J.R. Smith sez, "Press the 'full screen' button."

Poll: will anybody do anything this cool during the Knicks/Heat game tonight?!

A Bow of Performance, or Pierce Gets Weird

Last night, the Celtics/Knicks game on ESPN literally turned the world into a carnival for three hours, and as clowns and trapeze artists descended on a three-family apartment building off the MBTA subway system, I ate some cotton candy stuffed into my face by a carnie, and saw a performance immersed in the most classic drama, the high art lowered onto a basketball court. And with that, I was given a bow of appreciation. What Paul Pierce was delivering when he bowed to the crowd at Madison Square Garden was not necessarily a curtain call, but an acknowledgment of the very transparent nature of professional basketball.
Recently, I attended my first professional basketball game worth giving a fuck about – the Nuggets/Celtics game last Wednesday in Boston – and with it, I had a particularly good seat (thanks, B). I don’t mean to sound bigheaded, but as somebody used to horrible vantage points of professional sporting events, it was interesting to actually see an event from a value practically approximate to where I had been viewing the sport since I was a child - the television set. And through the hundred TV timeouts that ESPN allowed the home crowd to enjoy, I became just slightly more aware of the performativity being exhibited. Just a little.
After likely his best performance of the season last night, Pierce made it apparent through his audacious bow that he was more than willing to admit the clutchness displayed was, as Butler put it, "an identity instituted through a stylized repetition of acts."1 But whereas Butler referred to the formation of gender identity, Pierce was illustrating that his own common showmanship - his aforementioned "clutchness" to hit a last second shot - signifies nothing more to him than a series of deliberate postures in order to satisfy the television viewer's preconceived notions of Paul Pierce.

So while his initial move wowed the audience at home and shocked the audience at the Garden, the secondary gesture - the one that addressed the very Realness of what they were seeing, and I guess broke through the "fourth wall" of performance - is the one that has pissed everybody off.
The reaction from spectators on Twitter from this arguably audacious move by Pierce is remarkably uniform:
  • “So pierce wanna take a bow in front of the fans at the garden huh? Sum1 tell that turtle to eat a dick.” - iS1NCERE
  • Pierce took a bow @ center court after the game. I wish I was there so I could've threw my cell phone at him. It would be worth it.” - SHANK23
  • “SMH at pierce doing a bow to the NY fans... someone needs to knock his ass to the ground #whatareyoudoing” - KillahKev
But Pierce wasn't being a crampy dick when he bowed to the audience: he was only filling them in on the joke of what he did to begin with. Oh well. Deal with it dog gif.
1 This is from somewhere in the essay “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution.”

Wolves Watch (Losing Against Fast-Paced Teams)

Tonight in this special guest-rendered Wolves Watch, we'll review last night's game between the aforementioned Timberwolves and the struggling Golden State Warriors, and preview tonight's all hip-hop edition against the most awkward team in the league, the Phoenix Suns. But first, a picture of some skulls representing what we're all facing someday: a rivalry between the Suns and the Wolves!

For the first time since the early oughties, the Timberwolves are playing the best out of the three or four pro sports franchises in Minnesota (just kidding, but I'm not looking up the record of the Minnesota Wild either). Despite the team's ghastly 6-19 record, I stand by this statement: the trifecta of Michael Beasley, Kevin Love and Дарко Миличић are the best young front court in the league, and if Ricky Rubio wasn't such a fucking baby, they'd be an awesome team. Actually, even with just Martell Webster and Jonny Flynn coming back, they're incredibly exciting (to think about and not watch)!

Last night was probably the beginning of this dynasty: Webster and Flynn both had their season debuts, and while Flynn performed decently off the bench (a three pointer and four assists in sixteen minutes), Webster showed the kind of play that made him such a valuable role player for the Blazers last season - in 26 minutes, he put up 6-8 shooting and a few free throws for 17 points, five rebounds and unfortunately, five turnovers. And Darko, holy hell, you mammoth you: the Big
Миличић went off for a career high 25 points last night. Other than that? Eh. Corey Brewer and Luke Ridnour sucked. Kevin Love rebounded ball.

Tonight against the slumping Suns (did you know the Suns fell below .500? I had no idea, nobody on their team knows how to dunk so they're never on ESPN), the Wolves will probably lose again, BUT they will definitely not get outmuscled in the post. The Wolves are traveling to balmy Phoenix, where they will face a team faced with a three-game losing streak, and one actual center, the returning and mediocre Robin Lopez. So, this should be fun.

Uninformed Prediction: Phoenix 115, Minnesota 102

The Bleak Index (Episode One)

This series has been in the making since the dawn of Negative Dunkalectics but thanks to a combination of “I CANT I HAVE FINALS!" futility and just general lack of inspiration (obviously waiting for the Sixers to climb out of the Bleak 5.) But I got inspired and so the Bleak Index has finally been realized.

Let me break it down for you. The Bleak Index is a two tiered layer cake of bleak. We'll start with the Week In Bleak, dividing our focus between "The Toxic Team" and "The Putrid Player." Then we'll present the Bleak 5: a list of the five absolute worst organizations in the NBA... and possibly in the world.

Week in Bleak

Toxic Team: Your New Orleans Hornets!

Two things really inspired this kickoff of the Week in Bleak.

First, as I was driving to work yesterday evening thanks to a mix of stunning cold while pumping my gas and the sparse nature of the Pennsylvania countryside my mind began to wander. I started thinking about how utterly depressing it was going to be to have to leave the comfort of my heated American made sedan for the bitter wind and cold of the time just after sunset. I looked at the scenic route of back roads I was driving on and I saw a sparse, barren landscape. Branches moved with gusts of winds and no leaves in sight show how far we've come sine summer and early fall. It was depressing. It was bleak.

