Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Second Round Knockout

Second round kicking off around 10:30. I need to catch a 7:40 train to L.I. tomorrow for a funeral, but as long as I get a couple hours of sleep, it’s cool. I’ve gotta stay up for some of the second round at least, seeing that the Bulls haven’t had a pick yet. Wait, did they just finish the Coach K Spurs commercial now? Also, how many former Blue Devils are on the Spurs or the Pistons?

The Hawks are up first (forget the time thing for the second round) and Russ Granik is in his usual jovial mood. The Hawks get Salim Stoudamire, who is at least someone I’ve heard of. The new Jason Terry? He’s pretty much a two guard in a (small) point guard’s body. But Jay Bilas just used the phrase “pity party,” so it’s all good. And it really won’t be hard for him to be the starting point guard for the Hawks, because I’m not sure if they really have one.

And the clock’s rolling fast, and the Clippers take Daniel Ewing, the first Devil picked. As usual, identifiable names are going early in the second round, but there’ll sure be a bunch of unknowns coming. We’ll see how Ewing fits with Shaun Livingston.

The Hornets take Brandon Bass from Louisiana State—a local cat. He’s a beast, that’s for sure. And they might well need a replacement for P.J. Brown one of these days. Andriuskevicius and Chad Ford must be seriously bumming right now.

The Jazz get C.J. Miles outta high school. Jerry Sloan is going to eat him alive. And is it me, or did he go to the same high school as Rashard Lewis?

Portland takes Ricky Sanchez, another high school kid, with Monta Ellis still on the board. And Milwaukee takes some Turkish dude during a commercial break.

The Lakers go French! Ronny Turiaf! Not a bad pick. And are all the French guys there? Toughness is good—he’ll probably be better than Bynum next year. Although he sorts seems like a French version of Brian Grant.

Magic go Travis Diener! Sometimes you just have to take the best dorky looking guy available. The Lakers are on the clock again—did they cut someone?

Trade! Jarrett Jack for Kleiza and Sanchez, as predicted. Underwhelming. Although does Jarrett Jack beat out Bassy for the starting job?

The Lakers take Von Wafer, which is way cooler, at least based on his name. In fact, he could very well have the coolest name in the entire draft. If his locker doesn’t have his full name on it in the same script as “Von Dutch” (in L.A., no less!), Paris Hilton and I will be very disappointed.

I love the sudden death aspect of the second round—and the Warriors finally take Monta Ellis off the board. Yeesh, and he’s already signed with an agent. Just hope he doesn’t turn into the next DaJuan Wagner—and he doesn’t even have half of Wagner’s build.

Raptors are back on the board, and they thankfully cut to commercial. I’m not sure if I want to see this either. Incidentally, with the 2 and 3 picks in the 1996 Draft, the Raptors and Grizzlies took Marcus Camby and Shareef Abdur-Rahim respectively. What if one of them had taken Steve Nash? (With 41, the Raptors take Roko-Leni Ukic. Just so you know.)

The Warriors take Chris Taft at No. 42. Wasn’t he supposed to be a top-10 pick at the start of the year? Would he maybe have been a top-10 pick next year? No. 42—as worn by one-time Warrior Donyell Marshall, who also underachieved for a while. Hopefully he succeeds earlier.

Another guy gets taken during a commercial break—Mile Ilic to the Nets. Somehow I thought that was all one name. As it goes, it’s the second-best name in the draft. And then we get Dick Vitale after an extended break with an extended rant about kids who should have stayed in school. Never saw that one coming. And they go to commercial again, thus ensuring we’ll miss at least one more pick (Orlando at 44). This is probably a plot by the Sternbot to ensure Granik gets less facetime than he does.

We get back in time for Philly at 45—Louis Williams, from South Gwinnett High. Lots of high school second-rounders, but what the hell, they wouldn’t even be eligible for the draft next year. They wanna go for that Rashard Lewis second-round money. And Jay Bilas with the smackdown! Indy’s on the shotclock, and we still don’t know who Orlando took. Actually, Granik is back out to mention that the Pacers made up—er, took—Erazem Lorbek from Slovenia. And the Magic took Andriuskevicius! From lottery pick to “selected during the commercial break.” That’s a long way to fall.

Rob Babcock from T-dot on the video conference trying to explain the Villanueva pick. He’s not terribly convincing. And he doesn’t really make sense, either. Go Toronto! (To an American market.)

The Sonics get Mickaël Gelabale from Guadeloupe—the first umlauted player selected. This is apparently more important than pick No. 47, which was a Timberwolf pick that we’ve never heard. Also, Gelabale’s draft hat is the most amazing thing ever. (Where are all these French guys coming from?) No. 47 was Bracey Wright from Indiana. No umlauts.

The Wizards take Andray Blatche, another high schooler. Probably the first player to have “Andray” spelled that way. He’s probably just as good as Kwame Brown, and he was picked a mere 48 picks lower.

50! Ryan Gomes from Providence to the Celtics. He’s a local, and a COLLEGE senior. He reminds Jay Bilas of Adrian Dantley, which is pretty good at 50. And probably pretty exaggerated.

