Will the NBA training camps just start already?! These fluff pieces are seriously killing my mojo. Lebron's photo shootery, Michael Jordan's Ryder Cup watchery, Kobe's non-prediction...ery. Being a basketball fan now is just plain boring. I imagine this is a lot like being a competitive chess fan, but without the hot chicks (see below).

The latest crap to be pooped out of the media's collective backside is an article from the
Whittier Daily News titled Jackson a positive influence on Brown. It's basically a story about how Phil Jackson bravely stood by Kwame Brown last year, despite the fact that Brown sucked failed to live up to expectations.
"No matter how low Kwame Brown got last season, Lakers coach Phil Jackson refused to introduce any more negativity into Brown's basketball mindset. When Brown was struggling with the triangle offense - struggling sometimes just to catch the ball in the post - Jackson tried to break down the game to its basics. All he asked of Brown was to run the floor, rebound and play defense."
They left out how once, when it was raining, Phil drew Kwame a little picture of a sunny day, where the sun was actually a big smiley face, and there were two little stick figures holding hands. And then they went to the mall, and Phil bought Kwame a kitten, and the Zen Master named him "Little Stoney Paws Can't Catch A Goddamn Ball," which I know sounds like a funny name, but it was just a motivational ploy to make Kwame a better basketball player.

See, this is the problem with grand statements. Jackson "refused to introduce any more negativity into Brown's mindset"? See that's funny, because I seem to remember Phil questioning Kwame's toughness and dedication. But he didn't say something like, "I question Kwame's toughness and dedication." Instead, he
called Kwame a pussy after a hamstring injury sidelined the big fella for three weeks. When it got out, Jackson denied it of course, saying that he didn't use the "p" word, saying that "The thing I do is that I meow when I go by him." Which is a decidedly not positive thing to say when you're such a positive coach talking to a guy who's ego was repeatedly crushed into oblivion by Michael Jordan a few years ago.

Of course, all this was lost in the hustle and bustle of last season's real NBA news, which most typically involves the title contenders. So now, Mr. Ross Siler of the Whittier News gets to talk about how positive and nurturing Jackson is, and how Phil is "Mr. No Negativity Here." But that isn't the case. People love to say that Jackson is a "master motivator," but in truth he's a master manipulator. He dispenses support and encouragement when it suits his purposes, and he also uses sarcasm and mockery when he wants to light a fire under one of his players. Does anyone remember how he alienated Horace Grant in Chicago? Or how he sometimes enraged the otherwise docile Scottie Pippen? Life with Phil isn't all sunshine and puppy dogs. I'm not saying that it doesn't work. I'm not even saying it's wrong. But portraying him as a surrogate father figure who's cuddling and loving Kwame to greater heights is patently ridiculous.

Photo-tastic Extra: Here's my favorite picture of Phil Jackson. There are two big reasons why I love it. Can you guess why? Okay it's because 1) the Lakers are losing, and 2) because you can see Jackson's hair is thinning (hair loss just amuses me). What, you thought it was the tits? Pervert.

Phil tits
One of these things is not like the others,
one of these things just doesn't belong...

Competitive Chess Hotties: Okay, that line is a little misleading, because as far as I know there's only one competitive chess hottie in the world, and that's Grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk. Just as Tiger Woods is known as "The Michael Jordan of Golf," Kosteniuk is known as "The Anna Kournikova of Chess." Only unlike Kournikova, Alexandra is actually good at what she does. At least, I assume you have to be good at chess to get the title "Grandmaster." But what do I know? Maybe she just traded an old Russian warhead for the title. Her existence is yet another reminder that if you're a relatively attractive women who does anything remotely sports-related, you've got it made for life. Cough(DanicaPatrick), cough(NatalieGulbis), cough (MariaSharapova).

Sexy chess
"Hello dahlink. Vould you like to take my pawn en passant?"
Kobe Bryant, for all his competitive fury, is not bold (re: stupid) enough to predict an impending for the Los Angeles Lakers. But Dwight Howard -- who was once quoted as saying "Aw man, don't do it to me...NO, AW MAN...AAAHHHHHHHHH!!" -- believes his Orlando Magic are right there. Aw man!!
"I think our team has the chance to go all the way. We got all the tools. I think this year we can go all the way."
Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat? No, really. What?!
"All the way to the championship."
Did I miss something? Did David Stern move the Magic to the NBA Developmental League? Maybe Dwight stopped by Amsterdam on his way back from the FIBA World Championships. I don't know. But even without looking, I'm pretty sure no team has gone from 36-46 to an NBA title, especially without adding a Shaq or Wilt or something. Good luck with that, Dwight. I only hope the Earth doesn't explode off its axis due to the gravitational displacement caused by your rapidly expanding cajones.
The Brocktown News ("a local news leader") recently ran an article titled Kobe ready for another run to NBA title. Reading that headline gave me an uneasy feeling, like maybe I'd been transported to some kind of parallel universe where the Nazis won and replaced everything in the world with pure evil. I mean, ready for another run to the title? I know Kobe's a confident guy and everything, but does he really think adding Vladimir Radmanowhatever is going to propel the "embarrassingly dumped in the first round after choking up a 3-1 series lead" Lakers to the NBA Finals? He couldn't be thinking that...could he?

Turns out he isn't.

The article doesn't mention anything about Kobe's title aspirations. In fact, it doesn't mention the NBA title at all. It just describes Kobe's recovery from knee surgery, his summer vacation in Asia, and the "misunderstanding" regarding his statements about the U.S. basketball team's chemistry. In the middle of all that la mierda del toro, the article gracelessly transitions into Kobe's feelings about New Orleans' recovery from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, which itself lead into the following stand-alone paragraph:
"Member of the New Orleans Saints are expected to participate along with the New Orleans Hornets and the New Orleans Zephyrs, a Triple-A baseball team."
That's it. There was no introduction to or explanation of that paragraph. It was just sitting there, awkward and alone, like the Baroness during an argument between Destro and Cobra Commander. Unrelated headlines, nonexistent transitions, mysterious non-paragraphs...these things make me question the journalistic standards of the Brocktown News.

It's really a wasted opportunity, when you think about it. If you're going to mention Kobe in a headline that has nothing to do with your story, why not spice things up a little? Like maybe "Kobe ready to fight off mutant housepet invasion," or "Kobe ready to have Elvis' brain transplanted into his own buttocks," or "Kobe ready to seize Castle Greyskull and evict the sorceress." Or something like that.

Joy-tastic Photo Accompaniment: Here's my favorite picture of Kobe writhing around in pain. It always brings a little extra happy to my day.

Kobe pain
Why does Kobe's pain bring me such joy? Why? Why?!

Brocktown News Breaks the News: The following headlines are listed under the Brocktown News "Breaking News" category:
"Long-time area business set to close next week"

"Loans available for drought-stricken farmers"

"Penitentiary guards rally for new contract"

"Wood furnace fire turns deadly"
All I can say is that Brocktown must be a pretty exciting place*.

