I’m a long time fan of the NBA, and have been religiously watching as much as I can of the ongoing 2018 First Round Playoffs. Not being a US resident, I enjoy the whimsical luxury of switching the team I support, as and when I please. For the last few years, it’s been Golden State, and Durant’s Game 5 winner over Lebron’s outstretched hand in 2017 still remains a fond memory.

This year though, I have been dilly-dallying between the Warriors and the Sixers. The latter is an exciting team, and I didn’t miss a game in their gripping playoff battle with the Heat. I think the Sixers can take out the Champions if Curry does not get back to 100%. But before GSW can think about the Sixers, they need to get past the Houston Rockets. That’s no longer a sure thing even if the Warriors locate that fabled switch which makes them invincible in the Playoffs. And that brings us to the Rocket’s James Harden.

The bearded one is a player I love to watch. His incredible ankle breakers, his amazing skill to cut to the hoop through the heaviest of traffic, his unfailing ability to put the ball in from geometrically impossible angles, his poise to shoot from anywhere in an instant, and his knack of erupting into a scoring frenzy when his team needs it most, will most probably make him the MVP this year. His beard only adds to his superman aura. I play tennis and know how intensely uncomfortable it can be if you sweat a lot so it’s inconceivable how he plays with all that undergrowth on his face.

What I hate about Harden is his mastery of the dark art of getting foul calls.

Now there are two schools of thought on his issue. The first says what Harden is doing is fine as he is not breaking the rules. He’s just using the loopholes to get an advantage for his team so as to give themselves a good shot at getting a ring. Besides, it’s not like he is the only player who is gaming the system to get fouls. In fact, most players do. The only difference with Harden is, he has mastered the art, while the rest are still fumbling apprentices.

The other school of thought, to which I belong, is it tarnishes the shining talent of the man to see him stoop down to creating fouls. Of course, after a few years in the league, Harden may have concluded that this is the only way he can win a ring. It’s an argument that’s hard to answer.

But then again, who are the athletes we look up to? Would we have placed Michael Jordan on a pedestal if he had taken an approach like Harden’s?

Or look at this incident from another sport.

It’s gestures like these that make a sportsman transcend their sports and become icons. They represent a face of humanity we would all like to be. It absolutely infuriates me to think Harden, who has the potential to be one of these great ones, will instead forever be known as a genius in creating fouls.

Medium creates a similar mix of conflicting emotions in me. I love its elegant minimalistic look, its ease of use, the absolute freedom from the plague of ads, the much-needed control over comments from would-be trolls, the stats page which fires you up, and their innovative ways to commend articles, share drafts and communicate with other writers on the platform. Medium seems to have even discovered the Holy Grail of how to pay writers to write.

What I hate about Medium is its policy of paying writers only if they reside in the rich, First World countries.

Medium claims this is a technical issue, and it seems plausible. Until it suddenly hits you that the said technical issue does not prevent Medium from collecting membership subscriptions from writers in Third World countries in almost all of Africa and Asia. I can confirm this as I live in India and have been a paying member of the Medium Partner Program since its inception. The whole thing stinks of a colonial attitude where you only think of what you can grab, and feel absolutely no obligation to do anything in return.

All I can say to Harden and Medium is another quote, ‘Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest’ – Mark Twain.

Reading between the lines and writing about it. Find Babolous on Medium.
Reading between the lines and writing about it. Find Babolous on Medium.
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