Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More from the Arenas School of Parenting

Unlike Brian Scalabrine Gilbert Arenas is good at basketball, posts on his blog regularly and even includes links. Check out another great interaction between Gilbert and his dad:

"Every Sunday, you know, we’d go to Balboa Park. He was teaching me before, you know, the actual guys came and started playing so we’re playing 1-on-1. So, I was reaching, you know, reaching for the ball, and he was like, “If you keep reaching, I’m going to break your pinkie.” You know, thinking, “Yeah, right,” I reached in there, he grabbed it. CLICK. Wooo! My right hand. I kicked the ball. I quit. I wasn’t really serious about basketball then, I was just doing it because he was playing. I was like 10 or 11, I didn’t get serious till I was 12.

We just put a little cast on it, put it in a little sling." - Arenas

Don't mess with David Stern

TNT decided to interview David Stern during the second quarter of the Bulls/Heat game (roughly ten minutes before this posting). The highlights:

- Stern’s praise of Red Auerbach.

- The commish’s enthusiasm for the stars of the game. Interestingly he’s not a big fan of last names.

- Finally Stern was asked about the new ball. First he played it coy and said, “What ball?” But then he went for the kill. With the Heat trailing 34-21 Stern said with a hint of mockery, “The ball seems to be slipping out of the Heat’s hands and not the Bulls.” Take that Shaq and Wade.

Important point: This Bulls team might do dirty things to the Celtics. I don’t want to think about it.

Charles Barkley still at it

From an entertaining interview with with the TNT basketball guys on Slam Online “I will say this, and not to sound racist, but one of the great travesties of American history is white men who are afraid to shave their heads, thinking they’re going to have an ugly head. There’s nothing wrong with their heads. But some of these hairdos, they’ve got to go, they’ve got to come on home. Shave their damn heads. There’s nothing wrong with your head. Sometimes I see some of these guys with the comb-overs or the bad toupees, and I’m like, Hey man, do you think you should shave that shit? Ain’t nothing going to be wrong with your head. The myth that white men can’t shave their head is just that, it’s a myth.” - Charles Barkley after Ernie Johnson discussed shaving his head due to his bout with cancer.

Can you tell I need the C's season to kick off tomorrow?

Marktwain Johnson

Marktwain Johnson was the man shot in the Tony Allen incident at the White Palace Grill. Marktwain Johnson? How did I miss that one? Thanks BNasty...

Tuesday - Old School NBA Moment

After the Celtics clinched the conference in 1986 Parish took a game off to rest his back. Walton was fired up and arrived at the Garden early to get ready. During warm-ups Bird approached Walton and said, “I know what you’re thinking. Forget about it. Those shots are my shots. You just get on the weak side and rebound.”

Power Rankings

As the season looms the Celtics rank 24th in Mark Stein's power rankings with the following tagline: "Dedicating the season to Red was the only appropriate response. Now we'll see if these Celts, with five rotation players 21 or younger, can handle that responsibility." If you are scoring at home they are three spots behind the Raptors and one ahead of the Knicks. I wish I could speak objectively about the NBA. But I can't.

Shaq is so Wise

“What about the Dallas Mavericks?” – Steven A. Smith
“What about em?” – Shaq
“They looked like they had your number.” - Steven A. Smith
“Had. I had my shoes before I left home. Now I don’t.” - Shaq
“What about the Spurs with Tim Duncan?” - Steven A. Smith
“What about em?” - Shaq
“What about Amare and the Suns?” - Steven A. Smith
“Amare’s cold. But what about em?” – Shaq

I enjoyed that exchange. What I didn't enjoy was the following quote, which served as an excellent reality check for someone drinking the Celtics' kool aid.

"Name me a young team to win a championship in the last six years." - Shaq

You bastard.

Multiple Choice

The picture to the right is the following:

A. The And 1 tour.
B. Rucker Park.
C. Gilbert Arenas getting stuffed in the ghetto.

Given my well-documented admiration of Arenas you have to go with option C. Thank you once again True Hoop. Enjoy the clip.

Diplomatic Immunity

Mark Zeigler of the Union Tribune and True Hoop enlightened me to Kim Jong II’s love of basketball in general and Michael Jordan in particular. Now I think we all can agree that I’ve had some great ideas in the past. The Suge Knight owned Vegas team comes to mind. But my new strategy to send Charles Oakley to North Korea may be the best brainstorm I’ve had yet. I have visions of a combination of Rambo and I’m Gonna Git You Sucka and despite my best efforts I'm not sure what this means. Seriously Oakley could save the world. And can we get Oakley diplomatic immunity? Now that would be fantastic. And while I'm on the subject of Oakley. If Rod Thorn really wants to rid the Nets of Jeff McGinnis, there is only one man to call.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Bold approach

"If you do something great, kid, then don't apologize to anyone. If you're a winner, then act like one." - Red Auerbach courtesy of Jackie MacMullan

Tribute to Red

While it goes without saying that Red Auerbach will be remembered, ESPN.com reports that the Celtics will make a tribute to the fallen legend: "The Boston Celtics will wear a black clover leaf on their uniforms for the upcoming season as a tribute to former coach and general manager Red Auerbach, who died Saturday of a heart attack at age 89.

The clover will appear on the right side of the jersey and will be inscribed with the word "Red" in green lettering."

Important

ESPN Classic is showing the epic game five from the 1976 C’s/Suns Finals…right now. Tommy Heinsohn looks terrified on the bench. Cowens recently drove to the hoop strong. And the third quarter just ended with the score Boston 77, Phoenix 72. Check it out.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

More on Red

A lot has been said about Red Auerbach in the last 24 hours and rightfully so. My favorite article thus far comes from the Boston Globe’s Bob Duffy. The piece looks at the birth of the victory cigar and Auerbach’s coaching tactics as well. Enjoy:

“Auerbach instructed his players that if they detected indecision on the part of a referee as to who was entitled to possession on an out-of-bounds call, they should run over and pick it up, conveying the impression that there was no doubt possession was theirs.

If the other team had a high scorer, Auerbach would tell his players to emphasize to the scorer's teammates that they were superfluous because he was taking all the shots.

When an official awarded the ball to the opponents, he'd order his players not to throw it directly to a player on the other team. Rather, they should throw it slowly to the official so the Celtics would have more time to get set on defense.

