6.01.2007

Silence Needs Its Authors



Allow me to set the scene for you. I am still in Oklahoma. Slightly less homicidal after a bang-up record day, but still wish I were stranded in an abandoned boxcar on an island made of chipped teeth. As the fourth quarter is set to begin, I send out an email effectively ending FreeDarko, at least for the time being. I'm tired, this season let me down big-time (seeing the LeBron's only brings me wist), and I've never considered blogging the heart and soul of my creative hustle.

And then, it happens. You may think that god sent this game to save the playoffs, or the NBA, or the networks. But on the seriously flat and total, He did it for me. For us. For the will to recover the future that has only now been validated in its infinite not-yet-being.

There's really not much to say after this kind of basketball ultra-event, and that's for the best. This is why we do all the talking--in hopes of getting to stand at the foot of this sort of divine emulsion. All the more so with FreeDarko, which has from day one idolized potential exactly because of its limitless possibility. With this James moment, we get the best of both worlds. It's proof that our dreams and projections have not been misplaced, and yet augurs an enture new vista of ramped-up ambition. Get out that Aristotle: this is that second stage, where the bird has the wings but knows not yet how to use them.



To me, the most stirring non-Gilbert snapshots from the '06 'Offs were LeBron's gamewinner and Kobe's gamewinner. Yet in retrospect, there was way too much room to nit-pick James's shot, and Kobe's was all too easily effaced by his burdensome history (and a game seven that brough out all the demons in droves). Tonight's LeBron reign even had its own mini, greatly improved version of the versus Wizards drive. I'd say that knifing through the entire Detroit defense for a wide-open lay-up, completely contortion-free at the end, counts as irrevocable proof that he can't be touched, he can't be seen, he can only be felt reverberating off the rafters.

I stand before you more convinced than ever that the league can once again foster greatness. That the stars can come home to roost. That Kobe will yet find his redemption, McGrady will hit the three that sends the Rockets into round two, Melo and AI will execute a perfect two-mean weave while fixing their braids, and Amare will one day block his own dunk and get credit for both acts. What LeBron did tonight was unlock all that we have strived for, and remind me why I've been piling up all these syllables for almost three seasons now.




It was so that, the more frequently these things do happen, the less I will need to speak. It's not time yet, and when LeBron has fulfilled the prophecy there will be other soldiers of light to outfit with symbolism and rhetoric. Their action signals the end to our din of contemplative inaction; a game like that was meant to be felt, not picked apart.

LeBron made me see that our work is not yet done with him, but will be one day. That brought me comfort, and gives me the strength to carry on.

Okay, if you want the truth, my conversion when Sheed went to the line for some semi-crucial free throws whose exact nature currently escapes me. Your boy Varejao, who is definitely definitely definitely the second-best player on the Cavs, threw up the Roc. . . to distract Wallace on the line. It has those powers, you know, or at least that's what Bron likes to tell foreigners.

40 Comments:

At 6/01/2007 2:40 AM, Blogger T. said...

wait a sec . . .we were this close to seeing the end of FreeDarko?

 
At 6/01/2007 2:49 AM, Blogger Brickowski said...

Goddamn, Shoals, how are you able to put THAT post together in that amount of time?

 
At 6/01/2007 4:13 AM, Blogger T. said...

Obama - first freedarko president? (if I was undecided before, this puts me over hte top:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/01/us/politics/01hoops.html?pagewanted=2&hp

 
At 6/01/2007 7:46 AM, Anonymous Sean said...

Last night, LeBron unleashed his apocalyptic powers on the Pistons. And boy, was it awesome.

 
At 6/01/2007 8:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...as if ANY of you subatomic particles had a damn thing to do with it. you are remora.

 
At 6/01/2007 8:34 AM, Blogger Carter Blanchard said...

The Charles/Reggie debate about taking the ball out of his hands entirely missed the point. At that point there was nothing anyone could possibly do.

Let the inferno rage.

