Fall Over Parade


I find it possibly amazing that Gerald Wallace is in the All-Star Game and Josh Smith should be. We did it. We made it. Our choices have been just. Note: I forgot Durant was a first-time All-Star yesterday because, in my mind, he's been on since Texas. Say that what you will about my love with this game.

Oh wait, Josh Smith didn't get in, it stings me right down to the bone, and you can read all about my feelings and history's folly (committed upon its own head, no less), in this precious column of mine.

I ended up cutting a paragraph that might have been all figurative economics too dry for those parts, so I lay it here. Or at least its essence. Think about this: It took time for hs-ers and Euros (in the wake of KG and Dirk) to become automatic presences in the high lottery. There was still a little bit of lingering skepticism, or at least hesitance. And these were the consensus best few teens the world had to offer. Thus, in theory, in the beginning there was a de facto cap placed on what hs/Euro picks made it in. It was only the cream of the crop, those generally agreed upon as the "next KG" or "next Dirk."

However, it didn't stop there. Once these players moved all the way to the top, the floodgates were opened for the "Maybe Next KG" and "Possibly Maybe Next Dirk." This is how you got Josh Howard and David West going at the end of the first round; high school/Euro picks weren't boom-or-bust by nature, they were made to look this way by a willingness to, in effect, scrape the barrel and push the very logic that had made teams pursue them in the first place. The best ones were gambles on great potential, which had built into it some sense of security. It was much more like the risk built into drafting a college player, just with a different form of assurance. The latter ones gambled without any safety net.

This description is remarkably inexact. But what would have happened if teams had never decided to cross that line and go from the relatively safe teens to those with less and less to recommend them as solid pros? When people talk about some sort of committee that would decide when a player could jump from high school, it seems like what they're really talking about is this alternate reality where all these other prospects never snuck in the cracked door on account of equivocation.

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FD Guest Lecture: Ode to Quiet Stars


A brief history of my basketball verse feud with author Sherman Alexie: First, Sherman wrote a poem for TrueHoop on his reluctance to see Iverson start in the All-Star Game. Then, I hit back with a pro-AI bucket of rhymes. Now, here's his response to my response. The Monta stuff hurts!

Let me sing for Saint Thomas Aquinas,
Who believed truth is found through faith
And reason. He would not have been afraid
Of the Adjusted Plus-Minus

Or any number that contradicts
What we see and what we think we know.
The numbers tell us Anderson Varejao
Is a quiet star, setting vicious picks

And destroying the offensive schemes
Of every team. I’d take that Brazilian
Maniac over a million
Vince Carters and Tracy McGradys.

The numbers tell us that Kobe is not
The most clutch at the end of games
(LeBron is Mr. Clutch’s real name,
Though you’d be okay with a Dirk jumpshot

Or just a simple pick-and-roll).
Some folks think that Monta Ellis
Is a star, but the numbers tell us
His team suffers when he’s got the ball.

Why do hoops fans believe what they see
When there’s no sense weaker than sight?
Why do hoops fans take such delight
In crossovers and dunks, those simple dreams,

But hardly ever reward those players
Like Joe Johnson or Shane Battier,
Who have complex and strange games---
Whose skills have layer upon layer?

I’m sick of it! I’m tired and pissed!
Well, no, I’m not mad. I’m just bored
By those fans who keep track of the score
But never realize what they’ve missed.

And why do we give these fans such power
When they choose All-Stars without reason?
Here’s the tragic truth: This season,
Iverson isn’t even better than Luke Ridnour.

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An Engraving on the Stem of a 200-Year-Old Pipe

Yesterday, video surfaced that threatens to blow the NBA -- nay, the world -- wide open.

The powers that be have been controlling the league through any number of shadowy organizations for years -- we all know that David Stern rigged the 1985 lottery for the Knicks by dipping their envelope in pure Vermont maple syrup, to name just one example.

But now, one brave soul has proven what we all suspected: LeBron James is a Freemason. Somebody get Benjamin Franklin Gates on the phone!

John Krolik unearthed the video from Real Cavs Fans, but he decided to take the post down due to what I can only assume were major threats from the Illimunati themselves. Yet the truth must run free.

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A Dinner of Onions

You may also know me as Eric Freeman. Check out more of my writing at The Baseline.

Shoals has a new column on the psychology behind the LeBron/Kobe debate. And make sure to check out the latest podcast.

One of Phil Jackson's most notable tactics as Zen Master is his yearly tradition of selecting books for each of his players to read. He considers the player's personality and needs, and makes a decision based on all available factors. It's one of the clearest reminders that he's a coach who respects and values his players as people, not just basketball players.

Most years, we hear a few of the selections through the grapevine. But last night, Phil's girlfriend and Lakers Executive VP of Business Operations Jeanie Buss put all of this year's picks on Twitter. Let us analyze some of the most notable choices and figure out what Phil sees in his team.

Player: Kobe Bryant
Book: Montana 1948 by Larry Watson
Synopsis: A small-town sheriff finds out that his brother has raped and murdered numerous Native-American women. He finds himself torn between his dual loyalties to family and the law.
Meaning: Wow, Phil doesn't screw around, eh? Forget for a minute the connections to Kobe's legal troubles and consider that the reader is meant to identify with the sheriff. The common perception of Kobe is that he's torn between his need to score and his desire to win as part of the larger team. Often, he appears to toggle between each pole, unable to find a happy medium. What Montana 1948 teaches us is that no matter which option you choose, you must live with the consequences and emotions of forgoing the other choice. It's about living in the gray area, something Kobe must embrace to realize his full potential as a teammate and star.

Player: Pau Gasol
Book: 2666 by Roberto Bolaño
Synopsis: A five-part, nearly 900-page novel following a disparate group of characters, with many plot threads, including serial murders and the possible end of the world, connected only by the most tenuous of threads.
Meaning: This choice is more about what it represents than the actual content of the novel. 2666 is notoriously difficult, a full-on experience that rewards patience, creative interpretation, and the reader putting as much as he can into reading. In short, Phil wants Pau to push himself, to put forth so much effort that he'll push his critical abilities to new heights. Just like on the court, he needs to stop being content and get the most out of his considerable natural talent.

Player: Ron Artest
Book: Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
Synopsis: A coaching legend details his philosophy of basketball as the ultimate in spiritual communication among teammates.
Meaning: This is one of the few choices Buss explained: apparently Phil likes to give new players an introduction to his approach to basketball. Sorry, but I don't buy it. The more likely explanation is that Phil knows Artest is borderline insane, tried to think of a suitable book, couldn't come up with anything, and just picked up one of the copies of Sacred Hoops he had around the house. The good news is that Ron-Ron is so sincere that he'll undoubtedly take every message in the book to heart. It's just unclear what it'll all mean to him.

