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Archive for February, 2009


The High Podcast #6 February 26, 2009

February 28th, 2009

In today’s episode we TownBiz brings an update about East Bay High School Playoff action, we discuss some NCAA; including Calhoun’s meltdown, upcoming matchups and, of course, some NBA action.

We are available on iTunes, so set it up for automatic download and be sure to leave feedback/comments.

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Cal Takes it to the Haas on USC!

February 27th, 2009

The crowd was rocking in Haas Pavilion as the Cal Bears served the USC Trojans, winning at home in overtime 81-78.

Next up?? will be in the building as the Cal Bears host another Los Angeles team, this time as the Golden Bears will be matching up against rivals, UCLA Bruins, this Saturday.

The Almighty P.O.E. will be all decked out in his baby blue and yellow, cheering on his Bruins to victory. Risse will be repping TownBiz to the fullest with her navy blue with a dash of gold..At this point, we must ask followers of TheHighPosts: Who ya with???

It should be fun times all around so check back with for pics, interviews and smack-talk from the game!

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Today’s Podcast is in the Can

February 27th, 2009

And should be up later. Check back soon!

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Today’s podcast was nice.

February 27th, 2009

Check for it.

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The Marbury Mess Finally Over in New York

February 26th, 2009

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It seems like the Great Eastern Standoff is finally over. After a dramatic tenure in orange and blue, Stephon Marbury was finally released by the New York Knicks. The two sides reached a buyout agreement, with Marbury forfeiting over $2 million in salary in order to part ways

It is strongly believed that Marbury will land in Boston Celtics. If that’s the case, how will the presence of Starbury impact the Celtics? Let’s keep in mind, the last game Marbury played in was January 11, 2008. Since that time, he has been more of a traveling sideshow as opposed to an impact player.

The Celtics could certainly use his versatility off the bench at point guard. But is bringing in Marbury into the locker room worth disrupting team chemistry? Aside from his recent antics, let’s not forget that Marbury and  Kevin Garnett are former teammates and close friends in Minnesota.

What happened? Marbury happened, that’s what!!

Is this gamble going to payoff for the reigning champs? Will Boston’s Big Three be able to influence the wayward Starbury? Or will his presence in Boston cause the Celtics to self-destruct? No one really knows but the playoff race just became a lot more entertaining in the East as all these unanswered questions linger.

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The Phoenix Suns- A study in poor team body language

February 25th, 2009

The Phoenix Suns- A study in poor team body language.

While watching this, it is important to note that Phoenix was just about to go to the All Star break and none of the changes we saw afterward had happened. Also, they were in the process of getting blown out, but still, I think there is something of note and interest here:

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Elgin Baylor: His Legacy and Why We Should Care

February 25th, 2009

Recent developments regarding the legacy of Elgin Baylor have not helped to illustrate what Mr. Elgin Baylor has meant to the game AND to the United States of America as a whole. Elgin’s cause has not come to much national attention, but I/we feel that what he has contributed to the NBA, and to our present culture is not something that should be overlooked. It is our responsibility to bring notice to causes that mean something- and Elgin means something.

What is the legacy that is being left by Elgin Baylor?

It is the human condition to wonder, "what does my life mean and what does my life contribute to the world?" In short, "why am I alive?" There are those who choose to spend their lives in hiding, living a life of un-actualized possibilities… then there are those who surpass those expectations and in this respect Elgin was spectacular.

To put his contributions to the game of basketball in perspective, we have to take a step back.

Simply put, Elgin came into the league in a time of extreme racism. He played under the auspice of an ‘understood’ league rule limiting the number of African-American players per squad, had to work on the weekends because of his commitment to the US military, and still had to fight the latent and overt racism of the time. [My favorite writer Bill Simmons chronicles the Elgin Baylor history here .]

In sum, from the Simmons article, Elgin was awesome. Someone, he argues, deserving of being chronicled in this list of notables: Jesse Owens. Jackie Robinson. Bill Russell. Jim Brown. Elgin Baylor. Oscar Robertson. Muhammad Ali. Why?

