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Stampler's NBA Preview Spectacular, Part III: The (B)East

I won't spend much time in the way of an intro, I still have a massive West preview to do. I'll just say I believe in my heart that Miami won't make the Finals and my brain can make an argument for it as well. I think the Heat, Magic and Celtics are all fairly equal, and the likely winner of the conference will be the team who only has to play one of the others in the playoffs instead of both.

This is why winning home court will be so critical. The team that finishes with the best record will have a relatively easier match-up with Milwaukee or Chicago in the second round while the second and third teams will have to face each other. I'm of the opinion that Boston and Miami will take so much out of one another that Orlando will be fresher going into the Conference Finals.

And if I'm wrong, it's okay. It'll just mean there is no God and that life is meaningless. That's fine too.

1. Orlando Magic

PG           Jameer Nelson      Chris Duhon        Jason Williams

SG           Vince Carter           J.J. Redick

SF            Mickael Pietrus      Quentin Richardson  Stanley Robinson

PF           Rashard Lewis      Ryan Anderson     Brandon Bass

C            Dwight Howard       Marcin Gortat         Daniel Orton

The Cars - "Magic" video (full version) (via dalef77)

I spent a week in Orlando in 1994, right during the famous O.J. Simpson chase. All I remember about the trip was being bored by Disney World (I was 16) and bewildered by the weather. I saw rain in the sky but never felt it. it was so hot that the rain drops evaporated before they reached the ground. The NBA Finals (Houston-New York) was one of the worst ever, while the NHL Finals (Vancouver-New York) was one of the best, so you can guess which one I paid more attention to. I was rooting for the Rangers, but Pavel Bure was so exciting and charismatic, he just about won me over. People think who Alex Ovechkin is hot shit haven't watched hockey for long. He had NOTHING on Pavel. The Rangers won an exciting Game 7, and I saw grown men crying when Mark Messier lifted the Stanley Cup, because it was the first one the Rangers since 1940 (they haven't won since).

I really hope to be experiencing that feeling for myself with the San Francisco Giants in about ten days or so.

Anyway, the music video works on so many levels. The song is called "Magic," it's about a guy who can walk on water (Dwight Howard is the most prominent Bible-thumper in the league) and all the extras in the video look like Orlando residents. You gotta love rock 'n' roll. A guy who looks like Ric Ocasek can land a supermodel like Paulina Porizkova, who was 19 when they met (he was 35).

Some would argue that it will take some major hocus pocus to get this team past the Heat and Celtics, but I think Orlando has some inherent advantages going into the season. For one, their roster has been together longer, so these guys have developed some chemistry. Secondly, they have the best coach, as long as the players listen to him and quit making Ron Jeremy jokes. Finally, it looks as though Miami's off-season shenanigans inspired Howard to finally take his craft seriously and he worked with Hakeem Olajuwon over the summer to develop his low post game. If he even refines a couple back to the basket moves, he becomes unguardable.

In Rashard Lewis, J.J. Redick, Mickael Pietrus and Quentin Richardson, the Madge have a lot  of guys who can knock down threes, with Redick in particular taking a big step forward last year. No matter how much the NBA has shifted into a game dominated by 6'8" guys, you're still better off having a superduperstar who's a big than one who's a swingman. Howard has always gotten people open shots, the challenge for him will be to dominate when he's not being doubled. Van Gundy has to make it a priority to force it to him early and often in games to get opposing centers in foul trouble. He has to be the number one option every time down the floor, period.

Besides Howard, their season will come down, as always to Vince Carter. It's useless to expect him to show up in the playoffs, but he can at least play well enough in the regular season to earn the team a top seed. Jameer Nelson has to step up his game as well. He can't let those match-ups with Rajon Rondo and Jalen Rose be so one-sided.

The bench has a couple of solid points in Chris Duhon and Jason Williams, one of the best backup big men around in Marcin Gortat (who could start for Miami), and the under-utilized Brandon Bass, plus the aforementioned shooters.

On paper these guys are built to beat Miami. But Howard, Lewis, Pietrus, Carter and Nelson have all head their desire and brains questioned at different times. If they can all buy in and play smart and without fear, this team is good enough on paper to win it all. But it's probably a pipe dream.

