I thought I’d use this All Star Break as a nice chance to gasp for air in this waterboarding session of a season and not write at all about the Bobcats for a weekend. I didn’t feel like examining this team’s first 30-odd games of the year anymore than I feel like examining my own rectum. But I was inspired by Gregg Easterbrook of all people. For those of you lucky enough to have not stumbled on him, Easterbrook spews forth his recurring “Tuesday Morning Quarterback” column on ESPN during the NFL season, in which he peppers his pathological hatred for large football-centric colleges and drafted football players amongst random outer-space factoids and ponderous, in-depth critiques of terrible sci-fi shows that nobody likes in the first place. He also loves to theorize, and does so with arrogant certainty—which is funny, because one of his go-to theories is that a team or a coach failed because they “angered the football gods.” Probably the only reason I keep reading his columns is that he fills me with that sense of shame and disgust that I can’t get anywhere else during the Bobcats offseason.
Anyway, I was looking over one of the TMQ’s Easterbrook shat out towards the end of this NFL season, and it featured one of his typical pseudo-lectures, this one being on why football has become such a hit on television. Here were his five reasons:
- Football is America’s most popular sport
- Football is a great DVR sport
- Football is live
- Women are acquiring more social and economic power
- Only men can understand flat-screen HD TV remotes
Let’s set aside the last bullet, because it was intended as a joke (at least, I think it was, because it was inserted in a punchline slot—with Easterbrook, the jokes are often only recognized structurally). Look at the other four. I’m not even sure if the first one can technically be considered a “reason.” Saying that something has huge TV ratings because it’s really popular is like saying the Bobcats are terrible because they lose a lot—it’s a trivial explanation at best. As for the next two reasons, they could just as easily apply to other sports. The last one about women is Easterbrook just brown-nosing for some book one of his Bowdoin (or some other non-football college) buddies wrote about men retreating to masculine rituals now that women have gotten all uppity. And that’s it! Those are his reasons. Nothing about how football long ago carved out a spot on Sunday afternoon/evening, when much of America is sitting around with nothing to do; nothing about the hard cap that makes lots of teams competitive, thereby drawing interest across the country; nothing about the single-elimination playoffs; nothing about the scarcity of games (once a week per team and the shortest season of the big 4 pro sports); nothing about football’s innovations in the viewing experience (ie, pioneering the instant replay).
So in the spirit of Easterbrook, here is my mid-season theory of the Bobcats that explains nothing and is totally worthless. For no particular reason, I’ve listed the players in order of minutes played (minimum of 300—even I have a life):
- Kemba Walker (934 minutes). Can you believe he’s played the most of anyone this year? If nothing else, the kid’s a gamer. His PER has crept up over 15, but his assists ratio is a pass-the-vomit-bag 50th in the league amongst PG’s and his shooting accuracy is comparable to Dick Cheney’s. If he can learn to drive and dish that would solve a lot. But telling a PG he can improve by driving and dishing more would be the type of advice Easterbrook would give.
- Boris Diaw (904 minutes). Sweet baby Jesus, no wonder why this season has been so unbearable! Just look at all the time we’ve spent watching Boris Diaw!
- Gerald Henderson (710 minutes). My memories of him are receding faster than his hairline. I hope he comes back soon. He had started talking about driving to the net just before he got injured, in the same way that Malcolm X started talking about being more empathetic toward others just before he got gunned down. Let’s hope a little thing like getting decked by Jared Jefferies and sitting out 6 weeks hasn’t permanently scarred him.
- DJ Augustin (673 minutes). A perennial tease, Augustin is the classic case of someone who has all of the pieces but can’t display more than one of them on any night. He also apparently has a crack in his foot, and any more than one crack on the human body is too many.
- Byron Mullens (651 minutes). A nice outside shooter, but a sub-Darko rebounder (57th among centers in rebound rate) and just a 1.5 EWA. If only Charles Oakley hadn’t been jumped by a bunch of guys in Vegas, we might have had something here.
- Derrick Brown (650 minutes). He makes less ($850K) than Mitt Romney does for a speech in which he compliments a state’s trees and lawns, so he’s easily our most cost-effective player. And he and DJ White ought to be nicknamed “Triage” for the emergency work they’ve done for the next guy…
- Tyrus Thomas (576 minutes). I know what you’re thinking here: thank god we didn’t trade a first round draft pick for him and then sign him to a long-term contract!
- Bismack Biyombo (520 minutes). I’m not quite ready to admit I was wrong about him, but he’s come a long way. And believe me, no one will be happier to admit being totally wrong about him than me. In two years from now, I’d love to admit that my predictions for his demise were as ridiculous as when Ray Lewis predicted that a football lockout would spark a nationwide crime wave.
- DJ White (512 minutes). He’s the Barnes & Noble Nook to Derrick Brown’s Kindle Fire: slightly more expensive ($2M) and slightly less useful (13.9 PER compared to Brown’s 15.3 PER). And neither is an iPad.
- Corey Maggette (362 minutes). His usage rate is a whopping 4th among power forwards (the top 3: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant—one of these four is not like the others), but his TS% remains more in the tank than that zombie soldier in The Walking Dead. Because of this, he’s got a single-digit PER. He’s got a negative EWA. He’s got $10M coming to him. He’s got me throwing up me on my laptop.
- Matt Carroll (353 minutes). That can’t be right. Where did the other 300 minutes come from?
- Reggie Williams (308 minutes). I imagine Williams views the court like a first-person shooter video game. He guns it like we knew he would and occasionally gets some rebounds and assists (3.8 and 2 per game, respectively) to power up, gather experience points, defeat the boss character, and advance to the next level.