To Fellow Lost Bloggers

I’m not really sure what to say in this space. And that has become a feeling both familiar and disorienting. You see–stupid as it sounds–the existence of basketball has come to justify my own existence. A lockout means, uh. Hm. Ummm… 

Thing is, men can over-define themselves by what they do. Even if what they do revolves around what other, taller, richer men do. Even if the taller, richer men are merely throwing a sphere towards a ring in a game of skill that often comes down to the luck imposed by shorter, older, whistle-tweeters. It is worth noting that the whistlers sport beige mesh uniforms that hug pectorals in such a way as to make muscles look mammary. Did I mention that the taller men purportedly represent cities they largely aren’t from, and that team supporters get no tangible benefit from a victory? Did I mention that New Orleans is in the Western Conference?

But I’m drawn to whatever this odd thing is and I write about whatever this odd thing is. I’m convinced the game’s intrinsic beauty is its redemption, and that our ability to share in its gifts is fandom’s redemption. A friend once said, “The ‘We Believe’ Warriors run was the most fun we had together in college.” That anonymous person I possibly invented is quite correct.

To me, those Warriors games don’t live in a memory vacuum. The basketball recollections arrive with a nostalgia twinge that comes with the clear vision of my old friends, celebrating together–back before we started drifting towards means, ends, and producing new human beings. Baron Davis did more than get us in one place. His pixelized wizardry elevated the gathering to an experience so joyous, that to share it felt profound. My friends still speak wistfully about that

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HoopSpeak Network

2011 CBA: Why winning the PR battle would be bad for the owners

Would you boycott Blake Griffin to spite Donald Sterling?

An important question with regards to the new CBA: does the truth matter?

Tim Donahue (no, not that guy), who has submitted a number of stellar posts full of new ideas regarding the CBA, penned another gem on that very subject today. More specifically, his well-articulated piece ponders why one side’s (the union’s) truth is (almost) universally accepted.

He has a point. Aside from the growing threat of a canceled NBA season, the toxic public posturing from both camps has unquestionably provided the most grief to the beleaguered NBA faithful. Yet fans have decidedly favored the players’ version of the conflict, though Mo Evans, Billy Hunter, et al haven’t been significantly more direct than their richer, less athletic counterparts.

But widespread displeasure with the NBA owners’ PR tactics, which border on outright lying, misses a fundamental reality: it’s in the NBA owners’ interest to lose the PR battle.

Everyone wins if NBA players continue to be loved.

Some people probably care about owners in that they are symbols of organizational competency and objectives, but the vast majority of NBA fans are fans of players. The degree of separation between NBA players and their fans is the lowest of any major sport. They can’t hide behind bulky pads or helmets or even pants or sleeves. We feel we know Kevin Durant in a way we’ll never feel about Adrian Peterson. The league has leveraged this unique intimacy by successfully marketing individual conflicts and personalities for the past twenty-five years.

Fans pay owners to see players, so owners have a financial stake in maintaining a positive perception of the players (hence the dress codes). It seems to me that the 1999 lockout hurt the public rep of the league not because

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Email exchange: Tom Ziller on the Kings, relocation, and secular churches

Tom Ziller is the NBA Editor at SB Nation as well as the editor of Sacramento Kings blog Sactown Royalty. He joined me for a discussion about his beloved Kings, the threat of relocation, and the use of public funds and government intervention to support private sports franchises.

Beckley: Well Tom, I’m not sure whether you’ve heard anything about this, but Sacramento is on the NBA city chopping block. As the Maloofs drunkenly wield the razor-sharp cleaver above their heads, I wonder if they can pull it together enough to bring down the blade and abruptly sever the city from the franchise (without first lopping off their own noggins). Because that’s what they want, right? To cut their losses and their connection to the league’s 21st smallest media market (by TV eyeballs).

I don’t mean to be cruel. Well, maybe a little. As you know my fanhood was irreparably maimed three years ago when, Clay Bennett– with assistance from David Stern (loving), from Howard Schultz (perhaps unwitting) and the City of Seattle– clear cut the 41 year old franchise leaving us all with dead roots rotting in our deep, dark, dank, souls. A little melodramatic? I’m the old guy in the corner with a peg leg and a belly full of salt water and moonshine, assuring you that you don’t want this life, son.

But as you may be finding out, it’s not up to you, the whipped fan. As a long-term decision, there’s no way the NBA will be a more prosperous league with a team in Oklahoma City rather than Seattle. Seattle has more, wealthier fans, a rich tradition, and me. The NBA could have bought the team to prevent it from moving, as they did in New Orleans, but my sob story is the result of

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HoopSpeak Live: Bethlehem Shoals Interview

Bethlehem Shoals is best known for founding Free Darko, but has written just about everywhere. On this week’s episode of HoopSpeak Live, he chatted with Beckley and Ethan about Bleacher Report and The Classical, and more. Watch below:

HoopSpeak Live airs Thursdays at 5PM Eastern right here on You can follow the show with the #hoopspeaklive hashtag, and you can follow Shoals at @freedarko.


HoopSpeak Live: NCAA money, Shaq, and Vick

Episode 15 of HoopSpeak Live featured interviews with J.E. Skeets and Bethlehem Shoals. There were some technical difficulties with the guests, but those interviews will be posted soon. First, here are the weekly segments starring our beloved hosts Beckley Mason, Ethan Sherwood Strauss, and Zach Harper:

HoopSpeak Live airs Thursdays at 5PM Eastern right here on You can follow the show with the #hoopspeaklive hashtag.


