5.04.2009

What Happened to That Boy



The least FD thing about me is that I hate J.R. Smith. Hate him. Despite my predilection toward the Julian Wrights of this world, despite a lifetime spent riding for Scottie Pippen and Tracy, despite my celebration of players who don't so much challenge orthodoxy as introduce their own, I nonetheless carry around an almost ruthless insistence on basketball efficacy. Your shit had better work, or else it becomes less a style, or an innovation, and more a gimmick. Gimmickry is for Asher Roth, Sarah Palin, and Ricky Davis. Like anyone, I can fall hard for the seductive potential of athleticism applied in new directions, and as such, I can wander down the wrong path for some time. But I always come back to the sole criterion from which I never deviate: does your shit work?

J.R. Smith hasn't worked. Year after year, I've been told to brace myself for the coming J.R. Revolution, and it has never arrived. I've been promised breakthroughs--erratic play replaced by consistency, bad decisions displaced by enlightenment, ambivalence about teamwork absorbed into a new-age point guard. I've read and heard everything. Yet, by the second week of May each spring, I've instead found myself swollen with pride while wondering in which empty gym he was presiding over such sweeping, irrelevant change. I never believed in J.R., and I was always vindicated for my assured skepticism. Even when he'd have days, or weeks, or fortnights of inspired play that threatened to carry him from cult worship to mainstream acceptance, I was secure in the knowledge that, ultimately, J.R. Smith didn't work.

Smith has been the perfect Nugget. In every way. The second-least FD thing about me is that I hate Denver. My disdain for Smith runs so deep because it is a microcosm for my zealous loathing of the Nuggets. In this Carmelo Era, Denver has symbolized the sinister potential for self-destruction that is inextricably linked to basketball which challenges the NBA's established models for success. Whereas the D'Antoni Suns or the Davis/Stack Jack Warriors offered tantalizing glimpses at a new order, albeit fleetingly (and, therefore, perhaps not so much true glimpses but, rather, illusions), the Carmelo Nuggets have pursuasively argued against change. This bizarro campaign for something new reached its nadir (perhaps zenith if up is down) last year, when Denver flamed out of the playoffs amidst a conflagration of lazy defense, disorganized offense, and selfish decisions. As I wrote then, it was offensive, with the ugly vainglory and petulance that affirm vexing stereotypes: about the priorities of NBA players; about the mental capacity of these men; about strategy that would wield unfettered basketball as a weapon, rather than fearing it as an undesired outcome. Denver's shit hasn't worked.



I won't front--I've enjoyed watching Denver inflict its own wounds. Not only because I dislike J.R., but because I find George Karl to be sanctimonious in his obvious belief that he serves as a Keeper of the Game. Because no matter how unfair it might be, Kenyon Martin has devolved into a video-game villain, replete with a robotic offensive "skill" set and a seemingly endless penchant for masturbatory mean-mugging. Because Denver-as-Movement somehow became a widespread fiction on par with the hokum that Knicks fans would rather watch a mediocre playoff team than build for a championship future. I could continue, but that seems excessive. It's felt good to stand over this frustrated, seething, volatile mess and gloat in the wake of annual failure brought on by the excess of style, not it's triumph.

