FD Guest Lecture: And The Redeemed Innocent Fight On

John Krolik of Truth in a Bullet Fedora was excited about O.J. Mayo getting the FD treatment. So excited, in fact, that he sent me this ready-to-post essay that smoked anything I'd had in mind. Therefore, it is with great honor that we present it to you as the latest FreeDarko Guest Lecture.

I thought I'd say a few words about my USC class of '11 classmate O.J. Mayo, who has gotten an undeservedly bad rap from the pundits over the last few years. Going to school here, seeing O.J. around campus, and talking with friends who have classes with O.J., it's clear that he is nothing like the talking heads would have you believe. He's a nice guy who will be friendly with anyone regardless of whether or not they treat him like royalty.

Mayo goes to all his classes, including lectures, listens intently, pulls his weight on group projects, and is really interested in the material. (By the way, he takes actual GE requirement classes, not Golf, History of Rock and Roll, or (wince) Ballroom Dance.) He is never seen out partying, which is atypical of Trojan Athletes, even high-profile ones. He's the last one in the gym by hours. I saw him out on the row once, on my 2nd night here, and he was just sitting with the team cold sober, which is more than you can say about the author.

O.J. is one of the few hugely-hyped prospects whose game clashes with his image. He's got as much polish in his moves as Durant, and the best parts of his game—ballhandling, outside shooting, passing—are the parts of game that come from tireless work, while his hops and explosion ability are merely above-average. On a strictly basketball level, it could be argued that the resistance to O.J. is due to his position as a "shoot-first" point guard, which have never been beloved by the media (Francis, Marbury, et al.), while Rose is a "true" point.

However, O.J.'s shot is a significantly more efficient weapon than Francis, Marbury, and Iverson's, whose comparatively weak jumpers have always been weaknesses attributed to "laziness.", and their willingness to shoot their shaky jumpers in lieu of giving a shot to a teammate has been interpreted as "selfish." O.J.'s game most closely resembles that of Arenas, and while the media's reaction to Arenas is certainly a case with a sample size of 1, Arenas has never run into "selfish, lazy, Iverson-like playground play" backlash for his exploits on the court like O.J. already has; his prolonged fame, business savvy, and sense of showmanship on the court have already earned him a spot in Skip Bayless' "young black punk" throne for the next year or two.

And in defense of O.J.'s superfluous off-the-board dunk: he was 18. Last year, I came into pitch in the 4th inning with a 6-5 lead against another small private school, whose habit of making as much noise as possible during the our pitcher's windup had rattled our pitcher. They tried to pull the same crap on me, screaming for 4 innings and making an absolute frenzy in the last inning, but I shut them down and we won the game. Feeling the hubris of victory after striking out the last batter, I deliberately walked off the mound, stared at their dugout, and shouted "You're quiet now!" Our ex-navy coach heard and was not amused in the least.

If I were a national phenom, that would have been on PTI the next day and Wilbon would be calling me everything wrong with sports. And remember, this was a regular-season private school division 7 baseball game against New Jewish Academy, not the last game of a high school career that had made me a household name. The moral of the story: you do stupid stuff when you're 18. Leave him alone.

If anything, O.J.'s current rival, Derrick Rose, plays a much more unrefined, "blacker", game than O.J. does, with a lightning-quick first step and filthy crossover, unreal hops, and a shaky outside shot and little to no in-between game. Yet all of the words written about him praise his character and modest attitude, and I have yet to see any writer so much as imply that his work ethic is lacking. The question of "flash" also seems irrelevant here; O.J. seems to play the game with a bit more Rucker in him than Rose does, but who pulls off more Pistol Pete dribble moves and wrap-around passes than anyone in the league? Steve Nash, that's who. And anyway, Rose's crossovers and windmills separate him from the Mark Jacksons of this world.

Compare this to the LeBron/Carmelo debate of 2003, when their games seemed to match their personas: LeBron, the entitled and haughty one, had a game full of natural wonder and fundamental weakness, while Carmelo, whose character was initially beloved, had a college-proven game of jab-steps, spin moves, and mid-range jumpers. This was despite the fact that LeBron was a passer and Anthony a scorer, which is another hole in the "We like Rose better because he's a passer, not because he doesn't act black" argument.