- Amazing talent. Check out his stats (from the Simmons article):

It’s impossible to fully capture Elgin’s greatness five decades after the fact, but let’s try. He averaged 25 points and 15 rebounds and carried the Lakers to the Finals as a rookie. He scored 71 points against Wilt’s Warriors in his second season. He averaged 34.8 points and 19.8 rebounds in his third season — as a 6-foot-5 forward, no less — and topped himself the following year with the most amazing accomplishment in NBA history. During the 1961-62 season, Elgin played only 48 games — all on weekends, all without practicing — and somehow averaged 38 points, 19 rebounds and five assists a game.

- Trendsetting set of skills:

Along with Russell, Elgin turned a horizontal game into a vertical one. The jump shot. The cross over. Athleticism. These are the hallmarks of the game today and Elgin had all the abilities needed to play in today’s game.

- Incredible work ethic (from the Simmons article):

A U.S. Army Reservist at the time, Elgin lived in a barracks in the state of Washington, leaving only whenever they gave him a weekend pass … and even with that pass, he could only fly coach on flights with multiple connections to meet the Lakers wherever they happened to be playing. Once he arrived, he would throw on a uniform and battle the best NBA players alive on back-to-back nights — fortunately for the Lakers, most games were scheduled on the weekends back then — and make the same complicated trip back to Washington on Sunday night or Monday morning. That was his life for five months.

It is the hardships he endured, it is the understanding and compassion he manifested while playing the game, and the monumental effects he had on the way basketball is played today that he should be remembered…

Elgin Baylor – Greatest College Basketball Players

The Clippers Years: What happened?

There is a story of crabs in a bucket- that crabs in a bucket will pull down crabs that wish to escape the pail. It is not good enough to have one escape, rather, they get dragged down back into the pail, never to gain freedom… this has been at the core of the Clippers organization. They just never seem to be able to support one another in order to get to greater heights.

His legacy as a Clipper GM is extensive as his was one of the longest tenured GMs at the time of his ‘departure’ (more on this later):

Being a lifelong Clipper fan these legislative actions do not come as unexpected nor a shock. That Elgin Baylor has decided to sue his former employer is something I have come to expect from the Clipper organization especially with Donald Sterling at the helm. Donald Sterling is someone who [from the Google search of 'Donald Sterling scandal'] requires a special investigation:

- Just what the NBA needs, another sex scandal:

AUGUST 12–Just what the NBA needs, another sex scandal: Donald Sterling, the miserly tycoon who owns the Los Angeles Clippers, testified last year that he regularly paid a Beverly Hills woman for sex, describing her as a $500-a-trick "freak" with whom he coupled "all over my building, in my bathroom, upstairs, in the corner, in the elevator." Sterling’s graphic testimony–which came during a two-day pretrial deposition in connection with a lawsuit he filed against the woman, Alexandra Castro–will surely nettle basketball commissioner David Stern, who normally has to explain away the behavior of 20-something athletes, not married 70-year-old club owners worth nearly a billion. During a sworn January 2003 deposition, Sterling denied having a relationship with Castro, though he changed his testimony when questioned again last August. In often explicit detail, Sterling recounted three years of transactions with Castro, whom he met in mid-1999 (below you’ll find excerpts from Sterling’s deposition). While acknowledging that, "maybe I morally did something wrong," the Clippers owner was not shy when it came to describing hour-long sessions with Castro, whom Sterling credited with "sucking me all night long" and whose "best sex was better than words could express." Testifying that he was "quietly concealing it from the world," Sterling had a blunt appraisal of his "exciting" relationship with Castro: "It was purely sex for money, money for sex, sex for money, money for sex." Sterling, a Los Angeles real estate mogul, bought the Clippers in 1981 for $12.5 million and the franchise–one of the most profitable in the NBA–is now worth more than $200 million. Since Sterling’s purchase, the team has amassed the NBA’s worst combined record and gained a reputation as a stingy operation that will trade an exceptional player before paying him a superstar’s salary.

