On Dogs, Delphinidae and Qyntel Woods - A Recipe for Healing


I am here to comfort you. To tell you that there is no further need to worry. No more cause for concern. Your pain will be eased and your love will come full bloom.

We will cradle him. We will nurture him. We will raise him. Like so many other castaways who have arrived on these shores, the tropics will heal the deep scars of troubles never forgotten.

As an Ambassador of South Florida, I can tell you that Qyntel Woods is now home.

Whereas Portland once failed, Miami will succeed. We dutifully accept the task and go forth with a renewed sense of optimism. Qyntel Woods will become a man.

Miami is his new womb and our rice & beans infused placenta will be the perfect nourishment. We’ve had practice before. Qyntel is just the latest in a long sordid line of reclamation projects. And while our success rate overall has never been perfect, it has made for good entertainment.

While reclamation projects in Miami Pro Sports and Pop Culture are common place, the athletic variety are almost always limited to mostly four types. Over the past two decades, each type has had varying degrees of success. Please exclude the 70s era Larry Czonkas and Jim Kellys of the world.

The four are:

  • Miami Dolphins Running Backs.
  • Florida Marlins Relievers
  • Any Miami Hurricane Football player.
  • Miami Heat Swingmen.

That Qyntel falls in the last of the list is the first sign of encouragement. Of course, the Dolphins have made the RB position one of the constant soap opera positions in all of sports history - from the purported Dan Marino sidekicks of Sammy Smith, Bobby Humphrey, Mark Higgs, John Avery and Cecil Collins to the now omnipotent and omnipresent lone might of Ricky Williams - the pinnacle of humbling and psychiatric freakishness. It is a black hole of jukers, stiff armers and sweepers. A land mine for talent.

Meanwhile, the Marlins and Hurricanes situations I will not discuss, both out of a hope to keep this column from being incredibly long and otherwise because they aren't as interesting. Other than to mention that the former has won in spite of the historic tenuousness of their bullpen and the latter has won just because the entire program embodies reclamation.

(If anything proves my feelings about Qyntel Woods most concisely it is the Miami Hurricanes program. They disprove the dolphin theorum I propose below, but that is chiefly because they are on their own level of eliteness. Surpassed by only a few things - like slam dunks.)

Hot Hot Heat

Bringing us to Miami Heat Swingmen. Throughout the NBA, athletic men who can play the 2, 3 or 4 are almost always talented, enigmatic, dysfunctional and a source of endless enjoyment. But we’ve had almost more than our own fair share in South Beach.

The roster: Willie Burton… Billy Owens… Rodney Buford… Jamal Mashburn… Mark Strickland… Walt ‘The Wizard’ Williams… Anthony Mason… Ricky Davis… Lamar Odom….

The range of success is varied. Some tantalized us with their style and grace but never fully delivered. Willie Burton is one of those players that you can’t believe once dropped 53 points. We first thought that Billy Owens would emerge as a consistent triple double threat, only to realize his frailty couldn’t even be measured in low-cut panties. Others never even could tease - Rodney Buford for one showed early on with his inability to get off the ganja that he should have been a player automatically assigned to the Trail Blazers in a thug dispersal draft. A precurser to Qyntel, with less promise. How he's managed to stay in the league is anybody's guess.

Others were fleeting. Mason returned to the City of his birth to grace us in black and red for only one purely Satanic year. It was as it should have always been, but he left for the fairer shores of Milwaukee and took our hearts with him. Ricky Davis was a mystery, a start too bright to shine in a land full of other supernovas like Enrique Iglesias, Bronson Pinchot and Elian Gonzalez. Yet, we excuse ourselves because we never really missed out on Ricky, except for rumblings of brilliance, we never saw him full on until he had already left and was attempting a triple double by shooting at his own basket...

Some succeeded in casual terms. Notably Mashburn and Odom. In Miami, Mash finally found some sort of twisted respect – even though frustration grew larger here than ever before and solidified itself as the label for his entire career.

And as for Lamar, well he will always be our prince. A magical season, a magical team, as Riles turned a boy crying for help into a diamond of a man, great enough to be traded for the Almighty Shaq. And it gives us the ray of hope that we can do the same for Woods. If only it were that simple.

Yes, Qyntel is the latest of the order. Rescued from the Blazers as Odom was rescued from the Clips. A lone raft at sea given a hand by a passing cruiser. But help, we will see, may hide under water.

In Qyntel there exists greater pain than in almost all the others. Sanscrit indicates that for him to reach his promise many cancers must be eliminated – part of the journey will be easy, but the majority will be a rival to the Crusades.

To begin Qyntel must abandon the grass. Clear and simple. There is no room for free love in Riley World. But you are more than welcome to use your trading card as identification down here. Many get in SoBe with much less.

As a member of the Miami Hea(r)t, Qyntel's superficial pain will be kneaded out like spongy dough being worked by worn, experienced, nubile hands. Discipline, practice and buying into a system will make him more uniform. More compatible for a team.

Fate suggests that Qyntel's Renaissance will not be the same as every other Riley reclamation project. His career has already been so strangely chaotic. He is a vibe.

It is Qyntel's deeper pain – terribly hidden and impossible to grasp – that will require deeper, more targeted treatment and quite possibly the aid of a friend from under the sea.

The Blazers leave a curse that can only be lifted by alternate treatmeant. In this case, the answer lies in the Animal Kingdom and the brand of healing that only a swim can bring!

A Beast of an Approach

Qyntel’s forays into the world of beasts is well documented. His former dog, Hollywood, was found bleeding in an alley, dejected and lonly after being cast out. It says here he lacked the heart of a champion fighter and wasn't ready to jump back into the ring. Factually, an ensuing police investigation found bloody paw prints, dog fighting paraphernalia and other evidence of a dog fighting ring in Qyntel’s apartment.

(Most notably a treadmill. Can you imagine a 6-8 basketball player forcing a pit bull to run on a treadmill? What does he use? A string with a carrot on it, a whip or electric feedback? So many questions, so little answers.)

The land creatures brought Qyntel pain. Hollywood embodied the pugnacious moxie he tried to expound on the court, but his pet friend's own failures translated in the Master's parallel behavior. Qyntel tried to dominate both himself and Hollywood into submission, never realizing that the world begins and ends in a delicate rawness.

We must find him fairer company. A soft sonar that will cut through the muddied waters of his mind and unearth the gold laying hidden.

To reclaim the dream that is Qyntel Woods, Miami will envelop him in her crystal waters in the company of the closest thing there is to a hairless man with a blow hole. Yes, the very same mascot of our dissapointing flagship franchise, the Atlantic Dolphin.

The Dolphin seems the only creature both sage and insane enough suited for the task of bringing to potential a promising 6-8 small forward with good range, defensive prowess and great athleticism.

Reasons for this carefully constructed logic abound. There is no way Qyntel would pit Dolphins against each other in battle. They are simply too lovable. Their jumps through the tides should make even his callous heart melt. He will parallel their own existence with his own. Jumping through hoops on the basketball court and in the pool.

I am so confident that a new Flipper of Promiso Proportions will be a healer for Mr. Woods that I present to you two different examples of the fringe existence of Dolphin behavior. I am confident that they will offer you the same fearless prediction of redemption for Qyntel that I now recognize. They are kindred beasts.

Example 1:

"Brazilian scientists have reported for the first time ever homosexual behavior among dolphins living in their natural habitat, a Brazilian daily said Monday.

A team of Brazilian marine experts was studying the behavior and reproduction habits of the stenella longirostris species [long-snouted spinner dolphin] at the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha off northeastern Brazil when they identified homosexual behavior among males and females dolphins, the O Globo said.

Scientists at the Rotator Dolphin Center have said sexual activities among dolphins outside their reproductive season have the objective of giving sexual pleasure for the species of mammals, a rare behavior among animals. “We have reported so far at least 21 dolphins in the course of homosexual behavior, including oral sex among males,” José Martins, coordinator of a local marine research center, told the daily.

Sex among males is easier to testify because their sexual organs are external, according to the head researcher of the center, which operates in partnership with federal environmentalist agency Ibama.

The researchers say sex is prevalent among dolphins because they live in big herds, which may reach as many as 1,200 dolphins."

