More Quotes From David Lee

David Lee answered some more questions pre-camp on 9/28/09.

[On his upcoming season.]

I’ve [gotten better each year] my first four years. And I’ll continue to do that this year. I think I have a pretty well defined role because a lot of the same people are back and the coach is back. We’re running the same system this year, so I know what coach wants out of me.

[On whether the number of players entering free agency next summer will be a distraction to the team this year.]

No because people were talking about it last year. We’ve got a lot of guys on one year deals right now and a lot of people finishing up their contract. Everyone’s motivated from the standpoint that we’re tired of losing. It’s the matter of coming out and having a great training camp. That’s the first step – having everyone on the same page. There’s really no controversy like in years past, like what happened with this guy or that guy. This year things are pretty settled down and we can focus on basketball.

[On his contract negotiations this summer, and if he’s happy to be back.]

We came in last summer looking for a long term deal and we couldn’t get that done and that’s unfortunate. Yet at the same time I understand what the Knicks are doing. I told Mr. Walsh when we had a meeting about a month ago that I don’t want to be a part of the problem, I want to be a part of the solution. And the solution right now is for them to save their [financial] flexibility next summer, and hopefully I’ll be a part of it long term. As of next summer, we’ll see what happens. I’m very happy with how the Knicks treated me there’s no bad blood on either side. We came to a great compromise and both sides are excited. They’re excited to have me here and I’m excited to be here… This is where I want to be, this is where I started out the summer wanting to be, and I’m just happy that things worked out and I’m still a Knick.

[On whether back in July did he thought he’d be a Knick.]

I had daydreams where I thought there was no way, and I had days where I was sure I would be back. In the end [beacuse of] the restricted free agency situation a lot of things have to fall into place to get anything done. And I’m glad they didn’t fall into place because I’m happy to be back. Coach [D’Antoni] is the best coach I’ve ever played for and I’m happy to be back here. And I have a lot of teammates that I”m excited to play alongside with.

[On what he did in the offseason.]

The offseason I got a little bit of a late start because of the contract proceedings but I’ve been in here every day since August 1st working out with the guys. Big changes [this year is] we’ve got a lot more guys that are in New York working out in the facility. In the past we’ve had people working out in their hometown and come back a week or so before [training camp started]. But this year for a solid month and a half we’ve had the same core guys working out with our coaches and that makes a big difference because we have guys that are willing to play with one another and everybody’s doing what the coaching staff wants.

[On whether the Knicks have to make the playoffs to attract LeBron James.]

I can’t get into LeBron’s, Dwayne Wade’s or Chris Bosh’s heads to know what they want. But I think that’s going to be something that all those guys will look at next summer. The biggest thing is this year, regardless of what happens next summer, we need to have a good year for us, and for the guys that are here, and for the fans of New York. We’re planning on doing that and whatever happens is going to happen. A lot more of it has to do with a lot of our futures, and which ones of us stay around. It’ll probably have a lot more effect on us than it will on Wade or LeBron.

[On all the expiring contracts making it like everyone is trying out for next year’s team.]

One thing we need to do is make a positive out of it – and the positive side is that we have a lot of guys that have a lot to prove this year. We have a lot of guys that really want to make their mark on the Knicks franchise because the future is sort of unknown. The other side of it is that you want to avoid is how you hear about contract guys going for their own, but we don’t have those types of guys on this team that are going to shoot the ball 30 times a game this year. I don’t think we have those kinds of guys no matter what their contract situation is. I think we can make this into a positive and realize that we all need to play for this year and not look towards the future because there’s not a lot of security there.

[On whether he thought he picked the wrong year to be a free agent.]

There’s a lot of factors. Our team is trying to get under the cap. And they want to save their flexibility for next summer. And with the economy and with base year compensation which is something I learned about a lot this summer – one of the more complicated aspects of restricted free agency – it was kinda like the perfect storm had hit me for getting something long term done. But once again I’m very happy with how things ended up working out and I’m looking forward to this season. The Knicks were more than fair with me, and I’m very happy about that.

