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Chaos Effect

By on January 30, 2011

A while back, I wrote about the Chaos Effect that Chris Paul creates. At his best, he’s completely unpredictable and indefensible.  Will he roll the ball to half-court only to explode past an overzealous defender, dribble up lazily and run brutal pick and roll half-court sets, push the fast break, or wind around defenders, sanguine and unfathomable, with his patented fake-dribble, opposite shoulder juke, and thread a no-look pass past defenders to an open three point shooter?  Paul is leading all point guards in 3-point shooting, is a master of drawing fouls (with a correspondingly deadly 90% accuracy at the line), and can carve up your team with zero-to-sixty acceleration scoring drives or his unerring ability to draw defenders and dish it out for assist on easy basket after assist on easy basket.  That ability to do everything well, concomitant with the willingness to be cerebral and deceive defenders makes him difficult to guard in even the worst of his games.

When the Miami Heat started their 21-1 stretch earlier in the season, one of the observations made was that James, Wade, and Bosh were reacting to defenses and exploiting what they saw in the moment, rather than running straight sets.  That is, they were all deciding on the spot what to do and using their growing cohesion and athletic talent to take advantage.  One of the keys?  They became much, much more unpredictable.  When a team is predictable, it is easy to stop as long as you have the right defensive strategy and can execute it, which, in contrast, the early strugglesof the Heat, before that streak, showed.  Some commentators likened this evolution to Phil Jackson’s judo-like reflexive Triangle offense, which, by design, runs less straight plays and instead takes what it is given.  Jackson is the most successful coach in NBA history, so we don’t have to question the efficacy of his strategies.  Unpredictability, inherently, shares a link to chaos, in that neither can be controlled.

When I first proposed my Chaos theory, I asked what the second unit could do to replicate Chris’ unpredictable skillset, even if to a lesser degree.  At that time, I suggested Julian Wright might be able to produce chaotic effects to the team’s benefit, with his ability to shoot threes, long arms on defense, ability to run the break, and thunderous dunks.  Wright never developed with any consistency, however, and was shipped out to Toronto over the summer.  But what I wrote then still holds as true then as it does now: sometimes you have to stop trying to make players into your kind of guy and just free them.  Any coach that tries to make CP3 or David West into anything they aren’t is fooling themselves.  To his credit, new coach, Monty Williams, has done a superb job of building an offense around those two.  But there’s just one thing he still needs to learn is okay.

How to free Marcus “Lil’ Buckets” Thornton.

Say it again.  Free Marcus “Buckets”  Thornton.  Say it again.  Free Buckets.  The young second round draft pick has surpassed the expectations of most players picked in his position and has exploded over defenses again and again.  Most three pointers by a Hornets rookie ever.  Most points in a quarter by a Hornet (rookie or otherwise) ever.  Listen to announcers from other teams on League Pass.  They are always nervous when he enters the game.  With good reason.  Marcus has one of the quickest releases in the League and isn’t afraid to let it go.  One of the reasons he is so valuable is that he can score in any way, at any time.  How do you defend someone who is as likely to catch-and-shoot a deep three as he is to pump, pump, pump, and then explode past you to the rim, twist through your help defenders and contort around the rim for an impossible lay-in?  How do you game someone who is as comfortable coming around off-ball screens to fire an open look as he is to take the ball, drive to the next defender, and dish to an open teammate?  He runs the break with the best of them and can dominate defenders in isolation.  He’s an excellent ballhandler, who despite being a natural shooting guard rarely turns the ball over, even when pressed to play the point, such as when injuries reduced the Hornets to him as the only guard last year, or even just to help beat the press.  So the only question is what is causing Williams to give him less minutes than expected?

I understand the argument that he can be your sixth man.  People like to compare his offensive game to Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford, and J.R. Smith.  I’m fine with that.  I wouldd prefer Paul and West get the largest percentage of first unit shots.  So bringing Thornton off the bench makes sense.  Kind of.  I am also partial to starting your best players.  But, regardless, Thornton is playing 16 minutes per game under Coach Williams.  Terry plays 32 minutes a game, Crawford 31, and Smith 24.  So what is it that Williams sees in those 16 minutes or at practice that he would prefer Willie Green at the two-spot?  With three less minutes a game, Thornton is averaging more points, rebounds, assists, and steals per game than Green, while shooting the deep ball 6% better.  Is it that defense thing?  Monty would have us believe so.  But I don’t buy it.

Thornton is a chaotic defender, who, though he can get lost from time to time, can also disrupt opposing offenses.  He cheats the lanes, gets steals, and leads or participates in more fastbreaks than any Hornet on those turnovers the Hornets are so good at creating.  And where does Thornton get the idea to play like that?  Surely other Hornets don’t do that.  Unless you’re talking about Paul or Trevor Ariza.  Our two best defenders.  Of course Marcus is not nearly as good as a defender as either, but he’s cut from the same cloth and he’s way better than he’s given credit for.  Another factor is MT5′s speed.  Green can’t match that; neither can Jack for that matter, who also sees some time at the shooting guard spot next to Paul.  A lot of faster players can blow by a slower Green, while Thornton has the ability to keep with those guys.  For that matter, I submit Thornton is as good as a defender as the Hornets’ starting two guard, Marco Belinelli, who has never been known as a stout defender (though has he has done reasonably well under Coach Williams).  Does he have techniques and strategies to improve on?  Of course.  He’s a second year player.