On the road, he would wait until the hosts started warming up and then request their basket, which is the visitor's prerogative.

Less delicately, Auerbach noted, grabbing or pulling on an opponent's uniform -- shirt or shorts -- could be a great distraction.” – Bob Duffy

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Red Auerbach: 1917-2006

The man invented the victory cigar. He built 16 championship teams. When Wilt Chamberlain got the first $100,000 contract, Red gave Bill Russell $100,001. The fact that Rick Pitino stole Red's role as President is probably the strongest charge against the Ricktator. It’s like when Duquette kicked Pesky out of the dugout. But I digress. This is about Red. And he lived one hell of a life. Rest in peace.

Celtics Update

Mark Murphy’s recent Celtics Notebook was a veritable treasure trove of information.

1. Tony Allen was relieved to have his contract extended, which was done in part because of his specialty as a defender.

2. Theo Ratliff is probably going to miss the opener but everybody else looks good.

3. Doc Rivers actually said, “He looked great” in reference to Brian Scalabrine. Weird. Also word on the street is we'll see more Scalabrine than we want because he's an experienced big man. Please get healthy Theo.

4. Michael Olowokandi had to miss practice to visit his daughter who has pneumonia.

5. The Celtics organization is on a sanitation mission due to the spread of bacteria that recently sidelined Delonte West and Paul Pierce. I can’t make that up.

More Tony Allen

Nine times out of ten I am far more interested in interesting human stories than human-interest stories. There is a difference. Anything written about Ron Artest falls into the former while Mark Murphy’s profile of Tony Allen is clearly the latter. Despite my prejudice, I liked reading up on Allen’s background. And given the Celtics decision to pick up his option one can assume that his legal problems will get worked out. If not his mother’s take, “I’m just so thrilled, because statistically, such a high percentage of African-American men are incarcerated. And Tony isn’t one of those statistics” will be more depressing than anything.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Random NBA stuff

I do not know much about Rick Telander. I have heard of his book Heaven is a Playground but have not gotten around to reading it. Furthermore, I’m not entirely sure how the commentary from his posse, the “Heaven Boyz” will play out over on ESPN. But it sure is off to a great start with Stephon Marbury’s analogy about the 2005-2006 New York Knicks:

"I mean, it's kind of like when you put white clothes and yellow clothes and blue clothes and all of them different type clothes together when you're supposed to wash them separately. It's kind of like that. When the white clothes came out, you were like, 'Damn, why did I do that? That was a mistake.' It's kind of like that, but everything happens for a reason. Nothing happens just because. But I think everyone learned a lot from this year. I know for myself, I did.”

And don’t miss the Jalen Rose, a.k.a. “The Natural”, commentary.

Cut down day

The blockbuster three for one trade did not happen. Instead Danny Ainge finally had to play a hand. Luke Jackson and Brian Grant are out while Tony Allen is on the books for one more season. Let’s play some basketball.

ESPN Classic

I’ll be the first to admit that ESPN classic is hit or miss. Last week I caught parts of a Virginia/UNC football game from the Ronald Curry era. I say “parts” because I just could not get into the relatively unremarkable 20-17 final. However, all was forgiven when I caught part of a Bulls/Cavs game from March of 1988. I say “part” because I had to go to work. It was riveting for several reasons:

1. Michael Jordan was still in the phase where it looked like his younger brother was playing for him. It’s not quite the 1986 playoffs against the Celtics, which David Halberstam described so well. But it’s a far cry from the championship years.

2. Jordan made a reverse dunk, dribbled behind his back from his right hand to his right hand (far more remarkable if you see it) and converted a steal into a fast break lay up attempt which resulted in him converting his own miss. This all happened in a relatively short period of time.

3. Despite his brilliance Jordan looked painfully mortal at times. I often forget that as his career fades into history.

4. I was almost believed that Mark Price lent his uniform to Michael J. Fox for the game. Only Price’s basketball skills convinced me otherwise.

5. It actually looks like Charles Oakley let his younger brother play as well.

For the most part I think ESPN Classic knows what it is doing. It certainly is not the train wreck that SportCenter has become. That said “a classic” has to be one of two things. Either a bona fide ridiculous game like last Saturday’s Michigan State/Northwestern match up and to a lesser extent Notre Dame/UCLA. Or it has to have a marquee performer at his best such as Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan, Len Bias, Larry Bird, Mike Vick, Randy Moss, Doug Flutie, Tom Brady, you get the idea. After ten minutes of watching I should know why the game is on. That’s all I ask.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tony Allen

Now that pre-season games are over and opening night is just under a week a way, it will be interesting to watch what stories dominate the next six days. You can expect media coverage in some way, shape or form of trade rumors, Telfair’s ill fated trip to Justin’s, Pierce’s finger, roster cuts, the young Celtics and Ratliff’s back. However, as Mark Murphy’s recent article shows Tony Allen’s contract status deserves some focus as well. The Celtics have until October 31st to pick up the option on Allen’s contract as they did with his draft classmates, Delonte West and Al Jefferson. Although of the three only Allen has a pending trial. Currently Danny Ainge remains vague and non committal while Allen is saying all the right things and focusing on basketball and Playstation. In the words of Homer Simpson,

“Now we play the waiting game. Aw the waiting game sucks. Let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippo!”

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Pierce's finger

Shira Springer’s recent installment in the Celtics notebook recaps the loss to New Jersey and Pierce’s finger infection. Unfortunately, due to the circumstances, Springer can only outline the uncertainties of Pierce’s status. When the Patriots are tight lipped about their plans I assume it will work out. That’s what three Super Bowls gets you. When the Celtics are vague…moving on. How about this fantastic out of context quote from Springer’s article?

“Team officials want to make sure Pierce is completely healthy when the games count next week. Also, in light of Delonte West recently missing games with a toe infection, the Celtics want to make sure infections do not spread throughout the team.”

If I had this quote standing alone in a blog entry, even with the Delonte West toe information, one could possibly assume that it was connected with the new Celtics dance team.

