Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Afternoon Delight

Vines sent me this Wednesday morning, and I just got around to giving it the read it deserves. Great stuff here that has nothing to do with the NBA. I think we have the makings of a weekly guest column. Enjoy the World According to Vines:

So after watching Kobe get interviewed at the end of Game 4 last night with that great look as he said, "No foul", I turned my attention to what really matters, watching "Rounders" for the 250th time. What hasn't been said about this movie? Well, two things that haven't been said (at least to my knowledge), are (i) why did Mike McD not return the $10K to Professor Petrovsky in person and (ii) why didn't he pay the man interest on the $10K? This frustrates me every time I watch the movie. I mean Petrovsky wrote the kid a $10K check (which was cashed that same night with no "check-cashing fee"), totally on a flier. For those of you who don't already know, I am likely the token Jew on this site and I know all about doing a mitzvah (which is what Petrovsky called his act of kindness towards Mike). But what an act of kindness! Mike asks for $15K from a self-proclaimed "not a rich man", but Petrovsky still comes up with $10K? I wonder if the professor had given Mike the $15K (which would have cleared him of the trouble he was in) if Mike would have just paid the debt and gone back to school, instead of making the run at KGBs. Good thing the "not a rich man" could only come up with just enough scratch to make Mike work for the rest. Then after turning the $10K into just under $60K, Mike pays Petrovsky back (in cash) (yeah, I want the sequel to start with Petrovsky walking into the bank with that envelope of cash and trying to deposit it), but with nothing extra. Not even a thank you. He doesn't even go himself, but sends the only girl that can move out of a New York City apartment in less than three hours to deliver the envelope thick with only the $10K that Mike borrowed. Give the guy a grand for his troubles, at least. That would be 10%. Hell, double the guys money for his kindness. He took quite a risk on some guy that wasn't even smart enough to disregard the holding Texas v Schneider (actually I don't remember the name of the case, but you get the reference). I don't know, it just rubbed me the wrong way.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Great Debate

Less than an hour ago, the Boston Celtics won one of the most intriguing and confusing NBA playoff games I can remember. I mean, what should we take from this game? Should we be alarmed and killing the C's for nearly blowing a 17 point lead at home? Or, should we be marveling at the collective team effort that resulted in another victory in a "must win" game (that's six and counting)? I think the answer is clear. While the C's certainly had....well....let's call them issues in nearly blowing that 17 point lead, I believe that this was the first playoff game that proves this team can actually win the NBA Championship.

First and foremost, we have confirmation that Ray Allen is still alive (29 points, 9-15 shooting, and 5-6 from 3 point land). We also have further confirmation that Paul Pierce is one of the best all around and unselfish players in the Association. In addition to his 16 points and 6 assists, Pierce once again sacrificed much of his offensive game to exert his energy on the defensive end of the floor and lock down Tayshaun Pierce (8 pts. on only 3-7 shooting). From the start of this series, the Celtics have counted on Pierce to go man to man with Prince, a notorious playoff killer, and he has responded by holding Prince to 33% shooting in the first five games, and he rendered him an absolute non-factor in Game 5. And, finally, we have confirmation that TIBT ("The Insane Big Ticket") can put together a massive performance when it matters the most (33 pts., 7 boards, and the 2 biggest free throws of his life). Oh, and by the way, in case you didn't notice, Kendrick Perkins just became the X factor. If you put up 18 points and 16 boards in the conference finals, you are officially a factor. And, if you happen to be on a team with three future hall of famers (yes, I'm sticking by that argument), you are an X factor. At least, I think that's how you define "X factor".

After a month of less than stellar play, I am finally sold on the Celtics as a potential NBA Champion. I'm by no means guaranteeing they are going to win the Title. Hell, I'm not even guaranteeing that they will win this series. All I am saying is that I finally believe they are actually capable of winning it all. As I sat in section 117 of Philips Arena on the first Friday of May for Game 6 of Round 1, I never saw this day coming.

So, it's clear I'm a believer. The real question is whether the WAD Nation finally believes in the Celtics? Let the debate begin....

