HOOP LOGIC with GOD FORBID’S DOC COYLE: LET’S ALL CHILL OUT!
With the post-season just weeks away, NBA gameplay gains a cacophonous roar. Every tip, deflection, and turnover matters. Within each breakaway lies the seeds of hard fouls and flared tempers. A twisted ankle could destroy a team’s championship bid. So we say fuck March Madness — this is NBAnarchy.
It’s hard to keep up, but join MetalSucks’ Hoop Logic with God Forbid guitarist/Knicks fan Doc Coyle and ne’er will you be lost in the din. This week, just try to keep your boobz and ballz calm as Doc boldly launches himself beyond Xs and Os and into the psychology of being traded, the boner battles inside the Lakers, the super-fail of the Think B4 You Speak campaign, and the latest altitude drop for Knicks fans.
ITEM 1 NEW YORK KNICKS: THE RIDE
What an emotional rollercoaster for Knicks fans: Last season, the Raymond Felton-Amar’e Stoudemire pick-and-roll game yielded the most Knicks success in a decade; then the Felton-Stoudemire tandem was dismantled in a February trade for Carmelo Anthony, and the Knicks limped to a crappy conclusion of a once-promising season. Despite the additions of G Baron Davis and awesome C Tyson Chandler, crappiness continued this season until Lin-sanity, in which the hobbled Knicks were rescued by the unlikely heroics of the NBA’s only Asian-American and only Harvard alum; then, the return of injured Carmelo Anthony coincided with a six-game losing streak.
But the departure of head Coach Mike D’Antoni was followed by a run of nine wins in 11 games; but now, as the Knicks cling to a small lead over the Milwaukee Bucks for the final Eastern conference playoff spot, it’s announced that F Amar’e Stoudemire is out for four weeks (back) and G Jeremy Lin for six weeks (knee surgery). Holy shit, Doc — some teams can’t catch a break; the Knicks can’t stop catching breaks, good and bad! Are you freaking out? Should the Knicks organization start including Xanax with ticket sales?
DOC: This Knicks team has had the most turbulent season I have ever heard of, and although there have been some stretches of terrible basketball, the ebb and flow of the season has been very exciting. You certainly can’t accuse this team of being boring.
At this moment, I think the Knicks have probably a 50-50 chance of making the playoffs. These injuries could not have come at a worse time. The loss of Lin is much more damaging than that of Stoudemire because You can make a case that Carmelo Anthony plays better without the latter; his scoring usually increases in Stoudemire’s absence. You can make a case also that the Knicks’ defense will be much improved once Jarred Jefferies (knee) returns from injury next week; Stoudemire is the team’s worst defender by far.
But by losing Lin, the Knicks don’t have their best penetrator and distributor — plus the one thing all teams need late in the season: young legs. Now carrying the load at point guard is Baron Davis, who battles lingering back and hamstring injuries, questionable conditioning, and his outside-shooting touch — and is roughly as turnover-prone as Lin. Sure, Lin is not a great defender, but improved under Woodson and at least he has quickness. Davis could get eaten alive by younger, quicker guards.
The biggest concern is the timing of these injuries: The final games of the Knicks’ schedule is extremely tough, while the Bucks close the season against weaker teams. The Knicks play the Magic, the Bulls (back-to-back), the Heat, the Celtics, Bucks, Hawks, and Clippers in the final stretch. To make the playoffs, the Knicks will have to at very least split these games and sweep the contests against the weaker opponents. If the Knicks do squeeze into the playoffs, they will need an effective Amar’e Stoudemire on the court, especially if they face the Bulls or Heat, which seems inevitable at this point.
So, it has been a crazy year, but it makes things more fun that the Knicks are playing hard, and that every game counts. There’s more of an underdog element there in spite of their pre-season hype and star power. Their season actually mirrors the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants season to this point, which obviously ended in storybook fashion. I will sound like an idiot if they don’t make the playoffs, but this is going to be fun either way.
ITEM 2 ODOM!? THEY DAMN NEAR KILLED HIM!!
