Postgame Spread
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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Kobe Finally Scores Some Points With Me    

I never thought I'd say this, but I applaud Kobe Bryant's latest efforts.  It may not be enough to even out the whole "psychotically violent rapist" thing, but elbowing Manu "Lava Gina" Ginobili in the face is a good start.  Wish I'd seen it, but knowing that Ginobili got it bad in the face is enough for me.

Kobe's brand of frontier justice reminds me of Valeri Kamensky's unbelievably beautiful sucker-punch of Ulf Samuelsson back in the day.  I'm surprised there's no picture on the Internet of that, since I'm clearly not the only person in the world who hates Ulf's guts with a passion, and wishes nothing but the most excruciating non-fatal diseases upon him.  Instead, you'll have to settle for a photo of Cam Neely executing his revenge in dramatic fashion.  I will never, ever forgive Ulf for taking the ultimate hockey player away from me.

Long story short, I'm happy Kamensky did what he did, which is why Kobe scores points with me for fucking up Ginobili, accidentally or no, in a vaguely similar fashion.

Although I kinda wish Kobe hadn't laid it on so thick in his own defense.  It almost negates the good he did by smacking that gutless piece of shit in the chops.  But even breaking even is an improvement for Kobe.  Maybe I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.


  • In Colombia, there's a joke that goes:

    "If an Argentinian wanted to commit suicide, he could just climb up his ego and jump off."

    It's not so much a joke as a dig, but I thought it was an appropriate time to mention it. But back to the question at hand...

    Now, Ginobli is a bitch, but am I missing something? Did he end somebody's career? And, if not, what's with the comparison? I feel like I should be on board with this, but I'm having trouble connecting.

    I was watching that game, and Manu got roughed UP. The announcers were saying they thought he got stepped on, and it initially appeared he would be out for all of overtime (which, considering how he was shooting, might have been a good thing for the Spurs, though his defense on Kobe had been very good). So, Ginobli's a flopper, sure, but I don't think Kobe elbowed him because of that. I think he elbowed him because he was furious Ginobli could cover him so well, and I can't support that.

    Maybe I'm still feeling a little guilt about the Fortson incident, but Manu gained a lot of respect from me in that series. I hated him more than the rest of the Spurs (non Bruce Bowen division), but when the Sonics' strategy became to knock Parker and Ginobli on their ass every time they tried to drive the ball, Parker absolutely crumpled and Ginobli rose to the occasion, took some fantastic shots while getting fouled, and kept on putting up great numbers. It made Fortson so mad that he grabbed Manu by the head and slammed him to the floor at mid-court. And Ginobli kept on being the Spurs MVP that whole series. He took a lot of abuse, a lot of really unfair abuse, during that series, and he still took it to us. I haven't been able to hate him the same way since. He was phenomenal.

    And Kobe is still a punk. If the Lakers can win in the playoffs, maybe I'll agree that he's matured, but his antics last year were too much for me. Until his team makes it back to the Western Conference Championship game, he's a piece of shit to me, and every stupid petty thing like this he pulls on the court--no matter who to--is just more evidence of that.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 11:46 AM  

  • No, you're right, a direct comparison doesn't hold. Manu didn't injure anyone. I should have saved the Ulf comments for the day when Bruce Bowen gets his head blown off in the parking lot by Stephen Jackson.

    And maybe complimenting Kobe (as opposed to celebrating Ginobili's fucked-up face) was the wrong angle to take.

    But a cheap player getting cheap-shotted is still fine by me. When a guy fakes it like Manu did, so many times, just to get a call and prey upon the referees' incompetence, I consider that an unforgivable offense. Your "Manu kept getting up!!!" argument doesn't hold much water with me. (Also, I didn't see any of it, though I hardly think I'd care, as I'm about to explain.)

    Since hockey justice looms large in my rationale, let me revise my comparison.

    In 2004, the Montreal Canadiens upset one of the few good Bruins teams in recent memory. It was a 1-8 or 2-7 matchup, a huge collapse by the Bruins. More memorable than the result was Mike Ribeiro's behavior in Game 4. After a mild hit from Mike Knuble, with 33 seconds left in a 3-2 game, Ribeiro screamed and contorted as if having an epileptic seizure. Watch the video and sit in awe of how horrible it is.

    No penalty was called on Knuble (thank GOD) and Ribeiro skated to the bench under his own power. Shortly after making it to the bench, however, Riberio was not only sitting upright but laughing at the Boston bench. Yeah, you got them real good. Fuck him.

    There's certain things that I won't forgive an athlete for. I'd like to think that there's a minimal level of trust required to perform in a sporting event. None of these guys are boy scouts, but there's certain things that you just don't do. Surreptitiously putting a guy's body at risk of injury (as Bowen does nightly, and Ulf turned into an art form) is one. Faking injuries to gain a competitive edge is another. I will not forgive Ribeiro or Ginobili for what they did.

    Further, any sympathy I might feel for the average victim of an egregious Kobe elbow (or, say, a Todd Bertuzzi knuckle sammich to the back of the head) becomes null and void when you pull cheap shit like that. No respect = no pity from me. (Within reason, of course.)

