Bearings on my T-Shirt

This wasn't going to be a DEATH OF THE BIG MAN post, but screw it. Welcome to the DEATH OF THE BIG MAN era. The AI-for-Billups trade seals the deal. What a fantastic occurrence. This deal is good for both sides, except Denver has way more to lose. All I hear on the message boards is how, yay, Carmelo finally "has a legit point guard" (taken from ESPN's featured comment), but I'm not sure Billups was ever a true (read: pass-first) point guard. He's had some good assists averages with the Pistons over the years, but ironically I think where he'll help most is giving the Nugs a legit outside shooting threat. Wait a second. Is Billups just a more battle-tested clutcher version of Andre Miller?

Who cares. The focus of everything is back on 'Melo, and I am looking forward to 'Melo leading the league in PPG. Plus, Billups' experience cannot be overrated here. He is the type of dude to get the Nuggets past the first round.

[Also, it's officially appropriate to use the nickname MCNUGGET again!!!! This trade is AWESOME.]

Of course the more significant aesthetic component of the trade is Iverson in Detroit, which is immediately giving me flashbacks to the first 15 seconds of this:

Iverson belongs in Detroit like Nick Saban belongs in Alabama. I think this is going to reignite Sheed and Rip's hunger, and have the exact same effect on the team as when Rasheed joined in the 03-04 season. Also, I love how implicitly the entire league seems to want to make AI happy. Give him C-Webb, trade him to a contender (Denver), ok, trade him to a REAL contender. If KG gets a ring, it's just dead wrong if AI doesn't get his.

And so it is, little guys rule the earth. The fall of Oden opening was no coincidence. It was a signifier...

I'm hopped up on some ill green tea right now so I'm having a hard time gathering my thoughts, but let me keep it on the topic of guard dominance would like to point everybody's attention to Russell Westbrook, who I had the pleasure of watching last night. If Westbrook isn't starting over Earl Watson by December, I'm putting a bounty out on PJ Carlessimo who has been killing this team with his starting lineups since last year (PUT KD AT PF, and make Jeff Green sixth man!!!). I'm not sure I'm sold on Westbrook being as good as Derrick Rose, and it's too early to put him on that CP3/Deron Williams level, but the kid is just sick at getting to the rim...

...and it appears "ability to get to the rim" is the new zeitgeist, replacing "ability to play with his back to the basket" as the new championship requirement. I heard some Paxson quote where he was talking about Beasley versus Rose and how in the end it wasn't even close because you "NEED" a guy who can penetrate and get to the cup. Obviously this is nothing new. The Spurs and Lakers champ teams of the early 21st century mastered the inside-outside game with Kobe/Manu/TonyParker/etc breaking down an entire team's defense with penetration, and Rajon Rondo played a critical role for the Celts last year simply in his ability to get in the paint. But of course a central component of the inside-outside game is INSIDE component--the Shaq or Tim Duncan who makes people pay down low. Might we be entering a new age of total little man domination?

Qualifier on DEATH OF THE BIG MAN: Shaq and Duncan and Yao and Amare will continue to tip scales. But I am finally willing to admit that the big man haslost primary relevance. Whereas the last five years set up an environment where guys like Jerome James and Loren Woods could make zillions just because they were seven feet tall, we are approaching an age where Anthony Carter and Jamaal Tinsley might soon be making those millions instead.

Last thing, I would like to remind all of you to VOTE.

This is another thought for another day, but I've spent many a long night wondering whether an Obama presidency would be good or bad for professional basketball. Sure, it would make those NBA Champions visits to the White House less awkward and the sport itself may gain a little more public exposure in the form of errant paparazzi snaps of the president shooting hoops instead of riding on a segway. Maybe it will revive the Michael Jordan analogy. But maybe this Obama as end-of-racism utopia that morons like Dinesh D'Souza, bright guys like Paul Krugman and many others have pushed could adversely affect The Association, to the extent that the NBA is a racialized sphere (which let's face it, it is...). In this reconfiguration of things, Obama stands as some sort of odd contrast to the NBA, not to mention that I think his campaign has expended a lot of white people's "racial" energy. Anyway, I should probably continue this when I've settled down and am not free associating. Perhaps tomorrow. I can't wait for this election to be over.

oh, and on a concluding Note: Click here if you want to see THE RETURN OF STYLE.

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At 11/03/2008 6:16 PM, Blogger Brendan K. said...

Al Jefferson is the last big man.

At 11/03/2008 7:17 PM, Blogger Jason Gill said...

You nailed it about the little man taking over the post, but more than the death of the big man, I see all of this as inversion:

Sheed, as could be imagined, is the archetype, but now 7'6 Yao's go to move is the fade away and the Celtics first option in the post hovers somewhere far far away from KGs residence at 17 feet. The list goes on.

Oden and Shaq are dinosaurs, but as evolution pushed for the t-rex to be geckos, the rest of the bigs didn't die, they just grew wings.

wv- goatines. Marbury's favorite snack

At 11/03/2008 8:04 PM, Blogger m. Alana said...

