Categories
basketball flickr politics

Presidential

P080810PS-0483

There's an inti­ma­cy in this that so res­onates with me. I mean, it's impos­si­ble to imag­ine that I wouldn't be charmed by the sub­ject mat­ter alone — a Pres­i­dent I great­ly admire, plus two NBA play­ers. But this moment is espe­cial­ly great, because I love Der­rick Rose's game and I will always appre­ci­ate that he OD'd on can­dy before the 2008 NCAA Final with Kansas. And I admire Joakim Noah's grit­ty post play and his seri­ous media game. And I love that there's gen­uine emo­tion in this shot. It has got a lit­tle bit of stagey-ness, but it also feels, like I said, inti­mate, like the pho­tog­ra­ph­er took this pho­to and emailed it to me, and said: "You'd appre­ci­ate this."

Categories
basketball kansas basketball

Bracketological breakdown, 2010 edition, volume 1!

It's March, and the mad­ness of the sea­son has over­tak­en me. Thus, I won't be offend­ed if you are about to click back to Twit­ter, or your RSS reader.I'll start by not wast­ing anyone's time com­plain­ing about this year's tour­na­ment pair­ings. That path is well-trav­eled.1 And well it should be! The pair­ings are out­ra­geous! Kansas was pun­ished! Ken­tucky, Duke, and Syra­cuse — they've all got gold­en tick­ets to Indi­anapo­lis. Right? Right?

For starters, I'm glad I'm not Kentucky

For so many rea­sons. Let's look at the round two match-ups. Texas and Wake For­est have been ter­ri­ble — hor­ri­ble — over the past cou­ple of months. But, they're tal­ent­ed, and each could gel for just long enough to beat any­one in the coun­try, includ­ing Ken­tucky. Is this unlike­ly? High­ly. Is it more like­ly that Cor­nell will grind their way past Tem­ple, Wis­con­sin and Ken­tucky? Per­haps. But indulge me: Texas actu­al­ly match­es up pret­ty well with Ken­tucky, size-wise and tal­ent-wise. I think that it's pos­si­ble that they could get moti­vat­ed (ever so briefly) to not be embar­rassed by them. Am I pick­ing Texas over Ken­tucky? Maybe not. Texas coach Rick Barnes is nev­er in dan­ger of out-game­plan­ning any­one. He's nev­er been accused of hav­ing his team ready to play, and his teams are always threat­en­ing to under­per­form. Let's not for­get this. Still, I wouldn't want to be a Ken­tucky fan, not in this tour­na­ment, or in any life­time. Because let me be frank: I don't think I could face a world with­out read­ing, with­out lit­er­a­cy. I just don't think I could do it.

Which reminds me, did you hear that Coach K was born in the year of the Ratfaced Bastard?

Eerie, right? Not sure what his astro­log­i­cal sign is, but I'm rel­a­tive­ly sure that all the major media fig­ures kiss its ass.

But Duke didn't get an easy road, either

I know, most peo­ple say that Duke has the eas­i­est path: a #4 seed in free-fall after its star blew out his knee (Pur­due), and a #2 seed that lost six of its last ten (Vil­lano­va). I say: Thank you for notic­ing, world, but look at the #3 seed: Bay­lor. This team got pun­ished for play­ing cup­cakes ear­ly — Hardin Sim­mons? Texas Arling­ton? South­ern? Hart­ford? Coach Scott Drew, c'mon. You asked for your crud­dy seed. But then Bay­lor played a tough con­fer­ence sched­ule, didn't lose a game by more than 7 points, and they absolute­ly light it up (119 points per 100 pos­ses­sions — 5th in the coun­try). Enough about Bay­lor; Duke may not even get there. Louisville will give Duke every­thing they can han­dle in round 2; per­haps more. Rick Piti­no v Coach K, in the sec­ond round? Fans' brains might explode. Which coach do I hate more? Minds will bog­gle.

Back to the Wildcats

Kansas State. Are they good enough to reach the Final Four. Yes. Can they beat Syra­cuse? Quite pos­si­bly. How do you beat Syra­cuse? You pun­ish the zone. And K‑State has two guys who can do this — Pullen and Clemente. What about the glass? Two more guys: Wal­ly Judge and Cur­tis Kel­ly. They can hold their own under­neath. Ken­Pom has K‑State ranked 5th in the coun­try in offen­sive rebound­ing per­cent­age at 40%. They gath­er 40% of the rebounds on their offen­sive glass. That's huge. And they play great defense. Did I men­tion I wouldn't want to be Syra­cuse? I wouldn't. Espe­cial­ly because a big guy might be hurt. Or, he might not be. March mad­ness, bay­bee!

