Monday, October 15, 2007

Rockets Defense

The Jeff Van Gundy era in Houston is mercifully over, as it was once mercifully over in New York. JVG was a coach who put his stamp on every possession of every game, and harped on the combination of physical defense and a plodding, shot clock grinding offense that was truly horrible to watch. As a strategy, Van Gundy's system was not substantially better or worse than the other systems employed by NBA teams. It created winning situations season-in and season-out, but led to a number of bigger problems around his teams. Players got banged up on both ends of the floor and had a very difficult time enduring the marathon 82 games of the current NBA format, not to mention playoffs. The lack of diversity in the offense also fostered boredom and stagnation on the floor that manifested in a lot of griping about opportunities or "looks" and took the joy out of the game for the more dynamic players on the roster.

From an aesthetic standpoint, the JVG brand of hoop was unwatchable. It was unwatchable from afar, as Eastern Conference fans only had to sit through a few meetings a season in the local market. For Western Conference fans, and particularly the fans of the Houston franchise, it was brutal. I witnessed this miserable excuse for a basketball program for years when JVG was scowling along the Madison Square Garden sidelines, but all that has changed. Rick Adelman brings a brand of successful basketball to Houston, which features a good deal of offensive variety and opportunities galore for the gifted athletes on the club. The question that he brings with him to the Rockets is how well they will continue to play D. An article in the Houston Chronicle addresses just that point:

"Jeff Van Gundy was a proponent of trapping the ball-handler on pick-and-rolls. Adelman will never trap with his centers, having Yao Ming or Dikembe Mutombo instead sinking back into the lane. He also will more often have guards try to guide the ball-handler toward the baseline."

This seems like a better situation in Houston. Yao Ming is not laterally quick enough to play the trap on a guard. It's also a waste to have one of the premier shot blockers in league history operating this way in Mutombo. Both of these guys are mountains in a league of relatively smaller players. Adelman's proposed scheme works to that strength, and while more traditional and safe from a defensive perspective, it's also going to keep the big men out of foul trouble. I should say, it's going to keep them out of foul trouble related to poor lateral movement on the screen, and reserve any fouls to the shot blocking function of the center position. Finally, it will save these players the fatigue associated with chasing guards and the pressure that their knees and ankles would bear in trying to keep up with a smaller player on a switch. Next.

"Van Gundy insisted on contesting every jump shot, and last season wanted closeouts, even if they meant going for pump fakes, believing that shooting percentages decrease off one- and two-dribble jump shots when compared to spotting up. Adelman will more often let a specific game plan determine whom the Rockets must close out."

As a rule, it's safest to treat each situation as a unique set of variables that require a unique solution. If you try to apply a science to everything in the world, the science is bound to fail. One of the strong points of the Rick Adelman system is its flexibility. Most often that flexibility is associated with the fluid offense, but also has to apply more broadly to an entire philosophy of basketball. Van Gundy's philosophy of rigid, hard and fast protocols for playing both ends of the floor are unmanageable and in the end make for a very long and grueling season. Essentially, the Van Gundy system is an 82 game playoff style of basketball that most players have a hard time playing for 10-20 games at the end of the year. Adelman's system is much better suited to keeping players interested and will prove valuable in the specific instances of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. A lot will be asked of these players and it should be interesting to see how much lighter they appear after the All Star break. Two statements that Coach Adelman made tell a big part of the story, in my opinion:

"I want to do some of the things they did because they were so solid at it," Adelman said. "I've said before, Jeff did a great job with them. When you start with the guys we have like Rafer (Alston) and Shane (Battier) and Chuck (Hayes), there's good defenders out there. You're going to be pretty solid defensively." "A little is on veteran guys, to see if we have the knowledge as the games go along, to see what the offense is trying to do," Alston said. "As opposed to having 20 to 30 set ways to guard, we might switch (on screens), or force a guy down, or chase a guy around screens. But it helps to have guys like Shane Battier and Chuck Hayes to facilitate defense."

What Adelman's system does that Van Gundy's didn't allow for is a level of trust among players that allows each man to do something different. On most successful teams the roles are divided according to strengths and weaknesses. With the dilution of talent in a 30 team league, there aren't enough big time players to fill out every roster. No one is going to have a team of 12 outstanding defenders, who can also play great on the offensive end of the floor. Guys like McGrady and Yao are more important as scorers than they are as defenders, and therefore should be complemented by the defensive role players on the team. Where JVG applied 48 minutes of tough pressure by contesting every shot, help defense from the Battiers and Alstons and others will allow McGrady to shoot the gaps, release early, and go for the steal. Yao will be able to hang back to block a shot or two, and cover for any mistakes that the guards make in man defense. Every player doesn't have to play tight defense on every possession.

This is not to be mistaken for giving up on the defensive intensity that is the hallmark of champions. Successful teams all play very good defense. The problem is, over the course of 82 games the "all out" style of play will kill you. A well rounded team that can score in a variety of ways can afford to be less intense on defense. In Van Gundy's world view, plodding "high percentage" offense necessitates tough and intense defense. His strategy is to reduce the number of possessions in a game, putting the clamps down on the opposition while maximizing his own looks at the basket. Rick Adelman's brand of basketball is a brand of trust. Play fluid, motion basketball on offense with a high IQ and stay in front of your man on defense. With guys like Yao and Mutombo you have a level of trust that a layup is not a guaranteed end result of a blown assignment. Use that. The Rockets are not the Nets, fielding mediocre big men that have little lane presence.

I think you'll see a much better season from the Rockets than you witnessed in the JVG era. Houston fans should breathe a sigh of relief that a more open brand of basketball will be played on their home court that doesn't sacrifice quality for giving up some of the control from the coach's chair.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The New "Allan Houton Rule"

Rule: Never sign a player who just took millions of your money and returns the favor by not playing a single damn game in the past two years despite being the #2 highest paid player the league.

Sweet merciful crap, the Knicks signed Allan Houston.

After all the Knicks have done to themselves recently (Steve Francis, signing Jared Jefferies for more than $18, waiving Jalen Rose rather than sitting on his expiring contract, the Isiah Harassment case and Marbury intern limo bang this off-season, etc.) surely they must view the second-coming of Houston as good news.

But I am here to say signing Allan Houston is worse than all of the other moves Isiah has orchestrated.

As any Knicks or hoops fan would tell you, Houston was (is) a soft jump shooter with no heart whose career peaked when his ugly random runner fell in off the backboard in Miami. But more than that, the dude was one of those overpaid bitches who actually hurts you while he is on the floor. No defense, no guts, no intangibles. and the bitch (can Isiah still call a man a bitch?) has the nerve to declare he is coming back to the NBA.

Go back to your charity luncheons or else you'll get swatted.

In 2001, Houston signed a maximum 7-year contract extension with the Knicks, a decision that any intelligent creature knew to be a huge mistake for New York because it prevented them from making any moves for years and also paid a fluff player tons of cahs reserved for true stars. Houston's yearly salary of over $20 million made him a total anchor around the Knicks necks. Houston missed 32 games in 2003-04 due to a knee injury, and despite claims in the summer of 2004 that he would be ready to play the next season (he even refused to have surgery on his knee that summer), he played in only 20 games that season because he claimed injury hadn't completely healed. The knee injury would eventually force Houston to announce his retirement, on October 17, 2005.

And when he "retired" he took all of his damn guaranteed money with him. You know who was the 2nd-highest paid NBA player the past 2 years, right? Yep, this bitch. And he didn't play a single game.

For fans of Allan Houston, I think you might be mildly retarded or, at best, ignorant about hoops. His play was always super soft and one-dimensional. He was more Jeff Malone than anyone else. The stats that jump out? He averaged more turnovers and fouls combined than rebounds + assists + steals + blocks. What a sad little bitch.