* For me to poop on.
Remember those bribe allegations made against The Mailman? They've been dropped.
An Idaho judge has ruled that allegations against former Utah Jazz basketball player Karl Malone of bribery, perjury, racketeering and unjust enrichment be dismissed from court. Former business partner Sid Davis filed the allegations of misconduct against Malone in August for allegedly offering a $25,000 bribe to take the blame for an illegal elk hunting trip. One cause of action filed against Malone Properties, which Karl Malone serves as president, claiming breach of contract, remains in effect, according to the ruling by 6th District Judge Randy Smith.

"Malone...once again den[ies] any liability on any of the stated claims," wrote Malone's attorneys Katie Fontenot and J. Randall Call. "We expect that the remaining causes of action against Malone...will also be dismissed in the future."
I always get a little misty-eyed when true justice is served, especially when it's served in the form of a Karl Malone-sized elbow to some vital organ. And now that all this legal mumbo jumbo* is out of the way, Karl can get back to doing what he does best...working out his hulking physique. You go, Karl.

* The term "mumbo jumbo" is African (dialect unknown) for "an idol or god believed to protect the people from evil and terrorize the women into subjection." Seriously.

Malone workout
"Karl Malone thinks Karl Malone is one sexy
bitch. That's what Karl Malone thinks."
In another journalistic "non-news" coup, we now know Michael Jordan loves watching the Ryder Cup. We also know that "after attending his first Ryder Cup in Spain in 1997, he vowed never to miss another one." And since Michael Jordan is a man who takes his vows seriously -- except when it comes to retiring and un-retiring and retiring again -- you'd better believe he was in attendence this year.

"I absolutely love the Ryder Cup" Jordan said. "I love that it's not about the money. It's about the team. There's tension on every putt, every shot."
And there you have it: a man who demanded $30 million in salary for each of his last two seasons (this being before the salary explosion of the late 1990s and early 2000s) and who (according to The Jordan Rules, among other sources) only consented to use the Triangle Offense if it still allowed him to win the league scoring title is now humping the leg of an event that's about team and not money. Who is he and what's he done with the real Jordan? Here's a gratuitous shot of Jordan dramatically watching the Cup:

Jordan cup
"This isn't about the money. It's about the team. It's
about golf in its purest form. Oh, and photo ops."

Heir Apparent: It should be noted that His Airness was rooting for his bosom buddy Tiger Woods. Of course, I'm sure their friendship has nothing to do with the facts that Woods is the best golfer in the world and an African American icon who's often referred to as "The Michael Jordan of Golf." Said Jordan:
"He tries real hard. He wants to be a great leader. He wants to play well. People want to make excuses for him not playing well, but he never makes excuses. He values this competition. It doesn't take much to get him going. He was off to a slow start, but that doesn't stop him. It's hard to break his spirit. He's been there many times.''
Reading between the lines, Jordan is actually saying: "He's so totally like me, and I really admire the me in other people." The ironic thing is, the best of the "next Jordans" wasn't Harold Miner, or Grant Hill, or Kobe, or Lebron...it was a guy who doesn't even play basketball. Who would've figured? David Stern must be pissed.

Magic Jordan: Supposedly, the Irish fans had "little trouble recognizing" Jordan, but that didn't stop a local radio announcer from proclaiming, "There's Woods' friend, Magic Johnson." According to the article, the announcer was "quickly corrected." Probably via a menacing stare (and probably physical violence) from Charles Oakley.

Out of context Jordan Quote of the Day: "It was blowing so hard, my 85 felt like a 75."
According to the official site of Baruch College Athletics, Lebron James visited their ARC facility for a photo shoot. The photo shoot had nothing to do with the college, though; it was, in fact, a shoot for Play Magazine that was arranged exclusively by the New York Times. But that didn't stop everybody on campus from going apeshit, as all 48 students "flocked to the ARC to try to catch a glimpse of the star wearing his Cleveland Cavaliers uniform for the cameras." Those silly Baruch College kids...don't they know he only wears his Cavs uniform during games? The rest of the time he's clad in the purest white samite, and bedecked in gold-encrusted jewels of many hues and sizes.

The site refers to James as "one of the top basketball players in the world and a popular member of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers," which is kind of like calling Optimus Prime a popular member of the mighty Autobots. The site also states that the photo shoot "was a well-guarded private event that featured a staff of photographers, security, and personal assistants working to make sure James was prepared and comfortable." I can only assume that means there were a dozen naked models fanning Lebron with giant feathers, while Halle Barry slowly and seductively peeled his grapes before dispensing them into his mouth from the depths of her glistening, heaving bosom.

After the shoot, James made himself available to students for pictures and autographs, which included this gratuitous picture of James and "Baruch student athlete" Dominique McClendon.

Lebron James
McClendon: "Oh my gawd. You're, like, so Lebron James."
James: "Quiet girl. Bron-Bron be smiling for the camera."

James' campus visit had the unfortunate effect of completely overshadowing a vist from the President of the Dominican Republic Leonel Fernandez, who was there to give a speech. This proved once again that guiding the destiny of an entire country -- however small and meaningless -- pales in comparison to men in short-pants putting leather-bound balls into little hoops. When no one showed up to listen to Mr. Fernandez speak, he unleashed a mighty Dominican voodoo curse, after which the very earth opened up and swallowed the school whole, belching fire and brimstone up into the heavens, much to the amusement of Fernandez's savage gods.

Fun-tastic ARC Fact: Three years ago, pop star Justin Timberlake filmed several commercials in the ARC gym to promote the ABC-TV broadcast of NBA league games. Do you remember those awesome commercials? Yeah, me neither.
How many of the nine United States Supreme Court justices can you name? How many of the nine-man rotation for your favorite NBA team can you name? What does that say about you?

Supreme Court
Can you name the justices? Any of them? One of them? Did you
even know this is actually the Arkansas Supreme Court?
SLAMonline is doing a series of feature articles on the 50 best players in the NBA today, and today they announced that Stephon Marbury is the 39th best player in the league.

Personally, I think that's crazy. It's like naming
Frankenberry the 39th best cereal on the market. Yeah, I know Stephon can go off for 20 points and 10 assists on any given night, but he's also good for at least 50 losses a season. Hasn't anyone noticed that teams get demonstrably worse when "Starbury" arrives, or that they get remarkably better as soon as he leaves? Stats are meaningless without W's to go along with them, and Marbury has a long and storied history of losing.

What makes it even worse is that Stephon is listed above Mike Bibby, Josh Howard, and Antawn Jamison...three guys who give you numbers without the locker room cancer. And all the money they save on chemotherapy could go toward getting their wives boob jobs. Sweet!

Editor's Note: The author openly admits that he has a soft sport for Stephon, and that he picked him because Marbury is "family." That's all well and good, but sentiment doesn't count when you're making a list of the best basketball players in the world. Why not just pick Marko Jaric for his plucky spirit of determination, or Ha Seung-Jin because he's so darn cute...in that "Night of the Sideshow Freaks" kind of way?

