I feel pathetic. Read these pieces. I’ll be in the bathroom, sobbing.
Bill Walton’s Long, Strange Tale of NBA Survival
The New York Times
I’ve become a pretty staid NBA fan over the years. The human interest stories aren’t interesting. The deep dives are fairly shallow. But mark my words: I will always smile when I read about Bill Walton. To hear that he’s still doing what he does best: being an eclectic mix of public intellectual, hippie, jock, artist and stratosphere-bound spirit. If you’ve kept even the smallest amount of attention on Ol’ Bill, you could probably guess how he’s doing — living the best version of his life in San Diego, California. Sam Anderson attaches excellent prose to the Bill Walton Experience; barely containing his excitement to be rolling around town with the gentle giant, listening to Grateful Dead and talking about basketball from the mid-to-late 20th century. I smiled throughout this read. Bill Walton is a treasure that we must protect at all costs.
At the moment, the Grizzlies are swimming hopelessly upstream in a lopsided playoff series against the formidable San Antonio Spurs. There seems to be little chance that they will win; their team has been totally gutted by injury over the course of a beleaguering regular season. Yet, even in sure defeat, there is something glorious about their on-court product. It is informed by their dedication to “Grit ‘n’ Grind,” a phrase uttered by Tony Allen that has become the essence of the franchise. Kevin Arnovitz provides readers with a short history of grit ‘n’ grind: how it came to be, how it operates, and its overall relevance for the Grizzlies during their competitive era. There are several interesting tidbits in this piece, ranging from the insistence from team brass that players use the words “grit” and “grind” as much as possible, to the tension between Dave Joerger and the front office over the type of talent that should be retained by the team. I really enjoyed every word of this, and always dig what the Grizzlies are doing. Next year they’ll be back to their tricks, and it will be excellent to watch.
Whatever You Think of Sam Mitchell, the Way the Wolves Fired Him Was Disrespectful
Tom Thibodeau is now the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. It will be on him to continue the developmental gains achieved by Sam Mitchell, who served as the interim coach this season following the untimely death of Flip Saunders. Britt Robson provides a small look into the last day of work for Mitchell, who was let go at some point during the day he coached his final game. Robson takes a close look not just at the way Mitchell interacted with other individuals associated with the organization, but also how they regarded Mitchell, himself; as a coach who inherited a young team with a bright future, who had a longstanding relationship with the famously nepotistic owner, and whose on-court philosophies seriously conflicted with the general direction of the league. Robson concludes that Mitchell’s exit was disrespectful, given what he accomplished with the team. Importantly, Robson discusses the influence race may have had on the ousting of Mitchell (as Milt Newton, the general manager), and the implications therein. This is definitely worth the read, and I agree: Sam Mitchell was the brunt of incredible criticism; criticism we’ve seen leveled at several other black coaches in the past.
The Bulls’ Beat Writers Spilled the Beans on the Bulls’ Dysfunctional Locker Room
your friendly BullsBlogger
Blog A Bull
Finally, I wanted to include this roundup compiled by Blog A Bull, consisting of spilled beans from various Bulls beat writers. The Bulls did not have a good season, and the pieces linked here provide a tortured look into a season marred with jealousy, infighting and what sounds like a lot of passive aggression. The anonymous commentator, shielding his real name like a mid-2000′s basketblogger, dropped a few lines that made me snort pretty loudly. The image of the Bulls’ front office “barfing all over themselves at a rushed presser” is worthy of some sort of award. Does anyone say “barf” anymore?