93-94 DET 79 20 19.2 .405 .299 .824 .2 1.3 1.5 1.3 .43 .16 1.25 8.5
94-95 DET 76 39 26.3 .463 .424 .860 .4 1.8 2.2 2.2 .80 .18 1.49 14.5
95-96 DET 82 75 37.5 .453 .427 .823 .7 3.0 3.7 3.0 .74 .20 2.84 19.7
96-97 NYK 81 81 33.1 .423 .385 .803 .5 2.4 3.0 2.2 .51 .22 2.06 14.8
97-98 NYK 82 82 34.7 .447 .385 .851 .5 2.8 3.3 2.6 .77 .29 2.44 18.4
98-99 NYK 50 50 36.3 .418 .407 .862 .4 2.6 3.0 2.7 .70 .18 2.60 16.3
99-00 NYK 82 82 38.6 .483 .436 .838 .5 2.8 3.3 2.7 .79 .17 2.27 19.7
00-01 NYK 78 78 36.6 .449 .381 .909 .3 3.4 3.6 2.2 .67 .13 2.06 18.7
01-02 NYK 77 77 37.8 .437 .393 .870 .5 2.8 3.3 2.5 .70 .13 2.21 20.4
02-03 NYK 82 82 37.9 .445 .396 .919 .3 2.5 2.8 2.7 .66 .09 2.17 22.5
03-04 NYK 50 50 36.0 .435 .431 .913 .4 2.0 2.4 2.0 .76 .04 2.04 18.5
04-05 NYK 20 11 26.6 .415 .388 .837 .2 1.0 1.2 2.1 .40 .10 1.05 11.9
Career 839 727 33.7 .444 .402 .863 .4 2.5 2.9 2.4 .67 .10 2.10 17.3

Dear Allan Houston,
If I catch you hanging out at the Garden like Charles Smith did for a few years, brave enough to show your ugly mug after what you did to this team, then I'll suckerpunch yer ass, too.
Mr. West

News Flash! Pat Riley Finally Realizes Antoine Walker is a Fatso! Jabba the Hut sues for harassment.

In this world of insane media coverage, I think I am most amazed that this writer, Tim Reynolds, actually earns a salary. Dude, Tim, you wrote a fluff piece on 'Toine being fat! And you treated the story seriously!! Either you have the best sense of humor ever or you deserve to be eaten by the Jabba the Toine.

By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports Writer
October 10, 2007
MIAMI (AP) -- Antoine Walker's level of conditioning is still a concern for the Miami Heat, and coach Pat Riley predicted Wednesday it may take the forward until January to meet his team-mandated body fat level.

The issue has been a thorny one for Walker and Riley for the past two seasons. Walker was briefly suspended by Riley last season over body-fat measurements, and was kept out of the opening day of training camp practice this year for the same reason.

According to the story, this is the deal with Toine's size as of Oct 10th:

Riley would define "optimum" as 235 pounds with 7 percent body fat. Riley estimated that Walker weighed 262 pounds with 15 percent body fat at the start of camp, and the three-time All-Star has been slowed by a sore Achilles' tendon for the past week. Walker currently weighs 256 pounds, Riley said.

OK, sure, like I am supposed to believe 6'8" Walker who is very out of shape only weighs 256. IF ANTOINE WALKER WEIGHS 256 LBS. RIGHT NOW THEN I AM ROBBING HIS ASS MYSELF NEXT TIME.

No, seriously, my man, the corned beef sandwich was this friggin big, dog!! And so I said to myself "Toine you love corned beef!" and so I ate the whole thing before the trailers even ended!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Antoine Walker Gets Robbed ... Hilarious!

"It's the first Antoine Walker story where multiple random shots weren't involved."
"How did Antonie Walker prevent the robber from getting a shot off?"
"The Celtics hired the gunmen to reclaim money Walker previously stole."
"Walker reportedly told police he would have kept shooting until he hit something. Or even if he didn't."

CHICAGO (AP) -- Miami Heat forward Antoine Walker's home in Chicago was robbed Monday, the player's agent said.

Police and witnesses said two offenders held Walker and at least one other person at gunpoint during the robbery, Chicago broadcasters reported from the scene in the city's River North neighborhood Monday night.

Walker's agent, Mark Bartelstein, confirmed the incident took place but said he could not give specific details.

"He's OK," Bartelstein told The Associated Press. "There was a robbery. It's a scary thing. It's a terrible thing. He's trying to get himself back together. Police are there and he's getting it taken care of."

Monday, July 02, 2007

Sonics & Celtics Get their Trade Shit On

Celtics get: Ray Allen and the #35 pick
Sonics get: Jeff Green, Delonte West, and Wally World

Mr. East says ... It's tough to trade one of the best players in the league. You never get fair value back. I remember the Sixers traded Charles Barkley for Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang, and one of the NBA stiffs named Perry. Maybe Tim. Ray Allen instantly teams with Paul Pierce and Al Jefferson as the best threesome in the East. The Celtics are a Finals contender and only need to figure out which of their billion point guards are going to control this mess. They also need to hope someone will step up to play center consistently. I think they have a few strong candidates, including Kendrick Perkins.

Detractors say that Allen and Pierce will need more than one ball to keep them happy. To those people I say, "Didn't Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker play well together?" There is no bigger chucker in basketball than Antoine Walker. Allen and Pierce are both fairly efficient players and Pierce is a very nice distributor. If anything Allen's presence outside will help Pierce raise his FG% next season and take it to the rack.

The Sonics are headed in a different direction with a great new GM from the "young and dynamic" school of front office management. They are dumping all ties to the past and retooling for a few years down the road. They'll swing some kind of sign-and-trade for Rashard and now have Allen off the books. Reports have the Sonics trying to keep Lewis, but I don't think he wants to be back. Look for Luke Ridnour to be an Atlanta Hawk before July is over. This team will look very different going forward with Kevin Durant the main man. I like the idea, but I think they should have gotten more for Ray Allen than this.

"Say, you heard the one about a coach and a GM that are so shitty they get paid $2 million a year to ruin their franchise? Hilarious!"

Green will be a good pro and West is already a very tough player on both ends of the floor, but Ray Allen had to be worth two picks from someone. They should have demanded Gerald Green as a part of the package at least.

Mr. West says ...
Being a Sonics fan, and perhaps the only one in NYC, I gotta say I was torn on this draft news. Ray Allen is the best shooitng guard in the NBA. Period. The dude has the sickest and quickest release plus his offensive game is more balanced than people think. Basically, he is a shorter Paul Pierce with a better shot. So I did not want to see him go. And I still think it is a mistake.

Here are the key takeaways from the trade:
A. All this talk of Ray Allen being injured and old and useless is overblown bullshit. The dude can ball. Celtics fans have not seen a shooter like Ray-Ray since, well, you-know-who. Years of 'Toine chucking shots has ruined their reality.
B. Jeff Green is a reach at #5 for the next couple of years but he will develop into a better NBA player than college. The Hoyas restricted him somewhat. Still, he does not have the true explosive athleticism you need at #5. He is a little too stiff.
C. Wally Szczerbiak must have signed a deal with the devil. Not only did he get a $61 million deal from the T-Wolves before being dumped on the Celtics, he now is handed the starting shooting guard slot for the Sonics where fans and owners have zero expectations.
D. Why the fuck did the GM lil' Petris take on that Wally contract?
E. Delonte West has a decent game is he gets playing time.
F. Little Lukey Ridnour needs to be shipped for the good of the team and his own career. Early Watson shoots better, defends better and so does Delonte West.
G. The Celtics have a bunch of losers playing point (Telfair, Rondo?), hysterical contracts at center (Olowakandi and Ratliff), big kids playing forward (Jefferson, Big Baby, Perkins) and then Pierce and Ray-Ray. Having 3 positions plugged with NBA back-ups is unwise, as is relying on the health of both Pierce and Ray-Ray.
H. How many damn games does Ray-Ray and Pierce play together this season? 60? I'd like to see that over/under.

Oh, little Telfair. Even the Celtics don't want you. Life sucks when you peak at 17. Nice watch, though. Might wanna eBay that shit about now.

At the end of the day, I think the Celtics improve the most but at what cost? Danny Ainge better have a few deals in the works to make this team win 40+ games even in the pathetic East. If he is relying on Al Jefferson to become solid and his two all-stars to kill it nightly, well, good fucking luck. Ainge is the genius behind the Sebastian Telfair orchestration, 'nuf said.

