Loosely Connected Observations From The First Week of the Season

A few thoughts from the first week of NBA ball:

  • Looks like palming and traveling has gone the way of defensive 3 seconds.Maybe this is a way to amp up scoring–kind of like how NFL started making rules that only benefit offensive players.
  • Lakers-Rockets on opening night was fun. It reminded me of watching a Drew league game, or an All Star Game where everyone but James Harden had missed the bus, and they had  to suit up all the players who were in town just for the weekend festivities. I actually like this post Kobe era for the Lakers. Its pretty refreshing to see watch a Lakers game and not feel hate.
  • Watched the Kings-Spurs game from the other night. Ben Mclemore may have found his calling in the league as a scorer off the bench. It’s easy to forget that he is just a baby, but he has a lot of time to still hit his peak as a basketball player. I hope he finds a good team someday. Until then, Ben has to learn how to protect his cookies.
  • Speaking of the Spurs. I wasn’t very hype on them coming into the season, but they look really good. They have a nice balance of veteran leadership (a combined 14 championship rings on this roster) and some good young cats. I like what little I’ve seen of Latvian forward, Davis Bertrans, who has impressed me with his 3 point range. I’ve often talked shit about David Lee’s one on one defense, but he is actually a decent help defender. Also, I think he has a chip on his shoulder. After sitting the past 2 seasons, dude looks hungry. Kudos on the pickup Mr. Buford. Last but not least….Kawhi “frigging” Leonard!!!!!!! I cannot believe this is the same kid who found himself in a moment too big during the 2013 NBA Finals. He is ridiculously good right now.
  • Lakers-Pacers definitely was the Good Ass Game of the Week last week with their overtime affair (Those Pacers cheerleaders tho!!!! MPPPPHHHHHH), but one of my favorite moments last week was watching Damien Lillard and old Joe Jhnson go basket for basket in the 4th quarter of the Blazers vs. Jazz. Maybe we will get lucky and they face off in the first round of the playoffs. Although I gotta say, I’m not sold on Quinn Snyder as an NBA coach. He just seems too uptight. Maybe the Salt Lake City cuisine has him constipated.
  • Speaking of Lillard, Dame says he wants to win the MVP. I have mixed feelings on him publicly making this statement. On one hand, him winning MVP would obviously correlate with the Blazers having a great regular season. On the other hand, it sounds like Lillard worrying about something he cannot control. MVP is a subjective award. Saying at the beginning of the season that you want to win MVP is like a musician publicly saying that he wants the album he is working on to win a Grammy. Perhaps it is better to just do the best you can and let the product speak for itself.

 

We have some good ass games this week. If you have a way to watch them without accessing League Pass then you are already ahead of the game. I can’t believe that a mulit-billion dollar industry can’t find a way to hire people to fix their digital media site. It is befuddling and infuriating.

Demand for NBA is at an all time high. With so much interest in this year’s season, Adam Silver couldn’t have picked a worse time to drop the ball on that front. I hope they work this out soon, otherwise it will be a perpetually sour season for this hoops fan. I may abandon sportswatching altogether and just focus on being a normal human being. Or maybe I’ll just become a full fledged soccer guy. Chew on that reality for a minute.

 

Peace,

BM

 

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at FullsassStudios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

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The Finish Line

Here we are at the finish line. If the season ended today, the first round would look like this:

Eastern Conference

Cleveland vs Indiana

Toronto vs. Detroit

Atlanta vs. Charlotte

Boston vs. Miami

Western Conference

Golden State vs. Utah (please Hoops Gods, for the love of everything sacred about basketball, don’t let the Rockets get in)

San Antonio vs. Dallas

Oklahoma City vs. Memphis

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Portland

Wednesday is the last day of the regular season. By Thursday the playoff matchups will be set, and by then it will be fairly easy to predict what the Finals matchup will look like. At this point, Golden State vs. Cleveland seems to be a forgone conclusion, but anything can happen in 2 months of playoff ball.

Spurs fans should pray that someone beats up, or knocks off the Warriors before a potential playoff meeting, because that is a really bad matchup for them. The length and athleticism on Golden State is just too much for San Antonio. Watching them play reminds me of the Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis fight. Lewis was too fast, too strong, for the past his prime Tyson.

The Warriors have a far superior backcourt, and the slim advantages that the Spurs have in depth and coaching aren’t enough to overcome that mismatch (Not to mention that Harrison Barnes is a huge x factor to plan against, Barnes is about to get PAID).