 
At 6/01/2007 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If LeBron had played with this mentality every game during the regular season, he would be dead. Is it "ok" for him coast, given his domination is almost entirely reliant on his outer-wordly atheletic ability?

 
At 6/01/2007 9:10 AM, Anonymous DannyNoonan said...

The A-Game of Bron is better than the A-Game of the Pistons. It's that simple.

 
At 6/01/2007 9:20 AM, Blogger Pichi Campana Aguanta said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 6/01/2007 9:22 AM, Blogger Pichi Campana Aguanta said...

T, thanks for posting that link, that was fantastic. As for Bron, I have nothing more to add than the words I muttered in amazement after every otherwordly play. Unreal.

 
At 6/01/2007 10:49 AM, Blogger silent.e said...

Basketball is not jazz. Lebron is Cobain? Mozart? That bit about Amare blocking his own dunk nearly brought out some tears from it's beauty.

 
At 6/01/2007 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darkofan: Keep waxing poetic. He is really the alien, not K.G. Exhibit A: video tape of last night; Other proofs are a matter of inference from negation: Has anyone ever seen him eat any thing. Has anyone seen him sleep. If you notice, he doesn't inhale and exhale rapidly evne after moments of superhuman exertion. At timeouts or whistles, he sometimes goes to the bench and squirts himself with water to make it apear as though he is sweating.
Finally, U-Tube should have up the clip of a recent unguarded moment, during a media-atended , shoot around when he threw in a three-quarter court shot , causually , over the shoulder. It is more spectacualr than the computer generated commercial, which shows a mere spliced in jump shot. He can be heard on the clip admitting that he does it at will. He as to be more careful.

 
At 6/01/2007 11:16 AM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Did Sideshow throw up a V for Vareajo or did he throw up The Bird? I'm confounded.

 
At 6/01/2007 11:19 AM, Blogger DP said...

My writing profs always told me I was "too wordy," but I had to spend more than 90 minutes this morning trying to quantify what I saw last night. Rather than re-type the opus and clog the comments, I refer you to my own blog if you're so inclined:
http://buhtros.blogspot.com/2007/06/what-words-are-there-to-describe-it.html

 
At 6/01/2007 11:30 AM, Anonymous Giricek, Gordon said...

the best part was Tayshaun Prince's face after every possession as if to say, "Can someone give me SOME FUCKING HELP OVER HERE?"

 
At 6/01/2007 12:10 PM, Blogger Martin said...

Wow, I am still reeling from the aftershock. Something about all this just feels fucking illogical- LBJ had 7 of the Cavs 13 assists and 29 of their last 30 pts and just for good measure he also led the team in rebounds!!! What is this guy a one man team?? Lebron seems hell bent on trivializing and downright shaming the Jordanesque offensive explosion DWade dropped on the Mavs in '06.

Shoals you are dead on with your take that the league can once again rest easy with the knowledge that it can foster greatness. Fans of the sport can finally relinquish our nostalgic yokes on the ghosts of Jordan, Magic, Russell, Bird, Kareem and countless other celestial legends that once graced us with their basketball presence. Their tortured souls can finally ascend to their heavenly abodes and claim their rightful roles as hoops ambassadors and archetypes of greatness. Heretofore they had been damned to roam the earth demonizing basketball fans and current players alike with the prospects of a bleak future devoid of transcendent performances. After suffering through a slew of pretenders (Vinsanity) and great performances soiled by the arguable appearance of impropriety (Miami Heat’s star 6th man Dick Bavetta) we can finally credibly hold the belief that that future feats will match or surpass past mythical narratives.

 
At 6/01/2007 12:19 PM, Blogger Steve said...

"The Charles/Reggie debate about taking the ball out of his hands entirely missed the point. At that point there was nothing anyone could possibly do."