Monday, May 26, 2008

Holiday Musings

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. I was fortunate enough to spend a wonderful weekend at Ocean Isle, North Carolina with some great old friends and their ever expanding families. In addition to getting in a mediocre 18 at a solid little course called The Pearl (somebody needs to introduce the Greens Keeper to the concept of mowing the tee boxes and greens, but other than that, it was solid), I enjoyed a little time on the beach playing boccie ball with the kids (remember the names Carter Dixon and Hunter Conklin, they are a combined five years old and have better hand eye coordination than me. In my defense, I have been a borderline alcohol for over a decade now), and nightly board game battles. Yes, there is no need for you rub it in, I am fully aware that I am the oldest 30 year old on the planet. That notwithstanding, it was a tremendous weekend that lent itself to some great sports discussions that led to the following musings:

  • Over the past two seasons, I have rekindled my childhood love affair with the NBA. In truth, it all really started during the D.Wade show in the '06 Finals. For at least the previous decade, I did just about everything I could to avoid watching any NBA game that didn't involve MJ. Sure, there were isolated moments that caught my interest, such as the great Kings/Lakers battles, the Blazers/Lakers series back in '01, and the hype of LeBron's first few games in the league. But, for the most part, the quality of play in Association had deteriorated to only a notch or two above your average lawyer league game. You can blame a host of things. For example, the Riley Heat, the influx of high schoolers, the lack of marketable superstars, and the league's tolerance of of cross checking the dribbler on the perimeter, among other things led to some really tough basketball. In the past few seasons, however, all this has changed. The league changed the rules to alleviate the hands on perimeter defense, the game loosened up and teams started getting up and down the floor again, those straight from high schoolers reached their fourth and fifth season and started turning the corner, the league benefited from an influx of legit young superstars (i.e. Lebron, Carmello, Wade, CP3, and Dwight Howard), and some of the established stars took their games to another level (i.e. Kobe, Tony Parker, Steve Nash, and yes, even KG).

So, why do I bring this all up? Well, through some conversations with some buddies this weekend that are tremendous basketball fans, it became obvious to me that not everybody has noticed the Association's resurgence. I will tell you the same thing I told them: If you haven't been watching, start! We live in an era where college basketball teams can't shoot 35% from three point range and can't consistently score 70 points a game. We live in an era where we roll our eyes every time a guy hits a home run in baseball. We live in an era where less than 1/3 of NFL teams have a starting quarterback that could have sniffed the field in the 80's. And, we live in an era where the Stanley Cup Finals are broadcast on a network I couldn't find on my dish without using the guide if my life depended on it. In short, with the possible exception of college football, the NBA is simply the best sports product around. If you insist on dwelling on the bad old days and don't come back to the NBA now, you are just punishing yourself.

  • As much as I'm sick of the Patriots, I'm even more sick of Spygate. Listen, I know Bellicheck is the most unlikeable guy in sports. I know Tom Brady clearly made a deal with the devil at some point before impregnating a starlet and leaving her for a supermodel. I know Rodney Harrison is the dirtiest player in the NFL. And, I know I would rather see the Yankees win the World Series than see the Pats win another Super Bowl. But, I also know this: If you think the Pats are the only team that engaged in this behavior, you are either naive or ignorant. And, of course, I know none of the WAD Nation is ignorant, so stop being naive. This is a non story. It has always been a non story. And it is a story that needs to die!

  • HD is very unkind to Stuart Scott. That eye is beyond creepy.

  • I know a lot of other people have covered this topic, especially Bill Simmons, but Kevin Garnet is certifiably insane. I'm sitting here watching Game 4 as I type, and a part of me is fearful that I am going to witness a murder live on television. Admittedly, I wouldn't turn the channel, but nobody really wants to see that, right?

  • Speaking of the C's, nobody has given them more flack this season's post-season struggles than me. Truthfully, it's easy to dump on a team that you are so vehemently rooting against. But, when you take a step back and look at the big picture, despite their lack of dominance, you do have to acknowledge two things: 1) The C's have had 5 "must win" games this post season (Games 5 & 7 against the Hawks; Games 5 & 7 against the Cavs; and Game 3 at Detroit), and they have won all five, and four of them were in dominant fashion; 2) The Celtics are still playing and all but three other teams are at home. The point? We better make damn sure they are dead before we start nailing the coffin shut. (this point is further reaffirmed by the fact that they just played horribly for 22 minutes, but managed to pull within 4 at halftime of Game 4 as I just finished this paragraph).

  • Being the most superstitious person I know, and having the ability to single handily change the course of seasons or the outcome of games with my wagers and/or comments, I have really struggled deciding whether I should make this next statement: Chipper Jones is having the signature season in a Hall of Fame career. Whew...there, I said it. Now, as soon as he hits the 45 day DL, I have no choice but to accept full responsibility.

