12.03.2010

We Can't Be Stopped

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I meant to write this yesterday, but got overwhelmed by exactly the monster I had hoped to combat. Yesterday was truly awful. Miserable, boring, sad, ugly, voyeuristic, base, and nearly resistant to any kind of fine distinction. I know that not all of Cleveland felt that way, and yes, LeBron James did that city some wrong. But the story wasn't that nuance, at least until after the game, when some fans at the game admitted they just needed that catharsis, and James showed some vulnerability on the subject of this summer. Confidently, of course, and with one gaffe that everyone jumped on. Still, he was there, acknowledging that the night did matter to him. We watched, though, hoping for the worst, or at least something that would justify this night's marquee billing. I was back and forth between TNT and Michael Vick, and granted, I kind of had to tune in. And yet that wasn't an event: it was a set of conditions that we hoped would yield one. Nearly all the possibilities were bad. It was not what I love about the NBA, or any sports. Reggie Miller was in his element, though. Good for him.

Afterward, though, we got some vintage Monta Ellis -- albeit in a loss -- and a reminder that the Steve Nash is always worth watching. I even briefly appreciated Jason Richardson. On Wednesday, Blake Griffin had one of his most profound (and shocking) games to date, pure joy that, in the Twitter I inhabit, led to nearly as much chatter as Heat-Cavs. Eric Gordon, who has quietly grown into a scoring dynamo, with more power than you think, was in the building, and Baron Davis looked like the old Baron again. Shit, even during the Heat game, LeBron's third was a reminder not of what Cleveland's missing, but the real reason he matters to us in the NBA community. No one can put together that kind of quarter, one where the court shrinks, the basket lowers, and defenders are little more than apparitions, or cones in a ball-handling drill. What's past degree of difficulty? Playing like the game could use a few more impediments.

It's ironic that James is still the league's standard-bearer for ecstatic basketball (though Griffin is getting close), since last night, and the Heat in general, have overshadowed a season that's brought more FD Good News than any in recent memory. The Class of 2003 was supposed to take over the league, and instead, the principals have confused that narrative and, at best, put their ascent in dry-dock. Carmelo Anthony, too. Amar'e in New York isn't exactly a league-changing endeavor, and Gilbert Arenas, another slightly older fellow traveler, is trying to work his way back to being worthless -- not just pitiable. These were the figures that launched FreeDarko and all of them are suffering. Except the league as we see it is healthier than ever.

Every night on the highlights, you see Russell Westbrook doing something or other outrageous (Durant's around, too). Rajon Rondo has responded to this summer's sour USA Basketball experience by ascending into the point guard ether. Chris Paul is back, and he and Deron Williams have resumed battling each other until the end of time like something or other from Norse mythology. Michael Beasley has recovered the game that made him such a beast at Kansas State, and along with Kevin Love, has made the Timberwolves the league's most thrilling exercise in futility. Gordon and Ellis are among the league leaders in scoring; Monta's Warriors are not only intriguing, but also downright functional. I long ago stopped talking bad about Steph Curry, and now I'm about to do the same for David Lee. Dorell Wright is a revelation! John Wall is averaging 18 points, 9 assists, and nearly 3 steals, and we're still waiting for him to really announce himself. The Spurs are very nearly Manu's team, which is both unlikely and intoxicating. Lamar Odom is having his best season since Miami. Have you watched Jrue Holiday? It's hard, given that team, but worth it when he shows what he's capable of. No one remembers Tim Donaghy or looks at results as a function of sportsbook betting.

There are problems in the world today. The Kings have gone purely dysfunctional, with Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins at the heart of it. Blatche is fat. Brandon Jennings stopped taking that next step we had expected. Anthony Randolph is sphinx-like as ever, even to Mike D'Antoni. And obviously, the Heat were supposed to transform basketball theory and aesthetics. For the most part, though, I am in hog fucking heaven. Why do we need to turn our eyes toward LeBron in Cleveland when, more than ever, it's a fine, fine time to simply bet on the NBA writ large. I'm bad at giving thanks and making toasts, but apparently that's only because they put me on the spot. I am so happy right now.

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16 Comments:

At 12/03/2010 1:54 PM, Blogger scot said...

Love the Jrue Holliday shoutout.

 
At 12/03/2010 2:08 PM, OpenID nhissick said...

hog fucking?

 
At 12/03/2010 2:14 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

..."James is still the league's standard-bearer for ecstatic basketball"

"...the real reason he matters to us in the NBA community. No one can put together that kind of quarter, one where the court shrinks, the basket lowers, and defenders are little more than apparitions, or cones in a ball-handling drill. What's past degree of difficulty? Playing like the game could use a few more impediments."

I think that you have done a good job of communicating what Lebron's style is all about, but I really disagree that making the game look too easy is appealing. If nothing else, I definitely do not find his style of play terrible ecstatic.

 
At 12/03/2010 2:39 PM, Blogger walrusoflove said...

thanks. we all needed that. the league is cooking this year.

shoutout to joakim noah.

 
At 12/03/2010 2:39 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Oh yeah, props to Noah.

