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.