10.11.2007

I'm Growing with Jesus



FreeDarko really doesn't get much traffic, so my guess is that our enemies don't read us much. However, if they did, they'd probably accuse us of making shit up and being in a non-stop state of collective denial. I can think of one case in which they'd be delightfully right: Until yesterday, I'd refused to admit that Amare Stoudemire is no longer the same player. I'd rave about his new versatility, intelligence, and effectiveness, and point out that Amare is still always one of the two or three most athletic fellas on the floor. He's also scoring at roughly the same clip as before; when he claims a gargantuan plot of attempts, he still hits those 2005 numbers.

But at long last, I am ready to say it: Amare has indeed lost some of that ineffable volcanism. He's still explosive, just not in a "mine faculty doth deceive me" way. I used to have to adjust my eyes for the replay of Stoudemire elevating. It was abrupt, without beginning or end, and yet somehow always about to happen. Presently, he just jumps at and over opponents, like so many other six-foot ten high-fliers the world has known. There's a point A, a point B, and plenty of time for ambition and self-satisfaction to unfold. Before, they were collapsed as one. The dunk itself became a perfect circle of infinity, the thought of the next one feeding off its own completion.

Realistically, Amare probably didn't have to develop a jumper and get wise about angles during his recovery. He could've coasted on his remaining athleticism, and would've been a pretty good player. Pine for Kenyon Martin? That's what Amare would've been, had he not opted to compensate for his loss—athletic, and reliant on it, but not capable of dominating through it. And yet compensate he did, which is why today he's undoubtedly a more useful component on a championship contender.



After that Spurs series, plenty of folks thought they'd glimpsed the future of the PF position. I can stand before you today and say that now, Amare has a much better shot at embossedness. Let's visualize what things would be like if Amare had never been hurt: he would've continued to throw seizures at everyone, and eventually teams would figure out a weakness, or the Suns would want more of a plan. Either way, it would not have been June 2005 forever, and as age set in, Stoudemire would very quickly recede.

Before his surgery, Amare was as raw, or real, or whatever as any player I've ever seen. Now, he's a student of basketball, someone who views it as a craft. We might've wanted Amare to remain a wild man, but ultimately it was in his best interest to get his shit together. If you hear some racial connotations in there, good for you. Those obsessed with authenticity also frequently want the best for its exponents; of course, this can put them at cross purposes with themselves. All of this is made more complicated, and concrete, by the fact that Amare is genuinely interesting as a person. How can we not want to see him extend his career, improve his reputation, and, perhaps relatedly, do shit like get a college degree? The former Amare astounded us, but in the end, he was best as a transitional stage. While it might've been like that anyway, the injury practically ordained it.



Point two, lighter this time: As we gear up for the season, I'm realizing that the Warriors are not going to disappoint. If anything, they're poised to push themselves even further over the fringe. After crystallizing their identity and setting the world on fire, how does the organization respond? By shipping out their one-time franchise player (who, if you check the archives, has always bored FD) for Bosh-lite. Wash on that. But then, they draft a deranged Mediterranean gunner and their pre-season could belong to Pietrus's benevolent twin Kelenna Azubuike. Think about it this way: In last year's playoffs, Jason Richardson was pretty much an anonymous three-point shooter. Toss that aside, mix in these three blitzed wild cards, and I think you're about to see a more layered Warriors team—even if these newbies only occasional deliver. If they could possibly last season be branded black-and-scary, here's where they bust out and become an all people's team of artful derailedness.

Parting observation: This city is unusual in so many ways. One lady who does nights on the sports talk station has a Joe Henderson/Bobby Hutcherson modal Iberian joint as her theme music. Nothing says PAC-10 football like multiphonics calling out in the background.

33 Comments:

At 10/12/2007 1:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The FD nature of the Warriors is not going to translate into wins as you wish it might. It will educate you on the players of the game, the coaches, and the management. It will enlighten you to the greatest wonders of basketball, and give you the best shit to grind on for years to come, but Larry O'Brien ain't walking through that door any time soon.

"As we gear up for the season, I'm realizing that the Warriors are not going to disappoint. If anything, they're poised to push us even further off the fringe."

That is the most eager and naive statement I have read by you on this site. Don't be ashamed, it's charming.

 
At 10/12/2007 1:24 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

sorry, but that was a typo. while i would say that the warriors' playoffs pushed freedarko further from the fringes, i meant that this latest version will be even more insane and fringe-y. they're the ones in motion, and it's toward the fringe. which, because of the way that team works, isn't saying they'll get better or worse. just that they'll be more entertaining.

i think they'll be a .500 team and make the postseason; the point is that they'll stay good, and be more ridiculous doing so. i didn't meant to imply they'd be the toast of the west.

 
At 10/12/2007 1:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can totally entertain that notion. I begrudgingly can also admit that I think they will be over .500 and be more entertaining, but they playoffs will come down to the wire. It should be another good late-season in the bay. The League would not ALLOW this bunch to win a title, I believe.

 
At 10/12/2007 1:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or even begrudgingly admit.

 
At 10/12/2007 1:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WARRIOR FANS FOR PROPER GRAMMAR!

 
At 10/12/2007 2:19 AM, Anonymous Sweat of Ewing said...

The Warriors strength is that they ride chaos like an Escalade: any given night, one or more players might get hot and blow the team through the roof. Meaning they're capable any night of beating anyone. But since they rely so much on channeling freak events, I feel like they'll never be too far over 41-41. Chaos ain't reliable but it sure is fun to watch.

 
At 10/12/2007 3:06 AM, Anonymous OPS said...

Oh, but harnessed chaos, Brother Sweat... the very mention, the very notion makes us ache and yearn not for what will be, but what--in the eyes and mind of basketball immortality--so achingly deserves to be.

 
At 10/12/2007 3:27 AM, Anonymous berts said...

shoals, beautiful post

 
At 10/12/2007 4:52 AM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

This Warriors team isn't built to win more than 50 games per season (mostly because of Baron's injury history), but that doesn't mean they're not cut out to win a playoff series every spring for a few years. That's not the LOB, but it's success, and I'm hopeful that a few years of that will show people that systems need not constrict.

The Amare portion of this post is great. Yes, we didn't get an extra year or two of volcanism, but this version of Amare is better in the long term, and after all the shit he's been through in his life I'm glad he'll have that sustainability. And it's not like he's currently unexciting. This would be more upsetting if we hadn't seen spring 2005, but the fact that we were all witnesses means that we can talk about it and watch the occasional youtube. That Amare will not die so long as we're vigilant.

 
At 10/12/2007 9:22 AM, Blogger Brock said...

Ty - I think that systems do necessarily constrict, it is in their nature to perpetuate themselves through regulation, but that the Warriors are not necessarily a system as much as a process...and I think that the FD-ness of Amare has suffered: he might be better and around for many years to come, but is he on the slippery slope toward Duncanity?

 
At 10/12/2007 10:02 AM, Blogger goathair said...

Duncan and Stoudemire are, and always will be, two totally different beasts.

 
At 10/12/2007 11:52 AM, Blogger Bongo said...

Shoals, I did hear some racial connotations in there, but moreso from this statemnt, and not in the way you might think:

"Those obsessed with authenticity also frequently want the best for its exponents; of course, this can put them at cross purposes with themselves"

This has a parallel with neighborhood gentrification I think. Artists and hipsters, often "obsessed with authenticity", move into a neighborhood that is poor/authentic, and then complain when high-rise apt buildings are built to accomodate more and more artists and hipsters who are moving into the now "cool" neighborhood. Of course, they're obsession with authenticity is often at cross purposes with what's in the best interest of the neighborhood, economic growth (although, of course this has its negatives with rising rents and dislocation and all that). I mean, they might glorify Bed-Stuy, but no one who lived there in the 80's (and isn't a rapper) glorifies it. So does Amare= the next new Brooklyn neighborhood?

 
At 10/12/2007 12:15 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

StackJackBaronBarnes
AzubuikePietrus
MonteMarcoTroy

FB may need Mickael in his life but NellieBelly certainly doesn't.

In other news, FranchiseJamesSkiptoMyLou

Too much is not better than enough.

 
At 10/12/2007 12:22 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

bongo--that was one of the things i was thinking of.

 
At 10/12/2007 12:42 PM, Anonymous iverson fan said...

Amare's game is beginning to resemble Elton Brand's 05-06 game. Except Amare is not as gifted defensively as Elton. His jumper is not as defined either.

I would like to see PHX go to Amare in the post everytime down the court when Nash is getting a breather.

And hopefully Brand is the same player after fe recovers.

 
At 10/12/2007 2:13 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Unrelated, but here's something that's a little FD:
http://sixers4guidos.wordpress.com/2007/10/02/serbia-reunites-kobe-shaq/

Not the hand gestures so much, but that both Shaq and Kobe can curse in Darko's language. Undoubtedly that makes sense to me. I bet they can talk shit to Yao in Chinese, too. I would, if I was playing him....

 
At 10/12/2007 3:08 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

Brock: I think our difference there comes down to how we each define system. The Warriors do have plays; Nellie plans shit out and the breaks are all organized. To me, that's a system, but your use of "process" certainly respects the fact that there's more leeway. Maybe I should say this: continued Warriors success could convince more coaches/architects that systems can be built around player strengths instead of having to find players to conform to preconceived roles. Anyway, I think this is an important question -- it's kinda my major NBA obsession.

 
At 10/12/2007 3:48 PM, Blogger oliver said...

This has almost nothing to do with the blog topic above -- in fact, fuck it; it has nothing to do with the blog topic above, and so I duly apologize.

