As full of grief as age; wretched in both!

Bill Simmons laments how far the NBA has fallen in the wake of the Chris Paul situation – Grantland

The best point guard of his generation was switching teams, in his prime, to the Los Angeles Lakers … and only after the Celtics and Knicks failed to get him. Read that sentence again. It’s what Dan Gilbert and the other Overpayers Anonymous owners will never understand. In professional basketball, history trumps everything else. It’s not just about playing in Los Angeles. It’s about playing for the fucking Lakers. It’s about following the footsteps of Magic, Kareem, Wilt, West, Baylor and Shaq. It’s about Showtime, Nicholson, the yellow jerseys, the Laker Girls, even that awful Randy Newman song. It’s about that buzz before a big Laker home game, when the place is packed with celebs and eye candy, when you’re the best guy on the team, when you might as well be the king of the world. When these idiots complain about a “big market/small market” disparity, it’s almost like they never followed the league before they bought their teams. Of course there’s a disparity! What kid doesn’t grow up wanting to play for the Celtics, Lakers or Knicks?

Remember what pissed us off most about LeBron picking Miami over New York? It wasn’t just that he tried to stack the decks with a superteam; it’s that he walked away from New York, the city with the most basketball fans, the city with the biggest spotlight, the city that would have either made him immortal or broken him in two. He didn’t want it. He copped out. He could have picked loyalty (Cleveland) or immortality (New York); instead, he chose help (Miami). That killed us. We hated him for it. What was telling about Chris Paul’s choice was that he eschewed the Clippers (a safer basketball situation for him; he would have been able to grow with Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin) for the Lakers (a much more volatile basketball situation with Kobe’s miles and Bynum’s knees) for the simple reason that he wanted to be a Laker.

For the right players, it’s not about cities as much as teams, uniforms, histories, owners, fans, titles … and Chris Paul cares about the right things. He’s the best teammate in the league. As much as it killed me that my least favorite team landed him, the “basketball fan” side of me loved it. Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant … together? Playing across the street from my office? How cool was that? I remember when KG landed on the Celtics, one of my Lakers-fan buddies told me, “I hate KG and I hate the Celtics, but this is going to be cool.”

That’s how I felt about Chris Paul and the Lakers. If you love basketball — if you truly love it — you appreciated what was happening. And it had nothing to do with the Washington Generals. Believe me.

Of course, that’s not how December 8, 2011 will be remembered. Years from now, I won’t remember anything about that day except for David Stern losing control of his own league. Once upon a time, it was reassuring to look there and expect to see him, and darn, he was there. It was kind of neat. Those days are long gone. The National Basketball Association has lost its way. I feel like crying.

37 comments on “As full of grief as age; wretched in both!

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      • Can’t we do some some hegeliandialectical thing and see hisLaker fandom in the Lakers being his least fav team or something? I mean he’s saying he wantshis least fav team to win.

        • Not that he hated the Lakers too little, but that he loved the Celtics more.

          Lotso b-ball observers consider the nixed trade to have been a net neg for the Ls, though many entertained the further assumption that it was step 1 of a superduper 2-step Lakers re-build on the fly plan that would have ended up with Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Kobe as the New Big 3.

    • Right, Paul to the Knicks really makes sense for the newly famous small-market/big-market “basketball reasons.”

      Poisonally, I’d enjoy seeing Paul with the Knicks almost, but not quite, as much as I’d enjoy seeing him with the Ls. What I really don’t like is a situation where no one knows what the rules are. The Commissioner is supposed above all to protect the integrity of the game. If the rules are that big market teams have to be handicapped from now on, then we should know, and adjust our perspectives accordingly.

      I think what this means is that if the Lakers make out as well as it’s said they’re going to from the new TV deal, no one who doesn’t want to get laughed out of the room will be able to attack them for spending whatever-it-takes down the line. If were Jim Buss I’d be willing to operate at a loss just to send an engraved fuck-you to Gilbert and Cuban.

      But could be this story isn’t over by a long ways.

