The New York Times quarterly sports magazine, Play, will be publishing a piece by Chuck Klosterman (above) on Gilbert Arenas this weekend. It’s tough not to feel bad for Chuck in this. First of all, the definitive story on the subject has already been written. (And then crudely plugged twice in one sentence) And also because Chuck walks around all day knowing that people want to sock him in the face. There are other reasons to shed a tear for Klosterman, but this case is especially poignant primarily because he has been tasked with writing about someone more interesting than him. How will he still find a way to write about himself? Henry Abbott’s True Hoop has a preview of the article and Klosterman’s first two paragraphs are innocuous enough. Abbott also does a brief interview with this hideous man — in which Chuck compares The ‘Bachi (favorably) to Courtney Love — which goes a long way towards answering that question, and is characteristically rich in the plu-certain condescension and meaningless contrarianism that are Klosterman’s signatures. Abbott’s questions are in bold.

Here’s my question, though: does Arenas flaunt the NBA’s control, or does he operate wackily within its bounds? He just seems so harmless…
I would not say Arenas is necessarily subversive, because he doesn’t do things that jeopardize the credibility or the integrity of the NBA. He probably is (as you say) “harmless.” But would you prefer the opposite? Would you prefer that he be
harmful? Should he attack fans? I think the fact that Arenas’ eccentricities still exist within the conventional framework of the league is probably his greatest asset: He’s just a FRACTION beyond control.

Oh no, I certainly don’t want Gilbert taking swings at fans or being really harmful. But I guess I see at least some of the NBA’s controlling nature as over-reaching and if he were to use his position as a hard-working, charismatic, outspoken, but harmless player to loosen them up at the league a little I would like him even more.
I see what you’re saying, but I don’t know how that would really manifest itself. Should Gilbert Arenas come out and endorse Obama? I have no idea. Personally, I have mixed feelings about how negative or positive the controlling nature of the NBA truly is. Philosphically, I always find myself wanting David Stern to give the players greater freedom — but whenever I sit down and watch a pro game, it seems like the league isn’t controlling the product enough. Stern is constantly worried about things like dress codes and hip-hop and consumer image, but the NBA’s biggest problem seems pretty straightforward: How do they make the 3rd quarter of a regular season game more watchable? Because right now, that’s the crux of every other problem the NBA pretends to have.

Chuck should talk to Jason Whitlock about that last point, probably. At the risk of demonstrating a Klostermaniacal attachment to rhetorical questions, though, Chuck’s answers raise a series of questions for me. Foremost among them: how can a guy who keeps saying, essentially, “I don’t know,” manage to say it in a tone that strongly implies “you don’t know?” Also, how does Chuck manage to work Radiohead into this article? Why did he cut the Wizznutzz from the piece (James was interviewed, and wound up getting dumped in favor of, if I had to guess, a Klostermanian digression on an ex-girlfriend)? And, finally, via Dan Shanoff, what if instead of endorsing Obama, Arenas actually sort of was Obama?