The Nuggets select a guy named Axel from Belgium. This is perhaps a sign that the second round need not be televised. Almost immediately, the Celtics take someone else whose name I don’t even catch. Orien Greene. And I already missed pick No. 51, which occurred during the break. The Knicks are on the clock, though. And they’re using all of it, apparently.

No. 51 was Robert Whaley, actually, who was once a highly-touted high school star. Big drop right there. Maybe Jerry Sloan can do something with him.

The Knicks take Dijon Thompson from UCLA. Another skinny swing to go with Trevor Ariza, assuming he makes the squad. And that gets the Sonics back on the board. ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell cutting off Mike Tirico in the middle of a question about Bogut’s marketing power is incredibly great—maybe the second round SHOULD be televised after all.

Granik attak—the Sonics get Lawrence Roberts. Once again, LATE after being a first-team All-American in ’04. Someone who SHOULD have left school early? Not that anyone will mention it on the air.

Five picks left, and it’s already 11:35. Does a two-round draft REALLY need to be four hours long? The Pistons take Amir Johnson, yet another high school second rounder.

Marcin Gortat either just got selected or he won a preliminary round at Wimbledon. One or the other. Kiki Vandeweghe is talking and I’m not listening. Also, I missed the last pick. Oh, Toronto took Uros Slokar to compete in mixed doubles. No big deal. The Hawks have the 59th pick, which seems pointless. Then the Pistons get the last guy. Mr. Irrelevant.

I guess the Hawks pick was pointless, since they go straight to Granik for No. 60. The Pistons take Alex Acker, who I’ve never heard of. It’s not like Larry Brown will play him assuming he makes the team and assuming Larry Brown is still coaching.

The hell with analysis and the Hawks pick—it’s 11:47 and I’m going to bed.

Draft Mockery (3)

9:02 – The Nets take Antoine Wright? I’ve gotta be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play. Guess I’ve gotta trust the Nets, but doesn’t he play the same position as Vince and Richard Jefferson? Also, Bernie Bickerstaff knows what’s up. The Raptors are up next, and I expect them to take someone I’ve never heard of.

9:08 – Well, I’ve heard of Joey Graham. And he’s a decent replacement for Vince Carter, I’d think. David Stern will still have to do some magic with free agency to keep the NBA viable in Canada, though. They’re still not looking like a playoff team, and I can’t imagine many people really care anymore. Where’s Green and Granger? The Pacers up next—take Green!

9:12 – The Pacers take Granger, who’s also a great pick. He’s good to go, obviously, and should fit in well. Worse comes to worse, he’s probably got more trade value than the average 17th pick. Celtics up next with their first pick of the day.

9:18 – Gerald GREEN to the Celtics? Guess that makes sense. They’re stockpiling the youth, that’s for sure. Al Jefferson is already terrific, and Green should be up there once he bulks up a bit. Well, if he even has to—Larry Hughes, Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton are fine skinny. The Grizzlies are on the clock, and who’s left in the green room? Just Hakim Warrick.

9:24 – And he’s not lonely for long. With Warrick, Stro Show, Pau Gasol and Lorenzen Wright, I’m guessing someone (or two) is out of town soon. Bilas and Vitale should love this one. I just don’t quite get what position he’s going to play. He’s athletic as hell, but the basketball talent is the concern. Especially if he has to play the 3. Denver’s on the clock. And is it just me, or is being overlooked the story of EVERY basketball player’s life? Well, except maybe Shaq.

9:31 – Neat—they talk about Julius Hodge when Warrick got picked, and the Nuggets take Hodge. They certainly need a two guard out there in Denver, and Hodge is a good one. Work on that trey, Julius. And did Jerry West just say that Hakim Warrick was a great player at Princeton? Phoenix is up.

9:36 – Nate the (new) Skate! To Phoenix! Which is awesome for the few minutes it lasts, until it’s revealed that he might end up in New York in the Quentin Richardson deal. But if Q is coming in as the starting 2, and Crawford is supposed to back up both spots, where does Nate fit in? At least he’s properly undersized. He’ll probably start at power forward.

9:42 – Denver with Jarrett Jack. He’ll have to be the backup point guard for a while, but the Nuggets get another strong ACC guy. And best yet, NO one from Duke has been picked yet. Not that it’s been expected, but it’s still nice to see a complete lack of Blue Devils. Sacto’s up. And incidentally, I feel like Danny Granger’s singing may have played a role in his dropping out of the lottery.

9:50 – The Kings take Francisco Garcia. Someone else who can help right away, and of course he’ll appeal to the huge Hispanic population in Sacramento. “Must Improve: Durability.” Um yeah, that’s simple, right? Just get some new bumpers.

9:55 – Luther Head to the Rockets. He’s going to get to play with two superstars? Yao Ming isn’t a superstar yet. And the Sonics, up next, are allegedly excited about Andrieuskivicius—don’t they already have Robert Swift and Nick Collison? And they technically don’t have a coach, either.


