April 23, 2007
In the first, the Pistons walked through a victory over the Magic, playing at about 80 percent and withstanding two not-quite-enough runs. The winner was never in doubt.
In the second, it's actually still being played as I type this. But it's been predictibly BORING. I can tell you that either Houston or Utah will win this game, and that it won't matter at all, because nobody could stay awake to see the winner, including the officials.
Anyway, late last night I saw two games that peeled the paint off the roof and gave my family a permanent orange afro. CUBAN HAD TO PUT UP TRAPS, BECAUSE THE WARRIORS WERE GETTING BUNNIES ALL OVER HIS LAWN!!!!
In the first game, apparently Carmelo Anthony is a very fit basketball player now. See, I always figured him to discover hot cross buns and get up to C. Barks level, but he must've gone out and visited Dick Enrico in the offseason. Seriously, somebody call a doctor because his arms are cut. And he played possessed last night.
I think this game was lost by San Antonio, however, because they just kind of sucked offensively. I don't know if they are broken or not, but they weren't doing it last night. I was wrong about Robert Horry though, he hasn't ballooned up to a disproportionate level. He made a sicko move last night and took Nene to the snack bar. Speaking of Nene, ok, so he doesn't let rebounds get away from him? Between him and Camby, I dare say the Nuggets are strong enough inside to make a deep run. My gut tells me that these scumbags will go back to sucking, but my playoff sense wouldn't be surprised to see them go hard, and deep. That's just what Francisco Elson would want. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwww.
In the second game, we found ourselves at famed Rucker Park for the Puma Pumps Slam Em Jam Em Full Court 9 Foot Dunk And Sunk Challenge. G State runs. Then they run more. I think the only thought that goes through the heads of the 5 guys on the floor is "Get ball, score ball, when get ball? Score ball, run and dunk ball, shoot three, get ball, where is ball? Block ball, get ball, dunk ball." Don Nelson has them like crackheads after a day-old from Brueggers. They ran the Mavs out of the gym, just completely handcuffing them and brutalizing their sorry squad. Cuban stood up many times and yelled loudly, likely feeling confident because of his totally tubular goatee (I ain't dissin you Mark, you're my dog!), but the refs couldn't even swing this one to Dallas. Seriously, have you seen a team run around the floor with so much fervor before? So much psychotically driven energy dedicated to simply playing ghetto ball at each and every turn?
I think Don Nelson is overrated here. I think this game was about the completely ghetto factor of Golden State - who starts Stephen Jackson AND Al Harrington - and Baron Davis, who looked like he was back in Charlotte having himself some home-baked cookies with every three. I heard the announcer say something like they hadn't seen him play this well ever, but that's not true. I saw him hit like 5 threes in a row during the last year the Hornets were in the playoffs, which coincided with the last year the Hornets were in NORTH CAROLINA. He was good then, and then he had a few backiotomies, and now he's just as good. We could've had him for Spree.
78-70 Rockets. Good night.
April 22, 2007
Anyway, I'm back in The Land Of Eating now, and I am not embarrassed to admit that I've watched roughly 15 hours of playoff basketball this weekend, with 5 more to come tonight. It's been goddamned incredible. I feel reconnected with the game, seeing old friends and enemies, ingesting the sport like some people around here do but with double bacon burgers. In that vein, I've seen quite a few advertisements for this Wendy's burger where they seal the cheese and bacon and mushrooms between two burger patties. Seriously? Are you sure you can't just give me a loaded gun to shoot directly into my chest?
Ok, I'm way out there. Back to the NBA: I'm pretty excited for this postseason, and I think we've got some pretty good matchups in the first round, and down the road. Let's break down what I've seen so far in this first weekend, to the tune of NWA lyrics:
Miami Heat / "Only one way for you to pass, yo, get treated like a king and they crown your ass"
The Heat are a marked team. They are not, however, a pushover. They hung with the Bulls pretty well, and I wouldn't be surprised if they came back and won this series fairly quickly. I know, I know, the Bulls played pretty well, but I think the Heat are just so incredibly beat up, and if they start gunning and closing out, they're going to be back to last season's form. Wade is a complete monster, he's the guy that you just can't take your eyes off if you're Chicago. I wouldn't be surprised for this series to go either way, actually, but I'm predicting the Heat to win it.
Of course, keep in mind that I watched my first Wolves game this season a week ago. So, yeah.
Phoenix Suns / "Been runnin since the fired the gun and started the clock, that's when the E jumped off the starting block"
Ummm, this team is absolutely ridiculous. They can go down by 8 or 10 points then just tie it up in like 2 minutes. Steve Nash, whom many writers who earn a hell of a lot of money to make somewhat accurate predictions said should be in a back brace by this point in his career, plays the game like fucking Neo. Do his feet ever hit the ground? I've never been a huge fan of Nash, primarily because of his face and the way that it looks like what you'd look like if you finally got to the front of the line and got to pee after you had to wait for 5 hours, but he's so incredibly gifted in this offensive strategy. I'm not sure that they even run plays anymore, just Steve creating in his head.
