Knicks 110 – Pacers 103

Good evening Mr. and Mrs. America, from border to border and coast to coast and all the ships at sea!  Recap Robert here. For those who chose to say, take in the theater or perhaps venture out to the local motion picture house or perhaps to play the role of social gadfly and sally forth for a stroll about the boulevards of our fair city, taking in the local color and engaging in witty badinage with the citizenry — shopkeepers, wand’ring minstrels,  and whatnot, I have some surprising, nay shocking news. Our beloved sporting collective, the cagers known far and wide as the Knickerbocker Basketball Club of New York, managed to score MORE points than their esteemed opponents, thereby proving victorious in this evening’s contest.

Honestly, they kinda screwed up the lead/theme I had going for this recap. I was gonna vent about lousy officiating, how the Nix never get the calls, and as a result, we get 4 and 5 point swings at crucial moments/turning points in the game. I was going to follow that by ripping MD’A a new one for sitting Hill, Douglas, and Gallo when the boys were clearly on cruise mode and end it w/a whole, “The Pacers have a plan on offense and defense and the Knicks look like 5 guys who showed up for a pickup game” screed. And they go and eff it up by, well…winning. But I’ll take wins and being forced to re-write my purple prose any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

The thing that’s so frustrating about this team is that when the 3 pointers are falling, every other aspect of their game somehow magically rounds into form. To wit: They were down 19 in the middle of the 3rd while enjoying what must have been a pleasant view of watching Tyler Hansbrough do a great David Lee circa ’05-’07 impression. (Side note — I loathe the “Caucasians can only be compared to Caucasians, Euros to other Euros, Overrated bigs from Arizona, etc. etc.,” thing, but here, the comparison is pretty apt.) Suddenly, Hughes cans a couple of threes and magically, the defense gets stingy,  they’re driving to the basket, getting to the line, and/or finding Curry down low. Over the last 4:07, they outscored the LarryBirds 13-4, forced 4 turnovers, shot 66% from the field and basically made it a game again. Same thing happened in the 4th. The lead vacillated between 9 and 13 and they hadn’t made a trey all quarter until w/5:37 to go, Al Buckets cans a bunch of shots from downtown and once again, the NYers are scrambling for lose balls, rotating like mofos on D, beating lazy defenders down the floor – basically doing all the little things good teams do — and they outscore ‘em 24-6 to win in a flourish.

Not to get too Phil Jackson here, but after the 3’s, the whole energy/dynamic of the team changed. Watching the game, you could sense it. Even if the score was still pretty bleak, I (and they) thought they could make a game of this. (One thing they gotta fix — Jordan Hill is the worst towel-waver I’ve seen in a long time. He needs to either start or get in touch w/Jack Haley, stat.) When this team is hitting from downtown (and everyone on the roster is shooting worse from downtown than last year, save Gallo), they can be pretty decent. It’s something I think we all knew heading into the year, but it’s really remarkable (in this game at least) how much their confidence/collective psyche is dependent on their long-range shooting. Anyway, we can all smile now. The world is a glorious and just place again. Let’s all bask in the glory of said win and hopefully our lovable collection of pituitary cases can try to remember what led to the win at least until Saturday afternoon v. the even more hapless NJ Nyets. Some individual performance assessments:

EDDY CURRY – Eddy! Eddy! Eddy! First things first. That Plaxico Burress-esque goat he’s rockin’ is badass. And, it actually makes his face look thinner by accentuating the downward slope of his mandible. Facial aesthetics aside, I was impressed and genuinely happy for Mr. Curry. It was like a mini bit o’ time-travel back to the ’06-’07 season. He was very good in the low post, drew a ton of fouls on offense and got called for an equal amount on defense, shot horridly from the FT line, and turned the ball/couldn’t kick the ball out whenever he was double and triple teamed. Good times. W/this team, his inability to defend the post is less noticeable b/c, well, no one else can either. If he keeps this up, he’s an asset for short stints (like when the 3’s aren’t dropping) and might…gasp…actually be tradable.