When LeBron was later proven to be a business-minded family man of maturity far beyond his years, and Carmelo revealed as never having completely left the streets he came from, it was a clear indication that the media had allowed themselves to see what these young men were like off the court through what they were doing on it, which is the opposite of what we're seeing in the Rose/Mayo debate.

In recent years, we've come to taking what we like about people off the court and using it for a prism for what we see on it. Dwight Howard's game consists of jumping, muscle, and dunking, but since he is by all accounts a wonderful human being, he has never encountered backlash for the incompleteness of his game, and his displays of "swag," most notably the sticker, are symbols of youthful exuberance rather than megalomania. On the flip side, Rashad McCants is a refined scorer with a shot honed by hours and hours on driveways, but his punk attitude has led him to backlash. Zach Randolph and Kevin Durant are both artful scorers who can't play a lick of defense, but due to their difference in attitudes, Randolph's defense is a problem of laziness, while Durant's defense is a problem of inherent disadvantage. Neither of them pass, but Durant's scoring is a manifestation of his devotion to winning, while Randolph is a cancer.

I've bitten off way, way more than I can chew with this one, but basically it's interesting to see when the pendulum swings between game dictating personality, as it was in 2003, and personality dictating game, as it is with Mayo/Rose, especially when LeBron/Carmelo proved just how little we really know about players off the court. Instead of rushing to create "personas" for the players we watch, we should accept that the link between how a man does his job and who he really is remains, at best, an unsure one; if we can accept Enron executives as caring family men once they step out of the office, why can't we accept swingmen who dribble too much and need to work on their shot as upstanding members of society?


At 10/16/2007 3:09 AM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

Mayo's current game would be easier for me to take if he hadn't divested himself of the one characteristic that won him LeBron comparisons so many years ago: his unnaturally terrific court vision at such a young age. For as long as I can remember, Iver Anderson, Franchise, and Starbury have been shoot-first point guards; I don't expect anything else out of them. The fact that OJ played with another All-American in high school and still changed his game makes it even more troubling to me. Frankly, I think it's made him a worse and less exciting player, and that's annoying.

That said, I think most people in the media don't know shit about OJ as a HS sophomore, so your tremendous paragraph right before the costumed dog picture still rules. I wish I'd written that one.

Out of all the college games I'll see in person this year, I am most looking forward to USC's trip to Maples Pavilion.

At 10/16/2007 4:28 AM, Anonymous db said...

Pretty good stuff, it's only when you or someone you know ends up in the media a lot that you realise how little what gets presented represents real life. The storyline rules all.

Re: Durant, didn't it come up somewhere the other day that he was one of Spencer Hawes' close friends? That would explain a hell of a lot about the media coverage.

At 10/16/2007 5:23 AM, Blogger T. said...

First off, excellent stuff. I realized I've been just as guilty as the MSM of believing the pot-smoking/Simba stereotype of OJ Mayo as anyone - as evidenced by 7 or 10 months of trash talk posted on my USC friends Facebook walls.

But now that I think about it - many of my friends smoke and I don't think of them as thugs. Or even pot heads. Color me a hypocrite. Duly noted.

At 10/16/2007 10:30 AM, Blogger Tim said...

Krolik, you're a monster, great piece. From what I've seen so far Mayo actually reminds me more of a very good version of Larry Hughes. I guess 2004 Hughes with better court vision. I might be jumping the gun, though.

At 10/16/2007 10:43 AM, Anonymous TZ said...

Tremendous work, Krolik. Honestly, this and the SLAM piece are the only positive press I've really seen on O.J. as a person. That's very telling. And distressing, because it reaffirms we can't get a lick of honest mainstream coverage on young black men.

db: Yeah, Durant has told the press Hawes is his best friend several times now. They hit up Indian casinos when Durant was chilling in Seattle before the draft.

At 10/16/2007 11:04 AM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Amazing essay, Krolik. Well written.

I've posted in the past about the ESPN's coverage of OJ Mayo (and Simmons), and how off base it was. It's a product of the bashing of (black NBA) athletes as "thugs" that still continues. In all seriousness, is there a more charitable group of athletes than NBA players? Between Mutumbo, Nash, Marbury, Wade, Melo, Dalembert, Etan Thomas, even Ron Artest... the NBA harbors more generous athletes than any other league. For the print and TV media to continuously pound the "thug" talk down the throats of its audience is... despicable.