Cereal Killers: Growing up, I always thought Frankenstein was the biggest badass of the old-time movie monsters. He was stronger than Dracula, more menacing than the Wolf Man, and didn't smell all tuna-fishy like the Creature From The Black Lagoon. But General Mills -- the makers of Frankenberry cereal -- did all they could to completely emasculate him. I mean, just lookit...


First, they colored him pink. Then they gave him dorky "glasses." His head is shaped like a butt crack. His fingernails are little fruits. He has chain-link suspenders. And he plays the goddamn violin. On top of all that, his cereal tastes like fruity marshmallow ass-leakage. Why lay waste to such a cool character? Did a horde of rampaging Frankensteins destroy the village they grew up in? Maybe a berserk Frankenstein threw up on their Jane Eyre book report, but the teacher wouldn't believe them and just assumed they hadn't read the book, because everybody knows how freaking boring it is, and anyway, do Frankensteins even throw up? Probably not...unless they had some Frankenberry cereal.
Shane Battier is now the official spokesperson for the Chinese sportswear company PEAK. This may surprise you, but Battier wasn't their first choice. Apparently, PEAK "considered other NBA stars like Dirk Nowitzki, Andrew Bogut, Tony Parker and Vasillis Spanoulis, before finally deciding to sign up Battier."

Now, Dirk Nowitzki and maybe even Tony Parker I could understand. But Bogut and what-his-name? I guess this kind of tells you how well PEAK understands the world of basketball (which explains their earlier-in-the-summer signing of shoe giant Damon Jones). I mean, I don't even know who this "Vassillis Spanoulis" plays for. In fact, it sounds more like a sexually transmitted disease than an actual name. I'd get my intern to do a fact check, but my "intern" is a pet turtle named Addy who can't actually do research, or type, and I'm not totally sure she's still alive. Anyway, it can't make Shane feel good to know he's getting Spanoulis' table scraps. But I'm sure the money will make him feel better.

By the way, Battier will be wearing PEAK "sneakers" in "every NBA game this season." So it'll be a two-man race between Battier and Stephon Marbury to determine who falls victim to the first "crappy athletic shoe"-related sports injury. My money's on Shane.

Battier: "Domo arigato, Mr. PEAK managing whatever guy."
PEAK President: "I'm not Japanese. And you're no Dirk Nowitzki."
Just because there's no meaningful NBA news going on right now doesn't mean we can't anticipate some of the painfully boring stories we're likely to have forced on us during the upcoming season. We've already discussed five of them. Here are five more:

6. Kevin Garnett: During his 11 NBA seasons, The Big Ticket has averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds per game, made the All-NBA 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Team six times, made the All-NBA Defensive 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Team six times, made eight All-Star Game appearances, and was named the league's regular season MVP in 2003 (thanks to Sam Cassell). Yet in all that time, the Minnesota Timberwolves have missed the playoffs three times (including the last two seasons) and been unceremoniously booted in the first round seven times. Garnett's only extended playoff run ended in the 2003 Western Conference Finals when Sam I Am came up lame and a flawed Lakers team overwhelmed the suddenly leaderless Wolves.

Garnett is a spectacular player, a fiery competitor, and (seemingly) an all-around nice guy. As such, he's garnered a lot of sentiment from the league's players, coaches, and sportswriters. Some people go so far as to say Garnett "deserves" a better team, and that the Timberwolves organization has "failed" him. Forget the fact that Garnett has gobbled up cap room by demanding back-to-back $100 million contracts, and that he's not really a team leader who inspires his teammates to greater heights.

But this isn't meant to be a critique on Garnett. It's simply an observation. And depending on how the dice roll, the possible KG stories depend on how the Timberwolves perform as a team. There are only two possibilities:

6a. They'll suck: This is the most likely scenario. Yes, I know they added Mike James and his gaudy 20 ppg/6 apg averages, but the fact remains that the Wolves are heavy in mediocre guards and weak on frontcourt help for Garnett. At best they'll compete for the 7th or 8th playoff spot and a probably first round playoff exit, at worst they'll miss the playoffs yet again. And, while the Hindenburg is going down in flames, we'll read story after story about how hard all this losing is on KG. Again.

6b. They won't suck: Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Kevin McHale will shock the world by dumping the dead weight contracts of players like Mark Blount, Marco Jaric, and Troy Hudson, then pull off some kind of blockbuster trade for, well, anybody worth having. Then if James, Ricky Davis, and rookie Randy Foye play out of their minds maybe -- just maybe -- the Wolves could crack the 5th or 6th playoff spot. But I honestly don't see this team getting out of the first round. So expect the first half of the season to bring us stories about the Wolves' resurgence, then about how sad it is to see Garnett go out in the first round. Again.

Postscript: Since the Timberwolves can't possible turn into a contender this year, much (more) will be made of Kevin McHale's incompetence as a GM and whether or not Garnett will be traded. In other words, the exact same stories we've been reading the last two years.

7. All-Star Picks: Fans and sportswriters get really worked up over the All-Star Game, which is funny considering how utterly meaningless it is. At least in baseball -- my least favorite sport, by the way -- the All-Star Game decides which conference gets home field advantage in the World Series. The NBA All-Star Game is little more than playground ball until the last couple minutes of the 4th quarter. It's not even entertaining to watch anymore. But there will still be numerous angry stories covering the following subjects:

7a. Those who made it but shouldn't have: Even if Shaq only plays five games by the All-Star break, you know he's going to get voted in as a starter. Same with Lebron, Kobe, and half a dozen other guys. Remember a few years ago when Vince Carter hardly played but was named a starter? Of course, David Stern forced Vince to give up his spot in honor of the Michael Jordan Third Retirement Tour. But that's the gimmick...fans get to vote their favorite players into the game, and those players get to start. Yet we'll still have to read people mumbling and grumbling about the inequity of it all, and I'm sure Stephen A. Smith will do some screaming ("ARE YOU TELLING ME A GUY WHO'S PLAYED ONLY FIVE GAMES THIS SEASON DESERVES TO BE A STARTER IN THE NBA ALL-STAR GAME?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!"). Oh, we'll probably hear again about how Yao Ming gets all the Chinese votes. Is it his fault he has a billion fellow countrymen and women who love him?

7b. Those who didn't make it but should have: Last year, a near-travesty was averted when Gilbert Arenas was a late addition to the All-Star Game, but it only happened because the Pacers' Jermaine O'Neal had to sit out due to injury. It was a ridiculous omission, considering that Arenas was among the league leaders in both scoring (28.2 ppg) and assists (5.9 apg). This lead, of course, to many stories about the injustice of the initial snub and the prevailing justice of his inclusion. That, however, was an exception. Most of the time there's no make-ups. People are unjustly left off the roster, there is a week or two of outrage, and then everybody forgets about it. Except the player, of course, who usually has a handful of big games before and/or after the All-Star game, which will cause everyone to remark how the player is proving why he should have been on the All-Star Team.

7c. Subs who should have started: Remember when, as a rookie, Yao Ming edged Shaq in fan balloting and was therefore named the starting center of the Western Conference All-Star team? There was righteous fury over that one. But again, it's a popularity contest, and people always forget that.

