[NBA executive vice president for basketball operations Stu Jackson] said the NBA is considering whether to allow its officials to impose technical fouls for flopping, which FIBA, the governing body of international basketball, allows its referees to do. Other sports, such as hockey and soccer, also allow referees to penalize players who flop.No timetable has been given as to when the new rule may or may not come about. My guess is that there won't be any changes until next season.
Our buddy Craig over at The Association quite gleefully pointed out that the Phoenix Suns -- who are 33-8, have won 30 of their last 32 games (with the two losses coming in overtime on a 54-point explosion by Gilbert Arenas and at the buzzer on a killer Dirk Nowitzki jump shot), and have had winning streaks of 15 and 14 (and counting) games -- are 0-4 against the Western Contenders. In this case, "Western Contenders" refers to the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, and Los Angeles Lakers. I have a few problems with this definition:
Problem 1: The term "Western contenders" is, by its very nature, absurd since the Eastern Conference doesn't have any championship contenders this season. Yes, yes, I know...a team from the East is going to make it to the NBA Finals by default. But let's be honest: that team has as good a chance of winning the title as I do of travelling back in time and wrestling away Britney Spears' virginity from noted pop star and weenie-boy, Justin Timberlake. It just isn't going to happen. So let's stop pretending that there are Eastern and Western Conference contenders. There are contenders, period, and those teams are all in the West.
Problem 2: Craig lists the Lakers among the contenders. He wisely clarifies that pronouncement by stating "I know the Lakers are more like a distant 4th best team in the West." I feel the need to refute this proclamation on a couple different levels. For instance, shouldn't the Jazz be considererd the 4th best team in the Western Conference? After all, they have a better record than the Lakers, and they've notched wins against all the West's best teams (Mavs, Suns, Spurs, and Lakers). The Jazz also have a winning road record (13-10), whereas the Lakers are sub-.500 away from home (8-11). Go back and find an NBA champion who won less than half their road games (here's a hint: there isn't one). It should also be noted that the Jazz have played more games on the road than at home, whereas the Lakers have played more games at home than on the road. So if the Jazz have a better record, have wins against the other "contenders" (including the Lakers), are a better road team, and have played more road games than the Lakers...shouldn't they rightly be considered a better team?
Craig doesn't think so. He said, "I'm not counting Utah as a contending team in the West. Since the 12-1 start they are 16-13 and can't keep guys from dropping 50-spots on them...they are a fraud!" Those are harsh words, and not entirely justified. Let's apply this reasoning to the Lakers. They started out 14-6 and have gone 13-9 since. Statistically speaking, there isn't much of a difference between 16-13 and 13-9. And don't forget that the Lakers got to play 15 of their first 20 games at home, which played a huge part in their quick start. As for guys dropping 50-spots on the Jazz, I seem to remember Gilbert Arenas dropping a 60-spot on the Lakers...with one of the league's "best defenders" Kobe Bryant guarding him (and then making pouty comments to the press afterward).
Anyway, yes, the Jazz have given up four 50-point performances this season. But here are a few factoids on those games: 1. they all happened when the Jazz were the road team, 2. the first two (from Michael Redd and Kobe Bryant) came on the second night of back-to-back games (and teams tend to surrender more points on "second-night games"), 3. the third one (from Ray Allen) came in overtime (and he didn't eclipse 50 until the extra session), and 4. the fourth one (from Gilbert Arenas) didn't happen until Arenas hit a buzzer-beater to win the game (and thereby reach 51). So in those four games, the Jazz went 1-3, all on the road, with one loss in overtime and another on a buzzer-beater. Not to mention the fact that that the scoring explosions all came from shooting guards, who since last season have been put under some kind of federal protection (and if you're wondering, those players combined for over 60 free throws in those four games). Frankly, considering these circumstances, and the fact that these guys were being guarded by Derek Fisher's corpse, the Jazz did a good job holding the dudes under 70.
All defense of the Jazz aside, I don't think Utah can contend for a title. They're a well-coached team with a lot of sturdy, above-average role-players, but they don't have the star power to be a serious contender. The Lakers can't, either. By the numbers, they're ranked 5th in the West, and depending on who you ask, they're probably the 4th or 5th (or possibly 6th if Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady get healthy) best team. They're well-coached, have a group of hard-working players, and have the league's best scorer. They're going to give someone a good tussle in the first round of the playoffs. Heck, if they get matched up against the Jazz, they might even make it to round two. But that's where the dream will end. The Lakers don't have the talent up front (Kwame Brown and Andrew Bynum? Seriously?) or the floor leadership (Smush Parker? Uh, no.) to contend for the title this year. They just don't. It would take serious injuries to Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tim Duncan for me to raise my estimation of the Lakers, and I can't see all three of those guys going down.
