Friday, April 28, 2006


We decided to do a running blog entry of tonight’s Cavs-Wizards game. Few reasons: Its our favorite series right now, we had nothing else better to do…but basically we just wanted to write glowing things about LeBron James.

A few notes before we get things under way:

- All this crap that LeBron didn’t play well because he got knocked around is just that: crap. The Zards D really didn’t have that much to do with the win: Bron Bron just didn’t play that well. When you are saving balls under your own basket and missing breakaway dunks, you just don’t have you’re A game. He leads the NBA in 3-point plays: you think he can’t handle some contact? Dude’s a freight train. Brenden Heywood is…ah, you know what? He’s a Carolina grad. We’ll lay off.
- Will Bronny still attack the rim? Not because he’s scared of contact, but because the Wiz are laying off him. So maybe the real question is, can the King knock down a few open J’s?
- We know Gilbert and LeBron are going to get theirs. Who else will step up? If Drew Gooden can duplicate his performance from Game 2 coupled with LeBron playing better, it’s a wrap. If the Wizards big three can crack 75, it’s a wrap. If both those things happen…well, that’s a lot of wraps.
- Caron Butler is a dead man for mocking LeBron’s “chalk in the air” routine. A dead man.
- We’re openly cheering for the Cavs.
- We’re slightly buzzed. Just saying.

In the interest of full disclosure: we’re joined by my man Biz; Polly and Caspian (the house ducks) and a full case of Miller Lite. Here we go…

Snapper Jones and Mike Tirico calling the game. Love Tirico, hate Snapper. We’ll call it a draw. His name is Snapper! How bad does your real name have to be to change it to Snapper? Snapper, BJ…ESPN needs to hire some people with more sexual names, we think.

Doris Burke working the sideline. Apparently, Trey Wingo was unavailable.

Ilgauskas opens up the game by drilling a hook shot that started at his knees. I can’t believe that goes in regularly. Nice beard, Z, you look like the Russian guy from Bad Boys II. But everyone one the Cavs has a beard. In fact, like, 85% of the people in the playoffs have a beard. Except Nash, he can’t grow facial hair. Just MVPs. (And I just puked. Nash: back to back MVP. Yea, he’s that good. Puke again)

Down 6-4, Z has shot 3 times, Gooden once, Hughes twice. Maybe LeBron could touch it, yes? By the way, only one of those went in.

Both teams seem pretty upset with the backboard. And the basketball. Those two are colliding a lot. The net is lonely.

Gooden hammers home a tip dunk. If the Wiz don’t keep him off the glass, they are done. Good sign of you’re a Cavs fun (like us).

Gooden just double dribbled. I swear to God. He dribbled, picked it up, shot faked, and then dribbled again. Second graders everywhere said, “Hey, you can’t do that!.”

LeBron scores! Goes coast to coast after a rebound. Good sign, despite the sloppy start.

(Breaking news! Mario Williams signs with the Texans! Good God, the Niners have a chance at Reggie Bush! If the Niners get Bush, and LeBron plays well…and the Tar Heels recruiting class….dear lord, this is too much..don’t mess with me)

Gilbert says “let LeBron get his and we’ll take away everyone else.” Yes. Very smart. Let’s do that.

This is so sloppy. Both teams are missing layups, falling over, throwing the ball away, falling over…is this Cavs-Wiz or Rockers-Mystics (yes, I know these cities WNBA teams. We’ll discuss this later).

Wizards are doubling LeBron off the pick and roll. That conflicts with the whole “let LeBron get his” doesn’t it? By the way, I don’t get the whole “let him get his” theory. Why wouldn’t he score every time then? They aren’t letting him score, are they?

Butler just shot a three from near the top of the key and it hit the backboard – squarely. Wow. Karma, Caron. You have no one to blame but yourself. If you got points for hitting the backboard really hard and avoiding the rim at all costs, the Wiz would be killing the Cavs. As is stands, they’re up six, 17-11.

Commercial break. We are all witnesses. Yes we are.

Flagrant foul on Anderson Varajao. Unreal. The NBA is turning into a bunch of pussies. That’s ridiculous. He bodied them up. This is a contact sport, Commish. Let ‘em play. Neither Artest or Psey should be suspended. They were hard fouls – granted, they had nothing to do with basketball, but whatever – and it’s the playoffs.

Cripes. Arenas drills a pull up three. But LeBron answers, getting to the rim, taking the foul, finishing, but missing the free throw. 22-15, Wiz.

Caron Butler scores again, coast to coast. 26-15. This is no good. 7-8-8 so far for the Big Three. This is no good.

LeBron hammers one out of the time out, blowing by everyone from the top of the key and finishing with two hands. We’ll leave it to Tirico: “Excuse me while I clear my throat.”

End of the quarter: LeBron whips a great pass to Verajao under the rim, who is promptly rejected. Memo to LeBron: he sucks. Quit throwing him the ball, especially under the rim when no one is around him. Bad things happen. Still, Cavs force a quick turnover and Flip Murray’s dunk beats the buzzer. After one – Wiz up 7. 13 combined turnovers. Let’s sharpen things up, eh, ladies?

Good God. Arenas is on fire. LeBron answers again, though. He’s kinda good. Oh, he scored again while I was typing that. I’m a slow typer, but that was fast.

I went to grab a beer – Bizz, what I miss? Oh you’re sleeping? K, just checking.

Every time the Wiz make a big basket, LeBron answers. It’s a layup fest for him. Where is the enforcer Brenden Haywood?

(I have to pee so bad. Can we go to commercial please? Please?!?!)

Haywood flops as Ilgauskas gets an easy bucket. I never say Charles Oakley flop, or any “enforcer” for that matter.

With 6:13 left in the half, Arenas head to the locker room. Yay. Going to check the flop, we think.

Antonio Daniels – knock it off. He’s causing all kinds of problems, getting in the paint, drawing fouls. Two freebies pushes the lead out to eight. Damn you, Antonio.


Bronny misses a three. Shit. Jared Jeffries, three point play. Shit.

James: 16 points. Rest of team: 20. Yea, Kobe has a weak supporting cast.

The Big Three is pissing me off. I hate all of them. Quit shooting, all three of you! The Cavs playing can’t guard their own shadow, though, so that might help.

Mike Brown – get that look of your face. Tell me you have some answers. That look makes me think you don’t. Oh, you’re just relying in LeBron? You have no answers? Just that dumb look? We thought so.

LeBron follows up a Snow miss with a tip dunk, then steals a lazy pass and hammers one at the other end. Still, the Wizznuts are up 10. Make that eight: Varajeo actually made a layup. I don’t know who I hate more, the Wizznuts or LeBron’s supporting cast.

Halftime: Cavs down 8. The Big Three really couldn’t have played any better. Bron needs some help. Anyone. Z? Larry? Drew Gooden? Oh nevermind, Drew is done. Atawn Jamison is “taking it personal” to stop him. So Gooden is done. Fabulous.

Second half is under way. Arenas drills a jumper. Of course he did.

In the interest of full disclosure, these posts are starting to be a lot funnier to me. And that’s not because I am writing funny lines. Yea.

