Kawhi Leonard and the inevitability of the Spurs

O vanity! you are the lever by means of which Archimedes wished to lift the earth!

-- Mikhail Lermontov

I have a series of divisional previews coming down the pipe later this week -- rather simple stuff, a nice three-point summary of each team meant to be a pre-free-agency preview of where each team stands after last season and the draft. But this is my blog, and I feel as though being the editor allots me the creative freedom to write my own odd vanity pieces. So, on that note, here are some freeform thoughts on Kawhi Leonard.

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Basketball Vintages (Part II: The Dream Team)

Continuing our ongoing series with our own basketball-centric take on Joe Posnanski's brilliant trivial concept, we bring you today the second part of the series. While the first part covered players from the 60s and 70s, this part covers the majority of the Olympic Dream Team, that motley crew headlined by the most unlikely Olympic three point champion of all time (really, honest question: who led the Dream Team in 3-point percentage? Bet quite a lot you'll get the answer wrong -- check the end of this post for the big reveal) and other various stars of the mid 80s, born from 1956 to 1968. Get the popcorn -- we're in for a long haul, here. Continue reading

Basketball Vintages (Part I: The Golden Oldies)

"In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage."

--John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

"I think he was talking about basketball and birth years."

--Anonymous 

The venerable Joe Posnanski has once again come out with a masterpiece of readable sports trivia. What's his angle? Well, he takes every baseball birth year since 1931 (when Mantle, Mathews, Banks, and Mays were born), and grades that birth year's "vintage". It's a cute idea which immediately inspires a 58-bullet-point-list, each bullet point with multiple sections. Now, of course it's Pos' massive knowledge of the figures involved that really glues this together, but once he found the premise, the rest of the piece kind of wrote itself. So we're going to do the same for basketball - eventually. This is going to take a several part series, but we think the end result will be worth it, albeit absolutely trivial at its core. We'll start at 1934. Continue reading

Player Capsules #30-32: Armon Johnson, Marc Gasol, Peja Stojakovic

As one of our mainstay features, Aaron is writing posts highlighting every single player in the NBA. Role players, superstars, key cogs, or players who are barely as useful as ballboys -- none are exempt from the prying eyes of our readers. Check the index for a lowdown on order, intent, and all that jazz. Today's trio includes Armon Johnson, Marc Gasol, and Peja Stojakovic.

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Happy Days are Here Again (or: goodnight, sweet lockout)

Goodbye, lockout. Go ahead and leave us alone forever now. And go ahead and let the door hit you on the way out. Last night, not 30 minutes after I went to sleep, both sides came to an agreement and signed off on a settlement to end the litigation, complete the lockout, and bring us a season starting on December 25th. Dave Checketts' heart is smiling. Now, us here at the Gothic have been making the best of the lockout (see: our Lockout Coverage tag) and we'd like to think we did a good job of covering it. But let's not beat around the bush. Nobody seriously wants to cover the lockout for a year, and nobody seriously wants to read about the lockout for a year. That would've been awful.

Thank God it's over, and thank God that arena workers can at least get 33 games of guaranteed income starting in 30 days. And that the bars and eateries suffering from the lockout can get the patronage they need starting on Christmas Day, if they can just survive until then. In all the player/owner love, very few people have been mentioning them -- and that's a shame, because it's THESE people that we should be giving our love to right now. They're the ones who have done the majority of the suffering. And they're the ones who I'm most glad will reap the benefits. Regardless. The NBA hasn't released the full deal yet, but by tilling through a variety of sources, we can pull together just enough information to start commenting on the deal in hand. Once we get a full reveal of the new CBA, I'll do a long analysis of that working off my last analysis. But until then? Scraps will do. Click the jump as I examine these scraps and muse on their importance. Continue reading

Eye on the Classics: Where the Fox Knows Many Things...

"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."

--Isaiah Berlin, quoting Archilochus

Ray Allen is the ultimate hedgehog and Steve Nash is the ultimate fox, in Berlin's famous dichotomy of historical geniuses. This placement of Allen and Nash is true, but difficult to write about, largely because the argument is so straightforward if you understand both players (and also because Berlin's dichotomy is - as Berlin knew - flawed at its core). We're rolling with it, though, so as to uncover the mystery of chessboxing; that is, the essence of these two athletic geniuses. Nash is the fox and Ray is the hedgehog. Game on.

