Tuesday, October 26, 2010

2010 Season Preview Minnesota Timberwolves

It's time for the Love in the Time of LeBron 2010 Season Team Previews. You know how we do. Next up, the lovable loser, the Minnesota Timberwolves

A Terrible Team With A Ton Of Potential

Why We Care
We shouldn't. Despite New Jersey's nearly historically terrible record, Minnesota was clearly the worst team in the league last year. They were worse than the Nets, and that says something. That said, we feel optimism. There is something about bottoming out that makes it feel like things have to get better. Kevin Love has all the talent in the world and his break-out seems inevitable. We're bullish on a Beasley bounce-back and honestly expect a blossoming at the Minnesota wings. Wayne Ellington is a sentimental favorite around these parts, and he seems primed to make that big second-year jump in a dramatic passion. I love watching teams get better, and I think it would be hard for the Timberwolves to be worse.

Significant Beards
Maurice Ager: Landing strip. Clearance refused.
Michael Beasley: Hanging goatee. Why bother?
Corey Brewer: Stubbly and shadowy. Charming.
Wayne Ellington: Magiciany little ‘stache and goatee. Both really need to disappear in a puff of smoke.
Lazar Haywood: Standard but successful goatee. Approved.
Kevin Love: The most earnest goatee ever.
Sebastian Telfair: Scraggly... yet completely flat. How? Why?
Martell Webster: Underchin patch. Sweat-catcher?

Guiding Text
Pale Fire

If They Were A Terrible Sports Franchise They Would Be...
The Minnesota Timberwolves

LeBron on the Timberwolves
The counted the ballots one at a time. Taking each one out of the box and reading them aloud. Kevin diligently put a mark next to the appropriate name on the whiteboard in the back of the room. There were three whiteboards in the room. The one on the front had a diagrammed play. The one one on the side of the room was laid out into a grid, an elaborate scouting report, lovingly prepared by some assistant who put great care into his handwriting. The players seldom read the board scouting report, preferring, when they read the reports at all, to look at a hard copy. The paper reports are quite good, but the board report has a graphical aspect to it that’s compelling: the different colored markers providing an extra dimension of represented knowledge. The handwriting was truly lovely.

Michael had three votes now. LeBron couldn’t understand it. He still only had the one: he saw the slip; it was his own handwriting. He didn’t get it. Kurt just stood on impassively. This was happening. There was a looping quality to the handwriting on the board: not extra flourishes but an overall tendency towards curves over lines. The letters were still thin, though the lines seemed thick. Kevin was saying something now. LeBron knew he should pay attention, but he didn’t. Couldn’t. It didn’t matter. Focusing takes a lot, and you can focus for years and never achieve anything but strain. Kevin’s words were just meaningless noise. He could hear them, if they chose, but they still wouldn’t have any meaning.

Rosetta Stone
This pretty much explains it.

2010 Season Preview: Milwaukee Bucks

It's time for the Love in the Time of LeBron 2010 Season Team Previews. You know how we do. Next up, the most fearsome deer, the Milwaukee Bucks

Very Fun Team On the Rise

Why We Care
A healthy Andrew Bogut is the second best center in the NBA and Brandon Jennings once scored 55 points in three quarters. Corey Maggette is also a wonder of the world with his uncanny ability to draw shooting fouls. Other than that... Well, okay: I get that it's hard to get pumped up by Ersan Ilyasova, Carlos Delfino, Michael Redd, and John Salmons. That said, these guys can all play basketball, and with Bogut and Jennings, this team is totally capable of beating anybody on a given night. This is a team on the verge. If Bogut can stay healthy and make the leap or if Jennings can go nova and not look back, this team is as talented as any other single-star based team in the league.

Significant Beards
Andrew Bogut: Thorny tangle. Chin valiantly breaks through.
Carlos Delfino: Mysterious beard, bold soul patch.
Chris Douglas: Sassy goatee. Commendable.
Drew Gooden: Sad Rasputin reincarnated in Milwaukee.
Ersan Illyasova: Underchin goatee. Has a slippery face.
Brandon Jennings: Pointy beard, hair. Impressive symmetry.
Corey Maggette: Very sculptural. Possibly a half-pipe.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute: Long name, tiny beard.
Michael Redd: Maybe too safe. Live a little.
John Salmons: Living too much. Chin-fro.
Brian Skinner: Clearly glued on. Half off at the Irregular Beard Warehouse and Emporium.

Guiding Text
The Hunter's Sketches

If They Were A Gaming System They Would Be...
A Sega Saturn

LeBron on the Bucks
“They aren’t infinitely many, LeBron. If that were true than all possibilities would be accounted for: even ones that break all the observable rules, norms, and laws that we have observed. Acceleration, for example is always acceleration, no matter where you are. The rule always holds. There exists no possibility where things don’t all accelerate according to the same basic principle. This principle though constrains possible interactions and can lead to more advanced emergent phenomena, where, for some bizarre coincidence of confluencing constraints, a highly plausible reality may simple fail to exist. Does that make sense? Just because there are many, many possibilities doesn’t mean that every possibility must exist. I love ice cream. Now, imagine this, because radioactive materials have to decay a certain way, the universe ends up taking a very definite shape and while there is some space for variation, that variation simply doesn’t exist in other places. So, while in many possibilities, I don’t exist, in all of the ones where I do exist, I happen to like ice cream.”

“That’s very interesting, but what’s the point of this?”

“The point is simple. These things that don’t change across all the possibilities: are they more important than the things that do change? Are they more essential to identity? Are they more inalienable? The universe allows for massively myriad variation. So are the things that don’t vary more important? In a sense, they are so deeply a part of you that you simply don’t exist without these things, and it all follows from some elementary constraint of particle physics.”

