Friday, June 25, 2010

My Drunk Girlfriend Watches the NBA Draft

Well, the NBA season is over, but the NBA off-season has just begun! After such a stunning and surely predictive Mock Draft, it feels like I'd be doing you a great disservice if I didn't cover how the actual thing went down. Then I had an ideaL why should I cover it when I can get Elizabeth to get tipsy and cover it for me? It worked so well for the play-offs, after all. So here you go: Elizabeth and I blog the 2010 NBA Draft.

ES: John Wall is the only man here I know much about (OK, I only know this), though that seems like enough. This is the only time in history that my assessment of the most desirable player (always determined by whose name I can remember first, or at all) matches up with the experts’.

ES: Gordon Hayward: a douchebag? My time-tested “snap judgments based on nothing but a fleeting and totally uninformed first impression” meter is going wild in that direction.
KC: He’s apparently a very nice young man.
ES: That’s what you say about Steve Nash, too. Well. Not the young part.

ES: I really liked it a few minutes ago when they showed them all lined up like a bunch of girls getting their group prom photos taken. Coincidentally, the awkward expressions on these guys’ faces suggest that prom was actually the last time any of them wore a suit.
KC: Right. Because that was just one year ago. They are babies.

ES: Gordon Hayward seems a little sweeter now that he’s perched uncomfortably in a way-too-small armchair, but he still seems like he would fingerbang your daughter.
ES: You don’t know what he does in that minivan.
KC: You are gross.

ES: I missed that whole last bit. Was that Demarcus Cousins? He just brought the uncomfortable hover-lean to national television. He surrounded the lady who was interviewing him on two sides.
KC: He’s the best for basketball fan-fiction.
ES: I have my own basketball fan-fiction about him, but it’s a bit personal. SORRY
KC: I would have figured you for more of a John Wall type. The more you know.
ES: I didn’t say it was just Cousins in there.
KC: I really hope by “in there” you mean your head. At this point I will remind and link everyone to your Tyler Hansbrough dream. He’s a Pacer, Elizabeth. A PACER!

ES: The Bulls’ logo: so very angry! It scares me, hovering over that anchor’s head.
KC: This is a scintillating discussion of the salary cap and luxury tax. I’m sure you are paying attention.
ES: I just heard them say “role-players” and I thought of me, John Wall, and Demarcus Cousins.
KC: I bet you are the chatoic good elven cleric. Wall is obviously the Wizard. Demarcus Cousins might be King. (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?)
ES: I would look the other way, but I’m already having a hard enough time typing straight.

ES: Look, the overhead lighting is like prom, too!
KC: Have you seen their official pictures yet? Check it. Though not for too long. THERE IS SO MUCH MYSTERY IN THESE FIRST PICKS.

KC: I love the intro.
ES: I am very much appreciating whoever it is they show from behind in front of the window and in front of the bridge. For their talent.
KC: Wow, Stern boos already. Keep it classy, New York. Oh nice, he shouts out the unruly fans. Well-played Stern.

ES: They’re showing the Wizards. “Gotta wonder what they’re doing in there,” say the anchors. Looks like... looking at computers, talking on the phone, and looking real pleased with themselves? We got the camera in there, y’all.
KC: Arenas + Wall = Awesome. It’s basic math, you guys.
ES: Did that one commentator just say that someone is named Bloodso? It actually sounded like “Bloodsoap,” but I know the universe is not that kind.
KC: Bledsoe. You know, like the common name.
ES: No fun.

KC: Wow, what a surprise, John Wall. What do you think of the hat wearing thing they do? And by hat thing, I mean, “wearing a cap of the team that drafts them.”
ES: It’s cute, and while I’d be a little skeptical of it on a sartorial level if anyone else were involved, for most of these guys it seems to actually improve the suit by canceling it out. John Wall, however, is a well dressed man, though his many stripes at different angles make me a bit dizzy. His eyes and earring, too. By the way, that took me a really long time to type, because I was captivated by the text zooming powerpointedly across the screen.

ES: Yeah, now we know why his suit actually looks good.

ES: I feel like I met Evan Turner at a Future Upstanding Citizens of America event. The glasses cinch it. Note: I would never be invited to such an event.
KC: Wait. Why were you there?
ES: OH MY GOD. Does he have laser-cone vision? Because they just showed that coming out of his eyes.
KC: Yes. It’s his superpower.
ES: He used up all that magic before he decided to button up over that long-ass tie.

ES: Who is this orange guy talking? Yeah, we get that you were drafted by the 76ers in about 12 BC.
KC: It’s Doug Colling, and um, yeah, he’s also the coach of that team.
ES: He’s still orange. Also: Evan Turner’s mom looking good! I like that bright color.
KC: But not when people have bright orange skin? Hypocrite.

KC: Guess no one traded for the spot. Nets keeping Favors. Interesting. I was really hoping they would make the trade to free Danny Granger from the Pacers, but alas, he languishes in basketball purgatory. Oh well.

KC: Thoughts on Wesley Johnson’s pants?
ES: Guess who wore pajamas to the draft?! I guess he thought they weren’t going to show up from the waist down? This isn’t school picture day.
KC: Right. It’s prom.

KC: Oh. John Wall Reebok ZigTech commercial. Pretty cool, but “Energy drink for your feet” is a terrible slogan. It makes me think of drinking something that tastes like feet. You know, like energy drinks. Also, I DO like the making an announcement noise they play before Stern speaks. Really great.
ES: It’s like someone’s cellphone is going off. Someone who’s texting, “What the hell is going on?” Also, they should fire whoever is adding the dynamic text to these highlight reels.
KC: Making you dizzy, drunkles?
ES: Making no sense! I thought we as a nation had moved on from wordart.

