TrueHoop: Article of the Week

S.L. Price on Dwyane Wade

December, 6, 2006
12/06/06
2:20
PM ET
Do yourself a favor and make time to read the entire Dwyane Wade story from Sports Illustrated. It's the now the definitive Dwyane Wade article. An excerpt:

It's easy, when taking stock of Dwyane Wade, to take him at face value. He speaks softly, smiles sweetly (yes, Tragil taught him that too) and trails a litany of praise from teammates and opponents that usually includes words like humble, quiet and polite. Did you know he married his high school sweetheart? That he tithes to his church? It's easy to mistake him for some unflappable choirboy, untainted by the modern star's usual cocktail of ego and insecurity. But then most people don't know that Wade got his first technical foul in high school for giving the opposing crowd the finger as he ran upcourt after blocking a shot; don't know that he got so insulted by all the attention paid LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony at the 2004 All-Star rookie game that he played "angry" the rest of that season ("I was like a third wheel," he says. "It was, like, Move out of the way, Dwyane, let Carmelo and LeBron take a picture. I felt slighted. I thought, I can be on these guys' level, so what am I going to do to get there?"); don't know that he wore his any more doubters? T-shirt so often after the Heat's championship run that his sister had to tell him to stop.
Bear with me on this analogy: Wade's character is like the meanest pasta machine you ever saw. Everything comes out of the front  in the proper, pre-ordained shapes and sizes like everybody likes and is used to. But that engine in there? It's ghetto tested and slows for nothing.

Pasta maker
There hasn't been an article of the week in ages, but it's not that I have given up on the category. It's that I haven't been that inspired by anything I have read for the last several weeks.

Until today. Steve Rushin of Sports Illustrated, it turns out, has known Flip Saunders since Rushin was an annoying little kid who went through Flip's mail to make sure they had the right house, then refused to stop bouncing balls in front of his house until the coach came outside. Rushin writes:

By then, Flip was a 24-year-old coaching prodigy at Golden Valley Lutheran College, where his teams would go four full seasons without losing a home game. Yet he did an extraordinary thing: He invited us to shoot hoops in his backyard.

It was a concrete half-court overlooked by the luxury suite of a small deck. We called him Flip, and he called us Mike and Rush -- or more accurately, Mike&Rush, a single entity joined by an ampersand, always two feet behind him, like backup singers. We were Flip's Pips.

On Flip's court, we organized an annual, all-day, two-on-two tournament in which a couple of lucky teenagers (Mike&Rush) got to play with and against NBA players (like Houston Rocket Jim Petersen) at a time when teens and NBA players were not one and the same.

An aspiring writer with a weakness for wordplay, I suggested we call our shindig the Saunders Hoop Invitational Tournament, whose acronym Flip gleefully scrawled on a piece of white trainer's tape and adhered to the trophy, which he made from a Cool Whip tub and Nerf ball wrapped in aluminum foil.

And thus was born the SH*T, at which, on June 23, 1984, play was suspended every time Ryne Sandberg, our athletic ideal, hit for the Cubs. On the Game of the Week, against the Cardinals' Bruce Sutter, Ryno hit two game-tying homers that day.

They have been friends ever since, and Rushin's buddy Mike has even been an assistant under Saunders. Not at all hard to understand why Rushin's cheering for the Pistons. And a timely bit of public support for Saunders, who is getting battered in the press every day this week.
There hasn't been an article of the week in ages, but it's not that I have given up on the category. It's that I haven't been that inspired by anything I have read for the last several weeks.

Until today. Steve Rushin of Sports Illustrated, it turns out, has known Flip Saunders since Rushin was an annoying little kid who went through Flip's mail to make sure they had the right house, then refused to stop bouncing balls in front of his house until the coach came outside. Rushin writes:

By then, Flip was a 24-year-old coaching prodigy at Golden Valley Lutheran College, where his teams would go four full seasons without losing a home game. Yet he did an extraordinary thing: He invited us to shoot hoops in his backyard.

It was a concrete half-court overlooked by the luxury suite of a small deck. We called him Flip, and he called us Mike and Rush -- or more accurately, Mike&Rush, a single entity joined by an ampersand, always two feet behind him, like backup singers. We were Flip's Pips.

On Flip's court, we organized an annual, all-day, two-on-two tournament in which a couple of lucky teenagers (Mike&Rush) got to play with and against NBA players (like Houston Rocket Jim Petersen) at a time when teens and NBA players were not one and the same.

An aspiring writer with a weakness for wordplay, I suggested we call our shindig the Saunders Hoop Invitational Tournament, whose acronym Flip gleefully scrawled on a piece of white trainer's tape and adhered to the trophy, which he made from a Cool Whip tub and Nerf ball wrapped in aluminum foil.

And thus was born the SH*T, at which, on June 23, 1984, play was suspended every time Ryne Sandberg, our athletic ideal, hit for the Cubs. On the Game of the Week, against the Cardinals' Bruce Sutter, Ryno hit two game-tying homers that day.

