Wade and Quinn
"Why is the insect talking to me?"

The Sacramento Kings: I love how the AP recap of this game is titled "Wallace, Bobcats beat short-handed Kings 104-88." Yes, the Kings were missing Kevin Martin (sick of how badly his team sucks) and Andres Nocioni (rabies), and then they lost Rashad McCants (who surprisingly scored 30 points) to an ankle injury late in the fourth quarter. But let's face it: This team was destined to lose no matter how many healthy bodies they had to throw at the Bobcats. When a team is stuck on 14 wins a few short days before the vernal equinox, it's long past the time for making excuses for their ongoing craptastrophe. Now, if you haven't read that Kings fan's open letter to Bill Simmons, you should. That's some serious fandom right there. I'm stunned, literally stunned, that someone could still feel that much well-reasoned passion for this pitiful squad.

Update! Ash Haque left the following comment: "So the Kings are now 0-28 games against Eastern conference teams, with games against New York and Philly left from that conference. If they go 0-30 they should get a season long Bawful award for getting shut out by an entire conference for a whole 82 game season." Done. There absolutely will be a special award given out should that happen.

Gerald Wallace: From dunkside: "In the Kings-Bobcats game, all 5 of the Kings blocks came against Gerald Wallace. And they came from 4 different Kings players. I wonder if it ever happened before that a team has at least 5 blocks by at least 3 different players and they are all against the same player. It's like a block gangbang or something. Don't get me wrong, I do like Gerald Wallace's game, but I found this funny (as in kinda weird), especially since he's pretty athletic so he should be harder to block than, say, Adam Morrison's shot." But there's a difference there. Opposing team's WANT Morrison to shoot, whereas they want to stop Wallace from doing it, so they're more likely to try and stuff Gerald than Adam.

DeSagana Diop: Dude has a serious, perhaps terminal case of Shaqnopsis. Diop airballed not one, but two straight free throws in a 4-minute span of the second quarter. He eventually did hit one (going 1-for-4 on the night), which elicited a frenzy of joy from the Charlotte crowd. He is now 5-for-24 at the line since becoming a Bobcat.

Heat-Celtics: No Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen or Dwyane Wade. I'm pretty sure that's not what ESPN envisioned when they scheduled this game for prime time. But hey, it went to overtime, so it was a good game. Right?

Bill Walker: Basketbawful reader Sturla is not a fan. "Meet Bill Walker, Suckmachine. He plays about 12 minutes against the Heat and his +/- is -24. Meanwhile Big Baby of all people is +27." Bill just needs more shots.

The Indiana Pacers: The Pacers clinched their fourth consecutive losing season by getting crushed at home by the Trail Blazers. (And trust me, the game wasn't as close as the final score indicates.) Indy has now dropped four straight games, the last three of which they've lost by a combined 47 points. So much for those dreams of a postseason appearance. Said coach Jim O'Brien: "We're quickly playing ourselves out of a playoff race is what it's coming down to. I would say the last three games it did not seem like we played with an urgency that the situation calls for. We as a group have to figure out why."

By the way, the Associated Press gets a wag of the finger in this entry for stating that the Pacers had clinched a "non-winning" season. Non-winning? That's still called losing, right? Or aren't we allowed to say that anymore? Maybe I won't say teams like Sacramento suck anymore. I'll just state that they provide extreme and consistent inward force. How's that?

The New York Knicks: They scored only 89 points and lost by 26 at home to a bad team that was missing an All-Star. They missed 15 of their 17 three-point attempts. They allowed the Nets to shoot nearly 60 percent from the field. Basically, it was an all-around failfest for the Knickerbockers. Said coach Mike 'Antoni: "It's very hard to point out one thing. I thought we were horrible in every facet of the game. We just didn't play." Not-so-random note: Larry Hughes scored 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting (i.e., he is who we thought he was).

The Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks got pounded 106-80 at home by the Magic last night, and, believe it or not, this is a team that's fighting tooth and nail to earn the East's final playoff spot. Or I thought they were anyway. Milwaukee is five games into their season-high six-game homestand...and they're 2-3 in that stretch. Coach Scott Skiles provided the following cryptic explanation for his team's latest stink bomb: "I think there's a lesson learned here for us. Most sporting events are over before they even start, based on the mind-set of the teams that are playing and the players that are playing in it." Translation: My players didn't try. And people wonder why Scott's teams turn on him. (I'm not saying he's wrong, either. Just that pro ballers don't like their deficiencies pointed out in honest ways.)

Update! Ramon Sessions or the refs (depending on your point of view): From Junior: "No comments about the play #7? For me it was goaltending, but since it wasn't called it, the play becames a ego-ectomy that Sessions will never forget and will think twice before trying a jumper in front of D12." That was a close one, so I can see why the refs blew it. (Unless, of course, it was a belated makeup call for that three-seconds violation from the Magic-Crabs game.) But, since the goaltending was allowed, then yeah, I'll go with the ego-ectomy.

The Memphis Grizzlies...or the refs? Rubes commented: "So I know it is easy to pick on the Griz. I fully expect them to be on the site each and every day. However they do not belong on your WotN list for blowing a 10-point lead at home to Denver. They played great and deserved the win, but the 4th quarter was decided by the refs. The best example is at the 2:06 mark when Balkman bear hugs Gasol. Foul? Haha of course not, it's a jump ball. Hopefully you can get video evidence." I could't. Anybody got our back on this one?

Chauncey Billups, quote machine: Regarding how his team managed to pull out a comeback victory over a 17-win squad: "Defense, like it always is. Just defense. Just grinding. Buckling down. Having pride." Note that the Griz scored 109 points by shooting close to 50 percent from the field and almost 60 percent from downtown. But I guess the Nuggets approach defense the way Shaq deals with foul shooting: They play it when it counts.

The New Orleans Hornets: A win's a win, I guess. But a 1-point home victory over the Minnesota Timberpups isn't exactly a confidence-builder. And mind you, the Hornets nearly lost this game. They were down a point until David West dunked one home with 12.6 seconds left. (Randy Foye missed a 17-footer at the buzzer.) Remember, this is a team with, essentially, a one-man bench (maybe a two-man bench)...and Peja Stojakovic has been out eight games with a sore back.

Timeout entertainment gone wrong: From the AP game notes: "A Hornets employee appeared to dislocate his ankle after using a trampoline to dunk a ball during a timeout in the third quarter. His left leg was folded under him as he landed awkwardly on padding below the hoop. His foot was turned sideways as he dangled his leg and he had to be helped off the court. Team officials said they could not discuss the injury because of privacy concerns." Update! There are some gruesome pictures available for you "Faces Of Death" types.

The Houston Rockets: The Pistons were missing Rip Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Allen Iverson -- although A.I. being out might have actually helped Detroit -- and it still took the Rockets two overtimes to get the win, despite a mega-game from Yao (31 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocked shots). Speaking of which, didn't Yao just miss a game with flu-like symptoms? Nice recovery...

Box score lulz: I couldn't help but notice that, in the Pistons-Rockets box score, Knee-Mac is listed as DNP-CD. That made me laugh for some reason.

Hubie Brown, unintentionally dirty quote machine: From Drake: "Hubie Brown can't seem to stay away from unintentionally dirty quotes. From last night's Rockets-Pistons game: '...he SPLITS it, and shoots it right in Scola's face' -- talking about a replay of Rodney Stuckey's drive to the hoop during overtime, but may very well be talking about a climatic scene in some gay porno. Hubie also had another gem in double overtime which I can't remember that well. It went something like 'he scored in his defender's face.'" Man, Hubie's hits just keep on coming. (Get it?) But you can't blame the guy. Remember, he was one of the first creatures to crawl out of the sea five billion years ago or whatever. I don't think God had invented homosexuality yet, so Hubie doesn't really know what he's saying.

