Here's a post-Christmas treat. Thank me later.
December 27, 2007
December 21, 2007
Please listen to today's Basketball Jones podcast for nuggets like this:
Tas: Shhhhh...you have the mallows?
Tas: The mallows. Do you have the mallows?
Tas: Yeah, we're gonna roast 'em.
Skeets: Chestnuts, man.
Tas: Yeah, whatever.
December 20, 2007
Race-Off will be a (possibly) regularly occurring thing here on El Blowtorch. Basically, we’ll take a fellow of questionable ethnicity and examine if he’s “white” or “not so much” based on five essential categories.
This past Saturday was December 15th, which means player signed to contracts are now available to be included in trades. One of these players is the Chicago Bulls’ Andres Nocioni who has become a fan favorite in and around the city. Radio shows proclaim him their favorite player, fans grow terrible goatees, and reporters fawn over this Argentinean Shaggy. It isn’t a stretch of the imagination to assume that many white fans are drawn to white players, but being from Argentina, is Nocioni really white?
To the categories:
OUTSIDE SHOOTING – the trademark of the white player
Nocioni is shooting 32% from 3-point range (not in the top 100 in the league), but has still attempted 4.4 per game (30th). Nocioni, in this respect, is a microcosm of the Bulls’ struggles; he thinks he can shoot but, thus far, he cannot.
Verdict: NOT SO MUCH
ASSISTING – another stereotypically white quality
Nocioni currently averages .99 assists and 1.1 turnovers per 40 minutes. Dude DOES NOT pass.
Verdict: NOT SO MUCH
HUSTLE PLAYS – charges taken, diving on the floor, other things you see in Hoosiers
Nocioni is the biggest flopper not named Ginobili or Varejao (another Race-Off candidate). He’s on the ground just about as much as he’s on the court.
COACHABILITY – more of a feel thing than any quantifiable characteristic
Head on over to Blog-A-Bull to read the many exploits of Scott Skiles’ favorite South American! Go there curious and leave depressed!
LOOKS – does the fellow remind you of a white guy?
There we have it – Andres Nocioni, white after all. Carry on supporting him, Most White Bulls Fans!
December 19, 2007
December 14, 2007
December 12, 2007
- I'm now scrawling Suns-oriented silliness over at Born and Raised. Get your blog game on.
- BLOG SHOW, SON. Chicka-chicka-wha??? Peep it! (about the 5 minute mark)
YEAAAAAAAAAAAH! Go get their shirt while the official Blowtorch one is in the works.
December 10, 2007
December 5, 2007
December 4, 2007
December 3, 2007
Atlanta Hawks - realized potential. Also, a new GM.
Boston Celtics - a championship.
Charlotte Bobcats - for all of their players to be as good as they were in college.
Chicago Bulls - the head of Scott Skiles, Tyrus Thomas in the starting line-up, and Joakim Noah on the floor.
Cleveland Cavaliers - that signing Varejao is incentive enough for LeBron to stick around. Oh, and to sign Varejao.
Dallas Mavericks - anything but the Warriors.
Denver Nuggets - more guys with cornrows, headbands, and armsleeves.
Detroit Pistons - a championship.
Golden State Warriors - the Mavericks in every playoff series.
Houston Rockets - they'll tell you a championship, but getting out of the first round would make them happy.
Indiana Pacers - the opportunity to draft Kevin Love.
Los Angeles Clippers - stronger leg ligaments.
Los Angeles Lakers - help for Kobe, so he'll stick around and continue to look good while not winning championships.
Memphis Grizzlies - that this year is Darko's breakout year. Also, more Spaniards.
Miami Heat - 2006.
Milwaukee Bucks - having averted an international disaster, Bucks fans are pretty happy right now. Some bratwurst would be nice though.
Minnesota Timberwolves - to wake up Christmas morning and find out that the Garnett trade was a dream.
New Jersey Nets - that some sucker team decides they want Vince Carter. Or that Vince Carter gets a set of balls for Christmas.
New Orleans Hornets - Chris Paul to stay healthy.
