over-determined Mavericks, it now might well be their downfall, and I'll continue to love every minute of it.


At 5/10/2007 2:53 PM, Anonymous Sean said...

Deron Williams is going to be special. Question is: How FD is he? I can't really get a read on his style of play, since he seems adept to playing whatever role is required of him.

At 5/10/2007 3:19 PM, Anonymous Josh said...

I was almost entirely unable to appreciate the Jazz last night. I think I've bought too deeply into the Golden State mystique already... it's sad when you can't enjoy 6 Kirilenko blocks, isn't it?

But I like your take on it here. Half-court offense IS a drag, and I can't blame the Warriors so much for being bad at 4th-quarter foul shooting when the guys who missed them were mostly the ones who are just plain bad at foul shooting all the time. But it would have been nice to see them steal that game, instead of nearly steal it, have it stolen back, and then produce nothing at all in OT.

At 5/10/2007 3:51 PM, Anonymous randyduck said...

What's hard for me, sitting there at the bar rooting so hard for The City, is the knowledge that half of what I'm used to yelling at the television screen is moot because in the Warriors' offense as it's currently constituted there is simply no such thing as a bad shot.

So I just end up pissed off about rebounds.

At 5/10/2007 3:57 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said...

I have a new theory: places infect team characters. Places like Salt Lake City and San Antonio can never hire anything but boring coaches because that's what their boring fans want. I thought up this theory in reaction to the crowd shots in Utah last night. It may be utter bullshit, I haven't really worked out the implications.

At 5/10/2007 3:57 PM, Blogger Kyle said...

The Warriors bandwagon is speeding up with everyone jumping off. Warriors in 6

At 5/10/2007 5:01 PM, Blogger Benaiah said...

The Warriors are heading home too, so I think the series is far from over. I am torn because the two teams that I want to win, the Suns and the Warriors, would be a terrible series. The games would be fun to watch, maybe, but the Suns are the Warriors except better at every position. I don't know if the Warriors would stand a chance against the Spurs either, but at least there would be conflict there. The Jazz versus the Spurs would be soul crushing, as the Spurs would already be anointed. These playoffs have been infinitely more entertaining than I expected, there has been swag to spare.

At 5/10/2007 5:04 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

Antid, I think that's totally true. I said as much when the Pacers traded for Dunleavy and Murphy, but people called me a (reverse) racist.

At 5/10/2007 5:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like the Warriors want to win but not quite enough to do any work to get there. The City missed their chance when Fisher was out. I see a coach and a team that's happy to be there, and happy to be in the spotlight in the Warriors. This Jazz team, on the other hand, seems to have grasped in the last few weeks that they have a shot to throw off the dead weight of the Stockton/Malone heritage, not a little at a time, but all at once. Deron Williams looks like a man who wants to take history out behind the woodshed and kick its ass.

At 5/10/2007 5:34 PM, Anonymous neck of eackles said...

The city-as-character theory is worth considering. But does it work at all for Phoenix? For that matter, does it go anywhere beyond "boring team, boring city"? (In the case of the Warriors, maybe yes.) Like, is San Antonio's boringness reflected differently than Salt Lake City's?

At 5/10/2007 5:39 PM, Anonymous MaxwellDemon said...

Re Antid's observation/theory--Ernie Johnson apologized to Boozer for asking him so many questions after the game, and Barkley opined that it didn't matter how long they kept him because there's nothing to do in Utah anyway. Perhaps the dearth of stimulation in the environs promotes team unity and individual focus. Ok, that doesn't explain how the Heat won last year, but it could account for the Knicks and the Hawks.