ESPN just showed back to back shots of the Cavs coach and the Wizards coach making the exact same face; they should just run a thought bubble above their heads saying, “What is the best way I can blow this game?” I don’t think either of them is smart. So this game should be up to the players. Somehow, we don’t know who that favors. The Wiz have more good players, but the Cavs have the best.

Somehow, this game is getting boring. Half court set after half court set resulting in bricked midrange jumpers. Lots of fouls. Few offensive rebounds. C’mon fellas, gimme something.

Biz just sneezed in his sleep. That was more exciting than anything in this half.

Caron drills a fadeaway. Kid is having himself a game. Bron answers in the post. Why isn’t he living in there? They aren’t doubling him, and hes about 7 feet from the bucket. I see no downside.

Are you bored reading this? You should be, because I’m bored writing this.

Not anymore! Heywood just airballed a free throw. That’s right. He’s being paid a lot of money to play basketball and he can’t hit the rim from 15 feet away. He should get a bigger suspension than Delmon Young. That’s ridiculous.

Oh what a fucking pass. LeBron just flicked a pass from the 3 point line under the rim to someone who made a layup. It was all wrist, just snap and it was there. I’m still trying to figure out how he got it in there. Heywood didn’t even see it zip over his shoulder; it was like throwing a fade when the DB isn’t quite looking. That’s why he’s LeBron, plain and simple. Damn.

The announcers are making a big deal that LeBron “doesn’t focus on the defender in front of him.” Just the help. Little secret, fellas: that goes for a lot of the players in the NBA. Few people can stop a professional scorer one-on-one. That’s why help D is so crucial in the NBA – the primary defender is usually useless.

Somehow, we’re tied after the third quarter. Fourth, all even…it’s the playoffs, great become good, legends are born, and any other cliché you wanna throw out.

Wiz draw first blood on a sweet baseline drive by Arenas. The reverse finish in traffic…that was tough. But, as always, LeBron answers, drilling a three. But Arenas responds with a two of his own. Shootout!

Arenas scores again – holy hell, he’s tough – and Hughes answers right back with a layup and the foul. Free throw on the way, after the break…good. We’re all tied. Michael Ruffin checks in after Haywood picks up his fifth foul, and not for his offense.

Ga-Damn. Arenas with a 3 point play. I hate him. Bronny hits a three! The back and forth is getting a little “can you top this?” I never saw it, but this is turning into a poor man’s - very poor, mind you – Bird/’Nique.

5:34 left. Cavs down 6 after two Caron Butler free throws. He has 18. I hate him so hard.

Neither team seems particularly interested in stopping the other. I know the playoffs are all about D, but I can’t name a series – certainly not this one – where one team just put the clamps on another team.

No one is even sweating right now. There’s three minutes left in the fourth quarter of a crucial first round playoff game – and no one is sweating.

OK, two minutes left. My concentation is waning. I think I’m drunk. Wiz up four. I hate them. LeBron with another three point play. Everyone else on his team sucks. He does everything. He might as well have the Rockers out there. They don’t guard anyone, they don’t make open shots – they’re freakin worthless. LeBron has them within one.

1:45 left, Wiz ball. Arenas flops on a block call and goes to the line. Makes one of two. If LeBron can pull out a win here, he’s a god. He gets fouled, no call – Wiz ball. Ruffin fouled, but since the refs were trying to make up for screwing LeBron, they don’t call it. Donyell Marshall wake up from his nap, misses a three, and then is fouled when he grabs his own rebound. He knocks down both free throws – game tied at 93, 50.8 seconds left.

Oh no. LeBron is chewing on his nails in the timeout. Could he have picked a worse nervous habit? I’d rather have him smoking Marlboro’s.

Murray steals an entry pass! Cavs balls. 41.8 secs. LeBron goes to town on his fingernails. Even Snapper is mocking him. Hail Mary, full of grace…

LeBron scores…probably a jumpball, but he’s Lebron….Arenas the other way…layup, yes…And one! Makes the freebie…23.4 secs left, Cavs ball, down one. Here we go, Bronny, it’s all you.

Oh my God, I cant breathe….Oh my God…Oh…My…God…LeBron works his way in to the paint, takes the contact, hangs…and banks in an impossible shot…should have got the foul, too…just a ridiculous shot…ga-damn, he’s good. I witnessed that. 5 ticks left.

Arenas inbounds…gets it back…Hughes falls down…(tears begin to form…)…Arenas misses! Game, Cavs!

Everyone bite your nails! Its cool! It makes you hit game winners and shouldn’t be a concern at all!

Final thoughts: the Cavs trailed all game, and somehow won. That means something. LeBron willed them to that win…41 points, record for most points on the road during a playoff debut. This series is going to be a classic. Long live the King.

And I’m drunk, I think. Sorry.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Will the real Bean please stand up?

Kobe has us baffled. The man really is an enigma. If you figure him out, let us know. Does he want to win, or does he want to put up numbers?

Kobe, at least to us, seems hell bent on winning - but winning his way. And there is a difference.

He was at least 50% at fault for breaking up The Shaq-Kobe Dynasty (and probably more than that). If he truly wanted to win, it seems to us, he would have swallowed whatever pride he had and kept the big man around. But that's all over and done with now, and not really worth debating who's at fault, because no one will ever really know - just something to keep in the back of your mind.

After missing the playoffs last year, Kobe absolutely destroyed himself this season trying to get his team into the playoffs. He shot and shot - it was borderline comical, borderline insane, borderline genius. His motives were questioned as not entirely pure - does he really want to win, or does he just want gaudy numbers? The 81-point explosion seemed to convince most that numbers were really what mattered to him, but what few people recall about the game is that the Lakers were trailing before KB8 took over and dropped a double nickel in the second half. Kobe was bashed by anyone outside of L.A. - us included - for shooting too much, for not caring about his teammates, for shooting too much, for putting himself before the team, and for shooting too much. But you know what? He got the Lakers in the playoffs. And with only one other good player on his team, in the West, that's a hell of an accomplishment.

Now come the playoffs, against one of the worst defenses in the NBA. Who wasn't expecting a few 50-point games, maybe even a 60-pointer out of Kobe? Once again, the Mamba does the opposite. He's shooting five less times per game, and averaging 10 less points per game - but the Lakers stole home court from the second-seeded Suns. Say whatever you want about Kobe, but it really has been a masterful performance so far. He's gotten his teammates involved - especially his bigs: Kwame Brown?!?! He's been taking advantage of double teams, finding cutting teammates and trusting them to make open shots. But when its needed, he has asserted himself. The Lakers are so much tougher to defend now because Kobe has options. And they are heading back to the Staples Center with homecourt.

So should he be criticized for this? Well, no; it's working. Our only question: why they hell didn't Bean do this all year long? Why, on the biggest stage imaginable, change tactics? Now, it seems, we're Kobe bashing. "Hey, he's finally doing what you and everyone else said he should, and its working - now lay off." Not so, this is Kobe praising at its highest. Even Kobe's most ardent apologists have to be asking themselves, Why? Did anyone - anyone - expect this? The results, yea, maybe...but how he got the Lakers homecourt advantage? No one thought that would happen.

