How much time do I have left before it's all over and a champion is crowned? A week? Ten days? Chris W: U MAD
16. Ronmetta Artestpeace
Sorry, I can't call someone "World Peace" after he concusses James Harden and his beard with a deliberate/intentional/vicious elbow.
Always nice to have a joke spoonfed to you. "Deadspin? More like DUMBspin. I say this because I think Deadspin is DUMB."
You could tell the difference between "people who have never played basketball" and "people who actually play basketball" by the way they reacted to this story — if your argument was, "He didn't see Harden, he didn't realize what happened," then you've never played basketball.
No one said that. Now let's burn this straw man! Burn it good!
There are no accidents on a basketball court, save for two guys colliding because they were looking up at a rebound or something. It's not hockey. You know where you are and what you're doing pretty much all the time.
Unless you're JaVale McGee. Wizards JaVale McGee, anyways.
If a normal person accidentally ripped an elbow into someone's head and knocked him out on a basketball court, he would immediately stop running, feel horrified, hope the injured guy got up, then crouch over him to make sure he was OK. This would happen every time — repeat: every time — unless either (a) the guy totally meant to throw that elbow, and (b) the guy was a full-fledged fucking lunatic. In that case, the guy would glance at the victim's fallen body in disdain and keep running the other way, then raise his hands to fight whoever came charging at him. That's exactly what Ronmetta did. Which means he should have been suspended for 15 games, not seven.
Of course you're saying that, you hate the Lakers.
And before you throw the whole "of course you're saying that, you hate the Lakers" line at me,
Aw snap! Occam's Razor argument: THWARTED
please understand, I'm delighted that Ronmetta came back early. Here's the thing about Ronmetta: He's only good when he's playing physical, hard-nosed, passionate, occasionally insane basketball. He struggled early this season (and all of last season) because he was playing, for lack of a better word, soft. Kobe kept working on him and working on him, and finally, the old Artest came back during a game in Boston.
BASKETBAWL MECCA! OF CAHHHSE AHHTEST WOULD FIND HIS GAME DURING A VISIT TO THE HOUSE THAT PEDROIA BUILT! Classic Bill, assuming anything and everything happens in THE HUB. He's like a cuntball elitist New Yorker, only more wrong about the importance of his city. MWP in the 10 games before that Boston game: 4.0 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists. MWP in The Game: 2 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist. MWP in the 10 games after: 6.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists. And that scoring average is buoyed by him scoring 9, 8 and 15 points in the last three games of that sequence--if you look at the 7 game sets before and after The Game, which I didn't do because that felt dirty for some reason, his numbers are virtually identical. Conclusion: the legendary TD Garden crowd willed Artest to become an ever so slightly more mediocre player.
Gradually, he played himself into shape and found the right physical/passionate/crazy balance; by April, he had evolved into a genuine asset. But that's the thing … he only got there by unleashing Artest and turning his back on World Peace, which is what eventually led to the indefensible Harden elbow (and his even more indefensible reaction afterward).
I love how vocal and assertive he is about this: elbowing people in the head is wrong. And while we're at it, what Jordan Hill (allegedly) did is not OK either!
You know what it reminds me of, actually? Mike Tyson. [rest of paragraph deleted]
And given how brutally boring and obvious everything he's said in this section so far has been, I'll spare you the paragraph in which he deftly explains how the most famous crazy athlete of the last ten years is SHOCKINGLY SIMILAR to the most famous crazy athlete of the ten years before that.
15. Danny Granger
I normally avoid looking at a player's numbers in wins and losses because those statistics can be deceiving — for instance, Rajon Rondo's scoring numbers always look better when the Celtics lose.
I normally don't do this perfectly legitimate analytical exercise, because it sometimes produces results that seem counterintuitive to me (but in fact are not counterintuitive at all).
But in Granger's case?
I'll make an exception, because in this case the data helps me prove the point I already decided want to make. That's how statistics work. I learned about it from FanGraphs.
I watched them all season thinking he was Indiana's one-man litmus test — in other words, when he plays well, they look like a legitimate contender, and when he sucks, they don't.
I had a genius idea because I am The Sports Despot. Turns out my idea WAS RIGHT! Bask in my greatness!
So I couldn't resist looking up his scoring numbers.
Wins: 20.5 PPG, 43.6 percent shooting, 43.9 percent for 3s.
Losses: 15.2 PPG, 37.2 percent shooting, 27.0 percent for 3s.
Hmmmmmmm. Could it really be that simple?
Well, the same numbers say Rondo scores more when the Celtics lose, so my inclination is to say NO WAY! NOT POSSIBLE! TOO DECEIVING!
The bigger question: Can you really compete for an NBA title when someone of Granger's caliber is your best guy? Technically, yes … if it were a 2004 Pistons/2000 Blazers/1998 Pacers–type situation,
2002 Kings if you don't count C-Webb, 2005 Pistons, 2007 Warriors (hell yes I'm counting them, that team ruled)
in which a contender had enough depth, veteran know-how and big/small flexbility that their lack of a true alpha dog didn't totally submarine them. The Pacers have depth and big/small flexibility, but veteran know-how? No way. I can't take the Pacers seriously.
