Trick question because it’s not World B. Free and Metta World Peace. World B. was simply a fun-loving basketball player who took a lot of shots.
Mario Balotelli, however, is trying his best to follow in the footsteps of the player formerly known as Ron Artest because of his mercurial decision-making and love of technical fouls (also known as yellow and red cards). His latest red card in the loss to Arsenal was so obviously coming that Eric Wynalda guaranteed it at half-time. At the least, it wasn’t going to take much more than a plastic cup of water to send him over the edge. He deserved a straight red card for an egregious foul in the first half, and it wasn’t called. But that didn’t stop him. Dumb foul after dumb foul, and finally this…
But like MWP, Balotelli is also incredibly talented and likeable. He’s having fun and it often leads to incredibly and laughably bad results. Compare MWP’s brilliant pass this week with MB’s equally brilliant shot this past summer. And at least sometimes it leads to positive results, like Artest’s game 5, 4th quarter performance against Phoenix in 2010, where he misses two ridiculously bad 3 point shots in the final minute (leading Coach Jackson to tell players during the timeout not to pass him the ball), and then rebounding a missed shot at the buzzer by Kobe and winning the game. Balotelli is the LeBron James of soccer. Big, fast, and far more physically imposing than anyone on the field.
Balotelli’s team, Manchester City, has a lot in common these days with the Miami Heat. Both teams are loaded, and both teams absolutely have to win now. Man City is very likely NOT going to win. Miami is doing their best impression of a team that isn’t going to win either, losing again last night to the Bulls. Man City is 5 points back with 5 games left, and one of those games is with first place Man U., who just inexplicably lost to Wigan. And yet, Man City’s coach thinks the team has absolutely no chance of winning the title. Who in the U.S. would say that kind of thing?
Speaking of Wigan, the Golden State Warriors were on west coast prime time last night on ESPN, bringing back many memories. If the Warriors could ever win, they’d be front and center on unrepentant homer. Their first round win over Dallas a few years ago led to so much excitement that our webpage crashed and went into receivership. But watching them on tv is like watching the Twilight Zone. No matter what year it is, it’s always the same team–young, out of control, talented, able to get hot on occasion and disrupt a better team’s rhythm (arguable, btw, the hardest word in the english language to spell), usually with a guy like Latrell Spreewell/Stephen Jackson/Baron Davis/Nate Robinson who is totally amazing one day and jacking up crazy 3’s the next, but then the team trades its most talented player(s), fires its coach, changes its uniforms and mascot, and starts over. They are always starting over; and because they embody Frederick Jackson’s Turner’s thesis on what makes America, America, I’m going to start calling them America’s Team. It’s always morning in America in Golden State, and there’s enough misdirected hope and idealism that they continually ignore the fact that an occasional win against Dallas, or a Sleepy Floyd 4th quarter comeback against the Lakers, doesn’t mean there’s any chance of actually being good.
Looking ahead: Sunday at 1 pm, the Heat come to Madison Square Garden. Preview of what would be the premier first round matchup? Will the Knicks give the Heat something to worry about?