Thursday, June 29, 2006

NBA Draft Round Up. Yee Haw!

A few things that jump out after watching the most "volatile" (thank you, Dan Patrick) draft in recent memory...

  • Bargnani at No. 1. Yawn. He'll be OK. Morrison will be better. And just to clarify, Kilcs was the one complaining about no one being able to pronounce Bargnani's name. So now you know.
  • The Blazers....sheesh. Tired, fellas? They actually ended up doing well for themselves, but they took a really, ah...circuitious route to get there, didn't they? Did you ever see the episode of 90210 where David gets hooked on speed and he's just freaking out, running around the apartment with the music on blast, sweepering and rearranging furniuture...well, that was the Blazers this draft. The apartment looks nicer, but it sure took alot of energy to get that way.
  • Chicago...John Paxson is turning into a young Jerry West. He completely tricked the Blazers. He got his man and took the Blazers for a little ride too. And remember how I said they should gamble on Gay, since it didn't really matter who they took anyways? Well, same deal with Ty Thomas. Maybe he pans out, maybe he doesn't, but it doesn't matter. Smart move.
  • The Hawks kept their promise to Sheeeeeldon. Aaaaaaaaawwwweeee. How cute <3>
  • You know how Jerry West is the greatest GM ever? And its not even really close? Well, he got so good teams wouldn't even trade with him, because if The Logo (Greatest nickname ever, by the way. It will never, ever, ever be topped. It's impossible) wanted him, clearly he was the better player. So I think West made some dumb moves and laid low for the last couple of years, suckering everyone in, making them think he's lost his touch, then...Gay for Battier. Striaght up. Completely tricked the Rockets. Like an older brother talking his little brother into the bottom bunk. Who trades top for bottom, straight up? The Rockets, that's who. All hail The Logo.
  • Redick at 11....huh? He's really the best fit there Orlando? Who the hell is going to get him his looks? Orlando needed someone to create their own shot; not a specialist who won't even start. Dumb move.
  • Steal of the night: Quincy Douby at 19 to the Kings. Look out for Sacramento next year. I'm telling you.
  • Alright, the Knicks drafted Renaldo Balkman. Averaged less than 10 points per game. Took him at number 20. Now, before everyone piles on, this actually had some thought behind it, I think. The Knicks have more gunners than the Marines, so drafting another scorer wasn't the answer with that roster. Marcus Williams looked appealing, but he creates buckets for big guys to finish and looks for shoots to knock down. Starbury and Francis and Rose and Robinson are neither. Balkman will be an selfless energy guy who gives you whatever you need on the defensive end and hopefully on the glass. But the point don't take him at 20. You could have gotten him at 29. Or you know more than likely could have gotten him as a free agent after the draft. Draft some other pieces at 20 and 29 and trade them for future picks or something. So Marcus Williams is the better player, but not for that roster. The Knicks got a good guy, they just got him too soon. Which is about right.
  • The LeBrons got some help. Which is nice. Shannon Brown should be tough and Daniel Gibson...oh my god, someone who can shoot and drive! Does this really mean no more of Eric Snow and his huge, expressionless head? Please? Pretty Please?
  • Congrats to the Lakers for drafting Mr. Tumnus. Long live Aslan!
As for the announcuing crew...Dan Patrick was solid, and his little banter with Stern was entertaining. Bilas was OK, not great, not awful. Greg Anthony thinks he's a lot smarter than he really is and it really gets on my nerves. And Stephen A. Smith, well...what else is there to say? Freakin' joke. Shouldn't have a job.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Point 23's Pretend Draft. Its Worthless.

Here's my mock draft. Few things to keep in mind.

I'm going with who I think the team should take - not who they will take or are likely to take. And once I say that player is drafted, he's off the board. Onto the draft...

1. Toronto.
Bargnani seems to be the guy here, I guess, but I don't really get why they would take him. They got two up-and-comers down low - why take a 7-footer? Why not take a perimeter guy, someone who could play the 2 or 3, then try like hell to sign Mike James? That would be my line of thought anyways - seems like a pretty good young lineup to me. So draft Morrison, and let him kill teams from the outside and run off screens.

And while we're here, can we get a definitive pronunciation on Bargnani? It took us how many years to get Dirk's last name right - and half the people still say it wrong. One more reason not to draft him: he has a girl's first name. I don't think that helps. The Raptors are probably going to take him, but they should draft the 'stache.
The Toronto Raptors select...Adam Morrison.

2. Chicago
This much is clear: no one out there can really help the Bulls right now. They need a polished post guy. Maybe Aldridge is some day, but not right now, I don't think. So if no one is there for immediate help, why not take the guy with the most upside and can ball in the L right now? Take Rudy Gay. If it doesn't work out, so what? What did you lose? You were playing with house money anyways. You got the 16th pick to grab a "solid" guy. Roll the dice, Chicago. At the very least, you get some nice trade bait for when you make your "splash" trade. At the best, you get the best player in the draft. I see no downside.
The Chicago Bulls select...Rudy Gay.

3. Charlotte.

Lock up that backcourt, MJ. Get someone who can ball with my man Raymond Felton. Roy or Foye, who really cares? I'm kind of partial to Foye, but only because of his 'Nova ties (they were fun to watch). But Felton and Foye, thats a tiny backcourt. So take the bigger guy - and allegedly the most complete guard in the draft. No arguments there - Roy is tough and strong around the rim, gotta love that. Man can he finish, he has to be Bill Raftery's favorite player.
The Charlotte Bobcats select...Brandon Roy.

4. Portland
Cripes, now these clowns have the 4th and 7th picks. Who they hell knows what they are gonna do now? But that backcourt is awful - they have Maryland's crappy backcourt from 5 years ago. Best guard available has to be picked now. No questions asked. Snag Foye. Now.
The Portland Trailblazers select...Randy Foye.

5. Atlanta

Oh boy. You know they are dying to draft another 4. Lamarcus Aldridge, c'mon down! Ty Thomas, we want you! I guess they already promised Sheldon Williams they were taking him, which I guess makes sense. (Picking him, not making that promise. And what if they break that promise? What happens? Will Sheldon give them cooties? Are we in fourth grade here?). That said, Sheldon is a traditional back to the basket guy, which they could use. Maybe he could be good, but I'm really doubting it. "The Landlord" got away with murder in college - he committed 12 fouls a game. But you aren't dying for a big guy - you need a PG. Get Marcus Williams. He seems like one of those dudes who can just play. I see him walking by a court in jeans and boots, the guys yell they need a tenth, and he plays as is, and just kills dudes. May not look pretty, but he's just a baller. Take him, Atlanta. Don't take the orc. Trust me.
The Atlanta Hawks select....Marcus Williams.