Rejoicing in Denver's undoing is not such a lonely pasttime, though, and this season, this postseason, the Nuggets appear to be playing as though they're tired of people like me making fun of them. Really, it's been an almost inexplicable transformation ostensibly brought on by what has previously been diagnosed as one team become decidedly more FD when infused with an un-FD player. As noted:
[Chauncey] Billups, then, is neither too much nor too little of a point guard, and as such is the perfect equilibrium for a Denver team made up of various forms of excess and lack. His job isn't to encourage K-Mart, J.R., and Nene, but in effect, manage them. Neither dashing "floor general" nor feckless "game manager," Billups is entrusted with turning craziness into a useful commodity, ordering and meting it out so that players are compartmentalized without being squelched. Maybe that makes him a lion-tamer, or the guy in charge of The Wild Bunch. Denver may not have the least conventional roster in the league, but it's certainly the most streaky and combustible. Billups can juggle these pieces (one of which is George Karl, natch) through a combination of equanimity and pragmatism.
Denver has transformed from a rambunctious collection of unyielding parts always sabotaged by their own priorities to a spirited collective unrelenting in its pursuit of defiant accomplishment. Does that make sense? It's shit just seems to work all of a sudden, as though the piling on enabled by last year's spectacular failure pushed the Nuggets' capacity for absorbing the bile which fuels self-loathing past a saturation point. Denver has convincingly pulled itself together. Even J.R. is regularly effective, his positive contributions no longer marring a vast landscape of consistent inconsistency. Billups may, indeed, serve as the manager of the team, the one whose judicious decisions enable Denver to be Denver in a good way, and not a bad way. He, an outsider with a pedigree of discipline and a championship background fueled by embracing other-ness, may have identified what I just wrote in his own way. But even acknowledging this likely truth doesn't seem to properly recognize who these Nuggets are.



There was a moment against the Mavericks yesterday when Denver broke its huddle by Karl imploring them to "keep on playing the right way." This "right way," one which had stolen the early lead and momentum from Dallas, consisted of leak outs and aggressive defensive rebounding; of Nene, not always so nimble, swooping to the basket as Dallas looked slow and confused; of Kenyon Martin elbowing anything that got in his way anywhere on the floor; of defensive breakdowns against Dirk rapidly fading amidst retaliatory secondary breaks; of Linas Kleiza taking threes early in the shot clock; of J.R. popping over guys with hands in his face; of Chris Andersen swatting a shot into the fifth row and egging on the crowd in a knowing frenzy. Erick Dampier spent most of the first half falling over himself, and it might have owed to the sort of dimentia which the Nuggets can cause when the unconventional parts are orchestrated in a common direction.

Honestly, this moment was sublime. With its brooding and surly and muscular and wild elements in explosive harmony, Denver was so far afield of anything Larry Brown has ever moaned at any of the players he loves to hate that George Karl, unintentionally, made a mockery of what we attach to the concept of "playing the right way." And yet, it was less farce and more cooptation, because Denver was, in fact, playing the right way. It was playing its right way. It's shit worked.

In the middle of the controlled hysteria, it occurred to me that only on this Denver team could the Birdman be considered the second-least crazy, or second-most normal, player. A man covered in ornate tattoos and hair gel who was probably smoking PCP this morning. But, after Chauncey, who, really, is more standard? Birdman comes off the bench, provides energy, blocks shots, and cleans up garbage at the rim. He's exceptional at what he does thanks to his athleticism and spirit, but still, he's unconventionally good at a fairly conventional role. So is Chauncey. And then...what? You have Nene, who sometimes is dominating, sometimes is involved in a psychodrama, and always seems to be into something. You have K-Mart, for whom the game is incidental in pursuit of reckless conflict. You have Carmelo, who is a sort of reluctant leader who will get to where he needs to be but regularly carves out a circuitous route that wouldn't be advisable for other guys asked to do what he does. You have the journeyman backup point guard who shouldn't even be in the NBA anymore. And, of course, the internets' favorite misunderstood agent of change, J.R. Smith. Seriously, whom else on the team is more "normal" than Billups or Andersen?



All of that captures Denver, now. The Nuggets have inverted a paradox. Or something. They've decided that a half-black bookworm who has an exotic name and no money can be president. It can be perplexing, but it also feels right. The radicalism appears like common sense. Of course that can happen; watching the Nuggets win is almost logical. The manic quality is not gone but is now managed, and each player no longer seems to be united solely by a shared apathy. Without the kind of overhaul or "recommitment" the media usually celebrate and leads to a team like Dalls getting rolled by Golden State, Denver has improved. It's tired of the haters and put its insanity to work. Forever a Nuggets skeptic, I find it awesomely intriguing. I feel like they're spiting me, in particular, and I like it.

