Monday, June 30, 2008

Speechless

I've got nothing today. In fact, during these dog days of no hoops or football and terrible television, I'm not sure what there is to say. I'll do my best to come up with something over the next few days, but in the meantime, feel free to send me your own columns or ideas.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Draft Preview

I sat down to write my NBA Draft preview and something immediately occurred to me: other than Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo, Michael Beasley, and Gallinari, I don’t a thing about any of these guys. So, instead of pretending like I had any idea what I was talking about, I figured it would be more entertaining to give you a blow by blow report of ESPN’s big Draft Preview Show. Lame? Maybe. More entertaining for you? Hopefully. More entertaining for me? Definitely. So, here we go:

We’ve got Stu Scott and his creepy eye on the far right, the dynamic duo of Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy sandwiched in the middle, and the insufferable Jay Bilas on the far left. Amazingly, Van Gundy and Jackson both made their opening statements without praising Doc Rivers or trashing the Lakers’ defense! For the record, I agreed with all their praise of Doc and all their hammering of the Lakers, but I got the point after the 312th time. I love you Mark and Coach, but I felt it was worth mentioning. As for Jay Bilas, it is going to be hard to listen to him because I loathe him. Hey Jay, how does Josh Smith’s as* taste? I’m so sorry. I can’t believe I just typed that, but I can’t get it out of my head. Thanks, Shaq. I am now much dumber than I was Monday.

Okay, we had some talk about some completely irrelevant trades, including the Raptors reportedly trading T.J. Ford and his spine to two different teams. The other trade involved the Blazers getting some cash from the Hornets as well as Chris Paul…uh, just kidding, but I wanted to make sure you were with me.

Has anybody noticed that Rick Buecher looks just like former Iowa State guard, Shane Power? Yes, the guy’s name is really Shane Power, and yes, I actually remember him. What does this say about me? Don’t answer that.

Andy Katz just informed us that Michael Jordan is enamored with the depth of this draft! Uh-oh. I don’t know much, but I do know that when I only know 7 guys projected to go in the first round, “depth” should not be the word used to describe this draft. At this point, I believe it is legitimate to ask whether MJ’s career as an NBA exec is less successful than Magic’s career as a talk show host. I just died a little inside, let’s move on.

Bilas just used the following words to describe Derrick Rose…”world class athlete”…”superb”….”powerful”….”well hung”. Okay, I’m lying about the last one, but I think you get the point. Jay Bilas wants to have relations with Derrick Rose.

Hold the phone! Coach just declared Michael Beasley to be a future hall of famer. I’m not sure how this happened, but Van Gundy somehow managed to never coach against Glen Robinson, Derrick Coleman, Marcus Fizer, or any other 6’8” guy that has come through the league in the past 20 years that gave you 20-10 a night and somehow made you worse. Okay, I know Marcus Fizer never came close to 20-10 a night, but I had to put his name in there to keep with the Iowa State theme. And, by the way, Bilas just compared Beasley to Roy Tarpley. I don’t know about you, but when I think of Roy Tarpley, the only words that come to mind are “blow” “coke” “cocaine” “hookers” “blow” and “more blow.” Nice, Jay.

I do agree with the whole panel when they all agree the Heat have to take Beasley over Mayo. Everybody has really warmed to Mayo in the past few months, and Bilas loves to call him “NBA ready.” If this is true, why is it that he was a big time under achiever in his one year of college? Listen, for some strange reason, I really would like to see Mayo hit it big, but why should I be expecting this? And, while we are here, after all we have learned about Mayo’s decision making in the past few months, can we all just agree not to gush about his focus, dedication, and decision making ability anymore?

I can’t even keep up with Bilas right now. He’s raving about Kevin Love, he just called Eric Gordon a prolific shooter (I would love to hear what he would have said about him if he had shot more than 33% from the college 3 point line), and I think he just professed his undying love for Joe Alexander. In fact, he just called Alexander the best athlete in the draft. I don’t know about you, but I saw Joe Alexander play, and I thought a lot of things, but “best athlete in the NBA draft” was not one of them.

Some lady with a face for radio just interviewed Mayo. She asked him about the USC investigation, and he said he’s not really paying attention to it because his focus is on the NBA. No kidding? O.J. Mayo didn’t want to comment on this situation? I’m shocked! Why do reporters ask stupid questions? Honestly, I could do my job full time and then go right on tv and do a better job than most reporters. And, in case you are wondering, this is not a compliment to me.

The entire panel just spent three minutes gushing over what a good teammate and person Mayo is. You know, these guys are talking about him like they know him, so I am going to assume they do. Therefore, I’m going to take them at their word and believe Mayo is a good guy. All of the sudden I no longer care if he succeeds in the NBA. What does it say about me that I was rooting for him five minutes ago when I thought he was a bad guy, and now that I’m convinced he’s a good dude, I have no use for him? I think it just says that I don’t want good guys and legit refs going and screwing up the league I love!

