Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dodgeball with Deron and Kyle

The Utah Jazz are a team that's really easy to ignore. A competent, perennial playoff team with a rich sense of history and traditions, it remains, to me, one of the teams in the league that I care the least about. I know, I know: Stockton and Malone played here forever and they were great and it was awesome or whatever (despite never winning a championship). And yes, I know they do well and I know they have some great players. Consider Deron Williams: He's almost certainly the second best point guard in the league and, if you are an idiot or from Utah, perhaps the best point guard currently in the league. The point remains: The dude is really, really good. He's the only one even close to taking the mantle of best point-guard in the league from Chris Paul (and indeed, head-to-head, there's no point guard who I think Chris Paul fears more). That said, I find it hard to care about him. Why? Because of Utah's culture of dullness. No matter how scintillating Deron Williams is, he still plays in Utah, where the list of edgy activities includes drinking Coca-Cola, staying up past midnight, and being not-white. It's a hard shadow to escape from, and no matter how much of a baller I know he is, the dullness of Utah is such a powerful force that just manages to shut down whatever neurological receptors allow me to be interested in him or like him.

Now, consider Kyle Korver. There was basically no way I was going to like him, a corn-fed, God-fearing, white-boy spot-up shooter from the Midwest who is maybe best known for vaguely looking alternately like Ashton Kutcher and Jon Heder.

That being said, I kind of like both of them a lot now:

Apparently, as you might expect, the tournament filled up pretty quick, but there's a waiting list open. If I was in Utah, I'd totally sign up. Playing dodgeball with a couple of doofy millionaires for charity? Absolutely.

I wonder if this means I like the Jazz now? I don't know what to do about that.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Consider Danny Granger

Somehow this has escaped my notice: Danny Granger, small forward for the Indiana Pacers, NBA All-Star and reigning Most Improved Player, is kind of a nerd. Currently he's encountered problems constructing his new home, because Batcaves don't actually meet a lot of building codes:
I wanted an underground tunnel entrance. I had to take that out. I found out there's so many state codes and laws against that (laughing) so we had to take that one out. But we still have the underground thing going on and I mean I've got cars and things that turn my cars and I even got sort of like a moat thing going on so it will be interesting to see.

People have apparently been bothering Danny Granger for details about the Batcave ever since he tossed out this idea in a very revealing interview where he let his nerd flag fly. Not only does he reveal some slightly nerdy hobbies and interests, but he also shows off what a smart and nice guy he is. He may now be one of my favorite players. The interview is worth reading in it's entirety, but here are some highlights:

On Lord of the Rings:
I'm really into Lord of the Rings right now. I've bought each movie at least twice because every time I'm in the store I pick it out because I couldn't find my other one so I get it again. I'm actually watching the second one right now but I've watched them over and over again. As the video games, I play online. The multiplayer games where you play with other people around the world and stuff. I'm really into the whole storyline of that.

On the ever-popular-in-the-NBA Superman:
I've just always been into mythical stuff. Stuff that wasn't really real – fantasy, which is why I was always into Superman and superheroes, stuff that kind of takes you out of this world. I really was into it. I have a robe with the Superman emblem on it. There's about a 6-foot or 7-foot figure of Superman I've always wanted to get. But it would just look really weird in my house. I was thinking of having one of those statues made with me in the suit. I don't know how much it would cost but I really want to do it with me in the suit. That would be pretty cool. I'm going to have to work on that.

There's also a really neat section where he talks about his college experience and his time spent studying engineering, and his apparently really sincere interest and love of engineering.

An excerpt:
My focus changed. My whole approach to college was to use my basketball ability to get my degree. That's what I really wanted to do. I loved engineering. But I when got good at basketball – I kind of got good out of nowhere. I wasn't really expecting that. But I was winning awards and I was just a freshman and a sophomore. Then I was like, "I can probably go to the NBA." Then my focus switched.

Then there is this bizarre series of questions where the interviewer seems to be really pressing Danny Granger on being a nerd. He asks those borderline-asshole questions that just make him seem like he really looks down on the fact that Danny is smart and interested in lots of things other than basketball. Danny answers the question pretty perfectly though and really makes the interviewer seem like a bit of a dick.

Q. On a scale of one to 10 how nerdy are you do you think?
A. I can't be that nerdy. I'm in the NBA. I know what you mean, though. I don't think there's anything wrong with being nerdy. I'm not a genius that's going to hack a computer and all kinds but when it comes to knowing things I've always prided myself in educating myself. So I would say seven.

Q. A lot of kids are into the science stuff and have to wear the glasses. What would you say to them?
A. Go for it. That's what it's all about, if that's what interests you. It interested me and I don't care what people call me. Build stuff, put something together electronically. If you want to design a building that's what you do. You don't worry about what other people say about you. Go for it. You do what you go to do.

Couple that with Danny Granger throwing in a really cute interlude about how and his fiance love to play Rock Band together, and you get the portrait of a really nice, smart dude who happens to be a great baller. Again, the interview is worth checking out in it's entirety.