    So that's why I said what I said. Ginobili got hit in the face? Fuck him. That's what happens to cheap-ass bitches. (And snitches. Did I mention that? That's the third unbreakable rule: STOP SNITCHIN'.)

    By Blogger Jeff, at 1:05 PM  

  • Fair enough, I don't really disagree, though I'm not sure it's a good idea to to put faking injury and intentionally injuring someone else on the same plane. Of course, intentionally injuring someone is a lot of different things, not one activity, and some of them aren't so bad while others are truly horrible (Kobe's elbow, not really that big of a deal...what Fortson did to Ginobli, even though it did not result in a serious injury, unforgiveable). So, faking is all one thing and intentionally injuring someone, depending on the injury intended (or likely to ensue), varies in seriousness. I guess that's obvious enough.

    What I was trying to point out about Ginobli is that just because he's a flopper doesn't mean he's not tough, he absolutely is. I went, during that series, from so angry at him for all the flopping that I could hardly speak in coherent sentences to feeling a lot of grudging respect for the man. And I feel a little like with all the nasty stuff I've said about him over the years, that I have to be upfront with the good stuff too. Trust me, he took some nasty hits that series, and he didn't shy away from any of them. It was legitimately impressive.

    I'm willing to admit a certain amount of hypocrisy about this, though, considering I completely lose my shit when people try to criticize Zidane for the headbutting incident (apart from losing his head and potentially the game for his team). So, I don't know, it's all emotion anyway. And it's just sports. I'll shut up now.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 2:23 PM  

  • No, that's totally different. Who's enough of a fucking jerk to criticize Zidane knowing what we know now?

    I acknowledge that Ginobili takes more hits than flops. He's not JUST a flopper in reality.

    But it doesn't matter. This is about my version of absolute morality. Flopping violates it. I treat floppers the way America treats sex offenders (speaking of Kobe), in that you do it once and you're branded for life. As a part of one's arsenal, it is entirely unacceptable. It's not OK to fake anything physically in an attempt to fool a referee. No faking injuries (Ribeiro), no flopping (Ginobili, every soccer player ever), no slapping at Bronson Arroyo's glove (A-Scrod). You do it, you fucking sit for weeks. In my book, take any league policy about steroids and apply it to fakers, floppers and slappers. (And, again, snitches.)

    While it's theoretically possible for Manu to shake his reputation in my eyes, he's going to have to stop playing basketball and start curing some diseases to make it happen. Simply taking a few licks after penetrating the lane isn't going to do it for me.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 6:01 PM  

  • OK, sure. I think, though, it's not really the fault of players, it's the product of a system. If you can gain an advantage by flopping, which doesn't actually hurt anyone, why wouldn't you? I see this as more of a reffing problem. It may drive me crazy (and it does), but I can't really get that upset about it once I take a step back. I mean, what makes it not just smart playing, if there's no consequences and it works so frequently?

    On the other hand, did you see this?

    I think he's right. If you don't want to deal with Salon or read the whole thing, I think the key is here:

    Obvious flops are often whistled as offensive fouls -- they'd have to be, or someone like San Antonio's Manu Ginobili never would have earned the descriptor "notorious flopper." So NBA refs clearly can't always tell a flop from a legitimate foul. This rule, which NBA officiating czar Stu Jackson told Bloomberg News the league is "looking at," would allow refs to compound a blown call by assessing a technical.

    Bad idea...

    So, penalizing flopping is a step removed from what really needs to happen in the NBA, which is officials getting calls right. I don't know about Kaufman's suggestion of more refs, but it might be interesting to have an offcourt ref on each side watching only for fouls and flopping when a player is driving. If they cleaned up the rules a little bit so it was clear what was whose fault. Because for all of the other players with reffing (SP?) in the NBA, it's also pretty clear they can rarely tell the difference between what is actually a flop and what isn't really, not to mention the large grey area. Prospects for positive change look weak.

    Until then, we can hope that other players enforce it themselves a little, but I don't think Kobe was doing that. I think he was pissed about how well he was being covered and being a baby about it.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 3:41 PM  

  • Oh no no no no no. No no no. I wouldn't trust an NBA ref to deliver a pizza.

    In fact, that informs why flopping upsets me so much: because I know refs can't and won't do ANYTHING about it. Which leaves it up to the players... if the players don't cut the shit on their own, the game will be ruined.

    So I think it most certainly is the fault of the players. Again, "flopping" and "steroids" are interchangeable... read that first paragraph of yours with "steroids" instead of "flopping." What makes steroid abuse in baseball not just "smart playing"? I'm not denying the root cause, but that is in no way a justification for doing it.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 3:57 PM  

  • Not a justification maybe, but certainly an inevitability. I actually have a lot of sympathy for marginal players in baseball who use steroids. Less so with Bonds/McGuire/Palmeiro/Canseco/etc., but for players put in a situation where they have to consider never making the big leagues, or never pitching again, or maybe getting caught using...I don't know which I would do, so it's hard for me to pass judgment. Flopping is more annoying to me, but not "worse" in a meaningful sense. I think competitors will try to get every advantage, and where refs are involved that will always involve flopping. Frustrating, but at least it gives us something to yell and scream and feel outraged about while we watch the game. Maybe it's an essential part of the experience, actually.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 10:51 AM  

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