Wednesday, June 30, 2004


David Brooks kills Michael Moore:

Like Ernest Hemingway, Moore does his boldest thinking while abroad. For example, it was during an interview with the British paper The Mirror that Moore unfurled what is perhaps the central insight of his oeuvre, that Americans are kind of crappy.

"They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet ... in thrall to conniving, thieving smug [pieces of the human anatomy]," Moore intoned. "We Americans suffer from an enforced ignorance. We don't know about anything that's happening outside our country. Our stupidity is embarrassing."

It transpires that Europeans are quite excited to hear this supple description of the American mind. And Moore has been kind enough to crisscross the continent, speaking to packed lecture halls, explicating the general vapidity and crassness of his countrymen. "That's why we're smiling all the time," he told a rapturous throng in Munich. "You can see us coming down the street. You know, 'Hey! Hi! How's it going?' We've got that big [expletive] grin on our face all the time because our brains aren't loaded down."

Naturally, the people from the continent that brought us Descartes, Kant and Goethe are fascinated by these insights. Moore's books have sold faster there than at home. No American intellectual is taken so seriously in Europe, save perhaps the great Noam Chomsky.

Before a delighted Cambridge crowd, Moore reflected on the tragedy of human existence: "You're stuck with being connected to this country of mine, which is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe." In Liverpool, he paused to contemplate the epicenters of evil in the modern world: "It's all part of the same ball of wax, right? The oil companies, Israel, Halliburton."

I generally dislike Brooks, but he kills Moore with his own quotes here. (Brooks looks so lightweight on tv compared to the Deep Thinkers he's on with, by the way, and he was all over the dial on Sunday. He should stick with the Chris Matthews level of discourse and not try to match wits with Fareed Zakaria, Thoughtful Person.)

Peter Vecsey destroys Dick Vitale:

Not to suggest Vitale isn't well-versed to warble on the pros. After impressing only himself (and fooling only Bill Davidson) at the U. of Detroit ?where Terry Tyler and John Long carried him like overburdened burros ? he coached (for want of a more truthful word) the Pistons when they really were the Bad Boys.

Try Vitale's forgettable foray (34-60) in one-plus seasons. How overmatched was Dickie Dunce? The '79-'80 Pistons, an outfit he personally assembled from which he was dutifully dismissed after a dozen games (4-8), wound up 16-66, the toilet paper standard for that franchise's futility.

The only banner that spittoon ever lifted was a white flag.


Having Vitale expectorate about the NBA Draft is like getting Michael Moore as keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention ... 'cept Moore may actually present a substantiated fact or a valid argument or two.

For example, Dickie V's criticism of the 76ers' choice (No. 9) of Andre Iguodala was hopelessly nearsighted and simple-minded. ("How can you pick a kid who only averaged 11 points over Luke Jackson [No. 10, Cavaliers], who's a great perimeter shooter, blah, blah, blah..." he bellowed.)

Well, for one thing, the 76ers already flaunt a great, young 3-point shooter named Kyle Korver.

No doubt this is news to Vitale.

More important, Iguodala averaged 12.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and five assists for the self-sacrificing, well-balanced Arizona Wildcats, a recurrent characteristic of a Lute Olson-coached team. The 6-6 aerodynamically sophisticated soph was the first player in the school's storied history to lead the team in rebounding, assists and steals in the same season. He was also the only Pac Ten player to lead his team in scoring, rebounding, assists and assists-to-turnover ratio.

Surely this is Vitale's introduction to these stats.

More perceptively, when junior Richard Jefferson declared himself eligible for the 2000 draft (No. 13, Rockets) he'd averaged 11.3 that season (one-tenth of a point higher than his average over three years), 5.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists for the self-sacrificing, well-balanced (Gilbert Arenas, Luke Walton) Arizona Wildcats.

Does Vitale sense something along the lines of a trend?

Jefferson turned out to be a pretty good pro/Olympian/rising All-Star without padding his personals in college. Iguodala is expected to enjoy a similar NBA career by everyone except Dickie Dunce, who doesn't seem to grasp the draft concept of picking the best pro prospect, not the guy with the most seductive numbers.


By the way, is anybody really surprised that the guy who married Seven of Nine tried to get her to go to sex clubs with him? I would've thought that would be specified, and underlined, in the prenup.

I don't think they had a "Star Trek" wedding, though.

T-Mac for Francis: Thunderbirds are go. I think this helps both teams. Orlando, with the draft and now Stevie and Cat, is no longer a one-man band and will be competitive next year. (Everybody was killing that Orlando/Charlotte/Atlanta/Washington/Miami division after the NBA announced the realignment last year, but you can't tell me that Nets/Knicks/Raptors/Celtics/Sixers thing looks a whole lot better.) And Yao and McGrady--that's a whole lot of potential there. That's an entirely different kind of dual threat from the Kobe/Shaq threat. T-Mac's about a million times more graceful than Kobe, and obviously Yao lacks Shaq's physical presence, but Simmons says he's the greatest passing center since Walton so that's good enough for me. The Rockets really need a solid point guard, though.

And now I rest.

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