But not always knowing whether he’ll be a frenetic devil on defense or a lost-in-screens, over-cheating two guard are not reasons to bench Thornton.  A guy who can easily put up 16 points in 17 minutes on 70% shooting (with one of his misses being a half court heave) is not the guy that should be in a suit or getting a DNP-CD, just because he might go 2-10 instead of 7-10.  In the NBA, every shooter has off nights.  But most nights, Thornton is shooting lights out.  If he’s not starting next to Chris Paul, he should be the first one off the bench, with heavy minutes in crunch time.

Coach Williams talks a lot about trust, and of young guys needing to learn at actual game speed.  So how about it, Coach?  Ready to sit back, take a deep breath, and be okay with not knowing what Buckets will bring your team?  I’m not denying his performance will create chaos.  But what I am saying is that it might be a good thing.  Chris Paul creates MVP-quality chaos.  Marcus Thornton could easily create sixth man of the year chaos, laying waste to NBA second units.  But Williams has to go to him first.  Not just when he’s desperate to stage the best comeback in team history.

Lots of people are talking about players’ rights versus owners’ rights, basketball being a business, winning is everything, and it all breaking down into an almost mechanical equation of loyalists of all varieties, arguing three sides to every story.  Lebron this, Amare this, Chris Paul that.  Kevin Durant.  But there is something more to it, something primal, that on a base level, each of us implicitly realizes, no matter how many manufactured storylines are put forth by Stern, the Media, or the so-called reality television shows which are even now infesting this sport.  It’s greatness.  It’s that thing that makes one individual greater than the sum or so many before him that have tried and failed; it’s that which allows one to put his teammates on his shoulders and carry or push them through or over every obstacle to victory.  It’s an intangible quality precious few possess.

Greatness is never given to you.  It must be earned.  You cannot be born into it without sacrifice, dedication, and effort.  It cannot be handed to you on a silver platter.  It must be uniquely yours, a what-some-would-call destiny forged through your sweat and tears: a combination of what is possible and what you will to be.  Today, though, too many people, be they athletes, celebrities, or the well-to-do, have a sense of entitlement, like yesteryear’s aristocracy, that they were born special so they should have it all with little or no effort.  Lebron James is the prototype of this societal model: before he had played a single game in the NBA he was called “King James.”  Yet what’s to say then that he wouldn’t have been the Darko, the DeShawn Stevenson, or even Jermaine O’Neal?  Who knew for sure that that 18-year-old would be a two-time MVP?  Then?  No one.  Nevertheless, it was all given to him from day one, marketed to him, signed, sealed, and delivered to him.  Even now, or at least up until “The Decision,”  he still is  (was) treated like aristocracy despite his anti-climatic disappointments the last two years.  Having the best regular season record in the League only to flame out in the Playoffs?  Let’s let the blame fall where it belongs: on the man who doesn’t have the heart of a champion.

So untouchable was James, before Wojnarowski roasted him, he was lionized despite his obvious faults.  Look at ESPN’s free agency picture for him (above).  The basketball falls behind his head like a too-low saint’s halo.  Which intern broke through his or her boss’ blinders, and was like, dude, you have to lower the rock, people will think we’re trying to make him into Jesus.  Who?  ”King James,” the “Chosen One”?  What?  I know, hard to imagine elevating him with near-religious overtones.  Fortunately, not everyone has fallen under his monumental shadow.  There are those, who have always seen he just doesn’t have It.  But is Chris Paul one of them?

Each and every time Lebron has had a chance to be a champion, he’s faltered.  Every time he needed to show heart, he shrank from it.  If it isn’t part of his billion-dollar plan, he’s not invested.  And now, when there’s no one left to blame, when his team has generously spent well beyond the luxury tax, given him every free agent and trade they could, and even fired his coach and GM, Lebron finally realized it was all on him.  So he ran.  I’m not criticizing him for being a “new generation” player, or as someone one who wants to play with friends rather than see all others as the enemy, as someone in the modern free agency era exercising his contractual rights, or even as an force swinging the balance of power relations between players and owners and striking a hit against The Man; I simply submit that he looked greatness in the eye and blinked first.  Not only that, he turned away, and walked the other way, head down.

