Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Crumbling Sanctuary: One year after LeDecision, some reflections on pain, promise, and a Knick fan’s penance

I knew what was coming. You knew what was coming. At that point – one year ago today – it’s conceivable both my animals knew what was coming. And they’re both pretty dumb, even for animals.

Still, I watched. We watched – 10 million of us to be exact. It felt like we had to. In the history of television, we’d never seen anything quite like this; one man single-handedly incinerate the blissfully sports-tortured souls of millions of people with such swift, icy aplomb. Anyone not named Dennis Miller, anyway. And certainly not wearing a shirt like that. That was definitely a first.

I’m taking my talents to South Beach.

We weren’t sure what was worse: the fact that he said it, or the fact that he’d planned to say it – just like that, in just that room, with just those kids from the Boys & Girls Club and just that Lake Erie city of half a million watching, a good number of whom were already five shots deep and scrambling to remember which drawer had the matches and which drawer the jersey.

Who does that?

Me too guys.

By then we all knew he wasn’t coming to New York. Hell, If my meeting with the most financially blessed franchise in the sport consisted of a cable mogul with a shitty blues band and a guy in a wheelchair, I might not have either.

It’s not about saving a franchise. It’s about winning championships.

Apparently he didn’t see the value of the challenge – the risk and reward of “rescuing” the team belonging to the game’s true city. And that’s cool.

An hour long show called The Decision? That’s not cool.

Up to that ugly point, LeBron James was my favorite athlete on the planet. And I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone. He played the game how you wanted to see it played. Forget the Jordan comparisons; I imagined this is what it must have been like for my Dad to watch Bobby Orr – a guy who, like LeBron, awed with his effortless prescience, struck like an asp, moved like a twister, and saw what very few saw, long before they saw it. Unlike Orr, LeBron’s was a level of play matched only by the almost preternatural manner in which he navigated the media.

Now this? This Superfriends bullshit? What is this? This is more awkward than that Mike Tyson-Robin Givens interview. Besides,  you were supposed to come to here! We aired 146 episodes of Chris Duhon, Floor General; lost to Dallas by like 90 points; freed up enough cap room to sign you and a buddy – whichever one you wanted! Hell, we’d have signed the other four dudes from St. Mary’s! “Sure, LeBron, they can start!” We’d have built a skyscraper/moon ladder that looked like you! Dunking! We would’ve recalled Bloomberg for no reason at all, given you the key to the safe that had the key to the city in it, and given you that too – and the safe, and the building! We would’ve given you a parade in the Canyon of Heroes and used $1000 bills as confetti! Jim Dolan would’ve stopped making music completely!

Nope. We get the guy with two papier-mâché knees and an eye that would literally fall out of his face on contact, if it weren’t for a pair of plexiglas Oakleys. A guy who’d spent the better part of his young career feuding with the coach that was now awaiting his training camp arrival. The guy’s great –don’t get me wrong. But you? Win one title, just one, and you’d have been a legend. First billionaire athlete? We’d have the New York Mint just print your own @#$%^&! money, with your face on it. More importantly, you’d have had 19 million people in the palm of your hand, like so many grains of pregame chalk dust launched skyward, suspending  but for a second on high – your floating subjects catching the thousand rafter lights and shimmering in billions as real as your dreamed-of dollars – before descending down to that cherished Garden floor. Your Floor, in Your House.

South Beach? ARE YOU #%$*&%? KIDDING ME?!?!?!

 

*              *              *              *              *              *

 

I was nine, and I wanted to be Patrick Ewing. I couldn’t isolate a particular reason why. There were, however, four I’d call cursory:

1) He was tall, and so was I.

2) I liked blue and orange.

3) His middle name is Aloysius, which is just awesome.

4) I #$@%&*^ loathed Michael Jordan.

Growing up outside of Detroit, I always liked the Pistons. Well, I liked that they routinely beat the Bulls anyway. But that’s about as far as it went. The sports contrarian in me was never much concerned with the rules of regional loyalty. I was nine, the only one in my hockey-centric family who appreciated the game. More importantly, I liked what I liked, and didn’t exactly give a rat’s ass if I was the only one who liked it. In this case, I liked this rough-and-tumble collection of big city bullies, all forearms and rebounding and gracelessness. I loved Ewing’s lumbering polish, Oakley’s shameless thuggery, Starks’s moxie and Mase’s free throw grimace. I loved staying up late to watch them on TNT, and setting my Sunday watch to the NBA on NBC. Most of all, I loved knowing they’d one day beat the Bulls and that bitch Michael Jordan.