Gamble, no not Kevin

Steve Bulpett mentioned an interesting gambling development in his recent Celtics roundup. Apparently the Celtics and the Massachusetts State Lottery are launching a new instant ticket, “Boston Celtics Green.” Doc Rivers made light of the new development, “I hope that’s the last time we’re mentioned in the same sentence with any lottery.” Apparently the comedy is free. Anyways, in my experience as a liquor store employee I always found the scratch ticket crowd far more depressing than the alcoholics and nicotine fiends. But if this attracts more Celtics fans I'm all for it.

Quest for Influence

I had influence for a day and then it disappeared. I don’t quite understand what influence is but I know that I want it. It’s like being fifteen and thinking about sex. Well not fifteen now. More like eight now, but you get the point.

Paul Shirley revisited

I knew it would be a long shot, particularly given the nature of my question. However, I had to try. So on Monday I posted the following on Paul Shirley’s ESPN.com chat:

“I am a huge Celtics fan. I have also followed you since your days with the Suns. Therefore I'd love to know your thoughts on one question: How much of a jerk was Mark Blount in camp? I can revisit the Mark Blount voodoo doll if necessary. Actually two questions. Did anyone give Eddie Griffin a hard time about his car accident? That's a comedic gold mine. Good luck with your next step.”

Of course there was no response. Yes it took me two days to get over it. But I undertood. The guy did not want to burn his bridges. Also Shirley raised an important point in his chat: teams are trying to get rid of players. They are not looking to take guys on. In a related story it is time to put a moratorium on rumors that include Scalabrine and “Insert young Celtics player here” for a borderline All-Star in return. It’s not going to happen.

Vegas, Baby! Vegas!

I am not the first person to call for an NBA team in Las Vegas. And there are better names than the “Las Vegas Hustlas” out there. But has anyone considered a possible owner? Anyone besides me that is. No worries. I did my research and found the one man qualified for the job…Suge Knight. I know what you’re thinking, “Suge’s been arrested numerous times, he recently filed for bankruptcy, he created an atmosphere of violence and fear Death Row Records, he killed Biggie…” Blah blah blah. When you get caught up in minor indiscretions you miss out on the picture. Do you think Suge had money before Death Row Records? Of course not. But he can return to his roots and raise the capital through a mixture of drugs, blackmail and corporate sponsorship. We just need a scenario that makes him the majority owner. And that’s when things get interesting. Consider the following:

1. Suge could recreate his alleged Vanilla Ice balcony stunt with Brian Scalabrine playing the role of the “Ice Ice Baby” superstar. Why is Suge helping a rival team? Take your fancy logic and reasoning skills elsewhere. This is officially the plan until someone comes up with a better way to get Scalabrine’s contract off the books.

2. Suge could rework his legendary attack on Puff Daddy from the 1995 Source awards into a thinly veiled insult of Mark Cuban, “Anyone out there who wanna' be a NBA playa, but don't want to worry about his owner trying to be all in the locker room, all on court, hovering near the timeouts, dancing, come to Las Vegas."

3. VH-1 can use the buzz around Suge and to replay the “Death Row Behind the Music”, which is the “ESPN Sports Century - Jim Brown" of its genre. That’s a good thing. In fact if they released the Death Row story in theaters I’d buy a ticket.

4. The way they build casinos in Vegas you know they could have an NBA style arena by 2008. And who can opt out of his current contract at the end of the 2007-2008 season? Ron Artest of course. Think about it.

5. Vegas! Artest! The NBA! Awesome.

Quite Frankly

1. Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith seems like a really long show when you watch it.

2. Chris Bosh is skinny. In fact he kind of looks like a thinner, younger Robert Parrish.

3. Mark Berman of the NY Post and Stephen A. Smith both mocked the Celtics.

4. Berman and Smith envision the Nets in the Eastern Conference Finals.

5. Forget Berman and Smith. I'm drinking the Celtics Kool-Aid. Boston will make the playoffs. There I said it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

C's/Nets - 10/24/06

A few thoughts about tonight’s game:

1. Starting November 1st Allan Ray will not be taking any last second shots with the Celtics trailing by two.

2. There is no quit in this Celtics team thus far. I recognize that the stars were out but still appreciate the team’s competitive nature, particularly at the point guard position.

3. There is some talk of Pierce’s infected finger keeping him out of the season opener. I hope this is a panicked exaggeration with little connection to reality.

4. If you have not seen The Departed yet do so, tomorrow. I mean it.

5. I always enjoy the commercials featuring Celtics players reminiscing or responding to questions. In the most recent spot Pierce, Allen, Rondo and Gomes talk about basketball hoops from their youth. However, the bigger point here is that it has been two years since the following epic exchange about Black History Month:

“What do you think of when you here Black History?” – Random questioner
“History.” – A profound sounding Gary Payton

6. Towards the end of the FSN telecast Tommy and Mike looked at a video montage of close Celtics games from last year. Boston was 12-21 in games decided by five points or less. Improvement in this area will be the difference the playoffs and the lottery.

7. I am not ready to rationally discuss Doc's recent thoughts on a rotation (registration needed). The following quote makes me nauseas.

"I'm not worried about a rotation. There's going to be guys who play and there's going to be guys who aren't [playing]. That might change night to night. We're not that type of a team [that can handle a rotation]. How can you have a rotation when you have eight guys who are the same age and haven't even proven themselves? That's the point I'm trying to make." - Doc Rivers

Tuesday - Old School NBA Moment

Michael Jordan met with Bulls’ management and doctors during the 1986 season to make his case for returning from a broken foot. He wore prescription glasses to the meeting to make himself appear serious. Awesome.

Luke Jackson is smart

One summer in college I worked as a house painter and a clerk at a liquor store. It was very cool to get two paychecks. Of course I had to work two jobs. Which brings me to Luke Jackson. Thanks to the Boston Herald and Celtics Blog (linked to it first) for getting us into Jackson’s mind. As Steve Bulpett reported,

“Luke Jackson would like to stay with the Celtics, but his prospects are bright even if he doesn’t make the roster. He’ll still earn just shy of $2.1 million this season from his present contract, and may be able to double-dip by choosing another team.”

Getting two different checks for working one job is lights years ahead of my summer set up. Though the money is similar. The NBA, it's FAAAAAAAANNNNNTASTIC!

Trade Rumors

Carlos Boozer for Theo Ratliff and Al Jefferson. Is that a good deal? Let's take a look at Carlos Boozer.

