Will Sell Myself for Tickets

I managed to work myself into a tizzy discussing the demerits of Anderson Varejao over at McSweeney's today. In sum, I guess it all just amounts to using AV as an outlet for a lot of my anger over the current state of The Association. In the second round, I am simply having a serious amount of difficulty choosing one team that I unabashedly like. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Cassell, but I hated his complete refusal to play defense during his last season with the Wolves. I am philosophically against the Spurs, but I can sympathize with Shoals, who said regarding last night's game, "That was the least Duncan ever annoyed me. He went for his." Cuban, I have a love-hate relationship with. The Suns without Amare give me that same uneasy feeling I had when Death Row started focusing on Tupac rather than Snoop/Dre. Like, don't forget who got you to this point.

Perhaps this is the exact complexity of emotion I was always yammering for. No clear favorites and no clear villains or heros. I guess this is how things go when you're hometown team fails to make the playoffs, and your second favorite team (the Bulls) get yoked in the first round.

As noted a couple times on this blog, I have my worries about Flip Saunders in the playoffs. I had no idea, however, that I should be THIS worried about the "offensive mastermind's" inability to grow a pair and send LeBron sprawling to the floor. I'm not Bron-bashing here. I'm referring to the fact that he has that MJ quality to him where guys on both teams are seriously just watching him, in awe, out of respect, waiting to see what he does next...and these momentary lapses from defenders contribute to his domination. Lebron aside, though...Flip: Get that monkey off your back. Get that tie out of your throat. Stop making Kevin McHale look good. You were given a starting five fastened from the divine credence of Krishna himself. You are in danger of becoming legendary for all the wrong reasons.


At 5/18/2006 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Bulls, I just heard a tip that they might be after Marion, swapping out Deng and their first pick (maybe the first overall) for him. This would give Chicago the top 5 of Hinrich, Gordon, Red Bull (Noc), Matrix, Chandler, with another 1st round pick TBD.

The kicker: think of the Suns starting 5 which would = Nash, Bell, Deng, Diaw, Amare with Tyrus Thomas/Marcus Williams and Barbosa coming off the bench.

I guess if you're bored with the playoffs, this could be something to ponder the startling ramifications of. Otherwise, carry on.

At 5/18/2006 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I still can't see why Varejao is worthy of so much hatred. He's not responsible for his nationality and the hair is a gimmick you either like or don't like (there's worse in the NBA in my opinion). But other than that he doesn't do much to stand out. Also, a lot of the 'energy guy' PFs have had that little twist to them. The two you mentioned, Madsen has the christian counry boy thing going, Tyrone Hill just his amazing looks; then you have Rambis in all his glory, and Rodman being the prototype in every which way. If Reggie Evans adds a mohawk to his nut-twisting then he's right up there. The first exception that comes to mind is Bland Dale Davis, or actually make that both Davis's.

Anyway, it's not like Varejao invented the flop or does it much more regularly than others (for a great rebuttal to Riley's comment that the 'Euros' made the flop popular, read here: http://hoopshype.com/columns/flop_hans.htm ). What he can be criticized for in my opinion is that he's still much too foul-prone.

What he does well is setting (moving) screens, grabbing boards, running the floor, being a decent passer when the mood strikes him, helping the Cavs out defensively (something Gooden doesn't), and actually having a pretty solid handle for a big guy (he's 6'10, so I'd argue your 'undersized' label). I'd take him over Kwame in a heartbeat.

I understand that Varejao goes against the FD paradigm by standing out from the rest, but for very different reasons (being nowhere near the level of the LeBron's and Arenas's). But again, he's not responsible for the media going crazy over his hair. It's not like he's out there trying to be the main attraction.

My villain of choice still playing has to be Tim Thomas, no competition anywhere close.

At 5/18/2006 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting linkage between your concluding paragraph and All Star Superman. I'll have to give that one some further thought.

At 5/18/2006 1:25 PM, Blogger Thomas M. said...

To make a soccer analogy, Varejo over Barbosa would be like appreciating Gilberto Silva over Fred (although we would have to pretend that Silva is around 20 or so for that to work).

It is the lionizing of a player whose game is centered around cynicism and graft. Yes, every team needs those players (in soccer more so than in basketball), yet why champion them when there are players who regularly provide examples of the beauty and grace of the sport and thus, the human figure, rather than someone who specializes in the ugly hod-carrying of the world? One could argue that this is based on the more romantic notions of collectivism; however, that's a discussion for another day.

