Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ric Bucher, you timely bastard

We hate Ric Bucher. We really, really hate him. Alright, we don't hate him - although we do think he is a little presumptious, spelling his name without the "k." (While not thinking twice about abusing the 'editorial we' that we routinely butcher beyond recognition.)

We're just jealous because he beat us to the punch. We were going to make a post about all the different MVPs this year, and all the different ways to define them, and that bastard went and beat us to it. That's why we're jealous. (That, and the fact that millions will read his column, and only three people will read ours. Whatever.)

But you know what? That's not going to stop us. We had the idea first. Some of the ideas here are probably similar, but we thought off all this before Ric published his. And if you don't believe us, well...nothing we can do about that. So here it is, Ric Bucher be damned.

Picking an MVP, we think, is like eating a Reese's. There really is no right way. (We like to eat the peanut butter first, leaving a little chocolate ring for last. But that's just us.) Everyone has different criteria, but there are a few that seem to carry the most weight. In no particular order, they are:

The best player in the league, period. Basically, the logic goes, if the NBA held a huge one-on-one tournament, (which would be so much fun, we can't even talk about it rationally...that would blow the dunk contest right out of the water) who would win? Who is the most unguardable dude in the L, and then can lock you up at the other end, too.

This year's winner: Kobe Bryant.

Bonus points for showing us every night that not only would he win a one-on-one contest, he'd also win a one-on-tw0 contest, a one-on-three contest, a one-on four contest...plus, he scored 81 in a game. Damn.

Points taken away for jacking like a mad man, circumstances and teammates be damned. Plus, the 8-seed just doesn't cut it. You gotta win, homie. And we can't forget that it was at least 50% his fault the greatest big man of the generation and the greatest guard of the generation quit after winning three titles, so all those losses are at least 50% his fault.

The best player in the league on a good team. If a player is that good - MVP-caliber good - he should at the very least have his team in the playoffs, and probably one of the top seeds. Basketball is a sport where one player can dramatically alter a team's fortune, so he should, if the circumstances necessitate it, single-handedly make his team elite.

This year's winner: Dwyane Wade.

Bonus points for carrying a team of good players and one pretty good player to the 2 seed in the East. The Heat were injured all year, and D-Wade was the glue that kept them together. And the way he splits the D on ball screens? Damn near poetic.

Points taken away because..I mean, it is Shaq, regardless of how his skills have eroded or how many games he missed. The Big Second Fiddle racked up a triple-double the other night. The man's still a force. So he's had some help.

Who is most indespensable to their team? In other words, if you took this guy of his team, they would suck. With him, they are contenders; without him they are watching ping pong balls. For whatever reason, he makes them go. Think of it this way: if you switched him with any other player in the L, his team just wouldn't be the same.

This year's winner: Steve Nash.

Bonus points for proving last season wasn't a fluke - and without Amare Stauadamire. You can argue that style is what makes him good..but that's backwards. He's what makes Phoenix' style great. No other guard in the league - maybe Jason Kidd - could do what Nash is doing in the desert.

Loses points because we are pretty sure we could score on him. He plays no defense at all. The Texans secondary thinks Nash doesn't play and D. And even though he makes PHX's style work...he's still at least partially a product of that system.

The best player on the best team. In a nutshell, who is going to be the NBA Finals MVP. Just give him the regualr season award, too.

This year's winner: Mr. Big Shot, Chauncey Billups.

Bonus points because he - nor any one else on his team - is really an All-Star, but he is just so damn successful, how are you gonna knock him? Plus, you need a dagger shot late in the game? Look no further.

Points taken away because..well, remember that one-on-one contest?
Let's just say he won't be losing to Kobe in the finals. If he was doing on another team exactly what he was doing for the Psitons, he wouldn't even be mentioned here.

The player who far and away exceeds all expectations. Sometimes goes to a guy in his breakout year, but can also go to an established guy who just goes above and beyond the call of duty. It also helps if he improves a glaring flaw in his game. He makes his entire team better than most people thought, plus he puts up stats.

