A Kinder, Gentler Machine Gun Hand

There seems to be a growing consensus that there's something wrong with the Suns. I don't think the change in perception has anything to do with their record – since, you know, it's the same as last year's at this point – or whether a win over San Antonio makes up for a loss to Minnesota. In fact, I don't think it has anything to do with how successful they've been, but something that Shoals has been fearing for a while now: their game has become infected by orthodoxy.

Some of the perceived dissatisfaction might be the result of jaded disciples of the Run and Gun who feel burned for putting their faith in them to bring legitimacy to the offense first, second, and third systems most of us crave. Worried that the Suns are inadvertently proving the cliche of "defense wins championships" a truism, there is reluctance to re-up the zeal for '08. A large chunk of the blame for the recent negative reaction is probably also owed to Golden State for letting the wheels fall off the wagon entirely last spring. By dropping the "organized" from "organized chaos," the Warriors showed the world what fun the Run and Gun could truly be. They can argue that method underlies it all they want, but the madness is still the prevailing feature, something that cannot be said for Phoenix. Contrasted with the absurdity of Barnes' full court bullets and Jackson's delayed no-looks, the Nash-led break can't help but feel downright traditional.

The Suns' diminished status as the darlings of the NBA goes beyond just them failing to live up to the gold standard set by Golden State. After all, the Warriors at their finest manage to make everyone else in the Association seem stodgy in comparison. The weakened bond between America and the Suns is also attributable to the fact that we're an incredibly fickle bunch, especially now that some of the novelty has begun to wear off. In '05 everyone took notice that, holy crap, Amare eats babies. Then in '06 our interest was sustained by the fact that the machine kept churning almost as impressively even without Stoudemire. Last season, the joy was rekindled as an only slightly less explosive Amare was reintroduced and the offensive onslaught continued. This year, unless you're geeked for the Grant Hill renaissance, 07-08 just sort of feels like a redo of what has come before.

Expecting a rebirth each season is awfully unreasonable, especially considering most teams go years without bothering to shift plotlines, but with some of the newness worn off we can start to make out some of the uglier truths that our initial awe had previously masked. Namely, at his most offensive, D'Antoni is as rigid and systemized as the worst of Right Way offenders that we generally rally against in these parts. His refusal to go beyond his top seven, even in the freaking preseason, because the surplus guys fail to perfectly fit his predefined roles is more miserly than even Larry Brown is capable of.

Yes, well-executed fast breaks and alley oops will almost always be more entertaining than well-run pick-and-rolls, but exciting routines can still become routine. The parade of drive-and-kicks has become predictable and stale this year, with the countless corner 3's feeling eerily reminiscent of San Antonio. Maybe it's profane to suggest, but when you get right down to it, Nash's dribbling just isn't that thrilling. Once you get past the facade of flash, his game relies as much on precision and execution as the Big Fun's. He's probably the only player capable of making a behind-the-back pass seem methodical and cruelly efficient.

Furthermore, the fact that Marion is as uncomfortable under D'Antoni as Kirilenko is under Sloan is extremely telling. Interpret it as a battle of egos among would-be alpha dogs all you want, but to me it looks like unpredictability incarnated aching to be liberated. I'm sure Raja's having a great time enjoying a career that only Mike and Steve could have endowed him with, just as limited players like Bowen are loving life within the extremely limited structures that allow for their success; but for truly versatile gems like Marion, the orthodoxy is suffocating, regardless of the pace at which it presents itself.

I know there is probably rarely any truth to be gleaned from "NBA Live Trax," but I still couldn't help but laugh at D'Antoni's pep talk during a recent halftime. With the Suns looking flat for much of the first half, Mike earnestly urged his troops to "get wild and crazy out there!" as though insanity were a quality you could instill and not something you innately either have or do not. I'm all for embracing identity, but it has to come naturally. The calculatedness of D'Antoni's "organized chaos," right down to the emblematic "7 seconds or less" mantra, ends up feeling far too similar to the "at least four passes before shooting" bullshit that makes most of us cringe.

Perhaps we've unfairly burdened them with the expectation to lead an upheaval that they never had any interest in, but right or wrong, that 04-05 season did give us hope that a free-flowing system could at least shake the walls of the establishment a little. The McCallums of the world did their part to build up the narrative of the Suns as the antidote to structure and control, a plotline I'm sure most will cling to long after reality ceases to reflect the "anything goes" perception that we've tagged them with. Regardless of whether or not they see themselves as a part of the struggle, they will make their mark on it in the end. They've essentially become the reverse of the "fight the system from within" mindset (probably best symbolized by Utah). By trying to do the Run and Gun, but doing it right, D'Antoni's efforts end up doing more harm than good by giving the revolution a bad name.


At 12/24/2007 6:40 AM, Blogger Wes Hawk said...

I care not what you bitches say.

Watching Nash dribble around until he makes a pass through a seam that no other human being on earth can see, let alone thread a bball through, still excites me, even when Amare and Co. blow the shot and rob Nash of assists.

His constant dribble is a revelation and might only ever find a few mortals competent enough to practice it (C Paul might be one, as someone pointed out earlier on FD).