They have been friends ever since, and Rushin's buddy Mike has even been an assistant under Saunders. Not at all hard to understand why Rushin's cheering for the Pistons. And a timely bit of public support for Saunders, who is getting battered in the press every day this week.
There hasn't been an article of the week in ages, but it's not that I have given up on the category. It's that I haven't been that inspired by anything I have read for the last several weeks.

Until today. Steve Rushin of Sports Illustrated, it turns out, has known Flip Saunders since Rushin was an annoying little kid who went through Flip's mail to make sure they had the right house, then refused to stop bouncing balls in front of his house until the coach came outside. Rushin writes:

By then, Flip was a 24-year-old coaching prodigy at Golden Valley Lutheran College, where his teams would go four full seasons without losing a home game. Yet he did an extraordinary thing: He invited us to shoot hoops in his backyard.

It was a concrete half-court overlooked by the luxury suite of a small deck. We called him Flip, and he called us Mike and Rush -- or more accurately, Mike&Rush, a single entity joined by an ampersand, always two feet behind him, like backup singers. We were Flip's Pips.

On Flip's court, we organized an annual, all-day, two-on-two tournament in which a couple of lucky teenagers (Mike&Rush) got to play with and against NBA players (like Houston Rocket Jim Petersen) at a time when teens and NBA players were not one and the same.

An aspiring writer with a weakness for wordplay, I suggested we call our shindig the Saunders Hoop Invitational Tournament, whose acronym Flip gleefully scrawled on a piece of white trainer's tape and adhered to the trophy, which he made from a Cool Whip tub and Nerf ball wrapped in aluminum foil.

And thus was born the SH*T, at which, on June 23, 1984, play was suspended every time Ryne Sandberg, our athletic ideal, hit for the Cubs. On the Game of the Week, against the Cardinals' Bruce Sutter, Ryno hit two game-tying homers that day.

They have been friends ever since, and Rushin's buddy Mike has even been an assistant under Saunders. Not at all hard to understand why Rushin's cheering for the Pistons. And a timely bit of public support for Saunders, who is getting battered in the press every day this week.
There hasn't been an article of the week in ages, but it's not that I have given up on the category. It's that I haven't been that inspired by anything I have read for the last several weeks.

Until today. Steve Rushin of Sports Illustrated, it turns out, has known Flip Saunders since Rushin was an annoying little kid who went through Flip's mail to make sure they had the right house, then refused to stop bouncing balls in front of his house until the coach came outside. Rushin writes:

By then, Flip was a 24-year-old coaching prodigy at Golden Valley Lutheran College, where his teams would go four full seasons without losing a home game. Yet he did an extraordinary thing: He invited us to shoot hoops in his backyard.

It was a concrete half-court overlooked by the luxury suite of a small deck. We called him Flip, and he called us Mike and Rush -- or more accurately, Mike&Rush, a single entity joined by an ampersand, always two feet behind him, like backup singers. We were Flip's Pips.

On Flip's court, we organized an annual, all-day, two-on-two tournament in which a couple of lucky teenagers (Mike&Rush) got to play with and against NBA players (like Houston Rocket Jim Petersen) at a time when teens and NBA players were not one and the same.

An aspiring writer with a weakness for wordplay, I suggested we call our shindig the Saunders Hoop Invitational Tournament, whose acronym Flip gleefully scrawled on a piece of white trainer's tape and adhered to the trophy, which he made from a Cool Whip tub and Nerf ball wrapped in aluminum foil.

And thus was born the SH*T, at which, on June 23, 1984, play was suspended every time Ryne Sandberg, our athletic ideal, hit for the Cubs. On the Game of the Week, against the Cardinals' Bruce Sutter, Ryno hit two game-tying homers that day.

They have been friends ever since, and Rushin's buddy Mike has even been an assistant under Saunders. Not at all hard to understand why Rushin's cheering for the Pistons. And a timely bit of public support for Saunders, who is getting battered in the press every day this week.
As someone who grew up watching the Lakers cream the Blazers in the 1980s, it's very hard for me to see Pat Riley as human. Even reading his autobiography didn't humanize him to me. (In part because it includes the notion that a lot of his friends are too rich draw their own bath water. That's such an easy task, I bet it's easier to do it yourself than to staff it out--but I'm getting sidetracked.)

No, to me Riley has always been a dippity-do robot of victory.

But, as we all learned from Short Circuit (about the time Riley was winning all those championships), even robots can laugh and cry. Years of not winning championships have surely humbled him somewhat.

As have hip problems, age, and the recent death of his mother. S.L. Price has a nice article in the current Sports Illustrated that really tells the tale of Riley today, and it's hardly the tale of a robot.
Yet, as the months passed, even Mourning couldn't avoid the feeling that something wasn't right. NBA rule changes have rendered the bruising style Riley made infamous in New York impossible to implement, so he stocked Miami with scorers, hoping to teach defense along the way. Mourning kept waiting for his teammates to match his fire, for that Riley magic to kick in. But "Riles" wasn't pushing as hard. "He doesn't punish us like he used to," said Mourning in early March. "He used to punish us with defensive drills back in the '90s; it was grueling. He still has the same schemes and the same approach to the game as far as preparation, but he's cut back on our court time. It could have an effect on us not getting what he wants us to get soon enough.

