Monday, June 29, 2009

Some Thoughts on the Simmons-Dunleavy Feud

I know I am a little late on this one, but I have been out of town for the last little bit, so I wanted to comment on something that is nothing short of begging to be commented on:

The coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, Mike Dunleavy, recently appeared on Colin Cowherd's radio show and called writer Bill Simmons a "joker" and a "joke-writer" and said he had no credibility.

Before I say anything else, it is only fair that I mention I am a fan and a reader of Bill Simmons' work. That said, let's take a look at Mike Dunleavy's time with the Clippers:

2003-2004: 28-54
2004-2005: 37-45
2005-2006: 47-35*
2006-2007: 40-42
2007-2008: 23-59
2008-2009: 19-63
* - made playoffs

Call me crazy, but making the playoffs once in the last six years and getting progressively worse each year after doesn't exactly scream "credible" in the coaching profession. How a coach can go 23-59 in his fifth season with the team and keep his job is confusing. But to come back the next year and do worse? Keeping your job after that is just beyond the realm of comprehension.


1. capable of being believed; believable: a credible statement.
2. worthy of belief or confidence; trustworthy: a credible witness.

Bill Simmons has many years experience as a sportswriter and many more as a sports observer. He had season tickets to the Clippers last season and a front row seat to the players' relationship with and/or body language toward their coach. He wrote a 700-page book about the history of the NBA. Someone solely talking out of his rear could probably only make it to about two or three hundred pages. He's not even a Clippers fan, so it's not like he is just some unwashed mouthbreather in the cheap seats talking about how the Clippers should trade for LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Tim Duncan. He's a professional and his thoughts on Dunleavy and the Clippers franchise is as valid as anyone else's.

During his radio appearance, Dunleavy also talked about all of the great draft picks he has made over the past few seasons. The next logical question is then why do the Clippers suck? If "all but one" of your draft selections have been great, why was last season your worst one yet?

What I am saying is it's quite clear Dunleavy is in no place to criticize Simmons. Someone who obviously sucks at his job can't say another person sucks at his or her job without one logical piece of evidence to back it up.

Obviously, Bill Simmons had a few comebacks to Dunleavy, and he posted them on his Twitter account. I loved almost all of them, and here they are:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Make Room for Daddy!

Here is something you don't see everyday:

"Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki has filed for sole custody of his ex-girlfriend's unborn baby, if it's proved he is the father, according to a petition filed last week in a Dallas County courthouse." -

Obviously, the "something you don't see everyday" isn't in reference to a basketball player getting someone pregnant, since NBA players' licentious road-trip behavior brings new meaning to the phrase "Hands Across America."

The real news is an NBA player taking swift responsibility for his actions. And he's not just setting up a scholarship/trust and coming to birthdays, but he's actually filing for SOLE custody.

Granted, his ex-girlfriend is about a couple Planters past a nut job and the child would be better off in the hands of a grizzly than in that train wreck's care, but it's still impressive to see Dirk, who would rather be a defensive-minded player than see his ex again, step up and do the right thing.

All things considered, I really hope he is successful in his efforts, and maybe his actions will help future daddies to be more responsible than those than the those that infamously inspired the 1998 Sport Illustrated article.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Reasons I'd Rather Be a Sox Fan

Starting with the most obvious...

In the last 100 years, White Sox have two World Series wins, and the Cubs have zero. Nevertheless, Cub fans try to lead White Sox fans into believing they're the dumb ones. Meanwhile, idiot after idiot lines up for tickets to Wrigley Field every year, because Cub fans don't expect anything from their team's management. Each year a pile of crap they call a baseball team trots out onto the field destined for mediocrity or worse. Albert Einstein, who's smarter than anyone or anything ever associated with the Cubs, said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Instead of not going to games and showing management you want a winning team, year after year fans pile into the stadium, lining the pockets of team owners with cold, hard cash. In fact, this year the Cubs are spending the third (NY Yankees, Red Sox) most money in the league, and it has amount to a .500 record. Well done! I suppose spending $40 million more than the White Sox for the same amount of wins by June 15 is a good idea. So the dopiness doesn't merely reside in the bleachers - good to know. The White Sox also had a streak of undistinguished baseball, but at least the White Sox and their fans never blamed their championship drought on a curse. And why "The Curse of the Billy Goat"? Couldn't it just be "The Curse of Being a Walking Punchline" or "The Curse of Not Being as Good as the Majority of Baseball Teams"? It makes more sense to me. Cub fans aren't there to watch baseball, they're there to A) party, B) get drunk, or C) party and get drunk. I'm reminded of a wonderful quote by then-Senator Barack Obama regarding Cub fans: “I’m not one of these fair weather fans. You go to Wrigley Field, you have a beer, beautiful people up there. People aren’t watching the game. It’s not serious. White Sox, that’s baseball.”

