Tuesday, May 31, 2005

IWe weren't hanging out with Cameron Diaz on Sunday, but we were...

Now that is what I call a weekend. Screw that two days off in a row bullshit, I need at least three quality days in succession if I am to really enjoy my time away from the headaches of work. Of course, this weekend also rendered me somewhat useless when it came to communicating ideas and personal thoughts to anybody other than my dog Tinsley. Besides the normal boozefest that marks the annual start of summer around these parts, some friends and I ran into a local horticulturalist at the bar on Sunday night which led to a very long evening of laughter and dilated pupils courtesy of a certain fungi. Needless to say, I was absolutely useless yesterday, though I did manage to drag myself out of bed in time to enjoy a large plate of ribs later in the afternoon. As for yesterday night's Suns-Spurs game, I was surprised to see the Suns decide to show up even though they were down 3-0. Most teams have their tee times set up for the following morning in a situation like that, but the Suns came out and played their best game of the series when everybody in the building expected them to roll over. Phoenix still doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell to win this series but last night's performance definitely bodes well for the next couple of years in the valley of the sun.

In the interest of giving my brain a break, the rest of today's thoughts will be in the standard bullet point format. Enjoy.

- Manu Ginobili is effin' awesome and a ton of fun to watch but his overly dramtic flops really get on my nerves. I personally thought that he (alone) should've received a technical for his part in the minor dustup between him and Amare Stoudemire last night. I know that it's somewhat unprecedented for a player to receive a tech for an egregious flop but between that and his five second attempted rape on Stoudemire, I thought that a technical was well within reason.

- Unless Detroit can reel off four straight games, it sure looks like my prediction for the Eastern Conference Finals is about as wise as my decision to hold on to all my Jose Canseco rookie cards after his 40/40 season. You won't find a much bigger Dwyane Wade fan than me but I'd be lying if I said that I had any idea that he would be such a dominant force in this series. He continually finds ways to get his shot without forcing too many bad ones or committing too many turnovers (which was his biggest weakness in the regular season). I'm flat out excited about tonight's game.

- I'd planned on writing more today but I just don't have the mental stamina to put together well thought, and coherent sentences at this point in the afternoon so I'll leave you with one last thing that I've been meaning to mention in this space:

The Milwaukee Bucks should draft Andrew Bogut. Here's why: Bogut is a legit NBA center and those kind of guys don't fall into your lap very often, generally about every 15-20 years. Beyond that, the Bucks are going to try and retain the services of Michael Redd this summer and it will be alot easier to sell him on the fact that you're building a winner with a guy like Bogut on board than with somebody like Marvin Williams who is (at least) two years away from being a real contributor on a good Eastern Conference team. I know that alot of people love Williams (Ernie Grunfeld being chief among them) but I , for one, am not completely sold on him at this point. He hasn't shown one specific skill that he excels at and is, in my opinion, a whole lot of potential at this point in his career. He may be athletic enough to be a dominant small forward but I feel like he needs alot of improvement on his perimeter skills before he's ready to be an all-star caliber player in the NBA. Also, don't forget that he completely nutted up during the national championship game just a couple of months ago...I'm just saying.

Furthermore, the two hardest positions to fill in the the NBA are center and point guard and provided that TJ Ford can get back healthy this summer, then the Bucks would have both of those positions locked up for the next ten years or so. Basically, my feeling on who the Bucks should draft comes down to these two questions: How many quality small forwards are there in the NBA? How many quality centers are there in the NBA? In my opinion, a team with as many holes as the Bucks must draft the rarer of commodities if you are looking to win an NBA title at any point in the next 10-15 years. Truthfully, neither of these guys are sure things but I'd rather take my chances on a seven footer with skills and potential than a swingman with still developing skills and potential.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Billy D. and I prefer smooth, rich Colt 45.

Last night's Heat-Pistons game was riveting television on a number of levels...and the game was pretty good too. Stan Van Gundy gets a lot of credit for his enormous dong and his ability to spread a money shot over two, or even three, of his female co-stars faces but rarely do you hear people give him the kind of credit he deserves for the coaching job he's done each of the past two years. You couldn't pick two more different teams in personnel and style of play to coach than the last two versions of the Heat and yet he coached them both to just about the maximum of their ability. The reason I bring any of this up is that his decision to move Dwyane Wade (almost exclusively) to the point last night was fantastic. Damon Jones isn't the kind of point guard who needs the ball in his hands to be a factor, in fact he is much more effective spotting up for open threes. Wade, on the other hand, needs to be able to create his shot with both movement and the dribble. By moving Wade over to the point, Van Gundy allowed Wade to see double teams develop well in advance as well as the ability to push the tempo and find shots for himself and his teammates early on in the shot clock. It should be really interesting to see how Larry Browna nd the Pistons adjust to this wrinkle when the series resumes in two weeks.