Despite the postseason outcome becoming fairly apparent way early in the season, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what this year brought. The Timberwolves were a nice little story despite the Flip Saunders tragedy. Karl Anthony Towns is going to be a force to reckon with, and Andrew Wiggins can be the Kobe to his Shaquille (but without the fight for Alpha dog status). The Spurs had a very fun and memorable season and despite what happens going forward, it will be remembered as a success.

There was a lot of goofy shit that happened off the court that isn’t worth getting into, but it did affect the on the court product for the Lakers, Clippers, Sixers, the Cavaliers, and the Kings. People who expected the Pelicans and Bucks to improve upon last year’s success were disappointed.  Hopefully next year will be just as exciting on the court, but with less off the court b.s. My wish list? Alright, twist my arm.

  1. Shabazz  Muhammad to the Mavericks. I think he and  Rick Carlisle would be good for each other.
  2. Tom Thibodeau to Sacramento. All I want in this life is to see Ben Mclemore and “Boogie Down” Cousins to play for a real coach.That Kings team was too talented to not make the playoffs this year. #dysfunctionjunction
  3. Kevin Durant to Golden State and Harrison Barnes to Portland. Aren’t you just a little curious? Despite what people think, I’m not sure KD is obsessed with getting his touches. I bet he’d be satisfied with an 11 for 15 line and a legitimate chance at a chip. For some reason I think Barnes with Damien Lillard and C.J. McCollum would be a great trio to build around. All you would need to do was add a rim protector and suddenly they are a contender.
  4. Thomas Robinson to the Spurs. T-Rob has not gotten a fair shake in this league yet. I think Gregg Popovich could use a guy like that. Imagine Dejuan Blair, but with knees.
  5. Shelvin Mack and Gordon Heyward to Boston. I know it is unrealistic, but I can’t be the only one fantasizing about them reuniting with Brad Stevens. The “Salt Lake City Punks” would be crazy to give up Heyward. It is in Utah’s contract to always have a white superstar for their franchise, and Heyward is that face. gordon-hayward-nba-utah-jazz-golden-state-warriors5

If at least one of these things occurs, I will consider the 2017 season a success.

I’m not sure how many of you have subscribed to Shea Serrano‘s Basketball and (Other Things) Newsletter, but I would recommend you peep game. Last week’s “Assault on Precinct 1” issue was easily one of the funniest things I have come across this year. It was so good that it inspired me to do an ESPN REMIX using the exact same premise. You can’t be the “World Wide Leader” without having snitches, police, double agents, and confessions. So according to the format provided by Serrano, just who on ESPN is police?

Are Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith police?  Typically in comic books, graphic novels, Edgar Allen Poe short stories, movies and television shows, the police are depicted as inept, bumbling and comical—“so dumb that they have to be told to come out of the rain” as an English professor once told me. Bayless and Smith, if they are cops, would be likened to the Smitty and Hoppy characters from Sanford and Son. Bayless and Smith are mostly on some harmless buffonery in ESPN’s attempt to get ratings. I guess it works. People watch them and let themselves worked up. Do they mislead people to get ratings? Do they take quotes out of context and run with them? Oh you betcha. Do they say things they really don’t believe just to stir up controversy? Absolutely. They are definitely the “Po-Po.”

Is Bill Simmons the police? You ever see those cop shows, where there is a detective who always thinks he is the smartest guy in the room? You know– the cop who does things according to his rules, they call them “rogue cops.” That is Simmons. Simmons thought he was Dirty Harry, but went out more like Officer McNulty from the Wire.  Simmons got wind of the corruption in City Hall and threatened to expose it. Tired of the office politics at his particular station, Simmons goes rogue once too many times, and gets shown his walking papers. The police chief, John Skipper said “Gimme your badge Simmons. You’re done here. Consider yourself retired, you can cash in your pension at the district offices.” Then Simmons was like ” Fuck this department. You know where you would be without me? You’d still be showing Roy Firestone interviews on ESPN2, on the 4pm time slot, if it weren’t for my brilliant police work.” Then on his way out, he slams the office door so hard that the glass shatters everywhere. Skipper’s personal assistant immediately tries using his stack of paperwork for a dustpan as Simmons walked past him, but Skipper tells him to just leave it. Simmons then waits outside the station for his Uber before the scene cuts to a commercial. So yes. Bill Simmons was once police. Now he is not. He’s more like a private detective now.

Is Dan Lebatard the police? Yes, but in the way that David Simon was police. Simply putting reporting crime in hopes of weaving together a tale that will someday get him a tv deal.

Is Zach Lowe the police? No. Even in a fictional world, Zach Lowe is a reporter who just wants to do good work and go home to his family. He is thorough, and methodical and enjoys his job. He is a man above the corruption and politics. He usually asks the right questions that hint at plot twists, and reveals. In a police movie, he would be the reporter who got himself kidnapped because he got a little too close to the truth.

