6.16.2008

They Stumbled at That Stumblingstone



First, read Shoals on the site’s principles. It is important.

Recent posts on this site have claimed that this Celtics team has diluted the styles of its stars for the sake of Right Way winning, and, for the most part, I support these views. After tonight, though, it now seems clear that Paul Pierce has escaped that sublimation. Tonight was vintage Truth: Stackjackian long-considered threes; simultaneously awkward and graceful drives to get the rim; and 19 free-throw attempts that, depending on your point-of-view, were either complete accidents or hard-earned tries culled from little more than a few cracks (or holes, since this is the Lakers we’re talking about) in the defense.

The Lakers have been a profound disappointment this series, but Pierce’s ability to buy into Ubuntu while maintaining his personal style can make the Celtics likely victory palatable for even the staunchest gingerphobe. Since their arrivals in Boston, Garnett and Allen have always said that this team still belongs to Pierce, and, in this series, it’s apparent that he’s still the core of the team’s offensive personality. KG and Allen certainly get a lot of attention and produce their fair share of points, but their contributions often hang on the stylistic periphery, coming in the form of conclusive jumpers and finishes. On the other hand, Pierce’s points are as much about process (again, read the Shoals piece) as the caps to those moments.

Plenty of bytes have been spilled here on the fact that the Big Three never became the forceful standard-bearers that we wanted them to be, but PP’s success can certainly act as some consolation. There are certainly points to be made here about the difficulty of bringing together three unique on-court personalities and letting each keep his essence. For now, though, let’s appreciate that Paul Pierce is on the verge of attaining the LOB on his own terms.

(FYI: Shoals is “100% back in love with Paul Pierce” but didn’t want to say it himself.)

Speaking of limina, we have potentially awful news in DraftLand: FreeDrafto favorite Bill Walker is in limbo yet again. MRI won’t come until tomorrow morning, but it’s possible that he’s suffered another bad knee injury – this time on the eve of the deadline to declare. This event shouldn’t be too shocking for anyone who knows the man’s history; moments of uncertainty have defined his career over the last few years. After parting ways with OJ Mayo in high school, losing his eligibility and heading to K-State a year ahead of schedule, tearing his knee, having the coach who recruited him skip town after one season, and sharing the spotlight with a top talent who overshadowed his abilities, the draft represented Walker’s chance to escape flux and remind everyone that he was once one of the shining lights of the recruiting world. If the MRI brings bad tidings, then Walker will have to return to Manhattan for more rehab and a diminished chance of ever recapturing his transcendent athleticism. That would be a shame. Whatever happens, he must be remembered.

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36 Comments:

At 6/16/2008 2:09 AM, Blogger Amphibian said...

Recent lipreading has revealed to me that game-time KG refers to himself as "Motherfucker."

Most recent example: bricked a free throw and said to himself "Y'see that, Motherfucker?" and then growled quietly.

And yes, the capital M was obvious.

 
At 6/16/2008 3:48 AM, Blogger Built Chamberlain said...

Paul Pierce is a Gangster.

How many people can say that they`ve...

1)Dominated a game in the NBA finals
2)Been stabbed 11 times.

Played like a champ tonight, Shame Bo-town wasted the effort.


RIP Bill Walker

 
At 6/16/2008 10:14 AM, Blogger Russ the Bus said...

HAHAHA "PP"

 
At 6/16/2008 10:23 AM, Blogger Sweat of Ewing said...

@Amphibian: how are we not also talking about the fact that Garnett bricked two key free throws? I felt like my heart exploded when I saw that. He's KG, not Nick Anderson. I never bought any of the junk about Garnett not being clutch, or at least I took it with a grain of salt since he's been on a big stage so few times. But he sure as hell didn't do himself any favors yesterday.

 
At 6/16/2008 10:27 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

Being stabbed 11 times (and living) doesn't make you a gangsta; it just means you happen to be both incredibly lucky and unlucky.

 
At 6/16/2008 10:30 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I found out over the weekend that KSU has a nuclear reaction on campus.

 
At 6/16/2008 10:46 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

I said down below I was cheering for Boston because of Paul Pierce! He's a one man wrecking machine.

 
At 6/16/2008 12:02 PM, Blogger jawaan oldham said...

A nuclear reaction?

