Tuesday Bullets

  • A classic tale of a sportswriter almost coming to blows with Gary Payton. Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Jim Moore says it all started when he wanted to talk to the Sonics' hero about being hospitalized for intravenous fluids after a playoff loss: "Went into the Sonics' locker room at Arco Arena before the game and asked Payton about it. He was tying his shoes and looked up at me and said: 'What's that got to do with basketball?' I repeated the story, told him that it just showed a lot about him to play his heart out to the point that he had to go to the hospital, etc. 'What's that got to do with basketball?' he repeated. I tried one more time to get him to play along and got one more 'What's that got to do with basketball?' And then after years of growing tired of dealing with him, I got fed up and instead of walking away with my tail between my legs like I'd done so many times before, I said: 'You know what, Gary? I'm sick of your (bleep).' He got up and got right in my face and said: 'So what are you gonna do about it?' Quickly, I thought to myself, Jesus, I don't know what I'm going to do about it, but I can't back down now. I noticed that he had just brushed his teeth and there was a little toothpaste in the corner of his mouth, so I pointed to the corner of his mouth and said: 'Hey, Gary, you've got a little toothpaste in the corner of your mouth.' To this day, I have no idea why I said that. I just didn't have an answer to 'So what are you gonna do about it?' I knew I couldn't say: 'I'm gonna kick your butt' because I was a flabby 39-year-old sportswriter at the time and he was 26 and chiseled and no doubt would have beaten the hell out of me. His response to the toothpaste comment was this: He came at me with an overhand right that was intercepted by either Sam Perkins or David Wingate, thankfully, because it no doubt would have hurt my face. Then George Karl bear hugged me, to prevent me from charging Payton, figuring I had plans to do that, which I didn't. Then Payton and I just shouted 'Bleep yous!' back and forth to each other before I was escorted out of the locker room." (Via SuperSonicSoul)

  • Scottie Pippen's promised big tour of major NBA stars around Europe has become Dennis Rodman's big tour instead. But they're flaunting a big long list of former NBA players who might show.

  • Pride in Canadian history: A video depiction of basketball's earliest days. The maintenance man's harping about not being able to cut the bottoms off the peach baskets popped up in that cartoon I linked to yesterday. The video (unlike the cartoon) shows the game without dribbling, which is correct. Dribbling only came around later when some people tried it -- running was banned while holding the ball ... but what about this? -- and got away with it.

  • The earthball, a term apparently coined by Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald, and described by Matt McHale of By the Horns: "An awkward, graceless jump shot that defies standard ball rotation by spinning sideways, much like the planet Earth. This shooting method was more than likely devised by Joakim Noah. As inventions go, the Earthball ranks right up there with dog sweaters, pay toilets and the electric fork."

  • Respect the uncommon passing ability of LaMarcus Aldridge.

  • Adam Morrison takes on his critics, points out that he has had a major injury.

  • Rob Mahoney of the Two Man Game on Dallas' secret weapon: "The Mavs again show a complete inability to defend any player on the floor that could be described as 'quick,' and the man defense was sliced and diced on the way to a 66-point first half for L.A.. But there is a bright spot defensively: the zone continues to baffle opponents. It's effectiveness would no doubt dwindle in a playoff series, in which coaching staffs (staves) can tech and teach specifically to counter it. In the regular season, on the other hand, it's managed to slow down two of the league's most potent offenses while only surrendering one key weakness against the Lakers: the lack of rebounding in the clutch. Lamar Odom turned excellent defensive possessions for the Mavs into entirely too many opportunities for the Lakers. Of course when the Mavs went away from the zone to secure more rebounds, the Lakers just beat them outright. Fun. It's also definitely worth noting that the zone is a vicegrip for opposing second units. The Mavs bench isn't particularly skilled defensively, but what they lack in talent and fundamentals on that end they make up for in hustle. Barea, Singleton, and Bass, coupled with say Antoine Wright and Jason Terry, can smother opponents' bench lineups that lack the sort of penetrating playmaker needed to make smart passes against the zone. We saw this in full effect against the Lakers sans Kobe, and equally so with the Blazers sans a healthy Brandon Roy."

  • On the Freakonomics blog, Justin Wolfers has a little bit of richer insight into that study I blogged about yesterday showing teams that are slightly behind play extra hard. Here he describes the laboratory experiment used to confirm the theory: "Subjects were challenged to a trivial task - how many times they could type 'a' then 'b' in half a minute. The subjects were told that if they beat their opponent, they would get a bigger payout. After the first round of competition, some were given feedback, and others weren't. And here's the key to the experiment: they randomly told some folks that they were a long way behind their opponent, others were told they were a little bit behind, or exactly tied, a little ahead, or even a long way ahead. Those who were randomly told they were a little bit behind improved their performance dramatically, while the other groups improved by about the same amount as the control condition (that is, the same improvement as those given no feedback at all). It's an intriguing finding: being behind by a little yields the greatest possible effort."

  • LeBron James' former high school coach, now leading Akron to the big dance, talks about the positives of having LeBron James affiliated with the program. He also does a nice job of plugging the LBJ shoes his team gets from a deal with Nike.

  • Rasheed Wallace on the recession, as told to Michael Grange of the Globe and Mail: "Myself, personally, I have no problem going out there and getting a 9-to-5. If I have to do that to support my family, that's what I'm going to do: get my black ass up, and get that 9-to-5.&q
    uot; (Via Detroit Bad Boys)

  • Deron Williams and Mehmet Okur both banged up. And Ross Siler challenges you to name the Washington Wizards current starters.

  • The Nets are making no substantive comment on the incident in which, police say, Sean Williams had monitor-chucking incident at some cell phone store. It's a no-brainer of a line: the investigation is ongoing! Can't comment now! We've all heard it a million times, and it has legal merit, for sure. But I'm just saying ... when the investigation is over, what percentage of the time does the team then open up and regale us with tales of what really happened? Instead of a short-term legalistic stall, isn't this really a way to do away with the story entirely?

  • "My back, ankles, and knees all hurt today, yup, this is usually how I feel after a game with Utah. It's not a game for boys." That's Shane Battier, talking via MogoTXT, a new service that lets NBA players send messages to your cell phone. Not sure I understand it entirely, but it's good to know Jerry Sloan's team still has it.

  • UPDATE: TrueHoop reader Tom e-mails a flicker of hope for Suns fans: "If you were trying to make a 'The Suns aren't out of it yet' argument, you'd probably make it around their chances of catching Dallas. But what no one is mentioning is their chances of catching Utah, whom they play home-and-home with next week. Utah has lost three straight as of this moment and are five games up on the Suns. If the Suns win their two against them, that cuts the deficit. Plus, Utah still has to play AT Portland, AT Dallas, AT New Orleans, AT Denver, AT San Antonio and finish the season AT the Lakers. Their home games are against cupcakes (except for the Suns), but that road stretch is brutal. In the meantime, the Suns finish with road games (besides the Utah game) at Portland, Sacramento, New Orleans, Dallas, Memphis and Minnesota. Three non-playoff teams in the mix there, compared to zero for the Jazz. The Suns' remaining home games are tougher than Utah's, but at least they are home games."