TrueHoop: WNBA

Friday Bullets

August, 28, 2009

Posted by Kevin Arnovitz

First Cup: Tuesday

August, 11, 2009
  • Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News: "Pau Gasol broke his left middle finger while practicing with the Spanish national team in Seville and underwent surgery Monday, Lakers spokesman John Black said. It's unknown how long Gasol might be sidelined. Black received the news of the power forward/center's injury via a telephone call from Gasol's Spain-based agent, Arturo Ortega. A Spanish Web site reported Gasol hurt his left index finger while trying to block teammate Felipe Reyes' shot and was taken to a local hospital."
  • Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "One last thing, regarding another Joe (as in Johnson). I'll admit to being perplexed at all the rancor over whether or not it's prudent to explore contract extension talks with JJ's camp. Why wouldn't the Hawks want to lock up their best player for at least four more years (and that's all the Hawks can offer since Johnson has a year remaining on his current deal, per league rules)? A four-year deal in the $62-$64 million neighborhood (that's an extension from what he makes now with the proper annual raises) makes plenty of sense to me. The question is how much sense does it make to JJ's camp as they weigh the millions you can touch now with the potential millions that might (or might not) be available next summer, when he'd be an unrestricted free agent? I know some of you are vehemently (I love that word) opposed to the idea of '4 More Years' with Joe in office. I just don't understand why. We're talking about a three-time All-Star that would still be in his NBA prime at the end of the deal. And if the fears of a potential lockout two years from now are realized, I'd much rather have the core of my team locked up going into the summer of 2011 as opposed to fishing around for players with so much uncertainty surrounding the league."
  • Dan Duggan of the Boston Herald: "Shelden Williams failed to live up to expectations in Atlanta and he was dealt to Sacramento midway through his second season. Williams then was traded to Minnesota for 15 games last season before becoming a free agent. Looking for a fresh start, Williams decided to bring his game to the Celtics, signing a one-year contract for the veteran's minimum worth $1.3 million. 'The interest has been there for a while now,' said Williams. 'They've had a strong interest going back to my senior year when I was coming out in the draft. Also, with the tradition here and being in an atmosphere like this, versus the teams I've been on in the league, is something different and I think it'll be a good opportunity.' Celtics general manager Danny Ainge believes Williams can produce if given the opportunity. 'We think that Shelden is a good young player that hasn't really had much of a chance,' Ainge said. 'He's a real pro. He works extremely hard. He's worked hard this summer. He faced some adversity early in his career and he's responded in the right way by training and working really hard.' "
  • Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman: "Nick Collison is back in Seattle this summer, and he's been having a virtual lovefest over his off-season home on the social networking site. There have been tweets about the weather and the activities, the sites and the sounds, the beauty and the grandeur. If you didn't know better, you'd think he was cashing checks from the King County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Sure, the folks in the Thunder front office love it, too. That one of the team's veterans is talking up the city that fought the franchise tooth and nail can't be all that popular. But before anyone gets any crazy ideas -- Twitter bans have become all the rage in the sports world, after all -- the Thunder's top brass needs to remember one thing. Collison's right. Seattle is a great place. Truth be told, it's one of the best American cities. It has culture, character and charm. Seattle isn't as big or as glitzy as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or Miami, but none of them are less than two hours from the beach and the mountains. ... Collison is a cerebral dude with a dry sense of humor, and on Twitter, that personality comes through. It is evident. It is real. We don't always get to see that from professional athletes. Twitter might reveal a side of some athletes that we'd rather not see, but in Collison's case, I don't like him less for raving about Seattle's ambiance and complaining about Oklahoma City's heat. I like him more."
  • Jamie Samuelsen for the Detroit Free Press: "So what is Ben Wallace now and why is he here? Is he expected to be a mentor to the younger players? I hadn't noticed that the young players need lessons in how to plunge the knife in their coaches back. Ben is an expert at that. Maybe the youngsters need tutoring on how to complain when they don't get the ball, even though they have no offensive skills (the kids have skills, Ben doesn't). Or maybe it's important at a young age for NBA players to grow a massive chip on their shoulders that's so big that it can't be eroded by thousands of fawning fans and a franchise that paid Big Ben handsomely and promoted him prominently. Maybe the Pistons view this as a public relations move. With the team in a rebuilding mode and expected to struggle again this year, maybe the front office thinks that this will be a way to sell tickets. But I don't. Do you really think that fans will flock to the Palace to watch a shell of a former player grab four or five rebounds a night, commit four fouls and then yell at his coach when he's taken out of the game. Ben WAS a very good player. And the Pistons marketed him brilliantly. He was a key player in winning a title and he benefited from it greatly. But that was five years ago. This feels desperate on both sides. And I predict it will end quietly or badly. I don't see any way that it ends well."
  • Fred Kerber of the New York Post: "There is encouragement -- but call it tempered encouragement -- about Yi Jianlian being a dominant force for the Chinese National Team. The encouragement is that Yi is dominant. 'He never has been the big scorer or the big rebounder for them, so that is encouraging,' Rod Thorn said. The tempered part? He's doing it against the United Arab Emirates and other international powerhouses that would finish, like, 17th in the NBDL. 'True, they're not playing the toughest competition,' Thorn acknowledged. 'But we are getting good reports.' "
  • Phil Jasner of the Philadelphia Daily News: "It isn't really accurate to say Royal Ivey is returning to the 76ers, because he never really left. Oh, Ivey opted out of the second leg of the contract he signed in 2008 and became an unrestricted free agent, mostly in search of a little more money. Agent Keith Glass said he 'talked to some teams,' but that Ivey becoming a free agent wasn't really about
    a desire to leave the Sixers. 'We're very, very happy to be back in Philadelphia,' Glass said yesterday, after Ivey passed his physical examination and signed a new contract. 'When we opted out, it wasn't a reflection on the Sixers, it was a belief that Royal is worth more than the minimum, and that's been born out.' Glass would not divulge specifics about Ivey's new contract, but a source familiar with the situation said it was for 1 year, worth slightly more than the $959,111 veterans' minimum."
  • Ross Siler of The Salt Lake Tribune: "As much of an impression as he made in summer league with the Jazz, Josh Duncan has opted to play in Belgium this season rather than trying to make the roster in Utah out of training camp. Duncan's agent, Lance Young, said Monday that the former Xavier forward has signed to play for Belgacom Liege, which offered guaranteed money not available to Duncan in the NBA. ... Duncan, who played last season for Pau Orthez in France, averaged 11.4 points and shot better than 70 percent in five games with the Jazz at last month's summer league in Orlando, Fla. There was too much uncertainty, though, for Duncan to turn down Europe, Young said. Many NBA teams are expected to carry the minimum 13 players due to the economy and the Jazz's roster is in flux pending a potential Carlos Boozer trade. At the same time, Young estimated 80 to 90 percent of the spots available to players in Europe have been taken, forcing Duncan to commit now rather than waiting to see what materialized in the NBA."
  • Bill Bradley of The Sacramento Bee: "When the Kings were preparing to retire the numbers of Vlade Divac and Chris Webber last season, some fans said they was undeserving of the honor because neither had won a championship in Sacramento. If that's the crucial factor, then I have one jersey the Maloofs should hang from the Arco Arena rafters: Yolando Griffith's No. 33. Griffith retired last week from an 11-year WNBA career. She spent nine seasons with the Monarchs before playing the past two seasons with Seattle and Indiana. She will best be known as the center who helped to lead the Monarchs to eight playoff berths, two finals appearances and one league championship in 2005."

