Originally posted on March 28, 2012:
Reposted on October 06, 2012: (With massive edits, and massive is an understatement)
I’m a bit surprised that I’m writing a full two months after my previous NHL article1. The first article, to my standards was pretty shitty. (Yes I do have standards, contrary to my previous article). I thought to myself “yo, you’re redoing Chem 30, nobody knows that you’re doing this. nobody reads your shit Obviously I was wrong (actually, I wasn’t wrong, but hopefully that changes), and I’m brimming with questions concerning the NBA/NHL with maybe a little Tebow sprinkled in. It’s the wonders of pro sports and we can start with.
Q: Why do some hockey media consider Toronto “the Mecca of hockey?”
A: You asking the same person who has argued to many people (actually I’ve argued this point to nobody except my dad, I just wanted to make myself seem more credible) that Toronto is what New York was when it came to basketball six years ago. Look as a person who was born in that city, I can tell you it’s one of the most overrated hockey markets today. This team has made four conference finals in the last 45+ years. It has had a track record of incompetent GM’s, and atrocious owners run through that franchise just to make a profit. The tickets are the most expensive in the NHL and real fans can’t afford the exuberant prices so people in suits really don’t care and basically wipe their ass with it before taking their seats.
Have you seen the ACC when the second period comes, and half the arena is still buying snacks? People complain about the same thing in Miami Heat games, and it’s valid, but let’s gets real here, Miami isn’t a sports market, it’s just a beach destination that athletes love. Toronto is supposed to be this great hockey market where the hockey universe runs through them. It sickens me that a team who hasn’t made the playoffs since the lockout, a team that gave Grabovski $5.5 million a year to be a glorified third liner, a franchise that has treated Nazem Kadri with the same respect as the people who planned the opening ceremonies in Vancouver when they put Gretzky in the back of a pickup truck in a rain storm, gets talked about with that high of praise.
Q: Is their any legitimacy into correlating what happens in the NBA regular season to the playoffs
A: No and anyone who says that it does is lying to themselves because you can’t correlate a season in which
- 1. The Miami heat lost twice to the Milwaukee Bucks, the same team who thought it was a great idea to basically do a Stephon Marbury/ Steve Francis duo in Ellis and Jennings
- 2. Can we really compare the schedule in which you could possibly play 7 games in 9 nights to a playoff schedule in which you can have 1-2 days off after each playoff game
- 3. The San Antonio Spurs blatantly gave Tim Duncan the day off because He’s old2, when has a coach done that to a future hall of fame unless it was for scheduling reasons?
This season has been a war of attrition more so than a marathon. While we do have storylines like the Lakers contending even though they have 6 professional basketball players, the Jeremy Lin saga and how Carmelo basically got Mike Dantoni (A.K.A the guy who looks like the dude on the Pringles chip cover) fired. This season hasn’t been aesthetically pleasing to say the least.
Q: What is up with the new rash of questionable hairlines in the NBA?
A: First it was Carlos boozer spray painting his hair. Then it’s Jerryd Bayless and him having shoe polish on his head and to be fair he’s had this type of hair since he came to Toronto and now it’s LeBron and his headband mysteriously going further and further up3. Let’s just hope a Rick Barry/Andre Agassi like wig scandal happens and I would be one happy man. I’m looking at you Joakim Noah
Q: Has the NHL missed an opportunity with Bruce Boudreau and the Anaheim Ducks not making the playoffs?
A: Yes and Yes. Could you picture the Ducks winning the cup and CBC throw their coverage to the locker room where they’re getting the champagne ready, and Bruce Boudreau is already drinking Barbecue sauce out of the Stanley Cup4? Boy it just seems like the NHL can’t catch a break these days. Crosby’s concussions scare, the NBA returning after the NHL thought they would have the season to its own and now the lost chance of a Boudreau coached team winning the Stanley Cup. What’s next, the NHL having a team in Phoenix5?
Q: Where does Shaq rank in terms of worst sports analyst of all time?
A: Just for kicks, here are my top three and my reasons why.
- 1. Greg Anthony (When you’re the guy who basically said that no suspension would occur after the Malice in the Palace, you deserve your own place in Mount Rushmore)
- 2. Magic Johnson (God bless the guy there’s a reason NBC slowly phased Magic out of their NBA coverage after the 1993 NBA Finals and how ESPN’s NBA halftime Show currently is a train wreck although to be fair they don’t have ABC’s version of Ernie Johnson )
- 3. Isiah Thomas (in twenty years what will people remember more: Isiah the player or Isiah post retirement?)
I don’t think Shaq can top this Mount Rushmore of futility, but boy does it just seem like Shaq is being hired by ESPN to be a double agent and ruin TNT Inside the NBA. Just go on YouTube and watch him when Charles was making fun of LeBron’s hairline. Isn’t that the perfect role for him? Just laughing and being what Magic Johnson was four to five years ago.
Q: Is their any solution to the idea of tanking in the NBA?
A: Look I don’t have an exuberant solution to the idea of tanking. I just have this simple solution: Why doesn’t every team send a video application to the NBA giving compelling reasons why they need a top 3 pick for the draft? One example would be how in 2003, the Cleveland Cavaliers would probably have sent the following message.
Dear NBA offices,
I know that we’re in the bottom of the pile when it comes to interest. The last time we mattered was when MJ was basically engraving his name on our court as he sunk a series clinching winner in the 1993 playoffs. I know that whenever someone mentions the name Cleveland Cavaliers they think the following, “They have a team.” So how cool would it be to have a homegrown kid name LeBron Jamescome in and basically save our ass. Wouldn’t it be something? Plus we have to take this into consideration. We have Ricky Davis on our team! The guy who tried to get a triple double by missing a shot intentionally on his own basket to get a handicapped triple double. We need somebody to make him look a lot better than he really is and LeBron can do it. So to the NBA offices; just do it. If you can rig Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals, you can at least give us this and make him our savior.
The Cleveland Cavaliers
Q: What would be your advice to Tim Tebow?
A: Don’t date Madonna; did you see this year’s Super Bowl halftime show?
Q: What is your prognosis of the current NHL season?
A: Love it! Where else does a league have six teams competing in the Western Conference for three spots? (One of those spots is the Pacific Division title and a 3 seed between Phoenix, Los Angeles,Dallas and San Jose.)
In the Eastern Conference you have Ottawa, Washington and Buffalo fighting for the 7th and 8th seed in the playoffs. You know what this isn’t enough; we’re doing a team by team quick analysis on the teams fighting for their playoff lives and their percent odds of making the playoffs.
They have defied expectations and a couple of weeks ago were flirting with catching Boston for first place in the Northeast division. They have gotten another great year out of the Spezza/Alfredsson/Phillips core and are mostly assured themselves a Boston-Ottawa first round series notwithstanding a collapse.
Concern: They have allowed the most goals out of any of the top 10 teams in the Eastern Conference and their number one goalie injured his hand slicing at his house. Only in Ottawa.
Odds: (100% chance)
Alex Ovechkin has finally slumped out of his 2 year drought sort of with his 10 goals in 11 games streak and they somehow are two points out even though they have spotty goaltending at best and lost against Buffalo and got usurped for the 8th seed.
After Ottawa, they have allowed the second most goals out of any of the top 10 teams in the conference and their road record is worse than Buffalo and Ottawa.
