Before I Die and Freeze, Know This All

That's my state of mind now. Or that Russian story I can't remember, where the old couple lives in the snowy cave after the end of the world with nothing but a Scriabin score. Anyone know the name of that one?

If you can't tell, I am still playing catch-up on this season, and might be forever. For one, I haven't spent too much time with the Three Juggernauts, which means until this week I didn't feel confident rattling off bizarre claims about Rondo/KG synergy, or suggesting that Allen's newfound ease is also bringing Boston closer to what I'd imagined last fall. After having spent the entire playoffs defending my right to like the Lakers (not defending the Lakers, mind you), I'm suddenly pretty indifferent to them until they face the Celtics again. Not to get all trad on you, but I actually felt betrayed in those Finals. And while I know LeBron, like Wade, has returned to America with the flame of many nations and their thousand-year histories burning in his breast, it only sunk it last night just how rock-solid that team becomes with a skilled backcourt of Delonte/Williams. Forget my lobbying for Marion—this team has made a leap like Boston, and through sheer sense of purpose could threaten Los Angeles.

All-important sidebar: Big Z has suddenly turned into that Euro big man everyone was trying to draft around 2002. The guy just a hair above Dirk in terms of size, but nearly as much of a shooter, and passes for day. It's funny how much I've come to like him, after years of total indifference. You can expect a similar flip-flop on the Celtics, if it really is Rondo running the show, Ray Allen playing like he used to, and Garnett acting crazy like he's still frustrated and unfulfilled about something. Everyone knows he toned it down last year for the benefit of the year-end DVD. I'll say right here and now that flip-flopping in the face of justification is totally FD. Case in point, Wade this season.

It also dawned on me last week that, during the three weeks I spent on the East Coast doing a good deal of touring/meeting/family stuff, I watched only like one game. And before that, I'd spent most of my viewing time trying to take the pulse of the Warriors (naturally), Beasley, Rose, and all the Grizz. Plus some Blazers, my beloved Hawks, and the Suns when it seemed like Amare was about to take that team over once and for all. But I've missed out on some non-crappy storylines, like the emergence of Devin Harris—I know it happend, but I've scarcely watched him, and really want confirmation that this comes as no surprise to anyone who saw him with Dallas when things were good. Is there that patented qualitative shift, or just an uptick in usage and importance? If he's indeed become a real shooter, and can hit five threes in a game, then I stand corrected, embarrassed, and willing to send him on his new star way. The 30 ppg is unreasonably, but 20+ and some assists sounds right, and even if I maintain he's no true PG, he can pass like crazy, and paired with Carter brings about a surprising redemption of Vince in NJ. He's not soft, he's engaged in a positionally revolutionary project that involves splitting up the responsibilities of the PG and SG.

I also wonder if this, or maybe my over-obvious monitoring of early season youngsters, proves that the league has passed me by. Like when I got this theory together the other day that post-2003 NFL sucks. It just made me sound old. Same way, shouldn't there be other people out there dealing with the chronic condition of TMI we've subjected ourselves to with League Pass. All I've got for this year is Anthony Randolph. And maybe Westbrook. Sorry to get you all down, or suggest that at this point this should be work we all share, but I just haven't had that Julian Wright or Rodney Stuckey moment this season, and Amir has been disappointing, and while I don't feel like it's all been a lie, I wonder if others aren't in a better position to cultivate that fervor. Or curate the exact characteristics of those up-and-coming askew, or askance, or in a way that makes the imagination swell while allowing us to believe with that other side of our brains. You can decide which is right and which is left.

Unrelated, the Birdman is important, almost institutional, now. And I can't stop delighting at how often Hubie employs that nickname. So is J.R. Smith, in a way. They've made flaws and crazy into a kind of accepted role player. Maybe that only works on the Nuggets, but in keeping with the semi-somber tone of this post, it does make me feel like either my work here is done, or the league has changed in ways I need to adjust to. Fucking post-2003 NFL. I can't decide if I'm overjoyed or perplexed that Granger, Harris, and Joe Johnson are up there with Kobe and LeBron in the scoring race. I heart Granger, JJ is FD fam, and Harris, as I've said, I'm almost there with. But are they Kobe and LeBron? This seems to signal some kind of shift, either a slight changing of the guard (fine, fun) or something really disheartening involving platoons.

One serious point that really requires our attention: This whole Boozer situation. I like the Jazz teams of the last few season, and even went so far as to sing Sloan's praises on TSB. But I have to say, it's some serious, subliminal us/country/family/Utah/loyalty bullshit going on with the reaction from Larry Miller and, to a lesser degree, Sloan. Boozer—who admittedly, is an enemy of the blind and tried to get the Jazz to trade him on account of a sick son—simply stated the obvious: That next season, he'd like more money, and maybe to go somewhere where he doesn't have Paul Millsap breathing down his neck. What's not totally obvious about this, especially when he's out with an injury, and Millsap is effectively taking his place? It just strikes me as totally disingenuous to see Miller and Sloan trash Boozer when he's got every reason to try and gain some leverage. And they go and make it into a matter of honor, belonging, and team, which there carries semi-sinister connotations, basically prepping the city to not give a fuck about losing Boozer, and add another plume of ignominy in the guy's cap.

I had a bunch more invective typed, but let's leave it at this: Boozer, out and marginalized, is frank about his situation, and as an All-Star, matters enough to have that right. Especially when it's no surprise, and only radically affects the Jazz's ability to keep him and Millsap. Instead, though, it's spun as an outrage, to such a degree that I can't imagine Boozer wants to come back there now. And that's probably just the effect Miller's going for.

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At 12/20/2008 4:22 PM, Blogger Brendan K said...

