Nationally Televised Games: Spurs at Hornets, NBA TV, 8pm: Thanks Time Warner for sucking slightly less than usual lately and adding NBA TV to my cable lineup, this will be the first legitimate NBA game I actually get to watch on NBA TV in the comfort of my own home! Therefore I fully expect this to be the most boring game in the history of professional basketball. You have been warned.
Lakers at Trail Blazers, NBA TV, 10:30pm: The roster has been overhauled and the team has a new look. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out.
What? Oh, I'm talking about the Blazers, not the Lakers. Sorry for the confusion.
All The Other Games: Pacers at Raptors, 7pm: I'm not going to call them the Craptors yet on the off chance that they aren't terrible. I'm nice like that. I AM, however, going to post the clip of the raptor losing control and faceplanting because it's the greatest moment ever captured on film. Sound fair?
Nuggets at 76ers, 7pm: Breaking: Andrew Bynum not available for this game. Also breaking: Andrew Bynum.
Rockets at Pistons, 7:30pm: Jeremy Lin, James Harden, James Harden's Beard... Interested to see how this goes.
Kings at Bulls, 8pm: Tough season for both teams. Chicago has to figure out how the hell to keep winning without Derrick Rose. Sacramento has to figure out how the hell to stay in Sacramento. I'm not sure which is more realistic...
Mavericks at Jazz, 9pm: According to the STATS LLC game preview I read, Paul Millsap is "the only remaining player from the franchise's 53-win team in 2009-10." The last time I saw that much turnover action that fast was Tony Romo in the first quarter against the Giants last week. Hiyooo
Warriors at Suns, 10pm: Jared Dudley on Goran Dragic becoming the starting point guard for the Suns: "I thought him leaving, going to Houston and starting has helped his confidence, helped his maturity. He definitely is the face of the franchise now. It's his show." I am still not sure how I feel about this... I remember watching Dragic come off the bench for Steve Nash a couple years ago and thinking how I loved Dragic's energy and aggressiveness. But then I'd see him turn the ball over spectacularly and get frustrated. Does anyone here have any more recent time spent watching Dragic? How do you feel about him?
Grizzlies at Clippers, 10:30pm: You really should go read this great piece by Jonathan Abrams -- it's a behind-the-scenes look at how Lionel Hollins is coaching the Grizzlies. Fascinating stuff. Almost as fascinating as Hollins' jacked-up fingers.
"The game of basketball is a physical game. I'm not not a dirty player. It's physical. Everyone falls down, and everyone gets up."
That's what Miami's Dwyane Wade had to say back in May of 2011 after this happened:
Note how, after Wade and Rajon Rondo got tangled up, Wade swept Rondo's leg and pulled him down, resulting in a pretty serious dislocation of Rondo's elbow. You can argue about whether Wade is a dirty player -- and I will below -- but you can't say that wasn't a dirty play.
Flash forward to last night when this happened:
According to today's rules, that was indeed a flagrant foul, even if the call made Bill Laimbeer throw up in his own mouth. Dirty? Eh...not really.
Unless you're Dwyane Wade.
Said Wade: "I got my kids watching so I stopped myself, but it was a punk play by him. He clotheslined me. ... I'm here to play basketball, man. If you want to do something else, then go do something else. Boxing, this is not it. I was glad I was able to stop myself in that very moment and move on from it. We'll see next time we play."
Ah, a heathy dose of righteous indignation and a subtle threat about possible revenge in the next Celtics-Heat game. Way to take the high road, Mr. Wade.
Was that a "punk play"? Busting somebody's face during an exhibition game? The best part was Wade's response afterward.
Said Wade: "Obviously I didn't try to draw no blood...but I took a foul. Kobe had fouled me twice in a row right before that."
Ah. So Kobe deserved what he got. Cause, you know, he fouled Wade twice in a row before that.
Wade expanded on his explanation: "Unfortunate that happened to him, but that's all I could do. He knows it's no ill intent on me to do that. Did I take a foul? Yes, I took a foul. So, talk about me for taking a foul. But I never wanted that kind of outcome."
You could probably say the same about Rondo's foul last night.
Going on, let's not forget how Wade threw Chicago's Rip Hamilton out of bounds last season:
And do you remember the reckless flagrant he committed against Darren Collison during last year's playoff series against the Pacers?
Even TNT's Steve Kerr was disturbed by this one: "I think Joey Crawford is going to call a flagrant foul on Dwyane Wade and I think it's deserved. He just looked like a free safety lining up a receiver here... Look at this. Wade just tees off on Collison."
I should also point out, earlier in the playoffs, New York's Mike Bibby lost his shoe during play...and Wade picked it up and tossed it off the court:
First, the sheer lack of guilt or remorse after Wade's various thuggings. I play plenty of pickup basketball and I've delivered my share of hard fouls. But when I bowl somebody over, I apologize and pick them up. It's a little thing called human decency. Wade doesn't seem to have that gene.
Second, how can Wade commit these fouls, insist he isn't a dirty player, and then call Rondo out for what was a pretty mild (but correctly called) flagrant? And then he congratulated himself for not reacting? Should Rondo have given himself a pat on the back for not attacking Wade for mangling his elbow?
Now Dime Magazine and ESPN are running pieces asking if Rondo is a dirty player.
