The New Racism

[NOTE: Read Shoals BELOW!!! He is the entire left hemisphere. I am the pons medulla.]

Ok, I finally caved to the anonymous commentors, the non-anonymous commentors, and my own sense of self-doubt: I'm issuing somewhat of a response as to what we here at FD stand for. Which is, in short, many things. I know I haven't been posting much lately , but I did emit this small nugget of praise in a post a couple weeks ago:

I kind of like the Spurs this year. That's all. They seem moodier, in a machismo way or something.

So, I want to have it both ways. First of all, I want to say that we've been hating on the Spurs for years, way before it was trendy (get at us, Paul Shirley). We recognized and have documented every instance of hateful action by San Antonio, including posting this wordless jeremiad when they acquired Finley a couple of years ago. The second point I want to make--in direct opposition to the first--is that we here at FD don't share a uniform view on the Spurs (and even have a certified Devil's Advocate, Brickowski, still on staff), and this year, I have some serious LIKE for the Spurs.

I still hate Ginobili, Parker, and Bowen...think Popovich is a smug b!tch...think the Amare/Diaw suspension was the worst thing to happen to the NBA since Jordan joined the Wizards...and hope the Spurs lose every single time they play. HOWEVER, let's get some perspective here:

--Can we really hate on Tim Duncan at this point? Sure, when his bank shot was methodical and his putbacks were the result of Parker/Ginobili's quickness & craziness drawing shotblockers away from boxing him out. But this whole Kurt Thomas situation has shed some real light on Duncan's game. Dude (Duncan) is making shots with KT draped all over him, really getting him (Duncan) out of his comfort zone, to the point where Duncan has become more serpentine, less cardboard box-house in his movement. Additionally, and as will be discussed in depth in the forthcoming Freedarko book, WINNING IS STYLE. Duncan wins.

--The Spurs have a bunch of players that are not only hard to hate on, but are old favorites. Michael Finley is real Chicago, plus the Most Grizzled UnGrizzled. Before the playoffs, I could have sworn he was dead, but what he has done in the postseason is delivered those "fuck you" shots that the Spurs were never really capable of doing (ok, fine, Bowen got one of those in the other night). Jackie Butler is criminally underrated as a key tough guy, who could probably be a "missing piece to a championship" for a team like the Rockets or maybe even the Mavericks. Melvin Ely is the center that every other team thought they were "too good for." In his heart of heart of hearts, he knows he's a Bobcat 4 LYFE and his pudginess gives him an endearing quality.


And screw it, let's talk about Robert Horry. Robert Horry ruined my life and probably yours as well. Those post-hipcheck quotes probably infuriated all of us to a certain degree, as they twisted the dagger in the wound that already was Amare/Diaw's suspension. The way he laughed the whole thing off and called St. Nash a "flopper" was totally crass. However, you had to love the assholishness of him saying that he was an "old school guy," and back in his day the shove would not have been any big deal. This is EXACTLY what the Spurs have been missing. Their most hated quality is that they try to pretend they're not assholes when they actually are (Bowen, Popovich). Horry is too old for that. He's been in the trenches. Horry IS the Straight Talk Express.***

So tonight I'll be cheering for the Suns and with full knowledge that if the Spurs win, Evil still rules and the Cicada plague celebrates their reign. Yet I will also try to understand the complexity of this evil, realizing that there are many sides to a octagonally spiked mace.

***to take the McCain/Horry analogy one step further, dude is on the darkside but kind of knows what the fuck is up.


At 5/18/2007 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long time Spur fan from San Antonio here. When the Spurs got James White I was like... Okay, who's that. The only thing I have even heard about him is that his teammates on the Spurs are totally blown away with his talent and abilities.

This four minute highlight video is nothing short of amazing. WOW! I had no idea. It looks like he could launch from the free throw line for a dunk in his sleep.
Damn I hope he get a chance to exhibit some of his skills on the court before he goes on to another team, but I know that sort of flashiness is not what impresses Pop. I know this much... if the home crowd saw him do that shit in a game just one time, he would become an instant fan favorite.

He may be happy to be on a contender's roster, but I'll bet he would rather be wowing the fans somewhere where he could be a star.
Anyone agree?

At 5/18/2007 7:56 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 5/18/2007 8:06 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Nice blogspam on that Finley link.

I am glad to see the Spurs somewhat embracing their evilness. The whole "good guys wear black" nonsense doesn't wash anymore and I think they know it. An interesting sidebar is that if the Suns had been able to pull off that last game then the Horry foul on Nash could very well have been the last play of his career.

At 5/18/2007 8:10 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

i don't agree, she said, i think white would rather sit on the bench than be a star.

At 5/18/2007 8:13 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

Love it. More than I could ask for.

