Friday, March 21, 2008

Monday, October 8, 2007

LBJ needs a 1SPG

Man I love acronyms, for the record that headline reads "LeBron James needs a 1st String Point Guard"....'cause right now he has a deer in the headlights, 'I'm open from 18 ft but scared to death to shoot' (makes quotation marks with fingers) point guard (/end air quotes). Eric Snow is not a starting point-guard. Hell he may not even be a basketball player, I'm sure he's a great diplomat, a solid locker room presence, a "glue guy". Spare me. Pardon my indifference here, but chop it up to selfishness.

A player like James comes along once every milennia, a rehash of his skills is far from necessary but the man is 6'8 250ish lbs and moves like a gazelle...you'll have to excuse me if, as a basketball enthusiast, it bothers me to watch his young formative years go to waste with a two-bit guard running the show. I realize Gibson has had his moments, and Larry Hughes has shown some promise as a quasi-answer to the PG dilemma in Ohio, but really...let's get 'Bron a POINT. Not a hybrid 2-guard trying to play the 1, not an undersized point-guard trying to play the two. Let's get him a Mike Bibby, an Andre Miller (who he used to HAVE! Come on Ferry!), really anyone will do. Our guard-to-be needs a few key features: Can shoot from deep, can handle the ball and can throw a lob.

Not too much to ask right?

After watching him run the break w/Jason Kidd this summer on Team USA I can only imagine what he's thinking right now, faced with the impending grind of an 82-game season...Damn, I'm going back to Larry Hughes, when's my contract up?

Are you a point-guard in the NBA with servicable skills? Are you looking to have the most productive year of your professional career? Do you want to ride the young, broad shoulders of the league's most multi-talented star all the way to the finals? Start dropping hints...casually explain to anyone who will listen how you've always wanted to see the Cuyahoga River...where's that at again? Start quizzing your teammates: Do THEY know where the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame is? Does architecture and height float your boat? The Terminal Tower was the tallest building in the United States...until 1976, where's that building located? That's right, CLEVELAND.

What I'm saying is, bitch and moan like a kid in a toy store, and hope your team drags you out of the building screaming and crying and then ships you off to Cleveland. Believe me, you'll thank me...so will LeBron James.

Friday, September 28, 2007

What if the Warriors don't make the playoffs this season?

The exciting thing is, this is actually a legitimate question now. If you had proposed this query to any basketball fan prior to last year's gutsy sprint to the postseason, you'd probably elicit a chuckle and some snarky remarks. It'd be like asking: "Hey, what if the sky is blue tomorrow?" Of course the Warriors are going to miss the playoffs, they've missed them for the past 12 seasons...you idiot, you buffoon, you sub-intelligent NBA enthusiast! Until the door closes on this season, the same can't be said of the 2007-08 Golden State Warriors. The bottom 3 spots in the West are as wide open as they've ever been, but a spot for the Dubs is still not guaranteed.

So what would happen if the Warriors failed to make the postseason this year?
- Aside from the possibility of rioting in Oakland, a suffocating veil of depression would nestle not so gently over the entire Bay Area. If you're a Bay Area dweller, or paid enough attention to ESPN and other media outlets during The Run, you would have seen the emotional high this city and its surroundings were on. Forget cloud nine, we were on the moon partying our asses off. Now take that energy and flip it to its polar opposite; mass suicides among Warrior faithful are not out of the question.
- Does Nellie come back? After adding another grueling 82-game trip onto his 67-year-old odometer AND failing to reap the rewards of a playoff run, I see the lure of Mai-Thai's and Hawaiian sands ultimately winning the war over X's and O's. (Realistically, if Nellie fails to get us back to the promised land, it's more likely that Cohan and crew will simply not exercise their team option after this year and effectively make the contract Nelson just signed a 1-year deal.)
- Does Baron Davis look for an extension elsewhere? It's hard to say what the cap situation will look like next off-season, but Baron wants big money and the Warriors will certainly be in position to give him a large sum. Does he take a pay cut to jump to a contender and vie for a ring? Or is he content to play out his years with a competitive team that considers consecutive trips to the Second Season a success?
- Does this team have the focus to fail and keep their head up? We're a young team and we're an emotional team. Those two bring feast or famine. The whole world watched our highs and lows last season in the playoffs. I was proud to be a Warriors fan during the Mavericks series; we showed no fear in dismantling a juggernaut. Against the Jazz? Not so much, they tested our mettle...found the chinks in our armor (Rebounding, shot selection, free-throws, interior post-defense, defense in general) and took the hammer (See: Boozer; Carlos) to them. This team was satisfied with the victory over the Mavericks, I'm still not convinced they were hungry enough to want to beat the Jazz too...that lack of focus that cost us the first two games (When Jackson missed a 3 at the buzzer for the win in game 1 and Baron/Pietrus blew free-throws down the stretch of game 2) could be attributed to a premature feeling of satisfaction.