Player: Shannon Brown
Book: Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama
Synopsis: Our president reflects on growing up as a mixed-race child in America.
Meaning: Yeah, Brown is light-skinned, but this isn't about race. Brown was an athletic dynamo of a star at Michigan State, was drafted by Cleveland in the hope that he could be a sidekick for LeBron, and seemed like a bust before he made it to LA. In other words, he grew up with one identity, found that it didn't entirely suit him, and now must adjust to a new life as a role player. Dreams from My Father can help him realize that his past identity doesn't need to be cast away, that it can constitute his adult self just as much as the new role he must take on.

Player: Luke Walton
Book: The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey
Synopsis: Four ecologically-conscious misfits rage against the machinery of pollution.
Meaning: As the son of Bill, Luke probably likes to get high in nature. But that's a passive activity, and sometimes complacent appreciation isn't enough. You must rise up and take what's needed for Mother Earth. (Note: Phil gave this book to Luc Longley during the Bulls years, with disastrous results.)

Player: Lamar Odom
Book: The Right Mistake by Walter Mosley
Synopsis: An ex-con gets out of prison after 27 years and becomes a fount of wisdom. He shares his story and advises others.
Meaning: The most inspired choice of all. Lamar has been through a lot in his life, and he's come out on the other side better for it. Phil knows this, and wants him to become an agent of change. Lamar has the power -- it's up to him to make the next step and reach out to others.

Player: Derek Fisher
Book: Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver
Synopsis: A collection of political essays by a then-incarcerated leader of the Black Panther Party.
Meaning: Fisher is basically the definition of a veteran, a dependable, serious soul on which the rest of the team can rely. But he's also safe, so maybe it's time to inject a little fire into his system.

Player: Adam Morrison
Book: Che: A Graphic Biography by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon
Synopsis: The life of the revolutionary Che Guevara in comic book form.
Meaning: Look, Phil, we all know AmMo has no future with the Lakers, but that doesn't mean you have to slap him in the face. Morrison is a noted fan of Guevara, so it's clear his coach put little thought into this choice. And if you're going with a Che-related work, why not pick something with a little more heft, like the 800-page Jon Lee Anderson bio, or even the Criterion Collection version of Soderbergh's four-hour biopic? You might as well have given him Con Air for its heartfelt portrayal of a man struggling with diabetes.

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Meet the Beatles

Dan and Ken get back together and try to shake the cynicism and negativity that's out there. And what better way to feel joy than talk a little about Sundiata Gaines?

Another way to spread joy? Helping NBA players find other activities to do on the plane, instead of gambling. Dan and Ken try to do their part.

There's some other stuff Ken and Dan talk about that isn't so positive. It couldn't be helped.

You can help the people in Haiti by donating to charity.

Songs from the episode:

"A Joy" - Four Tet
"Smile A Little Bit More" - Al Green
"2+2=5" - Radiohead
"The Cure for Stagnation" - Sia and Yeshua
"The Other Jesus" - Swervedriver

Subscribe via iTunes, whydontya?



I've Been Around

This game is making me shiver.

I've written some good shit at AOL in my first week. Like, things that would do just fine on this site. Don't believe me? Take a look at these responsible links.

-Exporting the Positional Revolution to the masses, for OKC/ATL and then as the saving grace of All-Star Weekend.

-Why the NBA's "observance" of MLK Day bugs me.

-And, reunited with Ziller, the comic gem "Why DeJuan Blair Went So Late" and a graph-heavy, theory-laden extravaganza on the subject of individuality, morality, and free will.

If you liked any of that, here's the feed for my posts.



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An Uncluttered Life



We’ve been doing an awful lot of talking about talking lately; there are so many voices in my head Syd Barrett would feel right at home pulling up a beanbag chair and taking up residence in my frontal lobe. I’ll spare everyone the Gilbert allusions and the theory that Brandon Jennings had this whole new digital age thing all figured out and was in a position to be the first player to create his iconography without the assistance of the traditional press until he fell out of love with Twitter again. It’s a reminder that mastery over a medium that allows such open discourse is like trying to control air. Maybe some day. Dude’s still 19 years old and trying to work it out just like the rest of us, or maybe he's a step or two ahead and already on to the next thing.

Point is, almost everyone talks in the NBA and in many cases the why is more interesting than the actual conversation. Some use communication to build their profile, a la Gil and Brandon, while others speak only out of necessity. This isn't a star/grunt construct either. Several elite players have deepened their allure by being distant and mysterious, if not moody (Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett), and just as many journeymen have enhanced their careers by simply being good talkers. The vast majority is made up of players that range from nondescript to noble depending on their substance. Steve Nash, who has assumed a Bono-like role as the collective conscious of the league outside the context of the court, is an example of the latter.

Then there is Rasheed Wallace, who is one of the rare few whose words are as compelling as his motivation for speaking them. It received little play at the time, but Wallace essentially challenged the entire ecosystem of the NBA back in November. Long story short, Sheed remains convinced that Tim Dongahy wasn’t the only ref in on the con. Others have expressed doubt about the official version of events, but none have gone on the attack and with such complete matter-of-factness as Wallace. What takes this beyond the realm of outrageous outspokenness and into the realm of subtle genius is his rationale. In an interview he gave to the Boston Herald some weeks back, Wallace said, essentially: I’ll say whatever it is I want to say, cause fuck it, I can.

The money quote:

“You know, I say what’s on my mind, speaking my freedom, and I get fined for it. It’s a catch-22 with that (expletive), man. See, they think they can control people with money. Everybody don’t live like that.”

Sheed's invoking a blend of libertarianism mixed with some Marxian distrust of authoritarian institutions, common stuff to any third-year anarchist at Antioch, but by the conventions of the NBA, this is some revolutionary shit. It's tempting, then, to see Wallace as a political figure speaking truth to power, but that's not quite right because for all his bombast, he is essentially apolitical. For a politician there has to be some kind of rational benefit to challenging the status quo. Be it for power, a genuine desire to affect some kind of real change, or even megalomania, there’s a method behind it all. (Michael Steele may be the exception here). Wallace, however, seems far too cynical, or maybe wise, to believe that his words will ever resonate beyond that day’s news cycle.