Anyway, in 2006, Nash and Allen both led their Suns and Sonics to a high-scoring, double-overtime classic. A dual for the ages. It's the kind of game that would've had highlights running on SportsCenter for weeks. That is, if it hadn't happened on the exact same night Kobe dropped 81 on the defenseless Raptors. Some based uploader (MrMagic2worthy) uploaded the whole thing to Youtube, and yes, it's more than 2 hours long, but I have to say: this is a must-see. Click the jump for the videos, and a whole wheelbarrow of words.

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Thanksgiving NBA: A Look Back

So, the NBA usually puts really crummy games on at Thanksgiving. Like, incredibly crummy. If you've been watching the NBA in the past decade, you know the score. This year, when we were all naive young souls who didn't know our season would be cancelled, the lineup was (I kid you not) the Hawks hosting the 76ers and the Clippers hosting the Hornets. Which may be bad, but they aren't any worse than previous years. In fact, they may be marginally better. The NBA only officially began the trend of nationally televised late games on Thanksgiving in 2009, but they still scheduled Thanksgiving games before. So let's take a look back at the last decade's NBA on Thanksgiving, because I'm still waiting for dinner and have little better to do. Continue reading

Player Capsules #27-29: Elliot Williams, Delonte West, Ben Wallace

As one of our mainstay features, Aaron is writing posts highlighting every single player in the NBA. Role players, superstars, key cogs, or players who are barely as useful as ballboys -- none are exempt from the prying eyes of our readers. Check the index for a lowdown on order, intent, and all that jazz. Today's trio includes Elliot Williams, Delonte West, and Ben Wallace.

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Juwan a Blog? #4: The Classical

For several years, the recently retired FreeDarko blog took a groundbreaking and individualistic perspective towards the NBA as a whole -- a perspective rooted as much in critical theory as in hip-hop.  FreeDarko's main strength was that it collected some of the best minds in basketball out there - both readers and writers - into a single, content-rich site.  Its main weakness was that it sometimes felt like the New York Times covering hip-hop: alright, we get it, you think this player is good at basketball and fun to watch...you don't have to abuse the word "profound", if you dig me.  But on the whole?  The collective added a lot to the community in so many ways, obvious and subtle.  The most tangible contributions were the group's two books, the first decent but uneven, the second a classic of sportswriting.  On the blog, the underratedly apt commenters and authors frequently expressed (or tried valiantly and interestingly to express) their best interpretations of what was going on in the Association and the new lenses they were bringing to bear on it.  In the final tally, FreeDarko brought us some of the great sports conversations of the last decade in basketball, and the collective has a lot of credibility.

Since the blog's retirement, many of FD's authors have stayed in touch and teamed up for spot projects after the main blog started to wane.  Their first really substantial project - called The Classical - is the first true sequel, though.  The closest analogue (though it pains me to make the comparison) is Grantland - in terms of their longform, firsthand, unorthodox takes on the great stories mainstream and forgotten.  The talent pool is quite different and the differences in content will become quite clear a couple of months from now, but for now, the comparison fits.  Also, Bill Simmons doesn't write for The Classical, generally a positive thing.  I digress.  Right now, The Classical is in preview mode.  If the content is representative (and it appears to be), then we have fodder for our fourth installment of "Juwan A Blog?".  In general, for this feature we'd like to use blogs that are well-established, but the FD group has enough credibility with the community that we're going to allow it.  And they even got quite a few new established authors that we can dig into immediately.  So, let's.

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The Two Towers and the Terrible Text

Tim and David in their younger, happier days.

The Two Towers and the Terrible Text

A story told by Tim Duncan (to Richard Jefferson)

Richard Jefferson: Hey, it's Tim Duncan! *Richard walks up behind him* Hey, Timbo Slice, my man!

Startled beyond reason, Tim Duncan drops his mango lassi.

Richard Jefferson: Uh... what the hell was that, Tim, are you alright?

Tim Duncan: I'm alright, Richard, but I was doing much better before you made me drop my mango lassi.

Richard Jefferson: I'm sorry about that. But why were you so startled you dropped it?

Tim Duncan: It's... it's a long story. I'm very rattled right now.

Richard Jefferson: Come on. I'll get you another, and you can tell me. You can talk to me, Tim.

Tim Duncan: Thanks, Richard.

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