To paint a broader stroke, Varejao is like the '94 World Cup Champions, whose emblematic figures were Dunga and Romario, and who also finished off a largely forgettable tournament with a nil-nil draw with a team that they in fact closely resembled that also stands as the anti-Brazil in terms of style.

When you talk about Brazil, it all has to come back to soccer.

At 5/18/2006 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great analogy, EZ. Varejao is no Ronaldinho Gaucho, that's clear. Speaking of Ronaldinho, watching him play and getting excited about the fact that the World Cup starts in less than a month, it made me realize how there's no one in the NBA--not Lebron, not Kobe, not Arenas, not Manu--who can play with Ronaldinho's combination of crazy skills and joyful abandon. With LJ and KB you've got the mad skills, but you don't have the latter half of the combination.

At 5/18/2006 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah but Ronaldinho pulled a Jerry Stackhouse in the 2002 playoffs (i.e. choke job) during the Champions League cup match yesterday. He'll redeem himself during the World Cup, but he had nothing to do with Barca winning.

I'm with you on the AV hate. I think it all started when they let Mussberger out of the crypt to do one of the first two games (I forget which) in this Pistons-Cavs series. It was as though AV's flowing hair was all that the senile Mussberger could fixate upon.

At 5/18/2006 6:49 PM, Blogger Thomas M. said...

I wouldn't say that he had nothing to do with it. Larsson et al. weren't going to get the space and time that they did without the Arsenal defense keying on Ronaldinho.

He did have a pretty poor game though, especially by his standards. As Dirk said last night "that's basketball".

At 5/18/2006 7:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah Dinho played like crap yesterday, but he was still the best player on the pitch. On a normal day he would have made about 4 of those free kicks. I was shocked everytime he missed, those are usually money in the bank.

As for Verejao, dude is very talented, and is the Cavs frontcourt player of the future. I compare him favorably to Jermaine O'Neal. He needs to develop a go-to post move, and work on staying out of foul trouble--but aside from that, he's got astounding handles for a guy who is really 6-11(not sure where undersized came from, he's possibly a center if he continues to bulk up). He's got range up to 18 feet. He's a pretty gifted passer for a man his size. Very quick feet, and an intiutive feel for where the ball will be before it gets there. He plays the game two steps ahead of most other players. He's the only player on the Cavs who is truly on the same page as Lebron James--even though it may be a translation--he's the guy on the team who plays the game most like James mentally.

The Cavs will deal Gooden in the offseason (sign and trade) probably to either the Bulls or Suns for either Barbosa or Duhon and start Andy next year. And it's very possible that he makes the all-star team next year if that happens. The power forward position on a team with Lebron James is the most blessed position in basketball. It's harder not to average a double double in that spot, than it is to. Lebron made Boozer an olympian, he'll make Verejao a star.

As an aside to that, I feel bad for Drew Gooden, he's a really good player, who nobody ever really likes.

At 5/18/2006 7:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that i know how to pronounce varejo's name, can anyone help me out with my hero boris diaw's name? I've heard dee-ow, dee-ah, jaw, and a few others. I'd like to know before i committ myself any further.

About gooden. The man has a bad case of stromile swift syndrome. He's dumb. He put up decent numbers and rebounded pretty well in orland before they basically gave him away for battie because he couldn't understand any system offensively or defensively. He's athletic and can gather plenty of boards, but he is absent minded and will forget to box out sometimes, forget to switch, incorrectly run offensive plays, stay in the lane too long, make dumb fouls, be in the wrong spot on defense, etc... Gooden and Slowmile have all the althetic tools, but just can't get the mental game down. I remember hearing other people talk about these 2 guys in the same light as i am before too. Same with the Slowmile reference, i think it was a coach or player in vancouver/memphis.

At 5/18/2006 8:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know that it's fair to lump Gooden in with Swift though. Because he does try to do the right thing. He was asked by the Cavs in his contract year to focus just on his rebounding and defense, and basically have no offensive plays ran for him, and he accepte the role, and at times flourished into it. He's a prolific rebounder at times. There are times watching him where you feel given the minutes he could lead the league in rebounding.

But as you said, if the defense breaks down, 9 times out of 10 it's Drew's fault. But Carlos Boozer had these same failings. But because of his duke background, people see him as a heady player. Where his defense is actually worse than Gooden's.

I dunno. I just don't think Drew has been given a fair shake yet in the league. And the first team to do it, could get a lot of mileage out of him. I think both Chicago and Phoenix could really uncover a diamond if they choose to pursue him.

He would seem to be a D'Antoni player of the purest mold.

