Small Market Mondays #14: Appreciating an All-Star Papacy

Long ago in a distant land, Alex Arnon was watching a Kings/Suns preseason game when he became so furiously enraged at a Tyreke Evans double-teamed isolation jumper with 19 seconds on the shot clock that he hit his head, fainted, and woke up a delusional new man. To my understanding, he's now wholly ensconced in a bizarro world where some guy named Xenu created the Earth, Segways changed the very core of how people get around, and small markets make up the vast majority of NBA coverage and traffic. So just remember the motto we've provided our cracked-skull columnist: "No superstars? No problem!"

The All-Star Game is back, baby!

Well, okay... All-Star weekend is back. After all, who cares about a bunch of overpaid ninnies refusing to play defense in a cash-grab by that devilish Stern? What really matters this weekend are the true main events: the dunk contest and the three-point shootout! In the dunk contest we've got Gerald Green, James White, and and Terrence Ross representing the East. You all know how I feel about Terrence Ross' Raptors but let's talk about James White for a moment. While he does play for the biggest of big market bullies, the New York Knicks, I believe a small-market heart beats within him. White started his career with our beloved Spurs back in 2006, but he didn't catch on there and had to play in Turkey, Italy, and Russia in order to make his way back to the NBA. He's demonstrated three very small market traits on his way back to the NBA: hard work, determination, and a devout hatred of communism. When he played for Saint Petersburg in 2009-10 he made absolutely sure that they didn't win a single accolade so that those dirty commies wouldn't be happy. It's surely no coincidence that Saint Petersburg won the Russian cup the year after he left!

The dunk contest ALSO has small-market saviors Jeremy Evans and Kenneth Faried participating, which is neat. But let's be real. Dunks are flashy, with pizzazz and artistry. Who has time for pizzazz and artistry in a small market? Not me, that's who. There's only one thing that REALLY matters during the all-star weekend: the good-old fashioned three point shootout. And what a doozy this year's event is going to be, friends! The West's main attraction is the peerless Matt Bonner, a man who once made, shot, and consumed 25 consecutive sandwiches from halfcourt. The Red-haired William Shatner lookalike will have Stephen Curry and Ryan Anderson alongside him in the West, but what I'm truly excited for is his competition in the East. Steve Novak, white-guy extraordinaire, will be a tough one to beat. Paul George is the object of affection for small marketeers everywhere and surpassed by only one man. The last man in this year's 3 point shooting contest and surely the one to will win at all, just as he's won our hearts? Kyrie Irving. Experts worldwide are expecting him to score a perfect 25/25 while showing everyone in the dunk contest by making his last attempt a dunk from the three-point line. Because if there's one man who can do it, it's Skyrie Irving.

One last note - I wasn't originally gonna talk about this, but the main page for the Skills Challenge has "Fundamentals" as the first word in its headline so I feel rather obligated to include it. There's a skills challenge! Several actual NBA players will compete to see whose definition of the word "skrillex" is closest to the actual definition, assuming they don't fall asleep during one of Kenny Smith's monologues. Can't wait! Here's hoping Coach B teaches his protege Tony Parker a bit about the fundamentals of the game (and a bit about skrillex) to help him repeat! Continue reading

Small Market Mondays #13: Off to Canadia

Long ago in a distant land, Alex Arnon was watching a Kings/Suns preseason game when he became so furiously enraged at a Tyreke Evans double-teamed isolation jumper with 19 seconds on the shot clock that he hit his head, fainted, and woke up a delusional new man. To my understanding, he's now wholly ensconced in a bizarro world where some guy named Xenu created the Earth, Segways changed the very core of how people get around, and small markets make up the vast majority of NBA coverage and traffic. So just remember the motto we've provided our cracked-skull columnist: "No superstars? No problem!"

Friends, I still can't get over the week's most wonderful of news! Rudy Gay has finally left behind our beloved Grizzlies, and we replaced him with Tayshaun Prince! You may be wondering why I'm so happy that the Grizzlies lost their "best" scorer, and there's quite a simple reason why. Rudy Gay is a Big Market Bully, someone who eschews teamwork for his own personal gain; Tayshaun Prince is a Small Market Sacrificer, someone who would do anything for his team.

