May 27th, 2011

That’s what a “kibitz” is, according to Google image search. Here’s an excerpt from what it means, on GQ.com, when it’s David Roth and I gettin’ deep about the NBA Playoffs:

Shoals: You know how they say “all politics are local?” Well, all Bulls ads are local.

Roth: The thing with Rose, if I can put on my Brand Manager Cap (it has earflaps!) for a moment, is that the Chicago connection works for him. LeBron is from no-place at this point. Spiritually, he has apparently always been from a gated community near Miami. I think you’re right that the thing that works about the Rose commercial, and maybe doesn’t work for you about Rose, is that he seems to mean it—it feels like he cares because I guess he’s repping his stuff. All the best sneaker commercials have that. There was a Melo one in Baltimore I remember really well that way, with a creepy cameo by a nodding Jim Boeheim.

Shoals: “His stuff”. That sounds like you are saying he’s earnest about his balls.


Next week, the Finals!

April 15th, 2011
In person, Carmelo is disarmingly casual about pretty much everything. He speaks in a slow, laconic drawl, and seems bemused by all the fuss he causes. Every big-name athlete who comes to New York has to devise a strategy to deal with The Media. Some attempt to ingratiate themselves (Nick Swisher), some are combative (Randy Johnson), some are both (Alex Rodriguez), and some magically dance between the raindrops (Derek Jeter). Carmelo sees the media circus the way a native New Yorker might: With wry humor and the perspective that, hey, this is just what happens here—it’s kinda fun.
April 6th, 2011

The Nuggets have no superstar; the Nuggets are currently one of the NBA’s most dangerous, and highly-regarded, teams. It’s not quite Bill Simmons’s Ewing Theory—more like a double-Ewing, since it’s the Melo-less Nuggets mixed with the Amar’e-less Knicks. Maybe, this isn’t a league of stars after all. You could make a similar claim off of what the Sixers have been doing in the other conference; I can’t think of two squads whose playoff adventures are as eagerly anticipated, especially the putative Thunder/Nuggets match-up in the first round. But I think we’re missing something here. Neither the Nuggets nor the Sixers are an anti-superstar assemblage per se. These aren’t the 2004 Pistons, who especially with their later All-Star Game takeover, actively rejected the notion of stardom. On both Philly and Denver, there are plenty of players cable of great individual performances—sometimes only for a play, sometimes an entire evening.

Team play can, in effect, be the star, if it’s about parceling out opportunities and interactions to make the most of a roster full of nascent playmakers. I made a silly remark the other day about the Nuggets insisting they’re the real Knicks, only to realize just how deep it cut. What the Nuggets are doing now, and the success they’re having, is not so distant from the seventies Knicks teams. Granted, there aren’t any Hall of Famers here, and probably won’t ever be. But this is proof that there’s a lot of middle ground between selfish and selfless, and that a deep, smart team with just might be the league’s newest hot commodity. The stars aren’t dead, we just shattered him into a million pieces and made sure everyone got a piece like rhinestones. But only if they earned it.