 
At 6/16/2008 12:04 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Sorry, reactor.

 
At 6/16/2008 12:44 PM, Blogger Croz said...

As much as it pains me, witnessing players I like brick important free throws is when I feel that I have the most in common with them, since I am 100% certain that I would do the same in that situation. I may not be a super-intense 6'11 Motherfucker like Garnett, but I can also miss free throws when I would much rather hit them (granted, in my case it's not the Finals but rather wanting to play when there are more than 5 people per team on the pickup court).

 
At 6/16/2008 1:07 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Who does Bill Walker's knee surgery?

I'm curious about that aspect of "amateur athletics" - what does a poor kid (Bill Walker is from Cincy) who isn't yet a millionaire do when he needs knee surgery that might be the difference between an NBA career and street balling for the rest of his life? How does he get the best care? Does his family pay for it themselves? Do the college boosters take care of his surgery? Do they really care, when there are plenty of other kids out there to replace a Bill Walker?

Or does Bill Walker end up having to go to some Medicaid-accepting surgeon to work on his knee?...

 
At 6/16/2008 1:27 PM, Blogger Sweat of Ewing said...

Well, SML, if a player is in college then one of the mandatory costs (and presumably scholarship money would cover this) is health insurance. I doubt that means he can go to the doctor of his choice, though, so it still leaves it up in the air as to who the hell performs the surgery.

 
At 6/16/2008 1:38 PM, Blogger Amphibian said...

Sweat of Ewing, Fisher missed two end-game freebies too.

All players miss free throws. It's difficult to toss that ball through the hoop in front of 15,000 people with the pressure of crunch time in a Finals game.

I was pointing out that strangeness of Garnett pointing out the missed shot to himself in the third person.

Cassell is pretty boring to lip-read, much like Damon Jones. Eddie House, as shown in Seven Seconds, alternates between dull blather and out of this world lunacy. Pierce is always interesting and Allen speaks only when spoken to.

Y'all specific motherfuckers take care now.

 
At 6/16/2008 2:07 PM, Blogger Gabe said...

Garnett's body language looked very uncomfortable at the line. Do y'all think it's possible that KG gets himself so revved up that he is sometimes excessively aware of the moment?

Like Amphibian/Croz said, everyone feels pressure. But does KG's intensity hurt him there?

 
At 6/16/2008 2:16 PM, Blogger Mother Father Chinese Dentist said...

sort of good news on walker - no tear of the mcl or acl and he's still going to the draft. hopefully someone takes a flyer on him and is rewarded.

 
At 6/16/2008 2:31 PM, Blogger Dan Filowitz said...

Pierce playing like old Pierce leads me to this question for you all:

Do you think next year you'll see more of KG, Allen, and Pierce reverting back to their old style, the style whose loss is lamented here?

It seems possible to me, since they have one more year of chemistry and coming off their success this year (whether they ultimately win the Finals or not.)

Maybe the way to achieve the combination of FD-pleasing aesthetics and team success is working backwards like this Celtics team: get the people together, have them succeed while somewhat muting their individual styles, which will then allow them to un-mute due to the previous year's success.

 
At 6/16/2008 3:10 PM, Blogger Sweat of Ewing said...

It's technically weirder for Fisher to miss those shots since he's like 90% from the line. But Fisher isn't also a former (and potential) MVP candidate. That shit matters. I just note the difference between Pierce, who iced free throw after free throw, and Garnett, who missed 3/4 of the ones he got when it counted most.

 
At 6/16/2008 3:16 PM, Blogger goathair said...

a) Paul Pierce is the legend of the drunken master.

b) Does Bill Walker only know one dunk?

 
At 6/16/2008 4:28 PM, Blogger Carter Blanchard said...

It's most definitely the same dunk over and over again. But if you could do that shit in HS wouldn't you as often as possible? I think so.

 
At 6/16/2008 5:08 PM, Blogger Martin said...

As a long-time non-liberated Boston fan, its great to see PP finally get to showcase his abilities on the big stage. PP has been a one-man wrecking crew since back when Kobe was still hawking big-macs to pre-K white kids. And now although they are no longer team-mates, PP and Antoine Walker remain kindred spirits, conjoined by their drunken mastery of hoops. KG's turn-around jumper and Jesus' three-ball are cultured and refined- the result of endless practice, repetition and superior hand-eye coordination.

