Archive for November 2007

“Flat-Out Embarrassing”

November 30, 2007

Last night, I was fortunate enough to watch the Boston Celtics decimate the New York Knicks in person. It was one of the weirdest sporting events I’d ever attended. Here are a few quick observations:

– New York has no offensive flow. They were effective in feeding the ball into the post but there was never an attempt to pass from the post by either Curry or Randolph. It was like playing Street Fighter II against the guy who only uses Guile’s Sonic Boom; the Celtics jumped over the blue thing and kicked them in the head every time.

– If Ray Allen keeps driving to the hoop through four guys like he was last night, he’s going to come down on some guy’s foot, roll his ankle and be out for a month. Pierce is a much better slasher and they have guys who can play in the paint. There’s no need for RayRay to drive into brick walls like Curry. I hope Doc is ready to give Gabe Pruitt 15 minutes a game.

– By watching the body language in the huddle, you can tell Isaiah has all the respect of a substitute teacher. Nearly every guy in the huddle had his head covered with a towel starting around the second quarter. I’m not sure I saw Quentin Richardson in the huddle once; he spent most of his time watching the Celtics Dancers.

– The Celtics bench actually sat more than they stood, which is a first this year. Watching Scott Pollard give a casual high five to guys after a quarter said it all. He’s the kind of guy who breaks your hamate with his high fives but he looked like he was shot by an elephant gun at the half. This may have been the best defense the Knicks played all night.

– We heard both “Fire Isaiah!” and “Don’t Fire Zeke!” chants. Surreal.

– Can you believe a 300 lbs rookie named Big Baby was the player of the game in a match-up of two of the NBA’s most storied franchises? DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?

– I had the privilege of sitting in front of the drunkest man in the world. He arrived somewhere around the beginning of the 3rd quarter and proceeded to yell at the top of his lungs for almost an hour. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence. I usually get to sit somewhere near the drunkest man in the world, assuming I’m not bearing the standard that night. What was uncommon was how the drunk guy ran out of things to yell about. He yelled about the quality of the Knicks’ play, the value of Brian Scalabrine shooting the three, the respect we should have for James Posey, etc… Then he went on a four minute rant about George Mikan and then yelled “IIIIIIssssaaaaaiiiiiaaaaahhhhh!!!!!” until the end of the fourth. That’s how bad the game got- the drunks had nothing to yell at.

Roundball Roundtable: Player Most Valuable

November 30, 2007

 

Joining us for this Roundball Roundtable are Joel Witmer of The Disappointment Zone and Bad Larry of Doome.

PC: I watched the Cavs-Pistons last night and was struck by something I thought I knew but didn’t know how much I should’ve known it: the Cavs are garbage without LeBron. When he went to the locker room and came back dressed like Trent Reznor, the rout was already on. This made me wonder if LeBron is truly the most valuable player. If he keeps playing like he’s playing, he will win the award but is he the player who, without him, the team drops the farthest? By this, I don’t mean a borderline team missing the play-offs by one game but the player who’s loss would cost their team the most wins. In your opinion, is LeBron really the most valuable player?

JW: Yes, the answer is LBJ. The margin between him and whoever is #2 isn’t close. Not only is he dominating statistically like few people in the history of the game (Oscar, Micheal) but the Cavs are fairly junk without him. While it’s true that the Cavs have one of the best front courts in the NBA, without James I do not see either Gooden or Ilgauskas being nearly as productive. Gooden, prone to being a space cadet, is kept in line by James.Ilgauskas, too old to carry the weight on offense, would have to do just that without James. Factor in the youth (Gibson, Pavolvic, Brown) and the aging vets (Snow, Marshall) and the albatross (Hughes) and it’s pretty clear that this roster is not in the least bit enviable. You cannot say the same for, say, the Suns (Nash) or the Spurs (Duncan) or the Mavericks (Dirk) or the Rockets (Yao) or the Celtics (KG). Once you work past that tier of players — the guys who tend to put up MVP-type numbers — the next tier of players all find themselves playing on a team with a more even distribution of talent. 