6. Minnesota.
The T-Wolves need some one to play with KG, because apparently they ain't trading him. But I think he scares the hell outta most players. I mean, carrying around all those tech-nines and hand grenades, why wouldn't he? That said, who in those draft won't wither under his pressure? Ty Thomas or Rodney Carney seem the most likely to be able to ball with the big ticket. I think I'd take Carney - who could (will) be a better Spree, getting out in transition, knocking down 3's - and find a solid PG and try to recreate that season they went to the Western Conf. Finals. Is Carney good enough to take 6th? I don't know, but no one else really is, either.
The Minnesota T-Wolves select...Rodney Carney.

7. Portland (again)
That Telfair trade is really perplexing me. Why would you want two lottery picks in this draft? Bassy was better than any guard in this draft, anyways, but that trade forces them to take a guard. So now its just best player available, right? And clean up that image at the same time? Take Andrea - I think she's the pick here. You got a post player in Randolph, now a guard in Foye...get some one who creates mismatches for defenses, can play in and out...yea, I think that fits. I think.
The Completely Insane Portland Trailblazers select...Andrea Bargnani.

8. Houston

OK, you've got two good players - and that's it. They play center and 2/3. So PG or the 4 is the priority. Aldridge fits here. He won't have to face any double teams, so he'll be able to develop against single coverages in the early goings. Plus, he doesn't need to score as a rook to be effective here - Yao and T-Mac will take most of the shots. He can be an "energy" guy - guard the other team's best player, crash the boards and get putbacks, etc. I like this pick here - a lot.
The Houston Rockets select...LaMarcus Aldridge.

9. Golden State
This team is just a complete dice roll...Baron at the 1, Dunleavy at the 3...yea, maybe that could work...but it could also completely blow up. Either way, I'm seeing them back in the lottery. So why not roll the dice again? Take Ty Thomas - who knows what the hell he's bringing, but at least you know he'll be all over the place. He'll be good on the defensive end and on the glass - and finishes of oops from Baron and collecting J-Rich's misses.
The Golden State Warrios select...Tyrus Thomas.

10. Seattle
You gotta grab O'Bryant here. You're bed is pretty much made with your back court, for better or for worse. Sheldon may be an option inside, but you already have a bruiser/rebounder in Fortson. Get someone back there challenging and changing shots, getting fast breaks opportunities started. Get a threat down low, to free up outside looks for your guards, where they thrive. Your 1, 2 and 3 are the keys here - you are going to win or lose with them. O'Bryant helps here more than anyone else.
The Seattle SuperSonics select...Patrick O'Bryant.

11. Orlando
I think they need a two or a three who can score. I think Ronnie Brewer is that guy. I've only seen him play a couple of times - in March - but he impressed me a lot (and I know my opinion really matters). If you look at what they have - The Man Child that is Dwight Howard, up-and-comer Jameer Nelson, and The Dark Horse that is Darko, a 2/3 type is their best bet. But I mean, you are banking on Jameer being a stud and Darko not being a joke. But that isn't as far from the truth as it seems.
The Orlando Magic select...Ronnie Brewer.

Um...I just read Scoops "mock" (why the hell is it called a mock draft?!?) draft, and he has ORL taking Quincy Douby. Same reasons as me though, but Douby is just better. Which is true, he was killing people in the Big Easy tourny. At least I was on the same page as Scoop, though. So we're going to call it quits at 11, because I was trying to do this without looking at anyone else's mock draft and I just peeked. So I'm done.

Enjoy Dan Patrick, Greg Anthony, Stephen A. Smith and Jay Bilas tonight. Dan will make his smug comments to everyone and ask questions until he gets an answer he wants. Greg Anthony will profess his "love" to at least 8 guys, which will make everyone uncomfortable. Speaking of uncomfortable, that is what Stephen A. specializes in. Here's my theory: when he starts his whole screaming thing and dramatically pronouncing every syllable of every name, everyone becomes incredibly uncomfortable and does a little giggle things just to make up for it. Stephen A. completely misunderstands this as the rest of the room thinking him funny, and then he amps it up to another level, and the process repeats itself. Its just a vicious cycle. At least Jay Bilas will be there to calm everyone down, even if he is a little "smart" some of the time. Such a shame Hubie won't be there. And dear lord, please don't let Stu Scott handle the player interviews. Things will be awkward enough as it is.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

The Debut of Zero. I Know I Will Always Remember Where I Was. You Should, Too.

Since this comment - which form now to eternity will be referred to as "The Greatest Comment Ever," TGCE for short - was too good to be relegated to the comments section, here it is in all its glory. We'll call it the debut of Zero, although he's been around since day one.

Zero now has the privelege (Too strong of a word? Yes) of writing a guest column whenever he sees fit. And if anyone one else wants to write a guest column, just let me know, and we can work it out. We just have to take care of a few logistics first, that's all. In fact, that isn't just a suggestion, that is highly encouraged. Don't be shy, kiddies. I'd really like to get some regular or even once-in-a-while entries on here.

Without further ado, here is Zero's debut effort, which includes multiple laugh out loud moments. Enjoy.

Well, since I can’t get my own column around here I guess I have to take things into my own hands. Some know me as rockchalkin or Who Do You Think, but from know on it will just be zero, actually Zero. Enough about me, let’s pick.

The First Annual Baked Lays Mock Draft
Presented by Grey Goose

1. Toronto Raptors - Well, they need a 1. Too high to take one in my opinion. They need a 2, Roy’s the right pick, but young Colangelo disagrees with me and apparently he knows more about running a franchise than I do. They need a five and unless they feel like drafting someone named Hilton with the first overall pick then I doubt they fill that need. I say trade, as a matter a fact I'll go out on a limb here and say they send this pick to the Charlotte MJ's for the number three pick and Brevin Knight. Charlotte selects G Brandon Roy and puts this line-up on the floor on opening night.

1 - Felton
2 - Roy
3 - G. Wallace
4 - Okafor
5 - Primo Brezec

I say not bad for a young squad in the East and apparently Jordan wants to spend, spend, spend so if they can go out and get say...a more serviceable center (say, Ben Wallace or Prryzbilla, I know I’m reaching here) and some backcourt help (Speedy Claxton). Anyway, enough about a team that will still probably finish last in the Southwest. They’re young, give ‘em two years.

2. Chicago Bulls – This is my favorite pick of the night because its not their pick, it’s the Knickerbockers. I want them to ship this to Minnesota with some of the youngbloods they have been stockpiling and take back KG, but they won’t and McHale probably wouldn’t take them. Now that Roy is gone, they’ll take Aldridge and try to sure up the center position, boring pick. They finish fourth in the East next year and play seven great games with the Wiz.

3. Toronto Raptors – Mike James who? who? who? Mike Jaaaaaaames doesn’t have any plans of staying in America Jr. so that’s why the took Brevin Knight and traded down. Opening Night line-up

1 – Knight
2 – Mo Pete, Flintstones what
3 – Charles V.
4 – Bosh
5 – Rasho

Looks like they need help at the 2, oh wait they could have just taken Roy at one and been done with it and had a nicer young core than Charlotte but nahhhhhhhhh that’s no fun. They take Andrea Bargnani and play him at the five. Who knows, maybe they can be the dumpster version of the Suns. Whatever, another boring pick. You may not think so but I am having fun.