Shouldn't we be asking this about Wade?
And so it begins... The disease has got me now. Any hopes I may have had for self growth, personal productivity, and social mobility have been lost until at least July. The inaugural tip has been thrown; I have laid my claim to a body sized indentation in the couch, and I shan't get up until someone has been crowned NBA champion, or at least until I need something to snack on. But enough about me, and about how come December I'm going to be trying to suck the quarters out of vending machines just to pay the cable bill (if I'm lucky), it's time to take a trip through the worst of opening night and remember what makes this hoops addiction completely worth while a complete waste of valuable time.
Worst of the Night
The Washington Wizards Generals: When the guy listed as your top performer has less than ten points, doesn't reach the number 5 in any other statistical category, and is named Trevor Ariza, then you know something has gone terribly wrong. Top scoring "honors" for the team belong to Jordan Crawford with 11 points, and he only needed 13 shots to get there. Moving on...
CJ Miles: Life is looking pretty rough for Mr. Miles on the first day of the season. Apparently, he's coming off the bench for Alonzo Gee, despite the team's depth chart saying otherwise. He was only given 17 minutes of playing time, which makes sense considering that he only made 1 of 5 shots and had a 1:3 assist to turnover ratio. Gee meanwhile was given 34 minutes to prove himself.
Alonzo Gee: Mr. Gee scored four points on 2-9 shooting. Need I say more? Alright, I will. He also was the game's statistical leader...for getting his shot blocked. Don't get too comfortable in that starting slot Alonzo. (Looking up at previous entry) On second thought you might as well get comfortable.
This would seem to be Alonzo Gee
The Washington Generals Frontcourt: They get a special mention for letting Sideshow Anderson Varejao gobble up a career high 23 rebounds against them. Although, I guess with with Nene injured a Washington Generals frontcourt is merely an imaginary concept and it's pretty hard to block out an opposing player theoretically.
Ray Allen: Thanks to Ray Allen's stellar marksmanship the Celtics were able to defeat the archrival Heat in the season opener. Wait a second...what's that uniform say? Oh fuck me. Apparently in a better world the Celtics would have won this game by 25 points. Allen was polite before the game and gave KG a playful punch on the shoulder. KG didn't respond. According to Allen "he probably didn't even see me coming cause his head's down all the time on the bench". Yeah, that's clearly what that was.
Mike Miller: He had to go and spoil a perfectly good six trillion by recording a single assist. Now thanks to him I only have a one man Lacktion report.
LeBron James unintentionally menstrual quote machine: In what's becoming an oddly commonplace occurrence LeBron had to excuse himself from play when his cramps started acting up. ''Once you start cramping, there's nothing you can do about it". Somebody needs to tell him about Feminax Ultra.
The NBA's lack of a cage fighting policy: I would really liked to have seen where Rondo was going with that clothesline to poor Pookie.
The Los Angeles Lakers: One of the two teams in the night's final contest is a favorite to go on to the NBA finals, while the other started Eddie Curry. Guess who won? I'm not going to say that Eddie Curry was unstoppable, he only actually made 3 shots, but there were moments (approximately three of them) when it felt like Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard were actually trying to stop him and couldn't. Psychologically, that might have been the game right there.
The Artest formerly known as Ron: Even though they lost, there were moments when the Laker's offense looked like the well oiled machine many expected from the get-go. Then there were the moments that involved MWP, where the offense looked like a well oiled machine a large mammal had gotten stuck in causing some of the gears to fall off as everything grinded to a halt. The 1 for 8 in the box score actually looked worse on TV than it does in print. His flailing, barely facing the basket, awkward attempts at scoring erased all memories in my mind of a time when his scoring a basket seemed like anything more than a freak accident.
Dwight Howard at the Line: Laker fans can hope that Dwight's 3-14 performance from the line was more of an homage to terrible Laker free throw shooting centers of the past than an actual attempt to shoot free throws. At one point Pau couldn't help himself and pulled Dwight aside to tell him "elbow in, follow through." Good thinking Pau, because we all know how much the big man loves unsolicited advice, and would never freeze out anybody who liked to advise him.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Darren Collison can hit a running rainbow floater from the foul line over Dwight Howard's outstretched hand? Well, apparently he can.
Reggie Miller indefensible opinion machine: Puffed up by Curry executing a couple moves in the post without tripping over his own feet and being knocked unconscious, Reggie declared Curry "offensively during his heyday as good as it got down low". Is this the New York Knick heyday?
Reggie Miller indefensible opinion machine pt 2: Apparently, large people are no good at free throws because of their oversized hands. I guess that's why Ben Wallace is such a better free throw shooter than Michael Jordan and Dr. J, huh Reg?
Reggie Miller indefensible opinion machine pt 3: According to Reggie Pau Gasol is 7'2". I wouldn't have brought it up, except I remember Reggie during a finals broadcast saying Bird was 7 feet tall. Does Reggie Miller think he's 6'10" or something?
Lakers-Mavericks: Dahntay Jone's made the night special with a +2 Suck Differential in 8 minutes of play.
"Okay Coach, that's all well and good... But how is showing me how to drive a miniature car going to help me play basketball?"