Sometime in 2005, moved by the constant hate heaped on them by the internets, I started hoping the Spurs would just embrace villainy and become the equivalent of an awesome bad guy wrestler. With this series, I think they’ve almost done just that. This is probably my favorite Spurs team since Young Manu and S. Jackson were toppling the Lakers in ’03. Duncan is still the best player on the planet, and Manu is still Manu (stupid shit followed by game saving plays), but Horry and Finley are the heart and soul of this team. They’ve caused me to realize that the common thread linking Spur title teams is the presence of gully black vets: Mario Elie and Avery in ’99, Kevin Willis and Stephen Jackson (and yes, I realize he was only 25 at the time) in 2003, and Horry, Massenburg and Big Dog in 2005.

But I’m unsure if that makes the 2007 Spurs the basketball version of this, or this.

I’d prefer the former, but I’m leaning towards the latter.

As a sidenote, if you don’t think Stern is sending Bavetta to San Antonio tonight, then you ain't following this league closely enough.

At 5/18/2007 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are San Antonio and Detroit the ancien regime of professional basketball?

At 5/18/2007 9:40 PM, Blogger maxooo said...

as much as I hate the spurs, if they win this year, james white gets a ring. that's amazing.

At 5/18/2007 11:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yee-haw! Another fuckin' Spurs-Pistons Finals! I'm so giddy with anticipation that I almost wet myself!

At 5/19/2007 12:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sitting here watching the fourth quarter of this susns/spurs game six that I have watched from the onset. I am so sick of watching D'antoni over react to the calls by the officials.
What kind of message does that send to the players if the coach is still flailing his arms and cursing over a call that happened three possesions ago?

At 5/19/2007 12:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just so there is no misunderstanding, THE FOLLOWING IS NOT SARCASM:

The Spurs are fantastic. I love them, and I am so happy that they are going to advance to the conference finals. GO SPURS GO.

So sorry FD nation.

At 5/19/2007 12:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sucks to be You: Yeah, it must feel good winning because of a bloody nose, bad officiating, and a cheap shot. Congratulations! Nobody else likes your team.

At 5/19/2007 12:30 AM, Blogger Ben Q. Rock said...

R.I.P. 2007 NBA playoffs.

At 5/19/2007 12:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this series has warped some minds. People forget that EVERYONE looks like they might be fun when they play the Suns. Hell, the Nets and the Suns gave us that great 300 point 3OT game earlier in the season. Did the Nets look like the same team during their series with the Cavs? No, they still averaged 85-ish points and made the halftime crew reluctant to share the Eastern conference highlights. Now that the Spurs have bloodied, cheap-shotted and hand-checked their way to the conference finals, it's gonna be back to the same old Spurs.

At 5/19/2007 12:35 AM, Blogger bob said...

"What kind of message does that send to the players if the coach is still flailing his arms and cursing over a call that happened three possesions ago?"

Who cares?

At 5/19/2007 12:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the story here is that the Utah Jazz own the Detroit Pistons.

At 5/19/2007 12:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BenQRock: "R.I.P. 2007 NBA playoffs."

(Crying softly)

At 5/19/2007 12:41 AM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

This is not saying it decided the game or anything, so don't get pissed, but: Can't the refs start calling it when someone steals the tap? Or at least just remove the rule, because it happens every jump ball. Every one.

Mini-rant aside, at least that was a real game. San An's run was just a hair bigger, or should I say they managed just a few saving buckets while the Suns were making theirs. It's too bad the rest of the events led to this game deciding it; we could have potentially seen more games like this.

At 5/19/2007 12:49 AM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Okay, this actually warrants some discussion: In response to some question along the lines of, "What's next for the Suns?" Greg Anthony said something along the lines of, "Suns need to change their philosophy, because it's been proven that it's only going to get them so far."

Tonight I saw a team that was at its toughest when it went total breakneck. I don't believe anything's been proven. But the comment made me think all meta about what is the proof of a "best way" in hoop.

At 5/19/2007 12:57 AM, Blogger bob said...

Another point warranting discussion: Greg Anthony being so fucking rosy about the rest of the playoffs. I bet he's first in line at payroll every Friday in Bristol.

Where the fuck was Charles?

At 5/19/2007 1:09 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

All I can say is, go Utah. If I have to watch my pistons play T-Dunc, I'll cry (assuming they beat the Cavs). At least if Utah gets through and Detroit play them, I can admire Kirilenko's hair. (the pistons aren't really mine, I just had an Isiah t-shirt as an eleven year old and feel I should follow them for history's sake, and the fact that I just don't have any affiliation with the other three teams. Hell, I don't even like watching the Pistons unless Tayshaun does his wobbly gangly shit or Sheed is wearing the red AF1s)

At 5/19/2007 1:13 AM, Blogger Brickowski said...

Completely agree, SB. They were phenomenal when they went all out. I think Barbosa especially embodies this. Early tonight he looked like he was going to get on track for the first time this series. I was legitimately afraid.

