Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Do y’all remember that fun and simple time a few months back when David Stern vetoed — or didn’t veto or whatever — the Chris Paul trade? Remember how hysterical everyone was about what a black eye it was for the league, coming right after the lockout like that?
I certainly do.
I was one of those Chicken Littles (Chickens Little?) running around yelling about how the league was going to ALIENATE ITS FANS FOR GOOD WITH ITS NASTY HUBRIS. Fast forward to today, though, and not only has that fiasco been more or less forgotten, the NFL has lapped the Association as the league with the highest quotient of skeevy authoritarian nonsense.
For most of David Stern’s tenor as NBA commissioner, the league has been on a generally upward trajectory, surviving a few deep valleys of public interest, and building a massive global engine.
For several reasons, though — the visibility of the disconnect between the (mostly) black labor force and the white ownership/management, Stern’s sardonic mastermind persona, a confluence of fraught incidents, and over-corrective policies — the Association has been surrounded by this aura of dictatorial mistrust and suspicion.
The 1985 NBA Draft lottery (Patrick Ewing anyone?) and similar conspiracies arose precisely because the league was the type of organization that passed measures, like the dress code, to get players in cultural lockstep with the viewing audience. Since the Malice at the Palace, things have generally been better, though the lockout and the Paul mess were reminders of the way the league used to seem so divorced from its own fans and players.
But move, over David. Roger is on line one, and he wants to tell you to STEP OFF.
Do you want fatuous condescension, but WITHOUT wit? He’s got you. Do you want moral hypocrisy? What about an indefinite suspension for a coach who had the gall to financially incentivize players to injure each other in a game where PLAYERS ARE PROFESSIONALLY INCENTIVIZED TO INJURE EACH OTHER? Still not enough? What about making teams who followed the exact rules of a cap-free season pay all the other teams a bunch of money just because? And making the players union go along with it by threatening to NOT RAISE THE SALARY CAP?
Good God in heaven. Goodell makes Stern at his worst look like a hippie parent who lets all the neighborhood kids drink in his basement.
Here’s my beef: sporting organizations are either a mirror of society and subject to its dictums or they are not. If they are a mirror of society, then fine, have lockouts and subject fans to the unpleasantness of market realities and so forth. Try to make it at least MINIMALLY fair and non-arbitrary. But if not — if this is an arbitrary universe that operates like a bunch of petty children grabbing Monopoly money out of each others’ hands — then spare us all the legalistic crap and just say that things are because you say so.
But if you want to have all the unfairness of stupid board games combined with the mind-numbing drudgery of tax law?
Then you’re a fat-chinned patsy for being yet another conglomeration of rich white men who want to screw the people they’re profiting off of and expect to be adored for it. I had enough half-baked populist rage BEFORE you, Roger Goodell, and I’d thank you to either make a mint letting young men to decapitate each other or go take your dullard’s face to some less public boardroom.
I will stick to the NBA where our racially charged and economic conflicts are HONORABLE. Thank you.
(Bonus reason why this column is late today: Kanye Zone. No matter what I do, I’m topping out just south of 2 million. Come at me, bro.)
GAMES OF THE WEEK
Knicks 108, Magic 86
Look, guys, could y’all just not do this against the KNICKS of all people? Could y’all not get annihilated by the most publicly dysfunctional franchise in the league missing a major player? Could you guys try that?
Also: there is nothing I am rooting against harder than the Knicks “fixing” themselves or “working it out.” There are enough people thinking asinine things about the league that I can’t stand the idea of MIKE WOODSON being given credit for “fixing” a D’Antoni mess.
Mike, please coach for Portland. Rehabilitate Raymond and unleash LaMarcus. Let Nicolas Batum fly. That way, when New York fans are tired of Woodson’s terrible offense next season, people will idealize your time coaching for the Knicks and clamor for a new coach.
I hate New York fans.
Lakers 104, Warriors 101
ATTABOY, ANDREW! Just as Bynum was publicly making strides toward winning over Kobe as a viable number 1(b) option, he decided he ALSO needed to become the go-to guy for petulant idiocy. What I really resent about Kobe is that his media-hogging is letting a really efficient producer of unlikable narcissism go unnoticed. Share the ball, Kobe, so that Drew can get buckets. Share the mic so that we can get Drew.
Thunder 102, Lakers 93
I really thought the Thunder’s ceiling was a likeable but imperfect contender, but they are winning me over as a legitimate title favorite. They’re playing with a focus and dominance right now I just didn’t think they had. I’m game.
Note: there may be some tweaks coming to MBN Weekly and one of the things we’re discussing is either dropping or altering the mailbag portion. Please write to us and weigh in with what you’d like to see.
For this week, only got one from Carlo, with apologies to Greg, who emailed last week while I was absent with a question that doesn’t really apply any more. My bad, Greg, not yours.
When I was in college and just getting into drinking I started out with mostly whiskey and rum. I stayed away from beer almost completely. Now in my late 20s I find myself forgoing hard liquor and have acquired a taste for various ales/lagers/what have you. My question is, did I do this backwards?
Not necessarily, Carlo, and I commend you for shamelessly pandering to my sensibilities with the question.
Almost no young drinkers actually LIKE beer, and anybody with a penchant for actual self-destruction messes with liquor first and foremost. I know that I spent most of my senior year of high school putting Evan Williams into liquids it did not belong in. So if THAT’S the sense in which you mean you got started with liquor, then I think you’re about par for the course, especially because the beer most people drink at parties when they’re young is just awful. If you’ve recently developed an appreciation for Keystone, though? Backwards. Don’t give up on liquor, either. Love her, and she will love you back.
Alright errbody, that’s a wrap. Like I said, might be some changes at the Weekly headquarters, so feel free to email us anything you’d like to see — mbnhoops[at]gmail[dot]com. Yo soy till next week.