It’s late. I should be in bed.
Harden Week: Second Round Maestro; James Harden, Daryl Morey, and Moses
It was a great pleasure to be able to contribute Harden Week over at Ian Levy’s excellent blog Hickory High, but I couldn’t shake a stick at the mic-drop written by Michael Shagrin. In this piece, Shagrin shows us how many intricate moves Daryl Morey needed to make to land Harden in Houston. Shagrin develops a metaphor of Morey as a stock trader, swapping futures for different ones, trying to make the numbers work. It’s an informative read; exhaustively researched and clearly laid out. It is a piece one could reference to show how team-building works in an age where the “cult of value” has great influence. Hickory High has an amazing cast of contributors, and I feel lucky to have been one of them.
Siskel and Ebert Agree that Space Jam is Perfect
I figured Ebert would get the Steve Jobs-ian treatment when he passed away. I didn’t know he was such a seminal figure for so many people who had never ever mentioned him before. Nick Bond is one of those folks. He claims Ebert is the reason people are familiar with criticism as a form of analysis, and he’s a major reason movies are popular in America. In my opinion, that may be a bit hyperbolic. But it’s good prose. And Bond’s right: Siskel and Ebert’s review of “Space Jam” is pretty stellar.
God is Not Dead
My NBA fanhood was assembled piecemeal; cobbled together after countless hours of watching old VHS videos about NBA history on the combo-TV/VHS in my kitchen and reading SLAM magazine on the john. Through these sources, I was able to learn a lot about the sport long before the rise of the (overcrowded) blogosphere, from guys like Lang Whitaker and Russ Bengston. A name that kept coming up was God Shammgod, this supposed wizard of the street, with handles and hops out of this world, who didn’t quite make it. I didn’t know the specifics of the God Shammgod story until today, after I read this long-form effort from Tim Casey. Shammgod, once the most beloved college player in the country after a story-book run with Providence college, was both the inspiration for Jesus Shuttlesworth and also something of a draft bust; a remarkable dichotomy for one of the more referenced names in basketball esoterica. If you, like me, are curious about the many meanings of God Shammgod, this piece is right up your alley.
What Brittney Griner Says About Us
While Brittney Griner is one of the most celebrated players in NCAA history, she has come under fire for her appearance, demeanor, size and skillset. With this in mind, Kate Fagan asks a valuable question: what does this criticism say about us as a society? Fagan highlights Griner’s unique attributes, and argues that the opinions of “Joe Fan” (sadly, it doesn’t get more specific than that) are weakened by their hypocritical nature. Fagan points out that Griner’s athletic skill, imposing physical size, tough-minded nature and surefire stardom are used by critics to jointly question her legitimacy, and by extension, the legitimacy of women’s sports. “Women’s basketball is maligned for not being as athletic as the men’s game, but as women become more athletic, these players are often labeled unfeminine, and therefore unwatchable, ” writes Fagan, then continues, “feel free to pause here and scratch your head.” It is a head-scratcher, indeed. Good work by Fagan.
The NCAA: Poster Boy for Corruption and Exploitation
March Madness concludes tomorrow, and Dave Zirin is here to remind us that everything you’re watching, at least from an economic and labor perspective, is morally and intellectually bankrupt. In a small but strong post, Zirin interrogates the methods both the NCAA and major public universities are using to maintain a status quo on their campuses, and profit from their huge sports programs. Such methods include raising tuition, enforcing furloughs, killing student aid programs, and using unpaid labor (like players). More than that, schools are aligning in mega-conferences to try and get in on television money, all the while claiming that the austerity measures listed above are necessary. Zirin is exactly on point. This was a refreshing read, and Zirin’s excellent (and bried) piece of work will serve as a seminal reference for a long time.