The greatest among us, those who we should put forth as examples of what humanity can achieve don’t run from the hardest of obstacles: they smash through them.  History is replete with such individuals, but being what this is, I’ll stay focused on basketball.  Michael Jordan didn’t win a championship until his seventh year, as the media incessantlyreminded us for the first two rounds of the Playoffs last year, the (surprise!) seventh year of Lebron’s faux-reign.  MJ didn’t run.  He worked harder.  He made it happen, he pushed himself to levels that maybe no other basketball player has reached.  A few years later, Kobe Bryant had the good life with Shaq, and then it was all torn apart; egos got involved, Kobe made some questionable personal choices, struggled through both bad seasons and legal battles.  Sure, he made trade demands, chided his team for not improving, and so maybe had some help in being forced to stay along for the ride, but in so doing so, proved all his critics wrong, defying all those who said he couldn’t play unselfishly, that he couldn’t play injured, couldn’t win without Shaq, or beat the Celtics.  He overcame all that and now stands on the cusp of his sixth ring.  Or Paul Pierce.  He could never get over the edge with then-pal Antoine Walker, suffered several miserable years, was badly injured, and even, at one point, was stabbed eleven fucking times.  Did Pierce quit, give up, or run?  That’s not who he is.  Pierce stayed in Boston and waited for his team to improve.  Then, when the moment came, he seized it.  People can talk about KG and Shuttleworth all they want, but anyone who watched those games three years ago knew that it was Pierce who had the soul of the winner, that it was Pierce who put them all on his shoulders and made them champions: highlighted penultimately by his epic Game 7 mortal combat finish with Lebron in the Eastern Conference Finals.  With all three of these players, Jordan, Kobe, and Pierce, you can tell that they have It.  That Something that makes them great.  Lebron, for all his talent, doesn’t.

So where does that leave Chris Paul?

That’s the question isn’t it?  When healthy, there’s no dispute, other than from a few disgruntled Jazz fans, that CP3 is the best lead guard in the League.  Most would probably mark him down as a top-five NBA player.  But is he just one more injury away from being Tracy McGrady?  Is he a half-season of quitting away from being Vince Carter?  Or is he more like Kobe, the man who withstood the challenges to his primacy from those two players, and who pulled up those around him to win two straight championships?

Some people say Chris is a punk, who’s mean, and plays dirty.  Well, although few people other than Jeff Van Gundy said it at the time, it’s now generally acknowledged that Jordan was the same.  There’s a fine line between dirty and using all your tricks to get every advantage.  Ask Bruce Bowen about that.  I think, like Mike, Chris toes that line and is such an uber-competitor that he will resort to anything to get the W.  It’s what sets him apart.

Chris Paul does it all.  He can score, he can control the ball, he can appropriate it from the careless, and he can distribute the rock with an uncanny floor vision: an inversion of the NBA-expected dominant big man.  Most importantly, though, he’s always seemed to have It.  When Lebron has the ball in the last minute of games, I see a man who believes he is entitled to hit the game winner.  When I see Kobe do the same, I see death in his eyes: a man who wants to win more than he wants to score.  There’s a crucial difference between the two.  I see an intense look in Chris’ eyes at the ends of games.  Anyone who watched the first home game against the Nuggets last year got it; months after one of the worst Playoff drubbings every, Chris took over and had his revenge.  The man just would not be stopped.  It’s that Something that lets him take over games and his made him a star.  That edge earned him the nickname The Baby Faced Assassin.  Or, as the Chinese call him, Small Cannon.  Either way, the man is magic and will bring unparalleled talent no matter where he plays.  Which brings us full circle.

Personally, I hope the place he finds his greatness is New Orleans.  I hope that like Jordan, Kobe, and Pierce, Chris Paul decides to find his legacy within and not waste that efficacy by acquiescing to the myth that greatness can be found in aggregate desire.  Is staying in Nola what Chris wants, though?  Does he have the fortitude to lead his team to greatness?  Is that what is written in his soul, or does he just want to play which a bunch of sure things and duke it out with other sure things, the city that he saved be damned?  It’s what the Greeks would call an examination of Character.

One of the most moving moments in sports history is watching the high school game that Chris Paul dedicated to his grandfather.  You can find a video of it if you look.  It’ll send chills throughout you, even here in New Orleans in July.  In tribute to his 61-year-old grandfather who had just been murdered, an emotional Chris swore he’d score 61 points in a high school game.  That day, his will was supreme, and the words “obstacles” and “you cannot” held no meaning.  When CP finally hit the last shot to reach that sublime 61, he fell to the floor in ecstatic relief, which, in itself, is a cathartic experience, even vicariously; but, then, to watch Chris go to the free throw line and intentionally miss his shots?  It wasn’t about a scoring record or what college he’d get to play for the next year.  It wasn’t about him.  It was about a grandfather who had been his heart and soul.  That, I have always believed, is the day the world learned Chris Paul’s character.

So what, Chris, do you think your grandfather would say about your association with LRMR?  It’s not hard to see what they are.  That them, Leon Rose, and Worldwide Wes are all trying to tell you what to do to be a “better” investment, a better “character.”  But is that who you are?  A follower?  What happened to being the Savior of New Orleans?  Wasn’t that good enough?  Whatever you do, it should be you telling them how it is.  We’ve seen your character.  We know you can be great.  But you have to actualize that greatness, and not self-abnegate it.  With it, you can lead the Hornets to a championship.  Without it, you’ll just be that guy who scored a lot of points, made a lot of money, and disappointed a lot of people.

