Thursday, July 30, 2009

Stephon Marbury Wants to Talk to You (No, Really)

I keep holding off on writing my great big Stephon Marbury melts down live in front of everyone entry because the story keeps evolving. About an hour ago, Starbury took it to the next level by posting his cell phone number on Twitter and yes, really answering people's calls. He now joins Mike Jones in the illustrious category of celebrities who's cell phone numbers I have in my phone. I haven't gotten through yet, but maybe you can get a hold of him. Heres the message he posted on his Twitter:

A lot of people where asking for a hot line number. Well here it is. Call me anytime. Love is love. I love you more then you know 9179237775

Let me know if you get through, and for reference, here is my Twitter. Below I will post updates and reference links to those looking for all things Starbury Meltdown.

Starbury Meltdown Roundup
This all started with the 24-hour, live streaming Marburython, so first thing's first: Here is his channel with some delightful archived clips.

Here is the account of the events by the paper of record, and thus, how the event will be remembered by history. Here is another newspaper account.

Here are a couple Internet people trying to make sense of what exactly it was that they saw. Here are some brief bewildered accounts at Fanhouse and Bleacher Report.

Here are two sweet transcripts/live-blogged accounts of what exactly went down at the Marburython. Here is a nice one from NBA Musings and a really thorough account by the good folks at Inside Hoops.

So the Marburython ended, but then a funny thing happened. Stephon Marbury just kept streaming. As I'm writing this, he is streaming here.

Some people took a thoughtful approach, notably, Bethlehem Shoals and Joey from Straight Banging on Free Darko in the context of larger issues. Ziller had at least one nice piece on Fanhouse. Although, as I mentioned, the best thing I've read happens to have been written before the Marburython ever happened.

The folks at ESPN took a tragic, finger-waving angle on the matter. J. A. Adande gets sanctimonious, though I'm sure he means well. Scoop Jackson takes a pretty direct approach in his column called "Someone save Stephon Marbury," ending, honest-to-God with the line: "Now, I'm concerned."

The fans in the chatrooms and on Twitter seem much less concerned with his career and seem honestly, earnestly, delighted that he is reaching out to to be our very own Most Valuable Person. Steph might be destroying his career, and the fickle fans might soon turn on him, but right now Starbury is a folk hero and absolutely the man of the people.

More updates in this space as I learn more.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday Odds and Ends: Okafor Edition

Emeka Okafor for Tyson Chandler
Be careful what you wish for. Yesterday, bewildered by the Charlotte Bobcat's lack of moves, I laid out a series of suggestions. Notably I said: "Try to trade for a unicorn. It makes about as much sense as anything else right now." Apparently the Bobcats took my advice to heart, though apparently couldn't find a unicorn to trade for. So, logically, they decided to trade Emeka Okafor for Tyson Chandler.

I'll be blunt: I ain't crazy about the trade. I'll link to the different writers/blogs breaking down the trade, but let me give you my take first. Emeka Okafor's reliable and consistent performance in terms of scoring and rebounding were a real asset to the team. By almost all statistical measures, Tyson Chandler is a worse basketball player who is paid more than Okafor and is more prone to injury. That said, some of the defensive statistics (links below) point out that Chandler is a great defensive center. Caveat: Charlotte Bobcats are already a great defensive team that has trouble scoring and this move seems to exacerbate this issue. Finally, Emeka Okafor had a ridiculously long contract that was considered somewhat immovable. Chandler has a shorter contract that will expire sooner and will be easier to trade. So, long story short: Probably not a great move, but there are potential upsides. For some more fine-grained analysis (including all the stats breakdowns you could ever want) here's what other people are saying:

Queen City Hoops
Bobcats Planet
Bobcats Baseline
John Hollinger

Again, generally impressed by the speed of the analysis by the NBA blogging community, particularly the Charlotte folks. Speaking of which...

Shaq Does Wrestling and Cavs the Blog
For a great instant response to Shaq's appearance Monday Night Raw, I refer you John Krolik's Cavs the Blog which breaks the matter down as well as I think anyone can. The article is here. Now is a good time to point out that this is a great blog that all NBA fans should be reading. Smart, funny stuff. I'm recently pretty fond of a piece he wrote that has a nice little riff on GM psychology. Anyway, as Shaq is one of my favorite topics on this blog, and Shaq is now on the Cavs, expect more talking about and linking to Cavs the Blog.

Odds and Ends: EVEN QUICKER
1. Does being Wu-Tang even mean anything anymore? I was able to overlook Method Man's acting career and all the merchandising, but RZA's turn as Seth Rogen's coworker in Funny People is really killing the mystique for me. Maybe more on this later if I don't get Shaqed out.

2. The Blowtorch says everything that needs to be said about Andre Miller.

3.Hey ya'll get that I like Free Darko right? Good stuff lately on other Love in the Time of Lebron icon, Allen Iverson and issues of authenticity. Also, this weekend there was a nice wide-ranging article about Allen Iverson and the Marburython amongst other things.

4. Finally, it bears mentioning that this Monday morning I was expecting to see some big ol write-ups and highlights of the Marburython, but no one has done a full and thorough job yet. I am eagerly awaiting someone to compile all the highlights and to interview some psychologists to let us know what the Hell is going on. The whole thing smacks of tragedy and probably imperils the chances that teams will want to sign Marbury, but I find myself liking the guy more and more. I'm still trying to navigate the territory of whether this makes me a sicko using a genuinely mentally ill person for my own personal entertainment or an eager spectator watching a mildly unhinged weirdo hamming it up in front of a camera. As smarter people than me have noted, the Free Darko post about Marbury and Tracy Morgan/Jordan is seeming more and more prescient and is, right now, still the best thing written about the Marburython despite not actually being about it.

