February 25, 2006
And after five losses with uninspired play, I was nervous going in to last night's Lakers game. The scrubs on the Lakers who realized they weren't getting traded after all had stepped it up of late. And for the first half, despite the lead, there was still little to make me think otherwise that the Clips would fade again. Hulk Hogan injured, out. Maghetto sitting on the bench. And then, what had to happen did.
There was a moment at the turn of the year, where Cassell was running his mouth about how he motivates, blah blah. But thankfully, Elton Brand decided to show him a sack of nats that were indeed larger than Sam's. And there's only so much motivation you can do when you can hit a fucking shot. This team is carried by Brand. He stepped up the energy and just took it right in the mouth of the Faker D. And the only response was shoulder-tackling Sam to the ground.
All this with the injuries. I mean, is Rad Man the answer to fill in for Ross? Maybe, if he can keep up with the outside shooting. But then, in my moments of joy, there was a man on my screen that made it all come crashing down. It was Vin Baker. He was hungover. Lifeless. Yutzburger talked about how he's "fought the demons." Guys, if he shows up on the court, HE IS THE DEMON. He is the man who, more than injury, could sink this sailin' Clip right into the ocean. If the Clips have to turn to him for ANYTHING, it's over. It's just over. And it's the Sterling Silver in the crown of ineptness if it goes through.
Shit, the Georgia State game is on...enough of my yappin.
February 22, 2006
Isaiah, are you sure you and Larry are on the same page? Cuz Francis? A "Larry Brown" guy? I think not. He's an Isaiah guy. He's selfish, talented, and a loser. He cried when he and Mobley got traded to Orlando, cried harder when Mobley got moved to the Kings, and has been sobbing uncontrollably since the trade rumors began about a month ago. How in God's name is he going to handle the New York media? I can't even talk about how stupid this is for the Knicks, so I'm going to switch sides and talk about this trade for Orlando
This, I believe, is a great trade for Orlando. They're going to suffer through the rest of this season, but they'll have nearly $16 million come off the cap next season and they got a young small forward who's shown some potential. The rid themselves of the cancer that was Steve Francis and now have money, picks, and parts to continue to get their ship back up and running. They're committed to building around Dwight Howard and I can't say enough about how smart that is. I watched All Star weekend and they interviewed him on a coupld of occasions and I really think that kid is special. We all know he's good at throwing rocks around, but he also strikes me as a well balanced and intelligent individual. Kelvin Kato's contract to Detroit for Carlos Arroyo and Darko Milicic was a great trade too. Carlos is a bit of a malcontent, but he's still young and talented and will, if nothing else, push Jameer Nelson to be a better player. Darko is a bit of a gamble because no one knows what he's going to turn into, but he's an inexpensive gamble to take, with $4 million and a year left.
February 16, 2006
The soldiers are attacking right now, and the optimism is churning in my stomach.
It's not easy, but I think we all needed this win. It doesn't mean anything in the long run - the win itself - but the team is starting to move together and to feel each other out.
Ok, Banks is still a bit confused on that pick and roll. It seemed like Ridnour just wanted to run it into the ground last night, and Banks was lost on a more than a few of them. But the rotation made up for it quite often, and as was mentioned before, the Sonics couldn't hit their open shots. This isn't going to work against a good team, but let's not worry about that yet. Let's examine how these guys are playing with each other, and if this is indeed the best starting 5 we can go with.
First of all, I put Banks in here because he's obviously the go-to guy, even though he doesn't start. It's great to split time with AC, but we all know that in the 4th quarter, you give it to Markie. Ok, as best I can define Marcus' game, it's something like a controlled chaos with a lot of different options and somewhat erratic style. That means he does a lot of things (like Dave previously mentioned) like drive the lane, dish, pull up and hit a shot, etc. But he also loses the ball, throws it to the other team, or just travels. It's not an "inconsistent" way of playing, it's just chaotic. When he gets the ball and starts his move, it's like a tornado touching down. You just don't know what's going to happen.
If I may paraphrase Bill Simmons: Ricky doesn't seem to know that they keep score in a basketball game, and he plays hard regardless of the situation or the opponent. Again, Dave said it best when he called him the poor-man's Latrell Sprewell (by the way, being that Ricky's so young, he could EASILY become better than Spree as he ages). He's the kind of guy who doesn't need anyone else to do anything for him. He can ball all by himself. In fact, he works better when isolated on his man. Same goes on defense. Ricky's the guy you just leave alone. "Hey Buckets, you see that guy wearing number 25? Yeah, just try to not let him score. Oh, and on offense, try to score points. Cool?"
Ok, is it me, or has his game changed since the trade? He seems to be a complete player now, someone not buried by the offense and passing, someone who can be relied on to hit a jump shot. Now, he always has had a good touch, but now it's like he's getting aggressive in the kitchen, firing shots and making moves all over the place. I think Ricky has ghettoed him up. He's still sneaky, and he probably will be for the rest of his career, because people just don't think Hass will burn them. But he's got game and it's perfect that he's not featured in this offense. He takes defenses by surprise with his shooting, dunking and (gasp!) passing.
