Where Damon Stoudamire gets his pot.

Monday, February 16, 2009

One Two

One of the more obvious video selections in the short history of The Cold Draft.

How hilarious was this dance from Shaq? For the duration of his routine I kept thinking "This should be winding down soon." And then it kept going. In all of its 350-pound shockingly-rhythmic glory.

A sexy dance from Nate Robinson:

Nate's pre-game warm-up:

Next season they should have a dance-off on All-Star Saturday night. Lebron can break some nice moves, Dwight Howard and Shaq are obvious choices, and you'd even get an awkward white guy like David Lee or Dirk Nowitzki to attempt 'The Worm'. Can't miss television. All-Star Saturday night needs a circus-like competition of ridiculous consequence. Somewhat like the Barkley/Bavetta race from a couple years back. That race had nothing to do with basketball skill and neither does a dance competition. If you're gonna purposely ham it up with telephone booths, costumes, and fake posturing, you might as well give us some sanctioned dancing.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Meadowlands

Let's take a quick step into the Martlet columns.

Here is the first, in which I attempt to make the argument that Bosh will leave in two years. Does the Marion trade change that? Meh, not really. Marion's contract is expiring, he's aged significantly over the past two seasons, and he doesn't make them a playoff-bound NBA squad. Some problems get patched up, others pop up. This is one of those cases. The Raps get much better at SF and get to attempt a Suns-like game approach. However, they lose a post player and bring in a character with questionable locker room attributes.

This other column is from a couple weeks back. The thrust of the article is that the fans are terrible at voting for the All-Star Game. I mean, Iverson and Stoudemire are certainly not the best at their respective positions in their respective conferences. And Bruce Bowen and Yi Jianlian were nearly voted in. AI and STAT are one thing, but the Chairmen represents a level of futility unacceptable for the game. After a couple weeks of separation from the article's release I feel strange about the argument. You can't take voting away from the fans. Stern depends on the Game/Fan relationship too much for the coaches to take those starting votes away. Yet the Bowen thing, especially, registers a furrowed eyebrow.

(Jianlian, on the other hand, doesn't surprise when you've got a nation 1.4 billion strong supporting you. In a sense, it's almost pathetic he couldn't get the votes. Shouldn't Yao-Jianlian be finishing one-two?)

Did Rudy Embarrass all of us White People?

I really don't think so. He finished one point behind JR Smith for last place. Yet both of his dunks were decent. Nothing great, however. The second, disregarding the first eight attempts in which Pau tried some cheeky passes, looks like a dunk that semi-updates the Iguodala/Howard dunk (this time a reverse) and packs a good amount of flair and style. The first was lesser Rex Chapman, a fact pointed out by Kenny 'The Jet' Smith.

Which Brings Me to this Video:

Aside from Nate's dunks - and Nate being a deserved Slam Dunk Champion - listen to Smith and Reggie Miller disagree with each other continually. Did the producers of the show say "Hey Reggie, spice things up a little and say the opposite of everything Smith says?" Or was there a bizarre competition between them as to who the Great Basketball Analyst was? Initially my thoughts were leaning towards the latter. Throughout the telecast, if they weren't arguing with each other over "tactics" for the games, they were calling each other out for failed predictions or whatever else they could dig up.

Now I realize that Miller must've felt a little pressure for taking the Chuckster's place at the head table. Maybe pressure is the wrong word. Miller was a crunch-time player, so a broadcasting situation shouldn't faze him. But filling the role that Barkley brings - ie. hilarity and insight in equal doses - comes down to personality and intelligence, neither of which Miller can fake.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thunder Dan

Reggie miller couldn't analyze his way out of a wet paper bag. Charles Barkley is sorely missed from this telecast. An example:

-Referring to Kevin Durant as Kevin Garnett, as in "Kevin Garnett was fantastic in the Rookie/Sophomore game last name." When Kevin Harlin is calling you out on basic NBA facts, this is not good for your broadcasting career.