If they go out with a finger injury their teams will suffer but not collapse.The only guy who’s in a situation comparable to LBJ — superstar, gaudy numbers, weak supporting cast — is probably Kobe. But a) he risked completely alienating and harming his team with his temper tantrum, b) his gaudy numbers aren’t even close to LBJ’s gaudy numbers, and c) Lamar Odom. That pushes him down — way down — based on the MVP criterion we’re  discussing here. If anything you can’t cut your team off at the knees and then point out they’d be worse without you. 

I had to pick the guy to finish behind LBJ it would be Chris Paul. He’s having a monster season on a team that would be absolutely lost without him.He’s also doing it in a city where fan support is so weak (and for good reason) and where the specter of moving the franchise is so strong that it’s not difficult to fathom the team completely spiraling out of control unless they had someone like Paul running the show. He’s a stud.

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The First and Likely Last Story We Will Ever Run About Smush Parker

November 29, 2007

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Wasn’t this a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode.    

Take me to the hospital.  I have whipflash from reading the story 

Anticipation, Absence, Alliteration

November 29, 2007

 

Last night, the Boston Celtics played the Cleveland Cavaliers. On the same night,  the Bobcats played the Heat, the Grizzlies played the Nets, the 76ers played the Bucks, the Hawks played the Bulls, the Pacers played the Nuggets and the SuperSonics played the Lakers. Point made – there was a lot of basketball played on the night of November 27th, 2007. But what made this game the better than all these other games?  Was it the star power? Was it their respective records? Was it Moondog? Well, it probably wasn’t Moondog.

Last month, Chuck Klosterman addressed this issue when discussing the three major flaws of the National Basketball Association in a piece for ESPN’s Page 2. In the piece, he writes:

NBA clubs play an 82-game schedule, the games are 48 minutes long and there’s a 24-second shot clock. This means every team will be involved in a minimum of 9,840 possessions over the course of a season (the actual number is more like 25,000). It doesn’t matter how much you like competition or how high your tolerance for repetition is; it’s impossible to expect any activity so vast and so fragmented to be ceaselessly compelling. Even the most rabid hoops fan will find his mind wandering during the second quarter of any random game in February. And there’s no way to fix that. On balance, baseball is both longer and duller than basketball, but baseball has the paradoxical advantage of rewarding the absence of action. Just about everyone believes a 2-0 game is better than a 13-9 game, because each pitch is significant. At Fenway Park, monotony leads to melodrama. That will never be the case at the Staples Center.

Klosterman stops short of exploring why a sport like baseball benefits from the “absence of action” while basketball impales itself on it- anticipation. When David Ortiz swings and misses, dropping to 1-2 in the count, Mariano Rivera doesn’t have the opportunity to capitalize on Big Papi’s mistake by immediately throwing another pitch. Ortiz is afforded the time to step out of the box, grab at his crotch, spit into his hands and step back in the box. Ortiz does this to clear his mind, think through the pitch sequence and regain the rhythm of his swing. He does not do this to build anticipation but the anticipation built up at Fenway is a byproduct of his hand-spitting. It gives fans the time to discuss the last pitch, speculate on the next, chant, “MVP,” grab their own crotch and so on. The fan has the opportunity to reset, to build their own anticipation.

But the same thing could happen in any game. It doesn’t have to be Red Sox-Yankees for that same drama. Why not Reds-Mets? It’s built in to the game. Basketball does not present the same luxury; it makes you take the game as it comes and deal with the process later. That may be why basketball will never hold the national attention the way football or baseball do. You have to be willing to work.

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The Royal We

November 28, 2007

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– Something just feels wrong with Jalen Rose using the “we” to describe last year’s Phoenix Suns team.    I checked with my sources at NBA.com and he in fact did play for the Suns after being bought out by the Knicks.