Take it from a guy who often gets 40% of his gambling picks right!
Sorry. In fact …
You really don't need to use a segue for every one of these. It's obnoxious. You're like a child who just learned a big word and tries to use it every 10 minutes.
14. Patrick Ewing
If Ewing wasn't coaching in Orlando, you could have talked me into the Howard-less Magic potentially pulling off a Ewing Theory run and shocking the Pacers.
I might not have been as perfectly crystal clear as I could have been a few posts ago when I explained how utterly idiotic the Ewing Theory is. Let me leave no doubt this time around.
Ewing joined the Knicks in 1985. The team had made the playoffs four times in the previous ten years.
From 1988 to 2000, the Knicks and Ewing made the playoffs every single year.
In 1994, the Knicks made the NBA Finals (where they were defeated by the Rockets in a seven game series that could have gone either way). Ewing averaged 24 and 11 with 3 blocks during the regular season, and 22 and 12 with 3 blocks in the postseason. He averaged 19 and 12 with 4 blocks during the Finals. It was a low-scoring Finals, neither team scored more than 93 points in any of the seven games. In short, Patrick Ewing was always awesome at basketball, he was definitely awesome at basketball during the 1994 playoffs, and he was definitely awesome at basketball during the 1994 Finals. The Knicks lost that series for a number of reasons, none of had anything to do with Patrick Ewing.
During the strike-shortened 1999 season, the Knicks squeaked into the playoffs but advanced to the conference finals against the Pacers. Ewing was 36 that season but still averaged 19 and 9 with 2.5 blocks. Take him off that team and they almost certainly miss the playoffs (they were the 8 seed). By the time the playoffs rolled around, he was probably out of gas. He averaged 13 and 9 and just 1 block. In game two of that conference finals series against Indiana, Ewing tore his achilles tendon and missed the rest of the playoffs. The Knicks would lose the game, evening the series at a game apiece, but go on to win the series in six. They would lose in the Finals to San Antonio in five games. Record with Ewing during those playoffs: 8-3. Record without Ewing: 4-5.
The Knicks traded Ewing after the 2000 season. They would make the playoffs just twice in the next ten years. They have not won a playoff series since.
There were undoubtedly times during Ewing's career when the Knicks played well when he was out of the lineup. Such as most of the 1998 season, and probably some other games/stretches of games. There were also hundreds upon hundreds of times the Knicks played awesome when Ewing was in the lineup, and many many times they won games predominantly because he was in the lineup.
Conclusion to be drawn from all of this (NOTE, DO NOT DRAW THIS CONCLUSION UNLESS YOU ARE A FUCKING ASSHOLE): the Knicks were better off without Ewing, and anytime a team gets rid of a great player, be on the lookout for them to play better than they did when they had the player. If it happens: THE EWING THEORY IS REAL AND NOW I WILL TELL MY FRIENDS AND CO-WORKERS ABOUT IT! If it doesn't happen, which is the case 95% of the time: lie in wait, my friend. Superstars change teams all the time. You'll have another chance to show how brilliant you are someday soon.
Feels good to get that off my chest.
Wouldn't Ewing's presence reverse the effects of the Ewing Theory?
Scientists say: ??????
It's like crossing the streams in Ghostbusters. As much as I want to pick an emotional "Eff You, Dwight!" upset by the Magic in which they start raining 3s for two straight weeks, this whole Ewing/Ewing thing scares me off. It hurts my head.
You and me bother, brother. You and me both.
13. Amar'e Stoudemire
Let's say Carmelo plays LeBron to a draw.
An unlikely but possible scenario in 2004. Completely impossible in any year after 2006.
Let's say Iman Shumpert slows down Wade.
Wouldn't have been impossible had Shumpert not gotten hurt. Just not a very good bet.
Let's say Chandler executes his 2011 Finals defensive know-how and throttles Miami around the rim.
Chandler is awesome, but he gets no help at all from any of NY's other big men. Amare might be the worst defender in the entire league. The Heat have a decent post guy in Bosh, and two of the five best guards in the league in terms of ability to finish around the rim. Come on.
Let's say a delirious MSG crowd wins Game 3,
By paying a bunch of Celtics fans to drive down for the game?
'Melo wins one game, and they win one game on the road because Novak and J.R. Smith started draining 3s as if it were a pop-a-shot game.
It's as if Basketball Czar Bill doesn't want to acknowledge that the Heat are one of the best perimeter defensive teams in the league.
That makes it a seven-game series, which means that the Knicks only need ONE monster throwback Amar'e game to pull off one of the great upsets in the history of the franchise.
(Hold on, there's a gigantic "but" coming …)
(Seriously, it's a really, really big one …)
Here's the problem: As any Knicks fan will tell you,
The Knicks never had any chance at winning this series ever. The Heat are the most talented team in the league and they don't have letdown/effortless games very often. The Knicks had no depth, no defense outside of Chandler, and were missing the only player who actually energized them for a short stretch this season.