But then they just seem to go through periods where even they don't fully believe that fast, cheap and out of control can ever really prevail. I wonder if they can get past that. I mean, D'Antoni and Nash have been preaching this gospel for years now, and they're still having these moments of doubt. I think it goes back to Shoals' post about identity.

Does diverging from what they do best and suddenly playing Kurt Thomas play into this? I'm wondering if it's similar to what Dallas went through when Avery went small in Game 1 against the Warriors. Matching physicality is another problem, because even if they can avoid the Spurs next year someone else will get physical with them. ESPECIALLY after seeing how it affected them this series.

At 5/19/2007 1:27 AM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Kurt Thomas played the fastest ball in the NC2A with Billy Tubbs at TCU. 95 shots a game or you run more in tomorrow's practice.

He may not be physically up to it anymore, but the philosophy is in him. When D'Ant picks the hymn, he hears what the words mean, rather than just singing them. I don't think it's him.

Barbosa's double zig-zag cut down the lane should have driven his own hips out of socket, but despite his insane speed, sometimes I wonder if he gets the whole point of what his team does. When Nash is out and he runs the point, everything sort of contracts. The usual giant swaths of space in the Suns offense seem to disappear.

At 5/19/2007 1:32 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

"...but despite his insane speed, sometimes I wonder if he gets the whole point of what his team does"

I totally agree, SB, I always thought it was just me thinking that with those big eyes and him slashing all over the place that there was a bewildered puppy sort of vibe to him, like he was putting his paw up to shake hands with you, but saw only the treat that was to be bestowed, rather than a full comprehension of the act being somewhat amazing, and deserving of the treat... or am I talking shit?

At 5/19/2007 1:32 AM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Anyone feel a touch of the clinical depression watching JVG uncomfortably squashed into the announcer's desk, trying to put together coherent analysis but unable to mask the note of coldness in his voice?

At 5/19/2007 2:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was secretly hoping a shot of JVG would sync up with the "Rockets Fire Jeff Van Gundy" newsline bottom of the screen. OT: but does Lebron cake walking to the ECF count on his resume?

At 5/19/2007 3:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. JVG is a bad ass

2. Duncan is too

3. Hopefully the Suns trade Amare this summer so he can finally flourish as more than a pick and roll dunker. Nash is holding him back more than he did Dirk.

At 5/19/2007 3:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm actually OK with the Suns losing. Horry was talking about coming back another year because he didn't want that push to be the final thing he was known for. Don't worry, Big Shot, i'm sure you'll have plenty of opportunities now to make sure the favored team wins the finals and that no new blood gets recognized. But this better be the last freaking time. What i'm saying is, as long as Robert Horry finally retires, good can be had from the Spurs winning again.

At 5/19/2007 9:49 AM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

I'm all for the phrase "James White, World Champion," but isn't it tainted a bit by the fact that he's playing a team/coach that will never play him because he's way too "wrong way." And even if they did play him, he'd have to Popovich his game to earn it. That's what really upsets me about the Spurs: the way they make legitimately exciting players like Manu and Parker go system.

At 5/19/2007 10:29 AM, Blogger Cameron said...

Duncan was astonishingly good; Bruce Bowen was mugging Steve Nash constantly. I know FD is no NFL fan, but this kind of reminds me of the Colts consistently failing against the Patriots for years and years in the playoffs as their high powered offense was shut down by corners mugging their receivers...

At 5/19/2007 11:10 AM, Blogger Colonel D. Williams (Ret.) said...

I don't know if Pop tries to hide his asholishiness. His contempt for the media has its own Steven Wright moments of twisted hilarity. He would rather be in his wine cellar making wine "the right way" or something like that. However, even his wine company has the most boring name of all time "A to Z".

Bowen does try to hide his behavior. Would anyone laugh if they learned he went back to school at night to get a Masters in Public Relations? He wants to be admired but his game obviously puts him in a negative light. Nonetheless, he has an interesting backstory in getting to the league, especially in HS when he would call college scouts posing as a coach praising the the unsung skills of some kid named Bowen.

Of any of Pop's platoon, Bowen might be the first to go John Rambo on somebody. "They drew first blood, not me..."

At 5/19/2007 11:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see how you can imply that Manu and TP aren't exciting players. Manu has one of the two most unbelievable finishes of these playoffs (and did you see him go HIGH off the glass last night?). And what's wrong with teaching a guy how to win? Mike Tyson is a good example of this. First D'Amato died, then he fired Rooney, then he forgot how to box... street brawl/ballin and raw talent don't cut it. Or, translated into cliche, power is nothing without control.

James White played lots of minutes at the end of the season and looked like he understood how to play basketball while doing his thing... he shot some threes, set picks, handled quite a bit, even threw down an oop or two. Pop isn't going to turn him into James Posey or even Bowen Jr., but he might have to create a role for himself on this particular team.