Besides the game last night, their were quite a few happenings that raised an eyebrow on a seasoned veteran on playoff basketball viewing like myself, nothing earth shattering but interesting nonetheless. They are as follows:

-NBA referees make some of the latest foul calls that you could ever possibly imagine. It's begun to border on the ridiculous. These are the type of late foul calls that often end up sparking minor donneybrooks during pickup games in less than desirable neighborhoods. If it is a foul then just go ahead and make a damn call, don't wait to see if a shot went in or not. Whether or not a foul should be whistled should never be determined by the aftermath of the foul in question. It takes away from the feel of legitimacy of many of the referees' calls. In a league where conspiracy theories run rampant, this can't be considered a postive...can it?

- Have you seen the horrible Ford commercial where the young black man is showing off his new Ford 500 to a young black woman, only to have the car's actual owner (older more established black man) show up as the young man is forced to back pedal on why he's allowing somebody else to drive his car? Probably. It's not a very good commercial. My problem is that at one point in the commercial the young man describes the interior of the 500 as having "bookoo space"? Are you kidding me? People are still using the word "bookoo" in the urban communities of our nation? I may have not visiited the ghetto all that recently but I would be willing to bet my sweet virgin ass on the fact that the word "bookoo" isn't a regular part of the lingo of today's inner city youth. Jesus.

-Evidently Rasheed Wallace goes by the nickname "Rosco". Wait, it gets better. It's not because Rasheed has a love for Chicken and Waffles (who doesn't?) which may or may not be true. Rather, because none other than J. R. "Isaiah for the ladies" Rider said that Rasheed looked like a dude named Rosco. Mind you, not a specific dude named Rosco, just a dude named Rosco. What are the odds that Rasheed received this nickname from J.R. during a marathon blunt smoking session in one of their Portland area homes? 5-2? Even money? I swear that you can't even make up stories as good as the ones that the NBA supplies us with.

- During NBA Fastbreak last night when the highlights of the Pistons-Heat game were finishing up and Dwyane Wade was scoring his 40th point, Tim Legler uttered, "give him 40". To which Greg Anthony replied "give him an 8 Ball". There's nothing quite like a malt liquor reference on one of the networks in the Disney Television family to cap your night.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

No title here...just like the Suns.

Just a quick post so that I can get to a few things that I wasn't able to address because of the amazing UEFA Cup Championships this afternoon. If you have even a passing interest in soccer of any kind, I encourage you to watch a replay of this classic as it is was as good and exciting a soccer match as you'll ever likely see.

Last night's Spurs-Suns game was a blast to watch. Two team who play very cohesively on the offensive end going back and forth all night long. It's really too bad that (a) Phoenix can't stop anybody when they need to and (b) Joe Johnson isn't going to be (completely) healthy for any of this series. As I said earlier this week, I believe that San Antonio would win this series even if Joe Johnson was playing (that whole no defense thing) but his absence basically seals the fate of Phoenix. Not only does Johnson give Phoenix another great shooter (3rd in 3 pt% in NBA this year) to spread the floor but he is also the backup point guard for the Suns when Nash needs a rest. Without him the Suns are forced to play Leandro Barbosa, who simply isn't ready for this level of competition. Perhaps even more important for Phoenix is that Johnson would be drawing the assignment of Manu Ginobilli during this series. Without Johnson to defend him, Phoenix has nobody who can give Ginobilli the kind of defensive challenge necessary to make his sometimes out of control style work against him and the rest of the Spurs. Purely as a basketball fan, I would've loved to see Johnson play in this series because the games (thus far) have been so damn entertaining and I would absolutely love to see this series go seven games. As it stands now, I can't see this thing going past five.

As for Manu Ginobilli, based on his performances thus far in the playoffs I'd have to say that Ginobilli is the first of the foreign imports with the neccessary skill and heart to be a true late game finisher, and he's using these playoffs to cement that school of thought. Most people (including me) would have pegged either Nowitzki or Stojakovic for this mantle a couple of years back. Yet, with Stojakovic completely dissappearing in the playoffs in each of the past three years and Nowitzki looking like a German version of Chris Webber (not in game but aversion to the spotlight in prime time situations) its safe to say that neither of those guys have the neccessary intangibles to be the kind of player who elevates his own game and those around them in the most crucial of moments. Just another reason to hate Argentinians.

As for tonight, I think that Miami recovers to win but only by pulling away in the fourth as the Pistons day/night off in South Beach ultimately catches up with them. I still don't see this series going past six games.

As I get ready to sit down and watch Game 2, I will leave you with a few words from today's UEFA Cup broadcast that you will never hear during an American sports broadcast...though I think it would be pretty sweet if the guys over at ESPN and TNT could work these games into a broadcast:

Guile: As in Robert Horry doesn't just hit big threes, he also defends the interior with the guile of a seasoned playoff veteran.

Aplomb: Amare Stoudemire finishes with APLOMB!!! (Can't you just hear Kevin Harlan screaming this? I thought so.)

Architect: Steve Nash was the architect of this textbook fastbreak, just watch how the ball never touches the ground.

