Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Allen Iverson: Reasons for and Against a Move to China

How the mighty have fallen.  News came this week that Allen Iverson is contemplating a move to the Chinese Basketball Association.  He would join fellow has been Stephon Marbury.  All they would need would be fifty more washed up NBA stars and they might have themselves a league.  

Why would an aging star that is bound for the hall of fame decide to go to a far lesser locale instead of hanging up his sneakers for good?  Then again, why wouldn't he?  

I have grappled with the notion of A.I. playing in China long and hard and have come to the realization that there are very good reasons he should play in China, as well as others that would make it ludicrous for him to do so.

He is a star.  At least he was.  It may be cliche but it is not without truth to say that aging superstars find it very hard to let go of their top playing days.  A move to China could give Iverson the satisfaction of being a superstar.  The fact that he would once again be adored may outweigh the fact that he would be in a far away land.  His basketball acumen would be tested away from any real competition.  He could then relive his glory days.  For someone that has been at the very pinnacle of the sport it may be more attractive than warming the bench on a less than stellar NBA team.

He will create distance between himself and the NBA.  If Allen Iverson has anything more in the tank he needs to prove it beyond these borders.  His situation is proof that he has just about exhausted the patience of general mangers and owners.  A year or two abroad with great results will do well for him to be accepted back into the NBA.  The 35-year old better shape up soon.  His legs will not take more than a couple years.

Money.  The second reason behind love for anyone that plays the game.  Stephon Marbury, only two years younger than Iverson, has already played a year in China and negotiated a three-year deal.  Further than that, Shanxi Zhongyu, the team he plays for, will co-market Marbury’s shoe.  Iverson can expect the same.  Money and playing time not available to him in the states will be in abundance in China.

The competition is just right.  Marbury, by all accounts, was an empty jersey his last year in Boston.  He averaged only 18 minutes a game and scored close to four points a game.  In his first year in China, he raised that to a staggering 22.9 points a game.  He was also granted a bid to the All-Star game.  

The 22 points a game are on par with Marbury’s best years.  The Chinese competition is just soft enough to put a little spring into an older NBA all-star’s step.  

He could ruin his legacy.  Allen Iverson was one of the most prolific scorers the NBA has ever seen.  This jaunt to the NBA equivalent of double-A could tarnish that image.  Imagine if Alex Rodriguez left MLB baseball to play in Japan.  There would be no end to the talk of him petering out with a whimper.  

Look at the flack that Michael Jordan received at the end of his career for not hanging it up, and he only went to Washington to play.

It is not Europe.  I mean this in a number of ways that are not geographical.  For starters it does not have the infrastructure that European leagues have.  It is a relatively new undertaking, starting in 1995, whereas leagues in Europe are more entrenched in the culture (Lega A Italy started in 1920, Liga ACB Spain started in 1956, et. al).  

Also, the CBA  is finding itself forced to institute a salary cap as unchecked spending has invoked fears in the leagues supporters.

He will be out of the press.  You will no longer hear funny jibes from Iverson about “practice” or how he is not committed to his team.  He will in a sense disappear from the national spotlight.  Stephon Marbury has been gone for only one year and I can barely remember what egotistical whining looks like.  

He will wish he hadn't.  Especially come January when a contending team goes looking for a back up or even a starter to take the place of their recently fallen guard.  It happens every year and it will happen again this year.  That may be the one last shot Iverson has to make a difference in the NBA and he will be out in China throwing up thirty a game against guys who wouldn't make the WNBA cut.

It comes down to what is important in life: money or prestige.  Iverson can hang it up today and go down as a malcontent, but a malcontent that could shoot the lights out.  If he plays in China he risks being ever known as the NBA version of Willie Mays in a Met jersey.  The choice is his and I can’t wait to lambaste him for whichever one he chooses.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fantasy Football

So, tonight is my annual fantasy football draft.  It is not my favorite night.  A friend once asked me to explain the intricacies of the National Football League.  I relayed that a douche bag that is infected with entirely too much self worth throws an irritatingly odd shaped ball across the field to an even bigger douche bag with the ego the size of my tummy.  He catches this ball and runs past the safety who is just as fast as the douche bag that caught the ball but he doesn't know how to catch so the coaches put him on defense.  So his job is to tackle the the doucher with the ball.  They do this all game until the guy who majored in accounting comes and kicks a ball between two sticks.  The game ends when one of the players robs someone or shoots themselves in the leg with a concealed pistol.  Hall of Famers are allowed to engage in statutory rape where appropriate.

But all this is not my beef with the NFL and fantasy drafting. These are:

1) Forcing a Statistics based game into the NFL format.  Granted this works for offense, albeit not very well.  But then they throw defense in as one small, general entity of a football game.  I think the 2005 Steelers would argue that defense makes up a bigger role than just one of eight specialized fantasy roles.

