In my opinion, the real of news this week was that I strongly considered changing the name of the blog from The Diss to Brian Winters' Beard. But that move's still at least a fortnight away.
Anyways, on tap for this week: the beauty of the NBA's most hallowed rivalry, the status of Agent Zero, and the unexpected effects of #Linsanity on this humble little blog. Let's get to it.
1. Boston Celtics vs. LA Lakers: Where the Records Don't Matter.
The Lakers traveled to Boston this past Thursday to play the Celtics, and the resulting game was magnificent. It was a close and testy contest throughout, and the fourth quarter featured classically brilliant basketball. Both teams set tough screens, battled hard down low, and played slow, methodical basketball. Both teams really emphasized defense, and Metta World Peace, especially, looked active and alert. In the end, the Lakers prevailed, after forward Pau Gasol blocked a put back shot from Ray Allen that would've vanquished Los Angeles at the buzzer. It really was about as good of a game as you could ask for in the regular season, and though these teams did look a bit long in the tooth, it was clear they had saved up some special energy for this contest. Thanks for that, guys.
To me, these two teams look like contenders, regardless of their records or AARP membership statuses. Both teams can bring it when they want to, and in their particular cases, it seems that age makes less of a difference than experience. Needless to say, both of these teams have racked up a lot of experience playing in big games, many of which were against each other. Kobe looked vintage when he got up for this alley-oop, Ray was looking as quick as ever busting off of screens and nailing jumpers, and Pau's block to save the game was downright sick. Miami's not unbeatable, and neither is Oklahoma City (just ask the Kings). If we saw these teams again in late June, I wouldn't be neither surprised, nor disappointed.
I want to mention two story-lines that I'm probably pulling out of my tuchus. but at least I'm admitting that, rather than saying . Firstly, this game featured as many all-star snubs as it did all-stars. First time non-all-stars Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Pau Gasol (all as of this year) and Metta World Peace, who was once an all-star named Ron Artest, played masterful games. Whereas I'm not sure all-star games matter much for baseball, football, and that other sport on ice (broomball, is it?), it's a big screaming deal in the NBA. Anyone who thinks those guys weren't playing with chips on their shoulders doesn't watch enough basketball. Secondly, I also noted that Kobe was doing a lot of talking with Rajon Rondo. It wasn't trash talk, though. Very friendly-like. Almost congratulatory. You think he's not trying to recruit someone to take the spot CP3 was going to have? I wonder what the Lakers would have to give up to get Rondo. My guess is they'd offer Pau, but Ainge would ask for Bynum as well. Given that Bynum's seemingly about to begin the "consistent to perennial all-star" portion of his career, which Rondo has been at for two seasons now, that makes more sense. But as everyone and their mother has said: Derek Fisher and Steve Blake will not get it done.
And speaking about that pesky point guard problem for the Lakers...
Nah, he's not named Gilbert Grape. He's not even nicknamed Gilbert Grape. But considering how little we understand about his mind and behavior, it might not be that misplaced of a moniker.
Gilbert Arenas, the artist formerly known as Agent Zero, who once accomplished feats of great strength and wonder, and became the NBA's first self-made internet star, has been out of work this entire season. After averaging roughly eight points per game off the bench for the Magic in 2011, he was unceremoniously (and unsurprisingly) amnestied shortly before this abbreviated season began. Since then, he's been in Los Angeles, working out, and presumably waiting for a call (he hasn't really indicated either way). He got a bit of press this week with a workout he apparently held, that may, or may not, have been attended by Mitch Kupchak. The most solid lead that Mitch may, or may not have been there, is that he stuck around town while the Lakers took a week-long road trip to the East Coast. Sounds like a sure thing. Meanwhile, the Clippers, who are in need of another scoring guard now that Chauncey Billups and his 15 points per game are done for the season, are showing "no interest" in Arenas. So, the three time all-star sits, and waits, and waits.
I really think there's a deeper story to Arenas that has yet to be told, and I have a hunch the details are very complex, and perhaps somewhat ugly. The general narrative with Arenas seems to portray a player that had completely and totally fallen apart well before he arrived in Orlando, and not at the point he was traded. And while his Orlando stint was not representative of his skills, he was still a productive player in Washington. In 2009-2010, his first season back after dealing with two seasons lost due to MCL and meniscus issues, Arenas averaged 22.7 points and 7 assists in 32 games, before the FBI and David Stern ended his season. This picture has probably become the iconic image of Arenas' career, rather than this one. And, in the 21 games before he got traded to Orlando, Arenas was averaging 17 points and 5.6 assists. Certainly down from his pre-Hibatchi days, but still certifiable contributions to a team. That changed once he got to Orlando.
I don't know if we'll ever see Gilbert Arenas play another NBA game again. That's sad.
3. Thanks, Jeremy Lin.
I already stayed up late a few nights ago writing about Jeremy Lin and #Linsanity, and just watched him hang 38 on the Lakers in the Garden. Really, it was one of the more entertaining performances in recent memory, and this is a really wonderful story. So, I don't know what to think. It's fun, for sure. This is why I love the NBA. This is why I love sports, really.
And, I should send the guy a thank you card, because since we, as a blog, have had our best 48 hours ever, since we wrote an article about him, and even got over the 10,000 pageview mark on his back. Jeremy Lin saves The Diss! Maybe every article on The Diss should be about #Linsanity.