Wednesday, May 10, 2006

NBA Hardware

Now that we are into the second round of the NBA playoffs, I figured it was time for me to hand out my NBA hardware. Just as I did with the NFL, I'm using this as an opportunity to blatantly rip off my writing hero, Bill Simmons, and instead of handing out your tradition awards, hand out some movie quotes to the stars of the '05 - '06 season. So, sit back, relax, enjoy the awards, and whatever you do, don't forward this on to Simmons. I don't really want to deal with a cease and desist letter this week. Here we go:

1) Michael Corleone: I've always taken care of you, Fredo.
Fredo Corleone: Taken care of me? I'm your older brother, Mike, and you're taking care of me? Did you ever think about that?

This, of course, is Fredo’s feeble attempt near the end of “Godfather II” to explain to Michael why he felt compelled to betray him. Essentially, a life of being overshadowed and unappreciated had pushed him to the breaking point. Well this quote goes out the 11 guys on the Cavs not named Lebron. As the legend of Lebron has grown this season with 50 wins, insane statistics, and a first round playoff series victory, one thing we never actually hear about is the 11 other guys that wear the Cavs’ jersey. I often wonder how they feel about this. By all accounts, they seem fine with the fact that they are widely known as the Lebrons, but I can’t help but think they have to feel a little like Fredo. I mean, it’s one thing if the guy overshadowing you is a seasoned veteran that has fought the wars and paid the dues, but when he’s a 21 year old kid that has been dubbed a superstar since he was a sophomore in high school, it might be a little tough to take. Imagine if some kid straight out of college came waltzing into your office and started calling the shots. How would that go over? Yea, not so good. Well, at least the Lebrons can take comfort in the fact that this time around the younger brother is taking the bullet in the back of the head right along with them.

2) Tony Montana: You think you can take me? You need a f***ing army if you gonna take me!

This crazed declaration comes from Tony during the final shootout with Sosa’s assassins in “Scarface”. This quote goes out to Kobe Bryant. Just like Tony, Kobe’s rise was fast, but he couldn’t overcome his own paranoia and arrogance. Just like Tony, Kobe kept firing and firing and tried to do it all on his own. And, just like Tony, Kobe ultimately died a bloody death. Unfortunately for Lakers fans, unlike Tony, Kobe forgot to bring his gun to the second half of Game 7.

3) Richard Hayden: That guy may not call us.
Tommy: I can't believe he called me a psycho.
Richard Hayden: Hey, were you in there just now? You are a psycho... Good God. And fix your hair.

This classic exchange between Spade and Farley in “Tommy Boy” goes out to Chris Kaman of the Clippers. Look, there was no way I could go through this thing without calling attention to the fact that Kaman is the scariest looking man in all of professional sports.

4) Principal: Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
Billy Madison: Okay, a simple "wrong" would've done just fine.

Who else could this exchange from Billy Madison go to the worst GM not named Babcock in the history of the NBA, Isiah Thomas. In all honesty, Billy’s ramblings out the puppy that lost his way made a ton more sense than anything Isiah did this season. Let’s just review some numbers:

23 wins

4 point guards

$123.7 million in salary this year

$125.5 million in salary this year

1 coach that is more likely to kill his starting point guard than make the playoffs

1 public threat to Bill Simmons

On the bright side, Isiah is probably licking his chops to send Steph to Portland in exchange for Darius Miles and Theo Ratliff, and we will have the reunion of D&Q (Darius and Quentin Richardson for all those of you that haven’t been following the Clippers for the past five years). On a side note, does any one else find it offensive that Darius Miles makes $7.5 million/year and Theo Ratliff makes $11.6 million/year and it would take both their salaries to match Steph’s average salary for the next three years? By the way, I just conducted much more analysis of this deal than Isiah ever would. In fact, it might take me a full day to explain to Isiah why it’s important to make NBA salaries match up in a trade. NOTE TO THE FOLKS AT CABLEVISION THAT OWN THE KNICKS: I WILL DO ISIAH’S JOB FOR 1/10 OF ISIAH’S SALARY. THINK ABOUT IT. HONESTLY, I COULDN’T DO WORSE!

