Where Damon Stoudamire gets his pot.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


My brother just said: "I hate Steve Nash." Not a good way to start the holidays in my family.

Today I'll be running a live blog on the upcoming Lakers/Celtics match. Currently Phoenix trails by one and Tim Duncan - during the past two minutes - has objected to 41 questionable calls.

Tony Parker just received a technical foul with a minute left to play. Duncan looks like he wants to murder the next ref who crosses him.

My brother: "You know what looks bad, white people with cornrows." Agreed, Charlie. Agreed.

Mike Tirico's hairline has regressed quicker than the lawn at Wimbledon's Centre Court by the second week of play.

The Suns run a beautiful play to Grant Hill for the go-ahead bucket. I thought Stoudamire was going to blow it, as he has down the stretch this game. I was even yelling at the television.

Roger Mason nails a three-pointer to win the game after Richardson comes in to defend to Parker drive. Please check the archives, where I've hyped up the Spurs acquisition of Mason in the early season. (It's Christmas, let me take the opportunity to talk myself up a little.)

Spurs 91 Suns 90

The NBA really favours those low-angle shots of players. Yeah ABC, these NBA players don't really look tall enough. More low-angle shots to spike the inferiority complexes of NBA fans.

ABC clearly put their top broadcasting crew on this game. No disrespect to Hubie Brown or anything.

Really hope we see those phony Christmas sound bites of Kobe wishing Merry Christmas to his competitors. As if he cares whether Kendrick Perkins had a nice day. Two quick fouls on Rondo.

Rondo has burned Kobe twice for open lay-ups. Then he throws a wicked baseline behind-the-back bounce pass to Perkins.

I like the Lakers feeding Kobe in the post with Ray Allen guarding him. Allen's quickness has regressed quicker than Ben Wallace's popularity.

Hey look, it's the Pandering Populist Trio sitting courtside: Mark Wahlberg, Adam Sandler, and Kevin James.

Luke Walton nails a corner three to tie the game. I had a mini-stroke during that one.

ABC just showed a Los Angeles cityscape, flanked by a mountain range behind the skyscrapers. Since when did LA have scenic beauty? That video looked like a tropical climate Vancouver.

Man, NBA players have a lot of charity responsibilities. I can't remember the last time I heard about NHL players handing out turkeys.

End of First Quarter: Boston 24 LA 23

Kevin James and his hair piece have a new movie coming out. Yawn.

The Machine vs. Eddie House. A three-point shooting orgy.

Kobe Bryant has it going early. I really think they need to establish a second offensive option quickly.

Jeff Van Gundy is a phenomenal basketball commentator. Strangely I agree with everything he says.

Derek Fisher going to the line as the Lakers open up their biggest lead of the game, 32 - 26. The Machine drives the lead to 9 points. The Celtics have gone stone cold on offence. (Note the spelling of offence, which indicates how Canadian I am.)

Kevin Garnett goes back-door for the alley-oop from Rondo. This is followed by a back-door lay-up by Rondo from Garnett. Beautiful passing.

The lead in the Notorious B.I.G. biopic might be Glen 'Big Baby' Davis.

Van Gundy: "Garnett just took a cheap shot at Vujacic running down the floor."

Garnett has started to establish himself in the second quarter, perfect from the field.

At the Half: LA 51 - Boston 45

Pierce is getting hot. That's one of the more dangerous things that can happen in an NBA game.

Andrew Bynum's D looks pretty suspect.

The Chris Paul anti-perspirant ad is terrible. Don Draper never would've let that one reach the air.

Elton John's "Benny and the Jets" melody might be the most classic in-game instrumental. Beats the Ying Yang Twins "Whisper Song" any day.

Tie game after a Ray Allen lay-up.

Pierce gives the Celtics their first lead since early in the 2nd quarter.

Play has been a little chippy at times for the past couple quarters. Lamar Odom hits a three-pointer to put the Lakers up 4. Back-to-back threes by Odom. Robert Towne - easily the coolest guy in the arena, even when Jack is there - must be pleased. May Chinatown forever live on in screenwriting workshops.

End of the Third Quarter: LA 71 Boston 67

Get ready for an intense finish. Andrew Bynum finally clocks in with a block. Unfortunately, this comes against Tony Allen, perhaps the worst player in this game thus far.

Tony Allen has two consecutive baskets. Maybe we'll undo that last comment. We'll pass off the worst player monker to, hmm, Eddie House.

Coming soon to a television broadcast near you: ABC's Homeland Security U.S.A., the biggest piece of 2009 propaganda. Watch old white guys bust Mexicans at the El Paso border.

Damn it. Eddie House just gave the Celtics the lead with a three-pointer. Worst player on the floor? Toss-up between Kevin James and Penny Marshall.

Trevor Ariza might have an angel tattooed on his neck. Very festive Trevor.

With five minutes left, the Lakers have a two-point lead.

Garnett converts the alley-oop for a Celtics lead.

Gasol hits the floater to give the Lakers a four-point lead with two minutes remaining.

Pau converts a three-point play to put the Lakers up five.

Ariza makes a ballsy reverse dunk. I would've gone for the Karl Malone special.

God bless the Celtics for not drawing out the end of the game with unnecessary fouls.

End of Game: LA 92 - Boston 83

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Walk It Off

Tomorrow I hope to live blog the Lakers/Celtics Christmas Day match because: (a) this is the best holiday game we've seen from a pure basketball standpoint; (b) my undergraduate degree has been completed and affords me an inordinate amount of time to dedicate to basketball; and (c) I have nothing better to do on Jesus' birthday.

(As a little sidenote I'm staying with parents and our basement is outfitted with a large flat-screen television, a serious upgrade from the used television I bought in September and the crumby streaming video I watch online. Plus we get ABC in High-Definition. I might have to move back in with my parents.)

I can't think of a more hyped regular season game - one in which the two teams have a combined record of 50 wins and 7 losses - than tomorrow's Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers tilt. Right now head honcho David Stern must be licking his chops in anticipation. The only thing which could wipe the miniscule smile from Stern's face is a potential Garnett/Vujacic fourth-quarter throwdown in which Garnett yanks the Slovenian machine by his dark locks.

Coming into this game you can't deny that the Celtics remain the favourite to beat the Lakers. They have the better record, a mental edge from last season's win, and improved play from their role players. But I'm going to make a case for the Lakers as the better team. (Make note that I cringe at this thought, but as somewhat of a closeted Lakers fan - and someone who has a growing disdain for Garnett's posturing - I'll play the role of Devil's Advocate.)

Deeper Bench. The Lakers have gotten considerably deeper with the improved health of Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza, the latter of whom provides a nice pop of offense at 9 points per contest and a shade under 2 steals. With Bynum you get the low-post presence sorely missed when the Lakers got manhandled in the Finals.

When Farmar gets healthy - and he'll be missed tomorrow against a surging Rajon Rondo - the Lakers can throw both a veteran point guard and young guy with enough quickness and energy at Rondo. It's quite easy to make the case that Rondo's the best guard on either teams. But I think Farmar - who possesses truer point guard instincts and a far better jumper than Rondo - has the mental fortitude to play on Rondo's level and exceed it. Plus who backs up Rondo? Eddie House? His ballhandling abilities are more suspect Michael Jordan's managerial decision-making.

When you look at the Celtics roster, the only players who have made a leap in their play are Rondo and Kendrick Perkins - both starters propelled to the level of fellow starters Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. But guys like Leon Powe and Glen Davis haven't made any big leap. Who is the Celtics best bench player? Tony Allen? I can't find a star player on that bench, just a couple guys who sometimes have a break-out game.

