I looked with great relief toward Saturday’s televised Summer League game with the Knicks, mostly because my ears were still ringing from the cacophonous mess or The Dark Knight, which I’d seen the night before. By the way, anti-props go to the Charlotte Observer’s Lawrence Toppman for his review of the film. I suppose it’s technically impossible to have a “wrong” opinion of something, but still, when Toppman writes that director Christopher Nolan “keeps the focus tight: All events take place in Gotham over a couple of months,” I can’t buy anything he says from then on. First of all, the movie didn’t take place completely in Gotham; there was an extremely long sequence in which Batman goes out to freakin’ Hong Kong to bust a bad guy. This wasn’t just a brief interlude, either—there was a lengthy build-up, complete with airline arrangements, a fresh new Bat-suit made especially for the trip, an elaborately-staged yacht-escape sequence, and the whole thing culminated with a (barely comprehensible—along with just about everything else in this movie) fight scene. How did Toppman forget about this?
Maybe because this movie wasn't “tight.” It featured one main bad guy (the Joker), one secondary bad guy (Two-Face), a horde of sub-bad guys (miscellaneous gangsters), a superfluous returning bad guy (that guy with the bag on his head from the first movie), bad guy/good guys (crooked cops), bad-but-harmless guys (fake Batman imposters), bad-but-good-in-the-end guys (convicts who decide not to blow up a boat), mistaken-for-bad guys (terrorists who are actually hostages (I think—this scene really made no sense, and that’s saying something)), and good-but-pretends-to-be-bad-for-reasons-that-didn’t-make-much-sense (Batman himself). Even if you could keep track of all this gibberish, I wouldn’t call it "tight"—heck, look at the paragraph I wrote just to summarize this.
One more problem with this supposedly “tight” movie before I get to the game is the Joker’s total omnipotence/omnipresence. I understand that this is supposed to be a parable for post-9/11 America, with the Joker standing-in for Al Qaeda, and that’s all very clever and deep. But come on, that doesn’t mean the Joker can possibly rig huge boats with explosives without anyone noticing, arrange it so everyone evacuates all hospitals except one person while he slips in unnoticed, commandeer entire buildings to stage elaborate and incomprehensible hostage-situations (see above), get hold major public figures’ DNA to send death threats (at least, I think that’s what he did), etc, etc, etc. Basically, he was totally, inexplicably, unstoppable. Isn't some sort of explanation for how he did all this warranted? I really think there were so many explosions that everyone—the audience, the directors, the editors—got lost in the shuffle. No wait, that can’t be, because this movie was so “tight.”
Anyway, onto Saturday’s game—the final of the Bobcats’ Summer League season. Overall, the game was about as tight as The Dark Knight. Seriously, I’ve seen gas passed better than what these teams were doing with the ball. In all, the teams combined for 24 assists and 35 turnovers, which can basically be explained by the fact that D.J. Augustin didn’t play and the fact that Nate Robinson did.
The most notable participant was Alexis Ajinca, and it was for all the wrong reasons. This was my first look at the Frenchman, and let’s just say that if this game were the Batman franchise, he would be Katie Holmes; his appearance was brief and horrible. In eight minutes of utter goofiness that would have made Primoz Brezec blush, Ajinca committed 3 fouls, a turnover, and topped his Turd Sundae off with a missed 3-pointer (?). He was also so spectacularly out of position all the time that even opposing players were pointing out where he needed to be standing. He was burnt so repeatedly that the uncreative nickname “French Toast” popped into my head about halfway through his stay. Then he injured himself. Holy-moly.
If there was any upside to the debac-ular Ajinca, it’s that he made Jermareo Davidson look like Earl Monroe. In fact, sporting the Sprewell pig-tails, Davidson actually showed some good moves down low. In the second quarter, Davidson executed a stellar head-fake on some guy named Holland en route to a powerful slam. Davidson finished with an efficient 10 points in just 12 minutes, although he still needs to step his rebounding up (just 1 board).
The other two standouts for the Bobcats were forward/center Kyle Visser, a 4-year Wake Forest grad who looks similar to Lem from The Shield (that is, before Shane threw a hand grenade at him), and former Clipper guard Guillermo Diaz. Visser finished with 10 points and 7 boards, while Diaz contributed 14 points and got to the free throw line 5 times. I don’t even really remember when either of these guys did all this, which probably means it happened in the 2nd quarter. I say this because almost the entirety of that period was devoted to an interview with the barely-audible new Knick point guard, Chris Duhon. Like most athletes, Duhon is tragically unable to make eye contact with his interlocutors, with the twist that he’s one of those rare types who elects to look up rather than down while he’s not looking at the commentators. Thus, it was hard to know what was happening on the court while watching Duhon appear to count ceiling lights.
Rounding out the squad, Jared Dudley was superb in a brief cameo, collecting a steal, 3 rebounds, and 4 points in under 7 minutes. Kyle Weaver was also on the scene, but he didn’t do anything other than look ominously like Ricky Davis. Orien Greene (14 pts) and Marcus Slaughter (10 pts) rounded out our double-digit scorers; unfortunately for them, we need more 3-4 swingmen on our team about as much as Batman needs another villain.