Saturday, July 6, 2013
The gathering of stars has worked in Miami for one reason, Lebron is the best player on the planet. He can isolate all he wants, he can also distribute for those open jumpers when teams collapse on him. One, I don't know that Howard's game provides anywhere close to that with his low post game, and two, I ain't sure about his kick-out ability. Once again, his strength is his size, much like Shaq. But Shaq had Kobe. That ain't Dirk's game. I want a big man that compliments Dirk, not one that wants to be the core. And yeah, Dirk ain't gonna be forever...
But I don't want to put all my eggs in the future Dwight basket. He's a flake. We've all seen the last couple years. Running Van Gundy outta town and brazenly mocking it at SVG's press conference. The odd opting back in with Orlando after basically saying goodbye. The guy who couldn't handle Kobe and his desire to win. He only got comfortable when Kobe got injured, giving us that silly pep talk from the movie 300. I dunno, seemed really stupid to me. I guess I see a line between being loose and free, and being silly. I want my superstar to want to carry the team at that moment. After Kobe went down, that's when he shoulda demanded the ball and been a force. Instead it was a forgone conclusion. Whereas, Durant went balls out when Westbrook went down. That dude wants it. Not just living a comfortable, rich, celebrity life but also wanting to win. Some people just ain't got that gene.
I've seen and heard a shitload about the Mavs "losing" in their pursuit of Howard. He just didn't choose here, it wasn't for a lack of effort. They didn't lowball him. Hell, for all we know this was decided long ago between Howard and Harden. We've all heard how confident Houston was the entire time. Would it shock you to think Howard just enjoyed the attention while already knowing where he'd end up? And on the flip side, I don't begrudge him for listening to others. Hell, something mighta persuaded him. I seriously doubt the Mavs did anything wrong.
The one complaint that can be made towards the Mavs is how they've constructed their roster to deal with attracting big names to come here. i.e. Should they have kept Chandler, not so much to keep the band together, but as an asset for trades and such? I don't know enough about the CBA to figure that shit out. Chandler is still owed another $28 million for the next 2 years, which would seemingly be what the Mavs would have had to pay to keep him. Lets be clear, we weren't winning it bringing everyone back. So, it comes down to the assets portion.
Well, we ain't got the assets because we put together an older team that gelled perfectly. We weren't developing younger players, because we had a group of veterans determined to win the title. Who doesn't make that trade every time? The Mavs have the 2nd highest winning percentage of the 21st century, behind only the Spurs. And now it's time to pay, but they're still trying to put something together for the Dirk twilight. It's not for lack of effort. Deron took more money, and Howard chose the team with the younger star. That's it. Hell, I bet OKC woulda loved to get Dirk when they decided to get rid of Harden. Anyone wanna get rid of Dirk?
Now lets see what kinda roster they can construct. Step 1 was signing point guard Jose Calderon. Always been a fan of this guy. An unselfish player always amongst the leaders in assist-turnover ratio. He's a dead-eye shooter that led the league in 3 point percentage last year. Twice he's just barely, and I mean barely, missed becoming a member of the 50-40-90 club(50%FG-40%3FG-90%FT). Six guys have done it in NBA history- Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash, Kevin Durant, and the great Dirk. One time he didn't have enough FT attempts, and another year he finished with a .497 FG%(the club doesn't round up)...One year he shot 98% from the free throw line(I could take a cheap shot at Howard here...I guess I did). I can't wait to see the pick-and-roll game with Dirk. Deadly.
Now we need to get that aforementioned guy in the middle to deter driving opponents, and provide a low post game to compliment Dirk and Calderon's outside one. I think it's basically down to 2 guys, barring any unforeseen trades(which shouldn't be discounted). That would be Nikola Pekovic and Andrew Bynum. My preference would be Pek. 27 years old, 6'11", and a bull. Last year went 16 and 9, shooting 52% from the field. He's restricted, and I don't know if Minnesota has a ceiling on what they would match. I think I'd be cool with 4/48...I actually wished death on Bynum after his cheap, pussy-ass foul on Barea during the Mother's Day Massacre. I still don't like him, but if healthy, he's a great talent. Still just 25, his last year in the league he went for 19 and 12, 56%FG. He's gotta lot of that Howard flakiness, too. Very risky long-term investment because of those knees. If you can get him on 1-2 year make-good deal, all the better. If it takes 3-4, shit I dunno. Lets get Pek.
