Monday, May 28, 2012

Consider this my apology to Bill

Back when Simmons talked about how the Celtics LITERALLY (note: not literally) threw their hat in the ring for the 2012 NBA title, I laughed for a few minutes and then proclaimed that I would publicly apologize if they took their conference semis series to game 6.  Thanks to Derrick Rose's magical exploding ACL, the Celtics did just that and eventually outlasted a 35-31 Sixers team to make the conference finals.  So... sorry Bill.  You were right.  If we allow for a devastating injury to the most important player on the best or second best team in the conference, the Celtics might be one of the two best teams in the east.  I think Indiana is probably better than them though.  Anyways, based on what I saw in tonight's Heat/Celtics game, there's no way this series goes six like the Heat/Pacers series did.  Here's to Miami dropping game two and then winning the next three, so the series closes out in Miami and Boston doesn't win any home games.  Yeah, I'm a big enough jerk to think that scenario through.  And if Boston makes the finals I said I'd shut the blog down.  Let's hope LeBron and Wade show up for three out of the next six games so I don't have to renege on that one.

Meanwhile, I suppose I should probably start plugging away at Bill's latest article.  WHO SAYS NO?  Give me a good reason I shouldn't.  You can't.

The Playoff Eclipse Chronicles

OOOOH BIG WORDS!  Bill probably isn't responsible for his own headlines, but assuming that's the case, his editor is just as desperate to impress readers as he is.

"You're gonna write about this, right?"

Even when he's not doing a mailbag column, he still goes out of his way to make sure you know how much people like him.

Someone asked me that during halftime of Sunday night's Clippers-Spurs game. 

After Bill spent the first two quarters announcing without being asked that he was a sportswriter by trade.

We were in the home stretch at that point: In the previous 74 hours, the same spot in downtown Los Angeles had somehow hosted six playoff games, two elimination games, two doubleheaders and an allegedly important cycling race. If that wasn't enough, we also witnessed a solar eclipse and Antonio Cromartie's controversial halftime orgy with the Clippers dance squad. I only made one of those things up.

Antonio Cromartie has a lot of kids.  This has been a joke for several years now, and got beaten twice to death during the 2010 edition of Hard Knocks.  But sure, go right ahead.  Up next: a fresh take on Tiger Woods' marital troubles.

"Absolutely," I said. "I'm definitely writing about this."

And the person who asked the question was already out of their seat and well on their way up the aisle to the concourse.

"What's your angle gonna be? Just about going to all the games?"

"I only went to five of the six, but yeah."

So evidently he went to at least one Kings game.  Penner/Clowe joke goes here.

"You should just lie and say you went to all six. That would be a good column."

Someone who thinks they have an idea worth pitching to Bill: somehow... worse than Bill?

"I can't lie, people saw me on Saturday night. I wasn't here."


"Yeah, that makes sense."

The person thought about it for a second. And then …

Threw a full tray of nachos in your face?

"I don't know anyone who went to all six. But in a couple of years, I bet a lot of people will say they did."

And those people will be posturing to be recognized as gigantic assholes, because I'm sure Lakers playoff tickets are extremely expensive and Kings/Clippers tickets can't be too far behind.  In a metro area with like 12 million people, most of whom are shameless frontrunners, I imagine demand is through the roof right now.  Unless they were only hanging out with other gigantic assholes, or were somehow a diehard fan of all three of those teams (estimated number of people who are true diehards for both the Lakers and the Clippers: zero), who would brag about that?

It's a great point. People love fibbing about fan-related stuff. Eight years after the Roberts Steal changed Boston sports history, 83 percent of the swollen Red Sox fan base claim they were in Fenway when it happened, and even better, that they never left to beat the traffic (even though so many others did). 

Pretty sure he admitted to having left his seat (and having seen the steal from the concourse) at some point in the past few weeks.  Making him only 75% as much of a pud as those who left.

Every city has a handful of "I was there!" sports moments like that. 

I wanted to take a cheap shot at Cleveland or Seattle here, but I'm going to hold off.  FOR NOW.

You hear someone claiming to be there, you want to believe them … but you don't totally believe them. Hitting L.A. Live for six playoff games over the course of four nights? Harder than it sounds. 

It sounds fucking impossible. 

You need connections. 


You need money. 

No shit.

You need to be single.

What would be really helpful is if you had a job that never required you to be in an office.  Bill Simmons: the voice of the regular everyday average Joe fan.

Or, you need to be me. 

God, you're a twathole.

From this point forward, I'm just going to start claiming that I attended all six games. (And what an incredible weekend it was! I can't believe I went to all six games!) 

In case there was any doubt that Bill has fully assimilated into LA and its shallow, insufferable, self-important culture, take note that he just spent a few hundred words setting up the CRITICAL DISTINCTION between having attended five out of six big important events versus having attended all six. 

