Sunday, March 23, 2008

It's true what they say...

J.A. Adande is a total moron. Sorry, total fucking moron. Don't worry folks, my absence hasn't changed me one iota. Fuck damn hell ass iota. I believe you'll find that expression in the heliocentric writings of Aristarchus of Samos. Well, you would, if they had survived to the present day. But hey, who doesn't know his only extant work is On the Sizes and Distances of the Sun and Moon, which actually has a geocentric view? I mean, come ON!!!

OK, now that I've definitely established it's really me and I haven't been replaced by some other equally anonymous blogger, we can get to business, which is: J.A. Adande is a total moron.

For an award as subjective as most valuable player, sometimes you need to rely less on statistical analysis and more on visceral feelings.

Throw that one up on the "Dunderheaded Anti-Stats Sentiments" Mount Rushmore, right next to Dusty Baker talking about base clogging, Joe Morgan explaining he hasn't read Moneyball because you have to have played the game to be able to say anything about it, and Teddy Roosevelt. Turns out TR hated stats with a vengeance. You know the real reason he almost banned football back in the early 1900s? Too many of the owners were reading Football Outsiders, it turns out.

Seriously, to say the best way to deal with a subjective award is to ignore stats and rely purely on something like feelings...fuck, this is going to get worse before it gets better. And not just "feelings", mind you...fucking visceral feelings. I'm pretty sure Adande picked Hostel II for best picture. Kids still like Hostel II, right? I'm still hip, yes?

The numbers say LeBron James should be the NBA's MVP. The standard definition of the best player on the best team leads you to Kevin Garnett. But there are times when the MVP award is captured in a moment. And no one does moments like Kobe Bryant.

I took a look at the numbers on Basketball Reference, and pretty much every stat points towards LeBron. He has scored the most point, got the highest Player Efficiency Rating, and when you throw in his assists and rebounds, well...all stats point toward LeBron, is all I'm saying. I think there's possibly room for more than just stats in this discussion, particularly because there are way more statistical gray areas in a fluid sport like basketball than there are in baseball. Not large enough to throw out all existing data, but enough to go a little beyond the stats in determining the MVP, which is, as Adande points out, a tad subjective to begin with. OK, that's me being reasonable. Now here's me being unreasonable...

MOMENTS?! That's your MVP argument, Adande? You believe Kobe Bryant is the best player in the league based on what can literally be defined as infinitesimal bits of time? The smallest sample size imaginable? I mean, a player might only average two minutes a game, but all of those two minutes are crazy blocks, clutch threes, and highlight dunks. That guy might as well be called Pure Moment, Adande, but is he the MVP? Put it another the bastard three-way child of Marcus Camby, Robert Horry, and Harold Miner the MVP? Didn't think so. Also, if any commenters would like to speculate on who or what such a child would be, do be my guest.

Harold Miner? Huh...what a dated reference.

He had two more of them Thursday night. Not the super-dramatic, clock-running-down, how-did-he-make-that-shot moments. Just the type of things MVPs do.

So these are moments that...aren't even really "moments" in the "this shit is exciting!" sense? They're just "moments" in the ultra-literal "time elapsed here" sense? Also, if you're so insistent that this is the stuff MVPs are made of - indeed, judging by the "just", you're arguing they're the foundation, the building blocks - shouldn't Kobe have had more than two of these apparently mundane MVP-ish moments in his game?

It started after a 3-pointer (and a free throw) by Deron Williams cut what had been a game-long cushy Los Angeles Lakers lead down to eight points with less than four minutes to go in the game.

I'm already memorizing this to tell it to my grandkids. I'm kidding, of course...there's no way in hell I'm ever procreating. And even if I did, I'm pretty sure the events of Children of Men would have kicked in by the time it came for my kids to spawn.

The Utah Jazz were playing zone defense. But either some of them didn't realize it or Kobe refused to acknowledge it, because you're not supposed to do what he did against a zone: He blew by his man in 3-point territory and got all the way to the basket for an uninterrupted dunk. (Too late, Andrei Kirilenko.)

So...he made a smart move and drove to the basket for a dunk? Good play and all - hell, maybe if I saw it, I'd upgrade it to "great"...but that's what makes Kobe an MVP? For goodness sake, Adande, if you're going to rely on anecdotal evidence, you should at least have the common decency to make it a good anecdote.

On the Jazz's next possession, they lost the ball and it wound up in Bryant's hands. These things have a way of happening to the best players, the same way the puck always seemed to find its way to Mario Lemieux's stick. Bryant started on a 3-on-1 fast break and pulled off a move straight from the old "Magic Johnson -- Always Showtime" video. Bryant jumped in the air, looked left at Sasha Vujacic, then dished the ball to Luke Walton on his right. Kirilenko spent the entire time with his back to the ball, without a clue as to what was going to happen next.

Oh those crazy, patehtic Europeans - why do they think they can be good at basketball? They should all go and play putzes!!! Ha ha, casual xenophobia is the best.

Just like that, the ballgame was decided.

It doesn't even sound like the Lakers scored a point. Or are they giving a seventy-point bonus for "crazy no look passes to Bill Walton's kid" these days? Because sure, then the ballgame probably would be decided.

The MVP race isn't quite as finalized.