Ubiquitous: Manu Ginobilli is absolutely ubiquitous on the defensive end.

Enjoy your evening.


Liverpool was just awarded a penalty kick and now have a chance to tie it up with this kick. The kick is ...No Good!!! Oh wait...the kicker banged it back in on the rebound!!! The Scottish announcer is going absolutely ape shit at this point. What a game!! Every American who hates soccer should have to sit down and watch this game. Man this is great drama...though I DO still miss the dead bodies.

Holy Shit!!!

Liverpool has come out int he second half and scored tow goals in the first ten minutes of play. The game is now 3-2 and the Liverpool Limies are going crazy in hte stands in Istanbul. I hear the fans in Constantinople are getting pretty rowdy as well.

It's ovaaa

Seriously, completely over with before halftime. After AC Milan got ahead with an early goal the match seemed to be evening up a bit and Liverpool looked like they might tie it up until they started bitching about a hand ball that really never happened. Of course, while the Liverpool players were pleading their case to the referees AC Milan was flying down to the other end of the pitch and scoring courtesy of two brilliant passes by Kaka and Shevchenko whihc led to the first of Hernan Crespo's two first half goals. At least I have the rest of the afternoon to myself.

If excuses really ARE like assholes, then I must be some type of mutated alien creature.

I made up some bullshit excuse about having a doctor's appt. this morning which has allowed me to get home just in time to watch the UEFA Cup Championship Match between AC Milan and Liverpool. I have no vested interest in either of these teams but I'll go ahead and throw my allegiance Liverpool's way since they are the least traditional power of these two teams. I really just cut out of work because I am a huge slacker and I enjoy watching elite level soccer matches from time to time. So I'm off to eat a little lunch and sit down for the first half of what will (hopefully) be a great match. I'l check back in at halftime. I'm not sure what excites me more, the fact that I'm off work at 2:45 in the afternoon or that I'm getting ot watch this match. Either way, its one hell of a way to spend a wednesday afternoon.

WOW!!! AC Milan just scored a goal in the first 54 seconds on a penalty kick from just outside the box. Liverpool really blew it on the defense of that kick, just didn't acount for any oncoming midfielders. That's it, I'm outta here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


That is exactly how I felt last night when I saw the announcement come over the bottom line that the Magic were hiring Brian Hill as their new head coach. That's just splendid. They're going to go ahead and hire a guy who not only already coached this increasingly moribund franchise, but who was also run out of town by his own players in his previous coaching stint with the Magic. It's understandable since there aren't any viable candidates available for head coaching position this summer...way to aim low boys! I was actually okay with the decision to hire Dave Twardzik as the new G.M. if only because it got John Weisbrod out of basketball and back into something he knows better...like say "tough guys". My thought on Twardzik is that he is a basketball guy (what a revolutionary thought...hiring somebody with actual experience in the business) and he has paid his dues in a couple of different front office positions so we'd might as well give him a shot to prove himself. Hell, he can't be any worse that the Two Johns (Gabriel and Weisbrod).

To be honest, I sincerely hope that Twardzik can make some decent moves this summer and that I'm wrong about Hill. Hill's tenure was a VERY long time ago and he was a victim of Penny Hardaway being one of the biggest bitches of all time, so maybe I'll be surprised by all this guy can bring to the table next year. Currently, all I really know is that Hill never played in the NBA and that is often very hard for players to get past when a guy is berating their defense and questioning their manhood. Though neither Van Gundy had NBA experience going for them and both have made it work well thus far, so its not unprecedented.

Tonight is the NBA Draft Lottery so we should get a pretty good idea of what the Magic will be looking at come June. In a perfect world, the Magic would get Lyle Lovett level lucky and grab the #1 pick in the draft which they would then use to select Andrew Bogut. Now, don't take this to mean that I think Andrew Bogut is going to be a great player...I don't. What I do think is that Bogut's game would be the perfect complement to the ever emerging offensive repetoire of Dwight Howard. Just the thought of Bogut dumping down passes from the high post into Howard on the block practically drives me to self abuse. Alas, it is far more likely that the Magic will end up in the late lotery where they have to chose between some combination of unproven high schooler, unproven Euro, or proven but slightly flawed collegian. More on these possible additions once I get a good look at the draft order this evening.

As for last night, the Pistons did exaclty what I expected them to do on defense and Dwyane Wade reacted just about how I expected him to react. This could very ugly for the Heat if they can't figure out how to free Wade for more quality looks. The only reason that Miami was even in the game last night is because Eddie Jones was playing out of his aging mind. I'll bet my house that Eddie can't do anything like that on consistent basis in this series. The Heat just don't have the overall depth and talent to keep up with the Pistons for 48 minutes. Sorry.