2009 David Lee Pre-Camp Interview

2009-interview-david-lee

I sat down with David Lee for about 3 minutes and 12 seconds, and he was kind enough to answer my questions.

Mike Kurylo: It’s no secret that you’ve been taking a lot more jumpers as your career has progressed, and it’s been reported that you work a lot on it in the off season. What exactly do you do in the off season to work on it? Are you working on it alone?

David Lee: I work with a lot of our coaches. Our assistant coaches have taken a special interest in continuing to improve my jumper, and I think it’s at the point now that mechanically it’s where it needs to be. Now it’s just the matter of getting used to shooting it in the game with confidence. That’s a big thing, plenty of shooters have that mentality.

Mike Kurylo: Was there a certain aspect of your jumper that you had to correct? Something that you worked on a lot?

David Lee: Yeah, when I got here – mechanically it wasn’t a sound shot. At times my elbow would come out or something like that. At different times I was [mechanically unsound]. But now it’s at the point that it’s just staying on balance and just shooting through the ball.

Mike Kurylo: It seems that you have a much more diverse offensive game these days, but you still have that label of being a blue collar guy. Do you think that [label] is a bit unfair at this point in your career?

David Lee: No it’s not unfair, but I think in this system it’s defined that I’m going to work a lot out of the pick & roll and be asked to finish inside and hit 15 foot jumpshots. Also last year I was at the top of the key a lot making plays for other guys. And that’s something you’re going to see a lot more this year – is me handling the ball more and making more plays. That’s something that I enjoy doing and I think that I can help us and be a lot more diverse on offense this year.

Mike Kurylo: How do you feel going 1-1 against someone? Are you pretty confidant…

David Lee: Well that’s something that in the NBA that just takes a little bit of experience. Some guys come into the NBA used to doing that and I didn’t do a lot of that in college. So I picked that up the last couple of years and I’m happy to have gotten better at it. I feel real comfortable now isolated with my back to the basket or facing up.

Mike Kurylo: One last question, what can you do [to improve your] defense? How can you practice that?

David Lee: Well the biggest thing is to get better. I’m going to do a lot more this year at working on scouting reports. A lot of times I’m guarding guys that are 50 lbs heavier & 5 inches [taller] so really I have to use what I know about them and their [tendencies], and just try to have them play to their weaknesses. Because you’re not going to stop guys like the Dwight Howards of the NBA, you have to keep them from really hurting your team.

Mike Kurylo: Sorry one more question, there’s a lot more front court depth this year especially at center, do you think you’ll be playing a lot more PF this year along those guys?

David Lee: I don’t know about a lot more, but I think I’ll get more time at the PF. Hopefully Darko [Milicic] and Eddy [Curry] can give us a boost there as well as Jordan Hill and I’ll be able to play power forward and get some much needed rest from the 5.

Lee Resigned Officially, Nate Resigned Unoffically

The Knicks have resigned David Lee to a one year $7M deal and have unofficially given Nate Robinson $2.9M with possible bonuses to increase the amount. Given how late in the off season this news comes and how neither player had any other options, the news is anti-climactic. With 9 days until the first preseason game, this means that last year’s rotation will return in full except for Quentin Richardson.