Nobody was happier about last weekend than AEG, the company that owns Staples Center and its surrounding real estate. A few years ago, that once-downtrodden area was improbably transformed from a collection of hideous above-ground parking lots to the perpetually happy "L.A. Live," a multi-block complex featuring dozens of offices (including Grantland's headquarters), restaurants, bars, the Nokia Theatre, a mammoth JW Marriott/Ritz-Carlton, an obnoxiously big movie theater, bowling (that's right, bowling!), and enough parking to handle upwards of 35,000 people at the same time. You couldn't ask for a better host for consecutive doubleheaders, simply because it's such an underrated place to waste time.

In what universe could a giant funplex of food, movies, bowling, and live entertainment in SoCal be underrated as a place to waste time?  Who would say that that place doesn't sound incredibly awesome?  People over the age of 95?  Eskimos?

My favorite L.A. Live story before last weekend: A few months ago, a Kings home game at Staples Center started at the exact same time as a Wiz Khalifa concert at the Nokia Theatre, inadvertently creating the single funniest swarm of congestion that's ever happened. Let's just say there wasn't a ton of overlap between the two fan bases. 

LOL people from different cultures have different interests!  White people be driving like this, but black people be driving like this!  Watch out Chappelle: there's a new heavy hitter on the sociological comedy scene.

That story got supplanted by my new favorite story about L.A. Live, which happened Saturday during the first of two doubleheaders: Two of my friends caught the Clippers-Spurs game, then found themselves with three hours to kill before the Lakers-OKC game. Hmmmmm … three hours … MOVIE!


They checked out movie theater times and found a perfect window to see The Dictator. So they walk over to the Regal Cinemas, buy tickets, sit down … and who do they see in another row killing time like them? That's right, Jimmy Goldstein, the stylish millionaire who sits courtside for seemingly every NBA playoff game, wears colorful leather jackets, sits next to long-legged blondes and always looks like he just smoked the biggest bowl on the planet. You know, this guy. Did Jimmy bring one of those long-legged blondes to The Dictator? Of course he did! I'm anointing this L.A. Live's greatest moment ever, 

Like I said, if you were on the fence as to whether or not Bill has become just another wannabe-important member of LA's vapid upper middle class, ponder no further.

narrowly edging former Grantland editor Lane Brown ordering a cobb salad from The Farm of Beverly Hills for 38 days in a row last summer.

Holy shit.  I'm done for the night.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

John Kruk: Terrified of numbers of all kinds

I have to admit, Krukie's BBTN analysis has improved over the years.  He used to say stuff like this and this.  Lately he's a lot less offensive and has even learned to read a teleprompter.  Good for him.  Tonight, though, he put together a little mini rant that I found both amusing and illuminating.  Amusing because let's face it, it's always funny when a fat idiot gets worked up about something, and illuminating because it showed that ex-player neanderthals like him who hate advanced stats also hate any other numerical information that's not batting average/number of pitching wins.  In other words Kruk showed that the universe of stuff he'd rather not understand is a lot larger than I previously thought it was.

ESPN occasionally does these little Sport Science bits; they're actually not a huge waste of time.  They dumb down the physics behind awesome stuff that athletes do and then present their analysis with some cool-looking production.  Here's how much force LeBron generates when he jumps to dunk, here's the amount of torque Tiger Woods generates when he swings, etc.  It's like a video version of a USA Today infographic.  Early this evening on BBTN they did one about this Justin Sellers catch.  The narrator (who is not one of the anchors; it's a pre-recorded bit) described the amount of time Sellers spent looking at the ball to judge its trajectory, the "optimal acceleration cancellation" his brain used to create a vectored route that would intersect with the ball's trajectory, the speed at which he was running when he tumbled into the stands (19 mph), and the force of impact he made with the wall (somehow equivalent to being hit by a car going 20 rather than 19 mph).  It was reasonably entertaining.  And when it was over, we were taken back to the studio to get Kruk and Karl Ravech's thoughts.  Take it away, Larry B's DVR.

Sport Science narrator, wrapping things up:  Sellers manages to hold onto the ball after tumbling into the stands, and grab our play of the week.  

KR: I love it.  I love what I just saw.  I love that stuff.  There he is.  He basically caught the ball, got hit by a car, and held onto it.

JK:  At twenty miles per hour.

[graphic on screen: Most defensive runs saved by Dodgers in 2012.  Sellers is second on the team with 4 in just 90 innings in the field.]

KR:  At twenty miles per hour.  That's Justin Sellers there, Jerry Hairston Junior, as far as the Dodgers go... (obviously trolling Kruk) Krukie, what part of that resonates with you?  Was it the optimal acceleration cancellation?  

