The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Goofy Stuff

Apparently that Fedor/M-1 presser today was a completely ridiculous affair, highlighted by Finkelchtein or someone suggesting that it was important for MMA to have competition to the UFC, so UFC should co-promote with M1 on all events with Fedor. They really said this.

If you ever wonder why Fedor isn’t in the UFC, it’s not because Fedor’s scared or UFC isn’t paying enough, or because Fedor wants his SAMBO (which is an enormous red herring), or anything at all other than that the M1 people are intransigent crazies who at best don’t have a quarter of a clue, and at worst DO have a clue and also a completely separate agenda. Which of those it is I don’t know; I do know that if I were the UFC braintrust I’d be incredibly hesitant to do any kind of serious business with these people, especially if I didn’t need to. UFC doesn’t really need to; in the end that may be the most important factor.

It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens to Fedor 5-10 years after he retires.


“–The only thing we can say on the subject is that two different sources have told us negotiations between UFC and Fedor have fallen through again.”

Dave Meltzer

I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: Fedor is in serious danger of becoming a joke, entirely because of the ridiculous and shady behavior of the people surrounding him. This isn’t 2002 when there was a seriously competitive and arguably superior other promotion for top level fighters to compete in; if Fedor doesn’t end up in UFC he ends up- from a competitive and possibly a business perspective- nowhere, and the only real reason that might happen is the creepy behavior of the M1 team. There’s serious rumors out there about who these guys are and who they represent, but leave that aside for the moment; ask yourself this question: why are something like 80% or more of the monies paid to Fedor for his fights channeled into M1 instead of being paid to the fighter directly? Why are people who claim to be looking out for Fedor’s best interests holding his career hostage in order to hopefully win a co-promotional deal which won’t result in greater revenues directly paid to the fighter whose ability is the driving force behind M1’s demands? Fedor got $300,000 on the books for each Affliction fight (plus a previous undisclosed signing bonus), and the last reported UFC offer was something like $5 million a fight. If you gave a damn about Fedor and were negotiating in good faith on his behalf, what possible reason could you have for turning that down on the basis of Fedor’s own interests? And the answer is obvious: none. The only reason M1 have is because tying Fedor to UFC takes him out of their control and deprives them of the ability to use Fedor’s name and fame to build their business ventures, of which Fedor gets at best a pittance. This is why managers (who have a duty to their client) and promoters (who have a duty to themselves) should never be the same: there’s a massive, massive conflict of interest.

UFC is rightly criticized for some of their sketchier and more counterproductive financial dealings- principally the habit of never fully disclosing fighter pay- but they are fundamentally an above-board organization run along fairly clean and intelligent business lines. They aren’t in the same universe of shadiness that M1 is, and fans really should realize that.


July 29, 2009 Posted by | MMA | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Single Stupidest Thing Ever Written

Good. Gravy. I’m going to fisk this.

“NEW YORK – Let’s start with the popcorn. It is unfair to call it a tub of popcorn, as they do at the new Yankee Stadium. Perhaps a trough of popcorn, or a tank of popcorn, and, at 2,473 calories, definitely a gutbuster of popcorn. All around the newest theater of excess are such indulgences, culinary and otherwise, this particular caloric dirty bomb available for $12.”

I was in a restaurant a month or two ago where they had a really great buffalo burger with fries- absolutely delicious, totally irresistible, and a horrifying 1500 calories as I recall. My devilish plan of attack was this: I ate the burger, I ate the fries, I got a salad with that, I went out for a run that evening, and had soup or some such for dinner. 2200ish calories intake, minus what the run burned. SHOCKING FORESIGHT. I’m given to understand that I may not even be unique in my ability to plan my indulgences….

But of course the reality of what people do with that much popcorn and all those calories isn’t the point of this introductory paragraph. The point is YOUR POPCORN IS IMMORAL YOU GREASY PIGS, no? Bonus tonedeaf-and-tasteless points for getting a terrorism reference into an article about a New York team- we asked for it it, because we ordered the Large!

“That’s the thing about the new Yankee Stadium: Not only is it the biggest, the newest, the most expensive and the self-described best – the homage to everything that was America – it gets away with it, charm intact, for one simple reason.

