Originally published in SLAM 24
The 6th Man: I’ve been trying to write Sixth Man for a week now, but none of the ideas I’ve had has really inspired me enough to bother you with ’em.
I initially wanted to deal with the whole baggy shorts debate, especially with those mega-fines being handed down to the T-Wolves and Blazers. But then I realized that the only thing more difficult than enforcing such a policy is actually coming up with something non-insulting to say about it.
Then I had this brainstorm the other night, after flipping through Alexander Wolff’s brilliant The In Your Face Basketball Book from the late ’70s. I was gonna start a collection to try and lure him away from Sports Illustrated, so he’d be able write about basketball full-time again. Sure, it got big laughs around the office, but the reality was that we were gonna fall a few hundred g’s short of that offer-he-just-can’t-refuse. (And besides, half the staff was kinda hoping for Rick Telander anyway.)
From there, I flipped to my Milwaukee Bucks situation. See, lately I’ve been roasting them for losing Vinny, Steph and Sherm, but then I spoke with one of their front-office guys, and he was real nice, so yeah, I started feeling a little guilty. Like maybe they’re trying anything they can just to win a few damn games, and it’s not like they’re dismantling the ’86 Celtics. But then I thought the subject would make me look bad, so I dropped it real quick-like.
Let’s see, what else? Rodman playing like crap isn’t inspiring me. I saw Rafer Alston play his first college game, which got me real juiced. And I really think Tony Battie is gonna turn out to be a player. Not exactly Sixth Man material, though.
So I guess I’m left where I began: with the long shorts debate. Namely, it’s stupid and should be a non-issue. League officials may think they’re protecting the game, but all they’re doing is clamping down on the players’ personal style and giving ’em one more reason to feel like pieces of meat. Leave the kids alone, I say.
P.S. We’ve been pretty nasty in the Trash Talk section lately (at least that’s what some reader told me), and so we’re going to try something different this issue. Yes, welcome to the all-nice edition of Trash Talk, brought to you by some friggin’ aliens who have inhabited our bodies.