Archive for December 2007

Who Wears Short Shorts? Who Cares?

December 31, 2007

The Celtics beat the Lakers 110-91 last night,  capping a physical 4-0 road-trip for the Green with each game chippier than the last. More importantly, I think I caught a glimpse of Sasha Vujacic’s ballsack.

Last night was thrown further back than any previous promotional night, taking the NBA’s current obsession with dressing players in uniform styles worn by teams with a national fanbase. Not only did the Laker Girls dress in vintage dance team attire. Not only did Phil Jackson regain the ability to walk five steps without crumpling to the floor in excruciating pain. Not only did… The Lakers wore short shorts. That’s where we were going with this.

The game itself was fun to watch. The Celts scored 110 with only 13 coming from the bench. Reserve PG Tony Allen played 42 minutes and scored 16 points before fouling out. Kobe was held to 6-25 from the floor and 0-6 beyond the arc. Andrew Bynum also fouled out with only 8 points and 2 rebounds, forcing L.A. to go to the bench early and often. It wasn’t Magic’s baby hook or Havlicek’s steal but it was worth the time it took to play. Yet every recap I’ve read, the game is glossed over in favor of the shorts. It was like ever article was ghostwritten by Paul Lukas. What a travesty.

But not really. Basketball is a game. In The Breaks of the Game, David Halberstam gives his account of the history of basketball up through the late 70s. In in, he writes:

Television had changed the nature of the audience too, from a tiny handful of passionate fans who went to live games and paid real money, and insisted on real performances, to millions and millions of watchers, loosely connected to the game, who sat in their homes and accepted what a given network offered because it happened at the moment to be somewhat more pleasing (or less displeasing) than what the other networks were showing.

While I can’t account for the passion or even existence of the cro-magnon fan Halberstam describes, it’s clear he saw the evolution, or devolution, of the game in 1981. The obsession with short shorts are an illustration and an aftershock.

We, the writers of Rebuilding Year, care about the game of basketball; we appreciate the precision of a good forward pass.  We’ve also written more about the New York Knicks than any other team this year. They’re a poor collection of players who play an unexciting brand of basketball and often make fundamental mistakes which put them in the hole early only to pout about it during the game. But everything they do off the court- from “You getting in the car or what?” to “Get me out of here. Please get me out of here.” – is fascinating.  And we like to write about what we find fascinating. 

It isn’t fascinating as a basketball fan though; it is fascinating as sniffers of dirty laundry. My interest in international basketball is nil except during international competitions in which NBA players are involved, which foreign players may be drafted and the occasional game of Pin Paul Shirley on the Euroleague Team. Despite the focus on fundamentals and team play, this form of “pure” basketball lacks the style and flash of today’s NBA. I never much cared for George Mikan.

More than any other large domestic sports organization, the NBA sells a product more happening than sport. David Stern, meet Allan Kaprow. The sport itself is the foundation but the dance teams and the t-shirt guns and Derek Fisher wearing hot pants can easily become the focus. For everyone, fans and players alike. The Lakers wore the short shorts, knowing they would make them feel uncomfortable, feeling  “naked” according to Kobe. But they did it because they’re performance artists.

That’s where the conflict comes, the disconnect fans and athletes always seem to have. We’re inclined to complain about players not playing hard or maintaining a commitment to winning (It’s Vin-sanity!) yet our fanhood is just as fickle.In this same game (were the uniform styles reversed and the final scores flipped, it would be known as ShortShortsGate), everyone played physical, Garnett was split open above the eye and Lamar Odom speared Ray Allen to the ground like he was Bill Goldberg.  You only need watch the game to see the majority of players truly invested in the outcome but we’re more interested in short shorts. Right, Chris Broussard?

The worst part of all is how reasonable this all is. Basketball players are business men and be it Damon Jones refusing to come off the bench or Alonzo Mourning throwing in the towel, they’ll always do what they believe is best for them.  As fans, we say we want the best for our team but we really want what’s best for us, the happening with the highest subjective entertainment value. Some of us enjoyed the game while some of us enjoyed the happening and we did so because both were there to enjoy.

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2007

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Miami @ Cleveland – 2:30 PM

Phoenix @ L.A. Lakers – 5:00 PM

Seattle @ Portland – 8:00 PM

And to all a good night.

Do Over

December 21, 2007

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The Miami Heat are formally protesting a recent loss to the Atlanta Hawks and are asking the NBA to replay the game. You can read more about it here

I had no idea this option was available to teams. Is it too late to replay Game 3 of the Spurs-Suns playoff game??

Zo

December 20, 2007

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My cohort beat me to it below but I just wanted to spotlight this video.

It’s all you need to watch to understand Zo as a warrior/poet and how his defensive energy was key to Miami’s 2006 title.

Enjoy retirement Zo – We’ll miss your spirit.