Tuesday Bullets

June, 16, 2009
  • I was out of my office for 12 days of the NBA Finals. Before I left, I had planned to water the hell out the three plants that have been to my left, clinging to life, for four years. Opening the office door, I worried I might encounter death. But you know what? They looked just about the same as when I left: Greenish yellow and obstinate. Which is a really good sign of their resiliency ... or a total indictment for how I care for them normally. In any case, they're in fat city now, with water, sunlight, and even a little fertilizer stick each. By draft day, it's going to be like a jungle in here.
  • Mark Cuban, on the radio, says he thinks it's likely the Mavericks could have traded Dirk Nowitzki for Kobe Bryant two years ago.
  • A very thoughtful review of Bill Laimbeer's six-and-a-half seasons in the WNBA, and the theory that he timed his resignation -- a week into the WNBA season -- as a way to ensure his former assistants would take over his titles as head coach (Rick Mahorn) and general manager (Cheryl Reeve). He has to be taken seriously as an NBA head coaching candidate.
  • You know what I'm hankering for? A big long video highlight reel of every great highlight of these playoffs. Anybody seen such a thing?
  • A report from an advance screening of the LeBron James documentary.
  • Florida point guard Nick Calathes has signed a professional contract to play in Greece, but is leaving his name in this year's draft. For some NBA teams, first-round draft picks are a burden, because whoever you take gets a guaranteed contract. If you're short of roster spots or money, selling or trading that pick can make some sense for that reason. Calathes is projected to be a late first-round pick and is a promising point guard with good size. The fact that he doesn't need to be paid immediately could, in this economy, make him extra attractive. So, my bet is that he'll make it into the first round not despite the fact that he's unavailable, but in part because of it.
  • The Celtics noodle with the idea of entering the 2010 free agent max-contract sweepstakes.
  • A video Valentine to Kobe Bryant.
  • Dahntay Jones is a pineapple
  • Royce from Daily Thunder: "Having watched college basketball basically my entire life, it's easy to assume [NBA players] don't [play hard]. It's really one of the biggest complaints college ball lovers have. They don't play hard. They're just standing around. It's all 1-on-1. College offenses run a lot of sets and motion because there isn't the sheer skill. In college, there's really no isolation plays and there's a lot of zone played. So it's easy to assume that college players are playing harder when in reality, there's no difference. And then you've got the NBA 3-point line being further back so the spacing is better giving more opportunity for one-on-one or two-man games. I got the opportunity to sit basically courtside this year at a Thunder game. And let me tell you, those guys were playing freaking hard. People say all you need to watch in an NBA game is the fourth quarter because they don't try for the first three. This is something I'll never say again."

From a Goodwin Sports Management press release:

Candace Parker gave birth to a baby girl today at 11:29am. It is the first child for the WNBA MVP/ROY and husband Shelden Williams of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The baby girl weighed in at 7 pounds, 6 ounces and 20 inches in length.

"Shelden and I are thrilled," said Parker. "This is such a life changing moment for us, we feel blessed to have a healthy and beautiful baby girl."

Parker plans to rejoin the Los Angeles Sparks once she has received clearance from her physician.

The WNBA regular season runs from June 6 to September 13. 

I just looked up several articles about how quickly after childbirth moms can expect to return to exercise. Many suggest that for women who exercise throughout pregnancy, exercise of some kind can be safely resumed within a week or two -- although at reduced levels of exertion.

I'm sure there will be pressure on Parker -- the biggest star the WNBA has had in a long time -- to return as fast as possible, hopefully she'll have the luxury of playing again only when she feels it's right.

The timing might not be perfect for Parker, but it's A-OK for Shelden Williams. My calendar says summer is the perfect time for him to get really good at changing diapers.

Every Team Needs a Kim Perrot

February, 27, 2009

You have probably seen the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. There's a new one by Pat Williams, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen called "Inside Basketball." It has more than a hundred anecdotes from the likes of Michael Jordan, Barack Obama, Chris Paul. Gregg Popovich, Pat Riley, Caron Butler, and many many others.

I have read just about all of it, and dog-eared six or seven that really stood out as great stories.

The publishers, Soul Publishing LLC, have been nice enough to let me reprint one of my favorites. It comes from Van Chancellor, who is now the head women's coach at Louisiana State University.

In 1997, when the WNBA first started, I left my position as the head women's basketball coach at the University of Mississippi to become the head coach of the Houston Comets. As we started putting together our team to play that summer, it was obvious we had an enormous problem -- no point guard.

You can't win in basketball without somebody directing your team. Our strategy was to schedule an open tryout. We brought in sixty-seven players, and sixty-two of them were guards. I will never forget one of the guards, Kim Perrot.

Kim was small, aggressive and feisty. Frankly, I didn't think she was that good and I never seriously considered her for the team. Some of my assistants urged me not to judge her too quickly, and, sure enough, she survived all of the cuts and made our team.

Our first game that season was against the New York Liberty, and Kim was buried on the bench. We lost that game, and our guards didn't play well. I made a decision that day to go with Kim and told her so.

She replied, "Well it's nice to know that you've finally realized that you're a good coach and are going to play me. I'll help you win a championship." And that's exactly what happened in 1997. Even with stars like Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson, we never would have won without Kim.

In all of my years coaching women's basketball, I have never had another player like Kim Perrot. Whenever I would take her out of a practice scrimmage, she would go over to the sidelines and do push-ups. I once beat her ten straight games in dominoes and she insisted that we play until she beat me four in a row.

We went into the 1998 season trying to repeat as champions, and we were down the elimination game against Phoenix. We were in deep trouble when Kim started yelling at her teammates, "We need to buckle down. Listen to Coach; he'll tell us what to do. We can't lose on our home court!" That was just the lift we needed to win our second championship.

Kim had a strong faith in God. We spoke at churches together, and in the off-season we would go do clinics for kids. She was always teasing me. At one clinic she said, "See Coach over there? He didn't believe in me at first. It took a whole year for me to convince him that I was his point guard."

Kim was a great leader; she'd be banged up but would insist on practicing anyway. She told the stars on our team what she expected and they never argued with her. I've never met anybody like her.

Before the next season, I got the shock of my life. Our trainer called and said, "Coach, sit down. I've got some bad news. Kim Perrot has been diagnosed with cancer." I was absolutely floored. I loved her and she loved me, and I've never had a relationship with a player like that before or since.

Kim couldn't participate in training camp, but she still came around to see us. She had wasted away to about eighty-nine pounds, but she was always such an inspiration. During a game that season, she came to the huddle during a time out and whispered in my ear, "Coach, I know this team is driving you crazy, but I love you." She would phone me from time to time and tell me that she loved me. All of this was going on about one month before she died.

Kim's cancer started in her lungs and spread to her brain. She'd always been in perfect health and took great care of herself. Kim was only thirty-two when she died on August 19, 1999. My wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary that same day, and it was surely a bittersweet one. The Houston Comets went on to win our third straight WNBA title that summer, inspired by the memory and spirit of Kim Perrot.

Lessons of Wearing Logos

January, 28, 2009

Yesterday I wrote about wearing the logos of this or that team.

I learned a lot from the comments. For instance, DirtyFrank wrote:

The only sports related piece of clothing that means the world to me is the Lisa Leslie Sparks jersey I bought at Ocean State Job Lot for $3 about five years ago. I get a lot of laughs when I wear it to play pick-up basketball, but it's actually pretty comfortable.

SpudBuchanan8 echoed my story of wearing a team's shirt not because of love of the team, but because the shirt was comfortable, cheap, or had some other meaning:

I have this problem. I went to Steve and Barry's in Madison, WI and bought a shirt. It also happened to be an incredibly comfortable shirt. Regular UW shirt, nice. On my next trip venturing through there I found a deal that was 4 fo $20. So I got some. I wasn't about to get a shirt that says "All Beer Pong Team" or something ridiculous. So I get some respectable college shirts, one LSU, Syracuse, and some more UW ones. Well, now I move to Oregon and if I ever wear an LSU or Syracuse shirt for some reason I get comments all the time asking if I am a fan. I'm not, I like the shirt. Creates very awkward conversations and I have now reverted to wearing the shirts reversed so as to avoid such conversations. 

