Career Suicide: The Dead Sea Scrolls

For the record, after Shoals took my post down last night, we had quite the screaming match on the phone. I said some things I probably shouldn't have as did he, and we both seemed to be attempting to revoke each others' FD membership. He didn't want me to put this out there, but at point he threatened to leave FD altogether and start his own blog. Obviously knowing that Free Darko would fold in his absence, I had to bribe him back into the fold by promising I would pay for his League Pass subscription next year. He thought that was ludicrous and declined, but I guilted him into at least letting me purchase him this Brother Ah record on eBay. The whole thing upset me so much though I couldn't sleep last night, so I put up my post again at 430 in the morning. When I woke up it was gone again and I knew that Shoals had again put the clamps on me. At this point I wrote a really incendiary and personal email to him. He sent it to the other members of the Free Darko high council and this morning it's been a real shitfest hashing things out. I guess the compromise is to release this version of the chat, below...

Also, for the record, I agree with Caleb Tyler Adam that it is selfish if I deny in any way the greatness of KG winning his championship. I am being completely selfish here, both in my KG bitterness and my angst over Boston, yet I am extremely about happy about KG winning his championship. And at the same time it doesn't mean I have some other thoughts about what KG has become as an individual (not just this year, but over the past three and a half years...). Upon re-watching the Tafoya Interview on Odenized this morning maybe my stance on contrivedness has softened, or maybe that interview is more just a poor piece of evidence to support the broader point of players playing into their narratives/caricatures.

Also, everyone please read THIS bit on KG before proceeding. And...Onward...

Bethlehem Shoals: First off, I think you're in crisis. That was like catharsis for the whole year of bullshit Garnett.
Dr. LIC: Yeah, you're probably right. But let me make my point again: KG is playing into the caricature that the media has created for him: "KG IS SO EMOTIONAL/INTENSE." Just like the whole "Duncan is boring" thing or "Bellichik is enigmatic" meme.
Brown Recluse, Esq.: I think I'm in the middle between Dr. LIC and Shoals on the KG "speech." Leaning more toward Dr. LIC.
Dr. LIC: The interesting thing about the KG speech is that there were parts of it that were real, but the parts that were fake are what everyone will eat up.
BS: The crying seemed real/scream was actually kind of dumb.
Dr. LIC: Yes! Exactly. We needed more crying.
BS: The Malik Sealy shoutout=real
Dr. LIC: Props to Tafoya=fake
Dr. LIC: And seriously, the fact that he didn't burst into tears way earlier in the night was indicative of his whole role in this series.
BS: Whatever, I think someone sticking a mic in your face in iconic fashion is what makes it real.
Dr. LIC: This may be egocentric, but I'm wondering if this championship was actually more about South Carolina/Chicago/Sealy/Minnesota than it was anything having to do with Boston. This is redemption for things in the past. That is real.
BS: Well, that's why I'm moved. Why else would he dwell on his old team?

BR: Maybe this part shouldn't go into the chat, but I think part of why I've tired of KG's shit is that makes him look kind of stupid. Like so reflective, he's unreflective.
BS: How is screaming reflective?
Dr. LIC: That's not the reflective part.
BS: You mean on the interviews?
BR: During the season, he'd just become that first John Thompson interview all the time. That interview was awesome, but seeing it over and over again, it doesn't feel as real

[The Recluse clarifies: "my take is that the KG/John Thompson was one of the greatest things ever, so great in fact that even KG himself allowed it to define who he was from then on. It's like when famous people talk about themselves in the third person in a legitimate way.]

Dr. LIC: I just got a text message: "time to put a straitjacket on kg"
BS: Are you going to deny a man his pain? Or do we really not care about KG?
Dr. LIC: What is KG's pain?
Dr. LIC: Malik Sealy, Stephon Marbury. That's his pain. Losing isn't his pain, that's his own fault. And Flip's.
BR: Losing is not pain. If that's his pain, it's shallow as fuck.
BS: So you're saying KG should know better. DLIC, I think you have a reservoir of feeling for KG few can understand. For you, the years of the max contract choker KG were salad days.

Dr. LIC: He lost so much because he scared the shit out of minnesota and never quite committed 100% to staying there forever. for all that "I'm 'Sota" talk, he was trying to be GM behind the scenes all the time...get Joe Smith signed, sign Troy Hudson, re-up Sam/Spree's contract (plus the max contract thing). And ultimately, they had to do what KG wanted.

All along he gave the air of "i'm just doing the best i can do....i love MN" but there was a lot of other shit going on.

BR: i still blame all of this on jordan. He fucked everything up for everyone.
Dr. LIC: Everything is fucked. I mean, we're at the point where Stu Scott is ELICITING the memory of Doc's dead father before Doc can even spontaneously give a dedication to him.
BR: Jordan again!
Dr. LIC: To me, KG's scream was so far from primal. It was literally like an Oscar speech. You keep it on hand just in case you win. But then the real KG crept out.
BR: I agree with that. The stuff after the scream and the shoutouts. The rest was raw emotion. The Bill Russell conversation was the best part.
BS: Weeping and saying "I'm certified" is really the opposite of screaming.
Dr. LIC: Look, my bottom line: the KG speech was part contrived/part real. He couldn't make a decision between the stuff he had "pseudo-memorized" to say and the spontaneity of the moment. We did see more spontaneity from him then we've gotten all year.
: but it's like, all of my minnesota friends have been cheering for the celtics. i guess that's liberated fandom at it's finest, but really? when you look at what kg did the last couple years he was in minnesota....i just feel like if it takes paul pierce AND ray allen AND kg AND the perfect aging stragglers who will flock to whichever team has the best chance for a ring...then that championship trophy is way less special then, um, say lebron winning a trophy with cleveland



Dr. LIC: also, it's funny how NON-representative i am of minnesota fans right now. people in mn are loving this.

BS: I'll edit this tactfully.
Dr. LIC: I'll expect to wake up to a bloodbath.

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At 6/18/2008 12:00 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

FYI, this is an edited version of the chat. But you get the point.

At 6/18/2008 12:03 PM, Blogger Brett said...

DLIC, I'm dying to read this (as I'm sure everyone else is.) How about posting it, um, elsewhere?

At 6/18/2008 12:16 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

To clarify again (maybe unnecessarily?), I kind of felt like KG was losing himself in the need to live up to this persona of super-intense guy eaten up by losing. Like, he couldn't just let it go and live his life if he continued to lose basketball games, which seems kind of insane.

At 6/18/2008 12:20 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Right, which I'd say goes to the "pain" point. What does it mean if we want to say "no really, the entirety of Garnett's being is bound up in winning and losing games, but if you don't respect that, you're dehumanizing him."

At 6/18/2008 12:22 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

As the internal debate rages, DLIC directs my attention to this Deadspin piece of his from the pre-season.

At 6/18/2008 12:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TD Banknorth Garden = Uncle KG's Cabin

At 6/18/2008 12:31 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

@scaevola: that's not what any of us are saying at all, but if that's what you feel, care to explain further what you mean by that?

@Shoals: see, I don't think KG really *is* consumed by winning and losing games. I think he thinks that's how he's *supposed* to be, which is my point about Jordan. He made it so that people think you're not a real superstar if you're not absolutely consumed by competition.

Obviously, Barkley still thinks about his missed opportunities at a championship, but it's not like it weighs on him in every thing he does or says.

At 6/18/2008 12:32 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

BR, I'm agreeing with you. I was preempting the accusations of "oh, you're insensitive about how much it means to him, it's his whole life, you don't really care about KG, the person".

At 6/18/2008 12:48 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Hey everyone, I'll be on BDL with Skeets and Kelly at 1 EST, if you want to quiz me about our internal strife.

At 6/18/2008 12:51 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

On a basketball-related note, Radmanovic is a bad basketball player.

At 6/18/2008 1:05 PM, Blogger Brendan K. said...

In my eagerness to join this fray, I might not be totally into the rhythym of the conversation yet. Forgive me if I'm mising any major points entirely.

If we're talking about KG's inherent nature, I think benefit of the doubt goes to the guy who finally gets over the hump to win. There is some (okay, a whole fucking lot) of distaste in this for me, being a lifelong Laker fan and wanting to see the redemptive promise of a championship come to Kobe/Odom and to a lesser extent Pau, but I get that each player gets his season. Turn turn turn.

