Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I don't care for ESPN/ABC's NBA coverage

Hello there. This one goes out to my main man Matt.

Stephen A. Smith. Chad Ford. Chris Sheridan. Marc Stein. David Thorpe. John Hollinger. Tim Legler. Mike Tirico. Bill Fucking Walton. Tom Tolbert. Sean Elliot. Brad Nessler. Brent Musburger. Mark Jackson.

Why am I putting all these random names together? Because these hobos are all analysts for ABC and ESPN, who televise NBA games. Some of them write, some of them are on camera, some of them are just window dressing (I'm talking to you, Tirico). The sanctimonious whitebread marketing honchos who planned this out have been ruining my enjoyment of basketball for many years now and I would like to discuss exactly why there is so much bullshit going on at the network of Walt Disney. Furthermore, with devices like cheesy camera angles, crappy interviews, dumb graphics, and flatulent guest spots, ABC/ESPN downgrades their coverage to a level below shit. Just to top it all off, they have cut down on games being shown on network TV by about 65%. Thanks a lot!

Let me start with the crack (no pun intended) writing team ESPN puts forth (Smith, Ford, Sheridan, Stein, Legler, and Hollinger).

ESPN is responsible for popularizing the biggest embarrassment to sports in many years, Stephen A. Smith. He's the kind of guy a white network executive goes home to his wife and talks about like this: "I met this interesting guy, honey. And he's BLACK! And he had so many interesting opinions, but he didn't sound like he was straight OFF THE STREETS! And he's even WELL EDUCATED! Can you believe it, honey! I'm going to give this guy a job! I think we're really going to get some STREET CREDIBILITY! It'll be great for our basketball coverage!" (Al Jaffe, ESPN's human resources guy, says Smith has "huge upside" and "a unique talent...He makes people sit up and take notice, and not many people can do that. He cuts through the clutter, and not just because he's loud. He's water-cooler fodder, a lightning rod...Quite frankly will show viewers his full personality. It troubles me that he's always been labeled as a loudmouth. That summarizes TV in a nutshell...people don't delve into the whole person.") [Notice the juxtoposition of "not just because he's loud" to "it troubles me that he's always been labeled as a loudmouth".]

Stephen A. Smith was born in the Bronx, which should make him tough, but does not. Before his foray into sports, he attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. That's right, he was kind of like LC; he wanted to design accessories and cute little knick knacks and shit like that. I guess he had a change of heart, because he then went to the same school as Louis Farrakhan, another great prognosticator. Farrakhan, of course, once noted: "Here the Jews don't like Farrakhan and so they call me 'Hitler'. Well that's a good name. Hitler was a very great man...he rose Germany up from the ashes of her defeat...and rose her up and made her the greatest fighting machine of the twentieth century...Now I'm not proud of Hitler's evil towards Jewish people, but that's a matter of record. He rose Germany up from nothing..." This statement is similar, strictly in terms of accuracy, to most of the complete garbage that Smith spews now that he is a writer/announcer.

First of all, Smith knows nothing about basketball. In 2005 at the NBA draft, while everyone, including the draftee could hear him, he said of the eighth pick "The pick makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, when you think about how they traded away Vince Carter, virtually for nothing, again we sit here today, wondering, what on EARTH is Rob Babcock [the GM] doing!" That pick was Charlie Villanueva, who finished second in rookie of the year voting despite not playing early in his rookie season. (Whom I wish I still had on my fantasy team.)

Stephen, of course, thinks he is the man. He often starts sentences with "As a black man..." For instance, when ESPN canceled his show because no one cared what he had to say, he said: "As a black man, the biggest nightmare is to be perceived as a buffoon, in any form or fashion. I'd rather have people perceive me as too serious, even evil." He also dreams big: "My dream has never changed - I've always wanted to be Ed Bradley's successor on 60 Minutes." (Maybe that's why he had his studio producers, who had trouble selling tickets to his show, e-mail Cubs fans asking them to come to the show when Dusty Baker [the embattled Cubs manager] was the boo [story here]. I think I read about Ed Bradley doing that once on 60 Minutes.)

One other thing that makes me mad is the way he emotes his belief that he is a cool black guy. He feels this way, probably, because he brown noses cool black athletes like Allen Iverson, and sometimes makes references to rap [it might also because he's surrounded by many stiff whites at ESPN]. The problem is, being a little fashion bug, that sissy doesn't know a thing about the great art we call rap. For instance, on his radio show, he once played the beat from Shook Ones, by Mobb Deep. He then said "that's the beat from 8-mile...Eminem in the house...but we're not talking about Detroit today, we're talking about New York." As all my readers I'm sure know, Mobb Deep is quintessential New York rap, and anyone from New York with any interest in rap whatsoever would know that this is about the least credible thing a black man from New York could possibly say. It is so ludicrous that I don't have the writing talent to express my feelings. God.

