Friday, May 23, 2008

Jemele Hill vs. Logic, Round 8

According to Jemele Hill's latest, David Stern should want to see a Spurs-Pistons finals. No no no, ratings won't be as high as a Celtics-Lakers finals. No, the NBA won't make much money. True, we just saw a Spurs-Pistons finals a few years ago. So what's the reason? ready? They play good defense, are good guys and if the Celtics and Lakers face off, everyone will think it's because of some NBA conspiracy. Yeah....yeah that's where this column spent most of its time. I didn't read ahead before posting this, so I didn't get the warning that you just received.

Forgive me, citizens of Easily Entertained, Need-Flash-To-Appreciate Nation for this blasphemous proposal:

Soooo we’re going to start off the column by insulting our readers?

Let's root for another edition of Pistons versus Spurs in the NBA Finals!

Let’s not and say we did (I’m in 6th grade).

(Trying to block out the sound of 260 million people collectively groaning.)

I'm hoping that suggestion doesn't make NBA commissioner David Stern lose his lunch. But if Stern could overcome his nausea at the thought of another clash of these underappreciated titans, even he would have to admit that Pistons-Spurs would be the best thing for the NBA.

I’m reading this column with you, reader. I haven’t read it yet. I just saw the title and knew this shit would be blog worthy, or at least that I’d want to post about it. So here I am, in my underwear, where I’ve been sitting for 6 days playing NHL ‘94 on my Sega Genesis while scouring the internet for bad journalism. Let’s see if Jemele puts forth a good reason for Stern to “have to admit” that Pistons-Spurs would be the best thing for the NBA. I just scored another goal with Pavel Bure, nice. Remember, that’s basically her thesis here, that it’s the best thing for the NBA.

Full disclosure: As a Detroiter, I would love to see the Pistons in the Finals for the sixth time in my lifetime. But this isn't about me. This is about the league's credibility.

No, it’s about you being a Pistons fan. This column should be trusted as much as a Simmons column about why the Celtics should be in the finals, or anything written by someone from San Antonio and LA. The votes of those four fan bases don’t count here, because they are biased.

As an NBA fan, there is nothing more irritating than when the league's credibility is challenged by cockamamy conspiracy theories. (See: New York Knicks and Patrick Ewing, and Michael Jordan's impromptu first retirement.)

Can you please bring this up to Bill Simmons next time you guys do a podcast. That guy is conspiracy theory central – straight out of that Mel Gibson movie, Mad Max. In fact, The Knicks getting the first pick (and therefore Ewing) and Jordan retiring because of some secret agreement with Stern are Simmons’ conspiracies! This paragraph belongs in a fucking ESPN memo, not a column.

The biggest NBA conspiracy theory going right now is that the league is trying to make a Boston-L.A. Finals happen, because it would mean insane television ratings and a return to the time when the dominance of those two franchises overshadowed everything else in sports.

Didn’t Simmons have a joke in yesterday’s column about Jack Nicholson reffing a game 7 so that the Lakers make the finals? I mean, people don’t actually think the league is rigging games, dummy, they are joking that the NBA would prefer an LA Boston finals because of the huge fan bases and the fact that they are the two most celebrated & successful franchises in the sport. Rocket science not this is. They aren’t serious.

This has undoubtedly been the NBA's best season since MJ's heyday.

I agree, probably, but I’m biased because I live in New England.

The Western Conference was the most competitive conference in NBA history,

Eh, I think this is an over-rated point.

the Slam Dunk Contest returned to relevancy,

Magic Johnson says this every year then he laughs like Elmer Fudd for 45 seconds. It’s a pretty irrelevant point here.

trades rejuvenated the Lakers and Celtics, Chris Paul emerged as the league's next transcendent player, and the drastically improved TV ratings in the playoffs showed that sports fans were gobbling it all up.

Word up.

If this were any other NBA season, the insinuation that the league was somehow working to orchestrate the return of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry would be considered a real reach -- but not when the Tim Donaghy betting scandal is still looming.

But…Tim Donaghy wasn’t operating on the behalf of the interests of the league. He was doing the opposite. He was acting for himself – against the interest of the league (the perception of fair play). So that example is not good. Oh, but you want to beat it into the ground for no reason? Fuckin-a man!

Many fans have long believed that the relationship NBA officials have with players and coaches influences how the games are called. But now those conspiracy theories have teeth, because Donaghy's lawyer, John Lauro, filed presentencing documents in federal court that supported what those conspiracy theorists have been screaming for years.

What does this have to do with the finals and why David Stern should prefer to have Spurs vs. Pistons? So people don’t think there’s a conspiracy? That’s how we’re deciding who we want in the finals?

Also in the Lauro papers were charges that other referees besides Donaghy participated in gambling activity. Couple that with what was reported about Jordan's extensive gambling and Charles Barkley's initially "overlooking" that he owed the Wynn casino $400K, and Donaghy's issues all of a sudden look like they're a part of a problematic NBA subculture.