He's not selling anything, not even his ideas. He has nothing to gain, and apparently also nothing to lose. If he’s right about everything he’ll shrug and go back to jacking 3’s. If he’s wrong, he’ll probably do the same. Either way he’s getting T’d up at the first sign of trouble. There is no end game here. This has caused some in Boston to question his sanity, if not his motives, but that’s the wrong read because he doesn’t seem to have one. A motive that is, beyond a strict moral code of the court that belongs to him alone.

Wallace leaves it up to everyone else to figure it out for themselves and for the scattered believers, Sheed is the true NBA iconoclast, questioning the league at every turn and referring to LeBron as The Golden Child. (Also Hedo Turkoglu as Turkododo. Nobody ever said he wasn’t funny as hell when he wants to be).

Quoting Mencken: “The iconoclast proves enough when he proves by his blasphemy that this or that idol is defectively convincing – that at least one visitor to the shrine is left full of doubts. The liberation of the human mind has been best furthered by gay fellows who heaved dead cats into sanctuaries and then went roistering down the highways of the world, proving to all men that doubt; after all was safe – that the god in the sanctuary was a fraud.”


It struck me as odd that David Stern would fine Wallace for criticizing officials, while allowing him to question the Donaghy madness without sanction. But by doing so, Stern would have inadvertently given credence to Sheed’s theories and opened them up to scrutiny, and by letting it go Stern relegates him to the role of the solitary man in the town square squawking about end times. He is easily dismissed, even banished from the realm.

But Sheed is not Sisyphus. He is not a prisoner of his rhetoric, and in fact, he has very little stake in the outcome. His latest contract will probably be his last and it’s not like he’s auditioning to replace Barkley on TNT. The truth about Donaghy, et al., will come out eventually. It almost always does and it might wind up setting some people free. But not Sheed. He’s already there, secure in his beliefs and without fear of real reprisal.

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Majestic Scorn and Risk


Q. McCall writes about WNBA for Swish Appeal. He was last seen around these parts assessing Iverson/Tupac; this post was prompted by my FanHouse column on MLK and the NBA.

Just the other day, the high school I work at held their annual MLK assembly with English classes from each grade presenting speeches about what MLK meant to them. I stayed for a bit, but left at about the time that I assumed I would have to finish preparing for class. So I made copies, set up the classroom and waited.

And waited.

I returned to the auditorium about 20 minutes after the bell for class had sounded and found the assistant principal outside waiting for the students to exit (in perfectly orderly fashion of course). “Are we on an alternate schedule today?” I asked another teacher as the AP walked away to respond to a call, demonstrating my naivete as a part-time teacher at the school. “No,” the woman laughed facetiously. “They’re just running late – you know how these things go.”


So I returned to class and relayed the story to my co-teacher: the irony of cutting class time at a predominately black inner-city school that is soon to be subjected to state control for failing to make achievement-test based progress is troubling enough. But it’s as though in the process of celebrating the man, we have forgotten that he was not just a figurehead but a highly educated individual who actually committed himself to school and received a PhD before joining a movement that pre-dated him. It was one of many reasons for tension between King and Fred Shuttlesworth.

When our students finally did return to class another 20 minutes later, we asked how the assembly was. “It was good,” said one student, with that kind of indifferent dismissiveness that adolescents pull off so well. “Somebody spoke about knowing him.” The other students had similar responses until the last one: “It was a waste of time,” he said sitting down confidently. “It’s just the same old stuff every year. And we still ain’t learning nothing.” At some point, the watering down of King’s life and the way we pass off these annual events as “education” year after year has to become a source of concern rather than a comfortably accepted reality.

Earlier today, Bethlehem Shoals passed on the article he wrote about MLK Day for FanHouse, which led to an interesting discussion between the two of us about that very issue – the watering down of his legacy and our unthinking acceptance of it as a singular day of service. I would argue that it’s the best treatment of race I’ve seen from him, especially considering it’s an angle on MLK Day that some people – see the comments -- would rather dismiss. And Shoals is right – there is a massive contradiction between the NBA and King’s vision. But there’s more to it than that – our whole approach to MLK Day is somewhat ironic given that King essentially committed his life to challenging the contradictions in our society that perpetuated racism.

Early in his career, the contradictions he challenged were those between the constitutional ideals of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and the reality of life for blacks in the U.S. Case in point:

I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeking to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. And only yesterday more than 40 houses of worship in the State of Mississippi alone were bombed or burned because they offered a sanctuary to those who would not accept segregation. I am mindful that debilitating and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Later in his career – the point when his rhetoric was suddenly received as more dangerous and threatening to the U.S. way of life -- it was the blatant contradiction of redirecting our attention from the plight of the poor in the U.S. to sending poor young men to Vietnam to fight another impoverished society.


Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the National Liberation Front, but rather to my fellow Americans. Since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated, as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So, I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Regardless of what we make of King’s assertions – either before or after he turned to his Poor People’s Campaign – the fact remains that this is what King was about as much as anything else: resolving our moral contradictions.

Sociocultural learning theorist Yrjo Engestrom writes that the tension caused by these contradictions is what leads to learning – the process of working through the anxiety caused by blatant discrepancies in our ways of thinking and resolving them leads us to refine our understanding of our own circumstances. It’s uncomfortable, but, as Gert Biesta describes, in some ways learning is an act of violence – destroying one’s pre-conceived notions and building a new way of thinking….over and over again.

Of course, that’s impossible when we have whittled King’s entire life down to one or two soundbytes, commodified them, and annually celebrated a watered down memory for so long that it’s hard to even discern what his life was about. A day of service or quietly engaging in service throughout the year without taking a public stand is in direct opposition to what King stood for. It’s comfortable – as comfortable as watching the game on the day off granted to us in memory of King – and we should not confuse that with honoring King’s life.

The title of Garrow’s book about King is Bearing the Cross, a biblical reference and described participation in the struggle in his writings (p 148): “I know this whole experience is very difficult for you to adjust to,” King wrote, “but as I said to you yesterday, this is the cross that we must bear for the freedom of our people.” The struggle is difficult, but “I am asking God hourly to give me the power of endurance.”

If we set aside whatever qualms we have about organized religion, the point here is that King was more than speeches and sloganeering – it requires people to stand up and publicly assume a heavy and burdensome responsibility for enacting change. The civil rights movement was indeed a struggle that forced many people to make sacrifices that we have not just forgotten but ignored. So while people often wonder where our great leaders have gone, perhaps a better question to ask is where are the people willing to stand up and assume responsibility for moving us forward? It’s not at all that they don’t exist – I work with and know many of those people. It’s that far too often, we look for others to “bear the cross” while we continue to live our lives of comfort.


