Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Heat v.s. Mavs

It happened midway through the 3rd quarter, the point I realized this series was hopeless for the Dallas Mavericks:

Dwyane Wade sized up his man, dribbled between his legs, and then off his leg the ball rolled towards half court.

Lebron James rushed to save the ball, picked it up, and began to dribble and size up his man above the 3 point line. Just as Wade had done.

Lebron dribbled hard, and lofted a pass high above his man towards the rim and a soaring Wade, who flushed the alleyoop pass over Brian Cardinal.

Interchangeable superstars. Just nuts.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bosh = Raptor Raptor = Bosh

In honor of Chris Bosh's shot, this ESPN article on the man, and because a sharp-eyed Bulls fan agrees, here is the only basketball player who WAS his team's mascot. Chris, ya gotta go back to Toronto.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Most INEFFECTUAL Post Move in the NBA today

Winner: Andray Blatche's spin to the baseline. He does not use the defender's power against them primarily because no defender needs to exert much power to prevent Blatche backing them down. As a result, he does not dislodge and get position on his defender for a close shot, NOR does he get separation to go baseline for a reverse (few times he does this it's a weak sauce reverse that rarely has a chance-he's been known to get blocked by the rim).

He kind of spins, and winds up in the same place. Spinning in place. With egg on his face whenever he gets doubled from a soft move.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Relax, it's the start of the 2010-2011 NBA season

"Relax! Relax! Relax...personal foul," the referee said to Luis Scola as the Rockets' starting power forward lay prostrate on the hardwood clutching the ball he'd just wrestled from Ron Artest. The face of the gritty Argentine went from incredulity to relief as he processed the fact the call was going his way.

That placating, yet forceful, command could well come to define the new hyper-regulated NBA.

While many fans (including myself) have reacted to the NBA and Commissioner David Stern's new stricter regulations on "bad behavior" in the same fashion as Scola reacted to the whistle, we may experience a similar change in perspective.

From what I could see of the technical fouls assessed to players and coaches of last night's games, and just as importantly the interactions between referees and players that prevented potential Ts, it seems like there is method to the madness...the method to curb the madness, that is.

"We have the greatest players in the world. They didn't complain in high school, or college, but when they arrive in the NBA they get a masters in complaining," Stern said to Cheryl Miller during the highly anticipated Celtics-Heat game Tuesday night. Stern and the NBA want to change the perception that NBA players are whiners, and project a more positive image for the league.

The madness? How about the howling Rasheed Wallace (gone this season, but always had capable understudies), the "I never committed a foul in my life!" face that belongs to...so many players, and yes, perhaps even the stare down of privileged NBA royalty like Kobe Bryant.

The method? Assess T's faster and more readily, a technical foul hair trigger as it were. Screaming, taunting, scowls, cursing, back talk, and menacing walking-up-to will not only be fair game, but WILL draw a technical. So it seems, the refs will all resemble Joey Crawford this season.

But wait. They will not all be Crawfords. This might actually work, because referees will have to contribute to the peace process as well. Ideally, they will work to create an atmosphere that is less vitriolic and full of shocked Kabuki-esque expressions, but that will remain acutely competitive. Something closer to pure sport, is my guess.

The critics have two major points against all this though:

1. It's going to kill the natural emotion of the game.
2. It's going to slow down the game.

Of #2, barely noticeable in any games last night. We'll see how it goes.

Of #1, this could be a bigger problem. Again, we'll have to see as the season goes on just how the refs choose to exercise their new license to T. Especially during the playoffs, will emotional plays where players get juiced up on adrenaline, anger, and joy lead to players' heads exploding as they try to hold it all in? Will the refs tee up Donkey and Shrek with a 2 for 1 special?

I certainly hope not. It's too early to say whether the new disciplinarian system is a good thing or a bad thing, but after opening night, it's certainly not as bad as I or others feared. I even saw the glimmers of goodness in it all, exemplified in the civility exhibited by players and refs (OK fine, maybe Derek Fisher is just always super civil). I say we should relax and keep an open mind.

Oh, and on a side note: that "relax" goes for Heat fans and haters alike. No one should be doubting, pouting, or jeering after Miami lost to Boston. If anything, that first jump out of the gate proves just how scary good this team will be: they did not play well together, looked disjointed for much of the game, and because they have a player who can take over against any team in the NBA, they rallied to within a couple of buckets in the second half.

That's pretty impressive, except for the fact that they have not one, but TWO players who can do that on any given night. And a third who can do it once in a blue moon, to boot. The Heat's margin for error, therefore, is pretty big. Even if they play badly, they have guys who know how to dominate games and who can and will dominate games. Once this team learns to play together, and they will, rival teams will find their margin for error slim to nothing.

