Orlando Magic season-ticket holder Hooman Hamzehloui earned himself a season-long ban by allegedly calling alleged-center Dikembe Mutombo a racial slur during a preseason game. You can imagine how surprising this turn of events was for us. We had no idea the Magic even had season ticket holders.

The logical human side of me recognizes how tasteless, yet ironic, this altercation is. Hooman Hamzehloui is of Middle Eastern descent, an ethnicity that has been a lightning rod of endless racism in this country since 9/11. But apparently this guy for a moment felt this country wasn't racist enough, grinding his axe on a humanitarian that has donated millions of dollars to build hospitals in empoverished third world countries.

However, the illogical basketblogger would be quick to point out there are dozens of harmless, yet more creative ways you can rib this marginally talented 55-year old center. Start off with Mutombo's infamous pickup line, and throw in the fact that for every time he's done that damn infuriating finger-wag,
he's been dunked on at least three times. Or that he's fluent in 9 languages yet I haven't understood a single word he's said since 1992. Or how he should be thankful that defensive 3-second calls in the league are only marginal at best, since you could clock him with an hourglass down there.

But I digress. Mutombo is the victim in this situation, and
he has wholeheartedly accepted Hooman's apology. And, for Hooman's sake, I hope Black folks across the country have accepted his apology as well, since a casual Google search unearths way too much information on this guy...


I had the opportunity to go to the Chicago Bulls scrimmage and autograph session last weekend. I'll give you my $.02...

Autograph sessions have been known to cause the average person to suddenly become obsessed with even the most marginal of NBA players. I should know...we can smell our own. Beforehand, I ran to the nearest Wal-Mart and bought two cheesy Chicago Bulls miniballs, secretly hoping Malik Allen's unexpected Hall-0f-Fame career will pay for my vacation home in Cozumel. And I actually considered digging out my copy of Xbox NBA 2k5 (the one with Ben Wallace on the cover), because a copy of an outdated game on an outdated system will be worth MILLIONS if it's signed, right?

What I didn't expect is to get completely shut out at the autograph line. We arrived early and stood outdoors 45 minutes only to find out that the first ~1,500 people would get any autograph at all; each player was only scheduled to sign 300 autographs. The remaining 8,000 are welcome to stand around and bitch.

But it wasn't a complete loss. We roamed around and got a few pics of the players, most of whom had their heads down and were cranking out their scribbles sweatshop-style. Ben Wallace was pratically mobbed and we were shooed away before we could get a good picture. PJ Brown was chatting with everyone and taking pictures with kids. I'm thinking these people were mistaking him for Antonio Davis, but that's a guess.

Then we had the priviledge to watch a 20-minute inter-squad scrimmage! (
We weren't the only basketbloggers in attendance) This essentially gave the starters a chance to publically humiliate a team of rookies and NBDL callups. And the starters didn't disappoint, opening up a 20-point lead in the first 5 minutes, culminated with Ben Gordon posterizing Tyrus Thomas in transition.

Afterwards, players and fans teamed up for a 3-point shootout. Chris Duhon and some kid won the 3-point shootout, Kirk Hinrich totally choked and was outscored by the kid, who was allowed to take 15-footers for some reason.

But that's not the good part! Afterwards the rookies were subjected to
a grueling round of "Simon Says". And no, I don't mean a modified game of "horse", and I don't mean that crappy Dennis Rodman movie. I mean "Simon Says" of the 3rd grade, pat your head and rub your stomach variety. I originally thought this was some frivilous entertainment for the kids in attendance, but when the host is a professional Simon Says-ologist, obviously the losers will fall out of the regular season rotation, or be waived. Tyrus Thomas luckily held on to win, but was in trouble when "Simon Says score in the low post" came up. But don't just take my word for it.
Shaquille O'neal, who "boasts" a lifetime freethrow shooting percentage of 52, is now 0-for-1...on SWAT raids for Internet child porn.

The Big Aristotle apparently became the Big Frank Drebin last month when he helped a special anti-child porn police unit called the"Blue Ridge Thunder" terrorize a family at gunpoint. Apparently, the not-so-special-after-all unit made a mistake while tracing an IP address and ended up at the wrong home. Afterward, the victim, one A.J. Nuckols, wrote a nasty letter to the editor of his local newspaper. Here is a brief excerpt:
"On Saturday morning, Sept. 23, 2006, many police vehicles appeared in our driveway. Men in black with flak jackets ran to and around our house. Men ran at me, dropped into shooting position, double-handed semi-automatic pistols pointed at me, and made me put my hands against my truck. I was held at gunpoint, searched, taunted, and led into the house. Our home was searched by a para-military search-and-seizure team.Our computers, digital camera, disposable cameras, DVD's, and VHS tapes were seized.We were held in our home under guard for five hours.Our children came home and were also interrogated.It was awful. We were accused of horrible crimes, crimes that even the mention of would ruin our reputations."
Now personally, I've never been menanced by police officers, let alone police officers who were accompanied by a giant man who could kill me with a single, clubbing blow. But it doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to figure out that it would be pretty scary. Then you add the accusations of child pornography on top of it, and it turns into one big day of suckitude for Mr. Nuckols and his family. Even more amazing, the investigation will apparently go on for six to nine months. Fantastic...the fun never ends.

The original article points out that Shaq isn't doesn't just have an honorary badge; he's a fully qualified reserve member of the Blue Ridge Thunder and Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, complete with sidearm and license to kill.

And is all that really necessary? Did the Japanese give Godzilla a license to eat Tokyo? Did John give Garfield permission to kick Odie off the table? Did anyone give the living dead the right to eat my fresh, delicious brains? No, no, and no. Some things nature takes care of on its own. Shaq is giant and powerful, and therefore entitled to wreak havok when and where he pleases. Fortunately for us mere mortals, he has chosen to rule the 15x12 foot area referred to as "The Paint" on most basketball courts. Let's keep him there, people. We don't need to give one of the most dangerous men on our planet hunks of metal that fire out smaller hunks of metal at high velocities. That's like giving the Hulk a bag of nukes, or putting poisonous barbs on a grizzly bear.

Keeping Our Kids Safe With Shaq: I never knew how dedicated Shaq was to protecting kids from Internet predators. When he was deputized and made a member of The Blue Ridge Thunder, Shaq had this to say:
"Today's criminals are hiding behind computer screens, fake names and fraudulent identities, all with the intention of exploiting and harming our youth. I'm proud to help the Safe Surfin' Foundation get the word out to parents, kids, and communities about Internet safety and help law enforcement track down and lock up sexual predators."
I'm sure that quote was in no way written by Shaq's publicist, and that it came straight from the heart buried deep within his massive chest cavity, which could probably house a small family of four (who, if they know what's good for them, won't surf for kiddie porn). According to recent studies, four to five child predators have died of fear each day since Shaq was deputized. That's scientific fact. To learn more about Shaq's effort to destroy all child molesters in this universe, visit www.SafeSurfinCentral.org.
Thanks to the miracle of modern Internet auctions, you can now purchase a night of debauchery with the self-styled "king of partying" Dennis Rodman:

"You can spend the night out with Dennis Rodman for the Scores Las Vegas Halloween Party. One winner can bring 2 guests, for time of their life with Dennis Rodman. The night will be spend at Scores Las Vegas, a gentleman's club located in the heart of Sin City. Scores is Las Vegas' one stop shop where your fantasy will become reality. A sit down dinner with Dennis will kick off the night and then to the VIP section of Scores for the duration. Wild would not give this night enough credit. Pictures will be allowed. The winner and their guests will each receive an autographed photo of Dennis. Includes airfare and accommodations."
So there you have it. For the low starting price of $7,500 USD, you can have the Halloween strip club adventure with Dennis Rodman that you've been secretly dreaming about since puberty. According to the auction description, "100% of all proceeds will be donated to the Asthmatic League." So even though a gyrating stripper will probably transmit her gonorrhea right through your jeans, at least you'll know that the swollen testicles, painful urination, and thick, copious, urethral pus discharge are simply part of your contribution to a good cause.

