You probably know Bethlehem Shoals from FreeDarko and The Sporting Blog. He’s also written feature essays in the past few issues of SLAM, on Shawn Marion and the Blazers, and he will continue to do so in the future. He’s also working hard on a book. But here he is back in internet form to decipher hidden NBA meanings for you.

By Bethlehem Shoals

From a very young age, athletes are conditioned to talk loud and say nothing. They give quotes for days, and yet with each word they utter, the surface becomes glassier and glassier, the affect more and more flat. But every once in a while, they drop a little splinter of a gem, a clue to a hidden world of feeling and drama. That’s where we step in, reading between the lines to give you the seething emotional underbelly of today’s NBA.

Doc Rivers on Andre Iguodala:

“Given the finances of my generation, I can’t compute [the current numbers], to be able to walk away from that. But a lot of players are.”

Translation: “I must have missed the part of American history where every family joined the upper middle-class, because that’s the only possible explanation for this dumb sh*t.”

Nenad Krstic on staying with the Nets:

“I like it here,” he said. “I like New Jersey. I like the people. But I don’t need to think about it right now. I need to play. I don’t need more pressure.”

Translation: “New Jersey is okay, but if you think about it too long it will drain your soul.”

Sam Cassell on joining the Celtics:

“I’m starved, man, I’m starved. That is why I’m here. There are no egos involved. There are no hidden agendas involved. I’m here to try and help the Celtics win a championship, clean and simple.”

Translation: “You ever heard the phrase ‘hungry?'” I’m so hungry I’m about to drop dead from it. I don’t care about getting KG his first ring, or restoring glory to Boston. I’m a fiend for championship rings—go ahead, make a Tolkien joke—and I’m going for it here.”

Larry Hughes’s college coach on Hughes’s reputation:

“I wish I understood what people want him to do, because I think he is a really good person and a really good player.”

Translation: “How can he get everything about life except for basketball?”

David Stern on the Sonics:

“Not good,” Stern said when asked how he feels about the NBA potentially losing the Seattle market. “We’ve been there for 41-years and it’s been a great market. I guess the question should be,’how do the city council and state legislature (of Washington) feel?’. “It’s not a fair question on us.”

Translation: “You don’t go toe-to-toe with me, or my league. You built two other new arenas, and then make a big show about how you’re too good for sports. Clay Bennett is a piece of shit, but he understands the game. This is the New World Order, and the NBA doesn’t have time for loose cannons.”

Kevin Durant:

“Honestly I don’t know what the critics want me to do. I mean do they want me to average 30 points a game in this league as a rookie? On a new team? I don’t see how I can do that. But I think I’m getting better and helping this team out as much as possible.”

Translation: “Please. I’m still Kevin Durant. In two years, I’ll get a feel for the pro game and you’ll be calling me Jesus again. Right now, I’ve got no team, no city, no fans, no real coach, and no direction. And I’m only nineteen. I deserve an award for not shooting myself, and you’re giving me shit for scoring 20ppg?”

Dwyane Wade:

“Why would I want to leave and let someone else come in and get the glory for taking Miami back?”

Translation: “I can always get max money here, they can always attract decent players and coaches, and I’m not about to give up life in South Beach. I’m single, if you hadn’t heard. This place has an unfair advantage when it comes to lifestyle and basketball recruitment, and it’s mine, all mine.”

Theo Ratliff on coming to Detroit:

“It’s been a great journey, I’ve been on a lot of bad teams. I’ve had the opportunity to play with a lot of young guys who are up-and-coming now, have had a chance to be a great influence on guys. Now is the time for me to get my satisfaction.”

Translation: “In 2000, I was on the Sixers when Larry Brown and Iverson finally saw eye-to-eye. Our team turned atomic, tore up the East, and were a beacon of hope for the city. Then I got hurt and shipped to Atlanta because I wasn’t technically a seven-footer. I don’t remember much after that, but I’ve got this new therapist who has convinced me that this sport owes me. I just hope I wasn’t part of some crazy drug trial that could cost me my inner child.”

Antonie Walker:

“Obviously they’re rebuilding, and obviously I’m not in the future plans. So I felt like maybe there was an opportunity for me to leave. They wanted money back that I wasn’t willing to give back. It didn’t work out that way.”

Translation: “For a split second, you actually thought I was going to come off as sympathetic, didn’t you?”

Jason Kidd on leaving the Nets:

“The ride was over. At the end of the day, I gave everything that I could give to the Nets. There were no more rabbits that I could pull out of the hat. There were no more rabbits that Rod (Thorn) could pull out of a hat. That is as far as they could go. I took them as high as I could.”

Translation: “Richard Jefferson is forgettable and looks funny, Vince Carter lacks motivation, and when it comes down to it, Rod Thorn and I are both mad corny.”