11.13.2007

Brett Ashley Was A Good Time

After watching the Lakers lose to New Orleans last week, I finally figured it out: Kobe is basketball's answer to Jay Gatsby. Jim Gatz, singularly driven to achieve his holy grail, reinvented himself through hard work and sheer force of will into Jay Gatsby, the ultra-wealthy and mysterious baron of West Egg, armed now with everything he needed to obtain that haunted him. So it is with Kobe and his (Shaq-less) pursuit of Jordan's legacy.



When I first shot this one along to Shoals, he mentioned that since Kobe comes from a privileged background, and had a father who played professional basketball, his seemed anything but a rags-to-riches story, and this article turned from a lengthy dissection of Kobe's Gatsby-like doomed pursuit of immortality (which can be seen in its original form on SportsHub LA), to something altogether different. When Shoals mentioned how the facts of Kobe's life don't seem to jive with Gatsby's, we realized that the NBA's class hierarchy has little, if nothing to do at all, with the rest of the world's definition of an advantaged upbringing: Ricky Davis is seen as spoiled, Luke Walton is an accepted member of the proletariat, and Bill Lambeer, the ultimate blue-collar player, was the only player in the NBA whose father made more than he did.

Clearly, the NBA version of class has nothing to do with how rich your parents actually are; men who grew up in the projects are looked at like lazy rich kids, and men who grew up in the suburbs are looked at as having overcome their circumstances to succeed. Carter touched upon the racial implications of "hustle players" in his post about Turiaf, and a lot of them carry over to the rich/poor, label, as well as the "demeanor defining game" effect I talked about in my O.J. post, (imagine how differently we'd see Barbosa if he wasn't so damn likeable; he's lightning-fast, is a great shooter, but hasn't figured out how to involve his teammates and will follow up 30-point explosions with 8-point wimpers.) but there do seem to be some consistent characteristics in players leading to their definition as bourgeois or proletariat.



Point guards are almost invariably proletariat, with the "privileged" ones being the guys with the ability to split double-teams, thread the needle with their passes, and make an uptempo attack work; the most bourgeois point guard is probably the aforementioned Chris Paul, with Nash's lack of athleticism, willingness to break his nose, and all-around "whiteness" granting him a blue-collar label even though he doesn't really play defense or look for contact that often. Deron Williams' need to overcome his slightly voluptuous figure and his place in Jerry Sloan's rigid system likewise makes him a bit more working-class than Paul, as does Jason Kidd's linebacker body and hard-nosed defense. Tony Parker is as physical of a scorer at the point as you'll find, and has put in some good old-fashioned work on his jumper, but his immense natural talent, as well as the fact he's married to Eva Longoria, keeps him from joining the working class.

As the most athletic points tend to be the best defenders, defense is much less of a factor in being blue-collar than it is with other positions, and hence Devin Harris, Rajon Rondo, Marcus Banks, and our beloved Smush have never been embraced as scrappers. The easiest way to be a "hard-worker" as a point guard is to:

-Pass a lot
-Be white and unathletic

Hence the blue-collar points are guys like Hinrich, Ridnour, Nash, Farmar, Steve Blake, and the unfortunately on hiatus Jared Jordan. Despite wild differences in shooting ability, defensive ability, and willingness to scrap, relying on your passing ability to get by despite limited athleticism is always a good way for a point guard to get the Marxian seal of approval.

The best way to be a member of the "lazy rich" as a point guard is to not pass as much as you should or make a lot of turnovers, which is why Telfair, Terry, Francis, Arroyo, and Starbury have all hit some static in their careers. Also, it's not a good idea to be one of the most promising points in the league and then eat your way into mediocrity. (Tinsley.) Even though Telfair and Starbury grew up in the projects of Coney Island, Terry was one of 10 kids raised by a single mother, Francis had to toil in Juco purgatory before reaching the University of Maryland, and Arroyo is from a providence in Puerto Rico with a blank under Business, Agriculture, and Education on Wikipedia, they have been seen as sons of privilege as soon as they hit the NBA.



With perimeter players, it's a little simpler, as athleticism reigns so supreme on the perimeter; the most bourgeois perimeter player is definitely LeBron, due to the virtue of the sheer impossibility of his gifts. The two easiest ways to be "blue-collar" are to excel at spot-up shooting and/or defense; hence, our favorite scrappers are Shane Battier and Bruce Bowen, and we have soft spots in our hearts for guys like Jason Kapono and Eduardo Najera. Since pure athleticism is more important on the perimeter than anywhere else, having tremendous athleticism and failing to dominate is the easiest way to get the "lazy rich" label; see D-Miles, Ricky Davis, J.R. Smith, Gerald Green, Martell Webster, Dorell Wright, and Travis Outlaw; they are the perimeter players most often accused of squandering their gifts, and even though many of them are excellent shooters/role players, the burden of expectations their gifts bring them will prevent them from being embraced like Anthony Parker, Kyle Korver, Ime Udoka, and Matt Carroll have been.

Big men are, again, different; being a great shooter as a big is probably the easiest way to not be a member of the proletariat. Unlike perimeter players, where an advanced knowledge of fadeaways and jab-steps will invariably lead you to Dick Vitale's good graces, offensive artistry from a big man has an almost directly inverse relationship to getting the label of "maximizing your talent."-see Randolph, Okur, 'Sheed, Gasol, Amare, and Yao, whose ability to score in various ways near and away from the basket has led to all of them being labeled "soft" at one point or another. Even McHale, the undisputed master of all things post-move related, was thought to be lazy by none other than Larry Bird, and Wilt, the original gracefully forceful big, dealt with laziness whispers his whole career.