Really thought you'd double up on the middle one.

Let’s just say I cried a lot growing up. Particularly around springtime. For three consecutive years, I watched my beloved Bockers throw every ounce of rage and effort at dethroning a Bull’s juggernaut which, by virtue of its own tortured, Piston-hindered Sisyphian struggle to the summit, had built up a genuinely terrifying head of downhill steam. I watched Jordan impale us game after game. I watched Charles Smith miss nine layups, putting a fist-sized hole in one of our pillows because of it. After addressing the carnage (mostly in my room), I’d root for the Blazers and the Suns. I watched Drexler retreat faster than his own hairline; Barkley play hung over; and Jordan swallow them both without chewing. Out of hatred grew a nauseous respect which only fed the hatred further.

And then, just like that, the dude retired. To play baseball. What? Satan doesn’t retire, and he sure as hell doesn’t retire to play baseball. He loses to the Knicks, in seven grueling games that end with Ewing hitting an 18-foot baseline turnaround. What….what is this?

The next spring, we beat them. Granted, it took a Scottie Pippen meltdown, recovering from Toni Kukoc heroics, and Michael Jordan not playing basketball. But whatever – onward and upward! The beast had been slain, even if it was a beast without its brain. Despite going seven games, the Indiana series always seemed like a forgone conclusion. It was our turn. In the Finals, we went up 3-2 – had it in the bag. Olajuwon was barbecuing Ewing, roasting him on an open flame of Dream Shakes and turnarounds and Sam Cassell kick-out threes. Didn’t matter. No way we lose two straight. The Big Fella beat him in college and he’d beat him again. Besides, after OJ and his Bronco cut short the glory of watching us go up 3-2 in Game 5, we were owed a split. We’d taken Game 2 at the Summit, and there was no reason to believe we couldn’t steal one more. And then Starks went 3-80, Olajuwon put up 55 and 20, Derek Harper led us in scoring. And it was all over. As the Game 7 horn sounded, you  could feel the window close an inch or two.

The next few years wrought with semifinal exits, by the time the strike-shortened 1998 season got under way, few thought the Knicks capable of any kind of serious run. Least of all me, who’d taken to the comforts of ’70 and ’73, and in the innumerable books that bore out the almost cosmic unity of those teams and that coach. Instead, we were made witness to the most improbable of runs – as peppered with miracles as it was ironically blessed by a battered and broken Big Fella – that brought us again to the brink. Mercifully, this one ended much more quickly and. We shouldn’t have been there in the first place. But that didn’t stop it from hurting like hell. Hakeem had gotten his ring at our expense, and now Robinson had too. And few doubted their wake would find Duncan plundering more than a few of his own.

I went off to college in 2001, the year the Knicks began their slide into sub-pedestrian doldrums. No longer television fixtures – more accurately, no longer good – I lost touch (when you have a hard time paying a monthly rent that’s less than the cost of League Pass, that’s easy to do). What did I care? There were books and girls and narcotics and awful food and liberal propaganda to consume. Sports – all sports, and saddest of all the NBA – receded from passion to something resembling habit. With PTI and SportsCenter, what else did I need? I was drawn to the college game, the only place where I could sense the spirit of those early-to-mid-90s NBA glory years — defense first, second, last. Besides, those were my peers out there, kids my age playing the game as if their lives depended on it. Which, for many of them, it absolutely did. They hadn’t made The Show yet; hadn’t been corrupted by its marketing or marred by its money. This, I thought, is basketball how it’s supposed to be played.

You guys!

As the decade ground on, I’d hear the news and read the reports, summoning sadness like a mother whose sons compel one too many police visits; the prodigal Marburys and Franchises; Howard Eisley and Shanden Anderson and Michael Sweetney and they’re still paying Allan Houston how much?; Larry Brown and the epic fail rescue mission; Zeke’s exploits doubly weird to a Detroit kid; all so devastating in their wilting of historical context that even glancing back to the good old days became a near impossible exercise. I’d defend them, or defend those good old days anyway. And I certainly couldn’t love or root for another team the way I had them, despite the bar being buried well below the basement. Even as I slowly got back into an NBA recapturing a faded glory, it was as a widower who just couldn’t move on, left with nothing save the hope of one day playing Witness to a Lazarus-like resurrection at the mercy of the one true King. Like many Knick fans, I hoped — even expected –  Godot to hop game-ready off the Penn Station train, wearing #6.

