Saturday, February 17, 2007

This Post Has Been Certified 100% Free of Swingers References

Quick hits on the All Star skills contest:

Props to Gerald Green wearing a #2 on his headband for Red Auerbach. And the dunk contest was definitely his, despite the fact that his last dunk should not have really been an all 10 score, which the judges gave him. That was definitely a "this contest is over" score after Nate-Rob blew his last dunk.

In fairness to Nate, his first dunk (the last one in this group) was my favorite of the night. Even more than Dwight Howard's "sticker dunk" (which was sick, and unfairly gypped by the judges). We kill Nate here, but I have to hand it to him; he did well through those first two rounds and, damn, that first dunk. You had to see it.

Green pulled out all the stops. He pulled off his jersey to reveal a retro (Dee Brown). He changed sneakers and even pumped them up before doing the no-look (a la Brown), and, in a genius move, was all set to dunk over a life-size cardboard cutout of Nate-Rob, until Nate himself stood in for the cutout (great Nate reaction shot as Green's balls whistled over his forehead).

Vote Barkley '08

In the upset of the night, Charles Barkley beat Dick Bavetta in their long-awaited foot race. Fittingly, both ended the race sprawled on the floor. Bavetta because he made a last-ditch effort to dive head-first to make up ground. Ask any major league first base coach, that head-first slide don't work, son. Barkley sprawled backward on his ass through the finish line since he'd turned around to mock Bavetta by backpedaling. But the day was his. Both competitors were gracious and classy after the event, and Sir Charles was happy to point out that "two hands of black jack" were being donated to charity ($50,000).

Gimme All Three of These

I had Arenas taking out Dirk in the three-point contest, but Jason Kapono< played spoiler and, well, spoiled it. The Heat are boring. Sorry. Good for Jason, but he'll never have Agent Zero's swag.

Friday, February 16, 2007

E-City, Lift Up Your Weary Head!

It's the last night of NBA basketball before the end of the first half, and Ernie Johnson is being carried in to the outdoor Las Vegas TNT studio on a velvet sedan chair by, in a potentially awkward bit of racial imagery, four large black men dressed as Roman guards. Barkley and the Jet look on in disbelief, yelling "Are you kidding me?!"

You know what this means, folks: it's All Star time!

The Knicks don't have any all stars. Nate-Rob is returning to the dunk contest, of course, and Eddy Curry may have been close, by the numbers, perhaps. Or just by virtue of the long-lamented death of the True Center. But a few games ago one broadcaster -- I think it was Gus Johnson -- put it well, saying, basically, E-City can't be an all star while still playing this much shy of his potential. At this point he might well be the most depressing Knick, even if he's one of the best. In fact, it's probably because he's one of the best. You might roll your eyes at Nate Robinson's antics, but what else do you expect from the guy? Eddy Curry, on the other hand, should be absolutely shitting on people down low all the time. As it is, he only does it when he feels like it. He's a 6'11" 285-pound center who refuses to block shots or rebound (he can pull in six or seven a game be accident).

It's appropriate he's been tabbed by Isiah as the guy the team is built around, because that mood of depressed expectations that surrounds him also sums up the state of the team. Here at the halfway mark they have 23 wins, matching their total from all of last year. Progress? Sure. But can't you just feel that buzz rumbling up in New York about our rejuvenated hoops team? No? Me neither.

* * *
They Also Mourn Who Do Not Wear Orange and Blue

The sports blog That's On Point came out with a list of the NBA's worst players today, the Ira Newble All-Stars. I don't really know how to break this to you all, but Jerome James made the list. I'm not that familiar with T.O.P., but they had me at this line:
Isiah Thomas could’ve spent that $35 million better if he lit it on fire in Penn Station and doused it out with the contents of Jim Dolan’s liquor cabinet.
For a depressing end to a depressing post, let's do a little Knicks salary pop quiz:
  1. Who is the highest-paid Knick this year?
  2. How much are the Knicks paying Shandon Anderson for his contributions to the '06-'07 squad?
  3. How many McGriddles will Jerome James be able to by with his '08-'09 salary?
The answers:
  1. Allan Houston ($20,718,750)
  2. $8,500,000
  3. 2,831,050 McGriddles (based on $2.19 per McGriddle for the egg, bacon, and cheese variety)
The Ira Newble All-Stars '07 [That's On Point]

Monday, February 12, 2007

Lupus and The Baron Davis Mean

The Knicks came out on Saturday in the SLC with orange headbands. What to make of this? First, it should be noted that not everyone looks good in a headband.