JK (sarcastically):  That was... that was where I really got into it.  (pause)  Karl.

KR (chuckling):  What.

JK:  My optical illusions told me when I watched that play that it was a great play.  I don't need science to tell me that was a great play.  I don't.  I don't care how long his eyes were on the ball.  I don't care if a car going FIFTY miles per hour hit him.

KR:  Yeah, well, that was-

JK:  He made a great play.  I didn't need science to tell me that.

KR:  Well, it allows to just-

JK (exasperated):  Sometimes, let's just use our eyes.  Let's just use our eyes!

KR:  So... you don't want to know HOW great a play it was.

JK  (still exasperated):  No.  I know how great a play it was!  It was very difficult!

KR:  He caught it.  Got hit by a car.  And held onto it.

JK: (exhales audibly)  I feel like I got hit by a car.

What's the best part of that?  Him pleading with us to "just use our eyes," as if one could enjoy Sellers' play by knowing the Sport Science facts but without actually have seen the catch?  "My optical illusions?"  Ravech unashamedly setting Kruk up for a rant against an in-house production piece?  Pretty fun.  I also enjoyed their signoff about 30 minutes later, before Sunday Night Baseball began, in which Karl awkwardly announced that they'd be back for more Baseball Tonight after the game in part because he didn't think he and Kruk had done anything to get fired during the show.  Great stuff.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jon Heyman shows us the funny

What... what happened here? Reading this made me feel like I stumbled upon a grisly crime scene. Why did he write this? Who edited it? Who approved it for publication? We've seen a lot of terrible attempts at humor but I think this might be the first time I've seen Heyman try his luck at an entire column that is all jokes. Holy God, what a blimp crash.

The Angels didn't attribute the firing of hitting coach Mickey Hatcher after 12-plus years of service to the wishes of their new well-paid singles hitter Albert Pujols. But if these type of changes keep happening, well, we we all suspect that you know who is the one who's really in charge.

Cue up Yakety Sax and whoopie cushion sounds.

Nine Signs Light-Hitting Infielder Albert Pujols is Running the Angels
1. The traditional long-running team insignia, the halo, is replaced by an arch.

GET IT??????

Instead of a halo being alighted on days the Angels win, the arch will glow whenever Pujols gets a ball out of the infield.

Joke #1 about how Albert misses St. Louis, which, besides just being dumb and hacky, also makes little sense given the fact that Pujols seemed perfectly happy to leave the Cardinals. If reports came out that he agonized over the decision, ultimately went with LAA because of family reasons or something, and then was on record as saying it was devastating for him to walk out on the Cardinals, this would merely be a bad attempt at humor based on the assumption that people think replacing the Angels' giant halo with something else would be hilarious. Instead it is both that and not founded in reality, making it even more obtuse. If we start Off to a great start.

2. CIA agents are hired to ensure no sensitive information is leaked from team meetings such as precisely which player proclaimed the team would turn it around.

On one hand, the fact that Pujols was mad about Hatcher's "betrayal" is a little lame considering that Hatcher didn't leak any information that was sensitive or important to the press. (Hey look, this joke actually is founded in reality!) On the other (correct) hand, what Hatcher did was still plenty stupid and plenty unnecessary, considering it pissed off the team's franchise player. And btw HAW HAW HAW CIA AGENTS THAT'S RICH

3. Fans entering Angels stadium will be met by a greeter saying "Bienvenido,'' an homage to Pujols' famous softball-playing father Bienvenido Pujols.

*game show buzzer* *second louder buzzer for racism* Hey, Pujols's dad's name means a word in his native language! You've never met a white guy named "Welcome" have you? Didn't think so.

4. The spread will now be catered by Pujols 5, the St. Louis restaurant.

Joke #2 about how Albert misses St. Louis. And I hate to critique all these jokes with the all caps thing I mostly stole from Drew Magary, because that makes me barely more funny than Jon, but I can't think of a better way to tear down garbage like this than HAW HAW IT'S HIS RESTAURANT, BUT FROM HIS OLD TEAM SO HE PROBABLY LIKES THE FOOD EVEN THOUGH IT'S FROM THE OLD TEAM

Look, I know most of you reading could do better, I'm hardly George Carlin or Chris Rock here. The all caps overexplain the joke bit is all I've got right now. roll with me. I've had a horrific week.

5. The bench coach henceforth serves a dual role as caddy for the avid golfer Albert.

*game show buzzer* Doesn't Rick Reilly have intellectual property rights on all terrible humor that involves golf?

6. The new team name is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Dominican Republic by way of Kansas City.

No buzzer- this is the only joke on this list I will somewhat partially tolerate (relative to the rest of this urea) because "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" is pretty fucking stupid, and whichever marketing whiz came up with it should be beaten with a tire iron.

