Huge thanks to Kevin Arnovitz for some great blogging while I was away. And without further ado:
- UPDATE: Allen Iverson tweets that he's close to a deal with some team or another. (See last bullet.)
- The Charlotte Bobcats are, reportedly, moving closer to being sold. We all made a big deal about Michael Jordan being an owner, but his name isn't even mentioned in this article about a possible sale.
- John Krolik of Cavs the Blog watching Shaquille O'Neal's new show. In the first episode, O'Neal plays football against Ben Roethlisberger: "Shaq's 40-yard dash is terrible, but the coach seems genuinely impressed by Shaq's time at the lateral agility drill, which should come as no surprise to anyone who's watched Shaq over his career -- it's Shaq's quickness for a guy so freakishly large that's made him a Hall-0f-famer. (Worth noting: A Hall-of-Famer AS A BASKETBALL PLAYER, NOT A VARIETY SHOW HOST.)"
- Chris Sheridan says these young women are just a good agent away from making big bucks as your next NBA half-time show. One of the simpler things they do is stand on the handlebars of moving bicycles.
- Kobe Bryant in a goofy TV interview, saying he doesn't stop several times a day to say to himself "wow, I'm Kobe Bryant." Too bad. He at least allows "it's fun" to be him.
- One man's quest to dunk, blogged.
- Ben Wallace as a Piston ... I don't know what to make of this. To me the whole point of The Great Ben Wallace was a player with so much desire that it was embarrassing for his teammates not to run through walls. He is horribly short for his position, but nevertheless owned the paint against much bigger men. But at some point the story changed. He got a lot of money, he got upset he couldn't wear a headband and it seemed like he not only slowed with age, but stopped needing wins like most of us need oxygen. I hope I'm wrong.
- 24 teams will compete in the World Championships next summer. It's the biggest, and many argue, most meaningful international basketball contest. Here's a look at the 10 teams that have qualified so far. The U.S. is in after winning Olympic gold.
- The Lakers will pay about $100 million in salary this season. A smart look at how they get there.
- A press release with some weird "jumping the shark" vibe of globalization: "Following the highly anticipated US Tour of the English Premier League's Chelsea Football Club to the US for 'friendly' matches in summer 2009, one loyal, yet unexpected, fan's enthusiasm has spurred the creation of a limited-edition shoe to celebrate the camaraderie of sport. Long standing CFC fan, NBA All-Star Kevin Garnett was the inspiration behind the new CFC- themed adidas TS Commander LT. This limited edition shoe incorporates an iconic royal blue and white split suede upper, a laser etched soccer ball pattern on the midsole and CFC yellow accents, including the team's traditional lion's crest, embossed on the tongue." So this is the shoe to commemorate an NBA player's fanhood of a soccer team that played some exhibition games?
- Zach Harper of Cowbell Kingdom has some video of Vlade Divac in a commercial: "I don't speak a foreign language, especially not this one. So I have no clue what is being sold here. It could be a commercial for a certain airline or it could be a trailer for Vlade's rumored movie, Serbs on a Plane."
- Brian Phillips of The Run of Play is enlightening, in a guest post on 48 Minutes of Hell, on the ways in which international soccer is and is not like international basketball. The key difference: In basketball, the NBA makes all the money, and therefore has a ton of leverage. In soccer, the World Cup and other international contests are hugely important and profitable, so no one really thinks they could keep the best players from competing. As basketball grows in popularity, the NBA could have new rivals for the players' attentions: "If basketball does start to approach the worldwide popularity of soccer, one question will be whether the more open mercantilism of the NBA, combined with its independence from FIBA, will keep the international game in second place, or whether a surge of fan interest could make country vs. country matter. David Stern would trade Tony Parker's ankle for another billion fans in a heartbeat, but it's not clear whether his NBA-centric vision of the game's growth would ultimately kill international basketball or give it new life."
- To Dwight Howard, the trading away of Courtney Lee and the death of Michael Jackson are not entirely unrelated.
- Brandon Jennings' new commercial.
- Remember young Turk Enes Kanter? He's heading to Nevada for a year of high school.
- The state of Allen Iverson's production, as broken down by Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference: "Iverson shot the ball worse than he had since 2004 with Philly, but it's not like he was getting to the rim less than he did in, say, 2007 or even in his Sixers heyday. And it's not like he was taking on a greater offensive burden, either - his Usage was as low as it's ever been. It's just that he wasn't as effective at finishing drives as in previous seasons, and his jumper reverted to the inconsistency of years past. Couple that with fewer assists, more turnovers, & more infrequent trips to the line, and you've got the recipe for a down year. The bad news for A.I. is that while he still gets to the rim enough (a good sign for a 34-year-old small guard), the sharp decline in FG% on those forays into the paint is likely a sign of age and may not reverse itself. But the good news for Iverson is that his eFG% on jumpers has also wavered a great deal in the past and he has righted it, so there's probably a decent a chance Iverson shoots better on J's in 2010 than he did in '09. Defensively, Iverson has always had issues because of his size and his tendency to play passing lanes & gamble for steals instead of playing solid man-to-man D and getting stops that way. However, A.I. seems to be getting better on D with age, paradoxically enough. Below-average earlier in his career, his on/off-court numbers have improved markedly in recent seasons, perhaps signaling the triumph of smarter play over the steal-crazed freelancing that so often hung his teammates out to
dry early in his career."