4. Portland Trail Blazers, formerly the Jail Blazers – Adam Morrison, if they don’t there might be a riot. He’s gonna be fine in the NBA, they say he can’t play D, but then again who can. He’s not Larry Bird, but he’s not Trajan Langdon either, yes I hate Duke.

5. Hotlanta Hawks – This is where things get fun. Apparently Billy Knight has promised Sheldon “Ork” Williams to draft him. You know what, he’s right, take another power forward that’s somewhere around 6’8’ because you solved the PG problem you created by not drafting my favorite young player Chris Paul last year.

Side Note: That’s one place that Point 23 and Zero disagree about. He hates CP3, I love. Moving on….

Because I want to be right I say they take Williams, when in reality they should take Randy Foye.

Which of these lineups do you like better?

T. Lue, Johnson, Childress, Harrington, Sheldon

I don’t know why I just typed that it doesn’t even make sense, I just want you to see how absurd it is.

Foye, Johnson, Childress, Harrington, Zaza Pachulia

That backcourt runs things in the East for the next ten years. Whatever Billy Knight, whatever.

6. Kevin Garnett’s team – I am not recognizing them as their real name because they don’t deserve to be recognized by that. They have failed to give KG, who arguably helped reinvent positions 3 – 5 any help except for the year that had Cassell and Spree and took the LakeShow to the limit. They can go two ways here: Foye or Gay. I say Foye and then they trade for K-Mart to give it one last run. Foye is Rookie of the Year, they finish 7th in the west and are swept by the Suns.

7. Boston Celtics – Paul Pierce and Rudy Gay: not enough balls to go around. They draft Marcus Williams and everyone gets new Apple laptops. Sho’ nuff.

8. Houston – Redick gets picked here and becomes boys with Paul Wall and gets a grill. Wall’s next album called DUI’s and Poetry. Houston = complacency. Sounds like a perfect fit for young JJ.

9. Golden State - Tyrus Thomas continues to slip, just for you point23. GS rejoices, grabs Gay with the number 9 pick. He fits in perfectly, actually he doesn’t but know one thought that he would be here at 9. They take him because he’s the best available and trade who ever is playing his position, I think Mike Pietrus for a center. Next.

10. Seattle – Wanted Sheldon, shame they didn’t get him. He would be playing in obscurity up there and I wouldn’t have to see his face ever again. Don’t be surprised to see either Rashard Lewis or Ray Allen moved on draft night or shortly there after. The Sonics are in rebuilding mode, they draft Ced Simmons to play alongside Collison. Ask me if I care.

11. Orlando – Patrick O’Bryant, Dwight Howard is a man and will show him the ropes and serve him some humble pie. I would love to go to the club with Darko, Howard and O’Bryant. It would be interesting to rank the teams that you would like to go to the club with in the NBA, you get three players and $5,000. What team would you have the most fun with. If you don’t do it point23, I will. That’s how bored I am.

12. OC Hornets – Ronnie Brewer.

13. Philly – Rowdy Rodney Carney. Please trade Iverson to the Hawks or the Celtics or the Bulls or Minnesota.

14. Utah - Saer Sene. Chad Ford and Andy Katz are both high on him. Upside, check. Name you can’t pronounce, check. Ladies and gentleman meet this years Desagana Diop. In four years he’ll look great starting at Center for the Heat. From Provo to South Beach, you can’t beat it.

15. OC Hornets – Hilton Armstrong, I like this pick, they are building a nice young team.
16. Bulls – Shannon Brown. They just keep stockpiling more young talent.
17. Pacers – Danny Granger last year. Kyle Lowry this year. Give them a couple years. They’ll be back.
18. Wizards – Thabo Sefolosha. Just another guy to be Gilbert’s man servant.
19. Kings – Sergio “Spanish Chocolate” Rodriguez. Why not. He joins Artest on the crazy train. Nice back up to Bibby.
20. Knicks – HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHHAAHAHAHA. Don’t they have the second pick? No, you sure, you’re positive about this, well then, who? what? Oh, Isiah Thomas HAHAAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

Knicks take Rajon Rondo. They will put out a team of Point Guards next year. Look for them to go after Sam Cassell and Jason Terry in Free agency.

21. Suns – Some Foreign guy. I can’t go wrong here.
22. Nets – Mo Ager. He makes beats and balls.
23. Nets – Pittsnogle. He’ll fit in real well.
24. Grizzlies – Quincy Douby
25. Cavs – Jordan Far-mar. UC – LA. Lebron will be real happy about this.

26. Lakers – Mardy Collins. He fits perfect in the triangle. He won’t say a word when Mamba24 starts jacking again.
27. Suns – Already took a foreign guy. Now they take PJ Tucker. Good back up at the 3. Plus he fits the system because he can just roam.
28. Mavs – Joel Freeland. He’s from England. He’ll be staying there for at least 3 years.
29. Knicks – No HAHA’s this time, I promise. Josh Boone. Good one coach. Hope this helps you toward your one year goal. Me and point23 should run this team.

30. Blazers – Mike Gansey. Reshaping their image. Him, Morrison and Jack are the future.

Well that wraps up my first ever mock draft. I’ll be back in the comments later this week to sum up how teams did and how I did. For now, I’m out. Let me know what you think.


Of course something had to go wrong.

Tyrus Thomas goes at 13 to Philly, which bumps Carney to the Suns at 21. Sorry Memphis fans

(As I throw my TV through a window)
"I knew I should have proofread this."

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Two Random Baseball Thoughts. This Probably Isn't Worth Your Time.

I was just wondering...

Common situation: Runner on second, pitcher trying to hold him. The short stop and the second baseman take turns running back and forth, trying to keep the runner close, since a base hit likely scores him. But then the fielders can be caught out of position. Tricky situation.

So here's my solution: run the center fielder in and pick him off. Play your SS and 2B real far away, so the runner gets all confident, starting inching away, then footing away...bam! Center fielder out of no where. Can you imagine how stunned the runner would be? And the opposing bench would be so caught off guard, I don't even think they could warm him. What would they yell? "Look out! Here come's the center fielder!" Would you believe that if you were on second? I'd spend so much time thinking about, I'd be picked off in a heart beat.

(Also, why do they have to throw to the bag? Why can't they just throw it to the SS kinda far off the base, given that the runner is pretty far off, too? I guess it would give the runner time...I dunno, maybe that's not such a good idea. But that center fielder idea...I'm telling you, that's golden. You gotta save it for a special time, though. Like in Rookie of the Year when they pull the hidden ball trick. You just can't teach timing.)

