by Toney Blare
— Happy Martin Luther King Jr Day. Perhaps the most revolutionary American thinker, MLK articulated the spiritual connection between the specific machinations of segregation (I.e., separate drinking fountains) and the grand struggle of mankind to survive, well, mankind. His ability to describe the viciousness of that system and the type of love necessary to defeat it are as great a contribution as this country has ever made to the world. In our present political and social fever dream, we’d be well-served to take such a perspective when looking at a tragedy like Haiti. How does this fit in the greater story of our time? What can we do to change that story?
— Ahem. Breakfast is served at 1:30 in the press room, perhaps because the whole city spent all of Sunday sleeping off the glorious victory hangover of Saturday. You can still hear echoes of the Superdome roar today.
— Over 1,500 school kids in the building for the holiday.
— From the press release handed to us on the baseline:
January 18, 2010
NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans point guard Chris Paul is donating $61,616.61 as a citizen of New Orleans for the Haiti relief fund efforts of Project Medishare and UNICEF that Alonzo Mourning and Olympic teammate Dwyane Wade have jump-started. Paul is donating that specific amount in honor of his late grandfather, who was murdered at the age of 61.
“As a citizen of New Orleans, I know firsthand of how much help is necessary in a time of need,” Paul said. “In honor of today being Martin Luther King Jr Day, being a New Orleans resident and the honor of my late grandfather, helping the relief is something that really hits home for me.”
“As the great Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is “What are you doing for others?”’”
— I might add: Chris Paul for Mayor!
— Some of the players are wearing grey Nikes with green and red trim in honor of the holiday.
— Kinda cool match-ups: Duncan vs. Okafor, CP vs. TP (though George Hill handles most of the load on Chris), DWest vs. DeJuan Blair. Okafor pulls a slick spin move on Timmy, but gets blocked. On the other end, he sends Hill’s shot into the stands.
— This Wednesday is the Huey Lewis Experience at the Arena. Who wants a new drug?
— Keith Bogans looks his age.
— The Tim Duncan Comedy Hour gets underway. First he notices that he and Peja have the same shoes on, except Peja’s are white. “They’re bright!” When his missed FT bounces back to him, he taps it to the ref like a volleyball player setting for a spike, arms in a V.
— Jeff Bower shows more animation this quarter than Byron did in an entire playoff series.
— Quarter ends 29-16, Spurs.
— Some sloppy reserve work here. Darren Collison vs. Hill is a little intriguing due to their speed. Blair is fun to watch hustle, like his inner fat kid keeps popping out. And I wouldn’t be all that surprised if Posey had prosthetics under those knee-high socks.
— Chris checks back in at the 9:00 mark and drains a 3, cutting the lead to 32-23.
— Bower goes small, with CP3, Collison, Marcus Thornton, Pose, and Songaila. Fast as he is, Collison can’t stay with Parker, who seems to get 15 layups in a stretch and appears completely unfazed by his recent battle with the plantar facitis menace. With Okafor in early foul trouble, the lane is open for business, but for one vicious block by Thornton.
— PA plays “Danger!” Mystikal is free. Repeat, Mystikal is free. Hide your check-forgers.
— Mo-Pete sighting! Well, with a chef’s hat in an ad for Emeril on the jumbotron.
— Hornets just look a step slow.
— Ginobli’s schnozz is too long on the break, gets swiped hard by Posey, drawing blood. The next chance he gets, Manu hits a balletic reverse lay-up. Really, and for yet another year, this team’s chances come down to him. Richard Jefferson is out with back spasms today, but however accustomed he gets, neither he nor anyone else provide the spark of hectic slashing and willpower that made Manu the heart of those championship runs. He looks to be rounding into form today.
— Matt Bonner enters with what looks like a speed-bag glove on his right hand.
— 56-41 at the half.
— The New Birth Brass Band, cookie, coffee, water, and I’m alright.
— First possession, Peja gets a steal and Devin Brown finishes the break by climbing the mountain of Okafor and Blair. Weird game like that.
— DWest makes a lay-up, doesn’t hear the whistle, and passes the ball into Blair’s rookie-ass shins.
— The first Tim Duncan hands-in-the-air of the day comes with 10:00 to go in the 3rd. Brown drops a 3 to cut it to 56-48.
— Then Okafor picks up foul No. 4 and we return to earlier state of affairs, the Bees a step slow on defense. I think I even saw Chris lose his dribble, perhaps a first since last year’s playoff debacle.
— Spurs are killing N.O. on the glass. Not easy to rebound when your center’s on the bench and your power forward doesn’t make an effort. 66-51 after 2 minutes of no Emeka.
— During a break, there appear in the crowd three mascots, each with a large plastic head: a king, a baby, and a jester. We are within breathing room of Mardi Gras, when you eat King Cake, sort of like a super-sugary circle of cinnamon roll. Inside each cake is a small plastic baby, and whoever finds it buys the next cake. Let me say, it gets out of hand in offices all over town for upwards of a month. Now, I’m telling you all of this because I can’t imagine what the Spurs must think. The three mascots “race” down to the court, the baby looking especially ghoulish and slow. They circle through some yellow cones, with the King winning by crossing a purple finish line held by Hugo the Hornet and the Geico Gecko. I didn’t mention him until the end, because he really was the most innocuous of these newcomers. That baby actually scared me, like the clown from IT or some sh*t.
— The dream formerly known as Julian Wright comes in, followed by Posey and Thornton. The rebounding woes continue as TD effortlessly tips in a Blair missed FT. The next chance he gets, Posey leisurely drags Duncan to the floor.
— Chris hits two jumpers in a row, then misses at the buzzer to make it 76-61 after 3.
— Bogans travels on consecutive possessions.
— Collison and Thornton team up to cut the lead to 10. Both continue to look like rookies, but I like how they play together and the fact that a Hornets bench actually cuts into the lead is a nice change. I know Collison is small, but dude still plays like he’s trying to make the team and neither he nor Thornton ever seems the slightest bit afraid.
— Problems continue with the shot clock, so after DJ Rob Nice gets us all fired up and on our feet, the momentum is killed as we wait for the clock to reset.
— Posey and TD exchange words and suddenly we’re back to the 2008 semifinals when the crowd booed every time Duncan touched the ball.
— Suggestion for the Dancecam operators: lately I’ve been dj’ing the pre- and post-Saints game parties at the bar closest to the Superdome. It is some serious getting-down in there, and you know what people want to hear? Lil Boosie! That old Cash Money! Bounce! I’m telling you—there is no question of race or class here: They all want it.
— Bower goes small again, with Collison, Chris, Thornton, Pose, and DWest. I get the point, but Blair can also get his rebound and put it back in and that man has no knees. The two taller guys need to get after it if a line-up like that is going to work in late-game situations. They sorta do in this quarter, but neither has the hops to fully compensate.
— West scoop shot makes it 82-74.
— Thornton vs. TD jump-ball somehow lands in Collison’s hands, but he misses his shot. The game then begins to center on CP vs. TP and today, Chris can’t seem to keep up with the Golden Beret, though he does get his on the offensive end. The lead grows to 92-79 with less than 2:00 to go.
— Garbage time drags out, Spurs win 97-90.
— Outside, almost 50 years after the desegregation of New Orleans schools, the whole breadth of humanity, in many colors, most trimmed with teal and gold, make their way down the street.