TrueHoop: NBA Funny
Spurs.com writer Ben Hunt interviewed Richard Jefferson, and the new Spur demonstrated that he's showing up to training camp with his comedic flair intact.
Coach Pop told us that you, "would provide humor in the locker room." Now the question is, what kind of humorist are you? Are you into cracking jokes or pulling pranks?
You know what, it's just whatever is available. You know I don't really like Tim Duncan very much and I think he is a bad person. You know and he had been saying...
No really, I want all this to go down.
Just some of the things that he has already said makes me know that it is going to be a very, very long year in dealing with him. But I'm looking forward to it. You know he thinks he's some quick-witted guy but he might've bit off more than he can chew in dealing with me.
Can you give us any insight on ...
No, no I will not expand anymore. I'll just say if he calls me "Princess Peanut" one more time, we're probably going to have a fight.
- My office plants are looking great today, thanks for asking (really pleased so many of your are looking out for my plants). They have stared death in the eye and laughed it off. Now they have swagger like Kevin Durant at Barry Farms. But no, they are not the three magically healthy plants that I just learned about from Tim.
- Kevin Love made some news with his Twitter account yesterday. But that was hardly the best thing he Tweeted. Consider these entries: "A beautiful Hispanic woman walked up to me and said 'Señor Amor may I take a picture with you?'... Señor Amor, I like that." He also pointed out: "Twitsx are for kids." (Thanks, Neil.)
- "I forget how many. I go blank-headed, I'm traveling so much." That could be me, talking about how many times I ate at the same good cheap restaurant near Orlando. But it's actually Earl Clark, quoted by Ben Couch on the Nets website, talking about how many times he has worked out against James Johnson.
- For the week of June 8-14, a show called "The Mentalist" was the fifth most-watched show. Everything that was watched more than that was an NBA game or trophy presentation.
- Tom Chambers and his multi-jurisdictional peacocks. (Honestly, read this.)
- David Berri's thoughts on winning the TrueHoop Stat Geek Smackdown.
- If Diamon Simpson of St. Mary's is a reasonably high draft pick, this guy called it first.
- At one point during the NBA Finals, somebody said something about how Ricky Rubio's numbers were suspect, coming from the Spanish ACB, and several other people rushed into to say that league is tougher than the NCAA. Debate ensued. I'm on the side of those who say the best European teams would wax the best NCAA teams, mainly because people who have played in both places always agree on that point. To that effect, here's James Gist, telling Tim Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell about his time playing for Angelica Biella in Italy, after being a standout player at Maryland, drafted in the second round last year by San Antonio: "As far as the competition goes, international basketball is a lot more competitive than the collegiate level. In college you usually have one or two, if you're lucky three, good players on your team. That's enough to carry you to a national championship. In Europe, every person on the team makes nearly a million dollars and they have been playing together for years. Countries stand behind their hometown team. It's bigger and the competition is greater. In college when a team or player misses a defensive assignment, the opposing team may not be good enough to execute and punish the team for messing up. If you leave someone open in Europe they will punish you every time. ... Europe is perfect for learning how to play the game right. Knowing when to make the right passes, when to run on a fast break or slow the tempo down, who to get the ball to when the time is right, all comes in to play when you play team basketball. ... I had the chance to play with and against some good veteran players. They may not have been as young or as athletic as me, but they made it work and found other ways to be effective on the court. That helped me understand how to play the game and the important things I needed to know, whether a small trick and how to effectively use technique without relying on pure athleticism. I learned how to be more physical, improved my shooting, and worked hard on being at full energy the entire time I'm on the court. But most of all, I improved my basketball IQ."
- Similarly, consider Brandon Jennings telling the DC Sports Bog's Dan Steinberg about Italian basketball: "I think it's more physical overseas. You know, they don't call anything. You can grab, you can choke a player out, you can do anything. It's real rough over there, so I think it'll be kind of easier for me in the NBA. You know, I won't mind getting bumped or being hit, because I've been hit all year."
- There are many different reports out there that Omri Casspi is one tough dude. I don't know who his agent is, but this is good pre-draft buzz. In a draft where many players are seen as similarly talented, toughness sells.
- And as long as we're in a Euro-hyping portion of the bullets, Ettore Messina has been mentioned many times as a candidate for NBA jobs, and he just left CSKA Moscow which is in financial trouble. He says on his blog, however, that he has been in talks with Real Madrid.
- Joey from Straight Bangin' shows up with conviction on FreeDarko, examining how it is that the Knicks have managed to be a relevant and oft-discussed team, even through a decade of meaninglessness on the court.