I just don't understand how people could live like that, pretty much knowing your team will never win a World Series. I dare say there are no Cub fans alive that have seen the Cubs win a World Series. One would have to be over 100 years old or own a time machine to have accomplished such a feat, so it's probably not likely. While people over 100 years old do exist, common sense would tell you that, over the course of 100 years, they'd have smartened up a bit. Sadly, many Cub fans are merely victims of generational stupidity, and their fanhood has been passed down from generation to generation. It's a lot like racism in that way, and it's sad. The present-day fans are blind to the illogistics of their passion. So starting on Tuesday, when the White Sox start wiping the dirt and grass with the likes of Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano, and Derek Lee, I just hope something will click in the minds of Cub fans, and they'll see a World Series isn't likely for the next 100 years either.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thoughts on the 2009 NBA Finals

Congratulations to the Lakers and their fans on L.A.'s 2009 NBA Championship! It was quite an impressive accomplishment. During these Finals, however, an even greater feat of endurance occurred: actually watching the NBA Finals.

Despite a couple of close finishes, the 2009 NBA Finals left a lot to be desired, and it started with Game 1.

Lakers dominated that game from beginning to end, winning 100-75 and possibly saying good-bye to the casual fan. At that point, the Finals storylines went from "Kobe vs. Superman" to "Does Kobe need another ring to solidify his legacy?" and "Phil Jackson to pass up Red Auerbach."

After the thrashing the Lakers gave to the Magic in Game 1, the NBA Finals focused around when, instead of "if," the Lakers were going to win the championship. It became a foregone conclusion the Lakers would win, so the series became a great deal less interesting.

Another component to the lack of interest were the huge breaks in between the games. It is a momentum killer. I've already mentioned how much I hated the 5-day layoff in between the last two rounds of the playoffs, but my fury was only compounded upon hearing about the 3-day break between Game 1 & 2 and 4 & 5.

I understand the league wants to get games on certain days of week when they will more likely produce ratings and this isn't the first year they've done it, but it just makes me lose interest in the games. It seems like that idea would work better with more interesting matchups. But if your team isn't involved in the Finals, do you really have any reason to watch when it looks like it's over after Game 1?

The NBA Finals used to be "appointment TV." Each year the Finals would be full of stars: Michael/Scottie vs. Magic/Worthy, Drexler, Barkley, Payton/Kemp, and Stockton/Malone. This year's Finals lacked real star power.

Don't get me wrong, the Finals had a star in Kobe Bryant, averaging over 32 points and 7 assists per game. Stars rise to the occasion on the biggest stage. Not necessarily winning, but at least playing like an all star.

After the Magic knocked off the Cavs, thanks in part to a big series from Dwight Howard, I think a lot of people - and count me among them - thought Magic-Lakers was going to be a very interesting series.

It turned out the NBA Finals actually did need LeBron, because Superman did not show up against L.A. (15 ppg, 15 rpg, 3 orpg, 4 bpg, 48.8 FG%, 60.3 FT% 4 topg) the way he did with Cleveland (25 ppg, 13rpg, 4 orpg, 1.2 bpg, 65 FG%, 70.1 FT%, 2.5 topg).

Sure, he might have been better defensively in the Finals, blocking more shots and grabbing more rebounds. But solid defense doesn't do it for the general basketball fan, maybe an Orlando Magic fan, but not the every-day fan.

Solid defense never drew viewers for series with the Detroit Pistons. It never drew viewers for the San Antonio Spurs. And it most certainly didn't draw viewers when the Pistons played the Spurs in the 2005 finals.

Still, the TV ratings from the 2009 Finals are comparable to last year's matchup, which included a team from a bigger market and with a richer team history: the Boston Celtics. One might conclude that my theory goes out the window, since fans were still tuning in the same as they did for last year's championship, a very good NBA Finals.


Or maybe since the TV ratings for NBA Playoffs this year had been a 20% improvement over last year's, the 2009 Finals should have reaped the benefits of that success. Was it the 5-day break from the Conference Finals to the NBA Finals? Was it the 3-day breaks in between Games 1 & 2 and 4 & 5, when there was no traveling involved for teams? Was it the lack of star power?

The TV ratings for the NBA finals took a nosedive in 1999 after the lockout, and it really has never recovered. And in the 1990s, the ratings were only high when Michael Jordan was playing. This year the NBA really needed LeBron vs. Kobe. The two best, most exciting, most fun-to-watch players going against each other. A matchup of the two players most compared to Michael Jordan would have drawn a big audience.

Here's hoping future NBA Finals produce more intriguing matchups - and soon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

We're going streaking!

Streak for the Cash

It's not what you think...or at least it's not what I thought.

It's an entertaining, as well as addictive, game on

The basic idea is ESPN and Progressive insurance company, are giving sports fans (and I guess non-sports fans would be eligible as well) an opportunity to win $1 million. Every day ESPN provides you with a set of sports scenarios, and you just have to predict the outcome. If you build one of the top seven streaks by December 31, 2009, you win $10,000 and a trip to the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn. There, you will compete with the other six for the $1 million. Click here for complete details on how to play.

When I first saw this game, I thought, "Pfff! I could do this." However, it is harder than it seems. In fact, my streak has never been longer than 10, and right now, the top seven streaks range from 20-24.

