All Barnes Myself: In the Corner

Argentina 74 – 111 Team USA

Harrison Barnes: 4p / 2r / 0a

In today’s nationally broadcasted dose of patriotism, ESPN proudly displays, on continuous loop, the tremendous fourth-quarter shooting of Kevin Durant, fiery enough to shame the Las Vegas sun. Don’t forget the courageous return of a Paul George, grateful for his chance to return from horrific injury! And who could forget the familiar face of Olympic Melo, playing shocking bits of defense, one instant at a time, here corralling a loose ball, there delivering an obvious foul with both forearms?

All the while, the voices of old men react with unsuppressed awe and wholesome surprise. My god, Team USA really has vanquished an Argentinian national team that is collectively 342 years old, with over a century more basketball experience than the United States Constitution!

But how did Harrison Barnes do?

Lowlight: First half DNP, Coach’s Decision.

“For neither did his brethren believe in him. Then [Harry] said unto them, ‘My time is not yet come: but your time is alway (sic) ready.'” -John 7:6

In a first half where every other American player recorded between six and twelve minutes, Harrison’s moment never quite came, mirroring only Carlos Delfino on the Argentinian side. To be sure, NBA wings seem particularly unafraid of the Zika Virus, as a squad with two point guards (Kyrie & Lowry), two real bigs (Cousins & Jordan), and one other huge bitch (Draymond Green), nonetheless features a total of seven wings. In some order, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, and DeMar DeRozan all stand indisputably ahead of our hero in the rotation. And just like that, Barnes, the ideal 3-and-D player, abruptly discovers himself the fourth best defender, and the fifth best shooter at his position. One can only surmise his vertiginous panic, the utter collapse of his own self-concept into nothingness.

But someone has to quietly take the fall for his country, and if that man is earning 0.75 cents per second over the next fours years, so much the better. Barnes carries tremendous strategic value as a stashed weapon of second-half misdirection, suddenly emerging from the shadows of Team USA huddles to play far worse than the enemies of America ever could have expected. While I was eating, I think he shot an airball; hours later, he doesn’t even appear in Team USA’s box score. What a selfless American hero.

Following Freud, I will also keep an eye on his developing castration anxiety.

Highlight: Harrison Barnes checks into the game, spreads the floor.

“He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. Team on three.” -John 7:18

Coming out of halftime, coach’s decision finally changed — to starting Barnes! And eight seconds in, Harrison was dramatically crucified on a screen, allowing Ginobili an easy left-handed layup as the commentators apologized for him. “Manu is so good at going left!” they gasped, awestruck in the wake of a left-handed 39-year-old man.

But Harrison never plays for himself. He seeketh not his own glory.

After three and a half quarters of playing even fucking worse, Klay Thompson finally hit the bench for good. Team USA turned to its unlikely hero in Harrison Barnes, who helped the team claw out a 37-point decision on the back of Kevin’s supermundane shooting.

And who was there in the left corner, time and time again, to create space for Durant? Who spread the floor from the short corner three, hands limply at his side, as though to say, this isn’t my moment?? You should shoot again Kevin; don’t pass it here????

That’s our very own #8, facilitating à la his childhood idol, Kobe Bryant.

Harrison Barnes takes on China this Sunday at 7pm central.

Advertisements

All Barnes Myself: An Introduction

In our Baudrillardian SportsCentric world, God knows you’ll view each Curry lob to Durant from all conceivable and inconceivable camera angles. You’ll gaze deliriously upon every anti-heroic triple-double of an embittered and self-consciously abandoned Russell Westbrook. You’ll curse as Rondo, Wade, and Butler hesitantly pass the ball between themselves for one unconscionably wide-open look from deep after another. Take these as givens.

But what you don’t already know is what Harrison Barnes will do.

 

Highlight: GM Donnie Nelson cuffs himself to Harrison Barnes.

“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” -Joshua 1:9

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Witness Donnie Nelson, son of modern smallball’s infamous progenitor, linked at the wrist to new free agent acquisition and NBA Champion Harrison Barnes. It is little secret that the Mavericks have long appeared in need of high-flying, youthful athleticism (consider it equally obvious for now that DeAndre Jordan is a huge bitch). But try as he might, Harrison will never get away from the Mavericks now; what a catch!!

At eighteen, Barnes was the consensus #1 recruit overall; at twenty, he was the #7 pick in the NBA draft. Now at twenty-four, he remains a solidly above-average small forward, the worthy starter for a 73-win team. Slotting in for ex-Mav Chandler Parsons, he will be lengthier, more agile, and genuinely attempt to play defense. He is already Chandler’s equal as a quality streak shooter, particularly from the NBA corners, but three years younger. With less hitch to his shot and eight inches more bounce to his step, he may yet make the leap that Chandler never could.

Most importantly, Harrison Barnes is the prototype of the modern 3-and-D forward, and a true two-way player. In his day, Barnes would have inspired the original Don Nelson to try then-unthinkable lineups, pairing Barnes at the 4 with Bogut or—God forbid—Dirk at the 5, should the Mavericks wish to eschew all rebounds for a thousand generations. More likely, he spends most of his time in the wings alongside his possible future avatar in Wesley Matthews, although with Dallas’ apparent eagerness to play an eight-point guard rotation, he may ultimately play more 4 as the season goes on and Carlisle starts tinkering to rest Dirk’s aging, $20-million-a-year legs. In any event, the Mavs are going all-in on Harrison.

 

Lowlight: Harrison Barnes cuffs himself to GM Donnie Nelson.

“And she said unto [Harrison Barnes], I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.” -Joshua 2:9

And that’s a bit of a problem. With the NBA announcing that the 2016-17 salary cap will be $5 million lower than expected, Dallas is left fielding yet another team of wily, mismatched veterans and overpaid free agents that Carlisle will cleverly exploit to their maximal potential of just-over .500 ball and a hard-fought first-round exit.

Harrison is already a scapegoat in the aftermath of the NBA Finals, and a laughingstock well in advance of the 2016 Zika Games in Brazil. There, he will rub elbows with Klay, Draymond, and Kevin, and in the heat and pressure of such intense closed-doors competition, he may finally acquire the adamantine sparkle of a nascent diamond; he may also shatter on sight, shimmering away under the pressure. There are whispers within the Mavericks organization that Harrison may average twenty points for them as a go-to scorer; it is hard to imagine better than an inconsistent seventeen.

For years, an aging Dirk has willingly sacrificed up to $78.7 million in salary to populate the roster around himself with further talent and remain competitive. Now, the unadulterated weight of this burden falls squarely on Harrison Barnes’ shoulders, who has come to take the mantle from such fire-to-ash stars as O.J. Mayo, Monta Ellis, and the still-lingering Deron Williams, who yet remains suspended between death and undeath. With one final roll of the dice, Dallas’ all-too-mortal 38-year-old stretch forward is obliged place all his faith and hope in a 24-year-old who reached twenty points just 6 times in 89 appearances last year, and finished 5-of-32 from the field as the Cavaliers clawed their way back to steal history.

Harrison Barnes could fuck everything up, slowly imploding upon himself like an office building whose designated time has come, the millstone of his contractual expectations dragging him further downward, floor by floor. Or he could develop a purposeful off-the-dribble game with a mean streak; he might take accountability for this squad, and lead the Mavericks by the throat right back into relevance. And that’s why just in case, I’ll be watching every moment.

So whenever you’re ready to read about the most mysterious man in the NBA, I’ll be right here. All Barnes Myself.