No Time for Drunken Whispers

First off, the explanation for the chattery widget in the corner. There's already been some discussion of this in the comments section, but I've decided to take the plunge and go pledge drive, NPR-style. Starting now, if you like FreeDarko, you can give us some money. Actually, it's more an open-ended donation box with no limit on it, but NPR seems like the most dignified point of reference.

The site is still free, and if you want, you can never hand us a red cent. But if you have enjoyed the site over the years, and would like to see us churn out eight-hundred word essays until the end of days, you might want to consider it. Put simply, it would allow me time to write and pick photos, which is the really time-consuming part. The math is encouraging, and I won't insult your intelligence by laying it out. Suffice it to say that $1 a month from the regulars would basically allow me to expand FreeDarko to hitherto unimaginable versions of height.

Okay, now back on the bus. I've been up in Maine, surrounded by a few members of the FreeDarko High Council. We haven't really talked much basketball; I've defended the Curry/Randolph arrangement to three separate people, and there's been some very wonky talk on the future of the site. I suspect this also has something to do with having hit the courts on at least one occasion. For me, at least, the disconnect between the game I love and the rudimentary form I practice is deeply unnerving. I get that, for some people, the tactile experience of battling under the basket or hitting a key sloppy jumper is what makes them cherish the sport. As you can probably guess, feeling shut out and isolated from all the game's poetry gives me nothing but inner sorrows.

Perhaps most importantly, for the first time in ages I'm not the least bit wooed by the summer leagues. I've long worshipped off-season ball as some sort of screechy oracle. Sometimes, I think they can tell us hidden truths about youngsters, be a kind of a loopy unconscious that sometimes emerges to haunt during the regular season. Then at other times, the sheer perversity of it makes it a playground for potential of the most shocking variety. LaMarcus Aldridge can be a king, but Qyntel Woods was also a summer league monster in his day. LeBron struggled, and both Durant and Oden have been anything but sublime.

There's a very simple reason why I find myself so subdued this July. By anyone's reckoning, this past season feels wan and unfinished. Between the injuries, the robberies, and East's regression, it made it all too clear that New NBA was still a face splattered on the horizon. The Warriors, darlings of this world and the next, emerged too late to have an '04-05 Suns ripple effect on the game--or at least the way we perceived it. And with a draft class to rival 2003 on the way, all the talk of tanking was more revealing then it was damning. These are reinforcements, sent from the hills to help usher in the future.

Usually, I'm all for infinite potential. God bless the Rudy Gay's and Shaun Livingston's of this league, who could be so much, and move in so many directions at once, that they find themselves imprisoned by possibility. To return to my favorite bit of basketball metaphysics, their potential potential is nothing shy of intoxicating. Yet they are parlor tricks, screwy asides, giggles of the game of basketball who may well end up victims of their own breathless inertia. At some point, if this smack-like fun continues they will end up littered corpses, laying in the road beside the likes of Darius Miles and Stromile Swift.

In certain cases, these players find themselves, and then work to become full-fledged stars. That's exactly why Gerald Wallace is so astronomically important to me, and why, for the moment, Josh Smith has surpassed J.R. They are still flush with potential, but it has a direction, a purpose, an identity it pursues. The thrill of this year's draft class is that, despite their youth, most of the top picks are already in this second category of being. High school kids are expected to flail with aplomb for a minute, but Oden and Durant have to be on track from day one. If nothing else, the purpose of college ball is to deliver players into the league with some nascent version of how their complete game might look.

With that mission in mind, these summer leagues are nothing but a distraction. I suppose that, as a hog-tied fan of narrative, I should want their Year One sagas to stretch out as long as possible, and for there to be as much tension and release as possible. But knowing where they will stand once they hit the league, and fully aware of what the Vegas games mean, I can't be anything but annoyed. I am impatient, and I want the Association to continue its rebirth. There's really no hope to be planted that's not redundant or false, and the failures will never stick when we believe in our hearts that next year will be one of abundance.

