Satan Is Real

To paraphrase a friend I watched the game with, in two days this has gone from the most amazing playoffs ever to one of the saddest on record. Where did our love go? Where is the music? Just as, with these Pennsylvania results, a crucial moment in our history has officially turned into the usual tedious slog.

I know, the Suns going that cold is almost grounds for loss of sacred status. And, as I said already this week, it's natural to over-react to each win and loss, to forget that even 0-2 is far from definitive. With a Suns victory at home, we'd be at 1-2, which is hardly murder, and with a little bit of spin—the same kind that makes 0-2 into utter bleakness—all of sudden it's 1-2, but with the momentum going Phoenix's way. That's some real Hilary '08 shit, isn't it? Actually, the Spurs are totally Hilary, both in their chameleonic style and their overlord/underdog/fighter/victim flux.

My one useful Chris Paul observation: You literally can't look away when he's playing. Everything he does is at worst supremely instructive ("this is how you draw an entire defense to you"), at best, absolutely sublime. I generally hold that basketball should always be watched with full attention, due to the nature, feel, and aesthetic of the game. But realistically, even with someone like LeBron, you can take a few possessions off here and there. Not so with Paul.

Anyone who watched him all year shouldn't be the least surprised by tonight. I get bad omens thinking of the Hornets going up against the Spurs or Lakers. But whatever. For now, Paul could yet make these playoffs take on another face. From CLASH OF THE TITANS to TOTAL BUMMER to OBAMA OF THE BAYOU. Except unlike Barack, CP3 is kind of an asshole, and knows how to keep that and luminosity going without any compromise. Beyond FBP, indeed. Or is that the iverson of the metaphor?

I meant "iversion," but that was more than a typo. Paul's the next great PG, but he's also got Iverson's level of dominance, intangibles, and messianic potency. A whole other avenue through which to keep hope alive tonight.

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At 4/23/2008 2:42 AM, Blogger Folkhero said...

Hillary as the Spurs makes more sense than anything I've seen today, but I can't quite put my finger on why. Also, thanks for the "Satan Is Real" title, this is the only place that can exaggerate my own shitty mood, and still make me laugh about it.

One other thing about the Shaq trade is that the Suns banked on Hill being healthy. The Suns should know that their organization can never bet on good luck, no matter what sort of voodoo magicks the trainers have on hand.

At 4/23/2008 2:51 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Great stuff on Paul. While his swagger is Iversonian, it seems to rub off on his teammates in a different way. Back in his heyday with the Sixers, when he was on, you could see "hell yeah, AI's got it going tonight" on their faces.

With CP3, it's much more, "hell yeah, WE'VE got it going tonight." Maybe that's just a consequence of a different style of play (and different positions- as much as they tried, The Answer was never a PG), or maybe it's true leadership.

Lots of great players have literally pulled teammates to new heights (Jordan, Kobe, Shaq, etc.). But how many have PUSHED them to that apex? That is, created a belief and a desire in themselves to individually reach their full potential? I can't really think of any, but it's late and I'm tired.

Maybe this is just a roundabout way of avoiding the "he's a true PG that makes his teammates better" cliche, but I really feel like he's accomplishing it in a different way.

Obama of the Bayou, indeed.

At 4/23/2008 4:39 AM, Blogger T. said...

I do like the fact that you noted that CP is kind of an asshole on the court (I've heard nothing but good things about him off the court). I think this point is missing in a lot of media adulation of SippinonCris - and all that adulation is deserved.

At 4/23/2008 9:21 AM, Blogger Get said...

I don't have league pass and have probably seen Chris Paul play on TV 3-5 times total his entire career in the league (saw him alot more at Wake).

What is it that makes him kind of an asshole on the court? I apologize if this is a dumb question, but I find that comment pretty intriuging. Any insight much appreciated.

Great stuff this playoffs, keep it up!

At 4/23/2008 9:34 AM, Blogger rebar said...

Bama of the Bayou, bring thou holy vengeance upon HillRod and her unholy hordes. tony parker's just begging to have a 30-10-3 game dropped on his ass.

