Yesterday I blogged a little about Kobe Bryant. To the many Bryant fans who reached out convinced that I had been excessively negative: Ask fans of any celebrity ... if the people "going after" your hero are using evidence-based analysis and a measured tone, there is nothing to worry about. My mild criticism (blended with a ton of praise!) fell far short of people on the Laker payroll like Phil Jackson and Tex Winter have said in print. What I wrote may not make you happy, but it's par for the course. Not everything said about every international media superstar is positive, and that's OK. That doesn't mean anyone's out to get you.
On the other hand ... there is an undeniable joy in a well-written negative review. And Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty tees off on the Kings for signing Desmond Mason, who is something of a poster-child for NBA players who, new kinds of stats demonstrate, are not good. Mason has also been seriously injured, and is at an age where almost every NBA player is in decline. Coach Paul Westphal gave various rationales, calling the signing a "no lose situation" while pointing out it would motivate the young players to fight for playing time. Ziller tackles each. "I disagree that it's a 'no-lose situation' -- that roster spot could be going to a younger player, a back-up center, a fan favorite, Chris Bosh's best friend from third grade, a younger player, Tom Ziller or a younger player. If you were hoping for one of those guys, and instead get Desmond Mason, well that seems to be a loss. ... Before signing Desmond Mason, there was the chance Donte Greene or Omri Casspi might goof off in practice, unworried about the possibility of losing their invisible spot in the rotation because there isn't a 32-year-old breathing down their necks. NO MORE. Desmond Mason will prevent further popcorn shenanigans! I am a loyal fan. I want to see Greene and Casspi (and Tyreke Evans) play. I'm not a coach, but I think there are ways to motivate young players without threatening them with a terrible, old player coming off knee surgery. Try cupcakes! Little children such Greene and Casspi loves cupcakes." UPDATE: And a defense of the signing.
David Stern made a convincing point the other day. The NBA delivers about $2 billion a year to its players, and no other league comes close. That's why he isn't so stressed about losing a player here or there to Europe. However, I'd point out that one country in particular -- Spain -- seems to have the knack for producing players who turn down major NBA opportunities. Ricky Rubio and Fran Vasquez were both lottery picks who weren't exactly gaga for the NBA. Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm discusses, brilliantly, the case of Juan Carlos Navarro, who made a cameo in Memphis a few years ago: "The impression you get from interviews with Navarro is that he just didn't care that much about the NBA. He loves Spain. It's his home. And versus the States, where there will be constant questions about his style, his ability, and his talent simply because he hasn't played in the AAU tournaments or Rucker Park or the NCAA Tournament, in Spain, he's considered mega-successful. Would you rather be a pauper in heaven or a prince in Hell? What if Hell was actually your home, and instead of the brimstone pits, it was nice beaches, beautiful women, amazing food and way more money than you can make in heaven?"
But for that anti-gay rant, Tim Hardaway, posits Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel, would have had his jersey retired alongside Alonzo Mourning. Instead, Mourning flew solo as the first Heat player to enjoy the honor. Instead, it has been announced, Hardaway will enjoy that honor on October 28.
The Rockets promote Gersson Rosas. It's not a name most people know, but it's a non-trivial day for Latin-American hoops. In 2006, Rosas (then a scout) wrote on Rockets.com about how he got to the NBA: "As a native of Colombia, South America, I utilized my culture and ability to speak Spanish to develop a background in Latin American basketball through various means. Growing up in Houston, I was fortunate to have been exposed to some good University of Houston teams during the 1980's that consisted of a number of players from Latin American countries, including Brazil (Rolando Ferreira), Colombia (Alvaro Teheran, Rafael Carrasco, Angel Sanz) and Venezuela (Carl Herrera, David Diaz), which piqued my interest regarding the impact of Latin American basketball players in the United States. Throughout college, I partnered with various sports agents on projects that consisted of placing undrafted or free agent players in South American professional leagues. In addition, some of my other responsibilities with these projects included individual basketball development, draft preparation and player relations. These experiences were beneficial, as I was able to build up deliberate relationships with basketball personnel throughout Latin America, which in turn led to more opportunities. One of which was working with Oscar Torres of Venezuela during his tenure with the Houston Rockets, on a wide range of tasks that included everything from individual basketball workouts to English classes. As a result of this experience, I assisted the Venezuelan basketball federation, which Torres was a member of, at the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana. My experiences and background in Latin American basketball has granted me the opportunity to become a scout/video coordinator for the Houston Rockets."
To anyone who ever wanted to see every NBA referee fired ... careful what you wish for. I totally agree that the current crop of referees is not perfect. But who is? And replacing them all wholesale ... I'm not optimistic.
A 2007 profile of Kings incoming rookie Jon Brockman, by the Seattle Times' Bob Condotta, reveals the ridiculous number of times Brockman has broken his nose. (His style of play may be hard-nosed. But his nose, apparently, isn't.) It comes in a discussion about Brockman's religion. "'It's something I was born into,' he said. 'At the same time, I didn't realize the importance of it until middle school, high school, when I really started thinking about and just knowing that it's something you aren't just born into but have to do on your own to show that you really believe what
you believe.' He has heard people question, however, how his beliefs jibe with his intense style of play. 'Because I'm so aggressive, people are like, 'That's not very Christian,'' he said. 'But I don't see it as that at all. Basketball is a physical sport, that's the way it should be played. It's a whole lot of using your body and getting in position and some people get hurt in the process. But the main thing is, I'll be as quick to help someone up as knock them down.' He also points out that he has gotten as much as he has given at times. He has suffered five broken noses, three or four broken fingers, a broken wrist, turf toe, a badly pulled hamstring and torn shoulder muscles, the latter earlier this season."