So what is it Bean? You wanna play the team game, or you want to dominate the ball? Both are fun as hell to watch, and frankly, either way is fine with us. Just let us know, so we can bash you one way or the other, alright?

Oh, and while you're answering our questions, what's the deal with the number change? Yea, you picked 8 for a stupid reason, but something is telling us you have a good one for switching to 24. But if it has anything to do with Nike or shoes or jersey sales, that's it, Bean. You're kinda starting to grow on us, but if you pull a sunt like that, well...that's just unforgiveable.

Oh, and just for fun (by the way, when he hangs on the rim, second coolest thing so far in the playoffs, behind Bron Bron throwing the chalk in the air):

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Bulls upset? Closer than you think...

How good is Kirk Hinrich?

Hinrich is absolutely killing the Heat right now. His stat line is impressive enough - 16, 6 and 3 per - but its how he's been doing it that's got the Bulls on a roll right now.

Yea, Gordon has been on fire, and Nocioni is playing well, and Deng has been timely. But without Hinrich, this series isn't even close.

No one can guard him. He's shooting the lights out, he's making all the right decisions on the break, and most importantly, he gets in the lane whenever he wants. And once he's in there, its over. If he's not finishing, then he's finding shooters like its his job (probably because it is), and since Chicago is absolutely stroking the ball right now, that's very good for the Bulls and very, very bad for the Heat.

Plus, he is going right at Dwyane Wade. It's always something to see someone attack a valid superstar like that, and the Dwyane Wade-Kirk Hinrich battle has been an unexpected - and pleasant - surprise. Wade does his best to act like he doesn't care - honestly, has his expression changed yet this series? - but its obvious he does. You can see Wade playing differently against Hinrich, trying to make him understand just who he's dealing with, but Hinrich hasn't given an inch. There was a play where Hinrich drew an offensive foul against Wade, and on the next play, Wade forced a TO from Hinrich and then a foul, and his reaction was just a little too excited to mesh with Wade's icy playoff demeanor. Not that there's anything wrong with it; its just fun to watch.

But besides being fearless, he's tough as hell. When James Posey drilled him like a safety trying to knock a running back out of bounds, he didn't even fall over. What that says about Posey, we don't know, but we do know what it says about Hinrich. Dude's no push over.

While the Sun/Lakers series has everyone's attention as a legit 7/2 upset, the Bulls, we think, have just as good of a chance. The thinking goes that there is no way the Bulls can continue to shoot like this, but why not? They've done it for three games so far, why not a few more? Its easy to shoot when you are wide-freakin-open, and with Hinrich shredding the Heat's D and the Heat closing out on shooters as casually as possible, the Bulls' shooters are wide-freakin-open alot.

The Heat have yet to close out a game in this series, and that debacle at the end of Game Three was pathetic. They looked like a jayvee team. It was petty and immature: not exactly the qualities champions are made of. Meanwhile, the Bulls, led by Hinrich, have been pros throughout. Its not a popular pick, but we're telling you - there is an above average chance that there will be a pair of seven seeds in the second round. Are we ballsy enough to pick the Bulls outright? Well, no...but when they even the series, check back with us.

On a side note, Hinrich's play this series makes it even more ridiculous he wasn't invited to tryout for the US Olympic team. Luke Ridnour over Kirk? That's a joke, right? We know they needed a token white guy, so they threw Ridnour in there. And while Ridnour is a good player, Hinrich is just better. He does everything Ridnour does, plus he's a better scorer. Hinrich isn't token anything. The man is legit. He's emerging as an absolute superstar, and he would thrive in the international game. So do the right thing, Jerry Colangelo. Sign Kirk up for the stars and stripes. He's a better fit than Ridnour.

Game Four, Sunday afternoon. When the series is tied at two games a piece, remember who called it.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Seeing still isn't believing.

Found it!

Here's the video of Delmon Young pulling a...well, the next time someone drills and ump with a bat, we can say he pulled a Delmon Young. The announcer puts it best: "Oh boy. That's a bad move by Delmon Young." Yes, yes it is.

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Delmon Young, ninja.

We'll be the first ones to admit it: we've been slacking lately. You know that little post called "Night Three"? Well, aside from not being very good, it proclaimed that we'd be posting something about the playoffs every night. Every single night? Even we knew that wasn't going to happen.

Damnit. We always do this. We'll set our alarm for 6 a.m. and tell ourselves, "we are definetely getting up to do this paper." And then after the snooze has been hit 17 times and we're late for the class that the paper was due in, we think "well, that was bound to happen." Not getting up to do school work is actually more reliable than setting the alarm.

But something happened that is so insane, so once-in-a-lifetime, so "are you kidding me that really happened?" that we really had no choice. We feel like George Costanza after he eats Kramer's mango: "I'm back, baby!"

Here's what happened: The Tampa Bay Devil Ray's Delmon Young, one of the top prospects in the minors, threw his bat at the umpire after he struck out looking.

Words don't really do this justice; you have to see the video (which, if anyone has, we'd love to have). Young is walking away and he must say something to the ump, because the ump ejects him (doing his best Joey Crawford impression, by the way). Then, a split second after Young walks off camera, his bat comes flying out of nowhere and hits the ump in the shoulder/chest area.

Its really something else. That bat is thrown perfectly. It looks like it was tossed from a machine designed specifically to throw bats, like a tennis ball machine shooting out a tennis ball. The bat spins top over bottom, flawlessly. Young had to have practiced this. There's no other explanation. He's more than a five-tool player. He's a...well, he's a six-tool player. He can run, field, throw, hit for average, hit for power (yes, Biz, the Five Tools have been discovered) and throw bats like a ninja. Apparently, he threw the bat underhand, which is even more incredible, because the bat comes from off camera, and travels the length of the screen (which was, like, 18 inches on our TV) before hitting the ump. Speechless.

Luckily, the ump didn't get hurt, and he stayed in the game. But Young is suspended indefinetely. He's probably looking at a hefty suspension, but if it's more than five games, it's probably a little steep. Roberto Alomar got five games for spitting on an ump on national TV. Considering the ump didn't get hurt, what's worse: getting hit in the chest protector or having someone spit in your face? How degrading is it to be spit on? Personally, we'd rather be hit with the bat, but that's just us. Think about it: when your little brother threw something at you, you'd get ticked. But if he spit in your face? Oh, it was on.

Course, we wouldn't want to get hit with the bat, either.

Over/under on Delmon's suspension: 25 games. Any takers?

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Night Three

We're pretty good at deciding to start something, and then failing miserablely when trying to follow through with it. But that's not going to stop us from trying to post our thoughts, however shallow and fairly obvious, each night of the NBA Playoffs. And there is no better time to start than Night Three. So here we go...

Heat go up 2-0 on Bulls. First things first: How cool are those "White Hot" white out t-shirts the Heat give away at home games? We've touched on this already, but it really is one of the coolest things a pro franchise has done in recent memory (the polar opposite: Clipper fans doing the wave during their beat down of the Nugs. Cringe. Welcome to the playoffs, Clips; let's try to act like we've been here before. Or at the very least, let's not embarrass ourselves). Its like a college atmosphere. Can't say enough about it.