“On the other hand, you might be entirely malleable. The universe is constrained but the possibilities are so bountiful that intense and inconsistent variation is inevitable. There’s just too much possibility to realistically think that such anchors, such constants can exist in any meaningful way.”

Brandon just nodded.

Rosetta Stone
This pretty much explains it.

2010 Season Preview: Miami Heat

It's time for the Love in the Time of LeBron 2010 Season Team Previews. You know how we do. Next up, the harbringers of doom, the Miami Heat.


Why We Care
This team has the potential to be the greatest team in basketball history. It's not the most likely course and it's certainly not inevitable, but whenever that possibility is in play, you have to pay attention. This team could be mind-numbingly awesome. They could play a style of basketball that has never been played before. They could leave a trail of scorched earth and ruined buildings in their wake. This team has the potential of uranium ore. They could be mediocre. This is totally true. But where is the ceiling on the best-case scenario? I don't know either, and that's why we will watch very carefully.

Significant Beards
Joel Anthony: Goatee shaped exactly like his head. A deeply unsettling glimpse of infinity.
Chris Bosh: Another flat goatee. Shave this man.
Mario Chalmers: Little hair nubs along his chin. Festive.
Udonis Haslem: A dust ruffle for the chin.
Eddie House: Solid but uninspired. Frozen red velvet cake.
Juwan Howard: Possibly a smudge.
LeBron James: Classic. Of course.
Jamaal Magloire: Barely there. The thong of beards.
Mike Miller: Scraggle. This isn’t actually Spring Break.
Jerry Stackhouse: Another infinity goatee. House of mirrors.
Dwayne Wade: Standard goatee, no upgrades. Cheap.

Guiding Text
Book of Revelation

If They Were A Milkshake They Would Be...

LeBron on the Heat
He stared at the computer for a while, reading slowly and carefully. He typed for a minute. He hesitated for a second. He pressed a button. He looked at the screen. He closed the laptop quickly. He sat down on the couch and relaxed, staring at the television. Of course it started again. He wanted to change the channel, but felt compelled to watch. If anyone else had been around they would have probably insisted on changing the channel, but LeBron watched and listened. His expression didn’t change, his features half-frozen. His brow was furrowed. They went to commercial. He looked at his phone. The little light in the corner was flashing. It always was. He checked his messages. Without fail, there it was. Unceasing, unfaltering, unforgiving. He typed out a reply, bravado on the tiny keyboard. He felt guilty responding. No he didn’t. He needed to respond.

Everyone was there for dinner that night and it was wonderful. His friends and family all at the massive table by the pool. His boys got in the water and splashed around with the other kids. It had finally started to get a little bit chilly on some nights, but tonight the air was warm and the weather mild. At the table, the men were funny and kind and the women were sharp and gracious. They were all laughing more than talking. When they spoke, they would touch each other;s arms warmly or put a reassuring hand on each other’s shoulder. LeBron excused himself twice during the dinner. The first time he got the beach ball for the kids at the pool. The second time he checked his phone.

Rosetta Stone
This pretty much explains it.

2010 Season Preview: Memphis Grizzlies

It's time for the Love in the Time of LeBron 2010 Season Team Previews. You know how we do. Next up, everyone's favorite Canadian emigres, the Memphis Grizzlies.

Surprisingly Awesome Despite Starting Mike Conley

Why We Care
This is one of the few secret surprises left in the NBA now that all the other secretly fun teams in the NBA have been thoroughly exposed to the adoring public. So enjoy them now so you can be totally over it by the time they get their own Sports Illustrated cover. All kidding aside, Rudy Gay may be paid more than you think is prudent but dude can play and can definitely dunk. O.J Mayo is a scintillating scorer and somehow Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol have morphed into one of the most formidable back courts in the NBA. The Grizzlies are pretty awesome, but as a non-contending small market team without very much star power, they are second-class NBA citizens at best, and woefully under-exposed. The Grizzlies might not be the next big thing, but watching them play and appreciating their game is what being an obsessive NBA fan is all about.

Significant Beards
Tony Allen: Underchin goatee. Mole-like. Possibly malignant.
Darrell Arthur: Chin eyebrow. Buy two, get one free?
DeMarre Carroll: Like hair laugh lines. It works.
Mike Conley: The whole dull package: mustache, soul patch, and goatee. Yawn.
Marc Gasol: A truly grizzly beard. Points for team spirit. Major deductions for creepiness.
Hamed Haddadi: Somewhat Satanic soul patch. Fiery.
Acie Law: Shaped like a nearly-empty glass of water. Why?
O.J. Mayo: Too patchy. Offensive to actual grizzlies.
Zach Randolph: Itty-bitty ‘tee. Somehow, it actually works. Miracles happen.
Hasheem Thabeet: Underchin only. Some beards are just shy.
Sam Young: Weighty, ambitious. One day it will rule his face. Or maybe the world?

Guiding Text
The Winter’s Tale

If They Were A Marsupial They Would Be...
A wallaby.

LeBron on the Grizzlies
No matter how tight the blinds were drawn, the light slipped through the cracks. It spilled onto the ceiling onto the floor. The peephole on the door glowed. The small cracks around the door inadvertently limned it in radiance. The air conditioner hummed. No, it didn’t. It rattled. It growled. It blew out chilled, stale air in the summer and scorched, stale air in the winter. The lights in the room, when on, let out that tell-tale hum of fluorescent bulbs which glowed bright and cold. They gave the room a pale green hue that was apparent even on the dark, patterned carpet and wall-paper. He had turned those lights off almost immediately. The light spilling on on the floor and ceiling flickered whenever someone walked by the windows though you could seldom here their footsteps. Through the walls, you could hear someone watching television. There was lots of cheering and men’s voices, self-assured and baritone. A game? Maybe. Maybe wrestling.