Danny Granger is a nerd, but he's totally cool, and I salute him. I now dream that somehow he and Marvin Williams (Love in the Time of Lebron designated supernerd) will find themselves on the same team or at least in the same guild.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Consider Chris Kaman

Love in the Time of Lebron has been on an impromptu hiatus lately, due to the fact that it's the slowest time of the year in basketball and I've been busy with some other stuff, including a bunch of half-finished posts. In the meantime, I would merely ask that you spend some time thinking about talented Clippers center, Chris Kaman. Here are some facts about Chris you might not know: He runs his own trucking business. He is a spokesperson for children misdiagnosed with ADHD. He is fond of archery, military grade firearms, and expensive fireworks.

NOTE: Some of these videos seem to be too big for my cramped narrow-column layout. Watching them at their YouTube home might be best for all parties. Sorry!

Chris Kaman's Backyard Fireworks

Chris Kaman's Weapons Test

Chris Kaman's Trucking, Archery, etc.

The highlight for me is Sam Cassell's response in the last video. Also, I enjoy the fact that the players all seem deeply annoyed by Elie Seckbach. This is just one more thing I share with NBA players.

Anyway, as a bonus, I leave you with the wise words of Business Lebron: "Dunk contests are bourgeois."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Twitter Sorrow I Have Known

Already, the Golden Era of NBA Twitter is drawing to a close. For less than one full season, there was a blossoming of unfettered contact between athletes and fans: silly messages abounded, zen-like koans were uttered (mostly by Shaq), and lots of people got to learn when there favorite players were done lifting weights. I, for one, really appreciated all of the silliness.

It looks like it's over though. Players are tired of the silly, stupid, or impolitic things they put on their Twitter showing up on ESPN. Soon, all the players will still have Twitters, but they will carefully be managed by their publicists firm. You can see some of this already, in fact. Exacerbated by Marbury's Twitter-abetted melt-down and the on-going conversation about the proper role of players' online behavior, J.R. Smith, my favorite remorseless, ultra-athletic shooting guard with infinite range took down his Twitter after allegations of gang-related orthography in his Twitter posts. I know, right?

Shoal takes on the topic of Internet related missteps over at the Baseline in a nice piece that optimistically imagines a future where the players still Twitter, but they do so thoughtfully, with an awareness that waht they say will be reported and, indeed, make news. I think this view makes the mistake of assuming that teams, agents, publicists, and the League itself trusts it's talent enough to not make asses of themselves. I think an army of publicist-manned NBA Twitters is probably heading towards the shore as we speak. In any case, players are certainly headed towards guarding what they more carefully.

This brings us to the part of the story dealing with one, Rashad McCants. For those of you who don't know, Rashad was a cold-hearted scoring machine on 2005 NCAA Championship team for the University of North Carolina. He did a long stint on the Timberwolves before being traded to the Sacramento Kings midway through this season. Currently, he is an unrestricted free agent looking for a deal. In the NBA, Rashad has mostly been instant offense off the bench, looked upon as a second-string, borderline first string shooting guard who can make buckets like it's nobody's business. In a lot of ways, his team role is similar to that of fellow free agents, Flip Murray and Von Wafer. That's not the point though.

The point is, Rashad has a Twitter. Cautious, Rashad protected his Twitter so that only approved parties could see his updates. He then undercut this step by approving everyone, which was great, because Rashad had lots of interesting things to say and lots of sincere questions to ask. Furthermore, he wore his real feelings and emotions on his sleeve. All his followers knew about his frustration about not being signed. Example Tweet:

"just wondering? do u guys think im kinda crazy in some way? like a bad boy? its what I hear why teams wont sign me. its funny but i wana know."

"Just finished lifting.. Feels good to be in great shape.. What free agent sg out there ever avg more then 10ppg?"

In all fairness, I can't seem to find these Tweets up anymore. It looks like Rashad deleted them after they were reported a couple of places and Hoopshype added his Twitter to their nifty mass NBA player Twitter-aggregator. While Rashad initially seemed happy and positive about the attention his Twitter was getting, clearly something changed when he noticed that a lot of the attention wasn't positive. He posted a couple of times about the frustration he had about some of the articles, though those seem to have been deleted too. Finally, enough was enough and Rashad created a new Twitter account and invited "those who love my twits." The need to watch what one says in public had claimed another victim.

This now brings us to the personal part of the story. I love Rashad. He was a hero of that 2005 UNC team, which meant a great deal to me, and yeah, I thought the enigmatic bad-boy thing was cool. I still reread his SI cover story from 2004 every now and then ("Many Moves, Many Moods" (seriously)). The point is, I loved Rashad's twits. I really did. He was really responsive to his followers on Twitters and would even try to follow anyone who messaged him. He asked advice often and seemed to read and respond to as much as he could. Hell, I even Twittered at him a few times with what I thought were nice and supportive messages. Surely, I would be approved to follow him on his new account. I was a true fan, I was a supporter, and on some minor tangential level, I considered myself a very, very minor friend. Naive, I know.