- On Ball in Europe, Francesco Cappelletti re-caps Brandon Jennings' European experience: "Scouts aren't so interested in Jennings' stats (5.5 points in 17 minutes per game, 20 percent shooting on 3-point FGs, 2.3 assists, 1.5 turnovers and 2.1 steals per game), but are analyzing his 2008/09 season in other ways; meanwhile, forecasts with Jennings as a high lottery pick increase daily. Why? Jennings still uses one and only one speed (the maximum, naturally); he's not good enough at reading teammates' moves; he too often goes for the spectacular steal instead of defending man and ball; and he hasn't improved as a shooter. On the other hand, Jennings gets credit for his unstoppable first step to the basket; his open-court transition play on fast breaks, at which he has few rivals; and a positively developing passing instinct. ... draft-centric websites put him in Golden State as 7th overall pick or to New Jersey at 11. B.J. is still considered the second-best point guard in the draft ... So congratulations, Sonny Vaccaro! You've worked well for your client's reputation and current account (keep in mind that B.J. became Under Armour's frontman), but in the end, the entire balance of Jennings' season was in the extreme negative.
- Pete Pranica, Grizzlies play-by-play man, talked to General Manager Chris Wallace and said trading the second overall pick is a possibility, as is drafting Ricky Rubio. Then there is this: "They could pick Hasheem Thabeet at #2, inspiring Grizzlies promotions manager and music maven Carly Knight to commission a local band to cover the Go-Go's song 'We Got The Beat' with re-worked lyric
s: 'We got Thabeet.'" (In recognition that some of your are too young, too old, or too cool to know that reference ... this is what he's talking about. And you know what? Listen to the original -- you don't have to re-work a darn thing. It sounds precisely like they're saying "We Got Thabeet" already.)
TrueHoop reader David with some practical advice, to help you avoid what has proved to be a stressful element of his morning:
I thought I would share this just to save your readers any embarrassment.
The Marbury quote you provided ("You're a bum. You're nothing. You're caught up in basketball. Get caught up in life.") is hysterical. It's something that I could easily see friends using to mock other friends. "Hey, Mike. You're nothing. You're caught up in the new Grey's Anatomy season. Get caught up in life."
Just a caution: if you're going to use that quote in a corporate environment, over instant messaging, remember two crucial things:1. Use correct punctuation (i.e., quotation marks) and citations (attributive tags or at least a lead-in sentence that provides context) to avoid any confusion. No one wants to think you're insisting them to "get caught up in life," unless you're Marbury, which is just funny.
2. Select the right screen name to send the quote to. Otherwise, sending "You're a bum. You're nothing. You're caught up in basketball. Get caught up in life," to your supervisor in a time of economic instability may cause some unwanted stress in your life.
Thought I would pass along that piece of advice to avoid the debacle I will likely have to untangle soon.
Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
Of all the dazzling illustrations in The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac, my favorite is the one of Chris Paul in the locker room, hanging up his street clothes [sheepskin] in exchange for his game jersey [wolf suit adorned with the #3].
Off the court, Paul is the prince who guest stars on NPR's precious weekend game show. On the court, he's the nastiest point guard since Gary Payton's prime, and shouldn't be defended without a tetanus shot.
Take last night's Hornets-Pacers game in Indianapolis. The Basketball Jones got this dispatch this morning from a Paul heckler [Mike Wells at the Indy Star confirmed the report], who recounts what happened in the expensive seats [PG-13]:
You know the story about Bosh's girlfriend and LeBron? That happened to me tonight. I was out in Indy sitting first row behind the scorer's table, chatting it up with players left and right (they were, however, ignoring me). The P's had a solid lead and CP wasn't showing up much directly on offense, missing several jumpers. He came to check in at around 3:36, and I was in complete Pacers mode. Without thinking, I murmured, "CP ain't s***. He quickly turned around and said, "What? High off the fact that he even acknowledged me, I said, "Yeah, you're lucky T.J.'s (Ford) not playing. He replied, "Yeah, I prayed for that last night, and rolled his eyes and laughed. I was in complete disarray, and said to the man that I had so passionately spoken in MVP support for last year: "You shouldn't have been mentioned for MVP last year, Kobe is way better than you. He laughed and walked off. My friend gave me the "what have you done look.
CP, the passing machine, stopped passing then. He began to shoot every time he got the ball and took over the game going 6/8 and scoring 11 points in the final 3:36. I was standing and cheering passionately every time Granger hit a big shot and he was looking my way.
After a timeout, he walked from the bench to halfcourt smirking and smiling, staring me down the whole way. I gave him a thumbs down and shook my head. With 26 seconds left he drove, danced around with the ball and hit West for a wide open jumper to win it. I thought the game was over, but it wasn't.
CP went over, took a photo with someone, then walked in my direction. I stood up. He stopped directly in front of the scorers table and, pointing a solid finger, and said in LeBron fashion, "It's your fault. It's your fault. My legs began to shake as my star crush walked away.