Despite an exhaustive Google search for "porn star Chrissy Cums boobies," I was unable to discover any information about the so-called "Asthmatic League." Therefore I can only assume it's some kind of fake charity invented by Rodman's marketing company so that 100 percent of all proceeds actually go to cover his lap dances for the night. Oh, and the current number of bids? Zero. Better hurry...you only have one day and five hours left to bid.

As strange as it may sound, this isn't the first time a famous celebrity has shamelessly sold himself on eBay. Read on for the full, sad story...

Where Are They Now: Brutus Beefcake Edition

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) educated us about complex political structures and sociological processes using common Jungian archetypes, such as insane clowns, crappy Elvis impersonators, undead monsters, and maniac steriod abusers, most or all of whom hailed from parts unknown. But there was another man who defied convention and forever changed the way we felt about super-strong wrestling barbers. His real name was Ed Leslie, but literally tens of people knew him better as Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake.

Like most great American heroes, Brutus came from humble beginnings. He didn't always wrestle and cut hair. Originally, he just wrestled, using such uninspired aliases as "Ed Boulder" and "Dizzy Hogan". But after years of fighting nobodies like
Steve Lombardi and attending cosmetology school at night, he was ready for the big time. At Wrestlemania III, he officially became "The Barber" by cutting the hair of a defeated gay man. It seemed like the future of the wrestling world finally belonged to a man who can rightly be called the greatest wrestling barber of all time. But it was not to be.

Barber on top
The greatest wrestling barber ever.

He had everything a man could possibly want: skin-tight yellow pants that showed off his ass, shiny new garden shears he could use for barbering, hair that was both feathered and lethal, and a little sparkly bowtie he could wear even when he didn't have a shirt on. He was even best friends with Hulk Hogan, and to that point Hulkamania (which Wikipedia describes as a "powerful cultural movement") had never failed anyone. But fate is a cruel and tempestuous mistress; a few weeks before he was supposed to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam, Brutus destroyed his face in a parasailing accident. Three plastic surgeons spent eight hours trying to repair his face, but to no avail; the end result looked like it was done by a few retarded 5-year-olds using only simple construction paper and tin foil. The Texas Tornado ended up winning the Intercontinental Championship, and Brutus sank slowly and pathetically into wrestling obscurity.

I'm sad to say that, as I grew up and actually starting having sex with women, I lost track of the Barber. Apparently he made a few comebacks that never took. I had all but forgotten about Brutus until I heard about an
eBay auction that was selling a date with Brutus. The auction announcement read as follows:

"This auction is for a night out for dinner with legendary former WWE superstar Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake. The winner and their guest will be picked up in a limo and taken out to dinner with Brutus. They will also receive signed pictures from Hulk Hogan, Hawk from Legion of Doom, 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan, Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine, and 3 different shots of Brutus himself signed to the winner. The winner will also receive a signed Brutus doll from his WWF days. Take this chance to meet one of wrestlers [sic] biggest superstars and get all the wrestling dirt you always wanted to know from the man closest to Hulk. The winner must live in Massachusetts or provide their own transportation to Massachusetts and anyone under the age of 18 must have an adult as their guest. Please e-mail me with any questions and certain dates are not available due to other wrestling commitments."
It was tragically depressing. Not only was the man selling himself on public auction, he was trying to bribe potential buyers with pictures of other wrestlers. The auction had a picture of a giant, sloshing pork beast I can only assume was Brutus. He was wearing a Tampa Bay Buccaneers t-shirt and zubaz pants, and he was giving a cheesy "thumbs up" sign, as if to say, "I am very happy to be selling what's left of my dignity and self-respect. Now please help me...help me...." The auction ended after only one bid of $500. Was that a little pricey for a used-up, over-the-hill wrestling barber? Maybe. But still, a little piece of my soul died that day.

It's tempting to think that Brutus had hit rock bottom at this point, but, believe it not, things got worse. In 2004, Brutus caused a
terror scare at a Massachusetts Bay subway station. At the time, Brutus was working for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority as a part-time fare collector at a ticket booth in the subway. Unfortunately for Brutus and innocent, doe-eyed wrestling fans everywhere, the Barber left a bag of cocaine in the booth and a subway rider thought that it was anthrax. And since George W. Bush wants us to believe that there may be a miniature terrorist armed with Weapons Of Mass Destruction hiding in every tiny bag of white powder, the building was evacuated. Brutus came clean and checked himself into a drug rehabilitation facility. The whole situation is kind of ironic, considering that Brutus was a key player in the WWF's anti-drug campaign in the early 90s.

Barber - no drugs
Unfortunately, Brutus didn't follow his own advice.

So what's left for a fat, unemployed, former drug-addict and wrestler? Why a celebrity guest spot at a Toys for Tots holiday party of course!

Barber 2
This is just sad.

This is the last known picture of Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake. Not the way I want to remember him: out of shape, dressed like a gay zebra, wearing a fanny pack, and wielding a dangerous gardening tool at a toy party for underpriveleged children. This is where Brutus' story goes from sad, to fucking sad, to tragically fucking sad. It almost makes me ashamed to say I used to be a wrestling fan.
After a hectic and tumultuous off-season in which he only got a couple months off, Dwyane Wade is now left dragging his poor, huddled mass into this new NBA season. But it doesn't feel like a new season to him; it feels over halfway over:

"Wade said after a whirlwind offseason that included six weeks with the U.S. national team that his legs feel like he's already 60 games into the season."
Miami Heat fans need to take action. And by "action," I mean they need to buy a few hundred tubes of Vagisil and send it to American Airlines Arena...and fast. Because the real problem has nothing to do with fatigue, it has to do with Wade being an enormous, heaving, itching vagina.

Got that "not-so-fresh" feeling, Dwyane? I've got just the thing...

Now, I'm a big fan of Dwyane Wade, just like I'm a fan of Lebron James. But I'm amazed at how bitchy and moany these guys are. Exhausted at 24 and 22, respectively? That's insane. I really don't remember that being an issue for the original Dream Team. In fact, let's look at some numbers from the 1992-93 season to see how they followed up their gold medal effort in the summer of '92:

1. Charles Barkley: At the ripe old age of 30, Sir Charles averged 25/12/5 (shooting 52 percent from the field) , leading the Phoenix Suns to 62 wins and a trip to the NBA Finals. Did I mention he was the league MVP? Did I also mention he led the Dream Team in scoring and minutes per game? Did I mention he never once mentioned having tired legs?

2. Michael Jordan: Well, let's see -- 32 points (on 50 percent shooting), 6 rebounds, 5 assists. His team won 57 games, he was the runner up in MVP voting, and he won his 3rd straight NBA title and Finals MVP award. And at 30, he only missed three games...and one of those missed games was a suspension for punching Reggie Miller in the face.