Three fearless predictions:

1. Howard wins the MVP, despite LeBron's triple-double averages, because he'll lead the Magic to the best record and put up career best scoring numbers, and also because of media resentment toward James.

2. Orlando will set a league record in three point makes.

3. Redick will win the Sixth Man of the Year award.

2. Miami Heat

PG           Mario Chalmers   Carlos Arroyo

SG           Dwyane Wade      Eddie House

SF           LeBron James      James Jones   Jerry Stackhouse  Mike Miller

PF           Chris Bosh           Udonis Haslem   Juwan Howard

C            Joel Anthony       Zydrunas Ilgauskas    Jamaal Magloire  Dexter Pittman

LeBron James 2010 New Nike commercial "Rise" (via whywouldifoolyou)

Well wasn't this commercial just ADORABLE.

No, LeBron, this is what you should've done.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I'd just like to announce that I've decided to join the Miami Heat. I'd like to say it was a difficult decision, and one that I've spent many hours weighing the pros and cons about, but once realized that Pat Riley could circumvent the salary cap to get me, Wade and Bosh on the same squad, it took me about three seconds to agree. I mean it was a complete no-brainer.

I realize that some people will be upset at me and feel that I am abandoning Cleveland. To these people, I ask a simple question. Have any of you ever been to Cleveland? This town SUCKS. The only people who live here are folks who have NO BETTER OPTIONS. I can't stress that enough. NO. BETTER. OPTIONS. I defy any straight 25-year old man to tell me with a straight face he'd rather live and work in Cleveland than Miami if salary isn't an issue. Hell, I defy any gay 25-year old man to tell me that. I'm gonna sleep with ten women a night who have better bodies than the comics on Playboy, and that'll be on game nights. I'll really go nuts on off-nights.

To the folks who expected me to be loyal to the city, I humbly ask, at what point in time did I ever give you a hint I give a shit about Cleveland? When the Cowboys visited the Browns, I was on Dallas' sideline. I wore a Yankees cap in Cleveland FOR A PLAYOFF GAME. I mean, holy shit, anyone home?

'But what about your teammates and coaches?' you ask. Let me crystal clear: My teammates SUCKED. Mo Williams is awful. Antawn Jamison is a choker and soft. Delonte West is a disease-ridden psychopath who gave my momma the herp. The only reason he's still alive is because she explicitly warned me to not harm him, but I might still give him an 'accidental' elbow or two if he's ever on the court with me. Our second best player was freakin' Anderson Varejao, for God sakes, and he can't even shoot or dribble. Shaq? SHAQ WAS A USELESS FAT TURD.

I tried all that phony picture taking, great camaraderie stuff to boost their confidence and make them think they weren't terrible, but that shit doesn't work in the playoffs. I pretty much quit halfway through the playoffs and faked an elbow injury once I realized there's no way we'd win. I wasn't about to go down with the ship with those losers again. Besides, it's not like I respected Mike Brown. That guy is a CLOWN. I can't believe he ever got a head coaching job. We might as well have held a promotion where we choose somebody from the stands every night to coach us for a game. There wouldn't have been any difference. I didn't listen to one word that dumbass said since 2007. You'll notice nobody else hired him, right?

In closing I'd just like to say I'm not joining the Heat to chase rings. The truth is I really don't care all that much about winning. I mean, if we do, great, yeah, whatever. Mainly I just wanted to leave Cleveland because I hate everything about the city. It's dirty, depressing, and filled with stupid and ugly people. A '4' in Miami would be the hottest model in Cleveland. I hated my teammates and coaches and wish them all terrible luck in the future and nothing would make me happier than if the Cavs franchise were contracted.

Thank you and God bless me."

LeBron, Wade and Bosh aside, the Heat feature two starters in Joel Anthony and Mario Chalmers who might as well be cardboard cutouts for all they'll matter. The former will never have a post up play run for him, while the latter might be the first point guard in NBA history who will go the whole season without collecting an assist.