Ringomon, however, cleaned up with this foundational document on such things:

I think the rule is simple: it's okay to wear logo-wear of bad/mediocre/innocuous teams that you care/don't care about... because no on else cares either.

But you should never wear logo'd wear of famous bandwagon teams unless you are a true fan- and have a reason to be that you can explain:

Red Sox
Redwings (?)

Everyone, the real fans that have a reason to be fans, and the other 90% that hate those teams, will think that you are just a poseur and trying to bandwagon.

If you complain that people take it too seriously, then you don't understand the concept that "things have meaning."

Plus, how hard is it to find a comfortable t-shirt? People always say that like it's some grueling, monumental task trying to find a shirt that's comfortable. They're everywhere, trust me.

But, great as Ringomon's comment was, an e-mail from Jason in New York City really takes the cake. We're all talking about the soft world of removable logos. Jason, he's living the hard reality of a tattooed logo. (He's the one really wearing a logo.) And he makes a strong case for it.

Just wanted to say I've actually got a Jordan Logo tattooed to my right shoulder. Got it in 2003 to commemorate his exit from the sport. Final exit from the sport. I know it's just a game, but there was always something valorous to me in his relentless determination.

I don't know if you ever quite forget the skinny kid holding his shorts at the end of a playoff double over time where he set a scoring record and still lost. That image sort of remains superimposed over all the success that comes later, the kid doing everything in his power to beat a much stronger team overlapping the aging champ using every trick to hold down hungry competitors.Jordan tattoo, courtesy of Jason in NYC

My NYC friends tell stories of Jordan like he's some basketball demon come to deny them title shots year after year. I remember those series differently. I remember MJ getting knocked on his butt over and over again, and getting up for more. I remember being down two nothing in 1993, a sprained wrist that led to poor shooting and a near triple double in a must win game 3. I remember the 54 points that he scored in the followup game. I remember the actual triple double that came the game after that. I remember the strip on Charles Smith, the double clutch over Pat Ewing, and nose to nose with the X-Man.

I guess a basketball player is a strange thing to want to carry forever -- especially a logo of one that is ubiquitously plastered on everything anyway. I never tried to give a reason for it, but I suppose it's a way of holding onto or celebrating something that gave so many hours of joy and really was the inspiration behind a love of the game that otherwise probably wouldn't exist.

UPDATE: Marcin Gortat has a similar tattoo.

Thursday Bullets

January, 8, 2009
  • Caron Butler is Tuff Juice. In some places, writes the DC Sports Bog's Dan Steinberg, Tuff Juice is also a shot of Bacardi 151 mixed with sports drink and grapefruit juice. As Butler maniacally chews on the things, I'm thinking this might be the one shot correctly sucked through a straw. 
  • Celtic fans, now officially freaking out
  • A thought I had watching Marco Belinelli last night: The NBA can be hard on multi-talented young players. Here's what I mean: Belinelli, as a delight of Summer League a couple of years ago, was a guy who could score a dozen different ways. But over time, against NBA defense, I think we have learned that maybe nine or ten of those ways are low enough percentage, against regular season defense, that you'd just about never pick that among the other options on the floor. (A Belinelli virtuoso drive is cool if a summer-leaguer like Nate Funk is plan B. But in the NBA, Corey Maggette, Jamal Crawford, and Andris Biedrins await touches.) When you get to the NBA, you unpack all of your tools. You figure out which are truly quality compared to other NBA players. The other ones? You put them way, throw them away, or replace them through hard work.
  • So, it turns out that Darius Miles' pre-season games with Boston count towards the ten he has to play to get back on Portland's cap. Which means he reportedly only has to play two more games before that happens. (People in Portland are all bent out shape about this, but my feeling is: If you don't want that contract on your books, don't offer it to the player. Just about every team is paying for bad contracts of the past. It would have been nice to be free of it, but if that doesn't happen, so be it.) It also turns out that Portland can re-apply to get his salary off the cap, if it is appropriate at some point in the future. From the CBA: "... if after a player's Salary is excluded from Team Salary in accordance with this Section 4(h), the player plays in ten (10) NBA games in any Season, the excluded Salary for the Salary Cap Year covering such Season and each subsequent Salary Cap Year shall thereupon be included in Team Salary (and if the tenth game played is a playoff game, then the excluded Salary shall be included in Salary retroactively as of the start of the Team's last Regular Season game). After a player's Salary for one (1) or more Salary Cap Years has been included in Team Salary in accordance with this Section 4(h)(4), the player's Team shall be permitted at the appropriate time to re-apply to have the player's Salary (for each Salary Cap Year remaining at the time of the re-application) excluded from Team Salary in accordance with the rules set forth in this Section 4(h)."
  •'s Leonard Steinhorn writes about how playing basketball might inform Barack Obama's political appointments. Really. The idea is that in pickup basketball, you work side -by-side with all different kinds of people, and that's OK. "On the court, we're all equals. In our group, we have some high fliers -- one owns a professional sports team -- yet we all play hard and defer to no one. I've played on courts where CEOs guard inner-city hotshots and members of Congress face office workers, and all that matters is how hard everyone plays and what each person contributes. During breaks, when we all chatter about the game, no one cares how much money you make, how much power you have or what your status is. In basketball, you can't lose your head or throw a tantrum -- the game moves too quickly, and your team will suffer. Cool is the operative word and discipline the successful approach, because a great shot will mean nothing if you don't rush back to cover your guy on defense. You also can't take it personally when someone fouls you hard -- it's a physical game and you just have to get over it. We may be rivals on the court, but we give each other high-fives and don't let it carry over afterward. And who do you want on your side? The smart and selfless players, the hustlers, the ones who study the game, know all the tricks, and understand their opponents' and teammates' strengths and weaknesses. Pure shooters always get your respect, but so do the wise players who never fall for a head fake, always see the open man and know how to get inside the other team's head. It didn't surprise me that the president-elect chose political tough guy Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff. If politics were basketball, Emanuel is exactly the type of player you'd want on your team. He's the guy who dives to the floor for a loose ball, challenges the big guys as he drives to the basket, stands his ground and takes a charge for the good of the team. Yet he always plays fair. Every winning team has a Rahm Emanuel. We hear all the chatter about Obama's creating a team of rivals, much like Abraham Lincoln did. But basketball provides a better context for his choice of strong characters and former competitors. He's simply not threatened by talent or old rivalries, and as a team leader, he wants the best and smartest players on his side. Accustomed to playing on teams, Obama is confident he can mold them into a unit."
  • TrueHoop reader Eric has noticed that LeBron James gets the blessing of sitting for chunks of many fourth quarters while his team coasts to easy victories. And he's wondering ... anyone out there have a good way to compare how much various stars (from this season and previous) have been able to sit out in blowout victories?
  • Brent Barry wrote a poem about the Sonics which is on That, in and of itself, is something.  ("Like a ferry ride to Bremerton or fresh salmon from old Pike Place/A cup of joe while on the go, crossing bridges at a snails pace/But this season there is silence, a reason not to cheer/The balls have all stopped bouncing and the Sonics are not here.") But what really caught my eye was a comment from user colb_osu: "As an Oklahoman, it hurts to see a city full of great fans in pain, such as Seattle. Yes, we wanted an NBA team, but ask just about anyone from Oklahoma City ... we didn't want a team at the expense of Sonic fans. I can't begin to imagine what it would be like if our college teams just took off. There's nothing that us Okies can do to ease your suffering. However, just remember this: Don't hate the general public of Oklahoma. We did not do this to your great city. We do understand you have a right to be upset. It is justified. But please, please, PLEASE, do not direct that hate and anger towards the fans of the Thunder. Direct it towards the ownership groups (current and former), as well as the elected officials in Seattle. We love the Thunder/Sonics. We promise, we'll take good care of them. Best of luck Seattle. I hope you get an NBA team again soon."
  • TrueHoop reader Ken has a question. I think he's serious. "Everyone who has played basketball knows that the quality of the pass you receive affects the probability of making a set shot. Presumably, some refs are better passers than others, so the quality of free throw shooting within a given game might be a function of the refs who are working that game. Hence the question: which refs induce the best foul shooting? the worst?" I assume there is nothing to this --
    every referee pass is an uncontested bunny, and players do ten or fifteen seconds of routine between catch and shot -- but I'd be thrilled to find out I was wholly wrong.
  • NBA players seldom admit to being starstruck by other NBA players. But then there's Jerryd Bayless, who was a magnificently furious addition to Portland's win over the Pistons last night. Ben from BlazersEdge: "Postgame, he admitted that he was taken aback just being on the same court as Allen Iverson, struggling for words to describe facing off against someone he's been watching play professional basketball for more than half of his life. 'It's unbelievable ... you know ... it's just ... when you go against these guys you've been watching your whole life, and you're finally on the court, it's kind of tough not to get like... 'damn, that's AI right there.' 'It's Rasheed on the bench over there.' I mean, you can see him right there!' What was Bayless thinking about while he helped shift the momentum during the third quarter, 'I'm stealing the ball from AI, I was trying not to smile,' laughing at the memory of himself. Still in disbelief after talking about it for a few minutes, he shook his head and repeated himself, 'I mean, that's AI right there.' His wide, giggly smile broadcast his satisfaction."
  • Aussie trash talk, and a guy who can make as many free throws as Steve Nash in a minute.
  • The WNBA announces that Candace Parker is pregnant with her first child (with husband/King Shelden Williams). Parker is the best thing to happen to the WNBA in five years. So, it's worth noting that the news includes this all-important line, from the league's point of view: "Parker will continue to work out in preparation to participate in the 2009 WNBA season."
  • Britt Robson, of Secrets of the City, has some things to say about the Thunder: "Having covered this Minnesota franchise for nearly 20 years, I know disease and dysfunction when I see it, and Oklahoma City is rife with defender's rot, listless with late-stage anemia, comatose from the boomerang bad karma emanating from their wretched ju ju in Seattle, and, flat-out, a ballclub without pride. I love Russell Westbrook, would now take him second (behind Rose and ahead of Mayo) in this current rookie class, but Kevin Durant is almost comically overrated (a poor and thin man's Melo Anthony), Jeff Green is a nasty tease as a negative 'tweener, and coach Scottie Brooks is in way over his head, dyed hair and all."
  • Is Sidney Moncrief leaving the Warriors' bench to coach in China? 
  • Durant, by the way, is one of several players -- Danny Granger, Rajon Rondo, Al Jefferson -- who have to be considered All-Star candidates this year. I'm getting lots of e-mails about these kinds of players, people saying it'll be a travesty of justice if X doesn't make it. My recommendation: Make up your entire roster before saying that. Because the truth is there are more players who are All-Star quality than can be All-Stars. In other words, there will be travesties.
  • UPDATE: More evidence of money-saving paper-shuffles. Waived not three days ago by L.A., Fred Jones is a Clipper once again. The team just announced he has been signed to a 10-day contract.

Tuesday Bullets

October, 14, 2008
  • In the New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell writes of different kinds of genius -- some that work quickly in youth, and others that take time to sort themselves out. Sometimes there are NBA players, I think, (Antonio McDyess and Rasheed Wallace come to mind) who figure out their careers in the same way that Mark Twain would write a novel: "Galenson quotes the literary critic Franklin Rogers on Twain's trial-and-error method: 'His routine procedure seems to have been to start a novel with some structural plan which ordinarily soon proved defective, whereupon he would cast about for a new plot which would overcome the difficulty, rewrite what he had already written, and then push on until some new defect forced him to repeat the process once again.' Twain fiddled and despaired and revised and gave up on 'Huckleberry Finn' so many times that the book took him nearly a decade to complete."
  • Antawn Jamison tells his teammate Oleksiy Pecherov on video that he has had a Russian sandwich, and didn't like it. Pecherov says Jamison has never had one, and has never been to Russia. Jamison, trying to win the argument, says that he has been to Yugoslavia. Round one to Pecherov.
  • A big question of this season is whether or not healthy Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion, Michael Beasley, and Udonis Haslem will be enough to win. Right now, it's not looking promising.
  • The history of basketball sneakers, in about two minutes, from Nelly.
  • Matt from Hardwood Paroxysm on different kinds of NBA fans: "Spurs fans are critical and reserved. Warriors fans are like Tiny Tunes characters. Mavericks fans are like Cowboys fans that need another outlet, that is, insane. Celtics fans and Lakers fans are remarkably alike. Passionate, devoted, self-entitled, and obnoxiously obnoxiously blessed. Meeting a Bucks fans was fascinating. Frank (from BrewHoop) was like most great NBA fans, particularly the ones devoted enough to run blogs. Passionate, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, involved. But to a certain degree, there's a certain sense of reality that sneaks in. A few times when discussing free agency or the viability of Andrew Bogut as a franchise player, he'd mention, 'Well, we're the Bucks.' In a way, this is reflective of what has to change. It's not unique to Milwaukee, the Bucks, or Frank. Charlotte and Memphis face the same issues. But it's something that has to shift for the Bucks. The organization, for its part, seems to be dedicated to the same goal."
  • Magic Johnson, part owner of the Lakers, is drinking the Trail Blazer kool-aid, saying Portland will make the playoffs this year, and make a run at a title in a couple of years.
  • TrueHoop reader Guy e-mails: "After seeing a few plays from [Rudy Fernandez] in the preseason game against the Kings I decided to watch the Olympic final again because all I could actually remember from the game was his dunk on Dwight Howard. I began watching and at the start of the second quarter it hit me: Rudy Fernandez did not play at all in the first quarter. I know the Olympics are long gone and the USA players have finished celebrating, but after seeing his destruction of Team USA after this point it lead me to wonder: What if Rudy Fernandez had played in that 1st quarter and started the game? Would he have given Spain the boost they needed? It may be nothing, but I just wonder how a player of his quality could be on the bench for the first quarter. OF THE OLYMPIC FINAL. Where they are playing for GOLD and keeping the cockiness of USA basketball at bay until their next road to redemption."
  • Scoring more points from the free throw line than the field can be called, I just learned, a Dantley. Adrian Dantley did it many times. And how about Dwyane Wade in his famous ref-friendly 2006 NBA Finals? He must have had a lot of Dantleys, right? Wrong. Not a single one.
  • These are stretches and exercises you can do with a big inflatable ball. What they don't tell you, unfortunately for Eddy Curry, is that really big guys can, apparently, cause those inflatable balls to explode. (Via Slam)
  • Chris Herrington of the Memphis Flyer: "Through the first three pre-season games, rookie O.J. Mayo struggled a little with his shot, going 14-41 from the floor and 2-14 from three-point line, a string of performances that didn't look much like the deadly shooter seen in summer league and again in practice. But he found his stroke tonight. Mayo scored 26 points in 30 minutes on 10-17 shooting and 6-8 from downtown. Not only was every make a jumper, only one of the 17 attempts was from within seven feet of the basket, and it was technically a jumper."
  • A journal from the road, traveling through China with the Bucks. It's a long way to go, and the final destination of all that flying is Yi Jianlian's hometown. Too bad he's not a Buck any more. Two highlights from the layover in Anchorage: They ate hot dogs made of reindeer, which is news if your team mascot is a deer named Bango. And Luc Richard Mbah a Moute got to see snow falling for the first time in his life.
  • Portland-based rapper with Down's Syndrome. He got his nickname, Laz-D, from high-school classmate Salim Stoudamire. (Thanks Benjamin.)
  • Remember when Michael Jordan used to be super skinny? Back in the day, in terrible clothes, he made an amazing chip shot on the golf course.
  • And, remember that skinny Michael Jordan played with George Gervin? The Good Point's Austin Kent recently talked at length with the Ice Man, who is campaigning for people like you and me to get checked for high blood pressure, about his playing days. Kent writes: "... a 1985 trade saw him wrap up his final year with a young Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. 'Michael, I think was a second year guy at that time. That's when I was practicing with him everyday and started seeing that potential and that drive that he had,' Gervin recalls. 'He was unbelievable. We kinda got along, but it was his turn and I knew it. We had some good battles in practice, like the old bull against the new bull, but I knew I was on the downward part of the hill. I knew I had to sacrifice'. Jordan, of course, would succumb to an injury that season, limiting him to just 18 games on the year, 11 in which he came off the bench. From there he could look o
    n as Gervin brought an end to a brilliant tenure in the NBA. 'We were in Dallas and he was sitting on the bench and I scored 35 in the first half. At the end of the game I only had about 40 and he started laughing, saying 'old man, you ran out of gas'. I said [back] 'I was just showing you how it used to be''. Though the pair never dominated the league the way one, looking back, would have hoped, considering Gervin was years removed from his prime and Jordan yet to reach his, the fact that the two coexisted on the same franchise is, if nothing else, one of the best 'what if?' paper combinations of all time."