3. Scottie Pippen: Produced 18/7/6 on a nightly basis, and was part of the previously mentioned Bulls threepeat. Still dreadfully ugly, but not exhausted.

4. Patrick Ewing: Scored 25 PPG on 50 percent shooting to go along with 12 RPG. His Knicks won 60 games, which was the second best record in the league that season. And if Charles Smith gets a well-deserved whistle in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, they probably would have made it to the Finals. He may have looked like the missing link, but he finished third in MVP voting.

5. Karl Malone: The 30-year-old Mailman scored 27 PPG on 55 percent shooting, ripped down 11 RPG, and even dished out 4 APG. The only thing that receded that season was his mighty hairline.

6. John Stockton: The little guy in the "Stockton to Malone!" combo racked up 15 points and 12 assists a game. Like Malone, he didn't miss a game...despite being a year older than the Mailman and wearing short-shorts that cut off all circulation both above and below the waist.

7. David Robinson: The Admiral was 28 years old. He didn't miss a single game, and he averaged 23/11/4, sinking many a battleship along the way. And the dude was ripped.

8. Clyde Drexler: Okay, maybe The Glide is a bad example. He played only 49 games. And while he scored 20 PPG and even managed 6 rebounds and 6 assists, his numbers all fell from the previous season. But this was probably due more to the fact that Jordan had destroyed him so badly in the 1992 NBA Finals, a beating from which Clyde never recovered.

9. Chris Mullin: This guy was 30 years old, slow, white, and on top of all that a recovering alcoholic. But he still threw in 26 a game on 51 percent shooting...all from the outside! He also grabbed 5 RPG and almost 4 APG.

10. Christian Laettner: The only rookie on the team, he was 23 years-old as a Dream Team member and turned 24 during the season. Despite playing for a crappy team, he scored 18 PPG and pulled down almost 9 RPG. These were his best numbers as a pro. And he only missed one game.

11: Larry Bird: Retired.

12: Magic Johnson: AIDS. Or alien abduction. Take your pick.

So there you have it. The original Dream Team spent their entire summer travelling all over the world and taking part in countless promotional ceremonies, and still managed to survive and thrive throughout the next season. And they weren't pampered nearly as much today's players. Hell, most teams didn't even have private planes back then, let alone personal chefs, massage therapists, etc. As always, I'm just sayin'.
Luol Deng finally got his British passport, which means he's eligible to play for -- and lose with -- Britain's national team at the 2012 London Olympics. Deng said:
"Although I've been playing in the U.S. for a number of years, London will always be my home. It's the city I grew up in and where my family lives today."
A truly heartwarming tribute. Isn't it funny how proud and excited some athletes get about playing for the honor of their home country, regardless of whether they'll win or (most likely) lose? Do you also notice how those players don't spend the next couple seasons complaining about how the international competition wore them out so much they can't play five minutes of a crummy exhibition game to bring a smile to the face of some small, unhappy child?

Anyway, here's a picture of Deng with his shiny new passport. Can't you tell how happy he is? Yeesh. I've seen happier mug shot photos...

Happy Deng
Did they give him a passport...or kill his puppy?

Star-tastic Extra: There are a handful of stories about Luol and his passport, and most of them refer to him as a "star player for the Chicago Bulls" or some variation thereof. Have you ever noticed stories about foreign players invariably refer to them as stars, even when they are (as in Deng's case) more of a role-player? Like a few months ago when that Chinese shoe company referred to Shane Battier as a "star" (of course) who "starred in the recent Basketball World Championships for the Dream Team Seven" (to the tune of 7 minutes per game) and is "regarded as the Rockets' most important sign-up for the new season." Man, these guys would sell shit and claim it smelled like mom's homemade cookies. And yes, I know Shane Battier is not a foreign player, and therefore my whole argument has been shattered. But seriously...he starred with Dream Team 7?!
The Cleveland Cavaliers allowed Lebron James to sit out of a game against the Toronto Raptors last night. In fact, Larry Hughes and Donyell Marshall sat out as well. The Cavs used a starting lineup of Damon Jones, Eric Snow, Sasha Pavlovic, Drew Gooden and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. And if that fivesome doesn't make your nipples hard, I don't know what will.

Now, this would have been bad enough if it had happened in an NBA city, where the fans have a chance to see NBA action 41 other times (excluding the playoffs). But it didn't. It happened in Rochester, New York. It was, in fact, the first game played in Rochester since 1981. And 25 years is a long time to wait for a screw job. It's the basketball equivalent of cancelling Christmas by brutally murdering Santa Claus in front of the kids, then letting them celebrate Arbor Day instead. Unless Rochester is filled with hoards of crazed Sasha Pavlovic fans. And I'm guessing it's not.

The game was heavily promoted, with Lebron being the promotiest promotion on the card. The Blue Cross Arena was packed. But it was announced prior to the game that, while Lebron was in attendence, he wouldn't be playing. Naturally, the reporters mobbed him for a reason why. To which King James responded thusly:
"I got to focus on my health right now and how I feel. I can't worry about if guys are looking forward to seeing me play or anything like that. I'm sorry for the fans here, but I've got to do what's best for my team and my teammates."
Jesus, Lebron. I'm a fan and all, but that's easily the pussiest statement you've ever made. In fact, you should probably check your jock strap to make sure your genitals are still attached. Do you really expect people to believe that you aren't healthy enough to play five to six half-hearted minutes of basketball? Because, seriously, that's all the fans expected. That's all it would have taken to avoid the 20,000 stories about what a dick you are for not playing. And, frankly, you -- and every other NBA player who isn't really injured -- do owe it to the fans. And the whole "I've got to do what's best for my team" excuse is the purest form of distilled bullshit.

But that's the NBA today. Back in the fall of 1983, a brawl erupted during a preseason game between the Boston Celtics and the Philidelphia 76ers. Things got so heated that Red Auerbach marched out of the stands and confronted Moses Malone. Sixers coach Billy Cunningham was so infuriated that he ripped his own sports coat in half. Oh, and all the starters actually, you know, started the game.

What really galls me about this isn't even that Lebron didn't play. It's the fact that he lied about being why he didn't play. He couldn't just be honest and say, "The preseason is meaningless. I don't feel like playing. I'm too important to risk my body on a contest that no one will remember five minutes from now. And I can pretty much do whatever I want, so bite it." Because that's the truth of it.
In case you haven't seen it, here's what will forever be remembered as "The Dennis Green Press Conference." It was his explosive reaction to his Arizona Cardinal's choke-a-thon against the Chicago Bears. And if you're looking for the basketball tie-in, Charles Barkley was the celebrity guest on Monday Night Football, and he predicted the Cardinals would choke.

Rant-tastic Extra: As awesome as Green's rant was, it's still a distant second to Jim Mora's "Playoffs? Playoffs?!" rant of a few years back. A rant I will now include for your viewing pleasure.

Charles Barkley made a surpise appearance as the celebrity guest on last night's edition of Monday Night Football. At this point, almost anything Charles says is an instant classic. For instance, host Tony Kornheiser asked if Barkley could play with someone like first-class douchebag Terrell Owens, to which Chuck responded "I don't think it'd work with me, cause I'd have hit him in the head a long time ago. Then, when Kornheiser asked if Charles ever had played with someone like Owens, Sir Charles said, "Yeah, and I hit 'em in the head."

But that wasn't the best part. Kornheiser, whose on-air ramblings are the broadcasting equivalent of swallowing a box of thumbtacks, was blasting the Chicago Bears, who at the time were down 20-0 to the Arizona Cardinals. Sir Charles, ever prescient, said "Twenty points isn't enough to beat this team." Kornheister disagreed, and said that if Charles was right he could "come back and sit in this booth forever."

Down 23-3 with less than a minute to go in the third quarter, the Bears scored a defensive touchdown. Then, with less than five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Bears scored a second defensive touchdown. A couple minutes later, they scored on a punt return, making it 24-23. The game essentially ended when the Cardinals missed a 40-yard field goal.

The point? Charles was right. Yet again. I'll enjoy seeing him in the MNF booth from now on. And to complete the Barkley love, here's a cool video of Sir Charles highlights.

Maybe this is old news, maybe not. But apparently North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is a big-time NBA fan. So big, in fact, that during a diplomatic summit in 2000, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright presented Jong-il with a basketball autographed by Michael Jordan.

This, in turn, eventually led to a mildly amusing spoof-ercial by David Zucker, the man who gave us Airplane!, the Naked Gun films, and (unfortunately) Scary Movie 4. The Republican Party hired Zucker to create the ad to show how Democrats are directly responsible for terrorists blowing up buildings and developing nuclear weaponry. The clip shows Jong-il getting the Jordan-signed ball, which leads directly to North Korea launching nukes and, of course, to Jong-il himself developing Jordan's own superhuman (and possibly Satanic) basketball prowess. Then Albright is shown painting Bin Laden's caves, changing the tires on terrorist cars, and so on. Ha, ha, ha...ha...h...

Apparently, the Republicans decided this was too Lex Luthor-ish even by their "We'd happily torture live kittens and then frame Bill Clinton for it" standards. Therefore, the clip got yanked...but ended up where every other never-before-seen video goes to come back to life: YouTube. Amazingly, YouTube also yanked the flick for as-yet unknown reasons. Well, unknown to anyone but the unconstitutional spy networks our president established to illegally strip us of our right to privacy. Zucker went on to say some totally lame things about how the Democrats have caused all the world's problems by being nice to our enemies, conveniently overlooking the fact that the terrorist attacks, wars, and nukes all happened during Bush's presidency. But why get bogged down on facts when you can create funny propaganda. Only it's kind of missing the "funny" part. Except seeing a little Korean dictator slam dunk. That's always funny. Like monkeys. And midgets. And men dressed up as women. And farts. Heh. I said farts.

Kim Jong-il Trivia: According to Wikipedia, Jong-il is "an avid fan of the Friday The 13th series and Rambo among others." This is astonishing to me. Not that Jong-il likes crappy movies; I'm a big F13 fan myself. What's amazing is that he loves the NBA, and bad cinema, but he doesn't list Kazaam, Steel, or Blue Chips among his favorite movies. This means that even Kim Jong-il won't touch Shaq's movies. That's pretty bad.

I'm also surprised that Jong-il likes Rambo. Didn't Rambo go in and kick North Korea's ass a couple times all by himself? I don't get it. Maybe Jong-il think Rambo is a comedy. Which, now that I think of it, is probably true of just about everybody except Sylvester Stallone.

Still, I think Albright had the right idea but the wrong gift. Instead of giving Jong-il a autographed basketball, we should give him Rambo and Jason Voorhees. I'm pretty sure those two guys (well, guy and zombie killer thingie) would take care of this nuke problem, and fast. And wouldn't that make a great movie?

Jason and Rambo vs. Kim: Coming soon to a World War III near you...
Just when you think the latest Stephen Jackson saga can't get any stranger...it does. Apparently, the guy Jax got into a fight with was a mutant:
"Prosecutors said Jackson kicked a man who police said has a deformed arm. Jackson told police that the man, Quentin Willford, started the brawl."
I only wish I could say I don't believe it. But seriously, how does a wealthy professional athlete end up picking a fight with a dude who has a deformed arm? Did Jax drown any kittens on his way to the strip club? Maybe bitch slap a homeless guy? Imagine if you had a deformed arm. Imagine if you couldn't even talk to a woman without having to give your credit card number. Imagine if you went out for a little topless, heaving, grinding entertainment. Then imagine you get picked on by a psychotic basketball player. Now I can sort of understand why the guy ran Jackson over with his car.

Jax attack
Now you know what Jackson does before he heads out to the strip club.
Now that the rest of the Pacers have spoken their peace, Stephen Jackson has finally issued an apology for his role in the Indianapolis Strip Club Drive-by Showdown:
"I want to apologize to my teammates, to the fans and to this organization. It was a very unfortunate incident. I definitely take responsibility for my actions and everything I've done. I'm definitely blessed to be here today. I didn't really think I'd be up the next day after I got hit by a car and be walking. But I'm definitely blessed. I'm glad to be on the court. I'm happy to be alive and be able to be with my teammates and my family."
An "unfortunate incident"? That's like calling the Holocaust "a minor ideological misunderstanding." But whatever. Despite the public support offered by his teammates, at least one person hasn't blithly accepted Jax's actions: the Marion Country prosecuter, who today charged Jackson with criminal recklessness, disorderly conduct, and battery.

This could be bad for Jackson, who recently had his probation extended after he did not complete the terms of the sentence he received for the 2004 brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Jackson had been sentenced to one year of probation, 60 hours of community service, fined $250 and ordered to undergo anger management counseling for his part in the brawl. No one has reported which part (or parts) of the sentence Jax didn't fulfill, but my money's on the anger management counseling. But that's just me.

While Jackson is leading the apology parade, Jermaine O'Neal is playing the fife and drums. O'Neal, who testified today regarding his involvement in the 2004 brawl at The Palace of Auburn Hills, said he's ashamed for punching a fan but feels he made the best decision he could at the time to protect himself and his teammates.
"I'm ashamed of that entire night. I'm ashamed that Jermaine O'Neal's name is going to be connected with this for the rest of my life."
I don't know about you, but I'm inclined to believe him, because talking in the third person is a universal sign of shame. But although he started out all humble and contrite, O'Neal quickly shifted the blame away from Jermaine O'Neal.
"It became an extremely scary and unbelievable situation. I am the leader of my team. I am responsible for my team at all times as long as I am with my team. In a situation where it's a melee and people are really trying to hurt you, you have no time (to think)."
Notice how O'Neal qualified his statement of responsibility to his team so that it only included those times he's actually with his team. So, you know, if there's a fight and a shooting outside of a strip club and he's not there, well, then he's not really responsible for punching anyone involved.

All five remaining Pacers fans will soon receive
this e-greeting from s_jax@pacers.com.
This entry is in no way basketball related, but I just had to post the trailer for "Grind House," the soon-to-be-released double horror movie by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. If you are a fan of melodramatic exposition, hellacious explosions, and totally gratuitous violence -- and how could you not be -- this is the movie for you. It is virtually guaranteed to recalibrate the Scale of Awesome Kickassity. Or, as my buddy Greg put it, "There is absolutely no possible way this movie can NOT be the new summit of Mt. Badass." 'Nuff said.