With that said, it was an entertaining game to watch and I took a few notes throughout the evening's festivities...enjoy:

- Rasheed Wallace was absolutely on fire to begint he game last night. I know that Udonis Haslem isn't used to covering guys with legitimate three point range, but after Wallace knocks down a couple Udonis might want to think about getting a hand up on Rasheed when he's floating around the perimeter. As underrated as Haslem is, I think that his matchup with Wallace is easily the biggest mismatch of this series. Wallace has three inches on Haslem, is more athletic and has a much better overall skill set. Haslem has to get in Rasheed's head is he has any hope of evening him out. Now I don't know if that was his strategy but it looked like Haslem was trying to talk it up a little bit with Wallace early on which clearly didn't work out how Udonis had planned. By midway through the third quarter, Wallace was practically screaming at Haslem as he continued to knock down jumpers on the second year man.

-The second biggest mismatch in this series has got to be the Damon Jones vs. Chauncey Billups matchup. Billup is way too big and strong for Jones. He posted up Jones whenever he felt like it last night and his height really bothered Jones' outside shot. It's utterly amazing to me that so many teams just gave up on Billups within, literally, a couple of weeks of acquiring him early in his career.

- At one point last night the Heat had an lottery pick lineup on the floor in Shaq, Mourning, Eddie Jones, Dwyane Wade, and Keyon Dooling. At a completely different juncture, the Pistons had 4 lottery picks on the floor in Rasheed Wallace, McDyess, Hamilton and Billups. I have no idea why I found this interesting.

- Did anybody see Mourning pull an A-Rod while attempting to block Tayshaun Prince's shot? He just grabbed on the net and hung there while trying to get the block (to no avail) and then reacted with incredulity when he was whistled for the techinical. I know that all his peers seem to like the guy but he sure strikes me as a Grade A Dickhead. Between the constant self-promoting histrionics and his unbelievable refusal to play for, not one but, two franchises this year because "he wants to win a championship" there doesn't seem like a less likeable dude in the NBA today. Everybody wants to win a championship buddy, just because you have some kidney disease doesn't give you carte blanche to do whatever you please in an attempt to win that championship. You're a warrior and you work hard...buttons for you. You're still a huge dick.

- Their were an unusually large number of celebrities at the American Airlines Arena last night. I myself noticed Randy Moss, Jamie Foxx and Sean Combs (his name is NOT P. Diddy) sitting courtside by midway through the first half and yet, we never got the random celebrity shots during one of the extended timoeouts. It really doesn't matter to me one way or the other, but why didn't this happen? Is it only something that David Stern allows in New York and LA? Is there a special camera for this sort of thing that TNT crew didn't remember to pack?

Correction: Upon further review of yesterday's column, I need to amend something. I referred to the current programming on VH1 as "countdown shows" when in actuality they are far from countdown shows and would be much better classified as comedy/pop culture history hybrids. Sorry about the mix-up, my four beer lunch got the best of me.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Exactly HOW, is she like the wind?

And...I'm back, for good this time. The local cable mafia came by on Saturday afternoon and installed my new internet connection at the House of the Musings so we're all set and ready to go with the revamped, home edition of Mark's Musings. I'm not gonna lie to you (not in this particular instance, at least) and tell you that I'll be right back in my normal form here this week. As with most elite level athletes (or bloggers in this case) it will probably take me a few days to get my rhythm back, but when I do...ohhh baby! I'm not quite sure what that meant but it definitely sounded good...to me.

Anyway, there's quite a bit of sports related material to get to in the coming week so in an effort to slowly work my self back into shape, I'll keep it light today as I try and get myself back in game shape. Because, as anybody worth a salt will tell you...you just can't simulate game situations.

I didn't get to watch any of the Spurs-Suns tussle yesterday afternoon as I was off seeing the latest Star Wars movie with some friends of mine. The movie was strong to quite strong with some really good fight scenes and even a few unexpected twists and turns. It wasn't quite what it had been made out to be by some of the people that I'd spoken to, but that is what I get for hanging around with the guys and gals of the Brevard Community College Chemsitry Club...well that and a fresh new recipe for some killer meth.

I would've like to have seen the Suns-Spurs game but since the average NBA series takes at least two weeksI just figured I'd take a pass on Game 1, especially since the Suns were going to be without Joe Johnson again. I personally don't think that the Suns can win this series regardless of the circumstances but they are in real danger of being swept right out of the playoffs if Johnson can't get back to action. The Pistons-Heat kickoff tonight and I, for one, can't see this thing going past six games. Shaq isn't healthy and Detroit is able to throw waaay too many solid defenders at Dwyane Wade for him to be the dominant force that Miami is going to need him to be. It's not only that the Pistons have 4 or 5 above average perimeter defenders (Billups, Hamilton, Prince, Hunter) but also the fact that the shot blocking prowess of Detriot's interior defenders allows their perimeter guys to play even tighter than normal on the outside. Im my opinion, Miami doesn't have nearly enough offensive weapons to make Detroit adjust their defensive philosophy. Detroit is too well coached and cohesive a unit to be allowed to work within their comfort zone if you have any hopes of beating them in a seven game series.