[Insert awkward segue here] I also like the perhaps unwitting basketball project that Cam'ron is putting together. Since the start of the year, Cam has created three songs that each name checks a different point guard (something profane this way comes):

Cam'ron, "Cookin' Up" - "I'm Killa/You Andre Miller/Got a Basic Game"



Cam'ron ft. Jadakiss, "Let's Talk About" - "Shootin' in the Miam Heat/Like Chalmers"



Cam'ron, "Silky" - "I'm on Point/Like Rondo"



This has great potential. Let's hope Aaron Brooks plays well against the Lakers.
  

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41 Comments:

At 5/04/2009 6:15 AM, Blogger Teddy said...

I think I'm going to have "Your S--t Better Work" embroidered on a pillow.

 
At 5/04/2009 7:51 AM, Blogger Jeff Cykiert said...

So much goes into creating a successful basketball team; there is no way to quantify how mcuh one good player can help his team play as a unit. Instead, we need metaphors and analogies.

I have been trying to come up with a Chauncey analogy for quite some time now, and i think the juggling image is the best one I've heard or thought of by far; Beautiful.

 
At 5/04/2009 9:25 AM, Blogger W2 said...

At the beginning of the season, who would have ever guessed that the Nugs would seem conventional or brotherly compared to the horror show that the Detroit Pistons became. Script...flipped.

 
At 5/04/2009 9:30 AM, Blogger Quantavius Sturdivant said...

dahntay jones is more normal than the birdman. he similarly fills a role (defensive specialist, assigned to the other team's best scorer) and trails behind andersen in the things we generally associate with crazy in the lig (hairstyles, tats, self applied handles, drug suspensions, etc.)

 
At 5/04/2009 10:14 AM, Blogger Kellen said...

Every player on the Nuggets used to play like they weren't playing against the other team as much as they were playing against every other player on the court. Melo wasn't just trying to beat LeBron or Kobe or whoever, he was also trying to beat Kenyon Martin and AI. Like some NBA Thunderdome, only the strongest, most daring, and flashiest could defeat all the other players on the floor and emerge from the dome as a champion as a King or at least a post-apocalyptic war chief.

But now the players have caught on: some before others, but they know now why they are stuck in this struggle. The Birdman and J.R. had been sent there for their sins, Dahntay Jones to prove himself ready, Nene to prove that he's better than ever, Melo to prove that he is that same Carmelo Anthony. Like a thousand movies, the wily veteran who has seen the glory of the championship comes to Denver, earns the respect of each player individually, and somehow gets them to stop playing against each other and start playing against the forces that have trapped them there.

It's not a rebellion because they aren't interested in toppling the old order and replacing it with their own. Nothing has changed, and nothing has stopped except the in-fighting.

It's just a riot, a revolt for the sake of revolt. A concentrated effort to show the rest of the league that the bleeding has stopped, and now the Nuggets are out to collect scalps together. Instead of escaping the Thunderdome or trying to destroy it, they have embraced what it's made them and are now trying to transform it.

 
At 5/04/2009 11:12 AM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

Um, can we not say that Barack Obama has no money? Fine, less than McCain, Bush, Kerry (?), or most other major national politicians, but he is a multi-millionaire. Although his family didn't start wealth and he seems to be pretty much self-made, his is hardly a case of a "have-nothing".

 
At 5/04/2009 11:43 AM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

John Wall and two minors charged with breaking and entering. I hesitate to link this; calm reflection will be necessary until more info, yes?

 
At 5/04/2009 1:07 PM, Blogger Jon L said...

I feel the same way about the Nuggets. I've only caught a few of their playoff games, but when I watch them I think "how does this team work?" at least three different times. I mean, their backup guards are Anthony Carter and JR Smith. And the team does well when they play together! Yesterday Hubie Brown sounded like he wanted to take that team behind the middle school and get it pregnant.

 
At 5/04/2009 1:11 PM, Blogger The Other Van Gundy said...

I think you're undervaluing streakiness. Smith is inconsistent, yes, so much so that between his best games and his worse games there is tremendous variance. Some nights he looks like an even MORE megalomaniacal Ben Gordon... but then there's those other nights, the nights he looks like a top 5 guard and he can hit from 40 feet.