I disagree. I think the Pistons tried to cover/double him as well as possible, without giving LeBron an easy pass to a teammate right under the basket. They didn't give him too much passing-wise, and he had to make great plays to keep the Cavs in the game. 95% of the time, that's enough because sooner or later a guy comes up short. But Lebron kept making them again, and again, and again. What we saw was almost otherworldly.

But...they could've still applied more pressure, overcommitted on him, and really forced his hand. Having 2 guys stand in front of him, waiting for him to make is move, is not forcing his hand. The one example Kenny pointed out was when Lebron was allowed to stand at the top of the key, cradling the ball in his arm, for 5 or 6 seconds before making HIS move (he drove and got that knifing, twisting layup right under the basket.)

The lesson to be learned by the Pistons is to never bet AGAINST a streak, no matter how long that streak has gone on (25 points in this case.) They were betting against the streak, betting that sooner or later the roulette ball would come up red after hitting Lebron's black 10 times in a row. They should have forced him from the table, even if it then allowed for easy opportunities by other Cavs. As Charles says, if then the other guy beats you, you congratulate them and shake your hand.

But that sort of risky, gimmicky ploy is antithetical to the Pistons, who play fundamentally SOUND defense that normally stops almost any other player from dominating like that.

It's easy to say in retrospect, but this game went to 2 overtimes. After regulation, or even after the first overtime, they should've realized that playing regular defense on Lebron was not going to work. He was too 'on', and he's too quick AND strong to be contained without overcommitting at that point in the game.

 
At 6/01/2007 12:32 PM, Anonymous iverson fan said...

Respect is due. Damn. Lebron is the one. The oracle has spoken. Too bad it wasn't him and Wade going at it. Someday.

Hubie Brown said that Lebron thought they were "dissing" him by putting Lindsey Hunter on him. You got me straight trippin boo.

 
At 6/01/2007 1:11 PM, Anonymous tom said...

Remember back in his high school days when everyone was saying how scary this guy's potential was. This is the realization of that scary, it's a friggin nightmare.

 
At 6/01/2007 1:28 PM, Anonymous Rand said...

Ya do realize that LeBron's heroics are a valiant crusade on Cleveland's part for the right to get slaughtered in five games by San Antonio, right?

I can just hear the SportsCenter highlights now: "LeBron James! With the fearsome dunk in Oberto's grill! With the dagger from beyond the arc! We have truly seen the emergence of King James, haven't we folks? Oh, final score: Cavs 78, Spurs 94."

 
At 6/01/2007 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

lebron was great, but it was incredibly boring to watch (give james ball at top of key, let clock wind down, let james shoot, repeat after pistons flail).

 
At 6/01/2007 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank God (!) BronBron saved you from going Timothy McVeigh on us. Worship of the individual and the ego is a sad path to trod and can only lead to the peaks and valleys you have been experiencing. LBJ passes to Donyell at the end of Game 1 of the series and Marshall bricks it. The result? LBJ is labeled a "goat" and in your mind we're headed to the most boring finals ever. LBJ misses his own opportunity at the end of regulation in and "doesn't have the MJ flair" or the "killer instinct." Last night, he finally gets his head out of his ass, does his job (as the self-proclaimed savior of the world), and now he's saved your faith in basketball and FreeDarko? Wow. Third time is a charm, I guess.

Unfortunately, the role players for Cleveland are either inexperienced or blow. If Cavs go to the Finals I'm taking SA in 5. But I'm happy that you faith in basketball will be restored by popping collars and Team ROCafella signs.

 
At 6/01/2007 1:55 PM, Blogger David said...

The fact that we were this close to losing FD is just as shocking Bron's game to me. Probably more so, because even Sisyphus will eventually get the rock over the hill, but losing FD? Goddamn.

The best shot last nite for my money was Eric Snow after his missed attempted game winner. He was laughing, and I'm pretty sure he was thinking, the ball ended up with me ??

And, in honor of Knocked Up today, witch I expect the vast majority of FD will be seeing,

Bron= Seth Rogan
Sheed= Michael Cena in this: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x23ll0_michael-cera-gets-fired-from-knocke

 
At 6/01/2007 2:21 PM, Anonymous DannyNoonan said...