One note from the weekend: In the pantheon of great actors turned singers, I had always regarded Don Johnson and his seminal smash hit "Hearbeat" as the standard bearer with Jack Wagner and whatever pile of crap he sung coming in a distant second. That is, until I was watching one of the 143 coutdown shows that are currently airing on VH1 24 hours a day. All this time I had been living a lie and it wasn't until Saturday afternoon that I finally realized how in the dark I'd been. Somewhere along the line I had blocked out the memory of "She's like the Wind" by none other than Patrick Swayze. When the song began blaring out of my TV's speakers, all the memories came flooding back in a wave of emotions and "Dirty Dancing" montages. Well, not really any montages but you get the picture. Anyway, I'd just like to use this space to issue an official public apology to Patrick Swayze.

Patrick: I'm sorry. Don Johnson couldn't carry your vocal chords with a forklift. I'm sure you already knew that. I did too...I just forgot. Please...find it in your heart and your gender bending mullet to forgive me. I am begging you!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Just another working schmoe...who hangs out with dudes from named Hector and Segio.

It's been a good two weeks since I've posted anything at all in this space and I'm sure that everybody has somehow been able to move on with their lives without my witty punditry, though I'm sure at least a few of you have awoken at night in a dead sweat over the thought of never hearing from me again...or not. Anyway, I've have left the wonderful world of Minor League Baseball for a much more lucrative and lazy position for an irrigation and landscaping company in beautiful Satellite Beach, Fl.

Basically, instead of ordering around interns who have just graduated college, I now order around Mexicans who have just jumped the border somewhere in Texas. It's a pretty good gig that allows me to enjoy all of my weekends (which are vastly underrated by the way) and I generally use about 1/5th of my total brain capacity on any given day. Which workls at well for me considering what some of my recreational activities are said to do to one's total brain mass.

With that said, there are some disadvantages to this new position...I can't sleep at my desk because, well, I don't have a desk. I also am unable to waste company time writing this blog since I am very rarely by a computer. On the flip side, not having to work until ten or eleven at night affords me the opportunity to watch more sports than I have since my time in Gainesville, FL.

What does this all mean to the future of my illustrious blog you ask? Well, it means that you're going to have to wait for another week or so before we get this thing up and running again. I finally broke down and bought a new computer this past weekend and am getting a new high speed connection setup in my house later on in the week. So for those of you who were elated by my absence on the web in the past two weeks, I am truly sorry...really I am. I wouldn't want to read this useless drivel either if I hadn't written it but you're going to have to buck up and get ready for a whole summer's worth of inane observations, drunk stories and immaturity beyond your wildest imagination. That's right, much like our man Costanza, it is now officially...THE SUMMER OF MARK!!!

Okay, maybe the summer of Mark is a little strong...how about we call it the summer of a regular 9 t0 5 job?

Friday, May 06, 2005

Seriously, go to hell.

There are two types of people in this world. Those who love Coke Slurpees and those who don't. I know where I stand on the subject and if you don't agree with me...well, then you can go to hell.

Just out of curiosity...how many rooms are in the house of Mutombo?

Quite an interesting evening on the hardwood last night, but not in the manner that one would have expected going into yesterday's festivities. First of all, Yao Ming played like one huge bitch...its that simple. I understand that everybody has bad games but he seemed to just go back into a shell after awhile and lose all sense of aggresiveness. Doug Collins was harping on the lack of touches that Yao was receiving on the block (a constant problem for him) but as much of the blame for that has to fall on him as anybody else. He just wasn't working hard enough on the block to establish position. I'm sure that he could have gotten a few more touches down low but if you're not actively working to establish post position, then you don't REALLY want the ball. It says alot about where he was mentally that Jeff Van Gundy didn't even think about taking out 86 year old Dikembe Mutombo. Granted, Mutombo played fantastic and brought delight to thousands when he broke out the finger wag (did you see Bob Sura and other assorted Rocket reserves start doing the finger wag as well after Mutombo's block on Jason Terry? Pure Hilarity.) but I'm sure he could've used a blow at some point in the fourth and Van Gundy didn't so much as look at Yao. Sadly, this probably had as much to do with Yao's lack of confidence in himself as it did with Van Gundy's waning confidence in the big Chinaman. I know, I know...Chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature, then again I don't care either. All in all, I was glad to see the Rockets win, if only because I feel like this series deserves to go seven games.

Of course, earlier in the night Paul Pierce lost his goddamned mind. Anybody with half a brain will admit that Jamal Tinsley's flop was worthy of the English Premier League but, regardless of that, Pierce had absolutely no business pulling such an immature and irrational stunt. At least he fessed up in the post game press conference and said as much when he called the play "boneheaded". Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Oh yeah, what the hell was Pierce wearing on his face during the press conference? I heard that it was worn in jest but that still doesn't explain anything. Was it for his facial bruises from Jamal Tinsley's slap? Did it signify his mental choke job? I need to know...something.