If this is about the media's playing KG's on-court persona into a wholly hatable and classless manifestation of "pure passion" (or whatever) I agree. Every player wants to win, and just because KG now gets to be so into the moment on good team in a large market isn't some big revelation, inducting the masses into true fandom or making me want to buy shoes or anything. I'm totally willing to dismiss advertisers' take ("KG's Intensity's wardrobe by Addidas") for a closer look KG and what the championship really means to him and us, as overdedicated followers of the game.

But really, isn't this mostly a criticism of KG's own possible contrivences to serrve the media's ends? So yeah, it sucks, I totally agree. KG in Boston (and especially in the Finals, but really in earnest since right about when the KG/Russell interview started airing every 3rd break) was the leveee breaking and the crassness of promotion taking reign, even seemingly within the man himself. While not every moment felt totally manufacted, obviously, his antics at the mic now feel wholly anathema to the... I guess more "organic" sponteneity of what came from others before him. Sure, I'll blame Jordan too, for making that shit so marketable. But can't we just look at Paul Pierce as a guy who has suffered for a franchise and say, "Yeah, THAT feels right..." And then don't we have to feel something's amiss with this Garnett?

At 6/18/2008 1:10 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...


"But can't we just look at Paul Pierce as a guy who has suffered for a franchise and say, "Yeah, THAT feels right..."

At 6/18/2008 1:39 PM, Blogger FunWithLogic said...

Is there a way to successfully separate KG's identity as a person, player, team-player, sufferer/artist?

When he constantly said throughout the season that this was PP's team, I first thought he was being humble, but maybe he really meant that PP was Boston, and KG was along for the ride; KG had become a missionary the moment he left his home (or at least a more obvious one). The conflict comes in that he has his identity that he will show regardless of where is is playing, which muddles what we have constructed as his identity over the years in MN.

Also, let's not forget that he did not carry the Celtics through the playoffs, which would have been pure vindication. He still is what he is, which is why he needs to throw cheap screens and use the word "certified" like he unexpectedly passed the BAR. "Certified" does not equate to "champion" when you are one of the greatest players. It means you are judged less socially and can get to sleep at night. Certified means legit on the basis of objective standards.

At 6/18/2008 1:41 PM, Blogger ItTakesAThiefToCatchAThief said...

I was there when Laettner was the messiah. I was there when J.R. was a rider on the storm, and the Riflemen shot people between the eyes, and Michael Williams free throw streak was the best thing the Wolves had going. I was there, too, DLIC. And I know what you're thinking - It should've been ours.

But fuck - thems the breaks.

KG is 100% P.U.R.E., DLIC. Ain't nothing contrived, ain't nothing fake about him.

But I know what you're thinking...that should've happened on the Target Center.

At 6/18/2008 1:53 PM, Blogger haters be gone said...

It's sad how you guys have actually become completely unFD.

Maybe like a 1-and-done champion, there is no passion now that your book is finished.

Since when is being bitter about everything FD?

Also maybe it would help if it was admitted out loud that your closet Lakers fans. That's almost worse than being a Yankees or Red Sox bandwagoner.

A catalyst for change needs to be found, because at the current rate of self-destruction you're not going to have many fans left next season let alone next week.

At 6/18/2008 2:00 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

I refer you to the aforementioned deadspin article to ensure you that I've always felt this way.

Or perhaps Brickowski's quote from a couple weeks ago that "summer doesn't truly begin until Shoals has soured on the Playoffs"

FD has been bitter way before a book deal.

But we're also probably the biggest fucking NBA fans you know.

At 6/18/2008 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there's nothing pure about KG anymore. it would've been one thing for him to carry this team, but punking out in the playoffs and picking up a ring as a better than average contributor for The Borg doesn't build legacy, it burns it. these Finals were the most cryptic and unnerving culmination of fascist politics in my lifetime. between the referee 'issue' that just won't (and shouldn't) die, the happenstance trades of convenience (just friends helping friends, right???) that enabled Boston and L.A. to play into June, and ABC's gifted/'magical' story lines (see, the miracle knee of Paul Pierce) this whole thing just wreaks foul.

(speaking of pierce, gotta be the first Finals MVP to ever rep Piru in front of a national TV audience, right?)

At 6/18/2008 2:26 PM, Blogger trouc said...

Sometimes in life, you don't understand something, and on that thing you should remain silent.

This is one of those things.

Wait three months, and see if you still want to have this conversation.

At 6/18/2008 2:29 PM, Blogger Hallamore said...

I'm not sure. I think you guys sharing this conversation actually makes me feel a little better about the world. One single reason.

At 6/18/2008 2:44 PM, Blogger haters be gone said...

In the same way that KG tries to fulfill the portrait the media has set for him, FD is trying so hard to be FD that it seems rehearsed and bland.

Twolves KG = old FD
Celtics KG = new FD

"But we're also probably the biggest fucking NBA fans you know."

Well I don't actually know you, so I'm just going to say that the guys who are fans of a team because their father and father's father were and have been going to every game for the past x amount of decades barring a wedding/funeral are far bigger fans IMO.

While that may be a shitty way to construct a political point of view, basketball is a game that is supposed to be fun and tradition makes it even better.

At 6/18/2008 2:48 PM, Blogger Z said...

Maybe I'm the only one, but I thought some of Paul Pierce's post game interviews seemed contrived as well.

"God sent this angel down, and the angel said, 'Hey, you're going to be alright.'" You've got to be kidding me, those aren't true words, are they? Isn't he playing into what the media wants to hear too?

(By the way, I hope that after he gets an MRI it's revealed that Pierce played the whole series with a torn something. Any CL really; A, M, L.)

At 6/18/2008 2:50 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

hbg, your middle paragraph does make a lot of sense. and let's make no mistake, for all the liberated fandom talk, the timberwolves are my TEAM. liberated fandom just means that one doesn't necessarily HAVE to have a team to enjoy this isht.

as far as trying so hard to be FD, i think you are missing the fact that, um, shoals and i are in clear disagreement, so i don't know who is trying to be what.

At 6/18/2008 2:52 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

also, it seems a bit arrogant of me to assume that people even give a shit about what FD or liberated fandom means (even though a few people do). the more important thing here is that the kg issue is complex. fun with logic is on the right track in that we have to separate kg's identity into various components.

At 6/18/2008 2:55 PM, Blogger ~CW~ said...

Whether you love or hate Simmons, his point that sportswriters should try and make sports more fun is something I agree with. Once the Finals rolled around, for the first time since I started reading this site back in 05-06, it's made following the league significantly less fun.

I understand there are a lot of issues coming together, and I will continue to read because there's too much good here - in the posts and comments both - to abandon it, but maybe there just needs to be a giant FD vacation where everyone rests up after finishing the book and this monstrous season.

At 6/18/2008 2:57 PM, Blogger Joshua R said...

Man, I love the arrogance of someone, if that is the right word, who doesn't know a person at all, beyond interviews and random televised bits, judging what that person is like or what outburts by them are real or not. Or authentic or any of this. It should go without saying that you cannot know Kevin Garnett or Kobe Bryant or whomever, except tangentially via selected (by someone) glimpses. Judging him on this matter is more a revelation of the judge, less so than on the judged.

"Mickey Mantle don't care about
you. Why care about him?"

Perhaps I am being too judgmental; but it is a pet peeve of mine (the claiming to know another's soul and its content, whether they are real or authentic, whether they are contrived or showing real emotion, and so on, not the judging - I'm cool with that, as my post should show).

At 6/18/2008 3:02 PM, Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

@ Brown Recluse: It cheers me to hear you state this obvious fact.

My real question is this: How and why did FD and the rest of basketball expertdom buy into the hype about these Lakers. It all seems so obvious right now, sure, but many of us neutral parties (fans of neither the Lakers or the Celtics) have been pointing out for a long time that Boston is the better, more exciting, interesting, compelling, stylish, and dominant team. It was obvious to many that no team with Radmanovich in the starting five (and guys like Walton and Vujacich playing serious minutes) could possibly be exciting or thrilling or tons of fun to watch, never mind have a chance against the Celtics. I still just don't understand why FD collectively fell so in love with these Lakers, and I don't think we've heard a cogent explanation yet.

Yes, Kobe has been, in the past, Hitchockian, but his legacy and reputation just got pissed on this series, and fans who hold him up as the apex of basketball achievement need to do some thinking.