Hello friends! Nice to see you again. Looking forward to yet another season of entertaining NBA action, and entertaining NBA lacktion. I'm sure it will be tough without our beloved Brian Scalabrine on the court warming the bench, but we'll make the best of it. Our blog has some awesome new talent this season as you have certainly noticed. And I'll still be around, though I may not post every weeknight like before. I don't want to get burned out again like I did last season. Thankfully the schedule is a little less hectic this year since we don't have a lockout-compressed season. Now we can take time actually savor each game like a glass of fine wine. Or at least some Night Train. (Jake and Elwood Blues would approve)
Also best wishes to everyone affected by the hurricane.
Worst Of The Preseason In Pictures:
Why so not-serious, Terry Stotts?
Whoa! What is being in LA doing to you, Steve Nash??
And the award for least enthusiastic hug of the preseason goes to...
Kevin Love Photobomb!
Good to have you back, Jeff Green
(Seriously, great to see him back on the court!)
Nationally Televised Games:
Celtics at Heat, TNT, 8pm: Hey, did you know Ray Allen doesn't get along with Rajon Rondo?
What? You did? How could you possibly have known that?
Oh, every single friggin' piece of NBA news the past few weeks has revolved around this? I see. Carry on then.
Mavericks at Lakers, TNT, 10:30pm: Anyone who happens to see me while I'm watching any game featuring Steve Nash in Lakers colors, just ignore my eye twitching. Pretty sure it's going to be like that all season.
All The Other Games:
Wizards Generals at Cavaliers, 7pm: Now, see, this is how the NBA treats us fans. They act like "yeah we're gonna give you this awesome Celtics/Heat game to start the season! We care about you so much!" But then in reality, for those NBA fans with League Pass or local TV market coverage, the first actual game of opening night is this steaming turd laid directly on your doorstep. The NBA -- It's FAAAAANTASTIC!
You know what? Instead of wasting your time on this game, I recommend you watch this delightful clip from Titanic: The Animated Movie!
"We're on a ship that will soon crash and kill countless people. You know what that means... It's PARTY TIME"
Last night, I’m sitting in a restaurant enjoying some drinks and laughing it up with family. My uncle cranes his neck up towards the flat screen hanging above our table. “Oh Damn, they traded him” He exclaims. I look up to see James Harden and his beard smiling back at me. Flashing across the screen is the breaking story of Harden being traded to the Houston Rockets. I lower my head and gaze deeply into my glass. I think to myself, Um this is only my second margarita. No way am I already drunk. “Wait, what?” I cautiously say. As if ESPN wasn’t already making it perfectly clear.
Apparently OKC couldn’t get Harden to agree to a four year extension worth in the neighborhood of $53-$55 million. Rather than let Harden leave via free agency, Sam Presti and company made the bold choice to trade their reigning 6th Man of the Year. They’re sending Harden, along with Cole Aldrich, Deaquan Cook, and Lazar Haywood to Houston. The Rockets are getting rid of Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, 2 first round picks, and 1 second round pick. The max Harden could have signed would have been $60 million. We’re talking about a $5-$7 million difference and $1.25-$1.75 mil per year over 4 seasons. At first glance it would seem as if the Thunder are breaking up a championship level team for relatively small amounts of money. However, signing Harden to the max would have pushed the Thunder over the salary cap and in to luxury tax waters. That’s no place to be for a franchise located in the third smallest market.
Meanwhile, 1,328 miles away in Los Angeles, Mitch Kupchak is sitting in his office puffing on a pre finals victory cigar. The Lakers and their monstrous television contract can construct pretty much any team they’d like with little regard to tax penalties. Small market franchises have to hope stars will be willing to take less money to play in a less attractive city with possibly less attractive women.
The Thunder groupies aren't that bad
Maybe Harden felt slighted by OKC’s offer. Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka were maxed out when their time came. But Harden was the one asked to take less. James is taking a major risk by scoffing at the latest offer. He has to now play for a different team, in a different system, with a different coach, and a different point guard. All eyes will be on him, and if he under performs, he could see himself signing a contract for less than the one Sam Presti had on the table.
In my OKC season preview I didn’t think they would have any trouble getting Harden to accept less than the max. We kept hearing how close the Thunder’s Big Three were. How it was similar to a college atmosphere. There were no egos or agendas. They were all focused on winning the title and the money was a non issue. On the outside it appears James has let someone get in his ear. Possibly convinced that he deserved more…That he was owed more. This whole thing is starting to stink of greed and pride. Oklahoma City could conceivably still win the title. But if they do, Harden will have to watch it take place from afar.
Holy F*%!ing Squid Ballz, David Stern is retiring. What will the NBA do without him? Without an Emperor Palpatine look-alike and his cronies lording over the league, the games are theoretically gonna have to be decided on the court. While some might see this as a good thing, we may be forgetting the little victims. Who is gonna press The Stern Button? Is it just gonna sit there, lonely and inanimate, waiting in silence as the league goes on without it? Of course, none of this actually happens until Feb. 1st, 2014, which leaves plenty of time for a save The Stern Button movement.