What did I do.
Indy Cornrows has more on Paul and the game here.
The Miami Herald columnist has always been hilarious, but now he is hilarious from Beijing.
I've found the taxi drivers to be friendly, although usually they speak very little English. Here's a transcript of the longest conversation I've had with a driver:
DRIVER: Michael Jordan! Number One!
ME: Well, he . . .
ME: Yes. Shaq.
ME: Yao Ming?
DRIVER: Yao Ming! China!
Kenny Mayne is famous for a number of things, including his work at ESPN, but one of the things he has not been famous for is writing books.
He just wrote a book, called An Incomplete and Innaccurate History of Sport. When I first got a copy in the mail, I thought to myself -- why are they sending me this book? It has nothing whatsoever to do with basketball.
As I thumbed through it, I found that I was wrong. There are, in fact, two short chapters about basketball.
I also found that, the whole thing was kind of like Greg Oden's Fro-Hawk: Glad as you might be that it's not yours, there's no denying it's entertaining. Honestly, the book is hard to put down, even though it's hard-cover and fairly heavy.
The publishers were nice enough to let me re-print a brief basketball chapter here on TrueHoop. It's about basketball in Seattle in the 1970s, and includes a rare "dog poop on the basketball court" anecdote:
Basketball: For Those Who Didn't Get Enough in the Previous Chapter
Some readers love basketball so much they yearn for more stories about the game, even stories written from the perspective of a guy who spent his youth playing hide-and-seek while Wilt Chamberlain was out on the floor dunking on Bob Rule. Those readers will love the fact that I mistakenly wrote a second basketball chapter. Or, if they hated the last chapter, the part about them loving this chapter won't be true. Readers who don't like basketball as much as those who love it can skip to the next chapter. Readers who neither love nor hate basketball can go on with what they were doing. Readers who just want words and don't care what the subject matter is can keep reading.
In basketball the Seattle Sonics have won one world championship. There are people from other countries who wonder how we call it a "world championship when the only teams in competition for the title are from North America. When the Sonics won their title in 1979 there wasn't even one team from Canada. Nevertheless, it sounds way cooler to say "We are world champions than it does to say "We are North American champions although there aren't any Canadian teams in the league yet.
When the Sonics were in the playoffs the season before their North American Championship Although There Aren't Any Canadian Teams in the League Yet season I was attending junior college in Wenatchee, Washington. If I'm not mistaken, my college team won a league title the year before. They showed lots of class not calling it a North American title.
My friends Shawn Doran and the late Warren Thomas and I went to the Seattle Coliseum to support the team that would one day be North American champions. We bought three tickets from a scalper. One was directly behind the Portland Trail Blazers' bench. I mean you could reach out and snap Bill Walton's headband if you wanted to see how he felt about that. The other two seats were distant viewing. We did odd-man scissors, paper, rock to see who got to see Bill Walton's headband and who got to see the game from a thousand feet away. I won, or lost, depending on how you rate a seat that pretty much has you in the Blazers' huddle, but also with a view blocked by seven-foot-tall bench players.
Now that I know I duplicated my efforts with two basketball chapters, it's worth pointing out that (a) I did not use the first quarter to scout out better seats, because to be any closer would mean I was in the game, and as stated, I had no jumper, and (b) Shawn and I did not play hide-and-seek at halftime. I don't know if Shawn and Warren did.
All I know is, the next year the Sonics won the whole thing. By that time, I was attending UNLV. I watched the title game from a hotel lounge. This earned me great bragging rights. Not the part about the hotel lounge--anyone could go to those. The part about Seattle having won and me being from Seattle. When I did the bragging I did not bother to mention that I'm not really from Seattle. To do so I would have had to shout, "The Sonics are world champions or at least North American champions and I am from Kent, Washington!
As exciting as it was to see Gus, D.J., Fred, Jack Sikma, and John Johnson help my city (can't believe Kent didn't get the franchise) win a North American championship, I knew the sport was also the root cause of one of my athletic low points.
The year was 1969. I was nine. At ten minutes to six on, I think, a Tuesday, Brian Foltz (much older, at age ten) called and said, "Can you get up to the school right away? We're two players short for the game!
I now knew what it was like for a high-priced free agent to field the call from a professional ball club. A team was in need and I was the salvation. Not only that but a veteran player, a ten-yearold, had personally reached out to me. He must have told the head coach how he'd seen me on the playground and how I had just the right skills to push this team to the top. That, and the game started in less than ten minutes. That, and they were in such a need for top-flight players, they entrusted me to bring anyone with me.
I called Jeff Whidden. He lived two doors down. We lived, if sprinting, forty-five seconds from Star Lake Elementary. We met at the top of his driveway and ran to our school.