Their bench is actually a lot more interesting. Ilgauskas can still knock down open 18-footers, House is a streak three point shooter, James Jones has his moments of mediocrity, and Carlos Arroyo can be feisty as long as you surround him four good players. Udonis Haslem is still a starting caliber player when he's not stoned out of his mind, so I could easily see him in the lineup with Bosh moving over to center. Juwan Howard and Jamaal Maglore are a couple of ancient bigs who were signed because apparently Alonzo Mourning and Moses Malone didn't want to come out of retirement.

The guy that really matters for them is Mike Miller. He's gonna miss a couple of months with a foot injury, but he's gonna get a ton of open threes in the playoffs. If he can knock them down at a 40 percent clip, it's going to be hard to beat them. They signed Jerry Stackhouse to hold down the fort in his absence, which gave me yet another reason to hate the team when I already had so many to begin with.

Three Fearless Predictions

1. No, they will not break the '95-96 Bulls record and win 73 games. You'd think the number two seed I gave them would be a dead giveaway there, genius.

2. LeBron will average a triple double, but only because he'll specifically try to. It won't be organic at all.

3. Wade and Bosh will start to resent "King James" by February.

3. Boston Celtics

PG          Rajon Rondo        Delonte West      Avery Bradley

SG          Ray Allen               Nate Robinson    Von Wafer

SF           Paul Pierce          Marquis Daniels    Stephane Lasme

PF          Kevin Garnett         Glen Davis           Luke Harangody

C           Jermaine O'Neal   Jermaine O'Neal  Semih Erden   Kendrick Perkins

Super Bowl XLII - New York Giants vs New England Patriots - THE COMPLETE LAST DRIVE (via JINCHILE)

I dug the '04 Red Sox, but because Major League Baseball are like the Gestapo when it comes to YouTube, I'll post my second favorite all-time Boston sports memory, with the added bonus that it sticks it to Simmons. It's 13:00 minutes long, but man, that was a pretty sweet way to ruin an 18-0 team's shit. If you're like me and enjoy football and also happen to strongly dislike Simmons, I strongly suggest you familiarize yourself with Drew Magary's work on Kissing Suzy Kolber. It's just a savage take down time after time.

I like absolutely NOTHING about these Celtics. There is nothing redeeming about them. Ray Allen is a soft wuss. Rajon Rondo is too busy pretending to be the proverbial "always has a chip on his shoulder" guy to bother learning how to shoot outside of six feet. Even his free throws are worse than Timmy, and he's basically deathly afraid to have the ball late in games because of it. Paul Pierce is a fatty who fakes injuries. He probably poked himself with a needle on a new shirt that one time and then told the police he was stabbed multiple times.

Kevin Garnett is supposedly completely healed from knee injuries now, so expect his trademark intensity to return as he's passing the ball like a hot potato late in close games. I'm sure the fact that he's 34 and that he's played a billion games since he entered the league as basketball's answer to Doogie Howser (well Doogie Howser if he was 6'11 and every other word out of his mouth was "motherfucker") won't matter a bit. Garnett's healthy now and ready to dominate as a fourth option.

Because Kendrick Perkins' knee is messed up, the Celtics signed a couple of washed up O'Neals. Really they were just in the market for one, but they found a two-for-one coupon in their Sunday paper, so why not. Jermaine is occasionally interested in defense, mentally, but the flesh is week. On offense he stopped being relevant ever since his knees went. Shaq meanwhile has become a shameless vagabond, just drifting from franchise to franchise, leaving each situation worse than before he arrived. He's like useless veteran version of Isiah Thomas as an executive. If Shaq joined the Spurs, we'd be a guaranteed lottery team, Manu would go completely bald within two weeks and Tony would demand a trade by January. His little statue meet-n-greet with the fans was just adorable, so I'm sure they'll be forgiving when he does it 75 more times while in uniform.

They have Glen Davis, who is emotionally unstable and more than a little responsible for the abomination that is "The Dougie." Every god damn touchdown in the NFL now, guys are doing the Dougie, and it's really not going to stop until Peyton Hillis or Toby Gerhart try to do it. They lost their best perimeter defender in Tony Allen, but kept Nate Robinson, another Napoleon complex nutcase who helps a team once every ten games and murders them the other nine.