I don't want to lose focus here, though. ESPN also has flunkies like Chad Ford working for them. Mark Cuban says of him: "The new moron in town is Chad Ford of" (Full entry here.) Chad Ford is one of these guys who thinks that European players are the greatest thing on the planet and that every one of them will be great because American players [read: blacks] can't shoot the ball anymore.

He has a J.D. from Duke University, seems like a smart guy, and doesn't really write poorly, but he just doesn't know a thing about basketball. Also, he doesn't research his stories or substantiate him. He's a bad journalist. Peter Vescey calls him "Chad Fraud". He often takes news briefs from teams and then reports him as if he's breaking the story himself. He has no respect for any of the tenets of journalism, nothing important to contribute, and is so full of himself for actually going to Europe to look at players that he fancies himself a scout.

Here are some examples: He has said that Pavel Pozolkolin was the next great big man (for those of you who don't remember, this was some 7'4" Russian motherfucker who was drafted by the Knicks and has kicked around as a practice squad goon for a couple of years). He said that Martynas Andriuskevicius would be a future No. 1 pick (though fully healthy, he has played only six games for the Bulls). He said of the 2003 Knicks draft "Drafting Sweetney, another undersized power forward on a team filled with them gets a "c"...but landing the other guy you thought about taking at No. 9, Maciej Lampe, was a huge draft steal. I've seen Lampe play enough to know that his slide wasn't warranted. Lots of teams dropped the ball on him...he'll make the Knicks fans happy...Grade A-" (In three seasons, Lampe [at left] is averaging .7 ppg., and happens to be the one of the ugliest fuckers in the NBA.) He said that the Pistons should get an A+ for drafting "the best big man in the draft", getting Darko Milicic. (Who would want poor shooting guys like Chris Bosh, David West, or Josh Howard?) He said of Mladen Skularac, a Mavs pick who turned out to be a bust: "You'll hear his name again..." On the 2002 Phoenix Suns' draft he said: "It was a strange draft for the Suns. Stoudemire might be the Antonio McDyess replacement they've pined for the past few years, but he's a long way away...Grade: B-" Nice Job, Chad.

Chris Sheridan is less poorly qualified then these bozos, but makes me mad with his constant criticism of US hoops. He's one of these guys who thinks that we need to have more guys that can shoot, now that today's NBA players [again, read: blacks] are so nontraditional. I would agree with Sheridan that the system is somewhat flawed, but I think the problem is we are just letting to many selfish players like Jermaine O'Neal on the floor. Also, the team doesn't practice together, blah blah, you've all heard that before so I won't bore you.

Marc Stein never says anything interesting, does the same Chad Ford trick of claiming to break stories when in fact the teams are breaking them (actually, he does it more), and does that stupid NBA rankings page. I don't know what qualifies him for this, because he spent all of last year talking about how shitty the Heat were. On his first ranking of the Eastern Conference this year, he put the Heat, Bulls, Pacers, Cavs, Bucks, Raptors, Celtics, Magic, Wizards, and KNICKS above the Detroit Pistons. I mean, does this guy actually know anything?

David Thorpe I think might be okay, I haven't read his stuff much. However, he does use some statistics from John Hollinger, who I think stinks. Mr. Hollinger is responsible for ESPN's quantitative (statistical) analysis of basketball and is very self-important about it. His original website was described as "The Basketball Page for Thinking Fans."

Now, I kind of like quantitative analysis of all things, from stocks to hoops. It's neat to think about. But I don't like when people think they've got it right. In my mind, this a sign that they don't understand statistical analysis. Hollinger is of this breed, and his right formula is the PER, or Player Efficiency Rating, which tries to rate the best players, period. You can play with his formula for any team, or league, in any year or group of years, here. My biggest problem with these formulas is that it's very hard to quantify defense, which is very important, with statistics. I mean, Damon Jones lead the league in steals a couple of years ago, and he sucks at defense. Hollinger's PER formula says that over the last four years, Elton Brand is more valuable than Steve Nash, which is a crock of shit, and Steve Nash can't even D up. Tony Parker is rated higher than Joe Johnson, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Lamar Odom and Jason Richardson. I just don't think it's a great indicator. So I don't like Hollinger.

