11.05.2007

Gigabyte Don't


"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:




26 Comments:

At 11/05/2007 3:47 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Nice post Dr. LIC.

Yo Chief, it's called experience. I get a little better every year, that's improvement.

That's why the Sonic will fail to win much more than 20 games, tops. It has nothing to do with expectations. Durant and Green will learn.

Also, there's the whole Watson/West/Ridnour guard situation.

I like the analysis of McHale/Thomas GM style as being byproducts of their playing styles.

Along those lines: Chris Mullin. Imagine my surprise when I saw that what the Warriors cap situation looks like at the end of the year, and at the end of 2009 (the biggest free agent year of this decade).

Now remember what the cap situation looked like last season at this point. He went from a going nowhere team with loads of big unmovable contracts to trading two of those contracts (Murphy and Dunleavy) to a white-boy hungry team for their "headaches", which in turn worked perfectly with your mad scientist coach. Then you chuck your best player (and worst remaining contract) to the only team in the league who can't sign free agents (Joe Johnson proved the Hawks can sign free agents once a decade) for an exemption (and Brandon Wright). You replace him in the starting lineup with a dude whose salary is so low it doesn't even get reported. According to Hoops Hype's salary chart, Azuibuike is getting paid in merchandise, sort of like that summer I worked nights at Urban Outfitters to get some furnishings for my crib.

Oh, and thanks to the "surprise" upset of the Mavs in the first round, you can suck all year and your fans won't hold it against you.

Chris Mullins' GM style is likw those clutch three pointers he used to hit at St. John's or something....

 
At 11/05/2007 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

snaps for the McHale defense... even though it's almost a basketball Holocaust denial.

wv: 'retod' ... perfect.

 
At 11/05/2007 4:01 PM, Blogger goathair said...

This also explains why MJ only wants dudes who were dominant in the NCAA Final Four.

 
At 11/05/2007 4:16 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Kelenna's Azubuikes are listed here: http://www.shamsports.com/content/pages/data/salaries/warriors.jsp

I find Mullin's drunken 3 strategy to be overly reactionary. Baron's going to either get $20 million per or leave. Ditto Biedrins and $10 mil. Pietrus didn't want to resign, Barnes is grumbling about playing time with Stax Jax suspended. Monta and Kelenna won't stay unless they get paid. So, yes it's a fun short term frenzy, but by the time Brandan Wright arrives (if he does) Nellie will be gone. I look at 2009 and see the potential for sadness.

 
At 11/05/2007 4:26 PM, Anonymous Laphonso said...

I have to quibble with Garnett as finesse. This label just doesn't seem to work for me. How finesse can you be if you put up 20-10 for 10 years? (Numbers McHale never reached in the same season.)

I'm also unsure of where McHale's love for Smashmouth basketball comes from. Wasn't his game predicated upon an endless array of crafty (and maybe even finesse) post moves? Maybe McHale wants his teams to be something he never was, but aren't lack of vision and resistance to change the definition of a bad GM?

 
At 11/05/2007 4:28 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

watch this first move: smashmouth.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtDNTt5p3F8

and garnett has never ever ever been finesse. his signature move is the fadeaway and he doesn't box out. he gets rebounds because he jumps higher then everyone else.

 
At 11/05/2007 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anybody else saddened by the look of existential despair on 'Toine's face? I can't stand him as a player and still I find that photo depressing.

 
At 11/05/2007 4:44 PM, Anonymous Spectator said...

The thing is that winning tight games down the stretch in the NBA is a skill as much as anything else. It's not about gelling, it's about knowing what to do when it's a close and there's less than five minutes to go. Many a talented team has lost a game down the stretch with stoopid forced shots and turnovers. And say what you want about the Spurs and Pistons being boring, but they put on a nightly clinic on how you win those sorts of games. That all said, Hawks seem to be the breakout team this year that decides oh yeah that lots of talent really does mean that you can win basketball games.

 
At 11/05/2007 5:24 PM, Anonymous matt said...

it hasnt even been a week dude...we know nothing about the sonics or the nba season in general. CHILL BRAH

 
At 11/05/2007 5:36 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Style as player = style as GM is a very interesting theory. Dumars = great talent overlooked for more flashy/attractive contemporaries? But what about Ainge then?

