Diary of a Mad Hoop Fiend

Basketball = My Life …. any questions?

Diary of a Mad Hoop Fiend - Basketball = My Life …. any questions?

The day I met my hero

The Lead Up

Up in Canada, we have but one lonely NBA franchise: The Toronto Raptors. The surrounding Ontario and Quebec region get all sorts of chances to interact and relate to the franchise and its players. The rest of Canada is left to rot – at least that’s how I feel, sometimes.

Ever since the NBA 3-on-3 was cancelled our only opportunity to come into contact with the Toronto franchise has gone away and my interest and connection with them dwindles by the day.

To be able to get to Toronto to watch a live Raptors game I’d have to drive about 24 hours which roughly translates to a 3 day drive. If I wanted to splurge, I could fly there. The cost of a trip like this, both in terms of money and time, exceeds my reach. So I’ve never been to a Raptors game. The only other possible destination is Minnesota, and I had never considered going to see them until this year.

It’s not because I didn’t like them. It’s just because the trip never entered my mind because I was set on the idea that the only way I could ever watch an NBA game was from the comfort of my own couch.

But even before the Raptors, I always had the Spurs. From the days of David Robinson, Sean Elliott, Avery Johnson and Vinny Del Negro I’ve always been a fan. And I’ve been in love with Tim Duncan and his game ever since he came into the League in ’97-’98. Ditto with Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker’s games. They’ve caught my imagination in ways that few NBA players have before or since. For whatever reason, I feel connected to them not only as players but as people. I admire the loyalty that the franchise and players display towards each other and find it easy to back them. No trouble with the law, no temper tantrums, no egos. Just basketball.

My biggest regret is that I’ve never gone to a Spurs game, or an NBA game for that matter. I’ve been such a die hard hoop head for so long and have never indulged in the joy of a live NBA experience. I’ve had to sit and listen as countless people around me have gone to see their favourite team and I live in their experiences for the few minutes they tell their story, always wishing it was me.

Wheels in Motion

But in early January I decided that I needed to see Tim Duncan play at least once before he retires, which is not too far off. So my imagination went wild and it finally dawned on me that I could go see them play in Minnesota. I chose Minnesota because of the players they have now, Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love. They are two of the most intriguing players of the last few years and seem to have the talent and loyalty necessary to take them far. They’re fun to watch and they seemed like genuinely nice dudes. As luck would have it, the Spurs would be there twice in January!

My plans to go on January 2nd backfired because I did not have enough time to pull the trip together. I begrudgingly canceled the trip and made solid plans to go for the game on the 27th.

And then it happened. Luck looked my way for a moment and I was given an amazing opportunity to not only go see them play but to also, perhaps, meet Timmy and the Spurs and Kevin and the Wolves in person!

Dream Come True

The day of the game (Friday) I packed my bags, picked up my two friends and we drove through a raging blizzard in North Dakota and an 8 hour drive to the Target Center.

We were treated to a backstage tour of the arena, pictures at Center Court and a chance to get some pictures and autographs, which we did. I met Brad Miller, Derrick Williams, Tony Parker, Matt Bonner and Sean Elliott. Of all the players and autographs I got, none meant more to me than when Tim Duncan came over and signed my jersey, which I bought during his rookie year. Tim and I are both 35 years old. We were both born in 1976. And yet I look up to him. I consider him my role model. He signed the 2 and I told him he was my hero. He looked up for a few moments, thanked me and smiled. Then he signed the rookie card that I got from a good friend a number of years ago and I tried hard to hold it all together. It was a moment that lasted maybe 5 seconds, but it meant the entire world to me.

I got the chance to not only see him play but to also speak to him, get his picture and his autograph as well. The autograph hounds at the game smirked at me as I jumped for joy and indulged in a moment of complete disbelief/insanity. But I didn’t care. For those guys, coming to a game and getting some autographs is the norm. You can tell by the stack of pictures they had in their hands or the oversized binder with signatures tucked away in plastic sleeves. These guys get signatures because they can. I got mine because I can’t. For me, it’s not an every day thing to come to an NBA game and get to meet the Hall of Famers and franchise legends I grew up watching. So I’ll jump for joy and freak out if I want to, thanks.

I was most impressed with the patience, grace and kindness that those guys showed the fans gathered before the game waiting for an autograph. Especially Duncan, Brad Miller and Tony Parker – guys who’ve been there for a while and are probably asked for autographs thousands of times throughout the season. Their willingness to interact with the fans shows that they appreciate what it means to be an NBA player and that endears them more to me.

It was all a Dream

The game itself went by way too quickly. I was so busy just drinking in the entire atmosphere that I didn’t really watch the game; the sights, sounds, food, cheerleaders, the fans and the players all grabbed my attention and I couldn’t concentrate on the game itself until the final 5 minutes. The Spurs lost the game, in the end. Normally, this would cause me to be unhappy but I don’t even remember the final score. The internet tells me it was 87-79, but I didn’t even notice. Exchanging thumbs ups and  high fives with jubilant T-Wolves fans helped ease the pain. It’s not that I was happy that the Spurs lost – it’s that I was grateful to have had the opportunity to experience it live.

The memory of that day will be with me for a long time. And to think that it was all brought together by a group of Timberwolves staff, friends and family that were willing to help an old hoop head meet his hero.

I got to meet Tim Duncan and Sean Elliott! Punch me in the face and Punch it hard! I want to make sure I wasn’t dreaming!

Forgiveness in Sports

It’s no secret that every sports fan has players that they love and hate. It’s just the way it is. Sometimes it’s because of who they are as players or people, sometimes it’s because they pose a challenge or a threat to the legacy of a player they love. Myself, I have a list of players that I hate. I did it up on Facebook with the collaboration of another friend.

While I was doing it up, I came up on the realization that Kevin Durant is no longer on my hate list, he’s somewhere in between. I don’t even recall WHEN this changed. I just woke up one day and he wasn’t on the list anymore. I kind of like the player he is now. Kind of.

And that got me to thinking about forgiveness in sports.

Is it possible to forgive an athlete his transgressions and like who he is on and off the playing field once he falls out of grace?

Personally, the thing that defines whether a guy is in my love/hate list is a list of criteria that I adhere to and use to argue my points with fellow fans of a sport:

1) How does the player perform on he court?

Do they share the ball? Are they good teammates? Do they share/hog the ball? Do they get dramatic when they don’t get their way? Are they respectful towards teammates, opponents, coaches and fans? Are they good ambassadors to the game?

Easily the biggest reason why guys enter my hate list.

2) How does the player perform off the court?

Are they a good citizen? Do they live to the best of their abilities and take advantage of their God given talents to create a better world for those around them?  Are they responsible? Are they good parents? Are they good role models?

This is a major sticking point for a LOT of people who talk about the game because they say that a player’s performance on the court should have no bearing on their role model status. They quote Charles Barkley’s infamous “I’m not a role model” bit with impudence and turn my opinion and criteria to something solely based on hate for an individual whom I do not even know.

3) Is the player willing/able to change who he is as both a human being and an athlete?

Do they have run ins with the law, and if they do, do they even care about the impact of their actions? Do they show remorse (genuine) and attempt to change for the better? Are they willing to accept the criticisms and use that as fuel to become better people/athletes?

4) Has he changed at all since he was last evaluated?

This is kind of a sub-point to #3 as I’m always revising and seeing whether or not a player has earned the right (like Durant) to removed from the hate list or be moved up further in the standings.

5) How many transgressions has the player had in X amount of time?

Do they make a habit of consistently and remorselessly crossing the line? Does each confrontation with authority increase or decrease in severity?

These 5 questions are what I use to decide if I hate/love someone. Let me show you how it works by using a few of the guys from my list …. For guys like Vince Carter, it’s easy to see that their career has been on a disappointing downward spiral for quite some time. In like a Lion, out like a lamb. Part of it is age, part of it is a lack of desire to improve, part of it is ego. Other guys come in and hog the ball (Kobe), whine when they don’t get their shot quota (Melo) and yell and disrespect teammates (Westbrook), coaches (Sprewell) and opposing players (KG). Some of these guys are lauded for their achievements on the court but their behaviour on the same court is embarrassing. You can pass it off as “passion” or whatever you want to, but a team cancer is a team cancer. And when your own peers consider you to be a bad influence in the locker room, then I question why WE as fans admire these cretins.

