5.22.2007

You Can't Pay the President



You should be reading MJD's new daily feature at the Haus, and not just because they pay me. I can safely say that, after a little more than a week, The Debriefing is already neck-in-neck with El Quickie as my first-stop shop of choice. And if you have the internet, you don't really need me to tell you that MJD can write.

Today, the subject is the lottery. The project: survey the teams in the passive hunt, and rank them according to how much we should want them to win. A pretty FD concept if I ever saw one, but I wanted to take issue with its fundamental premise. See, to me, Oden and Durant are the kind of players that make a team worth following. We hear all the time that this star may or may not instantly catapult a team into contention. From a spiritual standpoint, there are guys who can be affected by teams, and those who change the identity of that organization.



I would even go so far as to venture that this is the difference between a star, or star potential, and superstardom. I'm not saying that, say, Chris Bosh complements other players. Certainly, from a roster standpoint, he's the organizational hub. On a franchise-wide scale, however, he's nothing more than the Raptors' best piece. "Face of the franchise" is just a public relations truism unless you've got people talking about "the __________ era." If this is happening on a league-wide level, well, that's either mass hysteria or the ultimate form of corroboration.

The exception to this rule, of course, is the point guard. An elite point transforms the complexion of a team, from the style of play up through its record and success at the gate. However, this seems more like proof that point guards are the new centers, not that Chris Paul is bigger than Carmelo. A few years ago, teams were signing up every seven-footer in sight. Not because they thought they were finding exceptional talents, but because centers were thought to be a structural necessity. A decent one held down the function, and an above-average one was as valuable as a star guard. It's like that whole "big men win MVP's" thing—they aren't better, they have an unfair advantage built into the way the game works. God's truth, shooting guards and small forwards have all types of strikes against them.



Just something to keep in mind in a playoffs that saw Baron Davis ignite the universe, and now has Deron Williams looking like one of the last meaningful commodities gone down. Why Steve Nash is the new Tim Duncan, not the scrappy underdog up against big man hegemony. We're in a transitional period now, but mark my words: when Chris Paul should have gone first overall in 2005, there's some kind of undertow going on.

-To throw a wrench in my own machinery, here's the verbal highlights from Chad Ford's look at Oden's workout. What does it mean that this made me drool?

-I know someone's going to call me terrible for saying this, but fuck all this outrage over Vick. Like every single white NFL or MLB player hunts. While I get that dog-fighting is cruel and inhuman, it's not like the killing of animals for sport is unheard of in professional athletics. Oh, and dogs are the little blond girls of the pet kingdom. People need to stop playing favorites with species and comprehend that all creatures are indeed equals.

41 Comments:

At 5/22/2007 2:27 PM, Blogger Sergio said...

Remember that dunk Oden missed during the Georgetown game? My roommates and I all agreed that it was the single most impressive botched play in recent memory.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=i_oXlvSmp4o

Our immediate consensus: Oden is cheating humanity by going pro. Forget the NBA; he should be fighting crime in Gotham.

 
At 5/22/2007 2:52 PM, Anonymous padraig said...

the comment about Vick and how the whole thing relates to sports and the world at large was very on point. I would only add that just because other people also do messed up stuff doesn't mean that Vick, if he was fighting dogs and such, isn't also a total d-bag.

Sergio: That's exactly what I thought when I saw Oden saying that in addition to playing basketball he wants to "help the world" in his interview w/LZ Granderson. You'd presume he means through something lame and predictable like philanthropy but I prefer to envision him meaning that he plans to spend his free time between games thwarting the dastardly schemes of nefarious evildoers with Conley as his wisecracking sidekick. Anyway, it sounds a lot more intriguing than just dunking on Raef LaFrentz or whoever 714 times. Maybe he and Shaq could team up to form a crack team of crime fighting centers, kind of like the Vice Presidential Action Rangers but infinitely cooler.

 
At 5/22/2007 2:57 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

in his own way, oden seems just as young as durant. he giggles a lot and loses all poise at times. at least he did in the phoner they just aired on espn.

 
At 5/22/2007 2:59 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

Oden's new nickname: "The Deputy".

 
At 5/22/2007 3:20 PM, Anonymous NW Narcissist said...

Agreed that trophy-hunting, sportfishing, bullfighting etc. are no worse than dog-fighting. That said, it's a stretch to suggest (as I believe you are here?) that anyone who isn't a vegan might as well be fighting dogs, no?