Similarity Scores Part II

Something I’ve touched on a few times this year, is the similarity (or dissimilarity) between Kobe and Jordan. So let’s use similarity scores to find out how close the two are. The most similar players to Kobe Bryant at the age of 30:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS% eFG% PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Kobe Bryant 2009 LAL 24.3 .561 .502 26.8 1.1 5.2 4.9 1.5 0.5 2.6
.117 Vince Carter 2007 NJN 21.8 .559 .503 23.8 1.3 5.7 4.5 0.9 0.3 2.5
.167 George Gervin 1983 SAS 20.5 .561 .491 26.0 1.4 4.5 3.4 1.1 0.9 3.1
.173 Alex English 1984 DEN 22.2 .570 .529 27.2 2.7 5.8 5.1 1.0 1.2 2.8
.183 Allen Iverson 2006 PHI 25.9 .543 .467 27.6 0.5 2.7 6.2 1.6 0.1 2.9
.184 Manu Ginobili 2008 SAS 24.3 .612 .540 22.6 1.0 5.5 5.2 1.7 0.5 3.1
.226 Ray Allen 2006 SEA 22.2 .590 .544 23.3 0.8 4.0 3.4 1.3 0.2 2.2
.238 Paul Pierce 2008 BOS 19.6 .599 .529 19.7 0.7 5.1 4.5 1.3 0.5 2.8
.250 Mitch Richmond 1996 SAC 19.2 .591 .529 22.9 0.7 3.3 3.1 1.5 0.2 2.7
.252 James Silas 1980 SAS 16.7 .585 .514 21.4 0.7 2.6 5.4 1.0 0.2 3.0
.284 World B. Free 1984 CLE 18.8 .512 .453 25.3 1.3 3.3 3.4 1.4 0.1 2.3
.289 Scottie Pippen 1996 CHI 21.0 .551 .525 19.1 1.9 6.3 5.8 1.7 0.7 2.6

I think this is about right for Kobe: All Star/Hall of Fame caliber players, but no one that you’d consider for the greatest of all time. Vince Carter’s name on there is more of an indictment of Vinsanity than anything else. Kobe has gone out of his way to make sure he went to the right team (orchestrating a draft day trade), and complained when the team wasn’t doing enough to win. Granted some of what Kobe did was selfish, but when you compare him to Carter’s antics, you can see that Bryant truly values winning above other things. It seems that the two have similar abilities, but Kobe is more motivated to win (or more able to put himself in positions to win.)

Jordan doesn’t show up on the list, because at the age of 30 he was playing minor league baseball. If we go back a year to age 29, Jordan shows up, but 12th on Kobe’s list. However looking at it from Jordan’s perspective, Kobe is the most similar.

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS% eFG% PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Michael Jordan 1993 CHI 29.7 .564 .515 29.8 1.6 6.1 5.0 2.6 0.7 2.4
.227 Kobe Bryant 2008 LAL 24.2 .576 .503 26.2 1.1 5.8 5.0 1.7 0.5 2.9
.299 Julius Erving 1980 PHI 25.4 .568 .520 26.9 2.8 7.4 4.5 2.2 1.8 3.6
.365 Clyde Drexler 1992 POR 23.6 .560 .509 24.9 2.2 6.5 6.7 1.8 0.9 3.1
.394 Larry Bird 1986 BOS 25.6 .580 .521 24.5 2.2 9.3 6.4 1.9 0.6 3.1
.403 Manu Ginobili 2007 SAS 24.1 .609 .539 21.7 1.0 5.7 4.6 1.9 0.5 2.7
.424 Scottie Pippen 1995 CHI 22.6 .559 .522 20.2 2.1 7.6 4.9 2.8 1.1 3.2
.432 Alex English 1983 DEN 24.1 .561 .517 28.0 3.2 7.2 4.8 1.4 1.5 3.2
.452 Paul Westphal 1980 PHO 21.1 .593 .535 24.2 0.6 2.5 5.6 1.6 0.5 2.8
.457 Fred Brown 1978 SEA 19.6 .528 .488 21.8 1.1 3.4 4.4 2.0 0.5 3.0
.493 Purvis Short 1987 GSW 18.6 .543 .483 23.5 2.1 5.2 3.3 1.7 0.3 2.6
.524 Dell Curry 1994 CHH 18.5 .543 .520 22.1 1.2 4.3 3.7 1.6 0.4 2.0

But there’s one caveat with this: Kobe isn’t very similar. He’s about 3 standard deviations away. Of course when you look at Michael’s similarities, there are a lot of no doubt upper tier Hall of Famers, before trailing off into the not very similar at all. What about LeBron?