The Lakers, on the other hand, can throw out Lamar Odom as a sixth-man when most teams in the NBA would use him as their de facto second-option. (I really hesitate to call Odom a big factor for the Lakers after his levels of Romo-esque choke jobs, but I do like him taking on a lesser role in their game plan. Mentally Odom is missing something - as opposed to, say, Garnett or Kobe - thus less pressure to perform will probably help him.) Mid-way or far down the bench you'll find two three-point specialists in Vladimir Radmanovic and Sasha Vujacic, both of whom would see significantly more burn on a team with Boston's depth. Throw in Ariza and, hopefully, a healthy Farmar and you've got a ridiculous amount of bench versatility.

Age. Yes, Rondo and Perkins have improved their play and clock in at youthful ages, but the undisputed top three players - Allen (33), Garnett (32), and Pierce (31) - carry major mileage (this is Garnett's 14th season) and probably face upwards of 100 games this season. This all becomes problematic when you factor in a weak bench which requires Allen - the most ravaged veteran from an injury perspective - to play upwards of 37 minutes per night. If Allen goes down you end up losing 19 points per and I hardly see Tony Allen filling that role with any success.

As for the Lakers, most of their key guys - Kobe (30), Gasol (28), Bynum (21) - fall on or below that 30 years of age threshold, which, in the world of basketball, is a pretty good barometer for a player's decline.

Slipping under the radar. Many of these historic regular season teams end up accumulating so much hype and expectation that crumbling under its weight becomes inevitable. The Mavericks recent 67-win season didn't end up going so well. The Pistons in recent memory posted a mid-60s win total but also bowed out early. Look at other sports too. Last year's Patriots team had so much expectation thrust upon them after going undefeated in the regular season, yet, when it comes down to it, the regular season doesn't mean jack if you can't win in the postseason. You can't look at that Patriots team and call it a success because they loss when it mattered.

With the Celtics posting the greatest start in league history and closing in on a 20-game win streak, Boston is poised to become a national story. To sustain that expectation for upwards of 100 games will be a difficult task for a team with aging stars and a shallow bench. Perhaps for the first time in ages the Lakers will end up going under the radar, an enviable position when they head into the playoffs. All the distractions that come along with being the NBA's top team - and a historic one to boot - could end up crippling a The Big Three who, combined, has as many rings as Kobe. Both teams know what it takes to win a championship, but only Kobe, at this time, knows how to repeat. (Although he did ride Shaq's coattails to an extent.)

Please. Argue with me on this.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Well folks, it's official. The Jay Triano era has officially hit new levels of disappointment.

The Toronto Raptors dropped a game to the Oklahoma City Thunder this evening by a score of 91 - 83. Yes, the same OKC Thunder who have appeared in numerous sports websites under speculations of being the worst team in NBA history. With the victory OKC improves to 3 wins and 24 losses on the season.

A couple years back, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Hornets played a fair share of games in Oklahoma City as a test-run before Seattle got absolutely ransacked for their beloved franchise. This is like the basketball equivalent of foreplay with Joan Holloway of Mad Men only for Kathy Griffin to come in for the real deal.

For the Raps to lose to the lowly Thunder doesn't bode well for Triano, the first Canadian to coach in the NBA as the head guy. Bosh looks disgruntled. Bargnani remains inconsistent. The wing players are severely outmatched. Jermaine O'Neal is an absolute shell of his former self. But in short, the motivation and hunger has been replaced with apathy and complacency. This team, given the way they've performed since Sam Mitchell's departure, is destined for the draft lottery.

Yet the season is barely past the quarter mark. The playoffs remain a reasonable expectation, but management needs to act now. Which is why I propose two names to take over in Toronto: Eddie Jordan and Avery Johnson.

To start, I realize Avery Johnson's reputation in the league took a serious hit after the 67-win Dallas Mavericks bowed out in the first round to the Nellie-ball G-State Warriors. People say he's too much of a hard-ass, he's too controlling, and with the emergence of Devin Harris as an elite-level point guard, that he stifles the development of young players. All of this is true, to an extent, yet you can't deny that Johnson's Mavericks played wildly successful basketball during his brief tenure. Outside of Don Nelson sticking it to him in that opening playoff round, the Mavericks were greatly improved with Johnson's arrival as opposed to Nelson's former loose style. The Raptors could use some discipline. Triano, like your typical Canadian, seems like a mild-mannered, patient fellow. Sorry, but that's not going to work with this sack of unmotivated guys (save for Bosh and a couple other exceptions).

Eddie Jordan is another name which could help the sorry state in Raptorland. Over his tenure in Washington Jordan has repeatedly extracted maximum results from injury-depleted teams. The make-up of those Wizards teams was never built for success - rather based around two or three big-time players - yet Jordan could take them to the second round of the playoffs. Finally, this season, he met a situation which he couldn't remedy and received a pink slip. But he remains a bona fide leader and motivator, both characteristics which a future head coach in Toronto should exemplify. (Something tells me his style would take really well to the college game...)

So please, for the sake of Raptors fans, let Triano slip back to the outside of the huddle as an assistant. Plenty of talented NBA coaches have drifted from their professions and need to be dragged from the commentator's booths. Either one of these two guys will suffice.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Rainbow Aims

There are few more pleasurable or infuriating looks than the patented Vince Carter sulk. After quite possibly one of his worst games as a professional basketball player Friday night against the Raptors, he had that look going for two hours-plus. The look of a kid whose Power Ranger was stolen by a bully in the playground. Or worse, the look he might display after discovering a ding on his Mercedes in the parking lot of a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.

And there are few things more hilarious than watching Jermaine O'Neal decide that he'll take Devin Harris one-on-one for a possession.

After watching the Raptors completely demolish the Nets the most glaring thing - outside of putrid performances from the Nets' starting guards - might be that New Jersey really doesn't give a rip about basketball. With a potential move to Brooklyn on the horizon, and more competitive professional sports franchises in the area, you could see that sports apathy has reached East Rutherford in a big way. Tons of empty seats and little fan involvement. The game could've packed more excitement in a local YMCA. Not to mention that eight-foot nets could've helped Carter immensely.

One thing I took away from this non-game (and I say that in the most caring way) is that the Raptors need to make Jason Kapono a pivotal player in their offensive attack. And it looks like Jay Triano might do that. Sure, Anthony Parker rode the bench in his CNN political correspondent duds, and Kapono remained lukewarm from the field for most of the game, but when he started nailing shots he injected the Raptors with a surge of potency like few players on their roster are capable of. Shooters like Kapono keep shooting until they start to fall. And that's what he did.

Another note: does Izod really have enough money to buy the namesake of the Nets home arena? Do people wear Izod? I suppose they do if Izod is still affiliated with Lacoste, but even still, they make golf shirts. It's not like they're making Pepsi.

Despite Devin Harris's lack of offensive output, you can plainly see that Lawrence Frank has done an impeccable job in making him their number one option and unleashing his offensive arsenal. That step-back jumper is deadly.

Another Triano positive has to be the play of Joey Graham. For the first time in years Graham looks like he belongs in the NBA.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Visualz

It's been more than a minute since I last posted. I could blame clinical depression from the Raptors' horrendous slide of late, but that would be a cop-out. My (hopefully first) degree has taken precedence in its waning hours. As it should.

(Outside of final touches on a degree, I've written a few things for the Martlet: a dated article on the Suns; some thoughts about the 2010 Lebron sweepstakes, most of which manages to slander King James despite the fact that he's playing basketball better than anyone in the world; and a review of Q-Tip's latest album, The Renaissance.)