In real life, if we’re playing a game of basketball and a guy just starts jacking anything and everything in sight, we call them on it. If a guy stops playing defense, blames his teammates for all mistakes and cusses teammates out when they make a mistake or don’t pass them the ball, we give them a few choice words and kick the fool to the curb, no matter what the talent. If a guy consistently gets into fights and uses racial slurs and demeaning tactics to play the game, the entire team takes a hit (forfeits, suspensions, expulsion from a league).

In real life, we don’t normally make friends with guys who run dog fighting rings, deal drugs or are accused of rape. We stay away from that type of person because it affects how our peers see us and the type of attention (negative) that we get because of our association with a negative individual. In real life, if a guy beats his spouse or commits adultery, we tend to NOT hang out with him because it goes against the morals that most of us have on abuse of women and the commitment of marriage. Of course, that’s a simplistic way of looking at it and the depth of a friendship complicates things sometimes, but the point is that we don’t act like that in real life and our peers probably don’t act that way either.

In real life, guys like Steve Nash, Derek Fisher (even though he’s a Laker) and Etan Thomas are the guys we strive to be like because they try to make a positive difference in their neck of the world, they try to leave things better than what it was when they came in. And yet it’s the pot-heads (Beasley), lunatics (Artest) and slackers (Cousins) that are admired and revered while the hard workers (Fisher), class acts (Battier) and true role models (Hill) get left in the dust. It really makes me wonder what our society actually values and if we are focusing on the proper things.

So can a guy be forgiven and be moved out of the fans’ doghouses once he’s in?

Short answer, yes.

Long answer, yes, but it’s complicated.

Guys like Stephen Jackson and Ben Wallace proved that you can outgrow an event like the Malice at the Palace and go on to have a very fruitful career that is devoid of the drama of the past. All this is provided that there’s no more excursions into the bizarre or insane or ultra violent. There has to be remorse shown and a willingness to engage the public in a penitent manner. In the case of guys like Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki, hard work and dedication transformed good players into great players. And Chris Andersen proved that you can be a drug addict, make a recovery and get a second chance to continue a professional sports career.

But the change has to be genuine and not some half assed attempt to save face in the public eye.

In the end, it’s up to every individual fan to figure out what they value about a sport and their athletes. I think whom you choose to idolize speaks volumes about what type of person you are. But for some people it’s not that deep. And for some people, allowing a player to leave a doghouse is easier than it is for others. I have my criteria already well established and guys like Kobe, Artest, Brown and Carter will probably never leave it.

But that’s just me. Your mileage may vary.

Lakers Swept!

This is a glorious day!

Not only were the Lakers swept by the Dallas Mavericks in Round 2 of the NBA Playoffs, but they were also ousted unceremoniously with Dallas putting on a record-tying shooting clinic and LA falling apart at the seams. This included 2 cheap shots by Bynum and Odom which showed the Lakers’ true make up: Cowardly, egotistical, lazy, thugs.

I am so happy to have the Lakers and ALL their fans eat a nice, big piece of humble pie! Eat it, all you bandwagon riding posers!

You’ve been de-pantsed!

Virtually wedgied in the arena of sports!

Instead of being crowned, the Lakers were simply cowed and owned.

Shamed and embarrassed, we can now watch their dynasty as it falls apart piece by piece, starting with the retirement of one Phil Jackson!

They went from being NBA Royalty to being NBA PEASANTS all in the span of one week! From feared to clowned, men to boys!

This is a day I’m going to remember for a long time!

 

The sweetest surprise

I was checking the NBA standings  today and was surprised to see that the Nuggets are 16-5 since trading away Carmelo Anthony and have climbed the NBA standings to 5th place. I find this to be the second sweetest surprise this season for me. The first one is that the Spurs are revitallized and playing NBA-best basketball again.

I’ve been a HUGE Carmelo hater. Always have been.

I WANTED to like him when he first came into the League. I had that poster where Warrick teabags a guy when he was playing with Syracuse. And when people would ask me who I liked better: Carmelo or Hakim Warrick, I’d say “Carmelo for sure.”

But then he went to Denver and was accused of that Snitching video, he had that punch n run incident with the Knicks and he was found with pot in his bag at an airport and made a buddy take the fall and subsequent charges and he was found guilty of a DUI. It became difficult for me to see him as anything but a talented but spoiled child. After that, I hated on the Nuggets. Hard. And when he tried to clear up his image and tried to make a change, I held fast to my belief that he was a selfish and overrated basketball player.

Well, I’m right. If Carmelo was truly as good as everyone thinks he is, the Knicks would not be .500 since the All-Star Break and the Nuggets would have crumbled under the pressure. Instead, the Nuggs are, in my opinion a playoff nightmare for the Thunder. I bet the Nuggs win that series and give the Spurs a run for their money before falling in the Semis. As every comentator has noted thus far, they are very similar to the ’04 Pistons in that they don’t have one true superstar per se, but they play great team basketball anyway.

They’ve gutted out win after win (they’re 2-1 against the Lakers this season) and they continue to thrive despite a tumultuous season.

Look, I’m not disputing Melo’s talent. I admit he’s got scads of talent. And his career numbers (24PPG, 6.3RPG) are no joke. But he is not THAT guy that is gonna lead a team to a chip. He’s not in the discussion for Top 50 of all time (yet). He doesn’t even crack the Top 100 yet, in my opinion. All that aside, the fact that glares at me from across the room is the reputation of his teams. Perennial first round flameouts, .500 basketball, terrible defense. NO one disputes those when talking about Melo. Even more crazy is the fact that he’s regarded as a cancer in the locker room; A guy who yells at teammates for not passing him the ball (hello, DeMarcus Cousins?) and a guy who checks out of games if his ‘per game shot quota’ is not met. For the longest time, people thought that it was the Nuggets not surrounding Melo with good enough talent. But since Melo walked in February, it’s become clear that perhaps the talent around Melo was not the issue, the issue was Melo himself.

Look, this post isn’t here to I can trash Melo. Believe that.

This post is here to celebrate the Nuggets and the resurgence they’ve had, post melo-drama.

 

2011 Fantasy Season

As I write this, I’m sitting about 200 points behind my opponent this week pondering the very real possibility that I’ll lose in the semis … I’ve got a lot more to say about this and the freak show that was the 2011 fantasy season … But it’ll have to wait for another day.

All-Star Saturday Night Recap

I saw all of All-Star Saturday Night. Taped it so I could go back and watch it afterward. It’s normally my fave part of the entire All-Star Weekend. This year, however, I’m not so sure about that ….

1. Haier Shooting Stars

I was underwhelmed with the turnout for the Shooting Stars competition. You’re telling me that only FOUR teams want to participate in it? And what’s more, you’re telling me that four CENTERS are the NBA reps for each of those teams? As IF Al Horford or Pau Gasol ever chuck up half court heaves in games the way that Kobe, LeBron and Pierce do!

I get that LA, Atlanta and Chicago get their own teams ….. but a TEXAS team?!??!?! Why not expand it to SIX teams and let Dallas, San Antonio and Houston rep each other?! It all seemed very shoddily organized. Not to mention the fact that each of those teams had some terrible times in the competition. over a minute to sink all those shots doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but when you watch one team heave up 18 half court shots, the only thing I’m looking for is a gun so I can shoot out my brains. I don’t know how they can improve this part of the ASW, but it would be nice to do SOMETHING to make it more entertaining and varied – and I don’t just mean the types of shots taken. More teams, please. More teams.

After seeing Team Texas put on that dazzling display of shooting in the Semis, it was kinda anti-climactic to see them fizzle in the Finals to Al Horford and Smitty. And Coco Miller may be able to shoot but that hairdo she has is hideous. It looked like it was stolen from a pregnant teenage waitress at some crappy roadside diner. All she needed was gum in her mouth and I might have had a craving for her to spit in my cup o’ coffee and muffin!