Positives:

1. He has been a double double machine at points in his career.

2. Once uttered the line, “There are two ways to argue with a woman and they both don’t work.”

Negatives:

1. If I told you an NBA player appeared in 83 games you would think, “Okay so he missed some time. But then came back for the playoffs and his team was knocked out in the first or second round.” What if those appearances were spread out of two seasons? That is Carlos Boozer.

2. Needless to say, he’s injury prone.

3. The fans in Utah turned on him. Utah!

4. His own coach recently called him out for being the stereotypical score 22 points and give up 26 player. In several pre-season games Boozer's man has been the leading scorer for Utah's opponent.

5. Search the Internet for a long list of jokes revolving around chest hair and stabbing a blind man in the back.

6. Perhaps he should spend more time focusing on his game and less time filing lawsuits against Prince of all people. Wow the Smoking Gun and Charlie Murphy in the same sentence. I should stop right now.

7. He has a terrible contract.

Analysis:

Based on the number of positive and negative points I think you can guess where this is going. Granted it may be enticing to get rid of the highly paid, injury prone Ratliff. But keep in mind Boozer’s unwieldy contract is two seasons longer than Theo’s. And in the end this deal comes down to how the Celtics feel about Jefferson. Is he the power forward of the future or a talented youngster who will never reach his potential? It’s tough to say. However, Big Al has mainly been criticized for his poor defensive play and injuries. Sounds a lot like Carlos Boozer minus the terrible contract. If we’re going to move any of the youth I think we need a proven player in return. And if this deal does go through it’s probably the beginning of the end for Danny Ainge as it will be the culmination of a Mormon conspiracy so deep and twisted I dare not even blog about it in detail.

Monday, October 23, 2006

My so-called favorite non-Celtics player

Sunday was a dark day for everybody’s favorite fringe NBA player turned blogger as the Minnesota Timberwolves cut Paul Shirley. At first I was depressed by the fact that Shirley would not get a chance to return to what made him famous – blogging from the end of an NBA bench. Alas it was not meant to be. But then it was announced that Shirley would be hosting a chat over on ESPN at 4 PM, 36 minutes from now! I am ecstatic. Provided he left with a littler bitterness and his prospects of catching on somewhere else are slim, Shirley could come out swinging. Let’s just say I will be greatly disappointed if Mark Blount’s general attitude and Eddie Griffin’s car DVD collection don’t take a beating.

Coming later today: a Celtics profile, some thoughts on Luke Jackson and my take on the Carlos Boozer rumors

Sunday, October 22, 2006

C's/Knicks - 10/21/06

Top Three Reasons I’m upset that I was nowhere near a TV for this one:

3. Delonte West apparently swatted Eddy Curry in a huge way
2. The Leon Powe experience
1. I’m beginning to develop a deep hatred for TiVo for reasons that aren’t entirely logical. It’s only been 4 days since I ordered it. And I’m pretty sure blogs that four people read can’t successfully wage damaging campaigns against large corporations and LeBron at the same time.

The only way I can explain away my failure to blog on this game is to quote Charles Barkley by way of ESPN.com and the Toronto Star: "Pre-season is a waste of time. Just a way to rip off the fans' money. The regular players only play for a quarter. Let's just play three pre-season games and get going." – Charles Barkley

Oh yeah some guys got cut

Celtics Bandwagon Sucks: you know what?
Celtics Bandwagon: Um what?
Celtics Bandwagon Sucks: you suck!
Celtics Bandwagon: Thank for making that clear, I wasn't sure how you felt
Celtics Bandwagon Sucks: You call yourself a Celtics blogger
Celtics Bandwagon: Seems to be implied by the title
Celtics Bandwagon Sucks: What about the recent cuts?
Celtics Bandwagon: I guess it’s not that interesting or surprising
Celtics Bandwagon: especially with Pittsnogle
Celtics Bandwagon Sucks: Akingbala is a big deal
Celtics Bandwagon: easy there, they didn’t just cut the second coming of the chief
Celtics Bandwagon Sucks: well yeah but shira said he might make it
Celtics Bandwagon: it’s a numbers game
Celtics Bandwagon Sucks: well this stuff should be in your blog
Celtics Bandwagon: now it is
Celtics Bandwagon Sucks: okay, you still suck
Celtics Bandwagon: check this out
Celtics Bandwagon Sucks: that was pretty cool, even if you suck
Celtics Bandwagon: I have naked pictures of your sister

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Bias Tribute

Look at how high Bias is off the court. You can catch the rest of the tribute here. Other highlights:

1. I wish dunking were something I picked up in junior high school. Although I had the market cornered on awkward conversations with girls. I shouldn’t be greedy.

2. Beth Alvarez seems to have a bit of a crush on Bias.

3. “I’m biased” fits in with a long tradition of goofy 80s catchphrases.

4. The best part about the jump shot, steal, dunk sequence against UNC? The fact that he reversed the dunk just because he could.

5. "He was really a bigger, stronger, more advanced version of Michael Jordan." - Seth Davis, Sports Illustrated

6. Len Bias was the man.

Parenting 101

Recognizing that I already linked to this in my last post and accepting the fact that I'm coming dangerously close to making this a Gilbert Arenas blog, I just had to highlight two portions of the Arenas blog. And in the process announce that he is my new favorite non-Celtics player unless Paul Shirley hangs on in Minnesota. And even then it will be close until Shirley mocks Mark Blount in some way. Then all bets are off.

"Since I was small my dad and I have always been friends. He was never really hard on me. He never really pushed me to basketball. It was like, 'Dad, can I play?' And he straight told me, 'You suck. You’re not good enough for this team! You can sit over there and be my assistant coach.' So I used to get teased all the day, and when he leave I used to go practice by myself. And then one day I had the opportunity to prove him wrong and I did...We just end up arguing about the dumbest things in the world. Like, after a game, and he thought I played bad, oh, I have to hear it. I’m gonna hear it. The first name he brings up every time: Dwyane Wade. 'Well, did you see what Dwyane Wade did tonight? Dwyane Wade has four dunks, three reverse lay-ups, if you was talented like him …' and I’m like 'Man!' And I’ll be like, 'Dad, are you going to come to any of the games?' He’s like, 'No. You guys are playing the Bobcats and the Grizzlies. I’m gonna come when Dwyane Wade comes to town or Kobe.' He just wants to see those players. He’ll look at the schedule and be like, 'Oh yeah, we got four good games. I got Dwyane Wade, I got Kobe, LeBron, A.I. coming to town … I’m coming.' Any other week, he never wants to come." - Gilbert Arenas

I love the fact that Arenas doesn't consider being told he sucks tough parenting.

