When I am writing a first draft and I am ambivalent about something, I almost always end up reaching for an adverb. “Mostly,” “about,” “or so,” “primarily,” “very,” “extraordinarily,” all those bad boys are just sitting there waiting for me to reach a point in a draft where I am making a point that even I know is a stretch. Reach a point where you’re selling your audience on the idea that Russell Westbrook is bad at basketball? Slip an old fashioned “Tactically” in there and watch arbitrary qualifier you chose give you the confidence in your own intellect you need to move on with your draft.
In editing this blog, I have discovered that this is a universal tic (I almost wrote “fairly” there). Writing is a refined form of communication where you are in control of the content of your work. It’s just your words and the reader’s perception they form as you’re reading and that’s fucking it. The social cues we employ in verbal and physical communication that broadcast your half-knowledges and subtextual doubts end up gunking the piece up, forming a wall between writer and reader that muddies what you’re saying.
Thankfully, when you write, you get to go back and correct your draft. Not only do you get to dismantle your ambivalences for style’s sake, but you also get to cross-check the shit you say and make sure it’s all truthful. What writing loses in the added context verbal communication brings to the table, it gains in precision, the ability to be revised and redrafted until you can say something truthful without needing to employ hedges. “On Writing Well,” and every other non-fiction style guide I have ever read encourages you to purge as many adverbs as you (almost wrote ‘possibly’ here, very clumsy) can from your writing, in service to making a coherent argument.
“Purely.” Having established that the adverb is the bastard boy of communication, I think we can agree that Nash’s use of it here tells us that even he knows that the sentence he’s throwing out there is fucking bullshit.
Over at The Athletic, David Aldridge has written a wonderful piece regarding black assistant’s exasperation over the Nets’ Nash hire. 20 percent of NBA head coaches are black at present, which, for a majority black league is not enough. Aldridge writes about how, for black assistants, the road to the big chair puts them at a profound disadvantage simply because it is extraordinarily difficult for them to make relationships with ownership and management when they’re grinding in a video room or coordinating workouts.
Steve Nash, on the other hand, is a rich guy who cruises in social circles that include other rich guys. He has the relationships and speaks the language. He wants to coach? He can make that happen in a fuckin’ second, just crack the Rolodex open baby. Durant might have requested Nash, but Durant wouldn’t have even KNOWN him if the Warriors hadn’t given him a consultant role for no apparent reason, and Nets ownership actually employs Durant, not the other way around. David Vanterpool, by contrast, just has to keep fucking grinding until someone decides to ring him up.
There are white ex-NBA Players who might stand in ignorance of their privilege, who are so juiced out on their own success that they could NEVER assume that race had anything to do with where they got in their lives. But Nash is simply too smart to smoke that personal delusion. He knows race had something to do with his hiring. You set the puzzle pieces in front of him and he can’t help but fasten them together. But he can’t feasibly sit there in front of a fuckin press scrum and say “Oh, yeah totally, I did NOT deserve this ol’ job for sure. The owners are doing some mondo hiring racism. Give Vanty a fucking chance you guys!” So when he gets asked about it, he employs the coward’s word— the miserable, loathsome adverb.