Friday, February 29, 2008

The end must be near...Knicks fans rejoice!




Story Bottom

February 29, 2008 -- Stephon Marbury has been instructed by Isiah Thomas not to attend Knicks home games - another indication of the continuing feud between the former pals, The Post has learned.

According to a Marbury confidant, the embattled point guard is under a gag order by Knicks management, forbidding him from speaking to the media. Marbury has not commented since his Jan. 22 ankle surgery. "They've got a muzzle on him," the confidant said.

Marbury began rehab 11 days ago at the club's Westchester practice facility, and he has wanted to join the club on the home bench at the Garden since the All-Star break, according to the friend. Marbury is one of three captains, along with Jamal Crawford and Malik Rose.

Thomas disrespected Marbury on Wednesday night when he talked about next season's backcourt and did not mention Marbury. Thomas said the Knicks need to add a point guard to next season's club, saying Nate Robinson, Jamal Crawford and Fred Jones need help with ballhandling.

Thomas was given two chances to correct himself, but declined to add Marbury to next season's point-guard mix. Marbury still has one year left and $21 million on his pact - a valuable commodity for a team looking to get under the salary cap after the 2008-09 season.

Marbury has not attended a Knicks game since they faced the Nets at the Meadowlands Jan. 16 as he awaited word on his MRI. When surgery became more involved than anticipated - seven bone fragments were removed in a two-hour procedure - Marbury was not fit to attend games in the two weeks following the operation as he was on heavy pain medication. But now, the friend said, he's ready to cheer on the club from the bench. The Post has reported Marbury is out for the season, though the Knicks won't acknowledge it.

"He's going to practice all the time, rehabbing, interacting, watching games on TV at home," Robinson said. "He supports us 100 percent."

That Marbury has been instructed not to travel with the club makes sense because it could interfere with rehab. But Marbury, the friend said, doesn't understand why he can't go to home games.

Insiders believe Thomas feels Marbury cost the Knicks the season by rebelling so strongly in November when the coach looked to remove Marbury from the starting lineup after five games. Marbury's bolting of Phoenix fractured the locker room. Thomas also resents Marbury for having surgery instead of trying to postpone it. "It was very bad timing for the team," the friend said, "but it had to be done."

Thomas said Wednesday if Marbury had the season he did in 2006-07, the Knicks "would've won five, six more games and we'd be right in the thick of things."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wow...when simulations and safety checks go to far...

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. — Elizabeth City State University is offering counseling to faculty and students after some became unknowing participants in an emergency response drill.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported in Wednesday's editions that an armed man burst into a classroom Friday, threatening to kill students. The drill came eight days after a gunman killed five people and himself in a classroom at Northern Illinois University.

Anthony Brown, vice chancellor of student affairs, said ECSU was testing its response to such shootings. E-mail and text messages were sent five days before the drill, notifying students, staff and faculty, he said.

"The intent was not to frighten them but to test our system and also to test the response of the security that was on campus and the people that were notified," Brown said.

But not everyone got the word, including assistant professor Jingbin Wang, whose American foreign policy class was held hostage.

"I was prepared to die at that moment," Wang said Tuesday of the moment the gunman entered the room.

At 1:31 p.m. Friday, e-mail and text messages were sent, saying: "This is a test. ECSU is holding a test drill where an armed intruder will enter a room in Moore Hall and be detained by campus police."

The campus police officer who played the role of the intruder carried a red plastic model gun, the school said in a news release.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Wang said the man came to the door and said he wanted to talk. "Suddenly the man pointed the gun at me," he said, adding that he didn't have time to consider whether the gun was real.

The seven students were lined up against the wall, and the intruder threatened to kill the one with the lowest grade point average. Wang said the man told them that he had been kicked out of school and that he needed a lung transplant.

After about 10 minutes, campus police ended the drill by subduing the man.

In April, 32 students at Virginia Tech were killed by student gunman Seung-Hui Cho. That shooting has led schools to examine their emergency plans and conduct safety drills.

For example, UNC-Greensboro held an active shooter exercise in January that was attended by law enforcement and university officials from around the state. But students were not on campus when the drill was held during winter break.

Letter to the NBA board of Governors from Save our Sonics...

