Wednesday, December 16, 2009

All I Want for the NBA

I'm going to spend most of this space talking about my "Christmas" wishes for the NBA and for basketball in general. I don't know as much about the NBA as I'd like to think, but I certainly love it enough, so maybe that will be conveyed in some manner.

First, however, I'd like to post a little follow up to my Self Portrait review from last week. This comes from the Wikipedia entry on Self Portrait, it is a comment that Bob Dylan made about the lead up to his making of the album and to the actual theory behind the album itself:

"At the time, I was in Woodstock, and I was getting a great degree of
notoriety for doing nothing. Then I had that motorcycle accident [in
1966], which put me out of commission. Then, when I woke up and caught my senses, I realized that I was workin' for all these leeches. And I didn't wanna do that. Plus, I had a family, and I just wanted to see my kids.

I'd also seen that I was representing all these things that I didn't know anything about. Like I was supposed to be on acid. It was all storm-the-embassy kind of stuff — Abbie Hoffman in the streets — and they sorta figured me as the kingpin of all that. I said, 'Wait a minute, I'm just a musician. So my songs are about this and that. So what?' But people need a leader. People need a leader more than a leader needs people, really. I mean, anybody can step up and be a
leader, if he's got the people there that want one. I didn't want that, though.

But then came the big news about Woodstock, about musicians goin' up there, and it was like a wave of insanity breakin' loose around the house day and night. You'd come in the house and find people there, people comin' through the woods, at all hours of the day and night, knockin' on your door. It was really dark and depressing. And there was no way to respond to all this, you know? It was as if they were suckin' your very blood out. I said, 'Now wait, these people can't be my fans. They just can't be.' And they kept comin'. We had to get out of there.

This was just about the time of that Woodstock festival, which was the sum total of all this bullshit. And it seemed to have something to do with me, this Woodstock Nation, and everything it represented. So we couldn't breathe. I couldn't get any space for myself and my family, and there was no help, nowhere. I got very resentful about the whole thing, and we got outta there.

We moved to New York. Lookin' back, it really was a stupid thing to do. But there was a house available on MacDougal Street, and I always remembered that as a nice place. So I just bought this house, sight unseen. But it wasn't the same when we got back. The Woodstock Nation
had overtaken MacDougal Street also. There'd be crowds outside my house. And I said, 'Well, fuck it. I wish these people would just forget about me. I wanna do something they can't possibly like, they can't relate to. They'll see it, and they'll listen, and they'll say,
'Well, let's get on to the next person. He ain't sayin' it no more. He ain't given' us what we want,' you know? They'll go on to somebody else. But the whole idea backfired. Because the album went out there, and the people said, 'This ain't what we want,' and they got more resentful. And then I did this portrait for the cover. I mean, there was no title for that album. I knew somebody who had some paints and a square canvas, and I did the cover up in about five minutes. And I said, 'Well, I'm gonna call this album Self Portrait.'"

Hmmm. He reminds me of a young me. In any event, I thought that would be interesting to put up here in light of my sermonizing and postulating at the possible meaning that could be gained from the album. I had actually read this some time ago, before I rambled that post out last week - maybe I should have consulted my own memory a little better.

Now, I will use the rest of this week's allotted time (unlimited) to post some wishes I have for the NBA. These are things that I would like to see happen in the league this year, things regarding the NBA I would like to have in my possession and things that I wish to happen for the league in general. I have to say that these items haven't been thought out at all and they may not make much sense. However, I have written a good deal about music in the past few weeks so I figured I should shower my praise and lovelight back onto the NBA, before I get into another list for next post, which will be my "Top 20 Movies to Watch on TV." See, sounds like I put more thought into that one, right? I even have a limit on the list. Salivating for that one, right? Sounds stupid, right? Oh, wait, I've got a list to do now.

Without further ado, my "Christmas Wishes" for the NBA:

1. Bill Simmons' Book of Basketball to replace the Gideon's Bible in hotels across the country until Game 7 of June's NBA finals when a scrappy Celtics team derails a potentially legendary Lakers team and Ron Artest shows up to the game in his underwear, scoring the first basket before being prompted to put on a shirt.

2. After scorching first quarters of the season, Carmelo, Durant and Nowitzki cool off scoring, the greatness of the Lakers overshadows Kobe's all around game, and Dwyane Wade galvanizes the Heat in an amazing second half stretch of the season, submits a better season than last year and wins your 2009-2010 NBA MVP award.

3. Tracy McGrady retires so we can forget about him and never speak of him again.

4. Chris Paul is traded to the Heat midseason for half of their roster, while in the off season, the Heat sign Chris Bosh and spend the remainingg $500,000.00 paying undrafted college players to be unselfish and not mess up. 2010-2011 NBA Champions, anyone?

5. Greg Oden is actually the inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and is really 120 years old. And once again we find out that Hollywood is racist.

6. The two movies I get for Christmas are the 1993 Finals and "All I Want for Christmas" starring a young Ethan Embry and Thora Birch and the "Mysterious Girl of 1991." If you've seen this movie, you know what I'm talking about.

7. TNT, ESPN and ABC get wise and put the best young NBA on TV as frequently as possible - The Oklahoma City Thunder - so that American can get a good look at Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook and the immortal Nick Collison (ah, Kansas 2003!).

8. Basketball loving president, Barack Obama, recruits NBA commissioner David Stern as part of his cabinet and in a precident setting move on Christmas Day of 2010, makes Stern VP midterm. Leading to Stern turning on Obama, hitting him in the head with a chair at Game 6 of the OKC v. Miami (what?!) Finals in 2011 and then running against Obama in the most thrilling and wrestling themed election of all time in 2012.

