5.29.2008

Life Needs No Fever



I, too love the Hawks, Hornets and other examples of unfulfilled potential, because I can identify with that struggle to get your shit together. But the Spurs are where I want to end up. They're grown. They know who they are more than any team in the league, and aren't plagued with the nagging anxieties and insecurities of youth.—Brickowski

The other day I sent out a frantic email to some associates known and unknown, begging for immediate FreeDrafto coverage. In the wake of the dead Suns, errant Dubs, soon-to-be-asunder Hawks, and be-Larry-ed Bobcat, this league could be running precious low on shit we stand for. Remember how the 2007 draft was supposed to restore the league's legitimacy, as 2003 was supposed to have, too? With very little knowledge of the situation, I wanted to be told that this draft could do that for FD-ness. I felt like Bush, but it was worth it.

But at some point today, I stopped and really thought about the Lakers. Why exactly isn't it a bigger deal to this community that Los Angeles is Finals bound? Forget about them being the ones to overcome the Spurs; on a number of levels, I would've rather seen the Hornets do it. And yet in every single way—my soft spot for this team notwithstanding—the Lakers embody almost everything this site stands for. Moody, dominant superstar? Check. Apositional weirdo long burdened by his own versatility? Indeed. Euro breaking molds? Uh-huh. Competitive style? Certainly—the triangle has never been so lyrical. They have the NBA's only Jew, and its most bad-ass organ of joyousness. Even Phil, whom I formerly despised, has lightened up and turned himself into a perplexing, yet effective, beacon of humor and irony.



(A lot like the Suns, but without the lingering sense that they, like us, might deep down inside be a bunch of losers. Or permanent outcasts.)

I know a lot of people despise the Lakers writ large, or can't help but look at Kobe askance. It's also no secret that I'm a huge Kobe apologist, and think that Odom is infinitely more sympathetic than Garnett these days. Both of these aside, though, why exactly isn't this Lakers team a watershed in FD ideology? There's style, psychology, personality, innovation, intelligence, and even some fairly confusing identity politics going on here. And unlike every other team we've jocked, these Lakers just might win a ring with a team I could watch every day for the rest of my life.

Maybe it's the Bynum factor. At this point, he's the epitome of marvelous hypothetical. He was getting better, more grown, with every game, before he went down. On top of that, he's a towering human being with a spring-loaded step to rival any traditional big this side of Dwight Howard. There will be no extension this summer, as his value remains such an upside-down, gaseous infinity sign. Of course, it would be anyway, injury or no injury. As I detailed elsewhere, Bynum's like a max-contract time bomb just waiting for one healthy season. And within the context of the team, Gasol/Odom/Bynum makes this year's humble formation look like so much fancy chopped liver. These are the days of awe, but there are days much more vast yet ahead.



Or perhaps what bothers some of you is the very notion that this this site's ideals could reach any measure of completion, maturation, or fixity. That's likely what's kept me from overflowing with excitement; whether or not they were the Lakers, coached by Phil, with Kobe at the helm, there would still be something very establishment, or institutional, about them. I honestly can't tell if they've sublimated the technical side of the game and achieved artistry, or assimilated artistry on the way to arch-effectiveness. I'm not sure it matter, or if there's any difference, but something about the decisiveness of that movement rubs me the wrong way. I guess that's the whole "would an avant-garde team be avant-garde if they proved their legitimacy by winning a ring" question.

That's why I found the above quote from Brick so reassuring. I may not wholly identify with the Lakers, or feel fully invested in them. Kobe and Odom are, in some ways, more distant from me as a fan than when they were more flawed and complicated. But damn it, if I ever were to grow up, or have my views of basketball do so, it would look a lot like these Lakers. I don't want to be last year's Warriors forever. Better have this as a shining example than look forward to becoming reactionary in my old age, at least in part due to a sense of embarrassment.

When I was a teenager, I used to look through my friend's father's record collection. It always bothered me that he owned all the late Coltrane, but never listened to it (remember, I was like fourteen at the time). Right then and there, I made a vow to myself that I wouldn't go that route. Obviously, that was stupid and immature, and I don't even think I own Meditations anymore. But—only using jazz here because it's true—Crescent or First Meditations make more sense to me now than they ever did then. I guess I'm saying that, if getting grown has to happen, I'd at least like to know I have a model for it that doesn't cause some sort of inner fracture. Even if I'm not quite ready for it yet.

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97 Comments:

At 5/29/2008 2:59 AM, Blogger Matt said...

This speaks volumes about my own personal flaws, but the reason I always got behind FD teams like 04-05 Suns or last year's Warriors was specifically because they were petulant, that they laughed at the rules, that they refused to grow up. They were saying that it doesn't matter that nobody else has travelled the path you're on and wound up great, by god, force of will alone can get you success just the way you are. They said you didn't have to grow up, that you can bend the world to you instead of the other way around.

The fact that those teams fucked around and didn't get "there" writes somewhere on my life that I got to stop fucking around to do anything close to what I want to, and that's a little frightening.

I guess all I'm saying is that when I finally do grow up, I definitely don't want to be the Spurs.

 
At 5/29/2008 4:03 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

Maybe it's my skewed interpretation of FD-ness (being that I don't get as much opportunity to view truly FD teams as often as N. Americans and haven't had cable in some months now), but I've thought this for some time about the Lakers. Of course, they do lack a great deal of the Warriors almost chaotic game plan, as they also lack a great deal of the 04/05 Suns running, but there still is that unifying element within their team, perhaps something like more than the sum of their parts? I don't really know, but I've loved watching the Lakers this year when I've had a chance... I'll make the assertion that Kobe version 08 is a fairly remarkable example of style being substance.


But I could be wrong.

 
At 5/29/2008 4:05 AM, Blogger Sahlan said...

DOES IT MATTER?
I honestly don't know... but it's nice to know that others have reached here as well...


So I was drinking the other night... talking to some people that aren't basketball fans and they were telling how Boston's so great and LA's so great. Yadda yadda the standard Sports Center lines...

6 Kirin's later... a theory popped out that LA is pretty FD... There's no real classic position players... do they have a real centre? a real PG? Does Odom have a real position? Does da machine play team ball or just camp? KB8 redefined the role/ability of the swing man...

In many ways this is a Frankenstein D'Antoni wet dream!

I should be excited... so why do I want SA to kill them? SA's been the bane of my life in recent years...

Why do I want Detroit to kill the Celtics? It can't just be for Maxiell and Stuckey... why do I hope someone clocks Rajon everytime he drives?

OJ MAYO TO NEW YORK!!!

 
At 5/29/2008 5:27 AM, Blogger Steve S. said...

Bracing myself from being battered by further R.ocks and Bricks, but here we go: once more from the perspective of revolutionary politics.

I guess I've always seen the FreeDarko party platform as equal parts Emma Goldman's "it's not my revolution if I can't dance to it" and Barkley's "shut up and jam". So in my warped little brain, the question here is the exact same as revolutionary movements have faced since May '68 in Paris: is idealism and aesthetic critique of society (remember, the situationists began as an art movement) enough to completely overthrow the entire existing social order? The 5th Republic of France was nearly overthrown by a nationwide general strike in solidarity with striking students who protested student conditions including visitation rights in dorms of the opposite sex -- a revolution basically for the hell of it. Just the roses, no bread.

If you read that entire paragraph, or even any substantial text on May '68 and imagine it's talking about the '05 Suns, I guarantee you it still makes sense.

Last year's Warriors took that ideological conundrum to one extreme, by basically eschewing anything resembling an actual revolutionary movement or championship team and went at causing as much damage to the NBA establishment as possible before their self-acknowledged eventual, inevitable flareout with a Kaczynskian glee.

I do believe these Lakers are revolutionary, or at the very least (as I've said before), a liberal reform movement imbued with revolutionary zeal by those who had come before them. A lot of this has to do with my belief that the triangle offense is actually revolutionary, with the difference between this and the other 9 rings on Phil's fingers being, this is the first one that's used the triangle as its primary tool for offensive liberation rather than a halfcourt framework for setting up endless post-ups, isos, and closeouts. I would like to add that they would not have the opportunity to do so without a phenomenal, completely unconventional talent like Odom, who has turned the Top of the Key position in the triangle from a predictable jumpshooter who sets the occasional pick to the most dangerous player on the floor.