Anyways, the game. Both teams shot just a ridiculous field goal percentage, but the defense wasn't actually that bad. Both teams were getting out and transition and knocking down jumpers. A lot of them. Heinrich in particular was really taking it at Wade, and Wade, although he was trying to look like he really could care less, seemed to get fired up for the challenge. That's gonna be a fun matchup to watch the rest of the way, Kirk playing like he's still pissed Ridnour got his spot trying out for Team USA while Wade looks like he's mildly annoyed he was woken up from a pretty good nap.

Chicago looked a little confused defensively. Are they doubling Shaq or not? It seemed like the same thing the Zards were doing with LeBron: either double a super star or don't; this halfway crap is a suicide mission. You either blitz or you don't; double team or don't. There are pros and cons to both. Just pick one, for God's sake.

The difference between the two teams? Well, besides the Heat having the two best players in the series: With 5 ticks left in the first half, JWill goes coast to coast for a layup, and then with 1 second left, Wade steals the ensuing inbounds pass and absolutely hammers one as time expires. Lead goes from 7 to 11 in under 5 seconds. Good (great?) teams close out halves; not so good teams let them. This makes us think the Bulls really can't win a game, although Miami's habit of nearly blowing 20 point leads is more than a little disconcerting. We're keeping the brooms ready.

Clips go up 2-0 on the Nugs. Break up the Paper Clips! What a beat down. Just a thorough thrashing from beginning to end. Denver couldn't throw it in the ocean, but give credit to the Clipper D; they forced Denver into tough shots or open shots for people who shouldn't be shooting from outside the foul line (that means you, Marcus Camby. And when Earl Boykins shoots 17 times, that's not good, either).

Melo got in foul trouble early, and was just frustrated throughout. He had that little "aww, c'mon man, this is ridiculous" smile on his face the entire game and you knew he was done. Hopefully going home rejuvenates him. Be a shame if this series was lopsided.

The playoffs are all about adjustments, or so we hear...Denver better have some pretty damn good adjustments up its sleeve. Things like "make shots" and "guard someone" are probably getting written on the chalkboard before the game. This series needs to go seven.

But when you look at these games in the big picture, what are they? Appetizers.

Tomorrow night. Game Two. Goosebumps. We will witness for the second time.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Real quick...

Some quick thoughts after each playoff series has gone one game...

Spurs up 1-0 on Kings. Artest is really good at doing and saying exactly the opposite of what he should, isn't he? Makes you wonder, if he is really, really stupid...or, well...he has to be stupid? He cost the Kings any chance in this series.

Phoenix up 1-0 on Lakers. Ah, Kobe? What the hell was that? All season long, in every single game, you jack and jack and jack, regardless of circumstances. Now, in the playoffs, you decide maybe its best to pass and distribute? How confused was everyone on your team? Did you tell them you were gonna do this before the game? We understand that you thought that was the best strategy, that you were trying to take advantage of the Suns defensive strategy...but still, man. C'mon. Ya dance with who brung ya.

Clips up 1-0 on Nugs. This just sets the stage for more Melo-drama...

Mavs up 1-0 on Grizz. Mavs are OK. Yep. Defintely a four-seed. Mhmm.

Pistons up 1-0 on Bucks. Fact that may interest only me: Andrew Bogut is the only rook starting in the playoffs. In three more games, that stat will read: No rookies starting in playoffs.

Heat up 1-0 on Bulls. Two thoughts: 1) How cool was the White Out the Heat orchestrated? The entire stands in all white? Maybe in college, but in the pros? They desereved to win that game. 2) Did Ben Gordon look really small to anyone else? He's listed at 6'3" but...he just looked so small out there. Course, he was torching the Heat, but he just looked like a little pinball.

Pacers up 1-0 on Nets. Vince Carter is so tough. He kept going strong to the rim, over and over, despite repeated beating every time he drove. Wait, what's that? He avoided contact at all costs every single time he drove? Then made whiny faces when he didn't get calls? Oh. And how bout Jermaine O'Neal's left-handed dunk after the drop step? And Krstic...what are you crying about? It may have been ticky-tack, but you grabbed his jersey! Why did you do that? Why would you grab his jersey? We, also, "could not believe."

Cavs up 1-0 on Zards. The future began two days ago....if you weren't aware, you are now.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

We don't care about our own playoff preview.

On paper alone, the NBA playoffs look like they are going to be unreal. Forget matchups for a second (and only a second) and look at just the names in the playoffs: LeBron (for the first time!) Kobe, Nash, D-Wade, Melo, Dirk, Ginobili, The Matrix, The TruWarrior...andit just goes on and on, and on and that Q-Tip song.

You know how in the NCAA Tourney, you fill out your bracket, and then something completely unexpected and enjoyable happens, but you feel kinda guilty rooting for it because it screws up your whole bracket? Well, we will have none of that in the NBA Playoffs. We're just enjoying them: they seem like they have too much potential to be off the charts to really care too much about who we picked (except LeBron. We love LeBron). But that's not gonna stop us from making predictions. Just the opposite. Just understand that we're making them, but that doesn't mean we care about them.

Onto the picks!

Spurs over Kings in 6. The Kings are good, and we think they match up fairly well with the Spurs to steal a game, maybe two. But the Spurs know what they're doing, nothing is going to surprise them or throw them off their game at the last second. they have bigger fish to fry than the Kings, but it should be fun to watch Manu and Artest going at it. Flopper vs. Crazy. Sounds like a good combination to us.

Suns over Lakers in 5. We have officially had enough of the Lakers Are Going To Upset The Suns Because of Kobe Theory. There is a reason the Suns are the 2 seed and the Lakers are the 7 seed: the Suns are good, the Lakers are OK. Phoenix beat the Lakers three times this season and their only loss came when Nash sat out. Bottom line: LA just can't keep up with the Suns. This series fails to live up to the hype.

Nuggets over Clippers in 7. Clips get home court, but no one who tanks a game - for any reason - is winning a playoff series. No one who truly understands winning would allow that to happen. Plus, Melo hits 2 - you know what, screw it: 3! - game winners this series, including a jab left, go right one dribble pullup from the left wing (how ya like that prediction?) to win the series in the final game.

Mavs over Grizzliesin 4. Gasol might be out, and even if he isn't, he needs to have the series of his life to get the Griz even a pair of wins. Is anyone playing better than Dirk right now? Man seems like he's on a mission. Statement series for the Mavs. (I'm sure I could have squeezed a beard joke in, but...we all know he has a beard. Let's move on.)

Pistons over Bucks in 4. Duh.

Heat over Bulls in 5. Ben Gordon gets hot - for a game. Besides that, Wade & Shaq show the 'new guys' how they roll in the playoffs. Miami gets plenty of time to rest before Round 2. Gordon and Dwyane Wade in the same series is fun as hell though. Brief but enjoyable.

Pacers over Nets in 7. My God, who cares? For some reason, this series makes us want to take a nap. Yea, the Nets are fun to watch, but Indiana isn't going to let them fast break all over the place in the playoffs. The half court sets are going to be brutal to watch. We say Jermaine O'Neal wants this badly; we save Vince Carter could really care less. We'll take the superstar who's hungrier, although we still aren't watching. Tell us who won.

Cavs over Wizards in 4. Now this is what we're watching! Bronny in the playoffs, baby! I'm two more sentences away from turning into Dick Vitale, with a capital D! OK, we're done, our apologies...but LeBron in the playoffs? We're officially giddy. And screw Washington, this is a team that had a chance to finish 7th - in the East, for the love of Dick Bevetta - on the last day of the playoffs. That means the Bulls and Pacers were pretty much just as good as them. Please. LeBron proves everyone wrong again as the Cavs sweep the Zards.

Alright, that was fun. Let us know your picks. Now let's get these games started. (And as much fun as this is, we still say, Screw the Conferences!)

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Pull the trigger, Billy (not that one, though)

The "Trade Allen Iverson" rumors are starting to become a summer time tradition, kind of like hearing the ice cream man's music for the first time. Once you hear Philly half-heartedly trying to trade AI, its safe to run through sprinklers, drink lemonade and swim in your neighbor's pool when they aren't home because they won't let you swim there anymore because for some reason they think you ruined their pool the one time you were there, even though you didn't really do that, it was like that when you got there....ah, where were we?

Oh, right - Iverson. Every year now, it seems, the Sixers aren't very good, so Philly claims it wants to ship the face of the franchise out of town. But there are a couple problems with this:

1) He isn't getting any younger. Iverson turns 31 in a couple of months, and with the way he plays - just throwing his body recklessly, almost carelessly into high risk situations - that age is higher than it looks. It makes you wonder how long he can keep that up.

2) His attitude. This is well documented, but showing up late for Fan Appreciation Night seems to be if not the final nail in the coffin, one of the last. Billy King was pissed. If a team is going to take him on, they are going to get an insane amount of hustle, energy at both ends and one of the greatest scorers ever, period. But they also get a borderline headcase. Iverson just plays by different rules, period, and that can be infuriating, but that's just the way he is. That isn't changing now.

3) You have to revolve your entire offense around him. And this seems to be the real hang up. Because if you are already a contender, you have guys who you are running your offense through, and if you bring in AI, its unlikely the two can coexist. There simply aren't enough basketballs for AI and any other top-flight player. And if you are in the building phase, bringing in AI means blowing up the rebuilding process.

So Iverson seems screwed. And he probably is. But we think we found a situation that could work. It isn't exactly ideal, but after looking over the rosters, it seems like the most viable move. Ship The Answer to Orlando. Trade him for Grant Hill, straight up.

Clearly, Philly just needs to start over. They should take whatever they can get for Iverson. And with one of the five-highest payrolls in the NBA, they need to start saving money too. Iverson makes 16 mil and change; Hill makes 15 mil and change, so the money works out. But Hill's contract expires at the end of next season. Getting Iverson's salary of the books should be enough incentive for Billy King to pull the trigger (on the trade, not on the gun that King has pointed at this temple). Plus, as a bonus, what if Hill gets healthy? What if he plays 70 games? When Hill is healthy, he's an All-Star, plus he has a great attitude. So roll the dice, Philly. And if you can find an option better than this, take it.

But why would Orlando make this trade? First of all, it gives them a chance to make a deep playoff run right away. Remember that Philly team lost to the Lakers in the finals? Iverson running around, shooting whenever he wanted - hey, kinda like now - but he had Mutumbo underneath to grab all his misses? Well, Orlando has The Man Child that is Dwight Howard underneath and guess what: he's second in the NBA in both overall and offensive rebounds. Dwight should be salivating at the chance to go get all those boards.

This really has a chance to work in Orlando, we think. They need to get a defensive stopper on the perimeter, and they can be a hell of a team. Having Iverson shifts defensive focus from Howard, who every time we see him, has three defenders just draped all over him. If Darko and Ariza continue to emerge, and they can convince Arroyo that "Orlando" is English for "Puerto Rico" so he plays like he does in the Olympics, and this is an automatic contender in the East. Plus, Iverson would look sweet in the shiny little starts. Do it, Orlando.

This may not be ideal for either team, but its close enough and its the best thing they are going to find. Pull the trigger, fellas.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

What if there were no conferences...

In case you were a fan of the Let's Get Rid of Conferences idea from yesterday, here's what the playoff matchups would be if all the playoffs consisted of what a 16-team bracket. And yes, we are aware that if there were no conferences, schedules would be different. The one thing that surprised us the most: 9 teams from the West got in, 7 from the East. We thought the discrepancy might be a little higher, like, you know, 14 from the West and 2 from the East. Guess we were wrong.

And another reason the NBA's current playoff system was designed next to a jungle gym and probably in crayon: the Nuggets and Kings both had 44 wins. Nuggets are a 3 seed, Kings are the 8 seed. The Nuggets are the worst team in the West's playoffs, and they are a 3 seed. Think about that for a second (but only for a second).

Couple of notes: NJ and Memphis tied for the 7 and 8 seeds with 49 wins apiece. We gave Memphis the 8 seed for no reason other than to see them play the Clippers again, to see if any franchise felt the need to tank a playoff game. Should be fun. Also, Indiana, Chicago and Utah all had 41 wins to earn the last three playoff spots. Our tiebreaker for those three team was win % against eachother. Indiana (14) was 4-2, Chicago (15) was 3-3 and Utah (16) was 1-3. Not exactly the most fool proof tie breaker, but what do you want from us? You got a better idea, let us know.

OK, enough babble. Here's the matchups, bracket style.

(1) Pistons
(16) Jazz

AK 47 can think of no better time to take his wife up one her offer, considers using his one free pass. See's Detroit groupies. AK 47 reconsiders.

Who will advance
Detroit Pistons
Utah Jazz
Free polls from
(8) Grizzles
(9) Clippers

Hey, we can lose playoff games, too! Vin, put the bottle down, you're in!

Who will advance?
Memphis Grizzles
Los Angeles Clippers
Free polls from
(5) Heat
(12) Nuggets

D-Wade vs. Melo in the playoffs. Wipe the drool of our faces (could these match ups be any more perfect?).

Who will advance?
Miami Heat
Denver Nuggets
Free polls from
(4) Suns
(13) Wizards

Probably a low-scoring, defensive affair.

Who will advance?
Phoenix Suns
Washington Bullets
Free polls from
(6) Cavs
(11) Kings

Can Artest lock up LeBron (Good God, these storylines just write themselves).

Who will advance?
Cleveland Cavaliers
Sacramento Kings
Free polls from
(3) Mavericks
(14) Pacers

Except for this one. Pacers are boring. Although Bill Walton said last night that Jason Terry "can single handedly win any single game he is playing in." Swear to God.

Who will advance?
Dallas Mavericks
Indiana Pacers
Free polls from
(7) Nets
(10) Lakers

Rematch of the Finals from a few years back. Both teams were good then, though.

Who will advance?
New Jersey Nets
Los Angeles Lakers
Free polls from
(2) Spurs
(15) Bulls

The next great dynasty knocks off the last great dynasty.