Second: the Hornets bleak second quarter against the 76ers this Sunday. Here another blog might give you a Hornets shot chart from the quarter laid out on a basketball court graphic. But representing the Hornet's putrid quarter like that would literally defile the Wells Fargo Center's beautiful court... a court, mind you, that has been no stranger to bad play.

So here's my more pious representation of the shot chart. As usual: O = Shot Made; X = Shot Missed.

That's 1... UNO... UN... ONE field goal made in the entire second quarter!

Consider the fact Chris Paul shot .500 on field goals in the second and you will truly realize how bad the Hornets second quarter was. The guys not named Chris Paul went a fantastic ZERO for NINETEEN.

Now to be fair to the Hornets this was a 12:00 PM start time so maybe they were feeling a little sluggish. But really that is no excuse. This is a professional team with one of the top-two NBA point guards distributing the ball... and the best they can do is to make zero shots in a quarter. They went 0-6 from 10-feet or less including an 0-3 from 3-feet or less. 0-3 from 3-point range. Including Paul's numbers, a staggering 1-10 from 15-19 feet.

Why any cold team would settle for 10 shots from mid-range is beyond me. The mid-range jumper tends to be one of the worst shots in the NBA. It's usually more contested than a 3-pointer and it's usually not going in. And yet this team fell in love with the mid-range shot amidst a terribly cold shooting performance. Now you may be tempted to credit the Sixers with some stout defense...but really this nearly perfect instance of ineptitude was not the result of smothering defense. It was simply poor ball movement and a team of guys settling for bad shots.

The truly sad part of this second quarter is that it will probably not even go down as the worst thing to happen to the Hornets this year. In addition to scuttling on the court that is unmatched currently the Hornets face the perilous and unfortunate situation of having been taken over by the NBA, with financial statements that would make Bernie Madoff feel sorry for them.

The Hornets tried to bounce back Monday against the Miami Heat, and comparatively speaking, that worked out much better for them, as they waited until the fourth quarter to score just nine points. Things are bleak in New Orleans, and frankly I haven't even fully digested how bad the Hornets were against the Sixers. And I've already used the word "bleak" more times than it's ever been used in a blog post. So it's time to move on... but just remember that it was bleak.

Putrid Player
Anyone not named Chris Paul on the New Orleans Hornets. You have been terrible.

Bleak 5
  • L.A. Clippers – Owner Heckles your “STAR”
  • Washington Wizards – John Wall...knee problems. Ouch.
  • Sacramento Kings – Cousins vs. Westphal. Garcia vs. Balls.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers – Even Harden has Dunkface on the Cavs.
  • Detroit Pistons – Rip is going mad.
Honorable Mentions: Half the East, Brandon Roy's Knees, Minnesota.

21st Century Walker

Before maybe ten minutes ago, I had been firmly opposed to the idea of Carmelo Anthony being granted his Christmas wishes to be traded to the surging New York Knicks. But then I thought about it, for exactly ten minutes, and then I came to a conclusion which I love, and that is when I began to write this piece. Carmelo Anthony needs to be traded to the Knicks so he can become a 21st century version of Antoine Walker.

Consider Anthony's career shooting percentages from behind the arc and then make love to it in your brain until you ponder the fundamentals of the D'Antoni system. The Knicks have been rumored to give up Wilson Chandler and possibly the beloved Italian Stallion (what will happen to his budding relationship with Harriet The Spy tart Michelle Trachtenberg?!) in an effort to drag Carmelo into the Greatest Sports City in the World. While Gallinari is definitely not the ridiculous monster that he was painted as in the pre-season, he is still a very serviceable player and is probably having sex with somebody on the CW. And Chandler? Come on. This is easily his best season in his career.

Draped in a giant apple costume, will Mr. Anthony continue to drive to the hoop and make weird jump shots (as he has forever) or will he yield to the greatness of D'Antoni, and shoot a couple more three pointers per game than he has in the past? Ray Felton has completely out of nowhere, and he's just barely a better three point shooter than Carmelo. An increase in shots with his current three point percentage - or even, let's say, one marginally better since he'll stop bitching about being on a Pretty Good team and start caring again - would result in a distinctly Antoinian player. In the tradition/farce of the original, his overall shot percentage will fall a little more. The evolved Carmelo will start taking over games when the Knicks never needed a player like him to. They'll make the playoffs, but seriously, first or second round exit every time.

There are other serious options to consider when pondering over the ability of Carmelo Anthony to succeed or struggle with a team built like the Knicks. A friend and I had a text message conversation yesterday about the other, pre-Antoinian, results of this trade. The most important thing, at least for me, came in a response to my doubt that the team chemistry thats grown through the past few weeks could sustain such an upheaval: "Chemistry can only take a team so far. Talent is what drives the league."

I only had one rebuke for him at the time: "We'll see." After the fact, maybe "Miami Heat's first month" could be another retort. Or "Indiana Pacers" or something. Losing full-blooded Knicks in exchange for Anthony would obviously be detrimental to the Knicks in the short team as far as chemistry goes. But it would be especially harmful in the long term - like when he signs a max extension right after signing instead of in the weird new free agency market of 2011!

When Carmelo does adapt some of the role that Chandler has been performing (like rebounding, primarily, under the Antoinian model), it's to the disadvantage of adorable Landry Fields, whose entire rookie year to this point revolves around this freakish non-positional shit which would end. And seriously? How can you want to hurt Landry?

So, Knicks and Nuggets: pull the cord and let's allow this season to truly Get Weird. In the immediate aftermath, the Nuggets will probably need a tweener forward, maybe somebody who currently resides on their D-League affiliate?