So as for the May '68 question: maybe the Suns fell short and did not shock the NBA into a clean break of history inspired solely by their ideals of art, beauty, truth, and 7 seconds or less. But you can't begrudge these Lakers for being almost as exciting.

Shoals, I'd disagree that it's the Lakers' ability to fit into categorical imperatives like mercurial star, FreeDarkonian idol, Goofy Euro, check check check, that makes them such an FD team. Rather, I'd say it's just because, when they're clicking, they're so goddamn fun to watch. And because of every single thing Ronny Turiaf does, at every moment of his life.

 
At 5/29/2008 5:37 AM, Blogger Jonny said...

i would say that any team that turiaf is on should lead the FD standings

how would you all rate teams according to FD'ness?

 
At 5/29/2008 6:05 AM, Blogger Carter Blanchard said...

As a lifelong Laker fan I've always felt hesitant to pimp the Lakers too much around here (with the notable exceptions of my Ronny love and Lamar post), because my fandom of this team has always been pretty unliberated. But it's comforting to hear someone who's not as emotionally invested for geographic reasons echo some of the thoughts I assumed were due to my bias.

My latest fixation is how does Sasha go from being a completely useless sub to a critical piece on a contender. I understand getting older helps, but after three years in the league of being pretty miserable on both ends, ostensibly without changing anything concrete about his game other than his attitude, he's become crucial to the team's success. Being cocky shouldn't up your 3pt shooting almost 10% from your career average. You shouldn't be able to completely transform your defensive reputation without actually doing anything new. I guess all I'm saying is that there's some weird Samson shit going on. Vlad needs to recomplete the goofy-floppy-euro-hair trifecta.

 
At 5/29/2008 9:14 AM, Blogger Ed said...

Yeah, but the Gasolic Lakers are a somewhat different proposition than the Bynumic Lakers. When PG was added, the Lakers became all about redemption, maturity, the fulfillment of hopes and potential long deferred. "Songs of Experience." Ain't nothing wrong with that.

But my favorite part of the year was the first part, when Bynum seemed to astonish himself with every game, and kept getting innocently high on his own unsuspected powers. It was like Peter Parker suddenly realizing he could shoot webs and walk up buildings. "Songs of Innocence."

 
At 5/29/2008 9:31 AM, Blogger ra said...

Steve S, the Paris '68 analogy seems spot-on to me, and I think what is happening to the Suns at the twilight of their revolt, and what the Lakers are showing us now speaks volumes to your question:

is idealism and aesthetic critique of society (remember, the situationists began as an art movement) enough to completely overthrow the entire existing social order?

I'd say to that, not entirely. Hegemony eventually has its way, and in this model the Spurs can be regarded as basketball's dominant discourse. By merit and by the will of journalism's canonization of their style, the Spurs have convinced many of the superiority of their structure and of its benefits. The Suns, in light of its playoff losses to SA, trade for Shaq and run off D'Antoni. D'Antoni admits, for now, that he must fit his style to the personnel; his revolution is temporarily compromised. The Celtics put together Team Ubuntu, with its accepting role players and stars in roles that degrade their capabilities to the imperatives of the system. I don't remember who made the point about the current Michael Finley, but I see Ray Allen in the same light. His game - even considering last night's shooting gem - is sick off the Popovich-via-Doc Kool Aid.

The Lakers, maybe, know how to strike the balance between seven seconds or less and...whatever the Spurs philosophy has been dubbed. Yes, Odom is the epitome of positional revolution, and yes, Gasol plays shitty defense, but this is still a team that can grind with the Spurs if need be. Vujacic and Turiaf play their roles, and the team's transcendent star - unlike Nash - is a phenomenal two-way player.

Most importantly, Jackson is more capable of negotiating the lines between his team's talent, the dictates of "playoff basketball", and his belief in his system. His philosophy is not liberating in the way that seven seconds or Nellieball are; it is a dominant discourse in its own right, with those nine trophies as incentive to fall in line.

All that said, if the Lakers style can emerge and run off some championships, then D'Antoni's revolution meant something, even if he's the NBA's Antonio Gramsci, spending a few years in Isaiah Thomas' prison. If the revolutions and negotiations can kill off the Spurs dominance as it stands now, then we're better off.

 
At 5/29/2008 9:50 AM, Blogger rebar said...

Steve S, you truly unleashed a monster.

Where as i would argue that the 06-07 warriors were very much so pure Deleuze, a real life basketball Body without Organs in their insurrection, it's the lesson to us all that they could only survive on the margins for so long. the volatility and lack of a unified front would eventually self-destruct on them.

The 07-08 Lakers are a beast of another flavor, more fitting the Massumi-interpreted lens of cultural insurrection, because they "pretend to be what they seem to be." at first glance, you see all that bullshit about experience (Kobe, phish) and effective roleplayers and young "energy guys." but look a little deeper and you're staring into the fucking abyss. Kobe's like a self-controlling black hole, capable of sucking the spacetime continuum into himself on a regular basis, the team doesn't have any real positional players, and dudes like turiaf make you feel raw power and verve even when they only make a midrange jumper.

in short, they're a sustainable version of the deterritorialized basketball team (suns with diaw at center, hallowed be thy name warriors). those were flare-outs, short term explosions in the mind of the overfiend of capital, but the Lakers, they're in it to win the war. sure, they're not as pure a form of resistance, but who hasn't had to compromise to achieve goals?

if we take one lesson from them, it's not that we gots to grow up to win, it's that we gotta disguise that crazy feeling better.

 
At 5/29/2008 9:58 AM, Blogger Sparkles*_* said...

Does Freedarko receive royalties every time the phrase "writ large" is used? From the Writ Large Corp.?

 
At 5/29/2008 10:01 AM, Blogger Louie Bones said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5/29/2008 10:12 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

LB--I knew I was getting carried away when I wrote that sentence. Am going to tone it down some, but as far as traditional big men go, I think you're going too far in the other direction.

Sparkles--Only if Billups tells us to.

 
At 5/29/2008 10:31 AM, Blogger Louie Bones said...

It's true that it gets more difficult when considering true centers in the equation, even more so when considering orthodox centers who play like Bynum. But he's not even the most athletic 7 footer on his own team, as that would be DJ Mbenga.

 
At 5/29/2008 10:35 AM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Dang, I know we wouldn't say that pretentiousness is an FD characteristic, but these comments sections can tilt from celebration to philosophical tract awfully damn fast.

Just sayin'. I'm guilty too.

On a technical note, I always thought the triangle to be a very enabling system. The role player is given space to do more, while still retaining a role. Interchangeability is built in, but not the driving force. And Phil is still a more enabling coach than some of the other "player friendly" guys out there.

Someone during an in-game interview, I think Fisher, said that the offense was designed to put people in offensive rebounding positions. I thought that was sneaky cool.

 
At 5/29/2008 10:44 AM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Fines for flopping!

 
At 5/29/2008 10:58 AM, Blogger Mother Father Chinese Dentist said...

the lakers seem like an electable liberal presidential candidate: sure they have some characteristics that make them easy to identify with for those who go against the grain, but they also "play the game" enough to earn mainstream acceptance, and have enough skill to make their unconventional strategy work. it remains to be seen whether they will become a towering jfk or a chubby bill clinton.

also, fines for flopping: about time.

 
At 5/29/2008 11:04 AM, Blogger Louie Bones said...

Lakers = Obama
Spurs = McCain
Celts = Hillary
Pistons = Bizarro Romney?

 
At 5/29/2008 11:08 AM, Blogger Mother Father Chinese Dentist said...

i would say
spurs = hillary and
celts = mccain
in that the spurs represent the status quo and are infinitely less likable (and have a well earned reputation for playing a bit on the dirty side) like hillary, whereas people seem to vacillate between liking and disliking mccain, pretty much based on the opponent. you can find things to like and hate about both mccain and the celts pretty easily.

pistons= ron paul? lyndon larouche? nader? adlai stevenson?

 
At 5/29/2008 11:37 AM, Blogger Sweat of Ewing said...