BTW, nine blocks is FD.

At 5/19/2007 12:00 PM, Blogger Colonel D. Williams (Ret.) said...

To continue a line of thought by Brickowski - 99 had Mario Elie, 05 had Horry. Excluding 03 for the moment, doesn't there seem to be a "Clutch City" connection going on here. If only they would get Sam Cassell next year to finally bring respect to their backup point guard carousel, then the Clutch City legacy would have its final statement. Cassell as the player/asst coach would intrigue...

At 5/19/2007 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

how long before bowen slows down and is no longer effective? because given how old bowen and finley are we could be treated to a starting lineup featuring parker, manu and james white. and, umm, jackie butler.

wv: izsdyrtd...reads as "is dirty" and ends with tim duncans initials...hmmmmm...

At 5/19/2007 12:05 PM, Blogger Nate Jones said...

I agree with everything Westney just said.

To whoever blamed the series on the refs, the suspension, and Nash's bloody nose: Shit Happens. No one is going to remember those excuses ten years from now. In order to win you have to play through adversity.

Case in point:
89 Lakers-Swept through the western conference playoffs and then got swept by the Pistons in the Finals. All people talk about is the sweep. But no one talks about the fact that Magic and Byron Scott (their starting back court) were both injured and missed pretty much the entire series.

What happened to PHX is whatever. Their players messed up and broke a rule (as stupid as the rule might be) so they were admonished by the league. It sucks, but ish happens. But I think a Laker situation where they were they creamed everyone on their way to the Finals only to have their chances three-peat taken away by random hamstring injuries is more jacked than the Suns situation. Mainly because the Suns still had a chance to win and because the Suns had control of their actions. They didn't have to try and escalate a fight in order to show how tough they were...Yeah I know they had a lead and were feeling kind of ballsy at that point, but still...They didn't have to run on the floor. As well, while the Suns have been bitching (something all teams in this era love to do...bitch and make excuses), the Lakers didn't make one excuse. They went out there and took their ass whoppin like champions and then regrouped and came back for next year. The Suns should do the same.

Same shit could be said for the 04 Lakers. Does anyone talk about how Malone was out for all of the games in Detroit and that they had to start Slava Medvedenko against Rasheed in Detroit? No, right? Because in the playoffs excuses don't mean shit. And don't discout Malone. During the regular season and the playoffs the Lakers were 51-14 with Malone and 18-21 without him. Yet no one shed a tear for the Lakers back then. Why, because like the Spurs now, they were the team that was cool to hate. It was cool for the Lakers to get their ass kicked. Now that the underdog/fan favs got it handed to them, everyone is crying and making excuses. Basically, shit happens. Get over it. You still have a great team with great flexibility. Make a great trade and come back next year ready to win the damn thing. At least you're not going to implode like the Lakers did.

One last thing...To the person that said Nash is holding Amare back: Are you insane? Nash is the reason all Amare has to worry about is catching the ball and dunking it. Dude has no low post game whatsoever. Other than a turn and face rocker step/first step to the basket can you name one Amare signature move. I mean, Dwight Howard has more post moves than Amare. That's how bad his low post game is. Now if you're saying Nash is holding him back because if he went to another team he'd be forced to develop something other than that, I could understand that. He could probably do that. I mean he did add that nice mid-range jumper to his game. But have you ever seen amare come with a back to the basket drop step or up and under move or whatever the fuck good post players like Duncan do on a consistent basis? He's the only player on the entire first team All-NBA that isn't a creator. Outside of that first step move, he can't create his own shot. Also, he needs to learn how to play better one on one defense.

At 5/19/2007 12:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I truly understand the hatred for the Spurs. Everybody hates the winning team, except its fans. But unlike the 2000-2003 Lakers or Jordan’s Bulls, the Spurs do not have star-power or the support of one the US’s biggest cities to ameliorate the venom. If this same Spurs team wore Knicks jerseys, it would be different.

But they don’t. There is no Spurs nation – unless you count Argentina. It’s just Bexar county, the South Texas Valley and a couple of ex-pats making their way up east or out west, trying to scrounge up enough money for a league pass. So the 99 Spurs have an asterisk, the 03 Spurs are lambasted as “the worst team to ever win a championship”, the 05 Spurs are boring, and the 07 Spurs are dirty or evil. Even when they lost, they were hated. The David Robinson teams were “soft”. The Gervin Spurs were tragic also-rans always getting beat on someone elses’ way to the finals – the Suns of their day.

Screw that. I am from SA. I remember how it felt when the 94 Rockets made David Robinson’s MVP trophy into a badge of shame. The city had a pall after the Blazers beat SA in Game 7 way back in the early days of 50. The Lakers sweep of the Spurs in 01 was the worst. Nothing gold can stay, my team is on the top now and I want to enjoy it while it lasts.