Your choice.

Well, for better or for worse, the Jeff Bower era is over in New Orleans.  It’s 2010, do you know where your general manager is?  No doubt Bower was a conservative force, but a prudent one too.  He brought in Tyson Chandler for almost nothing.  When it was obvious Tyson was hurt, he remedied a potential mistake in giving him back away, by getting Okafor for him.  People bitch, but Tyson played 51 games last year; Okafor 82.  Bower also made sure to lock down Chris Paul through at least 2012.  Oh, and he drafted those Collison and Thornton Kids, First and Second All-Rookie Team picks.  Plus, Quincy Pondexter and Craig Brackins looked pretty good this year in Vegas.

Was Bower a good coach?  Did he want to coach for longer than most of last season?  I thought so.  But it seemed Chris wanted it to go another way.  Regardless, him firing Byron was a tough call that had to be made.  Anyone watching our first 9 games knew that everyone but Chris had quit on Byron.  So let’s hope Bower getting the boot as coach or as GM had nothing to do with Chris.  Not because I care if CP feels that way, but because I don’t want my team giving into him.

Sure, I recognize CP is the greatest player the Hornets have ever seen.  But a team can’t just give a player everything he wants and expect him to respect it.  Look at the Cavaliers.  On the flip side, did the Lakers acquiesce to Kobe’s one-time trade demand, or his call to trade Bynum?  No, instead they told him to suit up and went and got Gasol.  Now, three more championships later, the Lakers’ GM, Mitch Kupchak, looks brilliant.

So the Hornets went out and got a Coach, one CP supposedly lobbied for over Bower’s choice of Tom Thibodeau.  Now they have a young GM from the Spurs organization, a team we keep hearing that Nola has modeled itself after.  So let’s hope those moves were made for the right reasons, because I’m already sick of the Era of the Lebrons.  In this modern era, it seems like too often it is all about what can be done easily, cheaply, fastly.  Spare no adverb.  Market big teams, play up their stars and start rumors of all small market stars jumping ship; easy revenue.  Can’t build a team of your own through trades and draft, just sign all the best players to the same team.  Why earn anything when you can be given it?  Why become a champion when you’re already King?

Unfortunately, the last question is what worries me most.  CP has joined forces with LRMR, Lebron’s management company, ditching his long-time agency, Octagon.  Not one person I’ve spoken to via any medium in existence has thought this a good move.  LRMR has only embarrassed themselves and Lebron this summer.  I’ve yet to hear from anyone that they were competent or have any idea what they are doing.  They are hangers-on of Lebron who are blowing through his money long enough to bamboozle, coerce, and sexually harass their way up the American corporate ladder.  I have my sources too, and none report anything good out of this camp.  Then, there are the media credentials snuffed by Lebron’s camp for bad press, and the dunk videos suppressed.  Are these are today’s role models for young kids?  Be friends with someone who is rich and act like you’re in a rap video.  But let’s berate those nerds who actually paid attention in class or had the audacity to go to college, or gasp, graduate school.  Those are the *gasp* “academic elite.”  Yeah, let’s put down people that work on their brains as much as NBAers work on their bodies and game.  Too bad we don’t respect those people as much as professional athletes.

Anywho, CBS is reporting Chris Paul has played his last game as a Hornet.  So say “people close to him.”  Close how?  His mother?  His cousin?  His mailman?  The guy he met at Barnes & Noble?  It says he wants to go to the Magic, Lakers, or Knicks.  Unsurprisingly, the article also mentions LRMR as a reason he will “fight his way out of New Orleans.”  Weird, yesterday’s Times Picayune, said that Chris was “likes the current changes under way.”  This only highlights how much the CBS article is pure speculation, which, of course, is all the media is anymore.  Gone are the days of objective journalism.  Whether you’re FoxNews, MSNBC, CNN, whatever, you’re more likely to hear about Paris Hilton than genocide in Somalia.  You’re also not as likely to hear the pros or cons of President Obama’s policies as much as one channel will tell you he’s a Nazi-Socialist guarded by liberal elites, while the other will tell you he’s a brilliant consensus-bringer that has majority support and is hampered by feet-dragging bottom-feeders.  It’s like the world’s controlled by some evil genius who controls all information in a plot to make us all dumber.  All I want is CP back on the court doing his thing.  Is that so much?  I mean, can we leave the gossip alone and talk about how he’s preparing, how is injury recovery is coming, what strategy he’s talked over with Coach Williams?  Let me know.

