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Michael Heisley on “divorcing” Allen Iverson

December 3rd, 2009

By Henry Abbott



The owner of the Grizzlies, Michael Heisley, tells Chip Crain of 3 Shades of Blue his version of how Allen Iverson came to have just a three-game stay in a Memphis Grizzlies uniform.



Heisley says he surprised by Iverson’s complaints about playing time. He says Iverson had come into training camp not in very good shape, and then injured his hamstring. The team then played him slightly more than the trainers recommended — nevertheless Iverson was upset. Heisley explains:

The trainer said I don’t want him playing in the first two or three games but when he starts to play we should play him about 15 minutes. We’re going to watch him very closely and bring him along slowly otherwise he’s going to injure this leg again. So that’s the directions Lionel got. He played him 18 minutes in the first game when we told him 15 minutes. Which was fine and Allen did well. He scored 11 points in 18 minutes I think.

So in the 2nd game, if I remember correctly, he played 25 minutes and he scored like 17 points. Now he went to the press and started bitching about not being the starter. I think he was being a little ridiculous to think he could be put out there after he’s coming off that leg injury and be the starter and that he had earned it like he said he wanted to do.

Lionel then had a meeting with him and the team; with all of the stuff that was going on around the team and Allen was very upset. I was in the Middle East when this took place and I flew for 29 hours and when I got home I heard there was a problem and I flew out to the West Coast. I met with Lionel and I met with Allen and I thought things were going to be straightened out.

Allen came to me that night and said he had a problem at home that he had to take care of, which I believed to be true and I still do believe, and I told him to take as much time as he needed to take care of his personal problem and so he left.




Heisley then says that when he heard Iverson wanted to retire, he decided to ‘divorce’ (or, release) him, so that Iverson could pursue other NBA opportunities because ‘I want Allen to play in this league.’”

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In honor of Iverson’s return, Perkins pulls out the crossover.

December 2nd, 2009

In honor of Iverson’s return, Perkins pulls out the’crossover.



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Ron Artest admits he used to drink Hennessy at halftime

December 2nd, 2009

Leave it to Ron Artest(notes) to try and steal a little of Tiger Woods and Allen Iverson’s(notes) headline thunder.

In a lengthy and candid interview for the upcoming issue of Sporting News magazine, Artest — best known as the central figure in the infamous Malice at the Palace in Detroit — bares all, including a startling admission that he drank alcohol during games as a member of the Chicago Bulls.

‘I used to drink Hennessy … at halftime,’ said Artest, who played with the Bulls from 1999-2002 and now is with the Los Angeles Lakers. ‘I (kept it) in my locker. I’d just walk to the liquor store (near the stadium) and get it.’

And David Stern is worried about halftime tweets

For those unfamiliar with the’prestigious alcohol landscape, Hennessy is a brand of cognac, which is a French variety of brandy. It contains 40% alcohol, and is reportedly North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s drink of choice. (Of course it is.)

And that’s not all.

Artest speaks openly in the interview on many other sensitive topics, including his life as a St. John’s college basketball star (‘I was a single pimp!’); his feeling towards The Brawl’s’instigator Ben Wallace(notes) (‘I’m always in the mood to fight him’); and his plans to become a professional boxer (‘In four years, I’m going to try to have my first fight’).

Andrew Sharp is right: Ron-Ron should be obligated to give a feature-length interview at least once a month.

What a character.

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Video: Utah Jazz Bear is extreme!

October 20th, 2009

Video: Utah Jazz Bear is extreme!: “

‘Nitro Circus’ is a MTV show that features Travis Pastrana and friends traveling the world riding dirt bikes, base jumping and performing other reckless stunts. Recently, the Jazz’s mascot Bear joined the cast, chugged some Mountain Dew, recycled the can and got extreme to the max, yo. Or something like that.

Cheers, Utah Jazz Blog, SLC Dunk and Ziller.

(Via Ball Don’t Lie – NBA – Yahoo! Sports.)

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Video: Hoops4Life’s ultimate Garnett, Kobe and LeBron mix

October 20th, 2009

Video: Hoops4Life’s ultimate Garnett, Kobe and LeBron mix: “

After a year of anticipation, the epic Hoops4Life collaboration, ‘Prodigies,’ has dropped.

The new video produced by’mixmaking champions ‘Domino,’ ‘Renhigotrare,’ ‘VenomIndustries’ and ‘Dinoman’ details the careers of three young high school prodigies — Kevin Garnett(notes), Kobe Bryant(notes), and LeBron James(notes) — that skipped college to change the NBA landscape forever.

It is easily one of the best NBA videos I’ve ever seen, from editing to audio to storytelling.

No hyperbole.

Cheers, SLAM.

(Via Ball Don’t Lie – NBA – Yahoo! Sports.)

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2009-10 NBA Win Over/Under Predictions

October 19th, 2009

2009-10 NBA Win Over/Under Predictions: “OK folks, it’s time for the annual October favorite here at The Painted Area, as we offer our predictions for picking NBA regular-season win over/unders.

