Peanut Butter, Invisibility, and Kindness: A Beginner’s Guide to Defining Otto Porter
On May 23, 2013, a DraftExpress profile of Otto Porter Jr. was posted. It had this (among other things) to say:
“Porter appears to be one of the more safe picks in this year’s draft, as there’s little doubt that he has what it takes to be a very good NBA role-player with his excellent combination of size, length, smarts, competitiveness, perimeter shooting ability and defensive prowess, in addition to his strong intangibles.”
Ah yes, the strong intangibles. But what is “intangible”?
In the early-17th century, Frenchmen began to use the word, derived from Medieval Latin, derived from pre-Medieval Latin, derived from beards and scrolls (MY GOD. A Wizards clue, this article was prophesied! Call Elias Koteas!), derived from trees, derived from agriculture, derived from anti-nomadic societal paradigm shifts, derived from language, derived from cave drawings, derived from woolly mammoths.
Simply put, intangibles are “unable to be touched or grasped; not having physical presence.”
The Big East Player of the year in 2012-13, Porter, who played a type of point-forward and ran complex offensive sets with confidence, paced the Hoyas to an easy Big East tournament win over Cincinnati with 18 points, but ultimately turned the ball over on the final possession of OT in the semifinal game against Syracuse and Georgetown lost, 55-58. In the first round of the NCAA tournament, Porter’s No. 2 seed Hoyas showed up to the game against No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast, but disappeared soon after when none of the regular season brilliance carried over, and Otto (5-for-17 with 14 points and 11 rebounds) didn’t play again until the Las Vegas Summer League.
The Wizards have seen Otto Porter’s size, they may have seen his smarts (via fan fiction daydream bus ride QuizUp! matches with Garrett Temple), but it’s hard to imagine that they’ve seen his competitiveness, perimeter shooting ability, or defensive prowess on an NBA level. Washington is left, then, with intangibles. And when one is left with intangibles, one is left with what feels like, but may not actually be, nothing.
To populate the brain with thoughts of Otto, and in so doing, make him more real (like Santa Claus or D&D deities), you are hereby invited read the following definitions of “Just” Otto Porter, soldered together by hope, peanut butter, and the absurd.
“Otto Porter” : Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
Otto Porter lies somewhere between cactus and peanut butter.
No AAU ball, never been on a plane out of Missouri before he visited Georgetown, and then at the University, a very structured system. Otto grew as a Hoya from year one to year two, and now looks like he could have used year three, if not four. Present day reality: the NBA is a cold, harsh world. It is a prickly cactus.
Perhaps bad advice, in hindsight, someone told him to go. They convinced him to go. They implored him to go. They probably called it a great opportunity.
Ironically, Otto, as a rookie, is now the broken-down Yugo. He sputters from spot to spot on the court. His compact disc player that functions by plugging into the Yugo’s cassette player does not work. He only gets AM radio. And he’s driving over cactuses; they rip at the undercarriage of a rusty-bottomed automobile.
More time. He needs more time. That’s what they scream that he needs. And they are right. Otto needs more time. A lot more time. Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker, like John Wall, are in year four. Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton are in year three. For instances.
So more time Otto will get. Chances. Patience. And pre-planned befuddlement. What is Otto Porter’s game? Slender, man.
If he averaged close to the same amount of minutes that John Wall averages (36.9), Otto would score 6.4 points, dish out 1.6 assists (to 1.2 turnovers), grab 5.9 rebounds, and swipe 1.0 steals per game. Cleveland’s Anthony Bennett, No. 1 overall pick, would average 9.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 2.8 turnovers, and 1.2 steals. The company you keep.
Otto Porter is friendly. He is a ghost. How many inane comparisons to Caspers of all ilk are we going to make? Oh yea, peanut butter.
His potential is peanut butter. Not crunchy, or maybe crunchy now, but eventually smooth. If Porter gets stronger, gets coordinated, and finds confidence in being an NBA renaissance man, he could be like Billy Dee Williams on the basketball court. Now that’s smooth.
“Otto Porter” : Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)
His game defies description. Therefore it defies criticism. Therefore it is without criticism. Therefore it is perfect.
Therefore Otto will always be, yet will never be. As we grasp for understanding, his game flows along through time unimpeded by materiality.
He is the Thursday you wish you could throw back to but which you can no longer remember.
