Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Kill Your Television

Read something not too long ago (maybe on MSNBC) about how watching television is unhealthy. Something to do with all the negative images and whatnot. Sounded good to me. So, for the next week, at least, my goal is to limit my television viewing to 15 minutes of NY1 in the morning (Pat Kiernan, represent!) and NBA games at night. OK, and maybe some NFL on Sunday and Monday. Regardless, no more leaving on The Devil's Advocate for the 973rd time as background noise ("I'm a FAN of MAN!!!!"). We'll see how it goes.

I guess I should be at the Garden tonight for Knicks/Bulls, but I kind of forgot about it until it was too late. Funny how that works—normally I'd be all over this game. Have to holla at Kirk Hinrich later (and catch the results tomorrow A.M. in the Post). Won't be around LeaguePass or MSG tonight, unfortunately.

I may have mentioned this already, but it bears re-mentioning—Danger Doom's The Mouse And The Mask is the year's best album. Get it. I haven't even seen Aqua Teen Hunger Force and I think it's awesome. MF Doom is the best MC alive. Yeah, I said it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Shawn from the dead.

I don't even know if I can do this or not, but I actually wanted to try and post a link here (yeah, I'm blog illiterate). My main man Lang Whitaker over at SLAMonline has no doubt linked to this as well, but I figure this deserves as much exposure as it can get.

  • Prepare for Reign.
  • Dammit.

    So I re-read a little of my last entry and realize that I used the word "inevitable" in consecutive sentences while talking about the Knicks. That's why I need an editor. I mean, I WAS an editor (and hopefully will be again someday so my college edumacation doesn't go entirely to waste), but it still helps to have someone read over my stuff. Please feel free to point out that kind of stuff if you're reading this—I promise I won't get embarassed much.

    Much like Eminem, I'm spending part of today cleaning out my closet. I have a somewhat small walk-in that's been completely infested with sneakers and t-shirts. I swear to God they're breeding in there. Cleared 30 t-shirts and nine or 10 pairs of sneakers today, and I'm not sure it'll make a damn bit of difference. I did make a pact with my girl that we wouldn't buy any clothes for ourselves this month, so we'll see how that goes. At least I'll be able to sate my compulsive urge to buy stuff through Christmas shopping (which I haven't started yet).

    I was going to go to Philly with Lang tonight to catch the Sixers/Blazers, but it's not happening now. Would have been my fifth NBA arena this season, too. Oh well, I'll get there. I'd like to see games in 10 different arenas this season, if possible. Philly and Boston will be easy enough. And I'll be tempted to JetBlue it to L.A. at some point. Gotta see where else they fly, too. Pretty sure they do Miami, and I've actually never seen a game there. Hmm.

    Monday, November 28, 2005

    Where was I?

    Um, yeah, sorry about that. It's a good thing no one's life depends on this getting updated every day, or someone would be dead. Then again, judging from the comments it seems like the only "people" reading this are out to sell me something anyway. Sigh.

    So, for the past two weeks I've been off doing this, that and the other thing (mostly the other thing), with trips to Oakland and Oklahoma tossed in (not just because they sounded alike). Caught NBA games in both cities, as well as Thanksgiving with the family in Norman, OK. It's also been in the 60s here (and 70 in Oklahoma), so I've been trying to do stuff outside—yeah, global warming's a myth Michael Crichton, you gangly bastard.

    If you follow at all, you'd have seen my dispatches from Oakland and Oklahoma on The Links. Which is another reason why I haven't been posting as much here. Not much of an excuse, I know, but sort of one? I mean, it's not like I didn't have Internet access on the road. (I do need to get that Apple AirPort setup so I can be wireless, though. Maybe this week.)

    Anyway, here's 10 things I like about the NBA right now:

    10) Jeff Van Gundy running the Rockets into the ground: With Yao rested and the Stro Show in town, the Rockets were supposed to be second only to the Spurs in the West—especially with Amare Stoudemire sidelined with Penny surgery. Instead they're what, 3-11, on an eight-game slide. T-Mac's back is acting up again, Yao has some sort of a weird neck beard, and Charlie Ward retired. My big hope is that Van Gundy gets fired and replaced by assistant coach Patrick Ewing.

    9) Chris Paul is gangsta: While I detest George Shinn and Byron Scott, I have nothing against the Hornets players, and Chris "CP3" Paul is one hell of a player. If I lived in Oklahoma City—well, I'd move, but if I HAD to stay there, I'd definitely get season tickets, and Paul would be the number one reason why. Baron Davis has been killing it in Golden State (I'll get to him), but the Hornets did just fine. (Andrew Bogut has been ill, too, as far as rooks go.)

