"Inflatable Ben can stop my driving to the hoop, but he can't stop my driving while intoxicated!"
And the rough lockout offseason continues.
Ben Wallace has been arrested and faces felony charges. He was pulled over at 3am (because, like momma always said, nothing good ever happens after midnight) for erratic driving. He failed a field sobriety test and later a breathalyzer test... and police also discovered an unloaded pistol in his Escalade. Oops! For those scoring at home, that's a misdemeanor drunken driving charge, and a five year felony charge for carrying a concealed weapon.
This is terrible news, but I'm left with just one thought: Will he be using Inflatable Defender Ben Wallace as his representation in court? I can't wait for him to pop open the valve to deflate it, then say "the defense rests, Your Honor."
Looks like Blake Griffin has done a whole slew of short films for funnyordie.com. So, at some point in the future, are we going to be like, "Hey I just saw Blake Griffin on TV. You know, that comedian who used to play basketball?" Enjoy this take off of the Lil Penny Hardaway commercials. It appears to be the best of the bunch.
Ok, this next one is the one that gets me concerned. This is just a man with nothing better to do. I mean, I know they have camera tricks to make this not really take take up 45 minutes of real time, but honestly, at what point does Blake say "Uhm, yeah, I think we might be saturating the public with my face. Let's give it a rest. People are going to realize I really don't have one single thing to do with my time, and they're going to think I'm a little sad."
If there is a compelling argument to the NBA owners / management why the lockout needs to end at all costs, I present Exhibit C. Blake Griffin needs an outlet, David Stern! And saturation-bombing comedy bits ain't it! End this madness!!! If you manage to make the very-likable Blake Griffin not funny, I will never forgive you for it.
As much as I would love to have Blake Griffin at my disposal to work on comedy bits - because he clearly has a sense of humor - only the folks at funnyordie.com actually have the power to get him to do stuff, like his current, and apparently crappy, internship at their offices:
His post-three-pointer arm thing was just one reason I hated LJ.
I didn't always hate Larry Johnson. I started out as a huge fan.
LJ had an amazing college career, leading UNLV to the 1990 NCAA title by downing Christian Laettner's Duke Dookie squad in the championship game. The next year, UNLV finished the regular season with a perfect record (27-0) and looked like a mortal lock to repeat as NCAA champs...until the Dookies knocked them off in the Final Four.
Still, Johnson earned all sorts of awards and honors -- First Team All-American, Big West Conference Player of the Year, the John R. Wooden Award, and the Naismith College Player of the Year award to name a few -- and ended up being selected first overall in the 1991 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets.
LJ was an instant success, averaging 19.2 PPG and 11.0 RPG, finishing with three Rookie of the Month awards (December, February, and March), and being named NBA Rookie of the Year. He also took second place (to Cedric Ceballos) in the 1992 Slam Dunk Contest.
Johnson was a laughing, likeable, larger than life personality. Sort of like a more easy-going Charles Barkley. He seemed to genuinely love the game and played with serious intensity without taking himself too seriously, as evidenced by his classic "Grandmama" commercials:
Still, LJ's talent wasn't enough to turn the expansion Hornets around, and Charlotte finished the 1991-92 season with a record of 31-51 (meaning Johnson was only 0.8 PPG away from joining the 20-10-50 club). Mind you, when that season opened, Larry's fellow starters included Johnny Newman, J.R. Reid, Kendall Gill and Rex Chapman. And, by season's end, the starting five was LJ, Gill, Newman, Kenny Gattison and Muggsy Bogues.
Not exactly an All-Star team. It was barely an All-Mediocre team.
However, losing has its benefits, and the Hornets ended up with the second pick in the 1992 NBA draft. They used it to select Alonzo Mourning.
After adding 'Zo, Charlotte jumped to 44 wins and a first round "upset" of the Boston Celtics. I put the quotes there because Larry Bird had retired, Kevin McHale was playing on half a leg (although he almost won Game 2 single-handedly with a turn-back-the-clock 30-point, 10-rebound, 0-assist performance), Robert Parish was well over 100 years old, and Reggie Lewis collapsed during Game 1 (the only game Boston won) and never played in another professional basketball game. (Sadly, Reggie had a heart condition and died a few months later.)
