Monday , Jun , 20 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Trash Talk: Big Losers’ Ball

Volume XXIV

Hi, all.

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the inaugural Big Losers’ Ball. As advertised, this is the annual event in which the worst plays and players of the year are honoured, along with a select number of suits from the league’s thirty organisations. Unless you’re slower than Luc Longley in lead sneakers, you’ll already have picked up on the fact that this isn’t your average award ceremony. No arena was rented, no celebrities were invited, and no refreshments will be provided afterwards. However, the benefit of all this is that tickets are free, everyone is invited, and you don’t have to fight for control of the armrest with that fat guy who used to be in a boy band.

So, without further delay, we move to the main event.

<b>NBA Trash Talk</b>: <I>Big Losers’ Ball</I>“/><P><B>The <I>In My Face</I> award for the player at the receiving end of the season’s most vicious dunk. </B><BR><BR>As always, there were many nominees in this category. Calvin Booth came close to winning this award for his part in the Andre Iguodala dunk which nearly took the rim off the backboard, and Primoz Brezec instantly became a frontrunner following the lefty spike he was served by rookie Josh Smith. LeBron almost won it for Damon Jones when he hammered one down from what seemed to be three feet above the rim, and Stromile Swift came close to handing the trophy to Yao Ming when he rose way up and threw a double-hander in the Houston centre’s mug.<BR><BR>Although I’d give them all prizes if I could, there can ultimately be only one winner, and this year the <I>In My Face</I> award goes to Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic. Kobe Bryant gave his fellow high school draftee a warm welcome to the league by climbing the invisible ladder and tomahawking for two all over the rookie. Cowering like the pretty girl in a horror flick, Howard got a sharp taste of life in the NBA and, perhaps worse, Kobe’s ba… er, basketball skills.<BR><BR><B>The <I>Home Run</I> award for the player on the wrong side of the year’s biggest rejection. </B><BR><BR>Darrell Armstrong did his best to make Mike James the first winner of this award, and LeBron James almost took home the (imaginary) silverware when his attempt was pinned by Mike Bibby. By sending his shot into the upper tier of the arena, Andre Iguodala almost made Amaré this year’s winner, but his effort was eventually bettered by one ridiculous rejection. <BR><BR>Although he was less than willing to collect his award in person, the winner fully deserves his trophy. Thus, I am proud to announce that the first recipient of the <I>Home Run</I> award is Wally Szczerbiak of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Sighting a clear path through the lane, Wally made his way to the hole with the highest of hopes, fully expecting to make the nightly highlight reels with a tidy dunk. Gerald Wallace, however, decided that it was his turn to shine, meeting Mr. Szcerbiak’s attempt some eleven feet from the floor, sending both ball and Wally back whence they came. It was a swat so powerful that it would have sent a lesser player straight to the NBDL.<BR><BR><B>The <I>Shattered Ankle</I> award for the player most violently crossed. </B><BR><BR>Respectful as ever, Dwyane Wade nominated enough players to fill a hospital waiting room, most notably Eric Snow and Raja Bell, both of whom were left with the distinctive “Which way did he go, Joe?” look on their faces following a fancy dribbling display by the Flash. San Antonio team-mates Manu and Tony also put a number of players up for this award, although it was eventually Quentin Richardson who determined the outcome, giving the <I>Shattered Ankle</I> award to Josh Howard of the Dallas Mavericks. <BR><BR>When players are dropped, they often use a wet spot on the floor as an excuse, but no such alibi was available to Howard on this occasion. Q freaked him onto his heels, causing him to stumble so hard that he flailed his arms to stay on his feet. Although he regained his balance within a half-second, it took a while longer to shake his shame. It’s times like these that players wish games weren’t televised.<BR><BR><B>The <I>Splinters</I> award for the high-profile player to spend the most time riding the pine. </B><BR><BR>I needn’t cover this one in length, since my mind was made up before this award even had a name. Darko Milicic is undoubtedly my winner, having spent a grand total of 254 minutes on an NBA floor this season. That, folks, is a little over four hours. For a second pick in the draft expected to play something like a young Kevin Garnett, that just ain’t getting it done. I’ve a feeling I’ll be shaking hands with Mr. Milicic at the same time next season, as it looks as if he’ll be taking this one home for some years to come. At least now he has something to put on the mantelpiece next to his championship ring.