Important to say that this is in no way Michael Vick-related in my opinion--no way for us to know what his involvement in any of that was. As you guys have rightly pointed out re. Kobe, there's nothing reliable on which to base a judgment. I might hate Kobe but only two people really know whether he's guilty of crimes. So with Vick, unless you trust the papers.

 
At 5/22/2007 3:28 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

That Oden article is pure PR. We all know that Greg Oden can remember the days when Lew Alcindor ruled the court. Nice try.

Does Greg Oden dream?

(Dreaming) Blub-blub-blub-blub... Snore... 60 percent field goal%... I love you Marie Antoinette... Oh, Marie, Hubba-Hubba... Hey you Og, this is my cave... Stay away from my mate... Og, I'll push you
in the tar pits... The Redcoats are coming... Oh, Big Bang, lifeless
planet... (chuckles)

Oden: (Still Dreaming) Must climb out of Primordial ooze... Use Oden's
fins as legs... Hope these gills turn into lungs soon... Did you hear Hendrix is Dead? Oddddeeen....

 
At 5/22/2007 3:34 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

sml gets good drugs, apparently.

i'm glad that nwn brought up bullfighting. if it came out that pau gasol was a matador during the offseason, that would get almost 100% favorable coverage, right?

 
At 5/22/2007 3:44 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Perhaps Portis thought the reporter said "Atomic Dog." http://cache.deadspin.com/sports/crazycrazyportis.jpg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuyS9M8T03A

 
At 5/22/2007 3:56 PM, Blogger Dolly said...

Re: Big men not being better players.

If being tall is an unfair advantage then so is having a great outside jump shot. Sure one can hone his shooting skills and cannot make himself grow taller, but you can’t take any schlub off the street (me for instance) and turn him into Larry Bird. No. Great shooters are born with the ability to a large extent.

 
At 5/22/2007 4:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope the Seattle Supersonics get number 1 or 2. I'd like to see Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis have a major stud on their team. Cause Ray deserves to start contending. He's smooth as hell to watch.

 
At 5/22/2007 4:44 PM, Blogger Matt said...

I agree with Simmons on that; if the Sonics got the 1 or 2 pick, just watch that dick Bennett try to move them then.

Also, Oden/Allen would be sweet as hell, and so would Durant/Rashard/Allen.

Seeing that Oden dunk sold me on the dude; I used to think he was just the next stiff, but yow.

 
At 5/22/2007 5:25 PM, Anonymous Freddie said...

Agreed that trophy-hunting, sportfishing, bullfighting etc. are no worse than dog-fighting. That said, it's a stretch to suggest (as I believe you are here?) that anyone who isn't a vegan might as well be fighting dogs, no?

Right. I agree with your argument re: hunting. But there's some lazy moral reasoning here. Simply because some animals are killed for human use doesn't mean that any and all moral responsibility to humans is forfeited. The fact that we kill and consume cows doesn't mean that I'm morally able to go to a barn and start torturing cows. Other bad deeds don't excuse new bad deeds.

 
At 5/22/2007 5:31 PM, Anonymous NW Narcissist said...

BRE:
Rereading Shoals, I can see that his objection is to the fact Vick gets extra shat on (like Qyntell, like Artest) for his association with a predominantly black form of animal abuse. Or maybe for being black, and being associated with animal abuse.
That doesn't make dog-fighting not bad, though. Not any more than loving the bullfighter makes bullfighting ok.
Freddie:that's exactly the distinction I was trying to draw.

 
At 5/22/2007 5:35 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i know that dog fighting is wrong, and that in some ways, it's worse than one-shot kills out on the plains and meadows. that said, the latter is still fucked-up and unncessary.

THAT SAID, the last line was deliberately silly-sounding. i eat meat for every meal but my best friend is a cat. i object to both hunting and dogfighting. and i think that the kind of people who hunt are the same ones who sentimentalize dogs and get outraged about dog-fighting. man's best friend MY ASS. they're animals like anything else.

 
At 5/22/2007 5:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woooooooo! Overlook a felony because I don't believe in a law. We can ALL be hypocrites!

 
At 5/22/2007 7:05 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Uh oh. To quote Detective Marcus Burnett, "This shit just got real."