At 4/23/2008 9:52 AM, Blogger Sweat of Ewing said...

Get: Paul might be the most competitive guy in the league this side of the Bean. From day one he's gotten in his teammates faces, and is also more than willing to get a little dirty when it's needed. But it's a lot harder for teammates to get pissed at him when he's shouting them down for missing a pass that they know he wants to make *every* time, as opposed to just passing because at that moment it might have been the most ideal decision (Kobe/Lebron). Also helps that he's a choirboy off the court.

At 4/23/2008 10:33 AM, Blogger DJ Slick Watts said...

I think rooting for the Suns is complicated this time around, because when they sold their soul to the playoffs they sold us all out, too--the PHX teams we mean to root for don't have Shaquille O'Neal. It's not all bad if it doesn't work.

Still, it'd be nice to watch them lose not to the Spurs but to DEN or NOLA or someone else whom they'd left behind when they joined the counterrevolution.

At 4/23/2008 11:01 AM, Blogger FunWithLogic said...

Slick: thank you. "Complicated" is the perfect word to describe this situation with the Suns.

Would it be best to equate the Suns with the Obama/Hillary "dreamticket"? Where does this put CP3 - the hybrid and idealized version of the two mental states?

At 4/23/2008 12:42 PM, Blogger The Other Van Gundy said...

I just don't get the Suns. They carry this sense of entitlement that is in no way justified by results - sure, they've won a bunch of games the last few regular seasons, but so has everybody else in the West.

Collins said something like, "The Suns really feel they are the better team, which is why they aren't too upset about dropping Game 1." What?! The sixth seed shouldn't come in as the presumptive favorite, especially against the loathsome Spurs, who thrive on our contempt.

They've always been broken by tougher teams, and I can't say why; Nash is a competitor, Amare's out for blood, and Shaq knows all about playoff basketball, but they dissolve in crunch time. I mean, what the hell is the matter with Diaw? Or Bell? A lot of things about that game infuriated me (Ginobli flops about 3 times a possession), but watching the Suns allow Michael Finley to take the Spurs back into it was just too much.

Good call on the Spurs=Hilary. And if this older comparison might console you Spurs haters: Spurs=Patriots.

ergo, Eli's waiting out there in the eastern conference.

At 4/23/2008 1:03 PM, Blogger Carter Blanchard said...

Even though Game 1 was one of the best playoff games possible, I'm starting to think the series is inconsequential just because I'm getting the growing sense that the legacy of these playoffs are going to be the revelation of Paul and whatever fate Boston/LA has, and have nothing to do with either of these dying franchises.

Also want to second/third the "complicated" emotions watching the Suns/Spurs. I don't think I've ever pulled for the Spurs in a series my entire life, but find myself instinctively rooting for them for the first time ever. As a Lakers fan I suspect it's some combination of Shaq resentment, 2006 bitterness, D'Antoni spite. Needless to say, I feel very dirty about the whole thing.

At 4/23/2008 2:05 PM, Blogger Joey said...

As an avowed Hillary hater and a known Spurs sympathizer, I am stung by this post. Ouch.

Let me say that Hillary is a chameleon of her own making. She morphs as the opinion polls tell her. The Spurs just seem to do what they do and leave it to others to tell the story.

And leave it to a Van Gundy to preach truth--the Suns do seem to think they're entitled to win. As though Steve Nash is the only one working hard. I think that's part of why I never weep for them.

wv: huqqmi -- my Asian friend who became a Muslim in prison.

At 4/23/2008 2:36 PM, Blogger kellydwyer said...

Thanks for putting the Louvin Brothers in my head for the rest of the day.

At 4/23/2008 3:32 PM, Blogger Leonardson Saratoga said...


At 4/23/2008 3:48 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

I'm feelin' this:

At 4/23/2008 4:07 PM, Blogger DJ Slick Watts said...

I dunno. I hate to say this about the Suns, but we're talking about a team that embraced outsider status, did everything its own way crossed boundaries--even became a model for other teams to do the same--until it looked like they might win. Then, they hitched their fortunes to the biggest, nastiest, most reliable path to victory they could find. They cozied up to the machine, and kept posing as an alternative.