I'm in

Here's a quick way to get me interested in a blog: "Congratulations! You get to go into the mind of me, Gilbert Arenas, of the Washington Wizards. Good luck." That's all it takes. So thank you NBA, Washington Wizards, True Hoop (for the link), Arenas of course and anyone else responsible for making a dream come true. If you think about it the Gilbert Arenas experience is a lot like the Ron Artest experience except for the fact that I feel entertained for the right reasons and no one gets hurt.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The NBA and the Second Amendment

It’s official. The Sebastian Telfair robbery story has legs. Everyday there is a new twist. “Police investigating Telfair.” “Telfair a Victim.” “Telfair has a fiancĂ©e? What about the groupies?” Perhaps I made that last one up to lighten the mood. You can’t blame me. In less than a week it has reached T.O. status. I just don’t care. By all accounts Telfair was in the wrong place at the wrong time with a substantial investment around his neck. Unfortunately someone else, a rapper no less, got shot in the vicinity a few hours later. That coupled with Telfair’s previous gun toting misstep has led to a slew of articles on NBA players with guns. Whether it’s Zach Randolph street racing in downtown Portland, Lonny Baxter hanging out near the White House, or Stephen Jackson and friends at their favorite Gentlemen’s Club, various NBA players carry guns. I get it. So thank you Mark Murphy for shedding some light on guns in the NBA while the Boston Herald provided the sweet picture to the right. Once again I am reminded of the documentary Scared Straight!: “It’s not paranoia when it’s real!” The highlight:

“I’ve been followed in my car before - a few times - coming home from the game. I’ve re-routed how I go, and they still followed me. Sometimes when I get home it’s three or four in the morning. I’m scared of going in the house. I’m out there in the woods, and it’s pitch black.” – Paul Pierce

It’s easy to portray the NBA in a negative light. Often times players bring it on themselves. But as Delonte West rightly points out, “People know who you are, and who you know. You’re an NBA player, and that can bring things out in people.” At the end of the day I could live off of their meal money so I’m not starting a pity parade. But it’s something to think about as we wait the day when an NBA player’s posse member kills another NBA player.

Friday - YouTube Clip of the Week

This incredibly repetitive clip looks at the battle between Jason Richardson and Desmond Mason from the 2002 Dunk Contest (Sound) with some Gerald Wallace thrown in for reasons that are still unclear. Personally I approach dunk contests the same way my college offensive line coach approached football:

"Coach, you gonna watch the XFL tonight?" - Player

"Oh yeah, you could put a bunch of blind midgets out there, and if they were playing football, I’d watch." – Coach

However, if dunk contests are not your thing skip to the 3:52 mark where Richardson throws down a pretty ridiculous reverse. Shortly after Richardson celebrates with then teammate Gilbert Arenas. Right around the 4:03 mark Arenas does an interesting, albeit brief dance. Cracks me up. And what about the Richadson/Arenas dynamic? Was Richardson at least somewhat relieved to see the shot happy Arenas leave town? Or was it more like when Orlando traded Steve Francis’ buddy Cuttino Mobley? Keep in mind that from a shots perspective any gains Richardson made were nullified with the arrival of Baron Davis. Although I’m guessing that Richardson doesn’t have to worry about Davis stealing his uniform before games. Though I think we all can agree that Arenas is a marketing genius.

“You know how I always throw my jersey into the stands after a game? In Washington, they just go crazy for it. So in this commercial, that's what I'm gonna do with my shoes. I've just hit a game winner, and I throw these shoes. Everyone starts to react, and you see everything in slow motion. Everyone's pushing, shoving, doing whatever it takes to try to get to these shoes. People from the 400 level, they're jumping off the ledge, they're missing the pile, hitting nothing but chairs, and you can just see in people's faces like, Ooooh, that hurt. While all this stuff's going on, one of the shoes pops out of the crowd, and a little girl gets it and she takes off. A couple of people see she has it, and they start chasing her, and she's looking back running—and then she gets clotheslined by a kid in a wheelchair. So he picks the shoe up and says—he's gonna have the only line in there—"They said I couldn't get it. Heh. Impossible is nothing." And then he rolls off.” – Gilbert Arenas shoe commercial idea.

Special thanks to Deadspin, True Hoop and of course Esquire for the epic Gilbert Arenas profile.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

"Say 'ello to my little friend!"

Let’s ignore the fact that gamespot.com gave the following lukewarm review: "Once you get over the whole rewriting-the-end-of-the-movie thing, Scarface: The World Is Yours is a competent but usually uninteresting action game."

This is huge. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Cribs you know what I mean. Meanwhile, Al Harrington and Jonathan Bender have to be bitter about this game coming out 7 years too late.

Thursday - Picture of the Week

I selected this picture as a reminder that Tim Duncan is still pretty good. Sure our lasting image of him from the Dallas series is not good. But he did have plantar fasciitis. Somehow the Big Fundamental has gotten lost in all the talk about Amare Stoudemire’s knees, Tracy McGrady’s back, Paul Pierce's hip, Yao Ming’s toe, Kobe Bryant’s knee, Mark Blount’s heart, Andrew Bogut’s torn ligament, Pau Gasol’s foot and even Jared Jeffries’ wrist. Meanwhile Duncan has been rehabbing, biding his time, prepping to take the league by storm. DeSagana Diop, the rest of league’s forwards and centers and the Boston Celtics franchise (just for old times’ sake): You’ve been warned.

Orien Greene finds a home?

“I love the guy. He don't say much. He's a lot like [Danny] Granger in that way. They keep their mouths shut and just go out and work their butts off." – Larry Bird on Orien Greene.

I can almost see Bird’s thought process on this one: “He works hard, he plays good defense, when he was arrested he didn’t fire a gun…”

But I’m not sure how the Pacers are talking themselves into Greene’s offense or lack thereof. Although Bird is the only person outside of David Stern, numerous NBA lackeys and the people at Spaulding who thinks the new ball is a good idea. I’m not sure where his head is right now.