If you don’t know, New Orleans is an extremely loyal town, but we’re also extremely protective.  We know what we have, we love what we have, and we protect it against all who would take it away from us or disparage it.  We love our cultural icons, whether Huey Long, Louis Armstrong, or Marie Laveau.  Take now the Saints’ Drew Brees?  He’s a permanent hero.  A Super Bowl Champion.  Brees and Co. are also useful in the NBA context, proving the glaring lie that most media outlets have espoused this summer: Chris Paul must leave because New Orleans can’t support a world champion.  Um, February?  Saints?  Super Bowl?  Ring a bell?  I’m finding it harder to be a gentleman.  In fairness, though, Brees came here after being rejected by his former team.  He had his chip.  Chris’ has always been being picked after other guards, being told he was too small.  He used those things to push him.  But does he need to feel the love from some other team too?  I hope not.  Look at the greats before you, CP: Russell, Magic, Bird, Jordan, Kobe, Pierce.  All their legacies are defined by playing for a single team.  Learn from them, not Lebron.

I say show us something, Chris.  Prove to us you can win anywhere.  Jason Kidd’s been to two Finals.  Nash has been to the Conference Finals three times.  They both have you.  Prove you’re the best floor leader in the League.  Show us you’re the best on the floor, show us you have the desire to win because it’s inside you, and that you don’t need to find it in some symbiotic celebrity collage.  Michael didn’t need Magic.  Magic didn’t need Bird.  And you don’t need whoever.  You have David West.  You have Peja.  You have Marcus Buckets.  No, they’re not Wade, Bosh, or Lebron.  But Michael had Pippen and Grant; Rodman and Kukoc.  Magic had Worthy and Scott.  This team, if it stays healthy, can compete.  The world has forgotten, but David West carried this team at times, as did Peja; but when injuries piled up, the results were mediocre.  But with a healthy Chris Paul et al., the Hornets can contend.  We just need CP3 to be out there giving it his all, instead of worrying about getting out of his contract.  So, Chris, leave LRMR at the door and show us your heart.  Or did choosing LRMR show us precisely that?  I hope not.

Bower built this team.  He built it to win.  That’s why @snavetrebor calls him Bower Robotnik; he’s an evil genius, planning on worldwide domination.  Y’all reading this post can look at the pictures above and tell me if they are one and the same.  But my real question is whether this Hornets team be Bower’s legacy, or that of the Lebrons?  That is, will this team built to win now disintegrate in the wake of a selfish star demanding a trade?  CBS thinks so.  But I’ll believe it when I see it.  As for now, it’s all conjecture and madness.  Come fall, I think Chris Paul will remind the world why he should have gotten an MVP award before Lebron.  I think he’ll show the world what 50+ wins looks like.  And he’ll do it in a Hornets uniform.  Book it.

  • So Darren Collison is leaving Vegas? Too bad. Thornton looked like he was forcing a lot of shots without him to penetrate last night. Our team will probably beast on everyone a little less than expected.
  • Quincy Pondexter is quite the multi-tasker, isn’t he? Nice shot, nice aggressiveness, nice muscle, nice energy. He’s put together two straight nice games. Julian Wright should be worried. Right now this kid looks more deserving of his minutes.
  • CON: Brackins pulled down zero rebounds last night. But he did eventually dunk, toward the end of last night’s game. I was so excited to see him in the post I thought I was hallucinating.
  • PRO: Monty Williams, on Brackins’ game: “Playing that many minutes without a rebound is not something that we will put up with.” BWAHA! I like this guy already.
  • Kevin McHale thinks that David West doesn’t have a post game. No wonder Kevin McHale is no longer coaching…
  • Did anyone see Nellie at Friday night’s game? He looked totally drunk or stoned or both.
  • Lawrence Frank is now my new favorite thing on NBA TV. After the game, he insinuated with an entirely straight face that Nellie was drunk, so I know it wasn’t just me who thought that. How’d I miss this guy? He’s much more suited to being on my TV than being with the Nets anyway.
  • I like this Kyle Hines kid. He plays like he’s much bigger than 6-6. Think the Hornets will give him a camp invite? (Don’t know where he would play… he’s a 4. But he’s way undersized. And we already have all these undersized power forwards. But it doesn’t hurt to ask him to camp.)
  • Hornets signed Aaron Gray. Guess that means they don’t need the Dude With the Aaron Gray Hair (Sonderleiter). They already have the real one.
  • I think the people who harp on Thornton’s defense are just parroting stuff Byron Scott used to say and not really watching him. He is both fiesty and fast, plus he crashes the boards with abandon down there among the tall trees. I think 5 out of his 6 rebounds last night were on the defensive end. He’s not as long as some other guys, but he works hard.
  • In fact he outrebounded everyone on the team… this says more about them than about him, however.
  • I did think Lil Buckets was lazy on O last night, however. Every time he tried to involve others, they dropped the ball or something. Lazy or frustrated, couldn’t tell. He took a bazillion poor fadeaway jumpers. Still shot 7-14 though, which is 50% so it can’t be as bad as I remember it being. But those two missed FTs probably lost the game for the Hornets.
  • David Thorpe: “One of my lasting memories of this week will be Marcus Thornton ferociously attacking the rim the way a tiger  goes after a deer. He makes an angry face and blows to the hole.  If he was 6’6, he’d be an all-star.  As it is, he’s a terrific NBA player.” This should be on Thornton’s bulletin board.
  • That Wheeler guy has brown hair on the sides with a yellow stripe on top. @LSUHornet17 described it best when he said, “It’s like a mohawk made purely out of hair dye.” Haha.
  • Hornets had a late lead in both games and somehow managed to lose anyway. #rookiecloserfail
  • I think we need a Summer League Drinking Game. Therefore, when Brackins finally gets a rebound on Tuesday night, let’s all do a shot! If he gets two, do another one! … Don’t worry, you won’t get that shitcanned. Trust me. (If you’re reading this, rook: prove me wrong! Get us all drunk! Do it!)