I've got a ways to go.

After one of my streaks is broken, I'll just pick whatever game is next - just to get back in the game. And I lose again. Actually, there are times when I lose so many in a row, I wonder if a losing streak would still qualify for the $1 million. The way I figure it, losing 25 in a row, is just as hard as winning 25 in a row. After looking a the official rules, I now see ESPN and Progressive insurance company don't necessarily agree with me.

My wife and I are playing, and currently, we have a combined streak of one. Not our finest hour, or more accurately not my finest hour, since I am with one with zero. Not too long ago, each of us had streaks of nine at the same time. We thought, "This is our chance!"

The next picks we made were made very carefully, but since we both lost and went back down to zero, one could argue those picks weren't made carefully enough.

Anyway, play Streak for the Cash. It's a load of fun, and maybe, just maybe you'll end up like this guy.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

In case you were wondering, the NBA Playoffs are not over yet

Life gets busy, so at times, we need to forgive ourselves for not staying completely current on the happenings outside our own bubble.

One piece of news that might catch a few off guard is that the NBA playoffs are not over yet, but not staying up-to-date on this warrants no self-pardon. The one needing forgiveness is the NBA, not the fans.

If you are not a Lakers or Magic fan, forgetting the playoffs are still going on is absolutely acceptable (and I wouldn't be that surprised if fans from L.A. and Orlando have forgotten, too) for the sole reason that the Conference Finals ended five days ago.

Five days! If a best-of-five series started immediately after the Magic clinched their trip to the Finals, there would have been enough time to finish it before Game 1 of the NBA Finals started (if it was a 3-0 sweep).

Five days! That was long enough for LeBron to leave the court without shaking any hands, stand up the media, come up with an excuse and talk to the media the next day about it, have David Stern want to talk to you about it, maybe talk to him about it, have a benign growth removed, and be back at home resting comfortably by tip-off.

Five days! That was long enough for Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to travel from Florida to the friggin' moon - a total of about 240,000 miles!

Five days! That's long enough for wives to make their husbands watch everything from Steel Magnolias to The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood to make up for the months of neglect sports brought to their lives.

And it is long enough for the NBA to lose all of the momentum earned through two hard-fought, could-have-easily-gone-the-other way conference championships - not mention all of the great series that came before those.

Why would they do this? Three days would have been fine, but five days is poor marketing. We have experienced one of the best playoffs in recent history. And it's not just the drama of nail-biting finishes, but the drama itself has brought more and more viewers back to watching NBA action. Compared to last year's playoffs, TV ratings were up over 30 percent for Eastern and Western Conference Championships.

But a lot of that momentum is gone now, and barring outstanding game-winning shots or even a brawl in Game 1 or 2, the NBA Finals - TV ratings-wise - will fall considerably short of what they could have been.

Monday, June 1, 2009

LeBron's Postgame Behavior

I don't blame LeBron James for not shaking hands with any Magic player after losing the Eastern Conference Finals last Saturday.

I don't blame LeBron James for not making himself available to the media.

I don't blame LeBron James for not wanting to talk to anyone after playing his heart out and still losing.

He is still only 24 years old, and he showed it. Plus, throughout his entire career, I don't believe he has ever lost a series he was expected to win. It was a first and it stung. I can't blame him for that.

I can't blame him, but I do have some problems with his post-series behavior.

First, let's say Kobe Bryant had done the same thing. Any Kobe-hater would have been rounding up all of the friends, pitchforks, and torches he or she could find, and they would not rest until the mob was satisfied. There is no denying an act like that would have caused irreparable harm to Kobe.

Second, since he was a junior in high school, LeBron has had to deal with the media. His poise and composure while interacting with the media has drawn all sorts of praise. How do you all of a sudden not realize how your actions will look? How not shaking any of your opponents' hands will look? How not talking to the media that built you up will look? It just doesn't make sense. He should and does know better.

Third, it makes him look like a sore loser.

He recently said, "It's hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them. I'm a winner. It's not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you're not going to congratulate them. That doesn't make sense to me. I'm a competitor. That's what I do. It doesn't make sense for me to go over and shake somebody's hand."

Just because he says "it's not being a poor sport," it doesn't mean it's true. As it turns out, this isn't the first group of handshakes he has managed to dodge. Last year, he skipped out on the Celts, and the year before that, he left the court after a quick hug/butt-slap from the Spurs' Bruce Bowen.

It actually looks like it is "being a poor sport." I'm surprised he didn't take the ball with him.

Finally, he can't choose when and when not to be the NBA's "Golden Boy." He can't choose when and when not to be the face of the Cavaliers. He has to take the good with the bad. An NBA career is not going to be all Nike and Powerade commercials. It's not going to be all ESPYs and MVPs. It's not even going to be all puppets in your likeness.

You have to be able to answer questions after losing, as well as you do when you sweep the first two opponents. Nobody really cares all that much about what Mo Williams thinks of the loss. They (not just the media, but all of the fans, too) want to hear the MVP's thoughts.

You can't be the man, without being a man.