Words from the God
Introductory Note: If you're a dedicated reader of all things FreeDarko, you have probably seen the byline "Nathaniel Friedman" at a few media outlets like Deadspin, McSweeney's, and Slate--places that pay, basically, which is why you never see his name on this blog--and wondered what the deal was. The short version is that back in FD prehistory, we used to run into this weird old Jewish guy over where we would play pick-up hoops. He was always really intense and would talk your ear off about the NBA, past and present. We didn't pay much attention to him at first, but over time, we grew to realize that the cat had a unique take on things and really knew his shit. So, when we started FreeDarko, we thought we'd see if he was interested in writing something. Upon being told we couldn't pay him, he basically told us to fuck off. "Come back to me when you got some money for me," he said. And so we did. I bring this up now, because Ol' Friedman hasn't really been happy with how his stuff has been received. He asked me if he could write a little post on FD to clear the air, and after a frustrating hour-long phone conversation where I tried to teach him how to use Blogger, I just said fuck it and took dictation. Below is Friedman in his own words. I think I got everything right, but it was hard to hear him over all the barking dogs.
This is Nathaniel Friedman, honorary member of FreeDarko, speaking. I'm coming on here to say a thing or two about my Slate piece on the playoffs. I've been told by some other working journalists that this is what blogs are for, so here goes nothing.
First of all, the piece was not intended to assert that the playoffs are boring. This may come as a shock to some of Slate's readers, but headlines, especially on the front page, are not written by the author. I have no idea who put that on there, and it was total gimmicky bullshit. Not to mention unrelated to what they published under my name. Said piece contained most of my original ideas, but the final version resulted from a rapid-fire exchange of rewrites between myself and my editor. The same is also true for the Iverson article I did that sparked such outrage. Writing for pay involves a lot of compromises—especially when it's for a publication like Slate, which has a very strong identity to maintain. Maybe these pieces are not perfectly "FreeDarko" (whatever that means), but that criticism assumes that Slate gives a damn about "FreeDarko."
As for my argument, anyone who claims to watch every single playoff game all the way through, without any distraction, is full of shit. Either that or a sociopath. My point was simple: because of the nature of basketball, I find it useless to watch fractions of games, or do something else while one is on. That doesn't mean I won't do this, but it's far from my preferred mode of consumption. A shorter playoffs would allow me to really enjoy a maximum numbers of games, as would going easy on the first round. I'm being practical and honest about this as someone who cares deeply for the sport of basketball and wants to experience it as fully as possible. The Fray (?) commentors questioning my affinity for the game are hiding behind an internet lie or themselves unaware of what basketball's all about.
I'm not trying to accuse the FreeDarko community of anything, and I'm sure most of you read the piece as it was intended. But I did want to get this out in public instead of suffering through dignified silence.