5. That last one wasn't so quick. Whatever.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Suggestions for the Charlotte Bobcats

There are a surprisingly large number of things that I could be blogging about right now, notably linking to a number of great articles written elsewhere about things I've been talking about lately. Finally, there is a great big post about Stephon Marbury's live streaming wonderland of awesomeness that happened this weekend that has yet to be written by me. Don't you worry though, I'm sure that come Monday morning there will be thousands of takes by all your favorite writers/bloggers about the genius/madness of the streamathon. For now, I leave you only one quotation "I don't want to be anyone's favorite player. I want to be their favorite person."

But, now the topic at hand: the Charlotte Bobcats. Due to geography, His Airness, and my perverse respect for this weirdo, gritty team, I feel some loyalty to the 'Cats which means that they are going to get a little bit extra attention. I feel loyalty to this ridiculous team and share the concern of other fans and bloggers: Are the Bobcats going to do anything this off-season?

Here's the situation in brief for those unfamiliar with the Bobcats: The Bobcats are marginal playoff team in the East that really started clicking in the last half of the season after a series of trades brought in some distinguished role players who really nicely complemented the Bobcats' core. However, as it stands, the Bobcats right now are an elite defensive team stocked with skilled, though not electrifying role players. They don't have a top scorer, much depth, or even really a star. Clearly, this is a team that could benefit from signing a free agent or three or making some trades. Yet, the Bobcats do nothing. Why? No one knows. Maybe it's because they don't know what to do. So, with that in mind, I've prepared a list of off-season moves that might potentially help the Bobcats.

1. Re-sign Ray Felton. Currently, the Bobcats starting point guard from last year hasn't re-upped in Charlotte. This is stupid. Felton is a skilled and competent NBA point guard who isn't in much demand anywhere else. Stop dicking around and do the right thing, folks. Or get Ramon Sessions. Whatever.

2. Get Gerald Wallace to work in a laboratory. Gerald Wallace is the most likely of the Bobcats to have a break-out, supernova year where he evolves into the scoring star that the Bobcats need. However, at this point, "most likely" is still "not that likely." He needs a catalyst. A basic survey of comic books seems to indicate that working in a laboratory would greatly increase his chance to develop or refine the powers needed for a break-through year. Laboratories have all sorts of hazards that could potentially increase Gerald Wallace's powers, namely high levels of radiation. Whether we are talking gamma rays ala the Hulk, radioactive spiders ala Spiderman, or the intrinsic field generator ala Dr. Manhattan, the bizarre energy in laboratories is a good bet for catalyzing a transformation into an All-Star performer. Likewise, the dangerous chemicals that are to be found in every single laboratory have a fairly decent chance of enacting a Swamp Thing or the Flash type situation.

3. Sign or trade for some quality depth in the front court. We are mighty thin up there after the so sad departure of Sean May, Cartier Martin, and probably Juwan Howard and the general worthlessness of Nazr Mohammed, DeSagana Diop, and Vladimir Radmanovic. Diop and Radmanovic aren't very good players, but maybe some cracked out stats guy who forgot to carry the one when he was doing his calculations will convince his GM to make a stupid deal for them. This is the best we can hope for, because somehow Charlotte has managed to acquire a far too significant chunk of overpaid backup centers and forwards in the league. These are the guys who are killing Charlotte's salary cap. Seriously, players who are just as good as these players can and should be grabbed for minimum contracts. No matter what, we need to get these guys out of here. Which brings us to the next suggestion:

4. Hire Indonesian pirates to kidnap and ransom Radmanovic, Diop, and Mohammed. Upon their rescue, bribe them to tell their psychiatrist that the flashbacks from the pirate attack are so severe they can't play anymore. Hopefully, this will get them out of their contracts. If that doesn't work, the three should take turns shooting each others toes off with a sawed off shotgun so they won't be able to pass the NBA physical.

5. Sign the perfect fit scoring guard free-agent who has not missed an All-Star Game this decade, who is a sure fire Hall of Famer. who adores your head coach, and is willing to sign for so cheap it's ridiculous. Or wait, does that make too much sense?

6. Pay agents to systematically engage in a campaign of terror in the arenas of all the other teams in the NBA. Have them make bomb threats, send fake anthrax, and make fake viral videos and blogs to smear other teams successful players. Try to steal and hijack NBA-licensed merchandise and rob NBA apparel stores. If we sabotage the revenue stream of the entire NBA and will result in a lowered salary cap (since calculated as a percentage of all NBA revenue) which will result in more available free agents for the Bobcats or at least more money from teams above the cap thanks to the NBA luxury tax.

7. Try to trade for a unicorn. It makes about as much sense as anything else right now.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tyler Hansbrough is Some Cosmic Archetype

Tyler Hansbrough continues to haunt all of our dreams. If you have had a dream about Tyler Hansbrough or any other basketball player, I'd like to hear about them. Email your stories about how you fell in love with a short-armed power-forward-playing manchild to

Special Dream Correspondent Lorelle checks in with the following VISION OF LOVE:
It was a dark and stormy night. Or maybe it was balmy but otherwise pleasant. Anyway, so I'm in Best Buy (first sign that this is not real life) about to check out when I see that Tyler Hansborough is in line in front of me. We strike up a conversation and out of nowhere he takes me on his arm and we perambulate about the store. I spy Eminem flipping through his own stuff in the CD section (tacky) and persuade Tyler to stand next to him for comparison.* Em has no idea what he's doing and we giggle conspiratorily at his expense. Tyler asks if I'd like to go out with him sometime and I agree. The next day he calls and invites me to come hang out with him and the team. When I get there, the team that he is referring to is a bunch of 4th graders he coaches and has taken to the Walmart McDonalds for a post-game celebration. I'm a little pissed because like, srsly Tyler, this is it? But he doesn't seem to notice my disappointment and enthusiastically waves for me to join him at a booth next to the Playspace.** All the little boys are like "ooooooh Tyler has a girlfrieeeeeeeeend" and he blushes and introduces me to the kids, "Hey guys, this is my Lorelle I've been telling you about." It was all very sweet, if simple. JUST LIKE TYLER.

