5.07.2009

What's Safe, Sound, and Vulgar



We all have those key moments, images or sentences that, however accidentally, anchor the way we view basketball. I don't think the same is true for bigger issues like life and love—or at least it shouldn't be for those over the age of 20—but if you're reading this site, chances are your understanding of hoops may have a little bit of whimsy to it. I've never particularly cared about sports as an elemental force that overwhelms all agency and takes you to a special place; I prefer some distance and creative agency on the part of the audience, which depending on how you see it, is either "liberating" or totally contrived.

One of those touchstones for me has always been that time, during the 2007 playoffs I think, when Kobe sat in with the TNT crew. No, not because I have any interest in playing he said/she said about Bryant this morning, but for one brief exchange, yet to materialize on YouTube, about the difficulty of playing against Manu and Barbosa. I don't have an exact quote, but the general idea was that the rhythm of their games were different than those of Americans; not only did this make guarding them a challenge, it also represented a breath of fresh of air that you could still the (FAKE ASS NEVER EVEN BEEN TO ITALY!!!!!) Mamba got off on. Doubtlessly, Kobe's conclusions here have something to do with his love of soccer, his hyper-analytical understanding of the game, and a cosmopolitan bent. But the basic idea: That international players bring a different perspective to the game, both on and off the court, and that while the Euro craze may have subsided, its ripples may be felt in these more subtle ways for some time.

It's not a radical notion to introduce race, culture, ethnicity into descriptions of a player or his style. How many times have we heard it debated how "black" somene's game was, or to what degree a player's "whiteness" might influence fan sentiment? But desite the Right Way's attempt to co-opt all pale prospects to their cause—they can bounce-pass, they don't wear chains, ergo they must be the second coming of Larry Bird—they all came from distinct backgrounds, where attitudes and mores surrounding the sport were unfamiliar, even strange, on these shores. Some of this has been subtle; these players have been prone to stiff-lipped professionalism, while at the same time have also had their share of exposure to the "black" game that the NBA exported while shunning it on American shores. Yet even if the European players could be uncomfortably squeeezed into pre-existing black/white categories, there was just no way to do that once Latin America, Yao, and Africa became major forces in the NBA. To return to Kobe's quote, when I watch Barbosa, Manu, the Spaniards, or the newly-spry and funky Nene, I realize just how damn diverse the Association has become without even realizing it. And how pointless it is to resist this fact.

Ironically, I'm bringing all this up in reference to Dirk, who has does a damn good job of letting fans and media forget that he's from another country. Dirk is the good son, the impeccable mechanic, the technician who refuses to let his emotions unravel him at any given time. Cool, maybe too cool; his game, at times not rough enough. But it's no coincidence that, so far, the greatest international player to touch down on these shores for his whole career is also one who readily fit into the NBA's need for a Great White Hope (to counter Iverson), or after that, could still be talked about in terms of "white" ball even as accusations crept in of non-descript Euro "softness." Put simply, Dirk's been cast as a really, really good white dude who is just a little weird.



That's why the mini-scandal surrounding Nowitzki's "these three can check me" comments, predicated almost exclusively on an element of shock and disjuncture, should have sparked neither. So Webber, Kenny, and Barkley can't imagine an elite scorer admitting in public that opponents can slow him. Dirk, after making remarks that the TNT crew saw as evidence of a fatal flaw, proceeded to be positively untroubled by almost anything the Nuggets threw at him. Even if he wasn't quite so eager to take it inside, it's worth noting that Dirk's one of the few players out there who can be bad-assed with the jumper, and not of the J.R. Smith, miles-from-the-line three variety. He makes efficiency both deadly and something to be feared. If that doesn't sound like a German stereotype, then my readership is even younger than I thought. I find it striking that the attitudes Webber et al. were up in arms over may have been informed by "black" values honed on the playground, bravura and swagger and all that. But they don't seem that limited. In fact, they strike me as fairly, across the board, American in nature, whether you're talking NCAA slop or Kobe vs. Artest.