On Our Hero Chris Paul, a final word:

We’ve all seen the various media reports and various goings-on of the past couple of weeks. Man, I want to think the best of Chris Paul. I want to continue to see him and Drew Brees as New Orleans’ heroes. I want him to play here for a long time, and I want to make trades this year to get some great players alongside him. But… it is really hard for me to feel the same way about a player if he has one foot out the door. Maybe we’re into “It’s not you, it’s me” territory. Maybe that’s my mental block. I don’t have a problem with putting pressure on our front office… they’ve been pretty conservative, although to be fair, at the moment the salary cap won’t really allow them to be anything but.

NOLA isn’t a place that’s going to take kindly to you, though, if you’re gonna flirt with other cities for two years. I’m also a bit disappointed that CP didn’t choose to distance himself from the shitstorm of a backlash that’s hitting LeBron and his crew right now. I still don’t think we should trade him under any circumstances, as long as there’s a chance to win with him. And I don’t believe he will pull a Baron Davis and pretend to be hurt, or any of that nonsense. As I said, I really, really want to think the best of this guy who’s been so great to New Orleans up to this point. But do I have the same unwavering faith in him that I had a month ago? No. It’s like how you can sometimes sense a breakup coming, so you start picking fights and distancing yourself before it happens. I hope Chris Paul has the ability to step away from his friendship from LeBron James, just for a moment, objectively, and see how some of his friend’s behavior in the last two years was inappropriate and inconsiderate. Not the person, the behavior. They’re not the same thing. (Or are they? Are we who we say we are, or are we our choices? Something to think about.)

Anyway, I hope he continues to be the upstanding person and representative for New Orleans we have known him to be. I would never want to lose that Chris Paul.

Having one of those right now.

Paul joins LeBron’s marketing “company” (oh fine, I may have been, um, editorializing a bit there with the quotes)

Don’t make the mistake of underestimating this: it’s epically bad for New Orleans. This is the beginning of a dark spiral of bullshit, betrayal, hype, empty drama, diva behavior, leaks, “anonymous sources in Chris Paul’s camp”, and rumors that leads nowhere good. I’m not trying to be Cassandra here, but… start preparing yourselves.

More later, I guess. I’m too disappointed right now.

Hat tip to @LSUHornet17 for the link to this radio interview on WIST 690 AM by Hornets President Hugh Weber. He addresses Chris Paul and the ownership transfer, and he does it much better than the official statement from George Shinn did yesterday.

I definitely recommend you check it out.

I would listen to it again and transcribe the interesting bits, but I was so annoyed by the chunk in the middle where he blames the Chris Paul rumors on “bloggers in the basement in their pajamas writing at midnight” that I can’t bring myself to. In fact, you can expect a scathing post in response when the draft is over.

Mr. Weber, I went to war for this team yesterday on Twitter. Both At the Hive and Hornets 247 cover your team with a depth of statistical knowledge that vastly, vastly surpasses both the local paper and the mainstream national sports media. Who, by the way, were 100% responsible for the creation and perpetuation of the Chris Paul rumors that, if you bothered to look at all, your local bloggers were savvy enough to scoff at immediately. I know all this “new media” is scary, but we’re not your enemy. And we certainly know your team better than Chad Ford and Bill freaking Simmons.

I’m sorry you don’t know it.

So I kind of lost it this afternoon. Although I should note that the thing that sent me over the edge, a throwaway reference in this post to “all that stuff with Katrina” in the list of reasons why Chris Paul would want to leave New Orleans, has since been removed by the author. And he apologized for it. Which is greatly appreciated, since Katrina a) happened before Chris Paul ever played in the NBA, and b) doesn’t really have anything to do with the failure of George Shinn to build the Hornets into a winner in the last 25 years. But I think I am going to post my Twitter rant anyway, to preserve it for history’s sake. I wasn’t exaggerating about most of the things I said.

Um. You should be aware that this rant contains profanity, much of it of the FYYFF variety (for those who aren’t aware of the reference).

I fucking hate people. RT @LSUhornet17: So now CP wants to leave b/c of Hurricane Katrina 5 years ago. Awesome bit of journalism right there

“All that stuff with Katrina” … I don’t know what article @LSUhornet17 is reading but I am so angry I can’t see straight. Fuck you.

You thought that was me angry before? No. THIS IS ANGRY.

