Friday , Apr , 11 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

End of Season Awards Show — Sort of

End of Season Awards Show -- Sort of

At this point in the season all the real questions about the teams and players we follow have essentially been answered. We know which teams made good moves last offseason and which teams made bad ones. It’s no longer a question which players have taken steps towards stardom and which former stars are merely shells of their former selves. All that’s left is the post-mortem and essentially that’s what every major sports outlet is kibitzing about currently: which players are MVP worthy, who deserves coach of the year, who will make the all-defensive team etc. etc. Unfortunately, these types of ranking systems don’t tell the full story of what happened to the league this season. Twenty years from now these awards won’t reflect that this was the season that it was officially determined in New York that the emperor has no clothes, that the Avery Johnson experience represents the single biggest one-season turnaround in a coach’s reputation ever, or that the Michael-Jordan-as-executive era fizzled for the second time in ten years. To tell those stories we need something a little more complete.  So instead of handing out awards for this NBA Season, I’m handing out 17 Kurt Vonnegut quotes in honor of the one year anniversary of his death today.


1. “If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you’re a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind.”


To the Orlando Magic who have quietly amassed the third best record in the Eastern Conference almost entirely through the use of the three-point shot. While Dwight Howard is rightly getting a ton of the credit for the Magic’s season, the true story of the team is that they are more single minded than the Clinton family during election season. While the statistics indicate that the Magic attempt the second most three point field goals in the league (behind GoldenState) it’s important to remember that they play at one of the league’s slowest paces. As a result, what’s important is not the gross number of three pointers they’ve taken but rather than one out of every three tries is from long range.


This, after all, is the team that is so proficient at the three-pointer that poor J.J. Reddick has been rendered more useless than Jarron and Jason Collins combined. Poor J.J. Reddick, someday you’ll be on a team that isn’t stocked to the gills with three-point shooters where you can attempt your Jason Kapono-esque resurgence.


2. “Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”


To the GoldenState Warriors. Everyone still loves you even though you’re likely not repeating last year’s Cinderella run after imploding against Denver on Thursday in the most important game of your season.


A secondary interpretation of this quote as applied to the Warriors would be fantasy-owners’ eternal frustration with Don Nelson. As a universal rule next year, anyone on the Warriors not named Baron Davis or Stephen Jackson is virtually undraftable next season as they’ll have their minutes yanked around so much you’ll start to question if they got traded mid-season. Seriously, Matt Barnes was passed around my fantasy league so much this season you’d think he was Flava Flav on a VH1 show.


3. “Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile!”


Apparently Isiah Thomas still considers himself a genius. Egads!


4. “About astrology and palmistry: they are good because they make people vivid and full of possibilities. They are communism at its best. Everybody has a birthday and almost everybody has a palm.”


5. “Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.”


Watch out Miami Heat fans, your team is shockingly trying to be a D-League team towards the end of this season by rotating those 10-day contracts as fast as possible. If you had told me two years ago that Kasib Powell would be playing major minutes for the Heat while fans stayed away in droves I would have immediately checked to make sure you were still on your methadone. At this rate I’m positive that if the season went on another month we’d be seeing Miami run a white-wash every game with cast-offs from the SteveAlforderaUniversity of Iowa teams.


6. “Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before.”


To the Milwaukee Bucks, who got themselves where they are now by being as boring and conventional as possible and seem determined to go down that road again in the near future.


7. “If people think nature is their friend, then they sure don’t need an enemy.”


To the entire Western Conference, who figure to be so battle-tested by the Playoffs that an Eastern Conference team that will have had a full week of vacation will dispatch their eventual champion with shocking ease.


8. “Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists”


To the rapidly-aging San Antonio Spurs. On the positive side, they’ve learned that Grape Nuts really do taste good and the Golden Girls really was the best sitcom of the 1980s.


9. “True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.”


After watching Rasho Nesterovic put up some monster lines (albeit in losing efforts) for the Raptors over the past month I thought “maybe he had potential and is just now turning into a good player.” Then I found out he was drafted in 1998 and is in his early 30s already. Seems like just yesterday he was that comically foreign guy on the Timberwolves who it was impossible to envision speaking to Kevin Garnett under any circumstances.


10. “We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.”


To the Memphis Grizzlies who have lots of nice young parts, but apparently shipped off Pau Gasol for laundry money, a turkey sandwich, and a dessert to be named later because the owner wants to clear payroll so he can sell the team. This certainly isn’t what was promised to the city of Memphis when the team moved there from Vancouver. Perhaps they should have stayed in British Columbia after all, which by all accounts is just like Seattle but with the metric system.


11. “If there are any ghosts in my home they have such Episcopalian good manners they haven’t made a peep.”


To L.A. Clippers fans. Every time they have a “home” game against the Lakers, as they did last night they manage to idly stand by and let the “visiting” crowd dictate the tempo and electricity level of the crowd. Can you imagine this sort of thing happening at a White Sox-Cubs game or Mets-Yankees? Do the Clippers even have fans anymore or does Donald Sterling just place cardboard cutouts of white guys in Corey Maggette jerseys in the stands before every game?


12a. “One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.”


To Shaquille O’Neal’s career. In Miami he suddenly started looking like Barry Manilow trying to dance on soul train which every creaky awkward movement down the court. Luckily for us, Miami received a truly absurd number of nationally televised games so we could watch the whole thing unfold play by play.


12b. “What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”


If such a device as a Lazarus Pit exists anywhere on Earth, it is surely located in Phoenix, Arizona. Upon arrival with the Suns, Shaq somehow changed from being a slow plodding no-impact player who hated everyone around him to some sort of cross between the Jolly Green Giant and that guy who drives the ice cream truck in your neighborhood. His mere presence causes Amare Stoudamire to be the best big man in the league even when Shaq doesn’t put up huge numbers and he even grabs rebounds like its 1999 again. Furthermore, in Shawn Marion’s absence one gets the feeling that the Suns locker room gets misty together after watching the opening sequence from Cheers before every game, then has a good cry and talks about their feelings. I also have a strong suspicion that Grant Hill reads the poetry of Yeats while Steve Nash dreams of wind-swept cliffs during practice, but I can’t prove it yet.



13. "My soul knows my meat is doing bad things, and is embarrassed. But my meat just keeps right on doing bad, dumb things."


Now doesn’t that sum up the entire Indiana Pacers team and why their fans and management are so fed up with them?


14. "History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again."


In a league that produces at least one surprise story every year this one goes to the New Orleans Hornets who didn’t make the playoffs last year, returned with virtually the same team (unless you really think Morris Peterson made all the difference, I know I don’t) and are now poised to capture the one seed in the toughest conference in NBA history. I haven’t been this shocked since Neil Patrick Harris came out of the closet.


15. There is no way a beautiful woman can live up to what she looks like for any appreciable length of time.”


To the Denver Nuggets. Despite having a starting line-up featuring four former all-stars and a former MVP as well as two of the top five scorers in the league this is a team that perpetually underachieves. This year they can’t even blame the injuries to the same extent the way they could in previous seasons. I know, I know, Nene got ball cancer and missed most of the season, but to be honest it’s not like the guy has ever really been a world-beater anyways. Looking at the team’s roster on paper it’s almost impossible to figure out why they aren’t better. This leads me to only one conclusion: George Karl should have stopped snitchin’.


16. “I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.”


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17. “Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.”


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