9:59 – The Sonics take Johan Petro and mess the whole thing up. A different international cat, but at least he might be sort of ready to go. Then again, he’s 19, too. Watching international highlights never gets old—love the trapezoidal lane. An out-of-the-crowder, at least Tony Parker’s got company. Trade proposal! Nuggets to send Jarrett Jack for the 27th pick and the 35th. Who cares? The Pistons are up next, and they should definitely take Andrieuskivicius to use as another bookend with Darko Milicic. That would also get rid of Larry Brown.

10:03 – I respect the money he’s making, but something about the Mos Def GMC commercial just seems really wrong. Can’t help but wonder what Talib Kweli thinks.

10:06 – Jason Maxiell? He’s an athlete, I suppose, but he’s kind of short for what he does. And where the heck is he going to play? Ruben Patterson 2005!

10:10 – Blazers! Linas Kleiza! He looks good in highlights, even though he played for that slimeball in Missouri. Spurs on the clock.

10:17 – The Spurs take Ian Mahinmi from France. He’s here, too. And he’s only played basketball for four years! He’s wearing all off-white, including the tie. And he probably won’t be back in the U.S. to play anytime soon. Only two more first rounders, thank God. Miami and the Knicks. This round seriously takes forever—can we cut the time between picks to four minutes?

10:20 – Mike Tirico annoys Sonic coach Nate McMillan. Big ups to Nate for brushing off the coaching/contractual questions. Just for that, I hope the Sonics re-up him.

10:23 – Miami takes Wayne Simien, who should definitely like playing with Shaq. And yep, Vitale is effervescent. Gotta love them seniors. Knicks are on the clock, and the crowd is on edge.

10:28 – The natives are restless. And the Knicks take David Lee, and the boos start. I don’t know—Lee seems like a good sort. Athletic, can shoot, got some size. He should be able to play the three, too—even though he’s taller than all their power forwards. Here endeth the first round.

Draft Mockery (2)

7:31 – More Lenny Kravitz. Maybe the NBA would feel better about 18-year olds if they actually recognized one or two of the songs they listen to. I guess it’s technically ESPN’s fault, but still.

7:32 – Heeeeeerre’s DAVID! Still have no idea what happens in that back room. Guess I’m not a true NBA fan since I’m not at the Draft. And wait—this STARTS the clock for Milwaukee? Haven’t they had a MONTH? Anything to stretch out the broadcast, I guess. Previous Bucks No. 1 picks—Lew Alcindor, Kent Benson, Glenn Robinson. And they don’t have a coach. Other than that, they’re in great shape.

7:36 – With the first pick of the 2005 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks select Andrew Bogut, from Australia and the University of Utah. What a surprise. Still can’t remember who the last center picked at No. 1 to be an absolute success was. Yao Ming, I guess, although even he’s underachieved somewhat. It’s not like anyone without LeaguePass is going to see a single Bucks game next year anyway.

7:38 – The Hawks are on the clock. Ha ha. Guess they should take Marv, although then they’d need to trade some peoples. Also, they should let Bogut’s dad handle the second rounders. He sounds way cooler than Russ Granik. And now, for some overanalysis and explanation. I’ll be shocked if I can handle the entire Draft on TV.

7:42 – The Hawks take Marvin. For his sake, I hope they trade him. He’s too old to be part of a Hawks rebuilding process. (Good camera work on Roy Williams, peoples.) I just wish ol’ Roy repeated what he said to Bonnie Bernstein. Bilas – “Marvin Williams is the real deal and the complete package.” Hawks PR peoples, take note. “He’s been well-coached to this point, and he’ll be well-coached in the future.” Followed by a ringing endorsement of Mike Woodson! Holla!

7:45 – Um, Mr. Vitale, I don’t think you take Chris Paul 2nd. Maybe you trade for him and get even more. Wait, Marvin’s favorite TV show is “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”? Come on, Marv. And Atlanta hasn’t drafted an All-Star in 20-plus years? Yeesh. Good luck.

7:47 – The Jazz take Deron Williams. Stephen A. went on that they had to take Chris Paul because he’s “spectacular,” but hey—John Stockton wasn’t exactly spectacular, and he worked out just fine. Deron’s a beast, and he’ll be great with Andrei Kirilenko and co. Probably set some mean screens, too. Jerry Sloan should be happy, even if Stephen A. isn’t.

7:52 – Good God. Video games are getting completely out of control. If they want to make the NBA games any more official they’ll need to combine one of them with Grand Theft Auto and that Dub game.

7:53 – The New Orleans Hornets select Chris Paul. Makes sense I guess, after they traded Baron. Gee, too bad they’re still not in Charlotte. I still can’t wait for the first high schooler to go so we can get the requisite “stay in school” histrionics from Vitale and Bilas. “He will be the Mayor of New Orleans, trust me.” Um, Dick, NO one even GOES to NBA games in New Orleans.

7:55 – Who has to switch the lettering on the “NOW PLAYING” sign?