Save Our Sonics released the following statement on Monday, February 25:

"We hope the Board of Governors, media and members of the national sports community read the attached information and carefully consider the ramifications of a potential SuperSonics move to Oklahoma City. The upcoming court case set for June is too important to hold a vote on this matter presently because the current ownership group will likely be forced to honor the last two years of its lease agreement with Key Arena. The BOG should vote "No" on the Sonics relocation or postpone a vote until the pending court case is resolved.

"In light of recent disheartening comments by Commissioner David Stern, the BOG is faced with an extremely important decision that not only affects millions of Seattle area residents, but stands to significantly change both the NBA and the entire professional sports landscape. Members of the Sonics ownership group must work with Seattle's city leadership to come forth with a reasonable plan for the future sustainability of Seattle Center, Key Arena and the Sonics."

Please direct any media inquiries to the contacts at the end of the letter, Adam Brown, Steven Pyeatt and Brian Robinson of Save Our Sonics.

To NBA team owners and vested interests:

Outlined herein are the five most compelling reasons why voting "Yes" on the Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City is the wrong decision for an NBA team owner. Please consider the following information and endorse a "No" vote on relocation this April.

The Sonics have represented the city of Seattle through the best of times − including a 1979 World Championship and success throughout the 1990s culminating in a 1996 Finals appearance − and also through the worst of times, which came under the last two ownership groups led by Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz and Oklahoma City mogul Clayton Bennett, respectively. As you are surely aware, Schultz sold the Sonics to Bennett's Oklahoma-based ownership group in July 2006. After only one year of attempting to secure a brand new, $500 million, state- of-the-art arena in the region, Bennett officially filed for relocation to Oklahoma City on November 1, 2007.

As an NBA team owner, you have a responsibility to make decisions that will ultimately lead to a thriving league for years to come. Unlike other leagues, the NBA's owners are closely connected through revenue streams that allow profitable markets to share the wealth. As primary decision makers in the league, your votes in this matter will have critical impact on the future economic growth of the NBA.

Fans have supported this organization for 41 years. It will be a devastating blow to both the city of Seattle and the entire NBA if we lose this prominent market for the following reasons:

1. Fan Support Determines a Sports League's Profits

Seattle has been one of the NBA's most celebrated markets since its inaugural year in 1967. By allowing this move, David Stern is disrespecting one of his most loyal fan bases and disregarding 41 years of local support for the league, opting instead to mortgage the future financial sustainability of the NBA in order to please his friend, Clay Bennett.

NBA fans in Seattle will obviously be crushed by the move, but the impact will ripple into other markets across the nation. Fans will wonder: If this can happen in an historic NBA market like Seattle, couldn't it happen to my favorite team as well?

Hoops fans across the nation will sense a widening disconnect from team ownership and become apathetic about supporting a league that could show such contempt for fans. This move would signify the beginning of the end for a fan's league. The NBA may not recover from such a massive public relations disaster, as the league has recently struggled to reconnect to fans the way it did in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

2. Seattle is the Gateway to the Surging Asian Market

One of the highest rated NBA games this season was between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Houston Rockets - or the matchup of Chinese superstars Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian. Commissioner Stern opened the revenue floodgates by pouring NBA marketing dollars into China, and the country responded with record interest in the league. In December 2007, more than 200 million Chinese tuned in to watch the battle of its homeland stars, as 16 of 19 Chinese television stations carried the live broadcast in mainland China. [1]

Seattle is a leading center of Asian culture in the United States, with more than 507,000 Asian citizens (14.4% of the population)[2] contributing to the area's booming business, engineering and technology industries. Why would the league choose to uproot one of its primary gateways to the blossoming Asian market?

Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners established the international sports business model by marketing its Japanese star outfielder Ichiro Suzuki to national and international success, but the potential revenue ceiling in China is significantly higher if the NBA takes advantage of its cornerstone Asian market in Seattle.

The league certainly won't gain any international revenue from having a team in Oklahoma City.