The New York Yankees are unapologetic in their embrace of that culture. They are the canyon of popcorn and the 1,410-calorie plate of nachos and the 1,360-calorie bag of peanuts and the 1,341-calorie cup of cheese fries, and their fans are still begging for a heart attack.”

He really hates all that traditional ballpark food, doesn’t he? Keep that in mind. Note also that two paragraphs in, we’ve already degenerated into vast, nonspecific generalizations- “that culture”. Which culture? New York culture, rich elite culture, everyone’s favorite rhetorical whipping boy the “American culture of excess”? I’m going to need specifics here, because otherwise I’ll end up asking in what way are, say, financial malefactions on Wall Street linked to popcorn size at this stadium, except by vague geographic proximity? In what way does this have any more value as a connection, factual or rhetorical, than, say, my eating at a steakhouse in Texas and claiming that the size of the portions and the ready availability of red meat was a symbol of the bloodlust and overreach of the Bush presidency? Both are or would be utter non-sequiturs. Even the vaguely more defensible idea that the author is addressing some amorphous general quality of “American excess” makes little sense given that he’s trying to use this stadium as a symbol thereof- when anyone who pays the least bit of attention to the wider world can name you ten stadia in Europe at a similar level of opulence, starting with Old Trafford, the New Wembley, the Emirates….

“Which made the official christening of the $1.5 billion stadium Thursday afternoon an event laden with grins and excitement (and arterial plaque buildup), even as the Cleveland Indians stomped the Yankees, 10-2. More than halfway through April, the Yankees finally had their home opener, and any of the 48,271 present can attest that the team’s new dwelling lived up to its billing, good and bad.”

Which is why the only quotes in the article are from the dumbest person alive, who we’ll meet in a bit. Couldn’t be cherry picking, could it?

“It’s unclear whether Yankee Stadium wants to be a ballpark with killer amenities or a mall with a baseball field in the middle. The inside of the stadium is freakishly loyal to its predecessor, like twins who look identical but are actually fraternal. The differences are ornamental, and because of its classic look, the initial thought is: Really, $1.5 billion? And you didn’t reinvent the baseball stadium like Camden Yards in 1993? The toilet seats are definitely gold-plated, right?”

So the problem with the excess is that it’s not opulent and flashy enough? In their wild American excess, symbolic of the age, they preserved the appearance of a ballpark built in 1923?

“One trip around the concourse, and suddenly the cost makes more sense. It is a sea of goods, the free market through a Yankee kaleidoscope, a study in old-fashioned gluttony. It is a cheesesteak line 50 people deep, and a beer garden serving 14 sudsy favorites, and pink foam fingers next to pink hats with flowers alongside pink hats with glitter-covered NY logos.”

Gee, with 48,000 in a 52,000 seater, I figured there’d be no lines for anything. I mean, surely with that excess and opulence, there must be individual sedan chairs carrying patrons to individual vendors, no? Not just people waiting to buy lunch? All I’ll say about the rest is that if choices of beer makes you think of the fall of empire and pink hats terrify you, you need to get out of your treefort with the “no girls allowed” sign on it more often. I will also buy a pink hat for the first person to explain to me why the presence of shops explains the stadium cost; are they running at a loss?

“Next to the hat wall, where more than 100 styles are available, stood Kelley Rutkowski, a 23-year-old from New Jersey. She already had wrecked her diet for the day with the nachos and was inclined to do similar damage with her credit card, because her seat happened to be in the shade, and she was chilly. She found a hooded sweatshirt adorned with rhinestones. She looked at the price tag: $125. Rutkowski quickly summoned David Sidibe, a young salesman.

“Those are diamonds, right?” she said.

Sidibe’s eyes apologized.

“I literally can’t afford to keep warm at this game,” Rutkowski said. “Can I just tell you, David, this is a sin. I’m freaking freezing, and there’s no way I’m spending $125 on a freaking sweatshirt, because that’s how this country got into this mess.””