    8) The Clippers are better than the Lakers: Who knew? Actually, everyone should have known that the Lakers would suck (and Kobe would be taking all the shots), but the Clippers being this good? With Sam Cassell running the show? There's obviously plenty of time for this all to blow up, so enjoy it while you can. The Lakers will probably stay a mess, though—wonder what Phil Jackson will call his next book? "Zen And The Art Of Kwame Brown Maintenance"?

    7) The Warriors might be the best team in California: What? When was the last time that happened? (Maybe sometime during Run-TMC post-Magic.) But with the Lakers plodding, the Kings imploding and the Clippers—well, the Clippers just CAN'T be the best team in Cali—it's all up to the Warriors. The late season trade for Baron Davis added swagger, and lottery pick Ike Diogu (once he recovered from his broken hand) added strength. Jason Richardson is one of the L's most athletic 2s, and Troy Murphy is a hell of a shot for a big man. Plus, college transplant Mike Montgomery can actually coach in the pros! Oakland, stand up.

    6) Where in the world is Latrell Sprewell?: To be honest, I keep thinking I'm going to see him behind a Starbucks counter, or driving a cab. I mean, he needs to feed his family, right? It's obvious that he could be helping out somewhere, but after being "insulted" by the Wolves offer of a three-year, $21 million extension, it's likely he's going to need to take the veteran minimum somewhere to prove he's not a bad guy. Um, except for the whole coach choking thing. The only downside to Spree being out of the League is that KG looks absolutely MISERABLE in Minnesota. Sorry, Ticket.

    5) Ron Artest's hair: Just when you think he can't get any crazier, he goes and gets all Anthony Mason/MC Serch on us. Ron's the best.

    4) The ongoing success of the Detroit Pistons sans Larry Brown: Flip Saunders might not be the defensive genius LB is, but he's taken the shackles off the offense, and the Pistons look like they're having a hell of a time out there. Time will tell whether they'll have the same intensity in the playoffs, but as of right now they're the team to beat in the East.

    3) LeBron James: Leads the Cavs to eight straight wins, including one where he went for a 30-plus point triple-double. Kid's 20 and he's already the best in the L, or at least right there with them. If he doesn't peak until 28 or so, I'm terrified to think how he's going to rewrite the record books.

    2) The Knicks: What's not to like? The terrible start, the "trade Stephon" rumors after four games, the emergence of rookies Channing Frye and Nate Robinson as key components of a Larry "I Hate Rookies" Brown-coached team, the predictable injury-riddled pivot combo of Eddy Curry and Jerome James, the inevitable retirement of Allan Houston. Can't wait for the trades to start—as well as the inevitable power struggle between Isiah and LB.

    1) Pau Gasol's beard: How do you say "Grizzly Adams" in Spanish?

    Friday, November 11, 2005

    On second thought...'s midnight. The second half is for ME. No more blogging for tonight.



    Well, this is sort of a dream Finals rematch from last season, except for the fact that Phoenix is missing 3/5 of last year's starting lineup. Boris Diaw, you're no Q Rich, even if you're wearing his number. Curious to see whether Detroit will push the tempo—Flipping it, so to speak. Then again, trying to keep up with the Suns isn't a good idea, Amare or not. 8-2 out the gate, Steve Nash putting in work.

    I miss Kurt Thomas in New York. Bet Larry Brown does, too. In fact, I'd rather have him than Eddy Curry AND Jerome James, but maybe that's just me.

    Wonder if Rip Hamilton even feels that mask anymore? And does he wear it everywhere? That's the kind of NBA promo spot we need—Rip's mask protecting him from everyday hazards, like mosquitos and too-hot coffee. 12-up.

    The AmericaWest court still might be the illest in the L. Contrasting stain is what's up.

    Rasheed Wallace might not be wearing Air Force 1s? It's hard to tell, but they look more...modern. Come on, cameras. Wait, or was I looking at Ben? Hard to believe I'd confuse the two, but I need to take a closer look.

    Oh yeah, the Heat won.

    The fact that the Pistons still have the same starting lineup that won the '04 title definitely should scare a lot of other teams, including the Spurs. They haven't made any real changes (except for Larry Brown, which might actually be a change for the better, before they tuned him out) and the young guys (read: Darko) may actually contribute this year. If they play Indy again, it should be a dogfight. Again.

    OK, Sheed is wearing 1s, he's just got the straps hanging off the back. Gangsta.