New York Knicks - a new coach, a new GM, a new roster, a championship, and more intern sex. New York fans are greedy.
Orlando Magic - that the team can keep this going.
Philadelphia 76ers - that Iverson dude.
Phoenix Suns - a championship.
Portland Trailblazers - that micro-fracture surgery really isn't anything to worry about.
Sacramento Kings - less ugly players.
San Antonio Spurs - a championship.
Seattle SuperSonics - that this time next year they're still the SEATTLE SuperSonics.
Toronto Raptors - a stronger exchange rate for the US dollar. Also, that Chris Bosh shows some kind of improvement.
Utah Jazz - chest hair trimmer for Carlos Boozer.
November 29, 2007
Seeing is believing
November 28, 2007
-Al Horford looked intimidated by Ben Wallace. Rather than initiating contact like he usually does (and did when Aaron Gray entered the game), Al was drifting away from Wallace on his post shots. It didn't seem as if he was refusing to play a physical and he did grad 14 boards. It was just unusual to see him fading on his shots.
-31 rebounds between Thomas (12), Wallace (12), and Noah (7). I've liked Joe Smith this year, but this should be their big man rotation. Not only does it allow Noah and Thomas to develop, but the three of them complement each other pretty well. They aren't options on offense, but their offensive rebounding (11 combined, which lead to 20 second-chance points) is still a contribution on that end.
-Marvin Williams' head confuses me. When he played at UNC, I thought his head was too big for his body. Now only two years later, it looks tiny compared to the rest of him.
-With 11:00 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter, Hinrich committed his fourth foul and Skiles replaced him with Duhon. He did not make another substitution until Nocioni entered at the start of the 4th period. During this time the Bulls outscored the Hawks 32-19. With three of their four highest paid players on the bench and their coach doing very little coaching (one timeout called). Worth noting.
-Who was the Afro-ed fellow at the end of the Bulls bench in street clothes? Thomas Gardner, I assume.
-It's easy to see why the Bulls drafted Noah. In 17 minutes he had 5 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a block. He does all the things that Skiles wants plus he could eventually become a secondary playmaker for a team that needs as many as they can get. I very much like Joakim Noah and his bonky hair.
-Right now, there is no difference between Tyrus Thomas and Jason Maxiell. They both have no offensive repertoire outside of ferocious dunks, are decent rebounders, and play high-energy games. The discrepancy is that the Pistons are pleased with any contribution that they get from Maxiell while the Bulls are counting on Thomas to be a key component of their team. That sort of thing is the difference between the Pistons and the Bulls. People don't realize (or didn't going in to the season) how much of a chasm there is between those two teams.
-I have a friend that looks almost exactly like Aaron Gray.
November 27, 2007
Surely you are curious how NBA sensation Jamario Moon acquired his most-unusal name. While digging through ancient scrolls, the Blowtorch has uncovered the secret behind this blessed basketball player:
While pregnant, Jamario's mother travelled to the northernmost part of Madagscar. There she encountered a sooth-sayer named Jai-om Maroon. This seer promised great things for her baby, but only if she were to name the baby some combination of his own name.
Jamario's mother, Ruby Thomas, traversed the Eastern Hemisphere searching for inspiration for a name suitable to fulfill the prophecy of Jai-om. Nearing the birth of her son, Ruby had a dream filled with tubes, stars, and letters. Delving further in to the dream Ruby discovered amongst the clouds the juxtaposition she was searching for JAMARIO. Thankfully, paired with the surname of her son's father (John Moon) Ruby would complete the task given to her many months before. It has been said that the number of months that Ruby searched for a name (6) is equal to the number of years that Jamario waited to enter the NBA.
Picture courtesy of Dinosty
November 26, 2007
First and foremost, of course, is the pending move to Oklahoma City. Many vowels and consonants have been spilled analyzing the validity of this move and the implications that it will have, but I don't have the energy or the desire to tackle the various facets necessary to be intelligent about it. I hope the SuperSonics don't move, but they probably will. I imagine Adam Sandler is probably upset that he'll have to change the Hannukah Song.