This year's winner: Dirk Nowitzki.

Dirk has been playing this year with a chip on his shoulder, we think. He always had the skill, but this season, there is just that extra oomph manifesting itself in those buzzer beaters. Remember when Happy Gilmore taunts Shooter after he learned how to put? Dirk had a similar breakthrough this year: "Uuuuh ooooh...some one learned how to drill game wiiiiiiiiiiinners."

Points taken away because...well, its still the regular season. And we've been waiting forever for this. Kind of like when the honor student starts paying attention in class. Still, that should't diminish the season Diggler is having.

The Franchise Guy. If you were going to start a franchise, who would be the one guy you'd build it around? Who has the brightest future and is the biggest talent? This is the one player who is so dominant, teams would tank an entire season just go get him.

This year's winner (and winner for the forseeable future): LeBron James.

Bonus points for being a video game player brought to real life. He's almost too good to be believable. Simple as that. No one can guard him - no one. He decides how well he plays. He had two knocks heading into the season: No postseason appearences and no game winners. Check and check.

Points taken away for...well, the fingernail biting was a little disconcerting. Looks nervous. Guess he's not, but that doesn't exactly inspire confidence when The Franchise Guy looks like he'stoo nervous to ask a girl to dance at an 8th grade formal And admitting he didn't have Kobe's killer instinct is no good, either. Maybe he's just messing with us though. Sure hope so.

He took the Clippers to the playoffs. Self-explanatory. My Lord, if that feat right there doesn't get you the MVP, what does? Is there a harder task in sports? We've thought about it, and no, there isn't.

This year's winner (and first in a while): Elton Brand.

Bonus points for taking the flippin' Clippers to the playoffs! Is the Earth still spinning? Is gravity still working? Are Phil's man boobs still jiggling? He took the Clippers to the playoffs! You know exactly what you are getting every single night. No one more reliable. Just a rock.

Points taken away because...well, he's their best player, but Sam Cassell seems like the difference maker there. ET is like Al Davis - he just wins, baby - and Elton needed that before he was this great. Makes you wonder a little bit...but just a little.
And, well...you knoe exactly what you are getting every night. Just sayin'. Oh yeah - he went to Duke, too. Ouch.

So who's the MVP? We're giving it to Bron Bron. The man is just unreal. He continues to outshine the spotlight, which, considering how bright that spotlight was and is, is impressive as anything anyone else has done this year. And when his team needed him most - down the stretch - he dropped 35 in nine straight games and picked up win after win - the Cavs were 8-1 during that stretch. One on one you can't stop him, he has a good team winning and every single GM in the L would start their franchise with him, bar none (insert Isiah Thomas joke here). That's the complete package. He did everything short of getting the Clip Show in the playoffs.
Case closed.

Who's your MVP? Vote or leave a comment. Let's get a little debate going here.

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Duke has nation shaking its head

We don't know how Duke does it. These people are supposed to be smart, right? That's what they brag about, isn't it? How hard it is to get accepted there, how they are the "Harvard of the South"? This is the school that chants, "That's alright, that's OK, you're gonna work for us someday"? That's Duke, right?

Well, for being a group of supposed elite geniuses, they botched this lacrosse alleged-rape case worse than
Greg Paulus on a 2-on-1 fast break.

Now, we understand this is a rape case, and that means it needs to be handled with all seriousness and sensitivity. But man, did Duke blow it.

First, when the stripper initially made her accusation, Duke reacted as if everything she said was true. Two reactions here:

First, whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Games were suspended, and then eventually the whole season was ended and the head coach resigned; players were even suspended from school. Keep in mind, this was before there was any evidence, besides the accusation. (Note: We have a feeling there are going to be a lot of italics coming up. Just letting you know.) They acted as if the girl marched into the president's office with a video tape of the entire crime. Reacting like that without any real evidence makes us think the lacrosse players had a reputation on campus as being a bunch of untrustworthy, disruptive, arrogant assholes (either that, or there is some pretty damning evidence the school hasn't made public). And to get a reputation like that on Duke's campus of all places, you really have to go out of your way to be a prick. Jus' sayin'.

