NBA Playoff Race War Semiotics: Part 2

Today, we journey West, as both our Asian and Jewish forebears have done in years past. I should note here that we chose to wait until the Playoffs for this racial review because only the highest achieving teams in the Association could possibly be considered either Asian or Jewish. If you're just tuning in, either scroll down or click here for Part 1. Also, be sure to check out our playoff coverage over at Deadspin over the next month.

[Also, thanks to T. for the amazing Juwan Howard picture.]

Dallas Mavericks

Bethlehem Shoals: Few things are as pronounced in post-war German culture as guilt over the Shoah. Lots of fervent Christians, especially those in Texas, have a strange obsession with living, breathing Jews. They like to touch them and marvel that their ancestors live in the Bible. Between their Deep South zealot coach and a star who's the equivalent of German liberalism, the Mavs are obviously going to be Jew-friendly. In fact, they've said I can run practice during the Finals.

Brown Recluse, Esq.: As a Japanese-American, it pains me to acknowledge that there are an awful lot of similarities between Germany and Japan. They both tried to take over the world, hate immigrants, and manufacture high-quality automobiles. Dirk's way too tall to be Japanese, but otherwise, he fits the bill. He doesn't want to stand out too much from his teammates, and he has that little goatee like Pat Morita. Also, Devin Harris is Chinese, Desagana Diop is Korean, and Josh Howard is Vietnamese.

Phoenix Suns

BS: The Suns might be my favorite basketball team ever. I never enjoy watching them—instead, I bemoan the fact that the game will soon end, some other team will grace the screen, and things will be lacking. They make me hate my life, curse my family, and wallow in my own woeful inadequacy. In short, the effect they have on my NBA experience reinforces three of the most Jewish traits imaginable: self-doubt, complaining, and comic melancholy.

BR: Well, after reading Shoals's paragraph about the Suns, I'm convinced that he's Jewish, but the Phoenix Suns are clearly Asian. Steve Nash is a given: soft-spoken, humble, and works incredibly hard on his game and conditioning. But, it's the team as a whole that really embodies Asian values. Amare is only one extra letter away from "amae," a Japanese word meaning "indulgent dependence". Nash indulges his teammates with his incredible passing skills, and they in turn are dependent on him in order to amass their huge scoring totals. Much is made of how Marion is incapable of creating his own shot, and you can bet the Suns players truly appreciate the open looks Nash gets them on the perimeter.

San Antonio Spurs

After three seasons of very public effort, I will now admit that I cannot rationally explain my dislike of the Spurs. It's part aesthetics, part affect, part history and part highly personal truth. . . and yet, it isn't really any of these. So it is with this the construct called "Jewish identity." There's a bit of genetics, a religious canon, certain cultural values, and yes, some shrill delusion. And yet somehow no combination of these seems adequate. Thus, for making me better understand the elusive nature of Jewish identity, I claim the Spurs as my own.

BR: This may sound weird, but Tim Duncan has always reminded me a lot of my half-Korean cousin (wait, wasn't that the play Lincoln was watching when he got got?). They're both tall, have round faces, married white girls, and most importantly, have a quietly devious personality. Duncan's deviousness has been obscured because his game is all old-school fundamentals, causing the media to inaccurately label Duncan the individual as stoic and wholesome. Indeed, his Chinese fans call him the "Stone Buddha". In reality, Duncan is more similar to Sun Wukong, the Chinese Monkey King, who liked to play pranks and acheived greatness through craftiness.

Utah Jazz

BS: Um, no.

BR: Asian-American scholar Claire Jean Kim has developed a theory stating that Asian-Americans have been "racially triangulated" (figures the shit sound like a geometry proof) in relation to the black/white racial dichotomy. While whites are seen as the dominant "superior" group, blacks are perceived as "inferior" and stereotyped as lazy and unintelligent. Asians are positioned between the two groups, stereotyped as smart and hardworking, yet too foreign to gain entry into the dominant white culture. Although the Jazz don't have any Asian players, their two best players are both biracial, themselves positioned between black and white, perpetual outsiders. Add in the fact that they're obedient and hard-working, and we've got ourselves some honorary Asians in Carlos and Deron.

