Charles Barkley isn't afraid to speak his mind, even when it comes to a man sticking his penis into another man's holiest of holies. So it didn't exactly shock me when Sir Charles came out in support of gay marriage.

"I think if they want to get married, God bless them. Gay marriage is probably 1 percent of the population, so it's not like it's going to be an epidemic. Hey, trust me, I'm never going to kiss you and say, 'Chris, you're sexy.'"
Is it just me, or do Chuck's words come off as slightly patronizing? I know that the Great Homo Epidemic is a secret fear that keeps heterosexual men awake at night, and I personally spend a minimum of two hours every day surfing the Web for nude pictures of Paris Hilton as a means of inoculating myself. But c'mon Charles, do you really need to qualify your support of gay marriage by assuring people you aren't going to catch an incurable case of gaybies? And I'd like to know where he got that "1 percent of the population" statistic. Maybe he'll explain it in his next book...

Sir Charles
The answer to the question is: I'm
afraid, Mr. Barkley. Very, very afraid.

Buh-bye Paul; don't forget to write: In other news, Paul Shirley has discontinued his blog on; his 40th and latest post will be his last. This might have actually disappointed me about 35 posts ago, but, frankly, I'm tired of Paul's incessant whining. Those of you who actually read his blog know what I'm talking about. Over the last few months, his blog has consisted almost solely of him telling his readers -- none of which, I'm sure, are General Managers or talent scouts -- that he's a really, really good basketball player and should be playing in the NBA right now.

Look Paul, I'm sorry nobody in the NBA wants to sign you. Get over it already. Quitting the one steady job you have to chase an impossible dream sounds like a lot of crazy to me. I mean damn, if you can't play basketball at least you could get paid to write about it. Now, I'll take all this back if you sign with some team and make a serious contribution, but I don't see it happening.

Have you seem my Dirk? First he disappeared in the NBA Finals, now he's disappearing in the FIBA World Championships. Dirk Nowitzki had a terrible game against Team USA last night, scoring 15 points on 3-of-12 shooting to go along with his 5 turnovers. Suffice to say, the German National Team got killed, 85-65. For Dirk's sake, I hope this trend doesn't continue. Of course, this is yet another good argument against all the Larry versus Dirk comparisons.

Sofoklis knows bodies: Sofoklis Schortsanitis plays for the Greek National Team, and he knows how to use his body. I need to give Schortsanitis a call, because I've been laying on the floor and flopping around all day...if only I knew how to use my body!

Gilbert's a big fat liar: Gilbert Arenas' groin is fine, but his balls have apparently come up missing. Gilbert left Team USA on August 14 supposedly due to a pulled groin muscle. Ends up he just quit because he was angry about being on the bubble and didn't want to get cut. "No joke, I felt like I was the 16th man on a 15-man roster." What's with these guys? Just because you're the star of your very own NBA team doesn't mean you automatically get to be the star of the national team. Add this to Chris Bosh bitching and moaning about playing time, and you have to ask out loud "Did Christian Laettner complain about Chris Mullin taking all his minutes in '92?" The answer is: no, he didn't. He warmed the bench, dispensed Gatorade during timeouts, and washed everyone's jockstraps in his hotel room sink. And he liked it.
Want to make Dwight Howard scream like a 6'11", 265 pound little girl? Just take him on a rollercoaster ride.

Warning: Watching this video could do irreparable damage to your funny bone. Possible side-effects include painful side-stitches and uncontrollable flatulence. Please consult your physician before viewing it.

Some choice quotes for the video:

"Aw man, don't do it to me...NO, AW MAN...AAAHHHHHHHHH!!"

"Man, look how high we is. OOOOH, MAN...I can see my house over there!!"

"Aw man, stop playin'. We gonna go backwards!!"

A special thanks goes out to our good friend Reef for bringing this clip to our attention.
Shoes02The guys over at The Association have already talked about the Starbury Ones, so you can go there if you want the full story and origin of Stephon Marbury's signature shoe. If, on the other hand, you want to know whether the shoes are actually worth the cheap pleather they were printed on, you've come to the right place.

At a mere $14.98, the price of the Starbury Ones is unprecedented. I mean, there are homeless people walking the streets of Chicago who paid more for the paper bags they rubber-banded to their feet. And since we've been taught that even the most basic basketball shoes will run you anywhere from $50 to $70, the natural assumption is that the Starbury Ones are poorly made. And yet Stephon's
offical site claims that the shoes are "exactly the same as the most expensive kicks in the market." Don't know what to believe? Well open wide baby bird, 'cause momma's got a big fat nightcrawler of Truth for you.

In order to review such an unprecedented shoe, I needed an unprecedented rating system, which is why I created the Starbury Shot Quantity Evaluator (TM). Just as Stephon's personal happiness is directly proportional to the number of shots he gets in any given game, the SSQE rates shoes based the "quantity of shots" ratio that determine's Marbury's relative level of post-game satisfaction:

5 Shots = An unacceptable failure

10 Shots
= A slight underachievement

15 Shots
= Generally sufficient

20 Shots
= Strangely pleasing

25+ Shots
= So close to perfect you'll probably thank God
Mission Statement: 25+ shots
Every pair of Starbury Ones (and, in fact, everything in the Starbury Line) comes with a tag that reads as follows:

"This is about you and me. This is about you and me changing the world. This is about you and me saying it's not about the commercials, the gimmicks, the dollar signs. This is about you and me showing the world that it can be done. Starbury is my life. This line was built on what I've been through. From Coney Island to Madison Square Garden. These are the shoes I wear on the court; these are the clothes I wear off it. This is what I believe in. I'm tired of people saying it can't be done. Change the world with me."
Since Stephon is a selfish gunner with a well-earned reputation as a locker room cancer, it would be easy enough to cynically disregard these words. Just ask Larry Brown. But you've gotta admit, it sounds really good.

Availability: 5 Shots
I spent over a week trying to get my Starbury Ones, and it was a complete pain in the ass. I called the local
Steve and Barry's (the only place the Starbury Line is sold) to reserve a pair. Somebody named "Debra" took my name, shoe size, and color preference, and told me I had to pick the shoes up by Saturday (they were released on Thursday). But when I showed up Thursday night, I was told by the store manager that S&B's doesn't reserve its merchandise. Even worse, all the Starbury shoes were already sold out. However, the manager assured me that another shipment was due tomorrow.

I called the next day and talked to "Lisa." I asked if the new Starbury shipment had come in, and she said no new shipments of anything were due until next week, and that there was no set day...the shipments just come in "whenever." When I asked to speak to the store manager, she informed me that she was the manager.

This process of calling and going by the store went on for an agonizing eight days. I finally found a single pair of size 13 Starbury Ones, in white. There were only two other pairs in the store; a white size 9 and a black size 11.

It shouldn't be that hard to get shoes. It really shouldn't. The sad part is, people are already
selling the shoes on eBay. One schmuck is trying to sell a pair for $34.99 and charging $9.50 to ship them. Nice. Nothing like selling a $15 shoe for $45. What makes this an extra "Soon my Electro-Ray Will Destroy Metropolis" level of superdickery is that people are consciously buying shoes intended for the underprivileged for the purpose of reselling them for profit. I would like to extend a hearty "FUCK YOU" to those people.

Appearance: 20 Shots
Say what you will, but the Starbury Ones look good. They don't look like $150 shoes, but they look a hell of a lot better than $15 shoes have any right to look. They're sleek and stylish without being tacky (anyone remember the Dada Spree's?). I would not be ashamed to wear these shoes in public. And if they didn't say "Starbury" on the back, I might even feel downright good about wearing them.

Construction: 10 Shots
The leather of the shoe is extremely thin. The tongue of the shoes looks like it's held in by cheap medical gauze. The insole almost fell out when I removed the paper they stuff into the shoe so it holds its shape. Simply put, it's not the best made shoe in the world. But then again, for $15 how could it be?