And for the Sonics, the West is brutal for them. Durant might be the One. But they do need a guard who can consistently score plus a 7-footer who can actually play the game (unlike their magical string of stiffs going back to Rich King, Jim Macilvaine and Ervin Johnson). But they seem to be creating a unit centered around versatile small forwards who have more skills than the opponents. Not bad in theory, I suppose. Still, this team leaves Seattle next year and Rashard Lewis is still up in the air so who the fuck cares about the 2007-2008 season for them anyway since they don't themselves.

Knicks & Trailblazers Freebase As One!

The Portland TrailBlazers get: Steve Francis and Channing Frye
The NY Knickerbockers get: Zach Randolph, Dan Dickau, and Fred Jones

Mr. East says ...
The Blazers must be smoking some of that herb that Randolph left behind. Steve Francis is going to play where? You have Brandon Roy, Jarrett Jack, and Sergio Rodriguez. He'll come off the cap in the near future, so they will eventually get more big money to spend in free agency. Channing Frye is a talented player, but last year showed that he isn't comfortable playing next to a guy who dominates the post. Frye took a step back when paired with Eddy Curry last year and now he'll be stuck in a logjam with Oden and Aldridge. It just doesn't make any sense to me.

The Knicks, on the other hand, score one of the best low post scorers in the game. Randolph has issues that won't get any better playing in ultra-intense New York City but he is gifted and young. The main question is how he will fit in with a similar offensive player in Curry on the block. Randolph is versatile enough to shoot from mid-range, so he might just find a comfort zone. His rebounding is the main bonus. Randolph is everything on the boards that Curry most certainly is not. Curry's work around the glass on offense will be complimented a lot by Randolph's offensive board work. Add David Lee, Wilson Chandler, and possibly Randolph Morris, into that mix and the Knicks will be very tough to rebound against. That's key. The addition of Dickau and Jones, two decent players off the bench, complicates playing time for Nate Robinson, Jamal Crawford, Quentin Richardson, Mardy Collins, and Jared Jeffries. Where the frontcourt depth looks good, the backcourt depth is a mess. A potential train wreck.

Another problem that will rear its ugly head is that with Randolph and Curry the Knicks probably have the softest interior defense in the league. Look at the blocks per minute numbers for those two guys. Ugly. Also, neither of them pass a lick. Both Curry and Randolph are the 2 assists per game variety big men, who suck the ball up like a black hole when it comes in to them. Good players everywhere, terrible team building. They need to trade some of these guys for better fitting parts even if the talent they get back in return is of lesser quality.

Mr. West says ...

This trade is sorta like watching two non-boxers try to box: at first, you kinda wanna see anything go down but then you basically realize that hacks don't make for good sport. With all the trade analysis, here is what jumps out at me:

A. Two disinterested fat shits in Zach and Eddie won't earn the love of New York. The City wants players who hustle, scrap and attack. Maybe years of Allan Houston wimpiness and Starbury ego tripping has softened Knicks fans up.
B. Portland did themselves a favor by clearing out some room in the backcourt to force more playing time and space for their younger ballers like Roy.
C. Isiah dumped Stevie Franchise (Killer)'s contract. Yes, only in the NBA do other GM's willfully take on monster deals that kill cap space. Always another sucker. So Isiah just pulled his best move as a GM right there. Wow, Isiah is not retarded! (just stupid).
D. Zach must have been despised by Portland management. Portland took on Steve Francis knowing he will make $16.4 million in 2007-08 and $17.1 million in 2008-09. Wow, they must have HATED Zach Randolph to accept these concrete shoes. Normal media outlets call this stuff "off court issues" while I call it being a world-class asshole. Either way, the team had enough of this prick.
E. We will all quickly find out if a team can or cannot succeed with a huge low-post center and Zach on the floor at the same time.
F. Fred Jones has skills but adds more shooting guard issues to the Knicks bench. Someone has to be cut or traded from that scene.
G. LaMarcus Aldridge is going to have a (relatively) monster year-- he will bust out like the Dwight Howard of the West. Portland must be banking on that.
H. The "Eddie Curry Line" may now be titled the "Eddie & Zach Line". Can these Beef Brothers of the 21st Century actually have more blocks, assists and steals than turnovers? Let the betting begin.

Overall, I think both teams will improve over last year. The Knicks have a starting 5 of Curry, Zach, Marbury, Crwford and Quentin Richardson with David Lee as the 6th man. Despite their shitty coach and terrible chemistry they HAVE to win some games in the East, even if by accident. Portland is in the West, which means being realistic and planning ahead. So, in the long run, Portland fairs better just because they have Oden and because Francis' contract will come off the books in 2 years.

You just know what Zach is thinking: fuck if I care where I play as long as I can hit the buffets at strip joints after the game!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Quit Your Complainin'

For anyone who thinks they "can't", I direct your attention once again to the story we ran last year about Jason McElwain, the autistic kid that drained 6 threes in garbage time for his high school. Guess what? That ain't shit. Every heard of The Wizzard of Basketball? Bet you haven't Check him out.

And if that didn't get you, maybe version #2 will convince you:

This guy's name is Vijay Patel and he's from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. If you ever hear yourself complain again, or if you ever consider giving up on something because it seems to hard, man up. Just try to find half the guts and devotion this guy has and you'll do alright.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hawkish on Atlanta

Check this out. The Atlanta Hawks have changed uniforms AGAIN. Doesn't it seem like they get more image makeovers than Queer Eye for the Straight Guy? It never seems to take. The reasons are obvious. One, the team is bad. Two, the makeovers usually entail some variation on orange, yellow, and black which has to be one of the most ill-advised color combos for any sports franchise in existence. Your fans want to wear your licensed apparel, but if it looks like that no one but the most insanely die hard fans will shell out the cash to wear something the dog coughed up. Third, changing so many times is a signal to people that you don't have your shit together. Why would you be a fan of a team that can't figure out who it is?

Your new $150 jersey may be out of date in a year. Your attachment to certain players may end up going out the window as the team figures it needs wholesale changes to avoid another embarrassing trip to the lottery. Imagine that you pay premium money for seats and apparel for a team that is never the same year in and year out. You buy the new 2007 #12 Johnny Hawks jersey only to find that not only has the whole uniform changed, but that Johnny Hawks is now Johnny Raptors a season later. No wonder the arena in Atlanta is always empty.

Anyway, the Hawks have gone back to red, white, blue, and silver as their color scheme and they've jazzed up the hawk logo. It reminds me a lot of the change the Blue Jays made a couple of years ago in changing from the more ornithologically correct head shot of a Blue Jay, to the attack-mode killer Blue Jay that now graces their uniforms. What do the Hawks hope to accomplish by doing this? It's obvious. They want to suck less. Well, actually they really want to appear as though they suck less, right? They are still going to suck until they get a clue about how to build a better basketball team, but they'll look less suckish sucking this season.

The Hawks website has a little pictorial slideshow of past Hawks uniforms and a timeline of what they wore, when they wore it. I'll post the timeline jpeg here for you to click and enlarge and then run down some of the more egregious uniforms in the selection with a little commentary. Here we go:

First, Pete Maravich was a genius. He died way too young, and it's noteworthy that he would have been 60 this month. Playing like "Pistol Pete" would make just about any uniform look reasonable, but even so this was a stretch. It's funny to me to see this oddball uni, knowing that there was virtually no such thing in this world as marketing in 1970, at least as we know it today.

Putting a line green uniform on someone and expecting a good reaction is a bit far fetched, but I have to admit that those uniforms are appealing in a kind of retro-mod way. Especially the matching striped socks. I think it's probably cooler to walk around with this uniform on in 2007 than it was to play in it in 1970.

Soon after, the Hawks changed directions and opted for the orange and yellow monstrosity that they wore for decades after.

I skipped over some of the more nondescript orange and yellow uniforms. They all look like something out of Hoosiers. Block letters on the front. Generic, clip art, numbers. For a good stretch, the Hawks just wore boring uniforms, not so much ugly. If you look at this uniform from the 80's and early 90's, you'll know it as the most famous uniform in the team's history. The reason being, Dominique was the ticket to highlight reels everywhere. Dominique, in many ways, was the inventor of the SportCenter coverage of basketball.

