There's a new mini-feature here at PoundingTheRock.com. If you look to the right sidebar you will see a section labeled "Spurs Newsfeed." It's pretty self-explanatory; the list will automatically update when new Spurs stories appear on the internets. I am sure it doesn't cover every single website but it certainly increases the time-wasting potential of my blog. See, I do all of this for you.
With the playoffs approaching there are a myriad of topics I could cover. There also have been some great comments and diaries lately that deserve being addressed. A responsible journalist would no doubt be working feverishly on his analysis of the Sacramento Kings. So, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense that I would instead respond to each of the 101 things ESPN.com writers learned about the NBA this season. I would call this an ambitious undertaking, but that would be offensive to ambitious people the world over.
Let's do this. My responses are italicized.
1. Real pressure?
In Salt Lake City? It's not trying to make the playoffs and keep hothead owner Larry Miller happy. For Andrei Kirilenko, it's picking the right companion for the evening when cashing in the ultimate once-a-season hall pass from the wife. -- Marc Stein
I totally see right through this charade. This is no doubt a devious plot hatched by Mrs. Kirilenko and Kris Benson's wife. Andrei will take the bait and get taken for half. The two ladies will then become lovers and produce the most successful porn movie of all time. The director? David Stern of course. The bearded version.
2. Flagrant stupidity
Here's why Kobe Bryant can't be MVP. On Dec. 28, he commits a premeditated flagrant foul on Mike Miller (elbow to the neck), Miller makes the two free throws and the Grizzlies win 100-99 in overtime. Then Bryant brags about the elbow and gets suspended two games, which become two losses to Utah. One elbow, three Ls. -- ESPN.com
I see the guys point, but I don't care who wins as long as it's not Steve Nash. And since the award is supposedly for the most "valuable" player, why not take into account salary? I know why. Because that would require the writers to consider multiple factors simultaneously, instead of using the brilliant logic of "Steve Nash won last year. He's putting up better numbers this year. Therefore he has to win again. Done. Now where's the buffet again?"
3. Moneyball has come to the NBA
The Houston Rockets sent shock waves throughout the league when they announced that little-known Celtics exec Daryl Morey would be the team's next general manager. Morey has little traditional scouting/coaching experience but has expertise in statistical analysis, which wouldn't be shocking in baseball but was completely unheard of in pro hoops ... until now. -- John Hollinger
Those dumb Rockets. Everybody knows the game is played on a court, not in some stupid computer. You need someone who has played the game. Knows what it's like to be in the locker room before a game 7. Someone's who experienced the grind. Someone who's led his team victory. Someone like...sorry, I just can't write his name.
4. Trade The Franchise to save the franchise
Do teams get better when Steve Francis leaves? The Orlando Magic are 16-4 in the 40 days, which is the second-best record in the league over that period. I guess Francis can commiserate with his new friend Starbury. -- ESPN.com
Let's apply the scientific method to the question "Do teams get better when Steve Francis leaves?" Actually, I don't remember the exact tenets of the scientific method, so let's just use really bad logic. Theoretically there is nothing preventing Francis for playing for every team in the league and one of them twice. This would imply he would have to leave every team, too. Well, every team cannot get better, can it? Someone has to lose. Similarly, every team cannot get worse. Therefore Steve Francis is an absolute non-factor and due to my incredible power of reasoning is now fading from this reality like Marty McFly in Back to the Future.
5. Stay where you are
Mike Montgomery is the latest coach to end a (sic) illustrious college career to go pro -- and fail. Coach K clearly knew what he was doing when he turned down the Lakers' job. -- Ric Bucher
I wish Coach K had female genitalia, just so he could mate with Larry Brown and produce a remarkably bitter, egomaniacal and conniving offspring, who will also be the first child born with artificial hips.
6. Oh, Bosh
The Toronto Raps star got his props with an All-Star appearance, but, sad to say, it looks like he's on the KG career path. Like Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh seems destined to be an underappreciated superstar stuck in a northern NBA outpost. Great city, weak spotlight. -- ESPN.com
Well, fortunately for Bosh he will soon be making max and should be able to afford the occasional sojourn to more southern climes.
7. OK, we get it
Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics are not trading Paul Pierce! Never mind that 10 months ago, they worked out a deal to exile him to Portland. And never mind that he can opt out of his contract in 2007 and might not want to re-sign with a team that's 32 games behind the Detroit Pistons in the East.
I am a member of a Pearl Jam message board. Some guy on there went to the Final Four. One of his slightly drunk friends ran into Danny Ainge in the bathroom. He decided to covertly take a cell phone photo of Ainge at the urinal. Danny looked up at the same moment. I'm telling you, it's Pulitzer material.
8. The NBA ... It's Ban-tastic!
No more dressing like a bum on the bench. No more wearing women's clothing on the court. And no more Chris Andersen for two years. Style and substance abuse ... the league has spoken. -- ESPN.com
You're trying to tell me there isn't one player who wears woman's panties while playing? Sorry, not buying it.
9. Detroit devil deal
The Detroit Pistons have either the greatest fitness staff in history or a deal with the devil. Their top six guys have missed zero games because of injury, not counting Rasheed's brain cramps. -- ESPN.com
Or maybe they've just been lucky, but that doesn't make good copy. Ockham never understood that.