Watching PP's drunken master approach to attacking the basket and hastily launched three-pointers that pay no regard to offensive flow or Right Way technicalities like 'setting your feet' or 'squaring your shoulders' is reminiscent of PP and AW's renaissance in 2002. A revolution that was bourne from ousting the dictatorial Rick Pitino and forging a Faustian bargain with Jim O'brien- 'you play defense the Right Way for me and I'll let you do whatever you want on offense- no matter how inebriated it appears.'

@BRE- Agreed, its not gangsta to get stabbed 11 times, however I think its pretty gangsta that despite suffering a collapsed lung, less than two weeks later PP was out on the court schooling guarding the most athletic position (SG and SF) with fresh stab wounds and he didnt walk with a limp.

 
At 6/16/2008 5:42 PM, Blogger goathair said...

Carter - You're right. I was happy to even throw that kind of thing down at all in high school, let alone on an oop. It seems the worst part about Walker's injury is that we'll be missing out on a new great, in-game dunker.

 
At 6/16/2008 6:18 PM, Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

The series should've been over last night. What's up with this play (see, esp. at 0:08)? Kobe looks like a grizzly bear taking a swipe at a hapless camper's midsection. If that foul had been called, Pierce goes to the line, ties the game with two free throws with like 30-something seconds left. Never mind the plays just before this where the Lakers went all WWF on Pierce with no calls.

 
At 6/16/2008 7:18 PM, Blogger karma said...

Sometimes I wonder how the Lakers even got this far. This team is barely scraping by, and I'm a huge Lakers fan. I expect them to be blown out of the building in Game 6if they continue to play this way. Thier chemistry has faded, their reserves have sucked, and Kobe Bryant seems human once again. Not to mention that Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have somehow turned 2008 into 2001 and you have the perfect recipe for a 4-2 victory in the series by the Celtics.

 
At 6/16/2008 7:42 PM, Blogger Tree Frog said...

Kobe got all ball on that swipe. The contact with Pierce was after the ball was gone.

99% of the time though, the swiper misses the swipe and the swipee gets a whistle.

Thanks to long hours of babysitting, I know this: Swiper, no swiping!

 
At 6/16/2008 7:45 PM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

The Garnett free throws made me think of a psychological survey of successful athletes that reached the conclusion that the athletes who are successful are those who cannot conceive of failure.

That is to say, Michael Jordan made those shots because he knew he would make those shots. No thought, just knowledge. Compare to KG, who you imagine is constantly waging a war inside his own head.

I have a feeling that this was covered at some point on FD. I could be wrong.

 
At 6/16/2008 8:22 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Okay, I was trying to find some video of Randy Livingston in high school to compare to Bill Walker (not in the sense that their games were similar, but in the sense that both had great powers that were lost). Instead I was treated to this odd intersection of today and yesterday.

It's a damn shame Luc Longley got no love there.

 
At 6/16/2008 8:39 PM, Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

@ Tree Frog: You sure about that? I'm looking at this video, and from where I sit, it looks like all Kobe got with that swipe were Paul Pierces love handles.

But, whatever, it doesn't matter. KG will be welcoming the Lakers to the Jungle on Tuesday. It'll be like "coming into the Amazon." Perhaps KG is identifying with those recently discovered uncontacted tribes deep in the Amazon? What if KG came out for Game 6 with his entire body painted red? What if, instead of David Stern, David Lynch were directing these Finals?

The inability to hit clutch free throws signals too much attachment to the fleeting, transient world of things.

 
At 6/16/2008 11:27 PM, Blogger The Other Van Gundy said...

"The inability to hit clutch free throws signals too much attachment to the fleeting, transient world of things."

As far as I can tell, this means nothing.

 
At 6/17/2008 12:17 AM, Blogger cw said...

"The inability to hit clutch free throws signals too much attachment to the fleeting, transient world of things."

As far as I can tell, this means nothing.


it means he cared too much about winning and his responsibilities and what people would say if he missed (chronic choker) and all those transient worldly cares pressured him and he missed free throws he would normally make.

 
At 6/17/2008 12:29 AM, Blogger Tree Frog said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 6/17/2008 12:31 AM, Blogger Tree Frog said...

