Put A Straw Under Baby

Regular readers will recall that we did our fair share of biting back at that beloved American institution known as March Madness. Frankly, I was in favor of piling-on even more, but I would like to think that we were screaming with our silence during that utterly unwatchable Final Four. In case I haven’t made it clear in the past, I have no problem with college ball per se. I love watching the early rounds of the tournament and cheering for outrageous upsets just as much as the next guy, but it frustrates me to no end when people feel the need to demean my dear Association in order to justify their preference of an obviously inferior brand of basketball. Chief among these myths is that college kids play harder than the pros. For proof of the immense effort exerted nightly in the L, one needs to look no further than last night’s Laker game, where “stoned-slacker” extraordinaire Lamar Odom hit the hardwood for a loose ball before going between Dunny’s legs to Kobe for a 360. And I defy anyone who watched UConn, a team supposedly stocked with talent, struggle against Albany, Kentucky, and Washington before succumbing to mighty George Mason, to tell me how much harder college kids play.

Unfortunately, however, there are some players in the league blessed with enough raw talent to excel without consistently giving the proverbial 100%. These players, despite being the exception and not the rule, provide obvious fodder for all Association haters. The two players in this mold that most readily spring to mind are Ray Allen and Vince Carter. Both are famous detractors of that pest known as the Rash, and I don’t see how this can be a coincidence. It seems that Bowen’s mere existence is an affront to Ray and Vince, and I imagine that their ability to get by on sheer talent is offensive to the forever-hustling Bowen.

(Apologies, Rick. Photo credit to John Loomis and the Fader Blog)

Recently, the Allen-Bowen feud reached a new level when Bowen kicked Allen after the two were tangled on the floor. We discussed this in great detail at the time, but in the days following that post it came to light that Allen personally called the NBA’s VP of basketball operations, Stu Jackson, to complain.

"When we landed in Memphis I called Stu and asked him if he saw the game. He
said he watched it that night, and he didn't think much of it. He said I'm going
to watch it again. I told him I was just sitting there and he kicked me in the
back and something more should have been done than him getting a technical foul.
Then he started watching it, and he thought I was on his ankle."

Obviously, you would never catch Melo placing such a call, but frankly, it offends me that NBA players have nothing better to do with their nights than call the league office to complain, ESPECIALLY after a game that they won. They should be hitting the clubs, recording albums or updating their MySpace page. Petty bitching should be left to people like me.

Walter Ray responded in the ultimate way by hitting a go-ahead 3 in the final seconds to get his team a W. Point taken. If, for some reason, that still wasn't enough for him he could have spoken to Stu Jackson through the media as Shaq recently did. Calling the league office is just a bitch move, and it's indicative of many of my problems with him as a player. Like, why does it take a Bowen kick to get him to play with passion? Why does Seattle go 52-30 during his contract year and 33-44 once he gets paid? (And before you come at me with any argument about Seattle being a different team this year recall that their main free agent losses were Antonio Daniels and Jerome “Big Snacks” James, and then look at what Gilbert has done in Hughes' absence). As much as I hate being the one to say this, if we're really serious about silencing all these erroneous anti-NBA stereotypes, I think we need to call out the guys who help perpetuate them every bit as much as we (deservedly) call out the Bowen's of the world for their cheap and boring brand of ball.


At 4/12/2006 12:20 PM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

reggie miller and ray allen were twins seperated at birth (miller=evil twin). I've never really liked either, but i do enjoy watching those old clips of reggie attacking kobe (and in the same situation FBP would have written somebody a disapproving letter). That's why the dooling-allen fight earlier this year was so odd. the cosmic balance was must have been upended with miller's retirement—a disturbance in the force.

At 4/12/2006 12:36 PM, Blogger Mirabeau Lamar said...

How true. While Bowen's kick was excessive, calling the League was the bitchiest move the Association has seen for a while. With his talent, his biggest liability is his own will power. He could be a much more dominant player, but he lacks the desire. Bowen shut him down last night in their rematch as he was completely taken out of the game, mentally.

At 4/12/2006 12:37 PM, Blogger Mirabeau Lamar said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 4/12/2006 12:43 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

while i welcome the trashing of fbp--as i told you over email, the praise i heap upon him at this point has little to nothing to do with my actual feeling about him--i do feel obliged to stick up for him a little bit. at least vis a vis the vince comparison.

for all his shortcomings, and the contract year one is a glaring one, allen is the kind of player who you could a basketball aesthete without it necessarily discounting his effectiveness or heart. vince has clearly chosen/been forced into the role of basketball artiste, even in his current incarnation as the jersey dynamo. as in, you wait with vince not so much to see if he's going to score, but how he'll do it. his battle isn't against the defender (these days, he wins), but against his own high standards for embellishment.

what's always impressed me most about vince is how fluid (not smooth) he is, moves or no moves. that's kind of how i feel about allen--he's still a viable player out there, caught up in the struggle, but everything he does also comes off pretty as hell. there's an overall feel to his game that, while it may not help him OR create a new precedent for what it means for him to score, is obviously indicative of both ray ray the man and something he takes great pride in.

carter could've been this, and probably should be these days, but his past haunts him. and he can't help but dredge it up again at least once or twice a game, when he reminds us that he might be basketball's greatest showman ever. unfortunately, it's hard to ignore that when he can so easily make any drive into one of those plays. and of course, this brings in the requisite criticims of the "natural athlete." allen, though, has cultivated a game that happens to be as easy on the eye in its own way as carter's fireworks.

and for the ray-like aspect of vince. . . i'd argue that it's harder to sublimate limitless athletic power than give it free rein.