  • The Onion recently weighed in on the WNBA, with an article called "Breast Cancer Launches WNBA Awareness Month." It begins: "Leading representatives of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation announced Wednesday that the month of October would officially be known as WNBA Awareness Month, and commemorated the occasion by donating $80 million of their funds to promote the early detection and ultimate eradication of the all-female basketball league. Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker of the Komen Foundation was accompanied at the press conference by WNBA survivor Rebecca Lobo, long-suffering WNBA president Donna Orender, and Los Angeles Sparks center Lisa Leslie, who has been battling the league for 11 years. Brinker noted that the WNBA has always been a primary concern for the breast cancer community, and said she is committed to using the full force of her breast cancer organization to rid the nation of the dreadful professional league at its every stage -- from its earliest possible appearance in training camp, to preseason and the playoffs, and even during its more-invasive Finals stage when the league is at its most aggressive."
  • Donte Greene, who plays for the Maloofs who are as invested in Las Vegas as anyone, says he hates Las Vegas. I applaud the honesty.
  • Bud Poliquin of the Syracuse Post-Standard quoting Steve Nash: "I would have loved to have played for Coach Boeheim and for Syracuse. You have to realize that I was under-heralded when I was in high school and not recruited, so to play for Syracuse would have been a dream come true for me. But we didn't get close at all. Nobody with the Orangemen cared or even saw me play."
  • Brent Barry to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "It's depressing that there is no trip to Seattle this year and there is no team in that city. There is a great history and they certainly had some great players there. And now, there is no team left. It's sad."
  • I like this from a point guard. Jason Quick of the Oregonian on how Steve Blake -- who is about to return -- has handled his injury time:  "Blake eschewed the normal place for injured players at the end of the bench and instead sat next to assistants Dean Demopoulos and Joe Prunty. 'I didn't get to run any plays, so the way I'm learning is by watching the guys, and listening to the coaches,' Blake said. 'I'd watch to see where the guards are setting screens, seeing the angles they would take to set screens, and I would listen to Dean, who would turn and make comments to me. And just being up that close, I could hear Coach say things like 'Push it!' ... so I know what types of things he's thinking about.' In fact, McMillan said in the heat of one exhibition game he mistook Blake for an assistant. He turned to him and made a comment about a player, only to do a double-take and notice he said it to Blake."
  • PG-13 venting at the trials and tribulations of being an NBA fan in England.
  • Donald Hunt is a very nice man who writes for the Philadelphia Tribune. He's part of a special project, and e-mails: "The Philadelphia Tribune, the country's oldest African American newspaper is leading a grassroots effort to get NBA leggend Wilt Chamberlain on a commemorative U.S. postage stamp. The Tribune is looking to get 100,000 signatures of support with hopes of Chamberlain getting his postage stamp. The newspaper has a petition on its website where fans can go and sign he document online. The petition will be sent to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee. The CSAC is responsible for selecting the postage stamps. So far, the campaign has received support from NBA commissioner David Stern, Philadelphia 76ers owner Ed Snider, 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski, Miami Heat President Pat Riley, former Golden State Warrior head coach Al Attles, NBA legend Earl Lloyd, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and others. Chmberlain is the only player to score 100 points in a game. He is the only player to average 50 points a game. He played for the Philadelphia Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers. Chamberlain led the 1966-67 76ers to the NBA championship. He also carried the 1971-72 Lakers to the league title. Chamberlain would be the first basketball player to have his photo on a U.S. postage stamp."

A couple of WNBA TrueHoop posts last week inspired a whole bunch of e-mail. The vast majority of them are not from the group of men I was really talking about: Those who are mad the WNBA exists. Many dislike the WNBA for some other, less passionate reasons. (For instance, one asks -- what if the money lost on the WNBA were instead lost on the D-League, which could improve dramatically with slightly higher salaries? Another, who works for an NBA team with a WNBA team of its own attached, says a reasonably good boys high school team could beat the Detroit Shock.)

Four interesting reader viewpoints to follow:

Joseph Treutlein from DraftExpress:

My problem with the WNBA has nothing to do with gender or quality of play. I don't even have a problem with the WNBA in and of itself.

My sole issue with the WNBA is how the NBA continues to foot the bill after 11 years. From all I can tell, the entity has shown no signs of improvement in terms of viability over that time, and it's probably safe to assume it'll never be self-sustaining. Normally, I wouldn't care that the NBA is wasting some money on the side, but when there are avenues to invest that money that could actually provide a benefit for the NBA, that's where I have an issue.

According to Wikipedia (and some other independent articles I found on Google), the NBA subsidizes the WNBA to the tune of approximately $12 million per year to offset their losses. Aside from looking benevolent by helping a failing league and scoring some sympathy points, there really isn't any benefit to the NBA from the money they're putting into the WNBA, and after 11 years and little improvement, I don't think there's ever going to be a benefit to come of this relationship.

Once again, I normally wouldn't care that the NBA is wasting some money on the side, but what if that money was invested in a league that the NBA did actually have a vested interest in? What if it was invested in a league that could provide significant short-term and long-term benefits to the NBA? Well, it just so happens there is a league that fulfills those requirements. Why not give that money to the D-League instead?

Just a handful of posts below your post on the WNBA, you talked about the financial situation of the D-League, namely how top players in the DLeague make up to 30k per season + benefits and per diem. This isn't peanuts by any means, but comparatively to the money available overseas, it's obvious why many top college players choose to go that route instead.

If you took the roughly $12million the NBA puts into the WNBA each season and devoted all that money solely to player salaries in the DLeague, you'd see an increase in salary by 250% or more.

16 teams * 10 players = 160 players.
$12million / 160 = $75,000.

