Basketbawful: "... the Pacers held a cookout at Larry Bird's summer home for their season ticket holders. Through sheer luck (and thanks to my buddy G-Mo) I managed to attend and, completely out of character for this site, I can't say a single bad thing about it. It was quite awesome. I'd rank it up there with the invention of Guinness, the thong, the barbecued pig, and whatever else you wanna name. I approached the event with what is commonly referred to as "cautious enthusiasm", which is fully realizing the cavernous gap in between how spectacular a given event should be, and the disappointing soul-crushing flop it could be. And I began to realize this when we were at the check-in. I had no idea the Pacers' target demographic were retirees and grandmothers. But, then again, these are also the unwavering, die-hard Pacers fans that have fondly remember the ABA championship days and stuck with the team through good times and bad. Especially the bad. But I boarded the shuttle not completely sure if we were going to a cookout or to Old Country Buffet to play bingo. After an hour on the short bus, cynicism was in full force. Would any players even be at this thing? My doubts were shot down like a JJ Redick trade demand when Larry Bird and Jeff Foster were waiting at the end of the driveway, welcoming guests and taking pictures. Larry greeted us with a handshake and a slap on the shoulder. 14-year-old-fanboy-from-1989-mode was in full effect. But that's not all. Jim O'Brien, Mike Dunleavy, Roy Hibbert, Brandon Rush, Josh McRoberts and Quinn Buckner were all there as well. And it was an unusually personable environment, probably even more casual than your annual office Christmas party. Burgers and margaritas. Players roaming around, taking photos and chatting it up with the fans. G-Mo half-jokingly asked Foster to put him in a headlock for a photo, which he of course did."
Ricky Davis as the modern day Billy Ray Bates, and an appreciation of Jack Molinas.
Interesting interview with Jason Thompson. The Kings' lottery pick is 22, and swears that he is still growing.
Wages of Wins: The Jazz are good.
Great busts of recent years, Rodney White edition.
Ezra Ace Caraeff of Portland Mercury notes that the Sonics' mascot, Squatch -- inspired by bigfoot -- is not making the move to Oklahoma City, which could be a real opportunity for a mascot upgrade over the current Portland mascot: "The team's mascot is a useless, fictional large-headed creature of unknown origin that goes by the name Blaze the Trail Cat. With his creepy erect tail that lurches out from his breakaway pants, Blaze is an untrustworthy creature who frightens children and adults alike. An abomination to the respectable tradition of mascots -- from slam-dunking gorillas in sunglasses, to vaguely offensive Native Americans with spears and dreamcatchers -- Blaze stalks the Rose Garden like an annoying sitcom neighbor who arrives unannounced, and then refuses to leave. His schtick -- from Silly String to a Segway -- is the same tired routine, which might cut it in the sticks, but fails to properly represent the fine tradition of NBA mascotery. But there is a solution. Portland's rivals, the Seattle SuperSonics, are on the cusp of relocating to Oklahoma City in the off-season. While Seattle will be unfairly stripped of their team, and possibly the Sonics moniker as well, this is a golden opportunity for the Trail Blazers. Not to obtain Kevin Durant (or any number of Sonics players), but to sign/buy/kidnap Seattle's mascot, the enigmatic, charming, and hairy creature known as Squatch. When it comes to the delicate art of slam dunking a basketball while being propelled by a trampoline, few do it better than Squatch. His skills are vast and his mascot abilities are graceful and energetic, yet still tactful and refined. He's everything Blaze is not. Plus he bears a strange resemblance to Teen Wolf, another mythical creature who is capable of grand performances on the basketball court. And if 'Stiles' (or Channing Frye) wants him to surf atop a moving van, he'd totally do it." Also, a stirring tale of how the guy in the Squatch costume got his job. Thanks to some low-rent costumes, he performed the key routine in a chicken body with the borrowed head of a cat.
The art of wearing a headband in the NBA, a user's guide.
The owner of the Cavaliers can't believe all these LeBron James-is-leaving rumors, and paints it as straight media fabrication. Newsday's Ken Berger points out that James himself feeds it. I can second that. Also, if you call around, and ask people who have a handle on the thinking in the James posse, none of them will speak on the record, but they all feed it too. That doesn't happen with other top players that I'm aware of. Could it all be a ruse? Is it all a ploy? Sure could be. Maybe it buys James influence over hirings, firings, signings and the like. Maybe it keeps New York tuned in and buying sneakers. Maybe it sets up a "what a hero, he stayed home" story in a couple of years. I have no idea. But I do know that it's not purely a product of reporter's imaginations.
Eric Musselman with a report from the Strange Post-Game Rituals Department: "In Orlando, Chuck Daly used to have his assistant coaches take off their sportcoats after a game and hold up their arms to see who was sweating. He was always drenched. Most of the time, there wasn't a drop of sweat under assistant coaches' arms. His point was that, while it's only a matter of sliding over 12 inches on the bench, there's a big difference between being an assistant and a head coach. The pressure is enormous."