    Someone needs to tell Mike D'Antoni that, while it might have flown in Europe, the mustache just has to go. Stan "Hedgehog" Van Gundy can keep his, though.

    If Kurt Thomas and Ben Wallace got into a fight, the only writers qualified to cover it would be Homer and Virgil.

    Eddie House is on the Suns? Had no idea. And not only does James Jones have the same initials as Joe Johnson, but he sort of looks like him. He should demand a $70 million extension or a trade to the Hawks. Meanwhile, Brian Grant can rock down to Electric Avenue. Eddie House is dressed as Jason Terry.

    Rasheed Wallace might have a spot on the All-Beard team, along with Baron Davis and first-year starter Pau Gasol. Maybe Rip and Ricky Davis at the two and three. And Brian Winters as the coach (llok up some old shots of him, you won't regret it. Actually, you might regret it a lot.) I'm probably forgetting someone super-obvious, but that's what I get for not doing any research. Oh yeah, Scot Pollard and Marc Jackson get spots on the bench. And it's too bad Vlade retired.

    Maurice Evans gets the long rebound, and when they just say "Evans," I can't remember who it is. Reggie? Heshimu? Oh yeah, Maurice. Stupid old age.

    Whenever I watch Antonio McDyess jump I can't help but wince with the anticipation of his kneecaps shooting out of his knees and skittering across the floor.

    Carlos Delfino and Carlos Arroyo get in before Darko Milicic, who I ASSUME is active. The good thing is, now that he has to wear a tie (or at least a collared shirt) on game days he can practice his "no respect" Rodney Dangerfield routine.

    Ron Harper is an assistant with the Pistons? Had no idea.

    Weird—of the 10 guys on the floor, only Shawn Marion and Carlos Delfino are on their original NBA teams (and have never been traded, I should add—Nash was originally a Sun).

    Two-point game with 4:37 to go in the 2nd quarter. This should go to the wire. The game's more to Detroit's tempo, lots of half-court sets.

    OK, not only is Sheed wearing Air Force 1s, but they're HIDEOUS. Ostrich toepiece, blue patent around the ankle and red patent around the heel, white leather everywhere else. Horrible. Photos of them have been floating around for weeks, but I always figured they were just horrific counterfeits. Shows what I know.

    Um, Boris Diaw (pronounced DEE-OW) looks a billion times better as a Sun than he did as a Hawk. Sure everyone in the ATL (and Lang) are thrilled about that.

    Tied at 52 at the half. I love this game. No, THIS game.

    More after the half.

    Well, Heat/Rockets then.

    Actually, without T-Mac and Shaq, I've said all I can for now. Be back for Pistons/Suns.


    Joining the action with 1:34 left in the first and the score tied at 23. Somehow, this is the only NBA game on tonight. Which is, of course, the only reason I'm watching it. Heck, it was either this or the end of "Superman II." And I know what happens in that.

    It's just too bad that Shaun Livingtson is out (again), because he is really fun to watch—and he was looking even better this summer. But still, can't complain too much. Instead we've got Sam Cassell, Elton "Perennial All-Star Except He's A Clipper" Brand, Corey Maggette Cat Mobley and Chris Wilcox. Then, on the other side, Marvin Williams, Al Harrington, Josh Smith and Joe Johnson, who should have found a way to wear No. 70,000,000 this year.

    Steve Smith is announcing, which is rad. Always liked Smitty, he was gracious to a fault as a player and was always a class act. Still is.

    Zeljko Rebraca? Daniel Ewing? Quinton Ross? These are your Los Angeles Clippers. Bummer that Daniel Ewing isn't wearing No. 33. Or Ewings, for that matter. Hell, if he came out in Ewings, he'd be my favorite player in the L, Blue Devil or not.

    Is Tyronn Lue on the Hawks because of his championship experience?

    The Hawks animated/live action promo spot is good, I guess, but "Rise Up"? What other choice do they have?

    There's someone named "Edwards" playing center for the Hawks—No. 54—and I have absolutely no idea who he is. None. He's replaced by Zaza Pachulia, who really should have signed with a playoff team. Or at least an NBA one.

    If I played in the NBA, I'd rock everything. Headband, tall socks, wristbands, fingerwraps, calf sleeve, elbow sleeve, ankle braces, compression shorts, knee straps. Everything.

    The Hawks announcer who's not Steve Smith goes on an extended riff about Corey Maggette's body, and I don't blame him. He ever goes to Greece, the damn statues are gonna start working out. It's ridiculous. He dives to save a ball, the seats'll move out of the way.