Miller's oratory is on the opposite end of the spectrum as Barack Obama.

Good lord, they're promo-ing a Britney Spears song for the All-Star Events! C'mon TNT, just buy the rights to some songs from A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, De La Soul, etc. It would fit much better with 90s pseudo-indie conscious rap seeing as basketball fans are often into this type of music. Plus it's catchy and not something on the playlist of a 12-year-old girl.

Lisa Leslie has a terrible shot. There's this awkward hitch in the middle of the release.

"They gotta make it in." Wise words from Miller. As instructions for what you need to do to win this bizarre competition where an NBA player is teamed with a WNBA player and a former NBA star and they take a variety of shots. Whoever is in charge of All-Star weekend, and it's probably Stern, really thinks this lame shooting competition is fantastic. I guess it's the only time an NBA player sees a WNBA player during the calendar year.

Michael Cooper and Bill Laimbeer have both hit half-court shots. That's the reason why this competition doesn't involve skill. Laimbeer has the body of an elderly poker player.

Barbosa has no mid-range game.

It's so forced when the NBA player, retired guy, and WNBA player fake cheer with one another after they make the hall-courter. As if they're old buddies from the schoolyard. Except David Robinson's still nearly two feet taller than whoever the WNBA player is. Tim Duncan could be baked right now (highly unlikely) and it wouldn't matter what happens in the competition.

Rip Hamilton is by far the worst player endorsed by Jordan Brand. This difference between him, at this point, and Joe Johnson , is a wide chasm of talent. But hey, it's gotta be nice for his ego.

Gotta love the ball boy who nearly jumped in the way of bounce pass from Mo Williams. That was the difference between Williams going ahead of Harris for the final round.

The end of the NBA Cares spiel was almost cut-off by Kevin Harlin lauching into a "The Three-Point competition continues after this commercial break!"

Reggie Miller's "Homer" Count: 5.

Chris Tucker has apparently gained 100 pounds.

Adonal Foyle was given a seat behind Kapono in the stands. Ah, the perks of being Adonal Foyle.

A message to Dwayne Wade: You don't need to rock the Nelly-style band-aid under your eye. Plus the band-aid matches your sweater. Who the hell is your stylist? My guess is a girlfriend. Nobody else could possibly convince him (well, probably an agent).

Dwayne Wade and Lebron James might have a competition between them to see who can wear the weirdest clothing.

Dwight Howard is quite a bizarre guy.

I hope Rudy doesn't embarrass all the white people in the building.

Howard's theatrics are way too planned-out, however spectacular the dunk is. Having Stern on the phone, getting into the phone booth - this is all too prop comedy for me.

Nate is about six inches shorter than Cheryl Miller. Miller is 6-foot-2 , thus making Robinson 5-foot-8.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

State Trooper

Must say that I vehemently disagree with Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon's lauding of Kobe's 61 points at MSG as some kind of "statement" game now that Bynum, like last season, is on the fritz.

I agree with the fact that his performance was monumental and ranks with MSG's finest. But if I were the San Antonio Spurs - or any other Western squad looking to compete with a more vulnerable Lakers franchise - this is exactly what I want.

How were Kobe's other numbers? 3 assists and 0 rebounds. Hardly inspiring.

Kobe gets the benefit of the doubt since Odom and Gasol each pulled down 14 rebounds. But somebody else last night (and someone who wasn't in the Garden) pulled down one greater. It was Tim Duncan, who put up an impressive 32 points and 15 rebounds in a win over Golden State.

Maybe the Lakers simply didn't need Kobe's rebounding services. But I can tell you one thing - Odom and Gasol aren't pulling down that many against Duncan and Kurt Thomas.

And another thing: Kobe won't be getting 20 free throws against the San Antonio Spurs. He'll be lucky to exceed 12 on any night of a seven-game series. (Another note is that the Lakers were playing the New York Knicks who, while improved, are still one year removed from the Isiah Thomas-era.)