The team that will break my heart: Cornell

Every year I pick a team like this. They're good. They play under con­trol. They've got a sys­tem. All the ingre­di­ents are there for sur­prise. Sub­text: They played very well against Kansas. Okay, let's face it, they out-played Kansas for 20–25 min­utes in the hal­lowed hall of Lawrence, and they came up short (bare­ly). Texas A&M, Bay­lor, Col­orado, Kansas State and Mem­phis also played very well against the Hawks, and lost. Sub­text: I also have these teams doing well in the tour­na­ment. Caveat! Any­way, every year, I pick a team like this to get out of the first round, and they lay an egg. I'm look­ing at you, But­ler team of 2008. This year's heart­break­er is espe­cial­ly obvi­ous to avoid because Tem­ple is a good team who could eas­i­ly … force the afore­men­tioned egg? To emerge? Any­way, Tem­ple is a great defen­sive team, though you wouldn't have been able to see any evi­dence of that against … Kansas! Yes, they lost to the Jay­hawks at home. By 32 points.Did I men­tion that this brack­et break­down was from the point of view who has watched 34 Kansas games, and rough­ly 20 total oth­er games. Caveat!1 I will offer one sug­ges­tion: Why not just fac­tor their media desir­abil­i­ty into the RPI? Your team's win­ning per­cent­age x their opponent's win­ning per­cent­age x their oppo­nents' oppo­nents' win­ning per­cent­age x the like­li­hood that your team will draw a large, rich audi­ence to the Final Four week­end equals their seed. It's obvi­ous­ly a fac­tor in every year's brack­et. Last year, North Car­oli­na was invit­ed to do the Ten­nessee Waltz all the way to Detroit. In oth­er words, they had it easy. In oth­er news, the nation loves them some Tar Heels. It's worth men­tion­ing that adver­tis­ers tend to pay more when the Heels are play­ing. And of course CBS is for-prof­it enter­prise. You get the point. We all do. It's time to be up-front about it.Okay, wait. One more thing. I will post some­thing about the absurd lop­sid­ed­ness of the pair­ings:

You want to make mar­gin­al No. 1 Duke's road that easy? Seed­ing the brack­et is tough, but come on. The South reeks of a com­mit­tee that lost the for­est for the trees, and Ken­tucky, Syra­cuse and Kansas — espe­cial­ly Kansas — will suf­fer. So much for being the over­all No. 1. If we can't reward Kansas for its excel­lence with some­thing bet­ter than this, then the anti-expan­sion folks' main point is offi­cial­ly moot. The reg­u­lar sea­son doesn't mat­ter.

More here.

Categories
basketball visual

It's gotta be the shoes.

Nike Air Jordan 3 Black Cat

The Nike Air Jor­dan 3 Black Cat … This shoe fright­ened me when it first came out in 1988. It looked like it had arrived from out­er space, which made it absolute­ly the per­fect shoe for Jor­dan to wear when he was just begin­ning to dom­i­nate the NBA. His game was threat­en­ing. These shoes were so sleek, so — it must be said — fierce, that a kid knew that he need­ed to step up his game in order to be wor­thy of them. I'm cur­rent­ly total­ly riv­et­ed by the exten­sive Air Jor­dan doc­u­men­ta­tion and com­men­tary on the web. For instance, here's a killer 8‑minute video pro­file of Tin­ker Hat­field, the genius behind the Jor­dan line. Nobody in the world can cov­er my main man, Michael Jor­dan … Impos­si­ble! Impos­si­ble! Impos­si­ble! Imposs-!