The Philly defense: Clifton wrote in to say: "This shot from the Suns-Sixers game looks like pickup basketball defense at its finest to me. 'I thought he was your man!' 'Naw, man. I switched off of him when Backwards Hat Guy came in.'" He's not wrong. Check this out:

Sixer D

Actually, there wasn't much defense played at all in the Sixers-Suns game: Philly shot 55 percent and Phoenix shot close to 58 percent. But you've gotta love these quotes from the Sixers. Philly coach Tony DiLeo said: "We tried different defenses, zones, pick and roll defenses, and it just seemed like they were scoring every time. We just couldn't stop them." (Hey, Tony, which of those defenses were you guys playing in the picture Clifton sent in?) Added Andre Iguodala: "We just never got them out of rhythm. They just kept scoring and all their guys had it going, it seemed." Yes, it sure seemed alright.

Oh, and check out this tidbit from the AP game notes: "The Suns’ average of nearly 120 points per game since the All-Star break is the best in the NBA, nearly seven points better than any other team." You just know the author wanted to write "since Terry Porter got canned" instead of "since the All-Star break." Or maybe that's just me. Note also that the writer didn't mention how many points the Suns have been giving up in that stretch...

The Washington Wizards Generals: Beaten. Again. This time by the Clippers, who still are who we thought they were but, in this case, were lucky enough to play a home game against the Wicked Worst of the East. The Other L.A. Team shot nearly 60 percent from the field. I guess you can't really expect a bunch of millionaires on a 16-win team to "play defense" or "try to win winnable games" or anything like that. I mean, next thing you'll be asking for is the moon on a stick or mega-corporations that aren't run by hordes of rich and unscrupulous douchebags. In other words, the impossible. Random quote from a reader: Sturla emailed in to say: "Who gets blown out by the Clippers in the fourth quarter by 15 points?"

Oh and hey, Basketbawful reader Andy had this to say: "Thought I'd highlight this bit from the Wizards-Clippers sucktacular (which I'm privileged enough to get on CSN): 3rd quarter, Andray Blatche is dribbling right side just past the half court line and goes behind his back, faking his defender big time. However, he proceeds to bumble his dribble around for a few seconds before throwing a lazy, crosscourt, underhand pass which is easily intercepted. Clippers going the other way throw an alley-oop to Eric Gordon, who lets it slip harmlessly between his fingers for another turnover. The Clippers also get an extra dose of suck for letting Antawn Jamison look like Magic Johnson out there in the first quarter, throwing a no-look pass and getting 4 assists (he averages 1.9 on the year). The Wizards also look like they're afraid getting anywhere near Steve Novak, who has at least 6 threes so far, only one of which I've seen contested in any way." NBA action. It's FAN-tastic.

Al Thornton, quote machine: Regarding teammate Steve Novak, who nailed six triples against the Wizards Generals: "Novak is like a video game. His shot is a beautiful thing to watch, and I am definitely surprised he is left open and unguarded so much." Al was later rumored to have made sweet, sweet love to Novak's shooting hand.

Lacktion report: Chris provided the following spoonful of lacktion to help the bawful medicine go down.

Heat-Celtics: Yakhouba Diawara took home a 3.4 trillion prize from tonight's loss at the TDBanknorth Garden -- another case of an All-Lacktion selection living up to all the expectations!

Kings-Bobcats: Spencer Hawes' three bricks and lack of rebounds in a starting stint lasting over half the duration of the game (25:18!) led to one of the more staggering Voskuhls in recent memory, a 7:2 (fouling out with a turnover against two made free throws) despite a few positive stats.

Blazers-Pacers: Travis Diener missed once from downtown for a suck differential of +1 in 9:54.