2008-09 was a good season for us in terms of O/U predictions – we were 5-2, and strangely, almost every prediction, win or lose, was decided well before the end of season.

Usually these things are within a few games of the line, but each of our picks was right or wrong by at least 10 games, other than Knicks over 31.5, which went down to the final game of the season in a win over the Nets which was memorable only to those of us who made that pick.

For the record, here is our overall record for the three years we’ve been publishing our picks:

    Season  TPA  
    06-07 6-1
    07-08 3-4
    08-09 5-2
    Total 14-7

**********************
First, let’s go straight to the data. What we’ve done below is:

As always, these are for entertainment purposes only.

    EAST
    EAST
    (O/U Line - JH/KP/KD - '08-09)
    CLE 61.5 - 63/59/65 - 66
    ORL 57.5 - 62/58 - 59
    BOS 56.5 - 54/50/56 - 62
    ATL 44.5 - 44/39 - 47
    DET 41.5 - 39/33/40 - 39
    TOR 41.5 - 35/32/40 - 33
    WAS 41.5 - 41/35 - 19
    PHI 40.5 - 42/41/43 - 41
    CHI 40.5 - 38/34/41 - 41
    MIA 40.5 - 40/36 - 43
    CHA 37.5 - 29/33 - 35
    IND 34.5 - 31/27/33 - 36
    NYK 31.5 - 26/36/30 - 32
    NJN 28.5 - 24/28/24 - 34
    MIL 25.5 - 25/34/35 - 34

    WEST
    (O/U Line - JH/KP/KD - '08-09)
    LAL 62.5 - 65/54 - 65
    SAS 54.5 - 53/52/57 - 54
    POR 52.5 - 55/51 - 54
    DEN 52.5 - 52/50 - 54
    UTH 49.5 - 50/49 - 48
    DAL 48.5 - 47/49/52 - 50
    NOH 46.5 - 51/52/50 - 49
    PHX 41.5 - 40/41 - 46
    HOU 35.5 - 37/37/37 - 53
    OKC 35.5 - 36/33 - 23
    GSW 35.5 - 35/41 - 29
    LAC 34.5 - 34/41 - 19
    MEM 27.5 - 27/45/27 - 24
    MIN 25.5 - 33/32 - 24
    SAC 24.5 - 22/21 - 17

Amazing that six teams in the East are all set at either 40.5 or 41.5, but it seems fair. If you have a handle on tabbing 5-10 in the East this season, you’re a better person than I. Needless to say, we’re not touching any of those teams.

**********************
THE PAINTED AREA’S RECOMMENDED 2009-10 O/U PREDICTIONS

OK, without further ado, here are our favorites for 2009-10:

  • MIN Over 25.5
  • MIL Over 25.5
  • ORL Over 57.5
  • POR Over 52.5
  • GSW Under 35.5

Here’s our rationale on the team picks:
MIN OVER 25.5 (24 last season)
At first blush, we loved this line for Minnesota, and the numbers analysis from both Hollinger and Pelton backed up our gut. We’ve tempered our feelings slightly both because of reports that Al Jefferson still has a way to go to get to 100%, and because of the broken hand recently suffered by Kevin Love.

We’re sticking with this pick, though, because the beauty of it is that the bar is *so* low – just 26 wins, and just a 2-game improvement for a team that lost Jefferson for 32 games, and played pretty well when they were all together for Kevin McHale in the middle of the season, including a 12-4 stretch around the New Year.

Yes, they lost a couple good vets in Randy Foye and Mike Miller, but we love the value of the Ramon Sessions signing, especially considering what they had at the point last year, and we like Jonny Flynn’s promise, even though it’s unclear if he can play alongside Sessions.

Believe us, there’s plenty that concerns us about this team in general – frontcourt defense and depth, production on the wings, how Sessions and Flynn play together – but again, that bar is so, so low.

We think that Minny’s line is artificially low because of last season’s injuries (in our opinion, they were closer to a 34-win team in terms of talent than 24), and because they received so much bad press in the summer due to the Ricky Rubio saga, which shouldn’t really affect the 2009-10 edition of this team in any way, especially after they signed Sessions.

MIL OVER 25.5 (34 last season)
Do we think that Milwaukee got worse in terms of talent over the offseason? No question. They lost their three leading scorers (total points) – Ramon Sessions, Richard Jefferson, and Charlie Villanueva – without picking up any marquee names. Why do we like them?

1. ’08-09 injuries. Again, we don’t think that, in terms of talent, we’re starting with a 34-win team from last season. Remember that Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut missed 95 games combined, and we believe this was closer to a .500 team talent-wise last year. That’s the way they played for the first half of the season.