That covers the writers. What really drives me up the wall, though, is the television coverage. Oh, how I hate it. The camera angles are what really gets me during games. For instance: After a player scores, they always have to show him running up the court, even if there's a fast break going on. It drives me crazy. I hate their sky cam and their floor cam, both of which don't let you see all the players on the floor. I hate how when there's a wide-open break, they show the behind-the-hoop camera, which makes dunks look about fifty times worse than the regular camera. Don't believe me? Look at this and try to tell me the first angle isn't the best.

Then there are the hosts. Musberger, Legler, Tirico, Nessler, and Elliot are not terrible, but they are boring and unqualified. They don't know a lot about the game, can't crack jokes, and just don't seem comfortable as a conglomerate.

Some guys are really bad, like Mark Jackson, who is always boring, no matter what he says. It's incredible. Watch his analysis sometime. Plus, rather than be risky, he just repeats the safe lines whether right or wrong. I mean, if you're going to be wrong, at least take a leap of faith. Here's a sample of the boilerplate:

Q: If you could take one young player to start a team, who would take?

A: Is Kobe Bryant considered young? If so, there would be no question. His mentality, his approach -- he tries to seek and destroy. There is really nothing he can't do on the basketball court. The main thing is his will. He is not satisfied with just beating you. He wants to put the dagger in you. I think that is a lost art to a certain degree in this league.

Here's an example of him trying to be funny:

Q: What's the funniest story you have that I can repeat for a newspaper?

A: During the Finals last year, a drunk in a restaurant wanted to fight Dan Patrick and me. We were laughing. We thought he was joking. Dan thought he was friend of mine. I thought he was a friend of Dan's just being funny.

Come to find out that neither one of us knew him. We just laughed. We thought it was hilarious. We were actually in Dallas at the restaurant.

We were being funny. He wanted to know where the hot spot was in Dallas. We were like, 'There is a place called Chili's.' We were being sarcastic with the guy, thinking he had a sense of humor. It was hilarious. Dan felt very comfortable knowing I was there to get his back because I'm not really confident in Dan's ability on his own with his fists.

I mean, isn't it totally clear how awkward and unfunny this guy is? (The other question in the interview was who is the best point guard in the NBA; Answer: Steve Nash.) He's like the complete opposite of PTI; no insight, not funny, not even thought-provoking. How ESPN could hire both Jackson and Smith is beyond comprehension. (Notice how, to emphasize the funniness of the story, he keeps going "it was really funny/hilarious".)

Tom Tolbert is a huge tool and I won't waste time with him. He knows nothing.

The big kahuna of crappiness is that washed up ex-hippie, Bill Walton, who seems like he is really nice and would be really fun to go to a game with. However, paradoxically, he is a terrible announcer. He is just too damn loud. He's like a white, slightly smarter Stephen A. Smith. He's on the show for the same reason; He's the hippie equivalent. He's a hippie who makes a ton of money and doesn't really do anything for any of the idealistic reasons of a hippie (i.e. give money to charity, try to stop war), but just has the kind of attitude that a big time executive will think is good for ratings.

And he's an idiot. I'll let him explain:

"Steve Nash is the most unathletic player in the league."

"Mick Jagger is in better shape than far too many NBA players."

Rasheed could be the best player in the game.”

“Yao Ming is the best thing to happen to the NBA in a long time. He is just a beautiful person inside and out. The vision, the creativity, the gentleness of spirit … he has it all.”

"Kenyon Martin is the 2nd best player in the Eastern Conference."

"Greg Ostertag is one of the top centers on this planet!"

[Tony Parker makes a pass, which gets deflected out of bounds by an opposing defender. Spurs ball] "Tony Parker just made the worst pass... in the history of Western Civilization!"

"Manu Ginobli is one of the greats. Not just of this generation, but of all time."

On Larry Johnson in the NBA Finals: "What a pathetic performance by this sad human being. This is a disgrace to the game of basketball and to the NBA. He played like a disgrace tonight. And he deserved it...Why would the Pacers ever double-team Larry Johnson? He wants to be double-teamed so he can pass. Why is Indiana double-teaming a man who only scores 8 points a game?" (Side note: I would love to see him say this to Larry Johnson's face. Grandmama would be up to some serious shit.)[Oh, and this was from the series where Larry Johnson hit perhaps the largest shot since Jordan's retirement shot, proving Bill to be a complete dipshit.]

