Friday, February 29, 2008

Pre-Gaming Knicks vs. Hawks

7:30 PM @ Atlanta

'08 Knicks + '08 Hawks + Philips Arena = One of the Ten Worst Games of NBA calendar not involving the Memphis Grizzlies of the Seattle Supersonics.

Reasons to watch this game:
1. Al Horford. The under-the-radar Rookie of the Year candidate is averaging 20 and 10 so far this season. He's the real deal and he should have a nice matchup with David Lee, who knows him from Florida.

2. David Lee. He was a monster against Charlotte. He was all over the floor, grabbing rebound and starting breaks with aggressive, lightening-quick outlet passes.

2. Playoff Implications. Seriously. This game (and the next few games between these two teams) affects the playoff race in the East. The Hawks are currently in ninth place and within striking distance of the 6,7 and 8 seeds. And the Knicks are only seven games (in the loss column) out of the eight spot.

3. Someone has to win. Points have to be scored. Excitement may, therefore, ensue.

4. Mike Bibby. Remember when he was like Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker put together during the 2001-2002 season when he led Kings to Western Conference FInals? Well, that guy is playing for the Hawks now and this will be his second game with them. And, he's from Cherry Hill, NJ.

5. Eddy Curry. Just kidding.

6. It's the long-awaited and annually contested rematch of the 1971 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals:

Around the Internets

Greg Oden endorses Obama. And Wilbon approves that message. Gosh, he sort of sounds like a certain person who wrote certain similar things on a certain website...

In far more acrimonious news, someone over at ESPN.com has detailed the ways in which the AFC EAST is the greatest soap opera in sports.

Stalkers of the world listen up: the best place to track down the famous basketballer that you know would like you if you just got some face time is The Cheesecake Factory. Seriously.

Lastly, Stephon Marbury is better than Kobe Bryant. Or, rather some Design Magazine thinks Marbury's cheap shoes are better than Kobe's expensive shoes. (You've got to scroll down a bit to find the shoe comparison).

Lupicas, Thomsens and Bermans: Oh My!


What the Pros are Writing about the Knicks Today
In today's Post, Marc Berman reports that Marbury has officially been banned from attending Knicks games. Apparently (and allegedly) Isiah has asked his former best pal to steer clear of the Garden and the team for the duration of the season. This would explain why Marbury hasn't been at any games lately.
And, again, it shows that Isiah will really throw anyone he can lift underneath the nearest bus. It has not gone unnoticed that Steph has not been on the bench, And, of course, everyone assumes that he is choosing to stay away from the team and that, essentially, he is a jerk who doesn't care about the team or his teammates. And, Isiah hears people say these things and doesn't make a peep. Because it's exactly what he wants. Steph can be the bad guy even though Isiah is the reason he is not on the sideline wearing silly suits.

Friday's Starting Six

Leap Year Day Edition

1. Tim Duncan. The Big Bore did it again last night. He hit for 31 points and snagged 15 rebounds against the Mavs. And, like clockwork, he got himself to the charity stripe with the game tied and 34 ticks left on the clock. He drained both shots. Spurs win.

2. Devin Harris. In the hours before Kidd was benched in crunch-time, Devin Harris was the shiniest thing in the swamp last night. He hit his first six shots after coming on as a substitute late in the first quarter. At that point the Nets and Bucks were level at 22. Harris netted 16 by halftime and had the Nets up 50-35 before he would take a breather. By the final whistle he had guided the Nets to a victory and scored 21.

3. Luke Harangody. I’ve talked about Michael Beasley and Chris Lofton and that Rose kid at Memphis and a few other student athletes, I mean college-aged basketball players, yet I’ve neglected the goofy looking center for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He’s apparently pretty darn good. He put up 40 points and tore down 13 rebounds last night in an Irish loss to Louisville. It was his 17th double-double of the season. And, to top it off, as the game was getting away from ND he stepped beyond the arc and canned the first three 3-pointers of his career just to keep it close. I’m impressed.

4. Bobby Knight. The famed hoops coach and the scourge of all courtside furnishings has signed on with the Worldwide Leader to be a part of their NCAA tournament coverage next month. So, I guess he’s not alighting on Bloomington just yet to save his tarnished program. Either way, I think Knight will do well on television. I was watching Blue Chips two nights ago and I was pretty impressed with his acting chops during the climatic game between Western and Indiana. Of course, it’s entirely possible that he thought that was a real game and that the cameras belonged to CBS.

5. Sam Cassell. The fugliest point guard of his generation has been waived by the Los Angeles Clippers. Provided he passes through the waiver process, which he likely will because any team that picks him up would have to take on his 6.1 million dollar contract, he is then free to sign with the Celtics. Personally, I’d like to see the Knicks sign him off waivers just to screw with him and the Celtics. What’s another couple of million to Dolan?

6. NFL Free Agency. It’s on. Like popcorn. Word is that the Jets have traded a 3rd and a 5th round draft pick to the Panthers for Pro-Bowl DT Kris Jenkins. He is a house. Meanwhile, Derek Anderson rejected the Browns offer of ten guaranteed million dollars to test the free-agent water. Other pro-bowlers swimming in those waters are Asante Samuel, who may be headed to Philly, and Alan Faneca, who has also been connected with the Jets. Elsewhere, the Saints are after J. Vilma and the Titans and Vikes are hot for Bernard Berrian. Because if Tavaris Jackson just had a few more weapons…

Benched. Jason Kidd. He was literally benched during the final moments of last night’s game against the Spurs. Which totally makes sense. Right? Avery Johnson’s rationale was that Kidd is not a shooter and wouldn’t help spread the defense. Yeah, that works. Nothing like going out and getting one of the league’s most coveted playmakers only to bench him down the stretch of a tight game against your fiercest rival when you really, really need someone to make a play. Predictably, the Mavs squandered their last possession and lost the game. Well played.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Around the Internets

Politics Edition
In a move smacking of honesty, enthusiasm and an engagement (rather than disdain) for the world around him, Greg Oden went out of his way to let people know he is supporting Barack Obama's bid for the presidency. Oden wrote about a phone call with Senator Obama and he comes off like an innocent and eminently likable kid:

"This will be my first presidential election to participate in as a voter and I hope that you younger voters will get involved. I think that our votes can really influence the outcome so go out, register and vote for who you think is the best candidate to be the best leader for this country and make sure you and your family will feel good about the new president that is elected in November." -Greg Oden
I'm totally thrilled to see a rich, ambitious young athlete reveling in his selfhood rather than going the soul-less Jordan and Tiger rout of trying to be all things to all people. And, he's still getting some endorsements to boot. With guys like Oden and Gil Arenas really being themselves perhaps we could be returning to a time when ballplayers where known for their personalities and not just their sponsor.

Once professional athletes were at the forefront of American social and civic life. Those who were so inclined used their status as a pulpit for progress and change. That was a good thing. People listen to their heroes. Just look at the sneakers you're wearing. Now, I'm not saying that we need a league full of outspoken Jim Brown clones but I'd rather run that risk then end up with a bunch of corporate shills who are afraid to speak their mind.

Meanwhile, elsewhere people are just trying to figure out who really is my new bicycle. Is it Hillary or is it Barack?

And, that leaves Bill Simmons out there. He's campaigning for himself.

Postscript: That shirt pictured above is actually for sale, along with similiar ones using your favorite team's logo.

Chatting Up Chad

The Knicks-related moments from today's online chat with NBA analyst Chad Ford,

Stuckey (NY, NY): Why don't the Knicks fire Mills and Thomas and hire Colangelo? Kiki did not do well in the draft for the Nuggets (Melo was a gimme)and signed Kenyon Martin to a near max deal even though he came with injury concerns and was not a star player.

Chad Ford: I read that bizarre report in the NY Daily News that Dolan wanted to hire Kiki as GM and keep Isiah on as coach. Can the Knicks get more dysfunctional? The problem is ... the really good candidates for the position don't want to take the job unless Dolan promises them full control over all aspects of the team. That's going to be a tough sell for Dolan. Kiki may be the one guy that will just be happy with the job. Personally ... I think Dolan has to realize he's made things worse not better and turn the team over to someone who knows how to rebuild. Jerry and Bryan Colangelo are both great gets. So is Donnie Walsh and Jerry West. But here's a guy no one is talking about ... why don't the Knicks try to make a run at the Blazers Kevin Pritchard. He's a young, up-and-coming GM who has a magic touch with the media and has just completely rebuild a shameful Blazers franchise into one of the league's up-and-coming teams. I think he'd be great.

Pritchard is another great candidate. At the end of the day, Buford from San Antonio is tops on my wish list with Colangelo and West just below. I guess I would slot Pritch ahead of Kiki in the third tier that also includes Walsh and Mullin. But, I can't imagine Pritchard leaving a plum spot in Portland to reunite himself with Zach Randolph, who he wanted nowhere near his team.