From a Google search of ‘Donald Sterling Racism’:

- Sterling was sued by the Department of Justice on Monday for housing discrimination:

Sterling was sued by the Department of Justice on Monday for housing discrimination. Though Sterling has no problem paying black people millions of dollars to play basketball, the feds allege that he refused to rent apartments in Beverly Hills and Koreatown to black people and people with children…

What’s even more disturbing? Sterling was sued for housing discrimination by 19 plaintiffs in 2003, according to The Associated Press. In this case, Sterling was accused of trying to drive blacks and Latinos out of buildings he owned in Koreatown. In November, Sterling was ordered to pay a massive settlement in that case. Terms were not disclosed, but the presiding judge said this was "one of the largest" settlements ever in this sort of matter. The tip of the iceberg: Sterling had to play $5 million just for the plaintiffs’ attorney fees.

- From a Google search of ‘Donald Sterling’

He rebuffed numerous offers from other cities (including near-by Anaheim and their Honda Center arena) to relocate the Clippers, but he has been steadfast in his refusal to move the team out of Los Angeles proper. Sterling has always been of belief that he wants to eventually win a championship in the city of Los Angeles, even despite the status of sharing Staples Center with the always-popular Lakers and previously playing in an outdated Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.

Until 2003, Sterling has been widely criticized for his unwillingness to invest in the Clippers, due in part to the losing seasons. In 2003, Sterling signed Elton Brand to the biggest contract in franchise history; a six-year, $82 million deal. He matched the Corey Maggette contract from what the Utah Jazz offered; a deal worth $45 million over six years. He and the Clippers have also since brought in higher-priced veterans free agents, such as Cuttino Mobley in 2005 and Tim Thomas in 2006. Also, another first in the Sterling tenure of Clippers ownership, the team gave a four-year contract extension to head coach Mike Dunleavy, Sr., as well as a five-year extension to center Chris Kaman. Both extensions take effect starting in the 2007-08 NBA season. Under Sterling’s ownership, no Clipper head coach has lasted beyond four seasons, outside of Dunleavy and Bill Fitch (1994 to 1998).

This most recent footnote is an interesting concluding note to the story, which is not really concluding… as long as Sterling and Dunleavy run the team, it will continue to be a terrible organization.

Coach Mike Dunleavy, now in his sixth season in Los Angeles, added Baylor’s GM duties after the Hall of Famer’s departure three weeks before the season began, while Neil Olshey was promoted to assistant general manager. At the time, Dunleavy said Baylor had resigned.

Right. He ‘resigned’. Allegedly.

Post Clippers Years:

Baylor’s attorney, Carl Douglas, said the lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Baylor plans to hold a news conference Thursday to discuss the lawsuit, which also names club president Andy Roeser, Douglas said in a fax sent Wednesday.

The lawsuit maintains that Baylor was "discriminated against and unceremoniously released from his position with the team on account of his age and his race" and that he was "grossly underpaid during his tenure with the Clippers, never earning more than $350,000 per year, when compared with the compensation scheme for general managers employed by every other team in the NBA."

The NBA is named in the lawsuit, according to Douglas’ fax, as "a joint venturer/partner of condoning, adopting and ratifying this discriminatory practice since the league is fully aware of salaries paid to all of the general managers."

Clippers attorney Robert H. Platt said in a statement Wednesday night that he had not seen the lawsuit and couldn’t comment on Baylor’s specific allegations.

"However, I can categorically state that the Clippers always treated Elgin fairly throughout his long tenure with the team. Prior to his decision to leave the team last October, Elgin never raised any claims of unfair treatment," Platt said.

"It’s hard to believe that he would now make these ridiculous claims after the organization stood by him during 22 years and only three playoff appearances. It would be hard to find any sports team that has demonstrated greater loyalty to its general manager."

Sterling attended Wednesday night’s game against the New York Knicks, but a team spokesman said the owner would not be made available for comment.

Baylor became vice president of basketball operations with the Clippers in 1986 after an outstanding 14-year playing career with the Lakers and a brief stint as coach of the New Orleans Jazz.

He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1976, chosen as one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players during the league’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1997, and named the NBA executive of the year following the 2005-06 season.

The Clippers have been one of the NBA’s least successful franchises over the years and last made the playoffs in 2005-06, when they lost in the second round.

