5.28.2007

Sucky Effulgence



I'm going to be on semi-FD leave this week. Look for a couple of guest posts and links to the Longforms I'll be doing between now and then.

However, I would be a knave if I didn't pause from my life to mention LeBron. That performance last night was what we'd been waiting for, what he couldn't do against Detroit last season, and why people like me still swear by his talent. What makes LeBron such an earth-stopper is that we expect nothing less than a ready-made string of MOMENTS. A LeBron highlight reel isn't isolated instances, but a summation of well-rounded dominance. For LeBron, big plays aren't the peak of his excellence; they're its bedrock, the basic units from which all conclusions follow. He doesn't rattle off occasional flash, he makes extraordinary basketball plays out of habit. Like "all he catches is touchdowns" on a massive scale.

At the same time, that game three damns even further his '07 playoffs showings up to this point. That was full-fledged LeBron, not a man playing past his limitations or shredding his own likeness. Jaw-dropping, mind-expanding feats are his meat and potatoes, his fundamentals, and without them he's only half-there. Or, more grimly, he's got no version of himself that relies on efficiency or effectiveness above all else. If LeBron isn't astounding, he's lost. Likewise, if we aren't astounded by him, we have every reason to question what's going on. It is indeed a problematic, maybe even fatal, merger of style and substance—one that can pay monstrous dividends for everyone gathered around the NBA's frothy campfire, or threaten to blot out an entire playoffs with its shade.

49 Comments:

At 5/28/2007 2:21 PM, Anonymous Freddie said...

As a lot of people have said before me, I often can't get past the tension between Lebron's undeniable basketball genius, and the enormous industry (not just in the corporate sense) devoted to trumpeting that genius. It's like reading a positive review of a movie you expect to like, going to the movie, seeing that it has all the things you had hoped it would have, and still feeling disappointed.

You can't take anything away from that performance last night. Even robot basketball can be beautiful. (I'm ready to love him.)

 
At 5/28/2007 2:23 PM, Anonymous JTExperience said...

Mostly it is:
LeBron, please, just try. When you actually give a fuck, great things happen.

 
At 5/28/2007 2:23 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

last night was like going to see a movie because it's by X director and got good reviews, and coming out reminded why you like said director in the first place.

 
At 5/28/2007 2:45 PM, Anonymous Sean said...

Hopefully last night brought an end to the season-long reign of Bizarro LeBron.

 
At 5/28/2007 2:50 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

I'm still marveling that he pulled some MJ-dribbling-through-the-whole-Knicks-defense-and-throwing-down-on-Ewing shit. I don't think Maxiell made it back into the game after that play.

It's too bad there weren't several years of intense playoff rivalry as backdrop for it. It should become legend, but will probably just kind of disappear in the overall imminence of that fourth quarter.

 
At 5/28/2007 2:52 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

imminence or immanence?

 
At 5/28/2007 3:15 PM, Anonymous Sean said...

Is anyone else amazed by how well LBJ sees the floor? There were several plays last night in which he was able to find an open man on the other side of the court while being well-defended. It almost seems like he's throwing the ball away when he makes some of these passes, but more often than not it's to an open player (whether said player makes the shot or not is an entirely different issue).

 
At 5/28/2007 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thoughts on Kobe's comments? Personally, I've always felt like The Logo was a little overrated (Really? Signing Shaq in his prime is a good idea?), but its pretty clear that this Lakers team as currently constructed isn't a legit threat at the title for the foreseeable future. And where could Kobe end up? Dallas? Miami? A new expansion team in Vegas entirely owned and operated by the Mamba himself?

 
At 5/28/2007 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the people saying Lebron isn't trying and that he should be playing better need to relax. He played well last night because he hit some tough shots and got good dibble penetration. As a few people have mentioned before Lebron doesn't have a go to move that he can use when nothing else is working and he's not getting the calls that a D-Wade would get just for going to the basket. Lebron could have easily missed a lot of his shots last night and we're talking about a completely different game. Thats why I don't think he's going to be able to play like this all series as much as I want to see a better finals matchup than Detroit / San Antonio.

 
At 5/28/2007 4:54 PM, Blogger Ben Q. Rock said...

I guess the potential for a LeBron takeover should be enough to persuade me to watch the next game, right?

 
At 5/28/2007 6:03 PM, Anonymous Conley&Roy&Martell&Aldridge&Oden said...