*

Jeff (NYC): With the first pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks select...

Chad Ford: If Isiah's in charge? Probably Beasley. They desperately need a point guard and a leader. Unless they trade Zach, it would be years before Beasley would be as productive.

Yeah, I was just thinking about this last night. I love Beasley put this team needs a true point guard. They need to end up with the #2 or #3 pick (unless they make the playoffs, of course...) so that they can pick Rose from Memphis with no hesitation.

Lupicas, Thomsens and Bermans: Oh My!

What The Pros are Writing About the Knicks Today

Isola giveth and Isola taketh away. After yesterday's story about Kiki Vandeweghe being in-waiting to replace Isiah Thomas as GM got my heart all aflutter, Frank Isola (of the Daily News) rained on my one-man, one-post Kiki parade by revealing that Dolan's plan involves bringing in Kiki AND keeping Isiah. In this twisted world Isiah would be relieved of his GM duties, which Kiki would assume. But, Thomas would be retained as head coach. Gulp. My heart is no longer aflutter. But my stomach is. Is Dolan so arrogant and stubborn enough to handcuff whomever comes in to clean up this mess with the albatross that is Isiah Thomas? Probably. If this is the case then I don't want Kiki for the gig if he is the sort of guy who would except those conditions. In a Woody Allen-esque way, I wouldn't want any coach that would except us as an organization if Isiah were part of the deal.

Shaun Powell over at Newsday, the paper that I too often don't make it to, quite succinctly sums up the two straightforward reasons that Isiah's demise is inevitable. The first is Stephon Marbury. And, the second is Eddy Curry. Without the rending of garments and the wringing of hands (that keep the rest of us Knicks-watchers busy) Powell states with even tones and measured words that Thomas is as good as done because his two biggest moves have been his two biggest failures. And, that's it. Isiah did have a plan: get a great point guard and a get a powerful seven-footer. It's not a bad plan at all, but the Knicks just went after the wrong two guys.

Marc Berman of the Post is off and running with a pre-game slip by Isiah in which he referenced the offseason need for another point guard to play with Nate and Jamal. Astutely, Berman reads between the lines to see that Steph is not in Isiah's plans for next season. I'd like to think that Isiah's plans are a moot point, though.

Knicks douse 'Cats at Garden

And win going away, 113-89


Something changed in the second quarter for the Knicks. That's when they blew the doors off the Bobcats, outscoring them 34 to 16. The players who took the floor during that quarter were Quentin Richardson, Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, Zach Randolph, David Lee, Fred Jones and Jared Jeffries. These players outscored the 'Cats 34 to to 16 in the second quarter and turned a five-point deficit into a 13-point bulge.

Who was missing from this group? How is it different from the team that played in the first quarter? I'll give you a hint. The "difference" started the game by losing the tip-off and committing a lane violation.

What? No, Fredric Weiss didn't emigrate from France for the game.

It was Eddy Curry. The little big man continues to come up small. He played 16 minutes last night and didn't score a point. And, it didn't matter. When this team wins these days it does so without Curry and last night was no different.

Thursday's Starting Five

1. Chris Paul. Last week he disrobes Jason Kidd in front of his new teammates. This week he questions Steve Nash’s soccer acumen in front of Shaq. Chris Paul is a menace to your point guard. And, he likes it. CP3 had 26 points, 15 assists, 6 rebounds and 3 steals last night as the Hornets blew the doors off the Suns.

2. Nate Robinson. The Mightier Mouse had 22 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds and 1 steal as the Knicks cruised to a blow-out win over Charlotte last night at the Garden. And, while this was a true team effort, Nate (and David Lee) epitomizes the best-case scenario of the team as currently constituted. When they run, they win. When they run, they are as fast anyone else. The team had 25 fast-break points last night. And, they won by 24. Hmmmm…

3. The Utah Jazz. Yeah, those guys playing in Salt Lake City to mildly enthusiastic and wildly polygamist lilywhite crowds of Mormons. Those guys are good as Hell. Those guys are good as Salt Lake. Deron Williams had 14 and 14 last night as he led the team to a comeback win over the Pistons, who were last seen laying waste to Phoenix and Denver. D-Will is 5-0 against Chauncey Billups and the Pistons. The Jazz are now 25-3 at home this season and the title contender that no one (except for Barkley) is touting.

4. Lebron. The Air Apparent scored his 10,000th point last night in Boston. At 23 years and 59 days he is the youngest ever to reach this milestone. At 23 years and 23 years and 59 days I think I was still a few months from moving out of my parents house. Anyway, LBJ beat Kobe to 10K by over a year and Jordan by over two years. So, by the numbers, it would seem he is very good at basketball.

5. Ryan Panek. It’s his birthday and his Lakers have a nationally televised (TNT) gimme-game against the Heat. Clearly this game was scheduled before the Shaq trade.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Around the Internets

New York Jets Edition

I had a friend who showed up a work one day. It was a job in an office with computers and desks and such. He sat at his computer, set to start his day, and found that he was unable to log on to the network/server/whatever. And, that was that. Thanks for the hard work, please don’t steal too many office supplies on the way out. Is THIS how we’re supposed to find out that Chad Pennington is about to be traded?

But, at least, there is a good deal to be had in that case. On the other hand, there really is nothing to be gained here, especially since Vilma likely has years and years of fuel left in the tank. Unless, that knee is in worse shape than we know.

Personally, I prefer to get all my Jets news over at The Jets Blog, which is where I found out that we had finally sent McCareins packing.

"I Am the Ki(ki)master. Are you the Gatekeeper?"

Daily News says Vandeweghe may be on the way


In today's News, Frank Isola reveals that Kiki could be in line to replace Zeke. The former All-Star player and Denver GM may be the replacement for only person who has ever sapped my passion for this ballclub.

According to Isola, an unnamed "league executive" told him that,"The NBA is pushing Kiki for that job." This mysterious league executive also said, "It sounds like it is a foregone conclusion that something is going to happen over there at the end of the season. Kiki makes a lot of sense."

In a perfect world the Knicks might abscond from San Antonio with RC Buford or convince Jerry Colangelo to put USA Basketball on the back-burner. But, in this flawed universe I would thoroughly endorse Kiki for the GM gig. He helped bring the Nuggets back into contention by drafting Carmelo Anthony and bringing in Marcus Camby (who he got from the Knicks). He hired George Karl and even his costliest mistake, signing Kenyon Martin, who has been hurt too often, isn't something that I hold against him. And, though, he is a former player, something I don't really like in a GM, he was a two-time Academic All-American at UCLA. He's got some smarts to him.

And, maybe it shouldn’t it matter, but it does. I like the fact that he donned a Knicks uniform and that he played in this building. He was here as the eighties became the nineties and as this team arrived on the scene. Isola believes he would bring a sense of tradition with him and welcome former Knicks back to the Garden. I would love that.

Wednesday's Starting Five

1. Shan Foster. The senior guard from Vanderbilt netted 32 points last night (remarkably, on only 13 shots) to lead the Commodores over briefly top-ranked Tennessee. Chris Lofton showed up this time (unlike against Memphis) but this time the rest of his teammates didn't (unlike against Memphis). And, once again we all learn that there really are no upsets in conference play.

2. Michael Redd. America's pure-shooting guard hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to lift the Bucks over Lebron and the Cavs last night. Second earlier Lebron had bulled (or Cav'd) his way into the paint for another late-game layup to tie the game. But, this time he would not get the last word.

3. The Miami Heat. They won a game. That's it. Their 11-game skid is over. The next one is set to start this week.

4. The Phoenix Suns. After scoring Heat-like totals of 85 and 86 in their last two games the Suns got back to their high-scoring ways by putting up 127 against wayward Memphis. A big test tonight as they take on New Orleans. I really hope this one is on NBA TV.

5. Spring Training. David Wright hit a two-run homer yesterday, Billy Wagner started throwing high and tight at college kids and I just can't wait to hand my money over to the Mets.

Benched: Willie the Arguer. I'm passing along the correction that I found on Metsblog yesterday afternoon. Apparently Willie wasn't the one arguing the call yesterday. It was Sandy Alomar who came out of the dugout to give the ref an earful, and getting a bad call reversed. So, maybe Willie isn't going to be all fire and brimstone...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Around the Internets

Courtesy of The Big Lead, here's an awesome dunk from a high school b-ball game:


...Someone else unearthed a hilarious music video featuring a satin-clad group of 1986 Dodgers

...Finally, at long last, I found translations of the play-by-play from Pedro's big day at the cock fights

Speaking of the Mets, I found out over on Metsblog that Willie Randolph was arguing calls in today's Spring Training tilt against the University of Michigan. So, I guess he may be a little more vocal this year after all. Not only was he arguing, but he prevented a loss by doing so. A ninth-inning, game-tying two-run home run by Michel Abreu was originally ruled a double, but ol' Willie got that taken care. Done and done.

