Friday, January 29, 2010

I Say High Socks, You Say Low Socks: A Scholarly Panel Discussion on Pickup Hoops

It's a topic we discuss a lot on this blog, and for good reason. Pickup basketball really is the truest measure of what a dude is all about. Does your boy pass the rock? Does he shoot it every time down the floor? Can he D his man up? It is often said that you can learn more about a guy in five minutes on the hardwood than you could in five years under any other circumstances. Don't try and argue with me...this stuff has been proven. Today, we bring aboard my younger brother Sam, a pickup ball extraordinaire, for a little back-and-forth exchange on this timeless athletic phenomenon.


Everybody can remember a certain game or day on the court when absolutely nothing could go wrong. Errant passes are recovered for easy layups, your crossover feels like it has been personally blessed by Tim Hardaway, and every 3-ball you take falls through the net like melted butter on a flaky Pillsbury biscuit. I can remember one specific late afternoon/early evening at IM East on the campus of Michigan State University when the pickup gods were all smiles in my direction.

I was lucky enough to hook up with that unique group of guys that all come to the court together, and know each others' tendencies inside and out. Once we started rollin', they could see I had it going from deep, and they responded immediately. Every time down, these guys were setting screens for me and wiping out any defender that dared to try and make it through the gauntlet unscathed. It became their personal mission to get me the rock in a position to shoot, and all I had to do was catch, rise, and fire.

I felt like Mitch Richmond on those horrendous Sac Kings teams in the early 90's when every single possession was geared around getting him the pill and letting him operate. Only we were winning. We probably wound up running the court for a good two hours before some fresh squad came on and wore us down. Guys were coming up to me after offering high-fives, a ride back to my crib, their younger sisters to date. For that night, I was a pickup legend.

Pretty sure you've had some nights like this yourself, young brother; though I'd imagine most of your big games came with me handling the ball and driving/kicking to you at your every beck and call, where all you had to do was set the puppies and let it fly. Any memorable gym-rat outings that stick out in your mind??


Let me start out by thanking you, High Socks. I am an avid fan of your blogitation, and am honored to be writing on it for the second time (see my article on can't miss deodorizers and other noteworthy information).

Ah yes, pick-up hoops. I love talking pick-up, playing pick-up, and all too often, eating pick-up. The game of basketball is very dear to me. If given the opportunity, I would partake in games every day of the week. In fact, contrary to what my academic advisor might tell you, I definitely earned college credit in the department of brain, behavior, and baseline jumpers. So it goes without saying that I've done a lot of "running:" threes half-court, fours, fives, and even Australian when I'm feeling particularly good. Yet, I can still point to that single day at the intramural gym where, like you said, everything seemed to go right. My four comrades and I took the court with standard pick-up expectations of winning two in a row.

It was clear to me even after the first few possessions that somehow, someway, our squad was meshing like "lamb and tuna feesh." Pick and rolls, backdoor layups, pick and pops, putbacks, fast breaks. The terror we imposed on offense was balanced by a vocal defense rarely experienced on the after-class hardwood. We must have won six or seven games consecutively without batting an eye. Unlike your story, my tale is about a team. While the game only necessitates you play five guys, it is near impossible to form a team where you play to each others' strengths. Little did I know that the particular team I speak of included John Grotberg, the NCAA's all-time leader in career threes. Now, pair him with myself, two other bodies, and whom I swear was actually the angelic form of Christopher Lloyd from that Outfield flick, and you've got a pretty sweet team and an unforgettable night at the gym.

I was very fortunate the past few years at Michigan to have actually run several games with LaVell Blanchard, a 4-year starter for Big Blue in the early 00's. He was a guy with incredible talent, and we actually became good buddies on the court. For me, this felt like a dream come true. Not only did I get to run as long as I desired (we won every game), but the style of play wasn't of your average pick-up quality with long threes and uncalled banks. LaVell demanded proper play and that's what me and the others delivered. Some people close to me said that I talked too often about those outings with 'Vell, and that it was starting to sound a little weird. I'm in a better place now...halfway around the globe from where he's playing in France.


Ahh, I see it didn't take long for you to mention your boy LaVell. I'll go ahead and say it. I've heard all your tales and fables about the times you spent with him over the years, but lemme ask you one thing; is there any legitimate evidence or documentation that these meetings/games actually took place??? I've never come across LaVell at a family dinner or seen his name pop up in the missed calls log of your celly. The only thing I can remember is that weird doctored photograph you created where he had his arm around your shoulder at some seedy bar with the caption "Friendz 4 Lyfe" scribbled at the top (Still one of the low points of your college career). I believe that during the time period for which those alleged "games" took place, LaVell was hoopin' in places like Italy, Greece, and Russia. What'd you guys do, meet halfway in Livonia?? (Unknown to most, Livonia is exactly halfway to every major city in the world. It's the geographical center of the universe.) Tell ya what, I'll give ya the benefit of the doubt and take your word that you balled with one of Michigan's finest, but I'm digesting it with several dozen grains of salt.

I'll agree that the pickup dynamic can change quite a bit when a stud college player or even a pro takes to the court. Sad to say, but most of the legends I've run with were either well past their primes or down to just one good leg, and most times, it was both. There was former UDM Titan star Terry Duerod, a guy that despite being heavily bandaged and braced at all times, continued to demand the rock in pickup games throughout the 1990's, at one point even doing so right in the middle of a hip replacement operation taking place at the top of the key. Former "Bad Boy" John Long has also been a gym-rat regular over the years in the area, and I'm honored to say that I've been swept off the court on more than one occasion so Steady Eddie could run his daily three-man weave. But I think you would agree that our most memorable brush with greatness didn't involve either of us at all.

We both took piano lessons for a couple of years. A little practice here, a little bit there, several busted versions of the Chariots of Fire theme along the way. It wasn't exactly our finest hour. You escaped one lesson by hiding in the bushes outside, while I infamously hightailed it to the nearby commons to avoid the "Piano Man." It's not that our teacher was scary. It's just that we hadn't practiced one iota and had no way of hiding this fact when that "30 Minutes of Hell" commenced. So we ran. But thankfully, sometimes we stayed, and we heard stories. And when I say stories, I mean stories.

Anybody that's anybody in the Metro Detroit area knows Mike Bez. That was our teacher. He could tickle the ivories like Beethoven. He could play "Chopsticks" with his feet. But those who knew him best were aware of his real talent. Shooting 3s...from the glass. And it worked. Elias Sports Bureau reported that Bez was cash money a good 86% of the time from beyond the arc when he was completely unguarded and given the standard 12-14 seconds to prepare his shot. (Unfortunately, this percentage did drop to 12% if there was any defender within breathing distance.) Even though his delivery resembled a soccer player 'throw in' with that unorthodox over-the-head release, the ball usually found its way through the net. Which takes us to the aforementioned classic story of David versus Goliath that generally found its way into our weekly lessons at least two or three dozen times in the span of that half hour.