2. Underrated acquisitions. The Bucks didn’t get any stars, and again, they lost talent overall, but we like the value in underrated pickups like Hakim Warrick, Carlos Delfino and Ersan Ilyasova, who developed nicely in Barcelona the last couple years. We really stuck our neck out in praise of Brandon Jennings in June. We can’t say we think he’s going to be a star right away as a rookie PG, but we do think he’s going to be better than expected, and that he’s going to improve as the year goes on. With this group of unheralded players, we think that Milwaukee lost less actual production and defense than it might seem.

3. Coach. We think that Scott Skiles, while he still has his team’s ear, is one of the very best coaches in the league. He improved Milwaukee’s defensive efficiency from 30th out of 30 in 2007-08 to 15th in his first season last year – a huge improvement. We think he’ll have this team prepared, defending and competing every night, and again, that bar of 25.5 is just so low that we think Skiles will get the Bucks there.

ORL OVER 57.5 (59 last season)
We always need to take a deep breath before going over a number so high, but we really strongly believe that the Magic are an improved team over last season. We also believe that Orlando is on par with the Lakers and Cleveland as one of the three best teams in the league, and think that their line should be at the same level (LAL’s is 62.5, CLE’s is 61.5).

We think the Orlando line is relatively/comparatively low because so many people think that the Magic got worse in essentially exchanging Hedo Turkoglu for Vince Carter, which we think is preposterous. Vince is clearly the better player.

We love this team to pile up regular-season wins because they have so much depth – they can withstand injuries as well as play big or small as needed. We also think that Stan Van Gundy is one of the best coaches in the league. We thought he deserved Coach of the Year honors for turning last year’s unit into the most efficient defensive team in the league. We see a 60+-win team here.

POR OVER 52.5 (54 last season)
Last season, we took Portland over 44.5 after winning 41 in 2007-08, even though Hollinger projected them for just 42. We just felt like this team wasn’t going to end up getting worse, and we make this pick on a similar rationale this season.

52.5 is a high number, but the Blazers won 54 last season as the second-youngest team in the league. Further, Hollinger pointed out in his team forecast that – in terms of point differential plus the bad luck that Portland opponents shot .803 from the foul line, the highest opp. FT% in the 39 years the stat has been tracked – the Blazers actually performed like a 61-win team statistically.

We have concerns about how Andre Miller will fit, but we just can’t imagine a team so young getting worse. We love team depth, which Portland certainly has, in making these regular-season predictions. On top of that, we see Greg Oden making good strides this season. We just can’t imagine them not holding steady with last year’s win total, at the least.

GSW UNDER 35.5 (29 last season)
This one’s coming straight from the gut, as the data works against us – Golden State suffered a lot of injuries last season, they have arguably the deepest collection of under-25 talent in the league, and the Hollinger/Pelton projections average out to 38 wins.

But we think that Nellie has lost it for good, and we’re predicting that it all implodes this season. We believe that this team will perform far under its talent level, though we’re betting there will be entertainment value in it, as Nellie might trot out an Ellis-Curry-Morrow-Azubuike-Maggette lineup or something. The Stephen Jackson situation doesn’t seem like it can possibly end well, they’ve already lost a promising young player (Brandan Wright) to a multi-month injury, and we’re betting there will be one or two talent-depleting trades along the way.

It’s a tough pick, because we think this team has more than 35-win talent on paper, for sure, but we’re sticking to it. We also think that last year’s crappy teams at the bottom of the West will all be better, so wins against the bottom-feeders will be harder to come by.

**********************
HOLLINGER’S TEAMS TO WATCH
Here are the teams which are at least five games over or under the line in John Hollinger’s projections:

TOR – Under 41.5 (35)
CHA – Under 37.5 (29)
NYK – Under 31.5 (26)
MIN – Over 25.5 (33)

PELTON’S TEAMS TO WATCH
Here are the five teams which are the most games over or under the line based on Kevin Pelton’s SCHOENE projections in Pro Basketball Prospectus 2009-10:

TOR – Under 41.5 (32)
DET – Under 41.5 (33)
MIL – Over 25.5 (34)
MEM – Over 27 (45)
LAL – Under 62.5 (54)

Going under on the Raptors is where the statistical projections from these two esteemed gentlemen seem most in concert. However, in his Raptors preview, Hollinger notes that, ‘[A]lmost nothing they do this year would surprise me…. if they win 50 games, it won’t be shocking, and if they win only 25, that won’t raise eyebrows, either.’ We tend to agree, so we’re giving them the ‘Stay Away’ tag.

Other teams for which Hollinger/Pelton are most in agreement are over on the Timberwolves, over on the Hornets and under on the Bobcats.

KD’S TEAMS TO WATCH
With previews for about half the league posted to date, Kelly Dwyer is somewhat remarkably within 5 games of the over/under line for every team so far. His biggest outlier so far is NJN Under 28.5, at 24 predicted wins.

Update: just hours after we posted, Ball Don’t Lie posted their Bucks preview, in which KD picked Milwaukee far above their O/U line of 25.5, at 35. Gotta say we like it.

Last year, Hollinger’s teams to watch ended up 3-2, while Dwyer’s were 4-4 (Pelton’s were not tracked).

