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My Ode to "The Big Ticket"

Game 23 vs. Minnesota: Spurs 95, Timberwolves 82

I haven't posted in forever and I'm a bit behind. Shockingly I've procrastinated doing my schoolwork to such a degree that I had to write two papers in a 20 hour window. Somehow I still found the time to watch the Spurs/Hornets game on Thursday and participate in the live blog on PtR for three hours.

I finished up my school work at 5:30 am on Friday morning, folded all my laundry, packed for home, took a shower, and was at school by nine. At that point I'd been up 24 hours straight. I shot the shit with this one Poly-Sci professor who's an Eagles fan for an hour, started my critique of a friend's book report (I'll share that story at another time) for an hour, and then was treated to lunch with my chief editor where I whined like a little girl to him about how my section editors are stupid, stupid people for two hours. Then I went to work and that was lame. Now it's 5 pm Friday, 32 hours, and I'm still not that sleepy for some reason. Maybe it was the adrenaline of knowing I'd finally finished all my responsibilities for the week and that nothing was keeping me there anymore but the limits of my will. Maybe I just didn't want to take a chance of missing the Spurs game at 5 pm the next day by being stuck on the road. Maybe I just despise San Diego and all that it represents that much.

So I took some No-Doz, drank a Red Bull and came up with the bright idea of listening to my I-pod in the car. It worked like a charm really. All the previous times I'd make the trek back and forth between the Bay Area and San Diego I always got drowsy because I was listening to sports talk radio.

However, now I've made the discovery that you can't fall asleep if you're singing. Think about it, YOU CAN'T FALL ASLEEP IF YOU'RE SINGING. The implications of this for humanity could be immense. Imagine how much we could all increase our productivity if we didn't have to waste eight hours sleeping every day. All we need is an I-pod, about a 100 songs you know the words to - preferably fast paced ditties - and life as we know it could be drastically altered.

Or not.

I got to around 42 hours, arrived safely at home, and everything was fine for the next day and a half. By Sunday afternoon though I felt sick and got this asthma attack and I went to bed by ten pm and slept for eleven hours. I feel awful right now.

What was my point? Oh yeah. It's possible to stay up 30, 40, perhaps even 50 consecutive hours if you're really determined enough to do so. But your body will make you pay for it later, so choose wisely. Or to put it another way, get your school work done a lot sooner than the final day that it's due.

Kevin Garnett. Not a fan.

And I don't mean I'm not a fan of him because I don't root for the T-Puppies. I root for plenty of non-Spurs players. But something about Garnett has always rubbed me the wrong way. Whatever "it" is, he doesn't have it.

I don't agree with Simmons on much, and he's pretty much dead to me ever since he slammed Manu (what's the matter Bill, only your precious Basketball Jesus can be a good white guy?), but he's had Garnett nailed from the very beginning.

Namely, the guy is a second-banana. (Hence, the Youtube Clip). A 7-1 Scottie Pippen, only with less of a Basketball IQ. As long as he's the best player on his team, they have a better chance of winning the draft lottery (providing McHale doesn't lose his next 5 1st round draft picks trying to illegally obtain Kenny Thomas or something) than they do of winning a championship.

The only way KG wins is if Stern finds a way to get him to play with Kobe or BronBron. Or if he really wants to defy the "salary cap" (giggle), he can engineer a way to get Garnett on Miami with Shaq and D-Wade, because really, that team doesn't have enough old guys trolling for a cheap ring.

But my dislike for Garnett has more to do than him being deathly afraid of taking the big shot. Really, I knew he wasn't WINNER material when he got into a public feud with Wally Z. Allow me to elaborate.

Wally Zczerbiak, while being a slightly above-average player, is a constant embarrassment to any white person who follows the NBA. It's not the bad defense, the lack of low-post game, or his atrocious rebounding that pisses me off. I'm used to all that.

What's annoying about him is his never-ending barrage of dorkiness. The fake hustle that doesn't accomplish anything. The weak intense-looking body language. And by far the most egregious, the way he goes out of his way to acknowledge his teammates after he scores.