I'll toss a couple links your way:

Malcolm Gladwell, via an old article from the New Yorker, tackles the age-old question: why are African-Americans kicking such serious ass in professional sports? Now I'm sure some of his facts could be disputed on several grounds - as is common with his articles - but there's some good reading here. And it's nice to have a sports writer who may have been a good athlete. Not that Mike Toth doesn't dominate his rec league squash tournament or anything.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a solid young writer I recently got hip to, has a friendly discussion with John McWhorter over hip-hop and society, via BloggingheadsTV (fantastic site). McWhorter takes a black conservative approach and states that hip-hop, beyond its role as music genre, does not inspire constructive thinking in poor black culture, but rather influences its followers with a message of cynicism.

So while McWhorter makes some valid points, I must lean to Coates' side of the debate. Sure, a lot of music which comes out of political inequality uses a cynical tone, but cynicism doesn't necessarily beget cynicism. There's a reason why Chuck D called himself and Public Enemy the 'Black CNN.' And that was the need to present black history from an African-American perspective. You can inspire people even when your work uses a jaded tone, and that's what socially-conscious music has done across more genres than rap.

On the first day of a poetry workshop our professor told us not to assume that the speaker in the poem is the writer. This is the type of thing you need to tell undergraduate writers or they'll start thinking that half their peers are doing smack or come from abusive households. (ie. Many student writers write about incredible sex, only most of them are quiet and solitary and write a fantasy land to dwell in. So yes, do not make assumptions about someone's personal life from their poetry.)

Hip-hop is probably the closest in mainstream music genres to poetry, from its rhythms to line structures, and like poetry, the writer can and will access different states of emotion and/or write from another perspective. Do not assume that Big Boi in "Ms. Jackson" (by Outkast) is referring to himself when using the 'I'. The song is an examination of custody battles, money, and post-relationship frustration from the perspective of a slightly angry young man. The song succeeds in part because of Big Boi's ability to juxtapose down-tempo vitriol with Andre 3000's falsetto-laced fairy tale hook. A reproduction of these emotional states through hip-hop seems like an awfully constructive activity.

I could go on forever about, what I believe, are faults in McWhorter's argument, but I'll leave with one thought: how terrible would popular music be without cynical artists?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


So much has been made about the 2010 free agency pool. And for good measure.

The list of players - Lebron James, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, etc. - has some of the game's biggest superstars. If you're a struggling team looking to spend some money and buy the Rock of Gibraltar upon which to build a team around for the next decade, then this is your best shot at legitimate talent (AKA it's not a year when a Ricky Davis or Anderson Varajao has you pondering a desperation signing).

After his game tonight against the Knicks, Lebron James was asked some questions about the 2010 free agency pool. He tried to keep everything cool, but there were more than enough hints about a move to New York, and I'm not just talking about his hobnobbing with Jay-Z. Okay, it has something to do with Jay-Z.

To start, he left all his answers very open-ended, as if he had no say in the matter. In Lebron's world, or the one he likes to depict for the media, anything can happen in this free agency class. Well it won't. A select group of teams will have a serious chance at Lebron and I would wager he has an idea which ones they are. Good luck putting together an offer that Lebron and his buddies wouldn't kill themselves laughing at if you're Oklahoma City or Memphis.

But later, when asked about his free agency speculation, he started using New York and Brooklyn as potential locations to go to. Here's another layer! Looks like only a few have a chance, indeed! So you don't include Cleveland in that category. Really, Lebron? The team you're playing with for the next year-and-a-half? Your best line-up ever that will allow you to seriously contend this season - you won't mention them in the argument?

Something about the Brooklyn talk makes it seem like Lebron thinks their move is a foregone conclusion. For Christ's sake Lebron is already calling them the Brooklyn Nets! Which is another bad sign for Cleveland fans.

I think we all know that Jay-Z is a part-owner of the Nets and that him and Lebron pretend they're brothers in a weird protege-scholar relationship. When you have Jay-Z on your speed-dial I'll make the assumption that he's giving you a bunch of advice, most of which would incense Cavs fans.

ESPN also showed the debut of some Lebron-endorsed Nike kicks. Gee, do you think Nike isn't in his ear about how much they'll give him in endorsement cash if he could only move to New York? They're debuting new shoes when he plays in the Big Apple!

I think Lebron needs to tell the media to stop asking these questions, especially for his sake. The guy has tried to be suave in the face of questioning, but way too much evidence stacks up which supports his departure of Cleveland.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When Doves Cry

Jermaine O'Neal. Rebound Specialist.

Things are a little hectic on my end right now, so I'll keep it brief.

Here is my latest column in the Martlet. This one is about the Toronto Raptors, mainly about how they're incapable of competing in a stronger Eastern Conference unless GM Bryan Colangelo pulls the trigger and gives them some depth.

So the column came out this evening, a Wednesday. The column was submitted on Saturday. In the span of a few days the Raptors have gone 2-1 and addressed many of the key issues I outlined in the article. For instance, they've outrebounded the competition behind some monstrous efforts from Jermaine O'Neal. Jamario Moon was yanked from the starting line-up (thank goodness) in favour of Bargnani, who, this evening, notched 25 points on some highly efficient shooting.

This is one reason why I love the immediacy of the internet. Because it doesn't make me look like a bit of a jackass in the time it takes for my words to reach print. The issue is out for the next week. Meaning the Raptors get the next seven days to screw everything up and make me look better.

To close, here is a link (via Pitchfork) about Prince magically appearing for some guitar jamming during a Q-Tip show, while the latter broke into his backpacker bling escapist hit "Vivrant Thing." Scroll to the bottom for a rundown. Completely bizarre and very Prince.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Don't Watch Me Dancing

The NBA season thrives on award season speculation.

Last season Kobe Bryant took home his first MVP award under a newfound media-friendly rubric, much to the dismay of Chris Paul supporters (myself included). Since the awards are announced early in the playoff season, the outcome can often propel cheated players to higher levels of excellence, particularly against those awarded ahead of them. (I think we all remember what Michael Jordan did to Karl Malone in the NBA Finals after Malone was crowned the league MVP.)

Look, I love award season. It provides NBA writers with some of the game's finest debates. But it's way too early to make predictions when the regular season just entered double-digit game totals. The Rookie of the Year has at least five or six legitimate candidates thus far. The MVP has no clear front-runner and won't have any legitimate candidates until a third into the season.

But the Most Improved Player has kicked off to a nice start and it's not too early to speculate. Here are some players who will most definitely garner some votes:

Devin Harris has posted multiple 30-point-plus games and surpassed Vince Carter as the de facto scorer in New Jersey. Could the Mavericks have made a worse move last spring to bring a mid-30s Jason Kidd back to Dallas? Kidd has a decade on Harris, considerably less foot speed, and a crazy (ex-)wife. In 40 minutes of play today, against the Knicks no less, Kidd tallied 3 points on 1 of 7 shooting. Last evening, in fewer minutes, and against the upstart Hawks, Harris racked up 33 points and 10 assists on 9 of 15 shooting. Most impressive was that Harris took 14 free throw shots. Something tells me the Kidd deal might have murdered the Mavs franchise for the considerable future. Looks like Devean George almost did Dallas a favour.

I love the moves Bryan Colangelo makes and I'll always worship the throne of the NBA's foremost metrosexual general manager, but how did he pass up on Danny Granger in favour of Joey Graham a few drafts ago? Granger has developed into a go-to scorer in Indiana, averaging well over 20 points per game and filling up the score sheet in other ways. Not only that, but his tooth loss accident, and the fact that he came back to play looking like a much taller Dougie Gilmour, would have the Raps faithful smelling a deep playoff run.

I don't play fantasy basketball, but whoever nabbed Andris Biedrins in their drafts is counting their lucky stars. Just check his stats: 16.8 ppg, 14.9 rpg, 52.8 FG%, 1.5 bpg. Overnight the young Warriors centre has become the preeminent league-wide rebounder alongside Dwight Howard. Must be the ludicrous amount of hair gel.