Let's be clear. They signed Delonte "Jaundice" West for one reason and one reason only: To openly get under LeBron's skin. Now I don't know if the rumor about him and LeBron's mom is true, but admit it, if you heard that Gloria James slept with an NBA player, wouldn't your first guess have been Delonte West? It's not something I could see Matt Bonner, for example, doing. Marquis Daniels is still around and he is useless.

I'd be slightly intrigued if Semih Erden got any run, as he was awesome for my Turks during the World Championships, but he won't. Shaq will probably buy him a bunch of suits and hookers and give him some racist demeaning nickname and think he's being "funny."

I think these guys will suffer in the long run for two reasons. One, they're going to be too motivated to compete with Miami in the regular season. That's not a good move for an old team. They played it perfectly last year by loafing the whole season and waking up in May. A team like that, filled with 30-somethings, can't go pedal to the medal for eight months.They'll be toast by February if they tried. I think if Shaq will have ANY value to the team, it will be in convincing the rest of them to take it easy because he knows the other way won't work. Of course, he'll stretch it too far and be completely worthless the whole year.

A bigger issue is the loss of Thibodeau. What kind of defense will Boston play without him, and will Doc Rivers be exposed now that he's gone? I feel like if Chicago could face Boston in the playoffs, they'd just destroy them because of the Thibodeau's knowledge of the Celtics players' tendencies and weaknesses. I suspect that Rivers will try to steer the team away from a match-up with the Bulls as much as he can for this very reason.

Three Fearless Predictions:

1. There will be much Simmons bitching about the team.

2. Shaq free throw misses will be less tolerated here than any other stop he's been, to the point where he'll actually try to make them.

3. Garnett will not get along with either of the O'Neals and take out his frustrations on Big Baby.

 

4. Chicago Bulls

PG         Derrick Rose       C.J. Watson

SG         Ronnie Brewer    Kyle Korver    Keith Bogans

SF          Luol Deng           James Johnson

PF          Carlos Boozer     Taj Gibson

C            Joakim Noah       Kurt Thomas    Omer Asik

1998 NBA Finals - Utah Jazz Vs. Chicago Bulls - Game 6 (via inventoryking)

I chose this clip because 1998 was the last time the Bulls had a team with any expectations at all, and the 2010 edition is pretty stacked. Man, after the non-stop product shilling, the obnoxious Hall of Fame speech, the immature way he lives his life post-retirement, the Hitler 'stache and his disastrous stints as a team executive, sometimes we forget just how ridiculously freakin' good Michael Jordan was at basketball. I mean holy shit, the guy was really something.

Better than Manu? MAYBE.

My pal for life Manoli (who's sure been annoying lately) and I went to Chicago for a couple days last February. That stuff they about the wind? It's no joke. I'm not much of a coffee drinker, but I was mainlining Starbucks those two days. 

I don't remember much about the trip. Giordanos pizza was definitely worth the hype. Simply amazing. We went to a rib place that wasn't as good. In retrospect, should've hit up a steakhouse. We saw Jake Johannsen at a comedy club and he was very funny, which was a welcome relief for the three clowns who served as his warm up acts. I think the gals in that town like to eat and drink. Didn't see too many hotties from what I recall. Not even bartenders. I'm no looker myself, so I could deal with it, but I'm not sure I could survive that weather. I can't believe how people live anywhere other than where I live, where it's between 55 and 85 every day. The Bay Area makes you very fickle about temperatures.You people that put up with 98% humidity and tornadoes and snow and sleet are all crazy.

Speaking of crazy, the Bulls still have hung on to Noah, despite many trade rumors involving superduperstars. I wouldn't want him to be my roommate or anything, but I like watching the guy play. His effort is noticeable, and in the NBA effort always stands out. Noah has already shut up a lot of so-called draft "experts" who said he'd never amount to anything, and he's already one of the best big men in the league, even though he's really a power forward.

