Friday, March 09, 2007

News, notes, random thoughts, and closet cleaning


Hi there. I want to get some stuff off my chest that's been building up without a release valve. You see, I have a lot of thoughts, ideas, opinions, etc., that are not substantial enough to write about at length, but still kind of interesting. Therefore, I'd like to begin a tradition with a monthly-or-so column where I just say a bunch of the random stuff I've been thinking lately.

To commemorate this column, I celebrate the birthday of the pride of Senegal, Boniface N'Dong, who can rearrange the letters of his name to spell "Fag binned coon". The picture above is of Mr. Boniface during his rookie hazing, where, in part to protest the NBA's new dress code policy, Clippers rookies were forced to wear campy seventies-style tuxedos. I think this was particularly funny in N'Dong's case. Anyway:

Some stuff that I think

Chad Ford continues to suck. Not only does this moron misspell the name of the man he claims is the quickest riser in the draft (Yi Jianlian [Chad: Yi Jianlan]), but he stubbornly refuses to ignore that college basketball is about to reach its crescendo and change prospects' draft status incredibly. He is probably unaware of "March Madness" because he is in Asia for the "Chinese Playoffs".

I am pretty cold on Yi Jianlian (this is a highlight video of his better work), though I love his Chinese Nike commercial. Check it out here. This is worlds above that silly "what the hell is Steve Nash doing there?" commercial they're airing on this side of the pacific. I didn't really realize at first (because I was trying to watch Jianlian) but the essential point of the ad is "fuck fundamentals", as a bunch of punk Chinese kids throwing [white] Jason Williams passes smoke a bunch of older fat Chinese guys with their seven-foot dunking/blocking machine (Yi). This commercial is more apt to sell shoes over here without any changes than the stupid Flight School one (or whatever the hell it's called). I honestly wanted the shoes when I watched it. Speaking of advertising, if Yi does end up coming to the US and playing well, can we get another commercial where a bunch of store clerks go "Yo." and Jianlian goes "Yi!"?

[And on a less-related note, wouldn't it be pretty easy to do this ad in reverse, by putting a seven-footer on the "fundamentals" team and just shooting hook shots and blocking Chinese guys in baggy shorts?]

To get back to my point, though, what is so special about this guy? Watch the video. He is a fairly athletic seven-footer who can't post up or shoot. As Colin Sullivan said in The Departed, whoop dee fuckin do. He seems to love to hang on the rim after he dunks, and I've got a funny feeling there are some basketball players in America who won't take too kindly to that sort of thing and who carry a bit bigger sticks than Yi's Chinese contemporaries. You heard it here: Yi? Ni.

I read a piece of a a Chad Ford chat that was included in the Yi article. A question one of his readers sent in highlights both his and his readers' stupidity. It's such a pedantic, know-nothing, elementary question that lacks interest or care. I can just see Phil from LA sitting at his computer, grateful to be paying money to read about draft status and then say a bunch of stupid shit when his friends are talking about basketball, tapping away at his keyboard and sweating into the armpits of his American Eagle t-shirt: "Chad, do you think the Lakers will drop out of the 6th seed? Is the season practically over for them after the first round? Thanks! [Golly gosh, I can't believe I just spoke to Chad Ford!]"

Ford responds to this low member of sporting society: "It will be tough without Lamar, but truthfully, none of the teams that are challenging them (Nuggets, Clippers, Warriors, Kings, T-Wolves, or Hornets) are exactly lighting it up either."

With Odom out the Lakers are in dire straits, barring a miracle, and they have worse lineups than the Nuggets, Clippers, Warriors, Kings, T-Wolves, and Hornets. The team is only 33-31 as it is, and they have one of the worst defenses in the Western Conference. Unless Kobe pulls some sort of miracle out of his ass (and he's entirely capable), I can't imagine this team will keep its seed.

Phew. The next thing that bugged me was that recent list of greatest centers of all time on ESPN's web site (which is worth checking out just for the photography).

First of all, I was blown away that Kareem won. Nobody thinks "greatest center of all time" when they think Kareem, nobody. People think "He was a bit of an asshole," or "Hopefully he thanks Allah every day that Magic Johnson was born." Apparently I'm wrong, though.

I actually do like Kareem. But better than Wilt? Come on. Better than Bill Russell? No way. Better than Hakeem? Never once in his entire life. Better than Shaq? No. Period. He stuck around, scored a lot of points with one effective move, was a smart guy, and never dominated. I say again, whoop dee fuckin do.

The best center ever was a man who didn't get a single god-damned first place vote on that list, Hakeem Olajuwon. Shaq admits as much in his own biography, and pundits like Chris Sheridan and Jim O'Brien should be ashamed of themselves for giving him five out of a possible ten points.

Hakeem scored worse than Shaq, for Christ's sakes., who, as I said, will tell you that Hakeem was the only man he couldn't best. Shaq was under his control when they met head to head, at a time when Shaqmeister was averaging a mind-blowing 29.3 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game.

I don't understand how people could possibly slight such a great man, who honed his unfairly superhuman natural gifts so much that he became the best fundamental center ever and possibly the best fundamental post player in basketball's rich history. Besides his litany of post moves, he could shoot, he could hit the hook shot, and he could score off the dribble. Oh, and he was the best defensive center ever, playing in an era in which four of the greatest centers (Shaq, Ewing, Robinson, and Mourning) of all-time were playing. On top of it all he was one of the best-passing centers ever. He was the most versatile, hardest-working, most-gifted center of all time. The only person who might challenge him could be Wilt.

One of my favorite videos on Youtube is this, which shows highlights chronologically from Hakeem's beginnings (Akeem) through he championship win against New York. Some of the stuff he did is just incredible, and it's possible to Olajuwon the player evolve from his humble beginnings as a blocker/dunker (he smokes a young Michael Jordan) into an unselfish do-it-all player that will never be matched. I don't know why he doesn't get the recognition he deserves, but I do know that it makes no sense at all. Look at how his statistics progressed during his first fifteen seasons:

Points
20.6, 23.5, 23.4, 22.8, 24.8, 24.3, 21.2, 21.6, 26.1, 27.3, 27.8, 26.9, 23.2, 16.4, 18.9 (Shaq's career high: 29.3;

Rebounds
11.9, 11.5, 11.4, 12.1, 13.5, 14.0, 13.8, 12.1, 13.0, 11.9, 10.8, 10.9, 9.2, 9.8, 9.5 (Kareem was averaging 8.7 rebounds a game by the time he was 34, soon to be followed by seasons of 7.5 and 7.3)

Assists
1.4, 2.0, 2.9, 2.1, 1.8, 2.9, 2.3, 2.2, 3.5, 3.6, 3.5, 3.6, 3.0, 3.0, 1.8 (Bill Walton career high = 5.0)

Steals
1.2, 2.0, 1.9, 2.1, 2.6, 2.1, 2.2, 1.8, 1.8, 1.6, 1.8, 1.6, 1.5, 1.8, 1.6 (John Stockton career high = 3.2)

Blocks
2.7, 3.4, 3.4, 2.7, 3.4, 4.6, 3.9, 4.3, 4.2, 3.7, 3.4, 2.9, 2.2, 2.0, 2.5 (Ben Wallace career high = 3.5)

There's no argument. If you think you have one, feel free to e-mail me at dontgiveupthebasketballblog@gmail.com

2 comments:

MattG21 said...

When Hakeem blocks shots, it's unlike any other block you've ever seen. The ball is barely out of the shooter's hand by the time it is being sent to half-court by Hakeem's big, African arm.

I wish I could remember which playoff series it was, but it was later in his career, and I just remember him being unstoppable in the 4th quarter -- he scored at will against (I think) the Jazz and it was unlike anything I had ever seen.

Though I'm not a big Kareem fan, I think you're downplaying how good he was. In his younger days (Lew Alcindor) he was relatively amazing. His first 6 seasons or so his stats were unbelievable -- and he won a championship in Milwaukee. I think the way most people think of him is old and as an asshole, but his good years were very good.

When "writers" compile these lists, I wish they didn't rely so heavily on stats. A player's skill isn't necessarily portrayed in their statistics. Team chemistry and personnel can have a dramatic effect on statistics -- So can playing with Ralph Sampson...

MattG21 said...

Grizzlies Recall Alexander Johnson
15th March, 2007 - 1:18 pm
Press Release -

Memphis Grizzlies President of Basketball Operations Jerry West announced today the team has recalled forward Alexander Johnson from the NBA Development League’s Arkansas RimRockers, the Grizzlies’ D-League affiliate.

Johnson was assigned to the RimRockers on March 1, and in five games (four starts) averaged 13.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 26.4 minutes per game.