Hey, we’ve got a Fran Fraschilla sighting! We are talking about Gallinari right now. Fraschilla loves him. Based on the clips they are showing, I see why. Honestly, I’ve spent a lot of time on Youtube over the past week watching clips of this guy, and I’m a believer. I’m very excited about the prospects of him going to the Knicks. This guy will run through all the aspiring “models” and “actresses” in NYC in a matter of months. I took him at even money to nail an Olsen twin in the next six months.

Oh, boy. The Gallinari discussion naturally leads to a larger conversation about the Knicks. Mark thinks they need to “change the culture”, and the Coach things they need to find a leader to “inspire” his teammates. Hold on a minute. Isn’t his why drafted Renaldo Balkman 87 picks too early a few years ago? The Knicks are the Lindsay Lohan of the NBA, and they are one more horrible draft choice away from being the Britney Spears of the Association.

Right now, ESPN has a poll question on the right side of the screen asking who is the best small forward in the draft, Alexander or Gallinari? In other words, an overrated white dude from West Virginia or a white dude from Italy? Can I please have option (C)?

Bilas just said he thinks the T-Wolves should take Brooke Lopez with the third pick. Can somebody please cut his mic. Seriously, what more does he have to do to be removed from the Garden?

Holy, Colleen Dominquez! She just said a lot about the Seattle/Oklahoma City Sonics, but I didn’t hear a word. It’s rare you see an actress make the jump from Cinemax to ESPN reporter so easily.

We are now seeing random interviews of Chicago fans expressing their views on who the Bulls should take with the #1 pick. The last guy they interviewed said that if they don’t take Rose there will be problems in Chicago. Nobody wants problems in Chicago. Do the right thing John Paxon and Vinny Del Negro, take Derrick Rose! Yes, Vinny Del Negro is a head coach in the NBA. The NBA…where insanity happens!

Van Gundy just told a hilarious story about passing on Ron Artest in the ’99 draft and taking “some stiff from France” instead. Moments like this are why Van Gundy has quickly become one of my favorite announcers of all time! That stiff was, of course, Frederic Weiss, who happened to not only be French, but injured. How did Scott Layden manage to keep his job for 5 more seasons?

BTW – Brook Lopez looks like Ivan Drago with a curly half-fro.

We are back from the break and we are talking trades. Apparently, the Knicks are dangling David Lee at the Heat for the #2 pick. Wow, if you are Pat Riley, do you politely say “no”, or do you get on a plane, fly to New York, and punch Donnie Walsh in the face?

Nice little peace on Kevin Love. He seems pretty likeable. He even made a funny crack about “California Girls” being one of his favorite songs for “undisclosed reasons.”

Now we are talking about the potential of raising the eligibility requirements to require kids to attend college for 2 years. Mark Jackson declares that this would be a “crime.” Really, Mark? Is it a crime that you require doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, stock brokers, financial planners, realtors, etc…to attend college, take accreditation examines, and satisfy continuing education requirements to continue to ply their trade? C’mon, Mark get some perspective. Again, I love Mark, but arguing that any person has an absolute right to work in a certain field without some education or age requirement is absurd. I could go on for 1,000 words about this, but I’m tired, so you just caught a break.

The show comes to an end with the news that the Raptors have traded T.J. Ford to Indiana for Jermaine O’Neal. Apparently, the Pacers agreed to take T.J. and his spine. Good for them. You hate to see a man separated from his spine by anything other than marriage. And yes, I am the only single guy I know.

That’s it and that’s all. I’m pretty certain we are no more prepared for tomorrow night’s draft than we were before this hour long “preview”, but it was fun, right?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Comments Welcome

1) I just turned on the College World Series (by accident), and Fresno State is up 18-10 going to the bottom of the 8th. Why is this worth mentioning? Well, because this is exactly why I can't tolerate college baseball. Listen, I think there is a dismal lack of pitching in the majors, and way too many runs are scored in your average MLB game. Now, combine that with infinitely less talented pitchers, aluminum bats, and much shakier fielding, and ladies and gentlemen you have college baseball. Honestly, I can enjoy just about any sport in small doses, but not college baseball. Sure, you have some exceptions. There have been great college players that end up being great big leaguers, even some pitchers (I just learned that Orel Hersheiser played college baseball). But, at the end of the day, broadcasting college baseball on ESPN is the equivalent of broadcasting a law school moot court competition on national television. The only difference is that most, if not all, of those law students will eventually make a living a lawyers (And no, I am in no way endorsing any one attending law school...just want to be clear about that!)