This is exactly the type of one-man basketball other teams want the Lakers to play. Remember the Lakers pre-Bynum-and-Gasol? Kobe had enough skill to will them into the playoffs, but when the Phoenix Suns had the Lakers for a best-of-seven series, they were able to expose how thin those teams were.

I'm not saying the Lakers are nearly as thin as those squads from a few years back, but a one-man Lakers attack can't possibly be seen as a good approach from a highly-talented team most successful when players aside from Kobe can alleviate his pressure by assuming a more integral role in production.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Head Spins (Extended Version)

When I just went on YouTube, the box which recommends you videos - presumably based on what you continually search for and watch - featured a video of Charles Oakley elbowing John Paxson in the head and a sports broadcast feature on Kelenna Azubuike. This new YouTube feature can predict or even reinforce your fascinations. I mean, c'mon, do you really need to entice me with a five minute video of Kelenna Azubuike? I like the guy, he's a great player, but that's five minutes you'll never get back.

Oh wait, you have video of MJ making an appearance on that Wayans Bros. family comedy "My Wife and Kids?" Okay:

The thing about Jordan in this video is that deep down you can tell he's trying. And that he's trying to embarrass that Wayans guy, whose name might be Damon. Which brings me to some stuff Chuck Klosterman and Bill Simmons were talking about: Jordan's homicidal tendencies. In a new bit of information, for me, Simmons reveals that Jordan - after having murdered Clyde Drexler in the 92 Finals - continued to school Drexler well into the Dream Team practices of the Barcelona Olympics, until someone told Jordan to stop.

Of course I can't verify the facts of this story - Simmons threw it out there as such - but it's still compelling and totally Jordan-esque in its level of lunacy. There couldn't be another basketball player as little understood as Jordan. I revere the guy's success, work ethic, and competitiveness, but he was certifiably nuts, with a dark side the public either never saw or simply ignored. Kobe got the raw end of the stick in public judgment.

Well, the reason for posting is this video of Dell Curry, one of the great Raptor bench players:

A video like this makes you pine for the Carter-era Raptors.

One last thing: the latest article in the Martlet, a review of the first half of the season, including awards for Best Team, Most Disappointing Player, and more.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Will Vince Carter Make the Hall of Fame?

The title gets a 2nd place award - behind some post I made about liking Ricky Davis - for the most direct title of this blog's short history.

So with that in mind, does Carter make the Hall of Fame after he unlaces his sneakers for the final time? In a pragmatic way I'll try to break down his chances, with a number of categories: Statistics, Best String of Years, Signature Team, Team Accomplishments, All-Star teams, and Other Appeal. If that's not an airtight way of assessing his chances, I don't know what is.

In lieu of the fact that the categories are self-explanatory - a couple minutes earlier I actually thought they needed explanation - I'll begin by stating that Toronto Raptors fans, myself included, have this morbid fascination with anything Carter-related. It's pathetic. When Vince does something awful or spectacular during the game, a flood of interest and emotion flare up in Toronto and across Canada. Vince Carter could walk out on a bill in a New Jersey steakhouse and I'd be fascinated.

Statistics. They've reacted well this season with the addition of Devin Harris, but after this season he'll fall off and keep up appearances for a reasonable amount of time before suffering a life threatening injury, let's say, four or five years from now.
If we evaluate his early career, there are four, maybe five solid years of basketball when Carter averaged mid-to-high 20s in ppg, over 5 boards per game, and even three seasons over 40% from the 3-point line.
Yet his stats don't really wow you. Whenever a player makes the Hall, two stats appear over-and-over on the sports broadcast byline: Stats and All-Star game appearances. Carter's statistics don't fare too well when you compare him to two other guys from the very early post-Jordan NBA: Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson. For Carter's stats to shine during his reign of a very hungover, misaligned NBA, he needed to be better than these guys, and McGrady is very borderline as a HOF candidate.
He needed a couple seasons where he cracked 30 ppg.