If you do a 360 windmill dunk in game action, you will 100% without fail be on television over and over and over and over and over for about 2 months. This uniform is ugly. It's hideous. It's like the classic SuperSonics uniform with a worse color scheme and goofy lettering. The thing is, Dominique wore it and did magical things on the court. That, in and of itself, makes it cool. I wouldn't wear one, but.....'s certainly more imaginative than this from 1992. As the quality of player wearing the uniform went south (Pistol Pete, 'Nique, Mookie Blalock) the interest factor in the uniform also disappeared. At least the other versions of the Hawks uniform were either wild or boring. This uniform has no redeeming quality whatsoever. It's gaudy, but uninteresting. The lettering is splashed across the front like Shazam, but there are no other flair points. The arm and necklines of this uniform are yellow and white piping surrounded by a giant field of red.

Come to think of it, these look a lot like the ugly Rockets uniforms of the Hakeem Olajuwon era, only with cartoonish letters across the chest. Make up your minds Atlanta. Are you going to look like ridiculous superheroes, or are you going for the tragically boring look? I'm guessing that our next Hawks uniform will be infinitely worse, somehow.


Boy, was I right. Someone got my message, presumably by traveling ahead in time and reading this blog. Gone is the mix of cartoon and blah, and welcomed to Atlanta was the 1996 full blown cartoon jersey. This monstrosity featured the current team logo in it's earlier orange form, vomited across the front of a gradated black and orange field. It's like the "zubaz" version of an NBA uniform. Gaudy. Classless. Without any chance of aging gracefully. I love the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Celtics, and a few other teams' uniforms because they have changed very little generation to generation. Those are all respectable sports franchises because (1) they win, and (2) they dress respectfully, so they aren't the laughing stock when they lose.

Nobody fly in the house of Mutombo.

I also skipped the more recent Hawks uniforms. They haven't been as bad as that Mutombo jammie, so I figured I'd give them a pass, although they did go with a full yellow version that can be seen in the timeline jpeg found above. That alone should give the Supreme Court impetus to overturn the First Amendment, on the grounds that not all expression can be reasonably accepted by a decent and moral society. The 2007-08 uniforms are okay. They look a lot like the Nets uniforms, frankly. Red, white, and blue are played out as far as I'm concerned. The Houston Texans of the NFL went with the scheme despite the Bills and Giants already wearing it. The Ohio NHL club wears it despite the Rangers having worn those colors for a million years. The Washington Nationals chose it despite the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs having made those schemes famous. There's nothing particularly original about red, white, and blue these days. It plays up the whole nationalism thing that's popular nowadays. We are proud Americans, and such. These colors don't run, especially in the deep south. Yee ha!

It does nothing to change my perception of the sad sack Hawks. It doesn't make me waver in my belief that the basketball Gods should open up the earth and swallow that franchise into the pits of Hell. The team still isn't any good, and they won't be any good in our lifetimes. Joe Johnson is a nice player. Josh Smith is busting out. Uh.....there's that guy with the afro. And, tiny point guard guy. Not to mention, stiff lifeless big man, whatshisname? Tree Rollins? "As yet to be Named 2007 Lottery Draft Pick" and "2008 As Yet to be Named Lottery Draft Pick" and "As Yet to be Named 2009 Lottery Draft Pick" and....

Nice uniforms. Good luck with that.

Monday, June 18, 2007

How to play Kobe like a yo-yo

So suppsedly Kobe wants to be traded. Again. Maybe. The Lakers are trying to rebuild and Kobe doesn't want to be a part of it. Though the mixed messages and sources of the information are tough to track. But let's ignore the current complexities and assume he is playing the trade card.

In a way, we understand. As a competitive player, some would say the best player in the world, Kobe wants to play for a title every year. Loyalty would demand that Kobe stick around and help the Lakers to get back to being a contender by holding down the fort until things can be worked out. Especially since he helped Shaq out of town. He's become rich thanks to LA and he's won 3 titles already (again, only with Shaq). Without Bryant, Lakers' fans will have to endure what Knicks' fans are going through. Years of painful rebuilding with no apparent end in sight. With Kobe, Lakers' fans will at least get their money's worth night in and night out, and the team can actually rebuild while remaining somewhat competitive. It's a good situation.

That's not the way that things go down in the modern NBA. Players don't care about anything but their own situation for the most part. They care about their money. They care about their chances at a title. They often care about their stat lines. Whatever. I don't care about any of that really. I could get "holier than thou" and preach about how these spoiled millionaires should think about something other than themselves sometimes, but I won't. It's only my personal values and I don't know how able I'd be to stick to them if I were in an NBA superstar's shoes. Instead, I want to look at what the Lakers should do. What position are they in?

What would I do if I were the Lakers? Remember, he has a no trade in his contract and supposedly only would go to New York, Chicago, or Phoenix.

1. Keep Kobe

Mr. East: There's every reason to tell him to shut the fuck up and play. He has a contract. He's very well paid. We stuck by him during the rape business that made us look bad as his employer. Things got better and now he wants out? Fucking crybaby. Tough luck. You're staying and you'll like it.
We'll never get fair value in return for you, and I'm not about to go making another team a championship contender on my dime.

Mr. West: If I am the Lakers, I know Kobe is a head case. The dude is super fragile mentally and easy to control as long as I let him have his occasional outbursts. As evidenced by his declarations on radio shows and web sites, he likes to talk a big game to others but here in Lakers circles he apologizes and plays nice. We'll let him think he is winning at his game of threatening to leave just to get better teammates. I need this spoiled insecure shit because he is a sick hoops talent, draws fans, and is my best chance to win in this town. I have a very long leash with him and try to him forget that Tim Duncan is also in the West.

2. Deal him to Phoenix

Mr. East: The Lakers would never do this, because they don't want Kobe dropping 80 points on them in a playoff series. That said, why not deal him for Shawn Marion and Barbosa? Something along those lines would probably get you closer to fair value than anything else. That trade makes good sense for both clubs. Nash, Kobe, and Amare in Phoenix. Barbosa, Marion, and Odom in LA. The Lakers surely lose something, but they lose less than they would otherwise. Again, never happening.

Mr. West: The last the Lakers need is Kobe playing for Phoenix. So I only let this happen if I get to cripple the Suns for it. And Steve Kerr won’t let me do that. I'd demand Nash and Marion plus 1st round pick far into the future. The Suns don’t want or need Kobe-- they need Amare to step it up against Duncan somehow. This is not a possibility.

3. Deal him to Chicago

Mr. East: I'm not sure what it would take to get this done, but Kobe would love to take over where MJ left off. He's copied everything about Jordan there is to copy. He's virtually a carbon version of His Airness, maybe without some intangible greatness that I can't put my finger on. Jordan was just so predictably unbeatable. Kobe is great, but he hasn't lifted the Lakers without Shaq and that's something Jordan would have done. Chicago has too many pieces, and needs a superstar to take the last shot. It's not Luol Deng. Kobe subtracts excess parts and adds the main ingredient. The Lakers would have to get back a lot to get value in return. Duhon, Tyrus Thomas, Nocioni, and either Gordon or Deng. I just can't see something that disruptive or complicated going down. Forget the Bulls.

Mr. West: This would be perhaps the biggest trade in NBA history. The Bulls will likely not want to break up their progress to absorb Kobe BUT if the Bulls lose in Round 2 next year, they very well might need to make a major move. Depending on salary matchups, I could see myself offering Chicago, after next season, Kobe for Deng, Ben Gordon, and two #1 picks. Chicago would not part with Deng but, hey, I got Kobe. Checkmate on that.

4. Deal him to New York

Mr. East: Zeke is already foaming at the mouth trying to make this happen.
If he pulls it off it will probably forgive every stupid thing he's ever done and that's saying a lot. Getting Kobe would go a long way toward erasing Marbury, Francis, Rose, Crawford, Richardson, and the rest. You'd really have to entice LA with young guys, which you have, but do you have enough? Is it enough to send Crawford (for contract reasons), Lee, Frye, and more? Would you do that if you were LA? Your package would have to look better than Chicago's. Could it? Is either Lee or Frye more enticing than Tyrus Thomas, for example? Could you offer any value close to Gordon or Deng? Probably not. You'd be counting on working out a deal for your big contract guys to head to LA as part of a package of "prospects" and I just don't think Jerry Buss would go for it. It would be great for the NBA to have New York back, but why would the Lakers care about that? This ain't going to happen either.