At 4/12/2006 1:04 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

shoals, i'm not sure i understand what exactly you're defending. i love both of their games, and that's why i find them so frustrating. if we were playing the "what NBA body part would you most want" game i'd probably take Ray's wrist just behind Kirilenko's arms and Shaq's, uh, well let's leave that alone...

ray is without a doubt one of the smoothest human beings i've laid eyes on, but his whole demeanor just screams "military brat." for another example of "shit you just don't do that ray does," look to earlier this year when allen was quoted in the press saying he thought the sonics should trade flip murray for earl watson. earl probably is a better fit for that team than Flip, but you don't say that shit about a teammate in the press! ray is the leader of that team, and he undoubtedly has some say on what direction the team is going. he could just as easily say something like that in private to management. why dog Flip in public?

At 4/12/2006 1:53 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

i wonder if the flip dogging has to do with ray allen getting traded from the bucks when they realized his back up (michael redd) could fill his role pretty well for less money. not saying flip's on redd's level, but when he went on a tear with allen out last year, he must've started having nightmares.

At 4/12/2006 2:10 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

their ability to get by on sheer talent is offensive to the forever-hustling Bowen.

my outpouring was in response to this. i consider allen a highly aestheticized version of a classic model. he obviously tends to the look and feel of his game, but its ultimately about undiluted basketball. vince, however, is the foremost cautionary tale of how playing ball based on athleticism alone can lead one into a faustian detour from which one's rep might never recover.

At 4/12/2006 2:33 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

gotcha. and i wasn't trying to say that allen's game is predicated on athleticism. a stroke that pure was inevitably honed at some point in his development through insane amounts of repetition. but he just seems to coast a lot of the time. for instance, at the time of “the kick” the spurs were up 11 and had controlled the game. from that point on he scored 23 points going 8-13 from the floor.

I realize that it’s not uncommon for athletes (and regular people) to get sparked by certain events. Gilbert exploded after the ASG slight, but when gilbert explodes he raises his game from great to amazing—40 instead of the nightly 30—with ray the difference is night and day. And I recognize that it’s a little unfair to use Gilbert against you like this (and also unfair to ray since no one compares to gilly) but it seems like the most appropriate comparison since they’re the two purest gunners around.

At 4/12/2006 2:37 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...


i think that's the first time i've ever heard anyone called allen a "gunner."

At 4/12/2006 3:02 PM, Anonymous TZ said...

Is it time, then, for a discussion on underachieving "greatest-SGs-of-all-time" then?

This piece and the subsequent analysis was fantastic, by the way.

At 4/12/2006 3:17 PM, Anonymous Aaron said...

How the hell can you say that calling the league office to complain is bitchier than taking it to the media?

I mean, I'm sure the media wants you to think that complaining to them is within the accepted norms of behavior. They make their money on televised controversy. But surely calling the man in charge of discipline and discussing the situation with him personally is less bitchy than taking it to the media and making a public issue out of it?

At 4/12/2006 4:00 PM, Blogger T. said...

on underachieving "greatest-SGs-of-all-time" then?

Doesn't this category begin and end with Billy Owens? Or is my obsession with him bordering on Shoals-Arenas levels?

At 4/12/2006 4:30 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

Doesn't this category begin and end with Billy Owens?

Shooting guard. He can't be considered since he could never really shoot. For my money, this category starts, middles and finishes with Isiah-Junior-J.R.-Easy Rider, though Kendall Gill might get a mention. Mark Macon?

At 4/12/2006 5:13 PM, Blogger T. said...

Actually, I went to basketball-reference and did a similarity score for JR Rider's career.

#1 most similar at age 22? Harold Minor.

I'm done.

At 4/12/2006 5:18 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

Aaron, players generally have to answer questions from the press. If Ray was frustrated he could have vented in a post game interview like players commonly do. But he waited until he got off the plane then personally called Stu. How is that not beneath an NBA player? Have you ever heard of another player calling the league to plead for another player to be fined? That's some shit younger siblings pull.

At 4/13/2006 6:42 AM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Anyone else had a deja vu on the far above mentioned Odom-Kobe play? If only Kobe could have worn thick-rimmed glasses on his 360...

At 4/13/2006 7:21 AM, Anonymous French contra said...

those guys (who lack the "desire") make me sick . Ray Allen will never be a great player, he is nothing else than a big sissy. fuck him

At 4/13/2006 8:58 AM, Blogger c-los said...

Ray Allen will never be a Great Player?????? Are you serious man....Don't let the smoothness fool you...Jesus is a great player...did he make a bitch move by calling Stu Jackson...maybe.. but im sure he's not the only one who has called Stu Jackson...y does Seattle go 33-44 this year....umm...they also lost Nate McMillan..Rashard Lewis has missed some time this year. Their big men sucked this year and their swingmen had incredible seasons in 04-05....look at what they're doin with Wilcox in the middle....they beat San An, Memphis, and Phx in the past 2 weeks

At 4/13/2006 3:19 PM, Anonymous French contra said...

Ok I meant Great player kobe-like or iverson-like or lebron-like

He had all the tools to be a Great. No kidding everyday that's the same thing "Ray Allen shot extremely well , complained about his defender's defense and the sonics either won or lose" . If he doesn't change (gets tougher or gets traded), he'll do that until the end of his career. Ok he will end up as a perennial all-star and everything but once he is retired he is going to be forgotten by nearly everyone .

His evil twin Reggie Miller is one of my favorite players . Ray Allen is a great shooter, that's all. His teamate Rashard "plays SOMETIMES like he is possessed" Lewis is much more interesting. Ray Allen is just boring.


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