Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ethics are for Losers

It's the oldest cliche that history is written by the winners, but sports, whose very raison d'etre is to produce winners, are so perfect an example of this truism that it's worth dusting off for another look.

It's been tossed out there already that if the Knicks just started winning, all of their off-court transgressions would become trivial. This is absolutely true, but usually when people write this they mean it in the most cynical way possible. That is to say that everyone's sexual indiscretions and character flaws will go away, not that they should go away, and even then they mean will go away in the media, not will go away in the eyes of The Lord, or something like that.

But then there's Marc Berman, pushing things to new levels of amorality: "JUST WIN, ISIAH!"

Berman ups the ante on the popular sports religion that places winning above all. When he writes:

"Thomas certainly will be booed loudly during the home opener Sunday and he must realize the boos are not just about his sexual-harassment defeat in court, but 118-182. It is all intertwined."

It truly isn't intertwined to Berman. What he means is that he could care less about the sexual-harassment defeat and the host of other character issues facing Isiah. He wants to see some victories. Berman's bullying tone takes on the the air of a jeremiad, but his column is in service of The Desolate One, promoting the trivial to religious status.

Look, the book about my beloved '86 Mets is called "The Bad Guys Won!" The violently misogynistic Jailblazers, whose Portland fans literally bought billboard space to decry, would have surely received similarly cheeky reverence if they had only made good on their championship promise. A strategically timed broken foot from Shaq and we'd be reading "The Jailblazers Won!" at Barnes and Noble instead. Just ask Rasheed Wallace, the tattooed technical machine and poster boy for Portland's bad boy era, who rehabilitated his legend almost overnight by winning a championship with Detroit.

I ask my basketball team to hit threes and play defense, not emulate Gandhi. Not that I take pride in having a convicted sexual harasser on the bench. But seriously, Marc Berman, even if it is true that:

"Thomas has to realize the only place he needs to win now is on the basketball court and everything else will take care of itself."

Do we really have to celebrate it?
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Friday, October 26, 2007

Liveblogging Knicks-Nets

Musings on Knicks-Nets...until I head off to Brooklyn to party.

Good news for America's noblest convicted sex offender, Genarlow Wilson. After being jailed for two years he is finally free thanks to a supreme court decision. The man was convicted for having consensual oral sex at age 17 with a 15 year old, which was exactly as ridiculous a charge as it sounds, but thanks to our awful mandatory sentencing laws, the judge had no choice but to toss him in prison for years. The state Supreme Court finally noticed that this was cruel and unusual punishment thank god.

So the moral of the story is that some people are wrongly accused of sexual impropriety. There's a message a lot of the Knicks and Nets can identify with. At least three, by my count.

First Quarter:

Jeffries spinning inside and travels. It's like I can see it happen the second he touches the ball. You can't trust the guy with an open layup let alone a spin move.

Randolph sets high picks for Steph and Crawford. So far they aren't doing anything but I like the idea.

Just as background, Krstic has been off the scene for awhile because of the injury, but he seems to have the Knicks number. I saw him go something like 10 for 10 once, it was ridiculous. The defense doesn't make the effort to watch out for his perimeter shot, which is his deadliest weapon, and if they don't correct the problem he'll drive them crazy yet again.

There are Christmas ads on MSG. Isn't there some binding law that you have to wait until at least after Halloween to run these things? It was 75 degrees the other day, not exactly the holiday season.

Almost the end of the first and Steph looks terrific on both ends of the court.

Second Quarter

32-20...What happened to the offense this game? This seems like a good time to get Nate involved.

Fred Jones hits a three. I did not know he does such things.

44-38 Nets. Oh man, I've only been watching it a couple of weeks, but I am in LOVE with Randolph's jumper.

Nets have turned it over 12 times in the half and are somehow winning.

Nate goes uuuuuuup for the dunk after a David Lee block and then....clang. I can't exactly complain since I bitched him out the last game for not dunking on a fast break.

OK, it's almost the half. Off to get drunk.
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Isiah Thomas :(

I really don't know what to make of the absolute obsession that New York's beat writers have with Isiah Thomas' mood right now. Is it just wishful thinking that he's about to be fired? The guy just lost a sexual harassment lawsuit that will follow him the rest of his life, you expect him to be doing jumping jacks?

A Post article today on Eddy Curry predicting playoffs contained this "look at me!" detail in the middle, seemingly out of nowhere:

Isiah Thomas stared at the ground as he glumly answered questions.
And Marc Berman the other day threw this into one of his posts, again completely off the topic of the story at hand:
Isiah Thomas wouldn’t answer the question but he rarely answers questions nowadays – in as dark a mood with the media as I’ve ever seen
These are but two of many examples the last week or so. Personally, I could care less what Isiah's mood is so long as the Knicks are playing sufficient defense to win games, and they are for the week at least.