Defense and rebounding is the key to being a proletarian big; since all big men are such freaks physically, being under-athletic doesn't work, especially since most slower big men are "soft" perimeter shooters anyways. Occasionally, a big will get a ticket to the proletariat by being undersized (Wallace, Ben), but a lot of undersized true bigs are such mind-bendingly athletic freaks (Maxiell, Ty Thomas, Josh Smith), that they don't get much sympathy either. Poor shooting, even from the free throw line, and a lack of post moves can be forgiven so long as a big is willing to mix it up in the paint and grab boards; hence, we love Chandler, Big Ben, Zydrunas, Biedrins, and David Lee. The upper-class for big men is inhabited by those who are able to build upon a base of defense, rebounding, and scoring at a high percentage around the basket to become big-time scorers as well; Duncan, Garnett, and classic Shaq. Ignoring your defense and rebounding, and hanging out around the perimeter are the best ways to become "lazy rich" as a big.

At the end of the day, the logic of what is given and what is earned in the NBA will always be a little backwards; we all think that we could shoot better than Rajon Rondo if we worked hard someone was giving us $3 million dollars to do it, but would we be as good as Kyle Korver? For that matter, would we be Rajon Rondo? Is Steve Nash really the hardest worker there is, or was he blessed with eyes in the back of his head like Darius Miles was blessed with the ability to get his head eye level with the rim? In what world can Bill Walton's son ever be considered less privileged than Carmelo Anthony? How is it that Kobe can spend 12 hours a day shooting fadeaways in the off-season and still have a resume less complete than a man who pretends to be a policeman in the off-season? That's the beauty and tragedy of the NBA; wherever you come from, you're still flat broke all over again 82 times every year.

78 Comments:

At 11/13/2007 10:16 AM, Blogger goathair said...

This reminds me of an article someone like Dave Barry wrote a while back. He was hanging out with Grant Long (not a particularly adept ball-handler or shooter) and was amazed how easily he controlled the orange and was money just shooting around.

The chasm between what we as observers can comprehend and what we can do is so great that everything based on those assumptions is skewed.

 
At 11/13/2007 10:23 AM, Blogger Fredrik deBoer said...

It's times like this when I genuinely wonder if you're engaging in self-parody. I mean if I tried to develop a caricature of what a FreeDarko post is like, it would be this.

White players that are described as hard working are inherently wicked! Black players play with style and are thus the targets of an aging white media!

Smush Parker is not an objectively terrible basketball player!

Your racism-- anti-black racism, let me hasten to add-- is soft, but it's very real.

 
At 11/13/2007 10:23 AM, Blogger Joey said...

One note on Roscoe: it's not that it's a bad thing for him to have range. It's that he needs to exercise his ability judiciously. It may, in fact, be a strategic advantage to score inside at various times, and yet his play doesn't always reflect that. Thus, criticism.

wv: ojewer--my mind just exploded with possibilities. This one is too easy and yet also too difficult.

 
At 11/13/2007 10:41 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

fdb: that's funny, i didn't think that was the point of the post at all. i thought it was: the language of class gets used all the time in reference to the nba, but in kind of weird ways.

 
At 11/13/2007 11:48 AM, Anonymous NW Narcissist said...

Point of order: I don't think very many people really think of Ridnour as particularly "hard-working" or "scrappy." Underachieving, trigger-happy, very poor assist/turnover, uncreative passing since entry in the L (actually my Ridnour caricature syncs perfectly with my Telfair)...Ridnour might get a pass from people, but it's only those who don't watch basketball (or those who are blinded by the lapis lazuli).

I'm a Duck fan, but Rid should go to Europe.

Apologies for not addressing the thrust of the post itself. And if this posted twice...

 
At 11/13/2007 11:48 AM, Blogger Bongo said...

Can we get a follow-up post that delves deeper into the Kobe-Gatsby comparision? You set up all the parameters to have the discussion but then just left it there. Maybe that's why the Hemingway reference in the title, who of course famously said that the words on the page were just the "tip of the iceberg" as to what was actually going on?

To me, in order to justify the Kobe-Gatsby comparision, you have to question the motives of each. While I think both are unquestionably immature and unreasonable in their singular desire, Gatsby's is out of a connection to the past that he is both obssessed with and oblivious too. What is it in Kobe's past that drives him the same way? The desire to get back to the promised land he once got to with Shaq? If this is it, it makes him different than Gatsby, who wants to get back to the same place with the same person (Lousiville with Daisy), just to change what happened in between. Kobe is obssessed with the present because it will allow us to change the way we saw the past (that HE was the better player, and can carry his own team). Anyone else have player-literary character comparisions? T-Mac as Nick Adams?

I think that of the 10 times I've commented on here, 9 were about literary references. I'm gonna go far out on a limb and guess I'm not the only English major here. For the record, I liked the discussion of the language of class and its funny implications in the NBA- I just got caught up with the literary stuff. Word.

 
At 11/13/2007 11:56 AM, Blogger lost said...

I suppose it could be read as parody, but I wouldn't see it as one of self-

those of us who've played street games among a variety of classes are already well aware of this discrepancy. Perceived 'blue collar' play is almost entirely the domain of white, middle class players and those who emulate that style. The silky smooth play characterized as 'lazy' is most commonly on display in the grittiest corners of the asphalt 'jungle.' These styles of play carry along from the streets to the gyms to the pros.