7:57 – Charlotte on the clock. Raymond Felton maybe? They DO need a point guard. Yep, they do. Kind of crazy that he goes before Sean May on some level, and this probably already blows up a few mock drafts. At least I hope it does. Where the international cats at, C. Fizzle?

8:00 – For once, I agree wholeheartedly with Stephen A. Smith. I’m waiting for the apocalypse, which should be arriving shortly.

8:01 – Raymond Felton writes poetry in his spare time. Good to know. At the table with Stu Scott, he reads from “Leaves of Clichés.” The Blazers are on the clock—who’s out there that’s done time?

8:06 – High school! The Blazers take Martell Webster, a local to the Pacific Northwest (Seattle). Another one that makes a mockery of mocks. And I believe he’s the first to be wearing a suit with hidden buttons. Go, Martell! With him, Bassy and Outlaw, they should be good for a while. Maybe. Although it might take them a while to get there. And Jay Bilas is COMPLIMENTARY? Wow.

8:08 – I agree with Stephen A. again. I need an Advil. Or a beer. Toronto’s on the clock. Jeez. What DON’T they need? And there we go, Vitale pushing strength and maturity of a college kid. Like the Blazers aren’t going to have a coach all season? Like you’re all that much mature at 20 than you are at 18? And oh my, WHAT is his grandmother wearing on her head? And John Nash looks like he hasn’t slept since 1978.

8:09 – The Raptors take Charlie Villanueva! Well, this makes it somewhat interesting for the Knicks—there are guys on the board they probably haven’t considered. Like Sean May, the ultimate undersized power forward. Danny Granger, too. Maybe Gerald Green? Anyway, this pick basically solidifies the fact that Toronto has no idea what they’re doing—and the entire ESPN crew jumps on it. The Raptors are such a mess. It’s amazing to believe that Villanueva went this high.

8:18 – The Knicks (to lots of yelling) take Channing Frye. Mixed reaction from the crowd. You kind of have to wonder, did they even work out guys like Granger and Green? Frye’s a skinny dude, 6-11—okay, 6-10.5—and is he strong enough to man the middle in New York? Arizona guards have been great, but the centers? Don’t be another Loren Woods, kid. The Warriors are on the clock, and they need some post work as well. Sean May would be kind of dope here.

8:25 – The Warriors take Ike Diogu—who wasn’t even invited! Way to go, NBA. He’ll work in Golden State. Still hard to believe some of the guys who haven’t been picked, and the Lakers (up next) are supposedly into Green. More importantly though, dinner just showed up. Big up, Live Bait! (And shut up, Coach K!)

8:29 – Jim Gray is reporting from L.A.? No way! And it is weird to see the Lakers picking this high. And Andrew Bynum goes before Gerald Green! Not to mention Danny Granger. Vitale and Bilas are probably going to have coronaries, but they do need a center since they traded what’s his name. And he’s the youngest player ever picked? I’m really not all that sure how much I get this one if the Lakers want to be back in the playoffs next year. You get the feeling that they sent Phil Jackson back to Montana for the Draft so he wouldn’t kill someone. Hope you like the money, Phil.

8:36 – Orlando on the clock, with Gerald Green already compared to a young Tracy McGrady. Does that make them take him or not? (Hold on.) Apparently not. Fran Vasquez becomes the first non-NCAA international selection. Skinny 6-10 dude. And obviously some people who expected to be in the Lottery aren’t going to be. Couldn’t tell you naything about Fran Vasquez—and it’s hard to believe anyone else can say much either, seeing that he played by international rules against international players. He apparently doesn’t speak much English, either, which is terrific. And his translator is a cross between Manolo from Scarface and one of the dudes from Star Trek. The Clippers are on the clock.

8:44 – The Clippers take Yaroslav Korolev. What a country! I’m not sure how to react to this. Does he help the Clippers? Can anyone really help the Clippers? I do love Russian highlights, though. Bobcats are on the clock again. And Dick Vitale is quickly establishing Sean May as this year’s Jameer Nelson. He’s even supporting Gerald Green!

8:49 – The Bobcats take Sean May. Killer. Gotta love him and Felton winding up on the same team with Okafor. This is the route that worked for the Bulls—picking high-profile players from high-profile college teams. I think May’s going to be terrific, and this is a great spot for him. The Timberwolves are on the clock, last team in the Lottery, with a couple high-lottery-level guys available. I’m guessing Granger.

8:55 – And the Wolves take McCants! All Carolina guys in the Lottery. Not bad—and good-bye, Spree.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Draft Mockery (1)

So, it's going to start soon. I've got multiple windows open in Safari--this space, and The Bucks are technically on the clock, I guess, so sooner or later we'll find out whether they take Andrew Bogut or Marvin Williams. Then the Hawks can draft some guy no one’s ever heard of—or at least be sure that the blue-chip prospect they do take falls off faster than WorldCom.