Example 2:

"Especially during 2003 we’ve had an increasing volume of reports about other dolphins visiting Dusty’s area, but conflicting opinions about whether she has actively interacted with them or not. On 3rd October 2003 a most dramatic incident occurred in which three larger dolphins, believed to be male, chased Dusty into the shallows where she was apparently taking refuge and forcibly took her out to sea with them. This was witnessed by observers both in the water (Ute and Jane) and on the shore and was concisely described to use by one local commentator as ‘Dusty was gang-banged’. That may sound over-dramatised, but during the late 1980’s researchers in Shark Bay, Western Australia, did indeed record the forcible abduction of female bottlenose dolphins in oestrus. Richard Connor and Rachel Smolker observed that male bottlenoses, in that population at least, form durable ‘alliances’, typically of 3 animals (one dolphin on its own cannot effectively coerce another dolphin), apparently for the specific purpose of forcing copulation on unwilling females, either by all the males or by the two most dominant ones amongst them. Certainly this behaviour could be described as ‘gang rape’ if it took place within human society, though we should as usual be wary of anthropomorphising.

Male coalitions have not been found to be universally prevalent in other bottlenose populations world-wide, and the abduction of one dolphin by others, with or without forced copulation, has not previously been recorded in European waters.

Once again, observations of an ‘aberrant’ solitary dolphin have added interesting new information to our knowledge of bottlenose dolphin society in general."


The Dolphin - often Homosexual and often guilty of gang rape - yet always renowned as a healer to those who suffer from blindness, deafness, autism and an inconsistent jumper...

It only makes perfect sense that an enigmatic basketball player will be healed by forgiving mammals who know that while one of their dogmatic brethren, Hollywood, the Sam Bowie of Prize Fighters, may have been mistreated, what lays in Qyntel's hightops is a gift that even an abused dog would forgive him for.

I return to my earlier reference of the Miami Hurricanes. If only Qyntel was more Hurricane he would still be dysfunctional but in a must more effective and vast way. Now he's just a mess.

With a nod to Pat Riley and the flock of Van Gundys, I see that the prescription has been written. If they only heed our recommendation, the investment would pay off in buckets of sardines. A ridiculously athletic compliment to D-Wade, Shaq and the rest of the cast. (This will be the first time I will mention the Van Gundys in the same breath as Riley when referencing greatness. I will be upset if it happens again, but still may.)

Dolphins are beloved for their crazy antics, shiny domes and ability to kick field goals. In spite of their weird sex habits. It is clearer to me now than ever before that Dolphins are the sea venturing mammal version of the Healers of Albatron, the prodigous Delphinidae whose keen powers of mind can mend even the strongest rift in any creature. Mana themselves.

Not yet whales, not exactly porpoises, but capable of delivering Qyntel Woods his soul.

Alabtross, thine name is praise

Happily, I got a laptop. Before I started grad school, I spent four years living with the NBA, to the point where I would cancel weeknight plans to watch Paul Pierce. Last season Comcast put League Pass into my living room for three whole months, while the rest of Philadelphia was busy with football; I soared as never before, building myself up to the point that, one Sunday afternoon, it made sense for shoefly and myself to watch a Hawks/Pistons battle to the tombs. But with my entire life in front of me and books to read, the 2004-2005 season has been comparatively afar, making this week’s free trial run of League Pass like a wife on another planet. What I discovered was that we now live in an NBA that feeds on its own unevenness, an odd, rocky slate of creation upon which basketball’s future wriggles in the drooping slop of its past, much as huge insects, the first mice and horses, and serpents were once earth’s concomitant rulers. Stepping away may have shaved me of all my rugged affinity for the “single star player dragging around the other four” team, but it has given me the ability to make a chart, a palatial chart, one which I will attempt to reproduce using only letters and numbers. I call it “teams I feel compelled to watch when they’re on League Pass and I’m at home.”

a. Total team onslaught
i. Suns
ii. Wizards
iii. Sonics
iv. Magic

This category speaks for itself. While not necessarily the most winning teams in the league, these are by far its most victorious, its true victors. I would take up collection to be entertained and astounded, from beginning to end, by a contest in which any of these five take part. The Suns need no introduction, and Washington are a distant, but distinguished, second. Don’t sleep on the Sonics—Ridnour has that offense moving like something far more sexy than a catch-and-shot metropolis. The Magic are more exciting than you think, if a little jumbled.

b. Sheer star power
i. Cavs
ii. Heat
iii. Houston
iv. Lakers

The first one here is a no-brainer. LeBron is almost of a pleasure to behold as the entire Suns team put together. The Heat—the Dwyane Wade show—comes in second, despite the fact that Shaq is best contemplated at length, rather than witnessed in the fray, possession after possession. Yao too warrants stray thoughts and extended bleetings, no matter what he does on the court; his floating friend T-Mac, is still slightly more thrilling than Kobe, despite both being stuck in pockmarked offenses.

c. They live in the standings
i. Grizzlies
ii. Bulls
iii. Pacers

All teams that I feel like I should know better than I do. The Pacers, I know a little, but post-brawl Indiana is a work-in-progress whose muted night has only yet begun to dimple. I mean, Stephen Jackson was the Spurs’ go-to guy during key stretches of their last title run, and Jonathan Bender has to mature at some point, right? Why is it that, in this era of prep flailers and Euro enmity, “maturing” is thought to go on indefinitely? Today on ABC, Hubie talked about T-Mac “still learning” how to fit into a Van Gundy offense. Dude’s been in the league for eight years—can't we give him the benefit of maturity and call it "figuring out" or "adjusting?" Hubie also said that Bob Sura was “famous” from atop the key, so I ain’t mad at him.

When did I become this person? What happened to my interest in the forward progress of Josh Smith? The budding stardom of Chris Bosh? The timeless basketball excellence of Jason Kidd or Paul Pierce? Baron Davis, if ever he reach full strength again for more than week? Iverson announced the other day that he “has no more moral victories left,” but he’s still having a career year. KG’s team is in shambles, but he still curses and shrieks as a bony black Viking from the past might have, with or without the Troubled Griffin himself to lighten the mood. Dallas still has some shine, even if they are verging on Sacramento-ish smugness. As regular readers of my column know, Manu is the light of my inner life, even if his team is like dirt on a wheel. Denver, where have you gone? Is Andre Miller so dull that he can turn K-Mart, Camby, Nene, and Melo into unexceptional steam (on a related note, peep Billups’s future view of the Karl-ized Nuggests)?

This is my version of a lengthy response to our first-ever comment by a very welcomed stranger, who accused us of being about nothing and not knowing our shit. These are my actions, and you can squeeze them with all your might—they will offer up nothing but the winkiest bits of matter, as I myself would if you took the Suns away and asked me to walk away from the silent snow around me.

Point of order: I survived massive blood loss! Have their ever been more injuries than in this, o season of petulance?

Pistons fans, I can only hope you one day feel as good as I do! Else, it’s Skita time, and I’m ordering out all night!!


The computer that bit heaven

I am not entirely sure what this google-generated ad means. But I do know that it appeared on the side of this blog at 16:12 EST, only seconds after I realized that Greg Ostertag is the AI of slow, and a minute and a half before I was informed that Eddie House and Mike Bibby are brothers-in-law.

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Where in the World is Josip Sesar?

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Politicians say the word as though a mantra, repeating it ad nauseum until it has lost any semblance of a meaning. But what is it really? It's more than just the ability to go to the nearest superstore and buy a discount dvd. It's more than just a voting booth with the unclothed wizard behind the curtain. And it's more than just another word for nothing left to lose.

Freedom, ultimately, is about opportunity. And opportunity is, ultimately, what we Masters of the Klondike seek. We've taken our name from the renegade band of ragtag missanthropes, swindlers, heroes, adventurers, malingerers, patriots, mercenaries, and desperadoes, whom, in the early days of her statehood, turned Alaska from a vast and desolate moonscape and transformed her into a veritable final judgement and test on the limits of the human spirit in conditions of unknowable harshness. Against the wishes and orders of their governmental superiors the Masters of the Klondike, taking their cue from Lazarillo and the new world adventurers, turned the demonic Alaskan landscape into a process of discovery. Young men sallied forth like majestic, indeed, divinely ordained picarros, past crevasse and canyon, past blank and barren calderas, past frozen rivers and ravenous wolves, to discover, again and again their manhood. Although many, indeed most, perished on their search for the mother lode, falling to the extremes of cold, hunger, the crushing power of polar bears and wolves, a place in history was carved by these Pale Riders. They were tested and proven worthy. The Masters of the Klondike carved gold from frozen mountains and etched their visages into history.