We were athletes.
We were warmly received. Of course we were. The team had just four players, and the league rules required that six be on site to avoid a forfeit. So what if we weren't the correct age (ten)? So what if our parents hadn't signed the parental permission slip? Years ahead of Magic and the Lakers it was: show time!
There was one problem.
Jeff had arrived wearing hiking boots, not basketball shoes. And one more problem: on the bottom of Jeff 's hiking boots was dog poop. There was just one more problem: on the gym floor now there was smeared dog poop.
The game was held up for ten minutes while Jeff and I got paper towels and wiped the floor clean.
I don't remember who won. I do remember seeing the scorebook after the game and telling the coach proudly how "I didn't foul anyone! The coach told me, "That means you didn't try very hard.
What an insult. I had personally prevented the team from suffering a humiliating forfeit, helped distribute the ball to the real scorers, and stayed out of foul trouble (can't have that with only six players, particularly when one of them has dog poop on his hiking boots), and I was being mocked for not trying hard enough?
This wasn't nearly as bad as having struck out off the tee in Really Lesser Little League (see "Baseball), but the incident stayed with me for years. In fact, here it is, this year, in my coaster.
- Questioning LeBron James' decision to pose like King Kong on a magazine cover. The thing that jumps out to me most about this whole story is something almost desperate about how weird people are willing to behave in their attempts to be noticed. Here's another, non-basketball example.
- Dave from BlazersEdge: "It disturbs me sometimes how refs are able to interact with the players and coaches. I believe officials should be able to talk to people and interact with them right up and until the point where that interaction involves anger or argument. At that point there should be two options: the ref calls a technical which is traceable and recordable or the ref shuts up. Any baiting, arguing, or yelling at a player or coach should be grounds for discipline. At that point the only way to exercise authority and/or bias in a negative way would be with the whistle. I assume the league already traces fouls and technicals for each official and graphs them on a year-to-year basis. Deviation from the norm should be easy to ascertain. Also the controlling nut-jobs wouldn't be able to get the same satisfaction from the job. I propose calling this the 'Blow It or Stow It' rule. Technically some version of this is probably already in place but I think it needs to be enforced pretty strictly."
- If I'm a Dallas fan, I'm not sure I want to see Dirk Nowitzki heading to the hole in crunch time. I know, I know, it's what everyone always said he needed to do -- can't be an MVP shooting jump shots all night -- but he's so uncomfortable on the drive. He was barely touched in this video, and still missed by a country mile.
- In praise of Rajon Rondo.
- Another billionaire full of ideas about newspapers, blogs, and all that. Ted Leonsis and Mark Cuban both fancy themselves experts on newspapers. Here's my idea: a TV show where they both are allowed to spend (just) one billion of their own money (no more) on competing newspaper enterprises. We can follow it for years, and see who ends up with the better business.
- Ken Berger of Newsday explores the notion of Jerry West taking over the Knicks' front office: "Asked if he would consider the job if required to keep Thomas as coach, West said, 'I would not answer that question.' The most important question for the Knicks to propose to West -- 'Would you be interested?' -- hasn't been asked yet. 'I don't know if I'd do it,' West said. 'It would be nice, privately, if somebody had an interest enough to want to talk to you about it. That would be exciting, yes.'"
- Sitting Zach Randolph is not, in and of itself, proof the Knicks are throwing in the towel. He may be a big contract, but they have been terrible with him on the floor lately.
- Some making-of-the-commercial Kobe Bryant video. Pretty weird to see him dunking again and again dressed up as various old men.
- Is Gilbert Arenas going to hire an agent or not? My thought is that he's in a situation where he could use some veteran savvy -- there is not a lot of cap room around the league, he has been injured, and his team is serious about not spending too much money. If he's not offered what he wants right off the bat, there'll be some work to be done.
- Yes, the Nets have said goodbye to some big contracts. No, you should not expect them to have the cap room to bring in a big free agent this summer.
Planet Lovetron (the blog, not the place) marvels at how Celtic fans celebrate Brian Scalabrine:
He gets cheered just for touching the ball; they chant his name if he hits a shot. Read: they chant his name if he hits ONE shot. Sometimes they chant his name for doing nothing at all. They even bring homemade signs that call for a "BIG 4!" instead of the Big 3.
I wonder how Scal feels about it all. I'm sure he prefers it to boos, but it hast to be kind of embarrassing. It reminds me of when we used to bring signs and chant "Put in Wohlers!" at our boy's high school basketball games. We'd chant during freethrows, timeouts, halftime. If he got in the game and scored a bucket we'd scream like mad. He may have appreciated some of the support, but certainly not all of it. Yes, we were drunk, and we didn't mean to disrespect, but when your level of fan support disproportionately exceeds your level of skill/production, you are being mocked to a certain degree, even if it's out of love.