Most definitely not. There's the three you already mentioned - LeBron, Kobe, and KG - and a fourth that you damn well better mention. I'll give you a chance to do so, Adande, but you better explore the other major legitimate candidate before all this is through. (I'll give you a hint - second in PER, first in win shares, tied for first in assists per game, keeping his team right up there in one of the toughest conference races ever seen...)

I had been leaning toward LeBron and his 31 points, eight rebounds and seven assists per game. But then the Cleveland Cavaliers dropped back-to-back games to the New Jersey Nets and the Washington Wizards, putting a serious dent in their chances of getting 50 victories.

Dude, if two losses significantly affects your chances of getting to fifty probably weren't going to win fifty anyway.

Now they have to win 11 of their last 13 games to get to a mark every MVP has reached after Moses Malone won the award with a 46-36 Houston Rockets team in 1982. (That doesn't include Karl Malone in the lockout-shortened 1999 season.)

They would have had to win 9 of their last 13 if they'd won both games. Still a kinda tall order. But honestly, what the fuck is the difference between a 51-win team and a 49-win team? Also, have you considered Cleveland's roster? I'd mention their schedule, but obviously they play all their games in the CBA, which for some strange reason has exchanged all its teams this year with those in the Eastern Conference. At least, I assume that's why all the teams suck so much; I haven't really been paying attention. Point is, that is the dumbest reason imaginable for saying LeBron is no longer a legit MVP candidate.

Then again, the Cavs might be closer to 50 wins if they hadn't lost all six games James missed with injuries. With him in the lineup, they beat the Boston Celtics and Lakers twice, and the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons.

You also could just cut out the whole fifty win fixation and just realize that that stat, small sample size though it may be, suggests just how crucial or, you know, valuable LeBron is to the Cavaliers.

It's the old with-and-without argument. You know, the same one that was used against Garnett after the Celtics went 7-2 while he was injured. But that doesn't take into account the tone Garnett set for this team back during summer workouts or the 30-4 start that turned potential into reality. Or the sweep of the Texas teams the Celtics just completed. Boston has the best record in the league, and don't dismiss it as the luck of playing in the Eastern Conference. It actually has a higher winning percentage against the West than it does against the East. we be blaming LeBron for not instilling the right attitude in the Cavs to keep winning when he's not around? I'm just trying to keep track of which bit of bullshit basketball wisdom I should be buying into here.

But you know what's missing from Garnett's highlight package? The big shots. When you loop Celtics video, you see clutch jumpers by Ray Allen and new addition Sam Cassell. As a Celtic described it to me earlier in the season, Garnett is happy to let others do the scoring. That frees him to focus on defense and rebounding. There's value to that, too. Someone who values those things is valuable.

This is like one of those essays a high schooler writes when he's not sure what his thesis is; he throws in all the evidence he can and tries to argue the other side but then sorta realizes the other side actually makes more sense, but since it's too late to rewrite the paper and he's got to finish in thirty minutes he just sort of keeps writing, hoping the teacher won't notice that he's actually arguing every side. Or something like that, except my analogy implies J.A. Adande can write at a high school level. Honestly, how is the fact that Kevin Garnett likes to rebound and play defense - you know, all the intangible shit that hacks like Adande should lap up - a knock against him?

But at some point, an MVP should decide games with the ball in his hands. He should master the moment.

Look, Adande, if you just want to write about how Kobe should be the MVP, just fucking do so. We all know you're a shameless homer anyway, so nobody cares. But why the hell do you have to be a total dick to Kevin Garnett? Why do you have to make up bullshit reasons why KG isn't awesome in order to somehow "prove" Kobe is the MVP?

LeBron has shown an increasing ability to do that. It started in Detroit in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals last year. The entire fourth quarter and overtime were an extended moment, like a movie director shooting a scene with one long camera shot (as seen in "Goodfellas" and "Kill Bill").

Yes, thank you for citing your sources. There's no way I'd ever be able to understand your incredibly lame metaphor without being reminded of where I might else have seen such a thing. Honestly, if you're going to go pop culture, at least do it Simmons-style, with the whole "Remember when Henry took Karen through that geographically unnecessary but impossibly cool trip through the kitchens in Goodfellas? Yeah...that was Kobe." Or you could just show your readers this...

What, you thought I was getting through a post without a random YouTube clip from an Orson Welles movie?

LeBron had a few more moments against the Pistons on Wednesday. He capped it off with a late 3-pointer, totally irrelevant to the game's outcome but completely germane to the burgeoning rivalry. It was his way of saying, "Take that with you. You haven't seen the last of me."

Or his way of saying, "This has scored my team three points. Since the object of a basketball game is to accumulate points, and three points it the most any player can score at one time, this is the most advantageous result possible for my team." Could have been that as well.

But Bryant's moments Thursday put the Lakers in first place in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

Hey, that sounds like basing your judgment on straight-up, honest-to-god winning. Where are the no-look passes to Luke Walton, Adande? WHERE ARE THE NO-LOOK PASSES!?

That's the difference … at this moment.

And that's it. All I really have left to say is...fuck you, Adande. Fuck you for writing an entire article about potential MVP candidates and not even MENTIONING Chris Paul. What a crock of shit...'s good to be back.

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