More than anything, I read the article as ridicule of the mischaracterization of these styles by the sporting press in general.

btw, nobody plays a rougher, more physical game than a bunch of white dudes who actually work for a living. but there's no place in the NBA for that version of blue-collar ball.

 
At 11/13/2007 12:00 PM, Anonymous quick said...

"Ignoring your defense and rebounding, and hanging out around the perimeter are the best ways to become "lazy rich" as a big."

i.e. Sheed.

There's a simple explanation for that, though--a big man's role is seen to be a rebounder, shot blocker, and inside scorer. Kinda hard to do that from the perimeter. Hence, the "lazy rich" tag, which is usually accompanied by an armchair pg grousing, "if I were that tall, I'd be dropping 50 a night in the league!"
I've had the privilege of playing against some very gifted basketball players, guys who seem inhuman considering their size, speed, and athleticism (both white and black). And guess what? None of those guys made it in the league.
Every single guy you see in the league has worked his ass off to get there, even 'Sheed. You don't do it on physical talent alone, you have to work, and work hard, literally push yourself to your physical limits. There may be lazy guys in the league now, but you won't be hearing about those guys for very long.

Great post exploring those "class" tags that we as fans tend to use, even if subconsciously. A vast majority of the time, they're wrong.

 
At 11/13/2007 12:06 PM, Anonymous db said...

The thing is, class analysis has fragmented so much that you need a really diversified approach, and I think this piece takes the class=money thing a bit too literally. cultural capital, social capital, differential inclusion - all structured along racial lines - make class a less straightforward thing to appoach the league with. And to pick up fdb's angle - the black academic literature on basketball has demonstrated that fully, but that history seems to be getting little run in this piece. But my thesis was on class analysis so I admit to being in a specialised audience.

The thing you want to take from Marx is methodological - a sense of systemic relationality and a sense of crisis. FD usually does that exceptionally well.

On the other hand, Smush Parker is an objectively terrible basketball player.

 
At 11/13/2007 12:33 PM, Anonymous Sweat of Ewing said...

Bongo: Kobe's dad, Joe Bean Bryant, was a decent but unspectacular big guy, if I remember, who exported to Italy after his time was up in the NBA. The Italian league was not exactly a basketball juggernaut in those days - it could be that Kobe grew up thinking, "My old man wasn't good enough for the L." I wonder if Kobe's drive is in some way a rebellion against the league that (as he saw it) spurned his father. If so, that all-consuming desire is revenge, both for and against the father that wasn't good enough.

Or, you know, that could just be some massively uninformed revisionist history, and he's simply a single-minded nut.

 
At 11/13/2007 1:39 PM, Blogger lost said...

db- what is the black academic literature on basketball? my (talking shit):(having read 'bout it) ratio is a little out of whack on these topics. if I can't find out here, where would I ask...



'sheed is just like a lot of dudes from philly. they put you to sleep, it seems like they aren't doing anything, then it's over, you look back and realize he was drillin' you the whole time. just that 'sheed is doin it to the best basketball players on earth.

 
At 11/13/2007 1:46 PM, Anonymous quick said...

@lost:
Hey, I never said he was bad. Or lazy. You don't get a sweet jumper like that by playing NBA Live 10 hours a day.

 
At 11/13/2007 1:56 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

Is it just me or did F deBoer (you were crap for Barcelona, FWIW) completely miss the fact that this post is completely meta. The whole FD ethic is about not falling into lazy categorization of players based on the facile characteristics on offer here. In order to avoid this trap, we kind of have to be aware of it, know thy enemy and all that.

However, there are just enough examples of the easy way out being correct that it has a patina of legitimacy. Grant Hill in his prime had the most aristocratic game, unsurprising from the son of a famed Cowboy and Hillary's college roomie (though he is now an Obama man himself). Parker aside, NBA Frenchmen are all so Gallic, be it Diaw's obliqueness, Pietrus's undeserved arrogance or Gelabale's complete crapness. And even Parker's essential 'bop' recalls something of Thierry Henry - of course I just scored on you, I'm French.


vw: setjs - set j's, lazy big man's art.

 
At 11/13/2007 1:58 PM, Blogger lost said...

quick, i wasn't accusing you of any wrongdoing. shit, i thought we were in agreement.

i was just making a comment on the idea of class commentary around basketball. this dude's style of play may be a result of his raisin' in philly. that he's a supreme athlete is sure. that he's worked hard is practically guaranteed, for the reasons you've offered.

but he's seen as lazy, pejoratively, by the mainstream media. should he be scurrying all over the court like Nash? no, that would be a hot mess, like Cal Booth shooting 18-ft jumpers. but that may be the only way for him to avert being labeled as 'lazy'. I'll submit that as: fuctup.

 
At 11/13/2007 2:16 PM, Anonymous iverson fan said...

All Bourgeoisie team:
Tony Parker
Kobe Bryant
Rashard Lewis
Andrea Bargnani
Tim Duncan

with Peja as the 6th man

All Proletariat team:
Allen Iverson
Corey Maggette
Gerald Wallace
Chris Wilcox
Chris Kaman

with Stephen Jackson as the 6th man

 
At 11/13/2007 2:19 PM, Anonymous citizen (world) said...