Boozer is kind of his antithesis. He's a gifted scorer, but doesn't rebound as consistently as he should and doesn't guard people. Now that he's gone, people will see how overrated he was when the Jazz play just as well with Al Jefferson replacing him. Still, with Noah protecting him on defense and the boards, Boozer can be an asset for the Bulls and give them something they haven't had. Deng is a guy who should be better than he is, but something's always missing with him. Is it heart? Health? Or just a reliable jumper? He added a three pointer to his arsenal for the first time last year, and he'll need to use it more with Kirk Hinrich and John Salmons gone and Boozer clogging the middle.

Boozer was one of just three signings that plied their trade for Utah last season. Guards Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver both enjoyed good seasons for them and I don't see any reason why that can't continue in Chicago. Brewer is still young and developing and he can thrive as half court as a fourth or fifth option, while Korver figures to get a ton of open looks from three off Rose's penetrations.

Ultimately the team will go as far as Rose takes them, and if he can knock down his jumper consistently, he's pretty much unguardable. The Bulls are one of the few teams out there to rival the pure talent of Miami or the Lakers, and under Tom Thibodeau they certainly won't lack for X's and O's, especially on the defensive end. Will the career assistant have the charisma and people skills to get guys to buy in? That remains to be seen. So few coaches in this league have the players' respect.

The bench is crazy deep. Kurt Thomas is a valuable pro, in the right role. My homey Omer Asik has some skills and can block shots. Taj Gibson's pretty decent and C.J. Watson is a great backup point. They even have "The Centerpiece" and if Thibodeau has any sense at all, he'll never play. 

The Bulls are good, young, athletic, versatile, and look like they've got all the good pieces. Eventually this will be an excellent team. Can they put it all together quickly enough to challenge the big boys in May? I doubt it. It's a damn shame they're destined to have a first round match-up with Milwaukee. I'd really like to see both of them fire their best bolts at Miami and Boston.

Three Fearless Predictions:

1. With LeBron taking some of Wade's touches, Rose will have the best stats of any guard in the East.

2. Noah will edge out Horford and Bogut for an All-Star spot.

3. After a rough start, they'll have the best record in the East from the All-Star break on.

5. Milwaukee Bucks

PG        Brandon Jennings   Keyon Dooling    Earl Boykins

SG        John Salmons    Chris Douglas-Roberts   Michael Redd

SF        Carlos Delfinio    Corey Maggette    Darington Hobson

PF       Drew Gooden  Luc Richard Mbah a Moute Ersan Ilyasova Jon Brockman Larry Sanders

C         Andrew Bogut

Laverne & Shirley Theme (via lem144)

Save us Milwaukee, you're our only hope.

With the Axis of Eeeevil over at Miami, The Big Statue at Boston (as well as all their resident fucktards on the roster and in the media), and Vince Carter sure to disappear when it matters for Orlando, the Bucks might be the only good and likable squad in the East, depending on your feelings about the Bulls. Of course, them advancing far in the playoffs would give David Stern a heart attack. I mean, can you imagine a Spurs-Bucks Finals? While we're cackling with delight, league executives would be blowing their brains out before Pop's first sideline interview.

Milwaukee isn't known for much besides beer, brats and the Brewers, three things that I've never cared for. Green Bay gets a lot of attention, but that's a whole other part of the state, while the University of Wisconsin is in the state capitol of Madison, I believe. The city showed last year that the fans will come out and support the team if you give them a good product, so why not Milwaukee? Let them have some success. It's been a long time since the Paul Pressey/Sidney Moncrief/Ricky Pierce/Terry Cummings days. Back then Don Nelson even cared about defense a little!

Sure, the team has a couple of dopes. Who doesn't? I can't believe they're seriously contemplating starting that fraud, Drew Gooden over my boy Ersan Ilyasova who was a stud for most of the World Championships. If Scott Skiles is really a good coach, he won't let that continue for long. John Salmons has had a checkered past, but he might relish being a crunch time scorer on a well-rounded club. I've come around on Carlos Delfino, but not enough to think he should be starting over Corey Maggette. I suppose Skiles is doing it that way because he and Salmons are too similar and you want guys that complement one another.