Pearls of Wisdom

Earl Monroe sounds off on Knicks

In today’s edition of the Post, Marc Berman treats us to some choice words from Earl “the Pearl” Monroe. For someone who was an artist on the basketball court it must be especially painful for him to watch these Knicks play on his court.

On the gap between the team’s talent and performance:
"I still think they got a tremendous amount of talent on this team. It's really baffling to me the team's not performing the way I thought they would perform."

On Eddy Curry:
"I think the way they played last year, I wouldn't have changed the whole scope of Eddy Curry as the No. 1 option."
…"He might be a little fragile as far his psyche is concerned, but I still think he's a kind of guy you need."
…"They had established Eddy Curry last year as a player, they come in this year and go away from it…”
…"It doesn't make much sense. He's lost a lot of his confidence and that's why they're going away from him now. But I'm not making those types of decisions. They had the makings of a real good team going into the season."

To sum up:
"There's bad karma," Monroe said. "They have to beat the bad karma down. It's the kind of season where everything's been strange.
…"I think it's surprising to a lot of people [Thomas hasn't been fired], but he was a great player and has an eye for talent."

And, I guess it had to be Pearl who was going to say something. Or, at least say something that wouldn’t come off as petulant or piling on. Something that could be considered genuine tough-love. The players from the teams that I grew up watching in the 1980s and 1990s are likely too close to Isiah (in terms of both age and relationship) to say anything too critical. Moreover, they’ll always see the great player that he was rather than the lousy coach and executive that he has become. Anyone who shared the court with Isiah will likely still be in awe of him just the same way Dolan was/is.

And, really, after Patrick, who is trying to climb up the NBA coaching ladder, who is there with the stature to actually say anything from those years anyway? Starks? Nope. He works for the Knicks and probably needs the job. Oakley? Not likely to be taken seriously even if he speaks up and easily ignored as a loose cannon. Mark Jackson? He’s on television and concentrating on making his move in that arena.

So, yeah, it really had to be someone from the previous generation to say something. It had to be one of the guys who is not beholden to Isiah and who never looked up to him. And, it had to be Pearl. After all, Clyde is employed by the club and clearly wants to avoid the fate of Marv Albert, who was sacked for being too critical. Meanwhile Willis Reed has worked for the Nets organization and the Hornets and may feel obliged not to criticize his peers. Likewise, Phil Jackson is coaching the Lakers and must be glad to have two easy games on the schedule. Dollar Bill has dropped from sight since his failed Presidential bid and only pops up for matters of politics, if it all. And, of course DeBusscherre passed away in 2003.

Well, thank you Pearl for not being afraid to speak your mind. Hopefully someone will listen.

Tuesday's Starting Five

1. D.J. Augustin. The sophomore guard for Texas made his team the first Big 12 club to record a road win at Kansas State. He had 24 points, 5 assists and 4 steals, which were all team highs. Apparently, the guys playing behind Durant last year were pretty darn good.

2. DeShawn Stevenson. Fear the (other) beard. Stevenson notched a career-high in points (33) last night and hit the game-winner as the Wizards bested the Hornets at the buzzer.

3. The Detroit Pistons. The pay-attention tour stopped in Denver last night. Motown had three players go for twenty (Billups, Hamilon and Prince) as they beat the Nuggets. They’ve started their West Coast swing 2 and 0.

4. Earl Monroe. The Knicks and Bullets legend actually had some sensible and critical things to say about the Knicks yesterday. It’s nice to see one of the players/coaches who lived and died for this team back in the day finally step forward show some emotion about the dire straights the club is in.

5. Michael Beasley. Yeah, his team lost. But with 30 points and 15 rebounds he was still the story last night. Those numbers gave him his school-record-setting 11th 30-point game. He’s played in 27 collegiate games and he’s got 30+ in 11 of them.

Benched: Yao Ming. Just as his team (and this season the Rockets were his team as opposed to McGrady’s) was catching fire this happens. Diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot, Yao appears lost for the season. The West just lost one of the team’s that looked poised to turn the whole thing on its head. The Rockets had won 12 games in a row and are currently only three games behind the Lakers for first in the conference.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday's Starting Five

1. Bobby Jackson. Forget about Jason Kidd and Ben Wallace, this was the new addition making a difference on Sunday. (And, yes, I know that Kidd had 17 assists. But that was against the T-Wolves.) Rick Adelman seems to now how to use Jackson (you first met them both in Sacramento), who scored 11 of 14 in the second half as the Rockets edged the Bulls. Houston has now won 12 on the bounce and 16 of their last 17 games.

2. Rufio and the Jurassic Park kid. They’re alive. Phew! That was close. The people-who-passed-away montage during last night’s Oscars featured pictures of these two fellows, sending my living room into an IMBDing frenzy. After some confusion and rewinding (thanks to DVR) the telecast, we realized that they were both still amongst the living and that it was the guy who did the makeup for Hook and Jurassic Park that passed away. Of course, my condolences go out to his family.

3. The Detroit Pistons. In the “Don’t Forget about Us” performance of the month the Pistons routed the Suns in Phoenix yesterday. Rasheed showed why he could be the best player in the league if he actually cared about such things and the Suns showed why the Shaq trade was lambasted at first. By halftime the only reason worth watching was Jeff Van Gundy. Whether talking about his love for Superbad (he staunchly believed that McLovin should have been nominated in a performance category) or the way that Shaq is officiated very differently than he was a few years ago, JVG is personable and honest. He had a much better day than the Suns.

4. Wladimir Klitschko. Fighting at the Garden on Saturday night, Klitschko handily beat Sultan Ibragimov in a 12-round decision to bring together two of the heavyweight championship belts. With a record of 50-3, Klitschko now holds the WBO and IBF title belts. Two more to go. And, I’ve got to give credit to the severely overmatched Ibragimov for taking the fight. It seems like the heavyweight division has been plagued by fighters who having secured one of the championship belts have held tightly to it, protecting their fiefdom rather than having the ambition to take on the division’s other champs. Finally someone actually wants to be heavyweight champion of the world.

5. Eduardo de Silva. If you haven’t seen pictures/video of this then you’re lucky. Well, unless you’re the sort of guy/gal who re-runs the Theismann knee injury every morning with your Fruit Loops. In that case, you best get over to YouTube. Arsenal striker Eduardo had his leg broken on Saturday and there were bones through skin, lots of blood and guts and losses of appetites. It is one of those plays that is so awful to watch that television stations, those bastions of decency and respect, opt not to ever show the replay. Today is Eduardo’s 25th birthday. And, he almost, according to something I read this morning, lost his foot yesterday because the damage to his leg was so severe. At best he’s nine months from soccer-related activity but this could be the end of career that was just taking shape. The Brazilian born, Croatian-national had 12 goals and 8 assists in all competitions during the first half of his first campaign with Arsenal before being cut in half by a vicious tackle that saw the offending player immediately tossed from the game. There is already talk that the tackler could potentially be banned for life. That might be too harsh (or not). I say that, at the very least, he shouldn’t be allowed back on a Premier League pitch until Eduardo is back.

Friday, February 22, 2008

No News is Good News. Seriously.

The Knicks Don't Make A Deal At Trading Deadline.

The NBA trading deadline passed yesterday afternoon with little fanfare, at least in New York. The Cavs were part of a 3-team 11-player deal in which they replaced their risk/reward players with someone else's risk/reward players. Bonzi Wells is on the move and Bobby Jackson is back with Rick Adelman. And the Sonics now own every first-round draft pick for the next three years. Or, something like that.

Meanwhile, all was quite on the Seventh Avenue. Eddy Curry is still a Knick. Zach Randolph is still a Knick. Everyone responsible for this season is still on the roster. And, I'm glad.

I'm so very glad that Isiah didn't make a trade yesterday. And, no, I don't I think that this team, with this coach, is going to turn it around. I'm glad because the problems haven't been made any worse. We haven't added Vince Carter to the mix. We haven't taken on four-bad contract in exchange for Eddy Curry's single bad contract.

Seeing so many other teams acquire top flight players for virtually nothing but expiring contracts and spare parts one can forget how this team actually makes transactions. Isiah wasn't going to make a Gasol-like deal yesterday. And, if he did he wasn't going to playing the role of the Lakers. No way in hell. He doesn't have it in him and he doesn't have the tools on the roster. Well, he's got tools on the roster, but not the right kind. Anyway, anyone lamenting the Knicks inaction yesterday needs to remember that any trade would have been orchestrated by Zeke. It, necessarily, would have been a disaster. Every precedent is bad. There is no reason given to date to think that any move would have been anything other than another debacle.

