January 23 is the day that the Vietnam War ended. It is also the day that Hulkmania began when Hulk Hogan defeated the Iron Sheik. Somewhere in between, young Larry Hughes was born. Between getting injured, leading the league in steals, and showing up randomly in Nelly videos, he has had to deal with the premature death of his younger brother and apparently is a pretty nice young fellow. Happy birthday to you, Larry. Oh, I almost forgot. He loves strippers. Holla back. (For some highlights of his work on the Sixers, where he was basically Jamal Crawford before Jamal Crawford, click here.)
For the past couple of entries, I have concentrated on basketball's rich history. While my loyal reader(s) can expect much more of that to come, I want to make sure this column doesn't sink into insolvency. After all, today's kids don't really care about history (though they may a little more with the strippers involved).
The thing I'm most interested in lately is borne from fantasy basketball, strengthening my position to attest my geekmanship. I'm very worried because this year, the NBA is in the midst of an almost unprecedented streak of good health.
Think about it. Has there ever been a season where the most important guy out for the season was on the level of a Bobby Simmons? He's the only person I can think of that had to hang it up early this season and we're already at the all-star break. As far as I can tell, the players who are out for the year are:
5. Tony Allen;
6. Chris Mihm;
As far as I can tell, that's it. Yao should be back in about a month, if anyone thought I was forgetting about him. Same with Shaq. It seems like there is usually one big star who has to deal with a season-ending injury every year, but this year it still hasn't happened. I'm waiting for the other foot to drop.
I mean, look at that list up there. The 2006-2007 NBA all-injury team is pretty crappy. I would put Allen at the point, Simmons at SG, Miles at SF, Mihm at PF, and Krstic at C, with Ratliff coming off the bench to help Krstic pick up fouls. (Speaking of Mihm, has there ever been a guy with a more nasty habit for getting embarrassed in games? Actually, yes, that would be the much-dunked upon "center" Mr. Theo Ratliff, whose nickname, if he has one, should be changed to "the big victim")
Last year you could throw Kenyon Martin and Amare Stoudamire at the big man positions, have Damon Stoudamire run the point, Bonzi Wells at SG, Hidayet "don't call me Hedo" Turkoglu at SF. Bring Carlos Boozer off the bench (speaking of Boozer, imagine if he was still on the Cavs and hadn't screwed them over. They'd be contenders. No one brings this up. And speaking of Duke players sucking in the NBA, isn't it amazing that Boozer is now the second best Duke alum?) and you have the 2005-2006 injury squad -- an all-world team.
In my mind, that means someone's going to be going down sometime soon. Who will it be? My early favorite is Jason Kidd, who is going to have to carry a lot of the load in New Jersey now that Richard Jefferson is out. Kidd is a great player but he isn't getting any younger (though he did used to dunk). He's also just beginning a messy divorce which could affect him in funny ways. I don't think he's ever really had a serious injury, either. This could mean two things; he's really tough or he's really lucky. Only time will tell, I guess.
Oh, and last year on this day Kobe scored 81. I don't really like Kobe that much but damn, dang, darn, as they say in LA.
Also, today Don't Ever Give Up The Basketball Blog gets its own e-mail address. Thanks to Gmail.
Tell me what you think, make suggestions, complain...whatever. I'm not slick enough to make this linkable so you'll have to cut and paste...sorry. firstname.lastname@example.org