No offense to Dwight Howard and Chris Paul (and several other guys), buy this might be the lamest Rookie Challenge ever. No LeBron and Carmelo and Dwyane, no Iverson or Kobe or T-Mac, just a bunch of guys who in some cases don't even start for their own teams. Heck, Channing Frye only got 15 minutes for the Knicks in their last game, and that team is 20-plus games below .500. Sure, Andre Iguodala may throw down a rugged dunk or 10, but Howard and Paul seem to be the only two guys who have any chance at playing on Sunday in the coming years. And Paul's hurt (although he will play). Meanwhile, last year's rookie of the year, Emeka Okafor, is out. At least we get to listen to John Thompson, who seems like he's on something. OK, and TJ Ford could be exciting, along with the 13 Bulls who are on the sophomore squad. And maybe Nate Robinson will give us a little dunk contest preview. Still, though, this isn't really much of a premier event. It'll be interesting to see how many people are in the stands (I'm guessing a lot of people will skip it in favor of the party circuit, which oughtta be in full swing already.
Hey, it's the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge! Maybe I should be watching this on my Sidekick? Good to see some Rockets legends getting love on the coaching staffs. And Luther Head is the first introduced—sheesh. This IS bad. Danny Granger, Sarunas Jasekevicius, Andrew Bogut, Chris Paul, Channing Frye, Nate Robinson, Charlie Villanueva and Deron Williams. They're gonna get KILLED. Meanwhile, the PA announcer needs a Halls or something. Or a record contract from a blues label.
The sophomores: Emeka Okafor (in a suit), Delonte West, Luol Deng (why is he from the Sudan and not Duke?), Ben Gordon, Andres Nocioni, Devin Harris, TJ Ford, Nenad Krstic, Dwight Howard and Andre Iguodala. Yep, they should murk 'em. But no Al Jefferson? That sucks. And no Josh Smith?
I guess this could actually wind up being more of a game, Then again, Channing Frye AND Nate Robinson are starters. Ha. Think Larry Brown is watching this?
Reggie Miller thinks Ben Gordon is gonna be MVP. Ha. I'm going with Dwight Howard.
Nate Robinson jumps center, which shows how serious this game is. Give me a break. And Channing Frye scores on the first shot. Feeling the half-orange, half-white ball. ABA, whoadie.
Turrrrnovers. We're barely a minute into this game and I'm already losing focus. Ben Gordon wets a trey. I kind of wish that the Rooks and Sophs would wear matching unis instead of their team uniforms. Dick Stockton just referred to Nate Robinson as a "little guy," and Reggie Miller picked him to win the dunk contest. I don't see it. Then again, maybe I just want to disagree with Reggie whenever possible.
Rookies lead early, 8-7. It's like a high-school All-Star game, with guys doing stuff that they'd get pulled from a real game for doing. Chris Paul is looking like the MVP early, lacing everyone with passes. Luther Head checks in for Nate Robinson. The sophs are 3-10 from the floor. Can't really see much as far as shoes yet, and Rip Hamilton is the first All-Star they show in the crowd. Wonder how many are even there? Rookies are running away with this, 13-7, and the sophs call time out.
Reggie says that Chris Paul reminds him of Isiah Thomas in All-Star games, trying to get everybody involved. Well, except he didn't kiss a 6-9 guy on the other team, and he's not freezing anyone out best I can tell.
Hey, the Diesel's here! Lookin' good in the vest and the big-knot tie. He says he hasn't been paying attention to the game, just talking to his lawyer. Gangsta. CV with the bucket off the bench. Better pro than college player? No doubt.
Tons of media seats behind the baskets. They ain't seein' much. Lots of sloppy basketball, lots of missed jumpers, lots of long rebounds. Luther Head oop to Villanueva, Krstic fouled on other end. Rooks still up four. Three. Miss-Deng gets it back. One. And another head to Villanueva resets it to three. Nocioni cuts the rookie lead back to one, and Ford dunks to put the sophs up one.
West is in the game—and only here because Jameer Nelson is hurt. Lucky him.
More missed long jumpers. This game sucks.
Delonte West oop to Krstic. Deron Williams, Delonte West trey. Sophs up four. Delonte West layup, sophs up six. Timeout, rookies.
Shooters are SO off tonight it's not even funny. Krstic dunks to be safe, Sophs up 8. Make that 10 after another dunk, this one from Iguodala. Frizye gets fizouled by Krstic. Brick, wet. Then he goaltends Delonte West, who's gonna end up MVP if he keeps this up.
David Aldridge talks about Channing Frye being untouchable. Look, no one is untouchable. You're telling me if the Knicks could get a 25-year-old stud, they wouldn't give up Frye? Because that's just plain nuts. I like Channing, but they'd be a LOT better off with, say, just about anyone who's playing on Sunday (and quite a few who aren't). Is Channing the kind of guy you build a team around? Probably not.
Apparently LeBron and Kobe are in the building—and there they are! Kob's in a Nike jacket, LeBron looks like Kanye West. And hey, the rookies are only down four. Make that six.
Wow, Charles Barkley is a finalist for the Hall of Fame. Like there's any question? If he doesn't get in on the first ballot, someone should burn the damn building down.