The two double beds sat undisturbed, and the television remained off in this room. Nothing was turned on, but there was still plenty of illumination: the glowing thermostat panel, the flashing light on the old-fashioned hotel phone, a little red light on the adaptor for the hair-drying station affixed to the wall, and of course that sneaking, spilling light from the bright parking lot lights. Could you ever really escape light? Over the hum and the room next door he could hear, on occasion, footsteps from the room above. Slow footsteps. Slow and rare. A rush of water when they flushed the toilet. He couldn’t hear anyone through the walls on the other side of the room. There was a knock on the door and he held his breath.

Rosetta Stone
This pretty much explains it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

2010 Season Preview: Los Angeles Lakers

It's time for the Love in the Time of LeBron 2010 Season Team Previews. You know how we do. Next up, the defending champions, the Los Angeles Lakers.


Why We Care
The past two years they have won the NBA championship and the have given every indication that they intend to win again. No one will be surprised if they do. The Lakers are the best proven team in basketball and only got better in the off-season. Kobe Bryant is a genius and no matter how much Pau Gasol is praised, he is underrated. We love Lamar and Ron with no apologies to anyone. This team, even without Kobe Bryant, is a very good contender. With Kobe Bryant, they frighten me. This team is a force of nature. A typhoon, an earthquake, a plague of locusts. We watch them because it would be dangerous to leave them unwatched.

Significant Beards
Ron Artest: Goatee. Thin, neat, slightly debonaire.
Matt Barnes: Smudge beard. Please erase.
Shannon Brown: Unremarkable goatee. B+ for participation.
Andrew Bynum: Barely there. Beard tease.
Derek Fisher: Barely perceptible box-goatee. Don’t squint.
Pau Gasol: Drama major beard. Understudy at best.
Lamar Odom: Big head, tiny soul patch.

Guiding Text
Thus Spake Zarathustra

If They Were A Late-90’s Teen Movie They Would Be...
She's All That

LeBron on the Lakers
Hell no. No way. This couldn’t happen. It was an outrage, a sin, a shame. A travesty, a disaster, a catastrophe. A farce, a mockery, a cruel sick joke. He felt sick. He was going to vomit. No he wasn’t. He took a deep breath, remembered some of the techniques Phil had taught him. He took a deep breath. It would be fine. It didn’t matter. It would be fine. None of it mattered except what he could control. Yet, surely he could control this. Surely, he had the clout. He could make a scene, make threats. He probably wouldn’t have to. This was his town. He could change this, he could stop this. Should he?

Would they question his motives? What would they say? Would he care what they said? He was golden now. Untouchable. Unable to be touched. It didn’t matter what they said. They could say anything. What if they said “Colorado”? He paused. His chest felt tight and he wasn’t sure if he was breathing right. He felt nauseous. No. He would be bigger. “It’s all about the team.” Putting his pride first wouldn’t be tolerated. Putting his personal feelings and his pride above everything else would make him a marked man. They would turn against him. They couldn’t turn against them. But what if they did? He vomited.

LeBron actually laughed out loud at the thought.

Kobe slept soundly.

Rosetta Stone
This pretty much explains it.

2010 Season Preview: Los Angeles Clippers

It's time for the Love in the Time of LeBron 2010 Season Team Previews. You know how we do. Next up, the beardiest second bananas on the West Coast, the Los Angeles Clippers

The Idea Is Better Than Reality

Why We Care
We care because they should be great. Baron Davis has all the talent in the world and could absolutely be an elite point guard in this league. Chris Kaman is a legitimate center who, if last year is any indication, is full of surprises. Eric Gordon made a name for himself in the Olympics this year, and the promise of Blake Griffin is nearly incomprehensible. Yet, they remain the Clippers: cursed and likely doomed to best-case mediocrity and worst-case apocalypse. We care because of the flashes of greatness and to watch the undoing from the inside.

Significant Beards
Baron Davis: Lush, full. Lifetime achievement award.
Rasual Butler: Light goatee. A Gentleman’s C.
Randy Foye: Miniscule goatee. Satisfactory.
Ryan Gomes: Half chin-strap. Half a barn-raising and a butter churn.
Eric Gordon: Shadow of a neard. Mild disgust.
DeAndre Jordan: Chinstrap to goatee. 7.3.
Chris Kaman: Full ginger chinstrap to goatee. An improvement, for what that's worth.
Craig Smith: Reasonable goatee. Strong.

Guiding Text
On the Beach

If They Were A Brass Instrument They Would Be...
A trombone

LeBron on the Clippers
The motorcycles revved loudly in the distance. It was hot, but it had always been hot, and there was no sense in guessing why, specifically, this instant, it felt so unbearable. The Los Angles sun had always seemed brighter than anywhere else and it beamed as insistent as ever, baking the ground and turning the asphalt into near-lava. The actual lava from the rift flowed down Rodeo and eventually into the city proper, a slow, fiery worm eating the city. The wildfires glowed day and night, but the unbearable part was the smoke, filling the air and turning the insistent sun a sickly orange at dawn and an angry red in the evening. The motorcycles were getting louder. Baron nodded.

The plaza was empty, the windows all broken, the stores thoroughly looted. After the collapse, people either responded by rioting or fleeing and by this point even most of those who had once rioted had now fled. The mansions of the wealthy stood empty or in ashes and when you walked the streets, the loudest sound was broken glass under your own feet. Most of the time. The roaring engines were nearly upon them and the others all stood ready with their Louisville sluggers and their chains and their switchblades. Someone was growling. LeBron lifted the fireman’s axe onto his shoulders, braced himself and waited for Baron’s signal.