Today we still sit with blatant contradictions that we refuse to discomfort ourselves to resolve, partially because of our refusal to deal with the discomfort of race talk, as described by Latoya Peterson:

Sadly, the progress hoped for by many in minority communities has not materialized. Instead, our conversations about race and its impact on American life are no more insightful or sophisticated than before, as evidenced by the discomfort we have in discussing racial issues in anything other than a superficial form. The newly appointed Attorney General Eric Holder attempted to have an honest conversation about race and racism with his colleagues at the Justice Department last February.

People get excited about the prospect of a post-racial, color-blind society when black professors are harassed by police and senators making poorly worded observations are somehow linked to segregationists. The racialized disparities in public schools are boiled down to a matter of non-white students needing to work harder and raising test scores as class sizes stay at 25+. Globally, there is a brief outpouring of support for Haiti after a major earthquake in which the damage caused was only exacerbated by our blatant neglect of their problems across administrations. Should athletes be solely responsible for challenging all of these contradictions? Of course not. And neither should the NBA. However, it’s also problematic to pretend that we’re honoring King with a bunch of watered down tropes and silly memes. As Chris Hedges describes, it’s representative of a world, “informed by simplistic, childish narratives and clichés. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection.”

None of this is to say King’s own life wasn’t full of contradictions – people often credit him for the entire movement when he only reluctantly joined the movement because organizers needed to use his church for a meeting. His treatment of women in the movement as second-class citizens is well documented by historians David Garrow and Barbara Ransby. He was against the formation of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Commission that Ella Baker pushed for fearing a loss of control for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Contradictions are part of being human – we cannot expect to anyone to be free from them, even those that we mythologize and turn into figureheads of an entire movement.

Nevertheless, Shoals is right – there is no reason to boycott the NBA or reactively accuse them of abdicating an imagined responsibility to fight for social justice. His point – at least as I read it – is that we’ve lost sight of what MLK was really about. One way to correct that would be to take this day as an opportunity to better understand his legacy – committing ourselves to revisiting his speeches, discussing their significance, and having honest discussions about where we are now with regard to the very contradictions he addressed. But it’s gotten to the point where the contradictions between what we’re saying about him and our actions are becoming clear.

And even a 15-year-old -- who has probably known nothing other than a watered down version of the King narrative – can see that.


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The Lives of Others


Jay Caspian Kang thinks John Henson should wear a muu muu and a fat guy hat. Follow him at twitter.com/maxpower51

In the summer after graduating from college, as part of my introduction to New York City, I took the A train down to the fabled West 4th Street basketball courts. All melancholy literary types are required to vividly remember, and then write about, their first encounters with The City and so I, too, can recall the heat that day and how it curled the edges of the wheat-pasted posters, pushing those sight-bending currents of hot air out of the subway exits. When I got to the courts, a middle-aged man with a camera around his neck told me that the league games had been delayed on account of the heat. Two lines of massive men in jerseys leaned up against the chain-link fence, occasionally looking up at the cloudless sky for some form of absolution, occasionally looking out at the court where some teenage kids were playing three on three. Two of the kids—how could I have not noticed?—were Asian. The game was a fundamental mess, just six guys scrambling around until one could find a dunking lane. After about five or six failed tries, one of the Asian kids managed to throw one down, eliciting a half-hearted chorus of oohs and aahs from the assembled crowd.

After a decently choreographed strut, this kid turned towards the chain-link fence and screamed, “Fuck yeah, n***a! You see me just dunk on that n***a?” Then, turning to his fellow Asian, he puffed out his chest and said, “N***a, this shit is over.”

No one the fence seemed to think this was strange or even worthy of comment. I, as they say, shat my pants.

Later, while wandering around an empty street in Flushing, I overheard two kids talking to one another in Korean. When I turned around, I saw that the kids were Black. They must have read the disbelief on my face for what it was—an ignorant outsider who was about to take a mental photo for his cultural tourism scrapbook—because they gave me a dirty look and crossed the street.

How did I, who, prior to moving to New York, had lived in Boston, North Carolina, Maine, Los Angeles and Seattle, make it to the age of twenty-three without having ever met an Asian-American kid who had grown up much differently from me? It’s true that I spent my childhood in nice, college towns and that my exposure to other Asian-Americans was limited to bi-monthly potluck dinners where all the alumni of my father’s high school would sit around and discuss God knows what, but I cannot help but wonder if this vacancy of identity might be the inevitable product of an entire generation of kids who were pushed directly into the structures of American success. Almost all the Asian-American kids who grew up with me have lost the ability to speak the native language of our parents. Our conversations with our grandparents are conducted in shouted commands and hand gestures. When we watch Old Boy or In the Mood for Love, we alternate between an unfamiliar, displaced pride in a connection we cannot quite delineate and the shame of having to access it through subtitles. This distance, at least for me, came from a desire to duck out from the traditional immigrant shelter of family and culture, and although it felt like a conscious choice at the time, I sometimes look around at my Asian-American friends who suffer from the same blind spots, and wonder if we might have had any say at all.

The truth is, I really don’t know.

If we, indeed, tell ourselves stories to live, the children of immigrants find themselves with the odd task of having to make one up as they go along. The stories projected upon me by my parents were episodic and told in a language of destinations. On the first page, my sister and I sit with the other pilgrims at the tabard. On the next page, we arrive at the Archbishop of Harvard’s door. What happens between those two markers is what a friend of mine once referred to as, “our leg in the blind sprint towards whiteness.” For him and me and the Asian-American kids I grew up with, the verbs and the adjectives in our narratives are disposable, circumstantial. What matters is the tyranny of nouns. If we see another Asian kid in the classroom or in the workplace, we simply assume that they got there the same way we did. Why bother asking? We are the Son-at-Harvard or Nephew-at-Columbia or the Son-who-works-at-Goldman or the Daughter-who-just-got-into-Stanford Medical School. When the weight of our common hyphens forces us into naming some other connection, we summon the only metanarrative we know, collected from our own memories and the commonalities we assume—fathers who are computer programmers or dry cleaners, insane mothers who only shop at Costco, piano lessons, Asian Church, pickled immigrant foods and 1500s on the SATs. For the most part, the metanarrative is enough.

