From my appearance on Paul Flannery’s “Talking Hoops” podcast for WEEI, Boston. Doing these things with people you know, especially when they’re for an institutional outlet, can be really weird. Anyway, those mileposts are pretty representative. Though there’s a good chance that “Chauncey Billups” actually refers to Chris Ryan.
For most NBA fans, Dirk is neither white, nor specifically German, but the guy who finally asserted the value of the European Other. Luke O’Brien’s piece stresses that Nowitzki has made us accept him, albeit only after realizing that neither Don Nelson (the libertine) nor Avery Johnson (the taskmaster) had used him correctly thus far. Only Dirk could perfect Dirk, and if his off-season of wandering and thinking sounds straight out of Herzog—a slightly loopier version of the kind of masculinity post-war Germany learned to project—it was Rick Carlisle, as much as this introspection, that allowed Dirk to find himself. The Triumph of Soft is not about making people learn to love Germans, but fitting Germany into a larger, maligned sports category, and then turning that on its head.
At GQ.com: Congratulations, Mavericks. What does it all mean?
With last night’s win, the Mavs become the sixteenth NBA franchise, accounting for relocation, to win a title. It’s a select club, to be sure, but the Mavs aren’t the Lakers or Celtics, or Pistons, or the Rockets, or even the Hawks, who made the Finals four times between 1957 and 1961, and took it all in 1958. They are one of the seven teams with only one championship to their name. Franchises that have never hoisted the banner can still be perfectly respectable, and some fairly miserable teams have one seemingly random title to their name. The real question to ask, then, is what kind of championship was this, anyway?
This transmission marks the end of my GQ playoffs blog. It’s been real.
Lang Whitaker knows the Hawks like no one else, which means that before Jason Terry was king, Lang learned all sorts of weird shit about him. At GQ.com, we offer 11 such items:
• When Jason Terry was in the third grade, his P.E. teacher was Slick Watts, the former steals and assists leader for the Seattle SuperSonics, and wearer of perhaps the jauntiest headband in NBA history. “Actually, it was probably the easiest gym class I ever had,” Terry said. “All we did was play basketball. It was in third grade. That’s all we did the whole day.” Watts is also the reason Terry wears a headband during every game.
Click over to find out the mysterious role George Gervin played in JET’s life!
For GQ.com: How LeBron can learn from Dirk, and we can learn from that:
LeBron isn’t Dwyane Wade; he doesn’t attack like Wade, and isn’t nearly as harrowing off the dribble. Wade’s been given the role of closer because it makes sense, and yet somehow, that casts doubt on everything we want to believe—and feel in our gut—about James. Wade is in the mold of Jordan, both in personality and game. To crib the easy analogy, that makes LeBron into Scottie Pippen. Some people simply can’t accept that the Pippen-esque marvel could be better than the Jordan-ish guard, since Jordan is the greatest, and Jordan-esque equals best.
I really should have included a sentence about “hard” and “soft” expectations. Oh well. Imagine it in there yourself, if you find this post lacking.
Brian Phillips, that Run of Play fellow, drops by GQ.com to love the way Jason Kidd moves:
Chris Paul, Steve Nash, even Derrick Rose when he’s charting his own route to the basket—these guys give you the sense that being a point guard means having the freedom to do math in space. Watching them, you’re plotting the vectors of moving objects with the holograms in your head. With Kidd, you get the sense that playing the point means diving into some nether-realm where no one else can go … He’s 6-foot-4, and he plays like he’s three feet underground.
There’s more where that came from!
James had passed to Bosh. Wade had been the fourth-quarter warrior, all but unstoppable, and James more of a facilitator (watch the tape). Bosh, despite that last shot, continued to stink. Who was the man? Was Bosh worth it? Was the manly, assertive Wade being forced to take a backseat to a passive-by-nature James? What is a superstar? Where lies Truth? Won’t this tension lead to utter disaster in Game 4? How can these players not be as freaked out, or unnerved, as we want them to be?