Thursday, February 5, 2009

Weeping & Wailing and The Nashing of Teams

A lot of news floating around the NBA today; let's start with the most enjoyable:

  • Dreams really do come true. David Stern again selects Ray Allen as the injury replacement for the East All-Stars. That giant howling sound you just heard coming from Ohio wasn't an arctic wind, it was the groan of 2 million Cavalier fans over the déjà-snüb of their beloved Mo Williams. I won't lie: I was praying, literally praying, that this would happen. Why? Because delusion is fun, and tortured fans are priceless humour. So let the tears flow and the belly-achers blow.

    I'm basking in the comments over on ESPN; here's my favourite:
    St.Rufus IV
    And if you think Lebron is the only guy on the Cavs...I will give you Exibit A, which is the most recent West coast trip...Mo averaged over 30 for those 7 games.

    Hmmm. Seven-game roadtrip? Does that include some NBA Cares games against local girl-scout troupes? And 30? What, points? Perhaps he meant minutes? For the record, the Cavs haven't had a roadtrip longer than 4 games all season, and Mo hasn't even sniffed 30 ppg over any 7-game stretch all year. In fact, he's only topped 30 points twice this season; it's kinda hard to average a total you don't even reach. On their recent four-game West trip, he did manage to average a nice, respectable 22.

    But you know by now, Cleveland gots dat new math goings on over there. I knew I smelled delusion when I saw that comment, I had to go look it up. Nice lie nice try Rufus.

    Hey Cavs, don't blame Stern, blame LeBron for taking all those shots away from Mo the other night versus the Knicks. 9 points on 3-12 shooting with 2 assists in the world's greatest arena is an All-Star? Folks, no one wants to risk seeing that kind of performance in Phoenix. Certainly not grand-chancellor Dave.

  • Phoenix has begun accepting trade offers for Amare Stoudemire and any other player not born in Canada. Which begs the question: since when did 35-year old matadors become untouchable cogs for building a team based on defense? Granted, I don't think they should part with Nash either. I just like pointing out how hapless the Steve Kerr reign in Arizona has been.

  • Elton Brand's shoulder will likely need surgery, which ends his 2008-09 campaign. That's tuff on the brother, but on the bright side, we can now ink the 76ers for a playoff spot and Andre Iguodala for a few more player-of-the-week votes.

  • The Magics and Bucks swapped backup guards, sending Tyronn Lue to play alongside Superman-II. As long as Mikael Pietrus stays healthy, they won't miss Keith Bogans too much. And as long as Lue can keep shooting 46% from behind the arc, this is a real good look for the Magics. Is there another (available) player around the league who is any more like Jameer Nelson than Lue? Talk about sticking with your formula. If it ain't broke...

    The Bucks of course needed to fill minutes lost due to the injured Michael Redd, and Keith Bogans can...blah blah blah blah blaaah. My apologies Buck fans, I don't mean to be rude; maybe I should be more interested in who earns the right to get beat up by the Celtics/Magic/Cavawailers in the first round, but right now my ADD is kicking in.
  • Monday, February 2, 2009

    The Catch III? Or is it IV?

    I can't remember when last a single play completely changed my feelings about an entire game. Up until that last drive and the great catch, this was a slightly annoying, somewhat unsatisfying game. There were officiating calls that, regardless of your leanings, had to make you cringe, a few bungled plays here and there, interspersed in a handful of tremendous plays. That play to end the first half was one for the books. To follow that lineup up the sideline with his convoy the kinda suspenseful fun you had to enjoy. Unless you were wearing red that day of course.

    But Holmes' catch was indescribably sensational. Actually, Big Ben's pass was equally incredible. A perfectly-placed pass, a perfectly-caught ball, perfectly-placed feet. That was pure art.