The only stories that might make us pause and reconsider the paradigm of endings are the ones that provide us with an alien set of destinations—the stand-up comedian, the police chief, the mass murderer, the potential first round pick in the NBA Draft. In other words, those stories that belong to other races.

The lineage of Jeremy Lin isn’t found in racial pie charts or in the history of unlikely minorities in big-time sports. Yao, Ichiro, Wat Misaka and Eugene Chung are not his context. Neither is Hines Ward. Instead, to understand Jeremy Lin, we must look to Jin, the diminutive Chinese emcee from Jackson Heights who, for seven weeks, dominated the Battle Stage on BET’s 106th and Park.


As is true with Jeremy Lin, it mattered that Jin was American born, it mattered that he was competing in front of a mostly Black crowd on BET and it mattered that he was doing it with lines like, “If you make one joke about rice or karate/NYPD be in Chinatown searching for your body.” When Wyclef ruined his career by trying to turn him into a dance-happy club bopper, it mattered that Jin told ‘Clef to fuck off and went straight back to battle raps. More than all that, though, it mattered that Jin was legit, succeeding in the closest thing the music industry has to a meritocracy. And although Ruff Ryders probably envisioned some DOA Eminem experiment when they signed him, it mattered that Jin was better than the pigeonhole. He wasn’t a short-lived anomaly or even some college radio act fueled by a disastrous vision of cultural tourism. He was a battle rapper and even after his run on 106 and Park and his album flop, he kept appearing on battle DVDs and he kept winning.

Yes, he probably inspired a few Asian kids to see a rap career as a real possibility, but Jin represented more than another against-all-odds Asian success story. He wasn’t Connie Chung or Gary Locke or Jerry Yang, who, regardless of their intentions, confirm the country’s racial math. Jin went Black. In doing so, for those of us who were heeled on the mantra of assimilation, who have grown weary of the race towards whiteness, who have lived our lives in the strange space of identifying with hip-hop’s stories of racial oppression, but who have never really felt that our own stories could live up to the comparison, Jin’s bravado and skill offered an alternative interpretation of what it meant to be an Asian-American.

Try to understand, most of us, at some point in the race, have wanted to turn around and start running the other way.

What, then, do you do with Jeremy Lin? Through no fault of his own, Lin stands at a bombed-out intersection of expected narratives, bodies, perceived genes, the Church, the vocabulary of destinations and YouTube. The Son-at-Harvard of a computer programmer from Palo Alto by way of Taiwan, Jeremy Lin is the metanarrative, and yet, without having done anything but dunk a basketball, his unwitting doppelganger waves a flag on the other side. If basketball doesn’t work out, Lin has said he would like to become a pastor, citing his family’s long-time devotion to the church. But in the spray-shot saloon of professional athletes and public assumptions, no place is more sinful than his first career choice: the NBA. Of course, it doesn’t even need to be said that none of these things, are, in fact, contradictory, but Lin’s story has already been taken over by writers, bloggers and fans who feel the need to distort, tweak and primp him up into a perfect metaphor.

In those hands, we are all absurd and riddled with contradiction. As perfectly as Jeremy Lin might fit inside our expectations for Asian-Americans, the reason for his sudden celebrity goes outside of the cultural matching game his fans play when they compare Jeremy Lin’s story to their own. There have been other Asian-American athletes who have excelled in other sports, only to elicit little to no response from the community. Across the Bay from Lin’s hometown of Palo Alto, Kurt Suzuki just turned in the best season of any position player on the Oakland A’s. A little way down the 101 in San Luis Obispo, Chris Gocong’s Philadelphia Eagles jersey hangs in the locker room at Cal Poly. Hines Ward was Super Bowl MVP and a possible Hall of Famer. So why does Jeremy Lin, shooting guard for the Harvard Crimson, repeatedly sell out gyms across the country?

It’s mostly about the dunks. The attention surrounding Lin has exploded this year, not because he’s playing any better than he did last year or because anyone cares about Harvard basketball, but because of the clips that have started circulating around youtube and sports websites that show Jeremy Lin dunking all over Georgetown, Boston College and UConn. Without this footage, which is studied with an almost anthropological zeal on some Asian-American sports blogs (yes, they exist), Jeremy Lin would be nothing more than a nice human-angle story, another kid from unexpected origins who was making the best of his God-given ability.

In one of his most watched YouTube clips, Lin sprints back on defense and swats a dunk attempt by UConn’s Jerome Dyson. In the clip’s caption, Dyson is described as “Jerome Dyson, projected 2nd round pick in the 2010 draft.” For the author of the caption, the equation is clear: Jeremy Lin not only can play, but he has the hops to youtube a guy who will one day be playing in the league, and not some white kid from Dartmouth, but a bona-fide African-American athlete.

Therefore, by the transitive property, Jeremy Lin can also play in the league.

With its giants in skimpy uniforms, basketball allows us to see, clearly and plainly, the differences between us, the fans, and the athletes on the floor. Our perception of those bodies is driven by antiquated, but overwhelmingly accepted ideas of race. Dwight Howard is described as the winner of a “genetic lottery.” Lebron is either “otherworldly” or “superhuman,” whereas Steve Nash’s success comes from his ability to “overcome his athletic limitations.” When confronted with the task of placing their man on either side of the divide, Jeremy Lin’s fans, who have spread their research out across message boards and sports blogs, point out his breakaway speed, his vertical leap, his deceptive height. What they do not discuss is his jump shot, his free-throw percentage or his ability to throw a crisp bounce pass. Somewhere in the endless comparisons, odd personal anecdotes about meeting the man, and obsessive odes to Lin’s musculature, these fans have placed an implicit caveat onto his story: if he makes it to the league and plays a White game, this will all be for nothing.

Unfair, yes. But those of us trapped within the metanarrative have been conditioned our entire lives to imagine White. Like Jin before him, what Jeremy Lin represents is a re-conception of our bodies, a visible measure of how the emasculated Asian-American body might measure up to the mythic legion of Big Black supermen.

Within that singularly American calculus, it’s not about basketball at all. It’s about our fucked up anthropology.


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Permanent Louts

Recording on Monday night, Shoals joins Dan, which is nice, considering all the other podcasts he’s been on lately.

Since Shoals already talked about Gil plenty, we try to find other things to talk about. And we succeed!

First, we talk about whether or not the Celtics are bullies. This leads to a long discussion of Kevin Garnett and his antics/tactics. Again, we recorded this on Monday night. It was before this poll was released voting KG the NBA’s worst trash talker.