Thought No. 2. Remember in Little League, if you had runners on the corners, you could steal second by basically walking there because if they threw down to second, the guy on third would easily score? Do they still do that in the majors? Is second base basically just guarenteed with runners on the corners? Just asking.

(Sidenote: The one trick there was when they guy took off for second, whip it to your short stop, who cuts off the throw and then throws home. Sadly, I fell for this. My coach screaming "GOOOO!" probably didn't help, but I was still DOA. I was out by about 15 feet. Pretty embarressing.)

That wasn't a bad way to waste three minutes, was it?

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Top 10 Reasons Why I Hate Mansion Park.

Lots of things are annoying. But not everything is the same amount of annoying. There are Levels of Annoying.

Missing the time you want to set your alarm to by one press of a button is mildly annoying. Wondering when in God's name The Sports Guy is coming out with a new column is pretty annoying. Turning on PTI and seeing someone other than Tony and Mike is really annoying. Watching a game announced by either Paul Maguire or Mike Patrick is gouge-your-eyes-out-with-a-spoon-Houston-style annoying.

But nothing - read this carefully: nothing - is more annoying than playing in the Mansion Park Summer League.


It's the infuriating thing all other infuriating things strive to be like. Think of the most annoying thing you can think of. Really use your imagination. Something just infuriating. Something so stupid and unfair and unexplainable you just want to punch yourself in the temple because of it. Playing in a Mansion game would make that feel like a mud bath at a day spa. With cucumbers on your eyes. (Not that I would know. Ahem.)

There really are a million reasons why playing in this summer league is like the basketball equivalent of Chinese water torture, but somehow I've managed to whittle the list down to a Top Ten. Without further ado...

Reason Number Ten: The Little Things.
Let's see, where to begin? Well for starters, when you leave Mansion, you can't turn left. There's a tree branch on Court Two at Mansion that leads the league in blocks every year (plus if The Tree blocks you, its a turnover...that doesn't seem to fair). The people who run the scoreboard rarely pay attention, but who can blame them, with all that gum to chew, and all those nails to look at, and all those day dreams to get through? That hotline is a joke; if you live 20 minutes away or more, and there's a rain out, well, I hope you like driving. The "fans" who sit in the stands like its a real game and yell at refs and players or cheer loudly, well, I'm sure you have a better way to spend your time. Oh, you don't? This is the highlight of your day? Really? Oh, I'm sorry to hear all means, then, continue humiliating yourself and whoever you are cheering for. Let me step aside. Oh, and they lock the damn door so if you are sitting at Court One, and want to watch a game at Court Two, you have to walk like a block to get there when there is a perfectly functional door that would make that walk non-existant. Makes perfect sense.

Reason Number Nine: The Basketballs.

Mansion hasn't bought a new ball in my lifetime. Maybe that's a small thing, but you know what, though? New basketballs aren't really that minor. New balls every year may seem like a small thing, but its really not. I mean, this is a basketball league. Basketballs are kind of important, no? So would it be too much to ask to pick up a few new balls every summer instead of dusting of the antiques from 1982? We've been playing with the same basketballs for a couple of decades now, and they are balder than my grandpa (and nearly the same age). They aren't even that expensive - look, they're like 20 bucks. Think you could crack open the vault and spring for four of them a summer?

Reason Number Eight: The rest of the facilities.
Just exactly what is Mansion doing with these entrance fees?

The facilities - Mansion or Leopold - haven't been updated or maintained that I've ever been made aware of. Leopold courts are more slanted than the roof on my house. If you shoot from the right corner, the hoop is about 9'5". Shoot from the left, and the hoop is about 10'9". You can literally see the courts slanting by just looking at it; its so blatant even the Mansion refs could notice it. There is no way whoever built this court has two functional eyes; if he did, I think he was wearing only one shoe and his level was broke.

Shooting a free throw out there is like trying to win a prize at a carnival - you are standing on a slant, you have no idea how high the hoop is, the wind is probably gusting around - you might as well get it over with and just move the basket from side to side and give out stuffed elephants every time someone makes one.

The, hey guys? You think you could spring for a can of paint and a stencil? Maybe put a square up there? Or are we good with just a huge, plain white plastic backboard that is bouncier than a ping pong table? OK, you're right, that is asking a little 'bout you just make sure the scoreboard is always functional? Just so we know the score and how much time is left? Is there 0:50 left? Or is that 8:58? Somewhere in between? No, those little light bulbs are too expensive?

OK, just thought I'd ask. You can go back to sucking at everything now.

Reason Number Seven: Skip Dry.
Skip is the owner or the founder or something...I don't know exactly what he is, but he's the guy in charge. And that's not a good thing.

Skip..ah, how to say this...Skip has a bit of a Napoleon complex. Skippy thinks he is running a league for 8 year olds with ADHD, and the only possible solution is to just yell as loud as he can at all times. I've honestly never heard the man talk in what would be considered a normal voice. He has no concept of an "inside voice." Every time he opens his mouth, he is screaming. If someone is two feet away, he's screaming at them. If someone is two courts away, he's screaming at them (by the way, anyone else think it a little, ah...odd that Skip doesn't consider distance a factor when he talks? It really makes no difference to Skip of you are right next to him or at the other end of a football field - same level of loudness; I think he has voice immodulation disease. And why would you even try to talk to someone that far away? Are they gonna shout back like a lunatic? Imagine calling him on a phone?)

But Skippy has no rationale or logic. He yells at players. He yells at coaches. He yells at fans. He stops games to make inane points. He stops games to yell at people sitting in the stands. I don't know the full details, but suffice it to say, he's responsible for kicking out probably the greatest player ever to play at Mansion. He truly and firmly believes he's never been wrong about anything. He truly believes people come to Mansion to watch him ref (he's the director and he refs. Makes sense). He truly believes he is some kind of law, and that people should fear him. His presence makes Mansion unbearable. He's domineering, overbearing and miserable to be around, but on the bright side, he's a belligerent egomaniac, so he has that going for him. I genuinely can't think of a single good thing he brings to the table.

Plus, his attitude filters down and permeates itself through the rest of the employees in the league. Which, needless to say, is not good.

Reason Number Six: The "Non-Resident" Fee.
What a ripoff. In the words of Kramer, the "Non-Resident" Fee is the biggest scam perpetrated on the American public since one-hour martinizing.

Mansion charges every player not a current resident of Altoona an extra five bucks just to play in the league. Like its some grand privilege we'd all gladly pay extra for. Five bucks? Are you sure that's it? Gee, thanks Skip, you're a hell of a guy! Can you explain that to me? Is there a good reason? Some type of insurance thing? Liability? There had better be a damn good explanation as to why someone living in Hollidaysburg has to pay an extra 5 bucks just to play basketball. It just seems like something Mansion would do just to be jerks and annoy the hell out of everyone. I'll bet my non-resident fee Skip is behind this.

