Thursday, February 26, 2009

Links anyone?

I had every intention of breaking down the merits of the Celtics signing Steph, but since I won't actually believe Danny Ainge is going to pull the trigger until he squeezes off the round, I'm holding off for now. Plus, given the facts that: 1) I'm aware everyone is not as big an NBA fan as me; and 2) I dropped 3,000 words of NBA talk on Tuesday, I decided to spare you for now....sort of.

Over the past several weeks, I've dropped more than a few references to my ever growing bromance (can we all agree that "bromance" is an upgrade from "man crush"?) with GP and CWebb. As a result, based on emails and conversations with many of you, I've made an alarming discovery. Specifically, many of you don't get NBATV. In addition to the sympathy I feel because you aren't able to watch random interviews with Connie Hawkins at 6:45 p.m. on a Thursday (granted, I may need a hobby), I'm devastated that you have not been able to share in the emergence of the greatest television duo since Larry Appleton and Balki Bartokomous. (Yes, I just made a "Perfect Strangers" reference. That just happened.) In order to rectify this situation and hopefully bring some joy to your lives, I give you, in no particular order, seven of my favorite GP and CWebb moments, courtesy of NBATV and Youtube:

7) The Wigs

6) "You were probably hugging Kobe" - If you haven't seen the show before, this is probably the best clip to show the gang's all around game.

5) Rondoooooooooooooooooooo

4) Marriage advice to Nene

3) Who bought the popcorn?

2) Nash - this is actually more about Steve Nash than the Dynamic Duo, but it's high comedy and worth a view.

1) The Greatest Hits

All kidding aside, in addition to being hilarious, these guys are incredibly insightful and offer some of the best NBA commentary you can find, especially CWebb.


Before we call it a weekend, a little housekeeping:

  • This week's "Really" goes to Brian Austin Green. That's right, The BAG, better known as David Silver, called it quits with Megan Fox this week. Reports indicate the split was mutual, which suggests The BAG had some choice in the matter. Given the current state of his career and the fact that he is closer to 40 than 30, it makes perfect sense that he would want out of his relationship with a 22 year old bombshell...or not. Nice call, BAG.

  • I can't believe it's taken four weeks to do this, but this week's link is Bill Simmons' site. The reasons should be obvious.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Elites

It’s Tuesday night. You know what that means. That’s right, boys and girls, it’s GP and CWebb! Couple that with the fact that I still haven’t watched last night’s "24" or "House" and this is shaping up to be one hell of a television night. Oh, and the President has an hour reserved tonight to tell us how poor we are, or how poor we are going to be. Well, instead of focusing on things that aren’t really that important, let’s talk about something of real importance. I am, of course, referring to the NBA; specifically, the Atlanta Hawks...sort of.

I have to confess that this topic is not entirely a WAD original. I was driving into the office this morning and heard the guys on 790 The Zone talking Hawks. I, of course, was pumped to hear Atlanta’s Air Force getting some air time, but I didn’t necessarily agree with all the opinions I was hearing. Specifically, when discussing the Hawks recent "struggles" (I’m using quotes because, call me nuts, I’m not freaking because they’ve hit a few road bumps on a post All-Star break West Coast swing, but that’s for another day), the conversation turned to Joe Johnson.

Without rehashing the entire discussion, a fascinating question occurred to me during the course of the dialogue (I understand "fascinating" may mean something entirely different to you than it does to me): Assuming you don’t believe Joe Johnson can serve as the "go to" guy on a championship team, how many players in the Association can? In other words, if you removed Joe from the Hawks roster, how many players could you replace him with and immediately make the Hawks a championship contender? It’s important to remember that I’m not asking what players would make the Hawks better. I’m asking which players are good enough, by their mere presence, to catapult the Hawks from a middle of the pack Eastern Conference playoff team to a legitimate contender for the Larry O’Brien Trophy?

What’s the purpose of asking this question? Well, as I see it, it’s two fold: 1) I believe the analysis reveals that, no matter what happens with this Hawks season, Joe Johnson should not be a scapegoat. Listen, I’m not arguing that he is the kind of guy that can lead you to a ring without significant help. What I am arguing is that it’s unfair to criticize Joe for not being one of those guys, because, at the end of the day, only a small handful of those guys exists; and 2) I think this analysis, in a pretty direct way, reveals the truly elite players in the Association. In fact, that’s what we are going to call them: The Elites. So, now that we are 500 words deep, let’s finally get to the point! I give you "The Elites" broken down by conference and team.

Eastern Conference:

1) There are undisputedly no Elites on any of these teams:

New York

Philly

Toronto - Bosh is a very good player, but honestly, does he even make the Raptors better? Let me put it this way: you say "Chris Bosh", and I say "Shareef Abdur-Rahim"

Chicago - D. Rose has the potential to enter this category one day, but we need more of a portfolio to examine.

Detroit

Indiana

Milwaukee

Charlotte

Washington

New Jersey - if you were thinking Vince Carter, I'm going to have to insist you never return to this site. I'm sorry, but those are the rules. And, while I do think Mavs fans die a little inside every time they see a Devin Harris stat line and every time they see Jason Kidd do a very bad impersonation of a young and capable point guard, I think we can all agree that Devin Harris does not belong within earshot of this discussion, right?

2) You can make an argument for these guys, but you are going to lose.

Boston - a decade of history has revealed that the sum of the whole, when it comes to the Big 3, is much greater than that of the individuals. None of these guys, in their individual capacity would suddenly make the Hawks a championship contender. Don't believe me? Ask the Minnesota, Seattle, and Boston fans.