7. The trade is finally complete: Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos, Erick Aybar, Mark Trumbo, Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson, Jordan Walden, Hank Conger and the entire roster of the Salt Lake Bees for Yadier Molina.


Joke #3 about the team/town that Pujols claims to not miss at all.

8. Agent Dan Lozano is given his own $10-million personal services contract.

This is an incredibly idiotic joke, but the "LOL FAVORITISM TOWARDS AGENTS" aspect is pretty great coming from a guy who spends a good bit of his offseason column space carrying water for the biggest and most powerful agent in the game.

9. Introducing the new manager of the Angels, Jose Oquendo.

Joke #4 premised on a thing that does not exist. But you know what, how great would it be if Pujols got legendary cocktug Mike Scoscia fired? I'm in favor of any sequence of events that produces that outcome.

In conclusion Jon Heyman is probably slightly worse at writing jokes than Bill Simmons.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

By the time you read this, FireJay will be five years old

It's true.  We've been clogging up the internet tubes for a full five years.  That first day of the blog's existence produced several gems.  And hey, in terms of the subject matter we most frequently bitch about, look how much has changed!  Check some of those early posts if you're feeling super bored today. Those were lean times.  It's hard to believe, but I was an even worse writer then than I am now.  At least my life is way better! Back then I was a low level employee at a big company in a depressing city.  Now I'm a midlevel employee at a different big company in the same depressing city.  Let that be a lesson to you, future sports bloggers: your dreams can and will come true.  (Peter King addendum to previous sentence: Maybe.)

5. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen

You already know my thoughts on Boston's title chances.

/grinds teeth

The Celtics are still just as likely to win the Stanley Cup as they are to win the NBA title.  But I'm still annoyed.

My friend Grande called it first back in February: Even then, before Boston's improbable resurgence, it made the most sense for Boston and Chicago to battle in the 2012 playoffs 

In February, your buttclog of a friend "called it" because "it made the most sense."  Holy shit.  We've found someone with an even looser grasp than Bill on the mechanics of the world of sports.

in one of those classic, "Once upon a time, you were the teacher and I was the pupil, only now, the pupil is all growns up!" 

Star Wars reference + Swingers reference = HOLLYWOOD GOLD

series that would feature tons of highlights from their unforgettable 2009 clash 

As Bill calls it, "[the Celtics'] finals" that year.  No really, after winning that one, they had no reason to keep trying.  At that point they had successfully defended their 2008 title.  You're welcome, Orlando. 

that spawned not one but two columns from me (and served as Derrick Rose's unofficial breakout party, 

Rose's breakout came 14 months earlier during March Madness 2008, but don't expect Bill to miss out on an opportunity to try to convince you that he's a step ahead of the game when it comes to identifying great basketball players everyone already knew were great.

as well as Joe Dumars's break-out-the-wallet-to-overpay-Ben-Gordon party).

It sounds silly, but sometimes things are just destined to happen … 

It sounds like ridiculous bullshit.

and that's why I can't take Atlanta seriously. The Celtics are meant to play Chicago in Round 2. 

I wish it had happened (with a healthy Rose).  How delightful it would have been to see the Celtics get bounced in 5 and have Bill talk about how the Atlanta series was their finals in 2012.

You have the Chicago ties with KG and Doc; you have the Boston ties with Thibodeau and Scalabrine. You have the fantastically underrated Rose-Rondo rivalry (which started in 2009 and blossomed at the USA Basketball tryouts), as well as Avery Bradley (my favorite Celtic in eons) ready to lock Rose down and put himself on the map. You have Noah and Garnett doing their whole passive-aggressive, fake tough-guy agitation routines. You have a really good Pierce-Deng chess match, as well as Chicago killer Ray Allen lurking. You have the seeds for an epic Stiemsma-Asik battle. You have Doc and Thibodeau … and let there be no mistake, Doc would love nothing more than outwitting Thibs in a playoff series and putting the whole "You've never been the same without Thibs" narrative to rest once and for all. It's going to be an absolute classic. You know, assuming both teams get there. I think they will, and I think it's meant to be.

You have a bunch of stuff that's interesting, because these are two of the 16 best teams on the planet and they have interesting players and coaches.  THE STARS AND MOONS ARE ALIGNING.

Speaking of destiny … the odds of a Lakers-Celtics Finals are 50-to-1. 

You know, gambling on that is a great hedge against the insufferable coverage that series would get.  "Wow, I can't go to any sports websites or watch Sportscenter for 2 weeks, but at least I just made $1000."

Just throwing it out there. (Waiting.) Why are you laughing?

Because an episode of The Three Stooges is on in the background as I type this?