8. Officiating: Yes, it sucks. Yes, the officials make mistakes. Lots of them. And yes, they will continue to make mistakes. The coaches and players will make various and sundry subtle comments about it, and sometimes they will even make not-so-subtle comments (ahem, Stan Van Gundy). David Stern, on the other hand, will continue to back the refs unconditionally while assuring everyone that there is no problem, no problem at all, and PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN, I AM THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ!! So in closing, yes...Lebron will continue to travel, Iverson will continue to palm, and Wade will continue to draw
ticky-tac fouls. These things will never, ever change.

9. Playoff Positioning: By the time April rolls around, the only stories we'll be reading about are the ones regarding playoff positioning. There are two categories of these stories:

9a. The Homecourt Spots: In most cases, the top two spots will be more or less decided. But there probably will be a lot of jockeying for the third and fourth spots. Take last year's Eastern Conference Playoff race, for instance. The second, third, and fourth seeds finished within three games of each other.

9b. The Non-Homecourt Spots: Several teams will be making a furious push to get into the playoffs, with as many as six or seven teams vying for the final four spots. They'll all have a legitimate chance at success or failure. It's kind of like tossing your table scraps into a kennel and watching the dogs rip each other to shreds for some bread crust and a few chicken bones. But beyond just getting into the playoffs, it will become absolutely critical for these teams to avoid the top two seeds so they could maybe possibly hopefully pull off an upset and make it into the second round. Where they'll lose.

Postscript: Many, if not all of the thousands of Playoff Positioning stories will include hoards of pie charts and bar graphs and polyhexial matrixes that describe who might be playing who, how homecourt advantage is actually quite helpful, how most teams that win more games go on to win a series, blah, blah, blah. And like a werewolf transforming under the light of the full moon, these charts and graphs will be cut and pasted into new articles concerning the actual playoff matchups, wherein sportswriters will predict who will win and who will lose, and they'll be right maybe 60 percent of the time, and you'll discover that -- golly gee!! -- the "experts" don't really know any more than you do about who's going to come out on top.

10. The NBA Finals: 'Nuff said.
The guys over at Flumesday compiled a list of the Top 10 Dirtest Names in Sports. And since I still laugh whenever I see a midget or somebody farts, each and every one of these names amused me. I mean, come on...Dick Butkus, Johnny Dickshot, Dick Trickle...if you don't at least giggle at those names, then I'm sorry to inform you that you're legally dead.

Anyway, the Number 1 dirtiest name ever belongs to former NBA player
Chubby Cox:

"And the #1 Dirtiest Name in Sport is Chubby Cox. Born John Arthur Cox III, Chubby was a standout at the University of San Francisco in the '70s and was drafted by the Bulls in 1978. Cox only played in 7 NBA games, for the Philadelphia Kings in 1983. Chubby couldn't cut it on the professional level and spent his post-playing years teaching and coaching youths in the San Francisco area. But what matters most about him is that his name is Chubby Cox."
I hate to break it to the guys over at Flumesday, but Chubby played for the Washington Bullets, not the "Philadelphia Kings." Oh well. As they so rightly point out, the most important "fact" is that his name was Chubby Cox.

Chubby Cox
C'mon. Nobody saw this coming?

The Kobe Bryant Connection: According to Wikipedia, "through his sister Pam, Cox is the brother-in-law of former NBA player Joe Bryant; and the uncle of current Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant." That's right. Chubby Cox, the man with the dirtiest name in sports history, is the Kobe's uncle. And since all 5,000 jokes I could make about that are too easy, I'll move on.

Chubby's son, John Cox IV, grew up playing pickup ball against Kobe, and he
once noted that he's "more impressive in one-on-one games" than Bryant. Of course, he never actually beat Kobe (although he once lost by only 12-10), sucked in college (averaging 3.5 PPG for the University of San Francisco), and never made it to the NBA. But his dad's name is Chubby. He'll always have that.

Update: We received a comment from Chuck Miller, who runs
The CBA Museum. He was kind enough to clear up the confusion concerning Chubby's time with the Philadelphia Kings:

"Chubby Cox did indeed play for the Philadelphia Kings -- it was in his third season as a member of the Continental Basketball Association, where the Kings were a franchise in the 1980-81 season. Cox also played for the Wilkes-Barre Barons (1978-79) and the Pennsylvania Barons (1979-80). In three seasons in the CBA, the 6'3" guard from USF averaged 21.8 ppg and 3.8 rpg. He also played in the postseason for each those three seasons."
So the Flumesday people mixed up Chubby's time with the Kings and his actual 7-game career in the NBA, which was, in fact, with the Washington Bullets. Now that that's cleared up...have we mentioned his name was Chubby Cox?
Almost a year after the death of Jason Collier, and over 13 years after the death of Reggie Lewis, the NBA has finally adopted a new heart screening program:

"The NBA's screening process will now require a number of tests which exceed the American Heart Association 12-point program. They include a physical examination, blood work, an electrocardiogram, a resting echocardiogram and a stress echocardiogram. Players must also provide personal and family histories to screen for certain predispositions."
Way to be proactive, NBA. And your new program sounds great and all, but I'm not too thrilled with the fine print:

"The new rules do not require a player to be banned based upon test results, but tests will be administered annually and no player can take part in training camp before the tests are taken."
So basically the NBA "requires" more heart testing, but it won't necessarily do anything with the results. If I were a cynical person -- and I am -- I'd say this feels like your basic public relations maneuver. It also provides the league with a nifty means of avoiding any liability if and when a player keels over on the court.

Wouldn't it make more sense if the NBA specifically stated that players with a potentially lethal heart condition would be prohibited from playing basketball? If doctors could use that science stuff to prove there was a high percentage chance your job could kill you, wouldn't you want to stop doing that job? Or, if you were stricken insane, wouldn't you want saner people to make you stop? But you know the NBA; they wouldn't want to take the chance of losing a Lebron or Kobe to a "possible" death by cardiac arrest. Better to just give the player and his family the information and let them make the decision to keep playing (which is basically what they did with Reggie Lewis, and we know how well that worked out). This way, the player -- and not the league -- gets the blame for any unseemly public (or private) deaths. Just another sign that the NBA cares.

NBA cares
The NBA cares. About itself, but it cares.

Update: As Henry Abbott pointed out over at TrueHoop, one aspect of this issue I overlooked is that the new program allows teams to protect their investments. After all, who wants to invest $60 million in somebody with a serious heart ailment? Especially when you can spend $60 million on an underachieving stiff with a surgically reconstructed knee.
I just stumbled across an article titled Michael Jordan's Life Today (dated August 21, 2006). If you don't want to read the article, I'll save you the trouble by providing a one-sentence summary: he's a dad, runs a yearly basketball camp, loves golf, and could still play basketball in the NBA if he wanted to. As is always the case with any Jordan interview, His Airness managed to mangle the English language, show a fascinating proclivity for run-on sentences, and utter an astonishing number of "you knows." Here are a few choice quotes.