Obviously, this doesn't complete a roster. I haven't thought enough on how that will shake out, still so much time. Vince, Crowder, and Larkin are likely on the bench. I hope we can retain Wright. I love Trix, but he may become a valuable trade asset. Like I said, I dunno enough about the CBA and whatnot, but if they get Pek and can work in Monta Ellis, I wouldn't be mad. Ellis on his own would be disappointing, but with Dirk, Pek, and Calderon........Oh shit, that defense would suck. Fuck it, I'm still excited....2011 forever, mofos.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
They were a middle of the road team, without an obnoxious fan base. A former ABA team that had never done shit in the NBA, there was nothing to boast about. The great George "Iceman" Gervin was on his last legs, but it was really cool to watch him play. He still put in 21 PPG that last season in SA, but the recently deceased Mike Mitchell led the team with 22 PPG. Man, I loved Mitchell. The point guard was UT's own Johnny Moore. He was a real solid dude, averaged a double/double and real easy to root for. He came down with a life-threatening case of meningitis, it was some scary shit in the local news back then. He made it, and is currently coaching Corpus Christi in something called the American Basketball League. The center was the great Artis Gilmore, talk about a cool motherfucker. 7'2" with an afro that averaged 19 and 10, shooting 62% from the field...Looking back it's surprising they weren't better.
The real joy was going to those games at the Hemisphere Arena, on the Riverwalk, and watching the big names come to town. Such great memories, saw Magic and Larry and Jordan. Malone and Barkley and Kareem, etc...Get there early, watch shootaround, and get autographs. And root for the Spurs against them. The nite I saw Jordan, Spurs put up something like a 28 point halftime lead on them. Jordan led a crazy 2nd half comeback to win the game for the Bulls. At one point he got a wide open steal and did the 'rock-a-bye-baby' dunk. Place went nuts and I'll always remember the cat in front of me jumping in the aisle, yelling "That's what I came to see". Yeah, same here...First playoff game in person was there vs. the Nuggets. It was during Fiesta, huge party, great times. And I'll be damned, I really liked those teams.
With that being said, I will take no joy in watching them raise the trophy if they beat the Heat. I'm a firmly entrenched MFMFFL(Motherfuckin' Mavs Fan For Life), have been for a quarter century. The Spurs, and their fans, are the enemy. Duncan and Parker annoy me to no end. I take Joey Crawford's side vs. Timmy. The Mavs' Game 7 win in '06 is one of my favorite sports' moments. Bruce Bowen sucks. Finley in black and silver was disgusting. I like Pop, but who doesn't?
But motherfuck, I'll be rooting for them against the Heat. Floppin' mofos are bad for basketball. Having a 'bad guy' to root against is good for sports. I embrace it, but fuck this floppin' shit. Really Lebron, you're a top 5 talent all-time in this league, be a fuckin' man. You're a fuckin' bull, stop acting like a gnat....Wade, ha, no point in asking you to man up. Bitch. Bosh has turned into a joke with his screaming. Weirdo. Chalmers reminds me of Nick Cannon, but that's an insult to Nick. Birdman, you showed your colors with that shit on Hansbrough. Really dude? Used to be okay with Udonis because of the UF connection, but his shit on Hansbrough last year was even more pussy than Birdman. Fuck, I hate this team...
So I'ma just pretend it's the Iceman, Mitchell, Moore, and the A-Train...Go Spurs, fuck the fuckin' Heat.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
I don't want Shabazz, never saw one impressive game from him last year. Lotta high school hype...Larkin's big strength is supposedly the pick n roll, which is always intriguing when you have Dirk. But he's only 5'11" and I don't think big combine stats justify a lottery selection. The name helps too- he was a good, competitive player for the Hurricanes, but no thanks...Franklin is interesting, led his team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals last year. But his shooting percentage leaves a lot to be desired, especially from 3 point range. Caldwell-Pope is a similar player to Franklin, roughly the same 6'5" frame that can score and rebound. Caldwell-Pope has better range and would be my choice between the two.
The really intriguing guy here is Michael Carter-Williams. I dunno if it's the similar names or the similar builds, but he makes me think of one of the NBA's most talented, wasted careers- Michael Ray Richardson. Carter-Williams isn't as flashy, and at this point, not as talented. But then again, neither was Richardson at this stage in his development. He was coming off his sophomore campaign at the University of Montana, the only school to recruit him. His coach, the great Jud Heathcote, was leaving to take the same position at Michigan St. and coach Magic Johnson.
Richardson, a shy, country kid at the time, considered Heathcote his father figure. But he stayed, grew into his talent, and after his senior season became a first round pick of the Knicks. He struggled a bit his rookie season, but in year two led the league in assists and steals while also putting in 15 points and nearly 7 rebounds a game. He also discovered the New York nightlife and all that comes with that. Studio 54 and the heyday of cocaine. After four seasons and three all-star appearances he was shipped off to Golden State for the great Bernard King. The drugs and erratic behavior were just too much for the Knicks.