This new team isn't quite the "Sam and Spree make life easy for KG" of two years ago, but they do make it easier on him. KG knows that on certain posessions, he can just dump it to Ricky and let him go, or kick it out to Markie for the whirling dervish into the lane, and basically just look for the rebound. That's got to feel good. KG spent the first half of this season being a babysitter to Marko, Troy, Kandi and Wally because those guys would lose their ass if it weren't screwed on tight. Not saying anything about Wally, but he needs the offense to move around him, and KG has to start and end it all. So without having to make so sure the offense is running smoothly, he's free to just play, and that may be good and may be bad, but at least he looks a little less tired now.
Old Dirt Dog
I can't imagine a less-skilled starting center in the NBA, but that's the rub. For some reason, he plays exceptionally well with this starting lineup. You know what it's like? It's like Big Swerve two years ago. He doesn't do anything other than what he's told, and he just takes up space and clears guys out. God bless Blunt and Eddie, and it's tough to not see them out there more, but Madsen does what is necessary for the other guys to have themselves some, so I think we're going to see him in there for awhile.
Actually, Madsen is a perfect microcosm for this starting lineup. You've got 4 scorers (with two being the big dogs) and one guy who runs around like a psycho tracking down loose balls and generally crashing into the floor. It works because the other guys get more space this way, and more touches. Both Ricky and Banks are guys that need to get touches to get going. Hass and KG are the complete opposite of that... it's almost like they're better when they're not the focus. Madsen never touches the ball, never WANTS to touch the ball, and doesn't care if he trips and falls. In short, he fits perfectly.
Personally, I like this starting lineup, and I'm glad that Casey's giving it an honest look. It seems like it's set for the time being, and I say let it ride until it falls apart. This is certainly not the best lineup we can put out there in terms of talent (I'd sub Blunt for Madsen and McCants for Hassell - just to have 5 complete offensive weapons out there at once), but undoubtedly these are the best 5 guys to play as a unit.
The sure-fire way to have success in the NBA is to have a reliable starting 5, bench players with clearly defined roles, and a coaching system that enforces rules and keeps everyone accountable. It's a tightrope to walk and I don't pretend that I have any answers at all. But look at the teams that are successful for long periods of time. They don't have players who go in and out of favor. They don't have guys who all of a sudden play 40 minutes a game just because they had a good practice or whatever. The teams put their same guys out there and use the same rotations because they are the best they have and they all work within the system. I'd like to see that out of the Wolves, that sense of order. It's not there yet, and probably won't be for the rest of this season, just because of these new guys and the new coach and all. But next year, it would be nice to see a defined starting lineup and a semi-set-in-stone second unit, with closely watched minutes and substitutions.
But that will come. For now, let's let Team Ghetto stretch its legs.
Okay, now don't get me wrong, I'd love to have Steph running the point for the Wolves again. Of course that would be assuming his head was smaller now, which it's not, and he would be willing to play within the system, which he probably wouldn't. So basically, that counts me out of Stephon coming here. Not to mention that he's said he would not want to play here again. Sure, he's said he would love to play with KG again, but clearly said NOT HERE. Starbury is a very talented player but what the casual basketball fan probably won't notice is that he hasn't won. Anywhere. Since leaving Minnesota he's been to the playoffs once. One time a team he was on was good enough to make it to the post season. That's not a very good track record. He's right there with Shareef Abdur-rahim in terms of team success.
I think Sid's a little too old to be giving his opinion on anything other than adult diapers, but of course, he's entertaining because of it.
Thing I Saw
Passing – Marcus Banks, once again, showed us how good of a passer he can be, and how bad a decision maker he can be. Two silly fouls and a turnover, countered by a great dish to Ricky for a dunk. He picks Ridnour’s pocket, then botches a reverse dunk but gets his own rebound and makes a contested lay-up. A guy who’s passing has been overlooked this season is Trenton Hassell’s. He’s really become a solid passer – see ally-oop to KG late in the game. We know he can play defense and can score when needed, but he’s shown that he can be a reliable distributor as well. Luke Ridnour is a good point guard. He plays for a crappy team, which is too bad for him because I believe that on a better team, he eventually becomes an All Star. He’s not overly flashy, but he’s a smart player who gets his guys the ball where they want it. He needs to develop more of a jump shot, but he’s a classic pass-first point guard.
Ricky, Ricky, Ricky – He started the game 5 of 6 from the floor and scored 14 points. He then proceeded to miss his next 8 shots. He hit three of his last six to finish the game. Some call him a poor man’s Latrell Sprewell and with that we also get Spree’s streakiness. I love what Ricky brings to this team, most of the time. He’s still prone to taking some bad shots and has shown his Huddy-like ability to “heat check” at any given moment. He’s lead the team in scoring 5 of the 12 games he’s played for us and has had some good shooting nights and some bad ones. I guess we'll take the good with the bad.