"We have improved since he first stepped in to coach. But I hope we don't run out of time. I just hope we get it before it's too late."
And, of them all, Riley the coach, Riley the grieving son, Riley the legend--the one that might be in the most precarious position of them all is Riley the team executive. The way this team was assembled was a mad gamble. If Miami doesn't win a championship right now, their long-term future is uncertain enough that Dwyane Wade might have to consider signing somewhere else when he's a free agent. If they don't extend his contract next summer, he'll be unrestricted in 2008. The only players they have under contract past 2008 are the two  with big contracts who are hard to rely on for various reasons (Shaquille O'Neal, Antoine Walker) as well as Udonis Haslem, Dorell Wright, and Wayne Simien.

S.L. Price makes the point nicely:
...suddenly there's a hint that his massive gamble -- the summer deals, the coaching change -- could go south. Riley knows too well that the clock is ticking: Payton is 37, Williams 30, Walker will be 30 this summer. Everyone knows. "We've got to do it, and we'd better do it," O'Neal says. "Because the time is now, the setting is now, we're built for now."
As someone who grew up watching the Lakers cream the Blazers in the 1980s, it's very hard for me to see Pat Riley as human. Even reading his autobiography didn't humanize him to me. (In part because it includes the notion that a lot of his friends are too rich draw their own bath water. That's such an easy task, I bet it's easier to do it yourself than to staff it out--but I'm getting sidetracked.)

No, to me Riley has always been a dippity-do robot of victory.

But, as we all learned from Short Circuit (about the time Riley was winning all those championships), even robots can laugh and cry. Years of not winning championships have surely humbled him somewhat.

As have hip problems, age, and the recent death of his mother. S.L. Price has a nice article in the current Sports Illustrated that really tells the tale of Riley today, and it's hardly the tale of a robot.
Yet, as the months passed, even Mourning couldn't avoid the feeling that something wasn't right. NBA rule changes have rendered the bruising style Riley made infamous in New York impossible to implement, so he stocked Miami with scorers, hoping to teach defense along the way. Mourning kept waiting for his teammates to match his fire, for that Riley magic to kick in. But "Riles" wasn't pushing as hard. "He doesn't punish us like he used to," said Mourning in early March. "He used to punish us with defensive drills back in the '90s; it was grueling. He still has the same schemes and the same approach to the game as far as preparation, but he's cut back on our court time. It could have an effect on us not getting what he wants us to get soon enough.

"We have improved since he first stepped in to coach. But I hope we don't run out of time. I just hope we get it before it's too late."
And, of them all, Riley the coach, Riley the grieving son, Riley the legend--the one that might be in the most precarious position of them all is Riley the team executive. The way this team was assembled was a mad gamble. If Miami doesn't win a championship right now, their long-term future is uncertain enough that Dwyane Wade might have to consider signing somewhere else when he's a free agent. If they don't extend his contract next summer, he'll be unrestricted in 2008. The only players they have under contract past 2008 are the two  with big contracts who are hard to rely on for various reasons (Shaquille O'Neal, Antoine Walker) as well as Udonis Haslem, Dorell Wright, and Wayne Simien.

S.L. Price makes the point nicely:
...suddenly there's a hint that his massive gamble -- the summer deals, the coaching change -- could go south. Riley knows too well that the clock is ticking: Payton is 37, Williams 30, Walker will be 30 this summer. Everyone knows. "We've got to do it, and we'd better do it," O'Neal says. "Because the time is now, the setting is now, we're built for now."
As someone who grew up watching the Lakers cream the Blazers in the 1980s, it's very hard for me to see Pat Riley as human. Even reading his autobiography didn't humanize him to me. (In part because it includes the notion that a lot of his friends are too rich draw their own bath water. That's such an easy task, I bet it's easier to do it yourself than to staff it out--but I'm getting sidetracked.)

No, to me Riley has always been a dippity-do robot of victory.

But, as we all learned from Short Circuit (about the time Riley was winning all those championships), even robots can laugh and cry. Years of not winning championships have surely humbled him somewhat.

As have hip problems, age, and the recent death of his mother. S.L. Price has a nice article in the current Sports Illustrated that really tells the tale of Riley today, and it's hardly the tale of a robot.
Yet, as the months passed, even Mourning couldn't avoid the feeling that something wasn't right. NBA rule changes have rendered the bruising style Riley made infamous in New York impossible to implement, so he stocked Miami with scorers, hoping to teach defense along the way. Mourning kept waiting for his teammates to match his fire, for that Riley magic to kick in. But "Riles" wasn't pushing as hard. "He doesn't punish us like he used to," said Mourning in early March. "He used to punish us with defensive drills back in the '90s; it was grueling. He still has the same schemes and the same approach to the game as far as preparation, but he's cut back on our court time. It could have an effect on us not getting what he wants us to get soon enough.

