Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Basketball On My Mind...

The NBA spotlight was shining solely on Phoenix this past weekend as it hosted the NBA All-Star festivities. When play resumed in the Association on Tuesday night, the country's attention again turned to the desert. The most famous streak in NBA history was entering the building in the form of Baron Davis, who was looking to extend his ungodly run of 58 straight games failing to shoot over 50% from the field. Let's take a closer look at the events of the evening...

This was Alvin Gentry's first time leading the Suns after Terry Porter was axed after just 51 games. This guy is like a professional "Interim" coach. He never seems to take over a team unless he is reaping the benefits of someone else's firing. This will be the fourth team he has coached, and only once was he actually hired as the head coach originally (LA Clippers). You have to think that his wife was married previously and grabbed Alvin on the rebound. The man has never been a first option for anything.

The Suns apparently are planning on going back to their Run 'N Gun style now that Gentry is at the helm. After one game, he has transformed them from "Possible playoff 8 seed" to "Overwhelming favorite to win the NBA championship." They went out and hung a 140 on the Clippers. They scored 81 in the 1st half alone and ended up laughing their way to a 40 point win. Of course, it is just one game and against one of the worst teams in the league, but 140 points is still 140 points. That just isn't done in the NBA, unless you're counting the time my brother Gabe scored 212 on 'NBA Live 95' with fouls turned all the way off and Mookie Blaylock recording triple digit steals and canning at least 60 threes.

Nothing puts a smile on my face quite like an NBA fight between two guys who really should not be fighting. And when the postgame comments are truly among the most bizarre you will ever see, it's a 2-for-1 deal. The standoff in this game was between Zach Randolph of the Clippers and Louis Amundson of the Suns. Randolph has always been a very talented player, but also a longtime NBA headcase who is not averse to brawls on the court. After all, he is the same guy that once clocked teammate Ruben Patterson in the face during a practice in their Portland days. And if you know anything about the NBA, you know that to take a shot at Ruben Patterson, you have to be either the toughest man on the planet or just plain out of your mind. He always has that look about him that says, "You don't want to mess with me." The other player in tonight's showdown, Louis Amundson, is not quite the same. He is an NBA journeyman who is on his third team in two years. He was unheard of at UNLV and even less heard of today. He frolics around the court in his blondish ponytail (yes, ponytail), just trying not to embarrass himself. In other words, he looks exactly like someone you would want to mess with. The AP game recap from tonight fills us in on the hilarious details.

But the game turned ugly late in the first quarter, when Amundson and Randolph became tangled up while going for a rebound. Randolph knocked Amundson to the floor with his left elbow, then glared down at him. When Amundson stood to face Randolph, the Clippers forward threw a punch with his left hand and connected with a solid blow. He was immediately ejected.

"I'm not going to back down from anybody," Amundson said. "I don't care who you are in this league."

Randolph said he was merely trying to push Amundson away.

"He hopped up and got in my face and almost kissed me in my mouth," Randolph said. "I just pushed him out of my face."If I would have hit him, he wouldn't have got up off the ground," said Randolph, who is almost certain to be suspended.

Said Amundson: "I was getting in his face, but I wasn't trying to kiss him."

Some great material here. First thing that strikes me is how Amundson lends credibility to Randolph's accusation by actually confirming he "wasn't trying to kiss him." Doesn't that go without saying, Louis?? Why even comment on that?? And to be honest, he really does look a lot like Sunshine from "Remember the Titans," who famously planted one on Gerry Bertier in the locker room after a long day in the sun. Might Amundson actually have been going in for a smooch on Z-Bo?? (That scene was never really explained in that movie. I guess he was trying to go for the "Everyone should be accepted on the team, no matter who you are" angle, but wasn't that going a little too far? Wouldn't a couple of good towel slaps have done the trick, or maybe just a little grabbitation of the backside to make his point? Something tells me he wasn't trying to make any point whatsoever, and that he was simply interested in getting involved on a romantic level with Bertier.)

I also love how Randolph plays down his forearm shiver (which looked pretty serious on the SportsCenter highlights) by claiming Amundson would still be down if he hit him with the real thing. Is this supposed to make him look better in this situation? Is David Stern supposed to look at the tape and decide, "You know what? He's right. That was only about 85% of his power. No way was that his best punch. He's free of all charges. The man is a mentsch." Nice try, Zach. I mean, how far has this guy fallen? He's playing in NBA Siberia out in Clipper Land and is now relegated to trying to leave games as early as possible by coldcocking random women from the opposing team.

Saving the best for last, we have the Baron Davis streak. For readers new to the High Socks Legend, this streak has become a main obsession of mine over the better part of the last few months. He entered play tonight carrying a streak of 58 games where he was unable to shoot better than 50% from the field. Not once. In 58 straight games. It's unheard of. Well, tonight had all the makings to end our party. It was a perfect storm. Alvin Gentry as the new coach of the Suns and almost demanding that no effort be exerted on the defensive end. Baron was going up against Steve Nash, who has never been one to shut the opposing point guard down. And Baron was as fresh as ever, coming off almost a full week of rest.

But for a transcendent athlete like Baron Davis, these were merely small roadblocks. There is nothing this guy cannot overcome. And surely enough, when the buzzer sounded, Baron's line was seared into the final box score: 4 of 10 shooting from the field. The most embarrassing streak in professional sports history lives to see another day. We now sit at 59 games. The streak used to be in the "improbable" category. It has now moved way past that, and is now in the "mind-boggling and literally impossible to believe this is still happening" stage. Baron cannot find it in himself to make more shots than he misses, even for one single night.

With that, I'm now off to bed, where I will sleep peacefully, undoubtedly dreaming of bricks by Baron Davis, haymakers from Zach Randolph, and ponytails on Louis Amundson...just another memorable Tuesday night in the National Basketball Association.

No need to discuss the Pistons right now...they make me sad. Michigan State was rolled in Purdue, where Chris Kramer attempted to take a charge on every single MSU possession. Share your thoughts on the night in hoops and the classic Clips-Suns contest in Arizona...or e-mail me at

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