Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Here & Now...

You may not think that you remember this song by Letters from Cleo, but I assure you, you do. It’s the mid/late 90’s song that is most famous for the girl singing extremely fast jibberish all throughout it’s refrain. As I was listening to it play on my radio on the way to lunch, it struck me that this song was perfect for tonight’s upcoming NBA Draft. Why? Because tonight’s draft can best be summed up by the two most recognizable lines (other than the song title, of course) in the entire song.

First, there’s the line “You’ve got much to think about” which accurately sums up each and every GMs position at this point. Unlike most drafts (even the abysmal 2000 Draft Lottery) there isn’t a single GM out there right now who possesses absolute certainty on whom they will select during this evening’s first round. The second (and even more famous line) is the aforementioned jibberish which goes something like, “yodeberebersunaneverwitadun….”. Of course, this line applies to people like us, the fans, who have no goddamned idea who their favorite teams will select this evening. Just like none of us ever knew what that chick was actually saying during the chorus. This draft is truly one of a kind…and I don’t mean that in a good way. Sure, there's some real depth in this draft and they’ll be some players who end up being steals but, the fact remains, this draft (like Duper) just isn’t sexy.

With that in mind, I set forth with my draft preview. This won’t be a mock draft or anything like that, rather my thoughts on some of the players and rumors that will meet this evening in NYC. (Disclaimer: I haven’t read any of the new mock drafts or columns as of today. Hell, I’ve got to have something left to help me waste away the remainder of the afternoon).

Biggest Moneymaker: Sadly, I’m not talking about the Mike Sweetney kind of moneymaker here. Rather, the player who has made the most money over the last month of so. Surprisingly this is a rather easy pick: Shelden Williams.

Not only has Williams apparently secured a promise at #5 from the Hawks (thank god the Hawks are around to make the Magic look mildly competent) despite being undersized and underskilled (offensively) but he’s also managed to make even more millions in the process. Not millions for himself but millions nonetheless. While both Cedric Simmons and Alexander Johnson had good years for their respective teams, does anybody actually believe that they’d have gotten the level of pre-draft hype that each of them has had they not each lit up Williams on separate occasions this spring? I don’t doubt that each of these guys were on the NBA’s radar prior to torching Williams. I just feel like killing the two time National Defensive Player of the Year has raised each of their profiles considerably. If I was Williams I’d have my agent request at least 15% of these guys’ signing bonus.

Biggest mistake: The Celtics NOT drafting Marcus Williams. It's gonna happen too, just wait. We’ve all heard the knocks on Williams. Too slow, not athletic enough defensively, questionable character and jumpshot. How about focusing on what this guy does well for a change? He’s by far the most natural PG in the draft, he’s clutch, he plays with great pace and poise.

He’s is the perfect player for the Celtics as they’re currently constructed. You’re telling me that Paul Pierce wouldn’t love playing with this guy? Williams would take a lot of the ball handling pressure off Pierce while still getting the ball to Pierce in his comfort zones. If Williams made Armstrong and Boone look good at UCONN then what could he do for the confidence of young bigs like Kendrick Perkins and Al Jefferson. Finally, Williams would allow the Celtics to move Delonte West out of the starting lineup and into the role he’s best suited for: combo guard off the bench. West would end up playing the same amount of minutes but he’d be splitting time between the point and two while getting a chance to score more against second unit guys thereby maximizing his effectiveness.

The Magic: I’ve been dreading tonight since, oh…the moment that the Magic drafted Fran Vasquez last year. The Magic don’t have what I’d called an illustrious history of draft day steals. Basically, unless a Shaquille O’Neal or Dwight Howard fall into their laps the Magic front office have no clue how to properly evaluate talent with regard to their overall needs as a team. It’s been said for quite some time that the Magic covet Brandon Roy. Well good luck because he’s not going to be available at #11. Now, unfortunately, it’s looking as if maybe neither of the Magic’s backup options (Ronnie Brewer, Rodney Carney) will be available either. I’m not sold on either of these players but I would be able to rationalize their selections based on their overall ability and the Magic’s desperate need for a shooting guard.

I don’t know who I “want” the Magic to select if those two aren’t available but I DO know who I don’t want them to select: JJ Redick. I know that he is NOT Trajan Langdon and I know that he’s going to play in the NBA for ten+ years. I also know that he isn’t the right player for the team that the Magic are currently building. If the Magic had an already established two then I’d be on board with the JJ pick as he could ably fill the role of off the bench assassin. However, the Magic don’t have any two guard (Keyon Dooling are you listening?) and I don’t need to see both JJ and Hedo Turkoglu in starting lineup in Orlando. Finally, there is one player out there who, as Jerry predicted, could send me into a fit of arson inducing rage. That player’s name is: Thabo. It’s not that I’m a racist (though I am a bit of a timesist), it’s just that I can’t possibly take the thought of the Magic drafting a raw two guard with language issues who I’d never even heard of before the beginning of June.

