Plants Are Not Small Trees

First off, many Adriatic blessings to all those who have donated. First day results are producing high-fives across the weblines, and I'm as rosy as ever about waking up and writing. I'm keeping it at "unlimited" for the sake of tact and sky-high optimism. I will, however, reveal that we're developing some kind of insider-ish content prize, most likely a regular dose of Silverbird's arm-mushing statistical universe.

So today, the internet is abuzz over Daniel Artest. I get it: he's an Artest, he weighs 300 lbs. and can dunk from far back, and is trying to bull his way into the professional ranks with little or no right to be there. That, my friends, is what we in the weeping business call a real American folk hero. Someone who lunges into the league on the wings of improbable narrative, who captures our fancy with a healthy dose of cartoon iconography. The best-case scenario for them is usually transient role player or fringe fan favorite, which is why I wish they didn't exist in the first place. I get that these stories are part of the summer leagues' charm, but they also stress the futility--and the condescension--inherent in embracing those destined to lose.

Hell, go ahead and tie this into what I wrote yesterday regarding those mired in infinite potential. There is something truly pagan, or at least pantheistic, about gathering 'round a player whose future is deliriously undefined. We want nothing more of the colorful volkscheld than to see him squeak into the pros. I am supposing that for this category, the false gods of FreeDarko, the ultimate dream is for him to burn out, succumb to injury, or otherwise stay suspended in our memories as a being of unlimited possibility. But also one without direction, a walking risk that embodies an unstable, peace-less universe.

I don't want to fixate on oddball or off-beat player assuming that they will fail. I also have no interest in taking up the cause of decent fellas whose only dream is to find a seat on the Stern-sanctioned pine. If we are going to truly take up the cause of players who embody values of style and importance, they must be those whose career arc is both wild and determined. Those who desire to win a championship, but wreaking holy terror on themselves and others along the way. For this reason alone, LeBron is a non-stop favorite. Never has anyone been so clearly fitted for the O'Brien in advance; at the same time, few superstars try on as many hats with as much untroubled disruption.

The league needs a push, and it needs one from the very players this site has become so devoted to and dependant on. The Premise of Competitive Style goes thus, and it dances in endless marriage with the strangeness of the individual. To glamorize fleeting goofballs, or wear ten fake gold ropes at once, is merely the other side of ghettoizing personality or assuming that pyrite doth not shine somewhat like the real thing. What I am seeing in myself this summer is nothing less than this anger: too much enthusiasm over the summer leagues precludes looking for the summer league qualities inherent in all players worth jocking.

Oh, and because Steinz asked: I would apply this same principle to perennial redemption candidates like Artest. Put simply, I'm sick of it, and the man that did it is Baron Davis. Davis was down, out, injured, and disreputed, and then he came back and helped change the identity of this year's basketball. That's Nash-like, but with some dark skin and surliness thrown into the mix. We should hold our malcontents to no less high a standard than this, lest we be stuck with questions like "is Eddy Curry a man yet" or "has Artest stabilized?" Zach Randolph is perhaps the one guy like this who I have a Baron-like faith in, and that's only because denying him the ball is the quickest way to usher him toward transcendence.

If you read that as FUCK THE STREETS AS AN END IN THEMSELVES, you probably should have. Baron's turnaround has proven that you can be a forgotten, discarded emblem of the post-Jordan NBA, and still assert yourself as crucial force on the game's landscape. Hell, the same could be said for Big Bad Stephen Jackson, who is as gully as they get but find light with the Warriors. Or Melo, who overcame PR obstacles (public relations, not Rican) to forge a new kind of popular thug magnetism. These are the standards for redemption to aspire to; Marbury leading the Knicks to 45 wins and the Eastern semis will simply not be enough.


At 7/11/2007 5:40 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

ummm. . .i'm glad more people have given money today, but no comments? that's like waking up and seeing the ocean covered with dead, floating birds.

At 7/11/2007 5:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, us anons had to work today to pay for future FD. It won't happen again!

At 7/11/2007 6:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, James White can expect to be cut from the Spurs. We spent so much time and energy on this fellow, and we KNEW he wouldn't catch.

That said, I laughed when somebody once said, "In the Spurs organization, a guy with his athleticism can turn into the next Bowen." You just can not teach the fundamentals of defense. I suppose because the fundamentals of defense are, well, caring to playing defense at all.