Second most intriguing is Kevin Durant's rookie season. Once again, this is a story that has been (and will continue to be) covered ad nauseum. He's playing exactly how you'd expect a top-flight rookie to play. At times he's the best player on the court, and at times he looks terrible. He can totally disappear and he can dominate for short stretches. He'll end a 25% shooting night with a 25-foot triple to win the game. Nonetheless, it's impossible to take your eyes off him when he's on the court. I root for him to touch the ball every time down the court, which is the basis for my anger with Damien Wilkins. The way Durant moves around the court is mesmerizing. He doesn't look like he's moving fast at all but he rarely fails to get separation from his defender.
Along these same lines is the viability of Jeff Green. Easily overshadowed by Durant, Green has shown that he too will be a cornerstone of this franchise. Paired together, Durant and Green are fascinating. They're both way too big to handle the ball and create the way they do, but both could serve as the primary playmaker for the team in the future.
Another important development in the the SuperSonic stratosphere is the emergence of Damien Wilkens as an NBA player. Clearly, I'm against this in all shapes and forms. The better that Wilkins gets, the more shots he's going to take, which means Durant and Jeff Green aren't getting touches. Damien Wilkins can be a great defender and I won't dislike him; but if he has the nerve to put up 40 again, I'll have a problem with that. Furthermore, Chris Wilcox confounds me. Was he not supposed to be Amare Stoudemire before Amare Stoudemire? While he's always been great in video games, his flashes of dominance are infuriating. I keep thinking he's going to be a solid contributer but then he ends up getting pulled for Nick Collison. Whatever, Chris Wilcox.
Seattle's point guard situation is kind of awesome too. Delonte "Alien Corpse" West has played far better than Earl Watson, but for some reason, Watson continues to start and get more minutes. He does average a couple of more assists, but he turns the ball over more and is a far worse shooter. Who knows, it's an interesting situation.
Last is the Sonics bench, which is a treasure trove of hilarity. Surely you are familiar with Robert Swift who used to look like this:
and now looks like this:
But were you also aware that the Sonics bench has two Frenchmen (one of whom could legitimately be nicknamed "Jelly Balls") and a Senegalese fellow? All in all, a pretty ragtag bunch of clowns.
Before the season started, I was on the Grizzlies bandwagon but I am now firmly in the SuperSonics camp. And it feels fantastic.
November 21, 2007
November 20, 2007
November 19, 2007
- The Realest
- Baby-faced Assassin
- Rebirth of the Cool
- The Future
- Nicky Barnes
- Maryland's Finest
- Get Money
- Luther Vandross
- Lotta Shots
Personally, I like "The Realest." "Nicky Barnes" is a fun alter-ego though.
UPDATE: Go vote for Kevin Durant's new nickname. It's on the right.
November 16, 2007
November 14, 2007
In the mid 1970's the Lakers made a bizarre uniform choice. Rather than the standard polyester blend uniforms that were de rigueur, the Lakers of Los Angeles chose an unheard of hybrid fabric composed of human chest hair, goat beard, and twine. The fabric, though knobbly1, allowed the Laker players to trap their body heat and save it in mason's jars. This excess body heat was used to incubate up to fourteen dozen eggs that were stored in the Lakers' locker room. These eggs were used for nutrition, a makeshift adhesive, and dye for their home uniforms. Essentially, the Lakers created basketball's first and only self-sufficient uniform.
- Knobbly is a word that has become a part of Lakers lore, much like "forum blue."
November 13, 2007
WERE YOU EVEN MILDLY COGNIZANT OF THIS FACTOID??!?
November 12, 2007
In my case, the thing that most affects my basketball viewing is having played the game. I don't think there is anyway that I can separate my feelings about playing the game and watching the game. Sure, my skill set is a candle in the sun of an NBA player's but I have a hard time separating things that have happened in games that I have played from games that I watch. I can't watch a Seattle game and not see how their point guards play exactly like guys I've played. I can't watch Dirk work in the high post without trying to deconstruct his moves in a manner that will let me incorporate them in to my repertoire.