God, if you’re out there, you won’t do this to me.

Finally, I’d like to end this column with some comparisons and suggestions. These are players in this year’s draft who I have yet to specifically mention in this (or any other previous column) and the players that I feel they most closely resemble as an NBA player. Or, the players and teams who form the best fit for one another in this years’ draft.


JJ Redick: I can’t take credit for this one as my buddy Pat mentioned it a couple of weeks ago while we were drinking and talking basketball. Of all the ridiculous comparisons that I’ve heard between JJ and any number of players, Pat’s pick rang the most true to me.

Comparison: Dell Curry

Dell was a little taller than JJ. However, their wasn’t a deadlier three point marksman around during his prime than Dell. He could drop 25 on you on any given night. If you drafted JJ mid/late first and ended up with something like Dell over the next decade, wouldn’t you be happy?

Shawne Williams: 6’8”, athletic, good shooting touch. He’s also a guy without a true position (at this point), he only played one year of college (in Conference USA) and he managed to do a whopping zero reps of 185 lbs. on the bench (Are you kidding me?). I’m sure he has a ton of upside and he may develop into a heck of an NBA 2/3 but everything about this kid just screams bust to me.

Comparison: Rodney White

Kevin Pittsnogle: He’s seven feet tall with a great jumper and a hair trigger release. He lacks great athleticism but is still far from being a stiff. He’s also an underrated passer and an improving rebounder. While he may never start on a great team, he could easily be a major player off the bench of a title contender or even a starter on a lower tier playoff team. If he grew up in Europe instead of West Virginia then he’d be going in the late first round.

Comparison: Mehmet Okur

Team/Player Fits- 1st round

Good: Alexander Johnson & NJ Nets

Johnson was under the radar at FSU due to a combination of lackluster physical conditioning and the sorry state of Seminole basketball. However, once he got a trainer and started working out regularly he quickly changed his body and impressed NBA GMs with his 40” vertical leap. While it’s always risky to draft a player who has shot up due to his pre-draft workouts, I’m going to give Johnson the benefit of the doubt here because he was stuck playing with guards for the last three years who couldn't differentiate an entry pass from a shovel pass. Plus, in NJ all Johnson has to do is run the floor, catch alley-oops and grab rebounds. He would be a starter from day one in the Meadowlands.

Bad: Guillermo Diaz & Miami Heat

Evidently Pat Riley has a man crush on Diaz that’s reminiscent of Jerry’s undying love for Quincy Douby. Let me be the first to say: I don’t get it. Diaz is an unbelievable athlete without question. Given his relative inexperience in organized basketball it stands to reason that he has much more improvement ahead of him. However, even with marked improvement I still don’t see how he fits on the Heat. He’s 6’1” and he’s an average ballhandler at best. He doesn’t see the floor all that well and will never be a combo guard on even the level of a Jason Terry. So why would you want to pair this guy in the same backcourt as Dwayne Wade? If you’re drafting a guard (or trying to trade up to draft a guard) wouldn’t you want somebody who can take some of the ballhandling pressure off of Wade? Or at least a guy who has shown that he can continually and consistently knock down threes? The Champiosnhip has made Riley drunk on power…that is my only explanation.

Clearly hammered at this point...

Good: Quincy Douby & Cleveland Cavs

I know that I’ve already talked about this but I just wanted to go on record as believing that Danny Ferry should lose his job if he passes on Douby. I don’t even want to talk about what should happen to Ferry if he passes on Douby for Daniel Gibson, who he reportedly has promised at #25.

2nd Round

Good: Renaldo Balkman & Phoenix Suns

The ultimate energy guy on the league's fastest team. Balkman could probably average double figures as a rookie in the Suns' system. He would bring toughness and rebounding to Phoenix while also adding some much needed depth. He'll never be a star but his energy and ability to finish on the break would make him an immediate impact player (and fan favorite) on Team D'Antoni.