I really like the team's point guard situation. Pros regardless of sport make their biggest leap between their first and second seasons, so Jennings can really be something this year if he spent the off-season working on his game. Dooling and Boykns are solid backups. Bogut is one of the most underrated players in the league. Maybe he's not the number one pick that Tim Duncan or Shaq were, but he's no Joe Smith either. He's a borderline all-star, just a notch below Dwight Howard and Brook Lopez. Even Chris Douglas-Roberts and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute are useful players, though annoying as hell to type.

It's crazy that just a couple of seasons ago Michael Redd was all this woeful franchise had, and now they're basically paying him to stay away because they're concerned how he'll affect their chemistry. It's crazy Milwaukee is the last bastion of hope in the Eastern Conference. Sports are weird.

Three fearless predictions:

1. Between Maggette and Salmons, one of them will disappoint and possibly wig out.

2. Jennings will feature 13 different hair styles over the course of the season.

3. Drew Gooden will be benched and probably traded.

6. Atlanta Hawks

PG      Mike Bibby         Jeff Teague

SG      Joe Johnson     Jamal Crawford       Jordan Crawford    Pape Sy

SF       Marvin Williams   Maurice Evans

PF      Josh Smith         Josh Powell

C        Al Horford           Zaza Pachulia    Jason Collins     Etan Thomas

The last time anything interesting involving the Hawks happened that didn't involve Dominique Wilkins.

Manu Ginobili Scores 24 Straight Points Agaist the Hawks 22/02/07 (via Chasky33)

Can you believe how gleefully these guys re-signed Joe Johnson after he crapped the bed in the playoffs against Orlando? In the four games he scored 51 points on 58 shots and shot 29.8% and the Hawks got blown out all four games by a combined 483 points. So they reward him with a 6-year, nine billion dollar* contract.

*To be fair, that's gross, not net, as in it's gross they paid so much money to a guy who can't find the net.

Charles Barkley calls Tim "Groundhog Day" but the Hawks I think are a far better example of middling consistency. Seemingly every year since my childhood this team has been associated with high-flying swing men, chuckers, little regard for defense or interior play, and early playoff exits. A successful season in Atlanta is making the second round. A poor season is missing the playoffs altogether by a few games. There are no soaring highs and no crushing lows. Ironically, for a home arena nicknamed "The Highlight Factory," the Hawks are just one heaping pile of meh. Josh Smith throws down some vicious dunks on one end and blocks a lot of shots on the other, but his passion is not found elsewhere on the roster. It's just a talented playground team, like they've always been.

Even their uniforms and logo leave me cold. The Hawks I grew up with had one of the best set of duds in the league, with a sweet logo. Now they're just red, white and blue, like everyone else, and their logo is stupid. It's so fitting that all these shirts have the "PLAYER" as their surname, because this is the most generic franchise in the NBA.

Horford is pretty good, but I don't know how much he wants to be great and how much his teammates want him to be great. I feel he should have the ball a lot more. Marvin Williams should be better than he is, considering he was drafted ahead of Chris Paul. He's Just A Guy. Smith is a dynamic player, but there's something wrong with the franchise if he's the power forward. I think Pachulia should start at five, Horford at four, Smith at three and Williams should be on the bench, alongside Jamal Crawford. Mike Bibby is an awful, awful defender, and I think it's an indictment on the lack of quality point guards in the league that he is still an established starter.

They don't really have any bigs of note among the reserves, unless a terrible poetry jam breaks out, where judges award bonus points for terrible hair. If that happens, then the Hawks have a huge asset in Etan Thomas.

The Hawks go about seven or eight deep, so any injury will be a crusher. But really, what does it matter? They won't beat anybody good anyway. It's kind of a shame considering how passionate and enthusiastic their fan base is, right?

My biggest question concerning the Hawks is what their record would be if Atlanta didn't have such a thriving strip club scene. I feel like that dynamic singlehandedly gives them fifteen extra home wins per year.

Three fearless predictions:

1. Joe Johnson will spend the year wistfully watching Miami Heat highlights and sighing.

2. One day, for a goof, eight of their players will switch uniforms during a game. None of their fans or broadcasters will notice.

