FD Guest Lectures: 'I Black Out Sometimes'
So last week, I was supposed to be on leave from FreeDarko. Nothing would happen around the league, and it would be the perfect time for Tom Ziller to deliver an epic sermon on Bonzi's existence. Well, something did happen, several things, actually, and Tom's creation was sent spinning off into limbo. So let's start this Monday afternoon right, with the kind of post FreeDarko is really all about. Down with the Finals, LeBron, and the future of Lakers, and up with the profoundly trivial/trivially profound.
Also, the new Longform is up. The best one yet.
Last spring, Dr. LIC pondered Bonzi's anti-Spurs manifestation and asked, "Is there a truth to be told?"
Heck yes there's truth. But the brilliance of Bonzi Wells—and hell, the NBA—is that the truth we thought we knew was five years and a yardstick off reality. There's no truth in historical recalculations or matchup analyses when a spectacle of a mass like Bonzi goes 23 and 12 from the two-guard on the SPURS of all teams. The truth: Bonzi Wells needs serious drama to function as a basketball player... and that drama is the only thing that makes him great.
We all remember Portland. Bonzi wasn't a bad-ass until he and Sheed were co-captains. He was a strong-armed player, a decent cog at worst and at most. But he didn't get to "damn, this guy is really fucking good" status until the lights went out on Portland's image. Like a nefarious Megatron, Bonzi absorbed the negative energy around him and turned it into hardcourt genius.
In Portland, Bonzi was riding high off all the material around him, drunk on the ruin in his presence. Without Sheed on the loading dock or Mighty Mouse hotboxing, Bonzi is average. With all that 'Jailblazer' nonsense, he becomes a star player, an insatiable beast. Unfortunately, the fan got too fecal for Paul Allen, there was too much lifeblood around, and Bonzi experimented some very well-documented forays into unconsciousness...
...which got dude shipped straight to his Hell, Memphis. There was absolutely nothing to feed off there—just boring-ass consistency, no drama, no emotion. Add in that Bonzi's worst place is when he's not on the court, and Hubie/Fratello limit minutes like an oncologist at the tanning salon.
Fast-forward to Sacramento 2005. The duo that resuscitated all images—Geoff Petrie and Rick Adelman, hero renaissancers of Webber, Williams, Christie—took a gamble on Bad Bonzi. Petrie inserted him into a near-silent locker room—Reef chillin' on the musalla, Francisco Garcia singing "My Heart Will Go On," Brian Skinner shooting dice/boars with Brad Miller... and Bonzi was average. He hit some game-winners, grabbed lots of rebounds, shot like crap, didn't even pretend to defend. The team was losing for the first time in a long time and the overall mood was just nothingness, a vacuum. The team was on the rails to a purgatory of no intrigue. For going on three seasons, Bonzi was in pain, crumbling under the weight of a drama-less existence.
At this point, Bonzi had learned to create fire himself. Peja was out with a strained pinky. Bonzi was playing with a mangled digit, possibly fractured. Sactown fans were sick of the softie image the Kings had, and severely pulled for Bonzi in the internal battle. We wanted a roughneck for a change. Without that situation, Peja-for-Artest doesn't happen. The Maloofs drove that decision, and the Peja-Bonzi blowup gave the playboys the PR ammo/cover they needed to pull it off.
We all know what happened next.
The sheer potential for meltdown hovering over Ron gave Bonzi new life. Negativity surrounded the team, even as the wins started coming. Boos in every road arena, vulturing media waiting for the first minor misstep for Ron or the first sign of corruption at the hands on Bonzi. Everyone in the country, it seemed, was racing to declare the melding of these two bad seeds a lump of C4 and a spark. For the first time since Portland, Bonzi could feed. And feed he did, destroying Bruce Bowen, Manu Ginobili, Robert Horry... whoever stepped in. If Mike Bibby didn't go shrieking violet and Brad Miller didn't miss his flight to the playoffs, we could be looking at Bonzi Wells, Finals MVP.
That's why Bonzi failed in Memphis, and that's why Bonzi failed in Houston. I know Bob Sura is hard-as-hell and all, but there's just not enough food for Bonzi down in Texas. And the moment dude steps off the floor for a week, it's over, BasketBonzi is flat-lined. Jeff Van Gundy nailed the coffin shut when he sent Wells home to clean himself up in training camp.
Bonziball can be saved, and he could help any number of teams win rings next year. It won't be the Rox—this Rick Adelman as Jesus bull-pucky proves even Bonzi doesn't know what makes himself tick. Petrie doesn't eat his pride, so forget about Ron-Bon-Zilla Part II.
Kobe would LOVE playing with Bonzi, and the new drama in L.A. could provide ample sustenance. Dallas could use a battering ram to concuss those who run through. He'd be a fine foil alongside The King and Agent Zero, or an enforcer for Wade and Nash. But the tension in those towns just isn't strong enough to keep Bonzi's mind alert. Dude needs Ruben Patterson's crushed eye socket, not trade demands. Simple bad chemistry isn't going send him into the necessary suspended consciousness.
Only one destination can do the trick. Free Draco and cue the Death-Eaters.