I would much rather have a JR Smith than a steady, but limited bench producer. Take a team you recently wrote about, the Spurs. Pop does great work with his cogs, and getting guys who can hit corner threes/know their roles/etc., but don't you think he would have loved to have someone like Smith to come in off the bench, go nova, and relieve pressure on the consistent Duncan/Parker tandem?

The multi-game format of the playoffs favors inconsistent but talented players like Smith even more. As a Bulls fan, I was dreading the day Eddie House woke up and starting raining quick-draw threes. And, of course, that day came in Game 7. You've got more chances for your faulty spark plug to fire.

What makes JR Smith, Josh Smith, Ty Thomas, ANY inconsistent player so galling is the sense they're withholding something. But since you can't teach star potential, it's better to have spotty performers rather than a guy like Brian Cardinal, who will give you everything he's got, though what he's got is so paltry. With experience and guidance, the JR Smiths of the world can raise their floors, but only God can raise a ceiling. (Metaphorically speaking.)

 
At 5/04/2009 1:27 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

@Kellen: The first time I read your comment, I read it as "...Melo to prove that he is the same as Carmelo Anthony..." which makes some sort of sense to me.

 
At 5/04/2009 1:34 PM, Blogger Joey said...

Several things:

1) I forgot that roughly two years ago, Cam made that dumb song "Glitter" in which, while discussing interns, he rhymed "When I f*ck her like Marbury/Isiah." So we can add another song to the burgeoning PG-references niche. And he got two PGs in one line!

2) W2, that's kind of ill to think about, that Denver/Detroit juxtaposition regarding their usual essences, respectively. The height of teamwork getting all dysfunctional and vice versa.

3) Yeah, Jones might be more normal, though he's also much less valuable. Somehow, I want to use Andersen's effectiveness in his conventional role as proof of his normalcy. But I am stubborn.

4) In the larger Barry O narrative, he came from no money.

5) Jon L--so glad you mentioned Hubie. Did anyone else love how he so enthusiastically used the term "Birdman" the whole time? It was both great and weird, because I only want to say "Andersen" now. Like when your grandma sends you an email. But, I also don't want him to stop.

6) OVG--that's well said. I do undervalue streakiness. More precisely, I dislike it. Ever the control freak, streakiness makes it hard for me to set expectations, and leaves me disappointed when I rely on it. You make good points, though. I guess I don't think that way as a default.

 
At 5/04/2009 1:43 PM, Blogger Alexander J said...

A J.R. led St. Benedict's team couldn't overcome Joakim Noah and a bunch of nobodies in the 2004 NJPAAL Prep 'A' finals. That was more telling about his nba future than anything else. For the record, my team lost in the prep 'b' game that was played beforehand.

The beauty of these nuggets is that they've got the idiot savant Linas Kleiza waiting to have some outlier game where he drops serious knowledge on the world. Furthermore, isn't Anthony Carter Methuselah?

 
At 5/04/2009 2:04 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

How many years ago was that?

A friend of mine loves to talk about the time he saw a bunch of nobodies beat a Hawes/Martell Webster team here.

I hate Kleiza.

 
At 5/04/2009 2:05 PM, OpenID A Milder Despot said...

I think having "does your shit work?" as your sole criterion is pretty anti-FD in general. I'm reminded of the FD manifesto as laid out in the book: don't have it with me but something about repudiating the old way of measuring wins and losses. (Of course, I could be completely misunderstanding what you mean by 'work.')

Streakiness and inconsistency can have a style all their own. Apart from watching LeBron at his most unstoppable, very few things are as exciting to me as seeing someone like J.R. or Ben Gordon be able to get their shit together in even a five-minute outburst of basketball transcendence. It's like waiting for Godot, except every once in awhile he actually shows up and blows your f'n mind. Of course, he's gone as soon as he was there, but the mere glimpse validates the waiting.