On the other side though, Kobe Bryant is the best basketball player in the world right now. He started making shots from the elbow in today's game, then just kept going back to the same spot 3 more times and hit 2 threes. Then, before he missed one, he faked the shot and drove the lane. The result was free throws. The point is that he knows what he can get the defense to do, and he knows he is capable of scoring any time, against any set. It's just a matter of how he's going to do it.
The future of this series? I have no idea, other than that I will watch all of the games if I can, because this is goddamned good basketball.
Although, I kind of hate that Farmar guy a lot. I mean, quite a lot. He might do better if he wiped the "My sister just took away my power ranger doll that I put in a dress because I'm confused and now I need to yell to mom to get it back for me" look off his face.
Cleveland Cavaliers / "See I beat, and then I creep on a fool, keep my blood pressure high, but still stay cool"
Dumb NBA writers will keep waiting for LeBron to "take over" and "assert himself" and "begin creating his playoff legend", and I'll keep waiting for the majority of them to lose some weight. In the meantime, I'll watch this man fly up and down the court in a physical display that looks psychotically impossible. The Wizards hung in this game, and it was fun to watch, but my eyes are always just drifting towards LeBron. I can't describe his game, because it's too broad and good. I can describe what I think when he has a breakaway, and it's "DAMN!"
I do agree with the TNT crew in that this series is going to get gangster before it's all said and done. We're talking fights. And if LeBron wants to begin his playoff resume, I would suggest "Punching Antawn Jamison" as a good place to start.
Utah Jazz / "Even if Yella makes it a capella, I still express yo I don't smoke weed or cess"
Good god almighty, I don't know if I'll be able to take in the rest of this series because I'll be busy WATCHING PAINT DRY. Utah starts Derek Fisher, Mehmet Okur, and Carlos Boozer. These are the three most boring basketball players that have ever worn shoes. Jerry Sloan just wants the game to be 50-46. The Rockets jumped out to an 8-0 lead in like two minutes, but then in came the Jazz and completely mucked the game up. Watching this game was a big burst of confidence for me: even though I spent the entire season in a country where they play fucking Netball as a national sport (that's basketball but without a backboard and dribbling, and also without fun), I can still accurately handicap a Jazz game.
The Rockets will win this series, but only if they can keep Skip To My Lou awake.
New Jersey Nets / "This is what I want you to do, feel the groove, bust a move, yo yo I'm tired, what about you? Man, this is somethin to dance to!"
Did you see Vince's Breakin-esque throwdown before the game on Saturday? Oh look at him go! Dancin all crazy!!! And on the same floor that he used to play!! He's so much happier and energetic now that he's with his new team!!!!
He also looks like he should be at Gameworks on Friday nights playing DDR with four buddies who sip their beers and scan the crowd for girls that are "old enough".
The Raptors are not a very complete basketball team, and the Nets will defeat them. This much is obvious. I do, however, LOVE it when guys get booed every time they touch the ball. It reminds me of Bertuzzi. Or Bowl of Kandi, when he came back with the Celtics after the trade. Hey Mike, you see how we cheered Wally? Yeah, he's a good man, and tries. We boo you because your not made of blood and bones but rather garbage.
Anyway, yes, I think the Nets will win the series, but I also think that Sam Mitchell is not above putting a "hit" out (just ask Chaney about this) on Carter or Kidd, because I think Toronto will play dirty if they have to. Lord knows ever since Ford got dumped on his neck by Mad-Dog, he's been playing on borrowed time.
Detroit Pistons / "Murder was a dirty job to rob, a dead man was the best plan cause a dead man never ran"
And finally, the Pistons, your 2007 NBA champions. Yeah, GOOD LUCK, ORLANDO. Flip doesn't even look like he needs a cigarette, which doesn't bode well for the rest of the NBA.
I'm watching the other two games tonight, so I'm sure I'll have some really insightful reflections on those for you later. I can tell you're holding your breath. As a prelude, I will say that Kevin Harlan rules, and that Robert Horry got fat while I was in New Zealand. Maybe he ate too many double baco-burgers. Oh, and Don Nelson... let's just say I think it's NBA regulations to have defibulators in every locker room, and they might want to think about wheeling one up to the scorer's table for tonight's game.
