Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Rocky Mountain Answer

Everyone likes to shit on Allen I. It started when he got pegged with throwing a chair in a bowling alley fight as a young high school star of both football and basketball in Hampton, Virginia. Whatever you think really happened all those years ago, nothing about Iverson’s image would dissuade you from believing the worst. He’s tough. He’s street. He’s never distanced himself from the friends and family that supported him from his days as a young man, growing up under very tough circumstances.

Iverson’s been in trouble with the law as an NBA player as well. His car, his close associates, his pistol, his marital problems, and maybe his weed have all had the spotlight over the years. He’s got tattoos (that were airbrushed out on the cover of Hoop some years ago). He doesn’t wear a suit when he travels. He doesn’t practice much. He wears a cap tilted to the side, and cornrows. He shoots the ball A LOT. The corporate hypocrites will tell you that this is both great for business, as young kids on the street scrape together money, in whatever way they can, to buy his shoes, apparel, and all the rest. They also point their fingers at the blackness of the crimes that have the same kids killing each other for those products.

It’s more than a corporate hypocrisy though. It’s one of the great American hypocrisies that puts a black face in every living room via sports and entertainment, but refuses to get close enough to have a black face actually in the living room as a friend or family member. I pull know punches when I point my finger at the dysfunctional American landscape of race and culture. Iverson is who he is. He grew up where he grew up and faced the same issues that millions of others, Black, White, Latin, and Other face thanks to economic inequality and the failed American experiment. We gave on people like Iverson a long time ago. It’s our national shame.

The thing is, Iverson probably doesn’t give a shit about any of it. He’s happy with who he is, his genius and his personal failings all included. He makes no apologies, asks no forgiveness, and goes out on the court ready to die for a win every night. Iverson is a product of his environment, but he also possesses great genius that allows him to build a new environment for himself and all the people around him. It doesn’t make the mess that is the mean streets go away. There are some eggs broken when you make an omelet. The thing is, the NBA projects this squeaky clean image of sanitized multi-cultural harmony that incorporates country western, hip hop, and rock and roll in arenas all over America. They want to appeal to everyone.

Me, I like my reality raw and unfiltered. The world isn’t that Disney, jolly, Mayberry, American Idol nice-nice, and neither are the players. To be sure, there are guys from the same mean streets that produced Allen Iverson that take the money and the fast life and give a middle finger to the game. They don’t really care about basketball, and they only really play every night to collect their big fat checks. There are even some guys out there that hate basketball, but know where the bread is won. Shawn Bradley, one of the nice-nice Mormon choirboys that the NBA can only dream about, didn’t care about basketball. He was a 7’6” kid that had a little coordination and half a jump shot. He got paid big time, but he didn’t like basketball all that much. I believe that Derrick Coleman gave up on basketball early on in his career.

Allen Iverson has never given up. He has never let his status affect his play on the court. He got to the league by scoring millions of points, and he’ll go to his grave scoring a lot more. He plays hurt. He plays hard. He never says die, even with his team lost in the standings and down big in every ballgame. If anything, Iverson’s off court life has made him the greatest kind of warrior you can hope for on your team. He’s a guy you want to be with in a foxhole. In fact, there isn’t another professional athlete that I’d rather be in a foxhole with than Allen Iverson. He’s not clean cut. He doesn’t always make the best choices in his life, but he always does everything with his heart.

Many of the great figures of American society have come about their success by facing harsh circumstances but persevered to reach the pinnacles of their professions. This is particularly true of the greatest artists of the modern world. It’s the reason why American Idol will never produce any legitimate talent, and why the insane asylums, back street gutters, and dysfunctional homes of the world are the most fertile grounds for genius. Genius is born of both great natural gifts, and the struggle. The struggle is what the NBA and its sponsors want you to ignore. They want you to see the smoke and mirrors. I prefer to tear the band-aid off and see the whole unseemly picture.

Iverson now joins the Denver Nuggets. His days in Philly are finally over. He’ll be remembered by Sixers fans as one of the greatest figures in Philadelphia sports history when they’ve had a chance to step back and look at what he’s done. The warts will be there too, but his character on the court is unquestionable. There are plenty of people who will say that Denver made a mistake. They’ll point to all the big flaws that go along with Allen Iverson. They’ll tear off the band-aid and show the world the ugly parts of Allen I. To me those are reality. They help me understand that he’ll finish out his days in a Nuggets uniform and probably limp off the court for the last time proud of what he’s done. His teammates will salute him, and he’ll stand at his Hall of Fame ceremony with a cap tilted to the side, a wry smile, and an audience full of other street kids who know where he came from and how much he accomplished in lifting himself and a lot of other people without selling out.

I’m confident that he’ll shoot a lot in Denver, Carmelo Anthony or no. I’m sure he’ll get his 8 assists, and he’ll dominate the ball, and he’ll swipe 2 or 3 a game. He won’t change, except that he won’t be the only one out there every night that can put the ball in the hole. George Karl had a similar character on his Sonics teams. Gary Payton wasn’t all that different from Allen I when all is said and done. He’s a great coach for Iverson. Melo and Iverson will play off each other well, and the Nuggets will be in good shape. Whatever happens in the end they will compete every night, and make their fans proud. Watch.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Mother May I?

Sean May's getting burn now. Bickerstaff finally saw the light on this guy. He was hurt all last year in his rookie campaign. He got sporadic minutes for the whole 1st month of the season, but I've been paying attention. I saw last year, and in the preseason this year that the lottery pick from UNC posts fierce numbers when he gets over 25 minutes a game. Without fail, when he gets those minutes he scores, boards, dishes, steals, and blocks. His numbers at UNC back all that up. He averaged 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks over 3 years at Carolina. He can ball. I wrote in our season preview at EvW:

"Finally, Sean May will have a surprising impact this season. Watch."

He's busting out. If he continues to get 25+ minutes the rest of the way, he'll put up 16-18 points on around .500 shooting and .750 from the line, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and close to a steal and a block. To compare him to someone similar, I looked around for a close breakdown. Let's call May's numbers a 28 minute per game estimate.

May projections (28 mpg .500/.750 16.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.2 rpg, .8 steals, 1.2 bpg)
Mr. X statistic (37 mpg .524/.724 18.6 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.2 steals, 1.9 bpg)

Player X gets 9 minutes a game more. Let's see what they do per 48 minutes.

May per 48 (25.2 ppg, 13.4 rpg, 3.6 apg, .72 spg, 1.72 bpg)
MrX per 48 (23.9 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.59 spg, 2.44 bpg)

So, May is not quite the stat sheet stuffer that Mr. X is on defense, but I suspect his steals would be higher if he played a bit more. Last year he averaged .7 steals in only 17 minutes. The blocks look to be a reasonable downgrade. He's at .9 this year in 24 minutes. Have you guessed who Mr. X is?

Elton Brand.

Watch my man break out. All it is in the NBA is minutes. May will be starting within a month and Brezec will be a thing of the past.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I'm all amped up about J.R. Smith. It's mainly because he's on my fantasy team, and I need him to do well, but I actually drafted him in the final round of my league two years ago, when he was a rookie. I've liked him from the start. I'm looking at what he's been doing lately, and it seems that the 21 year old is on the verge of breaking out. The Nuggets may have fleeced the Bulls, and the Bulls may have fleeced the Hornets. It's one of those things that makes you a little sick when you think of it, but imagine that Smith turns out to be great and then remember that Byron Scott basically booted him because he was young, cocky, and a little stupid. He could have paired with Chris Paul for 15 years as a dynamite backcourt. He'll look pretty good next to Carmelo Anthony as it is. For the hell of it, let's look at what a few other players did in their 3rd season, while playing around 30 minutes at SG. *Ray Allen's numbers are his rookie stats, when he was also 21. He jumped out of the box with major minutes from day one.

