Requiem for a Beard

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man.”

William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

Historically, very few players can demand a 5 player defensive response to every step they take.  Even fewer players can orchestrate a playoff team without a Scottie to his Mj; a D-Wade to his Lebron.  After a self-destructive off-season that jettisoned Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, and Omer Asik, the Rockets have somehow surged – all of this despite the best (and lamest) defensive center in the league being glued to the sideline.

Fear the beard?  No, respect the beard.  Fear it, but also respect it.  

But also love the beard.

Just direct all your feelings towards the beard.  

I don’t like to admit it, but Daryl Morey consistently makes decisions that are the result of a combination of pure genius and pure luck.  Over and over.  In the dominant west, he’s compiled a roster with a intimidating offense, and a defense that you bow down to, either by choice or by force.  

Most Valuable Beard?

Last time I checked, the V in MVP stands for valuable.  Consider the Golden State team without Curry.  Now that Marc Jackson is out of commission, Steve Kerr inherited a team with transcendental talent and actually used it.   Jackson was incredibly butt-hurt by this turn of events: in the course of a press commentary on the new Warriors, Jackson hilariously quipped, “you can’t disrespect the caterpillar by only raving about the butterfly.”

Let that soak in.

salty

Mark Jackson created an NBA joke, which is funny because he is an NBA joke.  He’s a (former) coach only in title: he couldn’t coach himself out of a paper cocoon.

Mark Jackson should’ve considered a career in entomology.  At least then he would embarrass himself in a community that no one really cares about.

For more jokes on the subject, take a stroll down internet lane:

http://www.reddit.com/r/nba/comments/2rxkw3/mark_jackson_you_cant_disrespect_the_caterpillar/

http://deadspin.com/mark-jackson-returned-to-oracle-arena-and-threw-shade-1679082699

Dennis the Menace

North Korean defector and defensive star Dennis Rodman criticized Kerr, claiming that he didn’t do anything constructive as the head coach of the Warriors.  He made a compelling argument both nuanced and eloquent:

“Kerr ain’t coachin’ shit.”  Also, “He’s just havin a good time sittin there. Got into a system where u can win. Just have a bunch of good assistants.”  

Can’t argue with that logic.

Kerr vehemently defended himself, by agreeing with Rodman’s premise and deciding not to be equally petty about it.  We know that Kerr just tells his team to set picks and shoot open 3s and offense magically appears.  You don’t have to really ‘coach’ teams with the Warriors stratospheric talent: Phil Jackson was a hack, Spoelstra was a cheerleader, and Blatt is Lebron’s holla back girl.  The key is to step back and watch basketball money rain from the skies.  Kerr is a coaching genius because he recognizes the Warriors’ talent and doesn’t try to make himself feel better by posturing as a basketball savant.  

But I digress.  The point of this exercise is to point out that the Warriors have roster depth that other teams can only dream of.  They have 5 or 6 different players who can either create their own offense either off the dribble, or by doing some sneaky post shenanigans.  

But what about the Rockets?  A Curry-less Warriors would lose the number one seed, but likely remain in the playoffs. Take away Harden from this seasons Rockets team, and you get a squad barely worthy of professional status.  

How can one possibly make more than an impact than James Harden has this year?   The Cavaliers, before their recent Kyrie + love + talent transformation, was similar: that was all Lebron.  Ilgauskas was their second best player.  That’s just tragic.

With Dwight sidelined, who exactly is the second best offensive threat?  Terrence Jones?  Trevor Ariza?  

The Rockets have solid players, but no one creates offense.  They can be cogs in the machine, but the machine wont run without Harden.

The Composer

Many fans criticize Harden on the basis that his constant free-throw attempts slow down the pace of the game.  True, there is much less full-court, and fast-breaks are no where to be seen.  Nevertheless, watching the Rockets unfold is akin to watching an symphony, even if the casual fan doesn’t recognize Harden’s genius.  Dwight is the (br)ass, and the rest of the team are the instruments that blend into the orchestra.  Like a conductor, Harden is waving his arms around furiously to direct the whole ensemble – the only difference is that he’s not controlling the flow of the music, he’s getting fouled hard by 7 foot big men.

If you’re in the know, the rockets are a beautiful team to watch.   Their offense manages to survive a drought due only to the inherent moisture of James Harden.  Take a peek at this article on GrantLand.com.

Here’s another example of him orchestrating the offense:

Here’s an example of him just being ludicrous:

Jaw-dropping miracles happen every night.  The article I cited moments ago summates his impact beautifully:

“Suddenly he’s doing things — both aesthetically and statistically — that nobody else in the league is doing, or even capable of doing. You don’t have to love it, but the closer you look, the harder it is to resist the immaculate divinity of our bearded prophet.”

Harden is an almighty baller.  What more is there to say?

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