Let's take a look at what's gone down since yesterday. Pat Riley's coming back to coach next year. I have two problems with this story. Firstly, the rumours that he was thinking of packing it in were clearly nothing more than playground talk. Secondly, it's been proven already that Pat Riley's word can't always be taken at face value. Riley, 61, had no comment for the record, but his confirmation of his plans was in response to "numerous media inquiries and unsubstantiated rumors about his future," according to the team. Danny Fortson wants out of Seattle. It's always fun to hear from Danny since he's certifiably nuts and always provokes a massive negative backlash with his comments. On top of that, he has an enormous persecution complex, and Peter Vecsey hates him. "Nothing against those guys, I'd much rather compete against them than to sit behind them," he said. "That's not going to work out. I think Bob Hill knows that. I think (general manager) Rick Sund knows that, and if you see me back here next year, just know they know what they're getting themselves into." Read More
It's about that time. The regular season has wound down, the playoff picture has been painted, and the losers have gone home. Let's take a look at the first-round match-ups. East (1) Detroit Pistons vs. (8) Milwaukee Bucks (2) Miami Heat vs. (7) Chicago Bulls (3) New Jersey Nets vs. (6) Indiana Pacers (4) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (5) Washington Wizards West (1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (8) Sacramento Kings (2) Phoenix Suns vs. (7) Los Angeles Lakers (3) Denver Nuggets vs. (6) Los Angeles Clippers (4) Dallas Mavericks vs. (5) Memphis Grizzlies It looks as if we have an entertaining first round on our hands this year. While you can expect the Pistons, Spurs and Mavs to send their opponents packing with little difficulty, just about every other series has the potential to go either way. Of course, the Suns probably will spank the Lakers, but Kobe is almost guaranteed to pull out a few absurd performances that could lead to a victory or two. Similarly, it would be a surprise if the Bulls seriously challenged the Heat, but all it would take is an injury to Shaq or Dwyane and Miami's house of cards could come tumbling down in an instant. The other series should prove to be just as interesting, in particular the Wiz-Cavs match-up. While it would take a fair amount of balls and/or stupidity to bet against LeBron James in his first playoff appearance, it's worth bearing in mind that Washington took the season series 3-1. Cleveland may have the best big man of either franchise in Z, but with the Gilbert Arenas running riot, Jamison scoring and boarding, and Larry Hughes looking to prove himself against his former team, the Wizards aren't exactly going to lie down and die. Read More
Let's kick this post off with a simple, one-question quiz. What would you do if you were the captain of an underachieving western conference NBA team which had fallen short in its quest for the playoffs once again despite high hopes? A) Blame your coach, teammates, your franchise's ownership group, then claim that your sneakers didn't fit well, so you couldn't really play properly. B) Keep your head down and hope nobody notices you. C) Pay more than $50,000 to take out a series of full-page adverts in regional newspapers to apologise to the fans. Of course, J-Rich lived up to his name, showing the depth of his pockets by dropping over $50K to let the fans know that the Warriors messed up this year. If there's one thing that never gets old, it's reading about how much cash NBA players are willing to spend on things most folks wouldn't even consider. Read More
Mere months ago, you could have left a message on Joe Dumars' answering machine offering him a bench towel in exchange for the rights to Darko Milicic, and he would have called you back to ask what colour the towel was. Now, following a change of scenery and an increase in his minutes, Darko's managed to make himself into a useful member of society, averaging around eight points, four boards and two blocks a game since he set up shop in Central Florida. Predictably, Magic management got a little overexcited, and there's already talk of a long-term contract extension. Although he probably won't put pen to paper until next summer, it's nice to know that thirty-something semi-promising games is all you need to be considered for a fat payday. "We'll continue conversations and evaluate it, and if it makes sense and it's something we want to do from a numbers standpoint, we'll do it. But if we can't keep the numbers down, we won't engage it." If there's one thing we know Darko is capable of doing, it's keeping the numbers down. All jokes aside, it's good to see that Orlando's pulling the oldest trick in the book by talking his value down through the media. Darko could average a double-double next year and they'd still try to get him for cheap. Read More
What a long, strange trip it's been, and now Greg Ostertag is hanging up his
hooves sneakers for good. Between the hair, the goofy game and the insane belief that he might one day win an argument against Jerry Sloan, Greg Ostertag has been a curious character throughout his career. Selected by the Jazz with the twenty-eighth pick of the '95 draft, 'Tag spent all but one of his eleven seasons with Utah, posting career averages of 4.7 and 5.5.