You have to feel for the Suns. But if you do, you then also have to feel for every perennially good team from a so-called third rate city to just not get there for whatever reason: Trailblazers, Utah Jazz, Buffalo Bills. They will have their days, too, hopefully. When they do I hope their fans don’t let the blog-o-netters get them down.

Please reprint Brickowski’s article written on the eve of last year’s Game 6 or 7 between the Spurs and Mavs. That was the best pro-Spurs piece I have ever read.

At 5/19/2007 1:45 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

movaco, the beauty of this thing called blogs is that you can read any old post you want in the archives, thus no need to reprint.

needless to say, i'm pulling for a lebron/boozer reunion in the finals.

At 5/19/2007 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nate: Yeah, I know; shit does happen. My comment was in response to the smugness of some of the Spurs fans after last night's game.

And I'm not really a hardcore Suns fan (the Celtics are my team); it's just that I have no interest in the playoffs now that they're gone.

At 5/19/2007 3:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, what does it mean when the 1 and 2 seeds from WConf can't even make it to the conference finals?

At 5/19/2007 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OT, but interesting--from the Guardian's FA cup final liveblog:

"United have enjoyed claiming the high moral ground this season, bleating about how they play football "the right way" while cautious Chelsea just try to choke teams."

The "right way", in the Premiership, stands for aggressive, attacking style. Discuss.....

At 5/19/2007 6:43 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Nate said - if you're saying Nash is holding him back because if he went to another team he'd be forced to develop something other than that, I could understand that.

I know this wasn't really the point you were making, but I think this is absolutely correct. That Suns team is so geared around only what Nash can make the team do that I can't help but wonder if there are aspects of many of his teammates' games that are just being shoved aside in favor of the run-n-gun. Is Marion only capable of playing cleanup ball the way he does in Phoenix? Could he develop a more traditional game where plays could be run for him and where he could create and playmake or go one-on-one? Could Stoudemire develop a post game as you were saying? These guys are both incredibly talented, so it stands to reason that they can; but do you see D'Antoni showing any interest in them doing this? It wouldn't really fit into what they're trying to do over there. I'm sure all he wants is for them to stay athletic for tip ins and wide open dunks and to maybe work on their outside shots.

This is why, as I've said before, if the Suns really want to win anything next year they've got to trade Nash and ditch the gimmick that their whole gameplan is based on. They should at least be exploring what they could get in return for Nash, because one would think they could seriously improve their roster in other areas while turning the point duties over to Barbosa (another guy who may be stunting other areas of his game to play "the Nash way" in Phoenix). It's gonna be an interesting off-season for the Suns, that's for sure.

At 5/19/2007 6:45 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...


I agree that Parker and Manu are exciting, it's just that I know they could be even more exciting because I've seen them do it before. I also don't think it's entirely about winning, because it's not like Ginobili didn't win two years ago when he was pulling off crazier stuff than he does now.

As for White, I know that he played in the meaningless games at the end of the year (I did not see them, so maybe I'm not qualified to discuss this) but the only role I can see him getting minutes would be the one you describe: doing little things and throwing down the occasional dunk. It's just that the Spurs usually get guys who can already do those things at a high level (again, correct me if I'm wrong here on White's abilities to do these things late in the year) and wouldn't necessarily want to wait on a project. Maybe I'm just foolish to think that athleticism like that needs to be allowed to run free; I am a Warriors fan.

You're right, nine blocks is FD (and it would have been ten if Vaughn hadn't tried to pick up that stupid charge in the restricted area).

I agree with everyone who has said that the Spurs need to embrace villainy. The only problem with that is that it's easier to tolerate villains in movies/literature because we know some comeuppance is usually coming. With the Spurs, I feel like--by narrative standards--it's been too long without that moment (for me, that would be two consecutive years of playoff losses like the one last year--arbitrary, yes), and I don't see it coming anytime soon.

At 5/19/2007 9:51 PM, Blogger Colonel D. Williams (Ret.) said...

Regarding White Flight: I watched every second he was on the court at the end of the season. I agree that Pop's approach can confine players (though as others pointed out, Nash's brilliance also may confine some of his teammates game as well). Pop's approach has had the most effect on Manu and Parker...to some degree. I would argue that after the 04 meltdown with the Lakers, Pop realized he has to let these guys do what they do, and that explained Manu's 05 Demolition Tour in the playoffs. Pop wants Manu to add a mid-range game so he can extend his career. So, ultimately, I think Pop has grown to let Tony and Manu do more of their thing, and as a result, the offense is less stagnant than it used to be (though still stifling for the average fan it sounds like).

But back to White - he's all potential and Youtube clips but little results yet. He never dominated in college like people wanted and was, from what I hear, (I can't stand the college game so I'm going off what I read) more a defender than anything else. The hilite dunks are SWEET but not a dominating force of his game. What I'm saying is, White is happy to be on the Spurs because he knows its his best way to avoid being a D-League forgotten soldier.

