Cheap Shot Theater

I’ll certainly admit that the life of the sports columnist can be pretty difficult. It’s hard to think of interesting things to write about constantly, but really, far too often, you’ll see columnists churn out basically what I call “cheap shot columns,” where they just play to their audience’s pre-conceived notions, and tear down players and general managers and coaches/managers because they know it’ll be easy and most of their audience will be receptive to their views.

Occasionally, I figure I’ll point some out when I see them.

Today, Adrian Wojnarowski had one such column over at Yahoo! Sports. Read it for yourself here.

Wojnarowski opens with the delightfully brilliant assertion that Stephon Marbury is a “loser.” One of the biggest losers in basketball history, according to Wojnarowski. He goes on to make the brilliant insight that Stephon Marbury is not as good of a player as Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd and Vince Carter.

Do not get me wrong. As everyone here knows, Marbury has looked like a shade of his former self. But that’s not what Wojnarowski is complaining about. No, he is saying things like…

So now, Marbury is feigning confusion over Thomas’ pass-first directives, the way he did under the deposed Larry Brown. Somehow, he doesn’t understand his coach’s orders unless it includes 20 shots a night for him.

Next to the whole “he’s a loser” canard, that was Wojnarowski’s biggest cheap shot.

I understand he wants to grab attention, but how much harder would it have been to just rip Marbury for good, logical reasons? The guy’s having a terrible year. If you want to write a column saying so, then that’s fine by me. So, if you have that already, why make up stuff?

There’s your Cheap Shot Theater for today.

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31 thoughts to “Cheap Shot Theater”

  1. Marbury is not a loser, he is a poor defensive player, and he is not as good as Jason Kidd, but i’d sure rather have him than nobody. He stayed within his role that game, and although he was clearly frustrated, thats going to happen because hes having a terrible start to the season. I’ve always said and will continue to believe, if the knicks are to win alot of games it will be with Stephon Marbury.

  2. I don’t think he’s a “loser” (a word that means nothing in terms of basketball, and in terms of life he’s clearly a winner), but I don’t think it’s possible to build a championship caliber team that includes Marbury in the starting lineup.

  3. Yeah…isn’t it possible that Marbury’s just not playing well? The whole “loser” business was relevant when he was dropping 20 and 8 on bad teams. Now he’s just not very good.

  4. Exactly – that’s what is so weird about this.

    There are so many things to rip Marbury on this year, so why INVENT things to rip him over?

  5. He’s a loser because he sits on the bench and sulks with a towel on his head and doesn’t chear on his teammates.

  6. Despite his tendency to occasionally bury himself with his words, I feel sorry for Marbury. The guy did used to be a genuinely good/very good player but he gets ripped for everything. The main criticism of him has been that “every team he leaves gets better”. Yeah, well, when you get replaced by Terrell Brandon, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash, there’s a good chance that will happen. It saddens me that people like this dickhead author look at the shell he has been the last 12 months or so and conclude that this is what he’s always been.

  7. Loser? That’s harsh, but he’s definately not a winner. Not yet. And if you’re not a winner, you must be a …

  8. A couple guys that aren’t going to get tagged with loser are Lee and Balkman. Extremely impressed with how they carried themselves last night against my Bulls. Their on-court attitude is distinctly different from Marbury and Francis, neither of whom I think are losers. Petulant, yes, losers, no. Looks to me like the Knicks have a whole lot to work with. Need a coach, though.

  9. In life is Marbury a loser? Obviously not – the guy’s a millionaire.

    On the court is he a loser? I’d argue he is. He is unwilling (unable?) to alter his playing style from game to game according to what the team needs. He may do this for a handful of games, but never over the long haul ? which is what winners* do.

    *see Lee, David

  10. Marbury has never won anything since high school, never been able to get past the first round of the playoffs, and every team he has left has gone on to be better. Sorry but face it he’s a loser. He is the definition a a “me-first” player who has sulked his entire time here. He is a coach killer, who really only cares about himself.