Who will advance?
San Antonio Spurs
Chicago Bulls
Free polls from

Wow, was that fun. So much fun, in fact, that we'll be back with the Elite Eight just in time for the NBA's second round. Until then, enjoy.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

No more divisions!

Yesterday's Clippers/Grizzles fiasco raised a few questions. Should you lose on purpose? Well, probably not. Besides that, though, it made us wonder: what, exactly, is the point of divisions?

We understand why they exist in sports like football and baseball - where each team isn't given the chance to compete against every other team. But in the NBA, every team gets to play eachother, so overall record is a fair indicator of who the best team is. Why can't we just take the best eight records in each conference, seed them according to who has the most wins, and move on?

You know what...we're even willing to throw out conferences in the NBA. Screw the East and the West. Take the 16 best records, regardless of conference or division, and there is your playoffs. The best 16 teams are in, no argument.

You wouldn't have embarrassing scenarios like the Griz/Clips tankfest or the East trying as hard as it can to send four teams to the playoffs with sub-.500 records.

What would change? Well, divisions, we are told, make certain games more competitive, because teams see eachother more often. Rivalries emerge. Grudges fester (and anytime something is festering, that's a good thing.) Except, well...we can't really think of any heated NBA rivalries at the moment. I guess you could call Indiana-Detroit one...but not really. Miami and the Lakers? Eh, not really, ever since Shaq and Kobe kissed and hugged. Honestly, when is the last time two teams got together and you thought to yourself, "Wow, I'd better not miss this one, who knows what could happen!?!?"

Rivalries, in the age of the free agent, exist only when teams meet repeatedly in the playoffs. Players switch teams so often, divisional rivalries just aren't that meaningful. Jonny Damon playing centerfield for the Yanks and Adam Vinatieri kicking game winners for the Colts should tell you all you need to know about the state of rivalries in pro sports. They are meaningful to the fans, but to the players? Not so much.

So let's get the 16 best teams in the playoffs. Give the fans the most competitive games. If the NBA insists on making every round 7 games and having the first round last longer than Hanukkah, the least they could do is have the 16 best teams available to watch, right?

The only confusing thing would be how to handle the All-Star Game, sans conferences. But wait! We have a solution. Continue to have the fans vote for the best players. But now, the two-highest vote getters are the captains. They can now pick their teams from the next 30 highest vote getters. They can even give their teams their own names.

And we will do this live, at half-court, right before the dunk contest. It will be like we are at recess, only we are grown up and on national TV. Seeing Yao Ming mumble through his picks, while Vince Carter imitated revving a motorcycle every time he made his pick might be exciting, we aren't sure. Plus, imagine the rivalries that would create? How pissed would the two guys who don't get picked be?

Who would be against this? No one! Is there anyone even casually interested in basketball that wouldn't be glued to their TV sets for this?

Not only would that single handedly make the All-Star game worth watching, it could intensify rivalries as well. You think Gilbert Arenas hold grudges now, wait til Vince leave him off the All-Star team. Like you wouldn't be cheering for a Washington-NJ playoff series? And if it happened? Could you even imagine the ratings.

Now, where is the guy who convinced David Stern to go to the current playoff format, where being a 6 seed is better than being a 5. We need to get this idea in that guy's head - now - because this needs to happen. It doesn't even matter if the NBA decided to keep its conferences (which it might, hey you never know). The All-Star game was just saved.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Dwyane Wade is better than you at standing up

This has been bugging us for quite some time: Dwyane Wade's Converse commercial. You know the one. "Fall down seven times. Stand up eight."

Now, the commercial is pretty cool - anytime you get to see clips of NBA players in high school, that's kinda neat. And when Dwyane is "knocked over" and laying out of bounds, and gives that camera that little head nod...well, it's so fake even Danny Almonte wasn't buying it (a Danny Almonte reference! what year is it?!?!). But the tag, just doesn't make any sense.

Think about it. If you fall down once, how many times do you have to get up? Once, right? OK, so if you fall down twice, you get up...twice! Good, you're starting to get the hang of things here. Let's see if we can keep the pattern going: three falls...stand up three times! Now let's really get crazy: if you fall down seven times, how many times should I stand up?

Eight. Very good, class.

Even David Beckham could figure this out.

Does this make sense to anyone else? Why do you have to stand up eight times, if you only tripped seven? What if Converse ran an ad saying, "fall down once, stand up twice." They'd get hammered! Are we all really that bad at math? Seven and eight are too high for us?

(And this is coming from someone who has dropped more math classes than a certain college allows. Something isn't right here.)

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Losing is better than winning...when?

So the Clippers lost to the Grizzles last night, and by doing so, improved their chances of advancing in the playoffs. Makes sense.

You've probably been beaten over the head with this, but in case you were living under a rock the last two days, here's why: The NBA rewards the its three division winners in both the Eastern and the Western conferences with the 1, 2 and 3 seeds. So the three best records aren't given seeds 1-3; the three teams that win its respective conferences are. So Dallas went out and won 60-plus games, far and away the second highest total in the Western Conference, but because they finished second in their Division to San Antonio, they were given the 4-seed. Denver was given the 3-seed, despite winning 45/46 games.

Denver as a 3-seed makes the 6-seed much more appealing, because if you are the 6-seed, you are matched up with the 3-seed in the first round. So despite being a 6-seed, you would get to have home court advantage in the first round. If you are a 5-seed - which is better than the 6, mind you - you have to play Dallas on their home court. Seems fair and well thought out.

So in a playoff format that David Stern had to have borrowed from Bud Selig
("Bud...Dave here...yea, hey listen...say you were running my league...what's the one thing you'd change? Playoffs, really? Hmm, alright...I'm gonna trust you with this one...start talkin'.") it's better to be a 6-seed than a 5. You're saying that the NBA front office envisioned no scenario in which this could have happened? For as shrewd as Stern always is...this just leaves us shaking our head. We want to meet the guy who convinced Stern this was a good idea. We think he has a future selling stuff to people.

But the scenario brings up a question that ops up from time to time: Is there ever a scenario where it is better to lose than to win?

A couple scenarios happen every once in a while that makes losing seem the more logical choice than winning: should a team tank its last 10 meaningless games to ensure the No. 1 draft spot? Should the Clips or Grizz try to lose to get that 6-seed? Both of those instances make losing look awfully appealing.

But if your team is willing to go out and intentionally tank games...that's just not good. On any level. You think a team that blows games on purpose going into the playoffs is a good team or has any shot in the playoffs? That's the kind of attitude you want on your team? What kind of coach ever - under any circumstance - encourages losing? That "culture of losing" is incredibly hard to turn around, and if the coach is encouraging it, hell, if anyone in the organization is encouraging it, your team is going to suck - and suck hard - for the foreseeable future. At least as long as that person is there. Losing on purpose undermines anything the coach ever said. It's the easy way out - and players taking the easy way out is worse than it sounds. Much worse. No one taking that path will ever be successful.

