- The Season's Over -

15 Darts at the NBA Board

May 31, 2007

- Some guy named Kobe Bryant has either developed a split personality, or he’s just bored with sitting around and not being in the postseason limelight. First he says he wants to be traded, then he doesn’t want to be traded, then he definitely wants to be traded, then, well, he definitely does not want to be traded. Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski has more on Kobe’s cry for help.

- And Bill Simmons mucked around in ESPN’s Trade Machine to come up with seven deals involving Bryant that could work salary wise.

Deron Williams has arrived

- Well, the Utah Jazz have finally been eliminated, but the future is bright. Deron Williams > Chris Paul.

- True Hoop gives it the old college try in attempting to drum up some interest in Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs, and the NBA Finals. Considering the subject, I’d say he’s done a damn fine job, too.

- With so much misguided hate flowing about Detroit these days, Shannon Shelton has a nice piece in today’s Detroit Free Press about a chapel service at the Palace of Auburn Hills open both to members of the Pistons and their opponents before the game. Tayshaun Prince and Chauncey Billups are both regular attendees.

- Those Cortisone and Novocaine shots in Larry Hughes’ tore-up foot aren’t really working.

- The sun came up this morning, my cat is still shedding all over the place, and the Memphis Grizzlies have a new head coach! Marc Iavaroni comes to Memphis via the Phoenix Suns, and by all accounts he’s a solid hire who should provide some leadership stability to the constantly-in-flux Grizz. Now let’s see him develop all that young talent…

- Rasheed Wallace just wants a bagel, maybe some cereal.

- Some lively discussion going on about what the Atlanta Hawks should do with the third-overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft here, here, and here.

There are two saviors in this photo, not one

- Another writer who thinks Lebron James is the only player/team capable of “saving the playoffs.” Lebron is an exciting player, and non-Pistons fans are naturally tired of their domination in the East, but does anyone really believe a Cavs/Spurs Finals will be all that thrilling? If the Cavs advance, the outcome of the NBA Finals will not be in question. At all. Period. San Antonio would win in four or five. Definitely. Detroit would be a much tougher out, without question, and isn’t that what fans want? A competitive series?

- Okay, don’t quote me on this tomorrow if I’m wrong, but do quote me if I’m right. Here’s my prediction for tonight’s colossal Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals: Uneasiness pervades the Palace for the first 5 – 6 minutes of the game, when the Pistons miss a few easy jumpers, the Cavs hit a few, and Lebron gets a dunk in transition. Chris Webber gets in early foul trouble (again), Antonio McDyess replaces him and promptly hits three or four shots. Rasheed Wallace closes out the second quarter with two three-pointers and a post-up bucket, and the Pistons take a 8 – 10 point lead into the half. The crowd is feeling much better. The basket suddenly seems smaller for Daniel “Smirk” Gibson and Drew Gooden, and those shots that were falling in Cleveland aren’t falling in Auburn Hills. The Cavs make a late charge, but the Pistons win by 10.

- Some movement in the Boston Celtics’ coaching and front-office ranks.

- Allan Houston? Huh… I was always thought he was just a bad actor, but apparently he used to play professional basketball–and wants to do it again, if you can believe it.

- The chic attire for NBA playoff games this year have been team-branded shirts handed out at the door (think the positive “We Believe!” for Golden State, the negative “Beat Detroit!” in Cleveland). It looks pretty great on TV when 90% of the arena is adorned in the same color, but here’s a good idea for the Pistons (or, okay, Cavs if they advance) when they face the Spurs at home: pass out these fantastic “No Ginobili” shirts from Detroit Bad Boys.

- So who was that poor soul immortalized on national television (and later YouTube) as the recipient of Rasheed Wallace’s smelly, sweaty jersey in the face after the Pistons’ loss in Game 4? Detroit’s rookie point guard Will Blalock, who says he’ll try to get a lunch out of ‘Sheed for the embarassment. Something tells us, though, that it might not be a good time to ask.

