The M.O.N.T.A. Plan for Marriage Revival
What Monta Ellis has accomplished in the first two weeks of the season is rare in this sport. The NBA's broken marriages almost never resolve themselves without divorce; when a player slaps his team with a glove (or vice versa), a trade almost always comes. Lest we bury the past in the past, remember that Ellis and the Warriors were in a bad, bad way this time two years ago.
Monta had just signed a six-year deal worth $66 million. Ellis then wrecked his ankle at home in Mississippi during the offseason. He initially blamed an unruly game of pick-up. The Warriors discovered it was a moped crash. They fined Ellis about $3 million. The franchise still threatened to void Monta's contract. He reportedly demanded a trade behind the scenes. His agent reportedly planned to refuse to allow him to play when the ankle recovered. Eventually, he played a dispirited 25 games for the team in 2008-09, an abomination of a year that left Golden State near the bottom of the standings.
There, they picked up Stephen Curry out of Davidson. Ellis' immediate assessment, paraphrased: "We can't play together." That's what set the greater fanbase off on Monta -- not the dumb moped crash, not the lies to save his own skin, not the trade demand. Raspberries happen. But pissing on the dreams of an epic Ellis-Curry mash-up? That did it. Warrior Nation and Ellis broke up, as did Ellis and the franchise, seemingly for good.
But, as FanHouse's ace Sam Amick documented, Ellis got back into the program this summer. And now, everything is wonderful. Monta leads the NBA in scoring (27.8 points per game) while shooting better than 51 percent from the floor. He, Curry and David Lee have Golden State at 4-2 and at full optimism. Even better than all that, Ellis and the Warriors have created a new template for NBA teams or married couples looking to fix those irreconcilable differences without breaking up.
Maximize resentment. You can't get better without truly seeing the dark, dark abyss. Ellis couldn't appreciate what Golden State had given him unless Golden State took a large chunk of it away. Likewise, the Warriors remembered why they loved Monta in the first place by living life without him.
Practical application: Destroy a believable mythology. Take the Wolves with Kevin Love. To maximize resentment, David Kahn could tell his forward that upon being named GM, he filed paperwork to have the O.J. Mayo-Love trade rescinded on account of being dealt damaged goods. "Because you're fat and your beard looked stupid, you see?" In a return volley, Love could announce he thinks Ricky Rubio sucks. For a married couple seeking rock bottom, spit on a favorite memory. "Just so you know, I actually prefer cheese from Lorraine, not Provence!" "Oh yeah? Well I don't love you any more!" You can adjust the intensity up or down.
Offer fig leaf. For the Warriors, the fig leaf came in the form of announcing the franchise would not attempt to void Ellis' contract. Monta returned the favor by, uh, suiting up late in the 2008-09 season. These seemingly small measures helped the team and player begin the long road back to love.
Practical application: Angry Rudy Fernandez, who still wants to be released, could start wearing an American flag bandana on his head, and perhaps even get an outline of Oregon tattooed on his back. (Bullet holes optional.) In response, Blazers owner Paul Allen could buy a small Spanish villa, drop it in the Portland suburbs and build Rudy a private monorail between the Rose Garden and the villa. For a husband on the rocks, how about picking up some cheese from Lorraine, or heck, taking the wife to Lorraine so she can eat as much cheese as she wants?
New addition. The Warriors introduced Curry into the relationship; as is the case with organ transplants, there is the possibility of rejection at first, but that usually subsides. Curry has truly been the impetus for Monta's new smile. There's just something about that 12-year-old that just screams joie de vivre!
Practical application: Remember when Kobe hated the Lakers? What brought him back in the family? That's right: Pau Gasol. New blood can really rev things up. For married couples, consider a pet chinchilla, or a new gazpacho recipe.
Toxic waste removal. Don Nelson was the embodiment of the Warriors' distrust in Ellis, even though Nellie played Ellis like 47 minutes a game. Nelson was also infatuated with the New Addition, and that can spell trouble. (Just ask Woody Allen.) Ellis and the Warriors couldn't heal until the BAC of the franchise was significantly reduced; Keith Smart replacing Nellie at the head of the team did just that. (Joe Lacob replacing Chris Cohan certainly didn't hurt, either.)