10. "Reg-gie, Reg-gie"
The newest member of TNT's broadcasting crew hit it on the head early in the season when he pointed out how the Pacers' chemistry problems were going to be a serious issue. Too bad Reggie didn't share his insight more when he was a player. -- Chris Sheridan
My dad has a Ph.D. in biochemistry. His meth is top shelf.
11. Taking the bullet
Thank goodness they weren't seriously hurt, but two NBA rookies were shot this season. Andray Blatche was shot in the chest while getting carjacked near his home in Virginia, and Julius Hodge was hit in the legs while driving on the interstate in Denver. What are the odds that two of the top 40 picks get shot in the same season? -- ESPN.com
I need help. After reading this I reflexively started contemplating what statistics I would need to answer the odds question.
12. Careful what you wish for
Larry Brown called it his dream job. It ended up being a nightmare. He left the helm of the Detroit Pistons to take over in New York, and then watched the Pistons roll to the league's best record while his Knicks sunk toward the bottom. -- J.H.
What a shame; couldn't have happened to a more pleasant fellow.
Larry Bird wasn't walking through that door, so the Celtics signed Brian Scalabrine to a five-year, $15 million contract, in part because he supposedly has Bird's "brain type." Boston fans, more interested in his 2.7 PPG than his EEG, have a nickname for the dead meat at the end of the bench: "Veal." -- ESPN.com
I know they keep the calves in boxes and that's mean. But goddam veal parmigiana is some tasty shit.
14. Jerry's kids
New Team USA czar Jerry Colangelo managed to find 24 players willing to try out for the national team, but size and ballhandling are already concerns for the U.S. team that will go to Japan this summer for the World Championship. -- C.S.
Luke Ridnour is The Answer.
15. Mom doesn't always know best
Hawks forward Al Harrington was quoted saying Clippers guard Corey Maggette would be traded to the Pacers for Ron Artest. Harrington heard the news from his mom, an Indy real estate agent who got a call from Maggette's mom about finding a place to live. Maggette then scared off the Pacers by suggesting his injured foot might not allow him to play this season, leaving Harrington to tell his mom he was cutting her off as a source. -- R.B.
That Maggette is a total fibber. You'll never outrun that label Corey. I HOPE IT WAS WORTH IT.
16. That's tight
When asked about the tights craze sweeping the NBA, Marcus Camby said, "I don't wear pantyhose." But Kobe, LeBron, D-Wade, and T-Mac put their fashion reputations on the line by donning the stockings. Then AI went way out on a limb when he broke out the white tights under the home white unis. Yikes! -- ESPN.com
So lemme get this straight. Marcus Camby is insulting the manhood of fellow NBA players. The same guy who's missed games for reasons ranging from random joint tendonitis to menstrual cramps?
17. The Family Guy
Stan Van Gundy quit one of the great jobs in sports to spend more time with his family. So, when he takes the reins of another team, will he announce that he's decided he wants to spend less time with his family? -- ESPN.com
Yep. He quit. Sure he did. Uh huh.
18. Ray of hopelessness
Nine months ago, Sonics fans were handing out hugs when told Ray Allen was returning. Now, even as Ray-Ray posts another All-Star season, and threatens the single-season record for 3s, Seattle fans are ready to move Ray's contract and move on without him. In the NBA, things change fast.
I live in Seattle and I haven't gotten that impression. But who has time for the facts?
19. Bandwagon-ass cats
No players -- or fans -- carry a chip on their shoulder quite as well as those in Detroit. Even when the media showed the Pistons some love, Rasheed Wallace spat back, not ready to forget and forgive the lack of respect he'd been feeling: "We'll see them bandwagon-ass cats come May and June."
Do these pants make my butt look bandwagon-assy?
20. Disrespecting the Kwame
When Kwame Brown joined the Lakers, and even his coach called him something unprintable (a word for kitten), his status was downgraded from big bust to bad joke. But if next season he can continue his solid D and late-season surge (including a 15-point, 15-rebound game), he might finally get in a few grins himself. -- ESPN.com
God, I hate Phil Jackson. No other coach would get away with this shit. Can you imagine Lawrence Frank pulling that crap?
21. 14 is the magic number
Just when the ground under Lawrence Frank seemed a little shaky, his Nets went on a 14-game run. With Jason Kidd on his side and two 14-game winning streaks to bookend his coaching career (so far), things are looking up for LaFra. -- ESPN.com
Nenad Krstic. Nenad. Kneenad. Nadknee. Nenadnenadnenadnenadnenad.
22. Mystery Mike
He can post a triple-double, go for 41 or put up 21 and 14 in any given Grizzlies game. Which makes Mike Miller's mediocre numbers and passive play all the more mysterious, his likely Sixth Man of the Year award notwithstanding. -- ESPN.com
Did anyone else notice Manu using a mouthpiece the other day? It was Italian leather no doubt.
23. The Busboy
Mike Dunleavy can't play. OK, that's unfair. But is he worth the $44 million the Warriors just gave him? Not when you consider that he is, as ESPN.com editor Chris Ramsay calls him, "the poor man's Toni Kukoc." If Kukoc is The Waiter, that makes Dunleavy The Busboy. -- ESPN.com
You guys just don't get it. Chris Mullin sees things you don't because he played the game. Dumb stat geeks.