 

*              *              *              *              *              *

 

There’s a picture of Amar’e Stoudemire, either right before or after inking his mammoth 5-year, one-tenth of a billion dollar deal. He’d just arrived at MSG, wearing a gray near-seersucker suit and requisite token logo cap. He stands there, all seven feet of wingspanability outreached, a castoff king’s embrace of Camelot. Spirited away for a media baptism, the man who would soon seek out Hebrew roots took the podium and delivered a stanza harkening his once and future people’s pained returns.

The Knicks are back.

Like a forensics agent prying up Gacy’s crawlspace, Donnie Walsh had been brought in to sort out a pile of bodies as bloated as the contracts many of them had signed. It took some truly goofy rosters and putrid basketball, but Walsh eventually succeeded in at least one tenant of his multi-pronged plan: getting the Knicks far enough under the cap to sign not one, but two max contract players. We had the room, we had the city, we had the media and the nightlife and anything else a topflight player would want. But we also had something few of them would want: the pressure. Ultimately, it was too much for LeBron, who stumbled on the wise truth that beaches and bikinis were a lot easier to deal with than bad weather and beat reporters. Instead, we got this flawed superstar, from Orlando by way of the Arizona desert. He dressed like LeBron; he exuded confidence like LeBron; in shades, he even looked a bit like LeBron. But he certainly didn’t talk or act like him.

The Knicks are back.

We wanted to believe him. Not since Starbury’s prodigal return had a Knick signing garnered so much attention, and so much scrutiny. Like Stephon, Stoudemire was a top-flight talent – no doubt about that. But he also came with his fair share of baggage, in the form of two uninsurable knees and an eye injury that could’ve half-blinded him, had he not laid on his back, eyes closed, for 10 straight days (3 minute mark). His sieve defense was well-documented, as was his feast or famine rebounding. Still, the combination of seven All-Star appearances and relative Playoff success sort of spoke for itself. He wanted his own challenge, the chance to show the world the terrifying tandem he formed with Steve Nash was more than a clever puppet show. The money was certainly a factor. The models probably weren’t too far behind. But the fact is he was here, in the city, seemingly loving every second of it. With Marbury, you got the sense that he dreaded the pressure of it all, of coming home to rescue a city his shoulders just couldn’t brace. And there’s the rub: Marbury acted like he had to do it; Stoudemire, like he wanted to.

The Knicks are back.

Here's the keys. Just don't crash it into a tree, okay?

The Decision was a watermark moment, not just for Cleveland and Miami and the whole NBA, but for countless fans as well. Including me.  When the most talented player on the planet — the quintessential “tell your grandchildren” guy — pulls off something that coldly contrived, you can’t help but seriously reevaluate what it is, exactly, that draws you to the game. In my case, the instinct was retreat into a crumbling sanctuary; the façade still scarred, the lane paint inexplicably orange. But that made it all the more right. The past pains, laughingstock doldrums, bad monies after bad – at least it was pure. It was real. It’s where I should’ve been all along.

Hundreds in jerseys, hats, tickets and League Pass later, I rest easier. Sure, I felt somewhat dirty, somewhat guilty — like a Catholic who spends 7 years in a Satanist temple’s cocaine sandbox before lurching back into the St. Paul’s pew. Does that make me a fair weather fan? I suppose it does. If .500 basketball is fair weather. What matters is that it felt right — the shwag a pithy penance for too many years distanced in both pride and emotion from the one sports-related thing that mattered growing up — as much as sports related things can truly “matter”, anyway. That’s how powerful The Decision was. In the wake of such monstrous disloyalty, there’s only one reasonable response for someone confronted with their own absenteeism: go home, and stay there.

Contrastingly (and more importantly), that’s how rapturously adrenaline-pumping Stoudemire’s arrival was. We knew it would likely come at the expense of David Lee, who’d managed to salvage the frailest of franchise dignity precisely because his was a game reflective of Bocker squads past. Stoudemire, by comparison, was the future. How big a window that future will allow, is anyone’s guess — as is whether the gutting-dependent acquisition of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billup will serve to shorten or extend it. Assuming there is a next season, it’s safe to say another 42-40 mark won’t be met with the same hopeful praise; the first time in a long time that’s been the case.