And for what it's worth, the beat to the Nas/webber collaboration can also be found on this track from '99 I believe - Superstar Quamallah - Grand Wizard:

http://www.zshare.net/audio/4697309667cdcd/

 
At 11/05/2007 5:59 PM, Blogger Joey said...

A few things:

1) sml said it's about experience, and it is. Even if you're gonna play the hardest of hardbody basketball--something, I'd argue, which might make it easier to succeed early since brute force and desire may disarm even experienced finesse types--the NBA is something you need to learn if you want to win big. It is a select few who can come in and make a real impact. Magic, Timmy D (sorry that he's so non-FD). You can't just decide that because you desire to be exceptional your aspiration will manifest itself in wins.

2) As exciting as it's been to watch Phoenix and Golden State dare to let the wax on their wings melt as they creep ever closer to the sun, both have yet to do anything other than ultimately fall back. That reality, coupled with the success of play-the-right-way teams (Detroit, San Antone) and old-world superstar outfits (Miami), may account for the alleged lack of creativity.

One of the reasons that San Antonio keeps winning is that most teams can only play one way--with one style, one pace, one set of rhythms--while the Spurs have a roster full of players who have multiple competencies. It seems like the real challenge for a GM in today's NBA is to assemble a team that simultaneously has a set identity (which, for the Spurs, is embodied by Duncan's game) but can also do what its opponents do as well as they do it, whatever "it" is on a given night. San Antonio can score with Phoenix while exploiting matchup advantages. And the Spurs can then grind it out.

The creativity vacuum appears to demand versatility, not a devotion to seeing one style trump all.

3) Speaking of absent creativity...what happened to word verification on this site? I saw Anon 3:52 did it, and that is among the most FD posts I've seen in a while. People need to get back to that. On which internet does the micro-level creation and celebration of mythology that comes with wv find a more appropriate audience?

wv: phxfyx--the text message you'd send to your friend explaining the knee operation Amare just had.

 
At 11/05/2007 6:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came here for some meat, potatoes, vegetables and a little cream pudding instead i was served small plate of cold soup with stale bread.

 
At 11/05/2007 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I imagine we've got a filet mignon coming with a story about a child/MAN from Palestine, Texas.

 
At 11/05/2007 7:04 PM, Blogger J.R. said...

I've got to agree with Dr. LIC on the Sonics. I was at the Clips/Sonics tilt yesterday, and it was obvious that if they ran Durant, Green, Wilcox, West, and [x] out there for an extended run, they would have walked out with a W.

Green is for real. I can't understand why he isn't getting starters minutes yet. KD filled up the stat sheet, but it was quiet - too much time sitting at the 3 point arc waiting for the ball. The biggest surprise was his feet. He has the biggest feet I've ever seen.

 
At 11/05/2007 7:29 PM, Anonymous badly drawn boykins said...

MC Welk:
I hear what you're saying about the Warriors' cap state in 2009, but I think you misunderestimate how much the CBA limits player movement via free agency.

For one thing, most teams in the league don't know how to manage the cap, or don't care, so that limits the number of buyers bidding for free agents. And most teams are afraid to bid on RFAs - look at what happened with Andy Varejao. It looked like he played himself into a nice payday, but his increased valuation scared teams off, since Cleveland could wait until the last possible moment to match, and hold their cap space hostage. Memphis really wanted him, but Chris Wallace ultimately decided Darko was a better value.

In 2 years, the Warriors will be sitting pretty when it comes to Davis - either his knees are completely busted, or he's stayed healthy and he's worth the $20 million/year investment. 2nd Tier guys like Biedrins and Monta will find that the market is limited and they're better off staying in Oakland. And they still have the MLE to go after a specific need area. Plus, with the current Silicon Valley revival, they should be able afford a few million in luxury tax. That's how I see it anyway.

re: player style = GM style
I want to see how Steve Kerr turns out - he obviously has a rep as a 3-point shooter, but Phil Jackson loved him because he defended the pick-and-roll well.

