i begin with a quote, taken seconds ago from the broadcast of game 2 of sacto vs. san antone: "a jumper by bruce bowen! a great defensive player, so any points you get from him are a bonus!" this drives me mad! i've never heard someone say or write: "peja stojakovic stayed in front of his man! a great offensive player, so any defense you get from him is a bonus!" i mean hitting an open 15 foot jumper as Bowen just did seems pretty much as elementary a skill to expect from a professional player at his position as staying in front of his man seems to be. so why is that? why does it seem to be okay to be a one-sided defensive player, but not a one-sided offensive player? bethlehem shoals, at the freedarko blog, wrote something about this some time ago, if i'm not mistaken, but i can't find it now, and don't remember it well enough to know for sure whether i'm just repeating less eloquently his argument. but i think it has to do with morality. i mean morality in the sense of holier-than-thou moralizing, and of a particularly American variety. there's something, i suspect, that strikes people as profligate and incontinent, if not just plain lazy, about a great offensive player who never works on his defense. a defensive player who never works on his offensive game, is a "hustler," a "tireless worker," "gritty", etc.. an offensive player who never works on his defense is selfish, leaving his teammates to play 4 on 5 on the defensive end. but a defensive player who does the same to his teammates on the offensive end is always measured in such a way that his defensive contributions are judged on balance to outweigh his offensive deficiencies. a long time ago, a sociologist named Max Weber wrote a book called "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism" in which he examined the ways in which the puritan work ethic fit perfectly with and fed into the needs of a new nation born on the eve of a rapidly industrializing world. it's something like this that i smell in quotes like the one with which i began. as if being a great offensive player didn't take any practice or any work during games (ask rip if his offensive efficiency has come or comes without effort). and as if being a %%%%ty offensive player isn't just as much of a liability to the team as being a %%%%ty defensive player. if anything, it seems to me that decent team defense can mask defensive liabilities; but it takes a really prodigiously balanced offense to mask the weaknesses of one poor offensive player. but that's debatable and I don't want to stake the validity of my argument here on that aside. and i'm certainly not trying to reverse the judgment: to make it okay for offensive minded player to play no defense. i'm just saying that such players -- whether they be offensive or defensive "specialists" -- help and harm their teams equally, given equal teams around them. the larger point (which I might not have gotten out clearly and still might not with this reformulation) is this: this disparity in judgment about one-sided players is wrong and, I think, part of a sick morality that equates virtue with effort and effort with quality so that anything that looks easy (like a Rip mid-range jumper, or a Stojakovic triple) must be somehow wrong, or must somehow be paid for or compensated with the requisite effort somewhere else (as though they'd stolen something). Meanwhile, the obvious effort that Bowen (or Ben, dare I say it) expends on defense is a self-compensating virtue and so relieves that player of the burden of moral judgment. just had to get that off my chest.