Archive for November, 2006

You’ve got something on your face

So the NBA under David Stern is trying to remake its public image, trying to cut down on the thuggishruggishbone perception of the NBA, blah blah blah nothing new there. Some teams (or some coaches, rather) seem to be taking Stern’s directives a bit more seriously than others. Scott Skiles of the Chicago Bulls in particular. A little context first: Skiles is an excellent defensive coach, having coached the Bulls to the best team defense last year, and they’re certainly moving in a similar direction again this season. You would think that the Bulls’ biggest free-agent acquisition and four-time Defensive Player of the Year, Ben Wallace, would be all about Skiles’ style then. Funny what losing can do to a team.

Wallace has been a pretty unhappy camper with the Bulls and their 3-9 start (before last night’s victory over the, snicker, Knicks) and the rumors about Skiles and his starting center being at odds have already begun to circulate. So Wallace, never known for being all that reserved, took it upon himself to exercise some civil disobedience, streetball style. Skiles has this rule forbidding any player in a Bulls uni from wearing a headband. So when Wallace decided to openly defy Skiles’ said team ban one night after he played a season-low 20 minutes and recorded no points and no rebounds in a blowout loss to the 76ers, Wallace was pulled only 2 minutes and 2 seconds after tipoff. When Wallace removed the headband with about two and a half minutes left in the first quarter, Skiles promptly re-entered him into the game, and he played for nearly the rest of the half. When Wallace again slyly slipped the headband back on just before the start of the second half, Skiles again immediately benched him, with Skiles again reinserting him back into the lineup within a minute of the removal of the headband for a second time.

And this is where the Skiles-Stern connection comes in. See, David Stern last year decided to eliminate the brandishing of certain superfluous tights and other miscellaneous game equipment, but he has never issued any edicts against headbands. So maybe I’m reading too much into Skiles’ motives here, but how is one supposed to take such a ridiculous rule? Would Skiles have ever pushed for this kind of team rule, say, five years ago, before Stern took it upon himself to whiten up (excuse me, class up) the NBA? The Bulls have no bad reputation to shed like, say, the Portland Trailblazers, so that can’t be it. Some explanation, any explanation would be nice.

The Bulls’ starting point-guard, Kirk Hinrich, had this to say after the game: “We want to make sure everybody is on the same page. Hopefully we will be.” Listen, I’m all about team coordination. If a player on a team ever put on, say, their road jersey for a home game, well, that’s an NBA faux pas to say the least. If Ricky Davis ever decided to break out some yellow shoes to go along with the Wolves true blue-and-green, well let’s not even go there. But Wallace isn’t an idiot, and his red headband even matched the Bulls’ red-and-black home jerseys quite tastefully. Skiles contributed this valuable post-game input on whether he was worried about the growing rift between him and Wallace: “No, I don’t know why. I’m just not.” Something in me just doesn’t want to believe that crap.

Well here’s some commentary on the matter I can believe, the words spoken from Wallace himself: “Man, I don’t care about that. All I know is we got the win.” Wallace is a gamer, he made his point by wearing the headband AND his team still got the win. Of course, nobody knows now how any of this will play out. Maybe Ben Wallace will come out for the next game wearing, like, three headbands and some anklets, and a red-and-black protective facemask just for the hell of it (thank you very much, Rip Hamilton). Either way, I’m pretty certain the days of seeing Ben Wallace let it all hang out (as pictured below) are well over.

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The NBA can be such a prude sometimes.

 

 

 

BREAKING NEWS!

They say you learn something new every day. Well today I learned that aliens prefer datings humanoids over their own kind. How fascinating! The New York Post reports that Sam Cassell and former MTV VJ Ananda Lewis are, like, totally into each other. Not only that, the two are even good friends with comedy legend Eddie Murphy. Oh, to be a member of high society!

Dime-a-Day has obtained some super-duper exclusive pictures of the happy couple out and about on the town. Here’s a picture of Sammy C just moments after getting off the phone with Ms. Lewis planning their first date. Look at how cute and excited the little guy is:

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Here’s a picture of the happy couple enjoying an intimate moment:

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Uh oh, trouble in paradise?!

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Aww, looks like Ananda and Sam made up! And they’re cuter than ever…

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Congrats to Sam Cassell on his new dating life. We wish him the best of luck in this and all future romantic endeavors.