That doesn't sound like either Democratic candidate to me; it sounds like a Senator from Arizona getting down with the Christian right.

At 4/23/2008 4:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Satan is a Democratic candidate for President bashing universal healthcare to win the support of GE Healthcare's in-house TV network.


Nuggets are gonna take one tonight, I do believe.

I believe in the audacity of universal healthcare. Bitch is the new black, as the kids say.

At 4/23/2008 5:55 PM, Blogger kibou said...

Shaquille O'Neal as Jimmy Dobson? The mind boggles. It kinda works, though.

WV: heymeo - a more polite version of what D-West said to Dirk during the face-tapping.

At 4/23/2008 5:57 PM, Blogger oliver said...

Here's your metaphor:

The Democratic primary = The Western Conference

The Republican primary = The Eastern Conference

One is strong, the other is hoping desperately to rebound to past glory.

...And once Obama finally beats Hillary in a bruising battle, he can then take out McCain in four games.

I hope that helps.

...Not that this fits into my metaphor, since Obama lost Pennsylvania, but -- LET'S GO SIXERS!

That is all.

At 4/23/2008 6:16 PM, Blogger rebar said...

if the NBA = the NFL, and the Spurs equal the Patriots, then Dwight Howard is Eli Manning.

At 4/23/2008 6:51 PM, Blogger Jason said...

@ oliver: I agree with you most of the way here except unfortunately on both sides of your metaphor a four game sweep is desperately unlikely, and for all your sunny optimism a win in 7 is the BEST case scenario while a sneaky back door victory predicated on flops and ballot fixing is far more likey.
ps: obama = who exactly here?

/jaded electorate

At 4/24/2008 12:39 AM, Blogger The Other Van Gundy said...

I'm not sure if Dwight is the best choice for Eli. Eli is a couple things. He's a legacy case, an archetypal younger brother (and he had a hell of a time living up to Peyton), and doesn't seem to have much passion for the game.

Howard seemed to have no issue putting the Magic on his shoulders from Day 1 (probably because you could put a volkswagon on those things).

And then who is Dwight trying to live up to?

Anyway, I'm probably thinking too much about a complete tangent.

At 4/24/2008 1:37 AM, Blogger Croz said...

@rebar & the other van gundy: Don't fall into the trap of letting Eli serve as the avatar for that Giants team - more emblematic would be Strahan or Umeniyora; defense as noose or guillotine. The logical analogue there is Garnett and the Celtics D.

At 4/24/2008 12:05 PM, Blogger Jason said...

@Giants Metaphor- I agree with croz, at best Rashard Lewis is the Eli of the Magic, talented, probably overrated and little more than a high paid role player riding the broad shoulders of better talent.

At 4/24/2008 4:07 PM, Blogger rebar said...

aiight, i'm a lil' off base, but there is no way the celtics are the giants. think about it, they're green bay. from the revitalized veterans (favre + driver = KG + PP), to the color scheme and the almost universal predictions they'll beat their second round matchup, the celtics fit to a tee.

dwight probably is the giants D, think about it. good all season, then massive games in the playoffs (20/20 vision son). rashard is eli, always trying to live up to the fact that he's a 6'10" guy with a great stroke who has been unable to carry a team thus far. it's less he has to live up to someone specific, and more he has to live up to the expectations of what he should be.

At 4/24/2008 5:50 PM, Blogger Croz said...

Agreed on Celtics being a better fit for the Packers. GB exits thanks to the tragic flaw of Favre (the INTs), does this foreshadow a Boston exit thanks to Garnett's perceived tragic flaw (overreliance on the turnaround late)?

My overall point was not necessarily that the Celtics are the Giants, but that Eli is not the Giants.

Dwightron 2020 crushing the Raptors seems an apt comparison to the anaconda-like performance of Strahan and company. Doesn't seem like there's any momentum in the fourth estate behind Magic out of the East either, which lines up the tantalizing shape of Lakers/Celtics with Packers/Patriots - one proved ultimately chimerical, and with Shard/Eli & Dwight lurking, so might the other.

At 4/13/2009 3:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...




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