*This is a direct result of my friend accusing me of thinking all white people look alike for comparing the two.
**Inaccurate because I don't think they put playspaces in Walmart Micky-D's.

If there existed a YouTube video of Tyler Hansbrough highlights set to a mash-up of Eminem rapping over "Dreams" by the Cranberries, you can rest assured that I would put it right here. If you find such a thing, send me the link or your dreams to

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Tale of Two Lawsons

The last time we checked on Ty Lawson, he was not doing so well. He'd played two games and shot 1 for 15. This was heartbreaking. This past year, Ty Lawson was unquestionably my favorite player in all of college basketball. This year, his insane mutant abilities had finally matured: Sure, he could still teleport at will and, obviously, the addition of his sweet three-point shooting was a big plus, but the big difference was the development of his ability to channel waves of pure chaos and bend them to his will. You see, sometimes Ty would drive down court and attack the basket. Then something strange would happen very fast: people would jump, run to change positions, try to cut Ty off. It was never clear to me without instant reply (In a world without slow-motion replay and Tivo, Ty Lawson would be completely incomprehensible) in what order these events would unfold. I would only see the final stroke: Tyler somehow has the ball and is dunking; Danny grabs the alley-oop and throws it down, Wayne cooly (always "cooly") drains it from the outside; or somehow, someway the ball would float up above the basket and then go through the hoop as Ty crashed into the rows of photographers sitting on the baseline. "And one." The mutant heir of Rod Strickland and Allen Iverson was coming into his birthright.

Ty Lawson's chaotic, improvisational game combined with freak speed, uncanny shot, and a penchant for clever, efficient passes was the most compelling part of the Tar Heels run to the championship in 2009. A ridiculously electrifying player on a stupidly dominant team, I thought he was the best player in college that year and a sure thing for the NBA. When he slipped so far in the draft, I worried. Had the other teams seen seem terrible flaw in his workouts? Was he doomed?

My worst fears were realized with his slow start in the summer league. Who shoots 1 for 15? People who watched those first two games seemed to think he was playing well, defending tough and doing the proverbial "little things." I saw these comments. But, I also saw the box score and I despaired. Ty Lawson almost always looked good on the box score. He is a stat head darling. This past season, by most metrics, particularly the most sophisticated and advanced ones Ty Lawson had one of the most amazing seasons a point guard in college has ever had. On offense he was the most efficient player in a ton of widely respected systems, including Ken Pomeroys. ESPN's John Hollinger gave the mock draft crowd something to talk about when he noted that the best players in the draft in terms of PER were easily Blake Griffin and Ty Lawson. I mention this to emphasize that Ty Lawson almost always looks good in the stats, but in summer league, even on the stat sheets (especially on the stats sheets), he was bombing.

Then something happened. He had a day off before closing out the week with three more games. He apparently spent it well:

"After (Wednesday night's) game where I probably got my shot blocked like eight times I watched the tape last night and I realized what exactly I could do to get my shot off," Lawson explained.

That was it. That was the turning point. It was all over after that. He scored over 20 points in the next three games and kept doing all of the little things. Seriously, he just went nuts. Look at the box score and see how well he played. Check out the video highlights from those games. Couple that with the praise of his tough, pesky defense from the NBA Twitterati and Ty Lawson came out just fine.

Hell, the stats loved him again, even factoring his inauspicious first two games. One guy's keen analysis shows that Ty Lawson's statistically dominant ways carried over to the NBA: In summer league, he was the top rookie point guard in win shares, scoring efficiency, and ball handling. The analysis even goes so far as to pronounce him the cream of the rookie point guard crop. Hell, if you ignore those first two games he had, he's off the charts. He was, in fact, who we thought he was.

Nice story, huh? Well we haven't even focused on the best part yet: Ty Lawson played terribly, spent one day watching some film, and then dominated his next three games. That's a hell of a coaching adjustment. I mean, was it really just an issue of him watching the film and figuring out how to get his shot off better? Because, seriously: From making 1 out of 15 to blowing everyone away in a whirlwind of scoring is a fairly significant change. In the interviews with him after his break out game, he repeats that he's just "adjusting" over and over. Is this what Ty Lawson adjusting looks like? Is he that good at making tweaks to fix his game? Is he that good about being coached? If this is true, then what can we make of his ceiling? The rest of the NBA might need to start getting scared.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Introducing Tyler to Mom

I'm still collecting dreams about basketball players. Send your dreams to and we can all be collectively weirded out over your penchant for frosting and Vince Carter. In any case, it's time to share some facts and dreams:

FACT: Dreaming about dating Tyler Hansbrough is really common. Even if you don't follow basketball. Even if you think he is stupid.

Here is a dream about dating Tyler Hansbrough from Special Dream Correspondent Juli:

I have a somewhat recurring dream that Tyler Hansbrough is my college boyfriend. It bears mentioning that I go to the University of North Carolina and have for the past few years, but I don't follow basketball. He is just a giant wandering around the town. A bizarre local attraction who I spot occasionally: more yeti than person. Always blurry, always peripheral, he lumbers into Carrburitos on Cinco de Mayo and buries his melancholy with chilli cheese fries at Joe's Joint late at night while the tourists gawk and take pictures.