So, I'm glad that there was no late-breaking Knicks news. That means that we still have our draft pick. We still have the same problems. But we don't have any new ones. We didn't get three-card monte'd into taking anyone else's problems. We don't have Vince Carter.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thursday's Starting Five

1. RC Buford. This guy. Oh, this guy. You think the Spurs GM wasn’t smiling during the first quarter of the Suns/Lakers game when neither Shaq nor Amare seemed to have faintest idea about how to guard the pick-and-roll. Hours earlier he had traded for former Knick Kurt Thomas (who had been playing in Seattle) and I think Kurt might have actually helped invent the P&R back in the thirties while touring the dustbowl with TCU. Thomas will pull Shaq away from the paint when the Spurs play the Suns. He’ll do the same with Bynum should the Spurs run up against the Lakers. And, then when the Lakers inevitably switch Gasol onto him then ol’ crazy eyes will back him down. He won’t be flashy but he’ll be poised and find you the 12 and 8 that might make the difference. While the rest of the West’s contenders are engaged in an expensive, short-sighted arms race, Buford just makes a small move like this one. This is vintage Buford and why the Spurs have been so good for so long. Perhaps it won’t turn out as planned but it also won’t kill them if it doesn’t because Kurt comes off the books after the season anyway. This guy.

2. The NBA. It was a banner night for the Association. Baron Davis hit a game-winning three at the buzzer. Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard tangled and combined for 77 points. LBJ posted his second straight triple-double. The new boss (Paul) and the old boss (Kidd) duked it out in the Big Easy. And, Shaq showed up shaved and ready to run against Kobe and the Lakers on national television. I know everyone loves to hate the NBA, it’s the new soccer, but the product is really good these days. Yes, it hurts the league that the NYC market features two bad teams, but there is a lot of really good team-oriented basketball being played around the country. Aside from a few rotten apples (Knicks front and center) virtually every team in this league gives you something to cheer for every single night. Some might even say, that the NBA is Fantastic. I would.

3. Chris Paul. Last night was supposed to be Kidd’s night in New Orleans. He was making his rebut with the Mavs. But, Paul dominated the matchup, scoring 31 to go with 11 assists and 9 steals.

4. The U. And, it was the basketball team. The Miami Hurricanes pulled a Sixth Sense on the Blue Devils last night as they assuredly didn’t see this performance coming. Ending a 45-year losing streak, Miami held on to beat the Dukies by 1.

5. Ryan Howard. The 2006 NL MVP just got paid. Howard won his arbitration case against the Phillies and received the $10 million that he was looking for. This is also the highest amount ever awarded in arbitration. And, not because it’s such an exorbitant amount. A-Rod spent $10 million while you were reading this. But, the Phils only offered $7 million to the slugger, which should get those contract-extension talks off to a cordial start…

Benched: A-Rod. This guy must be able to digest shoe leather during the baseball season. Every time he encounters a microphone he puts his foot in his mouth. This week he has claimed he was drug tested approximately ten times in a season and then gone back on it. You see, that’s the sort of statement you go back on a day later because people quickly realize that anyone who was tested that much would have likely failed drug tests in the pasts.

The Conversation


(A Brief Exchange Between a Knicks fan and Sixers fan regarding last night's contest between our respective teams)


On Wed, Feb 20, 2008 at 8:14 PM, Sixers Fan wrote:
Also .... I just saw online that the sixers are up 72-36 at halftime on your boys. What the F? How the hell do they already have 72 points?

On Thur, Feb 21, 2008 at 10:15 AM, Knicks Fan wrote:
that was the worst loss of the season. it won't get nearly the attention that blowout to the C's in november got because only seventy-five people actually watched last night's game since it wasn't on national television, but it was the worst. getting beat up by the best team in the conference is one thing, getting shellacked by the 08 Sixers is something else entirely. last night was the low point for me. thanks, for that.

at least the suns/lakers game helped me wash the knicks stink from my eyeballs. lets go mets.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It's Time

The team was fighting on the sideline last night. They turned the ball over 23 times tonight. They lost by 40 points to a very mediocre team. The roster is uneven. The players are at odds with one another. There are no defined roles. There is no exit strategy. And, the financial mismanagement means it will likely stay that way.



Tonight's 84-124 loss to the Sixers is the worst of the season. By a long-shot. It won't get the same attention in the media but this was a far worse loss than the Boston massacre earlier in the year. That was a blow-out at the hands of an elite team reveling in its superiority. This was a beat down administered by a team with no clear-cut advantages over the Knicks. This wood-shedding had nothing to do with a talent-gap. Rather, it was about execution, effort and strategy. It was about all of the facets of the game that a coach and his players have control over. Or, at least could have control over.

However, for the second night in a row Isiah Thomas showed that he has absolutely no control over this team. He doesn't intervene when they fight with each other and he cannot intervene when they have no fight in them. He is meaningless. The Knicks win when things break their way and they lose when things don't. Isiah brings absolutely nothing to the equation and his only noteworthy effect on the team during any given game is that his presence prohibits a different coach from having the opportunity to make a difference.

Isiah Thomas should be fired. Today

And, it best happen before he is allowed to make another trade. Before he can further bury this club by bringing in someone like Vince Carter. If he brings in someone else like that he makes the job that less desirable for replacements and potentially earns himself another few weeks reprieve to work with his "new" roster. He should be fired before that. He may not be. In fact, he probably won't be. But he should be. Even fans on the road chant for this guy to get sacked. They cheered for it tonight in Philly and they do it elsewhere. And, this is more than mere schadenfreude (which, obviously, is part of it). Fans of basketball want him to be fired.

Again, I repeat: Isiah Thomas should be fired. For the sake of the team. For the sake of the fans. For the sake of the league.

With all of the endless blathering about the Kidd trade that we've endured in the past week or so we've frequently heard the refrain that such a trade would be "good for the league." Forgetting that I don't think that should be a factor in such dealings, let's acknowledge that the removal of Isiah Thomas would be ever better for the league. And, if trades can be endorsed or rubber stamped because they help the competitive landscape then why can't coaching changes. After all, reviving the Knicks would do more for the league than adding another piece to one of many contenders in the West.

The Knicks are a charter franchise of the NBA and one of its marquee clubs. There are supposed to be a draw on the road. Just the same way that the Yankees are in baseball. However, fans in other NBA cities don't want to see this team. They don't want to (over)pay for tickets only to leave late in the third quarter because the game is either a blowout or a close contest that closely resembles the Thursday night game at the local YMCA.

Fire Isiah. It's Time. And, it's for the good of the league.

"Feistiness"

That's what Isiah called it. Some words were exchanged. Zach threw some water at Nate. Who, then, threw a towel back at Zach. It looked like bickering and childishness. But, I guess it could be called feistiness. What do you think?



You watch this and you just roll your eyes. Jokes are made. Or, rather, old jokes are re-made. This fits right into the season's story line. Except for the fact that it happened right smack in the middle of a great run of play in which the team stormed back to tie a game late and then broke the franchise record for most points (23) scored in an overtime period.

Usually, you watch a team over the course of a season, and, if you're really, really watching (meaning, you have little social life and spend too much time on the couch. Check. And Check.) then you get a handle for what a team is like. For how they interact. For who gets along. For who is in the doghouse. In other words, you know what to make of something like this little spat between Nate and Zach.

But, I must admit that on a fundamental level I still don't really know this team. From Isiah's maniacally wavering proclamations to the closed-mouth media policy that keeps the players from saying too much this is really an inscrutable group. I guess I have vague impressions of a few players that I feel are pretty accurate. I think I have a handle on Crawford, Lee, Rose, Richardson, Nate, Eddy and Zach. But, I have no idea how they really feel about each other. How they fit together. I'm at a loss as to how these guys really feel about this team. About staying in New York. About winning games. I'm sure some of them would like to get on the first train out. I think some of them could go either way. And, I'm sure other want to stay, provided they get to choose who is on the first train out.

I guess it's for the best that I don't know them because then I won't be too upset when this team looks radically different on Friday morning.

Wednesday's Starting Five

1. Nate Robinson. The little-guy got the start last night against the Wiz and played 38 minutes. He scored six of the Knicks last 8 points as they forced overtime. Nate ended up with 19 points, to go along with 8 rebounds and 5 assists. And, he finally cracked got the start. Finally.

2. Jason Kidd. To be honest, the road to Finals would have been far easier for this guy if he would have simply decided to play hard in New Jersey. But, he didn’t want that and he got exactly what he wanted: He now leads a far superior team in the much more difficult conference. He'll be playing with the best and against the best. I know that we’ve all been blitzed with stories about how much everyone involved needed this deal to get done and how it was for the good of the game. Um, I don’t really think so. And, I find it hard to root for Kidd to get a ring after he has forced himself off yet another team.

