8.31.2007

Eyes of the Leaking



I would like to heartily thank everyone who made it to our little shindig yester-soir. I am hoarse this morning and feel the world is a slightly different place, so we must've accomplished something.

That said, it's strange for me to meet people who know me only as the entrails of FreeDarko. I can make sports small talk with total strangers (that's what it's for, right?), but membership in the FD community demands more than that. And yet most of my in-depth conversations about the game are with friends who know my dark secret: I don't know shit about basketball, and rent my clothes each night over this awful fact. Each time I web-chat with a writer far better-versed than me, or sit down with someone aware of my alter ego, anxiety eats my goblins. The clutch sets in at my throat, and I back myself into a corner from which I am ill-equipped to escape.



There's a fairly simple explanation for this, or maybe even two. First of all, I've never played the game seriously and still don't recognize it's a standard human activity. Baseball purists are the most pure because they love the shape of field and the path of a ball toward home plate. Remove all the humans and the sport would still be beautiful to them. I'm at the other extreme of spectrum; not only do I feel nothing when I see an empty gym, I have almost no interest in basketball when it's not brought to life by NBA employees. Without question, that's because most of what I know about basketball, I learned by watching the pro stuff. There's never been any practical pressure for me to understand its universal workings, so my technical know-how is a mixture of impressions, deduction, and bullshit.

When it comes to X's and O's, I'm in one of those "understands the language, yet can't reliably speak it" situations. I'm not clueless; when something works, I can explain what happened and why. But if it's time for diagnostics or all-out abstraction, I trip myself up awfully fast. The reason I have come forth with this career-threatening confession? That basketball lends itself to this amateur-ish treatment says a lot about why I enjoy it so. Most joggers have a passing interest in cardiac fitness; not everyone who enjoys sex stays up on the latest developments in urology.

Last night, I ended up talking with Padraig about LeBron's role on the Cavs, and whether or not James could play more like Magic-era T-Mac or Philly Iverson. I totally failed at figuring out my end of the argument, mostly because I was at the mercy of my brain's ability to conjure up highlight footage. I felt like absolute shit about this for fifteen minutes or so, before realizing what a ridiculous problem I'd created for myself: those three players are all radically different, and any "role" they take on is going to be shot through with their respective styles. Yes, in technical terms there's a finite number of basketball acts. But just as baseball lends itself to radio and basketball doesn't, this form of description or conceptualization only tells part of the story. Compare that to football, where telestrator holds the key to all truth.



In the NBA, pure execution doesn't allow for victory, much less an absolute understanding of the facts. In fact, I'm not even sure it exists. Even on the Spurs, its language can't account for all the improv and nuance that infect every scrap of technical essence. Individuality isn't merely interesting, or useful; it's what animates the the sport, the means by which technique becomes something real. That's why, despite my shortcomings as a scholar, I feel like my appealing to a higher power is in line with what the this Association's all about. I would rather watch LeBron than sketch him in hypotheticals; if that makes me deferential to particulars, it's because that's where I find the heart and soul of the NBA.



(Skeets found the video.)

8.28.2007

1st Annual Freedarko World Columbian Exposition



For the first time in our three-year history, Freedarko is going to attempt to organize an actual event. The event commemorates the first time that I, Dr. LIC, the Brown Recluse, Esq., and Bethlehem Shoals will all be in the same place at the same time, and that same place is Chicago, IL. So, if you are in the Chicago area, this Thursday night, we would like to meet up with you and drink beers with you.

At Shoals' request that we meet somewhere "extremely uncool" and at the Recluse's suggestion that this venue is huge (to accommodate our legion of followers), we will be meeting around 8pm at:

The Five Star Bar and Grill.
1424 W. Chicago Ave.
312-850-2555

Haters and long-time readers alike, please join me, the Recluse, and Shoals in talking hoops, acting awkwardly, and not looking anything like we thought each other would look in person. Also, I think we should all wear Freedarko t-shirts if possible, to facilitate the meeting of up. People will most likely mistake us as members of the same softball team. Oh, and if the venue actually really sucks, we can go somewhere else around 930.

So, please, Chicago, stand with us on Thursday. It will be awe-inspiring. E-mail freedarko@gmail.com with any questions.

ALSO: Today, the guys over at bleacherbloggers.com were nice enough to interview me for today's episode and make Freedarko their blog of the day. Check em out.

8.27.2007

Just a Little



This is just a little note to let everyone know that the newest FreeDarko shirts, emblazoned with those classic 70's SI illustrations, have finally arrived. The first batch went out Saturday, and the rest go out tomorrow, so most everyone (save for some FD'ers stationed abroad) should be ready to rock by the time Labor Day Weekend commences. If you order today, you too can get your barbecue on in style. Act now!

Any questions or concerns can be directed to the gmail account.

8.25.2007

Weekend Mea Culpa



I'm positive this will make me lose some credibility out in the yard, but not as much as my forthcoming article on why I'm glad I don't play basketball. You all brought it on yourselves by reviving the "our culture values dogs" line in the comments section. Also, I just slept eleven hours, and am either pissed at myself or grossly complacent about my right to speak.

First, let's get it settled: I could give a fuck less about dogs. They are needy, fulsome, smelly, loud, inane, and a poor excuse for stupid children. There's exactly one dog I like on this earth and ironically, he's a pit bull. Here he is, doing his finest:



Thus, for some time, I have been tempted to play devil's voicebox and brush aside all this Vick stuff. He's a major disappointment on the field, but I still like seeing him run around on SportsCenter. While I'm not in favor of slaughtering puppies, I can't say it would forever damn a human being in my eyes. It's just not that clearly a sin in my moral parlor. And unlike any number of other internet sports fans, I always knew full well that dogfighting existed in mass quantities, that it was in many ways a culture that could swamp individual agency, and that, like it or not, there are probably other athletes caught up in this same pastime. In my eyes, Vick was neither a scapegoat nor a devil in need of ritual torching.

When he decided to turn state's evidence, though, something clicked in my head, something that I'm a little red-faced over right now. See, like many of you, I'd been hung up on the valence of the act itself: whether or not being mean to animals is the end of the world. The whole conspiracy aspect of it seemed like a fancy way to make a monster pay. How naive I was, much like those scoundrels who believed, at the other end of the spectrum, that Vick was without peer in this kind of activity.