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS% eFG% PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 LeBron James 2009 CLE 31.7 .591 .530 27.2 1.2 7.2 6.9 1.6 1.1 2.8
.153 Dwyane Wade 2006 MIA 27.6 .577 .499 25.4 1.3 5.4 6.3 1.8 0.7 3.3
.272 Kobe Bryant 2003 LAL 26.2 .550 .483 26.0 1.1 6.0 5.1 1.9 0.7 3.0
.316 Grant Hill 1997 DET 25.5 .556 .500 19.6 1.4 8.2 6.7 1.6 0.5 3.0
.319 Anfernee Hardaway 1996 ORL 24.6 .605 .549 21.3 1.5 4.2 6.9 2.0 0.5 2.7
.355 Julius Erving 1975 NYA 26.2 .565 .514 24.8 3.0 9.7 4.9 2.0 1.7 3.2
.393 Gilbert Arenas 2006 WAS 23.8 .581 .507 25.0 0.6 3.0 5.1 1.7 0.3 3.2
.424 Tony Parker 2007 SAS 21.4 .572 .527 20.6 0.5 3.6 6.1 1.2 0.1 2.8
.426 Marques Johnson 1981 MIL 22.0 .583 .552 21.8 3.2 7.3 4.9 1.6 0.6 2.7
.430 Tracy McGrady 2004 ORL 25.3 .526 .473 25.3 1.3 5.4 5.0 1.3 0.6 2.4
.435 Chris Mullin 1988 GSW 19.8 .580 .526 21.5 1.0 3.6 5.1 2.0 0.6 2.8
.471 Walter Davis 1979 PHO 23.0 .606 .561 27.6 1.6 5.5 5.0 2.2 0.4 4.3

Like Jordan, LeBron’s comparables aren’t very close. There is considerable drop offs between James to Wade to Kobe to Hill. I’m a bit surprised Magic didn’t come up on this list, as both LeBron and Magic were great in multiple areas. But Johnson was more of a point guard, meaning his assists were higher and his scoring was lower. As for Magic at the same age:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS% eFG% PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Magic Johnson 1984 LAL 22.6 .628 .569 16.5 1.4 6.9 12.3 2.1 0.7 4.3
.450 Terry Porter 1988 POR 18.1 .592 .533 14.7 0.8 4.5 10.0 1.8 0.2 2.9
.514 Kevin Johnson 1991 PHO 23.7 .604 .520 22.2 0.7 3.5 10.1 2.1 0.1 3.5
.522 Isiah Thomas 1986 DET 21.2 .554 .498 20.8 1.1 3.6 10.7 2.2 0.3 3.7
.698 John Bagley 1985 CLE 16.0 .524 .490 12.1 0.8 4.4 10.5 1.9 0.1 3.1
.717 Deron Williams 2009 UTA 21.1 .573 .506 19.0 0.3 2.8 10.4 1.0 0.3 3.3
.742 John Stockton 1987 UTA 19.0 .575 .506 12.6 0.6 2.9 13.0 3.4 0.3 3.2
.811 Gary Grant 1990 LAC 15.3 .507 .471 13.5 1.4 4.6 10.4 2.5 0.1 4.9
.836 John Crotty 1994 UTA 17.5 .575 .510 15.2 1.3 3.6 8.9 1.7 0.1 3.1
.846 Doc Rivers 1986 ATL 17.4 .520 .474 14.0 1.1 3.7 10.2 2.7 0.3 3.2
.862 Johnny Moore 1983 SAS 17.5 .507 .471 13.3 0.9 3.9 10.6 2.7 0.5 3.2
.870 Micheal Ray Richardson 1980 NYK 17.8 .517 .485 14.8 1.8 6.3 9.8 3.1 0.4 4.2

Again look at the z-Sum score, it’s not close at all. No one had Magic’s combination of excellent passing, strong rebounding, and highly efficient scoring. In one respect that is what makes guys like Jordan, Magic, and LeBron so great. There aren’t many players who are similar to them, which makes them unique – a class above everyone else. Let’s get back to the present, how about this guy from the FA class of 2010.