Paranoia

I always thought one of the prisoners from the 1978 documentary Scared Straight! had an interesting take on paranoia and prison, “It’s not paranoia when it’s real!” I bring this up because Marty Burns’ recent piece on Isiah Thomas brought paranoia to a whole new level. The article revolves around Thomas’ displeasure over Greg Anthony’s draft day criticism of Renaldo Balkman. This type of thing isn’t that unusual. You may recall when Mark Cuban squared off against Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley last fall. So Thomas questioned Anthony’s competence as both a TV commentator and NBA player:

“Greg Anthony should never ever be in a position to question myself on anything about basketball. I do remember the kind of player he was. I'll leave it at that.” - Isiah Thomas

What’s the big deal? Well Thomas went on to connect seemingly benign questions to his new found disdain for Anthony. Consider the following exchanges:

1. “When asked whether he could see Balkman someday defending LeBron James or Tracy McGrady, Thomas replied, ‘Wait a minute, hold on now ... you can run him out there but he'll probably get stepped on a little bit ... Unlike Greg Anthony, I do have respect for others.’"

2. “When asked about the Knicks' dismal season a year ago, and what role all the injuries played, Thomas said, ‘We all were in a funk last year ... Greg Anthony was in a funk.’”

3. "Later, when talking about Balkman's ability to handle the ball, a reporter jokingly asked if he had a better handle than Greg Anthony. ‘Most definitely,’ Thomas said. ‘Greg could only go left.’”

That last one was a bit of a set up but I sense a theme. It’s going to be a long year if Thomas decides to go after his critics in this manner. Who’s next? Steven A. Smith? Tim Legler?

Furthermore, there is a much bigger issue lost in Thomas' venting. Regardless of Balkman’s encouraging start and the home crowd warming up to him, it was a bad pick. I’m all for the Bill Parcells line of thinking that you have to forget when a player was drafted and simply analyze what he can do for your team. But nobody had Balkman in the first round. In fact this is actually more about the Knicks drafting Mardy Collins nine picks later. Let’s say the Knicks held off on Balkman until the 29th pick and then selected Rajon Rando (21), Marcus Williams (22) or even Jordan Farmer (26) with the 20th pick. Wouldn't the Knicks be better off?

Also how many former players (pictured right) can Thomas detest? It’s not healthy.

Finally, how about that Scared Straight! reference? I’m still flying high from that. Did you know that Peter Falk narrated it and according to IMDB.com it was broadcast uncensored in the late 1970s? That meant commercial broadcasters sat back and watched the F bomb get dropped willingly for the first time. Fuck.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Celtics Blog lays down the gauntlet?

“They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, so I’m blushing more and more these days. First the Globe stole my “Celtics Blog” name, then they introduced a gaggle of 3 staff members to maintain a “fan blog.” Yep, it took 3 of them to compete with me and they still only pump ‘em out once or twice a week. Over the summer, I watched several blogs crop up out of nowhere, bringing the total to somewhere over 10 (the most in the NBA).” – Jeff Clark on Celtics Blog

I really considered a Celtics Blog/Celtics Bandwagon feud. However, cooler heads prevailed. Why am I backing down? To the untrained eye one would think that Celtic Blog’s superior format, numerous posts a week, something called influence and a little thing called readers detered me. But in the words of Terrible Terry Tate, “That don’t faze me!” The real reasons?

1. It’s a little early in my blogging career to make enemies. Outside of Lebron that is.
2. It’s not like it’s a Laker’s blog.
3. They have a lot of good links over there.
4. If I were going to engage in a guerilla style war for the hearts and minds of Celtics fans I wouldn’t openly declare it. You think the Midwest knew the Russians and Cubans were coming in Red Dawn? I think not. So I’ll be off in the corner working on my posts and influence.
5. Wolverines!

C's/Nets - 10/18/06

In honor of Hondo I’m thowing out 17 random observations from tonight’s game:

1. Leon Powe is a bad man. I love the fact that he refused to smile after the game. He also was not trapped by Greg Dickerson’s questions. If Powe ends up in the D League I will buy a hooded sweat-shirt for whatever team he lands on. So that’s settled.

2. Gerald, Perkins and Al love to foul people.

3. Someone has to get traded.

4. I’m all for not getting too excited over a preseason game. Let’s be honest the Celtics closed with four guys who will definitely make the team (Allen, Telfair, Rondo and Gomes) and Powe. And while Powe has some knee issues he’s never been in a life threatening motorcycle accident (Jay Williams). Furthermore, at one point Williams was the most impressive Net on the floor. So I’m not buying my playoffs tickets just yet. However, when Felger goes negative I get angry. I’m putting the over/under at 10 for the number of times Felger has been punched in the face during his life.

5. Did Clifford Robinson really need those minutes? If I was looking for something out of a 17-year veteran I’d limit his time in the preseason. But that’s just me.

6. I’m showing a lot of respect for Powe if he does in fact end up on the Florida Flames. There are places in this country where you get beat up for wearing stuff like that.

7. By the way I’m taking the over on the Felger line. It was not a difficult decision.

8. “A lot and not enough. He understands where the pieces go but he hasn’t seen them gel yet. You know what I mean?” - Donny Marshall on what Doc knows about this team.

I’ve actually taken it easy on Marshall because my negative energy has been channeled towards Tanguay, Felger, Gresh (he doesn’t even do Celtics coverage) and other FSN personalities. But I have no idea what Marshall meant by that quote. It’s definitely not one of those Yogi Berra statements that somehow make sense like “Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.” Also, I think it’s time to shelve the Marshall Plan. We’re not rebuilding post World War II Europe here. We’re trying to win basketball games. Although I do tip my hat to Marshall for implying that the city that never sleeps got the best of the C’s and resulted in the first half sluggishness. In conclusion does posting that Marhall/Kenyon Martin picture make me a bad person?

9. Rajon Rondo is getting way too much positive buzz right now. I love the energy but he’s going to hit the wall at some point. Okay I’m just being negative to drive down his fantasy value because one of the three people who read this blog is in my league. You got me.