 
At 5/04/2009 2:08 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

That manifesto was overblown shock tactics. I think if we're talking team, or individual, style, there has to be some marriage of form and function. Just not the conventional one.

I hate Ben Gordon because he acts like streakiness should be accepted as legitimate. I love J.R. Smith because he refuses to see that streakiness is streaky.

 
At 5/04/2009 2:19 PM, Blogger Joey said...

Like I said, if you ultimately can't accomplish anything--not just wins, but like, being effective--then "style" is just gimmickry. And really, who is ultimately so compelled by that?

And what Shoals said.

I believe that the Riverside Hawks had a team one year with Lamar Odom, Elton Brand, Ron Ron, and Erick Barkley. I am obsessed with this. I think I talk about this team which may or may not have existed almost as often as I talk about the Sopranos, which is every single day. Can you imagine playing that team? How does anyone deal with a teenage Artest? He came into college with one of those street ball bodies, all sinewy and wide-framed and strong.

There was also an AAU team with Reggie Lewis, David Wingate, Mugsey Bogues, and Reggie Williams. That team, the Riverside team, and the team with Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, and Confederate General Randolph Morris should all play each other somehow.

 
At 5/04/2009 2:29 PM, Blogger djturtleface said...

We can't seriously still believe that Kleiza is either good or interesting, can we? He is just Wally Sczerbiak without the expiring contract.

Also I think I loved the old Nuggets for the fact that they refused to play basketball, its like they were bullishly attempting to create their own game with the exact same skills and goals as the real sport. I fell in love with the novelty that, if they could somehow amass enough talent, one day they might beat another team in basketball despite the fact that they were playing something different altogether--even if their bastard sport was clearly inferior.

 
At 5/04/2009 2:33 PM, Blogger Alexander J said...

Winter of 2004 no doubt. Apparently as a sophomore at Brooklyn's Polly Prep, Joakim Noah was on the JV and, according to an anonymous source who played JV ball for Trinity, was fucking horrible.

"It's like waiting for Godot, except every once in awhile he actually shows up and blows your f'n mind. Of course, he's gone as soon as he was there, but the mere glimpse validates the waiting."

I would say lucky's soliloquy pretty accurately describes the nature of the biz for J.R. and the other various incarnations of inconsistency that trot out on our screens to leave us wondering what happened to our hood.

 
At 5/04/2009 2:50 PM, Blogger Eric B said...

The question that the Nuggets have failed to answer for the last 5 years is how to harness insanity. The answer, apparently, involves some bizarre concoction of leadership on the team that comes from a Finals MVP, a legitimate egomaniac more concerned with preening after dunks, fouls and blocks than anything else, a star who is reluctant to lead, a guy who was addicted to meth/crack but is now praised as having the highest "basketball iq" on the team and unFurious George. How they have all managed to come together into something is remarkable. And what they have morphed into is a combination of Larry Brown's "right way" and basketball entropy. It's as if they figured out where the inevitable chaotic end of entropy will be and gotten there ahead of everything else around them.
That's what makes this team so awesome to watch at times. And probably what made their shit so remarkably unworkable in the past. If you try to predict chaos and are wrong, not only do you not succeed on your terms, but you are necessarily unable to succeed on anyone else's. But, if you predict and become the chaotic outcome before anyone else knows what's coming you succeed by forcing your terms onto everything around you.
What is beyond me is HOW this Nuggets team has figured that out (or how any other team could). Billups doesn't seem like the chaotic type. JR does, but doesn't seem like the type know where that chaos is headed. Anthony Carter and Dahntay Jones shouldn't even be in the league. Maybe it's Anderson. Maybe it's Karl. Maybe it's Melo. Maybe its pure dumb luck that will run out. In reality, though I don't care how their shit works as long as I get to enjoy watching work for another month.

 
At 5/04/2009 2:55 PM, Blogger Getting By said...

