Hey everybody, long time no posts, I know. But I'm not apologizing, because I have nothing to apologize for. I am... happy, believe it or not. Life has gotten complicated. I was on vacation in New York/New Jersey from January 16th to January 23rd, and I had all the intentions in the world of continuing to write for the blog, write about how cold it was and how my mom's boyfriend is such a fucktard and how everyone in Atlantic City is rude and how expensive New York is and how surreal and phony a taping of the David Letterman show is and then... well Amanda happened. I don't know if anyone knows anything about her, I might have mentioned her talking about the bar once or twice, but she's really nice and sweet and she seems to adore me and we spend a lot of time together. It's safe to say that at the moment Manu Ginobili is only numero dos when it comes to capturing my heart and my imagination.
But then we get games like last night and I wonder...
I mean, holy shit. There's just no way to describe what we saw. Dude just wasn't missing out there. It was inspiring, it was jaw-dropping, and it was breathtaking. And it still wasn't better than his performance against the Mavs earlier this season, all things considered. That game meant more. We hadn't beaten them in forever, Tim was out and they were giving The Sickness all kinds of cheap shots in that one.
But yes, this one was sweet. Everything about it was fucking sweet. The behind the back dribble setting up a three to Bowen was nasty. Mr. Potatohead hitting some shots for once gave me hope for May, when we'll need him. The block on LeNike was like the cherry on the sundae.
In the end even the over-the-top homer announcers of the Cavs had to just shut up and give Manu his due. Only took them about 47:30, but whatever. I'll tell you this much, I have a whole new level of respect for LBJ. You have any idea how hard it is to put up 30-7-7 a night when two broadcasters are fondling your balls in their mouths the whole time? What an athlete!
And what's up with Austin Carr, their color guy? He was like openly advocating violence during the second half. "They gotta put Ginobili on his can." "They gotta knock him on his keister." "They gotta knock him around and make him know they're there." "They gotta gouge him in the eye and stick two fingers up his anus."
(Okay, I might have gotten carried away).
I don't think Mr. Cavalier has seen too much of The Hustlemaker's career. The more you hit him, the better he plays. Whereas I usually spend Spurs games cussing out the opposing announcers, I was openly laughing at this clown the whole time. Yes, by all means, put Gino at the line so he can have a couple of uncontested 15 footers instead of contested 30 foot fadeaways. Give him the free points you idiots!
I guess statements like that are why Austin Carr is in the broadcasting booth and Mike Brown is the coac- uh... I guess I really have no point.
But yeah, 6-3 for the Rodeo Road Trip is darn near miraculous, considering we started 0-2 after a
loss to lowly Seattle and were without the fragile Mr. Longoria the whole time. Plus, my regular season goal of beating everybody at least once is still alive! I know it seems trivial and hokey to the rest of you, but to me, this is like the Holy Grail. Just once I want to see the Spurs do it. Last year we screwed it up against Cleveland and Milwaukee (although we certainly got appropriate revenge on the former in the postseason). This year, thanks to these thrilling road wins in T-dot and The Mistake By The Lake, we're still alive. In fact only three obstacles remain in our path: 1) We got to win a simple home game in April against the Dubs, the only Western team we have yet to vanquish, and to my great shame I've witnessed two losses to them in person already. 2) We gotta beat the Celtics, presumably with a healthy KG, on St. Patrick's day at our barn. Total must win, that. 3) Finally, the biggest obstacle of them all, we must somehow, someway squeak one out against the Stones in D-Twa. They're playing miles better than anyone these days, but hopefully they'll have cooled down a bit by the time we go up there.
Anyway, as much as I hate to admit it, I am starting to regain some faith, most of it due to Manu's otherworldly play. Apparently nobody has ever averaged 24-6-6 in a 9 game road trip before. This stat sounds suspicious to me. MJ never did this? Kobe? Magic? Oscar? None of these dudes ever had nine game roadies? Whatever, I'll take Elias' word for it.
Anyway, here are a few scattered thoughts about everything I've missed...
The potential Mavs trade
Ohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease let this trade go through. God, it's like the Western teams want us to repeat, when really we have no business doing so. First the Suns commit suicide, trading their whole identity for a has-been who can't move and who absolutely can't be on the court in the final minutes and now the Mavs want to get rid of the one guy in the world who can guard Tony. I'm in shock, I really am.
Seriously, who in the world right now is happier than Tony Freaking Parker? This must feel almost as good as the one of the four billion times Eva Longoria touched his penis in the past year and a half. All of a sudden he has a chance to play like something resembling himself against Dallas and doesn't have to face my wrath anymore (Tony hates my wrath, I'm telling you). Not only does Tony get off now, but Manu and Tim will get to feast on lay-ups and trips to the line thanks to Diop leaving. That's a huge bonus about this deal that nobody is talking about. The Mavs will get WAY FUCKING WORSE on defense. I'm positively giddy about this.
"But Stampler," you wail, "what about Kidd improving the Mavs offense with his wizardly point guard skills?" Uh, the Nets this season, with two fairly decent wing players in Jefferson and Vinsanity, were like 24th in offensive efficiency this season. The Mavs were 5th. I think Harris has been doing pretty well for them, for the most part. Kidd won't have a chance to impact the Mavs offense unless they radically change the playbook overnight (very unlikely with the season two thirds gone) and let him run the show. Currently the Mavs run more isolation stuff than any team in the league. They can't just change everything to accommodate Kidd, can they?
Plus, is it just me, or wouldn't it seem that the Mavs would be incredibly easy to guard with Kidd in there? Double team the ball and give him the Jacque Vaughn treatment. HE CAN'T SHOOT. HE CAN'T FUCKING SHOOT! EVERYONE KNOWS THIS!!! I just can't imagine, for the life of me, how such a trade could possibly work for Dallas. We're right on the precipice of being able to make fun of Cubes forever.
So of course, Devean George is ruining everything. I never liked George. He's always had the sourpuss, his whole career, even as the 5th banana on the Lakers when they were winning rings. Why is he never happy? Is he trapped in a bad marriage? Does he have a tiny winky (I apologize, my mind has been in the gutter lately)? Is he a member of the John Amaechi All-Stars and tormented about his secret life? I just don't get why he's always been so miserable looking when clearly he's in the 99th percent tile in lives a male could be having. I wish Scoop Jackson could get down to the bottom of this for me. I think the trade will ultimately go through, but in a weird way it'd be kind of funny if it doesn't, because at this point how fractious is that locker room gonna be with him and Diop and Harris in one camp and a resentful Cubes, Dirk, and J-Ho in the other? You're telling me nobody is gonna come to blows during a practice in the next week? I swear, I'm like half considering ordering a Mavs Devean George jersey on-line and wearing it in front of Cuban the next time Dallas visits the W's.
The "I can't believe Steve Kerr is so fucking stupid Shaq trade
BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !
He can't play! He can't play anymore! He's done. Fucking done. D-U-N DONE, SON. As much as Manu going off against the Cavs was a pleasant surprise, it pales in comparison to this. I can't believe the Suns completely sold out like this. I mean, as much as I derided them for being whiny puss-boys, at least they stood for a style of play, and one could argue that they were entertaining during the regular season.
But this? It's indefensible. Yeah fine, the Suns didn't match up well with us, that's been established. But they matched up just fine thank you with everyone else. They made a trade that gave them a 5% better chance of beating us but probably made them 30% more likely to lose to everyone else. Congratulations. You lost Marion. Who guards The Big Bug or Dirk now? Who guards Gasol or Odom? Carlos Boozer? AK-47? David West? Peja? T-Mac? Crazy-ass Stephen Jackson?
Good God. Marion may be less something less than an All-Star in a half court set, but he's an All-Star rebounder, defender and transition guy. Just because he struggles against the Spurs it doesn't mean he's not valuable and certainly it doesn't mean he's less valuable than Shaq. I don't care if it comes out that Marion choked Nash in the locker room or kicked Amare in the nuts (I'm rather fond of players that kick Amare in the nuts, as you know) trading him for anyone else other than Kirilenko was a colossal error that will send Steve Kerr back to TNT in a matter of months.