Best String of Years. Definitely the three seasons with the Raptors, his second and fourth, from 1999 to 2002. After that his career slid big time. The injuries piled up, Raptor nation turned on him, he turned on Toronto, and when he was healthy he wasn't the same explosive guy. Still a good player, but not the same.
After this he had a one-off shorter year with the Nets when he cracked 27 ppg for the first time.
In short, not a great string of years for Vince.

Signature Team. This one is a killer for Carter. Most great players are identified with one franchise and synonymous with that city's sports history. Do you envision Carter as a Raptor? Well, not really. He turned on his team when times got tough and revealed his true character. What about as a New Jersey Net? Um, not much better. They made the post-season with Carter on numerous occasions - even advanced beyond the first round - but the fact remains that New Jersey has been a terrible place for basketball for so long. And it looks like they could be leaving. New Jersey has a very underwhelming history that looks to get worse.

Team Accomplishments. This will be brief: Carter never was a number-one player and option. He could've been a great second banana - this banana term is really catching on, I hope - but inexplicably another good player wasn't put ahead of him in the team's pecking order, probably because Richard Jefferson and Jason Kidd weren't quite good enough to fill the role. Carter had the responsibility of heading-up that threesome and it squandered his best opportunity to win big at the playoff level.

All-Stars. The other stat in the byline. This could help Carter. Eight All-Star selections, many of them voted in as a starter. Ten's a nice round number but I don't think he gets it.

Other Appeal. Another category that helps Carter a ton in the HOF debate. His dunking ability was a little bit of a precursor - during those opening stages to the post-Jordan culture - to the hyperathleticism we see from Josh Smith, Dwight Howard, and Amare Stoudamire. He might even go down as the top dunker of all time.

Final Verdict. Unless Carter has a late career renaissance as the second-option behind Lebron James in Cleveland en route to five championships, he isn't getting in. And I think Carter's the type of person who - when he fails to get in - will probably sulk about it for a while and believe that he's worthy. But it doesn't look like he is, according to my pragmatic and heavily flawed system of evaluation.

Rolling Thunder

Around the half-way point of the regular season I think it's safe to assume that the Raptors have faltered, will not meet their pre-season expectations, and look poised for a trip to the Draft Lottery (as luck would have it, this draft is considerably weaker than most from the past half-decade).

On MLK Day, versus the Atlanta Hawks, it became readily apparent that Jamario Moon did not have the mental fortitude to prevent a matinee loss in - let's try out the hip lingo - Hotlanta. Not only did the watching public notice this, but so did Chris Bosh, who vented on Moon in a public forum (via the Toronto Star). Here's an excerpt:

"Watch the film. He gives him a straight line to the basket," said Bosh. "Joe Johnson. All-star. Whatever you want to call him, one of the best players or two-guards in the league and you give him a straight line? You can't.

What Bosh neglected to mention were the ensuing two plays, each nearly as deplorable as letting Joe Johnson - who I believe is terribly underrated as a superstar player - get a clear line to the bucket.

The next biggie came with the Hawks down one with time winding down. Mike Bibby threw a pump-fake, which Moon naturally jumped on, clearly forgetting he had upwards of 8 inches of height on Bibby and greater arm length. Bibby's veteran move ended up drawing the foul. He then knocked down both subsequent free throws to give the Hawks a one point edge.

All of which pales in comparison to the next immediate play.

Down one Moon received a pass outside the three-point arc, and in an attempt to win back Bosh's love and admiration, heaved an ill-advised shot, which obviously didn't go in, because let's face it - Moon got popular last season for dunking, not his three-point skills.

The fact remains that Moon received this pass with tons of time remaining in the shot clock, enough to feed Bosh in the post or run a play for Bargnani - the two players who should've been taking a crunch time jumper.