LARRY HUGHES – A comeback season for Larry at this stage of his career would be pretty much unprecedented. Can anyone else think of a volume shooting 12-year vet who shot .410 from the field, .489 TS% and .437 eFG% for his career that suddenly morphed into a smart, solid efficient 2? I can’t. It leads one to think that his #’s will regress to mean over the course of the season, but Larry’s seems to have genuinely altered his game/figured out how to play as he’s gotten less “athletic.”

AL HARRINGTON – Oh Al. I can’t stay mad at you. Even if that two-tone mouthpiece really makes you look as bucktoothed as Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. One thing that confuses me. Why isn’t Harrington a better defender? He’s certainly got the length/athleticism (Sorry about that. I promise not to write “athleticism” any more. I feel like Jay Bilas and that’s not a good thing.) to be effective, and that steal in the 4th was money. Is it just effort? W/Al, I’m tempted to say no. Al certainly tries very, very hard, at times to his detriment. So what gives?

CHRIS DUHON – Admit it. We were all secretly hoping that that stinger he suffered in the 3rd was serious. I certainly did. But then again, I’m a bad person. Duhon at least got in synch W/Lee on the pick and roll tonight. (Why Hibbert/Jones/Hansbrough switched to cover Du the whole game is really beyond me). I can actually live w/the atrocious shooting for now. He’s going to start those hitting eventually, right?. It’s the silly passes and 35 foot 3’s that are so galling and seemingly avoidable.

WILSON CHANDLER – He was having his best game of the season before getting in foul trouble (& that charge that fouled him out was a [channeling C. Barkley] turr-a-bull call, just trrbll!). Even so, he still seems inclined to pull up rather than go hard to the hole, possibly (and I’m speculating here) b/c he’s worried he doesn’t have the lift to pull it off.

DAVID LEE – (Use your Seinfeld voice when reading this) Hey, what is the deal with David Lee’s rebounding? I mean come on! You built your entire game on getting after lose balls, tip-ins, and hustle plays but for a solid week or two, you’ve looked more sluggish/lethargic than I did when I was 6 and some friends and I drank a bottle of Robitussin b/c the older kids said you could catch a buzz off of it. I mean, really! (Resume regular thinking voice)

JORDAN HILL, TONEY DOUGLAS, DANILO GALLINARI – As I mentioned about, when the game looked like it was gonna be a rout, I was pounding nails into the floor w/my forehead b/c this trio was riding the pine. Despite the fact that they won, why was Douglas benched for the 2nd half? Why was Gallo yanked so early in the 2nd & 3rd? Yeah, they’d both had uneventful games to that point, but they were certainly no less at fault for the burgeoning deficit than the other fellows. Is this a case of “trusting the vets” or just getting lucky w/the right combo at the right time. As w/all games in which Gallo doesn’t play a lot, I assume Knick fans start collectively praying to some obscure Italian saint that it’s not his back flaring up.

Couple of general thoughts on the Pacers – For all the folks (myself included) who are aghast at passing on Lawson/Blair/Jennings, how good would Danny Granger look at PF in SSOL? I remember bellowing something bellicose about the folly of passing on him for Frye in the ’05 draft. For the first year at least, I was thoroughly mocked on nykfp.com b/c Frye looked like a stud. I think everyone’d take Granger in a heartbeat now. Alls I’m saying is, give the rooks time, yo.

Larry Bird really hasn’t aged well, has he? At this point, he looks like a cross between W.C. Fields and Joe Lieberman.