The fact that D'Antoni made a way to free Nash's talents makes me appreciate his approach. Let us not forget, Marion and Amare were unrealized potential prior to Nash's arrival. They went from turnover machines to All Stars overnight thanks to the little Canadian.

As much as I love FD and the ethos espoused herein, if the FD universe cannot continue to love the Nash/D'Antoni revolution, then that universe is entirely too fickle.

At 12/24/2007 6:53 AM, Blogger Zeke said...

"There seems to be a growing consensus that there's something wrong with the Suns."

Really? It seems more like to me that there is a growing understanding that they likely won't win a title as they are currently constructed. Steve Kerr played for Jordan's Bulls and Timmy's Spurs, he understands you need interior defense to win a title, and the Suns don't play any. I don't know what the hell "their game has become infected by orthodoxy" even means. As for Golden State, they showed the world what fun the Run and Gun could truly be alright, all the way to the second round of the playoffs.

"Furthermore, the fact that Marion is as uncomfortable under D'Antoni as Kirilenko is under Sloan is extremely telling."

What it reveals is that Marion is a mental midget, someone without the self-awareness to realize just how good he has it in Phoenix, too caught up over who gets the credit and the love for Phoenix's success, no matter what their postseason faults might be. D'Antoni and his system have many faults, but I don't see how you can put Marion's relative unhappiness on him. Marion might want to ask Joe Johnson what the difference is between being Spock on an elite club and Captain Kirk on a team going nowhere. Those who understand how these things work know how valuable and important Marion is to what the Suns do. Being the best player on a team would illuminate all the flaws and holes in his game, as well as how he's not a franchise-player level talent.

At 12/24/2007 7:12 AM, Blogger Anthony said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 12/24/2007 7:13 AM, Blogger 800# said...

I mean, maybe I'm missing something here, but my daddy always told me that the run and gun is grounded in strong ball defense. High pressure, off the backboard, hawk the shit out of it defense. It takes more energy and precision to force the steals, blocks, and rebounds that the Suns were creating than most teams can muster. Yeah, they can still create off of a well placed pass and a well timed cut, but ultimately it comes down to Marion being a long armed freak with no friends. Problem is that ball defense wears people down. I think the Suns were never quite able to keep up their scheme into the playoffs, and now that they're older and less interested they're having trouble with the slight of hand.
I've watched the C's a bunch this season, and I'm pretty sure that they're what happens when Nellieball is perfectly married with ball defense. It's fast, it gets Jesus open looks outside the arc, and it recognized that KG was what happened when you put Marion on a shitty team (I don't get why SM seemed so happy at the thought of that... ) They play perfect ball that can only be considered "right-way" because they're winning. Why can't a humiliating Rondo steal be as FD as Amare's air time?

At 12/24/2007 7:13 AM, Blogger Zeke said...

"if the FD universe cannot continue to love the Nash/D'Antoni revolution, then that universe is entirely too fickle."

That's the impression I unfortunately get from time to time. Shoals once said that the Mavs qualified for fd-ness because they, along with the Suns, had "healed the Association's goriest wounds." And while the Suns and Nash in particular seemingly get a pass for being entertaining, if not quite stout enough to win a title, Dirk has been flogged mercilessly by Shoals for his team's failures against Golden State. Nevermind that Dirk's postseason resume is better than Nash's, pockmarked as it is with the Miami and Golden State debacles.

At 12/24/2007 9:47 AM, Blogger PhDribble said...

Really like the post. And I think you're onto something in terms of the luster lost aka no more fresh car smell. And I don't think you can blame this on fickle-fan-attention-span.

The most surprising development of last summer, for me, was Nash's. The Canadian machine finally broke his routine and played soccer. He skipped his grueling pain-cersize, and gave his body a break. That's huge. And points to the biggest difference this year: the Suns seems to finally have realized that the regular season doesn't matter.

In the past regular seasons, they've had a mission, whether that's proving themselves to the Lig, developing the team w/o Amare, then developing the team w/Amare's return. Finally, this year, they seem to have gotten the eye on the prize. And while that may mean that fans can't enjoy their exceptionalism in the regular season, the moment I heard that Nashy had basically taken the summer off, was when I thought they had their first legitimate shot at winning it all.

Watch out in the post-season. These guys have finally become veterans. Because they've learned the most important rule of the regular season: it doesn't matter.

At 12/24/2007 10:21 AM, Blogger Zeke said...

"Watch out in the post-season. These guys have finally become veterans. Because they've learned the most important rule of the regular season: It doesn't matter."

So how does one qualify for the postseason, then? By popular acclaim? The Rockets won a title as a six seed, the Knicks made it to the Finals in the lockout year as an 8 seed, but other than that, you need a top-four seed and HCA for at least one round if you want to make a title run. The Suns will surely do that much between now and April.

But they still only use a 7-man rotation, they still can't stop teams inside, they still can't rebound, and given Marion's whininess, Duhmare's persitent immaturity and Grant Hill currently getting 35 minutes a night and we've barely made it to Christmas, excuse me if I'm extremely skeptical.

At 12/24/2007 11:15 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

"Duhmare" is about the least funny thing I've ever read.