Regarding a conversation with an unidentified member of his clothing design team, who wanted to create a new piece of gray sportswear:

"You're killing yourself with so much gray over here. What's spring is blue, pink, all those -- those are spring colors."
Indeed. I know whenever I head out for some pickup hoops, I always dress in blue and pink. Spring colors just bring out my game, and they intimidate my opponents. Anyway...regarding his "competative problem" -- which caused him go all "Mike Tyson" on docile teammates like Will Perdue and Steve Kerr -- and being able to accept the fact that he's stupid:

"You know, I want to win. You know, I want to go out on a limb and win, you know? And sometimes that can take you past the stage that you, you know, probably should take a step back from. Sometimes I don't look at that line, I just step over that line. Some very embarrassing things. It's one of the things that you totally regret, say, you know, I -- you look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'I was stupid. I was really stupid.' But we all are. But you have to be able to look in that mirror and say that you're stupid."
Mirror, mirror on the wall...who's the stupidest one of all? I think we all know the answer to that question. Moving on, then. Regarding whether he expected to get "unceremoniously" fired by the Washington Wizards:

"No. If that was the case, then obviously, I wouldn't have went back to play. Because I felt like I, you know, I played injured, you know, I went through, you know, surgery. And I did -- I did the things that a lot of young kids did not do. And I didn't have to do it, you know, but I did it with the benefit of trying to help an organization get back on its feet. And the gratitude that I was being given was, 'Your service is no longer wanted or needed.' So I felt like I was used, in a sense. But, you know, we've all been in a situation where we've been used. And we regret what we've, you know, but you learn."
Sure, sure...he's still sticking to the story that he came back to tutor the young kids and show them how basketball players are supposed to conduct themselves. That's why he jettisoned Rip Hamilton, who went on to become an All-Star, an NBA champion, and one of the most respected guys in the league. Oh no, comeback number two wasn't a selfish, self-aggrandizing farewell tour. Heck no! And finally, my favorite quote which I will give completely free of any context:

"I didn't jerk on you too hard, did I?"
No, no Michael...you jerked us all just hard enough.

Statistical Analysis: Out of a possible 976 words from the actual Jordan quotes, there were 36 instances in which Michael used the words "you know." This means that seven percent (72 words) of his responses were just "you knows." That's like, you know, kind of a lot.

Jordan - HUH
"It's like, you know, when you step on the, you know, court and,
you know, play basketball, then, you know, and...you know?"
I submit for your personal amusement the following headline from the International Herald Tribune:
Former NBA player Travis Best to play for Bologna
Now I know that Travis hasn't played in the NBA since the 2004-05 season -- when he averaged a mere 6.8 points and 1.9 assists for the Nets -- but according to Peapod.com, the current unit price for Oscar Mayer bologna is only $5.98 a pound. That's barely above minimum wage, assuming Travis is receiving at least one pound of lunch meet per hour of practice and/or games. He could do better greeting the white trash at Wal-Mart. What's going on?!

Imagine my surprise when I found out that Bologna is a foreign country. And by "foreign country" I of course mean "a strange land full of godless, painted savages." Now you'd think these hordes of tribal warriors would be busy hunting giraffes and practicing voodoo or whatever, but it ends up they actually play basketball outside of the U.S.A. (probably with flinthead spears and coconuts). I hope Travis can speak in clicks!!

After realizing my knowledge of world geography was somewhat limited, I, you know, read the article. Turns out Travis is playing for the Italian team Virtus Vidivici Bologna. Huhn? I thought Italy was that country shaped like a boot? So is Bologna actually a state in Italy? Or are states called "provinces" there? Those wacky Italians! But I'm still confused. Time to consult Wikipedia:
"Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy, in the Pianura Padana, between the Po River and the Apennines, exactly, between Reno River and Savena River."
That didn't help. Still confused. But I guess it's a city. Oh well...bored now.

"When they said I'd be 'playing for bologna,' I didn't
know they meant I'd be playing for bologna."

Communist Tie-in: Apparently, Travis was transferred to his new team from his old team, Russia's Unics Kazan. Now, I followed Best's career when he was a Pacer, and I don't remember him being a communist. When did he convert? And what's the conversion process like? I imagine it's like a giant meat grinder, with capitalists being shoved in one end and then coming out the other end as a communist. With a giant, turning crank somehow involved.

Travis Best Trivia: According to the article, Travis is 1.8 meters tall. A "meter" is a "European foot." Just FYI.

Order Today: Did you know you can
order packages of bologna from Amazon.com? Only $2.99, plus shipping and handling. But be warned...it ships from New York, so if you live anywhere that isn't New York, you can probably expect it to be clammy and disgusting. Actually, bologna is designed that way, so forget it. Although it does have an average customer rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Here are my Top 5 Favorite Bologna Customer Reviews:

Number 5: Sweet comfort in a weary world
Wendy Sherer:
"Being not only a agoraphobic but a hemophiliac, you can imagine how difficult my life is. 20 years ago I became a shut in and the most painful part of my existance was my inability to recieve fresh beef bologna. Imagine my glee at hearing the news that the delicate lunchmeat that had once been so readily available to my distinct palate was no longer going to be merely a dream! Just wrap a sweet gurken pickle in one of these delicious yet ambiguous flaps of meat, skewer it with a paper drink umbrella and friends, this girl is in heaven! My 14 cats and I have cocktail partys all the time....thank you amazon, and thank you oscar mayer for making my life worth living!"
Number 4: Eat it or the terrorists win
"If your kids don't eat Oscar Mayer Beef Bologna at least twice a day then the terrorists win. I like to dip it in my morning coffee!"
Number 3: Grow up
E. H. Stevens
"Judging by the previous reviews, it seems a lot of people think Bologna is funny. I'm sorry, but I don't see the humor."
Number 2: Bologna, Gift from Above
M. King
"At last, my search for balogna, a search that had oft awoken me in the middle of the turgid night, condensed with perspiration and mind a-swim with luncheon shortage paranoia, is over. No more eating of 2 slices of Wonder bread with naught but mustard inbetwixt, no more frustration of desiring that hot-dogged flavor in a flatter and more throwing-disc like form, no more eating of lesser substances that come not in a gleeful molded plastic tray nor come unbecircled in red plastic, no, Dear Lord, I have seen the light, and it is balogna. O loving, nay, GODLY meat, thou fulfilleth me and giveth me purpose. Amen."
Number 1: Gangly
"One thing I did not realize when I purchased this item is that each slice of beef bologna is uniquely crafted to sleeve an undersized man's penis. I own a Jack Russell Terrier and a St. Bernard, and have never seen them bicker like they do when I don my new cap. I recommend this item to any buyer with a small penis and/or dogs. Thank you, Amazon."
What does this tell us about ordering lunch meat online? Simply put, the only thing more frightening than receiving processed meatstuffs through the mail is the people who have already ordered it.
There's been such a long drought of interesting stories involving the NBA and its players, each new Google search makes me feel like a Hollywood groupie digging through some famous actor's dumpster. I've read 74 different stories about the Starbury Ones, I actually got excited when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar started throwing trash on his neighbors' lawns, and I was positively giddy when I discovered the headline "Ron Artest's Baby Mamma Drama." Suffice to say, this is my lowest point since that time in 4th grade when I traded a pair of my sisters panties for a G.I. Joe that was missing one arm.