It makes sense then that Rudy Gay is on his way to Toronto (a place in Canada) to play his me-me-me game in a fancy pancy wannabe-European big market. Honestly, who espouses arrogance and self-centeredness more than the French? When you remember that Toronto is the capital of Ontario which is a state in the province of Quebec [Ed. Note: Ontario is not in Quebec, Alex] which for a reason unbeknownst to me tries to be French and not American even though we're right next to each other... then yeah, folks! It makes perfect sense that Rudy "16 shots per game" Gay now plays for their home team. He never really fit in with the Grizzlies' true American grit and hard work "grind", instead relying on isolation mid-rangers and stand-alone reverse pivot jump-o's instead of running the tried and true pick-n-roll or hop-n-pop. [Ed. Note: Why do you write for a basketball blog, again?]

It also makes sense that Tayshaun Prince will now play in the heartland of the good ol' USA for America's team. In Detroit he's done nothing but sacrifice: he shot less so Brandon Knight could develop, he passed more to Greg Monroe so he could do cool big-guy stuff, and he kept his facial bones intact so that Rip Hamilton could be the only guy on the team with a sweet mask. Surely he's going to be a consummate teammate as always, offering to teach Marc Gasol better English (and hopefully Tony Allen along the way), going out and decidedly not beating anyone up with Zach Randolph, and also doing whatever cool trickaroonies he does on a basketball court.

Also apparently this deal was really good for Memphis' "cap space" but Tayshaun's and Rudy's heads look kinda the same size to me so I dunno what all that hullabaloo is about. Whatever, though, that's just another way the Grizz win this trade (besides not being located in the country of Canadia, of course). [Ed. Note: IT'S SPELLED CANADA.] Continue reading

Small Market Mondays #12: Eminent Domain

Long ago in a distant land, Alex Arnon was watching a Kings/Suns preseason game when he became so furiously enraged at a Tyreke Evans double-teamed isolation jumper with 19 seconds on the shot clock that he hit his head, fainted, and woke up a delusional new man. To my understanding, he's now wholly ensconced in a bizarro world where some guy named Xenu created the Earth, Segways changed the very core of how people get around, and small markets make up the vast majority of NBA coverage and traffic. So just remember the motto we've provided our cracked-skull columnist: "No superstars? No problem!"

Last week we discussed the All-Star candidacy of Rajon Rondo (related: why haven't we made bionic ACLs yet? Get on it, Doctors!) and Kyrie Irving (WHOO I LOVE YOU BABY). All was made right this week when Kyrie Irving was named as an All-Star reserve. And due to Rajon Rondo's extraordinarily unfortunate injury, he should be the starting point guard for the Eastern Conference! Not even a small market backer such as myself can condone the slightest of injuries to the biggest of big market players. Doing so would be quite big market bully-esque. I refuse. Get well soon, Rondo!

You know who won't be playing in the All-Star Game this year though, no injuries required? The traitorous Joe Johnson, of course! Having played in Small Market Mecca Atlanta since 2005 ("CAW CAWWWWWW"), he was rewarded by the Gods that be with 6 straight dubiously deserved All-Star appearances from 2007 - 2012. Note how I said 2012 and not 2013. Hah! Joey J made his way to the fakest of all big markets this offseason -- Brooklyn. They're not a real big market! They just moved from small-market-at-heart New Jersey this year! They parade Jay-Z around to pretend like he's a real owner. Come on! The man barely owns 1/15th of 1 percent of the franchise, just so they can be relevant... wait, hold up, I'm being told that's worth over a million dollars. That also happens to be much, much more than what I'm worth. Blast it all. You win again, Jay-Zed.

But that's all beside the point -- Joe Johnson broke his streak of six straight All-Star Games by moving from Atlanta to Brooklyn. In fact, not a single Brooklyn Net is playing in the All-Star Game this year, even though they're 26-18 and it's well-deserved. Unless anyone was paying attention when Nets owner Bruce Ratner used eminent domain to displace hundreds of citizens in order to make over a billion dollars. There's no way that happened, right? Oh. It did? Well, dang. Speaking of which, how the heck did they use a law of Eminem's domain when Jay-Z is their part owner rapper?! There's got to be some beef there, right? Something's rotten in the state of Brooklyn, Horatio. Anyway. How about this -- we as fans need to use our power of eminent domain or whatever it's called to take back every All-Star spot ever awarded to them from the Nets and ensure that none of those poseur big marketeers ever make it in? Seems reasonable to me.