As the legend went, Bez was just mindin' his Biz one lazy afternoon at Franklin Racquet Club. Then he walked in. The he in Mr. Grant Hill. G-Hill was rehabbing his ankle at the time, but was still able to go work on his J every once in a while. Well, on this day, he couldn't help but notice the mop-topped piano teacher bombing away on the other end of the floor. He challenged our man to a shootout. The offer was accepted. It was "Hill vs. Bez" to decide the fate of the free world. Okay, maybe not quite at that level, but when he tells you this story and you're an impressionable 13-year-old mook doing all you can to memorize the notes on the treble clef, you'll believe just about anything. The exact specifics of that contest have been lost in the shuffle over the years, but there's one thing neither of us will ever forget: Bez took G-Hill down. The story always ended the same way; with our hero knocking down one final glasser to clinch the victory as the NBA super-duper-star looked on in sheer amazement. Un-freaking-believable.

Maybe we weren't actually at the gym to witness that slice of history. And sure, maybe Bez casually "forgets" to mention the fact that G-Hill was on crutches that day and performed most of his shots while in a wheelchair. None of it matters now. We heard the story. It changed our lives. Nuff' said.


Wow, BroSox. That was ummm...interesting. I think we just went from talking about pick-up b-ball to the musical stylings of one Mike Bez. To put this discussion to rest, let me point out a few things about the pick-up game that bug me. Your man Bez and his 25 foot bank just rubs me the wrong way. I've played in too many games when a three goes up from the top and it falls glass. At that point, the players might smile and laugh their way back down the other side; but me...I say that bucket don't count. I call a foul on the shooter for "hurting" the backboard and we're going the other points. The shot goes through the net, but it's unsightly. Hey, I'll tell you what. You can get a good look at a T-bone by sticking your head up a bull's a$$, but wouldn't you rather take the butcher's word for it? Wait, that doesn't apply...let's move on.

Speaking of shots that go through the net, I am absolutely certain you are familiar with the guy who refers to a swish as "all nets." First off, there is only one net, so "nets" is out of the question. Second, where has this guy has been playing all this time that nobody has "straightened him out" yet??? Next time you bring that jargon to the court, we instantly start calling you "Old Skool."

After a tough game, I like to get a healthy swig of water from the fountain just like the next guy. I understand that the postgame drink is one that is most satisfying; in fact, researchers at Subway University have shown that postgame fountain water is, on average, colder than pure ice. However, there is still no reason to spend more than twenty or thirty seconds lapping it up. I take pride in grabbing a few swigs, getting in line again, and then having my personal time with the watering hole. The next time you witness the marathon drinker after a game taking his good ol' time, interrupt him and ask politely, "Mind if you raise your chops when you drink cause I'm really thirsty and might be able to salvage what you're not catchin?" I promise he'll step out of your way and never think about committing that crime again.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Yet Unnamed Monday Weekend Sports Re-Kap

She Said Whattt?!?!?

Caught a segment on NBA-TV over the weekend where the analysts were giving their opinions on the Top-10 athletes in league history. Names like Vince, LeBron, and Michael were all being mentioned, and rightfully so. Then it became time for Cheryl Miller to unveil her list, and all hell broke loose.

She started off like a perfectly sane human being. Wilt the Stilt at the top, LeBron to follow, guys like Kemp and Dominique finding their way into the mix as well. Yeah, I may have done a bit of a double take when she dropped Darvin Ham in there at #8, but it wasn't the worst call ever. What she said next was, though. Last on her list, at #10, of the Top-10 Athletes in NBA history, was none other than Matt Freaking Harpring.

Hehhhhh??? Matt Harpring?? The same Matt Harpring that has always gotten by on heart, grittiness, and playing as dirtily as humanly possible, without even the slightest ounce of genuine athleticism...that Matt Harpring? And the craziest thing of all...she was one-hundred percent serious!! No sarcasm, no inside joke, no nothing. Cheryl Miller had officially lost her marbles. She tried justifying the insanity by explaining that Harpring was a great football player back in the day, and how injuries had robbed him of much of his explosiveness. Ohhh rightttt, I forgot about that.

I just think we're all lucky that they restricted the analysts to ten athletes apiece. I was afraid of who Miller planned to follow Harpring with on her list. Stanley Roberts? Khalid El-Amin? I'm thinking next up would probably have been someone like Matt Bullard, the Rockets' sharpshooter from yesteryear that had a similar "athletic brilliance" as her boy Harpring.

You learn something new every day. Today, we learned that being an elite athlete is not about highlight-reel dunks or fantastic high-flying finishes around the rim. Instead, it is about being pastier than Pete Chilcutt, possessing knees made up completely of minestrone, making textbook chest passes, and having a propensity for crowd-pleasing plays like "nifty reverse layups" and "perfectly executed back cuts."

In a situation such as this, where an analyst goes so far off the beaten path to make a point that should never have been made in the first place, robbing us all of precious minutes of our life in the process, there is really only one thing to say.

"Mrs. Miller, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

"I'm in Love...with the 3-Point Line"

At first glance, Devan Bawinkel is just another Iowa Hawkeyes guard that likes hanging out in 3-point land. But look a little bit closer, and you realize; he doesn't just "hang out" there...he lives out there. Bawinkel has attempted 57 shots this year...and every single one has been from behind the long line.

It's an amazing accomplishment that completely defies any reasonable basketball logic. I mean, there are plenty of guys that like to go out and hoist from deep as part of their game. Hell, I've made a living out of it my whole life. But to play in 20 games, spend over 300 minutes on the court, and attempt 57 shots without once stepping foot inside the arc for even one shot?? That is truly unbelievable.

Doesn't Coach Lickliter ever take him aside and say, "Hey Devan, we think it's great how you like to shoot the 3 so much. We really do. But maybe tonight, can you maybe try moving in a couple feet, or even attack the basket a little bit? I know it's a lot to ask, but it's getting a little weird and people are starting to ask questions. Thanks, get the hell out of my office."

And it's not like the guy is Mark Price from out there, either. Bawinkel is shooting a modest 37% from long range, which of course also means he is shooting 37% from the field. (Paging Baron Davis) Not that any of this should come as a surprise.

In Bawinkel's freshman year at West Virginia (he transferred to Iowa after one season), 72.5% of his shot attempts were treys. Then last year, as his fear of the paint grew stronger, that number skyrocketed to 96.5%. Coming into this year, he must have figured, "I've made it this far...I might as well take it up that one final notch." And so he has.