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on May. 31, 2007 at 3:21pm in NBA

10 Darts at the NFL Board

May 31, 2007

- Sunblock, Mr. Cuban, sunblock. All that sun in the Cayman Islands may have fried his brain a bit, as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks has returned from vacation with newfound chutzpah to compete with the NFL. Honestly, if the UFL can cut down on the stoppages of play, the endless commercial breaks, the whistles, etc, then hell, we’re all for it.

Nnamdi Asomugha is a household name

- Somebody named Nnamdi Asomugha is rated the fourth best cornerback in the entire AFC. And for the record, the defending Super Bowl champs, at least according to this writer, have the second-worst group of corners in the conference (only those lovable Cleveland Browns are worse).

- Calvin Johnson is redefining the words “hype machine.” Is anyone else salivating about Johnson and Roy Williams lining up together?

- Condolences to family, friends, and teammates of New England Patriots defensive lineman Marquise Hill, who drowned Memorial Day weekend after a jet-ski accident in Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain. He was just 24 years old. And shame on SI.com for not monitoring their targeted ads on the story. Yes, that’s an ad for jet skis.

- The Michael Vick Saga just won’t go away. It wasn’t enough to raid his dog-fighting property and seize 66 hounds–now authorities are getting all doggy grave-digger on him.

- Cincinnati Bengals’ wide receiver Chad Johnson is a charitable guy. He’s also an entertaining guy. On June 9, he’ll prove it on both counts by racing a four-year-old horse.

- Christian Okoye is perhaps best remembered for being hard to tackle in Tecmo Bowl as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. That could all change tonight, when his life as a swashbucklin’ pirate o’ the seven seas begins on the season premiere of CBS’ Pirate Master.

- Tim Euhus is totally going to turn around the Arizona Cardinals. Him and J.J. Arrington.

- Gossip about Tony Romo with lots of cutesy football metaphors.

- There’s a red-headed C-actress in rehab right now. Chad Pennington is not in rehab, for once. We’re interested to see what kind of 2007 season the Jets’ starting QB has, and if Jerricho Cotchery makes good on all that promise and improves on his 82 catches, 961 yards, 6 touchdowns numbers of last season. If Pennington stays healthy, we think he will.

1 CommentPosted by Brian Spencer on May. 31, 2007 at 1:35pm in NFL

10 Darts at the MLB Board

May 31, 2007

One overpaid SOB

- It seems that $28 million isn’t all the Last Place Yankees have guaranteed their 44-year-old starting pitcher savior. They’ve also given him a no-trade clause.

- No, we’re not ashamed to promote ourselves once in awhile. In case you missed it, Andrew posted a fantastic look at five young guns who could help your fantasy roster (though you might want to wait on Phil Hughes for at least 2 months now).

- Jeff Passan for Yahoo! Sports has put together two pretty solid rosters for his All-Overpaid and All-Underpaid teams. We’re shocked–shocked–that anyone would consider Jason Kendall (.189, 0 HR, 13 RBI) overpaid, however, at the reasonable price tag of $13.43 million. That’s a bargain.

- Heading into a big four-game series against the Cleveland Indians (who swept them in Detroit last week), the injuries continue to pile up for the Tigers. Starting third baseman Brandon Inge will likely miss the series with a broken toe, and Carlos Guillen might miss a few as well with a mild left groin strain.

- A well thought-out case is made for $7 beers at the ballpark being a good thing.

- It’s never too early to start thinking about trades, is it?

- For the record, we can’t bring ourselves to talk about or link to anything about that non-story going on in New York about that one guy who plays third base and did something with a blonde girl in Toronto. We just won’t do it, and think it’s rather ridiculous that it was front-page news on yesterday’s New York Post.

One wild and crazy guy

- Rumors and Rants are none too pleased about minor-leaguer Mitch Hilligoss “bitching his way into continuing his hitting streak” at 36 games and counting.

- Mr. Met is totally a party animal. (via Deadspin)

- The defending World Series champ St. Louis Cardinals have been a major disappointment thus far this season. One writer sounds like he should be considered for a front-office job.

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on May. 31, 2007 at 12:13pm in MLB

10 Takes on the Eastern Conference Finals

May 30, 2007

The Cavs are trying to steal the Eastern Conference

It seems that everyone has an opinion about what to expect for the rest of this series between the Pistons and Cavs. The Pistons are too old. The Cavs don’t have enough experience to win on the road. Detroit still has the home-court advantage. Daniel Gibson has a spot reserved in the Hall of Fame. There’s dissent in the Pistons locker room.