Hibbert seems so out of place in today’s NBA. If it were 1987, he’d be a nice, slow-footed big w/some decent low-post moves who could contribute on a winning team. Think Kevin Duckworth and his ilk. Now, how many times a year does Hibbert play against someone his size/style? W/Yao out and w/Shaq’s decline I think we’re down to Perkins, Kaman, and Bogut

Anyways, that was fun to watch. Winning. Hmm. A fella could get used to this…

Hawks 114 – Knicks 101

Y’all may not realize it, but the turning point in yet another Knicks’ loss came with about 1:30 to go in the 2nd quarter. You see, I went over to my Pop’s house to watch the tilt v. Atlanta. Like your humble correspondent, he’s a long-suffering fan (he used to rock me to sleep when I was a wee ‘bairn while listening to the ’72-’73 team march to the championship). For reason’s that are a mystery to us both, some grand karmic disorder is set in motion when we watch the game on the teevee together. We’re just plain old bad mojo. So, when he descended from his studio right before the half (shameless plug: www.burtonsilverman.com), the planets aligned in the worst possible way. In my notes I scribbled, “Close out the half well. Break their spirits! March to Xanadu on a road of their bones!” But alas, ‘twas not to be.

A big turning point came via our beleaguered PG’s utterly boneheaded play w/10 seconds left, Knicks up 9. Whether he was seized by the furies or what, he launched an ill-advised trey w/6 seconds still on the clock, leading to a long rebound and fast break finish for the Hawks.

So, instead of being up 11 (or 12, but at a minimum 9) at the half, suddenly the lead is a manageable 7 and the fine denizens of Atlanta walk into the lockerroom clearly pondering some variation of, “Gosh golly. We’ve missed a ton of easy shots. There’s no ball movement on offense. We’re getting torched by Toney Douglas of all people and the Knicks are easier to psychologically topple than a 2 year old’s blocks. Sweet!” I’d assume Mike Woodson impressed them how fortunate they were to find themselves in such a situation, but I’m not entirely convinced that Mike Woodson is a sentient being. Seriously, did he move the entire game? Now, it’d be easy to blame C-Du (Or MD’A for continuing to start him) for this dire turn of events. But personally, I think it’s me and my Dad’s fault. If we were true fans, we would have switched to watching the ‘Top Chef’ marathon. Being selfish, we stayed glued to the set until the inevitable conclusion.

My glib thoughts on my family’s psychic powers over basketball games notwithstanding, here are some thoughts on our hardwood heroes:

AL HARRINGTON – It’s amazing to me how he can look like an all-star (or at least a more motivated Tim Thomas) for one half and then seemingly forget all the things that led to his success in the other. He’s great off the dribble v. traditional PF’s/C’s and can post smaller players. When he overdribbles, the rest of the team stands around and watches, mainly because they know the ball has a better chance of escaping the gravitational pull of the sun than Al’s clutches and/or he launches contested jumpers. And how did you miss that dunk? Did the ghost of Tree Rollins emerge from the ether and swat it away?

CHRIS DUHON – Boy is he a mess. He’s got zero confidence in his shot right now. As a result, teams are sagging on the pick and roll and severely reducing Lee’s effectiveness. He’s turning the ball over at an alarming rate and making some godawful decisions (see above). I can only assume he hasn’t been benched b/c MD’A is worried that another setback will send his self-esteem below Emily Dickinson’s. But honestly, he’s a liability on the court right now.

DAVID LEE – was playing an inactive/listless game for him even before sitting early in the 3rd after his old college chum Al Horford decimated him in the low post and repeatedly beat him down the court. I was probably as stunned as the rest of you to see him Charles Smith a series of put-backs in the fourth. I think I even summoned my inner Bill Walton and bellowed, “Throw it down, big man!”

LARRY HUGHES – I refuse to live in a world where Larry Hughes is one of our best players. For the most part, he makes good decisions w/the ball, hits the open jumper, plays the best perimeter d on the team and gets a real bang out of sending a closing defender hurtling towards midcourt w/a headfake on foul-line extended 3’s. He did chuck up a couple of heylarryhughespleasestoptakingsomanybadshots.com specials in the 2nd half, but for the most part, played well. And he certainly didn’t warrant a benching.

TONEY DOUGLAS – Hit some clutch shots. Penetrated at will. Played good defense. Got a little shot-happy in the 4th when the game had gotten out of hand, but anyone who’s watched the last 3 games (and if you have, I’m sorry that you’ll never get those 7.5 or so hours of your life back), has to realize that he’s playing well enough to warrant starting at PG. Granted, he did start tonight, but having him guard Johnson was a recipe for disaster that was only averted when JJ took half the game to get warmed up/decide to play.

