Archive for November, 2007

In memory of Femi

November 16, 2007

My feelings about Kobe Bryant have softened to the point that I can now understand and enjoy his singular brilliance without particularly liking him, or wanting him to become something that he’s not. And I can certainly enjoy this classic clip:

Damn.

I love the internet

November 16, 2007

Matt sends video of AI and Detroit Pistons star Carmelo Anthony feeling good after a victory:

The guy Don Juan referenced is new to me, but here he is:

I have nothing to add here

November 15, 2007

Jim Caple at ESPN has a weird (in format) mini-essay on the bottom of the index of Page 2. It’s there on the site, but kind of obscured, and I feel that it will probably get lost in the sea of poor content. Or at least it’ll probably be gone tomorrow or whenever they update, so I’m going to ignore any idea of fair use policy and just post the whole thing here:

BROKEN RECORD
The NBA has reprimanded Phil Jackson for a postgame off-color joke that referenced the movie “Brokeback Mountain.'” Jackson apologized for his remark and said the reprimand was justified. And everybody was eager to move on.

Of course, had the NBA wanted to make a more substantive statement about intolerance toward gay people, the league wouldn’t have focused so much on Jackson’s fairly harmless (although crude) joke. Instead, the league could have commented on Seattle SuperSonics and Storm co-owners Aubrey McLendon and Tom Ward bankrolling (with donations totaling $1 million) a political group trying to ban gay marriage. Which action, after all, shows less tolerance of gay people?

Or, if the NBA had wanted to make a stand regarding “Brokeback Mountain,” it could have reprimanded Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller two years ago, when he had the movie pulled from a theater he owned. His metroplex did, however, show “Hostel,'” thereby teaching families the important message that depicting two men in love is morally wrong but showing the torture and mutilation of young women with power tools is wholesome entertainment. (Miller, at least, later told the Salt Lake Tribune that pulling “Brokeback Mountain'” was a mistake.)

This reminds me of when Major League Baseball suspended John Rocker for his bigoted and hateful remarks in 2000. MLB suspended him, but continued to allow Cleveland to market its team with the racist Chief Wahoo logo and Atlanta to hand out foam tomahawks. Criticizing a coach or a player for their words is just so much easier than confronting an owner in power about his more meaningful, and potentially damaging, actions.–Jim Caple

Well said, well said.

The starting point guard of the Detroit Pistons

November 15, 2007

Mr. Flip Murray. What happened to the youth movement?

I’m starting to remember how much I love Chauncey.

Also, I watched the Rocks-Lakes game last night.

Advice: Yao needs to follow the Spurs example and shave. T-Mac’s elbow needs to be okay. Kobe needs to be traded.

This guy needs more attention

November 14, 2007

I don’t have anything important to say here, but I think Bill Simmons’ delayed basketball previews say some really good stuff. His NBA writing is so much substantive than anything else he does. And not just because of the extra insight from the first few games.

That being said, if you’re sick of the media attention focused at Boston sports teams (and if you’re not, you’re either Matt Damon or Mayor Menino), imagine how I feel as a Detroit fan in Beantown. It’s not fun.

Getting back to Kenny

November 14, 2007

Keno’s work in the comment section is 1996 Shawn Kemp. His bedroom antics? Similarly dominant, say the ladies.

Durant is good. It will be interesting to see how he holds up as seattle struggles this season. In that stones game Sunday night blaha mentioned that prior to this current streak he had never lost consecutive games, let alone 7 straight. He seems to be playing well, although he definitely needs to hit the weight room. Looking at him makes you appreciate Lebron even more, who came into the league a year younger looking about 5 years older. Seriously it’s crazy how built he was for an 18 year old. I know I’m probably pissing zach off by talking up Lebron again, but really, the guy is ridiculous.

Agreed, agreed.

It’s definitely not fair or accurate to start making historical comparisons about Bron (mostly because he hasn’t won anything), but I can’t imagine ever seeing another player like him. So big, so strong, so fast, so many skills, such vision. It’s too bad he’s trapped on Cleveland with that roster for the next couple of years.

Regarding Durant, I want to bring up again something Barkley said during Simmons’ podcast: that he had to work so hard carrying really bad Philly teams in the beginning of his career that later—when he actually had the personnel around him to contend—he just wasn’t the same physical player that he was. I really hope that doesn’t happen to KD—especially considering how scrawny his upper body is. I’m not sure he could carry his mom’s groceries into the house.