We Want These Guys? – The two players that seem to keep coming up in the trade rumors that our coach apparently wants on his team, play for his old squad. Ronald “Flip” Murray and Reggie Evans. I’m not sure why we want either of these guys. Flip was 4 of 11, 9 points, 3 assists and 3 turnovers in 24 minutes. Not bad, but we have enough guys at that position that all he’d do would sit on the bench. Reggie Evans had 2 points and 3 rebounds in 4 minutes. Sure, he’s a banger, but I don’t see what he would do to help this team besides not play defense and take shots away from KG. Clearly, if he’s only playing 4 minutes a game, there’s something wrong. I know Seattle is a mess, but when they lack rebounding and inside presence and the guy who’s supposed to provide that isn’t hardly getting into the game, there’s got to be something else there.
You Don’t See That Every Day
The Wolves made 30 of 35 free throws. In two of their past three games they’ve shot 35+ free throws. The last time they shot 30 in a game prior to that was January 27 against Houston. They don’t shoot a lot of free throws in general, but the new guys have helped that a little bit, even if the officiating hasn’t helped them out at all.
Did you see AC last night? He made 2 3’s, which considering he’s usually shooting 50% for the rim, is pretty miraculous. He also had a tip dunk on a Ricky Davis missed lay-up. It was awesome. I’m watching and Ricky misses and then the ball gets dunked. I’m thinking it was KG or Hass, but no, it’s the little guy from Hawaii throwing it down on Rashard Lewis and Nick Collison. GIT SOME KID!!!
Maybe I’m the only one who didn’t know, but Seattle apparently signed Bizzy Bone from Bone Thugs N Harmony. Yeah, he wears 54 and plays power forward. Oh, that’s Chris Wilcox? He’s Bizzy Bone!? Oh, no, it’s not Bizzy Bone. Okay, well I’m glad we got that cleared up. Boy is his hair bad.
February 14, 2006
Well, we all know what I think about Steve Kerr. If you don't, then you haven't paid any attention to this blog. Just so you don't have to go digging for it, I think Steve Kerr is a complete moron. But sometimes, even a blind squirrel's gotta find a nut, right? Here's what he had to say about the Knicks in his Power Rankings this week.
If they can just trade for one more maximum salaried player who is well past his prime, they just might turn things around
Yes Steve, you got that one right. Of course that's assuming you're being sarcastic - if he isn't then I don't know what to say. We do nothing but talk about how horrible that franchise has been over the past, oh I don't know, how long has Isaiah been there? Yeah, about that long. But they actually started going down hill before that. Pat left, Allan broke, and Spree, well he didn't choke but...not there anyways. So since the departure of their Hall of Fame center, the Knicks have been searching for success. Sure, they did go to the Finals once, which is more than we can say about our team, but wow, at what cost? $100 million or so? I mean, you can't really put a price on a championship, but that's still pretty hefty. Especially just to fall short. By three games. It's understandable that when you lose one of the 50 Greatest Players, you're going to take a few steps backwards, unless you're the pre-90's Celtics - then you just replace one with another. So the Knicks dropped off. Jimmy Dolan attempted the Steinbrener approach but, more or less, went Mets with his team. Boy, that Subway Series was near though, wasn't it?
There is another event that coincides with the Knicks downfall towards the end of last century. Their nemesis went the way of the Dodo. Yeah, that's right. About the same time Jordan called it quits (I forget which time) the Knicks began their descent. Their team's most fierce rival was gone, and their hearts and souls followed suit. Oh sure, they had Reggie's Pacers to drive their hatred, which kept them afloat for a couple more seasons, but they certainly weren't MJ's Bulls. I remember those John Starks-Michael Jordan battles vividly, like when Starks went baseline and dunked on the whole Bulls team. Then, as MJ turned down the lights, one of Johnny's nuts died, and so did his career. In Utah. It was too bad because even though I was not a Bulls fan (see Reggie Miller) there were few players I despised as much as John Starks (Patrick Ewing. My hatred of Karl Malone had not yet blossomed). It's tought when someone you hate stops being a threat because where are you supposed to direct that hatred? I found a way, but it took me awhile.
Look at the Sacramento Kings. They had an intense rivalry with the Lakers for a number of years. We were privy to some great playoff battles, even if the Lakers did win every time. Of course, then Shaq gest traded, Phil Jackson leaves, and the dynasty is broken up. As soon as that happened, the Kings fell apart as well. Webber gets traded, then Peja, and both teams are crumbling pieces of their former selves, just like the Knicks and Bulls.