That series was immortalized by this shot:
High drama! And, sure, the Hornets were rather easily dispatched by the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Semis, but many people still had them pegged as The Team of the Future. Unfortunately, although nobody could have possibly known it at the time, Zo's game-winner was the apex of the Johnson-Mourning era in Charlotte.
Things started to take a turn for the worse as early as the next October when LJ signed a 12-year contract worth $84 million. At the time, it was the most lucrative contract in NBA history. Said Hornets owner George Shinn: "He's the leader of this team, and he will always be the leader of this team."
Unfortunately for Shinn and the Hornets, their leader injured his back two months later and went on to miss 31 games. Meanwhile, Mourning missed 22 games himself, and Charlotte's final win total of 41 wasn't enough to make the playoffs.
Trouble was brewing, folks. Mourning was jealous of Johnson's role as "team leader," and he was even more jealous of LJ's big-money contract. Mind you, there relationship had gotten off to a rocky start from the beginning. According to ESPN's Jeff Merron: "Johnson and Mourning, Charlotte Hornets teammates from 1992 to 1995, never got along. Johnson taunted Mourning in 1992, showing him his NBA Rookie of the Year leather coat, and saying, 'Hey, young fellow, if you play real hard you might get one of these jackets.' All the Hornets who heard the quip laughed -- except Mourning."
Their relationship apparently never recovered from that incident (among others). To make matters worse, Larry never really regained his hyper-athletic form after his back injury and started to transform from "dominant inside player" to "long-distance jump shooter." The season after his back injury, he went from 21 three-point attempts to 210.
Meanwhile, it was clear that Mourning had displaced Johnson as the team's best player. Not surprisingly, he wanted to be treated and, more importantly, paid like it. According to some sources, Mourning -- who was due to become a free agent after the 1994-95 season -- rejected a contract offer worth $100 million over 11 years.
Team president Spencer Stolpen told the Charlotte Observer: "I think people understand we have to do everything within reason to re-sign Alonzo Mourning. Would those season ticketholders accept a 50 percent increase? I don't know. Would those fans clamor for us to re-sign a player if that meant the team couldn't make a profit, it meant we'd eventually go out of business? Would fans clamor for us to sign a player if, in light of that player's contract, we couldn't sign anyone else for more than the minimum? Those are distinct possibilities."
Of course, such considerations hadn't been made when Johnson was re-upping for insane amounts of cash. But that was then. And this was now.
It's worth noting at this point that Mourning's agent was David Falk, so it should be no surprise that the Hornets weren't able to re-sign Alonzo, who was ultimately traded to the Miami Heat for Glen Rice, Matt Geiger, Khalid Reeves and a draft pick.
Just like that, the Johnson and Mourning era ended. LJ lasted only one more season with the Hornets before getting shipped to New York for Anthony Mason and (ha!) Brad Lohaus. Johnson's trade was the culmination of a brutal nine-month period in which Charlotte traded away 'Zo, Kobe Bryant (who had been selected in the 1996 draft, claimed he would never play in Charlotte, and was thus sent to L.A. for Vlade Divac) and LJ. Those moves -- combined with Johnson's original killer contract and back injury -- essentially destroyed the franchise. (Although, in all fairness, they did manage back-to-back 50-win seasons after the Johnson trade.)
Even worse, all the feuding, greed, and mismanagement -- in addition to rape allegations against Shinn and Shinn's insistence that the city fund an expensive new arena -- torpedoed the team's popularity. With the city's bubbling love turned into bitter hate, the Hornets relocated to New Orleans after the 2001-02 season.
Anyway, Johnson went on to become a very highly paid role player for the Knicks, and his tenure in New York is best known for his fight with Mourning (during which Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy was rather infamously dragged around on 'Zo's leg)...
...and his freaking four-point bullshit play against the Pacers:
What has gotten somewhat lost to history was the incident during the 1999 NBA Finals when Johnson called the Knicks a bunch of "rebellious slaves." This drew the ire of Bill Walton, who called Johnson's comments "a disgrace." Actually, here's the full transcript of Walton's outrage (following LJ's 2-for-8 performance in a Game 4 loss):
"Larry Johnson, who spent the last 48 hours railing against the world, what a pathetic performance by this sad human being. This is a disgrace to the game of basketball and to the NBA. He played like a disgrace tonight, he deserved it."