In any case, I've had this dream three or four times: In these dreams, he's my boyfriend. He's dumb, but really sweet, which is pretty much how I imagine he actually is. He's also shy and awkward, but I find that goofy and charming. Whenever I bring him home to meet my parents, they are always understandably thrilled. My mother always takes me aside and nudges me, saying "We're so glad you finally brought home a nice young man." My mom doesn't even talk like that. She does really like Tyler Hansbrough and is always excited when I mention seeing him around town. I guess he somehow represents everything my mom would want in a boyfriend of mine. Actually, not so much in a boyfriend of mine, but in the daughter she wished she had.

So there's that.

Anyway, he inevitably breaks up with me when I ask him to go to the Nightlight. I guess it's just not his Scene. And whenever he breaks the news to me, he's always wearing Carolina blue seersucker: the embodiment of pretty much everything I hate. I think I am upset afterwards, but by the time I wake up, I'm sort of relieved. I don't think I could deal with the pressure of being Psycho-T's girlfriend.

Usually, I have it before I have to bring home some guy to meet my mom. I guess these dreams will (sadly) have to stop now that he is a college graduate.

Send your dreams about Tyler Hansbrough or other basketball players to

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thursday Odds and Ends

Hypothetical Bobcats and Bobcat Hypotheticals
It's been a quiet season for the Charlotte Bobcats as they have yet to make any move aside from not extending a qualifying offer to Sean May. Charlotte needs scoring, a guy who can take over games, and someone who will help them sell tickets. Yet, all has grown quiet on the AI front, when all I want in my heart of hearts is for The Answer to come to Charlotte. Why is this? Is Charlotte really standing pat? The best answer I have seems to be that Charlotte isn't going to make any moves until they have secured a deal with Ray Felton. Inexplicably, this is, apparently far off, despite Felton wanting to play in Charlotte and Charlotte wanting Felton to play there. FIGURE OUT THE MONEY SO WE CAN GET AI.

That said, maybe Charlotte, like our esteemed friends at Queen City Hoops, has realized what a good team they have on their hands. If you project Charlotte's performance at the end of the season, after all their trades, across the whole season, Charlotte would have been the best defensive team in the league. Nice. They still would be sub par offensively, but there's still time to get a relentlessly amazing future Hall of Fame scoring guard. I mean, if that's what you think would help.

Note: Hypothetical Cats sounds like a super twee indie rock band.

The Answer
Iverson to Miami or Memphis doesn't make any sense to me. Both are totally stupid. Now imagine AI to the Clippers: Baron Davis, Allen Iverson, Blake Griffin, Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman, and Eric Gordon. That's got to be at least thirty wins right? Wrong. They will have fifteen wins or fifty-five. It's so stupid it might work.

Again, Iverson to the Bobcats makes way too much sense to be plausible. The NBA follows the rules of comic book and movie logic. Which is to say that there is a low premium on plausibility and you know, making a damn bit of sense.

Good Job, Chris Bosh
All hail the anointed Twitter Champion, Chris Bosh. Oddly, he doesn't thank me for my endorsement, which I am sure pushed him over the top.

UNC Guys in Summer League
One line summaries for the four 2009 Draft picks:

Tyler Hansbrough was way better than expected and one of the best players in Orlando.

Wayne Ellington and Danny Green have been the leading scorers on their team in at least one game and almost completely disappeared in another.

Ty Lawson has played in two games and made only one of fifteen field goal attempts, but the one that went in was such a sweet dunk that David Thorpe tweeted about it. So, yeah.

Of course, if Vegas Summer League action isn't enough and you want to watch a bizarro summer league where Flip Saunders, Sean May, and my nerdy hero Marvin Williams with the help of about half of UNC's incoming freshmen team square off against other pro's, college players, and a few high schoolers and other assorted weirdos, then allow me to introduce you to the NC Pro-Am Summer League. Billing itself as the Rucker's of the South, you can watch a truly bizarre collection of players from mostly around North Carolina go at it in a gym on the North Carolina Central campus. Seriously.

Mercuriality Update
For the many amongst you who are keeping track of which players are the most mercurial, as I know so many of you are wont to do, allow me to submit another name that should have been obvious: J.R. Smith. Mercuriality of 384. Well-done. That's good for a starting spot at shooting guard on the Love In the Time of Lebron All-Mercurial Team. Again, for those of you who keep track of such things.

Dreaming About Tyler Hansbrough

I'd mentioned in the past that I am interested in collecting your basketball player dreams. This is still true. The current winner of the Bizarrely Occupying All of Our Dreams Award is Tyler Hansbrough who's featured in an alarming number of accounts of dreams that I've collected. This is apparently not uncommon.

Anyway, I hope to hear more accounts of dreams about Tyler Hansbrough or any other basketball player. You should send your dreams to

Special Dream Correspondent Elizabeth dates Tyler in hers:

In my dream, Tyler Hansbrough and I met-cute somewhere on campus and got to talking, and I realized that he was actually reserved and quite intelligent, and tired of people only liking him because of basketball. He found it refreshing that I didn't really know anything about basketball. We started dating and the rest of the dream was just us going about our campus lives together-- eating at the dining hall, browsing the new releases at the bookstore, walking to class. Lots of other girls were incredulous that we were dating, and by the end of the dream I was considering breaking up with him, just because it was stressful to have everyone look at me all the time and make judgments.

Again, please, please send your dreams about Tyler Hansbrough or other basketball players to

Monday, July 13, 2009

Twitter Wars I Have Known

The most important question of our time is being decided as we speak. A question of great cultural significance and resonating import: Who is more popular on Twitter, Charlie Villanueva or Chris Bosh?

