Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dream Team-Up, Pt. 8

Team Name: Wallaces and Gromit
Team Members: RaSheed Wallace and Gerald Wallace

Maybe you thought we would put Ben back with 'Sheed to remake the good ol' days in Detroit. We would have, but Ben is no longer fun to watch play. There is no logical reason why these two would be put together other than Rasheed is a big man and Gerald is a high flying perimeter type guy. And they share the same surname. Thats really it. As you can see some of the pairings are a little less obvious and unlikely.

But why the Gromit? Why not just the Wallace's? Or Meet the Wallace's? Is it just to play off of the popular British claymation duo? (Which is probably the most dreamy of all the dream team-ups)

The Gromit is not a dog. It is the spot of hair on the back of 'Sheed's head. (see below)

Aside from all of the oddities of this pairing, we think they would play really well together. Gerald, when he isn't hurt, flies around inside and RaSheed would rather shoot 30 foot three pointers. Its the perfect inverse pairing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

All He Kept Talking About Was...Glory Days

Just for the sake of argument, here are my Super Boss Halftime picks. I figure the E-Street Band wants to kick out the jams a bit, so...3 songs? With 2 alternates. I would love it if he had the cajones to play all new tracks, but I'm guessing they hired him for his back catalog.

1. Glory Days Upbeat, singalong, well known, NOT on Born To Run, and he played it on Letterman's last NBC show. I think it's jocky enough.

2. Born In The USA Unlike Charlie T, I think Springsteen jumps at the chance to play this song. It's the official, national TV chance for him to have his "This is a song Charles Manson/Ronald Reagan stole from The Beatles/me, we're stealing it back." I suppose he could do No Surrender, but that would just make John Kerry sad.

3. Born To Run His live album from the early 2000s ends with this and, in the brief window of time he has, what's gonna top it?

Thunder Road, if he dares to double up on Born To Run's album cuts.
Hungry Heart, could be a good, more midtempo breather as they gear up to bring down the house with their 3rd song.
Rosalie, a darkhorse, which is cheating a bit since Charlie T already liked it.

Dream Team-Up, Pt. 7

Team Name: L.A. Gear
Team Members: Baron Davis and Elton Brand

These supposed best friends (though some would argue that they both love certain immortalized former presidents more than anything else) will finally have the chance to play together. And there is nothing David Faulk can do to prevent it. I think.

The most intriguing part about this pairing, assuming neither one of them tears a ligament or strains a muscle warming up or driving to the event, is that they will both be wearing L.A. Lights. The intrigue follows rumors that they will be filming a commercial for L.A. Gear, who is making a comeback into the athletic apparel market, during player introductions. My guess is that the lights will be turned out and they will run around on the court while their sneaker lights flash. Okay so that isn't much intrigue. But since L.A. Gear is footing the bill and paying them large sums of money as a sneaker sponsor it really shows where their heart is.

Elton and Baron better hope they an stay healthy enough to collect the paycheck for the commercial. L.A. Lights don't do much if you are on the trainer's table.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Say Hello, Waive Goodbye

3-Time All-Star Waived by the 5th Worst Team In The League.

He made it pretty clear, years ago, that he didn't want to play for the Grizzlies. Even when, years later, he was on their roster, they made sure he got what he wanted.

Makes me think about a few things:

- Do playoff contenders even bother looking at the waiver wire when it involves teams that are going nowhere? I mean, if the guy can't crack the lineup for a cellar dweller, wouldn't it usually be a red flag? I would assume there are money reasons and "let's spend time developing (young player with potential)."

- How do these guys like Francis and Marbury- at the top of the world at various points of their career- reconcile their self-image with their fate? Chuck Klosterman and Bill Simmons talked a bit about this in their recent podcast. For the record, I agree with both of them.

- Does Francis' entourage still call him Stevie Franchise? To his face? Amongst themselves? On long e-mail chains?

- How actively does a guy like Francis look to find a new NBA home? Does he cash in his chips? Or does he still want a ring? In the few Francis games I've seen in the past few years, it hasn't seemed like he had the eye of the tiger.

Meet Me In The Mourning. Or At Least The Middle

We can forgive Charlie T for being a bit of a homer. The face of his favorite franchise just hung it up like Junior Brown. Well, no one hangs it up like Junior Brown. But, then again, nobody was quite like Alonzo Mourning.

You can call this post a non-aggressive attempt to sway this blog to a more objective place. And I say that, fully admitting that there will always be a place for homer-ism here. We like to hear Bill Simmons talk about the Sox, Celts, and Pats. We like that Cameron Crowe worked Xavier McDaniel into Singles. Those things are endearing.

So let's meet in the middle, Charlie T.


- Certainly one of the best defensive centers ever after Bill Russell. He was a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. While he played in the league, ballots practically arrived to voters with his name already punched. That's how often he was on the All Defensive Team.

- Speaking of punches, Zo was a fighter. Sure, he mixed it up on the court and had his share of scuffles, but I'm talking about another kind of fight. And that's the fight to come back after a kidney transplant and get an NBA championship. Committing to play D in the NBA is already a sign of heart, but he reached new levels of Unquestionability. Maybe we should call it, in honor of Zo, "having kidney," i.e. "that kid showed a lot of kidney laying out for that loose ball..." Maybe that's inappropriate.

- He was highly decorated. Gold medalist, First and Second Team All-NBA (during a period of particularly good centers), NBA All Star, All Rookie Team,

- He will always be connected to Shaquille O'Neal. They were drafted 1-2 and had a semi-documented rivalry that- come on, Charlie T- O'Neal owned. In the end, it was the Shaq/Wade combo that got Zo his ring. And, Charlie T, don't undersell the impact of Bennett Salvatore and/or Ring Wraith Posey.