2) Injuries - The biggest complaint about fantasy baseball is that it takes too long.  Well football may be played once a week but everyday one of my players is subjected to turf toe, abdominal strain, or just plain homesickness.  Well I am tired of it.  Not because I have to put in Pierre Garcon for Hines Ward every other day but because the NFL gives you cute little terms for how hurt a player is.  I get IR (injured reserve), NA (not active), O (out) but the rest just frustrate. 

   Day-to-Day - This means one of two things.  Either your featured back is going through an amputation and the team is disguising his horrible injury as a day-to-day phenomena or he is completely fine and they want you to think he is impaled with something painful.  It is rarely an actual day-to-day phenomena.

   Doubtful -  adj. Not known with certainty: As in - Felix Jones was listed as doubtful so I kept him out of my lineup.  He then ran for 500 yards and ended world hunger so I lost my weekly match-up to Teabaggers Anonymous

   Probable - adj. Likely to be the case or to happen: As in - Visanthe Shiancoe is listed as probable.  I can be 100% sure that he will play which makes the probable label a misnomer and he should be fucking listed as "totes."

   Questionable -adj. inviting inquiry As in:  Rex Ryan labeled Mark Sanchez as questionable this week.  Rex Ryan is fat and I wish he would be more direct with his status of his players ability to play. 

All this means is that you can't trust if your stud wide out is going to play, play well, or even show up.  So you scour new sources every minute to gauge if the injury report is erroneous, fact, or somewhere in between

3) Crime - This one is bigger than you think.  Nowhere else in sports do you have to draft with the assumption that your player may or may not be at some point in the year speeding across state lines with a dead body in the trunk.  Please draft players with a little to no predilection to break federal and state crimes between September and January.

 4) Kickers - Really.  I have to really draft a kicker.  These guys are semi-football players at best.  You are telling me they hold almost the same weight as defense?  I thought it sucked giant donkey nuts drafting three closers in baseball but drafting one kicker in any round just feels like...Well it feels a little like dying.  I don't like that feeling and I don't like you Akers.

With that I hope to wake up tomorrow with the Rams defense solidly in tow and my first weekly match up to be against the Walla Walla Up Your Butts.  They after all make the Justin Bieber Reduxes look like the Frosted Corn Holes.  At least in my league they do. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ten Reasons Why Kobe is Better than Lebron

The last month has afforded us some deep insight into the psyche of a city scorned. Cleveland may have some bitter resentment or even a tinge of murderous rage towards LeBron James. Trouble is, they created him.

Before “The Decision”, James was, in many people’s minds, the best player in the NBA. While the past month’s events may have initiated a questioning of that fact, it only takes a brief look into the person closest to his skill set to see the argument against that theory.

Magic and Bird were compared, Jordan to them, and Kobe Bryant to Jordan. It is a cycle that will never cease. Since the moment LeBron James took his talents to the NBA, he was measured up against the best. Here are ten reasons why Kobe Bryant holds the title of best player in the Association, and why LeBron remains comfortably in the number 2 spot.

10 Kobe is a champion –

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Championships are the measuring stick we use in American sports. It is why Michael Jordan is still making underwear commercials. Would we all be so interested in his “airness” if he did not rattle off two three-peats in his career? I will make it easier: would we laud Robert Horry with so much praise if he didn’t have the jewelry that he does? No, he would just be a great role player that played for various teams. And sort of looks like Will Smith.

9 Kobe stayed –

This is a rarity nowadays. You almost can never purchase a team jersey. Then you’re “that guy” walking down the aisle at a Dodger game with a Steve Finley jersey. Kobe tested the waters of free agency. I remember. Los Angeles was losing their collective minds like it was rainy season. No one knew what to do or say. Church attendance was at an all time high. Then came his “decision.” He said he would come back. He had a press conference. And then went to work. Yes work, not Tao.

8 Kobe has a closer’s mentality –

This is perhaps everyone’s favorite trait to expound on an athlete. He is a killer. Although I am sure it is not as if Kobe Bryant and Mariano Rivera are out big game hunting with a pocket knife and floss in the off-season. There is truth to this mentality, though, and the success it lends to the athlete.

LeBron James has now fled the harder of scenarios for much greener pastures. The champagne is flowing before he has won anything in Miami. Which is fine when you consider this is the party LeBron enjoys. No pressure.

7 Kobe has no friends –

Now there are those that like Kobe, hell, even love Kobe. But you do not have the kind of relationships on the court that you might have between, let’s say, Magic and Isaiah Thomas. You will not find The Black Mamba kissing his opponent before a game. Kobe barely shakes hands before a tip-off. Why congratulate your next kill. That would just be rude.