Rosetta Stone
This pretty much explains it.

2010 Season Preview: Indiana Pacers

It's time for the Love in the Time of LeBron 2010 Season Team Previews. You know how we do. Next up, the Indiana Irrelevants!

A Team Filled With Intriguing Players That Just Doesn't Matter

Why We Care
The Pacers used to matter. Reggie Miller was a scintillating performer and the early 2000's Pacers were responsible for the "Malice in the Palace" and included Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson, and Jermaine O'Neal. Now? The Pacers don't matter but they sure have some players of interest. Everyone knows Darren Collison as a star-in-the-making and Danny Granger is one of my favorite personalities in the league (nice-guy-Channing-Frye category), as well as being a long-limbed dead-eye. The Pacers also employ the talents of Love in the Time of LeBron sentimental favorite, Tyler Hansbrough and the intriguing potential of Roy Hibbert. This isn't a good team, but they have some players I love to watch and play at barn-burning pace. They are the huffing glue of NBA basketball: a cheap, fast thrill that's ultimately damaging and empty. But, you know, sometimes you channel your inner Ramone and want to sniff some glue. So that's why we have the Pacers.

Significant Beards
Darren Collision: Glued a black pom-pom to his chin. Crafty.
T.J. Ford: The folds of his face cast hair shadows.
Danny Granger: Chin bracket. Contains multitudes.
Roy Hibbert: Unclear where chin ends and beard begins. Should confuse opponents.
Solomon Jones: Soul patch the size of his eyes. Triclops.
Josh McRoberts: Lazy. Half-mast.
James Posey: Unremarkable goatee. Needs more poof.
A.J. Price: Like a reverse goatee. The center of his chin refused to participate.

Guiding Text
The Pilgrim’s Progress

If They Were A Manned Space Program They Would Be...

LeBron on the Pacers
He moved the device slowly over the bookshelf, waiting for a beep or a disturbance. It was more than likely in this room. It was quiet in the room. There was... nothing... no wait. A ticking. There was a definite ticking, from nearby. He pulled a small pile of books off their shelves before he noticed he was still wearing his watch. Of course. He put it on an endtable on the other side of the room and turned the device back on. LeBron sort of vaguely waved the device over his possessions, slowly moved it over the wall. The device had a digital display, parts of it displaying something that looked like a line graph and another part that looked almost like static. LeBron didn’t really know what either part meant. The manual was... somewhere. He looked at the piles of books covering the floor. He stopped. He could still hear the ticking.

LeBron got up and moved the watch to the next room. He went back in and listened. He thought he could still hear it. He went back, picked up the watch and went into the kitchen. He looked around for a second. He opened the refrigerator and then closed it. He noticed that he often did this, as if opening the refrigerator triggered a temporary wipe of his brain that made him forget anything he was doing. He opened the refrigerator and put the watch inside. He went back to the study and resumed scanning for listening devices.

Rosetta Stone
This pretty much explains it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

2010 Season Preview: Houston Rockets

It's time for the Love in the Time of LeBron 2010 Season Team Previews. You know how we do. Next up, the Yao Ming Yao Mings (feat. Daryl Morey).

Wonder of the World

Why We Care
The Houston Rockets, thanks to Michael Lewis, are apparently the standard-bearers of the advanced stats movement. Don't care about stats? What about bandwagons? Thanks to Yao Ming, the Houston Rockets are arguably the most popular basketball team on the planet: more people watch regular season Rockets games than the Super Bowl. Honestly, without these things, the Rockets are still a team worth watching, chock full of players with unique and clever styles: Kevin Martin, Shane Battier, Chuck Hayes, and Luis Scola are all scintillating in their own way.

Significant Beards
Aaron Brooks: Goatee pinching his face like a vise. Painful.
Chase Budinger: Same as Brooks, but orange. Seasonal.
Chuck Hayes: Too thin. Beard up or beard out.
Jordan Hill: Split goatee. Choice, or a barren strip?
Jared Jeffries: Sparse, but so well shaped. Confusing.
Alexander Johnson: He dipped his chin in a mud puddle.
Courtney Lee: Sparse and vaguely pubic. Bikini season.
Kyle Lowry: Unacceptable. Not a beard.
Brad Miller: Cries out for a sweater and a guitar.

Guiding Text
The Varieties of Religious Experience

If They Were A Nirvana Album They Would Be...

LeBron on the Rockets
“It is not so, LeBron. We believe in the Copenhagen interpretation. Wave function collapse is necessary and proper. There is a possibility of many worlds until a particular outcome is observed and then we discard the possibilities. They don’t endure.The wave function only represents our knowledge of a given system. But what of Wigner’s friend, you will surely ask. And the answer is simple, the wave function is subjective as it models only our subjective knowledge and indeed beliefs. There is a distinction between reality and probability that is worth discussion here, but for now, let us simply say that probability is subjective and this is not a problem, because waveforms do collapse and all the unobserved possibilities cease to be valid in the actual world.”

“What do you mean?”

“It is consciousness that necessitates waveform collapse. And I know you will say Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen means that there’s a problem because you could have information traveling at faster than the speed of light, violating special relativity and thus causality, but you are taking for granted ‘local realism,’ and you just can’t demand it because it seems like a nice thing to be true. You have to acknowledge that there can be spooky movement at a distance and yet not necessarily violate causality by having faster than light information.”

“Must I? This doesn’t actually seem to mean anything.”

Yao shrugged. He turned and shot the ball. It went through the net with ease.

Rosetta Stone
This pretty much explains it.

