I Can't Share Ranks
I've been around the world. I did some writing on soccer and America. You would do better to read this Sport is a TV Show post, or Brian's dissection of Spain's aesthetics. As far as LeBron is concerned, today I offered up a plea for sanity based on The LeBrons, Friday I predicted the toast of doom at Melo's wedding.
There are, however, some decidedly FD matters to tend to. First, off of Brian's "Ballet of Frost" post linked above: I very much enjoyed watching Spain throughout the World Cup. As I told Eric several times, they made me feel like I actually understood something about soccer. Many people compared the midfielders, especially Xavi, to Nash. And it's true—we've often discussed on here the ways in which Nash creates new passing lanes. To me, that's what the endless movement of Spain looked like: Manipulating position until an unfamiliar path to the goal revealed itself. I don't care if it's wrong, it's how I saw it. What got to me, though, was how little playfulness there seemed to be in what was, in its most basic and post-structural sense, play. I tweeted that it was the most earnest trickery I'd ever seen. Today, chatting with Trey, I called it Nash with no sense of fun; he came back with "Chris Paul if he weren't a dick".
I may still be a soccer beginner, but style is universal, because it is a product, and mirror for, the human spirit. I think what made Brian's piece resonate with me was that, while I don't find Spain at all boring, there is something inhuman about them that's always on the wrong side of human. They aren't steely or clinical; it's a game that wants badly to express itself, to be art not math, and yet it's fundamentally either too fulsome or too cautious to take that plunge.
Back to reality: I watched John Wall's debut, eagerly, and was perfectly satisfied with what I saw. Yes, there were a few really bad turnovers (what happened to the handle?), and no, the jumper hasn't emerged overnight. But mostly, this looked like Wall, at some vague semblance of the next level. He got his teammates involved, and pretty quickly established that he and JaVale McGee could become Paul-Chandler Redux. Throw Blatche in there and I have no idea how you express it as a word-equation. Blah blah blah not so much quicker than everyone else wide-open game agrees with him gets to the line college obviously stifled him. The real key, though, is that Wall didn't need to make a statement. No one doubts him. And as a pure point, you've got to figure that he was more interested in making others look good—especially when they need it so much more than he does.
The lottery picks who make headlines in summer leagues are usually those with something to prove. I'm thinking specifically of Tyreke Evans, when no one understood what position he played, or why he mattered more than Rubio. Anthony Rudolph had 40 when his legend started to build. Of course, there's also Julian Wright or Qyntel Woods going off, but turning in the other direction, does anyone think for a second that LeBron James couldn't have dominated summer league if he wanted to? Some rookies can afford to take slow, get a feel for this sort-of-pro context as a warm-up for the NBA, and, as Wall did, realize it means more to the second-rounders and free agents than to them. The big men who get 647573 fouls? It's them getting their bearings. All lottery picks should be able to use the summer league like this. But alas, sometimes they end up in the same boat as D-League-bound aspirants.
POSITIONAL REVOLUTION: I forgot who on ESPN kept saying "great players figure out how to play together". I think it was Tim Legler, who also said (I think) that Wade and James had the same kind of game. But, at the risk of embracing pure emptiness, this Miami Heat is super-major with regard to one of this site's core tenets. Actually, fuck it, these three DO know how to play together, like they did in the Olympics when they conquered the known universe. And that was with Kobe Bryant in tow, who—with all due respect to the God—makes this line-up more difficult to pull-off, since he's less versatile than James or Wade.
I have lately become enamored of the idea that James is a reluctant mega-scorer. Not a bitch who doesn't live for late game situations, or whatever the latest attack meme is, but a multi-dimensional beast who can do so much more with the floor than simply barrel inside or hoist jumpers. Given how much success he has with those two tools, the possibilities are mind-blowing. Once upon a time, James was likened to Magic Johnson. Put LBJ at point forward, truly playing on or off the ball, at either end of the pick and roll. There's no reason he can be the most ferocious inside-outside/outside-inside threat the league has ever seen. A quitter because he's with two other All-Stars? Fine, whatever. I'll take James unleashed as superstructure, with Wade alternating between the two guard slots, and Bosh taking advantage of his ranginess as a big man (the Gasol comparison). I know I said that this team was the anti-Thunder, but if they go this direction, they'll be light years ahead of Durant and company.
I refuse to comment on the new Raptors or Suns any further until there's a good chart for me to consult.