One random note: seems to us that the Rockets are one of the toughest teams to predict this season, so we were amused to see that Hollinger, Pelton and Dwyer all tabbed Houston for exactly 37 wins!

ROLAND’S TEAMS TO WATCH
Something we’re keeping an eye on again is the research by Roland Beech of 82games.com which showed that preseason records may have predictive value for regular-season records.

Specifically, Beech found that teams which win less than 30 games one season and then have a winning record the following preseason tend to see substantial improvement.

So far this is based on a small sample size, so these are fairly rough generalizations. The team which best satisfied the criteria last season, Minnesota, was a bust, improving by just 2 wins. Of course, as noted above, the T-wolves struggled after Al Jefferson went down with a torn ACL, which likely prevented them from having something closer to a 10-win improvement.

There’s still a week of preseason games left, but the teams which fit the qualifications so far are the L.A. Clippers (4-2) and Washington (3-2), with Golden State (3-3) and Oklahoma City (2-2) close as well. However, big improvements are expected by many for LAC, WAS and OKC, so it doesn’t help much from an O/U perspective, as those expectations are reflected in the lines. The Warriors run counter to our intuition, of course – we’re sticking with our Under 35.5 pick. We’ll also keep an eye on this over the next week, and maybe reconsider GSW if they finish strong.

We’ll check back after the season to see how everyone did. Finally: Remember, this is not a competition, it is only an exhibition – please, no wagering.

(Via The Painted Area.)

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Basketball / Juggling Trick Shots

October 18th, 2009

Bob, Jason and Ben… an entertainment trio from Northern Michigan make a contribution to the world of basketball trick shots. See bobjasonben.com to learn more about these guys. All footage was taken from 3 half-hour sessions during July of 2009.

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What we learn about Ron Artest from his Michael Jackson Tribute Song

October 15th, 2009

Unintentional comedy is still comedy nonethelesss. So bad, that it is good, this “rap” by The True Warrior gives us some insight into his personality, character… even at the expense of our respective eardrums while we listen to his *very* poor attempt at finding rhythm and rhyme.

I post this in lieu of the realization that the Lakers [essentially] traded good-guy, high upside, athlete and team-player Trevor Ariza for Ron Artest and Khloe Kardasian.

Lakers traded for this?

Lakers traded for this?

Ron, simply, is a nut as we learn from listening to his song. Here is what we learn about Ron Artest from Ron Artest:

- That Michael was his N-word

- He wanted to touch Michael’s hand

- He cried for Mike (often and repeatedly, based on the chorus)

- He understands controversy

- He understands about people wanting to hurt him

- He understands about having to grow up ‘early’

- He knows what it likes to not feel worthy

- Mike (MJ) showed him ‘love’… even if he didn’t know it

- MJ never knew him

- He thinks Mike’s music was ‘straight crack’.

- The heartbeat of MJ is living inside Ron’s body (and apparently in ours too).

- MJ is the most official and inspired Usher and Jaime Foxx

- He believes that MJ is still alive; or that someone is keeping him alive. Could be figurative, though I’m not sure Ron really understands that based on this song.

- Ron is moving to the moon… or to sand dunes.

- Ron is strapped, always.. but he put it down for Mike… not sure how long the non-strappness is going to last.

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Chris Bosh, Cyber Hero

October 14th, 2009

Chris Bosh, Cyber Hero: “

Some jerk beat Chris Bosh to registering the domain www.chrisbosh.com. So Bosh went after the cybersquatter. All sorts of legal wrangling later, Bosh has won damages, his domain … and a zillion other domains the same guy had been squatting.

There are nearly 800 names in the list, and Bosh and his internet consultant, Hadi Teherany of Max Deal, say theyll return them all to their rightful owners for free.

Which means a good chunk of the basketball world will be owing Bosh a favor. The list is thick with basketball players in the NBA, overseas, college and high school. There are also some football players, political sites, Britney Spears child, singers, a site or two that sound raunchy, and the Mexican wrestler ‘El Octagon.’

Just a few of the many NBA names on the list:

  • SamCassell.com
  • SteveNash.com
  • AmareStoudemire.com
  • AndreIguodala.com
  • JJRedick.com
  • EddyCurry.com
  • CarmeloAnthony.com
  • BrandonJennings.com
  • DelonteWest.com’
  • LuolDeng.com
  • KobeStopper.com
  • CaronButler.com
  • DeronWilliams.com
  • DariusMiles.com
  • BryanColangelo.com

(Also on the list is AaronAfflalo.com, even though that Denver player spells his first name ‘Arron.’) The vast list of names also includes instructions for athletes and celebrities to get their names back from Bosh, if they wish. Paging El Octagon …

(Via ESPN.com – True Hoop – Blog.)

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Draft speculation: The High Posts Draft predictions:

June 23rd, 2009

For my money, there are only a few prospects in this draft worth spending time and money on, the rest are fodder. This draft is especially weak, and as is want to happen in the days leading up to the draft, many are being over-hyped.

