February 2005 - Posts
Karl Malone has decided to retire, rather than play on, joining the long list of future Hall of Famers who never won a championship. Mr. Malone, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, and Patrick Ewing welcome you with open arms.
Malone leaves sitting #2 on the all time scorers list, about a season and a half's worth of play behind Kareem Abdul-Jabar. Michael Jordan currently holds the #3 spot. Oh, and six more chapionship rings than Karl will ever have. But I digress...
I'm not a Karl hater, I cheered him on when he was on the Lakers last year, but it's hard to forget those last two years of the Bull's second championship string, where everyone, IMO, was giving the Jazz a bit too much credit and chance of winning, seemingly forgetting that the Bulls had two things the Jazz of that era never could have:
- Championship experience
- Michael Jordan
Betting against MJ is about as smart as betting against the Patriots while they still have their core healthy, harmonious, and in-tact.
And1 star turned NBA pro Rafer Alston is quickly becoming known for his short fuse with Toronto's new head coach, Sam Mitchell. Tonight he was benched with 3:46 remaining in the first quarter and decided he wasn't getting the respect he deserved so he... left the arena. We're not talking about sulking back to the locker room, we're talking calling a taxi. This is just one event in a series of unprofessionalism shown by Alston. He's threatened he would “quit the NBA”, a threat that he wisely backed down from, after being sent back to the lockerroom.
Alston claims there's a personality problem between him and Coach Mitchell. Mitchell is likely concerned that Alston is shooting too much, passing too little. The Raptors are 1-8 when Rafer goes for 20 or more points.
Here's a player who recently signed a $30 million dollar contract; he went from haming it up on And1 mix tapes to being paid serious bucks for living a dream. Wouldn't this inspire you to try hard to be the best you could be? To make your team as strong as possible? I honestly can't fathom why Rafer, or anyone, would take such a selfish attitude, especially someone like Rafer, who wasn't guaranteed this NBA lifestyle from a young age (like Kobe, KG, LeBron, etc.). You'd think Rafer's stint outside of the NBA would have made him more appreciative of his time in the L. But as they says, “Mo money, mo problems.” For Rafer, mo responsibility means mo problems, too.
On a tangent, the court where I play pick-up ball was covered in the San Diego Union Tribune today. It's a short piece, but worth checking out: Ocean's Ten. What's hilarious is that the article has this one quote [emphasis mine]:
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Don't waste your time debating foul calls, especially if you run into one tag-team duo, known as "Stan and Fish." It's a no-win situation.
When I read this I cracked up laughing... hehe, I still find myself laughing when I just think of this. There are these two guys - Stan and Fish - that come together 90% of the time and they both talk and complain and yell and just typically find any way possible to make a game as unenjoyable as possible. And it's really unfortunate because they're both top-notch players. Fish towers over most, he's probably 6'4” or so. He's got a great fade-away baseline shot, gets blocks like nobody's business, and can handle the ball really well for a guy his size. He's a bit skinny, so he can get muscled around a bit, but he's still in the top 10% of guys that come out. Stan is the opposite, physically. He's like 5'8” but probably weighs 200 pounds. He's stout, strong, quick, and one of the best ball handlers I've played against at the rec center. He's got a great series of movies down low, little lay-up-fake-lay-up moves that really should be called travelling more often...
But anyway, they do bitch a disproportionate amount, especially considering their talents. No fun to play when those two guys team up. And what's hilarious is that some “expert” called them out on it in a nationally syndicated newspaper. They must have been interviewing someone at the court and this person probably had just recently had the mispleasure of playing with Fish and Stan and offered a sage bit of advice - “Don't even bother with this duo, it's a no-win situation, man.” Freakin' hilarious. Now Fish and Stan are immortalized. They need to laminate a copy of this article and put it up on the wall outside. Then when some new guy shows up and says, “We got next, want to run,” and you look and notice that they'll be playing against Stan and Fish, you can just shake your head and point to the wall.
I honestly didn't think this would happen, but Rudy T has been fired... I mean, he's stepping down as the Laker's head coach. The current official word is that Rudy is stepping down because of “his health and dissatisfaction with the way the Lakers are playing.“ I don't see why the Laker's front office - I mean, Rudy T - is so dissatisfied. The Lakers, currently sans Kobe, are 7th in a tough, Western conference with a 24-19 record, faring as well, if not better, than most assumed going into the season with the abrupt departure of Shaq and quick rebuilding around Odom, Butler, and Atkins. Maybe his health issues are for real, who knows. He did miss Sunday's game against the Bobcats (citing a stomach virus, but that's hardly a career ending illness; granted, he's had issues with cancer in the past... maybe it's returned?).
The Lakers, still minus Kobe, won easily tonight, downing Portland 92-79. They also won on Sunday, besting the Bobcats 101-90. These last two Ws came after three straight losses, though, and the Lakers play the Spurs on Thursday, which will be a major challenge. Couple that with the fact that the Lakers have yet to win three games in a row this season and you start to quickly doubt that they will break that curse this week.
Another question is who will replace Rudy T? Currently assistant coach Hamblen is leading the team, but can you really trust your team to a head coach named Hamblen? There are some last names that don't have the coach ring to it, and Hamblen is one of them.
Could you imagine if Phil Jackson came back? That would be an ironic riot, for sure. I think the chances of this are about as good as Shaq and Kobe becoming life-long soul mates, but it's fun to fantasize about the possibility... a half season of Phil mailing it in, a half season of Kobe looking more frustrated and retreating into himself to a level unseen before. The unintentional comedy of this would be off the charts, and I think no one would enjoy it more than Phil.
I'd like to close with this video, courtesy of ESPN.com:
It's from a Division III men's basketball game, one team is up by one with the ball with 0.6 seconds remaining in the game. The freethrow misses, the opposing team grabs the ball from under his own basket and chucks it 96 feet for a swish, giving his team the 2 point victory. Amazing to watch. And all of it was possible because of an alert team mate who is standing in front of the guy who hurls the ball the court's length. He ducks right at the last second to let his team mate chuck that shot. Had he not he'd not have only gotten smacked in the head, but unbeknowingstly cost his team the game!