3. The Nets. Given the circumstances the Nets made out pretty well. In my opinion. They moved a malcontent who had made it clear that he was not going to bring full-effort any longer. And they got back a 25-year old replacement who has proved himself just a small step below the league’s best point guards (who are now all in the West). It’s possible that the Nets just traded the best point guard in the East and landed the best point guard in the East all in one swoop. Aside from clearing cap space heading towards the future (when they’re clearly hoping to use to lure Lebron to Brooklyn), the Nets also got two first-round draft picks, the second of which is not lottery-protected. They got Desagna Diop, a solid #2 center, who will highlight how awful Jason Collins really was. Diop is used to banging with Amare Stoudamire so I think he’ll handle Eddy Curry. Yes, there are two spare-parts in Hassell and Auger coming over but they’re not too objectionable and essentially just replace the two spare-parts that the Nets sent to Big D. And, to top it all off, the Nets are going to get a visit from old-pal Van Horn rather than having to buy-out Stackhouse, who was never even coming by to say hello. Oh, and they got $3 million back. Lastly, they’ve officially blown up this version of the team which means Thorn could justify shipping out Carter even though he just extended his contract.

4. Shaq. The Big Hold-Up will try to keep pace with the Suns offense starting tonight. Against the Lakers. And Kobe. Shaq claims that he’s "going to be looking to get out like Randy Moss and Terrell Owens."

5. Keith Van Horn. This guy hasn’t played since the 2006 playoffs. He’s been sitting at home maybe occasionally heading to a local elementary school to shoot around for an hour or two. Other than that he's probably been driving to Dairy Queen and smoking butts. Or, at least, those are things he did when he lived in the town where I grew up. And, on Monday he got handed about four million dollars just so the Mavs could finalize the deal for Jason Kidd. He’s getting $4 million in guaranteed NBA-monies just to hop a flight to Newark Airport and hang out with Vince Carter for a few days. After that, he can head home or, if he feels like it, play some basketball. Now, that, is good work. If you can get it.

It Was Exactly the Same, Except the Opposite

I Have Deja Vu as the Knicks Comeback to Beat Wiz in OT

This was the same game that I sat and watched two Fridays ago. I remember it exactly. I was eating cereal and the Knicks were playing the Spurs at home. Last night's game against the Wiz in Washington was that game. Almost step for step. But in reverse. And I was eating cereal. Again. Weird.

In the Knicks/Spurs game the score was close after one quarter. Last night the score was close after one. In both games the home team built a lead that reached 9 points during the third quarter. Yet the road team clawed back to within three as the whistle sounded to start the fourth quarter. Two Fridays ago, the Knicks seemed to ward off the Spurs run to take an 81-72 lead with about seven minutes to play last time. Lat night, the Wizards seemed to ward off the Knicks run to take an 80-71 lead with about five minutes left. However, in each game, the road team (Spurs and Knicks) closed regulation on a blistering run (15-7 and 19-10 respectively) as the home teams (the Knicks and Wizards) couldn't hit a shot or get a stop. Manu Ginobli hit a three to force overtime at the Garden. The score was knotted at 88. Last night, Jamal Crawford hit a free-throw with less than twenty seconds left to force overtime at the Verizon Center. The score was knotted at 90. In both games the road team that had come back to force OT had all the momentum and stormed out the gate as the home team allowed uncontested buckets in the paint. The Spurs scored seven straight to start the overtime period. The Knicks scored eleven straight to start the overtime period. Both teams won.

It was the same game. Just the opposite.

What does this mean? Well, it means that the Knicks can win just as dramatically as they lose. It means that they have been, apparently, capable of winning some of the games they've dropped the last two weeks. It means that a basketball team is only as good as the last quarter it played. And, it means that we've got to be ready for anything the rest of the way.

Or, maybe it means that every regular season NBA game is essentially the same game. And, maybe, this is why most people don't care...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Around the Internets in Eight Minutes

...There are two great parts about the Jeter-is-the-worst-shortstop story that came out this week. Or, at least two great parts for non-Yankee partisans. For Yankees fans there are just two parts to the story. The first is the revelation that, statistically, Mr. Gatorade is the worst defensive shortstop in the game. The second is the hilarious, soft-minded rebuttal of the numbers by homers, like those at the Post.

...Nets fans, please step up and meet Devin Harris. He's your new point guard.

...I couldn't help but thinking about Craig Hodges while watching the 3-point shootout this weekend. What ever happened to that guy? How come he never made more of an impression on the league? He could shoot the lights out and had to be as adept at the rest of the game as a guy like Kapono. Was he given the shaft by Stern and the Association because of his religious and political beliefs?

Tuesday's Starting Five

Belated NBA All-Star Game Edition

1. Brandon Roy. Making his first ASG appearance Roy played 29 minutes, more than everyone but LBJ and Superman. He shot 80% from the field, scoring 18 points. Roy was on the floor all through the fourth quarter as the West got back into the game as others shuffled in and out. He actually made the layup that put the West ahead for the first time. Quite impressive for someone who was playing in the Sophs/Rooks game earlier in the weekend. He also won me a few bucks by outscoring Rip Hamilton, thank you very much.

2. Ray Allen. He stemmed the tide as the West rallied back behind Roy and Paul. Knocking down three straight 3's late, this thespian was probably the real MVP for the East in the game. This guy can shoot.

3. Chris Paul. Notching 14 assists in his first ASG he looks poised for an Isiah Thomas like run of ASG point-play. That sucks for Deron Williams. But not for the fans at home.

4. Big Men Shooting Three-Pointers. Yao took Shaq's role of intermittent on-court comic relief by tossing up a couple of three-point attempts. They missed. Rasheed Walllace, not a stranger to the deep shot, added his own twist by shooting a few left-handed. And, he hit one. Probably just as impressive as anything that happened in the dunk contest. If you think about it.

5. Lebron James. His halftime line (12 points, 7 assists and 7 boards) probably earned him the MVP award. With Kidd heading westward for the gold in them thar hills, I hope that LBJ is allowed to run the point for the East in next year's ASG. He showcased his passing on Sunday night and seemed to naturally fill that role. Being more comfortable ally-ing than oop-ing. Well, except at crunch-time when he posterized Dirk and most everyone else on the floor for the West.

6th Men. All-Star Pistons. East coach Doc Rivers tried to play Chauncey, Rasheed and Rip together throughout the game. These guys brought something unexpected to the game while on the floor: defense.

Benched. Kobe Bryant. The NBA insisted that he had to start the game in spite of an injury. He started and then left the game after 3 minutes.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Your name is Kal-El...


"... You are the only survivor of the planet Krypton. Even though you've been raised as a human, you are not one of them. You have great powers, only some of which you have as yet discovered."

Dwight "Supe" Howard is your 2008 Slam Dunk Champion. He leads the NBA in dunks so far this season and scored a perfect 50 on every dunk that he executed. He was "flying for real" according to Kenny Smith. Every dunk of Howard's was memorable and creative: there was the behind-the-glass-dunk, the Superman, the Volleyball and the Mini-Hoop. The only single-contest performance that even comes close to this is Vince Carter's from 2000. That comes close to this. But, for my money (and I did win a few bucks taking the 11-4 odds on Howard to win), this was a better performance. After all, Howard is almost seven-feet tall and a physical specimen the likes of which the dunk contest has never seen before. And, don't bring up Larry Nance, who was 6-10. He wasn't doing anything like this in 1984.

To go a step further, I actually think what Dwight did was more impressive than what the little guys (Nate and Spud) have done. To be that big and be able to hang and contort one's body like that is amazing. Like Superman.



And...

Gerald Green had a heck of contest too. He just picked the wrong year and ran into the Howard buzzsaw. The birthday cake thing was clever and would have been the biggest recipient of the Mutumbo face in most other years. Just not last night.

Karl Malone and Magic Johnson were both judges. Dr. J was the only one sitting between them and I'm going to imagine that this was not enough of a buffer zone for the Mailman. It was Malone who famously refused to play on the same court, or even in the same league, as an HIV-positive Magic. The cameras didn't catch them speaking to one another.

Jason Kapono won the 3-point shooting contest for the second time. Is he the next Craig Hodges? And, why did Miami let him go in the offseason?

Deron Williams won the skills competition, which I forgot about in my All-Star game preview. He beat Wade, Kidd (who now just looks hilarious in a Nets uniform), Nash and Chris Paul. Kidd dropped out because he couldn't hit the jump shot, which makes sense. Wade didn't last because the wheels just came off his bid, sort of like the season in South Beach. Fittingly, the Final Round was contested by Paul and Williams, who navigated the course perfectly. He won the competition and set a new record.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The NBA: Where Lee Happened

During the Rooks/Sophs game the topic amongst the TNT crew turned to David Lee and his 14 for 14, 30-point performance in last year's game.

"I call that guy shallow water because anything in the paint he's good at."-Kenny Smith on David Lee

"You put that guy on a good team and he'd be scary"-Charles Barkley on Davd Lee

The 2008 NBA All-Star Weekend


Here's your schedule for everything on the menu this weekend and a few highlights from past incarnations of these events.