ES: Anchor to Cousins: “You look good rocking that purple, too.” STOP PEDDLING LIES. Also, “I’m just a kid having fun,” is a little weird coming from a giant.
KC: He is 19. As for the shirt, II think he was just buttering him up. He immediately called Cousins heavy after the compliment.
ES: There’s nothing quite as slimming as shiny lavender.

KC: We knew it was coming but this Ekpe Udoh pick to the Warriors really hurts Ed Davis’s chances of getting drafted early, unless Utah goes with him.
ES: Finally, someone drafts a three-piece suit. I approve. Also, I like when the other players in a draftee’s highlight reel are just terrible. Example: the pasty redhead dropping the ball in terror as Udoh approaches.

KC: No surprises at all so far. Pistons just drafted Monroe, Clippers probably a lock to draft Aminu. Utah is the first unknown. Fingers crossed for Ed Davis. He would get to be Millsapp’s Millsapp if you know what I mean.

ES: I really don’t. Also, I’m a bit surprised, surprised that everyone present appears to be capable of dressing themselves. I was led to expect something along the lines of this. Then again, that may have been wishful thinking on my part.
KC: It’s a down year for Draft Night fashion. No James Harden style bowties. On a similar note, a lack of quality beards. Sorry, Greg Monroe, just not good enough.

KC: Okay, Aminu. I take it back. Nice. Also, according to schedule.
ES: First hipster of the night. Where are the skinny dudes holding up ironic signs to celebrate?
KC: Do you not know? This is a really common NBA look. LeBron dresses that way. Same with Amar’e and many others. Not a hipster thing.
ES: I have, in fact, seen that. Also: cutest family of the draft?
KC: Let’s wait and see. Also, Aminu looks like Dwight Howard a lot. “Clark Kent” as a nickname?
ES: You can call him that if you like, but my nicknames don’t work like that. My nicknames are fueled by some combination of booze, hate, tenderness, and fear, and not much more than that.
KC: Somewhere, Baby Dragon smiled.
ES: Kellen, I really do love you, but if I could make Baby Dragon smile...
KC: I understand.

KC: Utah picks Gordon Hayward. This probably means Ed Davis slides a lot. Bet you Pacers pick Babbit. Incidentally, his nickname is “Other White Guy in the Draft.” You know Gordon Hayward has a twin sister? True fact.
ES: I bet you someone picks... someone. I am not going to bet you anything. I don’t know what’s going on.
ES: I beg forgiveness for all of my hateful comments about Gordon Hayward. His eighth grade picture is certifiably The Cutest. OK. Not as cute as Aminu’s little brother. Well. Maybe. It’s a draw.

KC: Wow. Paul George to the Pacers. Didn’t see that one coming. Especially since he seems really similar to Danny Granger. Maybe they will move Granger yet? I hope so. FREE DANNY!
ES: Nor did I see the chain-behind-the-tie thing coming, but I love it so much. Best-dressed in the draft?
KC: Wall and Aminu got my votes currently. Sorry.
ES: I guess they have mine too, but that chain was just brilliant. Maybe this is an example of how he has great potential but has to mature?

KC: Cole Aldrich to New Orleans. Interesting. Seems a bit early for him, but okay: Let’s go for the guy missing a tooth by choice. Ahhhh, there it is: it was part of a trade to the Thunder. The Thunder need a center like that. Nice.

ES: Inside the mind of Xavier Henry: “Do I need to button my jacket now that I’m going onstage? Maybe just one button? What did John Wall do?”
KC: I love the green tie and suit. He has a Danny Green smile. Also, best name of the draft.
ES: Both he and his mom are crying! New favorite.
KC: The Mom Factor is big for you, huh?

KC: YES! Ed got drafted! NO! He’s now on the Raptors.
ES: Dinosaurs are noble as shit, and so is UNC. A good match on that level. Also, he is handsome. More handsome than a raptor, probably, but most definitely more handsome than a ram or a dirty foot, and that discrepency never held him back at UNC.
KC: Huh. Well, he’ll likely start. I think everyone has accepted that Bosh ain’t coming back. And also, Ed’s dad had a goddamn sweet high top.
ES: Ed Davis’s suit isn’t as flashy, but he looks so goddamn cool.
KC: Oh! Ed Davis’s favorite player is Chris Bosh! That’s goddamn adorable.
ES: I really would have enjoyed it if he’d responded to that “What do you know about Toronto?” question with all sorts of hesitant answers about the city. “Um... it’s surprisingly cosmopolitan, they shoot a lot of TV shows there... and I think G20 is going on there now?” I guess I can accept that he actually had a response relevant to the context, but I can still dream of a better world.
KC: I would have liked it if he gave everyone an elaborate lesson in the history of Toronto, starting with it’s founding to the present day. Everyone would be so confused.

KC: “Patrick Patterson is an absolute man.” True or false? Whatever, the result, maybe the worst suit of the draft?
ES: It’s like drapes, but drapes I would burn and then blame on a ghost.
KC: Do ghosts often burn drapes? I was not aware of that legend.
ES: I won’t blame them when you’re around, then. When is this over?
KC: Only 44 more picks!
ES: Um...
KC: I’m excited too! Have another beer!

ES: What draftee doesn’t show up to the draft?!
KC: Lots of them. It’s more embarrassing if you show up and they don’t draft you. Cf. Prom.
ES: When they start choosing people who expected to be embarrassed by not being chosen, I feel like that’s my cue to start packing up.
KC: I can just see you calculating how many episodes of LOST you could be watching instead.