What. I just…what? How…how can….one person be this….dumb? How does this person get dressed in the morning and eat breakfast without drowning in the cereal or pouring coffee in their eyes? BRING A JACKET, you excruciating cretin. It’s been in the mid 50’s to low 60’s here of late, and common sense might tell you that if you’re sitting still outdoors in the breeze for 3 hours in that weather, maybe you should take a light wrap. Or, you know, sit there and shiver and complain about how American Capitalism has destroyed your dreams or whatnot. It’s like the definition of cursing the darkness instead of lighting a candle. And lest it pass without mention, the one idiot quoted in this article actually undermines whatever point the author was going for, since they are explicitly NOT participating in ruinous American excess or whathaveyou, they’re just whining about not being able to afford whatever goofy item they were looking at. Unless the stadium explicitly bans coats and sells 100 hat styles and one sweatshirt, this whole section is ludicrous.

“Never have $125 hoodies been mentioned alongside credit-default swaps and subprime mortgages. Indeed, a day of firsts, from that to Johnny Damon slicing the first hit into center field and Jorge Posada mashing the first home run into the new Monument Park in center.

“I knew that when I came here,” Rutkowski said, “I was going to spend a bunch of money I don’t have.””

And yet the core rhetorical gambit here is as old as sport, and specially associated with baseball: attempting to scry some special insight into the soul of the nation based on random occurrences from a single game of a single sport in a single city on a single day in a single stadium with a single crowd. You might as well read tea leaves or cast bones. Indeed you might be better off with such methods, since while all are equally bogus this particular sort of column about this particular sport is so threadbare and used up that virtually anyone with eyes to see can look right through it, and disregard the credibility of the author in doing so.

And also, if you’re spending money you don’t have, STAY HOME. I’ve been to one Knicks game this year because $80 a ticket is brutal. If I went to more and couldn’t afford it I’d be an idiot, not a bellwether of the national character.

“Rutkowski didn’t give in to the hoodie’s 74 rhinestones, principle preventing her from brandishing her MasterCard. Others did, and the Yankees reaped untold millions in merchandise and concession sales. Forget the competitive advantage given them by location and television rights; the Yankees’ revenues from the vendors and the tickets that range up to $2,625 for the front row will do plenty to cover a $200 million payroll.”

…so they’re spending on players and the stadium what they can afford based on revenues? This is the definition of wild excess?

“All because people buy into what the Yankees sell. It’s a lifestyle based around winning, and how doing so demands the biggest, newest and best. Depending on the perspective, either the Yankees are profiteers and the fans suckers, or both are willing participants in a time-honored waltz: pure commercialism.”

Or maybe both prices and incomes are much higher in New York than in most areas of the country leading to generally inflated prices and revenue figures, which fans are willing to pay because they can and they consider it a reasonable price to watch a game of baseball. If you’re selling out a 52,000 seater virtually every game, 81 times a year, it’s hard for me to buy the story that there’s something inherently wrong here. Really the only way this argument (if it rises to that level) makes the least bit of sense is if you assume there’s some specific “moral” price of a baseball ticket, where charging more makes you a profiteer and paying more makes you a sucker. At this point we’re trending off into elementary political economics which is a whole larger argument, so let me just say: if tens of thousands a week want to spend their money this way on this team in a metropolitan area in which there’s literally thousands of competing entertainments at every conceivable price point (including watching the games on TV!), I’m not really prepared to assume that they’re making a stupid or unwise choice. And further, if the intrusion of money into sport renders it “pure commercialism”, then sport has never been anything but since prizes were handed out among the Greeks. Get over it.

“Otherwise, the Yankees would still be at the old stadium, American sports’ truest cauldron of history. It remains standing next door and over the next few years will be picked apart by the atom and sold. And if the Yankees could split those atoms and peddle each for double, surely they would.”

That would of course be the stadium which the current one is apparently an eerie recreation of; but I suppose you can’t recreate “ghosts”, “aura”, “mystique” and “that stale urine smell in the bathrooms” or “that time in 1998 when a falling beam destroyed a section of seating and closed the place for two weeks”, right? Best not to mention the endless renovations over the old stadium’s 85 year run which completely remodeled much of the original in the mid-70’s as well, including full on demolition and rebuilding of some sections, enough so that some authorities consider the two to be separate facilities. Incidentally, a quick calculation reveals that the old Yankee Stadium cost about $300 million in 2007 dollars on its initial construction, with an additional equivalent of $610 million spent during the reconstruction in the 70’s. As we all know however, those were the days of history, whereas now it’s just pure commercialism as money infects the game. Right folks?