Odds: (44% chance)
They have come on in the last ten games getting at least 1 point in nine of their last ten games and their goaltender Ryan Miller has a Goals Against Average of below 1 in the last 4 games and a .977 Save Percentage getting them an 8th seed currently.
Outside of Ryan Miller, can you name me four prominent players who play for Buffalo?
Odds: (56% chance)
Just because the Western Conference is so nuts, I’ll just give you odds and one reason why they make or don’t make the playoffs.
Sharks (43% chance): They are the best front running team out of the six teams competing for those three spots and have the best home record out of the 6.
Dallas (25% chance): They have a home and home sting against the sharks that could seal their ticket in.
Colorado (10% chance): Were a better team than expected. Too bad three of their final four games are at Calgary, San Jose and Vancouver.
Calgary (11% chance): Have allowed the most goals out of the six teams remaining.
Phoenix (35% chance): Have the best road record out of the six teams and have 3 winnable games against 15th place Columbus, 13th place Minnesota and 12th place Anaheim
Los Angeles (38% chance): Have three winnable games against 14th place Edmonton and 13th place Minnesota and a home and home series with San Jose to close it out. The NHL, it’s Fantastic!
- 1. http://voices.yahoo.com/dear-nhl-10859457.html?cat=14
- 2. God bless Greg Popovich. http://thebiglead.fantasysportsven.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/tim-duncan-is-old.jpg
- 3. No disputing the evidence. http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/51/capture2gp.jpg/
- 4. Everyone who reads this needs to give themselves some quality alone time and watch 24-7 Pittsburgh-Washington on YouTube, and specifically watch Bruce Boudreau just having Barbecue sauce all over his face while shooting the documentary. Classic!!
- 5. That was a rhetorical question!
The MVP race in a lot of ways has become the best, and in a lot of ways the worst thing to the game of basketball. The media and fans, including myself, try to define what the MVP award is, and what an MVP should be. The MVP award has more sway over any other MVP award in the four major sports in North America. Can you name anyone who has won the last 5 MVP’s in the NFL? What about baseball? Can you even name what the NHL calls their MVP award? That’s what I thought. Now we also have to take into consideration how at times, the writers vote for the award and how we’ve gotten people who didn’t deserve the award. Some examples include Derrick Rose (2011), Steve Nash (2006), Karl Malone (1997 and 99), and people who were robbed those same years including Kobe Bryant (2006), LeBron James (2011), Michael Jordan (1997) and any other elite player other than Karl Malone (1999).
In a lot of ways, an MVP winner should answer most of the following question.
1. Are you affecting your team’s success?
2. If we had a pickup game with all the greatest players, Would I pick you first overall and if I don’t, would that player have a Hakeem Olajuwon-David Robinson 1995 “That’s my MVP, I’m going to rip you in two” situation.
3. Did you have circumstances that affected your team/individual performance throughout the year, forcing you to defiantly say “this shit won’t stand anymore!?
Without further ado, here are your 2012 MVP candidates in reverse order.
6. Chris Paul:
Here’s a question; can you name me any player on the clippers beside Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and maybe Caron Butler that would start on any of the following teams: Lakers, Spurs, Thunder, Bulls, Heat, Pacers and Grizzles?. The Clippers look a whole lot better on paper than in real life, and at the same time, only Chris Paul has the ability to place seamlessly in a fast break/half court offense They have the worst postseason coach in Vinny Del Negro (and worst doesn’t begin to describe his coaching abilities). You have to give credit to Paul for handling this type of situation flawlessly out of the traditional point guard blueprint: (get everyone involved for the first 43 minutes, take over the last five). He’s having a somewhat bounce back year in which he’s turned the clippers from flash to a bit more substance. You think the Lakers late-game offense is questionable; the Clippers offense down the stretch revolves “Hey Chris, make magic out there.”
So why is he six? Physically he’s just not the same player he was 3-4 years ago and he probably looked at the schedule and said “I can’t survive going on 5th gear the whole season. I’ll just do what I did last year and shift to 6th gear come playoff time.” It’s another reason why he’s the most cerebral player in the NBA.
5. Dwight Howard:
I have nothing to say good or bad. Just remember that this might be the greatest waste of talent we’ve seen since Derrick Coleman and even than, an emotionally disconnected Dwight is still the best center in the NBA and It’s the only playoff team built specially (and perilously) around the talents of one player and one player only since LeBron with the Cavs.
4. Kobe Bryant:
You can’t rip Kobe for having the season he’s having as a result of leading the league in minutes, having for 66.7% Derek Fisher and Steve Blake as point guards and having no one that could create their own shot from the perimeter. Watching 2012 Kobe has been like watching 2003 MJ mixed with 98 MJ play with a better 2003 Wizards team – 25 shots a night, no conscience, whatever first step he has left, wavering between being a facilitator and a scorer yet you are in awe of how he gets his 30 despite having the miles of a mule with a luggage on his back. He is one of the toughest, durable athletes in the history of sports, someone along the likes of a basketball savant, a master of his craft if you will. Someone who knows that he will not be better than Jordan but someone who can have a better career than MJ spawning discussions 75 years later with kids debating who was better, Kobe or MJ? German Engine or not, it’s hard not to think of Kobe when it comes to this condensed NBA Season.
3. Tony Parker:
You never hear his name mentioned with the best point guards in the NBA. You never mention his name when it comes to who drives the Big Three of Duncan, Ginobili and Parker, but shit, when Duncan is averaging less minutes than any other season, but one, and Ginobili missed a month with a broken hand. Plus Parker has carried this team, devoid of talent to the best record in the Western Conference, so how do we not include him in the MVP race. Put your hand up if you think this team would be at the top of the Western Conference come April with how old the Spurs looked after being handled by the Grizzles.
I thought so.
2. Kevin Durant:
Enjoying his most efficient season (28-8-4, 50/38/85) . The Thunder is tied for tops in the Western Conference with the Spurs. The Durant/Westbrook dynamic is as strong as it’s ever been, and he might be the token “best player on the best team” pick this year along the lines of Dirk Nowitzki (2007), Derrick Rose (2011), and Allen Iverson (2001). You can’t deny the effect that Durant has had in allowing Westbrook to shoot as much as he does game to game. Does it make sense that a once in a generation scorer (19.5) shoots as much as his guard who masquerades as a point guard (19.5)? It’s hard for me to believe that any basketball team would be better off with someone else taking more shots than a scorer who was built to score points the same way fat guys enjoy eating cake and smearing it on their face. Come playoff time, when it truly matters? I have a feeling Durant will be more assertive along the lines of jacking Kobe Bryant amount of shots come crunch time. But the viewpoint behind that sacrifice is really interesting. At least for now, the more shots Westbrook gets, the more aggressive he becomes … and when Westbrook is flying around and doing his thing, that’s when Oklahoma City becomes abjectly frightening. I love that Durant sees and appreciates this.
So why is he not the MVP? Because this guy has been just a bit better.
1. LeBron James:
Ya I know we talk about him, mess with him, and his hairline, and I’m one of them. We rag on him for choosing Miami over Loyalty (Cleveland), Championships (Chicago), and immortality (New York). He’s the most polarizing superstar since Wilt Chamberlin, but when you are flirting with breaking the all time Player Efficiency Rating currently associated with Wilt Chamberlin, you are the MVP. Now and we need to get to this. He hasn’t been the same since that possibly meaningless All Star Game in which Kobe took some jabs at LeBron’s late game decision making. We saw in last year’s finals that LeBron wilted from the pressure. We saw Dwayne Wade’s “FU face” during the finals. He played his ass off, and carried them through the whole series, yet we saw LeBron just stare into space drifting into infinity. So when that issue resurfaced in the All-Star Game, it meant something, and it will keep meaning something until the league’s most talented player starts asserting his will in a truly meaningful way.