I put these players into tiers:

These are guys who are going to develop into contributors on playoff teams and/or All-Stars:

Griffin
Curry
Evans
Rubio

These guys will have ‘nice’ careers- meaning that if you draft these guys you can count on them being contributors to a team and long careers:

Psycho T
Jordan Hill
Flynn

These are guys who are going to go WAY above where they should go in a normal draft and will not be significant contributors. Typically these guys are drafted for a perceived need or for trading purposes:

Harden
Thabeet
Blair

Here’s a list of guys, that if I had a roster spot, I’d like to take a chance on and see if I could develop them:

Clark
DeRozan

These are guys who are going to go later in the draft that will be solid values:

Collison
Lawson
Caroll

These guys should update their passports and look to Europe (even if they do get drafted):

Young

Going to be taken higher and will have to take some time to develop (and maybe by a second or third team), but when they do, watch out!

Holliday

This is a weak draft and I think that most teams should not expect to significantly improve because of their pick(s).

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Malcolm Gladwell: On choking, not panicking with an basketball perspective

June 21st, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a great article on chocking which can be found here. [If you have not read it, I recommend reading it before reading further. http://www.gladwell.com/2000/2000_08_21_a_choking.htm]

Quickly, I’m going to highlight a few quotes from his article and attempt to put his comments into a basketball perspective.

To begin with, I found a few comments interesting. Gladwell states:

“Panic, in this sense, is the opposite of choking. Choking is about thinking too much. Panic is about thinking too little. Choking is about loss of instinct. Panic is reversion to instinct. They may look the same, but they are worlds apart.”

I’ve always found that I play best when I don’t think about what is going on. In speaking a martial arts master, he advised that by continuing to practice one can evolve to this state of non-thinkingness and that is a part of a zen-state; something reiterated in Phil Jackson’s book Sacred Hoops. I guess this is why Buddhist Monks can be seen doing mundane activitites like sweeping/arranging rocks in a rock garden… so they can achieve a level of non-thinking…

A few additional thoughts:

“That is a hard lesson to grasp, but harder still is the fact that
choking requires us to concern ourselves less with the performer and
more with the situation in which the performance occurs.”

- I’d like to put this in context of two UNC championships, including, CWebb and Michigan in the final moments of the NCAA championship game and with respect to the infamous pass ‘to’ James Worthy that solidified UNC’s championship under Dean Smith and countless other examples…

Both of these incidents took place in the final moments of the most important college game.. and yet, what did CWebb do after that game that would lead us to believe that he is anything but a choker? While on the other hand, James Worthy earned the moniker ‘Big Game’ for his heroics with UNC and then with the Lakers.

- Second, he pulls a social/cultural/racial context into his observations. Very thought provoking:

“It doesn’t come as news, of course, that black students aren’t as good
at test-taking as white students, or that white students aren’t as good
at jumping as black students. The problem is that we’ve always assumed
that this kind of failure under pressure is panic. What is it we tell
underperforming athletes and students? “

Is it important to note that both the basketball incidents mentioned above involve black athletes? Would the same have occured to white players in the same situation? I wonder.

Anyway, just wanted to get back to regular postings. The season was such a drain that I needed a break. Looking forward to the draft and I’ll post my thoughts shortly.

-POE

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Blast from the past: Wilt and Russell on Winning

June 1st, 2009

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What would you say to cancer, given the chance?

March 17th, 2009

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NBA Financial Doom: 2 related stories and what it means to NBA fans

March 15th, 2009

The economic conditions that are affecting most Americans will (if they haven’t already) affect the NBA and its teams.

There are several teams that have elected to accept the Association’s offer of financial support in order to survive, and many others are sensing the pending economic troubles and are cutting costs at a frantic pace.

Logical trades that would help teams on the court now and in the future have not happened because of the financial burden. One need only to look at the botched Tyson Chandler trade as an example of two teams (the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Hornets) looking at their budget as opposed to putting the best teams possible on the floor.

For years, the league has had a robust bottom line, with grown predicated on corporate sponsorships resulting in advertising and luxury box sales. In most cases, teams have responded by constructing "state of the art" arenas and accommodating big budget companies and marketing opportunities, often at the expense of fans, who were pushed further from the action. Premium seating and front-row seats were sold first to "VIPs" or were priced too high for most fans.

Put simply, much of the expansion of the NBA in the past years was at the expense of the fan. But now that the the growth has become shrinkage, how are teams and the NBA going to respond?

The difference between expected income and the harsh new reality has to be made up somewhere, or situations like the Pacers’ will become more common:

"The Pacers and the Capital Improvement Board struck their current deal 10 years ago, and Early said they are in the early stages of renegotiating. He said the board can’t pay the operating cost because it already faces a $43 million shortfall, and he’s unsure who would.