2010 Season Preview: Golden State Warriors

It's time for the Love in the Time of LeBron 2010 Season Team Previews. You know how we do. Next up, everyone's favorite irrepressible scamp, the Golden State Warriors

The Aftermath of Revolution

Why We Care
For years, Nelly ran the unique talents of far too many players in the ground. He shackled bright lights to the bench, and he started Corey Maggette and Stephen Jackson at power forward. Nelly was an icon and a genius, but in the last few years, it really seemed like he was playing out his end of a dare/bar bet that had to do with how much he could get away with before he got fired. Now, he is gone. The Warriors get to start over. Will they still be the high-octane, trigger happy scoundrels of days past? Almost certainly. Will it finally all make sense? Maybe. We put a lot of hope in that maybe.

Significant Beards
Charlie Bell: Goatee. Slightly diabolical. Beelzebaby.
Rodney Carney: Sloppy. Soul patch may be unintentional.
Dan Gadzuric: Unnatural stubble. Facial crop circles?
Brandan Wright: Either cleft goatee, or chin wings.
Dorell Wright: Like the rebel insignia. Nerd alert: high.

Guiding Text
Studies in Word Association

If They Were A Small Woodland Creature They Would Be...

LeBron on the Warriors
LeBron watched the light come in through the window. It wavered, shifted. On the floor he watched the refractory patterns dance as the sunlight slowly dimmed. Eventually it was gone and they were left with nothing but the soft fluorescence of the cabin lights. LeBron looked around him. The cabin wasn’t private or even first class and so the ex-urban dads gawked with their wide-eyed sons. No one had asked for his autograph yet, but that was not too far off. He didn’t mind. The ride wasn’t that long and after all that had happened, taking the time for an autograph seemed like such a small thing.

Sometimes LeBron thought about his Hummer, the one he had gotten before he entered the draft. He thought about all the private planes, the ones the Cavaliers had, Sean’s plane, the ones he’d only been in once. It had seemed so important then to travel that way. He smiled. One of the littlest boys was getting a pen from his father. He looked a little like Bryce, his own son. The boy hesitated, still too shy to approach, his father trying to gently prod him. LeBron looked out the window. They were getting close. A school of fish flitted away revealing the landing dome and the landing port. LeBron looked back at the boy. He was heading towards him, slowly, tentatively. LeBron tried a welcoming smile.

Rosetta Stone
This pretty much explains it.

2010 Season Preview: Detroit Pistons

It's time for the Love in the Time of LeBron 2010 Season Team Previews. You know how we do. Next up, the Motor City Madmen, the Detroit Pistons.

A Struggle For Relevancy

Why We Care
The Pistons have been a dominant force in basketball for much of the past quarter-century. Only in recent times has this once great house fallen into total disarray. When Jonas Jerebko is the siver-lining on last year's season, the clouds most have been dark indeed. The Pistons are nearing their nadir... which means that their rise is coming. Or more darkness. In any case, the Pistons have some legitimately good players, a talented coach, and a history of success. It doesn't guarantee future success, but this team can't sink much further can it?

Significant Beards
Will Bynum: Tidy and discreet. 4 English butlers.
Austin Daye: Beardspiration: a funnel. Category 1 twister.
Ben Gordon: His inner beard was seared off. 2nd degree burn.
Richard Hamilton: Recently clean-shaven. Was told to leave his ferret at home on game days.
Jason Maxiell: Clean, strong lines, classic form. 16th century sculpture or 21st century icon?
Greg Monroe: Heavy shading on the sides; great effect for his cheekbones. Covergirl Challenge runner-up.
Tayshaun Prince: Slightly Lincoln-esque, but disappointing. 2nd act at Ford’s Theatre.
Rodney Stuckey: Crumb-catcher or double-chin-hider? Either way, 2 out of 10 Ho-Hos.
DaJuan Summers: Full beard. Too full. Suspicious.
Ben Wallace: Understated yet effective. Four solid stars.
Chris Wilcox: Lush, well-tended braids, yet scraggle patch beard. The side yard of his face.

Guiding Text
A Separate Peace

If They Were An MP3 Player They Would Be...
A Zune.

LeBron on the Pistons
Sun-Tzu explained a four-level hierarchy of targets in his famous book. The worst thing you could do while at war, he said, was to attack your enemies’ cities. Such assaults were costly and inevitably resulted in the loss of many lives. Upon his throne of bones, LeBron looked over the ruined city and grinned. Fires burned in the distance, barely visible through the smoky haze. The second-worst thing you could do was to attack your enemies’ armies. While not as futile and dangerous as attacking a walled city, the loss of life, the loss of strength, the potential for failure were all inevitable risks. For Sun-Tzu, the business of battle was a poor strategy for a war. The third-worst thing you could do, or rather, the second-best, was to attack your enemies’ alliances. And so he had. Power hadn’t been consolidated in the summer, but had been scattered. Piece-meal trades and draft-day desperation had fractured the familiar structures. Gasol had left L.A. and the Boston superteam was no more, just Pierce alone, history repeating.

LeBron smiled. The best thing you could do, Sun-Tzu had said, was to attack the most fragile of assets; to shatter it and deny to other’s it’s advantages. Sun Tzu taught that the best targets are the plans of your enemies. There is no better ally than surprise, no better advantage than a confused foe. LeBron lifted his skull chalice and poured a libation in honor of Detroit. The city kept burning.

Rosetta Stone
This pretty much explains it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

2010 Season Preview: Denver Nuggets

It's time for the Love in the Time of LeBron 2010 Season Team Previews. You know how we do. Next up, the terribly-named, yet-oh-so-delightful Denver Nuggets.

Exciting and Competitive Non-Contender

Why We Care
The Nuggets will almost certainly not win the championship this year. That said, this is a truly great team with an awesome assemblage of athletic talent. They play with energy, they feed off their fans, and on any given night they can beat any team on the league. Despite the hurt his name has taken in the off-season, Carmelo Anthony is one of the very best players in the NBA, and this may be the last chance we get to see him with the amazing supporting cast of this year's Nuggets. Enjoy the end of an era.