Sure, Jackson has won a bunch of titles. Is he truly the genius he's been made out to be? How do we explain his poor decisions in this series? What is the point of sticking with Radmanovich for so long? Why is Luke Walton on the floor? Chris Mimh? Where is the offensive flow? Does Jackson know how to get his players to play even passable defense? Or can he only win when he has Jordan and Pippen, Shaq and Kobe, etc. I think we have some strong evidence now for the Jackson detractors that always suspected he simply associated with the greatest players ever, rather than coaching them.

What is the big deal about Odom? The dude is a moron. His premature, idiotic tongue wagging confirmed this for me. He was unable to figure out any way to make himself effective in this series, and his reputation and credibility are likely permanently damaged. Ditto for Pau.

The more I think about it, the more it absolutely confounds me why FD-ville would be rooting so hard for these ridiculous Lakers in this matchup -- and let's be real, you guys were deep in the tank for Kobe and pals. I don't understand it, and I'm not sure you guys do either.

At 6/18/2008 3:06 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I'm in favor of celebrating Garnett's interview and title, but treating them like moral absolutes, or transcendent truths, is just weak. There are always ends with the means, and it's not like I spent the whole season entranced by the mighty Celtics and their return to glory. Plus, for god's sake, he shouted a corporate slogan. This is not a defining moment in my life as a fan.

And HBG, I don't really know what you're so steamed about, or why you think that us rejecting "the most FD moment ever" is us trying hard to live up to a pre-conceived image of ourselves. If anything, it was really stupid of us to keep writing so much on the blog while we were busy with the book. Or even after it was done, since I am fucking exhausted.

But I happen to be totally obsessed with the NBA, and absolutely incapable of looking away or keeping my mouth shut about it. I guess that's not the same as wearing the Knicks jersey my grandfather died in, or having a hard and fast doctrine that I always try and live by. But if either one of these things were the parameters of this site, it would've died a long time ago. And probably been a lot more boring along the way.

And for the record, I think the comments section was responsible for the spawning of FreeDarko (adj.)

At 6/18/2008 3:06 PM, Blogger haters be gone said...

Point taken. And I do agree with a lot of what you are saying. As I am also a wolves fan, the departure of KG has allowed me to see through the halo effect that has been placed upon him.

He will never be Kirby Puckett in my eyes.

I am happy for him that he got his ring though. Personally I would have rather seen Cavs-Hornets, but whatever.

At 6/18/2008 3:08 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

I predicted the Lakers would beat the Spurs, but I never said anywhere that I thought they'd beat the Celtics. I thought it could go either way, but it pretty quickly became apparent that the Celtics were the better team.

I was pulling for the Lakers because they're so ridiculous. As I've said before in these comments, the Celtics didn't really appeal to me because they didn't deviate from recent NBA trends of borderline dirty defense and mercenary veterans banding together for a late-career stab at a ring. But, don't confuse rooting for the Lakers as thinking they were the better team. That was never me.

At 6/18/2008 3:09 PM, Blogger Ken said...

I'm gonna pull back a little bit and say that my expectations for this entire playoffs were way too high.

The regular season was so engrossing and so many teams were so relevant and players were stating their cases so well that I wanted to just let it be over when Boston had the one in the East and the Lakers had the one in the West.

The Lakers advanced each round because their opponents were afraid of failing AND afraid of losing. The players on the Celtics were way past that level.

There will never be a regular season I remember more vividly than this past one.

There will never be a FD World Champion team. The playoffs are too grueling, too exposing, too debasing to allow swag, style and flow to reign supreme.

At 6/18/2008 3:09 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

OG--I still don't get why you've left so many comments about us (me, mostly) wanting the Lakers to win. This also goes to whomever said I was a "closet Lakers fan." I like Kobe. I like Odom. I like Odom and Gasol playing together. Turiaf and Ariza are rad. The Celtics bored the living fuck out of me this season and made me resent players I once worshipped. One team ran an elegant offense, the other won with defense.

What's so inscrutable or shameful about that? I know the Lakers got murdered, and yeah, this deads the ridiculous Kobe/MJ comparisons. None of that really upsets me or compromises whatever it is you think I stand for.

At 6/18/2008 3:13 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Joshua--That's funny, no one seems to have any problem saying that Kobe's constantly full of shit. It's like Garnett's beyond reproach, the opposite of every other pro athlete--he couldn't POSSIBLY fake it.

The off-season is for us to relax.

At 6/18/2008 3:20 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

Tradition makes everything, including the NBA, worse. It's a weight around the neck of fun.

It seems to me that Shoals and DLIC have been doing a lot of self-analysis over the last few weeks as they try to deal with some complex and conflicted thoughts and feelings about the Celtics, KG, PP, and Ray. Obviously, many of commenters don't have anything similar to deal with. But I've found it interesting and useful, and I think that these kinds of "crisis moments" help refine the ideas that this site is continuing to develop. Characterizing that process as "unFD" just seems weird to me.

And last night's gonzo play by the Celtics last night was interesting, but this morning, I'm still not seeing them what I had hoped to see when the trades went down last year. Maybe I just need more time. Maybe it's my (arguably un-liberated) dislike for Boston. Maybe it's them; maybe they really did give up too much of themselves when they self-admittedly sacrificed their games to win.

Further, I don't know what to make of those KG interviews. I couldn't tell what was memorized pro athlete BS and what was genuine, which oddly puts him into the "psychologically complex/fascinating like Kobe" category and takes him out of the "totally intense/fascinating like KG" column. Perhaps he seems somewhat diminished to me, though, because whereas in the past, his desire to win a championship seemed utterly linked to a desire to be and to demonstrate greatness, the whole Boston Experience has seemed like an exercise in obtaining external validation of effort. In other words, it went from being something entirely internal--with victory being an external manifestation of nature--to an effort to obtain a group-approved measure of success. And believe that I'm specifically differentiating in this case between success and greatness. I've been wondering for about a week whether KG sacrificed greatness for success.

At 6/18/2008 3:33 PM, Blogger Get said...

Shoals HAHA. Threatening to start your own blog over this shit? You throw up reactionary crap all the time, then when one of your esteemed cohorts attempts to do the same thing in the heat of a personal moment, you censor him twice and threaten to take your toys and go elsewhere? HIGH comedy. Shit seriously brought a chuckle to my face in an otherwise mundane work day.

At 6/18/2008 3:35 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Sorry to ruin your chuckle, but some of that was invented for dramatic effect.

At 6/18/2008 3:37 PM, Blogger haters be gone said...

Tradition is not fun when they categorize fundamentals and the "right way to play" as white and flashy play and getting arrested as black.

It also isn't fun when they immediately label KG, PP, and Ray as the Big Three and proceed to show 8 million old Celtics clips throughout the season.

Tradition is fun when in this day of the declining two-parent household and nonexistant talk around the dinner table, it allows children and parents to bond with a common interest even if they have nothing else in common.

Shit, I talked to my mom and she said she watched all of the Finals games because KG was playing. She doesn't even know who Lebron is.

At 6/18/2008 3:38 PM, Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

@ Brown Recluse: I guess it's just my inability to understand how anyone without a loyalty to either team looks at the two teams and decides that the Lakers are by far the more exciting and more interesting team.

But that's fine, I can accept that we'll see these two teams differently, and that just part of the problem of other minds.

@ Shoals: I'll leave fewer comments to bother you from hereon out. As to my unrelenting, harassing commenting, perhaps it's just that, despite your revised take on the series, your "fuck everyone" post still rankles, and I simply can't relate to your love of Kobe, and Odom & Pau. But that's admittedly my own problem, and I'll stop pressing the issue here with you all.

At 6/18/2008 3:38 PM, Blogger Sweat of Ewing said...

I submit to you all Document A, evidence from the case case Middle Age vs. Bill Simmons, LA, 2008:

"On the surface, Tuesday night was about reclaiming old territory, a little like Avon Barksdale getting released from prison and reclaiming the streets of Baltimore."

At 6/18/2008 3:55 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

Caveats: Simmons-bashing is already trite. Being a Boston Fan is his schtick. He has no credibility on issues of race, and one shouldn't look to him for insight there. Even with that said, it takes an impressively lack of self-reflectiveness to compare Boston to Avon Barksdale.

@ hater: I don't see what role tradition plays in your example supporting the argument that tradition can be fun.

At 6/18/2008 4:01 PM, Blogger Michael said...

The absolute best part of these playoffs has been watching this slow implosion of FD. I love this site, I love all the ideas advanced here, I hope this implosion doesn't kill the site or any of y'all, but (c'mon, surely you've thought of this!) the meta-level on which all of this is working is the most FD thing that I've ever seen. More so than LO, the '06 Warriors, anything. It's been amazing.