At 5/19/2007 10:16 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

I want to make it clear that I still like watching Parker and Manu. The difficult thing is knowing that in a different system they'd just be that more exciting. It's different from other less exciting teams (for example, the 90s Jazz teams) in that I feel like these guys are different kinds of players from the system they've been put in. It's just that they're good enough to play well in any situation.

College White was a pretty big disappointment until he transferred to play with Huggins. (I'm pretty sure Corey Brewer became everything Donovan thought he was getting with White.) He was one of the best wing defenders in college his last year but his offensive game lack(ed/s) polish. From that description, I guess I'd like to see him become a poor man's Gerald Wallace, something that I don't think the Spurs (or most teams, for that matter) would let him do.

I'm sure he's happy to be on the Spurs, though, as I'm sure most NBA players would be. I fully admit that I'm approaching this selfishly as a fan whose team hasn't made it to the finals in his lifetime and just wants to see some aesthetically pleasing basketball in the later rounds. I appreciate things like solid defensive rotations--hell, I was screaming for them in the Warriors-Jazz series--but I don't think they and a free-flowing style are mutually exclusive.

At 5/20/2007 12:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is why, as I've said before, if the Suns really want to win anything next year they've got to trade Nash and ditch the gimmick that their whole gameplan is based on.

I'm not the biggest Nash fan in the world, but that's just silly. The gameplan isn't a gimmick for one thing, it just relies on people getting into the zone and committing to it, and Barbosa particularly, but also Stoudamire, and Marion, are still insecure about their games and try and get tunnel vision when the pressure's put on.

You can argue about whether this insecurity is a result of the Suns system or pre-exists it; but the calculus is the same either way: Nash is the proven commodity; Barbosa (brain), Stoudemire (post) and Marion (shot creation) have flaws which *could* be remedied in a different system, or they could collectively turn into a slightly less-competitive version of the Timberwolves.

If that sounds like a good gamble to you, please come over for some poker.

At 5/20/2007 12:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I'll acknowledge that we haven't seen that patented Manu reverse under-the-basket one-handed jam in quite some time. But Parker can still attack the rim at will (I personally think he outplayed AI in that respect, which was surprising).

Re: White - the NBA is up to its eyeballs in squandered talent. Lovable losers like Odom, DMiles, Marbury, TMac, et al are entertaining to watch and sure fill up Sportscenter's expensive airtime, but we shake our heads in the knowledge that for all the acrobatic inspiration, we'll never get to see those guys do it in May. Just once can't we be satisfied that a physical talent is in the right hands? Look, I realize that he may not end up fitting in there, but at the least he'll learn the team concept. It's not like Pop is going to teach him to jump lower.

At 5/20/2007 4:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea that Nash imposes limits on the other Suns' games is extremely frustrating. Just because these guys are able to display their athleticism and talent as finishers does not mean that they are able to simply employ these talents at their every whim. D'Antoni's offensive scheme is based on having an elite point guard that can find slashers running to the basket and shooters setting up shop on the perimeter. As evidenced by the Suns' ineptitude when Nash is out of the game, the space that he creates by having defenses collapse around him gives his teammates ample oppurtinity to demonstrate their skills, but without Nash, they would not awarded such luxury.

Just as Richard Jefferson and the grossly overpaid Kenyon Martin should be required to give 50% of their paycheck to Jason Kidd; Marion, Amare and Raja Bell shoud all realize that Steve Nash has made each of these guys millions more than they're worth because he continually puts them in situations in which their talents are highlighted. Make no mistake, all of these players are extremely good at what they do, but without Nash they would find themselves stifled by defenses that are able concentrate on their limited skill sets. As pointed out continually on this site, Amare has absolutely no post up game. Maybe he'll develop one in the future, but as of now he relies on getting the ball in great position and either dunking or shooting his newly honed jumpshot. Still a good player, but certainly not First Team All League.

Part of me hopes that Marion will jump ship and play for a team like the Hawks, only so that he can realize that his so-called underappreciated skills will not let him get off his ugly-ass jumper without a hand in his grill at all times. The importance of guys like Kidd and Nash will always be understated because things like spacing cannot be accounted for statistically, but when their teammates' values take a nosedive once they get traded, the value of an elite point guard will be recognized as such. History dictates that as soon as a point gaurd of these guys' caliber gets paired with a legit superstar, they win. Always. Karl Malone is the obvious exception, but he kept running into this guy named Jordan so thats a acceptable anomaly.

At 5/20/2007 7:29 AM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

I think we're agreeing more than we're disagreeing on Parker/Manu, Westney. The same basic point holds: these are exciting players who have obvious skills that a system can't completely obscure.

