The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

Do it Thomas!

I’ve never bought into the (idea) that I should have a baseball guy to watch my baseball guy and his baseball guys. Then what do you get — a baseball guy to watch the baseball guy who’s watching your baseball guys?

That’s Tom Ricketts showing his gummy bear-like intellect. Yes, Tom, that is what you get in that situation! So congratulations on that. And also on using the phrase "baseball guy" six times in two sentences.

June 15th, 2011 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

JamesGate 2.0 roundup

Let’s recap the awful LeBron James-related sportswriting of the last few days, shall we? Here’s the plot synopsis: the Miami Heat, who were massive favourites to win not only the NBA championship but the Super Bowl and Wimbledon also, only got as far as winning two games in the Finals. Rational, intelligent people are aware that teams that make the Finals and win two games are probably pretty goddamn good. There does not, however, tend to be much overlap between that set and the set of sportswriters.

To wit, here’s Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo sports, who manages to get just about halfway through his article about Dirk Nowitzki before suddenly jumping aboard the LeBron hate train:

Once again, James was an uncertain, uneven star with a championship on the line. He didn’t play well in these Finals, and worst in the moments that the Heat needed him most. He didn’t want the ball in the fourth quarter, passing it away as fast as it had come to him.

Wait, you’re hating on him for passing a lot? Since when is that a bad thing? NBA superstars are constantly slammed for being ball-hogs. Along comes one who can work with his team, and you’re complaining about it?

Oh, right. Because the rest of his team was even worse in that game.

James will win championships, but he’ll never enjoy a moment so singularly pure as Nowitzki did.

I defy any of you to tell me that means anything.

He’ll never have this connection to a franchise and a fandom, a communion of shared struggle and pursuit and angst.

Sure seems to me like LeBron James has a deep, lasting connection to a community of angst.

This is still Dwyane Wade’s town, and probably Wade’s team. One Eastern Conference star said, "Right now all he’s doing is helping D-Wade get his second ring."

Far be it from me to argue with "one Eastern Conference star" — which is to say, a source you made up — but I’m fairly sure that if the Heat wins, LeBron gets a ring too.

Dwayne Wade, game 6: 6/16 FG (.375), 0/4 3P (.000), 5 TO, 3 PF.

Choker. Head-case. Didn’t come through in the big moments. And while we’re on the subject:

Dirk Nowitzki, MVP, game 6: 9/27 FG (.333), 1/7 3P (.143), 2 TO, 4 PF.

To hear James suggest that the world will have to return to its sad, little ordinary lives and he’ll still get to be LeBron James late Sunday night was a window into his warped, fragile psyche. It was sad, and portends to how disconnected to the world he truly is.

Sportswriters love to psychoanalyse athletes. Nobody ever just has a bad game; he’s haunted by demons from deep within his psyche, and they made him lose. Nobody ever just snaps at reporters who are being assholes; he’s out of touch with reality and probably should go on zoloft.

There’s nothing real about James’ world, and never has been. He’s a prisoner of a life that his sycophants and enablers and our sporting culture has created for him. He’s rich and talented and something of a tortured soul. He’s the flawed superstar for these flawed times. He’s a creation of a basketball breeding ground full of such twisted priorities and warped principles.

Wow, you sure know a lot about LeBron James. Metaphysically.

Dirk doesn’t do endorsements and doesn’t do self-promotion. He doesn’t care. He never wanted to be a brand. He wanted to be an NBA champion.

Yeah, we all know that people who do endorsements and promote themselves are never any good at sports. Real champions only care about the purity of essence of our precious sporting events.

So that’s all the time I have for that fool. Who’s next on the shit list? Oh, good, it’s Mannix. He’s taken a break from fighting crime in the 60s to write an awful article for Sports Illustrated.

The NBA has seen behind the curtain, removed the mask. For all of their nine-figure contracts, for all of their All-Star appearances, MVP trophies and off-the-wall athleticism, the Heat are beatable. Not by a collection of stars or a group of gifted me-first players. But by a team.

Oh lord. I don’t think I’m ready for this. I guess I can just muscle up enough energy to point out that the highest paid player in the Finals was all-world heart-and-soul plays-the-game-the-right-way purity-of-essence champion and God’s own choice for MVP Dirk Nowitzki, at $17.28M. None of James, Wade, or Bosh cracked $15M.

No one is going to debate whether the Mavericks are more talented than Miami.

Why not? The Mavs are a great fucking team. Sure, I’d say Miami is better, but come on — Dallas is hardly a team full of unknowns and nobodies.

Their superstar has taken countless public floggings for a presumed soft game and failure to come up big in the clutch.