He is also a front-runner, has an annoying tone ("the Knicks are terrible") and nothing to support his being a blowhard. He's considered one of the 50 greatest players despite having only two good
seasons, while Dominique Wilkins, who scored 26,000 points (in the top 10 all time) is not. He's an overrated bum.

There are many professionals out there, guys who used to work when the game was on NBC, that are much better than everyone named above. Even people I don't really like, like Peter Vescey, are actually smart and insightful, and know how to throw an insult.

I really miss Marv Albert, the grand daddy of announcing. He was recently fired by MSG for not being impartial during the Knicks' season of crappiness, as if he could have possibly saved that sinking ship. He might have a funky personal life, but he does a perfect play-by-play, knows when to shut up, and has a great announcer's voice. Put a guy like Wilpon in with him for the color commentary and you'd have a great team. Get rid of the camera angles and all the other bullshit, and you'd actually have a serviceable broadcast.

NBA ratings have been much lower since ABC bought them then they ever were with NBC. Kids can't watch basketball on network TV anymore, nor can people who are poor or who live in the country. The NBA will lose a whole generation of fans if it doesn't realize that despite ABC's massive royalty payments, they are doing a disservice to their fan base. Someone needs to make some changes somewhere. I just hope it comes soon.

As always, e-mail me at

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Is Steve Nash the best point guard in the NBA?

Hello. He probably is. But he doesn't play good defense, doesn't have a ring, blah blah blah, and he does things like rip his shirt apart on the dance floor to exhibit his diminutive, hairy chest, which he probably conditions. Which necessitates some list making.

First, though, I want to take a little time to talk about the point guard position because it is falling out of favor in the NBA. Teams get themselves in tizzies about 6'7" guys who can't shoot but are really quick and strong, and they forget that someone has to run the offense.

I know what you're thinking. "Steve Nash won the MVP the past two years, and probably will this year, and you're saying the point goes overlooked? You're crazy Jimmy V." Steve Nash does throw a wrench in my argument, but I think that part of his popularity has a lot to do with his marketability as a fun-to-watch, handsome (and this counts for a lot, ask any girl who watches basketball), hard-working white guy. He's arguably the most marketable athlete in all of sports right now other than Peyton Manning. (Though he looks very, very out of place in those new Nike Air Force II ads.)

I still think that teams don't give a damn. Take a look at last year's draft: the first point guards drafted were Marcus Williams and Rajon Rondo, both of whom are looking very good initially. People drafted ahead of them include Rendaldo Balkman, Quincy Douby, Oleksiy Pecherov, Shawne Williams, Rodney Carney, Cedric Simmons, Ronnie Brewer, Thabo Seflosha, Hilton Armstrong, JJ Reddick, Saer Sene, Patrick O'Bryant and Shelden Williams. You know what those players have in common? They haven't done shit.

Of course, looking at this year's draft without some time for players to mature is unfair, but going back a five years should fix any inconsistency as most players at least make the rotation after that much time. In 2001, the infamous Kwame Brown year, the last two picks in the first round were Jamal Tinsley and Tony Parker, who are excellent and start for perennial playoff teams. They followed bums like Brandon Amrstrong, Jeryl Sasser, Joe Forte, Jason Collins, Michael Bradley, Kirk Haston, Steven Hunter, Kedrick Brown, Rodney White, and of course, Kwame Brown. How is that possible? I can understand not drafting Tony Parker, being that he's a little French wisp of a man, but Jamaal Tinsley had an extremely distinguished college career in which Iowa State was a 2 seed. A 2 seed! He had the ability to make Marcus Fizer (not good) look good.

For anyone that claims Miami won the championship last year without a good point guard, I would note that they had the best passing shooting guard in the league (7.9 assists this year, good for 7th in the league and higher than guys like Chauncey Billups, Stephon Marbury, Tony Parker, etc.) as well as a talented Jason Williams and hall-of-famer Gary Payton. (Yeah I said it.) [Also, Dwayne has the quickest hands in the league, as you can see...]

The thing that's really damning is it seems like teams are not willing to look at traditional good point guards as valuable players. The only point guards who get any publicity are guys like Shaun Livingston and Sebastian Telfair, who are both getting paid but not played. They are stuck behind, uh, real point guards like Sam Cassell, or point guards who know how to shoot like Delonte West (never thought I'd put that sentence together...). Telfair was recently moved to third string behind the aforementioned Rajon Rondo. The only time Boston was good post-Bird was the only time they had a point guard, Kenny Anderson. (Remember that Chauncey Billups played two when he was on the Celts. Thanks Rick Pitino!)