Bruce Bowen, I’ve got my eyes on you

There was a little bit of a dust-up recently, a bit of a spat between two of the NBA’s top teams, the San Antonio Spurs and the New York Knickeldickels after Isiah Thomas said some mean-spirited things in the general vacinity of one of the Spurs players, which is a pretty big deal. See, a coach addressing a player on an opponent’s roster is generally a no-no. It’s sort of like getting scolded by a friend’s parent when you were little for doing something that was totally ok at your house but not at their’s. Basically, a head coach takes care of their own team and keeps out of the other team’s bidness. So when Isiah Thomas, that peanut of a brain behind the worst-run franchise in the NBA, threatens to break a Spurs player’s neck (maybe he just said foot) amidst a profanity-laden tirade, you know some nasty stuff is probably going down.

The object of Thomas’ fury was of course none other than one of the dirtiest players currently playing the game, Bruce Bowen. Many know Bowen as a perenial All-Defense player who, despite having marginally more talent than your average Greg Buckner, manages to get tons of credit just because he’s played next to one of the best power forwards of all time for almost his entie career (and won some rings in the process). I’m convinced– Bowen has constructed the perfect NBA career. His quiet, workingman’s demeanor has earned him a good guy rep around the league, aided by his penchant for being a total fucking pest on the denfensive end and of course his incredible fortune to have spent the past six seasons in a starting lineup with Tim Duncan. The man was even invited to play for USA Basketball this past spring (nevermind that he was cut from the team by the end of the summer). Under that slick, bald veneer, however, lies a dirty, dirty cheater.

Back to the matters at hand: Isiah Thomas got all in a huff at Bowen because during a recent game, he alledges that Bowen slid his foot underneath Steve Francis while Franchise went up for a jump shot in an effort to take Stevie’s mind off his shot and affect his shot motion. The result? Francis went up for the shot like normal and when gravity acted upon that overhyped, over-the-hill little tweener of a player, causing him to bring all 191 pounds of his tiny frame down on an awkwardly-angled ankle which fell on top of Bowen’s foot, the ankle suffered a sprain and all of a sudden the Knicks are Franchise-less for the next three games (which Isiah Thomas somehow interprets as an actual threat to the Knicks’ chances for success– I know, crazy, right?). Regardless of Francis’ actual worth, when a player suffers a relatively needless injury, it is completely understandable that their head coach feels the need to stand up for them. So when Isiah Thomas thought Bruce Bowen attempted the same foot slide crap as Jamal Crawford went up for a shot in a rematch between the two teams a couple days later, the once-NBA legend went ballistic.

Now, I’m no Isiah Thomas backer. I mean frankly, the man bankrupted the CBA before embarking on two completely inept stints as a GM and coach with the Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers, respectively– not to mention the current pathetic state of the Knicks. In short, the man’s just an idiot. But in this case, he helps illuminate a very valuable point: Bruce Bowen is a dirty, dirty cheater.

Nevermind the fact that some of the NBA’s best players, such as Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, and Vince Carter, have made similar accusations in the past. You can even forget the fact that Bowen considers kumite a useful and legal tactic in guarding certain ex-Twolves players. What can’t be ignored is the call Bowen recently got from Stu Jackson, the NBA’s Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations (aka the rule police) in which Big Stu asked Bowen to watch yo-self in the future. Yep, that’s right, Bruce Bowen: you’re officially on notice. Now besides Rasheed Wallace, how many NBA players can claim they’ve got Stu Stu on their cell phone’s call log?  I mean, how many of the NBA’s “good guys” even receive warnings like this? For anything they do on the court? (Off court activities are exempt from this particular discussion.) How many players have elicited comments such as this from other head coaches in reference to their on-court defensive tactics:

“I’d beat the — out of somebody,” Thomas said Friday. “Really, I would — murder them. … There’s certain things you don’t do.”

Of course, if you still have any doubt about Bowen by this point, you can just watch the clip for yourself.

