Because That's What Brian Boitano'd Do

Because That's What Brian Boitano'd Do
Sep 08, 2008, 10:50 pm
Two weeks ago, I personally saw to it that everything that society thought it knew about genetics, biological science and the design of the human anatomy was shown to be little more than a disjointed symposium of bollocks. I ensured that the vast compilations of research data handed down through generations that we today know as "science" were callously undermined, never to be referenced again. I challenged the very fabric of modern society, shaking modern medicine to the core. And I did this by playing a game of Wii Sports Baseball.

Wii Sports Baseball is a fantastic game that involves repeated wild and overexuberant flailing of the arms in a concerted effort to hit an invisible pixelated baseball. The more extravagant the swing, the more enjoyment you will derive from the game. If you don't impinge your shoulder, or rupture your spleen, then you haven't really tried. The obvious flaw in such a game is that you need a rather big area of humiliating flailing room in which to play it without breaking anything. For me, this need is twice as pressing, as my invisible baseball swing is modelled around that of Cliff Floyd, when Cliff is swinging for Cruithne on a 3-0 count, combined with a pre-pitch wiggle reminiscent of a coked-up Gary Sheffield on a particularly jittery day. My rotator cuff and wrist surgeries have been booked in advance.

To get the space required to tear my shoulder ligaments, I needed to either visit the flood plains of Egypt and rig up one hell of a long multi-plug power cord, or to go instead to the front room of my house, the only part of the building with enough space. Since my lounge was a bit nearer than Egypt, I opted for that, even though I was flying in the face of a long established bit of my personal history in doing so: I'm allergic to my own front room. Spending any significant time in it leads to wheezing, swelling, discomfort, leprosy, dropsy, terminal gout and spontaneous combustion. [Readers note: the author is exaggerating a bit. But only a bit.]

But I'm no quitter, and I went ahead with the plan regardless. After inviting some friends over, we took turns to play Wii Baseball, each striving to strike out more elaborately and immaturely than the player before. This carried on for about three hours, occasionally interjected by a game of unsighted Wii Tennis. (Never let it be said that we don't know how to party.) However, it wasn't long before I was nursing a face the size of sub-Saharan Africa, as my long term allergy to some unknown element of the room returned with a vengeance. We ploughed on regardless, with me suffering from breathing difficulties and unable to see out of my left eye, before being all partied out at about 9pm and going our separate ways. By this point, I was really labouring, if an unemployed man can in any way labour.

With the lung capacity of an asthmatic dust mite and the unerotic facial swellings of a heavily beaten Michelin Man, I went to have a bath, because I was strangely convinced that this would be the cure. It was in my bathroom, while looking in the mirror to inspect the damage, that I realized I had changed the course of human evolution forever. Somehow, the combination of the intense allergic reaction and endlessly rubbing them had made my eyes change colour, from their normal and sexual sky blue to a shade that the Dulux Paint Colour Chart labels as "Jade Cluster". I don't know this happened, but it happened. And if Jade Cluster sounds attractive to you, she wasn't.

(This all actually happened, by the way. I have photographs to prove it, as well as the testimony of eye witnesses (pun!). After seeing that my eyes had changed colour, I excitedly rang people and made them witness it, to act as my guarantors for this story. That's my style, you choose your own. Also note: since this did genuinely happen, there must be an explanation for it, other than saying that I'm a genetic freak or a deity or something. If any scientists out there have an explanation, let me know. Unless the reason is unspectacular. In that event, I'll stick with the deity thing.)

Panicked, I went to bed. When I woke up the following morning, Jade was gone, without so much as a note or a phone number. (She never writes, she never calls, and that's why I'll never truly love her.) Still somewhat suffering, but at least armed with the correct eye colour, I downed a gallon of Piriton allergy and set to work on the task of uncovering quite what it was about that room that defied scientific convention. After spending a few hours uncomfortably snuggling potential stimuli, waiting for my face to again evolve into that of Joseph Merrick, I have finally been able to pinpoint the cause of the problem - the feathers in my cushions. So that's any prospective pheasant plucking career over with, then.

Such a steady and structured approach to my problem helped find the solution. By carefully eliminating all potential options one by one, I was able to rule out all possible outcomes to this problem, and instead found a sensible, measured and logical resolution to the situation.