At 7/11/2007 7:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

donate something snitches...

even my brokeass can send $10, it would be my pleasure to pay for 1/20th of your nba league pass.

lets send a message to teh internets that readers will donate to a unique site. the pub will draw more traffic and help out shoals' 'ad game'.

WV:`wtfnoys - my reaction once that stevie franchise has signed with the rockets

At 7/11/2007 7:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

^ 'once announced'


At 7/11/2007 7:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if anybody at FreeDarko has ever dealt with depression, but it is a funny thing in some ways. Often I would ponder what the lives of people around me would be like without myself. Or what it would be like if my parents died when I was young. It is a very distinct feeling, once you can identify that you are depressed.

I just contemplated the NBA without Shaq. Shaq the player, well, is rather blah now. But Shaq, the face-of-the-NBA personality, well, without him, I felt that same feeling of depression. Certainly not as severe, but that cutting pain in your mind, the whatifs, and the emptiness was really there.

I think I care TOO much about basketball.

At 7/11/2007 7:38 PM, Blogger T.A. Negro said...

it's interesting, your voice and the post feel impassioned and invigorated by the new toy in the office. But the flame might be too intense. You definitely need to read it twice for complete comprehension, and that's just me being show-offy.

As for your point. I don't know. Maybe I'm going to change my post to something about determinism [/foreshadow]. Because I'm not placing as much value in Baron's playoff heroics. That story will remain a footnote in the Big Book. Nothing consequential came of it. One of the giants slew him, as they have done to their kind for the past decade+. He and Marbury remain ants on the landscape.

something like Marbury's recent video vaults his worth to Baron levels. i.e. once you remove the microscope, the caliber of genius required for the marbury video is equivalent to that of hitting a couple big threes in the final minute of a first round elimination game. neither of them can cash in on the high stakes game. Even if they get to sit at the table and watch.

At 7/11/2007 7:41 PM, Blogger T.A. Negro said...

*as they have done to his kind. i.e. giants slaying ants like baron and steph.

syntax was a little rugged.

At 7/11/2007 8:18 PM, Blogger Black Crow Screaming said...

Perhaps it was only because my home placed me on the wrong side of the chasm, but I still do not see Baron Davis as the standard for redemption.

And so I agree with t.a. negro - I think that Baron will be forgotten. If he finds himself teamed with KG, however... Beware.

And Melo's thug magnetism? It disintegrated for me with a quick slap and a fast backpedal. From the mighty Nate Robinson, no less.

At 7/11/2007 8:25 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...


maybe it's the new toy, but it's also the contemplative rage that happens during the off-season. there's just not that much concreteness to latch onto. and so the eagle flies. . .


yeah, i guess melo's entire career can be judged by a single on-court action. that's your choice.

it's not like he shot lincoln, or slept through the finals.

At 7/11/2007 9:27 PM, Blogger T. said...

bcs - after discussing a million KG trade opportunities and scenarios, I'm wondering if he makes a difference at all. On teams which are missing one piece from the championship (let's say Dallas, Phx and Detroit) - they're esentially trading away too many assets or replacing a similar player. On other trade destinations - they're giving up too much to ever make a pairing of KG + X Player useful in the short run, but KG's window of being the dominiant star is quickly closing.

Sadly - I think no matter where KG ends up, he will still be a 1st or 2nd round victim. I don't see his trade changing the balance of the NBA - at least with regards to winning it all.

Who donated 77 cents? Gheorghe Muresan?

At 7/11/2007 9:58 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

I completely agree with T. here. Baron and KG (assuming it takes Monta and Biedrins to get him) still equals nothing better than a 4 or 5 seed and a first or second round exit. Biedrins and KG together would count for something, although I'm not sure that team would resemble the Warriors as we've come to know them.

At 7/11/2007 10:19 PM, Anonymous tom said...

KG has played the majority of career with scrubs and has never played alongside a legit superstar so I find it hard to imagine the dynamic he would bring to a 2-man game but paired with Kobe, that team could reasonably be considered a contender based on the gravity of stardom alone. Baron + KG would reach pretender status at best. Hey Shoals, how small can a donation be before you consider it an insult.

