A Precursor of Sorts

Good A$$ MUF&%$#ing game. Lots of star power in this one.

 

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Giving the People What They want: A Book Review

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Back when (the now defunct) Grantland announced they were giving Jalen Rose a podcast, I knew I was going to do whatever it took to check it out. Hearing that he would have his own platform excited me, because he was always one of the more quotable players in the NBA.

From the very first podcast he has not disappointed. His co-host David Jacoby can be a little much sometimes, but on balance, the podcast was on point. Jalen has a unique insight to being both a professional athlete in the NBA, but also to be member of the media. His honesty and perspective have provided a refreshing listen to some of the other options out there in the sports talk world.

His first book, recently put out last year, “Got to Give the People What They Want”is a continuation of this refreshing insight. This is the stuff he can’t talk about on air, in an effort to “not get fired.”

The foreword, written by Bill Simmons, is one of the goofier ones written by and for someone. It sort of reads like one of his old columns on his old website (with even the obligatory Shawshank Redemption reference–by the way can we all agree that the short story is way better than the movie?) talking about a famous friend he met while in Hollywood. Nevertheless Simmons gets his point across about Rose, which is that Jalen is super famous because of his ability to always have a foot in different social circles, and being comfortable in all of them.

This is one of the easier autobiographies you’ll ever read. The stories while not hilarious, are interesting. I feel like this is the PG-13 version of anything he would put out, simply because he doesn’t want to burn any bridges. I imagine he has some really  good stories “off the record” that will never see the light of day.

If you are reading this to find some NBA gossip about groupies, and late night parties, then you will be disappointed. It is a book good for family consumption. Don’t get me wrong, Jalen keeps it real, but it’s not a juicy tell all about NBA life.

It is more like an exploration of the road he has taken to succeed, and an homage to all the people along the way who helped make success a reality. Now that he has successfully become an NBA player and a person with a media platform, he is trying to help others–especially those from his native Detroit. Rose talks about the charter school he started, after many public schools in his old neighborhood have failed, or been shut down (they just had their first class graduation last spring). I get the feeling that he is more proud of that than anything he ever did on the court.

All that being said, the book is still about basketball. There is a brief history on the many players to come out of the state of Michigan, and specifically the Detroit area. Rose throws names like George Gervin, Magic Johnson, and Anderson Hunt at you, but it is also crazy to think that he played high school ball with Voshon Leonard, and Howard Eisley (No wonder they won back to back state titles).

Rose also gives some strong opinions on the hypocrisy of the NCAA, as well as his feelings about childhood friend Chris Webber. Growing up a Chris Webber fan, it saddens to hear some of the questionable behavior noted by Jalen Rose. It will be hard to look at Webber the same after reading this.

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All in all, it is a good read. The whole book reads like a long podcast conversation with Jalen, and it is hard to put down once you’ve begun reading it. Rose allows you to take the journey with him from neighborhood slacker, to stud athlete having a good time, to a professional, to now a productive member of his community, and role model to many. This isn’t a book just for the hardcore hoop nerds, I think anyone can read this and enjoy it. Much like Rose himself, this book appeals to many people from all walks of life.

 

BM

#fullsass #thisagoodassgame

thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

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!

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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

 

 

Lovable Losers: Remembering the Fab Five Era

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91-93 Michigan Wolverines

Head Coach: Steve Fisher

Record: 56-14

Final Fours: 2

Big Ten Titles: 0

National Championships: 0

Starters: F Ray Jackson, F Juwan Howard, C Chris Webber,

G Jimmy King, G Jalen Rose

Key Role Players: G Rob Pelinka  C Eric Riley  F Michael Talley

With the NCAA tournament only hours away from starting (oh who am I kidding? By the time you read this, it may be the 2nd round), I thought it’d be fitting to give a quick shout out to the Michigan Fab Five. They changed the game of college basketball, taking what the Runnin’ Rebels started and taking it to a whole other level as far as style, flair, and image.

Unlike UNLV, they never won a championship, losing in the title game back to back years. In fact, they never even won a Big Ten title (something Bill Walton used to always bring up back in the day).