As for the ficklness—don't all revolutions end up being immutable in theory, fickle in practice?

At 12/24/2007 12:30 PM, Blogger Tony said...

The Suns collapsed their own lungs last season. Wasn't there lots of propaganda coming from Phoenix with a slogan that basically said "Get a ring or die trying"? They died trying. With a crybaby coach like D'Antoni in charge it wouldn't surprise me if the feeling in the locker room this season is similar to the plight of a neutered dog. Kind of like we're still alive, but what's the point? If last season was their best chance and they didn't do anything to get better after San Antonio gave them the snip then they have nothing to hope for. They are victims of their own hype. Now you have Nash upset with the team's effort and no one in the media believes in them anymore. The Lakers were the team they could embarrass to make them feel better about themselves and if Bynum goes Amare on them while Kobe goes Nash this Christmas will be the atomic wedgie of the Phoenix Suns.

At 12/24/2007 12:32 PM, Blogger rebar said...

i take a wee bit of umbrage at having the C's compared to my beloved Bay Area Bashers (or any other true run and gun team). While the boys in green may get mr. shuttlesworth outside looks and rondo is good at stealing the ball, you're missing the forest for the trees. the type of run and gun generalized idolized on this site is more a mindset or dare i say it, a "system" (in the sense that it works in a specific way, not that it entails specific things). the Celtics do not work that way. i've watched them play numerous times and aside from rondo occasionally fast breaking, the leading trend is half court sets with back court cuts and whatnot. it's telling that paul pierce, not rondo, is the leading assist man on that team because it implies that they get a lot of open shots off of pierce driving and then either kicking it out or handing it off to a big man inside. that is not run and gun. when your idea of a go-to play (this was against detroit) is having a very good slasher take an offbalance mid-range jumpshot, you certainly don't qualify as run and gun.

At 12/24/2007 1:34 PM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

"As for ficklness-don't all revolutions end up being immutable in theory, fickle in practice?"

Fickle is a kind, or apologetic, way of saying cruel and self-absorbed. One aught to define revolution as, aggrandized ideals realized as horrible actions. Why one would harp as positive the FD "virtues" of revolution and ignore the suffering wails one hears beneath its wheel is beyond me.

Seven Seconds or Less is a system meant to engender in it's players an active role in all parts of the game. It has a direct relationship with the UCLA system under Wooden in which he preached quickness and aggressiveness. It is high energy in all facets of the system and will not work in the long term without depth and youth. If the Suns could go 9 or 10 deep (and they would if not for some questionable moves with draft picks in the last 5 years) they would be capable of dominating both the regular and post season.

As for the points regarding Nash, I experience watching him with the same amazement as Wes Hawk. There are few players whose performance I consistently drop my jaw over and Nash is the only of those who uses his mind to such a large proportion compared to his body. Few players use their body as extensions of their mind as nearly all use their mind as extensions of their body. Nash is of the former and I love him for it. He is the only player today who can see plays unfold from the court better then I do from the barstool.

At 12/24/2007 2:20 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

It's the irony of revolution, and to not embrace/acknowledge that aspect would be naive.

Also, I can't speak for Carter here, but the Suns have changed. That 2004-05 team vs. today definitely shows signs of calcification.

At 12/24/2007 2:41 PM, Blogger padraig said...

"a plotline I'm sure most will cling to long after reality ceases to reflect the "anything goes" perception that we've tagged them with"

The Suns of three years ago, blasting full-tilt on a vicious joyride to and from nowhere, leaving a haphazard swath of destruction in their wake, were all about the pangs of birth. To proceed with an infinitely tired metaphor, I liken it to that murky and infinitely exciting period when a musician or a scene makes some intuitive leap forward, before journalists show up to give it a name and place it in a context, before the imitators show up to dilute via mimicry and definitely before industry cats get can sink bloody choppers into it. So for me that 04-05 squad is like 17 yr old Dizzee Rascal dropping "I Luv U" like a ton of bricks on East London pirate radio. Or Napalm Death's first LP, or like the guys from Phuture handing a nameless cassette that would become "Acid Tracks" to Ron Hardy at the Music Box.

Of course it's hella tough to maintain that edge that made something special in the first place, especially when your perspective is being totally skewered by legions of fawning yes-men (in the Suns' case, Jack McCallum ad infinitum or, even worse, that sloppy Pollack/Shirley BJ). That celebrity/hero worship shite more or less literally killed Kurt Cobain - plus it teamed up with the simmering mess that is American race relations to drive Dave Chapelle temporarily insane. Since the Suns by their nature can't really become the institution that Pop runs, steadily pumping out Top 40 hits that bore the hell out of everyone, they're stuck trying to be successful artistically, so to speak, while simultaneously trying to win.

This year's team is at that stage where endless waves of frontrunning critical adulation just add more fuel to the overrated fire. Like, Dizzee released that peace of shite Maths + English this year - Napalm Death became a lame generic death metal band. Whatever. Those truly innovative cats still got mad talent though, or they wouldn't have been great in the first place - even if D'Antoni is Vordul Mega to Nellie's Vast Aire - even if Amare has no knees and Nash is veering ever closer to 35 and Leandro Barbosa is not a PG. I'm not asking for another Boy in Da Corner - I just want a lack of hideous duets with Lily Allen.