And what kind of player would Jerry Krause be?

WV: vdgvbe = Vernon Maxwell demands good vibes

 
At 11/05/2007 7:59 PM, Blogger J.E. said...

"Curry's shot was blocked and Minnesota gained possession, but the Timberwolves failed to tie when Antoine Walker -- who appeared to be dozing off on the bench in the third quarter -- launched a 26-footer to tie that missed with 6.9 seconds left, allowing the Knicks to hold on for a 97-93 victory."

 
At 11/05/2007 8:02 PM, Anonymous grillo said...

i kinda agree with dr LIC, the league seems to follow its own narrative as if trying to adhere to canon. It works in the context but it doesn't mean it's the only way. Last year's GSW run comes to mind but i'm also thinking about the recent team usa debacles as examples: when greece won that semifinal they pretty much played their very simple ball from first quarter to the very last second. You can't just play shitty D for three quarters and then lock it up down the stretch because that's when men are made and such, sounds stupid.

 
At 11/05/2007 8:25 PM, Anonymous MaxwellDemon said...

I agree with the Doctor to the extent that teams might be limited by conventional wisdom as to their potential, but I maintain that the Sonics get a grace period. If it wasn't for Kurt Thomas' statistically outlying elderly ass, the average age of that squad would be 12. To be contrarian, though, the Lakers thus far have exceeded all expectations. But who knew that Luke Walton spent the summer at Swag School and would bring the nutmeg pass to the NBA?

If anybody goes to a Sonics game and yells "Jeff Green is people! Jeff Green is people!", I for one would be amused.

 
At 11/05/2007 9:39 PM, Anonymous theNASTYone said...

The premise that all teams are equally talented and that good teams only win because they are expected to is weak sauce. soo... Spurs=Sonics. Spurs + Positive Expectations > Sonics. If only my mom had expected me to be smarter I would have gotten better than a 920 on my SATs....

 
At 11/05/2007 11:02 PM, Anonymous cw said...

"The Sonics are extremely extremely good, but aren't winning merely because they aren't expected to."

They don't win becasue they don't win. The expectations of the league or the fans have nothing to do with it. The game provides an objective measure. The team that has more points at the end is the better team. You can argue that the warriors are a delicious tornado of ominous whipped cream or that Kobe is the love child of Ted Bundy and Albert Einstein, but it's all slightly hollow if they don't win.

 
At 11/06/2007 3:34 AM, Blogger personalmathgenius said...

Y'all totally missed DLIC's point, as in some "I Am Not A Role Model" commercial.
It's not whether the Spurs are expected to win- it's whether they've got the yarbles to be honestly surprised when Belgie or Boring misses, when Manu or Bowen submarine someone and get caught, etc. It's simple, either your internal narrative is rich enough to remember doing things right and correlate those accurately (but not overwhelmingly- and on the accurate note, see Davis, Ricky for opp. exa.) to times when you did something wrong- or it doesn't.
That's confidence. It's not about experience either. There's at least a dog year's worth of bench, injury, and general suckitude in at least 21 feet of Seattle's bench and hence, it may not be unreasonable for them to doubt themselves.
If I'm grokking accurately here, this is where someone connects KD with Vince, invokes swag on the Kardashev Level II, what with them both being Longhorns and post-Singularity in their respective sports.

 
At 11/06/2007 9:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that all of you exist.

 
At 11/06/2007 10:32 AM, Anonymous Art Tatum Can't Shoot said...

I don't think there's a better example of a GM creating a team in his image than the Bulls. Think about it- a crew of hard- nosed, scrappy jumpshooters. But what about the interest in Kobe? Is it an acknowledgement on his part that without MJ, his career was meaningless?

 
At 11/06/2007 2:26 PM, Anonymous cw said...

PersonalMathetc...

I'm not sure that that was his point. It's a pretty easy thing to say "they don't expect to win so they lose, " but he didn't really write it that way. But I guess if you read through it again, I see that probably you are right. I think I was thrown by the "seattle is extremely extremely good..." as I don't think that that is true.

 
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