FRIDAY NIGHT:

1. The Celeb Game. No highlights for you. I wonder how many of the "celebs" have shows or films that are owned by ABC?

2. The Rookie vs. Sophomore Challenge. As I've already stated, I dig this. These guys are hungry and trying to impress the actual All-Stars in the first few rows and everyone on Madison Avenue sitting on the couch.

2007 Sophomore vs. Rookie Challenge:


SATURDAY:

1. The Developmental League All-Star Game. I'm intrigued by this. The game is on at some point in the afternoon and I'm going to try to check it out. For some reason, I think it's shortsightedness, the Knicks hate the D-League. That means it must be good.

2. Three-Point Shooting Contest
When talking about the 3-point Shooting Contest there is really only one man: Craig Hodges.


3. Slam Dunk Contest. Ah, the grand-daddy of all ancillary exhibition events. I must admit that I still do look forward to it every year. The incessant replays have deadened the contest a bit but I'll still be watching. I probably like this so much because I've seen two Knicks actually win this thing.

Nate in 2007


Kenny "Sky" Walker in 1989: The key is the flair and the bike shorts.


Isaiah Rider in '94. With a special guest spot by Allan Houston.


And, as a Bonus...

David Lee. Keep an eye out for his secret weapon: his pasty white skin. You think you know what I'm saying, but you don't. Not yet. Watch.



4. NBA/WNBA ClusterF#%K. Do they still do this? I hope not. I'd rather watch the celebrity game. Or, even American Gladiators.

SUNDAY:

1. The Main Event. It is what it is. It also is what it was...

Kobe's First All-Star Game:

I probably wouldn't have included this, but the C.A.R. (rhymes with joking banal papist) won me over with some kind words about the Garden.

1994: No Jordan? No Problem.

#3 is my fave.

All-Time Best All-Star Moments


This is why I'll be watching the game. Hopefully, something Sunday night will end up on the next edition of this video. Maybe those moments can replace all the Isiah footage at the front? Because whoever made this video loved himself some Zeke.

And, hopefully a few more Knicks will have gotten invites by then.

Save the Date: September 6, 2008


It was announced today that my generation's Captain, Patrick Aloysius Ewing, is a Finalist for selection to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Akeem The Dream and Pat Riley are also up for selection in their first year of eligibility and all three seem like no-brainers.

Ewing, Olajuwon and Riley.

A weird combination with so many links and memorable moments shared between them. Also eligible are Chris Mullin, Adrian Dantley, Dennis Johnson, Don Nelson and a few other folks. The selections will be announced during the Final Four. And, the next day I'll start planning my trip to Springfield, MA for the ceremony.

Here's what the HOF website had to say about Pat:

PATRICK EWING - Player, a two-time Olympic gold medal winner (1984, 1992) and a three-time consensus First Team All-America (1983, 1984, 1985), led Georgetown University to three appearances in the NCAA Final Four and the 1984 national championship earning Most Outstanding Player recognition for his efforts. The 1986 NBA Rookie of the Year landed a spot on 11 NBA All Star rosters including ten in a row from 1998 to 1997. A member of the NBA 50th Anniversary Team, Ewing scored 24,815 points during his 17-year NBA career to go along with 11,607 rebounds. Named Parade Magazine's National High School Player of the Year in 1981, Ewing remains the New York Knicks, all-time leader in points, rebounds, blocked shots, steals and field goals made.

Sure sounds like a first-ballot Hall of Famer...

Check Your Local Listings: Rooks vs. Sophs

The best part of last year's All-Star Weekend was the Rookie/Sophomore game, where our very own David Lee won the MVP after going 14-14 from the field to score 30. That night was also the first time that the world (and by world, I mean the two dozen people who watch the Rookies vs. Sophomores game on cable TV) was introduced to Monta Ellis of the Warriors. This year's game is on TNT tonight and figures to be the most competitive part of the AS Weekend that ends up in your living room. If only that would just put the all-night-long, high stakes poker games and c-lo tournaments on ESPN News. Anyway, I recommend checking it out or at least recording it so you can turn it on Sunday night when the vets are missing ally-oops in the big boy game.

The Rookie Team:
Mike Conley
Kevin Durant
Al Horford
Jamario Moon
Juan Carlos Navarro
Luis Scola
Sean Williams
Yi Jinlian
Jeff Green

The Sophomore Team:
LaMarcus Aldridge
Andrea Bargnani
Ronnie Brewer
Jordan Farmar
Daniel Gibson
Rudy Gay
Paul Milsap
Rajon Rondo

My guess is that Rudy Gay will give us a taste of what to expect in the dunk contest while leading the Sophs and that Sean Williams will have a surprisingly good game for the Rooks just because he will run and rebound. And, I'm only 50% saying that because he sort of went to Boston College. Speaking of which, where's Craig Smith?

Around the Internets

Photo Edition

1.
These young Nicaraguans will never hear about David Tyree.

2.
Johan has arrived at Spring Training in Port St. Lucie. It's begun. Although, the Phillies signing of Kris Benson to a Minor League deal does have me worried...

3
Also arriving in Spring Training: Beckett's gut.

4.
Speaking of potentially out of shape stars, Here is Shaq in a Suns jersey. The rest of the team ran three breaks in the time it took the ball-boys to squeeze the Diesel into this thing.

5.
Maybe Shaq and Beckett need to hire her trainer. I think he's free. At least, he's free right now.

Friday's Starting Five

1. Devean George. What would Vegas’ odds have been that this guy would prove to be the single most important factor in the race for the Western Conference crown in 2008? 100,000 to 1? By exercising a no-trade clause in his contract, George effectively halted the Jason Kidd to Dallas deal that broke the other night. And, to boot, he took the floor later that night and went 0 for 11 from the field.

2. Pedro Martinez. Remember him? He's down in Port St. Lucie at Mets camp and feeling as good as he's felt in two years, after getting his shoulder fixed up last season. The one thing lost in the Mets collapse was that Pedro came back in September and was throwing darts. He was 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA.

Pedro on his ability and his health: “Yeah, I hurt because I did it clean, because I never had anything against the clean game of baseball. That’s why I was a prima donna. That’s why I hurt. That’s why I don’t pitch 33 outings every year. Because I have a small frame, and I did it clean. And all I could take was two Aleves or two Advil, a cup of coffee, a little mangu and an egg, and go out there and let it go and face everybody that’s out there. And you know what? That’s the era I dominated."

3. Kobe's pinky. There is a torn ligament in the littlest finger on the mamba’s most important hand. The injury occurred last week while LA was visiting NJ. There is an eerie synchronicity to the fact that Kobe hurt his shooting hand on the very first night that Gasol suited up for the Lakers. It almost sounds like the sort of thing that happens when you make a deal with a certain guy in charge of a certain place located near a certain lake that happens to be aflame….

4. Any Pettitte. Somehow he has managed to become more beloved and more respected as a result of being named in the Mitchell Report. This may make him the most respected Texan in Washington in years.

5. Steve Nash. I wish the Suns were my team rather than the Knicks. Every game they play in is wildly entertaining. Knicks games are very different. The Suns beat the Mavs last night. Many jokes were made across the interwebs about Steve and Dirk being together for Valentine’s Day.

Benched: Jerry Stackhouse. Not to be outdone by his teammate George, Stackhouse began telling everyone that his involvement in the kaibashed Kidd deal only meant a vacation for him. He essentially told anyone who would listen that the Nets were going to buy him out of his contract and that he would be back in a Mavs uniform in 30 days. David Stern may not approve of such forthrightness and this could be more of a problem than George’s no-trade clause.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Basketball 101: 48 minutes

This is the length of an NBA basketball game. The game is divided into four quarters of equal length. Each of these quarters is 12 minutes long. Between the second and third quarters players are allowed to return to their locking room for a brief rest before commencing the contest. This is called "half-time" as it occurs at the halfway point of the match. The winner is determined by comparing the total number of points that each team scores over the 48 minute span. The team with the most points after all 48 minutes have been played is declared the winner. A winner can only be declared after all 48 minutes have been played.

These are concepts that the Knicks do not understand. They seem to think that playing well for 45 minutes can lead to being declared the winner of a game. Sometimes they think that keeping the scores close in number might lead to a victory. Neither of these things are true. I'm not sure if they know.

Last night, the Knicks may have been under the impression that only a team's best three quarters counted towards the final score. Not true, unfortunately. The Knicks beat the Celtics by a score of 87-79 if you only tabulate the results from quarters 1, 2 and 4. However, due in large part to the fact that they scored half as many points (16) as the Celtics did (32) in the third quarter, the Knicks lost the game, 103-111.