Good: Josh Boone & Orlando Magic

Apparently Josh has a confidence problem. That's the story that Jim Calhoun is telling everybody anyway. His down year couldn't possibly be a byproduct of Josh being a lazy slug could it? While Boone lacks the motivation and desire to be a dominat NBA big man, he does have enough size, athleticism and defensive ability to be an impactful front court sub. What would be a better spot for him than Orlando, where he could come off the bench for a franchise with traditionally low expectations. The fans' focus would be on the continued development of Dwight and Darko which would allow Boone to develop at his own pace. Furthermore, the small market of Orlando and his role off the bench would keep expectations low for Boone so that he could continue to grow as a player without shattering his confidence by playing against the likes of Duncan, Garnett, and Nowitzki for 30 minutes a night. Is this just wishful thinking on my part? Probably.

Oh yeah, my pick for most ridiculous suit of the night goes to...Cedric Simmons. Just makes sense, doesn't it?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Shouldn't we be allowed to have A drink at this point on a Friday afternoon?

I’m not even sure why I’m bothering to write this afternoon. I don’t really have anything worthwhile to say. I skipped out on the first half of work yesterday so that I could watch the US-Ghana match from my couch. As you may have guessed, I was extremely disappointed with the result. I contemplated writing about the failures of this squad today but it’s already been beaten to death in the 24+ hours since the game went final. The team was a colossal disappointment, no doubt. However, the failure of this team can be attributed as much to the group which FIFA placed us in as anything else. We may not have been a great team and our offense may have looked as inept as a woman trying to piss while standing up, but I’ve got to believe that both of those problems would have been a whole lot less glaringly obvious had we ended up in a group like that of Mexico or Australia. While these donkeys were wading through groups with all the depth of a plastic pool available in Wal-Mart’s toy section, the US was assigned to a group that included 3 of the world’s 13 top ranked teams, which doesn’t even include one of the two teams who actually advanced from this group. If there’s anything to take from this year’s failure it’s that the US should continue to be a growing force in the world of international soccer. We may all be disappointed with the performances of Landon Donovan and DeMarcus Beasley but, the fact remains, that each of these guys (along with many, many others on this team) aren’t even at the peaks of their respective careers yet. Yeah, Sam’s Army (who made that crappy nickname up anyway?) may have sucked this time around but you’d be foolish to not expect a significant improvement in both play and results come 2010.

The other big news that has come and gone since I last checked in was the merciful end ( I say this because, other than Game 5 and the fourth quarter of Game 3, these Finals were a terrible, terrible bore when compared to the rest of this year's playoffs) of the NBA Finals. Unlike many, I’m not going to pretend that Dallas could have or should have won this series if the refs weren’t so enthralled by all that is Dwyane Wade, as the Mavs were outplayed and out coached in every way possible over the last four games. However, I’m also not going to pretend to understand how Dirk got whistled for a foul after Wade executed a Ric Flair-esque chop (WHOOO!) on him in the late (and extremely decisive) moments of Game 6. Let that be a lesson to Dirk. The aggressor will always get the call if he’s s superstar…always. If you didn’t already know (and judging by your inability to take control of any moment of the fourth quarter of Game 6, you didn’t), now you know. Finally, one last message to Dirk: Your “tirade” after Game 5 (I hesitate to even label it that) was an unabashed embarrassment. For Christ’s sake, you’re German. Your people have a long and storied history of violence. A history that you should be working to uphold. That’s the best you can do after having your career defining moment (to this point at least) ripped away from you by Bennett Salvatore? You’re a disgrace to Germans everywhere.

Dwayne Wade hit you harder Dirk. You should be ashamed.

Beyond those vapid rants I don’t have a lot more to contribute today. You see, my mind is too busy being cluttered with rumors, stats and all other types of NBA Draft related info. I can’t wait for the Draft. I’m positively giddy about it’s arrival. I’m not sure why, but I have an extremely unhealthy predisposition towards loving the evaluation process of athletes, regardless of whether it’s high school kids in the midst of recruiting battles or collegiate athletes who are preparing for their respective drafts. There is just something about successfully predicting greatness, or lack of greatness (bustedness?) for a specific player that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. It’s part of the reason why I love keeping up with the recruiting wars in college football so much. And it’s 100% of the reason why I would go Single White Female on Chad Ford today if I didn’t fear spending a life in prison for his murder and dismemberment. Seriously, this douchebag already had my dream job and now he gets to live in Hawaii to boot? Fuck. I won’t get into any NBA Draft stuff today (more to come next week, I swear) other than to say that I still fully expect the Magic to draft Ronnie Brewer with the 11th pick, and that I fully expect to spew expletives every time he shoots a jumpshot over the next five years.

Hoping against hope Ronnie. Hoping against hope...