For an illustration of the importance of the point guard, look at NBA records division by division. In the Atlantic, three teams have good point guards: The Nets in Kidd, the Raptors in Ford, and the Knicks in Marbury. Each team, which by all rights should be very, very crappy, is decent (especially Toronto, who seems like an early under-the-radar team already. They're only one game under .500!) Philadelphia did not have a point guard for most of its season, and Boston hasn't had one all year (though Rondo may get a shot now that they lose every game), and they are terrible.

The Central Division is kind of tough to use as evidence, because every team has a good point guard (Detroit - Billups; Chicago - Heinrich; Cleveland - they have LeBron; Indiana - Tinsley; Milwaukee - Mo Williams). It is the tightest division in the league and Milwaukee would be better if they weren't beset by the most injuries of any team. [I put Cleveland in there becuase Lebron is just ridiculous and it's impossible to have a bad regular season record with a guy like him. But, I don't think they'll do a thing in the postseason because of their weakness at the point. Damon Jones is a pure shooter at best, and he thinks that makes him special. He's just a black Jeff Hornacek with no size, a worse shot, and a worse attitude. (See picture at right)]

In the Southeast division, Washington, Orlando, and Miami have good point guards in Arenas, Nelson, and Williams/Wade. They are all good. Atlanta and Charlotte have nothing at point guard, though Charlotte would if Brevin Knight and Ray Felton. Atlanta and Charlotte are terrible.

In the West, Utah is far ahead in a division where it is the only team with a good point guard. Not surprisingly, this is the worst division in the conference, and Denver, Minnesota, Portland, and Seattle all know they're not going anywhere.

In the Pacific, Phoenix is killing everybody, obviously. The Lakers are also good, and they are an exception to this rule, but they run a unique offense where the ball goes through the forwards and the shooting guard (Kobe, Odom, and Walton combine for 14.7 assists per game). Everyone else that is threatening in that division has a good point guard with injury problems (GS with Davis, the Clippers with Cassell). Bibby isn't the player he used to be in Sacramento, and I don't think of him as a traditional point guard anyway.

Finally, in the Southwest, there's Dallas, which has two good point guards in Harris and Terry, followed by San Antonio, which has Parker and the underrated Udrih, and Houston, with the most underrated point guard in the league, Rafer Alston. New Orleans was playing well until Paul went down, and Memphis has no point guard and sucks ass.

This, in my mind, establishes that the point guard position is extremely important. I remember last year when Dallas created series-defining matchup problems with their use of Devin Harris, and the year before when Steve Nash almost single-handedly willed Phoenix to the finals. I don't really remember any other playoff heroism by anyone other than Wade, who is good enough to defy categorization.

So that means the most important question is: Who is the best point guard in the NBA?

Well, Steve Nash is, even though he can't play defense. I would have said Jason Kidd, but he can't shoot, and I'd rather have someone who can knock down an open three than someone who is an average defender.

Here is my list. For purposes of clarification, I am leaving Chris Paul (injured) out, and I am considering Iverson, and Wade shooting guards.

1. Steve Nash: for the reasons above. (And as we all know he'd be a great soccer player) [Counterpoint here. Sample comment: "Nash eats dick with maple syrup!"]
2. Jason Kidd: for the reasons above. What a rebounder and hustler, by the way.
3. Deron Williams: He's really coming into his own this year, hits big shots, and can dunk in your face.
4. Stephon Marbury: He had a bad start, and his defense is god-awful at times, but when you need someone to drive and score or drive and kick, he's among the best, and he can run the break, though he has never had the opportunity to do this with any consistency. Also he hits big time shots and is unselfish.
5. Gilbert Arenas: Great scorer, good passer, decent defender, but he turns the ball over a lot and marginalizes his post players with his me-first approach (not that he's selfish...if I were as good as him I'd be me-first too).
6. Brevin Knight: Great midrange jumper, great defense, great passer, great driving skills, great attitude. The model for a great traditional point guard. If only he had an outside shot, was a little bigger, and played with one good teammate in his life. (check out his history, he never has.)
7. Baron Davis: He'd be higher if he weren't so injury-prone, and I also think he is a bit selfish. One of the best dunking point guards ever, though.
8. Kirk Hinrich: Plays good defense, runs the offense well, says funny stuff, but also is a much streakier shooter than he should be. (He also has a questionable bracelet tattoo)
9. TJ Ford: Really quick, decent shot, good defender. If he didn't turn the ball over so much I'd think more of him. (This "really quick" clip, along with the Deron dunk, is easily the best today)
10. Andre Miller: I guess he is good at passing and scoring, but something about him has just never really made me confident that he was great at running the offense or being an effective scorer. (Reminds me of the way I used to think about Mark Jackson.) [Though he can block shots really well].