KC: Oh, nice. Bulls draft Kevin Seraphin! This is a nice, savvy choice. I thought the Spurs or Thunder would steal him. Wait. I’m an idiot. This is actually the Wizards pick. Huh.
ES: And so stylishly dressed, too!
KC: Thunder should take Hassan Whiteside and team him with Serge Ibaka. Every shot that can be blocked shall be blocked.
ES: I don’t know who any of these people are, but their names are good enough to carry entire teams of dudes with dull names.
KC: Not a lot of foreign players in this years draft. Kind of odd. It feels like it’s been 80% American power forwards. Has a second point guard been taken yet?

KC: ...and Eric Bledsoe taken on cue.
KC: Yes. Bloodsoap. Apparently there are a lot of trades going on right now. Thunder make the pick, which I thought was already being shipped to New Orleans, but apparently Bloodsoap is actually ending up on the Clippers. Huh.
ES: Would I know about this stuff if I were actually listening to the parts with dumpy old men instead of tall and bright young ones?
KC: Actually, no. ESPN is a little slow tonight. Twitter got all the deets before Stuart Scott knows anything. I apologize for saying “deets.”
ES: When you’re twiddling and tweeting, it’s “context.” When I am, it’s apparently “distraction.” What a double standard.
KC: Sorry, I can’t help it that I am a CHAMPION LEAGUE INTERNETTER. Want to see some Twitter-sourced magic? The Spurs will picks James Anderson.
ES: I don’t believe in magic.

KC: Spurs pick James Anderson. MAGIC IS REAL. The verdict is still out on whether the Orlando Magic is real though.
ES: The Orlando Magic has been dead to me ever since you pointed out the probably-really-obvious connection between Orlando Magic and Orlando Disney. I hope someone will tell them I said that, because we’re not talking anymore.
KC: I would if I could prove they existed.

KC: Elizabeth, why don’t you share your strong feelings about Craig Brackins?
ES: He is certainly... a person.
KC: Love in the Time of LeBron: Analysis you can’t get anywhere else.

ES: Biggest disappointment of the night: No one is terrifying. When does that change from dopey to devilish happen, exactly? Terrifying bald giant of Cleveland, if you are reading this, could you let me know about that? Also, Steve Nash, you get back to me, too.
KC: Steve Nash is just a nice guy, Elizabeth. He just hosted a charity soccer game! In any case, to address your question: People expect Brian Zoubek and John Scheyer to be drafted in the second round.
ES: Terrifying and gross are different things, Kellen. And I can’t help that I am flooded with a pure and primal fear when I gaze upon Steve Nash’s weathered visage. If he is such a nice guy, I know he understands, or at least forgives me. Right, Steve?
Steve Nash: I never forgive, Elizabeth.
KC: If you choose to underestimate Steve Nash’s hacking skills, that’s on you. I have nothing but respect for you, Mr. Nash.

KC: Disappointed Hawks fans are the best part of the night. Also, Damion James finally brings a quality beard to this oddly clean-shaven draft.
ES: Now that a quality beard has shown up, I think I can leave you without guilt. Embarrassingly, this is when I have to go to bed. I suppose I can expect nightmares now that we’re talking about Steve Nash. Great timing there.
KC: You could wait to have nightmares about Artsiom Parakhouski. I am told that is a player likely to be drafted. Surely terrifying though. Well thanks for helping me with this crucial and important coverage. The basketball bloggoverse surely thanks you! Goodnight!
Steve Nash: Goodnight, Elizabeth.
ES: Goddamnit.

KC: Just me from here on out. Also, I take it back: Best part of night is Grizzlies fan mouthing, “I don’t know who he is,” when they announce the Dominique Jones pick.

I can’t decide if Xavier Henry or Quincy Poindexter is a better name. Great draft for people who sound like their names are fake. Looking at you, Kevin Seraphin.

I didn’t realize that someone had brought a vuvuzela. I welcome their coming ubiquity. With that said, I expect my draft notes to slow down drastically at this point. Still lots of intriguing players available, and I’ve got to hope someone gives Deon a chance. If someone gives Marcus a chance, that would be icing.

Magnum Rolle makes a late bid for the best name in the draft. In a bitter turn of events, neither Marcus nor even Deon was drafted. In a sweet turn of events, neither Zoubek or Scheyer were drafted either. We'll call the whole affair bittersweet and eagerly await the free-agency apocalypse and the end of days. Also, serious propers to Jose3030 on Twitter for all the screen captures. Don't follow the NBA without following him.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

2010 Love in the Time of Lebron Mock Draft

Last year, I unleashed the finest mock draft this world has ever seen, filled with cunning insight and clever advice. For the record, the actual number one pick of the 2009 NBA Draft didn’t play a single game this season, yet my suggestion is setting all sorts of franchise records for rookie debuts. Tough luck, Clippers: I told you to go for Stephen Strasburg. In any event more wisdom for the ages can be found below.

1. Wizards
Do the John Wall. It’s the dance craze that is sweeping the nation and our dreams. I will say this as plainly as I can: I love two point guard line-ups with all my heart, and I love Gilbert Arenas with something else. If Wizards can land Amar’e in the off-season, they once again become one of my absolute favorite teams. If the Magic actually go through with a Vince Carter trade for Gil, I still stand by everything I just said.

2. 76ers
You know what you can’t coach? Height, athleticism, toughness, and heart. There are just certain intrinsic qualities that are scarce and valuable in the NBA. At some point, it’s okay to ignore the guy with the most skills and instead get the guy with the most intrinsic ability and best intangibles and hope that the skills develop. That’s what you pay coaches for, right? So, here, I think the 76ers take a gamble: Ma-Ti, the Planeteer. Sure, he may not have height, athleticism, or toughness, but no one beats him in the “heart” department, and you just can’t coach that. A pretty clear case of tremendous potential upside.