Hopefully, thanks to us, an All-Star spot will never be an (emi)Net's domain. Continue reading

Small Market Mondays #11: Hey Rondo, You're An All Star

Long ago in a distant land, Alex Arnon was watching a Kings/Suns preseason game when he became so furiously enraged at a Tyreke Evans double-teamed isolation jumper with 19 seconds on the shot clock that he hit his head, fainted, and woke up a delusional new man. To my understanding, he's now wholly ensconced in a bizarro world where some guy named Xenu created the Earth, Segways changed the very core of how people get around, and small markets make up the vast majority of NBA coverage and traffic. So just remember the motto we've provided our cracked-skull columnist: "No superstars? No problem!"

Remember Smash Mouth's smash hit "All Star"? Having made that song my life's motto many moons ago, I was incredibly disappointed recently when I learned that the absolute poetry which legendary frontman Steve Harwell blessed our lives with isn't 100% true.

With All-Star Game voting concluding recently, I had latched on to one lyric in particular - only shooting stars break the mold. What an astute metaphor that was for the wonderful game of basketball, I thought. Only rising small market superstars could break the big market mold. I knew that the unholy liberal elite New England media stranglehold was going to incessantly push for stat-padder and all-around petulant child Rajon Rondo to start in the All-Star Game. I also knew that small market darling and future greatest point guard of all-time Kyrie Irving was much more deserving than Mr. Rondo as is evident by a quick look at their Player Efficiency Ratings: Kyrie is 2th among all point guards in the East, behind only Kyle Lowry who has played 329 minutes less than Kyrie, whereas Rondo is 6th among Eastern conference point guards. This is surely incontrovertible evidence, right? Wrong.

You see, I forgot to factor in the fact that those uppity liberal elites would stop at nothing to win! The All-Star Game is a popularity contest voted on by the unwashed masses and who else but big marketeers would have millions of these cretins in their city? As you probably know by now, Rajon Rondo will be starting for the East in this year's All-Star Game and not Kyrie Irving. Smash Mouth lied to me. Smash Mouth lied to us all. I've been spending the weekend making all of my friends promise not to eat anything associated with Guy Fieri or listen to Insane Clown Posse records (which, granted, no one should be doing in the first place) because of the resemblance they all bear with the Mouth's lead singer. But I guess only one thing truly matters now:

Hey Rondo, you're an all-star. Continue reading

Small Market Mondays #10: Robbing Peter to Pay Maloofs

Long ago in a distant land, Alex Arnon was watching a Kings/Suns preseason game when he became so furiously enraged at a Tyreke Evans double-teamed isolation jumper with 19 seconds on the shot clock that he hit his head, fainted, and woke up a delusional new man. To my understanding, he's now wholly ensconced in a bizarro world where some guy named Xenu created the Earth, Segways changed the very core of how people get around, and small markets make up the vast majority of NBA coverage and traffic. So just remember the motto we've provided our cracked-skull columnist: "No superstars? No problem!"

Happy Monday, everyone! Today I'd like to discuss everyone's small market darling, the Sacramento Kings. You've probably heard the news by now -- a consortium of "lattechino"-sipping Seattle socialites are trying to purchase the Kings from the oft-maligned Maloof brothers in an attempt to forcibly bring back the Seattle Supersonics. At best, this move is robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Perhaps the Sonics were un-rightfully robbed from Seattle. Well, alright -- they definitely were. But what gives them the right to steal the Kings from Sacramento? The fact that the Seattle fanbase knows what it's like to lose a team should give them more perspective than the average observer, yet all I see from them is "sucks to suck, Sacramento". There are children in Sacramento who love nothing more than to watch Jimmer swish 3's, to see Isaiah Thomas put up 21 points in the 3rd quarter, or try to figure out why DeMarcus Cousins anything he ever does.

How do you explain this to them?

This move could result in anywhere between 600 to 1,000 jobs being lost in Sacramento, one of the hardest-hit recession cities: they're currently sporting a disturbingly high 11.7% unemployment rate. The city of Sacramento approved spending $255 million dollars of the taxpayers money to keep the Kings there. Doesn't matter! They still might be moved, thanks to the incompetence of the Maloofs! Remember those kids I made up earlier in an unabashed attempt to tug your heartstrings? Imagine them losing their favorite team while their single mother loses her job alongside them because she worked in ticket sales for the Kings. Welp.