When Sorrows Come

December 20, 2007

They come not as single spies but in battalions.  That’s the way things are operating in Miami this season.

Last night, Alonzo Mourning tore his patellar tendon while trying to defend a Mario West lay-up. His foot slipped as he prepared to jump and ‘Zo did his best Walls of Jericho impression. Really, it was a weird injury. There was no contact. He come down on someones foot or take a bad bang in the post. One minute he was healthy and the next, an ex-NBA player. Life isn’t always like the movies.

The injury was bad enough that the trainers rolled a stretcher on the floor to take Mourning back to the locker room. Zo refused and, with the help of Dwayne Wade and Earl Barron, walked off the court for possibly the last time.

That’s not the way I envisioned myself walking off the court for the last time in my career. I’ve been through so much in my life. If I had to crawl off the court I would have. Nobody was going to push me off on a stretcher off the court. That wasn’t going to happen.

Alonzo is tops in my book. His Charlotte Hornets were the first team I rooted for other than my hometown squad, so much so that I owned a Hornets beanbag chair for a number of years. A member of the history’s All-Defensive Team, Zo’s career has been an open display of his survival skills: averaging 20-10 in his rookie season, his appearance in the 2002 NBA All-Star game after he’d been diagnosed with kidney disease, returning to play with the Nets and working a modern trade-me-but-I-won’t-report-to-where-you-trade-me duke, rejoining Miami and playing behind the only player drafted before him to win a ring. I doubt Alonzo will make it back from the injury but if anyone can, it’s Zo. Survivorman.

“Ben [Wallace] is my boy.”

December 19, 2007

 

In an interesting interview with The Starting Five’s Michael Tillery, Ron-Ron provides evidence for a proposal we made a while back.

As much damage as I’ve–and the media–created, people need to see a different side of me. When people come in contact with me, they leave with a good impression. They get a chance to know me just for who I am. No matter what they do, the media cannot turn New York or my fans against me. They can turn everyone else against me BUT New York knows what I’m all about. They know where I’m from. They know how I grew up. They know what’s in my heart because of all the good things I’ve done here for years. I’ve been doing charity work here since I was a teenager. I do it in my sleep. I’m a caring and giving person. People in New York look past all the other media driven stuff. They see what I’m all about.

Check out the rest of the interview here.

Milwaukee – Cleveland

December 18, 2007

12706_large.jpgRebuilding Year used its media power to secure 10th row seats to last night Cleveland Cavaliers – Milwaukee Bucks tilt and made the following observations.  The following observations were made: 

– Yi looks like he takes the game of basketball seriously.  Even during warm-ups he appeared to be concentrating intensly.  He shook his head and grimaced after a few missed jumpshots during shootaround.   Yi also pays attention during every time-out, which is more then you could say for the rest of the Milwaukee Buck bench.

– Red and Green aren’t flattering colors for Yi.

– At this point Yi’s offensive game looks pretty one-dimensional.  He’s an excellent spot up shooter from 15-18 feet.  He runs the floor hard and fast.   But that’s about it.  He can’t put the ball on the floor or play with his back to the basket and is  an easy guard.   On defense his height forced some players into awkward shots but he wasn’t able to keep his man boxed out.    

– Yi may one day develop a well-rounded game but the comparisons to a young Dirk seem a little far-fetched. 

– Michael Redd is a great player.  He doesn’t force bad shots and plays unselfishly.  Imagine how good he’d be if the Bucks had a guy on the post who occasionally drew a double team. 

– Andy Bogut is horrible.  He can’t box out and got schooled by Zydrunas all game.  The Bucks were more effective with Jake Voskul in at center. 

– Charlie Villanueva seems to be patterning his game after Antoine Walker.  This isn’t a good sign.  

– Mo Williams is a good player but I’m not sure he was worth the money spent on him in the off-season. 

-How does Lenny Harris still have his GM job?  He traded TJ Ford for Vilanueva and passed on Chris Paul and Deron Williams in the draft in order to select Bogut.  What was he thinking?  

– Bogut seems devoid of the athleticism needed to significantly improve your game when you move from the College to the Pro level.     

– Cleveland’s offense is devoid of anything other then Lebron driving and Z posting up or spotting up.   This team desperately needs a point guard if it ever expects to beat the Western Conference Champion. If it’s possible for an over 30 year old center to improve then Z has.  He is more active on the glass then ever and he has really improved his face the basket jump shot. 

– Devin Brown was the most under-rated signing of the past year.  He’s unselfish, plays great defense and meshes well in between Lebron and Boobie Gibson. 

– Whatever happened to the idea of the Cavs hiring an offensive coordinator? 

– Varejao is excellent at what he does.  Every game he grabs key offensive rebounds, draws charges, and finishes fast breaks.  For what he brings to the team on a nightly basis, his contract is very reasonable for Cleveland.  He also tans well.