So, while quite dubious, I am pulling for Nash if only because every great artist deserves to go out on a high note before devolving into self-parody. I've never liked the D'Antoni Suns but the thought of a 37 yr old Nash signing one year deals out of desperation is truly awful. At least Chris Webber deserves his fate.

R. Lobstah - Um, what? I don't think "revolution" as a word has much meaning these days but your definition is as gross an oversimplification as I've ever seen. I guess I could arbitarily decree that one "ought" to define revolution as the heroic liberation of the opressed masses by valiant yet tender poet-warriors. Or I could point out the irony of ignoring the screams that that emanate from beneath the wheels of the system the revolution purports to replace. Shit's complex is all. Oh, and fickle means capricious, dude - it has no overtones of solipism.

At 12/24/2007 4:13 PM, Blogger rebar said...

word to padraig.

revolution implies an overturning of the same, only to be replaced by a new status quo. perhaps we should prefer the word insurrection.

At 12/24/2007 6:26 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

I'm no big Suns fan, but I like padraig's music analogy if only because I still found parts of Maths + English mildly compelling. This team isn't dead yet; they just need some sort of jolt. And Grant Hill ain't it.

I want to expand on Nash a bit, because I don't find him nearly as exciting as the other top point guards. As others have said, his mental is greater than his physical to a degree that we haven't seen since Stockton. That's great and all, but I think that description does a disservice to guys like Paul who marry both the physical and mental at high levels. As Shoals said the other day, Paul is using angles just like Nash (not as well, but he's still pretty damn good at it), but he also adds physical domination. To use an imperfect analogy, I think my experience with Nash is one comparable to a work of art that stimulates me intellectually but not emotionally. There are others out there that can do both, so I'll take those every time.

At 12/24/2007 8:25 PM, Blogger Leee said...

I was all up on padraig's jock but he brings up a troubling darkseid to the music mirror: is FD no more than indie elitism? Where's the poptimism? Who is the Association's "Summer Love"?

At 12/25/2007 12:01 AM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

"Paul is using angles just like Nash (not as well, but he's still pretty damn good at it), but he also adds physical domination".

When Paul uses angels as well as Nash I'll be overjoyed to see the physical and mental merged to such a high degree. As of yet, Paul is not the best athlete in the league, nor is he the greatest visionary in the game. I haven't watched Paul nearly as much as Nash so I haven't yet experienced the, "how did the ball get to that guy?", shock and awe from the younger PG. I saw his 22 assist game against the Lakers and didn't see a single assist I could not envision before it happened. Stockton didn't often made those sorts of passes either. Stockton simply executed the perfect pass every time. Nash, much like Magic, executes the abra-kadabra on a regular basis.


I'm pleased to have produced a thought so extreme as to have been the most "any adjective" of all you have read.

Revolution continues to have the meaning it has had for quite a number of centuries. If it has been used incorrectly, this should not negate it's meaning amongst those in the know. Using the word in the manner consistent with its ancient usage, does the opposite of using it to mean any old shift in fashion, style, political party, cultural movement or wind. Maintaining consistency with old usage lends depth to the word while misuse robs its meaning.

When I chose to "redefine" revolution it was in irritated response to the kitschy manner in which radical ideas are discussed on the site. Not to say that the site owners don't have the right to their kitsch but it irritates me. There was nothing arbitrary about my choice of words when describing revolution. I can point to all revolutions and my description would match the setting. I have yet to read about or witness a historical revolution that actualized your, "heroic liberation of the opressed masses by valiant yet tender poet-warriors."

I think that Home Bread Shoals did use fickle in a manner consistent with my usage. When the genie of revolution comes out of the bottle you get Stalin, Mao, Lenin, Marat... all of them cruel, all of them rightous and all of them a Jupiter that fancied himself the Sun.

BTW... a shotgun, more or less, literally killed Kurt Cobain. A hereditary stomach ache was one excuse for his finger spasm. Maybe his narcissistic wife drove his weak ass to the chair. Heroin didn't pluck his spirits either. Maybe he even realized that what entertained people the most about him was that he stylized contempt and yet genuinely felt said contempt for everything and everyone. The paradox of style/genuineness resolved itself as buckshot thrashed vocal chords on a wall. Phlegm's complex is all.

At 12/25/2007 12:19 AM, Blogger Misareaux said...

Wouldn't FD be much better associated with poptimism than indie elitism? Indie elitism and rockism are cousins, closer even. Poptimism allows up to enjoy everything that 'is' wrong with music, just as FD allows a fan to get past the Right Way template.

At 12/25/2007 2:43 AM, Blogger Zeke said...

Not to put too fine of a point on it rebar, but you would rather watch an "entertaining" run n' gun team like the Dubs, and the second-round ceiling that comes with a team coached by Nellie, or a "stodgy" half-court team like the Celts that have legitimate title hopes? If we're going with pretentious analogies, let's just say that there's a reason Marxism failed.

At 12/25/2007 3:30 AM, Blogger Brian said...