10. Who would you rather have on your team right now, Ryan Gomes or Emeka Okafor? I think you still have to go with Okafor. He did win rookie of the year and he's due for a bounce back year. Careful though. When it's all said and done you don’t want to feel like this, “I’ve explained it a thousand times. I fucked up. I didn't take Ryan Gomes. Does that make you happy?" – Jim Calhoun

11. As you can probably tell Rondo and Gomes have established themselves as the guys I can’t think rationally about. Apologies to Tony Allen and Gerald Green.

12. Even after recognizing that the C’s were essentially playing 5 on 3 at the end of the game and most teams have quality big men that will abuse small ball, I still enjoyed it. To borrow a line from Gino Cappelletti and Gil Santos, the Celtics defense “looked like jail break at Sing Sing.”

13. As the year’s pass Tommy’s love affair with Walter McCarty becomes harder and harder to explain.

14. You can always count on Tommy to reference the General when a guard throws in a floater. It’s the little things in life that comfort me.

15. You think Allan Ray sleeps well tonight?

16. I think Jason Kidd still hates Celtics fans.

17. I know I’m not the first one to make this type of joke but what the hell? Lawrence Frank definitely leads all NBA coaches in the following categories: Carded when attempting to purchase alcohol and atomic wedgies from players. Thank you. You've been wonderful. I'll be here all week.

Easy there big guy

“I'm officially declaring war on either Lopez (if he made the pick and somehow knew that Rondo was a mega-sleeper, which is exceedingly doubtful) or the pipsqueak intern from NBA.com who drafted Lopez's team and knew I liked Rondo (overwhelmingly possible). Well, you listen to me, pipsqueak intern. I'm going to find out your name. It might take a day, it might take a week, it might take five years, but I'm going to find out your name. Then I'm coming after you. And I'm not stopping until you're either dead, framed for a murder or reassigned to the WNBA.com Web site. Then you can tell everyone there how you stole Rondo from me as you're fetching them New York Liberty attendance stats. You hear me? Nobody grabs my sleeper. How dare you.” – Bill Simmons in a recent mailbag describing his disappointment over losing out on Rondo in his celebrity fantasy basketball draft.

I’ve always seen the avalanche of Simmons criticism as a form of jealousy. So this is not an outright attack. However, perhaps he should take a few deep breaths and reconsider his role in the universe.

And if you wondering why I can’t really attack Simmons it’s because he still throws the fastball at times. From last spring:

“Sonics free-agent pickup Marcus Fizer on what he learned in the D-League this season: ‘I'm a lot smarter now. I thought I had all the answers. I had much success in college and, of course, being an instant millionaire you are going to think you have all the answers. ... I have an 8-year-old, a 7-year-old, 5-year-old and 2-year-old. Family values are important to me. You know what's not as important though? Condoms.’

(All right, I made that last part up. But he really did say everything else. See, the D-League can do some good: Marcus Fizer is a lot smarter now!)”

That condoms line still kills me.

Red Flags in Sports

Red Flags:

1. Half way through a baseball season you sit back and realize the centerfielder who is tearing it up and carrying the team was traded for a light hitting shortstop, has a reasonable salary and has already been in three organizations. As a bonus he does not believe in dinosaurs or aspirin.
2. A player on your favorite football team regularly hangs out with Odell Thurman and Chris Henry.
3. A baseball player on your favorite team shows up for spring training in 2005 twenty pounds lighter and lacking his old power.
4. Your basketball team trades a player in part because his behavior in the practice facility makes the front office fear for the safety of young building blocks Eddie Curry and Tyson Chandler.

What can we assume about the players in the above scenarios?

1. Crazy
2. Criminal
3. Former roid user.
4. Will eventually spark a brawl that will ruin one franchise and have widespread affects (tightened security, dress code, etc.) across the NBA.

This brings me to Telfair’s recent escapades. By all accounts he did nothing to deserve the chain robbery. Furthermore, people fail to realize that NBA players have a lot of time to kill. Given that they only have to be at their best from 6-11 at night, it’s easy to see why basketball players keep different schedules than the average fan. So I’m not overly concerned that he was dining at Justin’s. Allegedlly the incident occured at 10 P.M. which gave him plenty of time to rest up for games on back-to-back nights. Although there are safer places to hang out with $50,000 around one’s neck. And let's not forget that someone was shot (Fabolous, pictured left). Have we learned nothing from Tony Allen? But I digress. More importantly I get nervous when guys dress for a game and leave at the half. Granted Telfair wasn’t in a car accident. But if he flames out in Boston and moves on to star in Miami, a.k.a. “The Irving Fryar”, I won’t handle it well. The only positive about this hypothetical situation is that I won’t have to listen to my dad repeatedly say, “Why can’t we get players like that?” He stopped watching the Celtics years ago. But back to reality. As I watched the Knicks game last night I knew there was something fishy about Telfair not returning to the bench. I put it out of my mind at the time but did they think the real story would not get out? It’s 2006. With Deadspin, 24-hour news and every jackass with Internet access writing a blog…wait that’s me. Damn.

Some final thoughts:

1. Will Rondo and Telfair develop into some sort of good son/bad son combination?
2. Will Allan Ray do everything in his power to injure Luke Jackson?
3. Will Leon Powe seek vengeance on Doc for implying that the warrior from Cal is a slow learner?
4. Will Olowakandi make the team?

Wednesday - Book Review

Soul Influence – Basketball, Corporate Greed and the Corruption of America’s Youth by Dan Wetzel and Don Yaeger

The premise of the book is that Nike and Adidas have upped the ante in the search for the next Michael Jordan creating a cesspool that corrupts all aspects of youth basketball. In the resulting “sneaker wars” no one comes out clean. High school coaches, AAU coaches, prep school coaches, college coaches, sneaker executives, family members and NCAA officials are all shady. Meanwhile, the sneaker corporations have their own summer camps (meat markets), sponsor teams at numerous levels (AAU, high school, college) and even sponsor whole colleges. In the process free gear and money change hands while players are steered to camps and most likely schools. Wetzel and Yaeger conclude that the next Jordan will not be found. They believe today’s stars are spoiled by free gear, trips around the country and the world and never being told “No” from an early age. They point to Jordan getting cut from his high school team and polishing his skills in anonymity. Meanwhile AAU tournaments are glorified AND 1 events. I am intrigued by their theory but feel they miss a crucial point. Michael Jordan was the first black athlete to be marketed in such an aggressive, fresh way. He had street cred, could appease the corporate crowd and his shoes and commercials were cool. Before Jordan there was no Jordan. Now the sneaker market has the Lebrons, Iversons, McGradys, Wades, Garnetts and so on. And the Jordans still exist. Hypothetically speaking if Kobe Bryant came out in 1984 and signed with Nike they'd be searching for the next Kobe. Provided he didn’t rape anyone of course. Overall the book included a number of interesting anecdotes and nuggets of information:

1. Nike started out as a true underdog. It gave free shoes to track athletes and hated smug, corporate, German based Adidas. Now Phil Knight roots for Brazil in soccer against the US because the Brazilians wear Nike. Interestingly the authors seem to do their best to avoid a Phil Knight witch-hunt. And Knight still comes off like a pompous jerk.