This one feels a bit weird, yet Nate Robinson definitely deserves a couple votes. Every bench needs a gunner to throw in when the starting line-up gets a little stagnant. And Robinson has filled that role well with over 14 points per. Not only that, but he's averaging over 2 steals per game and up to 4 rebounds and assists.

A couple others deserve credit, including Jeff Green, Nick Young, Mickael Pietrus, and Aaron Brooks. Let the speculation begin.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Players I Shouldn't Like: Part I

For those of you who have tried to comment on any posts but couldn't because you didn't have a Blogger ID, I just turned that off. Anyone can now comment. Thus, comment away!

There's a lot of talk about playing the 'right' way.

Whether mentioned by commentators, coaches, or players, the 'right' way to play is an admittedly vague way of putting things. The best professional basketball players are aware of this vague set of rules but cause the unidentified framework of proper play to bend within their skill-set.

In other words: You can't break the rules unless you know them.

Lebron barrels through the lane like a reckless animal and tucks the ball in his side like a running back penetrating the defensive line. Kobe calls his own number with time running out, often passing up the opportunity of passing to an open teammate. I'm not sure where either of these fall under the 'right' way, but the game concedes to style.

For most professional players they'd get yanked if they pulled half the shenanigans of a Kobe or Amare. Think back to high school: most of us were benched for taking an ill-advised three, whereas the top couple players had free reign of the court. Granted these top-tier guys make unbelievable plays, but on the flipside they're given the opportunity to test the boundaries of the spectacular. Most aren't.

This will be an ongoing series for those other players.

Lebron scored 41 last night. His execution is a lesson in monotony. Give me an unbridled Al Thornton or a trigger-happy Nate Robinson any day of the week.

First up is Ricky Davis, or what I'll dub Player With Nice Stats But Always Plays on Shitty Teams.

You know a guy is not playing the 'right' way when his most memorable professional moment came from shooting on his own net and retrieving the rebound for the purpose of notching his first career triple-double. (Jerry Sloan was one anger management class away from sprinting on the court and clothes-lining Ricky.)

But I follow Davis for other reasons.

He is the only NBA player to dunk after putting the ball through his legs, during an NBA game. (Lebron did it in high school, Josh Smith in international competition, but only Davis possessed the testicular fortitude to pull such a stunt in-game.) The tales of Davis's clubbing history should be published by Random House, or at the very least influence some Penthouse Forum letters. Plus, the dude can flat-out score with the best of them.

For a long time I've been attracted to players who can catch fire, who for a five minute stretch reach levels of offensive excellence unparalleled at that very moment. And Ricky Davis, throughout his career, has proved that he can get hot.

He does not play the 'right' way. He may not even care about winning. But he's part of a small group of basketball players on the planet who could notch 40 on a whim and infuriate his coach at the same time.

Truth is, Davis' game is not nearly as selfish as it seems (or maybe he's matured) and far more well-rounded than that of your typical gunner (ahem, Ben Gordon).

But, without fail, Davis finds himself on yet another underachieving team (the Los Angeles Clippers) where he'll pick up stats, inevitably partake in the club scene, and launch into summer break around the same time as college kids. In his own way he makes consistency pretty damn exciting.

And, of course, there is this video, which adds to the Davis lore:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dance on Glass

I had to post something about this Garnett/Calderon dust-up in Boston.

After watching it a few times I think it's safe to say that Garnett got a little too fired up and started acting like a dick. Sure, part of Garnett's shtick is that he's a really intense dude, but what other player in the league doesn't get a technical foul for that level of taunting? He was waving his finger in Jose's face Dikembo-style.

Taunting fouls are always a point of contention with me. You can show a little emotion, maybe look at a defender in the wrong manner, hang on the rim a little too long - all of which could book you for a T on a bogus call. We've seen them before. Those are the moments when a ref can get in the spotlight over a bad call. Very little is definitive about what 'constitutes' a taunting foul when outside of the extreme (ie. OJ Mayo dunking and heaving the ball in the crowd).

But that Garnett play crossed the line. I don't mind the guy playing a little D on Calderon, but being an ass while going about it brings down the class of such a likable athlete. (Good on Calderon to get back in his face, and also dish out to Kapono for a three-point make. Carmelo Anthony would've slapped him and run away.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dead Ringer

Just spent the weekend in Vancouver with some friends, hence a slow start to the week for The Cold Draft. Alas, here are some links and thoughts for a Monday afternoon.

For those of you literary folk out there, I stumbled across this article about Milan Kundera's recent political struggles. After just having read The Book of Laughter and Forgetting I find it astonishing that political turmoil has continued to follow him nearly thirty years after the book's release.

A line from a recent post on Inside the Clippers: "Marcus [Camby] has taken a liking to the underwater treadmill the team has at its new facility." The same post also mentions Tim Thomas and Al Thornton doing yoga. The Clippers have a better shot at releasing a workout video in time for Christmas than a berth in the postseason. If anyone knows what an underwater treadmill is like, please share. I wonder if the Knicks accidentally rig one up that electrocutes Stephon Marbury.

Plenty of talk on the internet today about the Raps looking to the Warriors and Bobcats for perimeter help. The two obvious choices are Al Harrington and Gerald Wallace, both of whom are being shopped around by their respective teams.

Personally I think the Raps should make a move for Kelenna Azubuike. Against the Raps earlier this season he penetrated their D with ease, especially late in the shot clock. Unfortunately this move wouldn't help their rebounding woes, but would help the fact their perimeter players have been severely outscored in the past three games.

So who's on the chopping block in Raptor land? Moon? Humphries? Bargnani? Colangelo won't dangle AB in a deal, but I can't find many other guys on that roster (Bosh and Calderon excluded) who would pique interest from another GM.

I watched this new video from Q-Tip over the weekend and started mulling it around with people as to whether Tip was the trailblazer for Andre 3000. Maybe Dre 2000? Or does his raccoon hat/cadet blazer look only follow a gauntlet thrown down by Andre Benjamin when his eccentricities became widely accepted? Regardless, this is nice form from Q-Tip, chock full of his hypothetical raps in female persuasion.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Welfare Bread

A more official NBA preview has gone up on The Martlet right here.

I think we're all familiar with the old adage that NBA players do well with the ladies. Here's a Flickr site of professional ball players with women. Most of these women are, uh, not so attractive. But the site does feature cameos from Luke Jackson, JJ Redick, and various other bums (ie. Martynas Andriuskevicius). Worth checking out if, like me, you enjoy candid photos of awkwardly tall men next to drunk chicks in the club.

Three key acquisitions in the off-season: Roger Mason, Mickael Pietrus, and Matt Barnes. I can't stress how important these additions were for each of their playoff-calibre teams.

Pietrus rounds out a starting line-up with athleticism. Mason, on a bad Spurs team, has shown the ability to slash and drain buckets from the outside. Barnes could possibly the greatest addition of them all. He can give the Suns starter's minutes and contribute point totals in the double-digits. Plus, he makes that bench longer. There's no pressure on Grant Hill to force a predictable mid- or late-season injury. And the guy has heart. Check the Warriors from a couple seasons back.

(PS. Tony Parker with 55 points, 10 assists, and 7 boards in a 2OT win against the TWolves. Good lord. What's his previous season-high? I'm guessing 40.)

We talkin' bout practice.

I couldn't resist posting video of Iverson being unveiled to the Detroit media by Joe Dumars. For those of you who have seen the original, you'll find this pretty funny.

And the original:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Guest Post: James Kot

Today we have the first guest post in The Cold Draft's short history from James Kot, most recently of Canadian war epic, Passchendaele. If you haven't checked out the film, go to the theatres. Unless you're from the States, in which case you should try to download it illegally. James offers some thoughts on the upcoming NBA season.