 
At 5/22/2007 7:06 PM, Anonymous padraig said...

shoals, NWN: Oh, I definitely agree with you guys.

I actually am, horror of horrors, a vegan (even it's more b/c of force of habit than moral reasoning these days) and to me the intent behind an action is what's important. That's why I would say that dogfighting, bullfighting or sport hunting are on a level well beyond just eating meat. There's a ton of very complicated issues one could bring up but as I see it if you kill an animal for sustenance or some other functional need then fine; that's nature, more or less, even if humans make the playing field uneven. Dogfighting et al serve no purpose beyond entertainment and I guess gambling.

Years of exposure to the kind of painful irony that you're describing with people claiming an undeserved moral high ground over Vick has just numbed my resistance to the point where I just kind of shrug my shoulders and say "yeah, that's ####ed up". Not that you aren't right; I just think my head would explode if I got fired up over every instance of the "we're outraged for all the wrong reasons" kind of hypocrisy you're describing.

And just in case I didn't mean this comment to be at all self-righteous.

 
At 5/22/2007 7:15 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

conversating with mjd a little on this subject, have refined my take a little:

i guess that hunting, if it's done humanely, the meat is eaten, and there's enough (or too much) of the animal, isn't so terrible. i don't like the idea of it, but it's certainly not evil the way dogfighting is. however, i have trouble believing that everyone who hunts--especially athletes, who tend toward spoiledness and recklessness--strictly follow these rules at all times.

as soon as you start down that slippery slope, sure, dogfighting is the worst case scenario of animal abuse. but really, it's not like hunting--esp. that by athletes--is going to always hew to the straight and narrow.

unless white people are that inherently pure.

it's kind of like fistfights. i have no problem with fighting, but would never do it myself. however, i think that people who do so regularly are more likely than not going to at some point fuck someone up unnecessarily, hit their partner, whatever. that's just the way people work. or, rather, how most people do. i'm sure there are noble fistfighters and hunters, i just don't believe they're the rule.

not in the least because everyone trashed when engaging in both of these heroic pursuits.

 
At 5/22/2007 7:16 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

everyone is trashed, i mean.

 
At 5/22/2007 7:33 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

"Karl Malone did not poach that elk. If any elk was poached, that was Karl Malone's cousin."

 
At 5/22/2007 8:48 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

R. Foye sporting a timepiece fit for a space captain.

 
At 5/22/2007 8:49 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Everyone knows Karl Malone hunts little Mexican girls, not elk.

 
At 5/22/2007 8:57 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

And Roy with the smallest pocket square in history.... Somehow, Nique's karma was not enough. I feel bad for Durant.

wv: tvcorn--no kidding.

 
At 5/22/2007 9:02 PM, Blogger Ben Q. Rock said...

Oden and Roy = Shaq and Penny.

Also that sound you just heard was Bill Simmons blowing his brains out.

 
At 5/22/2007 9:06 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Roy is good, but he don't pass like Penny. The world would have been different if he and Grant Hill stayed healthy.

 
At 5/22/2007 9:07 PM, Blogger Sergio said...

And, in one fell swoop, Portland becomes a dynasty, Ray Allen finally gets some help, the Hawks somehow dodge a bullet and come out stronger for it, New York breathes a sigh of relief and Boston simply vanishes, swallowed by the sea.

Best three minutes in sports, bar none.

 
At 5/22/2007 9:10 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

It's nothing but bad news in Phoenix lately. First the suspensions, then they lose the series, then Amare skips his exit interview with the team and now Atlanta's gonna retain that pick they could have had.

 
At 5/22/2007 9:15 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

The 3 spot just sucks. On first glance, I told myself Horford must be third, then you think a little more, and you wonder if he'll be a standout guy, or just a plain starter type. Then you have a different dilemma with Yi. The Hawks are in the biggest position to screw up. And they won't be able to package the two lottery picks for value. If they don't make two good picks, it will be held against them big time.

I think Belinelli will be a steal.

 
At 5/22/2007 9:16 PM, Anonymous Oden&Roy&Aldridge&Jack&Miles said...

Between Portland, with Aldridge, Randolph, Roy and Oden, and Seattle (Lewis Allen and Durant) don't we automatically have the two most FreeDarko teams ever?? Just a thought

 
At 5/22/2007 9:38 PM, Anonymous Sourounis said...

So the Western Conf. just got Oden and Durant?!