For the style conscious baller, there are many options. An array of wristbands and arm bands. Neck tats. A mouthpiece with team colors. That weird patch of hair on the back of Drew Gooden's head. A color coordinated shooting arm sleeve, which is now even being worn by Matt Carroll. But you've got to have the right type of head if you're going to wear a headband. An angular Ginoblian head will no do. As we all know intuitively, Headband success is dictated by The Baron Davis Mean, which states the following,

"A headband is aesthetically pleasing in direct proportion to the extent to which any given player's skull resembles a perfect spheroid."

But why orange? Unity for the three-game, West Coast roadie? Mere chance? Some sort of intra-team color-coded warning level? According this and this , I'm guessing the orange headbands represent that the Knicks are finally joining the fight against Lupus. Or Hunger Awareness. Or all of them, because orange can denote the following:

This is a general awareness bracelet. Orange can stand for the following causes: Cultural Diversity, Hunger Awareness, Leukemia, Lupus, Melanoma, and more.

[Regarding the second link and color-coded "Live Strong" bracelets in general, I have to weigh in here. Least Impressive Color by Severity of Maladies it Represents: Periwinkle, which can represent eating disorders, esophageal cancer, GERD, irritable bowel syndrome and hypertension). "I wear this bracelet in hopes that someday -- maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday -- our society will eradicate irritable bowel syndrome!" Most Confusing Color by the Diversity of Maladies it Represents: Yellow, which can represent amber alert, bladder cancer, endometriosis, equality, liver diseases/cancers, missing children, POW/MIA, spina bifida, suicide and, of course, troop support)]

Balling to cure Lupus? That's tough. There's a lot of pressure when you're united in a struggle that's larger than either you or I (even if you're Jerome James). Melanoma, Diversity, Lupus. No one should have to shoulder that kind of weight. Thus, the pressure of solving the world's problems led the Knicks to turn the ball over 22 times and blow a ten-point lead in the fourth quarter. This is easy to do when 19,000 white people (and, maybe, Karl Malone) are rooting against you, and EnergySoutions Arena is rocking. No, my friends, greatness does not come without great cost in EnergySolutions Arena.

(For the record, SLC's crowd was WAY too into this game. Okay, Salt Lake this is the NBA regular season. It's basically pick up, ok? No need to be throwing bows and calling out, ah, like, PLAYS and stuff. Granted, it was an OT game and the Jazz have a chance to advance past the first round this year, but either A). nothing else was going on in SLC that Saturday night or B). they Utahians actually got their jollies routing against the ostensibly thugged-out Knickerbockers. Alright, maybe it was both).

  • Andrei Kirilenko has joined Scott Pollard in forming a Rancid tribute band. That's the only explanation for their Mohawks. I won't entertain any other theories.
  • Stevie Franchise made his return to the Knicks lineup. I like Stevie Cancer as a nickname, but I think we can do more with "Stevie Franchise." How about this? "Turned out that the "Franchise" in Steve "Franchise" was a Jack in the Box franchise!" Sorry. Not surprisingly, Francis looked lost and committed some key turnovers down the stretch. Better, we got this line from Clyde: "Steve Francis has had his difficulties trying to dribble the ball." Hmm, that's not good. You're going to have to dribble at some point, Steve.
  • I'm missing Forrest Whitaker hosting SNL for, this?! Kinda poor taste that Forrest's agent booked him on SNL. I mean, the guy played Idi Amin. (Agent: "Hey, guys, Forrest is hot! He's the most convincing tyrant since Cybil Shepard played Martha Stewart in Martha, Inc.) Oscar consideration aside, does it seem appropriate that a guy who played someone responsible for some 300,000 deaths appear on a sketch comedy show with Seth Myers -- the grinniest guy on TV, by far -- and that guy from Good Burger?

"Next week, on SNL the guy who raped Dakota Fanning in 'Houndog'! Featuring musical guest, The Fray!"

  • As of Saturday, David Lee has a black eye and an headband that won't stay on straight. He looks like a member of Our Gang. (Eddy Curry, in this analogy, is Spanky).
The end result: Knicks fail to get a couple of egregiously suspect calls, Lee gets a technical foul after complaining about a call, the Knicks get caught trying to pass it into Curry on every possession, and Crawford, never really interested in actually being able to visually locate the player he's guarding, gets back-doored, Pete Carril style, by Derek Fisher. On NBC, Forrest Whitaker is playing a waiter who sings too much! If I had a headband, I'd pull it over my eyes.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Curry Speaks!