'Hey we made it this far, we took out the #1 seed and our Coach's nemesis.' How do we bounce back from a big disappointment like missing the playoffs? Nellie will almost certainly not be back, will his apprentice - Keith Smart - have the moxie to get the troops' morale back where it belongs?

It's alright for bloggers, sportswriters and everyday casual fans to muse about the What If's and the How Comes, but these Warriors all should have one word and one word only in their mind each and every night: "Playoffs." Because...really any other result would be a huge step back, and for lack of a better word, disastrous.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Barry’s back…waaaay back, he’s to the fences, he’s…GONE! (And I’m not that upset about it).

I am a San Francisco Giants fan. Ever since I’ve followed baseball, and admittedly it hasn’t been for that long, I’ve rooted for what I consider to be my hometown team…and on occasion I’ve rooted for what I consider to be the “other” hometown team across the Bay (please relegate your bashing to the comments section below). And now, in the wee hours of the A.B. (After Barry) era, I don’t feel the remorse, disappointment and emptiness some of my fellow brethren are feeling, I feel…relieved. Gone is Barry’s contract, which was a tribute to albatrosses everywhere. Gone are the hushed whispers in the locker room. Our young players living in fear of disturbing the old Man, as he relaxes in his leather recliner in front of his three locker stalls…deciding what inning he may need to retire during tonight. Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News had an inside look at this transformation last night and seemed wholly positive about what he saw (free registration required).

Now, this club can embrace their youth, 18 out of the 35 players on the Giants active roster are in their 20’s. The Giants can start to build some fresh talent from the ground up, a move they were reluctant to make with Bonds on board. We can start to attack teams with our speed (See: Fred Lewis, Rajai Davis and Eugenio Velez) and our defense (See: Omar motherfuckin’ Vizquel!).

With Bonds' departure comes a clean slate. It’s like we just hit the ‘reset’ button on our franchise. Now it’s time to start from scratch, form a plan and execute it. This team will have some direction again. Barry spent 15 years with our club, and I’m grateful for the attention he brought, some good some bad, and the national exposure he gave us. But aside from our 2002 World Series stint we never found the right mix of talent to put around #25 to ensure we took full advantage of his partially-god-given talents. Now, Bruce Bochy and Peter McGowan can open up their collective minds and, not collective, pocketbook and find players to plug into a system they will design and build with their own hands.

This post is not intended to slight Barry Bonds as a person or to diminish what he has achieved as a San Francisco Giant. Few will replicate the kind of production he put up in this league. And even fewer will do it under the same intense public scrutiny Bonds navigated through. He was demonized, cherished, loved, hated, respected, denounced, attacked and acquitted. Through it all he continued to do what he did best, smack the hell out of the ball and put up runs for a team that continued to do what it did best; squander in the lowest ranks of the always wide-open NL West and occasionally flirt with the postseason.

The Giants were stuck in purgatory. We had a prime-time high-profile player earning prime-time high-profile bucks. And he deserved them, he produced eye-bulging numbers, won 7 MVP’s, even some gold gloves in his younger years, but we never had a ‘team’. The Giants were a one-trick pony and in the MLB of all leagues, that does not win games.

