The best of NBA-related internet things with a slight Finals bias. It's an important event, after all. Happy poopin'!
The Porn Identity
Sam Benjamin, a former porn director and present writer for The Classical, draws attention to the troubling similarities between male addiction to pornography and male addiction to professional televised sports. The crux of Benjamin's analysis rests on an unsettling assertion: that in both pornography and sports, men are drawn to the enjoyment of "immersing [themselves] in hours of footage featuring men more talented, more dynamic, more fulfilled than [them]." In the end, for these men, "this practice incites pangs of resentful jealousy, followed more often than not, by torrents of slobbering hero worship." What follows is a compelling look into the shared traits of Kevin Durant and Lexington Steele (God bless The Classical). This is a humorous, yet fascinating, look into the habits and hormones of male twenty-somethings in the United States, and causes us -- well, at least me -- to look in the mirror, and take a long, hard look at ourselves. Emphasis on long and hard.
- JGThe Hate that LeBron James Haters Produced
Pause. Take a step back from the talking heads at ESPN and the prefab ideas circulating the water cooler and approach this Kevin Powell piece with an open mind. Kevin touches on stats, context and historical perspective to remind us that there's much to consider beneath the surface of the self-proclaimed "chosen one", and how our insistence on fickle one-sided interpretations speaks volumes about ourselves, society, and to an extent, the larger state of sports and fandom. With strong and clear claims, and a touch of Nas truth mixed in, Kevin makes a convincing appeal to the logic that while the reasons for James dislike abounds, he gives us so much to appreciate. It's that second part that's always worth remembering.
- Long Bui (LB)
On Love and Giving a Shit: A Theory of Sports
An oft-used phrase in any vocational pursuit is that is has to be a "labor of love"-- that is, it needs to be what you would love doing even if you weren't getting paid to do it. Eric Nusbaum takes this idea and applies it directly to the business of sports writing. He argues that the only way to properly analyze sports is to acknowledge that you, in fact, love what you're writing about. Nusbaum asserts that "spectating" is the wrong way to think about sports if you intend to write well. Rather, one should really "appreciate" what is going on, and try and add passion and even personal perspective to enhance the writing. He uses past writing by George Will to illustrate these points. It is a compelling discussion, which animates the debate whether writers should be objective or passionate about their subjects of analysis.
The Thin Line of Thunder Disgust
Robert Silverman, who writes for the very good "Off The Dribble" blog for the New York Times, delivers another strong entry into the growing body of literature pertaining to the competing economic and political interests of Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett, as well as Thunder chairman and Chesapeke Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon. This longish piece (which reads more as a free-thought rather than a structured argument) examines the Oklahoma City Thunder as a money-making business, and how supporting that business, either passively or passionately, supports political and economic practices that are damaging the environmental and economic health of the country. It is another useful counternarrative to the prevailing notion that the Thunder are a mom-and-pop organization with wholesome middle-America values, innocent origins and benevolent caretakers.
The Brutal Truth about Penn State
This has nothing to do with basketball, the NBA finals, or LeBron James. You've gotten enough of that by now. The biggest sports news of this weekend actually had nothing to do with basketball, or professional sports, for that matter. Instead, the biggest sports story of the weekend -- and really, perhaps the decade -- had everything to do with the now-convicted Jerry Sandusky, and what Charles Pierce appropriately labels "the raping of children." In this piece, which came out on Grantland in November 2011, Charles Pierce levels indictments on the hyper-religious tropes that defined the early days following the arrest of Sandusky and the firing of Joe Paterno, and counters that in the wake of such a horrific crime, "it no longer matters if there continues to be a football program at Penn State. It no longer even matters if there continues to be a university at all." In my humble (and perhaps hyperbolized) opinion, this article is one of the finest pieces of sports journalism ever written, and deserving of another look in the wake of Sandusky's conviction of 45 out of 48 counts of child sex abuse.