Now, I appreciate good sportsmanship more than most people. I'm a Spurs fan for a reason, and I have never set foot inside the state of Texas (and don't plan on doing so). I despise TO and Artest and Danny Fortson and guys like that. But the lengths Wally goes to after scoring... by golly. He extends his arm fully and points to the guy who passed it, for a full five seconds. Sometimes he actually runs up to the guy and pats him on the rear. Not during timeouts or stoppages of play mind you, but during live play.
And then he has to yell, just so everybody in the building can hear, "NICE PASS KEVIN!!!!" Like he's some contest winner or something instead of a paid professional.

When watching him, it's hard to believe he's actually a real life human being. He's much more believable as a character Ben Stiller would be playing in a bad (redundant much?) Ben Stiller movie.

He wants to make sure every person in the gym will leave with the impression that "Wally Zczerbiak sure is a great teammate and a heck of nice guy. He couldn't possibly have been the problem in Minnesota."

Well, I for one am not fooled and never was. Some teams get lay-ups scored on them after made baskets because their guys do exaggerated dances and poses. Minny gave up lay-ups because their guy was too busy being a swell guy to his teammates to get back on defense and pay attention. And that shit probably drove Garnett batty. If I'm sure of anything in life, I'm sure of this: The current version of Wally Zczerbiak wouldn't last 15 minutes on the Spurs, and his teammates wouldn't like him a whole lot. Even Sean Marks, who's contractually obligated to like everyone would think Wally was a great big doofus.

All that being said, I find it very unseemly for Garnett to engage in a media-driven pissing match with Wally Z. Talk about slumming. What "The Big Ticket" (presumably as in he'd have to pay a big ticket price to watch the Finals in person) doesn't get is that superstars only feud with teammates if they're fellow superstars. Ruth and Gehrig. Shaq and Kobe. Bonds and Kent. Engaging in a bitchfest with a goofball like Wally should be beneath the dignity of someone with the pedigree and talent of KG. Can you imagine Jordan starting shit with Horace Grant in the press? Me neither.

To me, this is the quintessential difference between KG and Duncan. Duncan gets along with his teammates 2-14 because he acts like one of the guys. Garnett carries himself like a superstar, but then engages in petty quarrels that only scrub players should engage in. Weak. If Duncan were ever forced to play with Wally, he'd probably pull him aside in the locker room and tell him what he thinks of his act in blunt terms, but no media guy like Ludden no matter how plugged in he might be to the Spurs, no matter how many inside sources he might have, would ever be able to figure out that Tim dislikes Wally.

Statistically, KG and Duncan might be similar, but count me among those firmly entrenched in the camp that if Duncan spent his whole career in Minnesota and KG spent his whole career in San Antone, the Spurs would still be ringless and Minny would've done better for themselves than one measly conference finals appearance.

The guy I compare Garnett to isn't Duncan but your nemesis Webber. Their numbers are pretty close actually, closer than you'd care to admit. KG is the better defender and offensive rebounder, by a little, but aside from that, the two are very similar. And people figured out that Webber wasn't going be the best player on a Championship team a few years ago.

Besides, KG took the advice of a punk like Sprewell and forbid his owner from hiring PJ as Coach last summer. He didn't seem to care that Spree mailed in the '04-05 season when considering his sage advice. So they hired another Garnett lackey for their coach. God forbid somebody demands that they play defense on that club.

That excerpt was from this diary I wrote for PtR a little more than a year ago; the second thing I had ever written on here, I think. It may look a little dated now since the Heat and their motley crew of bling-whores ended up winning it all last June with the worst overall roster for an NBA champion since I started following the league about twenty years ago. And of course Wallyworld is now a Celtic. Perhaps my writing has improved marginally. Frankly, there was only one direction that could go unless I hit myself in the head with a baseball bat. Again. (Long story).

For the most part though, I think my critique of KG still stands up to this day. The contrast between his first half and second half in the Spurs-T-Wolves game should be Exhibit A against any fan who starts the asinine "If KG was a Spur and Duncan was a Wolf, then Garnett would have three rings and Duncan would be the guy everyone calls a loser" argument.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. If Garnett was a Spur (and I shudder at the thought) then we would've had TWO big guys in the late 90s who didn't want to take the big shot instead of just one. He would've gotten Pop canned before he would have even found Tony and Manu, in all likelihood, and even if they did come aboard, Garnett would've alienated both with his aloof, ultra-serious behavior.

