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Your new $150 jersey may be out of date in a year.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.