Enes Kanter Contains Multitudes (via The Ringer)

enes3-0Kanter is many things: New York Knicks center, devout Muslim, star of #NBATwitter, and enemy of the Turkish state. For the moment though, he is like anyone else on this beach—just another person in paradise, awed by all that surrounds him. “This is unbelievable,” he says.

As we walk, staring out at the Pacific in a place that feels something like the edge of the world, Kanter begins talking about other faraway places that he has considered home. At 26 years old, Kanter is no longer connected to his country or his parents, who still live there. His continued criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has landed Kanter’s father in jail and made Kanter a target of harassment and social media threats on his life. “I don’t know if he’ll ever be able to go back to Turkey,” says Fetic. “Ever.” He is rootless, building makeshift communities everywhere his life and NBA career takes him.

He finds belonging in unlikely places. A living room in Pennsylvania. A locker room in Oklahoma. The entire state of Kentucky. All have served, at least temporarily, as a refuge, giving Kanter comfort for anywhere between a few hours and a few years before he inevitably goes searching, once again, for someplace else he might call home. … Read More

(via The Ringer)

(HT: ASW)

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Friday Roundup

  • R.I.P. Dick Trickle. He wasn’t Cole’s biological father, but it makes no difference, and he certainly wasn’t any kind of new school driver. As sure as rubbin’ is racin’, the hammer had to drop one final time for Trickle, but this isn’t how we expected it to happen. To the best of the Midwest:

Continue reading

Four thoughts on the Miami Heat’s 2012 NBA championship

1. It was just last Thursday that the Miami Heat claimed the 2012 NBA championship with a blowout win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, yet it feels like it could have been six months ago. Maybe that’s because I don’t follow the NBA that carefully, but I get this feeling with nearly every passing major sports championship, and I remember it even as a kid, so it isn’t a feature of a developing perspective on time with age. It could be that the media mediates our experience of sports more than we realize. Hyperanalysis of championship games and series builds so much anticipation and tension. By the morning after the clinching game, though, the championship really does feel like yesterday’s news. Absent a controversial happening during the game, the media typically offers little beyond a standard game breakdown and an interview with a player or coach before jumping right into previewing the next season.

2. The morning-after conversation after this championship was all about LeBron James. The media’s beat on James had already begun to shift once the Heat made it to the finals, and by the time Miami clinched, they had made a complete 180 on LeBron. Had LeBron really changed, though? In some ways, probably. We’re told he developed his post game this year. That’s definitely something material. But if material, identifiable, quantifiable basketball things were the focus, his winning a championship wasn’t the point of change. He wasn’t heralded as the greatest when he was having, by the numbers, the best season in basketball history earlier this year, or when he won his third regular season MVP award, only questioned more. The nexus of the widespread criticism seemed to be personal and stem from things like the artistic merit of The Decision and The Introduction, his prediction that he’ll win eight championships, his apparent laissez-faire attitude with respect to competitiveness and the fourth quarter, his receding hairline and associated coping method, his unwillingness to shake hands when he loses, his calling the mother of his children his sidekick, etc. etc. If some or all of these are the bases for your beefs with James, though, the new ring on his finger changes nothing. Drew Magary, as usual, cuts to the chase:

There’s never been any question that LeBron James is a great basketball player. And even when he was coming up short in the playoffs, haters like myself just used those failures as an easy excuse to pile on him further, because he’s a dipsh[–] and he deserved it. The fact that he’s won a championship doesn’t fundamentally alter his character in any way. That’s the great con of sports: the idea that winners win because they have character and losers lose because they don’t. If you think LeBron is a good guy now because he won a title, then you probably had no business thinking he was a bad guy to begin with, because the outcome of a sporting event says nothing about the person within.

I never decided if I am a “LeBron hater,” which probably means I’m not. The only thing that really bugged me was his unwillingness to shake hands after he lost that championship with Cleveland. I guess I’m more agnostic about him, and I don’t think he’s more likely to win eight championships now than he was a week ago or a year ago save for the mathematical fact that he now has one of those eight.  Keep reading…

The 2012 NBA finals: Resurrecting the Zombie Sonics allows attention-seeking bloggers to go all-in on LeBron James

The very elemental 2012 NBA finals tip off tonight between the Heat and Thunder, and while we don’t know which way Captain Planet’s going with this one, I did think everybody outside of South Beach was on board with cheering for Oklahoma City. Probably more accurately, I thought everybody was on board with rooting against LeBron James & co.

Now that King James is (again, admittedly) on the verge of winning his first NBA championship, the internet’s writing hands are rushing to join his camp. Whether they really are tired of harping on James for The Decision, the pep rally, and his promise of eight championships in Miami or they’re just following the old, adhere to one view for a long time and then publicly and suddenly change positions to get attention model, or maybe they see that James’ time is here and they want to be on the right side of history, everybody’s suddenly all-in on LeBron James.

How to accomplish this switch? Remind everybody saying OKC “did it the right way” that OKC did it the wrong way first, by ripping the franchise out of Seattle. Continue reading

“When they win, we win with them”: The Flaming Lips endorse the OKC Thunder with new fight song

It is at this point axiomatic that athletes want to be musicians and musicians want to be athletes. The crossover usually doesn’t go so well in practice, however. It’s one thing for Michael Jordan to play baseball– one has to assume there’s a baseline of athleticism that translates between sports, even if we find out it’s not nearly as much as we expected– but what is it that makes us think ShaqSerena, or Ron Artest can rap, or Prince can play basketball?

Nothing should. What we see more recently are approximations. Justin Bieber, 50 Cent, and Lil Wayne in Floyd Mayweather’s entourage for the Cotto fight.  Donald Driver winning Dancing With The Stars. Perhaps most curious is the musicians’ creation of fight songs for their favorite teams. The most famous example of this has to be Prince’s “Purple and Gold,” an unlistenable contribution to the Minnesota Vikings’ 2010 playoff efforts. (I’m not even going to link to it. Search at your own risk.) Who besides Charlie Murphy thought Prince knew anything at all about sports? Even fewer do after hearing “Purple and Gold.” That song should have served as notice that this is not the sort of thing ever to repeat.

Two years later, though, here we go again: the Oklahoma City Thunder are making a promising playoff run, and the Flaming Lips– Oklahoma-based and recent performers at the Hangout fest— want to root them on with a new fight song, written and recorded last night, entitled “Thunder Up: Racing For The Prize!!!” “Purple and Gold” set a pretty low bar for these things, and the Lips manage to best that effort with a song that is at least semi-danceable, includes a rough history of Oklahoma City (the city), and generally sounds like a generic tune from the digi/indie/electro-pop band.

What’s most immediately noticeable about these songs, even when they sound decent, is how overall awkward they are, as if these professional, successful musicians can do no better than any of us would in trying to write such a song.

Oh well. Thunder up?

Hollywood Nights: Generally, No Man is an Island

The Lakers’ season is over. With 2:41 left in the fourth quarter of game three of LA’s series against the Thunder in Oklahoma City, Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak knew it. TNT knew Mitch Kupchak knew it. And now you know TNT knew Mitch Kupchak knew it.

(HT: Grantland)

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Previously
Hollywood Nights: No World Peace in the Windy City
Hollywood (Disco) Nights: A Hero at the Forum

Hollywood Nights: A Magic Haiku

Hollywood Nights: Z-Bo and Bishop Don The Magic Juan