- He couldn't get along with Grandmama. His inability to coexist with Larry Johnson got him shipped out of Charlotte, where he led the team in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots. Now, tell me, if a team is willing to trade Player A (their scoring, rebounding, and blocked shot leader) to keep Player B happy, what does that say about Player A? Further, such was the animosity between LJ and Zo, that Zo went after Knick Grandmama in the famous Van Gundy Grabs Leg Brawl and brilliantly got himself suspended for the 5th and Deciding Game. That's showing some serious kidney, there.

- He complained his way out of his jersey. Literally. The Nets held onto him through his kidney troubles, only to be badtalked once he got back in the game. He vented to the media, which is the classiest way out if you ask, say, Starbury.

- Once Unhappy Zo was traded, he refused to report to his new team, the Raptors. "Pulling A Rony Seikaly" isn't a compliment.

- Despite these character assassinations, the guy is very, very charitable. He has a foundation that does amazing things and helped found Athletes For Hope. Something must've been in the water when he and Dikembe were at Georgetown because both of these guys do a lot of good.

- He was in a Hootie & The Blowfish video. I guess that could've gone in the charities' bullet. Emphasis on bullet.

- He would be the Heat's first retired number. Except they already retired numbers for Michael Jordan and Dan Marino. No joke.

Dream Team-Up, Pt. 6

Team Name: D. Oderant
Team Members: Greg Oden and Kevin Durant

Since nobody cares about Chris Paul's arm pits, the creative advertising department at Right Guard came up with the perfect mash-up of NBA talent that everyone has dreamed of playing together since 2007. Right Guard has managed to do what Paul Allen's money couldn't; put Durant and Oden on the floor together and on the same team.

Obviously this team will be good. Size inside and length on the perimeter. Oden doesn't need shots while Durant never met one that was outside his range. The only problem with this team up is how sick we'll all be of them reading cue cards about "odor-blocking technology" during the commercial breaks.

TiVo this match-up. It is sure to have as much potential as this dynamic duo. And will without a doubt out do this one

Alonzo Mourning Is Not Walking Through That Door

Neither is Tim Hardaway.

Some days the Heat could really use one or both of those guys. The team has a 14 year-old and a rookie splitting time at point guard. A three-headed monster at center that would make any of the center combos on Jordan's Bulls teams look like the Dream Team. Yet here Miami stands at the midway point, within reach of home court in the playoffs.

And they owe it all to the guy who isn't walking through the door. At Zo's retirement press conference, Riley called him "the tap root" of the culture that they wanted to set up with the organization. This team is everything that Mourning was: Resilient. Tough. Able to compensate for lack of size by being aggressive. Hard Working. And most importantly, Winning.

Mourning turned a team that was nothing into a perennial Eastern Conference power. Sure, Riley has had something to do with it, and now the addition of Dwayne Wade. But they are clearly not riding the legacy of Rony Seikaly or Grant Long, Harold Minor or Glen Rice. It was Mourning as Shaq's back-up who put them over the top in their title run, not Bennett Salvatore.

Mourning also had some bad timing. The most ironic being tearing his patella tendon and quadriceps on the anniversary of his kidney transplant. Everyone thought that December 19th would be the end of his career. Who would have guessed it would be 4 years after getting a new kidney?

The addition of Zo to this year's Heat would no doubt make the rag-tag group the toughest out in the playoffs this year. Instead, they will carry on without him, knowing that the future is getting brighter every step of the way.

And we all know LeBron and the rest of his 2010 buddies want to put on the same jersey that Zo wore.

Put Your Make Up On, Fix Your Hair Up Pretty

Meet me tonight in Tampa

Some people know, but not many care that Bruce "The Boss" Springsteen will be playing during the worlds largest bathroom break this Sunday. I for one will save my bathroom break for after the opening kickoff in the second half. That is when they start replaying the commercials or at least playing the ones that weren't good enough for the first half.

But what will The Boss be playing?

Reflexes say he will play Born In The USA. I am going to go out on a limb and say we don't get that one.

Here are my top five most likely songs. (if anyone cares, I completely picked Tom Petty's set list last year)

1. Blinded By The Light - Greetings From Ashbury Park, NJ

2. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) - The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle

3. Born To Run - Born To Run

4. If he plays a newer song it will most likely be Girls In Their Summer Clothes

5. I can see him playing a cover also. This Land Is Your Land (Woody Guthrie) or We Shall Overcome (Pete Seeger) since this is fresh on the heels of the Inauguration.

He will probably get three songs and they might even be shorter versions, but it will probably be the best show on the field that day.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dream Team-Up, Pt. 5


Dirk: Hey! hows it goin
Steve: good man u
Dirk: good u hear about the 2 on 2
Steve: u mean the all * thing
Dirk: yeah
Steve: yeah shaq told me
Dirk: oh

(twenty minutes pass)

Dirk: u wanna do it

(two hours pass)

Dirk: did u get my txt
Steve: oh yeah srry
Dirk: its cool

(ten minutes pass)

Steve: u c valkyrie? prty good.
Dirk: not yet guys went last nite

(next day...Dirk shoots 2-19 that night)

Dirk: hey! how was ur game
Steve: good we won
Dirk: cool
Dirk: u dcide about the 2 on 2
Steve: oh yeah srry
Dirk: its cool

(thirty minutes pass)

Steve: my fntsy soccer team is struggling
Dirk: srry man

(next day)

Dirk: i saw valkyrie
Steve: cool
Dirk: yeah tom is guten
Steve: gluten?
Dirk: good
Steve: oh
Dirk: so the 2 on 2
Dirk: what was that got an empty msg

(4 hours later)

Dirk: hey the 2 on 2 thing
Steve: oh yeah
Dirk: wanna do it
Steve: sure shaqs doin it
Dirk: cool i turned r thing in

Growing A Beard Like A SubPop Hobbit at the Merriweather Post Pavilion

Fleet Foxes are apparently taking time out of their busy beard-growing/hype-receiving schedule to get all giddy about Animal Collective's new album.