Houston Rockets

BS: Ground zero for the conflict. Let me break down a few things for you, though: Yao is too tall for an Asian. Those uniforms don't look like China, they look like an upscale Chinese restaurant. Chinese food in this country would be nothing without the Jews' patronage. McGrady may be mellow and all, but he's got a nagging back problem and has even dabbled in psychotherapy. With a void opening up where once an honorable pagoda stood, Van Gundy (duh) and Juwan Howard come rushing in. If Caron Butler is Korean, Juwan is most definitely a Jew. And not just because of the name.

BR: For those keeping score, there are zero Jews in the NBA (Jordan Farmar doesn't count) and one Asian. Far from being a token, Yao is the most dominant big man in the game, and his presence alone makes the Rockets unequivocally Asian. Also, as explained earlier, all biracial players are Asian, so Shane Battier counts, too. And please, Juwan Howard is Asian, because of the name and because he spent his rookie year in the NBA writing term papers on the team plane so he could graduate with his class. That's the most Asian shit I've ever heard.

Denver Nuggets

BS: They may lead the league in Asian ink, but that's about it. I spent the first four decades of my life thinking George Karl was Jewish, and why wouldn't Larry Brown's sidekick count? Plus a team whose very success depends on psychological, rather than physical, fits well with the Jewish agenda. We invented the only kind of psychology that works, are preoccupied with taking part in it, and are physically deficient in all ways but one.

BR: George Karl isn't a Jew, he's a fucking Asian guru. He's bald, lives on top of a mountain, and teaches young men the meaning of life. Witness this quotation from last January: "It's my Chinese fortune cookie. The year of the rabbit. The year of the cat. It's the year of the Nuggets. Forget about last year. Let's learn from what happened last year. Let's move on to 2006 and have a great 2006."

Los Angeles Lakers:

BS: Los Angeles may belong equally to both peoples. Their flagship sports franchise, not so much so. Exhibit A: Kobe Bean Bryant. In case you forgot, he wouldn't mind being Jewish and feels for the plight of the Israelites. In case you didn't click on that second one, Kobe and many other Lakers are unquestioned friends of Elie Seckbach. Yeah, I see Phil Jackson and his Buddhist awakening. Let's be real, though—what's more Jewish than grown men having Buddhist awakenings? One hour later: I only just now remembered Jordan Farmar.

BR: The Lakers are so goddamn Asian, I don't even know where to start. Head coach Phil Jackson is a Buddhist, Kobe is a city in Japan, Luke Walton's stepmother is Asian, I could go on and on. But, the real Asianness comes from Kobe's inner struggle. Blessed with natural talent and possessing a strong work ethic, he has tried in recent seasons to be a more selfless player , but has found it difficult to dampen his extreme drive to be the best. I'm not denying that Bean Thousand is often obnoxiously arrogant, but every once in a while, you get the sense that he's the high school valedictorian who wishes he could just blow off violin lessons and hang out with the regular kids. Totally Asian.

Golden State Warriors

BS: I'll have to settle for a consolation prize on this one. They're definitely Asian, but there's no way they're as Asian as the Recluse thinks they are. I'm sure this team leads the league in mildly offensive jokes about egg rolls, and last I checked, they'd yet to promote Yuta Tabuse up from their NBDL affiliate.

BR: This one is too easy. Golden State = Yellow State. Over.


At 4/19/2007 5:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before the real responses to this post start (to which unfortunately I have nothing to add), I just wanted to say that I'm really intrigued by every first round series except Detroit-Orlando. Dwight Howard alone doesn't do it, and Darko just went down with a sprained ankle. So I won't watch Det-Orl, even though this guy is involved:


At 4/19/2007 8:29 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

while turkey is the original asia (the ancient asia minor), it has been trying to join the european union for decades now, thus relinquishing their asian privileges.