Add that to every salary in the D-League, and you now have a top salary of $105,000 per season + benefits and per diem. That, along with the ability to stay at home, will make the D-League a much more viable option for top college players that are getting offers overseas, especially with the NBA just a phone call away at all times.

The money could also be split up into other areas for the D-League, however it'd work best to improve the league's viability. Part of that money could go into subsidizing more teams, pushing the D-League closer to a full-fledged minor league, with each NBA team having their own counterpart to run personally as they see fit.

As for the D-League and how its continued improvement can benefit the NBA in the short and long term, I don't think I need to really go into that. I'm sure that's been sufficiently covered on your blog and elsewhere.

From a business perspective, this really seems like common sense to me. It's quite clear where the money is better invested, for a multitude of different reasons. The NBA should already be in serious discussions about this possibility. Obviously the NBA couldn't just cut the WNBA off tomorrow, but setting up a timetable and giving sufficient notice that in a few years, the funding would instead be going to the D-League is more than fair in my opinion.

I really hope for the sake of the D-League, the NBA, and American basketball in general, that this happens sometime in the not-so-distant future.

Anonymous writes:

I work for an NBA team. The company that runs this NBA team is also in charge of a WNBA team. Before I took this job, I, too, hated the WNBA, mostly for gender reasons. After being forced to watch the WNBA, I learned to drop my gender bias, but, at the same time, developed a more sensible argument against the WNBA.

The talent level is low. I look at basketball basically on the levels of: Youth, High School, College, Minor League, and Professional. Obviously there are sublevels to all of those categories, but those are the basic five. The level of talent in the WNBA, to me, is not at the "professional" level that it promises.

I attended one of the practices for our WNBA team, and they were scrimmaging against a group of my fellow co-workers (all male) that had been thrown together that day. I have played ball with all of the men on that court, and my talent level is roughly even to theirs. The scrimmage at this practice was competitive, and very even (this was the practice, by the way, that took place before the team's first playoff game, so the intensity and focus levels were high). I am no professional basketball player. In fact, none of the guys on that court even played college basketball.

That is why I don't like the WNBA. It is truly not worth watching, from a basketball standpoint, when there is essentially year-long basketball on TV now (NBA, NCAA, FIBA, Summer Leagues, etc.). I firmy believe that a well-coached men's high school basketball team (and I'm not referring to Oak Hill, but a decently talented high school team with a few college level prospects) could beat the WNBA champion Detroit Shock 5 times out of 10.

Recap: It's not the gender, it's the talent. They just aren't good enough yet. I say yet, because I recognize the progress they've made. The NBA didn't start with the greatest talent either, and I'm sure the WNBA will eventually evolve into a watchable product. 

TrueHoop reader Dustin on why the WNBA makes some men mad:

It is men being stubborn, controlling and yes, maybe a little scared. The problem, in specific, is that men don't want women to go on living their lives thinking the WNBA is comparable to the NBA. Seriously, if one of those promos started out with Candace Parker saying "We know we aren't the NBA, but check us out ..." how many more men would pay attention to the commercial? If women in our society as a whole understood and recognized that men will never treat the WNBA the same as the NBA, how different would men respond when asked what they thought of the league? The attitude is completely a frame of mind that guys have developed because we don't want anything to take away from the sport we love, NBA basketball, and we want the focus of American fans and media to remain on that sport. It's not about being threatened as a man, it's about being threatened as a fan.

TrueHoop reader Keith:

I have only one issue about the WNBA -- it's a violation of the Civil Rights Amendment. Specifically, it uses sex discrimination in employment. Males are not allowed to compete for jobs in the WNBA. Of course, I'm also appalled by the drafts of all sports leagues, and so forth; but you should be aware that there is one substantial philosophical objection to the very legality of the WNBA.

On Hating the WNBA

October, 10, 2008


Some of you are mad already. I know it's true, because just those four letters is all it takes.

What's that about?

I have no idea. (But that doesn't mean I can't write a long blog post about it!)

A day ago, TrueHoop had a post about the WNBA. A reader named Sarah was nice enough to provide a list of "the top ten reasons that NBA fans are dumb for not caring about the WNBA."

Then there were ten things that, to her, were great about the WNBA.

Sarah had e-mailed me earlier in the week to point out that I had not mentioned one word of the WNBA finals. As someone who has enjoyed watching WNBA basketball in the past -- John Wooden has called women's basketball some of the best played in the world -- I knew I had probably missed something good. 

So I asked her if she could come up with a list of the ten reasons people like me were dumb not to watch.

The point of all that, of course, was not to tell people they were idiots for being like me. That word "dumb" in the title was really just a tool to elicit from an actual WNBA fan a list of things that make them passionate about the sport.

If I were in a pub in Manchester with a load of drunk ManU fans, I might ask one of them to give me the ten reasons that Americans are dumb not to love "football."

I guarantee that would be a fascinating list. And if I posted it on TrueHoop, I similarly guarantee that I wouldn't get a whole bunch of cranky e-mails about how NBA fans don't need to be preached to by some prick in Manchester who thinks he's morally superior.

But the topic was the WNBA. So I did get those e-mails.

And I knew I would, because just about any post, on any NBA blog, that ever goes into any serious discussion of the WNBA ends up with some people in the comments talking a whole bunch of trash about how much the WNBA sucks.

Some people, men, mostly, just hate the WNBA.

It comes out in all kinds of different ways. For instance, commenters will claim (Basketbawful nabbed one -- good going!) that they, the commenters, are better players than the women who play in the WNBA.

They will fret about the WNBA not being a real business, because it loses money. The Grizzlies lose money. My local coffee shop loses money. (I know, because it closed for good yesterday, without much warning, which is probably why I'm in a bad mood.)

They will point out ways that it is not as good as the NBA. But that's true of the D-League, or the NCAA, too. And the D-League and NCAA don't get people all angry.

Let's step back a second. All you who hate the WNBA, please tell me where you get off the bus:

  • Basketball is not a males-only sport.
  • Females play basketball.
  • Some females play basketball really well.
  • Many of the best women players in the world play against each other, in matching uniforms.
  • The NBA is one of several international organizations that promotes such contests. 
  • There are people like Sarah who are passionate about it.

I just don't see what there is to be scared or angry about here. There are people playing a sport, and people cheering for that sport. More power to you.

And yet, some people out there feel threatened, which I hope won't last.

No one is seriously telling you that you have to watch the WNBA. You know how I know that? It's impossible. In a free country with more TV screens than humans, how in the hell would someone make you watch a sport you don't want to watch?

I'm certainly not going to yell at you for not watching. I just told you I don't watch either.

How many sports leagues are there in the world? If you count up every sport, at every level, it must be at least in six figures. And I don't follow any of them closely, but one. (Oh, I love all kinds of sports. I'll happily attend any sporting event, and when I get there I don't really want to talk too much about business or what you had for lunch or whatever ... I'm into it!)

My best guess is that there are a lot of "gender issues" that are attached, like sticky notes, to the WNBA. Everyone who has ever been overzealous or in your face about women's rights is somehow echoing in this brand. That whole angry vengeful women thing ... it's hard for a lot of men to deal with.

I made a mistake, in my post, of triggering that by including talk of "losing the moral high ground." That prompted various serious responses. But it was really just a joke -- a way to simultaneously poke fun at myself for never writing about the WNBA even as I publish a post about how great it is, and for Basketbawful's Evil Ted for being the 2,000,000th person to say, he he, that he'd watch the WNBA more if the women were, essentially, more naked. (And while we're at it, I think the staff in my local hospital should look like the people on Grey's Anatomy.)

There was nothing in my post about people being morally superior because they watch WNBA basketball, though. And there needn't be. Watch it if you want. Don't watch it if you don't. 

