Friday, January 25, 2008

YouTube of the Day: Steve Nash is looking for Robert Horry

YouTube of the Day: Steve Nash is looking for Robert Horry

We ran into this first clip a few days ago, hilarious in its brevity, poignancy, and absurdity (why was Steve Nash wandering around the set of the Tim and Eric Show in basketball shorts and hockey gear?).

Yesterday, after seeing the finished product, the first clip makes a little more sense. A little.

Related clips:

*Steve has milk.
*Steve has game.

The 10-man rotation, starring Vlade, who likes to party
A look around the league and the web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out.

C: Ball in Europe. Summing up European basketball, in just one word. Is "fancypants" one word or two?
PF: Hardwood Paroxysm. Saying something nice about Vince Carter after saying some horrible things about Vince Carter first. Works for me.
SF: Los Angeles Times. Tex Winter's annual rant about the offense he created, and how these punk kids are screwing it up. Via Forum Blue and Gold.
SG: Memphis Commercial Appeal. Damon Stoudamire (or, more specifically, "Damon Stoudamire's agent") doesn't want to give money back to the Grizzlies, which is why he's still a Memphis Grizzliean.
PG: New York Sun. John Hollinger on the Nets who are exactly who he thought they were. Dig?
6th: Sactown Royalty. Tom Ziller on the Sacramento Kings' first half. Includes some pretty choice and poignant moments, including the preseason that saw Brad Miller assuming that braids were a good idea.
7th: The Atlantic. Matthew Yglesias on the Ben Wallace vs. Joakim Noah conundrum. Did I just write "conundrum?" It's not a conundrum. There is no confusion. Noah is better, already. Play him. Via Thank You Isiah.
8th: The New York Knicks are -155 combined in first quarters this season, and -2 in fourth quarters. Wow. Give it up for Isiah: he knows to put his best players on the floor in the fourth. Give it up for Isiah: he's a horrible GM and coach who signs and trades for crummy players and gives them the starting job.�
9th: Beyond the Arc. The midseason report for my favorite team that is really, really terrible right now (your Memphis Grizzlies).
10th: Salt Lake Tribune. The Jazz at crossroads. My take? Stop standing in the middle of an intersection and start playing some bloody defense.

Announcer says what? Reggie Miller takes the mic
All cobbled from last night's Warrior win.�

On Lawrence Frank:

"The first player to go is usually the coach."

After Mike Fratello took issue with a long-winded Miller contention that is too ludicrous to repeat here, Miller replied with:

"We're not here for lollipop and kisses."

On Josh Boone's touch from the free throw line:

"What's funny, looking at his free throw stroke, [and] being a shooter myself, it looks really good.� His mechanics are good, his follow-through is good.� Now I'm just wondering if it's a matter of mechanics."

Or the follow-through, even.

Then there's this back and forth between Marv Albert and Reggie, after Albert brought up Kiki Vandeweghe's tutelage of Boone:�

Marv: "Kiki was a terrific FT shooter in his career."

Reg: "Yes, he was. Terrific scorer, shooter, everything."

Eh, let's just stick with "terrific scorer, shooter." Anything beyond that left a little to be desired.

Finally, after Monta Ellis made a driving layup:�

"Without the pity-pack and the dribbling, he's exactly like Dwyane Wade."

What the hell is a "pity-pack," and where can I get one?

Whaddayouthink: testing NBA players for marijuana use
We're not going to get into a debate regarding whether marijuana should either be legalized, or remain verboten. That's for another time, another space, and for the ears of another government who doesn't want to listen to the debate anyway. Maaaan.

What is worth discussing is the NBA's role in policing the lives of its employees, namely, subjecting its players to random tests for recreational drugs like marijuana, a narcotic that hardly offers any benefits for its users in terms of athletic performance.

