Peace Detects You

Admittedly, my plan was to live-blog Heat/Knicks last night, and the Obama infomercial, at the same time. I have a bunch of notes from the whole thing. But then I got bummed out at Beasley's errancy—in part because it's not like he was helpless, just off—and then got lost in a sea of League Pass and fantasy moves that had me thoroughly exhausted by around 10 my time. So instead, some brief thoughts on the Knicks.

Let's be honest here: A lot of us, even (or especially) Knicks fans, hate a lot of these current players. It could just be the stain of those last few years, or maybe the fact that some of them need only the slightest shove to inspire disgust. Marbury and Curry are beyond rescue, but I remember the young Zach Randolph, and Jamal Crawford is unfairly crucified by us all, at every opportunity, just because he happens to have shared a backcourt with Steph. Nate Robinson is equal parts lovable and detestable. Quentin Richardson is, as I've said before, someone a lot of us once jocked, though unlike Z-Bo, Q just kind of disappeared. It's embarassing to fall out of love with a player like that.

So that leaves what, David Lee and Wilson Chandler as unspoilt? Neither of them could be a figurehead for goodness. Which is why I was worried that the Knicks, no matter how D'Antoni-y they got, would still be a fundamentally gross team. And pleasantly surprised to find how easy it was to get excited about them during that first half, when they really seem to have taken that (Obama rip-off?) meme of newness, change and freedom to heart. Maybe it was the fact that Q-Tip gave them an original song to hammer home that meta-point.

This left me with one, possibly disturbing, conclusion: Mike D'Antoni makes players easier to root for. It's top-down identity, which violates everything I stand for, but I like to think it's a little more subtle than his system imposing character. More that, in the same way that certain borderline players could be trasnformed into mucky pariahs by the Isiah Knicks, playing for D'Antoni, coming into his sphere of influence, brings out their potential to be both more exciting and less retarded. What's more, he transmutes the imperative of style; when the team's goal is to get up and down fast as possible, move the ball three steps ahead of the defense, and dribble only if you get a note from teach, you have to use your imagination.

From this site's perspective, D'Antoni brings out the best in players. This would be disturbing if he didn't offer such open-ended directives; I also don't know if I like saying, "oh, those Spurs, they keep Manu from being a player I would totally love." Giving players a framework in which they have to think for themselves can have snazzy results; a team where discipline is less abstract (admittedly, San Antonio's looser than it was four years ago) isn't going to give a ton of minutes to someone whose game has no predilection toward this within it. Remember, Argentina is a part of Europe, genetically speaking.

The third quarter didn't have quite the same feel to it, and I felt myself seeing the Knicks through more jaundiced eyes again, even as they failed to throw away the game. Skipped the fourth; maybe they took a good, long stare at D'Antoni during a timeout and returned to the first half's sense of purpose. You could hear this in the announcing, too, which always seemed on the verge of going back to the same old griping. One night is a crappy sample, but if I stay interested in this team, and Wilson Chandler starts to warrant repeated consideration, we'll have found an important role for the coach in facilitating style—at least this particular madman in charge.


Tracy McGrady print now available due to popular demand. If you've already bought a print and want the new T-Mac instead, just drop us a line at freedarko 'at' gmail 'dot' com, and we'll swap your order.

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At 10/30/2008 2:10 PM, Blogger jawaan oldham said...

Fortunately, the two least-FD cats on the Knicks are both out of the rotation, and Z-Bo is much less of an asshole when things are going well. I recall a few previous Novembers where the Knicks stormed out of the gate, dropped 110 to 120 and had people going "Whaaa . . .?" Unfortunately, the first bad loss sent them right back to scoring 85 and getting skullfucked every night. So I guess the first time they really get their asses kicked will be more of an indicator of what kind of effect D'Antoni really has.

I think, if the concept of coach as top-down enforcer of a particular aesthetic is troublesome, the idea of that top-down aesthetic being "let loose the star within" could be the exception to that. I don't know. It's your blog; I'm just a guy with a slightly more conservative approach to hoops fandom who happens to like reading it and is a little giddy about the fact that my guys got a game-and-a-half worth of points last night.

At 10/30/2008 2:18 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

The Suns game provided further evidence that D'Antoni makes players more likable. I was completely unmoved by the 5 minutes I saw of that game. I think Jawaan's right that D'Antoni's the exception because he lets players shine.

At 10/30/2008 3:03 PM, Blogger Quantavius Sturdivant said...

Hooray for the T-Mac print! it will soon be a living room fixture.

I agree with Jawaan, the first win is nice but let's see how they do int he first loss. I'm optimistic that D'Antoni will keep them in line. It's not too surprising that D'Antoni makes players more likable, as his brand of ball is aesthetically pleasing and basically upholds all the noble truths of freedarkoism.

A lot of players' likability is predicated on their potential, but that potential can't be unleashed without the right style and ultimately,t he right coach. Other than D'Ant and Don Nelson, I'm not sure who else is really doing it.

Thoughts on the Popovich-Shaq joke foul?

At 10/30/2008 5:02 PM, Blogger The Other Van Gundy said...

Love the TMac print, don't love the price. Come on guys - 50 bucks in this economy? You're pricing this shit like I got 7 houses.

@Quantavius: I'm not sure if you're referring to a specific incident between Shaq and Popp, but I did see that end of the 1st half fouling. Shaq was right to get angry - that's mocking the spirit of the game. Popp's gamesmanship gets out of hand sometimes. Love that beard, though.

So how about Greg Oden being the new Bill Walton? Damn those weak feet.