"’That’s the big question,’ he said. ‘Really, we do not have the funding sources to allow us to be able to do this. We’ve contacted the state, the Legislature…we’re trying to figure out, are there solutions?’"

The Pacers’ response is typical of companies in crisis; looking for loans and/or government bailouts in order to stem the tide while attempting to operate with a "business as usual" attitude seems to be the norm.

But the reality of the situation is that "business as usual" will not do. The times are changing, and the NBA will have to make adjustments immediately in order to survive.

According to the Marketing Vox article linked to above, some startling information about corporate involvement with sports is being discovered:

- Nearly one-third (32 percent) of American consumers are paying "less attention" to corporate sponsorships than they were a year ago.

- The vast majority of those polled would like to see less spending on sports sponsorships by companies experiencing difficulties (62 percent), according to a Performance Research study (via MarketingCharts).

- Consumers think that companies accepting federal bailout money (68 percent), in particular, should spend less on sponsorships, the research found.

- Results indicate that this expectation is in keeping with consumers’ own behaviors, with the majority of respondents saying they are less likely to purchase a ticket for a favorite sporting event (67 percent), purchase a ticket to a favorite performing arts or cultural event (64 percent), or donate money to a favorite cause (55 percent) than they were a year ago.

- Only 13 percent say that increased sponsorship of their favorite sporting event would raise their opinion of corporate America, while 26 percent reported decreased sponsorship would raise their opinion (61 percent say that an increase or decrease would make no difference).

- Twenty percent say that sponsorship of their favorite cultural event should increase to raise their opinion of corporate America, while another 20 say it should decrease.

The decreased spending on sporting events runs slightly antithetical to typical recession-spending models. While guns (up 15 percent, according to the NRA), alcohol (up 10 percent), and pornography have all seen their usual increases (these being popular diversions in economic crisis), people have not been using games as an escape.

Many teams ignored their fan base in exchange for corporate dollars, decreasing access to players except in the most media-staged events. Now the relationship is changing, as teams are starved for the fans’ dollars, and the above numbers suggest that they may not show up to watch games

Further, with the rise of the internet, digital cable, satellite TV, and the access to instant information, it is realistic that fans can watch any game at any time.

So why would they go to the games and pay the price when you can watch games from the comfort of your home for 100 times less money?

The problem with the current NBA marketing is that they have standardized it for all teams, and that has made it boring. The NBA commercials are fun once but quickly become repetitive and droll. Individual team messages are "cookie-cutter" and typically lack imagination.

Here is what I think the NBA fan is going to see more of if the NBA and its teams want to save themselves:

- There will be a greater personal relationship between the players and fans, and this will inevitably lead to a greater emotional connection between fans and the NBA. It is the only way to keep fans coming to the games.

- We are going to see more web-based interaction, such as players on Twitter (ala @the_real_shaq), personal websites, blogs, and perhaps more webcasts. This is a low-cost way to meet fans in a virtual environment, essentially going to where the fans are rather than attempting to bring them to where the teams are.

And that’s a central tenet of marketing: find a need and fill it. Fans want to know their players and they’re online, so why shouldn’t they meet there?

After all, it was the rise of players as individuals and the subjugation of team identity exemplified by free agency that saved the NBA in the 1980′s, so why wouldn’t the same thing happen today? Personal interaction plus new media is the solution.

- I think we are going to see more "outside-the-box" marketing efforts aimed at increasing the interaction between the teams and the fans, with a specific attention to the player-"true fan" relationship. Perhaps not Bill Veick-style, but something that breaks the NBA template. With one club’s success, other teams will follow suit and break the current marketing vortex.

- Possible deregulation could occur so that teams can have stock offerings. Deregulation could lead to individuals as holders (ala the Green Bay Packers of the NFL), which would give the fans a direct voice.

Sure, the Packer comparison is slightly skewed, seeing as how Packer stock owners don’t have a vote; but they do have a voice and regular meetings at which they can hear the state of the organization and interact with management.

Now that teams have to listen to their fan bases, it will be interesting to see what types of interaction arise. It is about time that we, the fans, have a voice, especially after being priced out and seeing management and organizations seemingly purposely angering us (I’m looking at you, L.A. Clippers!).

The relationship has changed and those teams that want to survive will have to turn to the fan or succumb.

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Nellie sticks his foot in his mouth… again.

March 13th, 2009

According to Rotoworld.com:

Crawford

Don Nelson confirmed reports Wednesday that he had a conversation with Jamal Crawford in which he suggested the guard either opt out of his contract or face being traded.