At 10/16/2007 11:11 AM, Anonymous the midnight ride of paul shirley said...

John Krolik is the O.J. Mayo of bloggers

At 10/16/2007 11:29 AM, Blogger goathair said...

This and that Nash piece at Cosellout really makes me question my allegiance to Keith Van Horn when I was in HS. Good work.

Ty K - my moms appreciates the Iver Anderson reference.

At 10/16/2007 11:34 AM, Blogger MCBias said...

No, no, I completely disagree with your standpoint that people's games don't match who they are. The way people play IS who they are. Ever hear the old comment that if you really want to know what someone is like, play golf with them? For example, take Lebron and Carmelo from another perspective. Carmelo's game is all scoring, and he has failed to develop his game further to include better passing and rebounding. You can see that in his life, because he hasn't left the streets behind and become a more well-rounded individual. Lebron, on the other hand, had a variety of talents when he came into the league, and he has shown himself to be more well-rounded as a person as well. He's developed a sense of humor, gotten much better at talking to the media, become a leader, etc. Dwight Howard, another example; his game is all youth and athleticism, and his personality is also very youthful and joking around. And you compared Zach Randolph and Kevin Durant? You can't make that comparison, it's completely illegitimate. Zach is a veteran big man who can neither rebound, play defense, or block shots. Durant is a rookie with one year of college experience who plays small forward. Nothing alike there.

Basically, I say, let me watch your game, and I'll tell you who you are. Whether you like passing, rebounding, scoring, or defense most says a lot about your personality.

Oh, and while I'm at it, http://mcbias.blogspot.com/search/label/OJ%20Mayo some pictures of OJ Mayo out and about. The pictures also show OJ as a decent guy.

At 10/16/2007 11:43 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i've long felt there's a relationship between personality and game. but if they're somewhat contradictory, i think you have to weight real life more heavily. my one good point about mayo: if he comes off as very mature, and then does some immature things on the court, are we really going to let the latter decide our view of his grown-uppedness?

nothing in the world gets people as heated as athletic competition. perfectly normal people get into screaming matches under the cover of fandom, and plenty of responsible adults lose their tempers in pick-up games. professional athletes are supposed to be professional about it, but it's still a highly volatile context. and need i remind anyone, mayo's not allowed to earn like an adult; doesn't he get a little levity when it comes to athletic "professionalism?"

i agree that a player's game can amplify, complement or elucidate what we know about them. however, to say that it shows us the soul where all else of reality lies is a tad romantic. otherwise, everyone who flips out at their local YMCA is secretly a monster. whether or not they're a responsible father, etc. i guess it tells you that impulse is there, but the subconscious isn't really about taking over all else in one's life.

At 10/16/2007 12:08 PM, Blogger Brian said...

How well does Amare-as-person fit into Amare-as-player? He's been on my mind ever since I read about his new tats...I can't get over the fact that he had "Knowing is Knowledge" inscribed in his flesh. Who else would go out of their way to mark their very bodies with such a ridiculous tautology? I guess I just can't tell if the Amare who is endlessly dubbing himself various grandiose nicknames but never settling on one...supports or denies the link between game and character.

At 10/16/2007 12:40 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

can i executively demand we wait on this till tomorrow? i'm working on a "knowledge is knowing" post that should be up tonight.

At 10/16/2007 12:53 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Great post. Mayo hasn't been covered in Europe at all, so I basically just got the headlines who suggested him to have a questionable attitude. Very interesting to see this from a differnt perspective.

The game=character issue has always been an interesting one to me. First of all, the question is which aspactes of one's game could allow for conclusions about character.

What a player can and can't do on a given level of basketball hinges to a large part on the physical abilities he's been born with. I find it a little doubtful to equate this with natural dispositions as far as character goes, so that would make a case like Amare more complicated. What a player makes of his phyical abilities (e.g. perfecting his shot or ballhandling) could tell one about how dedicated and reliable a person he is, but I don't think that is what you guys were thinking about.

The obvious analogy is the selfish/selfless issue, the game supposedly indicating whether a person is full of himself (Kobe/Iverson?) or modest (Nash/Kidd?). I think this might hold true for pick-up ball or oagnized ball where it is just for fun and competition. But as soon as it becomes a profession, I suppose there are some additional factors at work that don't allow for such a simple conclusion.