57 field-goal attempts...57 three-pointers. It's different, unique, and embarrassing all at the same time. Frankly, I can't wait to watch Iowa's next game. It won't be hard to find ol' Devan Bawinkel. He's found his perfect 'home' on the basketball court...and he's never leaving.

(Sidenote: Bawinkel played 700 minutes last year without ever attempting a free throw. After knowing this, and the previously mentioned 3-point statistics, I think it goes without saying that this mook is quite possibly the least aggressive player in Big Ten history, and to take it a step further, probably the most worthless form of life ever to walk the planet earth.)

She Could Teach Dontrelle How to Throw Strikes

History was made Sunday afternoon when Kelly Kulick became the first woman to ever win a PBA Tour event. She "rolled" over (bup bup bup...that's me laughing at my cute word joke) veteran Chris Barnes in the final, 265-195, to capture one of the year's five majors, the Tournament of Champions from Las Vegas. Once you get past the fact that Kulick is basically a dead ringer for Aileen Wuornos, it becomes a neat little story.

I found myself checking in on the proceedings as the day went on, and when I say "checking in," what I really mean is, "watching every single frame from start to finish." The real highlight of the day was the super semi-final between Kulick and Major Mika Koivuniemi, but I think it's best to keep things low-key here and not get too out of control with the bowling match recaps. (Right? I mean, tell me if I'm wrong. I'm more than happy to oblige in the future.)

So on a day when the Super Bowl matchup was decided with battles in Indianapolis and New Orleans, and the New York Knicks lost a game by fifty points, the biggest story somehow came from the underappreciated world of bowling. And I saw the whole thing.

(And yes, I'm aware that this makes me a complete lush.)

What Else I Be Thinkin'...

-Brad Gilbert is the best analyst on TV today, for any sport. Period. He knows all the players and is never afraid to say exactly what's on his mind. B.G. (as Chris Fowler likes to call him when it's late and they get loopy) also has a world-class sense of humor. Either that, or maybe I'm getting a little loopy here watchin' Davydenko-Verdasco at 3 AM. Regardless, he's a tremendous announcer, and somebody I routinely think about, even when I'm not watching tennis. Wait...what?

-You ever met one of these guys that brags about how many times they've seen Lord of the Rings and how much they enjoy the whole trilogy? You ever done that and walked away thinking anything but, "Man, I really should have punched that guy right in the face?"

-Michigan State big man Derrick Nix is doing some historic things at the free-throw line, and it sho' aint pretty. The 280-pound freshman from Pershing has attempted 39 free-throws on the year. He has made 7. Don't worry, I just got the chills, too. If you're scoring at home, that's a bone-chilling 18% from the stripe. (Watch one of his horrific misses here.) And he's actually been pretty "hot" of late. Keep in mind, Nix got the year off to a particularly disgusting start when he converted just one of his first 21 attempts at the line. You almost have to try to be that bad, don't you?

-On January 15th, the Pistons played the New Orleans Hornets. Rip Hamilton committed 7 turnovers. Later in the week, the Pistons entertained the Boston Celtics. Rip Hamilton committed 7 turnovers. In the very next game, the Pistons took on the Indiana Pacers. Guess what? Rip Hamilton committed 7 turnovers. With youngsters like Jonas Jerebko and Austin Daye still learning on the job, it's a good thing they have a guy like Rip around to show them the ropes by preaching the importance of ball security and valuing each possession. Yeah, that...or the complete opposite.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pullin' the Socks Up High for the Holiday Movie Review Extravaganza

Crazy Heart

Was it the exact same movie as The Wrestler, only with the profession changing from pro grappler to country singer? Yes. Exactly the same. Was it nearly as enjoyable or well done as The Wrestler? I don't think so. And I'm not sure it's close. Not to put Jeff Bridges down in any way, because he was, as per usual, tremendous. He always puts his heart and soul into his roles, and this was no exception. I've always liked the guy. (Especially in the underrated thriller Arlington Road.) But somehow, I found myself much more invested in the fate of Mickey Rourke's "Randy 'The Ram' Robinson" than I did with Bridges' "Bad Blake." It was hard to watch this movie and not compare it to The Wrestler throughout because they really are so similar. But Crazy Heart always seemed to be coming up short when the two were stacked against one another.

Each had an attractive young love interest trying to straighten their man out. And obviously, I'll take Marisa Tomei over Maggie Gyllenhaal every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Each had the main character battling various health ailments and addictions. And both guys were trying to repair past mistakes in raising a family by attempting to reconnect with a forgotten child. But like I said, The Wrestler was superior on all fronts. In that flick, we see Mickey Rourke actually going to visit his daughter...spending time with her...disappointing her again. We cared because we could actually see the relationship on-screen in various stages. In Crazy Heart, we get a couple vague mentions of a son, and then an awkward 30-second phone call that does very little to advance the story.

I didn't love the movie, I didn't hate the movie. I wouldn't be surprised if Jeff Bridges ended up winning Best Actor at The Oscars (after winning at the Golden Globes), and I would be extremely happy for him if he did. But I thought the story could have moved along at a brisker pace, it could have delved a little deeper into the Bridges/Colin Farrell history, and they could have had about a half-dozen less shots of Bad Blake running for the nearest garbage can or toilet to let go of that night's alcoholic festivities. A terrific performance in an otherwise underwhelming story.

(Lowlight of the Experience: The lunch before the movie with my Dad and brother Mike. I have always been a big proponent of the cute little chain, "Noodles and Co.," and wanted to share the experience with my people. Unfortunately, they came away wildly unimpressed, and frankly, a bit angry with me for the selection. My Dad was upset that they force you to mix in the shredded cheese yourself with the Macaroni (an understandable beef), and lamented throughout the day that the meal was inferior to the Mac you get from a box of Kraft. I was shocked, to say the least. I know the place ain't any kind of 5-star gourmet joint, but I've always found it to be a pleasant experience and a quality bowl of pasta for the right price. They both said it would be their last time stepping foot in the's their loss.)

The Hurt Locker

Maybe I should have seen it when it was playing on the big screen. Maybe I should have stuck with it for the entire 2-plus hours instead of bailing on the DVD after the first 65 minutes. Maybe I would have walked away with a different feeling about this flick. Maybe I would have been singing its praises along with every critic in America. But I highly doubt it.

It's weird to say that an intense movie revolving around a bomb squad in the Iraq War could not hold my attention, but that's exactly the case here. I just couldn't get on board. Every "action" sequence took about a week to unfold, and when it finally did, it was usually anticlimactic and disappointing. Even if you give the film credit for creating lifelike circumstances and accurate portrayals of the battle in Iraq, doesn't there still have to be some thought-provoking dialogue or interesting characters to qualify it as a Best Picture-type movie?? Apparently not. According to most pundits, The Hurt Locker is a virtual lock to be one of the flicks representing that prestigious category when the nominations are announced in a couple weeks, joining fellow undeserving entrants of the past like Lost in Translation and Babel (I still have never met anybody that has seen the movie Babel. Seriously, not a soul).

