Your Annotated Smartphone Bathroom Reader for Friday, July 13th, 2012.
Avoid ladders and black cats. Especially on the john.
LeBron James is a Sack of Melons
The New York Times
What the hell did I just read? In an alternate path history seemingly straight out of a Monte Carlo simulation, Sam Anderson guides us through the worlds of quantum mechanics, Classics, and current events with all optimal paths involving LeBron James. We get it, he's awesome and misunderstood. This is LeBron James as a liberal arts college. If you can't stomach a physiognomical comparison of LeBron and Michael (what does this have to do with basketball?!), better pass on this most esoteric of offerings. However, we at the Diss appreciate the abstruse and give Sam the hat tip for a highly original piece that works. And if you think "highly original" is redundant, think: "infinity plus 1" and read this piece. What possessed someone to write something like this? Maybe it's because the "LeBron the Choke Artist" narrative no longer plays, or maybe it was inspired by the recent news of the Higgs Boson. Or maybe, Sam just went on a bender.
If LeBron James had been an ancient Greek Olympian, Plato would not have given us "the Trial of Socrates" because he would have been too busy writing "On Clutchness", of so Sam Anderson posits in a distinctly FreeDarko-esque piece. Anderson travels through time, space and his own imagination in an attempt to understand the myriad of contradictions that LeBron somehow embodies and glorifies. In the end, we are left with no fuller understanding of who James is, but rather, a mental image of Chris Bosh as "Squash, the dancing bear."
Mark Madsen Still Ruins EverythingDavid RothThe Classical
Former NBA dork Mark Madsen made waves earlier this week when news came out that Stanford's athletic department had banned Madsen from playing intramural basketball because he was once been a professional athlete, and in response, he petitioned and appealed the school's administration. According to Roth, who analyzes this "story" with care and consideration, Madsen is a figure worthy of our sympathy, due mostly due his sheer dorkiness, and his inability to know what is "right" and "wrong" not as a professional basketball player who earned about $15 million in a surprisingly long and successful career (for a slow white guy drafted last in 2000), but as a dork with no social skills. Roth offers this benediction: "May he someday represent, with no great distinction, a conservative California disctrict in the US House of Representatives for a term or two. Good luck, Mark! Just stop playing in intramural basketball games against graduate students who have in many cases never played basketball before, please." Sounds about right to me.
Is It Time to Just Give Up on Having a "True Center"?Kevin LincolnBuzzFeed
In this well-written and admirably researched piece sent to me by Diss stalwart Jordan Durlester, Kevin Lincoln asks one question: are centers really necessary in today's NBA? Lincoln uses the Nets-Magic trade that seemed likely earlier this week to investigate this query. Lincoln looks at the two centerpieces of that proposed swap -- Dwight Howard and Brook Lopez -- and uses advanced stats (primarily win share) to show the lack of influence a "good" center has on a team. Among Lincoln's more interesting assertions is that (1) based on the statistics, there are only two centers (Dwight and Bynum) that could even compare to some of the centers of the league's "Golden Age" of Dream, Shaq, D-Rob, etc., and (2) that the Magic could consider swapping Dwight for the best player possible, not just the best center. Because let's face it: despite his new ridiculous contract, Brook Lopez just isn't that good.
Why I Never Cared about Larry BirdScott McPhersonHardwood Paroxysm
Steve McPherson, a writer and musician from Minneapolis, and Massachusetts native admits a blasphemous fact: he never really cared about Larry Bird. This, of course, is sacrilegious, since McPherson is (1) from the East coast, and (2) a White dude. McPherson explores this oddity, and conducts a close examination into Bird's game. He asserts that at the time, as a white kid growing up in the Berkshires, black people represented an "oddity", whereas guys like Larry, John Stockton, and Jeff Hornacek looked like "doctors or lawyers", so he wasn't interested in what they had to do on the court. But with the help of retrospection (and YouTube), McPherson was able to see Bird's trickery and guile, and see what made him so special. This is a compelling look into the difference between "watching" a game, and "seeing" a game. McPherson points out that one often fails to "see" what is really important until years later. This is a good read from Hardwood Paroxysm.