JARED JEFFRIES – First of all, you can’t wear a headband, Jared. Really, you just can’t. It looks awful. Second, for every nice play you make that doesn’t show up in the box score (drawing charges, moving w/o the ball on offense), it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll make one play that turns Knick fans’ collective brains into a substance resembling guacamole. To wit: 4th quarter, 3 on 1 fast break, Nix trying to cut the lead to 6, you’re undefended and you fumble away a perfect bounce pass like the ball was covered with Crisco. “He went to Jared!” isn’t just an annoying marketing slogan for a diamond company, but a cry that emerges from Knick fans between the hours of 7:30 and 10pm.

MIKE D’ANTONI – Um Mike. When the other team’s getting on a run. You can like, call a time out and stuff. Like in the 3rd quarter and you were up 5 (thanks to Toney Douglas doing what Toney Douglas do). When suddenly, your team misses 11 of 12 shots from the field and the other team goes on a 12-0 run. You can like, call a time out then or put in different players and stuff. I’m worried about you, Mike. You are starting to take on a Zeke Thomas-like expression in the 4th quarter these days. It’s a combination of utter despair combined with the vague hope that you might come down with a mild case of the Ebola Virus on the way home, thus freeing you from your contractual obligations to coach this ‘team,’ as it were.

Ok, I’m done being snarky. The boys played well enough to win for stretches, and then just well enough to lose for the rest of the game. Poop.  I (and the rest of us stalwarts) will be back on Fri. night when we get to pine for one Curry that never was (Stephen), and wait for another Curry that might possible be (Fast Eddy).

An Open Letter To LeBron James

Dear LeBron,

Can I call you LeBron? Thanks! LeBron, I am writing to you in the hopes that all is well with you and yours as you prepare for the final season of your contractually obligated engagement with the Cleveland Basketball club. As you may have heard or read somewhere on the internets, a great many folks are speculating about where you will choose to ply your trade in the year 2010. One possible destination is the city that I call my home, New York. You may have also heard that we have a basketball team. They’re called the Knickerbockers. (Fun fact: They’re named after the Dutch settlers who bought Manhattan island from the natives for $24 in wampum!) Truth be told, the New York team has hasn’t been very good for a while now. How long ago was it? Well, the last time they won more games than they lost, Meg Ryan was still considered a sex symbol.

Now, were you to join our team, I can say with a good degree of certainty that you would greatly improve our chances of winning on a day-to-day basis and possibly even elevate the squad to the status of, “championship contender”. Many of my fellow fanatics would very much like this to happen. I’m here to formally ask that you please do not join our team.

It’s not anything personal. You seem like a very nice, charming fellow. And it’s certainly not in any way a condemnation/criticism of your skills on the court. You are, without a doubt, great. You are the greatest since his royal merchandizing/Nike-ness. Were you to disregard this letter, I would assuredly join the maddening crowd in utter adoration/awe of your overall sprezzatura.

But here’s the thing. It wouldn’t be right. I know it. David Stern knows it and I think you know it too even if it runs contrary your (and Mr. Stern’s) ultimate dreams of worldwide financial/iconographic domination and the fact that situating yourself at the epicenter of this media maelstrom would go a great length towards helping you achieve said goal(s).

Now don’t get me wrong. I would love to have an athlete of your caliber on our side. If we had a smart GM who really tanked a season or two in order to get a top 3 draft pick to snag someone as good as you or who discovered someone as good as you in the middle of the first round when the experts had said individual pegged as a mere role player or plucked someone as good as you out of obscurity via trade before his abilities grew to full flower, then hell’s yeah. I’d be tickled pink for [As-yet Nonexistent Savior] to wear the blue and orange. But not like this. We’d be buying you, nay stealing you from the good burghers of Cleveland because goddamnit, we’re the richest most powerful mofos around. It’d be the equivalent of cheering as the Soviet tanks rolled over and through Montenegro.