You are absolved

Sometimes you just really feel like you know someone really well. Like Elton Brand, for example. I knew there was a reason I picked Elton in the first round (seventh overall pick) of my fantasy league’s draft. I mean the guy’s a winner, plays hard and honest every single night, and averages 20.2/10.4/2.6 and 2 blocks a game. That’s exactly the kind of player one wants anchoring their team. So when Brand started the season a bit on the slow side (to the tune of just 15.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game… ok, the 2.3 blocks per game are still nice), I couldn’t help to be but a little bit down in the dumps, a little despondant, a bit disheartened. But more than anything, I was really just confused. But then, Brand reached out right to me in an effort to make amends, via that tramp of a sportswriter, Sam Smith:

Off to a slow scoring start at about 15 per game after playing for USA Basketball, Elton Brand continued to show his concern for the fans. Said Brand: “I feel bad for the fantasy GMs.”

Well you know what Elton, I certainly wouldn’t fault you for devoting your free time this summer to USA Basketball. No, talking smack about our national team is something that is below this particular writer. Well friend, I just can’t fault you for your performance as of yet this season either. It’s obvious this is eating you up as much as me, and the season is still rather young (unless you’re the Memphis Grizzlies, whose season got old and died sometime in training camp). And really, it’s just nice that we’re both committed to this relationship; that is after all the key to long term success. And Elton? Don’t take things so hard. I mean, you’d think that seeing Sam Cassell almost every day over the next 6+ months would signal to you how comic life can really be.

Game For Fools

On Saturday night I saw this man at First Ave, and can now officially proclaim him as the Smoothest Man in the World. Sorry me, you’ll have to be relegated to the two-spot on that list.
Before watching Mr. Smooth do his thing, I watched the Twolves’ try their best to live up to this song of the aforementioned Smoothie in a home game against the up and coming Orlando Magic. Here’s the thing about my beloved Wolves– they’re just not very good. They’ve got some talent, sure, but for the Wolves to play at any level of significant competitiveness, they’ll need to muster up a season of career-type years from at least a handful of their players–not dissimilar from the string of overachievers the Twins sewed together from their feisty little lineup.

Besides the usual [insert any superlative] performance from KG, by my tab not only have we yet to see anything amounting to over-achievement from any of our other starters, but our bench has also been predictably thin and ineffective. There was no local broadcast of the Wolves game on Saturday night, so I had to tune into the Orlando telecast (via League Pass, of course). A more apropos comment regarding our starting point guard has never been made (via the Orlando Magic’s commentators): “Mike James had a good statistical season last year.” The same sentiment can be said for many other players on our team, including our alleged Second Banana, Ricky Davis. Neither player has made any tangible, substantial impact to this team yet, and while the temptation to write it all off on early-season jitters and a roster that’s unfamiliar with each other can be strong, we heard Dwayne Casey make similar half-hearted excuses with the Wolves second-half swoon last season as well, claiming the lack of a training camp hurt the team’s ability to play cohesively.

Speaking of the man who has only one more year of true NBA experience than Craig Smith– while I defended Dwayne Casey for much of last season (I mean what was one to expect from a rookie coach with a thin, relatively talentless roster?) he’s certainly shown little this season to convince anyone that last year was an aberation. How long until more blurbs like this one from the New York Daily News pop up:

Bad omen for Dwane Casey: One Minnesota veteran said the team needs “five balls” and that Casey won’t last the season.”

A couple things: how does something like this break in a New York paper before local ones? Any guesses on which member of our esteemed roster could’ve said this? I’ve got two guesses: Troy Hudson and Troy Hudson.

In other news, my search for a new pair of shoes enters its day somewhere-near-340. The last pair of shoes I bought, my beloved brown-and-orange Adidas, are about to celebrate their first birthday! Kudos to them. Somewhere out there, a little brother pair of shoes is just waiting to join the family. If anyone has any suggestions at all of shoes they think would look good on my feet, please send relevant information my way.

Systems check…

If ever there was an absolutely crucial read for Timberwolves fans, it is this City Pages article.

No matter how this article makes you feel about the state of the T’Wolves as a team or organization, either for what’s happening in the current or any of the myriad blunders in the past, I can say thank god for Britt Robson.  It’s nice to know at least one local writer tries to hold this team and its upper management responsible.

As for the article itself– I still have a sinking feeling that our front office is among the top in the league as far as complete and total ineptitude goes.  This interview certainly doesn’t dispell any of that.  But as far as a step in the right direction, well, some much needed and ovedue transparency is a good start.