A sound argument can also be made for the Billups-as-universally-recognized-championship-piece rationalization of the Nuggets' turnaround. Exchanging AI's play for that of Chauncey is one thing, and much has been (and continues to be) written about that. But, watching Denver, I get a distinct impression that their "shit" is now working partly because they now have a clear idea of what is expected of them. A team can experiment with Iverson; one could even say that this idea encapsulates Iverson's career inasmuch as a six-word clause can do such a thing. But, since 2003-4, and arguably the season prior, you don't experiment with Billups. What we are witnessing now is the rest of the Nuggets' drawing the logical conclusion from the premises "Chauncey Billups plays for championship-contending teams," and "We play on the same team as Chauncey Billups".

 
At 5/04/2009 3:39 PM, Blogger Obsolete Venacular said...

Mark my words: Kleiza's time will come.

 
At 5/04/2009 4:05 PM, Blogger Jason Gill said...

As far as I can tell, Kleiza's time has already passed.

 
At 5/04/2009 4:42 PM, Blogger Toasterhands said...

You know you have a deep bench when Renaldo Balkman doesn't figure in to things.

 
At 5/04/2009 6:09 PM, Blogger Kaifa said...

My own little theory is that the Birdman really is the one on whom this whole thing hinges.

I think sometimes teams do have players that encapsulate the essence of that team, their spirit. Often times these guys are not the best players on their team, but serve as an emotional barometer.

My favorite case is Odom, who is the spiritual center and essence of the Lakers (because of which he also leads the pre-game huddle). He's insanely talented, multi-faceted, his only problem is the lack of focus - which exactly describes the Lakers as a team. And as you point to Odom's facial expressions in your book, you can read the state of the Lakers' game at any point when looking at him.

You describe the Nuggets as "spirited [and] unrelenting in its pursuit of defiant accomplishment". You could add their workmanlike approach (true for everyone except probably Smith, even for Melo) and their style somewhere between ruggedness and recklessness. You'd also be describing Chris Anderson perfectly. So while Chauncey juggling the pieces is responsible for making the X's and O'S work, I nominate Andersen's style and personal redemption as the essence of the Nuggets' new-found swagger.

Also, did anyone else catch the Hawks celebrating after one of those insane Joe Johnson 3's? Miami immediately called a time-out, and Johnson went to the bench with the look on his face of someone on his way to the dentist. Josh Smith and another Hawk (Flip Murray?) were jumping towards Johnson so excited that they ended doing a chestbump sandwich to his head. Still no reaction from him, which he kept up during the whole huddle until play resumed. I guess lack of expression is also a form of expression.

 
At 5/04/2009 6:36 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

Before the Bulls fade from our collective 2008-09 memory, let's pause to fondly remember just how much Vinny Del Negro looks like the dad from a 1990s family movie.

"Derrick, take it to the hole. Jerome, go find Shadow and Sassy so I can redeem myself with my stepson. Chance on three!"

 
At 5/04/2009 7:52 PM, Blogger The Till Show said...

I apologize if I sound so superficial, but they work because of Chauncey. Chauncey was once JR Smith, so he understands his Basketball path, so to speak. He's the perfect blend of AI's takeover-abiity, and 'Dre Miller's calm resolve. His game is steady, and he travels at his own pace; but still can assert his own will like he did to God's PG, CP3.

He has the street cred (Finals hardware) to stabilize JR, even if it doesn't manifest into lovers of JR hope he'd become. As a former castaway, he relates to K-Mart, Nene, Birdman, Smith, and even Melo to a degree (in terms of "elite" players); so they respect him like a big brother or uncle that turned his life around.

Oh, and about Kleiza, my boy dunked on him when he went to HS in DC.

 
At 5/04/2009 8:06 PM, Blogger ****** said...

When you hate the Nuggets you hate yourself.

 
At 5/04/2009 8:53 PM, Blogger Jacob said...

As a Mizzou grad, I can tell you that it pains me terribly to say this, but I HATE Kleiza's game. I probably spend too much time paying attention to him when he's out on the floor, but just watch him, and him alone for a couple trips down the court on offense. Dude doesn't give a shit about anything except finding his own shot. If I'm not mistaken, his PT has come down dramatically over the past 2 months. I'm sure George Karl hates him, but there is always that chance he'll catch fire...