3. Nets
Here’s something that’s fun: go through an entire season with one of the worst records in the entire history of the NBA and get screwed by ending up with the third pick. John Wall should rightfully play for the Nets! There is only one logical route to vengeance. Upstage his dance craze. Now while there are some concerns that this prospect is already past their peak, the Nets stand firm: New Jersey would like to draft Souljah Boy. The rest of the league would like to groan loudly.

4. Timberwolves
If we learned anything from last year’s draft, it’s that David Kahn loves to draft point guards. It’s obvious but true. There is an important corollary to this rule: the only thing he loves more than drafting a point guard is drafting a point guard who won’t actually play in Minnesota. That being said, the Timberwolves should go for the best available option: Chris Paul. BONUS: For their other two first round picks, Kahn asks himself the hard question, “Who is the next best unavailable point guard?” And that’s how Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo were drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves and I decided that the NBA would be fine with only 29 teams.

5. Kings
I’ve heard somewhere that you can use a number of mind tricks and brash confidence to just take what you want from people and have them go along with it. It’s uncanny to watch Derren Brown pay people with blank paper and have them simply accept it blindly, as if it were perfectly normal. It’s amazing how a little bit of patter, confusion, and distraction can make a mind more willing to accept the impossible, isn’t it? Incidentally, the Kings draft LeBron James. But yeah, the human mind, surely a susceptible thing.

6. Warriors
If you would like to read my Demarcus Cousins fanfiction, please email me at I will happily send you a story about Cousins’ occult initiation into the Warriors at the hands of Anthony Randolph. I am serious.

7. Pistons
The Pistons are still in this league? Seriously? Wow. Wait who is Jonas Jerebko? Shit. Umm, okay. How about Greg Monroe? Yeah. That dude.

8. Clippers
Donald Sterling doesn’t have a great reputation, but he is an innovator. The Clippers burned by their lack of draft success in the past have devised a new system to ensure future success. In traditional systems, the team pays the player a sum that is determined by their contract. Under the Clippers new system the newly drafted player would be placed at the bottom of the Clippers Pyramid of Winning. The Pyramid of Winning is a hierarchical system that rewards loyalty and contributions to the Clipper Organization while granting newly drafted rookies the success and wealth they want without having to try or even play. Newly drafted rookies put themselves at the bottom of the pyramid and then send a hundred dollar bill to everyone above them on the pyramid. Each year, the rookie gets to move themselves up a tier on the pyramid. This means, that in a few short years, a rookie drafted by the Clippers will be making an extravagant amount of money and managing the whole organization without having spent a single minute on the court! Amazing! To participate, please send the money to all the people above you in the pyramid and then prepare to draft three rookies of your own in the coming year. Great job with the innovation, Donald!

9. Jazz
Tough-minded couch Jerry Sloan is always looking for defensive talent. This year he hoped to convince the ownership to draft for defense. For weeks now, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth had been on top of their draft board based on his size and physical play, but recent revelations about his intangibles, namely lack of cooperation and diva tendencies have caused the Jazz to go in a different direction. Arguably selecting the best defensive player in America, the Jazz pick Tim Howard, whose goal keeping experience is a huge plus, though worries about his tendency to goal-tend nearly every shot at the net remain.

10. Pacers
Listen: you know the joke I am going to make here. Of course it’s about how the Pacers like to draft white players. You know why? Of course you do; we all know why. The Pacers have recently drafted/traded for a bunch of white players and there’s a feeling that it’s a weird racial subtextual response to the brawl at the Palace and, well, the fact that they play in Indiana. We should be calling out Indiana on how fucked up this is that they seem to be deliberately engaging in a policy of picking less talented white players over better black players. Making a lame joke about how the Pacers seem kind of racist is the very least we can do to call attention to this fairly disturbing fact.

So, long story short, the Pacers are almost certainly going to draft Gordon Hayward.

11. Hornets
The Hornets want a sound pick, but they also want to make a scene on draft day. So, I think they go for a pick that has the most buzz: the vuvuzela. In other news, I am so sorry.

12. Grizzlies
It’s no secret that Michael Heisley, the majority owner of the Grizzlies is a big fan of saving money. Having to pay a first round lottery pick is expensive business, so many in the Grizzlies organization have suggested trying to sell/get rid of the pick. The thinking is that you let the teams that are willing to pay so much money for the right at the main courses go ahead and dig in and then scrounge for leftovers. You see, the point is, even after the other teams have had their picks, there’s still plenty of meat on that bone: you take this home, throw it in a pot, add some broth, a potato; baby, you got a stew goin’.

13. Raptors
You know who has an awesome name? The Toronto Raptors. I know some people think it’s kind of silly and lacks the timeless and classic feel of other team names, but honestly, NBA team names are kind of terrible. Sure, most people don’t see any logical connection between Toronto and raptors, but there isn’t a logical connection between Utah and jazz is there? Don’t worry about it: The Raptors have a great name. You know who else has an awesome name: Xavier Henry. Just saying.

14. Rockets
The Rockets have only had three lottery picks in the past ten years. The players they selected were Richard Jefferson, Yao Ming, and Rudy Gay. Not bad at all. Everyone knows the Rockets are one of the smartest teams in the NBA. If they use this pick on a player, take note of this player. On the other hand, Daryl Morey has a real talent for turning picks into real assets quickly. Look for him to use a recursive function or possibly some sort of geometric series to increase the picks of the Houston rockets to a value rapidly approaching either infinity or Hassan Whiteside.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Love in the Time of LeBron NBA Awards

It’s the end of the season, and what a season it was. The lovable underdogs, the Los Angeles Lakers took home the championship and the Summer of 2010 is about to descend in all of it’s apocalyptic fury. Incidentally, one year ago on this very day, this blog started with a vision of human sacrifice performed by a back-up for the Minnesota Timberwolves. We have come so far since then. Let’s celebrate with the first annual Love in the Time of LeBron NBA Awards. Yes, we are doing this. Yes.