I was tempted to rate the shoe's construction at 15 Shots, because it's the most well-crafted cheap shoe I've ever seen. However, the shoe is being touted as "exactly like" the most expensive basketball shoes on the market, and that's like saying a Big Mac is "exactly" like filet mignon. If used rigorously, these shoes will not last as long as more expensive shoes. And a Big Mac will give you a worse case of gas then a filet. I'm just sayin'.

Coolness Factor: 15 Shots
I wore these shoes to a pickup basketball game. I told everybody I was wearing Starbury Ones, and I explained how much they cost and that they were created to provide affordable basketball shoes for the urban youth. I then received a steady stream of mockery for the rest of the night.

But here's the thing: I was only made fun of after I told people about the shoes. Before that, nobody said anything about them. So sure, the Starbury Ones weren't wowing anybody, but nobody noticed they were "cheap shoes" until it was revealed. And mind you, some of these people are shoe fiends that absolutely must buy two copies of every pair of Air Jordans that come out, and they will not hesitate to laugh at someone for wearing Converse or low-end Nikes. So the Starbury Ones actually did an excellent job of fitting in and masquerading as middle to high-end shoes...which is exactly what they're supposed to do.

Wearability: 5 Shots
This is where the Starbury Ones fail. They just aren't comfortable. They ride high and really grip the ankle. This means that the shoes are hard to get on, rub the hell out of your ankle while you're wearing them, and then they're hard to take off. They're also rather big and clunky for basketball shoes, reminiscent of basketball shoes from the mid-90s. Fortunately (or unfortunately), the leather is thin and so the shoes are actually pretty light.

Speaking of the has all the flexibility of a cardboard box. Maybe there's a breaking-in period or something, but instead of comforming to the movement of your feet, the leather actually "caves in" while you walk. This caving-in process can produce sharp little indentations that poke your feet. This doesn't just happen while you're hooping it up, either; it also happens when you're just walking around. It's both annoying and a little painful.

The shoes don't have any arch support either, and there's very little padding, so it can feel like you're running up and down the court with a couple wooden planks strapped to your feet. Due to the weak sole and complete lack of arch support, it's difficult to jump and accelerate when running out on a fast break (not to mention the "clomp, clomp, clomp" sound you'll make while running). This will be a deterrent to almost anyone who plays competitive basketball, but especially to someone like me who has flat feet. By the end of the night, both of my feet were sore and my left knee was aching. I don't know how Stephon is going to get through next season playing in these things.

Overall Rating: 5 or 15 Shots
The final rating of these shoes really depends on what you're using them for. If you want something that looks cool to walk around in, then the Starbury Ones are a damn good shoe for $15. You could probably even use some gel inserts to make them more comfortable. BUT...if you expect to play basketball in them, you're going to be tragically disappointed. Not only will you end up with chronically sore feet to go along with your aching knees and ankles, the shoes aren't constructed well enough to last long under the pressure of serious balling. This isn't in the tagline, but Marbury might have created the first fully disposable basketball shoe.

(update: Steve and Barry's still doesn't have an online store. If one isn't nearby your best bet is eBay.)
Triple Threat Position (trip'-uhl thret puh-zish'-uhn) noun. An active stance from which an offensive player can either pass, shoot, or dribble the basketball.

Usage example: Guys like Lebron James and Dwayne Wade kill their opponents with the Triple Threat Position.

Word Instruction: Keep in mind that the Triple Threat Position is only effective when utilized by multi-faceted players. Unless you're an efficient passer/shooter/ball-handler, the position will only make you look like an idiot (can you imagine Greg Ostertag using it?). Legends like Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, John Havlicek, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan specialized in using the Triple Threat Position, and current stars like Lebron, Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, and Steve Nash are using it with great effect today. The tutorial site provides the following action-packed description for getting into the TTP:

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

2. Stagger your feet slightly, so that your left foot points into the arch of your right foot.

3. Bend your knees and crouch slightly.

4. Grasp the ball with your left hand on the side of the ball and your right hand on top.

5. Bend both elbows so they're approximately at right angles.

6. Survey the court at all times.

7. Decide what the most appropriate maneuver for your current situation is.

Special Warning For Incredible Weaklings: The eHow tutorial also states that "If you have any condition that would impair or limit your ability to engage in physical activity, please consult a physician before attempting this activity." Here's some better advice. If you're too feeble to stand in place while holding a basketball, you'd better choose a new sport, like "Beginning Chair Sitting" or "Advanced Drooling On Yourself."

Word Trivia: I have an old Celtics/Cavaliers playoff game on tape, and provides videographic evidence of Robert Parish using the Triple Threat Position against Brad Daugherty. This is amazing for a few reasons. First, Parish was not an outside threat (although he consistently shot 50+ percent from inside 12 feet). Secondly, Parish was one of the least graceful players in the league. Seriously, he was like one of those old Star Wars action figures that didn't bend at the knees or elbows. But despite all this, Parish broke Daugherty down from 18 feet away from the hoop, beating Brad off the dribble before executing a drop-step that turned into a fadeaway jump shot. What made this sequence even better is teh fact that Parish actually lost the ball on the way up, and yet somehow managed to knock it into the basket with his elbow. This was probably the ugliest use of the TTP ever.

Triple Threat Position
Feel free to practice with a friend, but the position
actually works better if only one of you is on offense.
It's what you've been waiting all year for: the opportunity to watch the Sacramento Monarchs defend their title against the Detroit Shock. This is the WNBA Finals, can have the whole chair, but you're only going to need the edge of you seat for this one!!

WNBA Finals
Can you feel the excitement? Yeah, I didn't think so.

I'd be willing to bet no one reading this blog knew who was in the WNBA Finals. In fact, most of you probably didn't even know the WNBA season was still going on. At this point, the WNBA has deteriorated from "unique opportunity for professional sports" to "disappointing nonsuccess" to "abject failure" to "totally depressing mess." I haven't felt this morbid since my family decided to pull the plug on grandma...and she wasn't even on life support at the time.

It's become entirely obvious that women's basketball as a professional sport isn't going to work. Nobody cares about it. ESPN provides more coverage of the
National Spelling Bee than the WNBA. And it doesn't get much better locally. The city of Chicago started a new WNBA franchise this season, and I honestly can't even remember what it's called. I read the sports section of the local papers every day, and in the last few months I've seen exactly two articles about the Sky (I just looked the name up): once about them ending an 11-game losing streak, and one about how they plan to improve next season (they finished 5-29...again, I just looked it up). For the sake of comparison, in the same span of time I've seen articles about an International Hot Dog Eating Contest and a competitive Rock/Paper/Scissors tournament.

This year is the WNBA's
10th Anniversary. They released an All-Decade Team and everything. But I would be surprised if your average NBA fan could name more than two or three members of that team, and that's only because David Stern bombards us with WNBA marketing during NBA Playoff telecasts. And let's face it, Stern is the only reason the WNBA still exists. He absolutely will not give up on it. It's like a personal crusade for him. And I understand his reasoning. For him, it's about ethics. Women deserve to have professional sports.

I agree with him to a point. But sports don't exist in a vacuum. They're businesses too. They have to become self-sufficient, and, you know, actually make money. The WNBA has never had a single profitable season. How many businesses can you think of that would survive ten years of losing money? If you were running that business, would you keep it going? Hell no. You'd write it off and start something new. But the WNBA is under the protective umbrella of it's older, more successful brother. As long as the NBA keeps turning a profit, Stern will keep flushing huge piles of money down the toilet on his pet project. Meanwhile, he'll fine the living hell out of Mark Cuban for acting like an idiot. Maybe somebody should fine Stern for his bad business sense. Then again, maybe Cuban's fines are what's actually supporting the WNBA. And if that's the case, he might become a folk hero for women's sports. Sort of.