At 6/18/2008 4:02 PM, Blogger Martin said...

I think DLIC's grouchiness is rubbing off on me. My initial emotions were joy, I was happy to see KG finally get the to top. However, now with time having sobered my judgment, I have started to think a lot about KG statement "I'm Certified!".

Is KG really now Certified? I dont really think I can say so. KG never won on his terms. KG never overcame his metaphorical bullies (Anti-Clutchness), rather he hid behind PP's skirt and watched as PP vanquished his demons. I don't, I think to be truly Certified, one needs to win on their terms. That is probably why we are not yet ready to hear Kobe proclaim to be Certified, despite sporting a generously ring-laden hand. DWade is Certified- Kobe is not. Shaq in LA was Certified, in MIA, his certification was missing. The debate on what entails Certification, made me think of the one player I would have liked to see win a ring more than KG- AI. And I came to the sad realization AI will never be Certified. AI's chance came and went in 2001. Iverson will never win a champion as the team's mercurial 6ft shoot-guard who astoundingly accounts for close to 50% of his teams offense. AI had his chance at Certification, but lost. Winning for him now will have to come at the expense of style, it will be winning for the same of winning. It wont be winning playing AI basketball. Likewise, KG should have won it all by OVERCOMING his anti-clutch/choking demons. That would be undeniable Certification. Likewise, Kobe is still in hot pursuit of Certification- a championship that he can call his own, a victory that reflects stylistic and narrative elements of Kobe.

Certification is not about ball hogging or being the teams star. I think its about winning on your own terms. I consider Scottie Pipen to be highly Certified, there could have been no MJ without the SP33 and vice versa. MJ and Pipen share a symbiotic Certification, each cognizant of the burden shouldered by the other. This is where I get confused because- for me to acknowledge Garnett's Certification, I would have to acknowledge that KG basketball that I witnessed the past decade was fatally flawed. Lacking in a Pierce like super-star to complete the picture. That would mean that the KG I knew then is not who he was supposed to be and the KG I see now is who KG should have been all along.

At 6/18/2008 4:02 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

The Celtics are Avon? Does that make the Patriots Stringer and the Red Sox Marlo?

At 6/18/2008 4:08 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

one thing i just don't get:

i'm not gonna go through the archives, but doesn't this happen every year? i mean, i remember swearing off the playoffs last year and just throwing in the towel when the spurs beat the suns...and no one had a problem with that.

every year the playoffs are tough for fans of the league as a whole, and decidedly not the most interesting time for FD. simple fact: as the playoffs go on, that means less steve nash, chris paul, josh smith...not to mention once the playoffs beGIN it's less warriors, less bobcats, and less new york knicks hilarity.

At 6/18/2008 4:16 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

Excellent point, Dr. LIC. For example, in the pre-FD days, I recall Shoals and I being far more excited about that Sixers/Raptors series than the eventual Sixers/Lakers finals, which were kind of a bummer with the exception of Iverson emphatically stepping over a prostrate Tyron Lue.

At 6/18/2008 4:16 PM, Blogger Z said...

Agreed DLIC, hell, this happened earlier in THIS year's playoffs. My Muxtape (unfortunately blown-up, I believe) was full of despair.

At 6/18/2008 4:17 PM, Blogger trouc said...

DLIC, ya'll just seem a little bitter this year. Used to be, it was always your giants getting crushed, but LA does not, under any circumstances, stack up against FD favorites from the past, so how you got so caught up in this is gonna make people wonder.

At 6/18/2008 4:21 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

DLIC, if the reaction to the annual implosion (or whatever it is) is different this year, it's almost surely just because the baggage that Kobe and the Lakers bring to the table is too much for most people to set aside in trying to be liberated fans. Octopus Grigori above said he had no loyalty to either team, but I suspect in a way that's not true, and wouldn't be for some others here. When you hate one player or team far, far above the rest and you find yourself vehemently rooting for them to lose, that's not being liberated any more than rooting that hard for your favorite team to win. Kobe and the Lakers are just incredibly divisive, and that's why you have some people who are more interested in wanting to see their reputations or legacies tarnished for losing than in wanting to discuss what the victory meant for the Celtics or fans in general. It's the difference in last year just wanting to moan about another Spurs title rather than anxiously hopping around waiting to throw dirt on LeBron's casket for being swept.

At 6/18/2008 4:21 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I really didn't want it to come to this, but: Our one and only set of FD power rankings. From a year and a half ago.

At 6/18/2008 4:24 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

One other point that got swept away in my MYSTERIOUS POST FROM LAST NIGHT. i realized that i do not categorically dislike the celtics. despite my love/hate toward cassell, i have to give him his props for forfeiting literally millions of dollars for one last ring. posey is bad-ass. and pj brown was always the nicest guy to me in the bulls locker room. hurrah.

At 6/18/2008 4:30 PM, Blogger trouc said...

Yams, it's weird you bring up hate, because that's actually the one thing that really throws me off here: Timmy D, traditional destroyer of FD hopes, was never hated quite like this Celtics team is. People wanted him to go away sure, but there was never any sort of personal animosity like we're seeing with the Celtics. I'm used to people here being bored, but not hating, seems a little below them.

Shoals, players do not necessarily make a team, and I don't care where they rank anyway. Any team that could get absolutely humiliated like that in an elimination game is not FreeDarko, at least by any definition that makes sense to me.

At 6/18/2008 4:40 PM, Blogger Tree Frog said...

Avon struggled to reclaim the conahs of Baltimore for all of two months. Then he was back in jail for some stupid stuff that he shouldn't have been doing. That's an ominous metaphor from a committed fan for the Celtics.

Simmons has been jocking The Wire for a while now, but his references to the series in his columns betray that he's somehow failed to internalize it alongside his devotion to Boston sports.

I think he really wanted to use Marlo in this metaphor, but couldn't bring himself to connect the mercenary rise of the Celtics to the cold, game-breaking tactics of that crew.

At 6/18/2008 4:43 PM, Blogger Choklit said...

what's the point in discussing KG when the more "FD" option to yap about is Pierce? As someone said above, it feels RIGHT that he won a ring. HE'S the one who suffered through a crisis in team-linked ability while holding together (bettering, I would argue) his game so that when this series came, he was OBVIOUSLY the best player on the floor. The "drunken, take the ball to the rack when given, but still be a good enough shooter to make open 3's" style that only can be compared to LeBron's "I'm a dump truck, get the hell out of my way" stampedes.
If we must Garnett-ify this board, then do it, but much must be given to the truth. And the truth is, Pierce is as likable as anyone in the league ever was.

At 6/18/2008 4:44 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

trouc, the difference is that Tim Duncan was always Tim Duncan. To paraphrase Martin above, he was "certified" when he won his first title, cause he did it his way. He's always played and won his way. The disappointment and disgust with these Celtics stems from all the key components turning their backs on what they have embodied up till now in pursuit of winning the way they did.

The hate comes from knowing all these years that Kevin Garnett wanted to be Tim Duncan.

At 6/18/2008 4:44 PM, Blogger Fredrik deBoer said...

I think the fundamental weakness of this blog is its insistence on having everything both ways, of crafting a very complex, intricate-- and thus rarely satisfied-- schema for success, but not accepting the fact that this behavior is inevitably going to lead to disappointment. You created this ideology; you are constantly refining it. If you'd smile and accept and take your lumps, I'd respect it more. But there has been an enormous amount of simple bitchery, of whiny, self-possessed entitlement, that is pretty tiring. There's no glory in creating a martyr's ideology if you aren't willing to live with the consequences of that ideology. Take your lumps, or broaden your definition of quality basketball; but don't act like what happened is everyone else's failure.

Kevin Garnett could give less than a fuck what you think. That doesn't mean you stop thinking it. But it does mean that you stop acting as though there is a failure within him for not living up to a legacy that he never endorsed, and it's sad to me to see the calcification of ideas whose strength was in being free.

At 6/18/2008 4:45 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Yeah, and what about some credit for my Rondo is the new KG column I wrote for Sporting News, of all places?

Trouc--I don't know if we hate the Celtics, so much as we hate the turmoil they've caused in our respective lives.

On a serious note, I do kind of like that this meltdown/crisis/schism/civil war is going down when it is. When the book comes out, we're suddenly going to have to explain this site's ethos to a bunch of people who have never heard of it before. And hopefully, "we" includes not only the FD High Council, but you commenters as well. Because don't act like you're just watching this meltdown from the outside. This concerns you, too.