(Sidenote: The league's website has this to say: "The non-resident fee is not intended as a penalty, but rather compensation for administering the program." Um...what the hell does that mean? Did that just confuse things further? Isn't the entrance fee "compensation"? What a flippin' joke. Honestly.)

Reason Number Five: The Altoona Mirror.
I understand that during the summer, with schools and colleges out, there isn't a lot of local sports to cover. But still, that's no excuse to cover the Mansion League like it's an actual sporting event. And the way they cover it...well, that's not helping things, either.

Once a week, they run a weekly roundup sort of thing (not to mention putting the champ on the front page of the sports section). So you got morons and jackasses gunning to get their name in the paper, because the Mirror doesn't distinguish between good players (of which there are shockingly few) to people who score a lot of points. Plus, the Mirror runs the scores every morning of the previous nights games. (OK, that I can understand. Run the scores in the agate, so people can check if they want. Fine.) But then they print the high-scorer of each team, too. WHY?!?! Do they have any idea what this does to the league? People jack shots, cry for fouls so they can get to the line, play dirty, take Division III games as serious as Game 7 of the NBA Finals - all to get their name in the paper.

I'm not saying everyone does this, but enough people do it that its annoying and borderline detrimental (and you know who you are). People who still think its high school (except now they are actually playing) play like idiots to get their name in the paper. Not good. Plus - and I have no idea if this is true, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it is - it makes Skip think "his league" is more big time than it really is. Its a lose-lose-lose situation. So Altoona Mirror - just run the scores in the agate from now on. Please. So Skip can at least get his head through the entrance gate.

Reason Number Four: The New Divisions.
In previous years - as long as I can remember, anyways - Mansion has had three divisions. I, II and III. Division I had the 18 best teams, Division II the next best, etc. Simple, straight forward, effective. They actually got something right, but it was only a matter of time before they blew it. It was too good to be true. There was a part of their league they hadn't completely botched. This year, the league accepts 61 teams instead of the usual 54. Instead of just expanding each league by 2 or 3 teams (or even just Divisions II and III), they recreate the whole structure.

Now we're stuck with 4 divisions - North, East, South and West. So now its impossible to tell which league is the best, which is the worst, and the two in-between. It might not be that big of a deal, but every time you have a conversation with someone about Mansion, it invariably goes like this:

Me: "So who you playin' for this summer?"
Them: "Oh, I'm playin' with Team X this summer."
Me: "Oh yea? That's cool...what division is that?"
Them: "West."
Me: "Oh." (Translation: I have no idea if that's good, bad or somewhere in between. The conversation immediately dies a slow, awkward death).
Them: "Mhmm." (Translation: This prick thinks he's better than me. Or you know what? He doesn't even care. What a smug jerk. I'm outta here. Asshole.)

So thanks for that, Mansion. I now have less friends because of your idiotic Directional Divisions. By the way, I would love to have seen Skip trying to come up with that: (Screaming to himself) WELL, I MADE FOUR NEW DIVISIONS. NOW I HAVE TO NAME THEM. LET'S SEE, WHAT COMES IN FOURS?!?!? ONE, TWO, THREE AND FOUR? NO, TOO MUCH LIKE THE LAST 92 YEARS. COLORS? NO, I CAN ONLY SEE RED...AMERICAN AND NATIONAL? DAMN, ONLY TWO...MAYBE WE SHOULD JUST GOT BACK TO THREE DIVISIONS...HONEY!

And since they came up with divisions, you'd think North would be the best (the top), South would be the worst (the bottom) and East and West would be the two in-between divisions. Simple, right? Wrong. They even screwed that up. Unbelievable.

Reason Number Three: We Get Less Games This Year.
The new Directional Divisions screw Divisions out of games. Division I used to get 17 games per summer. By going to four divisions, we now get 15 games per summer. That's special.

And I may be wrong here, but the entrance fee either remained the same or went up. And if it went down, it didn't go down enough to make up for two games getting chopped off the schedule. What a freaking rip-off.

(If anyone knows the actual prices from this summer and last summer, please let me know and I'll update this section. Thank you.)

This makes me so mad I can't even discuss it rationally. Let's just move on.

Reason Number Two: The Players Themselves.
I touched on this earlier, but the players - due to various reasons, most of which are the result of Mansion itself - create an atmosphere that at times - at times - is almost unbearable.

Not all of the players are like this. In fact, the majority aren't. But there are enough players at Mansion who treat the league like its March Madness and they're playing for George Mason. (If you are reading this, and you play at Mansion, and you just asked yourself "Am I one of those guys?" Guess what? You are. Knock it off.) I have no problems with guys playing hard, going all out, playing to win, etc. Heck, that's the point - compete. But there is a line there, especially in a summer league. You don't need to be screaming at players, either your own or on another team. You don't need to talk trash (if someone else starts it, that's different. But if you initiate trash talk in a summer need to rearrage some priorities there, homie). Just play right. Its hard to explain; either you know how to play right or you don't. But just try.

And then there is the yelling at the refs. Now...let me be straight with you. I have just as big a gripe with the officiating out there as the next guy. I'll be first in line at the Mansion Refs Suck booth. But fellas, let's be reasonable. There's a few things to keep in mind before you bust a blood vessel screaming at a moron who probably doesn't understand what you are saying in the first place:

1. You, yourself, must know the rule you are bitching about. Do you really know the over and back rule? Are you sure that's when you can be in the lane on a free throw? Are you positive you didn't reach there? Do you know the over-the-back call? And dear Lord, please, above all else, make sure you know the qualifications for taking a charge.
2. You, yourself, cannot suck. If you do, don't complain about the reffing. Have fun running up and down the court and looking like you have a pair of broken arms when you shoot. And yes, you just double-dribbled.
3. The older you are, the more pathetic you look when you yell at a ref. If you have more hair on your back than on your head, might wanna take a chill pill.
And that's pretty much it. If you know the rules and don't suck, complain all you want. Otherwise, shut your trap, because you're making yourself look like a jackass. Just letting you know.

Reason Number One: The Refs.
Ah yes, here we are. Finally. The Holy Grail of Unexplainable Things That Make You Want to Jump Off Something Very, Very High and Land on Something Very, Very Hard. The refs at Mansion.

Deep breathes. Pressure points. Woo-sah, woo-sah.

This much is inarguable: the refs at Mansion, without exception, suck. Flat-out. Cannot be argued. What is debatable, however, is why they suck.

Some say its because they don't know all the rules. This is a very valid point. If there was a reffing test, I'd wager heavily they would all fail spectacularly. I would imagine a lot of erasing and broken pencils, all while sweating profusely. I've seen rules called both ways within the same game - top of the backboard is in, now it is out, for example. Block/charge, while a difficult call, is like a Rubik's Cube for these guys. You should see their face when they have to decide between a block or a charge - they look like their son just told them he was gay. Uh...oh boy...what do I do now? Geez...this one wasn't in the manual...I think I'll just smile and do nothing. The no-call is their go-to move. Amazingly, these refs are more than adept at getting both benches to explode over the same call. Its really their specialty. I just try to chant this to myself as I play. Most of the refs know a few of the rules, and a few of the refs know most of all the rules. But none know them all, so be patient. Woo-sah. (Sidenote: it doesn't really help.)