Anyway, you know where this story is going right? Rashad's new username is Sozeperme and when I requested to follow him, I was flatly rejected. Three times ( I had to make sure!). That's cool, I understood: "Surely he wants to just keep it to his family and close friends." Which is why when my friend Brittany told me that Rashad had not only permitted her to follow him but had returned the favor and started following her, I was kind of crushed. If by kind of crushed we mean totally devastated. Maybe it was just a coincidence? Another request denial coldly limned on my laptop screen didn't help to set the record straight. Why on Earth is Brittany allowed in and I'm not? She doesn't know and love Rashad the way I do!

I simultaneously developed two theories. Theory One: Rashad looked at my Twitter and saw all the posts about the NBA and assumed (correctly) that I'm the kind of jerk sports blogger who would write extensively about his Twitter. Good call, there Rashad! Theory Two: The only strangers that Rashad wanted to talk to were girls. This theory was confirmed scientifically when my friend, Breniecia, was also confirmed while once more I was left out in the cold. Having no evidence to disprove either theory I'm going to assume both are correct and draw conclusions from each of them.

Conclusion One: Love in the Time of Lebron has really made it! Rashad is afraid of the potential for a scathing expose! CREDIBILITY! HOO-RAY!

Conclusion Two: If you want to follow Rashad McCants on Twitter then you should try being a girl. Attractive if possible.

Crucially, the first conclusion allows me to find a silver lining in the storm cloud of Rashad's callous and heart-breaking rejection and come away from this thing feeling alright. The second just seems like solid advice. So there you have it. Now a some words for Rashad:

Rashad, for what it's worth, you did hurt my feelings a little bit, but I think I'm going to be okay. I wish you all the luck in the future and am happy to hype you up: You are still a solid player who packs a sick offensive punch (GMs and associates, check out his sick Per36 stats; the dude is a hoss). Lots of teams would be lucky to have you, and I hope you get signed soon. And, in the event, that your feelings change, my Twitter is

PS: Rashad has a totally respectable mercuriality of 96. That's better than Lebron. Respect.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tuesday Odds and Ends: Now What? Edition

I think this pretty much will reveal that I'm doing too much reading and not enough writing. In today's gripping installment of Odds and Ends we bring you the following topics: Network theory, dishes made from Krispy Kreme, domain name hustling, Legos and then you know some stuff actually about basketball and Love in the Time of Lebron heroes.

Chris Paul's Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding
Chris Paul is the best point guard on the planet right now. This is indisputable. When all is said and done, he may go down as the best point guard to ever play. His favorite dish contains 24 Krispy Kreme donuts and 15,000 calories. The recipe and story are here. Suck it, Michael Phelps.

Mark Madsen Used to Own
In the "No, Really" department, former Timberwolf and current Clipper Mark Madsen is a key player in the first arrest for domain name theft. Basically, Mark Madsen paid about $100,000 to buy, which allegedly had been stolen from some other guy. Why is Mark Madsen buying domain names? Because this is what he does. He buys and sells domain names. Seriously, this is his hobby. Highlights: and, yes,

How Network Theory Explains the Ewing Theory
There is sports writer you may know about. His name is Bill Simmons. He has an idea, called the Ewing Theory. Basically, the Ewing Theory says that under certain circumstances a team will play much better without their star player. Why does this happen? Really interesting article that manages to incorporate network theory, the price of anarchy, the Nash Equilibrium, and shit-talking about my beloved Allen Iverson. Read it here. Fact of the Day: Nash Equilibrium not named after Steve Nash's work in the field of game theory.

Starbury is put into context be new favorite John Krolik here. It's the long-form contextual article that I wanted all along. Also, Shoals.

Haven't read enough about the Okafor for Chandler trade yet? Good. Here are some attempts to justify the trade for Charlotte: Basketball Prospectus says, "Look at the numbers: I think Charlotte actually won this one." Bobcats Planet says, "If you spin around three times and squint you can sort of see why this trade makes sense!"

Soooo, can the Bobcats sign AI now? Bobcats Baseline throws out some hypotheticals here, but doesn't really give enough credence to a Felton and Iverson backcourt. Barkley's Mouth is incredulous that AI doesn't have a deal yet.

Dream boy, Tyler Hansbrough aggravated an old injury. He will now have more time to visit all the women of Chapel Hill's dreams so they can dream about feeling awkward and ambivalent about dating such a bizarre angry manchild.

Nerdy starter Marvin Williams re-signed with the Hawks after an awkward free-agency period. His deal includes all the season of the X-Files on DVD as well as the entire series run of The Lone Gunmen.

BONUS: Here are 100 awesome dunks from last season. This is the only link you will click.

DOUBLE BONUS: Here is a blog filled with pictures of Lego-based Allen Iverson dioramas. This is only link you need to click.