Oh, and that e-mail Ryan McFadyen sent out - probably not the smartest thing in the world there Ryan, and I'm sure it did nothing to help the team's image.

Second, they took the word of a stripper as fact. Now listen, we're not saying they should have ignored her because she was a stripper. They should have taken it very seriously. And they were also screwed because she was making her claim against Duke lacrosse players, and, well...neither party is exactly Abe Lincoln reincarnated. Its not like one of them is inherently believable. Imagine if Barry Bonds was claiming OJ was a murderer, and OJ was still saying, "Nu uh. Barry is on 'roids. He's crazy." You're not believing either one of them right off the bat. Same with a stripper and students from Duke.

When Duke decided to do this, no one even batted an eyelash. "Damn right! Cancel the season! They don't deserve to play!" Ah, Duke? How about a little more hypocrisy? Would you like to try to be a little more inconsistent?

Imagine for a second that the men's basketball team was accused of this.
As much as we would like to see Lee Melchionni frantically trying to hold onto some soap, do you think for one second they would even consider ending the season prematurely? The gavel would have to drop sending the entire team to prison before they did that, and even then we aren't so sure they would forfeit the season. It's ludicrous.

(Quickly: don't think for a second we feel any remorse that the lacrosse player's season was ended early, especially since they are Duke lacrosse players. We don't. We're just saying Duke administration messed up - royally - and that if it happened anywhere else, we would probably say it was unfair. Lacrosse got cancelled because only their parents come to watch the games and it probably costs Duke money to keep them around. That's all we're saying.)

Now some evidence has been made public seemingly clearing the lacrosse team. DNA from Duke players is no where to be found on the stripper. And there are time-stamped images, allegedly, of the accuser strolling into the house looking like hell, bruises everywhere. And then when they threw her out - again, allegedly - she was demanding to come back in.

Honestly, who the hell knows what happened in there. It could range anywhere from a gang rape (God forbid) to some drunk Duke students kicking a crappy stripper out of their house. Maybe it happened, maybe it didn't, only time will tell. The facts are blurred, and it is going to take some time for all of them to boil to the surface. One fact is indisputable, though: In typical Duke arrogance, they acted as if they knew everything, when they really didn't. And now the whole school - from the lacrosse team to the administration - looks like jackasses on a national stage.

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This just in: King James is good

Remember back when LeBron was passing on game winners? If memory serves, he was 2-for-3 when doing that. Donyell Marshall and Flip Murray each hit shots, but Larry Hughes missed his. Twice his teammates hit the game winner, and one time they missed. As far as game winning shots go, those are pretty good results. We think so, anyways.

Well, Bron Bron took some heat for not shooting the game winner himself. He's the superstar, the logic goes, so he should always take them, no matter what. Even if every defender on the court simultaneouosly converges on him like he's David Carr, he needs to be The Man.

Critics were quiet about The Chosen One passing on the last shot - until it didn't work. Then they came out of the woodwork in droves. "Hey, that was cute while it was working, but start taking some clutch shots...and stop chewing your fingernails like a third-grade girl trying to do long division at the blackboard in front of the whole class."

BJ Armstrong, among others, voiced his displeaseure with Bron Bron passing with the clock winding down. This raises the question, Why would you ever let your name be BJ? What are the benefits there? None, right? I don't care what BJ stands for, thats what you go with. If it stands for Ben James, you are known as Ben James. If it stands for Boner Juice, you are known as Boner Juice. Anything is better than BJ. Even Boner Juice. This tanrnishes BJ's credibility a bit, no?