9. Shaq and Lebron's chemistry fades or never takes off, leading the 2009-2010 Cavaliers to tumble, while Mo Williams becomes fascinated with moustaches and running floaters. In the offseason, Shaq declares his own retirement to take away from the excitement of Lebron's free agency decision. Only, no one cares, and Lebron decides to play on Mars where the market never takes off, however, causing the ire of U.S. VP David Stern he is banished from the league until 2012, when the world may very well end!

10. Lakers v. Celtics in the Finals. It's just good basketball.

11. Kevin Garnett's return to glory and a second title.

12. Rajon Rondo is finally in people's everyday catalogue as one of the premier players in the game and not an appetizer at an Indian restaurant.

13. Tyler Hansborough becoming a better pro than people thought.

14. People remembering Allen Iverson for who he was when he revolutionized the league in 1996 like no one else had except maybe Michael Jordan and not for the overly proud, sentimental aging Allen Iverson he is now. (But God do I still love him and God does he have one of the most riveting and compelling personalities and professional storylines of any athlete. Just YouTube young Iverson. Please!)

15. I travel back in time and shadow Michael Jordan on all of the teams he played on. From UNC to the first-run Bulls to the Dream Team and then to the second-run Bulls. Much like the dreams I have every night when I get layups off of feeds from Jordan and then play "commendable and inspiring defense," as M.J. tells me.

16. MTV becomes NBA and completely non-related to music or the Jersey Shore.

Welp, that's about all I have for now. Christmas is upon us and so are these very possible NBA fantasies. I'll be back next week for my "Top 20 Movies To Watch on TV."

Now, the next installment of "From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt":


“Tom! Hey look its my little brother. Where’ve you been? And who is this?”

James is talking and he’s excited. He must be drunk. It’s good for him take his sober serious sombre leadership edge off. I guess I’m more of the sombre one. Well we all are now.

“This is Natalie. We went to school together.”

“Hi,” Natalie says. She holds out one of her lean athletic arms. They were always like that. Even in English class back in tenth grade I’d look at her exposed shoulder and notice the gentle tone of the muscle. That was something extremely feminine.

“I don’t remember you coming over to the house at all,” James says.

“I was at one of your parties.”

Is this song Bruce Springsteen? The pretty girl next to James is talking.

“Hey you knew my sister didn’t you?”

“I don’t know,” I say.

“Anne Gregors.”

“Oh, you’re Arielle.” I pause. I pretend to reflect. “I see the resemblance.”

“Yeah,” she says. “Where did you go to school?”

“I didn’t.” I can see her eyes sort of glaze. “I was a year behind Anne anyway. She and I just had a few classes together.”


Thankfully, Natalie is touching my elbow. “Let’s go get a table in front or outside.”


We start to move past them. James grabs my shoulder.

“What is this?”

I shrug and keep following Natalie. We get through the crowd who are hovering around the bar with shots and necks tilted up at the games on TV. Natalie leads along the main passage past the old Pac-Man machine and the hunting game. She walks balancing her drink up high in her left hand. She carries it like it were a grail. Maybe not that holy but something delicate and precious. Does she treat all meaningless things that way? Maggie and Liza are still playing darts with Eve standing there looking a bit forlorn. Why has James left her standing there?

“Tom. What have you got there?” Maggie says. Everyone is in pretty good spirits. I’m surprised they all wanted to come down too. Our mother is dead and we are all out drinking together. Is dad secretly mad at us? No, he wouldn’t hold this against us. He understands our grief – we all feel it. This is a release.

“Just an old friend.”

Natalie waves like a passing sports icon through the stadium’s tunnel. I see Liza and she smiles at me.

“Let’s just go out front,” I say to Natalie.

She continues to the door.

“Are you leaving, Tom?” Liza asks me.

“No. Going out front?”

“Oh. Weren’t you just outside?”



Liza sips her beer and turns back to Maggie and the darts. I pass by a big guy in a black sweater that is too tight for him standing by the door and move back outside into the night. There are torches burning along the porch. Across the way is one of the historic colonial homes with its wood fence. It has a nice open field or lawn that I used to go and lay in some nights when I’d take walks. There’s an empty table in the front corner of the deck by the bushes. Natalie keeps going and we sit down.

“Perfect spot,” she says upbeat.

“Better out here. More space.” I feel shy.

“You know,” she smiles. “It makes sense that I’d catch you peeing out back.”

I bow down into my beer a little bit.

“It’s a good thing.” She says.

“Thanks.” I pause look down look up at Natalie. “You know. You’re one person I didn’t think I’d ever see again.”

“What? Me?”

I laugh. “Who else.”

“C’mon, Tom,” she says. “We were buds.”

“Were we?”

“I thought we were. Maybe not.”

We both take a drink. I think we’re respecting the awkwardness or maybe the tension. Is this sexual tension? It must be close to it.

“I’m going to be bold,” I say.

“I’ll be myself.”

“Your choice.”

“Well, then, bold.”

“I still think you are absolutely beautiful. You have a terrific nose. I’ve always thought so.”

She rubs both of her hands along the sides of her glass. The ice makes a perfect tinkling sound as it sloshes and becomes water with her alcohol.

“Quite a compliment.”

And I mean it more than I’ve meant something in awhile.


  1. Greil Marcus' opening sentence in his Rolling Stone review: "What is this shit?" Ha.
    So Dylan had to be a asshole to get the hippies off his back. Now I get it.