News to Me


Am I the only person on the planet who didn't know that Paulette Reaves is the mother of Josh Smith? Her current site has some candids of her with Amare, Nash, and others.

Like you need FD to tell you that LeBron is almighty. Read The Baseline tomorrow for my thoughts on the game. Some other random shit will probably show up here around the same time.

UPDATE: Excuse whatever chippiness follows, because my internet connection is once again totally unreliable and it makes my increasingly professional life a total mess. Fuck writing serious emails on a phone. Anyway, I know I've been scarce around these parts. It's got a lot to do with the new gig; I'm trying to both 1) figure out the hang of it 2) divert traffic from here to there (sorry if that's a huge sinister surprise). So if anyone has advice or feedback on either of these counts, let me know. I can pretty much write whatever I want, and it's really only the recaps/previews I've gotten bogged down with, but every writer is these days (power of repetition = power + repetition. Which means no need for "experts" after a point.)

That said, from last night's Bron/Magic post, here's the FD money shot that would've fit very nicely into this site's special place:

The Magic have been better in this series than they've been at any time during the season (or playoffs, of course). That Turkoglu shot, a mirror image of Lewis's heroics from Game 1, looked like it had capped off, or kicked off, a new glory era for the Magic. No matter how unlikely it all seemed, it would be damn hard to argue with after this. I know that athletes can taste victory, but for once, I understood why that language exists.

But the Magic don't have LeBron James. And while we know stars can lose, upsets can happen, and our preconceptions can be wrong, James is the ultimate superstar. In that, he's both breathtaking and boring. We're watching a career unfold that's already HOF-bound, maybe even the best ever, and yet it all feels so inevitable. And so it was with that shot. Of course James would make it and put everything in its right place. The second -- and yeah, it was literally a second -- the ball went his way, you thought "this is how it's supposed to happen, isn't it?" You realize that "scripted" and "storybook" differ only in connotation.

It had to happen, and as shocking as it was, you could only be so surprised. But isn't that what makes LeBron so ridiculous? He's conditioned us to not only expect the impossible, but take it for granted.

See, it lives! And yes, I took out two really weird sentences that are what happens when I write too late, under some deadline of some sort. Those always make me anxious, as opposed to the sense of urgency, or competitiveness, that used to spur me on when it was totally self-imposed. Welcome to America, I guess.

-While we're on the subject of me saying shit that could potentially hurt my future interest, I find it weird that in that fat dude swimming adidas ad, KG is cast as both less (cardboard shoes) and more (world champs!) fortunate in the grand socio-economic scheme of things than Jim, or whatever his name is. It's like NBA players' former poverty has been mythologized, turned into a necessary part of how high they'll one day rise. It's teleology, and Horatio Alger, and frankly kind of gross. At best, there's a disconnect between "kid plays on dirt and goes on to dominate American sports" and "ordinary schmo loses job during recession." The former is both fantastic and in our society, totally familiar; the latter is cast as the salt-of-the-earth feat of bravery. We're all ordinary people, unless we're too poor, then we might as well be rich because we'll end up cagers or rappers.

Fuck a photo, I have to go watch a movie about Chechnya. Will be live tonight.

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At 5/23/2009 10:38 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

Whoa. I didn't think it was possible for Shoals's two primary interests to converge so profoundly at one person.

At 5/23/2009 12:59 PM, Blogger Marc said...

James is the ultimate superstar. In that, he's both breathtaking and boring.... We're watching a career unfold that's already HOF-bound, maybe even the best ever, and yet it all feels so inevitable....You realize that "scripted" and "storybook" differ only in connotation.... isn't that what makes LeBron so ridiculous? He's conditioned us to not only expect the impossible, but take it for granted. will you just cut it out with the "so good he's bad" bullshit about Lebron? It says more about your failures as a sportwriter than about his career; what you're writing about is your weird inability to connect with an athlete who millions of people already do connect with. So cop to it and think about what's going on with you rather than decrying the blandness of the era's best emerging star, one who has already given us six years full of drama and narrative twists unique to his story.

As far as that narrative goes, LBJ is still a highly imperfect player, in ways that are quite evident in the very series and game you are writing about, and his future is far from scripted. There's nothing generic about James.

At 5/23/2009 1:10 PM, Blogger djturtleface said...

I can't add anything because the Baseline article actually read my mind. Like impossibly so, I've never read anything that more closely mirrored my own sympathies.

For some irrational reason I actually feel kind of filthy and unoriginal because of it.

At 5/23/2009 1:24 PM, Blogger Sean C. said...