Jamario Moon needs to be thrown under the bus. But is Bosh venting in a very public forum a good manner of discourse?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Radar Maker

Nash is the only one who didn't wax his chest. Idiot.

To start I have a couple columns from the Martlet I'd like to share. The first contends that the Raptors need to shore up a couple problems - and at the time this was written, coaching and Andrea Bargnani were the top candidates - to secure Bosh's trust for the longterm. Because if they don't, the franchise puts themselves in a hole for at least a few years. And given a marginal draft history - their best drafting was probably done by Isiah Thomas - Bosh's faith in the franchise's direction must be the number one priority over the next 18 months.

With a couple weeks of retrospection I maintain that the Raps could improve at the head coach position. That said, give Jay Triano the rest of the season to prove his merit. If the Raps finish well below .500, then I think you look elsewhere.

Andrea Bargnani, on the other hand, is safe. Since he took the starting centre position from an injured Jermaine O'Neal he's flourished in the new system. Bargnani has been borderline infuriating at times in his short career, but in the past two or three weeks we've seen more than enough evidence that he belongs on this team and factors heavily in their future.

(Note: I'm watching the MLK Day action, which is fantastic for someone such as myself who works nights and thus watches far less action than I wish to. The matinee MLK match-ups might be one of the unheralded aspects to the NBA. And then Dirk Nowitzki - who looks a little Aryan - nails a buzzer-beater against the 76ers. Oh, and Mike Bibby just missed an open lay-up against the Raps. And I'm not talking about a straight-on, clanked-against-the-back-rim missed lay-up. Bibby has an angle on the rim and went SHORT on the bank.)

This is the second, and current, column in the Martlet
. Which is really a more comedic piece about the five biggest career collapses among current players. I really wanted to include Tracy McGrady in this piece, but seeing as the Chinese voters might put him in the starting line-up in Phoenix, with no regard for his actual on-court play, I didn't think I could swing it. Certainly one of the better columns in a while.

So how about these JO for Shawn Marion rumours?

There's no doubt the Raptors play infinitely better when JO is out of the line-up. Bargnani has filled the centre role with ease and helps their squad play at a quicker pace. JO keeps them stagnant on offence and has increasing difficulty finding points. In short: they don't need Jermaine O'Neal on their team.

Obviously his large contract holds some trade value around the league. It expires by 2010 - in other words it passes the first question other teams might ask about your trade bait.

But does Marion fit with the Raps? From a basketball standpoint, yes. From a personality standpoint, no.

Marion could immediately step into the small forward position that has caused the Raps such difficulty this season. Does this stagnate the development of Joey Graham? Sure does, but he's had three years to prove his merit, and despite improvements to his game, he's not their answer at small forward.

Marion would give them a spark of athleticism and defence at the perimeter (which is more than some Raps SFs can offer). If the Raps really want to implement a high-tempo offense, Marion is a great option for the receiving end of some Calderon alley-oops.

The biggest downsides in a potential trade are character issues with Marion and his considerable decrease in efficiency. Throughout his tenure with the Phoenix Suns, Marion had problems with accolades being showered upon Amare Stoudamire and Steve Nash, who, unbeknownst to Marion, took his play to a much higher level with his arrival. If Marion came to Toronto, he'd be far from the top alpha dog. This is Bosh's team. It's even Jose and Andrea's team before it's Marion's.

Plus Marion's stats have plummetted since his Phoenix departure. His rebounding statistics remain passable at 9 per game, but his scoring is 10 points fewer than his best Phoenix seasons. Marion is no longer a young man, though still pretty spry. You can't say that he isn't surrounded by good players. Mario Chalmers isn't a slouch at point guard, regardless of being a rookie. Dwayne Wade, despite his scoring prowess, can pass the ball. And yet Marion isn't scoring.