At 5/10/2007 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was born and raised in SLC, and I'm well aware of how boring a city it can often be. However, there are a few things to be aware of about it's basketball culture:
1. The Utah Stars were a succesful and exciting ABA team. People liked them. They won an ABA championship by running the ball and playing fancy.
2. The youth in Salt Lake are Lakers fans. There are black kids in Salt Lake high schools, and they never wear throwback Malone duds.
3. Larry Miller is racist. He made a gigantic Mayan themed resteraunt in South Salt Lake where white folk can watch brown virgins jump off cliffs every half hour. Oh, and he made his money from car dealerships.
To draw these ideas together, I don't think that the Jazz are necessarily a reflection of a boring Utah mentality (monster trucks are pretty flashy). I think however that the team is a reflection of Larry Miller's obsession with finding the absolute best team of white players that he possibly can. He has no conception about what people really want in terms of a show, and he's wealthy enough to not have to worry about ticket sales. So regardless of what people want, he's always happy to press the same honkey bullshit.
That's my take.

At 5/10/2007 7:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to return to a well covered topic, but did anyone else listen to Bill Simmon's new podcast and read his Duncan article and want to shoot themselves... Play the right way blah blah blah; how is this guy the same guy who talks about "White middle aged sports journalists" who can't understand the NBA?

At 5/10/2007 9:19 PM, Blogger BenQRock said...

Simmons' mag article about Duncan angered me. Enough media people slurp Duncan, and Simmons has the gall to call him underrated?

wv: rueghkok - I can't think of anything remotely appropriate.

At 5/10/2007 10:48 PM, Anonymous Sean said...

Someone needs to take Bruce Bowen DOWN. I just watched a You Tube clip of him flying through the air and kicking Wally Szczerbiak in the head. Hopefully, Amare will elbow him in the balls or Bell will clothesline him.

At 5/10/2007 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What sean said, buy change "or" to "and."

At 5/11/2007 12:13 AM, Blogger Pacifist Viking said...

Maybe there is a mystical connection between the spirit of a franchise and its city. The Minnesota Timberwolves reflect our attitudes during winter: it's never going to get better, it's going to be mundane with a few splashes of brilliance for those so inclined to appreciate it, it's mostly a pain that we have to suffer through, and so we stoicly carry on despite the hopeless situation. Or maybe that's just Garnett.

Then again, the freaking Lakers uses to be here. Well, I suppose Mikan/Mikkleson is MN and Kareem/Magic/Kobe is LA (though Elgin started out here too).

Sad that this is the only way I'll ever be able to talk about the Wolves during the playoffs.

At 5/11/2007 12:47 AM, Blogger Vinnie said...

Chicago--abbundant in style and, to some, the envy of the world. But ultimately, pride gives way to the pessimism it masks, and our fear of change sinks us.

Of course, that doesn't explain the whole six championship thing, but it might have something to do with why SCOTT SKILES DIDN'T FUCKING PUT IN TY THOMAS FOR A 58 YEAR-OLD P.J. BROWN WITH TIRED LEGS WHEN THEY WERE PISSING AWAY A 19-POINT LEAD.

But really, Skiles is the perfect coach for this city. He gives his players just enough free rein to exhibit their natural game, but he pulls back just before anyone goes and starts having fun. Life is hard work, and don't you ever forget it. Bright and early, Monday morning. Chop chop.

At 5/11/2007 2:25 AM, Anonymous eauhellzgnaw said...

Anonymous 6:42 makes a whole lot of sense. And I would argue that there are as many fans who explcitly prefer white players as those who do so subconsciously.

You also have to take into account, though, that certain types of black players are going to be miserable in Utah. Fuck AI and Sheed, Can you imagine Webber or Ben Wallace in Utah? They would have to remove all of the pills and belts from their homes. The Utah front office probably takes this into account when looking for players who "fit their system," which, from one persepctive, is somewhat considerate.

At 5/11/2007 2:43 AM, Blogger Antid Oto said...

It makes sense to me with my dear, infuriating Knicks, anyway. In the early to mid 90s a moment of promise and revival on the shoulders of tough, gritty downtowners in bad sweaters like John Starks. Then, in the 21st century, rich out-of-towners who didn't give a crap came in and ruined everything for the rest of us. And they just keep coming, and coming, even though we don't need another damn luxury high-rise or shoot-first tweener guard.

