Been awhile since I’ve done one of these. Hope you enjoyed the big game.
Signing Pau Gasol Was a Mistake
I have always been an interested observer of the Chicago Bulls, and this season has frankly been more interesting than the two seasons preceding this one. Most of that interest has centered around the return of Derrick Rose to nightly action, but several other storylines have taken center stage over the past few weeks. The vast majority of these narratives have revolved around the Bulls’ strange inconsistencies this season: a defensive decline, rumblings about Thibs’ long-term future, and the inability to resemble the same team from one game to the next. One individual, and aspect, that hasn’t been focused on is the team’s vaunted offseason signing: Pau Gasol. Kevin Ferrigan takes something of a radical stand, and makes a convincing argument that the signing of Gasol — just voted as the Eastern conference starter at center — has been the root of most of the team’s evils. Ferrigan’s argument hones in on Gasol’s defensive inadequacies, as well as the fact that his presence has forced previous anchors like Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson to redefine his role. Although I don’t watch enough Bulls basketball to agree one way or another, Ferrigan provides a compelling argument that’s worth thinking about, at the very least. Rest assured, I’ll be watching the Bulls’ big man with keen interest for the rest of the season.
The Golden State Warriors, Contenders or Pretenders: The “Meet the Press” Roundtable
There isn’t really a proper way to annotate this satirical piece by Alex Siquig, a friend of the program and fellow Warriors fan living on the East Coast. It transcends just about anything that’s been written about either the Warriors or NBA basketball this season; a romping, panoply on 24-hour news culture and the inane storylines that pepper both sports and political journalism. I could dive deep into how Siquig’s tongue-in-cheek turns of phrase — comparing the Warriors past history to “the global South” made me laugh and cry at the same time — but instead, I will let Siquig’s fictional words of a fictional Frances McDormand summarize everything that needs to be said:
If you were to put a small gun with a silencer to my head my ultimate answer would be contender. Certainly there are caveats, many and more in fact. It’s a fool’s whimsy to peer into the future, except in the most superficial and insincere ways, which is not to say I condemn such excercises out of hand, just that we should understand in the midst of this debate that whatever we say will have absolutely no permanence, indeed no meaning, as early as tomorrow. The future is not a straight line. I see all sorts of alternate timelines, devastating catastrophic nightmare worlds, featuring apocalyptic circumstances; I can see a demoralizing losing streak culminating in a panic trade. David Lee could very well be the sacrificial lamb in the vein of Danny Granger, and end up cast off into some dark starless night for cap relief. But who’s to say he wasn’t the super-sub glue that held the whole mess together. Do you recall our roundtable on the Indiana Pacers last season? All of you said contender without breaking a sweat, except for Nancy, who mostly talked about the golf-cart fatality she was on about at that time. Now look at you. Back at this futile guessing game, this target practice against the fates. Contender or pretender? Before the trade deadline, before even the All-Star break? You’ve truly called us all here to ask if the Golden State Warriors, a basketball team, can win a championship this very season and expect us to answer? Might as well ask us to describe the nape of a cloud’s neck, or the particular and peculiar violence of a kind man. But that’s the beauty of this thing isn’t it? This thing we all love so much we can hardly fucking stand it. This caring is a prison, but like a Norwegian prison, one of comfort and dignity, made for quiet reflection and the tension of deeper truths. Are the Warriors contenders? Hell if I know, my friends, and hell if I care. But I’ll tell you this. They are beautiful. They are just beautiful.
This piece is beautiful, too. Very, very beautiful.
On Basketball Fundamentalism
I enjoyed this somewhat open-ended piece by Seth Partnow on what he terms “fundamentalism,” defined as “the ability to perform basic tasks competently, shooting, passing, pivoting, screening and to do so quickly in sequence.” In the piece, Partnow points us to the interesting balance that makes NBA basketball so unique: the ability for those with the soundest fundamental skills to improvise, and “color outside the lines.” Partnow is correct: the most marketable parts of NBA basketball are more focused on aesthetic brilliance than sound fundamentalism. Yet, it is only when these fundamentals are mastered that individual brilliance can rise to the surface; those who fail are suddenly living life too dangerously. “For players in good grace, the misses, turnovers and lapses are ignored,” writes Partnow. “For those on the other side of the ledger, all that is noted is the wildness, with no consideration over whether that Westbrookian mad dash to the basket is not much different than Manu Ginobili whizzing a seemingly impossible pass into the 4th row.” These are interesting thoughts, and worth your time.