24. Tony the Teacher?
Tony Parker schooled opposing point guards for layup after layup this season on his way to his first All-Star Game, but in romance he's the student -- or is he? First, girlfriend Eva Longoria said, "I'm the experienced one. I'm the teacher, especially about love." When she realized that made Tony look bad, she issued a correction: "When the lights are out, he's the teacher ... and I'm the student." -- ESPN.com
I don't know what they could be studying with the lights out. How do they read the textbooks? Oh wait, I GET IT. She's probably talking about boobie touching or something like that.
25. Bogut not bogus
But not a superstar in the making, either. When the Bucks drafted the world's greatest Croatian-Australian hoopster, Andrew Bogut, at No. 1, they worked to temper expectations. They were smart. With a 15.4 PER (league average is 15.0), the 21-year-old Bogut has been solid, not stellar. -- ESPN.com
15.4 is a pretty damn fine PER for a guy who gets about 1 play ran for him a game.
26. Foot fault
When shopping Ron Artest, the Pacers rejected the opportunity to acquire Corey Maggette because of a foot injury, and they settled for Peja Stojakovic. But Maggette is younger, better ... and now his foot is fine. Meanwhile, the Pacers are stumbling. -- ESPN.com
27. Gettin' it
One was the eighth pick in 2000 ... the other the eighth pick in 2002. Both are thought to be the kind of player who "doesn't get it." But last week Knicks guard Jamal Crawford and Sonics forward Chris Wilcox were named the Players of the Week. Flashes in the pan, or flashes of the future? We'll see. -- ESPN.com
I'd take 1 Chris Wilcox over 10 Jamal Crawfords.
28. Even expansion teams have studs
Gerald Wallace isn't exactly a household name, but the Charlotte forward had a remarkable season. Wallace became just the third player in league history to average at least two blocks and two steals in a season, joining David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon in that esteemed club, while shooting 53.9 percent and throwing down several highlight-film dunks. -- J.H.
The 95 playoffs never happened.
29. This is Bull
No team has less talent than Chicago. Check out John Hollinger's PER standings and you won't find a single Bull in the Top 50. Every other team (including the 14 non-playoff teams) has at least one guy ahead of Andres Nocioni (No. 63), yet the Bulls are in the playoffs. Nice job, Scott Skiles. -- ESPN.com
Fabricio Oberto has a PER of 9.79. Sean Marks has PER of 18.46.
30. NYC still ridden with crime
Indecent exposure, robbery, murder ... it's all at the Garden. The Knicks have lost 11 home games by double-digits -- five of those by 15-plus points. All this, while the fans spend an average of $70 per ticket to watch a roster with the highest payroll in the league. No fun, no refund. -- ESPN.com
How bad would the Knicks have been if they just coached themselves?
31. Make the obvious choice sometimes
When the most NBA-ready draft prospect, who happens to be an All-American point guard, has a great workout for you and says he wants to be an Atlanta Hawk, don't get cute and go for another swingman. Take Chris Paul. -- M.S.
Is there a moron quota for NBA GMs?
32. Eternal Uncle Cliffy
When Nets reserve Cliff Robinson first suited up for Portland in 1989, the Berlin Wall still stood. While the German barrier is now just souvenirs and dust, Cliff remains a solid wall down low and brings it nightly at age 39 as a key reserve for Jersey. -- ESPN.com
33. Superstars can't do it by themselves
Despite the usual banner years from Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, neither Minnesota nor Boston came close to earning a playoff spot. They even tried exchanging supporting casts halfway during the season, but shockingly, Michael Olowokandi and Mark Blount couldn't raise the fortunes of either team. Despite insisting they want to stay put, both now can prepare for a summer of trade rumors. -- J.H.
<Simplistic moron>They're just not winners. `Nuff said.</Simplistic moron>
34. Reef at last, Reef at last!
Finally, in his 10th NBA season, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, broken jaw and all, is headed to the playoffs in Sacto. He's not the reason, you say? Well, if he's not going to be credited for his solid efforts with lousy teammates in the past, he can't be discredited because he has better teammates this season. Fair is fair. -- ESPN.com
Yes, Shareef was good enough to be the fourth best player on a playoff team. Congrats.
35. What I meant to say was ...
Take Ron Artest at his word at your own risk. First he wanted out of Indiana. Then he didn't. Then he didn't want to go to Sacramento. Then he did. Now that he's there, he can see the Kings winning a championship. Until, of course, he can't. -- R.B.
Shut your pie hole Bucher!
36. What I meant to do was ...
The best move GM Billy King made this season was the one he couldn't. The Sixers announced in early February that they had dealt Steven Hunter to the NO/OK City Hornets for two future second-round picks, but the Hornets reneged after examining Hunter's knees. Hunter returned to Philadelphia, promptly took C Sam Dalembert's starting job and doubled his career averages in March and April. -- R.B.
Stephen Hunter should change his name to just "Hunter" and then hire Ted Nugent as his image consultant. At least that's what I would do.
Small-market Portland thinks mighty big when it comes to losing. This season, the Blazers have lost games by 24, 24, 29, 29, 31, 32, 32, 33, 39, 39 and 45 points. And they've lost 48 other games, too. -- ESPN.com
Yeah, the Trailblazers sucks but the city is nice. And they don't have sales tax! And did you know it's against the law to pump your own gas in Oregon? Damned liberals.
