Test Run: FD Tourism Brigade Enacted

I decided to clear my head yesterday with a trip to Port Arthur. Thanks to the commenter who corrected me on the name for Gulf Coast Texas; that the most fucked-up part of Texas was the original "Golden Triangle" only adds to its bleak appeal. There was some faint pretense of trying to find records and nick-nacks, but we got a late start and didn't do much of either. We did, however, drive all over the place. Noted: a cluster of young men comparing grills and Caprices outside a convenience stores. Oh, and then we passed a customizing place that had just finished installing three sets of Lambo doors.

If you want to accuse me of exoticizing, I don't care. I'm mildly obsessed with rural-urban versus urban-rural. One is areas of a city that somehow lapse into country; the other is its opposite: a town that takes on some of the telltale features of the inner city. It seems that Port Arthur is the rare community transitioning from one to the other. When oil and fishing thrived, it was the former. The more hollowed-out the place becomes, there, the more it tends toward the latter.

The downtown areas is unreal: vacant lots, a college campus, a bunch of palm trees, and a strip of businesses still inhabiting buildings from the thirties. In fact, there's an old-timey, small-town photo studio with the signage intact. As far as I can tell, most of said businesses were nightclubs, and then at the end of the block is a giant, scraggly wooden structure with all the windows boarded up. . . and the banner you see up top.

A little bit of internet research ruined all my fun. Jackson does indeed fund a private school, it's currently going on at another location, and one day it will take over the site pictured above. But you can imagine my glee when, next to a row of clubs, a revival starting up, and all sorts of mixed-up signifiers of history and neglect, I beheld this proclamation. For something that might or might not have been real, or realized, except as a flimsy claim to the crappiest building around.

And then, as if on cue, a chromed-out black Bentley drove by. Or at least the rare Chrysler that dared you to disagree with its legitimacy.

Oh, and I love you all in the comments section, but come on. Trading Nash makes negative sense. Marion and Amare would be All-Stars without Nash, but with him are able to get it much easier. Kenyon Martin was a figment, but if you think Jefferson is "just a finisher," you watch New Jersey less than I do.

There's really only one pressing basketball question now: does relative lack of boring equal the same thing as relative presence of excitement? Because if not, I might start listening to these games on radio.

Also: over at Deadspin, Dr. LIC brings out his Jazz/Spurs preview. Expect my Pistons/Cavs joint tomorrow.


At 5/20/2007 6:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Were Steve's 2 MVPs and 3 playoff failures worth the obscene money PHX pays him? Every year his contract goes on, his knees shout more loudly.

At 5/20/2007 6:28 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

why don't you look at the phoenix salaries?

nash is the third-highest paid player ON HIS OWN TEAM this year. they have gone to the conference finals two of the last three years. he's been the mvp twice, and arguably could have been this season, too. not sure, but i think that's a pretty good basketball player. his salary is a relative bargain, even more so when others on his own team are making more. i can't even believe i'm responding to this.

At 5/20/2007 6:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah thats right. It's an anonymous commenter's fault they are paying Shawn Marion $15mil and probably won't retain him.

At 5/20/2007 6:35 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

assuming this is the same commenter, you didn't even mention marion in the first comment. yes, marion is probabl y paid too much. that's different than nash being paid too much.

At 5/20/2007 6:40 PM, Anonymous Sourounis said...

Shoals i think something is wrong with the last link. It doesn't direct to Deadspin

At 5/20/2007 6:44 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

link fixed.

At 5/20/2007 7:04 PM, Blogger Colonel D. Williams (Ret.) said...

This post suggests a sort of Joseph Campbell/Wim Wenders type of inner/outer journey. I can hear the Ry Cooder slide guitar already...

At 5/20/2007 7:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly I realize any player who doesn't win a championship is overpayed:

9mil on Diaw...THRU 2011/12.
8mil on Thomas next year.
4mil on Banks...THRU 2010/11.
And 27mil overpayed on the Marion/Nash combo thru 08-09.

This isn't a damnation of Nash the player, but his contract/age/ring output are frustrating. If the PHX organization had handled this a little better, not only would they have the rings, and they could be well-set as a dynasty. Like a rape victim's worst nightmare, PHX is hearing the words, "THIS IS HAPPENING." Disintegration.