Chipmunks Squeakquel

Haven't seen it yet. Want to desperately. Can't find anybody to go with. Fear that going by myself might result in an arrest. I lay awake every night worrying that the next day will be the one that this gem leaves the theaters for good. Thankfully, it hasn't happened yet. The dream lives on...

The Road

Simply put, the least enjoyable film-going experience of my life. This movie is so dark and depressing that it makes the earthquake in Haiti look like Mardi Gras. It's a flick about the end of humanity, and they don't pull any punches. There's no laughs, there's no sunshine, there's no smiles. It's a chore of the highest order just to remain in your seat for the full 111 minutes without going completely insane and throwing your shoes in the direction of Viggo Mortensen's unsightly beard on-screen.

(Best Move of the Day: My Dad, with only about 90 seconds left in the torture, turned to me and said, "I refuse to stay for this entire movie. I'm leaving." And with that, he got up, walked out, and saved a little bit of face. At least now he can live with himself knowing that he did, in fact, walk out of this garbage before it concluded. He pulled the same move a few years back with about five minutes to go in Syriana, and that time I followed him right out the door. This time, I hung in for the duration, and not a day has gone by since that I haven't regretted it.)


My buddy Aubrey is notorious for his lack of desire to ever go check out a movie at the theater itself. You might get him out there once in a blue moon, but it's gotta be for something pretty special. So imagine my shock when I asked him what movies he'd seen over the holidays, and he replied with, "Just one. Armored." Heh?? You saw one movie, and that movie was Armored?!?? What, was every other movie sold out?? At every movie theater??? In the whole state???? Why else would this be the movie of choice when there were about 5-10 more intriguing movies rotating at the time? It's like going out for pizza one time a year, and that one trip being a visit to the local Hungry Howie's. Sure, it's a decent pie, and they had their gimmick going for a little while with the flavored crusts, but if you only had one chance at pizza glory for the whole year, I'm thinkin' old Howie wouldn't be making the cut. All we can do now is wonder what drove him to make such a bizarre selection, and offer him guidance and support in his movie-watching future.

Up in the Air

Still not getting it. What made this movie so great? What scenes were so memorable that made this thing a classic? Are we so weak-minded as a viewing public that when the critics tell us a movie is special, we have to simply join right along and follow suit like a flock of trained geese? Sorry, I don't roll like that. I'm willing to call a spade a spade, and I thought the movie was mediocre, at best. I'd love to hear what made it so memorable, beyond the fact that the critics told us that it should be.

(I addressed this movie at a little bit more length in this article from a couple weeks back.)


By far the most fun I have had in a movie theater in the last year. The effects were second to none. The pictures occupying the giant IMAX screen were dazzling throughout. And the huge 3-D glasses they dish out make you feel like a superhuman cross between Kurt Rambis and Harry Caray. The movie really had it all. Good story, quality acting, and amazing visuals that you really should see on the big screen at some point before it drops from circulation. (Even though, judging by the ridiculous numbers this movie keeps getting, it will probably be available in theaters for the next 3-4 years.)

My only complaint to James Cameron would be that it was cruel to tease audiences with that five-second shot of the Na'vi creatures playing a little hoop out on the blacktop. These characters are 11-foot blue-skinned freaks...of course we want to see how they look when they're playin' ball!! There were so many questions that went unanswered. What height would they set the rim? How do they regulate goaltending? I say either show us a good 10-20 minute block of a spirited game of five-on-five, or don't show us anything at all. But to give us a little glimpse into what the game would be like and then rip it away was not cool. I was living in Frustration City for the next few minutes following that scene.

(Highlight of the Experience: My brother Gabe, a notoriously tough film critic, didn't seem to hate this one. I believe that would be the first new movie he has semi-enjoyed since the 2001 pseudo-animated Bill Murray romp, Osmosis Jones. The movie deserves Best Picture honors for this fact alone.)

(Lowlight of the Experience: The awkward romance between Sam Worthington's character and the main chick from the Na'vi tribe. I haven't been that uncomfortable in a movie since Mark Wahlberg and that female ape carried on that prolonged make-out session in Tim Burton's not-so-classic Planet of the Apes remake from a few years back. Still haven't quite gotten over that one.)

It's Complicated

One of those movies you get dragged to by a girl, only to wind up liking much more than she does when all is said and done. This phenomenon was also experienced by any male that saw The Devil Wears Prada, Miss Congeniality (secretly, my brother Sam's all-time favorite movie) or Music and Lyrics.


Disturbing story. Extremely well-acted and directed. Disturbing story. Interesting performances from a number of people you wouldn't expect, namely Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz. And yes, it was a very disturbing story. Oh, and I liked it better the first time I saw it...when it was called Antwone Fisher.

Do I regret seeing it? I think I would say no, but I would also say that me and my boy BK probably made a mistake opting for this one and not going for the brainless action jaunt, 2012, on that late Thanksgiving night. I'm not 100% sure, but I do believe we woulda had more fun watching John Cusack and Co. try and save California from drowning than watching a teenage girl get taken advantage of by every family member within a 12-block radius. Prittttay, prittttay, rough movie.

(Surprise Audience Member: Keep in mind, we saw this movie at 11:30 PM on Thanksgiving night. There were a few other people in the house, but not many. About a third of the way into the proceedings, I thought I heard a baby crying. I didn't make much of it, since obviously, there were numerous scenes in the movie where an infant was indeed crying. However, this was a scene with Precious trying to learn the alphabet at school...there were no toddlers presently on-screen. That meant the cries were actually coming from inside the theater. Wait, what?!?!? There is an actual baby here?? At the 11:30 showing?? Of quite possibly the most traumatizing film of the whole year? This can't be!! Oh, but it can. Apparently these parents were so adamant about seeing Precious on this very night at this very time that they decided to forgo the babysitter and just bring lil' fella along for the ride. When I whispered to BK how sick it was that someone brought an actual baby to the movie, he was completely oblivious. He rightfully assumed that all the cries we heard were coming from the theater's speakers...not the theater's 7th row. We left the Emagine Novi that night and promptly went to our respective homes, but something tells me we probably should have hung around for a minute and gotten in touch with Child Family Services. Hopefully that couple starts looking for a 2010 Halloween babysitter immediately. Saw 7 comes out that night...)

The Blind Side

I've heard nothing but good things, I've always been a fan of Sandy Bullock's work, and for the most part, I will see any movie revolving around sports. That being said, I never really had a desire to catch this flick, and I'll tell ya why. Because none of the sports movies nowadays are original. Think about it. Basically every single sports movie of the last ten years has been based on a true story. They just take a real-life event and adapt it to the big screen. Not to say that they don't do a nice job of telling the story and putting together a quality couple hours of film, but at some point, as a viewer, you crave originality.

Let's run down the list of true stories made into recent sports films (in no particular order). You have the aforementioned Blind Side, Cinderella Man, The Rookie, We Are Marshall, Glory Road, Miracle, Seabiscuit, Coach Carter, The Express, Friday Night Lights, Invincible, That movie about Bobby Jones with the guy from Frequency that nobody saw, Ali, Radio, and Invictus. And those were all within the last ten years!

It wasn't that long ago that quality original sports movies were being pumped out at a semi-regular rate. There was White Men Can't Jump, Major League, School Ties, The Mighty Ducks, The Cutting Edge, The Program, Blue Chips, Necessary Roughness, Little Giants, Diggstown, Bull Durham, The Sandlot, Little Big League, Above the Rim, Ladybugs...the list goes on and on. Hell, I'd even throw the underrated Woody Harrelson boxing flick Play it to the Bone in there. You can talk all you want how awkward it was seeing him and Antonio Banderas duke it out for a shot at the middleweight title, but at least it was original.

In almost all sports movies throughout time, you can usually make a pretty good guess how it's going to end. The underdog will win, the guy will get the girl, everybody goes home happy. I'm not saying this genre of flicks was ever shocking people when the final credits rolled. But at least with a story that was created out of sheer fiction, there is still some element of uncertainty as to how the story will end. With this recent crop of true-to-life sports movies that simply retell stories we already know, that suspense, however limited it may be in the first place, is eliminated completely. We knew Jim Morris was going to make it to the big leagues. We knew Vince Papale was gonna beat the odds and become a Philadelphia Eagle. And we knew that Michael Oher, in The Blind Side, was eventually going to be taken in by that nice family, leading to a glorious college career and NFL stardom down the line. The stories might be worth telling, and the various directors and film companies might do a great job delivering them, but at some point, don't you just want to see a movie where the events about to unfold on-screen haven't already unfolded in real life?!?!?

What was the best original sports film in the last few years?? (Thinking...thinking...) Sad as it sounds, I might have to say something like Beer League, and even that is a little less enjoyable now with the recent attempt by Artie Lange to stab himself to death. The Will Ferrell entries are becoming more nauseating with each attempt (Semi Pro was an insult to all of humanity.) Jack Black tried his hand with Nacho Libre, and it's safe to say that anybody who enjoyed that hour and a half has some problems that extend far beyond movies. At least the Bad News Bears remake with Billy Bob Thornton was not based on a true story, but it still was most definitely not an original piece of work. Nor will the upcoming Karate Kid atrocity with Will Smith's son in the starring role. There are even plans for Mark Wahlberg to play Irish Micky Ward in an upcoming boxing biopic. Ward was always a fun guy to watch, with his all-out brawling style, but a full-length motion picture? Is Hollywood that dried up for sports flick ideas? The well-done original sports movie has essentially become a thing of the past. And that's pretty sad, if you ask me.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Stack and the Gang


The Milwaukee Bucks have been reeling of late, recently dropping 4 of 5 on a West Coast swing. The longtime face of their franchise, Michael Redd, is out for the year with his annual ACL tear. Rookie sensation Brandon Jennings has begun to hit the wall as well, jacking up 70 shots in those five games and converting just 21 (30%). I mean, you know things are bad when Carlos Delfino comes in smoking off the bench for a 28-point outburst at Utah...and you still lose by 17. So what does a franchise in despair such as this one do? Why, sign Jerry Stackhouse, of course!!

That's right, the Bucks announced over the weekend that they'd be adding the 35-year-old shooting guard with 75-year-old knees to their roster, hoping to find that there's still just a little bit of gas left in that worn-down tank. Stack only played in 10 games last year for Dallas, and registered a career low scoring average, pumping in just 4 PPG. Thankfully for Jerry, the GM for the Bucks is none other than John Hammond, the longtime right hand man to Joe D in the Pistons front office. Hammond obviously has fond memories of watching Stack do his thing at the Palace in the early 2000's, when in essence, he brought the franchise out from the doldrums and made them a factor again in the Eastern Conference.

It was the Stackhouse-led 2002 team that finally broke through and won a playoff series for the first time in 11 seasons of Pistons basketball, creating hope and momentum that would eventually lead to an NBA championship two years later. So maybe Hammond is just throwing ol' Stack a bone and signing him as a show of appreciation for years gone by. Regardless, it's always nice to see #42 hooping it up somewhere, even if that somewhere happens to be "NBA Siberia"-esque Milwaukee.

(Sidenote: Stackhouse has played in the league for 14 years. During that time, he has appeared in 854 games and played over 28,000 minutes. And for every single second he has been on the court, it's been with the number 42 draped on the back of his jersey. Currently, Mr. Charlie Bell suits up in that very number for the Bucks, a number that he has also worn for every minute of court time since his return to the NBA five years ago. You'd think Stack would have priority here, but maybe he would feel uncomfortable joining a new club and rocking the boat right from jump street with a specific request for an already occupied set of digits. If I were you, I'd keep a close eye on the numerical roster in Milwaukee over the next few days...especially if you have no life whatsoever.)


The Red Wings snipers put on what was undoubtedly the worst shootout performance in NHL history on Saturday afternoon in Dallas. They made Stars' goalie Alex Auld look like Ken Dryden, putting up a giant goose egg in their six tries at glory. Todd Bertuzzi actually came in on one attempt with such a low rate of speed at such a bizarre angle that I would have been very interested to see what homeboy's blood alcohol level was immediately following his missed "shot."


Sometimes coaches, especially those in college, can get too attached to their "system" and lose track of what really matters: talent. (See also: Rich Rodriguez-Ryan Mallet failed marriage) During John Beilein's first season as the Michigan head coach, he was dealing with a mismatched roster that was severely lacking in experience. The only real big guy on the roster was 6-foot-10 jumping jack Ekpe Udoh, a dominant defensive player with occasional hints of offensive ability. If tailored right, Udoh looked like a guy that had a chance to wreak havoc on the Big Ten in his two remaining seasons. But Coach Beilein didn't seem to share those sentiments. He yo-yoed Udoh's minutes, gave him limited opportunities on the offensive end, and in general, made him feel like a guy that might be better fit taking his skills somewhere else. Well, that's exactly what he did. After sitting out last season under NCAA transfer rules, Udoh is now hooping it up at Baylor and looking like one of the top big men in the entire country.