If the Lakers are Obama, then Phoenix was Joe Biden, characterizing a beautiful dream but doomed to failure. And Cleveland was definitely the Ron Paul independent party - no chance in hell other than the sheer wealth/magnetism of its head.

And has anyone else realized that Gasol is the closest thing to a pure point guard that the Lakers have? By now I expect every one of his post-ups to end in a pass to a cutter - I don't think he even looks to score any more except as a last resort, when Oberto/Thomas accidentally fall down on the play or something.

 
At 5/29/2008 11:42 AM, Blogger blake said...

exactly. spurs = hillary. celtics = mcain.

FOR sho.

 
At 5/29/2008 11:45 AM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Derek "the rhizome" Fisher refracted the truth about his daughter to return to L.A. It was a move without precedent under the NBA's CBA.

Gasol for Kawame + detritus would have violated antitrust laws were it subjected to such.

The Jazz' foul nature aside, the officiating in the semis was atrocious.

Q&Ath Okur:
Question: During the season as a team you committed the most fouls. You are known as a tough team. Did you pay for this during the Lakers series? There was a big difference in free throw shots, even on your home court, except for one game always in favor of the Lakers?

Memo:I don't know if we committed the most fouls, as I am not a big stat guy. However I know that we were also one of the most often fouled teams in the league. For some reason our games are usually played that way. But when I look at the Lakers series, they were the ones going to shoot the freebies in general. So during the season we fouled a lot, and got fouled a lot, but in the playoffs we continue to foul a lot, while all of a sudden the opponents start playing nice and clean? There were times during the Lakers series I felt like I was a porter as there was always someone on my back.

The Lakers are about as FD as Flea.

 
At 5/29/2008 11:47 AM, Blogger Mother Father Chinese Dentist said...

i don't know who would be a good parallel for the pistons. maybe william jennings bryan? sort of an "always a bridesmaid, never a bride" kinda thing. the cleveland-ron paul thing is dead on. nader too, to an extent.

pre brawl pacers = pre-boat pics gary hart?

 
At 5/29/2008 11:48 AM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

For me one of the most interesting and odd things about this Laker team is they seem to be somehow flying in the face of "defense wins championships". The Warriors and Suns went that route too, but could never seem to make it work, yet somehow these Lakers are doing it, and even weirder, it seems to be working. When the Suns and Spurs used to square off, I'd always feel like "yeah but, San Antonio's just gonna muck up the Suns' gameplan with their D and that'll be all she wrote," but heading into this series I really felt that the Lakers would win just because San Antonio can't score enough to keep up. I even had to stop myself and think hard on that because it seemed conventionally ludicrous, especially against the A number one example of "defense wins championships", but I ultimately couldn't shake that notion that the Spurs defense just would not be able to sufficiently suffocate this Laker O and grind them out the way they did with Phoenix. Boston & Detroit both play that same D but can theoretically score more than the Spurs can, so it remains to be seen whether the Lakers can actually win a title with a team that places offense before defense.

Moving forward I can't help but compare this Laker team to the 05-06 Suns when they were without Amare, and wonder what Bynum's addition will do to the team, especially stylistically. Bynum is a rather quick (for his size) and spry center who should be able to work right into the mix there, but will his integration do to Odom what Amare's insertion did to Diaw? My sense of things says that won't happen, because I think Phil will try harder to figure out how to make that work than D'Antoni did with Diaw (who seemed to say "thanks Boris, but our real center's here now, so take a seat on the bench"). But even if the Lakers make it really work with Bynum, Gasol and Odom across the frontline, will the Lakers be less aesthetically pleasing even if they're more efficient? Will Gasol & Odom be able to play off each other the way they have this year if Bynum is in there too? Will the Lakers revert to the Shaq-like way of offensive execution if Bynum becomes a dominant force in the post (dump it into the low post and run everything from the center)? Gasol is far and away the most versatile center to ever play in the triangle offense and that is a major reason for why the Lakers look so fluid out there, so it does beg questions about whether that will continue once he's moved to power forward (even though Gasol ultimately will probably be more comfortable and more effective playing out of the high post rather than the low post).

I guess what I'm saying is I have a feeling that if the Lakers do win the title this year, and then get Bynum back next year and win a couple more titles in the next few years, those championship teams won't look like this one, so we should enjoy it while we can.

 
At 5/29/2008 11:49 AM, Blogger Mother Father Chinese Dentist said...

also, is there anything worse than flea's playoff blog? great, a slap bass-playing acid casualty writing shitty coffee shop poetry about my favorite sport.

 
At 5/29/2008 12:11 PM, Blogger Sweat of Ewing said...

Not that Flea was any better a poet an acid user than he is as an acid casualty:

l. a. lakers fast break makers
kinds of the court shake and bake all takers
back to back is a bad ass fact a claim that remains in tact
m-a-g-i-c see you on the court

...

 
At 5/29/2008 12:17 PM, Blogger avery said...

"pre brawl pacers = pre-boat pics gary hart?"-Mother Father

I just had a weird vision today of Artest somehow joining the Pistons, which would have been like Hart joining Dukakis on the ticket in '88. A shake-up in the line-up is needed.

on the lakers, this all has to point back to the transformation of Kobe. This could be Jackson's greatest disciple, watching a petulant young star submit to his wise ways. To refer back to the Gramsci reference--it's a reversal, Kobe has now consented to the hegemonic forces of Phil Jackson, and has felt liberated. Is is oppression if it leads to freedom?

Perhaps this has been said before, but it must be noted that the emergence of Lamar Odom since Feb. is not, in my opinion, directly related to the addition of Gasol's position, but the addition of someone of Gasol's quality. Odom just needed the burden of the second option to be lifted--and that could've come in the form of AI, Marion, AK47, or whomever. The burden of having potential has been replaced by the lack of responsibility, and therefore the potential is fulfilled.

 
At 5/29/2008 12:34 PM, Blogger ItTakesAThiefToCatchAThief said...

Like.....What?

KG just dropped 33 in a huge game. Ray Allen stepped up and reminded us all who he is. Stuckey gave us a glimpse of his future and a glimpse of torture.

AND YOU POST ABOUT THE LAKERS? The Lakers ARE the establishment, man. They're Dubya in sheep's clothing. They got Odom, yes, and Odom is a Lord and should be praised as such. But Kobe is Lord Vader, and all the funny quips Phil has stored in his computer won't get rid of that. Kobe's earned respect - but he'll never earn love. And as much love as Odom's earned, he can't supercede Kobe's...Kobeeneenee-ness

It's getting....Weird....the lack of KG posts, considering he's the fucking definition of positional revolution - PG mentatlity, C defensive skills, SF smoothness, PF post up game, and close to SG range - and considering he's playing his best ball and he's about to take down Vader. KG's Skywalker. And Pierce is Han Solo. And Ray is Chewy.

And you're over here talking up Vader. Fuckin' Whack, Brah.

 
At 5/29/2008 12:50 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Here, here's your Celtics post by me. Now calm down.

Celtics have been bullshit most of the season and barely been worth watching. They showed me something last night, but one night's not worth more than all the Lakers have done this season (without adequaet acknowledgment on here). Both Dr. LIC and myself have very mixed feelings about current KG. Read the site, it's been documented. We've been jocking Stuckey forever, most recently last week.

And not sure if you missed it, but Kobe's always been one of my personal favorites.

 
At 5/29/2008 1:39 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

"I know a lot of people despise the Lakers writ large, or can't help but look at Kobe askance. It's also no secret that I'm a huge Kobe apologist, and think that Odom is infinitely more sympathetic than Garnett these days. Both of these aside, though, why exactly isn't this Lakers team a watershed in FD ideology?"

You answered your own question. MC Welk and ItTakesAThiefToCatchAThief are just confirming it. There isn't exactly an abundance of people out there who will ever be willing to give the Lakers any credit or praise, just because they're the Lakers. If any other team out there played the way they do and was one game from the Finals, I'm quite sure you wouldn't have needed a post like this to point out how FD they are.

In other news, anyone else notice that tonight may be Robert Horry's last NBA game?

 
At 5/29/2008 2:03 PM, Blogger Steve S. said...