Orlando - Dwight Howard has a strong case, but until he logs crunch time minutes in May and June, we just can't be certain. And, frankly, his Olympic performance (his only time on the big stage) was troublesome. Finally, until we find out what went on in that phone booth for 45 seconds at the dunk contest, I don't think we can make any decisions.

3) Your Eastern Conference Elites.

LeBron & D. Wade - If we can't all agree on these guys, how are we ever going to correct this economy? My bad. I'm watching the President as I type this, and I got distracted. That being said, LeBron and D. Wade would get a standing ovation out of both the Democrats and the Republicans, right? While we're on the topic, is there anything more entertainingly awkward than the look on the faces of the members of the opposing party when they are deciding whether they need to join in the standing ovation? They kind of look around, and you can see the wheels turning..."On one hand, I don't want my constituents to think I'm going soft and supporting this guy. On the other hand, I really do think it's a good idea to feed starving babies. Ah hell, what is Minority Leader doing? What do I do? Somebody tell me what to do!" With the exception of Jennifer Aniston presenting an OSCAR five feet away from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, you will never see a more embattled look of discomfort and awkwardness. Good times.


Western Conference:

1) There are undisputedly no Elites on any of these teams.

Golden State

L.A. Clippers

Sacramento Kings

Houston Rockets (this was true even before T-Mac went down)

Memphis

Minnesota

Portland (Brandon Roy has potential to make this list, but he disappears for huge stretches of games, and if he is not scoring, he is not contributing).


2) You could make an argument for these guys, but you are going to lose.

Phoenix - It's fair to throw Nash in the mix since he is a two time MVP, but you simply CANNOT forget that he was the two time MVP on teams chalked full of talent (i.e. Amare and Marion), and they never reached Finals. Furthermore, he is no longer the same player he was just two years ago. He just turned 35, and he is on the backside of his career. Finally, when forced to play without Amare in Game 6 against the Spurs in the '07 conference semis, he didn't lead his team to victory. I'm not suggesting he should have, or that it was fair to expect him to. To be an Elite, however,we have to at least believe you could pull this off, and I don't know a soul who thought Nash could.

Dallas - Dirk has a decent argument, but not a convincing one. Three years ago, he would have probably made the list, but he has never been the same since he ran into the D. Wade/NBA ref. buzz saw in the '06 finals. Just ask the Golden State Warriors.

San Antonio - See Boston above. Five years ago, Duncan makes the list. Now, not so much. And, for the record, there is nothing wrong with the sum of the whole being greater than that of the parts. Unless you have one of the Elites, you have to count on it. In fact, 5 of the last 6 Champions are all glaring examples of this. The only exception, of course, is the D. Wade led Heat in '06.

Utah - I'm just not there with Deron Williams. And, I'm certainly not there with Carlos Boozer, and you shouldn't be either.


3) Your Western Conference Elites.

Kobe - I hope this is so obvious this doesn't need explanation.

Chris Paul - Put him on the Hawks and they are right in the mix with the Cavs and Celtics. Can you imagine Bibby as your sixth man? Granted, if we had Paul, we would have never traded for Bibby, but I'm imagining right now. Don't disturb me! Can you imagine Joe slashing and spotting up and Paul finding him. I can't continue to do this to myself. It's just not healthy.

Kevin Durant - If you don't believe me, you have to buy the NBA package and watch all his games. I can't stress to you enough that I think he is the third best player in this league. On some nights, he is better than that. 26.2 points/game; 6.6 boards/game; 3 assists/game; 48.5% from the floor; 43.4% from 3 point range; and 86% from the line. Are you kidding me? This guy can't even walk into a bar and buy a beer until September 29th! And, you know how you can watch some guys play and know that the only thing in the world they care about is winning? If you don't know, watch Durant. You will figure it out.


Chauncey Billups - Admittedly, it's probably a stretch to think Chaucey would put the Hawks in the mix with the Cavs and C's, but his history is compelling. He is one of the most clutch players of the past decade. He is one of the best defensive guards in the league. He led the Pistons to 6 straight conference finals. And, now that he has left Detroit, they have gone to hell and his new team is battling out with the western conference elite. In other words, big time winning seems to follow him. Why would Atlanta be any different?

Okay, that's it. At the end of the day, in my humble opinion, there are 6 Elites in the NBA. As always, I am more than willing to be convinced otherwise. Sure, Joe Johnson is not one of the, but that tells you nothing more than that they are in the same boat as 24 other teams in the NBA, and it just so happens that, in 5 of the last six years, the NBA Champion has come from that group of 24. The point? Don't hate on Joe Johnson. Get him a little more help in the offseason, and the sum of the whole might be enough. Can we make this happen? YES WE CAN!

  • Check back tomorrow night/Thursday morning for riveting commentary. Based off tonight's reports, I would imagine I'm going to have something to say about the Steph buyout/Celtics signing Steph story. Although it's been rumored for a while, I never actually thought it would happen, so I've never actually given any thought to whether it is actually as ridiculous as it sounds.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Working for the weekend

Before we take a look at the weekend ahead, we have to talk about the action that went down at the NBA trade deadline. Actually, I think it would be more appropriate to discuss the action that didn't go down at the deadline. If you happened to be one of the people closely monitoring ESPN.com's trade blog and saw the reports from Marc Stein at around noon today that the Cavs were talking to the Suns about Shaq, well, let's just say that it was pretty darn anti-climatic 45 minutes later when he reported there was no way the deal was going to happen. Sure, I was devastated that we weren't going to see Shaq and LeBron develop a heart warming bromance over the next several months, but I was more perplexed than devastated. Perplexed about what? Well, let's just say that I can't for the life of me understand how in the world the Cavs didn't find a way to turn Wally Szczerbiak's expiring contract into the Larry O'Brien Trophy!