I have been in crowds doing that kind of stuff. It's fun! I think, more than anything, it's a sympton of delerium. We're having so much fun that we can indulge in this little bit of group goofiness!
I recognize, though, that it might also be totally annoying and creepy if you're Brian Scalabrine, who is an extremely hard working player who takes his job very seriously. Back when he was with the Nets several people from the team told me he had a nearly insatiable appetite for anything that would make him stronger or more skilled. And as his reward he's roasted in videos like these.
This exact trend -- crowds adopting a bench-warmer as a de facto mascot -- came up in a conversation I had a while ago with an NBA beat writer who spends his time in arenas all over the league. He described something that I kind of hope isn't true: those guys who crowds adore for something other than their skill are almost always white.
If and when he makes it to the NBA, maybe that's something Rod Benson can help remedy.
UPDATE: TrueHoop reader Z helps out by offering Jerome Williams (Raptor years) and Ben Wallace (early Detroit era -- before he was clearly a star) as examples of black fan darlings. MORE UPDATE: I have also had nominations of Bo Outlaw, Granville Waiters, and Earl Boykins. EVEN MORE: How about Ronny Turiaf?
- Joey Crawford, back on the court with Tim Duncan tonight.
- There's a new online biography of Tim Duncan, by Liston, and it starts like this: "So basically, my dad is like, the foremost expert on Tim Duncan and stuff. You see, they were best friends or whatever and now my dad knows all about him. But not best friends like where they hung out and knew each other and stuff, more like best friends where Tim never really knew about my dad but my dad thought about and talked about Tim Duncan all the time and wore his jersey to my grandma's funeral even though it totally pissed everyone off but my dad was like, 'Whatever, dudes. It's the playoffs.' Best friends like that."
- A poll to give Kevin Durant a new nickname. My favorite is "daggers," although Mr. Good Things is fun.
- A tad PG-13 for language, and I guess the recommendation to drink a whole bunch, but here's a funny Sonics drinking game. If you really want to get drunk, they recommend drinking every time Kevin Durant takes a shot that would have gotten you benched in high school.
- Stephen Jackson on video teaching the "kick 'em in the shins" jumper.
- It will be hard for Jermaine O'Neal to convince Pacer fans that he won't be working extra hard to impress the Lakers tonight.
- Do players need full-time agents? To me the short answer is that everyone could use a good agent. The superstar may have team income secured, but needs top marketing income and advice with contract minutiae that can change everything. (For instance, Kobe Bryant's no-trade clause.) The 12th man needs someone with an excellent feel on what other opportunities are out there when this job ends. (If you could be making seven figures playing long minutes in Spain, wouldn't you at least want to know that option was there?) Everyone in between needs wisdom. But nobody needs shoddy agents who have bigger fish to fry. And there's a lot of that.
- You ever heard the radio documentary Ghetto Life 101? It's from 1993 Chicago, and it was made by some teenagers, talking frankly about their lives in the tough part of town. Here's a transcript, part of which features an encounter with Dale Ellis. "Jones: On the bus, some one tells us that there are professional basketball players staying at the Hyatt Regency. So, being top notch reporters, we head to the hotel to check it out. (Hotel lobby music) Jones: You hear the nice music they're playing? Newman: Yeah. Jones: A few minutes later, we scammed our way up to the 20th floor. That's where we found Dale Ellis -- a guard with the San Antonio Spurs. He let us interview him in his room. Jones: Yeah, I'm from Ida B. Wells -- what part of the United States are you from? Ellis: Atlanta -- actually Marietta I'm 29 minutes north of Atlanta. Jones: I know you played for the Sonics and you won the three point contest. What are some of your greatest achievements in life? Ellis: Well, the biggest achievement, I think, is just being here for one. Jones: We chilled out with Dale for about fifteen, twenty minutes. It was cool. Ellis: Math was always my favorite subject. It was always my favorite subject. Jones: Thank you. Can I have your autograph? (Everyone laughs.) Jones (whispering): Goddamn. That was Dale Ellis man. That was Dale Ellis, man!!"
- Wizznutzz had me laughing so hard that my facial muscles will need the rest of the day off to regroup. Basically, it's a criticism of those Wizard fans who are lukewarm in supporting Gilbert Arenas (PG-13): "If you dont like inventors why are you still shopping at Sharper Image, why dont you go next door to Sears where they have more reliable warranties but the Pepper Shakers dont have built in flashlights??? If you want the top dog then you got the wrong nature documentary cause gil's the craziest bird the the bush, hes the crazy little bird with the puffed up feathers doing the weird dance and building a bright blue nest out of old Connect Four chips and trying to mate with a bear."