Reggie Miller, a Pacers legend and one of the greatest players in this universe (and any other), is really pissed about Stephen Jackson's recent douchebaggery. Said Miller:
"That's ridiculous. That is a black cloud. That is a punch in the gut for (team CEO) Donnie Walsh and (team president) Larry Bird. You shouldn't stand behind a player that's slapping you guys in the face during the middle of training camp, being out at a strip club at 3 o'clock in the morning shooting it up like it's the Wild, Wild West."
We have to agree with Reggie, because as anyone who's anyone knows, Reggie Miller is always right. In addition to being a true God among mere mortals. Shame on you, Stephen Jackson.

Miller, now a TNT basketball analyst, ended his career following the 2004-05 season. He was a five-time All-Star, led the NBA in free throw percentage five times and is No. 12 on the league's career scoring list. He also is a beacon of light during your darkest night, and has been known to transform the vilest of evils into delicious candies, while doves soar overhead singing a song of peace.

Clothes are very important, so sayeth Mr. T: I think I've discovered what caused this problem. Jackson was at a strip club, where, in most cases, there are naked people. Clothing is an important social tool, because it allows people to express themselves without the aid of a 20 foot chrome pole covered in baby oil. Just like the great and wise Mr. T once said, "Everybody's gotta wear clothes. If you don't, you'll get arrested." This, and other valuable nuggets of clothing wisdom, can be gleaned from the following T-Tastic video:

The Indiana Pacers spoke to the press regarding an incident involving Stephen Jackson's argument-turned-fistfight-turned-drive-by-turned-gunfight. Most of what was said are the typical "comments that don't really mean anything." Or...do they? We ran the comments through our trusty Basketbawful B.S. Translation Computer, and here are the results:

"You see, Sherman? The WABAC Machine
clearly indicates that the Pacers are full of it."

Donnie Walsh: "We know a lot of you have questions. We've issued a statement saying that we are not going to make any comments. The reason for that is we really don't know what happened. We're trying to find out. We're trying to piece it together. As soon as we get a clear idea of what happened, we'll communicate to you basically what the situation is. Until then, I just don't think it's productive for us to say anything because we really don't know what happened. As far as Stephen Jackson is concerned, he has come out of the hospital. He doesn't have any permanent injuries, or at least none that we are aware of right now. He is banged up, so there will be further word on him as well."

Translation: There's no possible way we can put a positive spin on this, so we're not saying anything until some of the heat blows over. Oh, by the way, Stephon's not dead. And I'm happy about that. I guess.

Darrell Armstrong: "We are just trying to stay focused and not live in the past. I haven't been here. This is my first year. Since I've been here, I know the guys have been doing the right things. (We have been) coming in here working hard, practice hard (and) playing hard. We've had three good practices. It is kind of a little draining, but everybody is thinking of Stephen Jackson, and we are just hoping he is just doing fine. I know all the guys will probably go over to his house and eat him out of house today and make sure he is alright."

Translation: We don't want to think or talk about it, so even though it just happened, we're going to act like it's ancient history we're already moving on from. And anyway, none of this falls on me, 'cause I just got here. Did I really say guys are going to "eat him out of house today"? What the hell am I talking about?

Armstron: (On whether Jackson, Marquis Daniels, Jimmie Hunter and Jamaal Tinsley are victims): "I don't know. I really don't care. I just want to make sure we get Stephen back on the floor. I felt like his energy and enthusiasm and everything he's been doing this year this year so far was great for our team. He was talking out there being a leader. As he say, he is blessed to be in the league. He was doing all the right things."

Translation: Of course they're not victims! Are you crazy? They went to a strip club and got into a fight that resulted in Jax getting hit by a car, after which he totally went off, guns blazing. But I can't say that, because my team'll get pissed at me. So here are some generic compliments about Stephen Jackson. Please leave me alone now.

Rick Carlisle: (On what he gathered from his meeting with Stephen Jackson) "Stephen is very lucky. It was a potentially life-threatening situation that was averted. Right now, the biggest emotion that I feel is relief that he is going to be OK. X-Rays were negative for any fractures in his entire body. MRIs were negative with respect to soft tissue or structural damage to his knees. He has some scrapes and bruises and so forth. He's a guy that's going to bounce back. We've seen it before. He took a hell of a fall against the Lakers last year and two days later he was playing against Detroit. I don't expect that he'll be out a real long time. We are just relieved."

Translation: Goddamn lunatic. I can't believe he got hit by a car and he's okay. Why does Larry keep sticking me with the crazy bastards? Is he still pissed off that I beat out David Thirdkill for the last roster spot on that '86 Celtics team? I mean, Sly Williams got cut before the regular season even started, so we managed to pick up Thirdkill anyway. Larry can't really be holding that against me. Can he?!

Carlisle: (On Stephen Jackson's emotional state) "He was touched this morning that so many people came. There were several players. Our whole coaching staff was there. His mom -- I spoke to her on the phone -- was very concerned obviously. The important thing was that he's OK. We were all in the room when they stitched up his lip. Our guys wanted to be there to try to help him through this. It's a tough deal."

Translation: He's still nucking futs. The car didn't hit him hard enough to make him normal, if that's even possible. But he's feeling pretty good about everybody pretending they care about him right now. That won't last. He'll still get booed at Conseco Fieldhouse this year, just like last year, and the year before that. Why didn't Larry or Donnie trade this guy?

Carlisle: (On what he has to say to the fans): "As a franchise, we have to take responsibility for what goes on. Our players realize that being out there that late during training camp is not the right thing. We know it. It was an error in judgment and it is going to have to change. The good news is that a potentially ominous situation was averted. A guy who is not only am important player but an important person to me and a lot of our guys is going to be OK physically. That's good news."

Translation: It's not our fault he's crazy. Please, fans, you have to believe us. He told us a few weeks ago he'd changed. We're pretty much stuck with him, too, because nobody wants to trade for a volatile 2-guard with a history of sowing discontent, participating in rioutous brawls, pouting over his number of shot attempts, and, of course, firing his gun into the air after a strip club showdown. Fuck.

Carlisle: (On if the team will have a curfew): "We talk to our players a lot about being responsible. They know they are very visible. They are going to be targets in many instances. We are going to keep talking to them about the hours they keep and the places they go. There are always going to be a lot of attention. There are always going to be people looking to stir things up with them. This should go as a lesson learned. Obviously, we are very fortunate that there is no really serious physical injury going on here, and we have to move to get better."

Translation: Pffft!! Are you kidding me? These guys don't listen to me as it is. Like when I'm calling for a double pick, with an option to maybe turn it into a flex play, and they just ignore me and run another goddamn isolation. And who gets blamed for those crappy 85-82 games we always get into? Me, that's who.

Carlisle: (On if the team will place penalties on the players) "That is something that will have to be determined as we size up the situation from a front office-standpoint. In many ways, our guys were trying to do the right thing and get out of this place. Fortunately, again, in terms of physical harm Stephen is banged up but he will be OK."

Translation: We're waiting to see what the fan reaction is. If people are really pissed about it, we'll fine him, and maybe suspend him for a couple meaningless regular season games. By the way, did we mention we love him and he's not seriously hurt? Because that's what's really important.

Carlisle: (On how long Jackson will be out) "I don't (know). I do know the diagnostic tests for the most part were completely negative in terms of any serious structural injuries or fractures. He is very sore because he got hit by a car. You would be sore if you got hit by a car. He's a tough guy and he’s going to bounce back."

Translation: Aw, jeez, I don't know. He got hit by a freaking car. We've got another guy -- who was with Jackson at the strip club, by the way -- who's out with a sore toenail. Today's basketball players are pussies. One time when I was with the Celtics, Robert Parish's arm fell off during a game! And he didn't even ask to be taken out. He still shot 5-for-6 and grabbed 10 or 11 rebounds I think. We just stuffed the arm into a Gatorade cooler, which had some ice in it. They re-attached it after the game. I think Chief had some tendonitis for a few weeks, but he didn't miss any time. Damn, we were tough back then.

Carlisle: (On his disappointment with his players) "We've had three very productive days leading up to today. Today was another productive day, especially considering the circumstance. The work that you have to do in terms of doing the right thing on a day-to-day basis could not be clearer than it is on a day like today, and we know that. The facts are going to come forward as we move forward. I think we'll be OK. I really do."

Translation: Of course I'm disappointed in these idiots. But again, I can't say that. So I'm just going to "move on," which means I expect to get hammered tonight, and then fall asleep with by head in my wife's lap, sobbing like a baby.

Al Harrington: "It's not a setback. It's an unfortunate situation. I think Jack (Stephen Jackson) was put in a situation where I guess he just had to react. We're happy that he is OK, and we're looking forward to getting him back on the court."

Translation: Of course it's a setback, but this team has gotten pretty good at acting like everything's normal over the last couple years. We have Ron Artest to thank for that, you know? Because if this had happened back during the mid-90s, the fans would be lynching this guy. Seriously. We just want this shit to be over, you feel me?

Harrington: (On if players run into people in the public who have bad intentions) "Definitely. That could have happened at a restaurant. It was unfortunate that it was a strip club, but like I said we are going to stick behind him 100% and get him back on the court as soon as possible to help get to the ultimate goal and have a successful season."

Translation: That could have happened in a restaurant, if the restaurant was maybe owned by the mob, and Jax owed the mob boss some money. Sure. But it happened at a strip club because people aren't thinking straight when it's 3 a.m., and they're drunk, and they've got to go home and explain to their wife why they spent all of little Suzy's college fund on five lap dances from a cheap whore who probably transmitted some weird disease right through their pants. It's a high stress situation. But you do it for the ass and titties...ass and titties...

Harrington: (On what he would say to fans) "I would tell them to let this one go. Like I said, it was an unfortunate situation. This is a new team and a new attitude. We are going to bring the excitement on the basketball court and win. Stick with us. It's early. The season hasn't even started yet. It is something that was unfortunate."

Translation: You might as well stop complaining. It's going to be the same old stuff as last year. Expect a solid start to be stopped short due to injury, followed by a brief period of over achievement, followed by a longer period of underachievement, followed by internal discord and discontent, followed by an improbable playoff run (thanks to a weak as hell Eastern Conference), followed by another disappointing first round exit. Just let it go already. So, you know...go Colts!!

Harrington: (On if he's concerned about the image) "Obviously, we have a lot of work to do in the community anyway if you look at things that have happened in the last two years, so this is something that we are going to handle."

Translation: Now we're going to have to do twice as many of those stupid "NBA Cares" programs. That's like community service for professional athletes, by the way. You don't really think we care, do you? We don't. But we'll keep pretending to.

Jermaine O'Neal: "I don't really know the entire situation of what was going on. As far as the basketball, I think everyone is coming in working extremely, extremely hard. I'll let people make their own decisions. Everyone is grown. All in All, I think the guy (Stephen Jackson) has been giving a total effort. He has really been preparing himself basketball-wise. Once I find out more information of what happened last night, I'll be able to comment a little bit more."

Translation: Man, now I'm starting to understand how Kevin Garnett feels. I've been giving this team 20-10 every game for the 50 or so games I play each season, and they keep surrounding me with a bunch of angry, maladjusted misfits. I'm never going to win an MVP if this keeps up. Can we trade for Sam Cassell?

O'Neal: (On the status of Stephen Jackson) "The fact of the matter is that Jack is hurt. That is the most important thing. Beyond basketball, it's just like your job. You have to be concerned about somebody's well-being. None of us know what happened last night, we just know that he was hurt. That's the most important for us, and everything else is going to fall into place in trying to figure out what happened."

Translation: He got hit by a car, people. What do you expect me to say? He feels great and expects to return to the strip club as soon as possible? Nah, man, he's going to lay low for a few days, and then he's going to come back and act like he has a "renewed sense of responsibility" and whatever else Donnie and Larry tell him to say. But seriously, he got hit by a car. Damn.

O'Neal: (On Jackson's health) "That's not really my story to tell. I don't know enough of the story. I can't tell you how he looks or how he's doing, because that's up for him to tell. We support him 100%. We hope that he gets back to the court as soon as possible."

Translation: Do I look like Stephen Jackson to you? Am I wearing a pair or scrubs or a lab coat? Then how the hell am I supposed to know? I just want him to hurry up and get back to practice, because he owes me about a hundred dollars in ones.

O'Neal: (On whether the event 'takes the wind out' of the team): "We've been through a lot of stuff. Now we are prepared to deal with (situations). My job is to make sure that everybody is prepared and focused. We had a heck of a practice today, especially considering the situation that happened last night. We don't have time anymore to let the train slow down. We have to continue to prepare. We have to continue to improve and create a product that this city is going to be proud of. If one guy goes down, then you have to depend on the rest of the guys."

Translation: After all this crap that's gone down these last two or three years, man, we can deal with anything. If somebody told me Jax got his head ripped off by the Incredible Hulk, I'd expect that dude to be back at practice in three, four days. Tops. We've all got to band together and work hard if I'm going to win MVP. Are you guys with me, or what?

O'Neal: (On his message to the fans) "Our preparation and our dedication has to be the same. We can't get sidetracked. We can't let things bother us. We are going to deal with them the way we have to deal with them, and we are going to keep moving. That's just how it is. We're at a mind frame right now that we have to come out and we have to show this city our dedication and our preparation. Anything outside of that is going to be something on the side. The main goal is get together our product that is presentable to the city and presentable to the NBA, and we have to focus on that."

Translation: Stephen Jackson got into a fight at a strip club. He got ran over by a car. He shot his gun in the air. There was pot in Jamaal Tinsley's car. We're going to just pretend none of that ever happened. It's all about the denial. Every time anybody asks us a question about this situation, we're going to blow some smoke up thier ass about how the important thing is Jax isn't dead, and how we support him, and how we're dedicated to the fans, and how we're focused on winning. Because we know, man, we know that as long as we win, and maybe I get the MVP, that everybody's going to just forget about the crazy shit we do off the court. Just go back in time and ask the 1996-1998 version of Dennis Rodman. So just leave us alone, okay. We promise you: nothing like this will ever happen again. Until next time.
In an effort to clear up any confusion regarding the Stephen Jackson "hit and run over shooting" incident, the Pacers organization has released the following statement:
"The incident Friday morning involving some of our players is currently being reviewed by the proper authorities. All parties involved are cooperating with the authorities. Since this is an ongoing review of the matters that took place Friday morning, the Pacers will have no further comment at this time."
That was pretty informative. Thanks, guys.

Fun-tastic Extra: The intro to the statement lists Jimmie Hunter's (the relatively unknown fourth Pacer on the scene) nickname as "Snap." Wouldn't that make a better nickname for SJ? Or maybe "Snapped" would be more like it.