  11. I think the season thus far has proven that Stephon Marbury was whom the Knicks should have dealt and focused on getting out of the organization. For the Knicks to have tried to balk on what they were obligated to pay Larry Brown was indicative of the front office mindset but now Isaiah must deal with an ineffective Marbury and watch him as he sets on the pine in th4th quarter because he cant produce or be accountable . wow that was harsh; apologies

  12. As much as I hate Larry Brown, he was right.

    The truth of the matter is that with this imbalanced roster it is tough to win. With the max contract that he has he is basically forced to play.

    Brown did give us a small present in the form of Francis.

    Personally I think that it is time to trade Marbury for anyone.

    Meaning Marbury has x # of years on his contract and we should trade him for pennies on the dollar for someone who has x-1 years on their contract.

    At least Francis is trying. Marbury has stopped trying.

  13. I’m not a Wojnarowski fan at any time — and you’re right about Marbury being an easy target especially with the “never won anything” line.

    On the other hand, he has a good point about max contracts. Players like KMart should never get max contracts from any sensible GM. And Isiah has definitely been the All-Time King of taking on bad max contracts. Marbury, Francis, Penny, Jalen… Like he says — you give out a max contract, you’re making a committment to build your team around that player for X number of years. We are now stuck building a team around Marbury and Francis for at least two more years…whether we like it or not.

    Marbury is completely untradeable at this point unless it’s for another bad max out contract with a longer term (e.g., KMart). This would be a terrible move, but it has been Isiah’s MO since he got here — trade one bad max out for another bad max out that is even longer than the one you already have — so don’t rule it out entirely. Fortunately, I think even Dolan has caught onto this now.

    As I said in the other thread, for all the bashing LB took this summer…we are now 5-11 just like last year…we are on pace to win 25 games…Marbury is in the coach’s doghouse…Marbury is taking heat for his inability to play within the system…Marbury is getting benched and sulking. All I can think is: “It’s deja vu all over again.”

    So was it LB, or is it really Marbury? Right now, I would be giving the “Franchise” (bad knees and all) the key minutes at the point and trying to find a way to get Mardy more PT. We were all talking about not giving up on the 23 year old Curry the other day — and I agree. But I am pretty close to giving up on the 29 year old Marbury.

  14. I don’t think Marbury is a loser because he’s actually trying to do what (he thinks) is expected of him. Despite the miserable sulking, he’s trying. But, without his scoring he’s just not a very good point guard because of his poor passing abilities. And unfortunately he’s not much of a shooting guard either, since he’s never had to catch and shoot.

    His biggest problem is that he can’t pass it into tight spots or the post. Point guard are expected to be able to do that, but Marbury’s passing into the post is painful to watch. It takes him so much time to release the ball, because he has to measure it so carefully.

    You can’t really blame it on Curry, either, because he’s improved his ability to get position in the post and has great hands. You figure passing it to him wouldn’t be too hard. But, for Marbury it is. And I don’t think it’s because Marbury is worried the ball won’t come out of the post if he does pass it to Curry. Instead, Marbury has been content making the easier (but less effective) pass around the perimeter.

    I wish Isiah would incorporate more pick and rolls for Marbury. That was when he was most effective as a Knick. The simple Marbury pick and roll with Frye, Doleac and Van Horn (to name a few) was pretty darn effective.

    I think he’s totally gone mental, really. He just can’t find a balance in his game. He’s trying to follow the game plan, but isn’t understanding how.

    On the brighter side, Marbury’s defensive effort is, in general, much improved. He still can get stuck flat-footed, but he’s become a much tighter defender and seems to be taking some pride in it.

  15. Marbury’s defense is admirable. But Curry has good hands? Since when? I feel like I end up shouting “butterfingers” two or three times a game when he turns the ball over to a double team or lets an easy rebound slip out of his fingers or be picked off by another player.

  16. I’m not saying Curry’s isn’t a turnover machine. Once he puts it the ball on the floor or has to fight for a 50/50 rebound, I agree, it’s not pretty. But I think that has more to do with his head than hands. He’s amazing at catching alley-oop passes, and he receives the pass into the post well. His turnovers seem to happen after he’s received the ball and has to do something. Hopefully, he’ll improve his decision-making once he has the ball in his hands. Either way, Isiah seems intent on force-feeding Curry (and for the last two games there have been positive results).