I am on the verge of a rant after which no one will be left alive, in the post-apocalyptic dustballs-blowing bombed-out landscape of DEATH

I guess Katrina prevented the Saints from being champions. I guess Katrina means we don’t deserve to watch sports like the rest of the US

Never mind that Katrina happened before Chris Paul played a single minute of NBA basketball.

To some of us Katrina is more than a throwaway line or a card you toss out to be CUTE and get traffic. Shame shame shame and fuck you.

[ half an hour later] I’ll have you know I was NOT finished. My blackberry died.

I am not OK with people who make a living out of being abstract, edgy, and “conscious” when it suits them….

… yet can throw out a line like “all that Katrina stuff” glibly. It smacks of hipster douchiness to me. Re: Shoals’ Fanhouse post.

And it’s all about the individual now, about ourselves? A team can’t mean something? Just a player’s “Greatness”

If this is what comes of “liberated fandom” someone f-ed up. By all accounts the guys on that 07-08 team LOVED being part of something

The Saints LOVED being a part of something. And there was ESPN every step of the way shitting on them like a massive big-market circle jerk

Whoever sent me the Chad Ford thing just now? He can fuck himself too. “Any franchise that considers trading CP should be contracted…” [It turns out Bill Simmons was involved in this epic douchery too. Imagine my not-surprise.]

Well no fucking shit. So wait. You start a rumor. You perpetuate a rumor. And then you shit on a team for what YOU did/said. CIRCLE. JERK.

But yeah, let’s ask the Saints how “all that Katrina stuff” (In this day & age. In an actual legit post. Jesus Christ) ruined their careers

Me, me, me. Y’all want Chris Paul to be another LeBron? Is that it? A guy who by all accounts LOVES volunteering in this city & being part of the recovery?

Is that what you want? Would that make you happy? Really? Really?

I mean, do what makes you happy. For “art”. Well, art without context is just fucking paint, Shoals.

THAT’S why I hate LeBron. Because his chance to mean something, to transcend, *is* Cleveland. And he’s too blind to see it.

Maybe I’m a little emotional right now. Coming from writing this http://bit.ly/c1mjoM a couple days ago to “All that Katrina stuff.”

But god DAMN, I watch sports because of the chance it has to be more. The chance a player has to be more. And you all are making it cheap.

And I guess that’s all I have to say.

Hissssssssssssssssssssssss. (That wasn’t anything. That was just me hissing wordlessly at the people I am telling to f themselves.)

I wrote Chad Ford a letter saying all the cool NBA people think ESPN is not viable as a station. Everyone who knows ANYTHING knows it. [This is in reference to the transcript linked above in which he said "I've had a lot of NBA guys tell me there's no way a pro team can thrive in New Orleans"]

I would reply to more people, but being a part of the larger stream of humanity other than myself and my money RUINS MY GREATNESS.

So yeah. Do me a favor. If anyone else writes or says anything on TV about how New Orleans isn’t deserving of Chris Paul’s greatness, just… don’t… tell… me.

Chris Paul Brings Da Ruckus

By on March 22, 2010

[Intro: Shogun Stern]

Hornets shadowboxing and the Chris Paul ball style
If what you say is true, the Hornets and Chris Paul could be dangerous

[Intro: Bower Robotnik]

Do you think Big D’s Carlisle-style can defeat us?
En garde, We’ll let them try our Hornets’ style

[Chorus: Buckets and Dimes da Fleur de Bee]

Bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus
Bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus
Bring da mother, bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus
Bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus

[Verse: CP3]
Grief Merchant, catch the blast of my hype verse
Speed bursts, I leave ‘em in a hearse, I’ve done worse
I come rough, tough like basketball leather
Make your head rush and ankle snap, not so clever
Aw shit, Chris Paul clan spark the comeback
Over Big-D, quick cross-over like Magic,
Causin’ terror, my stare’ll damage your whole line-up
J-Kidd got locked the fuck up and left tryin’ to flop
Hornets style, hazardous ’cause we wreck this dangerous
I score points at this like Drew Brees and Reggie Bush.

[Verse: D-West]

I watch my back like I’m locked down
Hardcore bumpin’ low, watch me pick and roll and tear it down
A literate-type balla, double-double, no doubt
You watch all those corny Mavs’ playas fold
Yeah, they flop and all that, earnin’ stats,
But yo, my clan’s rollin’ like thirteen Killa Bees
Now your act contrived, I guess it makes sense
Chris Paul, his play’s sweeeeeeeeeeet, represent
I wait for Nowtiski to act up
Now I got him backed up; slap to his face now, react, what?
Meanwhile that’s one in the basket
Chris Paul tasked it, and I got 36 ways to jack it.