Yes, Seattle fans, life is tough and terrible things happen. Does that really justify taking the Kings away from a city who loves them despite their extremely incompetent owners? The Sacramento Kings actually hold the record for the 4th longest sell-out streak in league history... even when they were sub 0.500 for 11 of those 12 straight years. Having something stolen from you doesn't give you the right to steal from others, no matter how unjustified the wrongdoing was. Kings fans need to pressure the Maloofs into selling to an ownership group who will take a better role in managing the team, then start a brand new record sell-out streak. Because if they don't, maybe the Supersonics really should be saved. Continue reading

Small Market Mondays #9: Respect Your Elders

Long ago in a distant land, Alex Arnon was watching a Kings/Suns preseason game when he became so furiously enraged at a Tyreke Evans double-teamed isolation jumper with 19 seconds on the shot clock that he hit his head, fainted, and woke up a delusional new man. To my understanding, he's now wholly ensconced in a bizarro world where some guy named Xenu created the Earth, Segways changed the very core of how people get around, and small markets make up the vast majority of NBA coverage and traffic. So just remember the motto we've provided our cracked-skull columnist: "No superstars? No problem!"

Good morning, small marketeers! I hope you all enjoyed your New Year's celebrations. Today I come to you with a simple request for the year -- remember the legends of the game. Far too often we consider our generation's greatest to be the greatest ever when the small market way of life would be to simply respect the all-time greats. It's impossible to know who the greatest of all time truly is due to the ever-changing rules of the game, evolving training methods, and differing strategies. All of the greats hang up their jerseys knowing that they'll be forgotten by the annals of history, left out of everyone's favorite moments. And because of this, in an odd way, the decision for a player to retire from the NBA is somewhat like the decision to end a relationship.

You see, the worst part about a break-up is knowing you'll be forgotten soon enough, thanks to the sands of time or a replacement coming into that person's life. Perhaps that replacement isn't as objectively good as you once were, but to the person in love -- the person who used to be in love with you -- that new person is their everything. Hell, even if they know deep down that this new person isn't as good a fit for them, at least that person is actually there in the here and now. They're a tangible object as opposed to a distant memory. And who can trust memories anyways? They're always these wispy, fragile things floating around your head subject to change on every emotional whim. Sure, the best times and the worst times stand out for as long as they can be remembered. But that constant day-in, day-out support and love and just being there for the person is the first thing to be forgotten.

And so it goes for the greats of time immemorial. It's easy to remember the things like small market superstar David Robinson's 71 point game and his season-ending injury but forget that he averaged over 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game for 7 straight seasons. Moses Malone's fo' fo' fo' declaration will live on forever in basketball history, but what about his nearly 25 points/18 rebounds per game averages in 1978-79 with Houston, a feat that hasn't come close to being replicated since? Kareem has the all-time scoring record, but how about his 34 point/16 rebound average with the Bucks in 1971-1972? Adrian Dantley put up nearly 31 points a night along with 6.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists for the Jazz in 1982-83... as a 6'5" power forward. They weren't just flashes in the pan to be defined by their highest moments. These stars made their bread the same way today's lunch-pail players make theirs -- they show up. They're just there.

My point here is that there's a lot of nuance which gets left behind in the debate to find the greatest ever. We have a habit of overrating the stars of our generation, the ones we came of age with like an unforgotten high school love a la Michael Jordan or the ones we get to see ply their craft on prime-time each and every night like LeBron James or Kobe Bryant. We'll never know who was truly the best and that's alright. There's been so many amazingly talented players. It's a certainty that someone better will come along, just as someone better will come along after that new GOAT has retired. Your children are going to proclaim their generation's superstar to be better than Michael Jordan and we're going to put up the counter-argument of it being a different era just as the elders who proclaim Bill Russell the greatest ever do today. So I propose this -- let's stop trying to figure this out. Let's remember all the greats for just how phenomenal they were on such a lengthy timeline instead of remembering them as "that guy who's only the 5th best power forward of all time". Let's stop being obsessed with rankings and arguments and focusing on just a few players at the top. Let's learn our history, respect everyone's game, and marvel at just how separately talented two players can be while playing the same sport.

And most of all, let's respect our elders. Continue reading

Small Market Mondays #8: Family Values

Long ago in a distant land, Alex Arnon was watching a Kings/Suns preseason game when he became so furiously enraged at a Tyreke Evans double-teamed isolation jumper with 19 seconds on the shot clock that he hit his head, fainted, and woke up a delusional new man. To my understanding, he's now wholly ensconced in a bizarro world where some guy named Xenu created the Earth, Segways changed the very core of how people get around, and small markets make up the vast majority of NBA coverage and traffic. So just remember the motto we've provided our cracked-skull columnist: "No superstars? No problem!"