Listen, I'm not going to bore with you a long and detailed analysis of why the Cavs had the opportunity of a lifetime here. All I'm going to say is that, even more than a star player, the most attractive thing to a possible trading partner is an expiring contract. And, when you have $13M worth of an expiring contract (I know, I can't believe Wally makes $13M/year), and you are almost a mortal lock to face the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals and probably the Lakers or Spurs in the Finals, AND you may only have one more shot after this season with LeBron, you HAVE to use that expiring contract to make yourself better. I understand the Cavs have great chemistry, and I understand they very well may be the best team in the league as they are, but can you really look me in the eye and tell me they couldn't have upgraded from Wally? The fact of the matter is that this should have never come down to the trade deadline. The Cavs have had nine months to find a way to deal Wally's expiring contract, and they just didn't get it done. If they come up short this summer, they have no one but Danny Ferry to blame. On the bright side, it's always fun to blame a Duke guy. Ferry, however, is not alone. Portland's inability to parlay Raef LaFrentz's $12.7 M into something positive was almost as negligent...almost!

Well, enough second guessing. I'm pretty sure Danny Ferry and Kevin Pritchard aren't going to lose any sleep over my opinion, so let's move on and talk about this weekend. In the sports abyss that is the time between the Super Bowl and March Madness, what can we find to pass the time this weekend? I'm glad you asked:

1) Lakers v. New Orleans - Friday @ 10:30 on ESPN

Possibly the most likeable young star in the League vs. the exact opposite. For the record, I've made it clear that I think Kobe is one of the all-time greats. But, if you watched last night's Lakers @ Warriors game, you saw the absolute worst of Kobe. He was selfish. He was surly. And, worst of all, he incessantly bitched at the refs. Honestly, no matter how great he is on the court, and he is phenomenal, do you honestly think anybody has ever enjoyed being his teammate? Hell, do you honestly think anybody other than his parents like him? I know, I'm being presumptuous. His Dad seems fairly normal, so he probably doesn't like him either.


2) UNC @ Maryland - Saturday @ 3:30 on ABC

Maryland must win. No two ways about that. UNC must avoid stumbling in the homestretch to preserve its #1 seed. Carolina should win this game going away, but strange things tend to happen in College Park when Gary and the Terps have their back to the wall. I remember this one trip to College Park back in '99....nevermind. Moving on...


3) Boston @ Phoenix - Sunday @ 2:30 on ABC

The C's are the defending champs and have re-assumed their position as the team everybody loves to beat. And, in case you haven't noticed, the Suns are scoring points faster than Lindsay Lohan smokes cigarettes. This is going to be fun. If the Suns win this one, we really have to start paying attention.


4) Wake @ Duke - Sunday @ 7:30 on FSN

Wake looked great against Tech last night. Then again, it was Tech. Duke ended their two game skid tonight in the Garden against St. John's. This is a nice old fashioned Tobacco Road battle against two teams that aren't good enough to make the Final Four. Don't tell their fans, though. Trust me, they won't listen. While we are here, let me ask a question. Do you think a single player on this year's Duke team would have cracked the top 7 on any single Duke team from 1990 - 2004? Obviously, I wouldn't be asking the question if I thought the answer was "yes". Don't you love it when you can make a point in the form of a question? Who doesn't love that. (Forgive me, I'm rambling. There are only 10 minutes left in the first half of the Celtics @ Jazz. You know what that means. Only 10 minutes until Chuck's halftime "analysis". Suffice it to say, I give Chuck an A+ on his return).


5) Idaho @ Reno - NBA D League, Sunday

Just kidding


6) The Oscars - Sunday @ 8:00 on ABC

Have we ever seen a bigger lock than Heath Ledger? Seriously, two points about the Oscars:

1) How did "Gran Torino" not receive any nominations? Clint Eastwood becoming a better man through his relationship with two young Hmong teenagers and ultimately sacrificing his life to protect them. Are you serious? How can you read that sentence and not think "15 Oscar nominations"? For the record, I really enjoyed "Gran Torino", but I didn't think it was a great movie. That being said, I'm stunned it received zero nominations. Isn't Clint worth at least a "best director" nod?

2) "Slumdog" is nominated for 10 Oscars. If it doesn't win at least 7, I will be angry. If it doesn't win "best picture", I'm demanding a full scale investigation. The only other defensible choice is "Frost/Nixon". But, hasn't the Republican Party suffered enough?


Finally, I feel like I have to say something about the Griffey debacle. Well, here it is: I wouldn't have been thrilled if the Braves had sealed the deal. I'm furious that they didn't. In other words, this was a no win proposition from the beginning. I'm a big fan of those. Keep the hits coming, Frank Wren. At this rate, you will succeed in your apparent quest to kill me in no time.

Oh, one last thing: the Link of the Week is Hoopshype. I didn't have time to find another link this week because I spent so much time on hoopshype studying every player's salaries and trying to figure out every possible trade we might see. And, I'm proud to say I totally called Skip to My Lou to Orlando. Okay, that's not true, but I did have a feeling the Magic wouldn't stand pat with Ty Lue running the point. Call it a hunch.