The problems dooming the WNBA aren't going to change any time soon. The players are slow, at least when compared to their NBA counterparts. They can't dunk. The game isn't aesthetically pleasing. Statbuster outlined a five-point plan to make the WNBA work. It included things like making the hoop shorter (thereby enabling the ladies to play above the rim), using fewer players (4-on-4 or 3-on-3 would increase individual scoring), and changing the uniforms to skin-tight spandex or maybe those little bathing suits that the beach volleyball players wear. Think about that. I've personally watched about 1000 percent more women's volleyball than women's basketball...and I hate volleyball! Those volleyball people understand this. They know how to attract viewers.

Finally...a sport I can, ahem, get behind.

I suppose you could accuse me of being sexist, but there's no question that many women's sports are blatantly using sex to sell their players. The careers of tennis stars Maria Sharapova and Anna Kournikova are based almost entirely on how sexy they are...and Kournikova isn't even that good at tennis. Even the historically butch LPGA is getting into the act. I mean, have you seen Natalie Gulbis? Or Laura Diaz? Or Michelle Wie? I absolutely despise golf, but I can still name three professional women golfers right off the top of my head. That's the same number of WNBA All-Decade players I could name, by the way. And basketball is my favorite sport.

There's no shame in giving your customers what they want. After all, NBA realized its viewers enjoy dunks and athletic drives to the basket, so the Powers That Be made palming the ball and travelling legal. Hockey allows supervised fights to break out in the middle of a game. And the main problem facing the WNBA is that is just doesn't provide what a larger customer base would want. I say: give it to them. Change up the game. Make it interesting and fun to watch. You don't even have to make all the players wear bikinis, although that would be a hoot. But the whole "slower, more boring NBA" thing has failed. Let's try something different.

By the way, the WNBA Finals kick off at 7:30 P.M. EST on ESPN2.
This has nothing to do with basketball, but it's too funny not to post. If you grew up in the middle to late-70s, you probably saw the Shazam! live-action television show. It was about the stirring tale of Billy Batson, a vaguely androgenous teenager struggling to come to terms with his sexual identity. And Billy wasn't alone on his erotic journey. Far from it. He travelled around the country in a kickass Winnebago with a boy-hungry old man known only as "Mentor." Mentor looked like a cross between Mr. Miyagi and...well, he just looked like an older, more perverted Mr. Miyagi.

Billy wasn't your average zit-popping punk. He had a secret, super-awesome power. Whenver he said a single word -- SHAZAM!! -- he was struck by a magical lightning bolt and transformed into Captain Marvel, the "world's mightiest mortal." He really didn't look that mighty, though. He looked more like a creepy sexual predator, only instead of a priest outfit he wore lightning-bolt pajamas and a little cape. He didn't do many super things either. There was an episode where he had to put out a fire, but instead of blowing it out with his super freeze breath, he simply pulled a fire extinguisher off the wall and calmly snuffed the fire. And despite the fact that he could fly (via truly bad special effects), he once had to climb a stepladder to get something off a shelf.

Anyway, I found a clip of the show on YouTube. Billy is hurt and laying semi-conscious in a forest. Frankly, it looks like he's recovering from one of Mentor's intense "tutoring lessons," only Billy must have forgotten the safeword. Anyway, as some nameless brat tries to wake Billy up...a bear attacks!! And by "attack" I mean it slowly walks around the area doing absolutely nothing that is even remotely menacing. In fact, I think it was just looking for a place to go to the bathroom. But the nameless kid tries to save Billy anyway, by leading the bear on a slow and plodding chase. Billy watches his friend run off and listens to him scream for almost two minutes before finally tranforming into Captain Marvel. He then flies to his friend's aid, which consists of him landing and watching as the bear walks off on its own. Captain Marvel then flies back and tranforms into Billy, thereby preserving his super-awesome secret identity.

We're then treated to an inspirational speech from Captain Marvel, who turns his cold, psychotic gaze to the camera and tells us, the viewers, some strange shit about believing in ourselves or something. His is the frightening look of a man who realizes that, "I look like a 47 year-old recently released sex offender. And I'm wearing pajamas. With lightning bolts. God help me...I must kill!!"

veteran-ly (vet'-uhr-uhn-le') adverb. Having or displaying the combination of experience, cunning, and sneaky tricks that are possessed by veteran basketball players.

Usage example: Kevin McHale used to veteran-ly switch his pivot feet, and somehow managed to avoid getting called for travelling.

Word History: The term was coined by Shaq in an feature article titled Catching Up With The Diesel. When asked why his Miami Heat got off to a slow start last year, and why they "only" won 50 games, Shaq said: "It happened because we sort of veteran-ly paced ourselves. A lot of teams come out, win 15 in a row, win 20 in a row, win 70 games, but if you don't win the whole thing, none of that matters. Our formula was very simple: beat the teams you're supposed to beat, stay dominant at home, and stay above .500 on the road. We did that and we won 50 games. We let about nine or 10 games slip away by not focusing or just by being lazy."

I'm not sure "a lot" of teams have come out and won 70 games; in fact, I'm pretty sure that's only happened once (and that team did, in fact, win the title). But considering the fact that he could kill me with one clubbing blow, I'll let Shaq say pretty much whatever he wants. But this quote definitely settles the "Does Shaq sandbag during the regular season" debate.

That's not an illegal hook; Shaq's just veteranly driving around Nash.
Basketball Fact #491: No matter how much money a professional basketball player makes, it only takes a couple million more to get them to make a goddamn fool of themselves. For instance...

Shaq underwear
Wear this underwear and KAZAAM!! Your sex life will disappear.

(Take a moment to consider the people responsible for Kazaam underwear. Not only did they think Kazaam would do well enough in theaters to justify the creation of movie-related merchandise, they also thought there would be significant demand for a line of Kazaam-themed children's underwear. No, seriously. They made the logical assumption that children -- not one or two, but multiple children -- would want the image of a laughing, pajama-clad Shaq pressed firmly between their ass-cheeks. Those people are out there somewhere, walking the streets, maybe on a block near you. If you aren't afraid right now, you should be.)

But if you're a basketball fan, all it takes is for someone to make fun of your favorite player for you to stand up and let the world know you're an idiot. Case in point: we received a lot of angry (and, of course, anonymous) comments about our posts mocking Michael Jordan's Flight School video. Most of them read like word soup that had been typed by an illiterate person's elbows. This lead us to conclude that either 1) they all came from Jordan himself, or 2) mentally handicapped people love Michael Jordan. For the sake of everyone's sanity, here's one of the more legible (but still anonymous) ones:
"Your comments should be directed to the idiot that directed/edited the video. This is the equivelent to any other blooper video. I really fail to see the point of your comments aside from using a well known figure to bring attention to your article. Who makes moore bloopers and sound dumber than Bush and you guys elected him as the leader of your nation,(Twice)."
When I need my posts to carry weight, I'll keep all of this in mind. But even if I do decide to send a message to the people of the world, I probably won't take the advice of some anonymous dipshit who left a nonsense comment on my blog. And by the way: Trying to defend Jordan's grammatical ineptitude by saying George W. Bush is an idiot is like defending a pile of vomit by telling everyone that poop smells worse. Sure, it's technically true, but it's also completely retarded.

But enough of Mr. Anonymous and his righteous (if pathetic and misguided) anger. Let's focus on something far more important: how to become a better basketball player. And who better to reveal the dark secrets of basketballistic potentiality than, well, Michael Jordan?

For those of you who accuse me of twisting Jordan's words, or taking them out of context, here's the full and unedited transcript of this clip:

"For all the kids who want to be a better basketball player, I think you should improve your weaknesses to where they become strengths, and at the same time improve your strengths to where you don't have any weaknesses. So work on it well-roundedly, and try to become the best basketball player you can be. And once you get to that level, then you're an MVP in your own mind."
That's the kind of lame, poorly worded advice you'd expect from a fortune cookie. A bad one. But instead of emerging from the bowels of a crisp cookie shell, it's ejaculating from the mouth of an NBA legend. Is Jordan really that stupid? I was puzzling over this last night, and then it hit me. This isn't the kind of laughable failure that comes solely from incompetence. This is a conscious and calculated attack against up and coming basketball players. It's kind of like how the "Birds and the Bees" talk scared you the hell away from sex until your parents had a chance to install bars over your bedroom window. See, Jordan knows the best way to ensure that there's never another Jordan is to sabotage NBA hopefuls at a young and impressionable age. Fill them with meaningless drivel about doing things "well-roundedly," and the only place they'll ever be an MVP is in their own mind. Let's face it, it's either brilliance or stupidity. Or, you know, maybe it's both.