Mr. West: Running the Lakers, this is my best option (if I have to trade him). Why? Ship to Kobe to the other coast, far from LA so we only play him twice a year. Also, Isiah Thomas surely is the dumbest man in basketball so I know I can get a fantastic deal out of him. I also would hype up NYC to Kobe to get him all excited and pressing Isiah for it to happen. The problem is that the Knicks are loaded with expensive, shitty talent. So I ask for the following after next season (or my trade deadline if the Lakers record is kinda weak): David Lee, 2 expensive (Crawford, Francis?) but expiring contracts and three 1st round picks, every other year from NY. Why only want future talent and expiring contracts? Easy-- I am gunning for LeBron in a few years. I create max cap room, let the Spurs get 2 years older, offer LeBron the world then capitalize on all those Knicks picks to trade or use if some special talent comes along.

In the end, Kobe is going to stay where he is.
They'll figure it all out and make him happy. LA won't be good again for awhile, and by that I mean championship good, but they'll compete. Kobe is a competitor and he'll just go out every night for 40-50-60 points. LA fans will get their money's worth, the Lakers will be able to hold off the ugly rebuilding that they'd do otherwise, and that will be that.

Kobe could opt out in 2009, but so what? Let him. Better than accepting a package of unattractive players just because you suddenly feel pressured. Kobe holds the cards in any deal, so fuck him. You hold the real cards with his contract. Period. we'd love to see Bryant in a New York uniform and to save the NBA's ass from itself. It would be good for New York, and therefore good for ratings. Too bad it will never happen.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Worst NBA Finals Ever.

All you need to know to confirm that the NBA Finals were a total fucking dud is the following:

The Spurs were outscored by 31 points (!!!) in the 4th quarter during the series.

This is almost unfathomable seeing as how: A) the series only went 4 games; B) they won all of the games; C) their average winning margin was over 6 points; and D) teams are supposed to try hard in the 4th quarter of NBA Finals games. As any intelligent NBA fan will tell you, NBA blowouts are avoided, for the most part, as winning teams coast in the 4th quarter, allowing the losing teams to bridge the gap and earn respectable losses. We here at East vs. West call it the “Charles Smith as a Clipper” or “Tony Smith as a Timberwolf” or “Joe Johnson as a Hawk” phenomenon. But for this to happen 4 games in a row and in the Finals and by the notoriously defensive-minded Spurs?!!?! Dude, they coasted because the Cavs were never even in this thing.

Cleveland never scored more than 20 points in a single quarter in first half play all series. Yes, 8 quarters and never more than 20 points scored.

The Cleveland totals for first half play: 35, 33, 38, and 34.

Someone please stop Eric Snow from appearing in the NBA playoffs anymore. For the love of the basketball gods, make him stop. I’d rather watch Larry Hughes feign injuries and suck ass getting mutilated by Tony Parker.

What the Fuck is Wrong with You File: Case #001

You know this guy? Yeah. Former Oklahoma State power forward and Golden State Warrior, Byron Houston.

I remember him as an undersized PF that could rebound like Barkley and score from various angles. We were in college at the same time, and I remember watching him in the tourney. He never translated to the NBA, mainly because of his lack of size. He was like Clarence Weatherspoon without the smooth in his game. Guess what? He gets naked and masturbates while watching people from his car. It's not that he pulled an Eddie Griffin and did it once. This cat is straight loco. He's been caught multiple times and got booted from a children's basketball camp in 2006 in Texas because he was registered as a sex offender in that state. He's at it again.

Yeah. He had his drawers on the dashboard while sitting at an intersection playing "Whack a Mole". Byron....what the fuck is wrong with you? I feel for you if you have a few marbles loose. Mental illness is a sad and lonely thing. But, c'mon. You can't keep getting caught for the same shit after you've been tabbed a sex offender. Imagine being booted from a kiddy camp because of that and then continuing to do the same thing. That's a cry for help. Get his ass put away for awhile and help him to figure it all out.

By the way, this story was more interesting to me than the Spurs winning the title. That's the NBA.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Why Are NBA GMs So Bad? Enter: Sonics new GM Pestri

The world of professional sports is basically a carousel of former players and coaches, which goes round and round until one of them dies, or new blood is introduced via the pathways paved by one of the old school. "Oh, young Douglas? He was an assistant at UNC for 10 years and attended Coach Wooden's camp every year. Bring him in."

But the NBA seems to flaunt this inbred style of personnel moves more than any other pro league. Surely, the coaching circuit is an old boys network. But we want to analyze one particular job in the NBA that baffles us: General Managers. Why, in a world of openly disclosed contracts and simple player evaluations, are NBA GM’s doing such poor work? And why is the changing of the guard taking so long to go into effect?

Sure, the “old boy network” happens in baseball, when the managerial candidates for a vacant job are all up and coming pitching coaches, or bench assistants, but the 65-year old retread is brought in thanks to his "track record" in the clubhouse, or some such thing. But the trend is changing on the diamond with more and more younger faces gracing the dugout. The bench assistants are more often those grizzled faces nowadays, than the managers. The major hot spot is now with GMs in baseball as they are likewise whiz kids with new ideas and a fresh approach to analyzing organizational resources. It's a complex sport with multiple positions, an ever widening international talent pool, and a multi-layered system of minor leagues. There's always room in baseball for a new idea, and a different take on the same old game. That's why it endures, despite no major rule changes in generations.

Billy Beane and Theo Epstein are the golden boys of baseball new GM renaissance. Brian Cahsman of the Yankees was 30 when he took over. John Daniels of the Rangers was born in 1977 for chrissake. Josh Byrnes of the Diamondbacks was 35 when hired after an internship under Theo and the Sox.

Basketball is different, though. The NBA, in particular, is a closed environment. It's a place where the sport that has captured the world's imagination over the last 20 years has gone to stagnate and die. Euroleague is far more innovative and exciting than the NBA, despite having inferior quality talent and a more diluted structure. Why?

The reason that the Euroleague is thriving and the quality of the sport is making leaps and bounds is because European clubs have invested in building. The NBA invests in marketing.

Many European clubs, for example, are part of a larger sports family that owns soccer franchises run like multi-national corporations. European soccer franchises like Real Madrid make US sports organizations look like mom and pop operations, stuck on an old dusty Main Street. They invest in research, medical technology, and multi-layered club systems that bring in young talent from all over the world and nurture it until it's ready for prime time. Those clubs take the word "organization" to another level.

The NBA is easy to figure. There are only so many people with any power in an organization. The GMs generally come from the ranks of the former coaches that couldn't find work, but know their way around the league. The coaches are similarly connected, and maybe you'll see a former assistant get a crack. The problem with the NBA is that there is no vision. No one has a vision and the courage to follow it.

The best visionary decision making has taken place with the hiring of Mike D'Antoni and his system in Phoenix. Enter Steve Kerr to run things. It's the Toronto hire of the people from Benetton Treviso. Hell, Mark Cuban is the owner that skirts the description I made just a moment ago. He flipped the Mavericks (fittingly) on their heads and did things differently. Yeah, he's a goofball, but he's also the kind of spark that the NBA needs to break out of the Stone Age.

The NBA was in this kind of situation before. The ABA was exciting and innovative and fun. The NBA was the Celtics, traditional and stoic and professional. There's certainly more to it than that, however. The ABA tried new things. There was the multi-colored ball and the afros and the fast break. There was an All Star Game that featured a slam dunk contest. The NBA was conservative and locked in the yester year of American society.

The same thing is being repeated today. The NBA is corporate. The NBA is standing in mud. No new ideas, unless you call the various silly rules changes that have gone on every year for the past 15 new ideas.