It’s hard to believe this will be the last draft with high schoolers for a while. Considering that many of the best players in the League today skipped college, what’s the problem? And don’t even bring up Korleone Young and Kwame Brown or whoever. First off, you don’t need to become an All-Star to be a success. Money isn’t everything, sure, but first-round guaranteed NBA money is nothing to scoff at, even if it’s the only contract you ever sign. And kids fail sometimes? Of course! The NBA is hard. And the draft is a crapshoot. There’s no guarantee that everyone makes it. People with years of college under their belt are busts, too. And just because they went to college doesn’t mean they got an education (what’s Cincinnati’s graduation rate again?). Anyways, Gerald and co., enjoy the moment.

I’d make predictions, but the hell with it. I can’t even figure who the Bucks are gonna take, let alone the Knicks (Channing Frye).

I will say this—the Draft moving from TNT to ESPN is the worst thing ever. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING beat Charles Barkley at the Draft. Guarantee I hit the “mute” button at least once tonight.

7:00 – The NBA Draft preview show! So, we’ll see highlights of players that we’ll see even more highlights of when they get picked. The brief glimpse accorded doesn’t show any properly horrendous suits, but it DOES feature Lenny Kravitz’s timeless “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” And Luke Schenscher! Aw hell, all the suits are beige, taupe, charcoal—damn subtle earth tones. At least one person should HAVE to wear something bright every year.

7:03 – Jay Bilas speaks for the first time. Predicts Bogut No. 1. I’ve pretty much always not been able to stand Bilas, but have hated him more than ever since he dogged Josh Smith last year as he left the podium.

7:05 – Andy Katz says the Bucks will draft Bogut. I really, really hope they take Marvin. I assume they won’t, though. Bilas predicts him as a 10-year-plus All-Star player. God, I hope he sucks. Nothing against Bogut, Australia or Rick Majerus. I’m not saying he’ll be Todd Fuller or anything, but will he be David Robinson or Patrick Ewing?

7:07 – Stephen A! You’re why I’ll be going to mute soon enough, pal.

7:09 – Mark Jones with Andrew Bogut BEFORE the pick! Pre-analysis, anyone? And yeah, nice hair, Andy. Good accent, though.

7:10 – Bucher! They’ve got all the reporters out today.

7:14 – Stephen A. Smith needs a volume control…

7:15 – …and Chris Paul needs to unbutton his suit jacket.

7:15 – Stuart Scott with Deron Williams! He should be wearing a sleeveless suit to show off his tats. “Some of your critics said you’re unathletic.” Uh-huh, and I’m sure his critics could have run the point in the national championship game.

7:17 – It’s candid Raymond Felton! With all three of his Carolina green room teammates! And there hasn’t even been a pick yet! This Draft is WAY overcovered. Already. And I’ve been to the last couple of them—this one just seems worse. Maybe because I’m not there.

7:19 – Please, please, PLEASE, someone stop the Coach K. commercials. Didn’t the Pistons lose this year anyway? THEY’RE NOT CHAMPIONS ANYMORE.


The Spurs won the NBA Championship, in case you missed it.

My aunt passed away on Friday, so I haven't had all that much time to update--and I thought I'd be at the Draft tonight, which would have meant an even longer gap. However, due to some vague miscommunication, I don't have a credential. So instead, I'll sit here on my couch in the AC and keep a running diary of the whole damn thing (apologies to Bill Simmons).

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

What About Bob?

Well, I was right for once--the Pistons stomped the Spurs again in Game Four. And technically I was right in my prediction for Game Five as well, even though I didn't post it. I didn't really have much of a handle on who was going to win, but figured it was going to be a dogfight. The Pistons needed to win Game Five to have a chance in the series, and the Spurs needed to win to lock it up (and get some momentum going back home). And while Tim Duncan's numbers didn't truly reflect his subpar game, Robert Horry--who's become an NBA big-moment Zelig--was there to save the day.

Not that I saw it. Sunday being Father's Day--and the day my younger sister, her husband, and their two-year-old son were due in town from Illinois--I made the hour and a half train ride out to Eastern Long Island for the day. It was quite the All-American day--beer, barbecue and baseball, followed by the NBA nightcap. Thanks to the 9-whatever tipoff, I ended up leaving during the third quarter, with the Spurs seemingly in control. Of course, they weren't, and roughly halfway back to the City I received a text message from one of my usual watching companions stating "Overtime?" I, of course, had no idea what was going on. This is when I realized the AM/FM radio iPod attachment would probably be a decent investment.

So yeah, the best game of the Finals thus far, and I missed the key parts of it. Of course tomorrow will be just another blowout, followed by a lockout, and the next time I see an exciting NBA game will be in six months. (Actually, I think tomorrow's game will be close, and if there is a lockout, it won't last very long.) Will we see a Game Seven? I doubt it. At this point the Spurs just want to get this over with. They dodged a bullet last night and they know it.

The more interesting question right now is this: Assuming the Spurs do finish the Pistons tomorrow night, who gets MVP? Manu Ginobili had those great games 1 and 2, but hasn't really done all that much the rest of the way. Duncan? Nah. Tony Parker? Probably not. Right now, why not Horry? Has anyone won the Finals MVP for their performance in one game? For that matter, one HALF of one game? And if not, why not now?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Pist off.