You can have a rational debate over whether or not gambling should be legal all over. The same goes for drugs, as Wire fans know well. Since they are illegal, though, there's a whole infrastructure of human evil that springs up around them. Bookies beat the shit out of dads. Crews shoot at each other over territory. It's called "the game," and it's the ruthless system of checks and balances that takes the place of rational regulation. Putting things outside the law not only raises the amount of money involved: it leaves appetites unchecked on both sides of the consumer equation, and means that only power and intimidation can erect some semblance of a stable market. But you all knew that already.

(Sidenote: How the fuck is this "illegal gambling" if it's on an illegal operation? Whether it's redundant or contradictory I'm not sure, but it has some logical flaw in it.)



I'm now seeing that the "criminal" part of this might not just be about its being illegal to lynch puppies. We can argue over how much the public should or shouldn't care that dogs died. That's akin to the problem of government-sponsored junk. What I couldn't or wouldn't see is that, duh, this is a highly-profitable network of unsavory dudes making money; there's a ton of unsightly human-on-human shit involved in this—if not on Vick's end, than with the people he's got information on. I don't think I'm being hysterical or sensationalist here, any more than it's paranoid to suggest that gambling and dope slangin' operations might not be the most stable, safe places of employment.

For some reason, I'd always believed that dogfighting was laid-back because of how easy drug money was to come by. Thousands were changing hands in casual pet wars the same way teenagers buy a nicer car than me. That was stupid of me; if dogfighting involves a lot of the same humans as the street wars, why wouldn't it take on a similar form? If only the state had emphasized this more—that Vick is A CRIMINAL EXEMPLAR, not just a twisted dude—it would have fully vaccinated itself against cries of a witch hunt.

8.23.2007

New Favorite


Stephon Marbury does not give a fuck anymore, which ultimately makes him the most relevant he's been in years. Starbury is back in the headlines again, this time for defending Michael Vick, after a summer in which he talked about playing in Italy once his Knicks contract expires, gave a batshit crazy interview on NBC (see below), and even offended people with his low-budget sneaker charitable work.



This is not even to take into account the fact that dude started his own talk show and impersonates Stephen A. Smith in the promos for it. This is not to MENTION that the guy was writing crazy blog posts for the NY Post, calling out commentors, writing shit like:


I guess we could ask people like Tony who called me a lowlife…and
"islesfan'' who said I was drugged up.

Let me ask YOU dudes a question. How would your mother feel if someone put you on blast in all the media and said you were on drugs in front of all your co-workers, your friends and family?

What is that to say about someone? I’m on drugs? OK.
You have to look yourself in the mirror and say I spoke about this
man and I don’t even know him, just what I heard someone else
say. That's crazy. Remember, the only truth to a rumor is “I heard…”

You don’t know about me.
You don’t know my life.

You heard about me.
You heard about my life.

You want to make me the clown…I’m not the dude on the ESPYs, getting carried on a throne. I’m not him. I’m the good guy, not the bad guy. I don’t want to be carried on the throne…I just want to walk among the people.


Quite simply, dude is starting to lose it. After years of being the NBA's whipping boy, being unfairly chastized for never winning a playoff series (T-Mac anybody?), being called out by Larry Brown, been miscategorized as a "shoot-first" point guard, and after getting scrutinized to no end for confident remarks misunderstood as arrogance, Steph has got nothing left to lose. He has alienated himself from former coaches and teammates, he HAS HIS OWN SNEAKER COMPANY (i.e. no big endorsements to lose), and he plays for the Knicks. And in this day and age when the NBA is ambassadored by the boring Wade, the calculating LeBron, and the "rehabilitated" Carmelo, you have to love a guy with this sort of candor.

The Vick comments, for example, were a breath of rare realness. Now, I'm not gonna even come close to endorsing Michael Vick's behavior, but I have to say that Marbury's remarks were pretty on point. Marbury was certainly off-base with calling dogfighting a "sport," but not so off with putting dogfighting on the same level as duck-hunting. And what really counted was that Starbury used the term "good human being" to describe Vick and talked about him falling into a "bad situation." Is there not room in the media for this voice of brotherhood and solidarity with one's fellow athlete? Outside of a few Falcons, I haven't heard many current pro athletes get behind Vick in this way. No one would dare jeopardize any public favor or endorsement deals by speaking so honestly. Again, what the fuck does Steph care? Nothing to lose.

My personal hope is that this is just the beginning. The further Steph falls down the gutter, the more license he has to speak crazily. The Recluse predicted that in ten years, Steph would transform into a crazy activist type, some sort of hybrid between Mike Tyson and Jim Brown. I personally see a lot of parallels with R. Kelly. Around the summer of 2004, it was easy to pair up Kobe with Kellz as the NBA equivalent to this pop culture figure. Both had just been accused of sexual misconduct, both were annoyingly successful, and both had recently been shit on by the biggest dogs in the game (Shaq/Jay-Z). That comparison only goes so far, however, as Kobe has become more and more rigid/phony, whereas R. Kelly has actually gotten crazier and more ingenuous, and in doing so has won the respect of his peers. Around the time of Best of Both Worlds, R. Kelly was on the verge of irrelevance. Beginning with the Ignition (remix), traversing through the Trapped in the Closet series, and spiced with quotes like:

“I’m the Ali of today. I’m the Marvin Gaye of today. I’m the Bob Marley of today. I’m the Martin Luther King, or all the other greats that have come before us. And a lot of people are starting to realize that now.”

...Kellz' lifepath is one of near derangement. And I can only hope that Starbury is headed to the same place. As of now, I can best compare Marbs to Tracy Morgan, a diamond in the rough that nobody ACTUALLY cared about until he showed the world his true insanity (where Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Dave Chappelle, and Chris Rock fit into this mess, I don't know). I must admit that I was pretty proud of this analogy when I thought of it, but some quick internet researching revealed that great minds think alike, and the great mind of Sam Rubenstein made this same comparison weeks ago. Of course Rubenstein compared Marbury to Tracy JORDAN, Morgan's character on 30 rock, but given the current mental miscegenation of THIS-IS-ME + I AM CRAZY that constitutes Steph's character, I would have to say that the most accurate depiction of Marbury would be an amalgam of the Jordan/Morgan truth-fiction.
















Marbury is a Tim Hardaway from which there is nothing left to ban him. David Stern should fear his voice. For the third year in a row, I am predicting great things for the Knicks, because they will finally be led by a man free of mental shackles. With a Zach Randolph-Eddy Curry frontcourt of excess and disinhibition, and with FGA-record-setters Jamal Crawford and Q-Rich still on board, the Knicks will be a glorious acid trip to behold. Guide them, Steph, to where they all ultimately belong.

8.22.2007

Where You From



Welcome back to the FreeDarko Guest Lectures series. Today, your guide will be Jake of Bread City Basketball and the dearly-departed Grass Casket.

