Mayo/Beasley IS HERE
First of all, SORRY DAVE BERRI. It's true, you recognized that scoring means something—even if you'd still prefer it be expunged from the earth. I was just perplexed by your insinuation that "these might have been valuable players" that went directly into "but they wanted to score, so we have to be offended by their lack of scoring opportunities." It seems to lend itself to a "they were the ones playing real basketball, even if they didn't know it" formulation. Even if Berri gets that the cultural valence of scoring was as important as win shares here.
Other Black Magic thoughts: Chris Paul's friendship with Clarence Gaines puts his FBP-ness, through the roof. If only he were a little taller. Also, having two Stovall Sisters songs on the soundtrack is a weird combination of esoteric and lazy. I hate that Steve Miller is the backing band on those.
My real big issue with the series is in fact that same old Nelson George versus John Hoberman conflict. George feels that style is a socio-cultural masterwork, one that grew out of black institutions, official and otherwise. Classic NYC street ball is kind of the dilluted, or subcultural, or vernacular, version of that. And when Jordan starts terrorizing the league, or the post-Jordan era happens, there are still some vaguely political, or at least principled, ideals present in the choice to play like that.
Hoberman, of course, thinks that it's anathema to read too much into mere athletic performance. However, I think he would look sympathetically on, say John McClendon, who built a network of acolytes playing his "shoot every eight seconds" style. It's not that the fast break itself meant something, but that it came out of a McClendon's institutionally-supported originality, which went on to create its own network. This was style as infrastructure. That it was incomprehensible to whites, and seemed to embody some vaguely evocative qualities of "black culture" is nice but not essential. And if it does turn essential, then the romanticization of style takes place.
Which is what made Black Magic so weird: It couldn't decide whether it was the story of these networks, or of individuals who passed through them. Or maybe the point was that every player who went through these programs was an agent of this legacy. Still, it's hard to square the "style as personal expression" logic with the "vessel of original institutional thinking" angle. Also, the star turn given to Pee Wee Kirkland really undermines the latter, especially seeing as the whole hidden history had an undercurrent of respectability and Dean Smith-like reach.
Okay, a few other things. Did I mention that we're in the home stretch of the book, and that it will blow your mind, and that my hands have me this close to becoming the Gerald Wallace of amateur NBA writing?
Some outside links I find particularly useful. All written by us:
This TSB post I did about whether this season's lacking in charisma.
Dr. LIC Deadspin column is on the horizon.
DESHAWN STEVENSON APOCALYPSE