    The Clippers are up 10, and I'm not sure how. The stands are half-empty, but that's no mystery.

    It's good to see that Josh Childress is letting his afro come back. Wouldn't be right without it.

    I know he's been gone for a while now, but it's a shame that Jeff McInnis isn't a Clipper anymore. I don't mean it in a bad way, but he just seemed like a Clipper. Ditto for Q and D Miles.

    Four-point game.

    Cassell and Cat is a pretty decent backcourt, actually. Sam I Am needs to rehab his rep, Cat needs to show he can thrive without his partner in, uh, crime, Franchise. And with Wilcox, Brand and Maggette, there are plenty of assists to be had. Can't see the Clips cracking the playoffs, but they're gonna ruin a lot of people's nights. The Hawks, of course, are quite capable of ruining their own nights, thank you.

    Can't remember whether the Stoudamire on the Hawks is Damon or Salim. I could look it up, but why? I assume he'll score at some point.

    Chris Kaman's hair is impressively awful. (And it's Salim—just got a good look at him. I guess I'll have to look up where Damon is.) Al Harrington tries to draw a charge on Maggette, which is basically like trying to draw a charge on an 18-wheeler. Adding insult to injury, he gets whistled for the block.

    The Hawks guys seem surprised that Maggette has started quickly after missing a month, but then again they didn't see him balling this summer. I did, and I can safely say he would have been ready had the season started in July. He doesn't take time off.

    Someone on the Hawks has some ILL adidas. The team might be bad, but they've got a great arena and good colors. So there's that.

    You can't help but admire Mike Dunleavy's commitment to the Rileyesque slicked-back do despite his obvious deficiencies.

    Halftime. 50-47, Clips. And ha ha, I totally forgot that there was a doubleheader on TNT. Right now it's Heat/Rockets without Shaq or T-Mac, which honestly may be less compelling than the Hawks/Clips. OK, so maybe not, but I'm committed to this game. I think. Then again, it IS halftime. Guess I could change over for a while.

    OK, this is bad. I haven't watched the new-look Heat yet, and the first possession I see has Antoine Walker and Jason Williams dribbling out the shot clock, with J Will losing it on a travel. Dwyane Wade, off in the corner, doesn't touch the ball. This is not good.

    Yao Ming gets swatted by Zo, which is just plain embarassing. Not sure what he has to do, but Yao has to get MEAN. He hits layups on the next two possessions, but he needs to be dunking on people.

    Can't say I ever thought Jeff Van Gundy would be coaching Rafer Alston. Is there a weirder coach/player combination in the League? Well, except Larry Brown and all of the Knicks, of course.

    Antoine Walker, 3; Antoine Walker, airball 3. That's my Toine.

    Yao's neck beard is quite disturbing. Two fouls in four minutes though, and who wants to sex Mutombo?

    Pretty cool that Juwan Howard and Alonzo Mourning are on the court at the same time—two of the first $100 million men. It's hard to believe that anyone ever thought Juwan Howard was worth $100 million, but hey, these things happen.

    Jeez, with those two, Deke and now Gary Payton on the court at the same time—what years is this?

    The chances of my watching any of the rest of the Hawks/Clips game are somewhere between slim and none.

    You know what would be shocking, Craig Sager? Come out one night in a grey pinstriped suit and a solid tie. Plain white shirt. Wingtips.

    Marv Albert, Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller in the booth. Either team would probably take Reggie right now. Actually, there's no probably about it.

    Derek Anderson's cornrows look familiar—did AI have that pattern once? Someone did. Guess you can't patent hair designs. Although Anthony Mason should have.

    What the hell? The Heineken sports update looks like it's coming FROM hell. What's with the red mist?

    Whoops, lost some time there. It doesn't really look like that Zo's lost much. I still think he's a loser for bailing out on New Jersey, but he's definitely still got some game. Going after shots like it was 1993, snuffing Stromile Swift like he was some high school kid.

    Yao's hair is...commie. Or something. Also, he's really, really, really tall.

    It's still amazingly hard to believe that Jeff and Stan Van Gundy share the same parents.

    I'm going to post this at halftime so if Safari crashes I won't have a nervous breakdown. Not that anyone will really care (or notice) one way or the other.

    Soooo many new guys on both of these teams, it's actually confusing. Also, David Wesley looks like Marco Pantani.

    Mourning goes after EVERY SHOT inside. It would be funny if he wasn't catching a bunch of them. Actually, he's only got three blocks, but it seems like more.

    Reggie Miller just murked a Run-DMC lyric. It's "kill my dog, I'ma SLAY your cat." I think.