Worst of the Night
The Milwaukee Bucks Backcourt: Somebody's gonna have to come up with a witty name for these guys because I have a feeling we're gonna be seeing a lot of them. The idea of combining Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis onto one team might once have held a faint glimmer of promise, the kind of tantalizing long shot that's poured many a Midwestern mortgage payment into the brightly lit Nevada desert; last night made it abundantly clear that hope was just some sort of fever dream and the Bucks have a lot of "everything must go" yard sales in their future. The twin shoot first point guards combined for a gruesome 4-25 for the field. Don't worry, they also chipped in 6 assists to go with their 6 turnovers as Jenning's somehow outscored his twisted doppelganger with only 6 points. See what I'm getting at? 'Tis not a backcourt; 'tis the beast.
The Bobcats: Luckily the Bucks were playing the Bobcats so that's pretty much an automatic win, even with a two headed hell beast gobbling up most of your teams possessions. As a team, the Bobcats unsurprisingly failed to shoot 40%. Despair is clearly setting in for Ramon Sessions who went 4-16. As he's probably realized by now, that short time with the Lakers was in all likelihood the most playoff action he's going to see for another insufferably long stretch of his career on basement dwelling teams. In a way, you've got to give the guy credit that he managed to hit four shots with that kind of cloud hanging over him.
Fun Fact: The Buck's top scorer was Tobias Harris who scored 18 pts in 17 minutes. Tobias is the first man named Tobias in the history of the NBA.
Damian Lillard: I get it. It's the penultimate game of the preseason. You're a rookie. It's not a bad time to get the whole 'more field goal attempts than points and as many turnovers as assists' thing out of the way. Of course, coming from college we can't expect that you'd be ready for the awesome defensive prowess of the Utah Jazz and their Frankenstein backcourt of discarded pieces from last years Clippers team and Jamaal Tinsley.
Tyrone Corbin: What possible excuse could there be for playing Jamaal Tinsley. It's not Jamaal's fault didn't score a point in 23 minutes. It's your fault for giving him those minutes.
Tyrone Corbin: Yeah that's right, Tye Corbin, you get two. You were playing at home, man. What did you want to have happen? Did you want those kids to witness a man falling apart, torn limb from limb while attempting a crossover? Let people remember the Silver Bullet how they want to and not as your grim charade.
Once, he could almost keep the ball from a PF with no ACLs
The Los Angeles Lakers: Still without a win after eight tries. Don't worry Lakers fans. Nobody cares.
Mike Brown: But people do care about Kobe being questionable for the opener of the actual season. They say hindsight is 20/20, so I'll give coach Brown the benefit of the doubt. I mean, clearly he had to play all his starters over 30 minutes a piece just to lose to Sacramento last Sunday. It's not like any of them are over 38, coming off of back surgery, or injured themselves in a meaningless preseason game last year as well.
Me: About that whole hindsight is 20/20 thing.... I probably should have bothered to watch the Clippers play Denver (I think it was on NBA TV). Judging from the box score, Blake Griffin (10-13, 25 pts) and Chris Paul (12 assists 0 turnovers) probably put on a heck of a show. But fuck it dude, it's the preseason.
The author in the '70s
Lakers-Kings: Darius Johnson-Odom messed around and got a two trillion, bringing none of the skills of former Lakers Lamar Odom or Magic Johnson to the table (or for that matter even the skills of Darius Miles).
Jazz-Blazers: Will Barton disgraced the Blazers uniform with a +1 suck differential in five minutes of playing time. Kevin Murphy of the Jazz recorder a turnover in a little under three minutes time giving him a +1 suck differential to call his own.
Ladies and gentlemen, your starting shooting guard for the Los Angeles Clippers, and the only man to ever win the 6th man of the year award while playing for the Hawks: Jamal Crawford!
A tall thin man in a burgundy sports jacket, white shirt, and matching burgundy bow tie steps up to a microphone on an empty stage. The mic feeds back when he attempts to speak into it; he jerks back awkwardly before steadying himself.
The only sounds in an empty auditorium are of the crickets outside.
"I've never actually been drilled before. Seriously. I told Blake that,
and he couldn't believe it."
A wind whistles faintly through the far off exit door.
"We have a great coaching staff...an organization that's committed to winning..."
The sound of muffled laughter can be heard coming from the parking lot.
This seems like how you'd shoot this thing
It appears that performance artist Jamal Crawford's recent attempts to amuse a mass audience have once again fallen mostly on deaf ears. Perhaps, the world simply isn't ready for the absurd humorist/NBA athlete combination. For years Mr. Crawford kept his dual occupation a secret, then in 2008 he let Dime Magazine in on the joke.
Dime: What do most of your teammates not know about you?
JC: They don’t know that I’m a comedian. The season for me is business, but off the court I’m really funny.
The cat was out of the bag, but no one seemed to care. The reprisal he had feared never came. Neither his teammates nor the league at large seemed to mind that Jamal was taking his summers off to pursue his love of comedy.
"Jamal's very hard working" an insider told Basketbawful reporters on condition of anonymity. "I can't comment on how much he works on basketball in the off-season, but I can tell you that he is extremely dedicated to his own idiosyncratic and somewhat inscrutable method of comedy."
What a dedicated comic looks like
The story that Jamal doesn't practice shooting was first reported by Helene Elliott of the LA Times. Since then, it's been picked up by USA Today, CBS Sports, and sundry blogs. This response however, has failed to satisfy the gag's creator. When asked how Jamal was perceiving the reaction to his latest comedic endeavor, the source added that the lukewarm response has wounded Jamal's sensitive artistic temperament.