At 5/11/2007 2:51 AM, Blogger Colonel D. Williams (Ret.) said...

San Antonio is a boring city but its an ironic badge of honor for some of its citizens. In response to Austin's retarded rallying cry "Keep Austin Weird", San Antonio felt inclined to respond with "Keep San Antonio Lame".

I think the team personality=city equation is symbiotic. Exciting players wouldn't want to play in SA because it isn't exciting so the team finds players who will play here, who just so happen to be pliant Euros and hard scrabble Americans, which also just happens to be the type of players Pop is willing to put up with. For a guy from Slovenia, SA is the BIG CITY yet without all the traffic and violence.

Anyway, San Antonians go with the Spurs because its their home team and that's what you do. As for people who've never lived here, I'm not sure why they became fans, probably for all the wrong reasons.

The Spurs win and now they're becoming hated for it. So be it. Being a villain would be the best option available. In the kindest way possible I say screw all of you.

best regards,

The Colonel

At 5/11/2007 2:52 AM, Anonymous Osbourne Ruddock said...

The Warriors more than missed their chance at beating the Jazz..

Let's recap: Deron "Willy" Williams picks up his 1st of 2 quick fouls with 8 seconds into the game. A couple of minutes later he picks up his second and is subsequently sent to the bench to be backed up by none other than, Dee "I've received no significant minutes in the playoffs" Brown. With that said, he instantly puts forth a solid "Thundercat" effort...until he gets hurt...by his own teammate, Memo "Hot Nasty" Okur.

At this point, the game should be for the taking as the Jazz live and die by their caliber of PG. A SG/ PF tweener by the name of Andrei "Free Pass" Kirilenko is directed to man the point. Not only does he take over the game on the offensive end, but he becomes H. Lechter on the defensive end. Is there no end to the laughability of this situation?

The Warriors should have and could have won this game...alas they didn't.

At 5/11/2007 8:53 AM, Blogger emynd said...

OK, if you want to argue that geography affects personality, style, and general "affect," fine. But, it's not like this process is immediate--like as soon as Boozer stepped foot into the Salt Lake City airport, his whole demeanor changed. If you can't appreciate this Jazz team and how they handled both the Rockets and the Warriors so far strictly because of the Jazz's utterly hatable history, it's on you--not any of the Jazz players or how they play, or really even Jerry Sloan.

To me, the very fact that the Jazz come from this history (Stockton, Malone, Sloan, and drone) and this context (potentially racist, white-like-talcum, right-way-till-my-death-day) is not what prevents them from being a FD. Instead, it is this very history and context, juxtaposed with the way they currently play that makes this Jazz team so fucking awesome to me.

Now don't get me wrong, I want the Warriors to win this thing... bad. But I don't think we have to manufacture hatred for these Jazz simply because we all love the Warriors so much right now.


At 5/11/2007 9:04 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i don't think anyone's claiming there's an instant transformation. but say with boozer--what if he opted for utah in part because he felt at home there? like in cleveland, he'd always been an outcast etc. etc. not sure boozer is even a good example, but that's how it could be a "things suddenly felt right" scenario.

also worth taking into account: players are fairly young men, and all pretty deep in some arrested adolescence. not inconceivable that where they sign their big contract could influence their passage into adulthood.

At 5/11/2007 10:09 AM, Blogger emynd said...

OK… Let’s Occum’s Razor this shit. What’s more likely:

(a) players move to Utah--willfully or not--and eventually turn into stereotypical UTAH JAZZ players


(b) a generation of basketball fans that grew up watching Stockton, Malone, Sloan, Brian Russell, and a handful of other easily hate-able figures still harbor feelings of ill will towards the Jazz because of context, history, and geography.

I’m not saying the Jazz are somehow on the level of the Warriors or the Suns a couple years ago. But I just think it’s shitty that the Jazz are getting hated-upon because of this history and context as well as the fact that they’ve had to match up against two FD favs back-to-back in these play-offs. And then, instead of saying “Geography and history might have an affect on how I personally view the league” people want to project the blame outwards and say “Geography affects how these players play”? I mean, come on!