He is one of many prophets in the wormhole. He is the wormhole. He is that which passes through and that which is passed through. He misconceives of time and yet he is time’s avatar. He makes his present where he is. He does not dwell on whether it has happened, or will happen, or is happening. He is pleased to be. He exists, and yet he cannot be touched. He cannot be seen. He exists to be unseen. He flourishes in his ethereality. His smile spans an age, but even as you see it, you know it has not happened.
His game is safe. His person is safe. He is safe because he does not disturb the balance, he does not cause the unseen ripples which may govern a death, or a birth. He is safe in the way that you are safe if you have been in a bomb shelter since December 31st, 1999, with 10,000 containers each of baked beans, diced tomatoes, beef jerky, and 10,000 bottles of Poland Spring water.
Otto Porter is the Wednesday between two Coachella weekends. He is not the one who knocks. He is the one who does not knock. He is the silence before the one who knocks knocks. He is the answer to the riddle of the tree that no one heard falling. Otto is the unseen hand that didn’t make the final cut of “The Stand” alongside the seen hand which detonated the nuclear device and in so detonating became a metaphor for God’s will manifested in the legion actions of the collective will of good folks. Otto is good folks.
If you have seen him on the court then all you have seen is the ghost of a moment, an astral projection briefly twinned and substantiated in the world of flesh, bones, and slender men. He is the Tupac hologram, the Jedi projected from the movie set prop, he is the first word Ashlee Simpson lip synced. When Otto speaks his words disappear into the atmosphere like so many business cards of the obsequious networkers that plague D.C.’s nightlife. Otto Porter greets a city with a selfie that seems uninspired but in actuality plays on the evolutionary spark, fooling your brain into thinking it is nothing but tall grass and fallen leaves. He does not pick his photoshoot clothes. Rather, he asks for nothing, but holds out his hands like the ascetics of ages past, accepting photoshoot clothes but understanding that it does not matter what he wears, or doesn’t wear, as long as he attains metaphysical health. His shoulders are the arms of the throne on which the robes sag.
Otto Porter’s favorite healthy dish is tilapia fish.
“Otto Porter” : John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)
I’d seen him play live twice before
Near his university.
Both times the Thin Man won,
I say: Invisibility!
“Unfailingly polite, if a slightly boring quote,”
Scribbled scribe Dana O’Neil.
A few months later Otto’s named
Big East Player of the Year.
Otto is who I thought he was
Not who I’d hoped he’d be,
When the Wiz of Washington
Picked him first at number 3.
Slow but kind, with a monotone style
Yet none of the mass appeal.
He was the safest pick, they said.
He lacks an NBA feel.
And so we play the waiting game
While Otto learns his trade.
Will he make fire or will he fade
Cursed by Les Boulez?
“Otto Porter” : Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis)
Life is complex so Otto keeps it simple. Home to gym, gym to home. No time for ventures or adventures to unknown places like Dupont Circle or U Street. Late-night eating spots are too foreign, too smoky for this young Missouri boy to have a half smoke. His reflection is a confused tourist clogging up the escalator by standing on the left side, rather than a budding star in his adopted hometown of Washington, D.C.
Movie theaters are his safe zone and he has opinions on the Oscars, definitely.
It’s hard to blame Otto for travel trepidation after seeing what happened to the snowy owl once it wandered outside its natural habitat. People gawked in wonderment at its mere presence—before it was hit by a Metro bus. I doubt we will see Otto exploring H Street on a streetcar any time soon.
Otto Porter is not a bust because busts are made for Halls of Fame. Otto is a lion cub trying to become lottery luck in this big, scary NBA world. A young Simba—his description, not mine. In the “Lion King,” when Simba gets cast away by his evil Uncle Scar, he made friends that showed the wounded boy-cub a new way to look at his unfortunate circumstance: Hakuna Matata.
Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase /
Hakuna Matata, ain’t no passing craze /
It means no worries for the rest of your days (yeah, sing it, kid) /
It’s our problem-free philosophy, Hakuna Matata
Simba got stronger and came back to conquer his past in order to rule the kingdom.
With Otto, we wait. We wait for Otto to do the same, to find his way to the crown. Or to simply find a kingdom to be a part of. Life is a circle. We are all connected. Who is Otto Porter? He is all of us.