2. Skills Competition

It was all well and good until Chris Paul missed that layup. I laughed so hard at that one. Reggie Miller made a GREAT statement in that every point guard that comes in is worried more about looking cool than actually winning the damn thing. Everyone except for Steph Curry. I was happy to see him actually go hard at it and bust a sweat. Him and Russel Westbrook. After finishing last in last year’s comp, it was nice to see him finish higher and redeem himself. Everyone else was a disappointment.

As an aside, am I the only person who thought that Stephen Curry looked like he was the same age as the teenager he was playing for? Kid looks YOUNG! He needs a Baron Davis/James Harden beard! And for the record, I had picked Curry to win it. :-)

3. 3-Point Shootout

It was disappointing to see Ray Allen NOT win it. Worse still was watching a role player like James Jones take it. But my buddy Nate called it right from the start. I had thought that it may have been Dorell Wright … but he failed me. Again, the Finals for this event was disappointing. Gone are the days of Bird where you needed to make 20+ to win it …

Durant embarrassed himself in this one, making just five shots; one on each rack. As a 33% 3 point shooter this year, he easily stuck out like a sore thumb and did not deserve to be there. Particularly with the Spurs’ Matt Bonner shooting so well. But I guess he’s not household enough outside of San Antonio and Toronto.

Good on James Jones to take the title away from Pierce, though. I hated having to hear about how good a 3 point shooter he was (career 37% shooter, 38% this season).

4. The Dunk Contest


I have never been so insulted in my life. A CHOIR and a CAR and all he can jump over is the damn car’s hood?!?!? Okay, some of you will say …

“But he jumped OVER a car, Rico! That has to be worth SOMETHING, right?!?!”

WRONG!

If  Dwight Howard stuck out his foot and I jumped over it, did I jump OVER Dwight Howard?! Hell no!

HELL NO!

THIS is how you JUMP over a car …

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cySfw8f0beg

THIS is how you DUNK over a car …

THIS is how you become all hype, no substance …

Boo to Kenny Smith and Blake Griffin for hyping up nothing.

“You know what? I hate to say this, but that was not the greatest dunk.” - Charles Barkley

And he’s right. There were other dunks that night that were WAY better.

JaVale McGee’s 2 basket dunk?

Amazing.

East Bay Funk Remix?

Nice

DeMar DeRozan’s Showstopping one handed reverse windmill slam?

ON HIS FIRST TRY!!! TRULY Amazing.

Serge Ibaka’s BEHIND the FT line dunk?

Super Nice.

Teddy Bear Dunk?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3a45SG_DZQ

Creative.

Blake Griffin’s ORDINARY 360 first round dunk?!?!?

First of all, it was NOT a 50 and it was 100% shameful that it got a 49.

And I get that he’s the hometown boy, the next big thing and the current “cool” in the NBA, but he did not deserve to win it. And this segues into my final point ….

Fan Voting is HIDEOUS! The average basketball fan at these things knows nothing about basketball. Want proof?

Blake Griffin was GIVEN the Dunk Contest Championship based on not one, but TWO non-dunks.

More proof needed?

They voted Justin Bieber the Celebrity All-Star Game MVP over Scottie Pippen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fR_cIY9xdM

Not even the kid agrees with it!

Want even MORE proof?

They voted Yao Ming into the All-Star Game STARTING lineup based on FIVE games!

And this doesn’t even cover the actual All-Star Game itself … that’s an issue for a different post altogether!

All in all, it was a fun night. But what should have been the best event, just proved to be all about hype. They asked for creativity, got scads of it and in the end it was awarded to the guy who half assed the event. The NBA should hang it’s head in shame …

If they’re gonna award it to the hometown boys, then just stop with the “voting” and competition and just give it to them before they get to the arena! Save me the 2 hours and let me get to bed early.

Rookie Sophomore 2011

So I just finished watching the Rookie/Soph game and these are my thoughts on this part of the ASW2011 …

1. Blake Griffin needs to grow a set and play through the pain.

I know he’s the poster boy for the All-Star Weekend and that it’s basically him advertising himself to the world for his basketball prowess, but one tap on the nose sends him to the bench for the entire second half …. that sucked. It would have been better seeing Wall rack up 30 assists by tossing them up for Griffin than underachieving whiner DeMarcus Cousins.

2. John Wall wins the Rookie/Soph MVP award for the 2011 Rookie / Sophomore game by virtue of his 22 assists. At the end of the game, Craig Sager goes and makes it uncomfortable in the post-game interview …

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ejdzhbp623Y&feature=player_embedded

Craig Sager may have made things uncomfortable for Wall, but the reality is that his troubles on and off the court have been documented well this season, not the least of which is last week’s suspension arising from a fight with a teammate for “not getting him the ball”. Cousin’s reaction during this interview was hilarious in that “oh snap!” kinda way.

What you really have here is the exposure of the typical NBA Player who is spoiled and comes in with a feeling of entitlement to something that he has not worked for. My status on FB after watching the Rookie/Soph game was simple: “DeMarcus Cousins is a disgrace”.

Yes, he went for 33 points & 14 rebounds, but if you watch the game closely something sticks out. We ALL know that the ASW is not the place for hard nosed D or maximum effort plays, but if you watch Cousins in comparison to the rest of the All-Stars that were there, it becomes clear that he is the laziest player there.

Watch a Kings game and you’ll see it. Half assed effort on Offense and completely disconnected on D. It’s shameful.

And to go toe to toe with a guy like DeJuan Blair, who went for 28 & 15 of his own, and consider his night a triumph is embarrassing.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Blair. LOVE HIM. But he has no ACLs in his knees and is basically ground-bound. Add to that that he is extremely undersized when compared to Cousins and then it all jumps out a bit more as to how lazy Cousins is. He acts like he’s hot shit and does nothing to stand out above the crowd.

So Craig Sager may have made things uncomfortable, but in hindsight perhaps pointing out how HARD Cousins is fucking up his career may be a good move. If it helps center him and get his act together then I say “Good Job”.

3. John Wall can Dougie.

It’s always nice to see some personality and someone having fun in what they do. To be paid millions to play a game is amazing. And I think these guys forget. And along comes a guy like LeBron, Shaq (though he is a douche too) and Wall to remind these guys to have some fun too. Plus the fans love it.

4. DeJuan Blair can dunk nice

Nothing more to say.

5. Carmelo is a flea.

Calling the current Nuggets/Melo garbage “Melo-Drama” is actually right. It gets sickening to see all the talk focused on him rather than the great group of activities and fun that is happening right now. And I can’t believe that New Jersey is back in the hunt for Melo once again. I’ll be glad when all his posturing and posing is done. Then we’ll get to see what his basketball heart is made of. Me? I think it’s made of sucker punches and running.

Can’t wait til I can catch up and watch the Celebrity All Star Game ….

The End of the Road …

I’ve been thinking about this as it relates to basketball for quite some time. Every year the big question looms overhead, becoming larger and heavier to look at and answer:

“How long do I have left?”

This is a question that the pro ballers no doubt deal with when they get to double digit seasons played. And for the weekend warriors, like myself, it’s no different.

The last few years my team has been playing Div.2 basketball against some tough, fast and much younger (in my case) opponents. Of late, being a stay at home dad and all, I’ve noticed a steady decline in my endurance and conditioning. In reality this has been happening for the last 8 or so seasons, and I have just tried to ignore it. Each year, the gap widens and it becomes more strenuous to outperform and keep up with the young’uns.

This season, I’ve witnessed my teammates fall to many injuries ranging from fractured orbital bones and scratched corneas to torn PCLs and the common ankle sprain. Each time a teammate goes down, I wilt a little inside. The injuries we face in basketball are a fact of life which are as common as rain during spring. But as you get older, it becomes harder to recover and deal with the reduced mobility and strain that an injury places on career and/or family duties.

I’ve had the distinct displeasure of suffering many serious injuries over my years playing ball; herniated discs, fractured ankle and wrists, 2 knee surgeries and shredded ankle ligaments. The knee and back injuries were severe enough that doctors warned that I would suffer from painful and potentially debilitating arthritis pain by the time I was 50. When I was 23, 24 and 25, these numbers did not bother me because I was of the mindset that I would be dead by 30 – an arrogant personal commentary about not wanting to get old.