My NBA mindset has been so irreversibly shaped by the endless hours that I have played (and the players that I have encountered) that it takes a special player or team to truly resonate with me. I love the Suns and the Grizzlies, Gilbert and Kirilenko because they exist beyond the realm of my basketball identity. It's not to say that I've never seen shoot-first points, running teams, or havoc-wreaking defenders, but these entities are pushed so far to the edge of the hoops mindset that I can't take my eyes off them.
Look to the banner above, for the most part the players depicted are wholly unique in the game of basketball. These are the players that transcend everything I think I know about basketball. When I really think about it, Michael Jordan is the reason that I don't have a particular affinity for guys like LeBron and Dwyane Wade. I've seen guards with an unsatiable desire to win carry their team. What I haven't seen is a 7'3" guy with the passing skills of Mark Jackson. I'd never seen a big guy like Big Smooth stretch the defenses. Of course, my fundamentals-based basketball education will lead me to players like Duncan and Noah. Guys who do what you're "supposed" to do on the court.
Certainly I'm not the first person to be drawn to things they can never understand. But I know that there has to be a reason that this is so often the case. I'll never be able to grasp every thread of fabric in the NBA tapestry, but knowing that there is always something new to unravel is the best part of this thing of ours.
November 8, 2007
Joel Anthony - Wikipedia entry is exactly one sentence long.
Earl Barron - though his name is composed of two different British royalties, is neither an Earl nor a Baron.
Ricky Davis - this fiasco:
Anfernee Hardaway - remember when Penny used to do this?
Now, it's kind of hard to even call him "Penny." He scored his first basket in 2 YEARS the other night. Probably the most depressing player in the NBA to see on the floor.
Udonis Haslem - just looks like a sad guy in general.
Alonzo Mourning - used to be one of the most fearsome centers in the NBA. Now he pretty much just flexes and looks intense.
Shaquille O'Neal - there is a myriad of reasons why Shaq saddens me. He scored single figures in back-to-back games. He weighs about 900 pounds. He can't finish around the basket. He plays 2/3rds of the season. Pretty much the only redeeming quality is that he grew a pretty great beard.
Smush Parker - relatively speaking, he's a terrible basketball player.
Dwyane Wade - easily breakable.
Jason Williams - has been neutered since coming over from Memphis. What happened to this?
After last night's Spurs debacle, I don't think I'll be able to watch any Heat games this year. Maybe when Flash comes back they'll be somewhat decent, but for now, they really, really make me sad.
November 6, 2007
- Zydrunas Ilgauskas: "Winged Pig Hoof"
- Predrag Stojakovic: "Corpse of 1000 Sunflowers"
- Sasha Vujacic: "Itascan Sauce Overlord"
- Gordon Giricek: "Man of Many Pants"
- Hidayet Turkoglu: "Stabby McKnife"
DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THESE TRANSLATIONS??
November 5, 2007
Did you know that Juwan Howard once enjoyed a 9 hour meal at Old Country Buffet?
During the Great Tomato Freeze of 1998, Howard felt the need to enjoy a plate of lasagna. Knowing that tomatos could not be purchased at local grocers in the greater Washington D.C. area, Juwan purchased a ticket to the buffet so he could enjoy his lasagna.
Howard would stay at the restaurant for an entire 9 hours while consuming the following food items:
- 13 plates of lasagna
- a salad consisting of lettuce, sesame seeds and thousand island dressing
- 4 cups of red jello
- 29 glasses of chocolate milk
- 1 chocolate chip cookie
WERE YOU EVEN AWARE OF THIS FACT?
November 2, 2007
The point guard position for the Seattle SuperSonics is kind of hilarious. Every guy that gets burn looks like the kind of guy that plays in every open gym across America. And the things that's even funnier is that they play like the guy they look like! Here are their PGs:
First things first, dude looks like every ethnicity rolled in to one. He's got a Cholo mustache. He is vaguely Asian. And I'm pretty sure he's actually Black. It's intriguing. Second things second, you've played with Earl Watson. He's that guard that handles the ball really well but never really goes anywhere with it. He'll throw some pretty passes, but ultimately, he's just a place holder. He can't finish around the cup and he's not an impact defender. And of course his name is Earl Watson, but he doesn't live in early 1900s Great Britain, EXPLAIN THAT.
