Sunday, May 4, 2008

RE: Infatuation

Ever since 1996, one player has ruled the "my favorite basketball player" section of the chaos dimension that is my sports heart; and that player is Allen Iverson. On the court, The Answer is the basketball embodiment of every positive character trait I strive to have. He's diminutive by professional athlete standards; but possesses the heart and willpower of an immeasurable level. That tenacity allows him to equal and sometimes surpass the on-the-court production of his taller peers (third all-time in career points per game average). Then, to add to that, he does everything his own way. Braids, tattoos, and "inner city urban youth" swagger. To put it bluntly, he just doesn't give know. For twelve years, AI has ruled my chaos dimension with a permanently inked fist; and I felt there would be no one—not even His Airness—that could overthrow him. I mean, Timmy has his fundamentally sound place in the kingdom, but I can't relate to being seven feet tall...and boring. The Black Mamba has garnered my respect, but it's more out of basketball awe than adoration. But suddenly, there is another. A young king that is slowly moving in on Iverson's territory. That man is Chris Paul.

Few players have captivated my attention to the point where I watch every second that he has the basketball. Steve Nash as maestro of the Phoenix Suns at the height of their offensive brilliance—yes, that window is closed—is the most recent example of how one man can have an entire game on puppet strings. It's as if Nash is so intelligent he is mentally three steps ahead of the defense, despite being a step slower physically; and the result is poetry in motion. Chris Paul has that same intellect, and the athletic gifts as well. So it appears he's four or five steps ahead of the other team. A prime example of this is what he did to Jason Kidd and the Dallas Mavericks in this recent first-round series. Avery Johnson may still be a "young" coach, but I think he knew that stopping Paul was priorities one through three. But that's just it. CP3 made it look as if the Mavericks' game plan was to stop the other players on the court; and let him have free roam. The result: four Hornets' wins in five games, and Avery's looking for employment.

Chris Paul's pure talent isn't the reason why he's challenging Allen Iverson for supremacy of my basketball heart. I mean, Jason Kidd was a wizard of a floor general, and so is Andre Miller. What allows him to even have a place in this dimension in the first place is his on-the-court leadership and swagger. He's not brash or boastful, but walks with a air of self-confidence that only true leaders carry. He has a a king. The difference between his leadership and, say, Kobe's is that it seems Paul's teammates follow him willingly; whereas the rest of the Lakers follow Kobe out of fear. I believe that Chris Paul would still be cherished and still be the unquestioned leader of the Hornets if his stats were cut in half. He has that much presence, and it seems that people flock to him and his players want to play better because he gives them the support and direction a great leader provides. I know the other players are talented on their own; but it seems they're performing better than they would under a lot of the other leaders around the league.

Chris Paul is beginning to destroy and rebuild the regime that Allen Iverson has constructed for the past twelve years in the basketball section of my sports heart. He hasn't completely overtaken The Answer's throne yet, but the empire is beginning to shake at its foundation. It reminds me of what The Roots, D'Angelo, J-Live and others (links probably NSFW: explicit language) have done to my musical tastes...But that's for another writing space—not for Fundamentally UnSound. Part of me wants to see him conquer Timmy and the Spurs, simply because it would provide more ammunition needed to overthrow Iverson. Hmm...apparently my chaos dimension is welcoming this change. It'll be interesting if the transformation will complete. For now, AI, you have company.


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