Neither game had much else to offer though I should mention the toughness that is being displayed by Jamal Tinsley by coming back for the end of this series. Not only is he clearly not 100% (who is is the playoffs?) but the more impressive factor, at least in my mind, is that he has been playing big minutes and playing them late into the game. Anybody who's ever played any level of sports will tell you how hard it is to try and regain some semblance of rhythm to your game after being out for three months. To come back and provide the kind of spark that he has at this point in the season says an awful lot about this guy's character and talent. Something interesting to remember about Tinsley and what he means to the Pacers is that when Rick Carlisle took over in Indiana, Tinsley was his third string point guard.

Beyond that, there were a couple of things that stood out to me last night.

- With about two minutes left in the Mavs-Rockets game last night Doug Collins said, "I'd like to send a shout out..." The actual shout out and who he sent it to are inconsequential to my point. Which is...Doug Collins should never, ever be allowed to send anybody a shout out. For Christ's sake, you're over 60 years old! If you want to acknowledge somebody then say that you would "like to say hello" or that you're "sending out your best wishes to..." Just don't send a fucking shout out. You're too old and too white so just quit.

- Until recently I had been relatively unaware of Andrew Toney other than knowing that he played (and did so well) in the NBA. Like many in my generation (I suspect), Toney had slipped through the cracks of our collective basketball conscience through a combination of both the timing of his career and his status as a player whose reputation resided just outside the realm of the truly elite of his generation. Yet with Bill Simmons (among others) constantly comparing Ben Gordon to him, my interest had begun to be piqued. Then, last night Doug Collins told a story about playing for the Sixers and having to go into the Boston Garden for a Game Seven. The basic premise of the story is that Andrew Toney went into the Boston Garden and single handedly took apart the Celtics while leading the Sixers to victory. Well, after this my curiosity could take it no longer and I decided to do some research on Andrew Toney. If you already know all about Andrew Toney then don't bother reading on, but if you were left somewhat in the dark like myself then here is what I've found:

Height: 6'3" Weight: 178 lbs.

Drafted: 1980 8th overall by Philadelphia out of Southwestern Louisiana (now La.-Lafayette)

Career: 1980-1988, Two All Star Appearances ('83, '84)

Career Averages:
Regular Season: 15.9 ppg 4.2 apg
Playoffs: 17.4 ppg 4.5 apg

Nickname: The Boston Strangler

Here are a few quotes about Toney from some of his comtemparies:

"Toney was amazingly strong, he and Moses were the only ones on the team that could post me up!" -Charles Barkley

"I thought he (Toney) was the best player on the team when I got here. We had Bobby Jones, Moses Malone, and Julius Erving but the only one I was in awe of was Andrew." - Charles Barkley

"He's the greatest clutch player I've ever seen. The hell with Jerry West!" - Pat Riley

"He was the absolute best I've ever seen at shooting the ball at crucial times. We had nobody who could come close to stopping him. Nobody." - Larry Bird

Those stats tell you plenty, but the quotes from NBA legends really let you know how special a player that Andrew Toney must've been. Evidently his career was cut short by stress fractures in both feet and a subsequent battle over the legitimacy of those injuries with Sixers owner Harold Katz. The feud between Katz and Toney became so bitter that Katz requested that the NBA drug test Toney (the test came back negative). Toney was so incensed by his treatment that he vowed never to set foot at a Sixers game as long as Katz was the owner. Toney now lives in Georgia and has a son who will be attending the University of Georgia on a basketball scholarsip in the fall. I certainly won't be rooting for his son anytime soon but I will be scanning ESPN Classic and NBA TV for any games involving Andrew Toney.

Wizards-Bulls tonight and I'm pulling for the Wiz to close it out, though it won't affect my night in any way, shape or form if this thing goes seven games as well. I'll tell you what will affect my night though...the copious amounts of alcohol that I'll be ingesting from about 10 PM on.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

That was fun...can we do it again tommorrow night?

Evidently, the Basketball gods read my post of a couple days ago and decided to shut me up for good with a certifiable classic between the Wizards and Bulls. Well, let me be the first to say, "THANK YOU".

If you weren't absolutely entranced by the end of that game last night then you just don't care much for playoff basketball. Nobody can blame you if you lost interest in the first half or even midway through the third quarter and, shit, I even turned on my shower with about a minute left in regulation and was forced to leave it running for the better part of twenty minutes. However, for those that did stay tuned in you were treated to one of the the greatest comebacks in NBA playoff history as well as a buzzer beater that will go down in Wizards and First round history.