Of course there's money factoring in, but there's also the role one has to play in this highly organized environment (could the Warriors be different in that respect?). In previous seasons I've often screamed at Luke Walton to just take open shots but he decided to try and draw another defender to then pass to the open teammate. Now that Walton has been encouraged by coaches and teammates to take these shots and finally does, is he all of a sudden a selfish person now? I suppose a work environment can require otherwise kind and caring people to go against their nature and dismiss some of their employees, so professional basketball players will probably also be required to go against their instincts because their job requires it.

I guess one more problem in this equation is that we only get a mediated version of Amare-as-person while we can see Amare-as-player for ourselves. I wouldn't even know how to start when trying to get some insight into Rasheed in this manner.

At 10/16/2007 12:56 PM, Blogger Martin said...

Ditto on Shoals point- I think thre exists a relationship between personality and game. However from a players game we can only glean snippets of their character it cannot be taken as a holistic reflection and vice versa. Take for example the G.O.A.T, sure MJ's hyper competitive personality was manifest in how he played the game at a high level every time he stepped on the court- However numerous other of MJ's personality did not permeate into his game. The impulsiveness of a serial gambler was definitely not reflected in how MJ played the game. In fact he played the game in perhaps the very opposite. His offense was systematic and precise, predicated on the repetition of perfected methods such as the painstakingly developed accurate fade-away jumpshot that MJ was known for later in his career. Wouldn't one expect a gamblers persona to translate into a trigger happy three-point chucker that is addicted to the thrill of a lower 3pt shooting percentage that is offset by the extra point gain rather than opting for methodical low-risk high percentage offense.

The guy I think of most when I consider this personality duality is Kidd - the domestic abuse issues with Joumana painted the picture of an abusive, out-of-control angry guy. The opposite of the magnanimous and supportive, team-oriented player I saw on the court. I swear, I have never seen Kidd berate a player in public or even lose his temper and catch a T. He always seems to be in control.

At 10/16/2007 2:18 PM, Blogger DJ Slick Watts said...

And here I've been thinking that those NBA 2K8 ads-- "this is who I am"--are some of the most FD shit ever. The way Arenas and Pierce attack the basket is exactly what makes them up, what makes them snowflakes; it's their DNA, like the ads suggest.

Martin, I think if you consider how important control is to JKidd's game, it'll shed a little light on things. No?

At 10/16/2007 2:22 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i think they are. what we have to do, though, is be realistic about how much the game makes the man, especially when we know something of the man. otherwise, it's a fatuous proposition.

At 10/16/2007 3:03 PM, Blogger Martin said...

DJ Slick, sure control is huge part of Kidd's game - but violent out-lashes when things dont go his way? Dude how many times has Kidd dropped perfect would be dimes only to have some scrub (or Keith Van Horn) blow an open lay-up. Whenever such stuff happens, Kidd is the first guy out there high-fiving and encouraging. On the other hand the ultra-wound up KG with his maniacal/withering glares whenever a teammate misses a shot- now him I could see flipping out and punching someone (even a female partner)

At 10/16/2007 3:35 PM, Blogger DJ Slick Watts said...

Martin, first of all we should both acknowledge that this is, like, dude's private life and we don't know anything about it. But can you imagine if Keith Van Horn wanted to bring the ball up? Or told JKidd it was a bad pass? I think the next one might knock his fucking teeth out, you know?

Kidd, the story goes, punched Joumana once, right in the mouth, sat down, and immediately called the cops on himself. Control.

(Go Bears.)

At 10/16/2007 3:37 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Another guy I would add to the discussion is Dikembe Mutumbo. He's a charitable guy, and a great humaniterean. He also comes off like a dick on the court. Maybe it's just me, but a 7'2 guy getting excited and showing off everytime he blocks a shot... something that he was literally born to do?!?

That's like SML talking sh*t after skying in for another rebound versus a bunch of 5th-graders...

At 10/16/2007 3:59 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

the example of deke only supports my point about mayo. no one's running around calling mutombo a punk.

At 10/16/2007 4:28 PM, Anonymous Sweat of Ewing said...