One promising regular season and disheartening playoff sweep on, the clock ticks still. Down in Miami, the guy who first raised the stakes, igniting as many dormant fans as the now numbed in Cleveland did his effigies, stares at the same clock. For the next half-decade, these two old nemeses — bound by blood and brawls and 1-95 and little else — will see their legacies take shape. For the recently vanquished Heat, burdened as they are by the weight of their own absurd predictions, time is far from free; the clock hands more and more pride’s pickpocket.

As for the now four decades dry Knicks and their faithful followers, today’s joy lies in simply watching the hands move forward.

46 comments on “A Crumbling Sanctuary: One year after LeDecision, some reflections on pain, promise, and a Knick fan’s penance

  1. adrenaline98

    Damn I like your writing Jim. Excellent piece. I actually feel pretty much exactly as you described. Really have nothing to add or any other further sentiments.

    Excellent piece all around. I was born in 1980 and literally can remember every distinct moment of the 90s high to the mid-2k lows.

  2. Jim Cavan Post author

    Thanks man. I wish I’d watched more of the painful lows. Might’ve kept me off the ‘delics.

  3. adrenaline98

    It’s a shame for every Knick high since 73, there have been an equal low. Still have not had that high through the off-season.

  4. Jim Cavan Post author

    Thanks BBA. Fun to reminisce… although it reminded me how close I came a year ago today to running over my television with my lawnmower.

  5. BigBlueAL

    I know Im in the minority when it comes to the people who comment here but Im super excited for the next few years and am looking forward to watching the Melo/Amar’e Knicks.

    Im not one who the day LeBron signed with the Heat cursed and screamed because it meant the Knicks were doomed to not winning it all for the next 10 years or whatever. Ditto after the Melo trade when most here talked about the trade dooming the Knicks for the next decade.

    Maybe because Im just a huge Yankees fan as well and can always rely on them to give me championship aspirations every year I can handle the Knicks merely being a solid playoff team with only a puncher’s chance of having playoff success. After what we have been through the last 10 years Im more than fired up that next season whenever it begins like Jim said a season of barely finishing over .500 and just making the playoffs will be a disappointment. I fully expect this team regardless of what moves they make to win close to 50 games and have a legitimate chance at winning a playoff round or 2 next season.

    Melo and Amar’e have their flaws and are probably a bit overrated by the national media but again after being the laughingstock of the NBA since Isiah took over and having no real marketable/respected players leading this team Im more than happy having Melo and Amar’e as the faces of this franchise right now.

    Of course if they get swept again in the 1st round next season I will change my tune a bit :-)

  6. Z-man

    Amen, BBA. Nice work, Jim.

    Sorry to hear the news about The Hammer, good player and good guy, an enforcer-type with a great smile. Like The Pistol, went out hoopin’.

  7. Jim Cavan Post author

    Thanks for the kind words guys — they really do mean a lot.

    I have an open question: If the top 10 or so NBA players, be that in terms of salary or revenue generation or whatever, decided to go en masse to Europe and / or Turkey… the lockout would be over yesterday, right? Or would the owners refuse to budge?

  8. latke

    Jim, nice work on the article. I too fell in love with the Knicks at the same time, although I can’t say I was upset when Lebron went another direction. I always saw him as completely lacking in humility and self-awareness. Additionally, bringing lebron in seemed more like winning the lottery than earning your millions. We didn’t deserve lebron. We’d made too many awful decisions as a franchise. Redemption shouldn’t be so easily earned.

    If anything, his time in Miami has softened me to him a bit, as for the first time he’s had to face a bit that he’s not the center of the universe, that not everything he touches turns to gold. I felt like after they finally beat boston, he spoke honestly. He had been through real trauma, and that made his success more meaningful than it might have been were he to have stayed in Cleveland and accomplished the same thing.

    As far as your question, I think what this “exodus,” if it ever gets to the scale that it deserves that name, is a means of calling ownership’s bluff. Certainly, the teams that are making money will be made very nervous by it. However, if so many teams are truly losing money, I’m not sure if it’s going to make a difference.

    I don’t understand the appeal of a hard cap when the current system already has a hard line in terms of player earnings. The current system rewards teams for making smart long term decisions. Under the new system, if I discover a diamond in the rough, he’s going to be a FA soon after and is going to earn a salary equal to his contributions. Without bird rights, I may not be able to keep that player. The reward for my brilliance is much smaller.