For those saying SA in 5 games over the Cavs, care to offer what your predictions were for the Cavs-Pistons sereis?
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice ...

 
At 6/01/2007 2:26 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

I've been wondering throughout this series why the Pistons would take the Cavs so lightly after the Cavs pushed them to 7 last year. Like, you would think they would want revenge by just stomping on them this year, right? I'm now thinking that maybe the Pistons haven't been taking them lightly but rather that they're just not the better of the two teams, and it's solely because of LeBron. I guess if the Pistons do win this series then we'll know that they were just taking Cleveland lightly, but I really do think the Cavs close this thing out tomorrow night. I'm excited to see LeBron matched up against San Antonio on the world's biggest stage just because to be the best you have to beat the best, and Detroit and then San Antonio is a pretty tough road to the title if you ask me. The pressure's now on LeBron to finish Detroit off, but especially after last night I think he's up to the task.

 
At 6/01/2007 2:29 PM, Anonymous Rand said...

I said 'Stons in six. But make no mistake, what we've seen is a meltdown in Detroit, not a Cavalier ascendancy.

 
At 6/01/2007 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

seeing as how it could really be 5-0 right now I'd say there's a reason the Pistons are out of their game... and I can't imagine they weren't "trying" 3-5

Although if there's one team that could be arrogant enough to believe they actually won those first 2 games instead of the opposition losing them- it's these Pistons...

 
At 6/01/2007 2:38 PM, Anonymous DannyNoonan said...

"what we've seen is a meltdown in Detroit, not a Cavalier ascendancy."

Seriously? Really? These five games have been a war between two evenly matched teams. Maybe it was your own perception of Detroit that's in meltdown. And maybe you should ascend the Cavs to a more lofty view.

 
At 6/01/2007 2:50 PM, Blogger Martin said...

Rand I don't agree with your assessment. The Spurs are just the next evolutionary stage of the Pistons. The Spurs are the Pistons as presently constituted with the addition of a bona fide superstar- TD. Like Detroit, SA is married to fundamentally sound defense and the principals of basketball logic (even if they are amoral/dirty- see Bowen)

On the other hand, Lebron is not only defying logic he is giving it the middle finger. LBJ’s totally negates the logical style of play followed by an SA, Detroit or even Utah. If the Cavs meet SA in the finals, I can predict that Pop will apply the same approach taken against Denver of having Bowen take LBJ full court with Duncan rotating from the weak side to challenge shots. Worst case scenario, Pop doubles LBJ. If LBJ consistently defies logic by beating double teams and finishing in Duncan's grill- I don’t expect any Popovic to employ any Don Nelson like mad scientist strategies. He is likely to stubbornly stick to the well established and logical premise that no player can consistently do that. And if in the end Lebron pulls it off, I can picture Popovic shrugging his shoulders and telling his team- “although we lost, we played the right way but there was just nothing we could do- sorry folk’s maybe next year”. Pop did the same thing when he stuck to single coverage + weak side shot blocking help as Shaq's Lakers were sweeping SA. Against LAL, Pop opted to stick with fundamentals and wait it out till Shaq aged and could no longer defy basketball logic. Meanwhile teams like SAC were employing more creative strategies against LA such as stockpiling gunners and trying to outscore them. But although SAC fared better against LAL than SA did, SAC ultimately shared the same fate as SA of losing to the Lakers; it’s just that in SAC’s case it was in 7 instead of in 4/5

But I share your trepidation over the Cavs chances over SA. For the Cavs to beat SA, LBJ would have to beat doubles and score on Duncan repeatedly. I mean is that even possible, no one can do that, not even for 25 consecutive points- that’s just illogical right?

 
At 6/01/2007 3:04 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

T,

Great link. That's it, I'm volunteering. Obama '08.