In October of this year I turn 35 and as the days and months tick away and the milestone looms nearer and nearer, I find myself being gripped by fear. Terrifying fear – and questions.

How much longer will I be able to play basketball at a high level?

I’ve been playing since 1992. I’ve seen a LOT of younger cats come and go, each trying to prove that they can outfox me on the court. Year in and year out, I persevere and add a new wrinkle to my game that makes me versatile and malleable to changes in life that I go through. The young cats drop off, one by one. Each season they are replaced by new kids that think they can outplay the “old man”.  I’ve been called washed up, a senior citizen; I’ve been told to hang em up. But each year, the wrinkles I add to my game make me too much to bear for one dimensional types. For years, I’ve been playing at a high level. But how much longer will I be able to keep pushing my body? How many more times will I ask my body to meet my demands before it fails? This year, especially, I’ve noticed a much bigger change in my game. Less pounding, more shooting, less hardcore defense, more shortcuts. Some call it “veteran’s instinct” …. me? I call it getting older. I’m having to find new ways to play basketball, new things I can do to overcome my body’s failings.

And that’s only the half of it. I USED to be able to play (no joke) 8 hours straight with no water breaks every damn day. Each year, that has decreased and I’ve grown pains where there never were any. At first it was knees, then it was my ankles, my back, my arches … always something new. Each time, the new pain is added to the old pain and the pains linger for longer and longer. I’ve had to start taking painkillers to dull the aches for a few days while my body recovers. It all really makes me wonder whether my body will be able to take the beatings I give it for much longer.

I’ve always said that, if I lived past 30, I would play ball til I was 50. But I’ve become well aware that there are VERY few guys that play basketball in my league that are over 45 in Div 2 or 3. I know that my health might force me to hang up the sneakers for good one day. And even if I am able to drop in divisions and play against older, slower cats, I have this fear that I’m gonna have to separate myself from the only basketball family I know – Shaka Dula – in order to do it. It’s a terrifying prospect, trying to see life in a different uniform with different teammates. For the last 10 years, these guys have been my comrades. Soldiers in arms. And to go to war with someone else … it makes me wilt a little inside.

My better half reassures me that I am hanging up on a future that might never come to pass. That I am dwelling on the negative and worrying about things that are beyond my control. I hear her and understand what she says. And I agree 100%.

And yet the fears come back every few days to haunt me in my dreams and bother me in my days.

A few days ago, after a church meeting, I was driving home trying to decide if I should go to basketball or just stay home. I was already about 25 minutes late and by the time I got home, grabbed my stuff and made it to the gym, I would be a full hour late. I debated within myself the merits of staying home. But by the time I got home I made a point to myself that I could not argue with …

I don’t know how much longer I have left to play ball, but I know I have a lot less time than I used to. Even if it was only for 45 minutes or an hour, it was still better than nothing. At least I would get to bask in the glow of the game that has given me so much for one more night.

And with that, I was off to play ball one more time.

There are examples all around of people who “lost it all” for one reason or another. And the reality is that wealth, fame, youth, beauty and athletic ability are all temporary, fleeting things.

I don’t know how much longer I have left on the basketball court.

But what I do know is that I am gonna ride it out as long as I can and enjoy every minute of it. Even if it means painkillers.

Because when I get to the end of my playing days, I wanna be able to look back on the road I’ve traveled with no regrets, only smiles and fond memories.

Kevin Garnett is an even bigger douche than we thought possible

The latest rumour on Garnett’s douche-baggery is that he called Charlie Villanueva a “Cancer Patient” during the Pistons/Cavs game this week.
This is the tweet from Charlie V.

This is KG’s reply. This is what Danny Ainge thought

This is the reports from ESPN’s analysts.

And this is my word …

KG is a classless douche. Period.

Anyone who makes fun of individuals for suffering from a life threatening illness deserves to humiliated for his actions.

What, you say he’s passionate? That he’s intense? That he’s been this way for 15, 16 years? That this is how he plays? That it’s okay because it’s sports?

Ok, cool, then in that case, let’s make it okay to make ridicule someone publicly for being gay, being black, white or hispanic and for being a Jew, Christian or Muslim while we’re at it.

Trash talk is fine, until it becomes personal. People forget that. And until it’s you who’s been insulted personally in trash talk, then it goes over your head.

Me? I’ve been told I’m old, washed up and retired by a child with half the skills and an eighth of my basketball IQ. I took that personally.

Let me give you an example:

This is trash talk – “You play D like I wear my boxer briefs … LOOSE.” “You dribble like you’re standing in a puddle of piss.”

This is an insult – “Fags don’t belong on the court.” “I’m going to own you like the jews own palestine.” “You’re a cancer patient.”

Insults cross the line from random and vague insults about your game to something specific about the person you are.

KG crossed that line and a whole lot of people are upset by it.

And rightfully so.

Cancer patients don’t have it easy. It’s not a fun life. And Villanueva, who suffers from his own medical skin condition (Alopecia Areata) is an easy target for comparisons to suffering form cancer.

KG, meanwhile, is hiding behind a carefully crafted PR statement with the full backing of his GM and head coach. Has he made a public statement on his own? No. Has he apologized? No. But he has dodged the questions very well. The Celtics, meanwhile, are accusing Charlie V. of violating “an unwritten rule” that is what happens on the court, stays on the court.

That is complete and utter bullshit, in my opinion. Because what that does is make it acceptable for a myriad of racist, prejudiced and insulting things to take place under the blanket of “scout’s honor”.

The fact remains that KG has once again shown his true colours. Douchebag, asshole, prejudiced prick and all around jerk. You wanna idolize that and say he’s a winner? Fine.

But don’t complain when it happens at a High School Basketball court in middle America.

Is Allen Iverson a Turkey?

I’ve been thinking about writing this for a while now and a chat with a good friend after our season opening basketball game had me seriously pondering it.

The subject? Allen Iverson.

Well, I read in the news this morning that AI is officially headed to Turkey for 2 years to play basketball.

Let me let this soak in for you …. ALLEN IVERSON is headed to Turkey to play basketball for 2 years.

What are we talking about here? We’re talking about Iverson! (sorry, had to)

The official deal is worth 4 Million over 2 years, but that’s a side story here.

The real story is that Iverson could not get a job with any of the 30 NBA teams to play basketball this year.

14 year veteran

Big East Rookie of the Year, Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and Big East All Rookie Team in 1995 for Georgetown.

NCAA Big East Defensive Player of the Year, First Team All American, and First Team Big East in 1996.

selected first overall in the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1996.

1997 NBA Rookie of the Year and All Rookie First Team

1999 First Team All NBA and led the NBA in scoring with 26.8 points per game (ppg)

2000 Second Team All NBA

3 Time NBA All Star (2000-02)

2001 NBA Most Valuable Player and First Team All NBA

2001 NBA leader in scoring with 31.1 ppg

2002 NBA scoring leader (31.4 ppg), steals leader (2.80 per game), and most minutes played (42.7 per game)

Averages of 13.2 Points and 4 Assists per game in his final year in Detroit and Memphis

Career averages of 26.7 Points, 6.2 Assists, 3.7 Rebounds per game with a 42.5% FG, 78.1% FT

This man can’t get a job above Kwame Brown, Darko Milicic, Chris Duhon, Von Wafer, Marcus Banks, Patrick Beverly, Tweety Carter, Eddie Gill, Jason Hart, Acie Law, Mustafa Shakur and Sergio Rodriguez?

This doesn’t seem right to me.

The popular consensus is that he is a cancer in the locker room with a huge ego and an unwillingness to learn.

But is he THAT different from Zach Randolph (with his ego and multiple run ins with the law INCLUDING the most recent reports that have him being a MAJOR trafficker of marijuana in multiple states in the US) or Vince Carter (ego and laziness) or Josh Howard (ego and his infamous star spangled banner speech) or even DeShawn Stevenson?