Significant Beards
Arron Afflalo: “I do not understand razors,” or “I am sixteen.”
Carmelo Anthony: Like how goats have a tuft on their chin, except terrible. Bottom of the food chain.
Renaldo Balkman: Rebuilt his chin out of beard.
Anthony Carter: Goatee and mustache meet to frame a perfect little circle under his lip. Euclid would be proud.
Melvin Ely: Mustache started dripping and pooled into a hair puddle suspended from his chin.
Nene Hilario: Vaguely architectural. A trellis?
Ty Lawson: Full scruff. Clint Eastwood approved.
Kenyon Martin: Full scraggle and goatee. A bad choice.
JR Smith: Beards shouldn't be smaller than eyebrows.
Sheldon Williams: Drawn on with Magic Marker, but he did stay within the lines. A gold star.

Guiding Text

If They Were A Cloud They Would Be...

LeBron on the Nuggets
The snow fell softly now, landing on the piles and drifts so quietly. If felt like the snowfall should have been louder, but there it was, quiet and inevitable. The bushy pines of summer gave way to the spears of winter, the branches pinned down under the weight of the snow, the tree itself looking more like a single stick. Sometimes, the weight of snow on one of the boughs would shift and all the accumulated snow would fall to the ground. The branch would then rise up from its pinned position, rise back to its summer height, a temporary victory before the snow would weigh down the branch again. It would soon be pinned back. Nothing inevitable but the snow.

Behind him, Chauncey took up the little slips of paper and put them all in a hat. The snow had been going for weeks now. Weeks? Maybe months. A long time. The snow had been coming down forever. There had been no signs from above the impenetrable grayness and once the flames from the wreck died then, there was no light but that sad dim fire they somehow managed to keep going. Chauncey was talking now. LeBron couldn’t hear. There had been little food on the plane and they hadn’t seen any animals anywhere in the forest. Giant muscled men, it had seemed particularly cruel to watch their own wasting. Kenyon looked ancient, a gaunt near-skeleton. Chauncey pulled out a name and he read it aloud. LeBron couldn’t hear it. Despite the quiet of the falling snow it was hard to hear anything. He could see though. He saw how they all turned and looked at him.

Rosetta Stone
This pretty much explains it.

2010 Season Preview: Dallas Mavericks

It's time for the Love in the Time of LeBron 2010 Season Team Previews. You know how we do. Next up, the perennial also-rans, the Dallas Mavericks.

Desperate Men Standing Against Time

Why We Care
The Mavericks have mattered all decade because of Dirk Nowitzki and the deep pockets of owner Mark Cuban. Dirk is getting older and the decline may have already begun. Mark Cuban is getting desperate. How many moves have the Mavericks made since this time last year? Many, and not insignificant ones. Desperation and a sense of urgency should drive this team to go all out this year, making big moves when needed, playing hard, and likely surprising people with their hunger. A bear backed into a corner is the most aggressive.

Significant Beards
José Juan Barea: Barely there. Insufficient data for scoring.
Tyson Chandler: Full yet flat. Scares off most predators.
Dominique Jones: Unnecessary under-chin face-trim. An MFA grad’s first novel.
Shawn Marion: A light patch framing the protruding rectangle that is his jaw. Subtle but disturbing.
Dirk Nowitzki: Like his skin has tufts. Creepy, and a near-crime. Written citation.
DeShawn Stevenson: Rugged, barely tamed. 4/5 hatchets.
Jason Terry: Odd and patchy fuzz. Either incapable of growing a full beard or so virile that he can’t stay clean-shaven for the length of a photoshoot. Inconclusive.

Guiding Text
Against Nature

If They Were A Vacuum Cleaner They Would Be...
A Dyson.

LeBron on the Mavericks
The man wouldn’t stop yelling. He was probably in his mid-twenties, obviously quite drunk and enjoying himself far too much. Some of LeBron’s entourage gave him questioning looks, but LeBron ignored them. If the man wanted to yell he could yell. It was warm, full blown Indian summer and lots of people wandered around the outdoor shopping center. Fake rocks played radio hits and families paid too much for ice cream and movies. The line at the Cheesecake Factory was interminable. Not that LeBron wanted in lines at the Cheesecake Factory. The man kept yelling. All the hits. Coward. Traitor. Loser.

The man was white, but they were in a suburban Dallas shopping center. This was not surprising. Men who yelled at him in suburban shopping centers were always white. LeBron turned and looked at him. He was a good thirty-forty feet away. He was keeping his distance. He was wearing a Cavaliers hat. Which was fine. Sometimes they wore Lakers hats and the things they yelled were meaner, but easier to ignore. He kept walking, didn’t make eye contact with the man, but he listened.

Rosetta Stone
This pretty much explains it.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

2010 Season Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers

It's time for the Love in the Time of LeBron 2010 Season Team Previews. You know how we do. Next up, the sadtown sadsters, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Greek Tragedy

Why We Care
We might not like staring at the aftermath of a particularly gruesome car wreck, but we all do.

Significant Beards
Daniel Gibson: Cradles his chin like a cup. Minimal support.
Joey Graham: Scraggly, craggy beard. Keep far away.
Danny Green: Narrow and strangely curved, like he has a second smile. That means we’re averaging one each.
Ryan Hollins: Missed a spot while shaving. Repeatedly.
Jamario Moon: Waxing under-chin crescent. Heavy cloud cover with limited visibility.
Leon Powell: Shadow Beard plus triangle soul patch. 1-up.
Ramon Sessions: Square-outline beard. Either his chin is a box or he’s created a cunning illusion. Well-framed.
Anderson Varejao: Beardless and suffering. In need of a beard transplant. His scalp can be the donor.
Jawad Williams: Like he used to have a box-top but it fell off his head and onto his chin.