And if you did sign here, then what? The Lebrons/Knicks go about obliterating other teams? Winning handily? Winning with ease? No sirree. I’m sorry, that’s not me. It just doesn’t mesh with my Weltanschauung. That’s not the team I grew up loving and grew to love. I know my guys are going to lose — lose in heartbreaking fashion, lose via pound-your-nails-into-the-floor-with-your-forehead, repetitive stupidity. And although the actors in this particular melodrama (tragedy?) may have been recast many times over, I still know how it’s going to end, because it’s the same effing play. The script hasn’t changed, just the players. Take our last game v. Indiana f’rinstance. One Clyde said, towards the end of the 4th Quarter (Quarto?), down by 4, after Granger fouled out, “Granger’s out. Now Indiana won’t be able to score and the Knicks can come back.” I should have turned the set off right then and there. That’s it. Toast. Done. We’re boned. Why? Because once the “star’s” out of the game, the other players start moving the ball and playing unselfishly and somehow, quelle surprise, manage to overcome the absence of their, “star.” What happened on Wednesday? The Knicks didn’t score a point in the game. Hibbert, Ford n’ Dantae Jones killed ‘em. I know when the Knicks are trying to mount a comeback that a normally reliable free throw shooter’s gonna brick the first one. (Esp. if he gets the double whammy by Breen mentioning how nifty Player X is from the charity stripe before he’s about to shoot.) In the Indiana game I called both of Harrington’s misses and the Hughes miss at the beginning of the 4th. It’s not b/c I have psychic powers, it’s just that I’ve been watching the same game, over and over again for the past 30 years.

You may be thinking, Lebron, that the above paragraph might suggest that I would like you to join the Knicks, just so I could watch a different story unfold, if only for variety’s sake. A valid point, indeed. But I see, (and indubitably always will see) the failures of this team as an utterly apt paradigm for the way that the rest of the real world functions. The Democrats are going to pass an utterly useless watered down Health Care Bill, Obama’s going to send more troops into Afghanistan because he’s scared of looking ‘weak,’ Bloomberg’s going to flat-out BUY a third term, Glenn Beck’s going to use the remake of the TV show “V” to justify his inane conspiracy theories about Marxists in gov’t, and the Knicks are gonna blow it. Incorrigible, maddening blunders, every man jack of them and there’s absolutely nothing you or I or anyone can do to stop them from happening. If my team started kickin’ ass and taking names, well, I’d have to totally rethink my understanding of the world and start rooting for the Yankees and Dick Cheney and Paris Hilton the E! Network and people who feel that $76 is a reasonable price for an entrée at a restaurant and support the activities of a whole lot of other hateful non-persons who WIN all the time and who don’t. Goddamn. Deserve it. I just can’t be that guy.

(Just to be clear, the 90’s teams are totally valid w/in this construct. We all knew that Patrick would miss the finger roll, Starks would shoot 2-18 in game 7, and that the Spurs would demolish the Camby/Sprewell squad, didn’t we?)

Moral victories. Loveable losers. Tragic Defeat. That’s my stock in trade. So, I’m sorry LeBron. I’d rather you stay in Cleveland. We’ll lose and lose again, but at least I’ll remain true to my principles, to myself.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, Lebron. I wish you all the best.

Sincerely,

Robert Silverman

Knicks 2010 Season Preview Part 2

[In case you missed it, Part I is here.]

Larry Hughes SG

What the Numbers Say
Through the first 4 preseason games, Larry is 1 fer 20. Yipes.

What the Team Says
“Larry Hughes is a guy that can score points and create his own shot. And I think that’s also very good in Mike’s system.” – Donnie Walsh (after the trade deadline deal that netted Hughes for Tim Thomas.)

What the Player Says
“I’m a proven scorer in this league, so it’s not a problem for me,” Hughes said after the Knicks held an open practice for fans at Fordham University yesterday. “It’s the preseason. I’m not too concerned.”