All Fallen Heroes Team
This is the team of my five favorite players who were once truly great but saw terrible decline this season. Either felled by their own tragic flaws, the indifference of a cruel universe, or the sapping, and unrelenting force of age and time, some of my absolute favorite players became shadows of themselves this past season, and left me sad. The flickering torches of true and genuine greatness must be passed before they extinguish. We grow old, we grow old, and we wearour trousers like damn fools. For the heroes.

PG Gilbert Arenas
SG Allen Iverson
SF Vince Carter
PF Kevin Garnett
C Shaquille O’Neal

All Nerd Team
Just a bunch of nice guys who leave their comics, videogames, Rubik's cubes, and blogs. Oh and Steve Nash. Sure, Steve Nash isn’t nerdy in those same terms, but he’s deeply silly, and well, I mean c’mon.

PG Steve Nash
SG Danny Granger
SF Marvin Williams
PF Channing Frye
C Brook Lopez

Creepy Cerebral Team
Not nerds, but (potentially) evil geniuses. This team would pick you apart so fast that you couldn’t help but feel naked. Some of the most ruthlessly gifted players in the league, but also uncannily bright. Imagine the team meetings.

PG Steve Nash
SG Kobe Bryant
SF Shane Battier
PF Tim Duncan
C Emeka Okafor

Total Badass Team
Be honest with me. Would you mess with a single guy on this team? Note, four out of five made the Finals and the other went to jail. Just saying.

PG Gilbert Arenas
SG Kobe Bryant
SF Ron Artest
PF Kevin Garnett
C Rasheed Wallace

All Nemesis Team
If you have the ball, who do you not want to see defending you? These guys. Not quite the all-defensive team, but rather a collection of the peskiest defenders in the league who pride themselves in getting under your skin an inside your head. Varejao must exemplifies that attitude and Sasha and Birdman combine that with certain magical quality that just make people hate them. Rondo and Wallace are legitimately great defenders by everyone’s accounting, but they bring a certain stony athletic quality that scares their opponents. I love that.

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Sasha Vujacic
SF Gerald Wallace
PF Anderson Varejao
C Chris Anderson

Pure Joy Team
I love watching these five guys. Wish they were in every game. They play brilliant, joyful basketball and remind me of the full potential of the NBA. Also, maybe just a coincidental fact, but nice smiles all round. Think about it.

PG Chris Paul
SG Ray Allen
SF LeBron James
PF Josh Smith
C Dwight Howard

Can We Hang Out Team?
Simply put, the guys in the NBA who I want to hang out with. Dudes who just seem cool, nice, and relatively down to Earth for ridiculously talented millionaires. Maybe not the ultimate list of dudes who you’d want to hit the club, but definitely the dudes who I’d want to go to a barbecue with. Another name for this list might be, “Why I’m Not Bill Simmons.”

PG Steve Nash
SG Baron Davis
SF Caron Butler
PF Channing Frye
C Brook Lopez

All Bench Team
Personal and sentimental favorites who could totally start for lots of teams. They are all starters in my heart.

PG Ty Lawson
SG Goran Dragic
SF Martel Webster
PF Marcin Gortat
C Channing Frye

Gimme Some More Team
We didn’t get to see very much of these guys this season, and that’s a shame because the are all awesome or dripping with awesome potential. Injuries and a lack of national TV coverage did these guys in.

PG Chris Paul
SG Kevin Martin
SF Gerald Wallace
PF Blake Griffin
C Greg Oden

Hipster Team
Not necessarily made up of hipsters, but full of “underground,” “buzz,” and “cult” picks. One of these picks, I am told, is “ironic.” Bonus Rorschach test: if you scoff at these picks for being too obvious: what does that say about you? If you scoff at these picks for being too irrelevant: what does that say about you?

PG Brandon Jennings
SG Rudy Fernandez
SF Luke Walton
PF Serge Ibaka
C Ian Mahinmi

Thomas’s Psychosexual Dream Team
The heroes and actors of Thomas’s over active imagination and bizarre repressed desires. Fully bearded and soft on the inside. Perfect. They would probably win about five straight championships if they weren’t too busy being metaphors for Thomas's psyche.

PG Derek Fisher
SG Dwyane Wade
SF Lebron James
PF Troy Murphy
C Pau Gasol

All Destiny Team
This one is just for fun. Listen, I know this can’t happen, but here it is. Of the possible free-agent super teams that can be created, by necessity, the best ones involve LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki. They complement each other far better than LeBron with his mini-me in Wade or the skilled, but distinctly unfreakishly singular Bosh and Stoudemire. If you start talking about Joe Johnson and Rudy Gay I will laugh in your face. In any event, this scenario supposes that LeBron signs with Chicago and through a series of fanciful sign and trades, gets rid of Hinrich and Deng and brings in Dirk and noble Ray Allen, who signs for a relatively low contract to be apart of this new superteam. Ray and Dirk offer the three-point shooting LeBron has always needed. Noah offers the gifts of a true center and defensive anchor, while Rose offers a harmonizing, slashing counterpoint to LeBron’s game. Maybe this would be slightly more possible in New Jersey with Harris and Lopez playing the part of the young core, but this dream is just too beautiful.

PG Derrick Rose
SG Ray Allen
SF LeBron James
PF Dirk Nowitzki
C Joachim Noah

All Love in the Time of LeBron Team
“For exemplifying the spirit of the blog and all of it’s ridiculousness.”

PG Steve Nash
SG Allen Iverson
SF LeBron James
PF Channing Frye
C Shaquille O’Neal

Beard of the Year
Baron Davis

He faced a stern challenges from young James Harden, but Boom’s beard abides.