OK, so maybe I was wrong. Like, REALLY wrong. Even if Manu Ginobili hadn't been hobbled like Paul Sheldon in the first 24 seconds of Game Three, the Pistons had it locked up from the opening tip. Rather, from the Ben Wallace breakaway dunk with Nazr Mohammed holding his off hand like he was a school crossing guard. The Pistons came out with serious energy and confidence, and if they do that again tonight, well--this might be a close series after all. If they lose, of course, it's a wrap anyway. But I think we're going into Game Five tied up. (Not that what I think means anything.)

We still got Florida weather in Manhattan--steamy days with thunderstorms in the afternoon. A mess, in other words. It has cooled off of late, though, so at least it's not the blast furnace it was earlier in the week. I actually have the AC off at the moment with the windows open. Rolling out soon to watch the game at the usual spot, with the 'Sheed Portland '77 throwback that worked last game. We'll see.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Hot Spurs.

Yes, that's an intentional Tottenham reference. If nothing else, they're the favorite team of the reigning NBA MVP, and that's good enough for me. Then again, I'm an Arsenal supporter and the Hotspur wear skin-tight kit, so Steve Nash will have to root alone.

Well, it's starting to look like the NBA Finals might not last very long after all. So much for the close matchup. It's not just that the Spurs won the first two games--it's that they won them both by considerable margins, exploiting the vaunted Detroit defense and making an absolute mess of the Pistons' already questionable offense. Manu Ginobili looks like an MVP, and the Pistons don't look much like the defending champions. When the biggest offensive spurts are coming from Antonio McDyess, well...that's not a team that's going to be able to make a comeback. Tonight is the ultimate test. Win or stay home. I think the Pistons definitely make a better showing tonight, but the Spurs have momentum and confidence on their side. The best we might be able to hope for is a lot of Darko in a somewhat meaningless Game Four.


Not for nothing, but I've never really understood why NBA teams (and teams in every other sport, for that matter) sign a coach for X number of seasons, then fire them after their first, however disappointing. Yes, to succeed a team needs to win games and fill the seats. But one would hope that a coach would be hired for his methods and his philosophy, not to fill some arbitrary win quota. And one would also hope that a franchise would allow time for a new coach to implement his methods and philosophy, not just bail on him as soon as the record (and the local media) demanded it. Of course there will always be bad hires. But maybe some just need more time.

One that strangely enough is getting a second run is Phil Jackson in Los Angeles, as reported earlier today. It's some Hollyweirdness on par with the antics of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes (Katie! Get out while you still can!). I'd give a good chunk of change to be present at that first Laker team meeting this summer. Will Kobe apologize to Phil? Will Phil apologize to Kobe? Will Phil and LO toke up in the trainer's room? And of course most importantly, will the triangle work without Shaq?

Tell you what, I'd like to see Phil bring in Kareem and Magic as assistants--not only to share their accumulated Showtime wisdom, but for Magic to counsel Kobe on a more regular basis. Getting him out of the TNT booth will be a bonus--the unintentional comedy just isn't worth it anymore. Despite Kobe's presence, this will easily be the worst team Jackson has ever coached in the NBA. And other teams won't be in a rush to help them through trades. It'll be interesting to see how all involved handle this. I just hope that midway through the season Jeannie Buss dumps Phil for Mike Dunleavy.


Still hotter than blazes in New York City--which is why I'm sitting home watching Top Gun. (How the heck would Tim Robbins fit in a fighter jet anyway?) It's about to end, though, so I'll probably go out for a quick road ride before recovering for the game tonight.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


At some point tonight, someone (probably Bill Walton) will declare that Game Two is a "must-win" game for Detroit. And while that may be correct (it's hard to imagine anyone taking four of five against the Spurs), it's still infuriating. Why? Because if the Spurs DO win tonight, they've just done what they were supposed to. Win at home. And if the Pistons defend their home court, they come back to San Antonio needing to only win one of two. So the whole "must win" thing is a bit of an overstatement.

How much does ABC miss Marv Albert? I've been following the playoffs at a bar downtown, so I'm just reading the closed captions, but Bill Walton STILL sucks. I wonder if Marv even watches the Finals, or if it's just too depressing. I can just picture him in his crib, downstairs in front of a 65" plasma, sound off, doing the games by himself, or maybe with the Czar and Steve Kerr on speakerphone. I would totally pay for an alternate commentary channel to be able to hear that.

Still hotter'n all hell in New York, complete with the humidity of death and near-daily afternoon thunderstorms. I knew Manhattan was an island, but I wasn't aware that it was a tropical one. And after much procrastination and general laziness, I finally put my air conditioner in today. I think I'll just leave it in this winter, cover it up or something. Because by not putting it in until now, I probably haven't had a good night's sleep in over a week. Oh well.