Shoals, Marc is right: you clearly are a failure of a sportswriter, with your published book and your various gigs at popular web sites. You should take a cue from him and only offer words of praise for one of the most popular athletes in the world semi-anonymously on the Internet; then you'll truly be a success!

Seriously, that potshot was pretty stupid. It is possible, you know, to make a coherent counter-agrument without having to insult the views or career of the person you're disagreeing with. I know this is probably all very new to you Marc, but perhaps you're a quick learner and won't continue to troll here.

At 5/23/2009 2:00 PM, Blogger Sonnet 6:23 said...

This was an unbelievably irritating game to watch. It was so irritating because it demonstrated to me everything I HATE about the Cavs and everything I HATE about the Mythology of Lebron.

The Cavs are the most annoying team to watch because they represent two things I hate in basketball; the flop, and the superstar bubble. Anderson Varejao is of course the King-of-Flop. Nuff said. Big Z plays dirty - he's always wrapping up players or pushing off them as they come around screens. At several points he out and out shoved Magic players - no call. That Ben Wallace charge *coughblockcouch* was infuriating. But to me the most irritating non-call of the night was on the Lebron drive to the basket where he missed, got the brick, went up, and Dwight got whistled for the foul as he stood hands up, turning slightly. This annoyed me because Bron literally took the ball under his arm like a halfback and pushed of Turko, and then got the call underneath because he 'deserved' it. (Can I also mention how Gortat got whistled for two terrible blocks in a row)..... Anyways, Bron superstar, Anderson flop, Z dirty, etc etc.... Frustrating.

The thing that actually pissed me off about Bron's game winner isn't that it was a bad call etc etc... What annoyed me is that in this playoffs of awesome buzzer beaters (how many were there Cs-Bulls, 37 different beaters), somehow Bron's is just part of a growing mythology....

I get it. He's amazing. Yay! Lets just not trip over ourselves to give him the G.O.A.T. Crown.

At 5/23/2009 2:19 PM, Blogger VictorVonRimp said...

Let's get the first point out of the way: I don't think your opinion of our liege makes you a poor writer. There's no reason to say that.
BUT. I do disagree with your take on LBJ. You cannot possibly tell me that moment is boring. 100 people in the bar i was at, and it was PANDEMONIUM. Screaming, yelling, hugs from complete strangers. Were you watching the game at a wine tasting in an art gallery with the literati? In that setting, perhaps their subdued reaction might make it seem boring.
Perhaps you are more caught up with the media and the pushing of lebron as a the next MJ. this may have convinced you that his ascension is in some way inevitable and preordained. Is that why it seems boring to you, like a rehash of when kobe was trumpeted, wade, etc?
I don't know how you can run a site founded on the appreciation of the sublime individual, and then discount the most amazing individual's shining moments of greatness.
Perspective: Lebron, since 16, has carried more hype than anyone ever before him. PERIOD. Jordan set the bar, but had the luxury of being the first of his kind. No one saw him coming, and it made everything he did seem so unreal. We just could'nt calibrate our expectations of him, because we had nothing to compare him to.
Now, LBJ on the other hand. We have a comparison point. He wears MJs number. He isn't sneaking up on anyone. And, amazingly, he consistently continues to surpass our expectations. Is this not exciting? Even the guys on sportscenter took a break from the program to recount what it was like to watch that last second, like, "we are going to step out of ourselves, and tell you how fucking cool this is, even to us, who watch a 1000 highlights a night. This is why we are in sports."
Every year, he adds to his legend, and seems to rise to the occasion more consistently than anyone in the world not named Tiger Woods.
Let's call what he did on Friday what it really was. A miracle. If you discount this, remember that it is Cleveland. Yeah, its a miracle.
Now, game 3 and 4, which lets not forget about...

At 5/23/2009 3:04 PM, Blogger Alexander J said...

I never saw that shot live; I get things only on web-based highlights. Cleveland people must be going crazy; but y'all got Major League's I and II, what IS good enough for the people of Cuyahoga County?

Craig Ehlo gets a reprieve, finally; that's the really story to me.

At 5/23/2009 3:16 PM, Blogger Edellaine said...

I think you need to renew your domain...

At 5/23/2009 3:36 PM, Blogger Abe said...

I agree with sonnet 6:23. While a tad hyperbolic, "Let's just not trip over ourselves to give him the G.O.A.T. Crown."

At 5/23/2009 3:54 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

@ edellaine:

domain is renewed - we were trying to transfer it from godaddy to hostmonster (for reasons too boring to describe) and hit a little snag. problem should be fixed by tomorrow.