Wow Zeke, you are right. Because the USSR disbanded, we can never have ideas again. Good call.

Now, I gain immense pleasure from watching the Celtics nowadays. And certainly they only have one and a half true roadblocks in their way to the finals. But I don't think you get to assume that the Warriors are "capped" at a second-round exit just because that's when they lost last year. In many respects, Utah is one of the worst matchups for the Warriors, due to their ability to make game-play adjustments without having to make roster adjustments. Utah is good at incorporating the space a faster paced game provides without losing its core elements (Boozer), just adding new ones (flashes of AK47, etc). And they can do it with few turnovers. Detroit is the other team that exemplifies this skill, only better. Could GS beat Phoenix, Dallas, San Antonio, LA...in a second round matchup? Absolutely they could. Add Utah to that list if they have mojo problems in April like they do now.

That being said, even if they are destined for a Western Conference semifinalist trophy, that doesn't really make them less enjoyable to watch.

I blame the "games are only fun to watch if they directly contribute to winning a national championship" malaise that spreads through sports viewing squarely on college football, which is really unwatchable 98% of the time. Only by getting excited about, say, USC's Pac-10 record can we justify enjoying a 57-14 beatdown of some crappy squad by a dominant one. The "I don't give a crap about basketball until April" crowd really upsets me, because they just fundamentally DON'T LIKE BASKETBALL.

At 12/25/2007 4:42 AM, Blogger Seth said...

"That being said, even if they are destined for a Western Conference semifinalist trophy, that doesn't really make them less enjoyable to watch."

"Wouldn't FD be much better associated with poptimism than indie elitism? Indie elitism and rockism are cousins, closer even. Poptimism allows up to enjoy everything that 'is' wrong with music, just as FD allows a fan to get past the Right Way template."

I can't help but side with both of these comments. Can we take a step back and acknowledge that if the Suns fair better in the playoffs then GSW it is because of a HUGE athleticism disparity. I love SJax, but do you really think Nellie would rather start him than Marrion? Or Beans over Amare? Barbosa might not be able to levitate like Monta, but I'm sure Nellie would prefer his playoff/intl experience and shooting range to his undersized 2 guard. Comparing the possible success of these two teams because they both rack up 108+/night isn't really fair.

The Suns have tons of underacknowledged advantages over most of the league that don't revolve around how amazing tools like Bill Simmons think it must be to play with Steve Nash. After Oakland beat Phoenix at home earlier this season, Marrion whispered something into Barron's ear right before the more valuable PG did his postgame interview. Whatever was said caused Baron to laugh hysterically and slap his opponents back. At the time I couldn't help but imagine him making fun of the inevitable whining Nash's teammates would have to endure after the game.

This is probably an absurd interpretation of what happened. But in line with Misareaux comments, this controversy is causing me to enjoy this Suns campaign more than any other. The fact that life in the desert isn’t the perfection its made out to be is much more interesting to me than stale monologues about what style the Suns skills allow them to play.

At 12/25/2007 4:44 AM, Blogger Zeke said...

I was being facetious. I don't typically view basketball through the prism of social and political paradigms, so you'll have to forgive the lousy joke.

I believe Golden State is destined for a second-round exit because of how undisciplined they are and the questionable shot selection they employ. That shit will catch up with you. And there's just no way they could beat a healthy Spurs squad. Not only do they not have anybody to guard Tim Duncan, but the Spurs are equally adept at beating you in a track meet as they are at their own game of half-court rugby, and contrary to popular belief, you beat the Warriors by running with them. Assuming the Mavs have finally figured out just exactly HOW Golden State beat them last spring, I'd be shocked if Dallas lost to them again:


He sums it up better than I can.

There are basketball fans that tend to follow certain players rather than having a set allegiance to a certain team, and if that's the case, then there's nothing particularly wrong with Golden State or Phoenix. You're being entertained no matter how the season ends for Baron Davis or Amare Stoudemire. And I could give a fuck about fair-weather fans hopping on the bandwagon in the spring with their $72 yellow We Believe t-shirts. But if you're the kind of person that sticks with your team from October training camp until come what may, teams like the Suns and Warriors are extremely annoying, because they're all hype and not nearly enough substance. They play a fool's good style of basketball.

At 12/25/2007 5:20 AM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

First off, Zeke is right: I can think of no situation in which the Warriors beat the Spurs in a playoff series with a moderately healthy Duncan on the floor. I would bet anything on it and I'm a huge Warriors fan. Worst matchup in the league by far; the Jazz one might only seem so because the teams should theoretically be closer to each other.

"But if you're the kind of person that sticks with your team from October training camp until come what may, teams like the Suns and Warriors are extremely annoying, because they're all hype and not nearly enough substance."

I'm not close to annoyed with the Warriors and won't be unless this same thing continues for five years without the front office trying to do anything to get better. "Championship or bust" is not the only way to root for your favorite team. If anything's annoying about the Suns right now from a fan's perspective, I think it's that they're not willing to shake things up to get to the next level.

At 12/25/2007 6:39 AM, Blogger Carter Blanchard said...

