Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday Schadenfreude

Monday's Starting Five

1. David Lee. As all talk regarding the New York Knickerbockers dealt with everything but the games themselves, the most workman-like player on the roster kept plugging away and had as big a game as any forward is likely to have this season. Lee scored a career-high 37 points, grabbed 21 rebounds, stole three balls from the opposition, dished out two assists and blocked one shot on Saturday night against the Golden State Warriors at the Garden. And, yes, the Warriors play less defense than Frederic Weis's countrymen. But still, 37 and 21 is good night's work, especially for a player who has been lost in the shuffle so far this season. Lee is a restricted free agent at the end of the 2008-2009 campaign and the decision to resign him (or not) is going to be a tricky one for the 2010-conscious club. And, nights like Saturday make it much more likely that some other club is going to be willing to overpay for the hard-working and highly-marketable (read: white) fan favorite.

2. Jay Cutler. The raindrops moved through the leaden November sky in the Meadowlands like overused disposable razor blades. They bludgeoned and pulled at your face as they made their way to the waterlogged turf. As yellow rain-slickered fans huddled around shared hot chocolates and garbage bag wearing louts drank themselves towards the warmth of oblivion, the young QB for the Broncos seemed as calm and comfortable as if he were tossing the ball around before the Pro Bowl. In Hawaii. The third-year signal caller out of Vanderbilt took an overwhelming amount of snaps in the shotgun and cut the Jets secondary to ribbons (357 yards passing and two TDs) and made two big plays for every one opportunity the Jets squandered. He scrambled. He threw back across his body. He found the open man. He made the plays that mattered. And, his team won a key road game that many had pencilled into the loss column. And, with San Diego losing at home to the Atlanta Falcons, the Broncos are on a straight shot to the division crown.

3. Stephon Marbury. Within hours he should be gone. He's a pariah in his hometown. And he hasn't even been allowed to do the one thing in this world that he seems to understand how to do with any competency. But, in this morning's Post are some words of his that ring true (and angry). And actually make sense. Marbury, who has long since become incomprehensible, finally stood up for himself, calling out teammates and his current coach for their treatment of him. He said all the things that he hadn't said during training camp when he was trying to be a company man and must have assumed that once the games started that his play on the court would solve all problems. As it has for most of his life. But, he never got on the court and the problems only mounted. And, still he remained (mostly) silent. But, now with all relations unalterably damaged and the buyout of his contract imminent Marbury has spoken his mind on what went down this season:
"I sat there for three weeks and didn't say one word... I didn't hear one of my teammates say, 'Why isn't Stephon Marbury playing? This is a good system for him, even to play with the second unit and bring more firepower.'"
"When things got bad and then worse, guys like Quentin Richardson say, 'I don't consider him a teammate. He let his teammates out to dry.' He didn't care I was his teammate when I was banished."
"Mike had no intentions of me playing basketball here... He gave me straight disrespect. It was beyond disrespect. He put in [Danilo] Gallinari, whose back is messed up and [who] didn't participate at all in training camp ahead of me [in the season opener]. ... That's saying, 'I'm letting you have it right now.' He was sticking it to me. ... He [D'Antoni] knew I was in my contract year and did everything they asked me to do. He's not trying to help me. He's trying to hurt me."
No matter what you think of Marbury, there is no doubt that he got a bad deal this season. You can chalk it up to karma or whatever but he still got jobbed by D'Antoni, who clearly came to the Big Apple with his mind made up about Steph. Even if his words are less than artful (he's biggest weakness is a criminal lack of savvy when it comes to managing the media and his public image), there is really no disputing the truth of what he says. Again, you can (and will) say he deserved what happened for accumulated assheadedness, but Marbury really did get screwed this year.

4. Chris Duhon and Devin Harris. These two second-choice point guards (having come in under less than ideal situations to replace brighter (but not smarter) lights in Stephon Marbury and Jason Kidd respectively) put on first-rate showings over the long holiday weekend. The much maligned Duhon dished out a franchise-record 22 assists on Saturday night against the Warriors. Many of those dimes went to David Lee on pick-and-rolls. The following night, Harris scored a career-high 47 points in leading the Nets past the Suns in Phoenix.

5. The Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, et al. Any pro hoops team looking to bolster offensive production please dial 1-800 MAR-BURY. Operators will soon be available to handle your calls. Please hold the line until someone is available. The 31-year-old guard can run the point and be play the 2 and he's got something to prove after being jettisoned by his hometown club after a bizarre and unsatisfying five seasons. For his career he's a shade under 20 points and 8 assists per game. There aren't too many of those guys to be had in December. Or ever.