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.
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The State of The Small Market Union (Sponsored by The Memphis School of Modern Dance)
Usually I'm on the side of the small markets as all of you beautiful, amazing readers know. But frankly? I'm getting quite fed up with the one thing they've consistently been doing wrong -- stealing from big market teams. I understand the Robin Hood aspect of it, but theft is theft. I mean, c'mon -- the Grizzlies traded Pau Gasol (have you SEEN him play lately?) to the Lakers for now-top-3 big man Marc Gasol, the Jazz traded the moody Deron Williams to the Nets for Derrick Favors and 2 primo first round picks, the Cavs received the pick from the Clippers which became Kyrie Irving for Mo Williams, and the Blazers received the pick which became presumptive rookie of the year Damian Lillard from those silly Nets again! Come on, guys! Stealing is wrong, even when it's completely hilarious!
And now the Kings are trying to get in on the fleecing action. The latest news has them trying to get rid of that cantankerous malcontent center DeMarcus Cousins and under-sized big man Chuck Hayes for the Celtics' trio of Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, and Jason Terry. Excuse me, NBA champion Jason Terry. They'd be receiving a defensive superstar in the making in Bradley, a tricky guard who has been to the finals in Courtney Lee, and a bonafide NBA champion in Jason Terry. All for a guy who gets suspended for getting in verbal altercations with one of the best commentators in the league (and fellow small market maverick) Sean Elliot.
Nice try, Kings, but everyone has to play fair -- even when it comes to ripping those big market bullies off.
Sammy's Sack Racing Presents: "The King Of The League!" Jimmer Fredette MVP Watch
I'm not going to bore you with fancy-shmancy "statistics" today.
Instead, I implore you to watch this video of Jimmer's marriage and try to tell me that he shouldn't be MVP.
If you still have a shred of doubt about it, just stare at this .GIF for as long as it takes to convince you:
(Well-deserved hat-tip to the guys over at Sactown Royalty for linking me to this)
Small Market Mondays Game of the Night
Tonight the narratives of our two previous features come together in out game of the night -- the Memphis Grizzlies taking on the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento. You'll get to see what could perhaps be one of DeMarcus Cousins' last games before the Kings fleece a big market team in a trade for him, much like the Grizzlies did to the Lakers for Marc Gasol -- who should be guarding DMC for the majority of this game. You'll also get to see leading MVP candidate Jimmer Fredette unleash his arsenal of 3 pointers and hopefully (if there's any justice in the world) see him pull a similar move to the one above as a celebration. And, if you're really lucky? You'll get to see DeMarcus berate an announcer while Jimmer dougies on top of the announcer's table to add to the sting of DMC's words. And then they'll announce that they're going to live together Real World style and film a reality show of it.
Please, Small Market Allah, for the love of all that's holy make it happen.
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NOTES FROM THE EDITOR: Hey, all. Aaron here. My weeklong break ends tomorrow -- I'll be starting a new Tuesday/Thursday column. For the most part I'll just be going over whatever comes to mind, with a few consistent features becoming apparent as time goes by. This Tuesday? The Wizards are on the discussion table, because we know how much everyone thirsts for Wizards coverage. Going to discuss their performance on the year with a general focus on how they're so hilariously bad on offense, so "good" on defense, and so utterly luckless overall. See you then.