(for those wondering what the fuck we're talking about, it's the redirect from freedarko.com to the blogspot address). anyway, nothing to worry about. our name is our name, for at least another 18 months.

At 5/23/2009 7:33 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

Some time during the Celtics-Magic series I commented that I'm starting to hate the last-second, game-winning shot. Probably after that Big Baby basket. Afterward, I thought that the one exception to this growing distaste would the LSGWS that's made in furtherance of a legend. LBJ's bucket last night will certainly be part of his mythos. One one hand, for that reason, it was really fucking cool. Contra Pasha Malla's recent observations, seeing a legendary shot in the making can be just as good as one's personalized memory of a mythological moment. But like Shoals, I found that the understood mythology of last night's LSGWS undermined my enjoyment of it a little bit. It's already on the highlight reel that the future will watch.

Plus, take care of your fucking business in the first 47 minutes and 59 seconds. That would impress me even more than 1-second heroics.

wv: karcaf--Darko's Sietch name

At 5/23/2009 7:34 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

Were you watching the game at a wine tasting in an art gallery with the literati?What's it like in Real America?

At 5/23/2009 7:46 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Let's get a few things straight:

1. Of course I thought it was exciting. Some of you are so hung up on "boring"—deliberately provocative, of course, look within yourselves—that you missed the second half of that construction. Or the fact that all the descriptions of James are paradoxes. I fell out off of my couch, then made my girl watched the replay three times with me. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen in sports. And yet when they got the ball with one second left, the atmosphere wasn't as desperate as it should be in those situations. Because that's what LeBron does—he forces you to suspend all disbelief and accept his cosmic inevitability. To the point where it's a given. That's fucking amazing. As are the plays he makes. But there is that "I got this" element to him that only Tiger can match.

Sidenote: Am I the only person who noticed his tip to Williams at the end of Game 1, the preamble to this in terms of "LBJ will make it happen?"

2. When I talk about inevitability, it's not about the hype surrounding him, it's about his game. Dude is like Kobe/Shaq in one player. Money all the time. Those Lakers teams were awe-inspiring and kind of a pain in the ass. LeBron is like nothing I've ever seen, and part of that is this sense that he really can't be stopped. Is that boring? Sort of. But it's also breathtaking. Get it? I CONTAIN MULTITUDES, LIKE KING JAMES!!!!!

3. I have written as much as any person on Earth about the metaphysical implications of LeBron James. If anything, the fact that all of that seems familiar, even prosaic, now is like the way motherfuckers go to church and don't think about the words to the songs.

If you don't understand the concept of LeBron being a little boring, you deserve no better than Kobe.

At 5/23/2009 10:09 PM, Blogger tray said...

I've never even been able to get the concept of Tim Duncan being a little boring. But that's different. I see your point about LeBron. Everything he does feels like this part of a preordained script. Youthful (but ever so precocious) losses, followed by defining shots, which will inevitably be followed by the first of many championships. It's like it's all already happened.

At 5/23/2009 10:11 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Duncan is landscape.

What you describe with LeBron, it's almost uncanny. Can the uncanny be boring? The boring uncanny?

At 5/23/2009 10:25 PM, Blogger Sonnet 6:23 said...

Duncan is one of my favorite players of all time. He is militantly effective in everything he does. Beast. Beast.

A second thought; Nuggs V Cavs final, who covers Bron? In the starting lineup I could see Melo v Bron - but when Birdman is in for K-Mart I would love to see Birdman on Bron. He's playing solid on Odom tonight, who is a less aggressive, slightly slower version of the same type of player. I think Bird's length and energy could give real trouble, where other PFs have issues playing on Bron.

At 5/23/2009 10:28 PM, Blogger Sonnet 6:23 said...

Also, sitting here watching Nug Lakers, I am so tired of seeing Luke Walton's face. He can't shoot, defend, handle, pass... the last good play he made was a Varejao style flop.

At 5/23/2009 10:59 PM, Blogger tray said...

I don't know if the uncanny can be boring but I feel like I should go read Freud's essay on 'The Uncanny,' which happens to be sitting here in my desk drawer. And I'd be interested in an elaboration of Duncan as landscape.

At 5/23/2009 11:42 PM, Blogger DJ Slick Watts said...