On an individual performance level, it was beyond remarkable. But at the same time, i am sick of the team that is down 2-0 wins pivotal game at home bullshit. The media latches on to all that "We have a series now" shit when really, it'd be newsworthy if they DIDN'T win. It is much tougher to win a series leveling game 4, or get one on the road, than it is to climb back to win Game 3 when your fans are desperately behind you. Basically, I'm waiting til Game 4 to see what happens.

Still was a bad ass performance though.

 
At 5/28/2007 6:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

eminence

 
At 5/28/2007 7:44 PM, Anonymous Daniel said...

Shibboleth

 
At 5/28/2007 9:50 PM, Blogger nerditry said...

Should it feel bad or at leasy shiesty that I know in my heart that last night's performance wasn't anywhere near the zenith of current LeBron's ability?

I sit as someone who likes to watch the entire game as it happens and often lose track of what's going on because I'm not focused on the ball. In this, I know that LeBron is severely hampered by his surrounding cast and his ability to elevate them is like the Matrix in reverse.

Until he feels as confident in one of his teammates as he does himself, they'll top out as the '90 Bulls without an emerging Pippen. Get him a teammate that is good with the potential to be great at a specific position and the Cavs will soar.

 
At 5/28/2007 11:13 PM, Blogger jaz said...

well put. he's probably tired of hearing that he's the best. makes it difficult to step up and prove yourself. its different for him he has to step up so as not to disprove others.

 
At 5/29/2007 12:10 AM, Anonymous eauhellzgnaw said...

During the game, all I could think about was how tragic it is for fans of great basketball that Lebron isn't playing with Boozer. I honestly can't name a player in the league who I'd rather see Lebron play (and grow) with. That the Hughes has recerted to his old garbage self hurts, but it doesn't even compare.

 
At 5/29/2007 12:14 AM, Anonymous spider said...

Does anyone have a canonical narrative of what actually went down between Boozer and Gordon Gund? Did they have a handshake agreement and did Boozer break it, yes or no?

 
At 5/29/2007 12:20 AM, Anonymous Sean said...

Deron Williams = ?

 
At 5/29/2007 12:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a canonical narrative of what actually went down between Boozer and Gordon Gund? Did they have a handshake agreement and did Boozer break it, yes or no?

The Cavs and Boozer came to a verbal agreement to sign him to a new contract extension (he was a 2nd round pick, and the Cavs were going to give him decent money). In order to do the deal, the Cavs agreed to let him out of his rookie deal in order that they could sign him to a new longer and more lucrative contract.

He agreed to this in principle (otherwise, they wouldn't have released him.....).

The Jazz then came in and (due to salary cap numbers) were able to offer him more money.

He took it.

Since he'd only played for the Cavs for two years at the time, the Cavs couldn't use the "Larry Bird Rule" to break the cap to match Utah's offer.

The rest, as they say, is history.

 
At 5/29/2007 1:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deron Williams = ? = Walt Frazier?

 
At 5/29/2007 1:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lebron as Cris Carter on "a massive scale" is an amazing analogy that probably doesn't make sense.

But I like it.

 
At 5/29/2007 4:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He agreed to this in principle (otherwise, they wouldn't have released him.....)"

You pulled that completely out of your ass... The details of the whole situation never came out and Boozer denies he had any kind of deal with the Cavs.

 
At 5/29/2007 4:46 AM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

You're right, the exact story never came out. But that was what was reported at the time. And what other reason would the Cavs have had to release a productive second-rounder who was making little money at the time?

 
At 5/29/2007 9:25 AM, Anonymous Will. I. AM said...

So while I enjoyed the hell out of me some high-flyin-sick-passin-mad-dunkin LBJ on Sunday, how the holy hell does he or the Cavs stand even an iota of an opportunity to beat DEE-troit when (not if) Big Shot and Rip City get their shots back? Not to mention Tayshaun "I-have-great-length-but-can't-score-on-Daniel-Gibson -in-the-post" Prince, who's shooting 3 for 100 so far?
The only thing that will ultimately beat Detroit is the same thing that beat them back in 2005 - loss of the jumper. When it becomes harder to find then Michael Vick at a PETA rally, something bad will happen. Then, it doesn't matter who the bad boys' redux is playing from the West - shit, they could be ballin' against Grand River Rapids Community College practice squad and get beat, if the only one scoring is Sheed and C-Webb goes for 10, all in the first quarter.