Dreamhaunter of the Year
Tyler Hansbrough

I don’t get it, but it’s just a fact.

Team of the Year
Nuggets, Thunder, Suns

I couldn’t decide. For my money, these are the three most fun teams in the league. The Suns seemed destined to fade fast. The end of the Nuggets as we know them looms. Enjoy these two teams in their twilight and then bask in the glorious dawn of the Thunder. May they reign forever.

Disappointment of the Year
Wizards, Hawks, and Clippers

I couldn’t decide again. I thought each of these teams were going to be legitimately good but they were each undone by their respective weaknesses: fingergunz, poor coaching, and being the Clippers.

Coach of the Year
Alvin Gentry, Suns.

Is any other coach in this league so loved by his team? Does any coach in the league love his team as much as Alvin? We are all about love here: it’s in the name.

Love in the Time of LeBron Player of the Year
Chaning Frye

You all know why.

Love in the Time of LeBron Champion of the Year
Ron Artest.

Everything is coming up Ron Ron. Let's stop here, fellow champions.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Why The Lakers Will Win/Lose

I was watching the first game of the Finals and I was really impressed by how well the Lakers were playing. Then I saw this interview with Kobe. In this rad little piece, he talks about how he was influenced by the styles of lots of the great players before him. Seeing that, combined with the Lakers play convinced me that the Lakers could very well sweep.

Impressive stuff, Kobe. Then I had the misfortune of seeing this.

This is a clip from Keeping Up with the Kardashians, the reality show about the Kardashian family. Lamar Odom, power forward for the Lakers, is married to Khloe Kardashian. In this clip, Khloe works on a sexy video for Lamar. The key section of the clip involves a topless Khloe lounging in a bath tub full of candy. This is because, as you may have heard, Lamar Odom enjoys candy. He also presumably enjoys his naked wife. Obviously, the combination of the two things then must logically be incredibly sexy to Lamar. That being said: OH MY GOD, MY EYES.

Incidentally, in case you had a case of deja vu set off by the Khloe-covered-in-candy-because-of-Odom center of your brain, it's probably because you remember this story, which is about the time Khloe woke up confused and covered in melted chocolate because Lamar apparently stashed a ton of it in their bed and fell asleep before eating it all.

Yeah, gross. This is the kind of challenging background research I do for this blog. You are welcome.

Oh right, and now for the trenchant analysis you came here for: There is no way in hell that the Lakers can win because Lamar + Khloe + candy = DIVINE DISFAVOR. Sorry, Kobe, your good karma and respect for your fore-bearers can't undo the black magic of reality stars.

Here is a video from last year about how much Lamar loves candy.

Here is a clip of Lamar eating a PowerBar Energy Gel Blast which is apparently like candy but helps you dunk on the moon.

Here is the trailer from the 1992 horror film, "Candyman."

Here is the place where I made a joke about Lamar Odom and "Candyman" before, because I am a hack with recycled jokes.

Here is the place where I would have put the video to that Christina Aguilera song, "Candyman," but didn't because the world is cruel enough already and I am so sorry about that Keeping Up With the Kardashians video.

I'm so sorry.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Playoffs That Broke My Spirit

I haven't been writing a lot in this space, and while I could claim that it's because I was too busy, that would be a lie. The truth is that my heart has been taking a beating and that watching the playoffs has became a cruel endurance test. How often can I sit and watch as the biggest bullies in the league slay the dreams of their more likable competitors? Apparently, about once a night.

The Celtics and the Lakers aren't terrible teams to watch; they are truly great teams and deserve to play each other in the NBA Finals. Kobe has done more for his reputation in the past few weeks than he did in his championship run last year, and that is truly saying something. He's hitting shot after ridiculous shot and the Lake front-court looks completely peerless. And as for the Celtics, they are up to their old tricks: incredible defense, fuck-you attitude, and a balanced scoring attack. We have seen it all before. With the exception of the emergence of Rondo (who I should note, has maybe been the best player in the league for the past month), it's the same-old, same-old. The cliches are true: Defense, toughness, and clutch scoring (we should really just call it "Kobeness") are what get you to the Finals. And that's sad to me. I enjoy watching the NBA right now because I like the crumbling of the old order, I want to see new modes and new players. To see the affirmation of the old cliches, the victory of "traditional" basketball values; well it does nothing for me. It leaves me cold and disheartened.

It started with the fall of the Bobcats, strangely enough. While the Bobcats are traditionalists in their own sense, their brand of arch-basketball conservatism was such a freak show that it delighted me. It was stifling defense combined with a singular, bizarre offensive theory and strategy: get to the rim or nothing. It was singularly bizarre. The involvement of the Bobcats in the playoffs was so odd. It was like if feudalists showed up to the Republican National Convention and spent all their time trying to make the case for the re-implentation of serfdom. Probably the Bobcats were never going to be more than a side-show in the playoffs, but at least it had the advantage of being supremely freaky.

More upsetting was the death of dynamism, athleticism, and raw people-pleasing spectacle. My beloved Nuggets fell, and then the young and brilliant Thunder, and then the Hawks, who I thought had blossomed, but apparently were fatally flawed all along. I loved all of these teams because they were exciting, fresh, and new. But they fell, and so high-flying dunks and flashy highlights sailed into the undying lands in the West, and I wept.

You have likely noticed by now that I am burying the lede. You know it because I know you feel it in your heart too, and I know that it has weighed heavily on all of us. You probably dealt fine with the losses of the four teams I just mentioned. And really, so did I: Did anyone think any of those four were going to do much in the playoffs but provide a pleasant distraction? When they lost, it felt inevitable. Sad, but expected. The moment that really crushed my spirit was when the Cavaliers lost. The exit of LeBron from the playoffs was traumatic.