What I'll remember about ol' Double Zero, however, are his battles with Dennis Rodman in the legendary Bulls-Jazz series, the frequent post-game temper tantrums, and the look of utter surprise on his face every single time he dunked the ball.
“Honestly, I thought I would play for 15 years. When I came to camp, I planned on playing at least a couple more. Physically, there's no doubt I could play longer.”
Whatever you say about Ostertag, you can't deny that he's had to overcome a lot to last over a decade in the league. Sure, he's 7'2'' and hefty as hell, but I'm almost certain he's missing one or more bones in his knees. Either that, or he doesn't know they can bend that way.
Honestly speaking, the title “Zach Randolph and Darius Miles Want to Leave Blazers” doesn't qualify this post as news; what does is that they've spoken publicly of their desire to get out of town for the first time. Miles hasn't said much of his motives (and, frankly, doesn't need to), but Z-Bo wasn't scared to tell ‘em why he's mad. "It's got a lot to do with the front office," Randolph said. "A lot to do with (general manager) John Nash, (team president) Steve Patterson, you know, they put this team together." Randolph also leaked one of the league's worst-kept secrets in disclosing that he and Nate McMillan have had beef throughout the season. "So he came in with the attitude where, I don't know, he thought he's got to be hard. Like Sarge. So it's been tough, because I ain't never had...I always had coach Cheeks, who is more of a player's coach, and I was accustomed to his actions and ways. Now it's just a lot different." Unsurprisingly, neither team management nor Coach Nate has reacted as if any of this is the least bit shocking or disappointing. "I think they have to be honest, honest with themselves, and honest with the organization about how they feel," McMillan said. "To feel that way and keep it inside doesn't help anyone. I think they have to be honest about how they feel, their role, the direction of the club, so that we can get a feel for how we can help them." Translation: “Get the f*ck out; we won't miss you.” What this means for Portland is that they'll have a tubby kid who can't take instruction and a skinny underachiever to move this off-season. If they can't get market value in return (and they won't), they'll have to hope that their draft pick turns out to be the next LeBron, or it'll be another long season next year. My advice if you're a Portland fan? Pray. Alternatively, if you're an atheist (and this season was more than enough to shake anyone's faith), direct your pleas to David Stern. - CYE Read More
Unless you've been trapped in Oliver Miller's cleavage for the past decade, it won't be news to you that hip-hop and hoops go together like European players and suspect facial hair. Fresh releases are often to be found in an NBA locker room long before they hit the record store, and there's a discernible buzz on the blacktops when a hot new track drops. After years of marinating in rap culture, basketball's relationship with hip-hop is so obvious, well detailed and integral to the respective fields that it's unlikely ever to dissolve, even if the league will occasionally try to part the pair with an Elvis commercial, Dixie Chicks cross-promotion or anti-ice dress code clause. Over the years, the two games have grown closer as they've grown up, with rappers buying into franchise ownership groups and numerous players investing the dollars they earned on the court in start-up record labels. Every once in a while a baller will show up in the booth himself, and, even less frequently, an M.C. can be found lacing ‘em up and taking to the courts. Read More
What's good, basketball fans? As promised, I'm back with the second half of my Revisiting the NBA Power Rankings article. Naturally, the standings have shifted a little since Sunday, but so as not to have to recalculate the ranking-reality discrepancy for fifteen teams again, we'll treat it as if they haven't. Whatever the case, the changes (none of which saw any team move more than two places) wouldn't have been sufficiently significant to salvage the disaster that was my table from the summer. If those predictions had been a player, I would have traded them for Mark Madsen and considered myself the winner in the deal. I can only take solace in that every other set of preseason rankings I've found has been similarly horrible, adding weight to my idea that this year was a particularly tricky one to call. The other alternative is that sportswriters are, on the whole, a bunch of ill-informed jackasses. Let's move on before you have time to consider that fully. Read More