And that is what we too seek, greatness. Though the wilderness is vast and terrible, we seek the opportunity to sally forth and test our mettle. That is why we have joined together to free the enslavement of one held in check far too long. To give him the opportunity others have had to discover the greatness buried within him. We seek to free Darko Milicic!

Ever since he has entered the league Darko has had to silently bear the insults and indignities of being restrained, denied, the chance to show what he could do. Unfairly compared to those who have been given the freedom to show their abilities Darko has been openly maligned as unworthy. All we ask is that this be rectified, that Darko have the chance that his forbears have.

In his own words, "Everybody has got a chance to play, even the rookies who just camethis year," Milicic said. "I didn't get a chance. I was playing and everybody said great job, great job - then I don't play"

Our demands are not unreasonable, just a spot in the rotation. Twenty minutes a night is all we're asking for, and we're not willing to wait any longer. Unleash the hidden tiger locked inside this strange and wayward boy, LET HIM PLAY. Though at times he seems trepid, there is boiling blood in those veins ready for a challenge. He is not, as so many claim, talentless. He is merely miscast in a play. He would have made a perfect knight in a different century, or a very good pagan prince in a time of heroes. He was just sent to the wrong team, on the wrong side of river, with the ability to do anything and everything with a basketball, but finding nothing he's able to do.

The time for patience is past, the time for play is now. Join us, sign our banner, unleash the beast within.

Sign here to FREE DARKO!!!!!


Point Pleasant, meet Tyson Chandler!



Last time I produced enough of me to post, I made mention of what will forever be known as the “Bucher Postulate,” which had something to do with the underachieving Baby Bulls finally living up to their potential not necessarily being worthy of praise. That was then; this is now. I am here to create a thing called “draft not living up to its numerical potential,” wherein a team built from the lottery must always be humiliated by the wide, frowning forehead of what could have been.

I do not believe in veterans. Partly of jitters, mostly of accident, my interest in the league mostly extends to prospects, potential, and the unsightly shudder of basketball genius coming into this world. So when I say that you can’t use the draft alone to anchor a franchise, it’s not because I want to. It only really says that free agents are usually known quantities, draft picks infinitely fallible, and, for all future hours, prone to scrutiny. Take perhaps my favorite team of the last decade, the 2001-2002 Los Angeles Clippers. Perfect in every way, a festival to behold, but faded down the stretch and ended up back in the sweet thirteen. The next year they acquired Andre Miller and spoiled the soup (why the league’s assists leader messed up the chemistry while a then-gunner like McInnis kept it flowing is anyone’s guess, and indeed a large part of the enigmatic majesty), but the 2001-2002 Clips stand, pre-Baby Bulls, as the most convincing case for using the summer’s whispery ruins as the place where rosters hatch. It didn’t work, not because Odom, Maggette, Q, Miles, and lone known quantity Elton Brand weren’t good or experienced; it’s because they blew a #1 overall on the Kandiman, a modern-day NBA parable waiting to happen if ever there were one (note: Miles came in one of the worst drafts in history, and, for what that team was, fit better than a redundant pick like Jamal Crawford would have).

Although fleecing Chicago for fellow top pick Brand sort of made up for it, there is really no human way of excusing a team that picked Olowokandi when they could have had (deep breath): Mike Bibby, Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, White Chocolate, Larry Hughes, Paul Pierce, or Bonzi Wells. And, of course, a certain tall, scraggly Deutsch sharpshooter, who would’ve partnered with Brand and Odom to form one of the most rapturous frontlines of this year’s new NBA (further note: Olowokandi did show something that year, so much so that ESPN ran a column claiming that he was the second best true center in the league. I bet Chad Ford wrote it.).

To return to the Bulls, let’s take a small, varied look at the picks that made this year’s feel-good ostrich what it is.

1999: Drafted Ron Artest 16th overall. They probably should have kept him around. Artest, the man he has become, is worth all the Luol Deng’s in the world.

2000: Drafted Chris Mihm, 7th overall, traded him for Jamal Crawford, 8th overall.
Crawford wasn’t a bad pick for the worst draft in history, more talented than Gordon.

2001: The crux of the matter. Here’s what it comes down to: they could have not traded Brand, which would probably have been the smartest move. But if they were absolutely convinced that he was nothing more than a talented piece, not the foundation, they could have at least used #2 overall to snag Pau Gasol instead of Chandler. Chandler comes off the bench and can’t score, Pau’s an All-Star caliber starter who gives you everything a skinny seven-footer could be expected to. Curry at #4 might not be so bad—most agree he’s constantly on the verge of beastliness—but would you really rather have him on the floor than Richard Jefferson? If you wanted a low-post presence, why not trade down and take the redoubtable Troy Murphy? Bonus: imagine if Chicago had taken Gilbert Arenas with the first pick in the second round, instead of Trenton Hassell (not bad for a second-rounder, though). Arenas went one pick later, and could have started his ascent to Eastern Conference All-Stardom two years earlier.

2002: Sad but true: Jay Williams might not have been a great match for our hypothetical Bulls even if he hadn’t crushed his body. More importantly, they could have snagged Nene, Drew Gooden, or, god forbid, Amare himself.

2003: The one thing they’ve done right. In one of the most ridiculously top-heavy drafts in all epic history, Kirk Hinrich is looking more and more like the cut-off point for that All-Star-littered upper echelon.

2004: I’ve been all over the place on Ben Gordon, and he’s pretty much rewarded me with inconclusive evidence. Iguodala might have been a more solid choice, but not if they’d kept Artest. Deng’s okay, but I still don’t understand what he’s good for.

So to recap, instead of this crop of one-day starters:

PG: Hinrich
SG: Gordon
SF: Deng
PF: Chandler
C: Curry

the Bulls could be looking at the modest fivesome of:

PG: Hinrich
SG: Artest
SF: Jefferson
PF: Gasol
C: Nene (Amare, if you’re feeling crazy!)

. . . assuming that they only would have been good enough to make the playoffs (and escape the thoughtful clutches of the lottery) last year, when they finally got a point guard.

The Bulls could win the East this season and to me, their rebuilding will still have been a failure. Waste not, want not. Where will it end?


Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? – My Search for the 3rd Van Gundy

Four years have passed since Jeff Van Gundy took final hold of Alonzo Mourning’s leg and was whisked off our court forever. Like every Knick fan, few corners of my life don’t ache with his remembrance. Recently, however, my memory of Jeff Van Gundy has been fresh and focused, a development I attribute to the following two causes. The first is Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, whose ghastly visage has for months enjoyed front-page display in our nations newspapers, particularly the New York Times (fig.1). For many, it is a reminder of uncanny immediacy – an instant portal to that fateful day when, on those very same pages, we first glimpsed the picture of a retiring Jeff Van Gundy. I myself remember the moment with a 9/11-like clarity: I was at my apartment in Ardmore, Pennsylvania when shoefly (my roommate at the time) summoned me to his computer. More sorrowful than the headline, however, was the image of Van Gundy himself, awash in the white light of the cameras, his bloodless face and listless frame hanging above the microphone like some ancient willow (fig.2). Shoefly and I exchanged few words during those minutes, but among them was an agreement that we had never before witnessed, in man or any other form, such certain testimony of life’s crimes. In this regard, I cannot say whether Yushchenko is or is not Van Gundy’s equal (of the possible analogues for Layden-Era New York, one could certainly do worse than Putin’s poison). Their likeness, however, has been a source of great personal reflection: on suffering, Van Gundy, and most of all, the future.