He does, however, have enemies, those that irritate him. These are people we would normally try to avoid. But things are a bit different when you are chasing titles. Kobe welcomes the pushes and shoves. So much so that sometimes these enemies become allies. Take for example, Matt Barnes, whom a few months ago was trying to bounce a ball off of the Mamba’s grill.

Now Bryant is welcoming him to Los Angeles. Matt Barnes, a recent Laker acquisition, relayed, "He told me anyone crazy enough to (explicit word) mess with me is crazy enough to play with me." Kobe loves winning so much he will do it with his enemies.

6 Names –

Kobe is the best tasting beef you can get in the world. It is made from cows that are fed on beer and little cow dreams.

LeBron is, by my best guess, a French term for someone who has the pre-disposition to take his talents elsewhere.

5 He wants the ball –

Better yet, he craves the ball. No, no, that won’t do. He demands the ball. But this seemingly bad trait has become the epitome of what people now want in their athletes. By people, I mean Cleveland and by now, I mean since LeBron tanked in the playoffs. Kobe has had his detractors but no one can deny that he wants the ball at all times.

4 Defense –

LeBron has turned the corner on defense. He has received honors for NBA All-Defensive first team in 2009 and 2010. This is a new trend and is not indicative of his whole career. LeBron only recently has showed the tenacity it takes to be successful on the opposite side of the ball.

Kobe Bryant is an eight-time first-team and two-time second-team All-NBA defensive selection. More importantly is his insistence at times to lockdown the opposing team’s best player, as he did recently with Rajon Rondo in the 2010 NBA Finals.

3 He knows who he is –

When describing himself as a leader, Kobe has no qualms telling people that Derek Fisher is the nurturing one and he, well, is not. He knows his role. He understands that some people hate him and that some people expect the world from him. It is the latter that gets him up in the morning for workouts.

When James left Cleveland, one thing became very clear. LeBron James does not mind not being the man. The wear and tear of knowing the city’s hopes were on your shoulders was too much for him. Yet he wants to be a global icon, a champion, a ringleader. The dream is counter to his lackluster drive. He has been told time and again he is the king but he has not realized that his actions have told us otherwise. He would much rather hold court alongside others than lockdown the throne himself. The king would very much like to be the jester on a winning team.

2 He has been through the Fire –

You cannot have a ten-point article on Kobe and not mention Colorado. Taking just the sports angle here, you have to marvel at the extreme nature of the trial and what Kobe did. During the regular season in 2003 he went back and forth from Colorado. All the while he maintained his court edge, leadership, and gaudy numbers. He even came back in time to empty a buzzer beater on the Portland Trailblazers at the end of the season, giving them the Pacific division.

For years after, Kobe was vilified. He lost his credibility and sponsors. But here we are. Someone is actually writing an article on how Kobe is better than someone dubbed “The King.” It speaks volumes to Bryant’s tenacity and “win at all costs” nature. History will view him as a winner. A few years ago this was far from true.

1 Kobe is lucky -

I am not talking about his shots that fly through the net with regularity. You can chalk that up to skill and hard work. Kobe is lucky to be in Los Angeles. We can all wonder what would have happened to Kobe Bryant had he stayed in Charlotte, the team that originally drafted him.

The trade that sent Kobe to L.A. and Vlade Divac to the Hornets was in hindsight very fortuitous for Bryant. He was immediately placed on a playoff team with a superstar that could take some of the growing pains out.

Kobe wasn’t the best or brightest to start out. He has come to this point in his career through sheer sweat and determination, but it could have been worse. He could have been LeBron before LeBron.

LeBron James was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers, his home team. The tale could have been so sweet. You would have to disregard the fact that Cleveland is a championship-barren wasteland, a place where hopes go to die. But in his signing with Cleveland, you could see the end of the story. “Local boy comes to save the day!”

What is missing from all this is sports, in its precise moments and overall big picture, takes a lot of luck. You not only need to be good. But you also need a great team around you. You also need a great coach. You also need to be healthy…and so on. Kobe Bryant is a hardworking athlete that landed on the right team at the right time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sherrill Rant

Things are pretty bad in Dodger land. The owners are in the middle of a heated divorce. Manny Ramirez is hurt, again. They have lost six straight and are now looking up at the top of the NL West from fourth place. If all that weren't enough. They still pay George Sherrill to come in a pitch for them. What was lost in last nights debacle is that Sherrill was the one that gave up a two run double in the ninth. He always gives up runs. That is just what he does. They could have done a lot better signing a leper to a $10 contract. Their ERA would be similar and you wouldn't have to look at a silly goatee.