Currently, the two are racing to see who will be the first to have 50,000 followers. Granted, this is a modes goal compared to Shaq's 1.6 million followers, but Shaq, as near as I can tell, is the whole reason that Twitter matters. He's in a class of his own when it comes to channeling his own message, self-mythologizing, and being weird on Twitter (the opposite of Iverson). Indeed, the only reason so many NBA players and people are on Twitter, as near as I can tell, is because Shaq has used it so successfully. Since then, it's been a tidal wave. It's weird if an NBA player isn't on Twitter. Sean May and Nazr Mohammad both have accounts, to give you an example of how widespread the twittering has become. If the bottom of the Bobcats big man rotation are all using Twitter, then you know everyone is using Twitter. Notable exceptions to the rule: Kobe and Lebron don't use Twitter, because well, one's a super controlling sociopath and the other finds Twitter unnecessary due to his mutant abilities which allegedly include, but certainly aren't limited to, mass telepathy (I for one look forward to Lebron broadcasting his message of dominance, support for Cleaveland, and sneaker consumption directly inside my skull). Also, as far as I know, Marvin Williams doesn't have a Twitter, really hurting my theory that he's a huge nerd. Despite this, apparently his booty loves to Twitter. The point being, the NBA loves Twitter.

In my own experience, there are only four types of people on Twitter (really only three if you group the first two under "Nerds"):

1. Tech folks.
2. Media folks.
3. People who just got back from a run.
4. NBA players.

Now, as far as NBA players using Twitter, I love it. It's still one of those things that isn't entirely controlled by publicists yet, so it really is a pretty good way to get direct and unfettered access to the players, coaches, owners, and journalists instantaneous and direct thoughts. Now is the point where I mention that most of this is tedious, banal, and maybe disappointing. However, a healthy portion of it is just weird. I don't know if you know this, but NBA players are some of the most deeply bizarre, weird, funny, and personable yet crazy people on the planet. Letting them channel their thoughts directly to the masses is just completely fascinating. And it comes in all flavors: Check out some of the Baseline's round-ups of best tweets from around the league for a fine sampling of the many delights of the NBA tweet. You won't be disappointed. Maybe you'll even see the melancholy desperation of a borderline, undrafted player from Virginia Tech. Maybe.

Now back to the question at hand: Charile Villanueva or Chris Bosh? Both of them have some serious Twitter skills, and both excel at the medium and seem to genuinely enjoy it. On his side, Charlie Villanueva had one of the more famous tweets when he managed to send an update during half-time of a game he was playing in, drawing the ire of his coach, amongst others. Also, I particularly enjoyed Charlie's blatant lobbying on Twitter to go play with Lebron. Dude's also got a pretty nice game and alopecia. Points all round.

Chris Bosh on the other hand is just awesome. He's a very smart and funny guy with interesting things to say. He's a good sport and seems really nice. He's also a helluva baller, an All-Star and easily considered the third best prize of the epic Class of 2010 behind Flash and the Chosen One. He is also pretty damn weird and maybe the best in the whole NBA at using social media. Why do I say this you ask? Behold!

That's right, he made a weird youtube video framed as a shitty local TV ad to try to get voted into the All-Star game. It worked. Do you not love this man, yet? What if I told you he made a faux-martial arts movie to make fun of Baron Davis for a YouTube showdown they were having?

You have to vote for Chris Bosh. Follow him on Twitter. Check out his other YouTube videos. The man is too wonderfully weird to not reward him and his embrace of social media has made it really fun to be a fan. That should always be rewarded. Sure CV has no hair, but alopecia can't always be the trump card.

Final note: Baron Davis doing strange things in YouTube videos is practically a genre onto itself. I love Baron and it's only a matter of time before I feel compelled to talk more about him. Until then, one of the finest examples of the genre, courtesy of Chris Bosh TV:

NOTE: I'm on Twitter too:

ALSO: Fresh on Shaq's Twitter, more proof that he is the most Wu Tang.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Answer for Charlotte?

I live in North Carolina, and, somehow, I guess, am a Bobcats fan. The Bobcats, in the past season, have somehow transformed from a young team filled with Michael Jordan's dubious draft picks to a team with a delightful mix of great young potential stars and grizzled veterans. It is, in absolute seriousness, one of the elite defensive teams in the country and a serious contender to make the playoffs. It's a fun team, with lots of interesting characters: the visceral, passionate recklessness of Gerald Wallace, the bizarre efficiency and skill of the discarded cogs of the D'Antoni machine in Bell And Diaw, and perpetually underrated young talent in Okafor and Felton. Also, for some reason, they are really, inexplicably good at beating the Lakers (7 out of the last 8 games have been Charlote wins, I believe)

The known weakness of Charlotte is simple: they can't score. The prescription seems simple: add one electrifying shooting guard and stir. There are a couple of potential problems. Charlotte is cheap. The front office is dumb. Lots of players don't want to play in Charlotte. Famously, Charlotte drafted Kobe, but he was so adamant about not playing in North Carolina he forced a trade to the Lakers. I like to imagine that the animosity of Charlotte's basketball directed at Kobe Bryant is the driving force behind the inexplicable recent dominance of the Bobcats against the Lakers.

Vince Carter, for example, would have been the ideal fit for Charlotte. An impossibly explosive scorer at shooting guard, a steady veteran presence, and, as an alumnus of the University of North Carolina, precisely the kind of guy who might be delighted to play for Michael Jordan and Larry Brown. Vince Carter isn't available. Allen Iverson is. Over the course of his career, there is no one in the league who puts up more points per game than AI except for Goddamn Lebron James Himself. But is he a good fit for Charlotte?

