Just look at that face up there. Just look at it. The guy looks so undeservedly smug; i’d bet he DVRs episodes of Pardon The Interruption and replays them while masturbating furiously as he stares into a full length mirror. And if there’s one guy around the DC area that should not be doing that, it’s him. After reading his articles and blog posts that deal with the NHL, I can say with confidence that he is among the worst around. Wilbon is a basketball guy, and just how little he actually knows about hockey becomes more and more painfully apparent with every passing sentence. In this post I will attempt to tackle his most recent atrocity, entitled “Crosby Miles Ahead of Ovechkin” Beware though, extended exposure to Michael Wilbon’s hockey writing has been known to cause AIDS in lab rats, so read at your own risk.
Wilbon doesn’t even give us enough time to buckle our seat-belts, before assaulting us with a heavy-dose of Stupid.
One of the biggest Olympic winners has to be Canada’s Sidney Crosby, who at 22 years old has already won Olympic Gold, the World Championship and the Stanley Cup. And for the second straight time Crosby went through Alexander Ovechkin en route to winning. If this doesn’t make Crosby the preeminent player in the world, I don’t know what does.
Though I have to give credit where it’s due- at least Wilbon admitted he doesn’t “know what does”…because he doesn’t. Ignore for a second all the other details that go into determining who the best player is. Ignore Crosby and Ovechkin, Canada and Russia, Pittsburgh and Washington. From these very first lines it appears that Wilbon is going to compare two individual players, by using TEAM SUCCESS as the measuring stick. That is prima facie idiocy.
Crosby didn’t exactly light it up, in terms of scoring; he’d have gone three straight games without a point had he not scored the game winner in OT against the U.S. But he did. And before that, Crosby’s team trashed Ovechkin’s Russian team, just as Crosby’s team went on the road to beat Oveckin’s team in a Game 7 during last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.
Right, Crosby didn’t light it up, far from it in fact. Going into these Olympic games everyone knew that Canada had one of the most talented teams ever assembled in international competition. Their defensive and forward depth were simply amazing. Russia, on the other hand, lacked any semblance of shutdown defense, and aside from their top 2 lines, their forwards were not very scary. Perhaps those facts had something to do with Canada winning 7-3? Crosby went pointless in the game, which had become the norm for him during the elimination rounds, but that hasn’t stopped idiots like Wilbon from saying “Crosby went through Ovechkin again!” The media’s infatuation with “well his team won therefor player X must be better” is becoming very tired. I don’t know, call me crazy, but I find that giving an enormous amount of credit to one player for his team’s success when he wasn’t even one of their top 6 forwards for the tournament is the definition of stupidity. I guess that’s why I’m not a sports writer though.
Capitals fans might as well stop with the argument that Ovechkin is a better player; sure he is a bigger scorer and more entertaining player. But he can’t get his team past Crosby’s teams and they’re undeniable rivals and will be for the length of their careers. Right now, Ovechkin would need a telescope to see Crosby, who’s that far ahead in this race.
So you guys know all those other things, that we can quantify, that show Ovechkin is the clear-cut better player? Well, you can THROW THOSE ALL OUT! One Calder, two Hart trophies, 2 Pearsons, an identical point per game average as Crosby while scoring close to 100 more goals in that time period? Whelp, those mean nothing because the Penguins beat the Capitals in a coin-flip game 7 last season, and Canada won the gold medal! Grit, clutch, desire, and “Good ol’ Canadian Boy-ness”, well those are the things that REALLY go into to determining who the better player is.
First, he shoved a female fan’s camera and reportedly she suffered bruises in the incident. Now comes the news that he broke the camera of a man asking for an interview. There is video of each incident.
Bruises? Comeon Michael, that’s patently ridiculous. I’ve watched the video, and I find it hard to believe that a 2 second encounter like that would result in bruises, nevermind that the burden of proof is on you if you’re going to be throwing those accusations around. Now I’m not really excusing his behavior, but you’re talking about a guy who’s coming off the worst loss of his career, in a place where he can’t walk a millimeter without getting cameras shoved in his face. He took the loss badly and made a mistake. It’s hilarious that Wilbon of all people would really hit Ovechkin for that when he’s notorious for carrying water for two of the biggest assholes in professional sports- Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. But hey, it’s pretty obvious that consistency isn’t paramount for writers:
Wilbon several weeks ago had this to say: Ovi is the best player in the NHL…The rage he plays with is irresistible.
And this: “Ovechkin is a beast. He explodes, like a tornado. Ovechkin is scary. His shot is scary. There’s an aggression about him, a barely controlled fury that Crosby, great as he is, doesn’t have. Nobody else has it … He’s the fastest, toughest guy with the biggest shot, the fewest teeth. Every great player wants to win. Ovechkin wants to beat you down.”
So all of that gets thrown out the window because the heavily favored team won the Gold Medal? Simply preposterous.
If Crosby is a rough equivalent of a young Kobe Bryant, in terms of talent and results, then Ovechkin is a rough equivalent of LeBron James, which is to say young and physically unstoppable but as yet undecorated.
That’s a comparison I can deal with, but the funny thing is that it’s pretty obvious Lebron is simply the best player in the NBA right now, and Wilbon doesn’t even realize the comparison contradicts everything he’s been saying. The difference between Lebron and Kobe isn’t some mythical BS about “clutch” or “grit”. The difference is that while Kobe has been on teams with an absolutely dominant Shaq, and another with Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum, Lebron has played with Delonte West, and Anderson Varejao. It doesn’t take a genius to see that one player has had a clear advantage when it comes to surrounding teams. Put Ovechkin on Canada, and Crosby on Russia and what happens? Russia still gets demolished, and Canada still wins the Gold medal. If Max Talbot doesn’t score 2 goals in game 7 of last year’s Stanley Cup Finals does the sports media make Crosby answer for his woeful 3 points in 7 games performance? I know I would. The difference is that the rest of his team showed up, so him sucking gets swept under the rug. That is why doing what Wilbon is doing in this article- trying to use team success as the determinant of “who’s better?” is the epitome of hack-writing.
Somehow, Ovechkin’s lapses in judgment (or was it a disregard of civility?) went largely unnoticed. Ovechkin is damn lucky he’s not black and playing basketball; my brethren in the national (and local) media would have put on their Sunday church robes and preached him to death by now. We’d have read about “those thug basketball players” and such. Ovechkin, apparently, is for whatever reasons, beyond their reach. He’s untouchable. All these folks writing and talking about the Winter Olympics and I haven’t seen a word of criticism directed at Ovechkin, famous as he is.
Well if you’ve ever read a Wilbon column you knew that was coming- the obligatory race card and NBA reference. That is what’s called “grasping at straws” Michael. Pushing a camera, while not admirable behavior, is far from Earth-shaking, but I suppose your entire career is based on making mountains out of mole-hills. Would you prefer if it was front page news? The headline on Around the Horn or Pardon The Interruption?
The fact of the matter is that Michael Wilbon knows two things about hockey: jack and shit. He simply doesn’t have a clue of how to judge and compare players, so he sticks with the embarrassingly simplistic “well Crosby’s won” justification. Perhaps that justification would hold water if he actually showed up in the Stanley Cup Finals, or the entire elimination round of The Olympics, but in reality he didn’t. It’s just amazing to me that these writers attempt to compare individual players using essentially the least-optimal point of comparison. I’d laugh, if it wasn’t so tragic that the people with the power to influence millions of minds everyday thought on such a 1st-grade level.