Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Goods on the NBA- Taking You Around the Association and Back

Baron Davis. Words can no longer describe what this man has accomplished in the last 11 months. He has taken a small streak being discussed by few and turned it into a national phenomenon that has every basketball fan asking, "What did Baron shoot from the field tonight"?? The man has now played in SIXTY ONE straight NBA games without once shooting over 50 percent from the floor. He's done it all kinds of ways. Games where he starts out blazing, then comes back to Earth with a disastrous 4th quarter. Games in which he goes 0-7 in the 1st half, guaranteeing that we have nothing to worry about. And games where he just decides, "Yo fellas, I know I'm the point guard, but I'm tellin' you right now I will be jackin' up at least 20 shots tonight...get yours!!"

Funny how much things can change in a short time. Just a couple of years ago, when Baron was leading his Warriors to a monumental upset over the top ranked Mavericks, he was the toast of the basketball world. Now, when my brother Sam recently suggested that I am the new Baron Davis of our Sunday morning basketball league, it was all I could do to not slug him right in the face. Them be fightin' words in our house.

We are approaching one of the most historic days in the great history of our country. The One Year Anniversary of BaronMania. If the basketball gods allow this run to make it to March 12 unblemished, we will officially be one year removed from the last time Baron made more shots than he missed in a game. I've already started to hear rumors of fans planning huge parties that night to celebrate the accomplishment. But what is on the agenda for a party that is, in essence, toasting one of the saddest and most embarrassing streaks in sports history? Possibly serve some nice steaks, but be sure to cook them just slightly less than half the time they're supposed to be on the grill in honor of the Baron. Or even show the movie "Speed" before the Clippers game, just for the sheer irony of the film in relation to Baron's streak. In that flick, Keanu Reeves and Co. were forced to keep their bus moving in excess of 50 mph at all times or have it blown up immediately. Baron's situation is similar, only he refuses to soar past the 50% threshold. Plus, Keanu had Sandra Bullock to help guide him through the various roadblocks that Dennis Hopper had put in place. All Baron has in terms of help is Steve Novak, Alex Acker, and a small side portion of rice pilaf.

Now that I think about, it is quite possible that Dennis Hopper has been holding Baron hostage for the past 61 games. B-Dizzle has made a foray into the Hollywood scene the last few years, and it seems like he may have went one step too far and actually got into hot water with Hopper himself. Maybe Baron shut Hopper out of a major movie opportunity, and the threat was made. Our hero might be facing immense danger if he ever breaks the 50% barrier. Taking all that into consideration, it looks like this streak might be goin' on for a while. A long while. Because honestly, you just don't mess around with Dennis Hopper...especially when the number 50 is involved.

The NBA trade deadline came and went, without too much heavy action taking place. Except for one very notable deal. Tim Thomas and Larry Hughes were exchanged for one another, with others, in a deal between the Knicks and Bulls. I'm pretty sure that after this trade, they have now each played for all 30 teams in the NBA. Both guys were drafted by the 76ers in the late 90's and have been on a mad quest ever since to suit up for every team in America. The unfortunate aspect of trades in pro sports is that families are forced to move and kids have to leave their friends. But it does not have to be the case here. Why don't Thomas and Hughes just let their families stay where they are, and the two NBA'ers can switch households? Nobody would know the difference. They can just be honest and tell their kids the truth. "Daddy might look a little different, but don't worry. He's still the same underachieving, lanky gunner with a questionable work ethic and a propensity to jack up bad shots. And Daddy will make sure to get injured real soon so he can come home and spend time with you guys!"

When did the NBA season just turn into one giant discussion about who should be this year's MVP?? Sure, it's an important award and something that should be discussed for a certain amount of time as the year draws closer to its conclusion, but why all of a sudden has this topic trumped actual commentary on the teams in the league and how they are all performing? Both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are having magnificent years, I will not argue that. Both players present great arguments as to why they should be the MVP. But somehow it feels like every talking head on TV or the radio only wants to talk about one thing and one thing only when the topic of the NBA comes up: the MVP award. I especially enjoyed last week's riveting ongoing debate, "Which guy had a better game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden"?? Wake me up when that one is wrapping up. While awards in every sport are meaningful both to the players and the fans, ultimately what matters most and creates the most longstanding memories is the actual championship. I wish the primary focus would remain on the teams around the league and their quest for the title, and the award talk was put on the back burner for a while.

