Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Play defense, get emasculated
By Ethan Sherwood Strauss
Tuesday’s Knicks-Heat game gifted us a jarring “Dunk of the Night” from Amare Stoudemire. Amare absolutely bopped on LeBron James in a quake that rumbled into Youtube tsunamis. Shades of Jordan Crawford, without the creepy footage destruction rumors.
Nobody likes to be dunked on. It’s emasculation, on permanent video loop. And Amare seems to know that. Look at the first clip in the Heat-Knicks recap package. When James drives down the lane, Stoudemire scampers to safety like a wise hermit crab. He wants no part of this highlight, even if it means possibly preventing it.
When we think of incentives that work against team play, scoring is our fixation. For the greater good, players must subvert ego by taking fewer shots. Youtube has given us a new kind of ego sacrifice: The dunk thwart attempt.
So, put yourself in Amare’s shoes. What would you choose? You can go for the block and receive public shaming, or you can duck the risk, assured that a mustache will catch D’Antoni’s anger spittle.
I’m reminded of a Spurs-Cavs game from some years back. LeBron James drove towards Tim Duncan, as Timmy tried to establish position. Too late. James scaled Duncan like a mountain, unleashing a cram that made TD crumble.
I jumped off my couch, yelled, pointed at the TV. The greatest power forward of all time looked feeble, pathetic and totally at the mercy of an ascendant star. It was a thrilling, sad, dunk to behold.
A wise friend sitting next to me calmly asserted, “Timmy don’t care.” Later that year, the Spurs scraped the Cavs for an easy title. To be a defensive stalwart is to absorb moments of complete and total humiliation.