Coach Mike Dunleavy, now in his sixth season in Los Angeles, added Baylor’s GM duties after the Hall of Famer’s departure three weeks before the season began, while Neil Olshey was promoted to assistant general manager. At the time, Dunleavy said Baylor had resigned.

Baylor claims that although coach Mike Dunleav was rewarded with a lucrative contract following the Clippers run to the playoffs in 2006, Sterling did not provide any economic reward to Baylor for his efforts as GM.

"The team I pushed Donald Sterling to assemble made it to the second round of the playoffs exceeding everyone’s expectations," said Baylor, who was named NBA executive of the year that season.
"The team’s coach was acknowledged and rewarded with a long-term contract worth over $20 million. When I asked [Sterling] if he was going to take care of me, he said nothing, he offered me nothing, he did nothing, no salary increase, no bonus, nothing."

"The way I was treated by the NBA and the Clippers was unfair and in many ways discriminatory. It was wrong," said Baylor, reading from a prepared statement at a news conference at the office of his lawyer Carl Douglas.

"We are forced to take this action because our effort to resolve this dispute quietly were ignored. So I look forward to having my day in court."
"I worked with the Clipper organization on a contract for only my first six years, until 1993, after that it was if I had passed the smell test," said Baylor, the team’s GM until last October. "For the remainder of the time I was told I did not need a formal written agreement. Donald Sterling always informed me whenever I asked about my contract situation and my salary, that I was a ‘lifer’, that I would remain with the Clipper family until I decided to retire."

The lawsuit maintains that Baylor was "discriminated against and unceremoniously released from his position with the team on account of his age and his race" and that he was "grossly underpaid during his tenure with the Clippers, never earning more than $350,000 per year, when compared with the compensation scheme for general managers employed by every other team in the NBA.""This past August I was handed an agreement and told to ‘take it or leave it.’ Given that I had invested so much to the Clippers and the NBA I was traumatized by this situation and today I remain mentally and emotionally devastated," Baylor said. "I did not retire. I have so much more to give."

The NBA is named in the lawsuit, according to Douglas’ fax, as "a joint venturer/partner of condoning, adopting and ratifying this discriminatory practice since the league is fully aware of salaries paid to all of the general managers.

One of the NBA’s undisputed greatest of all time, the latest news headlines can do nothing but tarnish his legend. It is very unfortunate as Elgin has always been one of great honor and acumen. Suspect, periodic drafting aside [any Clipper fan would quickly state the Koralev pick over Granger set the team back 3 years], Elgin should be remembered for all that he gave to the game, not the latest, shameful disrepute which have lately been posted. I met the man. I shook his hand and looked him straight in the eye. He is a good man and his legacy is being tarnished by his association with an organization which has continually set new standards of ineptitude.

Mr. Elgin Baylor deserved better. I/we at support his cause and want to raise awareness of his contributions to the sport. We hope that he does have that chance to come back and work again, as we feel that he does “have something more to give.”

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Devin Harris Does The Unthinkable

February 24th, 2009

//” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. What a game that transpired between the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Nets last night! And just when it looked like Andre Iguodala had hoisted Philly to victory by making a free throw with 1.8 seconds left in the game, a miracle hailed down at the Meadowlands.

Off the inbounds pass, a lightning-quick Harris lunges a 47-foot prayer at the basket…..AND MAKES IT! After much review by the officials, the basket is counted and the Nets win 98-96 and snap a five-game losing streak. More impressive than just the fact he made this beyond-halfcourt shot, is the detail that Iguodala, who was guarding Harris, had actually knocked the ball out of Harris’ hands prior to the shot. Instead of a turnover, Harris recovered and threw up a game winner, finishing the game with 39 points and 8 assists.

Now that’s handles.

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Maryland Upsets #3 North Carolina

February 22nd, 2009

An exciting game just concluded in College Park as University of Maryland just served number-three ranked North Carolina 88-85 in overtime. Coach Gary Williams needs to be investigated for hiding the secret weapon known as Venezuelan point guard Greveis Vasquez, who unleashed a triple-double on the Tar Heels. He finished the game with 35 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists….