As for the Suns: I agree with Craig that the Suns shouldn't be put into any all-time great lists just yet, and honestly, I haven't seen as much of that as you'd expect...especially from an over-eager press corps that is ever-ready to crown a team showing even the faintest glimmer of greatness (and the Suns are showing much more than a glimmer right now). I believe there are two reasons for this. First, I'd like to think that what happened with the Pistons last year taught the prognosticators a few lessons. Second, the Suns are neck-and-neck with the Mavericks right now, and there's little to choose between the two teams. With both of them on a roll, hyperbole becomes even more ridiculous than usual.
But as for the 0-4 record against the "contenders," well, I take that with a grain of salt. First off, they still have seven games left against those teams -- four of which come in the last two weeks of the regular season -- so there will be several opportunities left to make a statement. And secondly, they could go 0-11 against those teams and it wouldn't matter. It's all about the playoffs. The 1983-84 Boston Celtics were swept in the regular season by both the Philidelphia 76ers and the Lakers, the other two "contenders" for the '84 crown. It didn't matter. The 76ers were defeated by the Milwaukee Bucks and the Celtics downed the Lakers in seven games to with the championship. Or how about the 1994-95 Houston Rockets? They were 1-5 against the contender Spurs, 2-3 against contending Jazz, and 0-2 against the Eastern contending Orlando Magic. Yet they beat all those teams en route to the 1995 title. If you want a more contemporary example, well, you made a big deal about the Miami Heat's record against contending teams last year, and yet we now live in a world where Gary Payton, Antoine Walker, and Jason Williams can correctly be called...champions. And even though a part of my soul died to admit that, it's true.
The Suns have every component necessary to win a title. They are wonderfully coached, blessed with a truckload of talent (especially with the return of Kurt Thomas and Amare Stoudemire), and have the two-time MVP Steve Nash playing at his absolute best. And yeah, I ditched the quotes you used, because Nash is the real deal. If you can't see that by now, then you're either lying to yourself or you just don't know basketball. Forget the 19.5 points and 11.6 assists; we've seen that before. But he's shooting 54 percent from the field (including 49.8 percent from 3-point range)...as a point guard! (Meanwhile, Lakers fans and the press are ooohing and aahing over how Kobe is shooting a career-high 47 percent from the field...which, frankly, isn't nearly as impressive considering Bryant's comparitive physical gifts.) Nash's assist-to-turnover ratio is 3.2. He rarely ever takes bad shots or throws bad passes...at this point, he's like a basketball machine, and he's playing the game as well as it can be played.
Does this mean the Suns are going to win it all? I have no idea. We're only halfway into the season. Nash could break his ankle tonight, or next week, or a month from now. Of course, so could Dirk, or Tim, or Kobe. Frankly, I'm not going to bother with making predictions until a little closer to playoff time. Right now I'm just going to enjoy watching the games, reading the box scores, and taking my nightly bath in goat's blood while I relentlessly stab my "number 24" voodoo doll and cast evil wicca curses on the Lakers.
Basketbawful's Playoff Guarantee: Craig thinks that the budding Suns/Lakers rivalry and combined with L.A.'s size gives the Lakers a legitimate shot of unseating the Suns in the playoffs. No way. Did the Lakers front court give the Suns problems in the first round of last year's playoffs? Absolutely. But it should be noted that 1. the Lakers still lost, and 2. the Suns now have Thomas and Stoudemire healthy. The Lakers size is no longer an issue. If for some reason these two teams meet in the playoffs, I personally guarantee that the Suns will prevail (barring major injuries to key players). If the Lakers somehow pull off the upset, I will wear a Lakers t-shirt for a week.
"All the pressure is on [Bears quarterback] Sexy Rexy. I don't think [the Bears] have enough offense. All the pressure is off Peyton, because his arch-nemesis, his Lex Luthor, his Kryptonite, has been Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. They have solved that. Now in South Beach, on a neutral site, in warm weather, you are not going to stop Reggie Wayne and Marvelous (Marvin) Harrison. You're not going to stop those two. It won't even be close. They're going to destroy Chicago. Destroy Chicago. It won't even be close."So speaketh The Reggie. Okay. Maybe He was a little drunk when He said all that, but can you blame Him? Historically speaking, life as an Indiana sports fan is like being a heterosexual male at a lesbian biker bar: sure, they'll let you into the party, but you're only going to get your ass kicked and go home with an inoperable case of blue balls. So when your team finally gets to go home with the lipstick lesbian who was just kind of confused about her sexuality, a little celebration is perfectly justified. Anyway, feel free to get a second mortgage on your house and bet it all on the Colts...the almighty is on their side.
"I'm a little miffed that when the game is over and Peyton is looking for you, that you run into the locker room. I'm a little miffed at that, knowing how hard this man has struggled and you've been the guy who has always knocked him down. C'mon. Show Peyton a little love."It's true, too. After the game, Brady just turned around and stalked off the field without a backward glance. Our clumsy human words can't begin to describe what a dick move that was. Here's a guy who's won three Super Bowls, and he can't just suck it up and be gracious in defeat? It's sad. Do a quick Google image search for "Tom Brady and Peyton Manning" and you'll find several pictures of Manning congratulating a victorious Brady after the Colts' past playoff failures. Manning stood tall and took his medicine -- and heaps of criticism for "choking" in big games -- but Brady wouldn't.