I hope you all have a great weekend. Check back early next week for life altering insight.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Here Comes Chuck

That's right, not only are we now less than an hour and a half away from the Hawks tipping off against the Lakers, we are only two days away from Charles Barkley's much anticipated return from exile. As much as I love GP and CWebb, Charles is the king of the NBA studio, and I can't wait for Thursday night. In honor of his return, I thought I would take a few minutes and give you 7 of my favorite Chuck moments from TNT's "Inside the NBA" courtesy of YouTube. Enjoy:

7) Chuckstradumas

6) "I'm a dumbass"

5) Poetry in motion (skip to the 1:30 mark)

4) Hold your breath

3) Heads up, Chuck

2) Rodeo

1) Peanut Butter Jelly Time (my all time favorite)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Monday Night Musings

  • All Star Weekend was fantastic. Sure, the game wasn't a classic, but it was entertaining. The whole Shaq/Kobe dynamic certainly made things interesting. Granted, I'd give off more sincerity telling a UGA fan I hope they win a national title than these guys give off pretending they actually get along, but it makes for good theater. That being said, the two best moments of the weekend had nothing to do with Shaq or Kobe, nor did they have anything to do with the game. Here they are in order of awesomeness (yes, I just said "awesomeness"):

2) KG killing Sags

1) GP, CWebb, and Kenny breaking it down

In truth, GP telling Kenny and CWebb that he bought Kobe flowers and candy before Kobe got busy was probably the greatest moment in television history, but I can't find a video clip so you'll have to take my word for it. I wish I could tell you how much joy GP and CWebb have brought to my life this season, but any attempt to do so couldn't possibly do it justice. Suffice it to say that I will start a full blown riot if NBATv and/or TNT don't give these guys as much money as necessary to keep them on the air after this season.

  • Word on the street is the Braves are on the cusp of signing Griff, Jr. I'm not only excited about this because he is probably my favorite baseball player of all time, but I'm also on the verge of getting my hands on a flux capacitor for my DeLorean so I can travel back in time when this move would have mattered. Honestly, things are so bad with the Braves that I feel like they are personally mocking me by signing Jr. It's like they said, "how can we make this guy more miserable with the state of our organization? Oh, I know. Let's go out and sign his favorite player so he can watch him hobble around center field like Willy Mays for the Mets. He'll love that!" I need a drink. What? I've already got one. Okay, moving on...

  • It's not exactly the re-birth of Television Tuesday, but the time has come to break down Season 7 of "24" WAD style. You know what that means: 7 burning questions that must be answered now:

7) What happened to the whole real-time concept?

There was a time when everything on "24" happened in real time. Granted, cell phones had endless battery supplies and could receive and display the schematics of high rise buildings on 2 inch screens, but at least things went down in real time! Now, the "First Gentlemen" gets shot at the end of one episode and the paramedics are arriving as the next episode starts. In other words, I'm supposed to believe the D.C. police and paramedics have a less than 1 minute response time? Don't get me wrong, the "timing" issue isn't preventing me from loving this season, but it's worth mentioning. I mean, I'm not used to "24" making me believe in the impossible. It's just a new experience.

6) The "First Gentleman", really?

My buddy Tim emailed me about this a few weeks ago. Is this really what we would call a female President's husband? Are you telling me that if Hilliary had become President we would have had to refer to President Clinton as a "Gentleman." Just when I thought nothing could be more ridiculous than a less than 60 second response time for the D.C. police! Seriously, can we just agree that if we ever have a female President that we can call her husband the First Dude? That's dignified, right?

5) In a fight between Chloe and Janis, who wins?

There is no way to know the answer to this question, but if there is anyway we can arrange for Janeane Garofalo to catch a fictional beating at Chloe's hands, well...I'm just saying.

4) Is Marika the new Kim Bauer?

You remember in the first couple of seasons how Kim almost killed the show with her ridiculous whining and unbelievable decision making? You remember how she would always be posed with two options, one of which was clearly the smart decision and the other was so obviously wrong that no rational human being would ever make that decision? She, of course, would always choose the latter. Well, let's just say that when a man you've been dating for a few months comes to you in a panic and tells you that he is taking you out of the country immediately and you ask no questions and just go home and pack, you have officially reached Kim Bauer status.

3) Aaron Pierce is back!!!

Okay, that's not a question, but who isn't excited about this? When the chips are down, I want Aaron Pierce watching my back. In case you didn't know, the actor that plays Agent Pierce is the same guy that plays Landry's dad on "Friday Night Lights". In other words, he is one of my favorite characters on two of my favorite shows, and I have absolutely no idea what his name is. I'm sure he would be thrilled to hear that.

2) Was there ever a doubt that Wally Balls was a sleaze bag?

It just so happens Billy Walsh was my least favorite character in "Entourage" history, and Sean Hillinger is quickly becoming one of my least favorite characters in "24" history. And you guessed it, I actually know this guy's name: Rhys Coiro. What does that say about me as a person?

1) Where the hell is Tony Almeida?

Listen, nobody is happier than me that Tony went all Lazarus on us, but I can't help but wonder what the hell he is doing now. Given his situation, it seems to me that he should either be out helping with whole catch the terrorist thing, or he should be doing everything he can to get out of Dodge. Yet, it appears he is just chilling back at the safe house watching Oprah. Not that I know that Oprah comes on at 4 p.m. Don't even think about judging me!


