by Vincent Thomas

Earlier last year, when I started this column, one of the first things I made sure of was that our old online editor Sam Rubenstein include my e-mail address in the tagline. The way I saw it, I’d write a provocative piece, the readers would e-mail me some reactionary thoughts, I’d e-mail them back, yada-yada-yada. That was pretty naive of me. SLAMonline is a robust web community, not a newspaper. Online readers like to respond/react, the same way they like their content–in real time. The exchange, as I’ve become increasingly aware, happens in the comment section. On average, there’ll be 50-150 comments per column, but I’ll only get maybe six to 12 e-mail responses. The comments are typically passionate, entertaining, moronic, offensive, knowledgeable, interesting, dogmatic–all that good stuff. My reader e-mails are usually either one sentence (“Great column, Vince.”…”You’re a douchebag, Vince.”) or two sentences (“Great column, Vince. Check out my blog.”…”You’re a douchebag, Vince. Stop writing.”)). This is fine, except I always dug/dig writers’ versions of mailbags. My mailbag would be me using one of three responses (“Thanks.”…”Nice blog.”…”I think I’ll keep writing.”) Wack, right?

So I’m unveiling a new, periodic feature–The Commish Comments. From time to time, I’ll go back through my archives, pick out some reader comments and respond. For this initial installment I kept it to the most recent columns, but I’ll dig further back in the archives for future joints, since I know a lot of older comments hold some current import, in hindsight. At any rate, let’s get it…

Jones wrote: get off roses n*ts. Man, it is clear from watching games that Beasley is a unique talent, unmatched by any before him and can invent his own game. The kid is only 19 and can shoot better than 90% of the NBA. He needs to develop and grow into his own man, but to say he’s not a franchise type player is drinking the kool-aid on Rose. By the way is Rose a PG or a SG?

1.) To tell one man to get off another man’s nuts has always been an extremely biting put-down. Well played, Jones. 2.) This guy Jones probably doesn’t frequent the site. If he did, he’d have read some of the profane and vulgar bile that commenters write and know that there’s no need to asterisk the word “nuts.” “Nuts” is not lowering the decency-bar around here.  You can go ahead and fully spell out “nuts,” Jones. 3.) There are Real Franchise players and there are players we tend to mistakenly call Real Franchise Players (RFP) that are more like Faces of the Franchise (FOF). A Real Franchise player should be defined only–and I mean only–as a guy that can carry a squad to a championship. Not just lead. Carry. Chris Webber (an FOF) forever altered the Kings franchise and gave it unthinkable relevancy during Sac’s new-millennium glory days. He was fully capable of leading that talented Kings squad to a championship. And he would have done just that, were it not for Shaq (an RFP). Duncan, on the other hand, carried an old Robinson and young Parkers and Ginoblis to championships. You see the difference? Very few players fit the RFP description. I’d say there are about five players with RFP capabilities, right now: Kobe, LeBron, DWade, Chris Paul and, perhaps, still Grandpa Duncan. FOFs are great players that make their teams viable, entertaining and successful, but need considerable help to get the ring (Melo, Deron Williams, Amare, Yao, Mac, Dirk, KG, Pierce, etc.). You can “build around” FOFs, construct “championship teams” on their foundations. RFPs are the franchise–all you need to do is provide some furnishings. Rose has a game-with-no-ceiling and a temperament to grow into an RFP. Beasley? Like I said, he’s a Chris Webber-type.

chintao wrote: I have a feeling that this will be a big year for Charlie V. He certainly derserves it.

Do you know someone that looks so uncannily similar to another random person that it seems absolutely impossible that they’re not related? I mean, so similar that it’s a lock; so similar that, no matter how rude or hurtful it would be, you want approach that friend, acquaintance or stranger and say, “Screw whatever you think to be the truth, either you have siblings you don’t know about or your ‘birth parents’ have lied to you all this time.” (And I would definitely finger-quote “birth parents.”) That’s how it is with Villanueva and my brother-in-law Edwin. Same skin-tone, same bald-head and, oh yeah, same lack of eyebrows. Both are NYC Dominicans. They look like twins…identical twins. If you see me walking around Manhattan with a shiner it’ll be because on the previous night I chose to tell my bro-in-law: “You know that woman you say is your mother? She’s not your mother. You see this guy? His parents are your parents. I’m just sayin’…”

Allenp wrote: Vincent must have missed the Denver game last night.

