That’s how Lucas Nogueira described himself (as told to me by my online nemesis Blake Murphy). I missed this disclosure in person, but in retrospect I’m glad I didn’t have to hear it directly from the man himself, and look into his eyes as he said it. Bebe, as you know by now, had previously referred to himself, his teammates, and/or anything else that caught his fancy as “high level.”
These ups and downs, man.
In 1971, the Beach Boys released their 17th(!) studio album, Surf’s Up. One of America’s most famous bands of all time had been in something of a downturn in those years. They put out what many consider their best record, Pet Sounds, in 1966 and then watched as subsequent followups did various degrees of worse. Surf’s Up was a modest return. It reached number 29 on the charts — a position the band wouldn’t hit again with original music. (Until a nostalgia-fuelled comeback in 2012, but I’m definitely not counting that.)
Looking back though, Surf’s Up is a weird album. The cover features a dude with a lance slumped over on a horse. There’s a tribute to nostalgic fantasy called “Disney Girls.” One song is from the perspective of a dang tree. And it all winds up to a title track with lyrics — penned by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks — as befuddling as they are poetic. Incidentally, Wilson began to withdraw from the world shortly after the album’s release.
It’s always struck me as particularly poignant (and painful) for the key member of the Beach Boys, America’s good time summer band, to suffer from mental illness and drug dependency — and to lose years, decades, of his life in the process. Wilson is a genius, but he also seemed forever removed from time. He helped create some of the purest musical moments in recent history, but it took him almost 40 years to release what he felt was his crowning achievement.
By every conceivable metric, Wilson and his band operated at a very high level for most of the 1960s. Then times changed, things happened, new lows were found, and it took awhile to get him back on his feet. Fortunately, the music was waiting for Wilson upon his return.
Without all of Wilson’s skeletons in his proverbial closet, we hope Nogueira’s return to some semblance of playing time is not so difficult.
You’re still you, for better or worse, and you’ll be that way until you die.
“Well, you can’t play everybody,” said coach Dwane Casey after Monday’s win over the Mavericks. “If Jak[ob Poeltl] wasn’t playing, everyone would be saying, what’s wrong with Jak? And so it’s one of those things where we can’t play everybody. Right now, Jak is ahead of him, and again, you still have to be ready, he has to stay ready. It’s nothing he’s done wrong, Lucas is still a very valuable player for our team, it’s just there’s only so many guys you can get into play in a normal rotation.”
With much respect to big Jak, I think we’d know damn well why he wasn’t playing. It wouldn’t be because something is “wrong” with Poeltl — it’d be because he is a rookie.
Nogueira got three minutes and 37 seconds of playing time this past week, at the tail end of garbage time in the Raptors’ game against the Mavs. It’s the most floor time Bebe has seen since February 26th (he played nine minutes that night). Nevertheless, Nogueira grabbed two boards and blocked a shot. Make hay while the sun shines, I guess.
Technically speaking, Casey is not wrong. There isn’t enough time to play everybody. We intrinsically understand this, but on the other hand: time is all we really have, even when you consider the tenets of a “normal rotation.” Here’s hoping some more can be scrounged up for our guy.
Level of High Level
We’re sliding into an all-time low here, people. I wish there was a way to sugar coat this, but there isn’t. With Poeltl getting the extra minutes, and the Raps gearing smaller with Serge Ibaka at centre most of the time anyway, Nogueira’s run, such as it was, may be over for the foreseeable future.
High Level Result: 1 out of 10 — Is there a Brian Wilson-esque comeback here where Bebe re-emerges — with his Smile intact — to use his unique skills to help the Raptors win? Have I stretched this comparison as far as it will go?