Is Jason Whitlock police? HA! Have you seen Jason Whitlock? He wouldn’t be able to pass the physical exam. If he were police, he’d be an extra on a Police Academy remake. That being said, Jason Whitlock has a reputation of being a hater, and a suspected snitch.

Is Adam Schefter police? Man. What do you think? Is there anybody on that staff with more eyes and ears on the streets than Adam Schefter? Schefter is the kind of cop whose motto is you are only as good of police as your informants.” Hell yeah he police.

Other notable ESPN police:

Amin Elhassan- Yes. A dirty one. Officer Friendly from Master P’s “I’m Bout it” movie. He is every black cop you’ve ever seen (on tv or in real life) who is an asshole for no reason at all. That being said, a great twitter follow. The man is such a fantastic shit to everyone (to be fair he’s bombarded with tons of idiotic tweets) that it is impossible to take your eyes off his timeline, but it may be better just to avoid this guy altogether if you to. 

David Jacoby –Maybe he is, or maybe he isn’t. But anybody who claims to love hip hop and says they don’t know about Nelly’s “Tip Drill” video, is in my mind suspect. “Pleasssssse. Check him for a wire or an ear piece.”

Notable Non-Police:

Jalen Rose– Just that dude from the neighborhood who knows everything that is going down before it even happens. Homie is like Huggy Bear from the Starsky and Hutch series. He may work with police, but he ain’t police. Also check out his autobiography, “Got to Give the People What They Want.” It is a pretty entertaining read. I’ll be doing a book review on it later this week on the site.

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Bomani Jones– HELLLLLLLLLLL NO!

jones

 

Big ups to Shea Serrano, one of my favorite writers right now, who I hope isn’t offended that I borrowed his format and ran with it. As a hip hop fan (whose book I will be purchasing this week sometime), I hope he thinks of this as someone freestyling over a beat he made hot, as opposed to straight biting his style (Call me crazy, but I think we may be able to get him on the Full Sass Podcast someday).

Good Ass Games of the Week are posted below, and remember folks, “Be careful out there.”

 

Peace,

BM

#fullsass #thisagoodassgame

thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

 

Good Ass Games of The Week:

 

Monday

Dallas-Utah 

Somebody has to play the Spurs, and somebody has to play the Warriors.  This game is basically flipping a coin to determine their team’s playoff fate.

Charlotte-Boston

Both teams are just jockeying for seedings, but no matter the result, it looks like those first round matchups out east are pretty much set.

 

“Tap That Vein” Tuesday

Memphis- Los Angeles Clippers 

This may be a preview. We may see these teams face off in the playoffs. This is like getting a first round bye for whoever gets to play Memphis. They got decimated with injuries this year and still made the playoffs. #respect

Oklahoma City- San Antonio

I doubt either team will play their starters, but it is always fun to watch the Spurs bench whup on the other teams’ reserve players.

 

Wednesday

Spurs-Dallas

Dallas will try to win this game and still may get blown out.

Memphis-Golden State (Good Ass Game of The Week)

This could be win number 73 or this could be win number 72. We’ll see how San Antonio plays things tonight against the Dubs.

 

END OF SEASON. NEXT WEEK: FULLSASS PLAYOFF PREVIEW

 

 

Warming Up As It Is Cooling Down [Originally posted on sportsblog.com 10/24/13]

There is an excitement here in Lawrence that is hard to describe if you are not here experiencing it. It’s been a quietly slow buildup in this sleepy little town, but you can see the excitement creeping onto the locals’ faces.

You’ll see people here wearing the Jayhawks swag year round–but they seem to wear it with a different fervor now that the basketball season is (nearly) here.

The first game against Pittsburgh State is next Tuesday the 29th. Jayhawks tickets have been notoriously difficult to obtain for non-students and non-big wig donors. I looked up a ticket for KU- Georgetown on Stub Hub and the cheapest ticket could be fetched for a little over 200 dollars.

I imagine a ticket to this first game will be nearly impossible to get if you don’t already have one. The first game I ever went to nearly two years ago, I paid 80 bucks to a scalper. That team wasn’t nearly as hyped as this one–with Andrew Wiggins and the other flock of new athletic faces on this year’s roster.

Over 3,000 people were turned away for “Late Night at the Phog”, an event where the town gets to first see the (both Men and Women) basketball team in action during scrimmages. It’s an open event that is free to the public, but it is first come first served seating. Many people waited in line for over 3 hours, only to get turned away at the door because the capacity was met so quickly (There are many accounts of people saying there was a large rush towards the building doors when they were opened–many people eschewing social courtesies and typical decency to cut in front of the people who were waiting in line).