There was this guy I used to play with that me and my buddy Bonesaw called Socks. He always wore his socks jacked up to his knees (CLEVER, RIGHT?), he only used one of his hands, and he shot every time he touched the ball. For the most part, he went to the rack but he wasn't against shooting some ill-advised threes. Essentially, he's Delonte West. Except Socks didn't look like a tattooed alien corpse with an STD from some nasty girl.
Guaranteed Lukey R. can tell you all about the new MF Doom or Talib joint. Don't tell me he wouldn't join a "Legalize It!" Facebook group and listen to underground hip-hop.
November 1, 2007
Here's my well researched and very in-depth case against Damien Wilkins:
- I watched the SuperSonics game last night, and for a good stretch of the 2nd and 3rd quarter, every one of his passes was tipped or stolen.
- Name should be spelled DamiAn and not DamiEn.
- Didn't pass the ball to Durant or Green every chance he got. He's stunting their development!
- He's not even the good Wilkins' (Dominique) son. Furthermore, he does not have a hightop fade; blasphemy in the Wilkins family.
- Has a mustache that isn't very cool.
- Played for NC State and University of Georgia. Pick a red and white team and stick with it.
DAMIEN WILKINS IS MY LEAST FAVORITE NBA PLAYER!
Consider it declared.
October 31, 2007
Hi there, old friends. It is me, Shane Battier.
Hardy har, do not be facetious. Of course I have not passed away. But that is quite the wisecrack that you have made. However, I have relocated from the City of Memphis Grizzlies basketball club to my new locale in the beautiful City of Houston in the heart of Texas. I was traded prior to last year's competitive basketball campaign, but if you have been preoccupied with other priorities, you may have missed this relatively unimportant move. I understand completely and am glad that you now have all the facts.
What a barnburner of a match that was last night?! How embarrasing for us, the Houston Rockets basketball team, to nearly relinquish our entire lead in the last one and one half minutes! Nonetheless, through perserverance, mental acuity, and cooperative teamwork we were able to overcome our notable foe, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Aw shucks, I suppose that I did make the game winning shot, but believe me, without the full support of the entire Houston Rockets organization I would not have had the opportunity to aid in our victory. And thank you for mentioning that my foul of Mr. Kobe Bryant was an intelligent play. Not to be a braggart, but I did graduate from prestigious Duke University as a religion major; and though boastfulness is looked down upon in the Good Book, it is one of my proudest accomplishments.
Nonetheless, I, along with the City of Houston and the entire Houston Rockets basketball club staff, thank you for your consideration in watching our squad perform. The NBA is essentially entertainment for a mass audience and any additional happiness that I can help to provide delights me. Winning basketball games is a grand time, but touching the hearts of our most ardent advocates really tickles me.
This message provided by Battier for Senate 2015.
October 30, 2007
Portland at San Antonio
It is curious that the Blazers have a horde of point guards who have two first names: Brandon Roy, Jarret Jack, Steve Blake. For a team owned by a guy named Paul Allen, this makes sense. Tonight, they face the reigning champion Spurs in a battle of teams that will be hard to watch this year.
BASELESS PREDICTION: Brent Barry makes 2 three pointers then smokes an entire pack of clove cigarettes on his drive home.
Houston at Los Angeles Lakers
Both teams miss Robert Horry since they haven't won a title since he left. Both teams also miss Glen Rice, but that's just because he looks like Tony Gwynn.
BASELESS PREDICTION: Phil Jackson enjoys a honeycrisp apple at halftime.
Utah at Golden State
I imagine that trips to California are when Andrei Kirilenko cashes in on his once a year indulgence.
BASELESS PREDICTION: Carlos Boozer's armpit hair terrifies children in the stands and watching at home.
October 29, 2007
A player that I am embarrassed to like? Hmm… (thinking… thinking… ow ow OW, using the brain [term for sexing] hurts!) Okay, well, there’s no easy way to preface the answer so I’ll just come right out and say it: RICK FOX.