Finally, you may have heard that they play some pretty good football down here in Florida. It may be regional bias but I’m of the opinion that a player who’s second team All-Dade County would/could be first team all state in 45-49 other states in any given year. This assertion doesn’t even begin to take into account all the tremendous athletes that routinely get underrated throughout the entire state of Florida in places like Jacksonville, Orlando, Ft. Myers, Tallahassee, Brevard County and the rest of South Florida outside of Dade.
With the kind of talent that Florida routinely pumps out, it should come as no surprise to anybody that last year’s USA Today National Champion hails from the Sunshine State. What might surprise is that this team doesn’t reside in Miami or any of the other aforementioned football breeding grounds. Instead, this team hails from the moderately sized town of Lakeland, Fla. Not only did Lakeland High win last year’s mythical National championship, they’re presently positioned to do the same thing again come fall. Mind you, their pre-season #1 ranking in the country isn’t on some “fill in the blank with the defending champ” steez. Rather, this Lakeland team was loaded with a class of juniors last year who were the driving force behind last year’s title. When I say loaded, I mean exactly that. The junior (soon to be senior) class alone boasts over ten division one prospects. I’m not talking Florida A&M and UCF here either. Nine of these guys (minimum) are players who’ll end up playing at the highest levels of college football. Want proof? 6 of them have already committed to the University of Florida. Six guys from one high school team have already committed to the same college. Has that ever happened at a traditional football powerhouse before? I’d guess no but I’m only 28, so what do I know? It’s still June so it’s tough to say if these commitments hold up. However, it’s not tough to say that this football team is going to challenge the mid-80s Dunbar (Md.) High School Boy’s Basketball team (that fetured Muggsy Bogues, Reggie Williams, & Reggie Lews) as the most absurdly talented high school team of all time. Don’t believe me? Check out the profiles on some of these guys.
The player who excites me most (and who got the whole commitment process moving) is Chris Rainey who, despite being smaller than me, is regarded as a player with Reggie Bush like versatility and explosiveness, if not overall talent. There's also one more Dreadnaught (that's Lakeland's's a battleship stupid) that the Gators would love to see join the crew in Gainesville come fall.
Finally, for anybody who thinks I'm crazy with my asssertion that South Florida football players are a unique and rare breed, read this article on former All-Pro and ex-Gator Louis Oliver. Believe me, it's worth the time.

Friday, June 16, 2006

World Cup meets the NBA Draft

The World Cup is in full swing. Now is the only time in the next four years when many/most Americans will give the sport anything more than a passing glance and a dismissive comment. That’s not an indictment on the American public or the sport of soccer. That’s just the way it is. Of course, much of this is due to the overall lack of success that our national team has experienced on the international stage. Americans love sports, but they love winning more. Unfortunately for us, the level of athlete that generally ends up as an elite soccer player in the states is far from indicative of the type of elite athlete that American usually produces in most (if not all) of our preferred sports. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle. As a nation we don’t have an inborn passion for soccer, so our best youth generally don’t gravitate towards the sport. Because of this, we don’t stack up athletically on the pitch with other nations. This lack of success breeds more complacency amongst the American public towards soccer. And so on, and so on.

You often hear people lamenting this while wondering just how dominant a soccer nation America could be if the sport were of major consequence to the youth of this nation. Instead, the best athletes go into basketball, football or (in alarmingly less frequency) baseball. With that in mind (and because I’m obsessed with the NBA Draft), I’ve decided to construct a soccer team (actually a starting lineup) of players from this year’s NBA Draft. For the sake of simplicity I’ll go with the traditional 4-4-2 lineup.

Left Back: Randy Foye- He’s fast enough to mark strikers on the sidelines while also possessing the necessary creativity to start attacks from his position in defense. Think of a much, much bigger Roberto Carlos.

Center Left Back: Hassan Adams- He’s big, fast, & strong. His speed will allow him to help the wings mark fleet strikers on the sidelines while his strength would make it nearly impossible to muscle him near the box. Adams’ height and leaping ability would make him dominant in the air especially on corners.

Center Right Back: PJ Tucker- Tucker would be a fantastic enforcer in the middle of the field. His lack of overall speed could be a detriment in marking some of the elite strikers but that’s why he’s manning the middle. His physical presence and toughness would make even the bravest attacker think twice about making forays into the box.

Right Back: Shannon Brown- He would draw the #1 scorer most of the time. He’s an unbelievable athlete with great strength and outstanding straight line speed. Additionally, his leaping ability would be an major asset in the air, especially with the comparably less than athletic (vertically) Tucker playing next to him.

Left Mid: Kyle Lowry- Speed is his biggest asset. He would be able to push forward as an attacking mid without compromising his defensive position, due to his unique combination of speed and strength. He’s the ultimate hustle player so his insertion in the midfield is a natural.