Does it come as any surprise, then, that Nowitzki lies beyond the pale on this one? I don't want this to degenerate into duelling stereotypes; nor do I know enough about German culture to make any observations about Dirk that really lead anywhere. Suffice it to say that these utterances, followed by the monster game, framed by the bemused honesty that's become so much a part of Nowitzki's public persona . . . is it such a stretch to admit that there are indeed foreigners among us? They may not shape the game, or reinforce its discourses. But to really understand Dirk (or Yao), we have to understand that often, we won't understand. Not as black people, white people, white people who think they understand black people, or black people who think they understand white people. Or any of the above holding forth on a non-descript non-American, un-American, "softness", a quality which certainly doesn't translate across cultures, and yet is the only attempt made to understand international players as not just black or white.

There's likely a middle ground between the TNT crew's tunnel vision and Kobe's multi-cultural bonanza. More importantly, though, if sports cliches are already tired, or polarizing, these individual international stars should at least temporarily explode them beyond recognition. So we can all be free.



MORE MORE MORE

-Funny that we think of the Mavs as kind of boring, when they are disconcerting honesty central. I speak primarily of Dirk (above), and, of course, Josh Howard. Reader Johnny Lauderdale points out that, with regard to Howard, there's almost a collective denial surrounding him, like he's been blackballed:

I watch a lot of Mavs games with the local broadcast guys, and putting them side by side with guys on ESPN/TNT... it is just flat out bizarre how noticeable the difference in tone regarding Josh Howard is. They seem hesitant to even mention his name (outside of the "well maybe the Mavs would be better without him... you know, since he is hurt" discussion, which regardless of its validity... that just isn't the way professional athletes are usually talked about during a broadcast) on ESPN (outside of JVG who always mentions Josh crashing offensive glass against his Houston teams), but on local Fox Sports it is just like old times (look to Josh for early offense blah blah blah). Things only get stranger when you put it in context with how people talked about him at the beginning of 07-08, when it was hip to suggest that the Mavs were actually "his team", in part because of a perceived preference Avery held for him over Dirk.

I'd like to add that Howard tries to play hurt and no one breaks out a single trumpet? In the playoffs? If that's not amazing, I don't know what is. Even the Spurs get more dramatized love than that.

-New Shoals Unlimited coming soon, on the subject of the MVP and writing history.

-Widget has been updated with new picks.

-Film thing that might interest no one: Last night after the game, I watched A Woman's Face, which was totally awesome. As is the case with most old movies, though, it had a tacked-on happy ending that undermined, maybe even contradicted, the stronger ideas of the entire other 1.5 hours. Am I supposed to ignore these? Believe that once, everyone believed in redemption and dreams coming true? Seek the middle ground?

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44 Comments:

At 5/07/2009 1:52 PM, Blogger dunces said...

It's no secret, I suppose, that there are elements to American competitiveness that aren't shared with other cultures. It just always struck me that there's an intransigence in sports to recognize that the american ideal of competition, the bush-era admit-no-weakness-brook-no-dissent lone ranger prototype, isn't perhaps the best model for success.

On an international stage, though, the rules are different. This last gold medal was won very much in an international style.

Or in business; look at Google's recent troubles in Japan. Again, it's not rocket science that the American methodology isn't supreme, but it's just striking how visible its retreat from ascendancy is.

 
At 5/07/2009 1:55 PM, Blogger Alexander J said...

'Even if he wasn't quite so eager to take it inside, it's worth noting that Dirk's one of the few players out there who can be bad-assed with the jumper, and not of the J.R. Smith, miles-from-the-line three variety.'

Good point, Dirk has street cred on the basis of being once step beyond Lafrentz in terms of weirdness. You could see him putting on his in-ear monitors with "Dr. Octagonecolygst" playing.

Josh Howard is really hurting, and it's sad; I was so hyped about his rocketing to top-second banana in the league for a minute till his ankles got flooded with laced-THC and his career arc plateaued hard.

Fuck Jason Terry (And fuck that band, Jet)
Fuck JJ Barea (Milano Calibro 9 Theme?)
Jason Kidd you're cool
and Fuck Ryan Hollins (waster of roster spot that could be occupied by Maciej Lampe, or any number of Dirk imitators that can be like his on-court altar boy, cause Euros love little boys; see beginning of Champions League semis, Arsenal vs. Manchester United)


The nuggets are winning ugly, what does this say about the people of Denver?

Film Thing: What of Joan Crawford, and the Blue Oyster Cult song, describing the oppressive slow destruction of her daughter through intense obssessive/compulsive behavior itspawned? How come wordpress embeds the youtube clip in the fucking comment and not blogspot?