38. The Suns never set
Phoenix lost Amare Stoudemire to a knee injury, Joe Johnson and Steven Hunter to free agency and Quentin Richardson to a trade . . . and then kept right on winning as though nothing had happened. Newcomers Boris Diaw, Kurt Thomas, Raja Bell, James Jones, Tim Thomas and Eddie House ably filled the voids while Steve Nash and Shawn Marion kept the pedal pushed to the metal as Phoenix won the Pacific Division with surprising ease.
Spurs in 4. 5 tops.
Why are the Spurs more vulnerable than expected? (Remember when San Antonio was a nearly unanimous pick to win it all, and some were predicting 70 wins?) Because their vaunted front office picked up some cubic zirconia when it signed Michael Finley (12.5 PER), Nick Van Exel (10.2) and Fabricio Oberto (10.2). Suddenly the Spurs are barely five deep and banged up to boot. For real. -- ESPN.com
5%. 15% tops.
40. Money can't make a mediocre center good
What is it about 7-footers that makes general managers lose their senses? Dalembert, Jerome James, Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler signed contracts totaling over $200 million in the offseason ... and proceeded to give exactly the same inconsistent performances that had marked their entire careers. -- J.H.
When Isiah Thomas goes into a convenience store to buy a bag of chips does he let the cashier ring them up or does he jump the gun and offer him $20 cash up front? With a $10 kicker if he shares the chips with anyone else?
New, grizzly beard. New game. New reputation, too. Whether or not Pau Gasol was trying to make himself look tougher, his undeniable improvement -- stepping up in all areas to become the first All-Star in Grizzlies history -- erased any doubt. - M.S.
New game? Undeniable improvement? Last year Pau averaged 26.70 PTS and 10.95 REB per 48 minutes. This year he's averaged 25.04 and 10.93. His FG% and FT% are both down. His block rate is down. The only obvious improvement is in assists. Sports writing is a farce.
42. Feelin' Felton
Last year, Emeka Okafor won Rookie of the Year. This year, no one is paying attention to Charlotte's top draft pick. But guess which Bobcat looks to be on track for a better career? With his averages at 16.7 points and 7.1 assists in the last three calendar months, everybody better love Raymond. -- ESPN.com
Who's more boring, Emeka or Bogut?
43. Supporting castoffs
Don't overlook LeBron's new sidekick(s). During the Cavs' late-season surge, Seattle discard Flip Murray shot 55 percent from the field. Turns out Flip's scripted the kind of role Damon Jones was supposed to play -- and now Damon's red-hot too. -- ESPN.com
Damon Jones is the only player in the NBA who puts in less defensive effort than Mike Bibby.
44. Where to find Diddy
The house is almost never full at the Meadowlands, where the New Jersey Nets have sold out only four games all season. But the celebrity sightings have increased considerably as Manhattan's biggest moguls have increasingly made the 8-mile trek to the swamp. -- C.S.
And this pertains to me how?
45. Speaking of empty seats
Remember when the argument against trading Allen Iverson included the truism that he sells tickets. Well, it ain't true anymore. The 76ers are 21st in the NBA in attendance with just three home sellouts. -- C.S.
The real question is would Philly trade AI and Webber for absolutely nothing in return? I think they would.
46. The price ain't right
Latrell Sprewell had a half-dozen teams who would've given him what they could to put him in their uniform, but because it wasn't the amount he wanted -- $5 million or above -- he sat out the entire season. Some guys love to play, and some guys love to get paid. No need to ask which group Spree is in. -- R.B.
Maybe he just doesn't like basketball all that much anymore? Maybe making $1 million isn't worth it to him, considering he's made probably close to $75 million during his career?
47. Parlez vous basketball?
The land that gave us the Statue of Liberty, The Coneheads and Gerard Depardieu provided another gift in 2005-06: The league's two most improved players. Frenchmen Tony Parker and Boris Diaw both raised their games to new levels to help the Spurs and Suns to division titles ... and a possible showdown in the Western Conference finals. -- J.H.
"Showdown?" Pfft. PHX doesn't stand a chance for the same primary reason they didn't stand a chance last year. They rely too heavily on the 3P.
48. Can you define "best"?
This is one fact the Knicks won't be bringing up to other teams in their forthcoming attempts to trade Stephon Marbury: With two games to go in the season, New York is 39-94 since Steph proclaimed himself to be the league's best point guard. -- M.S.
And the Knicks are 22-59 since a bunch of ESPN morons claimed Larry Brown would be worth 10 wins by himself.
49. Drugs make you stupid
As if we didn't know already. But when Hornets forward Chris Andersen failed an NBA drug test, he flushed almost all of his $14 million contract down the toilet. Andersen's banned from the NBA and from playing pro ball in the 212 FIBA countries for another two years. That's really stupid. -- ESPN.com
And what drug was he hooked on? My dad's meth. I'm telling you, it's off the heezie. That's even what it's called: "Dr. Powell's Off the Heezie Methamphetameezie."
50. Reverse Migration
You don't see many people pulling up stakes and moving from Arizona to Canada, especially in the dead of winter. But on Feb. 28, Phoenix GM Bryan Colangelo traded in his job in the sun to run the Raptors. How's that exchange rate working out, Bryan? -- ESPN.com
Brian doesn't have time to answer your question, but I am pretty sure cnnmoney.com has exchange rates.