Unfortunately, Ben Gordon's contract negotiations have not been handled with the same degree of reasoning.

The Bulls got off to a great start this offseason, unjustly winning the draft lottery, and getting a good laugh at Mike D'Antoni in the process. Prior to this, General Manager John Paxson had set to work on clearing out their coaching staff, and replacing them - eventually - with Vinny Del Negro (about whom nothing much can be said, although at least he's not a retread) and an All Star lineup of assistants to replace whatever the hell you want to call what went before. They even cleansed the commentary booths, dispensing of Tom "Look at the bench!" Dore and "Ring It Up" Wayne Larrivee, while bringing in one of the game's best announcers in Chuck Swirsky. So far, so good.

But then came the players. Luol Deng's contract was secured comparatively quickly, a resolution brought about when the Bulls agreed to overpay him because of his great smile and because the owner likes him more. [Readers note - the preceding reasons were entirely speculative and shouldn't be regarded as respectable.] However, they have not made such a concession with Ben Gordon - their leading scorer and best shooter - and so, unlike Usain Bolt, his situation continues to run. What the Bulls have offered is a 6 year, $59 million contract. What Ben Gordon wants is a 6 year, $72 million contract, one which would make him the highest paid Bull, as well as the recipient of the largest contract in the franchise's history.

Two months in, and neither side has backed down yet.

The Bulls have not improved on this offer partly because of its reasonable value, partly because they're the ones holding all the cards (if you'll excuse the tired old cliché), and partly because of their precarious financial position. Staying under the luxury tax while retaining all their core players has been a priority of the Bulls for several years now, and they've pretty much achieved it, even if it cost them Tyson Chandler in the process. Kirk Hinrich, Ben Wallace and Andres Nocioni all took the unusual step of accepting declining contracts that helped the Bulls maintain future financial flexibility, and even the signing of Joe Smith was done with this summer's budget in mind. The unexpected salary of Derrick Rose notwithstanding, the Bulls have gotten their budget about right, being able to overpay the players that they love and hardball those that they don't, without ever paying the luxury tax, as doing so would be the work of Satan. Puppies would be left out in the rain. Kittens would cry. Little babies would spontaneously combust. Stricken parents would kill themselves with grief. The $59 million offer represents the most that the Bulls can offer without going over the threshold and paying and tax, thereby saving the lives of young families everywhere.

Similarly, Ben Gordon has also not backed down from his hard line stance, because......well, we don't really know why.

Consider for a moment Gordon's options. He could sign the Bulls more-than-fair offer, but he's said he won't. He could sign the decently sized $6.4 million qualifying offer, but he's said he won't. He could sign an offer sheet with another team, but the Bulls would match anything equal to or lower than their current offer, and only the Memphis Grizzlies can make a bigger one, something which they've shown no intentions of doing. He could work out a sign and trade deal, but no team wants to pay him equal to the Bulls offer, let alone top it. He could sign in Europe, but the big spenders don't want him. Or he could hold out forever and ever and ever and never play professional basketball again.

The last one is where we appear to be headed. Olympiakos don't want to know. Neither do CSKA Moscow, despite Gordon's agent Raymond Brothers wanting it so much that he's willing to tell everyone they do. Memphis would rather have Josh Smith and Zach Randolph. Everyone else spent their money. And no one but the Bulls thinks he's worth $10 million a year, let alone $12 million. Therefore, since no one else wants him, surely Ben must be destined to sign with his lone suitor? Mustn't he?

Apparently not. We have worked through this, and there remains only one offer on the table. We have eliminated all other avenues, and found the solution. We have discussed that I'm allergic to feathers, and that Ben Gordon is destined to re-sign with the Bulls. And yet, for some reason, we continue to wait.

Sooner or later, this saga will conclude itself. It has to. Two months of holding out has so far seen no one other than the Bulls make a competitive offer, and the Gordon camp's endless search for some leverage in their negotiations have served only to weaken their position. One more month will achieve no more good - the Bulls are missing out on possible contingency plans, Ben Gordon's public image is taking a serious beating, and the Chicago fan base is becoming increasingly alienated. We continue to wait for common sense to prevail. So far, it hasn't.

The Bulls are once again mired in a sticky and protacted contract negotiation. This time, it's not their fault.

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