Happy Valentine's Day

If you haven't already, go buy flowers. You can do all the planning you want - with the reservations and the chocolates and the hugging - but the first thing that she's going to look for is the flowers.
-Ancient Proverb

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wednesday's Starting Five

1. Potential Perjurers. Today is another day when ESPNews and C-Span may look eerily similar. Roger Clemens, Brian McNamee will sit down with some of our elected officials this afternoon. And, no matter what happens or how little you care at this point, you'll be hearing all about it. I would think the only interesting thing that could happen is if Clemens - knowing what is happening to Bonds - recants all of his denials and just admits to everything. Other than that, this will be just he said/he said.

2. Chris Paul. His line for the night reads 1 win, 25 points and 14 assists. He is the next-coming of Isiah Thomas, in a good way, and I hope that he can keep his team running all the way through the second half of the season. The Hornets are the reason to go out and get NBA TV (or buy tickets for when the come to the Garden in March).

3. Uno. This adorable little beagle won Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show.

4. Bill Belichick. With all the attention on Clemens today, not enough people are talking about the Spy-gate sit-down between Roger Goodel and Sen. Arlen Specter that is also taking place today.

5. Chauncy Billups. He scored 12 in the fourth to cap off what had been a pedestrian game and lead the Pistons to their ninth straight win over the Hawks, who played well throughout but at the end just couldn't come through. Probably because they are the Hawks.

Benched. The Kentucky Wildcats. There were shades of the November Knicks game against the Celtics here. The once-feared Wildcats lost by 41 to Vanderbilt last night, 52-93.

"Ain't No Party Like a Z-Bo Party"

Randolph's Still Got It, At Least in Portland

"It" being a penchant for ending up in situations involving the police and threats of gunfire. During the team's recent West Coast swing, Randolph was either throwing or attending (depending on who you ask) a party at a club or restaurant (depending on who you ask) where the cops were called going on 2:30 in the AM because of a fight involving our man. A bouncer called the coppers after hearing threats about guns and caps and the busting of the aforementioned caps with the help of those very same guns.

The basketball-angle here is that this took place the night before the game. Obviously it would be best for the team's winning percentage if Herb Williams was doing bed-checks at 11:00 PM every night, but since that is not an option it doesn't really bother me too much that Zach was out on the town. After all, he used to live there. And, he had a double-double the next night.

Eschewing the high-road, the two things I take away from this story are:

1. Does this make Randolph harder or easier to trade, from internal and external perspectives?

2. This line from the Portland Tribune's coverage of the story pretty much sums up why Zach is no longer a Blazer: "The only thing surprising about all this? The party didn’t occur at the strip joint Exotica, one of Randolph’s haunts of choice while living in our fair city."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"Xavier McDaniel, I Presume?"


(Since the Knicks continue to surrender second half leads and lose games I figured that we need to do something else with this space on occasion. With that in mind I've trekked through the Internets to find the latest news on some of our long-lost Knicks from happier times.)
We might need to pass the hat around this week to help one of our favorites. Former Knick Latrell Sprewell isn't doing so hot during this almost-but-not-yet recession. I'm not sure if it was because of a subprime mortgage, a copiously jeweled chalice or a luxury seafaring vessel, but somehow the catalyst behind the team's run to the 1999 NBA Finals is strapped for cash. His home is up for foreclosure and he had to sell his yacht at auction to help pay off the million+ that he owes to creditors. 

Sprewell played 13 seasons in the NBA for the Warriors, the Knicks and the T-Wolves, his hometown club. He was a 4-time All-Star, but hehasn't played pro ball in a few years. He famously turned down a $21 million contract extension from the T-wolves during the '04-'05 season, quipping that he wanted more money because he "has a family to feed." Being broke, I hope at least the irony is appreciating at a better rate than whatever assets he still has. 

All jokes aside, this sucks. I like Spree and I wish he would have just gotten himself back in the league after getting his bluff called a few years ago. He was the beating heart of a Knicks team unsure of itself as Patrick's injuries mounted. He was just like Renaldo Balkman, except 1,007 times better at basketball. He could defend anyone in the game, he could run the floor, he had a sense of the moment and willingly played out of position for the good of the team.  A team that he led to the Finals. 

I don't know if it's really his choice to stay away from the game or if he just can't get a gig. And, if he can't get a gig, I wonder how much of that has to do with that whole choking thing. Either way, the best part about Sprewell appearing in the news is a reminder that he he had named his luxury yacht "Milwaukee's Best." And, yes, he is from Milwaukee. 

Stay classy, Spree.

"Then get me his non-union, Mexican equivalent!"-Mr. Burns

With word getting out that the end of the television writers' strike is imminent it was the perfect time for me to realize that the strike is really the best thing that has happened to me in a while. Well, except for my girlfriend and my job and my family and my friends and all that stuff. After all that, this strike has been pretty great to me. And, now it's just about over.

Although, for once I can say that I actually realized how good something was just before it was gone. That's probably better than realizing it after it's gone. I think. Anyway, my enjoyment of the strike became clear while sitting down for a few minutes of American Gladiators last night. In case you aren't totally aware, this show is terrible. Since almost as much ink has been spilled lamenting this fact as silicone has been used trying to feminize the female gladiator-esses, I won't belabor this point any further than to simply reiterate that this show is terrible. Just terrible. And I wanted to like it. I really did. But how can you?

I am indebted to the program nonetheless, though, as it was one of Wolf's catcalls that triggered my "I Love the Strike" epiphany. Wolf, in case you don't already know and loathe him, is the Gladiator composed of two parts White Goodman from Dodgeball, one part professional wrestler and three parts gay-biker-pinup. Not that there's anything wrong with that. He actually makes the weird, slick-backed and puffed Staten Island residing contestants seem almost like normal people. Almost.

But I digress, the writers' strike was a great thing (for me as a viewer) because it weened me off the plug-in drug that is TV and showed me that reality television is nothing but broadcast methadone. The strike has also made clear the differences between those people who will watch, and take seriously, just about anything that is put on the airwaves during primetime and those who won't. Those who are addicted to that sweet network nectar have blindly accepted such gems as Steroid Obstacle Course (the aforementioned Gladiator), Pick a Hand (Deal or No Deal) and Do I Have More STDs Than a 5th Grader (this might have actually been the name of that show...) while the rest of us have been forced, or rather allowed, to do something else with our weeknights. It has been a revelation.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not against television. I can get as absorbed in the cougar-trap related misadventures of Kim Bauer as the next guy but there are really only a handful of shows (The Office and 30 Rock among them) that I WANT to watch with any regularity (not counting re-runs of The Simpsons and Seinfeld which I do watch daily). For me, and I would guess for many, most of the television that I watch is television that I watched just because it was on in my living room. I've had dog-years stolen by My Name is Earl. Damn you Jason Lee!

Without situation comedies clogging the airwaves and sucking me or any of my housemates in, I've become much more selective about what I view and I've discovered that each night is full of competitive and compelling sporting events. In the past week (or so) I've had the privilege to catch these exciting games:

Indiana vs. Illinois: The background was super-frosh Eric Gordon's belated arrival on the campus of Illinois. He had originally comittted to Illinois before deciding to stay in his homestate for his one-year collegiate career. The foreground was a taught game in as lively an atmosphere as you're ever going to get from a studio audience. The Hoosiers stormed back from a double-digit second half deficit to win by 4 in overtime. Gordon had a phenomenal second half after being held in check, by the crowd, and the Illini, in the first half

Kansas State vs. Kansas: 1 undefeated team + 1 uber-talented one-and-done freshman + 1 one-sided "rivalry" = high drama and upseterrific television.

BC vs. BU Beanpot Semi-Final: Last Monday night featured a classic brawl between these two rival schools. Befitting the teams and the tourney, the game was decided in overtime.

Hornets vs. Suns: This double-OT thriller, headlined by Chris Paul and Steve Nash, is the best basketball game I've watched all year. Both PGs were out-of-this-world and the game ended on buzzer-beating jumper by Peja in the second OT.

Last night, was no different. Well, except for the Gladiator interlude. But, after that I retired to another television to catch the Finals of the annual Beanpot tournament, pitting Boston College against Harvard. By the time the zamboni hit the ice after OT there had been 11 goals.

Once, the Eagles locked up that game over on NESN I headed back downstairs to join the last few momets of Kansas vs. Texas on ESPN. Kansas had the ball down by three with plenty of time left when I checked in. Of course, the Jayhawks went for the three-point shot rather than a quick two, though. Rush missed from the corner and the game spiraled from there. Another upset in conference play that really can't be considered too much of a surprise, just like Maryland over anyone in the ACC.

Further down the dial from the postgame coverage out of Austin was NBA TV and the beard-off between Baron Davis of the Warriors and DeShawn Stevenson of the Wizards. The game was out of hand early on with Washington jumping out by tens and dozens of points but the facial hair competition was heated throughout. Baron's beard is clearly more mature and distinguished while Stevenson's beard is clearly more aggressive and tenacious. It's hungry.