April 19, 2007
Watching Randy Wittman stalk the sidelines with an angered look on his face while is team is down 20 in a game against the worst team in the league, on the final night of a forgettable season, was almost funny. It almost seemed like he was trying to prove that he wasn't tanking, even if the rest of the franshise was. He almost had me convinced. Then Justin Reed started shooting...and shooting...and shooting...and shooting. It was no Mad Dog three-point-athon, but it was close. On no less than three occasions Reed was taking a 17-foot jumper with 23 seconds on the shot clock. He took 12 shots, missed 9 of them - 7 were layups, and committed 5 fouls in a heavy 28 minutes of action. It was fairly clear that he'd been given the green light by coach. Again, it wasn't Madsen jackin' threes, but it wasn't that far removed either. Aside from that, the game was just an ugly slugfest of bad teams playing poor basketball. Even Sid had a hard time stomaching the game last night - he didn't even eat all his chocolate covered raisins.
There were some highlights though.
- Two guys were "escorted" out of the building because they refused to put away their 'Fire McFail' signs. I agree with their sentiment, but I felt bad for the usher - poor guy looked like he might have a heart attack(is that cheese sauce in your mustache?).
- From the seats we had - row 9 behind the basket - we could hear everything Dahntay Jones and Buckets were saying to whoever they were saying it to. Dahntay Jones made a point to point and yell at 5 empty seats after he made a 7-foot jumper over no one. He's real classy.
- Randy Foye had himself a very good game with 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists on 10-15 shooting. It was a quiet night for the numbers he put up. Mike James played fairly well too.
- Local "sports writer" Sid Hartman was so displeased with the game that he decided to wander up and chat with Fred Hoiberg and Rob Babcock. He left his chocolate covered raisins behind after he put in all that hard work to get the box of candy open in the first place. What a waste...
- I got to shake Fred Hoiberg's hand. Well, it was more of a high-five, but I wished him luck in the upcoming draft. He's such a stand up guy and, based on Craig Smith, I'm comfortable going into the draft knowing he has a hand in our selections.
For being such a bad basketball game, it was a good time had by all. Having great seats really does make being at a terrible game a much better experience. I would've liked to have seen them atleast try to make it look like they weren't trying to lose the game, but beggars can't be choosers can they?
April 16, 2007
With that said, I had good intentions in narrowing down to a list of, oh, 3-4 who were truly terrible...the worst referees in the NBA. But then, my list mushroomed to a dozen, and it was difficult really narrowing it down. We could talk about Steve Javie, Violet Palmer, or even their leader Stu Jackson...but the more I researched this idea, the more depressed I became. Why? I know that the playoffs will begin and some numskull will start calling fouls at random...see some things and not others, and in general ruin the game.
I want the NBA to prove me wrong. It won't. And this, this is our future. Fuck, I give up.
(The attempt of this article comes from Trip hearing a network TV announcer calling a particularly awful ref "one the greats of all time" right after he made back-to-back horseshit calls. This announcer needs to realize that he's not being paid by the NBA, but a broadcast...er, cable network.)
April 5, 2007
Ok, so I'm still in the Land of the Long and White, but I read something that caught my eye: Marc Stein's interview with KG over at ESPN. Now, apparently sometime early this season Simmons wrote something about saving KG from the "mediocrity" of Minnesota. I didn't read that because Bill Simmons' views about the NBA outside of Boston and LA have become extremely one dimensional and are lacking proper research. If I've said it once I've said it a hundred times: no sports writer in the entire country can properly evaluate KG and his place in the Minnesota sports world without living here or being closely connected to him. And KG doesn't let people get close to him. So opinions like that fall on deaf ears. Except for all the other horses out there who are reading him and taking it all as gospel.
Anyway, reading this interview really pulled back a little of the curtain with respect to KG, and I think we're moving towards something big with the organization. Now, as a disclaimer, let me again state that I have watched a total of two NBA games this season. TWO. And neither of them had anything to do with the Timberwolves. However, I have watched KG like no other athlete in my lifetime, and have more respect for him than I have for any other. And because of this, I believe that things are going to work out.
His analysis of the house that he has built is vintage KG. He is the most loyal superstar to ever grace the Minnesota sports scene. If you want to compare him to Kirby, let's not forget that Kirby almost had a contract signed with Boston before re-upping with the Twins in 93. I mean, he says in his autobiography that it was 50-50. I've never heard KG say anything remotely like that. KG knows that the Wolves have rewarded him financially and the fans have rewarded him with unending, unwavering adoration. He knows that he has rewarded us with unrelenting hard work and phenomenal play. What more can he do? In order to leave this team, he has to look himself in the mirror and admit that the desire to win is stronger than his loyalty to fans who have cared for him since his rookie year. In AI's case, I think it's different. I mean, that's Philly. The fans there are unlike any others in the world. They are positively the meanest, loudest, most negative-minded fan base for all of their sports teams. Leaving Philly is no problem. Especially if you know you're going to end up in Denver, the sister-city to Minneapolis. But for KG to leave this place means that he has to forcibly break ties to an incredible group of fans. And that may sound sentimental, but it's the truth.