At 5/18/2006 9:10 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

I have two things to say

1) Stop hating on Varajao. For Bron to reach his full potential, it is absolutely imperative that he be surrounded by artisans rather than artists so that his full glory comes through in the contrast.

2) It warms me to the tips of my toes to see this discussion turned where it must, to the Samba Boys and wondering whether there is in fact an NBA equivalent of Ronaldinho - it would be like putting Hot Sauce in an NBA game and him still killing. At risk of commiting FreeDarkoside, I'd say that Wade might be the closest in terms of the package.

At 5/18/2006 10:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it points to some of the limitations of the creative expression of basketball vs. soccer that there is really no, nor has there ever been, a Ronaldinho-like player in basketball.

The imagination in a dunk pales in comparison to the otherworldness of a well shot volley or freekick. And the dribbling tricks in soccer break reality far more often than basketball's great dribbling. Plus soccer is more free flowing than roundball.

I believe there are some great Eric Cantona quotes about soccer as art. He openly acknowledged that he treated the pitch as a canvas. To him the sport was an art unmatched in other forms because of it's spontenaety.

I don't think basketball has reached it's proper level of pretention. Though maybe if more people read FD we could get somewhere.

At the end of the day, that you won is cool, but what we really watch these sports for, is HOW you won. Which I don't think is the case in american football(the no fun league) and baseball(which I think the fantasy league junkies have effectively ended as an art, and began as a science).

At 5/19/2006 1:42 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I think it points to some of the limitations of the creative expression of basketball vs. soccer that there is really no, nor has there ever been, a Ronaldinho-like player in basketball.

A. 'Pistol' Pete Maravich

B. Earvin 'Magic' Johnson

At 5/19/2006 7:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Magic had the joy, but even his creativity pails in comparison to that of Ronaldinho--and I would say Magic's joy and Dinho's are diffrent. Dinho truly seems like a god-like child, a complete innocent. There is no taint to his skill. Magic had his evils. He had moments where he wasn't smiling, where he was Jordan-like in his hatred. Dinho doesn't hate anyone. His game is love.

As for Pistol Pete, even his most creative tricks fail to measure up to the otherworldness of some of the moves Dinho does with a soccer ball. It may have something to do with the fact that playing with one's feet is a more difficult skill than using ones hands.

Having played both sports, I always thought Basketball was definitely about styling and profiling so to say. But soccer was more about an honest expression of innermost being--that the body of work you could leave on the pitch was of a tougher medium--a higher art.

At 5/19/2006 9:31 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I guess I don't get enough La Liga highlights (or more accurately don't watch enough) - its tough to keep up with football highlights especially in with League Pass and somewhat of a social life, football highlights are amongst the first thing to go. Plus there's a heck of a lot more of EPL on tv.

That being said, I think there's also a case to be made for possessions being more valuable in basketball - and also those possessions being timed. If you spent your attacking possessions trying to nutmeg or trying to play keep-away from two players - well, you'd be sitting down next to Van Gundy real quick. I think it's just the difference in the games. I have no doubt - given more time and reducing the import of "getting a good shot with every possession" a guy like Skip or Jason Williams couldn't approach little Ronaldo's playfulness with the ball.

At 5/19/2006 1:09 PM, Blogger Thomas M. said...

I think it's silly to say that such and such is "the Ronaldinho of basketball" when there isn't another player who's comparable to the man in the world of soccer. It's like finding the Shaq of soccer or hockey, we're dealing with such special individuals that we're never going to get a satisfying comparison.

My co-worker who understands other sports through the prism of basketball refers to Ronaldinho as "Michael Jordan", not because there's any similarities between their games; rather, it's because they were both the best player on the world in their respective sports.

At 5/19/2006 6:11 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

When you say 'comaparable' are you talking 'goodness' or 'entertainment value' - I feel you can make a decent case for several other players as far as 'goodness' - contributions to victory. (Henry, Zidane about 2 years ago, Ballack, perhaps Lampard or Gerrard, etc.) and there are players who are pretty high on entertainment value - (C. Ronaldo, pick a winger from La Liga, Rivaldo circa '02 [who was more impressive in a way since his right leg was essentially a prop and nothing more])

But no one combines the two with any thing approaching the regularity of Ronaldinho..

At 5/19/2006 6:39 PM, Blogger Thomas M. said...

I mean comparable in the sense that you could say "yeah, that guy's Ronaldinho". He's a unique combination of skill and personality and probably the most "special" player since Maradona, and that's with much love to Zizou (who is the only player out of that list that I would put on the same level as Ronaldinho, at least so far).


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