Monday, June 08, 2015

Mail It In, Big Fella!

It's a disaster of week here in the GTB editorial offices. Don't expect much. 

In the wake of last night's epic, ugly, crazy, intense Cavaliers win, here's a flashback to another time LeBron found himself in the center of a media firestorm. I don't think there's ever been a superstar who gets the same treatment as James. As I said on Twitter last night, if LeBron was officiated in the same way as Michael Jordan was, James would go to the line 25 times a game, and score 45 each night. He's simply an original, and I think he's the best ever.

From June 9, 2011:

"A disaster of mammoth proportions."

"Inexplicable."

"Inexcusable."

"Mystifying."

These and dozens (if not thousands) of other words died in vain over the past two days, sent forth to battle from the tongues and pens of the warriors of the great chattering sportshype machine in response to LeBron James' subpar and oddly passive effort in the 4th quarter of Tuesday's NBA Finals Game 4. General Stephen A. Smith implied (hell, he asserted) on this morning's Mike and Mike Show that LeBron was facing personal issues that were impacting his performance. (In a stunning display of both cowardice and look-at-me yellow journalism, Smith also claimed to know all about the issues, but declined to elaborate.)

Let us stipulate that James, the most physically gifted player in the NBA indeed played badly and un-starlike in the quarter in question. Let us further stipulate that his self-aggrandizing "Decision" was badly conceived and terribly executed. But we come here today not to bury LeBron James, but to wonder what the fuck we as a sports society want from him?

While we all say championships are what matter and build shrines to winners, we have an oddly skewed perspective on LeBron. Instead of celebrating a player who has routinely sublimated his (fairly massive) ego in pursuit of a championship, we flay LeBron any chance we get. The man took less money to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He was clearly the star of the Eastern Conference Finals with his two-way play against Derrick Rose and the Bulls. And now, four games later, he's a bum because Wade's outshone him against the Mavericks? Bullshit.

Sally Jenkins rode to the rescue in today's Washington Post, channeling no less a sage than Phil Jackson, the man who convinced both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant that they needed to share the ball at least a little in order to win. Says Jenkins,
“The fact is, selflessness is the soul of teamwork,” Jackson said a few years ago to EnlightenNext magazine. “We have a practical rule in our game: When you stop the basketball — when it resides in your presence and you hold it for longer than two counts — you’ve destroyed our rhythm. When the ball is in your hands, you become the focal point. And when you become the focus, our system breaks down. It’s that simple.”

“It doesn’t matter how good individual players are — they can’t compete with a team that is awake and aware and trusts each other. People don’t understand that. Most of the time, everybody’s so concerned about not being disrespected. But you have to check that attitude at the door — that defensiveness, that protection of your own image and reputation. Everybody needs help in this game.”
It's not enough to win now, we need style points. We need our superstars to win the right way, to dominate, to see their enemies driven before them, to hear the lamentations of their women. And to do it selfishly, individually, alpha male-style. That seems a perversion of everything we teach our kids and claim to want from our colleagues.

For obvious reasons, I have a soft spot for LeBron
. I'm rooting for him to have a big game tonight and lead the Heat to a win. And then I want him to walk over to the nearest big-mouth media member and stab him to death with a pencil, exclaiming for all our blood-lusting benefit, ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

Stephen A. would still call him a pussy.

30 comments:

T.J. said...

happy birthday, tiny

Clarence said...

Happy birthday, little buddy. You are getting old, and so are all of us: my request for wild stories from a summit of fratres in Atlantic City netted some aghast reviews of a TV show.

TR said...

AC was eventful, to say the least. One guy landed in the ER, another landed in a pool at a club. In his pants. With his phone and wallet in his pocket. By choice. Most (but not all) folks held their liquor well. One who will not be named actually held his vomit in his hand while getting sick at a club, but managed to excuse himself and try to clean up.