Categories
basketball ideas ixd

Flow states and flow triggers

Last night, Lynne told a sto­ry about a friend who, upon see­ing movie star James Fran­co in the New York sub­way, expe­ri­enced a feel­ing of ecsta­t­ic clar­i­ty, of time slow­ing down. I don't recall if Csik­szent­mi­ha­lyi cov­ers celebri­ty sight­ings in Flow, but this sounds like a state of flow to me. Wikipedia sums up the flow con­cept as "a men­tal state of oper­a­tion in which the per­son is ful­ly immersed in what he or she is doing by a feel­ing of ener­gized focus, full involve­ment, and suc­cess in the process of the activ­i­ty."Bill DeR­ouchey recent­ly men­tioned the ingre­di­ents that, for him, trig­ger a state of flow: "Bri­an Eno [ed: I'm guess­ing his music here, rather than, say, see­ing him on the sub­way], Koy­aanisqat­si sound­track, iso­la­tion, old rocksteady/ska and (yes) the LOTR tril­o­gy." There was an ensu­ing #flow­state dis­cus­sion on Twitter.David Halberstam's book about the late 70's Port­land Trail­blaz­ers, The Breaks of the Game, con­tains a nice descrip­tion of for­mer Blaz­er Bill Walton's pre-game rit­u­al:

[Wal­ton] loved the day of a game, par­tic­u­lar­ly an impor­tant game. It was a time which belonged com­plete­ly to him, a time pure in its pur­pose. On the day itself, he did not ana­lyze the game, he had done that the night before, thought about the team and the play­er he was going against in the most clin­i­cal way pos­si­ble. The night before was the ana­lyt­i­cal time. The day of the game was dif­fer­ent, it was an emo­tion­al time. He always took a nap on the day of a game, wak­ing up two and a half hours before the game … This was the time in which he felt the rhythm and tem­po of the game, almost like feel­ing a dance of his own. He played his own music, from the Grate­ful Dead … and the music helped, it flowed through him and he thought about the tem­po he want­ed to set and how he could move. He would sit in his home or his hotel room in those hours and actu­al­ly see the game and feel the move­ment of it. Some­times he did it with such accu­ra­cy that a few hours lat­er when he was on the court and the same play­ers made the same moves, it was easy for him because he had already seen it all, had made that move or blocked that shot. He loved that time, he had it all to him­self, he was absorbed in his feel for bas­ket­ball.

An ingre­di­ent to Walton's secret sauce: The Grate­ful Dead. In the same jam fam­i­ly, I would say, as Bill's Phillip Glass go-to, Koyaanisqatsi.All of which of course made me think of my own flow­state trig­gers. The more I think about it, though, my most reli­able trig­ger is run­ning, but a glass of water and the Base­ball Ency­clo­pe­dia also can do the trick. Music is not as essen­tial to me; some­times silence is bet­ter, some­times I need some Ani­mal Col­lec­tive. For Rev­erend Green is pret­ty reli­able.

Categories
basketball kansas basketball

As he steps to the line, he feels game pressure

The Bilas­tra­tor has coined a new term: "Game pres­sure." Dur­ing last weekend's Kansas-Ten­nessee game, ESPN ana­lyst Jay Bilas repeat­ed­ly said that Kansas play­ers were feel­ing "game pres­sure" when they stepped to the free throw line. Game pres­sure? As opposed to … prac­tice pres­sure? As opposed to oth­er kinds of pres­sure that you'd feel dur­ing a big game? Or a nation­al­ly-tele­vised game? Game pres­sure? That's the best that you've got? Now, I was going to let this go, because I think I know what he means: "Game pres­sure" sounds like a spe­cif­ic kind of pres­sure that can't be repli­cat­ed out­side of a game. Young teams, per­haps, are par­tic­u­lar­ly vul­ner­a­ble to it because they haven't been in as many … games. Any­way, I was going to let it go until Bilas referred to Kansas guard Sher­ron Collins as "Law­son-esque" (as in North Car­oli­na guard Tywon Law­son) and then pre­dict­ed that Tyler Hans­brough will again be the nation­al play­er of the year.

You mean Lawson is "Collins-esque," right?

Where was Law­son in the Final Four? I'll tell you: He was get­ting killed by Collins. If Collins played in the ACC, he'd be get­ting com­pared to Chris Paul. (I think he's more like Vin­nie "the Microwave" John­son). On that note, I hope that Bob Knight is going to break up the ACC-lov­ing com­men­tary cabal at ESPN. From the cou­ple of games I've seen, he is made for TV. And he speaks to bas­ket­ball fans, not just fans of the ACC. He's not afraid to say unpop­u­lar things; not a sur­prise. He's also like­ly to com­pare cur­rent play­ers to non-ACC play­ers (such as his Indi­ana play­ers from the 70's), and he's com­plete­ly at ease in diss­ing oth­er talk­ing heads. Is there some way that I can get his com­men­tary on every game? Please?