So the reasons that you have for preferring the Pistons vs. the Spurs, other than the fact that you are an unabashed Pistons’ fan, is because you think fans will think the conference finals were fixed, and that will hurt the credibility of the game? I’m guessing that is where this is going. Sorry Jemele, we’re just not that dumb.

Certainly, you can look at the Donaghy situation and think of Matt Walsh, another guy who seems difficult to trust. The commissioner has said Donaghy's camp is making these wild accusations only so he can gain a more lenient sentence.

What do Diane Canon, Vinnie Johnson, Connor Henry, William Bedford, a parquet floor, Vinnie Del Negro, Tony Campbell, and the Alamo have in common?

They have more to do with the subject of this column than Tim Donaghy, and way the fuck more than Matt Walsh.

That could be true, but that still doesn't do anything to change the perception that the outcomes of NBA games are somehow tampered with. If there are any controversial calls that favor Boston or Los Angeles, or if there are games in which either of those teams makes a ton of trips to the foul line, the CTs (conspiracy theorists) will ask: What would prevent the NBA from urging the officials to call games a certain way to ensure a Finals involving teams from two of the biggest media markets in the country?

Okay, but I think when people say they want to see a Celtics vs. Lakers finals, they are saying that without any emotion of “I want the NBA to fix the conference finals.” I don’t think we, the fans, and David Stern, the commissioner, should root for the a Pistons vs. Spurs finals, that we may want to see less, just so there’s no room for a conspiracy theory that may be put forth by some fucking morons. Jemele and logic don’t like each other. People who want the Celtics and Lakers in the finals don’t want them to get there via questionable calls. So, if there are no questionable calls, then what’s the problem?

This would seem to be a fundamental flaw in the entire premise of this column, no? That if they get there without questionable calls or, who knows, in spite of calls against them, then there is no room for idiots to write about conspiracy theories. Everyone wins.

Oh but wait, what if the NBA is conspiring to put the Pistons and Spurs in the finals just to avoid the appearance of a conspiracy! See how this is a waste of time?

But if it's Pistons-Spurs, the NBA Finals will be conspiracy-free.

I saw this coming and it still feels like I just got punched in the face.

I anticipate the crybabies will complain that the Spurs and Pistons are boring to watch. But most real basketball and sports fans won't think that way -- just those casual NBA viewers who want it both ways. You know, the ones who deride the NBA for promoting individuals, but whine when Kobe, LeBron or some other one-named superstar isn't in the Finals. The ones who claim they love underdogs, but won't give the Pistons or Spurs a chance.

The casual viewers may not watch the finals for lack of a compelling superstar, true. I don’t know how you’ve immediately tagged those casual viewers as being people who are mad that the NBA promotes individuals. It’s like you’re making up a class of people to support your argument. Also, that last sentence is nonsensical bullshit. I don’t think there’s many people watching these conference finals with a sense that there are underdogs. The Spurs are the defending champs and the Pistons have been in 82 straight conference finals.

If you're someone who grumbles that NBA players don't play defense, you should root for Pistons-Spurs (although Boston may play the best defense of the remaining playoff teams).

If you want defense, root for the Pistons, even though the Celtics prolly play better defense. If I’m ever on trial for murder, I want Jemele to prosecute.

If you complain you're sick of seeing NBA teams that don't play hard, root for Pistons-Spurs. If you love teams that win because of their commitment to team basketball, root for Pistons-Spurs. If you're sick of seeing basketball dominated by And-1 wannabes, root for Pistons-Spurs.

Me: Jemele, how do any of those sentences disqualify the Celtics and Lakers?
Jemele: They don’t!
Me: Okay. Cool.

Also, the Detroit PA announcer sounds more hackish than an And-1 announcer.

These are two teams loaded with unselfishness -- and they feature players who are among the NBA's best citizens.

Ugh. Soooo………… this mean….the Celtics and Lakers….don’t? Also, I know this doesn't speak to their "citizenry", but aren't Bowen and Horry a little dirty sometimes? Doesn't Rasheed Wallace get kind of a lot of technicals? Also, what's with the spot on Sheed's head? What about that?

No, of course not. Jemele loves to just argue vague, fucked up points while ignoring the obvious aspect that these positives apply to all four of the remaining teams in the playoffs.

When people call Tim Duncan milquetoast, it makes me want to break kneecaps. First, Duncan is a thoughtful quote -- as are most of the Spurs. Second, Duncan shouldn't be penalized because he'd rather frustrate his opponents with precise passing out of double-teams and unstoppable bank shots, rather than trying to make the Top 10 Plays on "SportsCenter."

Yay, Tim Duncan is great! I just found this out. It’s still 1999, right? I’ve been alphabetizing canned goods and bomb proofing my basement for 4 months getting ready for New Years.

Duncan is perhaps the best player of his generation. The Pistons, who are in their sixth straight Eastern Conference finals, are maybe the closest thing the Eastern Conference has had to a dynasty since Jordan's Bulls.