One note: Durant's doing something totally unprecedented within this framework. Dude's game is totally polished and original, and will stand out at the professional level. At the same time, there's really no telling how greater size and strength will add more to his arsenal. Durant's already going to be Dirk or a psychotic Shard; what remains to be seen is how much All-Star caliber big man he can grow out of his rib.


At 7/10/2007 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that last pic looks like the reading of the minutes at the world's smallest Miki Berenyi fan club.

At 7/10/2007 4:22 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

I've been watching a decent amount of summer league, and I think in some cases it can act as a miniature form of college for the players you haven't seen a lot (Marco, obviously) in that it gives "a nascent version of how their complete game might look." There are also players you can tell won't fit into the NBA game very well right off the bat, like Fazekas, who looked completely lost against Portland the other day. Of course, this year is the first time I've been able to watch these games, though, so maybe I'm just into the novelty.

At the very least, it seems worth it for plays like the Louis Williams dunk yesterday. And Toby Bailey looks more like Morris Day (mustache and everything) than anyone should without trying.

At 7/10/2007 4:26 PM, Anonymous trouc said...

on the donations, i still think you need something tangible here. like i said, an extra column a month for the choosen (or choosers (whatever)) would bring more people in.

also, don't be discouraged immediately, payday's friday

At 7/10/2007 5:23 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Not really the point of your post, but... as a blog reader, I really am starting to hate the AOL Fanhouse. I mean, it's great for you guys, getting paid (hopefully well), but for readers... I miss MJD's site. I miss being able to discuss his posts with a fairly reasonable viewership. It sounds cliche to break on the commenters over at AOL, but it's really true.

And now the same is happening to Free Darko.

I really hope that this system can work....

At 7/10/2007 5:52 PM, Anonymous Nicholas Chopper said...

For less than I spent at the bar this afternoon, I've just donated half of the total scratch collected so far on the Chip In. Does that make me a %50 shareholder in FD?

Twelve bucks for a year of FD? That's worth less than a Marvin Williams garbage time dunk. David Stern should be paying Shoals and Co. to keep this ship afloat, chartering us, the elite of NBA fandom, towards a world free of sin and boring basketball.

Give it up everyone.

At 7/10/2007 5:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I think of summerleague i think of Skita wrecking shop a few years back and then starting the season and still being a disappointing player.
As for the addition of weight to KD... he's going to need it to be able to do his thing for 82 games. He's getting pushed around by guys who have half his talent and that's going to be a pattern until he puts on some weight.

At 7/10/2007 6:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"David Stern should be paying Shoals and Co."

AMEN! That said, I will now donate teh moniez.

At 7/10/2007 6:20 PM, Blogger JTExperience said...

Greg Oden: 6 pts, 10 fouls.
Marcus Banks: 42 pts


At 7/10/2007 6:40 PM, Blogger Black Crow Screaming said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 7/10/2007 6:46 PM, Blogger Black Crow Screaming said...

Death. Or mere transition. But if it is only transition, that which is left behind is often known and cherished, and that which is ahead could be anything at all. Could one's reaction to such vague potential be a better measure of optimism than a half-full glass of water?

No. When the transition is leaving something that was loved, then death and transition become synonymous. And when the transition is forced by the sad realities of the world, that only causes the burden to weigh even heavier.

Nothing is exempt.

FreeDarko itself is in need of freeing. And I'm not sure if it can be, shackled as it is by time, aging, the real world, economics... and the writhing, gnashing, insatiable ball of information known as the internet...

The comments attached to the previous post ring of controversy. Who could begrudge Shoals his pain and his angst at learning that some would suggest he die a quiet death, pretending that it is one of glory? What is loyalty and why are we alive?

Oscar said that 'every man must kill the thing he loves.' No, it is not that. The world kills the thing, and the man watches the death as the world turns away. And so he stands alone, often the sole witness of the funeral. Or the rotting of the corpse.

And perhaps that is why some say "kill the site." They fear not only the rotting but what comes before. For as death approaches, arrives, and recedes, attacks come in waves. Parasites, disease, and resentment from the living hasten death. After death, vultures and scavengers gnaw at what little remains.