Shaq can't move his feet to guard anybody. Tim will get open 13 foot bankers all game long. We can pick and roll him to death. We can run him off the floor or foul him on purpose. We can force him into a turnover every third possession. Also, I don't see how he and Amare can play together. Amare needs wide open lanes going to the bucket. With Shaq's fat ass in the way, how will little Stevie feed S.T.A.T the ball where he wants it? Stoudemire isn't the type of guy who can face the basket from 17 feet away with the ball in his hands and create offense. He doesn't really dribble or pass. I sense we're going to see all kinds of offensive confusion and frustration between him, The Diesel, and Nash. I can't wait for this.
Also, if the game is close late, as most of our games with the Suns are, Shaq can't even be on the floor because he can't make the freebies. So he's a late game liability. Also, he's an early game liability. And yeah, he's a middle-part-of-the-game liability. Other than that, this is a solid move for the Suns.
Meanwhile the addition of Shaq means the subtraction of the great praying mantis, Shawn Marion. Man I'm gonna miss that shooting motion, where he literally looks like he's vomiting the ball toward the rim. What I won't miss is his length bothering Tony. Seriously it's like God just smiled down on Tony one morning and declared, "I want you to lead the league in scoring this postseason." I don't know what to think about this. It might be easy. Too easy.
The Gasol trade
Now this is scary. The Lakers are kinda freaking me out. If you ask me right this second who I see winning the West if it's not us, I'd have to go with the purple and gold. They have depth, a clutch time star, scoring threats inside and outside all over the court, and a great coach. Their only weaknesses that I can think of are inexperience, unfamiliarity with each other, and perhaps a soft frontcourt, mentally. We would really, really need Tim and Tony to play well to get by them.
That being said, I found Pop's comments about the deal highly inappropriate. Grow a pair, Pop. Just because another GM found a way to get a deal done where you couldn't/wouldn't, it's no reason to whine about it like a baby. The Spurs are supposed to be above whining. You're the one who wants to go to war with the likes of Horry, Francisco Elson, Findog and Vaughn. You made your bed dude, don't blame other teams for doing everything they can to kick your ass.
Pop's laissez faire attitude with losses
Now this is fucking annoying. He's dicking with refs, he's smiling and joking with P.J. after losing to the third worst team in the league, he's massaging Doc Rivers' bulge after the Celtics game and hamming it up with Craig Sager on TNT.
On one hand, I get what Pop is doing. He won't give the media ANYTHING. He'll give them smart aleck answers ("I told them to play better" "Because he's Manu Ginobili" "Can you repeat that, I'm kinda drunk right now") and won't ever look nervous or tight. And maybe the end of game stuff is a psychological ploy to fire up the players like, "If you all don't care about these games, why should I?"
I don't know. I understand the formula calls for slow, gradual improvement leading to a peak in May and June for the playoffs. I understand that for the most part the regular season doesn't matter. But coaches aren't supposed to admit this stuff, right? I mean, the fans and advertisers pay good money for this stuff. They don't want to see coaches goofing off with the ball after a two point loss, right? It's one thing to not respect the media, but when you show the fans you don't respect them either, that's a slippery slope, my friends.
The Webber trade
Don Nelson must have lost what little mind he had. Webber has as much hops these days as George Wendt. He played like three games and already has been shelved for being more out of shape than the front office foresaw. Nice. I'm not going to beat around the bush about this: If Webber plays 15+ minutes a night for the Warriors this year, they won't make the playoffs. It's that simple. The guy is a loser. The Warriors would've been better off signing that 6' 8" high school chick who can dunk. Poor Manolis.
Robert Horry's inevitable insertion into our rotation
::waves white flag::
I give up. That's it, really, I give up.