Please don't compare the Lakers to Obama around me, or I might cry. The Lakers have Tex "Old Ben" Winter as an adviser, not Zbigniew Brze-fucking-zinski. To keep harping on the David Graeber treatise I made last month, I'd prefer to see this Laker's team as the Seattle WTO protests in '99, with black bloc anarchists like Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf marching alongside union guys like Derek Fisher and tree-hugging environmentalists like Pau. Seemed initially to be a flash in the pan, but if you look at it today, the WTO, World Bank, and IMF are all but dead, thanks to an international movement which really sprung from Seattle.

I'm still okay with the Spurs as Hillary, though.

 
At 5/29/2008 2:28 PM, Blogger Dan Filowitz said...

Isn't part of the issue, in terms of embracing this LA team from an FD perspective, that the Lakers are an establishment NBA team?

This to me makes them more like the Gingrich Republicans of '94. Sure, it's revolutionary in a way, but it's not like the Green Party or the Bobcats are running things all of a sudden.

 
At 5/29/2008 2:39 PM, Blogger Steve S. said...

Dan,

Does the shirt really matter as much as the personnel? To me, the matter of the Lakers as an establishment franchise is a total non-issue, and at the very least it's like the abolitionist Abe Lincoln Republicans and the status quo Democrats eating each others' identities. And, the Lakers have quite a lot of Euros on their rosterand other players with silly names, but none as absurd as Newt.

 
At 5/29/2008 2:41 PM, Blogger jawaan oldham said...

The '68 thing got me thinking. I'm a movie guy whose knowledge of revolutionary politics is kinda ehhh, but the analogy that came to mind in terms of Paris in '68 is: the Nash Suns are Godard. The 08 Lakers are Bertolucci. The former, truly revolutionary, jagged, brilliant, imperfect, ultimately doomed to be a figurehead. The latter, born of the revolution but not as revolutionary, aesthetically brilliant in a smoother, prettier way, ultimately destined for more commercial success.

 
At 5/29/2008 2:47 PM, Blogger The Other Van Gundy said...

I hate election years.

Forget the Celtics, man, the heroes you loved are DEAD, subsumed in the Masshole sports culture. The moment they put on shamrocks, KG and Ray as you knew them disappeared. Lone wolf Garnett now part of some kinda troika? The hell with that, I don't want to watch.

I think the only part about the Celtics I really enjoy is Paul Pierce talking to his players. Once after Cassell jacked up a terrible shot, he kept saying, "just run the play. Run the play, man." And after Rondo threw him a floaty pass last night, he lifted his eyebrows and asked, "What the HELL was that?!"

Thief: A lot of Kobe's allure comes from his distance. You don't want to love him, you want to watch his cyborg heart beat and imagine what's going on inside the circuit board.

And let me say this: fuck Odom. He's a tall guy and doesn't really play like one. Whatever, it's like the black gangsters in Guy Ritchie movies who have mincing british accents - initially a litle surprising, but you get over it.

 
At 5/29/2008 2:51 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

These are the most ridiculous comments ever.

@MC Welk: Does that mean that Chris Wallace is Tony Rezko?

 
At 5/29/2008 3:23 PM, Blogger Steve S. said...

TOVG,

It's more than just that. Odom is a basketball player that doesn't really play like one. He can shoot a jumper, but not consistently. He's a good passer, but routinely makes poor decisions. He's a phenomenal slasher/cutter, but the overriding lesson from games 1 and 3 in this Spurs series is, to be honest, he can't finish worth a damn. He's a good rebounder but I can't quite figure out why -- he doesn't box anybody out and his timing is only so-so. He's got the handles to lead the fast break but goes completely out of control nearly every time he tries. Once or twice a game he posts somebody up who is both smaller and slower than him, then realizes he really has no clue what he's doing and stops. And for god's sakes, he goes to his left every single time, and everybody and their cat knows it.

My fascination with Odom isn't his nebulous untapped "potential", because I don't think he'll ever develop that consistent J, ungodly touch at the rim, or anything else his game is said to be "lacking". I love Odom because he's probably the toughest matchup in these playoffs without any of that stuff -- he's phenomenally talented, yet he requires a player like Gasol with whom to work his 2-man game in both the high post/wing or high/low post and requires a system like the triangle to utilize this bizarre, bastardized and incomplete collection of phenomenal talents he does possess.

 
At 5/29/2008 3:33 PM, Blogger The Hypnotoad said...

I always figured that you don't have to "match up" with Odom because he plays down to whatever competition is in front of him. There are moments this playoffs though.

TOVG, man you nailed it with KG and Ray being consumed by the Masshole culture. I used to like Ray Allen so much, but now i find myself smiling when he's shooting his team out of a game.

And god willing this is Robert Horry's final game. But i'm sure it won't be...

 
At 5/29/2008 3:57 PM, Blogger Mother Father Chinese Dentist said...

the way i feel about KG is comparable to the way i feel about the stereotypical hippie-turned-lawyer: he's lost his underdog status and, subsequently, his lovable loserdom, by becoming not only part of a better team, but by becoming a masshole.

to put it in a more modern light, he traded in the grungy t-shirt and video games for the tie and the cubicle. some would see it as a sign of maturation, and in some ways it is, but in other ways, we've lost a friend.

 
At 5/29/2008 4:32 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Why can't Governor Moonbeam take another run at the Presidency?

"Finesse" players don't foul, right, and Odom and Gasol aren't swinging and/or broken turnstiles. Fisher was called for a lot more fouls when he played for the Jazz. The untold story of game 4 was the incredulity of Fisher/Odom/Phillip when they were actually called for a few things. And Gasol's skinny ass is where imagined pushoffs happen.

I would love the Rezko reset if the Lakers had anything to do with Obama.

 
At 5/29/2008 6:01 PM, Blogger FunWithLogic said...

Yeah, the postings are rough, but where else are such abstract ramblings about "pituitary cases trying to stuff the ball through a hoop" going to happen?

Briefly...

We can go Hegelian-dialectic/French Revolution here and say that while there was once a slower game (99-04 Lakers, Spurs, mercantilism/monarchy, thesis) the change in the rules favoring shooters led to a new elite class of players and teams (bourgeoisie, all the FD-teams). The Suns and Warriors are the Robespierre/Reign of Terror-type teams that thrash and excite the populous with their new ideas, but there extreme nature limits their viability. Once those teams collapse due to their structural flaws (in relation to the existing NBA rules), the more modern liberal state emerges (Lakers, Hornets, synthesis) where they maintain some sense of hierarchy (Jackson, reliable bigs) while encapsulating the exciting ideas of the experimental period (Odom's apositional-ness and CP3).

And... Lakers (Kobe) are what Hillary would be if she became half of what Obama is, stopped bullshitting with her centrist filth, and ran again in 2012.

Finally, in relation to growing up and conforming or whatever: LIFE IS NOT A BASKETBALL SEASON WITH PLAYOFFS! Many people consider the first half of their lives the best. Many great artists find that there is about a decade of good work and the rest is flawed. Life does not reach it's pinnacle at the end, but varies person to person. Old people are not FD: they are conventional (or define convention). Teams at the end of the playoffs are not FD: they are pragmatic, careful, consistent, yet opportunistic. It would be great for us fans of the sport to appreciate teams whenever they are successful in the season. We should consider their greatness based on what they do, not when in the season they do it. The Nov 06-Feb 07 Suns were the best team from last year, regardless of who won the ring.

 
At 5/29/2008 7:11 PM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

Seeing as I'm a conventional, McCain supporting reactionary, I'll have this hawkish bit of analysis to add. The biggest change made by Bynum's return, if healthy, will be in the Lakers' D.

The offense will still have a big that runs, passes and makes jumpers (gasol); a versatile big who can do a bit of this and that from the 3 spot (LO); Kobe is Kobe and the 1 spot will see more Machine, more Jordan and less phish. The added bonus at the 5 spot will be a big who does everything near the basket that Gasol can't. Bynum will finish strong, explode for putbacks and make you fear his move to the basket more then his pass (which Bynum has shown some ability in as well).

On D.... Imagine all those long arms that are making life difficult for Duncan this series funneling everything to the biggest and longest arms of them all, Bynum. What would it feel like to go against an Ariza, KB, LO, Gasol, Bynum line-up?