At 7/11/2007 11:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No matter what team KG goes to, the corresponding big man he plays alongside will experience a sharp decline in their rebound rate. KG does NOT share defensive rebounds under the basket.

At 7/11/2007 11:19 PM, Blogger Ben Q. Rock said...

What, a KG/Juwon Howard five-four combination doesn't scare you? Fo', fo', fo', fo'. Put it in the bank.

Shoals - PayPal is not viable for me. Can I write a check?

Also, I know I'm not the first person to suggest this, but putting out a new t-shirt design might raise more money.

At 7/11/2007 11:20 PM, Anonymous Sean said...

I'm really glad that you're making some dough. I'll pitch in as soon as I can.

At 7/11/2007 11:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charlotte and Atlanta AND Boston are making the playoffs THIS YEAR.

At 7/11/2007 11:34 PM, Blogger T. said...

Can I write a check?

I thought Yao usually chose 'Sabonis' as his online screen name. Huanying ni, xiao ju ren!

At 7/11/2007 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the reason that Melo has the thug thing going for him is that he's really from the streets and people find it easy to stereotype him or apply an old but familiar label.
When you comepare the perma-grin that Melo plays the game with when he's in the zone to all the mean mugging that a lot of players are doing now it's tough to say he's trying to be a thug.

At 7/11/2007 11:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been away from a computer for a while, but I have a good story.

Only July 1st I told Jermaine O'Neal the Pacers drafted Stanko Barac and he literally laughed aloud when he heard the name "Stanko."

At 7/12/2007 12:14 AM, Blogger T. said...

Darko on the Grizz! Darko on the Grizz! Darko on the Grizz!

Um, I don't know what this means at all. Doesn't he play the same position as Pau?

WWL is reporting MORE than the mid-level too. That's a lot of money to give someone who STILL hasn't shown anything but flashes - but it's only 3 years.

At 7/12/2007 12:23 AM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

Memphis is going to be the most exciting basketball town in America next year.

At 7/12/2007 12:33 AM, Anonymous Laphonso said...

Ty- On the reals. Kyle Lowry may hurt people, Mike Conley included. Dude is a beast to the fullest, he was the gulliest guard on those gully Nova 4 guard monsters.

However, Richardson and Multiplicity together is gonna turn some heads as well. In the words of Trent Tucker- "Get the rim a band-aid, yo!" I hope that this is enough to shake Shoals out of his midsummer night's doldrums.

Get paper.

At 7/12/2007 12:51 AM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

Don't even get me started on Kyle Lowry. One of my favorite college players that year; he drove on anyone and rebounded over Big East power forwards regularly. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

I was talking about University of, too. Wouldn't be surprised if no one in CUSA gets within 30 of them next year.

I don't know if the summer league talk is dead, but Shoals's post from yesterday got me thinking about why I like watching it in the first place, and I came up with this little number (http://westcoastbasketball.blogspot.com/2007/07/trees-are-dancing-drunk-with-nectar.html). Constructive criticism would be much appreciated if you care to read it; it's my first real attempt at something approaching FD (some would probably call it a rip-off) and I'm curious if I'm doing anything right.

ippiivd: being upset at your internet for being spotty, like mine is right now

At 7/12/2007 7:32 AM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

I'm a little late, but I have to agree with T. on the possible results of a KG trade this year. It's going to be a whole different story though after this season when he can choose his destination by himself and join a contender for maybe half the price. So I kinda hope he stays for the year and really changes the landscape of the NBA for the next season.

Therefore there's only scenario I'd find intriguing for Garnett this offseason (not based on any reasonable or unreasonable rumor whatsoever): KG to the Sonics to be paired with Durant.

My understanding is that the Sonics got a trade exception in the 9mil $ range from the R. Lewis sign-and-trade. Couple that with Jeff Green plus Ridnour (or West/Watson), and maybe someone like Collison or Wilcox and whatever it takes to balance the money (and maybe they even want Wally back).

Of course this wouldn't make the Sonics a serious contender, but KG-Durant is about the only duo besides KG-Kobe that would excite me.

(Also, I'm pretty sure that this idea probably brakes half the trade rules regarding previously aquired players and trade exceptions. But a man can dream, can't he?)

At 7/12/2007 11:03 AM, Anonymous The Crack Staff @ Perkisabeast.com said...

Hooray Confederate Imagery!


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