51. Amen to that
Props to Milwaukee Bucks sharpshooter Michael Redd. With part of the money he earned from a new long-term contract, Redd bought his father, Pastor James Redd, a church in Columbus, Ohio. -- ESPN.com
Thanks be to God.
52. Don't bury those Leastern Conference jokes just yet
Remember back in October when you heard all those references to the "new" Eastern Conference, with its three legit title contenders -- Detroit, Miami and Indiana -- and improving middle class? It didn't quite pan out that way, did it? The East is instead threatening to present us with four playoff teams with losing records, which has never happened before. -- M.S.
Like last year, I'll be posting my converted standings at the end of the season.
53. Impossible to predict
In the NBA, the biggest losers are winners and the biggest winners are losers. This season the lowly Knicks beat the mighty Pistons, Suns, Mavs and Cavs (twice). On the other hand, the reigning NBA champion Spurs lost to the horrible Hawks, Hornets, Sonics and Sixers. -- ESPN.com
Woah. That's crazy. Next you're going to tell me that if you flip a coin enough times it will come up heads five times in a row!
54. 81 is better than 100
After Kobe exploded against the Raptors, some pundits said his 81-point game was better than Wilt's 100-point game. Next time you get a $100 dinner bill, try settling up by giving the waiter $81. See if he thinks 81 is better than 100. -- ESPN.com
Yeah, because pace has nothing to do with anything. How dumb does one have to be to write for ESPN.com? Cause I can be way dumberer than that.
55. Sometimes it's OK to fall short
The Hornets, in the midst of uncertainty and crisis, should've been the worst team in the NBA this season. And everyone would've understood. Instead, they were a playoff contender for much of the season and are the feel-good story of the year. Even though they missed the playoffs in the end. -- ESPN.com
Oklahoma City deserves a franchise. No doubt. After Vegas though.
56. Small fracture, big problem
The San Antonio Spurs had no answer for Amare Stoudemire in last spring's Western Conference finals, but sadly now we know that Amare can be stopped. Two knee surgeries in a span of six months did it to the 23-year-old, starting with the most dreaded medical procedure in the NBA: microfracture surgery on Amare's left knee during training camp. -- M.S.
They consciously chose not to double team him! He's an amazing force, but if the object of the game was to hold Amare to under 25 points a game they could have done that. They focused on winning instead. And look where that got them. Dumb stat geeks.
57. Reinventing training wheels
It took the Celtics 51 days to register their first two-game winning streak, and they never did win three in a row. Boston's grand total of five two-game winning streaks might be one reason Danny Ainge criticized coach Doc Rivers for his ever-changing rotations and philosophies. -- ESPN.com
I'm telling you. Veal parmigiana from Paesano's in San Antonio. It's indescribable. Have food engineers ever tried sticking baby chickens in boxes to stunt their growth and warp their flesh into tasty goodness? What about baby pigs? The young of every animal needs to be placed in a box, inhumanely treated and then eaten. We need to cover all the bases here folks. I almost just made a joke about young beaver. God help me.
58. Coming up short
Like Moses, Chris Webber has had a very good look at the promised land -- a lot of looks, actually -- but he never quite gets there. Another season, another disappointment. Despite standing just six boards short of averaging 20 and 10 for the seventh time, C-Webb's (and AI's) Sixers somehow managed to slide out of the playoffs. -- ESPN.com
Webber's TS% is 48.0%. The lowest team TS%? 50.9%. That's how fucking bad Chris Webber is.
59. Charlie rose
To many analysts, Charlie Villanueva looked like another Rafael Araujo -- in other words, a wasted lottery pick for the Raptors. But the best rookie not called CP3 has teamed with CB4 to give Toronto its frontcourt of the future. Just call him CV, 'cause he's building a résumé. -- ESPN.com
His lack of eyebrows give him an unfair advantage.
Swagger, swagger, swagger. Suddenly we heard about swagger everywhere. Suddenly it was more important to strut than to shoot. But here's all you need to know about the value of swagger -- Baron Davis does it, and Ricky Davis does, too ... and the Spurs don't. -- ESPN.com
I think I can remember about two Spur chest bumps from this entire season. And both of those involved Eva Longoria. Ooh. That was weak even by my standards.
61. Still Vinsane after all these years
At age 29, Vince Carter rehabbed his rep and made the "SportsCenter" Top 10 his personal showcase with a series of stupendous slams and spin moves. As the original Human Highlight Film was elected to the Hall of Fame, VC remade his claim to fame as well. -- ESPN.com
Do you think he would give up 30% of his leaping ability to get his hair back? 20%? 10% Everybody has a number.
62. Still gold in dem hills
They didn't pull the trigger on a Ron Artest trade. They did extend the league's longest playoff drought to 12 seasons. Add it up, and you won't believe what else the Golden State Warriors did: establish a club attendance record for the fourth successive season. Can you say Best Fans In The NBA? -- M.S.
Chris Mullin went to the storied St. John's. He had a crew cut because he lived and breathed basketball. He shot the ball 500 times a day every day. Stupid stat geeks.
63. Who says Americans can't shoot?
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year hasn't had the kind of sophomore season he expected -- he's had trouble holding down his spot in the lineup, for starters. But Ben Gordon's 9-for-9 extravaganza from 3-point range to beat the Wizards and practically lock up a playoff spot for the Bulls was as good as it gets. -- ESPN.com
"I think of a man, and I take away all reason and accountability." And Helen Hunt is pretty darn hot.