And no, my opinion would be no different if Tech was playing. In all my years as a Tech fan and student, I've seen two baseball games in person, and for four years I lived less than half a mile from the stadium, and I worked for the athletic association! Listen, if you love college baseball, good for you. In fact, I would invite you to share what you enjoy about college baseball. I am honestly curious.

2) If you've ever seen a better music video than this, please share:

http://www.tmz.com/category/shaq-attack

3) Finally, if you know of a dumber man in America than Don Imus, please clue me in. Really, Don? Really?

Monday, June 23, 2008

What's next?

I seriously hate this time of year. No hoops, no football, baseball doesn't really matter yet, tennis stopped being relative in our youth, NASCAR stopped being interesting when I stopped recognizing the names of the guys that actually win races, and the summer television schedule is abysmal. In short, I'm one more "Everybody Loves Raymond" re-run away from digging into my jugular with a butter knife. Combine all this with the fact that the smoke detectors in the WAD Palace have decided it is fun to randomly go off at all hours of the night for sh*ts and giggles, and life is just lovely right now. So, why I am I sharing all this gloom and doom with the WAD Nation? Well, I'm not too proud to admit that this time of year presents a lot of challenges when deciding on what to write about. That's where you guys and gals come in. I need your suggestions. Consider this your opportunity to help direct the WAD through the dog days of summer and send me some ideas for what you would like to read about. And, if the spirit moves you, feel free to send me your own articles, and I will publish them.

And, just for your enjoyment, here's a special WAD Top 7. You can guess the topic:

7) Jennifer Morrison (Cameron on "House")

6) Carrie Underwood

5) Elisha Cuthbert

4) Miranda Kerr

3) Minkha Kelly

2) Olivia Wilde ("13" on "House")

1) Megan Fox

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tiger, The Celtics, and Remembering Two Giants

TIGER

What’s bigger than the Celtics’ destruction of the Lakers? That would be Tiger’s apparent destruction of his left knee. Let me tell you something, this is a HUGE deal for many reasons. First of all, this is the most dominant athlete in the world, and he is being sidelined for the first time in his career right after one of his greatest moments. The only situation that we’ve seen, in my estimation, that comes close is MJ walking away to play baseball at his apex. Granted, the situations are different, but just like MJ’s decision, Tiger’s injury has huge and chilling ramifications for his sport. For example, just as I have always contended that the Rockets’ two titles had to feel somewhat hollow because they didn’t have to slay MJ, whoever wins this year’s Open Championship and PGA Championship will have to endure a lifetime of being known as the guys that won because Tiger didn’t play. Fair or not, that is how it is going to be. In fact, if I were Phil Mickelson, I think I would almost rather not win either championship. I mean, can you imagine walking off the 18th green at Royal Birkdale Claret Jug in hand only to have the first question asked be, “Phil, is this win cheapened by the fact Tiger is back in Orlando?” Again, it might not be fair, but it is going to happen to whoever wins the Jug and the Wanamaker Trophy. And, in some strange way, if this happens to Lefty, I can’t help but think it will do more harm than good to his legacy. Weird, but true.

While Tiger’s injury is undoubtedly going to have historical ramifications for this year’s British and PGA, it is also going to have huge historical ramifications on this year’s U.S. Open. What ramifications, you ask? People, we thought it was amazing that Tiger managed to win at Torrey Pines with what we thought was a banged up knee that was in the process of healing. Now, we know that Tiger won the U.S. Open on a ruptured ACL, two tibia fractures, and was not able to walk as recently as two weeks ago. I’ve never been in more awe of an athlete, not even MJ during the “Flu Game.” Go ahead and brace yourself because an enormously bold statement is coming your way…..are you ready???? Okay, here it is: What Tiger Woods just did over 5 days at Torrey Pines was the greatest athletic accomplishment I have ever seen period! Before you go nuts and start screaming that it’s not possible to bestow this status on a golfer, I want you to stop and think about it. And then, I would invite you to try to convince me that a greater example of perseverance, fortitude, ability, “clutchness”, and pure greatness exists in the world of sports.