Aldrich rips the ball away from Hansbrough
Aldrich ruled Hans­brough in the Final Four. "But he just works so hard." Oth­er ath­let­ic cen­ters rule him reg­u­lar­ly. "He doesn't take pos­ses­sions off." The argu­ment against him being play­er of the year is so strong; it seems almost sil­ly to car­ry it out. Pho­to: Get­ty Images

I've got no real beef with Psy­cho T, as Hans­brough is known, but he is not the best play­er in the coun­try. How could he be? When­ev­er he plays against any­one big and ath­let­ic, he gets killed. Yes, he brings it every night; yes, he leaves it all on the court. Dick­ie V loves it. All the old­er com­men­ta­tors love it. Who doesn't love a kid who plays hard every minute he's on the court? I love it. He's like Nick Col­li­son. Nick Col­li­son was awe­some, but he was not the play­er of the year, was he? Would any­one argue that he was, oth­er than hope­less Kansas loy­al­ists? He was a good play­er on a great team. Like Hans­brough, now. Collison's prob­lem was that he didn't play for the most vis­i­ble pro­gram in the most over-hyped con­fer­ence in the coun­try. If Hans­brough played at Texas, he'd get com­pared to Col­li­son all the time, and he'd be the feel-good choice for the Nai­smith. If only.

Categories
basketball

Kevin Garnett / What can you say now?

Two things: (1) How awe­some would it be to play on KG's team? [Don't ask Big Baby that ques­tion]. Still, what if KG worked in your office? He could walk the halls, pump­ing peo­ple up, bring­ing every­one into pre-meet­ing hud­dles — one-two-three-UBUN­TU! — and he could remind peo­ple that it's about the lit­tle things, remind them that things are get­ting bet­ter and that they just need to hold it togeth­er a lit­tle longer for the title run (or the final design deliv­er­able, in my case). Seri­ous­ly, how rare is it that an ath­lete is so insane­ly gift­ed and so deeply, out­ward­ly pas­sion­ate? I'll tell you what: He would give Ter­ry Tate a run for his mon­ey in the office ath­lete depart­ment. [The pain train is comin]. And, (2) Some­one needs to cre­ate an iPhone app or an audio­book or some­thing that blends the inspi­ra­tional wis­dom of Coach Tay­lor from Fri­day Night Lights with KG's extem­po­ra­ne­ous pas­sion. That would be tech­nol­o­gy that I could use. (Okay, three things.) (3) Who­ev­er made this com­mer­cial is a genius. It's just doc­u­men­tary-ish enough to give you a sense of the entire arc of the sea­son; it real­ly brings out the grind, how long KG spends say­ing the same stuff again and again; and it ends in just the right way: "What can you say now?" Noth­ing. You can't say any­thing. Actu­al­ly, you could say one oth­er thing: "Any­thing is pos­si­ble!"

Categories
basketball ideas lit tech web

The future of reading / A reading list

I love read­ing, and I've been think­ing a lot about how tech­nol­o­gy is affect­ing the way that we read now and in the future. I keep think­ing about some­thing Sven Birk­erts said in a 1998 inter­view with Harpers: "If you touch all parts of the globe, you can't do that and then turn around and look at your wife in the same way." [PDF] Of course, one could be turn around and look at one's wife in a more informed, more edu­cat­ed way, but that's not the way he sees it. I share this anx­i­ety: I love read­ing the New York Times on my phone, but I can't help but sense that some­thing will be lost if all print­ed mat­ter moves in this direc­tion.

My bookcaseThis is the top shelf on one of our book cas­es. It's com­fort­ing to have the books sit­ting there; they're like a ver­sion of myself, sit­ting on a shelf, dis­as­sem­bled and re-arrange­able.