Jason and I were playing ball at the courts in Dean Park. This was back in ninety-seven, ninety-eight, when I was buying uptowns on layaway with a ten dollar allowance and subway tokens from off my parents’ dresser, and Jason was rocking them big-ass prescription sport-goggles on some Horace Grant shit. Three-thirty on any given school day and the courts would be already filled up, so you had to get there quick. Dean Park had four hoops, but there were always mad heads waiting on the fences. Not that everyone was trying to play, it was just the place to be. There were days when you'd sit there for four or five hours without shooting a single basket, and not even notice. But this wasn't one of those days. Jason and I were going one on one.

Let me take you back like an Indian giver I was setting up the play like my name was Doc Rivers.



I put my shoulder down, juked left, then pulled up for the college three anyway. Swish.

"Too nice!" I said.

"Damn, you play some pussy basketball," Jason said.

"I'd rather be a pussy and win."

"You would, Park Slope pussy."

"Man, check me the ball," I told him.

It was funny, because even though I was considered to be from out the neighborhood, I only lived eight blocks away, by the Grand Army Plaza 2 stop. That was always the first thing kids wanted to know: Where you from? Eight blocks made a difference. Eight blocks was a different city. Prospect Park was the Atlantic Ocean, the other side was Europe, and Brooklyn was The Planet. That's what people used to call it. I don't know whether they still do, but I wouldn't be surprised. Jason checked me the ball, and right away I put up another three. Swish.

"It's raining buckets now," I said. "It's a thunderstorm now," I said.

Then our game got interrupted. No matter what time you were on the courts, it could be one in the morning, there were always about a hundred little ankle biters trying to get in on your game. The crazy thing was, even though they were all like four feet something, some of them were actually kind of nice, I mean, they could play. But still, most people didn’t really want to ball with an eleven year old no matter how nice they were, especially when they called fouls every two seconds, like Mateo did.

"Hey Jessie," he said, running up and trying to steal the ball.

"Yo what up Mateo?" I said, lifting the ball up over my head with one hand.

Mateo liked me cause I was one of the only kids who’d let him get in a game, or at least take a couple shots. Sometimes on the weekends, when I'd be just shooting around by myself, Mateo would show up and we'd play horse or something. He was always there and he never had a ball. He must've lived around the corner.

"Hey can me and my friend Isaiah play? Two on two. Us two versus you two."

I looked over at Jason. He shook his head no, but I was in a good mood, so I figured, why not?

"Yeah, all right," I said, "just let us finish this game."

Jason walked over to me. "What’s the matter with you man? Is he your son or something? I'm not trying to be an after-school counselor."

"Relax," I told him, "it'll be fun.”



So Jason and I matched up against them. We both had about two feet on these kids, easy. For the first few minutes, we laid off like we were going to let them keep it close, but then we just started stuffing every shot they took in their face, hard. I think we played the hardest basketball of our lives against these two eleven year olds. It was pretty funny. Even though we were stuffing the ball in their faces and cracking up the whole time, they never stopped trying. Mateo especially. He was the kind of kid who always wanted to be like the older guys and wouldn't have wanted us to go easy on him, anyway. That was a real fun game, though. Mateo kept calling carries and three second violations and all of that bullshit like he always did, and we just kept stuffing the ball right in his face. We were laughing so hard that I thought I was going to hyperventilate, and Jason's sport-goggles fogged up.

I remember that day perfectly, because the next morning, Jason moved out Fort Greene to a house in Canarsie. Paris. I'm not going to try to make the story more dramatic and say that he was my best friend, but he was still one of those people who changed things for me. He was the one who had brought me to those courts in the first place, the one who had me scraping change for uptowns and doing crossovers on my living room couch every night after dinner. He had grown up in Fort Greene, and it was only because I was Jason's friend that everyone at the park was down with me, you know? And I kept playing there, long after Jason had gone, and other kids had come and gone too. And after a while it got to be so that my friends could come around and play without any problem, because people showed love to me just like they had to Jason. You stay in one place long enough, and that's where you from.



Jason's last day in Fort Greene, we hung around shooting hoops until mad late. I can close my eyes and see it right now.

The fences are practically empty. The sun is just starting to go under. Turn around three. Swish.

"Starks!" I said.

"Shut up, everybody knows that Starks is a bitch."

"What? Are you kidding me? John Starks is the nicest player on the Knicks, no question."

"Ha, that’s funny. The Knicks would be champions right now if he hadn't missed that shot!"

"I'm sick of hearing about that shot. How come nobody remembers that Ewing could've put in the lay up?"

"It doesn't matter. There's no way you can tell me that John Starks is better than Ewing. And what about my man Mason? Anthony Mason would crush Starks one on one. Anthony Mason would lock him up!"

That's the way it was, and the way it's been forever, since kids played stickball and argued about Mickey Mantle or whoever. We were fourteen years old, and the next morning Jason was gone. At the time it seemed crazy for him to leave, but give it seven years and every person who was on the court that day would either be in college, fucked-up, Manhattan money making, or seven years older in the same damn place. But nobody told me back then that things changed like that. Back then, it sure as hell didn't seem like my leg would ever give out, and that I'd be twenty-one years old with a bad knee. But it's true. It happened. Can you believe that? Twenty-one years old, and I can't even ball anymore.



I guess that's why I've been getting kind of nostalgic about the courts recently, because this thing with my knee just went down a couple months ago. I'm still real torn up about it too, and the worst part is, I don't even know how it happened, really. One day I woke up, and my knee was shot. That's it. End of story. I knew right away too. I woke up in bed with A, and I knew it. A's my girl. She was still asleep. I lay there and tried to bend my leg. I tried, but I couldn’t. After a while I gave up, rolled over, and started kissing on A's neck. She woke up smiling. Man, just thinking about how nice she looks when she's waking up is going to make me lose track of this story completely! Anyways, she opened her eyes, and she saw the look on my face right away.

"What's wrong?" she said.

"Something's going on with my knee," I told her. "It doesn't feel right. It feels…wet inside."

"You just need to rest it baby," she told me, and went back to sleep.

Shit, I've been resting it for two months now, and it doesn't get anything but worse every day. I don't even want to say it again, but I'm thinking that my basketball days are over. But that's not the story I'm trying to tell, so let me jump back to 2001.