So yeah, I'm hungry for some good, meaty NBA news. That said, there are certain storylines I'm already sick of...a full month and a half before the season has even started. You know they're out there: the fluff pieces that will follow us all season long. Here are a few of the stories we'll all learn to hate throughout the coming months:

1. The Heat Repeat: When a team wins the NBA title, the subtext of the next season revolves around whether they can recapture the magic and win another title. The subject usually gets stale before the preseason even starts, but it's going to be even worse this year because this Heat team is rife with subplots:

1a. Shaq's Future: Once an NBA legend begins his slow and ineluctable decline, the questions begin: How much does he have in the tank? Can he still be the Shaq of old? How long before he retires? What will be his legacy? On and on an on. Here's all you really need to know about Shaq. His averages will fall. He'll miss 10 to 20 games. He'll occassional submit a dominant performance that will fool people into thinking he can turn it on at any time. He'll lean on Dwyane Wade most of the season, and then he'll do the same in the playoffs. But he's popular enough, and the center position is wasting away in the NBA, so he'll still get voted onto the All-Star team and make All-NBA first or second team. But we'll all know...he's not the Shaq he once was.

1b. Dwyane Wade's MVP Candidacy: As Shaq's decline continues, Wade will have to pick up more and more of the slack, and his averages will go up (although only marginally). He'll be one of the top 5 players in the league, and everyone will openly wonder whether this will be his MVP year. He won't be, because Shaq and the other veterans are going to put it on cruise control for most of the season, so the Heat will be lucky to win 50ish games this season. But that won't stop the Heat fans from chanting MVP, and maybe we will be too...while watching some swashbuckling scoring duels between Wade and the Kobes and Lebrons of the league.

1c. Pat Riley: Riley is 61, and he has nothing left to prove. So the question is: will he continue coaching after this year? The question will be posed by sportswriters all season long, and he'll continue to avoid the subject by giving vague answers like, "It would be nice to spend more time with my family, but coaching is in my blood, although it is a wearying undertaking, even though the pursuit of greatness motivates and defines me, but...." We won't get a straight answer until sometime next summer, but we'll still have to read the question about 506,721 times.

1d. The veterans: Alonzo Mourning. Gary Payton. Antoine Walker. Will they retire? Will they move on? How do they feel? What are they thinking? Isn't Alonzo brave for playing with a bum kidney? Are you impressed by how Payton has accepted a lesser role? Can you believe Walker is only attempting eight three-pointers a game? They're courageous, mature, and motivated...we all get it. We don't need to keep reading about it.

2. The Lakers continuing mediocrity: The Lakers have a true coaching legend in Phil Jackson, and one of the league's best-ever scoring machines in Kobe Bryant. This means that, on some level, everybody expects the Lakers to be better than they are even though they're a flawed team with little-to-no chance of actually contending for anything...other than (maybe) a first or second-round playoff exit. As a result, the year will be full of highs and lows, and the following storylines will follow the team all season long:

2a. Worse than expected: They'll go through a rough stretch, which might include a protracted losing streak. Critics will be divided on whether to blame Kobe (who is too selfish and self-absorbed to lead a team), his teammates (who won't be "doing enough to support" Kobe), or Phil Jackson (who's coaching philosophy and desire to coach a selfish superstar and undertalented roleplayers will be called into question). People will begin to openly wonder how long Kobe will be patient with his underachieving teammates, and/or how long his teammates will put up with Kobe's selfishness, and/or how long Phil will put up with the whole mess before throwing up his hands and retiring.

2b. Better than expected: They'll go on a tear, which might include a protracted winning streak. Loyalists will point to Kobe Bryant (his maturity, his talent, his overall greatness), and/or the improving productivity of his teammates ("That Lamar Odom," some will say, "is really fulfilling the 'Scottie Pippen' role on this team), and/or the genius of Phil Jackson (who preaches good defense and relies on the infallible Triangle). The team will generate a lot of buzz and sportswriters will use terms like "sleeper," "darkhorse," and the ubiquitous "nobody wants to face these guys in the first round."

2c. So-so: They'll hover around .500, losing a few games here, winning a few games there, but never really establishing any continuity or a team identity. They'll get by on some big scoring outbursts by Kobe, the occasional virtuoso performance by Odom (or some other Laker), and sold coaching decisions by Jackson. But no one will no what to make of them until they miss or make the playoffs, at which time they'll be labeled either a disappointment or a possible darkhorse.

3. Ron Artest: The dude is straight up crazy. This can only lead to one of two things:

3a. The sleep: He'll either keep his mouth shut or say all the right things off the court, meanwhile he'll play really well on the court. Some will praise him for his developing maturity, while others will proclaim this is a new, kinder, gentler Ron Artest. The critics will openly wonder whether another outburst is inevitable, but will praise him for his "dedication and effort," which is shorthand for "he hasn't killed anyone yet."

3b. The explosion: He'll snap and do something terrible. He'll throw his team under the bus (probably figuritively, maybe literally). He'll hang his coach out to dry. He'll demand a trade. He'll kidnap a cheerleader, or punch a beat writer, or set a hotdog stand on fire. Everyone will say they knew this was going to happen, he's an animal that needs to be caged, and how could anybody have taken a chance on this guy ("The Maloofs should have known what they were getting into..."). Maybe he'll be suspended, maybe he won't. But the real losers will be the Sacramento Kings. Somewhere Larry Bird will be laughing.

4. The Spurs: The will continue to daunt the basketball world by being one of the best teams in the league and a legitimate title contender. Mass opinion about them will be divided into the following categories:

4a. The fans: These people see the Spurs in white hats. They will proclaim that the Spurs play basketball "the way it's supposed to be played" and will laud Tim Duncan for his relentlessly fundamental play and all-time greatness (these same people will get all huffy when critics label Tim as a boring player). These folks love Bruce Bowen's tough, gritty defense and his inspiring "come from nowhere" backstory. They also love that scrappy little Tony Parker and think it's awesome he was able to land a hot babe like Eva Longoria. They'll be able to sit back and enjoy as the Spurs win upwards of 60 games and cruise into the playoffs with a virtual guarantee of making the Western Conference Finals and maybe even the NBA Finals.

4b. The haters: These people see the Spurs in black hats. They're sick and fucking tired of these guys and just want them to go away. They hate San Antonio's plodding half-court game and are sick of watching boring old Tim Duncan perform his four or five post moves to near (but annoying) perfection. They think Bruce Bowen is the dirtiest player in the NBA ("All he does is clutch and grab!!"), they dismiss Tony Parker as a whining little Frenchy, and they absolutely despise any and every mention and/or camera shot of Eva Longoria (the dirty whore).

