Speak, internal polling data!

For eons and eons, we've been asked what exactly FreeDarko (adj.) means. There have been several attempts to answer the call through statistics, an entire vacation spent clutching at the hem of a unified theory, and plenty of reader suggestions. In the end, though, myself, DLIC, and the Recluse decided to trust in the healing power of the subconscious, putting together and pooling our respective lists to arrive at the ultimate collision.

In anticipation of the '06-07 season, and perhaps in part inspired by SLAM's ongoing list, here are the Fifty Most FreeDarko players as of right now. We leave it up to you, the audience, to figure out exactly what it values most.

1. Gilbert Arenas
2. Amare Stoudemire
3. Lamar Odom
4. Marquis Daniels
5. Ron Artest
6. Gerald Wallace
7. Tracy McGrady
8. J.R. Smith
9. Shaun Livingston
10. Kobe Bryant
11. Kevin Garnett
12. Rasheed Wallace
13. Andre Iguodala
14. Carmelo Anthony
15. LeBron James
16. Leandro Barbosa
17. Rashad McCants

18. Allen Iverson
19. Josh Smith
20. Pau Gasol
21. Raymond Felton
22. Jermaine O'Neal
23. Josh Howard
24. Sebastian Telfair
25. Caron Butler
26. Boris Diaw
27. Andray Blatche
28. Ben Wallace
29. Joe Johnson
30. Shawn Marion
31. Mickael Pietrus
32. Gerald Green
33. Bonzi Wells
34. Randy Foye

35. Ray Allen
36. Yao Ming
37. Mike "Amityville Horror" James
38. Dirk Nowitzki
39. Etan Thomas
40. Vince Carter
41. Larry Hughes
42. David Lee
43. Chris Wilcox
44. Steve Nash
45. Chris Bosh
46. Martell Webster
47. Eddie Griffin
48. Ronnie Brewer
49. Tyrus Thomas
50. Smush Parker

Oh, and these pictures? Believe I said it, these numbers sure don't lie.


At 10/05/2006 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought I understood what FreeDarko (adj.) meant. Looking through the list, I felt validated. Then (somehow overlooked on first read) I saw Lamar "Hands of Stone" Odom. In the top 10. In the top 5. Now I'm totally confused. Sure, going to the hoop, there is elegance--beauty even.

But no touch. Hands of stone.

At 10/05/2006 12:53 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Like many others, I bet, I project a lot of my own stuff on the FD adjective. I think it works okay most of the time. That being said, it's good to get quasi-clarification straight from the source.

However, get Thabo in there. Don't wait; get in before everyone else. Dude's brother's name is Kgomotso.

At 10/05/2006 12:58 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

not sure if i can, or should, explain why this turned out the way it did. in fact, i'd kind of prefer that our community of healing debate it amongst themselves. i do want to clarify, though, that thabo and many others whose names will doubtlessly get brought up were on the verge of making it. so it's not like anyone not on here is NOT freedarko, just that they don't rank in the TOp 50.

as for odom: gorgeous passer, fluid, slithering movement--and terrible touch? that juxtaposition is like the best thing about his game.

At 10/05/2006 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

jermaine "tell you how i feel" o'neal not being in the top 5 surprise me.

At 10/05/2006 1:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hold on - the site's EPONYM isn't even in the top 50?


P.S. It's a rare chance that I get to use "eponym" in all caps, no less.

At 10/05/2006 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

AI is more FD than AI? I R confused.

At 10/05/2006 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fair point. I am mollified. And, through inquiry, feel I better understand what it is to be FreeDarko. Thank you.

At 10/05/2006 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


#5 to #1?

At 10/05/2006 2:07 PM, Blogger Bret LaGree said...

It's only a matter of time until PJ Tucker aka The Man Who Will Repatriate Joey Graham cracks the list.

At 10/05/2006 2:14 PM, Blogger R.G. said...

Nothing puts a hop in my step more than seeing Glbert at the top of this list. You think Gil will get even more FD when breathing all that thin air?


At 10/05/2006 2:22 PM, Blogger raphaelkrasnow said...

I guess i am not too bright, but from looking at this list, it looks as though FreeDarko is used for those who have something to prove to the basketball world, like Darko. I mean Arenas will undoubtetly drop 50 each on mcmillan's boys and d'antonis kids due to the team usa snub. amare's got to be Amare for defenses to respect Amare this year. Odom is arguably the most talented second fiddle in the league, but everyone seems to write him off because he plays behind He Who Must Not Be Named. Marquis daniels got kicked curbside by the dallas mavericks after he languished on the bench of the most successful team in franchise history. And ronron is the craziest motherfucker in the league. Plus top tens mcgrady, j.r, livingston, and kobe all have shit to prove. someone clarify freedarko's meaning, please?