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS% eFG% PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Chris Bosh 2009 TOR 22.1 .569 .492 21.5 2.6 9.5 2.3 0.8 0.9 2.1
.047 Wayman Tisdale 1989 TOT 17.5 .568 .514 20.4 2.8 9.0 1.9 0.8 0.8 2.5
.064 Charlie Villanueva 2009 MIL 18.6 .529 .488 21.7 2.6 8.9 2.4 0.9 1.0 2.4
.081 Vin Baker 1996 MIL 18.4 .527 .493 18.8 2.9 8.8 2.3 0.7 1.0 2.3
.097 Shareef Abdur-Rahim 2001 VAN 19.1 .549 .477 18.5 1.9 8.2 2.8 1.0 0.9 2.6
.104 Don MacLean 1994 WSB 17.8 .566 .503 19.8 2.0 6.8 2.3 0.7 0.3 2.2
.107 James Edwards 1980 IND 17.6 .545 .512 20.0 2.8 9.0 2.0 0.9 1.6 2.0
.109 Sam Perkins 1986 DAL 17.6 .573 .509 16.9 2.7 9.4 2.1 1.0 1.3 2.0
.116 Tom Chambers 1984 SEA 16.6 .563 .499 20.8 3.1 7.5 1.9 0.7 0.7 2.7
.118 Mitch Kupchak 1979 WSB 19.4 .588 .539 21.6 3.4 9.7 2.0 0.5 0.5 2.7
.119 Dave Robisch 1974 DNR 18.5 .538 .473 17.7 3.2 10.3 2.2 0.7 1.0 1.5
.119 Keith Van Horn 2000 NJN 18.1 .537 .478 19.9 2.6 8.7 2.0 0.8 0.8 3.2

I have to say I’m not impressed with Bosh’s list. The thing about him is that you can’t pinpoint what he’s great at. He’s a good scorer, and an OK rebounder, a good passer for his height, and possibly a sub par defender (at least by the numbers). And hence why there are lots of guys who are close in similarity who are barely All Star caliber players. Now compare him to someone else’s name that was floated around in 2010 free agent talks:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS% eFG% PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Dwyane Wade 2009 MIA 30.4 .574 .516 28.2 1.1 4.7 7.0 2.0 1.3 3.2
.188 Paul Westphal 1978 PHO 23.8 .565 .516 29.2 0.6 2.4 6.3 2.0 0.4 4.1
.283 Michael Jordan 1991 CHI 31.6 .605 .547 30.6 1.4 5.8 5.4 2.6 1.0 2.4
.292 Clyde Drexler 1990 POR 22.2 .551 .505 22.9 2.8 6.8 5.8 1.9 0.7 2.6
.333 Tracy McGrady 2007 HOU 23.2 .515 .474 24.8 0.8 5.4 6.5 1.3 0.5 3.0
.370 Grant Hill 2000 DET 24.5 .565 .501 24.7 1.3 6.4 5.0 1.3 0.6 3.1
.379 Larry Bird 1984 BOS 24.2 .552 .497 22.7 2.2 9.5 6.2 1.7 0.8 2.8
.414 Baron Davis 2007 GSW 21.0 .530 .480 20.5 0.8 4.5 8.3 2.2 0.5 3.1
.418 Sam Cassell 1997 TOT 18.4 .541 .482 20.3 1.0 3.8 6.4 1.6 0.4 3.5
.418 Ray Williams 1982 NJN 19.0 .527 .465 22.1 1.5 4.3 6.4 2.6 0.6 3.8
.469 Walter Davis 1982 PHO 18.3 .553 .525 24.2 0.6 3.1 4.9 1.4 0.1 3.4
.479 Mack Calvin 1975 DNA 19.2 .587 .486 21.1 0.5 3.1 8.3 2.0 0.1 4.1

Lots of big names on this list, albeit that aren’t very comparable. But that’s a much stronger list than Bosh’s. In the end similarity scores allow us to communicate how good a player is, by using other players. Kobe is like Jordan, but not nearly as good. Vince Carter is like Kobe, but not as good. Bosh doesn’t seem to be particularly special, and no one is even remotely like Magic Johnson.