"We have improved since he first stepped in to coach. But I hope we don't run out of time. I just hope we get it before it's too late."
And, of them all, Riley the coach, Riley the grieving son, Riley the legend--the one that might be in the most precarious position of them all is Riley the team executive. The way this team was assembled was a mad gamble. If Miami doesn't win a championship right now, their long-term future is uncertain enough that Dwyane Wade might have to consider signing somewhere else when he's a free agent. If they don't extend his contract next summer, he'll be unrestricted in 2008. The only players they have under contract past 2008 are the two  with big contracts who are hard to rely on for various reasons (Shaquille O'Neal, Antoine Walker) as well as Udonis Haslem, Dorell Wright, and Wayne Simien.

S.L. Price makes the point nicely:
...suddenly there's a hint that his massive gamble -- the summer deals, the coaching change -- could go south. Riley knows too well that the clock is ticking: Payton is 37, Williams 30, Walker will be 30 this summer. Everyone knows. "We've got to do it, and we'd better do it," O'Neal says. "Because the time is now, the setting is now, we're built for now."
As someone who grew up watching the Lakers cream the Blazers in the 1980s, it's very hard for me to see Pat Riley as human. Even reading his autobiography didn't humanize him to me. (In part because it includes the notion that a lot of his friends are too rich draw their own bath water. That's such an easy task, I bet it's easier to do it yourself than to staff it out--but I'm getting sidetracked.)

No, to me Riley has always been a dippity-do robot of victory.

But, as we all learned from Short Circuit (about the time Riley was winning all those championships), even robots can laugh and cry. Years of not winning championships have surely humbled him somewhat.

As have hip problems, age, and the recent death of his mother. S.L. Price has a nice article in the current Sports Illustrated that really tells the tale of Riley today, and it's hardly the tale of a robot.
Yet, as the months passed, even Mourning couldn't avoid the feeling that something wasn't right. NBA rule changes have rendered the bruising style Riley made infamous in New York impossible to implement, so he stocked Miami with scorers, hoping to teach defense along the way. Mourning kept waiting for his teammates to match his fire, for that Riley magic to kick in. But "Riles" wasn't pushing as hard. "He doesn't punish us like he used to," said Mourning in early March. "He used to punish us with defensive drills back in the '90s; it was grueling. He still has the same schemes and the same approach to the game as far as preparation, but he's cut back on our court time. It could have an effect on us not getting what he wants us to get soon enough.

"We have improved since he first stepped in to coach. But I hope we don't run out of time. I just hope we get it before it's too late."
And, of them all, Riley the coach, Riley the grieving son, Riley the legend--the one that might be in the most precarious position of them all is Riley the team executive. The way this team was assembled was a mad gamble. If Miami doesn't win a championship right now, their long-term future is uncertain enough that Dwyane Wade might have to consider signing somewhere else when he's a free agent. If they don't extend his contract next summer, he'll be unrestricted in 2008. The only players they have under contract past 2008 are the two  with big contracts who are hard to rely on for various reasons (Shaquille O'Neal, Antoine Walker) as well as Udonis Haslem, Dorell Wright, and Wayne Simien.

S.L. Price makes the point nicely:
...suddenly there's a hint that his massive gamble -- the summer deals, the coaching change -- could go south. Riley knows too well that the clock is ticking: Payton is 37, Williams 30, Walker will be 30 this summer. Everyone knows. "We've got to do it, and we'd better do it," O'Neal says. "Because the time is now, the setting is now, we're built for now."
My apologies. The article of the week has been AWOL in 2006, and the first one of the year is an article that isn't even from this week.

But, please, read Tom Farrey's story from ESPN magazine about Carmelo Anthony. It's really Anthony that gets my attention here, because he's talking frankly about things that a lot of professional athletes experienced--but Anthony's the only one I know who's talking about his good relationships with drug dealers, and mistrust of cops.
For months after last winter's PR storm, Anthony's handlers wouldn't grant interviews with him unless a reporter agreed not to ask about "Stop Snitching." No more. Anthony never felt he'd done anything wrong, nothing big at least. Now, he wants to talk about where he comes from, the hand he was dealt.

In the Pepsi Center, he sets down a PDA he has been tapping away at and leans back in his chair. "Drug dealers funded our programs," he says. "Drug dealers bought our uniforms." They were just about the only guys in the hood with the cash to outfit a team. They did it for three years beginning in late elementary school, he says, and never asked Anthony for anything in return, like carrying product. "They just wanted to see you do good."

When the cops took over the nearby rec center and nailed a Police Athletic League sign on the front, Anthony and his friends boycotted. The goal may have been to clear out the dealers, but to him it felt like one more act of harassment, another form of bullying by some Charm City cop who doesn't especially trust loitering young black males. More than once, Anthony says, men in blue left him black-and-blue. "Nothing major," he says. "They'd just choke me, drag me around." It was enough to seal the kind of resentment that could one day lead to five minutes of face time on a fire-starter DVD. Think of the cameo as support for old friends in a hood to which he no longer belongs.