The Champs

So, the Celtics absolutely humiliated Kobe and the Lakers on their way to hoisting their 17th banner. Honestly, what can I say about this? I mean, I could obnoxiously gloat that I picked the C’s to win in 6 games and predicted Paul Pierce would win the MVP and cement his status as a legend. I could do that, but that, of course, is not me! All kidding aside, I picked the C’s before the series because of two things: 1) I thought Pierce had the ability to take over games and will his team to victory at home; and 2) I thought the Celtics were tougher than any team the Lakers had faced and played better defense than anybody else in the Association. What I didn’t count on was that the Lakers would be a complete disaster on defense and Ray Allen would be much more “Jesus” than “The Artist Formerly Known as Ray Allen” or the “Decomposing Corpse of Ray Allen.” Honestly, I think Ray Allen could easily have been the MVP of this series, and I think his play is the biggest story of this series. Why? Well, after the Cavs series I made the comment that the C’s better find a way to win this year’s title because Allen was washed up and the Big 3 would be no more. Well, it’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last, but I was completely wrong. In the Finals, Ray Ray proved he is far from washed up. He looked quick and confident, and his stroke was as pure as ever. With Ray being Ray, KG’s maniacal competitiveness, Pierce’s consistency and toughness, and Rondo’s constant development, this team is certainly not done yet.

R.I.P. TIM RUSSERT & JIM MCKAY

On a much different note, last week we lost one of the true giants in journalism, Tim Russert. This loss came less than a week after the passing of another journalistic giant, Jim McKay. While Russert’s field was politics and McKay’s was sports, they both left and indelible mark on our society through their work, and they were both among the best television journalists we have ever seen. Earlier this week I sent an email summarizing my thoughts on Russert’s and McKay’s deaths, and I am sharing it with you below:

Even more than all the things you mentioned about Russert (professionalism, preparation, knowledge, objectivity, etc...), the thing that always struck me as his greatest attribute was the joy with which he performed his job. Honestly, have you ever seen a person enjoy their job more and want to share that joy with an entire nation than when Russert would run electoral numbers on his white board on Election Night? He was truly a fixture in my life on Sunday mornings, and I have to admit I am a little embarrassed about the sadness I feel as a result of the death of a man I never met.

As for McKay, I have vague memories from my childhood of his time hosting the Olympics and Wide World of Sports. That being said, I have vivid memories of all the wonderful human interest pieces and historical pieces he composed over the past few decades at the British Open and the Olympics. In my mind he was much like Vin Scully. That is to say, he sounded like a sports broadcaster should sound, and you always knew the gravity of the moment when McKay made an appearance. With Schapp and McKay gone, I am left wondering who now holds the torch as the Nation's Sports Journalist Laureate, if you will? Is it Costas? Kornheiser? Wilbon? I just don't know the answer, but I know there is a huge void to fill.

Pure Dominance




Somebody picked the C's in 6 and Paul Pierce as the MVP, right? More to come tomorrow...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Simply Amazing

What can I possibly say about Tiger that hasn't already been said? You already know he's the greatest golfer of all time. You already know he is the most clutch athlete we've seen since M.J. You already know Tiger has one of the hottest wives in the world. What you might not know is that it's 11:30 p.m., I just got home from work, I have to be up at 5:30 a.m., and I just cranked up the TIVO to watch Tiger v. Rocco. That's right, the thought of waiting until later this week to watch these 19 holes didn't even cross my mind. What Tiger has done over the past five days, winning possibly the toughest Championship in Golf on a bad knee and with virtually no preparation, transcends sports. It's been an event. It's been a coronation. It's been something we won't soon forget. It's been something we should feel privileged to have witnessed. And, finally, it's something we will all tell our kids and grand kids about one day. That being said, I'm going to settle in and enjoy every last shot (thank God for TIVO)! Before doing so, I do need to acknowledge Rocco's toughness. This script wouldn't have been complete without Rocco pushing Tiger to such amazing heights. For his sake, I hope Rocco doesn't go the way of Bob May and Chris DiMarco, the only other two guys to ever go toe to toe with Tiger with it all on the line. Unfortunately for them, May and DiMarco peaked when they fell short. Here's hoping the old goofy bastard from Western Pennsylvania gets another shot at greatness. Perhaps at the Ryder Cup?

Oh yeah, Game 5 was great and Game 6 should be a blast. There is plenty of time to talk about the C's and Lakers tomorrow and the next day. For today, however, nothing should share the stage with the greatest U.S. Open of our lifetime. Yes, I said it, and I'm open to being convinced otherwise, but I just don't think you can do it.

I'm out...Tiger just parred #1...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hold Please....

With the U.S. Open spilling over into tomorrow thanks to Tiger's heroics, and with Game 5 sure not to end until sometime around midnight, I'm reserving all comments until tomorrow night. In the meantime, can someone explain to me how Paul Pierce can play in the NBA and still star in multiple movies a year? (Feel free to provide your own "separated at birth" theories):




Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Celebrating 600

I wanted to take a break from all the Finals talk and take a moment to celebrate Ken Griffey, Jr.'s monumental accomplishment. Some may view this as taking the easy way out (and, they are probably right), but instead of re-creating the wheel, I figured I would share with you once again my article from May 12, 2006. It's hard to believe I wrote this over two years ago, but I just can't think of a better way to share my feelings about Jr. Not to mention that of all the entries I have written in this space, I am probably the most proud of this one. So, without further ado, let's celebrate the present by taking a step back in the past:

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Kid

One of the greatest things about sports is that on any random night something truly special can happen. Something that if you are lucky enough to see it live you might find yourself talking about it ten years later in some bar with a random stranger, and if you happen to miss it, you might find yourself full of regret. Well, in case you missed it last night, something truly special happened on the baseball diamond. No, despite the fact that I take a sick delight in any misfortune that befalls the Yankees, I’m not talking about Hideki Matsui breaking his wrist. Although, that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Nope, I am talking about Ken Griffey Jr. turning back the clock with a three run walk off homer in the bottom of the 11th inning.