“Now, instead of the filth and funk of an 85-year-old stadium, the Yankees offer pears. Three kinds. And three varieties of apples, too. And tangerines and oranges and bananas, all for sale at the farmer’s market, which is near the Legends Suite Club, with its folded napkins, polished silverware and vases housing flowers. And, for Ruth and Mickey and Joe D’s sake, the Lobel’s stand that sells hunks of uncooked meat. In a stadium. Four ribeyes for $120.”

A pear mugged my grandma once, you know. Vicious things. Hey, remember a couple of paragraphs up when this guy was ranting about all that damn popcorn and cheese fries and such? I rather doubt he did by the time he got to this part of the article, because otherwise he might have wondered if being against almost all food items sold at baseball games might look a bit silly. So far as I can tell from this he apparently believes that it’s a moral point that only medium sizes of traditional ballpark foods be offered. An interesting hill to die on.

“It’s one thing to push an island of popcorn. But beef? Raw beef? Deep down, beneath the Yankees’ money-making behemoth, could there exist the slightest sliver of guilt for something as disturbing as seeing dry-aged beef on display in a ballpark?”

A challenge for all moral philosophers out there: please create a cogent argument as to why selling meat in a ballpark represents something for which a person should feel guilt; show your work.

Honestly though, we all know what the real argument here is: “Things are different! I feel uncomfortable and upset! Change frightens me! This is not my beautiful house! How did I get here?” And it’s a stupid, stupid argument. Indeed it’s among the most thoughtless a person can use, because it has zero intellectual content: it’s just emotion, badly expressed and incoherent in its nebulousness, sinister insofar as its lazily ascribes moral weight to simple differences of taste. If this author wrote politics instead of sports, I would bet good money on him being one of those goofballs who complains about America needing better immigration limits and border control because the imported salsa at his grocery store frightens him. What can you do with this sort of person?

“Nope. Not an iota. And it’s edifying, in a way, that the Yankees stayed true to themselves and their believers, responsibility be damned. It’s the American way, after all.”

I’ll just ask the same questions I ask whenever I see that word used: responsibility to who, for what, for what reasons? Any just moral claim can answer them very easily, most specious ones don’t even think they matter.

““This is going to stand the test of time,” Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon said. “The economy will one day get right. So in time, people will look at this and say it’s definitely worth it.”

They’ll look at the Great Hall, ultimately the stadium showpiece, a meeting place festooned with vertical banners of Yankees greats. It’s a long corridor walled with impossibly large pieces of limestone and granite, the sort that recall an opulent style abandoned long ago. Few are willing to spend the necessary money for such quality.

Why do the Yankees? It’s who they are. Another stop in the gift shop spells it out explicitly. A different hooded sweatshirt, one without rhinestones, is available for $70. On the front it reads YANKEES UNIVERSE, a friendly reminder for those who may have forgotten.”

Why do I suspect the reporter didn’t mention this sweatshirt to his quote, for fear it might ruin his story?

Folks, this article is dumb. Real dumb. In fact it’s a particularly fine example of its species of dumb, the Lazy Moral Scold Without Specifics. If there’s anything a psych degree taught me, it’s that in the aggregate people are fairly predictable; so one of the reasons I follow sports and the sports media is because the ways in which people are intellectually lazy or thoughtless about things and the worthless arguments they use tend to be the same from field to field. The ways people are dumb about sports are the ways they’re dumb about, say, bioethics or foreign policy in the middle east, more often than not. Think about this the next time you’re evaluating political or commercial appeals- it cuts through the clutter marvelously.

Incidentally, all facts mentioned here came from Wikipedia and a first page google search result for an inflation adjuster. Apparently that’s outside Yahoo’s research budget these days.

April 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

We Get it Already, You Hate the NBA

Ian Thomsen at SI.

I’m going to semi-fisk this absurdity.

“More and more I find myself feeling compelled to write about teenage draft picks who may never pan out, as well as moves that may never happen at the trade deadline this February or in the summer of 2010, while in the meantime, events that are actually happening right now seem to carry less and less importance.”