Marbury Agonistes

I feel the crushing need to say something in this, the quietest off-season in eons, about our former prodigal son, Starbury, especially now that he’s tweeted his retirement. (of sorts)…

For those who might have missed it, back in July, our man in Coney Island first decided to broadcast himself live on Ustream for 24 consecutive hours. Here’s a partial transcript: http://nbamusings.com/marbury-24hr-transcript/

I found myself checking in from time to time over the course of that day. And honestly, it was unfathomably compelling. He argued with the cable guy. He traded barbs with fans commenting. At one point he said, “Me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me!” for what seemed like five minutes. He danced. He gave us a tour of his summer home. The “show” just followed a famous person while he had what appeared to be an uneventful Sunday at home, babbling to himself (and the thousand or so folks watching). Granted, what he said did have that particularly Steph-brand of arrogance and weirdness.

So why couldn’t I stop watching?

It wasn’t that I wanted to “catch” him doing something kaboobernuts. Though to some, dancing to “Barbie Girl” and getting a massage from his bro was crazy and Jeff Stryker-esque. I won’t even begin to delve into the social/racial/sexual politics that come full flower (pun intended) with this one. For those inclined, Kevin Arnovitz does a swell job of parsing through the homophobic nonsense and Haywood’s subsequent non-apology. (On a personal note, now I’m even gladder that Etan Thomas whupped Haywood’s ass back in the day)

Starbury’s most common declaration throughout the course of the ‘show’ was some bellowed, top-of-his-lungs variation on: “They can’t put me in a box!” The smack-you-in-the-face irony for those watching is that Marbs was trapped in that rectangular box on our desk (the computer). Plus, he didn’t leave his home – trapped again in what appeared to be a very expensive well-furnished box somewhere in the Hollywood Hills.

Ostensibly, what I assume Stephon meant was that this “unfiltered” broadcast couldn’t be edited to frame the perception of him as a person (as I assume he thought was the case with his “best PG in the NBA” comment or the infamous Bruce Beck interview). Here he’d be free to present his “true” self. The general consensus from the blogosphere was  – “See! Steph is bipolar/crazy/on drugs (the latter being semi-proven when Steph thought it might be a swell idea to tape himself hotboxiing it in an SUV: http://www.tmz.com/2009/08/14/marbury-gets-blunt-i-smoke-marijuana). As utterly foolish as that may have been from a self-marketing perspective, it’s really not a story or particularly newsworthy at all.

I can only imagine that Marbs’ thought process was: “This is the real me. I’m showing the people something real. THEY CAN’T PUT ME IN A BOX!!!!” Which I get. If you’ve ever come to see one of my plays (shameless plug: Next show in Nov!), you’ll know that the schism between the interior self (isolated, unknowable) and the public image (always contrived, false) is one of my pet memes. I think Marbs is consumed by this as well. More so than your humble correspondent because his public persona is far more public than mine. And his persona is unfortunately determined by a-holes in the sporting press who’ve decided he’s bipolar/crazy/on drugs/etc. I get the Box thing. He is in a box. It must be maddening – the notion that any private self is both non-existent and constantly available for consumption and scrutiny. The brutal irony is that this attempt to define his own existence and identity has only resulted in even more people deciding who he is.

So that’s why I couldn’t stop watching. It was heartbreaking (not in the “he’s screwing himself out of ever playing in the NBA sense). He was fighting for his very existence, his very soul.

But for those who do think Stephon has lost it, what can one actually learn from livestreams and 140-character snippets? Do I feel like I know more about N8 because he was tweeting whilst getting pulled over by the Po-Po’s? It’s just another mediated exchange – not actual human interaction (although far more compelling than the usual slew of media clichés one gets from athletes – see the seminal “Bull Durham” scene where Costner schools Nuke LaLoosh in the art of the meaningless cliché — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeVca9MwDX8 )

At the time, I just thought the scene was funny. But it makes loads more sense now. I don’t think one wants to see the athletes we spend hours pondering as ‘real’ people sharing many of our hopes, dreams, and fears. If they’re real, they can’t be heroes, gods, or legends. They’re just schmucks like the rest of us with horrible, bone-crushing, human failings and weaknesses. I’m certainly not plunking down $300 for a ticket to watch actual people with flaws try to do something inherently inane (put a leather ball in a steel ring whilst wearing shiny underwear).