I think he was really hoping that it'd be a bigger deal. As a player who's spent most of his career in the wake of the infamous "practice" press conference, Jamal wanted to create a living homage to that iconic moment while crafting his own statement on the role of cognitive bias within the spectator athlete relationship in post-industrial society. By refusing to acknowledge that he's joking, the onus of interpretation is left to the audience. For the moment, the audience is not rising to the challenge. It's kinda like the reaction to that film with Joaquin Phoenix, I'm Still Here, which didn't garner a lot of accolades or box office but may have contained some of the finest acting of his career.
While at Michigan, Jamal studied under Dr. Dummkopf von Ausfahrt, a renowned comic theorist. He absorbed influences from the dadaists and was exposed to the plays of the Theater of the Absurd, such as Ionesco's Rhinocéros, which was said to have had a profound effect on his world view.
Poster from Crawford's dorm room
Dr. Ausfahrt is an outspoken proponent of "anti-humor" and his athletic disciple has been known to echo his opinions in interviews.
BDL: I read that you're a comedian. What's the best joke you can tell me that's PG-13 rated?
Best joke? See I'm not good at just saying jokes, I'm just funny.
Dr Ausfahrt laughed as I read this quote to him. "You zee here ve have ze very ezzenze of ze anti-humor approach. Zere iz no zuch thing az a joke," The doctor said overemphasizing every word in a sing song fashion, "Life! Zis is ze true comedy. You do not tell ze joke. Ze joke you live, live! Zee?"
While playing for the New
York Knickerbockers, Jamal passed on his knowledge of situationist humor to
teammate Stephon Marbury. In a case of the student surpassing the teacher, Marbury and his plucky alter ego Starbury went on to scale
heights of absurdity that even Isiah Thomas couldn't reach. "Jamal's ego was bruised by this," the source confided, "when he saw Steph crying on
youtube while rubbing Vaseline all over his bare chest, he had to admit
to himself that he just couldn't compete with that."
Bidding farewell to the bright lights of Broadway that he had dreamt of
as an aspiring comic, Crawford went west to Golden State because the
Warriors offered him the most appropriate venue for his devastating caricature of a contemporary volume scoring shooting guard. His stay was short lived and mostly spent
arguing with Don Nelson because it seemed like the thing to do, or at
least mildly ironic. Then he found arguably the greatest success of his
basketball career with the Atlanta Hawks, a team he selected because
they seemed to best embody the futility of his talent.
"He left the Hawks because the line between actual basketball player
and parody of a basketball player was getting too difficult to
recognize," revealed the insider, "He had become lost in his art. He
tried to clear his head out in the forests of Oregon, but the experience
just left him feeling more adrift and yearning for the glimmer of
Although Crawford still struggles with his audience, he has at the very
least recorded one victory for his comic sensibilities. Of all the
great shooters who have ever sweated out hours of lonely practice in the
gym, none can claim to be the all time leader in the greatest play of
all—the four point play. Only Jamal Crawford has earned that distinction.
"You zee ze brilliant subverzivenezz of ziz diztinzion." Dr. Ausfahrt exclaimed while pounding his fist down alarmingly hard on his desk. "Vhen you open up ze record bookz you zee Michael Jord-an, Vilt Chamberlain, John Ztockton, and here viz zeez names you zee Jamal Crawford! Zuch iz a profound mockery of ze very idea of a record!" At this point, Doctor Dummkopf von Ausfahrt was overcome with a sudden bout of Alien Hand Syndrome and had to excuse himself.
Although his latest attempt at comic gold was a flop, it wouldn't be beyond belief to see this dreamer score big one day with a smash hit. Hollywood can be a strangely forgiving town. Eddie Murphy starred in the Adventures of Pluto Nash in 2002 and has been in nearly twenty movies since then. A close friend of the clown prince of the hardwood believes he has what it takes to one day be more consistently funny.
Jamal's not gonna give up comedy just because people haven't cracked his sense of humor. He's not going to abandon his art just because it might offend people's notions of what a professional athlete is and how one should behave. Basketball has only been around a century or so, but he traces the origins of his artistic philosophy back to Diogenes.
Diogenes of Sinope was a founding father of cynicism in Ancient Greece. He used to harass Plato and masturbate in public until eventually he was shanghaied by some pirates. He ended up living his final days in Corinth, where he allegedly made fun of Alexander the Great. The friend concluded wistfully:
Empires and shooting efficiency stats fade away like the stars at dawn. Comedy is forever... or at the very least it lasts a week or so. We're talking a minimum of four to five days here.
Howie Jolliff was sitting alone on his front porch one crisp
October evening in rural Sissonville, Ohio when he got the phone call. His
niece, who lives in LA, had read a piece in the sports section of the Times which
had made mention of the now seventy four year old former Laker. Howie was
surprised and delighted.
“Really?” he asked his niece, his aged voice quivering
slightly in anticipation. “What’d it say?”
There was an awkward silence on the other end of the line.
“It’s not good uncle Howie. Jerry West just held a press
conference to declare you the worst teammate he ever had.”
The news hit the emaciated elder like a sledgehammer.