Look at the average existence of a superstar in the NBA. There are literally dozens of issues that determine where they want to play, and essentially, how their career is shaped. There's coaches, fans, management, teammates, city life, and above all else, money. With KG, you literally throw all those issues out the window. Just watch:
KG is too smart of a basketball player to know that he doesn't know it all. He has relied on coaches for development and knowledge since his days in Mauldin. Flip Saunders made him into a superstar, but not because Flip was an incredible coach. He just let KG develop what was already there. KG knows that the coach is basically responsible for directing the rest of the team. KG's going to do his thing, because he's good enough. The problem that rises so often is when coaches have to come in and "control" players, or "reign them in". When that happens, you never see good results. No coach ever will change KG's style, because he's so goddamned good.
Oh, and KG is incapable of butting heads with a coach. It will never happen. That little sleight he gave Casey in the ESPN interview was honestly the most pointed thing he's ever said about a head coach.
Fans are not an issue with KG. Nobody in Minnesota has ever asked for him to leave. Nobody has ever thought that we would be better off dumping him for draft picks. It doesn't work that way. We love him, he fills the Target Center (or at least, gets it close). Kids idolize him to the degree of Kirby. It will never stop.
HA HA HA. Here is the real problem. Let's come back to this one.
Again, KG rises above. You don't butt heads with KG, because you will lose. You don't challenge him for control of the team, because you will lose. You talk to him, he'll talk back for 10 times longer. You make a move, he'll make a better one. Like Nicky in Casino: you beat him with fists, he comes back with a bat. You beat him with a bat, he comes back with a knife. It's impossible for me to comprehend KG having a problem with his teammates that he doesn't immediately take care of.
This is close to fans, but it's more of the geography and lifestyle of the city. KG has no problem with Minneapolis. He lives in Orono, secluded from all the publicity and hounding that would normally drag him down in a bigger city. A lot of superstars want constant adoration everywhere they go. Not KG. He could care less that it's cold in the winter, he could care less that there's not a glut of night clubs and strip clubs all over downtown. He isn't that kind of man. Yeah, he goes out to Best Buy to buy a DVD and he gets surrounded, of course. But at least he can sleep in peace and quiet, without groupies and posse members constantly harassing him.
It's so big it needs to be capitalized. It's the biggest issue facing NBA players, especially up and coming superstars. Money dictates all else. Why do you think LeBron and Carmelo signed IDENTICAL deals this past summer? Because they know they set the market, and whoever goes first loses. I've said this before, but allow me to repeat one of my theories about professional sports:
To almost every superstar in professional sports, the actual dollar figure they earn means very little. What really matters is respect.
Ok, you think KG cares if his contract is for 100 million or 110 million? What in the hell is 10 more million going to buy? He and his accountant know that the amount of money isn't the issue. He'll never have to want for anything for the rest of his life, and neither will his family and close friends. An extra few million here or there isn't going to change that. The issue is respect. Superstars want a fair deal. It's not greed. It's pride. If someone else who isn't as good as you is making the same amount of money as you, you feel disrespected. And if you tell KG "Well, we're going to give you Paul Pierce money", he would say that's bullshit. He's better than Paul Pierce. A LOT BETTER. And so, that's how it works. If you are one of the elite players in the NBA, you deserve elite money. If you don't get it, there are usually problems. With KG, if he gets it, he's happy. You'll never hear KG dunk a basketball and turn to Glen Taylor during a pre-season game and yell "You gonna pay me now?!?!?". But Shaq did that during his last year with the Lakers. And he's viewed as a goddamned saint.
Really, the only issue that faces KG every day and at every turn is that of management. And it's hard. It's a quagmire, it really is. What can he do? Kevin McHale is one of the worst executives in the NBA, and there are some really shitty ones. Is it possible for KG to demand that Deadzo be fired? No, because Glen and him are dogs from back in the day. Is it possible for KG to demand that Glen sell the team, or just buy it himself? Yeah, in a magical mystery universe that guys who read Pat Reusse believe is possible with just a sprig of fairy dust. He can't do anything. His hands are tied.
If he wants to leave, nobody will ever hold it against him (hopefully). But I don't believe that he ever wants to leave, no matter how bad this team is. Eventually, the Wolves will make another run at things. Eventually some trades will fall into their lap like Spree and Sam. I have faith it will happen again. Lord knows Deadzo isn't going to orchestrate it. In the world of inept GMs, the nice thing to remember is that someone could just call up McHale and drop a little present in his lap, because they're dumber than him.
He built this house, he built up an entire fan base around hard work and spectacular ability. And he's not going to cut and run. I love KG, and he loves all of us back. You give him some decent supporting cast, and you won't hear this talk ever again.
Let's just do that soon, eh?