At 10/05/2006 2:43 PM, Blogger Kirk Krack said...

seriously, where's darko? you may need to rename your blog.

At 10/05/2006 2:44 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

see, i thought a core component of FreeD, indeed the very thing that distinguished FD from And1, was not style for style's sake, but style used to INTIMIDATE and DESTROY. this always suggested to me that winning was, if not paramount to FDness, at least an imagined ideal--a dreamed up world where style reigned supreme. and yet, if i'm counting correctly (and i'm probably not) there are only 3 title winners on this list (KB, Sheed and Ben).

and, yes, this is just a long-winded way of asking: why no Manu?

At 10/05/2006 2:50 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

the nba finals have nothing to do with intimidation and desctruction. everyone's too worn out by then.

dwyane wade plays every game like it's the finals. fuck that.

and manu would've been on if this were that year he wrecked shit in the 'offs.

At 10/05/2006 3:00 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

alright...just ignore that last question. the exclusion of Darko Himself is obviously a mission statement of sorts, and i can only assume the exclusion of Spurs is as well (and a pretty fair one at that).

(but does david lee alone fill the Caucasian dunker quota? actually, I guess he would).

still, Pau as the token Caucasian in the top 20? for shame, fellas, for shame. i’m kind of surprised you even included one, but Pau? AK, dirk, and Peja are ALL better choices. Come to think of it, WHERE THE FUCK IS AK-47?

At 10/05/2006 3:27 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i had ak on mine, though surprisingly late. this thing was basically put together according to gut, and when i finished shifting everything around he just wasn't that high. and at least one of the other two participants left him off entirely. I LIVE BY THE NUMBERS.

At 10/05/2006 3:33 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

clarification: each of ours did our own by gut, then a spreadsheet had the final say on who went where. there were some last second adjustments made when the recluse realized he'd forgotten mcgrady, among others, but even before that kirilenko wasn't getting a slot to call his own.

At 10/05/2006 4:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm left to wonder if Chris Anderson would've made the list.

At 10/05/2006 4:28 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm left to wonder if Chris Anderson would've made the list.

Brrr! What happened to that boy?

I'm just confused by the lack of Euros in the top 19.

And I'm not really satisfied by the bottom 10 or so.

At 10/05/2006 5:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

t - I agree. Nash? I'm a big fan, but never considered him FD. He seems too much a stats player.

At 10/05/2006 5:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surprise exclusions:

1) Awvee (he gets contact FD yearround)
2) Either Josh Childress or Salim Stoudemire (do they cancel each other out?)
3) Andris Biedrens

Thought they'd be lower:

1) Sheed
2) LBJ
3) Telfair

Thought they'd be higher:

1) Felton (thought he was top 10 material in the canon)
2) Mike James
3) Barbosa/McCants (was either top 5 on one of the individual lists?)

Fantastic use of time though. Someone fire up the printing press and get these posted to arena doors.

At 10/05/2006 5:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somehow I wouldn't have expected Vince Carter. Maybe it's because he also falls in what Brickowski called the "style for style's sake" category for me, without the character or big-picture relevance to distance himself from the likes of Paul Pierce, Richard Jefferson etc. Why did he make your list?

I also would have expected AK-47 and maybe Kaman or Nocioni. Also, my nominees for potential FreeDarko newcomers: Francisco Garcia and Kirk Snyder.

At 10/05/2006 7:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

am i the only one who is completely changing his playoff predictions based on those pictures?

At 10/05/2006 7:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really value those tiger tattoos, eh?


At 10/05/2006 8:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems that a FreeDarko player has a distinct style and flair to his game, one that any real NBA fan would recognize if shown just the silouhette, or better yet just the box score line for an individual player. In fact, there's and idea: let's show an individual stat line for a game for each player in the top 10 "Most FreeDarko" list, and see if we can match them to the player!

At 10/05/2006 8:39 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

what's funny is that I thought this was someone mocking our sacred creed--until I realized that I agree with him!

re: nash being a stat player. i wouldn't say that we're obsessed with stats, but there are certain statistical feats (triple double, 28-7-7, double digit blocks from a non-center) that really are indicators of freedarko-ness.

At 10/05/2006 9:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ty Thomas is on the list because he's potentially FD, right?

The top of the list should come as no surprise to regular readers. Andray Blatche is puzzlingly high, possibly because of the whole myspace thing?