I am not a Heat fan, I'm just saying is all. And I miss howlin' Sheed already, howlin' "Ball don't lie!"

Monday, August 30, 2010

That British Announcer for the FIBA W.Championships

Who is this man? (Quotes from USA v.s. Brazil)

"Whoa! The American's didn't score even though it seemed IMPOSSIBLE for them NOT to!"

"Whatever happens between these two teams...we've been royally treated here today in Istanbul."

[Shot clock starting at 9:59 instead of 10:00] "I hope it doesn't come down to the last second...wait what am I talking about? I hope it does."

"He looked [Splitter] like he'd run out of oxygen...but he found one more."

"Rose lost it!....but he only lost it because Barbosa got a little piece of it..." (Listening to him say "Barbosa", I feel like this is "Pirates of the Caribbean.")

Is it the accent I like then?

"He must have had just a little fear when he heard the whistle 'Hey that better not be on me!'....and it WASN'T."

Final sequence of the game:


Tremendous stuff here. When I first heard this particular announcer I remember thinking how relatively childish he seemed compared to the likes of NBA play by play and color commentators. You know, guys with the slang, the cadence, the Stu Scott, especially the former coaches and players who offer unmatched, elite expertise. THOSE guys know what they're talking about. But within one half of the USA v. Brazil game early this week, those (haughty) thoughts were abandoned and I found myself riveted as much by the announcer's style as the game itself.

He brought passion, knowledge of the game's international players (most of whom I'm sure the domestic guys wouldn't have a clue about in addition to not being able to pronounce names), and some truly admirable lines delivered to enhance the moment in the action. That last bit is reflected in the quotes above, and magnified by the fact that this unnamed Brit (still can't find the chap online) is working the booth alone.

Sometimes he sounded like he was having a conversation with himself, which was quite funny, if unintentional. The man's enthusiasm was absolutely contagious and I quickly found the vocabulary he used to describe the game endearing and nicely contrary to the lines we hear during NBA games. His descriptions of the action were refreshing, colorful, and without a hint of pomposity. Perhaps best of all, there was no lame ribbing of other booth members (also, there were no other booth members), insulting of players, or disdain of the level of play. There's something very pure at work here.

During the very good Lithuania v. Spain contest...I mean game, the American announcer (another mystery man) displayed his kindred spirit. He spoke of Lithunian players Robertas Javtokas, Jonas Maciulius, and Martynas Pocius as if he coached them or knew them through the years. After a rebound and trip to the line for Maciulius, the announcer said "He is a good, good player, he does all the little things." Oh truly? My skepticism wouldn't allow me to believe this without seeing it with my own eyes. As Lithuania was struggling to cut into the Spanish lead( Spain being the most recognizable team in the tournament besides the USA with names like Gasol, Rubio, Fernandez, Garbajosa, and Navarro) the player who "did all the little things" got to the line with gritty drives. OK, so he can do gritty drives.

And then, Maciulius took a hammer, a heavy one, probably steel, and drove the announcer's point home by stripping Rudy Fernandez (he who dunked on Dwight Howard in the Olympics) TWICE IN A ROW and taking it in for TWO TWO-HANDED SLAMS! He pretty much single-handedly made Lithuania's comeback. Naturally, our announcer was going wild.


And again, when Lithuania took the lead.

I love this game.

I love this game. That was THE company line, the slogan, of the NBA a few years back. Let me tell you, it didn't sound one bit contrived coming from the announcer.

Here are true fan of the game, and of the moment, sharing with us their joy. Bonus points for the American announcer's classy ways when, during the nail biting moments at the end of Lithuania v. Spain, the cameras were inexplicably focused on fan reactions when the game was going on. He said something to the effect of: "The camera crew has been great all game long, but let's keep it on the action, please!" Not mean at all.

Maybe it's easy to subconsciously root for the little guys and the underdogs. I'm likely way off base in describing these two announcers with a "blue collar" version of a sports announcer. But the smaller FIBA stage (funny calling the world stage smaller than the national one, but it's absolutely true) has me not only interested, but pretty damn riveted. And while the players and the play are the primary reasons, they are getting an enthusiastic lift from some pretty cool commentary guys.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Black Mamba" versus "Cobra"

In retrospect, Kobe Bryant should have chosen "Cobra" as his handle. Cobras are probably the most notorious venomous snakes in the world. You don't want your nick to be something so specific it borders on obscurity and your average fan will cock an eyebrow at it. You want to choose something a little broader, something that everyone recognizes and associates with deadly-killer-who-strikes-swiftly-and-with-finality (that is what Kobe was going for, right?). Kenny Smith was "The Jet", not "The F-15". Cobras have trademark hoods. Scary. They have rhythm. Beautiful. Black Mamba, on the other hand, sounds a bit feminine.