I know that you might be asking yourself, “why should I care about Griffey hitting a game winner on May 11?” Well, I’m going to tell you why. Since the Summer of ’98, four things have happened to baseball fans: 1) McGwire and Sosa captivated us in the summer of ’98; 2) Barry Bonds launched a sorted assault on the record books; 3) BALCO; and 4) We forgot that Ken Griffey Jr. is the greatest baseball player of the last quarter century. The first three are possibly topics for another day, but the last…well…it’s time to refresh our memories. So, strap on your seat belts, sit back and relax, and enjoy the ride. First stop…1989.

On April 3, 1989, a 19 year old kid with a chronic case of perma-grin and his hat turned backwards started in center field for the Seattle Mariners. At the time, we knew a few things about the kid. We knew that his Dad was a pretty good ball player in his own right. We knew that the Mariners had taken him number 1 overall in the ’87 draft, and it only took him a year in the minors to make his way to the Show. And, we knew that the kid was nicknamed, well, The Kid. So, that’s what we knew. What we soon learned is that The Kid was a gem of our generation. You know, a player that makes old men say things like “these guys today are good, but none of them compare to (fill in the blank).” Our Grandfathers had Dimaggio and Williams. Our Fathers had Mays, Mantle, and even Clemente. Well, it quickly became clear for our generation there was only one true gem…The Kid!

By the time he was 20 years old, The Kid was already an All Star and had won his first Gold Glove. By the time he was 21, he had his first 100 RBI season, and by the time he was 23, he hit 45 homeruns. Remember, that was back when 45 homeruns really meant something. As if the mounting numbers weren’t enough, he played the game with an ease and joy that I don’t remember ever having seen before or since. There was no ball out of his range in the outfield. The centerfield wall was a mere inconvenience, and his swing was so sweet that every little boy in America was begging his father to teach them to hit left handed so he could swing like The Kid. And, through it all, he just kept smiling. I honestly don’t remember one interview from those Seattle years where he wasn’t smiling, and where that hat wasn’t on backwards. It didn’t take long for his combination of talent and charisma to make a superstar. Hell, aside from Michael Jordan, there was no bigger star in the world of sports. None!

As the ‘90’s wore on, and The Kid morphed into “Jr.” somewhere along the way, but not much else changed. He kept hitting homeruns, driving in runs, winning gold gloves, and most remarkably of all…he actually put Seattle on the baseball map. Despite the fact that they played in an airplane hangar, it rained 320 days a year in Seattle, and 90% of the people in Seattle were more likely to go to a coffee shop and talk about the time they saw Pearl Jam play a surprise show at some hole in the wall club than they were to attend a baseball game, The Mariners actually became a winner. By 1995, the Mariners were a playoff team, and they took out the Yankees in a classic come from behind 5 game Series in which Jr. hit .391 with 5 HR, 7 RBI, and 9 runs scored. Yea, he was pretty good! By the end of his eleventh season in 1999, Jr. was 30 years old and his career numbers looked like this:

299 Batting Average

398 HR

1152 RBI

10 Gold Gloves

10 All Star Appearances

1 AL MVP

1 MLB Player of the Year

So, the 20th Century closed with little doubt that Jr. was the best player of the 90’s, and we had no reason to believe that his reign wouldn’t stretch through the better part of the new decade. In fact, when he was traded to his hometown team, The Cincinnati Reds, on February 10, 2000, it looked like Jr. would play out the second half of his career and ride into the Hall of Fame in storybook fashion. Things went according to plan his first season with 40 homers and 118 RBI. In 2001, however, it seemed like the roof caved in. The injuries began to mount. If it wasn’t the knee it was the hamstring, and if it wasn’t the hamstring it was the shoulder. From 2002 to 2005, injury after injury came, and Jr. only played 206 games over those three seasons. His numbers crashed, his aura faded, but worst of all, for the first time since we knew him, the smile was gone and the hat was turned straight. In short, he was no longer The Kid or Jr., instead, he was now just Ken Griffey Jr. He was just another guy on a crappy team that wasn’t earning his paycheck. I’m not going to lie to you, it was hard to watch. Worst of all, because guys like Bonds, Pujols, A-rod, Vlad, etc…were putting up other worldly numbers at the exact same time Griffey was declining, people seemed to forget how amazing Griffey had once been. It was the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever seen in sports. I even had conversations with friends that tried to convince me that Griffey may not even be a Hall of Famer any more. Conversations like this, and the general dismissal of all Griffey had accomplished absolutely infuriated me. I mean, this was OUR Dimaggion, OUR Mays, OUR Clemente…how could people forget this?