David Harrison, a sometimes-motivated backup center for the Indiana Pacers (cruel to point out in light of this, but it is the truth) was suspended for testing positive for smoking marijuana two weeks ago. It was his third offense, which leads to an automatic five-game suspension. Upon returning to the team yesterday, Harrison had this to say to Indianapolis Star NBA scribe, Mark Montieth:

"I don't understand how they have a right to look into our lives on any level besides performance-enhancing drugs. It's not a rule made by government and it's not a rule made by God; it's made by an organization (the NBA). I guess they feel it will benefit that organization."

Well, as Tom Ziller pointed out yesterday, "it" (toking up) is a "rule made by government," whether you believe it unfair or not. What Harrison takes offense to is the NBA's testing for drugs that - for all intents and purposes - has little bearing on what actually happens in the basketball court.

And, to be fair, he's right: lesser of many evils here, but I'm sure NBA teams would much prefer their players to soothe aching joints while trying to come down after an NBA game at night with a spliff and a spirited bout of Madden '07; as opposed to chugging away at their local, or partaking in other powdery things.

But it's still illegal. And for a league that has no legal right to search into whether or not their players are engaging in huge gobs of illegal betting, pitting canines against each other, or bootlegging Doobie Brother CDs into China, it's the least they can do. And they'll do it: especially after the players union that Harrison is a part of collectively bargains drug testing into its labor agreement with the league.

Harrison's not done talking, though. Indy Cornrows came across a radio interview David participated in yesterday on 1070 AM. Here's a link to the mp3 of the back-and-forth.

Two things to take from it: David is very intelligent, quite lucid, and quite articulate; and not just by NBA standards. To pull this sort of conversation out of his noggin, early in the morning and in a Milwaukee hotel room ... very impressive. Take it from someone who has failed miserably to articulate much simpler topics over radio interviews, after the benefits of half a quart of iced tea.

Secondly, David's a little ticked. He's obviously gone over the subject in his head hundreds of times, whether he's creating strawmen to make himself feel better about partaking in what is still an illegal activity, to questioning the inherent hypocrisy in limiting certain forms of un-taxable recreations while pharmaceutical companies, breweries, distilleries, and tobacco companies rake in trillions.

But it's still illegal. And it isn't David's right to play NBA basketball and smoke weed occasionally.

By now you've accurately guessed that I don't think smoking the drug occasionally (or, let's face it, more often than that) is anywhere close to what I would term "a bad thing."

That said, there are dozens of pro basketball leagues both here and abroad that would allow David to ply his trade for a living while passing over the idea of testing for pot. And just because he disagrees with his current union on the drug testing format they bargained around and signed off on, it doesn't mean he's allowed to be the exception to the rule. Stinks, I submit, but it is how things work (or, "don't work") sometimes. �

So listen to the interview. Give Indy Cornrows' site a read, and go over Tom's take on the issue. And let us know how you feel.

Behind the boxscore: where Kidd doesn't want to play
Golden State 121, New Jersey 119

A strange, compelling game. Both teams seemed to save their best for when the other team was slumping, so this was a game of runs that ended with the Warriors dropping a 39-point fourth quarter after a 22-0 burst.

In the third quarter of the contest, Warriors coach Don Nelson decided to sic overmatched rookie Marco Belinelli on New Jersey's Josh Boone, who was shooting a miserable 34 percent from the line entering Thursday night. Belinelli fouled Boone four times in just over a minute's play, but Boone (7-15 from the line) didn't fall apart, and the Nets made a little mini-run during the Hack-a-Boone stratagem. ��

It makes sense to give this strategy a try, even if a poor free throw shooter improves his mark by hitting something like 6-14 from the line, that's still six points on seven possessions, and that's pretty lousy.