Teams take notice. That's all for today As always, e-mail me at

Monday, January 29, 2007

Oh my gosh

Dear Readers:

I just found out that Latrell Sprewell's bizzay, who claims should be his common-law wife, sued him for $200 million dollars. Can someone cut the guy some fucking slack? He plays hard, he's a hustler, and everyone hates him. How I long for the simpler days...

War is hell

Support the troops. Being as this has to do with the Red Storm, I guess you could call them the Storm Troopers, but it'd probably be better to just lay off that pun...


Dear readers,

Having entered my last post about 20 minutes ago, you may be surprised to see another one so quickly. This is not your ordinary post.

On this day, precisely 81 years after German Zeppolins began bombing Paris, Don't ever give up: The Basketball Blog is going to war. That's correct. I was looking at the blog of that guy with his crappy haircut who loves Gonzaga so much, and it just made me angry. I don't like him. I don't like Gonzaga. I don't like people who claim to be long time fans who are in fact posers. I don't like Connecticut (his home state).

Doing my State of the Storm made me sad, thinking of all the pain loyal fans like me have to go through, and looking at "The Irish Trojan" (you see, he roots for both Notre Dame and USC [his blog is here]) just turned that pain into anger. Vicious, terrible, putrid anger. I am a veritable anger machine. His name is Brendan Loy, and I am writing him an open letter, courtesy of Don't Ever Give Up.

Here is what the enemy looks like. If any of you fine readers sees this jerkoff rooting for the winning team and claiming he's loved them since he was a kid, do whatever damage you feel appropriate. My letter is below, emailed as I write this:

Dear Brenden Roy:

I read your page about your Gonzaga fanship. I believe that you are not in fact a lifelong Gonzaga fan but in fact jumped on the bandwagon and then claimed you were there before the bandwagon. Real basketball fans like myself do not like snotty Connecticut yuppies who try to be cool by being dishonest and sullying one of the greatest sports in the world, basketball. I am especially disgusted by your mockery of college basketball, one of the last citadels of honesty and sportsmanship in a corrupt and depressing world.

Yours truly,
Don't Ever Give Up: The Basketball Blog

The war is upon us.

State of the Storm

Good morning. Today we have a special straight from the nasty nas-ness of New York City, an update on one of the most prestigious programs ever, that of my beloved St. Johns Red Storm. (This weekend marked the birthday of one of St. John's many star-crossed athletes, Omar Cook, who was an exceptional point guard. Happy Birthday, Omar. You broke my heart and I'm a little bitter but I'll get over it when St. Johns returns to glory. [Footage of Omar Cook in his All-America slam-dunk contest here])

St. Johns is pretty much the center of college basketball and toughness in general on the East coast. St. Johns alumni include the Schwab, D.M.C., Mario Cuomo, and John Franco. The basketball program, the fifth winningest of all time, has turned out 48 NBA players [59 according to wikipedia(?)], including Ron Artest, Mark Jackson, Kevin Lougherty, Chris Mullin, Billy Paultz, Felipe Lopez, Malik Sealy, Jayson Willaims, Dick McGuire and, uh, Bill Wennington [it was even featured on the cover of LIFE magazine when that was a really, really big deal]. Six members of the Red Men/Storm are enshrined in Springfield. Great coaches to come through St. Johns include Lou Carnesseca, Joe Lapchick (three championships with the Knicks), and of course Mr. Norm Roberts. (The baseball team is also pretty good, having been to six world series, and the soccer team has gone to the NCAA soccer tournament 15 years running, winning the chip in 1996.) ["Of all my memories of people who have helped me, none are greater than those of Mr. Lapchick." -Bobby Knight]

St. Johns Basketball has seen a uniquely high level of honor and tragedy. Malik Sealy was just finding his game in the NBA when he was killed in a terrible automobile accident. Chris Mullin's career descended into alcoholism from which his game never fully recovered. Jayson Williams was acquitted of murdering his driver with a point-blank shotgun round. Bill Wennington got minutes on national TV despite sucking.