Amar'e hasn't looked the same since the Knicks traded for Carmelo in February 2011. Actually, he started sliding sooner than that: Mike D'Antoni ran him into the ground during the first 12 weeks of that season. In December 2010, Amar'e averaged 39.5 minutes, 29.8 points and 22.4 field goal attempts on knees that were so shaky,the Knicks couldn't even get insurance on them. He's never really recovered from that month. First his legs started going on him, then his back, and about halfway through this shortened season, he started to look like one of those banged-up mini-vans that a family is just trying to keep on four wheels until their lease expires … only in this case, Stoudemire's lease runs through 2015 (for another $65 million after this season). They rested him for a month; he came back last week and looked decent (last 4 games: 56% FG). Could he swing Round 1 with one vintage Amar'e game? Doe's he hav'e it in hi'm?
That joke with the apostrophes is pretty racist but I'll let it slide in the interest of pointing out Bill's hilarious logic to justify this paragraph. "Let's start with the premise that all the Knicks need to win this series is one big game from Amare (that doesn't coincide with the one huge game Carmelo will have this series, the one game the MSG crowd wins on its own, and the one game that Steve Novak and JR Smith manage to do anything on offense). So we start with that clearly not worthless premise. Now let me explain why this really unlikely Amare thing MAY OR MAY NOT HAPPEN." Christ, I hate this asshole.
12. Shaquille O'Neal
Hate to keep belaboring this … but can TNT trade Shaq before the playoffs so we can enjoy Inside the NBA in peace?
He's not that bad. They certainly don't need him, but it's not like he's ruining everything.
Can they send him to the NBC Sports Network for Mike Milbury?
Take it from this brand new hockey fan: you only have to watch hockey on NBC for about a month before you realize what a fucking joke Milbury is.
What about Shaq to ESPN along with two no. 1 picks, $2 million, and the rights to Season 4 of Franklin & Bash for Stephen A. Smith?
WHO SAYS NO??????
Can they just amnesty him? Did TNT get an amnesty clause in the new labor agreement? Why isn't this a bigger deal? IT'S THE PLAYOFFS! I NEED ME SOME CHUCK AND I NEED ME SOME KENNY! WE WERE DOING FINE! WE WERE DOING FINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We were, I agree with that, but you can stop picking on Shaq for being a former Laker. It's not like the Celtics were any good during his prime years in LA.
11. Blake Griffin
[Five paragraphs summarized: LEAVE BLAKE ALONE! LEAVE HIM ALONE!]
10. Al Jefferson
On Tuesday night, Utah beat Phoenix on national TV to make the playoffs. Big Al took over in the fourth, making four straight shots to clinch the game. My wife happened to be reading a magazine as I watched this happen — she noticed me smiling and asked why.
Tell me more about your life! /puts down phone without hanging up, walks away
"Because I love Big Al," I said.
"Who's Big Al?" she said.
Here's what I wanted to say: "He used to play for the Celtics. Even as a rookie, it quickly became clear that he could score on anyone, at any time, in any situation — even if you blindfolded him, spun him around and shot paintballs at him while blaring Linkin Park. We fully expected him to be Our Next Great Guy, only every time he started gaining momentum, he'd sprain a knee or twist an ankle. Nobody had worse luck. When the team went in the tank, he developed some bad habits and eventually became the centerpiece of that KG deal. Great, more losing for Big Al. That cloud kept following him. He blew out his knee in February '09 right when he was playing his best basketball ever. He came back the following year and got Kahnrambised, followed by Utah stealing him in the summer of 2010 for Kosta Koufos and two non-lottery picks … and two years later, we're here. He's finally on a good team. I'm happy for him. I feel like hugging my television right now."
I mean, I have to give him this: I rip him apart for knowing nothing about baseball or football, being a bandwagon Bruins and Patriots fan, and for generally being a snively little shit who cares about 50% as much about sports as most people think, and knows 10% as much. But Jeebus, this man loves the Celtics. He truly loves them. He's still propping up Joe Johnson and Al Jefferson, years and years after they left the team. He won't shut the fuck up about Tony Allen, who also left the Celtics a long time ago and isn't even that good (even with his defense). Fuck him in his stupid face, but this man... loves the Celtics.
I didn't say any of that. You know what actually happened? She made me On-Demand The Client List. I wish I were making that up.
By the way, this won't be a token four-and-out for the precocious Jazz — that Jefferson-Millsap-Favors frontline is a nightmare for a finesse Spurs team that has trouble protecting the paint, and in case you didn't notice, Devin Harris and Gordon Hayward are playing out of their minds right now.
It was a token four-and-out for the precocious Jazz, and none of the games were that close. I would have picked on this had I been writing this two weeks ago, too. Bulee dat.
There's no way in hell San Antonio is losing to an 8-seed for a second straight year, but it's going six games … at least.
SUPER BOWL PICK: GREATRIOTS 27, GIANTS 2.
I really like this Jazz team. If something ever happens to me, you have my permission to make Kevin O'Connor the new VP of Common Sense.
Who will be the Czar of Frontrunnerism and the Minister of Bad Gambling Picks?