 
At 5/07/2009 2:04 PM, Blogger Alexander J said...

Kobe went 4th dimensional on that one layup in the 3rd quarter of game 2!

Magnificent, lots of goodies in the post.

 
At 5/07/2009 3:09 PM, Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

A fine post.

I think the passing reference to Kobe's love of soccer informing his view of international players is a key point here.

It's well accepted that different soccer-playing nations traditionally have different styles of play: Brazil's creative, technically beautiful, artistic play; Argentina's more careful, cerebral play, with sudden bursts of speed; German's physical and utterly unglamorous efficiency; Italy's heady combination of brutality and elan, etc.

Up until the last 10-15 years, we had no idea basketball was taking off around the world, with entirely new styles being created in different regions. Since then we've been put on notice. Soccer was a game created in England's private schools. Brazilians made it something transcendent. Perhaps we are seeing the same thing happening with basketball: the game is now open source, and out of our hands. A game created in a gym class in Massachusetts, and made into an art form in American cities, is now being reshaped all over the world. Perhaps the future of the NBA will look somewhat like the English Premier League: there are a fair share of English players in the EPL, but most of the biggest stars are imports. Doesn't seem like anyone in England -- or across the world -- minds too much.

 
At 5/07/2009 3:42 PM, Blogger Cody said...

"As is the case with most old movies, though, it had a tacked-on happy ending that undermined, maybe even contradicted, the stronger ideas of the entire other 1.5 hours. Am I supposed to ignore these? Believe that once, everyone believed in redemption and dreams coming true? Seek the middle ground?"

I've always been similarly conflicted about the ending to "Rashomon." The whole clouds parting/newborn baby optimism immediately seemed cliche, but Kurosawa pulled it off without making it seem all that heavy-handed. I haven't watched the movie in about two years, I guess it's time to revisit.

 
At 5/07/2009 3:56 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

That Shoals Unlimited I said you'd like so much.

 
At 5/07/2009 5:57 PM, Blogger Jacob said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5/07/2009 5:58 PM, Blogger Jacob said...

Well, Ernie Johnson sure seemed flummoxed by what those three were saying. I couldn't tell if it was because he was white, or not a former player. But he really didn't get what the big deal was. Frankly, I don't either.

Afraid to admit that a guy is a good defender? That comes off as lame and insecure as the guy who is SOOOO straight, he can't possibly admit that Matthew McConaughey is actually really good looking.

Thou doth protest too much, or something like that.

 
At 5/07/2009 8:19 PM, Blogger DoubleR said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5/07/2009 8:21 PM, Blogger DoubleR said...

this is kinda off subject of the classifications with Euro players re-defining the game.The part about stereotypes and the Shoals article about what kind of of players win mvps reminded me of how the media at large goes out of its way to classify athletes as black and white,good or bad.It made me think of how we jdge people based on how they come into the league.Fisher and Rondo will always be considered scrappy tough players based on how they had to fight and be good "team guys" to earn prominent roles on legitimate title contenders.The media will make their plays about being tough and a leader more than anything else and while i saw the Fisher play as a message it was also just plaint dirty.Theres nothing tough about shoulder blocking someone who has no idea its coming.Especially when if you think about it Fishers almost guaranteed to be physically stronger than Scola.I could shoulder block a 6'8" guy who im stronger than who doesnt see it coming and i fix electronics for a living.Artest is anothere person they villify(although he gave them more ammo then they ever needed.)Anyway i may have rambled on a bit but figured id say that and see if anyone agreeed.

 
At 5/07/2009 9:03 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

I think your interpretation of Barkley and Webber's assessment of Dirk is way off. To me, they are merely observing the apparent truth that the most highly successful players do not accept that there is any limit to their ability except themselves. Their is a major psychological aspect to being able to consistently pull of the ridiculous plays that an NBA star can do, and confidence in your ability to do so is a very important part.