3. Seattle is a Superior Market to Oklahoma City

The following statistics demonstrate the advanced revenue potential of the Seattle market compared with the Oklahoma City market:

o Greater Seattle: 3,524,000
o Greater OKC: 1,240,967

Median Family Income:[4]
o Seattle: $70,133
o OKC: $48,162

Seattle is consistently named as one of the best cities in America, and Forbes recently ranked it fourth among the Fastest Growing Cities in America,[5] with a 22.7% projected GMP growth by 2012. To abandon this market would be akin to moving the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers to smaller cities. The league simply wouldn't be the same, and David Stern has already stated that Seattle will not get another team if the Sonics move under Bennett.[6]

Journalists across the nation published their disapproval of losing the Seattle market, repeatedly coming to the conclusion that "there is no conceivable way the NBA would benefit from having the Sonics move from the nation's 14th-largest market to the 45th. [7]"

4. Fans in Seattle Deserve a Chance to Keep Their Team

Clay Bennett and his Oklahoma City-based ownership group purchased the Sonics with the full intention of moving the team to Oklahoma City, as stated publicly by minority owner Aubrey McLendon.[8] This contradicts numerous public statements made by Bennett stating his desire to find a solution to keep the team in Seattle.

""[Clay Bennett and I] didn't buy the team to keep it in Seattle, we hoped to come here [to Oklahoma City]," McLendon told the Oklahoma City Journal Record in August 2007. "We know it's a little more difficult financially here in Oklahoma City, but we think it's great for the community and if we could break even we'd be thrilled."

The NBA and its team owners should not settle for "just breaking even." Commissioner Stern fined McLendon $250,000 for these comments, but even more telling are the other dealings of this ownership group since purchasing the Sonics.

While asking for $400 million from taxpayers to build an exclusive, world-class arena in Renton − a Seattle area suburb located 12 miles south of the city and its season ticketholder base − the Bennett ownership group repeatedly touted the economic and community benefits of having an NBA team in the region.

Bennett's group even conducted its own economic feasibility study to convince legislators to vote for its last-minute arena proposal.[9]

Unfortunately, the proposal did not receive a vote after Bennett refused to provide key financial details deemed necessary by the legislature. Unlike Blazers and Seahawks owner Paul Allen, Bennett's plan did not include any stated investment from the team itself, leaving a huge gap in the feasibility of the proposal. Bennett then filed for relocation with the NBA, attempting to void the final two years of the team's lease at Seattle Center's Key Arena, which runs through 2010.

The city of Seattle filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Bennett in order to hold him to the Key Arena lease, and Bennett's group contradicted itself yet again in court, stating: "There will be no net economic loss if the Sonics leave Seattle."[10] Which is it, Clay?

The NBA should not look kindly upon one of its owners stating that its teams have no benefit to local communities.

While the Sonics current home, Key Arena, is the league's smallest venue, the city has expressed interest in re-working the terms of the lease and expanding the building to become a world-class venue. The city built Key Arena for $104 million in 1994 with 80% taxpayer-appropriated funds, following guidelines specifically approved by the NBA and team officials in the Ackerley ownership group, which said "[Key Arena] is going to be as good as any building in the NBA." And it was - for a few years, while the team perennially finished at the top of the Western Conference in front of sold out home crowds. [11]

It is simply unfortunate timing that other cities began building huge, more advanced arenas such as Chicago's United Center and Denver's Pepsi Center shortly thereafter, putting Key Arena behind the curve almost immediately after its construction. These and other new world-class arenas, however, were built using private funds or as a partnership between ownership and the city - something Bennett has declined to approach.

Despite the city's numerous attempts to reach out to Sonics ownership and broker a deal that works to keep the Sonics in Seattle, Bennett refused to even meet with Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels regarding any plan besides his own.

Adding insult to injury, Bennett & Co. decimated the Sonics chances to be successful on the court by trading its two All-Star players, fan favorites Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. These moves effectively ensured the team would be terrible, driving local fans out of the arena, intentionally minimizing revenues to facilitate relocation and making a mockery of the team. In 2007, Bennett's group fired Sonics legends Lenny Wilkins, Jack Sikma and Detlef Schrempf from their positions with the team, further distancing the current organization from anything that could be considered part of the Sonics celebrated past.

"They didn't give it a chance," former Sonic and current Celtic Ray Allen told the Chicago Tribune. "You need good veterans around to be successful. But it was a decision they made." [12]

On the same day the Sonics miraculously drew the second pick in the 2007 NBA Draft and the rights to prodigal forward Kevin Durant, Bennett was in Kansas City exploring arena options to move the team. He has no respect for the city of Seattle and its thousands of loyal Sonics fans.

It is now abundantly clear that Bennett only wanted to rob Sonics fans from the start, with no regard for the team's history and 41 years of support. A great NBA owner builds ties with the community; he doesn't sever them and then pour salt on the wounds.