What does it indicate that the Nuggets are now going to be huge, physically, and the Pistons small? This trade fascinates me. My prognostication is completely blurred.

The pictures are starting to make sense to me. I don't know if that means the relationships between pictures and post are getting simpler or whether it's just making me think harder. And I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Damnit, nothing makes sense anymore.

At 11/03/2008 8:36 PM, Blogger J.E. said...

"... like to point everybody's attention to Russell Westbrook, who I had the pleasure of watching last night. If Westbrook isn't starting over Earl Watson by December, I'm putting a bounty out on PJ Carlessimo who has been killing this team with his starting lineups since last year (PUT KD AT PF, and make Jeff Green sixth man!!!) ..."

I said the EXACT SAME THING about Westbrook to Melas this morning.

I said the EXACT SAME THING about P.J. to Melas last season.

Dr. LIC, always and forever.

At 11/03/2008 8:39 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

I'm just glad that the Westbrook love is spreading.

We have this to look forward to at some point:

At 11/03/2008 11:42 PM, Blogger tray said...

The very worst thing that could happen in my basketball universe is the Death of The Big Man. If every team had its own Duncan, or even its own Arvydas Sabonis, and guard-dominated teams never won shit, I'd be a much bigger fan of the NBA. Fortunately, this can't be a long-term trend. There will always be guys with enlarged pituitaries, and sooner or later ones with actual talent will emerge again. Ah, the return of the back to the basket center - if only there was something we humans could do to immanentize that eschaton.

As for A.I., he is incapable of winning a title, except maybe 10 years from now in some sort of pitiful honorary role. Any team he goes to will be polluted by his inefficiency and failure to Play The Right Way. (I'm actually kind of serious.) Detroit is worse for him now. Fortunately for them his contract expires in a year and some stupid franchise will make the mistake of sticking themselves with this contagion of inefficiency and practice-neglect.

At 11/04/2008 1:11 AM, Blogger goathair said...

Iverson won't play until he's 43. And how is him joining a better team worse for him?

And Arvydas Sabonis as signifier of the vitality of big men? Really? The 7-3 guy who shot threes and threw high post passes? That Arvydas?

At 11/04/2008 1:50 AM, Blogger T. said...

goathair - I suspect tray is referring to the 1980s version of Arvydas - rarely seen, and only rumored to exist. He of the full court game, bounce pass leaving, cutter hitting, "best center of the 80s - including Kareem and Ewing" - that Aryvdas.

At 11/04/2008 2:11 AM, Blogger goathair said...

I'm sure you're right, but no Arvydas ever one a championship. And the whole thrust of the argument makes me want to punch things.

At 11/04/2008 2:51 AM, Blogger tray said...

Yeah, the high post passing Arvydas. High post passing is a lost art. But yeah, this Sabonis would be cool too:


Either way, I just think it was great when there was an NBA version of Ivan Drago. Did you ever hear the guy speak? Absurd. Iverson isn't worse off joining a better team, but he's not winning either. Detroit wasn't winning the Finals with Billups, and this sure doesn't make them any better in the short term. Can you honestly imagine a Iverson-Hamilton backcourt working? I mean... yeah, Hamilton does his best work off the ball curling off picks, it's not as ridiculous as the Marbury-Francis experiment. (Where is Francis now, by the way? It's amazing how both of those guys became so toxic that they just ceased to exist.) But it won't really work out either. If it does, though, that would be an incredible story. The only thing that could make it a better story is if they fired Michael Curry mid-season, Stan Van Gundy style, and brought back Larry Brown.

At 11/04/2008 6:09 AM, Blogger torgo said...

My wife told me about this when she came home from work. I'm living in a blackout, hoping to download games before I see them, and this is about the last thing I could even begin to think would happen.

I don't know what to say, how to react. Maybe, a couple years ago, I'd have welcomed this move. Now? I can't see Iverson distributing the ball to Hamilton, or to Prince, I see a lot more turnovers, much more one on oneishness, just, well, chaos... I mean, it's not like Billups is better than Iverson, but Billups on the Pistons WAS the Pistons. I feel gutshot, but I feel like I should feel happy about this. I feel more stunned about this news coming from my wife than if she'd told me... well, fill in your own shocking revelations from your wife idea.

At 11/04/2008 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like McD will be going right back to the Pistons. So this is really a chance for the Nuggets to get a more traditional point and get under the luxury tax.

I think this deal looks better for the Pistons if they lose one, not two rotation guys.

I am hearing you on the need for explosive players to get to the rim and how they will be rewarded for doing so, but tough mobile big forwards who can pick and pop and defend (McD and PJ Brown) will not make big bucks, but they will be central to winning.

PS Is Yao really any good? I am an east coast guy and dont see him alot, but I always feel like the Celts get the best of him and that I would not want him on my team.

At 11/04/2008 11:04 AM, Blogger americanmidwestsamurai said...

Chief—what kind of Green Tea is this? Is it possibly the same stuff that fuels the imagination of new Spiritual Hoops Warrior Walter Herrmann?! (Is Herrmann the Yin to Andres Biedrins’ Yang?) If so please send me some.