Some say its because they are inconsistent. Another terrific point. At one end, a guy could get fouled so hard that blood is drawn - no exaggeration - and there will be no call. Then at the other end, there will be a ticky-tack call where there was minimal contact and sho' 'nuff, there's the whistle. You really have to see it to believe it. I've actually been in games where guys apologized for fouling me when no foul was called, and I've been in games where I've been whistled for fouls and the player says to me, "Man, you didn't even touch me." That's always fun.

Some say its because they are just jerks. Tough to argue with this point as well. While not all fall into this category, most do. I've played organized basketball at several levels, and never once has a ref gone out of his or her way to intentionally antagonize a player. Welcome to Mansion Park. Refs actually trash talk. Refs actually engage in back-and-forth arguments while games are being played. All it takes is a little eye roll or a comment under your breath, and it's on. They can say whatever they want to you, but if you talk back - bam! Technical, and you're out of the game and have to sit out the next one as well (a rule they instituted solely because the refs are so bad, people would literally get technicals every game if the threat of missing a whole game wasn't looming over their heads). They are little extensions of Skippy, which as we all know, is not a good thing.

Some say the players drive them to it. I can see this, too, and it's a shame. The refs do put up with so much bullshit from morons - in every level - that when someone who actually knows what he is talking about tries to have a discussion, the ref loses his mind. Kinda tough to blame them there, but still...they should know the difference.

Some say its because they feel they are bigger than the actual game being played. Again, I concur. Most of the refs genuinely believe that fans come to watch them blow their whistle. They genuinely believe players pay over 400 bucks just so that when they travel, they can hear, "No, NO, NO, NO - that's a travel. We are going this way." (I wish I knew names of these guys, but I've been trying to block them out of my mind for so long, I can't remember them. Man Boobs and the Old Guy are the worst, though)

Personally? I wish they would just admit when they are wrong. They have convinced themselves that they are infallible. If they called it, well, it must be true. Hey, I blew my whistle! You heard it, didn't you? Then it is THE TRUTH. Don't even argue, or I will call the thunder and the lightning from the sky to strike you where you stand. For I have a whistle and a "Ref" t-shirt, and you will obey me, peasant. Listen, we know you aren't perfect. We understand. We want to like you. So just be personable, admit you messed up every once and a while, and we'll be cool. Is that too much to ask?

With all that, why do I play? Well, its the only league in town. If you want to play - and apparently, quite a few do - this is where you have to play. Which is why monopolies are outlawed. Skip knows this and can run the league like a prison warden. So I have to play there. But I don't have to like it.

When I strike it rich, please believe the first (ok, not first, but top ten) thing I'll do is open up a league to compete with Mansion. Mansion will close within 3 summers, maybe 2. Honestly, how hard could it be? Once you have the courts, all you need to do is buy balls every summer and get some decent refs (What're those PIAA guys doing in the summer? Exactly.) And hey, if someone wants to do this before me, buy all means, go right ahead. Just do everything exactly the opposite as Mansion and Skip, and you'll be golden.

Best of luck to you.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

If Ty Thomas Could Dribble, Shoot and/or Pass, He'd be Good. But He Can't, So He Isn't.

Two things are currently driving me nuts: The Lake House and Tyrus Thomas. What do they have in common? Well, they are the protagonists for possibly the two dumbest premises of the summer.

First, The Lake House. This is the Keanu Reeves/Sandra Bullock flick where the two - despite living two years apart and being able to communicate only through a magical mailbox - fall in love and live happily ever after. Ah...why the hell do they only communicate through the mailbox? Why doesn't Keanu just write, " know what? Today's my birthday...I remember I was at TGI Friday's two years ago today...why don't you stop by...I'll be wearing a red sweater and a woodpecker will be drilling into my head, since it's made of wood and all. Why don't you introduce yourself?" Case closed! This movie should be over in 15 minutes. Instead, you get to watch two hours of shoving scarves through a mailbox - "I remember it was chilly today two years ago!" - and planting trees that suddenly grow really tall really fast. Stupidest (movie) premise ever.

An even stupider premise? Ty Thomas could possibly go number one in the NBA Draft.


Do NBA GMs pay attention at all (could I possibly use more italics?). I mean, name an NBA team who currently doesn't have a Ty Thomas on its bench? Does any team really need another 6'8", athletic freak-of-nature who can smack his belly button off the rim but couldn't knock down a jumper to save his life and would need 10 chances to dribble through a row of folding chairs? His most flattering compliment has been, "He's Stromile Swift with an upside." Has there ever been a more blatant back-handed compliment?

Honestly, what discernible skill does he have, sans dunking?

He can't shoot; not even close. During his highlight package after he is selected, it will be all dunks and one (read this closely, and remember it: ONE) jumper - a 15 footer from the right wing/baseline against Duke. You know why it will be that one? Because it was the only shot he made the entire tournament - when his stock exploded - outside of the paint. I'm telling you - watch for it.

He can't dribble. When he got out on the break, he looked ridiculous dribbling the basketball. He looked like a 5-year-old playing Wack-a-Mole at Chuck E. Cheeses - just randomly flailing his arms about, hoping to God he hit something. Being unable to dribble was also unfortunate because once he picked it up, he couldn't pass, either.

He is great at two things - blocking/altering shots and finishing around the rim. Give him credit, around the bucket, at both ends, he's legit. But how the hell is he going to get there in the NBA? Beat someone off the dribble? That's laughable. Plus, no one will even come out to guard him - I'd let him jack 12-foot J's all night. He's going to have to rely on catching lobs and getting offensive rebounds...does that sound like someone who should be the first pick in the draft? No, it sounds like a role player, an exciting guy who comes off the bench and can spark runs with energy and electric plays. Sure, he could be helpful, but he isn't a franchise guy. A franchise guy can dribble, shoot and pass - at the very least.

He should be drafted, but not first overall. And not in the lottery. Maybe with some work and time and luck, he could be good. But he isn't a franchise player. He is smart though - he knows his stock will never be higher, so he came out now.

(Side note: Don't GMs consider this?

First GM: "Hey, Bob, you know, I was thinkin' a little - dangerous stuff, I know, I know! - but this Thomas know he's coming out now because there is a very real possibility he could go back to school for another year and be so-so? Well, I was thinking, if he's coming out now to avoid not being good in college, aren't the odds pretty good he will be not very good in the pros, too? I mean, there are better players and stuff...Plus, we're paid to know who's good in college...we never even heard of him before the tournament started...I dunno, I just have an uneasy feeling...."