 
At 5/04/2009 8:56 PM, Blogger Mark said...

seems to me the FDness of a player should be determined by how much fun it is to use them in a video game.

Anyone else think that looking at detroit in the wake of billups departure kinda proves exactly how awesome he is? This Denver teams achievements rest entirely on his shoulders, or the fact that the players now have a coach that they can listen to in billups who makes karl irrelevant.

is that helsinki airport?

 
At 5/04/2009 9:31 PM, Blogger Jed Bartlet said...

This is the 1st time I've read and FD comments, and I read all of them. I'm going to have to be quicker so I can maybe say something before everyone else beats me to it.

I'm not sure if I'm sad or glad nobody finished up their post with a rap lyric about a PG. I'm definitely surprised, though.

I stay steady, hard as a rock/my soul darker than Mookie Blaylock.

 
At 5/04/2009 9:48 PM, Blogger VictorVonRimp said...

1. Nice Clipse reference in the heading.
2. When J.R. Smith comes in the game, like it or not, all eyes are on him. He's like a human supernova, capable of great illumination, but equally equipped to unleash a huge Black Hole, destroying all life and matter and replacing it with a huge void, leaving a casual observer to question, "What the F--k just happened?"

What's not to love about that?

 
At 5/04/2009 11:57 PM, Blogger Admiral Jameson Sax said...

Linas Kleiza is kind of like that old guy at the YMCA that likes to body you up, foul you on your forearms, and hit unorthodox shots without ever acknowledging the ridiculousness of his game. And you leave the gym feeling like you've been violated in some manner, though you're pretty sure he doesn't realize he's done anything even slightly out of the ordinary.

That being said, I like Kleiza. In fact, I like most players from Soviet bloc countries and from the former Yugoslavia. They have grimier games than their western European counterparts. I purchased a Drazen Petrovic jersey and an Arvydas Sabonis jersey, cut both in half, and then sewed them together. I plan to be buried in it.

Also, Clipse is tremendously underrated.

 
At 5/05/2009 12:16 AM, Blogger Admiral Jameson Sax said...

@ Jed Bartlet (the president from West Wing?): nice call

Max mostly, undivided, then slide in, sickenin
Guaranteed, made em jump like Rod Strickland

-Raekwon on the Wu-Tang Clan's "Triumph" *just one of various Wu references to the DePaul floor general

 
At 5/05/2009 1:07 AM, Blogger Rob Mahoney said...

I couldn't get this post out of my head all day. Really fucking rad, Joey.

 
At 5/05/2009 3:34 AM, Blogger Anthony said...

Is it un-FD to hold an allegiance to a player because you share an alma mater? Cuz' Aaron Brooks was gold for my Ducks. What's crazy is that he was going to quit basketball and drop out of school before his senior season so he could take care of his kid. He comes back, shoots his way to an elite 8 appearance, and takes home guaranteed money as a first rounder. He's always going to be too small, but he's so goddamned fast it doesn't really matter.

ALSO, THOUGHT QUESTION: Does Brooks gain extra value on the open market because he's playing for Morey's Rockets? Everybody thought of him as too much of a scorer to make the transition from college to the pros, but a gold star from Houston's super computers means he's doing something else, right?

 
At 5/05/2009 11:42 AM, Blogger Robert said...

Being from Colorado, and having only become a really, really obsessive basketball fan in the last few years, I have to say it's a lot of fun to read thoughts on your team by those with an outside perspective. Especially when that team is the Nuggs.

On that note, hearing a self-professed hater say he's enjoying the success is about as good a nod as they've received this season.

When the Nuggets are your bread & butter, and not just that one team that has it but doesn't get it, being a fan of the greater league is lent towards other teams like that. Which is probably why I like the blend of maturity and improvisation that I see in Mayo.

And now with Chauncey, I've thought many times this season of things that relate to this (fantastic) post. Not an articulation on this level, but I can see Billups going to the players in turn before the game, and doing things to help them develop their games.

