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.