Tonight should be good, though--cool apartment, and I blew the dust off my vintage Slim Chance road bike by riding the westside path from Prince Street all the way up to 125th and then back home. Probably 12 miles or so. Maybe more. Nice ride, made better by the fact that the sun was going down. Lots of people out, breeze coming off the water, no rain. I've also been pondering pitching something--anything--to one or more of the bike magazines out there. I ride basically everything, and I've obviously been published before. It would be good to get away from ball for a while and write about track bikes or downhill or BMX or anything. Got a few ideas I'm kicking around.

But for now I need to grab a much-needed shower and head back downtown to catch the game. I think San Antonio holds serve tonight--that first-quarter stumble in Game One is what will be on their minds as they take the floor, not the fact that they wound up winning the game. They'll come out strong, and Detroit will be hard-pressed to keep up. The thing is, San Antonio can win defensive battles OR shoot outs, and Detroit isn't strong enough offensively to compete when the pace picks up. (They're probably better offensively than people give them credit for, but they're not as good as San Antonio.) Staying with San Antonio in six, waiting to celebrate back home.

Google: Chris Chance

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


It's funny--my main man Lang Whitaker over at linked to me (again--big ups!) on Monday lookin' to start some sort of Hatfield and McCoy business. Which ain't such a terrible idea, despite his couple-year head start with the writing every day thing. (Harder than it looks, no doubt--I'm gonna need to start snorting Adderall just to try and stay on track once in my life.) And perhaps we could do dueling running diaries of one of the Finals games, just for the heck of it. At the very least, I'm sure we'll both post extensive notes on our respective sites following the Draft.

But reading his running commentary from Game Seven of the Heat/Pistons series brought to mind a moment late in the fourth quarter that he surprisingly DIDN'T mention. It was Pistons ball, and Udonis Haslem sagged off Rasheed Wallace to double someone in the post. Sheed stepped behind the three-point line, caught a pass, and wetted the shot. As he backpedaled upcourt, you could clearly see him yelling "YOU DON'T WANNA LEAVE ME!*" He said it twice, loud as can be. And that's why we all love Sheed.

Lang shared more of his thoughts on Sheed in his Monday column for, and he's had more interaction with him than I have. Sheed remains an enigma wrapped in a headband. But if I had to pick a favorite NBA player, damn, he's right there.

* The actual words may be slightly inaccurate, owing to human (my) error, but the sentiment is correct.

Google: Thelonious Monk

Finals thoughts.

Another humid 90 degree day in NYC. I feel like we've gone from April directly to August. Again. Spring is just the windy, rainy time before it gets ungodly hot. Stupid weather. I was actually tempted to take the laptop to Starbucks today for the air conditioning alone (I still haven't put mine in), but was too lazy to do even that. Instead I'm home watching Hellboy. Quality.

Rather than actually preview the Finals, which pretty much every other pundit under the sun has already done (in 3,000 words or more), I figured I'd just give 10 reasons each why I'd like to see either team win. Oh yeah, Spurs in 5.


1. It'll pretty much end the "greatest power forward of all time" debate. Tim Duncan might already be able to claim the title, seeing that he already has two to Charles Barkley and Karl Malone's combined zero. His third in eight years, together with his sublimely efficient game would basically lock it up. And he's not even 30!

2. Gregg Popovich is the NBA's coolest coach. The one-time Air Force man has the drollest sense of humor of anyone walking the sidelines today. Win or lose he's good, but considering that his opponent is the world's greatest opportunist, I'm going with Pop.

3. Bob Horry gets another ring. This would be his sixth (with three different teams) tying him with Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan. Sure, he's somewhat of a mercenary, and he's had the good fortune to play with Hakeem, Shaq AND Duncan in their primes. But yeah, it's probably been worth it. And despite all of his high-profile teammates, he's done far more than just tag along for the ride.

4. Charles Barkley will get to yell GINO-BILI more. Sure, he won't be on TV when he does it, but we'll all know it anyway.

5. Make Larry Brown leave town after coming up short. Good luck, LeBron!

6. Save Detroit money on street signs. What would it be next? Four Championship Way?

7. May offense triumph over defense. Of course the Spurs can defend as well (see: Bowen, Bruce), but after the way they ran with the Suns, that's the style I want to see end up with the trophy.

8. Eva Longoria celebrating on the court.

9. Because Larry Brown's a scumbag.

10. Because my Mom is a Spurs fan. It's mostly because of Steve Kerr, but she's stayed true. Now she's the one calling me about games.


1. Rasheed Wallace. I might need to cop that 36 jersey soon regardless. He's gotta do something about that mangy-looking beard, though. Well, if he wants. I ain't telling 'Sheed what to do.

2. Because Darko Milicic would have two rings while Barkley, Malone, Patrick Ewing, Kevin Garnett, Allen Iverson and Gary Payton have a combined zero. And LeBron hasn't made the playoffs yet.