A couple years ago, the following statement sold me on this site (forgive the possibly inaccurate paraphrase): "Kobe answers hard questions; LeBron is inventing a whole new syntax."
That's absolutely true on the court. But I think what accounts for "boredom" with LBJ is that in terms of his narrative or his mythology or whatever, the questions he's answering aren't even hard. It's like he's doing his times tables.
By the way, Shoals, and I type this both committed to reading both sites as long as they're operant and fully cognizant of what a guy's gotta do to sustain his passion projects: FD is inventing a new syntax, or at least new questions, and the Baseline is answering old, hard questions.

At 5/24/2009 4:08 AM, Blogger Phoebus said...

There's just nothing punk about Bron, which is what we want, rage and unpredictability in the face of certainty. Even Jordan wasn't a sure thing, which made his ascent a lot more bearable. Watching the halftime show tonight during lakers-nuggets, which was more exhilarating, LBJ's shot from last night or MJ's?

thought so.

At 5/24/2009 4:18 AM, Blogger tray said...

Well Phoebus, in defense of LeBron, it was far from a sure thing that LeBron would hit that three. He doesn't make that many of them. Maybe that's too low-flying a point for this pretty metaphysical discussion, but I'm still surprised that he hit that shot. In the bigger picture, though, of course one does expect iconic last-second heroics from LeBron at one point or another. But that particular shot, I'd say, was actually a great deal less a sure thing than Jordan's. Statistically, anyway.

At 5/24/2009 10:16 AM, Blogger Mercurialblonde said...

I both thought he might hit the shot, and knew he wouldn't. I thought in this instance that the otherworldy loserdom of cleveland sports would jump up and try and land an uppercut on Lebron's legacy. 0-2, probably on the way to 4-1 or 4-0, and the season a shamble.

I was already planning to not watch the rest of the series and enter into a deep sports depression.

When he hit that shot, it was just chills. It was this awesome crossroads of so many moments, past, present, and future. It was an almost tarot card moment.

It took me half an hour to even process it.

I watched Jordan growing up, so I thought I was immune to feeling that level of awe in basketball anymore. But if anything that made this even more potent.

I don't get how Lebron could be boring. But I get what Shoals is saying(just not the few of you who lept on boring as your queue to try and hate on Lebron).

Taking a step back for a minute, look at what this man is doing in the playoffs as a whole right now. He may be having one of the greatest runs of all-time. People who have a problem with it, I don't view any diffrently than the Jordan haters growing up. The ones who touted Bird and Magic's superiority even past the second championship. The "well maybe he's not better than Drexler" crew that sort of shambled around behind Jordan for a lot of his career.

It sucks to be on the wrong side of history, and when you're on it this far into it, I think a certain level of delusion has taken hold. You are willfully trying not see greatness.

Anywho. Incredible moment. And Shoals has been one of the best writers about Lebron on the interwebs.

At 5/24/2009 3:39 PM, Blogger Marc said...

To be clear, I wasn't saying or implying Shoals was a bad writer generally. He's terrific, which is why I come here.

However, he has a specific blind spot about Lebron, which does make him a limited writer about LBJ in particular. Lebron is boring to Shoals not because Lebron is, actually, boring, but because Shoals is resistant to LBJ and his story. Of course, boring is a subjective quality, but art criticism (which is the attitude that Shoals brings to the NBA as an aesthetic experience) makes the subjective objective through the process of superior aesthetic judgement. Bad art criticism mistakes the reviewers prejudices for the quality of the art.

Two points: First, if you lived in Cleveland during Lebron's rise, or if you are a Cleveland sports fan, you completely understand that Lebron is not inevitable or boring. The notion that a Cleveland championship would be boringly inevitable, in the manner of the Yankees or Lakers, is absurdly far off and rests on a sort of lazy inability to imagine yourself into the Cleveland situation. Lebron and Northeast Ohio are inextricably linked, it is in his essence.

Second, unlike Jordan, Lebron is a flawed player skills-wise. He is also saddled with highly flawed and imperfect teammates. Through his career he has consistently been forced to face those flaws. His athleticism, heart, character, and intelligence have been large enough to encompass and overcome those flaws in one sense. But in another sense, they haven't -- he still hasn't won a championship. Being hand-wavingly dismissive of this complex narrative because you think you already know the final outcome is not exactly an accurate representation of what has been happening on the basketball court. It also ignores the fact that you don't actually know the final outcome.

At 5/24/2009 3:46 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

This is the first thing I've ever written that didn't make it sound like LeBron was a divine being changing the game of basketball. If you think I'm underselling the "flaws" in his game, that's not the same as a "blind spot." I think he transcends "flaws" because he seems to so easily overcome/shed them each season (month?).