First off, the Warriors were a couple shots from McGrady away from going to the WCF. Second of all, they easily could have never made the playoffs at all, and watching Monta would still give my shivers. If you think I'd hesitate for a moment between watching the entertaining failure or the stodgy contender (which the C's hardly qualify as), then I don't think your read I word I just wrote.

Regarding Nash, no one's saying what he does isn't extremely impressive. But Wes Hawk's sentiment sounds to me exactly like the pundits who rave about the unappreciated beauty of Duncan bank shots. I don't begrudge the pleasure you take, but it just doesn't get me off in that way, I'm sorry. Magic exploited angles, but in about as joyful a manner as possible, with plenty of frills for his teammates' and fans' appreciation. The Nash/Magic comparison falls incredibly flat for me. But really this wasn't meant to be about Nash failing to bring me to tears. It was, as Shoals says, about the drop off in volatility that there's been since that spectacular 04-05 season, which I think is pretty undeniable.

As far as the accusations of fickleness: a) I cop to it within the post, so deal with it; b) this is likely the first time you've ever read me weigh in on the Suns so you're at a disadvantage for judging whether or not I've revised previous positioning; c) what Shoals said. You should probably expect a decent amount of reevaluation and revisionism from me.

In closing, everything that Zeke has said in the comments about "questionable shot selection" or "mental midget"-ness or "legitimate title hopes" or "Marxism failed" pretty much epitomizes every lazy cliche I hate about how some people view and think about basketball. No offense.

At 12/25/2007 7:50 AM, Blogger Zeke said...

No offense taken. "Marxism failed" was a joke, so you might want to check your irony meter. I didn't say it would be funny.

As for lazy cliches, most of the basketball blogosphere is in love with the Warriors right now because they play an "revolutionary brand of basketball" with "reckless abandon," and Baron Davis wore a bullet fedora on national tv. "Those cats" have "swag." Lazy cliches indeed. I'm just a little bit nonplussed about the whole thing. I don't think their style of play is anything special, since they're not the first team that prefers up-tempo to half-court, nor are they the first team to jack up shots early in the shot clock instead of running half-court sets. I'm not entertained by watching them run crap teams out of the gym, or elite teams pound them into submission. There's no middle ground with Golden State.

As for Phoenix, there's nothing wrong with them, unless you expect them to win a title. "Legitimate title hopes" wouldn't even be worth mentioning or bringing up, but since you wrote a post centered around the premise that the Suns are currently in an existential funk, I think it's relevant, since that's what they're playing for, not your fickle entertainment. Some of the personnel has changed, but they are pretty much what they were three years ago: a flashy team that will win a lot of regular season games and has an outside shot at a championship. It seems like to me that the only thing that has changed is your appreciation, since you have a new mistress in the Bay Area to get your rocks off to. There have been a lot of analogies in the comments, so here's another one: The Suns are an indie band that got signed and are now navigating the corporate world of Clear Channel while trying to retain some sort of artistic control over their output, while the Warriors are the latest future nobodies that Magnet and NME can cream their jeans over.

In closing, I tend to evaluate players and teams straight up, so I guess I'm more of a TrueHoop kind of guy, while doing for basketball what Pitchfork does for music seems strange to me. No offense.

At 12/25/2007 12:04 PM, Blogger rebar said...

point was none to sharp zeke.

though i will say that i enjoy watching the C's, i just find them to be a massively different genus of team than golden state. i think something that really tickles me about the run and gun is that it comparatively levels the playing field. Think about a lig in which every team was hell bent on acquiring a strong defensive/offensive big man and legitimate point guard, followed by a bunch of shooters/roleplayers. every year there would be maybe 4-6 actually good teams, and every other team would be utter crap. we would regularly see absurd 111-67 beatdowns based on interior defense and superior half court play.

in the current lig, there are many massively explosive teams capable of absolutely unpredictable feats. sure, teams with duncan or garnett are really good, but there are plenty of teams with non traditional set-ups that have beat both those teams. run and gun means that a team that should be mediocre has a chance at shocking the world by dethroning the one seed or challenging some of these upper tier teams.

that's not to say half court games aren't also interesting, i really enjoyed watching the celtics and pistons go at it. (i'm placing the bet now: pistons in finals, or seven games with loss to C's) for me, someone who learned to watch basketball from videogames, i'll always have that spazzy-ADHD attention span when it comes to teams, allowing me to get bored and switch allegiances on the fly. so really (i can't speak for others) what you're perceiving as my indie elitism is actually just my nano-second long attention span and hunger for new narratives and personalities.

as much as i hate to admit it and i think this is actually very cruel of me, my heart skipped a beat when duncan got injured. i literally prayed for it to be a non-career ending but season-ending thang so we could see what the wesco would be like minus the shadow of big fun. blazers in finals? it could've happened.

At 12/25/2007 1:06 PM, Blogger Leonardson Saratoga said...

Pounded into submission by better teams? peep the Dubs schedule once Jackson got back (maybe thats not fair, but I think it matters), the only "pounding" they took was to the Celtics and Pistons. The Pistons game was a 12:30 game to start a road trip in central time, I don't blame them for losing that (what happens if they had to do that in the playoffs blah blah blah). The others were a 10-point to the Lakeshow (10 points for GS is like 4 for anyone else), an OT loss to Orlando (one of the best of the season so far), a 10 pt. at Portland (they'd beat them in a playoff series, hands down) and a 5 pointer to NJ.