    The bigger point is that Marbury’s poor post passing simply isn’t helping matters. Nor is Marbury’s inability to grasp or fit in to “The Quick”. And, I don’t think Marbury is “feigning” it, like Wojnarowski implies. Despite his efforts to change, I really think Marbury’s frustrated and just doesn’t get it. It doesn’t make him a “loser”. That’s way too harsh. A loser doesn’t bother to try or do what the coaches ask of them, and I believe (maybe naively) that Marbury actually is trying despite the lack of results.

    Either way, the Knicks are stuck with Marbury so I hope he comes around and can put a smile on his face every once in a while.

    As for writers taking cheap shots, I think it’s just lazy writing and a lack of analysis. In 15 reply posts here, there is probably more knowledge and thought about Marbury’s game then you ever actually read in the papers (or the big web sites). Wojnarowski must’ve not had anything original to write because I feel like I’ve read that article a dozen different times.

  17. Simmons is more of a comedian than a sports writer. He doesn’t really provide anything intelligent — he just tries to complain as loud as he can. He’s kind of like the Lewis Black of sports writers. I must admit, his Knicks breakdown is actually pretty funny…in a train wreck sort of way. Come one you have to admit — this is a pretty good line:

    “Most interesting subplot: An unhappy Chris Webber getting benched in crunch time for two straight weeks and going public with his unhappiness, followed by the Sixers basically telling him, “Look, we can’t trade you, you make $20 million a year and you run with a limp, even Isiah won’t return our calls for God’s sake.”

  18. that happened to have been an excellent article with a good main point. obviously much of his shtick is humor but he is well informed

  19. “So now, Marbury is feigning confusion over Thomas? pass-first directives, the way he did under the deposed Larry Brown. Somehow, he doesn?t understand his coach?s orders unless it includes 20 shots a night for him.”

    This quote is totally true as evidenced by his 0 shot attempt game. This is a classic form of passive resistance. For example, as a teenage I was chopping wood. My father and I had an argument about how to do it and he told me to chop it into smaller pieces. I got angry and chopped one log in to 100’s of tiny pieces. “I’m just trying to do what you told me.”

    There are only 3 alternatives here:

    1) Believe Marbury’s spin that he took 0 shots (the only time in his decade long career) because he couldn’t find any opportunities.

    2) Marbury is so stupid and rigid that any attempt by his coaches to adjust his game causes his brain to lock up.

    3) Marbury is acting acting out like a spoiled baby.

    I go with 3. Marbury wants to win, but only on his terms. Just witness him sulking on the bench while his teammates make a comeback. But, if you prefer to think he is stupid like miike, that’s fine too, but cancer vs. stupid vs. loser vs. confused is simply parsing the language of failure.

  20. Loser – see Marbury
    Winner – see J. Kidd

    The difference in the two is that every time down the court Kidd’s mission is to enable his team to score – anyway, anyhow. If necessary he will even have to do it himself. Marbury seems to believe it’s his responsibility to score, and if he can’t do it, throw the ball to someone else so maybe they can.

    Kidd relishes the art of setting up a teammate to look awesome.
    Marbury loves to make the basket.

    Kidd truly would not mind if he had a triple zero but helped the team win the game.
    Marbury “says” he doesn’t mind having poor stats as long as the team wins. I don’t believe it.

    Kidd loves to win.
    Marbury loves score.

    Kidd understands the art of basketball. Marbury is a very athletic and talented guy who doesn’t have the mental mindset to be an ultimate winner.

    Marbury and me have one thing in common. Neither of us will ever win an NBA championship, regardless of who you teamed us up with.

    With a good big man, Kidd would be wearing a championship ring.

  21. I like Simmons I just get tired of him constantly taking pleasure in the Knicks misfortunes. He is funny but its like going to a comedy club, everyone laughs but the poor guy in front that the comedians making fun of. Well as a Knick fan I’m sick of being that guy.