Final note - anyone know what happened to the Baby-eating monster, aka J-Max aka They call him MISTER Maxiel, in game 3? I blinked and he was gone, - kinda like the rumors of a sober Lindsay Lohan.

PS - Can everyone and their moms please step off of Joe D for being a "front office genius?" Anyone who can screw up the fundamental awesomeness that is a #3 pick in one of the best drafts of the last decade (natch 20 years) does not get a free pass because he selected the mighty-bean-pole and Mr. Eats Babies. This was the #3 PICK! And don't forget the revolving door for coaches and the youngsters who are great "in practice" but don't sniff the tail end of garbage time, OR the signing of Nazr Mohammed, which was a move straight out of Zeke's "GMs who hate cap space" book (to be printed with a new forward by Scott "How is Isaiah 'MF' Thoams better then me?" Layden.)

 
At 5/29/2007 10:16 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

actually, it was the #2 pick.

 
At 5/29/2007 10:18 AM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

It was a #2 pick.

But the point on jump shooting tells a larger story to me. The story is that for all this positionlessness and New Way of Being Good at basketball we talk about, you still can't win at a high level without outside shooting. And as much as it pains me, I'd say that the mantra of Shoot Threes Well and Draw Fouls has been proven this year, rather than falsified. (Note that there are several ways to accomplish this, and not all of them conform to all the various dogmas of Right Way basketball.)

Of course, that doesn't make Nellie's (or Sloan's) solutions any less exciting, but their accomplishments are finding new ways to overachieve--that's different than a new way to succeed. In other words, if Lebron can't find a Pippen, they could get a couple decent shooters for a similar price.

 
At 5/29/2007 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was absolutely a handshake agreement in place between Boozer and Gund. Boozer's move was so unprincipled that his agent quit. The agent said at the time that he didn't want to taint his future relationship with league owners by being associated with such an act.
Boozer stabbed a blind man in the back. Screw him.

/Angry Cavs fan.

 
At 5/29/2007 12:01 PM, Blogger moonsover said...

If there was an agreement between Boozer and the Cavs, how was it not illegal to begin with? If Boozer had honored such an agreement, wouldn't the Cavs have fallen under investigation?

Besides, with two injury laden seasons in a row, it seems like karma caught up pretty quickly with Boozer for whatever wrong he may have done. (Unless, the freak injuries were some kind of karmic reverse, doing Boozer a favor by setting him up with Deron Williams.)

Either way, Boozer was right to escape that career stifling situation. Silas didn't believe in Boozer's ability or support Carlos in his goals, telling him his job was to rebound, no plays would be run for him, and he would never be an All-Star. That was, of course, before Silas called him a cunt. Good for Carlos proving him wrong this year.

 
At 5/29/2007 12:08 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i've never been able to keep the details of the boozer scandal straight.. . i think i told silverbird once that the cavs wanted him to sign a one-year contract, and then a bigger one?

but any way it slices itself up, you can't feel sorry for the cavs. you know why? BECAUSE BOOZER WAS A SECOND ROUND PICK. if the cavs were so committed to him, they should have picked him in the first round and gotten him a decent contract. second-rounders have been cast aside and shit on by every team in the league, and don't owe anyone NOTHING.

i mean, fine, i guess boozer or arenas should be happy that someone put them on. but with the kind of game they (and michael redd) have displayed in the pros, it was just a matter of time before they stuck somewhere.

 
At 5/29/2007 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He agreed to this in principle (otherwise, they wouldn't have released him.....)"

You pulled that completely out of your ass... The details of the whole situation never came out and Boozer denies he had any kind of deal with the Cavs.


Use your head. With the shit-storm that followed, why would Boozer come out and say, "Yeah, I screwed them over." Of course he's going to deny it!

I don't know all of the semantics of the "deal" in terms of how many years, etc. (as it was never made public, though I think Shoals is right since the Cavs had enough cap room the following off-season to give Hughes a max deal AND keep Ilgauskas), but I can't imagine *any* front office--even one as bad as the Cavs' had been for most of the last decade--would just let a player like that walk without having some measure in place to keep him.

 
At 5/29/2007 2:26 PM, Blogger Aaron said...

Shoals, disagree with you on Boozer. Yes, he was a second round pick and yes, second round picks get a raw deal (though thinking about it economically, how screwed would NBA teams be cap-wise if they had to guarantee contracts to second round picks, too?). But what the Cavs were saying by releasing him was "Look, we're sorry you dropped to the second round, but we were glad to get you and we recognize that you're getting less than fair value, so we're going to short-circuit the system to try to reward you more fairly." Boozer took advantage of this attitude, which of course was not entirely altruistic, to get a better deal from someone else.