J.R. Smith(21) (16.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.4 SPG, 3.0 3PG)

Ray Allen(21*) (13.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.6 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.4 3PG)
Michael Redd(23) (15.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 2.2 3PG)
Kobe Bryant(20) (19.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.5 3PG)
Tracy McGrady(21) (15.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.9 BPG!, 0.2 3PG)

By taking this small sample, it appears as though Smith is more in the mold of Ray Allen and Michael Redd, as I suspected. He is more athletic than either of them, and would seem to resemble McGrady more, but his game is not as dynamic. He doesn't attack the rim, or crash the boards. He does get his steals and shoots the lights out of the three. He also looks a bit like Eddie Jones or Morris Peterson when they broke into the league. Most of the players who play this particular style have entered a bit later, as they probably lacked the dynamic quality to be thought of as highly as Kobe or T-Mac. Michael Redd is that kind of player as well. He was a standout at Ohio State, but not nearly as highly regarded as a guy like Ray Allen, who was an NCAA Player of the Year. Now Redd is in Allen's class, and fills it up on a nightly basis.

I see a Redd/Allen type player emerging in Smith, and the Nuggets have wisely given him the minutes he deserves. If you look at his first two seasons, he produced some big nights when given the time. In his rookie 2004-05 season, at the age of 19, Smith started 56 games and had twelve 20+ point games (one over 30) and eleven games in which he hit 3 or more three pointers. In his sophmore campaign, Smith found himself in Byron Scott's doghouse and only started 25 games. He had two games of 20 points or more, and five games of 3 three pointers or more. After having played more than 30 minutes 26 times in his rookie season, Scott tried his best to ruin a talented young guy that just needed to make his mistakes on the floor. He played 30+ minutes on only 5 occasions last season, and almost not at all for the last 2 months of the year.

This season, in 9 games, J.R. has played 30+ in five of the first 8 games, and has a 21 point outburst to go with his more recent 36. The only time he's failed to score at least 16 points were two occasions that George Karl was trying to send him a message. To his credit, Karl is giving him a long rope and putting up with the flakey moments that leave a coach shaking his head. It seems the Bulls got two second round picks and Howard Eisley for a guy that could be Michael Redd or Ray Allen in two or three years. Time will tell, but it's time to start watching J.R. Smith.

Mr. East

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mr. West's Money

I admit ... I have a gambling problem. My problem is that I don't gamble on sports, namely the NBA. Distrustful of online gambling and stuck in NYC, sports betting is literally thousands of miles from me. But the one thing I believe I am good at is picking how well NBA teams will do over the course of the season: wins and losses.

Taking $10,000 imaginary dollars, let's place these following bets:

Celtics: 36.5 wins
UNDER- second easiest bet, no fucking way do these kids win more games than last year in a more competitive East. I also foresee one Paul Pierce injury for 8-10 games sinking this team fully).

Pistons: 50.5 wins
OVER- they won 64 last year. Is Ben Wallace worth 14 games by himself? No.)

Warriors: 37 wins
UNDER- oh please, this team has no idea how to win ballgames in a strong West).

Rockets: 47.5
UNDER- too many injuries I predict and they only won 34 games last year)

Clippers: 47
OVER- oh yes, they will exceed 47 wins, heck, they won 47 last year alone)

Utah: 40.5

OVER- easily will exceed 40 wins with a healthy line-up or any line-up this year)

Wizards: 40 wins
OVER- hoping they will win north of 40 as they kept the same line-up and should mildly improve).

Easiest route is to place $5,000 on the Celtics to win less than 37 wins and for the Jazz to win more than 40. I need a sugardaddy.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

We're Baaaaaaaack!!!

Yes, yes y’all. It’s time for the revival. East versus West is back for the 2006-2007 season and better than ever!!!! Well….we’re basically the same as before, but that wasn’t terrible. We’re…….back. Ahem.

Mr. West: Every year, all the experts and hacks and now blogging goofballs make their predictions. But what you don’t see is what their track record is for picks. It's almost as if their predictions are more important than the reality of their analysis. Take Sports Illustrated, for example, they generally suck at picking in the pre-season. So here is our posting form last year's predictions, for the record. Sure, I correctly picked the Heat to win it all but we also both thought the Rockets would fare better. We wish more experts would print reality with their thoughts in predictions.

Mr East: West and I are ready to break down the season preview for you from our twisted but smarter than the paid professionals opinions. In the end, we’ll be wrong more than we’re right, but so are they. We just don’t make you pay for “Insider” access….yet. So with no further ado, let’s get this thing kicked off.

NBA 2006-2007 Playoff Teams

Mr. East

1. Miami Heat
2. Detroit Pistons
3. New Jersey Nets
4. Chicago Bulls
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
6. Washington Wizards
7. Philadelphia 76ers
8. Indiana Pacers

Conference Finals: Pistons over Heat

1. Phoenix Suns
2. San Antonio Spurs
3. Dallas Mavericks
4. Los Angeles Lakers
5. Utah Jazz
6. Denver Nuggets
7. Los Angeles Clippers
8. Houston Rockets

Conference Finals: Suns over Spurs

Finals: Suns over Pistons

Mr. West

1. Detroit Pistons
2. Miami Heat
3. Chicago Bulls
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
5. New Jersey Nets
6. Washington Bullets
7. Indiana Pacers
8. Orlando Magic

Conference Finals: Heat over Pistons

1. San Antonio Spurs
2. Dallas Mavericks
3. Phoenix Suns
4. Los Angeles Clippers
5. Los Angeles Lakers
6. Utah Jazz
7. Denver Nuggets
8. Houston Rockets

Conference Finals: Spurs over Mavericks

Finals: Spurs over Heat

Eastern Conference Preview

Atlantic Division
New Jersey Nets

The Nets are lucky to be in one of the weakest divisions in basketball. It’s not that they’re a mediocre team, they’re very good, but they should run away with a playoff spot. Kidd, Carter, and Jefferson are enough to make them very tough if everyone is healthy.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics make no sense. They have good players, but they all play the same positions. Telfair, West, Rondo. Pierce, Szczerbiak. Jefferson, Gomes.….Too young, too little playing time for all the talented parts. No playoffs, but close.

New York Knicks

You’ll hear plenty about these guys at EvW this season. I’m a fan and I want Zeke and Dolan out on their asses. This team is all window dressing. Some good players, both vets and kids, but no direction, bad coaching, no cap flexibility, and where’s the defense? Another wasted year at the Garden.

Philadelphia 76ers

I like the Sixers more than most. Some people think they’re a bad fit. Health is as important to this team as any other in the league, but Iverson is as much a soldier as he is a scorer. Iggy, Korver, Dalembert, Ollie, and Webber should make them well rounded. I see playoffs, and some good basketball on both ends of the floor.

Toronto Raptors

Blow this franchise up. They will never, ever, be good. They are clueless, and terrible to watch every year. Bad uniforms, bad players, bad management, bad arena. They hurt my eyes, man. I need to look away. Bosh should have bolted when he had the chance.

Central Division
Chicago Bulls

I like the Bulls. I mean, as a Knicks fan I’ll always hate the Bulls, but I like this group. They can play. The addition of Ben Wallace will make them super tough. They’ve been trying to get by with some real stiffs in the middle for years, while their other young guys have been getting better. I don’t know where the offense is going to come from, outside Ben Gordon, but it hardly matters when you won’t score either.

Detroit Pistons

Until somebody comes along and beats this team, they will always be my favorite to win it all in the East. The core pieces are great together, and even missing Big Ben they figure to put a hurting on the opposition. Mohammed is solid, if unspectacular, but he’ll get the job done. I bet Larry Brown is kicking himself. Jackass.