  1. On the other hand, this Pujols/ Wilson thing might work out OK —–for 2 or 3 years.

    Might be nice if the Angels got somebody who bats from the left side, but otherwise it looks like the Rangers got a real fight now.

    • I have to say it feels kind of weird to be favored. The rotation another thing. It is pretty amazing. Plus, where is everyone going to play? I know–a good problem to have. But as you point out they need the left handed bat and that’s Morales. If he’s healthy, because no one has yet to say anything about Trumbo playing third, then they have Trumbo, Wells, Hunter, Bourjos, Abreu, and Trout in the outfied. Well, Hunter, and Abreu have big money contracts and aren’t going anywhere. I guess the Angels are the new Yankees. Yikes. They can not only pay over 300 million to 2 new guys, they can eat another 250 million in useless contracts. The paper says it’s all because of their 3 billion dollar TV deal. Weird. These are not the Angels I’ve known for the last 50 years. The owner supposedly made his money on advertising connected mostly to desert billboards. How do you make that much money on billboards?

      • I don’t think so. It’s all about bat speed and once even a bit of that goes, it’s over. Nobody has ever kept their bat speed past what the steroid boys did and a few of them did it just right in order to get to 40. If Bonds had started steroids any earlier it wouldn’t have worked so well. Probably on accident he timed it perfectly so his connective tissue was mature enough to handle it right when the rest of him could still play. Maybe I’m naive, but I think the days when an aging star can pull off the illegal behavior are over. Still possible when you’re young and nobody knows what you’re capable of with or without drugs, but if P has a couple bad years and then suddenly comes back it will be obvious and if he’s been using all along then his connective tissue will give out soon. When players start having weird hand injuries and shit like that, to me, it’s a dead giveaway. Again, Bonds type timing was perfect from a standpoint of performance. If P has been clean then he’ll have the years Fuster suggests, 2 or 3 more good ones. If he wasn’t, it might go down hill super fast. At best, then, 2 or 3 P-like years hopefully, and then a few ok years and then it’s over. Still might be worth the money since the Angels could win it all a couple of times.

            • As you know, the Motas and Carew and others who have hit for percentage as older players are a different kind of hitter. Bat speed didn’t matter nearly as much for them and for real slap hitters like Carew hardly at all. But for sluggers, it’s all about having the physical stuff that just doesn’t last past a certain point even if you’re Willie Mays or Hank Aaron. Sluggers gradually go down and you’re right about P probably being older than he claims. That’s part of it.

      • Pujols plays a fine first base, where the uncorrected damage to his right arm that renders him unable to do any serious throwing, doesn’t much matter.

        Considering that the Angels gave him 10 years and his reported age is pretty dubious, the Angels may find out how he’s hitting at 50.

  2. The article below is even harder on Stern – also the trade talks are back on – objective: shake up the deal enough to allow King Lear to save face, and the Lakers to get Cordelia after all.

    This wasn’t about the best interests of the Hornets, the NBA, anyone at all. This wasn’t the NBA that Stern promised those owners in a post-lockout league, and they let him have it Thursday. After all those long days and nights negotiating the end of that labor war, it turns out it isn’t over and never will be in this NBA. This is the fight to David Stern’s ignoble finish as commissioner of the NBA, the fight that’ll never end well for the NBA. That’s how Stern’s going down, and that’s how he’ll be remembered.

    • That’s not really what Vecsey says. He makes two arguments: 1) That the season-ticket holders in New Orleans paid to see Paul and only Paul on a team that is unlikely to contend, and 2) that NO with lots of money to spend might be set up to make a “Big Easy Decision” after this season.

      Leave it to Vecsey to come up with a smart angle that no one else does, but I think that both arguments are dubious. If you honestly take the position that winning a championship is the only form of success that counts, then almost everyone is always completely wasting everyone’s time. But even if you take that position or some modified version of it, the teams that have won championships or, have created winning traditions, in big markets and small ones, haven’t done it by “clearing cap room” and hoping for lightning to strike. Even Miami, which hasn’t yet won a championship under the Big 3, needed a Pat Riley and fully committed organization to get that far. NO doesn’t even have an owner.