Why hasn’t LeBron felt any commitment to dominate one of these statement games (Orlando, Chicago, Indiana, Oklahoma City and Boston, all losses)? Shouldn’t we be worried about his lack of ability to shift gears depending on the game, the situation, or even the moment? He actually thinks he’s doing the right thing by playing unselfishly; getting everyone involved, making the right pass at the right time and doing everything else you’d do in a vacuum when situations didn’t matter. Remember Chris Paul’s on/off switch? I’m not even sure LeBron has a switch . Regardless, I still have him as my MVP because nobody has done enough to convince me otherwise. Just know that it’s going to be one of those forgettable MVP races that no amount of bourbon can cure. (OK, that’s a lie). On the bright side, I guess it’s better than last years.
I’m going to move all of my previous posts from Yahoo contributor and onto my sportsfan blog and permanently make this blog your go to site for all of my posts. So for the three people affected by this, sorry for the inconvenience.
You may be surprised that I’m writing a fantasy preview for the NBA considering we still have two months left until the start of the season and well…. Let’s be honest I haven’t wrote an article since what a week before the end of the NBA regular season. And if you want to know the reason why, well in Alberta1we have this thing where in grade 12, you take this final exam worth half your mark and we’re the only province to do this stupid gimmick2. I guess that’s what you get for being the oil capital of Canada. Anyways you didn’t come here to read about my personal crap, you came here to read about my venting about the NHL lockout. Okay that’s not why you came here but if you allow me, a few words.
1. So let me get this straight because I love where the game of hockey has turned over the past 4 seasons. By the way this venting is brought to you by the fine folks of Yahoo. The league generated record revenue this past season. While the playoffs for the most part were uneven, the first round might have been the most entertaining round of sport I’ve watched since the 2010 NBA Finals. The NHL has more marketable stars since Gretzky and Lemieux in their heydays and we’re going to have a lockout? Huh!!!
2. If you read some of the quotes from both side during this stretch, boy it seems eerie similar to the NBA labor talk discussions. The players want to have a better revenue sharing stream while owners want to cut NHL revenue distributed to the players who made 57% last season just like the NBA players did. Owners want to have a system where it saves them the opportunity to overpay the middle class or in hockey lingo “your third and fourth liners” and again like the NBA, the NHL owners wanted to anally rape the players and really don’t give a shit about the PR battle. Hey that’s why they pay me the big bucks. (Actually I don’t get paid for this, no seriously I don’t. I just don’t have a backup alternative like charisma or charm or being able to get laid so I break down lockouts and dole out NBA fantasy articles even though I barely gave two @### about my team last year3.
Anyways the real reason why you read this preview is you need help, you just got screwed in your fantasy league/pool and you came here for advice. You want bargain guys that the mainstream fans don’t really know. Guess what I’m your man. Well probably not and look to footnote three as to your reason why but here’s my top 50 with some sleepers and stay aways for your pleasure and some bold predictions, free of charge. (P.S. All Raptor fans can go suck it if they don’t like where I put their players at in this article, they’re not wasting their last week of summer to do this.)
THE KING OF KINGS TIER 1:
1. LeBron James
You know what you’re going to get at this point, a 27-8-7, 78-82 games and the comfort of having maybe the greatest athlete in the history of the sport at his apex both physically and mentally. A three time MVP who from game 4 against Indiana till winning the NBA championship submitted one of the greatest 15 game stretches in playoff history while at the same time did something only MJ did in 92 which is to win an MVP, Finals MVP and the Olympics in the same season and if David Stern and the owners get their way, this might be the final time a player will be able to do the trifecta. I’d break this down even further but unless Durant starts to reincarnate a little 06 Kobe on us, I’m safe in saying take this guy right here.
2. Kevin Durant
You don’t know how hard it was for me to put this guy #2.The fact that the guy hasn’t hit his prime yet and he’s only 23-24 and has three scoring titles. I’m getting wooozy. A couple of factors to consider:
1. The fact that Serge Ibaka just got his extension relieving him of some anxiety towards leaving OKC and you saw what happened when Westbrook finally got his extension last season
2. This team will be damn good considering they might band together one last time before Harden potentially leaves.
Taking those two factors into consideration and the evolution of his game last season as more of an efficient scorer and I’m thinking to the tune of 29.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG and 4.0 APG.
THE PANTHEON TIER 2:
3. Kevin Love:
1. the second coming of Moses Malone with the added twist of having a little Bill Lambeer in him.
2. While the Rubio injury is going to hurt, the fact that he’s getting Brandon Roy and AK47 as additions will keep him happy.
3. He’s actually for the second straight year playing with a legitimate top 10 coach in Rick Adelman. Do you remember when he almost got Kurt Rambis fired two years ago; I mean does Kurt Rambis even work for ESPN anymore? Why hasn’t he tried to cut his hair a little and become David Kahn’s doppelganger and exact revenge?
4. Chris Paul:
Good news: You acquire maybe the greatest pure point guard in the history of the NBA (sorry Isiah but you’re legendary reign as Knicks GM will live on!) An individual who’s basement is a 17-12 with a 47-86-36 split and a ceiling of 21-12 and a 50-87-38 split. He was working with a Clippers team who had nobody and I mean nobody who can create their own shot and athletic big man who can’t do anything but run and jump save for Griffin (who’s offensive arsenal is lacking) and got them to the fifth seed and now with the addition of Hill, the artist known as Lamar Odom4 and Jamal Crawford, that’s got the ingredients for a top 4 seed. Plus he’s in a contract year.
Bad news: HE PLAYS FOR THE CLIPPERS!!!
5. Dwayne Wade:
In a lot of ways, his knee injury during the playoffs might have propelled the Heat to the title last year. Think about what happened against Dallas two years ago. LeBron was chewing his fingernails during his second meltdown in two years in Game 4 while Wade was carrying the heat on his back trying to thwart 60 years of history by having two alpha dogs team together. You know what happens after that. Now fast forward to game 6 against Boston a year later and that’s when the dynamic changed. We’ll remember Game 6 for the LeBron takeover but we should also remember that the hierarchy of the team was settled that game. From that moment forward, it became LeBron’s team and Wade was reluctantly moved to shotgun. Now you here him talk about LeBron historically with MJ and normally that should give you cause to not draft him top 10. Here’s the thing, the fact that at most times he’s going to be on the court with at least two shooters on the court should open up lanes and easy buckets for him.
6. Dirk Nowitzki:
I know that he stunk up last year relative to what he’s produced over the years and now the decision to forego a chance to defend their championship could be next to signing Dampier instead of Nash Cuban’s most shortsighted move. On the other hand, that lockout season we just had was so out of the ordinary that you kind of have to just write it off and see what happens in a normal year. Plus with the team they have currently, it’s almost crying for one more vintage Dirk year which I believe he still has in his tank.
