April, 6, 2011
By Henry Abbott
- Ooh, there's a thing about bragging ... it really gets people worked up. By most analyses, Starbucks honcho Howard Schultz was one of the true villains of the SuperSonics debacle. It's hard to find anyone involved who will defend Schultz, who got an F for "stewardship of a community asset." But life goes on, and feelings mellow. Until, that is, you write a book bragging about your leadership. Schultz is the author a book about how Starbucks "fought for its life without losing its soul." Not surprisingly, Sonic fans are musing about fantastically rude, even in some case dangerous, greetings for Schultz at a book signing.
- The Rockets lost to the stinking Kings. After losing to the Sixers, surely the NBA's one remaining playoff race is over. Right? But ... the Grizzlies managed to lose to the Clippers (see below), not long before the Blazers fell hard to the Warriors. In short, three of four teams in the scramble for the West's final spots all lost, so somehow the Rockets stay alive again.
- Legendarily bizarre ending to the Clippers vs. Grizzlies last night (you can see it in the NBA.com highlights). The Clippers led 82-81 and were running an abysmal play with the shot clock about to expire with about six seconds left. Eric Bledsoe scooped up the ball, headed for the rim and ... with a fraction of a second left on the shot clock ... collides hard with Tony Allen. Block/charge really can be a tough call, and in this case the referee crew can't agree, so they call a jump ball of all things. There was a video review -- per crazy rules, of the shot clock and not the weirdest foul call of the season. Then there was discussion about the rules (Can you substitute before that jump ball? We're in the mouse-type print of the rulebook now.) Chris Herrington of the Memphis Flyer explains that even after all that the home Memphis fans still had more reason to feel victimized: "For the Grizzlies, either call (block or charge) would have been better than what occurred. Even a blocking foul would have given the Grizzlies the ball back with a chance to tie or win on a final shot. But I can see how, in the quickness and clamor of the moment, either a block or charge could have been called. And, given that both were called, the official response followed the letter of the law. More questionable, in retrospect, may be what happened next: Jumping at center with 5.7 seconds left, the toss veered toward Clippers center Chris Kaman, who tapped it back toward the Grizzlies goal, into the hands of guard Eric Gordon. Shane Battier was the closest Griz player to Gordon and sprinted after him in an attempt to foul. Battier was bumped by Clippers forward Blake Griffin (potential foul on the Clippers) but still made it to Gordon and swiped at him, making contact (clear "intent" to foul). Neither was called and the clock expired. Given the surly mood in the building and the invective already being hurled at the officials, particularly Palmer, it felt like a ref crew that wanted the game to end."
- Maybe the hardest NBA quiz ever. I got seven right and a million wrong.
- Freaky. Some guy in the front row ... could hardly look more like Rudy Fernandez.
- The Lakers have to be thrilled they failed to woo Raja Bell, who has been bad. And the Thunder are about as old as the University of Oklahoma team.
- The night of Gordon Hayward's NBA life. There's some PG-13 stuff in this post, but scroll down for the Hayward highlights. Also from Basketbawful, the Steve Nash shorts shenanigans. What are teammates for if not to form a human shield while you change your pants in front of 20,000?
- Mike D'Antoni says that when it comes to the Carmelo Anthony trade, he essentially took one for the team.
- Russell Westbrook has almost every skill imaginable and the will to be a star. All of which can make it tough to make great decisions -- and all of which can also lead your coach to play Eric Maynor instead.
- Tom Haberstroh says the Bulls better watch out for the Heat: "If there was ever a matchup that warranted throwing the regular season head-to-head record out the window, this is the one. Yes, the Heat have yet to beat the Bulls this season but also keep in mind that Chris Bosh dropped a historically foul stink bomb (1-for-18 shooting) in one of those losses, and LeBron James sat out in another. In the third meeting, the Bulls squeaked by the Heat as LeBron and Wade each missed game-winners on the final possession. The Heat are that trailing car in the passenger side mirror; they're a lot closer than it appears."
- Ted Leonsis contributes meaningfully to the "owners on the worth of the media" conversation. One little thing I'd add that nobody has brought up yet: Sports organizations need credibility. If the NBA says the referees are good, nobody believes them. If the Wizards say it's a great idea to buy season tickets right now, that's no real cause to grab your wallet. But when people who follow this or that organization closely, and are often tough on them, say hey, you know, this time they're really doing it the right way ... that provides a kind of credibility teams and leagues can't get any other way. You're not going to see that value in a quarterly analysis, but over a decade, without some adherence to reality, you're professional wrestling.
- Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak watched Jrue Holiday's big brother, University of Washington alum Justin, prepping for the draft: "A pack of fifth graders invades the gym for after-school basketball, prematurely ending Aaron and Justin’s half-serious game of one-on-one. A boy in matching Under Armour swag circuitously wanders over to inspect the conspicuous Holiday and finally asks, 'do you, like, play basketball?' It’s somehow an odd question to Holiday, who has spent most of his life working towards an NBA career. He responds, hesitating a moment, 'Yeah, I’m uhm, training to be in the NBA.' 'Thought so,' says the kid, knowingly."
- HP, Gucci, Bing, Nike ... the new LeBron cartoon is carefully targeted to brands kids.
- The Bulls have a lot of good players.
- Analysis: No team's 2010-2011 injuries combined to matter as much as Portland's missing Greg Oden.