4. Chris Paul

I already made the case for his runner-up MVP season here and here, as well as the case that Paul shifts gears like the driver of a Formula 1 car depending on the game, the quarter or even the moment … and under that analogy, you'd think he's saving a little extra something for the playoffs, a little like how Dom Toretto always saves that one last nitrous oxide blast for the biggest moment. Just one problem: I hate the Memphis matchup for him. They can contain Paul with Tony Allen and Mike Conley (a quality defender); as we learned all season, the Clippers' crunch-time offense is basically, "Go ahead, Chris, do something." Again, Memphis is constructed to shut down teams like that. So either Paul clicks that nitrous blast, goes to another level and cements his status as "the best pure point guard ever," or the Clippers are going down … hard. I'm betting on the latter.

Making today's game 7 result very unsurprising.

(Important note: None of this will matter next season, when the Clips are contending as Vinny Del Negro works the weekday midnight shift with a demoted Shaq on NBA TV.)


3. Kobe Bryant
2. Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich
1. LeBron James

Lumping the last three together because, from a legacy standpoint, they have the most at stake. 

Already went over this a couple posts ago.  It would be true to say that all have a lot to gain.  But Kobe and Duncan/Popovich have very little to lose, meaning they have nothing at stake.  Saying what he just said is like saying "Tom Brady has more at stake in 2012 than any other FOOTBALL player."

If the Lakers win the title, "Kobe vs. Jordan" becomes a legitimate conversation to the chagrin of everyone who believes Jordan was the greatest basketball player who ever lived who ever lived and that we're never seeing another MJ. You know I'm in that camp, but at some point, the sheer girth of Kobe's résumé is going to outlive every reverential Jordan story. 

Such a concerted attempt to minimize Kobe's accomplishments.  The best part about his resume is apparently its "girth," which is an obvious attempt to damn with faint praise.  If I weren't of the opinion that Kobe is a Grade A jizzbag, I'd put more of an effort into refuting this. 

With a sixth ring, Kobe only has to break the scoring record and become the owner of an NBA team that disgraces itself by finishing 5-77 to truly threaten Jordan's throne.

Don't forget the awkward underwear ads with Kevin Bacon!

As for Duncan and Popovich, they have a chance to win titles 13 seasons apart — something that's never even come close to happening in the NBA. Riley and Magic-Kareem won titles six seasons apart. Auerbach and Russell won titles nine seasons apart. But 13??? Will we ever see that again? 

I'm not counting them out or anything, but given the way they've bounced out of the playoffs the past three years (zero second round games won, bounced in the first round as the West's top seed last year) it stands to reason that their title gap is going to remain at eight years.  Who knows, maybe the fact that the season was shorter (although also more concentrated) than a normal season will play into their hand or something.

And also, a fifth Spurs title would propel them into the "Greatest Runs Ever" discussion along with Russell's Celtics (13 years, 11 titles), MJ's Bulls (eight years, six titles), Mikan's Minneapolis teams (six years, five titles) and Kahn's Timberwolves (just kidding). 


Throw in Duncan's legacy, Parker's Hall of Fame candidacy, Ginobili's Hall of Fame candidacy and the thought of Stephen Jackson, Matt Bonner, Boris Diaw and Boris Diaw's boobs hugging at midcourt in the single strangest basketball moment of all time 

Some lofty hyperbole there.  Ricky Davis shooting at his own basket to get another rebound for his triple double is not giving up that top spot anytime soon.

and, other than that, there's nothing at stake here.
And by the way, the Spurs should win the title — 


they have the deepest team, multiple crunch-time scorers, killer outside shooting, some much-needed swagger (thanks to Captain Jack's emotional return), the best coach and the best identity (at this point, they know EXACTLY what they are). Maybe if Ginobili weren't playing hurt and they hadn't run into the Z-Bo Chainsaw, it would have been them instead of Dallas last year. 

That's laughable.  Ginobili was a little banged up, so they lost to an 8 seed that lost in the next round to a team that then lost to the Mavericks in 5 in the conference finals.  THEY WERE SO CLOSE!  

Regardless, they have one really good crack at history here. Will they do it? I felt so unsure of my pick that I didn't even have the heart to stick it in the column — I relegated it to the footnotes.

He picked the Spurs, meaning you should withdraw all the money from your 401(k) and put half on OKC and half on Miami.

And then, there's LeBron James … who's about two weeks away from joining the following group (presented in alphabetical order).

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Larry Bird
Wilt Chamberlain
Magic Johnson
Michael Jordan
Moses Malone
Bill Russell

That's the complete list of everyone who won three or more NBA MVP trophies. 

I watched Stern give him the trophy today, it was really funny because he tried to name everyone on that list but gave up after Magic, Bird, and Malone.  Dude needed a teleprompter.