He is averaging a double-double (14.1 PPG, 11.4 RPG). He is 4th in the nation in blocked shots, averaging over four per game. In an impressive road win at South Carolina a couple weeks back, Udoh hauled in twenty rebounds, including nine on the offensive glass. In the very next game, big fella collected his first career triple-double with a mind-boggling 18 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 blocked shots in a win over Morgan State. And this isn't just one of those old 'Zach Randolph with the Clippers' type seasons, where Z-Bo would put up huge numbers for an awful team simply because somebody had to. This Baylor squad is legit. They are 14-2, ranked in the Top 25, and look to be a lock for the Big Dance if they don't throw up all over themselves during the conference schedule. And the worst part of it all?? This Michigan team has one huge hole on their roster...and it's in the paint.

They have zero presence on the interior. DeShawn Sims tries his best, but the man is 6'7" and flanked by two hearty family-sized portions of rice pilaf in 'The Zacks,' Novak and Gibson. Beilein tries to confuse teams with funky zone defenses and small lineups, but too often, the distinct size disadvantage Big Blue is faced with becomes too much to overcome. It's scary to think what this team could be like right now if they were able to throw a frontline of Udoh, Sims, and Harris out every night, accompanied by their streaky assortment of shooters. While I respect Beilein as a coach and believe that he will eventually get this program to where it needs to be, I continue to have reservations about his stubbornness when it comes to recruiting and handling certain players that might not fit in to his perfect little mold of what a "Beilein player" should look like.

Ekpe Udoh may not have been the prototypical center for a deliberate Princeton-style offense like Michigan runs, but you'd like to think they could have found a spot for a guy that blocks shots into the 8th row and attacks the glass like a rebounding love child of Dennis Rodman and Stromile Swift. Oh well, I guess you live and learn. Or, in the case of 'My way is the only way' guys like Beilein and Rich Rod; live, and probably do the exact same thing in the very near future.


A nice round of applause for our good friend Chucky Atkins, who lately has been quite the little spark plug off the pine. During this 3-game winning streak, the Chuckster has averaged 10 points a night, while knocking down 8 of 13 tries from beyond the arc. These are things you get excited about when your team is 14 and 25.

Are Cheez-Its the poor man's Goldfish, or is it the other way around?? I mean, I know that Wheat Thins have always been a poor man's Ritz, but the cheese cracker war has always been a bit of a mystery. For my money, I'd say screw both of 'em and give me a delightful handful of Yogurt Pretzels.
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Missing the "Point"

Today is my birthday. And this is my wish...

That the Pistons acquire a legitimate point guard. Doesn't matter who. It can be a rookie, it can be a veteran, it can be Sue Bird on loan from the WNBA. As long as that person can play the point.

The "Rodney Stuckey as a PG" experiment has run its course. The guy is a scorer/slasher at heart, and needs to be treated as such. The Chauncey Billups trade last year gave Stuckey the opportunity to take the keys and prove himself as a capable floor general. It's been about a year and a half since then, and very little has changed in Stuckey's arsenal. He still looks for his own offense first, and his teammates second. It's not a complete knock on Stuckey's game. He is a very talented player that will only get better in the years to come when he refines his jump shot and improves his shot selection.

But the fact remains...the man ain't a point guard. Hell, nobody on this team is.

Chucky Atkins is the closest thing, and if that's not the saddest statement you have ever read, I don't wanna know what is.

Ben Gordon talked in the pre-season about his ability to slide over to either guard spot, and he might be on to something. Or he just might be on something. I'll go with the latter.

Will Bynum is an unselfish distributor on occasion, but his health has been an issue of late. I've never seen a guy sprain ankles as frequently and easily as Bynum does. The Pistons must have stopped trying to figure out which ankle it was that was causing the most problems, leading to his most recent diagnosis on the injury chart: "Bynum---Out---Both Ankles." Very encouraging. With the Pistons' luck of late, he'll go see Grant Hill's former doctor and be back on the court at full strength in about twelve years.

Everybody knows the main objective in the game of basketball is to score points. This is done with a combination of individual and team efforts. Sometimes a guy can simply break his man down and get all the way to the tin. But more often than not, a basket is created by one player setting up another. This is called an "assist." It's an important stat. Lots of assists usually means lots of points. Lots of points usually means lots of wins. Where do our Detroit Pistons rank in the NBA in assists? Take a wild guess. Dead last. 30th out of 30. The 3 and 34 New Jersey Nets average more assists per game than the Pistons.

(This section was written prior to the game over the Wizards. The Pistons now rank 29th of 30. Let's throw a party.)

And if you think maybe this is a team where the bigs set up the littles, then you've got another thing comin'.

For instance, are you familiar with Charlie Villanueva's work at all? Yes? Then answer me this...does he know that when he gets the ball and is swarmed by an aggressive double team, that he still has the option of either shooting or passing the basketball??? I think Charlie is literally unaware that the rules of the game permit him to make this choice.

Jonas Jerebko is having a fine rookie season and generally plays harder than anyone on the team, but you'll never get him confused with point forward pioneers like Paul Pressey and Anthony Mason. Jerebko is not a selfish offensive player by any means, but that doesn't mean he is necessarily adept at creating scoring opportunities for others. He's got three assists in his last 308 minutes. 'Nuff said.

Hey, Kwame Brown was the #1 overall pick once upon a time...maybe he's the guy to start racking up the dimes from the frontcourt. Or maybe not. In all honesty, Kwame really needs to start spending all of his time trying to transform his ghastly free throw stroke that seems to get even more repulsive with each new trip to the stripe. It is downright inappropriate to shoot in the matter that he does with nobody guarding him from 15 feet away. 62 attempts...24 makes...a shade under 39 percent. Ben Wallace (45%) ain't got nothin on Mr. Brown.

But back to the issue at hand. The Pistons finally got back on the good side of the ledger last night with a gritty road win in D.C. Sure, the Wizards are a team in serious disarray and it took a combined eight triples from Chucky and Charlie to get it done, but when you win a ballgame after dropping 13 straight, you take it however you can get it and go home smiling. But most important to the streak-breaking victory was the unselfishness on the part of the Stones. Isolations were kept to a minimum. Quick shots were passed up in favor of ball movement and clock management. Rodney Stuckey tied a career high with 11 assists. (This after the game in San Antonio last week where he failed to register even a single feed. Go figure.) The passing frenzy was contagious as Rip Hamilton also got in the act, tying his season high with 7. (He also turned it over four times and missed 15 of 23 shots, but hey, it was a win...let's remain semi-positive!!) It was refreshing to see this squad play as a unit instead of a group of individuals for the first time in a month. But let's keep things in perspective. It was one game. And the point guard issue will not go away overnight.