5. Lebron James: As the latest in the long line of "Next Michael Jordans," and given last season's individual and team improvement, even more will be expected of Lebron James this season. He's going to need to score more, make his teammates better (or better-ER), and improve his defense (which is the one flaw in his game that people like to nitpick about). His team (and some people will actually forget he even has a team) will need to win at least 55 games, which absolutely must be followed by an extended playoff run (probably nothing less than a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals will suffice). Anything less than that will be viewed as a major disappointment, and some people will rush to question his resolve, his motivation, his teammates, his coaching, etc. If he and the Cavs do manage to fulfill these expectations, everyone will note that Lebron took his game to the "next level" on his way to the inevitable NBA championship he is destined to win (but not this season; the Cavs aren't good enough). But between now and their eventual playoff exit, his every exploit -- whether success or failure -- will be chronicled and scrutinized in painstaking detail by pretty much everybody. Unless he loses a limb, he's a mortal lock for the MVP race.

Part 2: Coming soon...
The WNBA world was rocked to its very foundations yesterday when Dave Cowens resigned as the coach and general manager of the Chicago Sky. And I can promise you one thing: almost 50 percent of that last sentence was 100 percent sarcasm-free.

It wasn't a good season for the Sky. The team went 5 - 29, which was easily the worst record in the WNBA. And as the losses piled up, Cowens bemoaned the team's lack of talent, player injuries, and life in general. Which is quite a turnaround from last May, when he promised to instill the team with the "scrappy fighting spirit" he had:
"The WNBA represents all that is great about basketball. My goal as a player in the NBA was not to be the best player on the floor, but to be the best team player. I see that concept everywhere I look in the WNBA. The players move the ball, play intense defense and dive for loose balls. They play with mutual respect, tenacity and high energy."
Pretty glowing terms for a guy who, only four months later, was jumping into the last lifeboat on the Titanic. Cowens had also said "getting to build a team from scratch is a dream come true for any coach." That dream, of course, turned into a nightmare as it became clear that winning requires more than floor dives and respect. It also requires that you actually, you know, understand your players.
"Cowens said he enjoyed coaching the Sky but conceded he did not initially grasp the differences between coaching men and women. By way of example, he said he it took him a while to realize WNBA players craved order and planning, while he coached by the NBA model of leaving ample room for freelancing and improvisation."
Reading between the lines, it's pretty obvious that Cowens expected his players to basically go out and coach themselves...just like NBA players. But instead of Stephon Marbury glaring at him for suggesting a pass, he had Coretta Brown looking to the sidelines for instructions that Cowens couldn't give her. Although you have to wonder whether that "freelancing and improvisation" theory really works for men, since Cowens has a lifetime NBA coaching record of 161 - 191.

Anyway, now Cowens is going to be an assistant coach for the Detroit Pistons. I have no idea what they could possibly need him for. I mean, has he demonstrated some tangible skill or intangible quality that will actually make the Pistons a better team? Especially when quotes like this came out of the exit interview from his last job?
"I'm glad I got the chance to do this. It helped me be more disciplined with paying attention to details. If you really know what you want, and where you want to be at the end of the season, you then can start at the beginning and build to that. I didn't really know that."
So...if you know beforehand where you want to be...you can actually start at the beginning and work toward getting there. Brilliant!! It's like, knowing what I want to write before I start a sentence will totally help me write the sentence. See?! I just did it!! Awesome.

Dave says: "Work hard to succeed. Unless you
can't. Then quit and start over somewhere else."
Karl Malone has officially made the government's secret "Top Ten Supervillains" list, right between Dr. Doom and the Riddler (see below). But Malone didn't try to blow up the Fantastic Four or lead Batman on a wild goose chase via a series of complex, interconnected riddles. No, he did something even more insideous: he tried to bribe someone.

Apparently, Malone and a former business partner, one Sidney Ray Davis, went on an "illegal elk hunting trip" back in 1998. And the "illegal" part means that Davis, at one-time a licensed outfitter for winter elk hunting trips, didn't have a state-issued elk hunting tag for Malone. According to the lawsuit, Malone didn't want anyone to find out that he'd "hunted" (i.e., fired his gun once into the snow) without a license because he thought it would hurt his contract negotiations with the Jazz. This somehow lead to Malone's brother-in-law, Ken Kensey, threatening to kick Davis' ass, which was followed by Malone himself offering Davis $25K just to shut the hell up about it, followed by Malone signing a new contract with the Jazz worth over $60 million.

And now, eight years later, Davis is suing. There's a lot of mumbo jumbo about how Malone had "business obligations" he never fulfilled, and all that blahbity blah blah. I assume that "didn't fulfill business obligations" is fancy lawyer talk for "didn't pay the bribe he promised." But in the end, what it really comes down to is Davis hoping to withdraw a few hundred thousand out of the First National Bank of Karl Malone.

My take? It's probably true. I love Karl Malone, but he's just enough of an idiot that I can totally see him asking his brother to threaten a guy, then just trying to pay the guy off. But honestly, there are way too many gray areas in this whole situation for Davis to win. And even if he does win, I'm pretty sure you can't use the American legal system to force someone to pay the bribe money he owes you. Of course, we live in a world where little old ladies get millions of dollars for pouring hot coffee in their own laps, so who knows.

Nut-tastic Extra: My most favoritist picture of Karl Malone ever -- kicking Robert Horry square in the nuts.

Horry nutshot
I've got your "clutch shot" right here, Mr. Horry.

Riddle me this: What's gay, green, and black...and looks like a blob of pudding stuffed into a spandex sack? This guy:

Batman's worst nightmare. And mine. And probably yours too.

This is Everyone's Favorite Asian* from MySpace. For reasons that simply can't be understood by our Earth logic, he dressed up as a homosexual (or homosexual-ER) version of the Riddler, took a picture of himself wearing it, and left it in a comment on some poor girl's MySpace profile...along with the following "riddle":

"What do you get when you cross a wild and crazy Asian with green spandex and tights, who talks in riddles? HAPPY HALLOWEEN LORI FROM THE RIDDLER!!!"
Ha ha ha!! Great riddle, EFA!! My answer was going to be "douchebag," but yours is much more creative and pathetic. Poor Lori. I can't imagine what horrible thing did she do to deserve having this ghastly image left on her journal. Maybe she skins kittens alive and then eats them, or maybe she turned Everyone's Favorite Asian down for a date and this was his terrible revenge. Whatever the case, I feel the need once again to point out to the world that spandex is a privilege, not a right.

*Choosing to call yourself "Everyone's Favorite Asian" is potentially misleading. For instance, my favorite Asian is Jackie Chan, and I suspect around 98 percent of all other white Americans feel the same way. So if I were to wander to the MySpace profile of someone claiming to be "everyone's" favorite Asian, I'd be expecting kickass stunts and lots of fighting that involves common household items and ladders. But what I would get is a chubby guy in a Riddler costume. Not cool.
As we all know, Team USA got embarrassed in an international tournament for the third consecutive time...and everybody thinks they know how to fix the problem: better shooters, smarter coaching, improved defense, longer naps, blahbity blah, blah, blah.