At 4/19/2007 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I honestly have no idea what this post is about.

At 4/19/2007 9:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My brother's best friend recently returned from a high school exchange trip to Germany. The third thing out of his mouth was "So... did you know that the Germans hate Turkey?"

I was speechless for a bit, just like I was after reading these two FD posts.

WV: fdwxhz - Free Darko, WHAT U NBA HAxORZ!

At 4/19/2007 9:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The selection of pictures for this post were just stunning. That, and the writing made me smile. Good work.

While the future might be Asian, the roots of the NBA will always be Jewish. House of David!

At 4/19/2007 10:10 AM, Blogger badly drawn boykins said...

To add to the Mavs' Asianness, Eric Dampier is the gifted Asian guy who slacks off because can't deal with the weight of his own talents or parental pressure. Jason Terry could pass for Japanese. Avery Johnson is the little old lady on Canal Street who yells at you in Cantonese.

And I've always thought of Jerry Sloan as the Pei Mei-style martial arts master who will beat you with a kendo stick until you have mastered the way of the Stockton-ryu pick-and-roll. Oh, and they had a lot of those Japanese interment camps in Utah.

WV: hoipywpr = hoi polloi, your work permit is rejected

At 4/19/2007 10:21 AM, Blogger El Guapo said...

"WV: hoipywpr = hoi polloi, your work permit is rejected"
"WV: fdwxhz - Free Darko, WHAT U NBA HAxORZ!"

Okay, I give up. I missed Blog Commenting 101. Someone please explain to me / link me to an explanation of what these things are/mean. Thank you for your indulgence.

Kobe is Asian. But the Lakers tip based on who Phil goes to. I know he's the Zen Master, but jeez for some reason I can't not think of him as Jewish. Maybe it's the ex-Knick factor (easily the most Jewish team in the league).

At 4/19/2007 10:29 AM, Blogger Joey said...

I'd just like to point out a curious paradox about the Mavs that seems applicable: The owner is Jewish and is likely the most internets-friendly owner in the League. There are all kinds of Jews and Asians on these interwebs, and the whole "internet" thing calls to mind media and technology, which, of course, are precincts of Jews and Asians.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Mavericks' best player has told Sports Illustrated that he doesn't use the internet but to check email, seemingly content to reject certain techno-connections to both Jews and Asians and retreat into some kind of Germanic Luddite utopia.

I don't know what this means, but it seemed relevant.

Also relevant: Shouldn't you guys by directing people to the Wu-Tang song "Never Again," off the Swarm album? No prominent rappers could be more Asian and the entire song is about the Holocaust. Just look at the lyrics!

At 4/19/2007 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could read Shoals and Recluse claiming shit all day. Ya'll are the new Kornheiser and Wilbon. Have you thought about expanding the format to other areas? Movies, art and music could be equally up for grabs.

San Antonio can hardly be considered Jewish or Asian, but off the top of my head there are two factors worth considering:

1. Duncan collects samurai swords and is an avid video gamer.

2. The HEB near my apartment is close to the JCC and is considered to have the best Kosher selection in town. A few weeks back I rolled through just before midnight. The store was all but empty. I turned the corner to the soap/toothpaste aisle, saw a lone figure at the end of the aisle, and without even looking at him I instantly knew it was PJ Carlisimo...wearing shorts and flip flops.

At 4/19/2007 11:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to agree with Brickowski's first paragraph. If they replaced PTI with half an hour of you two arguing whether things are Jewish or Asian, I wouldn't want to miss an episode.

Also, I love the pics. Where the hell do you find this shit?

At 4/19/2007 11:58 AM, Blogger evan said...

Addendum to Semiotics Debate East!!!

