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Thursday, February 21, 2008
Updated: March 3, 1:38 PM ET
The Links (and Trade Machine comments)

By Bill Simmons
Page 2

Before we tackle this week's links, I wanted to clear up some lingering questions and issues from last week's mailbag and Wednesday's Trade Machine blog.

Issue No. 1: For the question about the Gordie Howe Hat Trick, I wrote that it was unfair how "the only athletes who ever got something named after them were Gordie, Tommy John, Larry Bird, Dick Fosbury and somebody else that I'm probably missing."

Well, that "somebody" turned out to be seven people, including Johnny Pesky (the Pesky Pole), Babe Ruth ("The House That Ruth Built"), Roy Williams (the Roy Williams Horse Collar Penalty), Allan Houston (the Allan Houston Rule), Mario Mendoza (the Mendoza Line), Doyle Brunson (any winning poker hand that's a 10-2 is called "the Doyle Brunson") and Rob Ray (the Rob Ray Rule where you can't pull off your own jersey in a hockey fight). Technically, you could also count Lou Gehrig (Lou Gehrig's Disease), although I was gearing my answer more around sports-related terms.

Issue No. 2: For some reason, the topic of historic pool parties generated a ton of e-mails. (Note: I put Jose Canseco's 1998 pool party from the Clemens hearing on par with Dirk Diggler's first pool party at Jack Horner's house as the two pool parties that I would have wanted to attend over any other.) Well, the readers have demanded that two more movie-related pool parties get thrown into the mix: The first pool party in "Anchorman" when Ron Burgundy meets Veronica Corningstone; and the pool party in "Almost Famous" when Russell Hammond makes the "I am a golden god!" jump into the pool. You're right, those needed to be in there. I also had a few readers suggest the Phoebe Cates/Judge Reinhold scene in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," but that wasn't a party, and besides, why would you have wanted to be there when Judge Reinhold was defiling himself in the bathroom? I vote no on that one.

Issue No. 3: The Mount Rapmore section generated a ton of feedback, and I have to agree with the readers -- I screwed it up by straying from the original question and concentrating on "impact" versus "influence," and besides, sticking Jay-Z on there just because he earned the most money was a stupid idea. To tell you the truth, I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about that question and probably should have devoted more energy to figuring it out since it's such a cool concept.

The more I thought about it, there are three legitimate obstacles with the original question. First, for Mount Rapmore to look like Mount Rushmore, you can only have individual faces up there, which rules out the Beasties, Public Enemy and Run DMC. (Note: Maybe we could have two Mount Rapmores, one for individuals and one for groups.) Second, I ignored Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin with my initial answer because they weren't rappers, but there was enough of a groundswell to include them because of the "influence" card that they're now in the mix. (At gunpoint, I'd go with Simmons over Rubin even though they co-founded Def Jam, simply because Rubin left Def Jam in 1988 and dabbled in non-hip-hop acts.) Third, the phrase "influence" is nearly impossible to define -- does this mean "influencing how the genre turned into what it was" or "influencing the most people to listen to and love rap?" If you're gearing it towards the second question, you have to include two or three guys from post-1992 because that's when rap really took off.

Anyway, I decided that Mount Rapmore has to reflect both questions. Tupac stays because he's Tupac -- he's the Babe Ruth or Abe Lincoln of the mountain. Dr. Dre stays because of his NWA roots and because he brought the West Coast rap scene mainstream, discovered Snoop, Eminem and the Dogg Pound and hit the jackpot with "The Chronic," which pushed the rap industry to another level. Jay-Z gets bumped for Simmons because we need one visionary/entrepreneur on there and Simmons is nearly as wealthy as Jay-Z, anyway. And for the fourth spot, with apologies to Biggie and Eminem, we probably need a second guy from the '80s to satisfy the "influencing how the genre turned into what it was" question ... which means we have to go with Rakim because of his influence on hip-hop and his creativity with rhyming lyrics. Of all the rappers from the mid-'80s, he had the most quantifiable creative impact. So he's in.

(One interesting e-mail from someone demanding that Biggie and 2Pac both stay up there, courtesy of Alex in New York: "I love the concept of Mount Rapmore, but the fourth person HAS to be Biggie. Remember, the parameters set were not just the quality of the rapper (which Biggie wins, anyway) but for the social importance/influence on the industry. The Biggy/Tupac feud galvanized the rap community and developed into the East versus West rap war It put rap in the front of everyone's consciousness, regardless of color. It was the rap equivalent of the McGwire-Sosa home run race -- to those who were already fans, it was a great moment in baseball history, but it's real social significance, however, comes from the fact that it converted casual fans into avid fans. This holds true for the Biggie/Tupac feud -- it forced people who were previously uninterested to listen up and take a side and ramped up the interest of the casual fan, creating an entire generation of people with musically diverse interests. I'm hardpressed to think of a rapper who has had a more impressive affect on the industry than that.")

