Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday's Starting Five

1. Chris Paul. He's got the Hornets a game back of the Rockets (and tied with the Lakers) for first place in the West with a chance to prove it on the floor when the two teams meet up this week. I know that he a little guy and that he is young and that he isn't on television every single day and that you might not even know what shoes he wears or what soft drink he promotes but HE IS THE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER in the NBA right now. He may not be the most physically awe-inspiring (Lebron) or the most likely to commit a heinous sex crime or score 100 points (Kobe), but he is without a shadow of a doubt the player in the league who is most valuable to his team on a nightly basis.

2. The Orlando Magic. Led by Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard the Magic toppled the Lebronaliers last night. The team that no one gives much credit to just became the third team to clinch a playoff spot. And the beat the Cavs, a team that everyone can't stop talking about, to do it. They've now taken 2 of 3 from Cleveland thus far this season and they've built a 10.5 game lead between the two teams. It wasn't too long ago that Stan Van Gundy had the Miami Heat to Game 7 of the 2005 Eastern Conference Finals. This guy knows how to coach 'em up and this team is going to be dangerous in the playoffs if Lewis and Turkoglu can hit from deep like they were last night. If they do than the Lebronaliers just don't have the firepower to keep up.

3. The Atlanta Hawks. They are not an exceedingly good basketball team. In fact, they are nine games below .500 for the season and have only won four out of their last ten. However, three of those four wins have come in their last three games. They are seemingly staking a claim to the last playoff spot in the East by beating the teams that they are supposed to beat. Teams like the Knicks. And, the Heat. And the Clippers. Ever since Mike Bibby has shown up in the ATL this team has seemed to gain a better sense of where it was and what it was doing. They know that if they can win the winnable games on their schedule that they can make the playoffs. And, in a town that is suffering through the league's longest playoff drought (9 years) that is something.

4. The First-Time Dancers. American University. University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Portland State. This is their week. They'll likely be back on campus by Saturday morning at the very latest after bowing out in their Thursday/Friday games. And that game will likely seem to go from opening tip to final whistle in the burst of a single flashbulb. So, right now is there time. Now is the time they walk around campus and are heroes. These are their shining moments as well-wishers lineup in dining halls and in the dorms.

5. The Boston Celtics. Though I suspect that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are not actually Irish they played with some luck and some pluck last night in erasing a twenty-point deficit to steal a win off the Spurs in San Antonio. In a game pitting the two favorites to reach the Finals (though the Spurs seem intent on surrendering that status in the West) it was worth noting that new acquistion Sam Cassell came off the bench for the C's to score 17 and hit the shot that gave them their first lead of the game down stretch.

Benched: Dodgertown. After sixty years, the purest and most idyllic Spring Training experience has shuttered its doors. Located in Vero Beach, Florida, Dodgertown was the home of the Brooklyn and then Los Angeles Dodgers from 1948 until yesterday. The Dodgers are finally moving their Spring Training to the West Coast so that they can be closer to their year-round home. During World War II the space had been a naval air station for the US Navy and after the war the Dodgers set up their spring training facilities on the site. The strange beginnings make it a place like no other in existence. The fields have no dugouts and the players, fans and media all could mingle in a way that gave a unique intimacy to the place. Players and coaches could often be seen getting around the facility on bicycles and were traditionally caught up in the time warp that was Dodgertown. Unfortunately, I never got down there even though I first heard what a great trip it was a few years ago. The word on the street is that the Orioles will move in to the space, so maybe we can all head down to Angelos town next Spring?

The First-Ever, Best-Ever WWOD? Pool!

Ladies, gentlemen, women of questionable moral fiber and scoundrels of less than honorable professions: you are cordially invited to participate in the inaugural March Madness pool hosted by What Would Oakley Do?

The 2008 WWOD? NCAA Tournament Pool is based over at the Yahoo Fantasy Sports site. Head over there and click on the "Join a Group" option. After selecting that option (I think you have to do that twice), you will then be prompted to enter a League ID number and a password. Do exactly that.

League ID #:107981
Password: kennyskywalker

Joining this league is the best decision you can make today. There will be excitement. There will be drama. There will be daily coverage of the tournament and the fate of the swimmers in the pool each and every day in this space. There will be camaraderie amongst those whose brackets quickly fade to nothing like the frost on a mid-March morning. There will be ample opportunity for gloating and obnoxious showboating by those with the foresight to know that former walk-on turned superstar Adam Emmenecker is going to lead Drake to an upset over UCLA, which will open up the door to Xaxier in the West Regional which will, in turn, clear the way for Texas to descend on San Antonio and survive to that last Monday night of the season.

And, since this is an above-ground pool, there will be no entrance fee required for admission. There will be no gambling and squandered money that could be better squandered on $10 Knicks tickets, scratch-offs, late-night trips to the diner for cheese-fries with gravy or mid-afternoon visits by the Ice Cream Man. But fear not those hungry for prizes and validation, this is no pointless endeavor on your part as the winner will still be receiving the bestest and the coolest prize offered anywhere in the wider world!

Is it money? No.
Is it courside seats? Nope.
Is it a date with one of the Knicks City Dancers? Not even close.

The first-prize for winning this year's pool isn't any of those things. It's even better. It's something harder to come by. It's something so special and unique that you didn't even know you wanted it until now. The first prize for winning the 2008 WWOD? NCAA Tournament Pool is your very own, limited-edition, commemorative What Would Oakley Do? t-shirt.

This high-quality item features orange screened printing on both sides of a heavy duty blue t-shirt. The shirt is available in large, extra large and also in large. The front features the name of your very favoritest website and eight images depicting some of the many things that Oakley may actually be doing at any given time. The back features a large number 34 and the web address of the site printed just above it. This shirt is fresh off the runways of Milan and Paris and could be something that is embarrassing your wife or girlfriend in just a matter of weeks. Don't miss out!

So, hurry up and join the Pool. The water is terrific. And, so is the shirt.