5) Will: Beethoven, okay. He looked at a piano, and it just made sense to him. He could just play.
Skylar: So what are you saying? You play the piano?
Will: No, not a lick. I mean, I look at a piano, I see a bunch of keys, three pedals, and a box of wood. But Beethoven, Mozart, they saw it, they could just play. I couldn't paint you a picture, I probably can't hit the ball out of Fenway, and I can't play the piano.
Skylar: But you can do my o-chem paper in under an hour.
Will: Right. Well, I mean when it came to stuff like that... I could always just play.

This exchange between Damon and Minnie Driver in “Good Will Hunting” goes to Clippers 20 year old point guard Shaun Livingston. Most of you probably haven’t had a chance to really watch this kid play, but trust me when I tell you that he’s special. He’s 6’7”, has a sick handle, plays with a smoothness reminiscent of Andruw Jones in centerfield, and has an innate unselfishness that you just don’t see every day. Some people are eager to compare him to Magic, but I’m not ready to go that far. For now, let’s just say that this kid can just play.

6) Caine: First I get shot, then you're gonna drive me home? Somebody must want me to die.

This moment of levity from “Menace II Society” goes out to Denver Nuggets rookie Julius Hodge. Hodge got called up from the D-League just in time to get shot. Kind of makes getting punched in the junk by Chris Paul back at N.C. State look like a walk in the park.

7) ESPN Announcer: So Roy, where have you been for the last fifteen years?
Roy: Well, I uh, well, ya see, I uh... Drinking. Lot a drinking.
ESPN Announcer: I see. Well, are you still drinking?
Roy: No. I uh... I put... uh... Why, you buying?

One of my favorite exchanges from one of my favorite movies goes to Vin Baker of the Los Angeles Clippers. That’s right, Vin somehow managed to get himself back in the league for a little run with the Clips this season. How is this even possible? Even more astounding is the fact that he started a game. Reason # 4735 that the NBA is FAAAAAAANNNNNNTASTIC!!!

8) Alex Hitch Hitchens: Basic Principles - no matter what, no matter when, no matter who... any man has a chance to sweep any woman off her feet; he just needs the right broom.

This little sage advice offered by Will Smith to Kevin James in the mildly amusing “Hitch” goes to Tony Parker. Let’s just say that he must have had one hell of a broom to end up with Eva Longoria. Come to think of it, does anybody have a better life than Tony Parker? He’s one of the best point guards in the League, he’s rich, and he is dating one of the most gorgeous women in the world! Wait a minute…I forgot…he’s French. Oh well, nothing is perfect.

9) Little Bill's wife: Don't stop, Big Stud!

Just one of many memorable quotes from “Boogie Nights” goes to the now infamous Reggie Evans of the Nuggets. I think I’ll just leave it at that.

10) Peter Gibbons: You see Bob, it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care.

This gem from “Office Space” goes to both Lamar Odom of the Lakers and Darius Miles of the Clippers. Sure, their numbers were respectable enough, but if you watched both these guys for any extended period of time you certainly noticed that they both looked as interested as an atheist in church. Granted, with the Mamba all but swallowing the ball whole in L.A., Lamar may get a pass, but I do wish that just once we could talk about the player he is rather than the player he could be. As for Miles, well, maybe if he does end up in New York, that will be the fresh start he needs. After all, it’s worked wonders Steph, Steve Francis, and Eddy Curry!

11) Maverick: Jesus, this guy's good!