Hype begets hype, I suppose. So here we go, with Fleet Foxes starting what could inevitably swell into a bona fide gushfest between last year's near unanimous winners of Hyped Album of the Year and this year's (early, folks, early) frontrunner.

It makes sense, though, that the Vulpes Fleetus would hop on the AC train, as it is a collective of animals.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Half Way Point

Since the end of the 2007-2008 NBA season, half of the leagues teams have changed coaches. 8 teams got new coaches over the off season and 7 have changed drivers mid-race.

There appears to be more stability among the dance teams of the the Association, or at least the players are paying more attention to them.

Here are my top 5 coaches who could be fired by the end of the season, with their respective odds.
(note: I have no inside connection to any team and this is all purely made up, but if I am right...)

Jim O'Brien 5:1
The Pacers are overachieving and underachieving on a nightly basis. It won't be long before its late on night and Larry Legend starts thinking Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy are actually good players and its the coach that is making them miss wide open jumpers. Plus O'Brien never lasts more than 2 seasons anywhere.

Lawrence Frank 9:1
The first 2010 coaching change, unless you count the D'Antoni move.
You really think LeBron wants to play for this guy? He looks like Doogie Howser for crying out loud.

Mike Dunleavy 100:1
Seems like it should be more likely, but that would mean the Clippers would have a chance to be mediocre again. The space-time continuum can't have that now can it.

Vinny Del Negro 20:1
I'm still not sure how this hire happened so it can't last, right?

Scott Brooks 20:1
He will undoubtedly be the winningest coach in OKC history. A record that should remain unchallenged for decades

They're Selling Postcards of The Hanging, featuring Lionel Hollins

(AP) MEMPHIS- Today, the Memphis Grizzlies introduced replacement head coach Lionel Hollins. Whether or not the Grizzlies organization intended the poetry of using the term "replacement head" is unknown, but suffice it to say: it was tough to ignore the still-bleeding head of former coach Marc Iavaroni as it continued to roll off the guillotine and past the podium.

(Candidates for the position of Last Thought Going Through Iavaroni's head are:
- "But I played with Dr. J! I STARTED! WE WON A CHAMPIONSHIP, MAN!"
- "Finally, I can go back to my calling in life as a movie extra, specializing as 'Midlife Crisis Corporate Pencil Pusher.'"
- "Funny how no heads rolled after the team gift wrapped Pau for the Lakers last year..."
- "At least we hosed the Blazers..."
- "Avenge me..."

Were the Grizzlies trying to prove a point to Mr. Hollins by holding the press conference on the gallows? Time will tell.

Either way, Marc Gasol is probably relieved to not have to turn his head every time somebody says, "Hey, Marc."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Do Injuries Have Nipples?


Dream Team-Up, Pt. 4

Pairing #4

Team Name:Los Hermanos Gasol
Team Members:The Gasol Brothers

Not really sure how this pairing will turn out, but we figured they would be in it for sure.

If there was a ranking done of brothers, they would for sure be top three in stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder somewhere between these two geniuses and these two jock rockers .

But as far a facial haired siblings go they are leaps and bounds behind these two, and these two.

We all know that Pau gets fired up by easy baskets but tends to go looking for his mama when P.J. Brown comes and steals his lunch money. (see: 2008 NBA Finals) And nobody has seen Marc play besides the gold medal game in the Olympics (and nobody remembered how he played because of THE DUNK)

Since Pau can't play defense and Marc may or may not exist there is no way they make it out of the first round.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Congratulations Dwight

Lets all give Dwight Howard a big pat on the back and start the coronation of the new king of the NBA.

All of this because he beat Kendrick Perkins, Samuel Dalembert and Andrew Bogut in a popularity contest. Did anyone really think this vote would be close at all? There hasn't been a landslide like this since since FDR beat Alf Landon in the electoral vote or since choosy moms had to chose a peanut butter.

The only thing more ridiculous than any sort of analysis of the All-Star voting is this.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dream Team-Up Pt.3 OR Yao Yi Mao Wii

Pairing #3

Team Name:The Chairmen
Team Members:Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian

Forced by The Peoples Republic to team up in this competition, tricked into thinking they would be posting up a couple of folding chairs, left for dead on the court against ravenous Eastern Conference All-Star snubs.

Don't get us wrong, there is talent, but one thing stands unchallenged: If The Chairmen play any- and I mean ANY- two pieces of furniture, they will go undefeated.

Secretary Desk and Armoire? Good luck.

IKEA shelves and four-post bed? Not a chance.

I'll tell you what: they could go up against a five piece living room set and Yao/Yi would still dismantle them like cheap Scandanavian particle board.

That aside, this is the one team that might put up a fight against Shaq/Howard. Yao shoots about 90% from the field and from the foul line. While they would get torn apart by a faster team of guards, they have a chance to make the second round if the NBA marketing genii decide to put the Chairmen up against the Supermen.

In the end they had better soak in the starting line-up announcements at the game on Sunday because that will be the most action you see all weekend in Phoenix, unless the Chinese judges are handing out scores.

I Just Got Txtd re: Merriweather Post Pavilion

Once (or twice) upon a time, I broke up with a girl. It was never pretty, though she almost always was. I had all the post-breakup regret that comes with knowing it's over but wishing it wasn't. Suddenly, people start talking, sometimes to you, sometimes around you. You can't stop hearing about it. It's like you're on Gossip Girl and you're getting texted all sorts of stuff that just rubs it in, kills you, and annoys you all at once.