Practical application: Remember when Kobe hated the Lakers? What brought him back in the family? That's right: trading away Kwame Brown. Married couples trying to come back from the brink should consider throwing away all sweatpants (the ghastly things) or selling the child least likely to be a high achiever.
Assign credit. If you don't dole out points, how do you know who's ahead? Such is the case in life and love, where we need a ledger to negotiate moral standing and owed support. Ellis gave credit to his new wife. The Warriors gave credit to Monta himself. So I believe that when the Warriors win the O'Brien, Monta's wife gets to hold it first. That's how this works.
Practical application: Kobe keeps his ledger in his head, and he'll be showing up at Jordan Farmar's doorstep for payment soon. But for married couples, a nice big scoreboard helps. Be sure to remind your spouse how far behind in the Love Standings they are; he or she ought to appreciate being reminded that he or she empirically does not love you as much you do him or her. If not, with then you start back at M with a truly resentment-building statement. (TZ)
That's Not My Name
Allen Iverson is gone. I mean that in every way possible: he's out of the league, out of sight, out of mind, and is really free now to live on as only our best (or otherwise most intense) memories of him. Exiled to Turkey, as much a victim of his own intransigence as any kind of stateside vendetta against him, Iverson is finished as an NBA player. For now. This doesn't mean, though, that his story is finished. Far from it. What happens next may have little to do with AI's legacy, or Hall of Fame chances. It won't convert his critics, and if anything, is an embarrassment, a liability. Has anyone been following Stephon Marbury in China? No matter what the answer, or the motivations, it's not because you believe Starbury is still fit to serve an American franchise.
Watching this video of Iverson's arrival in Turkey, though, you get the feeling that this next chapter could be every bit as powerful as his first go-round in the public eye. Assuming, of course, that he sticks around more than a few months. I immediately thought of Billy Ray Bates, the drug-and-drink addled seventies phenom who found a new life in the Philippines as "The Black Superman". Ziller brought up David Beckham joining the Los Angeles Galaxy -- at first a dismal flop, now, well after the hype, a success. And, always out to ruin my day, TZ remarked that Josh Childress -- hardly the semi-mythic figure that Iverson is -- received a similar welcome in Greece.
Still, you should watch the video and judge for yourself. Adjusted, of course, for typical overseas fanaticism over pretty much anything resembling a sporting event. Via Ball in Europe:
Note the Phillies hat. A strange, if poignant, touch, though one that rings a little hollow after Iverson's failed return to the City of Brotherly Love in 2009. But with Iverson, it can be extremely hard to differentiate between what he really means, what he wishes he meant, and what's a big put-on for the benefit of us watching. That's not to say he's fake -- more that he's an uncomfortable, combustible broth of too honest and self-consciously theatric. He's a performer who wears his heart on his sleeve. In any case, the interview that follows is far less ethereal and moving; Iverson's pretty clearly exhausted, and it's not clear he knows exactly what he's doing there, or why he came to Turkey (other than the obvious reasons). He delivers a spiel on what might be rightly termed the AI brand, but also opens his eyes just so to explain how much passion he feels for passionate fans. So let's call that a push.
And yet those images of Iverson, looking pretty much the same as he had for a decade (minus the 'rows), pushing his way through a riotous crowd on foreign soil, in a place that one way or another, he will have to find a way to call home ... it's not tawdry so much as it is truly, harshly melodramatic. (BS)
League Pass Cup Update
We are two weeks into the inaugural League Pass Cup, a competition between the seven teams getting the least respect from network television executives. Let's check the standings.
|League Pass Cup 2010
|New Jersey Nets||1||0||1.000||--|
The Raptors and Nets have begun with a win each, while the Cavaliers and Pacers trail just behind at 1-1. The 76ers have a win over the Pacers and a pair of Cup losses (to go with all their non-Cup losses). Minnesota, the sole Western contender in our competition, has yet to see Cup action. (TZ)
The Works is a daily column written by Bethlehem Shoals (@freedarko) and Tom Ziller (@teamziller). Their Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History is now available.