In honor of the upcoming season (my first here in town) I’d like to reflect on some of the past Jayhawks who left their mark on the town and the team. These were guys who for one reason or another I had to watch their every move on the court. There was something about their game that made me pay attention to them and made me love their style of play.

Honorable Mention goes to :

Brandon Rush was a bad boy for sure. I remember him in two distinct games during his career at KU. One of them was the Florida game they played in 2006 out in Las Vegas (Still one of the best collegiate games I have ever seen–just for sheer number of future NBA players on the floor that night) where Rush hit some timely corner 3’s against that terrific Florida team (With Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Cory Brewer). The Jayhawks went on to win that overtime classic thanks to some big time play from Rush.

F Paul Pierce (1995-1998), G Jacque Vaughn (1993-1997), and C Scot Pollard (1993-1997)

While there is no doubt that three above mentioned players were ill. The reason they make honorable mention is because I was watching a lot of Wolverine basketball during these years. I was blinded by the flash and brash of the Fab Five. Kansas basketball was something I watched if nothing else was on. I remember being aware of Pierce, Vaughn and Pollard (seemed like every other week there was a human interest piece about Scot Pollard and his ‘wacky’ lifestyle).
There was a guy from Duncanville, Texas (also the birthplace of the late Elliot Smith) who had gone to Kansas, Greg Ostertag. This initiated some interest for me, but I really only remember three things during this time period:

1) Kansas having these incredible regular season records

2)Kansas getting knocked out earlier than expected

3) Tearful Roy Williams press conferences.

G Adonis Jordan (1989-1993), G Rex Walters (1991-1993)

This back court was my introduction to Kansas basketball. This was the first NCAA tourney I watched from beginning to end on the little black and white television that I had in my bedroom.These guys were ill. I remember Rex being kind of a grimey little guy–a hustler who could shoot, handle the rock, and a decent passer.

It was fun watching him match up against future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd, and Bobby Hurley, who was arguably the best point guard in the country then. Rex held his own. Adonis Jordan originally got lumped in because that was his back court mate. I honestly don’t remember any particular plays by him. I think I just thought his name was cool. I recently tried watching a game from that tournament on that NCAA website where you can watch past games. I had to turn it off because I couldn’t get past how archaic the film footage looked (and those awfully short shorts).

Now that we have the runner ups out of the way, let’s get to it.

G Kirk Hinrich (1999-2003), F Nick Collison (1999-2003)

This Iowa tandem re-piqued my interest in KU hoops and led me down the road to here. Watching them play together was a real treat. I can distinctly remember extending my treadmill workout an extra 20 minutes so I could watch Nick Collison put up a 23 point-20 rebound game against Texas. The game that stands out most to me was the 30-20 he put up against Duke in the Elite Eight. Collison impressed me with his footwork and at how easily he got to the rim. I remember thinking that he was going to be the second coming of Kevin McHale (I was 23 what did I know?).

Hinrich was a bad boy himself. Like Rex Walters 2.0 except he played the 2 guard.He had a sweet stroke and he was a hustler .

He could also get up and punch it on you too. Just ask Lebron.

G Keith Langford (2001-2005)

I liked Keith even before I found out he was a Texan. Bro could finish at the rim. He was fast and he a wicked left handed leaner that reminded me of Jalen Rose. While Collison might be my favorite Jayhawk of all time, Keith was the most exciting to watch. I still to this day think that if Roy Williams doesn’t leave Langford guarding Carmelo Anthony after getting 3 fouls that they win that 2003 championship. Langford was the only one who get easy looks against that Orange 2-3 zone defense.

SF Julian Wright (2005-2007)

Julian is another guy who I thought would have a better pro career. He had great hands, awesome court vision and was one of the best passing big men to come through Lawrence. He was also super agile and could get his own shot anytime he wanted. He could hit the jumper from up in the high post or he could feed it to a cutter along the baseline. If there is anything that will get me excited, it’s a big man who can pass the rock.

Julian also threw down some of the nastiest dunks in Jayhawks’ history.The 2006 Florida game I alluded to earlier was the first time I got to see him play. He put on a clinic that night. Unfortunately he has never been more than a 7th, 8th, 9th man role player off the bench at best. I think had he stayed through his senior year he would have had his jersey retired and been one of the best of all time.

Quick side note: If you ever see a photo of Mario’s miracle shot from the ’08 title game look at the spectators behind the basket and you will see Wright watching the arc of the ball like everyone else at the game. When I first saw this I thought, “Damn Julian got some premium seats. That’s what’s up.” Then I thought, “Wait a minute he should have been playing in this game. It wouldn’t have been that close had he been playing.”