A few months after "Stop Snitching" hit the streets, Baltimore police asked Anthony to appear in a production of their own, "Keep Talking." He committed only to lending his name to an antiviolence campaign led by a local surgeon who stitches up gunshot wounds nightly. Anthony is a child of the War on Drugs. So he thinks in war terms, us versus them.

"I would never snitch," he says. "I would never testify on anything. That's just the street code." As the declarations tumble from his mouth, his marketing people sit 25 feet away. They have spent the past year trying to salvage his corporate appeal. And they have done it gladly, because they know his heart. In spite of everything, they lined up an endorsement deal with PowerBar -- not exactly IBM, but not a bad get. They kept the "Got Milk?" folks from bailing early, and made the Nickelodeon cameo happen. But their client doesn't make their job easy. "If you snitch," Anthony says, oblivious to them, "you're talking about someone's life."


(It seems like plagiarism in a way, but below are my own thoughts on the topic, mainly from an e-mail to a friend.)

Used to be, decades ago, we had real heroes. Or so we thought. But then years later you read the tell-all biography and find that everyone--take your pick, from Winston Churchill to Dr. King--had shortcomings.

Then the media mushroomed, news went around the clock, and the flaws--stupid little ones and meaningful big ones alike--are being exposed in just about every would-be hero every day. Everyone is acting like the whole world is on fire. But it's nothing new. What's new is that now we know about it in real time.

That genie's not going back in the bottle (nor should it, I suppose) but I'm in favor of all of us being a little more realistic and calm about it. We need to adjust to the incredible amount of information that we get every day, and take a deep breath.

Seeing Carmelo stand tall, speak with dignity, and say that he has done some stuff that he knows most of America disagrees with--to me, that's progress. He's not sneaking around with shame. He's making it easy for the rest of us not to over-react.

I like the idea that you can dislike a thing about a person without disliking the person. ("You are all welcome to come on in," I remember someone saying once "but that hair has to stay outside.") I might not like how Bill Clinton handles his personal fluids around the interns, but he gives a nice speech and the economy sure hummed when he was in office, if you see what I mean.

I'm not saying I'd forgive anything in anyone, but in general I like the idea that we can be honest about our shortcomings while maintaining some dignity.

And as for the wars in our cities? I wish I could say I believed the cops were always the good guys like on TV. But, sadly, I believe it's much more complicated than that.

As Farrey covers well in the article (by interviewing the mother of a young man who was killed apparently to keep him from testifying), the "stop snitching" campaign is dangerous and wrong-headed. Any way you slice it, it's not really about keeping the peace, it's about protecting the people who make big money filling our cities with violence and addiction.

But it would be easier to make the case against it if there weren't so many problems with the justice system. And I don't think we need to hate Carmelo Anthony for anything. I agree with Tom Farrey, who said in a chat about the article that "in the two months I spent working on the story, I didn't come away thinking the kid is trouble. He just has some thoughts on inner-city social issues."

He's a brashly honest, if perhaps slightly misguided, guy in a complicated world. This is good healthy dialogue--which is always better than seething silence when it comes way to solving problems. I applaud Carmelo Anthony and Tom Farrey for getting this conversation started.
My apologies. The article of the week has been AWOL in 2006, and the first one of the year is an article that isn't even from this week.

But, please, read Tom Farrey's story from ESPN magazine about Carmelo Anthony. It's really Anthony that gets my attention here, because he's talking frankly about things that a lot of professional athletes experienced--but Anthony's the only one I know who's talking about his good relationships with drug dealers, and mistrust of cops.
For months after last winter's PR storm, Anthony's handlers wouldn't grant interviews with him unless a reporter agreed not to ask about "Stop Snitching." No more. Anthony never felt he'd done anything wrong, nothing big at least. Now, he wants to talk about where he comes from, the hand he was dealt.

In the Pepsi Center, he sets down a PDA he has been tapping away at and leans back in his chair. "Drug dealers funded our programs," he says. "Drug dealers bought our uniforms." They were just about the only guys in the hood with the cash to outfit a team. They did it for three years beginning in late elementary school, he says, and never asked Anthony for anything in return, like carrying product. "They just wanted to see you do good."

When the cops took over the nearby rec center and nailed a Police Athletic League sign on the front, Anthony and his friends boycotted. The goal may have been to clear out the dealers, but to him it felt like one more act of harassment, another form of bullying by some Charm City cop who doesn't especially trust loitering young black males. More than once, Anthony says, men in blue left him black-and-blue. "Nothing major," he says. "They'd just choke me, drag me around." It was enough to seal the kind of resentment that could one day lead to five minutes of face time on a fire-starter DVD. Think of the cameo as support for old friends in a hood to which he no longer belongs.