    I feel like it’s just a boogie man that the owners are threatening the players with. THey don’t care about a hard cap, but if they act like they do then eventually take it off the table, it reads like a concession. If I was the players, I’d be like “fine. We’ll have a hard cap as long as we get our fair share of the…

  9. Z

    Jim– awesome piece! Too bad no one is around to read it :(

    And since no one is around to read the comments either, I’ll post a random piece of NBA related trivia I just stumbled upon: Did y’all know that the band Pearl Jam originally called themselves Mookie Blaylock?

  10. rooster_douglas

    Great Article. One of my favs ever on KB. Just off the Gold Standard Bob Silverman set with his farewell to Gallo…. Man I miss the rooster.

  11. d-mar

    Great read, Jim. Keep up the good work.

    I know this is completely off the subject and on the wrong blog, but I am just in awe of how perfect the life of Derek Jeter is. I can imagine the god of baseball coming to him and saying:

    “Now Derek, You’ve led a pretty charmed life, but it appears you’re getting close to your 3000th hit, any requests?” and Jeter replying, “yes, here they are”:

    -a perfect cloudless day at the stadium, not too hot or humid
    - I go 5 for 5 and knock in the go ahead run
    - I hit a home run to left field for number 3000
    - The Yankees win

    The god of baseball’s reply “c’mon Derek, that’s just ridiculous, try again”

  12. The Sominator

    Great Article Jim!

    On a sidenote about the guy that caught DJ’s 3000 hit, I went to school (St. Lawrence University) with Christian Lopez (or as we called him C-Lo). Dude was a football benchwarmer and was quite boisterous (in a good way though). I never would have expected that he would return Jeter’s ball. But I honestly feel that would’ve served him better since he can use his new connections to get a better job than compared to his verizon cellphone sales position. This is more valuable and wise on his part since I do not believe his fortunes would’ve lasted too long when he returns to the reservation IF he sold Jeter’s ball. In this case, he would’ve been a wanted man in his tribe.

    Back to the Knicks. LeBum broke my heart. I grew up watching the Knicks during Ewing’s waning days as a Knick. I actually fell in love with the Knicks as a 6 year-old first generation american watching H20 draining 3′s. I will never like a player who does not bleed orange and blue but are yet in a knicks uniform. I appreciate Amar’e’s decision to join the Knicks. I really hope he plays 65+ games per season for the remainder of his contract. But he is the catalyst for (hopefully) a decorated Knicks future.

  13. BigBlueAL

    d-mar:
    Great read, Jim. Keep up the good work.

    I know this is completely off the subject and on the wrong blog, but I am just in awe of how perfect the life of Derek Jeter is. I can imagine the god of baseball coming to him and saying:

    “Now Derek, You’ve led a pretty charmed life, but it appears you’re getting close to your 3000th hit, any requests?” and Jeter replying, “yes, here they are”:

    -a perfect cloudless day at the stadium, not too hot or humid
    - I go 5 for 5 and knock in the go ahead run
    - I hit a home run to left field for number 3000
    - The Yankees win

    The god of baseball’s reply “c’mon Derek, that’s just ridiculous, try again”

    You left out the part where he gets to celebrate tonight with Minka Kelly.

  14. KnickFanInCelticLand

    The Sominator: Great Article Jim!Back to the Knicks. LeBum broke my heart… I actually fell in love with the Knicks as a 6 year-old first generation american watching H20 draining 3?s. I will never like a player who does not bleed orange and blue but are yet in a knicks uniform. I appreciate Amar’e’s decision to join the Knicks. I really hope he plays 65+ games per season for the remainder of his contract. But he is the catalyst for (hopefully) a decorated Knicks future.

    I found out about LeBum in a different way as I was on vacation in rural Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. I saw it several days after the fact on a public internet site. Surprised? Yes. Hate? No. Mountains, ocean, and great weather have a moderating effect on emotions. Ledecision made even more sense when I found out that he and Wade were such good friends.