Still, there is a weird insiderness to the beat writers' constant harping on Isiah being a Gloomy Gus. They seem to be begging us, the reader, to catch onto some big old subtext that they won't come out and say but are surely talking about with each other. Isiah's going to be fired? David Stern's going to kick the Knicks' ass? Curry and Randolph are already a failure? Whatever it is, I know they have it in their head and wish they would just toss it out there rather than lead us along with this less-than-subtle trail of breadcrumbs.

The Daily News at least tries to give it some context:
The stress from the trial and its aftermath is starting to show on Thomas, whose mood in recent days has ranged anywhere from distracted to miserable.
But now that the point is made, they really can stop talking about it until there's something relevant that comes out of the discussion.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Undeadblogging Knicks-Phillies

It's not liveblogging because it already happened and it's not exactly a postgame since I'm watching the Knicks in 60 without knowing the result, but hey, let's give it a shot. This should be a regular event here, by the way.

Some rambling thoughts:

Jesus, can Fred Jones dunk. The last several years have been very kind to that man's legs. I guess all that time at the end of the bench kept them well preserved.

Speaking of that dunk, since when do the Knicks get easy fast breaks? If anything shows they're playing more defense, that's it. There were a couple of great runs to the basket against Boston the other day that began with steals, including that one where Nate Robinson had the whole lane to himself aaaaaand....made a layup. Don't get me wrong, it was a pretty layup, and the papers the next day used it to rave some more about Nate's newfound "maturity," but come on. I was fully expecting a 360-through-the-legs-F-U-to-James-White sexplosion on the rim. These are obviously the kinds of moments Nate sees every time he closes his eyes. So don't leave my basketballs blue, Nate.

It's the start of the third and Zach Randolph just beat the crap out of three Sixers to get a rebound. No whistle (and no basket came of it) but damn I loved to watch the effort.

Clyde says the Knicks are making people "hurry and worry" with their new commitment to defense. Is that a new one? Are there any Clyde-isms since 1999 about Knicks defense? He hasn't exactly had much reason to come up with them. The Knicks are lazing and grazing on defense? The Knicks are an ineffective collective in need of a corrective (from my perspective)?

Jeffries is about the worst ballhandler I have ever seen and he clearly loves to bring the ball up the court. It seems hard to believe, but when he came to New York part of the now discredited spin was that he was so versatile he could even play point guard. Remember when the Iraqis were supposed to greet us with flowers and candy? It was sort of like that.

HOLY SHIT did Nate Robinson just make a layup with a foul. I am doing everything I can not buy this new paper-thin conventional wisdom on Nate without some results first, but damn, the dude can make the spectacular common.

Knicks 77, Sixers 64. Jeffries taking that charge to stop a fast break was worth at least twenty dollars of his contract.

Nichols hits a three. The last we ever see? And there's another one. "Coach you may want to think about it," says the announcer. What he meant was CUT JEROME JAMES.

There's Nate dropping another open three. I've been saying it a long while, but if Nate's chief role is just hitting open threes off of Curry and Randolph double teams and he can do it reliably, he will be extremely valuable for that alone.

Isiah's royal blue dress shirt under that checkered dark gray suit is making me fall in love with him all over again. If George Bush looked that good things might be different between us. Maybe that's the logic behind Dana Perino.

Knicks 100, Sixers 80 and the Knicks still are playing hard.

Is this the end of Jared Jordan too? A white guard on the Knicks is a mindfuck of a concept. We've had our lumbering Dudleys, Knights, even Longleys, before, leading up to THE white man, David Lee, but a white little guy? There's just no precedent without going back to the 70s.

So another great game, another GREAT defensive game. Amazing what a couple of wins can do for a team's image after mass despair following that blowout last week. If they can just play with this kind of passion during the regular season, they'll make the playoffs easy. People are starting to look like they know their roles on offense, especially Nate.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007


The Expiring Contract exists to explore the awesome metaphorical power of politics to perfect mankind's understanding of what really matters in this world: professional basketball.

This blog is here because the author reads a ton of basketblogs already and wishes there were one more for him to stagger into for a fix. This blog is here because he hopes others feel the same way. This blog is here because the basketgods demand a sacrifice, and the author's time and dignity are the obvious choice.

To get started:

This is not zen and basketball (see FreeDarko) At least not as much.

This is not camp and basketball, (see YaySports or Deadspin.) At least not until I get my hands on a bootleg copy of Adobe Photoshop.

This is not stats and basketball. No qualifiers on that one. We are not here to solve the crisis on infinite Earths that is Hollinger versus Berri. I don't care if I'm down to two regular commenters -- if they're arguing over how the latest metaphysico-theologico-cosmolonigology proves Von Wafer is Oscar Robertson minus 40 minutes a game, I'm not going to be paying attention.

This blog is designed to harness the power of:

To maintain the author's professional sanity under:

And to restore his personal sanity under:

By reminding everyone of the things that matter most:

The author is a working journalist, an unabashedly experienced political blogger, and an abashedly devoted follower of the slow motion debasement on all things holy that is Knicks basketball. The Expiring Contract will draw upon all of his skills by name, ala Captain Planet, to cluster bomb your daily monotony with yet another useless blog to check in vain every half hour for an update. Read more