Second GM: "Best not to think like that, Jim. Didn't you see the two weeks he had in the NCAA tournament? If you can't trust a two-week stretch that's predicated largely on momentum and barely on consistency, what can you trust? No, no, don't think like's really not safe...I mean, everyone else thinks he's good, ya know? Better just go along with the crowd...")

It just amazes me that this kid is going to be drafted in the top three based solely on athletic ability and potential. Am I really the only one who sees this? Me and my younger brother are the only two people who get this, I think. Everyone else is just sold on him, like he's this can't-miss prospect. He can't dribble, pass or shoot. That has to count for something, right?

But, hey, it doesn't matter, I'm not the one pulling the strings on draft night. Charlotte picks at No. 3, though - maybe Jordan can draft himself another Kwame Brown. That worked out beautifully last time.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Soccer is dead. Too bad.

So the US - fielding its alleged "best team ever" - lost to Ghana, 2-1. I actually got up and watched it. Now I wish I would have slept in. What a complete dissapointment.

Now, I don't know a whole hell of a lot about soccer, but you can just tell the US doesn't play it right. I'm sitting here watching the Brazilians play - now this is how you play soccer. They get a shot on goal about every four minutes. They pass the ball a ton. They find each other all over the field. They move with a purpose. I realize the US doesn't have the talent of a Brazil - well, no one does - but still. They should at least try to play like them.

Even if the US played like this, they wouldn't have the success of the Brazilians. But its the right way to do it, I think (even though I don't know what I'm talking about). Like when yuo learn how to type....maybe in the beginning, yuo get better results by just hunting and pecking, but in the long-term, its better to do it the right way. The US is still hunting and pecking, and Brazil is flying along at 120 wpm.

I don't know any technical stuff, but it seems to me the more you pass, the better your offense is. The more goals you score. Most of the goals I've seen in the World Cup are either off free/penalty kicks or off a series of nice passes. Seems to me the successful teams are the best passers.

The US does none of that. Their typical offensive "set" - if thats what you call it - goes something like this (or at least this is what it looks like to someone who doesn't know to much about futbol): Kasey Keller takes the ball out of the back of the net and sets it down on the ground. He then motions to four or five of his teammates, apparently positioning them for a long pass, and then proceeds to boot the ball the length of the field to no one in particular. Hopefully, someone from the opposing team knocks it out of bounds, and the US gets a throw-in. That really seems to be our best bet. If that somehow happens, we throw it in, screw around with the ball for as long as we can, play it back, play it back, play it back...and then find a way to get it to the other team as quickly as possibly. Rarely we'll get a shot off - if we do, it generally sails fifteen to twenty feet over the goal (honestly, if the goal was 30 feet high, the US would have destroyed Ghana. Like 7-2) . Then we play defense.

And that really doesn't work. Just once I would have liked to have seen Keller pass the ball to a teammate and see the US try to work the ball up the field and try to put together an offensive set. Jacking it down the field - essentially hitting and hoping - doesn't work. It resulted in exactly zero goals this World Cup (our lone goal came off a silly turnover). Italy scored as many US goals as the Americans.

Still, US soccer is still growing. They are recognized as someone to take seriously. They are still relatively "young" in terms of national-level experience. The fact that an early exit in a very tough group is seen as a huge dissapointment means alot. The sad part is that this performance has probably extinguished any budding interest in soccer among Americans. I'm not saying it was exploding, but this has to be the most hyped and most covered the event has ever been in the US - mostly because the US was expected to do well. Now soccer interest is on life support.

Soccer is hard to get into. The US implosion in Germany doesn't help, but there are a ton of other reasons why Americans don't get into it. Here's some of them:

1. Soccer players are the biggest pansies in the world. Honestly, outside of syncronized swimming and and ribbon twirling, is there a softer bunch of "athletes" in the world? During the US-Ghana match, the stretch was brough out at least four times. Four! Have you ever seen a sporting event, outside of the beautiful game, where the stretcher was brought out twice? And the shameful thing is, every time some one was stretchered off, he was back in within 5 minutes every time. Incredible.

2. Soccer players are rewarded for being pansies and fakers. They are probably stretched off every 15 minutes because they get rewarded for being wusses. The more you fake, the better off you are. How easy is it to trick a soccer ref? Do they have any what it takes to knock some one over? I mean, any idea? I wish they would have had a soccer ref as a high school teacher. You could cheat your ass off and then blame the kid you were cheating off; you'd get an A and the smart kid would get suspended.

And the grimaces these players make when they take a dive...c'mon, man. Have a little respect. They go down like they were just shot in the calf. Screaming and grabbing...its so embaressing, isn't it? Do they have any pride? I guess its just a different mindset thean the US (at least the Americans don't do that...although when Reyna gift-wrapped that first goal for Ghana, I'm not entirely sure he was that hurt). Probably why Vlade and Manu are the two biggest floppers off all-time...I really would like to see coaches at foreigh they have flop sessions? This drives me nuts. I half expect someone to go down, writhing in pain, during the pregame handshake. Embarressing.

3. Stoppage time. Possibly the dumbest rule in sport. Has there ever been a remotely believable explanation as to why no one can really know when the game is over? Imagine this in other sports..."Three, two, one - and that's it! The Heat are your 2006 NBA Champs! No...wait...There's seven more seconds....Dirk grabs the ball Wade just chucked in the air, feeds Harris under the rim...MAVS WIN! THERE WILL BE A GAME SEVEN!!" Or..."And that wraps it up, ladies and gents, the White Sox win their first world series in 80 some, I'm sorry, the ref awards the Astros 4 more outs....sorry, Chicago, you'll have to wait a little longer for that championship..." It's ridiculous. Its a rule a king or a dictator would make; it makes no sense, but I say so, and we've been doing it for so long, we're not going to stop now. Why can't the clock stop on substitutions and penalties? Let everyone see? Would that really be so hard?

4. Being a "good sport." Here's the situation. Franco takes the ball from Bobino and is about to head up field when he hears Franco screaming in pain a few yards behind him. Being a "good sport," Bobino kicks it out of bounds. Once Franco either recovers or is taken off the field, Franco's team will kick it back to Bobino's. But any advantage Bobino may have gained after the steal in nullified. Because Franco got "hurt."

Seems thoughtful, but its bullshit. 100% BS. First of all, Franco is never hurt. Soccer players are notorious fakers, pansies, wusses, exagerators, cheaters...its rarely genuine. So one team makes a great, clean play, the other fakes an injury, and the guy that makes the great play gets screwed. Well, sportsmanship should apply both ways, no? If one guy is going to be a good sport and kick it out of bounds, shouldn't the guy who is "hurt" be genuine? Just something to think about.

5. Offsides. I know this is like tantamount to sacrelige, but I just don't get it. Why can't I sneak behind a defender? Why? Is it to make the goals more beautiful? I'm being serious here. I don't even want this rule necessarily obliteratied, I just want it explained to me. Since there is offsides, mos goals, at least to me, come off free/penalty kicks and or headers after long crosses (and about 89 failed attempts). Wouldn't there be some prettier, more beautiful goals if you could go any where you wanted?