You just knew LJ wasn't going to let that go. And he didn't. Despite the best efforts of the Knicks' PR staff, Johnson proceeded to go on a verbal rampage:
"You know what, I respect Bill. For the longest, Bill has been killing me on TV and my family, but when he sees me, you know, he's shuckin' and fussin' and going on. Don't come at me like that. If I'm on fire, don't spit on me. If you're on fire, I don't spit on you. That's respect.
"If [the Spurs] beat us, I know y'all are going to make it the last run. I'm going to be cute with my slaves quotes, which is 100 percent true, a 100 percent true.
"Y'all know it. Damn Bill Walton. Tell him to trace his history and see how many slaves his ancestors had. Y'all trace y'all history and see how many slaves y'all ancestors had. Come on, now. That's a touchy subject. But why does the truth always hurt?"
It didn't stop there.
Referring to Spurs point guard Avery Johnson: "Ave, man, we're from the same plantation. You tell Bill Walton that. We from Massa Johnson's plantation. I love Ave, all the negativity he's been through. Good brother, hell of a dude on an off the court."
It still didn't stop.
"No one man can rise above the masses of the condition of his people. Understand that. So I am privileged and honored by the situation that I'm in, no question.
"Here's the NBA, full of blacks, great opportunities, they made beautiful strides. But what's the sense of that ... when I go back to my neighborhood and see the same thing? I'm the only one who came out of my neighborhood. Everybody ended up dead, in jail, on drugs, selling drugs. So I'm supposed to be honored and happy or whatever by my success. Yes, I am. But I can't deny the fact of what has happened to us over years and years and years and we're still at the bottom of the totem pole."
And that was it. That was the point at which I could no longer take Larry Johnson. He had fallen from NCAA golden boy and potential NBA superstar/co-savior to the guy whose greed (in part) helped blow up the league's salary scale and derailed (along with an equally culpable Mourning) a potentially all-time forward/center due. Worse yet, he ended up in one of the most reviled fights in Association history and followed that up with one of the most ridiculous race-inspired rants ever spouted by a pro baller.
By the time he finally faded away -- back problems and his declining skills forced an early retirement -- there was virtually nothing left of of the smiling, happy man child who was going to change the NBA. He didn't even want a fond farewell from the Knicks.
Johnson's agent, George Bass, said: "The Knicks offered all of that -- a halftime ceremony and everything else -- but Larry said, 'I appreciate that, but I'm going to pass. Ihope he'll change and we can do that some time, but as it stands now, he'd just rather move on."
Of course, despite retiring, Johnson wanted a buyout and ended up receiving the entire $25.85 million that remained on his contract.
Looks like Nolan has made a significant thematic change from the original Inception movie that appeared in theaters. Instead of manipulating a businessman's subconscious to make him want to break up his soon-to-be-inherited energy conglomerate (BOOOOOOOO-RIIING!), Nolan has selected a far more earth-changing "decision" for Leonardo Decaprio and his dream team to alter.
The first teaser trailer had been released, and I for one am pretty damned excited.
always dude your best! said: the other day my friend slipped up and said "amar'e stoudemizer." i think this is the best place to start appreciating that nickname.
Your wish is granted. Here’s a possible example: Amar''''''s' defense will Stoudemize the Knicks' playoff hopes this season. And next season. And the season after that…
Kody said: Does the Javaris Crittenton murder situation change your opinion on Gilbert Arenas at all?
Not really. Agent "Now Plain" Zero still behaved like an idiot before, during, and after the incident, culminating in the idiotic finger guns that (in many ways) led to his exile from Washington and devolution into a low-grade role player.
Still, it makes me wonder: Did the NBA actually barely avoid a true -- and truly damaging -- tragedy? We don't have all the facts yet, and it's possible that Crittenton is innocent. But if he isn't innocent, then he's capable of killing in cold blood. What would have happened if he had gunned Arenas down in the Wizards locker room?
Can you even imagine? Would David Stern have canceled the season in response? Or at least part of the season? That’s one possible repercussion. Beyond the fact that Arenas could have ended up dead. It’s chilling on so many levels.
So I guess the only thing it changes regarding my perception of Arenas is that he's lucky to be alive.
-Josh said: There are some plays that are absolutely bawful for everyone because of the nature of the play, but I'm curious about what is your most personally bawful single play or possession.. I'm a blazers fan, so for me it's got to be the most recent time Greg Oden's knee shattered into a million glittering pieces. Like a disco ball (seems appropriate given his age). First off, it wasn't some big important play or a big important game. He wasn't laying it all on the line. There was no villain giving him a flying dragon kick to the knee. There was nothing even remotely redeeming about this injury. Just sheer tragedy. Things were finally turning around, he was putting together some good performances, the blazers were looking good then ...
Wow. It's hard (read that: impossible) for me to choose just one. So I won't. Here are five in chronological order:
1. Magic Johnson's junior skyhook in Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals. It is impossible to quantify how hard I was rooting for the Celtics back then. Seriously, I'm still battling massive internal injuries from it. The Celtics were ridiculously injured and probably would have lost those Finals to the Lakers no matter what. But had Boston won that game, it would have tied the series, and who knows what would have happened? Instead, Kevin McHale bobbled the rebound off a missed free throw, losing the ball out of bounds and giving Magic a chance to steal the game. Which he did.
To make matters worse, he hit the shot over McHale, Robert Parish, and (sorta) Larry Bird, making the shot even more immortal. And, therefore, I have to relive it over and over and over.
2. Seven games into the 1987-88 season, in Cleveland of all places, Larry Bird attempted a behind the back dribble and strained both Achilles tendons. Bird would go on to have his best statistical season...but his legs where never right after that. By the time the Celtics reached the Eastern Conference Finals, Bird's mobility was shot and he suffered through the worst playoff series of his career. And his problems became even more apparent the following season, during which he lasted only six games before having dual Achilles surgery. Larry never was the same again.
3. Yes, I blog about the Bulls, but in the 1998 NBA Finals, I was rooting all-out for my man Karl Malone -- and John Stockton and Jerry Sloan -- to win their first NBA title. And the Jazz were so close to forcing a Game 7...then Michael Jordan pushed off Byron Russell and hit the most replayed shot in league history. But it wasn't just that play. There were a whole sequence of painful plays that led to that final, fatal, nut-shriveling shot.
For the record, I'm still pissed at Stockton for passing that ball to Malone when Jordan was so obviously lurking behind him.
4. Larry Johnson's freaking four-point play in Game 3 of the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals. This one still kills me. I will probably die thinking about this damn shot.
As I once wrote about this traveshamockery: This was the game that finally convinced me: God hates the Pacers. Maybe Reggie sacrificed a newborn baby after every game-winning shot, or maybe the team was cursed by gypsies for trading away Chuck Person and Detlef Schrempf. I don't know. But nothing short of Satan's dark power can explain what happened that day. Michael Jordan had retired (again). The Bulls were gone. This was to be Year 1 of the Pacers Dynasty. They were even leading the game 91-88 with five seconds left. But Larry Johnson, best known for dressing up as his own elderly grandmother, got fouled by Antonio Davis, dribbled once, took three steps, and then hit a 3-pointer. Unbelievably, referee Dick Bavetta (known around the league as "Knick Bavetta") ruled it a continuation. Johnson hit the free throw to complete a 4-point play, and the Knicks won 92-91. Instead of eventually going up 3-1 (they won game 4), the Pacers never recovered and lost the series 4-2.
Because I hate myself, here's a documentary about that shot:
5. Robert Horry wiping out Steve Nash in Game 4 of the 2007 Western Conference Semifinals. Look, I don't care what anybody says, the Suns were ready to beat the Spurs that year. They were. It was gonna happen. I'm telling you. Then Horry checked Nash into the scorer's table, Nash put a little mustard on the fall, and Steve's teammates Stoudemire and Boris Diaw (STAT's backup) stood up to see what happened...and got suspended for Game 5. Which the Suns lost by three points.
The Spurs went on to sweep the Cavaliers in the Finals and Nash has (gak) joined Malone, Stockton, Charles Barkley, et al. in the list of great players to never win an NBA title. And he (double-gak) leads the list of great players never to make the Finals.
Lord Kerrance said: What effect (if any) do you see the lockout having on your personal enjoyment of NBA basketball? And how will a strike change your day-to-day since you won't have to watch all those games?
Honestly, after the lockout is over, I'll enjoy the NBA as much as I ever did. I'm an NBA lifer, and whatever naivety I had about the sport died during the last lockout, probably between the time Patrick Chewing said, "Sure, we make a lot of money, but we spend a lot, too," and Kenny Anderson complained that "I was thinking about selling one of my cars. I don't need all of them. You know, just get rid of the Mercedes. ... But it's like they say: the more you make, the more you spend. And right now, without my check, I have to start getting tight."
(For the record: "John Stockton was shouted down at a players' meeting in Las Vegas for suggesting there should be any limit to the percentage of league revenues that should go to the players.")
As for how the lockout would change my day-to-day life? I guess it would be similar to right now. I don't have to get up at 4 a.m. every day. I get to do recreational things like watch movies, read books, train for the Tough Mudder in November.
I have to admit, it's kind of nice. I also have to admit, I would kind of miss doing Worst of the Night and so forth.
Dr Brian said: I'd like to know...who would win in a frosting eating contest?
A) Shaquille O'Neal
B) Eddy Curry
C) Oliver Miller
D) Latrell Sprewell, since all of his money goes to raising his dozens of kids.
Wow. That contest would put a serious hurt on the world's frosting supplies. Children everywhere would have to eat frosting-less birthday cakes for years during the recovery. Here's my take: Shaq could get injured a few minutes into the contest and have to withdraw. After taking a surprising but substantial lead, Curry would inexplicably disappear without a trace. Sprewell is just too small. So the Frosting Contest King crown goes to...Oliver Miller.
Greg Ostertag. I don't have the numbers to back that up. It's just a gut feeling.
Which ref is the personification of bawful officiating?
Ooooo. Tough one. Here are my "Worst NBA Ref" picks:
1. Dick Bavetta
2. Joey Crawford
3. Bennett Salvatore
I have to admit, it was hard to put anybody over Joey "I will eject you for laughing from the bench" Crawford, but if anybody deserves a lifetime achievement award for officiating bawfulness, it's "Knick" Bavetta. As for Salvatore, he's just plain old lousy. I'll probably do a post about worst refs soon, so more on this later.
Who is your prediction for new member(s) of the 20-10-50 club?
First, I'd like to say a belated congratulations to Blake Griffin and Kevin Love for joining the 20-10-50 club last season. Bravo, boys.
As for potential new members...well, with all that's changed about the Jazz, I think Paul Milsap could seriously threaten. Additionally, I know David West is due to be a free agent, and I could see him getting overpaid by some crap team and then putting up the required 20-10 in a 50-loss campaign.
By the way, I will always feel somewhat cheated that Chris Kaman could never score, or rebound, or stay healthy enough in a single season to join the 20-10-50 club.
Does "the custodian" remain the doormat of the NBA?
No. I think he finally earned some street cred for thumping every Heat player who walked by him while the Mavericks were ramrodding their way to a championship.
Two potentials for next NBA doormat of note would be Keith Bogans and Joel Anthony. Not because they have bloated contracts, but because they have been thrust into too-big-for-them roles on championship contenders. ANd fans just love blasting those guys.
lordhenry said: One big question: When LeBron was in Cleveland the consensus was that Mike Brown held him back along with the supporting cast. Now that LBJ has the support he wants, and Mike Brown is with LA, who do you think will be more successful this season, providing we have one?
I think that Mike Brown is a terrific defense coach...and an abysmal offensive coach. What's going to happen to L.A.'s offense under Brown as it transitions away from The Triangle? And who's going to pull the reins on Kobe with P-Jax gone? Oh, wait, Brown doesn't pull the reins on his best player. He gives that player the ball and tells him, "Coach yourself, guy!"
Assuming there's as season, I think the Lakers are going to struggle, no matter what Ron Artest says. They'll likely become a much better defensive team, but they'll be a disorganized mess on the other end.
And, anyway, Kobe’s in decline.
Meanwhile, LeBron, D-Wade, and The RuPaul of Big Men are in their primes. The Heat will be better than the Lakers. Probably much better. Which, for me, is like watching Mega Shark defeat Giant Octopus. One terrible monster may be gone, but we're still screwed.
kazam92 said: Which "classic team" are you most excited to use in NBA 2K12?
Obviously, I'm excited to use any team with Larry Bird or Magic Johnson. Beyond that, using the current list, here are the teams I'm most geeked about using, in reverse chron order:
Obviously, I loved the 1997-98 Jazz. I was a huge Hakeem fan. Playing as the Bad Boy Pistons is something of a morbid curiosity, plus I want to play Laimbeer 48 minutes per game and see if he gets injured. A Sixers team with Sir Charles, Doc J, and Moses Malone? Are you kidding me? The 69-win Lakers team is a no-brainer. Ditto for Kareem's championship Bucks squad. And I've always wanted to try the 60s era Celtics and Lakers teams. Bill Russell and Jerry West in their primes!
my-eyes-are-dim-I- cannot see said: Should players be allowed to wear different designs and colors on their team shorts? I watch the NBA on TV in Europe - having not been brought up watching basketball, I honestly find it hard to recognize players. Why not allow different colored shorts for guards, centers and forwards? A great opportunity to raise awareness and marketability.
I believe that uniforms should require a certain, well, uniformity. Not only because it just looks better, but for practical reasons as well. A big part of the rationale for common uniforms is so players can quickly and easily recognize teammates. If you play enough pickup ball, you've probably accidentally passed the rock to somebody wearing the same colored shirt as one of your teammates (I know I have...many times). It can also affect defense, if you're expecting somebody to switch with you on a pick but that guy's actually on the other squad.
I could be okay with teams selling a limited number of ads (assuming they were of reasonable size) on the jerseys and shorts, but they would need to be in a specific location that would be the same for all teams.
sixtyeight said: I consider some of the modern nba rules and regulations absolutely bawful and detrimental to the purity of the game, if you could change one to make the nba a better basketball league (and less of a WWE with balls and hoops) what would it be?
You mean other than superstar calls?
Honestly, I would like to see some consistency between how fouls are called inside versus how they're called on the perimeter. Guys like LeBron, Kobe, D-Wade, 'Melo, et al., benefit greatly from the hand checking rules that were instituted several years ago. I think some of the calls are a little ticky-tac, but whatever.
What about the big men, though? In many cases, hand-to-hand combat is still allowed down low. Look at the way the Thunder players were roughing up Zach Randolph and Pau Gasol in the Western Conference Semis. If anybody defended a perimeter player like that, the dude would shoot 30 free throws. It's reduced creativity in the post, becuase players constantly have an elbow in their back and a knee up their ass.
That's the real reason post play isn't what it once was.
DieblerFever said: Who do you like on Dancing with the Stars this year?
If you were trying to bait me into commenting on Ron Artest's impending presence on the show, it totally worked. Is there a better NBA baller to feature on DwtS? Of course not. Let's face it: Whether he can dance or not is inconsequential. Ron-Ron is crazy enough to absolutely throw himself into trying to dance. He has no shame whatsoever, so there's no dance he won't try. And the likelihood that he'll say or do something that's totally off-the-wall is around 100 percent and climbing.
"Do you realize that, 5-10 years from now, Ron Artest will be standing on that stage giving almost the exact same speech? Only he won't be getting inducted into the Hall of Fame, and security will have to remove him on live TV. I can't wait."
I just had to share that.
Editor's Note: What? Your question didn't get answered? It will be. It will be. I plan to use the remaining questions as fodder for another post, or multiple posts, or another mailbag. If you have more questions, or follow up questions to these answers, post 'em.
As many of you are aware, while the lockout continues, many of our favorite NBA players have headed to foreign lands to play hoops. Not a shock. More curious, however, has been the occasional NBA player choosing to apply for jobs normally reserved for college graduates and middle-Americans kicked in the jimmies by the burst of the housing bubble. First, there was rumor of Brandon Jennings going to work at Foot Locker, but near as I can tell he was just passing though to promote himself. More recently came the news of Delonte West applying for a job at Home Depot.
Well, we at Basketbawful sent out some investigative reporters (along with a few small-time criminals) and managed to get our hands on Delonte's actual job application. This is some amazing stuff, folks. Pulitzer-worthy. Or least worthy of a backstage pass to the ESPYs. Or maybe a just fruit roll-up with a Celtics logo on it.