He hadn’t seen or spoken with his former teammate in nearly
half a century. Although they were never terribly close, Howie had no reason to
believe that the Hall of Famer harbored any kind of grudge against him, or for
that matter ever thought of him at all.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “I just thought you should hear it
The press conference had come as a shock to many. As the
reporters waited for West to arrive, many speculated that they were there to
hear about the Warriors, with whom West is a consultant, or perhaps as part of
further publicity for his book. Instead, they were met with a surprisingly
bitter forty minute diatribe about a player most of them were hearing about for
the first time. When it came time for
questions, one reporter summoned the guts to ask what many of his colleagues
“Isn’t this a little beneath you Mr. West? I mean, you’re the NBA logo for chrissakes.”
The living legend seemed somewhat amused as he considered
“Well, I wouldn’t have said anything, but with this Smush thing in the news lately I thought to myself—you know what? Fuck Howie
A stunned silence fell over the room. Though occasionally
moody, West had always been perceived as an exemplary teammate and a paragon of
professionalism. Nobody in attendance had even heard him curse before.
“One thing I can say about Howie, he actually managed to
shoot a touch over fifty percent…from the foul line. I shouldn’t be too tough on
him though, he did almost average three points a game over the
hundred and thirty eight games I carried his sorry ass. Yeah, good job big
At this point Mr. West paused and lifted his hands from the
podium to do some mock clapping before continuing.
“Did you know Elgin and I came within a game of the title in '62 with him sopping up almost twenty minutes of valuable playing time a
night? I honestly believe that Russ would only have enough rings for both hands
if those minutes had been given to someone even vaguely competent or athletic.”
Even though he was only 6’7, Jolliff would often play at center, something West
disparagingly highlighted. “So we got this schlub and the other team has who?
Bill Russell. Those were the only moments I actually wanted that clod to shoot.
It was worth the turnover just to see Russ rob him of his manhood.”
West sat silently for a moment before adding, “And his
sister was pretty ugly.”
Howie Jolliff played all three years of his pro career for the
Lakers. Life after the NBA wasn’t always easy for him, but he liked to think
that he conducted himself with a certain quiet dignity and grace. He took pride
in his achievements on the hardwood and liked to tell the few who would listen
about the time he walked amongst giants. Now all of that is shattered. However,
for the first time in his life he’s actually getting calls from sportswriters,
and he’s taken the opportunity to paint a darker picture of Mr. Clutch.
“One time, we were on the road and I got up to go to the
bathroom. When I came back Jerry was in my seat. He looked like he was asleep
but now that I think about it he might have just been pretending. I thought it
was odd. There were plenty of seats on the bus and Jerry had already been
seated comfortably. It kind of ticked me off but I didn’t say anything at the
In the wake of these events several other venerable players
have come forth to throw dirt on former forgotten teammates. Bob Petit has gone
on record to say amusingly named Win Wilfong “couldn’t shoot for shit”, and a
personage of no less regard than William Russell recently accused Lou Tsioropoulos
of “sucking ass”. Oscar Robertson, on
the other hand, isn’t naming names.
“To be honest, all my teammates
suffered from the same deplorable condition of not being Oscar Robertson. I
could single somebody out, but really they were all failures—except for Kareem
maybe. For a guy who wasn’t Oscar Robertson he was almost half decent.”
Back in Sissonville the leaves are
changing, the nights are getting longer, and the town is gearing up for
Halloween. Howie’s block especially is renowned for its elaborate decorations,
and his are traditionally among the best. Even kids from surrounding towns will
make the journey out to Mr. Jolliff’s house. Those who come this year will find a
dark yard and a house with the lights turned off.
“I gave up this year,” the
septuagenarian admitted, “I thought it’d be great, and that I could lose myself
in the holiday a bit and forget about this nonsense. Boy was I wrong. Damn kids
stole the mummy off my porch. Somebody popped my blow up Frankenstein. I had
these novelty tombstones that were really a hoot, but someone spray-painted
some very vulgar suggestions on them for me.
I guess I’m kind of a celebrity now. Life can be pretty strange
sometimes. As a younger man, I used to spend a lot of time daydreaming about
becoming famous by playing basketball; I just never dreamed it would be for being
so bad at it.”
In the fall of 1992, I fell in love with the game of basketball. At seven years old I stood over a foot taller than all my classmates. During recess all the boys would take to the blacktop and line up on the baseline. Whoever the captains where on that particular day would argue with one another over the right to have the first pick. In reality, they were arguing over the right to have me on their team. I'd set up on the low blocks, easily pin my defender behind me, and raise my hand in the air to call for the ball. The pass would come in high enough were no other kid could have a chance to grab it. Once the ball was secure, I'd slam down a two handed power dribble while turning towards the basket. Once in position, I’d rise up over two, sometimes three defenders and bank a shot in from about one to two feet away. Every rebound was mine. Every opposing shot in the paint was either getting packed back in to the shooter's face or tossed completely off the court into the grass. I was a grade school basketball god. In my mind, the only other human who could dominate the game in the fashion that I could, was Shaquille O’Neal.