    Yao misses a dunk, which is just plain absurd.

    48-44 Miami at the half.

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005


    Sprained hell out of my left ankle on Friday, so I really haven't been moving around much. Off the bikes for sure, and walking ain't much fun either. Don't even get me started on stairs. Just been days of icepacks and Epsom salt soaking. And the same Aircast I've had for the past 10 years or so. My ankles have been a disaster since way back in high school—limping is pretty much a bi-monthly activity. I probably should have gone through physical therapy at some point, but what fun would that have been? Instead, I'll probably be arthritic by 40. Can't wait.

    So thank God for League Pass. Watched a little of the Hawks/Lakers—long enough to see Marvin Williams yoke one on Kwame Brown, who hasn't been doing much to polish his oh-so-tarnished reputation. Hint to Kwame: If Phil writes a book after this season, don't read it. On the other hand, Kobe Bryant seems to be suffering no ill effects after being bashed in print. In fact, he could end up having his best season ever if he keeps it up. The Lakers might miss the playoffs anyway, but it sure won't be Kobe's fault.

    The more compelling game, however, was in Milwaukee, where the undefeated Bucks were taking on the revamped Golden State Warriors. It's possible that no team got better this offseason than the Bucks. They essentially added two lottery picks, in No. 1 guy Andrew Bogut and returned point guard T.J. Ford, who missed all of last season with a spinal injury (yet somehow didn't lose a step). They signed the League's Most Improved player in swingman Bobby Simmons, and then were able to trade exciting yet redundant Desmond Mason to the Hornets for All-Star center Jamaal Magloire. Factor in the ever-improving Michael Redd, and Milwaukee is looking like a tough second-round out. At least.

    The Warriors didn't add as many bodies, but the one they did add—point guard Baron Davis, at the end of last season—made all the difference. Inserting him into the lineup was like flipping on a switch, as everyone came alive. They didn't have enough time to make the playoffs, but the Warriors were an entirely different team for the last month. (They do have four rookies as well—Ike Diogu, who's been sidelined since early October with a fractured left hand; Monta Ellis, who hasn't played; Aaron Miles, who's been solid in spot minutes; and Chris Taft, who has already gotten real minutes but has yet to hit a free throw.)

    A couple years ago, this wasn't a matchup you'd have wanted to watch. But now, with matchups like Jason Richardson and Redd, Troy Murphy and Bogut, even Simmons and Dunleavy, this is damn near a marquee matchup. Much better for a true fan than a more heralded-sounding one like Celtics/Lakers. Just some thoughts on the game.

    • Troy Murphy is a beast. 6-11 lefty with touch from outside and a banger's body? Just in case you didn't realize, he averaged a double-double last season (16 and 10), and he's just the tip of the Warriors young big iceberg: Andris Biedrins, Taft, Zarko Cabarkaba, and the hopefully soon-to-be-back Diogu. Murph is super-deadly, especially on the screen and roll with Baron (who I absolutely refuse to call Boom Dizzle).

    • Baron Davis, injuries aside, is electrifying. Still got that athleticism, which is what separates him from other points like JKidd and Steve Nash. The closest comparison is Stephon Marbury, but Baron is much more of a pure point. Not that he can't hit the step-back jumper or yoke it on guys a foot taller. Still, it's his health that will make the difference.

    • Chris Taft may have been picked late (42nd overall), but the Pitt product has shown the same flashes of athleticism and shot-blocking prowess that made him a prospect in the first place. As a bonus, he's not Adonal Foyle.

    • Calbert Cheaney is still on the Warrior roster?

    • If Dominique Wilkins is the Human Highlight Film, then Michael Redd is the Human Instructional Video. Is there anyone out there who shoots better? Especially with Reggie Miller and Allan Houston retired, it's hard to think of someone with a sweeter stroke. Except for maybe Ray Allen, who was of course his predecessor. How lucky is that? The closest comparison I can come up with is AC/DC—Bon Scott dies, they get Brian Johnson, and release "Back In Black" less than a year later. Never skipped a beat.

    • T. J. Ford is unbelievable. Misses well over a year with spinal problems, and comes back in mid-season form. Talk about not skipping a beat. Ford is a blur on the court, connecting perfectly with a whole mess of guys he's never played with. Mo Williams as his backup isn't too shabby, either.

    • I was wrong about Andrew Bogut. So wrong. Didn't think he was first-pick worthy, thought Marvin Williams would be better. And Marv might end up being the better player, in the long run. But for out-the-box NBA performance, Bogut is the man. Seventeen boards—eight offensive—in his third game? Crazy. He still looks like a giant Owen Wilson, though.