Damn, it's going to be unfair next year.

 
At 5/22/2007 9:48 PM, Blogger T. said...

When does FreeDrafto start?

By the way - Yi is the Chinese Tyrus Thomas. Or the Chinese Jeff Foster.

Or somewhere between the two.

 
At 5/22/2007 9:59 PM, Anonymous Atta said...

I've never liked the Trailblazers but they do seem to have a good group young guys. Seattle got number 2 which is awesome. Hopefully they resign Rashard Lewis, put Durant at the PF and trade for Conley Junior somehow.

Sucks about Phoenix though, i really wanted to see them get number 4. Dang. They're about to blow up.


Also could these conference finals games be any more boring. Even the close game with Detroit-Cleveland was boring as hell, neither team reached 80 freaking points! We're about to witness 18 to 20 of the most boring games in the history of the NBA. Screw Stern for suspending Amare.

 
At 5/22/2007 10:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

KD is a good replacement for Rashard Lewis.

 
At 5/22/2007 10:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also: because this isn't being pointed out elsewhere:

How about those fines Danny Ainge got for improper contact?

HA-HA!

 
At 5/22/2007 10:34 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Does this draft help any team in the East become a legitimately good team next year (other than the Bulls who are already good)? This helps out a number of West teams, of course, meaning the West is going to be even more ridiculously loaded next year, but not the East. Will there be even one team in the West that will be legitimately bad next year?

Of all the West playoff teams, Dallas and Phoenix might make big moves (although you'd assume they'll still be good, regardless of what they do), and the Lakers may blow up their team, but considering all their injuries this year you'd assume they'll probably be around the same as they were this season. All the other playoff teams should be more or less the same. When you look at the teams that didn't make the playoffs, right off the bat Portland, Seattle and Memphis should be greatly improved (Memphis may trade Gasol and could pick poorly though, so they're a question mark). The Clippers and New Orleans both almost made the playoffs even though they had injuries, and now they've got lottery picks to boot. So that leaves... Minnesota?

Meanwhile in the East, Detroit, Miami and New Jersey get older; Washington will get their big guns back and Chicago should be improved with age and their pick. Other than that it might be status quo over there. The league is getting more and more out of balance.

 
At 5/22/2007 10:44 PM, Anonymous Daniel said...

sonics! sonics! sonics! sonics! sonics! sonics! sonics! sonics! sonics! sonics! sonics! sonics! sonics! sonics! sonics! sonics!

I am happy.

Ohhhhhhhhh lovely, lovely basketball game. You are so lovely.

 
At 5/22/2007 10:50 PM, Blogger Nate said...

Daniel, I hate to burst your bubble, but I honestly don't think either Durant or Oden will end up in Seattle. With your ownership/arena situation, no agent in his right mind is going to allow their one of kind prospect to go to that mess. You guys are the Vancouver Grizzlies of the NBA right now. Don't be surprised if Seattle is forced to move that pick.

 
At 5/22/2007 10:54 PM, Blogger The Reactionary said...

As a new reader, I'm wondering what is FD's take on Ainge / McHale / Bird and the wide swathe of destruction they are leaving in the NBA? Is it cosmic retribution for all the winning the Celtics have had? I would really like to think so.

 
At 5/22/2007 11:08 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

Seattle fans should obviously be happy about their lottery situation, but I see them (assuming Nate's wrong and he doesn't force a trade) being the exact kind of group that wouldn't realize the supreme awesomeness of having Durant, Allen, and Lewis together. I see Seattle thinking that Durant is a reason not to resign Lewis, as he will likely end up a better, cheaper (for the next few years) version of the same player. Seattle will be better, for sure, but Ray's not getting younger. I don't see them becoming a force unless they get a clue and embrace the offensive wonderland they've lucked into.

Portland, on the other hand, just became reason enough for me to get League Pass next year. Here's hoping they move Randolph for a competent wing.

 
At 5/22/2007 11:17 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

I'm having visions of Durant regressing in Seattle's three-happy offense and not developing into the silky inside force he should become.

That being said, I think Seattle (out of the top 3 selections) will have the best chance of cracking the playoffs.

 
At 5/23/2007 2:53 AM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

Rereading my last post here, what I wrote suggests that I think Seattle fans wouldn't realize the greatness of Allen, Durant, and Lewis. I meant that the management wouldn't recognize it. Apologies.

 

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