The Lakers-Celtics rivalry went down in similar fashion, as did the Celtics-Sixers in the 70's. It's an odd wat to look at it, but it really seems like every time a team's major rival goes down, so do they. Even looking at the Heat-Knicks towards the end of the Jordan era. The Heat went right down with the Knicks, even though that was only a short lived rivalry. With more time, one could probably come up with a few more examples.
Life As A Wolf
So, what do you expect to see next out of the Wolves? End the season with a worse record than the Hawks? At this point, after losing five of their last six to teams like Portland, Utah, NOOCH, and now Toronto, I wouldn't be surprised to see that happen too. Sure, the Raps are surging, but seriously, if you look at the rosters we should be taking them out to breakfast after fucking them so hard the night before. But, alas, they were the ones doing the fucking and we don't get any pancakes, let alone bacon.
Right now life as a wolf is rough. I'm having a very hard time watching this team play because they're so unbelievably inconsistent. They play great for an eight minute stretch, build a lead, then play horribly for the next 15 minutes, turning a 12 point lead into a seven point deficit. Then they'll play okay for 10 minutes, followed by a good streak for five. They'll pull even, or slightly ahead, then there they go again, off to a time where only bad basketball exists. They get kicked in the teeth of the last seven minutes, then it's over and there's another 'L' on the books.
The problem I'm having this season is trying to keep the negativity out, but it's been tough. I'm usually the most optimistic person I hang around with when it comes to this team, but even my patience is wearing thin. I love the guys on this team, I love the guy who sits in the first seat on the bench, and I have faith in the system they're operating in, but it's just not getting the results that it should. The team is missing some pieces, we all know that, but the core is there. Now, I'm not saying they're one or two moves from contending for a championship, but they aren't that far from getting back into the playoffs and competing. They've got a superstar, a second/third tier player, and a whole bench of role players who do what they have to, to help this team. Their point guard situation will work itself out...*cough*marcusbanks. and they still need some help in the middle defensively, but they're close.
The car is running, the engine has just been tuned up, and the wheels are full of air. They're a couple ball joints and a tranny away from getting back into the mix in the West.
God I hate NASCAR...
What I'd Like To See...Again...
Marcus Banks - Hes been getting an ample amount of playing time and has shown us what he's capable of - both good and bad. Overall I'm happy with how he's playing. He's still a young guy, so he's going to make some mistakes, but overall I think he's the type of point guard this squad needs. As he gets used to the system and used to consistent playing time, he'll improve and become more confident.
Marko Jaric - He's not a point guard, so he shouldn't be playing the position, but he should be getting minutes. I'd like to see Casey move him more towards the 2-guard spot, where we could take more advantage of his shooting off screens and making plays off the ball. He's a combo guard, whether he wants to admit it or not, and I think he'd be better used as a back up to Hass and Ricky. He's too talented to keep off the court, but he needs to play the right postion.
Rashad McCants - I like the fact that he's seeing a bit more playing time these days. I think he should see more. I know the season isn't totally lost, but with what Casey's doing now, they're not going anywhere anyways, so why not let this young man work through his learning pains in-game. He's a solid contributor on offense when he doesn't have to worry about getting pulled out of the game every time he makes a mistake. When he gets going, the Wolves look much better, so wny not suffer through his mistakes now, so he gets better sooner.
This team really is, in my opinion, only a couple moves and a training camp away from being a competitive team in the Western Conference. They've taken a few steps backwards in the days of Yore (aka WCF), but they're not lost. Yet. The recovery will depend heavily on the decisions Kevin McHale and, maybe more importantly, Glen Taylor make for the rest of this season and into the offseason
February 13, 2006
YOU LOSE TO TORONTO NOW!
YOU LOSE 4 STRAIGHT HOME GAMES!!!!
EVEN LAST YEAR WHEN YOU WEREN'T TRYING YOU DIDN'T LOOK THIS BAD!
EVEN LAST YEAR WHEN YOU WEREN'T FUN TO WATCH YOU WERE BETTER AND MADE ME HAPPIER!!!!
YOU LOSE TO UTAH AND TORONTO AND NEW ORLEANS AT HOME!!!!
IT'S VERY FUNNY, THESE BAD TEAMS THAT YOU LOSE TO. YOU WOULD LOSE TO ANYONE IN THE WORLD!
It might be a better idea to change this thing to a food blog. At least that way, I could talk about Spanish wines and delicious curry dishes and avocado spring rolls, and not about the terrible terrible basketball team that plays downtown across from Block E.
No, no. That's not fair. It's just that I can't figure this out. I don't understand how they can be so bad. They aren't doing anything terrible in these games.... they just aren't winning. The biggest thing I see is a lack of consistency on the floor: no consistent shooting, no consistent penetration, no consistent defense, no consistent play-calling. Nothing. They do well in stretches, but they never maintain it.
And I don't even want to talk about that. Let's talk about the Gophers or something.