Whichever way, though, please, don't be mad. Life's too short.

On Monday, I linked to a post about how little respect the WNBA Finals were getting. In one paper, the tiny mention of their Finals was shoehorned next to ads for massages and nude women. (That blog lost the moral high ground, perhaps, when it later called for WNBA games to be played in skin-tight outfits for the amusement of lusty fans.)

I lost the moral high ground, however, when the WNBA Finals came and went, and I did not write one lousy word them.

I have nothing against the WNBA, and have thoroughly enjoyed watching many games in the past. I have profiled several WNBA players for magazines, and have even been to their All-Star Game.

But the stark truth is that this year I didn't watch any WNBA, and knew next to nothing about it. 

Making fun of some paper for dissing the WNBA, while effectively dissing the WNBA?

TrueHoop reader Sarah stepped up to the plate and sent me the e-mail I knew I'd get, telling me that I really ought to have covered the WNBA Finals at least a little. 

She was nice enough to agree to my request to write up the top ten reasons why we are idiots for not watching WNBA games. She writes:

10 Reasons that NBA fans are dumb for not caring about the WNBA (and this year's Finals in particular)

1. Detroit managed to almost completely shut down San Antonio team that hadn't lost to an eastern conference team all season (and pre-season) long. This has not even come close to happening in the NBA. I don't care about disparities in season length. It's impressive.

2. Not only did Detroit beat the Silver Stars, they swept -- something that had never been done in the history of the league.

3. The first two of those games were in San Antonio. The final of the three games wasn't even on their home court at the Palace of Auburn Hills, it was at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. Not one real home game, but they won every time.

4. Alexis Hornbuckle became the first player to win both an NCAA and WNBA championship in the same year.

5. Taj McWilliams-Franklin is going to be 38 years old this month. She had never won a ring in her 10 years in the league, but this year she was the key to the Shock's success. Make no mistake, Katie Smith may have been the Finals MVP, but without the addition of McWilliams-Franklin during the Olympic break, they would have been out in the first round.

6. The WNBA is a very physically tough game and the athletes play through pain in a way that is may not be smart but is certainly exciting:

  • In the game between L.A. and Detroit on July 20th, it has been widely misreported that Cheryl Ford tore her ACL in the brawl. In fact, she tore it coming down from a rebound earlier in the game and played on it for a quarter before trying to break up the brawl, when it became impossible to stand from the pain.
  • In the first round of the playoffs this year, Ebony Hoffman linked both arms with Plenette Pierson as they were boxing out, and then flipped Pierson over her back as though she suddenly thought she was a pro-wrestler. Pierson ended up with a dislocated shoulder and torn labrum (which, after talking to my anatomy professor father, I can tell you probably means mind-numbing agony). After sitting out a couple of games, she played through the extreme discomfort and helped them win. There were times I thought she was going to throw up because of the pain that she was in, but she wouldn't stop playing. This is her right after being flipped.
  • There are other stories too, like Alana Beard being a 2007 All Star, even when she was playing all season with a shoulder in need of surgery, or, of course, Chastity Melvin's eye popping out last year.

7. Due almost entirely to the fact that the women get paid significantly less than the men, the egos are substantially smaller in the WNBA than in the NBA. It's really refreshing.

8. It's basketball during the summer. Seriously, what basketball fan isn't happy to have professional-level games almost all year long?

9. The way I understand it, for some fans women's college hoops are OK to follow, women's Olympic hoops are good, but women's professional hoops are somehow not cool? I call a really ugly bias against female achievement. I won't use the six-letter word that starts with an "s" and ends with an "ism," but I also won't swear that it doesn't apply.

10. Basketball is basketball. If you don't like this, you don't like basketball.

TrueHoop reader Ritchie has been thinking, and e-mails:

I'm not sure what the rules say about this but can we possibly see something play out where an NBA All-Star will don the uniform of a different country a la Becky Hammon of the WNBA?

I'm thinking the Chinese team desperately needs a guard, and wouldn't it be compelling to see Gilbert Arenas play for them? Arenas can stick it to U.S. Basketball for sending him home and imagine the $$$ and marketing possibilities for him if the Chinese team starts winning games.

There are only 12 roster spots on the U.S. team and, as the Beijing Olympics has shown, these future international tournaments will be HUGE!!!! 

If Arenas ends up doing this, and making tons of money, I think it'd only be fair for Arenas to name the grotto after Ritchie.

Thursday Bullets

September, 4, 2008
  • Before too long, I know I'm going to have to guess at which team will win the NBA title. And when I do that, I'm going to have to really stare into my soul and wonder: Do I believe in New Orleans? That team was magnificent last year, and ought to be getting better. Hard to see them losing a lot. Ryan Schwan of Hornets247 used some guesses at playing time, and some Wages of Wins numbers last year to make a pretty darned accurate -- if unlikely at the time -- prediction of 50 wins. Using the same technique this year, the numbers suggest 61 wins. One big worry he has: "[David] West is actually my biggest worry for an injury risk, not Peja. West has alternated good years with injury-plagued ones, and his injuries are notoriously slow to heal. Over his five seasons, he's averaged only 61 games."
  • TrueHoop reader Brendan e-mails: "When I first saw the Oklahoma City Thunder logo, I thought it reminded me of something, then I realized, it looks just like the logo for the WNBA's New York Liberty. The Shape of the logo and the color scheme, the main difference being the statue of liberty holding a basketball torch. Wouldn't the owners want to pick a more original color combination at least? Being a Knicks fan, it almost looks like they'll be using close to the same colors."
  • Author Sherman Alexie e-mails: "I am having fantasies that I pre-copyrighted about 10 or 12 possible OK City mascots ... and Thunder would have been on the list ... and sat back while the OK City guys had to approach me to get the copyright. And I would have scheduled a press conference to talk about honesty and honor and then gave them the copyright for free ..."
  • The Warriors' mascot, who is featured in the team's official logo, is still called Thunder and nobody at the NBA seems to think that is weird. Also, this same report includes word that if the Warriors were to change their official logo, they'd have to pay the NBA a half-million dollars. For what? Instead they introduced a secondary logo they use all the time instead.
  • Ron Artest's rocket hair.
  • Fake tanning with Spencer Hawes.
  • Andrew Bynum has his eyes on the 2012 Olympics.
  • Jamaal Tinsley still in limbo.
  • Slow news day: Wondering why the Cavaliers bought an ad honoring LeBron James' gold medal. My thoughts: To be nice. To make sure everybody knows they do not dislike his commitment to the national team. And maybe to associate the Cavaliers brand a little bit with that gold medal.
  • Channing Frye is getting lean with whole wheat English muffins.
  • Jamal Crawford, blogging a litle on Newsday's website: "I HONESTLY feel like I can make every shot that I take. You have to understand that's how I feel when I play. Some nights it happens but a lot of times it doesn't. And I believe this along with WINNING is the difference in me being a good player and a great player. I'm going to continue to get better at it...I know you're probably thinking, 'he's in his ninth year, if it hasn't happened already, it won't.' There's some truth to that, but to me, I don't believe it. Like I said I'm going on my ninth coach in nine years and each had a different philosophy on how they wanted to use me. But through it all I've gotten better each year I've been in the league. And the best is still yet to come ..."
  • The Spurs and Pistons topped the league in deep rotations last year, according to something called the Herfindahl index. There may be a test later, so pay attention.
  • Shawn Kemp's big game in Italy did not go so well.