After a long day of drinking/gambling on Saturday and a good steak dinner, we held down the VIP section of a preposterously large and fun club called The Pool Bar After Dark (or something like that) that had an upstairs outside smoking area that had no security, which some who will not be named enjoyed. Many 40-something men danced to hip hop more that night than they probably had in some time. It was a good, surprising call for the night, which avoided having 9 dudes yell at each other about where to gamble/drink next. Marley Marl bought an expensive round of Pappy's for a few of us. He may regret that now. He definitely should. I enjoyed it mightily though.

Nobody seemed to win or lose big at the tables. Weather wasn't great. The town was sad and not very crowded, but the preposterousness of the city made for a great backdrop for 9 guys to drink almost non-stop for 36+ hours.

zman said...

I've said it here before: I don't think you can compare different players from different eras. Jordan had to deal with hand-checks while LeBron has to deal with zone defenses. I also think my judgment is clouded because I was so young when Jordan played. For the same reason I don't think I'll ever see a better QB than Joe Montana. So I don't spend too much mental energy on the "who's better" arguments in sports anymore. Just enjoy watching great players play.

rob said...

#coldtake

Squeaky said...

Happy B-day, Rob.

Danimal said...

Happy birthday tiny dancer.

The man ahead of me in line at the local surfer/stoner joint gave the name "T-Bone" after his order. Mid-50's, way below the knees jorts, or shall I say "Carpeans", and tank top. He seemed to have a screw loose because the beach.

rob said...

ed burns is married to christy turlington? how did this escape our attention? and well done, ed.

zman said...

Back when I worked in NY and went to hipster food trucks I always told them my name is Sweet Dick Willie.

Danimal said...

your attention rob. your attention.

TR said...

He upgraded from Heather Graham. Even Tom Brady said "impressive switch" after that.

And happy 50th, Rob.

Marls said...

Happy birthday Tiny.

My only regret on the Pappy was being too overserved to really enjoy it. That and explains the bar tab to Mrs. Marls.

Good times gents. Thanks to TR and the DLC for setting it up.

zman said...

Whoa whoa whoa! Heather Graham isn't some hole in the wall, she's Rollergirl!

zman said...

Mad Men is over forever and Game of Thrones' season ends on Sunday. I'm almost done with Sons of Anarchy (which fell apart about 2 seasons ago but I'm finishing it because I'm an idiot). Anyone got any TV recommendations for my Netflix queue?

T.J. said...

The Fall
Luther
Hannibal

zman said...

Thanks Teedge. I tried to get into Luther but I couldn't. I can't wrap my head around seeing Stringer Bell as a British cop. I'll check out The Fall and Hannibal.

Squeaky said...

Well the hell do you all have time to watch all this TV?

T.J. said...

Sporadic binge-watching. Sometimes we'll go weeks without having any time to watch a show, but we'll have an evening or a weekend where we'll watch 4-8 episodes in a sitting. The BBC shows are particularly easy to binge-watch since their "seasons" consist of 4-5 episodes.

Dave said...

happy b-day rob.

cat and i were in atlantic city friday night! how did i not know you guys were there?

Dave said...

zman, watch "the returned." short season, french show. don't watch the american version.

also, you can't upgrade from heath graham.

and parks and rec and bob's burgers are funny and you can watch with the kids . . .

Clarence said...

I dug Luther quite a bit. Also, Sherlock and Dexter have entertained.

Heath Graham, eh, Dave? Something you want to tell us?

Shlara said...

Happy Bday Rob!

And I LOVE Ed Burns.
He just may be the perfect guy...

Mark said...

I liked Sherlock and Luther. We just started Bloodline.

I think we're going to try and tackle Justified this summer since we need another ultra violent FX show to replace Sons. Zman's right about that show, btw. Sons was never high brow TV but it was entertaining in the early years. Towards the end? Not so much.

Dave said...

i love luther and sherlock. and yes, i should tell you guys that i used to "hang out" with heather graham.

zman said...

Sons became ridiculously improbable. When Peg Bundy and Adrianna LeCerva became homegirls I was like WTF?

rob said...

uswnt looking like dogshit

rob said...

aussies look faster, more composed, and better organized. otherwise, things are going swimmingly.

rob said...

disregard the rantings of a loon

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TR said...

Happy 6/9, folks.