At 10/30/2008 5:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/30/2008 6:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a decidedly unliberated Knicks fan, watching last nights game was obviously a pleasurable experiece for me, but what really struck me was how D'Antoni's system has completley reversed NY's decades-long infatuation with grind 'em out defensive ball. Yea its only one game and they were hotter than they project to be throughout the season, but the actuality of D'Antoni being our coach never fully sunk in until last night. I've never seen a Knick team play like this and was pretty much in disbelief until they finally won. Even Clyde, about midway through the second quarter proclaimed it a "typical low-scoring Knicks-Heat game”, as though he had been conditioned to announce nothing but.

For as long as I've been able to understand what's going on when watching the Knicks (since about '93), theyve never had a truly dynamic offense. They were either defensive juggernauts, or just entirely inept. Even their brief experiment with Nellieball failed after 60 games.

Watching them last night was like watching the Bears score 6 passing TDs, or then Angles score 15 runs all on homers. or Michael Chang serve 20 straight aces. Its not only that it never happens, but that it runs completley counter to their style. It was fucking great.

One big game against a team that won 15 games last year isn't much to get excited about on the surface, but any sign of progress brings hope to a long suffering Knick fan. The game also took a step in dispelling the myth that the Knicks aren't a D'Antoni team. Maybe Curry and Steph aren't D'Antoni players, but he dealt with them accoringly. His swag is phenomenal

At 10/30/2008 7:04 PM, Blogger roland major said...

Maybe most folks have already caught this video from last night's Lebron/Jay-Z rally, but just in case: http://www.cleveland.com/lebron/index.ssf/2008/10/james_jayz_energize_rally_at_t.html

At 10/30/2008 8:12 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Mad D': Should I put you in?
Galli: Only if you want to win.
Mad D': Spoken like a true Italian.

At 10/30/2008 8:18 PM, Blogger tray said...

I guess I see things completely differently. If D'Antoni became my team's coach (my team being the Sixers, and the last time I really enjoyed watching them play probably being when we just had Iverson and a bunch of defensive schlubs), I'd cease to be a fan of that team and find a less "stylish," half-court team to watch. Seriously. Like sure, Nash's game is aesthetically pleasing, but the rest of the Suns' game was like watching a dunk contest and a three-point shooting contest being played simultaneously. Guys like Q-Rich who weren't even good shooters would spend the entire game camped out behind the line (Nash, their best shooter by miles, was kept too busy running this three-ring circus to shoot much himself - a typical D'Antoni inefficiency), and everyone else would run to the rim and wait to catch lobs. That isn't even basketball to me. It's more like a basketball video game. Popovich, on the other hand, coaches the most aesthetically appealing offense in basketball (though the Divac-Webber-Bibby Kings might've been even more fun to watch). If Ginobili were in some other system, he'd be just another freelancing, perpetually iso'd up swingman. A less gimpy version of McGrady, Rockets Edition. Parker would be just another really quick point guard with flashes of greatness amid long stretches of stupidity. Popovich made them smart, and thereby interesting, players. Spurs ball is all about creating easy shots, not forcing spectacularly difficult ones. Seeing how they create the shots - the movement off the ball, the post footwork, the passing - is what makes their game so intellectually compelling.

At 10/30/2008 8:20 PM, Blogger blake said...

just got my kobe print! my walls have been bare for a year and a half. NO LONGER

At 10/30/2008 10:42 PM, Blogger Joey said...

I vacillate between emotional poles when I consider D'Antoni. I love that he's sarcastic. I love that he's a good guy. I love that he is audacious and confident enough to do his thing. (I don't think it's coincidence that Shaq and "convention" came to Phoenix and Mike left.) But I hate that his teams don't defend. I hate that his teams are soft when they play a real hardbody team. And I hate the cult of Nash that D'Antoni helped create, even if that's unfair in many respects.

I caught the game. More than anything else, it was fun. Fun to win. Fun to not look ugly. Fun to root for Lee, for the new Matrix, for Crawford (a Michigan man). I still hate most of the players and how the team is constituted, but time heals wounds and we're starting to move on. I think.

PTI was amazing today: over under 82 DNP-CD's for Steph and Curry this year. Let's hope it's WAY over.

wv: rescul--being saved from ridicule. Apropos of this subject.

At 10/31/2008 1:15 AM, Blogger redrawblak said...

i think a major part of the new manifesto needs to be freeing ourselves from the tyranny of mainstream media. rubberstamp we shall not. we hate the knicks because of perception and portrayal, not substance. embrace the knicks, their ugliness and dichotomies, like we embrace the complexities of gerald wallace or amare stoudemire. don't listen to everyone else, bethlehem...listen to yourself. just don't put any faith in q-rich...wilson chandler will supersede him within two months.

At 10/31/2008 1:35 AM, Blogger The Governor said...

Wilson Chandler is going to be a beast. I mean a real beast. Him and danilo are your future. Might as well start them all now.

At 10/31/2008 8:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I prefer a world in which the Knicks are competitive...at least watchable.

Anyone catch Admo without the long locks. The dude looks like a drown rat, but it is somehow an improvement.

I met a military fellow afew years ago in Bolivia that told me "Ponytails are for pony's."

Simple statement, but so true.

At 10/31/2008 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell me there is a JR picture in the book. And that there will be a print available at some point.

At 5/17/2013 4:41 PM, Blogger Jim Philips said...

it is a pity that you didn't do it. I would like to follow your live blog. It makes things a little bit more interesting. Specially if it is related to sports and I can use Sportsbook Applications for my smart phone.


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