- Basketbawful has some fun facts: "The Knicks, Bucks, Hawks, Blazers, and Kings are a combined 0-25 on the road. ... Eddy Curry has 5 assists and 19 turnovers this season. ... Jason Kidd currently ranks 37th in field goal percentage (34.2 percent) among NBA point guards."
- Confronting Tommy Heinsohn about the waning presence of Tommy Points. Are the Celtics now too good for hustle stats?
- Baron Davis with an amazing deadball flop. (Via Deadspin)
- Dinner and a movie with LeBron James for 800 needy people.
- Do not call Kevin Martin a chucker. Tom Ziller will throw a whole mess of numbers at you, and he'll win.
- Ian Whittell writing for England's Times about Steve Nash's love of soccer. (Via From Deep)
- Trainer Dan Barto remembers when he roomed with prospect Michael Beasley. "He made sure to write all the phone numbers of the girls he met on his closet wall in marker -- that way he would not lose them. There were many nights were I would come back from work and he would be doing his homework just five feet from the television with and empty container of 30 wings. The best part was the he sometimes would be wearing 3-D sunglasses watching Sponge Bob Square Pants." Barto also says that in a game of one-on-one to 11 against Kevin Durant, he'd take Beasley every time.
OK. Next week, as the NBA season begins on Wednesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers will face the Dallas Mavericks.
It occurs to me that this will be a meeting of two of the NBA's best-known dancers.
There is no shortage of Mark Cuban dancing footage these days. I have a feeling that even before his trick hip, he was a guy who did not glide across the dance floor. But I'll be honest: seeing him take his cloddy tendencies and turn himself into at least a viable back-of-the-pack contender on an actual dance show -- that was something of a triumph of hard work that I feel was worth applauding.
It's like your local garbage man coming in fourteenth in a NASCAR race. Not spectacular, but amazing in its way.
Cuban also has an ego the size of Texas, which is actually admirable in this setting, where the call is to trot out there and assume America will LOVE watching you do something you're not all that good at.
Representing Cleveland, on the other hand, is one LeBron James, who has been dancing on video more and more lately. There was the super bizarre Saturday Night Live Solid Gold skit (that video seems to have been removed from YouTube -- a victory for James).
James was something of a player in that famous All-Star Weekend Dance-Off with Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard.
Let's just admit right now that no one is likely to touch O'Neal when it comes to presence on the dance floor. The man just knew what to do.
It's clear, however, that James has some moves, too. With the training Cuban put in, he'd be a contender on whatever dance show you have.
In the meantime, you wish he had Cuban's relentlessness conviction that America wanted so badly to see him perform.
That'll come with age. Ask O'Neal.
And there's a glimpse of it in this old footage of James singing and dancing along to a BeeGees tune. He doesn't know the words, and he doesn't care. He's singing anyway.Put it all together and you get ... two flawed dancers, I guess. But, you know, who's better?
- Ted Green on SportsHubLA: "... to paraphrase from politics, I have seen Kobe Bryant, young man, and you, sir, are not Kobe Bryant. If the Chicago Bulls get ahold of this tape, they won't trade Ben Wallace's Afro-Sheen to the Lakers, much less half their team. Kobe is now shooting 33 per cent in the preseason, making him Kwame Brown with bigger hands. Or Kwame with no conscience. The World's Most Focused Athlete since Rocky knocked out Drago also suddenly looks not just disinterested, which is one thing in preseason, but disconnected. Raising the following questions: Having gotten exactly nothing he asked for in the offseason, such as help around him, is he still in a grand funk without the railroad? Has he looked around and realized that, like Bill Murray in 'Groundhog Day', he's still there with the Lakers and it's still the same place, same time, same day and about to be the same season? Is he not just telling the Lakers he wants out, but also showing them?"The suggestion that mid-season single elimination tournaments (we have been talking about this for a while, I'm fully on board) and a special section for passionate fans down near the court could to a lot to stir passion in the NBA experience.
- Why it is that Mark Cuban should trade Dirk Nowitzki for Kobe Bryant, and why it is he likely won't.
- Two things about that Antoine Walker trade: The first thing is that it's no secret that ESPN's Marc Stein broke that story yesterday. But was kind of cool was to see the man at work. All us ESPN.com NBA people were in a meeting when Stein kept rushing in and out on the phone, and then he borrowed a laptop to type up the story that broke the news. The second thing about it is that since it happened several people have emailed wondering why either team would do this trade. My best guess is that Miami, especially when Wade is absent, is badly in need of perimeter athleticism and scoring punch. (Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel explains the good and bad of the trade for Miami.) In that regard, Davis is more valuable than Walker, for sure. And Minnesota has a lot of young players -- Corey Brewer, Randy Foye, Rashad McCants, Gerald Green -- who can share the touches Davis would have had. Minnesota also some financal relief and a first-round pick coming. Just reading the tea leaves of the press conference and Marc Stein's coverage it seems the Timberwolves are not at all sure they are going to actually play Antoine Walker, which has to raise the possibility of a buyout. (FULL DISCLOSURE: Yes, when I first published this, I called Minnesota, um, Milwaukee. I used to live in Wisconsin. I know the difference. But I did have some temporary dyslexia. It's fixed now, and many apologies all around.)