"We did meet. … I’ve always been very open and honest with my players, and I did tell him he probably would either opt out, or we would move him next year," Nelson said. The writing has been on the wall the past couple of weeks that Crawford could be the odd man out in Golden State’s increasingly crowded back court, and this confirms he is not in their long-term plans. Mar. 12 – 10:08 am et
So this is a salary dump, right? It has to be or it makes no sense as it makes the value of Jamal Crawford significantly less. Why would anyone else want to pay ‘full value’ in a trade when they know that the opposing team does not want him? At this point, you are looking to get $.60 on the dollar in any trade AND you have burned any bridge that you might have had with Crawford if you change your mind and want to bring him back.
Just continues the bizzaro-world that is being created in GS. Sad. They are just a few seasons removed from being one of the ‘up-and-coming’ teams in the league. One that needed ‘a piece or two’ to become an elite team in the West. Now… not so much… and with the recent rumors of grumbling by Monta Ellis that he wants out, and the continued ineptitude of the ownership and management this story seems to have more coming. Too bad, the Dub fans deserve better.

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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:

YouTube Preview Image

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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: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0812041sterling1.html

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: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=jones/060810&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab5pos2

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’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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 www.TheHighPosts.com 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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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!

Wow.

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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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.
UCLABustyCheerleader

UCLA Cheerleaders 1

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

UCLA Cheerleaders 2

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Boycott the BCS! (Reasons Why Im a Fan of Sports)

February 12th, 2009

Boycott the BCS! (Reason #1 of Why Iʼm a Fan of Sports)

Posted by: P.O.E.

January 2009

Stats have always been just that for me, stats. They are there, and like physics, whether I study and really understand them or not, they exist. I was always pretty good in math and like fantasy sports because of the numbers, but for me, some guys just are too steeped in the numbers.

But Bill James is the “Numbers Guy”. THE Numbers Guy, really. He was the first to really implement statistical data to gain an edge or advantage in sport.

So, when I talk about his article, I understand that it has some weight. The basics of his argument can be summarized here:

It is,” wrote Stern, “generally a bad idea for quantitative analysts to remove themselves from the decision-making process,” but there are also times that, to preserve your self-respect, you pick up the briefcase and walk out of the room. This, in my view, is one of those times. The problems with the BCS are:

1. That there is a profound lack of conceptual clarity about the goals of the method;

2. That there is no genuine interest here in using statistical analysis to figure out how the teams compare with one another. The real purpose is to create some gobbledygook math to endorse the coachesʼ and sportswritersʼ vote;

3. That the ground rules of the calculations are irrational and prevent the statisticians from making any meaningful contribution; and

4. That the existence of this system has the purpose of justifying a few rich conferences in hijacking the search for a national title, avoiding a postseason tournament that would be preferred by the overwhelming majority of fans. The argument about whether there should be a NCAA College playoff system has been debated for the past two decades… or perhaps longer. How long ago was it that University of Washington and Georgia Tech shared the championship? How can either or one of those teams claim to be national champions? What is the point of playing the games, including the bowl games, if there is not a clear eventual number 1 team?

Of course James has a statistical argument, which is his hallmark. He backs up his arguments with the numbers.

Fine.

Often when in arguments about sports, or who is better than who, or, better, whom is better than whom, I have to rely on numbers to bolster my argument. But I think it gets away from the essence of the game.

I watch competitive sports for a few reasons:

Reason #1 of why I’m a fan:

Because it shows the triumph of the human spirit. A noted Supreme Court Judge said it better than I could, and to paraphrase: “If you want to look at the problems in the world, you look to the front page of the newspaper [this was back when newspapers were relevant]. But, if you want to look at the triumph of the human spirit, you look to the sports pages.” I think it was Byron ʻWhizzerʼ White, a former collegiate athlete who said this, but Iʼm not completely certain.

And, I chose to believe it. There are, of course, those cases of supreme sadness in sports; Rae Carruthʼs plotted double murder of his wife and unborn child, the tragic details surrounding pro wrestler Chris Benoit (which is surrounded by seemingly tertiary elements of drugs, madness and money from the central fact that he killed his son and wife), and humourous and sad stories like Plaxico Burress who shot himself in the leg with a gun he carried into a club in the waistband of his sweatsuit.

But there are many, many more stories about the triumph of the human spirit. One of my favorites, and on that strikes me every time I watch it is this one:

Autisitc High Schooler Jason McElwain Scores 20

Or this one:

Derek Redmond and Father. Olympics 1992 Barcelona.

It doesnʼt matter that the later video is in Spanish. The imagery says enough.

Why Iʼm a fan – Reason #2

Well, when I started writing about Bill James and his statistic analysis of why the BCS should be boycotted, I did not imagine that it would lead to the diatribe that Iʼm now on. To be honest though, I have been thinking about writing this for some time, and this was just the impetus to get it done.

The point of what I want to get at, is Why Be A Fan?

Really. Why be a fan of sports? Especially one particular, or many particular teams. To the point of buying season tickets and jerseys and whatever other chatzkies are out there.

In fact, letʼs play the antithesis here and dig deeper. The first law of sport marketing is that sports is a business. You hear it all the time. From athletes who get traded and say, “Its just a business.” To agents who defend the amounts being paid to their clients, “Its what the market will bear”. To the owners who are ʻforcedʼ to raise ticket prices, “we have to keep up with the economy.” Everyone in the business knows it is a business, and if they donʼt, they quickly learn.