Last week, F Lamar Odom finally began to show signs of life after a despairingly crappy first three months with the Dallas Mavericks. Doc, your awesome band God Forbid has had experience with an emotionally-charged change in personnel, so can you explain how a guy like Odom might return to excellence after his unhappy departure from the Lakers?
DOC: Without inside knowledge of what’s going on with Lamar Odom, it is very difficult to get a good read on this situation. I remember hearing an Odom interview with ESPN analyst and talk show host Stephen A. Smith right after he thought he was traded to New Orleans (in the deal for Chris Paul that was later voided), and he sounded like a broken, devastated man. He was crushed.
I don’t think people really understand how difficult it can be to get traded. Part of me thinks that it is somewhat inhumane, and for some reason I draw a correlation between professional sports and a very highly-paid slave trade. I know bringing up those type of issues can be dicey, but I don’t mean it in a way to race-bait or make it racial; trades happen in most professional team sports, even those that are not predominantly black like the NBA. It’s just that there isn’t much precedent in any professional field outside of the military where people can be shipped anywhere. The practice of player-trading treats these people like expendable commodities — not like people.
I suppose it could carry the same weight as being divorced or kicked out of a band or anything that can result in a kind of abandonment. Head-shrinking from a distance seems foolish, but I suppose Odom is dealing with some of these issues, and it’s affected his performance. I hope he can learn to move on. It’s something we all have to do. We all deal with loss or change that is perceived as negative at first. It’s a cliché, but if you can make it through the tough part, you always come out a stronger, wiser person. I feel for him, and wish him well. He’s a good guy.
ITEM 3 BROWN’S BENCH FOR BRYANT AND BYNUM
It was perceived last week that first-year Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown had removed megastar G Kobe Bryant and C Andrew Bynum, respectively, from close games at vital times. Disregarding Brown’s intention — which we may never know — how do you view these moves? Do you agree that Bryant’s love of low-percentage shots often stifles the potent Lakers offense, and that Bynum should never attempt three-point shots — least of all against a small team that’s defenseless against his post game?
DOC: Andrew Bynum better pray to the basketball gods that his knees hold up for at least another five or so years, because he is digging himself a reservoir of bad mojo with his horrific attitude. True, Bynum is having a dominant, breakout season. We are finally seeing him fulfill the potential that was touted for years, and he has become the second-best center in the NBA — behind Dwight Howard — and has a better skill-set on offense than even Howard.
The problem is that he is feeling himself a little too much. He has hobbled and coasted to two rings on the backs of Kobe and former coach Phil Jackson, and feels that he has carte blanche to do whatever the fuck he wants because he made one All-Star game. This smells eerily like Stephon Marbury-type of behavior. Bynum needs to grow up and get it together, because a megalomaniacal asshole is only tolerated when producing at a very high level.
Kobe, on the other hand, has earned the right to take “bad” shots. His resume is that of one of the top five or ten players to ever play basketball. In his 16th season, Kobe leads the NBA in scoring, and can still do things that only a few other guys in the league can. He is shooting around 43%, which is low for him, but Kobe is a very smart player. He has a tendency to play hero-ball when he feels like there is no one else to do it, and much of the time, he is right to: The Lakers bench has been summarily decimated since their last championship in 2010 (much like their counterpart in the East, the Celtics). They lost key contributors Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza, and Shannon Brown. Left with marginal replacements like Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy, Kobe has done what he deemed necessary to keep the Lakers afloat. Sometimes it’s to the detriment to the team, but if anyone deserves the leeway, it’s Kobe Bryant.
What we’re really seeing with the Lakers is coach Mike Brown doing his best to earn this team’s respect. Few people that can replace Phil Jackson without seeming unimpressive by comparison. Kobe, Pau, and Bynum have rings; Mike Brown doesn’t. He has to prove himself to them, not the other way around. This can be a very difficult proposition, especially with an Alpha dog like Kobe. I’ve never been a big fan of Mike Brown for anything but his defensive acumen. He has to be like a prison inmate: Beat up the biggest guy on the first day to show everyone he’s not a punk. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Maybe that was the significance of benching his two stars.