Along with that tragedy, St. Johns has been one of the most frequent upset victims of 1990's NCAA tournaments. Most recently, in 2001, they fell in the game that would cement Gonzaga as the premier mid-major contender (story here). In 1998, they fell to the Detroit Titans, an embarrassment of fantastic proportions. In 1992, they lost to the Tulane Green Wave in another crushing loss. Bill Simmons would have a field day with these things on his gut-check loss-o-meter thing. (By the way, I hate Gonzaga. Have a look at this little ass-kisser's site to see why St. Johns' loss was so tragic. I can't think of words to describe the hate I have for this little rat.)

As if that weren't enough, St. Johns players in the past few years have been acting like a bunch of jerkoffs. Most famously, Elijah Ingram (who could have been really, really good), Abe Keiya (who never played) and Grady Reynolds, (who was solid) decided it would be fun to bring a 38-year old stripper back to their hotel room and give her the treatment. I doubt that the players raped her, which she alleged; they probably just didn't pay the ho. Either way, though, it was a very stupid thing to do and brought down sanctioning that lasted for years. They played with 7 players at times at the end of that season, in which they did not win one Big East game. (To be fair, there are a lot of decent teams that couldn't win one Big East game.)

Darius Miles was going to attend St. Johns, but didn't, opting for the draft. The aforementioned Omar Cook left school too early, as did Erick Barkley. Jarvis left after not getting enough recruits. St. Johns was just hurting.

Norm Roberts, a Kansas man formerly of the Roy Williams staff, was the man the administration brought in to rebuild the program. Norm played high school ball with Anthony Mason, and then played for Queens college. "Quite gangster" describes him adequately. To date, he has been doing an admirable job, considering the sanctions he had to start under and the unbelievably unforgiving schedule of the Big East, the roughest and toughest league in the NCAA. He is classy, gets pretty good recruits, and seems to preach defense and toughness, so I like him a lot.

That brings us to where we are today. The 2006 season is about more than halfway through, with the conference schedule at almost the halfway point. St. Johns is 12-9 with a 3-5 conference record, which at this point means they are better than UConn and only one half game behind Villanova, who was the class of the Conference last year. St. Johns just followed two huge wins over Notre Dame (20th in the country) and Syracuse with an ass-slapping at the hands of the #9 team in the country, Pitt. They have three really hard games left, against Georgetown, Syracuse, and Duke. Really, all of their games left are tough, but if they go on a winning streak, there is a legitimate chance they could make it into the NCAA tournament for the first time in forever.

The important players on the team are Lamont Hamilton, Avery Patterson, Anthony Mason, Jr., Eugene Lawrence, and Daryll Hill. Lamont is a big man who scored 38 in a game this season and has a dynamic post game. Patterson is a gunner of a guard who is streaky, short, and very New York for a kid from North Carolina. Mason Jr. is tough, does everything, and is jacked. He is a sophomore and I predict that he will be an animal within two years. Lawrence is a do-everything point guard from NYC who sometimes flirts with triple doubles and being fat. Daryll Hill used to be the best scorer in the Big East before his knee got terminated, though he still shows flashes.

I hesitate to make big predictions for my favorite team, but I think there is a legitimate chance that they will shock the conference this year. They played Texas to a one-point loss, and when they hit their shots, they seem to be really good. I thought they were just starting to hit their groove when they beat ND the game before last, and despite the clubbing they received from Pittsburgh, I still think they might be on to something. They did have stretches of extreme suckage earlier this year, losing to Illinois State and Hofstra, and they've lost tough ones to Seton Hall and Depaul, but I remain hopeful. God owes them for all those upsets, and New York City needs some hope from the NCAA basketball world before they forsake it altogether.

(By the way, one random thing I like about this year's team is that Emeril came to visit them. While I enjoy cooking, I'm not Emeril's biggest fan, but reading the story about it, I noticed something that made me think to myself, wow, that is one gangster motherfucker. You see, Emeril came and cooked for the basketball team. That's him on the right with that big smile on his face, and a bunch of people who look like they have pretty much nothing to do with St. Johns. Anyway, Emeril was doing his cooking and everything and in the article about it, there's this picture of a St. Johns practice where Darryl Hill, in full practice attire, just breaks out a hoagie. He was probably like "dog, I gotta eat something while I'm doing all this practicing and shit, can one of you team managers get me a hoagie?" I am taking this opportunity to officially propose that he be nicknamed Hoagie Hill.)

As always, e-mail me at

Friday, January 26, 2007

YO! Who slam harder?! Onyx or Vince Carter?!