Hey don’t judge me, this is like Taxicab Confessions right? I’m pouring my pervy little heart out here. Rick Fox’s allure is not so much his style of play or his highlight reels… because well, there aren’t any... I mean it, can you think of The Defining Rick Fox play? He only really mattered when the Lakers needed to be up 15pts in the 3rd quarter instead of 13pts during those championship runs. Other than that, his game is not memorable at all.
He is the role player to the fullest and somehow I chose to like him. My reasoning is all over the place and has little to do with actual gameplay, but hopefully you’ll follow the ride:
Rick Fox is “Canadian.”
At this very moment, you’re probably saying, “Why the quote-unquote “quotes” around Canadian” (while doing an air quotes).Well, he’s as much Canadian as I am from the Bahamas. I’m not by the way. Sure he played on the national team in ’94 alongside an alley-oop happy Steve Nash (I think he’s #7?) Yet he doesn’t quite exude the northern country’s je ne sais quoi qualities that just comes natural to Todd McCullough. But you know what? The 2000-2003 Howie Era didn’t care, all he thought was: “Hey Rick Fox is from Canuckistans? Awesometown!” His name would be rattled off during high school ball practices when we have silly dreams of the league and/or Angelina Jolie. Which actually brings me to the next reasoning:
Rick Fox was once married to Vanessa friggin’ Williams.
You may not agree with me that Eraser is the greatest love story of our generation, but you’ll surely give me that Ms. Williams was hotter than Hades during her prime. And Ricky Fox married her. I don’t think this part needs any more discussion.
Rick Fox is in He Got Game.
AKA the LeBron James Prophecy. He didn’t just have a walking cameo in this movie (um…even though in that clip…he’s…walking. Shut up.) Rick actually had a big plot line in a Spike Lee
bong Joint showcasing his chauvinist pig side. You knew he took acting serious man. Which makes him stand out from all the other casual athlete-actors (sorry Ray Allen, your downfall was Harvard Man. Terrible, terrible movie) Ricky is in it for the thespian craft yo.
Rick Fox’s teeth.
Seriously, that thing has a life of its own. I think it can light up Cambodian villages for an entire year. There’s something disarming about a set of teeth so perfect and sharp that I must acknowledge it as the reason I’m embarrassed to confess to like the guy. In fact, I may be starting to confess to something else entirely here. No H.M.!
Rick Fox can play.
As a Laker (never saw him in Boston, so as far as I’m concerned, it never happened), with the luxury of Kobe, Shaq, Fisher, Ron Harper and Phil Jackson, Rick did pretty well for himself. In fact, I’d argue he played the best because he knew just what the team needed out of him (a random clutch 3 pointer here, a drive and dunk there) and made sure to do his part to the max. Sure anyone can fill his role, but he did all that WHILE BEING MARRIED TO VANESSA WILLIAMS.
I rest my case your honor Goathair.
While we’re confessing things: First pic photoshop idea copped from random, but hilarious Kings forum thread dedicated to Mr. Fox (the fan base is stronger than I thought…)
October 25, 2007
What’s up? Thanks to The Blowtorch for putting me on.
So when Goathair asked me to write about the NBA player I’m most embarrassed to find myself rooting for, my first instinct was “Who is the worst player I’ve rooted for?” I quickly decided it was Zendon Hamilton.
Good old Zendon was a star at St.John’s, alongside another one of my favorite scrubs of all time, Felipe Lopez. I rooted for Felipe because he was supposed to be the Latino Jordan; soon I would find myself rooting for Zendon. He reminded me of my own basketball style, if I had one – a lanky, tall, left-handed guy who drew a lot of fouls because of his awkward delivery. A lot of fouls. About 10 FTAs a game, and I’m fairly certain that by the end of his four years at St. John’s he was #1 in Big East history (or pretty close to it) in free throws attempted.
But then I realized something… I’m not embarrassed to have rooted for Zendon. So I had to think harder, and the question became tougher to answer.