When Mark Cuban purchased the struggling Dallas Mavericks in 2000, he invested heavily in the team and the city, building the franchise into a dominant force and a pillar of the community. Other NBA owners have also made sizable investments in their host communities, strategically developing political and business relationships to help secure public funding for arenas. Prior to filing for relocation, Bennett spent only a few months actively attempting to secure a local arena. During this period, he failed to evaluate the political landscape or engage the fan base, refusing to hold a single meeting with the Seattle mayor's office to discuss options within the Seattle city limits. Bennett never employed a local advertising agency, and he never took reasonable steps to convey a hopeful message to the general public and fans. The Sonics have not made even a pretense of looking for local options since May of 2007.

As business partners, it is appropriate for NBA owners to expect a somewhat equitable effort on the part of all parties. Owners in markets such as New Jersey, Sacramento and Orlando worked hard in recent attempts to secure venues, but Sonics ownership is attempting to shortcut the process and put its own interests above that of the league as a whole by engaging in a high publicized legal battle to void the final years of its lease. As part of this process, the Bennett ownership group has risked the goodwill of the fans and publicly stated that NBA teams bring no value to this community.

A legitimate local ownership group would be willing to work with the city and find a constructive solution to keep the Sonics in Seattle.

5. The New Orleans Hornets are Struggling to Survive

In the wake of the tragedy Hurricane Katrina inflicted upon the city of New Orleans, the Hornets were transplanted to Oklahoma City, where fans embraced the team for two seasons. As New Orleans rebuilds, the Hornets moved back to play at New Orleans Arena at the start of the 2007-08 season.

(Save Our Sonics would never want to deny New Orleans fans their team or encourage a Hornets move to save our own team. We do, however, see the need to present the following facts so NBA interests can make the most informed decision possible on this matter.)

At the time this letter was pressed, the Hornets held a record of 33-15, good for second best in the tough Western Conference. Yet the team is second to last in the league in attendance, drawing a meager 12,453 fans per game on average,[13] a number that is further inflated by free tickets given away within a business model that relies heavily on subsidies. This is a young, exciting team with an MVP candidate in Chris Paul, but the city cannot seem to rally behind them as it has for the NFL's Saints before and after Katrina.

The Hornets recently signed a lease that allows them to relocate after the 2009-2010 season if they fail to reach an average attendance benchmark of 14,735 through that portion of the contract.[14] At this rate, there is no doubt that attendance will be lower than this figure, and the Hornets will be looking for a new home in 2010, conveniently also when the Sonics lease at Key Arena officially expires.

The Sonics, by contrast, are the third worst team in the NBA at 13-36, yet they are only fifth-worst in attendance figures, averaging 13,476 fans despite widespread doubt that the team will even play in Seattle past 2008. This Sonics team, without its two recognizable All-Stars − and with out-of-town ownership insulting the community while publicly facilitating the OKC move ¬− still outdraws the Memphis Grizzlies, Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Hornets on a nightly basis. More importantly, Key Arena is filled to 79.3% capacity each night versus 65.8% in New Orleans − this figure also puts the Sonics ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats (74.7%), Minnesota Timberwolves (77.8%), and New Jersey Nets (76.1%) in attendance.

Make no mistake about it: Seattle is a basketball city and Washington is a basketball state, with such NBA stars as Brandon Roy, Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, Marvin Williams, Martell Webster, Luke Ridnour, Spencer Hawes, John Stockton, Detlef Schrempf, Michael Dickerson, Aaron Brooks and Doug Christie having grown up in the area. By voting to allow Seattle's longest running professional team to move, owners are denying themselves a city full of talent and potential billions in financial support. This is the city that set NBA attendance records by drawing more than 39,000 fans to a 1979 game in the Kingdome.[15] This is the city that rocked for the Sonics throughout the 1990s, as teams led by Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp dominated for much of the decade.

Recent NBA team moves and expansions to smaller markets have unequivocally failed financially (Vancouver to Memphis, Charlotte to New Orleans). If Oklahoma City has truly earned an NBA franchise, however, it makes sense to either grant it an expansion team (SOS's preferred solution) or move the Hornets, only since the latter is likely to move and already won the adoration of OKC fans.