Now, we’re not saying we had anything to do with the way the poll came out, just so that our conversation would seem that much more relevant. We would never say that. That’s not the kind of thing we say out loud.

There is also some discussion of long losing streaks, the joys of following mediocre teams when they win, complaints about work, and a history lesson for Dan.

Since this was recorded on Monday there was no talk of the earthquake in Haiti. NBA Cares is supporting the relief effort, and if you can help, even a little, it is needed.

Songs from the episode:

“Walk and Talk (Demo)” - Velvet Underground
“Bad Touch Example” - Company Flow
“Career Finders” - Perceptionists
“A Tender History in Rust” - Do Make Say Think

Hey! You! Subscribe via iTunes!

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He Will Take You Away

If the following video doesn't hit you on a number of levels, be dead and be gone from my sight:

Meanwhile, keepin' up with the future:

-Language and coverage of Gil. You know you love it.

-Eric Freeman coins the term "reverse-tanking," which I predict gets big.

There are some guest posts in the works, but for now, reacquaint yourself with my new home. And watch that video over and over again.

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The Day the Earth Stood Stil

The problem with trying to write about my old-new (or is it new-old?) gig at FanHouse? All that comes to mind is cliches, which even when damaged remain cliches. They say you can't go home again, but you can. They say they never really miss you till you're dead or you're gone. Yet cliches, and their bastard derivatives, are true for a reason. So, as they say in Spartacus, it's huntin' time!!!!

I started my professional blogging career at AOL back in 2006, which was also when the sky opened up and this started to look like a viable career for many of us. We were are so young then. That's when I got to know Ziller, Skeets, Matt Watson, Alana G, Nate Jones, and a slew of other talented folks who were part of that early operation, helmed by the indomitable Jamie Mottram. But it was fun like the gold rush was fun, which meant we also worked hard, dealt with growing pains–ours, AOL's, the field's—and drove ourselves into the ground. I bled and cried as much as anyone, which is a weird thought if you know me. So eventually I left for cushier pastures, like when everyone on Deadwood keeps threatening to go back East and take a bath.

As time went by, though, I saw my old friends rise in the ranks. I saw bloggers get the respect they deserved. I saw FanHouse look less like a free-for-all, and more like a German automobile, which I'm pretty sure ruins my Deadwood analogy. And so, after two years away, I'm back starting today. I'll still be a little less nuts than on FD, but they want me for me. I'm reunited with Tom, which means more far-out infographics. Matt's now my boss, but refuses to let me call him "Sir Watson" or "Mr. Livingston". It's good to be back working with the likes of Brett and Nate, as well as folks like Rob Peterson and Matt Moore whom I met in the interim. Producer Randy Kim is someone I share some real world, non-hoops friends with. Ain't that a sign.

Speaking of change, let it be known that Eric Freeman, a.k.a. Ty Keenan, is taking over The Baseline. I think he sent an email to some press people entitled "FreeDarko Sleeper Cell Emerges at Sporting News." This post on first coaching jobs is an early favorite of mine.

He wanted me to call this announcement "Tell your God to be ready for blood," but that was scary. So I've opted for a straightforward title, and this Robert John Wilkins/Rolling Stones quote for the close: "Kill that calf and call the family round/my son was lost but now he is found/'cause that's the way for us to get along". You were just spared a Fat Joe clip, so be thankful and get pumped!!!!!!

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Three things of note:

-The above very interesting Dr. J. video. Get involved, get into it.

-I was a guest on The Dagger Report, where Mike Prada, Kyle from Truth About It, and myself let the Arenas anguish and confusion flow.

-Finally, I am happy to announce that tonight's meeting of the SSSBDA went fine, though I want to change it to SSSDBA, which stands for "Death by Arrival." Instead, I was convinced to change our name to "Basketball Death Association." However, I would also like to announce the official end of my fatwa against Stephen Curry. No, he's still no point guard, and the non-stop love for him must eventually expire. Tonight against the Cavs, though, he looked damn good: streaking to the basket with quickness and agility, beating defenders with the crossover, displaying real urgency when knocking down threes, and filling up the stat sheet. Curry can play on or off the ball, pile up points from all over, and move the ball around well enough, too. He's creative and exciting, and is at his best when his confidence guides him, but is also more than a little careless. In other words, he and Monta Ellis are turned out to be more like each other than we'd ever expected. Ty Keenan just called him "the white Monta."

Also worth noting: While Curry remains the darling of purists around the world, he's also an ideal Nellie guard (Ellis comes up short on that count). And only in that haywire system by the Bay could this golden boy actually thrive. That's a cruel irony, but one I can applaud all day, and maybe even makes me like the kid a little more. Not just grudgingly respect him.

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Google Reader Will Outlive Us All


READ ME. Twilight of the gods, more Gil, some loose ends, and an x-ray of my face.

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How Dew U Wan Tit?


Seriously, fuck Lost. Go to the doctor. Read my ultimate Gil outpouring.

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There's a Dark Hand Over My Heart

I am really not going to look back over everything I've written this past week and apologize, or tweak, according to the latest revelations. Head to TMZ if you really want to feel like the sky is falling. It pains the fuck out of me to acknowledge that, somehow, Vecsey did sort of have the story all along, perhaps the only real reporting of his career. How he got it pre-Gil/Critt cover-up will hopefully come to light soon, and I'm sure will make this ten times craziers. BECAUSE PETER VECSEY DOES NOT GET STORIES THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY. He doesn't know how to.

It's "Armageddnon Week" on the History Channel, and my listening for the day has moved onto this:

But this is really still about Gil. I said on Dan Levy's podcast last night that this was Gil at his most Gil ever. One friend said he's never been more proud of, or at least fascinated, by Arenas. However, Lang's got the most sobering angle on it: Arenas just doesn't seem to recognize that sometimes you can't plow through the world on sheer whim alone. You have to do shit you don't want to, follow orders, and go by the logic of something other than your own bonkers mental activity. Why would Gil have ever learned that lesson? He's a self-made superstar, defying the ban on combo guards, the expectations that he'd fail as a pro, and the post-Jordan belief that personality doesn't sell anymore. He wouldn't sit down and shut up, or play by the rules, not because he's a rebel, but because he's just completely out-there and independent.