Editorial Extra: Since Michael's advice is so formulaic, I thought I'd improve it using the Fortune Cookie Corollary: namely, by ending each phrase with "in bed." So the new and improved Jordan answer should read something like this:
"For all the kids who want to be a better basketball player in bed, I think you should improve your weaknesses to where they become strengths in bed, and at the same time improve your strengths to where you don't have any weaknesses in bed. So work on it well-roundedly, and try to become the best basketball player you can be in bed. And once you get to that level, then you're an MVP in your own mind in bed."
See? That's, like, 826 percent better and I only added 10 words. They really need to consult us before they shoot these videos.

Advicetastic Extra: Why should Michael Jordan have the monopoly on giving out crappy advice? You too can spout inane proverbs and bring in $2,000 a week from your own home (plus or minus the $2,000). To create a Michael Jordan proverb, start by making a simple statement, and then restate it in reverse. Here are some real life examples to get you started on the road to inspirational speaking:
"To learn my teachings, I must first teach you how to learn."

"He who questions training only trains himself at asking questions."

"When you care what is inside, what is inside cares for you."

"If you to do not learn to master your fear, your fear will become your master."
An official Basketbawful No-Prize goes to anyone who can tell me what movie these quotes come from. Now go out into the world, little grasshopper, and unleashify your inner successivations. But please, do it well-roundedly.
Former NBA journeyman Lonny Baxter was arrested yesterday and now faces various charges of gun-related jackassery. Thanks to this arrest, Baxter has officially joined the growing ranks of gun-toting basketballers, such as former and current superstars Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, Scottie Pippen, and Jose Canseco. (Okay, I know Jose Canseco didn't play basketball, but recent studies indicate that the name "Jose" increases the comedic value of any article by at least 5 percent. Who am I to argue with science?)

To some of you, this may sound kind of meaningless. We've become desensitized to the criminal mischief perpetrated by our professional athletes. But what makes Lonny's crime that extra special "If left alone I might swallow a box of rat poison" kind of stupid is the fact that he wasn't just carrying a firearm without a license. He discharged the gun. In public. From a car. In plain sight. Two blocks from the fucking White House.

How in the name of Lincoln's wart does something like this happen? I mean, we live in a country where armed guards have to take away your contact solution before they can let you on an airplane. Seriously, I saw a picture in the Chicago Sun Times that showed O'Hare security personnel confiscating a can of Easy Cheese. Easy Cheese!! There's a War Against Terror going on, people, and not even our fatty snack foods are safe. You don't have to be Stephen Hawking to understand that the Secret Service is going to get a little pissy if you start shooting off your gun in front of the President's house.

Fortunately for Lonny, this wasn't an
oops-I-killed-the-limo-driver type of situation. It appears he and a buddy were just blowing off steam in the form of random gun blasts into the air. And, apropos of a guy who finished last season shooting 37 percent from the field, he apparently didn't hit anything. The only excuse I would accept is that they were waging a secret war against an unknown alien menace. And if that's the case, and Lonny somehow averted some kind of UFO apocalypse, then please accept this sentence as a formal apology.

Lonny and friend
Lonny with an unnamed (and possibly retarded) man. Could he
be the second gunman? This answer may shock you: I don't care.

Runner-up: Ron Artest told a bunch of kids it's okay to start a riot as long as, you know, somebody provokes you. Artest, having been sentenced to do community service for his part in the Brawl At Auburn Hills, was performing that service by speaking to a group of 50 children at a panel on black empowerment in Detroit. While discussing the riot that destroyed the Pacers franchise and made NBA players look like a group of freaks and hoodlums, Artest said: "Someone started trouble and I ended it." He then brutally attacked a six year-old who threw a spitball at him, thereby ending another troublesome situation someone else started.

To be honest, I'm not sure who most deserves this runner-up award: Artest or the rocket scientist who decided to have one of the craziest bastards in professional sports speak to and advise a group of impressionable schoolchildren. Great idea, dude. What's next? Traffic school with Randy Moss? Marriage counseling with O.J. Simpson? Firearm maintenance with Lonny Baxter? Oh, the humanity.
Waltonism (wolt'-un-iz'-um) noun. Relating to or characteristic of comments made by former NBA MVP and current ESPN television analyst Bill Walton. Typically, these are grandiose non sequiturs about a specific player, a particular team, or a team's entire fanbase. Always overstated (often bordering on ludicrous) and sometimes marked by transparent irony, these statements usually take the form of either A) a superlative compliment or B) a hyperderogatory criticism.

Usage example: When my buddy said he thought Lebron James was " the greatest player in every known universe," I accused him of making a Waltonism.

Word Usage: The opinions about Bill Walton and his "highly individualistic" brand commentary are bitterly divided. Regarding the subject of Waltonisms, some have said "he's the biggest douchebag doing color sports commentary on TV," while others think "Bill Walton is absolutely hillarious." Personally, I think that, early in his broadcasting career, Bill's analysis came off as goofy, bumbling, and irrelevant. However, I think he's improved to the point where his color commentary mirrors how people feel about him: half the time he's a douchebag, half the time he's funny, poignant, and (almost) endearing.

Creating your own Waltonism is easy. Simply use the following formula: [Insert Player/Team/Fanbase Name] is [Insert Action -- preferably basketball related] [Insert Superlative or Hypernegative Description]. It's that easy! Remember: the more bizarre, the better. Here are some real life examples to get you started.

"Tracy McGrady is doing things we've never seen from anybody -- from any planet!"

"Eric Piatkowski makes perhaps the greatest defensive play in Clipper history!"

"Patrick Ewing used to be better in every aspect of the game."

"John Stockton is one of the true marvels, not just of basketball, or in America, but in the history of Western Civilization!"

"This crucial game five brings to mind two great movies. The first is Gladiator, in which Maximus attempts to rally his troops to come together. They learn that the only way to win is to fight as one. The other is Traffic, in which we learn that the greatest battle of all is that which is fought within one's own mind."

"Tony Parker just made the worst pass in the history of Western Civilization."

"That was the worst execution of the fast break in the history of the Trail Blazer franchise."

"What a pathetic play from a pathetic human being." (About Larry Johnson.)

"Shaq makes everyone else in the league look like Michel Tafoya."
FUN-tastic Extra: Loyal reader* Henry Skinner recently sent us this screen capture from NBA Live 2005:


According to Henry, this picture of Bill (circa the late 70s) "looks like he has just poked his face out of a bear's ass." With all due respect to Henry, we're not so sure about this. Personally, we've never seen someone poke their head out of a bear's ass. But we have seen a sasquatch. And this, clearly, is a picture of one. Just import the image into Photoshop and enlarge it, and you'll see a zipper running down the middle of its face. But whatever the case, I can quite honestly say that is the worst the history of Western Civilization.

*In this case, the term "loyal reader" simply means he hasn't called us a fag. Yet.
This Q&A segment of the Flight School: Fundamentals of Basketball video starts out with Michael Jordan making the following statement:

"I really don't understand the physics of jumping and how you increase that."
Don't feel bad, Mike; I don't understand it either. Hell, I didn't even know it was possible to increase the physics of something. But despite his confessed lack of knowledge, Jordan nonetheless proceeds to spend almost a minute "instructing" us on a subject he just admitted to knowing nothing about.

Jordan - TALK
Michael might not know anything about a particular
subject, but he isn't above talking out of his ass about it.