    • The Bucks got Jamaal Magloire for what? Desmond Mason and a first-round pick? ROBBERY. Not only was Mason made expendable by the Bobby Simmons pickup, but the first-round pick was just going to mean adding more salary. The core of this team is in place, and they're all young. Adding the best center in the division was a no-brainer. Maybe it was a bold move that late in the game, but it'll pay off. Soon.

    • Funny thing is this—the Warriors beat the Bucks, IN Milwaukee, and I'm still not sure whether they make the playoffs. They've got the talent, but a lot of it is still in the form of potential. Other than Davis, Richardson and Murphy, it's hard to tell if there's enough consistency. And it bears repeating how much hinges on Davis's health. He's a monster—and he's gotten it done in the playoffs before—but they're going to need at least 70 games from him, and some serious improvement from Dunleavy and others, to even get there. This year.

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    More random NBA stuff.

    Pau Gasol's beard is the best thing in the League right now. He looks like a cross between a lumberjack and an NFL quarterback from the '70s. Pau Bunyan? The neck beard's a bit much, but then again it's better than a neck tattoo. (Speaking of which, did Starbury get another one this summer?)

    The Clippers start 3-0. It won't last—in fact, they already suffered their first loss at the hands of the Timberwolves—but with Phil Jax and Kobe getting all the ink in SoCal, it's nice to see the other guys doing something. What's really scary is that the Kings might be the worst team in California right now.

    The Sixers start 0-3. It too, won't last—in fact, they got their first win at Indiana, of all places. But with Allen Iverson averaging 30-plus (again) and taking on much of the load, something's going to have to change before he breaks down. Maurice Cheeks should get quite the honeymoon in his city, but Philly fans aren't exactly known for their patience.

    The Bucks start 3-0. And the teams they beat—Philadelphia, New Jersey and Miami—aren't exactly pushovers. Michael Redd is establishing himself as the most lethal scorer in the League, and lightning-quick point guard T.J. Ford shows no ill effects from the spinal injury that knocked him out for an entire season. Even better, the theft of All-Star center Jamaal Magloire from the Hornets takes pressure off No. 1 pick Andrew Bogut. The Central Division is going to be tough.

    The Pistons start 3-0. They head West now, but Flip Saunders has already established that he can coach. With Rip Hamilton flying around screens and Tayshaun Prince slashing through lanes, it's just yet to be seen whether Darko Milicic can do some real things in real minutes. This year, he should get that chance.

    Joe Johnson could have made $50 million in Phoenix, or $70 million in Atlanta. Sure, $20 million is a lot of money. But it's not like he would have been poor either way. And, as Isiah Thomas could attest to, you can't buy wins. Unless you pay Michael Jordan $30 million a season, but that was a long time ago. And Joe Johnson, you're no Michael Jordan. Have fun at the Gold Club.

    Keon Clark should be everyone's hero. He walked away from the NBA after earning $15 million because it was enough. He doesn't want to suffer later for injuries just to make millions more, or live by anyone else's rules—despite the fact that he could easily sign with someone this season. Respect, Keon.

    For the record, I'm not sure why it's 65 degrees in the middle of November, but I'll take it.

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    Always coming up with the best lines too late. Re: Larry Brown and the Knicks

    Please insert somewhere in the entry below:

    Shotgun weddings don't have honeymoons.


    Larry Legend

    Three games, three losses.

    Thie first to the division rival Celtics, by 14 in overtime, in which the Knicks allowed 20 points in five minutes. The second, a home-opener double-digit loss to the Wizards which resulted in boos midway through the first quarter. And the third—a moral victory in comparison—a two-point defeat at the hands of the Golden State Warriors. With that 0-3 record firmly in hand, the Knicks go off to the West Coast on a six-game road swing.

    These are your New York Knicks.

    Three games into the season, and already there is dissent among the veterans (that being a relative term—Stephon Marbury and Penny Hardaway are the longest-tenured Knicks), abject failure at the fundamentals (Jerome James has 10 fouls to go with two points, Stephon Marbury has missed 13 of 28 free throw attempts), and late-game collapses, long a hallmark of this Knicks franchise. Giving up 20 points in overtime—just five off the all-time NBA record—is embarassing by anyone's standards, and downright disgusting considering what should be expected of Brown's Knicks.