Oh, right. Well, two big wins over ranked teams doesn't pay the bills in March, jankos. Guess what? Iowa and Michigan have something to say to you, and it is "Life is hard".
So then, there's other things happening out there, right? We're not trapped by this team. The NBA is going off this year, and it's fun to follow.
First, Detroit and Miami went out there and banged around, but Dwyane Wade HAD SOMETHING TO SAY TO CHAUNCEY!!!! 17 STRAIGHT POINTS?!?!?! Back down, back down Detroit.
Miami has been hearing all year that they are pretenders in the East. And you know what, nothing can change Detroit being the hands-down favorite out there. But Miami can do something. They have Wade, and he changes games. This is not a prediction that they will contend for the title. But be aware. At any given time, that young man can start lowering booms and running through underbrush, so watch yourself.
In other news, New York is just absolutely terrible. I never thought watching New York basketball could be worse than watching them in 1995.... god did they muck the game up. However, compared to now, that was a ballet. There is not one player on the Knicks whose game I enjoy watching. You know how even though there are teams you hate (Denver), there are still guys who play the game right and are fun to watch (Andre Miller)? Well, not on New York. They're terrible and will continue to be terrible. Hell, even Toronto has a few dunkers. New York is just painful to watch.
March Madness looms on the dusty horizon, and it's going to be a hell of a ride. I'm seeing huge things this year, but I maintain that I have yet to see anything to sway me from the idea that Duke is the favorite. If I'm putting money down, I'm going with them for sure. I think Reddick and Shelden will be virtually unstoppable in crunch time. Of course, there will be monumental collapses too. Hey Cowboys, your coach get all ripped and bank it into another car, errrrrrrrrr? Hey Vols, you guys get some big wins and then flame out in the tourney, errrrrrrrrr?
Just remember, the payment always comes due, and your feet always grow bigger than the glass slipper.
So drink Guinness and try to forget that you are another year older. We never age in this world, because we're trapped. We make trades to acquire Team Ghetto, and then lose 3 straight home games. Oh well, pitchers and catchers report later this week.
February 10, 2006
With Poetry I Paint The Pictures That Hit, More Like The Murals That Fit, Don't Turn Away, Get In Front Of It
I feel urged to wax poetic about basketball and why I like this sport so much. This could be long, so strap in.
There are reasons, oh lord, are there a multitude of reasons that it makes the most sense, but the big one will always be the intimacy. That old familiarity. You can't play baseball without at least one friend (unless you're out back of the shed hitting grounders to a figure painted on the wall - but if that's the case then you better wear a helmet because DAD'S GOING TO BEAT YOU WHEN YOU GET BACK INSIDE FOR DINNER), and football can only be played in your mind. You could skate around and try to triple-deke your imaginary goalie opponent, but even then, you'd have to find an open patch of ice and a net... and your parents' mortgage is due, so tough shit, Ricky. No, but you can grab that roundball and go down to the park, can't you? You can dribble and pop shots until it goes dark, and even then, if you've got a quarter, you can spark the overheads and go until the bugs get to be too much. And you can really calm down out there, really take it in, really run down a lot of things in that twisted amalgamation of human thought between your ears. Because it's all about the shot, the dribble, the bank, the motion.
And if you don't know, you don't know. And that's what seperates us, what makes it possible to understand and respect - instead of flail about with pseudo-analysis and broken logic. Us basketball players know the game, we know the fundamentals, we know the plays. And damn it, if you don't know, then you don't know.
Basketball also represents a unique team dynamic. 5 guys who work as a unit but also as individuals. 5 who must do their individual jobs right, but not do them too well, and definitely not do anything to take away from the team. You can shoot well, but don't shoot all the time. You can pass well, but you have to shoot once in awhile. Rebounding is fine, but step out and pop a jumper now and then. And on defense? Shit. Without 4 soldiers on your side ready to step in for you, you're dead. The entire team needs to know that the guy next to him is willing to help out if he gets beat. Otherwise, this whole thing crumbles. But again, it comes back to the individual. You have to play defense well, but don't lose track of the team. It's a push and pull, this connection. You play well individually to be a good teammate, and your unselfishness allows you to do great things individually. Ah, that's fucking poetry.
But the professional game will always be the best, and that's because the game is so deep, so talented, and so rich with drama and the great Human Experience. You can watch an Association game and see things happening on a very simplistic level: Banks is popping that pass too soon, he needs to penetrate further. If you knock down Parker once, he'll distribute more. If Eddie rotates over, that play doesn't even begin. The movements are critical, they are the building blocks. But it can also go up a level. It's possible to look at the game as a fluid event: The defense is tired. He can't run the point without someone cutting to the ball. The Wolves aren't hitting their shots. It's like something Bob Wilson once told me about the game of craps. He said "And the dice have a weird way on the table. Once they start making points, they stay on it, usually. Take this next roll. We've hit 6,8, and 9 on our last three rolls. Statistically, there is a much higher chance to hit 7 or 11 on this next one, but that's the thing about statistics. The dice don't know that." And that's perfect for basketball. If the Wolves miss 5 shots in a row, and KG backs someone down and then pops a turnaround from 16, statistics say he should make it. But KG doesn't know that. And the ball doesn't know that. And the rim doesn't know that. And more importantly, as fans, we KNOW he's not making that shot. If Buckets takes a contested shot when we're on a roll, it's going in. When he does the same thing in a drought, we all groan, and clamor that it was a terrible shot. Ah, the game.