  • I want to take the opportunity to say something I've never had the chance to say before and may never be able to say again: The Rays are 6 games ahead of the Yankees!!!!! I just wet myself a little.

Alright, KG just head butted the basket two times, so that means the second half is starting, so I've got to get back to the business of slurping the NBA.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Is a Top 7 Something You Would Be Interested In?

First of all, I have to come clean. I got home from work last night, cooked myself some dinner, and settled in and watched the “American Idol” finale before watching one second of the Pistons/Celtics. In fact, I missed the draft lottery because I was watching the Davids go head to head in the Nokia Theatre. And, I’m hear to tell you, I don’t regret it. As Randy Jackson said, those boys sang their faces off! What does this mean about me? Don’t answer that! Seriously, don’t.

Quickly moving on, as they often do, the “Mayhem in the A.M.” crew on Atlanta’s own 790 The Zone tossed around an interesting topic yesterday morning. They solicited listener’s opinions on the best and worst broadcasters on T.V. I loved this topic not only because it gave me the opportunity to shoot off an email sharing my Hubie Brown should narrate porn videos theory, butalso because I am one of those dorks that often finds the broadcasters as interesting as the game itself. So, naturally, I spent a good portion of my day rating announcers in my head as I worked on very exciting legal things and what not. The result? Well, I considered giving you a list of the best and worst, but I figured there was no reason to crap on the bad ones. Instead, I decided to keep it positive, and in true WAD fashion, here is a list of my 7 favorite announcers (I mean, you don’t need me to tell you Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are miserable and insufferable, right?):

1) Bill Rafferty - In addition to the fact that he is the Anti-Billy Packer (always upbeat and genuinely excited to be announcing a basketball game), he is incredibly knowledgeable, wastes no words, and always captures the moment. I don’t know of any other color guy that has such an influential impact on the flow of the game. And, if that’s not enough, try these on for size: “with a kiss”…”a little lingerie on the deck”….”ONIONS!”

2) Gus Johnson - There is nobody in the business that exudes excitement, enthusiasm, humor, and passion and can still maintain his focus on the details like Gus. All I can really say is that I would watch a hockey game is Gus was doing the play by play. Don’t believe me? Check this out:

3) Hubie Brown - There is simply nothing better than listening to the old coach expertly break down every intricacy of an NBA game. Honestly, it is like attending a coaching clinic every time you listen to Hubie. And, of course, there is the whole porn narration thing.

4) Dick Stockton - I mean, he is the consummate professional. Did you watch the NBA on CBS as a kid? Well, he hasn’t lost a step in 25 years. Do yourself a favor and take 10 minutes and watch this (not a bad game, either):

5) Brad Nessler - As much as I love college football, there is a tremendous void when it comes to quality announcers. That explains why Nessler is the only college football announcer on this list. His greatness, however, isn’t limited to football. He does a great job with college basketball and with the NBA. His greatest gift, which is amazingly not shared by many other big time announcers, is his ability to not miss any of the details and bring out the strengths of the other guys in the booth. Just look to his work with Paul Maguire and Bob Griese. I genuinely enjoy this crew even though I’m not always sure Maguire and Griese are actually watching the game.

6) Bryant Gumble - Okay, that’s a joke. Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention. The real #6 is Jon Miller. Hands down, the best baseball announcer in the business. Always on point, always has great stories to pass the time in the slow pace of a Sunday night in the summer, and when it comes down to it he just sounds like a baseball announcer should sound. I couldn’t find the audio, but here is the text of his legendary call of Bonds’s 756th (forget for a minute that Bonds is a scumbag):

Three and two to Bonds. Everybody standing here at 24 Willie Mays Plaza. An armada of nautical craft gathered in McCovey Cove beyond the right field wall. Bonds one home run away from history. (crack of the bat) AND HE SWINGS, AND THERE'S A LONG ONE DEEP INTO RIGHT CENTER FIELD, WAY BACK THERE, IT'S GONE!!! A HOME RUN! Into the center field bleachers to the left of the 421 foot marker. An extraordinary shot to the deepest part of the yard! And Barry Bonds with 756 home runs, he has hit more home runs than anyone who has ever played the game!