Athlete, Musician, Thespian
Shaquille was my hero. This giant of man would throw down ferocious dunks with little to no regard for the well being of those in the immediate vicinity. When O’Neal ripped down the entire goal in 1993, I thought he was Superman. I literally thought Shaq had descended upon Earth from another galaxy and had begun using his powers to embarrass other gigantic men. To a kid who was unmatched amongst his peers in basketball, this was by far the coolest thing that I could possibly imagine. Not to mention the fact that O’Neal always seemed up for a good time. Dancing, practical jokes, rapping, terrible yet family oriented films. He had it all. Shaq moved onto Los Angeles where he would somehow grow even stronger and more dominant than before. While I was not a fan of the Lakers, I still maintained that respect and admiration for the Man O’ steel. After winning his last title with the Miami Heat, he finished his career by hopping from team to team playing with a slew of other future Hall of Famers. And although his natural gifts faded late in his career, his gregarious spirit stayed strong until his retirement. I cherish everything that man did for the game and he is one of the reasons why I am such a religious fan of the sport to this day. But one thing has become clear to me these past few years...Shaq is a fucking asshole.
"We as players, we always watch people before us," O'Neal said. "When I came in, it was Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon, guys who played like true centers who played inside. What we have now are centers that are going to the European style, which is a lot of pick-and-roll. Dwight Howard, who's a pick-and-roll player, some people say he's the best center in the league, but me being an old-school center, I'm going to go with Robin Lopez and Andrew Bynum because they play with their back to the basket."
These comments were made on NBA TV’s Open Court. OK Shaq. If you’re going to make this claim, let’s make sure we know the names of the players. Steve Smith had to remind him that Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez are different people. Shaq later goes on to say in regards to Brook Lopez, “My man…my man, before the foot injury, was putting up solid, big man numbers…” (Please feel free to read that last quote in your Shaq voice) After these comments, Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez, and Mamma Lopez simultaneously spit their cheerios all over the television screen. Who in their right minds would ever say Brook Lopez and “solid big man numbers” in the same day? In his last healthy season he only grabbed six rebounds a game. He shot an ok percentage at the rim, but at only 4.8 attempts per contest, no one really feared him down low. And his lack of lateral quickness made him a below average defender. Avery Johnson wanted to murder him in his sleep. When compared to other top bigs, Brook has a ways to go. Nice player, but far from top two as the Big Aristotle claims.
I may have retired from the game, but not from running my mouth.
Shaq’s comments on Open Court are just the most recent in a series of public jabs he’s taken at Dwight in the past few years. I have no issue with people taking shots at Dwight in regards to how he handled his exodus from Orlando. But every time Shaq speaks on Dwight and his place amongst the elite centers he comes off as a bitter old man. The average fan would never try to claim Dwight as all time great. At least not yet seeing as how he may not even be halfway through his career. Why so defensive Shaq? Perhaps O’Neal is not so secure with his own legacy. Some critics would claim Shaq was an underachiever throughout the years. Yes, we are aware of the three titles he won with the Lakers after Hakeem made him look like an awkward teenager in the 1995 Finals. Yes, we are aware of the title he won as Dwayne Wade’s sidekick in Miami. But could have Shaq done more in his career? Does he reflect on the times he showed up to training camp fat and unfocused? Does he wonder how much healthier he could have been in the second half of his career had he taken better care of his body? Did he ever stay up late at night peering out of his bedroom window thinking about those missed free throws? Does he skip rocks across a pond wondering if he wouldn’t have been useless in his last two seasons if he had a semblance of a game outside the paint?
A man who is confident in his mark on the game wouldn’t continue to find ways to get under the skin of a player 14 years his junior. This isn’t meant to start a debate about who does/will have the better career. It’s meant to point out how tiresome and silly Shaq’s poking and prodding have become. Dwight had this to say in response to Shaq’s claims.
Shaquille has done the impossible; he’s managed to make Dwight Howard sound like an adult. I guess he really is Superman.
Ok, folks, this is where Glenn gets his second post on here, and you hopefully tell me how awesome he is, and then I can give him official authoring rights to this site so I don't have to post the stuff myself.
Without further adieu, Glenn's great flopping submission:
An open letter to Stu Jackson
I applaud the recent efforts the NBA has taken against flopping. As
you know these theatrics have badly hurt the leagues image and needed
addressing. While what you've proposed is a good start, I'm in favor
of more extreme measures to combat what I see as a dire threat to the
leagues integrity. Call me old fashioned, but when confronting a
problem of this sort, I feel it is necessary to seek out the most
heinous offenders and punish them publicly in a way that fits their
crime. To this end, I have provided you with a list of these players
and some suggestions for fitting punishments. I did not bother adding
the Nick Collison's of the world because I think continuing to toil in
anonymity is the best punishment for them.
To show my lack of bias, I'll present the players in alphabetical order.
Shoot him in the face! Shoot him in the face!!!
(Sorry about that. I'll try to keep my composure from now on.)
His intro music over the PA system is changed to "Cry me a River".
Norris Cole get's his parking spot, and Miami sports writers are
instructed to refer to him as part of the big three.
Bosh becomes the nation wide spokesperson for Vagisil. This is done
free of charge, and Norris Cole is allowed to style his hair.
Smush Parker is brought back for a week as starting point guard. Mike
Brown is required to play him at least thirty minutes per game.
A statue of Shaq is built at Staple's Center...in front of Kobe's
locker. "Tell me how my ass tastes" is inscribed.
