The Meat Kitchen
To follow up on yesterday's post and address what it became: I knew about the study, just wasn't sure on the connection to what I was saying. Then Maxwell Demon left a comment below that set off the proverbial light bulb:
Ultimately, I think the study is a waste of ink because it attempts to quantify a set of assumptions, and also because its focus is unrealistically narrow. Foul calls affect a team, not just a player. Even if you accept the assumptions that there are "black" and "white" players and refs, and that a "black" ref looks at all "black" players the same, the research ignores the race of the player who gets fouled, and that of the fouler's teammates.
Granted, my argument is only about technical fouls, but I'm assuming those factor into the paper's findings. Here's the issue: looking at all players the same is going to get you into trouble in those cases, since there can be different intent behind the same actions. Holding all black players to a more uniform standard out of anxiety is just an extension of that same problem. Really, the ideal option would be to try and gauge each player and each situation individually, since it's not like these are virgin interactions. Refs and players see each other on a regular basis. I'm less interested in what the study says than what it's posited solution would be; if it's some sort of effort to create consistency across these calls, I'd say that's just another incarnation of treating all black players the same.
Now, some funny stuff. I am beginning to worry that J.R. Smith might bring down these Nuggets. While Karl's initial comments seemed uncalled for, I also saw them as a grandstand-y way of trying to get Smith to wake the fuck up. The weird thing about J.R. is that he's full of himself, but on the court it's not like he wants to be the man. He just doesn't get that there's any rhyme, reason or hierarchy to professional play, and that there are times to recognize that some people are more important than others. Not than him—that's not the hang-up here—but just generally organization must be acknowledged.
Smith's role on that team is weird. He has star potential, if only he could stop falling in love with his own three. Then on the Nuggets, he's brought in to fill the long-range void. It's like hiring a crackhead to be your organic grocery store's wine buyer. On top of that, he's a free agent next summer and could command some money, so it's not in Karl's interest to alienate Smith or get all paternal psy-ops on him. This was a gamble, based on the assumption that the Spurs had already won and Smith hadn't made a huge difference anyway. Since then, Karl has came right out and sort of apologizef, and then embraced J.R.'s standing with the franchise, which is to say ISOLATED INCIDENT, MOTHERFUCKER. He knows that Smith is both hopelessly arrogant and hopelessly insecure, and was guessing that this affirmative blandishment would play the latter against the former.
Now, the whole team is salty, and I'm thinking it's partly because they think Karl picked a awful time to prove a point. There's the whole "don't throw a guy under the bus" code of the locker room, but it's also kind of defeatist and deaf the last fiery wails of battle. So there's Melo saying that Karl should've talked to his BFF in private, and then maybe wondering why the hell Karl made a big show of benching one of his better players.
Let's also not forget that a crazy up-tempo Nugget explosion could really use that 20ppg J.R. capable of—I've decided that, as Iverson declines, he really needs as many stars around him as possible. Or else he reverts back to that part of the Philly Iverson we don't talk about, which is waiting for his shot to start falling before he effectively gets his underlings involved. Not sure if that's a function of his game or how defenses can adjust to his periods of frost, but with Anthony (and ideally, J.R.) he can acknowledge that he's not a point guard. He's a guard with tremendous speed and passing skills, like the way T-Mac or Kobe can chalk up 8-10 assists without being particularly Nash-y. Fact it, AI is discriminated against because of his height. As is LeBron, who has a point guard inside of him whether or not he ever admits it.
I'll calm down now, because I know that my faith in J.R. Smith can border on embarrassing. And I know that saying "Iverson, Melo and Kenyon Martin could close rank around J.R. and we'd have the Sonics all over again" is too dismal a worry for words to convey. Here's an anecdote that always makes me smile: when I was on press row for that Nuggets/Rockets game, no one reacted to anything. Until J.R. Smith had a contact-less pick and roll run around him on defense (several loud groans and noticeable eye-rolls) and then dunked over the whole Rockets squad (everyone giggled).
Exhale. If you've gotten this far, now it's time for me to send you to Agent Steinz's opus on what the Wizards' locker room really meant. We've had some conversation about whether the Bog has helped invent the market for a whole new kind of NBA content, one that teams recognize——or whether he was just doing the Wizards justice and this was what came out. This post made me ask him if, on some level, what we saw of the Wizards this season made their season a success despite the competitive disappointments. They weren't going to win a championship, so wasn't nine month's worth of swag, in-jokes, and now Antawn Jamison's dub made out of electric tape (I told you, go read it!) an acceptable substitute?
Just saw a commercial for tonight's games and got chills.