Tuesday, May 10, 2011

On Historical Context, or Why I Can't Say Dirk Is In The Top Ten

In my opinion Dirk Nowitzki is King Of The Whole World, but that's not the question being asked.

Coach Carlisle went on the radio yesterday and stated his opinion that Dirk is one of the top ten basketball players ever to play the game.  The NBA has a little radio-button poll on the front page, with Yes, No, and Maybe, with voting pretty evenly split between the three.

Here's my problem -- I can't answer that question.

I have no historical context.  I'm not like a lot of the guys over on DB.com's Boards who're involved in the sport on the amateur or professional level and have been for many years.  My contextual knowledge goes back three years and four months and is focused primarily on the Mavericks.  That makes it impossible for me to wade in with informed opinions about the history of this sport of baskets and balls.

For example, someone made the statement that Kobe Bryant's 81 point game (22 January 2006 versus the Toronto Raptors) was a more impressive achievement than Wilt Chamberlain's 100 point game (2 March 1962 versus the New York Knicks), because Bryant's Lakers were on their way to a loss and Bryant went superhero, while Chamberlain just kept taking shots in a blowout victory.  I can't make a statement one way or the other, because I haven't seen either game.  Likewise I can't contribute much to the Chamberlain v. Russell arguement, or the Bird v. Magic arguement, or His Holiness The Jordan, Best Ever (Why or Why Not) question.  And it's not all about debate fuel -- I've read columns about the mind-blowing-coolness of Julius Erving, but I've never seen any of his games.  From what I've read, that's a deprivation; he was just that fucking cool.

I'm not looking for the Complete Archives Of Basketball To This Point.  I'm not that obsessive.  But it would be nice to be able to order a tape or DVD or download a video file of some complete games from those great moments in history type deals.  Highlights are designed to reinforce opinions and text doesn't get the point across quite the same way.

Why watch when you already know the ending?  For the same reason I've read The Stand a couple hundred times -- because the beauty is in the prose.

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