At 6/18/2008 4:47 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I knew I shouldn't have brought up the book in a concillatory light.

FDB, exactly what lumps are we refusing to take? Players I like only win when they stop playing in a way I like. Teams I like are doomed to failure.

At 6/18/2008 5:09 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

I read the original post when it got put up last night and enjoyed it. I think that, especially in light of this conversation, that you owe it to your readers to post it back up. This discussion and the different nature of the KG posts is what keeps me reading FD.

At 6/18/2008 5:11 PM, Blogger cw said...

"The disappointment and disgust with these Celtics stems from all the key components turning their backs on what they have embodied up till now in pursuit of winning the way they did. "

Does that really make sense? This seems to be the outraged adolescents cry of sell-out." And I don't think that any of them really changed who they were as players, except maybe in a good way.

KG, he basically played the same way he always has. Defense and rebounding come first, plus a desire to share the ball. I really like the way he plays, because people playing that way make the game better (by my standards). The only thing I wish he would do better is agressivly attack the rim.

Ray: Ray gave up some of his offensive game--becasue they didn't need it--and he stepped up his defense.

And PP, what did he give up that you really miss? The bitter indifference? The domination of the ball? The poor D? I mean, he was the series MVP and everyone agrees he cemented his status as a historically elite player.

I think what all three of them did was what smart mature adults do. They recognized that bball works best as a team game, with everyone suppling as bet they can what is needed to win. They didn't sacrifice their games really, they became better bball players, and the results speak for themselves.

I don't think this Boston hate is logical.

At 6/18/2008 5:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you say "all the key components turning their backs on what they have embodied up till now," does that really mean "Kevin Garnett turning his back, etc?"

I'm new here. But I'm not new to the Celtics, and I think as of Game 7 in Cleveland Pierce stated -- emphatically -- that he was playing his game.

I'm newer to Ray Allen. This season I saw a cold-blooded shooter with some ball handling skills. That's exactly what I saw in last night's game; is that not what he is?

This brings us back to KG. I kind of lean towards the idea that we never actually knew his game, because he's never been set loose by the presence of a tough-as-nails center to play with. We may still not know it. Give Perkins another year to learn to play without fouling. (I say, optimistically.) You can see the difference in the difference between Game 5 and all the rest of these Finals games.

An interesting question: how much did McHale turn Garnett into McHale? Not in their play, obviously. But McHale's game was always complementary. He could not have been McHale without the power of Bird. It isn't coincidental that he was the greatest sixth man of all time -- McHale learned to play as a sidekick.

In some ways I see that in Garnett. He needs Perkins, weird as that sounds, because Perkins frees him to be a creative monster on defense, roaming Bird-like through the lanes. He needs Pierce, which sounds less weird, because Pierce will be that force on offense.

I'm not sure he wouldn't have been a better player if he'd been playing for Bird rather than McHale. Heck, I bet he would have been. I just think some of the pain and some of the frustration is because -- for whatever reason -- he's been looking for the complementary role all his career.

If I'd been waiting for him to be the #1 on a title team, I'd be bitter as hell. As is, I've just been trying to figure out why the NBA's pairing him with Kobe in those ads, when it should obviously be Pierce.

At 6/18/2008 5:20 PM, Blogger Michael said...

The comments are (largely) what makes the FD board such an expansive experience. It was interesting to see the polling data again, especially when so much has (obviously) changed.

@ trouc: I'm not with you on the "losing is unFD" - if anything, it's one of the major stepping stones. I think Shoals already copped to this.

As far as the KG/Celts...I agree we should be focusing a little more on Pierce. He upped his FDness in a big way.

At 6/18/2008 5:24 PM, Blogger cw said...

"Players I like only win when they stop playing in a way I like."

It's a cruel world.

At 6/18/2008 5:27 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

@Bryant Durrell, No WAY did McHale make KG in his image. If anything, we had a father/son situation where McHale wanted KG to be the top dog that McHale himself could never be. KG was a defer-er since birth. He never wanted the responsibility of having it all rest solely on his shoulders (anyone remember Cassell's performance in the 2004 playoffs? What about Troy Hudson in 2003?). McHale DID want KG to develop a strong back to the basket game like Mac himself, but unfortunately that never got through to him.

At 6/18/2008 5:32 PM, Blogger MM said...

I don't think this Boston hate is logical.

But isn't that the whole point of liberated fandom? That you like who you like (or dislike who you dislike) without having to justify it or bow down to any sort of convention. Logic's got nothing to do with it.

At 6/18/2008 5:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Dr LIC:

I respect your first-hand experience and wisdom.

Huh. So was KG just never going to succeed under McHale because of the dichotomy between what McHale wanted and what KG was?

At 6/18/2008 5:46 PM, Blogger Graydon said...

I wonder whether the idea that Garnett changed this year genuinely comes from the court or from the media's overly intense interest in his intensity. I understand he wasn't the first option on this team, so he's not getting the buckets, but can we really blame him for the media's obsession with his focus/pain and his selfless team play. As he said last night in the post-game interview, he's "always been a selfless player." I'm concerned that we've reacted to ESPN's take on this rather than genuinely looking at the man's game. Perception/reality is a two-way street, no doubt, but I am just concerned we've let the former consume us.

At 6/18/2008 5:51 PM, Blogger Graydon said...

Maybe what I'm trying to say is just because Garnett was the first option in 'Sota doesn't mean he wasn't more "right way" than we realized. That this all isn't a change, its just the reality of a selfless ballplayer when he's got Pierce and Allen on his squad. And then I have to ask, can you be selfless and be "FD"?

At 6/18/2008 5:54 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

First time caller, short-time listener, random thoughts without real linkage.

Garnett didn't pop off a corporate slogan (ok, he did, but it wasn't the adidas slogan, it was the slogan of a Chinese shoe manufacturer). He may have been trying to say "Impossible is nothing," or he may truly have meant "anything is possible."

I'd like to raise an issue that bugs the shit out of me: say that he did plan out part of what he said ahead of time. How is this less authentic? As anyone who has given a wedding speech or eulogy can tell you, planning remarks ahead of time does not mean there is a lack of authenticity or emotion, or that it is mere contrivance. The notion that the spontaneous is the true is one of the more dubious Romantic legacies.

KG remains for me one of the most likable players in the sport, and I'm very happy for his achievement. I also don't understand the Celtics hate (other than the Simmons/Boston part), but that may be as a Canadian in a town not noted for a basketball culture, I'm not inundated with the hype.

I just can't understand the "we all love Odom" meme you guys have been so happy about. He's profoundly unlikeable (an arrogant choke artist who doesn't even have the decency to exhibit any shame when he acts the coward? Awesome, sign me up for the jersey). Why exactly is he the patron saint of this site? Because he has fake swag? I'm not totally sure what FD really means-is it the fake swag?

As for one team running an elegant offense and the other not, I disagree strongly. There is nothing more elegant in the current NBA than Ray Allen's jumper; and I can't think of anything crasser than a Kobe "look at me!" fadeaway. Schemes being one thing, and execution another, I'd lean Celtics. And elegance aside, I found the Celtics offense way more exciting all series. Ray's 3s, Pierce's intoxicated demon drives, the wager that is a Rondo jumper, were all compelling as hell. The Lakers, apart from the occasional Kobe moment, Farmar driving, and a few Gasol spin moves, were pretty uninspiring. And hell, for pure swagger, James Posey has more hardbody going on than the whole Lakers organization.

At 6/18/2008 5:59 PM, Blogger Jonny said...

speaking really quickly about KG having a "kobe as the souless devil" moment. . as opposed to Paul Pierce being the man i want to hate as a lakers fan but have to respect intead. . .on the opening introductions when KG screams. . definetly seems a lot more contrived than Paul Pierce's "let me hear it!"

i dont know if anyone would agree with me about that, but the Minny KG died when he was traded to boston, the wherever the hell he's played Ray Allen died when he was traded to Boston. . but Pierce . .

. . as much as i don't want it to be valid, Pierce is what Kobe has to achieve before he can think of challenging Jordan

(speaking from a purely basketball point of view. . if vladdy was on the celtics and kobe was being guarded by him. . and then luke walton?? as nuch as i respect what Pierce achieved this post-season. . i take it with a grain of salt)

At 6/18/2008 6:03 PM, Blogger Jerry Vinokurov said...