 
At 12/03/2010 3:17 PM, Blogger walrusoflove said...

last week Jimmy Wales was following me around the internet harrassing me for money. now Johnny Flynn is stalking me into watching DLeague games on FutureCast (probably not the wheaties box dream he had in mind).

whats next?

 
At 12/03/2010 4:51 PM, Blogger tray said...

"Michael Beasley has recovered the game that made him such a beast at Kansas State"

No, no, that's not true. He played well for, like, a week, mainly by making every 20-foot jump shot he took, and for a minute I was like, hurray, a successor to Sprewell, even though the only things the two really have in common are hair (sort of) and playing for Minnesota. But since then he stopped making those shots and now is just a guy who shoots too much and scores 20 points at the end of the night because he shoots too much. Same with Gilbert Arenas; there's no comeback there at all. It's one thing to say that I'm liberated from Team W-L to the extent that I can appreciate a good player on a bad team, like Blake Griffin, or Monta, or Wall. I would hope that any fan of the NBA is liberated insofar as that. But to be like, "I'm totally cool with a player who routinely takes 23 shots and only makes 9 [which is what Arenas/Beasley are doing], so long as the 9 are made with a lot of style and ebullience" - that doesn't even make aesthetic sense to me, because all the missed shots and all the passes that should've been made and aren't make that game ugly to me, on the whole. It's like the difference between this year's Monta and last year's.

 
At 12/03/2010 9:01 PM, Blogger Jones said...

A thought on your comment about the Spurs becoming Manu Ginobili's team...he's always been able to thrive as the team's crunch time closer but never before have the floodgates opened up like this for the whole game. The team is near the tops in scoring average, which seems unthinkable in general, and unthinkable more specifically when you think of how stagnant the offense was two years ago.

Manu is somehow still in the twilight of his prime but his effect on the game makes me wonder what if he had been the focal point of the Spurs all along through the years? What if he had been allowed to roam free for the majority of the game, and then in the fourth they throw it into Duncan to grind it out for a win?

Imagine if he had been in a more uptempo offense his whole career. I think everyone would think of him differently, or at least think of him more.

 
At 12/03/2010 11:12 PM, OpenID kcraigetsu said...

"[B]et on the NBA writ large" when the thing is about to lock out?

There might be some colorful characters that you enjoy watching, but the league itself is in dire straits.

 
At 12/04/2010 8:05 PM, Blogger Carlos Tinsley said...

I'm not sure when, but at some point the "Free" in your blog-name became an adjective, versus a plea or command like I imagine was originally intended. I doubt this has anything to do with the actual player.

Also, does anyone else think that every time Russell Westbrook appears on TV not on the court, he looks so uncomfortable that he's contemplating sprinting away at full speed at any second?

 
At 12/04/2010 8:18 PM, Blogger W2 said...

Agree the NBA is boilin' hot.

Catchin the Celts and Nugs on Wednesday and am praying Melo and Chauncey bring the A game.

Roll Darko.

 
At 12/04/2010 9:04 PM, Blogger Mouth said...

All I know for certain is that today (late night/early morning for me in the combat zone & afternoon/early evening for y'all in the US) I discovered & solidified my pick for my new favorite college player. His name is Doron Lamb. He is #20 for Kentucky. He went to Oak Hill.

Okay, enough levity. Seriously, from just inside the arc dude did an awesome little crossover dribble from about 1.5 inches off the hardwood, avoiding & splitting 2 defenders en route to the far side of the paint where he elevated against very good man-to-man defense and hit a 1-handed falling-away floater off the glass. Maybe I'm biased because that's my kind of field goal. [Worlds are colliding!] Or maybe I'm among the first to recognize that this guy is Nash meets Rondo meets Tony Longoria meets
Tim Hardaway, except not yet nearly as good as any of those guys.

The future is bright for the class of 2003. (Yes, I remember when Hakim Warrick rock-chalk-blocked the SHIT out of that Jayhawk cornerboy at the buzzer!) The future is bright for the class of 2011+. I'm wearing shades, homey.

*********************************************

Happy Birthday, Jigga!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1nbvplgElw&feature=related

 
At 12/05/2010 12:10 AM, Blogger Dave M said...

After being used by the Lakers last night, the Kings are currently extending their lead against Dallas, halfway through the 4th. Not at all sure they'll survive but nice to see they're showing some fight, 18 games into a trainwreck of a season.

 
At 12/05/2010 2:15 PM, Blogger Letters said...

Blake Griffin is attempting to dunk perpetually for an entire game. He might just do it.

 
At 4/19/2013 4:11 AM, Blogger Jim Philips said...

I know that James hasn't been doing well but Hostpph community and I have high hope that he will perform better.

 
At 12/20/2013 1:50 PM, Blogger Lee Bill said...

Indy, it's time to make a play to get John Wall. Pacers only lack a play maker like Wall to get to the elite status this season. WithOUT Wall, Pacers currently don't have the right point guard to get passed the quality: Portland, Miami, San Antonio and even OKC. John Wall, INDIANA, he will be a great asset so spare NO expense, Indiana Pacers MANAGEMENT to get Wall on the team NOW&Chat WITH NBA FANS today!

 

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