Furthermore, I find it very hard to accept your characterization of this as a racial or cultural issue, which is my main point. Larry Fucking Bird was one of the most extreme believers that no one could guard him that the league has ever seen. To paint Dirk as the Great White Hope while ignoring the Great White really destroys the idea that Dirk's acceptance of his guardability is part of his whiteness. It's part of Dirk's mental weakness. I guess you could make an argument about mental weakness stemming from culture, but it's very hard for me to see the criticism of Dirk in any light besides that of the fact that most great scorers do not appear to accept outside limiters, or at least they certainly rarely admit to this.

 
At 5/07/2009 9:10 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I say that it might be about Dirk being German and other people being American. Larry Bird was American. This is why classifying Dirk as the Great White Hope in the Larry vein is misleading.

 
At 5/07/2009 9:21 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

I watched Shivers.

 
At 5/07/2009 9:30 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

Still, I'm not sure whether anyone has been successful without an unstoppable attitude, so I just can't see the criticism as anything besides basketball players applying real results to Dirk's comments. Perhaps this attitude is largely American, but its importance is such that criticism of Dirk for this transcends bias because it's completely correct.

 
At 5/07/2009 11:44 PM, OpenID trouc said...

spanish bombs, your sample here is totally american players, so saying that everyone who's been successful in the nba has this attitude doesn't mean anything... it's tautological given shoals' premises.

 
At 5/08/2009 2:32 AM, Blogger Joey said...

Shoals, you don't think Dirk plays a distinctly Euro game? The way he takes those baby steps on the perimeter when trying to drive his back into a man and establish position? The way he flails when off-balanced? The full-body heaves he summons when being fouled? I always think he looks like he is trying to play American basketball but the movements are not natural. He strikes me as distinctly foreign in his motions, like a guy doing impressions.

 
At 5/08/2009 3:03 AM, Blogger milaz said...

Dirk really is a unique basketballl player, even for Europeans. From my perspective the best Euro ballers have always lived in the Balkans (former Yugoslavia, Greece) and lately the Iberian peninsula (Gasol et al). Dirk is more the statistical outlier of a football crazy Germany producing one basketball player. It's as if all the basketball talent alloted to Germany was given to one man. We are all privileged to have him play basketball for us.

 
At 5/08/2009 3:48 AM, Blogger Alexander J said...

The cult of personality surrounding Dirk is not a direct result of his playoff successes or defeats; nobody wanted to see an MVP get owned like he did against the Warriors, but many felt there were those more deserving of the trophy.

@JOEY: The way he flails when off-balanced? The full-body heaves he summons when being fouled? I always think he looks like he is trying to play American basketball but the movements are not natural. He strikes me as distinctly foreign in his motions, like a guy doing impressions.

Dirk is certainly no Marcel Marceau, but he does make good use of his gangly arms, even by NBA standards, and frame when shooting a fairly high number of free-throws.

Listen to some german hip-hop and Dirk's game begins to make perfect sense; there is something that doesn't feel quite right about the whole thing until you see a Berliner knodding his head and doing little hand gestures in perfect rhythm on the up-beats.

 
At 5/08/2009 4:48 AM, Blogger milaz said...

One more point: grouping all non-American ballers into the "Euro" group might be nice and easy for the purpose of this blog (and the book), but it really does a disservice to many players... there is the Lithuanian style, the Serbian style, the South American/Argentinian style, and then each player has his own characteristics... if Kobe is a mad perfectionist then what is "Šarūnas Jasikevičius" or "Demetris Diamantidis" in the Euroleague?

 
At 5/08/2009 7:42 AM, Blogger David said...

That pic at the top gives me a Tom Waits kinda feeling.
"She grew up outside McHenry....."
From quite possibly the finest album of all time.

No mention here of Tony Parker, who has speed and skill and all that, but doesn't seem to have anything necessarily French about his style, apart from his accent. Where does he fit?

 
At 5/08/2009 8:09 AM, Blogger W2 said...

Where does Crystal Taylor fit into Dirk's swag?

 
At 5/08/2009 11:33 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Joey--

I think the idea of "a distinct Euro game" is itself broad and lazy. He plays a German game that's over our heads.

Shoals

 
At 5/08/2009 12:02 PM, Blogger Nicholas said...