At 5/11/2007 10:14 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i don't see why it's either/or. i've been saying in my posts that i like the jazz, that sloan can't bring them down, etc. but i also don't think that the correlation between style and geography is a purely accidental one. i'm just trying to think about how it might work on an individual, in cases where can all agree our perception isn't to blame.

At 5/11/2007 11:06 AM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Vinnie: I like Chicago, but I don't know many people who would say it's "abundant in style". Unless by "style" one means "right angles". Chicago has nice architecture, but looking at it is kind of like looking at a pretty fossil.

At 5/11/2007 11:48 AM, Blogger Black Crow Screaming said...

Chicago does have... something. I'm not sure what. The overrated Carl Sandburg called it "hog butcher for the world." And he said the city was proud to be Hog Butcher. I know little of the place and so I will not pretend to know how much has changed since he wrote those words, or how true they ever were. Perhaps a native will enlighten us.

Geography and players, even teams. Hm. I do see the severity of Minnesota weather in KG, the freedom of the Bay Area in the Warriors. But I wonder if those are projections, full of coincidence and devoid of wide-sweeping meaning? I do think that it is inevitable that these young men are influenced by the place they play basketball. And that influence could lend credence to the Theory of Geography and Basketball.

Perhaps this was more true when players were less transient and their roots ran deeper with a single team. And in those bygone days, athletes weren't as separated from their communities as they are now, as the growth of celebrity has raised walls.

Moving along...

The Jazz and Warrior series has brought out interesting Free Darko reactions, I do believe. The Jazz are not soulless robots, as some view Sloan, and I sense that some folks no longer are as certain that rooting for the Warriors equals rooting for rightness.

The Suns... well, they are not what they once were. When they started Kurt Thomas, I thought about the price of victory. Is it worth the sacrifice of your identity?

Do all questions of joy and freedom and style and beauty and chaos and speed wither in the face of six words - "How do we win this game?"

At 5/11/2007 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Iverson & Philadelphia match up with the player to geography style phenomenon, but Iverson would have played that way no matter where he went. I think the same can be said of Garnett. San Antonio is boring because their franchise has coincidentally centered around two of the most boring superstars of their generations in David Robinson and Tim Duncan.

I think it's also important to point out the drastic difference in style that exists between the Lakers and Clippers, both LA teams.

At 5/11/2007 12:03 PM, Anonymous paper tiger said...

so i'm trying to come up with geography affecting individuals, and, as has been hinted at, i gotta think it's most evident in foreign players who come over, land in a city, and immediately embody it. like, "this is how they do, this is how i'll do." i see it in nocioni being a scrappy pile of chicago. nene's body preparing itself for hibernation. even dirk himself becoming a building made of mirrors. obviously, tough to know what these players were like before, but i imagine david blaine telling me there's no other explanation.

At 5/11/2007 1:01 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

I'm not sure how to word it precisely, but my point is more that you get all these paradigms of "Chicagoness"--city of big shoulders, Sinclair, Sandburg, etcetera--but to me that's not live style. It's more a historical observation. If that was Chicago then, what is Chicago now?

If the current style is a bunch of people clinging to the old style, that's not the same as the old style itself.

And I didn't mean that as a pun, but the fact that the local beer is called Old Style is a sad irony (but not a poignant one).

wv: ykdfi: you know deng flows infinitely.

At 5/11/2007 1:48 PM, Blogger Vinnie said...

I guess by Chicago's "style," I was using the word as people would typically use the word "character" or "personality" to describe a place. It's more a feeling than a style, more ethereal than aesthetic, but it's distinct.

And Old Style may buy all the radio spots here and put Wrigley Field ivy designs on their cans, but let's remember it's produced in Wisconsin. Goose Island is Chicago's real beer... and unlike Old Style, it's actually quite good.

At 5/11/2007 2:13 PM, Blogger Vinnie said...

Also, to add something relevant to this conversation (sorry for the Chicago side-talk)...