What My Gut Says
HeyLarryHughesPleaseStopTakingSoManyBadShots.com really just about sums it up. Alas, I fear good old Larry has the potential to be this year’s Marbury. No, I don’t mean he’s going to eat Vaseline, it’s just that he has a history of pitching a fit when presented with less playing time than he believes he merits. Nor does he seem to have a firm grasp on what his own abilities are. Proven scorer, my fanny.

Wilson Chandler – SG (in name only)/SF

What the Numbers Say
I can’t parse the stats for the life of me, but Wilson Chandler pops up all over the place in Dave Berri’s “Overrated players of 08-09” list.

What the Team Says
“He’s a great kid that works hard and I really think he has a chance,” D’Antoni said. “That will depend on him and the work that he puts in in the summertime, and he thinks he’s going to do it. I hope he does.”

What the Player Says
“Shake ’em up, shake ’em up, shake ’em up, shake ’em. Roll ’em in a circle of fellas and watch me break ’em” (a tweet in response to Nate Rob’s tweet) Apparently they like tweeting Ice Cube lyrics to one another. Good times.

What My Gut Says
For some reason, in spite of his rim-rattling dunks and blocks that send the rock into the (very expensive) seats, Ill Will fails to make much of an impression on me. Perhaps it’s because he has fewer facial expressions, succeed or fail, than Paris Hilton. He’s a nice two-way SF who if he develops a more consistent jumper and solid handle could be Shawn Marion-lite. A quality guy to have and could certainly be a part of the rotation on a contender, I’d still have dealt him for the 5th pick/Ricky Rubio in a NY minute (assuming that it was even remotely possible).

Danilo Gallinari SF

What the Numbers Say
Danilo Gallinari (2009, Age 20) .448 FG, .444 3FG, .963 FT, 4.8 reb/36, 14.9 pts/36
Dirk Nowitzki (1999, Age 20 ) .405 FG, .205 3FG, .773 FT, 6.1 reb/36, 14.9 pts/36
(Full player comparison at Basketball-Reference.com)

What the Team Says
“He’s the best shooter I’ve ever seen” — Mike D’Antoni

What the Player Says
“Wake up at 9.02 (because I do not like alarms perfect!) … Breakfast with milk and Nesquick … accompanied with biscuits or cornflakes in the morning … I need a lot of carbohydrates! Then long session in the bathroom to get ready, get dressed, I put the lenses, a bit of hair gel and so ready to go to training.” — Il Gallo

What My Gut Says
I amo Il Gallo! So, ciò sembra un po’gaio, ma è il suo soprannome. Che sono intendendo fare? One of the things that’s actually disappointed me in Danilo’s development is that his English has really improved. As a result, he sounds a lot less like Roberto Benigni/Chico Marx. It’s too bad. I was really looking forward with the post-game interview with Jill “Gimme A Minute” Martin where he screeched, “I want to make love to the firmament!” That said, I think he puts up Nowitzki-like #’s in year two (15 ppg, 6 rpg)

And even though he hasn’t officially made the team yet, I have to say that I‘m seriously pulling for Marcus Landry. Maybe it’s because he’s making the transition from undersized college center to SG/SF and the last player I can think of who pulled this off successfully was Earl Monroe, who played the pivot/with his back to the basket at Winston-Salem in the 60’s.

Knicks 2010 Season Preview Part 1

With the 2010 season nearly upon us, it’s time to go into season preview mode. We’re going to kick it off with a look at the players in a 4 part series, followed by more Knickly goodness. We’re going to run right up to the start of the season (save for a weekend breather). So here we go…

Chris Duhon – Point Guard

What the Numbers Say
Pre All-Star game: 12.5 ppg, 8.0 apg, 3.4 rpg.
Post All-Star game: 8.6 ppg, 5.6 apg, 2.1 rpg.

What the Team Says
“Donnie was exploring everything, which he should,” D’Antoni said. “But there was never any doubt Chris would be the point guard.”

