Big Time in Handyville

AKA Liberated Fandom Pt. 235982.

Sure, the term has been tossed around a lot on these parts, but to be totally honest, I've never been 100% comfortable with the concept. Following and obsessing over particular individuals scattered around the league doesn't quite work for me. As much as I love Zydrunas Ilgauskas, for example, I hate most of the rest of the Cavs team and don't want to have cheer for Larry Hughes in order for Z to do well. Same goes for Udonis Haslem, James Robinson, and Devean George. Love those guys, despise most of their teammates. Of course it's much easier to engage in liberated fandom with players from crappier teams, like, say Joe Johnson, because the teams are in complete disarray and nobody really affects anyone else's play...it's every man for himself.

What's more, with KG and the Timberwolves having existed as a mental cove for me for the past 10-12 years, liberated fandom was never my M.O. I had an allegiance from which I needed no liberation. To be quite honest, with KG gone now, things have changed. IN NO WAY WOULD I EVER JUMP SHIP AT A TIME LIKE THIS...i am as excited about this deranged Timberwolves team as I have been about any team in the past three years. The Timberwolves are always going to be my team and with Big AL-Jezeera leading the way probably even more so. I'm just saying, KG's departure has made liberated fandom more of a possibility, as I no longer feel the presence of the 7'1" dragon watching over me.

So, what is the compromise between pure liberated fandom and pure home-team allegiance? Adopting a team, as I imagine people in Montana, Kansas, and Louisiana are often forced to do. With no regard for the fact that many of my good friends are from Wisconsin, I am arbitrarily thinking about proclaiming the Milwaukee Bucks as my honorary favorite team this year, and following them with the same zeal that Shoals would follow Gerald Wallace, or Gilbert in his pre-Nevermind days and with the same dedication that the Brown Recluse, esq. would follow any number of Tar Heels.

Now, Milwaukee itself I have a lot of mixed feelings about. Actually, screw it. I don't like Milwaukee, and that's based on N = 1 experiences. I've heard tremendous things about Jake's and a lot of other hangouts that I evidently missed during my stay there...but the only time I went to Milwaukee, I ate a terrible sandwich near Marquette, spent most of my time at The Rave, and one of the guys I was robbed for $300. Consider this the second chance I'm giving Milwaukee. There's something about this Bucks team that just gets me.

They don't care. They know what they want, and they go get it. They make the players they want play for them. From the ridiculous Yi Jianlian situation with the Bucks' brass and Senator Kohl writing letters to the Chinese government, to overpaying Mo Williams, to giving the more recent Charlie Bell situation, where Milwaukee matched the Heat's offer sheet for him despite Bell begging them not to. They always seem to have five centers and five point guards on the roster. Desmond Mason is back. Bogut is nuts. Michael Redd is on a mission from God. Plus, I saw Dan Gadzuric chillin out at the Barrington Levy show at Chicago's Caribbean Festival a few weeks ago.

I can't even say whether or not Milwaukee is Freedarko this point (although Yi certainly has potential to be "Darko"). I don't even know if I actually like the Bucks or if I could ever forgive them after they did Terry Porter so dirty a couple years back. I just know I feel affected by them...and I want to know if I can feel any sort of sensation or emotion when Milwaukee wins or loses. Whether I rush to check their boxscores or if I devote significant League Pass hours to them when the Wolves aren't playing. This is an exercise in self-exploration and knowing the boundaries of self. Let the experiment begin.


At 9/25/2007 12:43 PM, Blogger goathair said...

Well said, DLIC. I chose the Grizzlies as my random team of the year.

Milwaukee anecdote: the one time I really hung out in Milwaukee I ended up jumping from roof to roof on a three-story building.

At 9/25/2007 12:59 PM, Anonymous Art Tatum Can't Handle said...

As a Kansan, I can assure you that the few of us that follow the NBA do, in fact, pick random squads to follow. For me, this year it's gotta be New Orleans- altho I'm not sure how much of that has to do with the Julian Wright pick. Something about that squad right now just intrigues the hell out of me.

At 9/25/2007 1:04 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

it's definitely a lot more satisfying to latch onto an entire team. though for me, that usually begins with a single player i'm in favor of.

At 9/25/2007 1:24 PM, Blogger Tim said...

Actually, Dr. LIC, I don't think the Bucks have any idea what they want. Larry Harris strikes me as one of those "thanks, dad" GM's who might know alot about the game, but has no idea how to apply that knowledge. Riley played him silly by jacking up the prices on Williams and Bell (all while Boykins could be resigned for cheaper). He vastly overpayed Redd because he had too, and he drafted Bogut instead of CP3 because it was the "right" move to make. Yi is also perplexing, and I doubt they drafted him for decent reasons as much as neuroses. Also, they let Ersan go back to Turkey or whatever and signed Desmond for way too much money. They don't know what they're doing. That's okay, though, I guess. Minny is gonna be alot more enjoyable to watch - and also the worst team in the league. You're gonna have quite a pair this year.

At 9/25/2007 1:26 PM, Anonymous Sweat of Ewing said...

Come hell or high water this season I will still watch the Bobcats. They might actually be good, too, and I almost wish they still weren't. Any team that starts Matt Carroll and MAKES SOMETHING OF HIM! is up there in my book. Watch him rebound, he's got some brass ones.

At 9/25/2007 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Bucks have always been entertaining goofballs: trading Kareem, the Don Nelson mad-scientist Paul Pressey/Jack Sikma years . . . the deceptively boring rut they fell into for a while there was but a facade, as anyone who watched any of those quintuple-overtime games where Michael Redd dropped 40 can attest.

At 9/25/2007 1:50 PM, Anonymous TZ said...

I cannot support the Bucks precisely because they let Ilyasova bounce. Also, Harris fired Terry Porter for Terry Stotts (!!) and he will never be forgiven for that, no matter how many Chinese gangsters he slaps down.

Memphis and Seattle should be everyone's favorite second team. I guess I'm lucky because the Kings could very well end up being the league's top WTF team, in terms of little rhyme or reason and thus entertainment value.

At 9/25/2007 4:32 PM, Blogger mfenster said...

I became a lifelong Bucks fan when Lew Alcindor was their center I was growing up in NYC and noticed I was taller than my classmates and decided basketball was the sport for me, the hook was the one shot I could make, and Kareem went to Power High. Kareem left Milwaukee, and so did championship basketball, but I stayed a fan. Oy.

TZ: They didn't let Ilyasova bounce -- they let him get some playing time and euros while he develops for two years. They still have the qualifying offer they made him on the table, which means they get first dibs on him if he comes back. The two year contract with Barcelona goes the same two years as the fulsome contract to Desmond Mason. The thinking is that in two years, Ersan may be ready to return, either Yi or Villanueva and Desmond Mason will be gone, and Ersan will be 22 (or 23, or 24, given controversies about his age) and ready to assume a 20 mpg role off the bench, or more.

At 9/25/2007 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason I can't follow players is my track record.

Too many Darius Miles' and Quentin Richardsons and Earl Boykins.

Don't even get me started about Darrell Armstrong.

At 9/25/2007 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt Carrol will NOT start.


Because God is NOT dead.

At 9/25/2007 7:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had high hopes for the Bobcats until Jordan came along. Morrison over Roy, J-Rich and his contract over a freak big man (Brandan Wright) and a new coach that he picked cause he was an old teammate (read some Mavs comments about how surprised they were that Vincent was hired as a head coach already...say what you will about the Mavs, but they do know something about good coaching). I miss Gramama.

At 9/25/2007 8:17 PM, Anonymous padraig said...

am I alone in my feeling that the Bucks are like a less spastic version of Knicks Midwest? I was going to say minus the drama, but that's not really true at all - more a totally different brand of drama - like the kind of ludicrous fake foreign policy drama on which some preening, awful Hollywood blockbuster starring George Clooney would hinge as opposed to the Knicks' Fatal Attraction Through the Isaiah Looking Glass vibe? of course, the idea of Herb Kohl causing an incident with China over a dude who is either Nellie's ultimate wetdream or a lamer 24 yr old version of Darko was, to me, the most entertaining moment of the off-season. Anyways, it's like the Bucks are Captain Beefheart - so weird that you know it can't possibly be the byproduct of drugs vs. the Knicks full-blown Piper at the Gates of Dawn trip. Or, in more modern terms the Knicks would be like Dr. Octagon to the Bucks' Edan or Deltron 3030 (although, admittedly this analogy lacks a Dan the Automator to tie it all together). yeah, or something.

personally, I'm thinking about turning on to the Clippers this year. especially given that their season was, more or less, destroyed by injuries by the middle of LAST season. I don't why, but I quite like the combination of a lumbering caveman, Maggette running wild and a wizened 42,000 yr old alien running the point, especially without brand around to provide some semblance of reality. if they get big sofo (whose wikipedia page, btw, mentions that he is "a black man's version of Shaquille O'Neal"), forget about it, especially if he's over 350 pounds. seriously, don't sterling and elgin baylor owe that to the 26 people who still care about the clippers?

At 9/25/2007 8:54 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

F*ck you, DLIC... I was just working on a post about finally understanding the appeal of the liberated fandom that Free Darko espouses, thanks to my recent foray into The Premiership (following my 'Tines, particularly Carlos Tevez). It's so... uplifting. But that may have to do with the baggage that comes from years of rooting for the Jets and Knicks.

Anyway, well said. Though I don't think the Bucks is right for you. Like everyone else, I'll suggest a team for you. Are the Raptors too "Suns 2004" for you? The Grizzlies?

Nah, the Bobcats (Felton+Richardson+Wallace+Okafor+Morrison's moustache = Free Darko?).

Can we put this to a vote? Maybe FD's first poll? Who should DLIC root for? Just hope that the Bulls fans don't stuff the ballot box....

wv: gladddy - a word to describe the happiness of a man hooking up with a stripper with implants.

At 9/25/2007 9:12 PM, Anonymous ....endtroducing said...

Nothing about Adam Morrison's mustache is freedarko.

At 9/25/2007 9:44 PM, Blogger whykiki said...

Ate a bad sandwich near the MU campus? You wouldn't have happened to have been at Ziggie's ("where the leaders of tomorrow eat today")?

(By the way, I love that place. But I have had an undercooked hamburger from there, on occasion.)

As to the Bucks, what's not to love? The three-headed (four, even? maybe?) monster of Bogut, Villanueva, &/or Yi &/or Gadzuric. Michael Redd's emergence from Ray Allen's shadow. (By the way, that move blows up in Ainge's face. J. Green over R. Allen, any day. But having Allen Ray & Ray Allen on the same team is, I suppose, "freedarko".) The combo guard that doesn't want to be here, with the point that shouldn't be as heavily tattooed (not because tattoos are bad, but his complexion doesn't lend to them showing well). A Pollack on the bench (who the UofU wanted to poach (those Mormons love my state's Polish-American Coaches Union types)). Great stuff.

At 9/25/2007 11:03 PM, Blogger Gregg said...

Milwaukee is a pretty fun city if you know what to do there, where to hang out. This season should definitely be interesting though. I'm assuming Yi will be terrible for most of the year but in a fascinating way.

These other guys are right about Ersan, too- the guy is sporadically awesome (so... FD) and will be a player to watch in a year or two.

At 9/26/2007 3:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beseeching an immaculate wisdom, we were conjured upon the green and blue.

Navigating inside and outside it, we disproved what we proved.

Finding no enemy in common, we found enemies in ourselves.

Begrudging each others possession, we found unevenness in us.

We found vanity dying out there in the war,

And we hadn’t any satisfaction in what we sought.

Leaving emotions in the shelf and prevaricating,

We masked our own intentions and contentions.

We leaved way for a surreptitious syndication

Healing no soul but peeling every layer of it.

The syndication sought to be clandestine

And the party was a masquerade of words and minds.

An intention to deceive followed by an intention to believe,

We float in a bed of roses where petals are lies.

Staging reality as heaven and realization as more

The world has become a province of the underworld.

The roots are proliferating to the sky

And for every reason we know it’ll come down

Even after it smashes the detours of the bitter symphony

We’ll relive the epic masquerade that is better left not lived.

my thots on the awful awful Laker offseason

At 9/26/2007 12:00 PM, Anonymous R. Friday said...

I used to go to Ziggie's all the time until a guy at my job cleaned his ice machine there (tons of mold a dirt inside it).

I always thought that Mo shouldn't have all those tats because his arms are so hairy.