Fact of the matter is that egos in the NBA appear to be a must have thing in order to survive in the cold, cut throat world of Pro Basketball. ANd the self-entitlement and immature behaviour is common in most pro sports and NOT just an NBA thing. Look at football and baseball and see the myriad examples of drug abuse, gun toting, spousal abuse, and irresponsible behaviour displayed by many “stars” in MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA and it becomes clear that the issue here is NOT unique to AI.

I don’t know, man. Something doesn’t add up.

Iverson has always said himself that he is an honest individual and that he would not compromise himself and he has constantly spoken out about many issues in the NBA even if it has polarized and marginalized a fan base that desperately wanted to love him. As for the NBA itself? It made BILLIONS of dollars in ticket sales, concessions, jersey and memorabilia sold with Iverson’s name & likeness in it. It seems wrong to me that now that AI needs a hand, that the NBA and David Stern so coldly turn their backs on him and let him go to the wilderness for his final years of pro basketball.

After the way his career went and the way he was idolized and loved by so many people, it just doesn’t seem right to have it all end this way.

A Loss of Love

About Gilbert Arenas and life …

I’ve been meaning to steal some time recently, what with the start of another NBA season just around the corner, to write about something basketball related. Reality is that I am just swamped with work about 80% of the time and the remainder … well, I just wanna chill.

But this article on ESPN actually made me blog because I thought it was really sad to see the way that life the last few years has changed Gilbert Arenas.

Over the last few weeks, he’s come in as a different person, with a much more serious demeanor than I am used to seeing. Gone is the guy who would crack jokes and have fun with it. Here is a man who, watching the interviews and the body language, has lost a love of the sport of basketball now.

“Right now I’m out there to hit open shots, teach John the ins and the outs of the game, and then eventually go on and move on — on my way. He’s Batman, I’m Robin. When I came in, Larry [Hughes] moved aside for me to become a star, and I’m moving aside for [Wall] to become a star.”

“It’s a double-headed sword. I guess at this point I’m at that point where people are going to nitpick everything I do just because I got in trouble, so … I’ve just got to be serious and worry about what I’m doing.”

Look, I don’t care what anyone says – and I speak from a certain point of experience, here – watching a man lose love for what he does is a sad, sad thing. ESPECIALLY when it’s the game that he has grown to love and gave him a way out. In my case, it’s my own daily grind of work. I suppose ANY of us would be hard pressed to say that we enjoy our jobs and those that do say that are either idiots or they are kidding themselves.

It’s one thing to lose your love for pencil and paper pushing desk jobs. It’s another thing to lose your passion for the game of basketball, in my opinion.

I suppose for us normal people who play 3 times a week, getting tired of basketball is a foreign concept because we are not flying to a different city every second or third night of the year. We’re not practicing 3 times a week, getting mobbed by reporters and having our every move scrutinized and analyzed for weaknesses. We’re not being tempted emotionally, mentally and physically on a daily basis because of what we do. And we aren’t held to a higher standard than the rest of normal society.

The Wizards, for their part as an organization, have had a great deal to do with Gils’ loss of love there. From distancing themselves in the aftermath of the gun incident, to removing any jerseys and signs of Arenas as a face of the franchise, they’ve certainly not helped matters any. The media as well has done their job of transforming Arenas from a normal, well loved individual to a social and athletic pariah. Where once there was love and acceptance, there is now cold shoulders and scrutiny. So can you blame Arenas for looking at reporters and the NBA differently now?

Some say it’s all his fault. And while I agree to a certain degree, I can’t help but feel that there is a certain double standard that applies to players depending on the size of their star. Guys like Kobe Bryant and OJ Simpson get away with monstrosities and atrocities with basically no damage to their image or overall bottom line. Guys who are so much bigger than society that they can do pretty much anything and not suffer for their actions. Or are you gonna try to tell me – with a STRAIGHT FACE – that Kobe and OJ are innocent?

But guys like Vin Baker (alcohol), Latrell Sprewell (choke) and Arenas (guns) pay the price for being normal human beings who make really stupid mistakes.

The flip side is that NO ONE should be exempt from punishment and repercussions, even if they are national headline making athletes. Still, I think it’s good to remember that YOU make mistakes sometimes and that everyone deserves a chance at redemption and a little mercy. We all have our demons. Whether they be alcohol, porno, drugs, gambling … we’ve all got something that makes us like everyone else. And if you sit there thinking “yeah but what I do is not the same as …” then you are fooling yourself into thinking that your mistakes aren’t as serious (with regards to the human condition) as everyone else’s.

“I lost all feeling a long time ago,” he said. “Basketball is basketball now, no matter what floor I’m on.”

Maybe it’s because I understand Gilbert Arenas a little bit. An every day kind of guy who has his quirks and things that set him off. Prone to bouts of stupidity but kind of heart in his daily life. A guy who is shunned because he lives how he wants to live and refuses to shape to the mold that has been set before him. A guy who gets beat down by life so drastically that he is suffering with trying to find new meaning in what he does. That sounds all too familiar to me.

Say what you want to say about Gilbert Arenas.

But just remember that we all make mistakes and that when life turns itself around and karma looks in your direction, it can be a REAL bitch some times.

Me? I’m still a Gilbert Arenas fan.

I’m normal.

Ness Nights

We’re back up and running again and it feels great! Well, great is kind of a weird word to choose as we have bumps bruises, twists, sprains and jammed digits already. But hey, at least we’re ballin again!

Shaka Dula Website 2.0 redesign!

Now that I’ve got my feet wet using Flash, I decided to study hard for about the last year and have learned how to do HTML and CSS. I can also tinker with PHP & Javascript now.

As a result, I decided it was time to make the Shaka Dula website a bit more … interactive. So look for the new updated website coming soon!

Life is good

My y0ungest son is hardcore obsessed with basketball and, in particular, Like Mike.

His favourite part? The “Basketball” Video by JD and Lil Bow Wow.

I have to say that he has good taste. ;-) I’ve heard that song about a dozen times in the last few hours, but it’s okay cuz I like it. lol.

In a few years, I’m gonna introduce him to Jurassic 5′s basketball song.

The Spoofs just keep on coming!

This is one of the funniest spoofs on the Internet regarding LeBron’s “Decision” Infomercial. And I’ve seen a lot of them. Let me save you the clicking. Most of them revolve around LeBron “coming out of the closet” or some such jackassery. Pretty Lame. This one, however, is a classic!

LMAO!

Warren P. Chili!!!

LeBron’s summer of discontent

So the dust has finally settled and, as we start to gear up for the preseason a few things have become clear:

1. No matter WHAT LeBron does, he’ll be criticized by everyone but knowledgeable basketball fans. The latest Twitter feed, #bronsmentalnotes, is the perfect example of the venom being thrown LeBron’s way. He’s become the lightning rod for any negative reaction towards virtually any player right now. Bosh fans, Bron fans, Amar’e fans … everyone and their dog is tossing barbs at Bron.

2. LeBron is angry about it. The joke right now is that he tweeted that he’s taking notes on everyone who is talking trash about him. Laugh now, cry later. This goes towards any Laker and Cavs fan in particular but also, in general, to all naysayers who are calling LeBron a loser and what not. If things come true for LeBron, then we’re in for a real treat this year as his stat line of 27,7 & 7 could MAYBE increase to a full on triple double? I have a feeling that LeBron is gonna terrorize the League this season and any fantasy managers worth their weight in salt will make Bron #1 overall. You heard it here first.

3. Miami has become Public Enemy #1. Even myself, a true LeBron fan, has a hard time seeing anyone wearing a Heat jersey right now.  For me, it’s the bandwagon aspect of it, which is really funny because I’m left with no choice (as a LeBron and Bosh fan) to cheer for the Heat this winter.  But for other teams (the have nots), seeing a team with 3 superstars in their prime destroy them while their teams languish with sub-500 records will be painful to watch. And teams that are creeping up there (Celtics and Mavs, I’m looking at you), well their fan bases will also be upset when they compare what Miami has with what they have at home.

Really, there’s no way around it. The Heat are the villains this year. For better or for worse. Regardless of letters, ads, TV opportunities and appearances that they make at functions …. they’re in a position where they just can’t win.