I hate to say this, but I agree with the TNT analysts. And spanish bombs. And Shoals.
Dirk is an excellent player, and scorer. Perhaps the best to ever come out of Europe. But his self limiting beliefs, however small, will always be just that--self limiting. Shoals, I agree that you cannot (or should not) compare Dirk with Bird. But not because their styles are so disparate. You cannot compare them because Dirk will never be at Bird's level. Not with that creeping self-doubt, which, however small, can wreck you. And I don't think it has anything to do with his culture, or color, or country, or other broad generalizations, but personality. His belief in his abilities. Because whether you're talking Bird or Jordan, Magic or Dream, Dr. J or John Stockton, as different as those men and their styles were, they all had one thing in common: supreme belief in themselves and their abilities on the court, and their power to make their team better. That's not American. That's Confidence. It doesn't matter if you're from Eastern Europe, Harlem, or the moon (Mooninites can ball), what matters is the belief that, as spanish bombs said, no outside force can stop you.
Barkley et. al were right to be shocked. Imagine how good Dirk could really be if he pushed past the self-doubt?
Besides, that's a distinctly un-German attitude, for Dirk to admit weakness. Haven't you read Nietzsche?
If you said that about Yao, on the other hand...

 
At 5/08/2009 12:06 PM, Blogger Joey said...

I agree; he plays a German game. That was too general of an assertion. But I stand by my real point, that he looks like he's trying to move in ways that aren't natural for him but which he's observed as the things he's supposed to be doing.

 
At 5/08/2009 12:43 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5/08/2009 12:45 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

trouc:

Not dealing with an American-only sample at all. Note Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan (okay doesn't really count, plus he is kind of a bitch, although he does blame it on the FIBA refs, which is a slightly different kind of bitch than Dirk). Plus, I'm willing to take as a given that the NBA is the epitome of basketball competition outside of national teams, and even then I think that most NBA teams could beat virtually every national team handily.

I realize that the crap-ass US Olympic team from the late 90s is kind of hanging over my head here, in that they exhibited a high amount of (over)confidence and served notice that the US's superiority was not so total that we could throw up a team of anyone. However, I think that this team's failure is pretty mitigated by the poor choice of many of its players in hindsight (Washed-up Marbury? Can't-shoot Richard Jefferson? Ben Wallace when he was old? THREE roster spots for Wade, Melo, and LB who didn't get to play, except for Wade who just charged constantly?) and its shockingly bad head coach (not that Coach K is a large improvement). In addition, that team didn't have a single transcendent star (possssssssibly Iverson) who does exhibit the make-any-shot mentality that we're discussing here. I would like to label that fiasco as less of a counterexample to NBA superiority and more just third tier NBA players getting smacked because they sucked, constantly played with only 3 to 4 skilled players, and had a moron for a coach.

 
At 5/08/2009 12:56 PM, Blogger W2 said...

Seriously, I know this is some TMZ shit, but how do the choices of a player off the court contribute to their narrative on it?

In Howard's case he has been dismissed by some more due to his words and actions and less to injury. Will Dirk's story now change as information about his personal life comes forward.

Additionally, in this case will the sharks circle vigorously smelling that self doubt that Dirk has displayed in the passed. Obviously this has little to do with how Euro his style may or may not be. But he does remind me of Paul Pierce a bit. And Pierce's style seems to be the least "black" (I don't mean to go there or at least I am not comfortable going there) of any near superstar. But there is nothing European about him that I can see.

PS I believe it was Cedric Maxwell (Celts radio guy and hyperbolist extraordinaire) claimed that Dirk was a better player than Bird. Silly.

 
At 5/08/2009 2:36 PM, Blogger Jon L said...

Plenty of African-American big men get labled as soft. Erick Dampier and Brendan Haywood come immediately to mind, though a.) they've both shed some of that reputation, to varying degrees, and b.) their "softness" was couched more in gender terms than racial ones (Erica, Brenda). You also probably could include Kwame Brown in that. I can't remember if Channing Frye was called that before people realized he's not really a center. Pervis Ellison maybe?

 
At 5/08/2009 3:49 PM, OpenID Jiggy Saw said...

I think the main point is that Dirk needs to score a lot for the Mavs to win the series and he seems to be admitting that he can't really score that well because Nene, K-Mart, and Bridman all play him so tough. As the leader of the team the other guys on the Mavs have to think he's confident and his answer didn't really show that.

 
At 5/08/2009 5:12 PM, Blogger dunces said...