(The only good thing about offsides? With scores always bein 1-0 or 2-1, no sport gives you more "Oh...Oh...OOOHHH!" moments than soccer. Not even close. So that's fun. Maybe 7-5 games would ruin the sport...but I don't think so. Would it?)

Don't bash me for not getting it, just explain why the rule exists. And change the other four. And figure out who Kasey Keller is pointing at. That's all I'm asking.

Oh, and some other random soccer players always clap to the stands even after a 3-0 beatdown, that a game can actually be decided on penalty kicks (hey, lets end baseball games with a HR derby or basketball games with a dunk to see, not a good way to decide who has a better team) and that two yellow cards gets you suspended for the next game. Seems a little steep, no? OK, I think that's all for now.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Tainted Game 5

I can't recall a game in recent memory that seems to be as tainted as last night's Game 5 (which is a shame, because it somehow has eclipsed Dwyane Wade turning into...well, something really, really good.) You have Stack's questionable suspension heading into the game, then tack on the alleged phantom foul on Dirk allowing Wade to sink the game winning free throws, plus Josh Howard calling the worst time out since Chris Webber. And what about Cubes shooting David Stern death stares? Or Nowitzki's mini-tantrum heading back to the locker room.

That's alotta freakin' stuff. There's been tainted games before, but this is like a handful of reasons. All we needed was a Russian judge awarding the Mavs a second chance at the game winner. So let's get to the bottom of it.

First of all, Dirk's "foul." Clearly, after the replay, there wasn't a foul there. But in the ref's defense, the first time you see that play, it really looks like a foul. Dirk swings his arm down at Wade, plus he was driving wildly through basically the entire team...all signs point to a foul. When refs are taught how to calls fouls, they are taught to look for the arm swinging down. That gets called all the time. If you wanna get called for a foul, swing your arm down like that. Unless you come away cleanly with the ball, you're getting rung up. That's just the way it works.

The most egregious part of the whole thing is ESPN's analysts after the game. Every single one of them was dead wrong. They went right down the line - Legler, Anthony and Pippen, all three of them - and said Wade "earned" that call by going to the basket hard all game. How stupid is that? I'll tell you how stupid: they made Stu Scott look like the smartest guy at the table.

You don't "earn" a call by previous actions. Its impossible, and that logic is infuriating. Either it was a foul or not. The refs didn't "get into a rhythm" of calling fouls. Previous outside circumstances are irrelevant.

Number 3 got that call for two reasons, and two reasons only. Dirk swung his arm down and it says "WADE" above that 3 on the back of his jersey. If Antione Walker had been relentlessly attacking the basket all night, he wouldn't have gotten that call. There's a short list of players who get that call, and Wade is either at or near the top of it. Case closed.

So the Mavs didn't get screwed there...but they did get screwed when the refs awarded them tht timeout. Clearly, the Mavs didn't want it. That was obvious from the get-go. Here's what the refs said after the game, via a "statement:"

"Josh Howard goes to Joe DeRosa and not only once but twice asks for a timeout. Forced to call it. Simple as that."
Um...that never happened. Howard never talked to anyone, espcailly not a ref. All he did was make the time out sign towards his coach. The refs blew it, and they lied to cover it up. Classy.

And say he did ask for it. Why could't he just change his mind? How about when a guy dives out-of-bounds to save a ball, calls a timeout, but the ref says he was out before he called it. That guy is never forced to then take that timeout. And that happens like once a game. So maybe in the biggest game of the entire flippin' series, the refs could have used a little common sense. Apparently the ESPN crew wasn't using theirs, they probably could have borrowed it.

As for Cuban...that was a little much, no? Don't get me wrong, I like Cuban...but he seems to be kind of a dork to me. He just doesn't quite get it. Tough to put into words...I dunno. That was just a little lame. Like a little kid who didn't get his way, so he pouted. Go write a blog. Go buy another team. But really Mark...don't stare at someone. Man, that was sad (but not as sad as Dirk's tantrum...I mean, Germans can get angrier than that right?)

Regardless, due to the NBA's inane 2-3-2 Finals format, the Heat are up 3-2 in a series where the only thing that matters is home court. The series ends in Dallas.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Thoughts on the Little General

I'm just thinking outloud here. Just a thought. I'm not sure if this is right or not, but I'm saying it anyways. Here goes.

Avery Johnson is a heck of a coach. Goes without saying (but I'm going to say it anyways). He inspires and motivates his players to play at a level they weren't playing at before he took over. In my limited knowledge of NBA X's and O's, he seems to run good sets for his players and puts them in positions to be successful (iso's for Dirk on the elbow, single/double choices for Jason Terry along the baseline, top of the key drive opportunities for Devin Harris, etc.). And his ability to lead is maybe (probably) his most compelling trait.

In every series he has coached this postseason, he has been lauded for "outcoaching" his counterpart down the sideline. He makes personnel moves the other coaches either don't see coming or can't handle.

Now, I'll give credit where credit is due, but...might we be heaping just a bit too much on Avery? He's coaching far and away the deepest team in the league (10 deep?!). He makes moves other coaches can't handle simply because they don't have the personnel to do so. What coach wouldn't kill for the flexibility Avery has at his fingertips? The ability to go small or big, play up-tempo or half-court or anywhere in between. Whatever the opponent calls for, he has an answer ready to go.

Of course, the ability to come up with those answers is commendable, and is something probably only a handful of coaches could do with the consistancy and success Avery has done it with. It's kinda like a multiple choice test; Avery has the answer to any situation staring him in the face, he just has to be smart enough to pick it. And Avery is smart enough. No denying that.

It just seems like if Don Nelson tried to get them to play any defense, the Mavs could have been doing this a little while ago. That might be unfair - Dirk certainly isn't the player he is now, and Devin Harris has exploded in Howard has gotten better...Does that make Nelson stupid or Avery smart? Probbaly both. God I wish I had a point here.

All I'm saying is, as good as of a job as Avery is doing, maybe it isn't the most difficult task in the world. Then again, maybe it is (after all, if Don Nelson can't do it, who can?). I dunno. Jus sayin'.

(I think I'm just curious exactly how good of a motivator Avery is. What if he was coaching, say, the Wizards or the Lakers. If he was forced to play a certain style with a limited roster, could he do it? Probably, but I don't think we'll know for a while since the Mavs are more stacked than Pamela Anderson (Yes! A boob joke! Tee-hee.) for the foreseeable future. Stack is getting up in years, but the core - Dirk, Terry, Howard, Harris - are all good to go for a while. Good times for Mavs fans.)

I started writing this and I wasn't exactly sure what my point was gonna be, and now I'm done and I have even less of an idea. Avery Johnson would do good on the SATs was my point, I think.

Good one, me. Moron.

Read the Rest After the Jump...