  22. Yeah, I have no problem with Simmons’ piece. He wasn’t pretending to offer up actual analysis like Wojnarowski was, he was just trying to make jokes.

  23. More than “loser,” I’d just say Marbury can’t fit his skills in with other players to form a winning team. Now that there’s finally someone DEMANDING that he do something other than pound nails and penetrate, and there’s no way to just get rid of him, and no meanie coach for him to blame, Marbury’s lack of ability to do anything but that is being exposed for all the world to see.

    What you’re left with is a guy that can do some things with the ball in his hand, but absolutely nothing when it isn’t. And that adds up to a guy that simply isn’t a very good player, and never really was, no matter what his numbers — which show only what he does with the ball — might say.

  24. simmons blows, he acts like the celtics are some expertly run team, when in reality, they have less talent in their youth than we do…and a coahc who last week was perplexed by the 2-3 zone

    he rakes isiah, but refuses to rake ainge, who, in my opinion has done a worse job.

    we’re getting better, ask me to trade rosters with the celtics?

    not any time this week

    i like what curry is showing, marbury at least looked interested last night…after a brutal november schedule, 6 wins is acceptable, but there has to be some home cooking.

    would be nice to steal on in DET, 7-11, with the schedule that we played would be more than acceptable in my opinion at least.

  25. Simmons has two blind spots in the NBA: he is too positive about the Celtics (I don’t think it’s realistic to think that their roster is chock full of talented youth and their problems are all coaching), and he is relentlessly negative about the Knicks. that being said, he is the best NBA sportswriter/analyst working today. Outside of his Celtics/Knicks commentary I think he is really insightful.

  26. Bennyb-

    I know you’ve always had a crush on Simmons, but you forgot one other flaw in his discussion of the Celtics: his blind passion for Paul Pierce. Somehow Simmons considers Crawford and Nate Robinson the biggest gunners in the NBA, bud omits Pierce. Using Hollinger’s nifty stats, we see that Pierce has the second highest Usage Rate among shooting guards but has a lower Assist Ratio than Nate (Crawford is 34th out of 74 shooting guards, Nate is 51st, and Pierce is 53rd).

    Also I have to disagree that Simmons is relentlessly negative about the Knicks. He just has a bug up his ass about Isiah. It must stem from when Isiah agreed with Rodman’s statement that Bird would be just another guy if he wasn’t white. (Can anyone deny though that Bird, despite his objective greatness, received considerably more hype due to his race?)

    The flip side of this is Simmons’ blind passion for Bird. Isiah inherited an absurd mess from Scott Layden. Bird inherited a very talented roster and has driven it into the ground. Guess who Simmons savages on a regular basis?

  27. Also Isiah went on ESPN Radio show and said Simmons was an idiot and would like to meet him in a dark alley. Ever since that comment Simmons has been on full Knick bashing overdrive. I like the Sports Guy I truly think he’s a good sports writer and is very funny. I just get tired of the constant Knick bashing. But it’s not just him, lots of media members seem to enjoy kicking us while we’re down.

  28. Marc R.
    Yeah, Bird’s overrated and Isiah is underrated. . . and did you actually compare Nate Robinson to Paul Pierce?

  29. I like simmons. He writes from a fans/players persepctive as opposed to these analysts/journalists who probably never played the game. He understands that the game is bigger than the numbers. That’s why I can accept his knicks bashing better than other ‘writers’ who just spew numbers like that’s the entire game. If you read his ‘analysis’, pretty much everything he said about this knicks is absolutely true (except he went a little heavy on the Isaih bashing). I’d read simmons over berman or Worjasldkfjwerqos any day.

    More importantly, Eddie Curry just strung together 4, possibly 5 (counting the terrible Minnesota game) pretty solid games in a row since he took a bashing in this space. If he can improve his ft%, he’d be doing even better. And he’s kinda, sorta, passing out of the double/triple team now. I’m reaching.

  30. Hoolahoop-

    I used their names in the same sentence, if that’s what you mean. The only way I compared them is by noting that they both have relatively low assist ratios for shooting guards.

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