Let me jump in and post late-breaking style.

The Daily News and the Star-Ledger are reporting some interesting words of one Eddy Curry (via's Rumor Central).

So Eddy, what's up?

Asked if he'd be surprised if Garden chairman James Dolan fires Thomas, Curry said, "Yeah, I'll be shocked. I'll be pissed. I'll be trying to get out of here."
Out of here?
"Definitely. I'd be on my way out."
Gives us some interesting stuff to think about. Is that a threat or a promise? Mainly, I'm left with this question: why can you say "pissed" in the Daily News but not in the Star-Ledger?

Curry favors his boss [NY Daily News]
Curry: I'm out if Isiah is fired [Newark Star-Ledger]

Meet the New Boss, the Son of the Old Boss

Look, we've all heard the old saws about absolute power corrupting absolutely, but what about dynastic wealth bestowed upon the second generation? The 2nd-gen editions of success in America (I'm thinking of last names like Hilton, Osborne, Hogan, even, ah, Bush) can't help but make you yearn for the past when the oligarchs kept their kids in the country club. The outlook for these types today is grim: one generation makes wealth, the next snorts it up while huddled in the bathroom of a Los Angeles club with Lionel Ritchie's daughter, the son of a Greek shipping magnate and some twitchy guy in a blazer who may or may not have been a tertiary character on last year's season of Laguna Beach. Maybe Matt Leinart is involved if you're lucky. It's not pretty.

So, before I drop my own faux Michael Lewis-ian rant about S.L. Price's profile of Dolan in Sports Illustrated, let me just say that Dolan is an early-model version of this archetype. That's right, I said it: James Dolan was the prototype for today's Paris Hiltons. Think about it - hugely successful families, odd fascination with the public eye, flirtation with a career in music, broad addictions, profligacy and irresponsibility, rehab.

But what happens when one of these schmucks actually runs a company? Where are the market consequences to James Dolan's mismanagement? Besides the knee-jerk disgust that, as a Knicks fan, I can't help but feeling over James D's d-bagitude, Price's article reveals just insulated from the team's struggles the guy actually is. On some level, this is obvious -- he's the bosses' son, he can't be fired. Cablevision is a public company which owns the Garden and the Knicks , but its entertainment division isn't its main source of revenue. On a personal level, the guy's a billionaire and really has never been subject to, say, health care cost increases or getting laid off. Cablevision could go bankrupt and the Dolan family would still turn out alright.
The man who is in charge of the Knicks is protected from the entire idea of a performance-driven market, in a way that's remarkable even in the salary-capped NBA. Contracts are bought out and not sold or traded as the market demands, effectively valuing them at twice their worth. Rather than exploring the market for better candidates with proven track records, Isiah Thomas is hired, fails miserably at his job over a three-year period and is then given, you guessed it, more responsibility. From the market-as-metaphor department, working class anthems, as described in Price's piece, are mocked by the scion of a family that owns the vast majority of a company with a market capitalization of almost $9 billion. Let's be specific, Price is talking about our owner holding an electric guitar and turning "Born to Run" into, effectively, "I'm a Rich Man's Son."

In this scene, James Dolan singing directly to Dave Checkets, then the Garden's top guy and likely the last voice of reason. Keep in mind this happened back in 2001. The scene that Price describes proved to be so damn prophetic for Knicks fans, it might as well have been written on a stone tablet.

"Dave, this company rips the bones from your back:
It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap.
You should have got out while you were young...
Because I have something to tell you: I'm Chuck Do- lan's son!"
Later, there are several examples of the ex-addict and alchoholic yelling at his underlings. Then there he is sitting courtside because, he says, it helps him be a more effective manager.
"I'm actually looking at them and saying, 'I sign your check. When you do great, I feel great. When you do bad, I feel bad.'"
There's the expected exodus of employees, the addictions and, while the Knicks were approaching the NBA Finals in 1993, there was the inevitable 12-step rehab conversion at Hazelden, the site of many a rich kid's salvation. There's Bush-like insistance to "Follow the plan" and a Rove-ian all-out shunning of the media. The highlight, for this reader, was a hilarious scene where Dolan issues an angry, all-out objection to an increased Rangers budget for the upcoming NHL season, while failing to realize that last year's budget reflected A LOCKOUT SHORTENED SEASON. Apparently, Jimmy D has trouble understanding the concept of numerical value.