This is not to say we’ll suddenly transform into a powerful foe next season, but what would signing Bonds to another year have done for us anyway? We made a decision, management stuck by it, the employees are excited about it, and the future for Giants fans for once, actually looks bright. Deep breath…ahhhh, relief.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Ballad of Ron Mexico

Is it still racist to say Michael Vick is overrated? Back in 2001 when Mike "Ron Mexico" Vick was still a collegiate prodigy at VaTech, I stated that he would be a bust, but I was 16 and couldn't legally buy porn, so who cares what I said. With the prototypical scrambling quarterback finally spilling over from college to the NFL, the jury was still out on the success of these athletic (see: black) quarterbacks in the pro game. Hindsight being 20/20, we see now that the scrambling quarterback failed, while the "mobile" quarterback succeeded. My assessment of Vick at the time was that he was likely the most gifted quarterback to come into the league in years, maybe ever, considering his 4.3 speed and monster arm, but he would fall victim to the overall athleticism he would have to face in the NFL, coupled with his inconsistent throwing arm, being that he completed only 177 passes in college of 313 attempts. 6 years later, it would seem that my original assessment of Vick was correct, he is in fact a bust. Partially due to the inconsistent arm, and his propensity to run first pass second, but mainly due to dog murder.

Yes, the amusing stories of Michael Vick's adventures as his venereal disease toting alter ego Ron Mexico have fallen by the wayside for his more disturbing adventures involving dog rape. Once the face of the Atlanta Falcons franchise, Vick is now the face of, well, Dog Murder. But I pose this question. Is this not the best thing that could have happened to Michael Vick?. Vick had a career passer rating of somewhere in the 70's. The equation to come up with a quarterback passer rating is very complicated and involves many "numbers" as they say in the math world. This equation is heavy on quarterback success metrics, such as completions and touchdowns, and light on the effectiveness of corn-rows and Gatorade commercials, which some would say, is disproportionately weighted towards Vick's deficiencies. Nonetheless, Vick was headed downhill as opposing teams realized Vick is what some may call a "terrible quarterback", leading him to throw far more interceptions, and far less touchdowns, which was also detrimental to his quarterback rating.

Many speculate that Vick will not play in the NFL again, which doesn't necessarily mean he failed as a quarterback, he simply failed as a human. Sure, he had some rough seasons here and there, but so did Kyle Boller, and he turned out just fine. Vick's legacy will be seen as an immensely talented individual, who on the cusp of becoming a great quarterback, rewriting history books and renewing faith in the scrambling quarterback, was brought down by PETA and people who would rather have had Vick allow a beaten dog to suffer, rather than soak him in water and electrocute him. These are probably the same people who consider themselves proponents of Dr. Kevorkian; hypocrites. Yet I digress. Vick, in my humble, uninformed, uneducated opinion, would have continued his fall from athletic effectiveness, especially considering his new coach, Bobby Petrino, was dead set on allowing Vick to make more decisions on the field, and we all know how Vick fares with decision-making. Ultimately, Vick circumvented his impending downfall on the football field, by pleading guilty to Dog Killing; that my friends is what we call an excuse.

Somewhere, deep down in my heart of hearts, I will miss Mike Vick. I'll miss watching Falcons games with the loyal #7 jerseys, reading both "VICK" and "MEXICO". I'll miss watching Vick complete 45% of his passes; undaunted by his many ill-advised triple coverage induced interceptions. I'll miss watching good ole' MV give his own home crowd the finger, in defiance of their distaste for his supposed poor play. I'll miss Mike Vick, because he was in fact a very entertaining character to watch, but ultimately I can say in complete confidence, that he was a bust, and I was right.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Al Davis, I love what you're doing

Read the synopsis for this article:

While I was hoping the raiders would pick up Drew Bledsoe mid-season last year, Daunte Culpepper will do just fine. Looks like the raiders are setting up for another satisfyingly terrible season.

