Jun 27, 2009

I Miss You Basketball/Football/Hockey...

Sure, Wimbledon is on, and there is a big soccer match tomorrow, but really who cares? Sports purgatory, you can't end soon enough.

Until we get what we want sports fans, there's always things like this to put a smile on your face.

"I know you're gonna do what you do, but be smart about it."

You stay classy, Mario Chalmers.


Jun 25, 2009

Draft Day

Let’s get something straight: NFL Draft Day is my Christmas. It takes up my entire day, I get immersed in all things football, and I am ruined for the next whole day. The NBA Draft is a different animal, because while the warm up to the NFL draft is a slow build of combines and private workouts, the NBA draft is a week-long celebration punctuated with crazy trades, values rising and falling, and the hopes and fates of young men decided. It leaves me so drained, I almost forget that we are immersed in sports purgatory. I guess the best equivalent of Draft Week is Hanukah. Only with fewer candles.

One of the toughest things about the NBA Draft is the fact that no one stays for any meaningful amount of time anymore, so it is hard to develop opinions on players. With the NFL Draft, you usually have a body of work of at least two years to judge a player by (unless that player is impatient Matt Sanchez – just ask Pete Carrol). And no, I’m not going to launch into my tirade about the reasons I don’t enjoy college basketball as much as the NBA, but it’s hard to know just how good Evans is from Memphis in only a year (BTW, I don’t think he is an NBA starting PG). No, the most exciting part of the NBA Draft Week is the Week itself; watching teams (Minny) stockpile picks in a bad draft, and watching players (Griffin) anxiously await a fate worse than death: The Clippers.

But, for the Atlanta sports fan, the NBA Draft has meant many unhappy returns. Acie Law IV, Sheldon Williams, (not) Chris Paul…and that’s just the last 5 years. We habitually make the wrong decision in these places, sticking the fans with watching a player who is getting paid too much, even with the rookie pay scale, and is untradable, because he shouldn’t have been drafted in the first place. I’m getting nauseous just thinking about it. All this ineptitude, coupled with our recent ownership woes had me less than excited for tonight. Plus, there were more than a few rumors flying around about us moving our recently extended young power forward/swing man/dunk machine Josh Smith for Chris Bosh: the best player on a 30 win team, a third banana at best, and a guarantee lock to opt out after this season.

Tuesday. Hope? Rumblings abounded that a move of Acie Law and Speedy Claxton (how is he still getting an NBA paycheck!!!) to the Warriors for Jamal “19.7 a game last year?” Crawford. From a logical sense, I was elated: we were shedding two bad contracts for bad players, and while were going to be paying Crawford 20 million over the next two, in a year, he becomes an expiring contract, and good trade bait. If we could turn his expiring deal into two decent mid level guys next year, I’d be elated. From a basketball perspective, the trade is a bit more problematic, the main problem being, where does he play? Unless you move Marvin (bad idea?), there is no place for him in the starting 5, but if you can convince him to replace Flip Murray’s role of instant offense (can’t believe I just wrote THAT)off the bench, then it works. But, will the front office not push to have a 10 million a year guy on the floor? Maybe the Hawks aren’t done, and can turn Crawford into room to lure a veteran PG here.

See, it’s stuff like this that makes the whole week so interesting. Things like the Spurs making a move for the last two years of Richard Jefferson’s deal, effectively announcing that they are going to make one last push while Tim Duncan is still at the height of his powers (or at least reasonably close). Even though it is highly uncharacteristic of the Spurs management to pay four guys 8 figures each, the move speaks to the fact that they have decided the direction they want to move in, and made a decisive move to get there. Tony Parker and his 11 million a year might be moving (sell high!), but Pop and co. have sent a message to their star and their fans: they want to win now. For lessons on how NOT to handle an offseason, one has to look no further than last year’s champs the Boston Celtics.

The rumor (and revealed truth) of Tuesday had the Celtics offering up Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo to the Pistons for Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. Now, everyone gets why they would move Ray: he’s an expiring contract, he probably has one more extension in him, and the Celtics don’t want to give it to him. Basketball wise, meh, but it makes good front-office sense. Rondo makes peanuts, and was a triple double machine in the playoffs. So why is he being shopped (and why is this not the first time it’s happened)? While no specific stories have come out, the rumors are that there are some behind-the-music issues that have the Celts uncomfortable about committing long term to Rondo. But, as opposed to saying something to that effect, GM Danny Ainge came to a press conference somehow talking out of three sides of his mouth. Take some time, track the video down, I’ll wait.