    When I was entering Masters division in running (my sport) here in New England, several teams recuited me. Several well financially backed teams offered packages that included free shoes, free gear, and travel reimbursement. However, I went with a weak team that offered me no perks at all. Why? A man that I highly respected and was friends with was on that team. The perks offered by the wealthy teams would not impact my lifestyle. As a footnote, a third local running star joined my new team. We filled out the roster with role playing running specialists that the well to do teams missed and managed to steal a New England Championship from the rich teams.
    For this reason, I do hold out hope for CP3 joining his two friends in NY. 20 Mil? 12 Mil? Doesn’t really change your lifestyle. Besides, he’ll get it back in spades if they win a ring from other income sources…and firsthand experience tells me that championships are more rewarding when you win them with your friend.

  15. SeeWhyDee77

    lol…awesome article. Being a die hard knick fan that remembers loathing the Bulls (and still loathing them), remembers reveling in the physical D Gerald Wilkins played on Jordan (who still lit him up..but didn’t Jordan once say Dumars and Wilkins played the toughest D on him), remembers screaming like a madman after “the dunk”, and remembers screaming like a madman in pure disgust for Charles Smith. I now have those same feelings for LBJ..not because of the decision. He should have been a Knick, it would have been better for his career on and off the court. But I have the same hate/love/respect relationship as a fan for him as I do with Kobe, MJ, Shaq, and Bird. Hate it when those guys tear into ur team, but love to watch them play regardless. But with Bron, it’s a lil different. Not only did he make a spectacle about his move, but he arrogantly assumed the bad guy role (which feels like disrespect the way he did it) and then choked..epically. Not to mention the trash talk and the “u hafta go back to ur lives comment”. Although I get what he was trying to say, but it came out all wrong. Anyway..b4 I bungee..I wanna say this becuz I think quite a few fans on KB are actually from NY. I’m from MD..I’m a Mets fan..I hate the Yankees. But respect is respect. How awesome was it that El Capitan crushed a homer for his 3000th?? Pure poetry. U gotta love a story like that. Homie was not even a high draft pick. but he worked and grinded..now look at him. 1st ballot hall of famer no question. And when history looks back at the greatest players of all time-regardless of position-it will remember Jeets fondly. hats of to Jeter, huh? I only hope our Knicks can develop half the work ethic he has…

  16. Doug

    @18 I like everything you said. One small thing – Jete was the #6 pick overall in the draft. He’s one of the few high draft picks the Yankees have ever gotten to use.

  17. SeeWhyDee77

    Doug:
    @18 I like everything you said. One small thing – Jete was the #6 pick overall in the draft. He’s one of the few high draft picks the Yankees have ever gotten to use.

    o crap..for some reason I thought he was much lower. Thanx..well umm still..dude worked for every inch of his career..still a great story. (geez u can tell I’m not a yankees fan huh? lol) Somehow I got his story mixed up with Mike Piazza who DOESN’T have anywhere near 3k hits..but is still hall of fame worthy. Lol..wow how do u confuse Piazza with Jeter? I must have “mistakenly” dunped vodka in my morning coffee.
    Side note..I read on espn.com that the Sixers are making Speights available. That’s a guy I would love to have on the team..as a back up to a more defensive minded 5. If Turiaf could stay healthy and play 20 mpg, I think we could survive with those 2 at the center spot.

  18. Z-man

    SeeWhyDee77: Side note..I read on espn.com that the Sixers are making Speights available. That’s a guy I would love to have on the team..as a back up to a more defensive minded 5. If Turiaf could stay healthy and play 20 mpg, I think we could survive with those 2 at the center spot.

    I brought this up in the last thread. If we could get him on the cheap, he’d be a good gamble.

  19. Doug

    @22 haha! Piazza is the complete opposite – 29th or 30th round or something. The odds of pulling an HOF from that spot is basically one in a billion.

  20. Spree8nyk8

    Beautifully written Jim. I did kinda wish while I was reading it that there could be a section about Amar’e that didn’t overexaggerate his injuries. It may have just been poetic license to fit the piece and honestly I know that I’m probably nitpicking. But the guy hurt his knee like 4 years ago and hasn’t really missed games d/t knee problems, same with the eye. I mean the guy had two horrific injuries but since then he’s been a workhorse. And honestly, he’s pretty durable. I think it’s horrible that he has this fragile reputation. But other than that, the piece was great.