From a fan's perspective it's hard to find anything very pleasant about Price's piece on Dolan (he does call Eddy Curry "a revelation," a claim which shall be dealt with in future posts). The fact that Dolan reached out to Vin and Tonic and supports Mutumbo's charities really isn't a consolation. Knowing that your beloved sports franchise is being run by a egomaniacal ex-addict prone to angry outbursts is never a good thing. And it may not be better than having the team be in the hands of that guy from Laguna Beach.

[All references to 'market-driven' are completely ripped off from Michael Lewis without permission]

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The Wages of Sin

Here's the thing. We know why we're rooting against our team. We know why it's necessary. But if we think that knowledge leaves us innocent, that there won't be a judgment, well, I'm afraid it isn't that easy. We're angering the spirits of the ancestors here and we need to accept that and face our punishment. Which brings us to tonight's game.

Join the Mike Breen for President '08 Coordinating Committee:

"I've always thought anyone who does the wave should have their season tickets revoked." - Mike Breen, 4th quarter tonight.

Hearty kudos and salutations to you, Breeny! There is no excuse, no excuse, for that sort of behavior in the Garden. The Garden, for Christ's sake! IN MY HOME! IN MY BEDROOM! WHERE MY WIFE SLEEPS! ... where my children play with their toys.

That shit won't even fly at Conseco freaking Fieldhouse, and we're looking at it in the Garden?! Is this what happens when all your self-respect is gone? You root against your own team long enough that finally you lose all sense of identity and pride you ever had?

And so the ancestors have their say. The punishment is a losing just a little bit of your soul. Hey, I never said the ancestors were fair. We're doing what we have to do; they're doing what they have to do.

Am I Allowed to Enjoy Elton Brand?: One of the secret, arguably shameful joys of fantanking is how it loosens you up about enjoying the performance of opposing players. Now, a fan can always appreciate the play of a LeBron or an Agent Zero (especially, for some reason, with the NBA. It doesn't always work that way in other sports. Or maybe it's me). Really enjoying it is another matter. Should I feel bad watching Elton Brand methodically give the business to the Knicks throughout that first half?

See, this is where it always gets tricky for fans of bad teams. If you want to get into the lottery (um, not a factor for the Knicks) or get your coach or GM fired (there we are!) you can feel confident that you're wishing the best for your team by wishing the worst. But should you enjoy it? I'm not so sure you should. But here I go. In fact, I'm not ashamed of rooting for Elton to do his thing. Even at the risk of losing more shreds of my sports fan's soul. Anyway, none of this is why I ask the question.

What I mean is this: should I feel bad about rooting for Elton Brand because he went to Duke?

Jerome James Starts: The talk pre-game is that the Knicks are showcasing Big Snacks for a potential trade, but Breeny and Clyde also discuss how James provides the Knicks with a defensive presence to help out Eddy Curry. You know, because it's always a good sign when you need to supplement your center with a "defensive presence" like James. While Frye and Lee wait it out on the bench.

At the 3:16 mark James has committed two fouls and gets lifted for Lee. Breen: "And this experiment comes to an end." The Knicks immediately go on a 9-0 run. James never returns. Somewhere, LZ Granderson is molesting a collie.

The Al Trautwig Suicide Watch Enters Month #2: The Bounce expressed concern a couple weeks ago for the well-being of Al Trautwig, saying:

The guy looks like he almost cares. He looks like he just found his daughter's Myspace page. Something in his voice tells me he'll quit before the season ends, leaving MSG with no choice but to promote Bobbito Garcia.

Well, poor Trautwig is still far from recovery, telling us pre-game that the Knicks will be taking on "Elton Brant" and the Clippers.

All in all, it's really been downhill for Al since his Cool Runnings cameo. Although he did snap back long enough to slap the crowd's collective wrist for the whole wave thing.

Style Notes:

  • Quentin Richardson carries a European carryall. I'm sorry you had to hear it from me. (Cameras caught him on the way into the Garden. Photographic evidence if/when it appears.)

  • Why didn't anybody consult with me before giving Chris Kaman permission to cut his hair?

By the Way, Did You Want That Piece of Your Soul Back? Here You Go: