Okay, here's part two of the Fan Appreciation Mail Bag. Keep in mind that I answered these questions between writing an Allan Houston article for Deadspin, making my weekly picks for Footbawful (and responding to futuremrsrickankiel's picks), and doing my Clark Kent job. Oh, and it's Friday. So my brain's a little fried.
Question: Do you make much money from doing this? -- Anonymous
Answer: No. Basketbawful is an entirely non-profit venture. That's why there aren't any banner ads or pop-ups here. And I aim to keep it that way. Many people have asked me why that is, since I'm basically turning down free money. But I like the purity of this site, and I don't want it to become about generating page views and selling ad space. I maintain this blog purely on passion, and because I have a small but loyal following who likes things the way they are.
Question: What are your worst habits? Bit of a pageant question, but hey; you don't have to answer it. Its just a strange curiosity. -- Barry
Answer: Yowch. Well, for one, I tend to overcommit on a regular basis...hence the two blogs and freelance gig with Deadspin in addition to my Clark Kent job. I play sports with very little regard to my personal safety, so I'm almost always bruised/cut/injured. I refuse to learn how to iron my clothes. I don't floss as often as I should. I tend to tell people the truth in situations where it would be better to lie ("Oh yeah, you look totally fat in that dress" or "She's a bitch, you need to dump her, pronto"). As a friend told me recently, "You know, sometimes I want you to lie to me, okay?" I sometimes drink too much when I'm out with my friends, I'm an emotional eater, and I'm something of a neat freak. Oh, and I sometimes, uh, blog at work.
Question: In what order did you become interested in basketball? Playing, watching games, video games, collector cards, other? -- Ruben
Answer: Interestingly enough, I kind of hated basketball growing up. My mom had dreams of raising a sports star, and I felt it was my solemn duty to crush her dreams. The upside of her efforts was that -- as a huge Celtics fan -- she forced me to watch and follow the Bird era Celtics. My attitude toward the sport changed one summer day in my early teens when I was hanging out at my buddy G-man's house. He wasn't much into sports, but he suggested we play "Barnyard Basketball," which was basically wrestling interspersed with trying to hit a layup or something. During one of our little dustups I slammed his head into the ground and damaged his ear. In point of fact, there was a big cartilage tear that remains noticable to this day (and he brings it up every time we go drinking together). He stomped away to sulk, so, with nothing else to do, I started shooting around. And then BANG! I was hooked. I became obsessed with playing basketball, and then watching basketball. This led to a very unfortunate incident in high school in which I went on a date with a girl I had been crushing on for years wearing a Celtics t-shirt, Celtics practice shorts with (ugh) bike shorts underneath. And this was before the baggy shorts craze had hit. I'm going to just stop right there if that's okay with you.
Question: Why do you like American football? I don't understand this game, it's rubbish. What's so good about it that it is so popular in the USA? Some steroided barrels running at each other for 10 seconds, that 10 minute break to watch some bear commercials. It's garbage. -- Simas
Answer: I dunno. That's kind of like asking somebody why they love their girlfriend, or husband, or whatever. Sure, you could make a long list of all the things you like and appreciate about them, but in the end why we love what we love -- be it a person, a sport, a hobby, or whatever -- is more magic than science. It appeals to me, while European football bores me to the point of physical pain (despite the fact that I played it for seven years back in the day). But I would never say it's rubbish, because I know there are people who feel just as passionately about it as I do about basketball and American football. And Gwen Stefani.
Question: Who's your mancrush? -- BJ
Answer: David Robinson. I thought I made that pretty obvious yesterday.
Question: Do you know any cryogenic freezing warehouses with space for me until June 2010, or when Shaq spontaneously combusts? -- Anacondahl
Answer: No, I don't. Sorry. But maybe you'd like to accompany me on my upcoming trip to the future. I can pay you, but not until we get back. Oh, and you'll have to bring your own weapons. Preferably big ones. Also, I've only done this once before. So, uh, just let me know.