3. Because Joe Dumars always was the coolest Bad Boy. (Is Puffy paying royalties to the Pistons?)

4. Because even though Larry Brown's a scumbag, he still went to North Carolina.

5. Because maybe if he wins another ring and gets a bigger extension, Tayshaun Prince could afford a proper meal.

6. Because of Rip Hamilton's mask and mid-range game.

7. Because the West has won enough championships lately.

8. Because it'll be WAY more awkward for Larry Brown to leave town whilst being the defending champ.

9. If Detroit wins, maybe not as much of the city will end up on fire.

10. Because all of picked the Spurs.

More later tonight. On what, I don't know.

Google this: Bill Mlkvy

Monday, June 06, 2005

Making sense is overrated.

I'm sticking with my earlier prediction that Detroit wins Game Seven tonight. I know I picked Miami in the mag--and were Shaq and Wade healthy, I would still be looking their way--but Detroit is just too poised and prepared (and uninjured) to lose this one. Besides, it'll be good to see Rasheed in the Finals again, especially with his temper as on-edge as it's been as of late. I do kind of hope that Alonzo Mourning accidentally pops Larry Brown with an over-emphatic fist pump (just stop it already, Zo--we get it).

NYC officially bypassed spring once again, proceeding directly to throw-a-garbage-can-through-the-window-of-Sal's-Famous heat and humidity. Made me want to break out a Jackie Robinson jersey and some Air Trainer IIIs. Instead, did a couple errands on my track bike--and changed shirts every time I stopped home. I mean, it's DISGUSTING out. And tomorrow's supposed to hit 90. Joy. Also read a bunch of the new STRIKER today, which includes a Diego Maradona boardgame by yours truly. Some really good stuff in there.

I'm still trying to figure out which direction to take this thing in, especially once the NBA season ends. I'll probably just continue to ramble, seeing that finding a focus rarely seems to be my strong point. (As I type this I'm watching Dogtown And Z-Boys for the umpteenth time.) And speaking of which, why did Stacy Peralta have to put out a movie--Lords Of Dogtown--that's essentially a recreation of the stories told in the documentary? I mean, he started Powell Peralta and was responsible for putting together the Bones Brigade--including Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Lance Mountain, etc.--in the mid '80s. Where's the movie on that? Theyre must be SO much extra footage from all the old videos. Gimme a documentary, anything. I guess it would be almost a sequel to Dogtown, and a companion piece to Stoked (the Gator Rogowski story, which a) is awesome and b) includes first SLAM EIC Cory Johnson, who looks nothing like I imagined he would).

I've decided against doing the mockery Draft, just because mock drafts are stupid enough on their own. I'm guessing that the Milwaukee Bucks don't know exactly who they're going to pick yet, so why should I read someone else's speculations for the entire first round? Hell, Peter Vescey usually gets some picks wrong ON DRAFT NIGHT. That said, if I'm the Bucks, I'm taking Marvin Williams. Sorry, Andy.

Russell Crowe got arrested for being violent with an underling? No!

Also, from now on I'll close off with something (a name or whatever) for you to punch into Google. They'll be no rhyme or reason, just things I find interesting. (And speaking about interesting and Google, turn off "safe search" and image search just about anything--it'll change your life, and not necessarily for the better.) Anyway, today: Michael Sieben.

I'm an idiot.

Somehow I just double-posted. Actually, I clicked "back" to change the time and must have been a little too late. Alas.

Carry on.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Larry Brown is a scumbag.

Yep, I said it. Even though the man is a Tar Heel who learned everything he could from the Master himself, and is probably the best b-ball coach working today, I wouldn't trust him with my pet hamster (if I had one, which I don't).

Isn't his history telling enough? Sure, he's won everywhere he's been. But he's been everywhere! I still don't know what the heck the Pistons were thinking when they signed him to a five-year deal. Five years? He should be on rotating one-year contracts--a perpetual lame duck, ready to pack up and leave town at a moment's notice. Even better, just pay him by the hour. Would that be any less of a distraction than interviewing for a front-office position with a division rival DURING the Eastern Conference Finals?

As a coach during the playoffs, you need to tell your team to stay focused and block out all distractions. Which is a harder point to make when you're heading out to job interviews. He's just lucky that the Pistons are a tough bunch unlikely to be distracted by much of anything. Well, except for Rasheed, who occasionally seems distracted by everything.

And who knows how the Cavs thing could work out anyway. Does LeBron REALLY want his GM to be a guy who wouldn't play him during the Olympics, despite his obvious talent? Does Mike Brown REALLY want to coach under LB, getting second-guessed all day, e'ry day, not knowing when the boss is going to decide to take over on the floor as well? For that matter, does LB REALLY want to end up in an office instead of on the sidelines?

Despite all of that--and despite the fact that Game Seven is in Miami--I think the Pistons get through to the Finals for the second straight year. With the injuries they have, and after the wipeout last night, the Heat just look overmatched. But even without the fun of Shaq and D. Wade, it should be a terrific Finals. Well-matched teams with fundamentally sound players and loose cannons alike. Some games might even see both teams break 100! At least, I hope so.

An aside, was anyone else disappointed that Gregg Popovich wasn't Deep Throat?