I mean can you seriously picture Garnett willing to subjugate his game to accommodate for the playing style of some white boy from Argentina? He couldn't even get along with Wally. And he would've turned Parker into some jumpshooting mistake-prone weenie. That's the dichotomy with Garnett. Not only does he need to be a number two badly, but he can only accept it on his own terms. Sam Cassell had the status to tell KG to shut the hell up because he won two rings and won't back down from anyone. And Spree is just freakin' scary. But TP and Gino? Uh-huh, not happening.

This is why he's begging to play with A.I. The Answer, from the moment he steps off that plane would automatically assume the role of Alpha Dog on the T-Wolves. It wouldn't even be an issue. If you don't think the thuggish invective of A.I.'s rapper of choice wouldn't be blaring loudly in the locker room stereo within a day of Iverson entering the facility, you're fooling yourself.

As far the actual games go, the main reason Duncan's shooters have historically been more effective than Garnett's shooters is because they've been more open. With Duncan, even when he's double-teamed, it's not an absolute given that he'll pass. If he feels the need he'll on occasion try to score through the double-team or draw a foul or something. He's not afraid to act like a superstar in the 4th quarter or the playoffs and never has been. With KG, any double-team, no matter how soft or token will get him to pass, and that makes it a lot easier to stay close to the shooters.

How Garnett can have only two points and zero field goals in 24 minutes of a basketball game is absurd. Okay, you were being doubled. Fine, then go out to the elbow, face the basket and see if they double you 20 feet from the basket. Your point guard is having trouble getting the ball up court because of full court pressure. Fine, then go help him out back there instead of taking a careless stroll down the floor; oblivious of your teammates' struggles. My point is that if he's half the star he thinks he is, he should stop talking about how much he cares and how intense he is and actually use his brain and play smarter.

Einstein defined insanity as making the same mistake over and over and expecting a different result. And KG's paint-by-numbers attitude to basketball in general and low-post basketball in particular will forever doom him to being a loser.

And your Spurs-related content in this Spurs blog? Well, the aforementioned full court press we unleashed in the second half was nice. Apparently not having a legitimate point guard on the roster can be a burden if the other team chooses to exploit it. We kinda sicked Tony and Manu on `em there and the T-Wolves collectively did their best impersonation of Beno vs. the Pistons. Their four primary ballhandlers, Marko Jaric, Randy Foye, Andre 3000 and Mike James, combined for 16 turnovers and the T-Pups managed only 26 points in the second half.

Also, Robert Horry and Michael Finley combined for 0 points on 0-5 shooting in 28 minutes. Finley in particular had quite the noteworthy evening, managing to accumulate nary a single rebound, assist, steal or block in his 840 seconds on the floor. How that's even possible when only ten gentlemen are occupying the playing surface at any one time is beyond me. Fifteen stat columns, fourteen bagels. I mean, commit a turnover or a foul, do something.

Your 3 Stars:

3) Manu Ginobili - I couldn't think of anybody else here. Offensively Manu wasn't very good at all. Somehow he only got 8 FGA in 34 minutes (while the guy whose responsibility to get him the ball shot it 20 times, no less) and five of those were from three point land. Howevuh, Manu had a great defensive night, especially in the second half, and he spearheaded their pressuring efforts. Neither Davis or James did anything.

2) Tony Parker - The aforementioned Le Trou Noir did have 23 and 6, but he gets the nod here more for his defense than anything else. I do not condone ballhoggery in my point guards, sorry.

1) Tim Duncan - The Man. Forever and always. Never forget this. Do not let phony superstars like KG cloud your vision.

Record: 17-6 Streak: W-2
Up Next: @ New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, otherwise known as the NOOCH.

A segababa and a fogafini, not to mention a segebabacrappaoppa as well. The nooch will be without David West, Peja, Bobby Jackson and Tyson Chandler. Call me crazy, but I think we're gonna kick their asses, and not feel the least bit guilty about it since they'll be wearing those atrocious day-glo neon yellow unis.