Those numbers don’t lie, especially against a squad like North Carolina. Keep that in mind as March comes calling.

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The High Podcast #5 February 20, 2009

February 21st, 2009

In today’s episode we discuss the trades and injuries that happened before the trade deadline and prime up for the weekend’s action.

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250 words for and against Coach K and Duke

February 21st, 2009

I had a great call with my North Carolina insider last night. As a former UNC teacher he has had first hand accountings of the ins and outs of UNC basketball.

What got me, was during our conversation that, by the end, he was defending Coach K.

Read that again: a UNC supporter was coming to the aid of Coach K!


I played the antagonist in the conversation, pointing out that the Duke system is archaic and doesn’t adjust for today’s players and game and Coack K’s inability to adjust for his personnel leads to the consistent fallout/flameout in March Madness and in the second half of the year. Further, I thought that it was less Coach K and more the astounding talent that he had that lead to his two biggest successes: the Olympic Gold (really, who plays Jason Kidd when you have CP3 and Deron on your squad!!!?!? Really? Who does that??) and the National Championships (it can be argued that Laetner was one of the best collegiate ballers ever and Grant Hill was a yearly all-star in the L).

If you look at the system he employs, it has a heavy reliance on 3′s and defensive continuity. Should either of these things fail, so do the Dukies. They, yearly, do not have a presence inside (at least not since Elton Brand, and don’t give me that “Landlord” rubbish, he was/is offensively challenged) which costs them when the game slows down and you need to be able to get some easy points in the paint. Defensively, they can get cut up by small and quick guards like Lawson did in their last UNC match-up and can get bullied by bigger teams. For example, I think they would lose by double-digits if they were to face a team like Pittsburgh and U Dub (Washington) would probably eek out a victory because of their ability to punish down low.

I wondered aloud, if your teams annual ceiling is the second week of March Madness is that good enough? Teams like UCLA and Memphis have systems that can go full and half courts and that is why they do better than the all out sprint style that Duke employs.

I thought I brought a double-barrelled assault.

The flip side is that the talent that Duke has been getting, while highly rated, is simply not that good. Paulus as a starting guard does not get it done versus top talent. The bigs that they have been getting are just not ready to play. They need a few years in order to get their games ready to play against the top teams. Further, they have had some early defections from players who (maybe) should not have left. Josh McRoberts as an example. This has depleted their core and left them scrambling for people to fill in. [On a side, McRoberts would be a great fit with this current squad and would be the exact fit they need to get over their plagues.]

Also, the Dukies enjoy a great home court advantage and a solid fundamental defensive system. Both are effective and time-tested tools that has consistently propelled Duke to the upper-echleon schools. You need defense to win the Trophy, and when executed with the proper talent, the system works… and so do the Duke fans which add at least 3 wins per season. Coach K being the staple and icon of Duke aids in the consistency with the fans and the defensive system.

[He, and I bet no one else, had a defense for how he 'coached' the National Team. ;-) ]

Polarizing to be sure… which is one of the things you can expect from Duke. Consistently they are one of the most polarizing teams in the NCAAs. What I did not expect was to hear from a UNC alum the virtues of Coach K.

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Song of the week. Piggy Back.

February 20th, 2009

Song of the week. Piggy Back.

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The High Podcast #4 February 11, 2009

February 20th, 2009

In today’s episode TownBiz and Poe talk about McTracy, pending and future trades, pre-March Madness and more!

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Trade Biz: 2.18.09

February 19th, 2009

The NBA trading deadline is coming faster than the Phoenix Suns in transition the past two nights. Here is what happened today as the teams get their schedules locked in before Thursday’s cutoff:

*The Kings have been very active in the trading scene this week. They just shipped Brad Miller and John Salmons to Chicago, and in return get Chicago’s Andres Nocioni and Drew Gooden. Portland entered into the deal by trading Ike Diogu for the Kings’ Michael Ruffin. Advantage: The Bulls! The presence of Salmons (if he can get in the heavy-guard rotation) along with an experienced big man in Miller, who is a versatile scoring threat that adds enough versatility on the front line, could be the missing parts needed to power the Bulls into the playoffs.