I don’t know. I find it hard to go from hating these guys whom I have admired for the last 6 years and simply turn on them on a dime. I have a hard time cheering against them. I’d rather hate Kobe.

More NBA Trades – Drama News!

This last 7 days has been abvsolutely bananas as far as NBA Basketball Trades!

NOT ONLY did we see Chris Bosh and LeBron James leave the Raptors and the Cavaliers respectively to join the Heat and Wade in Miami, but we’re also seeing MORE transactions complete with grudge matches, and more!

Witness this ….

LeBron James lures Zydrunas Ilgauskas away from Cleveland

This is a HUGE shock to me. Ilgauskas has been a Cavalier since WAY before LeBron and was considered by many to be “Mr. Cavalier” and that he was gonna retire there as well!

But in the end, LeBron was able to pull him into Miami to compete for a chip on his new team! I wonder what Dan Gilbert has to say about this …

Rumours swirled for a few days that Shaq was, somehow, gonna end up in Miami for a second time. But this article does a great job of explaining why it will never happen. A shame. Bron, Wade, Bosh, Ill Gaga and Diesel? Might as well have handed them the chip!

On the flip side, Mike Miller and Juwan Howard are both aggressively trying to come to terms with contract negotiations that would put them in prime real estate for a Finals berth. Both these acquisitions are AWESOME for a Heat team trying to find affordable pieces to complete a potential championship team!

But don’t get it twisted. Wade still insists that the Lakers are the team to beat and NOT the Heat. I actually agree with him 100% on this. The Lakers are the 2-time NBA champions. Back to back. Until they are dethroned, everyone else is just playing for runner up ….. God I hate saying that. It’s like vomit emanating from my mouth …

Speaking of the Lakers, rumours swirled for DAYS that The LA Lakers were gonna sign Raja Bell but today Bell decided to flip off KB24 and signed with the Jazz! This headline makes me SO happy because it shows that not everyone can be swayed by money and power. Good for Bell for standing up to Kobe and sticking to his convictions. Let’s not forget their rivalry and how Kobe has repeatedly treated Bell with disrespect on and off the court. Bell, for his part, has fired back. But this year, things cooled and it appeared that the hatchet had been buried. But Bell signing with the Jazz and not the Lakers says a LOT more than what people are leading you to believe. It means that Bell might still hold a grudge. It means that Kobe is gonna try to “take it out” on the Jazz all year long and try to abuse Bell for big numbers. It means that we’ll see a great Jazz/Lakers rivalry renewed partially. The Jazz, however, get a lot stronger with Bell. He’s a good shooter and will provide Deron Williams with another solid perimeter presence to take away pressure off him during the season.

Shannon Brown, meanwhile is flirting with leaving the lush pastures of LA for somewhere where he can shine a bit more. It didn’t work for Ariza and it probably won’t work for Brown either. But anything that can disrupt the Lakers and make them vulnerable to a non-title season (where I can watch Kobe cry cuz he didn’t win) is great. So I say do it, Brown! Though sources close to that situation are now saying that he’s leaning towards signing with the Lakers again. The Lakers continued their off season work by signing Steve Blake to their team. Personally, I think Steve Blake is a bum. One dimensional. That one dimension happens to be that of sharpshooting ace (the man shoots the 3 with a ridiculous amount of accuracy) but he’s so lame defensively that I doubt he will be anything more of a victory cigar by December.

Someone who was tired of being a victory cigar was Jordan Farmar, who signed with New Jersey this month for a 3 year $12 Million Dollar deal.

One player who is reupping is Derek Fisher. He had been courted heavily by LeBron and Co. in Miami. But he decided to be loyal and re-sign with the Lake Show. I can understand that and respect his decision. But I still hate him for being a Laker – and let me say this: Once Kobe dies and decomposes on this earth, I will be a Lakers fan. Believe that. I will be the only mummy on the face of the earth wearing a Lakers hat once Kobe rots.

Speaking of the Jazz, on top of signing Raja Bell, official word is that they have acquired Al Jefferson via trade with Minnesota. This is an interesting decision and one meant to plug the hole left behind by Boozer. I think it’s a shrewd move because he’s an exclusive player to the low post with a good skill set, offensively. He’ll allow Paul Milsap to play bigger minutes and expand on his skill set and experience. And with Mehmet Okur (Mr. Glass) being a more perimeter oriented player, I think it adds a great deal of versatility to the Jazz! Not Championship contenders but maybe a playoff team …

The Celtics are seeing a slight modification in their roster after losing Tony Allen to the Grizzlies via Free Agency. I think Tony Allen is a very under-appreciated player. Skilled defender, good locker room guy – glue guy – albeit with an abysmal perimeter shot and prone to bouts of mindless play. He’s normal. And I can relate to and appreciate that in him. I wish him luck. I don’t know what kind of role he’ll play in Memphis …. though thinking about it, I think it’ll be a good fit, a Shane Battier kind of fit. He’ll plug the holes left behind by the young guns and will be allowed to just roam on D. It will be good for him, I think, to get out of Boston and see some new things. For his part, Danny Ainge is confused about Tony Allen. On the plus side (sort of) they signed Nate Robinson and Jermaine O’Neal to contracts in Beantown. The Nate Robinson deal was good, I think. He’s an X Factor who, when channeled, can be very explosive. Jermaine O’Neal ….. he’s a conundrum. He did nothing for the Raptors and was sub par for the Heat ….. I think that man needs to retire. I think he’s living proof that some people make it in the NBA only because they’re tall (Jermaine O’Neal, Greg Ostertag, Bryant “Big Country Reeves, Todd Macullogh, etc etc etc). Anyway, the Celtics also re-sign Ray Allen (to a 2 year, $20 Million Dollar deal) which is a GREAT move, I think. Especially since Ray Allen has already declared war on the Heat, after being courted by them for a minute. Should make for some FUN games this year. Heat-Cavs, Heat-Lakers, Heat-Celtics. Must see TV!

The Grizzlies also did their homework and re-signed Rudy Gay this week as well! The deal was worth a reported $80 Million over 5 years …. seems a bit steep to me. But I think he might be good for it.

Another contender shaking up their roster (albeit, not by choice) is the Cavs. They tried to sign Kyle Lowry this week away from the Rockets but that deal was quashed as the Rockets matched the offer in order to keep Lowry in Houston for another few season. I think the Cavs are a sad team right now. With Ilgauskas gone, they only have Mo Williams (now a bum) and Antawn Jamison as legitimate offensive threats because everyone else was able to score because of the attention LeBron demanded. Without LeBron … that team looks sad, man. So sad for Cleveland fans …

The Raptors are also busy remolding their roster since Bosh’s departure. This week they traded away Hedo Turkoglu to Phoenix for Leandro Barbosa and Dwayne Jones. I say good riddance to that lazy so-and-so. It’s sad that I have to scratch him off my fave players list – he was there for his entire career – but that’s what he gets for quitting during Toronto’s most important season ever. And while there was good reason to believe that Calderon was going to be traded away to the Bobcats for Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler, the deal was nixed at the last minute by Michael Jordan. I don’t know that this would have been a step forward by Toronto. Calderon is still a decent player, if a bit prima donna-ey right now, and Chandler has proven he is inconsistent and not skilled. Diaw would have been awesome with Barbosa again ….. but that’s a pipe dream now. In the process, the Suns acquire Hedo Turkoglu and Josh Childress, who will make his return from Greece after leaving the Hawks last season.

The Raptors frustrate me. They re-signed and (in my opinion) GREATLY overpaid for Amir Johnson (5 years, $34 Million) and their attempts to move Jose Calderon (or Jarrett Jack) speak, to me, of a team that is headed in the wrong direction. Maybe Bryan Colangelo has no idea what he’s doing and he simply shoots darts at players faces while blindfolded ….