Compelled by who, precisely? Editors, fans, armed gunmen? We’ve got a league going this year in which there’s three teams which might top 70 wins and there’s been several notable trades as teams try and redesign their rosters and offensive and defensive approaches to contend this year, and this guy’s whining that persons unnamed are forcing him not to write about this? Those events don’t “seem to carry less and less importance”, in his passive(-aggressive) construction, they just don’t interest him as much. A trip around any of the many team-specific NBA blogs out there is a good reminder that no, actually, lots of people care about this season right now. Go to Blogabull, their last game chat produced almost 800 comments for a game between two sub-.500 teams for God’s sake.

“5. Here’s an example. While attending a recent game at an NBA arena, a league personnel scout and I worked through a list of possible new homes for Steve Nash based on two enormous ifs: a collapse by the Suns prior to the February 2009 trade deadline, and a subsequent decision by them to cash out for the 34-year-old Nash now rather than wait until next season, when his contract will be expiring.

We had been talking about the Suns’ difficulties when we naturally began wondering about Nash’s future, and whether he might be made available sooner than later. “He would become the NBA’s Brett Favre,” I declared as we worked our way through the NBA standings in search for possible Nash suitors. Here is what we came up with:”

So basically he sat down with an unnamed scout and shot the shit of his own volition about a potential trade sometime in the future, and this means he’s being “compelled” to do so?

(His list of speculation)

“This is the kind of interesting discussion that drives coverage of the NBA on the Internet. It is speculation, and when engaging in it I try to write it as such. But somewhere along the way speculation often becomes more important than fact.”

Yeah, I remember when Boston really locked down on their speculation in the playoffs last year; that was totally what got them past Cleveland, dude. What Thomsen is actually saying here is “I don’t give a shit about this season or this league”, he just doesn’t have the courage to stand behind that, so the whole thing is written in a passive construction where his opinion is written as something which just seems to happen, somehow. It’s a pretty sad dodge, and basically dishonest. He’s also made a habit of it, which has been noticed before.

“The big story of this NBA season revolves around LeBron’s future. Will he stay in Cleveland, or is he destined to be a Knick? In previous generations, this would be an interesting back-burner plot line. But the way things work today, LeBron In 2010 appears to be all that matters.

Except of course that fans in Toronto or Boston or Houston or LA or Atlanta or Memphis or etc. really just don’t give a shit, do they? They care about their teams, and if you read any of the LeBron-related articles you’ll always find an enormous faction of people who are sick of the speculation and want to talk about this season. Thomsen’s making the mistake of assuming that his perception of that part of the media coverage of this season which he remembers is an accurate reflection of what most people really care about. It’s not, and his assumption is pretty damn arrogant.

“In the meantime, the Cavs (19-3 through Thursday) are contenders to win the championship. Throughout these opening weeks, I’ve assumed that they were a good player short of contending this season, based on the recent NBA Finals struggles of LeBron and Kobe Bryant as the lone stars of their teams. But I am telling you now that I have been wrong.

I can also tell you that the Celtics view Cleveland as their equal, based on the backcourt addition of Williams, the growing cohesion of the Cavs’ roster since the blockbuster trade of last February, and the continued improvement of LeBron himself. The Cavs are outscoring all comers by a league-leading average of 13.4 points, they’re No. 4 in scoring and virtually equal to the Celtics atop the defensive stats, and they’re doing all of this while LeBron plays five fewer minutes per game than last season.

Has my attention on the present been obscured by innuendo about 2010? Maybe. But instead of lathering about the Knicks and LeBron, shouldn’t we be attending to the landscape here and now and ask: Who would be so crazy as to walk away from a team as dominant as the Cavs are today? (And Cleveland is near his hometown at that.)

So why the heck didn’t he write THIS article, which might have been interesting, instead of burying it as a parenthetical inside of a larger moan about the existence of media coverage of the kind which his article exemplifies? Unless the whole thing is some sort of ironic performance art, I really don’t get it.

“3. The draft is the NBA’s black hole. I cover this story because I know the readers eat it up, and nobody can accuse me of not trying as my mock draft last June was relatively accurate. But let’s be honest: The draft is a weak version of what it used to be, when the best talents spent three or four years in college before turning pro. It’s preposterous to imagine a rookie winning the league MVP, as Wes Unseld did in 1968-69.”

As well it should be. No league should be so bereft of talent that a rank amateur can walk in and be the best player in the entire league. The draft today draws talent from all over the world from a much larger pool both domestically and internationally than it did in the ’60’s, and it’s also been streamlined so that only the very best of the best talents are now even considered. Or should we go back to having 7 rounds or so, so GMs can draft their cousins and the ball-boys for laughs?