The argument that you need an "unstoppable mentality" to succeed is an entirely American view of competition, rooted in our belief in the omipotence of bootstrapping, and the idea that force of will alone is enough to succeed.

I say Dirk's self-awareness is inarguably a strength in the long run for his team.

The self-help mythology that encourages players to immortalize themselves is certainly one thing that could do with a toning-down.

 
At 5/08/2009 5:49 PM, Blogger Nicholas said...

The argument that you need an "unstoppable mentality" to succeed is an entirely American view of competition, rooted in our belief in the omipotence of bootstrapping, and the idea that force of will alone is enough to succeed.no it's not, and I'm tired of people thinking this is an entirely American (and thus new) philosophy. Like I mentioned before, read Friedrich Neitzsche and his ideas on the Will to Power. He was speaking of life in broad terms, but certainly his ideas can be used to look at sports, which is a microcosm of life (or at least conflict within life).

The American "Pioneering Spirit" is certainly no myth, but it is rooted in the Pilgrims' Puritanical beliefs in success through hard work and perserverance, spurred on and secularized by the Enlightenment and then Victorian/Industrial values. The period of rapid expansion West that occurred in the 19th century, and what people think of when they use phrases like "pioneering" and "pulling oneself up by their bootstraps" in describing American history, was informed by a number of different philosophies, almost all of them coming from Europe (such as Nietzche). And those philosophies were being crafted and refined long before any Westerners reached American soil, dating back to the Romans and then the Greeks before them.

It would be much more accurate to say that having an "unstoppable mentality" is almost entirely a Western concept, as this is a philosophy conspicuously absent from far Eastern philosophies, which tend to emphasize the collective and the condition of the soul/spirit over the individual and the body.

The reality though, is that sport really hasn't changed much in the past few millenia. Nobody likes to lose, and nobody ever has. It's just that, currently, the stakes aren't life and death.

 
At 5/08/2009 5:58 PM, Blogger Jerry Vinokurov said...

If you think the "pioneering spirit" has anything to do with Nietszche, you're either reading a different edition than I am or your history is quite confused.

 
At 5/08/2009 6:03 PM, Blogger Nicholas said...

The self-help mythology that encourages players to immortalize themselves is certainly one thing that could do with a toning-down.
Agreed. I think a truly great leader will know when to show complete confidence and when to show humility. That was Dirk's sin--he should have showed complete confidence but instead was self-effacing.

"There is a season, turn, turn..."

 
At 5/08/2009 6:11 PM, Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

It had to happen: a perfectly nice little discussion going along minding its own business and then someone drops some Will to Power. What is this, Clueless? (Which was a really fine film, actually.)

 
At 5/08/2009 6:17 PM, Blogger Nicholas said...

@Jerry: I said Nietzsche because it was the first thing that popped into mind, so maybe not the best example (though I don't think it's totally irrelevant). The fact remains that many of those settlers of the Wild Wild American West were European Immigrants, and the idea of success through the forces of hard work and will are not a novel American concept. They just happened to flourish here more than elsewhere, but don't forget that Continental European and British Empirialism were running rampant during that same period in history. And to say that those two things (19th cent. global empirialism and American Westward expansion) were mutually exclusive is myopic and naive.

 
At 5/08/2009 6:19 PM, Blogger Nicholas said...

@Octopus: With a young Paul Rudd, no less!

 
At 5/08/2009 8:55 PM, Blogger Jason Gill said...

@W2- I've always felt that Paul Pierce and Dirk share very, very similar styles.

They have unstoppable jumpers weaned on wile rather than athleticism or range. They seem unathletic, but have incredible length and agility for their size. They both disappear.

And their fire isn't cold(Kobe) or hot(Jordan) but always angry that it was ever forgotten.

As for the larger topic, race in this discussion is ONLY valuable as a arbitor of culture, and then it falls right into place:

Chris Anderson is black
Tim Duncan is white
Yao is a communist
Pau is eating dinner at midnight
Vlade Divac is smoking cigarettes
Dirk is lost

 
At 5/09/2009 4:14 AM, Blogger Alexander J said...

I had not fathomed that people would use Dirk as a mirror to shine upon their own ideas of American basketball identity; the cultural intersection, perhaps, of utilitarian maximization of pleasure with a Hobbesian worldview in regards to one's personal development vis-a-vis any other individual; it's war, war, war. Paul Pierce used to be crazy athletic, Dirk plateaued early, I don't know who to compare Dirk to, and that's why we're all going crazy.