He did his whole career his way. And he carried that over into a crisis that could very well end it. The Twitter, the FINGER GUNZ, they flew in the face of everything he was supposed to do—that Stern wanted him to do for the good of the league—to such an extent that it's hard to see this as, in the most grave way possible, Gil being Gil. To the bitter fucking end, I guess. Plus, that he is the lovable goofball works against him. At least a hardened thug-like dude has it expected of him, and is easy damage control for the league to run. In a way, Artest's history of violence allows him to get away with darn near anything now, even if he's at bottom just as fundamentally weird as Gil. Arenas, though, doesn't have that buffer. Nor does he have Delonte West's diagnosis. Gilbert Arenas is what he is, always has been, and he insists on being accepted for that. That's stubborn, arrogant, and misguided, but just as often refreshing, charming, and exhilarating. But here, Arenas knew the truth all along, and Stern's likely known for a minute. That Gil couldn't for once take a break from fighting for acceptance, or noticed that to survive you sometimes have to roll over and play possum, is everyone's loss.

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Leo Durocher Sent Me

All I've ever really wanted to say all along about Gil, in column form: sports aren't morality. If you look to them for that, you're shallow and confused.

Now, go listen to the podcast.

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Stop, Listen, and Ears

Dan is joined by Ken, who was first on an old computer and then on an old phone. Ken says he used to have good equipment, but that his dog ate it.

Anyway, they still managed to get in a good discussion of the Bucks playing defense, Brandon Jennings playing point guard, the Thunder playing defense, the Knicks playing decently, Nate Robinson playing, John Wall playing incredibly, the poor play in the Kentucky-Louisville game, and Gilbert playing with guns.

No playing!

Songs from the episode:

"Brand New Day" - Dizzee Rascal
"Great Expectations" - The New Year
"Tron Man Speaks" - Antipop Consortium
"It Ain't Nuthin' (The Chapter Remix)" - MF Doom
"Freaks in Charge" - Superchunk

Hey! You! Subscribe via iTunes!

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His Mustache Lingers On

R.I.P. Willie Mitchell, here are my three most favorite productions of his that were easy to post. Missing: Jimmy McCracklin's "Stay Away From That Monkey" and O.V. Wright's "I Don't Do Windows."

All old musicians eventually go, but this man was an institution.

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Crank It Up, Feel the Health


I never thought I'd get a chance to experience Tiger Woods, or Brett Favre, but here I am. As best as I can tell, NBA blogging exists at this point to type, all drivel-like, about whatever someone told someone else in the last hour. Good thing I am busy with the book. However, one thing's clear: There's a lot of bullshit in the air, of the worst, inflammatory kind. And once that stuff is said, there's no going back. No correction ever really repairs things. The process by which a celebrity beats back initial false reports is almost as fascinating as it is sickening. And as I've said, some public figures simply lack the clout to move past it.

I come here not to blindly defend Arenas, or offer explanations as I did when Delonte rolled around strapped. I still don't know, any better than you or the constantly updated news stories do, what happened and how it interfaces with the law. But a lot of the reporting here, and blog dissemination of it, is straight out of last summer's campaign. I know, Sharpton's contrasting the arena Obama watches games at with steel in the locker room. And yet isn't this "where there's smoke, there's outrage" b/w "there's always next hour's web update to clean things up" approach to news exactly what allowed the right to get traction with stupid shit throughout the campaign?

But in a lot of ways, this is even worse. Dear everyone, do you remember who broke the John Woo-ready version of the story? Peter Vecsey. Along with Sam Smith, he's pretty much the one reporter whose rumors you might as well write the opposite of and go from there. Now in this case, he did have a kernel of truth in what he wrote. Yet he wrapped it up in every conceivable layer of sensationalism, and continues to even in the thrice-scrubbed-over version of the story that sits on the Post's site now.

(Lang reminded me that Gil pointed out that one of Vecsey's original sources was a street ball player. Appropriate, seeing as Vecsey's the And1 of NBA reportage.)

Vecsey unleashed a scene right out of the old cowboy Pacers, Yahoo! actually came first, but theirs was much more solidly on the back of previous reports about the investigation. And from there, all hell broke loose. We built this city on Peter Vecsey; Yahoo!'s far more responsible report inadvertently added fuel to the fire. It was a classic example of going for broke with the news micro-cycle—and, if anyone cares, setting up readers of print dailies to be completely misinformed for days on end.

Have I brought up Vecsey enough? Anyone remember when he claimed Josh Smith and Zaza were fightin' with fists in their locker room, and then had Smith attacking bouncers? These were major blows against a young player teetering between "future star" and "head case." Then, lo and behold, AJC beat writer supreme Sekou Smith—who was there—set the record straight. Read the whole link, but the gist: Peter Vecsey is a snake who makes shit up for tabloid reasons. Anyone who doesn't conduct themselves with this fact in mind is no better than him.


Now I'm just getting angry, which is when I'm at my least beautiful. Suffice it to say that I also find it odd how conveniently Gil's "moral turpitude" fits in with the Wizards long-term business interests. As was Monta's with the Warriors. So in conclusion, this would be a good moment for us all to learn to take a deep breath, not listen to false prophets, and realize that like it or not, sometimes these things take time. Otherwise, you might as well believe message boards. Those shits get updates like every five seconds!

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His Own Happy Abyss

Good Elephant

You go away to celebrate the Lord's birth, the ringing in of 2010, and more wedding, and all sky busts open. That's pushing things too hard, maybe, but I've had a few topics festering in my brain over these last two weeks and now it's time for them to get out. Topics that deserve a friendly presentation around these parts. Also people have been nagging me over Twitter to have opinions and I like to respond to our readers. So here goes my four-act, back-logged holiday grievances, which may or may not work together as a dramatic construct, or web of intrigue, when taken as a whole.

John Wall just keeps on doing it, we watch, register amazement, and nod our heads like "I told you." John Wall: Where Amazing is one some level assumed with each passing second. There's little question that Wall represents the latest in the highly-selective lineage of CHANGE THE GAME prospects. This is not a follow-up to the "have we lived a lie?" post precipitated by Darko's retirement. That was the last, desicated days of 2009, when accounts are called in and bells rung with solemnity. Now we're wandering amidst the first triumphant peals of 2010, where for at least a little while longer we can step outside and surely announce that today's news will echo forever. What better time, then, to declare what's become something of a no-brainer: We're watching the kind of player who makes the "I am a Martian" trope intelligible; this is athletic performance we might very well be hallucinating, as well as the long-needed intersection of NBA scouting and taking lots of drugs.

