Dark, dark times by the fountain of Shoals. For one, my laptop/couch set-up has finally caught up with my hands, arms, and wrists, and I'm trying to make a lifestyle change before it's too late. Also, I've been watching 2-3 episodes of Dexter a day, and now I keep hearing the "shit's ominous" music and a Michael C. Hall voice-over in my head. Hence the inactivity.
But let's not underestimate the degree to which the Gerald Wallace concussion has fucked with me. You think it's sad that Yao's out? At least he's not—gulp—being forced to consider retirement. The Pete Reiser-esque style points for this are off the charts, but let's be real. As a fan, this is really dismal. No less troubling is the "he must change his game" mutterings I've heard from the AP. Wallace has become far more rangy and guard-ish this season; it's not about that. It's not even about going to the hoop hard and inviting contact, the culprit in Dwyane Wade and T.J. Ford's respective stuttering careers. No, Wallace is being asked to turn off his motor. It's the only time in NBA history that it's been suggested that a player try less hard.
Oh, lest someone call me self-absorbed, GET WELL SOON GERALD!!!!!
Anyway, I know that with the Suns reconfigured and reeling, the Positional Revolution may no longer be relevant. But in a way, this Wallace injury is the dark side of that trend, what happens when it's stumbled into or falls into the wrong hands. Read this Rick Bonnell post, which turns Wallace's head problem into a question of his spot on the floor. Part of me wants to scream "reductionist" at it—both for the sake of GW's wonder and all that he represents—but this last, Moore-administered blow falls soundly in this category. Watch the tape: He's in the paint, guarding a big man one-on-one. Hitting the floor frequently is one thing, as is dunking a lot in the lane. I hope those don't have to go. Here, though, we have a plain example of why, on the most primeval level, small ball can be a terrible idea.
Speaking of which, the Rockets. Dr. LIC has already let us see his opinions on Yao; some of you commenters have me slightly amped about the Rockets going small, a lot because T-Mac's looked great lately. But let me make a true cofession: Rafer Alston drives me nuts. He alone keeps me from regularly watching Houston, even when I lived there. He's like a poor man's Jason Williams, or one of those nineties Knicks guards if he weren't on the nineties Knicks.
I wouldn't say I irrationally dislike the guy, like I do Shane Battier; if anything, he's one of the most gracious interviewees I've ever heard, and everyone I know who has dealt with him says he's great. It's just his game. It bugs me. Do any of you have a player who poses a similar stumbling block for your NBA consumption?
And I'll end with a very, very rough idea that might piss someone off. I've been thinking a lot about athlete's endorsements of Obama, and whether in this case, their voices matter more in politics. Oden's on board, Baron Davis has spoken up, and I suspect there will be more. Usually, athlete politics only get noticed if they're extreme. Otherwise, no one listens, and there's a functional church/state split in place. Also, I am by no means assuming that every NBA player will vote for Obama, or vote at all.
Here's the thing, though: Obama could be our real life FBP. Athletes are extremely high-profile African-Americans, in a business that, like it or not, is intensely racialized. I wonder if, for better or worse, they will have more pull—or at least have their endorsements taken more seriously, and them allowed the right to be political voices. Not because Obama plays basketball or whatever, but because an Obama election would, to some degree, end up being about race in America. And for many Americans, athletes are a big part of that puzzle.