Friday, June 26, 2009

We Keep Waiting

Rewind to mid-February. Rumors were rampant of blockbuster trades to shed salaries. But all we ended up with was Jermaine to the Heat, Chauncey to Denver and a few other minor trades that were over hyped due to the lack of movement. Then we waited for Utah to become the sleeper in the West, Shaq to put the Suns in a first round match-up with Kobe, LeBron to collect his first title, KG to come hobbling out of the tunnel and be an instant "Where Amazing Happens" commercial. But as much as we hoped for it, nothing happened. Orlando made the Finals beating both Boston and Cleveland who were scheduled to battle for the Finals from the get go of the season. The Lakers silenced darlings all the way to the Larry O'Brien trophy; Houston and Chris Rock Jr's Red bow tie, Denver and Chauncy's home coming and finally Orlando's hot shooting. Time and again we (or maybe just me) kept talking ourselves into something new and exciting that could happen, that we wanted to happen.

Then the NBA Draft started creeping up on us. And the days prior to it were like a page taken from a video game where you make the computer accept ridiculous trades in order to load your team up. Shaq to Cleveland. 5 months too late. VC to Orlando. A big game choker to a team that recently did just that only in the process they their only two clutch players; Hedo and Courtney Lee (I don't think Lee's missed lob was his fault at all) Richard Jefferson and his tiny ears to the Spurs. How fast do you think it took for RC Buford (best GM name ever) to say yes to this one? I say he put his hand over the phone and whispered over to Pop something like, "Would you trade your '96 Corolla, '94 Ford Ranger and $500 bucks for a '05 5 series?" To which Pop replied, "Is that the Bucks on the other line?"

So now we have Cleveland, Phoenix, Orlando, New Jersey and Milwaukee talking themselves into things. The Shaq Era, The Steve Kerr Era, The Vinsanity Era, 2010 Leftovers in Jersey, and the Fabricio Bogut Era. Maybe these trades will end up being just what everyone needs, but I'll wait until I'm proved wrong.

The Draft was a night of Stu Scott, Marc Jackson and JVG trying to get excited about each draft pick and at the same time avoid eye contact with Jay Bilas. Even the "at the chair" interviews were painful, like trying to get through a blind date with your aunt's neighbor's daughter at Red Robin painful.

Looking at the first two quarters of music, there is a bit of a parallel. Earlier we highlighted a few anticipated releases for the first half of the year, which never really panned out to be what he had hoped. We keep hoping, waiting for that to change. Signs point for that to happen next week. So stay tuned.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

NBA Finals Wrap Up

Okay so this is about a week and a half late. Who really cares besides the 90,000 fans in the Rose Bowl? And don't we need a little NBA to keep us going until the Draft? I mostly want to reiterate a few things that Spike brought up and ramble about a few other things that were a bit overlooked amongst all the "First Without Shaq" hype.

1. Phil Jackson. Great Coach. He is an opportunist but I will finally admit that he has earned the right to be such. And as long as he doesn't get too Brett Favre on us every offseason (oh wait...that has already happened EVERY YEAR for the last who knows how many) he can wear all ten rings around any time he chooses. We'll let time tell us if he will have to consult the great Bill Russell on where to wear the 11th.

2. Kobe Bryant. The Best Front Runner. He got his, first without Shaq. First with Gasol. Thats how I am referring to it. The most dominant Euro big man since Sabonis. A two time All Star, Rookie of the Year, Silver Medalist. The guy is good. Good enough to carry LA to the Playoffs without Kobe, but if I recall, there was a year before they got Pau when Kobe couldn't shoulder the load. Let us also remember this. If KG isn't injured, Kobe is watching the Celtics parade up and down the Back Bay for the second straight year. And if the Cavs would have pulled the trigger on Shaq in February, LeBron and Lil Dez would be hitting the late night circuit as we speak. (Side note: The Cavs are now in talks to acquire Shaq. Let me be the first to say that this is about 6 months too late. Shaq played his best ball of the last 3 years to finish out the 08-09 season and he most likely will not be doing an encore for 82 more games. They should have bought high. Find me a Cavs fan who, given the choice, would take Wally and Ben Wallace's broken leg instead of The Shaq Attack.) He is still the only NBA player immortalized here.

3. Best NBA Players of All Time (Top 10) Jordan, Russell, Wilt, Bird, Magic, Oscar, Kareem, Julius, Shaquille, Duncan.

4. Orlando Magic. Lets say you are in charge of PR for an NBA franchise. And said franchise has a dark spot on its not so storied history involving missed free throws in a clutch moment of an NBA Finals game. Would you invite that player back as part of a pre game celebration before the first game on your home court? And a follow up, would you expect it to not make a mental impact on the current team? Well guess what...

