Posted by Chris on Monday, March 14, 2011
I started this piece about Kobe Bryant's collapse against the Heat at the end of Thursday night, somewhere around midnight. The concept behind the article would've been that his ego (in a Freudian sense) destroyed him at the end of this game, dealing with age and other lingering issues when facing physically superior competitors. I love talking about things crumbling. There was also going to be a bit about how, in the "clutch" (if we're all going to designate the end of close games between playoff teams by that terminology; also, ever notice nobody mentions bad teams' closers?), Kobe had been playing like a housecat in a deep, unending slumber. So many bad shots. About an hour later, I first read about the earthquake and I've mostly been unable to concentrate on basketball related things since then.
There have been a few things that have distracted me from the endless human suffering abroad, first and foremost being the pretty amazing NCAA conference tournaments this past weekend. Undoubtedly the most exciting moment in those dozens of games was the PAC-10 championship game, where Washington and Arizona found themselves in a brutal shootout (not really, but this is how things are typically described) towards the end of the second half, likely orchestrated in part by the booming, awesome voice of Gus Johnson. Upon the inevitable tie, Washington performed better in overtime, but Arizona caught up (thanks to some good defense and the Huskies inability to put a ball through a uniformly-measured hoop), leading to the following, an incredible display of youthful swagger, skill, and voiceover performance:
Excitement! I've written a lot on here and Twitter about how much I truly despise the cabal of ESPN's NBA coverage, and how difficult it is to just hear Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen put together a broadcast. I briefly listened to the Orlando/Phoenix game yesterday while doing some other work (clearly not writing anything), and in comparison to the lucid excitement that Gus Johnson brings to the [normally, sort of lame] world of amateur basketball, those very well-paid fellows who are supposed to represent the best of the sport only do it a disservice. While it is normally quite a harsh bummer, it seemed especially awful yesterday compared to how wonderful Johnson was the night before on a competing network.
So yeah, that managed to cheer me out of my ennui a bit on Saturday. Last night, the Timberwolves played against Golden State, in a game I never considered watching despite having an ethereal attachment to both teams due to my immersion in negative dunkalectics (lowercase indicating the attachment to the concept). I had a previous commitment to "Chopped All-Stars" and the Fab Five documentary, and although I was pretty excited to read about whatever happened in the game and maybe check it out later if it was tight, there was no reasonable expectation of watching it. But in the end, it was a "historic night" in Oakland, as Kevin Love's much-lauded double-double streak finally ended, almost as soon as anybody noticed that it had began.
As a pretty constant reader of advanced and non-advanced box scores every morning, I have had the pleasure of seeing Love become the best "bad player on a good team" in centuries, surpassing even the Byzantine post-player Liutprand the Rhomaioi, who played with a very good barnstorming team in the early 13th century. Love and Beasley have been a thrill to watch mature this year, even as the Beas gets kicked out of movie theatres for being obnoxious and Love's public persona teeters on the line between funny and annoying. Those two cats are pretty much why the "Wolves Watch" column even began as a joke, many months ago.
But as good as Liutprand was - once, he was shipwrecked on a remote Grecian island and on the night he was rescued, put up a 32/21/5 with six steals in his return to civilization - Kevin Love's ascension from sixth man to franchise player is a tale of legend (sort of like Danny Granger). And like the footnotes of many legends (and Danny Granger), in six months nobody will give a singular crap about Kevin Love's streak of double-doubles.
(Click here to read more Negative Dunkalectics!)