A few months after "Stop Snitching" hit the streets, Baltimore police asked Anthony to appear in a production of their own, "Keep Talking." He committed only to lending his name to an antiviolence campaign led by a local surgeon who stitches up gunshot wounds nightly. Anthony is a child of the War on Drugs. So he thinks in war terms, us versus them.

"I would never snitch," he says. "I would never testify on anything. That's just the street code." As the declarations tumble from his mouth, his marketing people sit 25 feet away. They have spent the past year trying to salvage his corporate appeal. And they have done it gladly, because they know his heart. In spite of everything, they lined up an endorsement deal with PowerBar -- not exactly IBM, but not a bad get. They kept the "Got Milk?" folks from bailing early, and made the Nickelodeon cameo happen. But their client doesn't make their job easy. "If you snitch," Anthony says, oblivious to them, "you're talking about someone's life."


(It seems like plagiarism in a way, but below are my own thoughts on the topic, mainly from an e-mail to a friend.)

Used to be, decades ago, we had real heroes. Or so we thought. But then years later you read the tell-all biography and find that everyone--take your pick, from Winston Churchill to Dr. King--had shortcomings.

Then the media mushroomed, news went around the clock, and the flaws--stupid little ones and meaningful big ones alike--are being exposed in just about every would-be hero every day. Everyone is acting like the whole world is on fire. But it's nothing new. What's new is that now we know about it in real time.

That genie's not going back in the bottle (nor should it, I suppose) but I'm in favor of all of us being a little more realistic and calm about it. We need to adjust to the incredible amount of information that we get every day, and take a deep breath.

Seeing Carmelo stand tall, speak with dignity, and say that he has done some stuff that he knows most of America disagrees with--to me, that's progress. He's not sneaking around with shame. He's making it easy for the rest of us not to over-react.

I like the idea that you can dislike a thing about a person without disliking the person. ("You are all welcome to come on in," I remember someone saying once "but that hair has to stay outside.") I might not like how Bill Clinton handles his personal fluids around the interns, but he gives a nice speech and the economy sure hummed when he was in office, if you see what I mean.

I'm not saying I'd forgive anything in anyone, but in general I like the idea that we can be honest about our shortcomings while maintaining some dignity.

And as for the wars in our cities? I wish I could say I believed the cops were always the good guys like on TV. But, sadly, I believe it's much more complicated than that.

As Farrey covers well in the article (by interviewing the mother of a young man who was killed apparently to keep him from testifying), the "stop snitching" campaign is dangerous and wrong-headed. Any way you slice it, it's not really about keeping the peace, it's about protecting the people who make big money filling our cities with violence and addiction.

But it would be easier to make the case against it if there weren't so many problems with the justice system. And I don't think we need to hate Carmelo Anthony for anything. I agree with Tom Farrey, who said in a chat about the article that "in the two months I spent working on the story, I didn't come away thinking the kid is trouble. He just has some thoughts on inner-city social issues."

He's a brashly honest, if perhaps slightly misguided, guy in a complicated world. This is good healthy dialogue--which is always better than seething silence when it comes way to solving problems. I applaud Carmelo Anthony and Tom Farrey for getting this conversation started.
My apologies. The article of the week has been AWOL in 2006, and the first one of the year is an article that isn't even from this week.

But, please, read Tom Farrey's story from ESPN magazine about Carmelo Anthony. It's really Anthony that gets my attention here, because he's talking frankly about things that a lot of professional athletes experienced--but Anthony's the only one I know who's talking about his good relationships with drug dealers, and mistrust of cops.
For months after last winter's PR storm, Anthony's handlers wouldn't grant interviews with him unless a reporter agreed not to ask about "Stop Snitching." No more. Anthony never felt he'd done anything wrong, nothing big at least. Now, he wants to talk about where he comes from, the hand he was dealt.

In the Pepsi Center, he sets down a PDA he has been tapping away at and leans back in his chair. "Drug dealers funded our programs," he says. "Drug dealers bought our uniforms." They were just about the only guys in the hood with the cash to outfit a team. They did it for three years beginning in late elementary school, he says, and never asked Anthony for anything in return, like carrying product. "They just wanted to see you do good."

When the cops took over the nearby rec center and nailed a Police Athletic League sign on the front, Anthony and his friends boycotted. The goal may have been to clear out the dealers, but to him it felt like one more act of harassment, another form of bullying by some Charm City cop who doesn't especially trust loitering young black males. More than once, Anthony says, men in blue left him black-and-blue. "Nothing major," he says. "They'd just choke me, drag me around." It was enough to seal the kind of resentment that could one day lead to five minutes of face time on a fire-starter DVD. Think of the cameo as support for old friends in a hood to which he no longer belongs.

A few months after "Stop Snitching" hit the streets, Baltimore police asked Anthony to appear in a production of their own, "Keep Talking." He committed only to lending his name to an antiviolence campaign led by a local surgeon who stitches up gunshot wounds nightly. Anthony is a child of the War on Drugs. So he thinks in war terms, us versus them.