The second, more obvious cause of these reflections is the recent resignation of Lenny Wilkens, and the attending speculations on who might next lead the woeful Knicks. Here, two men – Van Gundys both – leap immediately to mind, only to be replaced just as quickly by numbing pain. Anyone who saw the aforementioned press conference knew that Jeff Van Gundy would never survive (much the less seek) a second tenure in New York, and if he were even the least bit employable elsewhere, he probably would have left the league for good. Instead, he got as far from New York as possible, and now plies his enviable Van Gundy wares along the Mexican border. His brother, Stan Van Gundy, would be an almost equally desirable option. Unfortunately, he is too busy building the next Eastern Conference dynasty, and bronzing his generous stock in the Miami sun. It is my conclusion that until a third brother emerges, the search for Van-Gundy-as-man must cede to that of Van-Gundy-as-metaphor. Here, the candidates under discussion within the press and Knick community vary greatly, even though the Van Gundy criterion is seldom applied therein. For this reason, and for my own betterment, I offer the following survey of the field.

John Starks/Bill Clinton
Ambitious, Unemployed, and hugely popular, Starks and Clinton share top billing on the fan-favorite list. Both men share a near-godlike power over man’s collective memory, transforming 8-year tenures of inconsistency and disappointment into pageantries of gilded triumph. Whatever shortcomings in the actual task, these powers could easily redeem them: recast in Clinton’s dewy nostalgia, or the hazy glow of Starks’ one great dunk, even the most mediocre of the decades’ foreseeable fortunes would seem like the greatest accomplishments of our age. Still, the disproportioned scales of their respective coaching experience (for Starks, only the non-pro "Westchester Wildfire"; for Clinton, the world) will never match the narrowness/depth of Van Gundy vision, which looks upon the job as nothing more and nothing less than the entirely of life and death.

Phil Jackson
Easily the most qualified coach on the market, if not on earth itself. On the other hand, from the fans’ perspective, imagining Phil Jackson as Knicks’ head coach is about as joyous an exercise as imagining Reggie Miller fucking your mom. For my part, the psychogenetic trauma of Jackson-era Bulls is like Bush’s second term, Crystalnacht, and Charles Smith’s missed lay-ups all at the same time. All this plus his fruity Buddhism and height put Jackson so far down on the Van Gundy scale its not even worth the measurement.

Bill Cosby
A favorite in the sports’ press and among children, Cosby’s candidacy needs neither introduction nor defense. As a leader, Cosby’s record is distinguished, having fathered America’s first middle-class black family with nothing but a few stern looks and a smile. This kind of avuncular stick-and-jello parenting could work wonders for a slumping player like Allan Houston, who’s bourgeois civility and peripheral blackness are about as Huxstable as they come in today’s league. Yet for the rest of the team, neither the affable obstetrician, nor Cosby’s more recent turn as fire-breathing assimilationist are likely to enjoy a warm reception. One crack about Nazr or Moochie’s “stupid sounding name” and he’s just Danny Ainge, but without the long-ball. The Van Gundys, in contrast, are about as racially/culturally suited for the league as a rusted nail: their natural demographic appeal is to pharmacists and pedophiles, and even that is pretty weak. Yet from Shaq and Yao, they claim the respect and honor of Earth’s most spectacular men (figs.3,4).

David Einhorn
Colossus, Wiseman, Maccabee - my father’s qualifications are as radiant as they are innumerable, but it’s the third that sets him farthest from the pack. In Judaism, New York’s flagship franchise confronts the imperative of its history: every one of its national championships (2) has been won under David’s Star. In this sense, Van Gundy is Holzman's truest heir (though here I break with the conventional wisdom) . After all, who but a Jewish coach would feel such unease with Christian hegemony, he would publicly advocate the banning of pre-game prayer? So doing, Van Gundy joined together Alan Houston, Charlie Ward, the ACLU, and the ADL for New York’s largest excursus on the Jewish question since Jesse Jackson’s “Hymietown”. Today, Ward is gone, and Houston marginalized (due mostly to his having been vilified – in an ironic reversal – for the salary cap ills wrought by his Shylock-like avarice). Yet having purged the anti-semitism from his backcourt, our disheveled little hero abruptly packed for Houston. Who is to replace him? Larry Brown is the obvious choice, and hitherto consigned as stranger to his city - first Philly, now Detroit - his homecoming to New York seems all but inevitable. Until that day, however, we can only bear hopeful witness to his wandering. Einhorn, on the other hand, has all but finished his current run as an intellectual property lawyer, and would be nothing if not an easy recruit. At 6’4’’, 240lbs, he has been ranked by shoefly (this time wearing his “historian of longitude” cap) one of the largest Jews of his generation. Both his low-post game and sky-hook possess an Old Testament gravity and wrath, and upon his grimaced face seems to be written – like the lines of some great tree - the entire history of his people - indeed, of basketball itself!
Unfortunately, Einhorn’s potential candidacy has garnered little media buzz beyond the editorial pages of Forward magazine (and, of course, this post). Despite his rightful place in the Van Gundy line of succession, it is unlikely he will see the throne. Thus, our search for the 3rd Van Gundy continues. Please stay tuned….

Figure 1: Ukrainian Victor Yushchenko (12/10/04)

Originally uploaded by silverbird5000.

Figure 2: A Retiring Jeff Van Gundy (12/09/2001)

jeff retires
Originally uploaded by silverbird5000.

Figure 3: Stan Van Gundy and Shaquille O'Neal

stan and shaq
Originally uploaded by silverbird5000.

Figure 4: Jeff Van Gundy and Yao Ming

Jeff and Yao
Originally uploaded by silverbird5000.


Warning: punching inside!

Don’t get me wrong, I lived for NBA Fastbreak, the only show on television that took live game footage from around the country and turned into something altogether blank and unintelligible. But its successor, the truly space-aged NBA Nation, is a show for all eternal darkness. Not only have they taken the squandered wealth of Fastbreak and run with it—good luck getting in more than a second of meaningful game-watching, or even a decently executed highlight reel. The good folks at ESPN have now seen fit to truly let creatures writhe, as some of the network’s most petulant and wilted hoops talking heads get together to say things so insider-y, so crotchety, and so divinely trivial that even obsessives such as myself have trouble not choking on their own screeching breath. If your idea of a time that time forget is hearing Greg Anthony, Marc Stein, Ric Bucher, Tim Legler, and, triumphantly, Stephen A. Smith, bicker about matters so hoops-intensive that they very suddenly cease to be real, make the switch!

The following is a very real transcript of part of this past evening's “Put Up or Shut Up” segment, in which participants say outrageous things that they, for some reason, feel like arguing with their colleagues over. This may be short, but puts into a locket all that is vast and perfect about this trundling crest of a program.

(Newsflash: what if Jaws had been a giant lamprey? Would we not all still be scared?)

Ric Bucher: I predict that Al Jefferson will have more double-doubles than Dwight Howard in the second half.

Greg Anthony: [something about the Celtics being in the playoff chase. Pronounced Howard's first name “Duh-wight” the whole time. Then started complaining about Bucher using “his sources” in formulating his “Put Up or Shut Up” positions]

This was only the finest it had to offer. In the twenty minutes I caught, I also got to witness Bucher complaining with fire about when COY goes to someone like Skiles, who fixes an underachieving team, and experience Legler’s truly revolutionary argument that Iverson deserves MVP consideration because he’s having a better season (with a worse supporting cast) than he had the year he actually won it.

On a lighter note, I think I have lost the ability to differentiate between Wade, LeBron, and Amare. They have become a Trinity of basketball salvation, each of them embodying a different aspect of the twenty-first century baller: Wade, the grit and determination; LeBron, the supernatural wunderkind; Amare, raw power and dynamic energy. I can’t think of one without bringing up the other two. And I honestly feel that their respective fates—nay, the fate of the league—depend on this co-identification. Remember Bron/Melo? This formation is like that, but with teeth, and an extra player.

If you don’t believe me, answer this small question: which of the three do you favor the most? In my corner, the answer must be “any and all.”

Site Improvements

No Diabetes Means More Darko.



It's the saddest day of the year

At least that's what the Texan local news wants me to believe.

In case some of you watch absolutely no football—which, I have to admit, is evidence of an admirable degree of hoops fanaticisim—you've been missing the single strangest commercial to ever air on television.

A commercial of proportions.

Really, there is no limit to how little I have to say about this. To open my mouth and speak would be an injustice, excluding so, so much in its wake.


Nenad or Nene?