QUESTION MARKS TIER 3:
7. Andrew Bynum:
He’s automatically the biggest piece the 76ers have had since Iverson in 05. With D12′s move to Orlando, he’s leaps and bounds the best center in the Eastern Conference and to top it all off, he finally gets his own team after having Kobe shoot 23+ times last year. Nobody ever talks about this issue though which is how he’s going to deal with Philly considering his at times immaturity last year. Plus he’s dealing with Doug Collins as a coach. Despite his ability to overachieve as a coach, the fact that for the middle part of last season had his players disgruntled by his lack of originality on offense especially with Evan Turner should be concerning. Plus he’s just completed his first full season completely healthy. Hmmmmm!!!
8. Dwight Howard:
9. Kobe Bryant:
Guess who has hit the lottery three times in his career getting paired with a great/all time big man in his career?5
10. Russell Westbrook:
11. Deron Williams
12. Josh Smith
I put the word redemption here because of the fact that Deron Williams hasn’t been the same since he pulled a Pat Riley and got one of the 10 greatest coaches ever in Jerry Sloan to be fired/quit. Actually “hasn’t been the same is probably an understatement. Just go look at his splits since Jerry Sloan got fired and yet he’s making 100 million. The NBA, it’s fantastic!!! I expect a career year out of Westbrook if of anything because of the whole dynamic that I described earlier. This team by the end of next season might not be the same team again because of the looming restricted free agency of James Harden unless they’re willing to pay the luxury tax, a luxury tax that in a year might as well resemble a hard cap for big spending teams. Plus their team is a lot like a college basketball team because of their togetherness so couldn’t you imagine them banding together a la a homeless man’s version of what the 98 Bulls did? The Josh Smith pick could be reaching a bit but considering that the Hawks ran a iso-heavy offense during Joe Johnson’s tenure illustrated by Beckley Mason on TrueHoop6 and the fact that now they can revolve around their big man tandem in Horford and Smith and maybe spreading their offense more around shooters like Korver and Morrow. Could be the year where Smith finally makes an all star.
ALL STAR CALIBRE:
13. Lamarcus Aldridge:
Here’s what you’re getting: 21 points and eight rebounds a night, decent defense, and someone who needs to be double-teamed (when he’s feeling it) at a fair price. You can argue he’s the most properly paid player in the league: $14 million, $15.1 million and $16.26 million. And on the bright side he’s got one less fat person to deal with so there’s always that right, right7. What am I suppose to say about a sub .500 team last year who got rid of their fourth-sixth best players on the team.
14. Pau Gasol:
The power of Steve Nash ehh? (Cut to all Toronto Raptor Fans cutting a dirty look on their monitor and walking away.)
15. DeMarcus Cousins:
This is probably the one pick out of the twenty that I’m going to regret but a few things might happen to the Kings wherever they play that might validate this pick. (I say that because of the rumor of Virginia Beach acquiring about the Kings.)
- 1. I believe that they’re going to trade Tyreke at some point this season. I mean how long can this marriage go. The guy isn’t a 1. He can’t shoot and if isn’t a pick and roll, he’s a black hole. You’ve got a potential 20-10 guy in cousins and you have players like Thomas and Thornton who look like potential starters on a potential playoff team. Despite this, you’re telling me that Charlotte wouldn’t say no to an Evans for a top 10 protected pick type of deal?
- 2. Let’s say that they do that Evans deal, they can finally rebuild around a Cousins/Thomas (sneaky good draft pick)/Robinson/Thornton core. That’s pretty good and would be a playoff team if they were in the east. The team will go through Cousins and make him happy and he seems like a guy who ratchets up his defense when he’s happy on offense. Plus he seems like he gets along with Keith Smart and he’ll come into camp in decent-great shape. That screams career year.
16. Blake Griffin:
He’d be a lot higher if he didn’t play for the Clips and the current owner has a history of being a racist, heckling players and looking like he came out of a deep fryer at McDonalds. But other than that take him!
17. Carmelo Anthony:
He’d be a lot higher again but the fact that he is an undersized power forward at his best that can punish anyone at the 4 offensively and not get burned at the other end unless he playing against a guy like Zach Randolph plus be a screener in a pick and roll situation like he showed in Team USA contrasts with Stoudemire who does the same thing and occupies the same area where Carmelo excels. On the bright side he’ll at least come into camp in shape unlike last year kind of like what happened after the Olympics in 2008. And well…..
18. John Wall:
19. Al Horford:
20. Serge Ibaka:
21. Greg Monroe:
22. Rajon Rondo:
23. Kyrie Irving:
24. Andre Iguodala:
These guys are a lot like quality actors. You don’t want them being the main focal point of your roster, hell for the most part you know what you’re getting for them and at this point the fact that you’re reading this article still and I haven’t even gotten to the sleepers and stay aways is a testament to how much time you have on your hands. Seriously maybe go fly a kite or something. Thinking….. Nah! Anyways, expect a career year in John Wall if of anything because the knuckleheads aren’t running the asylum. Greg Monroe has quietly become the guy everybody get confused every time they see the 2010 NBA draft and realize stiffs such as Wesley Johnson and Ekpe Udoh were drafted ahead of him. Rondo finally doesn’t have to deal with Ray Allen anymore which means less waiting for Jesus Shutleworth to come off 5 screens and more awkward wrong legged layups which could mean a more aggressive Rondo throughout the year and not just in primetime matchups. Also expect a career year in Serge Ibaka considering that he got taken care of with his extension and Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters can now turn Cleveland around. (I swear I didn’t mean it as a dig, chuckling a little… No I swear I’m not. Who wrote that!!!?) Ohh Ya and Iguodala gets to lead one of the greatest athletic greyhounds in a long time.
THE FEEL GOOD PICKS:
25. Marc Gasol:
Boy did that first round defeat to the Clips scream to you “End of their window” or was that just me watching Marc Gasol’s face every time he saw Rudy Gay launch a contested 19 footer.
26. Eric Gordon:
Is it me or is it hilarious whenever a player does the routine “No I don’t want your guys to match team X’s offer, my heart belongs with them” and then team Y matches the offer every single time. I found it hilarious considering that the team he’s on right now isn’t any worse than Phoenix and it’s not like the Hornets employ the Blazer’s Training Staff. (Cut to all Blazer fans nodding in agreement and packing eggs and finding Paul Allen’s address)
27. Steve Nash:
I’ll let the almighty Bill Simmons sum this one up. “Remember SNL‘s “Orgasm Guy” sketches with Rob Schneider? I think that was Steve Nash this morning when he woke up and found out about this trade.
28. Al Jefferson
29. Paul Millsap
30. Ty Lawson
Which one of these players had a girlfriend who 12 years older and bit his back in a domestic assault dispute? I’ll give you a hint, he’s an NBA player. That’s probably too much of a hint.
31. James Harden:
In a lot of ways, he’s almost playing in a contract year. Think about it for a minute. The punitive luxury tax will kick in next season as a means of protecting the owners of not overpaying the middle class-fringe all stars type of section and if he plays his butt off and maybe becomes an all star, you’re telling me a team such as the Phoenix Suns wouldn’t overpay for James Harden. Roy Hibbert and Brook Lopez basically got 60 million from their respective teams and I mean come on; Hibbert was a stiff the last three games against Miami and Lopez is allergic to rebounding. I know Harden stunk in the Finals but can’t you blame it a little on the fact that Scott Brooks never switched up his defensive looks during the finals?
32. Rudy Gay:
Hey anytime you’ve got a guy on the hook for $16,460,532, $17,888,932 and $19,317,326 for the next three years and he gives you the following stat line against a clippers team who guarded him with the like of Nick young, one handed Caron Butler and Randy Foye you’ve got to keep him.
