Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Considering K.G. and cool

Sports Illustrated's Phil Taylor is pondering the virtual death of the "cool" athlete.

I'm right there with him. Much like Taylor, I recoiled with every bit of Kevin Garnett's ridiculous celebration in the wake of the Boston Celtics' NBA title-clinching victory last month. It seemed overly dramatic and possibly staged, like the closing scene in one of those "Impossible is Nothing" Adidas commercials.

You would have thought Garnett had finished climbing Mount Everest, bellowing "anything is possible" in between fits of incomprehensible jibber-jabber. Goodness knows what KG's reaction might have been had he actually walked on water or uncovered the ruins of Atlantis.
Of course, I realize that my opinion of this joyful explosion by Garnett does not necessarily represent a majority. Best as I can tell, many sports fans and usually jaded sportswriters were cheering right along with the Celtics' faithful.
Sorry. But I grew up appreciating the spectacular exploits and subdued countenances of superstars like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Barry Sanders, Nolan Ryan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Earl Campbell and Dr. J. I can only imagine that they'd maintain a cool pose during the running with the bulls in Pamplona. They all expected sustained success, and they all expected their fans to hold them to a higher standard.

NBA Hall of Famer Walt Frazier, who was once so cool that everyone somewhat inexplicably called him "Clyde" during his playing days, told Taylor that "I always felt that [Cool] gave me an advantage. It's like in poker, if the other players can't read you, it puts that uncertainty in their minds and that puts you in control."
True. Garnett, up until Game 6 of the Finals, was so well-known for being emotional that he sometimes could be taken out of his game during those really intense moments. He was considered a choke-artist in most NBA circles until he hitched his wagon to Paul Pierce. Then K.G. finally won the title and dissolved into a 7-foot drama queen onstage at the Grammys.

So, tell me ... what's cool about all that?


Zen said...

YES. The moment was very UNCOOL, BUT KG's moment was a long time coming. He NEVER had the success of many of the cool athletes you mentioned.

KG dresses well, carries himself with dignity off the court. He's a cool athlete compared to many of his counterparts.

That moment did make me cringe and NO, KG is not cool off the court.

Stephen said...

KG might have had an "uncool" moment, but the big picture is what counts. If Magic planted the seed of uncool, Michael Irvin watered and nurtured it.

blackink said...

Hey, what was cool about the Playmaker was that it was original at the time - Michael Irvin really, truly played well when he was on his emotional edge.

But now you've got a bunch of copycats and actors trying to one-up the stunt that preceded theirs. That's definitely not cool.