Thursday Bullets

August, 28, 2008
  • Elena Della Donne, one of the finest female basketball players in the county, shocked everyone by announcing that she would be giving up the game before even playing a single college game. An in-depth feature story about her from the SLAM archives, and links to the latest news.
  • A little graph that might be hard for Stephon Marbury and Zach Randolph to appreciate.
  • Jason Friedman for talks to Chuck Hayes who explains something any parent understands -- doing nothing but parenting is an all-consuming job. Hayes' son is 16 months' old: "My son has no kind of body control at all. He runs into the wall while he's looking at it. He'll fall over his own shoes or his toys and come down and hit his head on something. You just gotta watch him, so I've just been a father this whole summer."
  • Steve Campbell of the Houston Chronicle: "To Artest's detractors, his name on the back of the jersey will always be a warning label. Rockets owner Leslie Alexander suggests that Artest is ready, at 28, to change his erratic ways for the better. [Houston GM Daryl] Morey, for his part, isn't sure Artest has to change in any meaningful way to fit in with the Rockets. Adelman, after all, coached Artest for the final 40 games of the 2005-06 season and signed off on the trade. 'The Ron that Rick had in Sacramento and we'd do the trade just for that Ron,' Morey said."
  • More on Lindsey Hunter's troublesome mortgage program.
  • The psychological weight of being Yao Ming -- having failed to win a medal in the contest for which, in his words, he has been training almost his entire life.
  • If there is an Olympic gold for making pie charts, this guy should win.
  • They say the truth hurts. When Jason Maxiell tells the truth, it doesn't hurt all that much. Unless you're his fiancee.
  • The New Yorker's Anthony Lane has a second long and funny report from Beijing, that concludes like this: "'The Olympic victor, I said, is deemed happy in receiving a part only of the blessedness which is secured to our citizens, who have won a more glorious victory and have a more complete maintenance at the public cost. For the victory which they have won is the salvation of the whole State.' Thus Socrates says to Glaucon, in the fifth book of the Republic. Plato, one of the great wrestling philosophers, could be describing the official Chinese attitude to these Games, wherein the individual is swallowed up by the team performance of a nation. On the other hand, the one aspect of victory that Plato could not have foreseen is the television camera, which, in its sentimental aggression, has made the masses anything but faceless. Does our behavior change when we find ourselves being watched? I looked at the badminton winner, Zhang Ning, when she stood to receive her medal; as the tears fell, the camera crept in close. That focus, like the double air-punch-or, indeed, like the screams of the fabulous fencer Ni Hong, who celebrated almost every hit with an uninhibited yowl, crouching down and going, 'Yeaah! Yeaah! Yeaah!' -- is a pure invention of the wicked West, plundered by China for its own state-sponsored highs. Ni, at such moments, seemed less Chinese than any Chinese person I have ever seen; she looked, if anything, like a Beatles groupie in the final number of 'A Hard Day's Night.' China has taken the gamble of seeking to make people rich before it has made them free. By the standards of the Enlightenment, that is either an illusion or a cruel con, though a free marketeer might argue that the liberties bestowed by trade and consumption-the strange half-freedom of the television commercial, for example, which enslaves us even as it promises the wealth of the world-are not to be sniffed at, and may, indeed, be what most of us ponder and pursue. (We shouldn't worry more about the price of gas than about human rights in China, but we do.) As I dined, one day, on a Big Mac in a thunderstorm, seeking and failing to find refuge in a packed McDonald's beside the Olympic Green subway station, I heard the Olympic theme song, playing on a tape loop inside, and watched a Chinese teen-ager in the doorway. She sucked on her milkshake and then sang along, swaying; she was, at once, everything that the capitalist corporation could hope for, and everything that the Communist Party had planned. I tried to talk to her, but she spoke no English; besides, what young person wants to be asked if he or she feels free? What kind of question is that? I thought of the sign I had seen on the first full day of the Games, in the Forbidden City, as I headed back from the cycling. 'Hall of Earthly Tranquillity,' it read, and then, at the bottom, in smaller letters, 'Made Possible by the American Express Company.' One world. One dream."
  • Team USA eating in a gas station.

Thursday Bullets

July, 24, 2008
  • Lengthy new video interview with LeBron James in which he guarantees U.S. victory in Beijing.
  • Carl Landry's agent threatens to "go Euro" too.
  • TrueHoop reader Matt e-mails: "I think you should let everybody know that my NBA fanhood is open for business. After the events that took place on Wednesday, I can no longer call myself an Atlanta Hawks fan. If Hawks management doesn't care about me, why should I care about them? I'm not going to live my life depressed. I don't want to be in the draft lottery nine more years, in a row. I'm tired of always being disappointed, frustrated, and dumbfounded by management's decisions. So, here I am America (not Greece)! I want to be a fan of a NBA team that cares about it's players, coaches and fans."
  • Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman will play in the WNBA at 50. That reminds me of this cartoon.
  • David Berri of the Wages of Wins comments on some coverage of the Josh Childress move and adds: "The NBA's collective bargaining agreement has rules that confer monopsonistic power to teams. What does this mean? A monopoly is a single seller of a good. A monopsony is a single buyer. When the population of buyers or sellers in a market is restricted, market power tends to get transferred to the smaller population. In the case of the NBA, Childress had trouble finding another buyer for his services in the NBA. This is probably because other NBA teams figured the Hawks would match an offer for Childress, and hence it was not be worth the effort to open negotiations. When offers are restricted, monopsonistic power develops and the buyer can make the purchase with less money. And it's important to note, that is the purpose of these rules. The NBA limits the free market for a player's services to transfer money from players to teams. It's not about competitive balance. Of course all this will only work if you can maintain monopsonistic power. What Childress has demonstrated is that European basketball teams -- who are not part of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement - are potential buyers of top basketball talent. With European teams entering the market, the NBA's ability to exploit (i.e. pay workers less than the revenue the worker generates) professional basketball players is mitigated. And this means the NBA is going to have to either a. live with players like Childress emigrating to the Europe. b. devise new rules so that NBA teams can pay wages that are closer to what the player is worth."
  • A decade and a half after leaving the NBA early for the NBA, Corie Blount gets his college degree from the University of Cincinnati. Talia Bargil writes about the event for the Legends of Basketball website: "A 39-year-old Blount -- graduation cap and gown in tow -- made the symbolic graduation walk across the stage June 14, 2008, as he clinched another meaningful victory ... earning his college diploma. 'I sacrificed a lot for that piece of paper,' said Blount, whose degree in criminal justice came from the University of Cincinnati. 'My last semester I had all A's and B's, and I had never done that before in my entire life!' A husband and father of five, Blount graduated in front of his family, friends and mentors. Esteemed guests included former U.C. Basketball Coach Bob Huggins, and NBA Hall of Famer, Oscar Robertson, who earned a bachelor of business administration degree from the University in 1960."
  • For the low price of $1.75 and an empty beer bottle, Rod Benson can help you strike up conversation in a singles bar. I'm quite sure this would also impress four-year-olds, which is something I spend a lot of time trying to do.
  • Tomorrow, in a friendly warm-up to the Olympics, Team USA will face Canada and Carl English, a sweet shooter with a terribly sad family story.
  • We talk a lot about new breed basketball statistics on this site, but when we do, what the hell are we actually talking about? Take a few minutes and read this nice little primer, with links to other nice little primers.
  • Chris Mullin floats the idea that if Golden State had offered Baron Davis the same contract he got from the Clippers, Davis might not have taken it.
  • The Kings reportedly sign Bobby Brown, a point guard who can certainly shoot. Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty, noting that Brown was expected to sign in Europe, writes: "Kings > Europe > Hawks."
  • The first place I have seen it suggested that Robin Lopez may one day be seen as a better professional player than his twin brother Brook.
  • All discussion of credentialing NBA bloggers ought to now include reference to this BlazersEdge post.