I thought after the Suns first season with Nash, "If he doesn't get a ring in the next 2-3 years, this is gonna be ugly." Well now he absolutely HAS to win a ring next year (which also may be Dirk's first must-win season).

Will he finish the most accomplished, beloved player to never win a title? Who would that even be now?

At 5/20/2007 8:11 PM, Anonymous berts said...

FD should stop collaborating with Deadspin. Firstly, everything about Gawker is evil. Secondly, I think Deadspin is the Man Show of the blogosphere, or whatever lowbrow and offensive equivalent you can think of. A few weeks ago they posted pictures of the Georgia quarterback drunkenly lying with his backup--I know the kid from high school, a perfectly nice and humble guy, and at 19, not a fair target for a bunch of fratty homophobic commenters. And their comments board! It's like the worst stand-up comedy club you've ever been to; the fact that they force you to "audition" for the right to make sleazy jokes and make fun of gays and spout shitty one-liners at the expense of teenagers or whatever else Deadspin is so-hiply and ironically skewering. Fuck them. FreeDarko is better than that.

At 5/20/2007 8:19 PM, Anonymous dsmIV said...

personally, i prefer not to reduce the whole of a player's value to a piece of jewelry, but i wouldn't expect someone who fantasizes the nightmare of a rape victim to understand any real measure of human worth.

in case you haven't noticed, if all you care about is winning there are a lot of more appropriate places to talk about it. i'm sure on fanhouse you wouldn't even have to post anonymously.

At 5/20/2007 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're a real asshole for assuming someone has to fantasize.

At 5/20/2007 8:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mandrill is the most FD primate.

At 5/20/2007 9:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can the Suns be so top-loaded with talent, yet so shallow?

Marion is being overpayed for his production. But then again, if you had a guy capable of 25pts, 12rebs, 2asts, 2stls, 2blks on a nightly basis, and you're paying him $15,000,000 and he's NOT the focus of your team, the onus is on YOU (management) to work it out.

Oh BTW, you have the best passer of his generation on the same team. And zero championships. But God, what style you have! Sooo FD, so charming.

MEGA-FAIL, all-around.

At 5/20/2007 10:10 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

Dearest Anon:

Do you also complain to the sky by accusing it of being blue?

wv: djdpt--didja poot?

At 5/20/2007 10:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think the comments on deadspin are worse than the ones on fanhouse. i'd rather endure loud, stupid passion than unfunny, pretentious nihilism. good preview though

At 5/20/2007 10:33 PM, Anonymous Geraldo said...

Alright I wanna apologize for my choice of words in my comments on the previous post. I didn't mean to denigrate Marion, Amare and to a lesser extent Jefferson by referring to them simply as "finishers". They are obviously more multifaceted than that and I do realize that they are not the interchangable parts that I may have hinted at. It was 4:30 in the morning and I was too fucked up to sleep, so I decided to rant about point guards to pass some time. I guess you could say that Nash/Kidd's sumblime pg skills had me trippin. Or maybe it was just acid.

Aaanyways, I still do think that the players I mentioned are indeed offensively limited. I don't want to get into Marion or Stoudemire anymore because that's all been said. I am from Jerz, however, and watch Nets games far more often than I care to (and probably more often than Shoals does)because their ticket prices are nearly half of what it costs to see my embarrassing Knicks and every one of their games is on TV. Richard Jefferson, while not strictly a finisher, is not nearly the player his reputation would have you believe. He's a marginal shooter, he fades in the clutch, and is one bad knee injury away from approaching KMart-like irrelevance. That guy benefits from playing with Jason Kidd in ways that won't be fully be comprehended until Kidd is gone, but when that day does come, dude will be exposed.

WV: iouusbb - rain check for computer peripherals at Scarface's PC Shack

At 5/21/2007 2:54 AM, Blogger EL MIZ said...

the onus is on sarver and colangelo or whoever it was selling the suns' draft picks the last few years. way to go guys, instead of having luol deng and rajon rondo, you got marcus banks signed until 2011. good on ya!

blaming steve nash? is this serious? were you fellas watching the games?

totally bizarre.

ps: anonymous commentators are cowards. that should be banned.

At 5/21/2007 4:04 AM, Anonymous Humberdt said...