(If you don't get the title of the post, click here)

Hi. Today is one dunk-tastic day, and I'll tell you why: Today is the day when both Vince Carter and Gerald Green entered this world, many years ago. Happy birthday to both of you, and also to Ronald Dupree, another example of an incredible athlete who, if he had gone to college, may have been something very special. Oh, wait, he did go to college. Anyway, for those of you that don't think he deserves mention with this rarefied company of dunkaliciousness viciousness you may be right, but Dupree did have one or two vicious dunks in him. (By the way, why are sportswriters so arrogant and full of themselves about this college development thing? You're telling me worse coaches, tons of sex, drugs, and alcohol are really that great? Why do guys like Darius Rice go to college and come out the same way they went in? Terrence Morris? Maybe someone should just start realizing that sometimes really good athletes can be really dumb and from time to time don't give a shit and don't work hard, wherever they are. I think it just happens that the dumb ones often opt out of college because, uh, they're too dumb to see any value in a college education. And who cares if they fail, anyway? It makes the whole thing much more interesting. Plus it gives one more scholarship to a kid that actually deserves to go to college for being...intelligent.)

I would like to try to pay tribute to these great, great wunderdunkers by eschewing the cheesily produced mixtapes that are so plentiful on youtube. Extolling the virtues of Vince Carter's dunking ability is hard to do without being redundant, as I'm sure most of you have spent a little bit of time with Youtube Vince Carter mixtapes.

Instead, I've got a little rare historical footage and other fun facts about possibly the two premier dunkers in the National Basketball Association.

I'll start with my hometown fellow, Mr. Gerald Green. Interestingly, Green did not play basketball in high school until his sophomore year. He played JV that year, and then was going to play varsity, but had some "academic issues". He ended up playing one year at a prep school and that was all it took for him to enter the NBA draft. (wow) He would have been a Cowboy up at Oklahoma State, following in the footsteps of great dunkers Desmond Mason and Tony Allen, but oh well. He has no right ring finger, because he had to have it amputated when he was eight years old after an accident (possibly involving dunking). So here's one guy that will never wear a ring. (ha, ha)

Gerald has had some notable dunk-ons, though against admittedly inferior defenders. For instance, he gave Jerome James a good old tea bag one time. In high school, at either the ABCD camp or Flight camp (i'm not sure and can't make out the unis), he gave some big stiff a super duper tea bag. In Celtics summer league, he was the recipient of some nice passes from Sebastian Telfair.

It seems to me that Gerald Green is a specialist at these enormous, powerful right-handers. He also seems to have a proclivity for that windmill and the east side funk (yeah JR!). Anyone who has ever been to a Celtics game has seen his warmup routine. I have to be honest, though, as much of an amazing athlete is, Gigi really doesn't excite me that much. He doesn't have a whole heck of a lot of body control, which matters a lot when it comes to making a dunk look good. (For example, see this vs. this or this vs. this.)

One of the best body-control guys of all time is definately Mr. VC and I tried to find some great footage of him in action. Here is a video of him in the All-American dunk contest with Paul Pierce and Kris Clack (who I thought looked very good). Some more great high school footage is available here. These two dunks are old news, but I have to put them in there as a public service to my main man, Red. I'm gonna quote the caption on Youtube for this video: "Damn!I know VC cud dunk, but dis is a rare one I haven't seen before!" Thank you for that. (A linguistic asside: This really is not great use of either proper grammar or ebonics. It's like in the middle of the sentence it switches from black to white. Allow me to illustrate: [For italics, envision Dave Chappelle's white-man voice, for bold, imagine b.i.g.] "Damn! I know VC cud dunk, but dis is a rare one I haven't seen before!" Do you see what I mean? Am I making any sense here? Is this just dragging on?)

Now that I've broken up my flow, here are some players VC has dunked on (click name for video):

Tim Duncan

Amare Stoudemire

Kendrick Persons

And the New York Knickerbockers take... (Rare better angle here) [True wikipedia entry: "The French media later dubbed it 'le dunk de la mort' or 'the Dunk of Death'."]

Donyell Marshall

Brian Grant (!)

Uh, Tim Duncan

Anderson Varejao

Mikki Moore ("same team! same team!")

Antonio Davis (see above)

Andres Nocioni

Stanislav Medvedenko

Dikembe Mutombo

Chris Mihm

I know there are more out there but there's so much VC crap on YouTube that it takes a long time to find anything noteworthy that hasn't been viewed a million times.

I hope you enjoy all of the dunk footage and that it's not overkill. Everybody have a nice weekend.

-Jimmy V

As always, e-mail me at