Top of the morning to you, dearest reader! I know you must've missed me in my recent absence but I had to attend to some pressing familial issues, something for which I apologize to you. I would have loved to keep you updated on your beloved small markets during this time but I had to keep to our small market values, the most important of which are family values. Enough about me, though, and on to today's subject -- family values in the NBA!

There's been many NBA players related to one another - Brook and Robin Lopez are brothers, Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady are cousins, and Dell and Steph Curry are a sharpshooting father/son duo. Who could ever forget the Pau for Marc Gasol trade, the New York playground legends of cousins Stephon Marbury and Sebastian Telfair, or the shared capriciousness of the Bynum brothers - Will and Andrew? There's Bill Walton's hilarious legend compared to his son Luke Walton's hilarious uselessness, the always entertaining commentating couplet of Jon and Brent Barry (seriously, he used the word scuttlebutt on NBATV recently), and the gritty toughness of the Evans twins, Tyreke and Reggie.

I listed all that fluff out not just to up my word count (to make notorious big-market apologist and big marketeer editor-in-chief Aaron McGuire happy) [Ed. Note: How many times must I reiterate -- I don't care about your word count!], but to make the point that the family who plays together stays together. And it's not just a basketball-specific phenomenon either -- sure, the family that watches basketball together will stay together, but so will the family that does pretty much anything together. Except domestic violence, probably. That... that wouldn't be very cool. I guess this was all just a really roundabout way to say "spend time with your family, you selfish buffoons". You truly never know if that last Bobcats game you watched with your dad will be the last one or if that argument you had with your brother about Durant vs. LeBron will never get settled or if just telling someone close to you that you love and appreciate them will give them something to keep living for. As someone who had to learn this lesson the hard way just over two weeks ago, I want you to go tell a loved one just how much they mean to you. Seriously, go do it right now. Your computer isn't going anywhere anytime soon and if it does, it's replaceable. They aren't. Go do it. Please.

I love you, Dad. Continue reading

Small Market Mondays #6: A Lesson in Values

Long ago in a distant land, Alex Arnon was watching a Kings/Suns preseason game when he became so furiously enraged at a Tyreke Evans double-teamed isolation jumper with 19 seconds on the shot clock that he hit his head, fainted, and woke up a delusional new man. To my understanding, he's now wholly ensconced in a bizarro world where some guy named Xenu created the Earth, Segways changed the very core of how people get around, and small markets make up the vast majority of NBA coverage and traffic. So just remember the motto we've provided our cracked-skull columnist: "No superstars? No problem!"

Good day, faithful readers! I apologize for not following our tried-and-true structure last week, but that whole Spurs fiasco really rustled my Jimmies. Seeing as how being critical certainly isn't a value we small marketeers like to propagate, I'm going to make amends today by teaching our true values to the team who needs it most -- the big-market Los Angeles Lakers. I know, I know. I've written about the Lakers much more than other (perhaps more deserving) small market teams. But rubbing in everyone's faces just how well-run our teams are isn't in our code of values. But charity is - and the Lakers certainly need charity after last night's dismal-yet-hilarious performance where they lost their fourth of five games, each of which to a small market juggernaut. The first loss was to the Orlando Magic, the team Dwight Howard left to join the Lakers, and a team from which two lessons can be derived.

The first of these lessons? Originality. All of us are unique and precious snowflakes with lives to be cherished and one-of-a-kind legacies to be made. You should never strive to be like anyone else, nor should you abandon the team which did everything you wanted them to do just like the last transcendent center to play for that team did. Dwight changed it up a bit by virtually not trying at all in the penultimate year of his contract while trying to force a trade to the Brooklyn Nets, but the end result was the same when he ended up with the Lakers. Just like good ol' Shaqnificent. You really need to try to be yourself Dwight. Unless your true self is a guy with an obnoxiously over-the-top "wacky" persona who tries to eat cookies off of his forehead like a 3rd grader in a game of truth or dare gone wrong. Then you might want to try to be someone else. But only then.

