I'm writing up a post about the Suns' and the Nuggets' defensive psychoses, but it won't be here until tomorrow. In the meantime, check out something I wrote in jubilation last year after the Warriors whupped up on the Mavericks. For old time's sake. (I'm crying inside.) This is barely readable, incidentally.
I took a class on the history of music in the 20th century last summer. It was taught by the smartest man I've ever met, and was the best class I've ever taken. Most of the classes in the program are full of in-jokes and bonding, memories and irreplicable moments - not this class. We never talked to each other. We were too fascinated by what we were learning to manufacture in-jokes and make deep, lasting friendships. In that, our class was unique among all the classes there. And what we learned was unique. We didn't learn about the evolution of rock and roll through blues and R&B. We learned about the evolution of Expressionism through reaction to Impressionism. We learned about the influence of Wagner on Slayer and of Edgard Varése on Frank Zappa. Louis Armstrong? No. Herbie Hancock. Not Elvis - bebop. Dada and musique concréte. Mainstream, classic? No. Reactionary and revolutionary. Everything in art is in reaction to something else, and art is what you make it. Art is expression - Der Bleu Reiter. Art is blank - Fountain. Art is what you say it is. What's important is what's different, audacious, what wants to change for the sake of change, for the sake of art itself.
Anyone can follow rules and make beautiful things. Anyone can lay their emotions along set patterns, their talents inside set paths. Those outside the lines, those who follow their own way - they are the only ones worth learning about, the only art that matters. Why play piano with your fingers when you can slam the keys with your fists, your forearms, your head, just to hear what it sounds like? Why play one song at a time when you can play four? Why play an instrument the way it's always been done, when you can use it in completely new and different ways? Why accept the limitations of modern technology recording when you can create it anew? That's truly the heart of it - there's no reason to accept limitations when you can create new ways. There's no reason to do something the way it's always been done, just because it's the way it's always been done. Play the piano's strings like it's a huge, horizontal harp. Play multiple tape loops at once, taking advantage of tape's mechanical flaws to create new music altogether. Play artillery as percussion. Play anything, any way - just play. React, or create something entirely new. That's what we learned.
Thus, the Golden State Warriors. Lost in the excitement of their upset of the greatest team in the NBA, masked by the fact that so few people in the wider basketball community have seen them play, is how completely unique they, as a team, are. Basketball players, when they're young, are taught how to play. Don't shoot over a taller defender. That's dumb. Don't shoot if there's nobody there for a rebound. That's dumb. Set plays, run your offense the way you've been taught. There are specific rules, specific roles, and that's the way the game is played. And yet, and yet. Golden State refuses to play that game.
They're all in the same height range, roughly, midsized, plus a skinny seven-foot Latvian kid. Rules and roles don't matter They shoot, shoot, shoot, run, run, run, and damn the consequences. They are helter-skelter beauty in basketball form. You can shoot seven-for-seven from three, or sixteen-for-thirty-five. GSW knows what will get you more points, even if other teams refuse to take that many chances. No one else would pull up on a fast break and shoot the three, with no one under the basket to catch the rebound. No one else would get the ball on a second pass of a possesion, with no play set, and run into four confused defenders for a spectacular dunk. This is revolution. Why wait until you're open to shoot when you're taller than your defender? Why fear taller defenders when you're faster than them? There's a way to play, but there's more than one way to win. You win on your superstars, or you win on the brilliance of your coaching, one of the two. No. You win on stifling defense, on clock management, on perfectly set and executed plays. No, fuck that. Fuck skill and coaching. Win on exuberance, and speed, and talent, and shooting, shooting, shooting.
The difference between Golden State and the Dallas Mavericks, between them and every team in the league, is that they just don't care. They don't care about who they're playing, where they're playing, or how they're supposed to play. They are Dada, without the self-conscious individualism. They are a teenaged Frank Zappa, listening to Ionisation over and over, not understanding why his friends don't understand or care. They are Patti Smith or the Stooges, and Dallas is Deep Purple. They are bebop jazz and the basketball establishment is Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree. Golden State knows the price of flight, and it's weight and size. The revolution begins now.