I asked Canadian DJM for some help.
“Who was the most embarrassing player you ever rooted for, DJM?”
Hard to argue with him. So I thought about the scrubs that I’ve rooted for over the years just because they were wearing the Knick uniform.
“You root for the Knicks,” DJM tells me. “You shouldn’t have a hard time finding someone embarrassing that you cheer for!”
Perhaps. But the truth is I’m not embarrassed that I root for these guys. Maybe I should be, but I’m not. My boy E-Wonder suggested a great one, though:
“Kiki Vandeweghe. I used to love him when he was on Denver, dropping 25 ppg. Then he came to the Knicks and just sucked.”
Yeah. I rooted for him, too. Enough that I could spell his last name right, without looking it up. But he was injured. You can’t blame me for rooting for him, after all he was doing in Denver, right? So why should I have been embarrassed… I had good reason to believe in him. Plus I was really hoping he would take Scott Layden’s place as GM.
Sometimes you over-think things. I relaxed a bit, and mediated on the players that I had no business rooting for. Usually if I’m rooting for a non-Knicks, it’s because he’s either a fantasy star for me, or a NBA Live star for me. An example of the latter would be Bryan “Big Country” Reeves, who never did anything of note in the NBA, but who I will always remember for his NBA Live 95 (or whatever year it was) prowess. And then answer came to me:
Air Pussy! Of course.
Every year in my fantasy league, I get “stuck” with Vince Carter. Half of my league hates him so much they won’t draft or trade for him, even for cheap. The other half of the league is aware of this, and so that deflates his trade value, which in turn means they don’t want to get stuck with him. So I end up taking him every season. And rooting for him.
But you know what? Over the years I’ve become a fan of Vince Carter. He’s progressed from an exciting player who could dunk over anyone (even a 7’2 Frenchman), a player who held the promise of being the next Jordan so tantalizingly close to his hands… to becoming the player who is now, a forgotten star, even on his own team at times. Yet I like him more now than ever.
He’s a psychological anomaly in the NBA. He’s truly inexplicable. Some nights he’ll just give up, and walk off the court with an injury or something, showing absolutely no toughness. Of course he’s embarrassing to root for… he’s Air Pussy!
But he’s also prone to displaying that great potential, sometimes at the most random times. He’s almost completely random in terms of when he chooses to step up, and when he chooses to quit. You can’t predict him. I’ve been following him on a daily basis for five years now, and he’s numbers… well, you never know with Vince. At one point this season he will go on one of his tears, and drop like 30 points for 5 straight games, while shooting over 45% from the field, driving enough to go to the line about 10 times a game, and picking up around 10 boards and 5 assists. He will, guaranteed.
And at some point this season he’ll literally limp off the court with a sprained uterus. He undoubtedly will.
And I won’t care. Because when he’s on, he’s the most exciting player in the game, the only one who can compare to Kobe. He can score from anywhere on the court, can shoot over a double team, with limitless range. Or he take it in hard and absorb the contact, and still hang in the air long enough to finish the play. He can rise above it all.
And I will be rooting for him all season long. Even if I should be ashamed.
October 24, 2007
October 22, 2007
Let me finish before you judge me. And before we get started, just know that I am well aware that it's embarrassing to admit that Keith Van Horn is, or was, your favorite basketball player. Nonetheless, I feel like there is some merit to liking a dude who is considered one of the softest guys to play in the NBA.
To understand my Keith Van Horn admiration, you have to remember that Utah was awesome for a couple of years during the Van Horn/Andre Miller/Hanno Mottola era. Largely due to Van Horn, the Utes advanced to the Elite Eight in 1997 after reaching the Sweet Sixteen and second round the two previous years. Van Horn was stellar during these tournaments; and since Utah was actually decent, they were on TV quite a bit which lead to a certain familiarity. It was that fall that Van Horn would be entering the NBA and I would be starting high school.