From the January 31st issue of ESPN the Magazine:

"The Nets were willing to give up Alonzo Mourning and Eric Williams for Vince Carter in part because 21-year-old Nenad Krstic needs to play. The seven-foot Serb not only has the finesse game of a typical Euro import, he's got some heart. "I don't want to be soft," he says..."

I thank Nenad for being concise. So very much said in so very little.

As my peer shoefly (who seems to be a chief source of inspiration) alluded to below in his fine column, Nenad is a enigma in a league where so many big men are failures. So many of the Euros are soft, yet Mr. Kristic promises that he will deliver his hard. In this, he offers redemption to his native continent and the generation of euros who failed before him. To be hard is a success only fulfilled by the tree-men of the Black Forest. Recently, only the bruising aryan known as Dirk! has been able to deliver. In the eighties, it was the walking dynamo Detlef Schrempf that put the world on notice of things to come from the Old World.

Will Nenad deliver? He desires much. To not be soft. To grind. To muscle. To hustle.

Nenad's aspirations are inspiring and impressive. Yet we can gauge so much in so little as the delivery of his simple message revealed a weak man aspiring to be a bonafide virtuoso. A man who in his desire to not to be soft reveals the very real softness of his core. Champions do not speak about not being soft. They go out and clobber. If Eddy Curry said it, we would all be chuckling. Yet, since a Euro offers his hard we give him the benefit of the doubt. We lend hope. Yet, that is foolish folly. He is trying to make amends where so many others have failed. The richness of it is laughable. I recognize, do you?

I have had many reservations about Mr. Kristic, first and foremost among them his heritage. I admit that I assume, label and stereotype people. In this case, I believe it will reap truth.

Mr. Kristic's Yugoslavian squad, KK Partizan, is headed by two NBAers themselves. Vlade Divac is president of the team, while Sasha Danilovic is vice president. The latter of course is the smooth looking, smooth shooting 2 guard that played for the Heat and saw his career fizzle after he was traded for Jamal Mashburn. The Riley knew Danilovic was softer than the toilet paper women prefer, in fact even Tim Hardaway said Danilovic's face could be used as a substitute.

Insiders know that KK Partizan is a modern day joy-luck club. A dinner feast where tall and pale men speak of their memories of the NBA. Fleeting in a wonderful way because as I will reveal, the good fortune of KK Partizan is loathe to run out very soon.

See, as our hero Darko Milicic is the finest example of, there is a limit in the NBA to the success of the Euro Invasion. As recent as two years ago, we know that Mr. Stern was preparing to pay his players in Euros and expand to London, Paris, et al. Yet, today we know that the much hyped invasion has fizzled.

The emergence of Amare, LeBron, D-Wade and others has reminded us that basketball (at least the NBA brand of it) is still and will always be America's sport. We are International (yes!, as the Olympics suggest and we enrapture by our love for these offshore freaks), but Euros will continue to be damned as hungrier (literally) imports from Asia and South America (Nenad's alter-ego Nene is from Brazil) have begun to outshine the Slavs, Serbs, Croats, Goats and Spaniards. Even the ever underrated Pau Gasol continues to fly under the radar, and he can only hope to one day be as recognizable as Keith Van Horn. And he has no Slavic ancestry, he is a proud and fierce Catalan. Almost an honorary Cuban like Gilbert Arenas.

Gasol aside (as I will dedicate much future effort to him), Danilovic and Divac demonstrate the wisdom of my limit to euro success theory. Apart from Sasha having every letter of Divac in his last name alone, the two men couldn't be further apart in the annals of the Imperial NBA. Divac is quite possibly the most successful bigman from over there ever - the Russian version of Bill Wennington that played for the Blazers on iron knees aside. Sasha is a forgotten swinger whose smooth jumper couldn't outclass his lack of athleticism.

For Nenad the same will be true. He may not want to be soft. But when the corn-fed American trolls come a calling, they will knock his potato loving, vodka drinking ass firmly back to Montenegro. Weak man doesn't want to be soft. Nenad, you've failed us already.


For the sake of the song

“. . . locked in a battle for the hearts and minds of an utterly polarized basketball universe.”

That stands as the second best thing Bill Walton has graced us with so far this season (see below for the victor). I’ve always been of the mind that Walton’s greatest moments are the ones he clearly thought up in advance, and had ample time to fine-tune before trotting them out on the air; as immortal as gems like “the finest outlet pass in the history of Western civilization” they can be chalked up to spur-of-the-moment enthusiasm. We can all relate to this kind of outburst, an endearing, robustly human feature of the sports fan experience. Walton, though, towers over us all as an inhuman, infinitely off-putting titan of awkwardness and irreproachable spite. I want my Walton delivered from on high, with all the back-handed grace of a burning sundae. No sundae burns without cause, and no truly foundational Walton-ism would be complete without the musty hew of unsightly intention.

Fittingly enough, in its initial context, this grandstanding made little to no sense. ‘Twas spoken on the day that some of you call Christmas, in reference to the Kobe/Shaq schism (which, as far as I can tell, jumped the shark that very day, as did anti-Kobe sentiment in general). I am not entirely sure how it is that the fate of basketball came to rest on this single spate of prolonged bitchery, but I do know that neither Kobe nor the Big Creator is any position to rule the new NBA, and that harping on their feud is of interest chiefly to L.A., a sports city that thinks walks a fine line between elitism and provinciality.

This line did rush into my brain, however, as I sat down for roughly five hours of worthwhile NBA action last night. As much as I can pretend to care about Heat/Pacers—without Artest, Indiana’s just not that interesting to watch, and the Heat is only as entertaining as Wade is dominant—I soon found myself stuck on The Omen and getting strangely pissed off about Suns/Spurs. Phoenix has been such a blessing from above this season that to say so is played-out (not that anything’s really changed. . .); the Spurs, on the other hand, were until the brawl tied with Detroit for “team most likely to take the air out of their own gym.” Then, in one magical night, the Pistons managed to gain an edge and lose some of their composure, a damaged war vet liable to either cry or bite your arm. Factor in Larry Brown’s increasingly bizarre lamentations, proof positive that he is truly basketball’s answers to the prophetic tradition of his Hebrew ancestors, and the Pistons are no longer the lump of the league.

This leaves only the Spurs, multi-hued enemies of sight and frenzy who seem to have been put on this earth solely to please grandparents and make late games unwatchable. As I flipped back to Heat/Pacers in time to see Tinsley catch fire and force overtime (at what point does this guy realize he could be one of the league’s better point guards?), I came up with a proposal that would save my soul and ensure the long-term safety of the league’s integrity and forthright purpose. By the time the telecast switched over to the West Coast, I was ready to speed-dial Stern and lay it all on the line.

Give the Spurs the title. They’re the odds-on favorites to take it anyway, since they have no discernible weakness and seem genetically incapable of losing. With them out of the picture, upstart dynamos like Phoenix have a legitimate shot at a title—and the chance to set the tenor for the entire post-season. The Suns are like Dallas with style, or the 2002 Clippers fuelled by competence. In short, they’re an entirely credible, solid running team, whose sole weakness lays in their vulnerability to a spoiler squad like the Spurs. The whole league would play for second-best status, but it would be such a blast for them, and us, that they probably wouldn’t mind all that much. This may be the same kind of lopsided thinking that makes me not believe in shooting percentage, yet the face-value appeal of it is undeniable. Most commentary during a Suns game involves repeated mentions of how much fun the players are having, what a gas it is to call their games, and the occasional acknowledgement of the crowd’s near-ecstatic roar. Victory may count for something, but in a sport where style nearly tops substance, it’s not out of the question that we could have a title for each of these two guiding principles of basketball. Or, rather, there’s no reason to believe that the Suns and the Spurs don’t exist in a “totally polarized basketball universe,” so that we not be forced to acknowledge that efficiency is the root of good basketball, or that defense can indeed overcome even the most florid offense. That’s football talk, not hoops.