You know what else? In my 700-page monolith of an NBA book, 

Please don't call your own book a monolith.  You're unlikeable enough as things are.

I ranked those guys, minus Moses, as the six best players of all time. (I had Moses at no. 12.) They won a combined 33 titles between them. LeBron, as you know, has none. So yeah, he can keep giving those Sports Illustrated interviews and talking about how he finally gets it and all that crap, but really, he's halfway through one of the most confusing athletic careers we've ever witnessed. How can someone leave such a memorable, indelible, remarkable regular-season basketball legacy while simultaneously leaving us so unsure of his postseason prowess? 

Because until last year, his best teammates (by year, starting with 2003-2004) were Zydrunas Ilguaskas,  Ilgauskas again, Ilgauskas again or maybe Larry Hughes (GAH!), Hughes again or maybe Drew Gooden, one of those three guys, Mo Williams, and Williams again or 33 year old Antwan Jamison.  Put any of those top 6 guys on those Cavs teams in the 21st century version of the NBA, and you don't need to be a fucking Nobel Laureate to figure out how LBJ couldn't win a title.  His performance in 2007, when he singlehandedly carried the Cavs to the Finals, doesn't get enough recognition.  None of those Cavs teams had any business going past the 2nd round, even with the best player on the planet.  I dislike James as much as the next guy and agree that rings are important and all, but I'm not going to crucify him for failing to bring home a title with the teammates he was giving in Cleveland.  If he doesn't win one in the next four years in Miami?  Yeah, I'll crucify him for that.  Literally.

Now that's intriguing.

Not as intriguing as the possibility that the Spurs' unremarkable role players might celebrate winning a championship together!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I will probably finish Simmons's playoff preview before the playoffs are over

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

I'd like to make fun of this for being dumb and unclever except that I did the same thing with Bill and Klosterman last post. I guess we can both be officially branded as dumb and unclever, that's a sacrifice I'd be willing to make if it got Bill fired.

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 …)

But …

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? 


/hits self

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. 


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?

Monday, May 7, 2012

And today is the day I start to chip away at my backlog of Simmons crap

Probably going to take a number of short posts rather than one or two long ones, because in my old age I just don't have the time or energy for the latter.  This is from Bill's NBA playoffs preview.  Since the playoffs are more than a week old, I'll do my best not to spend too much time picking on him for predictions that turned out to be hideously incorrect.  Unless they were the kind of predictions I would have picked on even if I were writing this post ten days ago.  And let's be honest, I've never treated Bill with any semblance of respect or fairness, so I'll probably end up dumping on everything he said because of my 20/20 hindsight.

The Sports Guy's Most Interesting Stories of the Playoffs

IN TEN YEARS, HOW WILL WE LOOK BACK ON THE DAY WHEN THE C'S THREW THEIR HAT INTO THE CHAMPIONSHIP  RING?  And of course as soon as I ruthlessly (and correctly) mock him for his pathetic homerism, Derrick Rose bows out of the playoffs and the Hawks fail to show up in crunch time in a crucial game 2 against the Celtics.  At this point I have to admit that it looks like Boston is a good bet to make the conference finals, meaning that I will have to keep my word and post a public apology.  A small price to pay for watching Miami and their "not a real big three" big three demolish the Celtics.

25. Joe Johnson

Known for being totally overpaid and totally overrated, which, of course, now makes him underrated. 

Billck Klostimmons strikes again.  DO RADIOHEAD NEXT!!!

He's probably the league's fourth-best starting 2-guard behind Wade and Kobe (unless you wanted to talk me into Arron Afflalo, a much better defender); 

Too bad Bill has a well-documented stance against allowing himself to be edited.  Another pair of eyes might have caught that one.  And Bill still probably would have stetted it back.

he's extremely comfortable in crunch time and because of his size (right around 6-foot-7), he can shoot over any undersize defender (Avery Bradley, Randy Foye, 

Foye plays for the Clippers.  I've give you a shiny half dollar if he and Johnson cross paths this playoffs.

Lou Williams, whoever). Of course, it's difficult to concentrate on these things when Atlanta owes Johnson $107,333,589 over this season and the next four — repeat: one hundred and seven million, three hundred and thirty-three thousand, five hundred and eighty-nine dollars — and when you throw in Johnson's lack of charisma (I'm being kind), that's the biggest reason why Games 1 and 2 of the Atlanta-Boston series will have about 4,000 Celtics fans in the stands. 

The amount of money Johnson makes has absolutely zero to do with the facts that Atlanta is a terrible sports town and there are Boston bandwagoners all over the country.  Also, why can't he be more charismatic?  Just look at the way Tim Duncan puts butts in seats!  Bill thinks that because he enjoys watching KG yell like a Tourette's sufferer, everyone enjoys watching KG yell like a Tourette's sufferer.