I think you also have to take into account the point in a player's career we're discussing. Just like vets getting the calls, the media's relationships with established players, especially those who have become a fixture, is almost invariably improved. Reggie Miller in the early/mid 90'? His scissor kicks and MSG-taunting were totally out of line with his work ethic and off-the-court style. But in 10 years his was the remarkably efficient old man whom everyone loved on and off the court (except Knicks fans), and whose personality perfectly reflected that. And what about Barkley, the "only good guy pretending to be bad," according to a guy that played with him whose name I forget. His game was pure fury and power, as was the media rep of his life off the court. Dude threw a guy through a window, after all. But later on he was a league darling and a (relatively) methodical player on the court, even though his personality was as flamboyant as ever. Most players evolve, etc.

At 10/16/2007 5:01 PM, Blogger EL MIZ said...

in a knicks/hawks game a few yrs back when deke was hooping for NY, he blocked a shot and turned to the crowd in the ATL to wag his finger. the only problem was he blocked the ball inbounds, and upon turning around the dude who just got blocked (i forget who it was) scooped up the rock and layed it in.

i still like deke tho.

i think oj mayo is going to be one of the most divisive players since hip hop iverson with the corn rows and ink came along ten years ago. people just don't know what to make of this guy, and you already see the System (the worldwide leader, simmons, etc) painting the pic they want to get across.

thank god for free darko.
thank god for krolik.
thank god for oj mayo?

At 10/16/2007 5:08 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

someone please tear this up for me:


At 10/16/2007 5:31 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

Tear up the presentation of the story or the story itself? Because I don't think there's anything wrong with punching Hackett in the face. Any fan of a non-USC Pac-10 team will back me up.

These comments have been way good, and I think the speak just to how difficult it is to boil someone's life down to one or two storylines without having someone jump in to muck up the model a little. Which is why Krolik's post is so good; it acknowledges the existence of contradictions and doesn't try to fuck with them too bad.

At 10/16/2007 5:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you rip up a bloody, shitty rag? Sbb is the Nat'l Enquirer of sports blogging. They could invent half of their "rumors" and get away with it. Their credibility is far below shady. If you need someone to "tear up" that, you're losing it.

Also - Scott Wolf's article has been edited MULTIPLE times since its initial post.

At 10/16/2007 5:46 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i guess i just wanted some qualification of it, if it is true.

while i fully believe in the power of contradiction, and think that mayo's off-court behavior is more important, i'm not blind. if he did up and punch a teammate, that's not a good sign.

then again, ask rick rickert about that.

At 10/16/2007 5:48 PM, Anonymous Sweat of Ewing said...

Calling your source a "shit-stirrer" reeks of credibility, I know that much.

At 10/16/2007 6:15 PM, Blogger Brock said...

So Mayo is a nice guy to talk to? How does anyone know he doesn't go home and cut himself over and over while drinking the blood of kittens? And what if Nash secretly runs a diesel generator 24 hours a day, just for the polllution? Would that make them worse people? Would it affect their respective games? I think it would only in that it might change how people talk, and soon think, about them.

Muddled comment, yes, but I guess I'm just down on the whole impulse to know who the players "really" are; the available information is a bit too mediated for my taste.

At 10/16/2007 6:30 PM, Anonymous badly drawn boykins said...

I wish we could just completely drop "selfish" and "unselfish" from the language of sports, at least the connotation that's used by most sportswriters.

Dennis Rodman, for example, is one of the most self-centered people to ever grace the sports. It was always about him, and rarely about the team.

On the court though, he did things that sportswriters call "unselfish" - diving for the ball, going after every rebound, playing velcro defense, readily ceding the spotlight on the offensive end. But he did all those "unselfish" things precisely because he was selfish. I mean, what's more selfish than saying, "Look, all I do is the dirty, gritty stuff. Why don't you take the shots and run the offense, and ultimately take the responsibility for the team's fortunes while I get credit for my blue collar work?"

Selfishness, as it's used in the conventional sports narrative, is just too one-dimensional and not at all reflective of real personalities.

By the way, Terrell Owens is, by most accounts, one of the nicest, caring people you'll ever meet. Yet, he is everything that is wrong according to those who dictate the NFL conventional wisdom.