I'm interested to see what happens to the Bucks this year since Simmons, Mason and Noel seems like it should be a log jam unless someone gets injured.

The thing I've noticed about Larry Harris is that he is a VERY smooth talker. I don't know if other GMs in the league are the same or not, but I can see him keeping his job for a while just on the strength of that.

At 9/26/2007 12:35 PM, Blogger whykiki said...

I caught an installment of (dun, dun, duh) 'Dirty Dining' on one of the local affiliates's late news, & Ziggie's was the featured eatery. & within a week, I was back there. Nothing will keep me away.

But to basketball. I can see the probability of Harris in Milwaukee for several more years, as he came here with his father, but never left. (Del, fired '92; Larry retained.) He's practically an institution in that front office, then.

At 9/26/2007 1:12 PM, Anonymous LTHR said...

The Beefheart analogy for Milwaukee is pretty spot on, although Beefheart may be a bit too sun-baked and expansive for Milwaukee. Some of the town's local-bred musical acts better compare to this year's Bucks. Think the Violent Femmes or Liberace, weirdness born of otherness and low self esteem. This lineup will give us outbursts of brilliance, but its too idiosyncratic to be sustained or taken seriously in the long run.

At 9/26/2007 2:23 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

FWIW, I'm DJing a public radio program in SLC today (1:30-3:00 MST) and will be playing both Beefheart and PatG-era Floyd. Stream it via http://krcl.org/listenlive.htm

At 9/26/2007 11:36 PM, Blogger T. said...

I'm picking the Bucks as my Eastern Conference thing. It's not 100% about Yi, although that might encompass a large part. I'm trying not to get hooked into the whole "following him just 'cause he's Chinese" but there's an element of truth.

At 9/27/2007 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Job!

You've shown you're clearly an idiot who really doesn't possess a significant amount of knowledge regarding the NBA and specifically the Bucks.

But you have a computer and a connection to the internet so you think people care what you think.

Well we don't.

"One of the guys I was robbed for $300".....what the hell does that even mean?

You ate a bad sandwich in Milwaukee? Great way to judge the city.

Five centers and five point guards? What the hell are you talking about?

Obviously you live somewhere that doesn't have a NBA team. Have fun in South Dakota or Iowa or Idaho or whereever the hell you live.

Milwaukee is a great town for those who live here and those who give it a chance.

Please stay out, you won't be missed.

At 9/27/2007 6:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ladies and gentlemen, the angriest man in Milwaukee.

At 9/27/2007 7:06 PM, Anonymous LTHR said...

See what I said about otherness and low self esteem?

At 9/27/2007 8:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Milwaukee is...lets just say its a city that is a step up from detriot and step down from minneapolis. It is a city thats just there. However, Milwaukee has a big underground punk music scene (LTHR). How do I know? Lets just say me and Matt Skiba are pretty much brothers.

Oh yeah, the bucks will get the 7th seed in the EC

At 9/28/2007 12:58 AM, Anonymous padraig said...

LTHR and various anon: Man, you dudes are triggering some memories. I haven't been there in like 3 or 4 years but back then there were a bunch of punk houses in River West (or East? whatever that neighborhood by the river's called), vaguely in the vicinty of Fuel Cafe I think. actually, the first summer I ever rode freight trains around the country when I was like 17 I wound up going to Metal Fest on a whim with some kids I met in Madison - which was, to put it lightly, not a good scene. THe city itself, however, was pretty fun, and it just seemed like once of those places where the downtown isn't any great shakes and kind of misleading to the town's character as a whole. Of course that was my own limited impression.

I can definitely see how Milwaukeeans could develop an inferiority complex of sorts but shit, there's quite a bit to be said for NOT being Chicago or Minneapolis, you know? If that makes sense. Milwaukee always kinda reminded me of a gentler Midwestern take on the Rust Belt's general aura of post-industrial decay (esp. like Pittsburgh or Buffalo maybe), but I love all that stuff, so maybe it's just me.

Also, doesn't Wisconsin generally have a pretty respectable punk/HC history? I mean, Die Kreuzen has got to be one of, if not the most underrated US hardcore bands of the early-mid 80s. Seriously, Madison's (I think) answer to Husker Du. If the Bucks could play like freaking Die Kreuzen they would immediately become my favorite team bar none.


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