– I’m not suggesting the Sonics bench Kevin Durant or that the superstar label placed upon him is even in question, but why aren’t people suggesting Durant could learn from the bench like they would when a top-rated rookie quarterback enters the NFL?

– The Western Conference seems to be playing out exactly as we (and most critics) expected.   The only difference between this year and last is the play of Chris Paul, Andre Kirilinko and Grant Hill.   And the play of AK47 and Grant might not really make an impact when it comes to whether their respective teams advancing a round further in the playoffs. 

– So far the Cavs look like the big winners out east.  They’re comfortably at least the third best team out East (We’re not on the Orlando bandwagon just yet) and have given no reason  for General Manager Danny Ferry to panic and sign Varejao to a long term deal or give up young players and cap space to trade for an overpaid Mike Bibby.  The season has unfolded exactly as they had hoped it would so far.

– If I’m Utah GM Kevin O’Connor, I start calling the LA Clippers and see what I need to give up to land Corey Maggette.  The Jazz need a reliable outside shooter in order to solidify their chances of making it out west and might have some young chips (Milsap, Brewer) to make a deal work.   

I’m Ballin’ with the Man in the Mirror

November 28, 2007

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Gerald Wallace returned to the line up last night to deftly lead the Bobcats to a 110-90 blowout at the hands of the Heat. Funny thing is, I didn’t realize he was gone. I watched the Boston-Charlotte game on Saturday and I could have sworn I saw him out there. He was wearing #23 which looked a little weird but that was definitely him. Actually, I also think I saw him wearing a suit on the bench. But he was definitely playing. But also definitely wearing a suit. But he wasn’t playing in a suit… I’m confuzzled.

What? Gerald Wallace was really injured? Then who was that guy who played exactly like him during the Boston game? Jason Richardson? The Bobcats traded for Jason Richardson? Even though they have a player who is exactly like him in Gerald Wallace? And J-Rich is costing them over $11 million this year? Whoa… Weird… Am I high right now?

Stats through 13 games:

Richardson: 16.9 Pts, 2.6 Ast, 5.6 Reb, .413 FG%, 1.21 Stl, .43 Blk

Wallace: 18.5 Pts, 1.8 Ast, 4.8 Reb, .451 FG%, 2 Stl, .77 BLK

Imagine what it’s like for the rest of the ‘Cats in the locker room or during a shoot-around. It has to be like working with the Olsen twins. Maybe Gerald and J-Rich will solve some wild caper together during the off-season.

Worse would be an intra-squad game. How many times do you think RayRay intends to pass the ball to J-Rich and accidentally passes it to G-Wall? 5? 10? 30?  They must have some way to distinguish between the two during scrimmages. Maybe different color headbands or something, similar to how The Undertaker wore purple gloves and Ted DiBiase’s fake Undertaker wore gray gloves; Paul Bearer wouldn’t have known which Undertaker to yell “Ooooohhhhhh Yeeeeessssss!” at otherwise.

Seriously though, are we sure they’re not the same person? I’m going to have to go to a Bobcats game and touch the wound in J-Rich’s side before I believe.

Where Apologies Happen

November 27, 2007

 

I know more about Tonya Harding than the Magna Carta.  This isn’t deliberate. I could devote more time to studying the Magna Carta but I’m not going to automatically find myself quoting it because I heard a public reading of it on NPR. I’m not going to see a bunch of Real Worlders reading it to pass the time; they generally prefer to get hammered, yell at each other and refuse to leave the house, which is how I imagine the last days at the Branch Davidian Compound (another thing I know so little and yet so much about). I know Tonya Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly hired a big fat guy named Shane to whack Nancy Kerrigan in the knee with a “collapsible metal baton” and then she broke a shoelace and cried and she kinda looked like a dog. This all happened in 1994. I was 11.

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