You can analyze basketball on even more levels than that, though. You can see what the team is doing in response to what the other team is doing. The zone? Killed the Wolves on wednesday. The full-court press? If you don't break it, you're hopeless. You have to not only break it, but then make a move yourself.... sort of like the best defense is a good offense. The team has to be the one dictating the moves. The winning team is usually the guys who are making the other team react.
And then, you can go upstairs and analyze player moves, statistics, salary. This part of the game is very fun to do, but it's also a quagmire. This is where lazy fair-weather fans stick their nose in the door and make bold assumptions and idiotic statements. This is where talk-radio thrives, in this cavern. If you don't watch the team consistently, you don't have the right or the ability to comment effectively about the moves and transactions of the team. End of story.
And if you don't play ball, well, that doesn't mean you can't be a fan. It doesn't mean you can't enjoy this sport as much as anyone else. But it does mean that you aren't seeing the whole thing. You aren't capturing the entire event. You see what's there, sure, but you can't understand why it's happening like it is. The base level is missing, and the foundation is built on the experience AS A FAN, not as a player.
So what does it matter? Am I any better than Big Greg in Woodbury who thinks the Wally trade was bullshit because he had so much heart, just because I can properly shoot and dribble a basketball and know my way around the court? Well, not better. But I am close to the game, and when I see NBA players make their moves and perform their drills, well, shit, I know it from experience. And that brings the familiarity, the knowledge. And so, in a way (prepare to crank up hyperbole, NOW) I guess I speak their language, or at least, I understand it. I'm not fluent, oh no. But I know a few nouns and participles. And you don't have to stop and explain to me why Nash is going under the pick and roll against AC.
It's because AC isn't a threat to shoot.
Ha ha. See, I know.
If he has surgery on his ankle, it's over. Since his first injury (the high ankle sprain against Indy in the preaseason of 03), he has not been the same. In flashes, maybe he has resembled his former self, but over the long haul, he has been very different. His game is jump shooting now - he invented the term "heat check". He gets in the game and starts jacking up shots. It's not the way he should play, and it's not the way he used to play. He doesn't fit with the team at all. Hey sucko, if we wanted someone to go in there and jack shots up we would just put McCants in. He's good for 10 right off the get. Troy can't hang with the decent shooters, and he's lost both the confidence and stability of his ankles to make any drives into the lane. In short, he is literally a shell of his former self.
Signing him to the contract looks like an idiot move now, but you can't really say that at the time. First of all, he's not breaking the bank (makes about half as much as Wally). Secondly, coming off an ankle surgery, you can never say for sure if a player is "done". Sure, there is more risk that they will be slowed and have reoccuring injuries, but that's no reason to just give up on him. I don't think the signing was terrible, but it certainly didn't shake the world. In the end, if Troy had stayed healthy, it was entirely reasonable to pay him 6 million a year to be a solid backup.
And if I walked down the street this afternoon and found a hundred dollar bill, I'd have a hundred dollars to my name.
Now it's just bad. If he has surgery on this ankle, that's it, lights out, Terrell Brandon and Michael Williams here we come. Troy is signed until 2010, and during that final year he will make 6.7 million. And make no mistake about it, he WILL NOT contribute anything else to the Wolves if he has surgery on that ankle. I've seen how drastically different his game is now, just after the first surgery. If he has the second, he's going to be nothing.
So allow me to sigh and look down at the bottom of a drained New Castle from MacKenzie and say.... it was good seeing you again, Troy. Too bad you had to be all broken and stuff. But don't worry, we're used to it around here.
Now then, the other point is that the Wolves need to Win Games Now.
No more "waiting for the new guys to gel". No more tinkering with the lineup. Banks, Hass, Buckets, God and Mad Dog. Go. That's your team. Eddie and Blunt are the first off the bench. Run McCants in there to spell Ricky, and AC for Banks. Go. Just get this done. Frahm, Jaric, and Dupree don't need to play at all. In fact, AC doesn't need to play that much either. The point is there is no more need to tinker. You've got your guys. Get at them.
The reason I say it in this way is because we should have easily beaten Cleveland on Wednesday night. Nobody played horribly, and Cleveland was junk in stretches. So why did we lose? Well, it was a combination of sucking when it mattered and bad officiating. And the team looked like they knew each other and knew where the offense was supposed to be going. The turnovers (7!) were good to see, and the way they flowed was good. In fact, I'm still at a loss as to why they couldn't win that game by 10 points. And James had an off night too... Let's not dwell.