The battle for the Sonics is still in U.S. District Court, which set a date of June 16, 2008 to hear the case - right in the middle of the NBA Finals. In light of recent scandals (Tim Donaghy and Malice at the Palace), the NBA cannot afford this bitter fight causing another public relations disaster, which would only soil its credibility and evoke outrage from disrespected fans around the nation. The NBA is a business, but this business can only be run with the full trust and support of its paying customers - the fans.

Please carefully consider the above arguments when casting your vote on the Seattle SuperSonics relocation issue. The facts are clear: Seattle has earned its team through decades of loyal support, and fans deserve more than Bennett has given them. If the involved parties swallow their pride and sit down at the negotiation table, a reasonable agreement to keep the team in Seattle can surely be reached. Key Arena is a beautiful venue for fans to watch basketball, and an efficient remodel can implement the proper revenue streams for ownership to profit financially in this top quality market.

Feel free to contact our organization with any questions on this matter. Vote "No" on a Sonics to Oklahoma City move this April. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincere regards,

Adam Brown - &nbspBrian Robinson - Steven Pyeatt
Media Advisor Co-Founder Co-Founder
(206) 919.3778 (206) 349.6447 (206) 276.6708

"(Clay Bennett) doesn't care if the Supersonics are Seattle's most successful and storied franchise. Or that the team has 40 years of history and heritage and Hall-of-Famers. Or that the league will suffer greatly if a franchise moves from one of its most cultured and cosmopolitan markets to - - - Oklahoma City! Good lord, this is like the Rockettes leaving Radio City Music Hall for their new permanent home at the Mystery Dinner Theatre on I-Drive!"

- columnist Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, November 2007.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A HUUUGE sigh of relief

Great article on the NBA from ESPN the Magazine

What do you think of today's NBA? You don't watch it as much, because the game isn't what it used to be, right? But maybe the game isn't the issue at all. What do you think of today's NBA player? Is he a guy you can cheer for and identify with? Or do you loathe him and find it impossible to imagine you'd pay money to see him play? Maybe you're stuck pining for your favorite '80s superstar. Maybe you are an '80s superstar.

LeBron-Jay Z

Ray Amati/Getty Images

Does LeBron's friendship with Jay-Z negatively impact fans' perception of the league?

Recent years' record All-Star voting and jersey sales notwithstanding, many sports fans have failed to embrace the current crop of NBA stars the way they did the legends of decades past. So, on the eve of this season's NBA All-Star Game, we decided to examine the state of the league. Specifically, we wanted to probe the apparent disconnect between fan perceptions of what the game has
become (and who's playing) and the reality of what it is (and who they are). And, yeah, we know what you're thinking: Here they go again. But we don't have to play the race card ourselves because, well, some of you already have.

In a recent poll commissioned by The Mag, opinions of the casual fan regarding the NBA suggest significant—and troubling—racial stereotyping. Nearly 50% of those polled think "it's a shame what's happening to the league" versus 38% who feel the same about baseball (even in the wake of the daily steroids headlines) and 21% about the NFL (despite the recent doings of Michael Vick and Pacman Jones). The poll also reveals that you think the typical NBA player is less likely than his counterparts in the three other major leagues to respect the fans, remain loyal to his team or even love his wife—and more likely to carry a gun, use recreational drugs and have an entourage.

Of course, this issue isn't as simple as black and white. While one recent study says the NBA is 75% black, the NFL, America's preeminent sporting attraction, is at 67%. One big contributor to the difference in perception of the two leagues is the strong tinge of hip-hop culture in one of them. Quick, who's more likely to rock the bling and hang with 50 Cent, Antawn Jamison or Joseph Addai? Conventional wisdom says NBA stars are rap guys at heart, individuals seeking personal glory and all that goes with it. Football players are system guys, and the system subverts their hood qualities. In addition, the anonymity helmets provide makes it easier to cheer your team's blustery wideout while ignoring what you don't like about him. The NBA player is naked by comparison. Every glare, scowl or disinterested look comes through unfiltered.


But even without helmets, it is NBA players who have the misfortune of being lumped together in a blob. The troubles of the current and former Indiana Pacers are representative of the troubles of every NBA team—at least that's what a quick trip through the blogosphere would have you believe. Some of those broad strokes can be attributed to fans who refuse to get past old stereotypes, but the people whose job it is to bring these athletes to you aren't without blame either.