I see Phil letting Bynum develop bit by bit and he will become the focus of the team's offense in direct proportion to Kobe's slacking ability to be. In 4 years Kobe will be full circle, the best supporting actor to a dominant bigman. Farmar's and Ariza's development, along with Kupchek's ability to rotate new blood into the system, will dictate how far ahead the Lakers get of the Celtics in championship counts.

 
At 5/29/2008 7:22 PM, Blogger Steve S. said...

Logic,

I agree for the most part that a team's accomplishments and quality should be celebrated no matter where it comes in the season, I do believe that transcendent play during the playoffs is of an entirely higher caliber. It's like the chapter in Dave Hickey's book Air Guitar (which I'm sure has been discussed on this site several times), where he breaks down the Dr. J wrap-around on Kareem, and argues that it's Kareem's perfect defense that necessitated and therefore liberated such a high level of offensive artistry from the good Doctor. And for the most part, you just tend to find the best competition and highest stakes during the playoffs. Although I will argue to the death that the best basketball game played this season was Shaq's first game with the Suns, against the Lakers.

 
At 5/29/2008 7:58 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

Count me among those who had just been assuming the Lakers FD-ness. Reasons--Kobe. Odom. Farmar. Aesthetics: the aforementioned fluidity of this iteration of the triangle. Krazy Euros, including a dude called Spanish Fly who does all the things a Euro big is supposed to do. Turiaf. Personality. Fun. Potential: Drew, Ariza.

Counterarguments/reasons one might have missed it: the establishment veneer (Phil and crew, triangle, Kobe); not obviously doing things anarchistically (Ws, Suns); not dripping with potential (Hawks, Hornets).

And surely ...

Spurs = Bush

Detroit = McCain. Inconsistent. Unpredictable. Temperamental. There are things about them that make you want to like them, but the whole is both compelling and promising yet somewhat repulsive and creepy.

Boston = Hillary. You want to like them because of their personal history, but you were already uneasy with that feeling because of other parts of their history. You agree with many of their policies. You appreciate their competence. And yet they keep doing things that utterly piss you off and force you to think less and less of them.

Lakers = Barry

 
At 5/29/2008 8:19 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

I have a 1968 Saab 96. For a time I toyed with getting a Paris68 vanity plate. Then I spent a year in Paris and realized that they were only hippies, albeit well-read, with a sense of entitlement. Sort of like Phillip. Why was he not fined for calling out the officials on national TV, yet 'Sheed was during a post-game interview? Utter bullshit.

 
At 5/29/2008 8:24 PM, Blogger Abe Beame said...

In response to the gloom and doom FD Association eulogies present in the introduction, I'd just like to remind Shoals that a certain basketball team in New York peopled almost exclusively by explosive swing men and combo guards have just acquired a coach who will insist they get a shot off in 7 seconds or less. They might not win many games but that doesn't seem to be a requisite around these parts. (In response to Sahlan: OJ MAYO= I FEEL YOU)

 
At 5/29/2008 8:43 PM, Blogger philoguy24 said...

My love for the Lakers aside I look at them and almost see them through sort of a Nietzsche "will to power" lens. Whenever I hear Kobe, The Machine, Odom or any Laker talk about what they need to do in response to the Spurs, they never talk about things in response to the Spurs. They only talk about what they need to do to execute more crisply as if the Spurs are some inconsequential obstacle in their pursuit of their championship. Something about that to me is utterly powerful in that their view is only that of their impending goal and not that of their opponents.

 
At 5/29/2008 10:41 PM, Blogger Filbert Karo said...

Hey, check out my blog at http://steveandfilbertshow.blogspot.com! Comments will be highly appreciated. Today I wrote about how floppers will be fined next season. {Manu Ginobili, Kirilenko, Horry, LeBron, etc.}

 
At 5/29/2008 11:00 PM, Blogger Carter Blanchard said...

I really hope everyone's peeping the Ronny cam while we still have it. It makes me so happy to be alive.
http://www.tnt.tv/sports/nba/playoffs08_live/#

 
At 5/29/2008 11:22 PM, Blogger Fredrik deBoer said...

Well, the NBA may finally be dead to me. I can't watch this laughably pro-Lakers, pro-Kobe officiating anymore. I just can't do it. I'm getting physically ill watching it. Look-- no one who is not in the throws of immense bias can claim that this series has been officiated equitably or fairly. I just can't take this bullshit. I can't do it.

 
At 5/29/2008 11:29 PM, Blogger Fredrik deBoer said...

More to the point: you can't fully embrace the Lakers because they are the definition of the establishment team. Do you really want to love a team that has Victoria Beckham regularly attending their games? David Stern, the most soulless, corporate presence in the history of basketball, cries in his sleep at night, pining for another Lakers championship. The Worldwide Leader sings hosannas to every dubious foul call that goes Kobe's way. So do you want your fandom, your individual NBA dream, to rest so comfortably among those who want nothing more than to eradicate every aspect of basketball that they can't commodify?

 
At 5/29/2008 11:49 PM, Blogger Carter Blanchard said...

I know I probably shouldn't even engage this guy, but c'mon, pro-Kobe officiating? The guy shot 9 free throws the whole series. When has that ever happened? I really don't know what to say to anyone who watched this series and didn't feel that the Lakers very clearly were the better team and deserving of moving on.

Anyway, how much of a dick is Sasha Vujacic? Man I love that goofy euro.

 
At 5/29/2008 11:58 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Forget about the free throes; more than ever, I want to bang L. Dern in K. Harris now that's a makeup call.

 
At 5/30/2008 12:00 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Seattle notwithstanding, David Stern is one my heroes.

 
At 5/30/2008 12:00 AM, Blogger Fredrik deBoer said...

Why shouldn't you engage this guy? Because he doesn't agree with you? What is it about this blog that makes people so enormously opposed to contrary opinion? The whole thing is really incestuous.

The truly egregious series was against the Jazz, which was the worst officiating I've seen in 20 years of watching basketball. But this series was bad, bad, bad, and anyone who will tell you that Kobe wouldn't have gotten that Brent Barry call is profiting by it.

But hey, *jazz* *Euro* *Foucault-reference* *kibbutz* *word is bond, God* *Mikael Pietrus* *electric bugaloo* *antiquated slang in an attempt to appropriate black patois* *semiotics* *the megillah* *Mark Madsen is an asshole* *coltrane* *Sam Perkins* *suburbs* *swag*. Now I've said something "Freedarko".

 
At 5/30/2008 12:37 AM, Blogger ~CW~ said...

"Opposed to contrary opinion?". That's a rather ill-informed comment to make, especially when just yesterday there was a rather lengthy discussion of multiple viewpoints in regards to the Spurs/Lakers series.

Good response to Carter's facts regarding free throws by moving the discussion to a different series. Well played.

 
At 5/30/2008 12:58 AM, Blogger Leonardson Saratoga said...

bitching that FreeDarko won't agree with you that Kobe got some help is like bitching that the Red Sox message board won't agree with you that Jeter is a god.

Maybe you're right (your not) but know where you at, son.

 
At 5/30/2008 1:00 AM, Blogger Carter Blanchard said...

Because I had a feeling you'd respond with some truly insipid shit like, "the worst officiating I've seen in 20 years of watching basketball."

 
At 5/30/2008 1:51 AM, Blogger Nick said...

I'll tell ya what's FreeDarko, Fredrik: syntax.

Complex, hypo-mother-fucking-tactic syntax.

Take that weak paratactic shit somewhere else....

 
At 5/30/2008 2:18 AM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

Where is Zeke? I preferred Zeke.

 
At 5/30/2008 2:18 AM, Blogger Steve S. said...

Nick,

You have won my heart, and should you consider me worthy, may call me your betrothed.

Fredrik,

Oh no, you've figured out the secret! FreeDarko is actually full of self-important, hyper-intellectual hipsters who worship obscure basketball players and pride themselves on their colonialist misunderstanding and co-optation of black culture! Run for the fucking hills!

 
At 5/30/2008 2:41 AM, Blogger The Other Van Gundy said...

Man, intellectual fights suck. Somebody call somebody a fag!

Agreed on Vujacic being a total cock, he really took his time spotting up that last second three. Maybe there was a "get to 100 and we all get big macs" promotion in effect?

So a Lakers vs. Celtics/Pistons final? Man. I'm looking at the bracket on NBA.com, and you just have to wonder what could have been.

My question is this: was this the death rattle of the Spurs franchise, or do they only need an infusion of young blood to return to Championship form? Would anyone be surprised if Pops was a vampire? Or Tony Parker?

 
At 5/30/2008 2:52 AM, Blogger Carter Blanchard said...

No, the Staples promotions is hold the opponent under 100 in a win and get free Jack in the Box tacos that I'm fairly certain have mustard in them. He did just beat the spread of 8.5 apparently. Point-shaving scandal? Sure, why not.

If the Spurs can bring over Splitter, snag another stud late in the draft, make a couple good rotation signings, they could be fine in two years. Once Ginobli and/or Duncan breaks down in 4 years then they'll be done.

 
At 5/30/2008 3:01 AM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

deboer,
Deep breaths. You'll need some extra oxygen to put together a conspiracy theory. Here's mine.

Kobe is the best player in the game. He has the deepest supporting cast, and arguably the best coach, of any sport, in North America. In the Conference Championship series his team went against a noticeably aged champion whose diminished ability to dominate was clear to anyone who watches the league. So what do you think of my theory? I went pretty deep undercover to piece the puzzle together but there it is. I'm going to wait out Oliver Stone's latest peyote party in the mountains of Venezuela and send him an e-mail. Here's to my chance to co-write his next movie.

Steve S.,

You've grown on me. I'm curious, how well does the colonized understand the master culture? Did Eddy Said leave behind any thoughts regarding that issue?

 
At 5/30/2008 4:00 AM, Blogger Steve S. said...

Rocky,

I hoped you'd come around. As for your questions, your answer is as good as mine. As a 22 year old straight white male, I can't offer much of an opinion from personal experience, and believe it or not, I've not yet read any Said. I actually kind of hate reading most theory (though Freire holds a special place in my heart, and he would say that the colonized oppressed hold, if not an understanding of the master culture, then a desire to appropriate that role of power, since they equate it with their liberation) -- I prefer reading fiction to non-fiction any day of the week anyway.

 
At 5/30/2008 10:08 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

For the record, the official FreeDarko position on Mark Madsen is that he is a lovably goofy white guy (I mean, he DID play for the Lakers! Whoo, go Lakers!!), certainly not an asshole.

I don't believe that anyone has ever mentioned Sam Perkins on this site until you did.

 
At 5/30/2008 10:11 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

Also, complaining about officiating is for fags.

There.

 
At 5/30/2008 10:31 AM, Blogger Jerry Vinokurov said...

For the life of me, I don't understand how Kobe can be FD. Look, I'll be the first to acknowledge that he's the best player in the game right now. From a purely technical perspective, he's amazing (I won't even say entertaining, just amazing) to watch; when he's on, he can do anything and no one can stop him. And I won't argue that the Laker cast that's coalesced about him is pretty good too.

But on the other hand, he's a soulless fucking robot. I mean, people call TD "Duncanbot" but Duncan has nothing on Kobe. He's entirely unlikable as a personality; last off-season, he was ready to throw the entire Lakers organization under the bus. He's the poster-child of obnoxious entitlement, and the pleasant face he has on these days is a transparent mask that would slide off in a second if things didn't go his way.

Like it or not, Kobe and Phil Jackson are the ultimate establishmentarians, and nothing demonstrates that so well as the farcical "trade" that brought them Gasol. They've adopted the guise and mannerisms of revolutionaries, but under that friendly demeanor are the wheels of the State that will crush whatever stands in its way. If all you care about is on-court results and playing style, then cheering for Kobe makes sense. But it doesn't sound very FD to me.

 
At 5/30/2008 10:42 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

I'm getting really tired of the attempts at defining FD in these comments, but if we must.......a player can be FD without any of us necessarily LIKING him. I once thought the definition of FD was "a player that Shoals [and people of a similar mindset] likes," but it's really more "a player that fascinates Shoals." And it's impossible to deny that Kobe is a fascinating person, perhaps the most fascinating athlete of his generation.

Kobe may be soulless, but not in the automaton sense that Duncan is soulless, but more in the sense of a sociopath or a really athletic, high-functioning autistic. He's definitely human, no one would ever create a machine with the flaws he has.

 
At 5/30/2008 10:59 AM, Blogger Jerry Vinokurov said...

Ok, if the metric is how fascinating a player is, I guess Kobe is pretty high up there. I guess my point is that lately, FD has been full of undiluted adulation for him rather than any serious attempt to delve into the abyss of Kobe's soul. From my perspective, Kobe is certainly worthy of analysis, but adulation, not so much.

Of course, I'm not trying to tell you guys what to write, and I really enjoy the things you do write. I'm just puzzled by how fiercely Shoals has been defending the New World Order as of late; that seems strange to me, for a blog that has a longstanding tradition of speaking out against The Way Things Are.

 
At 5/30/2008 11:39 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Actually, I personally haven't written much about Kobe or the Lakers this season. It was easy to think there was nothing to say—hence the need for this post. And if you want anguished soul-searching over what Kobe mean, there's three years of newly image-less archives that did that every other day.

And because I'm paranoid, I went back and looked at the last fix or six things I wrote, just to make sure I wasn't "defending the New World Order." In no particular order, they:

-Say why the Lakers, everyone knee-jerk establishment team, are actually subversive

-Say why I hate Kevin Garnett now

-Announce our weird book and make fun of someone in a rather petty fashion

-Bitch about that LeBron/Pierce game as underwhelming

-Something that occasioned this sentence: "Deron Williams is my playoff hero only because he's the one guy struggling mightily against the New Playoff Order."

-Wondered if Williams wasn't just as Paul-ian as Paul.

-Devoted several thousand words to reminiscing about my favorite band ever, only to spend a lot of it criticizing half their output.

Some of that is almost Slate-ian.

Anyway, my conscience is clear.

 
At 5/30/2008 11:43 AM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

Steve S,
The name is Rhett but thats alright. I'll answer to anything you call me.

To everyone,
I actually do like Kobe as well as I can like anyone I only see on TV. Strike that. I like LO better. I spent a half hour looking through the latest footage on the Lakers' site and watched LO's postgame, locker room interview. Forget that he was freshly showered and still sweating as if the 4th quarter had never ended, that man was fighting off expressing his joy with tears and said as much. He and the team feel blessed, rather then entitled.

If FD is liberated fandom then forget defining for anyone whose game they should enjoy. I don't give a crap that Posh Spice goes to Lakers games, Spike Lee to Knicks games or Alan Thicke to Raptors games. I'll eat any of Elvis' ring fingers before I let someone else' eyes define for me what I like. If Kobe doesn't entertain you then I don't know what else to say. That man's balling skills are about as high as any we've had the opportunity to watch. If you can't separate that from any of the other reasons people are fascinated by him then I guess you'll just have to miss out on enjoying this great career.

 
At 5/30/2008 11:47 AM, Blogger ItTakesAThiefToCatchAThief said...

I feel like the animals in Animal Farm right now - and yeah, I could throw out Lenin and Trotsky and the actual revolution, but I like talking animals and Orwell is the Godfather, so let's leave it here.

I've been taught all these out-there ideas about liberation and fandom and ignoring the status quo and ignoring the mainstream and ignoring conventional wisdom - only to find out that the people who taught these things to me are no better than my former teachers. Shoals, Recluse - you eat with the humans and you walk on two legs.

You're gonna try and preach the virtues of Kobe? He is the Petulant Prince. He is the Anti-Christ of basketball. If Bynum had not showed up for a half the year, Kobe's in Chicago - how FD would he be then? And the Lakers team as it is now is pretty much the Wade/Heat - one superstar, a bunch of guys who can kinda shoot, and a big guy down low who is sort-of good and sort-of unreliable. There's nothing revolutionary about this team, there's nothing New about them. The Triangle disappears and it turns into 1 on 5 in the last minutes. Sasha is a girl's name. Turiaf dances. This is the apex of the revolution, really?

And on the Otherside, we've got sacrifice, relentless determination in the face of weariness, a team that breaks hearts one game and saves souls the next. A team with Jesus Shuttlesworth. A team with the Truth. A team with KG. No one hates Boston more than a Minnesota man, but to hate this team is to truly hate basketball.