At 10/16/2007 6:47 PM, Anonymous JCN said...

terrell owens petitoned the mayor of Alexander City (his hometown) for a parade after the super bowl. she politely informed him that they only have parades for winning teams. he promptly withdrew his committment of a donation for a new rec center that was to be built.

that will tell you something about his ego, selfishness/unselfishness.

At 10/16/2007 7:12 PM, Anonymous badly drawn boykins said...

Not really. That episode is a result, not so much of megalomania or ill will, but of Owens' crippling insecurity and desire, nay, compulsive need for affirmation.

This isn't meant to apologize for the donation snub. I agree that it's a dick move. But I'm just saying there's a difference between an athlete who's just a dick, and one who acts out because his psyche is delicate.

And that's why your use of selfish/unselfish, like the sports media's, is inadequate. The application is so broad and thoughtless that it lacks any usefulness.

At 10/16/2007 7:30 PM, Blogger KtuckyboY said...

I agree with a few of the points…about judging a player’s off the court behavior by what they see on the court, I think that’s pretty true.

I’ve seen OJ play in person a couple times and I was more impressed with him than any other high school player I’ve seen, even Lebron. Not saying he’s better than Lebron, but I saw OJ put up 43 on Oak Hill (Oak Hill still won) and he scored like 51 on St. Pats (ranked #1 in the country at the time). I never saw Lebron play that good the times I saw him (did see him and Melo go head to head his junior year though).

OJ's a great player and by most accounts I’ve seen/heard, he’s a nice guy. But he apparently just blows up at times (choked a girl, broke his teammate’s jaw, etc.). I would say it’s because he’s been coddled his entire life and told how great he is since he was in middle school. The dude’s basically been a celebrity since he was 13 years old at Rose Hill in KY.

It’s a really unique situation. No athlete has ever had that much publicity and media attention at such a young age. I think too much is expected of his behavior b/c he’s so young. It could end up going either way, good or bad in end, it just depends on what he does with his fame. Turned out good with Lebron, who knows how it will with OJ…Lebron never broke nobody’s jaw or choked a b*tch.

At 10/16/2007 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OJ Mayo sucker-punched me in church!

At 10/16/2007 8:59 PM, Blogger Martin said...

Dj Slick- you are correct, we know nothing about Kidd's personal life, neither do we know much about any other players personal. That said, I admit to being guilty of inferring on a players character based on his play on the court. Prior to the domestic abuse situation, if you asked me who is the one NBA player I would choose to coach my 10 year old little brother for a day, I would have unequivocally said Kidd. I am still a HUGE fan of Kidd's game and regard him as the best point guard in the league. However, there is a chance that he could also be a douchebag with anger issues that I probably don't want around my kid brother.

BTW as regards your comment- you may have the facts slightly wrong- at least as concerns what is written on the police report.
“…She said she and her husband had been arguing since he got home. About 5 p.m., Joumana Kidd said,she decided to go to the gym and asked Jason if he would watch and feed their 2-year-old son, T.J. Police said Kidd took a french fry from the boy's plate, and his wife told him not to eat the child's food. "Jason then turns towards Mrs. Kidd and spits the french fry at Mrs. Kidd, striking her in the face," the police report said. "Mrs. Kidd turns away from Jason. Jason then strikes Mrs. Kidd in the face while holding a container of yogurt in his hand". Police said Joumana Kidd ran upstairs to her bedroom and locked the door, but her husband kicked the door open. She said she went to the bathroom and locked the door again. Mrs. Kidd called police, but hung up before authorities could answer. On the 911 tape, Kidd can be heard shouting in the background. Paradise Valley police called the number, and talked to Jason Kidd first, then his wife. He offered no resistance when informed of the arrest.”

At 10/16/2007 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This just in! The "source" is Derrick Rose's broheim!

At 10/16/2007 9:13 PM, Anonymous spider said...

The original essay by Mr. Krolik is quite an excellent piece of prose for a college freshman. I would give him an A in expository writing.

At 10/16/2007 9:57 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

Shoals: Honestly, I don't even think my comment about contradiction applies to Mayo that well -- the Kidd comments were most interesting to me. I think OJ's basically proven that he's a fairly selfish player more interested in his own exploits than anything else, which doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the intelligence that Krolik says he displays in the classroom or his lack of partying. I'm really not very interested in him as a person; I care about him as a person insofar as his personality relates to basketball. And most of his basketball-related decisions (including punching Daniel Hackett -- who I honestly don't like at all but, despite my flippant comment above, don't think should have been punched, if that's what happened) can easily be read as evidence of him being a selfish basketball player in a way that goes beyond the Rodman interest in publicity. Mayo seems quite obsessed with being The Man, which isn't necessarily bad. But it becomes a problem when he starts forgetting that other All-Americans play on his team, and I saw him do that several times last year.