7) Verne Lundquist at the Masters - It is very important that we distinguish between Verne the college football announcer and Verne at the Masters. As much as it pains me, Verne the college football announcer has turned into an insufferable jock sniffer that chooses one player to love at the outset of every season and finds a way to slurp them every week, even if he isn’t covering their game. It used to be David Greene and David Pollack, and now it is Tim Tebow. He will probably cry when Tebow takes his jean shorts to the CFL. On the other hand, on Sunday at Augusta, when he is sitting in the tower on 16, Verne is perfect. No other word to describe it. The best I can do is two simple words, “Yes, Siiiiiiiiiiiiir!” I couldn’t find the audio for the legendary call from 17 in ’86, but here is another one for the ages (And no, never in my life have I!):

Monday, May 19, 2008

Back in the Saddle

So, what could possibly be important enough to drag the WAD back onto the blogosphere? Well, truth be told, I’ve been feeling the itch for the past several weeks. With one tremendous NBA playoff game following another, and with so many great story lines flowing out of these first two rounds (i.e. the Celtics’ “Big Three” being pushed to the brink twice, the Hawks’ improbable home court heroics, Chris Paul’s meteoric emergence, Kobe’s sustained excellence and aching back, yet another valiant effort by T-Mac in defeat, the Pistons reaching their sixth straight conference finals behind some guy named Stuckey, Ron Jeremy leading the Magic into Round 2, etc…), I’ve often been tempted to put the fingers back on the keyboard. Each time I felt the urge, however, something got in the way. You know, the typical things a single 30 year old man confronts…sweeping the hard woods, doing the dishes, obsessively cleaning the granite counter tops, re-sweeping the hard woods, vacuuming the upstairs carpet, cleaning the shower, and sweeping the hard woods once more before going to bed. In case you haven’t heard, the WAD is now a proud a homeowner, and let’s just say that the transition into the WAD Palace has changed my life. And, while we’re here, let me just publicly apologize to my Mother and any of my past roommates for the way I treated our homes and apartments. Let’s just say that the first two mortgage payments have definitely changed my philosophy on cleanliness and home maintenance. Anyway, I digress.

What has led to the resurrection of the WAD? Just as with the original incarnation of the WAD, it was a great sports debate via email. This debate, however, unlike some in the past, took place via blackberry while I was attending a dinner party. Yes, I’m a homeowner that attends dinner parties. I’m a mail order bride away from being all grown up. At any rate, here is the gist of the debate that brought us here: My good friend claimed that, in comparison to Jordan and Kobe, Lebron is not clutch because he didn’t knock down the shots necessary to win today’s Game 7. In response, I pointed out that Bron Bron is a 23 year old that has already led his team to one NBA Finals, and today, engaged in an epic shootout with Paul Pierce in which he threw up 45 only to come up just short on the road against a 66 win team with 3 future Hall of Famers in Game 7. In turn, my good friend vehemently disputed the fact that Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are Hall of Famers.

That is a long way of saying that we have two questions to address today: 1) Should Lebron’s failure to win Game 7 against the C’s be viewed as an indictment of his “clutchness” as compared to Kobe? (Yes, MJ was initially part of this discussion, but anybody that knows me knows that until science actually perfects cloning and reproduces MJ himself, I will never compare any one to the greatest to lace them up); and 2) Are “The Truth” and “Jesus” Hall of Famers? Let’s take these in order.

1) Lebron

First of all, let me reiterate, this is a 23 year old man that has already led his team to one Finals, which is the only such appearance in franchise history. Also, it should be noted that en route to last year’s Finals, Bron led the Cavs back from 0-2 down against the Pistons, and in Game 5, he set a franchise record with 48 points, which included the Cavs’ last 25 points in a double OT victory!!!!! Does it get any more clutch than that? Well, today, he put on one of the great Game 7 performances of all time, but unfortunately for him, the remainder of his team couldn’t even match his point out put. As far as I’m concerned, we could stop right there and we don’t even need to discuss the fact that Bron has nobody else on his roster that could sniff an all star game, much less the Hall of Fame. Well, since Kobe, of whom I am a huge fan, was interjected into this debate, I guess we are forced to take a look.