Geraldo: I agree that Nash makes all those guys better, but to what extent do you think a lot of their players are interchangeable with other guys in the league? For instance, would they be able to replace Marion, or would the positional dropoff negligible because of what Nash would do to the players they got in return? It seems that under your idea the Suns would win almost every trade, assuming people stayed healthy.

At 5/20/2007 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The people who are saying that Nash limits the basketball growth of his young teammates are absolutely right. The theme of the press conferences is always some variation of "you guys are so lucky/spoiled to get to play with an MVP etc..." Yes, they don't have to work hard to get it done and when Nash is in the game he's the one and only playmaker.

However, the problem as I see it is that the Suns are not capable of shifting the focus of their offense when Nash takes his breathers. When the Spurs take Duncan and Parker out of the game, they run much more of an outside-in, isolation type offense, and just try to clamp down on defense with a slew of bigs to foul slashers. Or even a team like Miami - when Shaq sits they don't just keep trying to throw entry passes to Zo or Haslem. They change their offense completely but have the shooters to pull it off, and play clamp-down defense. Or consider Dallas, which doesn't have an inside-out philosophy - when Dirk and Jet go to the bench, they get small and quick and run Stackhouse off of screens (and play Defense, or try to).

My point is that you don't blame Duncan or Shaq or Dirk for the failures of the second unit. If D'Antoni wants Amare to develop a post game, leave him in when Nash sits and throw him the ball in the post! The Suns can't think that they can play the same style when Nash is out of the game and still have the same success. There's no reason they can only go seven deep. Play a second unit of Amare, Thomas, (or Burke, whoever is big and can run the floor), Leandro, Jones or Bell, whatever, and just feed the man in the post. On defense just play the bench guys and have them clog the lane and take fouls.
It looks like they've refined their whole idiom so that they don't have to run for 48 minutes in fear of getting cold, so why work harder then they have to?

At 5/20/2007 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dirk Nowitzki is a much better player w/o Steve Nash. Not even close. He has accomplished more as well.

At 5/20/2007 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dirk Nowitzki is a much better player w/o Steve Nash. Not even close. He has accomplished more as well.

Hang on. Nash is also a much better player without Dirk. Perhaps they both just, like, got better because they kept working on their games?

That's why the "Nash holds them back" doesn't make sense. Amare already gets post-up opportunities, he just doesn't know what to do if he can't get to the rim. The Phoenix system asks for quick decisions on shots, and while it's true that most of those come on 3pt FGs and dunks, there is some post play when mismatches come about. D'Antoni doesn't dump the ball into Amare in the post when Nash is out because that's a stupid idea. Personally, I think players get to work on their games in practice, in order to bring something to the table, rather than just expect the coach to let them work it out on the job.

Duncan had a fricking postgame when he came into the L, so it's a stupid comparison with that situation.

At 5/20/2007 12:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marion pre-Nash was a 20-10 guy, now he's a 20-11 guy. Amare was 20-10 pre-Nash, he got a bump in scoring to 26 PPG in Nash's first year, but was 20-10 this year. Statistically at least not much changed from when those guys where playing with Stephon Marbury to when they were playing with Nash. So unless you think they'd be scoring more points or grabbing more boards or dropping more dimes without Nash around it's hard to see how he's stifled their development.

At 5/20/2007 12:47 PM, Blogger Nate Jones said...

Yams: I don't think Nash has stiffled their development. It's on NBA players to develop aspects of their game. That development usually takes place in the off-seaons. Amare needs to get his butt in the gym and work on a variety of moves in the post and then watch film on how to actually play defense (you know, not just come over from the weakside for blocks).

The only knock I've ever had on Nash is how limited he is on Defense. In playoff situations, it's important to have 5 guys out there that can at least defend a little bit. But Nash can't even do that.

People always compare the Suns to the 80s Lakers, but although the 80s Lakers would run, they didn't rely on the three point line the way the suns do, and they also had a solid post up game with Magic, Kareem, and Worthy, enabling them to play both uptempo game and half court basketball. They also could defend much better than the suns.

At 5/20/2007 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do the TrueHOOP accounts of Barbosa pre-NBA increase his FDness?

At 5/20/2007 2:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marion pre-Nash was a 20-10 guy, now he's a 20-11 guy. Amare was 20-10 pre-Nash, he got a bump in scoring to 26 PPG in Nash's first year, but was 20-10 this year.

But the Suns scored 94 points a game before Nash arrived and 110 his first season. With Nash at the helm, there are simply more points and rebounds to be had, so the fact that their numbers didn't increase disproves your point. Also, Amare Stoudemire's fg% jumped from .472 to .559 in Nash's first year and has stayed at that level throughout. Thats yooge.

