(Editor’s Note: Today’s article continues our 2017 NBA Playoffs basketball coverage called 40 Nights of Hate, as the next two months of our lives will be devoted to the greatest postseason basketball tournament known to mankind. Some of our arguments will be rational, many others will be irrational. To hate is to love, as the basketball gods toy with our lives like James Harden does oafish 7-footers on switched pick-and-rolls. Enjoy our 40 Nights of Hate coverage, or despise it. Either is acceptable.)
Fred Hoiberg is the worst.
That declaration can mean a variety of things depending on the relation one has to the Chicago Bulls head coach. If you’re a Bulls fan, there’s a chance you believe he’s incompetent as a head coach. If you’re a basketball fan, there’s a chance you feel he’s working with a terrible roster and has no idea what to do with it. If you’re Rajon Rondo, you might think he’s abhorrent because you’re Rajon Rondo.
However for me, my reasons for calling out Hoiberg is simple. He criticized the handles of Isaiah Thomas and accused him of carrying.
Does Isaiah Thomas carry when he dribbles? Yes.
Do I care that Isaiah Thomas carries when he dribbles? Well…
Look, I enjoy watching Thomas play basketball. He is fun. The fact that he’s capable of eviscerating everything in his path on offense while being about the same size of Houston Astros star Jose Altuve. It’s a captivating experience to watch him do work.
And yet, because of Hoiberg’s whining, I can’t stop looking at the wrists of Thomas. Every time I see the ball ever so slightly cupped for a tenth of a second, which allows IT to make even the best defenders’ knees quiver, I questioned whether what I saw is above bar.
Thomas is not the only one who blurs the line of acceptability of what’s a legal dribble in the NBA, but he’s the only one who has had the honor to be publicly called out for it in over a decade. (What up, A.I.) Some might say that Isaiah’s “cheating” is akin to holding in football, pine tar in baseball and goalies killing time in soccer or hockey. It’s gamemanship and looking for any competitive edge one can get.
However, Isaiah’s handle is the activation for everything he does on the basketball court. His handle allows him to get anywhere he wants on the court, which leads to dribble-drives, kickouts to open teammates and stepbacks that serve as daggers for an opponent.
Just ask the Washington Wizards about that 53-piece he gave them in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Hoiberg’s callout of Thomas’ dribbling is akin to your coworker pointing out that Darlene in accounting dyed her hair green because of Arbor Day and you can’t stop staring. I hate that I’m fixated on his dribble as much as I am now and the fact that I’m willing to question the validity of why Thomas is so great kinda stinks.
What can we take away from this? A few things really.
- Never take anything Fred Hoiberg says seriously.
- Sometimes, cheating a little bit is good for America.
- Isaiah Thomas is the same size as Jose Altuve.
This review of whether or not Isaiah Thomas travels every time by BBall Breakdown is worth your time, kudos to the folks over there. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to teach my height-deficient nephew how to dribble just like IT4 and wager on m88a that the Wizards won’t be able to stop the Celtics in this series.
Eddie Maisonet is the founder and editor emeritus of The Sports Fan Journal. Currently, he serves as an associate editor for ESPN.com. He is an unabashed Russell Westbrook and Barry Switzer apologist, owns over 100 fitteds and snapbacks, and lives by Reggie Jackson’s famous quote, “I am the straw that stirs the drink.”