A friend of mine came to me with a dilemma this weekend, and I’m going to share it with all of you. This friend (we’ll call him Marcelo) is a big basketball fan and wants to purchase a jersey that says as much. The problem is that he’s just not certain what to buy. See, hoops merch is loaded stuff. With baseball or football uniforms, you’re looking at the team emblem more than the player name. A Tom Brady Jersey is roughly equal to a Tedy Bruschi jersey in the grand scheme of things. They both show that you’re a Patriots fan and that you have some disposable income to dispose of. If you’re in a Johnny Bench jersey, it means that you’re a Reds fan and likely have been for a while. Fairly straightforward.
But basketball is a different kind of thing. It’s a game of individuals. With five per side on the hardwood, individual players have a tremendous impact on the game. And since they don’t wear hats, pads, face cages, or mouth guards, you can see their face and hear their smack talk. Of all the four major sports, basketball is the one that lends itself the most to fans learning what kind of personality an athlete has based on the game they play. You can see the Charge Of The Light Brigade-style determination in Kevin Garnett’s eyes. You can muse over the inhuman level of calm on Chris Paul’s face. You can gaze in fear at the “WHAT, MAN! I GOT NOTHING TO LOSE!!!” rage painted on Rasheed Wallace. You’re more informed about what’s going on with these men than you are with what’s happening behind Joe Mauer’s catcher’s mask.
Combine that “game of individuals” mentality with the “you ain’t nothing if you don’t play at Rucker” grittiness that permeates the game and you can get a sense of why the average suburban youth (or in Marcelo’s case, the average lawyer from Guam) can experience difficulty in choosing the perfect jersey.
So here’s a bit of a guide on what to look for in a jersey. After all, you should feel as comfortable wearing it as the pro’s do. Read More
I’ve got a real hard time with basketball.
All the rage in Boston today is over the late night Kevin Garnett trade. And I’m certainly excited for Boston to get him – devil knows the Celtics could use anything up to and including Boston College-level point shaving to get a winning season again.
But apparently, you can get one player in exchange for “five players and two draft picks” and still come out ahead on the deal.
This makes no sense to me. It doesn’t even read right. Imagine Bill Belichick trading eleven players and the second and third round draft picks in exchange for Carson Palmer. Imagine Billy Beane trading his first, second and third basemen for Tom Gorzelanny.
I know, I know, apples and oranges. But as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I have a hard time with basketball because I don’t like the inordinate influence one player has on an entire team. It’s not about the billion-dollar superstar or the sneaker deal. It’s about teamwork! It’s about ball handling! It’s about the fundamentals! Gene Hackman doesn’t give a damn whether Jimmy plays or not!
The level of despair that Boston sports fans exuded after the Celtics drew fifth in the draft lottery reached, well, truly Bostonian proportions. At that point we were just waiting out next season – Paul Pierce listlessly dribbling down the court, waiting for the shot clock to expire before bouncing the ball off his shoe and weeping – until next season, when maybe the air-driven path of a Ping Pong ball would favor us again. Now, suddenly, with the addition of a guy from the Timberwolves (?!?) to our line-up, SI puts us at third in the East. “Instant contenders.” The hell?
I’d like to be proven wrong, mostly because I like the spirit that comes from living in a four sport city. And Kevin Garnett’s a nice enough guy – just look at him! – that I’ll have no problem rooting for him. But somebody engraved in my brain at an early age that it takes more than one man to win a championship, and I’ll always be skeptical of the exception.
I woke up this morning to a busy sports world. Or, rather, a sports world that is about to become very busy. It seems as if a hundred different, sports-important things are about to take place over the next 24 hours. I’m going to look at what I’m seeing at the Top Four.
-Barry Bonds is about to tie Hank Aaron.
-Alex Rodriguez is about to hit 500.
-One of the Michael Vick “co-conspirators” is about to enter a plea (and assuredly testify against Vick).
-Sources are reporting that a Kevin Garnett deal is imminent (WEEI reports it has already happened).
Heck of a way to start the work week, really. Of those four potentially huge “unfolding over the next day” stories, only one of them has some positives ramifications. Bonds is about to tie to most hallowed record in sports and there are doubts whether the commissioner of baseball will even be there. Football’s most athletically gifted quarterback is having his camp start to turn on him. And one of basketball’s most historically significant teams is about to demolish it’s future for a two year championship window. Looks like A-rod will be shouldering all of the positive sports energy of this early week.
That is, unless Jose Canseco’s hard-hitting investigation has anything to say about it.
If we fold the implied steroid allegations into the A-rod story, that means that four of the top stories in sports right this second are negative or somehow tainted. I’m not going to throw up my hands and lament the death of purity – it’s not even 10 a.m. yet for me. But this is something that makes me stop for a second and shrug.
It’s Monday morning, and we have to take some bitter coffee with our milk and sugar.