I love when we do this. By “we” I mean supposedly rational sports fans and by “this” I mean act as if one game can prove an assertion wrong or right. Allenp was responding to what I wrote about the Nuggs in reaction to the Denver-Detroit trade. I don’t know exactly which part he was responding to, because I’ve also noticed (and love) how commenters like to drop vague and snarky one-liners…always entertaining.  I’ll assume he took umbrage with this portion of the Denver-paragraph in the Commish 10 column: “The Nuggets play like a respectable team now that Billups is running the show. The rec league days left with A.I.” Or maybe it was: “With their roles more clearly defined and, what seems to be, a different, more practical philosophy, Denver seems more poised than the young Blazers to move ahead of the down-turning Suns, Spurs and Mavs in the West’s pecking order.” Well, of course, the Cavs beat the Nuggs on TNT the night before my column ran. So, I guess that one game was proof-positive that it’s biz-as-usual in Denver and 1.) They still play wild, haphazard, YMCA-ball; and 2.) Denver is clearly not on Portland, Phoenix, Dallas and San Antonio’s level. But, if I’m not mistaken, Denver is 8-2 with Billups in the lineup and Melo constantly marvels at the variety of “ways” Denver can win games now that they play and function like a respectable squad.  Get at me in early-April when every squad is afraid to play this bunch in the first round.

Justin Walsh wrote: if the thunder REALLY get 70 losses+…that would be devastating to a good OKC fan base…and a small victory for seattle who got screwed out of a team.

I love the spite-factor going on, here. As a teaser, I’m going to write about this soon. I grew up in Buffalo as a Bills fan and, next Sunday, my Bills are playing a regular season game in Toronto. It’s the beginning of the end for pro football in Buff. However, in other news, yes, the West Virginia Wild…I mean, the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to lose 70+ games.

Bruno wrote: “Power forwards and centers are like p0rn stars and singers: When they lose it, they lose it. That’s it. End of story.”  … yes, thats for you O’Neals on the league…

Ummm, yeah. My man Bruno put the big-man/porn-star analogy in quotes, so I googled it to make sure that it wasn’t a movie quote or some maxim spit by Confucious, Ralph Wiley or Charles Barkley. Nothing came up, so I’m going to assume that Bruno is the author, which makes me admire him a little more and respect him a little less. I also like the wording of that last sentence, because it makes Shaq (or Jermaine, don’t know which one) sound like a they’re a burden on the league.

Todd Spehr wrote: Couldn’t disagree more on Nash. Name another PG in the history of the game that had peaked after the age of 31 like Steve? His numbers last year actually *exceeded* those of his first MVP season in PHX. If anything, he may be more efficient, more effective, at this stage of his career in a slower system, especially since he peaked as a half-court passer last year.

I went out with one of my boys last Friday. At one point, we were both in the middle of one of those moments where you zone out for a few seconds and just observe things. Who knows what was passing through my mind–maybe how the one chick poppin’ to “Pop Champagne” looked like Turtle from Entourage. My man Tony broke his silence with this, though: “You know who sucks, now? Steve Nash!” You think? OK, OK, OK. Let’s be honest: Steve Nash doesn’t “suck,”…at all. But, as I mentioned in my Season Forecast, he clearly isn’t Steve Nash,anymore. Forget about his stats (considerably less points and assists in about the same minutes), I’m talking about his aesthetic game. Can’t you just see it? Can’t you tell that he’s a step slower and a notch less efficient and effective? Don’t blame this on Shaq, Steve Kerr or Terry Porter. In fact, I think Steve Kerr should be applauded for his prescience in this matter. The 2004-07 Suns philosophy under D’Antoni would falter with a 2008-09 Nash. He’s physically unable to impact that type of game as a player in his mid-30s. And wait until March, when that body really starts to break down (along with Shaq’s). (I think the Suns start–more than any other squad–has been the most misleading.) Nash will still have games–like last night’s close vic over the Thunder–where he’s clutch and impactful, here and there. I’m not saying he’s Lindsey hunter. HOF Nash, however, has faded away.

Kamari wrote: You, sir, are an idiot for saying that LeBron won’t be in top 4 for the MVP race. Kick ROCKS!!!

If the Cavs keep playing like this, then, yes, I am indeed an idiot. I won’t “kick rocks,” though. That’s just stupid.

Vincent Thomas is a columnist and feature writer for SLAM. He can be reached at vincethomas79@gmail.com.