Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tony Parker? More Like EKTORP!

A month ago I moved across the country, leaving my native Oakland for Washington DC. Before schlepping 22 boxes, a dog and a car across the country, I sold every possible possession I could. A bed, lamp, couch, desk, La-Z-Boy, 2 bedside tables, rug, dog crate, and computer speakers that used to belong to me now find themselves in the homes of denizens of Craigslist. For some reason nobody wanted to buy my practically new women's wetsuit.

Since moving, I've been spending every day after work, and most of my weekends, getting my house in order. I'm constantly having "oh fuck, I don't own toilet paper" moments. The most difficult thing, however, has been buying furniture. The furniture I want exists at this awkward price point, more expensive than Target "who cares if it is shitty, I'm moving off-campus next year!!" and less expensive than than Ethan Allen "yeah, I probably need a wine refrigerator" furniture. In other words, I'm looking at IKEA.

Today I went to IKEA with a clearly defined mission: buy two bookcases, maybe get a desk chair if there was something reasonable. I walked out with my bookcases and chair...and two surge protectors, six glass jars, a potted plant, measuring cups and a container to store pens/pencils. That store is the fucking devil.

I went to Target next to grab a few things because Target has everything, and it is cheap. I got what I needed and left.

On the drive home I kept thinking about my two shopping experiences. At Target I went in and grabbed what I needed. It was a purely utilitarian trip. IKEA is designed so that a purely utilitarian trip is impossible. The second floor is a show room maze, forcing you to walk through mock bedroom after mock bathroom to reach the section with desk chairs. On the first floor, to get to the warehouse with the bookcases, you walk through a maze of smaller, more useful items. If I were at Target, I would have walked right by the glass jars because they are just sitting on a shelf. At IKEA, I walked by a mock kitchen and saw the glass jars full of beans, rice and lentils and thought to myself "that's a nice way of storing dry goods" and picked up six.

If you've followed my train of thought, and I think I've been pretty clear, the conclusion is obvious: the San Antonio Spurs are the IKEA of basketball teams.

Boris Diaw had a few good years, notably in Phoenix on those SSOL teams, but I'll bet you can't guess how many years he played for the Bobcats. Four years. He played for the Bobcats for four years, and then played himself out of a job, getting waived in the middle of last season. Half of Bill Simmons' basketball columns from the 2012 season included jokes about Diaw's man boobs. And then the Spurs pick him up and he starts at center for a team that won two games in the Western Conference Finals. For the Bobcats last year he had a -0.023 WS/48, and for the Spurs he had a .125. He went from practically the worst player in the league to an above average player all at once.

Last season, Stephen Jackson was traded twice in the span of a couple days. Milwaukee insisted that the Warriors take him in the Andrew Bogut for Monta Ellis trade, even though the Warriors wanted absolutely nothing to do with him. To get rid of him to the Spurs, they had to take back Richard Jefferson and his Island Fish Jasconius of a contract (though they did get a very late first-round pick for their troubles). Jackson went from a -0.019 player to a .086 on the Spurs. They turned a pile of poop into a close to league average player.

Greg Popovich and RC Burford are often (deservingly) lauded for their ability to turn late first round and second round draft picks into quality players, but I don't know that they (probably Pop) get enough credit for their reclamation projects. They have the ability to put players in positions to succeed where they weren't able to with other organizations. They take players who were passed over by 29 other teams in the league, and make them look right at home, to the point where you find yourself asking questions like "is Matt Bonner worth the full mid-level exception" or "is Patty Mills going to win Most Improved Player this year".

I guess, just like those BILLY bookcases help you realize that you NEED to buy the HEKTAR lamp, Tim Duncan and Greg Popovich can make Gary Neal look like an NBA starter.

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