[Chorus: Buckets and Dimes da Fleur de Bee]

Bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus
Bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus
Bring da mother, bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus
Bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus

[Verse: Peja 13]

I rip shots hardcore like porno-flick bitches
Rollin’ with a team of ballas with mad riches
Check it, my method on the ballcourt’s bangin’
Hornets floor moves leave your mouthpiece hangin’
Bust this, I’m shootin’ like Seagal in Lawman, can’t miss,
The roughness, yes, the rudeness and ruckus
Redrum, I athletically assault with the hot hand
Murder-one – my style shot your knot like a machine-gun
I’m hectic, I wreck it with the quickness,
Pass the rock, and da competition get blown
By this nasty-ass playa – Lil’ Buckets will own you,
Chargin’ like a bull and bringin’ the ruckus
He be bad, ragin’ up the floor with the fab, no crab
Dribble drive, I scream on your ass: “bring it on…”

[Chorus: Buckets and Dimes da Fleur de Bee]

Bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus
Bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus
Bring da mother, bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus
Bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus

[Verse: Oak]
Yo, I’m more rugged than my Bobcats roots
Our new recruits and me fuckin’ up invading troops
I break loops and trample fools while I stomp
A mudhole in that ass, cause I’m straight out the swamp,
Creepin’ up on Nola, now it’s Ladies Night for us
And my Hornets’ style is mad fuckin’ dangerous
More deadly than the stroke of an axe
Choppin’ through outstretched arms, *swish*
Givin’ bystanders heart-attack harm
Playas try to flip, tell me who is at the 5, him?
I blow up his fuckin’ zone, make it a vicious act of terrorism
You wanna bring it, so fuck it
Come on and bring the ruckus
I provoke players to make buckets
I’m makin’ ‘em wet, but I ain’t sweatin’ my fame
Who’s sellin’ gain, I’m dishin’ out a deadly game
It’s not the Mavericks, it’s the Chris Paul hip-hop roulette
Slip up and get played like a sucka at the net.

[Chorus: Buckets and Dimes da Fleur de Bee]

Bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus
Bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus
Bring da mother, bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus
Bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus

[Outro: Aaron the Incredible Bulk]

So bring it on…
So bring it on…
So bring it on…
Punk ballas.

Save Us

By on March 21, 2010

Chris Paul warms up Thursday before the Denver game

Chris Paul warms up Thursday before the Denver game

I give up. Just come back, Chris. We need you. I know it’s too late for the playoffs. I know, wah wah wah, every game we win we could drop a spot in the lottery (oh no! the difference between the 12th and 14th pick might mean the destruction of the franchise’s future!). But do this for the fans.

Give us something to watch. Even if it’s just one last week or two of something great.

Update: How imminent is imminent? Monday night or Wednesday night?

Update to the Update: Planets crash. Worlds end. DeShazier and I agree 100% on something.

In person, this looked like he was hugging him around the waist

In person, this looked like he was hugging him around the waist. It was heart-warming and stuff.

Besides this picture.

  • Aaron “BIG NASTY” Gray and his random yet masterful D-ing up of Dwight Howard in the Hornets win over the Magic on Friday
  • The Hornets giving away a prize a day this month, which you’re eligible for if you renew your season tickets (oh all right, fine, the reason this is on this list is because I won something…)
  • Marcus Thornton’s game-icing three on Friday. Everyone had already risen to their feet before he took the shot. It was a moment! It was fun!
  • D West’s 40-10 game. Mr. West is in the building! (for people who don’t come to home games, this is the sound clip that plays after every D West bucket… this is its first season. At first I didn’t like it but it’s sort of grown on me. His prior clip was “Wake up, Mr. West-est-est!” Good thing we have Kanye around to provide D West with all his nice beats.)
  • Darren Collison’s last 5 games: 24.2 pts/7.6 ast in 43 minutes (43! Oof… CP! Come back!)
  • Marcus Thornton’s last 5 games: 22.6 pts/4.8 reb/shooting 49% from the field (seriously) and 43% from three in 32 minutes. Can we please please please put more emphasis on per minutes stats instead of points per game? The Buckets Monster is crazy good at what he does (get buckets) and his stats still look like crap from all those games early in the year when he got 5 minutes of garbage time. Boo.
  • Crazy comebacks! This team doesn’t die.
  • Myself and mW went to a Hornets season ticketholder dinner on Thursday and Jeff Bower told us that CP is “one to three weeks” away from returning. He’s shooting and riding the bike right now and progressing well in his therapy. Chris Paul himself, when interviewed by ESPN last night, said he doesn’t plan to come back until he’s “110%, because of the style of ball I play.” Let’s hope he’s smart about this!
  • THE MARDI GRAS BABY IS GONE! It wasn’t at the game Friday.
  • Last night I had a totally weird dream that was probably the result of playing Mass Effect 2 all afternoon and then watching basketball: I dreamed that, while scanning a planet, we unlocked an upgrade that would turn Darren Collison into Chris Paul. Now I’m all fascinated by what kind of an upgrade that would be… “Sticky Gloves — your Shepard holds onto the ball better for 30% less turnovers.” “Prothean Visor– plus 15% to court vision.” “Mental Quickness Implant– you are now a veteran, working the refs in a craftier manner for a 10% free throw bonus to your entire team.” Oh, the possibilities! (Wow, I need to stop gaming… just kidding, no I don’t…)

My non-favorite thing about this week/weekend was the losing. Boo losing. It ruins everyone’s fun. Let’s not do it anymore.