We also tend to favor late bloomers with the proletarian tag. I'm often baffled by David Robinson. Here's one of the 5 most athletic centers ever. Yet, we still view him as the scrappy underdog because he wasn't highly recruited in high school and didn't fill out until later in college. So, there's a sense that he's the underdog. Yet, if he had gone through a growth spurt at 16 and attended UCLA we probably view him no differently than Dwight Howard. When a player develops is just as important as where they came from.

 
At 11/13/2007 2:25 PM, Blogger Prima Facie said...

I always felt Kobe was more Iago than Jay Gatsby, although I guess that makes Jerry Buss Othello and Shaq...Desdemona?

 
At 11/13/2007 2:37 PM, Anonymous MaxwellDemon said...

Is Bill Laimbeer Tom Buchanan? In your heart you know it's true. Maybe Kobe's number change resulted in his plethora of shirts. Such beautiful shirts.

I find "Nash is unathletic" tiresome. Granted, if you define athleticism only in terms of vertical, yeah, but his shooting accuracy, for example, is not only the result of practice. You and me shoot the livelong day and we'll never come close to being that good. Shit is a birthright.

 
At 11/13/2007 3:14 PM, Blogger lost said...

citizen- interesting addition.

there seems to be a concept of 'athletic wealth' that some players are indirectly labeled with by the mainstream media, and the deeper an urban hellhole they come from, the more of that wealth we assume they have. they must be an athletic *diamond in the rough*, for the Association to extract them from Newark, Oakland, Queens, B/mo, etc. so goes the conventional wisdom, it seems.

in reality they have fought and clawed every step of the way, the same as any other player. they played their way OUT with no significant help from the establishment.

but in doing so, they have flipped the script on expectations, from low to high. i guess it's just because people make certain assumptions about their path and the ease with which they've walked it.

to the extent that late bloomers are given credit for hard work rather than a wealth of athleticism, it may be due to our knowledge of their experience. we are made aware of their work ethic, because they're doing the work at an age when they're relevant to us.

nevermind that just about every player in the league probably worked on their game tirelessly at an age when I was climbing trees and riding bikes. (ok, i still do that shit sometimes, but i started when I was five.)

and steve nash will blow by you in minute 45 and pass around/shoot over trees just as quickly as Chris Paul. but the former gets the benefit of low expectations: the 'scrappy' 'unathletic' 'hard worker' 'blue collar' labels. is this only a result of his not dunking in the open court? for all we know nash can dunk. but it's not his game. (I was gonna use Iverson, but he's one of the exceptions of a player who's recognized as both a great athlete and a tireless competitor. it's just so obviously true on both counts, nobody dare deny it.)


so, I was hoping FdB and/or db were going to offer some deeper analysis, and turn my observations on their head somehow. but maybe they just misinterpreted the post?

 
At 11/13/2007 4:14 PM, Anonymous ronald james davis said...

farmar did post a 40+ vertical leap at the pre draft camp if i do recall. not saying, just saying.

 
At 11/13/2007 4:21 PM, Anonymous ronald james davis said...

and he can't shoot

 
At 11/13/2007 4:23 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

We now have a bi-weekly column on Deadspin. FIRST ONE

 
At 11/13/2007 4:27 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

MaxwellDemon with the comment of the thread. When I saw the opening paragraph, I desperately wanted a reference to Kobe throwing shirts before Jordan. Alas. And all this literary shit has me wanting to team up with MD for a "basketball players are Pynchon characters" post.

Implicit point that merits explicitness: If Krolik's categories are right, then FD has flipped the usual hipster "wanna live like common people" creed.

I'm not sure the players that Krolik terms proles don't fall into a more broadly defined "bearers of the Protestant work ethic" group. In the end, though, it seems like you can argue any player for any category as long as you take on the right political persona. JR Smith could very easily be seen as someone who "just needs to get a job," for instance.

 
At 11/13/2007 4:58 PM, Blogger Krolik1157 said...

Bongo:

Props for spotting the Hemmingway reference-there's another one in there too, see if you can spot it. And you're right about not being the only English major on FD, although I've technically only been one for 3 months and may well be something different in the future-my English professor has had it in for me ever since I spent half of my 1st paper comparing Ben Franklin to Kanye West.

And the Gatsby follow-up post is on SportsHub LA; with a full Gatsby, this post was way too long here.

 
At 11/13/2007 6:02 PM, Anonymous MaxwellDemon said...

Ty K--thanks for the shout out, but you're on your own with Pynchon. I can't even make a decent Crying of Lot 49 joke because I couldn't find anybody with that number (Kirilenko is close).

The Kobe/shirts thing makes more sense if he had played for multiple teams, so I had to force that shit.

 
At 11/13/2007 6:06 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

BOTTOM OF THE PAGE

 
At 11/13/2007 6:09 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

Shoals,

First the FanHouse, tomorrow the world.

 
At 11/13/2007 6:18 PM, Anonymous tom said...

Is this the first time FD has been mentioned by the four letter word?

 
At 11/13/2007 6:22 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Maybe Adande's a regular. Has he contributed yet to the rock of asking?

wv: nllet - no-look outlet pass

 
At 11/13/2007 6:22 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

This is the second time Adande's shouted us out. Simmons did a while ago, though with some ambivalence.

I'm assuming you're not counting True Hoop as "the four-letter word."

 
At 11/13/2007 6:26 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

I think Hollinger linked to a Silverbird piece once, too. One of their NBA columnists did, maybe it was Stein.