In August 1995, Harpers Mag­a­zine con­duct­ed a round table dis­cus­sion with Wired's Kevin Kel­ly, author Sven Birk­erts, the Well's John Per­ry Bar­low, and Mark Slou­ka. The results were con­densed in the mag­a­zine [PDF], and the con­ver­sa­tion out­lines the two ide­olo­gies that con­tin­ue to con­verse today: Those who believe that the paper incar­na­tion of the book is an irre­place­able are­na for the deliv­ery of its con­tent, and those who don't. Birk­erts dis­cuss­es the for­mer in his 1995 book, The Guten­berg Ele­gies: The Fate of Read­ing in an Elec­tron­ic Age. In 2004, the Nation­al Endow­ment for the Arts sent a shot across the bow in a paper called "Read­ing at Risk," [PDF]. The researchers sur­veyed 17,000 peo­ple, and they con­clud­ed that the future of lit­er­ary read­ing is bleak: "Lit­er­ary read­ing in Amer­i­ca is not only declin­ing rapid­ly among all groups, but the rate of decline has accel­er­at­ed, espe­cial­ly among the young."Still, the total num­ber of books sold con­tin­ues to rise, so is the future real­ly that bleak? The NEA thinks so. It released a fol­low-on to Read­ing at Risk called "To Read or Not To Read." This study focus­es on young read­ers, and links the decline in read­ing to "civic, social and eco­nom­ic" risks.Last spring, Nicholas Carr dis­cussed Google's effect on lit­er­ary read­ing in the Atlantic, provoca­tive­ly titled "Is Google Mak­ing Us Stu­pid." [I dis­cussed this in a blog post at the Coop­er Jour­nal called "Dumb is the new smart"]. In it, he inter­views a blog­ger who con­fess­es the fol­low­ing:

"I can't read War and Peace anymore,†he admit­ted. "I've lost the abil­i­ty to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four para­graphs is too much to absorb. I skim it."

The arti­cle also sparked a dis­cus­sion on brittanica.com, col­lect­ed in a forum called "Your Brain Online." It's got a lot of inter­est­ing stuff from folks like Kevin Kel­ly, Dan­ny Hillis and Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Every­body, who thinks that the "unprece­dent­ed abun­dance" of the web will func­tion to break the vise-grip of the "lit­er­ary world" on cul­ture:

It's not just because of the web — no one reads War and Peace. It's too long, and not so inter­est­ing. This obser­va­tion is no less sac­ri­le­gious for being true. The read­ing pub­lic has increas­ing­ly decid­ed that Tolstoy's sacred work isn't actu­al­ly worth the time it takes to read it, but that process start­ed long before the inter­net became main­stream … The threat isn't that peo­ple will stop read­ing War and Peace. That day is long since past. The threat is that peo­ple will stop gen­u­flect­ing to the idea of read­ing War and Peace.

Ursu­la Le Guin dis­putes the notion that peo­ple have ever read War and Peace. (Well, maybe.)

Self-sat­is­fac­tion with the inabil­i­ty to remain con­scious when faced with print­ed mat­ter seems ques­tion­able. But I also want to ques­tion the assump­tion — whether gloomy or faint­ly gloat­ing — that books are on the way out. I think they're here to stay. It's just that not all that many peo­ple ever did read them. Why should we think every­body ought to now?

The title of her recent Harper's essay pret­ty well sums up her posi­tion: "Notes on the alleged decline of read­ing." It roars through the var­i­ous aspects of the state of read­ing and pub­lish­ing, quick­ly turn­ing into a ring­ing indict­ment of cor­po­rate pub­lish­ers:

The social qual­i­ty of lit­er­a­ture is still vis­i­ble in the pop­u­lar­i­ty of best­sellers. Pub­lish­ers get away with mak­ing bor­ing, baloney-mill nov­els into best­sellers via mere P.R. because peo­ple need best­sellers. It is not a lit­er­ary need. It is a social need. We want books every­body is read­ing (and nobody fin­ish­es) so we can talk about them.

On that social note

I was just look­ing at my beat-up copy of "The Dhar­ma Bums," and I felt a sort Chris Matthews-esque tin­gle. I bought it dur­ing high school at Rainy Day Books in Fair­way, Kansas, and it sparked my fas­ci­na­tion with the West Coast, years before I ever trav­eled here. Would I ever read it again? Prob­a­bly not. In fact, just now, I could bare­ly read even a cou­ple of pages with­out feel­ing like Ker­ouac was on auto-pilot. But I like the idea that my book­shelf is a kind of exter­nal­iza­tion of myself, a col­lec­tion of impor­tant influ­ences and expres­sions. The future of my books appears to be not so dif­fer­ent than the present: A com­bi­na­tion of tal­is­mans, objects of beau­ty, and points of reference.On the sub­ject of ref­er­ence, in (wait for it) a Harper's essay called ""A Defense of the Book," William Gass talks about the plea­sures of not hav­ing the world at your fin­ger­tips:

I have rarely paged through one of my dic­tio­nar­ies (a decent house­hold will have a dozen) with­out my eye light­ing, along the way, on words more beau­ti­ful than a found fall leaf, on def­i­n­i­tions odd­er than any uncle, on grotesques like gonadotropin-releas­ing hor­mone or, bare­ly, above it — what? — gombeen — which turns out to be Irish for usury.

