Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Three-Man Weave...and a Little Pesto for the Road


I know Clippers fans have been through a lot over the years, but it seems they've hit a new personal low. In the final minutes of their victory over Minnesota the other night at Staples, they began to shower chants of "M-V-P! M-V-P!" on Chris Kaman as he stepped up to the free-throw line. I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a little nauseous when I heard it. I'll give the guy his due credit, especially after his Chamberlain-like start to the campaign. (Avg. 23 and 10 through the first five games) But let's keep things in perspective here. The MVP award is an honor given to the NBA's elite; the guys able to sustain a level of greatness over the duration of the 82-game grind. Kaman is a man-moose that, in all likelihood, will be in street clothes come the new year with some debilitating ailment like a "sore throat" or "jet lag." And does Clips' boss Mike Dunleavy have even the slightest bit of regard for Kaman's health? The 7-footer is not exactly Rip Hamilton when it comes to conditioning, yet Dunleavy keeps trotting him out there for 40-plus minutes a night. Frankly, I'm concerned for the big man's overall well-being and worry that if this is not remedied soon, the whole saga will ultimately conclude in tragedy with Kaman collapsing on the court at season's end, forcing an actual moose to appear onstage with David Stern in place of his fallen comrade to accept the MVP trophy.


-In my mind, you really haven't become fully "mature" as a person until you start to appreciate Pesto. Prior to my 21st birthday, I had the same thought process many other little kids had. "Ewww!! Green sauce on my noodles?!??! Get that outttta here!!" But then came a revelation. There's no need to be scared of Pesto. It's not gonna hurt you. In fact, it might even help you. It's plenty easy on the eyes, and when prepared correctly, can do wonders for your taste buds. It's one of those versatile sauces that can be enjoyed in pizza and on pasta, in addition to being a welcome dipping home for thousands of crackers over the years. Of course, Marinara has always been Top Dog when it comes to sauces in the Italian game, and Pesto respects that. But I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the two of them swapped spots on the pecking order in the years to come. To some, enjoying a bowl of Pesto is just that: a little basil, a little cheese, and a few crushed pine nuts. To others, such as myself, it's a sign from God that you are now fully developed as a spiritual being, and ready to join the real world in all of its aromatic, creamy, and green glory.


-For the last million years, fellow High Socks Legend Bobby Jackson has been a super-sub for nearly every Western Conference team in the NBA. But recently, he decided it was time to hang up the knee-highs and begin his life after basketball. Not so fast. The Sacramento Kings brought Jackson on board to work in their front office as an "ambassador" for the team. Hmm, I was always under the impression that ambassador was a designation reserved for a respected diplomat of an entire country...not for former shoot-first point guards representing the Sacramento Kings. What are his responsibilities as an "ambassador" anyway? Making sure Sean May stays under the team-mandated "Four Bills or Bust" weight limit? Having Shabbat dinner with Omri Casspi every Friday night? Preventing access inside Arco Arena to former Kings' embarrassments like Duane Causwell, Tyus Edney, and an end-of-his-career, heavily bloated, Nick Anderson?? I wish Bobby Jax the best of luck on his new endeavor. Even if I have absolutely no f$%!ing idea what any of it really means.


-The final years of the aforementioned Nick Anderson's career were among the most depressing in league history. The onetime sharpshooter out of Illinois really never recovered from his debacle at the charity stripe in Game One of the 1995 Finals against Houston. He missed four straight at the line that night in the closing seconds with a chance to clinch the game, paving the way for a Rockets sweep over his Magic. After that, ol' Nick was never the same. But those last couple of seasons were downright sad. The most startling was his 2000-01 year when he hooped it up with Sac-Town for 21 games. Nick was a shell of his former self at the age of 33, but he still had a hint of giddy-up in his offensive arsenal when he wanted to. However, with that '95 meltdown never really escaping his thoughts, he had become absolutely terrified of the free-throw line. Not just spooked by it...scared to death by the sight of it. Anderson saw the court for 169 minutes during that infamous season, and not one time did he draw a foul and get sent to the line. Not a single free throw attempt in 169 minutes. He played in 21 ballgames and attempted 57 shots. How in the world did he not initiate contact on just one of those occasions? What happened if the referee did call a shooting foul on the man guarding him? Would he just feign injury and hightail it to the locker room? It's one thing to hold on to a traumatic event in your career to motivate you going forward and to ensure history does not repeat itself. But to be so effected by one moment of inaccuracy that it actually prevents you from ever drawing a foul the rest of your life?? That's unhealthy.

People always talk about guys like Steve Sax, Chuck Knoblauch, and Rick Ankiel when discussion arises about professional athletes that just completely lost it mentally and were never the same again. Sadly, Nick Anderson is a board member of that group, too. He was a respectable 70% free-thrower in that 1995 season when the Magic won the East. Two years later, he had stopped attacking the basket out of fear, and when he did get hacked, wound up chucking it towards the rim at a shocking 40% clip. One of the most interesting, and at the same time tragic, NBA careers in the history of the game.


If Will Bynum played 42-44 minutes a night, is there really any doubt that he would lead the league in scoring and win the MVP?? I don't think so. Reach the HSL at highsockslegend@gmail.com

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