So it goes with Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Here I am, having decided that me and Animal Collective needed some space, some time. And all of the sudden the interweb won't shut up. I THOUGHT YOU HAD ALREADY REACHED THE PRAISE CEILING, INTERWEB! But no...

STEREOGUM doesn't even try to veil its love. Sure, it shines it all with irony and wit, but the love is untethered.

Not to be outdone (or undersaturate-y), Pitchfork pours it on with a fullblown interview. What's wrong with me that I couldn't even get to the second paragraph without totally checking out? Was it the sycophantic-Art-Thou-The-Savior leanings of the interviewee? Couldn't be. BECAUSE THE INTERVIEW HADN'T EVEN STARTED YET. (Sorry about the all-caps today. I need help.)

Even Aquarium Drunkard gets in on the Age of Aquarius-style lovefest? What happened, AD? You were my mainstay of roots, vintage R&B, gritty folk, and more? Even you fell for the charms of MPP? Sigh. What's wrong with me.

I know we need space, MPP. I think the only reason this even kind of gets under my skin is that, for reasons just like these, I let The Arcade Fire, The National, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah slip through my ever-loving fingers. I really want this to work out, but- my knee jerk reaction to all the hype- is to let you go to the lovers who'll fawn over you.

Maybe we can catch up later this week?

Rip Hamilton Starting To Warm Up To Not Starting

"It's a new challenge."


"I started for a team that won the NBA championship against Shaq, Kobe, Derek Fisher, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone, so why would I feel weird about coming off the bench for a team that might make it out of the second round (if the Hawks and Magic let us)?"


"Ginobli's happy doing being the 6th Man. If I make waves, they will crucify me. But come on, the only guys I played more minutes than were Will Bynum, Aron Afflalo, and Walter Hermann. So that's really comforting."


"The upside is: I've got more time to keep in touch with the ladies. And by 'keep in touch' I mean, well, you know what Rip means, baby..."


For a media base that's just been foaming at the mouth to coronate Andrew Bynum, last night's 42 points will at long last give them what they need. Let's hope they can show some restraint.

Kareem who? You mean the guy who used to be called Chris Jackson and had Tourette's?

Wilt? The guy in Conan the Barbarian? Come on. Could that guy even score?

I hate to tell you, Laker faithful, but Bynum is still sitting on the Vlade Mezzanine.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lunch Date at the Merriweather Post Pavilion

I picked up the phone a few times this week to go get that afore mentioned lunch burrito with the Animal Collective at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. It must have been at least four separate occasions before I decided that I would be a man of my word.

Burritos it is.

I am assuming there was some catching up that we did for the first three tracks, but I was a bit more worried about the conversation of the people in line in front of us, whether or not I was going to go with the carnitas or the spicy pork, and wondering if I had enough punches on my card for a free one.

Around Summertime Clothes, I started to get back into it a little. The opening beats on that song seem to really grab my attention every time. Maybe there is going to be something here after all.

By the time Daily Routine starts I am tuning out again. This burrito could have been mixed a little better. That bite was all salsa and the last bite was all cheese. I hope its not all this way. Maybe I can rotate it a little and get a better mix.

Don't you sometimes wish you could "skip tracks" on first, second and third dates? Like the parts when the other person starts talking about past relationships or the "I'll go wherever, you decide" car rides or when they see someone they know and haven't seen in forever. Thats where I am at with Bluish

Doing a little self reflection now. Am I really all the things that are inside of me?

As I was finishing the burrito, I started to wonder why I was making such an effort. I remembered that "some other people said she was hot" and that "we had a good time once" but couldn't really figure out why either of those things mattered. I had a good time once at Boy Scout camp and only went because my friends said it would be cool, but I would never go back now.

Just then Brothersport came on. It kind of has an african tribal singing part going on at the first, kind of like the opening song on Lion King. I can get into this. Dang it. This is what happened last date. It ended with this song and made me want to do it again because I was thinking the whole thing would be this fun.

Once again I left feeling upbeat about the whole thing. Isn't this how abusive relationships start?

Maybe I'll Text The Merriweather Post Pavilion

So...I had breakfast with the MPP. It was a good little date- impressive, creative, quirky, new. All the little idiosyncracies that usually play on a loop in my mind after a good date. But here's the catch:

I could never really bring myself to make the follow-up call. I pull up iTunes, scroll around, and end up listening to something else.

MPP, I had a really great time. I don't want you to think I didn't. For whatever reason, I just sorta got busy. But I want you to know I'm thinking of you. I don't want to close the door. So maybe I can just punch a few digits on my phone, not a call just yet, but just enough to keep me in your picture, and you in mine. So (punch, punch, punch):

Hey! How r u? Would luv 2 catch up.

Dream Team-Up, Pt.2

(Part 2 of our continuing series of proposed team-ups for a hypothetical, winner takes all, All-Star Weekend 2-on-2 tournament)

Pairing #2

Team Name: The Men of Steel or Supermen
Team Members: Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard

Remember when comic books decided to do alternate universes and multiple comics about- what to the layman or non-nerd or guy with a girlfriend would appear to be- the same character? That's what's been happening with Shaq and Dwight Howard. Both have made claims to the title- one with a tattoo (and, let's face it, actual titles) and the other with a cape and some Slam Dunk Contest Shenanigans.