Oh, shit, hadn’t thought of that. Well, your air-tight argument has convinced me — Miami clearly hasn’t had to deal with adversity like that. I don’t think anybody’s written any articles lately talking about how any superstars on the Heat are soft and never come through in the clurtch!

Dallas can’t win a street-ball tournament. But the Mavs can win an NBA championship. They can because they have 15 players who trust each other, trust the coach, trust the system. They have 15 players willing to mold their games to fit what the team needs. They sacrifice when they need to, step up when others cannot.

Okay, sure. Also you might want to mention that their center is over seven feet tall and led the entire NBA in True Shooting % and Offensive Rating. Or maybe that their forward scored 582 goddamn points in the playoffs, making 175 / 186 free throws. Which is, like, a lot. Or, sure, maybe it’s because they trust the system. Whatever that means.

The self-styled King began the biggest game of his career 4-for-4, finished 9-for-15 and spent too many minutes looking disengaged in between.

9-for-15 is better than Wade or Nowitski in that game, as I believe I’ve already mentioned. Oh, but, shucks! He looked disengaged while he was doing it! And that is not the look of a champion!

"Sometimes you got it, sometimes you don’t," was James’ answer to questions about his performance after the game.

And James was correct. Sometimes even the best player in the world has a bad game.

Too often, Miami abandoned any semblance of a team game in favor of selfish, one-on-one play.

As evidenced by the fact that L. James kept goddamn passing instead of hogging the ball like a true team player.

Unquestionably, the Heat made significant strides in their first year as an NBA superpower. They shook off a 9-8 start, blocked out the media firestorm that waited for them in every city and breezed through the Eastern Conference playoffs with startling ease.

Yeah, the Heat were the best team in basketball. Which is why they made the Finals. Do you see?

But any coach will tell you the road to being good is smoother than the one to being great, a path Miami now finds itself traveling.

No, the Heat are already great. Eighth in points scored, sixth in points allowed. That adds up to an xW/L that puts them in first place in the league. Did I mention they made the Finals? Easily?

What we do know is that there are heavyweights lurking in both conferences that aren’t afraid of the big, bad Heat. Chicago won 62 games with its baby-faced roster and now has the experience of a conference finals appearance under its belt.

Chicago had the league MVP and played arguably the best defense in the league. Their xW/L actually ties the Heat at 61-21. They lost to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Yeah, they’re a great team. But this is a surprise?

Boston will be back, and Kevin Garnett and Co. circle games against Miami on their calendar. New York, Philadelphia and Atlanta have had their moments against the Heat, too.

In the Western Conference, Dallas can coax another few years out of its aging roster. The Lakers expect to rebound from this season’s ugly finish. Oklahoma City has a frighteningly deep and talented team that is still years away from hitting its prime.

Okay, you just named eight teams. Actually, you know what you did? You just named the teams that made the semifinals. So what you’re saying is that all the teams that made the semifinals are good? Thanks for that sparkling insight, jackass.

There’s a reason the Thunder are on a steady rise. During summers, Kevin Durant organizes workouts in Oklahoma City that have near-perfect attendance.

Here, I’ll fix that for you:

There’s a reason the Thunder are on a steady rise. Kevin Durant.

You’re welcome.

The Heat spent few days together before the start of training camp this season, a decision that may have ultimately been costly.

The Miami Heat made the fucking Finals! They made the Finals. They made the Finals where they got squeezed out by the Mavs in six games. I do not think it makes sense, sir, to declare this an abject failure and a result of not going to Applebee’s together enough times during camp.

The NBA season starts in July, not October, a lesson this Big Three would be wise to learn.

Yeah, I think they know that. Since they were the July champions. Of basketball.

Okay, that guy’s an idiot. Isn’t there somebody smarter I could deal with? Oh. No. No there is not.

I have very few rules in life, but this is one of them: Any time a team chokes away the NBA Finals 11 months after throwing a "Welcome Party" for itself, and it happens on the same night that Matt Stone and Trey Parker win 35 Tony Awards, I have to wake up at 5 a.m. the next morning and write a retro diary to figure out what in God’s name happened.

I have very few rules in life, but this is one of them: any time Bill Simmons writes an introduction so lazy that his only pop culture joke is exaggerating the number of Tony awards a musical won, I have to take a giant shot of 151 before I continue explaining why the world’s most popular, most wrongest sportswriter doesn’t know his ass from a hole in his face.

Did I mention that this fucking Bill Simmons livejournal is annotated? I’m serious. You all owe me a thousand dollars for this.