For the record, we’re not sure what to think anymore. The Cavaliers have clearly outplayed the Pistons all four games of this series, the difference being that in the first two games Detroit made the clutch plays down the stretch, and Cleveland didn’t. The opposite happened in the last two contests. Both squads still have reason for optimism, and only time will tell which one can actually make good on what they have going for them.

Detroit has the home-court advantage (let’s see if Gibson still smirks and Gooden still hits those shots on the road), more talent up and down the bench, and more playoff-proven experience. Cleveland has the best player on the court, the momentum, and enough youthful ignorance to actually believe they can win this thing (which they might very well do). If the Pistons prevail tomorrow night, I think they close it out in seven. If the Cavaliers win, well, the Pistons will have a grueling task ahead of them just to get it back to Detroit.

Here’s what ten other writers have to say with this series tied at two games each.

Read the rest of this article »

1 CommentPosted by Brian Spencer on May. 30, 2007 at 2:33pm in NBA

Renovate–Don’t Rebuild–the Detroit Pistons

May 30, 2007

If it doesn't happen this year, will Dumars do what it takes to raise the trophy again?

In years past, as the Detroit Pistons made things more difficult on themselves than necessary in the postseason, Rip Hamilton would speak for the team in saying “if it ain’t rough, it ain’t right.” The mantra stays the same, but the sands of time are starting to muffle the reassuring resonance it once held.

Forget this series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is inexplicably tied at two games apiece heading into tomorrow night’s Game Five in Detroit. And should the Pistons snap out of a nearly eight-game funk in time to advance to the NBA Finals (which I firmly believe they will), the same cold, hard truths will still be staring this franchise in the face, title or no title: this summer, Joe Dumars has to figure out a way to renovate their roster before NBA Mediocrity knocks down the Palace door, stretches out, and puts up his feet until further notice.

On paper, the Detroit Pistons are superior to most NBA teams in terms of talent, experience, moxie, and coaching. Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton have been to the last two All-Star games, and Billups was the MVP of the NBA Finals in 2004. Rasheed Wallace has been an All-Star three times in his career. Tayshaun Prince is an all-world defender who can also score and rebound. Chris Webber is considered one of the best passing big men of all-time. Antonio McDyess is a former Team USA standout who’s overcome significant knee injuries and become a force off the bench. And between Flip Saunders, Terry Porter, Derek Harper, and Dave Cowens, there’s plenty of basketball wisdom and experience on the coaching staff.

This team was built for the playoffs, and for the last five years it’s worked. The core of this squad has been to five straight Eastern Conference Finals, and picked up one NBA title to boot. They still have a chance to win another one and cement their legacy as one of the best teams in recent NBA history.

The Pistons have also squandered even greater success. They had the San Antonio Spurs on the ropes in the 2005 NBA Finals, with a chance to go up 3-2 in the series, but ultimately came up short in Game 5 and lost the series in seven. Last year, they recorded one of the best regular seasons in history, only to wear themselves out in doing so and turning in a mostly underwhelming performance in the postseason.

Now, with a team that doesn’t hold a candle to them on paper growing more and more confident by the day, the Pistons are in serious danger of forever tainting their significant accomplishments of the last five years. The writing is on the wall: it’s time for some change.

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1 CommentPosted by Brian Spencer on May. 30, 2007 at 11:34am in ETB Articles, NBA

Fantasy MLB: Young Guns

May 29, 2007

The second blitz of young prospects getting a shot in the majors is upon us. Tim Lincecum, Hunter Pence and Phil Hughes made some big waves in a short span of time last month, and this week Kevin Slowey, Yovani Gallardo and Ryan Braun jumped into the fantasy player pool. Here’s the Lincecum analysis: he’s really good. With that out of the way, ETB checks in with Pence and and Hughes and takes a look at Braun, Gallardo and Slowey with an eye toward their fantasy futures.

