Friday, October 30, 2009
This goofy picture of G-Hill dressed up like some kind of 1930's private eye has always been one of my favorite SI covers of all-time. What exactly was the thinking behind that one? Did someone walk into the big weekly meeting and suggest, "Hey, you know how Grant Hill is becoming a true superstar in the league? Well, whaddya say we put him on the cover? But not in his Pistons uniform...in an old-school gray trench coat and a Tom Landry-style fedora. And he should be holding some kind of giant flashlight that doubles as a magnifying glass. Oh, and last thing! Let's make sure we can only see Grant's head and shoulders...the rest of his body should be underground...in the sewer system!! Now let's get to work!!" Didn't anybody raise their hand at any point and ask what in God's name was going on? I'm all for originality and thinking outside the box, but there's gotta be a limit, right? The least they could have done, if they were planning on going down this route, would have been to include fellow Piston Bison Dele (Alav Ha-Shalom) in the picture. It would've made a little more sense that way. Bizarre picture...bizarre person. I could have gotten on board with that. People do sometimes forget, with the name change and his other shenanigans, how good ol' Bison was at times for the Stones during his two years in the D. He had a tough post-up game, highlighted by his deadly left handed jump hook. Let's not forget that the man put up 16 and 9 a night during the 97-98 campaign featured on the G-Hill mobster cover. It really was sad how his career and life spiraled out of control when he decided to leave the NBA to go run a water purification company in Beirut. (What...isn't that what all NBA guys in their prime dream of doing when their playing days are done?!??) He eventually wound up being murdered at sea by his brother (allegedly...the details have always been sketchy), who then proceeded to commit suicide himself by intentionally overdosing on insulin. Bison was not a superstar by any means, but he was a pretty enjoyable Piston to root for in the time that he was here. In the famous five-game loss to the Hawks in '99, Bison and Dikembe Mutombo took turns just destroying one another, depending on who had home court. Bison did nothing in the first two games, then took Big Deke apart when things returned to the Palace. It might sound crazy, but I don't think the Pistons have had a legitimate threat in the post since Bison a decade ago. We must never forget the silly G-Hill Sports Illustrated cover. And we must never forget Brian "Bison Dele" Williams...the most underrated left handed, two-named, oft-complaining, murdered, Eastern Conference big man of the last 25 years.
Larry Brown took his Charlotte Bobcats into Beantown for their season-opener. Forty-eight excruciating minutes later, the final buzzer sounded and the coach led his team off the floor. After scoring 59 points. That's sick. No, I'm being serious...that is just sick. It's one thing to play the fifth game in eight nights during the dog days of January, come out flatter than a pancake, and hang a 60 or 65 on the board. Semi-understandable. But the first game out of the chute? Not OK. I'm not blaming the whole thing on LB of course, but he's got to take the brunt of the responsibility. He is not exactly the definition of "innovative" when it comes to offensive philosophy. Hell, he's still vehemently against using the three-pointer as a weapon despite the fact that it's been in the game for 30 years now and it ain't going anywhere anytime soon. I can't imagine the 'Cats spend much time in practice shooting the trey, perhaps a reason they shot an embarrassing 0-10 in the Boston Massacre. You do have to wonder what Michael Jordan is doing in the front office, too. How did he create a team with Nazr Mohammed, DeSagana Diop, and Vladdie Radmanovic? Was he just tyring to assemble a whole roster full of slow-footed, overly sweaty (I'm lookin at you, Radmanovic), journeymen?? If so, he did his job...almost too well.
I know people keep trying to push Portland as a possible NBA Finals sleeper out of the West, but let's get serious for a moment. If you watched any of their home loss to the Nuggets last night, you saw the one and only Juwan Howard not only suiting up, but actually playing in the game for 16 minutes. Unless it's some kind of Big Ten Legends game or a carnival contest featuring the world's ugliest jump shots (and people, may I add), then Juwan should really not be included. The man was drafted in '94! The last pick in that draft was Zelly Rebraca, who had to retire because he was having weird "heart" problems. Voshon Lenard was taken in that draft, and I believe he literally has no knees anymore. They're just gone. He's got a foot, an ankle, a calf muscle, and a thigh. That's how brittle ol' Voshon is. What does that say for Juwan?? Aaron McKie was in that draft...he seemed old like 10 years ago. I mean, some of the guys (Yinka Dare) from that draft aren't even alive anymore. (We really miss ya', pal.) The Blazers might be the cat's meow for the time being in the eyes of the analysts, but with each minute Juwan logs in the box scores, their odds at winning the whole shebang are reduced considerably. But maybe I'm wrong and his veteran presence will be an asset. After all, he can tell Greg Oden and the other young big guys what it was like to play against some of the game's all-time greats. Hakeem Olajuwon...Charles Barkely...Jesus. Yeah, he actually played the bearded one in a game of H-O-R-S-E during his rookie year, back in 7 A.D. Legend has it that Jesus ended up winning with a final trick shot that required Juwan to can a 17-footer off glass while not frightening the nearby children with his famously grotesque delivery and follow-through. Juwan buried the shot, but the pack of kids began sobbing on the release, nullifying the bucket and giving the victory to J.C. Remains to this day one of my favorite "Is it true?" NBA stories of years gone by.
Here's a fun drinking game for the next time you tune in to an LA Clippers game...
-Take a drink any time you see Chris Kaman run the floor and then at the next whistle appear hunched over, hands on knees, panting heavily, with a pained facial expression on his unflattering mug that tells you his next breath could very well be his last. Only do this one for the first quarter, though. Otherwise, Kaman might not be the only one passing out.
-Take a drink anytime Baron Davis finishes the game with a shooting percentage above 50%. Don't fret, you have nothing to worry about. Remember, he had a 62-game streak last year, and he is fully capable of getting there again. His first two games produced a 1-10 against the Lakers, and a 4-11 against the defensively-challenged Suns. I'm proud of you, Baron. No matter how bad you play, you can always play worse. Don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise.
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