Sunday, September 25, 2011
KEEP IT 100
The good, the bad & the beautiful game.
BY TIM DAVID HARVEY
They say there is no such thing as bad press. Yeah right, check the NBA headlines right now and then tell that to Javaris Crittenton. He faces a murder charge and his talented NBA career is most likely a wrap. Rewind a couple of calendar years and he and former Washington Wizard teammate Gilbert Arenas got into it with guns in the locker room over a game of cards. Now we all know how bad that got. What are young men in the league getting into these days?
What of Antoine Walker as well? His recent problems with the law involved gambling debts like Gilbert and DUI charges that we've heard about all too many times before. The conversation no longer is on reminiscing about the way he used to hit threes but about whether he can shimmy out of some potential jail time.
This seems to be the problem these days in the league. Log on to any basketball news wire and the per usual will be found. Kobe will have scored 30, Boston will have won, LeBron will have made things happen down the stretch and some coach will be on the firing line. More than often however there will be some negative news about some current or ex-player and their troubles with the law. Assaults, DUI's, drugs, and so on. The list goes on.
Now in this life we all have to take the good with the bad and the news is the medium that always presents us with both sides of this coin. With that being said however isn't everyone tired of seeing the same old news like this on a regular basis? It is important to know what's going on. It helps us to be aware and we can all take something away from each story we read and learn from it. Then again years past the news of Gilbert and Javaris' situation was on a constant loop it takes the focus off of basketball. When did it stop being about the game? The primary reason we are invested in this sport. Any casual observer or overseas fan struggling to keep up with limited amounts of basketball coverage won't have much of a clue about how any of the recent games have played out, and this isn't because of the lockout. It's because of all the other bull****.
Legal matters surrounding the league do demand attention but the press should still focus more coverage on celebrating the guys that just get down to business and avoid bad press. The attention should be shifted more to guys who are as ‘all ball’ as a Kobe Bryant foul at the Staples Centre. Speaking of Kobe, look at him for example. He has had his legal problems in the past and on top of that received bad press for his public feuds with various players. Today however tells a different story. He makes the news for the right reasons and his play and his relationships with his teammates are better for it. Take a look at what all that positivity brought him, a championship.
The rest of his Lakers squad echo this idea. Star players like Odom, Gasol and Bynum fill out the stat sheets and not the rap sheets. They seem to avoid bad press, especially taking into account these guys ball in the entertainment frenzied city of Los Angeles and one of them is even married to a Kardashian as well. Bar an ill-advised Spanish team photo you couldn't find a speck of dirt on these Angelinos. It’s because they just get down to what matters, the game itself. They leave all the other stuff behind.
Everyone thought that was about to change when the Lake show added Ron Artest, the All-Star with the biggest blot on the NBA's permanent record. Take a look at Ron-Ron today though however and he's focused like his Los Angeles co-stars. The strange antics are still there however, such as a couple of years ago appearing on the Jimmy Kimmel show decked in only his draws or injuring himself on Christmas Day by falling down the stairs (Easy on that egg nog now). Or of course most recently 'Dancing With The Stars' and standing up for comedy. Apart from that however everything is kosher. If Arenas is offered the chance to redeem himself in this league he would do good to look at Artest for an example (Try saying that a couple of years back). Ron is in the good books right now and looking at a potential first ring. To do this he didn't have to compromise himself either, he just had to keep out of trouble.
Is this exciting? Well to some people it isn't. Some people just love controversy and the media feeds in to this. In some respects controversy keeps things going and interesting but in the grand scheme of things it's unnecessary. Yes it can serve as a conversation piece to relieve boredom at the office or on the playground the following day but so can a half-court heave or the latest output from Brandon Jennings. These are true basketball highlights. Sport should be in the back pages of a newspaper, not the front.
Some of these legal matters are problems that many people have (Alcoholism, gambling etc). These aren't matters to be glossed over; these are problems that need solution. Gambling is an addiction, Jordan loved it and top-flight players like Arenas earn so much that it must feel like they can gamble with an unlimited reserve. NBA players are celebrities and some celebrities love living the high life with clubbing, alcohol and money all on tap. When this life gets too much however and the private becomes public the situation then becomes much worse. In analysing the situations arisen from the various legal or personal troubles that occur it seems that the scandal rather than the solution is what is sought after the most. This is because scandal sells, especially with celebrities. People seem to care less about the decent numbers Michael Beasley is putting up this season and more about what was going on in his head a few Summers back. Is that right?
There are far more players in this league putting in work then playing around too much yet the focus is rarely on these guys. What a great team the Portland Trail Blazers are these days but what a shame it is that they made the headlines more when they were dubbed the 'Jail Blazers'. Surely hearing about players smoking weed isn't half as exciting as hearing about Brandon Roy smoking opponents?
What happened to appreciating old-fashioned, decent, blue collar hard work? Sure there are a lot of things happening off court right now but what about the real action on court? The reason the fans follow these players, the real reason they were ever worthy of this attention in the first place. When fans grew up watching basketball they were only concerned with Michael Jordan's loyalty to the game not his extra marital affairs.
Sure the cream always rises to the top and true talent will always be recognised and celebrated, but yet it still feels like more coverage is given to the negative downfalls of a player than their positive achievements. In this league superstars are players who leave it all on the floor and it should be left at that. This isn't reality T.V. and Perez Hilton doesn't blog for the NBA. The next time the life and times of Gilbert Arenas et al is brought up around the office why not change the subject to real basketball news? Like the countless number of role players who put in 100% each night to little recognition outside their teams fan base. Gilbert's a top tier player who deserves recognition even in turbulent times but there are a lot of other players outside the spotlight who deserve coverage too.
There are many examples of this but the best has to be Tim Duncan. What great talent, more than 20 and 10 over a dozen years. The best power forward ever, period. Sure he is respected deeply as one of the elite but often times when other superstars are considered in discussion he's lower down on the pecking order. OK so his trademark bank-shot doesn't make posters and he isn't at the top of the first returns of All-Star votes but why? Just because he’s more about reliability then excitement? His status, his play and the results can not be denied, even with his better years in the rear-view. He is the prototype of an NBA big man; he is the model of consistency. Instead of making the headlines for his off court antics he climbs the record books for his prolific endeavours on the court. So what if that isn't gangster, it's real. People are often too quick to bring a player with troubles down rather then put the ones that deserve recognition on a pedestal.
So therefore although just like Javaris we shouldn’t treat his current situation lightly sometimes all the talk and news in the league is too heavily focused on the wrong thing. Javaris has turned himself in and until a verdict is passed not much else will really happen. This is for the court of law, so let's focus our basketball talk back on our court. So whilst waiting on this isn’t it time that people focused on other things in the league? Why not focus on the finer things in basketball? That’s what this game we all love really is about.