It was the first time I had ever been to Queens in my life, except for those trips to see the Mets, which I don't count. I was up there to see this girl I'd met the weekend before. She had mentioned that I should come through on this party, so I got the address and took the 7 train all the way up. But from the moment I showed, there were a whole bunch of dudes staring me down. I was with this girl, so I asked her, “What's with your friends?” She told me that she didn't know, but it wasn't a mystery. I mean, here's some kid they never seen before, coming up from Brooklyn and trying to put it on their girl. I was feeling real unwanted, so I told the girl that we should dip out of there and go back to her place. She wasn't having it though. She told me that she had to go to the bathroom, and left. I waited around for a while until I realized what was up. She hadn't “gone to the bathroom,” and she wasn't coming back. The girl had dissed me, and there were still those guys with nothing better to do than give me cold looks. I decided that it was time to go home. Sometimes you just gotta take the L, and laugh it off.



So I leave the party, and start walking to the subway, or at least I think that's where I'm walking. I guess I’m not paying attention though, because the next thing I know I'm standing in a damn parking lot by the river. The wind is blowing, and there's nothing for as far as I can see but factories and bad housing. Confused, I try to retrace my steps, but I just end up back at the same exact place. I really don't know how I did that, and to be completely truthful with you, I'm starting to get a little worried. Especially since coming up the block all of the sudden are about ten kids, laughing and throwing bottles. And like I said, I had never even been to Queens before, and these kids are big. Bottom line, I'm not going to lie, is that now I’m shook. Wouldn't you be? It's three in the morning, and I don't know where I'm at or where I'm going. All I can do is put my head up, and try to walk right past them like I don’t even notice they’re there.

So that’s what I did. I thought that I was in the clear too, until I heard somebody shout, "Hey white boy."

I stopped in my tracks and turned around, but didn't say a word. What was I supposed to say? All I could think to do was to take my hands out my pockets.

"Hey Jessie," the same voice said. "Is that you?"

One of these guys knew my name?

"Yeah?" I said.

"Yo Jessie, It's me, Mateo!"

"You know this white boy, Mateo?"

"Jessie's my boy," Mateo said, "we used to ball together all the time back in Fort Greene."

"Mateo," I said, walking over to him. I couldn't believe it. It was the same Mateo as the little eleven-year-old court rat trying to get into everybody's game and calling all that bullshit. "Damn son, I didn't recognize you, you're mad tall! I can't tell you how good it is to see you." It was all true, the part about being happy to see him, and the part about him having grown. He must have been six-foot three, and he had a purple North Face hood up over his face. It didn’t matter though, it was Mateo no doubt, and all of the sudden it was like we were back drinking fifty-cent Island Soda and waiting for the high school kids to finish their game.



He laughed, and gave me a hug. "Good to see you too," he said.

"Where have you been?" I asked.

"I moved to Hunter's Point like three years ago," Mateo told me, "Vernon Boulevard. You still in Park Slope?"

"Yeah," I said.

"You still can’t drive the lane?" he asked.

"Can’t drive? Please, all I do is dunk." I told him.

"Let me ask you something else. What the hell are you doing way out here by yourself on the pier?"

"That's what I'm saying," I said, "I'm lost. I've never been to Queens in my life. Before I saw you, I didn't even know I was in Hunter's Point."

"You never been to Queens?" Mateo's friends all started howling. They couldn't believe it. I guess it's not just a Brooklyn thing after all. No matter what borough, wherever you from is the planet. We stood around talking about old times for a minute, but Mateo's crew was getting antsy, so he took me to the subway. Mateo promised to come through the old spot sometime, and I get got out of Queens as quickly as I could.

Now that's a true story and it just goes to show, when you spread love, that love comes back. Here I am one minute, lost in Queens, thinking I'm about to get jumped, and the next minute I'm laughing and being treated like fam. That's my word. It doesn't matter whether you're in Hunter's Point, Park Slope, or five hundred miles away from The Planet, out in the great American Solar System, the love you give comes back. John Starks retires ranked16th all-time in career three pointers and the Knicks give him a job heading “fan development.” You teach a kid to ball and you get somebody to play with. You wake up one morning, and your knee’s gone out, and you’re lying in bed next to the most beautiful girl that you’ve ever seen, in your entire life.

THE END

Eddie Grffin, Rest in Peace



As I believe has been reported on this site at some point, I once had a fantasy basketball team named, “The Troubled Griffin,” a fact which makes me feel like kind of a dick today. The moniker was never meant to make fun of Eddie Griffin or his very real troubles, but rather the uncreative sports media that couldn’t seem to mention his name without also mentioning his troubles. But, as has become painfully clear, his troubles dominated his life and ultimately consumed him, so perhaps it was appropriate (or at least accurate) that we fans were never allowed to see him another way.

Since the one thing most basketball fans know about Eddie Griffin is that he was really fucked up, it’s surprising to me to read some of the takes I’ve seen from the MSM this morning (okay, really just the takes proffered in this column). The familiar axis of NBA evil is dragged out once again: a mercenary high school and amateur basketball system, leaving college early, a lack of male authority figures in the black community, having a posse, etc. I’m frankly offended that the real cause of Griffin’s troubles is nowhere to be found—that he clearly suffered from mental illness. The tragic fact of his story is that, even with all of the financial advantages accorded an NBA player, Griffin couldn’t get the help he needed.

Granted, Griffin’s recluctance to get help played a role, as did the deference he was given from an early age as a basketball prodigy, but the point remains that many people in this country in situations completely dissimilar from Griffin’s suffer from mental illness that is not identified and treated adequately. The unwillingness of people to even discuss this issue in this case illustrates how far we as a society have to go in the way we deal with mental illness.

As a postscript, I want to make it clear that I’m not absolving Griffin of personal responsibility, but to some extent, blaming Eddie Griffin for not cleaning up his act and becoming a stand-up citizen is equivalent to asking someone with Parkinson’s if they could please stop twitching all the time.

8.21.2007

Eddie Griffin. R.I.P.



(Consider this the counterpoint to Dr. LIC's warm appreciation)

Back when Kobe was facing charges, I used to hassle the Recluse for an expert opinion. As awful as this sounds, I really didn't want to lose the experience of watching Bryant play. I know that I'm supposed to have a conscience, and view sports as more than self-contained spectacle. In this case, though, I selfishly enjoyed Kobe Bryant's game that much. I imagine that, if Vick hadn't already loudly announced his pro limitations, I might be feeling some of that over his plea.

It's been years since I bemoaned the loss of Eddie Griffin the athlete. When he came into the league, he embodied everything my basketball awareness holds dear. On the court, he ping-ponged back and forth between swag and utter serenity; his presence was sketchy and yet utterly thick with implication, like it was only a matter of time before something amazing came into focus.