That's an excellent question and one that someone else answered in an in-depth and thoughtful manner. If you are, like me, inexplicably a Bobcats fan, then Queen City Hoops is easily the most important Bobcats blog to read. When it comes to team blogs, Charlotte has lucked out in getting a blogger who has the time and patience for in-depth statistical analysis that has few other peers, especially focused on one team. Brett does a great job at breaking down all the details. Read his analysis here.

Here it should be mentioned that perhaps my favorite basketball player is Allen Iverson. There are a lot of reasons to not like Allen Iverson and, in fact, a lot of people don't. The orthodox fan who decries any change from the way basketball was under the Honorable Coach John Wooden hate him for his flash and his swagger which they think undermines the team concept. He famously doesn't care about practice, and, all things considered, undermines all of the Grand Traditions of Basketball. Stats guys hate him for his inefficiency and believe his reputation is inflated. There are other criticisms that you'll find pretty easily by Googling his name and a lot of them are really ugly. Some of them are outright racist and others idiosyncratic and pedantic, and some brave few combine all these complaints. His personal history of controversy and trouble make him an easy target, and admittedly, he is no angel.

That said, I really like Allen Iverson. Here's why: Allen Iverson shouldn't be one of the greatest basketball players ever. He is short and not a very good shot. He's a ball hog and takes excessive risks on defense. He's also absolutely electrifying to watch. Allen Iverson's game is based on sheer willpower and determination. The ball goes in because he wants it to go in more than anything in the world. He has few talents except for lightning speed, ridiculous reflexes, and just total gritty toughness. His drives are all improvisational rolls of the dice, the most desperate moves of another players repertoire. For Iverson, it's his go to move. To say he plays hard is an understatement: the man martyrs himself on the court every night in whats usually a vain effort (Remember, he's spent most of his career being the only good player on his team). He plays hard and he gets hurt and then he plays through the injury. He is one of the top five all-time leading scorers in the NBA, at several points in his career only bested by Wilt and Michael. He is, right now, the best player six feet tall or shorter to ever play.

AI has never been the hero in the NBA. He's always been, for the most part, cast as a heel, a villain. His past is too checkered and his tendency towards hard honesty gets him in trouble, makes him difficult for mass audiences to love. The man has no talent for managing the media and doesn't even really understand why someone would even bother. In some ways, he is the opposite of Shaq. Shaq is very media savvy and gleefully cultivates his own mythology and his own story which the lazy media gladly seizes as their own. Shaq's talent for the turn of phrase, his charisma, and his ability to know just what to say, so as to be seen as funny and affable, make him, if not universally beloved, at least widely liked. This is, however, a fairly deliberate and trained talent. AI doesn't have it. He can barely dissimulate, can't hide his emotions from the press, can't put a good face on things if they are bad. He doesn't care if you are charmed by him or like him. It just doesn't register.

Ignore his legendary, Hall of Fame ability, for a second: AI is potentially the grittiest, toughest, most willful, determined, and sincere player in the game right now. He always plays his hardest and he says what he means. This is a clip of him talking about his scholarship program this past week. The Answer doesn't necessarily have answers of his own, answers for himself, but that doesn't mean the Question is less meaningful and important.


I know I got gushy, and I know that really, AI may in fact just be so good at PR manipulation that he has willfully chosen and shaped this media perception of himself to attract suckers like me. It's possible. Do you think it's likely?

BONUS: Someone remixed the famous AI practice press-conference. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dreams: Human Sacrifice, Alien Bloodsport, and Tyler Hansbrough on the Keys

The first entry in this space began with me recalling a dream in which Wayne Ellington sacrificed me Aztec-style on top of a pyramid. This was weird. However, I'm not the only one who has bizarre dreams about basketball players. Special Dreams Correspondent Thomas sends along three dreams about basketball that are recounted below. If you have a dream featuring professional or collegiate basketball players, I strongly urge you to send a description and, when possible, a potential interpretation of your ballin' related dream. You can send these dreams, along with any other questions, comments, or silliness to

Here is a dream about Dwayne Wade at a church picnic:
The dream begins with me at a church picnic. This isn't odd; I volunteer with a church that throws lunches and stuff all the time. Then Dwyane Wade shows up in his jersey and band-aid. I go over and talk to him about his season and ask him what his secret is. He says "I must sacrifice a virgin before every game." Then he grabs this little girl and runs away with her shrieking over his shoulder. I try to run after him, but come on, he's D-Wade, and he gets away.

Here is a dream about Tyler Hansbrough:
Tyler Hansbrough is a recurrent figure in my dreams. The only one I remember right now is one where my friend Brandon, Tyler, and myself all start a band. I'm on drums, Tyler's on keys, and Brandon's on bass. I interpret this as my attempt at ordering my id, ego, and superego through projection and sublimation. I've always wanted to start a band, and maybe I projected myself onto Tyler. I honestly think it's because we have the same initials and are highly driven white dudes.

Here is a dream about basketball as alien bloodsport ala Space Jam:
The human race had been taken over by aliens, and they had organized us on these long hanging clasps that attached to a conveyor belt, kind of like the doors in "Monsters, Inc." Each human had a number, and when the aliens wanted us they pressed our number and we zoomed around to the take-off point. They had this sport kind of like the Aztec sport, Tlatchtli, in that the losers were sacrificed to the gods, but it was basketball. Anyway, I became the bloodsport alien basketball superstar and got to roam around off my coathangar. I found the breeding pits where the aliens kept women, and I found my friend there and tried to rescue her, but she refused to abandon her alien baby.

