Joe is in Columbia writing for irreputable publication VICE Magazine, so I am answering questions alone this week.
FAMOUS WRITER BEN GOLLIVER asks:
We can all agree that Damian Lillard’s series-clinching buzzer-beater in his first playoff series was the Blazers’ “Illmatic” moment. Even at 23, Lillard already holds a prime spot in franchise history on the strength of that moment alone.
My question: exactly how deep does his popularity run at this moment? If you heard that Lillard was traded this summer, how many players in the league would produce more excitement by their arrival compared to the disappointment caused by Lillard’s departure? Any?
1. “Illmatic,” for those weren’t previously aware, is an album by the hip-hop artists Nasir “Nas” Jones. Here is a video of him reading a song off the album off a teleprompter in front of a crowd of human beings. It is like the “Live at Fillmore East” of hip-hop music, a masterpiece produced at the height of the artist’s powers. Much like “Fillmore East,” though, whose release coincided with the untimely death of legendary lead guitarist Duane Allman, “Illmatic” was a high point that Mr. Jones was never able to reach again. Hip-hop heads have pissed and moaned about every song and album Nas has put out since. I mention this only to say that if that shot was truly the Blazers “Illmatic” moment, we are in for 20 years of complaining. “When is Dame gonna hit another gamer winner?” “Lillard gotta start taking inbounds from Batum again, these new inbounders is lame.” Hopefully, Lillard’s career reaches new height after new height: a Ghostface Killah trajectory and the shot was merely his Ironman.
2. This isn’t to say that Lillard hasn’t carved out a place in our hearts, though. The Rose Shoten (A shot that happened in the Rose Garden? Cut me some slack, I haven’t noticed anyone else trying to give it a name!) was a bonding moment between Lillard and BlazerFan. It was a perfect moment: a game nearly ripped from their hands by dashing villain Chandler Parsons and stolen back with a perfect shot from the perfect location. Perfect location, by the way: if you told me Dame was going to hit a series winner, I would have pointed to that spot on the court and bet all five of the dollars I have on that being the location. There was yelling. There were tears. Babies born nine months later. Dwight Howard held his knees and looked really stressed out. Beautiful stuff.
It was a moment that blinded Blazer partisans to Damian, as a child is to their mother:
Whoever is playing backup point next year, be it Mo Williams or someone else, will never receive love from Portland faithful. Damian will leave the room and we will cry for him, panic, until the weird psychologist guy (Sotts) tells him to come back into the room. Then he will take everyone in his steady arms and we will ignore all of the other toys in the room.
So if Damian is our mother, who amongst the NBA’s population could become our SUPER mother? I consulted ESPN’s RPM tool and sorted by WARP: There were 21 players who were worth more wins than Dame by RPM (This list includes Channing Frye, which, weird.):
In looking at this list, I can confidently state that, even though there might be some initial pain, we would probably accept Lebron and Durant as our super mothers. Durant in particular might balm the wound of the Oden pick: the mother we were always meant to have. Then, I don’t know. Steph and CP3 are great and all, but Chris is old and has been mother to so many, and Steph is just too eerily similar to our old mom, but he shoots threes better and drives to the rim worse. If Dirk shows up, that’s a chaos on all kinds of levels – your weird German uncle who everyone likes, abandoning his family to replace your dead mom. Kyle Lowry I would find actively upsetting, like if mom turned into a giant mean dog who was kind of spotty about making breakfast. I don’t even think James Harden and Dwight Howard’s family love them all that much, Blazer fans would cry until their tears were gone and blood leaked from their eyes.
This is all to say, Durant and Lebron and no one else, even if it would make sense as a basketball move.
3. Then again, anyone would come to love Tony Allen sooner or later.
SMOKED OUT FROM THIS SLATE ARTICLE ASKS,
Ours is the home my family and my husband’s family come to for holiday meals, and I am more than happy to play hostess. I have asked the smokers, who make up about half of the guest list, to smoke outside or in the garage. The problem is, I said my grandmother could smoke inside. She is 91 years old, and I would never ask her to stand outside in the cold. I also feel that at her age, she can do what she wants in my home. Now everyone else says they should be allowed to smoke inside if my grandmother is doing it. I have tried to explain that one smoker is different from 15 of them. Of course, the nonsmoking part of the family doesn’t want any smoking in the house. Am I being unreasonable? Should I tell Grandma not to smoke, either?
You know, Smoked, this reminds me of a something in MY life, and I think discussing it will illuminate your situation. A basketball team I follow called the “Portland Trail Blazers” are entering the free agency period soon and one of their positions of need will be backup point guard. Their current backup – an older gentlemen who we will call “Mu Wollams” to protect his anonymity – is serviceable at times, but he is an atrocious defender who has a bad habit of ball stopping even when he comes off picks. This is a problem for the Blazers because their offense thrives on ball movement, which gets all gunked up when Mu has the ball in his hands.
But he is an older man, who has had a fairly respectable NBA career, and the coach of this team – whom I will call “Terry Cloths” – affords him a lot of respect and playing time even when he is carbombing the team. It sounds like Mu is going to be declining his player option this year, and the Blazers would, presumably, have a good crack at signing him again. I wouldn’t mind if his role was reduced and there was a strict expectation that he avoid jacking up long twos, not using Lillard/Mu two guard lineups. But “Vets” like Mu are catnip for NBA Coaches; note how Derek Fisher somehow commanded minutes in high leverage Oklahoma games this year! Terry just won’t be able to help himself, NBA coaching is a sickness and veteran fetish is a symptom.
The Blazers’ problem with Mu and your problem with your grandma have to same solution: just say no. We defer far too much to our elders, and we ought to leave them out in the cold more often. Get this lady a sweater and avoid signing her to a multi-year deal, so you won’t be enabling your greedy cig huffing relatives or Terry Cloth to do something that’s just going to stink up the joint.
FROM @jandavidjansen on TWITTER DOT COM: why is Terry Sotts so dreamy?
1. Well, Terry IS very tall, and according to the “Best answer” on this Yahoo! Answers thread women are attracted to tall men because it is “part of the alpha dog thing…subconsciously we want a man to protect us.” This is scientific stuff, ask anyone.
2. A lot of people say that Terry looks like Peyton Manning, who is a symbol of power, wealth, and sex in this and every country.
3. Terry is from Iowa, where they force feed young boys corn and shoe polish until they become handsome gentlemen.
FROM NOT FAMOUS WRITER ALEX DEWEY, @DrewNO on TWITTER DOT COM: Do you expect Mo Williams to grow a second face on the back of his original face with the face of LeBron?
SEND QUESTIONS TO firstname.lastname@example.org and/or @pdxroundball + @corbinasmith over at twitter dot com; they will probably get answered. You could ask about pretty much anything. It’s SHOCKING how hard it is to generate these on a week to week basis. Thanks to Caitlin Obom for editing this post: she is in the sketch comedy group Drop the Root Beer and Run, who perform in and around Seattle, WA.