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David Stern, the Soft NBA, and the Long Shadow of the Malice in the Palace1
There are two things that happen in every NBA game, and until I read this piece by Andrew Lynch, I never thought of them as explicitly connected in any way.
The first is the ire directed at refs by players, coaches and fans who balk at quick their whistles and iron-clad officiating styles. The other is the ire directed towards soft players who no longer seem to resemble the brawny bulwarks of the NBA s glorious (and mythical) past. These two things, for me, existed separately.
But according to Lynch, this dual disappointment, about an overabundance of security, and a lack of toughness, are intimately connected. Lynch hypothesizes that this relationship stems directly from the infamous 2004 Malice in the Palace , where a brawl between the Pistons and Pacers spilled into the stands. From this cataclysm, two distinct trends emerged: an outward effort from the league (and particularly commissioner David Stern) to more tightly control all aspects of the game, as well as a focused response from the players to change their styles in an effort to simply stay on the floor.
The whistles aren t to prevent emotion; they re simply to keep it in check and prevent it from becoming violence incarnate, argues Lynch. This was a very original argument from Lynch about the way security and safety have affected the very way the game is played and officiated.
How the NBA is Using the D-League to Experiment with Shorter Games2
You can read the title of the piece, and get a perfect idea of what Zach Lowe is discussing: the NBA is using the D-League to experiment with shorter games. Lowe explains that this has been a goal of the NBA for some time now; that the NBA has looked at ways to cut down on interminable nature of crunchtime, and the ways to make all of their advertising partners and broadcast affiliates happy.
Lowe, ever the enterprising investigator, lists all of the ways the D-League is tweaking their product in an effort to squeeze a game broadcast into a two hour television window, and of course, it is well worth the read. The actual rule changes themselves weren t as interesting to me as the way the NBA uses the D-League as essentially a laboratory for rule changes and procedural adjustments. As a former student of history, it reminded me of the way colonial powers used to administrate their colonies, and turn them into little modernist laboratories.
Interesting stuff from the always-reliable Lowe.
The Phoenix Suns have far and away been my favorite surprise team of this young NBA season, and the play of point guard Eric Bledsoe has been a major reason why (I have long had a soft spot in my heart for Channing Frye and Gogi Dragic). Jack Winter puts a lot of this Bledsoe-related love into words in this excellent piece for Hardwood Paroxysm. Winter takes us through all of the particularities of Bledsoe s games, and highlights the ways Bledsoe emphasizes his elite level athleticism, as well as his expanding skill-set as the Suns lead guard.
Using video analysis and statistics, Winter ably argues that Bledsoe s paycheck will be padded with his unbelievable utility; indeed, no one s points, assists, or steals are more valuable to the 6-3 Suns than Bledsoe. And what s more? As a young player who has not yet faced restricted free agency, Phoenix is in a great position to keep him on their terms.
Winter is correct: Bledsoe s full breadth of talent is finally on display in Phoenix. The Suns, obviously, are taking advantage . Excellent work from Winter and HP.
To say I was overjoyed to find this Classical piece by Colin McGowan doesn t really begin to describe my feelings.
Indeed, this piece allowed me to attach words to what I ve long felt, both as a fan of basketball, and a blogger in this great big stuff-o-sphere in the sky: that getting pundit-like mad about fanhood is played out, man. McGowan writes a convincing argument for a return to the simple pleasure of fandom the sport itself and a departure away from having fervent opinions based upon social media posts and Internet-writer deadlines. McGowan s experience is informed dually by his experience as a Cavaliers fan, and a former music critic for five years.
McGowan sees many similarities between the two scenes, and indeed, they do seem to be carbon copies, in many ways. What tends to lead people in that scene astray is a confusion in the hierarchy between criticism (the talking about the thing) and the thing we all supposedly care about, writes McGowan. Some of this is inevitable when pleasure becomes work, but it s self-perpetuating, and it stinks, and it makes for worse and less happy critics.
It is almost as if he is describing my experience in this blogging-world to the T. But McGowan gives me, and every other beleaguered fan who just wants to watch and enjoy the sport some hope to hang our hats on. The good news is that being a sports fan doesn t have to be such a despairing predicament.
It just requires a regular emptying of the mental cache, a willingness to remember the actual object of devotion, and why, and a willingness to feel what feels good. Which, after all, is a large part of why we cultivate an interest in anything. Amen, brother.
Amen. This may be my favorite piece ever from The Classical, and one of the better encapsulations on the trappings of rabid fanhood and fake punditry that I ve ever read. So happy I found this; I will return to it often.
As a Warriors fan who lives in the North Bay, I found this piece by Richard Sandomir of The New York Times very interesting.
Sandomir reports that the Atlanta Braves will be leaving Turner Field, a relatively new building in Atlanta, for a state-of-the-art complex in the northern suburbs of the city. According to the team, the new building will cut costs for the fans, who mostly live in that region, and the team, then, can monetize those cut costs through parking and concessions. This is not like the NBA, where most arenas are in heavily-populated metropolitan areas (with exceptions existing in Sacramento and Detroit), but why not?
The Warriors are planning on moving to San Francisco in 2017, but most of the team s fans originate from the East, South and North Bay. If the arena can t be renovated, what s stopping the team from moving south to Santa Clara, or north to Santa Rosa? Okay, the Warriors will never move 60 miles north to a suburb with no corporate headquarters.
But a guy can t hope, can t he?
- ^ David Stern, the Soft NBA, and the Long Shadow of the Malice in the Palace (hardwoodparoxysm.com)
- ^ How the NBA is Using the D-League to Experiment with Shorter Games (www.grantland.com)
- ^ Eric Bledsoe: Rising Sun (hardwoodparoxysm.com)
- ^ Change This Face: Towards Being a Better Fan (theclassical.org)
- ^ Braves Plan to Leave Turner Field for Suburbs (www.nytimes.com)