This team is chock full of scorers. Gordon can blitz you for five or six treys on any night and wind up with 30 points. Hamilton is still capable of turning back the clock for a 13 of 19 box score line every so often. Stuckey is as explosive as almost any guard in the league, discounting Dwyane Wade, and maybe Beno Udrih. Villanueva, despite being a virtual black hole on that end of the floor, is still equipped with a lightning-quick release and the cleanest scalp in professional sports. (Yeah, it's getting late.) The point is...having all of these weapons at your disposal is a tremendous asset. But there has to be somebody willing and able to think pass first. A guy that says, "I'll take my shots when they come...but my job is to create for others."

It doesn't even have to be a superstar. A guy like Andre Miller would probably work wonders for this squad. Luke Ridnour could lead the league in assists. Even my old running mate J-Brown, a playground legend with no real experience beyond the 1997 Maccabi Games in Milwaukee, could help this franchise with his genuine desire to initiate scoring opportunities for others. It's what a point guard does. And it's pretty tough to function as a successful basketball team without one. You can accumulate all the shooters and scorers you want. It won't matter unless you have somebody handling the rock and making it all go. Why do you think it took Carmelo Anthony six years to finally make a dent in the playoffs? (Hint: it rhymes with Phillips.)

Today is my birthday. I will have cake and ice cream, get a few tokens to play with at the arcade, and that'll be that. But maybe, just maybe, I'll get a call sometime later in the night asking about my availability for the next 10 days. After all, I've always known how to pass...

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Heros and Zeros with the High Socks Legend


Mr. Skee Ball: You ever seen ANYBODY land even ONE ball in those upper corner pockets on a Skee-Ball game? No?? Me neither. Until Friday night, that is. I was fortunate enough to witness a true athletic miracle when this unknown bar game master stepped up to the lane and cashed in not one, not two, but THREE STRAIGHT flawless rolls into the previously unattainable Holy Grail of Skee-Ball slots. My cousin Ben, who had also been taking in this remarkable sequence of events, stood back with his mouth agape and tears in his eyes. I took it one step further. I sauntered up to the guy after his round was complete. I told him that I'd been watching the whole thing from a distance. I thanked him for the opportunity to be a part of such a historic Skee-Ball moment. And I humbly offered my hand for a congratulatory handshake. After a moment of hesitation, the hero complied with the shake, albeit with a look of sheer horror plastered to his face that said, "I got no idea who this maniac is...but I want him away from me...immediately." After our brief encounter, I let the guy be, and headed back to my crew, but I couldn't help but have one regret over the whole thing: I shoulda went for the hug...


Joe Gibbs: Not exactly a banner day in the NBC announcing booth for the former Redskins boss. Gibbs fumbled his way through the Jets-Bengals game on Saturday afternoon like he had three tongues in his mouth. That's not a good thing...especially when one of 'em belonged to the man on his right, Joe Theismann...


UDM Titans Hoops Squad: With the High Socks Legend in attendance at Calihan Hall Sunday afternoon, the Titans gave Butler, the perennial Horizon League powerhouse, all they could handle. Unfortunately, the Titans only get partial hero status after coming up just short in the final seconds of overtime and finally dropping what could have been a program-defining win for a squad that has been sorely lacking in that department over the last several years. With an unusually raucous crowd in attendance, U of D fought hard all day and essentially had the game won after a gorgeous Woody Payne spin move put the good guys on top by one with just a few seconds left. But as is often the case in sports, and especially basketball, great teams and great players get the benefit of the whistles in the big moments, and that is precisely what happened here. Gordon Hayward, a white forward with a black name, hurried the ball up the court, picking up a punishing moving pick from teammate Matt Howard along the way. He fumbled the ball as he approached the paint, took an awkward step, then another, somehow eluding a traveling whistle in the process, and with just 0.4 seconds left on the clock, the referees finally made their presence felt. Foul on the Titans...two shots coming for the 88% Hayward. Defying the odds, he did miss the second throw, sending the game into overtime. But sitting there, most of us in the crowd sensed that the best chance to win the game had just gone by the boards, aided by a funny whistle at an unfunny time. Sure enough, the battle-tested Bulldogs from Butler made the big plays in the extra session and scampered out of Calihan Hall with a two-point theft job. But one thing this ballgame did do was serve notice to the rest of the Horizon League that a trip to Detroit is no longer a guaranteed W on the schedule.


Up in the Air: Is there anything on Earth less reliable than a movie review?? Every critic in the land has been heaping praise on this flick ever since it hit theaters. Some have labeled it "The best movie of the year." One mook even said that "Clooney sticks the landing with his performance." Exactly where did that comparison come from? As far as I could tell, the movie never displayed or mentioned anything having to do with gymnastics or dismounts from the uneven bars. Though it probably would have made the 109 minutes much more interesting had they done so. To sum up my thoughts on Up in the Air, I will quote Elaine Benes, who described another excruciating viewing of The English Patient with four simple words: "How about, it sucked?" When I heard the rumblings about this movie with George Clooney playing a guy that jets around the country firing people, I thought it was going to be done in a lighthearted fashion. As in, "Sure, his job is of a depressing nature, but watch how hilarious we can make it!" Yeah, that didn't happen. It was just depressing. In between the commentary on the faltering economy and sadness felt by all involved, they threw in numerous "uplifting" monologues on the pointlessness of things like marriage and family. And if you thought they were being unique by showing Clooney as a guy obsessed with airports and everything that goes with them, I've got news for ya. I've seen that movie before, and I liked it a lot better the first time I saw it...when it was called The Terminal. If you enjoy doing things like smiling or laughing, I'd find another movie to check out. But if you're in the mood to be bored and unhappy for 109 minutes, then this is the picture for you.


Pita Chips: Let me just start out by saying, "Thanks." What you guys do is noble work, and far too often it goes unnoticed and underappreciated. Well, that stops now. The great thing about you, Pita Chips, is that you have always felt like you could be yourself. You don't put on airs. Not for me...not for the people at the supermarkets...not for anybody. The big name on the outside of the container might say "CHIP" in big, bold letters, but that doesn't mean you have to be like every other Ruffle and Baked Lay on the shelf. You evolved into some kind of Chip-Cracker Combo that is delivered in the adorable little shape of a mini pita bread, with enough crunch to make us all think twice before crushing you in a single bite. I mean really, whose idea was it to carry the appearance of a pita bread, but possess the texture of a slab of concrete? Because, let me just say, it was genius, my friend. We know that to really enjoy all you have to offer, there is going to be some work involved. And we're okay with that. We are willing to break your biggest chips in the package into 3-4 sections. We as a civilization often feel like every snack should be inhaled in a solo chomp, but you spit in the face of normalcy and announce, "Don't you dare think of me as a 'one-bite stand!' I am better than that!!" We know, P.C., we know. And I like that you make us think it's acceptable to eat your whole lot in one sitting. After all, you tell us, "We're just little pitas. Go ahead and enjoy yourself. Come on, it'll be our own special secret. Just let us sleep in your bed. Let us bring in your mail. Let us into that cute little tummy." And so we do. Whether it's of the "Plain" variety or the constantly underrated "Sesame" delegation, we applaud you all the same. Even when we dip you in pesto or hummus, and you know one of your corners or sections might get lost in the trip, we don't hear a single complaint. You're doing yeoman's work, guys...and here's one fan that ain't afraid to express a little genuine appreciation for a job well done. See ya next time, Pita Chips...and trust me, it won't be the last time.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Yet Unnamed Monday Weekend Sports Re-Kap