That is why Shoals is asked to act as both killer and funereal director. They think that the kind words said at the funeral and the elegance and rage and sadness and formality of the whole affair will be preferable to watching that slow death.

And yet... what do they fear? Who would this funeral be for? All of us, surely. But if it is constructed to save something then it is all wrong. It would only be for those who believe in two things: 1. An afterlife exists; and 2. The body means something.

But it does not. Cast aside your delusions and arise, straight and tall. The world is not yet too heavy to do that.

Let's exit this realm. When I began this post, I was not sure if I believed that FreeDarko could, or should, continue. After all, FD has said much, and its death would not equal the death of its founder, who would still write, and still live.

But I don't believe in ending something out of fear of the future, fear of possibility, or acquiescence to this goddamn world.

Why? You might wonder.

Hemingway was said to be washed up when he wrote The Old Man and The Sea. His suicide a few years later confirmed the troubles he was having. But through those troubles, a bright light of greatness shined through.

So it comes down to this: do you believe that FreeDarko has no greatness left, that it is like an aging athlete who should retire before he embarrasses himself?


I don't think that is true. My head hangs now, though, for I also don't think the new model can work. I won't hide behind my words any longer.

It is a beautiful idea, this free-will version of pay-for Free-Darko. If it worked, it would be a new form of revolution. People paying for something they loved, something they cared about, being pro-active. They could pay what they wished, and those that had more could pay more. The writers would be supported and joy and insight would fill their work, spilling forth into their readers who would step out into the world with eyes wide and minds open.


Agh. I'm rambling now, and my words are becoming watered down, each addition robbing meaning from what has been said before. This is no composition, and I have neither the time nor the reason to tranform it into such. But I don't know how to stop.

I will stop, though. And I am hopeful. Hopeful that pieces of my message have seeped through the clutter of your screen and that some of you have cupped your hands and drunk from it and are rising from your chairs now and walking, walking out into the evening.

At 7/10/2007 6:46 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Even though I think this system can't work, I chipped in my $6 (ha, bitch... you'll get the other half when you provide the hot posts!). I guess it's because if it could work anywhere, it would be at Free Darko, where there is a certain passion that separates this from almost every other blog/site out there.

Still, I'm sure it's gonna fail. We can't compete with AOL money.

Oh, one more thing: I want one link sometime in the next six months! See, I can blackmail ya, too. Hit SML with a link in one of your posts over the next six months. After all, links are apparently the one thing that everyone goes bat sh*t for, or so I have found out lately....

At 7/10/2007 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SML, we all read your shit as soon as it hits Lowpost.net anyways.

That said, you, Seth from Posting and Toasting, and Knickerblogger.net have actually made me care about the Knicks. I consider them my 2nd fave Eastern team AFTER Charlotte. Something about that Charlotte roster puts stars in my eyes.

Oh, and also Black Crow Screaming... you try too hard. That's why I like Shoals, Billups, Recluse and Co. Their shit seems as natural as _________________.

At 7/10/2007 7:02 PM, Blogger Black Crow Screaming said...

Anonymous -

Thank you.

At 7/10/2007 7:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I did read it.

At 7/10/2007 7:11 PM, Anonymous The Gong said...

Shoals I love your stuff and if I weren't such a dirt poor college kid hoping to pay for groceries I'd hit you up with some cash.. for the moment however it might have to wait for a few more paycheques

At 7/10/2007 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darkofan: Fifty Grand is the Hemmingway Freedarko story, not Oldman and the Sea . ( I'll leave the Oldman's exchages with the boy on DiMaggio out of this.)

Have not had a chance to focus on the Summer League, but from casual glances, the first thing noticed is how much smaller the ten on the floor seem to be,collectively, compared to regular season.

Trying not to neglect the WNBA too.

Like the protaganist in Fifty Grand, Freedarko's writers should do what they have to ( or what is "so necessary" as I think Jake says after the fight) , not just lay there, like the Swede in the Killers.