So where are the revenues for the machine. Ads. Right. Marketing of companies. They pay a ton to get their names on Super Bowl ads and that revenue comes back to the teams and to the league. And their ads are targeted. Yup. Targeted. To the sports fan.

The sports industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and it makes its money on the sweat of people who love sports like you and I. Knowing this, why are we fans?

One more step here. On a personal note, I have an Elton Brand jersey. I am an admitted Clippers fan. I was there for their magical playoff run. I had season tickets that year and bought playoff tickets. I was there for the Reggie Evans nut grab incident with Chris Caveman. I was there. I bought in with tickets and jerseys and food and parking and time and… whatever. What did that year cost me in terms of dollars and opportunity cost? Many, many thousands of dollars.

I donʼt bring this up to boast. Quite the contrary, I bring it up because Elton brand is no longer a Clipper.

I think Elton is a great individual. He is a complete professional on, and off the court. Gentleman by all accounts. Accomplished filmmaker (he has producers credit for the Christian Bale movie, Rescue Dawn). I love the way Elton plays the game. He plays it hard. I like to say that he brings his hard hat to the game- every game! He doesnʼt take plays off. He hustles. Does the little things. Does the big things. Has a post game. Hits the 15 footer with regularity. Hits his free throws. Blocks shots.

And he DUNKS.

KG.Elton

One of my favorite photos is this one of him dunking over KG toward the beginning of the 2005 playoff run. Elton is a generous 6′ 9″ (if that) but he has long arms and a great understanding of the game. KG is closer to 7 feet and was in his prime at this moment. This dunk signaled the beginning of the run. Set a statement for the team. I remember seeing this photo the day after the game, clipping it out, posting it on my office cube wall and dialing my ticket representative to up my order.

I knew we were on to something special. Especially when I saw the connection that Elton and Sam ʻBall Danceʼ Cassell had on the court. I thought, if they can stay healthy. We have something here.

big-balls

And now, Elton is a Clipper no more. I mean, what do I do with my Clipper Brand jersey now?

I went through months of on again, off again, love of the Clippers. But the truth is, it is too hard to shake. I am compelled like a Vampire for blood to follow this team, for better or worse.

It does mean though, that I donʼt spend a portion of the money that I once did on a team, and I would certainly not purchase another jersey, unless it was of a player who had retired with the team and was one of the team or league all time greats. But, to be honest, I did just plunk down $200 on UCLA gear. The long and the short of this part of my diatribe, is that I watch and participate in sports because it is in my blood. That is the best I can describe it, but it is the result of a lifetime of experiences in both playing and watching the games. Reason number 1 that I am a fan is that it shows the triumph of the human soul. Reason 2; its in my blood. Reason 3… coming up.

Why Iʼm a fan… reason 3

On my previous two posts/pages I had been going on a discourse of why Iʼm a fan of sports. In face of it all- the money it costs to go to the game, the obvious exploitation of the fan by companies and sport franchises alike, and the disturbing actions taken by many of the players- why are we fans?

My thoughts on this had been ʻbubblingʼ beneath the surface for some time, but the Bill James article really spurred me to put my thoughts down on the page. His rationalism against the BCS system backed by stats was jarring because it seemed to me to come down to a simple question; why watch the games if a true champion is not going to be crowned? Indeed, why watch the BCS games if it ultimately is rather meaningless?

Here is reason number 3 of why I am a fan, why I watch sports. Because I want to share it with my future family, the way I shared in the sports experience growing up with my family.

I have four brothers and with each of them I have a memorable sports experience that I can remember which binds us together. For my brother Matt, it would be the late nights at our first home on Lombardy in Pasadena, CA practicing basketball plays. He the point guard, diminutive and smart. Me, the power forward setting some screens on the pick-and-pop. Not sure that we knew what we were doing at the time, but I remember playing and practicing until the lights turned on outside… and then continuing into playing in the dark.

My father was also instrumental with my love of sports. Growing up he would throw pitches to me against the garage as we competed mano-a-mano. I still remember him hitting a moon shot against me that went into the neighborsʼ yard- across the street neighbors, with a tennis ball and a wood bat. Crushed it.

Or, that my father used PVC to set up goal posts in the front yard. His motto regarding football was, “kick the ball and get out”. I guess that way you donʼt get hurt, right pop? Even to this day, and my dad is pushing 80 now, we can still talk about these memories. Even to talk about The Natural- probably my favorite sports movie ever- as he always thought that I had the kind of potential that Roy Hobbs (Robert Redfordʼs character) had. He believed in me and we had a special connection through sports.

I consider myself fortunate to have been an above average athlete growing up. Competing in sports was fun for me. And I was rather good at it. And, should my offspring (God willing) want to explore sports (God willing) then I will be there to support them. Honestly, it would not have to be sports, but as I have it in my blood I would hope to pass on some of the love to them.

Reason number 3 that Iʼm a fan- it is generational.

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