    There are a virtual stockpile of useful excuses at the ready, ranging from preseason injuries to youth to unfamiliarity with teammates and sets. But this wasn't supposed to be a rebuilding process, was it? You don't hire a 65-year-old coach with health problems for untold millions in order to win years from now, do you? How many $50-million-plus contracts are on the floor? You win NOW.

    The biggest worry Knick fans should have is this: Is there even a plan? Or was this just the matter of bringing in big names at big prices and hoping it would work?

    For starters, this isn't a Larry Brown team. He made his name coaching—no, teaching—hard-nosed players, not flashy ones. While Allen Iverson made things tick in Philly, they wouldn't have made the Finals without George Lynch, Aaron McKie and Eric Snow. New York is decidedly short on those types, with the exception of Antonio Davis, a throw-in from the Eddy Curry deal who played for Brown in Indiana. Also, Brown doesn't have much faith in rookies—or young players at all, for that matter. Even while his Pistons won a championship and competed for another, No. 2 pick Darko Milicic languished on the bench, seeing only sporadic minutes. And last year, Carlos Delfino and Carlos Arroyo were similarly neglected. As exhibited in the Warriors game, rookies David Lee, Channing Frye and Nate Robinson are among the Knicks most energetic players. In order for them to win, Brown may need to give the kids more time, and sideline some of the $50 million club (among them Curry, Quentin Richardson, Marbury and Jamal Crawford). Will he be willing—or even able, given Isiah Thomas's stake—to do so?

    Obviously it's early. Things could turn around. Marbury and Crawford (and Robinson), or at least one of them, could become a traditional point guard. Eddy Curry could learn to rebound. Jerome James could stop fouling everyone. Trevor Ariza could learn to run off screens like LB-coached beanpole predecessors Reggie Miller and Rip Hamilton. Brown could learn to trust Lee, Ariza and training camp surprise Matt Barnes. Anything can happen.

    Something'd better.

    Thursday, November 03, 2005

    A few other NBA thoughts.

    • RED AUERBACH. The 88-year-old Celtics president took some potshots at Larry Brown and Phil Jackson at the C's game with the Knicks last night. Pretty much accused them both of taking jobs with built-in excuses, and also claimed that Phil Jax "picked his spots." C'mon Red, you can't have it both ways! One second Phil's taking easy jobs, but when he takes one with a potential lottery team it's a built-in excuse? Starting to sound a bit bitter there, Red.

    And begrudging someone else talent? Red took over the Celtics in 1950, then got Bob Cousy handed to him on a silver platter in 1951 (and also picked up Easy Ed Macauley, who he later traded for the rights to one Bill Russell). Of course Red was a great coach. But the Celtics of the '50s and '60s were comparatively more dominant than Shaq's Lakers, or even Jordan's Bulls. Funny, I don't remember ever hearing about Red interviewing with Tri-Cities to have more of a challenge.

    • NENE. Opening night has not been nice to the Nuggets. Last year, shooting guard Voshon Lenard was lost for the season when he tore his Achilles in the season opener. And this year power forward Nene, the best single-named player in basketball, tears his ACL and his meniscus in the first QUARTER of the season, and is probably shut down for the remainder of the year. Even worse, he and the Nuggets had recently NOT come to terms on a lucrative extension. At 23, Nene should be back and as good as new next year—and at least Denver has other power forwards who can play—but it's still a tough break for a team looking to do big things this year. Even tougher break for Nene if Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby have big years (and Melo keeps getting—and playing—bigger) and there's no room for him (and his contract) when he gets back.

    • THE KNICKS. I know I've talked about it before, but this is nitroglycerin, right? Young players with overwhelming senses of entitlement, a massive payroll accumulated by a charismatic GM, a fanbase desperate for playoff success, and a crotchety coach who will accept nothing less than perfection (and will probably want the entire team traded in no time). Oh, and a bunch of seemingly talented rookies playing for a coach who's unlikely to give them any time.

    What these guys are lacking—and what will absolutely KILL Larry Brown—is fundamentals. There's no traditinal point guard, Eddy Curry is a TERRIBLE rebounder for his size, and no one on the team with the possible exception of 653-year-old Antonio Davis will be mistaken for a hard-nosed defender. This team is not, and won't be, the Pistons. Nor will it be the Pacers or the Sixers (who, along with AI had terrific role players like George Lynch and Aaron McKie). If LB wanted a challenge for his "last" NBA job, he's got one. I'm just not so sure that he's up for it.