His Golden State career only lasted 33 games, as he found the same troubles in the San Francisco night scene. He was shipped to the New Jersey Nets. Around this same time is when David Stern instituted the three-strike drug policy in the NBA. Richardson was constantly having one month stays in drug rehabs. Checking himself in and out, Larry Brown even took him in once. The talent was still there, in the '84-'85 season he put up 20 PPG, 8 APG, 5 RPG, and 3 SPG, playing in all 82 games. He was once again an All-Star but it all came crumbling down the next year. Strike three came, and Stern banned him for life...Richardson eventually got clean and played into his forties in Europe, but we'll never know just how great he coulda been. Hall of Fame talent, Magic said they had the same game. Isaiah said he was the only guy that scared him on the court.
I don't know if Michael Carter-Williams will ever develop into a Richardson-type on the court, but the numbers and size are strikingly similar. Part of Richardson's greatness was his confidence, considered a league leader in trash talking. Not sure Carter-Williams has that vibe, seems like a real nice kid. Which isn't a bad thing at all, it's just an asset that is almost needed at the elite level. These guys have to know they can't be stopped.
Actually I'm kinda surprised by the mocks that have Carter-Williams lasting 'til the Mavs pick. I think he'll go before then, and this comparison will quickly become moot(at least from a Mavs' perspective). But if he does last, he's the guy I'd go for.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Hot Fun in the Summertime by Sly and the Family Stone: This is the ultimate summer tune, hell it's in the lyrics. Jerry Martini and Cynthia Robinson provide a chill horn section, and Sly brings the laid-back vocals. Sly throws a little jab at Motown, at the time Motown was trying to keep up with the times and started making some music with the more psychadelic touches that Sly was already incorporating. One of those was Cloud Nine by the Temptations. So if you ever wondered what the hell the lyric, "I cloud nine when I want to" means, it's Sly's friendly little poke.
I Saw the Light by Todd Rundgren: Not to be confused with the Hank Williams Sr. song with the same title, this song is just super chill. It's the perfect road trip, windows and/or top down, cruising tune. Rundgren, an under-recognized musical genius wrote, produced, played every instrument, and provided all the vocals on this, along with every other song on his great album Something/Anything?. He's an interesting cat- he kinda had a feud with John Lennon, was reportedly part of a coin flip on who to kill between the two for assassin Mark David Chapman, and the actress Liv Tyler spent most of her childhood believing he was her father. Him and Steven Tyler both had relationships with Playboy Playmate Bebe Buell around the time of her birth.
The 'In' Crowd by Ramsey Lewis: This was originally a song with lyrics performed by Dobie Gray. One nite a waitress asked the jazz-pianist Ramsey to play a version of it. So he did, and this instrumental take on the song became a hit. This is perfect for chilling in the backyard at nite, and drinking a cold one.
Blue Sky by The Allman Bros: The great Dickey Betts wrote this for his Native-American girlfriend Sandy "Bluesky" Wabegijig. It's just a beautiful song with Betts and the late, great Duane Allman playing dual lead guitars. Dickey also sings the lead vocals usually reserved for Gregg Allman. The three minutes or so guitar bridge just weaves its way perfectly for some backyard times.
Blue Bayou by Linda Ronstadt: The greatest female vocalist of all time gives her take on this Roy Orbison song. Listen on a beach, on a patio, sweating or with a fan cooling you. Right when you hear that opening bass line it's relax time. She just has the purest, most perfect tone to her voice and Don Henley provides nice backing vocals.
It's All Right by Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions: Much like Rundgren, I feel Mayfield is an under-appreciated genius. He wrote civil rights and feel-good songs with the Impressions, and then in his solo career put out some of the sweetest soul and funkiest tunes. And most all of it with a message. He was a brilliant composer, multi-instrumentalist, and sweet singer. This particular song just puts you in a good place, it's great for any time of day when you just wanna "listen to the beat, kinda pat your feet...'cause you got soul, and everybody knows that it's all right".
Start out with those, there's multitudes more. Of course the Beach Boys are perfect for the season, really any album. Put in Stevie Wonder's under-the-radar classic album Music of My Mind, catch some rays, and let Steve paint a picture for you. Neil Young's Harvest or After the Goldrush chillin' on a hot summer nite. The Shangra-Las, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, or the Chiffons for some classic girl-group harmonies and relaxation. And when you have some laid-back company over, you can't go wrong with a huge jazz playlist filled with Coltrane, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz, Jimmy 'Pork Chop' Smith etc. The girls just kinda flow along in those summer dresses to the vibe, sippin' on Chardonnay...