Cleveland Cavs

LeBron is overhyped. Don’t get me wrong, he’s great, but he’s overhyped. At the ripe young age of 21 he’s not Michael Jordan. He’s still getting his shit together. The rest of the team is solid, but really a bunch of “has beens” and “never will bes”. Who is going to help LeBron? Ilgauskas? Hughes? Damon Jones? Gooden? Ilgauskas is good, but you can have the rest of the roster.

Indiana Pacers

These guys are my final playoff team in the East. It could all blow up, but I’m still picking them. Tinsley and O’Neal are walking wounded. Stephen Jackson is a less interesting version of Ron Artest. Granger is about the only guy you feel good about cheering for in the club. They are talented when healthy and mentally stable, so you have to think they have a shot at the postseason, but only a slight shot.

Milwaukee Bucks

I hate the Bucks. They’re just so blah. Milwaukee isn’t a city that inspires dreams of lofty things. Happy Days ended in the early 80s, and it should have ended when Chachi hit puberty. Mo Williams is very good. Redd is excellent. They did a nice job bringing in Villanueva. The rest…..not so much. Please go away.

Miami Heat

The Heat are the team you love to hate. Talented but aging veterans that like to chuck, plus one stellar young Hall of Famer in the making. Wade is a transcendent talent, who fronts the likes of Jason Williams, Antoine Walker, James Posey, and Sheriff Shaquille O’Neal. How this team won the championship is beyond me. It shows the difference between the postseason and the long, brutal regular season. They’ll be at the top again, but I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in Hell that they’ll win it.

Southeast Division
Washington Wizards

The Wiz are a fun bunch. Arenas is a blur, and every bit as good as any other guard in the league. Jamison is much better than you think. Caron Butler is an ideal #3 guy. The bench is solid, and there are enough quality role players to build on. They really need one more good player to take it to the next level, but they will easily qualify for the playoffs. Too bad they have a stupid nickname. Bring back the Bullets.

Orlando Magic

The future is now…..actually the future is the future. These guys aren’t ready, but they are going places. Jameer Nelson is one of my favorite all-time NCAA players, and should be very strong as a full time starter. Dwight “Manchild” Howard will continue to get better. The problem is, why is Grant Hill even on the team? Turkoglu? Okay, but an ideal 6th Man. Get these guys a little more firepower and they’ll hit the top of the Conference in 3 or 4 years. Not now though.

Atlanta Hawks

Ugh. Toronto South. Blow this team up. Even people in Atlanta can’t stand them. They are better than the results, but they’ll never be good. Claxton? Josh Smith? Childress? Marvin Williams? Zaza? Not a top tier player in the bunch. There’s barely a second tier player in the bunch. Plus those uniforms. Where is Dominique?

Charlotte Bobcats

The Bobcats have some players. Not very good ones, but they have players. I like to kid the Bobcats. Felton will be above average this year. Knight is a nice pace-setter. Wallace does a lot of things on the court. Okafor is now being underrated. Finally, Sean May will have a surprising impact this season. Watch. They may actually crack 20 wins. I’m not sure why there’s a team in Charlotte, but at least they have nice uniforms…..uh….yeah.

Western Conference Preview:

SouthWest Division
San Antonio Spurs

The predictably boring ones are back to win a lot of games and threaten to win the rings. Does an added year help or hurt the Spurs? It should hurt the oldies like Finley and Van Exel. It should help the newbies like Tony Parker and Jackie Butler. But it is all about Duncan and Ginobili this year. All that matters is playoffs for this crew.

Dallas Mavericks

Dirk & Co. showed everyone they were for real when they beat the Spurs then fought the Heat (and the refs) tough. They are officially in the upper echelon of NBA teams that only care about the playoffs. Interesting to see if Devin Harris becomes a better point guard or if Diop can develop a tolerable game at center. Dirk is the man, of that there is no doubt.

Houston Rockets

Even the slow, hindering coaching of Jeff Van Gundy should not be able to derail Yao and McGrady from getting to the playoffs. The Rockets style allows for little flexibility but backups like Bonzi Wells will be crucial as McGrady’s frailty will again be an issue; he needs to toughen up and mature. A brutal Western Conference will keep Houston from achieving too much, as will the stuck-in-1994 coaching of Van Gundy.

New Orleans/OKC Hornets

Last year’s Cinderella all of a sudden have hefty expectations with the additions of Peja and Tyson Chandler. Of course, Peja is on a major downtrend in his career and Chandler can’t earn himself playing time while both have yet to prove they will change a team’s fortune. The Hornets will rely on youngsters Chris Paul and David West, as they should. Paul is a flat out fucking stud who makes Atlanta residents cry daily.

Memphis Grizzlies

No Pau, no playoffs. The overachieving Grizzlies have the patchwork but not the hardcore talent to overcome losing Pau. Average-at-best tweeners like rookie Rudy Gay and Hakim Warrick offer very little while big men such as Swift play their typical roles. Sadly, if they were in the East, they would contend for the playoffs, not out West this year. Basically, this is one team too many in the NBA.

Northwest Division
Utah Jazz

The name is Sloan, Jerry Sloan. And unless a rash of injuries hits (which is very possible given the past), the Jazz should push 50 wins this year. Their starting 5 is solid with some great versatility courtesy of AK-47. Deron Williams should get better, but as long as he is good enough to pass, that should be good enough. The range of Mehmet Okhur helps them a ton.

Denver Nuggets

Carmelo changed minds with his play this summer. He is going to look to tear shit up this year. Won’t help is the constant breaking down of his big 3: K-Mart, Camby and Nene. Also, JR Smith being a reliable shooting guard borders on comic relief. But the Nuggets and Karl know how to win so they’ll be OK.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Enough of the “poor Kevin Garnett” talk. The T-Wolves won’t make the playoffs, again, tough luck. Mike James will help fill the rim and dish out some assists but besides a sometimes sketchy Ricky Davis, this team is too thin. When you actually rely on people like Eddie Griffin you know you are hurting. PS- never carpool with Griffin unless you like re-enacting Silence of the Lambs prison scene.

Seattle Supersonics

The team is destined for Oklahoma so the new owners basically let everything stay in place: shitty coach, mediocre unit, and yet another center prospect drafted. The Sonics defy reality and try again to find a seven-footer to save them at the expense of getting true talent. The ghost of Jack Sikma haunts them, clearly. A lot of Ray Allen, a little of Rashard Lewis and little else. I’d at least go get Shawn Kemp for giggles.

Portland Trailblazers

They almost fully blew the team up. Except for their two most troublesome (and talented) players, Randolph and Miles. Like the Sonics, they somehow feel 3 seven-footers is the key to the future, indicating the Pacific Northwest might as well be in China as the rest of the NBA goes small. Rookie Roy is the hot talk of the town. Sure, anyone remember a kid named Martell Webster who had the same tag last year? The forgiving Portland fans better forgive some more.

Pacific Divison
Phoenix Suns

God bless them. They were a fresh of breath air and now they are helping to change the NBA with their style of play. Of course, few can pull it off like Nash and Marion and Diaw, and it makes those players better than they typically would be. Amare does not look fully repaired; he should be shelved until All-Star break.

Los Angeles Clippers

The suddenly respected and solid Clips rise up the ranks some more this year. Brand is the best power forward in the league, Kaman holds his own, and the rest of the cast can do their thing. The veteran swagger of Mobley and Cassell worked last year, now let’s see if guys like Livingston can run with it.

Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe has entered the next stratosphere. Now he just has to learn how to make a team win more, which looks to be too hard a task so far for his insecure style. With no new talent coming in and seemingly none developed (what, you thought Kwame Brown or Andrew Bynum could play basketball?- ha!) the Lakers will bank on getting better simply by playing more together. I doubt Kobe can stop being a dick.

Sacramento Kings

Oh, the poor Kings and their rabid fans have yet to recover from the 2002 playoffs series loss vs. the Lakers. This year, the downward slide continues as overbearing new coach Musselman replaces an experienced and proven winner in Rick Adleman. Perhaps ownership felt a new coach would turn things around but clearly this is a semi-OK team losing ground to the competition in terms of talent.