Self-defense, Fonzie Style: In case you're ever involved in an altercation outside a strip club, I advise you not to throw your body into your opponent's car. I also advise you against discharging your firearm indiscriminately into the air. Instead, do what The Fonz would do: use THE HONK. (It isn't what you think, trust me.)

In light of last night's ridiculous Pacers disaster, my day has sucked. Freaking Stephen Jackson! He spent the summer "soul searching" and found it in a strip club. Meh!

Anyway, my buddy Dave managed to cheer me up by sending me the following picture, which depicts Michael Jordan taking part in one of the most horrific threeways of all time.

jordan 3way
This picture simply baffles me. It defies description. But the
collective looks on all their faces pretty much says it all.

Random Jordan Trivia: By all objective accounts, Michael Jordan was a horrific teammate. He punched out Will Perdue and Stever Kerr. He used to completely ignore people in the locker room (thanks to his omnipresent sunglasses and headphones), unless of course he wanted to bust someone's chops. He once commented that he hated Scott Burrell because he was always smiling, and since Burrell had never "proved anything" (and therefore didn't deserve to be happy), Jordan took it upon himself to wipe the smile of Scott's face during practice via some well-placed elbows or verbal barbs. In Washington, he wrecked Kwame Brown's confidence for all time, and alienated just about everybody else. He was a winner, and one of the greatest of all time, but he was also an asshole.

That said, he was capable of some pretty hilarious banter. My favorite being how he teased Will Perdue, telling the big fella he didn't deserve to be named after a Big Ten school. He then started calling the goofy center "Will Vanderbilt." Admittedly, I like this one because it gives a slight tip of the hat to my alma mater, Purdue University, but still.
I was in such a good mood when I strolled into work today. It's Friday, it's sunny, it's supposed to be in the mid-60s (which isn't bad for Chicago in October). Plus, I always goof off a little bit on Fridays, so I was looking forward to catching up on my blog reading. Then I check my e-mail, and I've got a message from my buddy Dave. The subject line reads:

"I'm just about done with the Pacers"

Earlier this week, on this very blog, I described how terrified I am to read any news articles involving the Pacers. They've done studies, you know. Sixty percent of the time, the news is bad every time. And I know that doesn't make sense, but it still fills me with dread, because I'm just waiting for something to go wrong. Being a Pacers fan is like having unprotected sex and not using any method of birth control: you end up spending all your time sitting around, twitching nervously, afraid to answer your phone or check your e-mail, living in mortal fear of the words "My period is late."

So I didn't even read the e-mail at first. I follow my daily routine. Go into the lunchroom, get my big glass o' water, chat with a few co-workers. By the time I get back to my desk, I've got an e-mail from another buddy (and Indiana resident) Greg. The subject line is just "Basketbawful," but I know it's about the Pacers. Shit.

Suddenly, the Pacers upcoming season flashes before my eyes, and I figure there are three distinct possibilities:

1. Jermain O'Neal is injured and will miss some or all of the season.

2. The Pacers fired Rick Carlisle and hired Larry Brown (not unprecedented).

3. Stephen Jackson did something stupidly, stupidly illegal.

Turns out
it was number three. But it was worse than I could have imagined. I'm not even going to paraphrase; here's most of the Yahoo article:
"Indiana Pacers player Stephen Jackson was hit in the mouth, struck by a car and fired a gun outside a strip club early Friday, police said."
Jackson, 28, told officers he fired his 9 mm pistol four or five times in the air in self-defense after he was punched and hit by a car outside the club, said Sgt. Matthew Mount, spokesman for the Indianapolis Police Department.

Jackson went up onto the hood of the car, Mount said.

There were no reports of anyone being struck by the gunfire, and police did not make any immediate arrests. Police are looking for the car that hit Jackson and others involved.

An argument involving patrons, Jackson and other members of the Pacers began inside the club, Mount said. The players said they left the club, but patrons followed them outside.

"At some point when leaving the club, a verbal altercation ensued that turned into a physical altercation," Mount said.
Holy back-flipping break-dancing Christ!! This is particularly amusing (in the sad and completely frustrating way) in light of the fact that NBA.com recently ran an article about Jackson's new "positive attitude." Said Jackson:
"I had a lot of soul-searching to do this summer. The last two years was probably not the best years but the biggest learning years of my career. Everything we've been through as far as me stepping up and being a leader on a team, me basically taking a lot of heat from the team and me having the most ups and downs I've ever had, I think this year I'm approaching it trying to be more positive in my game, getting back to the San Antonio Steve Jackson. A lot of the stuff the last two years, it was hard for everybody to deal with. All the negative stuff that was going on took a toll on everybody in the organization and it showed in our play – a lot. My biggest thing this summer was being more focused on the positive things, helping other people and helping my game and staying on the court."
Less than a month after saying these words into some PR guy's tape recorder, Jackson goes to a strip club, gets in a fight, gets run over by a goddamn car, then goes all trigger happy. Yeah, that's a real focused, positive attitude, Steve. Fuck. More on this later, if I can find the will to go on.

Editor's Note: Jackson wasn't even alone and unsupervised. He had other Pacers with him: Jamaal "Injury Waiting To Happen" Tinsley, Marquis "I Am A Huge Pussy" Daniels, and Jimmie "Who The Hell Is This Guy" Hunter. Tinsley and Daniels, by the way, also had guns. Daniels' had a permit issued in freaking Florida. Oh, and lest I forget, there was some wacky weed in Tinsley's car. Nice.

Another Editor's Note: Earlier this week, the Indianapolis Star ran an article about how the Pacers were working to win back their fans. CEO Donnie Walsh said:
"We're trying to acknowledge things are going to change and go back to the value system that we've had for most of the time in the last 15-20 years."
Then the article noted how Stephen Jackson had "promised the Pacers he's not the same moody malcontent who questioned everyone from game officials to [coach Rick] Carlisle last season." Then Walsh said:

"The reason I believe he'll be different is because he approached me and said he spent the ummer evaluating himself. He said he knew he had to change some of the things he's done in the past and he's determined to do that."
Pfft!! Good call Donnie!!
I was listening to ESPN 1000 (in Chicago) this morning, and I overheard the following quote from Bulls GM John Paxson:
"Ben Wallace is a man. It's good to have some men on the team."
New flash, everybody: Ben Wallace has a penis. I never realized that before today. As for the rest of the team, well, I didn't get a chance to do any chromosome testing last year, but I'm pretty sure nobody would have come up double Xs. I guess this year's team slogan should be something like, "Your Chicago Bulls -- now with 30 percent less vagina!"

Anyway, Paxson isn't the only member of the Bulls organization who's fascinated by Wallace's manly machismo-ness. Kirk Hinrich likewise
is impressed by Big Ben's musky male-ocity:
"He's a warrior. He's a man. I'm just excited to be on his team. He's the type of big guy you love to have on your team. He gets down and dirty."
We are still talking about basketball here, right guys? Because all this excitment about getting down and dirty with Wallace's manhood is starting to sound a little too homoerotic for my tastes. I get it already: he's a dude, a guy, a man, a Hercules, a titan, a brute, a monster, the heaving, sweating, throbbing embodiment of virility. That's great. But has he learned how to hit a freethrow yet? I'm just saying.

Ben is a man
Wallace: "I'm a man. Wanna see the proof?"
Hinrich: "Absolutely! I mean, uh, no. Gross."