One of the really amazing things about last night's game is that even though the Wizards were clearly feeling the pressure at many different points of the fourth quarter (doing everything to lose: from taking bad, quick shots to absolutely freezing on the foul line) they kept doing just enough where you would think, "Okay, that should be enough to hold the Bulls off." I must've said that to myself at least five times during the course of the Bulls' comeback. Even Scott Skiles had begun to concede victory when he inserted Jannero Pargo into the game for the purposes of fouling and shooting desperation threes. It just so happens that Jannero Pargo is the greatest garbage time shooter in the NBA today...or so it would seem based on his last two games. Of course, none of Pargo's threes would have made much difference if not for the entire Wizards team puling a collective Nick Anderson late in the fourth quarter. Antawn Jamison couldn't have looked less comfortable at the free throw line if he had been forced to watch his mother use a double ended dildo while shooting those foul shots. Even Larry Hughes (who carried Washington) and Gilbert Arenas were less than eager to be shooting free throws during crunch time. After Kirk Hinrich nailed the tying three pointer, you had to feel like the Bulls would find a way to win in overtime. I even began to think that the series was over for, all intents and purposes, as the Wiz would've been hard pressed to recover from such a devastating loss in time for Friday's game in Washington.

Of course, all of that was rendered moot when Gilbert Arenas hit one of the most (cue Rick James singing voice) coldblooded shots that you'll ever see. I actually said , "you'd better get a shot off" as Arenas was dribbling at the top of the key. It really seemed like he wasn't totally aware of the clock at one point when he was still 40 feet from the basket with about 3.5 seconds left. Instead, Gilbert had the clock timed perfectly and set himself up for an all or nothing shot that would, at worst, mean the Wizards were going to OT. It's tough to put into perspective how gutsy and tough a shot that was (of course, I'll try). Not only did Arenas have to get the shot off on one of the better defensive point guards in the league (who did a great job defending the shot), built he also had to deal with 7"1' Tyson Chandler flying out to contest the shot as well. Furthermore, when you consider that Arenas only had 14 points at the time and had shot rather horribly all game long it becomes even more impressive that he would have the confidence to take such a shot. While I'm passing out kudos (praise, not the chocolatey granola bars), let me take my hat off to Eddie Jordan. No, not for being unbelievably stubborn and refusing to match up with Chicago's three guard lineup but for realizing that, regardless of the night he was having, Arenas is his best player when it comes down to creating space for his own shot and allowing him to do what he does best, which is go one-on-one.

If you can't tell, last night really got me pumped for the remainder of the playoffs and especially for both of Friday night's games. Now that I've gotten my armchair analysis fix, I'll leave you with a few more things that I got to thinking about last night:

-If the Bulls can figure out how to defend adequately with Hinrich and Gordon as their starting guards, they are totally set for the next 10-12 years.

-Arenas and Hughes have a legit shot at being the best backcourt in the league for quite some time. Their versatility complements each other perfectly.

-TBS should really think about doing some type of original mini-series, actually make it a six-week television event. They could advertise it constantly during the NBA playoffs. Nobody's done a mini-series on the Old West...maybe they should think about doing something about that?

-It's far too late to go back and I doubt either the player or organization would want to, but Larry Hughes would now be everything that the Sixers wanted him to be as a backcourt mate to Allen Iverson. He can defend bigger guards, play the point, play off the ball, and also share the scoring load with Iverson. Not to mention that Hughes and Iverson are the two best passing lane defenders in the game today.

- Hopefully this series is the beginning of a long and storied rivalry between these two teams. It all depends on this summer. If the Wiz can lock up Larry Hughes and the Bulls can take care of Chandler and Curry then we could be in store for another 5-8 years of playoff battles between these two talented and unbelievably young teams.

- Does anything sum up the clusterfuck that is the Golden State Warriors front office as much the fact that they had Arenas, Hughes, and Jamison at the same time and let all of them go for next to nothing? I mean, you have the good sense to acquire and develop these players only to let them move on without getting anything of near equal value in return. It's amazing that Gary St. Jean could get hired to run a janitorial supply company, much less an NBA team.

- Does anybody else think that Chris Duhon is going to be starting for the Hawks or the Bobcats next year? I'd be amazed if Chicago can afford to re-sign him.

- He's young but Andres Nocioni is already among the greatest floppers of all time. He even managed to flop, and draw offensive foul calls, on two seperate plays where he was being screened last night. Prompting Steve Kerr to comment that the Argentinian National Team must have a flopping coach.

- Jared Jeffries looks like he is becoming a consumate stat sheet stuffer. He doesn't do anything great but he does alot of things well and is more than happy to do alot of the little things while getting his points off of broken plays and offensive rebounds. He'll probably never be good enough to start on a championship contender but he could certainly be a great second unit guy on an elite team.

- The Wizards would be down right scary and the prohibitive favorite in the Eastern Conference for the next decade or so if Kwame Brown hadn't been absolutely destroyed by Michael Jordan and Doug Collins. Can you imagine this team in two years if Kwame wasn't a shattered young man (confidence and attitude wise) from his early years in Washington? Even if Kwame only developed into a fringe All-Star level player, the Wizards would be absolutely stacked for the foreseeable future. He definitely has the talent and physical ability to be at least that good. Who knew that Michael Jordan would have such a lasting negative impact on this franchise?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Scott...Stop sweating my techinque!!