HoopSpeak Live, Episode 15

Today’s guests:

JE Skeets from The Score’s The Baskebetall Jones blog, podcast and video shorts

Bethlehem Shoals, freelance writer, and editor/contributor to The Bleacher Report and (the good lord willing) The Classical

To submit text questions: just sign in and ask away!

To video chat with us and our guests: Find a spot without too much background noise, sign in, fire up the web cam, and be sure to have your headphones (to eliminate echo)!

If you are having trouble viewing the cast on HoopSpeak, click here to watch it on Vokle.


Pat Summit, moms, and mortality

I doubt I’ll ever forget catching “The Stare.” The soul-scorching gaze was diluted by a thousand miles of cables and filtered through my TV screen, but there on “60 Minutes” was Pat Summitt, glaring straight into the camera and the core of my being.

It was then I understood the force of personality she carries. There would never be an issue of authority on a Pat Summitt team. She could coach any age, any gender. She could have Kobe Bryant slapping the floor at mid court in a pick-up game.

I imagined what it would be like to play for someone who could summon so much genuine feeling about basketball, about your team and about you as a player and person. I assume every Lady Vol who has donned a Tennessee uniform since 1974 wakes up every few months or so in a cold sweat, The Stare boring through her consciousness.

Pat Summitt is reasonably fit and at the top of her exceptionally demanding profession—a brilliant and tireless recruiter, teacher and motivator. Yesterday it was announced she has early onset dementia, a precursor to Alzheimer’s.

How could this be?

There’s a genetic component here: Summitt’s family has a history of the disease. Yet it hardly seems logical that the very embodiment of willpower could be claimed by this insidious illness. That inevitability creeps darkly into the equation for one who has shaped such a singular and important existence is deeply disturbing.

I’m not sure exactly why learning of Summitt’s condition so affected me. I typically have difficulty connecting with the distant tragedies of strangers or celebrities.

Summitt is certainly a stranger, but upon hearing the news I immediately think of my obsessively healthy mother who is almost the exact same age. Her short, highlighted hair is

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Welcome to the sports world. Kindly check your set at the door

Bill Raftery once said, "Onions!"

There used to be a time in which men were men.

I’m not quite sure what this entails, but I imagine it meant they were willing to die for their country, work on their automobiles and bring a lunch pail to work. We wanted them to be tough and confident. Men were supposed to provide for their families, protect their families, and make sure the front yard was mowed.

When Joe Namath guaranteed the Jets were going to win the Super Bowl and then backed it up by having his team achieve a higher score than their opponent by the time the game clock had expired, we all probably loved every second of it and prayed we too could pull off a gaudy fur coat. When Pat Riley guaranteed the Lakers were going to win it again the next year, we wanted to slick our hair back and hope our chest hair escaped our Armani shirts like Stephen Baldwin finding a way to freedom in the movie Fled.

We liked confidence so much, and even arrogance gave us a sense of pride. If we were in that position, we’d want to tell everybody we could and would accomplish the job. It was a manly thing to do.

Last year, LeBron James emerged from a fog machine with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, sat uncomfortably on bar stools in front of a cackling Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway, and answered Eric Reid’s leading request to discuss multiple championship aspirations. Let’s go back and look at it.

LeBron said they came together to win championships — not one, not two, etc., but multiple championships.

This legitimately sparked a fake sense of taking offense to such lofty goals. This team hadn’t played a single game

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Goodman League vs. Drew League wrap-up: notes from Northeast DC

John Wall finishes past JaVale McGee (Photo by Colin A.J. Murphy / The Severna Park Voice)

I was on hand Saturday night for the closest thing to NBA action since June. Rosters including Kevin Durant, John Wall, Brandon Jennings and James Harden squared off in a thoroughly entertaining struggle for streetball supremacy between the Goodman League (DC) and Drew League (LA). After four quarters, 269 points and about as many controversial foul calls, Goodman secured a one point victory. I wrote a recap of the major themes for ESPN, here’s the stuff I couldn’t squeeze in.

Lots and lots and lots of pictures from @Jose3030. Also check his timeline from the weekend for his favorites. Kevin Durant vs. James Harden and John Wall vs. Brandon Jennings were the most high profile (and usage rate) matchups, but DeMarcus Cousins’ battle with JaVale McGee was nearly as entertaining. Both big men are breathtaking in person, their graceful movements appear especially surreal with such giant men. McGee caught a couple alley-oops at least a couple feet above the rim, and snatched a John Wall floater clean out of the air. Cousins, however, impressed even more. If a typical box score was available, I’ve no doubt the Kings center would have easily tallied the highest plus-minus rating. He was a bully, blasting smaller players (including McGee) out of the way and using his long arms and soft hands to gather nearly every carom (nevermind that he finished the game with seven or eight fouls). Cousins does many things well– reliable shooting form, nifty passing, exquisite footwork near the rim–but the thing that really jutted out at me was his dexterity. He has incredibly skilled hands for such a young, humongous player. Kevin Durant is really tall, and really good. In the first

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HoopSpeak Live: Myles Brown Interview

Myles Brown writes for SLAM and A Wolf Among Wolves. He and Zach discussed the Wolves, then Ethan brought up LeBron James, Justin Timberlake + Jimmy Fallon, and more. Watch below:


HoopSpeak Live airs Thursdays at 5PM Eastern right here on You can follow the show with the #hoopspeaklive hashtag, and you can follow Mr. Brown at @mdotbrown.


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