Dwight Howard gets the and-1 but not the 1, then he blocks Granger. A turnover keeps the sophs from getting it back to 10.
Nate bricks the hell out of a three. Maybe it's the sight lines. Bogut passes out to the bench. Messy.
Ben Gordon hits a three over Nate Robinson. Eleven, until Bogut dunks in Nocioni's face. International relations, bitch. And then he gets a deep rebound off a Paul miss and whips a behind-the-back pass from the three-point line up top to Nate Robinson underneath. Sick. Off to Frye for the dunk. That's the play of the game so far.
Luther Head three. Eight. The rooks are 1-10 from three, now, and Luther Head is EVERYWHERE. Until Luol Deng gets a dunk. Then Bogut gets one. CP3 has five assists and no points. A Nocioni three and it's back to nine. Chris Paul gets his first bucket, and his yellow socks are gangsta as hell. 52-45 sophs at the half.
The new Jordan XXI ad with the kids replicating some of MJ's most well-known moves is pretty ill. Too bad the shoes themselves look like they were made for Randy Moss.
OK, Charles and Kenny had better kill this game. Or at least Charles better. Oh God, and there's Magic, Mr. Incomprehensibility. Oh yeah, Charles and Kenny both played for the Rockets. Funny. Annnd, they don't. But we do have the Kenny Smith/Reggie Miller three-point shoot out to look forward to. If Reggie loses, he might have to quit TNT.
And even the halftime show was lame, focusing mostly on Barkley's Hall-of-Fame nomination. Terrific.
Sophs up six early in the second half. And it's already 10:15?? This game seems loooong for two 10-minute halves. Guess they gotta stretch it out—which is why it should just be part of All-Star Saturday instead of a free-standing Friday event. Channing blocked by Dwight, then he gets the eventual rebound. His wallet should say "Bad Mother Fucker" on it. But yeah, Channing Frye is untouchable.
You know, that Heineken commercial with the girl who gets random guys to buy her beers, which she then in turn gives to her brother and his friend, is cute and all, but isn't the basic message "never buy a girl a beer again"? Oh well, Heineken is disgusting anyway.
Shit, I half-forgot that Darko is a Magic now. Gonna have to discuss that at some point. The Serbian Gangsta in Orlando.
Sophs up 13 with 16 interminable minutes to go. Turnover, turnover, turnover, Howard dunk. Howard the dunk? Granger trey. 12-point game, 15 and a half. Iguodala makes it 14 with a mean dunk. Iggy hops? Raw power. I'm getting delirious.
I love that TNT is relentlessly promoting the broadcast of "Armageddon." Are you kidding me? Hasn't everyone seen that by now? This is a big deal? Obviously someone over at TNT is even more delusional than I am.
Iguodala again. Blaow. He's got hops.
Luol Deng over Villanueva, his old high school teammate. Dwight gets another block, then on the turnover fouls hell out of Nate Robinson. Jeah.
John Thompson is incomprehensible, and Chris Paul is really good. Sophs by 14 on another Iguodala dunk. Not sure if he's made any other kind of shot. Eleven after a Jasekavicius trey. Wait a minute, isn't Sebastian Telfair a soph? Wouldn't he have made this game a little more entertaining? And given the Blazers a representative?
And yeay, a through-the-legs dunk from Iguodala, and the announcers get excited about it. Um, a straightforward through-the-legs dunk hasn't been exciting in 10 years, fellas. You gotta add some sauce.
Iguodala trey. Sophs up 19 with 8:48. AI might have the MVP on lock. Channing Frye is long. And untouchable, of course. T.J. Ford throws the worst pass of the game. Meanwhile, Chris Paul has like 27 steals. And Iguodala has 25 points. Sophs up 20. Jebus. Nate Robinson is trying fancy shit that'll probably end with his minutes being reduced by LB. Or him getting traded before Sunday. AI for three more. 28. Luther Head with a layup. Delonte West with a layup. He's got a bunch of points. Iguodala misses a through-the-legs dunk on the break (with his left?). Jumped too close to the rim, I think. Sophs up 19.
Pretty sure no one cares about the game at this point, including the people in it. Five minutes.
Chris Paul tosses an oop to Villanueva, and of course we're on the overhead camera from behind, which means the TV audience gets the same view as someone in the 400 level. Um, if there's anyone still there. And then Villanueva gets a three, and Paul gets a dunk on the break. 11-point sophomore lead with three minutes left.
Pretty sure Reggie just called AI "Andre Igloodala." Who gets a dunk and makes it 11 with 2:10 left. Then a dunk which makes it 12 (and he has 30 and a virtual lock on the MVP). He DID call him "Igloodala." Awesome.
It's a minute left and the sophs are up 11. CP turnover, and we're not even getting the final minute dunk contest that we deserve. Bastards. Head gets the ball stuck between the rim and the backboard, which is par for the course. Allen Iverson's on the sideline in full Yankee gear with a watch the size of a hubcap on his wrist blingin' like mad.
106-96 final, and Igloodala was so cold he's gotta get MVP. No dizzle. 30 points on nine dunks and two threes. No one else had 20, although Chris Paul did tie the assist record (11). And hey, AI2 thanks God. Yay.
They'll be back. And maybe I'll be. Not sure.