Pretty funny, huh?

Now, he’s put himself in a position where they almost HAVE to move Rondo, because what they’ve done will only serve to exacerbate whatever issues already exist. And the rest of the Association knows it and will use it to their advantage. Except for Chris Wallace. Phoenix with their deal last night, either made a great decision to blow up what they had, and work to the future, or pooped on their fans again. Don’t worry, I’ll be taking a longer look at the Shaq trade this weekend. But, what about the main event? What about the draft itself?

I hate to (be the 1,456,932nd person to) say it, but this class sucks. Case in point: Tyler Hansbrough. After his sophomore year, he was touted as a sure-fire lottery pick. But he stayed. And we watched him be the same player for the next two years. The EXACT same. The only reason to stay in college is to grow as a player in that environment (Stephen Curry), and he stayed the same. So, his draft value has yo-yoed ever since. From lottery pick, to late first round, to mid second, and now, after these workouts, back in to the first. No one is discovering anything new about him (mostly because you have seen all of it already), but they are figuring out how bad this class is. And this assertion that it is a great point guard class? Maybe a great BACKUP point guard class. Aside from Curry, Flynn and Rubio (who I am borderline obsessed with), there isn’t that much talent. Ty Lawson? Great up and down the court, but can’t go lateral. Tyreke Evans? Average athletically, wilted on the big stage in March. (Okay, full disclosure: I REALLY want the Hawks to get VCU point guard Eric Maynor, but I didn't want to jinx it. I thought about it some, and to hell with jinxes. Let's go Birds!!!)

I don’t know who is going where, but hopefully we’ll see some big trades and Blake Griffin’s knees explode when he walks to the stage. Just kidding. No need to hope for what HAS to happen. See you tonight.

Jun 24, 2009

I Hate Soccer...






Jun 22, 2009

Oh Happy Day

Big ups to all the real fathers...but today is OUR day. Happy Not-A-Father's day to all of us who went another year without procreating!

And in acknowledgement of this great day, someone should buy me this:
Hope to see you all celebrating next year too.

Jun 4, 2009


So, this NBA Finals is causing a bit of internal strife. In my head, I mean. I hate Kobe (excuse me, the MAMBA), but this three-point fest the Magic have been riding has to stop. Right? I enlisted one of my Laker fan friends Rake Colson to discuss the matter:

DP: So I started this job Monday, and have been training so far. But, while I have been filing my head with the ins and outs of the mortgage industry, I can’t help but wonder what life is like for you? I mean, you admit your superstar is a sociopath, your coach was almost matched by George Karl, your 2nd banana is a European who slanted his eyes in the Spain Basketball team picture, and your third banana is a candy nut straight out of Willy Wonka.

Not to mention, that aside from your MVPuppet, your entire backcourt is a section 8, to the point that Shannon Brown has become a vital cog to your team.

Do I know Kobe's a sociopath, a spoiled brat, an egomaniac? Yes, of course - I have second hand evidence. Friend of my dad's works for AEG, which owns Staples, and Mamba is universally reviled, from the janitors to Phil Anschuetz (the CEO). If he weren't everyone's meal ticket, he would probably have been the victim of a car bomb by now. Also of note: with the exception of Malone and Payton (who had to be convinced by Shaq), no premier free agent has ever taken less money to play with Kobe. With the exception of Malone and Carmelo, no NBA player has ever admitted to being friends with Kobe, and he even lost Karl with the whole "little white girls" thing. From all reports, he doesn't have an entourage, doesn't have friends, and is single-mindedly focused on basketball and cementing his legacy as a top 5 all-time guard. Is that a good thing for the Lakers and their fans? Yeah, probably. But with a title loss, this house of cards can come crumbling down real quick. It won't be like the painful summer of 2004, but it won't be far from it.

Phil was not "almost matched" by George Karl. The only person George Karl almost matched was Chris Dougherty in the "red faced" department. That series was never about anyone outcoaching anyone else, and if anything, Karl gave away two games with his inbound play brilliance. Phil has been slipping for some time, yes, but he was never a great game coach - his greatest skill is getting everyone on the same page. With the Bulls, that meant keeping MJ from murdering everyone else; with the 2000-2004 Lakers, it meant keeping Shaq and Kobe from murdering one another; with the 2006-2009 Lakers, it means keeping everyone from murdering Kobe AND keeping Kobe from murdering Bynum.