And holy crap, there's a whole lot more Gass at Tun­nel­ing. Arti­cles, links, thoughts. I love the Inter­net.

Categories
basketball

This guy must be someone.

Crazy NBA Finals guy


The guy on the left, in the black hat; the one who looks like he just stepped out of a Coen Broth­ers movie. He was on the floor dur­ing every game of the NBA Finals. Who the heck is he? Any­way, you got­ta give him cred­it for break­ing the mold with regard to Finals attire: The braid­ed-leather-cow­boy-hat-and-ban­dan­na-around-the-neck com­bo was unex­pect­ed­ly effec­tive at get­ting him noticed, by every­one in my liv­ing room at least. (I hope all you stars in your brand-new Lak­ers hats were tak­ing notes.)

Categories
basketball ideas

Ideas / NBA Season Ticket, the trash-talk edition

I've got the killer app for the NBA tele­vi­sion-view­ing expe­ri­ence, some­thing that will melt faces around the world and pro­vide the league with yet anoth­er license to print mon­ey. (Props to Justin and Zidane who sparked this idea last night as we watched Game 3.)You could call it: NBA 360, or the Court­side Pack­age, or the Real NBA Court­side 360 Pack­age or what­ev­er, but the con­cept is sim­ple … Arrange some micro­phones around/above the court, and cre­ate a pay TV ser­vice that allows fans to hear the trash talk that accom­pa­nies every game. Even bet­ter: You could elim­i­nate the announc­ers, and go au naturel: Game trash talk sound­track, noth­ing more.

Kobe Bryant & Kevin Garnett exchange pleasantries
"I feel so mis­un­der­stood, KG. Some­times I just wish the fans could know the real Kobe." [Pho­to: Stephen Dunn]

David Stern will nev­er go for it, you say? You may be right — today — but Stern is a prod­uct man­ag­er at heart. His recent crack­downs may seem moral in nature, but they're real­ly efforts to main­tain the integri­ty of the cur­rent NBA brand. Of course, cer­tain brands con­tin­u­al­ly change, and some brands are forced to change. (Gen­er­al Motors can't con­tin­ue to be known pri­mar­i­ly the mak­ers of Sub­ur­bans and Hum­mers for­ev­er, for instance). Some­time soon, I expect that Stern will do what all good PMs do: Evolve his prod­uct and brand to respond to the mar­ket.

Why a trash-talk channel, then?

Well, my guess is that peo­ple har­bor few­er and few­er illu­sions about what's hap­pen­ing on the court. It obvi­ous­ly ain't Sun­day School, as much as the NBA wants you to believe it is. Also, even the slight­est peek at the trash talk is fas­ci­nat­ing. The one and only time I sat close to court­side — in Toron­to, 2003, end of the sea­son, against the Hor­nets — I heard Baron Davis and Rafer Alston go at it for a few sec­onds near the side­line and I was stunned: It was deeply per­son­al, and pro­found­ly enter­tain­ing. (It's also unre­peat­able on a fam­i­ly-ori­ent­ed blog like this). Curt Schilling sat court­side dur­ing Game 2 of the Finals, and he also was strange­ly com­pelled by the trash talk:

… About 43 times last night I heard things being said that would have made me swing at some­one. These guys talk MAJOR trash on the floor, and the great part is that most of the times I've seen it the guy on the receiv­ing end usu­al­ly doesn't respond much, if at all, and just plays the game, school­ing the guy who feels like he needs to talk to make his game bet­ter.

For exam­ple:

Last night KG goes to the line, Lamar Odom (who I became a fan of last night) is say­ing "Hey KG why don't you help on the ball down here?†Point­ing to the paint, and I am guess­ing he's ref­er­enc­ing the fact that KG wasn't down in the paint mix­ing it up. He says it again, loud­ly, KG doesn't even acknowl­edge him, and sinks both. Impres­sive, total focus.