64. Playoff seeding matters
The NBA won this year's Horse Out of the Barn award by belatedly reconsidering its playoff seeding approach -- after it was too late to stop a Dallas-San Antonio showdown in the Western Conference semis. Although any semi-rational 5-year-old could have seen this coming from a mile away, it apparently didn't occur to the league (until now) that two of its best teams could meet in an early round if they were in the same division. -- J.H.
The NBA certainly has morons at all levels.
65. Peja Vu
Indiana got rid of Ron-Ron, but it sure seems like it's the same team with the same problems. Before they acquired Peja Stokakovic for the inactivated Artest, the Pacers were 21-20. Since the trade, they are 18-21 and "team chemistry" remains Topics A, B and C3H5(NO3)3. -- ESPN.com
I hate that smirk Jermaine O'Neal always has on his face. They might get swept right out of the playoffs.
66. Dancing Fatties
One popular in-arena entertainment trend is something the Mavericks started and everyone else is ripping off -- groups of overweight men in ripped T-shirts doing dance numbers at center court. Can we ban this? It gets real old real fast. -- C.S.
Yeah, shooting overstocked t-shirts into the stands with an air-gun is faaaaaaaantastic.
67. Dallas' other 'Boys
Josh, Josh, Jason and Jerry. Devin, Darrell, D.J. and Desagana. Erick, Adrian, Keith and Marquis. These semi-anonymous types hardly sound like the makings of an NBA powerhouse, but with Coach of the Year Avery Johnson and MVP candidate Dirk Nowitzki leading the Dallas Dozen, the Mavs made a serious run at winning the West. -- ESPN.com
Josh Howard worries me.
68. Party like it's 1988
At least they are in Washington and Denver. That's because 1988 is the last time the Wiz were a playoff team in back-to-back seasons ... except they were called the Bullets back then. And it's also because 1988 is the last time the Nuggets were division champions ... except that their division (the Northwest) didn't exist in the old four-division format. -- M.S.
Gilbert Arenas is 24, averaging 29.3 PPG and making it look easy.
69. Do we get a vote?
Lost in the hoopla surrounding the first game played in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina, and the NBA's vowing to send the Hornets back once the city is on its feet, is the fact that the players and coaches are privately saying they'd rather stay in Oklahoma City. -- R.B.
The worst part of this whole story will be the writers portraying the Hornets as some hugely important part of the rebuilding process. When, in reality, they are about 75th on the list, somewhere behind shelter and repaired levees. This is entirely different than 9-11. These people don't need something to distract them, they need jobs and places to sleep.
Sorry, back to your normally scheduled absurdity.
70. Stern's sidekick
Stepping down after 30 years in the league office is deputy commissioner Russ Granik, a class act whose wit and wisdom will be missed. He deserves a big cheer when he announces the first pick of the second round on draft night June 28. -- C.S.
A big cheer? A gold watch would be easier. Less coordination effort required.
71. The Curse of Chris
It was a bad year to be a high draft pick named Williams. Based on their early returns, it will take Marvin (No. 2, Hawks) and Deron (No. 3, Jazz) years to live down the fact that they're not Chris Paul. If they ever do. -- ESPN.com
Chris Paul's mother was a virgin when he was born.
72. Nate and Bassy
When he played, Portland coach Nate McMillan was the kind of big point guard who played defense first and moved the ball. Sebastian Telfair is the kind of small point guard for whom getting to the hole is the goal. That's one reason the young Blazer is coming off the bench and seems destined to have rocky times and/or get traded. -- ESPN.com
Another reason being he's not that good.
73. Get into my Car
With game-winner after game-winner, Carmelo Anthony became a superstar without being an All-Star. During Denver's wreck of a regular season, 'Melo was a steady pair of headlights, leading the Nuggets to a division title. -- ESPN.com
"A steady pair of headlights?" Hmm, I don't see Nike using that in their next ad.
74. The B.C. era
When is a season successful for a team that starts 1-15 and fails to reach the 30-win mark? When it unexpectedly lands the first big-name GM in franchise history (Bryan Colangelo) and prompts its superstar-in-training and free agent-to-be (Chris Bosh) to say: "That convinced me a lot." -- M.S.
And the additional $15 odd million he can make with TOR probably convinced him a lot morer.
75. The Class of '03 is one for the ages
We already knew the 2003 draft class was good. But this year they took it to another level. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade challenged for MVP honors, Carmelo Anthony led Denver to a division crown by making several game-winning shots, and Chris Bosh rose to prominence as an All-Star in Toronto. Even human victory cigar Darko Milicic got in on the act, showing flashes of brilliance after a midseason trade to Orlando. -- J.H.
You do realize the Spurs could have drafted Josh Howard that year.
76. Another Hollywood remake
Who knew Kobe idolized Uma Thurman? The world did after it was revealed that Bryant is known as Black Mamba in his inner circle. That, of course, was the character Thurman played in Tarantino's "Kill Bill" martial-arts movies. -- R.B.
Why it gotta be "Black" Ric? And are you to good for the letter k?