  • Finally, thanks to Stats who set up this page on Facebook: AtlantaWAD Group Page. Many thanks to those of you that have already joined, and thanks in advance to those of you that join in the future. We will use this page to do some more interaction and to organize some more events, fantasy leagues, etc... It's should be a really functional tool that allows us to expand the reader base and make The WAD more fun and interactive for everyone. One of these days I'm going to write at length about Facebook. For now, I will just say it's been one of the most surprisingly entertaining things I've stumbled across in a long time.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Atlanta's Air Force

I've been very excited about writing this column for quite some time. I've carefully calculated its timing to coincide with the NBA All-Star Break because, well, I figure this is the best chance I have of any of you caring about the NBA. I have been worried all day that I wouldn't be able to write this because I'm saddled with the worst head cold of my adult life. But, fear not. I've loaded up on mashed potatoes from KFC and some hot and sour soup from Hong Li (yes, I understand that is a bizarre combination, but what can I say? I have multi-cultural cravings when I'm sick), and I'm ready to talk Atlanta Hawks. And, for the record, if you just let out a big moan and said, "I'm so sick of this guy talking about the NBA", I can assure you of two things: 1) you are not alone; and 2) I don't think we can be friends anymore.

In case you haven't noticed, and based on the attendance, you haven't (thanks, Bob Uecker), your Atlanta Hawks are 32-21 and sitting firmly as the 4 seed in the Eastern Conference headed into the All-Star Break. Before I kill Atlanta fans too much, I will say in all fairness that there have been some great crowds this season, and there has been a noticeable vibe around the Hawks this year. Granted, that vibe is coming in at around a 4, but it is better than the 1 in past years. That being said, why isn't the vibe at an 8? I can't tell you how many people I spoke with after last year's playoffs that said, "this was great, but I won't really get excited unless they build on this net year." Well, guess what! They have built on it, and they continue to build on it! I've never been anything but honest with you, so please believe me when I say that the Atlanta Hawks are a legit threat in the Eastern Conference. No, they aren't the favorites. They probably aren't in the same league as the Cavs and C's, but they weren't in the same league as the C's last year and they took them 7 games. In other words, anything is possible with this team, so stop thinking about and just go ahead and jump on the bandwagon. Trust me, you won't regret it.

Enough with the pep-rally. Let's talk about why this team is excelling. One word comes to mind - patience. When things were looking average at best, the Hawks didn't panic and fire Mike Woodson, and they didn't cut ties with Marvin Williams because he isn't Chris Paul. Instead, they stuck with Woodson who has transformed this into an up tempo, high intensity, defensive minded organization. Notice I said organization and not team. There is a difference. And, trust me, you would rather root for an organization than a team. As for Marvin, the organization stuck with him and continued to develop his strengths and never, at least publicly, pined for Chris Paul. Now, as a result, and as a result of Marvin's own work ethic, he is a big time contributor for a team poised to make the leap and he has a long and prosperous career ahead of him.

Now, for a moment of intellectual honesty, I do have to admit that some of the foregoing was possible because of some strange and twisted luck. The fact that nobody really knows who owns the Hawks has made it easier to justify not cutting ties with Woodson and Marvin along the way. And, the fact that very few people in this city actually care about the Hawks hasn't hurt either. But still, whether it is completely deserved or not, you have to give the organization credit. In this case, I use the term "organization" because I'm not really sure who deserves the credit.

To continue with the honesty, to some how claim that Coach Woodson and Marvin deserve all the credit would not only be dishonest, it would be ridiculous. This team is full of guys make huge contributions. Al Horford's scoring hasn't taken off like I expected, but he is as good a team defender in the low post as there is in the League right now. I don't even know what to say about the contributions Flip Murray has made. To be really honest, I didn't know who Flip Murray was until he joined the Air Force. And, Josh Smith is equal parts electrifying and infuriating. He averages 15.7 and 7.6 a night, and I can't help but think he should be a 22 and 12 guy, but not a game goes by where he doesn't make at least one play that completely changes the momentum of the game. For now, I'm okay with that.

At the end of the day, however, the fortunes of this team rise and fall with the backcourt of Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby, which happens to be one of the elite backcourts in all of basketball. I've always been a huge Bibby fan, even back in his days at Arizona. When this guy is feeling it, he's one of the best deep threats in the game. And, even when he's not stroking the 3, he is consistently intense on D, although he's not a great pick and roll defender, and he plays the role of floor general with confidence and....patience. As for JJ, what can you say about this guy? As if 22 points, 4.5 boards, and 6 assists a game wasn't enough, JJ loves the big moment and can create his own shot in crunch time with the best of 'em. Every contender needs that one guy they can count on to close the deal or save the day. JJ is that guy for the Hawks. And, the great thing is that if something were to happen to JJ, Bibby can also serve that role.

Don't worry, I'm not about to tell you the Hawks are going to win the Eastern Conference. I am, however, going to tell you that the Hawks are going to have a serious impact on what is shaping up to be the most exciting NBA Playoffs of the decade. If that's not enough to get your attention, I guess nothing will. Your loss.

Really?

It was a heated competition for this week's "Really", but after much deliberation, I have to give it to A-Rod. Let me be clear, though. I am not giving it to A-Rod because he did steroids. I am giving it to him because he had the nerve to tell Peter Gammons, at the time, Peter, I wasn't even being truthful with myself. How am I going to be truthful with Katie or CBS?" I've heard a lot of ridiculous crap in my life, but this ranks right up there. Congratulations, A-Rod. Sadly, I have no doubt you are very proud of yourself.