That said, it never worked against Shaq, it didn't work against Dennis Rodman, it didn't work a few years ago for the Clippers when they hacked Ben Wallace, and it didn't work tonight in spite of the Golden State win. I don't think Belinelli is long for the NBA, he's not a good enough shooter and it was a reach to select him with a first round pick, but what are you doing to a kid's confidence when his only notable role of the season is to act like Bubba Wells?�

Even worse, in spite of all the Boone misses, the strategy destroyed Golden State's transition game. Even long free throw misses do next-to nothing to aid easy transition buckets, and that's where the Warriors thrive.

I don't mind the strategy, it is Boone's fault for entering the game with a 34 percent mark from the line, and I don't blame Nellie. I just never like the results.�

Beyond that, we got the best (attacking the rim and using his length and touch to roll in tough hoops) and worst (passing on a dunk in a 2-on-1 break, not even looking at Jason Kidd during one back-door play that would have resulted in an easy alley-oop off a Kidd dime) of Vince Carter, Baron Davis (25 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, five steals, just two turnovers) and Richard Jefferson (34 points, nine assists) were fantastic, and the game was a lot more entertaining that we anticipated.

*San Francisco Chronicle: "It was a great game," fourth-quarter hero Al Harrington said. "I was telling Baron in the back, I know TNT and ESPN are saying we got to get the Warriors on TV more. We've got to be the most entertaining team to watch."
*Nets Blast. "We don't know any other way to put this, so we'll just come right out with it: Kidd doesn't look like he wants to play."

San Antonio 90, Miami 89

What if you flipped a coin 15 times, and it came up tails every time? To me, the Miami Heat feel like a team that comes up on the wrong end of a coin flip every time out, to the tune of 15 straight losses.�

I'm not going to say that the Heat should be a .500 team, or that they should be winning half of the games in this losing streak. The team's point differential is in the negative double-figures in these losses, and even taking away blowout losses to the Hornets and Bulls, Miami is still getting beaten by an average of 8.2 points per game during the streak.

And yet, a bunch of these games could have gone either way in the fourth quarter, and usually (historically, even for the worst teams) this means an even split in the close ones.�

It's not happening for the Heat. Pat Riley looked all the part of a choked-up lion in winter last night, spitting into the wind with a roster that can't seem to put it all together for 48 minutes. The Spurs didn't play their best game, but they hung around and made the stops when it had to - the Heat only managed 17 fourth quarter points.

*Miami Sun-Sentinel. "Sign of the times: Dorell Wright and Haslem battle for a first-quarter defensive rebound and tip it into the basket. Spurs forward Fabricio Oberto was credit for the basket actually tipped in by Wright, for being the Spur closest to the play." Ouch. An own-goal in a one-point game.
*San Antonio Express-News. "I thought it showed a lot of character to come in here under the circumstances and play like we did," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I thought we might be out of gas, but we weren't."

Milwaukee 104, Indiana 92

I was blacked out of this one.

*Indianapolis Star. "O'Brien pointed to his bench as a possible reason for his team's inferior shooting. With Marquis Daniels, Troy Murphy, Shawne Williams and Andre Owens combining to hit just 4-of-21 shots, O'Brien felt obligated to go longer with his starters despite the fact they were playing the second game of a back-to-back set."
*Brew Hoop. "It's pretty rare that the Bucks rack up 30 assists in one night, but to complement it with only nine turnovers makes it extra impressive. Overall the Bucks showed great unselfishness in the first half, driving, kicking and consistently making the extra pass for great looks from the perimeter. They didn't always go in, but everyone was involved and the tone was set. In the second half we even saw a rare alley oop pass from from Mo Williams, with Bogut on the receiving end."
*Indy Cornrows. "I had to laugh toward the end of the broadcast tonight when Chris Denari and Clark Kellogg were trying to grasp for a positive spin to put on things, and Denari referred to the Pacers as "Slump Busters" based on the huge games they brought out of the struggling Bulls and Bucks. He was trying to make it sound like the Pacers were simply unlucky to run into these struggling teams on a night when they put it all together. I'd say luck was less a factor than friendly defensive pressure by the Pacers."

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