You Look Marvelous!!!

Billy Crystal couldn’t have been more correct. Marv Albert is still the best around. Having him call the first two terrific games of this Celtic/Knicks playoff series is a real treat, one that we should appreciate while we can. At one point, Marvelous compared Carmelo Anthony’s Herculean effort in Game 2 (42 points, 17 rebounds, and 6 assists) to that of all time New York Knickerbocker great Bernard King. I thought Anthony played his absolutely butt off last night (see 17 rebounds) which was very refreshing because basketball needs it biggest stars to be its hardest workers (see Kobe, Lebron, & Wade). A big part of me feels however that Melo thrives as the “lone wolf” and will continue to demand the ball/disrupt the Knicks offense even when Amare and Chauncey return from injury.

The second great Marv moment from last night came late in the 4th quarter when New York was forced to play a unit that consisted of Roger Mason Jr., Bill Walker, Jared Jeffries, and Toney Douglas. Albert said that if this were a pickup game people would not believe that the two sides were chosen fairly. The talent discrepancy was monumental but the Knicks STILL had a chance to win it if Mike D’Antoni actually knew how to properly diagram a play coming out of a timeout.

With a 2-0 series lead, the Celtics and their fans can exhale as they travel down the Metro North corridor to MSG for games 3 and 4. Serious concerns remain for this Boston team however especially given their age and lack of depth. Why was Paul Pierce guarding Carmelo down the stretch when Jeff Green was brought to Boston with the tacit understanding that he would be guarding the best SF/SG on the opposing team?

view from the TD Banknorth Garden courtesy of @eli_marcus

Carmelo Anthony is One Big Piece of Interpretive Art

They’re not tattoos, they’re skin illustrations! Don’t you EVER call them tattoos! – Rod Steiger, The Illustrated Man

For any of you who watch the New York Knicks with the same level of voracity as I do—or if you’re planning on watching their opening round series against the Celtics— you are bound to be fascinated by what Carmelo Anthony has peeking out from behind his #7 jersey.  From lurid flames, to rubbery basketballs, to macabre spiderwebs, his skin illustrations seem to be everywhere.  I have done some digging, and, as far as I can tell, what follows is the world’s first critical analysis of the mercurial Knicks’ swingman’s body art.  Just don’t call them tattoos.

“I Shall Fear No Man” (Back)

The largest of Melo’s illustrations– one he shares with former teammate Kenyon Martin– this phrase is embedded on a large gothic cross, which covers the majority of his back.  The origin of this mantra can be traced to the late Tupac Shakur’s “So Many Tears”, an ode to his fallen colleagues.  Some say that Shakur himself was inspired by a biblical verse from Hebrews, Chapter 13.  Wherever he got it from, Anthony seems to derive strength from it, especially when deriding an opposing bench or not playing defense.

“No Struggle No Progress” (Neck)

This one is worn like a collar and is visible, from certain angles, on the court.  A theme that will continue to crop up in this analysis is Anthony’s insistence on not using punctuation.  Personally, I think this one would be a lot more powerful with a comma in the middle.  And maybe a period at the end would lend an air of finality to it?  As it reads, though, we can all commiserate with the “Struggle” here.  Whether it’s his Struggle to lose those last 15 pounds, the Struggle to finish a baseline drive in traffic, or simply the Struggle of dealing with all the Haters, I feel you, Melo.  I do.

“WB” (left shoulder)

Ah, yes, the most famous of all the illustrations.  Most readers might find it, at the very least, amusing that a superstar athlete has the Warner Brothers logo drawn just inside of his left shoulder.  Melo maintains (he does!) that the “WB” in question represents his roots in West Baltimore.  But wait, I thought he was was New York City? How can you call two cities “home”? Melo, you’ve got some explaining to do.

“Who Can I Trust” (right biceps)

This one is just downright confusing.  Is he asking a question or making a statement here?  It can’t be a question, again, because of the lack of proper punctuation.  So he must be announcing who he can trust.  Possibly, this is an unfinished work, and he will soon add a list of the people who he can trust.  Like: former Denver teammate Chris Anderson, new wife LaLa Vazquez, president Barack Obama, and, possibly, media conglomerate Oprah Winfrey.

“Live Now Die Later” (right elbow)

This is either an aphorism by which Anthony lives each day like it might be his last, or a nod to Dr. Patterson Stark, a cancer survivor whose book, “Live Now, Die Later”, (StarkHealth Publishing) recounts a life-threatening battle with cancer and how the fight changed his outlook on living.  My guess is the former.  The latter, after all, has a comma.