(By the way, have you ever seen Boner Juice try to talk on ESPN? It is excruciating; we can't even sit still. It's like that scene in Swingers when Mike leaves message after message on that girl's answering machine, only so much worse.)

The Chosen One may have heard all this chatter, because he started dropping game winners like..well, The Chosen One.

First, he KO'd the Bobcats (notice the trip-doub as well), and then last night, he slit the throats of the NewOrleansOklahomaCityCharlotteHornets. The message from LeBron, at least to us, is quite clear: "Suck my dick."

And we couldn't agree more. The best always take the last shot? Really? We seem to remember Jordan passing on last shots like it was his job (partly because it was his job) - and in huge situations, not meaningless regular season games against the trainwreck that is the New York Knicks. Remember when John Paxson hit that shot to win the NBA Finals? Remember when Steve Kerr hit that shot to win the NBA Finals? Who was passing them the ball? Was it the most lethal assassin in the history of sport? Nod your head up and down. Yes, that was MJ dropping dimes to win NBA titles. (Oh, he passed to beat the Knicks, too: Remember when he came back from the Barons, dropped a double-nickel in MSG, then found Bill freakin' Wennington to win the game? We do.)

(And shouldn't Boner Juice know this? He did play with Jordan, didn't he? Was he paying attention at all?)

Plus, think of the benefits this will have in the playoffs. The defense has no freakin' clue what will happen. It really limits the ability to double him at the end of the game, because LeBron has proven to everyone in the L that his teammates are capable of beating you. And he has the confidence of his teammates through the roof. How is any of this bad?

We think this is the final nail in the coffin of the LeBron James Haters. Just quit doubting him, alright? It's not a good idea. (You know what? We changed out mind. We like LeBron. Keep doubting him. Seems he does pretty good under those circumstances) He has a team with questionable talent making a legit grab at 50 wins. He wins games, either on his own, or by finding teammates.

Results are what matter, right?

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Batman is a jackass

The Pirates got shallacked by the Dodgers, 8-3, on Monday and then had to suffer through something even more degrading. Michael Keaton, who the Pirates invited to throw out the first pitch, ripped the team for not spending enough money to be competitive.

Now, there are several things to take away from this. We are all for free speech...but was Batman's timing really the best here? Do you really need to rip the team that invited you to throw out their first pitch at their stadium? It's a pretty nice gesture, we think, to be invited. The least you could do is maybe show a little support...you know, at least pretend.

It raises the question, Does Batman do this in all walks of life? When a friend invites him over, does he rip him, too? "Hey pal...nice to see you...you know, your whole interior design scheme sucks...you need to do something here. And that dinner your wife just cooked? I'd rather lick the floor. I'm going to throw up just so that shit isn't in my stomach any more. Oh, and just talking out loud here...your kids are so damn ugly, they make Lorenzo Mata look like a Calvin Klein model. I'd shoot 'em, but I don't want to waste the bullets...now where is your dog, I want to kick that little bastard one more time before I leave."

Amazingly, though, Batman just didn't rip them. He compared them to the Clippers. The definition of ineptitude. And we quote:

"For my money, that's disrespectful. At some point, you either have to write the check or do something and not assume, well, we're OK and, ultimately, the franchise is valuable, anyway, like Donald Sterling did with the Los Angeles Clippers."
We don't even know who should be offended here. Was he insulting the Clippers there? Was he praising them? (Does it even matter? It's Batman!) The Clippers are having a bit of a renaissance this season, so was this a good thing? Ah, Batman...so many questions, so few answers.

Two other things to note here:

1) Batman showed up to the game wearing a Hines Ward hat. Man, the Pirates had to be pissed. When he goes on dates, does he say things like "You know, you're nice, but your sister is smoking. What's she doing tonight?"

2) When he actually stopped talking and threw out the first pitch, it was so wide of the catcher, it rolled all the way to the back stop. Warrants mentioning, we think.

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