Golden State Warriors

At least Oakland should have some fun this year with Don Nelson back in charge. Lord knows the Warriors can’t win ballgames with this squad so you might as well play with a smile. The backcourt of Baron Davis and J-Rich have, between them, never figured out how to win. Mike Dunleavy, meanwhile, can only hope his coach never figures he can’t play. We can only hope they aim to score 110 points a night.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Kill the Old Dog and a Bitch Takes Over

I waited to post this for a little while, to let the Larry Brown firing settle in. Mr. West sent me the following tidbit (title included) a week ago, but with the draft completed and the stench of Isiah Thomas' rancorous odor permeating the Garden once again, it seems time to throw bows. Check it out...

Mr. West - Larry Brown is gone. Finally. The man played a magnificent con game for a year and will get PAID in full. He will make Rakim fully appreciate the meaning of the phrase. And so, as every Knick fan feared, in steps Isiah Thomas. I’d ask the lord to help us but even Jesus hates Isiah Thomas. Go Nets.

Mr. East - Yup. Mr. West called it right in January. Larry Brown got paid and the Knicks are rudderless and dismal yet still. I'm not mad at the Stephon Marbury trade. I'm not even mad at the Eddy Curry trade, The #2 pick in the 2006 draft probably ain't worth more than a 7 footer with a good offensive game anyway. What I want to spit on James Dolan for is the circus that has accompanied the lesser moves that have been made almost without consideration for the consequences. The Cheney firing was an embarassment. They treated him like a schmuck. The Lenny Wilkins hiring made no sense. His firing was equally bizarre. Herb Williams got strung out while Larry Brown, Dolan, and Isiah jerked each other off.

Why Quentin Richardson? Why Steve Francis? Why Jerome James? Why Jalen Rose?

What plan could they possibly have been following that told them these were the right moves to make? The sexual harassment. The tough Chicago poor kid from the ghetto crap that Isiah pulls everytime someone criticizes him for fucking everything up. Yeah, Zeke. That'll solve all the problems, and erase all the fucked up decisions you've made since the CBA debacle. Talk tough. Go ghetto. It'll all go away and you'll wake up dressed in satin robes wearing a laurel wreath. Fuck you.

At least the Knick fans are mobilized. The draft was the 1st big volley in an onslaught of verbal abuse that Zeke should take from the bench this year. The Garden is gonna rock with "Fire Isiah", and even better, we should hear the wonderful cries of "Sell the Knicks" on Dolan's own Cablevision broadcasts almost nightly. That is, unless they decide to black out the games or replace the crowd sound with Dolan's crappy blues riffs.

Go Knick fans!!! Burn down Babylon!!!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Blazing Fire

Heat Win NBA Finals in 6

Mr. West - As we both predicted (sorry, but you know we had to say that to stroke our own egos), the Miami Heat took the NBA crown in 6 games. In fact, Mr. West had them winning it all back in our season forecast. And, sorry Mr. East, but your prediction of the Pacers over the Rockets was [insert Bob Ueker voice here] JUST a bit outside.

The attention placed upon the refs and NBA positioning crated by Mark Cuban and the Mavs is a little bit of overkill in my opinion. But it is hard to totally discount the impact of very subjective calls at key points in the two big games. Still, Wade is sick. He was Jordan sick.

The most important element of the Heat win? Pat Riley, give him some real credit, somehow got that whole team of veteran egomaniacs to bow at the altar of Dwyane Wade. If you told me 3 years ago that Gary Payton, Shaq, Antoine Walker, Alonzo Mourning, and Jason Williams all would defer to a youngster like Wade so easily, I would have thought you to be nuts. Yet Riley did it. Maybe the players all become selfless and angels on their own … but I fucking doubt it. The talent that is Wade plus the power that is Riley = egos in check, trophy in hand.

Mr. East - Thanks for reminding me of my pre-season prediction. Pacers over the Rockets? Ugh. I've been picking the Pacers to win it every year for the last 5 or 6 years, I think. I should know better by now. Jermaine O'Neal is just a walking pile of broken parts. Tinsley is a turnover machine made of paper mache. Stephen Jackson is a crank who can't (or won't) play defense. I don't care about his steals numbers. Ron Artest, in my defense, was in Sacramento by season's end, and I think they stole him. Peja Stojakovic is on the downward swing of a nice career. He will record career lows next year for sure. The Rockets lost out on McGrady's back and Ming's foot. The rest of the "supporting cast" couldn't support my nutsack.

Enough about my horrible predictions. I'd like to pat myself on the back for at least getting the Finals right. Even 1 billion monkeys typing on 1 billion typewriters will eventually write something interesting.

Wade was better than I could have imagined. He quickly made himself the best player in the NBA until someone takes that crown from him. LeBron gets a lot of press, partly because of how good he is at such a young age, but Wade is there right now. He's the kind of player that carries a team to a title. He dragged Shaq there this year. Nowitzki did his best, but he couldn't keep up the pace over 6 games. That's what it takes to enter the pantheon of greats. 12-21 games of excellence. Dirk was close but Wade was better.

The thing I can't get over is that Jason Williams and Antoine Walker now are NBA Champions. How is that possible. Isn't that one of the signs of the Apocalypse? Payton and Mourning got theirs, so I guess it balances out in the end, but the Antoine Walker shimmy is now forever etched in stone as the move of a champion. Puke.

Next year I'm picking the Knicks to win it all.....

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

So Mr. East all of a sudden makes like Jimmy the Greek in picking none of the Finals teams right while Mr. West is all of a sudden off to Vegas with his Heat-Mavs correct pick. So here's the Finals outlook:

PS- big plug to TrueHoop.com for downplaying the role of predictions and still almost picking all series right.

Mr. West: I just don't see how the Mavs can climb the Heat mountain. Without a doubt, Dallas is playing a tenacity and toughness even I thought they didn't really have. But they still flash too many signs of stupidity and casual play. Miami has their own share of periods of laziness but I think, like in the Pistons series, Riley is not letting that shit happen for very long. If Shaq hits 50% of his free throws in
a game, the Heat should win that game. The speed of Dallas may throw Miami off here and there but I don't see it happening over a seven game series.
Heat in 6.

Mr. East: Yeah, I crapped myself on the Conference Finals predictions, but that's over and done with. No sense in crying over spilled milk. Sonovabitch!! Sorry...On to my prediction.

There's only one thing I need to know about this series to make my prediction. Is Shaq in the Finals? Yes. Okay, Heat win. I should have known better with my Pistons' pick, but I really believed that Detroit was the better team. Idiot. Beyond taking the Heat strictly for Shaq, I have to say that Dwayne Wade is an otherworldly talent. He's the engine of the Heat squad, and you can almost forgive Riley for having Jason Williams and Antoine "Employee #Suck" Walker on the floor because of Wade's transcendant talent.

On the other side of things, Dirk Nowitzki is a monster. He may be the best player in the series for the way he's been dominating lately. Wade will be the better player in the long run, and Shaq is clearly the better player for his career, but Dirk is Mr. It right now. He should help his teammates rise to the challenge that the Heat present and steal a couple of games. Walker and Williams may play brilliantly in complimentary roles from time to time, but I believe their stink-o-rama styles will come out and keep the overmatched Dallas squad in it, with an outside shot at their 1st title. My money is on Shaq.
Heat in 6.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Conference Finals

OK, our predictions so far for the playoffs have been hit or miss.
Pistons won in 7 (Mr. West had them winning in 5 and Mr. East had them in 4)
Heat won in 5 (we both got that exactly right)
Mavs won in 7 (we both had the Spurs winning in 6)
Suns won in 7 (Mr. West nailed this one while Mr. East had Clippers in 7)

Short thoughts on Round 2 of the playoffs:
- Damn, Dirk and the Mavs looked hard! They had some typical mental lapses but they balled like rough stars for the most part.