The Finals were great. Two overtime games and another that hung in the balance as time wound down. I could have easily been Orlando in 5 as it was LA in 5.

So I guess we should just hit the gym and start counting down.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Finals, pt. Over

No one's gonna start MVP chants for me; that much is assured. Which oughta keep some of the pressure off me as I try to step up and give my team the W, unlike- say- Dwight Howard at the charity stripe in crunchtime and the brilliant citizens of Orlando.

No one's gonna call me Mr. Clutch either, though. I'm not nailing gamewinners here. I still think the Rambis parallel from the last post is probably the best, most accurate description. I'm just trying to make some hustle plays while the stars catch their breath.

Enough about me. The Finals are over. And two things are written in stone:

1. Kobe has four rings, one without Shaq.

2. Phil Jackson has more championships than the legendary Red Auerbach.

I'm not stating anything groundbreaking, that hasn't been spit out, regurgitated, analyzed, thesaurused, re-analyzed, counter-analyzed, plagiarized, cleverly reworded, and re-regurgitated a billion times by the story-starved media (the best and maybe most honest article of which- at least that I read- is here). They're just the stark, unavoidable facts.

This is the part where- to give context- I have to confess to my anti-Lakerhood. Even though, I grew up a fan (after the Jazz) of Magic, Worthy, Byron Scott, Kareem, Cooper, Rambis, Mychal Thompson, etc. But, if I could do it over again, you know who I'd like? The Celtics. They had less flash, more soul, more Bird. But how do you tell that to a 4th grader in Utah who wants to see no look passes and is too hoop-immature to grasp exactly what makes Bird ridiculously once-in-a-lifetime? Thank goodness for ESPN Classic where, even if I can't change the outcome, I can revise MY history.

Is it jealousy? Maybe. But I think it's just that the post-Magic Laker teams have not been all that likable. Kobe. Van Exel. Vlade. Vujacitch. Rick Fox. Elden Campbell. The only one close to winning Miss Congeniality in that list is Sasha. And the only thing that makes him more likely than the other guys is the fact that he's a bitch.

Still, to complicate matters, I inexplicably rooted for the Lake Show when Gary Payton and Karl Malone joined. Shaq, despite the fact that I was rooting for him, would've called me a frontrunner. But I wanted The Mailman to get the monkey (and media) off his back. And he came within a fluke knee injury (I mean. Come on. That guy was a picture of pure health for his whole career, played through injuries all the time...what are the chances?) of getting one.

Speaking of monkeys, let's get back to the present. Kobe got the Can't Win Without Shaq monkey off his back. Plain and simple. I wished he wouldn't. But he did. I rooted against him in every situation except those outlined by Charlie T. But he's officially in the One Of The Bests (note the plural, please, no singular) conversation, no matter how many times I pinch myself.

Same with The Zenmeister. Folks can point to the luck of the draw, the talent closet he was choosing from, but the guy wins. The difference here is that Phil has entered the The Best conversation. I wanted that conversation to always end up at Red, I'll admit that. But there is nothing but room for debate. And Phil isn't done. Can the Lakers do it again? Does it matter? Will Phil somehow end up coaching LeBron? I wouldn't say it's impossible.

Because if we've learned anything from the last couple years it's


Friday, June 12, 2009

Finals, pt. 2

I feel like Magic with Kareem out. Except instead of Magic, I'm Rambis. And I've gotta play every position from the 1 to the 5. And I'm not sure how I'm gonna swing it. There's no How-To manual to get me through this. I've just gotta go.

Charlie is out. He's been carrying the blog on his shoulders. And, before the Finals end and Kobe gets to wear another ring and enters the next level in the Pantheon of Greats (though, if my sources are correct, he can ascend no higher in the Pantheon of Least Likable Douches), somebody has to punch out a part 2. You can't have a part 1 without a part 2, unless you're the Traveling Wilburys, in which case you just skip to part 3.

Some thoughts on the Finals:

Derek Fisher: How Does He Do It?
I watched the final game of the Western Conference Finals with at least 6 friends of mine who are insane Laker fans. One was wearing a Devean George jersey, the rest had some kind of Lakers gear on, some of it homemade. And even they - the diehards- didn't trust Derek Fisher. SO ERRATIC. They all admitted that they like him for his legacy and his on-games, but also for the fact that He's The Least Of Their PG Evils. Gotta love a championship team whose go-to PG gets the spot by sentimental default.

And to further the enigma, the guy taints his legacy with a pretty out-of-character, but probably all-time punk move on Scola only to be redeemed by hitting moneyballs in the Finals. EVEN THOUGH HE HAD BEEN A NONFACTOR AT BEST, arguably outplayed by the schizo-insecure Magic PGs, clutch shots make up for just about anything. Derek Fisher, how do you do it?

Dwight Howard: Russell in Reverse
Just like history will gloss over everything but the clutch shots for Fisher, Howard's near Russellian triple double (a block short) will likely be forgotten. And the memory that will carry on like Eagles Reunion tours and Jimi Hendrix beer cozies, logical or not, is the missed FTs. And, down the road, mark my words, you won't be able to see Howard's misses without seeing Nick Anderson (bless his heart)'s misses. Howard's got a long career ahead of him; I hope history is kind. But you know who's most relieved? Courtney Lee.

That's a start. I wouldn't call it a baby hook. But it's at very least a really, fiesty rebound.

Admitted Stopgap Post

Charlie T is off in New York City getting nuptialized. If Spike Lee weren't so busy dangling from Kobe's strap, surely he'd be filming "Charlie T Doin' Work." Good for Charlie T. Congrats to him and the new Mrs. Chuck T. Good folks.

It's perfect timing too, as I have neglected my blogging duties in the wake of trying to be a touring musician, trying to stay nonmusically employed, and other lame and unlame excuses that no other respectable blogger would even think of mentioning. Which is fine, because who ever said anything about being respectable around here?

Moving on.

I don't have much of an angle on anything today, but I have a couple of links:

Rick Paulus might as well write for us, with this piece comparing baseball players to 1994 rock radio. This is the kind of music/sports hybrid article that jumpstarted this blog. Well done, Rick. (Sidenote: Simmons doesn't like Pearl Jam's Vitalogy? Who cares? The guy thought Vampire Weekend was depressogoth.)

Speaking of Sports Guy, who now has one more ESPN commercial to his name than Alyssa Milano does, here he breaks down the breakdown in Game 4.

OK. Fine. Here you go:

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Finals, pt 1

You can only assess things after two games in a long series. I've said it before and this is me saying it again.

That said, I was a little concerned after Game 1 with the commentary from the Dream Crew. So I decided to do a running diary of sorts, following the game and the commentary of Breen, Van Gundy and Jackson. I wanted to be sure that the best were bringing their A game to the Finals just as they expect both teams to do.

(Just one quick thing before the Calls of the Game. I don't need to see anymore graphics about Kobe in Game 1. We get it. Kobe scored 40 points. They guy took 34 shots. 34. And about half of those came with his team already up 15 points. The Greatest Front Runner)

Here are the calls.

"A brick from Vujacic in the corner." (Breen)

Things are starting off good in so many ways.

"The Magic need a solid game from Lewis or Turkoglu, not a great one just a good one." (Breen)

Is this telling you how terrible the Magic played in Game 1 or does it say how shallow the Laker team is?

"Orlando needs a guy who can get his own shot." (JVG)

They also need a guy who can take a charge.

"Dwight Howard is a rarity. He does not curse, he does not swear." (Breen)

I think this was meant as a compliment, but I think it is telling of Howard's aggressiveness.

"They [Magic] should have gone inside and shot a layup." (JVG)

Which game does this relate to?

Kobe makes two shots in two possessions and then this follows.

"Here he goes." (Breen)
"Courtney Lee is thinking 'Oh no not again'" (Jackson)

Then Kobe goes on to score 10 very overstated points in the third while Hedo score 14 extremely understated points. They are approaching the Doug Collins Zone of Superstar Favoritism.

"These are the worst fast breaks I have ever seen." (JVG)

Now there's the JVG we love. Calling it like he sees it.

The moment we've all been waiting for....The Phil Interview.

Coach you talked abou tgetting a flow in that last timeout. How do you do that?

You move the ball.

"JJ Reddick ties the game with 2:19 to play!" (Breen)

I think he was more surprised than excited.

"How many guys say 'Dwight Howard, bail me out?'" (Jackson)

The entire Magic team. On the defensive end.

"Hedo plays defense on Bryant one on one and says 'Hedon't'" (Jackson)

The gem of the night.

OVERTIME. I'm just going to watch this now. But I'd say the Dream Crew is doing an above average job. They've got the Finals jitters out....and it seems Orlando does too.

One last note, I love that Stan Van Gundy was holding a cup of Gatorade in his hand as he watched that final play happen.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pre Finals Preparations, 300 edition


Sparta: The Orlando Magic
They have the new and different way of playing (heavy on 3pt shooting) much like the unique Phalanx Formation of the Greeks.

King Leonidas: Stan Van Gundy (not because of stature, but because of yelling power)
Queen Gorgo: Dwight Howard (always concerned with his team getting the proper support from the nation)
Dilios: Hedo Turkoglu (it couldn't hurt his to have an eye patch and I see him telling the story of these Finals someday to a small village in Turkey)
Ephialtes: This role is still open for casting. It could be Rafer if he decides to betray the Magic with some erratic play, it could be Jameer if his injury/recovery proves to disrupt the Magic rotation or it could be Otis Smith, the Magic GM, who gave away Trevor Ariza to the Lakers for nothing (assuming Ariza becomes a crucial part to stopping the 3pt barrage). It could also be Tiger Woods who has Magic season tickets but LOVES the Lakers.

Persia: The Los Angeles Lakers

Xerxes: Who else but Kobe Bryant (there is none other more vain and arrogant than he)

The rest of Persia is anyone else on the Lakers, in Laker Nation, jumping on the Kobe Top Ten Players of All Time Bandwagon, anyone that despises Orlando for any reason (that includes you, basketball purists). There are a lot more of them than Magic Fans.

So, Stan Van Gundy, seeing that its going to be a difficult series, climbs to the top of Mount Lee (behind the Hollywood Sign) to once again pay his dues to the 3pt gods and ask for 6 more games of effectiveness. The 3pt gods consist of Steve Kerr, Reggie Miller, Craig Hodges, Mario Elie, Glen Rice, Mark Price, Dale Ellis, Tim Legler and the Magic's own Dennis Scott. These guys sit around all day and watch highlights of themselves shooting 3pt shots and arguing who is better. So SVG offers up all he has, some gray sport coats and black mock turtle necks in exchange for 45%+ shooting. The council debates and says yes, but as SVG heads back down into the Hollywood hills, Phil Jackson steps out with the entire squad of Laker Girls, handing one off to each council member and laughs creepily as some lightning crashes behind him.

So to battle they go at the Staples. SVG confident in his game plan that has worked for 3 straight series (arguably the toughest road of anyone to the Finals) They give LA a tough game but fall in the end of Game 1. Xerxes barely breaks a sweat though because for some inexplicable reason Derek Fisher has returned to 2001 form, Ariza is lights out and as a team they make 10 of 12 3's.

Orlando takes the second game in another tight one, but it only angers Xerxes who vows to send his elites to Orlando to dispose of them. Orlando prevails against the first wave, winning game 3, but is so beaten down that the series goes back to LA with the Lakers leading 3-2. Again Xerxes is still sitting on his throne, accepting all the praise. At this point it is becoming obvious that the 3pt gods are not with Orlando as they are shooting 22%.

The only thing keeping them in is Dwight going for 40 and 20 a night while 6 Lakers hang all over him. Going back to LA he knows he has to lobby for aid. He makes his case to the league by showing highlights of his embarrassing stunts in the dunk contests, his efforts in the Olympics, and taking a pass by Shaq between his legs during the All Star game. The league debates and decided that if he will sell himself out to Nike, so they can finally have a replacement roommate for Puppet Kobe, that they will turn the tide.

Dwight and the Spartans are confident with two games let to play that it will be a Magic victory. And in game 6 it is. But Xerxes is still yet to exert himself. In game 7 he comes down from his throne and wipes everyone out; Lakers, Magic, fans, Jack, Los Angeleans, Mickey Mouse...everyone. He relishes the bloodshed and his happiness grows with each kill. And once the game is over and he has his 4th trophy he yells out "I told you I could do it on my own...I told you I didn't need andy help...Hey Shaq, How this taste?" But only then does he realize that he has destroyed everyone, that there is nobody left to worship him after his victory. Filled with sadness, Xerxes turns and faces west, and slowly walks out to into the ocean until he has disappeared.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pre Finals Preparations, Injury Report

With player's health playing into much of the chatter going into the big opener, we thought we would give you the straight story on the important injuries.

Dwight Howard (respect) is recovering and should be at full strength by tip off.

Jameer Nelson (shoulder) doesn't matter. Two words: Fisher and Farmar.

Kobe Bryant (ego) is completely healthy.

Magic Johnson (stroking Kobe's ego) is day to day as long as he doesn't actually believe what he says.

Mo Williams (eye) hurts a lot more now.

Danny Ferry (anxiety) is seeking a specialist in New York.

Nick Anderson (memory) is haunting him a little more than usual.

Stan Van Gundy (Laryngitis) is cleared to yell again.

Phil Jackson (frankensteinitis) just took a lightning bolt to the head. Should be good to whistle for a couple more games now.

Rafer Alston (ego + playing time) is looking over his shoulder.

LA and Orlando (fans) are sure there is something going on at the arena but not quite clear on what. Better go find out.