Here's the thing about Eddie Griffin, though: above all else, he was a deeply flawed human being. The Recluse brought up Len Bias; Bias had his heart give out in an era when everyone did blow. That's bad luck—we should feel sympathy for him, but it's also okay to wish otherwise as sports fan. It's not even crass for the Celtics faithful to lament what his death did to their franchise.

Len Bias is a tragedy because of what he could've been; Griffin, on the other hand, was doomed from the beginning. In some ways, he might as well have never been an NBA player. His demons were going to run him down sooner or later, and that wondrous game of his? In the end, it existed only to remind us all how little it actually mattered.

R.I.P. EDDIE GRIFFIN


[These are words of praise, after a 22 point, 12 rebound night by EG]

As the Brown Recluse, Esq. put it, he's "got to have the saddest NBA story ever. Maybe even sadder than Bias." I would have to agree. Wherever Eddie Griffin went, bad things hovered. Probation violations, the near shooting of his ex-girlfriend, alcohol and drug abuse, careless driving. I'm sure the masturbation jokes are flying right now on ESPN message boards, but Griffin deserves proper commemoration. His style of play was one of the most interesting things I have ever seen. Downright weird, savant, brilliant. He would chuck three-pointers in a line-drive fashion that would give the ball vitriolic backspin. Next thing you know, he would collect three blocks in a row, or get tip dunks off of his teammates missed shots.

I was sad to see him get waived from the Timberwolves, a consequence of bad timing, as the Timberwolves were trying to set a standard of "character" after the Cassell and Sprewell flare-ups (not to mention the anti-SexBoat/Whizzinator sentiment looming around the Twin Cities). Griffin deserved a spot. I always wished he wound up back in Houston, where he could have been the ideal player to help Yao on the glass, give him a spell, and learn ancient secrets from Mutombo. Griffin was a unique talent who never fully realized his own potential. Now he is reduced to the fifth headline on ESPN.com for a day, not even receiving Cory Lidle treatment.

The saddest part is that Griffin died last week. It took dental records to identify his burned body, so the story could not be released with full veracity until now. He will be missed by all of us here, and his style will eternally subsist within the game's odd angles and idiosyncrasies, a Josh Smith block, a Tyson Chandler rebound, an Al Harrington heave.

Descartes and His Mummy



I had two things happen to me this Sunday that made me feel like an island. One, I went to a Mariners game and felt nothing. At least not anything that had to do with the appreciation of sport. Also, I got reminded that Adrian Peterson is now in the NFL, so that makes three players I'll watch. I fucking hate straight lines and hard-earned inches, but a back who uses space creatively makes me as chipper as any NBA All-Star. Seeing all edges of the field at once is pretty tantamount to sublime court vision, which is why I think someone like Peterson—not Chad Johnson—practices the most basketball-friendly kind of football.

Anyway, after an inning or two at the ballpark, I got into an argument with a friend on, surprise surprise, the NBA vs. MLB. She's a baseball snob, which means she thinks her game is the king of kings; as illustrated above, I can scarcely be bothered to acknowledge that "sport" exists as a general category, which is at least representative of a few other NBA fans I know. The culprit in all of this was those intro songs they play at every at-bat, which are either symptomatic of or a direct cause of baseball's return to goodwill. She insisted that they also proved how massive 'twas the sport's cult of personality. I sneered that, on the contrary, they were to create one where there was none.



I know that some of you probably enjoy the national pastime, and I certainly have a soft spot for much of its pre-1988 history. As a youth, I regularly snuck Bill James into services, and was obsessed with Pete Reiser and Herb Score when FreeDarko was negative eighteen years old. I still get chills from seeing a triple, since no other athletic event so deftly combines human excellence and circumstance's chaotic indifference. But there's no way it exudes individuality like the NBA does. The easiest way I can prove this: having intro music for NBA players would be outright redundant. As lame as Pharrell's ad campaign of a few years back was, it made one thing clear: NBA stars don't need soundtracks to define them. They make people want to make music. They get name-checked in lyrics because their respective games stake out meaning on their own.

That's as close as I can come to defining style. And that's why pitchers—the most FD position of them all—rely on their theme music less than anyone else in the sport.

8.19.2007

In the Land of Spiny Columns



Some moons and swamps ago, FreeDarko laid forth The Song of the Positional Revolution. The title was somewhat deceptive, as we could hardly claim that the old rules were dead, or that success rate was faltering. The long and short was thus: a singular star like Kevin Garnett could not be asked to carry a team by doing everything at once. What KG needed to do was just do KG, carving out a featured role for himself made up of original priorities. It would then be incumbent upon his coaches and personnel brokers to put players around him who complemented this authentic Garnett.

During a long conversation with Ziller this past Friday, I realized how wrong this all had been. It's all fine and good to wish liberation on stars—liberation from both the formulaic game and the burden of versatility. However, this revolution cannot begin at the top with a demi-god exerting a tyranny of style upon his team and organization. There is simply no assurance that those around him can adjust to a reworking of the traditional order.



In fact, I now believe that the true prophets are martyrs, who sacrifice their featured status for the good of the structural whole. And they must do it all so everyone around them, be they great or small, are free to cast off their shackles and find themselves. Thus, there are two key moments in this tale: when one man becomes the ultimate working-class super-hero, and when his teammates go on inner quests to become themselves.

It should come as zero surprise that in this new telling of things, no figure looms larger than Shawn Marion. Nash's virtuosity is the life-force of Phoenix, and Amare's unhinged intensity its most asymmetric weapon. But laugh not: it is Marion that allows for both of these men to play like they do. As TZ pointed out, Marion is widely regarded as a system player, and yet every team in the league wants someone like him. That's because, ladies and gentlemen, Marion is the system . . . or, indeed, THE MATRIX. Nash and Amare's strengths are, in part, a function of Marion, bringing up the whole chicken/egg problem of "complementary" players. And their weaknesses are certainly masked by his mutant contributions.



Perhaps it is facile to use the Suns as an example of all that could be in any way. What, then, of that dastardly forgotten Heat team of '04, whose roster resembled nothing if not outright nonsense? And yet they nearly squirmed their way into the Conference Finals, behind the late-season invention of one Dwyane Wade. Wade, who had been slotted at point guard for most of the year, suddenly began to jut forth in a way that acknowledged his position while invoking MJ.