And here’s the other thing: What, exactly, is the massive moral or practical issue with drafting players at 18 or 19?  Just once, just ONCE, I would love to see one of college basketball’s kept media outlets show me a good rigorous well-designed study indicating that being in the college environment with limited practice time does a better job of dveloping professional-quality basketball players than being in a professional environment with professional coaches and training opportunities does. You lot don’t get to take this as a given; prove it. I fail to see how hanging around the morally corrupt atmosphere of college as effectively something between an indentured servant and an apprentice, taking classes in “communications” and rarely showing up in between accepting under-the-table booster money is preferable to allowing a young man to make a living off his skills.

“Most of the players who enter the draft are too young and unschooled to contribute at the NBA level. They are years away from becoming useful members of this lucrative society, which is why the NBA draft bears more in common with baseball’s draft than with the NFL’s.”

Ah yes, baseball; a dying sport, that. I won’t be uncharitable enough to assume Thomsen is invoking baseball as a way to shield himself from being called a racist; but let’s actually examine his claim. We’ll use PER shorthand, which isn’t really rigorous analysis, but it’ll do. Here’s Hollinger’s PER list for rookies; you will notice there are currently 14 players contributing at an average (15+) level or better this season, and there are others below that threshold- Ryan Anderson, Nicolas Batum, Michael Beasley, etc.- who could all justly be described as important components of their teams, teams which are all over .500. But don’t let that from stopping you.

“The quality of the draft has never been worse, and yet interest is at an all-time high. I don’t understand it.”

O rly?

“As the NBA grew more valuable, and the players negotiated more money for themselves, the league had to come up with new ways to prevent its owners from spending themselves out of existence. The salary cap led to the luxury tax, which has created a system in which the contract of a player is often more important than his talent. It is a system in which trades cannot be manufactured unless salaries of equal value are exchanged (with a few loopholes, of course).Teams used to trade players of similar ability. Now they trade contracts of similar value, or they maneuver those contracts to clear cap space for 2010.”

And if Thomsen has a better idea than the current system, that would also be an interesting column to read. But why write that, it would take research! Better to shoot the shit with a scout and turn your resulting malaise into a week’s work.

As always with almost any system which could be devised, the issue here is more that some NBA GMs are really, really bad, and really bad GMs can screw up any system. Witness the different prognosis for the Knicks under Walsh and Zeke; even understanding that the Knicks are aiming at 2010, there’s no way they can be as bad this year as they were previously, because someone who knows what he’s doing has assembled them. What Thomsen’s missing is the real significance of the system he describes, which has resulted in a model in which teams move cyclically from being useless but having flexibility, to being much better but having reduced flexibility, and back again; the trick is to generate a team good enough to seriously contend before you run out of flexibility to add to your assets, or else to be exceptionally clever at finding additional flexibility. Bad GMs don’t recognize that and squander flexibility, which is money, on assets without a sufficient rate of return; good GMs do not. Under the old wild west system the biggest teams had more flexibility, but they often just squandered that even faster and more uselessly because they were still run by idiots and if anything the sheer amount of flexibility encouraged waste. Does anyone in his right mind think that situation was better? Who mourns the Ted Stepien era?

“”The other part of this equation is the role of the Internet and the nanosecond news cycle. In this virtual world in which we must always be looking ahead to the next big thing, the medium has become the message.”

All the insight you can get in a fortune cookie or freshman year creative writing class.

Let’s be honest: this whole piece is a lazy whine composed of one part projection of the author’s opinions onto everyone else, one part lazy spinning of an offhand conversation into an entire article, and one part potted half-ass pseudo-philosophy. If you read Thomsen long enough you begin to get the sense that he just plain hates the NBA- every one of his articles is either this sort of amorphous nothing, or else a whine about “lost arts” or “the skills players used to have”, all of which conveniently go unnamed. He mourns the days when players “knew their role”, coaches were gods, money was rarely spoken of, and everyone agreed with him. It’s pretty sad stuff, and I wouldn’t care, except that in writing for SI he’s got a major platform for his garbage. I’m a boxing fan; I’ve watched what constant unjustified gloom-and-doom coverage and propagation of stereotypes of boxing did to that sport, and I don’t ever want to see it done to basketball by people like Ian Thomsen.