For the record, I was ask­ing KG the same ques­tion from the pri­va­cy of my liv­ing room.

Anyway, on a philosophical note

For the last 10 or so years, the NBA has been in a sort of con­flict­ed ado­les­cence. Stern makes extreme efforts to man­age an out­ward appear­ance of nor­mal­i­ty, but this bare­ly masks the tur­bu­lence beneath the sur­face. He cre­at­ed a dress code, and he enforces strict poli­cies on com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the media. Mean­while, every­one asso­ci­at­ed with the league — fans, play­ers, coach­es, etc — knows that this is all win­dow-dress­ing, and dat­ed win­dow-dress­ing at that. There is a deeply com­pelling game with­in a game going on; why not pro­duc­tize it? There are per­son­al­i­ties, feuds, vil­lains, heroes, and so on — why not bring them out, and cre­ate a ser­vice that peo­ple will pay for in the process?

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basketball

The NBA / Where accountability happens

Mark Cuban is not afraid to talk about the block­buster trade that wasn't

[Don­nie Nel­son, Avery John­son and I] went back and forth about whether or not we should trade Devin [Har­ris]. We knew he was a good point guard, with the poten­tial to be amaz­ing. What we didn't know was how long that would take. On one hand, we didn't have enough con­fi­dence in him to let him call his own plays, but on the oth­er, he is a one man fast break, his shoot­ing was improv­ing by the minute, he is a good defend­er and his poten­tial was unde­ni­able. In Jason Kidd, we felt we would get a play­er that would make it eas­i­er for Dirk, Josh, Jet to get open shots. That Avery would no longer have to scream to push the ball, that JK was the best in the busi­ness at push­ing the ball in the open court. Plus, our rebound­ing had suf­fered this year vs last, JKidd is a great rebound­er and the press­es that had caused us prob­lems, would no longer be a prob­lem.

I buy that. For all of Devin Harris's virtues, he's still one of those guys who has very obvi­ous lim­i­ta­tions — nev­er going to be a good rebound­er, effec­tive at get­ting in pass­ing lanes but nev­er going to be a great defend­er, only going to get slow­er, didn't seem to be pro­gress­ing in a bas­ket­ball smarts sense (i.e., need­ing to con­stant­ly be remind­ed to push the ball upcourt). I didn't think it was a bad trade, real­ly, but I love that Cuban goes on to talk through his ratio­nale in what appears to be an open and hon­est way …

It wasn't an easy call. Between AJ, Don­nie and I, we would change our minds by the minute. I don't think there is any doubt that the pres­sure and close­ness of the West­ern Con­fer­ence race had some­thing to do with our deci­sion mak­ing process. In my mind, this sea­son was becom­ing anal­o­gous to the most ago­niz­ing sea­son I had been through, the 04–05 sea­son. We were hav­ing the same home vs road record delta, mul­ti­ple play­ers ask­ing to be trad­ed and even more inter­nal ten­sion about our lack of con­sis­tent per­for­mance than we had in 04–05.

Speak­ing of that "inter­nal ten­sion," Cuban goes on to dis­cuss anoth­er ele­phant in the Mavs' room …

I also know what I learned from Nash leav­ing. As great an offen­sive coach as Nel­lie is, Nash wasn't play­ing at MVP lev­els with us. A change of scenery and coach­es and sys­tem, some pay­back moti­va­tion and he became a very, very deserv­ing 2 time MVP.

Aside from the implied (or inad­ver­tent?) dig at Nellie's "fail­ure" to get the best out of Nash, this approach makes a lot of sense to me. There are obvi­ous pre­cur­sors to it, in addi­tion to Nash's renais­sance in Phoenix — Web­ber to Sacra­men­to (much younger than Kidd, of course), Shaq to Mia­mi (a lit­tle younger than Kidd), maybe Barkley to the Suns and Wal­ton to the Celtics (dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions, but sim­i­lar­ly pos­i­tive effects). Any­way, whether any of this is accu­rate, true, or what­ev­er, I appre­ci­ate that Mark Cuban is say­ing it. He clear­ly feels account­able to the fans, and he's leav­ing it all on the court in a PR sense.