"I just realized that Ricky Davis got traded for Toine. That's like an international arms deal gone horribly wrong" --Bethlehem Shoals
Last night the Knicks played the Timberwolves, pitting the team constructed by Isiah Thomas against the team that Kevin McHale built with his own two hands. In my continuous defense of Thomas and McHale as perennial executives of the year, I wish to point to a brilliant interview on KFAN with the Twin Cities’ Britt Robson, my favorite local sportswriter. The interview discusses a psychoanalyzed character study of McHale, casting him as a stoic figure, an iron range folk hero, who has never showed one bit of concern about his plummeting status in Minnesota as the GM who stole XMas. The interview is really juicy especially with regard to McHale's views on Flip and KG. The bottom line is that McHale is a rugged individual. McHale has always wanted to play smashmouth basketball. He has said this time and time again. Smashmouth--going hard to the hole, boxing out, getting physical, playing with your back to the basket--this is not KG's game, and this is not Flip's game. KG and Flip are finesse guys. Always have been.
This is has been the fundamental rift between management and performance, and this has been at the root of so many of the Wolves' problems over the past few years (I also like McHale's general distaste for softbatch behavior...e.g. the allusion to him HATING Flip's continual reliance on the "underdog" excuse for losing playoff series--McHale was essentially saying that if your team wins 47 games and the other team wins 52 games, then shut the f*ck up about being an underdog. The difference is minimal.)
In this sense, can't we again lessen the blame on McHale for the Wolves' struggles? McHale is old school, tough, and he played to punch people in the mouth. That was his vision for the team that never emerged. Similarly, Isiah is trying to build an organization in correspondence with his status as a player: Zeke is doing anything he can to get ahead, continuously adjusting on the fly, snatching up malcontents who just want to score, anything to get a few more points on the board. Bottom line is: Just because RC Buford got creative and started sending scouts to Tajikistan, it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with McHale and Isiah being trapped in Reaganomics basketball.
...One other thought crossed my mind while watching the Wolves last night. For the second game in a row, they kept it competitive for 42 minutes and eventually wilted. To broaden up the discussion, this is PRECISELY what I have seen during the first few Sonics games, and it is endlessly frustrating. Self-fulfilling prophecies run rampant in the NBA each year, with the anomaly being some team like last year's Warriors grabbing the league by the balls and yelling, "FREEDOM."
I'm sick of this "give the young team time to gel" b.s.. The Sonics are extremely extremely good, but aren't winning merely because they aren't expected to. Say nobody in the NBA knew anyone else's age, number of years in the league, or collegiate history, the Sonics would be destroying people. All of the talent is right there right now. One of my many lig-wide theories is that in the NBA every team is extremely good, we have hit a ceiling of talent--the only thing that separates teams whether you think you're supPOSED to win."
I guess my main beef with the NBA is that this year everyone seems terribly unimaginative, even mores than in years past. Nobody learned sh#t from last year's playoffs and they seem perfectly willing to let the Spurs just walk back in the door and reclaim the title. My favorite example is the Nuggets. They're a pretty hot pick to be contenders this year. But what makes them any closer to a title or even a first round playoff win than before? What makes George Karl think, "Yep, this is the year that the run-and-gun-play-no-defense style FINALLY beats the Spurs." Can someone please do something?
I have more rants on LeBron and on ESPN's incredibly amateurish coverage of the Kobe-to-Bulls story, but I'll save those for another day. Shall close with Nas' new video for "Surviving the Time" produced by Chris Webber. I continue to be amused by the Nas/Webber dyad in that is so depressing and fitting and has produced really brooding songs with really tinny drums. Nothing embodies Webber more than really tinny drums: