My Big Error

Okay, I finally get why Deron Williams has it in for Chris Paul. That rivalry not about draft proximity, or proving that his game is every bit as praiseworthy as Paul's wizardry. Over these last two games, I've come to realize what a scalding bad-ass Williams is. He's not just a big PG, or a guy who makes a good first pass, or a meat-and-potatoes offensive cog in Sloan's new machine.

Williams is positively Paul-ian. He's got that Jordan-esque, Kobe-esque indignation and will to destroy that people jock so hard in Paul. When he's pissed, or increasingly, whenever he decides the game belongs to him, Williams does shit on offense that's every bit as phenomenal as CP3's streaking drives. As a passer, too, he gets more and more brazen as these playoffs go on, making plays with little or no regard to the logical order of that line-up.

The bottom line of it is not that Williams detests being second best, though that's part of it. He also can't stand that Paul's seen as a transcendent talent, while because of his size and system he's denied that superstar aura. For too long, Williams was seen as having a natural advantage over Paul, and also inhabiting a controlled situation that supposedly played to his strengths.

He had it better, and yet was best when limited. No more, no more. Williams seems to be moving faster, feeling more, and going for the jugular now, like he's out to prove that Paul's not the only one on the fast track to immortality. I joked about this on Deadspin, but now I'm convinced it's for real.

It's almost enough to make me want to see Hornets/Jazz in the next round, even though, on a sentimental level, I'd prefer to see Kobe and Odom advance.

A few other things:

-Maybe more on this later in the week, but we can stop worrying about how D'Antoni works in New York right now. He's far too valuable, and prestigious, a resource to burn through and offer up for easy sacrifice like head coaches usually are. It'll be at least two years before a team to D'Antoni's liking is in place there, and Walsh wouldn't have made this investment if he didn't plan to wait out this uneasy period.

There might be purges, or stretches of fitful rebuilding, or just plain flawed attempts to make something out of dross. Regardless, though, the New York media and fans won't get to exert their usual pressure here. I know that supposedly D'Antoni is too mild-mannered for NYC, but I prefer to think he's just enough of an outsider to be above it all. He doesn't give a fuck, and will bide his time until he puts together the army he wants.

-Not expecting anyone to sympathize with this, but it's funny how much of these playoffs I spend praying nothing will happen to fuck up the book. McGrady somewhat renouncing the mantle of tragedy threw me off, even if that's still the major story of his career and life. Dr. LIC just emailed me worried that Odom could become a internationally acclaimed playoff hero. It's weird because, while I'd love to have seen T-Mac advance this season, or the Hawks win the series, or have Odom carry the Lakers while Kobe's injured, it would directly fuck up the product our future's riding on.

-I sort of anticipate Kobe's play today to come under scrutiny. By the end, he was moving slow enough that I could've stayed with him; seemed like he was getting worse all along and adjusting accordingly, but after that fall in fourth, there was a huge drop-off that he only really came to terms with on that stumbling baby-hook drive. There were about three possessions late that probably should've centered around Odom or Fisher (okay, maybe not Fisher).

I will say this, though: At this point, criticizing Kobe isn't a descent into utter bedlam. It might even be possible for Jackson to catch some responsibility. That's a powerful statement about how far the MVP has come this season.

-That was the best game of the post-season. The Hawks wins were special to me and my service to the devil, the 2OT Spurs/Suns had a quaint, happily accidental charm to it. Chris Paul on a rampage has been revelatory, even for someone who did watch him all year. But this game, and the preceding Jazz/Lakers, have been a series a well-played, dramatic movements and stars playing like that. And no bullshit role player glorification. Ronnie Brewer is a man. Ronnie Price, too.

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At 5/11/2008 9:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Williams reguarly kills Paul when the two teams play. He is bigger and stronger and just about as fast. He plays in a system that doesn't need him to do all kinds of individual stuff, though, so he doesn't get the highlight film clips. He's not a highlight film type of player either. That's why the jazz drafted him over Paul. He fits their system better.

At 5/11/2008 9:53 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I know he regularly kills him. Hence "has it in for Paul."

And the whole point of what I wrote was to say that, yeah, I know you're conventional wisdom, but shit is changing.

At 5/11/2008 10:06 PM, Blogger guntalk said...

kobe's performance in overtime deserves scrutiny. not solely to criticize him, but to staple a label on his back. this is who kobe bryant is and who he will always be. even when saddled with an aching back and the coldest hand since mr. freese, the heroics of lamar and fisher meant nothing to him. there was never a flickering moment of self-doubt where he considered that another player could possibly win the game for the lakers besides him. a relapse into selfishness? more like an unfiltered, definitive baring of a megalomaniac's soul on the hardwood. right down to the time capsule playoff airball.

At 5/11/2008 10:15 PM, Blogger Brian Burke said...

Chris Paul's kind of a dick, huh? It's not so much that the stray elbows and mouth-shots have come purely out of frustration. That nut-punch in college doesn't seem so much like an expression of competitive spirit overtaking good sense any more. Dumbo is violent.

At 5/11/2008 10:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shoals: I wan't criticizing your post, I was adding more info. And I don't gett your last sentence. If my conventional wisdom is that Williams is the equal to Paul, then what is changing? Now the unconventional wisdom is getting behind him?

guntalk: I think you're right. That is who Kobe has always been. He always takes a lot of really bad shots at the end of close games, but enough go in that it's worth it for him to keep shooting. But it can kill you in certain games, like tonight, where the Lakers would have been a lot better off in the series if Kobe would have shared the ball more. I always thought he was better when the Lakers had a lead but the other team was coming back. He's pretty successfull at sticking the knife in to crush the other teams momentum. More like Mr. Third Quarter.

At 5/11/2008 10:47 PM, Blogger Kobe said...

I'm a huge Lakers fan, but the blame of this square goes on Kibe. He was playing excellent in the 4th despite his injured back (remember his and-1 to bring the Lakers within 2?), but somewhere down the stretch, he started to falter. I remember after AK blocked his layup attempt, I would realize if Kobe's ego would get the best of him on the next play or not. And it did. Kobe, reverting back to his old self, jacked up a contested 3 point shot over Kirilenko to try and tie the game, only to meet iron on his shot.

Funny thing is, Kobe looked like he was purposely sabatoging the game for the Lakers in the overtime. Obviously, he wouldn't actually do that, but everytime he caught that ball, he wasn't looking to pass, for some strange reason. It's okay to take one or two ill-advised shots but almost ALL of his shots were horrible. And why would you continue forcing threes when you have a bad back, a tall defender on you and YOU KNOW you're cold? Just a stupid game all around by Kobe. Had he been healthy, I believe the outcome would have been different. But his head was out of the game as soon as he came back down to earth with his speed and AK could seal him out.

At 5/11/2008 10:49 PM, Blogger Kobe said...

To add, I think knowing that Kobe Bryant studies the history of the ganme, he wanted to pull of something legendary (i.e- HOBBLED KOBE GETS A TRIPLE DOUBLE WHILE THE LAKERS WIN!) in this game because he had the chance to, but he forgot that it was Fisher's threes and Odom's assertiveness that kept the Lakers in the game. I still remember him taking that last airballing three; I knew before the play even happened that he would jack up a forced shot. Just a horrible game by Bryant.

At 5/11/2008 11:04 PM, Blogger Brian Burke said...

I think it's fine to suggest that Kobe might have taken on a little bit too much responsibility in overtime... Nobody has the luxury of shooting until he finds his stroke at that point. But it's total nonsense to claim that he was trying to construct some kind of legendary narrative for himself. For one thing, even if "HOBBLED KOBE GOT A TRIP etc etc...," this was a second-round non-clinching game. He just tried a little too hard.

At 5/11/2008 11:04 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Your conventional wisdom is that he's different, but just as good. I'm saying, he doesn't see any reason why he should be Paul's bigger, simpler, older brother.

I like how people who have never commented before pop up when Kobe's the subject. I also think it's ridiculous that a few possessions can negate an entire season.

At 5/11/2008 11:11 PM, Blogger Kobe said...

Well, I might be wrong on the whole "trying to construct a narrative" but he wasn't much help to the Lakers either. PJ deserves much of the blame as well, as he should have told Kobe to defer to his teammates a little more than he chose to there.

"I like how people who have never commented before pop up when Kobe's the subject. I also think it's ridiculous that a few possessions can negate an entire season."

Actually, I just started reading your blog last week and I think your commentary is excellent. My post name is "Kobe" because I used an email I rarely use in order to post here. So no, I would have posted regardless.

Also, on the subject of D-Will. I haven't seen Paul play much to be honest, but I absolutely love Williams' game. He is big, he is solid and he seems to have an excellent sense of court awareness at all times. Paul is flashier and it's definetly trendy to hail him as the greatest right now, but there isn't much difference between them in my opinion. However, I'm simply basing that on the limited amount of games I've seen from Chris Paul. I just love D-Will's size and the way he plays the game. My favourite PG in the league right now, undoubtedly.

At 5/11/2008 11:30 PM, Blogger Tony said...

Kobe/Laker fan here.

Kobe was trying to have his MJ-flu game. Same opponent, different results. Funny how his back hurt only on defense, and that he'd collapse to the ground only after missing some wild shot. Tried to be MJ, ended up looking like T-Mac - no explosiveness, hiked up jumpers, guarded/locked down by AK-47. Man I hope his back comes back to him.

At 5/11/2008 11:31 PM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

Assuming his injury is manageable, the next game in Utah will be a huge indicator of just how much Kobe has genuinely grown. I wouldn't say that this game has negated his season but a series lost to Kobe's search for glory would certainly stain his trophy as much as Dirk's was by his receiving it after a first round exit.

At 5/11/2008 11:42 PM, Blogger guntalk said...

no one's saying a few possessions negate an entire season. but overtime in tonight's game was more indicative of who kobe actually is as a person than was anything he did in the dismantling of the nuggets or during the laker's rise to the top of the western conference.

in a moment of crisis, kobe again danced across the line that separates confidence from it's unseemly neighbors arrogance, stupidity and self-destructiveness. not to dredge up old news, but the second half of last year's game seven against phoenix bestowed us with a similar, if contextually different, incident. these episodes don't occur with other players, or at least not on such an overtly-visible scale.

as far as the "willis reed" theory, the idea that kobe isn't intently self-aware of his legacy seems pretty naive. isn't that where his fantastic "will to win" comes from?

zedfukbi: pulp fiction prequel.

At 5/11/2008 11:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Your conventional wisdom is that he's different, but just as good. I'm saying, he doesn't see any reason why he should be Paul's bigger, simpler, older brother."

OK. That makes sense. But, just out of curiosity, how do you know "can't stand that Paul's seen as a transcendent talent, while because of his size and system he's denied that superstar aura"? I haven't read anything where Williams complaining about his status. Maybe he doesn't care. Not everyone is Stephen Marbury.

Is this FD creating narrative, or is it sportswriter inside info, or am I just not spending enough time on the internet?

At 5/12/2008 12:08 AM, Blogger Blake said...

dude, shoals, the post was spot on. but jumping into the comments like this is kind of... i don't know. it's unbecoming of an alpha dog.

and i've commented before. just not memorably.

At 5/12/2008 2:43 AM, Blogger Andres said...

kobe wants to win. 99% of the time, that requires him to take many contested threes and drive for layups even when four guys are on him. he got the mvp this year because in that 1% of games where him doing it all isn't the best option, at least half the time, he realized it. tonight was just the other .5%. doesn't change a thing.

can we get a read on the jazz?? far more interesting at this point. the trade for korver and emergence of the ronnies has done something to them--it's like the emergence of quantum theory. they seek to be large, and contain multitudes. either nonlocality or reality (or both) break down and einsteins will be breaking their heads trying to figure out what.

in the other news, this spurs-hornets series is impossible to grip.

At 5/12/2008 4:29 AM, Blogger Jordan said...

Jejune Kobe-bluster aside (narrative sure is a fun word!), this game was lost because of 14 of 25 from the foul line and 39-16 in favor of Utah's bench. The latter, especially, was triggered by some bullshit calls on Fisher that forced Farmar onto the floor for long stretches. In addition to (predictably) being torched by Deron, Farmar has badly regressed as a shooter and decisionmaker in the last two or so months, with pretty devastating results for the second unit against solid reserves like Utah's.

Change those stats, and Kobe doesn't need to drag us back into it (5 assists in 5 minutes at the end of regulation) *or* lose it (1-7 in OT).

At 5/12/2008 4:47 AM, Blogger Jordan said...

Also, no offense, but what the hell does Whitman or quantum theory have to do with the Jazz? They're not impossible to grip at all--in fact, the only playoff team in the West with a more stable identity is the Spurs. They play a hybrid physical/uptempo game based around an unusually large, skilled, and athletic PG/PF pick and roll combination, and rely on a significant home court advantage and a nice mix of role players who are solid on both sides of the ball.

The trade for Korver and emergence of the Ronnies hasn't done "something" to them, it's given them very specific things. Korver adds a warm body that shoots 40% from three, Brewer is a competent rotation guy fast enough to stay with most NBA twos and who makes up for his disastrous jumper with good penetration, and Price actually gives Utah very little, today's ten decent minutes notwithstanding.

Would you ever post that comment anywhere but this board and expect it to just float by unnoticed?

At 5/12/2008 12:29 PM, Blogger Zac Soto said...

Why is everyone so quick to think that Kobe is the determinant in this series and not the stylistic clash? Deron Williams and Boozer, when allowed to play their brand of hard, "right way" (although Deron does some crazy things when penetrating) ball, look like they can manipulate the Lakers as easily as Kobe appears to manipulate the Jazz sometimes.

The weirdest thing about the Jazz is that I can't figure out how the euro twin towers (AK and Memo) fit into the system. They don't bang hard enough to play physical, and they don't seem to hit consistently enough from outside of the paint to be consistent outlets.

In short, Jerry Sloan is the less evil (though perhaps more emotionally abusive) Pop.

At 5/12/2008 12:58 PM, Blogger Andres said...


whitman because boozer and millsap and harpring belong on riley-era knicks teams and yet their center is on the floor as a 3-point specialist. they have furious deron williams and sleepy ak-47. they love to run and do the half-court pick-and-roll ad naseum. they broke jerry sloan.

also, my original post said, "like the spurs, they are large and contain multitudes," but i realized that was the spurs of a few years ago that would beat the suns up and down the floor in a 116-115 race and then pound it in to timmy for low post fesitivites and a 76-64 victory the next night. that is what these jazz are capable of (even if they haven't achieved it yet). the spurs had no identity.

quantum. bethlehem's post is about the repeatedly discussed possibility that williams is non-local: distant events have local effects. it appears that williams's momentum, spin, etc can be determined by determining paul's momentum, spin, etc. they seem entangled and have been since the draft collision. further testing is needed, as discussed above, to determine whether the apparent nonlocality can be confirmed.

they also challenge realism--it's not clear to me that they have any identity until they are observed. what were the jazz before we started watching them? everything and nothing, i think.

--Would you ever post that comment anywhere but this board and expect it to just float by unnoticed?

of course not. i asked a question. i hoped someone would respond.

At 5/12/2008 2:41 PM, Blogger 800# said...

@ Jordan:
After watching the Jazz a little too much this year, I have to disagree with you about Price, Brewer, and Korver.

Price: Did you see that pull up three at the end of the third quarter against the Rockets last series? Dude is badass. He and Williams have serious man-love going on, and I think they feed off each others swag. Williams lit up after that block yesterday.

Brewer: Top ten in the league in dunks.

Korver: There isn't a dry seat in the house when he checks in.

All together this three pack gives the team an unlikely personality. They're kind of sexy. I think they know that, and kindofsexyintheSLC is a total mind fuck. They have suddenly become more than the sum of their parts.

At 5/12/2008 2:42 PM, Blogger goathair said...

This post freaks me out for 2 reasons:

a) the comments.

b) I used a photo Shoals did? Bizarre.

At 5/12/2008 4:27 PM, Blogger Croz said...

I find it ironic that the Jazz have had such a stable identity for so long (Sloan glares, thinks about tractor repair while an awesome PG and bruising PF run the pick and roll), and yet they seem to give off an air of frission/subversiveness simply due to the fact that "Utah" and "Jazz" are such polar opposites, and in fact the merging of the two creates the kind of anti-identity referenced above in re:Spurs of the past few years.

At 5/12/2008 5:00 PM, Blogger Baumer said...

"Chris Paul's kind of a dick"

erroneous....he is totally one. Let me first say, CP3 is my favorite player, scintillating, titillating, etc etc. but, the dirtiness and the egregious flopping are the two parts of his game i despise. having watched him at every home game while he played at wake, there are so many more things you see him doing than the camera catches. The Julius Hodge crotch-shot...only the cherry on top, not a solo occurrence. My take is dude is so competitive, he is willing to do anything it takes to win. his Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde on/off court personas are a little bizarro, but that is exactly what he is. he didn't get called The Mayor of Winston-Salem by punching every man, woman, and child in the testicles...he's genuinely a very cool dude off the hardwood. [BTW, if you ever get the chance to stand next to him, he is definitely NOT 6 ft tall] and, c'mon, its not like he's the only guy poking and prodding outside the rules of the game. Unfortunately, as much as i love him, i wouldn't be surprised to see him one day usurping John Stockton as one of the dirtiest to play the game. and as for flopping...it takes two to tango, and those two being a flopper and a ref that bites on it. if nba execs don't change that aspect of it, how can you blame a player for taking advantages of a technicality within the confines of the rules? sure, its a bi*** move, and so spectator-unfriendly. i hate seeing it as much as the next guy, but until the refs stop calling it the players won't stop doing it.

as for DWill...i was nearly in tears after my Demon Deacons got their first #1 ranking in god knows how long...which lasted roughly 1 week when DW and Co torched us by 40 pts in a game that was so brutal, i thought there was going to be a FINISH HIM move at the final buzzer. you know how there's that one guy at the gym that just gives you fits every time, who's skillset is tailored to your specific weaknesses? I believe that DWill is CP3's foil...the Jeff Malone to his Michael Jordan. [i can't take credit for that last reference...read it somewhere recently. i think they said MJ wrote about it in his book, how JM continuously gave him a hard time from college to pros. if anyone can find an excerpt pertaining to this, i would love to see it]

a parting thought on the CP3 vs DWill debate: its funny how last year, everyone was all over DW/Utah and DW was the lead, and now the roles have reversed.

At 5/13/2008 10:37 AM, Blogger avery said...

...do you need the Spurs to win to not screw up the book?

At 5/13/2008 1:00 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Here's your link. It's from that obscure "TrueHoop" blog.

wv: lfogi Lamar fucking Odom goes insane.

At 5/14/2008 7:38 PM, Blogger Steve said...

All I know is I hate the Jazz, and Deron has begrudgingly become one of my favorite PG's, neigh players, in the league. (grammar?)

He's nearly up there with the others in quickness and overall PG skills, and then his strength sets him apart. Interesting that another strong stocky guy (Fisher) has done a pretty good job with him. Farmar on the other hand...it feels almost dirty watching DWill abuse him.

Some of the pieces in Utah don't seem to totally fit together, but they're pieces of value if they ever make trades. Williams/Boozer is not quite Stockton/Malone, but in those 2 they pretty much are set for the next few years. If they can figure out the Rubik's Cube of their supporting cast, they have enough to be a serious contender, they don't even need a miracle like Gasol to fall in their lap.


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