    • THE NBA CHAMPS. No, not the Spurs, although it's tempting to go on about Tim Duncan's nappy 'fro. I'm talking about the Indiana Pacers, who I picked a month before the season started and I'm sticking with now. They looked a little rusty in their opener, but that'll come off (it'll be interesting to see how they do against the Heat tonight.) I wrote up my reasons in the new KING, but here's the three main ones—Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal and Rick Carlisle. They're hungry, they're talented, and I think it's time. Losing last season only makes this season more important. It oughta be fun.

    Thoughts on the first two days of the NBA season after not watching any of the games.

    OK, so I did watch a little of the TNT doubleheader on Tuesday night, but not much. Saw the paper today about the Knicks loss in overtime (giving up 20 points in OT, oops) to the Celtics, and the Nets getting stomped by the Bucks (Michael Redd a career-high 41). Good start for the NYC area teams. Maybe they need to hire taller coaches?

    Whoa, SportsCenter has an NBA-themed rap. And I'm thoroughly confused. This, people, is why I don't watch SportsCenter anymore.

    Kobe booed lustily in Colorado still, hahaha. And Smush! 'Melo's a beast inside (he's gonna be a power forward someday) and Kobe totally stole Jordan's old fist-after-winning-jumper thing. Ron-Ron in the K1x. Booed in ORLANDO? Why? Like the Pacers new uniforms. 16 points, not too shabby after starting 1-7. And NICE SUIT. Knicks against Celtics. Matt Barnes starting is awesome. Jamal Crawford not starting, not so awesome. Love Antonio Davis in NY, but not as much as Ricky Davis in Boston. P Double with his usual 30, didn't see as much as I'd like of the young fellas (especially Green and Jefferson). And the Knicks worst overtime loss ever—doesn't that have to do with coaching? Wow, does Red Auerbach look OLD. And he SOUNDS old. How does Larry Brown not pick his spots? He just goes where he gets traded? Please.

    Love the ongoing Donovan McNabb/Terrell Owens drama in Philly. When I lived in Delaware, I always used to listen to Philly sports talk radio WIP—wish I was there for this. Well, except for the living in Delaware part.

    Heat Grizzlies. Wow, nice beard Pau Gasol. Still might wanna get the teeth fixed. Toine with 16 rebounds? Damn. Wuiet night for the Diesel and they still murk the Grizzlies. Pistons 76ers. Must be nice to inherit a championship level team, huh, Flip? Good to see Tayshaun and Rip earning their dollars. Sheed too. Bust the Sixers by 20, and the highlights of a Sixer game without a single AI highlight? Either AI, for that matter. Wild.

    Cavs Hornets. LeBron must be fun to throw alley-oops to. Six out of seven threes and 31 points. Ouch. Beating the Hornets by 22. Yikes. And those new teammates are gonna be real good for him this year. LeBron's also WAY too quick to step out on, so if that three's falling with regularity, it's a wrap. Gonna be the best player in the L at 20. Nets Bucks. Michael Redd is an All-Star. Again. And the SportsCenter announcers are downright embarassing. Glad to see T.J. Ford back. And Redd's better off on the Bucks where he can be the first option, rather than in Cleveland where he would have been relegated to the perimeter (literally and figuratively) of the LeBron show. Also, Andrew Bogut looks like Owen Wilson.

    Whoa, hockey's back?

    Kings Rockets. Sensing a trend here, they only show highlights from the winning teams. Therefore the Kings didn't win. See? The Rockets are mean, though, especiually with Stro. And the Kings have the potential to be a total mess. Is Rick Adelman still there? This could be the end. Mavs Jazz. Deron Williams starts with a 3? Nice. And a beyond half-court 3? Good win for the Jazz. Hey, back to the Lakers. Kobe looks like he's 18 with the short hair and goatee. Phil Jackson looks like Colonel Sanders with the wack soul patch. And, back to the Pacers. Wait, it's a big step that Ron Artest had "no major incidents"? What, someone expected an incident in his FIRST GAME BACK? People are stupid.

    Warriors Hawks. Two franchises lookin' for some respect. Maybe a win or two. And yikes. $70 milly(and a couple first-rounders) for JJ and lose by 25? Not good, Hawks. Bobcats Bulls. Kirk better not be that hurt. Chris Duhon is the man. Darius Songaila hit a game-tying, last-second 3? Awesomely absurd. Sorry, Bobcats. Minnesota Portland. Yeah, KG. Washington Toronto. Sorry, T-Dot. What happened with Charlie? Clippers Sonics. Tough break, Seattle. (Um, no full highlights of those games, but the Budweiser Hot Seat with ROBERT WUHL? May have mentioned this before, but SportsCenter fucking sucks now. Absolutely terrible.