Has to buy the victim of the flop an 8 carrot ring. I hear Arron
Afflalo likes purple diamonds.
Forced to be president of the players union. Oh wait...
All evidence of .4 seconds is destroyed.
The Lakers have his number retired by the Clippers.
The AP is instructed to refer to him as "the other Gasol brother".
Sports Illustrated releases a big three issue with Kobe, Howard, and
Nash on the cover.
The name on his jersey is changed to Spanish Marshmallow.
Hire a hypnotist to convince Ginobli that his commute home is actually
a playoff game. Presumably, after a few minutes someone will merge in
front of him without using a turn signal. He will respond by flailing
his arms wildly and sending his car careening past a guard rail,
through the air, and into a bridge abutment.
This won't be necessary.
Insist that he can only give dramatic performances in his Kia commercials.
Instruct scorekeepers to only count his turnaround jump shots for a game.
Have him reappear in the dunk contest, but replace the Kia at the end
with a Hummer.
Have him spot Kevin Durant at the bench press.
Make Lou Williams the 2012 6th man of the year retroactively.
Replace his beard with an equally large beard of bees.
NBA refs are treated to a seminar on traveling, sponsored by Nike.
The league passes a rule that headbands must be worn within 4 inches
of the eyebrow.
Has to play 5 home games for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
No Jerry Lewis.
No painting pictures of the Eiffel Tower while wearing a striped shirt
and a beret.
Can only pass to Ronny Turiaf for a night.
Pau Gasol is allowed to pat him on the head as much as he wants for 20 minutes.
A 5 foot tall guy gets to wail on his nuts real quick. I'm thinking
Dustin Hoffman needs the work.
Can't use his wheelchair at the airport anymore.
Has to have a lozenge before post game interviews.
Antoine Walker is assigned as his future Hall of Fame introduction speaker.
I think that Rajon Rondo already came up with this.
Same thing but with a bowling ball
On behalf of basketball fans everywhere I hope you take these
suggestions seriously. I happen to know Jeff Van Gundy agrees with me.
Hey Oklahoma City, nice basketball team. Lol. Better enjoy it. Not like you got anything else to do around there. Unless you consider cow tipping a competitive sport.........Ah who am I kidding, I'm totally jealous. This season when I cheer on the Mavs, I'll close my eyes and think about the Thunder. And that's OK right? The Mavericks don't have to know. Fantasizing isn’t quite cheating. How often has a franchise moved to a new city, and then shown gigantic improvements each and every year? The only reason I haven't already started rockin' a Thunder jersey is for fear of being labeled a traitor by my peers.
This may or may not be a James Harden tattoo on what may or may not be my arm.
I'm a cynical bastard. It’s easy for me to look at almost any person/situation and spot something to hate. "What’s that you say...You got a new puppy? Probably shits all over the house." "Oh, you just got your Bachelor's in Philosophy...hmm, well that’s…cool I guess.” That’s me. But for some reason, I cannot hate Kevin Durant. I just can't do it. He's a superstar, yet somehow he isn't a scumbag. If a Jehovah's Witness knocks on his door, he probably stands there listening politely. If a girl starts changing clothes in front of him he probably won't sneak a peek while she’s not looking. If he's microwaving something late at night while everyone is asleep, he'll stop it a 1 second so that the beep sound doesn't disturb anyone.
"Hmm, this floor looks a little scuffed. I'll give it a nice once over with the buffer after the game."
Last season the Thunder tore through the league and dominated in the first three rounds of the playoffs before succumbing to the Miami Heat. This offseason they gave Serge Ibaka a nice 4 year $40 million extension. Word around the internet is they are working with James Harden on his extension as well. He's supposedly interested in signing for less than the max. So much for all that talk about the Thunder not being able to pay their core to stick together. I've always felt that assumption was premature anyway. They’ve never been big spenders recently because there wasn't any reason to. No point in breaking the bank for a bunch of scrubs when you're doing pretty well with guys on rookie salaries.
Now that Eric Maynor is back healthy again, they've given Derek Fisher the boot. I imagine he still thinks he can play, but who the hell wants a 38 year old backup point guard who can’t give you points or guard. They also drafted Perry Jones III with the 28th pick in the Draft. His pre-draft physical revealed potential long term knee issues. That coupled reportedly less than stellar work habits seemed to be the main causes for the dip in his draft stock. PJ3 was probably never meant to be THE guy. However in OKC, he won’t have to deal with the pressure of carrying a team. He won't even have to deal with the pressure of being a starter. It’s a great situation for him. I'm not guaranteeing he'll be a star, but I am guaranteeing he'll play a big role for the Thunder at some point in the post season...What else...oh yeah they also signed the human punch line Hasheem Thabeet.
"Just sit back and let KD do all the heavy lifting. How do you think I got my rings"
I see no reason why OKC won’t be a force this upcoming season. They’ve kept all key components and managed to get what I think will be a pretty decent player in the draft. The only thing that could slow them down is if Durant and Westbrook finally had a full on Kobe-Shaq rift. They’ll either be first or second in the West depending on how long Dwight Howard is gone from the Lakers lineup. If they break through this year and win the title, I’ll privately do a celebratory jig. But publicly I’ll claim their success as a fluke and that my team was somehow cheated…ya know, because I’m a hardcore fan and stuff.