Thursday, May 5
Where have the NBA Giants gone?
An experiment gone awry... & The Next Coming?
Now that we have this brief respite from meaningful Sonics games, at least until the Spurs handle their business, here’s some filler material, until the folks here at The Soul tackle the task that is the 2nd round analysis:
Some of you young’uns may not believe this, but there was a time not too long ago when the NBA actually had centers with skill.
I went back to the early 1990’s, particularly years 91- 93 and came up with this list.
Patrick Ewing- HOF
Hakeem Olajuwon- HOF
David Robinson- HOF
Shaquille O’neal- HOF
Pretty Darn Good:
Not so much, but still offensively talented/serviceable*:
Moses Malone (still had a few miles left in years 90-92)
Robert Parish (HOFer but not in the late 90’s, still serviceable from 90-92)
*(Please go to basketball-reference.com to refresh your memories on some of these guys before you start ROFLMAO, and understand I’m merely saying they did have some skill.)
There were 27 teams in the League: Of those, 4 had HOF’ers, 7 had All Stars, and 15 had decent centers with marginal offensive capabilities/game affecting ability.
Here’s my point: during that age, there were a bunch of teams who had centers with capable offensive game or game influencing capabilities. You couldn’t deny the face staring straight at you from the 7’ body tossing 8ft jumpers over your team: they were beings that had to be deliberated on and accounted for. If you went into a playoff series facing one of those 4 teams with the HOF’ers or one of the 7 teams with the All-Stars without someone/something to combat them, they would make you pay, probably with your playoff life. I believe the reaction to this was two-fold:
1) Where/how can I get me one of those?
2) Where/how can I get me someone to stop one of those (particular the select studs at the top.)
For those teams on the outside looking in on this phenomenon there was one particular reaction: we can build one of these guys for our team.
And so the novel idea was formed: Size was the premium and talent & skill the by-product of work/experience that could be nurtured into the player given time. Like a Chia-pet, a team could simply purchase a starter kit from K-mart, add water, sit their ass on a lawn chair, and watch their investment grow into a gifted center of equal offensive/game changing ability. (One example: Purchase (1) gangly 7’-0” rookie, sit on bench, watch games from bench, hire once great center to teach aggressiveness, teach skill, work out X amt of hours to change body to desired product, add 20-30lbs, wait 2-4 years – become All Star.)
GM’s whom fans and owners entrusted with their teams fate thus began the their ill-fated experiments. What came out of their laboratories was a Frankenstein monster for the NBA: a mutated being bearing only a passing resemblance to the giants they were meant to imitate. They walked around with awkward gaits, had barely acceptable control of their appendages, were zombie-like in their reactions/ hand eye coordination and they mercilessly terrorized their cities for years on end with their terrifying long-term multi-million dollar contracts.
All of you people entering this Supersonic team site know very well of these creatures I speak of. Jim McIlvaine… Calvin Booth… Chris Dudley… Michael Olowakandi… Rasho… Adonal Foyle…Brian Grant… Non-Bizarro Jerome... Potapenko… The monsters were unleashed on the League and nothing was ever the same again.
But, just like Mary Shelley’s story, the fan realized (or should have, at least) that the true monster was not the misshapen being now forced to wander the world in shame in their tricked out Cadillac Escalades, but rather the mad, God-playing, GM’s that created them… (Translation: F**k you Wally Walker.)
Fast-Forward to the present time:
Check out the list of centers in the league today:
Pretty Darn Good/O.K.:
Yao Ming (some may throw him in with Shaq)
Not so much, but still offensively talented/servicable:
Z. Ilgauskas (maybe he should be with Yao)
PF’s 6’-10” or less in height/playing stature, playing the 5 spot with offensive game or impact power:
Frankenstein’s still roaming around in the league:
And on and on….
(The omission in this list is the cause of this post; please bear with me.)
Take a look at that list:
There is just one guy who can truly dominate the game from the 5 spot. There are only 2 others who you could justify as having a decent enough offensive game. The rest of them? Either A) they’re 6’something” PF’s disguised as “centers” in the 5-spot who you could/should better defend with 6’something” players of your own, or 2) 7’ stiffs without sufficient offensive skill to need to truly concern yourself over/ require some crazy acquisition on your teams part to counteract.
I don’t know exactly what happened, but much like the woolly mammoth, the great centers of the NBA have disappeared, with only a few still in existence. Maybe it’s a cyclical thing and in its next manifestation the League will once again be the land of talented giants. Regardless, I think it would be wise to 1) learn from the past mistakes of our ancestor GM’s and B) not feel the need to risk unleashing further abominations in a league which no longer requires a solution to great centers.
And now here comes 2005 playoff Jerome James, lumbering around right in front of our very eyes. How appropriate is it that we have a genuine Sasquatch sighting here in Key Arena, in the Pacific Northwest. We’re awestruck at the sight. Could it be? Is this real or am I dreaming? WTF is going on here!?!
I’ve called him Bizarro Jerome on occasion because of the infrequency of his appearances on our planet. But now, these 5 straight playoff game sightings… Is he a creature genetically brought back from the DNA of the extinct NBA Center of the past? I’m stumped. But you know what? If I’m a GM and this offseason I’m faced with the decision, I take a look at recent history and I make certain I don’t become the Frankenstein of my team.
Jerome James: Free Agent? You can take him, I’ll pass.