If, as DLIC says (and he would know), KG was a defer-er from the start, then wouldn't it stand to reason that he did not actually turn his back on any "way that he was" and that he has, in fact, won on his terms? I would say so. It just so happens that his terms include not being the #1 option all the time, which is what he was forced to do in Minnesota.

At 6/18/2008 6:03 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

w/r/t jonny, choklit et al., my only regret is not focusing more on how awesome pierce has become (despite the fact that the game 1 knee injury/angel stunt really bugged me). although i'm pretty sure shoals wrote a lot of pro-pierce stuff lately + on the sporting blog.

@andrew...i am fascinated with odom because he is a tragic figure.

At 6/18/2008 6:03 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

@ jerry v: agreed.

At 6/18/2008 6:06 PM, Blogger Graydon said...

Andrew- Good comment, I like a lot of what you said. I think a lot of the Odom thing comes from his unfulfilled potential, which I feel like people love around here. And his nebulous wing game, which really is just the opposite side of the same coin.

At 6/18/2008 6:07 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I definitely regret not writing more about Pierce. I also regret letting his last few depressing seasons make me forget how rad he is.

But—take this however you want—it just seems unavoidable that we'd be fixated on Garnett, no matter how little he'd have wanted it that way. Or how unpleasant it was for us and all of you.

At 6/18/2008 6:19 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

DLIC: Tragic in what sense? Odom has never had a height to fall from. Since when is not living up to potential tragic? It's frustrating and commonplace, the kind of thing that deserves a "mere" in front of it. Besides which, he's not a lead and never could be, and his failures are largely a result of a continued moral flaw (cowardice), not the kind of misjudgment I would associate with harmatia or hubris.

At 6/18/2008 6:27 PM, Blogger Graydon said...

DLIC & Andrew: I kind of agree with Andrew on this one, at least to the extent that Odom isn't actually tragic. I feel like tragedy requires a hearty helping of failed heroism, while Odom is no hero. If anything he is a confused and benevolent jester in Jackson's (or Kobe's) court. Someone like...Webber. Webber is tragic. Or Iverson.

At 6/18/2008 6:29 PM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

I had a similar reaction to DLIC to the Garnett/Tafoya interview, in that the screaming/repping Boston ("it could only happen here") felt disingenuous in a hard-to-pin-down kind of way.

The other odd feeling that I had during the series was the nagging feeling that I was somewhere inside pulling for the Lakers, despite the fact that I'm a Dubs fan and was pulling for the Bay Area guys on the Celtics (Powe, House and fuck it, we're claiming Pierce as well) to get a ring. I dunno really why or how it was there; there it was though.

At 6/18/2008 6:37 PM, Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

@ Andrew: Agree with everything you said.

At 6/18/2008 7:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The focus on Garnett was completely unavoidable. I don't even blame the media -- Pierce, for several years, was a really unpleasant story. Even when he wasn't being a prat, he was looking like he was gonna be the story of a talented guy who reupped with a team that promised him help...

And gave him nothing except maybe the chance to be an older mentor to promising rookies. I don't think Pierce and Oden would have worked out quite as well, you know?

So. Paul Pierce. Very depressing story. Focusing on Garnett makes sense, and certainly he was seen as deserving a ring more than Pierce. Only in the last few days, only since Pierce's huge games, only then have we seen big media talk about Pierce's redemptive arc.

I'm cynically amused by the three whole days it took Scoop Jackson to go from "Kobe Bryant is thirsty" to "Paul Pierce will not be stopped."

At 6/18/2008 7:23 PM, Blogger Fredrik deBoer said...

I'll never disparage a cri de coeur if that heart is true...

At 6/18/2008 7:51 PM, Blogger Martin said...

@ Bryant D., Ray Allen's final's game 6 performance was vintage Jesus Shuttlesworth, the claims of changed style were targeted at performances like Game 1 of the conference semis when Ray went scoreless for the first time since his rookie year, meekly attempting only took 4 shots! In the early rounds of the playoff he was not playing like the Ray Allen we know. Actually none of the 'big 3' was playing anything remotely similar to their historical play. The big 3’s play on the court was as uncharacteristically muted as their media interactions and interviews. During the first two rounds each of the big-3 seemed be struggling just to score 20 pts in a game. I remember during the darkest of times early in the Cavs series, Shoals put up a post that openly questioned whether the uncharacteristic play was a conscientious sublimation or a revelation that the big-3 was a bunch of washed up all-stars that were never that good to begin with.

However, as Bryant D. pointed out above, the turning point came in Game 7 of the Cavs series when Pierce snapped out of his Ubuntu-induced coma and reverted to the drunken mastery of the Pierce of old. Perhaps the big-3’s funk early in the playoffs was due to the ambiguity in their hierarchy, because once Pierce claimed the throne, Ray Allen found himself shortly after during the later games of the Detroit series, by the final’s he played like Jesus of old, elusively darting around screens and unapologetically draining cold-blooded threes without hesitation.

KG’s evolution on the other hand is hard to pin down. On the surface KG’s play remained the relatively the same. KG continued to anchor the C’s defense, contribute modestly on offense and choke in pressure situations. I remember the KG that slapped 32pts and 21rebs on the Kings back in 2004. That KG was no where to be seen- and as some posters have pointed- may or may not have been the true KG. Granted KG was never a prolific scorer, but even his defensive dominance was muted, I attribute this mostly to contrasting styles- a Dwight Howard can effortless grab 20plus rebounds a game by thumbing his nose to pedestrian pursuits like boxing-out in favor of authoritatively snatching the ball 13ft high, way above the meekly outstretched arms of lesser athletes. Meanwhile, KG has been forced to give up on attaining obscene rebound totals this season and in favor of boxing-out a perimeter shooter and doing the little things that don’t show up on stats sheets. Given KG’s height, wing-span, unreal hops and great timing- I am sure he could still snatch crazy rebounds totals but for the benefit of the system, KG only averaged a paltry by KG standards 10.2 rebounds per game. Don’t say it’s the frontline because Dwight is out-there springing for rebounds like a crack-head goes after rocks despite having a PF and SF that rebound a higher rate than KG’s frontline. The same can be said of other stats of KG’s like blocks which are also down. The whole Ubuntu/teamwork/Right-Way concept has robbed KG of all awe-inducing plays save the occasional put-back dunk. KG has become a super-role player, toiling earnestly but in obscurity, his presence felt but never registered. That said, the new style of play has probably made KG a better defender (i.e. better at winning) and it even garnered KG the defensive player of the year trophy in recognition of his teams achievements despite KG posting career lows in blocks and rebounds.

At 6/18/2008 8:02 PM, Blogger Croz said...

I think as observed above that the presence of Kobe and Minnesota KG complicates things quite a bit - certainly for myself, and maybe I speak for others - bear with me.

Being a diehard UNC college ball fan with no real pro team affiliation, I practice the kind of NBA liberated fandom that makes sense to me. I get that it's different from the LF of this site, because it's based so much on my read on different players' personalities. Ergo, I can't stand Kobe, for all of the banal reasons hashed out elsewhere. Sure, I can't truly KNOW him, but I go by my own constructed sense. So, I like to root for the nice guys (designated only by my impressions) to finish first - Nash, Baron Davis, Ray Allen, etc.

But this gets complicated by aesthetics - Tim Duncan is great, but stylistically unappealing enough that the Spurs produce the same agonized boredom in me as it does in many others.

The ease in rooting for the classic SSOL Suns is that you had a perfect storm of aesthetics and (contrived) character - the basketball was amazing, and Nash is the kind of guy that's just too easy to want success for. So rooting for dazzling offense becomes also rooting for the Right Guys to get a ring (obviously, I simplify - Stoudemire seems to me to be almost as much of a head case as Odom sometimes, etc. etc.).

In Lakers v. Celtics, what you had was the classic offense vs. defense standoff - watching the Lakers operate the triangle was beautiful, beautiful offensive basketball. The Celtics were the classic defensive stoppers - their identity formed from the uglying up of other teams' offense.

So OF COURSE this site would prefer the Lakers. Indifferent D, best O in the league, and offensive system so devastating that at...last...it...seems...possible...to retire the "defense wins championships" axiom.

How is this different from the SSOL Suns? It isn't. It's the same matchup philosophically as the Suns/Spurs series(es) that felt so crushing.