How about that? If Julian stays an extra year maybe Mario doesn’t need to make that shot and becomes a second round pick without all the accolades from hitting that shot. Perhaps ends up somewhere besides Miami and perhaps he isn’t there to hit timely shots when the Heat need someone to step up. Who is to say this doesn’t affect how we look at Lebron’s legacy at this point? Maybe Lebron doesn’t get those championships after all? Who would have thought that Julian’s decision to leave school early could have possibly changed the landscape of the NBA? We could easily be praising Kevin Durant as the greatest basketball player on the planet (though he’s still a close second).

C Drew Gooden (1999-2002)

Drew Gooden is a pretty textbook case of someone who peaked out early. When he left college in 2002, his stock couldn’t have gotten any higher. He ended up being a number 4 pick and unfortunately ended up being a poor man’s Carlos Boozer. Who is to say what happens if he comes back his senior year. I’m sure there was just as much chance of him getting seriously hurt like Nerlen Noels and missing out on the season (and a fatter paycheck) as there was to him leading the Jayhawks to an ’03 title over Syracuse. I watched him destroy so many teams single-handedly that 2002 season where they finally lost to Maryland. That was a tough front line to face with Collison, Wayne Simien, and Gooden (really unfortunate Simien couldn’t stay healthy).

F Darrell Arthur (2006-2008)

Another Texas boy who went to South Oak Cliff High school in Dallas. The fact that he went to a DISD school endured me to Darrell. His game was fun though. He could get up in a second and mash it in someone’s face. I really liked that front line of Darrell Arthur, Julian Wright, and Sasha Kaun. They often had spacing issues in those days, but that high post through Julian was a money play. Darrell was often the recipient of a great pass that led to an easy layup or dunk. He’s in the pro’s now and is a valuable role player in the league. I think Memphis will miss him this year.

G Ben McLemore

The future is wide open for Mr. Ben McLemore. I think he can be a very good player if he can surround himself with the right people. I think at worst he can be a Rudy Gay type player, and at best? Maybe I’ll regret saying this, but I could see him having a Ray Allen type career. He will get his points for sure, but I’m curious how well he will play on the defensive side of the ball, and he will be able to do anything beside score?
I thoroughly enjoyed watching him play last year. When this little golden era of KU hoops is over, we will look at McLemore the same way Texas fans think of TJ Ford. Ford’s signing at UT opened up a nice stream of top recruits coming to Texas and making an impact (including the second best player alive, Kevin Durant).

McLemore was the only thing watchable about last year’s offense. No one else on the team could consistently create their own shot. If anyone else on that starting five had the ball in their possession for more than five seconds, it was almost a guaranteed turnover.

As disappointing as it was to see KU lose that heart breaker to Michigan last year, that squad overachieved (you can say that about the last 2 Bill Self led teams–a testament to his coaching ability).There were countless ugly brick-fests that KU would barely squeak out. They should have lost more games last year and finally their luck ran out when they couldn’t secure a 12 point lead with 4 minutes left. Most of those squeakers that they won was because Maclemore was the best player on the court (with the only exception being the game where Elijah Johnson went crazy and scored 41 points against Iowa State). Trey Burke was the best player on that March evening. Mclemore barely got any decent touches down the stretch and the buzzed went off as Elijah Johnson passed up a layup to throw an errant pass to Naadir Tharpe on the 3 point line. We all know how that ended.

McLemore’s season opened up a pipeline to blue chip recruits coming here to Lawrence and getting in on the action. KU”s stock as dynasty couldn’t be higher. KU has the number one player in the country. The guy anointed to be the “next Lebron and Durant”. There is so much hype surrounding this team and Self would have had his best recruiting class of all time had he not landed Andrew Wiggins.

Lawrence is going to be treated to a cavalcade of talented players during the next 2-4 years.

Wiggins is a one and done and maybe a couple of other players, but there are juniors in high school already eyeing some of the holes that will be left in the next year or two. Also some of the guys not as heavily profiled like Conner Frankamp (Rex Walters 3.0?) will probably be there for the full four years. Kansas will not only be solid for this period, but will be a top 5 team contender as well. We may be looking at a run of dominance that resembles the Roy Williams teams with Pierce, Vaughn, and Pollard.

Andrew Wiggins has already made his mark here and he hasn’t played a second of ball yet. He will undoubtedly be the major force this year but he will also have a lot of help. It will be interesting to see how many more of these impact players will live on in Jayhawks’ folklore.

One thing is for certain, the excitement is only beginning.