Link of The Week

I love the B.S. Report with Bill Simmons. And, I really love the days he has his buddy, JackO, as a guest. The world will be a better place with more JackO, so go show your support here:

Oooooooooooooh, Johny!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Monday Night Musings

Before turning my attention to President Obama's first prime time news conference, I figured I would take a few moments and let you know what's on my mind as we start a new week:

  • Stats sent me a text this evening that simply said "A-Roid". Pretty funny. As you all know, I am more than a little tired of all the steroid talk, but I couldn't let this belt high fastball pass me by. Am I surprised? Absolutely not. Am I sad? Uh, no. Am I happy? Surprisingly, not really. You know, it's pretty unbelievable that my three least favorite athletes ever, the pitcher whose name I swore would never appear here again, the left fielder with the enormous head whose name I swore would never appear here again, and A-Rod have now been destroyed by the steroid era, and I can't seem to take any pleasure in it. Trust me, it's not because I have any sympathy for them. It's not because, like some people, I believe they are victims of a twisted media witch hunt. It's not even because I'm a decent human being. Unfortunately, it's because I just really don't care about any of this anymore. In fact, sadly, I'm not sure if I even care about baseball anymore. Consider this for a moment: my favorite team apparently has ceased to care about winning; most of the greatest players of the past 15 years have either been proven to be cheaters or are highly suspected of being cheaters; my favorite player of all time, Griff Jr., stopped being relevant long ago; my favorite current player, Manny, can't find a job; and Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are still Fox's number 1 announcing team. In short, as much as I hate it, as our nation stumbles through some of the most troubling times of our lives, everything about our national pastime stinks worse than 9 acres of garlic. Bad times.

  • I did watch A-Rod's interview with Gammons, and all I have to say is that I have spent more than my fair share of time with people that left me with a strong desire to immediately take a shower. Let's just say that I'm pretty sure Peter Gammons felt the same way when he completed that interview. Here were some of my favorite quotes:

"I was stupid for three years. I was very, very stupid" (No argument here)

"The more honest we can all be, the quicker we can get baseball to where it needs to be." (I'm so glad A-Rod is going to be baseball's savior)

"The point of the matter was that I started experimenting with things that today are not legal or today are not accepted and today you would get in a lot of trouble for." (Okay...)

"And to be quite honest, I don't know exactly what substance I was guilty of using." (Wait a minute, if you don't know what you were taking, how do you know what you started experimenting with? I'm not following you, A-Rod.)

"I've played the best baseball of my career since..." (I know a few Yankees fans that would take umbrage with that comment)

"I've won two MVPs since and I've never felt better in my career. Of that I'm very proud of." (I'm sure you are. I hear Raffi Palmeiro is very proud of his 3,000 career hits)

"There were a lot of people doing a lot of things..." (My God, other people were using steroids! Thanks for the revelation.)

"When you take this gorilla and this monkey off your back, you realize that honesty is the only way..." (I'm so proud of you for voluntarily coming forward and not lying about not using steroids on national television or anything like that...oh, wait. My bad.)

"I'm finally beginning to grow up. I'm pretty tired of being stupid and selfish, you know, about myself. The truth needed to come out a long time ago. I'm glad it's coming out today." (I agree you need to grow up and that you are stupid and selfish. I'm glad we are on the same page)

And, my favorite, when attempting to justify his nationally televised lie to Katie Couric back in '07:

"at the time, Peter, I wasn't even being truthful with myself. How am I going to be truthful with Katie or CBS?" (This is really good. Next time you speak with President Clinton, tell him I said hello.)

So, let's see. In one interview, A-Rod admits he took a banned substance. He initially appears to take responsibility for his actions. Then, he goes out of his way to paint himself as a sympathetic and naive figure whose nationally televised lie was forgivable and understandable. If that's not enough, he goes as far as proclaim that his "confession" has set him free and will set baseball free. Oh, and he apparently thinks casting a cloud of suspicion over all players ("There were a lot of people doing a lot of things...") is going to help set baseball free. And, finally, let's not forget that he took time to attack and disparage the SI reporter and went as far as to allege that she stalked him.

My God, now I feel like I need a shower. Here's the cold hard truth: A-Rod has always been a self involved narcissist that cared more about himself and his public perception than anything else. The only thing that's changed is that he just got caught in a monumental lie. You know what liars do when they get caught? They try to paint themselves as victims while pointing to the behavior of others to justify their own sleaziness. So, why haven't the aforementioned pitcher and guy with the enormous head gone this route yet? Well, in their twisted minds, they don't think they've been caught yet. If nothing else, I guess we can give A-Rod credit for being smarter than those two guys. That's something, I guess.

  • The GRAMMY'S were broadcast Sunday night on CBS. Much to my dismay, Verne Lundquist and Todd Blackledge didn't appear to present Tim Tebow with the "Greatest Human Being To Ever Walk The Earth" award, but there were some highlights:

  • Say what you will about Coldplay, but you have to admit these guys put on one hell of a show. They took the stage shortly after U-2, and I think they were every bit as strong as Bono and Co. (Yes, I am perfectly aware of the heckling headed my way);

  • Carrie Underwood may be the perfect woman;

  • Jennifer Hudson's voice and courage are awe inspiring;

  • Nobody, in the history of bodies, has ever looked more uncomfortable than Alison Krauss every time Robert Plant hugged her. At this point, I would pay a completely irresponsible amount of money to see any video of the two of them during their recording sessions. God knows what medications she had to take to keep her sanity during those sessions. Actually, based on her looks last night, I'm not sure she did keep her sanity;

  • J.T. and T.I. had the performance of the night, hands down! It's a shame they can't embark on the Alphabet Soup Tour because of that whole T.I. going to jail thing.