Now excuse me, I actually give a shit about this season, so I’m going to go watch one of my teams. C’mon you Nets.

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Other NBA, The NY Knicks | , | 1 Comment

The Curtain Falls

So Starbury’s sitting this one out again.

Back when Sean Avery was with the Rangers, I had a nickname for him: Captain Dickhead. Immature, I know, but you can’t tell me it didn’t capture the spirit in which he played the game. Well, Avery’s gone, and for the brief window of time before Stephon joins him in the outer darkness, I hereby officially transfer the nickname: Captain Dickhead is dead, long live Captain Dickhead. I don’t begrudge Marbury his demanding all the money owed him- he deserves it contractually. I don’t begrudge him his history of weird public behavior and Truck Party- I try not to be judgemental. I don’t begrudge him being a no-defense conscienceless chucker who’s managed to torpedo both the Knicks and Nets at different times; he is what he is as a player, getting mad about it won’t make him better.

But for the love of fuck, if you’re going to play contract hardball and demand every last cent, you do NOT then get to pick and choose whether you want to actually play while complaining that you’re not in the team’s future plans. With the exceptions of Wilson Chandler, David Lee and Nate Robinson at most, NO ONE on this team is in the team’s future plans, and yet somehow the rest of them just get on with it and act like professionals. Do you see our Guide and Leader refusing to play because he misses Jamal Crawford, or Lee complaining about having to be an undersized 5, or Malik Rose bemoaning his microscopic PT? Keep in mind, at this point, it’s not just fans or D’Antoni who are PO’d about this.

And so there it sits. The Knicks are at a better place in terms of future options and hopefulness than they’ve been in since maybe the crazy lockout year finals run, competent people are in charge of the team for the first time in just as long, the current group of players is pretty decent and a lot of fun right now on the court, and yet the biggest story continues to be a wreck of a player who once was very good, and now is only very good at wrecking his own reputation. What on earth will it take to be rid of this man? Zach Randolph, whatever else you can say about him, showed up this year, played hard, didn’t complain, knew he was going to be traded and didn’t let it shake him; Eddy Curry may be injured/deactivated/trapped in his home, but at least you don’t get a trail of foolishness following him wherever he goes. And yet Marbury, who makes both look like models of professionalism, is impossible to dislodge- wedged in place by an untradeably huge contract and an awful reputation which is one half justly earned and one half a product of his every move being analyzed and over-exposed. The Coney Island kid once wanted to be the biggest star in New York; in a way, now he is.

And still the man has his defenders. Read the comments to the linked Ken Berger article- it’s full of people praising Marbury for taking the shocking steps of showing up in shape and not burying the team in the press. Why, they ask, should he play and take the risk of getting hurt for a team which Doesn’t Respect Him? And this is the point where I wonder how much more respected you can be than to make roughly $3.5 million a month, for which you are asked for perhaps 70 minutes of court time. And when I wonder how they can applaud Marbury for trying to get every last cent and in the next breath damn the team for only using the player in emergency circumstances. So far as that parallel goes, each side is only doing what the other is doing, exploiting contractual boundaries to the utmost; but only one has gone beyond that to outright refuse to honor that contract while demanding its benefits. And yet, and yet…part of me sees his point. To be told that you’re essentially $20 million worth of 4th or 5th string backup and won’t have a chance to play your way into something more is humiliating, especially when you’re required to show up courtside and be reminded of it nightly, in what you think is still your prime, in your home town.

I’ve never known another player to evoke the unique combination of hate, hero-worship, admiration, pity, frustration and confusion that Starbury does. At this point, he has to be suspended and sent home. Not because he’s a terrible person- he’s not, despite this silliness; but because at this point every week brings more of this stupidity and damages him and the team alike, and neither are going to be able to really reestablish themselves until the separation is complete. Marbury has become a man trapped in the wreck of his own dreams, which is truly tragic in the largest sense of the word; but like all tragedies, the curtain has to fall for catharsis to happen. Every bad relationship ends one day or another; for the sake of all involved, today should be that day.

November 27, 2008 Posted by | The NY Knicks | , | Leave a comment