Turns out I put way too much stock in the two teams’ prior meeting, and forgot that Argentine enigmas always have something up their sleeves. Anyone who cares enough to have read this far knows that the game was fast-paced, close, featured a thrilling comeback by the Spurs (yes, that’s “thrilling” and “Spurs” in the same sentence), and only really looked like a trademark San Antonio victory when they clamped down (or Phoenix went careening out of control) in overtime. More importantly, I was treated to the single most incandescent performance in the wiry, intoxicating career of Manu, who single-handedly beat the Suns at their own game. “Manu moments”—which almost invariably result in a shot of Pops grousing on the sidelines—are the one pure, good thing about watching San Antonio. If Pops is willing to let the masked man from South America’s wealthiest nation do his thing on a regular basis, I just might feel comfortable with them being a part of the playoffs—hell, a man like me, all speckles, fog, and hog-tied excellence—might even find it in his heart to watch them, something that even all the Walton-isms in the world could never have inspired me to do prior to Friday night.

But I am left to wonder: is it insensitive to use the “matador” cliché to describe Manu?


A league of his own

shoefly brought this to our attention, but i think the whole wide world deserves to understand:

This fucker could be an honorary master of the klondike if he wasn't too off the wall for us!

Adam (Burlington, VT): Bill - Thanks for taking our questions! I just want to see the big man's view on the Steve Nash for MVP talk...Does he have a chance at the MVP against a guy like Duncan or KG?

SportsNation Bill Walton: (3:37 PM ET ) Steve Nash right now IS the league's MVP. They never lose when he plays ... theynever win when he doesn't play. There is no greater evidence for what makes the league's MVP. Steve Nash reminds me so much of what happned to me early this week in Memphis for MLK Jr. celebrations. As I was leaving Graceland on my pilgimmage to see Elvis the song Graceland by Paul Simon -- who is already in the Hall of Fame of everything, particularly life -- he is just like Steve Nash. Paul and Steve, small in stature, but huge in persona. They make all others play their game with vision, imagination, creativity, peak performance and the courage to stand up to the biggest bullies in the land. The comparisons between Paul Simon and Steve Nash are eerie. The statistical analysis of what Nash has done for the Suns makes him, hands down, the MVP. But this award is not voted on until the last day of the regular season and we are not even half way gone. With Steve this a.m. it appears as if he IS going to play tonight, but, wisely, the Suns will wait and make a gametime decision. This is a great franchise and they realize that this is not about a short-term fix of a five game losing streak. This is about the big picture and going for it all. They can change the future of basketball and I couldn't be happier for what is going on here in the Valley of the Sun ... where today there is no sun. But with the heavy rains behind us, look for the spring bloom to be extraordinary, much the way Steve Nash has sewn the seeds of an uplifting and positive liberation in the course of NBA history.

Friday Open Thread

Last night, the Masters of the Klondike united to discuss their efforts to Free Darko Milicic. The meeting was a productive one.

In order to create a programming series for this blog, every Friday Morning there will be an open thread. This is a sign of charity from the Masters of the Klondike and should be recieved graciously. Ungrateful pigs will feel the wrath of the Masters.

Avoid the wrath. More to follow on the Masters' efforts to Free Darko Milicic.

Please comment. Or else.


All my friends were there

I swear to god I saw this commercial today:

Narrator: Current events got you feeling down?
(city street through someone’s eyes, shaking and blurring)
(words like “depression” float around)
(up staircase to apartment door)
Narrator: “Don’t turn to drugs to deal with these feelings”
(hot blonde sitting on couch, looking at once homey and seductive)
Blonde: “How was your run?”
(shot spins around, revealing to us that we have been seeing the world through the eyes of a young black woman in a sweatsuit)

(at this point my mind was so thoroughly blown that I didn’t catch the exact line that followed, or the last bit of voice-over. I did, however, catch that the commercial was brought to you by the U.S. of A.)

Notwithstanding the ad’s homosexual overtones, as well as the government’s admission that we might be so distressed by their performance so as to self-medicate, this miraculous twenty seconds of television does hit on a problem central to today’s mushed-up galaxy: it feels bad. This planet is as scary a place as its been since the Dark Ages, and our national leaders in Washington are to be commended for trying to show us the way (I wish this sentence could be seriously applied to the Wizards’ backcourt).

Thankfully, I have a solution. Anyone else who posts on this blog has been party to my New Year’s resolution: spend at least fifteen minutes a day wondrously thinking on LeBron present and future greatness. After watching this commercial, though, I know that my little thought experiment has a life and electricity whose fiery reach extends far beyond mere league rehabilitation, or dignified time-wasting. As LeBron’s greatness will save the NBA, so to do I believe it will transform the country itself. Were the Republicans to be wise, they would set up King James as a full-fledged government institution, whose sheer majesty is an end in itself, a distraction that emboldens as it quickens.

Here, then, is LeBron’s present and future. But what of his past? We all remember the now-laughable Bron/Melo rivalry, the PG experiment (which did work out much better than the short-lived “D-Miles, frightful new face of the point guard industry” fiasco of the Cavs’ reverse-epic 2002-2003), the failure to make the playoffs. That was LeBron Year One—a cute, encouraging, occasionally unbelievable first act to what everyone assumed would be a magical career.

I stand before you to say that we did not give him enough. Now that LeBron stands mere feet away from the mantle of “greatest player in the league,” Year One looks less like a rookie year and more like a high school rookie year. Every great high school player has taken some time to adjust to the big show, and LeBron was no different. What we saw last season wasn’t Act 1, it was the preamble. These were the growing pains of greatness, a liminal stage that, in the hands of lesser athletes with names like Kobe, T-Mac, and Garnett, could be excused away—nay, needed to be so. It’s surface-scratching, a speculative glimpse at what might one day bloom like a wild, wild office party. LeBron will undoubtedly improve as the years roll by, but this is the first season he’s a real NBA player, not someone still finding his feet. And this thought, my friends, is downright terrifying.

Sometimes when I sleep, I remember LeBron’s first game, also notable because it was held up by an overtime Magic victory over the Knicks—the only win they’d enjoy for several weeks. Most people I knew in the city who would care came over, and we watched LeBron put up 25 points, prove incapable of seizing the day and staging a fourth-quarter comeback against the Kings, and, most astoundingly, turn the mind-melting Ricky Davis into somebody’s teammate, if only on one fast break. It was an impressive showing, and pretty much indicative of his season: promising, precocious, but more unfinished and wistful than it was a super beginning or positive first step.

LeBron, we hardly knew you. Now we do, and if only we had known how then—if we hadn’t jumped the gun—we would have been even more ominously astounded.

Public Discourse on Free Darko Petition

The Masters of the Klondike held a symposium this evening to discuss their efforts to Free Darko Milicic from the oppression of the World Champion Detroit Pistons. The following is a log of their discussion:

El Huracan Andreo
if anyone is so inclined, i need the body text for a online petition to free darko milicic.

this will be one of the feature portions of our blog and will hopefully increase site traffic big time.

check out www.petitiononline.com, as they will be hosting our darko petition.

bethlehem shoals
shoefly. i think you're clearly the man to draft a free darko petition.

this does have me wondering, though, why it's darko we're trying to free. i like skita's game more. zarko's name is better. did anyone see sasha vujavic light it up for one quarter of joy last night?

then again, darko is the most poignant example, and the most high-profile. he is the standard by which all other sadness must be measured.

I guess I'll try to knock off a free darko piece. Should it just be that darko is in binds and needs the freedom to show his stuff? The problem is I'm going to have a hard time bashing Larry Brown, the Jewish answer to Red Aurbauch. Would anybody object if I make it an anti Rasheed Wallace argument?

bethlehem shoals
larry brown's judaism. i have always wrestled with it. i want jews to do things i like, but brown's recent career seems to have been a study in the current tensions between blacks and my flock of native finery. i prefer to believe that lenny wilkins is jewish, despite all evidence to the contrary.

perhaps brown is taking out some age-old grudge against the slavic darko. though i don't think the pograms were a balkan phenomenon.

no sheed bashing. even if i like crazy old sheed far more than functional, selfless sheed, i can't forget the magic he helped us cup.

that refers to the blazers of 2000 till infinity, not his time in chapel hill. i can't really claim CH, since i only even bother to follow the team insofar as many of them will figure prominently in NBA DRAFT 2005!!!!!!

Shaq's Inauguration

Two experiences. Four years apart.

Democracy has flexed its muscle today. $40 million was spent to give our second termer an inauguration he will never forget. The White House believes that such a celebration of freedom is money well spent.