Quick reminder: With Dallas leading Miami by two (53-51) at halftime of Game 6, Vegas favored Miami by 4½ points in the second half. You know what that means?

Yes. It means that Miami was arguably the better team, and that a two point lead is effectively a tie.

To the bitter end, even after evidence mounted that LeBron James wasn’t ready for this level of scrutiny or that Miami was a modern-day version of Mike Tyson (the big, bad bully who morphed into an exceedingly beatable bully as soon as you stood your ground and socked them in the mouth), a majority of people still believed they were going to figure it out.

Oh, it was the scrutiny? Correct me if I’m wrong, but Bill Simmons has just alleged that the reason LeBron James is a choking chokemaster isn’t because he gets nervous about playing in the Finals — like fucking everybody else is saying — but because he’s too scared that Bill Simmons will write an article about him.

Also, for fuck’s sake. Tyson went 50-6 with 44 (!) knockouts. And almost all of those losses came at the very end of his career; he was 41-1 when he went to prison. And this is the standard of "beatable" Bill Simmons is holding up? A great many people "held their ground and socked Mike Tyson in the mouth" and then got goddamn KO’d in the first round.

Also, seriously, Bill, Mike Tyson is one person. Why are you calling him "them?"

11:48 remaining, third quarter: After a 1-for-12 first half, Dirk swishes a jumper to put Dallas up by 4.

Did you spot the important part? It’s the part that begins with "1-for-12 first half" and ends with "Dirk." You know. The part that points out that Dirk Nowitzki sucked on ice for the first half of the game. The game Bill Simmons is holding up as proof that LeBron James just can’t hack it.

Is anybody wondering why Bill glosses over the first half entirely?

You can’t forget the historical stakes for Dirk here: Had he completely gakked this game (something like 6-for-27, only without the crunch-time heroics) and then Dallas blown the title, a sobbing Karl Malone would have been waiting for him after Game 7 with the Historical Heimlich belt. Here, you take it, it’s yours now.

And there we have it: the difference between a "choker" and a guy who "comes through in the clutch" is whose teammates play better. Bill Simmons just said that. If Dirk Nowitzki did exactly what he did in this game, but Dallas lost, he’d be the goat. As it stands, he’s the hero. Anybody else see a problem with this?

Oh, also, Bill? Don’t use words if you don’t know what they mean.

Tyson Chandler misses a layup, grabs the board and puts it back in. He was tougher than any Miami frontcourt guy this series, bringing us to a rarely seen double irony: Oklahoma City nearly traded for him in February 2009, then voided the deal after giving him a physical (and lost to Chandler’s team in the conference finals 28 months later); and Michael Jordan gave him to Dallas last summer for Erick Dampier’s waivable contract, inadvertently giving Dallas the missing piece it needed to beat LeBron James in the Finals … you know, the guy everyone keeps saying is the next Michael Jordan. MJ really is the greatest.


He was tougher than any Miami frontcourt guy this series, bringing us to a rarely seen double irony: Oklahoma City nearly traded for him in February 2009, then voided the deal after giving him a physical (and lost to Chandler’s team in the conference finals 28 months later); and Michael Jordan gave him to Dallas last summer for Erick Dampier’s waivable contract, inadvertently giving Dallas the missing piece it needed to beat LeBron James in the Finals … you know, the guy everyone keeps saying is the next Michael Jordan.

is all one sentence.

Dirk nails a jumper (Miami by 5), then Wade misses a 3 that bounces over the backboard. Remember, LeBron and Wade were never good long-range shooters, only they cruised to the Finals partly because LeBron was nailing some exceptionally tough 3s.

Wade and LeBron were never good long-range shooters. Except for LeBron. Ergo: LeBron sucks. That makes sense to me.

Wade made 29 percent for his career, 28 percent in the first three rounds, and 26 percent in the Finals; he never got going. LeBron made 32.9 percent for his career, but in Miami’s eight Boston/Chicago victories plus Game 1 of the Finals, he made an improbable 20 of 39 3s. It couldn’t last. He missed 18 of his 23 in the last five Finals games.

Wade missed every single 3 in game six. Every one. LeBron shot .400, which is above his career average, and actually pretty good. But nobody cares, because, really, Bill, do you know what "sample size" is? Also: nice data searching. Does game one of the Finals not count? Is it just a skirmish? Oh, no, actually it looks like you searched it out because LeBron was fucking awesome in that game, which kind of ruins your "LeBron can’t handle the Finals because I write articles about it" theory.

LeBron averaged 3.5 3s and 8.4 FT attempts during the regular season. In Rounds 2 and 3, he averaged 4.1 3s and 8.6 FT attempts. In the Finals, that flipped: 4.7 3s, 3.3 FT attempts. He stopped getting to the rim.