Originally, I was set up to write a more comical piece that centered around Darius Miles on the Boston Celtics. I had plans for an over/under on Garnett-Miles stare downs, possible conversations with Ray Allen about his art collection, and the generally strange fact that Darius has worked with both the newly married Ryan and Scarlett…in films. (IMDB Darius Miles; seriously, I dare you.) But that idea got thrown in the crapper faster than young Darius’ career after he tested positive for drugs before the season even began. Instead, I did some random and quite possibly idiotic NBA hypothesizing three games into the season.

Here are some of my predictions.

Allen Iverson will get traded to Detroit for Billups, McDyess and a guy I’ve never heard.

MVP. Lebron. The more I think about it, the more I realize CP3 got robbed last year. Kobe wasn’t the MVP until Pau dropped in Los Angeles. New Orleans is a .500 team without Chris Paul instead of the two seed. I still think Kobe is the most talented player in the NBA but Lebron is a monster every night. The NBA gets it right this year and shows King James some love.

Rookie of the Year. Rudy Fernandez. The second half of the Olympic gold medal game signified this decision for me. If you can throw down on Dwight Howard, and not think twice about getting in Kobe’s face on the world stage, you’re destined for great things. Beasley will be a close second. Mayo gets the bronze on a stinker in the dirty south.

Biggest Disappointment. Artest in Houston. I think Ron-Ron will play fine for them, but the idea that he makes them a contender baffles me. The expectations are way too high. If I were the GM of that team, I would rest Yao until the last ten games of the season. There’s no way Yao plays 75 games this year.

Not as Bad as You Think. The Knicks. They are going to surprise people. They win ten more than last year and will be surprisingly exciting as David Lee’s set to break out with more playing time. I love that D’Antoni kicked Marbury to the curb too. I’m so sick and tired of hearing about that guy for any reason other than his affordable sneakers.

Comeback. If the Olympics were any sign of what’s to come, Dwyane Wade could be considered an MVP Candidate if the Heat win 45. His health being worth 30 more wins could be a real case for Wade.

Kevin “My Uncle was in the Beach Boys” Love will have an average year but will be my guy to watch in Rookies-Sophmores game at the All-Star Break. That kid is more competitive than “Pet Sounds” in Top 10 Lists and will want to make a statement on the big stage.

Philly will make the playoffs only to last four or five games. The Elton Brand signing was a mistake. Enjoy the World Series and the Flyers making a run.

I feel bad for Baron Davis. That team is going to be terrible and it’s not his fault. Luckily, my friend Rachel doesn’t work in the Clippers PR department anymore. It’s going to be tough trying to spin eleven wins.

Dwight Howard will have five 20- 20 games. God, I wonder what the odds are like on that in Vegas!

There will be an Atlanta Hawks-Boston Celtics brawl this year. The Atlanta Hawks seem like a disgruntled franchise that has WAY more confidence than they should. The aggressive nature of that first round series last year - plus, the Boston Celtics taking being the Champs quite seriously this year and Kevin Garnett taking being Kevin Garnett extremely seriously - should be the perfect recipe a good dust-up. I dare Zaza Pachulia to get in Garnett’s face like he did last year. I bet Garnett does a Gatorade Fierce commercial at some point during the proceedings.

Less technicals for Rasheed Wallace this year. A.I. gets his share in Motown. Maxiell is also a beast this year and earns his contract. I like him as darkhorse for sixth man of the year if he can get the minutes.

I love the Suns but I think the dream is over for the Steve Nash era out in Arizona. A half court Phoenix Suns team makes me want to cry. I don’t think it will work. I hope that I’m wrong. And I’m melancholic that I honestly believe the chances of Steve Nash winning a championship in Phoenix are slimmer than they are if he concludes his career north of the border with the Raptors.

The Jermaine O’Neal deal works out surprisingly well. As Calderon finishes only behind Chris Paul in assists and Chris Bosh has a tidy 24 points, 10 rebound season, O’Neal can have a twelve and ten season and be an impact defensive player this year. Raps win a playoff series in the postseason.

The Final. We’re going to have a repeat of the Celtics-Lakers final. I think the Lakers take it this year with much more depth in their line-up and a much missed James Posey no longer on the Boston sideline. Kobe wins the finals MVP with more weapons in his arsenal.

But you never know what’s going to happen. I haven’t ruled out a Detroit-New Orleans final as a possibility…

In closing, I’ve written this. A bit of rant trying to explain why we should embrace and not fear the globalization of the NBA.

The NBA is becoming an increasingly global league with basketball’s popularity soaring world wide following the success of the Olympics and subsequent growth in European markets. Josh Childress opting out of sitting on the bench in Hotlanta to make double his quote in Greece and Arizona recruit Brandon Jennings going pro in Rome (in order to forgo the mandated collegiate year) signifies to me that basketball is bigger than the house it’s been given. While some purists gasp at the idea of US born players leaving home turf, (and the excitement that comes with playing a road game in Salt Lake City on Tuesday night or the constant exploitation of the NCAA) I’m not one of them.

I see it differently. I see the NBA as a jump off point for the Champion’s League of Basketball. A global league with teams in Europe, North America and the Middle East will leave no doubt who the greatest players are and where they play. They will be in this league.

But we’re not there yet.

For now: the best are still in the NBA, The Slam Dunk Competition will garner another party at my house, and March Madness will still be the most exciting time of year.

It's great to be an arm-chair athlete this year.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Live Blogging the Raps/Warriors

I won't lie. I stumbled onto this game five minutes before the tip.

This will be my first look at the Bosh/O'Neal/Calderon-era Raptors. And I'm just as excited about the Golden State Warriors. They've got a much different look this season. For instance, DeMarcus Nelson at starting point guard. Yikes. The following is a running commentary of the game.

-Nathan Jawai could be 45 years of age. Now that I've looked it up, he's a year younger than I am. That defies all explanation.

-Is there anything stopping Corey Maggette from jacking up twenty shots per night? Maggette is perfect for a run-and-gun system. He's one of those guys with such a preternatural ability at the offensive end.

-Andris Biedrins is killing them at 7:20 mark in the first quarter. Must be the aerodynamic gel application.

-Nelson knocked down an ill-advised mid-range jumper. Label Nelson a Warriors conformist.

-Gilbert Areans explained the term 'hibachi' in an Adidas commercial. Thank goodness we cleared that up.

-Bargnani has come into the game. Still has that classic look of lethargy.

-After one quarter the game hasn't taken shape. Nothing seems too methodical. Pretty loose affair thus far.

-Jermaine O'Neal stuffed Brendan Wright, followed by a two-handed slam from Bargnani. For Raptors fans this is basically a wet dream.

-Bargnani crams on Turiaf. Doing much better than that scoreless game a couple nights ago. I tried to make some sort of pizza versus croissants joke here, but nothing materialized.

-The Warriors have found their swagger and, subsequently, the lead. And by swagger I mean the ridiculous shots are falling. JO's cold post moves aren't helping the Raps much.

-Jason Kapono looks like those frat boy douchebags you encounter at the bar.

-We're at the half, which means an NBA commercial telling us how charitable its players are. Something tells me Randy Foye stuck out like a sore thumb in Turkey.

-Is that Paul Romanuk commentating the game? I didn't know it was World Junior Hockey season yet.

-Seriously, someone needs to guard Biedrins.

-It's always awkward when white commentators say Hotlanta.

-Jamario Moon has finally made an impact on this game, half-way through the third quarter. I really doubt last year's Jamario Moon craze will sustain itself. In fact, I think all Jamario Moon crazes will cease to exist for all of eternity.

-Apparently the commentator's name is Matt. I have no idea who this Matt is but he sucks compared to Chuck Swirsky.

-Looks like shitty Bargnani is back in the game.

