“Mama there goes that Meme!” is a new weekly column on HoopSpeak in which Beckley and Ethan will examine, discuss, and debate a popular media meme. Ethan brings a heightened cynicism having spent a year subjecting himself to near toxic levels of meme-exposure while working in the NBA PR office. Our goal will be to analyze not only the validity of the prevailing sentiment, whatever it may be, but to offer some witty insight into why certain storylines have become popular.
The first installation focuses on Carmelo Anthony and the recent trade buzz surrounding the Nugget’s franchise player: is he any good, and does anyone deserve a slap-bounty?
Beckley: Melo is the most recent NBA star to put himself on the trading block (link). He was the third leading scorer in the NBA at a 28.2/gm clip, so it that enough to warrant mass hysteria?
(Beckley Mason IM: I lobbed you a softball…)
Ethan: This isn’t a softball, it’s a beach ball, floating at my flubber bat. Of course Melo is overrated, of course his undeserved star status is the fuel and fodder for September speculation. If we pretend Anthony’s great, then perhaps the media can recapture some of that LEBRON FREE AGENCY 2010 link bait that they loved…before they hated James for having the audacity to make good on their hyping, which turned into link bait harping.
Now that the biggest free agency shakeup has passed, we still sense its presence like an amputated foot. Cut to spinning newspapers, blaring “Star wants out! League shakeup!” This wouldn’t irk me save for Anthony generating less than 6 in WP: Carmelo is not LeBron, his departure changes little. We’re bound to the MJ model, obsessed with perimeter scorers until that crazy day when Kevin Love’s shoes fly off the Foot Locker rack. Why would any team pay more than twice as much to get someone less than half as good as Gerald Wallace? I don’t know, but they will–with great enthusiasm. Overhyped jump shooter + Phantom LeBron foot + 2002 NCAA championship + Fond memories of Gerry Mcnamara = Overmeme.
Beckley: But Ethan, the dude is money in the clutch: 82games.com has shown that Melo is one of the best late game scorer in the League! He came in 4th in their crunch time scoring ratings for last season, and you know you can’t win in the NBA without an assassin. Without someone who will literally sneak up behind their own grandma with razor wire to win– a trait only illustrated by a willingness to jack up late game shots indiscriminate of defensive tactics faced. PS- (not that it matters to Adrian Wojnarowski, but LeBron is the best crunch time scorer in the NBA)
Ethan: True, without someone metaphorically willing to cruelly murder ugly children–simply for the crime of being ugly–a team is hopeless.You need that killerassassinstinct to avoid fates worse than being called “soft.” Speaking of clutch-crunch, why is that kind of scoring so revered? Aren’t all baskets created equal? I just gave you an abstract tangled slinky of a question, have fun unwinding it. If you fail, I’ll know that I’m The Alpha Dog.
Beckley: Luckily for me, your soggy-toothed bite is better than your melodramatic bark. Here’s my theory on clutch scoring: there is a common perception (I haven’t seen any data either way) that says NBA players only try in the fourth quarter. Each team makes runs back and forth until it comes down to who can make that final run to seal the game. When it comes to these moments, players like Carmelo, whose primary ability on the court is scoring one on one, are able to make that final push. A better question is why scoring is still generally so much more revered by smart people with knowledge of advanced metrics than, say, rebounds. Carmelo is an above average rebounder for a SF by the numbers, but he has a PF’s build and could easily average 8 boards a game. As David Thorpe, a man who loses more basketball knowledge with each beer than you or I will ever gain, attests Carmelo hasn’t shown the spirit requisite for greatness: he “takes plays off” defensively, and “could make a big difference” on the D Boards “if it mattered more to him.”
So he’s an elite scorer by any metric but pretty average in everything else. Doesn’t that still mean he’s really good?
(Beckley Mason IM: Do u like how I semi-answered ur question then sprinted away?)
Ethan: Is “Soggy Tooth” a pretentious micro brew? Is that what you imbibed as you swerved away from my question like a blindfolded Braylon Edwards?
Beckley: Yes, Soggy Tooth Porter is small-barrel-brewed in Portland, under a vintage bike shop that also sells organic records. As to your question: like Ben Roethlesberger in a bar bathroom, I gave it my best shot. Let’s see if we can come to some sort of conclusion here. I’m sensing I value Melo a bit more than you do, but that we both define a great player by his ability to impact the entire game. Melo simply doesn’t do this; so although he may be an assassin, he isn’t an alfadog.
Ethan: Like Mike Vick in cur-crammed kennel, I’ll give it my best shot. You spot Melo more room for improvement than my cruel heart allows. I have a non-passing issue with his passing. He’s like a dog in a neckbrace: Cranky, sluggish and wholly lacking in peripheral vision (clearly not ALPHA).The last time I saw him hit an open man, it was against the Knicks…and it was a slap…that he ran away from.
He can learn defense, he can’t learn vision (nobody seems to), and a GM would be inKahnpitent to trade Noah for him. At a certain point, Carmelo is who he is, and not who we want him to be. I much liked my pun run, I think Nas would agree that I murdered you on your own blog.
Guess that makes me this:
Beckley: Ethan, Ethan, Ethan… I let you into my (blogging) home, I create a graphic for your kelly green poop-laced rant, and how do you repay me? You try to make it my rhetorical obligation to defend Carmelo in your final comment as though I had been championing him for 400 words. I think most people have implicitly admitted his relatively low value by not decrying him the way they hated on LeBron James or Chris Paul. Those two are actually irreplaceable.
Still, I can’t believe you come at me like Jay ambushed Nas. I listened when you cried to me about your hilarious face, and you bring this stink in here? Like every young “revolutionary,” you’ve become that which you despise: a gifted, me-first writer who only looks out for his own metaphors, ignoring teammates who toil under the backboards of cohesive posting while you frolic about hoisting alliterative fade-aways.