*Remember yesterday’s deal that sent Tyson Chandler to OKC for Chris Wilcox and Joe Smith??? Can you now say "null and void?" It’s a strange twist but the deal got rescinded because Chandler failed a physical (the same big toe that kept him off Team USA) . Are we the only ones who just heard the collective sigh of relief come out of New Orleans? really wants to know just how big the elephant will be in the room when the players involved return to their respective locker rooms? I’m just saying…

*It looks like there will be no cousin swap as the rumors of T-Mac for Vince Carter quickly fell off today. Big surprise, sports fans: Tracy McGrady declared himself out for the season because he will undergo knee surgery. Too bad he decided to tell the media before his own team. will continue to bring up-to-the-minute trade info, complete with our no-holds-barred analysis (just how you like it!) until the deadline hits. Stay tuned…

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Dog or Delish

February 19th, 2009

The trading deadline is approaching in the NBA and fantasy leagues. It’s time for a last flurry of trades to either salvage your team or sabotage the league leader if you have grown to hate him. This being the case, here is my first installment of “Dog or Delish?” It’s a very simple premise. Most fantasy players can be summed up as Dog – avoid at all costs (yes, we’re talking about you T-Mac) or Delish – Yummy! Thanks, I’ll have two (Paul and Lebron). I’ll try to avoid some of the more obvious ones and categorize the player values for the rest of the season.


D-Wade – Injury-prone. I would never trust my fantasy season to him.

Granger – Dump him and his gimpy knee.

Ming – Get rid of him. I don’t remember the last healthy season he had.

Butler – About every time this year, it seems like he starts to shut it down. What does he have to play for this time of year.

Camby – If possible, wait for him to put up a great game and offer him to someone desperate for blocks.

Bosh – The knee scares me. That and the Raptors have nothing to play for.

Crash Davis – Nothing says “Stay away!” like “collapsed lung.” I hope he gets better, but I’d prefer to hope while he’s on someone else’s bench.

Boozer – Stick a fork in him already.

Marion – I don’t care who he plays for. I’ve grown to hate him as a fantasy player.

T-Mac – Yeah, yeah, like shooting fish in a barrel.


Kobe – Will be carrying the Lakers and jacking up tons of shots.

Durant – Yummy! Great stats only to continue to grow. As a keeper, I have him ranked #3.

Nowitzki – The German terminator doesn’t get hurt and will put up solid stats right up until the Mavs lose in the first round.

Deron Williams – He’s finally healthy and ready for the playoff push.

Billups – Rarely hurt and putting up great numbers in Denver.

Joe Johnson – Steady, good, and doesn’t miss games.

Iguodala – Doing great now that Brand is gone for the season.

Okur – Solid, inexpensive, and rarely hurt.

Rondo – Solid numbers and does not miss games.

Jeff Green – Solid numbers and continuing to build for next year. Who knew?

Good luck with all your trades and may all your players get tons of minutes.

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Trade Biz

February 18th, 2009

It’s back to business in the NBA this Tuesday, and the trade buzz is heating up as Thursday’s deadline is fast approaching. Here’s a brief recap on what has taken place, and what might still be down the pipeline.

*The New Orleans Hornets shipped Tyson Chandler off to Oklahoma City and picked up the Thunder’s Chris Wilcox and Joe Smith. Cash rules everything in the NBA, and Chandler’s contract was burdensome. Even still, something inside thinks that this move marks the beginning of a slide back to mediocrity for the Hornets. CP3 and Chandler had a certain rhythm on the pick and roll that will be hard for the tandem of Wilcox and Smith to fill in the last 30 games, as the Hornets attempt to position themselves for the playoffs. Advantage: OKC
*Terry Porter is out in Phoenix. But with interim coach Alvin Gentry’s promise of a return to the running and gunning in the desert, it looks like it will be Amare Stoudemire’s job to put the team on his mighty shoulders to make a solid playoff push in the final 30 games. The Suns are presently 9th in the West.