Teaming up for the 2-on-2 tournament allows these guys to do a few things:

- Fuse their Supermanhood. That sounded bad. Really bad. But the point is that the power of two Supermen is undeniable.
- Be a matchup nightmare. There is almost no one in the league that can, 1-on-1, guard either of these guys. Now try to find TWO guys who can. (And, yes, the committee recognizes that being a matchup nightmare also makes them a matchup liability, but if they can get a lead...) In a halfcourt game especially- where taking it down the court is nullified- these guys check the ball and throw it inside. Who wants to face that?
- Allow Shaq to finally indulge in his dream to be a point guard. We've seen Shaq light up like Fleet Foxes at a beard growers convention whenever he gets a chance to bring the ball up the floor. Big Magic will finally get his shot. Like I said in the previous bullet point, he'll be pg'ing, but not fullcourt.
- Showcase the dominance of Orlando Magic centers, past and present. Sorry, Michael Doleac, Marcin Gortat, and Andrew Declerq. You didn't quite make the cut.
- Have an official Pass The Torch moment. The Most Dominant Center torch isn't going to Yao. And it's not going to Amare. It's going to Howard. This is the surest way to avoid any confusion, any "but Amare is my teammate" loyalties getting in the way. All the greats want to have a definitive moment where they passed the torch, and passed it to the heir they chose. This is it.
- Have an unofficial Pass The Torch moment. Shaq is about as likable as they come- good with the media, unbelievably good natured for a guy who gets mugged every time he touches the ball, likes to play around, fun, etc. Howard is next in line for this, more unofficial, title too. If these guys get a lead, you can count on some kind of Harlem Globetrotters routine breaking out.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dream Team-Up, Pt.1

Team ups have been happening for decades.
Marvel Team-Up
Dylan and Cash doing Girl From The North Country
Dylan and The Dead
Dylan and Anybody

Even the I'm Not There soundtrack had some legendary pairings.
Stephen Malkmus with the Million Dollar Bashers (members of Sonic Youth, Wilco, Television, Medeski Martin & Wood)
Eddie Vedder with the Million Dollar Bashers
Jim James and Calexico
Roger McGuinn and Calexico
Willie Nelson and Calexico
Calexico and apparently anybody

In anticipation of the forthcoming all-star Nick Drake tribute compilation, Dark Was The Night (which is a veritable who's who of indie rock pairings), the NBA All-Star festivities, and Obama bullying his way around to make changes in all sports (including the long awaited College Football Playoff), we're creating our ultimate All Star Team-Ups.

Everyday until its release, Dark Was The Night will be posting a new song here. Likewise, we'll be posting a new pairing from our hypothetical (for now) 16 team Two-on-Two All-Star Tournament. It's our jocky way of paying tribute to Nick Drake through both inspired and ridiculous pairings.

In the spirit of Obama's change and our forebearer Bill Simmons' constant desire to change All-Star Weekend, we propose a massive 2-on-2 tourney. The rules are simple: make your own team. Play in a seeded tournament (part John Hollinger, part David Stern, part PT Barnum). Winners go home with a million apiece. Simple.

These are the teams we'd like to see, starting with:

Pairing #1

Team Name: Round 2, or Cuzzins
Team Members: Vince Carter and TEEmak

Team Synopsis: Look at all of the unrealized potential of those bygone Raptors days. Both players have learned a lot. Probably. Maybe. A few things are uncertain: Will TEEmak be injured? Will Vinsanity show up? Or will The Great Canadian Postage Stamp be the one making the appearance? Can they peacefully coexist? Or will this turn into some Tyler Perry Family Reunion montage of guffawful hilarity? Are there even enough ill-advised shots to go around? Not to mention failed hero moments? One thing is for certain: this team is NOT tasting the second round.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

We Interrupt This Already Scheduled SportsCenter... show you LeBron James miss a potential game winner!

The only thing saving us from NFL weekend playoff analysis, by anyone with a heartbeat who has ever seen a football in their life, is LeBron James doing anything and it being analyzed during everyone's one hour of sports highlights every night.

I know we aren't used to seeing spherical leather balls on SportsCenter, so allow me to give you all a little help in understanding this deluge of LeBron coverage.

"LeBron's Basketball IQ"
"Look at LeBron space the floor even when he doesn't have the ball. He is opening up shots for his teammates."
Translation: LeBron is standing 8 feet behind the three point line, not to space the floor, but to throw up a "heat check" three pointer.

"LeBron's Winning Instincts"
"Watch LeBron here as he takes over in the fourth quarter with a steal and a thunderous slam"
Translation: LeBron just ripped the ball out of Delonte West's hand, took a hesitation dribble just past half court and took 4 steps before dunking on the camera crew. For those who haven't seen professional basketball in a while, the rules have been changed to allow two extra steps if you take a hesitation dribble. Whatever that is.

LeBron's Record Setting Season
"LeBron becomes the youngest player to reach 10,000 points"
Translation: LeBron James becoms the youngest player to have his name said 10,000 times during televised NBA games, as called by Doug Collins. Kobe held the previous record.

"LeBron's Versatility"
Cleveland Goes Small, Plays LeBron At Center
Translation: Cleveland thins out its camera crew, leaving only one cameraman. This camera is to be fixated on LeBron at all times. On the court, on the bench, at a Cowboys game...ALL TIMES.

"LeBron's Finishing"
LeBron nails a big one from the corner, fans go home happy
Translation: LeBron bites off a big pesky fingernail while sitting on the bench, near the corner of the court. Fans go home happy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Obama's In. Now Go Use Your Vote For Something Really Important.

If you're old like me, you remember when virginal forward AC Green was voted to start over Hall of Fame (and in-his-prime) power forward Karl Malone. Now, the Mailman isn't the most popular superstar ever; he made his share of enemies and has plenty of detractors. But AC Green? Sheesh.

Only you can keep Yi from starting. And he still might start because, hey, China is taking over. If the metric system makes you nervous, just wait until forks are outlawed.

So, go vote for your favorite NBA All-Stars. Now. Before it's too late. Kevin Garnett thanks you. Paul Pierce thanks you. The Committee for Keeping The All Star Team for All Stars thanks you.