On a side note, I would say the big man is endangered, not extinct.

At 11/04/2008 11:19 AM, Blogger jawaan oldham said...

There is no extinction, just evolution, baby.

At 11/04/2008 11:28 AM, Blogger jstead said...

Denver might not let McD go though, Kenyon and Nene are so darn frail!

Side Note: you gotta check out this Steve Nash video. He's hilarious! Very Will Ferrell-esque

At 11/04/2008 3:28 PM, Blogger ap2626 said...

As far as A. Peterson, his "style" always struck me as somewhat of an odd one. To me, he exists in a sort of weird no man's land between the jaw dropping-WTF did he just do-AND 1 mix tape-video game displays of individual skill of a Barry Sanders or a Reggie Bush, and the somewhat unspectacular but consistent and effective as fuck ethic of a Terrell Davis or a Clinton Portis. That highlight link is a perfect example. It's hard to imagine Sanders not keeping his feet after getting barely tripped up while doing a spin move. Just the same, it's tough to imagine Davis getting stopped a foot short of the goal line. Which is not to say Peterson isn't one of the top 1 or 2 running backs in the game right now. It's just that his highlights tend to invoke the reaction of, "wow-that play worked perfectly," rather than any specific appreciation of his own above and beyond contribution to said play.

The main thing, I think, is that he just doesn't have the freakishly loose ball and socket joints he'd need in order to take full advantage of his totally on point field vision, power and straight line speed.

At 11/04/2008 3:33 PM, Blogger growfauxfinns said...

@ W2- I'm a Rocket fan, have been watching him for awhile, and rather critically as I'm not a fan of big man-centric ball. Yao is one of the best 2 quarter players of the league. Historically that's about what he's got the conditioning for (be it because of injury or the national team or both) and then he starts not being able to finish dunks and such.

But for that 1st and 3rd quarter he's got the best non-power moves of any big man in the game I would say he is a middling-to-slightly-above-average rebounder. His main saving grace past those 2 quarters where only foul trouble can slow him is that he is *always* a good free throw shooter and if he has any juice left in the fourth quarter, offense/defense subbing him and Mutumbo is pretty effective.

At 11/04/2008 5:33 PM, Blogger Jason Gill said...

I see AD as a cannon ball with a gyroscope inside it; he has the most balanced inertia that the NFL has seen for some time. I don't know if I have ever seen a player who executes the full speed open field spin move as well as Peterson. ap2626, you have something on that second spin move AD fails to execute, but the first one that he pulls off is the one that is so much more impressive. Similarly, I find AD more exciting than Reggie Bush, whose potential found itself alive and thrashing in Chris Johnson.

Finally, Brandon Jacobs is the Lebron James of the NFL, that body should not be able to do those things.

/apologizing for subjecting you to my love of football

At 11/04/2008 5:44 PM, Blogger wondahbap said...

AI will finally give them a scorer in crunch time. They lacked that and it cost them when they couldn't overcome serious scoring droughts. Too many times Chauncey tried to make up deficits by long 3's, and Sheed isn't the money in the bank beast he used to be.

I suspect that we will see a passionate AI with Detroit. I think he knew the Melo and the Nuggets were duds. Speaking of Melo, has he forgot what the paint looks like?

At 11/04/2008 8:21 PM, Blogger ap2626 said...

J Gill-

Yeah he's certainly effective, but you rarely see plays from Peterson like those from Bush or especially Sanders where they're doing things you're told don't work from the time you start playing Pee Wee ball, like changing direction and running backwards for five yards behind the line of scrimmage before turning the corner. Or juking five guys out of their jocks. Of course, the flip side of this is alot of those spectacular looking runs gained Barry 2 yards, so in many ways Peterson is more effective, but I just don't think he really has a strong stylistic theme (and, to appease the gods of b-ball at least a bit, isn't that what FD is all about?)

The other thing about him is I can't think of a player who announcers slurp more, barring maybe Favre. Look at that one yard TD run. Enberg acts like it was all Peterson, when really the Vikings line pretty much destroys the defensive front and AP just kind of hops into the end zone. Then in the next play, he makes a good cut upfield, but its otherwise a product of near perfect blocking, and then Enberg hyperventilates. "Can he be caught?! BARELY!" uh no Dick, he got run down from behind by a guy named Jacque Reeves.

I'm pretty much with you on Jacobs. Although if you saw that skit on SNL where Peyton Manning had his shirt off, I'd say THAT body would be the most unexpectedly able to do what it does. And by that I mean throw a football five yards.

At 11/04/2008 10:01 PM, Blogger Jason Gill said...

I think that there's a myth that only one type of stylistic expression in football qualifies as unique: the sanders/bush/hester variety of super juke running.

As I said before, I don't think I've ever seen a player maintain his speed through contact like AD. No one can pull off some of the runs he does, not Chester Taylor not Reggie Bush. He doesn't sacrifice his speed for jukes.

Bush/Sanders going from full speed to standstill to fake someone is only one way of doing it.

At 4/13/2009 1:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...




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