Now i'm never one to point to "close" victories as "moral" victories--you either win or lose--but to say they were pounded into submission is just plain wrong.

Oh, and this all includes wins over the Lakers, Cavs, Rockets, Suns, and Spurs (Duncan-less, yes).

Beneath the mistle toe as we drink egg nog
The rhymes you hear are the rhymes of Darryl's
But each and every year we bust Chrsitmas carrols

At 12/25/2007 3:15 PM, Blogger robby said...

lets Burn this mother down!

At 12/25/2007 3:40 PM, Blogger Carter Blanchard said...

My inclusion of "marxism failed" with that list was also a joke. My irony meter is doing a-ok.

At 12/25/2007 4:02 PM, Blogger Seth said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 12/25/2007 5:32 PM, Blogger padraig said...

just to clarify, "rockism" and "poptimism" are make-believe journalist words. they are even more laughable as concepts, as is anyone who willingly self-employs such labels. I am 100% against the concept of guilty pleasures. I do rather enjoy the idea that a bunch of music critics fancy themselves as revolting against the evils of "rockism" - I mean, techno and house developed out of the underground gay black club scenes of Chicago and Detroit for chrissakes. in other words, Pitchfork and Clear Channel are both shite. I like the Spurs and the Warriors and there is no either/or.

rr. labstah - Sigh. The Sandinistas, EZLN, Mahatma fucking Gandhi...if you're going to step up with the smarmy fallacies THEN READ YOUR GODDAMN HISTORY SON. all roads do not lead to Article 58 and the Cultural Revolution. Unfortunately everything does not fit into your tidy revisionism.

Aggrandizing ideals realized as horrifying actions - oh, like propping up a revolving door of bloody dictatorships in the name of the Free World? Revolutionaries don't have a monopoly on egoism and cruelty as long as the Pinochets and Papa Docs are murdering "dissidents" left and right. I also forgot that Chang Kai-Shek and Nicholas II were such totally awesome dudes to begin with.

Your revelation that power corrupts is a little underwhelming, to say the least. At least you're "in the know", though.

"Teenage angst has paid off well
Now I'm bored and old
Self-appointed judges judge
More than they have sold"

At 12/25/2007 6:09 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

I can't believe Zeke just compared the Warriors to the Arctic Monkeys.

I think the trouble that people (or me, at least) are having with Zeke's brand of analysis is that it assumes we're watching basketball (or any sport, really) to see who wins. That's an oversimplification, of course, but I think it's reasonably accurate. To me, that's like following music to see who sells the most records. That's not to say that people can't get excited when a good band becomes more popular, but there are so many other things going on that deserve attention.

At 12/25/2007 10:45 PM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...


I suppose I am advocating one dictatorship over others as Chang Kai-Shek is many times preferable to Mao. Look at their results. One was responsible for the deaths of 3 million during the Cultural Revolution alone and at least 10 times that died as a result of starvation brought on by the Cultural Revolution's lack of pragmatism. The other was responsible for the deaths of less millions and his dictatorship peacefully became a democratic and free Taiwan while the illiberal policies of the PRC continue to this day.

You could subtract the cruelty of Lenin from that of Stalin and still leave room, many times over, for the totals of Nicholas II's cruelty; though not his incompetence.

Every institution of the governmental body in India today was introduced to that subcontinent by the British. The introduction of traditionally British institutions to India was more revolutionary then Indians grabbing control of them. A Revolution, literally, is the dramatic alteration of the political institutions, those who control them, and those who are benefited by them. Ghandi's method for taking control was revolutionary and relatively kind, but he did not alter the system enough to entitle his movement revolutionary status. Insurrection yes. Revolution no.

The EZLN has not gained significant enough influence, nor have they succeeded in their poetic war as of yet. I suspend judgement.

The Sandinistas are a rare bunch and I will give credit to your point as far as they are concerned and as far as I know.

Since when is selling a few million records the prerequisite for judgement?

Thanks for the Sandininista reference. That is one aspect of recent history I am very knowledge deficient in and I will try to rectify this in the new year. I admit I challenged you to come up with one example of a "decent" revolution and well done. Yet, I don't think the weight of that one example comes close to balancing the many more examples of revolutionary failure. Thats not fickle, as fickle implies the equal possibility of any choice. Sudden revolution still seems many times less likely to succeed then quiet evolution.

It's nice to see the Lakers' newest dominant big man begin to emerge. It looks like Jerry Buss is getting what he wished for when he brought Rudy in to coach in 2004. The team shoots plenty of threes, runs the floor and attacks on defense. That this is done within the context of the Triple Post is, I judge, the product of having a rangy center who can play defense further from the basket then 7 feet and the continued presence of the best swing man in the game today. Since we are on the subject of liberation, it seems PJ has found his second swingman whose length and activity level leads to many mismatches in the Lakers' favor.