2012 NBA Playoffs: 7 games, 16.28 FGA, 39.9 MPG, 19.0 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 42.1 FG%, 21.1 3P%
33. Tony Parker:
He’s appropriately rated, you know what you’re getting from him and as long as you don’t lock your wife in the same room with him, it’s all peaches and cream.
34. Danny Granger:
I’m just wondering and anybody can answer me this: does Hallmark have a card that says “congratulations on locking down the 6th seed for the next 3-5 years!”
35. Goran Dragic:
Loved the acquisition for Phoenix. I mean the guy killed what was left of that “slow down everything runs through Duncan” era of the spurs in Game 3 two years ago. He just never got a chance to play in Phoenix and until Kyle Lowry (we’ll get to him later) got a Brock Lesnar like bacterial infection, he was playing 19.0 minutes per game as their third guard off the bench. Now he’s with a coach who he likes and respects in Alvin Gentry, he’s got offensive options in Beasley (comeback year), Scola (best amnesty pickup ever), and Gortat (best player in the Carter Trade). He averaged an 18-8 shooting 49.0% from the field and 38% from three. Don’t be surprised if this team makes a run at the 8th seed next season.
(I’d like to apologize in advance for taking these individuals because one of these guys will win you your league. Let’s just move on)
36. Monta Ellis:
37. Brandon Jennings:
Ummmm….. At least one of them isn’t going to testify to having sex with an intern in a back of a truck and/or eat Vaseline on Ustream.
38. Stephen Curry:
It’s gotten to a point that it wouldn’t surprise me if the warriors leaked pictures of Curry’s ankles in an MRI and it showed that it was made out of Paper Mache or something. I mean they better hope that it’s a Grant Hill type of thing when it comes to his shoes or Warriors fans should just jump off a cliff without the rope.
39. Joe Johnson:
Single handedly killed the state of professional basketball in Atlanta with his onerous contract to say the least. With that said, I love the deal for New Jersey (sorry Brooklyn my bad!) Just look at the landscape of 2-guards in the NBA. You’ve got Kobe, Wade and then this blob of Johnson, Gordon, Ginobili, Harden, Tyreke and then it goes bllllllll!!! If you’re the Nets, money isn’t the issue when you’ve got the Russian mob like version of Mark Cuban as an owner. You bankroll into having when he’s right, the third most dependable guard in the NBA. The state of the 2-guard position has gotten to a point where Arron Afflalo got 40 plus million from the Nuggets. I thought we had a lockout to not overpay the middle class!!
40. Kevin Garnett:
Resurrected his career by switching to the 5-spot and doling out 20-10′s during the playoffs until he was gassed by the monstrosity that was that lockout year. The guy passed the thirteen hundred game mark last year and until game 6 didn’t show any noticeable wear and tear. Now you replace hobbling Ray Allen for more consistent sixth man Jason Terry. They add Courtney Lee and bring back Jeff Green and extended their window for maybe another 2-3 years.
41. Marcus Thornton:
Better vibe with that Kings team when they canned Paul Westphal during the season, and with Tyreke, a great fantasy team and without Tyreke, an actual professional basketball team.
42. Marcin Gortat:
See Goran Dragic’s answer9. Just substitute his numbers with these numbers: 15.4 PPG, 10 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 55.0FG%, 21.2 PER
43. Roy Hibbert:
For the record, I like Roy Hibbert. I like the fact that he’s actually one of the rare centers with an actual back to the basket game. It’s just a pity when keeping Roy Hibbert basically means you have to waste cap space to the degree of 4 years/$58 million. I mean, I’ve said before, actually I haven’t but, he was a stiff those last three games because of foul trouble and the overall speed and power of LeBron and Wade in the open court. But hey I mean what was Indiana going to do?
44. Chris Bosh:
Has to be credited with evolving his game after the abdominal injury and establishing himself as a quality defender, an inside-outside threat and someone who finally blends in to the fabric of what the team wanted from him two years ago. Expect a typical 18-8 year and maybe more if Spolestra plays him more at the five and goes small ball.
45. Paul George:
All the Hallmark jokes aside, boy they better hope this kid becomes an all star because he was mediocre in the playoffs. I’m thinking a little comeback season in place.
46. Anthony Davis:
The Brow!!! I mean we’re either seeing the next Kevin Garnett or the next rich man’s Marcus Camby. Oh by the way that’s his floor! I’m getting giddy!
47. Javale McGee:
Kudos to Masai Ujiri for basically turning Carmelo Anthony (who by the way was in a moody, ball stopping funk), Nene (overpaid but whatever) and Afflalo (overrated defender but solid player) into Andre Iguodala (cheaper long term), Gallinari (solid), Wilson Chandler (athletic), and McGee (a bit of a knucklehead but insanely electric, and worked out with Hakeem). I mean this team is a sleeper and they don’t have a weak spot on their rotation. Can you imagine the type of lineups George Karl has in its arsenal. Who let the dogs out whoo whoo whoo whoo!!!!!
48. Amare Stoudemire:
Give him credit for at least trying to fix the compatibility issues that he and Carmelo have. I mean what he going to do if they lose another first round series; punch his other hand to another fire extinguisher.
49. Brook Lopez:
Broke his foot twice last season, allergic to rebounding (to the tune of 6.0 rebounds per game) and yet got $60 million from the nets. He’s making as much guaranteed money as Drew Brees. What!!!!!
50. Gerald Wallace:
4 years/$40 million! Ladies and gentleman, Billy King!!!!
BE VERY CAREFUL:
Derrick rose: Back in the day, we were taught that ACL injuries take two years to recover. Just look at guys like Al Jefferson, Amare Stoudemire (I know it was a micro-fracture surgery but it counts) and Kendrick Perkins. Plus hasn’t everyone who’s had a serious knee injury been reported “ahead of schedule.” When was the last time somebody was behind schedule? I guess Amare would be an example but the point is that they’re banking on him returning healthy in time for 2013-2014 and you’re smart enough to know where this one’s going.
He’s not going to be happy coming off the bench to the seven hundredth time to start a season and the Raptors don’t have the balls to trade him.
Averaged a 9.0 PER in the playoffs and they’re basically handing him the shotgun keys to him. Ohh did I mention that he took more shots than he got points again in the playoffs and he had a little feud with his coach last season.
He still can’t rebound, hasn’t averaged a PER over 18 in a full season and his spurt at the beginning of the season when he was getting mentioned as a possible all star came against teams such as the Wizards, Cavs (twice), Suns, Nets, Timberwolves, and Sacramento. I mean shouldn’t you expect that type of spurt from your number one option.
Hey that’s three guys out of the 2011-2012 Toronto Raptors.
I know it’s a cop out but still KING!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bad team, no role, new coach.
Too much shoe polish on his head.
Bad team, he gets his shots and can run every play during crunch time.
Headed for a big comeback year if anything because of Rudy Gay.
Finally gets to be a starter and he’s not trapped in Siberia or anything, he gets to play with Dirk Diggler. He’ll finally get the opportunity to post big time numbers for a team in desperate need of the number 2 option
Loved him when he took over for Chris Paul for half a season three years ago. He’s performs when he’s gets his minutes.
One is in a contract year and the other couldn’t have been any worse than he was a year ago. I mean the guy has a Google picture of him eating a cupcake and that itself wouldn’t have been so bad had he already not look like he gained a few pounds already.
Looked awesome in the Olympics. I’m feeling a comeback year is ahead.