77.Offense is only half the game
Two of the league's best offensive teams, Seattle and Toronto, were nonetheless horrible thanks to their complete and total inability to stop the opponent from scoring. Seattle was fourth in the league in offensive efficiency while Toronto ranked fifth, but the two clubs both finished well out the money thanks to the two worst defenses in basketball. Fittingly, neither team has a D anywhere in its name. -- J.H.
I hate Ray Allen so much that I am going to blame TOR's bad defense on him, too.
78. Every dog has his day
Those lovable doormats called the L.A. Clippers forgot to follow the script this year. With a career year from Elton Brand and the acquisition of Sam Cassell, L.A. had its first winning season in 14 years, won its most games since it won 49 as the Buffalo Braves in 1974-75, and even started drawing a few celebs to the crowd. -- J.H.
I am looking forward to the DEN/LAC matchup. Elton Brand is the anti-Kenyon Martin. Brand will outscore him by 10 points a game but lose the "tugging on your jersey and yelling" battle 427 to 0.
79. Not built for prosperity
After he survived eight seasons on non-guaranteed contracts, the Sonics handed Rick Brunson a $1 million guaranteed deal last summer. Four minutes into his Seattle career, he tore the fascia in his left foot and missed the next three months before being waived and picked up by Houston. -- R.B.
The Sonics love to guarantee a guy a contract and then waive him in the middle of the season. There was that Turkish fellow Kutluay last year and Brunson this year. Maybe they'll sign Reece Gaines this offseason.
80. Mellow Red? Not yet
Looks like Red Auerbach will need another 88 years to soften. After surviving a week in September when he was thought to be near death, Red returned to the Celtics' home opener on Nov. 2 and resumed his jabs at Phil Jackson, his rival in the record books: "Phil obviously is a good coach; you don't win that many games without being a good coach. One thing, though. He's been very fortunate. He picks his spots. That's all I can say. Larry Brown doesn't pick his spots. He's a great coach." -- ESPN.com
81. The Wiz
Gilbert Arenas gets no respect because he plays like he's in a pickup game, with his pull-up-from-anywhere J and his one-on-five drives to the hoop -- and because of his quirky behavior. But he's so damn good he's expanding the definition of "point guard," like it or not. -- ESPN.com
Yep, Gilbert Arenas is the first shoot-first point guard in the history of the world. And by "world" I am including every planet in both the known and unknown Universe.
If so many folks keep referring to Shawn Marion as the NBA's most underrated player, is he still underrated? Phoenix hopes so because Marion, at his best when he feels disrespected, just stepped into the void created by Amare Stoudemire's absence with the best season of his career: 21.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. -- M.S.
I am so tired of all this "disrespected" bullshit. Today I was running around Green Lake. A lady was walking towards me and unknowingly kicked a pine cone in my direction. It ricocheted off my foot and hit her straight in the face. No one sends loose tree paraphernalia in my direction and gets away with it.
83. T.J.'s troubles
The return of T.J. Ford from a career-threatening spine injury was one of the great stories of the early season. But the Milwaukee point guard has a 41.1 FG percentage and an abysmal 48.3 true shooting percentage. Guess those initials stand for Terrible Jumper. -- ESPN.com
Actually his initials stand for Terrance Jerod. Who would name their kid "Terrible" anyway?
84. Treasure trove
The world's best hoops history site is the only place in the world you can learn all of the following facts . . . Damon Stoudamire's middle name is Lamon . . . Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Boris Diaw and Luol Deng each celebrated a birthday on Sunday . . . and the highest career assist ratio (percentage of possessions that end in an assist) belongs to Muggsy Bogues. -- ESPN.com
And that's the same site I got the Terrance Jerod information from. It's the Circle of Life people. Elton John was right. I think deep down we all knew.
85. One-horse towns
We've seen the NBA's success as a solo act in San Antonio, Sacramento and Salt Lake City, but we still were amazed by the reception the Hornets received in Oklahoma City. Now OKC is on the NBA map (and is expected by many to keep the Hornets) -- and its support points out one reason the league doesn't want to see the Blazers leave Rip City. -- ESPN.com
Seriously. You'll be confronted if you try to pump your own gas.
86. The Silas touch
Baron Davis, seemingly, has had issues with every NBA coach he's ever played for, whether it be Tim Floyd in New Orleans, George Karl on the 2002 World Championship team or Mike Montgomery with the Warriors -- except for Paul Silas, which has started rumors that Baron is pulling for him to replace Montgomery. -- R.B.
And every Warriors fan should be pulling for an empty roster spot to replace Baron.
If there was one place the Heat were supposed to improve as a result of last summer's moves it was defensively at small forward with James Posey replacing Eddie Jones. Now, going into the playoffs with Posey's Achilles tendon bothering him and Antoine Walker covering for him, defending 3s is the Heat's biggest Achilles' heel. -- R.B.
Antoine's TS%? 52.3%. The three previous years he was at 47, 48 and 48%.
88. Bad trades can get you fired
After a series of nightmarish personnel decisions that included the giveaway of Vince Carter to New Jersey and the drafting of uberbust center Rafael Araujo, the Raptors showed general manager Rob Babcock the door after just a year and half on the job. -- J.H.
"Uberbust" would be a great name for a porn website targeting the upper bourgeoisie.
89. Bad trades don't always get you fired
After a series of nightmarish personnel decisions that included the giveaway of a high lottery pick (or two) to Chicago and the signing of uberbust center Jerome James ... the Knicks decided they'd like some more of that, please, and gave general manager Isiah Thomas a vote of confidence. -- J.H.