This quote from Maverick as he and Goose went head to head with Viper in “Top Gun” goes to Carmello Anthony of the Denver Nuggets. Just like Maverick seemed surprised at just how good Viper was, I’m constantly amazed at just how good Carmello is. When we talk about the class of 2003, we mainly talk about the greatness of Lebron and D. Wade and the failures of Darko. What we seem to always forget is the kid that was the third pick in that draft: Carmello. This was a true break out season for Carmello. He averaged 26.5 pts/game and led his team to the playoffs despite Marcus Camby’s injuries and Kenyon Martin’s insanity. No small accomplishment. And, according to, Carmello hit more game winning shots (11) than any other player in the league. He’s truly become an assassin. When he came in the league, I thought he would end up being a new version of Glen Robinson. Well, now it seems he may be more like a new version of Reggie Miller. The lesson, of course, is that I’m a moron.

12) Tommy DeVito: Sure, mom, I settle down with a nice girl every night, then I'm free the next morning.

This quip from Pesci to his mother in “Goodfellas” as Billy Batts waited in the trunk goes to Shawn Kemp. Sure, Kemp’s comeback attempt failed, but it would be a shame not to give a shout out to the most fertile man in NBA history.

13) Henry Hill: For us to live any other way was nuts. Uh, to us, those goody-good people who worked shitty jobs for bum paychecks and took the subway to work every day, and worried about their bills, were dead. I mean they were suckers. They had no balls. If we wanted something we just took it.

Another classic from “Goodfellas” goes to both Penny Hardaway and Grant Hill. Listen, both these guys were two of my childhood favorites, but facts are facts. These two combined to play 25 games this year for a combined salary of $31.4 million. That’s $1,256,000.00 per game. Any way you look at it, that’s just plain stealing money!

14) Lou Gehrig: Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

This famous excerpt from Gary Cooper’s tear jerking portrayal of Lou Gehrig’s real life farewell address in “Pride of the Yankees” goes to now back to back M.V.P. Steve Nash. So what if he is one of the worst defensive players in the league? So what if Kobe and Lebron had two of the most remarkable seasons of our lifetimes? So what if he’s now been placed in the rarified air of other two time M.V.P.’s such Bird, Magic, Jordan, Kareem, M.J., and Moses Malone? Let’s just forget about all these things and go ahead and make him the M.V.P. And yes, I’m growing increasingly bitter about this by the day.

15) Roger Murtaugh: Have you ever met anybody you didn't kill?
Martin Riggs: Well, I haven't killed you yet.

This exchange between Glover and Gibson in one of the all time underrated funny movies of all time, “Lethal Weapon” goes to Isiah Thomas and Larry Brown. I know I’m really picking on Isiah, but I couldn’t resist. Can’t you just imagine him and Larry Brown having a conversation very similar to this on this summer? Hell, I’d be surprised if it hadn’t already happened.

16) Prince Akeem: Fascinating. Semmi, look at this. America is great indeed. Imagine a country so free, you can throw out broken glass on the streets.

One day, I want to do an entire column based on quotes from “Coming to America”, but for now, just this one will have to do. Well, this one goes out to the San Antonio Spurs. I don’t know if the six foreign born members of the Spurs are fans of broken glass in the street, but I’m sure they would all agree that America is great indeed. There is no better proof that Czar Stern’s plan to take the game global has worked. Further evidence that he is in fact a genius. Must be that Columbia law degree!

17) Coach Norman Dale: Five players on the floor functioning as one single unit: team, team, team - no one more important that the other.

One of the greatest quotes from the greatest sports movie of all time, “Hoosiers”, goes to the Detroit Pistons. They’ve been a machine for the entire season, and they look unbeatable right now. With four guys averaging over 14 points/game and twelve guys averaging over 10 minutes/game, they are a tribute to the virtues of team basketball. Just a pure joy to watch.

18) Coach Norman Dale: If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don't care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we're gonna be winners.

We’ll close with one of the real goose bump moments from “Hoosiers”, and I’m giving this one to the Cavs and anybody else that faces the Pistons the rest of the postseason, because a moral victory is all they can hope for. If the Pistons keep playing like this, there’s not a team out there that can even push them to a 7th game. It’s like Bird asked at the ’88 three point contest in Chicago, “Who’s finishing second?”

So, there's my 2006 NBA Awards. Remember, it's just the beginning of the list. I look forward to what you guys can add.