At 23, Lebron’s current age, Kobe was in the midst of earning his second of three consecutive rings with the Lakers, thanks in large part to the presence of the greatest center of our lifetime. That’s not to diminish Kobe’s part in the Lakers’ run. He was extraordinary in those three seasons and playoff runs. In the second championship run, he averaged about 27, 6, and 5. Of course, Shaq was also averaging 28.5 and 13 during those playoffs. But, if you fast forward to the end of the Lakers’ run, that five game debacle at the hands of the Pistons in the ’03 Finals, Kobe averaged only 22.6 points/game and shot 35.1% from the floor as he, Shaq, Malone, and The Glove were humiliated. We all, of course, know what happened next, so we won’t even discuss that, but we can discuss the fact that the next three seasons featured Kobe pouring in tons of points on bad teams. These three seasons, of course, were highlighted by scandal, jersey number changes, the bizarre disappearing act in Game 7 of Round 1 of the ’06 playoffs against the Suns, and finally culminated with a forgetful 5 game loss to the Suns in Round 1 of the ’07 playoffs.

I bring up all these points not to diminish Kobe’s accomplishments or to question his place as one of the greatest players of all time. In fact, my intent is just the opposite. What I have just done is proved that no matter how great a player is, no matter how much he accomplishes, if you look hard enough and do 10 minutes worth of thinking and take one trip to, you can tear them apart. For God’s sake, Larry Bird missed a wide open three to win Game 6 of the ’87 Finals against the Lakers, and Bird only beat Magic once in the Finals. I guess that means Magic was more clutch than Bird, right? The answer, of course, is NO. You simply can’t measure how clutch a guy is, or how great a player is for that matter, by one game or one series. If you could, which would you pick? Kobe against the Pistons? Bird in ’87? Lebron today? Or, would it be Kobe in Game 7 against the Blazers in ’00? Bird against ‘Nique in Game 7 in ’88? Lebron against the Pistons in Game 5 last year? Players like Kobe and Lebron come along only a few times in a lifetime, and if you are lucky enough to watch them play, you shouldn’t waste your time trying to compare them and trying to find fault in one so you can exalt the other. The fact of the matter is that they are both extraordinary players. They have both had incredibly clutch moments, and they have both had bitter disappointments. Who is more clutch? Who cares?

2) Pierce and Allen

Here is the easiest way to address this issue:

Paul Pierce’s career regular season numbers: 22pts, 6 boards, 4 assists

Paul Pierce’s career playoff numbers: 22.6, 7.6, and 4.6

Stab wounds: 7

And, let’s not forget that Pierce has been the only constant in the NBA’s proudest franchise over the past decade.

Ray Allen’s career regular season numbers: 21pts, 4.5boards, 4 assists (40% 3pt and 89% FT)

Ray Allen’s career playoff numbers: 22 pts., 4.5 boards, 4 assists (41% 3pt and 90% FT)

Oscar worthy threesomes: 1

Now, at present, there are 134 men and women in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Let’s see how Pierce and Allen stack up against some of those you may know:

Alex English career regular season numbers: 21.6 pts, 5.5 boards, 3.6 assists

Alex English career playoff numbers: 24.4 pts, 5.5 boards, 4.3 assists

Clyde Drexler career regular season numbers: 20.4 pts, 6.1 boards, 5.6 assists

Clyde Drexler career playoff numbers: 20.4 pts, 6.9 boards, 6.1 assists

Joe Dumars career regular season numbers: 16.1 pts, 2.2 boards, 4.5 assists

Joe Dumars career playoff numbers: 15.6 pts, 2.3 boards, 4.6 assists

Bob Cousy career regular season numbers: 18.4 pts, 5.2 boards, 7.5 assists

Bob Cousy career playoff numbers: 18.5 pts, 5.0 boards, 8.6 assists

Charles Barkley career regular season numbers: 22.1 pts, 11.7 boards, 3.9 assists

Charles Barkley career playoff numbers: 23.0 pts, 12.9 boards, 3.9 assists

So, those are some raw numbers that reveal that Pierce and Allen have done enough statistically to reside in the company of several of those already in the Hall of Fame. Then, consider the fact that Allen is an 8 time all-star, the second all time three point shooter in NBA history (Reggie Miller is #1), will finish his career easily in the top 50 scorers in NBA history (currently 69th behind Cousy), has won a gold medal, and was a First Team All American in college. Now, consider that Pierce holds 17 Boston Celtics records, has the second highest scoring average in Celtics’ history (Bird is 1st), is a six time All Star, led the NBA in points scored in 2002, was a first team All America in college, and survived 7 stab wounds! Finally, consider that neither of these guys is done yet. By the time they have completed their work, there is no chance these guys won’t be enshrined in the Hall.