Question: What´s your favorite sexual position? -- Nelly Furtado
Answer: Sorry. It's still Gwen Stefani on top. But I would consider upgrading it to "...while Nelly Furtado watches and then spontaneously joins in."
Question: Why did you have to go and change the linking ability of the picture so that I can't get to the Basketbawful front page by clicking on it? This is seriously annoying to those of us who use an RSS reader. -- Scott
Answer: Ugh. Honestly, I hadn't realized that. I'll try to get that fixed, pronto. But give me a few days; me am not so good with the HTML.
Question: How often do you actually play basketball? How good are you really? How often when you're playing are you with Evil Ted? (As in, do you guys ever play without one another?) I had this crazy conspiracy-dream (that's right, I'm dreaming about a comedy-basketball website and the people who run it, whom I've never met... maybe I need to back it down a few notches...) where I lived in the same city as y'all and started hearing rumors that you never played basketball. It made me sad when I woke up. True story. -- Michael
Answer: Uhm, you're kinda scary, Michael. But I'll answer anyway. I play in a pickup league on Monday and Wednesday nights. I also play with some friends at my gym (Lifetime Fitness) on Sunday night, and I occasionally play in another pickup league that runs on Tuesday night. Every once in a while, I play in a friend's church league, or sub in a competitive league, etc. So I play anywhere from three to four times a week. Evil Ted plays only once a week, on Wednesday, because he's married with children (read that: his wife only lets him out of the house once every seven days).
As to how good I am, why toot my own horm when I can get somebody else to do it for me. So here's a pickup league scouting report on me from my friend Mr. White: "Best all-around player in the league. A dominant 3-point threat, kills on the inside, grabs all boards and plays excellent defense. Most consistent player week to week." Now here's what Mr. P had to say: "Can score inside, outside. Good rebounding. Great defense. Defends 94 feet when needed. Solid picks. Problem: ball-handling (but not his responsibility)." It's worth noting that Mr. White and Mr. P are both pretty good ballers themselves. I guess Evil Ted can also chime in if he's reading this. I suppose what it comes down to is that I'm a very good amateur baller. Which naturally means even the worst NBA player -- say, for instance, Mario West -- would utterly destroy me.
Question: I second Scott's question, but change "so that I can't" to "so that I can". I don't use an RSS reader, but when I come over here from another site like TrueHoop that links directly to an article, clicking on the picture does not take me to the front page. -- Joe
Answer: Okay, okay, I get it! Sorry, everybody. I'll get that fixed.
Question: Have you found that having this blog reduces or expounds your love of basketball? -- Dan
Answer: Both. Like, I never really get to watch or follow basketball just for the sake of doing it anymore. I'm always looking for an angle or material I can use for the blog. And, while some of you might argue this, I try to remain (for the most part) relatively unbiased in my analyses...and sometimes, as a fan, that's the last thing you want to do. On the other hand, thinking intently about the game has increased my appreciation for a lot of little things I had never noticed or cared about before. And I get a charge out of having a dialogue with the people who read the site, even when they don't agree with me.
Question: Who was better in his prime? Hakeem, Ewing or Admiral? -- Baguete
Answer: This question actually inspired yesterday's post about David Robinson. First off, let's scratch Ewing off the list. Fantastic player, and a real warrior, but not in the same league as Olajuwon and Robinson, as both of those players had a much wider skill set. As to picking between Hakeem and David, it depends. I mean, my feeling is that D-Rob was the better regular season player. He did a little more in every area and his team tended to win more games than Hakeem's. On the other hand, Hakeem was a better big-game player. He consistently raised his output in the playoffs, whereas David tended to stay static, or even take a step back. This had more to do with attitude than talent. Anyway, in my opinion they're virtually equals, with Robinson being the more efficient player and Olajwon being the more clutch player.
Oh, and the point of yesterday's salute to the Admiral wasn't to tout the values of PER or demean Olajuwon. The purpose was to say that there are many different ways to measure greateness, or even that there are different kinds of greatness, and everybody gets to choose what kind of greatness they prefer.
