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

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Eighth Wonder

Here at East versus West, we've been thinking. What would it mean to the game if some freak of nature were to suddenly spring on the scene and dramatically alter our understanding of basketball dynamics. That freak of nature: The Eight-Foot Man. Enjoy.
(Mr. West)

Get ready. He is coming. The Eight-Foot Man.

Eight feet of human flesh and bone. That puts a man's head just below the twine under the rim. It means an extended hand upward clears therim by about, oh, 4". Standing still, this man can reach up and bend his wrist at the rim without jumping.

I guarantee that in our lifetime, in 25 years, we will see an 8-footer play hoops. It will mildly alter the game of NBA basketball. And in 40 years a decent 8-footer will actually be good enough to drastically change the rules of the game.

Speaking strictly scientifically, based on the recent rate of growth of humans accelerated by new diets, drugs, and selective genetics, it is inevitable that the 8-foot baller is on the horizon. Will he be a genetic freak made in a lab? No. But he will emerge from some mysterious land (Africa, China?) to ride the pine at some D-I school. Then he will be followed by a few more until one lands in the NBA. He will suck. Yes, he will suck dozens upon dozens of eggs. But that gangly giraffe motherfucker will be getting paid while you and I mock his uncoordinated gait.

I envision the 8-footer to be the fans' hero-the scrub at the end of the bench who gets Darkoesque love when he makes a hoop in garbage time. Highlight material for the wisecracking ESPN SportsCenter guys. He will be a tall Yinka Dare. Shit, a tall Manut Bol or Gheorghe Muresan for that matter. And while little guards and athletic forwards will dominate the game thereby rendering our colossal goofball useless, that tall man upon men will start to change the game.

Yao ain't shit. Shawn Bradley wasn't shit. Muresan was funny but he was shit, too. Other players who are shorter are infinitely better and more fun to watch. And the NBA game has all but phased out low post play. Hell, without Shaq I am not sure the center position would even still exist. Does anyone like to be a center? No. Does anyone even respect a center anymore? No. So once Shaq dies (yes, the Big Diesel is soon gonna need a Big Transplant) the 8-footer can do his thing. No, he will not dribble and shoot 3's. But his shot blocking in the paint will be OK enough to make an impact.

But watch...the first few tall dorks will be horrible. Until the real Man shows up. Ready to play. Ready to force rims to be 11'. Ready to make 3 seconds illegal on defending centers. Watch.
(Mr. East)

Mr. West must have missed it, but we have already seen the coming of the 8-Foot Player. I admit that I had never heard of Ali Nashnush Suleiman until I began to research this piece. I still have been unable to find a photo of this hideous freak from Libya, but I was able to discern that he was a Libyan who played for his national team in the early 1960s. I don't toss around the word freak lightly in this case with no photo evidence to back me up. I can draw a fairly solid conclusion about this hulking lummox by his entry in the IMDB actors listings for Fellini's Satyricon. Nuff said.

Obviously, Ali Nashnush bore no resemblence to Steve Nash(nush) because his basketball career has gone largely undocumented. This is not the case for the current "World's Tallest Basketball Player", Kosen Sultan of Turkey(at right). This 2.42 meter behemoth belongs to the Turkish Basketball Club, Galatasaray from Istanbul...as I translate meters to feet, I come up with 8-foot one-half inch. According to this french article, he is from a small village of 20 homes on the border of Turkey and Iraq, and he can dunk without jumping. No one in his family is more than about 6 feet tall. He's 22 years old and doctors say he will max out at around 8 feet, 2 inches, and change. He has been receiving some surgeries that will allow him to play basketball and move more freely, but never for more than 15 minutes a game. It will be interesting to see if he can do anything on the court other than look ridiculous for those 15 minutes.

The pituitary condition "gigantism" seems to be the main contributor to unusually large humans, and in particular to the overgrown benchwarmers that have occasionally captivated the attention of the public. Out of control hormones have produced more than one basketball player in recent years. Guys like Manute Bol and Gheorghe Muresan come to mind immediately when we think of this phenomenon, but neither of those players could physically compete on a nightly basis.

Ralph Sampson was a pre-cursor to skilled big men like Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki but he, too, was unable to escape the debilitating knee problems that come with such gigantic proportions. Yao Ming is the reigning NBA hulk, and as far as centers go represents an evolution of sorts that has brought the idea of "super-sized" players into the realm of realistic discussion instead of being simple shot-blocking curiosities. So, is it so far fetched that Mr. West would imagine a guy playing in the NBA at 8-feet tall? Not at all. In 40 years will we see a skilled 8-footer that changes the game? Maybe. What would that be like?

Can you imagine the pre-draft hype? I think Hubie Brown's head would explode! The teams waiting for the ping pong ball would be required to hook up to a respirator for fear of hyperventilation. How many teams would tank the season to get at Mr. Big? Unfortunately for the Knicks, the 2050 1st round pick that they traded to the Las Vegas Kings is not lottery protected and GM Isiah Thomas III's team is sitting at 11-67 with a week to play.