- Due to a mistake in the listed schedule, I arrive just in time to see the game start, sparing my eardrums the beating Clark Kellogg hands out with his incessant yelling. It's as if he's forgotten that he's wearing a microphone. - The tip ricochets off of two players and ends up out of bounds having last touched Humphrey. - UCLA's first play culminates in an awkward leaning bank-shot by Jordan Farmar which somehow finds the mark. - Florida's first shot attempt is a three by Brewer which clanks off the back of the rim. Read More
What's good, basketball fans? While no season ever turns out exactly as the experts called it, this year has seen more surprises than most, with a number of squads sporting win-loss records no analyst would have forecasted back in October. In particular, my own preseason predictions now diverge conspicuously from today's table, and in an attempt to figure out exactly how things ended up as they did, we'll be looking at my power rankings from late August last year alongside each team's current league standing in terms of their win-loss record. Please don't think me an honest man for digging up errors that would otherwise have remained hidden; I'll be doing my best to excuse myself and share the blame around like your favourite crooked politician throughout the article. By the end of it, we'll hopefully have established who should put their hands up for making me look an idiot, and where I should shoulder the responsibility myself. Read More
If you haven't caught the notes from the Florida-GMU game yet, you can check those out by clicking here. Otherwise, there's not much to say. Let's get right into it. - LSU end up with the ball following a scrappy tip, going straight to Big Baby, who clanks a fade-away jumper. - The pace of this game is so much quicker than the Gators-Patriots contest that it's difficult to imagine what the final will looks like. Both teams will want to dictate the tempo, but only one can win out in the end. - There's an unusual situation when one official overrules the other's decision, only to be overruled himself. Read More
What's good, basketball fans? As has become traditional on the biggest dates in the basketball calendar, I'll be keeping track of my thoughts throughout the night so that you good folks can read what I would otherwise have simply yelled at the television screen. All notes are real-time, unedited and uncensored, so if you suffer from a weak disposition, heart or bladder, you might want to check out ESPN's coverage instead. I'll be doing the same for the LSU-UCLA game later tonight, so make sure to look out for that article as well. Read More
Yao Ming. Yahmean? It's appropriate that the name of the league's biggest uncertainty doubles as an interrogative. While Tim Duncan (The Big Fundamental), K.G. (The Big Ticket) and Shaq (The Big Everything) earned declarative monikers, Yao remained The Big Question among the class of superstar post players. That is, until Tracy's back decided to act up and shut him down for the year, making number eleven the new number one in H-Town. Yao, the perennial outsider, seized the opportunity with both gargantuan mitts, banging, boarding and 'bowing his way into the inner circle, the elusive twenty-ten club. As irrelevant as statistical milestones can be, this one is more meaningful than most since it corresponds to a real spike in the Great Wall's game. While it may have come too late to save the Rockets' injury-soured season, it was, at the least, a positive note in an otherwise terrible year for the squad which fooled so many writers (yours truly included) into thinking that Houston might become the west's next powerhouse. Read More
“What went wrong, man?” My question, though rhetorical, is met with a response. “What went right?” My buddy, however, expected an answer. The problem was that for the first time, I didn't have one. The deeper I dug into my recesses of optimism, the more questions I unearthed. Have the players always cared this little? Was it such a string of shameless promotions last year? When did the sneakers start to mean more than the defence? Was it always this bad? Read More
