1.26.2010

FD Guest Lecture: Ode to Quiet Stars

anderson-varejao-hair

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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23 Comments:

At 1/27/2010 1:31 AM, Blogger Justin said...

This is the All-Star Game, right?

To make my point more clearly, this is the "All" (made up entirely of) "Star" (premiere attraction whose luminescence brightens the sport around him) Game. Right? The game whose entire originating purpose was to cram all the sickest players in the whole sport into one game - just to see what would happen. It's a spectacle, a fantasy - the game where you never have to worry about shit getting boring because of Shane Battier or Anderson Varejao.

Near record numbers of people tuned in to the Kobes vs. the LeBrons on Christmas. Shoals wrote about the perplexing polarity of the argument surrounding their pre-eminence - evidence (along with the fact that there's an argument in the first place) that people watch basketball as much for the players as the team concept. This isn't new to FD - a core tenet, if anything.

Now imagine a game where instead of pitting those two stars against one another, you could pick whoever you wanted? Settle (or engender) all the arguments in a fun-filled way. Watch Hall-Of-Famer A drop a dime to Hall-Of-Famer B, neither of whom has ever played on the same team as any other HOFer.

The whole point is that it's what a lot of people want to see. And honestly, that's fine. Casual fans tune in to see the superstars of yesterday and today and in doing so, they meet the superstars of tomorrow. It grows the league, introduces new faces, passes torches... so tell me: what role does Battier play in that equation? I'm a gym-rat teamwork-loving NBA freak. But I don't want to see him setting hard picks in the All-Star Game. I don't want to see anyone setting hard picks in the All-Star Game.

 
At 1/27/2010 2:08 AM, Blogger fondso said...

"the game where you never have to worry about shit getting boring because of Shane Battier or Anderson Varejao"

The all-star game is rarely anything but exceedingly boring. Why not throw in a cagey role player or two to keep everyone on their toes?
Shame all the voters in China didn't think to vote for Landry. The West playing small ball...how fun would that be

 
At 1/27/2010 3:39 AM, Blogger John said...

The NBA actually does this right, far better than the MLB or the NFL. There is a difference between an All-Star and an All-Pro, one is excitement/fan interest based (like Justin said) and one is merit based. I have no idea what the big deal is. Its not like people bring up All-Star games appearances in HOF arguments, that is what All-Pro games are for. Anyone that is upset about the All-Star game are better off making fondso's argument that they aren't fun to watch (which i disagree with) then that the system is broken.

 
At 1/27/2010 3:40 AM, Blogger John said...

Also, Shoals, what are you doing getting into a writing contest with a writer as good as Sherman Alexei? seriously, this is a no win

 
At 1/27/2010 10:24 AM, Blogger Deckfight said...

i thought "ridnour" was a word like "orange." he totally ripped that up.

 
At 1/27/2010 11:53 AM, Blogger Quantavius Sturdivant said...

sorry sherman, but any kind of system that would make anderson varejao an all star is flawed.

basically, what justin said.

 
At 1/27/2010 12:20 PM, Blogger dunces said...

sherman alexie has a noted and bizarre attachment to luke ridnour. I don't know how much that poisons this whole piece?

I personally think he's slotting a little too neatly into (eloquent, but still) grumpy old man territory here. Alexie, this plus the nonsense about e-books; it's not Iverson you can't stand, it's reality!

wv: redign; entirely appropriate this time

 
At 1/27/2010 1:13 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Nice to see Seattle's poetry slam scene making a comeback.

Fight at the bowling alley
"Tough little monkey"
Wife butt-ass naked

 
At 1/27/2010 4:54 PM, Blogger tray said...

"To make my point more clearly, this is the "All" (made up entirely of) "Star" (premiere attraction whose luminescence brightens the sport around him) Game. Right? The game whose entire originating purpose was to cram all the sickest players in the whole sport into one game - just to see what would happen. It's a spectacle, a fantasy - the game where you never have to worry about shit getting boring because of Shane Battier or Anderson Varejao."

I mean, there's a lot to dispute here. All-Star games are almost always boring. You seem to be suggesting that defense makes games more boring. I'd contend that the reason All-Star games are so boring usually is that they're basically layup drills. It's hard to be awed by anything anyone does in an All-Star game when there's no one out there trying to stop them from doing it. And as for Iverson, he's no longer one of the sickest players in the game. Now I definitely think he should be honored, but for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with what he's currently capable of doing on a basketball court.

 
At 1/27/2010 5:03 PM, Blogger Nate said...

If Varajao played with Steve Nash, he would could a 20/10 guy just based on his ability to move without the ball and finish at weird angles. Combine that with his defense (he, Artest, LeBron, Marion, KG, Jarred Jeffries, and maybe Chuck Hayes are probably the only players in the league that can guard 5 positions), and it's easy to see his value. Is he better than VC and TMac? He's certainly won more in the playoffs... Additionally, Andy is a fantastic international player, and Brazil often bases their offense and defense around him when he's in the game. Nice to see Sherman give him some love.

 
At 1/27/2010 6:37 PM, Blogger Luke Ridnour said...

Yo, I heard you guys have been calling out my name on FD and I thought I'd come and regulate. So, in the spirit of Wyclef coming back after L called him a "Bob Marley imposter" on a Canabis diss track...

What's Luke got to do, got to do with it?
What's Luke got to do, got to do with it?