Since Mike doesn't understand the laws of physics, he just tells us about the things he did as a child to improve his own prodigious leaping ability. This includes "the very basic things," like riding a bicycle and trying to jump. Based on his Bizarro World logic, shouldn't someone like Lance Armstrong be able to jump to, I don't know, Uranus? Jordan forgets to mention that genetics made him a freak of nature with large, steel coils in place of leg muscles.

More of Michael's mental wizardry:

"I guess if you exercise the muscle to that activity, somehow it's gonna improve."
I...guess so. Michael then confused the hell out of me with one of the longest run-on senteces I've ever heard:

"How much it improves, no one can really dictate who's gonna be the greatest leaper of all time or when the next player's gonna be a great leaper, but those are the things that if you work on your jumping to some degree, it's gonna improve some."
What? No, seriously. What??! Aw, forget it. Mike, just tell me this: will riding my bike and jumping around the house make me a better basketball player?

"Will it maximize your opportunities? No."

While I greatly enjoyed discussing the 4-bit majesty of Larry Bird and Julius Irving playing One-on-One in 1983, I figured it was time to update the matchup, pitting them against each other in EA NBA Live 2006. As when I pitted Larry vs. Dirk, I made the computer play itself, thereby taking my obscene bias in favor of Larry Bird out of the equation.

As the Great White Hope and the Doctor squared off, I noticed a couple of things right off the bat:

Thing One: Even though Larry was known as one of the game's great trash talkers, Dr. J appeared to be doing most of the talking. The taunts were stereotypical urban lingo, despite the fact that the "Doctor" is a rather soft-spoken, eloquent fellow. It appears that this video game has decided that if there's a black dude involved, he's going to taunt early and often, and get all street on your ass.

Thing Two: While digital Larry is capable of the occasional high flying dunk (like he displayed against Dirk), there is very little wasted movement in his moves and shots -- a fairly accurate representation of his game. Digital J, on the other hand, has been issued the full compliment of...hmmm, how to put this delicately...ethnic flair. J pulled out to an immediate lead in the first game with a series of double-clutching, "take that cracker" moves that, honestly, seemed to have Larry intimidated.

"Hey Larry, after I kiss the rim and slam this home, I'll whip
out my 10-inch schlong to make you feel completely inferior."

Honestly, it was a little like watching Rocky get his ass handed to him by Mr. T (no relation to Dr. J) in
Rocky III. There they were, Larry Bird and Rocky Balboa, looking completely dumbfounded and overmatched by the toned, scary, hyperathletic black man. And besides, Larry was distracted by the death of his trainer, Mickey...or was that Rocky? I digress.

"Have you not noticed my superior muscle definition?
Just ask Jimmy the Greek. YOU CAN'T WIN, ROCK!"

A la Micheal Jordan in that spectacularly needless "up one side, around to the other" highlight move he made against the Lakers in the 1991 Finals, Julius made a potpourri of superifically unnecessary moves, like this "up-down-then-up-and-down-again-for-no-reason" move, which is essentially just a two-foot hook shot made to be far more difficult.

And then there were plays where Larry looked like maybe he was just afraid. I'm telling you, he was just worried about Burgess Meredith, back there on the trainer's table, dying in Talia Shire's arms. And then there was Mr. T's mohawk to contend with. Seriously, who
wouldn't be scared shitless...

Larry, I know he's a terrifying force and all,
but seriously, box out.

Despite Dr. J's all-out surge of showboating, Larry only lost by two.

Like Rocky, Larry gathered himself, took on Apollo Creed and that bald dude as trainers, went back to the hood, jumped rope, swam, worked on his foot speed, and learned all the lyrics to "Eye of the Tiger." Miraculously, he did all of this in the time it took me to click "Rematch" on my Gamecube.

Having already witnessed Dr. J's "look how amazing I am" show, Larry was no longer mystified or impressed. Like any great strategist, he adapted and overcame.

"Did I mention I can drain the two, homeslice?
Better tighten that D."

With a string of utterly boring, flairless jumpshots, Larry established a substantial lead in the second game.

"There you go. That D is better. But I'm automatic from here anyway.
Did I mention I'm Larry Fucking Bird?"

"Why you playing D down there?
Waiting for me to quadruple clutch this shot?"

"Pretty slam, J. Now you're only down 8-3."

"Guess what, J? My white boy dunk counts just as much as yours."

Larry's rebounding improved as well, resulting in a nice hanging slam. I guess Larry decided to give J a touch of his own medicine.

And suddenly J's fancified double-clutching and whatnot wasn't working so well.

The second game was more to my liking.


Now seeing how I've been equating this matchup to that of Rocky and Mr. T, I consider it my right decide that Larry's victory in game two is the equivalent of Rocky regaining the heavyweight title, thereby negating the need for a third game.

I would also submit that if I were playing basketball against a superior physical specimen and managed to pull out a win, I would choose to do what many of us lowly white boys would do in the same situation: take my ball, say that I have to get home for dinner, and get the hell out of the court, because everyone likes to walk off a winner (except Michael Jordan, apparently, who returned to basketball only to fail spectacularly).

For those unhappy with this decision, I will say that by points total, Larry was victorious, 20 to 16. Lame? Maybe. But at the end of Rocky III, did anyone really think Mr. T could make a comeback? No, me neither. Now you'e probably going to counter with "At the end of game one, did anyone really think Larry would make a comeback?" Well to you, I say "Shut up, crybaby." I'm taking my ball, and going home.
If his time as the President of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards taught us anything, it's that Michael Jordan should stick to what he does best: playing basketball, drinking Gatorade, and reading from the cue cards supplied by his Nike-approved handlers. But despite his bumbling ineptitude at things like organizational leadership and public speaking, you'd think that Michael would at least be able to teach average joes how to play basketball...wouldn't you?

Well, you'd be wrong. Case in point: the following video, in which Mike "teaches" us how to shoot a fade away jumpshot. While providing crucial (though ungrammatical) information -- like there's no difference between shooting left or right ("Everything are basically the same") -- Jordan misses three out of four shots, including one that pops out about 20 feet from the basket before Michael manages to run it down. Somehow, watching the so-called "greatest player ever" brick jumpers in an instructional video doesn't exactly instill me with confidence in his teaching abilities. No wonder Rip Hamilton got so much better after Michael traded him to Detroit.

Shawn Kemp (the Tyrone Biggums of the NBA) was again arrested for drug possession during a routine traffic stop. Kemp later denied the charges, saying the dimebag found in his truck was "old" and "he didn't know it was there". The officer noted both a burning smell and "the munchies" on Kemp's person. Let's hope this doesn't slowdown his comeback.

Yao Ming is boycotting shark fin soup, claiming over 100 species of sharks are now endangered due to Chinese shark farming. Apparantly no one is concerned with the damage Panda Express is doing to the world's panda population.

Kenny Anderson, still unaware that his career ended in 2003, has been playing for Sarunas Marciulionis's basketball league in Lithuania since January. Apparently to avoid all those creepy little kids that insist on calling him "daddy".

The NBA continues to tinker with the playoff format. If it ain't broke, break it, then fix it.

The Pistons' Dale Davis was charged with assault and disorderly conduct at a Miami Beach hotel. Davis accused the officers of racial profiling. They agreed with him and shot him with a taser. Detroit still can't win in Miami.

The NBA is still paying the owners of the old 'Spirits of St Louis' ABA team! This will probably be known as the second worst contract in NBA history.
Our good buddy Reef sent a private response to the Chronological Snobbery article we posted earlier this week. Although he admits that it's impossible to make a definitive cross-generational argument, Reef still thinks the overall quality of basketball is significantly better now, and that "the stars of today would embarrass the stars of old."