- Vince Carter does not have that finishing, tough edge needed to win playoff games in the 4th quarter. His weak plays at the end cost the Nets.

- Dirk's drive to hoop for the old school 3-point play at the end of regulation in Game 7 ... sick!

- Dwayne Wade is a winner. He just has "it."

- LeBron has even more of "it." Sick.

- The Clippers got suckered like a JV squad by the Suns in Game 7. Outplayed and outcoached bad. Embarrassing seeing as how close they were to advancing.

- Erik Dampier is a massive goon-- the dude fouls every damn play. Why even bother to do it when you are so big and skilled?

- Jerry Stackhouse's showed clutch balls I didn't think he owned.

- It is good for the NBA, and basketball on the whole, to have the Mavs and Suns still alive.

- We want a Heat-Mavs final for some good games.

Predictions for the Conference Finals:

Mr. West
Detroit has home court, which is pretty big in this series. But Miami has a healthy Shaq and good-shooting bench play from 'Toine. I gotta go with Miami. LeBron exposed Detroit for not being as special as we all were meant to believe. The Pistons can still readily grind it out but that leaves opponents hanging around. I think Riley will bust balls and crack skulls for the first time in years if his players start acting like lazy morons.
Heat in 7

Mr. East
I like Detroit in this Series. You can see my comments in the previous prediction to see how I feel about their chances. I thought sweep last time, but they got pushed to 7 games by a clearly inferior team. Even LeBron, as good as he is, shouldn't have made that series close. The Heat have the best post player in the game on their team, which is usually my deciding factor, plus they have Dwayne Wade who is lightning in a bottle. I'm just not leaning that way. Think about it. The Heat won the last round thanks in large part to guys like Antoine Walker and Jason Williams. That will never happen in a billion years against Detroit.
Pistons in 6

Mr. West
The Mavs blew it against the Suns last year in the playoffs. Both teams have played some tough series. I just think that the Suns style will ultimately fail against a Mavs team that can mix it up too well these days. Dallas will play it light for 3 quarters then try to lock shit down hard. Dirk will get his but so will others. Look for Coach Johnson to do everything he can to slow Nash because that is the key.
Mavericks in 7

Mr. East
This is a hard one to figure. If I go by my "best post player" indicator in this series, I guess that means Dirk Nowitzki. No one on either roster really plays the post much. The thing is, the pieces on the Mavs don't make as much sense to me as the pieces on the Suns. Nash is better than anyone on the court, save Dirk. He's teamed with Marion, who is also better than anyone else out there, save Dirk. Finally, you have the surprise of the year in Boris Diaw, who makes a third Suns' player that is better than anyone on the court, save Dirk. Don't get me wrong. The Mavs beat the defending champions and have showed all year that they have arrived at championship level. I just don't think they will prevail in the end. It will be close, but I bet Erick Dampier's sorry ass blows a game somewhere down the road that will haunt the Mavericks.
Suns in 6

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


In the wake of my last rant, I had an idea. I'd like any and all Knick fans in attendance at the Garden to start the chant, "Sell the team, sell the team, sell the team...."

It's become a popular technique for disgruntled fans everywhere. You may remember that fans in Detroit took to chanting "Fire Millen" at Lions games, Pistons games, Michigan State games, and even on the road. It's become something of a movement, and I think it behooves New Yorkers to use their skills of persuasion to campaign against James Dolan and the Isiah Thomas regime.

So, start it up. "Sell the Team".

Oh....I'd also like to add Karl Malone to the Knick front office to reprise his December 1991 elbowing to Isiah Thomas' noggin' that gave him 40 stitches. Anyone got that kind of pull?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I'm On Strike

I've had it with basketball. It's not the sport. It's not the diluted talent pool and extracurricular arena antics. I like to rant about those things, but in the end I'm a basketball fan and I'm willing to look past the faults of the David Stern NBA for the enjoyment the actual on court action brings me. I'm on strike for another reason altogether.

It's no surprise that I'm a Knick fan. I've written my fair share of editorials about the Knicks here at East versus West. Since the end of the Ewing era, the Knicks have spiralled downward every single year, until they have reached the current low point in the history of the franchise. Yes. This is THE LOWEST POINT IN THE HISTORY OF THE NEW YORK KNICKS. Think about it. They were the 2nd worst team in the NBA last year with the highest salary by far. The players mutineed against their coach and their owner and GM did nothing to remedy the problem. The owner has backed his useless and criminally negligent general manager to the point that he's untouchable. The same guy that ran the CBA into the ground is now running one of the proudest franchises in the American sports pantheon to the same sad end.

Now it appears as though the GM and owner are essentially siding with spoiled and overrated bling boys like Marbury and Francis over their nomadic coach. I'm not saying that Larry Brown did a good job last year, but he ranks well below Isiah, Marbury, and a handful of other people on the ladder of blame. If the guys listened to Brown and did what he asked of them, they'd have been better. Brown has a winning track record, even if he's like the runaway bride of the NBA. There was a time when players were subordinate to their coach. They were payed to play, and the coach was payed to coach. Now the players pout and act like little bitches if they don't get what they want. "Starbury" and Stevie "Franchise" are the poster children for this phenomenon. I hate both of them.

Now, the Knicks are reportedly buying out Brown to the tune of $40 million and presumably looking at Isiah in the coaching chair next season. Didn't this have to happen eventually? Isn't it what all the New York reporters have been asking Zeke about since he walked in the door? The new coach and his players deserve each other. Isiah traded what may turn out to be the #1 pick in the draft for Eddy Curry. Let's see him live up to that when he has to coach the bloated and streaky Curry. If he had taken over the team sooner, we may have seen him get the door that much sooner too. It's inevitable. He's going to fail miserably as coach, as he's failed miserably as GM, and as he's failed miserably in every aspect of life except playing point guard. If Dolan had a sack, he's have fired Isiah and brought in Kiki Vandeweghe to clean up this mess with a sensible 5 year plan.

So, I'm on strike. As good as the NBA playoffs have been on some nights, I'm not going to follow them, except to check the scores. Since my main beef is with the Knicks, I'm going to boycott them next season. I won't watch a single game. I will campaign for the firing of Isiah Thomas and the sale of the team. Until those two things happen, I am anti-Knick. Rather, I'm a Knick fan on strike. If you love something, you have to speak the truth about it. I support the franchise, just not the bums who own, operate, and play for it. I want my franchise back. Perhaps Gilbert Arenas can express my feelings best. Check the picture for my message to James Dolan, Isiah Thomas, and Stephon Marbury.

-Mr. East

Monday, May 08, 2006

NBA Playoff Predictions, Round 2

Mr. West
Oh, Damon Jones. Your 10 seconds of playing time will strictly be for garbage time, not miracle shots to win any of these games. Detroit is going to beat the shit out of Cleveland. The Piston frontline is so vastly superior to that of the Bullets that dudes like Sideshow Varejeo and Gooden will be reduced to meaningless bit players in loss after loss after loss. Sorry, LeBron, but you are going to get a lesson.
Pistons in 5.

Mr. East
LeBron James will one day be King. Not yet. He is so talented at such a young age that we forget that he can’t even buy a beer. There are those out there who believe in James, and think he has a puncher’s chance against the Pistons, but that team is just too good. There isn’t a single player outside of LeBron that would see minutes on the Pistons, and that should tell you enough. I expect the Pistons to sweep and go on to dominate everyone else as well. You’re looking at the new Bulls, without Michael. If they stay together, I think they can go to the Finals every season and win a good handful of titles.
Pistons in 4.