What's good, basketball fans? With the NBA season stumbling to a temporary halt, it's time again to watch a selection of the world's elite ballers thank their fans by playing fairly poorly in a semi-competitive game which counts for nothing. Still, in spite of the commercial whoring, lazy defence and celebrities who have no business being in an NBA arena, All-Star Weekend is, at the least, several thousand times more entertaining than the Winter Olympics, and I say that without hyperbole. In honour of ASW, I continue with the annual tradition (founded this year) by listing the things I'd most like to see at some point in the festivities. As always, you can reach me with your comments, questions and suggestions at CY.Ellis@HoopsVibe.com or via the comment box below this article. Let's get right into it. Read More
What's good, basketball fans? You know the drill by now, so we needn't waste any time getting down to business. Let's take a look at our first quote. "I witnessed my wife being threatened by a man that I learned later to be intoxicated. I saw him touch her, and I know I should not have acted the way I did, but I would have felt terrible if I didn't react. There was no time to call security. It happened too quickly." For those of you unfamiliar with the incident, Antonio Davis entered the stands to attend to his wife, whom he saw “falling back” (in Larry Brown's words) during a confrontation with the aforementioned drunk dude. The event itself was even less exciting than it sounds, but the interesting part will come in the NBA's response to the event. Due to the fact that he entered the stands, Davis earned an automatic ejection, which comes with a substantial fine. Read More
What's good, basketball fans? A happy MLK Day to all; here's hoping you use some of your time today to pay homage to Dr. King and his legacy. Although a good number of you have today off, I'm still on the grind, which means that you have the treat of another edition of The Day in Quotes. Let's get right into it. "He's a hell of a player, but I just got in him." - Ruben Patterson on guarding LeBron James Read More
What's good, basketball fans? After a protracted absence, I'm back on the block, and so is The Day in Quotes. If you don't know this goes, stick with us and you soon will. Let's get down to business. "It looks positive at this point. I haven't talked with Mr. Colangelo, but we should be making this announcement within a week or so." - LeBron James on the possibility of his being included in the coming Olympic squad I don't think I'm jumping the gun when I say that LeBron is as good as a confirmed member of the squad. His rolls deep enough in minders, agents and publicists that somebody would have shut him up were this not essentially a done deal. Relinquishing a sizeable chunk of your off-season is no small commitment for a player who averages forty-plus minutes a night, but it's no surprise that he wants to get the taste of that LeBronze out of his mouth. Read More
What's good, basketball fans? You know how this goes by now. If you don't, you can check out one of the previous editions of TDIQ by clicking on the links to the right of your screen. As always, you can contact me with your comments, suggestions and basketball queries at CY.Ellis@HoopsVibe.com. Let's get right into it. “I don't know Ron, so I can't say whether he would scare me or not.” - Dwane Casey Either Dwane Casey is hardcore or, frankly, a little slow. I can't tell you if there's a higher power in the universe or whether our oil reserves will run dry in the next thirty years, but one thing I know for damn sure is that Ron Artest should put the fear in most rational people. With a 6'7'', 260-pound frame and the behavioural tendencies of a bipolar Tyrannosaurus Rex, he's a cause for concern on several levels. If you gave me the choice between being locked in a room with an angry Ron-Ron or being thrown in a shark tank, I'd start looking for my snorkel. Read More
What's good, basketball fans? As promised, we're back with another edition of The Day in Quotes. If the emails I received yesterday are anything to go by, the new format has gone down well with you all, so we'll be sticking with it for the moment. If you haven't already, let me know what you think of the set-up by emailing me at CY.Ellis@HoopsVibe.com or by commenting in the box at the bottom of the page. Let's get right to our first quote. “He's had it for a long time. It has to do with his toenail and having his toenail removed.” - Jeff Van Gundy on Yao Ming's toenail problems Read More