I know what you’re thinking … Rico, since the Raptors were unsuccessful in getting Tyson Chandler, what happened? Well, I can tell you that Tyson Chandler and Alexis Ajinca were traded away to Dallas! A 5 player deal sent Eduardo Najera, Erick Dampier and Matt Carroll as well as cash considerations to Charlotte in exchange for the two players mentioned above. With Erick Dampier being shipped out, Mark Cuban rewarded Brendan Haywood with a 5 year $45 Million Dollar deal (cheap by Cuban standards) for his excellent play during the post season. I think this was a shrewd move by Cuban. Dampier is on the tail end of his lackluster career and Haywood is just hitting his prime. He’s sure to be a starter now …

For their part, Charlotte agreed to terms for a new contract with Tyrus Thomas (for an undeserving 5 year $40 Million). I don’t know that Thomas has ever done anything to actually warrant this kind of payday. He’s okay, sure. And he blocks shots. But $40 Mil?!?!?!? That means I’m worth at least $3 or $4 Million per season … hear that guys?!?!?!

The Nets  signed Travis Outlaw, Anthony Morrow and Johan Petro. This is an interesting move because Morrow is a great shooter (46% from 3) and Petro is a tough defender. Seems like Prokhorov is starting to put some solid pieces in play.

Oh, and I forgot to add this in but Morris Peterson was moved to Oklahoma City on Draft Day. And Kyle Korver left Utah and went to Chicago for a 3 year stint worth $15 Million. I don’t know that Korver will get any more minutes, touches or shots than he did in Utah (he is playing with Uber Ball Hog Derrick Rose, after all – oh did I forget to tell you that? I think he’s a bit of a hog now. I’ll write more on that later.)

Captain Kirk Hinrich was also shipped away to Washington … for draft picks. This deal originally happened a bit before Draft Day, but it still has to suck. Erick Dampier gets massive contracts and gets moved in multi player deals and Kirk Hinrich gets moved for guys who don’t exist in the NBA yet … so sad …

And speaking of SAD, The LA Clippers continue their journey through suck-ville by signing Randy Foye and Ryan Gomes from Minnesota. They also signed Brian “Cookie”Cook.  Average players who bring nothing special to the table. No noteworthy talents, just guys that can score and get some rebounds. What the hell is Donald Sterling doing?!?!? George Steinbrenner dies and yet Donald Sterling is allowed another year of life?!?!? At least Steinbrenner was a guy who could make a winner! Sterling is just a bottom feeder.

Golden State also continued their descent into limbo by trading away forward Anthony Randolph, forward Kelenna Azubuike, forward Ronny Turiaf and a 2012 second-round draft pick to New York for David Lee. It’s just as well, I suppose. Lee was never loved in New York and Randolph was never loved in G-State. I think the change in scenery might do these guys some good as well.

My Spurs have been relatively quiet this offseason. Their only moves being the signing of Tiago Splitter and a renewal of contracts for Matt Bonner (for roughly 4 years and $12 Million). I love Matt Bonner so I am glad he’s back on my favorite squad. Tiago Splitter is an X Factor at the center position, but I think his presence might be something like what Fabricio Oberto brought to the table a few years ago, albeit with more natural talent. He’s kind of a pretty boy, but he could turn out to be like Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola …. so I might like him.

And ALL of this activity has taken place in …. 14 days.

What a sideshow.

The Aftershocks are still being felt!

I watched the entire “Decision 2010″ video on ESPN and could not ignore the fact that when he started to note his decision, a smirk came across his face.

LeBron James, today, chose to go to South Beach to play with Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh. Eastern Conference and NBA Landscape changes aside, the impact that James’ decision had on the populace of Cleveland was deep. To understand why, you have to understand the stink of Loser that permeates Cleveland Sports like a fat guy after eating a garlic, anchovy pizza ….

Long considered the armpit of professional sports cities, Cleveland had experienced a resurgence since James’ arrival. He made the ugly girl at graduation feel pretty despite having more folds than a Texas Hold Em Tournament. And people feel hurt and reaction to James’ decision was almost immediate.

People all over the US, but especially in Ohio, started burning all manner of LeBron James paraphernalia from “Please Stay LBJ” to “Witness” shirts right down to LBJ shoes!


(Rico’s note: Did anyone notice that Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s “Summertime” was playing in the background?)

“He’s dead to me”
“This is worse than 9/11″
“This is the worst thing to happen to Cleveland since Modell took the Browns”

People be PISSED!

“THE HEEEEAT!!!”

“THE HEEEEAT!!!”

“Know how much I paid for this jersey? 80 Dollars. $80 Dollars”

I wasn’t gonna do it but okay, I’m gonna go off on this immature jackass ….

First of all, LeBron James Jerseys can be as much as $2000 for an autographed biddy. $80 means he bought a replica Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Jersey. That’s cheap – And I should know, I own one of those jerseys! hahahaha!

If $80 seems like alot of money, then don’t BURN YOUR MONEY AWAY, DUMMY! Sell your jersey – for peanuts even! – but don’t just burn your hard earned (dad’s hard earned?) cash away! Stupid. That boy needs to go back to school and learn Economics!

Second of all, if he’s so quick to turn on LeBron James, then he’s not “the Biggest LeBron James Fan of all time“. He’s a Cleveland Cavaliers fan who loves and idolizes LeBron James.

Third, he said he couldn’t wear the jersey no more, but he was OBVIOUSLY wearing it before he took it off to burn it.

Fourth, in his angry rage, he failed to punch a hole on the angled wall of his bedroom and only broke the one wall (and maybe his knuckles). Failure to rip hole in one’s own walls (no matter WHAT they are made of) means that the rage you are feeling is not as earth shattering as you thought. Time to hit the weights!

Fifth, even though he was in an angry rage, he never smashed his TV. If he didn’t smash his TV, he didn’t feel as angry as he says. Cuz it was obvious that the TV was the harbringer of armageddon over this guy’s perfectly balanced world.

Sixth, I find it funny that someone was videotaping his reaction. “WHAAAAT?!?!? Hold on ….. hold on …. I’m a call you back!”

Priceless.

NBA Free Agency Falling into Place!

DWade & Chris Bosh to play together in Miami

First of all, the NBA.com headline that follows reads

Brace yourself, Chris – you’re the new Vince Carter

And all I can say to this is “What a load of crap!” The situations between Vince and CB4 could not be further apart. Vince QUIT on the Raptors and whined and complained and acted, overall, like a primma donna! Chris Bosh was a warrior and played his best basketball until the day he went down with an injury!

Chris Bosh SHOULD NOT be hated at ALL by ANY true Raptors fan! Any Raptors fan that boos him needs to get shot into the Sun. I respect Bosh a great deal and understand his decision to leave. And unlike Vince, I know he’s gonna be GREAT in Miami! Any Raptors fan needs to cheer and congratulate him on bleeding Raptors Red even in the most trying of situations.

My only issue was with the way he handled the media and kind of said out right that he was not coming back. But you know what? First of all, it’s a business, first and foremost. Secondly, he played the media like he was supposed to, was a good sport, never disrespected his old organization and never acted a fool like Vince did.

One love to CB4 and best wishes to him! I’ll be cheering for him from here!

Knicks sign Amare to max deal, 5 years 100$ Million

It’s no surprise to me that Amar’e and D’Antoni reunite in New York. D’Antoni made Stoudemire into a star and he played his best basketball under his old coach. The prospect of playing with LeBron, Wade or Bosh made him pull the trigger sooner than later. And with the announcement that Wade and Bosh are playing in Miami, it seems now like he’s gonna be stuck on a worse team but putting up big numbers. The problem is that, unless NY can bring in a talented guard to feed him the ball, I imagine Amar’e is gonna be pretty ineffective as he does not have the ability to create his own shot, shoot the outside jumper with consistency or play the type of staunch defense that would make him a game changer. New York may be ABLE to offer max contracts, but I think they GROSSLY overpaid for Amar’e. I think both NY and Stoudemire will look back on this and realize that they shot themselves in the foot.

Boozer agrees to play for Bulls at 5 years, 84$ Million

This is a sideways step for the Booz. It makes no sense as he’s not in NY with Amare, Miami with Wade and Bosh or Cleveland with Bron.

Durant signs extension with Thunder to the tune of 5 years, 84$ Million

I hate the Thunder (even though I rooted for them against LA) for the way the ownership bit Seattle in the nuts. But they have an exciting young roster and, for better or for worse, Durant is the face of that franchise – the man that shoulders the fame or blame. Pinning down for 5 more years, it gives the Thunder SOME stability, provided Durant can continue to improve and develop his skill set and does not get bogged down in the glitz and glamour life that so often brings pro athletes crashing down like Icarus.

