The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Bits and Bobs

– There’s been a variety of reactions to Ron Artest’s latest “my crazy, let me show you it” interview, in particular disbelief about his claim to have been drinking at halftime of games. Far be it for me to vouch for Ron’s credibility, but he would not be the first- there’s been rumors forever about Roy Tarpley, and more specifically former Raptor and Nugget Keon Clark admitted in open court as part of a sentencing hearing to being an alcoholic who drank at halftime. There’s more details on wikipedia. I doubt this sort of thing is what you’d call a widespread problem, but it’s also a bit naive to think it’s never happened or isn’t possible.

– Hand shake gate. It’s a lovely custom that this is done at the end of football matches; it’s a ridiculous obsession that an entire nation can be enraged by the failure to abide by it. If people’s point is that Wenger is a poor sportsman, well, he is- years and years of “eeeehhh, I deed nuut see ze plae tu cleerlee” have long since proven that, not that it makes him at all different from 99% of the men to have ever been involved with the game (and better than many). But so what? The idea that this is front page news says a lot about the weird pantomime morality-play media coverage the Premier League receives, the way in which the volume of attention outstrips by far the number of intelligent things to be said about the league or the number of people who can be found to say them. I have been guilty in the past of thinking football fans to be dumber than the fans of many other sports; the more I consider it, it may just be that the intelligent and detailed commentary on the sport is getting drowned out by this sort of bullhonkey.

– The Nets’ new record. I’ve been a fan of this team for about 20 years now, give or take; and to be honest, in that time, I’m almost surprised that they haven’t set some sort of mark like this before. Sports can teach a person many values and virtues I think, and even sports fandom can convey a few. To be a Nets fan is to learn some of these: fortitude in dark times, patience under duress in the expectation of something better to come, postponement of gratification and forbearance in the face of widespread mockery. To be a Nets fan is to be tempered by the experience of tragedy. In short, it builds character. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway….

In all seriousness, I almost prefer it this way. There’s nothing worse in an NBA team than to be one of those Godforsaken outfits which finish somewhere between 7th and 12th in a conference, the going-nowhere holding pattern teams which are neither good enough to be entertaining, nor bad enough to get a good draft pick, nor distinctive enough to be memorable. I got all I could stand of such teams during the early part of this decade with the Rangers and, well, pretty much the whole of this decade with the Knicks. Far better to suck outrageously, flamboyantly and memorably than to plod on in hopeless pursuit of a meaningless 8th seed. In 3 years the Nets could be set up in a great new arena in a new state with new owners and a solid base of young talent to build on, and in the meantime at least there’s something to talk about even if it is the Nets being, well…the Nets. We survived Chris Morris’s untied shoes, Yinka Dare, the years when Kendall Gill was the best player on the team, Starbury as the great hope, John Calipari: NBA coach, “whoop-de-damn-doo” and a variety of other prodigious humiliations; this too shall pass, albeit like a rather large kidney stone.

– The Net’s coaching decision. I’m more confident than I might have been in this for two reasons: Del Harris knows his business, and the suggestions from Kiki et al. about loosening up the offense, pushing the pace and trying to force mistakes in order to take advantage of the Nets’ young legs to me seem the right sorts of ideas to help things. Among the Nets’ offensive problems have been a lack of fast break points (all the more important when you can’t open up the halfcourt with shooters) and an eerily predictable rigidity which has made stopping them all too easy. They need to sloppy it up some, force the action, try some more high-variability plays; playing precision ball is great if you’re the better team and can be confident that your quality will tell over time, but when you suck out loud it’s best to gamble. In the Nets’ case, literally above all other teams in NBA history, what do they really have to lose? That said there is one major worry: in the first game after the announcement of the new coach the Nets went out there, lost again, and in the process put on what I have to assume is one of the all-time bad single quarter performances in an NBA game, allowing 49 points and 90% shooting. These Nets aren’t any good obviously, but to be THAT bad strongly suggests that they more or less gave up. That is not a good sign, and it indicates this thing is starting to snowball.

– A more generally negative counter-view on the Nets. The bit about the assistant coaches is so fucking bushleague.

– You know how Arsene’s always talking about how he’s afraid of killing his player’s careers by bringing in veterans in front of them? Mikael Silvestre started yesterday, while Phil Senderos was nowhere to be seen as he has been for this entire season. Hell of a fate to befall a man who once was part of a (Martin Keown-coached) defense which went to the CL final.

– Strikeforce has quietly signed a bunch of interesting fighters of late- King Mo, Melvin Manhoef, and now KJ Noons (hopefully setting up another fight with Nick Diaz, eventually). You have to give them credit in this respect:faced with the issue of a shallow talent pool thin on potential stars, they’ve gone out and done their best to acquire the kinds of fighters who can be built into stars even if they’re not at that level yet as draws. That’s the hard work of promotion, and they’re busy at it.

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December 3, 2009 - Posted by | MMA, Other NBA, The Arsenal, The Nets

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