Where is basketballs version of Bill James? Where are the pioneers of advanced metrics in the sport of basketball? Bill James created a new way to look at the very old and traditional environment of baseball by challenging some of the myths that persisted about how to play. Is it really worth giving up a sac bunt? Run Expectancy charts now tell us no. Is Player X more valuable to my team than the guy on the bench or the guy banging down my door for a tryout? Clay Davenport and the people at Baseball Prospectus continue to challenge the way organizations make decisions about talent and value. Value Over Replacement Player, or VORP is just such a statistic, and you can bet that the best GMs in baseball consider it a powerful tool in their bag of tricks.

Ask Theo Epstein. Ask Billy Beane. Ask Brian Cashman.

Basketball is on the verge of dealing with its environment in this way, but advanced metrics have hardly caught on in any real way. You have people at and at providing a different look at the sport via data, but it is hardly pervasive. The encouraging sign at this point is the inclusion of additional stats at and other popular sports outlets. You see efficiency ratings and data per 48 minutes for the first time now. A positive move in the right direction.

Yes, Ray-Ray, a 31-year old kid from Emerson College is now your boss.

Now let’s take a look at an NBA team taking a risk on new, young GM talent. Adding a young, progressive GM to their club is potentially a saving point for a franchise like the Sonics, teetering precariously on the edge of becoming obselete. If young 31-year old Pestri brings any fresh ideas to the table it will help not only the Seattle club, but just may prove to be the nudge needed to have other clubs follow suit. You may see more Mike D'Antonis and more Don Nelsons at the helms of NBA franchises.

Seattle is basically trying to poach the Spurs philosophy by hiring a young kid to run their squad. Yes, Ray Allen, this little red haired kid has your future in his hands. Goodbye Rashard Lewis, Hello Kevin Durant. And why not? Pestri surely knows just as much about hoops as Isiah Thomas or Danny Ainge from a player evaluation sense. And Pestri surely won’t make the moronic free agent and trade moves of the good old boys. Why? Because he is smarter and shrewder and not interested in giving Mark Aguirre a job for no reason.

What we've seen since is the natural decline of a league which never had fresh new ideas, but rather a stretch of good fortune created by a series of unrelated but collectively dynamic events. It's up to outside forces to change the league, and it looks like they may actually be pressing their cases enough to have that chance. I like Toronto. I like Dallas. I like Phoenix. I like the new direction of the Sonics. If we're lucky, even more new faces will enter and bring new value to the league. If we're lucky the faces that are already starting the change will not stop where they are now. More needs to be done, but it can happen. Keep the faith and demand a better product as fans because no old boy GMs are going to give it to you.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Jeff Foxworthy is cooler than LeBron

NBA Finals TV ratings suck eggs. Dozens and dozens of eggs.

So much for LeBron saving basketball. The spanking that the Spurs are putting on the Cavs after two games is generating so little interest outside of us sports nerds that more people are watching “So You Think You Can Dance?” than the NBA Finals. Sad.

"No, dude, seriously, this is the NBA Finals, we should focus." [pause] "ha, ha, ha, good one, motherfucker!!"

Game 2 pulled a 3.7 rating and 9.2 million total viewers. Total viewers were down 20% from last year's first game, which featured the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks. That series had its own set of NBA stars with high Q ratings—namely Shaq and Dywane Wade.

Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance?" It earned a 4.3 at 9 p.m., and led all network shows. With a solid 3.0/10 from "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" Fox's pair of question-mark shows pulled off another win for the network, tossing LeBron’s attempt at playing Jordan into the cheap seats.

maybe we should be watching this dancing show after all

Surely, the decline of ratings and audiences for sports on TV has been well documented over the past 20 years. The fact is that outside of the NFL, sports on TV simply is overrated and does not draw the crowds. The NBA knows full well that the guaranteed money from ABC/ESPN/TNT for TV rights is modern day piracy, but if the big networks feel the need for it, well, good for the NBA.

But the Spurs are a fiasco in terms of drawing and keeping fans to tune in. Add a pathetic showing by the Cavs and early game blowouts and it all adds up to more people watching a show that is an inbred version of “Fame” and “American Idol” with a slight case of downs syndrome.
So in light of America tuning out the NBA Finals, here are some new names we came up with for ABC to use:

“Are You Smarter Than LeBron James?”
“So You Think You Can Beat the Spurs?”
“Cold Case: Larry Hughes”
“The Boobie King” (homage to Daniel Gibson and LeBron)
“CSI: San Antonio”
“World’s Funniest Blowouts”

Mr. East Note:

I saw the ratings on this series too and thought about exactly what Mr. West wrote above. Great minds. I think it's safe to say that the NBA is about as compelling as watching paint dry. I commented on a now-defunct hoops blog of some note about 2 years ago that sports depends on a compelling storyline to succeed as a televised commodity. The gist of my pre-blogging rant was that Red Sox/Yankees is compelling because there's history, rabid fan bases, close proximity, and Babe Ruth. Celtics and Lakers was compelling because Magic and Bird faced off in college and both teams were just so damn good. The East Coast tradition versus the West Coast showtime was a great storyline. Bulls vs. Pistons was great because both teams kicked each others' asses for years, one winning the title and the other going home pissed. The essence of a good rivalry makes for good television.

So, we've had Mavericks vs. Heat (2006), Spurs vs. Pistons (2005), Lakers vs. Pistons (2004), Spurs vs. Nets (2003) and Three Lakers Championships with a Pistons vs. Knicks in the 4 years prior. It seems to me that the key ingredient is the lack of a rivalry. No storyline. No history. No compelling struggle between the Irresistable Force and the Immovable Object. Both the Spurs and Pistons have made multiple appearances, but they've only played one another once. The Lakers played 4 times in recent years but they played a different Eastern Conference club each time. LeBron James is mildly interesting, but name one other guy on that club that makes great drama. You can't. The Spurs are completely uninteresting. Duncan is a dud of a personality. Bowen is one of the most hated players in the league, which would drum up some kind of passion if he didn't suck, or if he had plaid hair. Ginobili is occasionally exciting and Parker turns it up a notch in the playoffs, but who are they matched up against? Is there anything in the matchups that equals "Must See TV"? Larry Bird isn't walking through that door.

Parity is death for interesting hoops. It would be much better if the NBA abolished the salary cap and killed the small market clubs. New York vs. LA would be much better to watch than what we have now. Cleveland vs. San Antonio? Oooooooh. Those cities hate each other.....

Nothing will ever happen to make this a good situation. At least not until all the stars are aligned with two teams that can't be beaten in the East and West. Lakers versus Celtics would be good. 4 or 5 years of the same shit would actually be good for the sport, like the Yankees winning it 4 out of 5 years in the 1990s. Now they can't win, so everyone is happy, but when they won it made for good TV, even if it was only to root against the Evil Empire.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

LeBron Saves Basketball

Thank the lord for LeBron. Or his mom.

His Game 5 Eastern Conference Finals has given interest in the NBA a major shot of adrenaline. A Pistons-Spurs series might have kept the NBA stuck in reverse. Really, could we find two teams who grind out every damn play and make the refs blow whistles all night long? But LeBron's 48 points made sure some people outside of Detroit and San Antonio actually will watch the Finals.

We here at East vs. West pride ourselves on unconventional hoops coverage. And there has been so much overalanysis of LeBron in these plaoffs as it is. But, goddamn, did LeBron put on a show! In Detroit. In double overtime. Scoring 29 of his teams final 30 points.

For those about to rock, we salute you.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Meet Knickerbocker Strong

Thanks to Isiah Thomas, the #9 pick will be sent to Chicago for the #23 pick. Yes, Eddy Curry was effectively swapped for Mike Sweetney, but I'm allowed to brood. With the #23 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft (the deepest in years) the Knicks select.....

Ben Strong, Center, Guilford College (NC, Div.III)

Thanks Zeke.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Meet SuperSonic Durant

Letters: "The NBA is Just Plain Ugly"

Dear Mr. East & Mr. West ... below is a letter we got from some crazy dude. We now love him.
I gotta ask you....why the hell do you even like the NBA??? Man that is some boring ass garbage to watch.

