Clutter About Light
BREAKING: First huge trade. I like to think this means Miami gets a center, straightens out their frontcourt for Beasley's sake—though Ziller points out that Brad Miller could've done the same thing for cheaper—and the Raptors now get their run on. It also depends on how much you believe Marion and JO are "done" or, for the purposes of this site, irrelevent. It would be funny if this lead to the real creation of "Suns North", with Marion once again the lynchpin of it all. Would say more, but I'm off to see Joan Rivers.
I have a celebrity birthday to tend to this weekend, on top of Valentine's Day, so I'll be low-key until my Sunday TSB column sums it all up. There might be a live-blog but at some point, but for all intents and purposes you can consider this an All-Star Weekend open thread.
To get you in the mood:
-Read me at The Sporting Blog, where I've been writing a decent amount about this weekend.
-Those zany Jupiters now have their own site, and a 2009 version of their annual All-Star role call.
-Me, among much bigger names, on a virtual ESPN mag panel on the Dunk Contest. My answers were edited, and this was all before J.R. Smith was in, but it's nice to see my name up in lights like that.
I spent the first part of the week in Portland, including a Powell's experience was overwhelming in every way imaginable. Also, big ups to the Comcast post-game television show. I read this novel once in college about a Nazi doctor who fucked with people's vocal chords to the point where their ability to speak (and thus think and exist) was reduced to something primordial, and with it, he felt like he was getting at human nature itself. That's what "Talkin' Ball" is like when the comedian is on.
The game I took in on Wednesday, which I wrote up here, really illustrated something myself and Ziller have been talking about. Greg Oden had 10 rebounds, almost all of them memorable. Jared Bayless chipped in a career-high 8 assists, and I only recall one or two of them. This brought me back to a conversation Tom and I had, where I pointed out how easily, maybe even unimpressively, LeBron had racked up his assists in his MSG showcase (like that it's not even a Knicks game?). His contention was that very few assists stick with you; I took it further, and now firmly believe that consistent production in either assists or rebounds is almost always ambient in nature, occurring seamlessly within the flow of the game. These plays only stand out if they are either flawed, or risky and thus imperfect in the formal sense, or dramatic, which usually comes with one or both of these other two characteristics.
When Oden's active, his springiness and size are truly awe-inspiring, but they're made all the more evident by how often he bobbles a rebound, or has to go up twice to reel it in. On the other hand, Russell Westbrook—who takes my "blocks like he's dunking" axiom and applies it to rebounding—was a monster on the glass, but almost always lept in out of nowhere, or over multiple Blazers. Obviously this "noteworthiness" is better than the other not only because it works, but because it's intentional, rather than accidental. In Bayless, you have assists showing up in the most "ambient" way possible. Tom pointed out that Chris Paul has plenty of these, two, and that his highlights often result from exploiting opportunities others can't see. This is familiar FD territory, I know, so I'll shut up after this: Contrast that with Nash, whose pre-Shaq assists always stick with you. That's because almost all of them are risks, based on assertiveness rather than patience, and often take unfamiliar paths.
Anyway, happy weekend, and keep us in your thoughts!