What Hideous Curiosity
Over the years, FD has become associated with many things, some good, some bad. Among the leading positives is Big Baby Belafonte's dazzling artwork. Since the Style Guide was first released--ironically, you can't even see it anymore--Big Baby has popularized a distinctive, resonant way of looking at basketball. Literally. The Macrophenomenal Almanac and the Undisputed Guide expanded the audience for this exciting, perceptive, creative thinking, and Big Baby's work is as inextricably FD as anything else. We're all fortunate to say so. Those prints are something of a trademark. And a cash cow!
(Please note that I can write all of these nice things, however factual, because I've had absolutely nothing to do with the art. Like anyone else, I am a fan who looks on with amazement and appreciation.)
It's not just Big Baby, though. FD has been the launching point for a number of artistic explorations. Who could forget when Tom Ziller used his third-eye vision to teach that the day's mathematics was Z? Or more recently, when Hakeen was remembered amid the scribbles in your notepad that invented your life? FD has a proud artistic tradition.
Today may mark a departure from this distinguished history. Certainly, there is artwork that follows, and it very much endeavors to comment on this basketball which we hold dear. But that's the end of the similarity. Our latest episode offers decidedly less aesthetic appeal than that which is common among its predecessors. It might not even make any sense. The images that you're about to look upon are purposely lo-fi, functional in the service of expressing an idea, but not exactly ready to adorn the lavish halls of Slim Chin's manse.
These images grew out of a confused, meandering conversation that I had with Shoals one night last week as Derrick Rose played a sensational game that we hated. You may recall the capstone:
Less obvious while in plain sight, Derrick Rose took a customary straight path to the basket. He seems to always do that, eschewing soft angles and minute precision for hard darts and raging athleticism directed in a single vector. Rose can change directions, of course, but he explodes in a series of discrete movements, no matter how quickly he may change from one to another. His motion isn't united as a single brush stroke. It is a collection of lines, a pile of pickup sticks arrayed in new patterns but always limited by the component parts. Another image that immediately appeared in my mind was one of a locomotive laying down its own tracks as it rumbled along. Shoals was almost mad at Rose for this. We agreed that it was dissonant. For all of his obvious physical prowess, Rose has a limited game. Only, the limit is born of convenience. He isn't a wonderful shooter, his court vision is not an unmistakable strength, and he does not pose a threat from all over. Derrick Rose doesn't need that. Instead, he's something of a perfect scoring weapon, a man who invariably finds himself at the rim after picking a trail and racing forward along it. The shit works.
Brute strength and straight-line basketball are shrill traits for a point guard in this new era of the position's pitch-perfect primacy. While styles among the leading point guards vary, seemingly each one makes far more sense for its master than Rose's does for a player as physically competent. Shoals and I mulled this over for a while before intervening commitments left us at the point where artwork comes into the story. Lost in the morass we commonly create as our online ruminations crash into each other, we agreed that I would endeavor to create simple visuals that captured the overriding impressions respectively left by my favorite guards. This, we thought, might help us better articulate what Derrick Rose is, exactly. I am not sure that I succeeded, but maybe it will start a better conversation.
(Click to enlarge.)
Chris Paul, Angle Master
Derrick Rose, Raging Bull
Rajon Rondo, Cat on Ice Skates
Russell Westbrook, The Magic Carpet Ride