Issue No. 4: Looks like the Raptors fans have a new rival for the title "Most irrationally devoted fans in the NBA." You wouldn't believe the e-mails we received after suggesting that Portland could turn LaMarcus Aldridge, a future No. 1 and Rudy Fernandez into Mike Conley Jr. (only the best point guard in last year's draft and a future All-Star) and Mike Miller (along with Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis, one of the three best shooting forwards in the league). What was I thinking???? Geez, I didn't realize that Aldridge was headed to the Hall of Fame when he's a jump-shooting power forward who gets a rebound every five minutes, shoots three free throws a game and is already carrying 240 pounds when he's 22 years old. And how could I underestimate Fernandez when he can't get bought out for two years and he's lighting up the same league in which Marc Gasol is considered the No. 1 big man? Look out Chris Paul, he's coming for you!

In all seriousness, I totally understand how fans can get attached to their own players -- during last year's depressing Celtics season, I wrote that I wouldn't trade Al Jefferson straight up for Dwight Howard or Kevin Garnett -- and if I were Portland, I wouldn't trade anyone right now because they have a group of guys that truly likes each other. But the whole point of that Trade Machine blog was to come up with trades that COULD work for both sides. If Portland could get Conley and Miller without giving up Greg Oden or Brandon Roy, I don't see how they wouldn't investigate that one. Fernandez isn't a sure thing by any means. In my fake deal, they gave up a No. 1 in 2008 (probably in the 12-14 range) and got back a No. 2 from Memphis (probably in the 31-33 range), so they only dropped 20 sports in a draft that's weak anyway, and besides, they buy a first-rounder every draft now. So look at the deal logically -- yeah, the swap of picks is a little much, but the only way you're getting Conley and Miller AND dumping Raef LaFrentz's contract on a GM who just got raked through the coals is by giving up some legitimate assets. You can say you wouldn't do it, but you can't say it was a lopsided trade.

One more thing on Aldridge: If you're playing 35 minutes a night, averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds and not getting to the line, and you're supposed to be a power forward, I hate to break it to you, but you're not indispensable. You're just not. What's the ceiling for a guy who can't rebound or get to the line? Twenty points and 8 rebounds a night? Congratulations, you're the new Charles Smith! Again, he's a good player and a good character guy, and he's even a good fit with a healthy Oden because he can hang out near the foul line, but as I wrote in the piece, you have to give up something to get something. So that's why I made up that trade.

(My favorite e-mail ripping the fake trade, courtesy of Nate in Vancouver: "I'm sorry, but there is absolutely NO way the Blazers trade away Aldridge and Rudy. You're severely underestimating Aldridge's value to this team. He averaged 19 and 8 for the first month of the season. Then teams started realizing 'Hey, there's no Greg Oden and this guy's legit, we should probably double-team him,' and his numbers have been dipping ever since. The addition of Oden next year won't make him expendable, it'll practically guarantee a breakout year for him. As for Rudy, no one really knows exactly what to expect for next year, but his stock certainly hasn't dropped any. It would seem as though the plan is to slide Roy over to the point and put Rudy in at SG. I'm telling you, a foundation of Roy, Fernandez, Aldridge and Oden will be interesting. Quite honestly, I'm not sure Pritchard trades LA and Rudy for anything short of LeBron. They are that good.")

Issue No. 5: The Knicks fans were curious to know if I would have made the Vince Carter/Jermaine O'Neal trades that were suggested in the Trade Machine blog. The answer: Of course not! I was just coming up with two trades that I thought the Knicks would potentially make -- I even wrote in the Indiana portion of the O'Neal trade that O'Neal looks to me like a guy on the downside, and I'd never trade David Lee in a million years simply for the fact that he's the only Knick that their fans like. I have been writing this for two years and I will write it again -- the only goal for the Knicks over the next three years should be to set themselves up for a Godfather offer for LeBron, which means they have to carve out a significant amount of cap space for the summer of 2010. In fact, when the next Knicks GM takes over, all he has to do is say, "Folks, I will only make you two promises -- I'm not trading David Lee, and we will be $20 million under the cap heading into the summer of 2010," and honestly, that's all the Knicks fans would need to hear.