Somebody needs to tell my boy Walter Hermann it's Ok to receive the ball on the court and not immediately heave the pill towards the basket. The Argentinian Secretariat (he really does look like a horse, doesn't he?) was on the court for 18 minutes Sunday night, and wound up with a whopping 15 field goal attempts (made 5). For a guy that rarely sees game action and hadn't attempted a single shot in the last month of play, Herrmann was apparently intent on not letting one minute of court time go to waste. Reminded me of the time we had a get-together at the house for some game and had a pretty good deli spread going in the kitchen. Our friend Larry attacked the various foods so hard and with such vigor that my Uncle Leon exclaimed, "Looks like the man hasn't eaten a solid meal in months." In other words, Mr. Herrmann, act like you've been there before...three corned beef sandwiches on one trip to the buffet reeks of desperation.

Watching some of the New Orleans Hornets on the tube the other night, I noticed both Ryan Bowen and Sean Marks on the court at the same time for Byron Scott's crew. By watching them play, it becomes quite apparent that these boys were big fans of Cherokee Parks growing up. And that's not a good thing. Ryan Bowen is the poor man's Austin Croshere, if there is such a thing. Sean Marks looks like Adam Sandler's character from "Little Nicky." He's just got that look about him that says, "I was drilled in the side of my face by a shovel as a youngster." I was hoping that they would crash into each other at some point during the game with some solid momentum...just to see if, in fact, they would immediately meld together into one human being. The end product would be a player with a willingness to go after every loose ball in the arena, a total lack of any offensive awareness whatsoever, and also the predominant favorite to be the "next guy to get clocked by a Zach Randolph haymaker for displaying too much hustle while in Z-Bo's presence." I wait in breathless anticipation for the next long rebound and subsequent wild chase for the ball in the next Hornets game. We could be witnessing history.

Kevin Martin is the present day Mitch Richmond. Martin is going to put up these eye-popping scoring numbers on a horrible Kings team for a few years, and at some point, will be traded to a semi-contender where his impact will be much less than what everyone expected. Same thing happened with Richmond. He was dealt to the Wizards, where it was assumed that the trio of Richmond, Juwan Howard, and Rod Strickland would dominate the Eastern Conference for years to come. Didn't exactly pan out that way. Richmond's best days were behind him, Howard was discovered to be very average without Chris Webber by his side, and Rod Strickland was just getting ready to embark on the "7 teams in 4 years" portion of his career. Where will Kevin Martin end up to follow in Richmond's footsteps?? I'm thinking the Hornets are a decent possibility for the scenario. People will salivate over Martin joining Chris Paul and David West to form one of the "best trios in the league." But we've seen this story before, and it does not have a happy ending.

David Stern gets credit for being the best commissioner in pro sports, and I don't necessarily disagree with that. But I still feel pretty strongly about one piece of legislation that he has not put in play yet. I feel that Tyronn Lue should be allowed to show up at any NBA arena on any night and play backup point guard for whichever team he chooses. At this point, lil' fella has been on so many teams and backed up so many different point guards that I don't think any team in the league would even bat an eye if he randomly showed up in the locker room before a game. "Oh yeah, I forgot T-Lue was on this squad." This way, he could begin and end his career in storybook fashion. He began his career as the young little jitterbug that hassled Allen Iverson better than anyone during the 2001 NBA Finals. He could finish this run as the first ever "year round free agent" that had the freedom to visit any team on any night and handle the rock for 17 minutes. Heck, he could even play half the game for each team if he wanted to. We're gonna trust Tyronn to handle this the right way. It really isn't fair for any team to have to employ him for a full season, because honestly, his presence has basically become the NBA's version of Kryptonite in terms of the NBA Playoffs (1 appearance the last 7 years). Which is why this plan works out perfectly...nobody has to have him for too long. He could even have his own custom made jersey that just said "NBA" on the front and "Backup PG" on the number necessary. I think I just feel a little sympathy for Mr. Lue and the way he has sorta been kicked around during his career. It might sound outrageous, but think back to all the times growing up that your Dad played 'All Time Quarterback' for the games in the front yard. You knew the passes would get there on time, plays would be made, and the ball would always be in safe hands...same thing here with Tyronn Lue. Except the exact opposite.

This Week's Edition of "Unfortunate Lottery Picks of the Past"

Mike Sweetney (2003, 9th Overall, Knicks) - Sweetney was a dominant force in his days at Georgetown. That is, until he got to the NBA where the per diem money allowed him to select whatever he wanted off the Burger King Dollar Menu, several times over. This is the best example of a guy that literally ate himself right out of the league. Mike Sweetney was listed at 6'8 and 275 pounds. The problem is, these were the dimensions taken from his Little League card when he was just 11 years old. He lasted four NBA seasons, and actually was semi-productive in the middle two. But by the time he finished up that final campaign with Chicago, his size was becoming a problem that could not be dealt with. Several times that year, the referees demanded that Sweetney count as two players when he was in the game, only allowing Scott Skiles the chance to place three other guys on the floor with him, putting the team at a severe strategic disadvantage. Sweetney's NBA career may have come and gone in the blink of an eye, but he will forever be remembered by drive-thru workers throughout the nation.