To anon re: Deadspin

"nihilism" is a great descriptor of the deadspin bunch, particularly its commenters--it feels to me like a vortex of emptiness and cynicism, swirling and cresting into some onslaught of verbal brutality. seeing freedarko on deadspin is like seeing sunlight in the void.

At 5/21/2007 10:14 AM, Anonymous db said...

I can appreciate that FD doesn't go for the Spurs aesthetically, but I think the problem lies with Manu Ginobli. You might disrespect his flopping, gawky, sympathy-from-the-female-fan game, but "Finley/Ginobili and Giricek/Kirilenko is a wash" only in DLIC's imagination. Ak-47 is one of my favourites, but crunch time player he isn't, whereas Ginobli has taken over important stretches of playoff games for the last few seasons. Finley, who I thought was done, has somehow metamorphosed into a weird seasoned veteran capable of making big shots, while Giricek only looks good when there isn't any pressure on him.

Williams is a baller but again Bowen, however much we hate him, is capable of the cover there and everyone else just kinda seems shaky. In particular, Fisher's rep is way overrated from my POV. Spurs in 6.

At 5/21/2007 10:39 AM, Blogger APN said...

In an attempt to actually address the content/scope/topic presented in this post, let me first start by saying that Port Arthur is my hometown. I'm only a year younger than Mr. Jackson & we went to the same middle school where I watched him play his early basketball. I then got to watch him win a state championship with Lincoln High before his transfer to Oak Hill. He was a joy to see run up & down the court, playing above the level of the majority of his competition.

My comment upon our mutual hometown is this -- it is exactly as FD describes, only having gotten worse since my departure a decade ago. I attended that community college, I walked those streets, I drove by those then-as-now decrepit buildings. Both Jackson & myself grew up in a post-oil-boom Port Arthur, never experiencing it during its peak (though I have seen pictures of a town where those '30s era buildings looked beautiful & made for a lovely downtown). The rural-urban metamorphosis is sociologically compelling, unless you're actually living there. A decade away has afforded me the chance to view my origins with new eyes. I just need to find time to visit post-Rita Port Arthur; I haven't been back in awhile.

Thanks for a great read.


At 5/22/2007 2:38 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Man, I was away for a few days and the conversation I've been looking forward to having about Nash already happened. A bit late now but here's my thoughts on the whole thing: I don't blame Nash for any shortcomings of Amare, Marion or others; but I do blame D'Antoni and his coaches for making Nash so much the focus for leading to those players' shortcomings. Amare could develop a post game in the offseason, but I wonder if D'Antoni really wants him to.

The Suns have intelligently built that team to be exactly tailored to what Nash can do on the floor (is there a better center-PF combo to go with Nash than Amare and Marion?). The only problem is that it hasn't been winning any titles, so I think you've got to look at the system itself and question how valid it really is. Don't D'Antoni and the Suns management need to look at their team and say "catering to Nash's strengths isn't working, maybe we should try something else"? Even if they don't trade Nash, is it really wise to just swap out Marion or Amare for another similar piece and give it a go running the same thing next year? Either they need to focus on running a different system when Nash is out of the game (which will occur more and more frequently as he gets older) or they need to practice different half-court sets with Nash in the game.

If you watch Phoenix now what they do in the half court is really they just have Nash run around the perimeter, try to penetrate under the hoop, or drive into a group of people to draw their attention - and all of these scenarios end with Nash leaping in the air and then whipping a wild pass to someone on the perimeter (they either shoot it or swing it around to shoot it or give it back to Nash and they reset). This is not really an offense, and it relies far too much on Nash's brilliance (which can be checked, apparently, to some degree by Bruce Bowen and his scrappy/dirty style of defense). The Showtime Lakers had Magic's brilliance to rely on, but they generally only did so in the open court, settling down into more traditional half-court sets if the fast break didn't work.

The Suns should consider making someone else the focus of the offense in the half-court set, especially since Nash is such a dead-eye shooter. Dump the ball in to Amare (or KG or whomever the Suns might trade Amare for) and work inside-out. With Bell, Barbosa, Nash, Marion, Jones and Diaw out on the perimeter, that's a number of guys you could kick it out to who could either shoot or drive. Have Nash continue to run the fast break the way Phoenix does, but if the break isn't there, set up your offense. It's proven and it just seems smarter.


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