This hat keeps my head safe

Ryan Braun, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers

THE add of the week has to be Ryan Braun, the new Milwaukee Brewers starting third baseman. He has some serious potential and versatility to go along with an everyday job and should be picked up in nearly every league. Braun is a player who could eventually hit 30+ home runs and steal 20+ bags, and it’s pretty hard to find that kind of production anywhere- let alone on the waiver wire. He was he 5th overall pick in the 2005 draft, and he should be able to hit for average and power right away.

Read the rest of this article »

No CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on May. 29, 2007 at 9:46pm in MLB, MLB Fantasy News

‘Sheed Cooler than a Polar Bear’s Toenails

May 29, 2007

Rasheed is stepping up it up

There was no Guaran-Sheed after the Detroit Pistons’ loss in Game 3 to the Cleveland Cavaliers. There was no braggadocio or complaining about the officials or “both teams played hard” brush-off to the media.

Rasheed Wallace will never be mistaken for a noble statesman invited to a lavish NBA party to shake hands with current or potential sponsors. David Stern would rather ‘Sheed fades into obscurity and out of the league than be the center of attention in the 2007 NBA Finals. Surely Stern prefers that Wallace not be the most quotable player in his league (which he is, with no apologies at all to the tired routine of Shaquille O’Neal).

We won’t go into a lengthy defense of Rasheed Wallace and how misinterpreted his passion for the game is. But Rob Parker’s column today in The Detroit News revealed that the Pistons’ MVP thus far in the postseason has raised some eyebrows in the wake of his team’s first loss of the Eastern Conference Finals. For once, it’s not for doing any of the things mentioned above, things he’s done in the past. For once, he’s made headlines for doing exactly the opposite:

On Monday, the day after the Pistons lost for the first time in this best-of-seven series, Wallace was a calming influence, the voice of reason. Yes, Rasheed Wallace.

Wallace, who is having his best postseason as a Piston, didn’t rant or rave before practice at Cleveland State University. He didn’t point fingers at anyone for the Pistons’ tough 88-82 loss in Game 3 on Sunday at the Quicken Loans Arena. In fact, he kept everything in perspective and showed the confidence this Pistons team is known for — even when things aren’t going as well as they would like.

“We’ll be fine,” Wallace said. “We’ll bounce back from this. We’re not the type of ball club that’ll let it linger.

“There’s no pressure. We’re out here playing. We’ve been here. They’re trying to go down the road that we’ve already been. We’re just trying to get back to that same road. We got lost, but now we’re trying to get back.”

In postseasons gone by, Wallace could have easily gone with a Guaran-Sheed as a response to that. You know, when he guarantees that the Pistons are going to win a game. He did it last year in the second round after the Cavaliers won Game 3 here and reduced their deficit to 2-1. “You can’t guarantee everything all the time,” he said. “That’s only good for once a year. If it comes up, it comes up. If not, let it be, let it ride.”

“There are no worries on this end. We’re still up, 2-1. Not taking anything away from them. They played a good game (Sunday night). New day today, new game (Tuesday).”

Now, as it always with ‘Sheed, his tune could drastically change with another Pistons loss tonight in Cleveland. His postgame press conference could be filled with R-rated language capped off by his first Guaran-Sheed of the 2007 playoffs. You never know what he’s going to do or what he’s going to say. But for now, with Chauncey Billups struggling like he is, Rasheed Wallace has been the leader, the most steadying presence, for his team on the court. And right now, he’s walking and talking like its leader *off* the court as well.

1 CommentPosted by Brian Spencer on May. 29, 2007 at 3:37pm in NBA

Manu Ginobili: Take the Good with the Bad

May 29, 2007

Derek Fisher wants nothing to do with Manu

Manu Ginobili is a lot like an average DJ at an average bar in New York. You know the one–he or she will spin a spectacular string of tracks that have you tapping your feet and nodding your head in appreciation, then suddenly launch into a god-awful stretch of tunes that leaves you abandoning a half-full beer and heading for the exit in disgust.

Last night’s performance by San Antonio’s love-him-or-hate-him sixth man was a perfect amalgamation–especially in the critical fourth quarter–of why he spurs such polarizing opinions. With the Utah Jazz charging hard and trimming their deficit to one point with about 10 minutes to go, Ginobili stepped up as he so often does, nailing a deflating three-pointer that was part of a 15-point quarter he absolutely owned.