But that's the unfortunate thing about the Knicks: They don't think logically, and they're always thinking in the "now," and they're always thinking like a fantasy team instead of an NBA team ... so that's why I came up with those O'Neal/Carter deals, because those are precisely the type of trades they've been making since the mid-'70s. The Knicks trade for guys four years after you'd want them. That's what they do.

Issue No. 6: The Raptor Truthers are trying to argue that their beloved Toronto team has been throwing out a whitewash all season: Jose Calderon, Rasho Nesterovic, Jason Kapono, Andrea Bargnani and Carlos Delfino. Let's make this clear once and for all -- foreigners don't count for a whitesash. You have to have five American white guys. It's not negotiable.

Issue No. 7: One last thought off Monday's New Orleans column: If you didn't believe me that the NBA hasn't been this entertaining and competitive since the '92-'93 season, I hope you stumbled across the Suns-Lakers and Warriors-Celtics games Wednesday night. Two out-and-out classics. I haven't enjoyed a night of regular-season basketball like that in a long time, even if Doc Rivers ruined it by not putting James Posey on Baron Davis on the final play. When do you think we'll figure out the whole "put a bigger guy on a jump-shooting guard on the final play when you know the jump-shooting guard is shooting a jump shot, so at the very least, you make him shoot over a taller guy with a longer reach" strategy? April? May? Aaaaaaaaaaaargh. As much as I love watching the Celtics this season, I haven't seen anything to change my opinion that we're losing to LeBron in Round 2 in one of those series where we lose four games by a total of seven points. Kill me now.

All right, onto the Links ...

• Back in 2002, I wrote a running diary of Fox's remarkably disturbing "Celebrity Boxing II" telecast. Well, thanks to Erik in Toronto he alerts us that two of those fights have finally made their way on to YouTube: Olga Korbut-Darva Conger and Screech-Horshack (broken into three parts!). That's right, you finally get to hear Boom Boom Mancini call Ron Palillo "Ron Horshack"! I'm happy for you.

• You have to love Pedro Martinez for the "I dominated (the steroids) era and I did it clean, I can stand by my numbers and I can be proud of them" quote. He couldn't be more right. If anything, those numbers seem from '97 to '02 seem twice as incredible when you consider the players were juiced and the balls were juiced. Pedro should get a reverse asterisk for those years.

• In last week's links, I wondered why they didn't make the "winning" Super Bowl apparel available for teams that lose. According to this piece, the NFL donates everything to WorldVision, which then donates the stuff to third-world countries. So there you go. Of course, this also led to the Stomach Punch E-Mail of the Week, courtesy of Greg in Indiana: "Just wanted to send along some photos of some Pats fans celebrating in their brand new T-shirts. Enjoy."

• Hey, did you know that MTV is producing a "Real World" awards show to celebrate the 20th season? And that you can vote on each award?

• Speaking of the "Real World," George in Chicago has a fantastic YouTube request: "When my roommate and I saw that Adam from 'Real World Paris' was on the Challenge this year, we were beyond excited. I have spent countless hours searching the internet for a clip of his 'I will not hide my family pride' freestyle. You need to ask one of your readers to find this and upload it on YouTube. Out of all the possible things to put online, how come no one has done this already? This has to be the biggest mystery on earth. Seriously. It makes no sense."

• Last week's YouTube request was fulfilled by Chris H. in N.J.: "It's good to be the video guy for a football team and have the equipment to do this easily. And It's only fair I post the video since I made that point in an e-mail to you. Here is your YouTube request for the two plays from Super Bowl 42 (Samuel's drop and the 75-yard pass to Moss). I also included a nice special treat for Giants fans in the middle. Now for the love of god, publish one of my e-mails!"

(Two follow-up thoughts: Samuel could have caught that pick and stayed in bounds, and Moss came a lot closer to catching that ball than I realized watching it live. Could he have jumped for it? Hard to say because he was moving so fast. But, man ... imagine if they connected on a 75-yard pass to save the season and win the game in overtime? Would that have been the most famous football pass in the history of the NFL? That pass is now the football version of Larry Legend missing the three at the end of Game 4 of the '87 Finals for me.)

• In last week's links, I mentioned Andy Rooney's hauntingly weird Super Bowl piece on "60 Minutes." Now you can be haunted because the clip is available on CBSNews.com. As Corey from Chicago wrote in, "The Rooney piece reminded me of the part in 'Shawshank' when Brooks got released from prison, and felt completely lost and out of place. The tone of the piece, and even the music were eerily similar. I kept waiting for them to show how he carved out 'Andy was here' in his hotel room."