Again, I don't know why you'd say I was "resistant to LBJ and his story" when I basically think he's bigger than Jesus and inspiring beyond belief. You mean I give him too much credit? Okay, fine, that's a legitimate complaint. Maybe I am underestimating how human he is. Or, not interested in conflating him with Cleveland to the degree you seem to want to.

Again "boring and breathtaking." Did I say which one he ultimately was? No, because there's no hierarchy there. And I'm not talking about how we perceive his narrative, or what it means to a city, but just what he does on the court. He's going to get to the basket every time. Watching how he finds a way to do it is always going to astound you.

I would be interested in having a debate about who is more "flawed," Kobe or LeBron.

At 5/24/2009 3:50 PM, Blogger Marc said...

Oh, and I think I do get the feeling Shoals is trying to reify into a summarizing judgement of Lebron -- it's that sense that Lebron's athletic talent is so big, and his attitude toward the game so by-the-books healthy, that it's simply inevitable or foreordained that he'll find some way to cruise past whatever barriers are in his way. But when he came into the league it seemed equally obvious to plenty of people that LBJ was overhyped and would never challenge for the GOAT. The feeling of inevitability that is vaguely in the air now is

A) false...it is far from inevitable that he'll even win this series, let alone multiple championships with the Cavs (and if he wins them with anyone else it will be a failure and a flaw in his destiny), and

B) a product of a complex narrative of work, effort and choices by both the star and the team. Seizing on a vague feeling of inevitability as an excuse to ignore that narrative or brush it aside is just belittling the whole thing.

At 5/24/2009 3:53 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

You got me, I'm simplistic. On a pure, individual level—fuck a ring for these purposes—LeBron James is a truly unprecedented, unbelievable basketball player who borders on god-like. I choose to look at the implications of this, and what it means for us watching him. Not really interested in whether it makes a championship "inevitable," just that it has really turned the "unstoppable" line into a maudlin joke.

At 5/24/2009 4:03 PM, Blogger Marc said...

Thanks Shoals. I'm overkill on this thread, so this will be my last comment.

He's going to get to the basket every time. Watching how he finds a way to do it is always going to astound you. he finds it harder to get to the basket than Jordan. How he does it is astounding because in a certain sense he plays the wrong type of game for his physical size. He has an element of trying to bend the game to his will, instead of perfectly embodying the game (which he would do by becoming the ultimate midrange post player). Insisting on this gives his game a certain element of stubbornness, and also of daring the gods (will his knees go after playing this kind of game at his size?). You may see his Icarus side yet.

I would be interested in having a debate about who is more "flawed," Kobe or LeBron. Lebron has more flaws in his skills as a driving/jump-shooting perimeter player, which he seems to insist on being. Kobe is more flawed as an overall player (including athleticism and ability to unite/inspire a team). Kobe's game is polished to a high stylistic sheen, but he then has a bit of a sense of entitlement for this reason -- specifically for refs to bail him out for lacking the ability to actually be Michael Jordan, even though he has copied his game as closely as he can.

At 5/24/2009 9:02 PM, Blogger Kellen said...

LeBron is like a moon on a lake.
Only there is no moon and no lake.
There is only LeBron.

At 5/25/2009 3:31 AM, Blogger Alexander J said...

Can we talk about Marleena Shaw?

At 5/25/2009 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Three cheers for Marc and Shoals for an excellent conversation that helped to frame last nights game.

Tip of my cap to Rafer Alston (who I shread frequently for obvious reasons) for putting pressure on the Cavs defense. When the man plays like a starter/leader the Magic are very difficult to beat.

At 5/25/2009 11:57 AM, Blogger km said...

for what it's worth, and maybe I missed it previously, I think there's a really cool narrative to Cavs Magic.

Dwight is a traditional mould of dominance, he's "the big man" who pulls down rebounds, guards the paint, makes high percentage points, and wins championships. LeBron is the mould-breaker, who wins with "the big"Z. And in this contest, I feel there's an element of which narrative will come out of this year, and then, these years. Will it be a 'reign of the big man' or will it be a 'reign of the transcendental'.

Admittedly, that this is the ECF as opposed to the Final Finals, it loses a bit of its dramatic force, but the thought still tickles my interest.

At 5/26/2009 1:09 AM, Blogger ghengis blond said...

lebron didn't play very impressively in the business end of that game. nobody here really believed he was going to make it. i went nuts.

watching the nuggets play against the lakers i can't help but believe if kobe was as well liked by the league as lebron and wade and as smart as billups he'd average 40 a game, 20 on free throws.

lebron's better

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