 
At 11/13/2007 6:28 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Actually, Hollinger listed to Burns's Okur/Elvis post.

 
At 11/13/2007 6:35 PM, Blogger Bongo said...

Krolik: Yeah, not sure how I missed that second reference before: The picture of Papa Smurf? Word.

I'll check out the full Kobe-Gatsby comparision when I get the chance.

Prima: I thought about Kobe as Iago, but I think the difference is that Kobe is more selfish than he conniving and evil I think. I think Kobe generally feels slighted and has a singular desire to win and prove people wrong. Iago was more of a puppet-master, I like Larry Brown as Iago. If I had to do Shakespeare, I would think maybe Kobe as Edmund, the bastard in King Lear who is determined to gain power in order to rebuke all those who have slighted him for being a bastard. Kobe feels the same way about Shaq? He isn't evil so much as oblivious to the fact that his selfishness and drive causes consequences.

 
At 11/13/2007 6:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Riddle me this:

Steve Nash - Never committed to Don Nelson in Dallas, displayed little intention of advancing his game in Dallas beyond year one, allowed his conditioning to become an issue and was offended when they tried to trade him and others for Shaq.

Signs in Arizona, and has now spent 3 seasons in the best shape of his life, with 2 MVPs and 0 titles. He has advanced every facet of his game besides FT's (yes even his defense).

So basically, he spent his best years being the softest successful PG in the league, left a major team over a money issue, and is regarded as the ultimate PG in the league.

And I totally fail to understand. The ultimate un-clutch player. Has never averaged more than one god-damn steal a game in a career of 30+ minute seasons. Assist numbers inflated by team playing pace (while leading the league in turnovers). The most assists in one game in his career? 22. CP3 just had 21 didn't he?

How the fuck did a shittier defense playing Mark Price/Mark Jackson win 2 MVP's? A white fuckin' media, that's for sure. Self-loathing? Maybe. True? Definitely. How come Tim Hardaway didn't win a god-damn MVP?

 
At 11/13/2007 6:42 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Great Deadspin article. I'm biased towards Sheed so I agree whole-heartedly. Also, the frequence of his complaining isn't much higher than Duncan's, but certainly the perception of it is.

And maybe Stephen Jackson is like a sponge who soaks up how the front office of team he's on is acting and just projects that into every facet of his life.

 
At 11/13/2007 6:50 PM, Anonymous db said...

lost, guilty as charged on not providing any deeper analysis, there's a lot to go into. I'm just trying to gesture to the idea that I don't think fdb's as out of line as shoals' response made out, why I'm not sure, but some of it is that I never saw Laimbeer as anything other than a whiny rich kid who pulled moves that would get you shot on a lot of blocks, but because of his situation he was able to present himself as the hard-working type. But blue-collar? Well, I never saw it.

Perhaps the article is collapsing economic hustle, scrappiness with game-aesthetic hustle and scrappiness. and for me the analogies would become more complicated if the analysis was made with more accountability to what class and mobility means on the street rather than the "representation of class" in a kind of textual analysis. It's not that there's anything wrong with the analysis, but if you take the kind of looks at the game that have come from authors like Todd Boyd, Eric Anthony Neal, Michael Eric Dyson, Kenneth Shropshire... there's something else going on in that analysis that leaves the analogies shown here more difficult to make. And these are authors who've critiqued the class structure of the NBA through the fire of the player, rather than offering logical contradictions between media representations of hustle and the reality. Not that Krolik is way off on that point, it's just that I think just about every black person in a white-run game understands that automatically.

Ty bringing up protestantism is a good call. There's definitely religious/cultural value stuff going on here that probably does a better job than class analysis of explaining the relationships viewers have to players.

 
At 11/13/2007 6:54 PM, Anonymous db said...

Thank god for RSS:

http://deadspin.com/sports/free-darko-presents/index.xml

 
At 11/13/2007 7:31 PM, Blogger Captain Caveman said...

You had me at "Brett Ashley."

"She was built with curves like the hull of a racing yacht, and you missed none of it with that wool jersey." - Probably one of my favorite sentences.

 
At 11/13/2007 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sean Williams ended up with "Block of the Night" on NBA.com.

http://boss.streamos.com/wmedia/nba/nbacom/botn/botn_071112.asx

 
At 11/13/2007 7:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's not what I typed:

"http://boss.streamos.com/wmedia/nba/nbacom/botn/botn_071112.asx"

 
At 11/13/2007 8:45 PM, Anonymous Art Tatum Can't Shoot said...

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3108416

Time for a Free Darko Game:

What is Marbury doing during his mysterious hiatus?

 
At 11/13/2007 10:22 PM, Blogger rebar said...

stephon is currently so high he can't play basketball. he actually sees jesus.

wv qzgsjj: "quentin! the z-forces are stealing jesus and jeezy!" -stephon

 
At 11/13/2007 10:44 PM, Anonymous Robert Jordan said...

Well, I'm obviously a bit late on this, but I just wanted to say this is basically what I tried to do (in 500 words) for the short essay on my application to yale. High school basketball is a huge part of my life, but I couldn't bring myself to write the standard "big game" basketball essay. I'll find out if it worked on december 15.

I'm not sure why anyone here would care, but I thought I might as well mention.

 
At 11/13/2007 11:16 PM, Anonymous Zeke said...

Steve Nash's MVP awards have always been a huge joke. The voters for that award are kind of like Shoals and his acolytes -- while Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant are the epitome of substance, and their excellence is glossed over and ignored, too much time is spent hyping up and slobbing over flawed players who nonetheless have "flashier" or more "sexy" games.