Guiding Text

If They Were A Piece of Living Room Furniture They Would Be...
An ottoman.

LeBron on the Cavaliers
Another year. They would be better, they had to be better, they were always getting better. He was getting better. He would stand tall, as he always had, and this would be the year. He trembled. How many times had he said that? How many times had he heard it? When would it be true? These things take time. These things take time. It took Jordan seven years, why should it take LeBron James any less? He stayed and that’s what mattered. Loyalty? Loyalty.

His hands shook. He would win, eventually. It was inevitable. He was Chosen. That was the point. This was all according to plan. The team would get better, he would get better, and they would win. Manifest destiny. They would trade up, they would improve, someone else would break out. It would happen, it has to happen. It was written and so it shall it come to pass. His hands wouldn’t stop shaking.

Rosetta Stone
This pretty much explains it.

2010 Season Preview: Chicago Bulls

It's time for the Love in the Time of LeBron 2010 Season Team Previews. You know how we do. Next up, the angry bovines in the proverbial china shop: the Chicago Bulls.

Dark Horse Contenders

Why We Care
This could be one of the very best teams in basketball next year, and somehow, no one is talking about it. Some would argue that these young guns are more Hawks than Thunder, but they are really more mushrooms than onions, if you know what I mean. No? Okay, well that's fine too. The Bulls are going to be very good and they will matter and that's that.

Significant Beards
Keith Bogans: Minimal goatee. Frank Stella approved.
Carlos Boozer: Tightly trimmed, near full. A+.
Joakim Noah: Notoriously patchy semi-full. Nickname-worthy.
Derrick Rose: Small mustache, divided goatee. Slight fright.
Brian Scalabrine: Ginger goatee. WHY?
Kurt Thomas: Goatee. Prehistoric, 3/5 trilobites.

Guiding Text
The Epic of Gilgamesh

If They Were A Vegetable They Would Be...
Summer squash.

LeBron on the Bulls
LeBron looked at the statue for a long time. Derrick walked by and stopped. LeBron crossed his arms. Derrick was about to speak, but LeBron shot a look at him. They stared at the statue in silence. It wasn’t long before the others started coming. Luol and Kyle came in, talking quietly, but they stopped and took up the study. Joakim called out to them, but no one answered. He walked past, indignant. He soon came back, Taj and some of the others following. He was about to speak, but Derrick put a hand on his arm. Tom watched the huddle of players from the distance. He gave them five minutes, waiting for their attention to shift, but no one moved. He hesitated.

“What shall we do LeBron?”

“You shall not make for yourself a graven image.”

“I’m sorry. Or else, what?”

“I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars; I will heap your carcasses on the carcasses of your idols. I shall abhor you.”

They were silent. Tom looked at the expressions of the men before him. Derrick nodded.

Rosetta Stone
This pretty much explains it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

2010 Season Preview: Charlotte Bobcats

It's time for the Love in the Time of LeBron 2010 Season Team Previews. You know how we do. Next up, the pride of Mecklenburg County, the Charlotte Mikecats.

Odd Team That You Should Check In On

Why We Care
The Bobcats have assembled a fine collection of extraordinary athletes and reclamation projects, with Gerald Wallace and Tyrus Thomas leading Camp A, and Shaun Livingston, Darius Miles, Javaris Crittenton and Kwame Brown leading Camp B. This is a gutsy team. They try hard, they play tough, and they struggle to score. You should watch them because their mediocrity is more about being on the fringe than being on the margins.

Significant Beards
D.J. Augustin: "My jaw is so rugged that it casts a hair shadow.”
Derrick Brown: Sculpted, but looks like a puddle. Failure.
Kwame Brown: Unambitious, hiding a double chin. D.
Sherron Collins: Another Shadow Beard. Sloppy and big.
Javaris Crittenton: Pubescently thin. Time to shave.
Boris Diaw: Kind of pubic. C-
Gerald Henderson: Too narrow. Some sort of food stain.
Shaun Livingston: Baby’s first goatee. Half cup of cheerios.
Dominic McGuire: Thin but competent. A book of contemporary poetry.
Darius Miles: Uneven but ambitious. Oliver Stone.
Thomas Tyrus: Under-chin fuzz, possibly intentional. Two thumbs down.
Gerald Wallace: Unremarkable goatee. After the curve, B+.

Guiding Text
Tender Buttons

If They Were A Board Game They Would Be
Chinese checkers.

LeBron on the Bobcats
“First, acknowledge that essentially a rebound and a block are the same thing: a well-timed leap. Now, reduce the leap to a simple taxonomy: successful and unsuccessful. Once you have done that, the key to success is to internalize and accept a number of principles. First, a failure to leap successfully is an instantaneous death. Second, the success of your leap is tied to the spin value of a random proton. Internalize that and make it your reality. Once it happens, you can never fail. Because your consciousness will abruptly cease in any world where you fail, from your point of view, in the world you inhabit it, you will never witness yourself fail. Quantum immortality.”

“But, Gerald, this means that in most of the relevant worlds, everyone sees you die when you fail. In most of these worlds people just see you die. What’s the point if you fail most of the time?”

“Does a world where you have no conscious presence even count as a world? I can only experience the worlds where I succeed. The others, simply don’t exist for me. You can’t be troubled by all possible worlds.For years I was concerned about such things, but it was meaningless without consciousness. That is how I block. That is how I rebound. That is how I built the pyramids. They did not build themselves.”

Rosetta Stone
This pretty much explains it.