Mr. West
I hope the Nets win. I hope Vinsanity plays inspired ball like he did all year against the Heat. I hope Shaq sits with foul trouble. I hope Kidd finally finds his range from deep. Sigh ... I fear this will not happen. Despite the fact that Heat are prone to veteran lethargy and major lengths of mental blocks, I do not see how the Nets will challenge Miami for this series given Vince Carter's tendency to shrink in rough games. His flashes of brilliance will be matched play-for-play with his love for bad shots and 20-ft. fadeaways. Once Collins and Kristic get in foul trouble, the Nets are done. If there was any series for Jason Kidd to dominate, this is the one the Nets need the most.
Heat in 5.

Mr. East
The Nets are good. The main reason the Nets are good is because they have Jason Kidd. In our season preview, Mr. West and I heaped praise on Kidd and he’s lived up to it again. Vince is also good. He’s not Kidd good, but he’s better than most of the other guys at his position in the league. Richard Jefferson is good. He’s not Vince good, but he’s better than most of the guys at his position in the league. No one else is good.
Heat in 5.

Mr. West
Dallas has gotten better and better to create a playoff-winning
basketball team. Sure, it is not fair for them to face San Antonio in the second round but it had to be done sooner or later. But the Mavs are not ready to topple the Spurs.
Tim Duncan should destroy the Dallas big men because goofballs like Dampier are meat on a stick to him while smaller dudes on Dallas play small. Truly, if Avery Johnson had balls, he should have Dirk guarding Duncan. Of course, dirty cheapskate Bruce Bowen will be on Dirk-- and Dirk (and Dallas) will only thrive if he can somehow use footwork to beat him off the dribble. The Spurs have the savvy and the Mavs don't.
Spurs in 6.

Mr. East
This is a tough series to pick. Dallas is not the soft bunch of finesse guys they used to be and I think they have a formula to beat the Spurs. Nowitzki’s mutant powers make him potentially the best player in the series, apologies to Tim Duncan, and they may be ready to take the next step. Avery Johnson was a great coach on the floor as a player and it’s translated to the bench. All that said, the Spurs have been there. Duncan is still one of the premier big men in the game, although he didn’t dominate this year as much as in years past. I actually have no evidence to support that, so I might be guilty of talking out my ass, but it sure seems that way. None of that matters though, because the other guys on the Spurs are better than the other guys on the Mavs and that’s what wins.
Spurs in 6

Mr. West
You'd think the Suns were primed for a Clipper beating: they just went the distance with the Lakers, their "big men" needed to cover Brand and Kaman re really just tall guards, and the Clippers are the darkhorse the critics love. Sorry, I'm not buying it. Having seen the regular season matchups between these teams, the fact is that the Suns small-ball effectively removes Kaman from the court and renders Brand as an outcast on the court. The Suns are basically going to dangle bloody meat in front of Cassell, Mobley, Maggette and Radmonovic: "look, boys, we'll let you run, we'll let you shoot ... go ahead, you know you want to ..." I like Sammy Cassell but he will be so tempted to get up and down and jack shots that Brand and Kaman (the true Clippers strengths) will be an afterthought. This series should be fun but disciplined ball won't be found here.
Suns in 7.

Mr. East
I’d like to go with Mr. West’s analysis on this one because I think the Suns are the better team. I think Marion and Nash are the best two players on the floor, even considering the outstanding Elton Brand, and they have one of the other members of the top 5 players in the series in Boris Diaw. Tough to pick the Clips, to me. I’m going to. This is the playoffs, and while the Suns showed they have lasting power against tall odds and Kobe Bryant, it’s just a smokescreen to celebrate that comeback without acknowledging that the Lakers are a middle of the road ballclub. Yes, they had a big run at the end of the year to turn their record from .500 to a playoff qualifier, but they still start Kwame Brown, Smush Parker, and Luke Walton. The Suns should have won that series in 5. The Clips have the best post player in the series and that’s how I pick my playoff series when it’s close. It’s not clear cut here so I go with Brand. He’s ready to follow The Alien and WWE’s Kamanator into the Conference Finals….
Clippers in 6

Monday, April 17, 2006

Larry Brown, Insured Chickenshit

The master exit strategy of Larry Brown has already started. As we hyped it here on Jan 19th, Brown is starting to use the angle of "poor health" to quit the Knicks and take the money as he rides into the sunset.

In perhaps the only wise move they made all year, supposedly the Knicks have an insurance policy in place should Brown get too sick. Not sure what pixie dust the insurance carrier was inhaling to ever inspire issuing that policy but any insurance adjuster may very well investigate Brown's medical records when all is said and done with millions on the line-- this could get ugly.

Larry Brown missing the recent Knicks games due to health issues is classic acting which he clearly picked up from his 5-year old kid: "oh, daddy, I can’t eat anymore spinach ... my tummy hurts!" He used to get out of Detroit last year. This genius approach ensures that the press and the Knicks as an organization keep criticism at bay because, hey, who the hell is going to fault a guy for falling ill?

But perhaps the one dude who really is sick is Stephon Marbury. Either Starbury is a cruel, sarcastic asshole or he is so stupid that he deserves all the criticism heaped upon him with this comment made two days ago: "We need him right now, we've been playing really good basketball." Uh, Steph, your squad is about to break the record for most losses ever by a Knicks squad. Lay off the pipe at least 30 minutes before talking to the press, OK, my man?

Did anyone ever think that hiring a 65-year old dude is akin to digging up a grave in the modern NBA? Medicare kicks in at 65. Pearl Harbor was 65 years ago. These dudes were balling 65 years ago but don’t sleep on the Roff High School Oklahoma 1941 squad.

Finally, was there any doubt Brown was going to avoid the game in Detroit yesterday? He may actually have been sick to the stomach because can you imagine going back to Detroit with the worst record in the league to face a team with the best record in the league? The term is called "chickenshit."

Mr. West

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

For the Nerds: 2005-2006 NBA Fantasy Review

OK, it's true, I admit it: I play fantasy sports. Well, "play" is a strong term really, more like "participate in." Anyhoo, for those of you who play in a 12-category league or somewhat serious league, here is a review for you ...

Stud of the Year: Shawn Marion

Bust of the Year: Tracy McGrady

Most Underrated: Mike James

Surprise Sleeper: Boris Diaw

Top Rookie: Chris Paul

Still Better Than You Think Team: Antawn Jamison, Paul Pierce, Lamar Odom, Brevin Knight

Still Overrated Team: Baron Davis, Dwight Gooden, Wally Szczerbiak, Rip Hamilton

And the most important section for you readers ...

Players who will make the biggest leaps next season (of course, trades, injuries and free agency really shape offseason changes for players):
Chris Wilcox, Andrew Bogut, Nenad Krstic, Bonzi Wells, Danny Granger, Chris Kaman

Mr. West

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sweet Sixteen 2006: Science Does Not Lie

Gamblers take note!! Using the ESPN final poll of 2006 (pre-tourney), 9 of the top 10 teams are in the Sweet Sixteen. But only 13 of the top 25 teams are still alive. What does this mean? Top teams are, undoubtedly, the best teams while "good" teams are overrated, and the mid-major and minor conference teams are better than thought.

But let's go a step further.

American sports fans are getting both a little smarter and more humble these days. Recent Olympics and the World Baseball Classic have provided proof that if teams are given equal footing, the supposed "top" teams are not as great as originally thought. But sports need seeds because a round-robin format is impossible to use in most sports tournaments.

But to what extent is March Madness a self-fulfilling prophecy dominated by the major collegiate programs? Critics have rightfully argued that pre-rankings make no sense in sports since the pollsters already have set in their heads who is good and who is bad. But when it comes to the Tourney, why all of a sudden do the rankings mean so little? Isn't that what everyone so worked so hard for all season? Can hard numbers be used to show how the seeds for March Madness are flawed? Yes, we all know Tennessee sucked and did not earn a #2 seed but they were lucky to even lose in Round 2. But what about teams like UCLA? Would they last long if not given a #2 seed? Doubtful.