He got to the hole, drew fouls, hit 11 free throws, frustrated any defender Jerry Sloan threw at him, and thoroughly pissed off every single Utah fan in the stands. He did it calmly, patiently taking everything in stride, and without a trace of hesitation or doubt. Ginobili knows what he can do, and he just does it.

That’s what makes him so good, one of the most difficult players to defend in the league when he’s on top of his game. However, ask Sloan, Derek Fisher, Deron Williams, or any other member of the Utah Jazz what they think about Ginobili, and I guarantee that all of them would have to bite–heck, probably swallow–their tongue to avoid launching into a heated diatribe about Ginobili’s Oscar-worthy theatrics, incessant flopping and flailing, and subversively dirty tactics. Williams, for one, couldn’t help himself: “I don’t want to say he flops,” he sighed later, “but … I mean … he flops.”

And he does flop. I don’t like it, and a lot of NBA followers don’t like it either. More and more, we’re seeing players smartly interpret the nuances about blocking and charging fouls and use it to their advantage. They’re capitalizing on the hyper-sensitive mindset of the league and its officials to increase scoring and make the game more entertaining for Joe Casual Fan (though we’re not sure how marching star players to the foul line over and over again could possibly be considered entertaining).

Can you blame players like Ginobili and Anderson Varejao? The goal is to win, and doing whatever it takes to achieve that goal is the name of the game. Even if it means insulting the game of professional baseketball.

Ginobili perfectly understands that. He knows opposing players go absolutely mental when he throws his body to the ground after a foul like Rocky Balboa just landed a haymaker to his chin. He knows it frustrates them. Last night, Ginobili put himself in a position to succeed… and the refs in a position to blow their whistles on a series of questionable plays. There were some phantom fouls called, make no mistake about it, strictly based on Manu’s body language, his flailing, and his flopping.

The most egregious incident was probably the one that spun the wheels in motion for Derek Fisher’s eventual ejection, when Ginobili ran back down on defense after hitting a layup, came into contact with Fisher (who had his back turned and was running down the court as well), and flailed back like Fisher had bodychecked him a la Robert Horry on Steve Nash. Once Ginobili realized how exasperated the Jazz were getting, he really laid it on heavy for the rest of the game, behavior that got everyone in the building not wearing a black-and-silver jersey worked up beyond belief and resulted in ejections of Sloan and Fisher and debris being thrown on the court by the fans.

Manu Ginobili will take it. The Spurs won by 14 points and will now look to close the series out Wednesday night at home. Afterwards, he played the innocent bystander card to perfection, saying about Fisher “I don’t know why he got upset” and “I can’t recall anything for (Fisher’s shot) to happen, but if that helps the team win and get a couple of easy free throws, I’m ready to do it.”

Spurs fans love him. Opposing fans hate him. He’s a clutch player with talent to spare–and one of the league’s premier irritants who, when necessary, can take flopping to new levels. When it comes to Manu Ginobili, there’s no choice but to take the good with the bad.

3 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on May. 29, 2007 at 10:20am in NBA

15 Darts at the NBA and MLB Boards

May 28, 2007

Caron Butler likes birthday parties

- Wonderful story over at the D.C. Sports Bog about a surprise appearance by the Washington Wizards’ Caron Butler at a fan’s 16th birthday party. I mean, isn’t this every kid’s dream? (Okay, there are other things post-pubescent teens dream about and wish for, but we’re not going there.) You come home, and sitting there on your couch is an NBA all-star, who chills with you and your friends, gives you an autographed poster and pair of sneaks, and puts Gilbert Areanas on the phone with you as he leaves. Very cool, Caron.

- Utah Jazz rookie forward Paul Millsap tells Hoops Addict in an exclusive interview that he experienced a strong sense of self-doubt on draft day last year (he wasn’t taken until the second round). I think he’s over it now, don’t you?

- Rasheed Wallace, feeling good about Jason Maxiell. Gotta love ‘Sheed.