3. Zaza Pachulia will flip out one night, just because he's so terribly lonely.

7. Philadelphia 76ers 

PG      Jrue Holiday         Lou Williams       Chris Quinn

SG      Andre Iguodala    Evan Turner         Jodie Meeks

SF      Thaddeus Young  Andres Nocioni   Jason Kapono

PF      Elton Brand           Darius Songaila   Craig Brackins

C        Spencer Hawes   Marreese Speights

Michael Vick Hurt..Ribs and Chest Injury..Redskins vs. Eagles 2010 (via BSOUncut)

As an Eagles fan I'm very conflicted these days. I've always, always despised him, even before all the dog fighting news broke out, and I've always thought he was a fraud as a quarterback, a guy who had no idea how to play if you took away his running lanes.

I don't know if prison matured him or if Andy Reid somehow taught him how to play, but he's been pretty bad ass this season when he's played. The above clip shows him getting hurt four weeks ago, on a run, but here's one of him throwing it and stuff.

On one hand the guy has served his time and our society says people deserve a second chance. On the other hand, some crimes are unforgivable and what this guy did was some truly heinous, disgusting, evil stuff.

The Eagles signed Vick to be like their third string QB last year out of prison, and while I definitely was against the move, he didn't play a whole lot so it didn't matter one way or the other. In the off-season they dumped longtime starter Donovan McNabb (THANK GOD) and it looked like they were ready to turn over the reins to starter-in-waiting Kevin Kolb. But then Kolb got hurt in the first game (and played poorly while he was in there) and Vick played great for two-and-a-half games so coach Reid scrapped all the rebuilding talk and declared Vick the starter.

But then Vick got hurt and Kolb played well in two straight wins. It really looked like he was poised to win the job back for good... and then he played like crap at Tennessee. Now the team has a bye week, and Reid has already announced that Vick will start the next game.

Should I be happy about this? Pissed? I think I just want the team to move forward and build around Kolb, but Vick has undeniably been better so far. A small homerish part of me thinks he could lead the team to the Super Bowl in an awful NFC. My heart tells me karma will smite him, and by extension the team, but good. Being an Eagles fan is pure hell.

It makes watching the Spurs so much easier. Our three best players have been our three best players forever, and they have their respective strengths and weaknesses that are never gonna change. Tim is gonna stink at free throws and throw up weak shots at the rim. Manu is gonna get hurt at various times, make some Brett Favre-like turnovers, float too much in games in quarters 1-3, and then go insane trying to win them in the fourth. Tony will make crazy layups, shoot some ghastly jumpers, play awful defense, and hog the ball.

The Eagles? Who the hell knows.

Okay, now that I got my obligatory Eagles rant out of my system, let's talk Sixers. Did ya see that Iverson got signed by a Turkish team? I predict he'll gain 20 pounds in two months.

I don't know a thing about the basketball club, but the Besiktas soccer team wears black and white and it the third biggest soccer team there behind Galatasaray (red and yellow) and Fenerbache (blue and yellow). All three are based in Istanbul. My dad's side of the family were Fenerbache fans. My mom's side rooted for Galatasaray. I had an uncle who was a Besiktas fan, and was a top executive of the Panda Ice Cream company. He died a few years ago, but Facebook still asks me to friend him.

As for the current Sixers, I'm hearing Evan Turner already looks crappy. That can't be good for a number two pick. I'm gonna take a glass half full attitude with him though and wait til I see him play a few games, or at least once against the Spurs. Hard to believe he's one bench already. Can't they put Iguodala at the three, Young at the four and Brand at the five? If ever a roster was built for Tinyball, it's this one, no? Is Spencer Hawes really someone who deserves a lot of playing time? Speights is better than him anyway, right?

The Sixers collection of dunkers is reminiscent of the Kings. In the West they'd have no shot, but in the East they can finish anywhere from sixth to 12th. I like their bench, if Nocioni ever finds himself and plays the way he does for Argentina. As long as Turner can give them anything and Brand can find a way to stay on the court, these guys should be competitive enough to win 40 or so games.