What the hell is everyone talking about with LeBron? I heard Barkley or Kenny Smith say that the floor "parted like the red sea." Kenny whatshisface on Sportscenter said it was a clear path to the basket. The TNT guys went off for an hour about how Lebron has to take over, he's not a supestar, blah, blah, blah. Seems to me that this type of pressure that has been going on for years is the cause for the selfish, lifeless, boring, bullshit hoop that I see now.

NBA games in the regular season are complete bores. Playoff games are slightly better. These guys play when they're when the want to play. It's like a league of Randy Mosses.

I hate to be this guy but I just have to be this guy right now. Womens hoops is better than mens. And its way better than NBA. College hoops is another story.
THe NBA sucks. People have to sit there and defend the league. "Well Golden State vs Dallas was good." Let's face it, there are way more crap games than good games.

These experts are fucking idiots, it's this pressure for everyone to be the superstar, to "take over the game," to prove that they can make the big shot, etc, etc. What about playing sound basketball, what about fundamentals, what about the team?

The NBA is just plain ugly. I don't see how you can watch. The end of games is absolutely dreadful. Whistle after whistle, time outs, intentional fouls, free throws, rebound, time out. Then a play that looks like the coach said okay guys inbound the ball to someone, that guy dribble it up and then you know drive to the hoop, leeeeet's break. At least baseball is supposed to be 85% boring. NBA is supposed to be Fan-tastic.

I don't know much about hoop and the plays and that stuff but I know when something looks graceful, looks like it has a flow, looks pretty. NBA has a couple players that I feel like that with. One is Nash, the other is.....there has to be another one.

Lebron has looked like garbage, attacking triple teams all game and losing the ball. The he actually draws three defenders, kicks it out for the win to a WIDE OPEN teammate and he's criticized for it!!!! What a fucking joke.

I've whittled my sports viewership down to NFL, and MLB (which is just Sox and Yankees for me). I watch some UConn womens games in order to spend time with my 90 year old Grandma and I'm telling you, they play harder in a 40 point blowout then NBAers play in the final seconds of game 7. What a bunch of bums.

People leave the bench and everyone criticizes Stern? What the fuck do we have rules for? Do we only suspend players if they'll only miss a game that isn't supposed to be a "good game." Do people actually think that the commissioner should take the level of the importance of the next game into consideration? What the hell do you do the next time? Do these people understand what setting a precedent is?

Anyway, cool blog. I watched the final 3 minutes of the Pistons game with these guys last night and I felt like it took longer then the whole torturously horrible Red Sox game I had just watched. It was just brutal to watch.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Northwest Strikes Back!! Boston goes to Hell!!

With Mr. West living in NYC and Mr. East in Japan, Portland and Seattle represent a sort of magical far-off portion of the United States that means little to us. Hey, no offense, Northwesterners but all that pops to mind is lumber, grunge, Bill Walton, Starbucks, Microsoft. And the mighty fucking SuperSonics!

Hello, Seattle. Or Oklahoma City.

The 2007 NBA Draft Lottery just took place. We tried to tell you people over a month ago (check the post): "So, according to East vs. West, somehow the Sonics will sneak in to grab a top #1 or #2 spot. God bless them. And Portland seems fucked." OK, so we blew the Portland prediction but we got the Sonics!

Boston, this jerkoff caused your Lottery tumble ... look at him!

And how can we not send a shot out to Beantown for dropping all the way down to #5? Sixers, Nets and Knicks fans thank you for being such wonderfully unlucky bastards over the past 20 years or so. Of course, all fans of other Atlantic Division root on such shitty teams no one really cares anymore. But we still love to see the Celtics get fucked again.

We'll do a full Draft prediction post later on.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Vince Carter: Life's Little Failures

Sheesh, looks like all those Vince-hating fans in Toronto were on to something. Vince Carter got his ass handed to him in the playoff series versus the Cavaliers. Sasha Pavlovic and Eric Snow kicked his ass. And now it looks like Vince's career may not be able to recover from his own glaring shortcomings that shone so bright.

The stats don't say all that much, other than showing Vince has a sub-par series: 11 points in games 5 and 6. 6-for-23 in game 4, ending in a miserable end-of-game scenario where he faltered and lost the ball. But it was his Game 6 disappearance act that confirmed what those north of the border have been saying for years: Vince Carter is a big-game zero ... a highlight machine but not a winner ... a drama queen who shirks responsibility.

And now Vinsanity looks to be relegated to YouTube clips of Frederic Weiss being leapt. Why?

Without a doubt, Carter totally tanked his play while in Toronto to force a trade. Such an act is a true to sign of cowardice, a bitch move of epic proportions. It wasn't as if the man pulled an Iverson and went light in practice or feigned illness to skip out on some random PR event for some sponsor. Carter played so terribly as to essentially throw games. And Toronto got screwed because of it. And the NBA let Vince get away with it, to the benefit of the Nets.

Perhaps Vince listened a little too much to Homer Simpson: "Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel."

But, more likely, Vince is just one of THOSE guys. Oh, you know, the types: they play up their injuries yet also keep playing in a poor attempt to get you to say "gee, man, your leg is almost broken but you keep playing ... wow, you are the toughest man I have ever met." Those types also get offended when lesser players try super-hard against them and make life difficult for them (Bruce Bowen may be a prick but Vince shrinks like a dick dipped in ice water when playing the Spurs). Those types also do nothing to elevate the play of others when the going gets tough.

The Nets coach Frank stupidly played into the hands of the classic NBA superstar ego playbook, with chapters written by the likes of Dominique Wilkins, Wilt Chamberlin and even Stephon Marbury getting a footnote here and there. Frank's offense was reduced to handing Vince Carter the ball and telling everyone to stand and watch. Good move, Frank, just what Dr. Nasimith ordered.

So to Vince Carter, I say grow some balls. OK, that might be harsh. Grow some hair on your balls.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Steve Kerr Calls It: Bullshit!

The suspensions handed down in the Suns-Spurs series got tons of coverage, about 75% of the opinion that the NBA's suspensions were poor. But only Steve Kerr, writing for Yahoo!, made a key point that shows a major flaw in the NBA's policies it has concerning leaving the bench.

"However, if the league decides to suspend Diaw and Stoudemire, it may have to suspend Tim Duncan and Bruce Bowen as well. In a play that went entirely unnoticed until well after the game was over, both Duncan and Bowen actually left San Antonio's bench early in the second quarter after Francisco Elson and James Jones were entangled. Replays clearly show Duncan walking several steps onto the court as Elson and Jones appeared to be ready to get into it. Bowen then followed Duncan onto the floor, grabbed him and led him back to the bench. If the league does indeed follow the letter of the law, both Spurs players would also be suspended for Game 5."

Kerr brings up a key point: if the NBA follows the letter of the law, why aren't Duncan and Bowen suspended, too?

The NBA Shanks the Suns, Fondles the Spurs

Mr. East rages on!:The NBA is possibly the worst of all the professional sports leagues.

Why? Because they don't understand their product. The NBA has so little confidence in it's own sport that it has to make up artificial reasons to go to games. Halftime shows by B musical acts, juggling monkeys, and all the rest of the crap that makes up the circus side show of an NBA game. I'm not here to rant about all that though. I'm on a rant about the actual product.

The NBA suspended Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw for leaving the bench during an altercation against the Spurs involving "Big Shit" Bob. What would you have done if the league refused to protect its reigning 2-time MVP from a bunch of no talent thugs? You'd bust someone's ass. That's what I'd do, and I think rightly so.

Hockey has too many stupid fights, but when a guy clubs another guy with a stick they brawl. That's a good thing. It prevents teams from sending goons out there to hurt someone. When a shit pitcher beans a cleanup batter, benches clear and guys get into it. Why? To protect their teammates from bullshit, dirty play. It's a built in mechanism to deter "hackery".

The only way any of these leagues can do something about dirty play is levy hefty suspensions for each incident. Bowen would have been out multiple times by now. Horry would be gone the rest of the postseason. By not having the balls to step in and stop the violence, the league gives San Antonio a license to keep playing that way. By suspending the Suns guys for leaving the bench to dole out some much needed justice, they leave it open for Bowen and his crew of thugs to goad more Phoenix players into retaliation. If that happens, Phoenix loses. Simple.