Much the way Hollywood churns out tales of sparkly do-gooders riding in to save inner-city youth—see Michelle Pfeiffer, Keanu Reeves, Hilary Swank—journalists and TV analysts are always looking for a savior to reform these self-destructive, wayward millionaires. In 1995, a GQ cover story asked whether Grant Hill could be a savior. Less than 10 years later, multiple media outlets asked pretty much the same of LeBron James. Apparently, only black males need saving—and usually from themselves.

Despite having reached the pinnacle of their competitive set, hard work is never assumed of NBA players. In what other sport would teams feel compelled to trot out their most articulate players on opening night to promise the crowd that everything will be left on the floor? It's as if—in the NBA, at least—finding committed professionals is as difficult as spotting a white tiger in the wild.

Questioning heart is something Michael Jordan never had to face. In fact, part of today's problem is rooted in the fact that many fans long for the days of His Airness, when his unparalleled accomplishments were wrapped in a smile that could sell a Big Mac to a member of PETA. Jordan represents a different NBA, one before hip-hop colored many of the players' lives—and by association, the Association.

Sure, MJ hung with Mars Blackmon, but that's a far cry from the way today's NBA stars roll. LeBron is co-hosting an All-Star party with Jay-Z. Then again, even Jordan later trumpeted his friendship with Jay-Z to prove he was still relevant.

These are different times, but many fans seem not to have moved with them.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The USPS screws up the Sugar structure


Some bitter news was delivered to the U.S. Postal Service earlier this month. Namely, that a stamp commemorating sugar chemist and Nobel Laureate Gerty Cori features a chemical structure that is, well, wrong.

U.S. Postal Service

Newscripts didn't even have to brush up on its carbohydrate chemistry to see the SUGARY SLIP-UP—once it was pointed out to us by a faithful reader. To get the gaffe, glance at the oxygen on the phosphate group's right side, and bear in mind that oxygen atoms are desperately unlikely to make the four chemical bonds shown.

The stamp would have escaped its faulty fate had designers connected the phosphate group to the sugar through the leftmost oxygen, instead of the rightmost.

It is a sad state of affairs, because it was precisely the isolation of glucose-1-phosphate, and discovery of the so-called Cori ester, that garnered Cori the Nobel Prize. "Long-dead carbohydrate chemists would roll over in their graves to see this structure after all the effort they made to get it right," one sugar chemist wrote in an e-mail to Newscripts.

The glitch made us rather glum, despondent even, as we considered the squandered opportunity to serve some first-class carbohydrates to the American public. For alas, the suboptimal stamps have already been printed and are still scheduled for release in early March, despite the error.

But fear not. Despite our existential malaise, Newscripts is never so distraught as to miss the sweet taste of irony and to share the entertainment—if not solace—that it may bring.

Much like what is being done here, the mainstream press haughtily broadcast the USPS error. But, unfortunately, many of these media reports about the blunder contained a blunder themselves.

In particular, C&EN was incorrectly given credit for discovering the mistake.

It was actually a reader of a recent C&EN article about chemistry-related commemorative stamps who noticed the error (C&EN, Dec. 17, 2007, page 29). This reader, who wishes to remain strictly anonymous, contacted C&EN with the revelation. After C&EN notified USPS of this bad news, it released a statement about the mistake. A general media frenzy followed, and somewhere along the line, a game of broken telephone began, and we unjustly got the props.

Friday, February 15, 2008

More madness...I'm so HYPE!


To those who don't understand how BIG the NBA dunk contest is, please realize this:

People's careers have been boosted to previously unfathomable levels from winning it (Brent Barry, Harold Miner)

People's careers have been defined by it (Spud Webb, Dee Brown)

It still after all these years is the biggest TV ratings getter for the entire weekend, second only to the all star game itself.

After seeing the foolishness Clifton posted with Jamario Moon, I think this dunk contest might be to close to call...It may really come down to the fan WE are the superdelegates this year...

My 2008 All-Star Preview


Since we are talking about dunks...

I will now proceed to put up some of the greatest ever:

Dwight Howard ridiculous vid...Go ahead and pencil him in for Dunk Contest Winner now...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

And while we're here...

Roger Clemens, you are scum. SCUM.

...Okay, maybe that's a bit harsh...

...But seriously, one of the worst and most incredibly impassioned liars I have ever seen. Yes, McNamee is a liar as well. But what no one in the media or the Committee has said all day is, McNamees only lied to PROTECT Roger Clemens. Nothing he has said against him has suffered any loss of credibility!

