speed is older than time

decembers always get me down.  i use to think it was a combination of the worsening weather and christmas.  but i think i need to add another feature of decembers i don’t like: best of year lists (and, even though i’m thinking of best-movies-of-the-year lists, i think i hate any kind of best of the year lists, but i most hate these list when they’re applied to nba basketball).  and, since it’s 2009 a.c.e., this years list are n times as worse (where n = 10 since there are 10 years included in everybody’s best-of-the-decade lists).

the question: how do i get over this  (since lord knows best-of-the-year/decade/century lists, like christmas and winter weather, aren’t going away no matter how much i (cat) pray)?

(related: i have a hard time calling this decade the noughties.  i’m not sure why.  when i first read someone talking about the noughties, i thought they meant the 90s because, you know, history had died with the fall of the berlin wall and we were all left to only re-appropriate and re-brand.  cinematic stagnation.)

my first idea is making my own lists.  anti-lists.  mock-lists.  let’s try it out with basketball:

(my list of what i think are the) greatest nba players of the decade:

1. allen iverson

i already need to stop.  the problem with lists is that the criteria for what makes the list is too problematic.  what, exactly, makes someone/thing the greatest during a specific time-frame?  the supposed criteria for the greatest nba players are the ones with the most championships/mvps/all-star-appearances.  but these criteria dont make any sense:  nba championships are won by teams; mvp awards, like the oscars, are a joke (is the mvp the best player on the best team? the player most valuable to his team? the player with the best stats? and this is decided by sports writers?);  all-star appearances are determined by fan voting which of course becomes more of a hyping contest (for instance, tracy mcgrady may make the all-star game this year as a starter even though his injuries have limited him to only 3 or 4 games this year due to the fact that all of china is voting him in because they can’t vote for his teammate yao ming who’s knee injury is preventing him from even playing one game this year).   in other words, the criteria generally used for the greatest basketball players of a give time-period have already been abstracted from the actual game of basketball.

when i say allen iverson is the best player of the decade, what i mean is this:

context: game 1 of the 2001 nba finals.  the game is in los angeles versus a lakers team that has yet to lose a game in the playoffs.  iverson has 46 points in the game so far.  it’s overtime with the sixers leading by only a couple points (thanks to a 3-pointer iverson nailed the possession before).

the jab step, baseline-drive, step-back, crossover is so smooth, but what makes this play so great is iverson stepping over, while staring down, tyrone lue right in front of the laker bench.  is it possible that this one play could be a kind of microcosm of iverson’s entire basketball career?  maybe, but that would take a while to unpack.  what i do know is that before this game, i was mildly indifferent to iverson;  after that play, he instantly became my favorite basketball player.

it’s important to note that the sixers won only that first game of the nba finals.  but i reject winning as an indicator of greatness in basketball just like i reject oscars, awards and box-office numbers as an indicator of greatness within movies.  rather, i love both (basketball and movies) for the spontaneous, unexpected moments that grow out of their limited contexts (the dimensions of the basketball court/screen). i guess that means that lists have to be personal.

if you haven’t yet guessed my favorite movie of the decade, it’s inland empire.



Filed under Brian

2 responses to “speed is older than time

  1. uh oh. I hope you can forgive me for putting together a top ten of the year…

  2. brian

    already forgiven. this was my attempt to get over my aversion to lists. and i think it worked.

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