One final point before signing off, in this week's race for the "Really" award, Jamal Anderson has a slight lead on A-Rod. I'm willing to be convinced to go the other way, but for now, he's in the lead. Although, as I continue to listen to President Obama speak, I'm thinking he might have a shot. (Just kidding. Remember, no politics on The WAD).

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Week to Remember

As I begin writing this, the C's are up 1 on the Lake Show at the half in what is shaping up to be a fantastic game, which brings me to this: I can handle just about anything. I can handle the misery that comes with losing 4 World Series. Lose to your bitter rival 7 years in a row? No problem. Drop $4.99 to endure the two hours of misery that is "Leatherheads"? Been there, done that, and made it through. What I simply can't handle, however, is people telling me that the NBA is not fun to watch. Yes, even as recent as five years ago, I might have agreed, but we now live in what could be a golden age for the Association.

Three Hall of Famers have selflessly gathered in Boston to resurrect a dynasty (granted, one of them, by all observable signs, is clinically insane). The force that is Kobe Bryant is in the midst of his prime. One of the great rivalries in all of sports is raging again. A 24 year old from Akron may just be the best player to ever lace them up. D. Wade, D. Rose, and D. Howard are confirming what we all knew, everybody loves the D! And, if that's not enough, Gary Payton and CWebb have completely revolutionized television. My God, people! What more could you ask for? Well, I'm glad you asked.

Before this week, my two favorite individual sporting performances of all time were MJ's Game 1 against the Blazers in the '92 Finals and MJ's double nickle at the Garden days into his '95 comeback. I still remember where I was when I watched both games, and I still have both games on VHS. I, of course, don't have any way to watch them, but that's not the point. The point is that I honestly never thought any single performance would measure up to those two signature MJ performances. Well, neither Kobe's nor LeBron's Garden coronations individually measure up in my mind, but the combination of the two within days of each other ranks right up there. I mean, in the words of Verne Lundquist, "have you ever in your life" seen one superstar throw down a challenge only to have another superstar rise to the occasion in historic fashion like Kobe and LeBron did this week? I have not.

At the end of the day, the greatest thing about sports is that from time to time it provides us with moments that allow us to forget the problems and realities of the world not only for the time the action is taking place, but also for the countless hours we spend discussing and rehashing those memories for the rest of our life. Well, between the 4th quarter of 43, Kobe's 61, and LeBron's "50 double" (I just made that up, and I kind of like it), I defy you to find a single week that has ever provided us with more of these moments.

Okay, my waxing poetic complete, here are some random thoughts to close this great week:

  • What is the exact opposite of the type of moment I just described? I'm not positive, but I think Lane Kiffin might know the answer. Listen, nobody dislikes Urban Meyer more than me, but really? In fact, it is a close call, but Kiffin has narrowly edged Michael Phelps for the first winner of The WAD's newest gimmick, the "Really" award. I think the criteria is pretty self explanatory.

  • Oh God, TNT just showed McHale's clothesline on Rambis. I hate the Celtics and Lakers, but I freaking love Celtics vs. Lakers. In case you weren't sure, I love the NBA.

  • Finally, for The WAD's newest gimmick (that was a short lived reign for the "Really" award), here is The WAD link of the week: Club Trillion. I was turned on to this site by The B.S. Report, and I've been a loyal fan ever sense. Admittedly, I'm still not certain that this kid is not my good friend, KP, who also enjoyed an illustrious career as a D-1 walkon. Honestly, some of these stories, especially "Love in an Elevator" could have just as easily come from our college days. In other words, I feel a little like Al Bundy when I read this blog, but I think everybody will love it. It is well written, insightful, and most of all, hilarious. Enjoy.

As I finish writing this, the Lakers and Celtics just tipped in overtime. It just doesn't get any better than this. Well, except for maybe LeBron v. Kobe this Sunday. I can't wait to find out.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Dish on 43 With a Little Side of Crow

The most intimidating thing about putting your opinions out for public consumption is that something may happen to prove you completely wrong. The only way you can get past that intimidation is to accept the fact that you won't always be right, and when that happens, you have to be willing to admit it and face the music. That being said, I was completely wrong about Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday. Now, before you get too excited, I'm not backing off my position that he is not an elite quarterback or that he has not been much better than average to this point in his career. I'm a numbers guy, and it is impossible for me to ignore the empirical proof that resides in the stats. And based on the stats, I'm comfortable with my position. What I was wrong about, however, was my belief that Big Ben would crap the bed again on Sunday. You don't need me to tell you this, but I was dead wrong about that.

What Roethlisberger did in the waning minutes on Sunday was nothing short of spectacular. Very few men have ever had the opportunity to lead their team on a game winning drive on the world's biggest stage. Even fewer have succeeded in this more than daunting task. Not only did Roethlisberger succeed, he did so in spectacular fashion. Forget about everything he has or hasn't done in his career prior to that final drive, in the course of that drive Roethlisberger stood side by side with Namath, Montana, Elway, Brady, and Eli. Nobody has ever stood taller, and there is simply no way to deny that. One day, if I have a son, I will tell him the story of the greatest 4th quarter in Super Bowl history, and I will have no choice but to tell him how Roethlisberger evaded defender after defender as he marched his team down the field and ultimately found Santonio Holmes tucked in the back right hand corner of the endzone for a touchdown that almost made Al Michaels' head explode. I just won't be able to avoid it. And, you know, I'm okay with that.