And ol' adamant Roger wants us to believe that he knows NOTHING about HGH when his best friend AND wife were getting it from his own personal trainer? Is he stupid or are we?

Then he's attacking the personal integrity of McNamee, but his star witness as to his whereabouts one night is Jose Canseco?

Even if he's the stupid one, he sure THINKS it's us.

The funny thing about all this, to me, was the sentiment expressed on PTI this afternoon after the "Drama on Capital Hill" came to an end.

McNamee's not getting punished... but we know he peddled and solicited illegal drugs.

Pettite's not getting punished... but we know he's guilty of lying and using HGH.

So...why in the world do we even bother chasing Clemens?

Really! Seriously! What's the flippin point?

We're allowing men who obviously lack integrity testify without consequence against a man who is adamant that he has committed no wrong.

So if Clemens IS found out, yes he lied by speaking what wasn't true, but McNamee and Pettite lied by withholding information from the federal examiners that they revealed later.

I think everybody wins in this case... if everybody is punished. Clemens, Pettite and McNamee have all been caught in lies in this process, so make an example of them all. Make it clear that McNamee isn't being punished for being a whistle blower--that would be counter-productive. Let the MLB know that participants are to be punished regardless of who they help to bring down later.

Needless to say, this is about as interested as I've been in baseball in 24 years. But the best pitcher AND hitter in the modern era are possibly...ok, likely cheaters. I can't imagine what I'd do if Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon were found to be che...

...ok, that's blasphemy.

Dang it...

So what the heck went wrong to bring us where we are today?

For starters, Dallas dealt with a number of injuries this year, as have the Spurs...who have yet to make any panicked trades.

Then, Phoenix and LA made moves in the last week to shake things up even further in the increasingly competitive Western Conference.

Now, it seems like Mark Cuban has gone ahead and decided, maybe because the Spurs are injured, or maybe because there are so many young and rising teams in the West, that THIS MUST BE THE YEAR THE MAVS WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP.

And it has to be that way, because our point guard aged 10 years today.

Today the Mavericks traded 25-year-old up-and-comer Devin Harris, who has made an NBA Finals appearance and started on a 67-15 team (while earning only $3.8 million, might I add) for 35-year-old Jason Kidd, a point guard who can do anything but one thing...ok wait, two things: SHOOT and WIN...recently.

Still on the same number, there are two major problems with this trade...ok, make that 3 major problems (can't get these numbers straight!)

1. It forces us to win THIS SEASON and DECIMATES our team if it doesn't
2. The loss of Diop makes us weaker defensively, slower offensively, and smaller all over the court.
3. It leaves us having two players in the clutch--Nowitzki and Kidd, our two "best"--who can't shoot when it's time to win the game.

Number one is crucial because of injuries and difficulties that arise in each season. To borrow from poker, placing the entire pot on one hand is stupid even when you have a GREAT hand, because sometimes there's still someone whose hand is just gonna beat yours. So in exchanging a 26-year-old point guard and a 26-year-old center for a 35-year-old point guard and... Malik Allen(!!!), we have basically put our faith in this team to win THIS year. Maybe NEXT year, but after that, who knows? Dirk will be 30 this year, and God help us if he gets slower and/or more frail.

And the real killer in this trade besides the two starters we surrendered is the fact that we are surrendering our 2010 first rounder to the Nets (in addition to this year's 20-somethingth pick), the real unsung casualty of this trade. Look at it this way--who knows if Kidd will still be playing in 2010, much less at a high enough level to be worth what that pick could be. AND if Kidd isn't playing at a high level, 32-year-old Dirk will probably not be carrying them to 60 wins at the time, so that will possibly be a lottery pick! In fact, as old as this team just became, that could be a lottery pick even if they DO win the finals this year (see: Miami Heat, 2006-2008). Dang it, I just pissed myself off thinking of that...

Number two, our defense will be an issue in the new West. Our only big man? Erick Dampier...Our fastest point guards on defense? 30-somethings Jason Terry and Jason Kidd...

So when we see Tony Parker? Screwed.

Chris Paul? He'll run and run for days.

Leandro Barbosa? Who's fast enough to contain him?

And on the other side...

Dampier for 48 minutes on Duncan?