One is free to spill ink over whomever they want, but I keep asking myself why I should care so much about Gil and Amare. The only thing that separates Gilbert Arenas from other shoot-first point guards that don't make their teammates better is that he's a candid self-promoter. Oh wait, no, that doesn't make him different at all. Oh, it's because he's "wacky" and "irreverent." Nope, not that either.

As for Amare, Black Jesus neck tattoos and microfracture surgery don't make him interesting. He's another in a long line of leapers. He can run and dunk and do nothing else. He doesn't make his teammates better. He can't create for himself without Nash. He's never bothered to learn how to get set defensively and play on both ends of the court. Why do I care about him, again?

As for how that ties in with Nash's MVP award? Well, just like the esoteric arguments advancing Gil and Amare's respective cases, strained logic dictated giving that award to John Stockton-lite when his former team got better without him, while Shaq left Los Angeles for Lamar Odom and Caron Butler and the Lakers fell apart. Riddle me that.

And for all of the credit that Nash has received for reviving Phoenix, I don't think he's that much different of a player from his time in Dallas. He's just in a system where he happens to be a square peg fitting into a perfectly square hole. In Dallas, he played the two-man game with Dirk and he spent all of his time setting up jumpshooters. In Phoenix, while it's true that Amare and the Matrix are immature head cases that can't create for themselves and don't understand what winning in this league is all about, they are nonetheless forwards who can run the floor like guards. That translates into Nash getting his assists on higher-percentage layups and dunks instead of the pick and pops he ran with Dirk and Finley. Yes, those guys in Phoenix needed Nash to shine, but what is never said and always overlooked is that he needed that just as much.

 
At 11/13/2007 11:21 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

try reading the site before you generalize about me. about every other post i do is about how fucking awesome i think kobe is.

and if you think nash didn't deserve at least one mvp, then you're in the minority, not me. that's like the "shaq is the mvp every year" argument, which i heard up until a year or two ago.

 
At 11/13/2007 11:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Sun Also Rises is a fitting reference for fd. Farewell to Arms is a much better book, fuck, so is The Old Man and the Sea, but of course it's not the trendy book du jour for pretentious undergrads the way TSAR is.

 
At 11/13/2007 11:30 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

It's amazing how many different levels of stupidity can be contained in one blog comment. Though from a guy named "Zeke," not surprising.

On one hand, Nash only gets recognition cause he's white, yet Amare is just a "leaper" who doesn't play the right way. Let me guess, Bruce Bowen is a gutty scrapper who does the Little Things (like intentionally injure opponents) that Help Your Team Win.

Oh, almost forgot, I hate the NBA because nobody plays defense, or everyone is on drugs anyway. Or do they play defense because they're all on drugs?

 
At 11/13/2007 11:44 PM, Anonymous Zeke said...

You can go adhominem Pooh, I'll just knock down your strawmen.

I didn't say Nash got recognition only because he was white, I thought I made it clear that he got attention because of how "flashy" and "sexy" his game is and how aethestically pleasing to the beat writers and the casual fans the Suns are to watch.

And I hate to break it to you, but just about nobody outside of San Antonio, mainstream sports media or blogging underworld, thinks Bruce Bowen isn't a dirty player. I spend plenty of time on Spurs boards, even they won't refute the charges.

Amare is only marginally better at creating for himself after his microfracture absence, he is at heart still an immature mental midget that relies on his athleticism more than guile or discipline. Yes, he can dunk. Yes, he can run the floor. Yes, he can even hit that midrange jumper now.

No, he can't get set properly on defense. No, he can't avoid going for the home run and the block every single time, rather than avoid silly fouls. No, he can't be diligent in his rehab and work hard. No, he can't be mindful of a rule that every player and coach has drilled into them time and time again, and drifts out onto the court when 8 of his teammates kept their asses parked in their seats. No, he can't avoid whining and complaining about the punishment for breaking that rule afterwards. If you want to go ahead and assume I'm drawing a correlation between his faults as a player and a preson due to his skin color and his impoverished upbringing, then that would be your racism, not mine.

I could care less about cornrows or tattoos, the ball is orange.

 
At 11/13/2007 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'm a big girl; just tell me."
"But none of it means a damned thing."

-----

Wasn't Rony Seikaly born into the old-fashioned wealth? Despite his banging ways (Elsa...), I remember his image being more Tony Stark than Iron Man. Exception or counterpoint?

 
At 11/13/2007 11:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rony Seikaly was the goy Danny Schayes.

 
At 11/14/2007 1:01 AM, Anonymous Mavis Beacon said...

Year-long lurker here who just wants to briefly emerge from the shadows to say that I absolutely love this post. While always entertaining, sometimes the messianic style and pursuit of Truth obscures, in my view, some smaller truths. Here, you hit it out of the park.

 
At 11/14/2007 2:16 AM, Blogger EL MIZ said...

rony seikaly and scott skiles had the two purest 3 point shots in nba jam (the original edition).

seikaly and baby jordan miner baby

 
At 11/14/2007 3:05 AM, Blogger Folkhero said...

Come on Zeke, now you're just making stuff up. I could argue that Amare left the bench before the altercation started, but that discussion is getting a bit stale at this point. What really got my attention is when you say that he whined about his punishment afterwards. I remember Nash and D'Antoni complaining about it, (that's what team leaders do, go to bat for their players) but I remember Amare handling the situation in a very adult way. He was clearly disappointed, but he never whined, complained or blamed anyone other than himself.