Could Jose inject some moxy into Marion's career? If Colangelo pulls the trigger, with the assistance of Pat Riley, we'll find out.

At least Marion has an expiring contract. That's all anyone cares about.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Vince Carter, in the eyes of some, has pieced together an overachieving season (with his 32nd birthday falling at the end of January) to help bolter New Jersey - a team I unequivocally thought would be terrible. And for some bizarre and deep-rooted reason I still become fascinated with anything Carter-related. Which is why I think this video of his ejection indicates that his 23 points-per-game is an early season fluke and an indicator of the frustration he might be feeling as his career enters the slippery slope of aging.

The most obvious reason for Carter's increased output can be attributed to Devin Harris's emergence as a top-tier NBA point guard. One thing we've quickly determined from Harris is that he's not your prototypical PG, at least in the role of being a pass-first facilitator. His assist numbers are pretty average for a player with the ball constantly in his possession. But he takes the heat off Carter. No longer does a team shut Carter down and trample over the Nets. If Carter is the number one option in an offence and the top priority of opposing defences, the attention directed his way will usually cripple him.

(I hate to slam Carter like that because (a) he was the first superstar for the Toronto Raptors and helped Toronto get taken seriously for basketball on an international scale, (b) in his prime with T.O. he was an electrifying and streaky offensive talent, and (c) the sheer volume of Carter highlight footage. But he's still the unlikeable guy with questionable desire and a tendency to quit on his team.)

Carter has enjoyed some success as a number-one option in New Jersey. Frequently he torches his former club, often at the Air Canada Centre. But can you remember any big game situations - we're talking playoff ball here - where Carter could not be stopped and willed his team to victory? He had some decent Raptor moments, but they were still a ragtag bunch who repeatedly were knocked out in first- and second-rounds.

Now with Harris torching Eastern Conference point guards on a nightly basis, the opposing team is more focused on keeping Harris out of the paint. Which, if you were the competition, would you prefer to happen: Harris driving to the tin and shooting mid-range jumpers or Carter settling to shoot outside threes?

You can't deny that Carter has taken opportunity of his new situation. He might be the most athletic and offensively accomplished (secretly) second banana players we've seen in some time.

But Carter is soon 32. He's always one injury away from missing significant time. He lacks the speed and athleticism from earlier in his career. (This, especially, was evident during last year's season when Carter, on the rare occasion, made a drive to the basket. Only now he can't blow by defenders for high-percentage field goals and settles for obscure maneuvers to get off his shot.) Things can't get much better for Carter than 23 ppg. Down is the only place he can go.

Which brings me back to this video. Now we don't get very much out of the videos outside of Carter barking to the referee a little, him getting T'd up, and then being escorted from the floor. But from published reports Carter was escorted from the floor by a Nets security member after initially refusing to leave.

Could Carter be reaching basketball senility? That time in an experienced players career when they lose it on the floor? Just to clarify what 'losing' it means, this is when a player gets angry and (a) has a spirited verbal exchange with a fan he wants to bludgeon, (b) fights an opposing player, (c) fights his own teammates, or (d) gets tossed from a New Year's Eve game in the second quarter for no apparent reason and needs Lawrence Frank to hold him back from a referee.

This doesn't spell good things for Carter. And why wouldn't his career - albeit successful for the moment - be headed for tough times? The New Jersey Nets could be moving to Brooklyn within a couple years. The future Brooklyn Nets should be a player in the Lebron sweepstakes, thus no room for Carter in his athletic senescence. Plus New Jersey isn't exactly a basketball state willing to get behind its athletes and inspire its players. When I watch a game being played in NJ the atmosphere resembles a sparsely attended Junior Varsity game. It's like the Nets play opponents in a local YMCA. There's very little in the way of cheering and excitement. You'd almost forgive Carter for maybe not giving it 100% every night.

Then he makes a wincing face of pain after landing on a defender's ankle and your forgiveness fades.