Gets to be their 6th man off the bench and be their irrational confidence guy.
Young point guards who are superb athletes and above average decision makers plus don’t have any real competition on their hands.
I mean it can’t any worse for the Bobcats than what happened last season. Plus the guy apparently cries after every loss. You’re telling me that can’t translate into a couple of more wins. Plus they got rid of the sheriff of the Shareef Abdur-Rahim all stars in Corey Maggette.
Lost in the Goran Dragic free agency dash was Chris Kaman’s poor man’s attempt last season. The guy averaged 16-9 in February and March. He just needs minutes.
See Raptors fans, I don’t hate you. Anyways he’s playing for a coach that he won’t belittle. By the way when Kyle Lowry is your only hope, you’ve got problems.
Gets to do what he’s good at which is jack shots and get to the line. By the way I’m still talking basketball.
Showed heart during the playoffs and averaged an 18.8 PER rating in the playoffs.
Marv take it way: Bismack Biyombo!!! YES!!! AND THE FOUL!!!!
By the way when this is all I can come up with for Biyombo, It’s time to wrap it up.
- 1. By the way that’s a province in Canada. Just letting you know whats up here in the great white north.
- 2. The lesson as always, god hates Alberta!
- 3. I didn’t even remember my ESPN username and password for that league halfway during the season.
- 4. The other lesson as always, don’t date a Kardashian.
- 5. Couldn’t think of anything. Bad footnote, I apologize. I’m better than that.
- 6. Here’s the link. Well done column. http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/49379/atlantas-o-after-iso-joe
- 7. Right?
- 8. My mistake.
- 9. We’ve come to the point of the column where I’m just going to half ass it the rest of the way.
1987 CANADA CUP RETRO-DIARY GAME 3 OR AS CANADIANS REFER TO, “THE DAY MARIO LEMIEUX FINALLY BECAME ONE OF US!”
On Friday, I was on YouTube, had time to kill until my 4:30 English 102 class, stumbled onto Game 3 of the 1987 Canada Cup and immediately was hooked. Why? It’s not everyday you get to watch the greatest hockey game since the 72 Summit Series. It’s not every day that I get to here names of Russians I can’t pronounce and It’s not everyday you get to see, maybe the two greatest players in hockey history combining on a historic goal to defeat those damn Soviets, (sorry for going a little pro-Canada on you, I’ll try and remain impartial from this point forward.) So in honor of the great Bill Simmons, and Gary Bettman; commissioner of maybe the dumbest, lockout ever. I’m going to try and fire up a retro diary of this spectacle. For the sake of purposes, the time of each event will correspond to my break in between my classes. Here’s what transpired:
1:30 PM: We are coming to you live from, uhh…..
(Quickly Googling “1987 Canada Cup.”)
Hamilton? Sure that works, and our broadcast duo is, uhh…
(Googling “broadcasters of the 1987 Canada Cup.”)
Dan Kelly and Ron Reusch? Dan Kelly and Ron Reusch???? Good god I’m fired up!!!! Aren’t those two great, Canadian broadcaster names. Now I’m ready. It’s on!!! (Quick tangent: Dan Kelly died 2 years after the 87 Canada Cup. Just that alone should grant him access into the NHL Hall of Fame. Just look at this resume:
- 16 Stanley Cup Finals broadcasted
- Under his belt are iconic moments such as: Bobby Orr’s Stanley Cup winning goal in 1970, Gretzky to Lemieux in 87, and Bob Nystrom’s 1980 Stanley Cup winning goal against the Flyers.
- Primary hockey broadcaster of the 88 Winter Olympics. (An event we’re still trying to have amnesia over.)
- His Son, John Kelly, is the play by play broadcaster for the St. Louis Blues
I mean, now that’s a resume. Anyways….
1:39 Puck Drop:
Grant Fuhr and a Russian I can’t name are your goalies for Tonight’s rumble. Igor Larionov and Mark Messier are gonna take the faceoff. It’s Canada USSR!!!! Feel the excitement!!!
1:40: I know, I’m shocked as you are, but we have a goal sighting and it’s Sergei Makarov on a one timer from Vladimir Krutov. I know I’m not the encyclopedia of hockey, but man, could you have imagined the NHL if guys like Larionov, Krutov and Makarov would’ve been allowed to play in North America during their prime years? I’d ranked this up with what if’s such as:
- What if Arvydas Sabonis came into the NBA during the late 1980’s instead of the limited, explosive version we saw during 1995-2003?
- What if Gary Bettman wasn’t put on as NHL commissioner as a savvy ploy from David Stern to rid of one of his competitors?
- What would have happened to the porn industry if the internet never existed?
1:41: It must be said, but whoever made these helmets needs to be in the Hall of Fame. It’ couldn’t have been easy to make these legends look like a word that names with bassbowl.
1:42: it’s been three minutes, YouTube time of course, considering the T.V. feed I got on this video has no score overlay, but these last three minutes beats out anything that happened during the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals. It must be said.
1:44: Best moment of the game so far, Dan and Ron trying to name the Sutter brothers playing in the NHL. Antonio Chramartie should thank these guys anytime he forgets one of his twenty kids on T.V.
1:45: A random guy in the crowd is wearing a baseball cap with HANDS ON IT, and the hands are CLAPPING plus it’s HOLDING A MINIATURE CANADIAN FLAG!!!! Are you fucking kidding me? I need to have that hat and it needs to be sold in hat retailers everywhere. That was fucking unbelievable!! I take it back; best moment of the game so far was this guy!!
1:47: I forgot to mention this, but the coach of the 87 Canada Roster; Mike Keenan! And the people of Calgary just left their monitors and puked a little inside
1:48: Alexei Gusarov has scored for the USSR!! I’m telling you, these guys can play!
1:50: Another goal for the Soviets! FETISOV!!!!!!!! As a Canadian, if I were watching this game live, I would be freaking the fuck out right now. The Soviets are making this Canadian defense look worse than Chyna circa 1997.
1:51: Canada is going on a powerplay as Igor Kravchuk cross checks Gretzky even though he didn’t even check him, he took two slight whacks and Gretzky flops on the play. On a related note, your officials tonight are Bennett Salvatore, Joey Crawford, and Tim Donaghy. Too soon?
1:53: Rick Tocchet Scores! And the gamblers of New Jersey rejoice!!!!!
1:56: I know that this is going against every fiber of my Canadian instincts, but these refs have allowed Canada to morph into a more talented version of the early nineties NY Knicks.
1:57: Big hit by Messier. Wait, why am I writing as if the game is live?
2:02: Add this to the growing list of things that make’s Gary Bettman’s tenure as commissioner pretty shitty: the trapezoid. I mean, what use this gimmick has, I’ll never know.
2:04: Another goal for Canada!!! Fucking right. Down with the Soviets!!!!! That Tocchet guy has been the best player on the ice for Canada.
2:08: Boy, those Canadian Jerseys scream patriotism, don’t they? Ohh Ya, I forgot. Down with the Soviets!!!!
2:12: the Soviets do it again!! I’d give you the name of the goal scorer, but I can’t spell it for the life of me. Just know that it ended with a kov. Ohh here it is, Andrei Khomutov. Sounds like Russian cold medicine, but whatever. 4-2 USSR
2:14: The end of the first period. I’m also at 946 words. Somebody hand me some bourbon.
2:14: And here we go.
2:17: Big save by Fuhr on Semak, twice. The Robert Horry of goalies does it again!