With that out of the way, here are some more random thoughts from 43, the world of sports, and yes, "24":

  • I don't want to appear like I'm attempting to minimize the greatness that was 43, and that is honestly not my intent, but I have to say this: the officiating was abysmal. The examples are too numerous to recount, but I will try:

1) It is apparently legal to shove would be tacklers in the back when a linebacker is barreling 100 yards at the end of a half;

2) that same linebacker apparently doesn't have to cross the goal line before his elbows and arms hit the ground in order to score a touchdown;

3) I don't even know what to say about the Dansby late hit;

4) apparently, it is okay if the nose of the ball hits the ground when Larry Fitzgerald catches a fade pass in the endzone (this was actually Tomlin's fault for not throwing the red flag); and

5) I still can't rationally discuss the absurdity of the last play, but I will try. I saw with my own eyes, in real time, that Warner didn't have an empty hand when his arm went forward. And, amazingly, that didn't change in the subsequent 200 times I've seen the replay. Everybody I know saw the same thing. Seriously, I've talked to dozens of friends, co-workers, and homeless guys that all saw the play and all know it wasn't a fumble. So, I have to ask: why wasn't it reviewed? And yes, I know Al Michaels claimed it was reviewed, but I simply can't believe that for two reasons: 1) After Holmes' catch, we had to wait no less than 6 minutes for confirmation of what was clearly a catch, but the Steelers took the snap and took a knee in less than 90 seconds from the time of the "fumble." Really? We spent less than 30 seconds reviewing the most important play of the season? 2) If that play was reviewed, it would have been reversed, right? If not, replay is officially a broken system, right? I know, I know...I will move on.

  • One last officiating related point: While I loved Michaels' excitement in the 4th quarter Sunday, I really thought he and Madden put in a disappointing performance. Listen, these are two of the all time greats, there is no doubt about it. If we built a Washington D.C. for sports announcers, Michaels would probably have a huge phallic symbol in the center of town bearing his name and Madden would likely have a monument of him sitting in a huge chair eating a turkey. That being said, they never pointed out the multiple clips on the touchdown run at the end of the first half, they didn't even point out that Tomlin should have challenged LF's first touchdown, and they didn't even acknowledge how shaky the ending was. Suffice it to say, if Michaels had the Cardinals on the money line, he would have been raising hell about the last play. I'm just saying that I may know a guy that was in that position. At the end of the day, these guys get a pass based on their prior greatness, but I'm putting them on notice that I expect more from them. Do you hear me Al and John?

  • In non-Super Bowl related news, rumor has it that UGA is looking for a Knight to ride in and save their dying basketball program. I've got to tell you, I think they are out of their mind for not having already hired him. Listen, I'm no Knight fan. I have many reasons, none of which really matter. The only thing that should be relevant to UGA is this: if they ever want to compete at the highest level of college basketball, they absolutely, indisputably, and without question must build a new basketball arena. Sure, there are many other things that need to happen, but nothing else really matters until they build a new arena. I don't know much, but I do know this. And, to that end, what better way to make that happen in short order than to bring in arguably the most recognized figure in basketball history? If I'm Damon Evans, UGA's AD, I give Knight all the money he wants and a five year contract. I make it clear to him that his job is to run a clean program, produce a team that doesn't embarass itself, and raise money for a new arena. Not in that order. I also make it clear that he has five years to raise the money and get the building under construction, and I make it clear that he will not coach at UGA for more than five years. At the end of five years, he can choose his successor, and the building will bear his name. End of story, done deal. If Knight isn't willing to make raising money for the building his top priority, he's a bad hire for UGA. He may bring you short term success, but there is no way you can have long term sustainability without a new building. I think I've made my point, so I'll move on.

  • Michael Phelps...really? That being said, Santonio Holmes had his own weed issues not too long ago, and now he is the Super Bowl MVP. Combine that with Phelps' gold medals, and this would be a perfect time for a combined Sports Illustrated/High Times edition.

  • I just want to be clear, regardless of whether I write every day from here until eternity, you will never again see the names Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds in this space. I'm so tired of these stories that I just don't want to waste your time or mine discussing it.

  • The fact that the Braves aren't throwing money at Manny Ramirez makes me angry, depressed, and confused...and, I'm sober. Forget for a moment that he is the most exciting hitter I've ever seen, is there anyone among you that wouldn't go see the Braves at least once just because Manny was hitting cleanup and staggering around left field? I don't want to be over dramatic about this, but, in my mind, the Braves disinterest in Manny pretty much signals their disinterest in winning. Not good times.

  • For all of you that have seen "Slumdog Millionaire", I would love to hear your thoughts. I will tell you that I think it has to be the best screenplay since "Goodwill Hunting", and I honestly think my life is better now that I've seen the movie. How's that for a ringing endorsement?

  • Finally, Jack is back and "24" is shedding the stink that was Season 6. I had planned on writing some witty and insightful commentary on the first seven episodes, but frankly, I'm tired. Suffice it to say, I'm loving this season, and I'm loving the resurrection of Tony, even though I'm still not convinced he's going to be playing for the good guys for the duration. More on this in the weeks to come...