Please, please: If you have dreams like this about basketball, email me at

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Marvin Williams Can Solve A Rubix Cube

After helping the University of North Carolina Tar Heels win the national championship in 2005, Marvin Williams, as a freshman, was drafted second overall in the NBA draft, landing with the Atlanta Hawks. Since then, he has slowly but steadily become a reliable contributor for the talented, but still young, Hawks. This season saw Marvin expand his offensive arsenal with the addition of a 3-point shot before injuries limited his playing time at the end of the season and playoffs. Right now, Marvin Williams is a free agent. He is also a nerd. I base this on this video:

It's not that he speed-solves Rubix cubes, it's the way he talks about it. Listen to how he describes getting into it. There isn't any doubt in my mind: Marvin Williams is a nerd in the most John Hodgman sense of the word. He may be an incredibly skilled athlete, making millions on his basketball skills, but I am convinced that Marvin Williams is no jock, but rather the nerdiest geek and the geekiest nerd who ever geeked or nerded. If the video isn't sufficient proof, I present to you some TRUE FACTS as evidence.

Marvin Williams promised himself he wouldn't even start the final season of Battlestar Galactica until playoffs were over. His favorite comic books are golden age adventure comics but he has a soft spot in his heart for the Alan Moore run of Swamp Thing. He likes xkcd, but thinks that it's a little obnoxious and preachy sometimes. Marvin Williams's preferred browser is Opera but he isn't a snob about it. He once got into a heated argument with Josh Childress about whether Star Wars or Star Trek was better; this was the reason that Josh Childress left and the reason that Mike Woodson won't let Marvin wear his Starfleet insigna during practice or games. Marvin Williams considers himself to be a 5th level/5th level barbarian/ranger with above average ability scores and a plethora of magical items. Marvin Williams will never tell them this, but he thinks Josh Smith looks a cave troll and Adam Morrison looks like Frodo Baggins. He once told Rajon Rondo he looked like Gollum and Rondo's staunch refusal to acknowledge this led to a physical altercation. This was during the 2008 Playoffs. Marvin Williams takes his Tolkien that seriously. He plays a blue counterspelling permissions deck when he plays Magic: The Gathering. He is considering trying to get a little more into steampunk.

Watch the video of him solving the Rubix cube again. I'm not trying to be mean. How could these facts not be true?

Tuesday Odds and Ends

The Peculiar Twittering of A.D. Vassallo
When I was creeping around Twitter, I came across some bizarre messages from A.D. Vassallo, former Virginia Tech stand-out and NBA non-draftee. His Twitter was covered in what I think were a little over a hundred different Tweets to various NBA players, siblings of various NBA players, coaches, and owners asking for help since he went undrafted. He was desperately trying to get in touch with anyone who could help him figure out what to do and was shamelessly begging for advice from anyone with any connection to the NBA. He also talked a lot of trash about how he could take Tyler Hansbrough or anyone else from the ACC. It was the most amazingly candid and desperate thing I've seen in sometime. That was yesterday. I check back today and there were only five total Tweets on his page. The one on top announces that he's playing summer league for the Bulls. All the other Tweets appear to have been deleted. Weird. Anyway, for all you A.D. Vassallo fans, here is the new desperation-free Twitter page

Speaking of Which...
Tyler Hansbrough debuted in the NBA or at least in summer league with a pretty decent first game yesterday. Today's game was even better, apparently.Long story short on the Hansbrough front: he's doing the things that made him successful in college plus shooting the three and for some reason people seem surprised. You can keep up with the Orlando summer league here and even stream the games live to show what a stupidly hardcore NBA fan you are.

TRUTH: This blog was almost named "The Sorrows of Young Hansbrough."

Department of Nicknames
Here is a completely awesome list of Chinese nicknames for NBA players compiled on the official NBA page back in 2007. This deserves greater comment, but for now, let's let the thing speak for itself. Also, here is a pretty great list of nicknames for each and every player selected in the 2009 draft. Actually, it bears mentioning that this is a pretty great and hilarious blog. Here is some of the Blowtorch's coverage of Tyler Hansbrough.

Things FreeDarko Addressed Better Than Me
Recently I have tried to address a number of topics and, generally speaking, I think I had something new to add to the conversation, even if I was taking the discussion into a different, and, admittedly stupider direction. What's worse is when freedarko keeps fucking doing you one better, including kicking your ass from the archives. That's the worst. So, without further adieu, I display my inferiority complex and point you to some fine-n-trenchant writing from FD on topics that I've recently written about.

On Rasheed (cf. Durrr, Why Everyone Call Sheed Mercurial?)

On Ron Artest (cf. No Seriously, What's With This Mercurial Thing?)

On Kobe's Sociopathy (cf. The Internet Thinks Kobe Could Kill You and Feel Nothing)

That said, I don't think the things I said are wrong, just more tangential and less interesting than what them FD boys bring to the table.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mercuriality and Rasheed to the Celtics

You may have heard the big news by now: Rasheed Wallace to the Celtics. This is frightening and awesome. Rasheed Wallace, Carolina alum, three-draining big man, and the one-man technical factory that referees across the league love to hate is joining forces with Kevin Garnett, who is, with the possible exception of Kobe (since he might be a sociopath and all), the scariest player in all of basketball, who is capable of making giant, grown, powerful men ON HIS OWN TEAM cry in the middle of games, and who may be the modern embodiment of barely controlled rage. This is absolutely frightening and awesome. Would you want to play against them? I mean, in the end, I might take Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis over these two, but for sheer intimidation and on-court psychopathy, it would be difficult to beat the KG and Sheed pairing.

Also, Rasheed Wallace is one of the current known leaders in the latest of my Google-based metrics, a simple one that we're going to just call Mercuriality. In the fine tradition of the Epithet Certainty Score and the Kobe Test, you arrive at this score by counting Google hits. To measure a player's Mercuriality (it's always going to be in caps, I think), you just search for "mercurial [player name]". Maybe, we can refine this later, but for now, here are some benchmarks.