  21. Frank

    d-mar:

    I know this is completely off the subject and on the wrong blog, but I am just in awe of how perfect the life of Derek Jeter is. I can imagine the god of baseball coming to him and saying:

    “Now Derek, You’ve led a pretty charmed life, but it appears you’re getting close to your 3000th hit, any requests?” and Jeter replying, “yes, here they are”:

    -a perfect cloudless day at the stadium, not too hot or humid
    - I go 5 for 5 and knock in the go ahead run
    - I hit a home run to left field for number 3000
    - The Yankees win

    The god of baseball’s reply “c’mon Derek, that’s just ridiculous, try again”

    Uh, you forgot the most important one – Minka Kelly waiting for him at home also.

    Re: the NBA stars going to Europe/abroad – this is all bluster IMO. It’s one thing to go abroad and play a tournament for a week or 2, like the Olympics or the World Championships. It’s the same thing to go on vacation to wherever. It’s a whole other thing to go and live there for a year or two or three and to uproot your family into a country that doesn’t speak English, has a completely different culture, and where there are zero black people (since most of the stars are black). Maybe one or two guys could do it and have it be a good experience, but for the most part, these guys have been surrounded by their entourages their whole lives – I sort of doubt that most of them would be HAPPY there. Maybe they could do it, but they wouldn’t be happy. Most of us wouldn’t be happy.

    The other thing – once you leave the NBA, you become invisible in the US. Sure people will still sort of follow Kobe if he plays in China, but they are a 12 hour time difference away.

    I sort of see why the players are attempting this, but it seems pretty transparent to me. I’ll be seriously surprised if D-Will ever plays a game out there.

  22. Jim Cavan Post author

    @Spree

    It was just rhetorical bluster, or a reflection of what a lot of people’s actual concerns were vis-a-vis Amare’s knees. I personally think (knocking on the oldest tree within sight) that he’ll hold up just fine going forward. Obviously, having entered the league at 19, his are tires that have quite a bit of wear and tear already. But he’s already shown the ability to adjust his game to the ever so slight loss of athleticism…. But yeah, I was just being hyperbolic.

  23. SeeWhyDee77

    Thomas B.:
    http://search.espn.go.com/the-next-round:-chandler,-fields/

    Have you guys seen this?

    Yup..loved some of the exchanges. Especially the “Amar’e said ‘I’m ready for a 30 yr lockout’” and “sounds like Knicks to me”. Believe me Landry..we all feel the same way..but Chandler’s gonna cash in after winning this title…we can only wish that he doesn’t mind taking less to turn another team’s defense around to win a title. Dallas is old and with OKC and a pissed off Kobe lurking out west, I don’t really think Dallas has as good a opportunity to win next season. Not to mention Portland, Memphis and even Denver and a sure to improve Clips team just waiting for a door to open. After watching that, I am convinced that NY is the greatest city to play sports in. It has made Landry a star without being a star player. His charisma and early season play as a 2nd round rookie didn’t hurt either lol. I’m looking for a massive improvement in Fields whenever the season starts. Have u heard his comments on why he’s not considering goin overseas? I’m pretty sure he knows he would make more money over there. Ya gotta love this kid.

  24. Z

    Frank: where there are zero black people…I’ll be seriously surprised if D-Will ever plays a game out there.

    Williams did manage to play six years in Salt Lake City!

  25. Brian Cronin

    I swear, I spend most of my time here just clearing up spam nowadays. I spent, like, 20 minutes yesterday banning certain IP addresses. Today, my efforts caught 800 spam comments just today!!!! And yet five new ones got by me. I banned them, too. Let us see how long I can hold off the storm!

  26. Brian Cronin

    We have an automatic filter, but spammers are sneaky enough to get past them, so you have to adapt to each one individually. Since my last comment we only had one spam comment get through, which is a big improvement, so I think the strategy of just shutting down a ton of IPs is working for now.

  27. SeeWhyDee77

    Jim Cavan:
    Totally out there on Jupiter, but I couldn’t not share this…

    http://blogs.thescore.com/tbj/2011/07/11/red-headed-stepchild-twitter-superstar/

    How good was a healthy Arenas, huh? He’s problee the biggest reason why everybody is so worried about the Stat’s knees/contract combo. That and the whole H20 fiasco. At least he still has his personality lol. Anyone remember tha Hibachi days? LMAO, if I were Kobe and the guy lightin me up was yellin Hibachi after every shot, i’d be pissed too.

  28. latke

    Brian Cronin:
    We have an automatic filter, but spammers are sneaky enough to get past them, so you have to adapt to each one individually. Since my last comment we only had one spam comment get through, which is a big improvement, so I think the strategy of just shutting down a ton of IPs is working for now.