    Honestly, after Holmes came down with the ball, I jumped up and yelled at the top of my lungs. I'm pretty certain my very significant other was either embarrassed or shocked -- in that "who is this crazy person I let drive me around?" sense -- probably a little of both. I couldn't help it. I always loved the wide receiver position; that was the part of the game I liked most and the position I always wanted to play as a kid. Anytime I see a great play by a receiver, it just means that much more to me. And this...was...tremendous.

    Every time they showed the replay after that, I was back to yelling: "ohhhhhh!" I think I wanted to jump thru the screen and give Holmes a pound myself. I haven't even dialed it up on youtube yet, for fear that I may bust out yelling here in the office.

    Of course, I've seen dozens of tippy-toes catches over the years. I've loved every one of them. But I can't remember any that were at a bigger stage of a game. Man!

    That got me to remembering one of my all-time favourite NFL-catches; actually, this may probably is my all-time favourite:

    * Terrell Owens vs. Green Bay, 1998
    I remember it like it was yesterday. Green Bay beating my beloved 49ers in the playoffs had become an annual ritual. Literally. I braved the beginnings of the New York blizzard of '96 to watch the game, only to have it get out of hand before I even got in front of a TV. The 1997 rematch was a beatdown so identical I had to make sure my VCR wasn't on.

    And here we were again, one last, desperate, no-hope play until the clock ran out on yet another season, yet again at the hands of the Packers. Sitting on my futon couch, I leaned all the way back, put my feet up to simulate an upright fetal position, and sulked. The joy of 1995 was now about as far away a memory as breast-feeding. "Why the hell can't we beat these cheese-eating mofos?" I thought to myself as they lined up on scrimmage. The ball is snapped, and after a couple steps, quarterback Steve Young stumbles while dropping back from center. My eyes roll; sure, let's just do away with even the mere formality of a hopeless hail-mary. But Steve catches himself, keeps his feet under him, and continues to drop into the pocket. A quick bounce at the end of his drop, and he steps forward to sling the desperation pass. Ho hum. The camera pans to the end zone, and the ball disappears between two Green Bay defensive backs, who crack the red jersey in between them simultaneously. A 49er falls to the endzone turf and starts rolling around, while three Packers pace about bewildered. As was I: "wait, what's going on?" Just then, an official runs into view, with two arms raised high above his head. Wait; touchdown? Touchdown??? He caught it, he caught it! I leaped up off the coach and blared out. Oh shit! He caught it!

    De-Ja-Oh-No Not Again!

    Lakers' Bynum to miss 8-12 weeks with MCL tear

    Wow. The similarities are eerily endless. I'm sure you've heard them already. Colliding with a teammate in a loose-ball situation. Playing against Memphis on January 13th; playing in Memphis on January 31st. A knee injury halting 6 straight high-quality performances (3 double-doubles, 3 games with 9 boards); a knee injury after 5 scintillating, All-Star-caliber double-doubles. I suppose the only thing different about the two injuries is that G.W. Bush is no longer in office.

    Really and truly, my heart sunk for this kid when I originally heard of and saw the play that injured him. Then it sunk again when I heard the MRI results today. Bynum, if you couldn't tell by now, is one of my favourite young ballers. During his rookie year I declared on one sports forum that the kid will one day be a beast; my opinion was summarily dissed, laughed at, and beat upon. I got counter-declarations of future beasts for everyone from Gred Oden to Hakeem Warrick to -- gasp -- Eddy Curry. Two years later, those very same guys were themselves posting about how good Bynum had become, with one in particular never failing to copyright me anytime he used 'Bynum' and 'beast' in the same sentence. In short, I'm a big fan.

    I'm going to have to placate myself by watching even more Orlando Magic games -- wait, that's not really possible at this stage. Maybe I'll check on guys like Rose, Roy, Durant, and Beasley a bit more. Ahh. It's sad that I find this depressing and I'm not even a Laker fan. I can't imagine how frustrated he must feel right now. I know I'd be banging a few walls around the house. Rest up, work hard, and get well soon Drew.