Okay, that seems like a reasonable conclusion. He’s making more long-range shots, which indicates that he’s getting close less often. Now what data do you have to support this?

You could say Dallas figured out how to defend him (to a degree, true), that the zone screwed him up (I guess), that Shawn Marion got into his head (possible), but really, he was afraid to attack the rim for whatever reason.

I love this. I really, honestly love this. Oh, sure, you could try to find a flaw in his game and correct it. But let’s just assume it’s terror. About, you know, whatever. We’re doing science now, right?

Will we ever figure out what happened to this guy in the Finals?

Sure. Here it is:

Game 1: James is awesome. Heat wins.
Game 2: James is decent. Heat loses by 2, which is tossup range.
Game 3: James is lousy. Heat wins by 2.
Game 4: James is completely fucking awful. Heat loses.
Game 5: James is decent again. Heat loses.
Game 6: James is decent yet again. Heat loses.

So what "happened" to this guy is: he had one bad game and one awful game. His team won the "bad" game anyhow, because there are other players on the team. Such as Dwayne Wade, who sucked harder than James in game six by a good margin. Players do have bad games, Bill, and it doesn’t always have a deeper meaning.

Allow me to offer two dopey theories for what happened, and only because I believe everything HAS to be explained and can’t accept a world in which things don’t have an answer …

Oh. Or you can do that.

Remember when Wade tore into LeBron with three-plus minutes remaining in Game 3? When he yelled at him for eight solid seconds? When there was genuine anger in his eyes? When he did it right on the court, right in front of the other players, right in front of 20,000 fans and 10 million TV viewers?

LeBron was never the same after that.

At least you said upfront that these theories were dopey, because: please.

LeBron James, game 2: 8/15 FG (.533), 2/7 3P (.286), 2/4 FT (.500), 8 TRB, 5 TO, 4 PF. 20 pts

LeBron James, game 6: 9/15 FG (.600), 2/5 3P (.400), 1/4 FT (.250), 4 TRB, 6 TO, 2 PF. 21 pts

Never the same!

I believe every basketball champion needs a pecking order of sorts; that’s just what the history of the league told us. Miami tried to cheat this concept by putting two of the league’s best three players on the same team. It worked for 8½ months; LeBron and Wade ran the team together and deferred to one another depending on the moment. Then the Finals rolled around, Wade kicked it up another gear, LeBron didn’t do the same, Wade called him out … and the team was NEVER the same. These are the facts.

What. The fuck. Are you talking about.

Those are not "facts," Bill Simmons. Those are ravings that percolated out of your reptilian brain-like appendage. It has never happened before that two of the best players in basketball were on the same team? What about the eight fucking years that Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neill both played for the Lakers? The Lakers, in fact, won the Finals three straight years during this period.

Also, your idea that Wade "kicked it up another gear" in the Finals is insulting. To Dwayne Wade, I mean. It is exactly analogous to saying that Dwayne Wade was phoning it in until then. Oh, sure, he had another, better "gear" he could have been using, but he elected to loaf instead. This is a favourite fantasy of yours, Bill, but it’s utterly wrong.

Even in the postgame presser, when he should have been devastated the same way Magic Johnson was distraught after coming up small in the 1984 Finals, LeBron was doing the Frank Drebin "Nothing to see here, please disperse" routine, bristling at the notion that he choked and taking shots at anyone who rooted against him.

Bill Simmons, you are an asshole. There is no other word to use for an ostensibly grown man who has just said — in print, for God and everybody to see — that he wanted to see another man cry.

That’s what you do when you’re surrounded by enablers — you blame everyone else, and you never look within.

Okay, nice story. One problem, though: that is not what LeBron James did. His exact quote (given by one of these other peddlers of drivel) was "sometimes you got it, sometimes you don’t." That’s not blaming other people. That’s an admission that he did not have his best game that night.

I can’t go through any more of this shit. I’m already getting to the point where I’m not really making jokes so much as just swearing. Suffice to say, Simmons goes on and on in this vein for several thousand more words, includes a chart of goddamn fourth-quarter finals stats — because we needed more evidence that Bill Simmons has the mathematical understanding of a wallaby — and then curiously ends by declaring that Chris Bosh is in trouble because the team needs a scapegoat, and it "won’t be LeBron or Wade."

I guess I missed the part where LeBron won’t be the scapegoat through the endless fog of assholes making LeBron the scapegoat. Assholes like you, Bill Simmons.

June 15th, 2011 Posted by | Games | no comments