Del Negro to Clippers / Avery Johnson to Nets

These 2 guys can coach. The question now is which one will wear out his welcome sooner? Does Del Negro have the resume to demand the respect of Baron Davis and the rest of his spoiled, loser crew? Will Avery Johnson wear out his welcome with new Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov?

Chris Duhon to Magic ….. WHY?!?!?!?

This deal makes no sense to me. Duhon was ATROCIOUS last year and averaged what felt like about as many turnovers as assists.

His official stat line for 09-10 was …

0.373% FG

0.349% 3PFG

0.716% FT

2.7 RPG

5.6 APG

0.9 SPG

1.6 TOPG

7.4 PPG

I thought he was awful. And for a team that needs a PG who is able and steady with the ball, and a good shooter to draw out the D it makes no sense why they would bring him there.

Nowitzki re-signs with Mavs / Pierce re-signs with Celtics – Surprise Surprise

Pierce’s 4 year 61$ Million dollar deal is surprising. Reports say that he left “a lot of money” on the table to lure Ray Allen to re-sign. But I think the deal was steep for a player like Pierce who has a LOT more mileage and wear and tear than his 32 year old body suggests.

Nowitzki, he’s still in his prime and it doesn’t matter WHAT they paid him (The deal has a no-trade clause and is worth upwards of $80 million), it’s completely worth it.

Joe Johnson re-signs with Hawks

The deal he signed was for 6-years and worth around $119 million. And I was surprised given the way he treated (and was treated by) the fans and the way he acted during the playoffs this year.

My only thought on this is that they overpaid him. Big Time. The franchise may have turned around when he got there, but Mike Woodson, Al Horford and Josh Smith have a lot to do with that as well. TO strap their franchise down like that is just setting him him up for failure in the next few years when they lose Smith and Horford in free agency cuz they’re strapped for cash.

Did anyone notice that Rasheed Wallace retired?

I was not surprised to see him go. Only that he went out like a limp dick instead of the hard ass gangsta he professed himself to be. Maybe the NBA beat the G out of him. But come on, Charles Oakley played for longer and he was the same old Oak til the day he left! I don’t know what to make of this.

John Salmons signs with Bucks.

I don’t need to read or see anything. I can tell you exactly what the truth is here. OVERPAID.

2 days to go …

Now that the hoopla about the damned Lakers winning the championship has died down, we get to the most active part of the NBA season – off season! Or rather, Free Agent Season!

Effective July 1, 2010, the list of available free agents reads like the roster of an NBA All Star Game (save for a few bums in there) …

* LeBron James
* Dwyane Wade
* Chris Bosh
* Yao Ming
* Dirk Nowitzki
* Joe Johnson
* Carlos Boozer

* Amar’e Stoudemire
* Marcus Camby
* Ray Allen
* Paul Pierce
* Rudy Gay (restricted)
* Luis Scola (restricted)
* Brendan Haywood
* Kenyon Martin
* Tyson Chandler
* Josh Howard (team option)
* Joel Przybilla

In 2 days we get to find out how the NBA version of Musical Chairs is gonna go …

For what it’s worth, I’m pretty resigned to the fact that Chris Bosh is gone. Ditto for Joe Cool, Boozer and Amar’e. Wade and James are still up in the air, but I expect them to re-up with their respective teams. A pleasant surprise is that Shannon Brown is opting out of his contract with the Lakers and looking to dip into Free Agency loot. Both Ariza and Brown get respect from me for 2 reasons:

1. Realizing that the NBA is a business and that the business is about making money

2. Realizing that playing with LA may not always be the best choice for you as a player

Although until he is officially gone from LA, Brown is still a Laker and therefore the equivalent of a cannibal that eats babies.

However it turns out, it’s pretty apparent that the biggest storm is gonna be in that first week of free agency. It’s gonna be interesting seeing how the balance of power shifts (or not) in the NBA.

Lakers News

So Phil Jackson is leaning towards retirement and Kobe Bryant had surgery to repair his finger … the only thing I can say to this:

1. Let’s see if Phil can win without Kobe.

2. Let’s see if Kobe can win without Phil.

3. Let’s hope they accidentally amputate Kobe Bryant’s head during his finger / knee surgery – whatever the hell it is, who cares.

Ah, yes. How I hate the Lakers. And the fact that I have to listen to jackass Laker fans talk shit about “their team” makes me wanna shit in a bowl and feed it to an orphan or something. It just brings out the worst in me. People have no idea. No idea.


Lakers/Celtics – Game 7

So today is the day that Game 7 happens.

I’ve reluctantly watched the entire series, biting my nails and cursing at the TV all the while. I don’t think I’ve ever hated watching basketball this much in my entire life up until this point …

I know, I know. Lakers/Celtics, storied franchises, blah blah blah. To the average fan, this is “prime time TV viewing”. To me, watching this series is like watching 2 fat, slutty college girls in a cat fight. I watch cuz it’s my civic duty to watch, not cuz it’s enjoyable ….

Really, I just can’t help but to hate nearly every person that is playing in this series, except for Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo.

I can’t stand the fact that Kendrick Perkins, with as big an ego and diminutive skill set as he has might actually win another ring on the backs of Rondo and the “Big 3″.

I can’t stand that Rasheed Wallace and Ron Artest are riding cock to get a ring.

I can’t stand that chumps like Jordan Farmar, Adam Morrison and Sasha Vujacic get to boast about another ring while worthy vets like Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill go fishing.

I can’t stand Pau Gasol, his “Blue SteelLlama Look or his incessant flopping. He tries to knock down claims that he’s soft while just BARELY being able to fend off a washed up Kevin Garnett … gimme a break.

I can’t stand Derek Fisher. He is a great human being and I respect how he is off the court but I have never seen a point guard who flops on the ground in an attempt to get calls more than Fisher. I mean, the guy could coach the ENTIRE ITALIAN NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM on how to flop!

I can’t stand that Lamar Odom can be “Vince Carter” lazy in one game and put up 19 and 19 the next. Doesn’t the man want to be remembered as anything other than “The Best Bench Player Ever”? He has such potential and yet is content to languish in mediocrity. I can’t stand that Andrew Bynum’s lazy, overrated 7 foot ass can brag about being in the Finals twice, let alone win another ring.Oh, and I will NEVER be a fan of Andrew Bynum’s if he comes to the Raptors. Quote me on that.

I can’t stand that KG is washed up and still shit talks like he’s in his prime – really, Duke?

I can’t stand that Nate Robinson might get a ring before Dwight Howard.

I can’t stand Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce, their overinflated egos and the fact that they will need an additional Jumbo 747 for each player’s ego when this series is done! I can’t stand that Paul Pierce plays for 2 quarters yet has the GALL to scream at his teammates to give “everything you’ve got!”. I can’t stand the fact that Kobe Bryant is allowed to whine like a 2 year old, flail his arms in the air and swear like a sailor without so much as a foul called when a call doesn’t go his way.

And most of all, I can’t stand the posturing by the lunatic and idiotic fans of these two respective franchises! This is a qualitative statement and I WILL be doing a post dedicated to each fan base and why they are the most insipid and moronic fan groups in all of sports (save for, perhaps, Yankees Fans) and why they deserve to be shot into the sun … I’ll add examples and even some quotes sprinkled in for good measure!

I’ve been in a bad mood over the last few weeks and had not been able to figure out why until tonight … it’s the fucking playoffs and those damned Lakers and Celtics.

I swear … I can’t wait for this Playoffs to be over – WORST. PLAYOFFS. EVER. – and yet, the prospect of another 6 months of Kobe or KG/Paul Pierce cock sucking makes me ill to my stomach.

Here’s a news flash to all them fans, in advance – Kobe Bryant is not God in purple and gold and Paul Pierce should never be mentioned with the words “Best Celtic Ever” in the same breath – it’s an insult to all the great Celtics that wore the Green and White.

Screw it, I’m outta here … I gotta find a kitten to kick or something …