What the Player Says
“He (Obama) talks the whole time. He’s never quiet…can’t guard me!’ Just random talk,” Duhon replied. “He knows the game. He’s like a point guard out there, and so he’s always telling guys where to go, what to do, very vocal.” Who won? “Oh, I won – he may be running for president, but I’m not going to let him win, not going to take it easy on him. I don’t take it easy on anyone.”

What My Gut Says
There really isn’t one facet to his game that one can identify as his strength (save possibly his Vulcan mind meld with DLee on the pick and roll). Seriously, what does he actually do well? He’s an average on the ball defender, average shooter, below average finisher, average passer, and average floor general. But like the numbers show, he was playing solid ball before his 2nd half collapse (possibly due to playing close to 40 mpg in the 1st half, or possibly due to his rumored proclivity for nocturnal activities and whatnot) And, he is tight with the POTUS, so he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

Nate Robinson – Combo Guard/Freak Show

What the Numbers Say
Per 36 minutes, in 08’-09’ Nate was the best rebounder under 6 feet in the history of the NBA (4.7 rebs/36).

What the Team Says
“That’s why he [Robinson] got a one-year contract,” D’Antoni said of the exuberance that often gets the better of Robinson on the court. “That’s why we won 32 games…As soon as we get it and he gets it, then we’ll win, get in the playoffs and guys will find homes…”

What the Player Says
Here’s a sampling of Nate’s finer tweets. They’re pure absurdist poetry gold:

“I wish they spelled seattle like this Ceattle that would be sick, and spell tacoma like this Wackcoma lol inside joke for @theyknwwhotheyR”

“If u could have any famous person make u a peanut butter and jelly sandwich who would it be? Me Stacy Dash all day lol”

“August Ruah might be one of the best movies I’ve ever watched, and I watch hella movies!!!”

“If I was in the movie harry potter I would rep tweepndorph”

“I got a snickers commercial 4 yall, super man and kryptonate R walk n down da street watch n a old lady at the park dunking, so I steal the Ball from the old lady jump over her as iam in the air superman fly’s outta no where I throw the oop he dunks on her, superman and Kryptonate a freak of natchew !!! LoL”

What My Gut Says
Oh lawdy. I think Nate’s the bee’s knee. Mainly because, even though I can barely jump over a phone book, he invites all us 5’9″ guys to dream our dreamy dreams of being able to dunk a basketball. What can one say that hasn’t already been said ad nauseum? He’s an unreal athlete. He’s got a Napoleon complex. He’s immature. He’s underrated. He’s overrated. He’s a “Call of Duty” addict. He’s the real-life Cal Naughton Jr. to Will “Shake n’ Bake” Ferrell. More so than the dunks or the whirling dervish-type drives to the hoop, it’s his bounding and astounding that blows me away, as is evidenced by the above stats. Will he “mature” (aka average 3 steals/game)? Will he stop getting on the refs for every single call?

Toney Douglas – Combo Guard

What the Numbers Say

Translated Stats: 0.392 Win% | 0.491 TS% | 21.5 Usage | 5.7 Reb% | 0.40 Pass

Randy Foye (97.2); Keith Bogans (96.7); Courtney Alexander (95.2); Chris Quinn (94.9); Morris Peterson (94.1)

Douglas comes out as similar to shooting guards as point guards, but he’s not an exceptional scorer at the NBA level and he’s already 23. Pass.

(Pre-draft number crunching via The Basketball Prospectus/Kevin Pelton)

What the Team Says
“He’s a lot better than I thought. He might have ran out of steam at the end of the week, and I judged him on that not being ready. Give him credit though. I showed him things he had to work on and he did.” – Mike D’Antoni

What the Player Says
“We just out here having fun and do what Toney Douglas do” — Toney Douglas

What My Gut Says
Though the Pre-season/summer league offers a relatively small sample to judge from, my digestive track says he’s Chris Childs 2.0 (which is not necessarily a bad thing) – a tough, solid defender at PG. Not the greatest floor general/court vision. Streaky shooter from deep. If as the stats suggest, he could be similar to Randy Foye, I’d be tickled. And he has a swell t-shirt commemorating his penchant for addressing himself in the 3rd person.

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…