Question: Are you a wrestling fan? I've noticed from time to time some really obscure references to WWE that are pretty insightful for someone who only follows football and basketball. The brutus post comes to mind, which was sad and hilarious at the same time. (Don't worry I won't tell anyone.) -- Lordhenry
Answer: I am not currently a wrestling fan, but I was in the 80s and 90s. Big time. I was a certified Hulkamaniac. Seriously, when Hogan slammed and pinned Andre the Giant in Wrestlemania III, that was one of the happiest moments of my young life. And when he lost the belt to Ultimate Warrior in Wrestlemania VI, I was depressed for days. Literally. I had a Miss Elizabeth poster up in my room and I wore a yellow, pre-ripped Hulkamania tank top when I worked out. I dug Ricky Steamboat and hated the Iron Shiek. I remember when Sgt. Slaughter turned heel, and then later asked for his country back (while seemingly hiding behind a fake plant at the local mall). Meaningful names: Superfly Jimmy Snuka, Brutus Beefcake (and later Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake), Hercules, Mr. Perfect...and of course the terrible characters, like Doink the Clown and Repo Man. Let me put it to you this way, I haven't followed wrestling for years, but Statbuster still sent me this Mr. Perfect Tribute the other day.
Question: Oh, and what happened to the Worsties?! -- Lordhenry
Answer: Sigh. Originally, the Worsties were intended to be regular season only. I was going to expand them to include the playoffs, but then I dropped the ball. My total bad. Maybe before the new season begins I can get the playoff version out. But hey, at least give me credit for making it through the regular season. And I did it month-by-month this time! [Hides head in shame]
Question: Are you a white or black guy? I need to put a face to your posts. -- Trent
Answer: It's rare, but pictures of me occasionally pop up here, and my Deadspin profile has a mug shot. Anyway, I'm white.
Question: Second question... is that Michael guy's question as creepy as I think it is? -- Pistonsgirl4life
Answer: Yeah, pretty much.
Question: Hi from Mexico, long time reader, first ever comment. What are the few things that you don't find awful in basketball these days? -- casares_raul
Answer: The list includes, but is not limited to, Chris Paul, the Utah Jazz, the fact that the Celtics are the NBA champs, the youth movement in Portland, and that team scoring has been up the last few years. And really, despite what it seems, I enjoy most aspects of the sport. I even enjoy watching Kobe Bryant...as long as the Lakers are losing.
Question: Who wins in a smoke out: Joakim Noah, David Harrison or Josh Howard? -- Stay Chisel
Answer: Harrison, all the way. Noah and Howard, they're the kind of guys who probably just want to get happy high. Harrison is one of those crazy mo-fo's who never seems to mellow out. I can see him angrily chain-smoking weed all night while muttering darkly under his breath.
Question: Who was better, John Stockton or Isiah Thomas? The conventional answer is Thomas, but numbers-wise, Stockton was better and for a longer time. Also, the Pistons' success was due in large part to their team defense, which Stockton played better than Thomas (5 time second team all defense to 0 any team all defense), while the Jazz ran a better offense, for which the point guard has the most responsibility. The tiebreaker for a lot of people is the championship count, but the Pistons never had to go through the 97 and 98 Bulls. Would the 97 and 98 Jazz teams have beaten the 90 Blazers, or the 89 (throw in the 88 team, too) Lakers? Would you help settle this for someone who wasn’t able to witness both of their careers unfold? -- David
Answer: First off, those 1996-97 and 1997-98 Jazz teams definitely could have beaten the '89 Lakers or the '90 Blazers. Keep in mind that both Magic Johnson and Byron Scott were injured during the '89 Finals, and that Portland team was full of self-combusting headcases. Not that those Pistons squads weren't really, really good...but c'mon. They won back-to-back titles against flawed teams.