And to tank games for a draft pick? Kind of like the way the Cavs tanked it in hopes of getting LeBron? Its arguable that the culture of losing was so firmly embedded there that they might as well start fresh. Which seems reasonable. But if you are going to do that, you had better clear house. Any player or coach who can stand to intentionally blow games has to be gone - every single one. This better be a firesale that makes the Florida Marlins look like the Louvre - just clinging onto every single asset for dear life.

And that player you are losing to get? He had better be a demi-god. An absolute franchise-maker, a no-way-in-hell-is-he-not-an-All-Star-every-year kind of guy. If he walks on water, you are only mildly surprised. "LeBron just skipped acorss the pool? Yea, saw him do that last week, pretty cool, huh?" So drop the Nuke on your team, fine: but you better be getting the Next Coming as a result. Its the only way that works.

And losing games to move from the 15th spot to the 11th? Hope that chair at the Ping Pong Party is comfortable, because you're going to be sitting in it for a while.

That "culture of losing" is so, so, so hard to turn around. Harder than the average fan realizes, we think. Fans have a tendency to look solely at a roster, see the obvious talent, and wonder why they aren't more successful. Well, fans and Isiah Thomas (it is so hard not to use him as a punchline; you have no idea).

Here's a perfect example: When Jim Leyland flipped out the other day, all people heard - analysts and fans alike - was, "we stink, we stink, we stink, I'm outta here!" Don't get us wrong, that's great television, but everyone missed the most important part, and we're paraphrasing here, but it was something along the lines of, "We could have won today and that would have been OK, or we could have lost today and that would have been OK, the guys were just ready to get on the plane to Oakland." That kind of indifference caused Jim Leyland - when's the last time you heard him go on a tirade? - to snap.

The reason is, he knows how hard it is to turn around the culture of losing. And if your team is actively encouraging that at any level? Well, you better enjoy those draft picks, because you're going to be getting a lot of them.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The anti-MVP

Last season's MVP race was the fourth-closest vote in the history of the award (thank you very much, Dan Le Betard) and this season's vote figures to be even closer, with multiple candidates this year rather than the two-man race between Steve Nash and The Daddy a year ago. Nash, Bronny, KB8, D-Wade, Dirk, Mr. Big Shot, many individual performances, you could make a case for a handful of ballers and you'd be hard pressed to find fault with it.

Of all those names, though, one of them leave us shaking our head: Kobe.

Now, don't get us wrong. Bean is far and away the best one-on-one player in the League. In fact, he routinely scores over double and triple teams. We're not sure there's a conceivable defense that can stop him; certainly no one-on-one defender stands a chance. He makes bad shots into good shots and good shots into lay ups. Plus, "specialists" aside, you aren't going to find a better perimeter defender. Seems like the complete package. And he dubbed himself "the black mamba," disregarding the rule that you cannot give yourself a nickname. The message: conventional rules don't apply to Bean.

But the MVP doesn't go to the best individual player; if that were the case, MJ would have won every year and Shaq every year since 23 retired. The ambiguity of "most valuable" is what makes the debate...well, a debate. How the hell do you define "most valuable"? The fact of the matter is, you can't.

But you can define "unvaluable," even if it's not a real word. MVP's are supposed to win games for their team, not lose them. And no other MVP candidate has cost his team more games than Kobe. He's cost the Lake Show game directly and indirectly this year. How? So glad you asked.

First, directly: When Kobe drilled Mike Miller with that elbow, the flagrant foul gave the Grizz a pair of FTs, which they converted. Guess how many the Lakers lost by? It was more than 1 and less than 3. Then, after the game, Kobe inflamed the situation, which contributed to his ensuing 2 game suspension. Brilliant, Kobe. The Lakers lost both games Kobe was suspended. So Kobe retaliates against Miller, "sending a message," in his words, and in the process cost his team 3 games, all of which they probably could have won if he was in the lineup.

Let's take this a step further. Say the Lakers win those three games, which they probably would have, considering they were against the Grizz and the Jazz. That gives them 47 W's through 81 games, with a chance of 48 if they beat the Hornets (34-47) tonight. Those 48 wins would be good enough for the 6 seed in the playoffs, better than the 7 seed they currently hold. Eh, what's one spot, right? Well, the 7 seed earns them the right to play the Suns without homecourt advantage. The 6 seed earns them the right to play Denver, and because the Lakers would have a better record than the Nugs, the Lakers would have home court advantage.

So not only did Kobe cost his team three games for "sending a message," he also likely cost them home court in the first round of the playoffs. Message sent, Bean.

Now, indirectly. And this is arguable, but he probably cost the Lakers multiple championships. Depending on who you believe, Kobe at worst single handedly destroyed the Laker dynasty by running Shaq out of town or at best had such a destructive attitude management decided that was the best way to go. Either way, he was at least 50% responsible for separating the 2 most unstoppable players in basketball.

Kobe was so gung ho on proving he could be successful on his own, he contributed to getting Shaq ran out of Tinseltown. So why should he be rewarded for orchestrating a situation in which he could be successful as an individual at the expense of the team? Why should he be rewarded for sneaking a team into the 7 spot in the playoffs when they should be winning their 5th title? That doesn't sound very valuable, regardless of the definition. A true MVP would have found a way to make that situation work. No one was a bigger dick behind the curtain than Jordan, but nothing like this ever happened to him. Wonder why.

(Disclaimer: Yes, Shaq wasn't perfect. But Kobe apologized to Shaq this year, not vice versa. You only apologize if you did something wrong. Just something to think about.)

So is Kobe the most feared player in basketball? Yes. Was his 81 point outburst the defining individual performance of the season? Yes. A sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer? Yes. But the MVP? Not this year.

Sorry, Bean.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

D League's Slippery Slope

(Editor's note: Every once and a while, when The Sports Guy writes a new column, its prefaced by "this article appears in ESPN the Mag," which is just a bad sign. Those articles just aren't the same as his regular ones. And while you could argue that his articles have been slipping lately and are becoming a little outdated, he's still a fun read, even if he isn't what he once was. Anyways, the point is, when we see "Editors note," our heart drops a little bit. But that's not going to stop us from doing the same thing to you. So, Editors note: This article appears in this week's issue of (our small college newspaper, which will remain nameless for various and sundry reasons). Sorry.)

Sometime last week, the NBA’s Developmental League announced it was lowering its minimum age requirement one year, from 19 down to 18.

The announcement was so seemingly insignificant that I can’t even remember what day it happened on. So some minor basketball league changed an age requirement by a year. So what? I’ve never seen a D league game, and I’m guessing the overwhelming majority of basketball fans haven’t, either. In fact, I would bet my ’92 Dream Team action figures that most basketball fans haven’t even heard of the rule change, and if they did, few cared.

So why is this a big deal? Well, in the immediate future, it really isn’t. But eventually, it could be. It has the potential to completely alter the face of the sport of basketball as we know it (could I be any more dramatic here? I sound like the bad guy in a cheesy movie, revealing my sinister plot for world domination). And no one seems to really care. That’s not good. At least not if you care about basketball.

So who gets affected here? Well, everyone does…but the NCAA is the one with the best chance of getting completely obliterated. If you enjoy college basketball, its officially time to start holding your breath.