BUT, and it's a huge but, grafted onto this aesthetic divide (beautiful offense vs. hellbound gumming-up-of-the-works defense), is the fact that on the offense-is-beautiful side is not humble Canuck Nash, but arrogant baggage-laden Bryant. On the ugly-defense side, not blackguard Bowen, but tortured tragic hero KG, nice guy Ray Allen, tortured tragic hero Paul Pierce.

So it's a complicated choice from a liberated fandom perspective:
Option 1) Cheer for offense, for aesthetics, for the end to "defense wins championships", to the powers of Euro-derived finesse basketball in the person of Pau Gasol (Euro-derived finesse basketball...hmmm...who brought that style to Phoenix...hmmm), and...gulp...for Kobe.

Option 2) Cheer for KG, Ray, Pierce, and the upholding of the tradition that it seemed that the Suns would finally, gloriously, be able to upend.

I chose option 2, but it seems clear to me that if aesthetics are your guiding light, there was no choice in this series but to cast your lot with Kobe and his crazy, sinking Lakers. Me, I'm glad he sunk, but that's where my principles of fandom differ from this site's, and I'm ok with that.

At 6/18/2008 8:14 PM, Blogger Carter Blanchard said...

It's such a shame how two or three commenters can ruin the tone of a comment section. I feel like I'm reading a flame war on an ESPN message board rather than an actual discussion of the ideas that Shoals and co. are putting forward. We get it, a handful of you don't like Kobe and think that the Celtics are the cats' pajamas. But this "told you so" attitude now that they won is totally out of place considering I don't recall any grand predictions of a Lakers sweep or anything like that from anyone here. And the "if you don't like the Celtics you just don't like basketball" shit is just a more impassioned regurgitation of the Spurs line that by comparison seems pretty palatable now because at least it had a hint of a condescending chuckle behind it rather than the vitriolic outrage.

At 6/18/2008 8:33 PM, Blogger Fredrik deBoer said...

Can someone please explained to me how a team that just dropped 130 points plus is a "defense only" team? Again, you guys are pushing a narrative that just isn't true. The Celtics were a very good offensive team, both by traditional and new-fangled metrics, in the regular season and these Finals. That's just lazy thinking.

It's such a shame how two or three commenters can ruin the tone of a comment section. I feel like I'm reading a flame war on an ESPN message board rather than an actual discussion of the ideas that Shoals and co. are putting forward. We get it, a handful of you don't like Kobe and think that the Celtics are the cats' pajamas.

It isn't just two or three commenters, and they haven't been flaming. Indeed, the people saying that they are happy with this series have been better able to justify their opinions than the other side, or so it seems to me. I think you're really just saying "don't disagree with Shoals."

At 6/18/2008 9:04 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

I'd disagree that Iverson is a tragic figure: he doesn't feel done to me, and in today's NBA is one trade away from a title.

Kobe, on the other hand, does feel done to me. He is very much the traditional tragic hero, but lacks two key points. He's an NBA noble, did the whole hubris and harmatia deal, had the extreme reversal of fortune. He even has the added twist of coming close again and failing. What he lacks is the coming to terms with the fact that he is responsible for his own fall, and he's not pitiable enough. I can't see him being the kind of force he wants to be on a title team. This is not to say he can't win more titles, which would make me re-think the arc of his career (sin-suffering-redemption?), but I don't think Bynum will be enough to put this team over the top.

At 6/18/2008 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, I admit to being a Celtics fan, which I know is terrible because Jerry Sichting was totally white and you guys all got rejected from Tufts and people in Charlestown don't like busing which makes Boston the only city that's ever had a problem with racism, but I really think judging KG's authenticity based on his recent interviews is kind of wiggity wiggity wack, and I think you guys are seriously missing a big part of KG's impact when all your Pierce-worship fails to acknowledge that Pierce could not have done what he did in this Finals had it not been for the change in his game that KG initiated.

Like, yes, his post-game talk with Tafoya felt contrived as fuck, as did a lot of the post-game stuff, but it's pretty fucking hard to not make some sideline reporter awkwardly interjecting herself into a moment that should be the team's authentic, and doubly so when the game was basically over at halftime and everyone had spent the whole second half knowing they won the ship, which robbed the moment of whatever spontaneity it might have had. I think you have to judge KG's personality by watching what he has done ON THE FLOOR for the entire season, the way he has interacted with his teammates, slapping the floor on defense, punching rajon rondo or Leon Powe like 20 times after a big play instead of helping them off the ground (in a good way), trying to eat his jersey after big plays at the end of the game.... I really don't think he is acting for the cameras during those moments, he is still the same KG.

I have been watching Pierce for ten fucking years, and he NEVER played defense like he did this year, and you always had to deal with the Paul Pierce Tradeoff, where he was an exciting player to watch and always carried his team, but he also trotted out his patented, "attempt a poorly executed spin move into a double team, get stripped, throw your arms up in the air and flail around like you got fouled, then bitch to the refs even though everyone in the building knows you just got exposed" move at the end of every close game, and he has always been something of a chucker (something that has also been true of Ray Allen).

This is the thing Shoals seems to be missing in his complaint about players he likes having to play differently to win- there was no fucking way in hell that Pierce, Allen, or Garnett were ever going to win as the main guy, because they are flawed players. Pierce has never had the handles or the hops to make it into the Kobe/Lebron/T-Mac echelon, Ray Allen always needed to take roughly 45 shots a game to maximize his effectiveness, and KG was always going to defer too much and run to the safety blanket of his turnaround instead of taking it to the hole. That Sacramento game was fucking legendary, but it was a mirage, those Wolves lost because Cassell went down and KG still relied on him and his donkeyballs.

You see this Celtics run as mercenaries joining up to get a ring, I see it as a recognition on the part of all three guys that they had flaws that they couldn't overcome unless they joined forces. I think in many ways, the "mercenary" feel of this season and this championship would have been lessened if they had won it next year or the year after, which is what most of us in Boston expected, since we felt it would take time to gel and for Rondo to emerge. It's like, before this team could form a new, distinct identity, they already won. But these guys were in it for the long haul, just because they didn't get drafted together doesn't mean that this is like Malone joining the Lakers.

Frankly, I think a lot of the dissension here is because a lot of people recognize this, although they probably didn't watch every Celtic game like I did, and they like these Celtics a lot more than you guys do and reject your Spurs comparison out of hand. I think a lot of this has to do with whatever personal animosity you guys have towards Boston.

Whatever, I'm sure you think I'm tremendously misguided and that I plan on voting for McCain. I love this site, but, as Big L once said, I don't understand it.

At 6/18/2008 9:54 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

Kinda jumping on the end here, and maybe I'm an ex-Minny Garnett apologista, but, I think that to KG, "Impossible is Nothing" quite possibly means more than a marketing slogan. I can totally see him in some meeting, the ad wizard busting that out on the easel and him being like "damn, that's deep" and nodding his head. To us, since we've heard variations on the "why not us?" meme from teams on the come up since time immemorial, it's banal pap, and obviously so, but from within, I can totally see KG (who is probably not quite as smart as he tends to come off in interviews) accepting it.

Also, the moment has been so built up for him that there's a certain unreality to it, sort of like the final line in "The Candidate" when Redford, victorious, asks "what now?" KG is if nothing else, a faithful studier of basketball history, so he knows sorta how one is supposed to react, but he's also naturally excitable so what comes out is half-garbled half-contrived, especially when mixed with the 127% cliched and paint-by-numbers tradition of the post-game on-court interview that he's sleep-walked through hundreds of times by now.

And seriously, fuck you if you want to hate on a guy for celebrating how he wants to. That part really isn't our business anyway. We get the duckboats, the Wheaties box and a few shots of champaign, but let them have their moment for themselves.

VW: fdsylb "Free Darko some Sylly Bitches on this one"

At 6/18/2008 10:43 PM, Blogger Carter Blanchard said...

It's not having a contrary opinion that bugs me, it's people who feel the need to post 5-10 times on every post essentially saying the same damn thing over and over again arguing something that's rarely relevant to what preceded it. Prime example, no one's arguing the Celtics offense isn't above average. Hell, a lot of those championship Spurs teams had surprisingly efficient offenses once you accounted for pace. That didn't change the fact that Duncan bankshots didn't get me off then anymore than Posey corner 3s do now. And your characterization of the debate as "people who liked the playoffs" vs. "those who didn't" is exactly what's been so annoying about some of the comments over the past couple weeks.

Sorry to be so snippy but it's just getting to be repetitive as shit from some people.

At 6/18/2008 11:36 PM, Blogger dunces said...

