Bony Tenders

Nothing much of note, just thought I'd check in.

I now write with the disclaimer that I may no longer know what the f I'm talking about. I've been in a post-Al Jefferson knee injury daze for the past few weeks, and then with the news that Amare is out for the postseason, I almost just gave up. Instead, I've been watching all of the games without the sound on, and I actually cannot understand what is going on. As soon as I started watching the games on mute, LeBron seemed like way more of the MVP than Kobe, the Spurs look outstanding, and I am now on the verge of liking Dwyane Wade,

Now Imagine my confusion when I was watching the Wolves game and they flashed the faces, four in a row, of Antawn Jamison, OJ Mayo, David Lee, and Emeka Okafor. What could those four possibly have in common? Turns out it was one of those promos for fans to buy tickets for the upcoming next four games at home: Washington, Memphis, New York, and Charlotte. Depressing for sure.

Yes, enough has been made of the fact that Bynum's out, KG and a ton of Celtics are out, Al Jeff's out, Amare's out, Gilbert is still out, Iverson is teetering, T-Mac is out, most of the Bucks are out, Oden is out, and now Rudy Fernandez but let me make more out of it. We are entering into a swaggerless vortex that might extend into the postseason. Already, I don't want to see the Suns win it simply because it won't "count." Same goes for Rockets if T-Mac isn't there (yes, I know), and that goes double for Portland if Oden and/or Rudy aren't in the mix.

And if KG isn't at full speed, would a Cavaliers or Magic title count? And if the Spurs beat the Suns again, it certainly wouldn't have the same significance as it would if Amare was on the court. Remember those jokes about how the Rockets' mid-90s titles didn't count because Jordan "loaned" them the trophy? I'm starting to get that itchy feeling again.

Right now, the only teams I can fully get behind winning the whole thing is the Denver Nuggets and the NO Hornets (and on a good day, the Jazz). The Nuggets and Hornets aren't expected to beat anyone in the playoffs even an Amare-less Suns. They both have guys in Melo and CP3 who are more deserving of titles than anyone I can think of. Their teams are in tact. Their coaches' futures depend on their success this season. And they dunk a lot.

With a month left in the regular season, I thought I'd have more than that to cheer about. Please give me some other good news, if anyone cares to.

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At 3/10/2009 12:42 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

winning the championship because of your opponents' injuries is a pretty big part of the game. there aren't a lot of years that i can remember (starting from the lockout year) in which the championship wasn't tainted by injuries.

At 3/10/2009 12:53 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I see two distinct, possibly opposed, vectors here: Teams winning without enough swagger for you to believe in them, and teams winning because the swagger (or just strength) of those around them is lower than it should be.

At 3/10/2009 1:12 PM, Blogger Zydruuuunas said...

That first pic is depressing

At 3/10/2009 1:14 PM, Blogger Alexander J said...

While there may be a legitimate dearth of "phenomenal" swag as the playoff picture currently stands, the most swaggerific potential lays dormant on the Clippers as far as I can tell, the sheer length of the playoffs will unwield some kind of straight to DVD tale that will spin in our heads until Tyreke Evans is ruining some franchise's future.

You guys gonna link to that NYT article about ranking middle schoolers for the purposes of college recruiting?

This blog is kind of like chief wiggum's chili; that one dude who came on strong, but emptily with some angry anti-Arenas commentary is kind of like Flander's overhyped 5 alarm batch.

At 3/10/2009 1:31 PM, Blogger Joel Byron Barker said...

I am not sure if you have defined what you mean by swagger, but it ain't, by my definition, all that. Injuries are part of the game, part of the way that fate plays a hand in each season's story.

I say that after nearly busting a hole in the television of my favorite watering hole while trying to get at Ariza's neck. It certainly does not make me happy, but it sure gets me riled up for the April 10 Blakers rematch.

I expect that some of the same people that would bemoan the storyline should a title come with an asterisk also berate coaches who build their team around a glass-limbed player. Sam Bowie, where are you now? I think I can hear Marcus Camby tapping on the window of the Hall of Fame.

These players that you want healthy are mostly old guys. Their infirm state is part of their story, part of the challenge that we watch them surmount.

I want the season to be a great story, and a great story needs surprise and heartbreak.

At 3/10/2009 1:33 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Yes, injuries are good for narrative, but so are characters at their fullest. So while I think the Hornets' season is shaping up to be something awesome, you can't say that an Amare-less Suns adds much to the equation.

At 3/10/2009 1:42 PM, Blogger Bhel Atlantic said...

Bynum, Garnett, Arenas, Iverson, and Oden will (probably) be back on the floor in April.

That leaves us mourning the demise the Bucks and the Wolves. Plus we get to verify the "Ewing Theory" as it applies to Phoenix and Houston. Kind of fun, I think.

At 3/10/2009 2:06 PM, Blogger Case said...

I could get behind the Jazz to win it all simply because i finally saw some fire out of deron williams in that uncomfortable confrontation he had with Dahntay Jones last week against the Nuggets. I truly believe that no one can guard this guy one-on-one. It appears that D-Will is a humble, "swag"less dude who loves gettin' his teammates involved. But how can you not enjoy this guy when you see him puttin' people on skates, breakin' ankles left and right, freezin' defenders right before he knocks a jumper in their grill? To finally see him get angry and not back down (thank you dahntay jones) and lose that "humble" facade, that's just icing on the cake.

D-Will = People's Champ

At 3/10/2009 2:43 PM, Blogger FunWithLogic said...

About Wade: I feel like he is currently actualizing what could have been had Shaq not come in and take over the aura of the Heat in Wade's second year. I see the same energy and excitement in that team as I did in 03-04.