How's your memory so short, let's take it back, son
Remember when I torched Eugene with my boy Luke Jackson
Macking in the PAC, they called us the Mighty Ducks
Middle finger in the air to haters who yell, 'whitey sucks!'
Clock the speed, YouTube the cross, check the skills, man
Then ask yourself, was it me or McMillan
who turned this pro into a pine rider
basketball's equivalent of a line biter?
Taste the madeleine, go back to Luke and Luke
two boys from the O, everyday yelling 'nuke 'em, Duke'
Milwaukee's best now, they call me the Beast
staying in the spotlight like my name was Eric Nies.

and I ask you...
What's Luke, got to do, got to do with it?
What's Luke, but your lady's favorite baller
What's Luke, got to do, got to do with it?
My EFFs getting big, while AI's is gettin' smaller...

Fuck the past, then, let's talk about the present
Dropped an asteroid on the Raptors for twenty-seven.
If it wasn't for the rookie, that'd be like every night
call your bookie, bet RIDZ OR DIE for every fight
some say Pacquiao at the 1, more like Hearns in his prime
My toast goes clack, KAPOW when it burns you for another dime
JJ ain't the only white emcee in the association
make a team of all mes, NBA2k10 on the playstation
bet you we go 82 and OH!
my God! Haters, betta watch your ho.

I'll say it again...
What's Luke, got to do, got to do with it?
What's Luke, but your lady's favorite baller
What's Luke, got to do, got to do with it?
My EFFs getting big, while AI's is gettin' smaller...

 
At 1/27/2010 11:56 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

I refuse to read any shit talked about Iverson and am disappointed that you all even acknowledge its existence.

Also, I remember lots of good All-Star games, most notably the one during AI's MVP year.

But maybe I am a bad fan in my voting: no Lebron because he wouldn't do the dunk contest, no Wade because I am (still!) bitter about the Dallas refs, yes Tracy McGrady 'cause it is funny, I think Pierce is definitely the only deserving Celtic (and even then, don't we have to put JJ ahead of him due to record?), and no Shaq 'cause he's old and crappy.

 
At 1/28/2010 1:47 AM, Blogger John said...

Somebody get Luke a deal, he's on FIRE. Also, he is playing really well ALONGSIDE the yung buck in the wake of Redd being out (and before he came back, good lord that guy makes a buck fan want to cry).

 
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At 1/28/2010 12:39 PM, Blogger Timothy said...

I think the All-Star system is flawed. Last year Yi Jianlian was leading in votes and a week before the All-Star voting ended and somehow lost. I think they system is rigged. We have no way of verifying what happend. It's just like American Idol and the 2000 election.

If Anderson Varejao was great player, the coaches would vote him in. He's not! He's just like Scott Williams, Mike Penberthy, Travis Knight, Mark Madsen, Calvin Booth,

 
At 1/28/2010 2:12 PM, Blogger New Tinsley said...

People don't watch as many NBA games as the NBA would like. With the All-Star game, people get to choose who would make them want to watch an NBA game. People would like to watch Allen Iverson play basketball. Don't put much stock into it, he's just fun to watch. Consider it more a sympton of the NBA's struggle to find fans than a misplaced accolade.

 
At 1/28/2010 2:19 PM, Blogger Kyle said...

As has been said here, in not so many words, the all-star game is almost always the most boring game of the whole season. Players like Battier and Ridnour or Kirk Hinrich or even Lamar Odom make the game much more exciting for everyone involved (fans and players alike). It's just a little less obvious than a really powerful dunk. Like eating a great meal and not knowing what spice actually gave it all the flavor you're busy loving.

 
At 1/29/2010 12:03 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

I find it amusing that a poet would write not one, but two! poems in defense of ugliness.

And grouping Joe Johnson and Shane Battier together is (1) absurd, (2) fallacious, and (3) the act of a monster.




wv: densh--the sound of my teeth grinding at having to watch Shane Battier in an All-Star Game.

 
At 1/29/2010 10:37 PM, Blogger Tsunami said...

The Cavs would not trade Varejao for Amare Stoudemire. So, if you don't think he's a star, that's fine. But he's the 2nd most important player on the Cavs. And the Cavs are 37-11 right now.

 
At 1/30/2010 3:23 PM, Blogger Justin said...

So he's probably in the running for the SMVP award at the end of the season... so there's that.

wv: odianki - the instrument Gerald Wallace's uncle played every night as Gerald fell asleep.

 
At 1/30/2010 7:11 PM, OpenID Chucky said...

"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"


Even with team demanding he defer,
Even as out of shape as Roscoe,
Who's Sixers Net +/- do you prefer?
Even with his game gone from luxury to Costo?

-----

Iverson has become a merely above average NBA assassin right now. Maybe he's got a third act, and more likely he doesn't. But he got denied a deserved all-star appearance early on in his career, and he deserves a lifetime achievement appearance now.

Viva Bubbachuck!
Viva! Viva!


One of the two most dominant little men to ever grace the association. The preeminent 10ft knockdown artist in the game. The hardest working man in show business. Some folks missed the beauty, and their lives are poorer for that.

 
At 2/10/2010 12:55 AM, Blogger growfauxfinns said...

if AI is the hardest working man in show business, I move we also start calling him "Mr. Practicepracticepractice"


GEDDIT?!

 
At 5/17/2013 4:42 PM, Blogger Jim Philips said...

It did it big specially with that kind of poem. I will share it with the community with the Sportsbook Applications

 

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