RAISING THE CADAVALIER - many, many thoughts on the Cleveland Cavaliers by ROBERT ATTENWEILER

Posts Tagged ‘Magic Johnson’

Misc,NBA Basketball


When Larry Bird Was Handsome (or, “The Way It Wasn’t”)

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I had the opportunity to see Magic/Bird on Broadway last week and I’m still shaking my head a little.

I’m not even shaking my head at the show so much which I like just a tiny bit more than I thought I would or knew I should (though I will be the first to admit that I am a sucker for much of what was enjoyable about the show, even as I recognize that “liking” something means very little to any project’s artistic aspirations, had artistic aspirations rated highly enough to have even been given a schwag bag at this particular party).

I’m not against popular entertainments. I’m a sports fan, for god’s sake. And I’m not entirely against empty popular entertainments. I’m a Cleveland sports fan, for god’s sake. But there does seem to be some back-patting on the part of the show’s producers about how they are attracting “non-traditional” fans to the theater.

Now, I will admit that the crowd at the show I saw was hands-down the most diverse crowd I’ve ever seen at a play. But, those people who will go see Magic/Bird will very likely not rush out to see Venus In Fur the following weekend because – you know, that theater thing’s got something interesting going on.

These “new theater goers” then are little more than dollar signs invented by the producers. They have figured out a way to get people to the theater who wouldn’t normally go – but they are not people who will likely go back – and the people who would normally go don’t really see the point in this project so they won’t go … and it’s a whole cycle that they hope can be sustained just long enough to justify itself.

So, good for the producers of Magic/Bird for figuring out a way to (possibly) make money. Good work. But let’s call it that. Let’s not call it theater.

Theater as we know, is about figuring out a way to (probably) lose money.

But my review of the actual play goes something like this…

If you are a fan—whether a fan of good theater or a sports fan—it’s probably not a stretch to assume that you already have some opinion of the new Broadway play Magic/Bird. If you’re a theater fan, you might be scratching your head over how the story of two basketball players who played for different teams during the 1980s—two players who, in fact, only played each other twice a year, save for the three times their teams met in the NBA Finals—and produced, in part, by the very same professional sports league that once employed them, could ever make for satisfying theater. If you’re a sports fan—or, perhaps, a theater fan who loves one—you might see it differently: a light but predictably satisfying entertainment centered around the two players most often credited with saving professional basketball in the 1980s, whose rivalry became the storyline for a decade’s worth of NBA seasons, and who took on the type of mythic stature you’d expect from guys with nicknames like “Magic” and “Legend,” even as their story’s most lasting legacy is the effect on the American public when faced with the very real mortality of one of their most recognizable icons. Luckily, both of these opinions of Magic/Bird turn out to be correct.

Read the rest of my review of Magic/Bird on nytheatre.com.

NBA Basketball


Is Kyrie Irving THE GUY?

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It’s great when I get to start a post by quoting Eric Snow (the specter of whom Mike Brown must be seeing when he looks at his starting point guard, Derek Fisher).  Snow said, “You’ve either got The Guy or you’re trying to get The Guy.”

Snow was saying this in relation to the Cavs’ situation when they had LeBron James.  He was saying (if it’s not already clear) that in today’s (or any day’s, I guess) star-driven NBA, teams either believe they have the player they can build a championship around – the guy who will take them to the top and when he’s gotten them to the top, keep going up, up, up until the air gets so thin that everyone passes out and aren’t even conscious for the horrible plummet back to earth and the splattering on the sidewalk and … well, that’s where the figurative language meets its end.  They either have that guy or they don’t and want one really, really bad.

The Cavs, at the time of Snow’s quote, felt they had The Guy.  Then they didn’t.  And now…?

I’ll admit, I thought Kyrie Irving was going to be a very good player (pat, pat, pat on back).  I actually thought (and I don’t think I was in the minority here) that his ceiling would be as the second or third best player on a contending team, that the Cavaliers were still a The Guy away.  But, as our rookie point guard is progressing at a mind-thrilling piece, we can, however tentatively, nervously and with qualification, ask the question: Is Kyrie Irving The Guy?

I’m going to blow the end of this argument right here.  Who the hell knows?

But there are some promising signs-

The fact that Irving is scoring at an advanced-for-a-rookie-guard clip (18.1 PPG through Monday) in relatively limited minutes (29.6 – but increasing) and shooting 50% from the field is pretty ridiculous. Irving’s at an even 50% from the field, an even 40% from 3, his assists are up (he and Varejao are getting a great feel for each other on the pick-and-roll) and his turnovers are down (he hasn’t recorded more than 3 in 2 1/2 weeks) and he seems moderately more present on defense.  What this means, should this all prove the rule and not the exception is not that Irving is going to take 30 shots a game – make 15 with a sprinkling of 3s and get to the line a bunch (where he is “down to” 83% … practically Price-ian on this team) and be a 40PPG scorer.  I think we’ll see some stupid (the complimentary one) scoring nights over Irving’s career, but that can’t be his end.  Going forward, Irving will be much more valuable as a 20/8 guy who doesn’t need a ton of shots to get his and spends most of his time making it easier for his teammates to score (and, yes, hopefully playing steady, strong defense).

It’s just tough when your best player is your point guard. A team’s point is so crucial to their success (just ask the 2011-12 New York Knicks) and so much is asked of the position, that it’s difficult to also ask your point guard to be your leading scorer.  But isn’t Chicago considered a contender with reigning-MVP Derrick Rose?  They are – and I love Derrick Rose.  Is Derrick Rose The Guy? Absolutely, he’s The Guy.  But the last two teams to win an NBA championship with their point guard as their leading scorer were the Pistons (once, with Isiah Thomas) and the Lakers (once, with Magic Johnson) and those were both on incredibly balanced teams.

Your point guard can be your The Guy but, by all indications (and the Bulls haven’t proven this wrong yet), it’s then even more important to get balance and the ability to score big out there on the floor along with The Guy.  Or, to put it differently, at the end of close games, opposing teams should have to deal with the fact that the guy with the ball in his hands – while capable of taking and making the shot – at least, may not.

But, no, you say? Kryie will just blow by – spin by – cross-over past – dribble through the defense on his way to the game-winning lay-up.  Okay, great.  End of discussion.

Or we can talk about how, while he might develop into The Guy, the real Kyrie Irving Era won’t begin until we get one more elite offensive talent to pair with him.

Still, it’s a hell of a start.