Van Horn's rookie season was exactly what is to be expected from the number 2 overall pick. Van Horn averaged 19 points and 6 rebounds a game, good enough for a spot on the All-Rookie first team. Furthermore, Van Horn was a part of the New Jersey Nets nucleus that some people were excited about. Alongside SamCassell and Kerry Kittles, there was a definite future in New Jersey. It was also at this time that I had my big growth spurt; growing from 5'9" to 6'2" in one summer. As a result, I was a "big guy 1" with moderate passing and ball-handling skills.
Being a tallish, 14-year old white kid who liked passing and outside shooting, Van Horn was a natural fit. More so than any player I knew at that time, Van Horn had a game that I could relate to. It was fascinating to see him getting the ball on the perimeter and creating, rather than down low banging like most power forwards. To this day, I'd say my game resembles 1999 Keith Van Horn more than any other player2. While averaging a shade over 21 ppg and 8.5 rebounds, Keith Van Horn was a future star of the league. Someone I could model my game after. Plus, he wore tall socks, which seemed like the coolest thing in the history of the world when I was 14.
But it was not meant to be. Van Horn would post similar numbers for the next two seasons but he could never adjust his game to Stephon Marbury. Soon he would be shipped to the 76ers to become the latest in a long line of Allen Iverson's failed second bananas. When that happened, I lost faith. If he couldn't work with Marbury, he surely couldn't work with Iverson. After a season there, Van Horn was moved again and I couldn't have cared less3. The late-90s Nets (and Van Horn) were the first team that I had really chosen and their dismantling was a disappointment.
Looking back, maybe Keith Van Horn suffered from being American. Were he a foreign player, maybe teams would have expected him to not play defense and be soft on the boards but that's speculation. However, I know that my devotion to Keith Van Horn is what has fueled my affinity towards Euros today. In fact, for my basketball development, KVH served a purpose. Though he certainly wasn't the first big guy to be outside4 doing things normally reserved for guards, he was the first that I could call my own. In the grand scheme of NBA lore, Van Horn isn't revolutionary, notable, or important; but when I can see traces of what I liked about him in my favorite players now, I know that what I felt meant something.
- Playing at a small high school, a 6'2" sophomore is center material.
- Other viable comparisons: Boston Celtics era Antoine Walker, Chicago Bulls era Brad Miller
- Most depressing was his season and a half with Dallas. He was Nowitzki before Nowitzki.
- Or even of his generation. KG, Dirk, etc.
October 19, 2007
October 17, 2007
Kobe Bryant: You appreciate greatness and won't take no for an answer. You also are likely a control freak and won't stand for incompetence around you. When push comes to shove, you know that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.
Shaquille O'neal: You haven't watched the NBA in 6 years.
Tim Duncan: Not only do you value fundamentals above style and personality, you also feel that winning is the most fun you can have. Your wardrobe consists of dark dress pants and white or blue shirts. Your favorite food is peanut butter and grape jelly, but when you're feeling a little bit crazy, you'll switch to strawberry jam.
Steve Nash: You value creativity, imaginative play, selflessness, and artistic basketball. Also, you are white.
Gilbert Arenas: You read basketball blogs.
Lebron James: You know you're destined for great things because people have been telling you so for years. You feel that you've been trapped in a familiar place for so long that you can't wait to experience what other places have to offer.
Kevin Garnett: Similar to the Lebron James Fan. For years you have been trapped in a going nowhere situation but your loyalty has paid off. Now you're somewhere where great things can happen! Beware Kevin Garnett Fan for the Allen Iverson Fan was right where you are a short time ago.
Dwyane Wade: The Dwyane Wade Fan avoids conflict at all costs; because, really, who doesn't like Dwyane Wade at least a little bit? The Dwyane Wade Fan refuses to use spell check.
Dirk Nowitski: You, Dirk Nowitski Fan, are quite the frustration. You do a wonderful job throughout a task, but when it comes to completion, you're nowhere to be found. Nonetheless, you're a pretty funny person even though you aren't necessarily trying. The Dirk Nowitski Fan can often be found with the Steve Nash Fan, resulting in wonderful pictures.
Anyone on the Knicks: You're a glutton for punishment and probably have a lot of misguided anger. It's also highly likely that you do not manage money very well.