Well, last season, Griffey gave the world an emphatic “not so fast” when he managed to stay healthy for 128 games, belted 35 HR, and drove in 92 runs. Nobody was happier than me, and as this season dawned I was hoping that at age 35 Griffey could start one final push, in the twilight of his career, to leave no doubt that he was best player of our generation. Well, it only took eight games for that gimpy knee to rear its ugly head and send Griffey back to the DL. And, that brings us to last night.

So, there he was…fresh off a month long stint on the DL, digging in with two men on base, down two runs, one out in the Bottom of the 11th. Six years ago, I would have put even money on Jr. coming through in this spot. Last night, however, I wouldn’t have taken 20-1 odds on Ken Griffey Jr. coming through. Well, suffice it to say, I’m lucky there were no odds makers in the house. As the ball soared out of the park, Griffey raised his arms as he started that patented trot around the bases, his teammates charged out of the dugout like they had just won Game 7 of the World Series, and as they mobbed Griffey as he crossed the plate something special happened…we saw that smile again! I’ve seen the replay about 15 times now, and I’ve come to a realization…He will certainly never be The Kid again. He probably won’t even be Jr. again. But, from time to time, at moments like this, we still might get a glimpse of those guys again. And, you know what? I’m okay with that, because no matter what, to me he will always be the greatest player of our generation. In other words, he is always going to be MY Dimmagio, MY Mays, and MY Clemente.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Monday Night Musings

With about 7 minutes left in last night's Game 2 between the C's and Lakers, I was contemplating exactly how many different ways I was going to hammer Phil Jackson and the entire Laker squad and exalt the Celtics in this space. Then, the Lakers mounted their furious comeback and left me unwilling to bury them just yet, but they aren't completely off the hook:

  • Through two games, the difference in the Finals can be summarized in one word: Toughness. The Celtics have it and the Lakers don't. Sure, the disparity in free throws was absurd last night, but it was every bit the product of the Lakers' unwillingness to attack the basket and refusal to play hard nose defense as it was the failings of the officials. Even during the comeback, the Lakers feasted on wide open 3 point looks and the general complacency and laziness of the Celtics. I just re-watched the last 8 minutes of last night's game on TIVO, and I am now convinced the comeback tells us nothing about the direction of this series. The only lessons to be learned so far come from the 4th quarter of Game 1 and the first 40.5 minutes of Game 2. In those 52.5 minutes of basketball, one team looked like they knew how to play defense, one team had offensive continuity, and only one team looked tough enough to win a title. And amazingly, that was the team that didn't have the benefit of having Kobe's DNA instilled in it.

  • Through the years, I have always revered Phil Jackson. Unfortunately, however, his post game performances after Games 1 & 2 have done a lot to tarnish my opinion of this great coach. Instead of acknowledging his team's faults, and instead of giving credit to the Celtics, especially Paul Pierce, he has chosen to belittle Pierce's injury (not his place to question the toughness of a grizzled and durable vet like Pierce when nobody on his team can come close to matching his toughness), intentionally mis-pronounce Leon Powe's last name (I'm an attorney, trust me, I can spot patronization when I see it), and blame the referees for his team's 2-0 deficit. Not exactly classy. Who would have thought Kobe would be the one to rub off on Jackson instead of the other way around? And, by the way, Doc Rivers is coaching Jackson's jock off through 2 games. And yes, I just read that sentence three times before I could believe I actually wrote it.

  • The officiating has been dubious, but it will be every bit as dubious in the Lakers' favor in L.A. That is life in the NBA playoffs. In fact, this is one of the two reasons why I'm not ready to bury the Lakers just yet. The other, of course, is Kobe. By the way, I think the Lakers and their fans should give Brent Barry a call and ask for permission to bitch about the officiating.

  • On a different note, how about that Braves bullpen???? Honestly, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

  • Speaking of the Braves, some of you might find it strange that I have yet to write anything about Smoltzie. As you may or may not know, Smoltzie is my favorite Brave of all time. Yes, even the great Dale Murphy takes a back seat to Smoltzie. Needless to say, last week's news was bitterly disappointing for me. If Smoltzie has pitched his last game, I will, at some point, share my thoughts and memories of his time on the hill in this space. To do so will take me far more time and energy than a typical entry, and I will gladly take on that task if the time comes. I, however, am not ready to do that just yet. For now, regardless of what the future holds, I'll just say "thank you, Smoltzie", and I will leave it at that.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

This is It...The Waiting Is Over...