The point is that it's go time. 4 games before the all-star break: Utah, NOOCH, Toronto and Seattle. All four are winnable games. In fact, I will state right now (in the context of losses to Cleveland, Golden State and Portland still haunting): if the Wolves don't win all 4 of these games, they are headed for the lottery. Ok, maybe that's a bit rash, but that's what I'm feeling right now... if they can't take care of these 4 teams, there is little hope as to how they can overcome some better teams.
Oh, and by "headed for the lottery", I mean "you're welcome, Clippers".
Dr. Dre - Surgery (lyrics)
February 8, 2006
Anyways, back to Dallas. They’re playing defense. Avery should win coach of the year, like all the jack-ass experts say, and he should win it running away if they end up stealing the #1 seed from the Spurs. The only way he shouldn’t win it is if Flip breaks the Bulls 72-win record – going undefeated for the rest of the way. There was talk early that he wasn’t gonna be the guy, but he’s gotten his players to buy into his system and that team is flourishing. They lose Michael Finley, who I felt, was going to be a tough guy to replace, but then Josh Howard put his hand up in class and asked about the homework. Mike wasn’t a bad defender, but he wasn’t as good as Josh Howard. They got a little younger and a little more athletic and dumped a ridiculous amount of contract. Damp even looks like he cares – a little bit anyways. Dirk is having himself another MVP season without Steve Nash and Jason Terry has finally gotten comfortable.
Now wait a minute, I’m not counting San Antonio out…
They’ll be there. They haven’t played as well as they can so far this season, mostly due to various injuries. Manu and Timmy D have been hobbled this season, while Tony Parker has shown he’s the real deal. Many a night TP has been wiping his butt with the opposition. He’s leading the league in Point in the Paint, and is 4th in FG% - at point guard! I hate him as much as the next guy, but there’s no denying he’s a player and, in the words of Stuart Scott; M-m-m-m-m-m-m-oookie! Okay, well maybe not, but you get my drift.
February 6, 2006
Trenton Hassell: "Play a role and catch a bullet hole..."
Rashad McCants: "Let the money drip-dry, hundred dollar bills wipe the tears from my eyes"
Kevin Garnett: "NO"
So that was certainly a hot game. I saw the same things tonight I saw against Boston a week ago. Only difference is that it was against a legit opponent, on the road.
So what was different between this game and the last few?
It's a hornets nest right now, so I'm not going to dive into it yet, but in case you missed it, Jaric sat the entire game, allowing a gangster (little Markie Banks, have it kid!) to go off and counteract the Canadian. I loved it. You can't stop Nash on defense, so you have to throw something at him to make him D up and actually work. And Marcus did that and then some tonight.
But of course, the story is SHAWN MARION RETURN TO SENDER, SNATCHO!!!!! YOU THINK YOU CAN COME INTO KG'S HOUSE AND KICK HIS DOG, EAT ALL OF HIS PIE AND TAKE A SHOT IN THE LANE AT THE BUZZER??? THIS AIN'T THAT KIND OF PARTY, AND THE 40S ARE ALREADY WARM, SKUNK!!!!
There are times when even the best of us question KG at the end of games. Does he have it? Is he the "dagger" type of player? Maybe he needs someone else in there to pass to...
Yeah, how about NO? How about, NO, that shot isn't going in? How about, NO, I'm not missing these throws. How about, NO, I don't need anyone else, just me and this goddamned ball. And it's going down and you can't stop it. Suns.
So this was pretty satisfying, and I hope it doesn't sound as if I'm too overjoyed. I just love endings like this. I love it when Kevin Garnett just jumps higher than you and blocks your pathetic shot. I love it when Marcus Banks practically needs a wheelbarrow to lug his sack around. I love it when Hassell is all Austin Peay again. And I love wins against quality opponents, because they give Hope.
And yeah, I'm all for sitting Jaric for awhile until these new thugs figure each other out.
February 2, 2006
Chauncey Billups - Hey, he didn't score 18 points in the third to bury us. He scored half that in the whole game. Hassel spent most of the night guarding him and it was effective. He had 7 assists and no turnovers, but he was 3-10 from the floor. They didn't really need him last night, but he didn't light us up.
Trenton Hassell - He scored as many points as KG, on better shooting. I really like the new T-Hass. He's really been playing aggressively on both sides of the floor and has been looking for his shot. People are always talking about a third scorer, but if you can add his increased contribution to the other new guys, then the third scorer talk should stop.
No Dunk Contest - Unlike the last game, in which it was the Detroit bench dunk contest, the Wolves were the ones running at the end of the night. Sure, it was embarassing, but not that embarassing.