"Melo, I bet you can't get 12 in the paint tonight."

"Kenyon, I think DWest is too good for you. Bet you can't shut him down."

Recognition and direction. Crazy into a commodity.

But my thoughts on JR go a lot deeper than that, mostly because I have become a fan of basketball while becoming a fan of FD. I was never converted - it's simply the way I love to watch the game. So I've developed as a fan while not just appreciating streakiness, but thinking that it's one of the most logical ways to approach the game.

JR has what I believe to be absolutely no talent. Wait, follow me here. When Medlevi Dervishes whirl like they do, the purpose is to channel the joy of God through their dance. This is how I view JR - as more of a conduit than an actual kinetic force unto himself.

When Lebron started jacking up threes (against the Bucks, I think) Shoals related it to playing with a new toy, one he'll soon be bored with or will just think is commonplace. And I understood that. But contrast with JR - when a streak hits him, it's like a kid getting into his dad's gun cabinet. He's playing with fire.

There is no sense of inevitable boredom about it, or inevitability at all. You can see that he's trying to keep focused on channeling that power greater than himself for as long as possible, so that every 30 footer becomes more exciting than the last one.

And that is his sufi parable. Learning under a variety of different alchemists, in the attempt to find the proper blend of insanity and acceptance necessary to focus that greater will for anything longer than a quarter. His teachers have all left indelible influences. From AI he has learned to create off penetration. His assists, brilliant when they actually come, from a short time with CP3. He talks shit as bad as Kenyon ever does, and I've even seen a couple step-fades, cum Melo. And now Chauncey arrives, and the kid has played more consistently than ever.

I can see why you started with JR - he's a microcosm of everything you're saying. But I take heart in it, and as a vehemently unliberated fan, I appreciate a little love from the detractors. Go Nuggets.

 
At 5/06/2009 2:42 AM, Blogger Abe said...

^GREAT comparison re: JR and the Mevlevis, I have witnessed both live and it is spot on - a surrender to power and purpose that is not (can not be) fully understand.

I'll see it occasionally (not often) with musicians as well, the easiest, clumsy example is Kurt in that MTV Unplugged performance. Witness him getting too close to the power source towards the end of "In The Pines"

 
At 5/06/2009 1:54 PM, Blogger Joey said...

Damn, Robert. That's good stuff. I am intrigued by the JR comparison, too. I'll have to watch Game Three with that frame.

 
At 5/07/2009 4:17 PM, Blogger walrusoflove said...

replace 'society' with 'denver nuggets'....
"Society is a special reality, a degree of actuality. The 'I' with the 'you' is a different reality from the 'I' in the 'we'. But society is not an organism, it is not a being nor a personality. The reality of society consists in the personalities themselves; not in the simple interaction of personalities, but in the 'we', which is not an abstraction, and has a concrete existence. The reality of society is a not a special 'I', it is 'we'. The communion of the 'I' with the others takes place in the 'we'. This 'we' is a qualitative content of the 'I', it is its social transcension. The 'I' holds communion not only with the 'you', communion of the personality with personality, it holds communion also with the 'we', that is with society. But the 'I' enters in the 'we' - society, as a part into the whole, as an organ into the organism, only as an individual, as being natural man. As a personality, the 'I' never enters into society as a part of the whole, as an organ into an organism. The 'we' is not a collective subject or substance. The 'we' has an existential significance, but it is not the existential center. The existential center is found in the 'I' and in its relation to the 'you' and the 'we'. It is precisely this relation of the 'I' not only to the 'you' but also to the 'we' which is the source of existential social reality." - Nikolai Berdyaev

 
At 5/08/2009 1:50 PM, Blogger tray said...

"4) In the larger Barry O narrative, he came from no money."

As did LBJ, Ike or Reagan, but by the time they became President, they were quite rich. And of course, Bill never got rich until after he left the White House.

 
At 4/19/2013 4:03 AM, Blogger Jim Philips said...

J. R. is in its own level. I have to admit that even online bookmaking has been waiting for a change but I don't think that it will happen.

 

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