A Large, Flaming Basketball with the initials “CA” protruding (right shoulder)

The most prominent of the game-visible illustrations, this one seems to announce that Carmelo Anthony’s mere initial have the strange ability to cause normally stable basketballs to combust.  Variations of this theme are echoed in some common sports vernacular, like “He’s on fire!” Can I also just mention here how tired I am with athletes and their body flames?  It’s time for someone to man up and try something new, like some mean-looking snow or a menacing gust of wind.

A bulldog backed by playing cards (Left arm)

Your guess is as good as mine!  I know—hilarious!  Is he claiming to be a bulldog, the traditional western embodiment of persistence, perseverance, fortitude?  Is he?!  Where would these traits would show themselves on the court for Melo?  On defense, where he’s always willing to body up the opposition’s leading scorer?  Uh, no.  So maybe he’s a bulldog in the tirelessness manner with which he hoists shots at the goal?  That’s sounds about right.  Now the cards; those are definitely for cross-country flights and Booray!, the fickle game responsible for many a young cager’s demise.

So there it is.  Now, when you watch the Knicks and Celtics wage war, you’ll have more of an idea of the thoughtfulness, depth, and, yes, even pain with which New York’s gladiator approaches his battlefield.

view from the TD Banknorth Garden courtesy of @AaronGallagher

Jesus Shuttlesworth Broke a NBA Record

The TD Banknorth Center was witness to history tonight as Ray Allen passed Reggie Miller as the NBA’s all time leader in career 3 pointers.  It was a nice moment for Ray and his family as the entire arena celebrated his accomplishment between the 1st and 2nd quarters.  Pretty cool for a guy who might be best known for either his Big East showdown vs Allen Iverson and the Georgetown Hoyas or his star turning role as Jesus Shuttlesworth in Spike Lee’s He Got Game.

The game itself, between the Celtics and the Lakers, was all that fans could have hoped for between two of the leagues best.  I love that both teams wore retro uniforms and warmups. I am somewhat disappointed that the Celtics didn’t go with these vintage beauties from when Larry Bird was dominating the 3 point shooting contest. Is it really true that Bird would keep his warmups on throughout the contest because he was so confident he would win that it didn’t matter what he wore? That’s how legends are made.

views of the TD Banknorth Garden courtesy of @Rose_KG and @Cravenfan

Take Out the Garbage

In a battle between two NHL bubble teams trying to find themselves, the Bruins laid an egg and made Jonas Hiller and the “no longer Mighty” Ducks look like world beaters. Hiller stopped 45 Bruins shots, at times looking like Dominik Hasek in his prime. The Bruins danced like they had lead weights tied to their skates and, in all honesty, the Ducks were the beneficiaries of some fortunate puck bounces into their sticks on the first two goals.

The real fireworks came in the 3rd period with 3 minutes left to go when a youngish, barely five foot tall “lady” straight out of the Ecklund household decided to vault over her seat in the row behind me, swinging fists wildly at a “gentleman” behind her with whom she had been having an animated conversation only moments earlier. About two minutes, 8 combatants, 6+ police and security guards, a couple broken Rene Rancournaments, one bloody eye socket and the fight was over. My buddy Derek and I hoped that the woman who initiated the yard-sale would not get off the hook on account of her feeble “self-defense” claims.

This incident begs the question that I must admit makes me uncomfortable to ask: are hockey fans somehow different? Do they possess a certain distasteful joie de vivre that reflects poorly on the sport? No, wait, Jets fans are the same way. Nevermind.

Share your views.

NBA Basketball: Where’s Our “Code”?

In light of Charlie Villanueva’s accusation that during  Tuesday nights Pistons/Celtics game Kevin Garnett called him a “cancer patient”, people are disappointed, but perhaps not surprised, that a basketball star like KG would trash talk using such an insensitive/ignorant remark.  If Garnett did in fact say what he is accused of saying then his actions are indefensible.  If true, it’s also likely that Garnett himself wishes he could take it back.

The bigger issue is that some people, athletes/journalists/fans, believe that this incident should have never reached the airwaves.  They think Villanueva should have stuck to the “code” and kept his tweeting mouth shut or dealt with it on the court during the game.  According to the “code”, or unspoken agreement between professional athletes, what happens during a game, between the lines so to speak, stays in the game. Some believe that Villanueva broke this unspoken bond when he tweeted that Garnett called him a “cancer patient”.  But should this “code” even exist in sports?  To me, the “code” is nothing more than a built in excuse used to mask bad behavior which then creates a damaging double standard between athletes and the fans who pay to watch them play.

The “code” is not real life. In the real world, there are consequences for your actions.  The lack of accountability that the “code” promotes amongst athletes only fosters the sense of entitlement which could drive the casual fan away from professional sports. Do all of us say things to colleagues that we hope remain private? Yes, absolutely.  But if our actions and words are made public we really have no one to blame but ourselves.  Same should be true for athletes.  Share your views.