The Orderly Exchange of Grip-Taped Hatchets
I'm taking a wild guess that this Josh Howard non-event is a defining moment for the FD community. Namely, there's really no need for me to come on here and grandstand about how uninteresting weed is, how in Howard's case it plays neither to a racist image or questions about his attitude. Or how, as most of us know, Howard's second-half slump is a function of back problems and multiple deaths around him that he's decided to play through—both of which, from what I hear, are good therapeutic uses for pot if he were to smoke during the season.
The outrage most of us feel at the bristling know-nots is encapsulated perfectly by Henry's post, which mentions a certain Deadspin piece of mine. The whole controversy almost feels like a manufactured campaign trail issue, what with the push it's getting on local news channels. I also find it odd that, in football, it's now become common practice to admit to past weed use before the draft, to get all the skeletons out there. This isn't quite the same, since Howard stressed continued (if declined) use, and implicated others. But, as Devin Harris said on the sidelines, this is just Howard speaking his mind; he just does not give a fuck about bullshit delicacies and inference because he "knows they're not true.". Like Henry said, it's only a shock if we pretend we didn't know, and reward those who play along on what should be a relatively minor issue. Grow the fuck up, AmeriKKKa!!!!!!!
Where is Bill Walton in all this? Why did Howard have to go on the show of an avowed high-steppin' 12-stepper, whose tone and languge were straight out of smug intervention 101? It's a credit to Howard that, while Irvin was insisting that pot would break J-Ho's heart, he didn't once say "fall back, Old Crack, I've got this." He didn't come off so well, but partly because his disdain for the whole dog and pony show was evident. Drinking is rampant in the league, and that for sure fucks up your play worse the next day. It was telling to see the ESPN studio crew weigh in. Jalen giggling, more or less saying "young buck, just keep that among us," but clearly kind of enjoying the whole confrontation. SAS seeing it as a PR blunder that showed poor judgment on Howard's part bringing it out now.
What I'm really driving at, though, is that this flare-up feels like it's going on in a different dimension. I like sports, but I've also been around drugs a lot. I haven't smoked pot in over a decade, but that doesn't mean I have any strong feeling on it one way or the other. It's like, people thinking rationally can see the difference between fun intoxication and life-encroaching, job-wrecking problem. For Irvin to sit there and judge Howard like the latter's in the same boat as him—at best, it's solicitous, at worst, fear-mongering. Alcohol is the real scourge unto our nation, and it's a 24-hour source of pride. If Howard is going to have the decent to talk straight and off-the-cuff, at least have the decent to meet him head-on.
More playoffs fun: Some of you already think I've fallen the fuck off, and hopefully, once the book drops I'll be branded a sell-out. But when that happens, I invite you to go back and listen to this interview I did with 1420 ESPN Radio in Hawaii, where I proposed NBA Shit-Talking Semiotics to differentiate between Stevenson's war on Bron and J.R. popping off at Kobe down the stretch. The reasoning: Stevenson can't stop James. His one good offensive game was nice for his ego, but his bragging was based on their match-up. Smith, on the other hand, was guarding Kobe when Bryant already had established his unbreakable stranglehold on the game that night. No way J.R., who while much-improved on defense is hardly associated with that role, was claiming he could shut down Bean Thousand. So the flap most like becomes an abstract back-and-forth about general court prowess, and fuck it, when J.R. gets going he CAN score like Kobe. Thus, I deem the latter altogether more acceptable.
I have no mortal explanation for what's going on in Philly/Detroit. The Sixers still looked ragged and choppy last night, but unlike the past two contests, I had a real sense that it was working, leading somewhere, part of the plan all along. They're not the fluid team they were in the regular season, the one us dreamers had hoped to see make noise in the post-season, but this weird combination of athleticism, guts, and demolition derby might yet turn out to be an interesting contribution to the canon. Also, it's become abundantly clear—Matt Watson even agrees with me—that Amir Johnson has become the key to this series. Everything that's "wrong" with him is what Philly is using to shunt the Pistons. Sort of how J.R. Smith has become absolutely key to any Nuggets hopes. E.G. I control the universe, if you didn't know.
I've been getting a little annoyed at my fatalism throughout this first round "Jazz will take it, easy"; "Philly's done"; "Phoenix has looked too dominated". But I don't think it's too strong to state that we should go-ahead and start packing away our Suns keepsakes, our Barbosa autographed lapels and Nash surf goggles. Amare has risen above it all, and despite last night's ugh, should be able to dominate on his own for years to come. As a unit, a family we've come to love, that's all meandering out the door. Get stricken.