Allen Iverson 10,300
Ron Artest 4,490
Rasheed Wallace 1,150
Stephon Marbury 359
Gilbert Arenas 188
Kobe Bryant 159
Lebron James 71
Kevin Garnett 1
Tim Duncan 1*
Yao Ming 0

*"Kobe is a little too impatient and mercurial. Tim Duncan is so calm and composed, he gets suspended for laughing." So maybe really, 0. It should be 0.

So, as near as I can tell, a lot of my favorite players have a high Mercurialty. AI is in a class of his own, while Ron Artest (of course) and Rasheed Wallace are the only ones even in the neighborhood. What does this mean? Well, Mercuriality, it's important to note, doesn't reflect anything actually about the player, but rather merely about how people on the Internet talk about the player. So looking at this list, let's try to suss out what exact sense of mercurial these writers are getting at.

1. Of or pertaining to the god or planet Mercury.
I wish that we talked about basketball players in more astrological or classical terms. I feel like we don't get to hear enough basketball players described as "saturnine," though if I had to bet on it Anthony Randolph probably will be the first. Anyway, a prize to the first person who writes the definitive treatise on astrology and the NBA.

2. Erratic, volatile.
This is probably it, especially if you, emphasize the pejorative sense. I like almost every player high on this list, but I know they are not beloved by all of basketball. I know some people find their pugnaciousness and swagger distracting and Not the Right Way to play basketball, but I think it has it's place and shouldn't be separated from their game. The erratic volatility of AI is what lets him dream up such ridiculous crossovers, the mind-bending drives to the hoop. Rasheed Wallace and particularly Ron Artest thrive on the threat of barely contained violence as a part of their intimidating defensive games. But, fine, you don't want the technicals and you don't want the distractions. I respect that, I just don't agree.

3.Lively, quick-witted, spry.
In an ideal world, this is what I wish people were saying when they were describing players as "mercurial". I think this sense is a factor in what players get described as mercurial, but it's clearly a secondary factor to the volatile sense: focused and predictable psychopaths aren't labeled this way, note Kevin Garnett's low Mercuriality. Using only this sense though, we would all dream of our favorite teams point guard to be mercurial. As people use it now, I still wouldn't mind.

The truth of the matter is pretty simple. Chris Littmann, who writes over at The Baseline (and does great work, incidentally), referred to Ron Artest as a "mercurial forward" this past week, and I got all excited about seeing the cliche at use in the wild. I called him on it and he admitted what I guess we all really knew deep down, "I suppose it's the nicest way of saying "This guy is *&#$ing crazy."" Which, when you get right down to it, is almost all I really want out of my favorite players.

A player or team with high Mercuriality is still, almost certainly, worth following and watching. Post your findings and Mercuriality ratings in the comments.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ron Artest to Lakers and the Kobe Test

Well, my dreams of a super-posse to oppose the unstoppable Kobe Bryant that included mercurial forward Ron Artest have come to a swift end. Ron Artest has joined Kobe and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers. So what's the story now?

The story is now of two enemies, two rivals, two bitterly competitive and ruthless men joining forces to squash all competition. This is a more familiar super hero concept and is the plot of numerous comic book arcs. The other option was too interesting to be true. This is the way of the universe.

Now, Kobe and Ron Artest probably deserve each other as they are two of the only players in the NBA who can pass my newly invented Kobe Test. Using my highly scientific and revolutionary method of counting how many hits you get when you Google particular phrases, we can reach some pretty interesting conclusions. The Kobe Test is simple: Google the phrase "[player] is a sociopath". If you get any hits, then that player has passed the Kobe Test! In my brief, preliminary experiments, Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest are the ONLY players I could find that pass this test.

So there you go, the Lakers now have on their roster the two players that the Internet feels are most likely to be deeply and profoundly, mentally disturbed. Thanks for the insight, Internet!

UPDATE: Stephon Marbury passes the Kobe Test, albeit with a single hit. Hey, Lakers, he's available! Let me know who else passes.

The Anti-Kobe Society

The rumor that the Cleavland Cavaliers are making a bid for Ron Artest is a juicy one. First, from the basic, boring point of view where Lebron needs a better supporting cast, and surprisingly, he might be better off playing the power forward position than the small forward position, this is an intriguingly clever move.

The more exciting part about the trade is that it seems, along with the Shaq acquisition, designed to turn the Cleavland Cavaliers into a team designed for one very specific purpose: taking down Kobe. This is totally a comic book scenario. Artest, Shaq, and Lebron all have personal rivalries with Kobe. To put them together on one team with the expressed purpose of trying to take what belongs to Kobe (the championship)... well that's just too juicy. Kobe vs. Lebron spawned a whole series of ubiquitous commercials featuring puppets that talked and vitamins that were got. Shaq vs. Kobe has it's own Wikipedia page. This is seismic already. The playoffs are about as far away as they can be and I'm already tired about hearing about these two showdowns. But then you add in Ron Artest and Kobe's complicated relationship and the Kobe vs. Cavaliers rivalry will have reached operatic heights. I mean, really, do the Cavs have "bitter rivalry with Kobe Bryant" as one of their job qualifications? Will there be anyone left in the NBA with a bitter rivalry with Kobe who isn't on the Cavs?

What is the precise comic book analog for this? I know of lots of scenarios where the bad guys team up to fight the single good guy, but it seems rarer for three good guys to team up to fight a single evil (let's face it, when it comes to mythic storytelling, there is no way that Kobe is the good guy). This is such an over-the-top storyline for next season that I can't help but love it in all of it's glorious absurdity. If anyone can tell me what comic book they are ripping off for this storyline I'd be eternally grateful (Tangent: What super hero is Lebron?).