HOWEVUH... the hiring of Doug Collins does nothing for me. Is there a less inspiring, bigger retread in the league? Collins and Byron Scott are like Bruce Willis and Katherine Heigl. They don't seem to understand that it's okay to turn jobs down.

Three Fearless Predictions:

1. Evan Turner will make at least Second Team All-Rookie.

2. Spencer Hawes will not last the whole year as a starter.

3. Elton Brand will play less than 70 games.

8. Charlotte Bobcats

PG       D.J. Augustin        Shaun Livingston  Sherron Collins

SG       Stephen Jackson   Gerald Henderson   Matt Caroll

SF      Gerald Wallace      Eduardo Najera      Dominic McGuire

PF      Boris Diaw              Tyrus Thomas         Derrick Brown

C       Nazr Mohammad    DeSagna Diop       Kwame Brown

The Cure : Charlotte Sometimes : Charlotte, NC 6.16.08 (via dancexdigital)

The Cure playing Charlotte Sometimes, in Charlotte. IT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND.

In one part of the lyric Robert Smith says, "tears are pouring down her face," but in another part he says "... but Charlotte did not cry." Always bugged me about that song. WHICH IS IT YOU FAT BASTARD?

I think we can agree that far and away the most interesting thing about the Bobcats is that for the better part of the summer Michael Jordan was rockin' a Hitler mustache. Well, maybe rockin' is the wrong verb there. I don't want to make it sound like emulating Hitler in anyway is a good thing. I'd like to think we're all on consensus that genocide if very bad. But still, it begs the question: Was he completely oblivious to what was going on on his upper lip or is Michael Jordan's ego so immense that he thought to himself, "I don't give a shit about Hitler, I'm Michael Jordan and I'll grow my facial hair anyway I want to and I DEFY anyone to say something to my face about it."

Really, how many people can get away with a Hitler 'stache on the planet? Like three or four guys, right? Certainly nobody else in the world of sports, though I'd be intrigued if Derek Jeter gave it a try. I feel like Bill Gates could, because of all of his philanthropic work.  At this point, maybe Glenn Beck because he's Teflon. I'm a bit surprised that Sacha Baron Cohen hasn't already done it.

All I know is the owner of the Bobcats is sporting facial hair that one associates with Nazis, and his starting center has a name that's pronounced awfully close to "Nazi." It's probably a coincidence. Or is it?

I just realized there's a guy in the United States named Nazr Mohammad who is thriving and making millions of dollars, and he's playing in Charlotte, North Carolina of all places. It's like a Republican apocalypse.

To me how the Bobcats will do depends on three factors: 1) How Augustin holds up running the point now that Raymond Felton has moved on, 2) How in shape and committed Boris Diaw is (he was fat during the World Championships), and 3) How much Larry Brown really cares about coaching these guys at this stage of his life. Brown is notoriously hard on point guards, so I wonder how that relationship between he and Augustin will work.

Crazy-ass Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace have formed a successful partnership on the wings, and Mohammad was actually pretty good last year, so the starting lineup is plenty good enough to crack the top eight in the East. The bench is more of a question mark. It's unique in the sense that just about everybody in the second unit can defend, but there's not much firepower there. Really, who can shoot it on this team? Their margin of error will be razor thin. You can only win so many 82-78 games.

Ty Thomas is the closest thing to a weapon off the bench, but his shooting range is limited. I wonder if the team wouldn't be better off starting him, and bringing in Diaw with the reserves for that scoring punch. He probably won't have the stamina to play major minutes anyway. It would be a nice story if Livingston ever recovers fully from his horrific leg injury, but I don't see that happening. These guys badly need Carroll to rediscover the form he showed a few seasons ago and knock down a bunch of threes, but again, it's a long shot.

Not as much of as a long shot as Kwame Brown crawling back to Jordan for a job. How shameless can one person be? Have some pride, man.

Three Fearless Predictions:

1. Larry Brown will be rumored to be interested in other teams, which he'll fiercely protest.

2. They will trade for a shooter somewhere along the way.

3. They won't exist by 2015.

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