Shoals,

Say it ain't so! We were THAT close? And still months away from new installments of Heaven and Here?

As for the game, on some level what happened last night was just gross. I mean, I'm in awe of Lebron, but the team's last 25 points? (BTW, how does Tayshaun get back doored with no help when the guy has scored the last 20 points?) Also, some of those shots were just so nasty. For some reason there's still a qualitative difference between a Kobe off balance shot and one from LBJ. Kobe's goes in and you're nodding your head. Bron's go in, and half your mind is saying "bullshit".

As great as he was last night, I think the poke on Rasheed in game three should be viewed as the turning point in his career given the series and the score at the time.

 
At 6/01/2007 3:22 PM, Blogger Brian said...

Not to try and take anything away from Lebron's performance (look at this performer from the Sasquatch! festival last weekend chewing his brand of gum!)
http://cms.pitchforkmedia.com/images/image/31204.theblow1.jpg

..but it is evident that this is him doing it versus the Pistons B- game, C+ at best. And I think the calamatous drop in the Stons' Offensive efficiency has slightly more to do with them than it does the Cavs defense.

 
At 6/01/2007 3:49 PM, Anonymous Daniel said...

Like everyone, I love Barkley, even when he's totally misinformed, like when he discounted the race-referee-fouls study with the argument, "Of course there are more fouls called on black players... the NBA is 80% black!!"

But the back-and-forth between him and Kenny and Reggie was excruciating. Kenny and Charles were saying that the PISTONS needed to do something to take the ball out of Bron Bron's hands and Miller was arguing back that LeBron should keep shooting. Why didn't Ernie Johnson clear up the misunderstanding, at least during a commercial?

LeBron was amazing. Flu-MJ in 98 notwithstanding, great players do get tired, and that man may be a tired, tired man in Game 6. Anyone else see another parallel to his Wise LeBron commercial... "Aww! I hurt my back again!" Looked like James' back was tightening up at the end; and if you watch the replay you'll see that he stopped dunking from then on. Craig Sager is always insufferable, but even more than normal James seemed to be practically weeping for a chance to sit down during that interview.

Now that I doubted him he'll probably drop 50 tomorrow night.

 
At 6/01/2007 4:31 PM, Blogger Steve said...

"As for the game, on some level what happened last night was just gross. I mean, I'm in awe of Lebron, but the team's last 25 points?"

Pooh, the other Cavs were 0-10 during that stretch, and also too busy otherwise fouling out, while Lebron was scoring 25 in a row.

LBJ doesn't look as pretty as Kobe taking those shots, because his game is based just as much on strength as it is on quickness. His jumper may not look as pretty, but his body is squared up, and he's strong enough that he can shoot those fadeaways without elevating high into the air.

His career FG% is higher than Kobe's too, so its hard to argue with that. He may not have as good of a jumper, but you get my point- it's not BS (even if it can look like it sometimes.)

 
At 6/01/2007 4:50 PM, Anonymous rusty said...

martin: I predicted the Pistons in six, but just like I did before the Pistons/Cavs series I think that whoever wins will be cannon fodder for the Spurs. Of course, I also think that any of the top five Western playoff teams could've beaten the Pistons or the Cavs without much trouble in a best of seven. The idea that LeBron, great as he is, single-handedly elevates his team to the level of the Shaq/Kobe Lakers is laughable.

I will guarantee you one thing-there is absolutely no way in hell Pop is going to allow LeBron to score 25 straight points. I'll still take the Spurs in five but even if the Cavs do force it to seven (and it's almost impossible to see them winning on the road in SA) it won't be because Pop failed to make adjustments. It's one thing to destroy a team while the ridiculously inept Flip Saunders twiddles his thumbs and gulps nervously and it's another entirely to go up against a coach who actually knows what the hell he's doing.

Steve: I agree that LeBron's jumper has improved but it seems as if his FG% is inflated by the ludicrous number of dunks/layups he gets. That's certainly not a knock against him. There's just now way you're going to convince me that his jump shot is even half as proficient as Kobe's.