    Doesn’t the site require email activation to make an account? If so, that’s crazy that so many still get through.

  29. Brian Cronin

    You’d be amazed at what you can program bots to do. I believe there’s a good video somewhere on the internet that shows you, step by step, how bots created spam accounts – including registering e-mails so that they can comment on sites. And it’s all done by a program!!

    As for us, I have no idea why we’re being hit so especially hard recently.

  30. Frank

    Amazingly, Ric Bucher actually wrote a good article about the so-called (and to me, obviously fake) NBA player exodus to Europe:

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/6764023/nba-ric-bucher-perils-going-europe

    It’s insider though. He basically interviews Josh Childress who says essentially that players that have big guarantees or are approaching free agency would be crazy to go there, and that the “star mentality” that all these guys have been part of since AAU ball is non-existent there – and that NBA players would struggle with that.

    Meanwhile, reading Zach Lowe’s piece on the best available PGs in FA (http://tinyurl.com/66ctezk) – he ranks Stuckey as #1. Is it just me, or does Shumpert seem to be quite Stuckey-like? Both are big PG-vs combo-guard-types with shaky outside shots, excellent athleticism, and good defense. Would have been interesting to see what sort of stats Shumpert would have put up if playing at Eastern Washington instead of the ACC.

  31. Z-man

    If anyone is alive out there, there’s an excellent all-star game on from the early 80′s.

  32. Z-man

    It’s the 1985 game, with Bird, Magic, Kareem, Isiah, Jordan, Moses, Bernard, Hakeem, Sampson, Dr. J, among others.

  33. Jim Cavan Post author

    Z-man:
    If anyone is alive out there, there’s an excellent all-star game on from the early 80?s.

    YES!

  34. James

    “he ranks Stuckey as #1. Is it just me, or does Shumpert seem to be quite Stuckey-like? Both are big PG-vs combo-guard-types with shaky outside shots, excellent athleticism, and good defense. Would have been interesting to see what sort of stats Shumpert would have put up if playing at Eastern Washington instead of the ACC.”

    I don’t see it. I think Shumpert’s a better athlete than Stuckey who is only a slightly better than average one for me and will be a better defender. He’s also not nearly the shotmaker that Stuckey is.

    I like Shumpert and I like him better than Singleton because while both are plus defenders with shaky, inefficient offensive games, at least Shumpert brings ball handling and playmaking to the table that Singleton doesn’t. What really baffled me about Shumpert in college though was how often he cut off drives in order to shoot off balance mid-range jumpers. He would get free on a pick and have an opening to the hoop, an opening an athlete and ball handler of his caliber should have seized upon to challenge a big man and either score or get to the line. Yet consistently Shumpert chose to take a flashy mid-range jumper in the face of clanks galore.

    On the one hand, Shumpert’s awful shot selection could mean he has a stubborn basketball personality and might never improve. He could be the bad version of Larry Hughes. On the other hand, how much was his continued bad shot selection a reflection of bad coaching? Paul Hewitt absolutely qualifies as a bad coach who doesn’t rein in players or run a tight, coherent system. It’s on the player too but it’s possible with better coaching and mandates to attack the rim that his potential could be unlocked, not to an all-star level but to become a key rotation player.

  35. Z-man

    Shumpert is a very solid FT shooter, which is very promising. He is not going to be allowed to chuck up off-the-dribble contested fall-aways like he did time and time again at GT. I really think he is gonna turn out to be a good offensive player if he takes the same shots that Fields took this year. He might develop along the lines of WC, but has better form to start with.

  36. SeeWhyDee77

    RE: Shump..I really think that his bad shot selection is due to the lack of shot makers he’s played with. Favors never really was what he was “supposed” to be his 1 season at GT…and when he left Shump was all they had left. The only difference between Shumpert in HS and Shumpert in college is..the shots went in in HS and he passed more in college. I think even a lax coach like D’Antoni can rein him in and get him to play more efficiently simply because he has Stat and Melo to take the shots..and Billups. If Shump just falls in line to the pecking order, his game will immediately improve. His shot will also improve once he stops being forced to take bad shots. He does need to attack the rim more often though. But i’m not too worried about him, he’ll develop nicely.

  37. Z-man

    One other thing I like (from the highlights, fwiw) is his comfort level going left. Although he doesn’t seem particularly explosive, with his size, athleticism and handle, he should be able to attack the rim with either hand.

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