-Tied at 71 apiece. How was Maggette never a part of those Warriors team from the past couple seasons? His move to Golden State was perhaps the most obvious/logical move amongst this summer's transations.

-Raps with a two-point lead after three.

-The current line-up of Kapono, Ukic, Bargnani, O'Neal, and Moon could seriously lose us the game. But oh wait, here comes Joey Graham. That'll stave off defeat.

-You know who's a decent NBA player? That Azubuike guy. I'm not being sarcastic either.
-Maggette has only taken five shots. He must have mono.

-"Four-point game with six forty-five to go." I stole that from the commentator.


-Azubuike has the most under-rated first step in the game. Golden State by five.

-Maggette with the fall-away. Golden State by five with 4:40 to play.

-Bargnani brings the Warriors lead to two. He's got 17 on the night.

-Stephen Jackson: "I make love to pressure."

-The Raps are down one with forty-some-odd seconds to play. You need to go to Bosh right now.

-Bosh goes baseline and dunks over a couple guys. Seriously, that stuff about going to Bosh came before it actually happened. Of course I don't have any proof...

-The Air Canada Centre already has playoff intensity.

-Jermaine O'Neal with a huge block. Unfortunately the block goes directly to Al Harrington, who promptly nails a three-pointer. Warriors by two with 22.1 to play.

-Tie game with 14.5 to play off two Bosh free throw. The last two minutes, characteristically of the NBA, are taking a half-hour to play.

-Maggette doesn't get the call on a last-second drive. The Raps have 0.7 remaining. Run a play for Kapono.

-Parker narrowly misses a three-point try. Over-time. Tied at 96.

-Without Parker's defensive abilities the Raptors would have lost this game already.

-Bagnani, Bosh, and Calderon have pushed the Raps lead to six with under two minutes remaining.

-The Raptors win 112-108. Two games, two wins. Two completely different versions of Andrea Bargnani.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NBA Preview: Condensed & Tangential

The NBA season is upon us. Last season the league went from fledgling arena for die-hards of pituitary cases to professional sports' most vibrant young league. This season, the fans will actually care about the Larry O'Brien champions' quest for a title defense. The upstart youth will track down and possibly surpass their elders. And Isiah Thomas will throw each of his children under the bus for each subsequent overdose. Good times indeed.

Three games tipped off this evening. Aside from Greg Oden continuing his quest to become his generation's Bill Walton, there wasn't much to report. The favourites won their games and big names were slow out the gates. That said, I've compiled some notes about each team in the NBA. My preseason picks have been lacking. Thus, they'll become early season picks. Tonight is the Eastern Conference.

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics
I love Jesus Shuttlesworth (ie. Ray Allen). He has one of the great all-time shots and he was one of the only good players post-Jordan for the Jordan Brand (I'm looking directly at Darius Miles and Q-Rich right now). But he's the stick in the spokes for the Celtics. Did you see those stinkers he threw up in the playoffs last season? His legs are gone and he's become one-dimensional. If the shots not falling, he becomes useless on the floor. Look for Leon Powe to break out.

Philadelphia 76ers
I'm not drinking the Kool-Aid on these guys. Individually I like their players. As a team, they even have some swagger after last year's finish and performance against the Pistons. But aren't they a bit too much of a rag-tag group of kids? They're like the Little Rascals of the NBA. Their guys are all pretty good. But no one player is going to bowl you over. Look out, however, for Thaddeus Young. I sense an MIP season from him.

Toronto Raptors
Colangelo swung his balls on that O'Neal deal. It was great to get rid of Ford. He had to go somewhere. The Raptors faithful would prefer he take his neck sprains south of the border. But depth, which hadn't been a problem the past couple seasons, is a weak spot. Who steps up between Ukic/Solomon? That makes me queasy. And losing Delfino, who could've functioned as a point forward behind Calderon, is a bigger loss than most realize.

New Jersey Nets
The elder statesman to your 08-09 New Jersey Nets? Vince Carter. Mentor to Yi. A former all-star without the hops to carry him in his senescence. Their roster list made me pop a Xanax. It's that bad. Outside of Chris Douglas-Roberts and Sean Williams, I see no reason why anyone would watch this team. I think they're headed for the Eastern Conference basement.

New York Knicks
It won't get better for basketball's version of the Jackson family. But I like that d'Antoni is kicking the fat guys (ie. Curry) to the curb in favour of speed. The thought of Nate Robinson throwing up eight 3-pointers per game is salivating. And David Lee will get some burn. There are so many bad teams in the NBA worth watching and the Knicks are one of them.

Central Division

Detroit Pistons
I'm one of the few people who thinks the Pistons have a legitimate shot at going deep. Their older players are on the down slopes of their careers, but still have some good basketball in them. And with the system Joe Dumars has created, a number of key role players can step in and lighten the regular season load for guys like Rasheed, Chauncey, and Rip. Both Amir Johnson and Rodney Stuckey will garner votes for the MIP.

Chicago Bulls
Let's forget about last season. Let's call a mulligan. This season is a do-over. They're young and deep. Tyrus Thomas is going to be a homeless man's Shawn Marion, albeit without crippling insecurity. I love Joakim Noah, unlike 90% of the basketball-loving population. They need to shed some weight in the guard category, but otherwise, I can't see how they miss the playoffs on consecutive years.

Indiana Pacers
The Pacers have finally completed their white-out in the post-Auburn Hills era! This is another team, like New Jersey, that is without personality. Why would I watch them? How could Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Troy Murphy interest me? Unless Marquis Daniels takes them to Jamal Tinsley's favourite hang-outs I'll never show an interest in this team.

Cleveland Cavaliers
The Mo Williams acquisition is bigger than people realize. For the moment, he provides the Cavs with a second scorer. And when they unload Szczerbiak's (the spell check is going bonkers of that one) expiring contract for a player of Michael Redd's calibre, the Cavs will be poised for a deep run in the playoffs. You can pencil them into the Eastern Conference Finals.

Milwaukee Bucks
Welcome to the land of small forwards! Apparently the state of Wisconsin has a penchant for dudes in the 6-foot-7, 6-foot-8 range. How long will it take before the Joe Alexander pick looks like a joke? Wow, he can put it through his legs and dunk! He's like a white Gerald Green! (By the way, being a white Gerald Green is not good.) Once again, we have a team of capable players and some borderline all-stars, but cohesion is the main problem here. Another season of missing the playoffs.

Southeast Division

Orlando Magic
Here's something I haven't written on: the acquisition of Mickael Pietrus. I've always liked this guy, only he got buried in that deep run-and-gun Warriors team. I think Pietrus will surprise people. And J.J. Redick could make his way into the line-up. What's the over/under on his point average? a 6.5? I might take the over on this one. Look out ladies of Orlando!

Atlanta Hawks
I really don't like the Hawks to make any noise this season. Al Horford is a beast in training, but Atlanta's upswing kind of reminds me of the Clippers when they had that one-off season when they lost to the Suns in the second round. The only thing keeping them on the cusp of an eighth spot is Horford's improvement from first to second seasons.

Miami Heat
I like this Miami team, mostly because of how dysfunctional they look on paper. On one hand you have bona fide stars, on the other you have Chris Quinn. But with a healthy D-Wade they should contend for a playoff spot.

Washington Wizards
Gilbert Arenas keeps this team in the news. But to be frank, I haven't done much thinking about them this off-season. Arenas got his money. Jamison got his too. I like Tough Juice and Nick Young, but there's something missing. In the end, I think it'll be that financial motivation from last season.