<BR><BR><B>The Bustovic</I> award for the most embarrassing European import of the season. </B>Again, this was an award for which I had to do very little thinking. Latvian import Andris Biedrins becomes the first <I>Bustovic</I> winner primarily due to the fact that he was the eleventh pick in the draft. Think about that for a moment. That means that he was chosen two spots above Sebastian Telfair, six before Josh Smith, seven before J.R. Smith and thirty-three before Trevor Ariza. On the year, he averaged less than four points, less than four boards, less than one block, shooting less than fifty percent from the charity stripe. Good grief.<BR><BR><B>The Varsity Blues</I> award for the high school draftee who wishes he had taken one of those scholarships instead of declaring. </B>Dorell Wright takes the award for one reason, and one reason only: I know nothing about him. Despite watching and reading just about everything I could find on the Miami Heat this year, I wouldn’t be able to tell you Dorell Wright’s weight, height or even jersey number without first looking through his playerfile. In fact, Wright was so quiet this season that I wouldn’t have even remembered him in time for this award were it not for the ball I own signed by the entire Miami squad. Having recently looked over it, I noticed a small “D.W.” scrawled by the valve, and actually had to look at a Miami media guide to find his name. If that’s not a testament to the fact that he should be getting an education instead of a paycheque, I don’t know what is.<BR><BR><B>The <I>I Thought He Was Dead</I> award for the player who really should have retired by now. </B>Kevin Willis does not win this award, and he won’t for a very long time. Many of you identified him as the league’s oldest and voted for him accordingly, but that just isn’t right. Given his phenomenal conditioning, I can see him earning a living from the game for a good few years yet. He might not become the league’s first fifty-year-old, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make it close.<BR><BR>Instead, this prize falls to Mr. Chibbs himself, the one and only Kenny Anderson. Please, Kenny, just retire. They even have you playing for the Clippers now. Show some pride and hang them up as soon as possible. Perhaps then we can forget these past few years and remember the good times. </P><br />
<P><B>The <I>Gone Fishin’</I> award for the team whose season shouldn’t have ended in April. </B>The Minnesota Timberwolves. Why? Because.<BR><BR><B>The <I>This Ain’t Kansas, Dorothy</I> award for the player whose numbers took the biggest hit following a move to a new city. </B>Doug Christie, Kenyon Martin and Carlos Boozer were all in the early running, but Chris Webber eventually pulled away from the pack, posting, on average, around six points, two boards and two assists less in Philadelphia than in Sacto. Clearly, something in Philly disagrees with Webber, who is rumoured to be on his way out just twenty-one games into his career as a Sixer.<BR><BR><B>The <I>Language Course</I> award for the player most likely to find himself in Europe before long. </B>He of the difficult name, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, wins this one. If any of you are wondering why, it’s because you’ve never seen him play, and for this you can be forgiven. Those of you who have had the misfortune to watch Skita work his magic on the hardwood are probably wondering how he’s still in the league. Expect the end of his current contract to signal the end of his NBA career. Nikoloz, we hardly knew ye.<BR><BR><B>The <I>Fired G.M.</I> award for the worst performance by a lottery pick. </B>How could it be anyone but Bobby Babcock? Those of you who voted for this award selected the Toronto G.M. almost unanimously, and for good reason. Although I was initially surprised when he selected Rafael Araujo with the eighth pick of the draft, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and kept an eye on the B.Y.U. product’s progress. Now, however, after a 3-point, 3-rebound, 0.3-assist rookie campaign, it has become clear that Babcock is every inch the terrible G.M. Toronto fans have been describing to me since he landed the job.<BR><BR>Well, that just about rounds things up for this year’s awards. If you have comments or questions concerning the ceremony, you can contact me at, or by using the box at the bottom of the page.<BR><BR>Take it easy now, </P><br />
<P>Chuck. <BR><BR></P></p>