At 7/10/2007 7:54 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

I have two kids, a full-time job and $1.67 in my bank account; nonetheless, it's my birthday tomorrow so I'll be loaded.

P.S. Perhaps you could explain how you've fled Houston, destination Seattle, yet have been hanging in Maine. Shit didn't sell at the yard sale? Coin another t-shirt.

At 7/10/2007 8:11 PM, Blogger Bongo said...

Hey Black Crow- Virginia Woolf called, she wants her middle passage from "To the Lighthouse" back.

Free Darko lives on, and probably in the right way. Just consider it like we're signing Shoals to the mid-level exception- he better make us look like Jerry West or Buford and not Isiah or Billy King though.

At 7/10/2007 8:15 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

As someone who's also in the process of fleeing Texas I second Welk's call for info on the travels of Shoals. DarkoCon II? Will there be another picture?

Also, maybe I've said this before, but I am POSITIVE that Rudy Gay will breakout and flourish under Iavaroni.

At 7/10/2007 8:26 PM, Blogger Tim! said...

Anonymous said...
"Have not had a chance to focus on the Summer League, but from casual glances, the first thing noticed is how much smaller the ten on the floor seem to be,collectively, compared to regular season."

and at the same time it looks, to me anyway, that the floor is much smaller. not sure if that's a factor of the camera angle or the fact that the players seem to occupy the space without direction.

At 7/10/2007 9:21 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

maine, then new york, then philly, then new york again, then dallas, then seattle.

At 7/10/2007 9:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stolen comments from around the web on the Antoine Walker robbery:

"Antoine Walker can't even defend his home."

"At least the robber doesn't have to worry about getting shot back. 'Toine would go 0 for 6..."

At 7/10/2007 10:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know the weird thing about Gay.

He LOOKS like he's trying ALL the time, as opposed to his college days.

At 7/10/2007 11:09 PM, Blogger T. said...

anon 4:05 - wouldn't the world's smallest Miki Bereyni fan club also = the only Miki Bereyni fan club? Or am I sleeping on underground Lush fan movements?

In NBA Summer news, I heard from all the NBA folks who were in town this last week that Yi is closer to signing with the Bucks, and in fact the CBA is not happy with the delay in signing. They don't mind Yi to the Bucks at all (so everyone blaming the faceless "Chinese government" can stop).

The holdup is Yi's own club here (Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers) and Yi's agent (Dan Fegan).

At 7/10/2007 11:32 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

'Tis blackmail most foul!

Actually, do whatever you have to to pay the bills. If that means more FH and less FD, so be it. I have to believe that there will be topics that will never be fit for AOL and moments stolen to commit them to the ether here.

Like others, I'm skeptical that passing the plate will generate an income. As someone pointed out, it's the free rider problem, one to which I am often a contributor, as I am a cheap bastard. In this case, however, although I wouldn't give a homeless woman on the street my change today, I did just pay the Competitive Style Tax (CST). (I'm not sure if youthful idealistic me would think that was good or kick me in the balls.)

And also like others, I think ads would be more successful. I'd click!

To the community: If the CST fails, and things slow down around here, would be there be interest in setting up a message board somewhere to link to posts here, at FH, and at other appropriate locales to keep the dialog going? It seems to me that the comments have become a big part of the FD experience, but few of us are interested in engaging with the AOL commenters, and discussing FanHouse material here seems a little difficult. An FD forum might help the discussion side of things going, if FD itself gets slow ...

Actually on topic, I've been watching a little summer league play, even though it hasn't really interested me in the past ... too much chaff to sort through ... I was fine letting The Process separate some of the wheat ... exposure to FD has increased my interest in seeing potential flog itself.

At 7/10/2007 11:55 PM, Anonymous w.c.g. said...

Count me in the "shut out and isolated from all the game's poetry" club.

I'm trying to transition out of dirt poor college kid mode...once I'm successful, I'll hit you with a pledge.

Another stolen internetty Walker quote: "The Leeroy Jenkins of the NBA".

At 7/11/2007 12:00 AM, Anonymous w.c.g. said...

