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.