First and foremost, you aren’t crazy, today’s title is lifted straight from a Kenny Loggins song. Given the fact that it was the song that blared as Michael Spinks entered the ring against Tyson before the most devastating 91 seconds in boxing history, it will always have a place on The WAD, and I don’t feel like less of a man for quoting Kenny Loggins. Not to mention, since we’ve been waiting what seems like months for this damn series to start, the lyrics seemed to fit. (This is where I was going to rant about having to wait over a week from the end of the conference finals for the Finals to start, but I’m trying to channel more positive energy these days, so suffice it to say, I think this delay was a little unnecessary. And, I won’t even mention the ridiculously outdated and pointless 2-3-2 setup. Okay, I mentioned it, but I’m not going to ramble on about how ridiculous it is that the Championship Series is played under a completely different set of rules than every other playoff series. Seriously, sometimes I’m ashamed David Stern and I went to the same law school. Then again, I’m sure he would feel the same way about me if he had a clue who I was. I’m a little depressed now, so I’ll just move on).

Now that I go that off my chest, let’s make sure we are clear about one more thing before we go any further: Larry Bird is not walking through that door…Kevin McHale is not walking through that door….Robert Parish is not walking through that door, and neither are Magic, Worthy, and Kareem for that matter. Don’t worry, though. We have plenty of star power in this series to keep your interest. Seriously, with Garnett, Allen, Pierce, Kobe, Gasol, Odom, and Phil Jackson, you have to go back to the Pippen, Jordan, Malone and Stockton wars to find this kind of star power in an NBA Finals. Let’s just hope we don’t have to watch a grown man choke on his own vomit in the last two minutes of every game this time around. Sorry, Mailman. Some memories are just hard to forget.

So, who is going to win this thing? Well, given the fact that Kobe Bryant is the best player on the planet right now, and he has apparently instilled his DNA in all his teammates, this should be easy, right? (While we are here, I should give a nod to Fite for so astutely pointing out this week that Kobe has as much business making statements about infusing DNA in others as he does claiming he felt violated in short shorts! Why do you make it so hard to like you, Kobe? Why?). Well, fortunately for us, this isn’t just as simple as handing the trophy to Kobe. Late last week, Shuman and Stats did a nice job debating the merits of this series in the comments section, so I won’t waste your time beating a dead horse. Suffice it to say, some folks are convinced that the 67 win team with three super, or impersonators of former superstars, with the crazed maniac roaming the middle, Jesus Shuttlesworth roaming the three point area, and everybody’s favorite Blood doing all the little things will parlay their two regular season wins over the Lakers, as well as their clutch post season wins in Games 5 & 7 against Atlanta, Games 5 & 7 against the LeBrons, and Games 3 & 6 against Detroit into the ultimate victory. On the other hand, others are convinced that the Lakers will continue to be the best team in the playoffs on the backs of the best player in the game and the best Coach of all time on their way to Phil’s 10th ring. I think it is safe to say that both sides have valid points. Vegas, however, thinks the Celtics backers are out of their mind as they have dubbed the Lakers a 2-1 favorite.

So, who has it right? Vegas and Shuman? Stats? Well, at the end of the day, I think you can dissect this series every which way possible, and it is always going to come back to the same thing. That is, I think one player is going to make the difference in this series. One player is going to finally shed all the labels, dispel all the doubters, and assert himself as one of the truly greats of our time. One player is going to hit clutch baskets at desperate times, play lock down defense on the other team’s best player, and forever cement his legacy as one of L.A.’s greatest basketball legends. Yes, one player from L.A. is going to enter this series a great player and leave a legend. That player? The kid that grew up in the shadow of the Great Western Forum in The Wood: Paul Pierce. That’s right, I said it. Paul Pierce is going to carry the Celtics to their 17th NBA Title.

Everybody talks about Kobe’s maniacal will to win and how he relishes the role of the “assassin”. Well, in Game 7 against the Hawks, Pierce led his team in points (22), and added 8 boards and 3 assists as he led the C’s to a route over my beloved Hawks. Then, in Game 7 against the LeBrons, all Pierce did was go toe to toe with Bron Bron and throw up 41 points. And then, in Game 6 against the Pistons, on the road in one of the most hostile environments in the Association, Pierce decided to go ahead and put Flip Saunders on the unemployment line with another team high 27 points and 8 boards while leading the C’s to a furious and somewhat stunning double digit comeback in about 2 minutes.