This hatching only happened for the grace of Lamar Odom. Up until that point in his pro life, Mar Mar had been entrusted with the sacred legacy of Magic Johnson. The Clips waited on him to run their team, and yet were hamstrung by his spacey judgment and lack of aggressiveness. In Miami though, Odom held everything together because he committed to the glass, stepped out only when necessary, and used his size, passing and ball-handling to exploit mismatches. That last one was instead of his Los Angeles style, which amounted to a never-ending attempt to prove he was everyone's mismatch. With this human foundation in place, Wade could look for his shot, and a team that consisted of Caron Butler, Rasual Butler, Brian Grant, Udonis Haslem, and Rafer Alston defied all rational expectations.



Another, less-heralded, member of this club is Antawn Jamison. Jamison has long fascinated the committee here at FreeDarko, in large part because of his plushly angular scoring style. But it's absolutely key to remember that Jamison, rather than cursing his brethren with the stench of tweener-ness, holds together an otherwise scraggly bunch. Jamison can work in the paint on both ends, and yet also hits three's and a variety of eccentric runners. While he may not be a true slasher or pounder, his touch and unique grasp of spatial ruptures allows him to provide in these two ways. This compensates for the Wiz's non-existent big men, and, as with Marion and Nash, provides Arenas insurance.

Granted, Odom was swapped for uber-principle Shaq, and, due to either Kobe, the triangle, or the ability vacuum around him in Los Angeles, has yet to regain his 2003-04 form. And Jamison is a somewhat accidental candidate, as he happens to be the only decent size on a team of scorers. That is, until Blatche's time comes. Sidenote: I am not quite sure what relation the triangle has to do with this dream. Pippen is pre-history, but he might have happened without Phil. On the other hand, you could make the argument that the Bulls' offense was possible only because of Pippen; this would put him in a position much like Marion is vis a vis the Suns' system.



In the end, though, all this comes back to Garnett. I suggested to Tom that Marion was more valuable than KG, then realized this was just because Garnett has never been used like Marion. The pre-Avery Dirk, and what we expect Durant to be, are in keeping with the original definition of the Revolution. They inhabit the foreground, and exist to get buckets with some big man dividends. The same could be said for Webber, who was an elite power forward with some guard skills.

Garnett may be the most talented player in the Association, but to achieve his true destiny he must retreat from the spotlight and become the firmament. This has always been his wish; hopefully, the situation in Boston will let others see how right he has been all along. Like him, the Positional Revolution becomes most radical when the inflamed individual is transubstantiated into a form of basketball logic.



Business: So wow, I guess we've raised a thousand dollars. At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I hope we can keep these trickling in. For those of you going with the $1/month program, I hope you'll keep up with it. And as promised, the super-secret stats section will be going before '07-08 starts braying.

8.16.2007

Live to Rise Again



I take back everything I've said and felt. Today is special. PAUL SIMON VERSUS CONNIE HAWKINS.

If you haven't, go read my latest extended post about J.R. Smith and the purpose. Also, Seattlest interviewed me, and I thank them for it.

The Iron Clatter of Shared Indignities



It seems like so close to now that J.R. Smith was teetering on the brink of illegal. Then, someone somewhere—maybe in the control room of the big palace where they mete out justice—realized that dude had accidentally killed his best friend, and just might have learned his lesson already. That and no one had seat belts on, which is kind of like getting beat down while wearing a Jose Padilla tall tee.

So this site's second or third patron saint managed to avoid incarceration. Big sigh of relief. What I’ve climbed down from the night sky to comment on is another milestone for the Prince of Denver: yesterday on Florida Today, he got referred to as "enigmatic." That right there is tremendous; it's nothing less than a normal sports writer admitting that, like it or not, J.R. Smith is powerful in exactly the way FreeDarko wants him to be.

Sports are by and large about all types of masculine exertion. Physical, intellectual, playing, talking, a large portion of the culture surrounding pro athletics has to do with complete and total will imposition. That's why people talking on the subject are way too invested and usually only partly coherent: above all else, they want to be right. If sports and politics have anything in common, it's that both eschew the rhetoric of compromise or sympathy until well after the show is over (yes, even sometimes during the NBA regular months).



Sad to say, but many people writing about sports do so with the same mindset as those playing or coaching the game. This is supremely fucked up, since critical thinking is supposed to complement the sanguine crawl of battle. They don't consider themselves lowly fans, as we well know. Instead, they're experts, pundits whose command of the knowledge is the mindly equivalent of every big play they ever saw. If Norman Mailer could conceive of literature as prizefighting then damn it, their weekly column or radio spot is going to be their own private Polo Grounds.

That's why I find the occasional deployment of "enigma" so positively remarkable. In essence, it’s the sports section admitting that it can’t even pretend to figure someone out. Sure, part of it is “I have no fucking clue what this zany fella will pull out next from his proverbial wide-brimmed hat.” But there’s also the sense in which any and all blanket generalizations will fail. He’s not a thug. He’s not a bum. He’s not a cancer. He’s not an asset. He’s not a raw talent. He’s not a bargain. He’s a mess of some it all, and thus not even any of it. J.R. Smith defies even those dead set on defining him for easy consumption.



In theory, this is what all athletes should be. Archetypes are great and everything, but they’re an awfully reductionist way of considering fairly vibrant public figures. Fuhbaw wrote this passage about the NFL which I rather liked, despite my having decided to boycott all games not involving Tomlinson or Reggie Bush next season:

football, on the other hand, is mythology. not in the sense that it is a thing of the past, but it is modern mythology, real tangible connection between the ideas that shape our world and ourselves. in the same way that the greek gods could be petty, because they were real, the uglier truths can exist without threatening the fabric that connects us, the fans, to the sport.

I totally agree, and yet find myself disheartened over what it spells. They are myths on earth, archetypes made honest by their ugliness and imperfection. It’s a way of saying that lo, gods can be a part of our lives because they are as busted as us. At the same time, we can aspire to their noble contours because our noise, cracks, and vomit is, like theirs, ultimately incidental. At the end of the game and in the core of us all there is transcendence, even if slime paves its own way up to the doorstep. That’s football’s heaven on earth, and that’s the version of mankind it feeds into. Not suprisingly, it’s the same pattern of thought that turns revolutions bloody and, makes fascism out of swarmed hope.



Maybe I’m biased, but I think that the NBA does otherwise. Some may see a lack of moral clarity, pits of ambiguity, and some drastic breaks with the usual sport-swallowing. But in this moment of J.R. Smith, as I did with the Warriors this May, I see the absolute crystallization of why I love this game, why T-Mac or Arenas will always confound cliché. At its best, professional basketball lionizes humanity—many versions of it, in all its uneven goodness. We marvel not at how grand or bluntly symbolic its order is, but at how radiant the peaks and valleys of man’s soul can be. That is the player, the season, the player’s season.