That "Uberbust" line is the single greatest sentence I have ever written. And "upper bourgeoisie" sounds like an obtuse medical term for a region of the adnoids.
90. De-troit Bas-ket-ball
There remains no better place in the Eastern Conference to enjoy a crowd's getting into the game than The Palace of Auburn Hills, where the mighty Pistons are 35-3. Public address announcer John Mason needs some new material, but he's still far better than his counterpart in Cleveland. -- C.S.
To - nee Pah - kah.
91. It wasn't just Larry
The notion that Larry Brown's vaunted disdain for playing rookies is what kept Darko Milicic out of the Pistons' rotation was blown away when Flip Saunders replaced Brown, took a long look at Darko in preseason ... and kept him at the end of the bench until the Pistons mercifully dealt him to Orlando. -- R.B.
OK. So they both refused to play a guy with obvious talent. What's your point Rick. Yeah, that's right. I went there. What you gonna do? I gotta pocket full of rubbers and my homeboys do, too!
92. It wasn't just Larry II
The Pistons have been on a mission to disprove the widely held belief that Brown was responsible for pushing all the right buttons to make a good-but-not-great collection of players into champions. They haven't won a title yet, but flirting with the season's best record -- and early on, the best of all-time -- makes a strong opening argument. -- R.B.
Ricky, Ricky, Ricky, can't you see? Most times your words just nauseate me. And I just love your moronic ways. Guess that's why I'm broke and your so paid.
93. Stare at this
Gotta love Ron Artest. When he went to the Kings, he chose 93 for his number. Ninety-three? It represents "infinite intensity," says Ron-Ron. "Just stare at it for two hours, you'll see what I'm talking about." -- ESPN.com
I've been writing this for about 3 hours and I think I do see what he's talking about.
94. Nate was not great
Nate Robinson missed 14 attempts -- yes, 14, and it was beyond excruciating to witness -- before finally making one to win the slam dunk contest title at All-Star Weekend over Andre Iguodala, whose under-the-backboard alley-oop dunk in the opening round was brilliant. Iggy got robbed. -- ESPN.com
The NBA could screw up a Girls Gone Wild DVD.
95. Surprise inside
Boris Diaw was supposed to be a throw-in with two first-round picks in the sign-and-trade deal that sent Joe Johnson to Atlanta. Instead, he's practically been a replacement, averaging 13.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and six assists as a point-center. Johnson's stats last year as a Sun: 17.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists. -- R.B.
With Parker, Diaw, Turiaf and Petro, France has the beginnings of a decent national basketball team. But, I don't know, they're still Frenchies.
Soon he'll be a Hall of Famer and maybe a champ again, but 2006 also will be remembered as the year Joe Dumars gave up on Darko Milicic. Looks like the great Joe D. botched this twice -- first by drafting Darko over 'Melo, Bosh and D-Wade, and then by trading away a 20-year-old talent. Hard to say whether Dumars should root for or against the development of Darko. -- ESPN.com
He should root for the utter demise of Carmelo, Bosh, and Wade. Kill four birds with one stone.
Setting an NBA record for the most starting lineups is no way to inspire your team or your fans. Larry Brown got a free ride at MSG this season, but the honeymoon is over. "Fi-re-Larr-ry" might be the Chant of The Month in December. -- C.S.
Stop beating around the bush and make Spike Lee coach.
98. Don't buy this Brand
To get Ron Artest, the Warriors wouldn't trade rookie Ike Diogu, called by many analysts "another Elton Brand." But Diogu, at age 22, is averaging 6 and 3. When he turned 22, Brand was deep into his second straight season of 20 and 10. I like Ike, but he's generic Brand. -- ESPN.com
Can we stop throwing around the word "analyst." What the hell are these "analysts" analyzing? Game faces? What was the quote from Moneyball? "We aren't selling pants" or something like that.
99. No more oww for Yao
A healthy Yao Ming was a sight to behold. After toe surgery cleaned up a problem he's endured since he arrived from China four years ago, he went on a tear with a heretofore unseen aggression until a broken bone in his left foot ended his season. Assuming the bone heals with no lingering issues, this disaster of a season will have been worth it if Yao maintains that attitude. -- R.B.
Does Jeff Van Gundy have the physical ability to smile? Is he missing some facial muscles? Are his upper bourgeoisie inflamed?
100. Maybe Weisbrod had a clue after all
Former Magic general manager John Weisbrod left the Magic a mess with a series of misdeeds, most notably the Tracy McGrady trade. But in his absence, Weisbrod-era acquisitions such Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu fueled a late-season renaissance that leaves the Magic with high hopes for next season. -- J.H.
It's the wheel of fortune
It's the leap of faith
It's the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of liiiiiiiiiiiiife
101. Please, please, please stay
LeBron James made a lot of people in Ohio feel better when he said, "I can't wait to sign my extension. I'm very happy here." They'll sleep even easier if and when he actually does, as Blake says in "Glengarry Glen Ross," sign on the line that is dotted. -- ESPN.com
Will you go to lunch? Go to lunch. WILL you GO to LUNCH?
Entirely True Yet Remarkably Meaningless Tidbit Number Six.
The elevator in my building smells like something different everyday. Yesterday it was barbeque. Today it was men's cologne and then sun tan lotion.