- To get Kevin Garnett to the Warriors, Chris Mullin implies in an interview with Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, would have pretty much meant exchanging Golden State's entire roster for Minnesota's.
- J.R. Smith's complicated off-season.
- Eddy Curry could have a huge year -- I imagine he's still getting over his injury, and this time of year means nothing. But so far in preseason, Brian Cronin from Knickerblogger is not impressed: "... the Knicks just plain ol' look much better when Curry is not on the floor, as was the case once again in tonight's 103-90 victory over the 76ers. The spacing is better, Randolph looks more at ease, everything seems to click so much better when he is not on the court."
- Et tu, Stuckey?
- Chris Herrington of Beyond the Arc on Mike Conley, Jr.'s early returns: "I haven't seen anything in the preseason that changes my opinion of his ultimate future as an All-Star-level floor leader, but it may take awhile for Conley, which should be expected of a 20-year-old rookie point guard. His penetration and passing skills are already superb. His defense, shooting, and finishing ability need improvement." There has been a lot of talk about who's going to start -- Conley or Kyle Lowry -- but Herrington makes a case for Damon Stoudamire.
- When you're entering the stadium, a security person (at least in the NFL) might pat you down to make sure you're not smuggling in bombs, or kittens, or whatever. A lawyer wonders -- are those pat downs legal?
- I think we might see some more little trades shortly as teams negotiate to maneuver below the luxury tax. A lot of teams are just over that expensive line (the teams that are over subsidize teams that are under, so it's a double-whammy) but could be under with some tweaks.
- Al Thornton learning to play power forward, too.
- Mark Cuban's reflections on being bounced from "Dancing with the Stars."
- The Dolans fail again to take Cablevision private.
- FreeDarko, the book. Coming in one year.
- What makes a "real" fan? (And does anyone think that's what Rudy Giuliani is for the Red Sox?)
- Reflections inspired by a fire escape view, and Darcy Frey's classic basketball book "The Last Shot."
- Toronto beat writer gets volunteers to run his fantasy team, and is not adjusting to the idea of rooting for Ricky Davis, Ron Artest, and Rasheed Wallace.
- An unofficial ranking of the highest salaries in Europe. $1.7 million Euros gets you into the top ten. Worth noting though: typically European players do not pay income tax -- the team does -- and they get living expenses covered. So that's equivalent to a lot more in the U.S.A.
- An honest attempt to describe Billy King's strategy in building the Sixers.
- If you drive baseline, you better be ready to finish spectacularly, or pass to the far corner. A lot more options open up when you drive to the middle.
- Rudy Fernandez is injured, and is replaced by 17-year-old international phenom Ricky Rubio, who plays very well.
- The Atlanta Hawks get up close and personal with some Hurricane Katrina devastation.
- There is a ton of LeBron "pretty funny ... for an athlete" James Saturday Night Live material on YouTube including his short and partially taped (you get the feeling the producers weren't inspired by this part of the show -- by my count he tells a grand total of two live jokes) monologue, a Read to Achieve commercial shoot gone bad ("we should have gotten Dwyane Wade, at least he has a ring"), High School Musical 3 (again, precious little asked of LeBron), and Kanye West was funny in a skit with a LeBron cameo. But the thing opponents will be reminding James about when he's on the free throw line this season is the "Solid Gold" spoof (at about the five-minute mark of that clip) when he was in skin-tight shiny gold and a dazzling wig as the dancer "Alexander," saying stuff like "I'm six-foot-eight, 245 pounds, and I like eating roasted whole turkeys."
- A basketball game from "The Office."
- Basketballs as rhythm instruments.
- The basketball scene from "The Cable Guy."
- Sarunas Jasikevicius arriving at his new team, Panathinaikos, in Athens. People this side of the Atlantic might be lukewarm on the player Don Nelson calls "Jazzy Cabbages," but man oh man do they have have the fever in Greece.
- The ten best plays of the 1992 Dream Team. A lot of Clyde Drexler and Michael Jordan. Scottie Pippen makes a move on the break that would get him benched by a lot of eighth-grade coaches. The main thing to celebrate here? They don't use this music in highlight packages any more.