2:19: I’m going to be honest, I thought I’d be playing video games by this point and quit this charade, but this game has got me hooked. The skating, the talent, the bad helmets, and a skittish crowd have made this diary much more enjoyable.
2:20: Mike Gartner gets away with a slight knee on knee collision on Makarov. Wait, why am I ripping a Canadian?
2:21: So we can get a close up of Paul Coffey tying up his skates with tape yet we can’t get a score overlay? Boy, rough year for 87. Wall Street Crashed, The Larry Bird Era begins to fade, and Bow Wow and Hilary duff were born.
2:23: Gusarov knees Hawerchuk at centre ice. I’d be more pissed at the officiating but I’m supposed to remain impartial through out this diary. Ohh, who am I kidding. “That was a fucking knee on knee!!! Get it together refs!”
2:25: Even Mike Keenan’s mustache looks pissed. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing for Canada’s chances to come back.
2:28: I haven’t mentioned this, but Canada’s top powerplay consists of: Gretzky, Lemieux, Rich Tocchet or Mark Messier, Paul Coffey or Larry Murphy and Ray Bourque. Uhh, that’ll work.
2:30: Rich Tocchet, slot man? Nah, that’s too easy
2:31: The crowd in Copps Coliseum just executed the wave. A little bit of me just died.
2:31: Gretzky to Murphy!!!! Goal!!
2:33: One thing that’s been unflappable has been Viktor Tikhonov’s lid. My god is it clutch or what.
2:34: Brent Sutter!!! Another Goal! Down with the Soviets!!!
2:36: Another big Save by Fuhr. Best performance by a goalie who’s allowed 4 goals in a game ever!!!
2:38: I’ve always wondered what players do while in the penalty box. Do they make conversation with the time keepers, blankly stare onto the ice, or do they hit stuff with their sticks/skates. Ohh shit, I’m talking to myself, and this won’t end well, I can promise you that.
2:40: Some Russian took a swan dive and Hamilton is giving him the Business. I Love you Hamilton, let’s not fight again. Ohh Ya sorry, we’re still in 1987, so it’s Soviet, not Russian. My bad!
2:41: Big save on the two on one by the Soviet goalie. If you keep making saves like that one on a Gretzky-Lemieux break, I might even remember your name.
2:43: Dale Hawerchuk on a beautiful sequence scores on a wraparound after launching a typical 1980s shot (slap shot from the top of the circle). 5-4 Canada
2:44: Mike Keenan still looks pissed. Just a gut feeling, but I’m going to suspect he’ll wear out his welcome wherever he coaches, but what do I know, I’m banging out retro-diaries for fuck sakes.
2:46: Ray Bourque goes off on another penalty, He seems a bit edgy. May I prescribe some peppermint tea? No?
2:49: There’s a Canadian Tire ad for a thing called “Motormaster.” I don’t know what that is, but it’s intriguing.
2:50: Another penalty on Ray Bourque, This just isn’t his day.
2:50: Also, another shot of Viktor Tikhonov’s hair. It’s getting better by the minute!
2:52: The announcers just proclaimed Brian Propp as a player who’s improved during the tournament. On a related note, he look’s eerily like a cross between Joe Buck and Dan Patrick.
2:54: The End of the second period, or as I like to call, the moment I officially became an alcoholic. More bourbon please!!
2:54: ta thurd priod begems!!
2:56: CROWD SHOT!! So many fu stashes and mullets on hand. Since when did I die and go into county heaven??
2:58: What a save by Mylnikov as he stones Paul Coffey after a great pass from Gretzky. See, I told you I’d remember his name. I’m a man of integrity.
3:00: Apparently, according to The Canada Cup Profile (sponsored by Labatt), Valeri Kamensky was Player of the Game for Rendez-Vous 1987. What’s Rendez-Vous exactly anyways, is it for beer mongrels like me who couldn’t get laid unless if we pay for hookers. Is it discrete meeting calls for extra curricular activities? Sign me up!
3:03: There’s so much hooking going on in this game. Not exactly backing up my claim of this game being the best since Game 8 of the 72 Summit Series.
3:06: This period’s been pretty uneventful so far. However there’s an ad for Air Canada Sports. What the hell was Air Canada Sports? Was that even a thing? I’m onto you Hamilton, you can’t fool me.
3:08: Soooo many offsides!!!!
3:10: if there was a power ranking for best mustaches on each roster, Mike Keenan, and Michelle Goulet would be sp far ahead of the pack, it wouldn’t be funny. Actually, it kind of is.
3:11: Semak, on a one timer, kind of scores five hole on Fuhr. All I’m saying is there’s been some weak goals tonight.
3:14: There’s been so much diving in the game so far. So much for me defending these Soviets.
3:15: I can see why Gretzky developed the chronic back injuries, every time he has the puck, it’s like he has camel humps on his back. I don’t think this would’ve ended well in Today’s NHL.
3:16: Big save by Mylnikov as Hawerchuk dekes two soviets, and launches a wrist shot on target. He’s been remarkable tonight, (save for all the goals.)
3:17: We finally have a “brief” score overlay on the screen. It’s like the production crew in Hamilton have been reading this diary.
3:18: We have entered into “not calling a penalty unless somebody gets clubbed by a 2×4” mode. It’s getting intense. (Not really.)
3:20: Tikhonov calls a timeout and gives some advice to a couple of Soviets on the bench. It probably went a little like this:
Tikhonov: Don’t fuck up or you’ll die, but I’m going to wrap my arm around your shoulders as if I’ m giving good advice. In other words, I’m doing the Kobe.
Guys on the bench: Fine.
(I don’t care if I’ve beaten this joke mercifully, I’ll continue on until its dead, re-animate its corpse, and beat it to death again. Deal with it!)
3:22: Gretzky to Lemieux…. There it is. In the back of the net, and there’s toilet paper flying in the Copps Coliseum. Really, toilet paper is the best you can do Hamilton? What is this? An old school ECW crowd?
More importantly though, THE HANDCLAPPING HAT IS BACK. Ohh have I missed you handclapping hat, look how happy it is. Don’t ever leave me, you here? You’re the reason I’m still who I am!
3:22: Toilet paper aside Hamilton, you’ve made Canada proud. That’s all we can ever ask you to do.
3:23: oddly enough, the Soviets don’t pull their goalie. Seems kind of like the right thing to do, isn’t it?
3:28: And there it is. The Canada Cup commences with Copps Coliseum going into frenzy like levels of excitement and my god they should. Gretzky wins the MVP of the tournament with 3 goals and 18 assists and Mario Lemieux finally became one of us with his iconic goal. (I’m Canadian so… Ya)
All snark and sarcasm aside (and boy there has been plenty), I actually thoroughly enjoyed doing this diary and would like to thank the Soviet Union and Canada for giving us an imperfect, yet dramatic conclusion to the Canada Cup. They made my time travelling a lot more easier.