Another thing you need to try, Mr. Howard, is practicing free throws. These are a small market staple as success in them comes from thousands of hours of hard work and preparation, not planking on Pepsi machines. Disregard my previous thoughts, maybe you should go back to eating cookies off your own face. But never mind that either. What you should REALLY do is avoid going 9/21 from the free throw line in a game decided by 10 points. I'm not the best 'mathologist' around but if you were to make all of those, you would've scored more points than the final margin, which generally means you would've won that game! Awaiting confirmation on this. [Ed. Note: I am a professional mathologist. You are correct. --Aaron] Ha! See, mom? I really COULD be a professional mathologist, if I wanted to. I could be anything at all, ever. Regardless. Dwight, please inject some originality into your life. And considering that Shaq was also really terrible at free throws, you could definitely kill two birds with one stone here.

The third lesson to be learned from these losses is selflessness. In the second loss of this streak, Kobe Bryant took 31 shots for 39 points. Considering that the Lakers are 1-9 when Kobe scores over 30 points this is an obvious mental lapse on Kobe's part. He simply needs to take no more than 14 2-point shots a game while taking a lesson from Dwight Howard's book by missing any free throws he takes - this way, he can't possibly score more than 30 points and the Lakers might actually have a chance to win! With those extra 17 possessions, Kobe can utilize these unbeknownst concepts like "ball movement" and "teamwork" in order to try to "win close games" for the Lakers.

Finally, the last lesson is incredibly simple: for the love of Small Market Allah (A.K.A. Reggie Miller), don't give Chris Duhon minutes. And don't, under any circumstances, let him start. Or else you might somehow get a point guard racking up all of 3 assists in 32 minutes. Normally we small marketeers are in favor of giving everyone a chance in the interests of fairness, but this is the one exception. Chris Duhon: Not even once. Continue reading

Small Market Mondays #5: Sanctimonious Sanctions

Long ago in a distant land, Alex Arnon was watching a Kings/Suns preseason game when he became so furiously enraged at a Tyreke Evans double-teamed isolation jumper with 19 seconds on the shot clock that he hit his head, fainted, and woke up a delusional new man. To my understanding, he's now wholly ensconced in a bizarro world where some guy named Xenu created the Earth, Segways changed the very core of how people get around, and small markets make up the vast majority of NBA coverage and traffic. So just remember the motto we've provided our cracked-skull columnist: "No superstars? No problem!"

"This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming."

That's what commissioner David Stern had to say before fining the San Antonio Spurs a quarter of a million dollars because the best coach in the NBA, Gregg Popovich, rested his stars on a long road trip. Yes, that's right, resting your older players is an unacceptable decision in the eyes of Mr. Stern. But overstepping his bounds and vetoing a trade that both team GMs involved approved? Sure, why not, that happens all the time! But it's alright, the Hornets got the 1st pick in the draft after the trade got vetoed -- you know, the draft for which the choosing of the order takes place behind closed doors and isn't shown to anyone but people on the NBA payroll. Continue reading

Small Market Mondays #4: Laurels for Morals

Long ago in a distant land, Alex Arnon was watching a Kings/Suns preseason game when he became so furiously enraged at a Tyreke Evans double-teamed isolation jumper with 19 seconds on the shot clock that he hit his head, fainted, and woke up a delusional new man. To my understanding, he's now wholly ensconced in a bizarro world where some guy named Xenu created the Earth, Segways changed the very core of how people get around, and small markets make up the vast majority of NBA coverage and traffic. So just remember the motto we've provided our cracked-skull columnist: "No superstars? No problem!"

Good morning, dearest readers! After last week's installment of your favorite feature, we received a very encouraging e-mail which gave me a glimmer of hope in this ever dreadful, ever amoral world:

Hey Alex, huge fan here!

I've come upon a moral quandary while reading your work -- I'm a small market soul living in a big market town! While I'd like to blame my parents for conceiving me in such a soul-sucking, hope-trampling cesspool and making me a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers by pure proximity, I can't bring myself to it. I simply love them too much to do that... I guess that's some small market kindness shining through! Do you have any advice for me?

Sincerely, John H.

John, John, John... I am so happy you decided to write in to me because this is one of the very (very) few things I like to consider myself an expert on. Let me tell you the first thing about small markets - it doesn't matter where you live, it just matters how you live. You seem to be on a good start already with your kindness but you're going to have to prepare to rescind your Laker fandom and trade in your big market laurels for small market morals. The path to small markethood at heart is similar to that of the path to Nirvana - you must give up your material belongings and search your soul for the ethicality which defines the smaller markets. Only then can you truly forgive not only your parents but yourself as well, John. Godspeed. Continue reading