Left Center Mid: Marcus Williams- The Maestro. The way he sees the floor makes him a natural for this position. From his spot on the left he could identify holes within the defense and set his strikers up for runs towards the box with pinpoint passing and strong ball control. His lack of conditioning would be a concern, but his feel for passing lanes and angles is too great to be without.

You're good and all Pavel but you don't have shit on Marcus Williams

Right Center Mid: Mike Gansey- Though he’s a two guard by trade, Gansey is another player who has a innate feel for passing angles. He’s a better athlete than he’s given credit for which allows him to push forward and initiate attacks through both his passing and one-on-one skills. He recently put up 185 lbs. over 20 times so his strength should also prove to be a major asset when it comes to battles over possession in the midfield.

Right Mid: Dee Brown- More speed on the wing. He’s been known as the fastest player in college basketball for what seems like a decade now so his inclusion here should be no surprise. His natural scorer’s mentality would make him an attacking midfielder along the lines of DeMarcus Beasley (except, you know with some heart). A midfielder who is capable of impacting games with his own offense as much as any striker. Furthermore, his intensity and energy would be crucial to the pace at which this team would want to play.

Maybe DeMarcus should try a headband?

Striker: Quincy Douby- An extremely fast, lithe player with an almost intrinsic need to score. Douby’s frame just screams striker to me. Add to that some serious speed and the nerves of a cat burglar and you’ve got this teams’ #1 scoring option. It doesn’t hurt that Quincy is used to having to create scoring chances on his own.

Thierry Henry: Game & frame like that of Quincy Douby.

Striker: Rodney Carney- This was a tough choice between Carney and James White but Carney wins due to his proven willingness to subjugate his overall game for the greater good of the team. To borrow a phrase from Hubie Brown, Carney would be murder in the air. His unbelievable vertical leap and 6’7” frame could turn every corner kick or cross into an alley-oop waiting to happen.

Keeper: Rajon Rondo: Some may wonder why I wouldn’t go with somebody larger than Rondo. It’s simply a matter of preference. I prefer my keepers to be quick and agile rather than towering intimidators. Rondo has long arms, unbelievable quickness and terrific leaping ability to go with the biggest pair of hands this side of Oronde Gadsden. Rondo’s also a noted defender who specializes in deflections and takeaways. What more can you ask for from a top level keeper?

Speaking of those monstrous hands of his, Chad Ford told me recently that Rondo reached into his pregnant girlfriend and delivered their baby himself. His hands are that big. I’m sold.

That was fun wasn't it? Now for a little dose of reality, a letter from Mark Cuban's cheetah.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Dog days approaching...

Hurricane Season

It’s fucking miserable here today. Tropical Storm Alberto has covered Central Florida in a two day long orgy of grey skies, constant rain and just a smidegeon of flooding. Awesome. Less than a week into hurricane season and we’re already experiencing our first effects from the tropics. I’ve lived in Florida for most of my natural life and I swear that I’ve experienced more tropical storms/hurricanes in the last two years than in all my previous years combined. I’m not sure if it’s a byproduct of global warming or El Nino (which for those of you who don’t “habla espanol” is Spanish for “The Nino”) or just a mere coincidence, but whatever it is, it’s really starting to annoy me. Normally I truly enjoy the effects of hurricanes (read: free vacation days, binge drinking, days upon days of poker) but that all changed last night when I walked into my bedroom to discover that nearly the entire carpet had been soaked through with water.
Evidently my backyard had flooded during the afternoon, which caused the water to rise up through the foundation of my house and into the carpet that rests above it. As it was nearly 8:30 by the time I discovered this, I decided against doing anything instead preferring to push the problem off until today. This strategy backfired on me this morning as I stepped out of bed and directly into a puddle on my bedroom floor. The strategy looks even worse now, since it’s been raining harder and even more steadily today than it was yesterday. At this point, I’m just hoping that my dog hasn’t drowned in my flooded house by the time I get home tonight.

World Cup

I would have called work and told them that I had to be out while I wet-vaced (??) my bedroom today but I blew that opportunity when I lied about having to go home yesterday to meet the plumber. When, in actuality, I was going home to watch the US-Czech Republic match from Germany. What a waste of time that was. It was clear that the US had neither the necessary intensity nor chemistry to compete with the Czechs from almost the first minute. Passes weren’t crisp or decisive. Spacing was poor at best. Even the alignment of Bruce Arena was somewhat curious with Beasley playing on the right side (as opposed to his customary left side). About the only player who didn’t seem intimidated by the moment and/or the Czechs was striker Eddie Johnson who didn’t even get on the field until midway through the second half. Just an awful performance (both mentally and physically) all around. At least all I’ll have to do to watch the next match is roll my hungover ass out of bed on Saturday morning.