If I keep this up, I'm going to get into a longwinded discussion of critical projection, so I'll stop.

And spider's right; dude can write.

At 10/16/2007 10:34 PM, Anonymous JCN said...

BDB - agreed. I painted too broad a stroke when referencing that situation. i have to agree with you, that it was more of an ego in dire need of constant stroking in order to feel self worth.

david thorpe if i'm not mistaken wrote a piece about this on ESPN and how being constantly told how great you are can do great things to your confidence.

ultimately i know that this is a copout, (you can't play it both ways) but your on court identity is either a complete embodiment of who you are off of it or has no relevance and is quite contradictory in your behavior off of it.

At 10/16/2007 11:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" MCBias said...
And you compared Zach Randolph and Kevin Durant? You can't make that comparison, it's completely illegitimate. Zach is a veteran big man who can neither rebound, play defense, or block shots."

While certainly a flawed player, Randolph has twice averaged 10+ rpg in the last four seasons, and 9.6 and 8.0 the other two seasons. I'm not sure how 10 boards per is considered poor rebounding.

Defense? Well, his opponent PER was an average 15, and he has a modest composite defenisve score of +5.5 (slightly better than average), and he wasn't exactly playing next to a lot of defensive studs last season, so whatever he isn't doing, the fact is that guys aren't exactly going off on him.

So he is a good rebounder, his defense is average-ish...but hey, you're right, he can't block shots.

At 10/16/2007 11:37 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Hey, defending Knicks players is my job!

So, what does Bill Simmons game say about his personality? If you missed it, that was him on ESPN doing a promo for NBA Live 2008 by playing one on one with Paul Pierce. It's up on Page 2 right now, too, if you want to check it out.

His defensive stance, particularly the lack of movement by his feet, illustrates that he is set in his ways. He won't adapt anymore, or if he does, he'll likely fall on his face.

From the way he chucks a shot from his belly while fading away (the shot he actually hits) we can tell that he's creative; he's also, very clearly, fading.

Maybe you can't tell about a player's personality from his balling, but you might be able to tell alot about his writing....

At 10/17/2007 1:19 AM, Anonymous badly drawn boykins said...

"but your on court identity is either a complete embodiment of who you are off of it..."

That's basically basketball at its purest and free of the right-way shackles, the play as an expression of self, isn't it? This is about as FD a discussion as we've had this offseason, I think.

At 10/17/2007 2:23 AM, Blogger Krolik1157 said...

Two quick points:

It does disturb me to hear that O.J. punched out a teammate, and that he might not be as much of an all-around saint as I think; the point about the difference between "good citizen" and "good teammate" was a valid one, although by all accounts O.J. is rapidly evolving into a team leader and organizing scrimmages.

In any case, the difference between O.J.'s perceived "persona" and what he's really like was an ancillary one; the real point was that his "persona", real or fake, clashes with the way he does his business on the court, which is even more ridiculous than the typical game-as -person reasoning.

Second, the example I should have brought up was Capitan Jackson-on the court, he lacks surpassing talent but makes up for it with pure savvy, using angles, drawing fouls, making smart passes, and knowing when to shoot, but off-court, he seems capable of making horrendous decision after horrendous decision. Thanks for the kind words, all.

At 10/17/2007 2:34 AM, Anonymous badly drawn boykins said...

The teammate punching thing bothers me until I remember that Kevin Garnett, as an adult, punched the crap out of Rick Rickert during a pickup game, resulting in a chipped tooth and stitches.

I mean, if getting into a fight with a teammate is any indication of character, then this kid's practically Michael Jordan. Remember how he punched Steve Kerr because he's such a great competitor?

At 10/18/2007 1:18 AM, Blogger MC Welk said...

It's "Mark" Jackson with a "k" and the plural of persona is personae; otherwise, it's perfect.

At 4/13/2009 4:12 AM, Blogger 平平 said...




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