 
At 11/14/2007 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He said he didn't agree with the rule, which would be whining.

 
At 11/14/2007 10:39 AM, Anonymous shariq said...

This article on Reggie Theus provides pretty much the perfect example for your piece.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=adande_ja&page=Theus-071109

 
At 11/14/2007 10:50 AM, Blogger lost said...

that's a pretty narrow definition of whining, 1014. are we all just sittin here whining about each other?

truth be told i thought i remembered some whining from amare but i could be wrong- it was such a festival of mewling and crying i lost my bearings.


here, I was just hoping to get at the root of what irked some commentors about a post that seemed, to me, to have a bulging vein of silliness written right into it.

db, thanks for the reply. I'm with you on Laimbeer and protestantism, and hoping to catch up on Boyd et al.

 
At 11/14/2007 11:47 AM, Anonymous Zeke said...

That mewling and crying is why I find the "Suns would've won without the suspensions" argument so comical. From an X's and O's perspective, San Antonio went 3-2 against Phoenix with Amare and Diaw available. It's not like their presence guaranteed a Suns victory.

From another perspective, Diaw and Amare didn't have the poise and presence of mind to stay on the bench. How would they have responded to the pressure in a hypothetical Game Seven against a veteran team like the Spurs that never gets rattled?

 
At 11/14/2007 12:52 PM, Anonymous djslickwatts said...

I could care less about cornrows or tattoos, the ball is orange.

Yes, isn't it pretty to think so?

 
At 11/14/2007 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

THE BALL IS BROWN LIKE THE AMERICAN BLACK.

 
At 11/14/2007 12:55 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

and with that, freedarko officially reached a wider audience.

 
At 11/14/2007 1:09 PM, Anonymous Zeke said...

"Yes, isn't it pretty to think so?"

I don't see what's so hard to understand. Etan Thomas has tattoos and an "ethnic" hairstyle, and without his bum ticker, he'd be welcome on my team anytime. Same with Allen Iverson, albeit he is infinitely more talented than Thomas. He plays his fucking guts out. They don't come much "blacker" than the Answer.

Just to contrast when it comes to being clean-cut and a dearth of tattoo sleeves, I wouldn't let Vince Carter in my locker room as an equipment manager.

 
At 11/14/2007 2:22 PM, Anonymous MaxwellDemon said...

Zeke--who are these "Tim Duncan" and "Kobe Bryant" individuals you mentioned? Their excellence has been so glossed over and ignored that I have not heard tell of them!

 
At 11/14/2007 2:46 PM, Anonymous Zeke said...

I was referring to freedarko's treatment of those individuals, not ESPN or Fox Sports. Kobe is a bad example because he gets plenty of posts made about him on here, but is he really celebrated or treasured as much as Gil or Amare round these parts?

As for Duncan, he gets almost no love here, and the Spurs are regularly assumed by the fd ethos to be evil.

 
At 11/14/2007 3:15 PM, Blogger lost said...

I will throw Timmy some love for his performance in game five of that series.

Never mind the controversy or the rosters. Nash was killing. The Spurs were rattled.

Then Timmy decided, 'fuckit, im'a win this fucking game'. Not that he would ever say such a thing aloud.

He was defending the p&r all by himself. Without Amare, Nash couldn't overcome Timmy's one-man mob defense. Timmy's teammates, despite all their potty training by Pop, had enough sense to get the hell out of the way and let their star be a star for a change.




As far as 'what winning in this league is all about' means, there are coaches and teams trying to change that definition away from the old-timey 'pure' basketball model. I support their efforts. The game is not static, or at least need not be.



wv: 'lirck' dez nurtz, Jerry Sloan

 
At 11/14/2007 3:33 PM, Anonymous Zeke said...

"What winning in this league is all about" is not a crack at the Suns up-tempo style. I think it would be great for the league if they could win a title. Their model of increasing the # of possessions per game since nobody can match them in offensive efficiency probably draws in more fans than the Spurs excelling in their half-court sets.

That comment was more of a reference to Marion and Amare getting wrapped up in alpha dog fights, Marion demanding a trade because he would rather anchor a 35-win team than play Spock to Nash's Kirk, and Amare dogging it in his rehab during the 05-06 season. Do these guys not realize how short Nash's window is? How good they have it in Phoenix? You could throw condemn Diaw for not being serious enough either, since he ate his way out of shape and couldn't adjust to his touches going down with Amare coming back.

 
At 11/14/2007 3:53 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

Yes, if only the Suns were the Spurs, the world would be set right, and we could finally really respect the Suns the way that only the Spurs deserve to be respected.



wv: duaxdin--what Cheney's hooked on

 
At 11/14/2007 3:59 PM, Anonymous Zeke said...

Can you read Mr. Six? Did I say the Suns should adopt the Spurs grind it out halfcourt style? I just questioned their collective maturity and mettle, along with their sense of entitlement, since last time I checked, they've barely accomplished more than the Orlando Magic.

 
At 11/14/2007 4:27 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

Obviously, I can read.

Are you able to comprehend your own writing, or do you simply string a series of words together that resonant sympathetically with your hermetically logical world view but without any consideration of their implications?


sakbgraq--southwest Asian nation on the 2099 map

 
At 11/14/2007 5:27 PM, Anonymous Zeke said...