LLA- Lakers Liberation Ariza

At 12/25/2007 11:53 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Zeke said it best above, the Suns and Warriors are both all style no substance teams. No post play means you're not gonna win in the playoffs. Look at how Andrew Bynum schooled the Suns today with his career high. Look at what he did against the Warriors in both meetings this year. Against teams that have a post presence, that run n gun ain't gonna work.

But it wasn't just post play that allowed the Lakers to beat Phoenix today. They ran the Suns off the court with their youth and athleticism (see Lobstah's comment re: Ariza). The Lakers are starting to look like a team that's in with Utah and the Spurs in that they do have that post presence but can also run with teams like the Suns and the Warriors. When you look at the easy schedule the Suns have and the fact that they're not really doing that well this year, it's not looking that farfetched that the Lakers might win the Pacific Division.

At 12/26/2007 12:19 AM, Blogger T. said...

A couple of basketball related things first:

1. I was wrong about Bynum - he does look the real deal, aside from his 11/10 averages. Strong, aggressive.

2. I know what's wrong with the Suns (compared to the 04 version) - it's the subtraction of the thin, motivated Diaw. Remember the FD led postionless revolution? A 6'10" French ball handling center who preferred to pass? That is the epitome of style. The serious revolution was not the 7 seconds or less dictum imposed upon the Suns offense, but rather the imposition of the point forward. All recent serious basketball revolutions employee this - from Magic' Johnson's showtime Lakers to Nellie's experiments in Milwaukee (Paul Pressey). The loss of Diaw to disinterest and foie gras is significant as anything.

Finally, a note about Chinese revolutions and history (I'm going to appoint myself expert here, as the only resident commentator who lived in both Taiwan and the PRC and who speaks Chinese - I think)

I suppose I am advocating one dictatorship over others as Chang Kai-Shek is many times preferable to Mao. Look at their results. One was responsible for the deaths of 3 million during the Cultural Revolution alone and at least 10 times that died as a result of starvation brought on by the Cultural Revolution's lack of pragmatism. The other was responsible for the deaths of less millions and his dictatorship peacefully became a democratic and free Taiwan while the illiberal policies of the PRC continue to this day.

I think the only reason CKS didn't kill millions more was a lack of population/opportunity rather than a moral system of "less evil" than Mao. Remember, this is the same guy who dynamited dams durign the Chinese civil war killing upwards of 500,000 just to slow down the Comminist Army's advance on Nanjing. He also imposed martial law and imprisoned an awful lot of dissidants and opposition party members.

The lifting of martial law and the move towards democracy came well after CKS's death - I want to say 1986.

Just some housekeeping as well, the Cultural Revolution was responsible for millions of death but the majority of the deaths on Mao's watch came in the 3 year period around 1960 (well before the policies of the Cultural Revolution were implemented) - during the Great Leap Forward which combined misguided and frankly, stupid, central planning and collectivization policies along with the 3 worst years of drought in many thousands of years. Experts estimate that up to 30 million perished in that 3 year period.

I certainly don't want to soft pedal or undersell the bad things about current Chinese government, but to say that the current "illiberal" policies are a continuation of Mao's government is pretty far from accurate. Deng in the early 80s did a huge amount of undoing Mao's revolutionary policies with a pragmatic combination of liberal economic policies and continued, less open (but still much moreso than the 60s and 70s) social governing.

Er, sorry for the history lecture, but I happened to read several thousand pages worth of this stuff through university, thought it could be useful somewhere.

At 12/26/2007 1:05 AM, Blogger Carter Blanchard said...

Spot on with the Diaw comment T. His regression probably does have more to do with why I find them less scintillating than I notice. Also appreciate the historical knowledge.

At 12/26/2007 12:25 PM, Blogger Brock said...

Good revolutions:
The Industrial Revolution (we all like the interweb)
Germ theory (it was revolutionary, people!)
The Shot Clock

At 12/26/2007 5:38 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Mavs @ Jazz holds more intrigue than any foreseeable game involving the Duns (sorry if you don't like the pun, BS). Don't believe me? Where were you? http://www.nba.com/games/20071208/UTADAL/boxscore.html

P.S. Many revolutions were a couple of T-Mac jumpers away from succeeding.

At 12/27/2007 12:22 AM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

"The man who works from himself outwards, [Stephen wrote] whose conduct is governed by ordinary motives, and who acts with a view to his own advantage and the advantage of those who are connected with himself in definite, assignable ways, produces in the ordinary course of things much more happiness to others … than a moral Don Quixote who is always liable to sacrifice himself and his neighbors. On the other hand, a man who has a disinterested love of the human race—that is to say, who has got a fixed idea about some way of providing for the management of the concerns of mankind—is an unaccountable person … who is capable of making his love for men in general the ground of all sorts of violence against men in particular."

-James Fitzjames; Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

At 12/27/2007 5:06 PM, Blogger padraig said...

I thought this thread was done but I can't let that last above comment pass - frankly, it's utter bullshit. It's not bullshit in that it's your opinion, which is certainly valid. It becomes bullshit when you purport to extend it over the entirety of the human experience. Great, you like capitalism, authority and are probably an Ayn Rand enthusiast - we get it. There are many people who do not agree with you. Deal with it.

At 4/13/2009 3:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...




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