When the playoffs first began, there were two separate series that I was most interested in. Those two were the Wizards-Bulls and the Mavericks-Rockets, respectively. Unfortunately for me, I have been rendered unable to watch most of the Wizards-Bulls series due to a confluence of my horrible work schedule and the NBA’s equally awful decision to broadcast every other game in this series on national television. As a result, even the games that I’d be able to watch between the Wiz and Bulls end up on Comcast and I end up having to watch Stuart Scott show me five highlights of a playoff game.

Which brings me to yet another beef with ESPN. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to give a little priority to NBA playoff games over early May baseball games? By priority, I don’t only mean the time in which you show these highlights, but also using this time to show a more extended recap of the games highlights. You absolutely cannot convince me that a White Sox-Royals matchup deserves as much air time as a Game 4 or 5 of the first round of the NBA playoffs. Instead of realizing a need for a change in format, ESPN and its producers just plug in the same amount of highlights from each game like they would for a Cavs-Knicks game in mid-February. Just ridiculous.

Sadly, mediocrity is what most of us have come to expect from ESPN and it doesn’t look like change is coming anytime soon.

As for the Wiz-Bulls, from what I can gather this has been a less than exciting series with each team playing exceedingly well at home while their counterparts play predictably tight during their first playoff forays onto the road. It doesn’t seem like either team has been able to match the others intensity early in games and, as a result, we’re ending up with a lot of comebacks that fall just short. I picked the Wiz to win this series and I still think that they will. Simply put, Chicago lacks the offensive versatility to consistently make the Wiz pay for their sometimes porous defense. With that said, Chicago’s defense had to leave a lot to be desired last night since Juan Dixon scored 35. Who was guarding him, Joe Forte? Hopefully I’ll get to watch these last three games and, more importantly, I’m hopeful that we can get at least two legitimate nail biters (or barn burners, whichever your preference) out of these last three games.

As for the Mavs-Rockets series, I have been able to watch most of these games and they couldn’t be more intriguing to me. The chess game of matchups that is being played between Avery Johnson and Jeff Van Gundy is made for true NBA fans because, as we all know…the NBA is ALL about matchups (Sorry…Hubie Brown and Dick Stocktom just wrestled my keyboard away from me for a minute there.) Watching the Rockets continually exploit the Mavs lack of size late was unbelievably frustrating to see. Avery Johnson was basically giving up a layup or two free throws every time down because he refused to put Erick “Second Best Center in the NBA” Dampier back in. If it wasn’t for both McGrady and Yao (to a greater extent) missing a bunch of foul shots late, the media would be killing Avery’s lack of adjustments right now. Here are a few other things I’ve noticed while watching this series:

-Josh Howard is doing a very good job of hassling McGrady. He isn’t going to keep McGrady from getting his shot but he is making him take a lot of tough shots that are out of McGrady’s comfort zone.
- I like how the Rockets were running a double team (with Yao) at Dirk last night and forcing other players to make shots. I’ll always take my chances with someone other than Dirk shooting the last shot.

-It’s encouraging to see Dirk get what proved to be the winning bucket on something other than a jumper. He is too dangerous an all around player to be SO dependent on his jumpshot. A play like that could be what makes the proverbial light go off in his head and convinces him to become more aggressive on the offensive boards as well as post up situations.

-Losing Keith Van Horn hasn’t hurt the Mavs all that much. If only because now you have a court full of guys who are comfortable with the ball late in the game (Stackhouse, Terry, Dirk, Finley, even Daniels and Howard) instead of four and one guy who thinks he’s playing hot potato.

-Jon Barry and David Wesley are basically the same player. They both plant themselves at the three point line and wave their arms while a teammate dribbles and/or drives.

- Jason Terry isn’t a very good point, because he’s too much of a natural scorer, but without him the Mavs wouldn’t have won a game in this series. Not only has he hit some big shots in the fourth quarter, but can you really imagine Devin Harris playing 35 minutes a game in this series? Or Marquis Daniels handling the point guard duties? Ugh.

-What does the “MFFL” on Mark Cuban’s shirts mean?

- NBA referees are awful. How can the crew of playoff refs have missed Michael Finley’s steal when he smacked the ball away from Jon Barry while standing OUT OF BOUNDS? You have a ref stationed on the baseline for just such plays and you’re telling me that nobody saw the play or, at least, thought it looked odd? There is no excuse for that level of ineptitude when you are at, supposedly, the height or your profession.

- Has anybody noticed how much more “black” the highlight accompaniments are for Scott Van Pelt when he’s teamed with Stuart Scott? Hey! You handle all the on location golf coverage for ESPN, nobody is buying the hip, urban schtick so give it a damn rest already.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Robert Horry discovered St. Augustine?

During the fourth quarter of the Spurs-Nuggets game last night as Bob Horry was finishing off a personal 8-0 run that put San Antonio back up 10 on the Nuggets, Brent Musberger said, "Robert Horry is the Ponce de Leon of NBA players." Huh? What? Is Robert on a quest for the fountain of youth that we're not aware of? Was Ponce de Leon a prolific clutch shooter during his time? I'm confused. Somebody please explain this to me.