As someone who's been just as thrilled by every minute of the Golden State run so far, I really do find Utah a fascinating team, especially in light of these circumstances. During the GS-Dallas series, the background buzz had more of a "Can you believe this is happening?" sound. Now that GS has become THE story and Utah is just a middle-seeded team, they entered as an underdog of sorts--maybe not in expected outcome but for sure in sentiment.

Laid over this context, their makeup creates a hell of a dynamic. Here you have the young, wholly unimpressed, stud point guard handed the reins of the offense, a volatile flake with incredible skills (Kirelenko), a player with one of the most interesting skill sets in the game (Okuhr), and amid all the GS-induced chaos, you have the brilliantly boring Carlos Boozer dominating the entire proceedings. On top of it all, you have the aged Jerry Sloan, who in his earlier years, would have caved to impulse and seized control of his offense, curtailing its potency. This series, he looks so content watching his guys play exceptionally without need for his intervention.

I guess that's what draws me to Utah this series. They carry themselves as if they don't buy into the Golden State phenomenon in the least--almost as if they've seen it before, whereas Dallas (minus Howard and Stack) seemed mesmorized by what unfolded before them.

At 5/11/2007 2:39 PM, Anonymous padraig said...

emynd: Utah has an affect on the Jazz's style insomuch as one of the factors their front office must deal with in signing players is how they'll go over with the fan base and if they're suited to live in, well, such a boring place, surrounded by Mormons. For example I am absolutely sure the Jazz would never in 100000 years sign Stephen Jackson. Or Rasheed Wallace or whoever, you get the idea. On the flipside I'll bet SLC is not exactly a hugely popular option for many, if not all, FAs. I mean, if history had gone differently could anyone imagine Shaq or AI as the cornerstone of a Jazz franchise? Clearly not. Of course there are many other factors but in the end I think "geography/history affects my views" and "geography affects how the players play (I'd change that to which players are selected)" aren't mutually exclusive. I also think this is probably more true for the Jazz than any other team b/c of their unique geographical situation.

I can understand thinking the Jazz have gotten a raw FD deal having to put T-Mac out of his misery and now dealing with the Warriors. Personally I just dislike them b/c I find them, with the huge and obvious exception of Kirilenko and maybe Deron, to be numbingly boring despite 2 admittedly fabulous games running with the GSW. Sloan/Miller/Utah is just the icing on top.

While I still think there's no way the Jazz are going win at the Oracle and the series is destined to go at least 6, just in case I'm bracing myself for the hideous prospect of SA/Utah and the especially horrendous and inevitable Detroit/Cleveland.

At 5/11/2007 3:12 PM, Anonymous NW Narcissist said...

Re. the Jazz and style: when an active player, Jerry Sloan used to smoke butts in the locker room at halftime. How could he be other than he is, given that?

At 5/11/2007 4:50 PM, Anonymous eauhellzgnaw said...

padraig, scroll up to my 2:25 comment.

At 5/11/2007 4:57 PM, Anonymous padraig said...

eauhellzgnaw: my bad. I just skimmed the comments and fixated on that emynd/shoals exchange about geography and stuff. I actually think that Ben Wallace is a dude who could really thrive in Utah; hard worker, low profile, etc. I know he's had discipline problems but they've been the "divaesque power struggle with coach kind", not S-Jax/Truwarrior type craziness.

Anyway, yeah, I didn't mean to repeat what you said. sorry bout that. you know, great minds and all.

At 5/11/2007 6:52 PM, Anonymous eauhellzgnaw said...

No problem, I was just amazed that we even used the same players.

I didn't mean that Ben Wallace couldn't work in Utah. I meant that, despite the fact that he is hard-working, quiet, and humble, he is too damn "black" for Utah.

He is country, but country in a way that Malone wasn't.

Donyell Marshall had cornrows too, but Wallace is Wesley Snipes black. It seems silly, but things like skin tone matter.

Plus, one of my points was that Wallace would probably not be comfortable living in SLC and that is often as important as the game itself.


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