"I would never snitch," he says. "I would never testify on anything. That's just the street code." As the declarations tumble from his mouth, his marketing people sit 25 feet away. They have spent the past year trying to salvage his corporate appeal. And they have done it gladly, because they know his heart. In spite of everything, they lined up an endorsement deal with PowerBar -- not exactly IBM, but not a bad get. They kept the "Got Milk?" folks from bailing early, and made the Nickelodeon cameo happen. But their client doesn't make their job easy. "If you snitch," Anthony says, oblivious to them, "you're talking about someone's life."


(It seems like plagiarism in a way, but below are my own thoughts on the topic, mainly from an e-mail to a friend.)

Used to be, decades ago, we had real heroes. Or so we thought. But then years later you read the tell-all biography and find that everyone--take your pick, from Winston Churchill to Dr. King--had shortcomings.

Then the media mushroomed, news went around the clock, and the flaws--stupid little ones and meaningful big ones alike--are being exposed in just about every would-be hero every day. Everyone is acting like the whole world is on fire. But it's nothing new. What's new is that now we know about it in real time.

That genie's not going back in the bottle (nor should it, I suppose) but I'm in favor of all of us being a little more realistic and calm about it. We need to adjust to the incredible amount of information that we get every day, and take a deep breath.

Seeing Carmelo stand tall, speak with dignity, and say that he has done some stuff that he knows most of America disagrees with--to me, that's progress. He's not sneaking around with shame. He's making it easy for the rest of us not to over-react.

I like the idea that you can dislike a thing about a person without disliking the person. ("You are all welcome to come on in," I remember someone saying once "but that hair has to stay outside.") I might not like how Bill Clinton handles his personal fluids around the interns, but he gives a nice speech and the economy sure hummed when he was in office, if you see what I mean.

I'm not saying I'd forgive anything in anyone, but in general I like the idea that we can be honest about our shortcomings while maintaining some dignity.

And as for the wars in our cities? I wish I could say I believed the cops were always the good guys like on TV. But, sadly, I believe it's much more complicated than that.

As Farrey covers well in the article (by interviewing the mother of a young man who was killed apparently to keep him from testifying), the "stop snitching" campaign is dangerous and wrong-headed. Any way you slice it, it's not really about keeping the peace, it's about protecting the people who make big money filling our cities with violence and addiction.

But it would be easier to make the case against it if there weren't so many problems with the justice system. And I don't think we need to hate Carmelo Anthony for anything. I agree with Tom Farrey, who said in a chat about the article that "in the two months I spent working on the story, I didn't come away thinking the kid is trouble. He just has some thoughts on inner-city social issues."

He's a brashly honest, if perhaps slightly misguided, guy in a complicated world. This is good healthy dialogue--which is always better than seething silence when it comes way to solving problems. I applaud Carmelo Anthony and Tom Farrey for getting this conversation started.
My apologies. The article of the week has been AWOL in 2006, and the first one of the year is an article that isn't even from this week.

But, please, read Tom Farrey's story from ESPN magazine about Carmelo Anthony. It's really Anthony that gets my attention here, because he's talking frankly about things that a lot of professional athletes experienced--but Anthony's the only one I know who's talking about his good relationships with drug dealers, and mistrust of cops.
For months after last winter's PR storm, Anthony's handlers wouldn't grant interviews with him unless a reporter agreed not to ask about "Stop Snitching." No more. Anthony never felt he'd done anything wrong, nothing big at least. Now, he wants to talk about where he comes from, the hand he was dealt.

In the Pepsi Center, he sets down a PDA he has been tapping away at and leans back in his chair. "Drug dealers funded our programs," he says. "Drug dealers bought our uniforms." They were just about the only guys in the hood with the cash to outfit a team. They did it for three years beginning in late elementary school, he says, and never asked Anthony for anything in return, like carrying product. "They just wanted to see you do good."

When the cops took over the nearby rec center and nailed a Police Athletic League sign on the front, Anthony and his friends boycotted. The goal may have been to clear out the dealers, but to him it felt like one more act of harassment, another form of bullying by some Charm City cop who doesn't especially trust loitering young black males. More than once, Anthony says, men in blue left him black-and-blue. "Nothing major," he says. "They'd just choke me, drag me around." It was enough to seal the kind of resentment that could one day lead to five minutes of face time on a fire-starter DVD. Think of the cameo as support for old friends in a hood to which he no longer belongs.

A few months after "Stop Snitching" hit the streets, Baltimore police asked Anthony to appear in a production of their own, "Keep Talking." He committed only to lending his name to an antiviolence campaign led by a local surgeon who stitches up gunshot wounds nightly. Anthony is a child of the War on Drugs. So he thinks in war terms, us versus them.