The NCAA has to be so ticked off with the NBA. The NBA seems, at least to me, to be the older brother who messes with the younger brother just because he can. First, the NBA institutes its Go to College for At Least a Year Policy, to the absolute delight of the college game. The NCAA was getting all the best players back, at least for a year, which, hey, is better than nothing.

The top prospects had to go to college for at least a year. What were their other options? Go to a prep school and dominate pimply kids with glasses while their peers competed for national championships all while in the national spotlight? Maybe go oversees, collect a decent paycheck and live thousands of miles away from everything he knows - family, friends, culture – just for a year? With the NBA’s new age limit, going to college for a season was the fastest and most viable route to the NBA.

Not anymore. Now that players can play in the D League straight out of high school, the nation’s top prospects can get paid to play, all while living in America and having the undivided attention of NBA scouts while competing against the best talent not in the NBA. Deep breathes.

I mean, if you were a top prospect, why would you even go to college? Live in a dorm, or live in a mansion [if you don’t think an agent isn't going to front these kids money, well…maybe its time you helped Isiah run the Knicks (Parentheses inside parentheses! How fast did Isiah Thomas become a national punch line? Dick Cheney has to be ecstatic.)]? Go to class or go to the club? Have coaches who are bigger (figuratively) than you yell at you every day or have the power to get your coach fired? Maybe the only thing colleges have going for them would be the cute little co-eds over the trashy D League groupies.

Now, this probably won’t happen right away. The point is, college hoops isn’t looking like the Highway to the NBA that it was just about a year ago. All it takes is one enterprising young baller to open the door, and there will be an absolute stampede away from Chapel Hill and towards Roanoke, home of the almighty Dazzle.

And when that happens, the NCAA is done. Without the top talent, the NCAA just isn’t as much fun to watch. This year’s Final Four was a colossal bore, with the only entertainment being the chance Billy Packer would say something so stupid and irritional, even Jim Nance would start yelling at him (Just curious: has anyone watched a basketball game that Billy was announcing and not yelled at the TV? My grandmother? The Pope? Anyone?).

The NCAA was banking hard on the infusion of talent coming in next year. They needed it. But pretty soon, that talent could be in the D League. And it will be even worse than before. Under the old system, maybe the top 10, 15 guys skipped college. But with a readily available pro league as an option, how many top players will skip school? 50? 100? More?

Can you imagine an NCAA Tournament with the top 100 players gone? It would be atrocious. It would be boring. And the most important thing: it would be meaningless. Sure, the NCAA could continue the routine and trot teams out hoping fans would tune in just to see the names on the front of the jersey. But the quality of play would be so eye-poppingly inferior, only the hardest-core fans would keep watching.

All of this is fine for the NBA. This system will probably help them create a more skilled, more talented, deeper and ultimately more fun product to watch. But they are doing it at the expense of the NCAA.

The NCAA may have only one choice: pay its players. And with the NCAA’s well-documented stance on that issue, along with a brain trust that makes MLB’s front office look like a Mensa meeting, I think its safe to say we had better enjoy March Madness while we still have the chance.

The NCAA will “amateur” itself right into oblivion, and March Madness will become a glorified high school tournament. All because of an insignificant rule change in an insignificant league.

Thanks, D League.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Turns out, Tang is the bitch

We were a little concerned for our manhood yesterday after we learned that a 10-year old absolutely smoked us. Course, it was in bowling, but still. A 10-year old shouldn't be able to beat us at anything, except maybe bowls of cereal eaten or action figures collected. But nothing that matters.

Turns out, we came across a 9-year old who makes the little bowler look like the 10-year old that he really is.

Rafita Mirabel, a 9-year old from Mexico, routinely
fights bulls. Let that sink in. A NINE YEAR OLD IS FIGHTING BULLS. I mean, granted, they aren't full grown bulls and he doesn't kill them, but still. The bull is really trying to win. He, like, you know, hit the kid with his horns and stuff. Good God. We already went into our less than accomplished athletic prowess when we were 10; there's nothing to say about this that will make us feel better at all.

Even now, when a squirrel jumps out from behind a bush, we jump back a little (Shh, don't tell anyone that). And if a dog is really losing its mind, we aren't opposed to crossing the street. And this kid is fighting bulls. We really can't express how impressed we are. Wonder if we could beat him up? Bet he would whoop our ass. Man.

At least he makes Tang look like a pretty boy.

But Tang makes us look like pretty boys. We're really having a rough week.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dynasties should win more than one.

The Detroit Pistons had better be careful, or they are going to turn into the USC Trojans.

If you ask the casual fan or even a lot of the hardcore fans what team has been the face of college football over the past three years, the answer will invariably come back USC. And that's probably the right answer. Actually, it is the right answer. But the fact of the matter is, as great as they have been, they have only one National Title to show for it.

(Yes, we know how ridiculous it is to say "only" one. We know how hard it is to win a national title and how great they've been lately. Just go with us for a second.)

"USC dynasty" gets thrown around a lot, which is a shame, because its disrespectful to the term dynasty. Jordan's Bulls, Brady's Patriots - those are dynasties, at least the most current examples. Titles are all that matter when you are talking dynasties. USC had a hell of a run - and, hey, they could still become a dynasty - but they aren't one now.

So where do the Pistons come in? Well, they are arguably the face of the NBA over the last three years. After they upset the Lakers, they had dynasty written all over them. They had an approach that would revolutionize the NBA (5 studs, no The Man's) and had all their key guys locked up. But the next year, they missed a chance to go back-to-back.

Now this season, they have as good a chance as ever to win 2 titles in 3 years. They look like they have their conference sewn up - they are the overwhelming favorite to win the East, especially with home court advantage throughout.

But what happens in the Finals? If they take home trophy number two, then let the dynasty start talk. But if they come up short again, what are they? A really, really good team? Half of the Buffalo Bills? Or the USC Trojans of the L?

And what does this say about their philosophy? We love watching them play, and clearly they are successful as nearly anyone, and not only do they play "right" but they are fun to watch, too. But can it get you all the way? Did they get "lucky" running into a dysfunctional Lakers team for their title? This year's final should make all that a little clearer (more clear? Help us, please).

The strange thing is, we really should be having this conversation about the Spurs. A championship this year makes 3 in 4 years - not too shabby. Maybe we don't talk about them because they are boring as all hell, with Mr. Exciting as a Nap Tim Duncan as the face of the team. Plus, no one on the team speaks the same language, so they aren't exactly media darlings. (With the notable exception of the Manu/Parker commercial a few years back where they were describing the affection for The Trophy to Dr. J - "Manu?" "Tony?" Always good for a giggle.)

This years playoffs has a chance to be The Year of the Birth of a Dynasty. Or someone else could win it all, and the whole point is moot. Either way, the Pistons have a chance to go down with the Bad Boys from the early 90s or the Pretty Boys from SoCal of the early '00s.

Speaking of the Pistons, here's a link to one of the best NBA pieces in recent memory. Usually those fluff pieces are so stiff, they make Tim Duncan look like TO. But ABC actually had some fun with this one, and it showed. Good times, via Need4Sheed: The Mask.

(You know what? We're not even sure what the point of this was. But we are sleepy now.)

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