Shoal's post on the concept of multiple Jordans got me thinking about the notion of the (Un)Holy Trinity; father, son and holy spirit. Alistair Crowley maintained that the holy spirit, that which links father to son is the semen itself, the y chromosome, the holy ghost of genetic information that most people have no idea what purpose it serves other than pumping us XY's full of testosterone. So, what happens when Dirk 2.0 gets raised in some federal orphanage while his mom does time for robbing fools?

Dirk must continue wandering if he is to fulfill his creation of the productive, pacifist-nationalist German. I bet he eats mad donërs.

 
At 5/09/2009 5:47 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

"I'd like to add that Howard tries to play hurt and no one breaks out a single trumpet? In the playoffs?"Speaking from the perspective of a Mavs fan, Howard has certainly been a Warrior lately. I was quite harsh on him for the way he bailed on his team for the better part of a calendar year. And I might be a little reserved in my praise when:

A) He has wanted out of Dallas for sometime and the only way to facilitate that is to raise his trade value; and

B) He has one year left on his deal before the Mavs have to make a decision about his player option for 10-11. It's simply about playing for a contract now.

"I think the main point is that Dirk needs to score a lot for the Mavs to win the series and he seems to be admitting that he can't really score that well because Nene, K-Mart, and Bridman all play him so tough. As the leader of the team the other guys on the Mavs have to think he's confident and his answer didn't really show that.Yeah, the Nuggets are really shutting him down. 28/10 and 35/9...oh yeah, Denver has really locked him down. Fact is, the Nuggets are a much better team and he probably needs to break 40 a game to give the Mavs a chance to win. I can't believe standard complimentary boilerplate about how his opponents aren't completely fucking terrible, despite "holding" him to an average of 31/10, is taken as a sign of mental weakness. Anybody siding with the TNT crew is a complete imbecile.

 
At 5/10/2009 12:24 AM, OpenID Jiggy Saw said...

If Dirk had said what you said I don't think the guys at TNT would have had a problem. Too bad he decided to hang his head and praise all 3 guys guarding him.

As much as people want to make it seem that he's being asked to Americanize his leadership, he's leading a team with a JET, Dampier, Kidd, Howard core. I don't see what's wrong with saying that the guys who are looking to you for leadership don't wanna hear you talking like you don't have an answer for 3 guys who are giving up 31/10 a night.

 
At 5/10/2009 10:47 AM, Blogger Mike said...

As much as I agree with the cultural sentiments here, I still don't think Charles and the TNT crew would be singing the same song about Dirk had he won that Finals series against the Heat a few years back.

If anything, that, and the Warriors series the next year, helped advance the notion that Dirk is weak.

 
At 5/11/2009 1:23 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

Too bad he decided to hang his head and praise all 3 guys guarding him.Those 3 guys are doing such a "great job" in defending him, to the tune of 31/12 a game. I'm sure the reason the Mavs are down 0-3 is because his teammates are uninspired by his leadership and his being completely locked down to the tune of 31/12 a game, and not because the Nuggets are simply deeper and more athletic than Dallas.

 
At 5/11/2009 4:12 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

Dallas sucks, and Denver is tight. True. It's hard to remove players from what surrounds them, as Derek Fisher actually sometimes seems like a good player on the Lakers. There is definitely a level on which Dirk having to play with players who do not complement makes this criticism a little unfair, but such is life, and Dirk's NBA career.

Dirk probably would be seen in a different light if not for the bamboozlement that was the Miami Heat championship, but Dirk might also have retained his edge. I don't think that Dirk has always been weak, but since that Miami series, and especially since the Warriors series (when it became clear that he had missed his shot to lead a team to a championship), I think that edge has been gone. This isn't unusual; Vince Carter, who has long been seen as lacking a necessary killer instinct, was once destruction personified. Then he graduated and his team lost. Bye bye, awesomeness!

 
At 5/12/2009 3:56 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

44 points, 13 rebounds and 3 assists on 14-25 shooting, while even contesting shots on the defensive end and rotating like Anderson Varejeo or Joakim Noah. So can we agree that after last night that the TNT crew can go suck it?

 

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