I’m not much for “popular music”. Yet, every now and again, there is a group or song that fits into the categories that I most frequently listen to while also appealing to the general public’s pop sensibilities. Crazy by Gnarls Barkley is just such a song. It’s been a mainstay on both urban and pop radio stations for several weeks now. I’d like to say that it doesn’t appeal to me but that just not true. I’ve loved Cee-Lo’s voice since the first Goodie Mob album and have been following Danger Mouse since he’s was doing mashups on vinyl (check out his first big vinyl hit, a mashup of Nas & Portishead…utterly brilliant). I think it was Ian of Sexy Results fame who first dubbed Crazy for Hey Ya like fame. When I read Ian’s thoughts, I had yet to hear Crazy. After hearing the first verse of Crazy a day or so later I immediately concurred. Put simply, Crazy is a perfect musical storm in terms of being catchy, quick, unique and just easy enough for white girls to dance to. The fact that this song has become such a mega-hit is not surprise. Hearing it on the local rock radio station yesterday afternoon was a surprise, a major surprise. We’re talking uncharted territory here. Seriously, when was the last time that a hip-hop song crossed over to the point of receiving drive time play on a rock station? I’ve been thinking about this for some time and can’t think of a single one that didn’t involve a rock group or rocker in some form or capacity.

NBA Draft

I know, I know. The NBA Finals aren’t even over yet. I’m secretly hoping that my blatant disregard for the Finals in this space will play some role in the resurgence of the Miami Heat (Pat Riley loves my blog...seriously). Not because I give two shits about the Heat (I’m actually secretly hoping that Shaq and Wade start feuding so that Wade will decide to come play with Dwight in Orlando next summer) but rather because the Finals that only a week ago looked like the most intriguing since I was in high school have quickly eroded into a referendum on the decline of Shaq and the unbelievable coaching maturation of one Avery Johnson. At this point, I’d almost be cool with the Heat winning it all if only because it meant that we’d have to see at least a couple of competitive and exciting games within the next four or five. With all that said, I have a few thoughts on some NBA prospects that I’d like to share.

Brandon Roy: This year’s version of the age old question “How long can a guy be underrated before he becomes overrated?” Has anybody shot up draft boards like this guy in the past six months? At one point in December, scouts were calling him a late first round pick, at best. Now we’re hearing reports of the Bulls considering him at #2. Is he the most NBA ready player in this draft? Probably. Can he make an immediate impact for whatever team selects him? Definitely. Is he going to develop into an NBA superstar who will justify his status as the #2 pick? No way. We’re talking about a two guard with an average jumpshot and good but not great athleticism whose biggest assets are his basketball IQ and versatility. How does all of this equal a player worthy of the top 2 or 3 picks in the draft? I don’t know. Somewhere between 5-12 seems a lot more reasonable to me.

In the interest of full disclosure I should probably tell you that I would be ecstatic if the Magic picked up Roy (even if they had to trade up to 5 or 6 to get him). However, this has infinitely more to do with his ability to fill the Magic’s greatest need than any one aspect of Roy’s game that I’m particularly in love with. He would immediately slide into the starting lineup, giving the Magic one of the league’s most impressive young lineups. Of course, I’m sure this is all going to work out a lot like last year when I was pining for Channing Frye to fall to the Magic, only to watch the Knicks snatch him up while the Magic selected Fran Fucking Vasquez. My prediction current prediction: Roy goes to Portland and the Magic end up with Jerryl Sasser, er, um Ronnie Brewer.

Overrated, Underrated...whatever. Just come to Orlando already.

Shannon Brown: Or as I’m currently calling him, Mike Mamula. Take my word for it, this draft saga is going to end badly. He’s become the latest in a long line of guys to be totally overvalued by scouts due to his freakish combination of strength and athleticism. Did anybody really watch him last year at Michigan State and think to themselves, “Now that is a first round draft pick right there?” I know that I never did. Maurice Ager? Sure. Paul Davis? Maybe, since he’s 7 ft. and all. Shannon Brown? Yeah, not so much. Just read this scouting report from Chad Ford. The item that sticks out most to me is the comment about Brown being a weak ballhandler. Call me crazy but I’d like my guards who are 6’2” and under to be outstanding ballhandlers, not guys who struggle handling the ball during drills. I realize that Brown has a lot of things that you cannot teach athletically but he’s also a 6’2” shooting guard with below average ballhandling skills, an average jumpshot and little to no midrange game. Brown will end up going waaay to high on draft night while more skilled players (Quincy Douby) and players who actually fit NBA profiles for postitions (Kyle Lowry) are passed over. You see it happen in the NBA Draft every year with a couple of guys. Shannon Brown is that guy this year. My prediction: Brown to the Knicks.