For almost everyone I talked to, it felt like a broken promise. Destiny deferred. The one true narrative of the NBA gone off the tracks ("LeBron is the Chosen One. Will he surpass Jordan?"). It was confusing and profoundly sad. Collectively, we sighed.

We love LeBron. He is the most exciting player in the NBA. He just is. He's got the insane talent, freak athleticism, and uncanny charisma that no one else can match. The charisma is in his game too. Watching LeBron play, you can't help but be charmed. Kobe doesn't charm. He shocks. He awes. He doesn't charm. LeBron can't help it. The powerful-yet-playful drives to the basket followed by earth-shattering dunks and the light-hearted smiles of encouragement to his teammates after far-too-deft passes are so easy to love. Even if you don't love LeBron, he hypnotizes, and at this particular instant, there's no reason to try to distinguish between hypnosis and love: the point remains the second LeBron left the play-offs, it felt like the lights dimmed.

Of course, LeBron is a singular and particular basketball enjoyment, and I know that and you know that. There is joy in basketball beyond LeBron. and there was opportunity for hope in the Conference Finals. All season, the offense of the Magic had sparkled around the defensive anchor of Dwight Howard, and in the West, Steve Nash led the reincarnated Suns on one of their greatest runs ever. It didn't matter. The forces of basketball conservatism won. The wacky Pythagorean geometry of the Magic attack broke against the steadfast rock of tough Boston defense. The sheer warmth, joy and play of the Sun's schoolyard assault froze over with each icy Kobe jumper. The prospect of basketball revolution diminished to nothing. The Magic would not prove themselves and their system. Seven seconds or less would not be redeemed on basketball's biggest stage. Instead, you get the basketball equivalent of the Oscar-bait costume drama about a troubled family: Lakers vs. Celtics, the most reliably popular formula the NBA has to offer.

It's not a bad formula. People like it for a reason. Rajon Rondo has been playing absolutely inspired basketball and Kobe reached down into himself and found a way to tap into his own essence, somehow distilling himself into an even more potent brand of merciless assassin. The Finals will be a cold-blooded duel with plenty of brilliance on both sides, but considering all the curious, joyful, and ecstatically weird alternatives (Would anything be more fun than Cavaliers vs. Suns?), the idea of Celtics vs. Lakers leaves me feeling sad and underwhelmed: Instead of playful, high flying theater, we're going to get sneering ruthlessness efficiency. It's possible that no one on either team might smile the entire series. Mark Jackson might say that last sentence with glowing approval, but it just makes me feel terrible. I get the appeal of this match-up, I really do, but every time I think of the potential of one of the other possible Finals match-ups, I can't help but feel sad about all the seemingly more promising possibilities that were so cruelly dismissed by the single minded competitiveness of the Celtics and Lakers. We don't get to have any fun. We get killjoy vs. killjoy.

It's the Celtics vs. the Lakers: The All Killjoy Finals. It better be good.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Drunk Girlfriend Watching Basketball III: THE SECRET OF THE BOOZE

SO IT RETURNS: After breaking down two first round match-ups between Chicago and Cleveland and Denver and Utah, my margarita-loving, nickname-giving, basketball-indifferent girlfriend has returned to sip sip sip and explain Game Six of the NBA's Western Conference Finals. It was a good one.

8:58 Time to GET BLOGGING. Phoenix town is making me dizzy; I don't really understand how I didn't notice this last time I watched them, but wow: that is a lot of orange. Orange in the stands. Orange on the sides. Orange on Goggles' bandaid. Orange on Steve Nash's skin. As everyone knows, orange is a color of power. I just made that up, but I think it is true. I predict a night of POWER for the Suns.

9:00 Kellen just reminded me that Goggles [Amar'e Stoudemire] is wearing his namesake goggles because he detached his retina last year. Thanks for making me want to claw out my own eyes forever [Anytime.].

9:03 Speaking of power, Kobe is radiating it. He doesn't need that orange. Those cheekbones could cut a man, or even men. Imagine a whole army felled by the Kobe's cheek-katanas. The Suns' Steve Nash also possesses razor-sharp cheekbones. Unfortunately for Steve Nash, no one will ever get close enough to find this out firsthand. Before we go any further, let me say a word about Steve Nash. Well, first, a word about myself. In my haphazard chronicling of the playoffs, I have discovered something about myself: I am an unfair lady with many unfounded opinions about NBA players. I'm sure that Patches is lovely. I am certain that the fearful bald giant of Cleveland has a mother who loves him very much [Agree to disagree.]. I have no doubt in my mind that the blond man-beast is an honest and diligent gentleman. That said, I am still a little frightened by all of them. Furthermore, I am uniquely unnerved by Steve Nash.

The first time I noticed him was in those dopey "NBA Cares" commercials. I'm always really relieved when one comes on and it's not another one with him in it. As someone who works with children, I'm just going to go ahead and say this even though I can't really justify it on any level: I would not leave a child alone with Steve Nash. Hell, I wouldn't even leave a group of children with Steve Nash. For possibly no reason other than the paranoia that apparently sets in when I drink and turn on TNT, I just have a bad feeling about him. Is he legitimately creepy? Maybe that's why they always use him for the slogan-saying part of these commercials instead of the actual "caring" part. I am sure he is nice and even delightful. All I'm saying is, your middle school friend's creepy dad was nice too [WHAT THE FUCK?]

9:05 Willy Wonka [Craig Sager] works for TNT and is explaining how the human knee works with the help of a big poster he must have snuck past the security guard.

9:09 One of the Lakers just got knocked down and hung around on the floor for a bit making sweat angels.

9:11 I really like the Suns, so no offence, Suns and Suns lovers, but I have to say it: I am convinced that they are the most awkward team in the NBA. Every time one of them loses the ball and the Lakers score, they just kind of walk away fake-casually like maybe no one saw it. We all saw it, y'all. The only exception to this is Steve Nash, who gives the impression of trying too hard: if the others are all middle school guys who try to get by unnoticed, he's the middle school guy who follows around all of the big dudes, bouncing on the balls of his feet and hoping that someone, anyone will ask him to stick around.

9:17 Suns 17 [Lou Amundson] just jumped up in the air and flailed around for a bit, knocking the ball away from a Laker. This was arguably an accident, and now he is repeating it again and again, apparently hoping that the ball will fly in the path of one of his unrestained limbs yet again.

9:19 It's not working, 17.

9:23 Nor is it a sound technique for making shots.

9:25 Apparently the Suns' Baby Dragon [...Goran Dragic] and the Lakers' Slovenian [Sasha Vujacic: THE MACHINE] have a big rivalry. This is so hard to believe. Baby Dragon is like a little duckling, but clumsier. Somehow he manages to keep scoring even as he skittishly darts around and falls to the ground after nearly every shot.

9:30 I think the Suns formed by magic when that fortune telling machine from Big just made a ragtag squad of 12 year-olds like seven feet tall. This explains pretty much everything, except why anyone would ever let a bunch of 12 year-olds hang out with Steve Nash. This makes Steve Nash's habits of harassing his teammates with his balls that much more disturbing.

9:32 The boringest famous people love this game! You know who Cindy McCain kind of looks like? Kobe Bryant. Kellen doesn't see it, but think about it. Think.

9:37 New Suns coaching strategy: offer them a pizza party. I think that will work. That always works with 12 year olds. Pizza party or no, Channing Frye just scored [THAT'S MY BOY!]. To answer the question I know he was asking in the moment just after: Yes, we all noticed. Yes, we are proud. You are sweet and good and we are very glad when you do especially well.

9:44 A Sun just let a ball Steve Nash threw fly right past him and off the court. Afterward he turned around a bit, like he was looking around for someone to blame. "Yeah, Steve, that was fucked up. Yeah, someone just let that get right past him... no idea where he went. Yeah." Stop it. WE ALL SAW YOU.

10:12 I think Steve Nash has officially taken over this team. Everyone else is trying to act like they came up with this idea. "Yeah, um, OK, Steve. Like we said, you get to score now. Yeah."

10:21 I wonder if the Suns ever stay up playing Halo and drinking Mountain Dew. Number 17 throws the controller down in frustration when he loses, and says the dirtiest curse word he knows. When Channing Frye wins, he smiles shyly. Sometimes his mom comes down the basement stairs with a tray of Bagel Bites for them all to share. Steve Nash came over a few times, but he was a little too creepy, and Mrs. Frye hinted that he probably shouldn't come around anymore.

10:26 Suns coach looks like he was about to cry. Maybe he's been too easy on these kids. Handing out airheads and jawbreakers for free throws during practice may have been a good short-term strategy, but it's not working now.

10:27 Kellen leaves to go get a beer,and when he comes back, he appears to be puzzled by the score.
K: Hey, what happened? Lakers are up by 14 now.
E: Yeah, they scored some.
K: ...
E: I'm just saying what I saw.

I assume this silence is only appreciation for my masterful commentary.

10:43 Baby Dragon just got slain! Lakers' Slovenian just elbowed him in his sweet face and he slowly fell backward, drifting like a fallen angel. Doves are crying.

10:47 Baby Dragon arises, better than before. He scores twice, each time looking absolutely stunned at the power his fall has unleashed deep within his timid soul. Baby Dragon is a baby no more.

10:50 They keep replaying his encounter with the other dude's elbow. It looks like Baby Dragon was just in the middle of a sweet warble when he was brutally knocked back. "Hey, my friends, would you have some cookies my mother ba-- UGHHHHH." He never saw it coming. If he hadn't just bloomed into full dragonhood, this would be kind of humiliating.

10:57 The Dragon formerly known as Baby Dragon makes a heroic shot... and misses. His wings are not yet unfurled. One day you will fly away, young one. For now, Goggles is here to score some points, just to make you forget. During the next time out, you talk. He is glad his retinas did not totally fall out, he says. Seeing you grow up is so amazing. I know you are a big dragon now, but you will always be Baby Dragon in his heart, he will tell you as he engulfs you in a manly, nurturing hug. In my heart too, my friend.

11:03 Down five with 4:45 to go, and Steve Nash is not in. I imagine he is off doing Tai Chi or some shit.

11:04 Nash in. "Just had to balance my aura, guys." Baby Dragon flutters his bent wings in a silent show of gladness.

11:07 Steve Nash: "I don't think Goggles will know that we are glad he just made those free throws unless I come up to the line and slap his ass." Good call, though I hope my ass is never within Steve Nash's slapping range. Meanwhile, Baby Dragon is crying the tears of the innocent.

11:13 I've refrained from mentioning this, but Kobe Bryant is the terrifying snake of my every nightmare [That is a fact.].

11:15 Kobe thinks he is a soaring eagle. He is wrong. Kobe, you may be flying now (OK, and in every other game), but dragons fly forever.

11:19 It's official. No pizza party for the Suns tonight. Steve Nash might offer to buy you guys pizza at his house, but your moms might not like that.

11:25 That's it. The power of orange was not power enough to propel the Suns into the finals. Dragons may fly forever, but this Baby Dragon's post-season is over. I can only speak for myself, and possibly for Goggles, but I'm looking forward to following his mystical flight into the next season and beyond. Don't worry, little one; all dragons have to start somewhere.

That was beautiful. Did you think it was beautiful? Leave Elizabeth a comment with your feelings about the best Slovenian rivalries and general thoughts on this incisive analysis.