Also, I wanted to touch on something you mentioned in an earlier reply, that chauncey has seemingly regressed. I have been thinking about it and I agree he seems to be having less of an impact on games than he used to. Last year he was downright bad for stretches of the playoffs. But his regular season numbers don’t seem to bear out the theory that he has declined significantly, at least not from last year. Two years ago (when he finished fifth i believe in the MVP voting) was unquestionably his best season. He averaged 18+ per and 8.6 dimes, and shot a ridiculous percentage from behind the arc. Last year his numbers dipped to around 17 and 7. But the pistons as a whole were less effective than they were two years ago, not just chauncey. It’s early this season but his numbers are pretty similar 17.5 pts 6.7 asst, in a few less minutes per night. He’s averaged pretty much 2 TO’s in each of the last three seasons. Now I’ll be the first to admit that statistics don’t necessarily accurately measure a player’s impact on a game, but they do provide a factual basis for trying to compare differing time periods. As opposed to trying to rely on our memories which are going to sometimes be flawed. I think in this case Chauncey is a bit of a victim of his own success he played so well two years ago (probably a bit above his own head) that we got spoiled. I mean looking back it seems like he basically hit every big shot and never made a mistake in crunch time. But like i said, the entire team was clicking on all cylinders that regular season. They won 64 games that year. I try to think back about how Chauncey’s game is different from then, and I just don’t see it. Maybe some of the big shots he was hitting aren’t going down, he hit a couple in fourth quarter of that chicago game, but also failed to convert down the stretch. But so did sheed and rip.

His strength has never been as a creator. He doesn’t get that much penetration. His main assets are size, which he uses fairly effectively to post up smaller guys, a damn good three point shot, and the ability to protect the ball. His main function is as a distributor to RIP coming off screens or to one of the other guys in the post. Maybe he has lost half a step, and is even less effective than he once was at getting in the paint (that would account for a loss of about 2 assists per from his peak two seasons ago if his current numbers hold out), but I don’t ever really recall a time when chauncey was blowing by people and getting in the paint and either getting to the rim or dishing it off.

I guess I’m not exactly disagreeing with you. When I watch the Pistons I don’t feel like he’s as effective as he once was (at least in my memories) but at the same time I can’t really pinpoint any way that his game has changed. It will be interesting to see what happens in the playoffs because that is where his reputation grew, and he was definitely not good last year. But good players sometimes play bad, even in big spots, it doesn’t always signal the beginning of the end. Let’s hope that’s the case with chauncey, seeing as how we just signed him to that fat extension.

I did talk to Pat a little about this yesterday, and he seemed to agree with you that Chauncey’s game hasn’t changed all that much, but that been able to take over big games recently. I feel like in the NBA you have to have one guy that you always want taking the big shot. Maybe he doesn’t always get it—depending on what the defense does (even Jordan passed to Paxson/ Kerr)—but at least you have some clear lines of demarcation, clearly established roles. Do you think the Chauncey of two years ago would have let Sheed miss twice (though he had a good matchup and was money all game) and let Rip take the last shot? I think he’s lacking confidence (understandable) and I think it’s hurting us in the last minutes of games.

Maybe having help from the bench will let him stay fresher, and bring more to the table in the fourth quarter, and in the second season. Maybe it’d help with his motivation too.

…in the absence of my own commentary I’ll just copy and paste Simmons on here. Lately I haven’t been that blown away by his work (we get it Bill, you think the Patriots are the best team ever) but this excerpt made me laugh.

“Reason No. 12,743 why I love the NBA: Okafor turning down Charlotte’s $55 million extension when he has played in 166 of a possible 266 games over the past three seasons. I’m not one of the best 10 power forwards in the league. I can’t stay on the court, and I don’t have any low-post moves. Guys, the bidding starts at $70 million! The NBA needs to work this saga into its “Where Amazing Happens” campaign: “Where Emeka Okafor Does Nothing For Three Years And Turns Down $55 Million Happens.””

As you mentioned, the NBA is putting together a pretty solid ad campaign and I like the “amazing” ads, but that is so true. The sad thing is they could replace okafor with countless other names. “Where Chris Webber getting paid 15 mil by philly to go play for Detroit happens.” , “Where Anderson Varejao’s agent can convince him he’s the key to Cleveland’s title hopes and holding out is a good idea happens”, “Where two words ‘Theo Ratliff” happens.”