Seriously, why not? The Knicks could always use another undersized shooting guard and Zeke has never, ever given us adequate reason to think that he'd make a logical decision with regards to personnel and the logical construction of a team.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Freakin' Sweet!

I'll be back on Monday with some actual material. I figured it's better to let two full NBA Finals Games take place before I start opining on the series. Though I will say that I called the PG mismatch Terry/Harris vs. William/Payton far in advance of last night (though in the spirit of full disclosure I should admit that even I never thought Terry would dominate like that). Just so you don't think I'm tooting my horn here, I'm fairly certain that Beano Cook could've called that mismatch too, and he hasn't watched basketball since the ball had laces and the players were called "cagers". Well, there was that one time he and Johnny Majors watched The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh but that's another story unto itself. Anyway, I'm heading out for the rest of the day in a few minutes and will not be returning until Monday. That's when I'll attempt to tackle a little from both the NBA Finals and the earlyWorld Cup action, as well the normal amount of nonsense and tales of boozy mayhem that you've assuredly come to expect from this blog. (In all actuality, I hope that you don't expect anything from this blog, lest you become extremely disappointed and disillusioned with my presence, or lack thereof in your life).

While I'm in no way saddened by by abbreviated stay in the office today, I do feel for you poor souls who have another few hours left before you can effectively stick to the man for the weekend. With that in mind, I present to you the first (and more than likely) pictures of my sweet effin' beard (I've named it Pablo). I've had this thing up and rocking for over three months now.

Surprisingly, my girlfriend loves Pablo. Seriously. I have no idea why, so don't ask me. Not so suprisingly, the weather down here is making Pablo's days extremely numbered. With the temperatures forcecasted to reach the mid-90's this weekend, Pablo will be lucky to see Monday.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Better late than never...I guess.

Just as I was sitting down to write this I was informed by my boss that I “may be called into a meeting here in a few minutes” so you’ll have to forgive me if this post ends up a little scattered. It wasn’t going to be the most beautiful piece of literature the western world has ever seen to begin with but now I’ll be happy if I can actually get this thing out and finished before it’s time to head home for the day (I'm like psychic or something). Between catching up on work after a four day weekend and being dead ass tired because of a four day weekend there’s hardly been time to even think about what I should write about this week, much less actually write it. As a result of this, today’s post will be a collection of random thoughts/personal accounts from the last week or so.

As has been mentioned in this space, I recently attended a couple of concerts. The first of which was The Roots and Common at the House of Blues in Orlando. As always, it was a fantastic show. I was a little worried about the general energy level of everyone involved b/c they were all coming off of two straight shows at Radio City Music Hall which have already earned legendary status. When you’re talking about a Roots live show, that is saying something. Alas, I had nothing to fear at all. The show was a solid 3 hours of great music. The Roots started off and played for about an hour, eventually giving way to Common who went through a good chunk of BE before moving through his catalog of songs with crowd favorites like I Used to Love H.E.R., The Light, Resurrection and many others. Slowly, members of The Roots trickled back on stage to collaborate with Common on some tracks that they’ve done together in the past. After this, ?uestlove and Co. jumped right back into things by playing for another hour or so, eventually closing up the HOB at right around 2 am. The show was great and I had a fantastic view that also happened to be about 10 feet from the bar. As always, The Roots were well worth the price of admission. Oh yeah, the concert was sponsored by Kool cigarettes. Because of this, the entire venue was plastered with Kool logos and such. I had a silent chuckle about this on numerous occasions.

The second show I attended was in Orlando as well, at a small venue in downtown called The Social. The Social is an intimate venue that holds around 500 people. On this night, it was packed to capacity. People Under the Stairs were playing there first ever show in Orlando and the locals certainly came out to lend their support. The show was fantastic and PUTS played all of the songs that both Vitas and I were hoping for. Unfortunately these dudes must’ve had a plane to catch or something because they finished up their set at 12:30 am. I’ve been to at least 20 shows at The Social and never before had I seen one end this early before 2 am. Nevertheless, it was a good show and the encore even featured my favorite PUTS song of all time, San Francisco Knights. Unfortunately, with the show ending so early, this allowed far too much time for me and my compatriots to get into trouble in the streets of downtown Orlando. Mind you, we’re not talking Chris Henry in Orlando trouble here, but trouble nonetheless. Before the night was said and done, we’d met up with one of Berto’s friends at Berto’s office in downtown Orlando and managed to run up much heftier bar tab than was necessary.