- At an adidas event in New Orleans, dozens of the best college, high school, and international players gathered for four days of spirited play. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress was shocked to see that, even though many of these players are tough to see in person, most NBA teams weren't there watching: "While somewhere around 10 teams were represented on the second day of the event, that number dwindled down to 5 on the last evening, from what we could tell. The Detroit Pistons, New Jersey Nets, Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls were the only teams (again, from what we could tell in the very small gyms) who took in the very important displays put on by otherwise hard to reach prospects such as Serge Ibaka, Seidou N'joya, Miguel Lorenzo, Eabubakar Zaki and others. Jack Mai of the Sacramento Kings coached the Asian Pacific team, so he got his fill too obviously. Regardless, it seemed strange to say the least to note the apathy of the highest level NBA decision makers (re: the GMs) who will have tough choices to make in a year or two regarding whether to draft some of the players in attendance herebut were not present to evaluate them. Since NBA people are banned from watching high school players except for a few select events like these, theres a case to be made that they might have been well served to check the progress on top-level prospects such as Jrue Holiday, B.J. Mullens, Lance Stephenson and others as well. And we're ignoring the fact that as many as 6-7 lottery picks (besides Ibaka) are playing here as college counselors. But who are we to criticize?"
- Chris Webber sounds really honest when he says he loves talking to kids.
- Blazer fans, brace yourself for life with actual expectations.
- In case there is not nearly enough NBA in your life.
- SI.com's Chris Ekstrand tells us about Juan Carlos Navarro: "Navarro, one of the best pure shooters in the world, possesses nearly limitless range and has had many glorious performances in Barcelona's uniform, including ACB championships in 2001, 2003 and 2004 and the Euroleague title in 2003. In recent years, the slick guard has taken a leadership role on a younger team, leading the ACB in scoring this past season with 17.3 points per game. (Note: the ACB plays 40-minute games.) He shot 44.6 percent from three-point range and led the league with 2.52 three-pointers made per game. He also shot 88 percent from the free throw line. Navarro guided Barcelona to the ACB Finals this year, where the team lost to Real Madrid. Navarro would be a valuable addition to any NBA team, but he might be most valuable to the Grizzlies. The chemistry between the two close friends that has developed over a decade of playing together for Spain's national team cannot be duplicated by American players, even those who were four-year college teammates. When Gasol gets double-teamed in the post when he's playing for Spain, he whips the ball out to the perimeter with barely a glance, seemingly possessing a sixth sense about where Navarro will be spotted up, waiting for his pass."
- Now it's time for Kevin McHale and Glen Taylor to prove themselves? What about every other year they have been running the show? I'd argue the pressure is off for a moment -- they're not supposed to be good, and they're loaded up with young talent. And if McHale gets fired anytime soon, I can't imagine it'll be because of what happens this season.
- Steve Nash discovers it's hard to find a good pickup soccer game in the park when everyone involved is famous and the media is in tow. I love the fact that Nash lives in Manhattan in the summers, by the way. It's nasty hot, and intense, but there's a hell of a lot going on.
- Maurice Evans talks to the Lakers Blog about his trip to Kenya with Feed the Children and the NBA Players Association: "We went to the Ray of Hope Clinic, and that's where the player's union actually donated money on behalf of all the NBA players. They have these people who have AIDS. And they also help out children, help these people out. I noticed there was a kid standing there who didn't have any shoes on. And he was right in this area called "the slump." "Slump" meaning exactly what it sounds like. Like "slump, that's terrible." And he was walking around barefoot. There's glass. There's rocks. It's hard walking there with shoes on, let alone without. I could see that he was cut all over his foot. I had a little bit of money with me, something like 250 bucks. I see this guy, a vendor, he's selling shoes. I just took the little kid over, tried to get him a pair of shoes. And it wasn't like they were Jordans. They were just like some shoes. Some leather shoes. We took him over to get those shoes and then the next thing you know, here comes another kid who didn't have shoes. And then another kid and another kid. Before too long, there was a super-long line of kids, and they were realizing that they were going to get a pair shoes if they got in line before the money ran out. I felt so bad that I didn't have more money, you know what I'm saying? You just feel how much of a difference something just small like that will make in their life.
- That NBA TV show "The Run" has some old episodes online. (Via NBA's Finest)
- A must-read recap of the Jermaine O'Neal affair, in which he may or may not have said this or that and is certainly mad about it now.
- This might be mediocre fashion, but it could be a lot worse.
- UPDATE: Remember Charles Smith? The former Knick, Spur, and Clipper? Like a lot of NBA players, he thought it would be cool to have a foundation that did nice things for children. But now that charity has become a big mess.
- UPDATE: In praise of Mateen Cleaves.
- UPDATE: Three different kinds of NBA head cases.