Charlotte Bobcats
Christ. The Bobcats. They might be the most poorly run franchise in the NBA. How can Charlotte even support these guys? Individually there's a lot to like on this roster (and their rosters from the past couple seasons), but in true Bobcats fashion, they'll disappoint. And Larry Brown will find a scapegoat. Raymond Felton, I have a feeling it could be you. And Adam Morrison cut his hair. Dammit! I was holding out for an awkward five-game road trip when Morrison rocked corn rows courtesy of Gerald Wallace's sister.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chocolate Thunder

Today I can't find the time for a full post, so I'll leave you with some videos.

This isn't the exact video I wanted to find, but here you'll find some highlights of a celebrity dunk competition featuring Deion Sanders, Ken Griffey Jr., and Mike Conley Sr., Olympic Champion long jumper and father to Conley Jr. Conley is far and away the strongest dunker in the competition. Still nice to see Neon Deion and Griffey throwing down with their flat top hairdo's.

Scottie Pippen from the foul line? I had never heard of Pippen participating in a dunk contest. Someone of his calibre and skill-set just wouldn't do it in today's game. Does this dunk go down as one of the most underrated in dunk competition history? It's certainly not in the canon.

Pre-Amare Stoudamire and part-Blaxploitation film. Darryl Dawkins said he was from the Planet Lovetron. And people think Gilbert Arenas is weird? Dawkins was like an overgrown Kool Keith.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Links & Thoughts

To start, some links:

Larry David's thoughts on the upcoming US election. I think most of us are in a similar state of anxiety.

This is a great interview in the New York Times with Josh Childress regarding his European experience thus far. (via TrueHoop)
What I found particularly interesting about this article was how the camaraderie of a European team (ie. team meals) was similar to that of a collegiate basketball program. For intellectual guys like Childress (those who value certain things more than basketball) this aspect of European basketball sounds appealing. And the money. Childress likes the money.
Overall the team experience in Europe isn't quite like Kobe Bryant being flanked by body guards on team outings. Though maybe Bryant will bring that to Europe some day.

Lastly, a profile I wrote about Ryan Cochrane for the Martlet. Since the article is more formal (aka standards of journalism this site doesn't aspire to) I wasn't able to mention that Cochrane is a cool, down-to-earth guy. Definitely an athlete worth cheering for. Cochrane recently won a bronze medal in swimming in the 1500-metre event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I hope to see him at the top of the podium in London in 2012 and at next year's World Championships in Rome.

I caught my first televised basketball of the season this evening. Well, sort of.

To start I watched only twenty minutes or so. Secondly, this was over the internet. Cavs-Pistons & TWolves- Bulls pre-season may sound appealing to a basketball junkie, but it ain't. And when the resolution of the live feed actually allows a viewer to count the pixels on the screen, that is also not good.

The clincher? To the side of the action, and taking up half the screen, was a live chat during the game. As a society, I think it's safe to say that we are much more racially tolerant and tolerant of homosexuality than in past decades. So where has all the homophobia and racism gone? The internet, of course!

This live chat in particular featured a string of gay-bashing, some of which was directed towards Kirk Hinrich or other players of potential mediocrity. Not a lot of racist stuff, however. (Go to a YouTube comments section for that.) Anyway, the homophobia is so rampant that gay is edited on the website as such: ***. Example: Kirk Hinrich is so ***. So, in an ultimate moment of creativity, users such as PISTONSFORLIFE and KOBEBRYANT have started saying 'ghey'. Well done, gentleman.

What did I glean from twenty minutes and for teams? Not much. Tayshaun Prince looked nice. The Cavs were lost without Lebron on the floor. McCants & Foye are chuckers, only Foye's shots go in. Of course I haven't yet checked the box scores. And now that I have I am pleased to announce the T-Wolves both started and ended the game with nine-point quarters! Welcome to post-KG era!

Monday, October 20, 2008


Sam Cassell. Easily amused.

This is a short post. This is a way for me to sacrifice a major portion of the upcoming seven or eight months of regular season play.

Most journalists, and sports writers, myself included, make claims about teams and other players without fully examining them. By examining them I mean watching them play. It's easy for me to talk up David Lee or Amir Johnson (especially in an age where highlights are easily found on the internet/YouTube) but nothing compares to watching the actual game. Stats are great, but sometimes I rely on them more than in-game analysis.

That is why I will watch every NBA player this upcoming season.

Here's how it breaks down: I will watch every NBA player who is on the opening day roster lists. Inevitably I'll catch some in-season signings on the court, but I'd be a sadist to keep up with every 10-day contract the Clippers or Thunder sign this year.

Another catch is that it'll be tough to watch 11th and 12th men. But I'll do my best.

An even greater catch is that I don't have League Pass. And so it begins...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sweet and Lovely

Please excuse the lack of updates lately. I'll resume with some scattered thoughts about the Raptors, and one of my favourite non-players, Adam Morrison.

Joey Graham or Jamario Moon?

I'd be lying if I said this conundrum was chock full of potential success for the Toronto Raptors. It's nothing like the Ford/Calderon debates. It's a debate between two marginal NBA players, neither of whom will average over 10 points per contest this season.

And yet the Raptors are faced with a dire situation at Small Forward, even Shooting Guard for that matter. Jamario Moon came out of left-field last season. Between his shot blocking capabilities and dunks he became a fan favourite. No other player contested for that starting spot, and Moon hustled his way into the rotation.

So what would any professional athlete in a contract year do after surprising fans and management in his rookie campaign? Come into camp out of shape, of course!

For all the great things Moon did last season, he seems to be a poor man's Keon Clark. And Keon Clark could be a homeless crack addict right now. Moon's game is just too limited. He tends to fall in love with the outside shot (otherwise known as Vince Carter Syndrome) when his strengths lie in length and athleticism. The guy drives Sam Mitchell nuts.

Joey Graham, on the other hand, hasn't had any opportunity to showcase his abilities. In fact, I've rarely seen him play on television. The trouble with Graham, from what I've gleaned from those games and some commentary, is that you get one or the other: Good Joey or Bad Joey.

But I can't help but feel Graham needs a fair shake, whether it's 20 minutes per game or a starting position and slightly more burn. A lack of consistency often comes down to confidence, and it's difficult to gain any when you're planted on the bench. There must be a reason the Raptors have held onto him as long as they have. Graham is not a step down from Moon. As athletes, both are great, but Graham brings a definite physicality which the Raptors could use on perimeter defense, possibly their weakest area last season.

Yet as much as I think Graham should get his chance to play, Colangelo needs to make a definite move towards strengthening a weak backcourt and front-line.

Shortly after a post I made about Adam Morrison and JJ Redick between a week and two weeks ago, the online hoops world had a few things to say about Morrison. Most of the news revolved around his future, or lack thereof, with the Charlotte Bobcats. I mentioned his terrible efficiency, yet another writer went a step further in announcing that Morrison, during his rookie season, was the least efficient player in the NBA who received considerable playing time (over 25 minutes per game or thereabouts).

The Bobcats recently extended his and Sean May's contracts, yet talks have swirled around Morrison being shopped around. A DNP-Coach's Decision certainly doesn't help his cause for a future in Charlotte.

Would Morrison be a decent pick-up, or even a steal? Like I mentioned before, I can't help but think his career is over. The NBA is too athletic. His forty-year-old man legs only got slower with knee surgery. Outside of picking him up off waivers I can't see any reason why a sane NBA GM would take a chance on him. Then again, most of them are idiots.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Self Portrait w/ Electric Brain

Due to time constraints, here is another edition of things to be excited about in the coming NBA season, in typical loose fashion.

-The play of Monta Ellis. Imagine signing a huge contract (enough money to support yourself, a large extended family, and two ex-wives) and then promptly losing the faith of your organization at the hands of a Mo-ped accident. Athletes and motorcycles don't mix. Ask Jay Williams. A Mo-ped seems like a logical move towards less danger and excitement, but alas Ellis couldn't handle to feminine curves of Bay Area roads. Will the injuries sustained to Ellis's ankle impede one of the NBA's quickest guards? Between Jay Williams and Ellis I could have a nervous breakdown if another promising guard goes down on a two-wheeler.