It really is not worth bitching and moaning about seeds when it comes to the NCAA Tourney because, despite strong opinions and some rational thought, it is a completely subjective ranking system. The selection process seems fair enough and everyone has their own take on who deserved a spot and who didn't. Still, one huge question looms: "why not just use the final poll rankings to determine who gets the seeds? What are the pools for if they are not used in the major event that determines the NCAA champion?" Let's see what happens when we apply a little hard science to the seeds and how they have fared so far in 2006.

Using the final 2006 rankings from the USA Today/ESPN poll (pre-Tourney)[note- #26-#42 based on votes received, in order], we give you thefollowing ...

Number on the left is the final poll ranking.
Number on the right is the seed each team received.
* Indicate teams that received an oddly high seed
+ Indicate teams that received an oddly low seed
X Indicate teams that are out of the tourney

Of the final Top 42 teams according to the polls:

6 teams (*) received high seeds that they did not earn. All of these overrated teams except Wichita State are out of the tourney. The losses indicate that, despite getting easier draws as high seeds, these teams'final rankings rather than their seeds showed that they were not very good after all. 15 teams (+) received lower seeds than they deserved. 3 of these teams are in the Sweet Sixteen. The underrated teams who were ranked in the top 25 have gone a combined 7-1.

Fact: 11 of the teams ranked #25-#40 got a lower seed than their ranking deserved. Almost all of these teams are from minor conferences (UAB, Bucknell, UNCW, Pacific, Murray State, etc.). If one compares final ranking to seed rankings, then GW and Pacific got fucked the hardest: GW should have earned a 3-4 seed based on final rankings but instead got an 8 seed; Pacific, despite being ranked #34 in the country in the polls, it earned a 13 seed which is the equivalent of being ranked 52nd in the

So the question that must be asked is: if the teams who unfairly (when based solely on final poll rankings) got seeds 9 or lower in the 2006 Tourney instead received fair seeds, would they be winning more? Yes-the numbers indicate that they would be getting more wins.

1. Duke (1 seed)
2. Connecticut (1 seed)
3. Memphis (1 seed)
4. Villanova (1 seed)

+5. Gonzaga (3 seed)
X 6. Ohio St. (2 seed)
+ 7. Boston Coll. (4 seed)
8. UCLA (2 seed)

9. Texas (2 seed)
10. Florida (3 seed)
X + 11. Geo. Washington (8 seed)
X 12. North Carolina (3 seed)

X 13. Kansas (4 seed)
X 14. Illinois (4 seed)
X * 15. Iowa (3 seed)
X 16. Pittsburgh (5 seed)

17. Washington (5 seed)
18. LSU (4 seed)
X * 19. Tennessee (2 seed)
X 20. Oklahoma (6 seed)

X 21. Nevada (5 seed)
X * 22. Syracuse (5 seed)
23. West Virginia (6 seed)
+ 24. Georgetown (7 seed)

X + 25. UAB (9 seed)
X + 26. Bucknell (9 seed)
X + 27. N.C. State (10 seed)
X * 28. Michigan St. (6 seed)

X 29.California (7 seed)
X + 30. N.C. Wilmington (9 seed)
X + 31. San Diego St. (11 seed)
X + 32. Southern Ill. (11 seed)

X * 33. Marquette (7 seed)
X + 34. Pacific (13 seed)
* 35. Wichita St. (7 seed)
X 36. Arkansas (8 seed)

X + 37. Kent St. (12 seed)
X + 38. Murray St. (14 seed)
X + 39. Texas A&M (12 seed)
X + 40. South Alabama (14 seed)

X 41. Alabama (10 seed)
X * 42. Indiana (6 seed)

[Mr. East note: The Final Four this year now features George Mason(11 seed), Florida(3), LSU(4), and UCLA(2). Would UCLA have made it if not for the high seed? We'll never know, but they're here aren't they? George Mason is a great story as only 2 other teams seeded 9th or lower have ever made the Final Four. Fuel for Mr. West's argument?]

Monday, March 20, 2006

Slam-ela Anderson

Yup. It happened. Candace Parker of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols threw down, not one, but two dunks in an NCAA Tournament game against Army. Oh shit!

Parker has been known to dunk for some time, and people have been waiting for this moment with great anticipation. A woman dunking in an actual basketball game, against human players, with arms and legs, is like Kobe's 81 point game. People lose their minds and rub their eyes and talk about it all week at the water cooler. Hell, I'm actually blogging about women's basketball today. That ought to tell you something.

I don't mind women's basketball as much as a lot of other guys. I don't expect to see the same kind of explosive athletic ability when I watch, and I can enjoy the team concept. I'm not saying that I could actually follow a team for an entire season, or spend a Saturday afternoon in front of the TV glued to the WNBA. Shudder. It takes cheerleaders dunking off trampolines to get most guys to pay attention to women and hoops at the same time.

But, there it is. The dunks that have us all talking. The first one was a facial by women's standards, as there was actually a defender involved in the play. The second dunk was in traffic too, but it was weak. Just because the person heading above the rim doesn't have a penis, it doesn't mean I have to think it's a good dunk.

The reason this is such a big deal is that only 3 women before her had actually dunked in a game. We've basically had one dunk per decade in women's hoops, so it's kind of like actually getting a decent Super Bowl in terms of frequency. Let's take a look at the pioneers of the Ladies Dunk.

1. 6'7" Georgeann Wells of the University of West Virginia Lady Mountaineers made history in December of 1984 by throwing down a dunk in competition. As the story goes, the game was played in Elkin, West Virginia's National Guard Armory during the Mountaineer Christmas Classic against Davis & Elkins College. Thrilling. She did it again once that season.

2. Charlotte Smith of the University of North Carolina, who is now an assistant coach at her alma mater pulled off the feat 10 years later. In 1994, Charlotte pulled off the "girl dunk" and wowed America all over again. She will always be remembered for her miracle shot against Lousiana Tech in the 1994 NCAA Tournament to give her team the victory 60-59. That is far more impressive to me, but whatever floats your boat.

3. July 30th, 2002. Lisa Leslie of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks finally gets her dunk. For years people talked about Leslie's chance to throw down in a professional game, and she gave her fans something to talk about. Leslie scored 101 points in the first half of a high school game, and had been a superstar in the women's basketball world for a very long time before her dunk. The dunk capped things off for her, and she went on to lead the Sparks to a second consecutive championship that year as well.

4. Michelle Snow, 6'5" Center for the Tennessee Lady Vols threw down a sick dunk in the Maui Invitational in 2004. She stole the ball, ran the break, and woofed a dunk with legs dangling underneath her. The picture says it all. That's a dunk! None of this lay it over the rim, George Mikan business. Michelle went on to dunk 2 more times in her collegiate career, and sparked the serious debate about whether it's good for the game or not. Gino Auriemma and John Wooden both chimed in to say they didn't like it. Waaaaaaaaah!!! Waaaaaaaaah!! Which is better, obsolete sport or 10 year old girls everywhere in the world challenging themselves to be stronger, faster, and better? Thank you.

That brings us to Candace Parker. The debate is going to start again, and you'll hear plenty about how the women's game isn't about dunking. Blah. Blah. Blah. It's not like you're going to see players on every team suddenly jump out of the gym like David Thompson, just because the taboo is broken or something. Eventually, I expect to see more players able to do what Candace Parker did against Army, but it's not the mens game and you're not likely to see any women busting out the 1988 Dominique Wilkins moves anytime soon, even if you see a women's player actually named Dominique.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Ooooh, Does Baby Want a Bottle?

Mr. West Editorial

The NBA has a major fucking problem on its hands. And this problem is reflective of many issues the league, and the sport of basketball on the whole, faces. THERE IS ZERO RESPECT SHOWN TO REFS.