But I'm supposed to sit here and read about how great the Lakers are? What the fuck man, is this ESPN? To say Kobe is the establishment is taking it lightly - The Establishment is running a concerted, expensive, and expansive propaganda campaign to rehabilitate Kobe's image, and ya'll fell for it. Greatest player in the game? Hands down. Best closer in the game? Duh. Petulant Prince who wants the world to bow to him, and the motherfucker ain't even pulled the sword out of the stone yet? That's him, and I bow to no one.

Which brings me back to my original point - I am a chicken, possibly a mouse, on the Animal Farm, peering through the window to see my leaders eating with the Humans and walking on two legs.

You've betrayed the cause.

 
At 5/30/2008 12:09 PM, Blogger Jerry Vinokurov said...

As a speaker of a Slavic language, I feel compelled to point out that "Sasha" is most likely an abbreviation of "Alexander" and is equally likely to be a male as a female name in Serbia.

But other than that, yeah, Thief has kind of summed up my feelings about Kobe (though I'm not ready to jump into the Animal Farm metaphor). Again, I can appreciate him on a purely aesthetic level, but unlike literature, I can't separate his game from his personality; when I read Pushkin, I don't care that he was an asshole and a womanizer, but when I watch Kobe play, I can't leave his off-court behavior behind. Maybe that's just my version of liberated fandom, but I can't find it in myself to give him a pass. I can appreciate him, but I can't in good conscience want him to succeed.

 
At 5/30/2008 12:17 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

What "off-court behavior" are you talking about? Colorado or something more than that?

Not saying that's not relevant or important, just wondering what you mean by that phrase.

 
At 5/30/2008 12:24 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Allow me to reiterate: I've been jocking Kobe since this site started. Same with Odom. And I alwaya hated the triangle until now.

Sorry if you're picking this one player you can't stand as the last stand of all this site stands for. Especially since, as the Recluse points it, what it stands for is nebulous, and has included Kobe from day one.

And if you can't tell the difference between what I'm saying about the Lakers and ESPN, and are just fixated are the more fact of praising the Lakers, that's pretty weak.

 
At 5/30/2008 12:32 PM, Blogger Jerry Vinokurov said...

Recluse, Deadspin has one example.

Colorado sounds bad, but I honestly prefer not to dwell on it, because those things have a habit of turning into "he said-she said" and I just don't want to go there. The above link bothers me greatly though, because it encapsulates perfectly this mixture of entitlement and sociopathic obsession that defines Bryant. If he were a lawyer, you know that he would have climbed a mountain of bodies to make partner and then at the end of the day, he would yell at his secretary for bringing him the wrong flavor of coffee.

 
At 5/30/2008 12:38 PM, Blogger ItTakesAThiefToCatchAThief said...

Pretty weak was your explanations for hating the Celtics. Pretty weak was your explanations for loving Kobe.

This has nothing to do with Colorado. Colorado was just further proof most white girls don't like it in the butt, even though they're so slutty they should, but for some reason the butt turns them off, but you're such a whore baby, come on, lemme put it in your - fuck, cops.

This has to do with Kobe telling his golden goose to fuck off. This has to do with Kobe shutting down in a Game 7 his team could've won. This has to do with Kobe thinking broken-down Jason Kidd with no J was more of a savior than a budding Bynum.

Kobe Bryant is Basketball's Anti-Christ; seemingly the best, seemingly awe-inspiring, baring all these gifts, but will ultimately be the end of times. To like Kobe, to praise Kobe, is literally Sacreligious. I can't spell.

Jocking Kobe's game is one thing; that is something to jock. This, that, and this and everything else under the sun, the man can do. His game is transcendent.

It's unfortunate that his game was paired with Him, because he is a black mamba, a Snake.

And yes, it's a freeflowing thing what FD means. And the very definition of whatever FD means allows someone to jock Kobe and the Kobettes - which they still are, make no mistake, this is not a team.

Doesn't mean you should jock him, though.

 
At 5/30/2008 12:46 PM, Blogger Mother Father Chinese Dentist said...

i think the bigger picture here is not whether we approve or not of kobe and his petulant what-have-you. the fact remains that the lakers are the most fascinating of the four teams that were remaining in the playoffs at the time of this post, and easily the team most worthy of analysis. the fact that this discussion is on day two is testament to that.

 
At 5/30/2008 12:48 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Your comments section-itis is a little out of control. This isn't Vietnam.

I personally salute the Anti-Christ. I don't think I've said anything in the last few months about why I find Kobe fascinating, but if you don't see what's compelling about him (evil aside), like I said, I did plenty of it in the past. When there was much more grist for it.

And I'm sorry, but these Celtics have had exactly one quarter where they looked like the team I was stoked about watching last summer. Boston is part of the problem, sure, but to say we're seeing these three stars at the peak of their games just isn't something I can relate to.

 
At 5/30/2008 1:22 PM, Blogger ItTakesAThiefToCatchAThief said...

Who said we're seeing the three at their peak? We're obviously not, and that's what makes it so "Fascinating" .

Kobe's a rich kid. He played tennis at the country club, with his friends Tyler and Kyle.

But Meh. I just thought the timing of your post, and subsequent replies, was Interesting.

 
At 5/30/2008 1:28 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Allow me to add that I love Kobe, and not just for the back-to-back fantasy titles that he has delivered me. I love his glibness, how he praised Kirilenko for shutting him down when his back was hurting but all the while there was a glint in his eye as in, I'm gonna put it in his ass next time. Then the following day Kobe said the silverback would be back. I just wish the league would notice R. Brewer's aura too. I guess loving Kobe makes me a self-hating Jazz fan.

 
At 5/30/2008 1:53 PM, Blogger Jerry Vinokurov said...

Actually, I find the Boston narrative arc compelling, although I can't not admit that some of this is surely a result of my currently residing in the Northeast. But the Celtics' storyline plays out like some sort of Greek tragedy, the Iliad meets Oedipus Rex (or maybe the quest for the Golden Fleece). Three heroes from remote lands (East, West, and Center) unite in a quest to obtain the ultimate treasure. Their departure from the city gates is greeted with cheers from the citizens of the polis, while the rest of the nation alternates between watching in anticipation and mocking them. Over the course of their journey, they defeat a multitude of monsters, including the dreaded Sphinx of the Texas Triangle, and reach, clad in gleaming armor and up to their elbows in blood, the edge of the Playoff Forrest. There, inexplicably, against a beast they've easily dispatched before, they stumble; their hubris overtakes them and the gods punish them mightily, going so far as to strip one of them of his weapons. Nevertheless, our heroes prevail, not once but twice, while the populace jeers their image and faith is lost. At the last stage, they encounter an equally skilled group of warriors and lock swords with them on a bridge across an infinite chasm, into which the loser of the clash will be thrown. And now they stand ready to deliver the killing blow, but do the Pistons have another trick left? The ambiguity is fascinating: will the Celtics overcome their obvious deficiencies and triumph? And if they do, can they vanquish the Lakers and lay their hands on the Holy Grail, with Doc Rivers playing the part of a bumbling King Arthur, or will they be cast down into the depths of the abyss, forever remembered in the same breath as the 2007 Mavericks? Nobody knows, and the suspense is what makes watching Boston worthwhile, rather than their play in and of itself.

 
At 5/30/2008 2:06 PM, Blogger mdesus said...

if you wanted to show someone who had never known about the existence of professional sports what FDness means showing them this comment string would do the job. It's not just liberated fandom, and a love for the absurd/abstract, but high intelligence handling the corporeal through an intellectual filter. This shit is a sieve for all that is bizarro about the NBA fan base. How so many highly educated (obvious) folks get so much out of something so basic is interesting as hell

 
At 5/30/2008 2:12 PM, Blogger Rocco Chappelle said...

I don't know about Iliad x Oedipus Rex. The Celtics story feels more like The Best of Times x Little Giants.

Eddie House is the “Annexation of Puerto Rico”

 
At 5/30/2008 2:16 PM, Blogger vidalias said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5/30/2008 2:18 PM, Blogger vidalias said...