We don't normally make friends with crazy people. But since the signs of his burgeoning insanity didn't appear until after he paid us off befriended us, we're kind of stuck. So instead of just mocking him with a penis joke, we'll answer each of his arguments for the Present versus the Past.
Wilt averaged 50 points per game over an entire season, had the 100 point game, as a score-first center, lead the league in assists per game, and one time had a double triple double (20+ pts, rebounds, and assists in a game). None of those stats seem remotely realistic in today's league.
Well, no, you probably won't see numbers like that ever again. But that's mostly because the game itself was played vastly differently during Wilt's era. Most teams played an up-tempo, run-and-gun style that would make even the current-day Phoenix Suns feel a little ashamed of themselves. That's why many of the statistics of that era are somewhat skewed...higher scores, more rebounds, lower shooting percentages. The typical NBA game was characterized by relentless waves of fast breaks punctuated by guys shooting as soon as the ball was passed to them.

Eventually, the game slowed down (relatively speaking), and the statistics settled into the levels we now deem "normal." Of course, they sunk to a putrid low in the late 90s early 2000s, which is why David Stern and the Rules Committee have been tweaking the rules to boost scoring. And you see what's happened? Teams (especially the Phoenix Suns) scoring more points, individual players (especially Kobe) having their best scoring seasons.
Chamberlain was clearly more statistically dominant individually than anyone who's played since I was born (and I've heard people say that Russell was supposed to be even more dominant but they didn't keep his stats properly or something like that, 10 blocks per game is the made up stat I've heard thrown around)...
Russell, for the record, was dominant only on the defensive end. He averaged a mere 15 PPG for his career, and most of those came off of fast breaks and put backs. But did he really average 10 blocks per game, or close to it? I tend to think so, at least for a handful of seasons. Remember, Bill Russell was the pioneer of NBA defense. He was the first player to turn the blocked shot into a weapon. And it isn't that other players weren't able to go up and block shots before he came along. Most coaches of that era instructed their players to never leave their feet when an opponent shot the ball. Jumping up after a shot was considered a defensive mistake. Credit Russell for ignoring his college coach and going after balls anyway. He was a revolutionary.

While Russel was obviously a terrific athlete, and he clearly had an uncanny sense of timing, it's probable that many of his blocks came from the simple fact that NBA players of that era were simply unused to playing against that kind of defense. Eventually, coaches and players would develop strategies to denude shot blockers of their effectiveness (such as the movement away from the two-handed set shot in favor of the jump shot). So it's doubtful Russell would be able to do that today. But he'd still be wickedly effective, probably similar to Ben Wallace.

...but I've always wondered what would happen if you threw Garnett back there in his place? What about Iverson instead of Cousey? How bout Lebron? I mean, people think that today's players are bigger, faster, stronger for a good reason, did I mention Lebron yet? Watching the old classic games it doesn't seem like anyone back then would have had a chance covering the athletic monsters of today, Garnett, Amare, Wade, etc, ect...
Don't forget that there were some incredible athletes back then, too. Russell, who is Garnett's size, had a phenomenal vertical leap. As did Oscar Robertson. Wilt had a standing high jump of over 40 inches and could dunk from the freethrow line. Name one NBA center, or even a forward, in today's game who could do that. There you go...there isn't one.

As for Iverson, well, frankly, I'm not sure how effective he would have been in the 60s. They called the game tight back then, and referees were particularly hard on travelling and palming the ball. And, as we know, Iverson makes a living off of those moves (and the refs conveniently turn a blind eye). Another thing to consider is that the game was a lot rougher back then. Players were viscious, and most teams employed at least a few thugs who would go in a rough up opposing players. In his rookie season, Wilt got several of his teeth knocked in and the resulting infection almost killed him! And he was the biggest, strongest guy in the league. Imagine what would have happend to a guy like Iverson? He would have been killed. And I mean that literally.

But when you really think about it, you're taking today's greatest players and saying that no one would be able to stop then in the 60s. Well, uhm, one can stop them now. So I'm not sure what that proves. Great players would most likely be great at any time, regardless of the era. A better question would be this: how would the role-players do? Since the basic premise of your argument is that all players today are better than the players of yesterday, tell me this: would Manu Ginobli be better than Larry Bird? Would Joe Johnson school Magic?
Kobe's 81 is much fresher in our memories than Wilt's 100, which isn't in any of our memories, but Kobe took 46 shots (many from outside) while Wilt averaged 40 shots a game over a whole season.
Comparing the number of shots Kobe attempted in one game versus what Wilt averaged during his 50-points-per-game season isn't really fair. Instead, let's look at their shots per game for similar scoring seasons. Last year, Kobe took 2,173 shots on his way to averaging 35.4 PPG. That averages out to 27 SPG. In 1963-64, Wilt averaged 36.9 PPG. It took him 2298 shot to do it, which is roughly 28 SPG. So, statistically speaking, it took them roughly the same number of shots to achieve a similar scoring average (of course, Wilt shot better from the field, while Kobe shot better from the line and got extra points from three-pointers). All this really says is: to score a lot of points, you have to take a lot of shots. But I will say this: Wilt's 100 -point game was less of an anomoly than Kobe's 81-point game; after all, Wilt had four other games where he scored more than 70 points.

And regardless of whatever comparisons can be made between the two performances, Kobe did what he did against modern defense, granted it was the Raptors, but still, and Wilt did what he did as a 7-footer when the average height of a center in the league was 6'6" of so.
Modern defense?? Look, it's no coincidence that Kobe had his 81-point game and highest scoring average in the very same season that the NBA adopted rules that were specifically designed to benefit perimeter players. The top ten scorers in the league were: Kobe, Allen Iverson, Lebron James, Gilbert Arenas, Dwayne Wade, Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Michael Redd, and Ray Allen. You'll notice that list it made up almost entirely of big guards and small forwards who can shoot and penetrate. Even the lone "big man" -- Nowitzki -- plays more like a shooting guard. Once the league adopted a "hands off" defensive policy, these guys all had career scoring years.

As for centers in the 60s...I went over to
databaseBasketball and checked the height of every NBA center who played during the 1961-62 season (when Wilt averaged his legendary 50 PPG). There wasn't a single center under 6'8". Furthermore, the majority of centers were either 6'9" or 6'10", and there were a handful of guys who were 6'11", and even a couple 7-footers. The New York Knicks had two 6'10" centers: Phil Jordan and Darrall Imhoff. Why is that significant? Because Wilt scored his 100 points against the Knicks. So rather than enjoying a 6-inch height advantage, he "towered" a mere two inches over his defenders. And I think we can all agree that two inches isn't enough of a descrepancy to discount a 100-point explosion.

Besides which, have you ever watched any Wilt games? I have. And while we don't have the 100 point game on film, I've seen enough footage on ESPN Classic to know that Wilt was never, ever, ever played straight up. He always had two or three men on him at all times. The league really didn't enforce illegal defense back then, so opposing guards and forwards sagged waaaaay off them men to keep Wilt covered. And despite the fact that Wilt had to slog through a slew of defenders to even touch the ball, well, that makes his accomplishment pretty damn impressive.

Wilt defense
Wilt drew a crowd every time he touched the ball.

You'll notice there are not one, but two players in that picture pretty close to Wilt's height. The whole "all centers in the 60s where short" is an urban legend.

Athleticism may be worthless without skill and heart, but skill is just as meaningless without athleticism. Bird and Magic accomplished what they did because of a) incredible talent b) great teams around them c) other innate characteristics like heart, desire, and leadership.
One of the most consistent arguments against Bird and Magic is that they were on great teams, and that made them look better. And it's a point. But look at it realistically. Kareem was already past his prime before Magic even joined the Lakers. Bird took a 29 win team and turned it into a 61 win team before Parish and McHale arrived on the scene. And it's not like McHale was an immediate All-Star. When the Celtics won the title in 1981, McHale played 20 minutes a game and averaged 10 points and 4 rebounds during the regular season, and those numbers fell to 10 minutes, 8 points, and 3 rebounds during the playoffs (and, in truth, McHale didn't really peak until 1985). That team mostly relied on guys like M.L. Carr, Cedric Maxwell, Chris Ford, and Rick Robey. Not exactly Hall of Fame talent. Yet if you go back and watch Game 7 of the 1981 Eastern Conference Finals against the 76ers (with uber-athletic Dr. J, Caldwell Jones, Bobby Jones, and Darryl Dawkins), all of those players got more minutes than McHale (who was a rookie) and Parish (who was in foul trouble).