Maybe the USA's pathetic outing in recent hoops tourneys tells you something. NBA players are so used to NBA-style calls and the inevitable bitching about the calls, that they have no idea how tohandle true, pure basketball refereeing. In the Olympics and international tourneys, the refs are from all across the world-- and they interpret rules literally. And the poor dumb Americans have yet to adjust.

Anyone else remember Tim Duncan crying about refs for the first time in his life, Iverson getting called for traveling, and "stars" like Pierce and Marion expecting NBA-like fouls to go there way against supposed scrubs from Europe? Wake up, you morons, it's called fair refs calling the game as it was intended.

I literally cannot watch NBA games anymore because of the bitching from players on calls. Every call. Every goddamn call!! Players now dispute, contest, plead, scowl, cry and yell over every single foul called. Blatant hacks, obvious infractions, and clear arm swipes are constantly being subjected to players' screaming their innocence for the whole world to see.

Of course, we all know no one fouls in the NBA, right?

The hostility shown to refs from literally everyone on the court (players, coaches, any number of the 18 assistant coaches) for the most basic calls is unbelievable. No other league has these issues. Why? They actually have rules and protocol about disputing calls. MLB saved major time and respect when it fully banned players from disputing balls and strikes-- you argue the call, you get tossed. Period. And the rule has worked perfectly; arguments are minimal, play goes on, and,(surprise!) the quality of calls has remained the same.

If the current disrespect and challenge of ref authority, even on basic judgment calls, continues in the NBA, some player is going to attack a ref. The Ref Union knows it. All players have been shown that challenging NBA refs is not just acceptable, it is welcomed. Pardon the deep analysis, but the attitudes and approach of modern NBA players almost insists that they complain about calls or else they are viewed as weak, subservient, and a bitch/punk by themselves and their fellow players. It is an ego thing that has morphed into a self-image thing which now, as any sociologist will tell you, a very much real social code that almost must be honored.

Today's NBA players have almost all grown up in the 90's in terms of their basketball playing. The behavior of star players on TV, their AAU coaches, college coaches, etc. has been one that has perpetuated the challenging of the refs' authority. Coaches like Tom Izzo and John Calipari are a disgrace to respect: they flail, bitch, scream, and fight with the refs all game long. And I'm sure this has no impact on players whatsoever! Even old school coaches like Chaney and Bobby Knight have gotten worse over the years, swept up in violent acts against players while spitting venom at authority figures. High schools are now having to set strict rules about when, where, and who can do what from the bench at games now.

Thanks to the NBA, it is near impossible to watch a college game without kids bitching on every call. Add high school to the mix now, too. Players somehow actually feel the refs pain them more than their own stupidity or skills.

The NBA needs to institute a hard and fast rule. It is a simple one that can be done overnight: no players dispute fouls. Only coaches may dispute fouls, and that may only be done in such a way that does not require the ref to stop the flow of the game. Now, NBA players demand to have some back-and-forth with refs, and the refs, to their credit, like to explain things so the player understands. Therefore, only team captains may even talk to the refs about calls or problems they may have- not to dispute but to get the explanation. Anyone arguing calls gets a T. This will shut up the bitches something fierce.

Maybe the USA's pathetic outing in recent hoops tourneys tells you something.

(Mr East Note: My favorite moment of referee justice was when Rasheed Wallace was ejected from the McDonalds All America game for blowing a gasket after fouling out. I wish I could find a photo.....)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Who is Jason McElwain? How 'bout if I told you he is a high school basketball player from Rochester, NY who just scored 20 points in the final 4 minutes of his team's last home game. He made 6 threes and was carried off on his schoolmates shoulders. Is he headed to Duke? UNC? Wake? UCLA?

How 'bout if I told you he is the team manager. You're thinking NAIA, Scottie Pippen style right? He'll go to a Division 1A school next year or junior college and end up at Cincinnati or Syracuse, right?

How 'bout if I told you the guy is autistic?

No....I'm serious. Check out this story and tell me there is no God. This is the kind of human drama that only sports can bring us, and aside from the cynical rants that I love so much, I follow this maddening pursuit because things like this happen Way ta go kid!

Mr. East (aka Billy Batson)

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Up, Up to the Sky

If every NBA player had a web site like this I might start to like them all just a little bit more. Ironically, Kenny Skywalker seems to be one down-to-earth guy. He might be half-retarded and in the closet, but a guy who has earned my respect with the slice of Internet magic.

Mr. West

Lost Cause

Mr. East editorial

Back so soon with a Knick commentary? Yeah. Sadly.....yeah.

I hadn't intended to write so much about the Knicks at East versus West, but they have turned into the most intriguing disaster since Katrina, and it isn't getting better anytime soon. I mean ANYTIME. Decades.

Why the extra-adrenaline-induced burst of pessimism? Well, it's become so obvious that the players don't care that I don't expect any of them to take the season seriously this year, next year, or anytime for the rest of their Knick lives. Evidence?

1. They've lost 20 of 22.

This just doesn't happen in the NBA to teams with former All-Stars. It's not like Marbury and Francis have lost limbs. It's not like they have had microfracture knee surgery. On sheer talent alone on of those guys should have gone off for a 40 point night and single-handedly won ONE game. Even the worst teams win a fluke. I think the saying goes...every dog has his day.

2. They have never shown any guts.

When you think of guts you think of guys like Iverson, Jordan, Stockton, Payton, Kidd, Duncan. You don't even have to look that high up on the ladder of NBA greats. Try Oakley, Starks, Terry Porter, Vinnie Johnson...hell...Shane Battier, even.

On a team in turmoil the only way to settle the ship is to get floorburn. A couple of guys have to will victory or suffer death. It's as simple as adopting the warrior mentality. We are not going to f&%ing lose as long as I can walk. If one guy does it, the rest of the team is embarassed not to. When two guys do it you start to compete. When three or more do it, you win. Damn simple. No guts.

3. No leadership either.

Stephon Marbury's idea of leadership is cursing out his teammates, questioning their heart, and then coming to practice late. He's a terrible leader. Francis is no better. The report coming out of the press says that a fan heckled Francis and asked him where he was going next. He said, "The bank." which on the surface is a clever-ass line, but hardly the kind of thing a mature ballplayer would say. The malcontent label fits. Jalen Rose has always had leadership potential, but he's far from being the man on this team and his voice will only go so far. Eddy Curry? No comment. Channing Frye? Maybe in a few years when the veterans are either out the door or broken down. Teams with no leadership have cashed it in before they even start the season.

4. Chicken McNuggets an hour before gametime.

It sounds like a joke. It sounds a lot like Rickey Henderson playing cards in the Mets' clubhouse. Actually the Knicks are a lot like the high-priced 1993 Vince Coleman Mets, save a firecracker or two. What's more, apparently I'm not the only one to make this analogy.Two unnamed Knicks were eating greasy-ass Mickey-D's before a game. Strictly unprofessional. Top athletes, not named Babe Ruth, regard their bodies with more respect than that. Before a game you need to be focused mentally and physically and you can't do that when you have a stomach full of toxic waste churning your Gatorade into battery acid. Idiots.

5. The Coach has lost his players.

Does it seem like anyone is listening? He shits on the players in the papers and then expects them to kiss his ass for the 13 minutes of playing time they get. After a missed shot and a turnover your night is through. If coach would settle on a 7 man rotation and stick with it, the law would be layed down, a few guys would re-focus and start playing, and you'd limit the malcontents to a handful of has beens. I suggest:

plus: Lee and Crawford

Out of the mix are Q.Rich, Woods, Taylor, M.Rose, Nate, Jerome James

Live or die with it. Let them run. They're losing anyway. Let them form a bit of cohesion as a unit. Let the young guys get in the mix. What's the worst thing that could happen? You're giving your lottery pick to the Bulls anyway, right?

Where's this kind of fight when you need it?

Mr. East