However, I have read this blog for goddamn forever, and it occurs to me that I do a shitty job of promoting my own blog. And so, I promise I'll only do this link thing this single time:

"The Nerve Video Blog": http://www.nerve.com/nerveblog/nervevideo.aspx?blogid=144

And here's my only two sports-related blogs from the above:

May 7th -- the NBA playoffs (written just before they became boring), obligatory "Free Darko" shoutout, Jordan, Thomas Hobbes, Foo Fighters, "The Thin Red Line": http://www.nerve.com/nerveblog/nervevideo.aspx?id=144e11201#11201

October 1st -- Overconfident Philadelphia Phillies-related boasting that so quickly turned to ashes in my mouth: http://www.nerve.com/nerveblog/nervevideo.aspx?id=144e14662#14662

___


...And that's it. I wish I had an opinion on Amare, but the PF position has always been the most criminally boring of all the positions to me; I can't even bring myself to play as a power forward on "NBA 2K7."

As for the Warriors; here's hoping... here's hoping. And here's hoping that they ditch their terminally ugly Flash-Gordon-meets-Randy-Kilowatt-style uniforms.

That's it. And sorry again for the unnecessary linkage. If it makes it any better, I am strongly considering buying the ABA T-shirt.

cheers,
Oliver

 
At 10/12/2007 4:43 PM, Anonymous Grandpa Joe said...

Shoals, just know that I printed a gigantic poster of the black santa and it's hanging in my dorm room. Thank you for the inspiration.

-Grandpa Joe

 
At 10/12/2007 5:31 PM, Blogger Brock said...

Ty -- I think you are right about the Warriors' system. My fear is that the system works too well, that the Warriors win games in the playoffs every year, and the system itself becomes the orthodoxy.

I guess I really want the team to function at a level of pure inspiration, which would undoubtedly make them a terrible NBA team, but would be more in line with what I like from professional basketball: witnessing someone perform a task at the very highest level of skill and love, and not necessarily within a system structured by more than the fundamental rules of 'ball (and really, hand-checking isn't so bad). Like a really good freestyle.

 
At 10/12/2007 5:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darkofan: Very fine , centering piece. Amare did give a pensive impression in some of the Olympic team games this summer.

Among those that aspire to be emphatic dunkers, all reports are that Bokie N. has worked hard, has a new , No. 1. clip (buzz) haircut, and is ready to strive.

 
At 10/12/2007 7:37 PM, Anonymous Sweat of Ewing said...

Ty: "continued Warriors success could convince more coaches/architects that systems can be built around player strengths instead of having to find players to conform to preconceived roles."

Nellie definitely can work with his players' strengths and hide their weaknesses, but I think the GS/Indy trade proved that he's not the pure basketball genius that some of the Oaklanders are purporting. Dunleavy, Murphy, and Diogu are three guys that have real talent, and yet he couldn't figure out how to use them. I think the difference is that, unlike so many other coaches, he (and Mullin) looked at his roster and said "My best player, and the majority of my good ones, will benefit from X style. Ditch the flotsam to a sucker and pick up something to fill in the gaps." As opposed to someone like Doc Rivers or Mo Cheeks (again, and their GMs), who will just keep on trying to fit guys into an existing system that isn't suited to ANYONE, or who can't even decide on a system.

 
At 10/12/2007 8:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boki annihilated Dalembert in a game last year.

Straight mutilated to the hoop.

 
At 10/12/2007 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, since your cat came back FD has been BANGIN'

 
At 10/12/2007 9:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HOLY MOLY. The top 10 dunks of March 2007 were insane.
http://boss.streamos.com/wmedia/nba/nbacom/top10s_monthly/march_top10_dunks.asx

 
At 10/12/2007 11:00 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

Brock: Yeah, that would be the biggest concern. I'm not sure the Warriors will ever have enough success to make it too common, though. At any rate, that's basically the "running for running's sake" argument that Shoals made a little bit ago.

Sweat of Ewing: Yeah, you're probably right; it's more of a "ditch the flotsam" operation instead of a pure "form the system to the players." Although it's also worth pointing out that, at least in the preseason, Nellie was talking about Dunleavy playing a point forward role and Murphy being a huge beneficiary of the matchup problems that would come at the five. I guess I'm of the opinion that those two were beyond help just because they're not particularly assertive and, at least in Dunleavy's case, not as good as their reputations. If there's one thing Nellie demands, it's assertiveness.

 
At 10/13/2007 4:56 AM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Just wanted to point you to Arenas' latest post on NBA.com. He's producing a cartoon and looking for voice-over-talent and gives a 550-word defense for the whole Halo thing plus other great stuff. "And I call the future, 'Generation Zero.'"

http://www.nba.com/blog/gilbert_arenas.html

 
At 10/13/2007 4:57 AM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

shoul have read "5500-word defense"

 
At 10/13/2007 4:59 AM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Should have read "should" - man, I'm stupid!

 
At 10/13/2007 5:45 AM, Blogger Brock said...

Does this mean Shoal's cat writes the blogs?

 
At 10/13/2007 3:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

KD 1, LBJ 0. Juss sayin'

 
At 10/13/2007 3:53 PM, Anonymous ....endtroducing said...

Is it just me or is gil's blog getting a little annoying? More and more it seems like his swag has developed into run-of-the-mill arrogance. I don't know, maybe I should read his post again.

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

^^Thanks!!

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