I don’t want to be told that I can be like them. Instead, I want them to uplift what I already know myself to be.

8.14.2007

Hark and Listen Hard



No internet at the apartment yet, and Seattle costs a lot more than Houston. Hence my quietness this week.

This is about links, and will be short. As some of you know, there are more sports blogs in this country than there are televisions and fingers. They all cull material from the same internet, and many times these sources are much more gigantic operations that just lack in know-how or brand credibility.

Admittedly, I've gotten salty about not being linked to before, but that was only when I found a video or photo that was buried deep within YouTube or Flickr. I'm not saying that no one else could have found them, but they didn't, and might not have if even if they had been looking. On the other hand, anything that lives in a a less wild and democratic media platform ( e.g. a newspaper) is out there. Even the local stuff can be turned up in a matter of seconds these days. Chances are, we're all going to find it, because there are plenty of bloggers whose daily toil consists of grabbing things to link to. Finding it first is hardly a noteworthy achievement, since it was never really "found" in the first place. There's a difference between finding treasure in a junk store and being the first person to check David Foster Wallace out of your public library.

Some of you may know that I like The Wire. Think about this: the blog game is just like the dope game, but the territory is the links. Now, what's more important, trifling over who got their post up first, or taking the time to say the best shit we can about breaking news? Really, there's only like four blogs that need to be curating daily lists of links, because those are the ones that have the traffic, the cohesive identity, and the resources to pull this off on a grand scale. Everyone else should be trying to form some non-obvious ideas about whatever happened. Because even if someone were to click over through the "via so and so" route, there's no guarantee they'd even remember they'd been there if all they saw was sports-talk-y tripe and a link. More street ministry: taking over a corner doesn't make it yours indefinitely, and certainly nothing's happened to identify your crew with anything lasting or meaningful (i.e. product).

There is so much time being wasted over this links business that I'm sick. You can call me Stringer, and I fully expect to be shot dead in an abandoned building over this. Because just as there's no rep in the streets without defending turf, the blogosphere ranks would dwindle to nothing if you actually expected people to write well and stop thinking they're reporters. Who, incidentally, are often themselves using the exact same material as everyone else standing next to them in the locker room.

8.13.2007

Cramp Sandwich



Look, I know I promised some important posts this week. This despite the fact that I'm still not yet fully settled. However, I started them all, and decided they were all bullshit. They included:

1. NBA snobbery is the new hip-hop, and the new Soviet avant-garde, in that it's both populist and elitist. This had something to do with moving to Seattle, but devolved into football-bashing.

2. "Badness," in sports and art, is played out, and only means something anymore if it's shot through with traces of decency. Then it can be both resilient and human. This theory explains both Freeway and The Wire. And actually, if you go back to the term's sixties origins, there always was that backward glance at optimism and productivity. Then I ended up attacking Allen Iverson and got bored.

3. Clay Bennett and his goons are beyond worthless, like if they were players this would be point-shaving and holding out combined in one. Oh, and they're also the professional athletics equivalent of Tom DeLay and will find hell accordingly. No one needs to hear me stick up for blue states.

Instead, here's the most profound words/image combo I've seen in a decade. Skeets (after I Heart KG) inadvertently made me look at Al Jefferson's site, which included his breathtaking logo. I'm sure some of you were in talented and gifted classes as children, so you remember tangrams real well.



And then I found this free-associative interview with Jefferson in the Pioneer Press. My thinking, which I might flesh out at a less defeated date, is that the key elements of this correspond to key geometric events in the logo. Any fool can see it spells "Big Al," but I'm trying to see how also encompasses key aspects of Jefferson's persona like dinosaurs, time machines, Mississippi, and a very cheery last supper. I like shit like The DaVinci Code and The Fifth Element; little did I suspect that Al Jefferson would lend himself most readily to this treatment of all the players in the Association.

8.09.2007

Stark Lane of Dutiful Bounties





That day has arrived. Starting right now, you can click on over to the FreeDarko Imperial Market and pre-order two of those SI-inspired shirts we promised. They should be ready shortly, we are printing more than ten of each, and the finished product will have "FreeDarko" emblazoned on the sleeve for branding purposes. But for now, you can be the first on your block to say you copped one. Cost is $25 plus shipping, and they're on American Apparel. The Recluse is en route to a wedding and I've had to put them up myself, so apologies for anything that seems horribly awry. And by all means email us with any questions or concerns.

Two other shirt bits of note:

-If you gave $30 or more to the pledge drive, you're getting one of these for free. We know who you are and will be in touch soon. This stealth offer is officially over.

-SWAG shirts at a cut rate to celebrate our low sales on them. They're now $10 each, and something tells me Arenas isn't quite done with that concept yet.

Also, I'm working on some heady posts for next week. Seriously, once I have my own apartment I am going to grind like no one's business.

8.08.2007

The Realest I Ever Wrote



Shit's deep. Thanks to Ziller for the major, major software tutorial, and to some guy in China for inspiring me to new heights of meaning.

8.06.2007

Nutrient's Welp



I'm a little emotionally spent on this whole KG situation. At this point, I have rationalized that it seems like the lesser of many evils for him to wind up in Boston and for the Timberwolves to finally have a watchable team again. The whole thing was just getting too tense and exhausting. We were speaking in coded languages and muffled tones. I've put on a smile in knowing that at very least, all the kind people within a 50 mile radius Target Center can exhale. Let's get back to basics.



See, I was around in the Pooh Richardson days. The Christian Laettner years and the JR Rider era. Back when Doug West was Mr. Timberwolf. Sam Mitchell was Yoda. Those days weren't as dark as they told you about. We had fan favorites like Mike "The Big Brown Bear" Brown. James "Hollywood" Robinson. Myron Brown. Weird proto-Euros like Gundars Vetra, Stojko Vrankovic, and Shane Heal. The novelty of having an actual NBA team in our downtown area never really wore off. And then came KG, and everything changed. The standards got raised too quickly. Stephon Marbury. Joe Smith. Malik Sealy. Sam Cassell's hip. Flip Saunders squandering everything (which is my own trademarked theory that you can read about in practically every post I've ever put on this blog). And now here we are, the most potentially FD team of the new millenium, save for those pesky 2006 Bobcats and Hawks.