I will not argue the moral implications of that issue extensively - other than to say that, of course, if I was in the Suni Triangle I rather have body armor provided by the government than some that I purchased off an Ebay vendor. Perhaps if Laura, Barb and Jenna had bought their gowns off the rack a few new recruits would have the proper equipment to shield them from metal slugs. Yet, federal appropriations continue to be a mystery to me even as I continue the climb of the political ladder.

Ever the economist (as it allows me to push my own morality aside), today's theatrics have left me wondering what $40 million buys you. The value. And, inexplicably, those thoughts have led me to my new Jesus, Shaquille O'Neal. Michael Jordan pioneered the multi-ten mark years ago, when he got thirty from Chicago. The Big Aristotle hasn't reached that pinnacle just yet, but he has his designs set on it. It isn't out of the realm of possibility that he'll approach near-Bush2005inaugurationcompensation in the next few years.

We all know that Jerry Buss didn't want to pony up the oh-moo-la-la to keep the Big Fella in Hollywood. Meanwhile here in Miami, as the Flash-Superman tandem keeps winning and the American Airlines Arena fills capacity every night, Heat Owner Mickey Arison realizes that those tens of tens of tens is money well spent.

It seems then, that the value of $40 million is inconsistent. Personally, I would rather have ~82 games plus the playoffs of Shaq versus a day of pageantry for everyone's favorite first family.

And I think that the public at large feels the same way. And to prove it, I relate two singular experiences that take place 4 years apart on the same week.


January 21, 2001 - The first inauguration. I was in attendance after convincing some G.O.P winos that I was a member of the team. Comp tickets weren't hard to come by as evidenced by the usual clusterfuck of protestors, parade goers, radicals and lame ducks. Not money well spent. The party wasn't good at all. The only cool thing was seeing the snipers on top of the capital. And they didn't even shoot anyone!

January 16, 2005 - Almost five years to the day. A vastly different celebration, as Shaquille O'Neal plays Grand Marshall to the festive Three Kings Parade in Little Havana, Miami, Florida. Glee was in the air hours before his arrival. No pro-lifers, no pro-choicers. And even though it is a religious celebration that was moved to accomodate Shaq's schedule, there were no real religious radicals in sight aside from the three live camels that were decked in saddles bearing the logo of a local pharmacy.

The camels were the only zealots. And even they could not compare to the Beatle-mania that surrounded Shaq. Miami's Politicos were nervous before his arrival, informing their photographers to make sure they got a picture with the biggest man ever built. That would be impossible as the second he made an appearance a throng of eighty gathered around him. It was reminiscent of those Kindergarten sharing circles - only bigger.

Yet, there was no hate. There was no need for heavy security. No one was going to take the Big Fella out. Surely, it isn't in Man's interest to destroy something so beautiful as a 7'1 500 pound monolith.

Thoughts of demise aside, there was a calmness surrounding the chaos of Shaq in Little Havana that even Bush's coming-out party in gestapo controlled Washington wouldn't be able to echo.

I also think Bush would be hard pressed to have such a John Lennon like following as Shaq did last Sunday.


Putting politics on the backburner, I'm sure there are a few things that we can all agree on:

-Following today's market forces, 40 mil on the Diesel is money well spent. For the inauguration its way too close to call.

-The DNC would be well advised to pursue a Shaq/Kobe ticket in 2008. Just think, since bullets are proven to bounce off of Mr. Steel we'll save oodles on Secret Service.

And, if Kobe proves to be a Texas-sized conservative (which would make no sense but be completely in line with his downfall), we could cooly substitute Riley for Numero Ocho and watch the ticket take back the country.

In the name of Nenad Krstic

For my first post as a Master of the Klondike, (and to be perfectly honest, I really do feel like a Master of the Klondike) I would like to make a confession. Much like my co-blogger's relationship with Kobe I too have a love who's name I dare not speak. Perhaps not as controversial a figure, but to my thinking just as heroic, shameful, dynamic, and sordid as the Los Angeles superstar.

Nenad Krstic, the man, the myth, the Serbio-Montenegran giant with the heart of gold. I had heard rumour of the boy ever since he left his home of Kraljevo, giving up his life as a goat-herd and part time chimney sweep for the money of the Austrio-Hungarian junior league. He was drafted by the Nets in '02, but his team, the Slvrankil Tigers refused to release his rights. He stayed there the next two seasons, winning the MVP award his last year when he scored 26 points (no accurate rebounding statistics exist) and shorned two goats during halftime of the championship game.

He came to the Nets with little fanfare, most thought he would get the Darko/Zarko treatment this year. And this was true for the most part, stuck behind J. Collins and the artist formerly known as Alonzo Mourning's kidney Nenad seemed destined to lead the league only in highest proportion of consonants to vowels in a last name. This, however, was when my interest in Nenad began. On nights when the Nets were playing a good team I would watch them play.(I know this must be the most shocking part of this post, the fact that somebody actually is retarded enough to watch the Nets play) One of the good things about watching a team as horrible as the Nets is that by the middle of the third quarter the game is effectively over and you're able to see the scrubs and rookies. When Nenad came in he showed a zest and love for the game which few, past or present, possess. Diving on the floor, running into his own men, hitting his head on the rim, these were just a few of the early Nenad Krstic's antics. He quickly became a local folk hero, a sort of Johnny Appleseed in shorts and New Jersey.

Then the most important thing happened, I saw the Nets Life: Nenad edition. There was a full half-hour of Nenad. I learned all the information previously mentioned about Nenad, plus got to go shopping with him. When he got to the meat aisle and bought every package of Hebrew National hotdogs in stock I knew he was the one.

I still, believed, however, that the Nets midget coach would be able to keep the indomnitable NK down. I didn't have enough faith in the boy who at age 12 was so tall he had to sit on the teacher's desk in math class because the chairs were too small, and when he sat on his own desk it crumpled to the floor.

But a funny thing happened, Alonzo Mourning's liver failed, (well, I guess that's not too funny) and with no other able bodies Nenad started getting some serious run. And you know what? This little bastard has game. He's got nice touch out to 14 feet, good feet (he attributes it to his time as a shephard), and is not really that soft. I started loving the bastard and picked him up on my fantasy team. He's really not bad. Tonight, for instance he scored 16 with 4 boards, 3 assists, and three blocks. He's only 21. This guy could be the next Zoran Planinic! I'm telling you, I love this guy.

In addition to his game and his history he also has, in my opinion, the single best name in the NBA today. I loved Darko Milosovic(Free Darko! Viva la Milosivic) and Zarko Zabarkaba is an all timer, but just say Nenad Krstic and tell me it doesn't bring a smile to your face. I've taken to using it as a curse (in the name of Nenad H. Krstic, what's going on here! etc.) I'm worried about using Krstic's name in vain, but I imagine he'll forgive me. Also, that is just an unbelievable amount of consonants, we're talking 5 to 1 here people! That never happens! Only one man can make the impossible come true, can walk on water and turn it into consonants, and that one man's name is Nenad H. Krstic.

One of my running themes from now on will be the life, the times, the travails, the successes, the improvements, the nasal passages of old Nenad. I'm glad I've unburdoned myself, I've kept my feelings secret far too long. It feels good to loose the fetters and shackles of forbidden love. I didn't think it would happen so soon, but his time has come, and I'm just glad I am lucky enough to be in the right place and time to chronicle it.

Klondike Flashback - 9.22.00

I've installed flux capacitors in your keyboard. Press CTRL-ALT-DEL and you will be transported to the year 2000. Lakers are champs. Shaq and Duncan share the All-Star MVP. All is good.

The first of the Klondikes is born. Well, officially. Other Klondikes existed but were unaware of their abilities. The path to unity, the path to "sports wroughtership" was being breached... as the Klondikes call it, sports wroughtership or "spowrt" blends all the goodness of life into a spam filled taco of journalistic voyuerism. Bring the connies, the herp is abound!

