Sounding Off with San Dova: FIVE Series
The rattlings of Rondo, the gloom of Gilbert, the repugnance of The Round Mound.
Sometimes, I have a lot of thoughts and opinions on some happenings that have occurred in the world of the NBA, but many times, I don’t have the conviction to write 700 words on every singular subject of interest – but I may have a bunch of short bits to communicate en masse, on occasion. And so I’ll be Sounding Off on occasion. Holler.
Bill Simmons alluded to this here, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about off and on for a good while — Boston Celtics’ All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo is one of the most mercurial and puzzling players that the NBA has seen in recent years. Especially being a star player in the League now. I sort of have a better understanding of why maybe he was going to be traded in the 2009 offseason, because no player that I can think of in recent years (save for those awful 2002 and 2004 teams) would walk away from a great chance to win a gold medal while actively still on the team. I understand that he was very much off and on about even coming to play for the USA in the World Championships all year, so maybe he just wasn’t “there” with the idea, full-on; but still, I wonder about Rondo. It also makes me wonder if what makes him so vexing in his moods somehow is why he had the sort of underachieving career he had at Kentucky (although to be fair to him, former UK coach Tubby Smith really didn’t do too well there — although he wasn’t exactly embraced there either, but that’s another story for another day).
I believe that Rondo may have cost himself something special, and I’m not entirely sure what it is, but it feels like whatever it is that he missed out on is internally important, specifically for him, because of his disposition. It’s not like he’s lacking in endorsements, because Nike’s broken him off with some great feature shoes and Red Bull has given him some notable love, and he even got an All-Star nod in ’09, but something seems off about him. But as long as he’s cool, I guess it’s all good. There’s just something about him that I can’t put my finger on that seems cosmically off.
I feel a significant amount of ambivalence toward Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas, and it’s weird to and for me. I largely feel a great deal of sympathy for him, not unlike the sympathy one might have for a child whose balloon busted or whose childhood dream suddenly burst in his or her face and there’s nothing to be done about the situation. It’s weird, because the man who’s sulking one minute and totally stoic the next minute is the very reason that his own balloon busted in the first place; and yet, I can’t help but feel a great deal of empathy for the man.
I think part of the reason I feel like this is because I remember (like we all do) his personality prior to the multiple surgeries on his knee, starting in 2007. He had already started to take a more guarded stance in relation to his play (no doubt laden with guilt about his multimillion dollar contract and his lack of ability to play it through in the seasons since ‘06-07). He grew a beard for the ‘10-11 season–unkempt, with a natural nap that was true to his untouched hairline; for some reason, I can’t help but think that this is a mask that he’s wearing. A sort of real-life version of the Batman’s cape and cowl. Perhaps that comparison relates to Mr. Arenas playing as a character of sorts, not unlike Denzel Washington, whom he’s has referenced in various interviews over the years regarding movies.
In either case, the former Agent Zero is back. It would be nice to see the old smile.
I was replying to a facebook status of SLAM contributor Dave Zirin’s when I wrote this about Charles Barkley’s ignorant statements on LeBron James’ implication about possible racism stemming from his move to Miami:
“Charles, unfortunately, is a confused, capricious man of complication who pontificates at will. I wish he would quit his whole “I’m not a role model” thing that he’s been silently carrying and just think about what he says and hold himself… accountable to wise words.
“I love him, but he has helped to confuse the reaction about LBJ’s privilege and right as an NBA player (to exercise his free agent options), rather than add the much-needed insight that could provide the seasoned senses of reason and clarity to a chaotic (non-)issue.”
At this point, everyone and their grandma has an opinion — and believe me, my own grandma has voiced an opinion about the fiasco (she didn’t understand what the fuss was all about). I’m not confident that this “issue” of LeBron Ramone James will be resolved in the end with a consensus levelheadedness, largely because of the true fanaticism associated with the game that subjectively injects or removes the matters of business, at will. Should it really surprise people that there could be (and likely is) a level of prejudice involved, in context of LeFranchise’s move to South Beach? Look at Cleveland. Look at the demographics of the city and its jagged history. Look at America today and yesterday. Also account for the makeup of the country and specifically, the fans who can afford to physically root for NBA teams in the arenas. And then take into account the players playing the game. The subtext of “The Decision” was evident immediately after LBJ made his decision.
My point is that Sir Charles probably should really look at his own history growing up in Leeds, AL, take into consideration his own cultural experiences, his rise from poverty to wealth, and then evaluate LeBron specifically in context. I don’t think it’s fair to anyone paying attention to Barkley when he’s being a mal-thinking contrarian, because of his voice and the power of his words; but even more so, all LeBron James really did was go to a new team.
Whether there were hard-line mistakes made or not, LeBron James took a virtual pay cut (however slight it was) to play in a festive city with an organization backed by historically strong ownership that wants to win and has won. Take it from LeBron’s love of Jay-Z when the Jiggaman has said, “I’m not a businessman / I’m a business, maaaannnn”, and I take no issue with LeBron’s move, beyond maybe not having the best communication with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the process.
I think we should all just move on and accept what is. Beyond a possible lack of courtesy and the aforementioned lack of solid communication from LeBron’s end, there were no cut-and-dry wrongs that he was responsible for.
(Last thing, for all of Charles Barkley’s theory-boasting about him not changing teams if he were in LeBron’s situation, he did nearly the same thing when it came to changing teams to win a championship. He demanded for the Philadelphia 76ers to ship him away to a contender, desiring to play with the once-rising star in Kevin Johnson. Historically, everyone knows that Charles did this, and then he did it again when he went title-chasing in Houston with Hakeem Olajuwon and Scottie Pippen; history shows that Bark is being a hypocrite in this way — word to Vince Carter of Springfield, OH for the history lesson.)
Sandy Dover is a novelist/writer, artist, and fitness enthusiast, whose work has been featured in author Robert Atwan’s 8th edition of “America Now,” USA Today’s UWire, and Yahoo!’s Associated Content. You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline, as well as at Facebook and Twitter.