ITEM 4 THINK B4 YOU SPEAK ABOUT THINKING B4 YOU SPEAK
NBA game TV viewers are probably familiar with a recent anti-hate speech spot called Think B4 You Speak (above). Aimed at young ballers, the spot is right on-target at first, but ends up sailing wide of the mark: Its young, relatable trash-talkers are joined by Suns forwards Grant Hill and Jared Dudley (at :16), two of the NBA’s least “cool” players whom no kid would hesitate to defy. And they describe insensitive use of the word “gay” as “not creative” and “offensive to gay people”; that first part is a head-scratcher, and the second should probably be expanded to “offensive to all people.” And if we really nitpick, Hill’s use of the words “dumb” and “stupid” — the former once a common synonym for “mute” and the latter for ”mentally dim” — sends a mixed message about acceptable language. Doc, is this a public-service air ball? Shall you and I launch a better campaign called “Don’t Be An Asshole When Talking Shit”?
DOC: I may piss some people off with my view on this issue, so I apologize in advance if I offend anyone. I am a bit torn on using the word “gay” to describe something as being corny or unfavorable.
First off, I can totally understand how a gay person would not want their sexual preference to be a synonym for “wackness.” I do have empathy. I was politely chastised by a gay woman friend of mine for speaking this way a couple years ago. This was the first time it dawned on me that it was perhaps offensive to gay people. At first, I was embarrassed because I felt oblivious. But than after thinking about it for a while, I realized the reason I was so oblivious was that I never associated calling a Good Charlotte song “gay” with actual gay people. I suppose I’m compartmentalizing, but it’s true. As far as I was concerned, it was two different usages for the same word.
And I know that it’s childish to speak that way, but the truth is I am extremely anti-homophobia. To hear the word “faggot” makes me sick to my stomach, because it is usually coupled with venomous intent. I’ve had a dozen conversations pointing out the ignorance and simple-mindedness of this language to overcompensating, insecure male friends of mine who make shitty homophobic comments or slurs. My issue is with intent, not words.
What bothers me about the Think B4 You Speak campaign is activist political correctness and the constant policing of language. I am a huge fan of George Carlin. I consider the man to be the preeminent philosopher and social commentator of our time, although he is no longer with us. One of his main themes is society’s continued progression to euphemistic language that removes the balls and truth from words. Using the word “gay” to describe a crappy, romantic comedy is not my Alamo, so I will more than likely follow the herd and refrain from using it to be a considerate citizen.
But our different social groups — black, white, gay, Muslim, atheist, republican, liberal, disabled, fat, skinny, ugly, stupid, or whomever group you represent — need to stop sitting around waiting to be offended. I thought that Don Imus shit was actually funny, and I generally think he’s corny as hell. Rush Limbaugh is one of the worst humans on the planet, but he shouldn’t have to be worried about being fired for saying stupid, crazy shit. As for Tracy Morgan … um … well, maybe he went over the line, hehe.
I just wish that people weren’t so sensitive and eager to nail themselves to a cross as a result of a perceived injustice. If everyone cries wolf, we won’t know real offense or injustice when it actually occurs. I understand that vernacular evolves with time, but spots like Think B4 You Speak seem forced, heavy-handed, and to be frank, they have become annoying. I can’t imagine there were messages on TV every five minutes in the ’60s explaining that Colored people would like to be called Negroes — then one in the ’70s saying that Negroes would like to be called Black, and then one in the ’80s saying that Black people prefer the term African-American. In 2012, it’s ”Oh, hold that. Can you please call us Black again?” I’m sure “Pigment-Enriched Humans” is next.
All I’m saying is times will change if you just let them. Let’s all chill out and watch some ball! Playoffs soon baby!!!!
-Doc Coyle, God Forbid
Strike back against the diabolical Doc Coyle for slurring uglies and fatties @Doc4bid. But first, get God Forbid’s ripping new album Equilibrium here then find a nearby stop of their tour with Overkill, Suidakra, and Diamond Plate here.