Had Shaq not been traded to the Heat, might they have somewhat been what they are, now? If you can erase the past 5 years and start over without stigma, aren't they/isn't he rootable?

Also, who is the most stable/healthy player who FD usually roots for? I'd really like to know because yes, it looks like all of the heroes are wounded and we are left with mere unfeeling process....

At 3/10/2009 5:22 PM, Blogger Brendan K said...

I know you mentioned the Jazz, but I'm mostly clinging to Deron Williams. And luckily we've still got top-shape Lakers, Spurs, and Hornets to watch them play in the postseason. Not that I'd ever cheer for Utah, but D-Wil might become the Alpha.

At 3/11/2009 12:54 AM, Blogger Richard said...

I never hear you guys mention the Mavericks.
I mean never.
Despite the fact that they are the new Golden State.
How can you not like Dirk, best year of his career? JJ Barea? Brandon fucking Bass? Jason 'the glove' Terry?
Come on, they've been fun to watch lately. Mention them as the team who will lose in six awesomely fun games to the Lakers, who like the Yankees and Redwings, were birthed from Satan's loins just a few years after Hitler and MacDonalds.

At 3/11/2009 1:30 AM, Blogger El Presidente said...

Ryan Hollins had a bizarre impact on the Suns/Mavs game tonight. He broke up like 3 alley-oop attempts, and finished +18 in 14 minutes, best of the game. He smells FD.

At 3/11/2009 9:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am surprised that the Darko crew has not stepped to this delicious morsel.

-The Thunder are winning games without one of the five most exciting players in the NBA. A player who has been compared to Jordan. What gives?

At 3/11/2009 2:56 PM, Blogger Jerry Vinokurov said...

If the 8th-seeded Mavs knock off the Lakers, it would be a beautiful inversion of 2007. It's also only going to happen in my dreams.

At 3/11/2009 4:25 PM, Blogger Evan said...

This post is a little silly.

A.) Since when is Melo deserving of anything? Routinely the guy fails to live of up to expectations even though many of those are rather lofty.

He's shown he can be a punk. He hasn't shown much of a dedication to becoming a better rebounder (which he could excel at greatly) or better defender (he'll never be elite but he could be much better). And hasn't exactly shown he's the greatest of teammates.

Since when does that make you deserving of a title?

Paul is almost the polar opposite. Kills himself night in, night out. Improves his game yearly. Doesn't bitch. What else do you want?

Also mentioning the suns as a contender or saying they could compete with the spurs this year (with or without Amare) is clinging to a memeory. That team will never be what it was.

At 3/12/2009 6:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Injuries are devastating but there is always a silver lining in that we get to see the emergence of other talents that wouldn't have seen the light of day. Think Wafer, Sefolosha, Gomes, Courtney Lee and Sessions. Instead of bitching about injuries which occur every year why aren't we celebrating the rise of the Thunder as a dark horse playoff candidate for next season, or the squads fighting for the last playoff spots the east between teams (see NY, CHA) which are constantly evolving by the day. What makes the Knicks so interesting to watch is you never know which lineup D'Antoni will field and who will end up taking the big shots (today it was Q-Rich of all people), or how the Bobcats seem to operate under two distinct ideologies- the fundamental, team-oriented, defensive-minded attitudes of Raja, Emeka, and Larry Brown, and on the other hand, the wild, elusive, improvisational, yet effective approach of Wallace, Diaw, and Augustin (Felton defies categorization here due to his general ineptitude). These teams aren't merely inconsistent; their identity changes with every game, to the point where their metamorphosis as a team will not be complete even as (if) they enter the playoffs. If anything, this year injuries, trades, and having guys who don't belong playing with each other on the same team (PHX, DET) seem to make for the most intriguing storylines. Seeing which team identities come to fruition will make for an all the more interesting home stretch.

P.S. Don't forget how big a loss Martell Webster was for the Blazers this season. His three-point shooting would do wonders for the first unit, allowing Roy and Aldridge to have more freedom.

At 3/16/2009 6:27 PM, Blogger Robert said...

@ Evan

Melo deserves a championship because he HAS in fact improved, both in ways you fail to remark on and in those ways that you do.

We'll forget for a second that he is posting career highs in both rebounds and assists, and a career low in attempts/game. He is playing a more complete game, and he has started making a habit of stepping up when his team needs him. Don't believe the Chauncey hype - he's good, and he brings a lot, but without Melo or KMart this team is toast. The thing he has struggled to reconcile with a more physical inside presence this year is his mid-range touch, which has been sporadic, but is coming around back to automatic as we move along.

Besides the fact that he IS in fact a better teammate, defensive presence, and post player, Melo deserves this more than others (and as much as Paul) because he embodies something liberating about playing basketball. When he gets hot his swag reminds me of putting a sick move on your older brothers - tongue out, grinning like a 6 year old, not hunching the shoulders and rumbling up the court like a gorilla, but shambling out and looking around like "Yall havin a good time too?"

I love that. It's not just the baby-fat. His expectations aren't as high as his draft class colleagues, and he brings a lot more boyish joy to the game than either Lebron or Wade. He deserves to have that rewarded as much as anybody who simply loves to play should be smiled on by fate every once in a while.

Does he still have steps to take? Certainly. The whole team does, except Kmart and Chauncey. But Melo blends the experience and poise of those guys with the overall youth of the rest of the guys, like JR or (in a lot of ways) Nene.

Don't talk smack on Melo. He's a good player, his touch is unparalleled, and he's a lot more fun to watch than anyone else that could be gunning for a championship besides CP3. Yes - I'm a Nuggies fan. Yes - that means I'm not considering D-Will. I pity the "liberated" fan.

Also, Melo is a huge philanthropist - this was pointed out in the book.


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