Public Relations Nightmares: As a Pacer's fan, I was willing to give Stephen Jackson away. And they kinda did. Some may say Stephen Jackson's game has "steadily regressed" since his Atlanta days. He also isn't someone you would call "fan friendly" or "coachable", and some would even say he "scares small children" and "may be mildly retarded". Mike Dunleavy compounded his disappointing play in Golden State by being a douche, but at least he hasn't shot anyone lately. Advantage: If the Pacers get 10ppg out of the biggest douche in the league, I'll call this a draw.
Jump Shooting Big Men: Everyone gushes about how versatile Al Harrington is, which is understandable. A big man that can shoot the J and play all three frontcourt positions is an intriguing prospect. But he's always been on my overrated list since he doesn't block shots and is a shaky rebounder. Not to mention he can be wildly inconsistent (a guy in the fantasy league went so far to call him "bi-polar"). Troy Murphy got 14 and 10 when playing starter's minutes last season, and should compliment Jermaine nicely since he has no interest in scoring in the paint. Advantage: Golden State, but it's closer than you think.
X-Factor: Sarunas Jasikevicious has been completely misused in the Pacers system. He's better suited for a Jeff Hornacek-like combo guard role, but Rick Carlisle seemed intent on keeping Sarunas on the bench while Jax and Marquis Daniels took turns posting incredibly mediocre numbers at SG. He may become a forgotten man in the Warriors backcourt logjam. Using some "dumb math", if Ike Diogu stayed at his career averages and played starters minutes, he's almost a 20-10 guy. At age 23. Take that for what it's worth. Advantage: I like Ike's upside. Pacers.
Marginal throw-ins: Josh Powell and Keith McLeod will enjoy having front-row seats for the next 3 months.
1. Making him look bad in front of his kidsI can only imagine the kind of personal hell Jason's life has been through all of this. I mean, have you ever tried to hit a ball out of the sandtrap with paint on your clubs?! But we live in a society that doesn't protect men from spousal abuse. The law just kind of laughs at you while shaking its head condescendingly, and complaining to your buddies that your wife is kicking your ass on a regular basis will only make you sound like a huge, flapping vagina. I once complained about a girlfriend punching me and received a tube of Vagisil from my roommate. So what's an abused man to do? I have a few possible suggestions for Mr. Kidd, in case he changes his mind and decides to reconcile with Mrs. Kidd:
2. Spilling paint on his golf clubs
3. Sitting on his car (making him late for practice)
4. Waving his cell phone and punching numbers
6. Lavish spending
"But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."Look Jason, I'm not telling you to just go and start giving alway all your tunics and cloaks to just anybody. That's crazy. But this is your wife we're talking about. I'm pretty sure you signed a "for better or worse" contract when you bought her. So when she bitchslaps you across the right cheek, just do what Jesus said and turn your head so she can get a shot at the left cheek too. Because if you don't obey the Bible, then Saddam will come back to life and the terrorists will win.
"The Spurs are literally unbeatable!"The Spurs would go on to be literally beaten 90-85. Which, much to my dismay, led to Mark Cuban doing the "sweaty groin rub" thing with Josh Howard.
I'm completely serious. These things are always used for the cheap laugh...and they usually succeed. Next time you go to a comedy movie, I guarantee that at least three of these things will occur. Remember the farting scene in Blazing Saddles? The midget in Happy Gilmore? The prisoner snuggling with Ben Stiller in There's Something About Mary? The entire plot of White Chicks and Little Man? I'm not sure why this is. Either there's something written in our very DNA that makes it an absolute biolocial imperative for us to laugh at a fatty falling off a treadmill, or we laugh simply because we know we're supposed to laugh at certain things, like Hulk Hogan in a ballerina costume.
1. Farts or poop (sights, sounds, and/or references)
3. Men getting punched, kicked, or otherwise hit in the groin
5. Men dressed as women
6. Fat people (usually falling down or comically eating fattening food)
7. Male prison rape (or the threat thereof)
"Good definition, but definitely *not* coined by Gilbert. The word has been around for years--it's a hip hop word that is slow to be discovered by the usually overwhelmingly non-hip hop blogosphere. See, for example, Jay-Z's (even then, mainstream rap) song Dec. 4 (released 2003). In fact, 'swag' is just short for 'swagger,' which the OED defines as "the action of swaggering; external conduct or personal behaviour marked by an air of superiority or defiant or insolent disregard of others." Sounds like Gilbert."Wow. Now I totally feel like an out-of-touch, uninformed cracker. I thought "swag" was probably some sort of hip hop slang, but I was too lazy to do any research. I just checked Urban Dictionary, where one (of the many) definition of swag is "To move over an area of surface with C.A.S (confidence, appearance, and style) by taking steps with the feet at a pace slower than a run." That's the closest match they had, and it kind of describes what Arenas does after he hits a big shot. I also checked several online rap and hip hop dictionaries, but none of them had any entries for swag. If only we could get a definition from Gilbert himself...