Well… This Sucks
You know it’s donned on me; Gary Bettman might just be the worst commissioner in professional sports. It’s true, I’m not even making this up. When you think about what he’s done or more importantly what he hasn’t done, it’s just been awful. I’m normally a guy who writes more about the NBA and I’ve recently tried to apply to write for various blogs (failed for the most part) so in some ways it should be a blessing, and yet I still have an empty feeling inside of me. Name me another commissioner who suggested a two week break during lockout negotiations when you’re close to the limit as they are, It’s fucking mid-November! Does he know that’s basically taking you to December? What does that give you, a week to make a deal? It’s not as if he’s got sway to pull that crap off. I mean what other commissioner introduced such gimmicks like the glowing puck? What about having the Stanley Cup finals at one point on OLN (Outdoor Life Network.) Plus maybe their greatest feat of ineptitude ever in having the team known as the Phoenix Professional Hockey club. I mean c’mon, no one’s touching that legacy including the 1994 labor stoppage, the 2004-2005 lost season, the concussion epidemic, the trap (also known as the dead puck era), Pierre McGuire and so much more[i].
I mean look what the guy’s got as competition with the other commissioners in the Big 4 Club. David stern Chris Paul saga aside, might be the greatest commissioner in the history of professional sports. Also the guy has flawlessly turned heel, he’s one Vince McMahon entrance away from officially becoming Mr. Stern. How can he compete with that!!!!! Then you’ve got Roger Goddell who just a pimp/covering his ass, and can execute hand-slaps with the best of them, and then there’s Bud Selig, who called a tie during the 2002 MLB All Star Game and now has that gimmick decide home-field advantage for the World Series. The only thing I can see comparable that Gary can only do is allowing PED’s to influx the NHL to have a defining trait[ii]. Anyway back on topic, This lockout mess might top the stupidity that nearly cost the NBA the entire 2011-2012 season. What other person has to deal with running a league that has grown by over a billion dollars in revenue from 2005-2012? What other person has to deal with people actually caring about the product he’s “taking care of”. What other person runs a league with as much parity as he does?
For all intents and purposes this is suppose to be a somewhat biased column, so here’s my attempt to make it impartial (snickering). I’ll give you begrudgingly some credit for transitioning hockey into more of a T.V. spectacle by eliminating the hooking and holding and getting of the red line[iii]. I’ll also give you credit for the Winter Classic becoming a spectacle that the league profits year after year. Hell I’ll even scratch Pierre McGuire off your failures list if only for the unintentionally comedy he possesses[iv]. I just want hockey back. I want to be able to write columns and have the forum to argue until I get carpel tunnel about the Leafs, and how they butchered the whole Roberto Luongo situation[v]. I want to be able to look at the T.V. schedule on my guide and see a Columbus-Anaheim game on TSN2 and make the executive decision “nah I’m not going to watch this crap, I’m just going to watch a Jersey Shore rerun.” I want to go look at Ticketmaster’s prices for the Edmonton Oilers and just shake my head at the prices for decent level seats and consider using my student loans to pay for them. Most of all, I want hockey back in my life because truthfully, I’m in year 3 of my comeback tour as a fan of the game. (Quick tangent: I took a hiatus from watching NHL hockey from 2008-2010 and it wasn’t necessarily the NHL’s fault it was more so the fact that the NBA finally recovered from their talent drought from 1999-2007 with the old guard (Kobe, Duncan, Dirk, Nash, KG, Pierce) and the new guard (LeBron, Wade, Durant, Melo, Paul) not getting sidetracked by extracurricular stuff (drugs, too much money etc…) Plus with a little help from big time one-sided trade).[VI]
I love this game. I love how of the 4 major sports, it’s the easiest to grasp. You play for your teammates (that should be the case for every sport but as NBA teams have displayed decade after decade that doesn’t usually happen). You dump the puck and cycle it across the boards and crash the net. (See 2012 L.A. Kings) It’s again the only sport out of the four that hasn’t been in-fluxed with advance stats yet. You could be dropped on Iceland, never have watched a baseball game and read the encyclopaedia of advance stats for baseball and have a decent-good understanding of the game. With hockey, it’s not possible. Too many things happen that are incidental that change a game, even a playoff series. (As the 2011 bruins would attest as they were a Nathan Horton deflection from losing game 7 of the first round and forever changing the protocol of goalies talking about politics.) It’s the best one to attend, the fans are knowledgeable and to watch the OCD routine for goalies during a game is second to none. The greatest thing about hockey compared to other sports is that while you wouldn’t go to an arena and necessarily say “I’m going to watch Malkin tonight” because he plays a third of the game if you’re lucky, you’re going there because you’re know that you’ll get a professional effort from both teams on the ice. It’s the best trait that the NHL has. It’s team in every sense of the word. NHL players are for the most part guys who are the least entitled athletes on the planet, and we end up with a salary system in which Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are getting paid $196 million dollars. God bless them, they’re two bonafide all star calibre players (although the NHL basically has the “every team gets at least once all star representative” rule in place), and can maybe get you an eight seed. Great, so that’s what we’ve come to, that being the market to get a team maybe an 7-8 seed.
Look I’m bitching and complaining a lot, but fuck, what am I suppose to do? This same shit happened in 2004, but at the very least the salary cap came out of it, and parity became enhanced. What the fuck am I going to get that I can say 5 years from now will be great for the game of hockey; shorten contracts (this should have happened after the Jagr fiasco in Washington in 2003), a 50-50 split, a Make Whole Provision? Really, a Make Whole Provision? First off, I don’t even know what the hell this Make Whole Provision is but if that’s what keeping us from having a season, well my god we as citizens should have the right to impeach commissioners from their jobs. Tell me a downside to the idea of us voting for our commissioners the way we do for anyone running in government. By the way, I hope the NHL knows that in today’s times, there’s more stuff to do and people aren’t willing to dole out cash and watch their team live/would rather instead rather watch it on their flat screen T.V, with surround sound. God forbid, I’ve taken up the English Premier League (by the way, if you don’t know that, it’s the highest league in English soccer) as a way of combating the loss of the NHL.
Ultimately this resigns with Bettman the way it resigned with Stern last year with the NBA’s fiasco. I want Hockey back, Gary, you supposedly want hockey back. I want to argue about inconsistent suspensions, random hot goalies and parity and you have the power to make this come to a reality. You legacy is in the shitter, no commissioner has had 4 work stoppages under his wing, and yet you somehow have managed to keep your job. At this point I’d end this column with a witty one liner… So that’s basically what I’m going to do. Let’s see… Ah here’s one. To quote Motorhead “It’s all about the game and how you play it, all about control and if you can take it. All about your debt and if you can pay it, it’s all about the pain and who’s gonna make it.”
Yup, sounds like a keeper.
[i] The New Jersey Devils (circa 1994-2000), any Russian (sorry I went a little Don Cherry on you, I’ll try to tone it down), keeping the Phoenix Professional Hockey Club, Wayne Gretzky’s coaching fiasco in 2009 and the current NHL Lockout
[ii] Whoops I forgot; Bud Selig’s has that on his resume. See Gary, even Bud (the dumbest, least adaptable of the four) has a defining trait. What’s yours Gary, 4 work stoppages and the way your head bobbles any time you talk?
[iii]An equivalent would be the NBA’s version when they got rid of hand-checking altogether and allowing quick guards to ravish the league and allowing for euro/small ball to influence lineups; and if you thought this was a shamelessly plug for Mr. stern, you got me.
[iv] Go on YouTube and just watch himself and Marc Crawford tearing Alexander Semin to shreds. The way they were talking about the guy made you feel as if they were talking about Tiki Barber signing on to another network. (Tiki “reportedly” left his pregnant wife for a 23 year old former NBC intern, so hence the reference)
[v] I’m a Leafs supporter. Sorry!
[VI] Pau Gasol trade, KG trade, Allen Iverson trade in 09, Dwight Howard a few months ago just to name a few.