I applaud the placement of David Lee on the list. As a Knicks fan who's watched plenty of Lee, I testify that he's about the most FD white non-Euro out there.

I agree that I'm surprised that AK-47 is missing.

At 10/05/2006 9:41 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

"potentially fd" might be the most redundant thing ever written on this site, and yet somehow manages to sum up how i feel about thomas at this point.

At 10/05/2006 11:16 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Ty Thomas: "The word 'potential' doesn't mean much to me."

I think Thomas gets an FD-boost because he's proud of his jump shot and counts Randy Livingston as a mentor.

And with regards to Livingston, he's developing kind of a wise-man rep. Is it FD to tumble through a career of lost potential and then have this sort of sage thing going on, seemingly from nowhere? And does anyone remember how good he was before he hurt himself?

At 10/05/2006 11:53 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

i'm woefully ignorant when it comes to college ball. can someone sum up foye's FD credentials for me (beside the fact that he's on DLIC's favorite team)? 'cause i personally thought brandon roy had more FD potential.

actually, i just googled and read his wikpedia page. situs inversus is enough of a qualification for me.

At 10/06/2006 12:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you guys need to put tony parker on the list. At least out of pity due to Eva Longoria cheating on him with Mario Lopez. Poor little guy. I don't think it takes a sage to see an all star season coming for him now.

At 10/06/2006 1:39 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Brickowski - I'm a huge Brandon Roy fan (being a Pac-10 junkie) but I don't think he's very FreeDarko, unless having no style is style nowadays. Playing wise, he's just efficient. Smart. Good scorer. Nothing really hidden or potential filled about him. Just solid.

Shane Battier, but offensive credentials instead of defensive ones? Right handed better Anthony Peeler? Ray Allen without the super long range or the FBP potential? I have no good comparison. (Gah, the nbadraft.net comparison is even worse. . .Jalen Rose?)

At 10/06/2006 1:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Klinks is a surprisingly good passer. you guys should give him another look.

glad to see Caron, and Pau on there.

No room for Julius Hodge and Rashard Lewis or Yao Ming?

Not so sure about Chris Bosh.

At 10/06/2006 2:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it just me or is dwyane wade not on this list and or any heat players for that matter not even the Diesel and u put rahsad McCants in there there are teams in the southeast i know you know that cuz u put Gil at no.1 get wiv it

At 10/06/2006 4:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To my mind, the FreeDarko formula seems to at least include the following ingredients: talent, craziness, underachievement, troubles with the law, and skills laced with hefty doses of self-promotion.

Just look at the photos, for Chrissakes...

At 10/06/2006 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully this answers everyone's questions, no comments on college newbies because McD's and Int'l are the only non-L games worth a watch-
LeBron-The Golden Child
McCants-Has the balls to write (and tote) poetry, ie the central concept that is FD
Bosh-Exciled to canada
Parker-Should be on, French raper, Mario Lopez, but alas a Spur

At 10/06/2006 12:28 PM, Blogger Gladhands said...

How are Carlos Aroyyo and Ricky Davis not on this list?

At 10/06/2006 12:29 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Anon 2:19am - your post begs the question, have you ever read FreeDarko before? For Shoals, Wade might be on the FreeDarko list. . .if the list made it up to 100,000. And even then, just barely.

itinerantson - Yao is on there. I agree Julius Hodge is a big miss, especially with him getting shot last season, but it is only 50 players.

WV: kclearx = Kwame Brown's new endorsement contract. Better than ProActiv

At 10/06/2006 12:57 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Stephen Jackson of the Indiana Pacers was slugged in the mouth, struck by a car and fired a gun in the air in self-defense outside a strip club, early today

This should move into the top 50, no?

(There's an interesting article in the print version of SI - not sure if it's online - by Jack McCullum about the images of the NFL and the NBA and the ability of fans to forgive the more racially balanced NFL)

At 10/06/2006 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not that I can speak with authority, but ... I would guess that 30-7-7 alone is enough to put Bron on the list. He's a Frankenstein's monster of basketball, created in a lab solely to destroy the past and herald a new epoch. You don't have to like it, but if you don't see the style, I don't know what you're watching. He has the FD task of being a prep-to-pros star who's job is to restore a previously successful but moribund small-market franchise while pondering the lure of the free agency path to a big market team--in other words, he's got narrative. He's doing all kinds of crazy things on the business side of ball. Much digital ink was spilled during the playoffs to explain the FD-ness of LBJ, e.g. http://freedarko.blogspot.com/2006/05/his-most-treasured-granite.html.