And Magic? He kept the Lakers on top even when their youth and athleticism started to fade. In 1989, when Kareem was an empty husk of his former self, the Lakers still won 57 games and swept the first three rounds of the playoffs...before getting swept by the Pistons in the Finals (and this happened only after Magic and James Worthy both pulled hamstrings in Game 1). Kareem retired in 1990 and was replaced by Vlade Divac, and the Lakers went on to win 63 games (although they didn't make it to the finals). The Lakers made it back to the Finals in 1991 by defeating a more talented Portland Trailblazer team in the Western Conference Finals. You should go back and watch that series. Magic made guys like Sam Perkins, A.C. Green and even Terry Teagle look really good. And even though the Bulls beat them 4-1 in the Finals, all but one game was close, and the Lakers had lost James Worthy to an ankle injury.

I could give you more examples, and I will if you want, but Bird and Magic made those teams. Yes, they had talent around them, but so did other teams. Those guys were all-timers, not just then, but in any era.
Although both are decent size, neither one seems to have the overall speed, hops, and athleticism of today's stars.
No, they don't. But then, they didn't have the overall speed, hops, and athleticism of yesterday's stars either. I mean, let's look at some of your examples. You named Iverson. Well, he's not particularly athletic (he rarely dunks). He has phenomenal speed, yes. But is he any faster than, say, Isiah Thomas was in the 80s? Absolutely not. Kevin Garnett is a monster, sure, but is he any more athletic than, say, Hakeem Olajuwon (then "Akeem") was? No way. And Hakeem had thirty pounds of muscle on the twig-like Garnett. And let me ask you this, would you take Iverson in his prime over Isiah in his prime? Or Garnett over Hakeem?

And let's look at some of the other stars from the Bird/Magic era: Dr. J, James Worthy, Dominque Wilkins, Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, and Dennis Rodman. Not to mention guys like Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing, who began their careers in the mid-80s. Bird and Magic didn't only play against these guys, they dominated them. And, frankly, I just don't believe that today's players are that much faster and stronger than the guys I just mentioned.
Whether it be due to more advanced conditioning techniques, steroids, or wider talent pool due to population increase and international popularity. I don't think that either Magic or Bird would be stars in the NBA today if you went back to '86 in a time machine and brought them back here as they were, replaced the booty shorts with the more masculine variety, and put them on a basketball court.
This is just wrong. And besides...I really don't think that today's players are that much more athletic than players from the 80s. Let's just look at the 2006 All-Star team. Allen Iverson is fast, but not that athletic. Is Vince Carter really any more athletic than, say, Dominique Wilkins? Compare Ben Wallace to Robert Parish. Or Chris Bosh to Moses Malone. Chauncy Billups, Gilbert Arenas, and Richard Hamilton...are these guys leaping over tall buildings in a single bound. What about Steve Nash? Tony Parker is quick, sure, but he's not springing over anybody. Tim Duncan is Mr. Fundamental, but is he a leaper? He really isn't physically imposing either. Yao Ming? Come on. Is Pau Gasol physicall superior to Tom Chambers? Michael Jordan was in All-Star in 1986. As was Patrick Ewing. Really compare the 2006 All-Star team to the 1986 All-Star team. I think you'll be surprised.
Stronger and faster don't always = better (that's why Luke Ridnour got the call up for team USA) but if you're not big and strong you get flattened (that's why I’m not in the NBA).
I've named guys on the 2006 All-Star team that aren't hulking bruisers. Ray Allen, Tracy McGrady, Paul Pierce, Allen Iverson, Chauncy Billups, Gilbert Arenas. They're all tough in their own rights, but big and strong?
To me Wilt seems like a mediocre, mechanical 7-footer in today's league at best, and every NBA team has 2 or 3 of those sitting at the end of their bench. I think one-on-one: Dwight would overpower him, Duncan would embarrass him with finesse, Dirk would run circles around him, and Shaq...well we can all picture that one. And think about it; Wilt was way, way, WAY, whoop-assly better than anyone else in the league at that time, whereas Duncan and Garnett are better than other big men but not nearly that much better.
That sound you just heard was poor Wilt rolling over in his grave. I have to ask this, and I'm being serious, have you ever watched Wilt play? He was hardly mechanical. He didn't bull his way to the hoop like Shaq does. He didn't shy away from contact the way Duncan does. Did you know that Shaq was an All-American cross country runner in high school? No way would Nowitzki run circles around him. And, frankly, today's Shaq can't overpower 6'9" Ben Wallace, and Erick Dampier outplayed Shaq through most of the 2006 NBA you really think he'd abuse Wilt?

Wilt was very conscious of his relative size versus his opponents. As his career progressed, he became a weight lifter and got progressively bigger and stronger. To avoid criticism, he tried to avoid dunking and making power moves to the basket, instead taking mostly fade-aways, bank shots (ala Tim Duncan), and finger rolls, just to prove his game was about finesse rather than brute force. He was also an extremely gifted passer. And his athletic prowess simply cannot be understated. He was tall, he was strong, he could jump through the roof, and he could sprint. But few people know this. They just makes assumption about his game without having watched him play, or researching what he could actually do.
There's the argument that back-in-the day players were discouraged from showboating and therefore only seemed less athletic, but when you watch the classic games the dribbling seems much less smooth, the passing less crisp, and the shooting form less developed. I can't imagine the old point guards even getting to half-court against today's defence the way they used to dribble. These things can't just be explained by tolerance for show boating or psychological tendency towards recency or whatever. The fundamentals back then just look way worse.
I don't think it matters all that much what a player does -- be it shooting or dribbling -- as long as it's effective. Look at guys like Jamaal Wilkes and Bob McAdoo. They had the ugliest jump shots ever, but they both scored a lot of points while shooting well over 50 percent. They didn't care what their shots looked like as long as they went in. Players today, they're obviously concerned with looking cool. But there are very few big men who have the touch that Wilkes and McAdoo did. As for today's defense, well, guys aren't allowed to bump and handcheck anymore, so I doubt it would be much of a problem. And also, frankly, as someone who has guys like Cousy, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, et al. on tape, I can tell you that those guys were smooth.

I don't think that believing today's ballers would make the ballers of yesterday their biatches is a mutually exclusive notion to having an appreciation for the history of basketball, yet for some reason the debater that takes the side of the modern athlete always seems like he's the douchy guy with no appreciation for the classics, or the less refined basketball enthusiast, or something.
I don't think you're a douche. I do, however, think you're overstating the athletic prowess of today's stars without much actual knowledge of the relative athleticism of yesterday's stars. I mean, Lebron, Garnett, and Shaq aside, how many of today's players are so ridiculously athletic that they're leaps and bounds over the guys I've mentioned? I was fortunate to grow up watching basketball in the 80s, and I have over a hundred DVDs filled with games (thanks ESPN Classic) featuring guys like Bird, Magic, Dr. J, Kareem, Wilt, Dominique, Clyde, and countless others. Being able to juxtapose these players directly helps me say, with a fair level of certainty, that the gulf separating the physical abilities of the generations is not nearly as wide as people assume. Hence the post about Chronological Snobbery.

They only point I will concede is the one point you didn't make. And this is this: players are more diversified today. It used to be, big men simply weren't allowed to handle the ball, or shoot from outside for that matter. Guards were supposed to initiate the offense, not dominate it. Each position developed specific skill sets, and rarely was there any crossover. In the 60s, no one would have conceived of a 7-footer handling the ball or shooting from 25 feet. Could they have learned to do it? I'm sure. But they didn't because they weren't supposed to. It really wasn't until the 80s -- when Bird showed that a big man could shoot the ball and Magic proved that a big man could run the point -- when coaches and GMs really began to understand that a player's skills didn't have to be defined by his position.