*The latest buzz on the wire is that the Houston Rockets and New Jersey Nets are in talks regarding swapping Tracy McGrady for Vince Carter along with Trenton Hassel. Now that would be interesting, considering that T-Mac and Carter are cousins and all. But seriously, the Rockets have to do something. Their "Big 3" rendition with McGrady, Yao Ming and Ron Artest is playing out more like a "Big Bust" at this point. There is talks that Artest and McGrady don’t get along and it appears that McGrady is the weakest link among them. It’s no secret that he is beyond injury-prone. Sadly, I just don’t foresee T-Mac leading a team out of the first round this year either. And that is no longer acceptable for a man making $22 million for 2009-2010. There are others in the hunt for Carter (Cavs, Mavs, Spurs) but it seems that Rockets are bringing the most heat at this point. Stay tuned to Trade Biz here on, where we don’t hold any punches in bringing the realest trade analysis.

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THIS JUST IN: Jermaine O’Neal for Shawn Marion

February 14th, 2009

TownBiz really can’t leave the house. I dash off to run a few morning errands and return to find that Shawn Marion is now a Toronto Raptor while Jermaine O’Neal is now a South Beach resident…WTF?

This move boggles my mind. Let’s break it down from both sides:

Toronto was all enthusiastic last summer when they first landed O’Neal and his hefty contract..But that quickly faded, and so did the Raptors’ winning percentage. Just ask former head coach Sam Mitchell.

So the question in my mind quickly becomes "Why would Pat Riley pull the trigger on this deal? Does Jermaine O’Neal make the Miami Heat a solid playoff contender?"

At this point, the answer is hell no!

Meanwhile, Shawn Marion wins the game for the Miami Heat last night with a last-second dunk on MY Bulls, only to wake up and find himself headed way north for Toronto? What part of the game is this????

At first glance, it seems that Toronto got the better part of the deal. They pick up a motivated Marion, whose contract expires at the end of the season. Money off the books and defense plus Marcus Banks thrown in for giggles. Sounds like a come-up in Toronto.

And if Jermaine O’Neal couldn’t play focused in Canada, what makes anyone believe he will suddenly get right with the allure of Miami right under his nose?? Dwayne Wade will have his hands full trying to motivate this big guy and simply put, this move doesn’t position them to go any deeper in the playoffs. So why do it at all?

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Podcast 3 Februrary 11, 2009

February 13th, 2009

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UCLA Bruins

February 12th, 2009

I’ve been a lifelong Bruin fan and over the past few years, it has really been an embarassment of riches for which I am both proud and pleased to have experienced.

The 2008-2009 season began a little rocky for my tastes, however with the new players that we had to integrate into the Howland system, it took a little while to ‘turn the corner’, and, make no doubt, this squad is starting the turn the corner; just in time for the upcoming Tournaments- both the PAC-10 and Final 4.

Of course, everything starts with Ben Howland. I’m very thankful to have his leadership, recruiting abilities and basketball knowledge leading the Bruins. He has a knack of signing kids who fit his system, even if they may not be the most hyped. He likes hard-nosed defenders. Team oriented players. Less flash and more competent basketball knowledge… and, before you know it, he always brings a Top 10 recruiting class to Westwood (his ability to get J’Mison Morgan after he de-committed from Tennessee was especially inspired).

The talent is one thing, the next is getting them to fit into the system. His system works, but it takes some time for players to understand their roles, especially defensively, where the Bruins consistently rank in the top 20 in the Nation.

