Tuesday, August 26, 2008

HustleJunkie: A Petition

Graydon Gordian is the author of 48 Minutes of Hell. His HustleJunkie column runs Tuesdays here at Hardwood Paroxysm. This week, Graydon continues the Hardwood Paroxysm of trying to get the league to actually put together a cool All-Star Weekend. We proudly support the petition, and ask that you join us. Rise up! Just read it, it'll make sense.

At first I was hesitant to spend a column discussing the All-Star game, as it's only August. But then I realized HP has a whole column dedicated solely to discussing a currently non-existent MVP race. I really can talk about whatever I want. (Ed. Note: Welcome to irrelevance, Graydon! Make yourself at home! -Ed.)

It's never too early to demand change. We may not find ourselves at a breaking point but this does not mean we should wait to aggressively seek the joys and freedoms with which we are meant to be inextricably blessed. We will not casually stumble upon the tomorrow we seek; we must pursue it with unrelenting enthusiasm. Although I look upon our current situation and I see numerous reasons to grow weary, I remain optimistic. We are the moment we have been waiting for.

I've never been a big fan of All-Star weekend. Like anybody with two eyes and a heart, I get completely pumped for the dunk contest. We can all admit there was a dark period over the last couple of years, but this past season's contestants returned it to the vehicle of joy it once was. But the game itself is lacking: Obviously I take an interest in seeing such a high level of talent on the court at one time, but to be honest the Olympics do a better job of taking that reservoir of skill and directing it towards something meaningful. I actually enjoy the Rookie-Sophomore game considerably more: There seems to be a significant grudge underlying their efforts.

But the lack of excitement generated by the All-Star game itself is not my primary concern. The NBA has denied us that which we deserve. We have been dedicated fans, supporting it not just during the wide-eyed years of Jordan's domination but into the new millennium, as the departure of those heady days left the league with a serious hangover. We religiously tune in, night after night, despite being constant recipients of the angry glances of our significant others and the annoyed barbs of our uninterested friends. We forcefully defend the honor of the Association when others disparage it by calling it inferior to college ball or a "niche" sport. And for our sacrifice we want something back.

Many of us grew up playing organized basketball: 5-on-5 youth leagues and the like. But most of us have spent just as many hours with a ball and a single opponent as we have with a ref and a scoreboard. As young men and women, our thirst for the game was quenched with the sweat and swagger of one-on-one. The bravado and creativity inherent in one-on-one basketball endowed us with a combination of self-reliance and self-expression. One-on-One is a beautiful thing.

And yet the league has failed to take advantage of this highly prevalent mode of the game. There is no denying it: Who in their right mind would not relish the opportunity to see LeBron and Melo locked in battle on the hardwood? What about Wade and Kobe? The possibilities are endless.

That is why I propose the creation of a one-on-one tournament during All-Star Weekend. I am not the first to suggest such an event, but I would like to be on the forefront of those doing something meaningful to bring about its realization.

Here is what I want: a 16 man tournament. To eleven by ones and twos. Simple. To the point.

If you support this cause, sign the petition. On opening day of the 2008-2009 NBA season, I will mail as well as email the petition and a list of signatories to the league. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell random people on the street for all I care. Just spread the word. If we stand together, our voices empowered by unity, we will experience the change we seek.

Aside from your signature, I have only one other thing to ask of you. We can all imagine ideal one-on-one match-ups we would like to see. Don’t keep them to yourself. Let me hear them in the comment section. Personally, I have a sneaky suspicion Boom Dizzle brings it when it’s just him and the rim, so I’m gonna say: Baron Davis vs. Gilbert Arenas. Now that’s a one-on-one match-up with some style.

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