Fourth Quarter - We finally outscored someone besides the Boston Celtics. Sure, it wasn't by much, but hey, beggers can't be choosers. The fourth quarters this season have been our worst, which is weird because we started so strong in that department. I know, it was against the Pistons 7th grade team, but still.
Yeah, there wasn't really much to look at in this game, at least on our team. Of course watching Ben Wallace control the game was pretty amazing. I don't watch the Pistons very much, so I had forgotten exactly how great an athelete he is. About the only blemish on his night were the two air-balled free throws. Of course, when you've collected 17 rebounds and 4 steals, while out blocking the other team, you can get away with that.
In short, the Wolves, a work in progress, came into a hostile enviroment and got beat down by the best team in basketball. I thought that it might be a little closer than it was, but hey, I picked the Wolves to win a championship last year, so we know how accurate I can be. I'm not alarmed by the loss, even though it stings a little, and I look forward to seeing this team once all the clocks are set to the right time.
February 1, 2006
You can find an absolutely HILARIOUS interview at Hoopshype.com with Michael Olowokandi about his recent trade and his future. Apologies to HH, but I'm going to be copying a great deal of that interview in this post, because this just plain BEGS to be addressed.
I would imagine that you would eventually want to be a starter for this team.
MO: Oh, yeah. I know I can play. It’s just a matter of being given an opportunity. When I was with the Clippers, I was in a situation that was very different than advertised. With the Wolves, I was told what my role would be and then, when I got there, there was some disparity. So I’m looking forward to being on a team where I’m needed.
Oh, and he's NEEDED on the Celtics? Wow, they are in a lot more trouble than I thought.
Of all the players involved in the Boston-Minnesota trade, was there a more delighted player about being moved than you?
MO: You’re right. I’m very happy I got traded. Back in Minnesota, I think I’d come in each season and have a good, strong start, only to, I guess, be involved in politics. So I’m definitely happy to be out of there.
Now, let me pause here. I just realized that the casual reader might take my tone to mean that I am upset with Kandi for saying these things after he left. That is absolutely not the case. Let me state unconditionally that I am "definitely happy" to have Kandi out of here. In fact, I would say I'm happier than anyone in the United States to see him gone. And his comments are incredibly funny to me.... I mean this is a very unique situation: a player who came to a team and never contributed anything at all, who was injured frequently, and never tried his hardest, who always looked for only his stats and never played well when it mattered, and he is now complaining that "it was just a bad situation" and that he's "looking forward to a new team". Let's not forget that he played with Kevin Garnett. If you can't get along well with him, go die.
You mentioned your role in Minnesota was different than what you told it would be after you signed with them as a free agent. How was it different?
MO: I was there two and a halt seasons and, if anything, I should express gratitude. But my role was different than what I would have liked it to have been. I still tried my best by rebounding and playing defense. But I’m not an outside player. Every time I played against the bigger teams like San Antonio I thought I did a pretty solid job on Tim Duncan and did the things they wanted me to do. But, obviously, things didn’t work out.
OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD. A bigger lie has never been told. Hang on, here's another one:
Not to belabor the point, but how did Timbewolves officials renege on the promises they made to you as a free agent?
MO: We talked and I expressed the fact that I saw the player they had before, Rasho Nesterovic, who went to the Spurs, and they didn’t really utilize him. I knew Rasho back in Europe, where he had a pretty good career. He was a very good, low-post player there. And I told them that I felt he was often overlooked and I expressed that concern about that happening to me. And they told me that I would be playing more in the post. But that didn’t happen. I was always on the weak side.
HA HA HA!!!! "They told me that I would be playing more in the post. But that didn't happen. I was always on the weak side." I can guarantee that 100% of the players and personnel involved with the Timberwolves would have liked to see Michael Olowokandi work more in the post. The problem was that he just couldn't stop hoisting up retardo hook shots from 15 feet.
You were once the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and thus a lot of lofty expectations were placed upon you. But in seven seasons, you have averaged double figures in scoring twice. How would you summarize your career?
MO: I think I had to contend with a number of things. Perhaps if my stay with the Clippers had been longer, it would have been smoother. And, then when I went to Minnesota, hindsight, as they say, is 20-20. If I could have done it differently and gone somewhere else, perhaps things would have worked out differently. But it isn’t about how you start something; it’s about how you end things. So that’s what I’m looking forward to. I see this as year one. I think this is a massive restructure for the teams and it’s a massive restructure for myself also.
Lewis Black once did a bit that said "You don't even need a punchline at all. Just say "Michael Jackson". If you forget the joke, just say "Michael Jackson" and you'll get a laugh. The man is a walking joke." That's how I feel about this last comment. I could attempt to make a joke or some sort of reaction, but it's better to just leave it there, standing for the whole world to see. Amazing.
And to Kandi, here's something from Cube:
"With no vaseline,
Just a match and a little bit of gasoline.
Light em up, burn em up, flame on,
Til that jheri curl is gone..."