I had already posted a similar thing (see below) from Simmons about Charlie Bell before I saw you had written this.

It’s a little bit insane how much the NBA is dominated by contract talk and contract maneuvering. Regarding the Marbury mess (how quickly that unraveled!—although he did have a pretty wild summer), ESPN Insider’s Chris Sheridan wrote the following:

The common belief is that Marbury’s contract, which pays him $19.2 million this season and a guaranteed $21.1 million next season, makes him untradeable. But there is another way to look at it, and from a certain perspective the thing that makes Marbury so unattractive is the very same factor that makes him attractive — his contract.

Here’s why: If you are the owner or the general manager of a team looking to rebuild, one of the best assets you can have is a contract worth $21.1 million coming off your salary cap in the summer of 2009 when there will be a bumper crop of free agents that could include many of the players from the 2004 draft class who did not agree to contract extensions prior to the Oct. 31 deadline, including Andre Iguodala, Emeka Okafor, Luol Deng and Ben Gordon.

No one has to be told that American professional sports (or any level of American sports really) is a carefree wonderland where it’s all about the game. But the NBA is particularly tied to this kind of economic gymnastics. I wouldn’t trade it for the horrors of Major League Baseball, where there’s basically three tiers of existence: coastal major markets (LA, NYC, Boston), a few moderate contenders (Tigers, Chicago, St. Louis), and a lot of teams that have no chance.

Where’s the balance between total parity and being able to resign your talent? A team like Phoenix (which made a lot of really good deals, and a couple of bad ones) is a victim of its own success, and fighting itself (and mortgaging its future) to stay under the cap. I don’t know what the answer to that is.

He has a point

November 14, 2007

Bill Simmons:

Reason No. 12,350 why I love the NBA: Charlie Bell continuing to hold a grudge that the Bucks waited so long to offer him a fair contract before eventually matching Miami’s $18 million offer. I was a key member of our 28-win team last season. I don’t really have a position, and I don’t do anything all that well … and that’s how you treat me??? What a league. Let’s add that to the “Where Amazing Happens” campaign, as well: “Where Charlie Bell Complaining About An $18 Million Contract Happens.”

Possibility recedes, hairline recedes

November 13, 2007

One of the strangest things for me about being old (23) is that some elite athletes are noticeably younger than me. See Kevin Durant:

The best time to see that Durant is still a kid is before games. At Staples Center this morning he shoots for only 15 minutes, then plants himself on the scorer’s table to check out the peripheral action, specifically the warmup routines of the Clippers’ dance team. It’s not what you think — well, it’s sort of what you think — but Durant gets just as big a kick out of watching the junior team, swaying and bobbing his head to replicate the preteens’ moves. He is already celebrated around Seattle for offering to play video games with any young neighbors who have the temerity to come knocking on his door. “Sometimes they bring him cookies,” says his mother.

KD—an exceedingly wealthy young man, with exceedingly ridiculous talent—lives with his mom. I love love love my mom, but I would rather cheer for the Bulls than live with my mom on a full-time basis again. Read the SI piece.

In defense of my defense of Amir Johnson

November 9, 2007

Kenny brings up the obnoxious truth that my obsession with—and optimism regarding—Amir Johnson is based on very little NBA evidence.

Still, he’s 6’10”, 20 years old, and has incredible athletic ability (not always the Stones’ strongest suit.) A lot of scouts were saying that he’d have been a lottery pick if he came out last year (we got him with one of the last picks in the 2005 draft before they changed the rule about high school guys.) We also locked him up over the summer for three years at a mere four million a year (pocket change!)

Anyway, here’s the meager YouTube highlights that made me purchase his jersey and lets me envision him as the future of the squad:

Where it all began—high school dunk contest:

Lighting up the NBDL:

Extended look at Amir in the NBDL (Shocking news: Los Angeles-raised black guy doesn’t have much to do in Sioux Falls):

In the league:

Hanging out with the guys, spreading holiday cheer:

Hanging out by himself, spreading cheer among the ladies:

Uhhh… so there we have it!

The bench is parked

November 9, 2007

Doug Collins—announcing last night’s Bulls-Stones game—kept bringing up his theory that bench players do better at home games (where they feel more comfortable and can feed off the crowd) while “your starters win you games on the road.”

Though incredibly generalized, this makes some kind of internal sense to me. Has anyone ever seen a statistical breakdown of bench numbers on the road versus at home?