This is just one of many hilarious things happening with the raiders, including: Warren Sapp trying to lose weight, Robert Gallery starting at Left Guard and Art Shell returning in 2006 as head coach after being fired in 1994, only to be fired again at the end of his first regular season. I’m loving life as an avid Raider-Nation hater, Niner fan and most importantly, a hater of Al Davis and his 'love of the long ball' (see: picking JaMarcus Russell over Calvin Johnson) in general. This actually makes a nice segway into a discussion about Al Davis’ mission to single-handedly destroy the ‘most winningest team in the NFL.’

I recently found out Davis is a huge fan of Japanese culture, the way of the samurai and oriental teachings*. Sounds strange, but in a roundabout way it explains his uncanny ability to make a bad team worse. It’s INTENTIONAL.

Davis is all too keen to the fact that he doesn’t have much time left. Everyone knows that if you were to cut Davis in half horizontally and count the rings you’d see that he was already older than most at the Dawn of Man. He has seen kingdoms come and go, famines and plagues decimate his family and friends, and the Great Depression all but nullify his stocks in copper.

All this has lead to Davis’ brain being left in a ‘questionable’ state. Davis is now convinced that being an NFL GM is the same as being the Pope, a Supreme Court justice or third-strike offender in California state prison: It’s For Life.

Davis is also convinced that the NFL works much like the days of feudal Japan. Once an emperor was replaced, his entire family would be disposed of, so the Earth could be cleansed of their shamed and terrible seed*. So, naturally, Davis is worried for his loved ones, the same loved ones that tend his withered body as he sits in his giant throne made of a hollowed out redwood tree in his home in Walnut Creek, CA.

Davis has only one solution. Kill the team he once loved. Davis is doing everything in his power to stop the raiders from winning, and it’s working. Davis is trying to make the raiders so incredibly bad that the only fans that show up are the nutjob raider nation fans. There is a good chance they’ll end up killing a player—probably Damon Huard—and forcing the NFL to disband the raiders and remove them from football history, thus saving the Davis family line from the imaginary assassins that keep Davis tossing and turning all night in his Hyperbaric oxygen chamber.

If the team is gone, Davis can’t be replaced, and his family lives on!

Bravo Davis, with your grip on reality slipping all I can do is watch the raiders go the way of the XFL and replace the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers as not only the worst team in the NFL ever, but the worst team in all of professional sports ever. Join me?

*May not be true, refer to wikipedia for actual facts

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Looking ahead to my favorite time of the year

They rose from dirt. The 2006-2007 Golden State Warriors kicked the door in and emerged from the depths of the NBA’s basement and stepped right into the limelight. Well, the February 2006-2007 Golden State Warriors did. The original squad that started the ’06-’07 campaign would have been better left in the dungeon. Few people could stand to watch the uninspired and Charmin-soft play of Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy. But with the exile of those two Mully-mistakes and the acquisition of Stephen Jackson Al Harrington and that other guy, Don Nelson had the right ingredients for his fucked-up recipe. The one that calls for throwing a 6’9 Small Forward at a 7’6 Chinese Center, or siccing a 6’8 Shooting Guard on a 7’ German Power Forward…and adding double and triple teams to taste.
It was that kooky captain, along with some inspired play from Tim Hardaway 2.0 (Sans the bigotry) and Co. that led this team back to the Promised Land. And after toppling the #1 seeded team in the league, a team many thought would steamroll their way to the title, they fell short in the Western Conference Semi-Finals against the bruising Jazz frontline.
But prior to their unceremonious exit the Bay Area had golden fever, celebrities popped up at games, the airwaves buzzed with Warriors news. For the first time in 12 years the Warriors were still relevant in the months of April and May. The fans responded to the playoff push, the season tickets for the lower bowl of the Oracle Arena were completely sold out before the end of the Warriors’ run last season.
What’s in store for our beloved Dubs now? Will they make the playoffs this coming season?
Let’s find out by looking at the other teams in the Western Conference and what they have done this offseason:

Dallas Mavericks: The Warriors showed last season that they are a match-up killer for this team. Their season-series sweep was no fluke, and we all saw what happened in the playoffs. To shore up their defensive weaknesses the Mavs went out and signed…Eddie Jones? He doesn’t seem like the answer to all their problems but he did come on the cheap. Other than Jones Cuban extended Jose Juan Barrea, who would absolutely KILL it if the NBA were a 6 ft and under league, and also brought back Jerry Stackhouse and Devean George. Stack’s an assassin, and even at his age and with those knees I like bringing him back as an offensive weapon off the bench. George is an 8-year NBA veteran, has three championship rings and still manages to look lost to me out on the court.

Phoenix Suns: Following in the trend of other over-the-(no pun intended here)hill All-Stars who jump on championship contenders searching for the chip that has eluded them throughout their careers, ladies and gentleman…introducing the newest injury-prone member of the Phoenix Suns, GRANT HILL! Yes he came for dirt cheap, but I don’t see GH being a key-piece to a championship run for Phoenix. The guy doesn’t have ankles and is 30+, those two factors do not sound conducive to running your ass off in a system that encourages you to run your ass off. They also traded away Kurt Thomas for…absolutely nothing. If you’re trying to win a championship, why do you give up the only player on your team (you could argue in the whole conference) who can effectively guard Tim Duncan? That’s ignoring the fact that Thomas can drill 15-footers all day and is a terrific pick and roll partner for Nashty Nash. Steve Kerr has his work cut out for him down in the desert…

San Antonio: This organization might as well stand pat and just ride this unit until the wheels come off, because I see them using the same regular season strategy for years to come (plod along winning but not dominating until March when Pop kicks them into 5th gear and they peak as a cohesive unit on their way into the playoffs). That’s pretty much what they did this summer. Their only notable moves were to re-sign Fabricio Oberto (wildly underrated as a player in that system), Jacque Vaughn and Matt Bonner. The Oberto signing was smart and just, he earned his dollars banging down low throughout the postseason and doing the dirty stuff Duncan doesn’t always do…diving for loose balls, making a hard foul, etc. Bonner and Vaughn? Not so much. And giving away Jackie Butler to their neighbors wasn’t the greatest idea…

Houston Rockets: Remember when the Spurs got Butler from the Knicks, and everyone screamed bloody murder? It was an unfair move people said, Isiah Thomas had been fleeced again by another GM smarter than him (see: every GM in the NBA not running the Knicks). Butler was supposed to be a beast for the Spurs, a backup for Duncan that would provide solid defense and offense, only he never cracked the lineup…actually I’m not positive they ever issued him a uniform, Butler was normally found perusing the cheerleaders during timeouts in a dapper suit and tie. Well in Butler the Rockets may have found the quality backup for Yao Ming they have desperately needed, because Dikembe Mutumbo isn’t getting any younger (some would argue he’s not aging either, but merely trapped in time at an indiscernible age, I digress). After a lackluster draft in which Daryl Morey’s only notable selection was Aaron Brooks (tiny-stature/big-heart), he bounced back nicely with some key additions through trade and free agency. Signed Steve Francis: low risk high reward, he’s either their third scoring option or the same guard who couldn't even get minutes on the Knicks. Traded Juwan Howard for Mike James, which brings a solid starting point-guard back to Houston and a guy who had his best years playing in the lone star state, and sends a washed-up power forward with not much left in the tank to Minnesota (Remember, McHale's stock-piling assets for his next big trade...wait, what?). And to fill the terrible void left in Howard’s wake, they got Luis Scola’s rights from the Spurs, the man is a Euro-league stud who’s done nothing but win overseas and average a solid 14 and 7 for his career. This team looks stacked on paper, and set for a deep run.

Utah Jazz: The Jazz agreed to terms and let Fisher out of his contract, an unprecedented move in the NBA. Karma points for letting your veteran point guard leave under the circumstances, but uh, you usually don’t let your starting point guard leave under any circumstances, right? Wrong (Baby head cancer was good enough for the Jazz). The Jazz shored up Fish’s absence with Jason Hart and Ronnie Price. Right...that'll do.

Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets needed a scorer, someone to go to and get a bucket when their offense got stagnant, that’s why they went out and got a notorious chucker, a deep-ball threat, a clutch shooter who demands the ball in the clutch. That's right, I'm talking about Chucky Atkins…wait, what? They already have Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony? You’re serious? In a related story, the Nuggets will be playing 15 minute quarters next season to allow for enough ill-advised shots to be hoisted by Melo, AI and Chucky. We wouldn’t anyone’s feathers to get ruffled, now would we?

LA Lakers: Kobe Bryant is thrilled with the state of his team right now; Kobe Bryant has no further comments.

LA Clippers: As I stated earlier on this blog, it doesn’t really matter what the Clippers did this off-season, because their season was officially over when Elton felt a pop in his left knee a few weeks ago. Get to the tapes Elgin Baylor, and find a lottery prospect you like for the 2008 draft, you’ll have a crack at the best of them I’m sure.

New Orleans Hornets: The Hornets could be a very dangerous team if they’re all together and healthy. Now that Peja Stojakovic’s rear side has been sewn back together he can get back to doing what he does best, stroking threes with an awkward release and watching whoever he is defending blow past him. Really this team is all about Chris Paul, if he has himself a monster season he may just lead them into the playoffs. Signing Mo Peterson won’t hurt, he’ll be a more efficient and capable scorer than Desmond Mason was, but I’m not sure he’ll be as good of a defender. Look for Bobby Jackson to tear some muscle you didn't know existed somewhere in February, and the Hornets to be out of contention for a playoff spot by March...when Peja's back splits at the seams while he attempts a jumper.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Al Jefferon’s going to put up big numbers in a few years, but for now…welcome to the Western conference Big Al, now meet Tim Duncan, Carlos Boozer, Pau Gasol, Amare Stoudamire and Brandan Wright (Warriors fan, remember?).

Sacramento Kings: Petrie’s in a terrible situation in Sacramento. Rumors have it that the Maloofs are playing too large a part in the General Manager world. Leading to Petrie signing people like Miki Moore and drafting big, slow, white centers like Spencer Hawes to team with big, slow, white injury-prone centers like Brad Miller. Maloofs should stick to things they know, like blowing lines off $5,000/hour escort ass and running hotels. I'd say sometime this season we will see Mike Bibby get moved, and it’ll be for pennies on the dollar, and it will be to Cleveland.

Portland Trailblazers: This team is headed in the right direction, but I don’t think they make the playoffs next year. Too many growing pains for Greg Oden, the transition from playing against 19-year-old boys to Shaquille O’Neal must suck.

Seattle Supersonics: Kevin Durant is going to be a perennial all-star for years to come. Next year won’t be one of those years. Welcome to your 2007-2008 Rookie of the Year: 20.3 ppg, 5 rpg, 3 apg, .7 spg, 1 bpg, 42% from the field 33% from downtown. Mark it down.

Memphis Grizzlies: Grabbing Mike Conley Jr. was a great move. Their staff can’t stop gushing about him, apparently once he actually develops a jump shot he’s going to be unstoppable baby! Don’t sweat the details Memphis, worry about trying to appease your superstar, Pau Gasol. Picking up his long-time friend (aka BFF) Juan Carlos Navarro for some draft picks was a good start, plus Navarro actually can play a little bit. Playoffs however, I do not see in your immediate future.

If you got through all that congratulations, you earned a peak at my top-8 in the Western Conference when the dust settles at the end of next season. In order from top to bottom:

1. Dallas Mavericks
2. Phoenix Suns
3. San Antonio Spurs
4. Houston Rockets
5. Utah Jazz
6. Golden State Warriors
7. Denver Nuggets
8. Los Angeles Lakers

Unfortunately, if this is the case I see a first-round exit for our Warriors. The Spurs are to Golden State as Golden State is to Dallas. A match-up fiasco, as in we can't guard anyone on their team...

Ah well, there's always next year.