Atlanta fans should appreciate Johnson a little more. He's really good.
(By the way, when I mentioned this to Atlanta's own Rembert Browne, he snickered and said, "Nah, Joe Johnson ruined professional basketball in Atlanta." Well, then.)

He was agreeing with you and speaking facetiously, you fucking dunderhead.

24. Steve Novak

Steve Novak is not the 24th most interesting story on his own team.

Random guarantee: A Novak/J.R. Smith shooting barrage will swing one of the Knicks-Heat games. And you know Carmelo is winning one (at least) by himself. That means the series is going six games … at least. 

God I wished Miami had finished that series off on Sunday.  This is still a pretty stupid guarantee that I would have mocked before the playoffs started.  Unsurprisingly Novak hasn't done jack shit in the series because Miami is a good perimeter (and help) defensive team.  Smith is a more useful player than Novak against a team like Miami since he can create his own shot, but he's shooting 5 for 24 from behind the arc so far.  Also, game 4 was presumably the game Melo wins on his own.  So stay tuned, Knicks fans.  Maybe Novak can get you to that game 6 just yet.

(We'll see if I have the balls to pick New York by the end of this column. Don't think I'm not considering it.) 


/watches Ray Allen limp through the playoffs and towards retirement

By the way, the dorkiest moment in NBA history is a 75-way tie between every big Novak 3 when he gave himself the Aaron Rodgers belt this season.

Bill such a homer he won't even admit how incredibly awkward former Celtic great Brian Scalabrine looks anytime he's on the court.

23. Zach Randolph
Remember when Z-Bo improbably became one of the six dominant players in last year's playoffs and torched double teams for a solid month, accompanied by a slew of, (Jim Ross voice) "Good God, what the hell is that? My God, that's Zach Randolph's music!!!!!" 

If there's one thing that's true about sportswriting, it's that everyone in the year 2012 loves a severely overdone pro wrestling bit.

stories? This spring, those headlines became, "Can Memphis reintegrate Randolph in time?," and, "Good news: Randolph played in practice without a knee brace today."
Here's the problem: Z-Bo's low-post brilliance was the biggest reason Memphis nearly made the Finals last year. Unfortunately, their best lineup this season has been Gasol-Gay-Mayo-Allen-Conley, a vicious small-ball group that defends the perimeter like pit bulls defending some rich guy's fence. 

There's a juicy analogy.  They guard the perimeter like dogs guarding something!  They play defense like a hockey team that's good at defense!

Now here's where you say, "They can go big with Z-Bo AND small with the other lineup! I'm so excited, I wish I could give Roger Goodell a six-second full-body hug!" 


Not exactly. See, Z-Bo would have to buy into that idea … and I'm not sure he's that much of a team player. Z-Bo wants to be The Man. Z-Bo loved what happened last year. Z-Bo loved banging bodies with Gasol and dominating the paint. Still, that's what makes the Grizzlies so freaking interesting — if they can ever juggle those two mind-sets (small and big), they're suddenly the best team in either conference. 

Much as I hate both the Heat and the Thunder, no.  That is simply not true.

You heard me. To be continued.

22. Vinny Del Negro

Here's the best-case scenario for a Vinny-Popovich matchup in Round 2.

[Video of the checkers scene from Bad Santa, because if anything at all on the internet is funny, it's taking scenes from movies and substituting them for original analysis or jokes.  HEY THIS THING IS JUST LIKE THAT OTHER THING NOW WATCH]

21. Kenneth Faried, Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson

Look, it's not like you had to talk me into the nickname "The Manimal."  But I couldn't be happier that it went to a legitimate NBA player — in this case, Faried, who was billed as a relentless rebounder/energy guy heading into last year's draft and exceeded that tag. He's Ben Wallace 2.0. If you're thinking about picking a Denver upset in Round 1, your three best reasons are Lawson (twice as fast as any Laker, and playing really well right now), 

As a Nuggets fan it pains me to admit that Lawson more or less didn't show up for the series.

Afflalo (the best two-way 2-guard right now other than Wade and Kobe) 

A label he hasn't really earned and should not be allowed to keep after his complete and total disappearing act this past week.

and the Manimal (a scary matchup for L.A.'s sometimes-lethargic frontline).

Faried and Javale McGee have been huge pains in the ass for the Lakers at times.  Unfortunately, it turns out that the fact that Gasol and Bynum are both WAY more talented than either of their Nuggets counterparts has pretty much shut down Denver's chances.