Eh? Isn’t Kobe also perhaps the best player of his generation? It’s a good argument – I could support either guy. So that first sentence could apply to both Western Conference teams. I’m supposed to want the Pistons in the finals because they are a conference dynasty? That’s fucking lame. The Celtics are the biggest Eastern Conference dynasty in the history of the world, if you want to go there. Is that compelling? The team that has won 16 championships – the team of Russell, Cousy, and Bird getting their first shot in 22 years to add to their record 16 championships. All the while holding off the team that is hot on their tails for historical NBA supremecy, the Lakers? The team they battled so many times. The ’69 finals – game 7 in Russell’s final year- the Don Nelson bounce? Magic vs. Bird. Magic's hook. A team lead by one of the most entertaining players ever, Kobe Bryant? The team of Magic, West, Baylor, Chamberlain and O’Neal?

No? Not as intriguing as the team who has the closest thing to an Eastern Conference dynasty since Jordan retired? I'm supposed to want to see Chauncy Billups in another finals instead of seeing Garnett and Pierce take the shot at a championship?

It's easy to write a column about why you should pick option a over option b if you get to ignore every positive about option b.

If it's Pistons-Spurs, it's our core sports values at work.

Unlike the Lakers and Celtics. Buncha assholes. Did you know that Leon Powe tortures slugs with magnifying glasses on sunny days? I’m pretty sure Luke Walton punches pregnant women in the stomach. Kobe Bryant is a rapist……errr…..let’s move on.

Besides, unlike the Lakers and Celtics, the Pistons and Spurs didn't get to the conference finals with the help of questionable blockbuster deals. Talk about your NBA conspiracy theories. The Lakers got Pau Gasol for 10 rubles and a John Tesh DVD. And Kevin McHale forked Kevin Garnett over to the franchise he just so happened to win three NBA titles with. Nothing suspicious about that, right?

This is a sentence from earlier on:

As an NBA fan, there is nothing more irritating than when the league's credibility is challenged by cockamamy conspiracy theories.

Since that sentence, all Jemele has done is through out potential conspiracy theories and ballwash the Spurs and Pistons a little bit.

The Pistons and the Spurs built their teams the old-school way -- through coaching, drafting and crafty pickups.

Trades are not an old-school way to build a team. Rasheed Wallace and Rip Hamilton fell from the sky. The Lakers aren't coached well. PJ Brown was not a crafty pickup. I'm with you Jemele.

The Pistons drafted Tayshaun Prince as well as key reserves Jason Maxiell and Rodney Stuckey. They signed Antonio McDyess and Chauncey Billups -- nobody wanted "Bad Knees" McDyess, and Billups had played for five NBA teams before the Pistons. And they traded for Rasheed Wallace and Rip Hamilton -- Wallace had a bad rep as a hothead but propelled them to the NBA championship in 2004 , and when they traded for Hamilton, people thought they were crazy because it meant giving up Jerry Stackhouse.

The Spurs drafted Duncan, as well as sleeper-picks Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili -- pretty good choices, no? And who would have guessed Michael Finley would win a championship before former teammates Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash? But that's what happens when you roll with the smartest organization in the NBA.

You can argue the Gasol / Garnett trades if you want, but really you can’t argue about how any other players got on either of those teams. Here’s the question, do Gasol or Garnett make the Lakers or Celtics more or less compelling to watch in the finals? If it’s more, than the whole rant about how they built there teams means nothing. Because the column is supposed to be about who we want to watch in the finals. If you’d rather watch a Celtics/Lakers finals without those two, then you have an argument.

Pistons-Spurs -- that's what we all should be dying to see.

Annnnnnd we’re done. Are you convinced, David Stern?


Anupam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CitizenX said...

I like how she argues that Detroit should be praised for the Hamilton and Wallace trades while an even better trade for Pau is somehow cause for excoriation.

Besides, you think that the Celtics aren't a top-4 team with Al Jefferson and Gerald Green instead of the KG?

matt said...

Um, isn't Gerald Green like out of the league or something? I say no, the Celts aren't still a top 4 team with Big Al and GG. But with Big Al and whoever else they could have had on their roster with the $20+M they're paying KG - definite maybe.

As for Jemele, love how she cites "trades rejuvenated the Lakers and Celtics" as a key reason the NBA has enjoyed one of its best recent seasons, then essentially calls out those EXACT SAME TRADES as horseshit, bad-for-the-league shenanigans.

blanco said...

I'm getting really tired of Jemele. In particular, the whole "Some people think," "many fans have said," "Many people in the media," thing just drives me crazy. First of all, people did that in high school, on like research papers. And secondly, when they did do that, you were supposed to cite sources or you got an "F." How is this acceptable when you write for one of the largest media organizations in the world to make up the other sides argument (and still lose said argument through sketchy logic).

Jeff said...

Blanco - that's one of my biggest criticisms of Jemele (if you look at my archives). She contrives arguments with unknown opponents.

Many people think that Jerry West is better than Kobe Bryant, well they are wrong because...(6 paragraphs about how good Kobe is, 2 paragraphs off topic) - no mention of who she's arguing with.