Gregg Easterbrook, a Brookings Fellow who also writes a humorous football column for ESPN, has some interesting and wide-ranging observations in this week’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback. Apropos of some OTB posts yesterday, we have this opener:
Hockey and basketball are done; the Triple Crown, Indy 500 and the Open are past. Now comes the deadest, dullest six weeks in the annual sports calendar — nothing but baseball until August, when the NFL resumes. The next six weeks are sufficiently barren for sports fans that many will actually be excited when NFL preseason games start — even knowing that NFL preseason games are awful — because the onset of these games means that the real thing is around the corner.
This is followed by a philosophical discussion of our love of football as compared to the great works of Plato, notably Timaeus. Blah, blah, blah.
And then this:
As for [NJ Net Kenyon] Martin, he spent as much energy in the finals complaining about the refs as working for good shots. He did get the short end of several calls, but Martin is only reaping what he hath sown. He cultivates the thug look — excessive tattoos, cloaking his head on the bench — so the refs treat him as a thug and presume guilt. Tim Duncan, by contrast, cultivates the look of a guy you’d want your daughter to marry. So the refs give Duncan the benefit of the doubt on fouls.
TMQ has no idea whether Martin is a bad character or the salt of the Earth; all I know about him is the impression he gives. The point is, that’s all the refs know, too. In the real world, people are judged partly by appearances, and those NBA players who go out of their way to cultivate a negative appearance get treated negatively by the officials. Since the thug look came in a decade or so ago, who’s been winning NBA titles? Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Shaq, Hakeem Olajuwan, David Robinson, Michael Jordan … all clean-cut, normal-armed, winning-smile guys you’d want your daughter to marry. Who’s been frustrated in the finals? Kenyon Martin, Allen Iverson and the rest of the scowling, Illustrated-Man me-bad crew.
You don’t need to consult Plato to be able to figure out the relationship between making a good impression and career success. It’s no different in the NBA than in the business world, except that in the NBA, you report for work in your underwear. If what Kenyon Martin or Allen Iverson want is to be picked for shoe commercials or to make a splash on the club scene, they are following the right course. If what they want is an NBA championship ring, they should begin by looking in the mirror.
Wow. The game isn’t supposed to work that way and I’ve not heard anyone say that it does. But this is an interesting point and consistent with the way life works.
There’s all sorts of other stuff in the piece, too–it’s longer than den Beste on a particularly verbose day–but mostly good. Indeed, he’s even included a photo of Destiny Stahl, thankfully clothed. I kid you not.