I didn't come to talk about the Timberwolves, however. I'm past the point of caring. The only real benefit that I can discern from the KG trade is a crucial step on the path first braved by Gilbert Arenas, and aided by Baron Davis' bullet Fedora. A watershed moment for the League Of Stars onward march. That is: The recognition of pure CELEBRITY on smaller market/non-contending teams. Finally, KG is in the spotlight where he belongs. As much as Denver has diminished AI's profile, the Celtics have boosted KG's X 1000. For this, I can shed a little love on Boston. There are secret stars, roaming the NBA that the average fan never hears about. Throughout the past two years, Gilbert's quirks have opened the door to a virtual Narnia of small-market blazing gold NBA personalities. The world must know the name of these men: the Rashard Lewis's, the Chris Boshes, the Joe Johnsons. These are people of substance. They have important friends and awesome cars. Kevin Garnett is a POWERFUL HUMAN BEING and the world should know him for his George Gervin cool as much as for his Sabonis-meets-Bill-Russell ballskills.


[Photos found via the KFAN.com message board]

And KG isn't even the illest dude in the league, personality-wise. I had to laugh when Simba wrote:

At a post-ESPYS party earlier this month, the sight of KG gliding through the Mondrian's pool bar at 2 a.m. caused even the drunkest people there to do a double-take. Along with Shaq, he's one of the two NBA stars who literally stops any room. I actually remember watching him walk by and thinking, "Wow, we've never had somebody that cool on the Celtics."

Now clearly LeBron, Kobe, or AI hold more star power in terms of "making a room stop." I felt that Simmons was being homerish in giving KG THAT much dap. But that is the entire effect I'm talking about. KG is that dude, and people on ESPN are saying so. Again, a large step for the League of Stars crusade.

So, thank you, Boston for this moment. Let the world gaze upon KG's swag. And let them see the swag of Paul Pierce as well as Ray Allen. This league is bursting with life that has been stowed and shackled behind too much repetitive TNT/ESPN programming. Wade, LeBron, and Melo bore me to tears compared to what we saw from Stephen Jackson last playoffs. Caron Butler could teach the world to sing, yet we are forced to stare at the routine dismantling of foes by the Spurs and Mavericks. And even a Nash-to-Stoudemire ally-oop is mute when compared to so many of these words:

"I'm happy to know that I'm going to be in Minnesota for the rest of my life. That's a good thing. At the end of the day, I'm a Timberwolf. I bleed blue and green. I'm a loyal person, I don't like to change a lot of things. I like things to be simple."

"I'm going to be here until they don't want me anymore. ... I'm 'Sota, man. This is where I live, 365 days -- or in leap year, 366 days -- of the year. I'm here. Life is tough. You can't run from everything."

"I'm Minnesota. The Target Center ... that's the Garnett Center!"

These quotes need to be heard just as much as 'Sheed's guarantees, Shaq's proverbs, and Arenas' quips. The Association is greater than the Association. These individuals are Bird, and Magic, and Michael, and Isiah, and Hakeem reimagined. KG may still never see another second round playoff series in his life, but at least he will have continued to blaze that trail to allow other stars of the future in crappy situations and in cold small towns get known by NBA enthusiasts all over the globe.


Modern Problems


By all means read my lengthy post on the current Timberwolves. But I'll be damned if I wasn't going to slap this clip up on FreeDarko the second I discovered it.

8.05.2007

Reinvitiation to a Barf Growing



I would hope that some of you have asked yourself the question "why did Bethlehem Shoals beg for our financial support, pledge increased activity, and then fade in and out like the nuclear dawn?" Well, the answer is big and plain: I haven't had a home, and while I've experienced much hospitality, I've also been semi-visiting people since Independence Day. Now, the march appears to be over. I live in Seattle, and sign a lease tomorrow. Then, the deluge.

I also have been quite worried for my colleague Dr. LIC in these last few days, and troubled by my inability to internet-rush to his aid. You all know of him as our resident Garnett angst-pourer, but it needs to be told: dude has some seriously legitimate ties to the earliest stages of this franchise. Thus, it hurts me internally for him to say that (paraphrased) he was first and foremost a Garnett fan. KG may be the most impossibly iconic and anthemic member of the Association, the kind of folk hero whose accessibility only benefits from cartoonish vitality. However, I don't think that the Great Doctor need throw aside his affinity for the Wolves, since home teams are perfectly excusable if someone outside of your town might likewise give a fuck. I would imagine that only makes liberated fandom sweeter—it's a kind of metaphysical bragging rights.



In service to my comrade, I decided to take up the unthinkable and take an honest look at the Minnesota roster. I know that to all the world, this team smells like a smoking crater. Upon inspection, however, there are some not altogether unpleasant secrets waiting to speak to us next year. Regardless of how much they lose, the Wolves should, in my humble judgment, be a League Pass favorite. I wouldn't be amazed if I end up seeing more of them than I do the Celtics; as I noted last week, there's a lot more here to surprise and discover.

For one thing, there's that transplanted Celtics bunch. I can't even tell you who Minny's coach is at the moment (Randy Wittman, whatever that means), but there's no way he's as hamstrung as Doc Rivers. Rivers is a shaky strategist who is at his best when he lets 'em play. In Boston, however, no one knew how to play, there were too many worthy (and needy) pieces to get out on the floor in any consistent, chemistry-salting way, and the fans wanted immediate gratification. Jefferson may not be a given All-Star, but with minutes and levity's confidence, he can grow into his game next season. Ryan Gomes has one of the finest barbers in the NBA, and in the West could turn into a swank, Luke Walton-esque helper. Gerald Green may be forever lost at sea, and yet in a supposed wasteland of a team his ability to throw up a streaky 15 might not be seen as false progress.



It's historically significant that this trade went seven-for-one, since that's never happened before. It also makes it far too easy to view it as "Minnesota got a mediocre Boston team," which it's actually a young nucleus made into welcome refugees. Fine, Garnett's willingness to play in Beantown makes it safe for black people; I still can't imagine why, at this juncture in America, the Celtics would be close to anyone's ideal professional situation. Especially for the young and wary (or naive). They've been liberated, and introduced to the already relatively hilarious Wolves pack of Ricky Davis, Randy Foye, McCants, Craig Smith, and new Face of the Francise Corey Brewer. Who, to exaggerate something the Recluse said, might be the second coming of KG in a few key ways to make The Cities forget.

I can't begin to tell you that this trade made Minnesota better. But it's certainly going to do better things for the persons they acquired, and stop the nightmare of Boston's being a exercise in faulty player development and draftee over-crowding. At the very least, we should be thankful that said knot has been set loose, and that so many intriguing figures have come to roost on one cloud. And if Telfair shows up with a straight face, there will be no end to the tears and punchlines we will bleed.