Some of you guys act like Amare is this complete player who is being forced into a system where all he is allowed to do is dunk and shoot the occasional J. He is a finisher, plain and simple. He rarely if ever gets double-teamed and often has 2-3 feet of open space in front of him when he gets the ball to gain momentum. Obviously he's a straight up beast, but so is Dwight Howard and we've seen how limited his offense can be when he isn't given perfect position. Marion has a bit more depth to his game, but the majority of his points come off Nash assists. To say that he created his own offense before Nash was around is not entirely true. Say what you will about Marbury, but he was second in the league in assists a bunch of times when he was with the Suns because he would penetrate and dish to Amare and Marion for easy dunks.

For all the talk about the Suns possibly moving in a different direction in terms of style of play, I'm sure that deep down D'Antoni and Colangelo both know that this team was built around Nash and that there's really no other option other than to keep a fast tempo. Thats why they will do everything they can to trade Marion for a shot at getting Durant because they recognize that they are in dire need of someone who can create his own shot without Nash setting him up.

I'm sticking by my assertion that these guys owe their reputations to playing with Nash. He doesn't stifle their styles, he compliments their strengths, just as any good point guard should do. If playing with Nash would turn a guy like Kobe into only a finisher I could understand the concerns. This is kind of why the Nash-Nowitski pairing didn't work as well because Dirk creates his own shot. If, however, you play like Amare, Marion, G Wallace, Josh Smith and any number of athletic finishers, Steve Nash will make you more money than you could ever be worth elsewhere.

At 5/20/2007 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Practice? You talkin' 'bout practice?

No, what's stupid is trying to run the Steve Nash offense WITHOUT STEVE NASH. I didn't say turn Amare into Duncan, I just said change gears like all succesful team do with their second units.
Tell me WHY dumping the ball into Amare when Nash is out is a stupid idea.

At 5/20/2007 2:37 PM, Blogger Nate Jones said...

Kevin Garnett for Shawn Marion (and Picks): The Perfect Scenario for the Wolves and the Suns


What do you think?

At 5/20/2007 2:55 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Interesting article about the Jazz as the Spurs "hump": http://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/basketball/nba/spurs/stories/MYSA052007.01X.BKNspurs.jazz.main.36226b4.html

At 5/20/2007 3:01 PM, Blogger Nate Jones said...

Westney: In theory, dumping it into Amare would be great. But he has to develop more of a low post game. Right now, his low post skills are minimal. It's pretty much a turn and face rocker move/first step or a dribble spin toward the baseline. He and Dwight Howard really would be unstoppable if they had any sort of moves down there. I've been telling people the perfect young big man in my eyes is a morph of Andrew Bynum, Amare Stoudemire, and Dwight Howard. He'd have Howard's rebouding ability, Bynums length and shot blocking ability, Amare's mid range jumper, Amare and Dwights athleticism and mobility, and Bynum's Kareem taught post moves. Maybe the Suns should bring Kareem in as an assistant coach?

At 5/20/2007 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

westney: Exactly. The Suns are entirely one dimensional. They're great at what they do but if you take it away they're pretty much sunk. Since that's easier said than done they can run a multitude of mediocre teams off the floor in the reg. season but once a solid defensive team with a smart, experienced coach zeroes in they have no answer.

I can understand that perhaps D'Antoni doesn't want to disrupt his team's flow or tempo by shifting into a more staid, slower paced offense with Nash off the floor but if that's the case then he and Colangelo have no one to blame but themselves for failing to accquire/develop a backup point guard who even credibly operate their offense. They also must realize that a team absolutely has to be able to change gears when necessary if it wants to succeed.

It's kind of nuts to single out Nash for individually holding Amare/Marion back. He does what all great PGs do, consistently gets the ball to his teammates in the spots in which they are most likely to succeed given their skillsets and lack thereof. If Amare, for example, doesn't understand that he would benefit greatly from developing a post game then he's suffering from a severely short-sighted view. If he didn't have Nash around I think he'd be much more motivated to expand his game but there's a world of difference between that and saying Nash is holding him back. It seems more accurate to say that Amare has simply become complacent with his PG/system. Of course, he's still young but until he develops more versatility he'll be Dwight Howard on the offensive end with slightly better touch and a 15 ft jumper. He (and Dwight Howard, Bynum, most young big men, etc.) also needs to develop patience. TD is a killer not only because he's so skilled but because he has an impeccable sense of timing with his post moves, drives and kickouts.

At 5/20/2007 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

westney is right. the suns play the nash game when nash isn't there and that's all on d'antoni and to a lesser extent nash. everyone in the organization bought into the two-time mvp hype and so no one has the creativity to maximize the talents of each player. worse, the suns philosophy is team play -- what made them great the past couple of years was that nash's court vision was contagious and players saw not just where they had to be to get an open shot, but where they should go so that a teammate gets open. now all of the suns have had it drilled into their heads that the team lives and dies by nash and that's exactly what they do. nash screwed up game 6 by never looking for his own shot to keep the spurs honest until it was far too late in the fourth quarter. that's why they lost this year and they'll lose again next year.


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