"I would never snitch," he says. "I would never testify on anything. That's just the street code." As the declarations tumble from his mouth, his marketing people sit 25 feet away. They have spent the past year trying to salvage his corporate appeal. And they have done it gladly, because they know his heart. In spite of everything, they lined up an endorsement deal with PowerBar -- not exactly IBM, but not a bad get. They kept the "Got Milk?" folks from bailing early, and made the Nickelodeon cameo happen. But their client doesn't make their job easy. "If you snitch," Anthony says, oblivious to them, "you're talking about someone's life."


(It seems like plagiarism in a way, but below are my own thoughts on the topic, mainly from an e-mail to a friend.)

Used to be, decades ago, we had real heroes. Or so we thought. But then years later you read the tell-all biography and find that everyone--take your pick, from Winston Churchill to Dr. King--had shortcomings.

Then the media mushroomed, news went around the clock, and the flaws--stupid little ones and meaningful big ones alike--are being exposed in just about every would-be hero every day. Everyone is acting like the whole world is on fire. But it's nothing new. What's new is that now we know about it in real time.

That genie's not going back in the bottle (nor should it, I suppose) but I'm in favor of all of us being a little more realistic and calm about it. We need to adjust to the incredible amount of information that we get every day, and take a deep breath.

Seeing Carmelo stand tall, speak with dignity, and say that he has done some stuff that he knows most of America disagrees with--to me, that's progress. He's not sneaking around with shame. He's making it easy for the rest of us not to over-react.

I like the idea that you can dislike a thing about a person without disliking the person. ("You are all welcome to come on in," I remember someone saying once "but that hair has to stay outside.") I might not like how Bill Clinton handles his personal fluids around the interns, but he gives a nice speech and the economy sure hummed when he was in office, if you see what I mean.

I'm not saying I'd forgive anything in anyone, but in general I like the idea that we can be honest about our shortcomings while maintaining some dignity.

And as for the wars in our cities? I wish I could say I believed the cops were always the good guys like on TV. But, sadly, I believe it's much more complicated than that.

As Farrey covers well in the article (by interviewing the mother of a young man who was killed apparently to keep him from testifying), the "stop snitching" campaign is dangerous and wrong-headed. Any way you slice it, it's not really about keeping the peace, it's about protecting the people who make big money filling our cities with violence and addiction.

But it would be easier to make the case against it if there weren't so many problems with the justice system. And I don't think we need to hate Carmelo Anthony for anything. I agree with Tom Farrey, who said in a chat about the article that "in the two months I spent working on the story, I didn't come away thinking the kid is trouble. He just has some thoughts on inner-city social issues."

He's a brashly honest, if perhaps slightly misguided, guy in a complicated world. This is good healthy dialogue--which is always better than seething silence when it comes way to solving problems. I applaud Carmelo Anthony and Tom Farrey for getting this conversation started.
Oh, it's not Hemingway, but it's a personable and fun account of traveling on the road with an NBA team. And it has some little tidbits you won't get anywhere else, like this account of injured Keyon Dooling's attempt to help his team with one part of him that does work--his mouth:
As a veteran, the injured guard requires rookie Travis Diener to give him a hand out of his seat. Diener, to his credit, does so with a mildly amused look on his face. It should be noted that Travis Diener was a two-time all-conference player at Marquette, leading his team to the Final Four in 2003. Tonight, he's helping Keyon Dooling stand up. Welcome to the NBA, rookie.

As for the chatter from Dooling, it is both non-stop and exquisite. To Knicks rookie Channing Frye, after getting dunked on by Dwight Howard: "You better get used to that, Channing! It's gonna happen all night!"

To the entire Knicks lineup, after a touch-foul sends Grant Hill to the free throw line: "You can't touch Mr. Hill! Don't you know who that is?"

To Jamal Crawford: "Jamal, as soon as you get it, shoot it, baby. Just put it up. Don't even hesitate. We WANT you shooting it."

And he says a lot of bad things about Stephon Marbury and the Knicks, which is always good for ratings.
Oh, it's not Hemingway, but it's a personable and fun account of traveling on the road with an NBA team. And it has some little tidbits you won't get anywhere else, like this account of injured Keyon Dooling's attempt to help his team with one part of him that does work--his mouth:
As a veteran, the injured guard requires rookie Travis Diener to give him a hand out of his seat. Diener, to his credit, does so with a mildly amused look on his face. It should be noted that Travis Diener was a two-time all-conference player at Marquette, leading his team to the Final Four in 2003. Tonight, he's helping Keyon Dooling stand up. Welcome to the NBA, rookie.

As for the chatter from Dooling, it is both non-stop and exquisite. To Knicks rookie Channing Frye, after getting dunked on by Dwight Howard: "You better get used to that, Channing! It's gonna happen all night!"

To the entire Knicks lineup, after a touch-foul sends Grant Hill to the free throw line: "You can't touch Mr. Hill! Don't you know who that is?"

To Jamal Crawford: "Jamal, as soon as you get it, shoot it, baby. Just put it up. Don't even hesitate. We WANT you shooting it."

And he says a lot of bad things about Stephon Marbury and the Knicks, which is always good for ratings.

SPONSORED HEADLINES