-The Raps starting small forward spot. Kapono? Moon? God forbid it goes to Joey Graham. Easily the weakest area of the Raptors attack.

-David Lee! In a move which indicates that the Knicks organization has a serious lack of mentally retarded individuals this season, David Lee will get some more burn in New York. Which must excite the Knicks faithful as Lee is about the only player they liked in the Isiah-era. Here is the prediction: Lee will be voted into the All-Star Game by the Eastern Conference coaches. You heard it here first.

-The Artest experiment. There's no way Yao and McGrady will let Ron-Ron get out of line. In fact, I expect some workman-like production from Artest and great returns. Only Yao and McGrady (who is 30 going on 37) will never hold up for an entire season for the Rockets to make serious noise.

-Celtics Boot Camp. I love what they're doing in Boston, which is essentially running a regular season six-month boot camp for NBA delinquents, with KG as the principal. Would Darius Miles have the audacity to tell off someone in the Blazers organization, let's say Brandon Roy? Sure would. How about Kevin Garnett, the scariest man in the league? Nope. Whether Miles actually puts together some semblance of a career is another matter, but I love this approach. After winning the Larry O'Brien Trophy the Celtics feel they can mesh anyone into their system. Same reason why they drafted J.R. Giddens.

-Anything Trailblazers-related. Between Roy, Aldridge, Oden, and the insurgency of Rudy Fernandez and (fingers-crossed) Sergio Rodriguez they'll easily be the most dangerous, and fan-favourite, young team in the NBA. Let's all pray they keep their health together. Or else the Blazers will be like a more tragic, fun version of the Rockets.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Year of Judgment

History very well could peg Adam Morrison as another mis-step in the post-basketball management career of Michael Jordan and little else. Only three years ago Morrison and Redick slugged it out for the nation's scoring title and captivated a national audience. It seems like that happened more than ten years ago.

Since being drafted I've had few opportunities to watch them on television. To start, the Bobcats aren't exactly in high demand for those outside of North Carolina. (Or in North Carolina from the looks of it.) But more importantly, the play of both guys was mediocre. Redick rode the bench when I believed he had a legitimate shot at competing for a starting position in a weak Magic backcourt. Morrison's season was less mediocre than Redick's though fraught with inconsistency and absolute stinkers with respect to field-goal percentage and overall efficiency. Watching Morrison, on the couple occasions I managed to, revealed a one-dimensional player: Morrison could only jack up shots. And they missed.

Which brings us to Year Three for JJ and Morrison. Early reports out of Orlando indicate that Redick should see a little more action this season. Morrison looks destined for worse. On a highly athletic (though terrible) Bobcats team, I simply can not find a spot for a one-dimensional player coming off a down season after tearing his ACL.

(And apparently Morrison's hair is longer. Like waist-length ponytail. And more facial hair. What's with these wholesome-looking white dudes in the League who go nuts overnight? Case example: Robert Swift. His career has been packed with injuries, so what did he do with all that free, rehabbing time? Got a bunch of tattoos and grew a huge ponytail. What possesses these white NBA players to go all Cherokee Parks? CP is the white man's trailblazer for freedom of expression.)

How much of the Redick/Morrison thing was a fabrication of the white sports media (which is really, really white)? As a collective entity did they project their want of white sports heroes in collegiate basketball in the form of JJ and Adam? Granted, both players put up big numbers in big programs, but the media certainly elevated them to levels of Bird-esque grandeur. NBA scouting services went so far as to call Morrison the next Bird.

Isiah Thomas famously remarked that Larry Bird was a fabrication of the white media. I'm not sure how the media fabricates three Championships, but hey.

Were Isiah Thomas to ask the same of Redick and Morrison, you'd have a difficult time arguing against him considering the perspective we now have, their professional output in tow. Their respective games just don't translate to the NBA-level. A part of me wishes for both of them to find some modicum of success, which, realistically speaking, means earning 'role player' status. Redick in particular has something to offer. His shot is still textbook. During the two or three times I've seen him make late entries into a game, he never failed to work hard for his shot and nail a couple threes.

With Morrison coming off surgery I don't see a bright future for him. At least not in Charlotte. The Second Coming of Larry Bird he is not. Ultimately, his legend was the greater of fabrications. And I think that's what history will ascertain from his career.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Banana Question

A quote from Amir Johnson's Wikipedia page:

"Amir has a brother that he dont know about and his brother plays basketball at Penn State and his name is David Jackson."

(Quick Amir, check your Wikipedia page! Your brother has been revealed! Ungrammatically!)

The Wiki editors let an abominable opening paragraph reach the interweb. Regardless, one of the NBA's most efficient, albeit unused, players will begin the pre-season as a starting power forward.

The Pistons, despite multiple years of uninspiring play in crunch-time, look like a dangerous team.

The biggest issue with the Pistons has always been motivation, namely that they believe they can turn it on whenever it counts (ie. the playoffs). But they can't turn it on whenever they want. If first-year coach Michael Curry can get through to them - and new coaches can always light a fire under their player's asses - they'll be fantastic.

Amir Johnson will finally get some burn. I believe him and Stuckey will tally up many MIP votes. Maxiell is still a fantastic piece off the bench. The only drawback is age. It won't be a major issue this season, but the window is quickly closing for one of the most successful core groups of players of the 2000s. When you look up and down that Pistons roster, they're still menacing. And they have more talent to unleash.

Just don't let Kwame Brown see the court.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Down with James White

James White's athleticism has been on my radar for a while.

During my adolescence, I went to a school where all kids were required to own laptops. When developing this program, the school mistakenly thought the technology-infused academic environment would enhance our academic abilities. Most students ended up playing Quake III or Mario World on a SNES emulator during class. When a teacher walked by someone playing a game, a flurry of hand movement would occur and the game exited safely from the student's screen. Eventually the teachers were wise to these spasmodic actions when their entering our vicinity. My thing was basketball videos. Scouring shitty websites looking for anything basketball related.

(My buddy Tumelo and I used to watch Rucker Park highlights during Canadian History class. Our teacher often showed up to class twenty minutes late. Some girl in the class thought our oohing and ahhing came from watching porn.)

For the first half of high school, I went really big into University of North Carolina basketball. I think a UNC basketball website was my home page. I was up on all their recruits and everything, one of whom was Jawad Williams. Williams participated in a McDonald's All-American dunk contest. David Lee edge out James White in the finals. Lee was pretty creative, but White was an all-out athletic freak. Some videos were posted on the internet and White became a teenage hardcourt myth. Here was a high school kid converting free throw line dunks with more flair than any man who converted the same dunk in the League's version of the contest (Jordan, Dr. J, Brent Barry [obviously]).

Things didn't work out with the University of Florida (where Lee played his ball) and he ended up with the Cincinnati Bobcats for the remainder of his collegiate career. He hasn't held down a permanent NBA gig. Which doesn't matter because his potential move to China spells certain fame for one of basketball's greatest athletes (link via HoopsHype).

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, basketball is built on the spectacular. The greatest moments from most NBA games are when a player defies the conventions and framework of typical NBA basketball and complete a play which challenges the viewers notions of basketball's limits. And this is why James White will succeed in a global market.

White possesses athletic abilities few NBA players, if any, can replicate in the most competitive professional sports league in the world. Against professional competition in China White will dominate and find an ideal venue for his dunking abilitity.

Basketball is rapidly expanding. China's enthusiasm for American players during the 08 Olympics is all the evidence you need. Kobe Bryant's popularity compares favourably with Yao Ming's. And in a sport built on the spectacular, James White could enter a fruitful career in a flourishing global economy.