RE: Spanish national team picture -- what's the issue? You have to love Pau - he looks completely unathletic, he runs like a less-gay Bruno, and he just so happens to be one of the most versatile big men in the league. Oh, and he and Ariza are the Lakers MVPs -- in that, if they're on, we win. When they're not, we don't. It's as simple as that.

Lamar, for some reason, doesn't drive me nuts. In fact, I love his consistent inconsistency. I just hope it doesn't show up over the next few weeks.

Shannon Brown can play! I don't know where that came from, but he's a great fit for this team. And considering we have to contend with Skip-to-my-Lou and 45% of a getting-up-to-speed Jameer Nelson, I'm not too worried about the PG matchup.

I think you know what matchup I am worried about, though. The big question to me is: will DJ Mbenga see time in this series? If he does, game over.

There's a scenario in the back of my head where Dwight goes insane and throws up a 34-16 for the series, SVG comes up with some amazing defensive scheme and shuts us down, they hit every 3 like they've been doing, and we get embarrassed along the lines of 2004. That scenario is analogous to my bonus, in that we'll find out about it in the next few weeks, and that I try not to think about it too much because it's so painful and soul-crushing and denies everything I/the Lakers have worked so hard for.

So yes, I'm keeping my expectations low.

DP: Wait, wait, wait. I watched LeBron and the MAMBA grinning it up on national television during that sit-down interview. I SAW IT! They were palling around like the Schnieder and Columba of their time. You trying to tell me that while LBJ was making fun of Kobe with the ‘high-shorts’ joke, and basically mocking him openly, the MAMABA was only smiling for the cameras? He was actually sizing up The King, deciding the best way to incapacitate him with his butter knife? What?

Good thing he’s focused on cementing his legacy as a top five guard…since he isn’t there yet, and won’t get there based on his only two Finals appearances we have where he was the best player (04, Detroit, 08, Boston). Right now, he’s a top-five second banana in NBA history, since there are 5 better guards off the top of my head…Jordan, Magic, Oscar, Logo, Isaiah. And they all won rings as the man…which he HAS to do, unless he wants to go down in the ‘Pippen, Drexler, D. Robinson, and other players who only won titles as the OTHER GUY on their team’ group.

If y’all lose…I don’t even know. Sure, the answer SEEMS to be move everyone (MAMBA included), but, as has been pointed out over and over and over again, this is a nearly broke league; who takes on the MAMBA’s deal? And for what? You’ve got him for at least another 82. Get comfortable. Because I don’t know if the Magic can’t win this thing.

SVG (he looks like he needs initials) hasn’t REALLY been tested coaching wise so far (ol’ what’s-his-face in Philly, Doc, and M.Brown), but he has shown a great ability to adjust on the fly within the series. Phil may be a peacemaker, but against SVG (does this make him cooler?) the Lake-Show need him to be a basketball coach. He’s aged more poorly than Coolio’s entire catalog. He’s aged more poorly than Ted Pitt. And his BASKETBALL COACHING, you know, what he’s paid to do, has been slow to adjust to things like No-more-Yao. You know, like Lamar adjusts constantly to sometimes playing/sometimes not during series. And don’t get me started on Wonka’s Swayze in the Finals last year.

Pau is a racist. There. I said it.

Not worried about the backcourt matchup? NOT WORRIED? You sound like the Indians being ‘not worried’ about the disease laden blankets the palefaces brought with them. Do you remember Aaron Brooks (AARON BROOKS?!?!) eviscerating your backcourt a week ago? Have you not seen what penetrating point guards do to the carbon cut-outs you stick back there? It would be funny if it wasn’t so damn sad. Chauncy Billups is a cerebral game manager, and y’all decimated him; no one will ever confuse Skip and Anthony Johnson for the Artist Formally Known As Mr. Big Shot.

Shannon Brown. Good one.

DJ Mbenga. Better one. Though, Chris Mihm got some burn last year, so maybe Phil is aging worse than Larry Legend.

The more I think about how weird these playoffs have been (the Magic are shooting like 47% from three!), the more and more your nightmare seems likely. Is it impossible for the Magic to split the first two in LA? Is it impossible for them to take 2 of 3 in O-Town, culminating with a rout in the last game in Orlando, the MAMBA sharpening his knives as he quits on the floor (see also, last year and 2007 against the Suns)? Can you really count on this crew to close out the final two games in Staples. Me neither.

Dear god, am I about to take the Magic in 6? YES WE CAN. SI SE PUEDE!


We'll see what takes place in this little argument today. This could just be part 1.