The Wizzzz are officially Jewish. Ask Cal Booth's attire:

Thanks to the bog.

nerd up!

phoenix is jewish, like vegas cause we settled it and it's hot enough to complain about the heat constantly. fuck what you know, dry heat is nonsense, humidity is where i thrive.

At 4/19/2007 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say that I hate this. It almost reads like a caricature of a freedarko post. You guys have descended to the level of self parody. There's nothing wrong with talking honestly about issues of race and culture and how they relate to society at large. There's also something to be said for not paying attention to the P.C. police who are always on the lookout for anything that could be construed as racist or offensive.

But there's something about this post that just makes my stomach crawl. The fixation on which teams most embody "Jewish" or "Asian" traits, what's the point? Seriously? You guys have done great work in the past, but this is just an incomprehensible mess.

At 4/19/2007 12:07 PM, Blogger evan said...

so no one here is meeting your lofty, anonymous expectations for a post?

if you understood FD, then you would get how FD it is to parody your own core values through hyper magnification of something seemingly irrelevant.

i think our friend may be a disgruntled turk.

At 4/19/2007 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as BR's comments about Farmar pain me, I can't really argue them. This sucks. I pinned all my hopes on Farmar as the next Danny Schayes, but it hasn't really panned out yet. Give him a couple years and we'll see.

I'm also a bit upset about Shoals's incredibly weak attempt at claiming the Suns. Nash is the short, floppy-haired white kid who never stops running. Sounds like a Jew to me. And the complicated Colangelo father-son relationship that drove the team to success is the very definition of the Jewish father-son relationship, that bittersweet mixture of pride and disappointment. I can't argue the Amare business- that's some clever shit, BR. But I can't believe Shoals didn't even try to claim Nash.

At 4/19/2007 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if this supports or undermines the Asianness of the Suns, but Shawn Marion tried to have "The Matrix" tattooed on his leg in Chinese characters but actually got "Demon Bird Moth Balls."


At 4/19/2007 1:09 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

marion's tattoo and all other kanji tattoos undermine the respective player's asianness. that's why i didn't mention it.

At 4/19/2007 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wait, shoals is over 40?

At 4/19/2007 4:08 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...


At 4/19/2007 5:31 PM, Blogger The Lord Humongous said...

Good point re: the Wu, Joey--also note that the Killa Beez have a song called Bar Mitzvah.

Didn't the Knicks convert to gentile status when they started paying retail prices for players? Oh, lighten up everybody.

At 4/19/2007 6:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

torgo--you mean,
"House of David in the house!" (is there a rhetorical term for that?)

At 4/19/2007 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Before the real responses to this post start (to which unfortunately I have nothing to add), I just wanted to say that I'm really intrigued by every first round series except Detroit-Orlando. Dwight Howard alone doesn't do it, and Darko just went down with a sprained ankle. So I won't watch Det-Orl, even though this guy is involved:"

you're more intrigued by the washington-cleveland matchup than orl-det???? wow

At 4/19/2007 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you guys go one round on the bubble teams? I mostly just want to hear which side the Clippers belong to.

At 4/19/2007 11:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Um, no" for the Jazz? That's it? Is there something obvious I'm missing, Shoals, or are they just beneath your consideration?

At 4/20/2007 2:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think pretty much every team is asian.

At 4/20/2007 3:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

weeeeeeeeeeeeak... just thought i should mention.

At 4/20/2007 5:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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u suckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

At 4/20/2007 5:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why everything is jewish on this b log? whats ur deal? ur mama didnt hug u while u r growing up?

At 4/20/2007 5:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 5:06, of course not. Don't you realize our Jewish mothers didn't hug us? They gave us cash and convertibles. We know you're jealous...

At 4/20/2007 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shoals is over 40?

Grad school 4 life?

At 4/20/2007 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How dare you strip Farmar of his jewishness. I ask you, could a goy do this?



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