Dampier alone trusted to guard Yao Ming an entire game and NOT foul out?

Dampier to guard David West AND rebound with Tyson Chandler?

Plus that leaves Dirk to guard every teams 2nd best big man again, which by all accounts is devastating.

On offense my fear is, believe it or not, that Jason Kidd is not a true fit. The Mavericks play at a pretty slow pace nowadays, and the high-scoring reputation we achieved under Nash has somehow stayed over in the past 3 years.

But the reality is, the Mavericks are a jump shooting team. It's the reason they lost in the Finals and to Golden State. Steve Nash never averaged more than 8 assists on the Mavericks because of this. He averages 12 on a more athletic, up-tempo team in Phoenix. And now people think that Kidd will just come into Dallas and average 15-15-and 15 assists on the same kind of jump shooting team? When he can't make a jumper himself?

I think that is the reason why the other Western Conference teams have to be salivating. The Mavs will spread the court with their shooters, but instead of having to watch Harris' quick drives to the basket, they can just leave Jason Kidd out alone to shoot his .367 shooting percentage all day long, get his 11 points and take another L like he has in Jersey this year.

Now I still think that the Mavs will win 50 games in the regular season. But my concern is what happens when teams pull the rug from under them and force Kidd to shoot in the playoffs. Then when the games are close--which they definitely will be out West this year--your best options to shoot with the game on the line are .367 Kidd and "Choke" Nowitzki? Is no one else finding this a little disconcerting?

Dirk isn't a guy you want under pressure. Sure, he still has time to turn this reputation around, but if you're fighting for a championship, and you've got Dirk, and you're going up against Kobe, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Steve Nash, Baron Davis, TMac, Kevin Garnett, or ANY Piston for goodness sake, who do you think is more likely to make a clutch shot? 9 times out of 10, THE OTHER GUY.

By the same token, Kidd thrives when he has teammates that play at a high level. He is instrumental in getting them to play at that level, of course, but he alone is not enough to take over and win games at the end, as his career has proven. It's like they paired two guys up who do exactly what the other doesn't do, but they are both still missing the same crucial piece. Till this season, all Dirk has done is shoot, and all Kidd can't do is shoot. But neither can SCORE when there's ONE possession left. One for lack of stroke, the other for lack of heart.

After writing all this, it may be ridiculous to say, but I hope I'm wrong. I mean, I WANT to be wrong about this. I WANT Dirk to be clutch. I WANT to say that Jason Kidd is going to be what Devin Harris would never become. I WANT to believe that in 2010 the New Jersey Nets will be drafting 30th in the first round. But when you've seen what I've seen--Dirk and Kidd combining to lose 3 of the last 5 NBA Finals--there's not a whole lot of room for optimistic viewpoints.

Hello, $21 million dollar point guard. Goodbye future. Hello PRESSURE.

Shaq fires back at Bill Walton...LOL

From East Valley Tribune newspaper:

Walton said: “What he did in Miami by saying ‘I can’t play at all’ and now ‘I’m going to win the championship (in Phoenix),’ that’s absolutely ludicrous. Six weeks ago Shaquille O’Neal was on the verge of the all-time consecutive fouled out rule, and Pat Riley saved him. This going to be very difficult for Shaq to work his way through.”

O’Neal shot back at Walton on Sunday, and had more on Tuesday – saying Walton needs to compare resumes before he speaks again.

“I’ve done more in three years than he’s done in his whole career,” said O’Neal, referring to his three-peat run with the Lakers. “I would like a little respect from this man. I don’t understand where his comments are coming from, nor do I really care.

“(Walton) being disrespectful to me is like me being disrespectful to Bill Russell. (Walton) has one and half, maybe two championships. I have four. I’ve been (to the NBA Finals) six times. He criticized me for being injured … he only had two full seasons in his entire career. One thing I hate in life is a hypocrite – I hate them, despise them. So I would like a little respect when it comes to ‘The Dominant Big Man’s Club’

“Him talking about me is like the owner of Atari talking about Bill Gates. You can’t do it. The pecking order rules.”

Monday, February 11, 2008

When NBA marketing goes wrong...

"Treat your sweetheart to a Timberwolves game for Valentines Day!"
"Packages start at $50 and include a pair of tickets to 2/10 or 2/13 and $25 gift card!"
"Also includes discounted room at Radisson Hotel"

LOL. Wow....