- Arizona Diamondbacks rookie Mark Reynolds is compared to a prolific steroids gobbler in the best possible way.

- Zydrunas Ilgauskas was asked if teammate Anderson Varejao flops in practice: “We ask him not to do it because he can trip somebody or land on somebody’s foot. Like I said, he goes 100 miles an hour.”

- The first trace of mild criticism over True Hoop’s move to ESPN.

- A nice look at the impact of first-overall picks in the NBA draft, dating back to Patrick Ewing in 1985 for the New York Knickerbockers.

- Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl is insisting that if/when his son, Coby Karl, joins the team this summer and magically becomes a part of the rotation next season, that it won’t just be because he’s his son. Right. Here’s Karl’s unbiased appraisal of Karl, who is recovering from his second operation for thyroid cancer: “The trainers told me Coby was in better shape than anyone else. Our dream has been to be on a team as coach and player. I think he’s a fit for us, and he would give this team some of the things we need.”

They like to gossip about Flip

- The Flip Saunders obsession by Minnesota sports writers is reaching historic levels. They just won’t give up it up–yet another baseless rumor that Saunders will be rejoined with KG, this time as the Los Angeles Lakers head coach.

- There’s something in the soft drinks in Seattle–Jones Soda, to be exact. Sports fans at Qwest Field will be exclusively sucking down the small company’s beverages for at least the next five years, and we think it’s great. Not often you see David beat down corporate goliaths (Coke and Pepsi) these days, especially when it comes to professional sports. (via Football Outsiders)

- Rumor that Jason Terry is being shopped around the league.

- Two homers from Ryan Howard yesterday has Philadelphia Phillies fans psyched.

- Charley Rosen still looking for any opportunity to be down on the Detroit Pistons, saying that it might be too late for the Pistons to play like “legitimate championship contenders” because now that Lebron had one good game, he could be on his way to accomplishing “ruthless and valiant deeds.”

- What’s wrong with the Texas Rangers?

- Finally, two intergalatic luminaries denounce professional baseball:

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on May. 28, 2007 at 4:17pm in MLB, NBA

Report: Tony Parker is Sexy and Well-Paid

May 28, 2007

Sexpot

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist David Aldridge doesn’t understand why more basketball fans aren’t embracing the San Antonio Spurs. There’s just so much to like, he reasons, from Manu Ginobili’s flopping clutch shooting to Tim Duncan’s mastery of post-up moves. They have a coach who enjoys drinking wine and a, um, former 76er in Bruce Bowen.

Perhaps most of all, however, Aldridge says starting point guard Tony Parker is one of the main reasons why NBA fans should be drawn to the Spurs’ methodical brand of winning games and championships. I mean, c’mon, Tony P is engaged to a B-actress, people!

“I don’t consider myself boring,” Spurs guard Tony Parker said this week. And on the surface, how could you argue? He plays an exciting, get-in-the-paint style. He may be the quickest guard in the league with the ball. He has a repertoire of electric moves around the basket. He’s good looking, well-paid, multilingual.

And he’s engaged to Eva Longoria.

“I just think we play solid,” Parker said. “We play just like real basketball. Sometimes people get used to Golden State and Phoenix, and that’s more exciting than us. I’m not going to tell you the opposite. But I think we play solid basketball, and people who really enjoy basketball, they’re going to enjoy watching us play.”

We’re on board with you, Mr. Aldridge. We’ve long harbored a secret crush on the French gangsta rapper, and now it’s time to let the rest of the world know it. Tony P’s butt? A rock-solid hunk of burning desire. His triceps and abdominal obliques send chills up our spine. And that adorable little face of his that makes us fondly think of Gollem, our favorite character from Lord of the Rings? Oooooooh, someone turn the heat down in here!

Listen up, America: the Spurs have a very good chance of advancing to the NBA Finals again next week. It’s essential to come up with at least one reason to root for them to go all the way. Tony P’s libidinous good looks and carnal sex appeal is as good an excuse as any to tune in, turn down the lights, and slowly munch on some popcorn as you watch that sexy Frenchman dart in and out, in and out, of the lane.

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on May. 28, 2007 at 1:56pm in NBA

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