2010 Season Preview: Boston Celtics

It's time for the Love in the Time of LeBron 2010 Season Team Previews. You know how we do. Next up, your cranky grandpas who keep on balling: the Boston Celtics.

Superstar-Loaded Team One Bad Step Away From Disintegration

Why We Care
How many Hall of Famers do you think are on this team? How many catastrophes in waiting are on this team? Aging superstars, volatile youngsters (and oldsters), and one bad practice fall away from total disaster, the Celtics are the Bad News Bears if the Bad News Bears were never underdogs.

Significant Beards
Ray Allen: Micro-goatee. Consistent. 40% from 3.
Marquis Daniels: Mustache on chin. PG-13.
Kevin Garnett: Hitler on chin. NC-17.
Shaq: Goatee. Satishaqtory.
Kendrick Perkins: Coffee-house goatee. Bongos and snaps.
Paul Pierce: The "Paul Pierce". Pentagon declines comment.
Nate Robinson: Neck-goatee. Duly noted.
Delonte West: Trimmed, red, goatee. 2 out of 3 loaded guns.

Guiding Text
Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood

If They Were A John Hughes Movie They Would Be...
The Breakfast Club

LeBron on the Celtics
It was chilly, but they were all there. Not just the current guys, but the ring of honor guys. The older guys and the just plain old ones all walked to the bridge with him. “Tradition.” That was the only word he’d heard all summer. That and “coward.” No one called Kevin that when he came, but no one dared to call Kevin anything. Did you know that if you go to a team because you’d have better teammates there, you are a coward? It’s true. If you make the teammates come to you, you are a hero. But if you go, you are a coward. When LeBron came to Boston, he was a coward, because somehow, by wanting so badly to have great teammates and win more, he had demonstrated that he didn’t want to win more. It was something like that. Sometimes the argument seemed to flip and losing was somehow ennobling. To win for a new team is mercenary, but to lose for one team your entire career is saint-worthy. Didn’t matter here.

Boston had a tradition of mercenary saints. In Boston, your past can be forgiven if you embrace their past. Kevin was a lunatic in the wilderness, but now, he’s a proud keeper of the sacred traditions. He screamed now and the others just laughed with joy. His directions were angry, solemn. All the other new Celtics went first, and LeBron took the deference graciously. He watched Shaq make the toss with surprising ease, while Jermaine stumbled. Semih hesitated a bit, unsure if this was was really happening, afraid he’d misunderstoond, but Harangody heaved with vigor. When it came his turn, LeBron tried to be as quick as he could without being rude. He tossed the screaming man into the Charles River and turned to walk away. Bill Russel’s face was still and stony, but Larry Bird beamed.

Rosetta Stone
This pretty much explains it.

2010 Season Preview: Atlanta Hawks

It's time for the Love in the Time of LeBron 2010 Season Team Previews. You know the rules. First up: the dirtiest birds, the Atlanta Hawks

Team That Should Be More Exciting Than It Is

Why We Care
The promise of Josh Smith can't be ignored, Al Horford is a joy to watch play and you may think Joe Johnson is overpaid and overrated, but there aren't ten basketball players in the entire world who can bring what he brings to the table. The Hawks should be exciting. We care because one day they might be.

Significant Beards
Evan Brock: Terrible goatee. Shave that. Also, who are you?
Jason Collins: Goatee. Weak.
Al Horford: Yet another stubbly goatee. What is it with this team?
Joe Johnson: Potential for the sweetest mustache in all of pro-basketball. Incomplete.
Zaza Pachulia: No beard. However, this.
Josh Powell: Stubbly goatee. 2 out 5 deja vu's.
Josh Smith: Goatee. Acceptable point five.
Jeff Teague: UPDATE: 'Stache gone. VERDICT: Improvement.
Etan Thomas: Goatee. A Goatee America Can Love.
Marvin Williams: Mustache. 3 stars.

Guiding Text
Waiting for Lefty

If They Were A Pokemon They Would Be...

LeBron on the Hawks
Leaves lazily floated across the water’s surface. Leaves, pine needles, bugs and dust. Sand and some of the heavier bits had already sunk to the bottom. It had been a while since anyone had used the pool. A month or two. Summer turns to fall quick, though, apparently fall was interminable. Sharp jabs of winter would punch through eventually, but for the most part the weather would stay in that uncomfortable middle ground. The mornings where cool, even cold and he’d pack a sweater, but in the afternoon he’d be sweaty, awkward in the cardigan. There is something to be said for a more-defined fall.

On the other hand, it was mid-October, and, conceivably, he could still use the pool. That was nice. He skimmed the leaves and grime off the top with the net. He saw a couple of feathers floating on the surface. Dark feathers. From ducks? Ducks or geese. Were they just stopping through? Did they start here and go to the tropics or did they start in Canada with the purpose of ultimately ending here, floating atop Lake LeBron. He supposed he’d see them fly back North in a few months. Do ducks fly in formation or is that just geese? LeBron skimmed some more feathers off the pool. He wondered how much of the year birds spent migrating.

Rosetta Stone
This pretty much explains it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

2010 Previews

Hello, dear friends. It's been some time since I've been blogging, but it's been some time since the end of the NBA season. The hiatus ends now. What am I saying? Team previews, my friend. And this year, I might even make it through all thirty teams. In any case, I wanted to explain the format of the previews and answer all your questions ahead of time.

Each preview will start off with a brief synopsis of who the team is and why we care and then segue into the questions you care about: What kind of beards are they packing? What text guides the spirit of this team? What kind of analogy would it take to explain this team? What would it be like if LeBron had chosen this team? What is the decoding "Rosetta Stone" that lays bare all the mysteries that this team has to offer?

I promise this and more. Or maybe less. Depends on how long it takes. In any event: Stay Tuned.