They're gonna ride this corpse another year. Why? Not because he's any good. Cos he's not. At all. It's just that the other bigs are soooooooo bad. Elson, I'm convinced, has some kind of undiagnosed learning disability or he's just like some sadistic psychopath sent to torment us. Bonner is too um... white, I guess, to play any defense and has thus fallen out of the rotation. So really, thanks to incredible shortsightedness by the front office, Robert Horry - freaking 82 year old Robert Fucking Horry - is still our second best defensive big man. Just super. Welcome to tinyball hell and to us repeatedly being crushed on the boards.
Here comes your reflexive rationalization though: In the right circumstance Horry can still potentially not kill us. He has to play with Tim and Manu and Tony and either Finley or Barry. Basically, four offensive players. In that situation we'd be okay with him. If he's on the court though with like Vaughn and Bowen and Udoka (and Manu of course, cos Pop loves to surround Manu with more excrement than Babe the Pig) well then I'll start throwing things.
Assuming everyone comes back healthy, I think the rotation should be Tim-Fab-Bruce-Fin-Tony with Horry, Manu, Udoka and Brent as the subs. We shouldn't play Mighty Mouse or Vaughn. Manu has proven in Tony's absence that he's a better quarterback than either of those guys and I think he and Brent can handle the ball well enough and give the opposition fits with their passing vision. I'm not worried about their defense much because it's not like Vaughn locks up anybody. He just "tries hard" while he's being mediocre.
Manu not being selected to the All-Star game
Hardly surprising. The whole league is xenophobic. I'm sure there was outside pressure to put Roy on the team because the Blazers are so damn heartwarming and the Spurs are ratings poison. Manu wasn't the only fob who got fucked. Jose Calderon is having a season for the ages as a point guard and he's being widely ignored (Nancy boy Allen, having the worst season of his career got named as Caron Butler's replacement) and my homeboy Hedo Turkoglu has quietly been Orlando's best player for the past three months. I think the East team is like 12 African Americans, unless I'm mistaken. How diverse.
I won't even bother arguing Manu's statistical and intangible merits over Roy. One would have to be a complete moron to even debate such a thing. What I will tell you, and what I've said for years is this: If Manu Ginobili was from Des Moines, Iowa instead of Bahia Blanca, Argentina, you would be absolutely sick of him by now, because he'd be on more commercials than Peyton Manning and more magazine covers than LeBron James. He's one of the top dozen players in the league, unequivocally, and all you hear about him is the flopping and the bald spot. It really is astounding. I keep waiting for the Simmons column about this phenomenon, because as he keeps reminding us he's such a huge basketball fan, but he's as blind to it as everyone else. John Hollinger seems to be the only national media guy who's bright enough to figure out that Ginobili is a superstar.
The league and its fans have been looking for The Great White Hope ever since Bird retired. The problem is that nobody imagined that he would come from Argentina or Spain or Turkey . It's really fucked, if you think about it. Somehow I blame Bush for this.
The funny thing is that Manu gets more open looks from three than anybody in the NBA. Guys are so afraid of being posterized by him, they just sag back and let him fire away. I'm sure Pop just goes to bed every night laughing his ass off about the league's preening, arrogant vanity. The Spurs will always compete for a chip because they're one of the three or four teams willing to win ugly when the league is saturated by "stars" who are perfectly content to look good (and get paid handsomely) while losing.
You know why Stern is ignoring the suggestion made by numerous media types to make the All-Star game U.S. vs. The World? Because the U.S. team would get their asses kicked by 30 points (especially if Duncan counts as a foreigner) and it would set off a firestorm in the league and before long Al Sharpton would get involved.
Anywho, I don't know when I will post again. I'll do it regularly in the playoffs for sure, but before then, I don't know. I see that PtR has gotten along fine without me anyway. It's just hard to do this while I have a life. It was so much easier last year, when I didn't have a whole lot else going on.
P.S. I know it was in some other post, but for the record, I have the all time best Manu picture....
Pssst! Don't make any sudden movements, he's kinda crazy.