Monday, May 10, 2010

Write or Be Written

Long has the adage floated around that those who win the war write the history books. I wonder if that saying exists in Great Britain. Or in Japan. Or anywhere that has very publicly lost a war. My guess is there isn't a phrase for that in German and that it only works in American English where we have a sparkling record in battle...or at least completely unwilling to admit defeat. Therein lies the point. No matter what happens, we write the history. We decide what we will remember.

The NBA is no different than American History. Players decide how their legacy will be written. At no other time during the NBA season are there more words being poured into the history books. Just ask First Round Tracy how important the playoffs are to NBA History. This year has been no exception to the rule. There are players who are actively writing and re-writing their legacy on the court. On the other side of the coin, there are players who are passively letting their history be edited like a bunch of college freshman who just realized anyone can edit a wikipedia page. Its not win or go home, its write or be written.

The Writers
This is not a comprehensive list, but rather a small selection of players who have done more for reshaping our memory of them than anyone else.

Steve Nash
We already knew he was tough and that he made his teammates better. But we weren't sure he could carry his team. We didn't know if he was wired with a "get on my back and I'll make sure we walk away with a win" chip. Turns out he is. I thought he was crazy wen he re-signed with Phoenix for four more years. I thought Amare would be an idiot to hitch his wagon to a 36 year old white guy who will have to guard the quickest players in the league. I was certain there were a number of better opportunities for Nash where he could push hard for two years for a title and have a better supporting cast. Turns out I was wrong. No matter how the Lakers series turns out, I will never again say that Nash didn't deserve those two MVPs.

Grant Hill
Take note all you twilight-of-your-career-stars who still think they need 20 shots a game and enough touches to get into a rhythm even though they no longer have the physical ability to require even a single team, let alone a double team. Grant Hill has effectively gone from aged, former star to defensive stopper and effective role player on a winning team. Just ask Jerryd Bayless how efective he has been.

Deron Williams
He has played in the the second round or later in nearly everyone of his NBA seasons, yet judging by the kind things being said about him, you would think this was his first trip to the playoffs. The only thing he has done differently this year is break Chris Paul's knee. Its working.

The Being Written
This is not a comprehensive list, but rather a small selection of players who have done very little to help themselves.

Remember Oliver Miller? I do, but only because Shaq is a glaring, constant reminder. He obviously didn't take any notes from Grant Hill during his 18 months in Phoenix.

LeBron James
He is doing exactly what everybody knows he is capable of, except he has to do it every moment of every game. How does this not help our view of him and shouldn't it be more about his teammates? Yes they are to blame for their disappearing act but consider this: if a home-schooled child never learns to read, is it his fault or his parents? LeBron is the parent in this case and his teammates are the illiterate children. Any sign of trouble and LeBron immediately takes over. He can't sit back idly while his teammates struggle through words like "rebound", "defense" or "make an open shot". Of course we enjoy watching him dominate and I can only image Mo Williams does too. He has just become to accustomed to it happening. Same for Side-Show Bob, Grand Theft West, Sheldon Williams's brother-in-law and ABC's in-studio analyst for the 2010-2011 season Mike Brown.

Andrei Kirilenko
A couple years ago, AK "threatened" to walk away from the NBA. Then someone must have told him how many Rubles equals one million Dollars. He had a mini-renaissance for about 3/4 of the season before returning to Siberia.

Joe Johnson
He must really be looking forward to that max contract with the Nets. He will then really see what its like when fans don't show up. He wil have to drop the "e" from Joe in order to fit in, but thats a small price to pay for the max contract badge of honor.

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