But Wall, unlike LeBron, Durant, or going back, Garnett or Odom, isn't just a basketball quark waiting to be unleashed on the pros—and, for the time being, negotiating with ease the scraggly environs of the NCAA. Wall is the most preposterous kind of paradox: A player whose raw ability, and range of skills, give him the ability to shatter our very imagination, leave us transfixed and drooling at the exact point where all pedantry fails. And yet, after watching Wall seamlessly fit into a talent-packed UK team and acquire a jumper overnight, we've simultaneously seen him reveal himself as a building block that offers more than infinite possibility. Short of a seven-foot inside presence like Oden (the safe pick, the nice guy, etc.), a PG is the most straightforward investment you can make in your team's future plans. Especially in this rule-changed era, you might argue that it's an even more foundational pick than the dominant big man—besides the obvious Steve Nash/Aaron Brooks test, you also find the perimeter game increasingly transformed into the—ahem—center of the action. Inverted, upside-down ... now, the point guard is the ultimate functional component. Chris Paul, for all his all-time-y proficiency, is (like Duncan) still on some level a role player. In the same way that a Maybach gets you to and from work.


Wall, though, is both capable of almost anything and without doubt locked into a position, a role. Part of the frenzy surrounding LeBron and Durant had to do with the fact that, while they seemed capable of almost anything, we had no idea what they'd be tacked to do as pros. You could argue that Garnett's spent an entire career negotiating the less plush side of this dynamic. John Wall's potential is hydra-headed. He's the next great PG, leap-frogging Jennings, Evans, Rondo and Rose before he's even hit the league. On expectations alone, Wall already stares eye-to-eye with Chris Paul. Yet at the same time, Wall's feel for the game and innate ability allow him to do things that his position-mates just usually can't. In that, he has much in common with Rondo (not a new observation), or maybe rookie year Westbrook. Except Walls is at once a more immediately adept point guard than the scrappy Rondo or scattershot (then, at least) Westbrook, and is more of an athletic outliet than either. He has the ability to make plays that just shouldn't happen. The phrase "that's just plain wrong" is applied to bringing completely and totally raw dishonor, or defying the expectations we bring to the game as viewers. Wall actually insults our assumptions about what's supposed to happen next.

If this is odiously vague, well, it's because John Wall is balancing his point guard responsibilities with his ability to do pretty much anything he wants on the court. I got to know John Wall at Hoop Summit, where he ran wild in one of those games that reads like the greatest workout you ever saw. At UK, he's been the quintessential team player, adherent to the system, and so on. He's played the kind of basketball that every coach loves, albeit with occasional flashes of the great beyond. Yes, John Wall right now is amazing. But perhaps even more unfathomable is that tension that exists between a sense of predestination and the power he holds to write his own script. We've never seen anything like it, at least not in this era of uber-hyped kids coming out of HS. Dare I say that, because he'll hit the pros with both a first-rate sense of purpose and an untapped reservoir of basketball superpowers, his rookie season might be a voyage of discovery (for him and us) that rivals even Bron's first campaign.

Speaking of that great workout/great game dichotomoy, that actually sprung to mind yesterday at Seattle U./Harvard, which I attended with most members of the Super-Secret Seattle Basketball Dork Association. Normally I have huge problems leaving the house, but this offered the rare opportunity to see two potential first-rounders—Seattle's Charles Garcia and Harvard's Jeremy Lin—square off for the cost of a hot dog. Given that Lin is the greatest Asian-American basketball player since Wat Misaka, and has a shot at being the first since Misaka to make the NBA, and Garcia is ... some kind of Latino in a sport desperate for them ... I was secretly hoping for a race war. One quarter of the arena Harvard, one quarter SU, another random Asians, and the last, Latinos from around the area. And then one half of one row of draft geeks. But alas, that was not to happen, and I had to content myself with assessing Lin and an on-the-mend Garcia.

Sidebar 1: SU's return to D1, albeit without a conference, reminds me of post-colonial independence movements. They have spent years in the wilderness, off the radar, whatever, but now get to basically invent an identity and narrative for themselves as a legit program. At the same time, there's this mythical past they can always reference, with Elgin Baylor being the pre-colonial icon from which all else draws its strength.


Sidebar 2: Feel free to take whatever I say about Garcia worth a grain of salt. For reasons that will become apparent, I have no choice but to over-react. Everyone I was with concluded that they "needed more information," and Q McCall has been investigating Garcia for a minute now, so his dispatches are probably more reliable.

I'm getting tired here, so the bare bones of what I saw: Lin played the better game, Garcia the better workout. Harvard blew out SU, Lin made play after play (often inconspiciously); Garcia seemed off, distracted, and unable to deal with decent opposing bigs. But at the end of the day, Lin—while bigger, stronger, and faster than I'd expected—is, in the words of Ty Keenan, "one of those unathletic guards who does everything relly well," while Garcia is like something I dreamt up while asleep at my desk. He's 6'10", 230, with massive biceps and length for days. While he bears a faint resemblance to a young Larry Johnson in the face, his game is tailor-made for FD. My cohorts are fond of comparing him to Tom Chambers for reasons I don't quite get, but I'd describe him as post-injury Amare, plus Odom's versatility, plus Rashard Lewis's range (and lack of strength inside). Garcia needs coaching and discipline, or at least a situation where he gives a fuck, but he's hardly Anthony Randolph raw. Don't count on him chewing up the paint and knocking over opposing PFs on defense, but as Haubs pointed out, Garcia he could be positively deadly as a 3/4 on a fluid, up-tempo team. Which, more and more, is the way of the Association. Or, more specifically,: If Kevin is right that last year's Orlando Magic was the ideal line-up for today's NBA, imagine a guy who could alternate between the Turkoglu and Lewis roles.

Odds and ends:

-Don't ask me about Arenas. Any reporting that takes Vecesey as its foundation is like building a house on top of raw sewage. Bullets Forever is going a great job of compiling the credible info coming out, and as of now, I still don't feel like I have a clear picture. Sorry for not being bloggy enough; I wrote some good stuff about Beasley, but regret how prematurely I jumped on that story.

-I know that the whole "if Jeezy's paying LeBron" line from "Empire State of Mind" was cleared up a long time ago. It's not tampering, it's about Jay's imaginary drug-dealing career. But you have to wonder, did this ever come to the Commissioner's office? And if so, did he get an explanation from a PR flak: "Don't worry, it's just a high-profile stake-holder in an NBA franchise pretending to be a drug trafficker." Either we've come a long way since the Thug Warz that surrounded AI's rap career, or Stern isn't as on top of things as we'd like to think. Maybe because these things just don't matter anymore.


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