The mere fact that he was a second round pick with an shitty contract might mean that he has the right to stomp all over the team that gave him that contract, but the team was making an apparent good faith effort to rectify his shitty contract when they didn't have to, and he took advantage of them.

 
At 5/29/2007 3:21 PM, Anonymous Ceth said...

booz got 68 mil from utah. clev's offer was in the neighborhood of 40.

i shed no tears for a billionaire owner that saw an opportunity to lock up a young star long term well below his market value, which is exactly why gund agreed to let him out of his deal.

 
At 5/29/2007 3:49 PM, Blogger Nate said...

It was a dumb move on the Cavs part, because if they could have waited one more season (instead of letting him out of his deal like idiots) they would have owned his "Birds Rights" and had the opportunity to sign him for whatever amount over the cap the market called for. They were trying to be slick and sign him for under market...figuring he'd be more than happy to exchange getting a substantial raise now in exchange for taking less than what he could get a year later. All things considered Gund and Paxson messed up for letting him out of his deal early. They gambled and got burned. On the other hand, Boozer and his agents were asses for commiting to something and then backing out of it. Think of it this way: Boozer would have not gotten the opportunity to sign a long term deal that summer if the Cavs would not have let him out of his deal, and the Cavs only let him out of his deal because Boozer told them that he would sign there long term if they did. The Cavs messed up for trusting a player when there were teams with more money to offer him and Boozer messed up for going back on his word.

 
At 5/29/2007 3:51 PM, Blogger Sergio said...

Carlos Boozer gamed the system. At the same time, I do not blame him at all. You have to get yours.

Let's put it this way: The Cavs had a handshake agreement with Boozer NOT to take an extra 20 million dollars. How many of us can honestly claim we would stand by that contract, particularly if there was no enforcement mechanism besides the sullying of our own reputation?

Not to mention, at least he never had to play through the Mike Brown Era. That alone would be worth the price of my dignity.

 
At 5/29/2007 4:56 PM, Anonymous westney said...

The Cavs, in releasing Boozer from his contract under the assumption that he would immediately re-sign with them, completely thwarted the original intent of free agency. No competition, no bidding, no market value... it's a crock and good for him for recognizing it and getting himself paid. It's good for all players and all teams that it happened this way.

He's been getting killed for it ever since, but I think he probably would have stayed in Cleveland if the competing offers hadn't been so high.

 
At 5/29/2007 5:13 PM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

To get back to anon's comment about Kobe, the thing that gets me and that seems to be part and parcel of the Kobe Experience is this: is that something that you really want to bring up to the press?

I mean, that seems to me to be something that's best broached in a backroom situation, where he corners Buss and/or P-Jax and says "we need more help in the front office and I would like to bring back Jerry West". By going through the press, it plays into the prima donna aspects of Kobe, that not only does he think that he's bigger than the team (which he arguably is); he also feels like he has to remind people about this, which is probably due to his own insecurities.

 
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At 5/29/2007 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good on Kobe for bringing it up. He's not going to sit tight like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and other superstars. AI spoke up, and while it got him traded at least he's on a contending team that has a bright future. KG is going to be mired in mediocrity the rest of his career. Kobe doesn't want to go out like that.

 
At 5/29/2007 5:55 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Kobe probably shouldn't have brought that up to the press, even though he was evidently completely misquoted and never said the Lakers had to bring in Jerry West or trade him. If you check Kobe's website he says very clearly what he wants, which is just for the Lakers to build a contender, and it's his belief that Jerry West would be the best person to do that. I think the Lakers are in a real hole right now though, due mainly to off-season surgeries to Lamar and Kwame, and may be better served to stand pat for the summer, hope that those guys rehab OK and can prove next season that they're in good playing shape, and then maybe look to trade them mid-season.

By the way, to Anon 3:26 who said West was overrated for simply signing Shaq when he was 24, no offense, but making that statement just makes you look like you don't know what you're talking about. Look at what the Lakers actually had to do for weeks prior to that to offer and counter-offer enough to stay competitive with the Magic in the bidding war for Shaq, and look at how the Lakers also scored Kobe and Derek Fisher in the draft that same summer. But West's greatness as a GM goes back long before the summer of 96, to include a lot of the moves he made to keep the Showtime dynasty going in the 80's, as well as making the picks and trades to put the Lakers in a position to be attractive enough to Shaq in the summer of 96 (acquiring Vlade, drafting Eddie Jones in the lottery and Nick Van Exel with a 2nd round pick, etc). West hasn't been perfect by any means, but he did help preside over one dynasty and completely built another one. Trust me, his reputation is well-earned.

