Recommended Reading: FreeDarko

I’m not exactly sure, but my best guess is that this is my first post in about two weeks. Partly tennis. Less partly schoolwork. Mostly re-reading every FreeDarko post for the last year or so. Read it, because I know haven’t (Rocco, I recommend the second post down the page for you).

Nothing else will ever be posted on the site, which is a shame. FreeDarko and its primary writer, Bethlehem Shoals, were virtually universally praised for covering basketball without just covering basketball. From the final post:

Free Darko is a mantra of friendship, human analysis, and taste. The collective devoured processed journalism and left fresh. Certainly, this calls for a toast for the future of sports coverage.

That is, of course, not shameless self promotion by Shoals, but an excerpt from one of the seemingly hundreds of writers (sports or not) that contributed to FreeDarko.

FreeDarko didn’t cover basketball the way anybody expected. Yes, there were stats and the occasional highlight video, but there was real risk in the writing. It wasn’t just Shoals getting a shoutout from Bill Simmons in The Book of Basketball and promptly ripping the book in half, in New York Magazine, no less. It was in the intimidating length of the posts, in the high-end pontificating, in the descriptions.

Sayeth Deadspin: Sportswriters rarely take the time to describe what actually happens on the court, knowing as they do that the highlight will show on SportsCenter soon enough anyway….We lose something when our writers stop describing even what everyone else can see for himself. We lose that contagious love of detail — of simply watching very closely — and we cede yet more ground to those basketball writers who would use the sport as an arena for their grumpy toy morality.FreeDarko always stood against all that grumbly shit as a sort of improvised barricade — bits of old furniture here and stray paving stones there, all of it amounting in the end to a wonderfully bughouse monument to detail, to watching very closely.

On Tracy McGrady, Shoals writes: McGrady wasn’t just bigger, stronger, faster, or more athletic. He felt and moved through the game like few before or since.

And then you go and watch that clip of McGrady scoring a lot of points in not a lot of time, and you see him roll right towards Duncan, knowing he’ll bite for the fake but not just faking, but faking up and then around and down to get that shot off, and you realize he’s right.

Of course, with Darko somehow a legitimate NBA center on a not-so-legitimate NBA team, FreeDarko must cease to exist. Because, ultimately:

It was never about freeing Darko; it was about freeing the existential angst from our sports-loving spleens, letting it gurgle up and overflow and drip guilt and agony and joy and rancid yet liberating repression all over our keyboards and monitors and mouse pads. Well, that and freeing Darko.

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One Response to Recommended Reading: FreeDarko

  1. Pingback: Wait For It… | Just Right Sports

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