As you may have guessed by now, the first part of the post was written last Thursday afternoon. I would’ve gotten it up last Friday if I had been in the office at all. Instead, I spent most of my day in Daytona Beach at a meeting. I try and make it a rule to stay out of Daytona for anything other than bachelor parties and Black College Reunion but this was an unavoidable commitment. On the bright side, I was home and done with my day/week by about 4.

Things have really been humming since then as a result of both Thursday and Friday’s meetings so I don’t have a tremendous amount to add today as most of the subjects that I had planned to take on are now horribly out of date or overdone by other bloggers and/or media members. So you’ll have to forgive me but I won’t being waxing philosophically on the criminal genius of AJ Nicholson and Fred Rouse (good thing you brought your embroidered receiving gloves to guard against fingerprints Fred) or the Conference Finals (since they’re, you know, over) or even Dirk’s ascension into the upper reaches of NBA stardom. However, I do have a few things to say:

- I’m not as down on Sopranos as most seem to have been this season but even I was disappointed in the lackluster season finale on Sunday (aside from seeing AJ’s hot girlfriend nekkid). In fact, the whimper in which Sopranos went out with only further served to whet my appetite for the new season of Deadwood because if we know anything about Deadwood, it’s that it will consistently bring the heat with murder, sex and other types of assorted debauchery. I’d be ten times more geeked for the season 3 to kick off it I hadn’t about the series' cancellation last week. Fuck. Now I want to murder somebody. Wait, now that I checked the link for this post it seems as if some sort of happy medium has been reached. It's not a foull season but it should keep me out of jail.

- Speaking of murder, I’m as excited about the return of Hubie Brown on Thursday as I am about any of the individual combatants involved in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Nothing, and I mean nothing, makes me smile like hearing Hubie say things like, “Jason Terry is murder on that pull-up jumper going to his right.” Seriously, listen for it. I first noticed Hubie's proclivity for using the word murder during last year’s Finals and it’s been my favorite running subplot in ABC broadcasts ever since.

- ABC has actually done a pretty respectable job during the playoffs aside from the continued insistence on using that camera on a string thing that zooms all over the court. It makes me dizzy. Please stop. With that said, there is one thing that is bothering me. What’s with all the damn Tom Petty? I have no problem with the use of Runnin Down a Dream as it feels fairly appropriate and is surely a big hit with over 35 white folks. However, why in the hell is it necessary to use Tom Petty songs exclusively for all playoff related montages? Listen, everybody loves a montage. You gotta have a montage. That much we all know. I’m just having some trouble figuring out why ABC couldn’t have bought the rights to a couple of other songs for the 2006 playoffs. The playoffs last 2 months, give us damn variety already. Actually, I should probably just be happy that ABC didn’t hire out the Black Eyed Peas again.

- Finally, as further proof that I'm a certifiably awful dude I present you with this story from Saturday night. I met some of my friends up at the bar around 5:30 or so for some drinks and dinner. The plan was to grab some food and then chill out for awhile at somebody's house before heading out for the evening. Things did not go as planned. As the drinks began to flow more frequently, a number of our other friends found their way to the bar. My old roomate Federico was even forced to meet me at the bar as I hadn't yet finished my boozing by the time he made his way into town. Eventually, around 11:30, I finally manged to get myself extricated from the bar. As you can probably imagine, I had a significant buzz at this point. Federico had come into town to conduct some business with my friend Sammy so we decided to take care of that before going back out. So Sammy, Fed, Nick, Sammy's girlfriend Rachel and Rachel's friend (whose name escapes me) all made our way back to Sammy's house. Once there, our collective buzz was heightened, significantly. It was at this point that Rachel's friend took it upon herself to say something that I perceived to be an attack on my character (whether it actually was is still up for debate). Often times I would let something like this go without so much as a passing glance. This was not one of those times. Upon hearing her comment I quickly turned to her and said flatly, "Whatever size 10." After she picked up her jaw off the floor and Nick and Fed stopped pissing themselves she eventually said, "Umm...what did you just say to me?". To which I respnded, "You heard me 10."

I'm Mark...nice to meet you.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

That certainly killed an afternoon...

I would have a post up right about now. Instead, as I was about halfway through typing it I got called into an impromptu meeting at work. A meeting that just now let out. I also have to go to Daytona for a meeting tomorrow that may last all day long.

Moral of the story: Jobs and responsibility blow. They blow donkey balls.

I'll try my damndest to get this post up and finished by tomorrow afternoon sometime. I'm not making any promises though.