2. Sonny Vaccaro (pictured right with Lebron) is a huge part of the sneaker saga. He was a failed gambler who started the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic in 1965, which developed into the dream of all college basketball hopefuls. Thirteen years later he hooked up with a struggling Nike to take on then power Converse. Vaccaro traveled the country and wrote personal checks to coaches. Nike then wired Vaccaro the money and outfitted the teams. His ability to connect Jordan with Nike had huge consequences. Vaccaro eventually left Nike for unexplained reasons for a similar job at Adidas. Steering Kobe to Adidas, symbolized by their draft day hug, remains one of Vaccaro's biggest accomplishments. George Raveling (head shot, left) eventually filled Vaccaro’s vacated Nike post. This is where it gets personal.

3. Raveling was a coach whose ties to Vaccaro go way back. They loved basketball, shared information and became close friends. Raveling was one of the first coaches Nike sponsored via Vaccaro. He was even Vaccaro’s best man. Now they don’t speak. Allegedly Raveling urged Vaccaro to steer the O’Bannons (Ed and Charles) to play for him at USC. Vaccaro refused, saying he never does such things. While it’s hard to believe that Vaccaro does not steer players, the O’Bannons definitely went to UCLA.

4. Tracy McGrady’s initial Adidas contract gave substantial money ($150,000 each) to his Mt. Zion coach and the Adidas rep that discovered him…annually

5. Wesley Wilson chose MCI (Nike) over Winchendon (Adidas) because of sneakers.

6. Regardless of your viewpoint it’s hard to argue that a lot of the players mentioned were names in college and/or the pros. McGrady, Kobe, Carlos Boozer, DeShawn Stevenson, Jonathan Bender, Keith Bogans, DerMarr Johnson, Marcus Taylor, Tyson Chandler, Lamar Odom, Jaron and Kareem Rush and Corey Maggete all make cameos. Although Johnson and the Rush brothers are cautionary tales of what can happen when athletes don’t develop discernable basketball skills/fundamentals.

7. Myron Piggie Sr. may be the shadiest individual in the whole book. That’s saying something. He coached the Rush brothers’ AAU team and loved his time on the Nike pay role. Prior to that Piggie was indicted for several drug charges (selling crack), assault with a deadly weapon on a DEA agent, and gun related felony accounts (attempt to kill, unlawfully exhibiting a firearm). Strangely he only did one year in jail.

8. The book came out in 1999 and devoted a whole chapter to Chamique Holdsclaw’s possible dominance of the female sneaker market. As far as I can tell that has not happened.

9. Professors were enraged by sneaker contracts with college and universities that forbade any kind of criticism of the company. This was particularly hard to take given the conditions in some of the Asian factories.

10. The book also touches on how pedophiles flock to coach youth sports. This is an issue in and of itself that is complicated when they are on the Nike or Adidas payroll. Background checks anyone?

11. The story about Shaq visiting Nike with a scowl on his face and a Reebok jacket on his back is priceless. Of course Shaq was a flop in his attempt to rasie Reebok to Nike levels. Based on the Reebok Shaq Attack (pictured right) it's easy to see why.

12. During the Alonzo Mourning love fest last spring I wish someone recalled Zo's epic quote stemming from his difficulty in signing his first contract with the Hornets: "I work for Nike."

Overall this is an interesting book despite being only an average read. The authors’ goal is to outrage readers about the corruption that exists within youth basketball and urge the NCAA to close the loopholes that make it possible. Although according to Ric Bucher of ESPN, good luck.

Final Grade - C+

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

C's/Knicks - 10/15/06

I only caught segments of tonight’s game, which only proves that Tivo can’t get here soon enough. However, I can make a few observations.

1. As it stands now Pierce’s hip is not a major issue.
2. Speaking of Pierce. It was good to see him at the game. Nice statement.
3. Mike Gorman thinks Allan Ray has a job with the Celtics. Hopefully a roster spot will help him rediscover his shot.
4. Tommy says what we’re all thinking: “Eddy Curry looks a little beefy.” Actually Tommy sugarcoated it. Curry looks fat.
5. I think Renaldo Balkman may benefit from all the criticism that surrounded him last spring. I thought he would be atrocious. But he’s not terrible. Although that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.
6. You know what Renaldo Balkman did not benefit from? Going one spot ahead of Rajon. Rondo’s put back dunk/Reggie Miller imitation sequence was a moment.
7. It was interesting to hear Pierce praise Rondo in part due to the fact that Rajon comes from a good college program (Kentucky). That is not something you hear in an era where overseas talent, high school players (until recently) and mid major programs are in vogue. Of course Pierce is a traditional program guy (Kansas).
8. Pierce also quickly set the record straight on the rumors concerning Luke Jackson’s recent victory in horse. Jackson won but The Truth shot left-handed.
9. There is a lot of buzz surrounding the Kandi Man. This deserves a separate post (coming later in the week).
10. Due to the massive roster, injury precautions and numerous lineups it is difficult to evaluate the Celtics. I think we’re in for another up and down season, with substantial progress from last year.

The Run

Over on the new and improved NBA.com they're advertising a new series called ”The Run”. Tonight’s premiere focuses on Lebron James while other episodes "include Dwyane Wade, who led the Heat on their "run" to the NBA Championship (episode airs Oct. 31) and Elton Brand, on a career-long "run" to get to the playoffs, culminating last season with the Clippers ending their long playoff drought.”

Early reviews skewered the premiere for not living up to the hype. Apparently Lebron showed up in street clothes and refused to take part, despite previous advertising. Yup it’s been 4 days and I’m still bitter.