Heading into last weekend, it seemed the NBA Playoff Marathon was lurching toward the tedium of two chest-thumping juggernauts slugging it out for more prized jewellery; the competitions most decorated club pitted against their most decorated coach. Paul Pierce didn’t even other watching the end of Game Three against Orlando. The lopsided run of the Conference Semi-Finals had proven contagious. Then, A’mare Stoudemire (42 Pts / 11 Rbds) and his be-mulleted Canadian companion – with 17 points and 15 assists – may have gone and made it interesting again. Stoudemire & Nash make a great pair. Mild-mannered, understandably politicised, community minded, fine ball players, and at their best they come close to that other reliable old no-frills pairing of Stockton & Malone (athletically and aesthetically). But as much as my heart is in Phoenix right now, and as much as I love watching Stoudemire stomping on the Lakers, the irresistable lure of nostalgia makes me pine for Arizona’s finest ever power forward personality The Round Mound Of Rebound.
Barkley Shut Up & Jam is often overlooked in the pantheon of great basketball video games. Perhaps rightly so. But what cannot go unnoticed is that, legitimacy aside, it has spawned easily the finest sports game sequel ever produced. Towering over its progenitor, it is the exception that proves the rule. Ladies and gentlemen, familiarise yourself with Tales of Games Presents Barkley Shut Up & Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Barkley Hoopz Saga. Check out the majesty of the trailor here.
In short: Sir Charles brings the apocalypse in the form of a Chaos Dunk. Carnage reigns, and basketball is outlawed in the Great Basketball Purge of 2041 – or B-Ballnacht. Flash forward to 2053, another Chaos Dunk goes down, and Barkley – as the obvious culprit – is on the run. Larry Bird is a priest. Vince Carter is a cyborg. Given the ratio of the avatars involved, Mugsy Bogues is conspicuous by his absence. And Air Jordan is the establishment’s enforcer.
As the storm clouds gather around the country, there is narry an excuse to be found for not living out your Neo New York fantasies right now. For more reverent Barkley revelry, check out the review by my good friend Mr David Large, as part of the ongoing 20 Cent Old School Game Review series, originally broadcast on Radio One 91FM in Dunedin, and this one in particular stored half way down this post on Professional Aesthete.
Radio One‘s Breakfast Host Aaron Hawkins, one half of the Deadcast: Balls! collaboration, weighs in on our greatest All Black’s unfortunate tendency to reveal himself in public pronouncements as an unapologetic bigot.
No black sheep for Col
The NZRU has never shied away from the straddling of Pro-Am values in the name of brand identification. What better way to sway rapidly galvanizing apathy towards the code’s top flight than a grainy illustration of Colin Meads playing his first Test at Carisbrook, urging you to buy tickets to what is billed as the venue’s ‘last ever’ Test match (thought the NZRU has said they will play the scheduled minnow matches at the 2011 World Cup there, so technically it is just the last All Blacks fixture). The House Of Pain – or House Of Taine as it was briefly and embarrassingly also known – is a victim of the professional era; the toilets and Press facilities don’t cut it on the international stage, and as a result a potentially city-bankrupting stadium is going up in its place. But that’s another argument entirely.
Appealing to traditionalism is one of the oldest tricks in the marketing playbook. The problem rugby really has is the Colonial and Apartheid baggage that comes with it. A quarter of a century after South Africa last competed at the Olympics, politicians in New Zealand were defending their racist touring parties to New Zealand. It was rednecks versus pinkos in a flour war for sport/politics supremacy. But we’ve all moved on. Mandela was freed, the ANC took over the government, and rugby gave itself a pat on the back for helping fix an appalling scenario it had aided and abetted for decades. Well done. Carry on.
It is hard work mining an appeal to the mud-in-your-eye, kick-and-ruck, long-tour, All-Blacks-with-day-jobs era without getting caught up in the uglier politics that drove much of it. Not just in the Republic, but also in the musty colonial exclusivity coming from the RFU in London and the class elitism that abounds internationally. But the players weren’t to blame, right? You can’t blame Colin Meads for South Africa treating their indigenous people worse than their animals, right?
The men above have a combined age of 73, comfortably past pensionable in any nation on this earth, and well past the time when most sportsmen have become figureheads or locker room guys or whatever. Instead this Suns team is two nil up over the NBA’s answer to the Canterbury Crusaders (© Justin Warren), rendering all cheap jokes irrelevant. This Suns team, two years post-D’Antoni and at least three since they should have ceased to be relevant, are suddenly the most logical challenger to the Lakers repeating in the West.
I downloaded the game from bt.davka, only after being driven mental by my non-functional league pass subscription. Once again, do not buy that product. Stay on the illegal buzz. But anyway, something about the way the Suns play the game makes me think they might have the goods to stop the three bad old bears of the Lakers wreaking their havoc. Continue reading
I’ve been reading the above book lately, and while I don’t generally make a habit of getting involved with subtitles like Essays on Art & Democracy, I might have to start now, because the following paragraph struck me so solidly that I spontaneously read it aloud to my long-suffering wife. Here goes:
“…it has always seemed to me that the trick of civilization lies in recognizing the moment when a rule ceases to liberate and begins to govern — and this brings us back to the glory of hoops. Because among all the arts of disputation our culture provides, basketball has been supreme in recognizing this moment of portending government and in deflecting it, by changing the rules when they threaten to make the game less beautiful and visible, when the game stops liberating and begins to educate. And even though basketball is not a fine art — even though it is merely an armature upon which we project the image of our desire, while art purports to embody that image — the fact remains that every style change that basketball has undergone in this century has been motivated by a desire to make the game more joyful, various, and articulate, while nearly every style change in fine art has been, in some way, motivated by the opposite agenda. Thus basketball, which began this century as a pedagogical discipline, concludes it as a much beloved public spectacle, while fine art, which began this century as a much beloved public spectacle, has ended up where basketball began — in the YMCA or its equivalent — governed rather than liberated by its rules*.
I don’t know shit about art, but I know I love basketball very much, and have been curious for a long time about why so few people nowadays seem to care about art, whereas so many care about basketball. And these words seemed to propose a reason.
* my emphasis