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.