Why are we wasting our time by stating the obvious -- namely that Team USA needs to play better? That's, like, so very duh. Of course they have to play better...that's clearly stated on page one of The Complete Idiot's Guide For How Not To Lose. So instead of just stating the obvious over and over and over and over, I'm going to suggest a series of tangible improvements that could very well put Team USA -- which did, after all, finish a solid third -- over the top.

1. Monkeys: Science may not be able to cure cancer or create a perfect sex clone in the form of Gwen Stefani, but it has statistically proven that monkeys make everything better. I'm very serious. Name one thing that isn't improved the very second you add a monkey to the equation. Okay, maybe it won't help you rescue some whiny bitch from a construction site full of flaming barrels, but other than that...

Donkey Kong
Okay, maybe the "monkey thing" didn't work out that great for Mario.

2. Boston Celtics' mascot Lucky: I propose making Lucky the official mascot of Team USA. Not because I actually like him or anything; I recently referred to Lucky as "the douchiest douche in Doucheonia." No, my hope is that some host nation will view Lucky's very presence as an act of war and destroy him. With extreme fucking prejudice.

Sorry, Lucky. That t-shirt gun is an act of
war. We're gonna have to put you down.

3. Cosmic rays and/or gamma radiation: A bombardment of cosmic rays transformed a group of mild-mannered astronauts into the Fantastic Four. A gamma bomb blast turned a mild-mannered scientist into the Incredible Hulk. Do you see where I'm going with this? If you think Team USA is athletic now, wait until they start leaping miles at a stretch and benchpressing trucks. And if you can't think of at least a hundred ways being able to fly (while on fire!!) or stretching any body part could improve someone's basketball game, you obviously aren't thinking hard enough. Super powers rule, and I'm pretty sure most drug screening kits don't include a Geiger counter.

super basketball
Superpowers would totally bring home the gold.
Then...free chemotherapy for everybody!

4. Midgets: Midgets are a staple of almost any good movie. Happy Gilmore? Check. Elf? Check. The original Star Wars trilogy had midgets in trashcan-shaped robot suits, little brown robes, and teddybear costumes. They even had a muppet midget! And I think we can all agree that Star Wars made about a bajillion cajillion dollars at the box office. So really, there's no conceivable way adding midgets to Team USA could fail. Really.

Midget basketball
Come on, now. Tell me this isn't awesome.

5. Truthiness: As Stephen Colbert has so wisely pointed out,
Truthiness always succeeds where Truth fails. Sometimes you know things intuitively, instinctively, "from the gut"...regardless of those contradictory, nagging little things like evidence, intellectual examination, or actual facts. I mean, doesn't the idea of American dominance in international basketball just feel right? Of course it does! So forget what the box scores tell you; follow your heart and praise Team USA for bringing home the gold!

Am I really suggesting we adopt a shallow and callous
disregard for the truth? Yes...but only if it feels right.

6. Rubik's Cube: Just think...if every member of Team USA learned how to solve the riddle of Rubik's Cube, there's no limit to what they could accomplish. And even though I totally made that up, you have to figure that a group of guys capable of unravelling one of life's enduring mysteries would at least be able to defend a screen/roll or maybe get a hand in the face of an open shooter. Wouldn't they?

Once you've unlocked the secrets of the universe,
defending the screen/roll should be really easy.

7. Jessica Alba: Do I really need to explain this to you?

Jessica Alba
Oh my dear, sweet almighty lord.
In case you missed it, Michael Jordan recently appeared on an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show. (And if you didn't miss it...what the hell are you doing watching Oprah??!) The episode was titled A Hilarious Surprise For Michael Jordan, and it was basically a chance for His Airness to shamelessly promote a new brand of him-themed women's apparel, the Jordan Women's Collection:
"For 20 years, women have begged Michael Jordan for one thing -- and it's not what you think! After receiving thousands of letters from ladies who were sick of shopping in the boys' department for Air Jordan attire, Michael is debuting his line of women's clothing!"
Ha ha ha!! And here we thought they'd been begging for his rock hard "jump shot" (and by "jump shot" we of course mean "Italian leather briefcase"). But it turns out the only thing they wanted was the same clothes they were already wearing, only more expensive and with a little dunking Michael Jordan on their boobs. Jordan was so juiced about endorsing women's clothing that he was practically humping Oprah's leg. And who wouldn't be excited? I mean, the line boasts a color scheme never before used by Michael --green and pink! The Air Jordan logo is also different -- it's written in cursive. I'll say this for Michael, he really knows what women want: pink shirts with cursive writing, the universal formula for getting laid.

Jordan women 1
"Just like regular clothes, only they cost twice
as much and say 'Air Jordan'...awesome!!"

The most shocking part of the show was Michael's admission that the existing Jordan products -- which are marketed to a male audience -- were actually designed like women's clothing. "People don't realize, in the past the men's clothes were influenced by the women's. I've always taken from the ladies and incorporated it into the shoes and clothes." So every time I put on a pair of Air Jordans, or wore a pair of his Jumpman shorts, I was, what, cross-dressing? I...I don't know what to say, except that Michael Jordan is responsible for my very first sexual identify crisis. Thanks a lot, Mike.

Believe it or not, the show wasn't just one big commerical for Jordan's new clothing line. Remember, there was supposed to be a "hilarious suprise" in store for Michael, and that surprise took the form of...Charles Barkley in a bright blue women's running suit:

Barkley gay 2
"Love me, Michael. Please love me. I wore
women's clothes for you. Even a thong."

It's, uhm, really nice of Barkley to support the Jordan Women's Collection, but did he really need to wear some of it? I mean, seriously, that looks awful...even by Barkley's standards. And all this only a few days after he came out in favor of gay marriage. Is Sir Charles trying to tell us something? More importantly, is he trying to tell Michael something? After all, when Oprah asked Barkley about the source of Jordan's appeal, Charles said, "He's got great charisma. He always dresses fantastic. He has what I call 'It.'" Barkley then reached over and gently stroked Jordan's thigh while looking longingly into his dark brown eyes. I think we all know what this means, and all I can say is "God bless them."
Seriously. What are you waiting for? Go to Deadspin and watch the horror. Like, right now. And just for fun, here's the best picture of Luke Walton ever.

Note: Luke Walton isn't acting in this picture. He enjoys being the "white stuff" in an "Oreo cookie." He also likes "long walks" on "the beach." Okay, I'm "done."

Walton kiss

Subliminal Extra: Okay. I promised myself I wouldn't comment on Team USA's loss to the Greek National Team. But we all should have seen this coming. The biggest weakness of our previous two national teams was the lack of consistent three-point shooting. Then -- shock of shocks -- we put together another team that lacks a premier outside scoring threat. And no, Kirk Hinrich doesn't count. And for those of you who think that things would have been different if Kobe had been there, I'd like to point out he's a career 33 percent shooter from beyond the arc (and he shot 34 percent last season). Now if Ray Allen or Michael Redd had been on the team...

Okay. I'm really done this time.
There's no better way to start the day than watching an idiot jump off a trampoline and splatter himself against the backboard. Enjoy!