Voting got me thinking about the all-star rock hoops team. This will be an evolving list as more research goes on, but for now:

Point Guard: Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) is a huge hoops fan. Originally Pearl Jam was called Mookie Blaylock, after the former Michigan guard. (Funny how the poster says Formerly Mother Love Bone, when lead singer Andy Wood was dead, as was anything that sounded like that band.)

Shooting Guard: Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) might be shorter than Eddie, but we're playing smallball, ok? And with all his incessant slapping, one has to guess that Flea's a pretty relentless defender.

Small Forward:Win Butler (Arcade Fire), apparently has some experience with roundball, though we'll probably have to buy him some shorts. My guess is that we should get the Spurs' road uni's, just to stay in character.

Power Forward: Nels Cline (Wilco, solo) has a real Detlef Schrempf thing going on.

Center: Thurston Moore
(Sonic Youth) or Peter Garrett (Midnight Oil), just because of the stigma that, if you're tall, you should be a basketball player.

Who did I miss?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

No (Seattle) Depression

Its time I got off the "OKC Hatin' Bandwagon" just because of a few management decisions. Truth is, besides the one big, elephant in the room sized decisions, they management has done quite well. Actually they have done really well.

The trio of Durant, Westbrook and Green is just beginning to take shape. They each scored over 20 points last night against the Jazz prompting this post as their coming out party.

3 is a magic number. You can't get it done with two, unless you are named Jack and Meg, and four is too many. (just ask the Celtic's this year with their supposed BIG 4 and a really rough stretch recently) Imagine how much better Almond Joy's or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups would be if they came in packs of three instead of two.

Imagine if the Thunder had stayed in Seattle. We would be comparing these guys to the previous terrific threesome of the Northwest. Nirvana. Durant could be our Cobain. Westbrook our Dave Grohl. Green our Novoselic. It would've been great. Until the Cobain parallel played out completely.

This is where the positive spin of them moving comes in. We have saved ourselves from adding one more to the 27 Club. Now we can compare the trio to another up and coming young group from southern Illinois, just a stones throw from OKC.

Uncle Tupelo was a pioneering band in the early 90's, just like Nirvana. They were playing a little different beat but just as groundbreaking. Featuring two musicians who went on to form two different bands who have garnered success in their own right, the roots were laid in UC. Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) and Jay Farrar (Son Volt) were some of the pioneers of the alternative country scene, playing with energy and enthusiasm a la the OKC3.

To be determined later is the inevitable break up. You know its coming. They will find a way to not be able to keep all 3. One will go off to Chicago (a la Tweedy) and be the most successful. The question is which one.

Either way there is reason for No Depression in OKC.

Brand Equity

What does it say about you when a surprise upstart team that came out of nowhere to push the eventual champs to the brink signs you as The Piece Who Will Take Them To The Next Level?

That's flattering, isn't it?

But then your much-anticipated debut season starts to middling (at best) results?

You'd probably ask for a little patience. Give it some time, right? Maybe plop your coach in the volcano, just to keep it happy.

And then, you get injured (like you do so well) and your new team goes on a tear, looking once again like that exciting, upstart team that could scare anybody on any given night.

What are you supposed to think about the media (who couldn't wait for you to don their red & blue uni's, bring honor back to their city of fraternal amorousness, and make the Eastern Conference do their best James Brown impression and break out in a cold sweat) that is- as we speak- editing articles about how they sort of wish you wouldn't come back? About how the chemistry shouldn't be busted up. And a fanbase- still faintly tasting the Upset Sixers afterbirth from last postseason- is remembering what it was like to love and root for this particular group. And agreeing with their busily-typing beat writers.

What does this say about your brand equity?

this is the only picture of Brand in a Sixers jersey in the first 4 pages of Google Search. none of the "action" shots are in a Sixers jersey. but that shouldn't concern Philly, right?

All things being equal, these people booed Santa Claus.

NBA Decides To Only "Threaten To Fine" Portland For Threatening E-Mail

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bring On The Major Leagues

Who knew? Ex- (or is it Re-) Pavement and current Jick Stephen Malkmus is way into fantasy basketball.

A snippet:
Off the top of my head I'd skip Melo, Baron, Garnett, Artest, Yao, Kobe, Pau, Boozer, Vince Carter, Marion, Brad Miller, Zach Randolph and Jason Kidd if at all possible. Those cats are not my bag.

(Couldn't agree more with almost all of those.)

No problems - to each his own. Gotta put bread on the table, within reason. It's like owning Kobe. Sometimes you gotta do it.

And his team is called Widespread Perkins. Amazing.

Apparently Built To Spill's Doug Martsch is in the league too. I bet he owns a ton of Blazers. And some Portland players too (ba dum tsss).

Sun F. Yue: Doer Of The Impossible

A little while back, ESPN changed their box scores. They added a pointless stat; the +/-. Okay, well maybe its not toally pointless but it was a point of devistation for me. I thought that the infamous Club Trillion would become obsolete. The premise is to not log a single stat in the box score during your time on the court. No FG attempts, fouls, turnovers, accidental rebounds. Now you had to make sure the score pretty much never changed during your garbage time.

How fitting that the Chinese, and their ability to do coordinate the seemingly impossible, managed to get a player in the NBA and beat the +/- and land a 3 trillion. And he did it right under the nose of Kung Pow Yao.

Congrats Sun Yue.

Fitting Timing by Mr. Ryan Adams

"maybe we will play again sometime and maybe i will work my way back into some kind of music situation, but this is the time for me to step back now, to reel it in and i wish everyone peace and happiness." -Ryan Adams

In another bid to align himself with (or totally parrot) the greats and to perpetuate his string of stabs at crossing over into as many genres as humanly possible, singer-songwriter Ryan Adams announced his retirement from music 10 years to the day that Michael Jordan announced his (first) retirement from basketball. Where did he announce this? The United Center? The Ryman Auditorium? His blog, of course.

We've seen Ryan- that's what I call him, that's what all his inner circle like me call him- do roots rock, country, alt country, 80s rock, depressing rock, hippie rock, and more. Who knew he had jock rock in him?

So what can we learn here?

Well, Ryan Adams, as has been thoroughly discussed on this very blog, is in a school of candidates for the Next Dylan, which is the musical version of the Next Jordan. Adams is not the Next Dylan or the Next Jordan, but some of these parallels have legs.

-Michael Jordan retired thrice, once for baseball once after the famous Bryon Russell pushoff (How Russell got away with such documented cheating is beyond me.), and once after his so-so stint with the Wizards. Ryan is on his first. But I wouldn't bet against a guy as prolific as Ryan easily breaking this particular Jordan record.

-Michael Jordan also unretired more than once. Ryan'll be back. A lifer (and a good one, at that) can't stay away for long. Will he be MJ on the Bulls? Or will he be MJ on the Wizards? Will he be Favre on the Jets? Will he be (trying to think of example of a non-Bulls-Jordan unretired jock who succeeded....still trying...give me a second...ok...just fill in your own great idea here)?

-Jordan toyed with baseball. Ryan's baseball is, um, writing books and "soul poetry." I hope his batting average is better than MJ's. But I wouldn't bet my pocket change on it.

-Michael Jordan never blogged. Ryan Adams is giving up blogging. The influence is becoming crystal clear. If I see Ryan Adams back his bike into a hotel concierge while talking to Michael about Hanes, I'm calling foul.

-Michael Jordan, with a Christopher-Guest-in-The-Princess-Bride-Handful of Championship Rings, had no worries about his legacy. Ryan is worried and says so. OK, so that is the anti-parallel. But perhaps he's worried about his legacy precisely because Jordan's was cemented.

-If you ask me, it sounds like he's using this as a way to dissemble the Cardinals. And I think Jordan wanted to prove to Scottie that he was a legitimate second banana.

Magically 3licious

Pardon the terrible title.

The Orlando Magic set an NBA record for 3-pointers made last night with 23. The record they broke was 21, set by Toronto in 2005. A couple of thoughts:

- JJ Reddick was 4-7. A renowned sharpshooter who has slumped of late, this was his kind of game. I'm guessing there was at least one hypnotist, 2 towels soaked in eau d'Cameron Indoor, three Coach K motivational mp3s, and a couple of "I think there are some NBA scouts in the arena tonight" rumors involved.

- Jameer Nelson was 5-5. I bet Reddick hears about that for awhile. Or he would, if he were actually not in some kind of hypnotic coma.
- The great Marcin Gortat was the only Magic player to attempt a 3-pointer and not make at least one. He too will have an earful for awhile. Dwight Howard can at least say he didn't even try to make one.

- The worst percentage- besides 0%- was PG Anthony Johnson who shot 1-4 (25%), everyone else was: 3-5, 3-5, 1-1, 4-7, 4-6, 1-2, 1-1. They were smoking hot. If I were anyone who'd made a shot, I wouldn't let a practice end without quietly suggesting that Johnson put in a little overtime working on his shot.
- HOW MANY NBA RECORDS ARE SET AGAINST VERITABLE DOORMATS? Sacramento, this record's victim, is sitting on a sorry record of 9-30. I can't imagine Philly was too good when Toronto set the original record of 21 3-pointers (though, Toronto was pretty weak at the time too, as Kobe went for a career-high 81 points a week later against them). If I were John Hollinger or some other skilled statistician/googler, I'd look this up. But you gotta believe that records aren't getting set against great teams, most of the time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mehmet Okur, minus the "Meh"

Playing at home against the Pacers, Mehmet Okur went for a career-high 43 points on Monday night, joining this season's 40+ Club (with Amare Stoudemire and Kevin Martin?). Interestingly, he didn't score any of the last 15 points scored by the Jazz.

It was the most points by a Jazz center ever. That's really, really hard to believe when you look the long-armed legacy of Utah C's:

(not pictured in a Jazz uni, but who could forget the sucker punch?)

First Date at the Merriweather Post Pavillion

Two years ago I decided to go on a blind date with the Animal Collective. The date consisted of 2 hours with them in a small, crowded club/bar in the middle of a hot summer night. It might have been a Hot August Night, though I am not real sure. But you know what, it was a good first date. One where you are sort of anxious to hear their response when you do the ol' next day follow-up call.

Thats where the relationship started to get a little rocky. Feels didn't quite recreate the magic of the first date. "Maybe I'll try another," I optimistically thought. Spirit They've Gone, Spirit They've Vanished was more of the same crappy second date. We just weren't clicking like we were the first night. Sung Tongs was my last attempt. I knew people who swore by it, kind of like that cheap chinese food place that everybody goes to when they need a quick, "I'm cool cause I like cool hole in the wall places and I hope it impresses you" date. But that was it. She wasn't into Chinese food.

Needless to say I took a pass on Strawberry Jam when it came out showered with fanfare and praise. Time passed and I rarely ventured back into the Animal Collective. We would say "hi" on the street, real cordial like, but I couldn't muster up the effort to make it work much more than that. But you know how sometimes you can see the same girl in a new setting, or hear someone talk about how great she is and all of the sudden there is a new attraction? Well Merriweather Post Pavillion has done just that. I am willing to do a mid-week, buy your own lunch, catch up on "old times" date with Animal Collective again.

Here is how it went.

There she is. I wanted to get here first. Can I believe the hype?

3:52 into track 1: Is this song a remix of something? Have I heard this story before?

4:40 into track 2: Is this a G rated DIY hip-hop song made on GarageBand?

0:40 into Summertime Clothes: This is kinda cool. Some syncopated synth. I do remember a little now why I was so into her that first night.

4:46 into track 5: This is turning into annoying background noise. Why is this album any different than another Animal Collective album?

1:00 into track 8: Powering through this now. Gotta get a refill on my soda. Some nice harmonies and all, but I think if she wore a little less eye make-up it would be to her benefit.

1:41 into the last song: Why is this any better or worse than our last three attempts at making it work? Someone please help me. I am floundering. I need a good excuse to leave. Wait. Maybe I'll stay. I am kind of digging this. Maybe I am starting to see why I liked her again.

I left with just enough to listen again.
Enough for a trip to that burrito place next time you are free, my treat.

Breakfast at the Merriweather Post Pavilion (Part I)

Apparently the Merriweather Post Pavilion is an amphitheater in Maryland. Thanks, Google. For our purposes, it's also a highly praised Animal Collective album.

(Part 1 of a potentially Infinity-Part Series intended to be a running diary of our experiences listening to Animal Collective’s latest, Merriweather Post Pavilion, which has already been coronated the Best Album of 2009 by blogs and critics alike. We’lll see about that.)

In full disclosure, I am a complete Animal Collective (AC, from here on out) newbie. I know that I was supposed to have lost my mind and saliva to the sounds of Strawberry Jam or, if I were cooler, some earlier album years ago. But I didn’t. I’ve always been AC-curious, with all the hip hype and posting praises being sung. So, as part of my New Year’s Resolution to be less musically narrow, I’m jumping in.

Appropriately, my first taste of AC was the song Taste. I immediately like it. I’m not sure how the video game glitchy stuff will age for me with repeated listens, but it feels good today. In some ways, this is what I expected after reading up on AC: good, poppy melodies with texturey, sometimes crowded, active production. There’s a lot going on. No one will accuse them of minimalism. But I can appreciate the unbridled indulgence in this careful economy.

Do they get compared to the Shins a lot? I haven't loked. The voice for sure has some of the same -isms. And the melodies they choose also share the Shins’ (and to some degree New Pornographers) leanings towards undeniably hooky but rewardingly unexpected lines. It’s hooky, but not in the radio-targeted way that the hitmakers write for the Kelly Clarksons and Avril Lavignes of the world.

So far so good.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Season Shocker: T-Mac Milks Injury

This never happens. Tracy McGrady takes some time off this season due to an ailing body? Maybe he's taking a page from his new teammate Ron Artest, who- a few seasons ago- requested some time off from the Pacers to promote an album he co-produced. Either way, T-Mac's undefiled reputation as a gritty, infallible, road-tested warrior might take a hit.

Maybe while he's out he can work on his shot. Career-low 38% FG. And, while he's at it, make a push to get some of those Allure albums out of the bargain bin.

Friday, January 9, 2009

To Our Competition, From The Blazers

Dear Competing Teams in the NBA,

Don't take advantage of the mistake we made that we hoped no one would notice

A few years ago we signed a dope to a contract that was much more lucrative than he deserved. You've all been there before. Anyway, his salary still counts against our salary cap number so if anyone were to sign him to a guaranteed contract, it would come back to haunt us for the next two years. Rather than asking you nicely, which has been debated amongst the front office, we are going to issue a playground bully threat. We have no way of enforcing it really, but we are threatening to sue if you even think about it.
Let us reiterate:

Don't take advantage of the mistake we made that we hoped no one would notice and sign Darius Miles

WE have really set ourselves up to compete for multiple Championships over the next couple years and have a bunch of young guys that we are going to have to give long term contracts too. These contracts will probably also be worth more than they should be, but that is beside the point. We don't want to have to give extra lunch money to David.

The Front Office of the TrailBlazers

p.s. Don't forward this on to the Commish.

Portland to competing GMs: Don't take advantage of the mistake we made that we hoped no one would notice

Memo to Portland: You screwed up. Don't expect a competitive league to just ignore the dumb thing you did. Miles can play. Your medical clearance was bogus.

If I were the Clippers or ex-Seattle, I would sign him today just out of spite. What a lame playground threat.

There's no way you can determine why a team's signing him either. Are we all of the sudden going to ask for motive when somebody trades for some personified expiring contract with no intent of playing said player even a minute? Since when do teams have to justify their roster? And if the motive is to put Portland at a financial disadvantage, it is a smart move. Maybe a little dirty, but legal and, yes, smart.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

More Headlines Than A Scowling Old Man

Mehmet Has the Last Word

We can finally put to rest the great debate of who was the best big man of the 2001 NBA Draft. Mehmet Okur got the best of Tyson Chandler again in their head to head match up.

Okur's line 20 and 7 60% FG 100% 3FG

Chandler's line 7 and 4 60% FG 0% 3FG

And Memo did that in THREE less minutes than TC6
Put down your pen Mr. Sports Writer as Memo had the last word
Let Memo be Memo and TC6 be TC6

Everything Must Go! 7 Day Sale at The Matrix

Day one of the West Coast Shawn Marion Clearance Sale started off on the right foot for the struggling retailer giant.

Marion's line 25 and 13 56% FG 2 steals in 41 minutes

Now that is how you move merchandise folks

Celtics Decide To Kick W Out Of Office Early

After setting the record for best 30 game start, the Celtics have decided to try their hand at setting the worst 30 game record. Boston just wants it all. And maybe there is a little of KG missing his time in Minnesota and trying to make it feel a little more like home in Beantown. Oh how the New Year makes us nostalgic.

On a brighter note, Ray Allen's shooting touch from the first three rounds of last year's Playoffs seems to be returning

Ray's line 4-13 FG 1-4 3FG 13 PTS

Trillion Man March Updates

Brian Scalabrine missed his opportunity at back to back Club Trillion performances by committing a foul. Good Try Anyway Brian!

Jarron Collins put up a nice 4 trillion last night.