Mr. Six - I was just thinking about some version of the alter-FanHouse you proposed. As was stated before, it's passe to say AOL commenters are wretched, but it's a necessary point this time. If that's how it goes down, I'd be in. I'm not a regular voice here but I enjoy reading the comments here regularly.

At 7/11/2007 12:03 AM, Blogger PostmanE said...

In Shoals' and co's defense, I don't think the site has ever suffered due to AOL responsibilities. The season just ended -- let these men rest!

Unrelated: I know this is probably pretty cliche, but I happened to be listening to Masters of War when I hit Black Crow's comment, and for a minute there, shit got ominous.

At 7/11/2007 2:34 AM, Blogger Pichi Campana Aguanta said...

I'd also be in for a Vintage FD forum.

And T, is that you in the second to last photo?

At 7/11/2007 3:38 AM, Blogger T. said...

PCA - no sir. For my mediocre pizza delivery needs in Shanghai, I only choose Papa John's.

fzzkucgz - Tim Thomas's real opinion of Kenyon Martin

At 7/11/2007 10:11 AM, Anonymous Geraldo said...

Shoals, I'll def throw you some scratch for FD once I get paid, but I was wondering how/if Dr LIC, Billups and Recluse get comped for this shit. I know you hold down the bulk of the posts and that you're essentially the Don of the FD familia, but if a little cash can coax Billups to grace the pages a little more often, I'd be much obliged.

BTW, I saw the Knicks v Sonics game the other day and I'm pretty sure that Randolph Morris and Balkman blocked four of KD's first 8 shots. I know its only summer league, but its obvious that dude isn't used to getting banged like that.

WV: sgwdnj - No joke, as I write this I'm listening to Sitting and Watching by Dennis Brown at my parents house in New Jersey. Thats some eerie shit.

At 7/11/2007 10:42 AM, Blogger Black Crow Screaming said...


I've never read any Virginia Woolf.

If you found it a sad parody, I apologize.

I am a bit out of tune these days.

At 7/11/2007 11:23 AM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Geraldo: According to the cats over at Posting and Toasting, yep, Durant got blocked 4 times (twice by Renaldo, twice by Randolph Morris). He's also been getting pushed around a bit. I know, I know... summer league means nothing, just like the draft combine means nothing.

I'm still projecting 17-19 ppg as his max this season, and that's only because no one else on that team is gonna score, either (Jeff Green? Wally? Luke Ridnour?). The Sonics ain't topping 25 wins this year.

But I can't wait to see the 2010 OKC Sonics with a seasoned and strengthened Durant, Green, and Roy Hibbert (or OJ Mayo, or Kevin Love).

At 7/11/2007 1:56 PM, Blogger JTExperience said...

I too lack the funds, or I would fasho hook you up. Sorry.

SML: You are so right. Sonics got rid of Allen and Shard so that KD and Green could learn, even though the team will still suck. Then it's Roy Hibbert time when they're back in the lottery next year.

At 7/11/2007 3:17 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

what happened to the bench renaldo guy? is that site still around? i saw part of that sonics/knicks game, and i was surprised how quick balkman is. he's going to have a long pro career.

also, i just want to say again for sml's benefit that i never said durant was going to average 25 his rookie year. 19 ppg sounds about right. dude is really slight.

At 7/11/2007 4:12 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

Seems like KD could average 25 on that awful team and still have just a decent, expected season (the equivalent of 17-19 on a team with Ray Allen).

Best case scenario for them is losing a ton this year and picking up Derrick Rose.

At 7/11/2007 4:53 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

@jtexperience: It's a sound rebuilding strategy, I suppose. Once in a lifetime you get the opportunity to not care if you don't win any games next season, and not even care if your current fanbase gets upset (not that they will, because they'll still sell tickets to see Durant - reason #205 that getting the second pick was crucial for the Sonics, as opposed to getting the first), because you are moving anyway! The Nets must be kicking themselves a little bit right now. Or will be in three years when they move to Brooklyn with Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson still on the books.

@Brown: That wasn't really directed at you. But yes, I still hate you. I even wrote a rhyme about it...


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