Tuesday, January 24, 2006

AHW: The Winner is Not

Truly a bumper crop this week, so I felt the need to give some recognition to those that may have been worthy in a different week.

  • Joel Stein and Rick Santorum - for crassest use of the troops in search of a punchline and political cover, respectively.
  • Not unrelatedly, myself for throwing XWL under the bus by feeding him to angry Balloon Juice lefties over his take on the above-linked Stein piece. Twice.
  • Ron Artest. You can't demand a trade...and then nix the trade they work out. You just can't do that. People might start thinking you're crazy if you keep this mess up...Though personally, I think this trade sucks for the Pacers. I think Peja would make them worse. But, if they feel they need a decaying, one-dimensional, soft, smelly player who is decidedly non-clutch in the playoffs, who am I to argue?
4. You

Charges: Silently enabling and contributing to the irreversible destruction of your planet. Absolving yourself of your responsibility to do anything about it that your immediate neighbors don’t. Assuming that it’s normal behavior to spend several hours each day totally inert and staring into a cathode ray tube. Substituting antidepressants for physical motion. Caring more about the personal relationships of people you will never meet than your own. Shrugging your shoulders at the knowledge that your government is populated by criminal liars intent on fooling you into impoverished, helpless submission. Cheering this process on.

Exhibit A: You don’t even know who your congressman is.

Sentence: Deathbed realization that your entire life was an unending series of stupid mistakes and wasted opportunities, a priceless gift of potential extravagantly squandered, for which you deserve nothing but scorn or, at best, indifference, and a cold, meaningless demise.
I do too know who my congressman is. I resent that part of it.

For two guys watching history unfold, my father and I weren't exactly high-fiving in the living room or anything. The game made me feel the same way I felt while watching "March of the Penguins." I had always wondered what a penguin's life was like; once I knew how depressing it was, I wanted to sit in my garage with the car running. Sometimes it's almost better not to know these things. And Kobe's 81-point game was a little like that. For a perimeter player to score that many points, you have to hog the ball to a degree that's almost disarming to watch; it almost stops resembling a basketball game. More than Kobe's rising point total, Dad and I found ourselves fascinated by his icy demeanor, the lack of excitement by the guys on the Lakers bench, even the dysfunctional way that his teammates were killing themselves going for rebounds and steals to get him more shots.

. . .

When an exhausted Kobe reached 81 and appeared barely able to stay on his feet, the Lakers removed him to a standing ovation, as well as half-hearted hugs and high-fives from his teammates (all of whom will be disciplined this week from Mitch Kupchak for not celebrating joyously enough). The best reaction belonged to Jackson, who seemed amused, supportive and somewhat horrified, like how Halle Berry's husband probably looked after sitting through his first screening of "Monster's Ball." The second-best reaction belonged to my Dad, who listened to Kobe's postgame interview with Patrick O'Neal and excitedly said, "Wait, how can you score 81 points and not thank your teammates?" Not since Hilary Swank snubbed then-husband Chad Lowe at the 2000 Oscars have we seen something that blatantly egocentric. And look how they turned out.
Grossly unfair? Absolutely. Of course, I feel the same way myself...

Winner tommorow, I promise.

1 comment:

Kierkegaard Lives said...

I read Simmons' take on Kobe's 81, and I guess I didn't see it exactly like you did. He was hard on Kobe, in some respects, sure. But at the same time, I guess it seemed to me like the point he was making was more that as much as any NBA fan might want to say "I'd like to see somebody score 80 (or 100 or whatever ungodly number)," when it actually happens you have to stop and realize what it means. Nobody can score 81 and have a truly "team" effort; especially a perimeter player. Doing so *requires* being an unbelievable gunner and ball-hog.

So the point I got from Simmons' take on the 81 was more of an "I can't believe what I saw, Kobe was phenomenal" and yet "it was almost sickening to see someone keep gunning through double and triple teams" all at the same time. It was a train-wreck that any true NBA fan wanted to see, couldn't quit watching, and yet objectively has to reflect on as both amazing and sickening all at the same time.

As much as I think everything else you said here is right on, I don't see Simmons' column as being "AHOW" material, myself. Not that it's my call, of course . . .