It seems that the blogosphere is slowing down for now (and more than likely, for the rest of the year) as the rapidly approaching holidays are dominating all of our schedules. Never being one to rock the proverbial boat, I’ll try and keep it short today with a few thoughts that have been bouncing around in the smoke-filled cavern that doubles as my brain.
- Maybe I’m missing something here, but I don’t get all the uproar over Ron Artest asking to be traded. Isn’t this akin to Manny Ramirez’s semi-annual trade request? Sure, Manny never charged into the stands to attack fans, but both of these guys are clearly million dollar talents with 10 cent heads.
Is Ron Artest being certifiably crazy news to the people in the Indiana front office? Furthermore, is there any player (other than Jermaine O’Neal) that enjoys playing in Rick Carlisle’s offense? I’m being completely serious here. Carlisle is a good coach who gets his teams to play great defense and work together. He does not have an inventive and free-wheeling offensive system that players enjoy playing in. The only difference between other players and Artest is that Ron Ron is crazy/dumb enough to talk about it in public.
I also believe that Artest would be much more willing to “buy-in” to the overall team concept if (A) he played for a coach whom he had a greater respect for and, (B) if he was playing second fiddle to a player whom he truly believed was better than him. Jermaine O’Neal is a good player but he has not yet proven himself to be a prolific crunch time scorer that a team can carry a team through the playoffs. It’s not that he’s without the requisite skills needed to do this, instead it is that he lacks the go-to move (baseline fadeaways for 6’11 guys don’t count) and overall nastiness necessary to become such a player. In addition, O’Neal is in no way a dominant rebounder and/or defender. As a result of this, I believe that Artest is purposely forcing his way out of Indiana because he doesn’t want to have to defer to a player whom he feels that he is better than ( I agree with Ron Ron by the way) while playing for a coach whom he doesn’t like or respect, who also happens to base his entire offensive system around getting the ball to said player. Honestly, it's not like O'Neal is a dominat presence along the lines of Duncan (or even Garnett).
Of course, none of this changes the fact that Artest is a wackjob, though I’m of the opinion that he’s far closer to the Manny style crazy than he's portrayed as by most of the media. I mean, he's the kind of crazy that makes it seem like a good idea to warm up for the All-Star Game in a pair of Steve Maddens, not the kind of crazy that raises a pack of fighting pit bulls (I'm looking at you Qyntel)
One final note: Jermaine O'Neal has shown how little he truly understands about the game of basketball by proclaiming both Al Harrington and Bonzi Wells as suitable and adequate replacements for Artest. Who are you kidding Jermaine? Neither of these guys registers among the top 40 players in the league. They don't even belong in the same conversation as Artest.
- How did the 49er organization get so damned inept? Actually, I know how it happened (firing Bill Walsh certainly didn’t help) but how did it get so bad, so quickly? They are a total trainwreck, to the point that even Matt Millen is making jokes about them at the Lions’ Christmas party. As if being mocked by the NFL’s version of Corky (who didn’t watch Life Goes On at least once, seriously?), now it’s come out that maybe Alex Smith’s hands are too small for the NFL football. In my opinion, watching an organization this proud become a laughingstock (in all of sports, not just the NFL) is far more sad than this whole contrived “Brett Favre on an awful team” saga that’s been unfolding since early this season. To be perfectly honest, I am thoroughly enjoying the entire Brett Favre scenario and would love to see an encore next year.
- By now, I’m sure that everybody has seen the pics of Matt Leinart on the internet from last Saturday night. Shouldn’t Vegas start setting a line on the probability of this guy ending up on the Jets? After two solid years of being the King of L.A and banging any hot chick he felt like, do you really think this guy is going to allow himself to be drafted by some team in a city like Houston or Green Bay? Not a chance. It’s not like he’s going to have to worry about competing with Eli for tail or anything.
- While I’m on the subject of quarterbacks, I might as well touch on the commitment of Tim Tebow to the University of Florida. I try and not get too excited over the athletic prospects of 17 year old high school students, but Tebow seems to have all the things that you’d want for a big time collegiate QB. He is big (6'3" 225) , strong, fast (4.6 40) and has a terrific arm. He's a natural leader who other players naturally gravitate towards and want to play with. If all goes well, he should be starting at QB for Florida for a minimum of two years. His commitment to the Gators was huge for two reasons. First, with the departure of Josh Portis, the QB depth chart at Florida was looking awfully thin, especially with regard to the future beyond next year. Secondly (and perhaps more importantly), Tebow was a lifelong Gator fan who grew up attending games in Gainesville. Furthermore, every member of his immediate family has attended the University of Florida. Hell, his parents' mailbox is a Gator head. If Florida had lost Tebow to Alabama (or anyone else), this would’ve been a crippling blow to Urban Meyer’s recruiting efforts and also to his reputation as a recruiter of offensive talent.
Finally, ESPN ran The Season: Tim Tebow last night, which followed the recently finished senior season on the Nease High QB. While the documentary was a little over the top towards the end, a few things stuck out to me:
- Tebow played an entire second half during his sophomore year on a broken leg. Not only that, but he managed to run for a 20 yard TD in that same second half. (Kudos to ESPN for showing the X-ray from the injury as well as the clip of the TD run). I’m pretty sure that Jack Youngblood is already a fan of the kid.
- Tebow came off as an absolute natural leader. I'd heard that about him in some recruting cahts but being able to watch the way he took charge of the huddle during some key moments in Nease’s season was some pretty enlightening stuff.
- Tebow helped to significantly elevate a traditonally poor (his coach commented during the documentary that "we were everybody's homecoming game three years ago") high school program in his four years. Nease won a state title this year, pretty heady stuff for a school who had captured a district crown since 1993.
- I’m going to go out on a limb and say that by the time National Signing Day comes along, the Gators will have offered (and signed) Tebow’s teammate Ryan Ellis. Ellis isn’t the most highly rated recruit but he was a big-time playmaker for Nease who also happened to have a very close relationship with Tebow. It’s just a hunch, but I think that Meyer will find room for Ellis come February.
- Finally, I’d like to welcome back Grant Hill. His presence on the floor alone makes the Magic a more dangerous team (and infinitely more fun to watch). If he can stay healthly (I’m actually pretty optimistic after last year), I’m expecting the Magicians to put together a nice run come the first of the year.