In theory, Lawson runs the Slowtime Lakers into the ground; Afflalo locks down Kobe; the Manimal eats up L.A.'s frontline; Denver's perimeter guys hit their 3s; the Nuggets' depth combined with the altitude wears down the Lakers; and suddenly we're looking at a first-round shocker (which is exactly what Barkley picked last night). 

I love Chuck.  Most basketball fans love Chuck.  His prognostication abilities have absolutely nothing to do with that love and this was a dumb pick the second he made it.

Even if this looks good on paper, I can't see it happening — the Lakers dug out too many tight games and HTFDTWTO games this season. This has all the makings of one of those "Denver loses in six even though they led all six games in the fourth quarter" series. God, I hate the Lakers.

Wish it weren't the case (and I wouldn't have thought this would happen had I written this earlier) but Bill has actually overstated Denver's chances.  If they win game 5 tomorrow night my jaw will be on the floor.  The Lakers and their fans can eat a bag of dicks.  

20. Dirk Nowitzki

"OK, Dirk, here's the plan."

"I'm listening."

"We're throwing away our title defense. We're just going to put it in a Dumpster and smear it with dog feces. By the end of the regular season, Delonte West will be our third-best player, we'll be relying on an overweight Vince Carter, we'll have turned Tyson Chandler into a three-headed dose of mediocrity called Brendian Haywonimight, and unless Jason Terry is feeling it, you'll have to shoot every single time in the fourth quarter of every playoff game."

"Got it."

"We might win one game against Oklahoma City, that's it. Then you'll have the spring and summer off."

"Sounds good. One question: Why would we do this?"

"Because we want to sign Deron Williams this summer. This was the only way."

"Deron Williams … the guy who acted like such a dick in Utah that they flipped him into two top-three lottery picks and never looked back and since then he's been playing for a lottery team?"

"Yeah, that Deron Williams. Also, we have a 2.2 percent chance of getting Dwight Howard, too."

"Dwight Howard … the guy who's three months away from quitting on his team and needs season-ending back surgery?"

"Seriously? That's going to happen? How do you know this?"

"I just do."


"Any chance we can come up with another plan?"

(Dead silence.)

Just in case you needed another demonstration of all the talent that turned Bill into a not TV writer.  Christ, even Easterbrook does better fake scripts in his columns than this.

19. Andrew Bynum

For the Lakers to make the Finals, Bynum needs to rip through JaVale McGee and Kosta Koufos in Round 1 (a mortal lock), 


the Kendrick Perkins–Serge Ibaka–Nick Collison troika in Round 2 (much tougher), 

Perkins is such a cheap shot artist.  I hate both the Lakers and the Thunder, but I sincerely hope Bynum dunks Perkins into the third row and then taunts him at some point during that series.  

then either Marc Gasol (tough) or Tim Duncan–Tiago Splitter–Boris Diaw (easy) in Round 3. Does he have it in him? Shouldn't it mean something that he's shooting an astonishing 82 percent in crunch time this season? Eighty-two percent???? 

Back to the "What does it MEAN??  How will we look back on this???" faux-introspective nonsense.  Of course it means something: it means that during crunch time he gets a lot of great looks and rarely makes mistakes.  

Why does it seem like he can get five-footers more easily than any center in recent memory? 

Because he's huge, has great footwork, and plays on the same team as Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol?

Why don't I totally trust him?

Because you're stupid and think KG belongs on the Olympic team?

Quick tangent: More than any postseason in recent memory, these specific NBA playoffs have an inordinate number of legacies at stake. 

Fuck you.  No, they do not.  Fuck your brain.  These playoffs are no different than last year's playoffs or next year's playoffs from that perspective.  Stop trying to blow everyone's mind by making up new levels of meaningfulnessnessity for everything.  It's shameful.  Please stop.

In other words, we'll feel differently about various players and teams by the end of June than we do now. 

Yeah, no one feels differently about Dirk now than they did 12 months ago.

Not that this doesn't happen every spring, 

/slamming head into wall

but this time around, there's legitimate historical implications 

TOTALLY DIFFERENT THAN USUAL!  I hear they're putting the results of this year's playoffs in record books of some kind!

for Kobe and the Lakers, 

/game show buzzer

the Popovich-Duncan era, 

/game show buzzer

the KG-Pierce-Allen era, 

/game show buzzer

LeBron and Wade … 

Closest you've been to being right, except the stakes for these two are exactly the fucking same as they were last year, so /game show buzzer

it just keeps going and going. 

/nuclear bomb test footage

In Bynum's case, he's the most logical piece for a Dwight Howard trade (and has been for some time). He can end those rumors by leading the Lakers to the Finals and making it impossible to trade him. Does he like Los Angeles? Does he realize that playing for a forgettable Orlando team would suck? How much does he care? (See, it's intriguing.)


More of this ridiculous bullshit later in the week.