So today's players develop more all-around skill sets than did yesterday's players. Not because they're faster, or stronger, or more talented...but because the game has evolved.
Some mad scientist created an automated story generator that churns out psuedo-Bill Simmons stories. Just answer all the prompts -- and, unfortunately, there are a lot of them, most of which involve (gak) baseball -- and then PRESTO!! You're very own Sports Guy-style article.

The end product is a little choppy in places, but still pretty funny. Here's mine:

The Sports Guy Goes to an Auction

So I'm sitting there the other day watching ESPN2 and I see that Derek Jeter had a great game. There is nobody, with the possible exception of Grady Little, that I dislike more than Derek Jeter. In the pantheon of people that 'Make the Sports Guy Vomit Up His Intestines,' these two are the founding members.

The phone rings. It's my friend Bish. Enraged! Bish is always willing to discuss our mutual distaste for Derek Jeter. Don't get me wrong--we respect his abilities. But he's the Chandler Bing of sports. Totally annoying, yet on TV all the time. Bish mentions that it would be nice if Derek Jeter caught a case of Chicken Pox at the beginning of September, paving the way for the Red Sox to the playoffs like Brandon Jones on Human Growth Hormone.

Bish points out that the chances that Derek Jeter will come down with Chicken Pox in September are minimal, but that if we expanded the possibilities, there would be a greater chance for debilitating success. As usual, Bish is a crazy genius.

Here is what we came up with:

4. Derek Jeter receives a vicious Mongolian chop from Big Papi in front of 40,000 fans jammed into Fenway Park.

(On a side note, has there ever been a greater moment in sports than when when Hulk Hogan body-slammed Andre the Giant? I don't even care if it was fake, that was outstanding. That rivals when when Shane Falco led the Washington Sentinels to the playoffs with a bunch of replacement players for 'Most Inspiration Non-Real Sports Moment of the Last 25 Years.')

3. Derek Jeter is informed by his wife that their child was not fathered by him but rather by either Jorge Sosa or Kevin McHale.

2. Derek Jeter hangs scrapbook-style clippings of Brandon Walsh and Mr. Miyagi in his locker and is immediately put on the DL.

1. Derek Jeter meets Ibis from Road Rules, falls in love, and leaves team to begin filming 'My Fair Yankee.'

After we finish with the conversation about Derek Jeter we turn ourselves to the real topic of conversation, the upcoming draft of the Michele Tafoya is Sexy Memorial Baseball Association, a new fantasy league that Bish and I will be joining this year.

Ordinarily, I'm never an advocate of partnering up to own a fantasy baseball team. That's like getting picked up by Eva Longoria and going back to her place, only to find out that Evander Holyfield is already there. If the best you get is to share, sometimes it's not worth it at all, right?
However, this league only had one slot open, so Bish and I agreed to partner up, in the hope that one of us could switch over and manage the next vacancy. After much debate, and eliminating the excellent possibilities of 'Naked Scrabble with doilies' and 'Shawn Kemp's Shiny Slot machiness as potential team names, we settle on 'the Boston Ball Blasters.'

The thing that's exciting about this league is that it's an auction format league, which is totally different than a draft league. I mean, it seems as though it would be the same as a draft league, but it's not. It's like the difference between NHL 93 and NHL 94-you take out fighting and add one-timers, you've got a whole different game, even if they are both hockey. Any good sports fan knows that undefined but not everyone knows how to do an auction.

Pre-Auction preparation is important. First, it is important to choose a date when the auction will take place. This is easy. Choose the date when the whipped guy does not have to watch a chick flick, and that's your date. Finding the whipped-guy-can-make-it date is crucial for auction success. (speaking of which, what is with all these girlfriends who think that 'fantasy draft' is code for 'I'm going to have my buddies over to watch Blue Oyster Cult perform songs by Gheorghe Muresan while I the do the Dirty Sanchez? Though that would be cool.)

Next, and more difficult, is the auction location selection. Many times people will choose to have their auction in a strip clubs. This is a bad idea. Nothing good can come of this; at the end of the day every person in the room is going to be BOO-YAH and have an extremely sore undefined after four hours.

No, the auction must be held in someone's house-biggest furnished basement wins. The coolness of the wife/significant other can be a deciding factor if two people have similar options-say, if owner A has a Mega Man IV arcade game, but owner B has a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Nothing will kill a fun evening faster than the host's wife emasculating him with a '"You can sleep out in the lawn tonight, smartass.".' We have selected next Tuesday night, at 8 pm, at a guy's house where his wife will be in picking out drapes, and therefore unable to disrupt the festivities.

I will not be sharing with you my player ratings for this coming season-after all, Miami John Cernuto doesn't play poker with the hand face up-but I will give you some insight into my auction strategy. The thing is, an auction has so much more of an influence on your season than a draft does. In an auction, every player in the league is at your disposal. Everyone starts out equal. It's the Anarcho-capitalism of fantasy sports.

It's also like a running an Ultramarathon. It requires endurance, it requires stamina, it requires concentration and planning. Without further ado, here is my 'Sports Guy Auction Strategy Guide':

Round One-he coulda been a contender

Once the auction starts, timing and strategy are much more important than they are in a traditional draft. The first hour or so of the auction has to be spent feeling out your opponents. Are they particularly loyal to the Minnesota Twins? Do they have a tendency toward constant throat clearing? You are looking for weaknesses that you can exploit later on. Store these like old family photos.

Here is a good place to test people by chucking out a few names of guys you-d never want on your team-aging, oft-injured players, like Victor Zambrano, or over-hyped rookies that will never pan out like Miguel Cabrera.

Everyone is going to get some good players at this point, so make sure you don-t overpay and find yourself begging for money like Turtle Drama asking for Vinny Chase's AMEX Black.

Round Two-Have a Sense of Anthropology

In round two, there will be one moment that defines your draft. Things will be going along smoothly, and all of a sudden you'll get involved in a bidding war on a player. It's not unlike a big pot in a no-limit hold-em tournament-you'll have your Professor Moriarty-Sherlock Holmes in The Valley of Fear moment, and you need to decide what to do.

Oftentimes, this will come down to a single dollar, here or there-if you bid $100 for Steve Howe, you know you'll get him, but you're facing a bid with the clock ticking. Are you going to be a hero, carried off the field like Bill Mazeroski? Or are you Mike Martz, skulking off the field into the jeering history of your team's fans, with only your family still willing to speak with you. Now is your moment. Set the tone.

Round Three-Moving Day

Hour three of the draft is moving day, like the third day of the British Open. You need to shoot a 39. This is where you'll fill out a lot of the players that, while less sensual, make up the core of your team. Do not discount the importance of moving day. If you wait until the next phase to build the core of your team, you'll find yourself as lonely as Paris Hilton in a CHASTE (Churches Against Sex Trafficking in Europe) service.

Moving day is the time to make things happen for your team. This is where you are going to define the season that you have. If you end up moving day by taking an accurate mix of future stars, injury-risk players, and Dustin Pedroia, you'll be okay.

Round Four-The Game of Trivial Pursuit

By the end of the fantasy auction, the endeavor has become boundless. The only thing it can be compared to is a game of Trivial Pursuit, played among friends. Something that, at the beginning of the endeavor, seemed like such fun, but by the end of it, is just a group of people banging their heads against the wall, adamantly trying to finish what they started, the joy of competing against your friends replaced with a desire to prove that you are the Earl of Sandwich of All Trivia and that is that.

In this phase of the auction, you must be careful. This is the 'As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster' moment of the draft. People will be exploding like a volcano, screaming incomprehensible things like Mush Mouth from Fat Albert and threatening to pulls their hair out while kicking the dog if they do not get their way.

Just bite your lip, set your jaw, and try and endure. It's a long season coming forward.
'After fighting, every thing else in your life got the volume turned down; you could deal with anything'