 
At 6/01/2007 5:08 PM, Anonymous Jaz said...

Mr. Shoals,

I saw your post about entertainment over at the Fanhouse. Why do you continue to cast your pearls before that swinish multitude?

 
At 6/01/2007 5:12 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

The reason Kobe's jumper looks so much better is because Kobe's spent so much time working on it. He's like Tiger Woods in his approach to getting his shooting mechanics down to a science (or an art or both). LeBron hasn't yet shown he's willing to work like that (outside of Jordan, who is?). LeBron may not need to work on his jumper that much though, because his penetration game is so much more potent than Kobe's. If LeBron starts seeing the kind of ridiculous double-and-triple teams near midcourt that Kobe does, LeBron may need to work on it, but for now it looks like he can take it to the rim any time he wants. When you can do that, a picture-perfect jumper isn't quite as necessary.

It should be pointed out that even if Kobe's jumpers look better, they're still as ill-advised as a lot of the ones James takes (probably more so), regardless of whether they go in more often or not.

 
At 6/01/2007 6:37 PM, Blogger Nate and Jeff Bowler, Co-Captains said...

The second best player on the Cavs is Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

 
At 6/01/2007 8:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the only reasonable trade i've seen. It involves the Lakers, Wolves, and Nuggets. The players are Kobe, Odom, Radmanovic, Bynum, Kenyon Martin, Iverson, J.R. Smith, and Garnett.

The Lakers would have a starting lineup of Iverson, J.R. Smith, Luke Walton, Garnett, and Mihm/Brown.


The Nuggets would start Steve Blake, Kobe, Carmelo, Nene, and Camby.


The wolves could start Foye, Ricky Davis or Marko Jaric, Odom, Kenyon Martin, and Bynum.


Throw in some player for salary reasons or a draft pick and this deal could happen.

 
At 6/01/2007 9:27 PM, Anonymous JCN said...

so i know i'm a little late to the party, but after watching leBron's performance last night, i'm reminded of a quote by warren sapp after watching simeon rice destroy some team for a bunch of sacks one day....
"He just did what he do, and when he do what he do and he do it well. . .well, can't nobody stop him."

 
At 6/02/2007 12:17 AM, Blogger Martin said...

Rusty two quick rebuttals from my side. First of all- if you told me one week ago that Lebron would score 29 of his teams last 30 points AND notch 7 of his teams 13 total assists and lead the team in rebounds during a crunch time against the Pistons in a pivotal game I would have said hell no. Because what you would be implying is that Lebron effectively performed every basketball function on the court and prevailed over one of the best defensive teams. I am not predicting that Lebron will run roughshod over the Spurs, I am just saying that we can't credibly place a logical ceiling on Lebron's potential.

Secondly please read the crux of my prior assertion carefully. I am not stating that Lebron can replicate the '01-'03 Shaq/Kobe Lakers. My analysis is directed towards Popovic's abilities to make in game adjustments. I concede that Pop is miles ahead of Flip but even Pop when faced with the physical anomaly that was a spry and motivated Shaq could find no answer. Furthermore the most telling aspect is the Spurs teams that fell to the Lakers during the the Kobe-to-Shaq reign maintained a style of play that was obviously not working AND had no hope of working. They focused on fundamentally sound lock-down defense. The Spurs defensive minded strategy never had a hope against a Laker team blessed with two players that could score at will. Meanwhile the team that came closest to toppling the Lakers was SAC- a team that did not boast a stingy defense but a high octane offense that threatened to outgun the Lakers on any given night. By trading baskets with the Lakers, SAC placed the onus of securing a victory on the Lakers defense and took it out of the hands of the unstoppable Kobe-to-Shaq offense. I used the example to point out that history has proven that Greg Popovic will stick to a right way strategy even if it forebodes certain defeat. In a sense he is not a master of adjustments but more of a master of perfection and implementation of the right way.

 

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