That blast from the past video from salt_bagel is somehow better in Italian. As if I'm watching a "cultural appreciation" video from Mars in 3030 or something.

Full disclosure: I'm Amphibian too. Somehow my online identity is wavering.

 
At 6/17/2008 8:02 AM, Blogger ra said...

@zarko: That psych profile reminds me of why I find the current Kobe/KG "There Can Only Be One" spots so ironic. As they're both telling us how much they like their fear, Kobe sounds disingenuous, and KG utterly unconvincing. KG - you can see it in all his on-court body language - is obviously and detrimentally beset by fear. I imagine that crunch-time opportunities unfold for him as nightmares. And Kobe's delivery of that speech is hilarious to me. His smile basically mocks the trite, canned sentimentalism of the campaign, and also calls out anyone who actually feels that way. Kobe's basically laughing at KG on the other side of that line.

 
At 6/17/2008 10:28 AM, Blogger goathair said...

I read something about Tiger Woods yesterday that has some relevance to KG.

Tiger was at some golf course with a bunch of media and they wanted to take shots of him hitting the ball out of the bunker. Tiger, however, refused. When he finally compromised by getting his picture taken but without a club, the reporters asked why he wouldn't take a picture getting the ball out of the sand. Tiger replied, "why let negative thoughts get in your head?" (paraphrased).

I think that's probably something Garnett struggles with. Surely he's aware that there is a possibility of failure. Even the tiniest inkling of that thought might be enough to throw him off his game.

 
At 6/17/2008 1:38 PM, Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

Apropos of Shoals' recent discussion of FD's principles, "process," and the Celtics, I thought FD-land would find something of interest in this passage from Pierre Bourdieu's 1978 essay "Sport and Social Class" (esp. the last few sentences):

It might be wondered, in passing, whether some recent developments in sporting practices are not in part an effect of the evolution which I have too rapidly sketched. One only has to think, for example, of all that is implied in the fact that a sport like rugby (in France -- but the same is true of American football in the USA) has become, through television, a mass spectacle, transmitted far beyond the circle of present or past "practicioners", i.e. to a public very imperfectly equipped with the specific competence needed to decipher it adequately. The 'connoisseur' has schemes of perception and appreciation which enable him to see what the layman cannot see, to perceive a necessity where the outsider sees only violence and confusion, and so to find in the promptness of a movement, in the unforeseeable inevitability of a successful combination or the near-miraculous orchestration of a team strategy, a pleasure no less intense and learned than the pleasure a music-lover derives from a particularly successful rendering of a favorite work. The more superficial the perception, the less it finds its pleasure in the spectacle contemplated in itself and for itself, and the more it is drawn to the search for the 'sensational', the cult of obvious feats and visible virtuosity and, above all, the more exclusively it is concerned with that other dimensions of the sporting spectacle, suspense and anxiety as to the result, thereby encouraging players and especially organizers to aim for victory at all costs. In other words, everything seems to suggest that, in sport as in music, extension of the public beyond the circle of amateurs helps to reinforce the reign of the pure professionals.

Perhaps tonight we will witness the Big 3 taking on their rightful place in "the reign of the pure professionals." Will our circle of amateurs be pleased? We know that Tim Duncan can fairly be called a "pure professional," but can Paul Pierce?

 
At 6/17/2008 2:48 PM, Blogger Graydon said...

Does anybody have a link to the Pierre Bourdieu article quoted above? I can't find it on Jstor or the interwebs. If anybody has a link to a full version of it I'd appreciate it.

One other question: Is there a type of performance KG could give this evening that would redeem him in the eyes of the FD community? Victory alone clearly is not the answer, as winning is hardly the first priority around here. But if he just goes fucking nuts? Would the general consensus be some recaptured sense of respect or is he too humorless/establishment to be brought back into the fold?

 
At 6/17/2008 2:55 PM, Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

@ Graydon: The article can be found in _Rethinking Popular Culture: Contemporary Perspectivesin Cultural Studies_, Chandra Mukerji and Michael Schudson, eds. - Univ. of California Press (1991) at pages 357-73. The article originally appeared in Social Science Information 17, no. 6 (1978): 819-40. Appears you can purchase the article here. Good luck.

 

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