Marinate on that for a minute. Here, from the top secret journal of Tyler Whitney, is a Masters of Klondike flashback:



bonethugs 'n' harmony aren't so harmonious anymore - bonethugs founder flesh-n-bone was sentenced today to eleven years in prison for pulling out an AK-47 from a baby carriage during a fight with a friend. it seems ol' flesh here was showing his buddy the expressway to "the crossroads". i guess he was worried that eazy e was getting lonely. reports also indicate that flesh's punishment was bumped up for his excessive use of "you know what i'm saying" and "ain't" during his time on the stand. the worst of it all is that the bonethugs won't be churning out more gold.

glen rice is officially a knick - oh how they can fall. this guy used to be my favorite player in the league. now he's stooped to the worst. here is my reasoning. well it seems that g-money got g-greedy and instead of signing with the heat for the exception and making as good a chance to win it all as anyone else... he gets traded to the hated knicks. now while they are going to be a worse team with him than with ewing, seeing him try to shoot the j in that hideous uniform is just too much for me to bare. to make matters worse the lakers are even more powerful now with horace grant. someone's rice 41 heat jersey is gonna be burned the minute i get home to miami. *sniff*


Me and the devil

In two hundred years, they will be able to tell you the exact moment at which I swore allegiance to Kobe Bryant. It happened in early 2003, when Kobe was on a Shaq-less scoring tear of historic proportions; I myself was spending a lot of time in New York, copping yay at wholesale prices and fucking a girl with a lazy eye. One night I was at a bar with too many chairs, celebrating the birthday of a total stranger and watching the Lakers/Rockets game out of the corner of my one green eye. I got sick of whatever else was going on, and went to stand by the television with an older black man wearing headphones.

I don’t remember what Kobe did (other than score a lot), and I don’t know why this night was different from all others that month (an obvious choice would have been one of his assaults on the hapless Nuggets, which provided ninety-percent of that season’s Bryant highlights). But then and there, it dawned on me that resisting was a waste—Kobe was simply too good not to jock. Pre-rape Kobe was aloof and smug, but hardly evil. And, as I told the guy in the headphones repeatedly, at some point, as a fan of the greatest game on the planet, you were screwing yourself if you refused to appreciate The Next Jordan. He nodded, thanked me, and turned his headphones up. I had a new lease on life and an incredible urge to fuck someone whose eyes worked and kill.

It got to the point where I didn’t only stand in awe of Kobe—pre-rape, I was sympathetic. Who among us isn’t a self-absorbed, suspicious, anti-social prick at heart? Even after the arrest, I tried to keep it positive, sketching out how it could have been an honest mistake. The more dirt came out, though, the harder it became to keep up my newfound investment in Kobe the man; eventually, I was just pissed that basketball (read: me) would have to go without him if his violent world of lawyers couldn’t keep him out of jail.

That’s how sick—and otherworldly—Kobe was two years ago. He had flashes last season, but the Lakers weren’t right on the court, and the drama with Shaq and Phil distracted conditional Kobe fans like myself (he’s not the kind of player you can root for when he’s down). Then came the summer of 2004, which in retrospect hurt his image more than the arrest, and the awful realization that Kobe’s Lakers would be no land of plenty. Kobe and Odom could spank anyone in the league in a game of two-on-two (still my favorite combo in NBA Street), but watching them for real was going to be as frustrating and depressing as any Eastern Conference team could ever hope to be.

And then there’s Lebron. Everybody loves Lebron; he also, unlike Kobe, never looks like he’s fucking around or floundering. The Cavs aren’t necessarily any more talented, or better-coached, than the Lakers, but Bron plays smart and efficiently, like Phil was whispering in his ear. If Kobe is a coach killer, Lebron could make any coach look twice as effective as they deserve to be. That and the worst he’s been accused of is taking a free throwback and smiling a lot.

But has Kobe Bryant fallen so far, and the world forgotten so much, that we’re taking the “Kobe theory” seriously? The Ewing theory, which the mighty Bill Simmons has never forgotten as much as I’ve never forgotten it, made sense at the time; Ewing was aging, slow, and a dinosaur in a conference that had no centers who required his special, special gifts. Going small meant a faster, more dynamic Knicks team, opening up the floor and changing the complexion of the offense. Kobe, though, is a 6’6” off-guard on a team that, as far as I can tell, is made up of Lamar Odom and a bunch of average-sized, decently athletic 2’s and 3’s. You don’t switch styles by taking away Kobe, and while Kobe may not be the easiest guy to play with, there’s no way that this year’s Lakers wouldn’t die to have 2003 Kobe on the court with them.

Someone grouchy and stupid might come back at me with the “Vince Carter theory,” since Toronto always seemed to go on a run when Vince was out. That might work for last year’s Raptors—if you actually believe that anyone in the East gave a fuck until Lebron and Shaq shifted the balance of power. And this year’s Raptors had Bosh waiting in the wings, an basketball dragon who’s probably worth more to a team now than Vince has been since he invented “jumper’s knee.”

The preceding paragraph also assumes that Carter even belongs in the same sentence with Kobe. Vince made his rep in a dunk contest.

Next time you’re lucky enough to hear Greg Anthony and Marc Stein debating the “Kobe theory,” stop yourself and think about 2003 Kobe. I’m not saying Kobe is (that) brilliant this season, but it's not like he's lost the ability to be that player. Having Phil on the bench helped, but there's no reason to believe he’ll never get back to that level, or that calling him Jordan 2 was a mistake. Mark my word, he’s got plenty of time and talent to burn—if it was all a dream, it never would have happened in the first place.

Greetings & Welcome

Prepare yourself for a completely indulgent experiencec. Not for you the reader, but for ourselves - the Masters of the Klondike. Link yourself to our history.

The future will unravel before you.


Freedom - A Petition to Free Darko Milicic

Politicians say the word as though a mantra, repeating it ad nauseum until it has lost any semblance of a meaning. But what is it really? It's more than just the ability to go to the nearest superstore and buy a discount dvd. It's more than just a voting booth with the unclothed wizard behind the curtain. And it's more than just another word for nothing left to lose.

Freedom, ultimately, is about opportunity. And opportunity is, ultimately, what we Masters of the Klondike seek. We've taken our name from the renegade band of ragtag missanthropes, swindlers, heroes, adventurers, malingerers, patriots, mercenaries, and desperadoes, whom, in the early days of her statehood, turned Alaska from a vast and desolate moonscape and transformed her into a veritable final judgement and test on the limits of the human spirit in conditions of unknowable harshness. Against the wishes and orders of their governmental superiors the Masters of the Klondike, taking their cue from Lazarillo and the new world adventurers, turned the demonic Alaskan landscape into a process of discovery. Young men sallied forth like majestic, indeed, divinely ordained picarros, past crevasse and canyon, past blank and barren calderas, past frozen rivers and ravenous wolves, to discover, again and again their manhood. Although many, indeed most, perished on their search for the mother lode, falling to the extremes of cold, hunger, the crushing power of polar bears and wolves, a place in history was carved by these Pale Riders. They were tested and proven worthy. The Masters of the Klondike carved gold from frozen mountains and etched their visages into history.

And that is what we too seek, greatness. Though the wilderness is vast and terrible, we seek the opportunity to sally forth and test our mettle. That is why we have joined together to free the enslavement of one held in check far too long. To give him the opportunity others have had to discover the greatness buried within him. We seek to free Darko Milicic!

Ever since he has entered the league Darko has had to silently bear the insults and indignities of being restrained, denied, the chance to show what he could do. Unfairly compared to those who have been given the freedom to show their abilities Darko has been openly maligned as unworthy. All we ask is that this be rectified, that Darko have the chance that his forbears have.

In his own words, "Everybody has got a chance to play, even the rookies who just camethis year," Milicic said. "I didn't get a chance. I was playing and everybody said great job, great job - then I don't play."

Our demands are not unreasonable, just a spot in the rotation. Twenty minutes a night is all we're asking for, and we're not willing to wait any longer. Unleash the hidden tiger locked inside this strange and wayward boy, LET HIM PLAY. Though at times he seems trepid, there is boiling blood in those veins ready for a challenge. He is not, as so many claim, talentless. He is merely miscast in a play. He would have made a perfect knight in a different century, or a very good pagan prince in a time of heroes. He was just sent to the wrong team, on the wrong side of river, with the ability to do anything and everything with a basketball, but finding nothing he's able to do.

The time for patience is past, the time for play is now. Join us, sign our banner, unleash the beast within.

Sign here to FREE DARKO!!!!!