 
At 5/29/2007 6:15 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

Yams,

Can the Lakers really afford to waste another year of the best player in the NBA's prime by not making any moves? As currently constructed, I just don't see how this team does any better than 7th or 8th with a first-round exit. That seems like a shame. Or is your argument that they could get more when Kwame and Lamar are healthy? Because it seems to me like midseason trades usually happen for below market value anyway.

Thanks for going through West's history, by the way; I'd forgotten a lot of that stuff and probably undervalued his contribution to those teams.

 
At 5/29/2007 7:33 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Ty, yeah, my comment is that the Lakers probably won't get much in return for Odom or Kwame this summer due to their surgeries. Odom's trade value might not be too negatively effected since he played OK with the injury even before the surgery, and it's a fairly minor surgery he's had before. Kwame Brown, on the other hand, his status is not really known yet as they may need to reconstruct his ankle when they go in to clear out the bone spurs. If they do need to reconstruct it, then he most likely won't be ready for the start of the season, and I can't imagine a team is going to give up a valuable asset solely for his expiring contract if they aren't sure whether he can play or not.

Beyond those two, I don't really know who else the Lakers can trade. Bynum has a lot of trade value, but his salary is so small that he can't bring much back in return, and outside of Kobe, Odom and Kwame the Lakers don't have any other big contracts. Radmanovic is the only player the Lakers have signed for next year who's making more than $3 mil per year outside of those players. The Lakers could try to package Bynum with any of those guys or with a re-signed Chris Mihm (who hasn't played in about 16 months) or Luke Walton, but I wonder what they could really get for those guys. Kobe wants the Lakers to improve and make some big trades, but considering the health of a lot of the potential trade bait, the Lakers inability to do so is not simply because management doesn't want to.

 
At 5/29/2007 8:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason the cavs ripped up Boozer's contract was to avoid having to pay him the kind of money that the Jazz ended up paying him. If he left the Cavs he would have had to wait 3 years to receive his bird right with another team, and any other team would have only offered what the cavs where offering which was a mid level exception. The Cavs underestimated Boozers value and their little plan didn't pay off.
BTW the Jazz where the only people who thought that Boozer was worth that kind of money. No one expected a $70 Million contract for a second rounder with a decent season under his belt.

 
At 5/29/2007 9:17 PM, Blogger Nate said...

That's why I respect the Jazz front office. They have made some awesome moves since they lost Stockton and Malone. All that teams needs now is an athletic two guard and that team is in the conference finals for years to come. Too bad they can't get Nick Young...

 
At 5/29/2007 11:14 PM, Anonymous Sean said...

Man, that LeBron guy really sucks! He can't make big free throws near the end of a game or take over a decisive quarter. In fact, I bet he's the next Stromile Swift; all flash, no substance.

 
At 5/30/2007 12:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarcasm noted, Sean.

That said, what the hell is so different in the 4th quarters that allows LeBron and Co. to look like a basketball team again, when they can't even try to look respectable in the 3rd quarters?

 
At 5/30/2007 12:28 AM, Anonymous Sean said...

It is strange that LeBron and the Cavs dissapear in the third quarter. Maybe those David Blaine commercials play on the Jumbotron at halfime, and they just get mesmerized by their shittiness.

 
At 5/30/2007 2:40 AM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

Yams: In the end, I just don't think Kwame's trade value is so immense that his surgery will affect things too much. The primary draw there should be his contract. And, like you say, I think Lamar has value either way.

Nick Young on the Jazz would be pretty fun to watch, although he might be too Hollywood to fit in as well as he would somewhere else. Someone like Derrick Byars might be a good fit there, though.

 
At 5/30/2007 11:46 AM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

Immanently imminent eminence.

 
At 5/30/2007 1:37 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Ty, you may be right about Kwame to some extent, and that's really too bad for the Lakers because when he has been healthy for them he's looked pretty good, actually. It's just that he's so rarely been healthy. If the Lakers can actually make some moves this year to get a contending team around Kobe, it'll be nothing short of miraculous.

 

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