With Andre Roberson closing quickly, Brook Lopez launches a three, early in the shot clock but with enough space to give it a chance. The ball clanks off the front of the rim, kisses the backboard and falls into the left hand of professional basketball’s most perplexing genius, to rapturous applause from what should be a hostile crowd. It is the latter’s tenth rebound of the night, and after adding two more, combined with his 25 points and 19 assists, the intensely focused scientist sits, his team all but guaranteed a victory they would soon officially claim, his 33rd triple-double of the season secure.
Thunder doesn’t only happen when it’s raining. It was in the middle of March, in the midst of an overhyped blizzard, that the Brodie came to Brooklyn.
Suffering from a deafness which plagued him over the final three decades of his life, Ludwig van Beethoven explored new and innovative areas of musical theory which sometimes left him in controversial straits with critics. Having already composed countless quartets and sonatas as well as several symphonies, Beethoven continued to push the bounds of sound through his late period, often incorporating the influences of Bach, Handel and his immediate predecessor as foremost composer in the world, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Until his death in 1827, Beethoven strove to perfect the sounds and styles of the time which produced him.
On Sunday, two NBA title contenders, each by an MVP candidate, met in Houston for the second and final time in the regular season. The team that prevailed, the Houston Rockets, did so in much the same fashion as they have done all year: by adhering to their particular brand of the NBA’s prevailing style, launching as many threes as possible and, when that wasn’t available, getting to the rim for high percentage shots and foul opportunities. At the eye of the Rockets’ storm is James Harden, high-volume wing-turned-obscenely efficient point guard, a scoring machine in either case.
“Morte di Cesare,” Vincenzo Camucci
As common as love, perhaps more so, betrayal is a delicate theme which, if the Book of Genesis is to be trusted, has permeated history since the inception of existence. We know how this one goes: a serpent tempts Eve into an apple from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which is strike one; soon thereafter, their sons elicit contrasting reviews for ostensibly the same work, causing the first instance of jealousy and, subsequently, the first instance of murder in the form of fratricide, which is strike two; many centuries later, Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon into Roman Italy and earned himself a perpetual dictatorship, until a group of his friends decided that perhaps that wasn’t such a good idea. Several centuries after that, we learned to sum up betrayal in three words, none of them English: “Et tu, Brute?”
On Saturday night, Kevin Durant returned to Oklahoma City, the arena and area which raised him from a lanky post-Supersonic to an NBA MVP, to face the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena for the first time. Despite two massive victories over the Thunder already under their belts, there was no reason to expect this would be easy, particularly with many fans and, as it turned out, teammates still twisting the knives out of their backs.
Tompkins Harrison Matteson/Library of Congress
In theory, democracy is a relatively emotionally detached system, a utilitarian tool for selection based on preference which, at its conclusion, yields the most popular choice for a given role. In practice, of course, it isn’t so simple, as voting methods and the different weights assigned to certain swaths of the voting populace tend to skew results one way or another.
All of this is entry-level political science; you certainly don’t need anyone reminding you of the way things are, especially on this of all days. It seems overly simplistic to just say that sometimes things don’t break the way they should, the way most people think they should, but then, it becomes hard to explain other voters’ tendencies without reverting to childish name-calling and inflammatory rhetoric.
On Thursday, the NBA announced the starters for this year’s All-Star Game. Russell Westbrook, currently leading the league in scoring while averaging a triple-double, was not among them.
Hercules Strangles the Nemean Lion, Peter Paul Rubens
Half-mortal, half-divine, the Greek divine hero Heracles, better known by the Roman translation, Hercules, is best remembered for his remarkable strength and willingness to carry out seemingly impossible tasks. At the behest of King Eurystheus, the hero is said to have completed the feats which became known as his Labours. Over the course of twelve years, Hercules slayed a lion, stole some apples and captured a vicious dog, among other extraordinary tasks.
Seemingly mortal, nevertheless divine, the Greek guard Giannis Antetokounmpo is becoming known for his remarkable length and ability to carry out heretofore impossible tasks for the Milwaukee Bucks. At the behest of his coach, Jason Kidd, Giannis is undertaking laborious missions of his own, already pushing the boundaries of what a point guard is and can be in today’s NBA.
Since October 25th, when the NBA season began, a few things have changed. Some are minute; perhaps you switched from white wine to red, took up yoga or bought a new pair of dress shoes that you’ll save for just the proper occasion. Others, less so, but you can read about that in the oblique, unchecked vacuum that convinced you the world was one way when, in fact, it’s the other, at least to a large enough plurality for that to matter.
Much of what we presumed to be true is shaken, even stirred, while the rest is magnified to such an extent as to be distorted beyond reasonable comprehension. What we face now, in basketball as in life, is adjustment to the new normal.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid/20th Century Fox
“Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.” – Butch Cassidy
When the final whistle sounded on Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals in May, a certain feeling of deflation accompanied the confetti which fell from the rafters of Oracle Arena in Oakland. After having been up three games to one in the series, the Oklahoma City Thunder squandered their lead to the defending champion Golden State Warriors, the 96-88 final score of Game 7 being the most painful exclamation mark of any during the Durant-Westbrook Thunder era. Even with Kevin Durant lined up to be a free agent in the offseason, it still stood to reason that he had more to lose by leaving Oklahoma City than by giving it at least one more go with his explosive comrade in arms.
Already, the rest is history, albeit of the continually developing nature that calls for perpetual scrolling lines of text alerting the viewer to the absolute latest hard truths, highlighted in red and bolded beyond reason. Durant left to sign with the Warriors, the very team that had beaten his own before going on to put together an even more spectacular collapse in the NBA Finals. Westbrook re-signed with the Thunder, finally and definitively taking the wheel after years as Durant’s foil. Tonight, back in Oracle Arena, the erstwhile brothers meet as opponents for the first time.