Now, sound it out. Kobe, Cobra. Cobra Bryant. Kobe "Cobra" Bryant. After he won his 5th championship he could have changed it (in Shaq-style) to be Kobe "King Cobra" Bryant.

No, no adder is as poisonous as a Black Mamba...but come on, what sounds better?

* Apparently Adonal Foyle's nickname was The Cobra. I'm sure Kobe could have taken it like he took the Lakers.

Lebron Spoiling his Family with Front Row Seats

"But I mean, even my family gets spoiled at times watching me doing things that I do, on and off the court."
- Lebron James, GQ Magazine interview

Incredible stuff. If I were to defend his quote...I think Lebron wanted to say that he spoils EVERYONE with his incredible basketball abilities. His ability to shrug his way to a triple double. To drive with the speed of a guard half his size while crushing power forwards and centers with earth shaking force. To shoot, shake, and, *ahem*, crab dribble, his way to seemingly effortless buckets. What Lebron wanted to say was that everyone, even his family, are witnesses. He wanted to take the heat off his quote from late last season. I get it.

What I don't get is the "off the court" stuff. I don't think he's talking about buying homes and cars and better lives for his family and friends, because he specifically uses the verb "watching." What does he spoil them with? Watching him dance? He might be better than Wade and Bosh, but I don't think he's spoiling anyone with his dance moves. He's no Lilou or Hong 10.

His family is spoiled by watching him off the court. What things does he do? Perhaps he's just really good at picking up hot chicks. Maybe it's his looks. Lebron is so funny he spoils them with his jokes? At this point he's much more unintentionally funny with the things that spew from his mouth. He's ripe for a Tracy Morgan spoof on SNL (host it, please!)

I can see him in his mind's room taken physical form, slapping sticky mental notes to the walls. With each *smack* another name is added onto the list, Lebron yelling with the incredulous fury of a schoolyard bully who doesn't understand why teachers, parents, and other kids don't like him. "But I'm the biggest and baddest! I'm a global icon! Lebron James is just doing Lebron and Lebron needs to take his talents to South Beach!"

J.A. Adande of ESPN wrote about Lebron's mental notes and the not so thinly veiled threat they possessed: "What Jordan did do -- and would have done regardless of the era in which he played -- was make good on his threats and hold anyone accountable. Vengeance was his, time and time again. Now that LeBron decided to follow the Jordan route he needs to follow the journey to its natural end point. "

I doubt Mr. Adande truly believes Lebron has it in him. For Lebron, the journey he is taking now isn't natural to him. Jordan was a CCC (Cold Calculated Ciller...errr) since youth. He'd make a list slowly, methodically, and then never, EVER let that name back on his good side again. Lebron is hurt, and vengeful, whereas Jordan has venom running through his veins. I'm not even sure if Jordan had a "good" side in the sense we think is normal. A conversation for another time, but I think the comparisons between the two men really need to stop. Pissed off, feelings-hurt super kid versus wrathful natural assassin. It's like a bull with its balls tied up compared to a...certain kind of snake...hmmm.

On another note Lebron James actually hates Clevelanders, well, a lot of them. ("There's a lot of people in Cleveland we still hate to this day.") Since he "understood a lot of people would be hurt" with his t.v. Decision spectacle, the above quote only affirms his intentions to get back at those he and his crew couldn't stand. Maybe I'm reaching on this one.

The backlash against Gilbert and its coupling with yet another third-person referral ("I don't think he ever cared about Lebron") is understandable. Gilbert deserves James's ire and is waiting for it, while James referring to himself in the third person is OK because that's just what he does. As long as he stops calling himself "King" James. Because a king he is not. He is a duke, riding in with armor and lance to the services of South Beach royalty. He will lend his terrifying blend of speed and brute force to the leader of that team, Dwyane Wade. But just having the most overwhelming blend of talent and physical gifts does not a king make. Nor does a wellspring of hate. MJ may have been the only one true king of the NBA. The closest guy to that moniker in the NBA right now is Kobe Bryant, who's nickname just so happens to be "The Black Mamba".

All hail (insert: revile) Duke James. Being spoiled by watching him no longer refers to the amazing show he puts on, but rather getting caught in the odorous reek of his aura.