In simple terms, in the C’s three biggest games of what has been a magical season, Pierce has taken the reigns and willed his team to victory. Yet, somehow, nobody seems to use words like “assassin” or terms like “imposes his will” when talking about Pierce. Maybe it’s because he has toiled away on less than memorable Boston teams for the past decade, or maybe it’s because he’s the type of guy that is known to flash gang signs from time to time? Whatever the reason, Paul Pierce’s days of being under-appreciated are about to end. It would be a perfect fairy tale if he could lift the Finals MVP trophy in front of his family and hometown crowd after Game 5, but life isn’t always a fairy tale. Nope, he will have to wait until after Game 6 in the New Garden, but something tells me he won’t mind too much. That’s right, I’m taking the Celtics in 6. And, just in case you are wondering, I reserve the right to change my mind as soon as 24 hours from now.

One final note: Regardless of the outcome, this playoff season has truly been a re-birth of the NBA. I honestly can’t think of a game that wasn’t entertaining and/or compelling. And, based on TNT’s ratings, people have taken notice. As a guy who grew up loving the NBA, I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about this re-birth. Forget $4.20/gallon…forget the deplorable housing market…you can even forget that “Sex and the City” is the number 1 movie in America…The Lakers and Celtics are about to go toe to toe for the Larry O’Brien Trophy, so all is right in the world.

One really final note: Don’t faint, I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’m commenting on the NHL. Are you ready…here it is: Sidney Crosby is AWESOME. How do I know this? Well, it certainly isn’t because I know anything about hockey. Nope, I know this because I happened to watch the last 10 minutes of tonight’s Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and every time the puck touched Crosby’s stick, the entire Pittsburgh crowd audibly gasped! I’m not kidding. The incoherent screaming stopped, and the entire arena, all in one breadth, took a collective gasp of anticipation. This would be a much better story if he actually scored a goal after one of these moments, but still, you don’t cause an entire arena to simultaneously gasp unless you are AWESOME. (And, as a side note, that was 10 incredibly entertaining minutes, especially the last 1:25…Good times!).

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Things to do this summer

Here's something to pass the time while we wait on the WAD's NBA finals preview.

We've officially entered the time of year when entertainment options are few and far between. TV shows are in reruns. The only sport is baseball. It's 120 degrees in the shade. What's a grown man to do?

Now's a great time to get caught up on some low dollar entertainment options. Visit your local library, and while you're there check out some of these TV shows you might have missed. First is Oz. Get over your fear of full-frontal male nudity and get ready for one of the best shows ever. On the whole, I think it's better than the Sopranos (which, if you know me, says a lot). In fact, you can get the first season on DVD pretty cheap. If you live in the ATL, you can probably borrow it from Stats. Once you start, I guarantee you'll be hooked all the way through the end of season six.

Another semi-hidden gem is The Shield. Watch your friendly Commish become a badassss member of an elite LAPD unit. Personally, I love the show because the protagonist is an ass-kicking man who's all of 5'8". I can identify with that. I know some of you are fans of 24, and its puny leading man, but you've got to give The Shield a chance.

Of course The Wire is a not-so-hidden gem. Not much to be said here, other than the fact that the fourth season is now out on DVD, so it's a great time to get caught up.

If you want to learn something, check out the Planet Earth series. I can't tell you how great it looks on my 27" standard-definition TV. I particularly enjoy the last 10 minutes of each episode that shows how it was shot.

I'm always looking for new stuff to watch, so post any suggestions you've got.

Have a nice day.

Fite

Monday, June 02, 2008

Counting the Days Back to the Future

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about Celtics and Lakers. I can't remember the last time I was this excited about a sporting event that didn't involve one of my favorite teams. Honestly, you would think the Atlanta Dream was taking on the New York Liberty in a WNBA regular season game!....I'm sorry, I'm laughing at my own joke....still laughing...one more second...okay, I'm good. Seriously, I was in the midst of debating whether I whether I wanted to write about Smoltzie's return, the Braves' road ineptitude, Manny's 500th, Griff's 600th, Chipper's 400th, or how awesome "Iron Man" was (yes, saw it yesterday and loved it) when it totally ocurred to me that I'm just not capable of caring about anything other than the Finals right now. I know I should be better than this, but I'm not. Deal with it! At any rate, instead of half assing soemthing, I figured I would go ahead and start working on my insane NBA Finals Preview, which will be unveiled Thursday morning. In the meantime, I'm opening up the WAD to the Nation. If you have anything you would like to share with the rest of the gang, send it my way, and as long as it is not patently offensive (i.e. mentions "Sex and the City"), I will post it. And Fite, if you would like to share with the world what you are experiencing this week, I think that would just be fabulous.