No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year Age Hometown (Last School)
0 Drew Gordon Forward 6-8 235 FR 18 San Jose, CA (Archbishop Mitty)
1 Malcolm Lee Guard 6-5 180 FR 18 Riverside, CA (John W. North)
2 Darren Collison Guard 6-0 160 SR 21 Rancho Cucamonga, CA (Etiwanda)
3 Josh Shipp Guard/Forward 6-5 220 SR 22 Los Angeles, CA (Fairfax)
4 Tyler Trapani Guard 6-0 185 FR 18 Simi Valley, CA (Simi Valley)
5 Jerime Anderson Guard 6-1 165 FR 19 Anaheim, CA (Canyon)
10 Mustafa Abdul-Hamid Guard 6-2 195 JR 20 St. Louis, MO (Country Day)
11 Spencer Soo Guard 5-8 160 SO 20 Fresno, CA (Central)
12 Alfred Aboya Forward/Center 6-9 245 SR 23 Yaounde, Cameroon (Tilton N.H. School)
13 James Keefe Forward 6-8 231 JR 21 Rancho Santa Margarita, CA (Santa Margarita)
15 Blake Arnet Guard 6-0 185 FR 19 Laguna Niguel, CA (Mater Dei)
20 Michael Roll Guard/Forward 6-5 200 RS JR 21 Aliso Viejo, CA (Aliso Niguel)
21 Jrue Holiday Guard 6-3 180 FR 18 North Hollywood, CA (Campbell Hall)
22 J’mison Morgan Center 6-10 248 FR 19 Dallas, TX (South Oak Cliff)
24 Matt DeMarcus Guard 6-3 190 FR 18 Solvang, CA (Santa Ynez Valley Union)
30 Kevin Schmidt Forward 6-8 220 JR 20 San Jose, CA (Bellarmine Prep)
41 Nikola Dragović Forward 6-9 216 JR 21 Belgrade, Serbia (Second Secondary
School of Economics)
44 James Diefenbach Forward/Center 6-8 250 SR 22 Newport Beach, CA (Newport Harbor)

This was in part the reason why the season started off with turbulence- the team was learning the defensive strategies that Howland employs. Of course, he had a veteran backcourt to steady the ship (literally, Josh Shipp) while the rest of the team was learning, but it has been the difference in the front court that has proven to be the difference in the team and their recent surge. The development of Aboya, Dragovic (DRAGOVIC!!!!, so Rocky-ish, no?) and Gordon has been integral and key. Aboya actually has developed an offensive game (more on this in a moment) and Gordon has improved his defense, while DRAGOVIC (I must break you!) has the Vlad Radmonovic-style game (without being an astronaut) that stretches the floor with 3′s while contributing on defense.

The other reason that the season started off slowly was due to pace. Frankly, Howland was slowing things down…. way, way, down. Their possessions per 40 minutes was in the lower half of the country, and when that happens, it allows other teams to stay in the game by limiting the opportunities they have to score and halting your own team’s chances, there is typically not a huge spread in these games, no blow outs as it were. So, if a team got hot from downtown, or if a team had a hot player (hello Michigan game) then the Bruins were in bad shape.

So as peachy as the team in playing now, there are still some worries:

- Playing against bigger bigs. In the Washington game, their bigs DOMINATED the glass and they won, rather easily. Not sure how many teams are going to have a bigger front line than Washington, or what will happen when we play them at Pauley, but it is a worry if/when we play against a UNC-type team.

- Playing in the second game of a back to back or with a day’s rest. Until recently they had performed much worse in the second game than the first. This is typical for many teams, and there a litany of reasons for why this happens- from being tired, to being less prepared for the second team than the first- but good teams find a way to win. In fact, they HAVE to win the second game if they are going to win the Championship.

- They have troubles closing out games. The ASU game is a good example. The Bruins were up 12 with 3 minutes to go and lost in overtime. They have to improve their decision-making in these types of games, as there is always at least one game on the way to the championship that is closer than you want it to be and you need to be prepared.

That being said, the Bruins are rounding into shape to make a run. When you go into the Tourney, there is a typical receipe for success: veteran or very skilled point guard (check! Collision has been to the Final Four on many occassions and has the talent to be a quality back-up in the L), bigs who defend and can score (sort of check, I’m not completely sold on Aboya, but he is close and developing), and a bench that has guys who can get hot (check! Roll can drain it from downtown and is an underrated defender. Keefe is effective if unspectacular and can rebound and defend at worst).

So, I’m pumped for our chances and will be watching and advising for the weeks to come.

UCLA Cheerleaders 1

Plus, our Cheerleaders are as hot as they have been in years!

UCLA Cheerleaders 2

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The Best Seats in Town…?

February 12th, 2009

This is going to be the NBA’s next promo theme. I participated in the voting/raw data component, and I guess this is the best that they could do.

What do you think?

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