Pooping and hooping — what could be better?
New York Times
Howard Beck delivers perhaps the finest summation of Linsanity in terms of both social/cultural impact (as well as marketing implications) off-the-court and basketball performance on-the-court. Beck looks at Houston’s offer to Lin (a restricted free agent, meaning the Knicks can match the salary and retain the player) of 4-years, $28 million, and asks the question that really encapuslates the entire Linsanity phenomenon: how much does the potential for fame and global stardom factor into the long-term salary of a player whose body of credible work is only 26 games deep? Beck goes through the numbers and offers objective analysis into a deal that will pay a player a backloaded salary that will force the team into the luxury tax over the next two seasons. This is a nice, short piece that offers a nuanced, long-term view of Jeremy Lin as one of the Knicks’ highest paid players once the cloud of Linsanity dissipates.
This piece was sent to me by friend-of-The Diss Pete Samuels, and I am grateful that he did. This article was published in 2001 in Transitions, a scholarly journal founded in 1961 in Uganda, and a consistent outlet for literature pertaining to the African diaspora. In this essay, the author looks back on the memory of his talented, impoverished all-Black high school team suffering a defeat against a “hard-working”, well-funded all-White team from the suburbs. He uses the memory as a prism to assess the validity of the assertion that “playing basketball is a black man’s game, but winning basketball is a white man’s game.” He explores the memoirs of some of the greatest black players in the game, like Shaquille O’Neal and Michael Jordan, as well as some of the greatest white practitioners of the game, like Phil Jackson and Tex Winters, to assess competing visions of success and competence in a sport that is segregated in many ways, in many different arenas. It then takes a close look at the Sacramento Kings (who, at the time of writing in 2001, were one of the league’s top teams), using them as a way to assess whether these racial schisms could be mitigated through free-flowing, winning basketball. This piece is smart, funny, well-written — just a fine piece of writing, and a must-read for those who are interested in the ways race and geography influence style and culture in basketball.
For a long time, Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey was considered to be one of the finest young general managers in the game; an MIT whizkid who used his background in statistical analysis to create efficient, Moneyball-esque rosters that made advanced stat-geeks feel tingly down there. Yet, as Noam Schiller points out, these teams, in all actuality, were “middling”, and Morey was getting adulation that he probably didn’t deserve. So, with the Rockets in full rebuild mode, and a number of players expressing their dissatisfaction with the direction and leadership of the Rockets franchise — including Morey — Schiller declares Moreyball “dead” and offers an autopsy. According to Schiller, Morey’s advanced stat-driven “rapid asset acquisition” plan, which saw players as little more than a sum of their stats, backfired in a big way. It failed to take into account chemistry, and the actual emotions of the players as humans, and not just number-producers on a court. It is a smart analysis, and one that I ultimately feel is correct.
The Wages of Wins Journal
The statistically-driven Wages of Wins Journal offers its guess on the effect Steve Nash will have on the Lakers in the coming season. The analysis offers three take-aways: (1) Steve Nash will probably produce 5-7 more wins for the Lakers, which keeps them in the hunt for the 1-3 seed, (2) Nash could possibly make Kobe Bryant, who last year was a below-average per-48 minutes, into a better player, and (3) with Nash on-board, it makes far more sense for the Lakers to keep Bynum and Pau than trade them away. Bad news for those who were excited about a Pau-for-Iggy swap with Philly, or a Drew-for-Dwight swap with Orlando. Good stuff from TWOWJ, as usual.
There is a fine line between “rebuilding” and “retooling”, and Kevin Arnovitz shows us how delicately Neil Olshey, the new GM in Portland, walks that line. Arnovitz looks at the strange situation the Blazers find themselves in at the current moment. Arnovitz argues that the Blazers either could use a “retool” — improvement through “surgical” player acquisition and subtle roster transactions — or a full-blown “rebuild” that wipes the slate clean and puts the franchise back on square one. The Blazers, as Arnovitz asserts, have put themselves in a difficult spot by offering big money to RFA’s like Hibbert, while also offering mixed-messages about their own major RFA, Nic Batum. At the same time, the Blazers must figure out whether to either “retool” the roster around a system created by another coach, or “rebuild” fully and invest in current interim coach Caleb Kanales. It’s an interesting look at a team that is struggling to either accept its present circumstances, or actually assess where it’s at in today’s NBA.