• Check out old friend Rany Jazayerli's new Royals blog, not just because he was one of the first baseball bloggers and always puts thought into his stuff, but because it's a freaking Royals blog. What number will be higher -- the readers of Rany's blog, or the number of Royals season-ticke tholders? I'd make Rany a -1700 favorite and take Rany. You have to love the internet.

• Time to introduce two new features for The Links:

1. "This Week's Most Depressing Link about Clay Bennett Murdering the NBA in Seattle while David Stern Does Nothing."
It's a two-way tie between venomous (and justified) columns from Art Thiel and Steve Kelley.

2. This Week's Irresistable Request to Pimp a Goofy-but-Entertaining Web Site or Blog.
We'll kick things off with Jim in Philly: "I wanted to tip you off to a great site called www.fistpumps.com. It was started in 2005 as a site with photos of celebrities and drunk college kids fistpumping. After a year of two of little action, the site has been reborn as a blog that is being updated multiple times a day with photos and videos of great fistpumps from recent games. I'd love for you to drop a link to it in your mailbag or in a links piece to help me get the word out about a great site that can only get better with more reader participation."

• Bad news for "Friday Night Lights" fans: The guy who plays Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) just signed up to be one of the stars in the new X-Men movie. Even worse, Michael Ausiello from TV Guide is reporting that NBC gave Kitsch permission to appear in the movie. Translation: "We're canceling the show, anyway. Knock yourself out, Taylor!" Maybe it's for the best -- the way NBC forced them to scale back the football stuff in Season 2 was indefensible. On the bright side, Variety is reporting that NBC might share FNL with another network to keep it alive. I am dubious.

• Just for the record, I don't care what Rick Barnes' record is without Durant. I stand by the checkers/chess comment, baby! Let's see what happens next month.

Let's go with 11 recommendations from the readers along with their explanations for those links:

1. Bobby L in Iowa: From Day II of your NCAA Tournament running diary last year: "2:22: The good news for Nevada: They're up four in OT. The bad news: Nick Fazekas just fouled out. Don't worry, we'll see him again at the NBDL All-Star game next February." As I was glancing over the roster list from this year's D-League All-Star game, I couldn't help but see the name of, you guessed it, Nick Fazekas! I don't know whether to be impressed or depressed that you nailed that prediction so easily.

2. Justin K. in Columbus: Just wanted to point you towards Hal McCoy's blog about Roger Clemens. As I'm sure you know Hal McCoy is one of the most respected sports writers in the country for the Dayton Daily News. Also mind you he is legally blind. I found his blog about his encounter with Clemens really interesting and points out how big of a d-bag Clemens really is.

3. Fonzie in Dracut: Just sending this link in case you haven't seen it before. It is a very long slideshow on the old Boston Garden.

4. Ben B. in Ohio: I found this story about a Canadian guy who claims to be JFK's love child. At first I thought it was just some nutjob, but apparently Vanity Fair has been working on this story for 18 months, so it could be legit. The weird part is that his birthday is November 22, 1961, exactly two years to the day before JFK was killed.

5. Tom U. in Philly: On the subject of what Congress should be doing instead of wasting taxpayer dollars investigating Clemens and spygate -- perhaps you can get your congressman to investigate why Shanghai is going to get 100 Dunkin' Donuts over the next 10 years and you can't get a single one in Southern Cal.

6. Pete in Venice: Did you see Star Magazine this week? "Just days before announcing her pregnancy in December, Jamie Lynn shocked a boy at a party by asking him for sex. "It's cool, I'm pregnant," she said. "I can't get pregnant again!?" Best line of the year so far.

7. Danny in Minny: All of the links to Norm MacDonald's comedy are great, but you're missing out on the other side of Norm. Norm, the gambler! Check out this story.

8. Matt in Castle Rock: Really, how rare is this item? It's a Carl Pavano game-used item from his time with the Yankees!

9. Mark in Ledyard, Conn.: Your old friend Vin Baker has apparently now had his restaurant foreclosed on. And could it be any more ironic that it is being done by TD Banknorth -- the current sponsor of the Celtics' arena?

10. Brian in Chicago: Here's an article from a soldier who wrote something ahead of time in case he died in Iraq. I'm not trying to argue any political stance here, it's just a really well-written and deep article I thought you might find interesting.