      • did I fail to understand, or did Vescey argue that the trade will leave them, because of the several overpriced, long-contracted and mediocre players they’ll receive in return for Paul, with no way to improve much for several long seasons.

        I would also say that, beyond winning a championship, he also notes that the Hornets currently possess success in the person of a player who is a delight to watch,,,,and they’ll no longer have that bit of success going for them.

        Long ago the New Orleans Jazz had no hope of winning a championship…. but they had a kid named Pete made you want to pay money to watch.

        (Similarly, the Angels signed Wilson to help bring a championship, but Pujols brings several other things with him,)

        • Overpriced? They’re all overpriced.


          LO was 6th Man of the Year last year, and is one of the most versatile players ever. Scola and Martin were both excellent players, not mediocre – rated near all-star. Dragic is a terrific ball-handler, very young, with lots of upside. And they got a 1st Rd Draft choice. For a team that had 5 players signed as of a week ago, it was a pretty good haul. Championship caliber? Not this year or next or without further additions, but just having lots of cap room go play with doesn’t make you a champion either, which was the argument for why they’re better off hanging on to Paul all year. Just ask the Clippers, the Cavs, the T-Wolves, the Nets and a bunch of other teams. If they decide to get cap room all of a sudden, I don’t think NO would have tremendous difficulty getting rid of as many of those guys as they wanted.

          I’m guessing Vecsey talks to Cuban, who was saying something almost identical about the 10,000 season tickets. Is that the criterion now for nixing a trade? The hometown fans have made an “investment,” so the league steps in?

          Look, PV makes some decent points. Apparently, they’re trying to re-work the trade to find more draft choices and young players so it can go through, save face for Stern, and put the whole PR fiasco behind them fast.

            • I disagree. In the right system, both Scola and Martin are just below All-Star level and can be better team players than most All-Stars. They’re western players so Fuster just hasn’t seen them much is what I think. Martin was really great against the Lakers as a King and Scola also gave the Lakers fits. They’re good.

            • Definition of MEDIOCRE: of moderate or low quality, value, ability, or performance : ordinary, so-so

              Scola and Martin are both better than that, but that’s not really the key question anyway. NO has to deal Paul or risk getting little or nothing for him. Maybe, in the PV scenario, that leaves them (presumably under new, not yet located owners) plenty of money to pay for other overpriced talent, but just having the money to spend does not equate with building a championship team or even a “mediocre” entertaining one. Odds are they’d end up in a bidding war for whatever big names come available, as likely to lose out as win out, then over-paying for the equivalents of whatever Scolas, Martins, Odoms are available, and possibly even carrying unspent cap into one of an indefinite series of crappy seasons…

              They could all be wrong, and PV right, but most GMs and other informed observers thought Demps had played his hand pretty well. Some thought the Lakers did worst of all 3 teams.

              • It only works for the Lakers in the short term. If playing with CP makes it possible for Kobe to have one or two more real Kobe-like years, that’s big. Maybe CP doesn’t even sign with the Lakers after a championship year. Who knows, but I agree with the idea of trying to get the most out of a player who is arguably the best player of all-time. Personally, I think he is. I don’t like him as a human being, but that’s my opinion, and when you have the best player of all-time still playing you do what you can to see if he can win you one more championship. But the deal is fair. That’s the amazing part and if the Hornets get a bit more with draft picks, etc, that’s cool. This is an “all in” thing for the Lakers. Screw the future.

  3. No, that would be an incorrect measure of success, playing as close to the top of their game, is more accurate. I really only
    started paying serious attention this year, and I’m kind of surprised at the standard of performance, was it always thus.

    • pretty much yes for a couple-three decades.
      Kobe Bryant’s father played on a team in Philly that was as at least as physically talented as the one you’ve got in Miami….and played better as a team when most of them were sober,

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