What kind of effect does this have on the series? It's huge. The Spurs have gotten away with virtually every dirty tactic in the game and then the Suns get punished. It almost guarantees the San Antonio boys will advance to the Conference Finals, while the best thing that has happened to the league since "Showtime" met Bird and Company goes home.

The Spurs are awful to watch. They are cheap and grind the entire sport to an unenjoyable halt.

Bruce Bowen knees Nash in the groin and we get to see more Spurs basketball.

Robert Horry throws a clothesline, and the Spurs wear the crown.

If you ask me, cracking down on the Spurs' dirty play and suspending Bowen and Horry would be a good start. If there's another incident, suspending Coach Jackass would be a great move. It won't happen because the NBA has no balls. They are a gutless bunch of bureaucrats who can't assure that the most entertaining brand of basketball is played every night. If they strapped on a pair, maybe the rest of the league would look more like the Suns.

If I were the Suns, and the waning seconds of my season were upon me with the knowledge that it was over, I'd go seek out Horry and Bowen and kneecap them. I'd undercut them a la Charlie Ward and P.J. Brown. Maybe I'd jab Duncan in the eye with a thumb or pull Ginobili down by his shoulders as he drove to the basket. Why not? The season is over and the Spurs got to advance via dirty play. May as well take out a few frustrations on them the way they've manhandled you. The league isn't going to put an end to it, so maybe the Suns can exact some serious street justice and make the Spurs understand that one dirty play is cause for another. A season ending eye-gouge to Duncan would make Bowen and company think twice before they did anything dirty again. By the way, yes, I am suggesting that inflicting an intentional injury to a star player is a good idea. Not just a bruised knee either. I'm talking about something that is going to hurt for weeks and will seriously affect the ability of that player to play his game at the level he is accustomed to playing. Nothing permanent or career threatening, but something to send a real message to the Spurs. Hockey mentality basketball.

Only something that insane and drastic will make the NBA change its ways.....Only, the Suns have too much class and professionalism to do something like that, right? Too bad.

Mr. West Piles On!:
I understand the letter of the law and I understand the spirit of the law. And the suspensions of the Suns players and the subsequent fallout debate centers around "letter vs. spirit." Fine, clear enough. Or, in this case, unclear enough.

But the NBA is exhibiting classic chickenshit authority. I'd argue they actually got away from being so anal after the Pistons-Pacers brawl by basically saying "we don't give a shit what precedent we set before or what the Union says or anything else-- we're handing down punishment for what we think happened." And I thought they did a good job in that case. Why they are sticking their heads in the sand now is stupid because this is a crucial series, one which most hardcore fans realize is truly the NBA Finals as these are the best teams left playing.

The NBA allowed Bruce Bowen to get away with two cheapshots (the Amare achilles squash and the Nash knee-to-the-groin) but now can't go back in time to suspend him. In theory.

As Mr. East wisely put it to the Suns, a la Sean Connery as his character was dying in "The Untouchables", now what are you prepared to do? Athletes and sports teams are so un-political these days, they have no idea of the power they weild and influence they have. If the Sun sit back and take this, they are stupid. And I'm not suggesting violent tactics, I mean somethign yet smart. Here are some ideas I have for the Suns:
1. Stage a sit-in, on the court, before tip-off. Protest the suspensions. That will generate some good attention. Agree to play only if Bruce Bowen is suspended for a game. You think the NBA will call a forfeit? No way!
2. Put in a total scub and have him pick a verbal fight with Popovich and players everytime down the court near the Spurs bench. Then attack a small Spur, like Tony Parker, right in front of the bench, thereby drawing Spurs right in front of the action to leave their bench.
3. During the game, have anyone being guarded by Bowen literally run into him while dribbling. Force the refs to call "block" or "charge" every single time donw the court. They will foul Bowen out, guaranteed.

To the Suns, I say you have been fucked by the NBA and the Spurs. Let's see what you've got!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Bowen: A Total Dick or Just Misunderstood?

Bruce Bowen's antics have become a headline these playoffs as a knee to Steve Nash's groin and a foot on Amare's heel caught some attention. In typical fashion, the media and even players alike have been very wary of even taking on stand on the matter:

Is Bowen a dirty player or not?

Mr. West says:
Damn fucking straight he is a dirty player. A total dick. I'll call him out.

Like a European soccer thug, he has mastered the art of acting innocent while hurting players. To the fastass on the couch and to the refs who need crystal clear proof, Bowen's moves are pure accident. To anyone who balls a lot and has played in some very testy streetball games, Bowen's tactics (not moves!) are plain as day.

Look at the clips:

Bowen's favorite move is a variation of the Euro defensive hoops move whereby players feign an undercutting move as the opponent shoots, which throws the shooter off. No one does this in US play, it's very Euro, a tactic developed by slower guys who could not compete with leaping ability and instead positioned themselves underneath shooters. But Bowen had gone a step further by sticking his foot out on purpose after the shooter leaves the floor to elevate. The foot is planted underneath the shooter so the shooter therefore either lands on it and lands to avoid it, throwing off the rhythm. Bowen is even so cagey as to turn his head away from the shooter, following the flight of the ball, as he sticks his foot out. This gives the illusion it is a natural move simpy because he is not looking at where he plants his sneaky foot. Please, people. No one does this unless they mean to do it.

The Bowen Ankle Breaker has been used on other top 2's notably Ray Allen, Kobe, Rip Hamilton and Vince Carter, plus a couple of Knicks as of late.

Ray-Ray going after Bowen kicked his back while both were on the ground.

His other moves are typical cheap shots- usually involving his feet and even his head. Like I said, very Euro. Watch the Vince Carter clip all the way through. The Bowen Ankle Breaker on the shot is clear. But wait until they show you the clip of Vince Carter "headbutting" Boewen earlier. Watch what Bowen does beforehand-- yes, he slips his head into Vince's to instigate it.

In the 2007 Playoffs, his attempt to step on Amare's achilles heel is no joke. Watch the extension to plant his foot on Amae's backside during take-off. Dirty shit. Bowen, you are a dirty dick.

Now, does playing dirty make it "wrong"? I'd argue yes. I am not one of those types who thinks Bowen's play is OK just because he helps his team win. Do others play dirty? Sure. But no one getting serious playing time plays with the malicious intent of Bruce Bowen, and that is the difference.

I just wonder why the media is so slow to admit to what they see and why other NBA players downplay it as well (except for his victims, who want to kill the guy).

Mr. East says:

There have always been rough and borderline dirty players in the NBA. The Pistons of the late 80s were one of the dirtiest teams around. Rodman was the leader of the Bad Boys, and regularly clipped, tripped, and tried to injure Scottie Pippen. It worked and the Bulls took a long time to figure out how to beat them. In the meantime, the Pistons won a couple of titles at their expense. Zeke was dirty. Mahorn was dirty. They won.

The Knicks of the 1990s were among the successors to the Pistons hackish style of play with Pat Riley goading Anthony Mason and Charles Oakley to be rough on opposing bigs. Starks was a tough defender but he flopped and chopped his way into the hearts of Knicks fans by abusing Jordan and company as well. The Spurs are the inheritors of that legacy in the late 90s and early 2000s.

Bowen is a good defender, but one of the most aggregious hacks in recent memory. He's just plain dirty in a far more dangerous way than the others I've mentioned so far. Rodman was occasionally dangerous with his below the knees stuff on Pippen and company, but he was also an All World defender without the dirty play. Bowen is nowhere near the defender that Rodman was, but every bit as dirty. One of the main reasons I hate the Spurs with every last breath is that they ugly up the game.

It's a little hypocritical for me, as a Knicks fan, to call out a club for uglying up basketball games, but it's true. People hated the Knicks because the won dirty. The Spurs are the same. Duncan is great. Giniboli is occasionally great. Parker is a good point guard, if not great. Everyone else is a role player.

The main claim to greatness for the club is their tough defense, but it's led by a shady character that wouldn't even be a professional player if not for his defensive reputation. Much of that reputation comes thanks to his ankle breaking, groin-kneeing techniques that are designed to worry athletes about their health and career viability on every play. That's bullshit.