At 10/06/2006 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 12:22pm

Referring to Tony Parker as a "French raper" is like a serendipitous Scripps Howard spelling bee error. Malapropism. Truth in words misspoken. Completely explains his absence from the List of Bethlehem.

The Serge Gainsbourg of PG.

"Am I to rap what France is to Morocco? Am I:Rap::France:Morocco?" --- MC Paul Barman (previously regarded as unFD).

WV: edlbeo= Ed O'Bannon kicked out of training camp for reporting overweight.

At 10/06/2006 3:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a newcomer to FreeDarko, but found this post intriguing. I have no idea what FreeDarko means, but I'm thinking it has something to do with unrealized potential and room for improvement. Obviously, this works for the good players as well as the mediocre on the list. I mean, Gilbert said he was going to score 100 on Portland and Phoenix this year, so that's obviously improvement. Amare and McGrady are coming back from missing all or most of the season, and obviously look to return to their former selves new and improved. Pretty much everyone (for what I can see) is on the upswing and looks to improve. This is the only way I can account for having rookies and superstars on the same list.

I'm also inclined to think there is a style factor. All these guys have the handles.

I can't imagine that it's the people that are worth the most to their team, as LeBron and Kobe would be nearer the top, and Leandro Barbosa would not be above Steve and Shawn Marion. This is why I think it has to do with potential in coming years.

But really, I don't know. These are just some things I gleaned by scanning the list a couple times. I don't know WHAT the pictures are supposed to say, unless it's that NBA players have tattoos and the Wolves are all buddies.

At 10/06/2006 5:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This list blows, if only for the fact that you didn't give Toni Kukoc some emeritus status. seriously.


At 10/06/2006 6:09 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

hodge might be the only player who has been the subject of his own FD post and yet missed the cut. actually, kwame brown has probably had one at some point. such is the peril of oligarchy, i guess

At 10/07/2006 5:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know nothing about the college game, but from reading too many draft articles in the off-season, I've gotten somewhat familiar with Joakim Noah, and was wondering if he qualified as FD. French, son of a famous former tennis player, PASSED ON GUARANTEED MILLIONS (he was a projected top-5 pick, wasn't he?) to stay in school for another year for some reason.

At 10/07/2006 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PASSED ON GUARANTEED MILLIONS (he was a projected top-5 pick, wasn't he?) to stay in school for another year for some reason.

Now, the question is, does that make him more or less FD? I think getting that scrilla and a shot of the big-time is valued a bit more than alma mater loyalty in the bizarro world of FreeDarko.

Red pill/blue pill type ish. I love this blog and I think the list is certainly a better attempt at definition of FD than any sort of mission statement.

At 10/07/2006 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Noah's style really isn't very FD. Nothing about his game is that mesmorizing or good. I really don't understand why he's better than anderson varejo with the exception of being taller and having longer arms. He's tall, but really skinny and has a tiny frame so i don't see him getting any bulk in the nba.

As a UF student, i see him around campus a bunch and have had him and brewer in a couple classes throughout my career. He acts like a 15 year old, which is really weird to see since he's 7 ft. Last i saw, he was in a foot cast on campus a few weeks ago. Don't know what that was about.

At 10/09/2006 3:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I understand what FD means; Why no D-Wade or Zaza Pachulia?

At 10/09/2006 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought I knew what freedarko meant. Yet if I'm going to create a list of people describing a positive adjective concerning basketball, Shawn Marrion goes in the top ten. Not one doubt about that. Certainly he goes higher than Lamar "Fuck up" Odom.

At 10/09/2006 10:32 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

If you thought you understood FreeDarko, you'd never ever ask, why no D. Wade.

Ruminate on that.

At 10/10/2006 12:21 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

wait, did someone suggest chris kaman might be freedarko?

i'm pretty sure i had AK-47 on my list, but if i didn't, that was another oversight on my part. i mean, the man's website is in our links.

At 10/10/2006 3:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I just found this site so I guess I obviously know nothing of the Free Darko ways.

At 10/18/2006 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it comes late, but it just occured to me that Jordan Farmar cannot be exclued entirely from this conversation.

I know he seems clean-cut, but watch him go from zero-to black/jewish-FD-explosion when he gets his minutes the next couple of years and remember my words...

At 2/13/2007 6:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This may just be me, but how can LBJ be anywhere near as FreeDarko as Carmelo. James is a supurb athlete no doubt. But he is just a sculpture of a Sponsers dream. A basketball legend without a past. He has no neurosis, no relatable traits, and he only underacheives when he just doesn't give a shit. For my tastes at least, that has happend quite enough.


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