Okay, I'll rephrase...Can you read something without attaching your own prejudices or preconceived notions?

I was simply comparing the Suns and Spurs where poise and maturity was concerned, at least as it relates to playoff experience. There was no implication whatsoever, at least none that any rational observer would make, that I think Nash and company should reinvent themselves as masters of the half court. I think it would benefit Phoenix to strive for the same resiliency and discipline.

As for stringing together a series of words that resonate sympathetically with a hermetically logical world view without any consideration of their outside implication, that's a classic case of projection considering how the fd crowd operates.

 
At 11/14/2007 5:35 PM, Blogger Uptown said...

Me and a friend have been discussing the kobe/gatsby comparison off and on for the past day, wanted to see what others thought of our ideas. Basically we felt some parts worked greatly with the comparison. First, their inability to fit in with a certain class is alike, yet contrasting.
Both men are literally damned to never fit in in any environment. kobe was rasied black in italy, grew up black/italian in philly, and became a man when he was 18 in los angelas surrounded by grown men who had no interest in raising him. he never fit in, is a lifelong misfit, and no amount of hard work or self-assumed greatness is going to make up for that. similarly, gatsby runs the same course. Aspiring to be a great man when he was blue collar, he then tries to become great through his own hard work and dedication, but is denied access to the graces of the upper-class due to his lack of past history.

gatsby seems to mirror kobe in the aspect that neither man can shake their history, or more important sculpt their upbringing and enhirited positions in the class structures they live and work in to their own benefit.
Secondly, we agree they're both chasing something unattainable (Gatsby= daisy, Kobe= the title of being the greatest ever)
It is there we begin to have problems with the comparison. Is there a Tom B in Kobe's world? Is it Jordan because he holds his version of daisy? Yes, but Jordan as Tom B doesn't totally fit in with the rest of Kobe's career, dismissal of shaq, who/what is shaq in gatsby's world??? Is gatsby's need to have daisy love him and only him (and not tom) match kobe's desire to be successful only by himself, if so how does Jordan fit in? HELP!!!!

 
At 11/14/2007 6:03 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

The best part of FreeDarko is that it even attracts a more literate species of troll...

vw: ykdrd - Yinka Dare Day

 
At 11/14/2007 8:00 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

You're really just compounding my point, Zeke.

If you wanted to offer a narrow comparison, free from the possibility of implication and inference, you should have written it more carefully. Both author and reader bear responsibility, so you have to make your words mean what you want them to or accept that ambiguity will breed interpretation. As a reader, I bring my prejudices to the text, but I also try to fairly ascertain meaning and intent. Your original text wasn't nearly as narrow as your post-hoc efforts to bind it, and I find your claim of "what you meant to say" somewhat disingenuous.

And further, to call FD an echo-chamber is laughably counterfactual. Contrary views are welcome. In my experience, those of interest get treated as such, and BS and laziness get called to the carpet.


fonrquit--new hybrid fruit

 
At 11/14/2007 9:53 PM, Anonymous Zeke said...

That's all well and good and noble, Mr. Six, and very patronizingly "helpful." But I don't think 3:33 pm leaves much room for ambiguity regarding what I think the Suns should emulate vis a vis the Spurs. Which is why your reply at 3:53 pm is basically a strawman. Your prerogative of course, not mine.

Is FD an echo chamber? I agree there isn't unanimous consensus on anything, and the site's administrators don't police the comments section. From the lurking I've done here, I would hazard a guess that the function of the comments section would seem to be an exercise in building up mythologies regarding certain players who have been deemed "free darko." No harm in that, and it can be quite fun to draw parallels between ballers and F. Scott Fitzgerald characters.

If one doesn't naturally view basketball through this prism, or doesn't believe that the game reveals and represents certain larger cultural or sociopolitical truths, then that person would most certainly be in the minority here. It's like academics or communist revolutionaries debating a peripheral issue when they're already on the same side of an argument, as opposed to East meets West.

 
At 11/15/2007 11:31 AM, Blogger lost said...

with the sheer ca$h and the tremendous number of young black americans and foreign players chasing it, the NBA is tied up with larger cultural or sociopolitical truths, whether it wants to be or not.

whether the 'game' itself 'reveals and represents' those truths, I've interpreted as a question this blog intends to explore. some choose to explore by first accepting, but not all.

As such, I welcome your point of view. but I agree with pooh about the way it's been delivered.

three thirty-three is an alright time to be stirred from a nice mid-afternoon nap by somebody offering a concise explanation.

But don't forget the time you stormed in at 11:16 at night talking shit. try that at my house, it's not gonna be any explanation.

 
At 11/16/2007 4:28 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

If there's a Iago on the Lakers it is unquestionably Phil Jackson, not Kobe or anyone else.

 
At 11/17/2007 11:56 AM, Blogger ** said...

re: Ricky Davis - I love the guy, his game and all that shit, but the incontrovertible fact is that he missed a shot on purpose with the goal of getting a triple double. Spoiled? Not really. Selfish? by definition. This whole theorem reminds me of every errant/ill-advised Brett Favre pass. "He's a gunslinger!" Whereas if anyone else made such a pass it would be just ill-advised, bad decision making.

 
At 11/17/2007 1:13 PM, Blogger Johnson Hall RD said...

To bring this to a whole different (not-unintelligent, just not as intelligent) level, I'd like to throw up a shout-out for the Serenity screen-cap. That's about as FD a show as you've had the last 5 years or so.

 
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