Triage, So They Might Lead

Some major shifts on our cosmological landscape this weekend. No, I'm not talking about the Hawks, which was a truly transcendent human occurrence that, justice willing, is irreproducible. I'm thinking instead of my new take on McGrady, which began when he made his side-splitting "beer is my fault" comment. He seems strangely free at this point. If the media wants to paint him as a loser, or a slacker, that's fine; the fever pitch it's reached has only allowed him to step back and either confront it or shrug it off as hysteria. As I've said a few times, it's just the first round. Once he does do it, it's not like a parade is waiting in the wings. Then the championship cringe begins.

I suspect that McGrady, like most players, is concerned mostly with winning and losing what in front of them. When he got knocked out in Round One last year, the crying wasn't about his implacably morose place in history. It was because they had just lost a close series that could have been theirs. If he's not more upset this season—as the curse gets thicker and thicker—well, chalk it up to the fact that the circumstances at hand aren't nearly as tense. It's the difference between backdrop and background; the series at hand is what registers most with him, and what T-Mac reacts to primarily. That other thing occurs to him out of the corner of his eye, but isn't forever crushing his spirit. That's for each individual game, and the rest of the immediate future, to do.

I also have decided that, somehow, Josh Howard had suddenly entered McGrady territory. I don't expect this pot thing to last, but his play has been absolutely miserable for the last few months. [Insert tennis pro Tennenbaum brother reference here]. The back problems, the recent deaths, the burdened "just speaking my mind," Howard is nothing like the ball of spikes, rubber bands, and gangles that's won us over since '03-04. Howard's an even more complicated figure, because—no disrespect meant to Tracy—the young Mav isn't so easy to paint as merely an imperfect athlete. If there's one thing this whole weed episode taught us, it's that Howard just wants to kill the bullshit. This isn't about swagger. It's the past's radical athlete principles delivered with this era's off-handedness. And Howard, I'm beginning to think, speaks out because he's upset, not angry.

For today's Josh Howard, tune into the Julian Wright Show. Tayshaun Prince waited till crucial playoff games to make his rookie year count for something. With last night, Wright started to do the same. His game is every bit as awkward and elastic as Howard's, but somehow steely and capable of square-jawed wonders when you least expect it. Wright also has that thing that the younger, less stricken, Howard had, where his every move seemed to kind of freak out all the other players on the floor, who weren't ready to let their every pore combust.

(Here's a book teaser: When you see it, you will understand why these events are kind of making me nervous)

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At 4/28/2008 4:34 PM, Blogger Jason said...

[caution unliberated fandom will follow, and College Basketball]

Talk about having cake and eating it. KU fans get the title and a growing manchild in the NBA playoffs; Julian Wright has gears that european cars yearn for, and skills that Magic left behind. Just wait.

At 4/28/2008 4:56 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

So guys, how big was that shot?

Delonte: "They was late. Hands down, mans down, ya know?"

Lebron: "It's big for Delonte, to know that I have faith in him, to take that shot."

If this were a writer's workshop, which character would be criticized for lacking nuance?

At 4/28/2008 5:51 PM, Blogger The wondering Mind said...

Sometimes the truth does not set you free what it does is free you up for scrutiny. The sad true about liberation is that even Icarus found that there is line you most never cross no matter what.

At 4/28/2008 5:55 PM, Blogger The wondering Mind said...

Speaking of which, I once thought a J-Ho for RJ trade was a wash, I doubt if NJ would do that trade today.

At 4/28/2008 6:26 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

@bagel: I haven't perused all of the hoops commentary today, but was anyone else completely bewildered by Lebron's responses? He made a game-winning shot BY SOMEONE ELSE about himself. Is this the result of everyone praising Jordan for passing the ball to wide-open shooter like Paxon and Kerr in crunch time?

I found it bizarre and off-putting that Lebron not only put the focus on himself, but also seemed to be giving the reporters their story. "Remember to write that Delonte made that shot because through my faith in him, he had the confidence to take it. Witness....King James..... some other Biblical shit."

Now five years in, the only thing we know about Lebron's personality is that he's blandly capitalist and arrogant.

Save me, Agent Zero!

At 4/28/2008 10:50 PM, Blogger crazylegsjackson said...


At 4/28/2008 11:02 PM, Blogger Matt said...


At 4/28/2008 11:06 PM, Blogger John said...


Joe Johnson 20 in the fourth Q (CLYDE)
The Young Josh Smith 12 in the fourth Q (BONNIE)

Two 10+ point comebacks


At 4/28/2008 11:08 PM, Blogger Dan said...

minus the hopes and dreams of freedarko- did anyone think that THIS would be the first round series to remember? i hope it never ends.

At 4/28/2008 11:08 PM, Blogger rebar said...



At 4/28/2008 11:15 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Recluse: I just thought about it briefly, and I got to wondering: Does Bron have any other examples to go by? Should we expect him to transcend off the court as well as on, or should we just accept that he's Hoops Capitalism 2.0?

There's a different take on this, and a criticism of Zero in a Slate piece today.

At 4/28/2008 11:28 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Oh, and yeah, I believe, and all that.

Seriously, this is the weirdest box score I've seen in a long time:

Points off TOs: +7 to Boston
Assists: +10 to Boston
Steals: +7 to Boston
Offensive boards: +7 to Boston

Atlanta shot better 48 to 41 percent, but took 18 fewer shots, and only hit four 3s the whole game. They basically won on 19-point advantage at the foul line, even though the total fouls were almost even.

This team defies even the very laws of mathematics. They make basketball success from thin air.

At 4/28/2008 11:38 PM, Blogger Tom said...

Zaza ain't take no guff.

At what point to THOSE thoughts start creeping into Garnett's head? You know, the ones the media demands keep TMac awake at night?

At 4/28/2008 11:43 PM, Blogger Leonardson Saratoga said...


don't no one say nobody saw this comin'

At 4/28/2008 11:47 PM, Blogger T. said...


At 4/29/2008 12:06 AM, Blogger Alap said...

how bout chris webber being really really good at this studio analyst thing?

At 4/29/2008 4:16 AM, Blogger Steve S. said...

First the J-Smoove/Joe Johnson ragnarok, then JR going shot-for-shot with Kobe down the stretch. Hard to imagine a day more suited for freedarkonian exultations.

At 4/29/2008 4:37 AM, Blogger Steve S. said...

Another thought: tonight the Nuggets literally became J.R.'s team. His 30 foot 3's floated to the top of their gestalt collective identity. And this was by far the best game they played this whole series. I can only dream of the aneurysms he'd cause on a Don Nelson-coached team.

At 4/29/2008 10:49 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

SB--I'm just not seeing why a piece that trumpets "Gilbert Arenas, really weird guy whose play is unpredictable and often bad" is anything new. Except that this one seems to not see the fun in that.

My Hawks post forthcoming. That win got me so high that I crashed immediately and almost slit my wrists.


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