It's hard to compare Isiah and Stockton because they were two totally different kinds of players. Isiah was more of a scorer and an emotional leader. Stockton was entirely selfless on the offensive end -- sometimes too much so -- and I'm not sure he has ever experienced a human emotion. To me, John Stockton was the perfect point guard. He was like a basketball computer. He rarely threw bad passes and he never took bad shots. He played rugged defense, set killer picks, shot an amazingly high percentage for a guard, and ran the Jazz offense with laser-like precision. Isiah was a better one-on-one player, and he was capable of historic in-your-face scoring explosions. But I prize consistency and longevity over those things. I would pick John over Isiah. The only point guard in NBA history I would take over Stockton is Magic.
Question: If you could pick five guys from any point in history at any point in their respective careers to build the perfect team, who would they be? -- David
Answer: My five-man team to defend the planet? The 1986-87 Magic Johnson at point, the 1991-92 Michael Jordan at shooting guard, the 1985-86 Larry Bird at small forward, the 2001-02 Tim Duncan at power forward, and the 1989-90 Hakeem Olajuwon at center. I chose these players in part due to their overall skill set and also due to their intense will to dominate.
Question: Which were the top 10 NBA teams of all time? -- David
Answer: Here's my spontaneous, off-the-cuff answer, in no particular order: 1985-86 Boston Celtics, 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers, 1991-92 Chicago Bulls, 1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers, 1964-65 Boston Celtics, 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers, 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. I suppose I should throw that 1971-72 Lakers team in here, even though I think part of their success was due to expansion...and anyway, the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks might have been even better.
Question: Will the WNBA ever be allowed to fade away? Will a female player ever make it into the NBA? What has been the most groan inducing moment that has occurred while watching a live game? Should David Stern remain commissioner? And I know I have asked this many a time, but will you have a basketbawful fantasy league? I think it would be really swell. -- Sun Devil
Answer(s): No, not as long as David Stern is commissioner of the NBA; he won't let it die. There will never be a female NBA player. Tayshaun Prince's block on Reggie Miller in '04 made me groan like nothing else. I think that Stern should step down some time in the next few years. It just feels like it's time for some fresh blood. We are kicking around the idea of having a fantasy league...it's up to Statbuster, really...more on this later.
Question: Just wondering if you have any funny anecdotes on Horace Grant. He was my favourite player growing up, but seeing as your blog would have probably come of creation towards the latter part of his playing days he doesn’t really appear much. What’s your take on the goggled one? -- Simon
Answer: Well, my take on Horace is that he was far more valuable to those first three Bulls titles than most people realize. In fact, his departure before the 1994-95 season was even more catastrophic to the team than Jordan's retirement before the 1993-94 season. Seriously. Then he went to Orlando and helped make them a contender. Remember, he was always the odd man out in Chicago. Jordan obviously got all the limelight, and many people tripped all over themselves to point out how underappreciated Pippen was. But Grant's contributions were more often than not taken for, ahem, granted. That's why it was sweet validation for him when he helped the Magic crush the Bulls in the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals...despite the fact that Jordan had returned. Unfortunately for him, the Bulls obtained Dennis Rodman and immediately supplanted the Magic as the Eastern Conference titan, Shaq fled for L.A., and things went steadily downhill from there, finally ending with Doc Rivers' infamous "cancer" comment.
Question: How much fame/respect/fear does being the Basketbawful blogger bring to the court? Are all the players like "Damn, that's Basketbawful! You don't wanna mess with him. He'll blog about you something fierce." -- Erik
Answer: Heh. None so far, although one guy did come up to me once and say, "Hey, I saw your blog. I think I'm the guy you were talking about in the pickup basketball post. I presume you were making fun of me...." Awwwwwkward.
Question: If you had to construct a 12 man roster consisting solely of current white, American-born players, could you do it? Who would be the starting five? -- chone
Answer: The 12-man roster would be (in no particular order) Chris Kaman, Mike Miller, Kyle Korver, Steve Blake, Brad Miller, Brent Barry, Kirk Hinrich, Mike Dunleavy Jr., David Lee, Luke Walton, Troy Murphy and Matt Harpring. Wow. That's an, er, complete roster. Completely gak-tastic. The starting five would be Kaman (center), Brad Miller (at the four-spot), Mike Miller, Korver and Hinrich, with Harpring as the sixth man.