As the Pistons trudge on through their most depressing season in a long time, the question continues to boggle the mind of all fans of the red, white, and blue: why was Michael Curry hired as coach of this team?? Coaching changes every 2-3 years have become the norm with GM Joe Dumars, so there was no surprise when Flip Saunders was canned after last year's loss to Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals. But why did Dumars look to Curry, a man with no head coaching experience, to lead a team of established veterans trying to make one more run at the Finals?? There's something to be said for a "fresh voice" coming in and giving a message these players have not heard before, but if that's the case, why hire a guy who was already an assistant under Saunders?

While trying to remain fair, it is a fact that Curry has been nothing short of a train wreck as the head coach. The frequent and sometimes unexplained changes to the starting lineup have almost become this team's identity. There was the bizarre stretch when he would either start Kwame Brown or Amir Johnson depending on who the opposing team's frontcourt consisted of. Guess Curry does not believe in the old adage of, "Play to your strengths and make them adjust to you." Puzzling fans further was the demotion of Rip Hamilton to the bench despite his being the longest tenured Piston (along with Tayshaun Prince) and main cog on a team that has been to the last six Eastern Conference Finals. And then Curry decided to play only seven players Thursday night, a tactic practically unheard of in today's NBA.

Some might argue that the constant discussion and debate about starting lineups was overrated and that everyone ends up getting their minutes. But the bottom line remains that Michael Curry is also lacking in a major way when it comes to pregame planning and in-game decision making. Curry's shortcomings as a strategist came full circle on Thursday night at the Palace against San Antonio. The Spurs had the ball up 1, with 39 seconds left, about to come out of a timeout. The Pistons needed a stop and then a score on the other end to steal this game. The key here is that San Antonio had the ball and thus came on the court with their offensive lineup. What this means is no Bruce Bowen. While in this timeout, one would hope that Coach Curry would tell his Pistons, "Hey, if we get a stop here, this is the play I want us to run. We're not calling timeout, because that allows them to get Bowen back in the game. Get a stop, run this play, let's win the game"!! Unfortunately, that kind of forward thinking is something that is absent from the first year coach.

Instead, the Pistons got a stop, secured the rebound, and called timeout immediately. Reggie Miller, calling the game for TNT, was incredulous as to why Curry would follow this course of action. Gregg Popovich must have felt like a kid in a candy store, able to get Bowen in the game. The same Bruce Bowen that has been on the NBA All-Defensive 1st team for the last five years. Sure enough, Curry diagrammed a pick and roll for Iverson and Rasheed, to be defended by Bowen and Tim Duncan, another player with more All-Defensive awards than could ever fit on his mantelpiece. Really, is this the best matchup we have here?? To go against arguably the top two defenders in the league for the last decade? Apparently Curry believed so.

They ran the play, the screening action led to nothing, and ultimately it was another crummy fadeaway by Rasheed over Duncan that went begging and left Pistons fans frustrated once again. The funny thing is, Curry did not even realize his error following the game. This is what he had to say.

"We had Rasheed with a good look at a 17-footer in a one-point game," Curry said. "That's what you want."

Well, if that's what you want right there, then good luck finding another head coaching job after this one. Any Pistons fan that has watched this team with any regularity knows that this is the absolute antithesis of what you want in a big situation. Rasheed Wallace hitting a big shot inside of two minutes is about as sure a bet as Fernando Rodney locking down a big game with a 1-2-3 9th inning. The Pistons are now officially flat lining with several players showing no interest in really competing anymore, while the Palace continues to look more and more empty with each passing game. Not a fun time to be a fan of the Detroit Pistons. After all, it's never a good sign when you're watching them play and all you can think to yourself is, "Hmm...I wonder if Mike Fratello would like to get back into coaching." No, but really...would he???

The Oscars went down last night and "Wall-E" took home some hardware in the 'Best Animated' category. The movie has had praise lavished upon it ever since it hit the big screen. However, one main point has yet to be raised. The main character, Mr. Wall-E, is a COMPLETE rip off of Johnny-5 from "Short Circuit." Is it just a coincidence that they look exactly alike?? Why do we keep ignoring the elephant in the room? This movie was plagiarism at its finest and somebody needed to say it. Email me at or drop a comment in the section below.


Aubrey said...

Great little Nicky reference. Question: Is Rice Pilaf your favorite thing to compare a humans worth to? Wall-E also looks a lot like Screech's robot, Kevin! What will you do if and when this Baron Davis streak ends? If you need support, please call and I can talk you down from the building you might be trying to jump off of!!

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