On the John
King Crane Fly James battles the Bulls
Originally completed April 23, 2010
I walked into my brother’s room early this morning in search of a towel. On my way out I heard his voice saying “Jack, can you do me a favor?”
“Grab a paper towel and kill that mosquito.”
I found this to be an ominous request. Most people request a lone tissue for the execution of a single insect. I grabbed two Kleenex out of the box and walked back into the room. “Hurry man,” he instructed safely from his bed. “Get it now while it’s behind the door.”
I looked behind the door and was confronted by what is hopefully the largest mosquito in either the Western or Northern Hemispheres. Upon seeing me, the giant mosquito launched itself toward the ceiling, darting about the room at top mosquito speed – impressive, since it was the size of my palm and seemed to be gripping some hopeless prey in its frighteningly sizeable mosquito talons. “What the hell is that?” I shouted, attempting desperately to corner the flying beast. “Is it gripping something?”
“No man,” Mike said, aware of my confusion. “L.A. just has these monster mosquitoes. They’re everywhere.” I was wary of murdering this thing, and so I tried to simply persuade it to fly toward the sliding door that leads to the deck. “Don’t open that,” Mike said. “You let that out and two more fly in. You have no choice. You must destroy it.”
As it turns out, these winged aggressors are not mosquitoes at all but crane flies, a highly unusual, generally harmless insect known in more official circles as a Tipula. Here’s what happens when the Tipula is finally in your sights and pinned against the wall with multiple Kleenex: it posts minimal objection and you easily ball it up. A little too easy, you think to yourself, and then you pull back and are startled to find no marks on the white plaster wall. Spiders, mosquitoes, ladybugs, and most other insects leave some sort of smear.
And yet this insect – so big that humans routinely mistake it for some kind of mutant – leaves behind a clean wall, as if it can only be temporarily removed, never killed outright.
Today’s NBA is filled with its own crane flies, mutants that resemble basketball players in their various parts yet add up to a remarkable, never-seen-before whole. These specimen include Durant in Oklahoma, Dwight Howard in Orlando, the injured Chris Paul in New Orleans, and of course LeBron James, captain of the mutants.
Mutant Captain James and his band of Cavaliers played some reg’lar-ol’ mosquito hoops yesterday in Chicago, trailed by 21 midway through the third with only 47 points to their name, and still managed to have a Gordon Hayward-esque shot at the W in the game’s final moments. I was watching from a Los Angeles bar called Jax, a spot on Brand Blvd. that Schwartz and I settled upon due to its classy, wooden exterior and neon sign.
Ben hasn’t watched much basketball this season, and on a whole, has missed much of Derrick Rose’s Bulls career due to living out of state for two years. Watching 21st century mutant hoops with a dedicated basketball fan who has taken a few years away from the game is fascinating – my long-time partner-in-Bulls could hardly believe the dribbling and driving feats of Derrick Rose, or the ease with which the great James controls the court. “It’s too small for him,” Ben said after LeBron scored the game’s first points with a driving layup that sliced straight through the Chicago de-fense.
While crane flies can be handled with Kleenex, there is no stopping James, as evidenced by his performance in Game 3. It never felt at any time that LeBron had Taken Over or was soon to do so. He sort of just hung out and directed the action, pointing teammates this way or that, using himself as a decoy at times, only contributing his absolute LeBronness when it was entirely needed. Ben and I repeatedly remarked that it did not seem as if he were trying…
…and yet when the box score had settled, there was LeBron with game-highs in minutes, points, assists, blocks, steals (tied with West and Deng) and free throws. He was also one of three players who racked up double figures in rebounds. And knocked in four of eight three-pointers.
Meanwhile, Derrick Rose continues to play like Jason Kidd, only if Kidd could dunk like Baron Davis while shooting almost 50% from the floor. It was another marvelous game for the kid From Chicago, who poured in 31 points and seven assists without a single turnover. The Bulls also received wonderful efforts from Deng and Noah, along with a signature night from the now cagey veteran Kirk Hinrich. All told, the Bulls made 50% of their shots, 40% of their threes, bested the Cavs at the line, hung with them on the glass, limited their turnovers, forced 13, and still only managed a two-point victory.
Once the crane fly was safely disposed, I felt the bizarre sensation of killing something without it actually dying. I am guessing that is how the Bulls felt after Game 3, with Game 4 set to pop on Sunday. It will be 12:30 in Los Angeles, a lazy Sunday afternoon, not the ideal time for a fan to strap in and get set for what will surely be an angry, fully-trying James. Prepare yourself for a minimum of 45 points and quite possibly a triple, quadruple, or even quintuple double. This is mutant country. Be warned.
Copyright 2010, jm silverstein
2010 Bulls postseason coverage
Trying to clinch: Let them eat Cubs
Pre-Game 1: Training with sharks
GAME 2: When the going gets good