With my sporting-fill for one night I figured it was safe to head to bed, but within the time it takes to brush one's teeth Stephen Jackson had pulled the Warriors, by the hairs on Baron's chinny-chin-chin, right back into the game. And, they miraculously win going away! Now, that is a night of television. I don't care what NBC or ABC or QVC is going to roll-out, there is nothing that will stack up against this night hour-for-hour.

So, to sum up, last night gave me two electric basketball games and one overtime hockey thriller. And, though these games are ones that I would have been interested in pre-strike I doubt that I would have caught most of them. I woud likely have gotten home from work, forgotten that they were on and been absorbed by whatever "was on." I could have ended up watching House instead of the Beanpot. Can you imagine, missing that great game because some loopy patient forced House to make the toughest decision of his career?

However, with nothing "on" I have become more attuned to all the things I had been missing. All the things that had really been going on all along. So, in a way, I (and, maybe, you) have become like some sports-watching doppelganger for the superhero Daredevil, who after being blinded as youngster develops his other senses en route to a career as a famous crime-fighter. For me, the writers' strike is like the childhood accident and my awareness of all the great sports on television is like his ability to battle villians. The similarities are uncanny.

For example, tonight I know that I can watch Denver play Miami or Atlanta play Detroit, I can check out a Big Ten tilt between Michigan State and Purdue, or the SEC meeting between Kentucky and Vandy. Or, maybe, I'll see what games from this weekend are being replayed on FoxSoccer Channel. It would nice if the Arsenal/Blackburn game was on. If not, I can see what comes in the mail from Netflix. Hopefully, We Own the Night and Once, will be in the mailbox when I get home. One of those may be for Valentine's Day and the other may not.

Either way, I look forward to enjoying another night of choice and live-action before the sitcoms, dramedies and procedural cop shows take over again. I look forward to at least one more night of real, as opposed to "reality," drama and entertainment before the laugh tracks attack.

Tuesday's Starting Five

1. Stephen Jackson. Leading a monumental comeback against the Wiz, Action Jackson had 41 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter. A few punches to the face of a fan have made a lot of people overlook how good this guy is. He is as fierce a competitor as there is in the league today and he has a great sense of the moment. Just ask the Spurs about that 2003 championship that Jackson helped them win.

2. Nick Petrecki. The Boston College freshman defenseman skated onto the ice last night having never scored in a collegiate game. By the time he skated off he had netted two, including the OT winner in the Beanpot Final against Harvard. This game showcased the best of college hockey: up-and-down play, changing momentum, some officiating controversy and lots of goals. BC prevailed 6-5 in OT after toppling Boston University in OT last week to advance to the Final of the annual tournament that pits Boston's Big 4 hockey schools against one another.

3. Stan Van Gundy. The other VG called out his All-Star center last night after a dissapointing loss to the Cavs. Lamenting Dwight Howard's lack of focus during the postgame presser, Van Gundy said:
"To me, it's a matter of focus. His focus is on the offensive end -- he gets discouraged when he doesn't get the ball. I know the numbers prove that what we need him to focus on to win is defense and rebounding. But that's not what he wants to do right now, and so we've got a little bit of a conflict."
Personally, I love this. This is coaching. Van Gundy would go on to explain that the Magic have a dominant record whenever Howard blocks a certain, and very attainable, number of shots. He was using the media in a constructive way to motivate his player. Meanwhile, Isiah is telling passers-by in Midtown that Curry is a lock for MVP this season.

4. Larry Hughes. The "other guy" that needs to come through for Lebron to win a title this season had 40 points last night in a victory over the Magic. Is this a predictor of what we'll see in the postseason? Or, just the game Hughes needed to have in order to entice the Nets to take him in a deal sending Kidd to Cleveland?

5. Richard Zednick. He's the hockey player who got his throat slit the other night by a teammates skate. Thankfully, he is reportedly doing okay after surgery. That was a lot of blood on the ice...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Weekend at Jimmy's

(or What Transpired w/ Lil Dolan’s Knicks this weekend)

Friday Night: Knicks vs. Spurs, Loss (93-99)
Unless you watched this game, which you probably didn’t because it was Friday night and you have a life, then you won’t likely believe this, but THE KNICKS OUTPLAYED THE SPURS. The Knicks were crisper, they were smarter, they were playing harder and they were just all-around better. Except when it mattered the most. Except in the last 2 seconds and the overtime period. Other than that, the Knicks were the better team. First, they built up a big lead by pushing the ball and helping on defense, going ahead by 18 in the third quarter. But, more importantly, the repelled the comeback bid by the Spurs early in the fourth. San Antonio took the lead and, though they previously would have wilted, the Knicks took it right back with Lee and Crawford starring. They seemingly had learned how to take a punch and led by 3 with 7 seconds to play. As the clock was about to hit zero Ginobli found an inexplicably wide-open Michael Finley in the corner. Of course, he drained the three and the Knicks were beaten before overtime even began.
This could have been the most deflating loss of the season. Only because it got your hopes so high before dashing them. I went directly up to my computer afterwards to try to put it into words but I couldn’t even figure out where to start. With the offensive execution down the stretch? With Balkman’s defensive lapse in the final seconds? With the way these guys are so snakebit? All I could do was take some pain medication and watch a western. Percosset and 3:10 to Yuma. Yes and yes. I tried again on Saturday morning to write something entertaining or enlightening about the game but was still at a loss. Just like the team.

Saturday Night: Knicks vs. Bucks (Win, 99-98)
I was dreading this game. I was thinking it would the away-loss to pair with last week’s home-loss to Clippers. In other words, the game against a lackluster opponent that we give away after a gut-wrenching loss to a quality opponent(s) that we should have beat. Everything looked on-book with the Knicks trailing big in the third. Even after the Knicks came back to tie late in the fourth the loss still seemed in the offing as the Bucks had the ball with about 7 seconds to go. Yet, they didn’t hit the winner in the waning moments. Shockingly. That gives us two wins over Milwaukee by a combined 4 points. So, no matter what happens the rest of the way, we can at least rest easy knowing that we seem to have this Milwaukee Bucks issue handled.

Monday's Starting Five

1. Paul Pierce. Yesterday the Celtics were Pierce’s team again. KG is still on the shelf and Tim Duncan and the Spurs were in town (after narrowly escaping the Garden with a W on Friday night). The Truth had 35 points as his team defeated the champs.

2. Adrian Peterson. Apparently nobody told All Day that nobody has watched the Pro Bowl since the height of Zubaz pants. Not knowing this he, according to published reports, ran roughshod over the AFC and helped lead the NFC to a come-from-behind victory.

3. Jason Kidd. With future employer Mark Cuban in the house, Kidd put on a vintage display, including 14 dimes, as his Nets upset the Mavs in the Swamp.

4. Tyler Hansbrough. I must admit that I’m not a huge fan of the Big Brough. I saw him play during the NCAAs last year in E. Rutherford and I was shocked by how poorly he moved if you pulled him more than seven foot from the hoop. It was shocking how little handle he had and how clunky his movements where. Of course, as flawed as he may be elsewhere on the court, he is 10x as dominant in the paint. Exhibit A is the 39-point and 13 rebound effort he had against Clemson yesterday. To top it off, he made 17 of 19 from the charity stripe. Perhaps he is much better than I give him credit for…

5. Washington. The Huskies SHOCKED No. 4 UCLA last night. Nobody saw this coming, as UCLA was being tipped as the “true” No. 1 and Washington was floundering. The most emblematic moment of the game was when Tim Morris of Washington, who was attempting to inbound the ball, pegged the ball directly off the face of a Bruins defender rather than be called for a 5-seconds violation. He didn’t throw it off his leg or his back. He reared back and threw it directly off his face. Clearly, Washington was not awed by the Bruins. That game was why the conference season is so important and why no one ever gives Memphis too much credit come bracket-time.

Benched. Lebron. Yes, his team was getting beat. Badly. Yes, the wood-shedding was nationally televised on the first post-NFL Sunday. However, LBJ still shouldn’t have sulked in the corner while his team huddled during a timeout in the fourth. If he wants to continue his dominance and take his game and his profile to the next level (the last MJ level above him) then he not only needs to be in that huddle but he needs to be at the center and taking control of it.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Around the Internets

Some of you may have already seen this on Deadspin, but I had to put it up. Some vaguely identified Giants fan got himself from City Hall all the way to the field at Giants Stadium on Victory Parade Tuesday. Not impressed? Well, he did it with the team and on the team bus. He's got a ton of pictures to prove this amazing story...

...Sometimes after enough time passes tragedy becomes comedy. That may be true, but I still don't think that the seven worst Mets losses of 2006 are funny at all...

...A Philly sports blogger (who has made quite a name for himself) actually got an interview with the Sixers GM. Does anyone have Isiah's number? I'd love to give him a call...