11. Gautham in Dubai: How about this story about sightings of Owen Hart's ghost in Kemper Arena? How crazy would it be if Vince had pre-arranged it -- set up Owen's death, have sightings which steadily increase, to finally a ridiculous pay per view where Owen Hart jumps into the ring and kicks ass. I truly believe McMahon is capable of this.

• Well, your worst fears have been realized: An AOL.com story with the headline, "Simmons Addresses Leaked Sex Tape." Fortunately, it's about Gene Simmons. You can start breathing again. By the way, I'd be grossed out at a tape of Gene Simmons chewing gum or drinking a soda at this point. He's disgusting. I think I'll be skipping that one.

• A few links that I thoroughly enjoyed: Grant Wahl's piece on Vance Wahlberg, John Calipari and the motion offense was well done and informative. ... New York Magazine's feature on Heath Ledger's life that was the second-best thing in this week's issue. (I'm not allowed to link to the first, although we finally have an answer to one of the most divisive questions of this decade, and yes, Lindsay Lohan is involved.) ... Improbably, The Onion decided to immortalize our own Marc Stein! ... The Yogi Berra of our generation gets immortalized with his own page. ... Scroll down to the middle of this Doug Smith blog posting for the top-5 best Charles Oakley quotes. ... Gilbert Arenas' skewering of the Gasol trade was fantastic. ... McSweeney's makes the sarcastic case for ,a href="http://www.mcsweeneys.net/2008/2/21dyckman.html">Isiah Thomas as a life coach.

• Other relevant links: David Simon is doing a New Orleans series for HBO. ... A Eagle-Tribune mini-feature on the Giants' secondary coach and how the G-Men planned to stop New England's offense in Super Bowl 42 (the Cleveland stuff was interesting). ... NBC announces that they're moving to a year-round schedule for trotting out TV shows (this one belongs in the "how Hollywood re-invented itself for the better during the writer's strike" category). ... Shaq's flexibility is already improving thanks to Phoenix's medical staff.

• As always, you can check the Sports Guy Collection for some of my favorite YouTube clips separated by categories. Here were some recent suggestions from the readers:

Drew in Boston: I was always disappointed that those ultra-talented Philly Eagles teams of the late '80s/early '90's could never win the big one. They had one of the most feared defenses of all time, a freakishly athletic quarterback, who in many ways revolutionized the position, and the most passionate fan base in the league. How come they couldn't win? I think I may have discovered why: Click here.

Dennis in Virginia: Have you EVER seen a top-10 dunks list on a particular person? Me neither, until this.

Jedidiah in London: Here is a clip of Sylvester Stallone on a late-night TV show here in the UK with Jonathan Ross. He ranks the six Rocky movies!

Denis in Denver: Check out this video of a guy getting rejected after he proposed during halftime of a Rockets home game. I think the funniest part is not the rejection itself, but Tracy McGrady's reaction to it.

Dan in Boston: Did you ever think we'd see the day when a Brian Scalabrine mix tape would surface on the internet? Incredible. When my grandkids ask me about the NBA of my day, this is what I'll have to look back on.

Brett in Malibu: Incredible! NBA.com just posted vintage video clips of former greats playing each other in H-O-R-S-E! Come on, Doug Collins versus Bingo Smith? You may have to dig a bit to find them, but this link should send you there.

• Finally, I had to mention what happened to my Randy Moss jersey on eBay. Not only did the auction play out with minimal interference from the knuckleheads who usually sabotage stuff like this, but we ended up raising an astonishing $5,100 dollars for the Jimmy Fund. The winner of the auction? A Cleveland fan named Judson Laipply, who had an interesting and noble motive other than contributing to a worthy charity:

"I just thought it was brilliant to put something cursed to good use. I am not sure what I will do with it. I think I might try a double negative experiment. I live in Cleveland and am a lifelong sports fans and no one can argue that we have had our share of heartbreak in past years and some might say we are cursed (throw in my Ohio State alliance and it doubles). So maybe owning the jersey will help. Two negatives make a positive right?"

Now that's my kind of fan! We'll see if the Reverse Jinx works. One other interesting tidbit about Judson: He made the most-viewed video in YouTube history (76 million views and counting), a six-minute standup routine called The Evolution of Dance. How weird is that? Now I'm thinking about putting my Brian Scalabrine jersey on eBay and see if I can entice the guy who sang "Chocolate Rain." Anyway, thanks to Judson for such a generous winning bid, and thanks to everyone from eBay, Mission Fish and the Jimmy Fund for devoting their time and energy to insure that the auction went off without a hitch. And to think, I almost left that jersey in a hotel room garbage can.