I realize I'm pretty late to the party, but for all this Kobe as evil, cyborg, dictator talk, on a certain level Kobe's style of play gives a lot more freedom to the players surrounding him than Chris Paul or Steve Nash's, in the sense that Kobe doesn't dominate the ball like Chris Paul or Steve Nash do. Kobe takes 20-30 shots a night and he's laker's main offensive threat, but the offense doesn't necessarily need to be run through Kobe (if that makes any sense). Kobe obviously plays a major role in the offense, but it's not uncommon to see Gasol initiate the offense from the high post; other times it'll be Fisher. Odom also gets into the mix on occasion. Because the Hornets run the vast majority of their plays through Chris Paul, Chris Paul has far more control over how his teammates play than Kobe does. Consequentially, the Hornet's role players have much more defined roles than the Laker's. The end result is that D-West shoots mostly mid-range jumpers, Peja shoots 3s, Chandler goes up for ally-oops. If any one of these players isn't where there supposed to be they don't get the ball.
I dunno, if you really wanna carry the metaphor further division of labor leads to social stratification... Because there is no great distributor on the Lakers, most of the Laker's role players are weirdly self-sufficient. Ronny Turiaf randomly has a mid-range game. Luke Walton shoots threes, attempts needlessly elaborate passes, and on more than one occasion, last night, led the fast break. Farmar can get into lane. Vujacic is, well, Vujacic. The reason why, in my opinion, the Lakers are the most exciting/beautiful team since the Suns of old is because of how underratedly indiosyncratic and versatile the Laker's supporting cast is.

One last thought:
I think the FD community has trouble embracing the Lakers, in part, because they are on the verge of winning the nba finals. I think we all have pre-conceived notions of what it takes to win a championship (defense, role players with well defined roles, a good center, pure point-guard) and when a team gets close to winning a championship we have the tendency to impose these views on the team regardless of how they really play. And I'm not just talking about the FD community, this is true of the main-stream media as well.

 
At 5/30/2008 2:26 PM, Blogger Jerry Vinokurov said...

Rocco, I picked the Iliad (and parenthetically the Argonautica) for its assemblage of disparate parts for a common purpose, and Oedipus as an example of mortal hubris. I think both of those frames fit Boston rather nicely; it remains to see whether Ray Allen spends 20 years wandering the sees in an attempt to return home. KG, by the way, is Ajax.

 
At 5/30/2008 3:14 PM, Blogger Steve S. said...

vidalias:

"I dunno, if you really wanna carry the metaphor further division of labor leads to social stratification... Because there is no great distributor on the Lakers, most of the Laker's role players are weirdly self-sufficient."

Thank you for saying this, I've been trying to express it for weeks. This is why I think the Lakers, and the triangle in general, are something special. The Lakers' roster has two players who are called "Point Guards" in Fisher and Sasha, yet Kobe, Sasha, Odom, and Walton can all bring the ball up the court and initiate the offense. In activist groups organizing along non-hierarchical or anti-authoritarian principals, this is called having a "rotating facilitator", and is a built-in process check to both keep power in the group equally distributed, but also enable and empower multiple people in the group to lead meetings, and take a larger part in the group, helping it remain more sustainable. The triangle offense even calls the player who initiates the offense their "facilitator". They've even appropriated our terminology!

 
At 5/30/2008 3:16 PM, Blogger Steve S. said...

oops, I meant to say "two point guards in Fisher and Farmar".

Carry on.

 
At 5/30/2008 3:17 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

I wish metaphors were illegal.

 
At 5/30/2008 3:29 PM, Blogger big m said...

Vanessa is WAY more FD than Kobe.

There, I said it

 
At 5/30/2008 4:45 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Lately, Brown Recluse has been a bummer in the comments.

 
At 5/30/2008 5:59 PM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

Steve S.,
Can I watch the meetings when the group's mongoloid is facilitator? I'll bring the fair-trade popcorn.

 
At 5/30/2008 5:59 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

Amazingly, I'm even worse in real life.

Bill Simmons basically addresses all of the issues from the past two posts in today's column (minus the intellectual posturing). The man still knows the NBA, even though there is a forced Grand Theft Auto reference.

Relevant bits:

"Nobody is beating the Lakers this season. Not Boston, not Detroit, not anybody. They have the best team, the best player and a Hall of Fame coach. It's really that simple."

"[T]he refs handed them Game 4 by not giving Brent Barry a call that Kobe would have gotten 100 times out of 100. Whatever." (emphasis added)

"The way Kobe singlehandedly assassinated the Spurs in Games 1 and 5 was something we've only seen from a handful of players in NBA history. You can't say enough about it. He has become the player we always wanted him to be.

And honestly, it's one of the biggest reasons why I love basketball so much. Of all the team sports, it's the only one in which a single player can impose his will on a game, a series or even in some cases, an entire season."

 
At 5/30/2008 6:49 PM, Blogger Keprotica said...

Good call on First Meditations over Meditations. It's not as wild and not as edgy, but it's pertnear perfect. Of the late-late-late stuff, though, Stellar Regions is also worth a listen.

But whatever. This isn't a music conversation.

 
At 5/31/2008 11:51 PM, Blogger astrobob said...

If I were forced to write this Laker's teams, this season's turbulence, as a caption onto a certain 'trane record, I would choose another (less often listened to) album-- Ascension. Strangely it represents to me my budding curiosity with jazz, as it was the first album I bought and the one I cut my teeth on. It took several listens before I understood anything that was happening: the asymmetry, its divergent thematic elements, its composition, the shared voices and participation/improvisation of every member in the band, and the coalesced, gained beauty of hearing that cumbersome, frantic, and finally magnetic sound coming out of my speakers.

I hate this analogy because it is the definition of inaccessible--free jazz, late in Coltrane's career, played with a number of new or previously insignificant players; but maybe that is why this analogy is perfect. The Lakers, and especially Kobe Bryant, are forever inaccessible to many basketball fans, regardless of their attention to the game. The same binary applies to free jazz, there are those who choose its revolution and those who choose to never understand or accept it.

Ascension remains as a fulcrum for Coltrane's career. More so than before, he turned his back on other mediums of expression and ascended into his final experiment. Ascension also defines this years Lakers. In 1965 'trane responded to the environment he found his people in, preceding all the riots: licks of frustration, anger, meditation, sedation, and hubris. His album consists of seven (or eleven?) musicians with all sorts of experience and skills. Each gets their own moment in the sun, an equal and important share of the record.

So are the Lakers, working together this season through all sorts of the aforementioned feelings. Hubris might define Bryant, but there is an equal share of meditation, sedation, frustration, and anger. He is human, after all- not Duncanbot.

If I may stray from my analogy for a moment. Kobe can be a little, obnoxious prat sometimes. If I were to make a guess-call it educated, if you will-we are ALL obnoxious prats sometimes. But I gather that we are all working on fixing that to some degree. I know I am. Life is a process of fixing that and this and that. And if I were to make a guess-call it, again, educated- Kobe is probably working on it too. I will end this diversion...

The Lakers are rife full of these improvisers all trying this new system (the triangle), all with varying degrees of success, and all facilitated through the experienced front-men, Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson.

The length of Ascension (second version, new release) stretches an impeccable and cumbersome 40:30, what this Laker season has been for me, a weathered fan. Ironically, 40:30 is about how long it takes before the Lakers can scrap themselves together as a team and work out their identity. It isn't until the last 7:30 of a game that we know their identity, either. It isn't until the last half of the forth quarter that I remember why I'm a Laker fan or that this team can play together (and play through any other team that 'has it together'). Take it or leave it, these Lakers are ascending (forgive my ad nauseam) to the Finals, and, more than likely, a June parade.

Word is BOND, Deboer. Peace

 
At 6/01/2008 5:41 AM, Blogger sportjunky said...

"...Even now, every little challenge matters to Bryant. Here he is at the end of a practice last week. Each Laker has to take a free throw. Everybody hits his except Bryant, who rims one out. The only shooter left is Derek Fisher, who shot 88.3% from the line this season. Bryant stands to the side of the basket, fidgeting. As Fisher's shot arcs toward the rim, Bryant suddenly takes two quick steps and leaps to goaltend the attempt. "Of course," forward Lamar Odom says later, "he couldn't be the only one to miss."

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/chris_ballard/05/27/kobe0602/index.html

 

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