I've been living in Mavs country (West Texas) for nearly 3 years years now, and have watching them on my local feed continuously starting with the dominant 06-07 year. Now, with Harris in NJ, I'm only accessing his play through my fantasy life and split stats analysis, trying to make a similar kind of sense of his emergence. I have to say that the numbers corroborate the popular sense that Avery Johnson was choking him a bit, and that he just couldn't have big games behind Stack and Terry. It was like you could tell that he was better than you could tell from his minutes on the court, and now he feels consistently-proven enough to say that the growth really is the organic result of his transplantation.

At 12/20/2008 4:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree Boozer is stating the obvious, but the media or/and the powers that be are not into Boozer. He did the flip flop on the Cavs, he has been INJURED a bunch, and I think he sued Prince. You can't fuck with Prince and get away with it.

I like Boozers game, but Millsap's success makes Sloan look good and Boozer (with the previously stated) bad. MAybe they are tryin to get the fans to sour on him in an attempt to move him.

I think the Cavs were the second best team in the Association last year and I have seen little to change that. Z is great. Easily one of my favorite players.

JJ is playing very well and deserves to be mentioned with the elite players in the game.

Brandon Roy is nice. But I wouldn't put him on the top shelf yet. I feel Harris is in the tier just behind him, with the likes of Rondo and OJ, Durant, and Marvin Williams.

At 12/20/2008 6:46 PM, Blogger Spencer said...

Anyone who follows the Jazz will attest to the fact that while Larry Miller, et al, may have their reasons to be sour on Boozer right now, they are absolutely incapable of p.r. manipulation and/or back room machinations to influence public opinion.

At 12/20/2008 8:35 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

That last picture is NOT something you want to see when you scroll down FD at 7 in the morning without your contacts on, face inches from the screen...


At 12/20/2008 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shoals, on the lines of storylines maybe slept on, here's some unapolegetic Rocket repping:
Aaron Brooks is starting to happen. He's got Devon Harris-like cheat codes for getting to the basket and his jumper's already fully formed.
Plus, seriously, his Dikembe Mutumbo impression is the best EVER.

At 12/20/2008 11:20 PM, Blogger The Other Van Gundy said...


At 12/20/2008 11:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to buffer my thought-

exhibit a: he outrebounded Yao AND Scolandry! tonight

exhibit b: re: immaculate Deke @ :24 & :39 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3MA9m9_FJQ

At 12/21/2008 1:46 AM, Blogger Michael said...

Classic case of not being happy when you get what you want...the way the League is operating right now is very FD-like, but it's so crazy to actually see it happening that it's (perhaps) turning you off a bit?

Granger's playing out of his mind, as is Roy, but I don't think of either of them as very FD. Am I wrong?

Boozer's had some bad PR but mainly, I think, he's done it to himself. Marion on the way out to Miami comes to mind.

At 12/21/2008 3:42 AM, Blogger T.A. Negro said...

I did a post on NBC a month or two ago on Devin being best in the Eastern Conference, right after a stretch of dropping 30 on Bibby, Calderon, Billups, Nash, Deron Williams. Not the shut-down cartel, but still ...

the headline is more a comment on the conference, and Devin is probably more DC Comics than Marvel, but that's still cool. He and Rose (and maybe Stuckey)are the best lead guards in one half of the NBA hemisphere. and that's worth saying if only to offer your tongue some new sensations ...

The Boozer and Utah story is enough to break any old man's heart. damn this world and its impermanence.

At 12/21/2008 4:07 AM, Blogger Nathan said...

goya! sloan eating his young? brilliant. go bayless. go batum.

At 12/21/2008 3:24 PM, Blogger Bhel Atlantic said...

Boozer was stupid. Obviously ESPN likes to manufacture a story about future business intentions: see James, LeBron. If you're just "chatting" with Chris Sheridan, don't say anything about your contract. Just resist! How hard is that?

At 12/22/2008 3:25 AM, Blogger ox said...

Saturn swallowing his children. someone reading joseph campbell?

At 12/22/2008 3:02 PM, Blogger Spencer said...

On the Boozer/Sheridan-gate:


And not to beat a dead horse here, but your response to the Boozer situation still surprises me. Considering the context (Injury/malingering history, aforementioned abuse of the blind, daliance with other/sexier markets, perceived collusion with Derek Fisher on the Escape Clause, matador defensive effort, etc), why shouldn't we expect an outspoken owner on his deathbed in a hospital to be upset at the lack of loyalty/intelligence by one of his employees?

Not that he ever cared what anyone else thought or chose his words carefully, but at this point in his life, Larry Miller has no reason to try Carlos Boozer in the court of public opinion. Love him or hate him, Miller simply says what's on his mind. And when someone who has been so coddled and protected by the team has the audacity to talk extensions on the record immediately after a tough road loss that his absence directly affected, why shouldn't Miller be annoyed?

I understand that Miller's politics and antics don't always win him a lot of friends, but certainly doesn't merit the label of "disengenuous" and certainly not the ridiculous "semi-sinister". Hyperbole becomes you, but that's the kind of loaded/coded language used forever in tenuous exposés of the Illuminati.

At 12/29/2008 1:29 AM, Blogger Robin said...

Granger, JJ, and Harris seem to score out of necessity for the team, whereas the scorings of Kobe and LeBron, currently, seem to be byproducts of their games.

Jameer Nelson might be the best point guard in the east right now. He feels like it's his duty to destroy every team he's up against, and he's doing it in such a tidy and professional manner. Also, I don't know if it's just me, but there seems to be a feeling of vindication/revenge.

At 6/14/2013 3:32 AM, Blogger Jim Philips said...

It sounds like a great book to share with the Host Pay Per Head book club.


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