I guess Finals time always means that the trolls come out of the woodwork to ridicule what has always been a relatively fragile ideology.

IMO: Garnett can't be FreeDarko anymore because he's peaked, his potential is at minimum, and he didn't revolutionize the way the game was played. Boston isn't FreeDarko because they espouse a philosophy of basketball that is ancient, hoary, and pretty much the only sure-fire strategy in the NBA. LA is a little bit FreeDarko primarily because of Lamar Odom in the triangle, and their collapse was entirely FreeDarko because that's how the game works.

To me, FDB coming in and accusing people here of bias or bad taste or whatever is missing the point.

The whole reason I read FreeDarko is because I'm not satisfied with the existing axes that define success in the NBA, and Shoals and company are in the business of inventing new ones.

You can't waltz into a club and tell the crowd that the bape shark is stupid because who zips up a hoodie all the way anyways.

Just my opinion; I've been reading this site for years, and some of the commenting of late irks the bejeezus out of me.

At 6/18/2008 11:49 PM, Blogger ItTakesAThiefToCatchAThief said...

KG is a 7 foot 1 Steve Nash.

At 6/19/2008 12:53 AM, Blogger trouc said...

Maybe we need a ruling from the bench here, but while losing may be FD, being humiliated and quitting in the second quarter are not FD under any definition I'm aware of. The love for this Lakers team is sort of like convincing yourself that Hot Chip isn't shit when all you really want to hear is your old lp copy of Daydream Nation (phx). Stop deluding yourselves people!

At 6/19/2008 1:32 AM, Blogger Forever 21 said...

You guys are reading way too far into this interview. He had a mic shoved in his face amisdt a celebration with his teammates. The Tafoya compliments? Not contrived, he's don it before after more meaningless games. The scream? It was all pouring out... and anyone that honestly thinks he was trying to spout the Adidas slogan... please. KG has given shout outs to SC and his mom and peanut (sister I think) in so many post game interviews that I've lost count. This is no different. It was real.

As far as the Dr.'s problems with the way the last few years went down in Minnesota... yes, he got too involved with personnel moves. But he wanted them to hold onto the only guys he had ever tasted success with. It was probably tough to trust McHale to revamp the roster yet again, after he had failed for so long.

All of the negative stories I hear about KG with the Timberwolves basically share one concept. It was him behaving less than favorably because he wanted to win so desperately. I have a few friends that have met him more than once, off court, off camera, and they have nothing but the nicest things to say about him. I'll trust their opinions over some unfavorable rumors about his poor behavior resulting from a burning desire to win.

At 6/19/2008 9:25 AM, Blogger Quizzer said...

The notion that KG was not an offensive weapon or the best player of the Celtics during the POs is just a product of ignorance and hype. He was the top scorer for them for 17 playoffs games. Leading the score for seventeen freaking playoff games for the championship team and he can't produce on offense? Besides being the top rebounder and defender in every single one...
(Btw Martin: you should try to understand the concept that raw stats like rebounds mean nothing unless they are, at least, pace/minutes adjusted. One can only get a rebound if there's a missing shot to begin with.)
Anyway, the idea that Pierce was the more valuable player for the Celtics in the playoffs - or "the man" as you kids now say -, because he was the top scorer in 5/6 games is laughable. I apologize for the cliché, but saying that KG is a super-role-player is like saying that Bill Russell was a mega-role-player.

I don't believe there's any kind of Celtics hate de per si, apart the dislike for Boston and New Englanders.

But basketball wise, Celticness - or more accurately, Auerbachianism - is the polar opposite of FDness, conceptually and philosophically. 2008 Boston was cleary an Auerbachian team - the focus on winning, efficiency, team play and erasing the individual for the sake of the collective; the Ubuntu, as Doc tastelessly renamed it (here, I'm considering Auerbachianism strictly as game philosophy; sure one could argue that FDness is the Auerbachianism of our times, with the emphasis on innovation, revolution and breaking the status-quo). More hurtful, it was an anti-FD team who had success by "stealing" a couple of FD players - KG, Ray Allen to some extent. It's like your marxist guru becoming suddenly a writer for the NR.

What FDers can't understand is that they did it not simply because they were hungry to win a title but because they indeed prefer to play that way, having the chance to. They did what any other truly basketball player would do in their situation. If Arenas - probably the most FD player currently - is traded to Boston this off-season, he'd gladly become an intense defensive player who mostly takes open shots and doesn't force things . Not because he wants desperately to win, but because it's more enjoyable. As a coup de grace, three players who seemed to be convicted to be perennial losers (using the colloquial meaning), and therefore blessed with that aura of romanticism that all the poseurs of this world love to embody. Of course FD must feel betrayed.

Another point, is that FD tend to believe that Boston's approach diminishes the aesthetics of the game. FDists can't understand that those last 18 minutes of Boston's defense in game 5 was probably the best contribute to basketball that the NBA offered in the last 15 years. This happens because they don't have sufficient knowledge of the game and I'm not going any further. It's like trying to convince a J-Zay fan that Beethoven is more aesthetically fulfilling - even if you feed him with the 9th symphony relentlessly, he'd never understand due to not being educated enough. That's why they sincerely think Duncan's bank shots are boring (and, perhaps more revealing, that they are efficient, when, in fact, they aren't). Nevertheless, it's a pity the Pavlonianism of FD when it comes to the defense-offense supposed antinomy. When they find a good defensive team, they just cry "boring", "gritty" etc, even if that same team has an interesting, exciting and elegant offense. Happened in this finals - the Celtics offense was way better and more stylish during the all season - even using FD subjective criteria - than the Lakers' one. Human, just human... As Kirk would say, all ideologies become inverted religions.

At 6/19/2008 10:12 AM, Blogger mdesus said...

frown face. Opuses belong on their own site. The comments here used to be, and still often are great, because they are short, relevant to the post, and sometimes funny. Also the random unexplained letter meme always killed me


At 6/19/2008 10:36 AM, Blogger Martin said...

@Quizzer, I think we can all agree that the Celtics were struggling to find their way during the first 2 rounds. Further your point about pace-adjusted vs raw stats just supports my contention that the style of play is not conducive to amassing large stats- but KG still has the ability to amass such large stats. It is sad that you need to opt for pugilistic approach by framing an otherwise good observation with passive-aggressively disparaging comments like "you should try to understand the concept", calling people uneducated or accusing FD of an anti-New England bias. I think that is the kind of crass posting CB is talking about. I hate to sound all elitist but its the stuff I expect from the ESPN or AOL boards. I can say that as a lifelong Celtics fan and Boston resident, I am really enjoying the success of the Celtics and Sox AND Pats. Questioning why stylistically I enjoyed last year's Warriors vs. Mavs series more does not give me an anti-NE bias (well, I guess you can always accuse me of being self-loathing). Hey, you know another team that is just totally embodies the Auerbachian virtues you praise- the Spurs.

At 6/19/2008 2:14 PM, Blogger Quizzer said...

@Martin: I didn't intend to sound aggressive, I apologize for that.

The commentary about Boston and NE was not directed at you (e.g. vide Garden=Uncle Thomas Cabin analogy), but that's something I really don't care about (the anti-Boston bias).

The point about the stats adjustments is that one can't make historically or inter-player comparisons with raw stats. Attributing the decline of KG stats to the team-play concept is - or maybe - misleading.

I wasn't exactly praising the Auerbachian virtues - I was never a fan of Red nor the Celtics. But Auerbach never had a stylistic approach to the game: he invented fast-break because he had Russell; when Hondo joined the team they increased the quickness around the basket because he was so quick, etc. There is not a Red's way of playing the game. Red's rule was to ask players to do what they can do, not what they can't do - because it's the better way to win and play good basketball. Hence, the Spurs analogy doesn't make that much sense ( I like to watch the Spurs playing, btw). Red would play NellieBall if that would be his best chance of winning.

You may have enjoyed stylistically the GSW vs. Mavs but it was just crappy and innately repulsive basketball.

At 6/19/2008 2:18 PM, Blogger Quizzer said...

And I don't like to watch the Spurs because they win, rather because their games are fun to see. Such as I don't despise the Warriors because they'll never win or play inefficiently but because it becomes utterly boring after a couple of games.

At 6/23/2008 4:35 AM, Blogger Z said...

I know this thread is basically dead, and I'm just digging around in the grave, but anybody with second thoughts after watching the extended interview with Pierce and KG on TWWL?


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