Will this reeling group win another game this season? It is likely that they will, but I'm not making any guarantees. Having attended the New Year's Eve shellacking at the hands of the Bulls, I can tell you firsthand that this squad looked completely disinterested in that game. Put it this way: the highlight of the afternoon was me and my cousin Ben plowing through a couple things of Dippin' Dots during the third quarter. Granted, the Dots make for an excellent treat, but you'd like for an NBA team to put forth more of an effort so the majority of the conversation on the ride home does not revolve around words like "ice cream" and phrases like "one cup really wasn't enough."

Rip Hamilton continued his horrid stretch after returning from his strained hammy, making just 2 of 13 shots. All told, in the three games Rip has played since returning, he's converted 13 of 54 from the field. It's awful tough to win any ballgames when somebody is shooting that much and that poorly.

The loss was the Stones' 9th straight, but it gets even sicker when you take a closer look at the streak. Of the nine losses, seven have been double-digit defeats. And the closest one of them all was a 7-point affair in Toronto, a game in which the Pistons still managed to trail by 20 at one point in the 2nd quarter. The feisty bunch of hustlers that clawed their way to a 5-game winning streak and near-.500 record are nowhere to be found. They have now been replaced by a lackadaisical bunch of zombies that loaf through entire quarters and games without breaking a sweat. In the passionless loss to Chicago, Joakim Noah outrebounded the entire Pistons starting frontcourt 21 to 18.

Now John Kuester and the fellas must pack it up and head to Dallas to take on a very angry bunch of Mavericks that were just destroyed in Staples by Kobe and Friends by 35 points. (In an anti-Baron Davis campaign, all 11 Lakers that entered the game shot 50% or better from the field. That even included the thought to be deceased Adam Morrison, who rose from the ashes to knock down all three of his attempts in 12 sparkling garbage time minutes.)

After that probable L in Dallas, putting the Sadness Streak at 10, things get no easier with a back-to-back the next night in San Antonio. And again, they will most likely be facing a very angry bunch of Spurs. Tim Duncan's crew had won five straight before a peculiar loss last night in Toronto, a game in which Tony Parker shot 4 of 9 from the line and Tim Duncan came off the bench for just the second time in his career. (Apparently Mr. Popovich wanted Duncan "fresh" for the 4th quarter. Can you say "over-coaching"?? Duncan made 2 of 6 shots in that final quarter, and used those fresh legs to hit 3 of 7 at the stripe.) With two days off to rest and prepare for the crumbling Pistons, you can give the Spurs that one, and lo and behold, we will probably be looking at an 11-game losing streak.

If you would have told me on the eve of last season that in 15 months the Pistons would be without Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess, and Rasheed Wallace, yet would be with Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins, and that their most reliable player would be a 6'10" Swede named Jonas, and that they would be staring a double-digit losing streak right between the eyes...I would have thrown you in my car and immediately enrolled you in the nearest treatment center for a long round of psychiatric evaluations. But alas, that is precisely where our dribblers from Detroit stand, and in all likelihood, it won't be gettin' any better any time soon.

Michael Redd

The Bucks' sharpshooter has missed quite a bit of time these last few years due to various knee ailments and operations. And from the looks of things, it appears he has devoted a great deal of that down time to inhaling DiGiorno's pies and chain-swallowing Little Debbies. In his heyday, Redd was a well-built 6'6" assassin with the ability to get to the rack or blitz you from distance. Now, he's become a blown-up version of Hersey Hawkins that won't step foot in the paint unless there is some kind of appetizer being served under the rim. The Bucks' roster still has Redd checking in at 215 pounds. That's fine, Mike...but would you mind putting your other foot on the scale, too?

You've Got Mail

I've said it once, I'll say it a million times. This is one of the most delightful movies of all-time. What about this movie doesn't work? Tom Hanks throws a perfect game as Joe Fox, the ice-cold businessman with a heart of gold. I enjoyed Hanks' performance so much that if I ever somehow managed to receive an E-mail from 'NY152,' I would consider my life complete. Meg Ryan, in her turn as the cute as a button Kathleen Kelly, dials up the good fastball one last time before her career-ending decision to go under the knife, resulting in a severely deformed set of lips that made her look like some kind of jacked-up cross between Donald Duck and Sam Cassell. Nevertheless, she is as charming as ever in this flick. When her quaint little children's book store, Shop Around the Corner, began to whittle away in the giant shadow of Fox Books, and the longtime customers kept coming in to reminisce with Kathleen about how much the store meant to them over the years...well, let's just say there wasn't a dry eye in the AMC Livonia 20 that winter day in 1998. Myself included.

A Kupple Other Interesting Little Stat Nuggets for your Info-Tainment

Jonas Jerebko has played a total of 208 minutes over the last seven games. In that time, he has totaled one assist. Combine that with eight turnovers committed during this same period, and you're looking at an ungodly .125:1 assist/turnover ratio, putting him in the esteemed company of past Pistons icons such as Gerald Glass and Mr. Rice Pilaf himself, Rodney White. Congratulations, Jonas...keep up the good work. But if it doesn't kill you, try and set up a teammate for a bucket once in a blue moon. It might make you feel good.

(Sidenote: Jerebko has hoisted 65 shots during this span. I dare you to try and go play basketball for the next seven days, shoot the ball 65 times, and collect just one single assist in the process. Not an easy thing to do.)

-A sarcastic High Socks round of applause for Michigan shooting guard Laval Lucas-Perry. LLP has done the improbable in the first two Big Ten games of the season, playing 21 minutes in each contest and failing to register even the slightest mark in the scoring column along the way. 42 minutes played...0 points scored. I know Lucas-Perry is no All-Conference guy or anything like that, but the fact remains he is starting at 2-guard for a Big Ten program, seeing significant minutes in each game, and was once thought to be a future star in the game when he enrolled at Arizona in the fall of 2007. Opening conference play with the infamous Double Goose Egg is not an encouraging sign for Mr. Perry in his ongoing quest to become a consistent contributor to the Big Blue ballclub and to society as a whole.

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