In this recession how can anyone pick up a paycheck for such ineptitude. You don't see me going into my coworkers offices and just taking dumps. That's what Sherrill does. He goes out there and just poops. Then Torre has to go out and clean up after him. Its just nauseating. Well I don't blame Torre, the front office, or the like. I blame the parents. How people could raise such a lack of production is just beyond me. So please parents read to your children. If you don't they will grow up to pitch like George Sherrill.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Lucky Few

It's Christmas in June.  Soccer fans throughout the world are holding their breaths just a bit today, ready to exhale for an entire month.  I am, for lack of a better term, excited.  But if you have a better term please send it in.  My symptoms include dry mouth, perspiration, and a complete inability to work.

The World Cup is March Madness in June.  That is if March Madness were an international affair pitting the top athletes in their sport against each other every four years.  So yes, World Cup is better than March Madness.  That should say something to those nay sayers out there.  Especially since I used to loathe futbol.

But now I am part of the lucky few.  I am aligned with those in this country that can witness and marinate in the greater picture that is soccer.  I was once befuddled by those that could sit around and watch a game that had no score for an hour and a half.  Now I know the answer to that question is easy.  You sit and watch.  Once you do so, you will never look back.

My arguments were the same as yours.  The scoring is too low.  Well that's a very American thing to say.  Sometimes the foreplay is just as tantalizing as the act itself.  In soccer the build up of a potential goal is like an hour with a beautiful woman.  Except if you're me, you are drinking beer and the room probably smells like carnitas.  I am talking about the game watching not the being with a woman...but the same for that too.  Either way the passing and movements in open space are like poetry. That is of course if poetry was awesome.

What else?  Oh yeah the flopping.  I can't help this.  I hate it.  You hate it.  The players feel foolish doing it.  Its a necessary evil that more people should just accept.  Running around for ninety minutes is tiring. So if there are no timeouts in this sport, why not just fall down and say "Hold on a fucking second, I'm Super winded over here."  I can deal with that.  I think I might employ this tactic in my daily life, perhaps after reaching the top of a flight of stairs.

Then there is the possibility of a game going to kicks.  This is another acceptance that one has to make for a game that already takes from every player all they can muster.  When running for 90 minutes does not give us a winner, the players will run for thirty more.  If they still have none they can either run for a little more and make a complete mess of the field or they can just kick the ball and call it a day.  I hate that this happens, but really there is no other way.

But in the arbitrariness of the free kick is the justice of it all.  Both teams get a coin flip.  The rest is left up to fate.  I like that idea.  Let's let some magical mysticism decide the game.  I guess.  I'm sure I will still be pissed in the end.  But here's to the journey.  That is all soccer is after all.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


There is one case where tie does not go to the runner.  It is when the pitcher of record is working on a perfect game and it is the ninth inning.  That being said Jim Joyce missed an obvious call to rob Armando Gallaraga of a a perfect game. Don't believe me? Check here.

Basically in the ninth inning of a perfect game, all players are secretly telling themselves, "please don't hit it to me, please don't hit it to me."  Now Joyce has given us, "Please hit a fly ball, Please hit a fly ball."

I just checked and "My Bad" does not sufficiently cover it for apologies.


ESPN re-aired Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals. Being a Laker fan, I appreciated this memorial as much as remembering when I shit my pants in kindergarten...OK, first grade.

I came to a revelation. The Lakers were grossly over matched in 2008. I just didn't see it then. Let's start with Paul Pierce in the first game. If you recall he broke his knee. So much so that he had to be carted off with a look of despair and pain. He grimaced like he had been shot in the leg. But then as if a brilliant ploy, of which I am sure there was none, he comes out of the locker room skipping. Pierce basically came out like Daniel Laruso in Karate Kid. Although please recall Laruso was limping after. Pierce was not. So the Lakers lose the match up between athletic trainer Gary Vitti and whatever magical potions and/or small Japanese janitors they have behind their locker rooms in Boston.

We also lacked depth. Ronny Turiaff was in the game with the Lakers down six in the fourth quarter in game 1. That is my only argument.

I also realized that the finals are quite over before they even start. To prove this all one has to do is witness the glory and splendor that is NBA officiating. Its the only sport that it's audience brazenly declares that you get "calls" at home. Where in any sport is this so prevalent. A foul is a foul and it is only less of a foul if you are a home team in the NBA. The Lakers have four games at home this series.

So who wins? With questions on one side about injuries and the other about age, this series will come down to who has to go deep into their bench early and often. If Brian Scalabrine gets more minutes in the series than Adam Morrison then the Lakers are looking good. Here is to hoping Morrison keeps on those warm-ups.