Chicago isn't the only place where men are important components of a basketball team. Out on the West coast, Phil Jackson has been admiring Andrew Bynum's newfound, ahem, maturity.
"He's not a boy anymore. He's got that man-type body."
Huhn. Phil must be a Republican.
We had an "all-company meeting" at work today. At my company, these meetings are comprised of the following elements:

1. A boring speech by the CEO

2. A financial review by the CFO

3. Pizza

4. Beer
Since points 1 and 2 are boring and therefore suck, we the employees sustain ourselves on points 3 and 4. Especially point 4. And since I'm an emotional drunk, a post-meeting malaise often sets in, during which I can be found sitting disconsolately in a cubicle Googling my college girlfriend because maybe, just maybe, after all these years we can actually make it work.

Yeah, I get nostalgic. And you know what I miss the most at this particular moment? The NBA on NBC. I miss it a lot. The music (a magical ditty by John Tesh called "
Roundball Rock"). Those incredibly dramatic (but never too cheesy) introductions by Bob Costas that made whatever game it was seem like the most important thing going on in the world at that moment. The play-by-play of Marv Albert and "Czar" Mike Fratello. The bumbling sideline reporting of Ahmad Rashad. The occassional commentary from Magic Johnson, always good for a few crazy statements and invented words (think fundamativity or harmonism). Even the logo. Man...those were good times.

Marv and Mike
Can you remember a world where Mike Fratello had a perm and
Marv hadn't bitten some poor woman's back to shreds? Good times.

I know I'm not the only one who enjoyed the NBA on NBC. There's an entire Wikipedia page devoted to it, as well as a list of list of notable games telecast on NBC. Watching the NBA on ABC or ESPN just isn't the same. TNT has it's own special charm, especially with Ernie, Kenny, and Charles (with an occassional appearance by Magic, who, unfortunately, doesn't say as many wacky things). But nothing matches the old NBA on NBC days.

Oh well. I've got to go stalk my ex-girlfriend now...

I miss you, NBA on NBC.
If you've ever taken a "guy trip" to Vegas, or Mardi Gras, or wherever, you probably know about that nervous feeling you get at the end of the month when you're waiting for your credit card statement to arrive. Sure, you could check your balance online or over the phone, but you don't. You wait for the paper copy instead. And when it arrives, you just sort of leave it sitting on the counter for a few days. You don't want to open it, but you know you'll eventually have to. Thinking back, you realize you don't remember anything after the first hour at that strip club, and even though you don't believe in a higher power you start praying you didn't overspend on lap dances with the girl who looked like Gwen Stefani on a cocaine bender. Finally, you open it, and the paradoxically amazing happens: your blood goes cold and you start sweating profusely at the same time. What can't be...is. You're going to be paying for that trip for a long, long time.

Well, that's exactly how I feel about checking up on the Pacers. It just always seems to be bad news, especially now, in the waning shadow of the Ron Artest Era and its messy aftermath. Brawls, suspensions, injuries, trade demands, more injuries, so on and so forth. It's like the Pacers have become a living, breathing cautionary tale (as the Maloof brothers are probably going to find out some day).

Anway, today I broke my self-imposed Pacers media blackout only to see a headline stating
Daniels' status uncertain. It figures. I was actually really excited about the youth and potential Daniels was supposed to bring to the Pacers. And now his status is uncertain?! Damn. Then I actually read the article. You know what the problem is? An ingrown toenail.

Daniels is dealing with occasional problems following a procedure to remove a toenail on his left big toe. "Doctors decided to remove the toenail permanently," [Pacers coach Rick] Carlisle said. "It's a healing process that's taken time." Daniels, acquired for Austin Croshere from Dallas in July, has participated in offseason workouts but has been limited.
How do you suppose Pacers GM Larry Bird feels about this? Bird had a history of (stupidly) playing with injuries that were so physically debilitating that he actually had to spend time in traction between playoff games in 1991. And let's not forget Bird played alongside Kevin McHale when McHale limped through the 1987 Playoffs with a broken foot. (According to Peter May's book The Big Three, McHale's navicular bone "split like a piece of firewood" during that classic Celtics/Pistons series. And yet McHale somehow managed to average 21.1 points -- on 58 percent shooting -- and 9.2 rebounds during the playoffs. That, my friends, is tough.)

What's going on with players today? Guys are "exhausted" after a season of hoops and need to take the whole summer off (to get fat). An arthritic toe will keep someone out for six weeks. Hell,
they can't even handle their own balls. I don't get it. Not to keep bringing up Larry Bird, but according to The Big Three (again), Bird had his zygomatic arch (the cheekbone) broken in a game during the 1987-88 season. Amazingly, he finished the game, but when he blew his nose in the shower his eye popped right out of the goddamn socket. I know you'll join me in saying "Holy Jesus knife-throwing ninja Christ!!" He didn't miss a single game, either; he just wore a pair of goggles for five games before discarding them because he didn't want to "baby" himself.

And now a bum toenail is sidelining a player he traded for over the summer. This coming in the wake of a one-round playoff run in which another player he traded for (Peja Stojakovic) wimped out of playing because he had a mild ankle sprain. I bet Bird felt like bitch-slapping him.

Voyeuristic Extra: For your viewing displeasure, here's a picture of Marquis Daniels' tattoos. Based on everything I've heard, getting a tattoo is a painful process. Getting multiple tattoos therefore would be more painfuler, and getting lots of big tattoos all over your body would be the most painfulest. That said, why the hell is a bad toenail (that's been removed, mind you) keeping this guy out of action??!

Marquis Daniels
Nice tattoos. Pussy.

Editor's Note: Look, I'm not trying to be insensitive here. I actually have some experience with toenail problems. I run half marathons, and I play pickup basketball, and tackle football in the fall. My feet take some punishment. In point of fact, I've lost the nails on my big toes a combined seven times. It hurts like hell, and you have to keep them wrapped for a while, but I've survived. And you know what? I kept running, playing basketball, and playing football. A few years ago, while playing football, I got my ring finger caught in somebody's waistband and it broke in three places and tore a ligament. I put a splint on the finger, kept playing until December, and then had some occupational therapy done. And while I don't consider myself a badass in any way, I can say with some confidence that I'm apparently tougher than many professional basketball players. I don't know how that's even possible.
The longest running San Antionio Spurs subplot has been resolved: Tony Parker and Eva Longoria have broken up. According to People Magazine, the split "was amicable and a result of their conflicting work schedules," which I'm guessing means "She finally realized he's douchey French dude."

Now we can strike "Has disproportionately hot girlfriend" off the list of the Top Ten Reasons We Hate Tony Parker. The remaining list reads as follows:

10. Betrayed America by playing for the French National Team.

9. Turns out is actually French.

8. Disguises French heritage with apparently American name.

7. Reminds us of hated elementary school rival, Ernie Parkin, who also was French.

6. Fuck you, Ernie!

5. Achieved high shooting percentage despite lack of jump shot; deal with Satan suspected.

4. Piggybacked on Tim Duncan for a pair of NBA championships; deal with Satan suspected.

3. His mother, Pamela Firestone is a Dutch model. For some reason this annoys us.

2. Has disproportionately hot girlfriend; deal with Satan suspected.

1. He's still French.
Another plus: we can resume admitting the fact that Eva is totally hawt. I mean, seriously, she is.

She's a free girl now, boys. I call next.