Friday, May 10, 2013
Mike Schmidt- The greatest third baseman of all time. When I was about 10-11 years old I took to sending baseball cards out to players at the their stadium's address. Real simple shit, just a short note with the card and a self addressed stamped returned envelope. I got tons of replies, and a lot of stuff never returned. The replies usually came back within a month, so after about 4 months of no answer I figured no luck with Schmidt. I mean, hell, he's a 3 time MVP, he probably gets way too much crap. But then one day I get home and there it is, an envelope from Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. Open it up, and there's my autographed Mike Schmidt card. But I'll be damned, there's more- this guy added a personal letter. And the shit was detailed- "Dear Mike,..thanks for taking an interest in the Phillies...I was happy to sign what you sent....Sorry I wasn't prompt as I like to read each letter personally..." and so on. And it too was signed, not facsimile or stamped, but the real ink deal. A quarter century later that letter is sitting framed on my office desk.
Charles Barkley- I lived in Montgomery, Alabama for one year as a little kid. Barkley was at Auburn then, and I went to a few games and saved the programs. A few years later, he's in the NBA and I'm living in San Antonio, so I go check out a Sixers-Spurs game with my Auburn program in hand. Get there early and approach Sir Charles for an autograph while he's taking pre-game shots. He starts acting all impressed that I got an Auburn program with him on the cover. Next thing I know he's going to spots on the court- at the elbow, the low post, behind the arc- and passing the ball to me for me to set him up. That was the shit for a little kid, I'll always love Chuck.
Bob Feller- Yeah, pretty crazy- a HOFer from the 30s and 40s. There was this little sports card shop I used to go to in San Antonio, and one day the owner tells me he's gonna have Feller in the store in a couple weeks signing autographs. He tells me to come over before they open, so I can talk to Feller. So I did, and sure enough it's just me and the owner and fuckin' Bob Feller shootin' the shit about old time baseball for about an hour. There was a donut shop next door, I got Rapid Robert some coffee. Still have that autographed baseball on my book shelf.
Chet Lemon- Lemon was a hard-nosed cat that was usually in the league leaders in hit-by-pitch and running into the wall. He was usually good for 20 homers and an .800 or so OPS. Not a star, but a really solid player. One year my dad took me to Spring Training down in Florida, and we made the rounds. So I'm at a Detroit game and here comes Lemon towards the dugout. Lots of calls of "Hey Lemon" or "Hey Chet". By then I'd learned that using "Mr." really helped. Sure enough he's ignoring everyone, but hears "Mr. Lemon" and looks at me and says, "I gotta go shag some flies, I'll get you when I'm done". So I wait, and when he's finished he runs back into the dugout, seemingly ignoring me. But a few seconds later, he pops out with a baseball. A fuckin' real major league baseball, and signs it for me. Then he goes back in the dugout without signing for anybody else. Me and Chet, lifetime bros. It's sitting on my bookshelf.
Al Oliver- My favorite athlete of all time, probably my favorite human being of all time. I've completely frozen around someone twice in my life. One of those times was in Denton. There was this girl named Paige that I just was lightning-struck by. You know the scene in the Godfather when Michael sees Apollonia? That was me with Paige. One nite I'm at an outdoor party out in the country, one of those 'Dazed and Confused' type parties. I'm refilling at a keg, by myself, and here comes Paige batting those doe eyes with her bee-stung lips. She says, "Hi", and I say nothing. I just grab her cup and refill it. She says, "Thanks, see you later?". I say nothing. Fuck me...I met Al Oliver before a Braves-Expos game one day, and did the same thing for much different reasons. Man, I just couldn't speak around Scoop. The best...Paige and AO, my silencers.
Man, there's so many more...Dominique Wilkins is the nicest superstar, Stan Musial-I met Stan the Man, Ruben Sierra signing a foul ball I caught off the bat of Jose Canseco...I met the Mick, the Mantle autographed ball is probably up there with the aforementioned...and so on and so on... It's kinda fun being a kid.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Anyways, my modern-day KJ is Joakim Noah. Holy shit, I love watching this guy play. The 2 national titles at Florida were just a primer for how much I'd like this guy. I remember after one title, when they went to the White House, Noah showed up wearing a dashiki and sandals...Fuck stupid protocol. Now in the NBA he's just a fuckin' warrior on the court. Dirk tweeted last nite that he was a beast. I once worked a Mavs-Bulls game doing some audio/video for FSSW. Anyways, there was like 4 hours down time between setup and game time, so I sat in the arena and watched the Bulls early shootaround. An assistant had Noah running sprints and he seemed to be doing them at the slowest, laziest pace possible. He was crackin' me up, bitchin' about the tedious task. Come game time, dude had more energy than anyone. Must be those tennis bloodlines.
Last nite he went for 24 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 blocks in the Game 7 victory over the Nets. The entire second half I just isolated on him. The help defense, switching, boxing out, offensive cuts, etc. were just a joy to watch. Try it out in this Heat series, it's something. LeBron is probably gonna play the role of Jordan and end Joakim's run, but Noah gonna bring it...