We abide in our fictions…

The Remastered Michael Jordan

Two things happen this week that seem momentous but really aren’t. Except that they kind of are.

Yesterday, (when love was such an easy game to play), a remastered edition of The Beatles’ entire catalogue was released, much to the delight of millions of people who already own copies of all of their records.

On Friday, Michael Jordan (for whom Game 1 of the 1992 Finals was such an easy game to play) will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, a foregone conclusion that would have come to pass five years ago had Jordan not (temporarily) traded his golf clubs for a Wizards jersey in 2001, two years shy of becoming eligible for first ballot enshrinement.

So it is that the worlds of rock music and professional basketball turn their respective eyes to the greatest icons in their respective histories, despite the fact that neither icon has created anything new, accomplished anything unexpected, or done anything else to warrant the attention being newly heaped upon them (especially not that awful Okafor for Chandler trade). And yet, somehow, I have spent the better part of the week with the Beatles playing on my iPod and am in the midst of DVRing 9 hours of NBA TV’s Jordan marathon (including the double nickel, which I will revisit out of the masochism with which visitors to a website named KnickerBlogger should be well acquainted).

The lesson, I suppose, is that truly transcendent greatness, the kind that gets inside its observers and re-emerges as either influence or obsession, doesn’t ever stop. Icons capable of so thoroughly dominating the cultural consciousness at the height of their greatness end up defining those cultures long after that greatness subsides. Some people desperately search for excuses to revisit the experience of buying Beatles albums (Oh, the harmonies on Abbey Road sound good this time? You’re kidding!) because they want to recapture the awe they felt hearing them for the first time; other (or in some cases the same) people use Jordan’s Hall of Fame Induction as an excuse to watch 20 year old basketball games for the fifth time without seeming like they’re (completely) crazy.

We buy into contrived excuses to revisit that kind of brilliance for two reasons. The first reason is that the kind of greatness in which the Beatles and Jordan traffic is irreplicableirreplicable because no one, not the Kinks or Kobe, not Oasis or LeBron, can ever be exactly what The Beatles or Jordan were (and still are), mean exactly what The Beatles or Jordan meant (and still mean). Through their achievements and connotations (both good and bad), both have carved out places in the zeitgeist whose impact can be equalled, possibly even surpassed, but never duplicated.

The second reason we keep going back for more is that transcendent greatness is inexhaustible. Much like the second half of Abbey Road or the crescendos in A Day in the Life, Jordan’s series winning jumper over Craig Ehlo in the first round of the 1989 playoffs never stops producing goosebumps. Neither does his dunk on Ewing in the ’91 playoffs (which gives me a rare goosebumps/nausea combo), his hand-switching finish against the Lakers in that season’s Finals, the Flu Game in the ’97 finals, the ’98 title-winner over Bryon Russell, or any of a dozen other moments, each of which is, individually, made greater by awareness of the whole; in Jordan’s case, success is all the more meaningful because so few failures exist to counterbalance it (on the court, at least).

The elephant in the room here is that I am a Knicks fan and, as such, I (and most of the people visiting this site) rooted against a great many of the accomplishments that are now being aggrandized in this space. At the time, I couldn’t have imagined that some of the very moments that served to keep the Knicks titleless throughout my youth would become the moments that I held in the highest esteem little more than a decade later. But, in the end, Michael Jordan’s induction into the Hall of Fame is not only a celebration of his brilliance, but also a celebration of brilliance itself. We watch the highlights and re-read the columns and anticipate his induction speech for the same reason that the opening chords of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band continue to boost listeners’ pulses four decades after they were recorded.

Because greatness is always worth celebrating and always worth revisiting. Even if we need a dumb excuse to do it.

Congratulations to Michael Jordan from a fan base that respects you as much as it hates you. The most fitting tribute we can offer you is a comment board filled with memories of times you crushed us.