Were they overhyped? Perhaps. Were they revolutionary? Absolutely. No team dared to wear  baggy shorts, and low cut blacks socks. No team encapsulated the times like they did, coming onto the scene right around the beginning of the ‘golden age of hip hop’.

I was in 7th grade when the Fab Five formed, having no idea that only 30 miles away from my Dallas suburb was an 18 yr-old named Jimmy King, who could jump out of the gym. In fact, I’d never even watched a full college basketball game up until the 1991-92 NCAA tournament. My dad rooted for teams like  UNLV, Arkansas and Georgetown,  because they had “more brothas” playing for them. The games were always on in the background, but the only sports I liked back then were football and baseball.

That all changed after watching my first Michigan basketball game. These guys were brash, fun, and high flying. Nothing gave me a bigger thrill than watching Chris Webber throw down an alley-oop dunk, and Jimmy King in the open court was an automatic two points. After watching them play the Bob Huggins coached Cincinnati Bearcats (led by Nick Van Exel) in the semi-finals, I spent the rest of the eveing practicing Jalen Rose’s lefty leaner in my buddy’s driveway.

I made some academic mistakes that forced my mother to ground me from television, and I was stuck listening to the championship game against Duke on the radio. The first half of the game went well for Michigan, but Duke dismantled them in the second half of the game. I listened in dissatisfaction while trying to imagine what Webber’s 360 dunk must have looked like on television.

We didn’t have cable at my house. This made every televised Michigan game an event, and I sat in front of the living room tv humming the “Hail to the Victors” fight song during the timeouts. One particular conference game between the Wolverines and Hoosiers was especially memorable because it got interrupted by local coverage of the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco.

I knew nothing about David Koresh, and had never been to Waco, and couldn’t care less at the time about any of it. The game was over by the time they cut back to the action. Indiana fans were cheering and the Wolverines were sulking on the sidelines as time expired.

The Fab Five run through the tournament was not a thing of beauty. They had trouble scoring at times because they weren’t a very good three point shooting team. Rob Pelinka (also known as NBA superagent to players like Kobe Bryant and James Harden) was their biggest outside threat off the bench. You could see how things opened up inside when he was in the game, as teams couldn’t sag off.

Their bench was also pretty young and thin; one that only went 8 deep at best. It goes to show just how good their starting five were because everyone (not named Ray Jackson) played over 1,000 minutes for the season.

I wonder now in hindsight if playing all five freshman (and sophomores) as starters was the best idea. Chemistry aside, I wonder just how more effective the second unit would have been had  King and Jackson led the helm.

Back then, small ball wasn’t really a thing outside of teams like FSU (with their 3 guard attack of Bobby Sura, Charlie Ward, and Sam Cassell) and sometimes Duke, but this era of Michigan ball sometimes looked unbalanced.

UCLA and Kentucky took the Wolverines to the limit before bowing out of the tournament, and a part of me wonders if they were spent by the end of that championship game against North Carolina. Mental fatigue can make people do funny things, and maybe that contributed to that ill fated timeout (causing me to lose my first ever sports bet).

There are plenty of games to watch online (courtesy of the NCAA vault), if you feel yourself geting nolstagic for the New Edition of 90’s basketball. They were not the most fundamentally sound of teams, and they rubbed a lot of old white people the wrong way, but they were still a lot of fun to watch.

You can’t look at the career paths of the Freshman Fab Five and say they were losers. Webber and Rose has gone on to have outstanding careers in the media, while Howard is an assistant coach for the Miami Heat. Ray Jackson runs an elite basketball program for Austin youth. Jimmy King is mentoring youth in Detroit.

King and Jackson didn’t do much professionally after Michigan, while Webber, Howard, and Rose played on various entertaining teams in the NBA (Howard of course got a couple of rings with the Heat).

You can bring up the off the court controversies that caused Michigan to vacate the wins, and you can always bring up the fact that Michigan never won any kind of championship. But as Jalen Rose himself says, “there is the scoreboard, and there is the score of the game of life.” I think you can say they all won in that regard–especially Rob Pelinka, that dude is filthy rich.