Nets-Knicks: With the Nets devastating the Knickerbockers at their home court, Chris Douglas-Roberts had a 14-point slump participating in garbage time. So Maurice Ager served as a replacement human victory cigar for the night, taking a foul and a brick for +2 in 1:42.

The real story though was Cheikh Samb's reappearance in uniform after many weeks of uncertainty following the Clippers' dismissal of the All-Lacktion choice. In a brilliant return to unproductivity, he went all out for masonry in 3:34, bricking once on the shot clock and twice at the charity stripe for a well-earned +3. Welcome back to the Association, Mr. Samb!

Magic-Bucks: Francisco Elson eked out a Voskuhl for the Milwaukee M.A.S.H. Unit in an 11:34 appearance as starting big man, going 6:4 (five fouls and one giveaway against one made field goal and two boards).

Pistons-Rockets: Amir Johnson is starting to emerge as Detroit's favorite lacktator, tonight earning a 1.4 trillion .

Wizards-Clippers: Oleksiy Pecherov did get a rebound tonight, but that's not particularly relevant when he was busy wearing out his gamepad trying to knock out Glass Joe in Punch-Out after a 42-second Mario!
NBA.com standings fail: Rainier wrote in to say: "I didn't know the Wolves were second in the West...." Me neither. But NBA.com thinks so. I guess that's their reward for handing over Kevin Garnett to the Celtics last season.

ESPN.com front page fail: From Rob: "I just went to the ESPN NBA front page a couple minutes ago and I got kind of confused; the screen capture is attached. They corrected the error soon after, so I'm glad I got there in the nick of time." Take a look. It's funny. (Basketbawful reader -sEan also noticed this and emailed in to say: "Better signing for the Celtics: Stephon Marbury or Roger Federer? I'd say its a toss up.")

Kobe Bryant: Mamba stuffed Nermal into a box and tried to send her to Abu Dhabi.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
So the Kings are now 0-28 games against Eastern conference teams, with games against New York and Philly left from that conference. If they go 0-30 they should get a season long Bawful award for getting shut out by an entire conference for a whole 82 game season.

Blogger chris said...
Hey Bawful...did ya get those epic photos of Kings trinkets I scored last night? :D

As for how (some) Sacramento residents could still feel passionate for one of the most bawful teams this city has ever seen...well...one bawful NBA team absolutely is lightyears better than no NBA team, and they've had plenty of bawful before in the early years at Arco. The non-bandwagoners do know what it's like to watch an endless rebuilding loop.

Blogger Junior said...

no comments about the play #7?

For me it was goaltending, but since it wasn't called it, the play becames a ego-ectomy that Sessions will never forget and will think twice before trying a jumper in front of D12

Somebody, please, photoshop Thortnon and Novak using this picture:


Blogger Andy said...
Why the hell is that Von Wafer dunk #3? One of the lamest countdowns NBA.com has done in a while.

Blogger skr said...
Did anyone see the travel call on Louis Scola last night? It was either the 4th quarter or overtime, and he gets the ball at the free throw line, pump fakes to get his man in the air, and then doesn't realize that in order to get that call, he is going to have to actually shoot.

Instead he looks confused for a second, then jumps without shooting, lands back on the ground, and throws a pass to Yao while everyone on the floor and in the building looks like someone just farted right in their open mouths.

It was incredible.

Blogger stephanie g said...
During the Boston-Miami game everyone had to suffer through Mark Jackson's and Jon Barry's insipid arguments regarding Wade, Kobe, and Lebron (no CP3 love?) and whether or not the Celtics are a playoff team in the East without KG/Ray Ray/Powe. The bizarro statements came fast and furious. Probably the weirdest is that, in an attempt to defend LeBron's defensive prowess, Mark Jackson cited his shutting down of Joe Johnson in the playoffs last year. Maybe Marky Mark was in a parallel dimension last summer?

BTW, Mark Jackson should never appear on air without JVG.

I also have a funny Mark Jackson drinking game list I made...should I post it?

captcha: porkroom?!

Blogger John said...
re: Tmac

You can't have season ending surgery, you're benched!!!

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Ash Haque -- Updated.

chris -- Yes, as I mentioned over email. And I'm all for loyal support of your local teams. Basketball is entertainment, and even bad teams entertain. Winning is the cherry on the sundae, sure, but even bad teams need love.

Junior -- Added.

Zonker -- I second that. [Looks around hopefully.]

Andy -- Wasn't that the first dunk of Wafer's pro career? They probably included it for historical perspective.

skr -- Heh, yeah, that was awesome. I'd love to see the video, only all sped up with the Benny Hill music spliced in.

stephanie g. -- First off, "porkroom" has to be the best captcha ever. Second: "I also have a funny Mark Jackson drinking game list I made...should I post it?" Uh...YEAH I WANT SOME CHEESY POOFS!!

Blogger stephanie g said...
The Mark Jackson drinking game!

Take a shot if he says something along the lines of:

"He's a winner."

"He just gets it done."

"When his number is called he's ready."

"They just gotta come out and compete."

"Just because [Player A] is better than [Player B] doesn't mean he can't come out and outplay him."

"...and it's not even close."

"Momma, there goes that man."

"Excuse me, I have a meeting with the rim!"

"You're better than that!"


"Allen Iverson, pound for pound, is the best player in the game."

"Don't take your frustration out on the refs, take it out on the rim!"

"Come get in my poster!"


"That's a grown man move right there."

"He's a knockdown shooter."

"The best player has to set the tone for this team."

"When his number is called he's ready."

"...if you come out and compete anything can happen."

Down the entire bottle if he says:

"Kobe Bryant is the best player on the planet."

Blogger Junior said...
Wafer already did a Jordan-Like dunk from a FT during his Lakers time


from http://bolapresa.blogspot.com/

Blogger Basketbawful said...
John -- Exactly.

stephanie g -- You know I'm going to have to post this on the site, right?

Junior -- I know. I was just kidding, you know, like Wafer hasn't played enough to get a dunk. Maybe I'm just bitter I can't dunk.

Blogger stephanie g said...
I really don't recommend playing it though, you'd be in a coma by half time.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Major stat curse alert
Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade is aching to play a full season

Posted on the 18th, no less. The result: that very evening Wade misses the game against the Celtics.

In the name of the Miami Heat I would like to thank the Miami Herald for causing Wade to miss a game he could have helped the Heat win (they managed to go to OT without him). Joining the Heat in thanking the Herald are fellow Floridians the Magic, for whom a Celtic loss would have meant taking over the 2nd place in the Eastern Conference.

Well done, Miami Herald, hitting two teams with one stat curse.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
it was poor charlie bell (not ramon sessions) who ran into d12´s atom smasher

Blogger chris said...
stephanie g: Or about 6 minutes into the first quarter, right?

bawful: the sad thing is, fan support rarely is the factor that determines a team's survival, but more the motivations of ownership - which is why I knew the Sonics were doomed as soon as Clay Bennett bought the team, and why the Maloofs aren't exactly trusted here.

Their biggest doofus move of course was doing the "Look how rich we are" Carl's Jr. commercial right when they were asking the city's residents to throw tax money at a downtown arena for them...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The Pacers have 41 losses - 'non-winning' meaning that they still have a chance at a .500 record.

Blogger Drake said...
Re: the low-post player argument from the yesterday's comments.

Bad Dave:

It depends on what you mean by doing all 7 of those moves without traveling. Do you mean without being called by the refs for traveling, or do you mean without actually traveling according to NBA rules. And for the record, after reading the Truehoop report, I go with what the refs have decided to call traveling as: you two steps after you pick up the ball. And I believe that neither can be a pivot foot.

Remember the k-blaze tribute to Kevin McHale on youtube that was posted here a while ago? If you watch closely enough, McHale travels on plenty of his moves.

And here's Big Al against Yao Ming:


AFAIK, the step Al takes as he picks up his dribble is counted as the pivot foot. The jump-stop is counted as one of the two steps afterwards. So the following move is, I guess depending on how you look at it, legal because he takes only one more step after his jump-stop:


But his move in the first link is a travel, because he turns the jump stop into a pivot foot. My guess is that the refs allow it because:
a) Big Al's move was done so smoothly and without any trace of clumsiness. I honestly believe that refs call travels based on whether a move looks clumsy or not.
b) from the Truehoop report, what the refs have decide to call as legal steps doesn't gel with what's actually written in the rulebook. Can you really say, "look it up in the rules" anymore if no one actually follows the written rules?

As for the rest of the low-post player discussion:

I'd include Brad Daugherty pre-back injury/NASCAR team owner/NASCAR commentator in the discussion. The man had all the moves, including a sky-hook of sorts, but also had the distinction of being a whole lot bigger and stronger than most centers. He was one of the few players that Kevin McHale simply couldn't guard, because Daugherty would just use his size and strength to seal off Kevin, receive the ball, and drop in an easy deuce.

But the fact is most decent low-post player back then had a pretty good arsenal. Even also-rans like Mychal Thompson would bust out a decent-looking up-and-under every now and then. Low post moves nowadays from also-rans seem to consist exclusively of baby hooks and dunks . You'd think we would evolve to become better players with more moves as time goes one, but in some aspects, we actually devolved.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Drake -- In all fairness to McHale, he and Brad never really matched up before McHale started suffering his various foot and ankle injuries. McHale had to deal with big, strong guys in his early days (such as Darryl Dawkins). He couldn't overpower those guys, but he had a knack for using his arms to block their shot or annoy them into missing. Brad was a rookie the season that McHale broke his foot...and Kevin never was the same after that. He never really got his lift back.

Who knows? Maybe Daugherty would have had his way no matter what. But I wouldn't have liked to see him guarded by a spry and healthy McHale before I made my final judgement.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Just for the hell of it, I ran Brad and Kevin through Basketball-Reference.com's head-2-head finder. Unfortunately, that doesn't tell us what happened when the two guys were actually matched up against each other (if they even were). But McHale's first two games in the list are the only two he played against Brad's team BEFORE he broke his foot.

In the first game, McHale's line was: 31 points (11-for-22), 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocked shots. In the second, McHale scored 38 (15-for-25) to go with 10 boards, 3 assists and 5 blocked shots. The points and rebounds are just Easter eggs. My real point in quoting the numbers was to note Kevin's blocked shots. That was McHale's real defensive bread and butter.

I'm not saying he didn't block a shot after his injuries. He still had an uncanny sense of timing and those freaky long arms. But...well, let's face it...I just wanted to talk about McHale more.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Re: Low post argument from yesterday

Did Hellshocked really say that Olajuwan was a face-up-and-drive center? And that he was not a "grind it out center"? Really?

I'm not sure which Hakeem you saw playing in 94-95 or 95-96, but that guy camped out in the post, back to the basket, and either passed to an open Kenny Smith/Robert Horry/Sam Cassell/Whomeverelseyouwannaname for an open 3 or he used a post move and hit shots at a high percentage over Shaq/Robinson/Ewing/etc...

He was a TOTAL "grind-it-out" guy and, during those championship seasons, the best PLAYER in the NBA. All his team did was throw it to Hakeem in the hole and hang out behind the 3-point line.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Man, Federer's got some freaky arms.

Blogger Drake said...
I'd say McHale's bread-and-butter was more the threat of blocking shots than actually blocking shots: he never had more than 2.2 blocks per game, but he intimidated the player he was guarding with those freakishly long arms (and that mutant armpit hair). He's more in the vein of Tyson Chandler than Bill Russell or Hakeem as a defender - they weren't super great shot-blockers, but they were/are excellent positional defender who really knew how to move their feet and use their long arms. That's why McHale was assigned to cover the Boston Strangler, Andrew Toney.

That said, I'd agree with you Basketbawful: the man just wasn't the same after the 87 playoffs. I was thinking back to a game in 1991 or 1992, when McHale was a 6th man once again. He simply couldn't move quite the same by that point. I mean, he still had the same moves on offense and got easy buckets, but his lateral movement and hops were pretty lousy at that point. That really affected him on D.

Then again, since he's been described as Frankenstein's monster due to his freakishly-proportioned body parts, I guess it was only fate that he started moving like the monster nowadays as well.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
AK Dave:

Hakeem is my favorite center, supremely skilled and with agility that was off the charts. The guy had major skills and was THE dominant center in the NBA in his heyday. I never said otherwise. But the Hakeem I remember, muscular though he was, relied on his quickness and amazing shooting touch to give his opponents fits. When he caught the ball in the post against the players you mentioned, the first thing he would usually do is face them up and either take a soft jumper or drive to the hoop. His drive is what set up his dream-shake. If the guy was too slow, Dream would get to the rim. If the guy stayed with him, he would spin away, up-and-under or perform any of a number of ball fakes to keep his guy off balance.

Because so much of his offense was facing the hoop (keep in mind how often he turned to face his opponent once he'd gotten the ball in the post) I don't think he's the same kind of smashmouth post player as some of the other guys mentioned. This doesn't mean he's a lesser player than any of them (he's probably the best of them all), just different.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Look at how many of Dream's moves began with him facing the hoop. It's not a knock on him, this is one of the things that made him so devastating: his preference for facing up and his plethora of ball fakes meant other centers had no clue how to deal with him.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Drake -- I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with your assessment of McHale's shot-blocking ability. It, like so many things about McHale, are misunderstood by the general basketball-watching populace. McHale's averages are meaningless by themselves and have to be looked at within context.

For instance, Kevin never averaged double-digit rebounds. So I guess you could make the argument that he wasn't a dominant rebounder. But he was...when the Celtics needed him to be. He scored 40 or more points exactly twice in his career -- in back-to-back games in 1985 -- so I suppose you could argue that he wasn't an explosive scorer. But he was.

McHale wasn't utilized in the standard ways. His role was always changing, and he could do anything his coach wanted him to: Score, defend, rebound, block shots, whatever. That's why he was the ideal sixth man. Whatever wasn't working on a particular night could have a McHale-shaped Band-Aid slapped over it.

And mind you, McHale had seasons where he ranked up there in BPG. He was 15th in limited minutes in his rookie season (and 5th in block shot percentage). He was sixth in his second and third seasons. His ranking dropped in '84 and '85 because of his transition to (primarily) a scoring threat. But he was back to 11th in '86 and 7th in '87. His blocks dropped again in '88 because he was recovering from foot surgery and again in '89 because, with Bird out, McHale said he had to "restrain himself on defense" (that's from Peter May's "The Big Three") for fear of fouling out because the team was missing Bird (who was out after dual-Achilles' surgery) and had no depth. But he was back up to 12th in '90 and 10th in '91.

If McHale had been jammed into a standard PF role and was asked to block 4 shots per game, I guarantee he could have done it. But that wasn't how he was used. He twice blocked nine shots in a game, which is a Celtics franchise record (although only because blocks weren't recorded in Russell's day). He ranked highly among his contemporaries. It's just that sometimes he played 40 minutes, sometimes he played 20. Sometimes he defended the opposing center, sometimes the PF, sometimes the SF and sometimes even the SG.

He never led the league in scoring because Bird got most the shots. He was never a volume rebounder because he played with two other guys who were getting 10 boards a game. He never passed the ball because, well, he was a black hole. But make no mistake: Kevin McHale was one of those rare players who really could do just about anything at his position. And he did...when his team needed him to.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
hellshocked -- No, Hakeem wasn't the standard bulldozing center, and many of his moves were based on finesse and superior foot speed. But he certainly did have a back-to-the-basket game. It seems to me, if memory serves, that he was a little more grind-it-out during his early days. I'm gonna have to pull out my 1986 NBA Finals DVDs and give them another whirl.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Of course Hakeem had a back to the basket game, and he was physically stronger than most centers too. The Dream I remember though (late 90s as I'm an NBA youngster who was barely alive in 1986) rarely pound-pound-pounded his way into a shot, he relied more on quickness and finesse.

I don't think either bulldozing or finessing is inherently better or worse than the other. When the Rockets needed a basket, Hakeem got it and that's all that matters. I've just always felt he was more of a modern hybrid than an old school post-up man.

Blogger Drake said...
^ Good points all around. But I guess I didn't flesh out my whole explanation.

McHale and Tyson Chandler both have the ability to block a lot of shots, but I'd say they simply choose not to go all out for the sake of defensive fundamentals. I think Chandler was quoted as saying that he only needed to be a threat to block shots, and that he chose to stay more grounded in order to prevent his man from pump-faking him and going around for an easy dunk or layup.

In other words, it's what separates Chandler from the likes of, say, Marcus Camby. So my point is that while McHale certainly had the ability to block as many shots as he wanted to (no doubt about it), he chose reign this ability in a bit for the sake of staying in front of his man. At least, that's the impression I got from watching him play D.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
hellshocked -- Yes. Hakeem was part of the new wave, a center with finesse and ball-handling skills.

Drake -- Ah, well, it appears I misunderstood you before going into McHale Rant Mode. I agree with what you're saying.

Blogger Drake said...
Speaking of hybrid centers, the original hybrid center was Bill Russell. Whenever he corralled a rebound off a miss or a block, he was a threat to go coast-to-coast all by himself as a one-man fast break. If I recall correctly, Wilt also had that ability, but wasn't quite as quick or fast as Russell was.

Of course, it helped that a good chunk of the players smoked back then, and probably didn't have the endurance to run that much or that fast.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I think it's a falacy saying that elite centers before Hakeem used to bulldoze their way. I started watching the NBA in the early 90's but I watched some older games when I got the chance. From what I saw and what I remember there weren't that many centers to back down their defender for 20 seconds before taking a shot.

There are 2 elite players that used to do this that come to mind and only one of them is a center: Shaq and Barkley. I think Shaq has somehow been pushed as the prototypical back-to-the-basket center, but that's hardly true.

Before Shaq and before Hakeem and Robinson there was Kareem who is famous for his sky hook, not for bulldozing people. So a finesse move.

Now when I started watching the NBA I got to see an era so rich in elite centers that when you look back it seems surreal. I got to see playing at the same time in the league (although some of them were in their prime or a little past it and some were still young) Hakeem, Ewing, Robinson, Mutombo, Shaq and Zo. That's 6 elite centers. And there were some other centers who would now be top 3 in the league easily, when then they were just decent/good. Now they vote PF as C in the All Star Game as there aren't enough centers worthy of it.

Of all these elite centers none other than Shaq was the bulldoze people over type of player. Of course if they had a smaller defender on them they'd push him and take advantage of it. That's smart basketball. But that wasn't their only move.

Ewing had a decent mid range J, Robinson was uber athletic and liked to use his quickness and explosion, Zo was undersized so he had to rely on hooks and J's to score, Mutombo wasn't much of an offensive player and Hakeem was the ultimate offensive machine.

I think the meaning of playing "back to the basket" was somewhat distorted. I think a traditional center is the one that prefers to get the ball in the paint or close enough to the basket that he'd only need one dribble to go to the rim. And this is what all these guys did. They pushed their opponents so they get better position and got the ball with their back to the basket. Even if after getting the ball they turned and faced the opponent, they got the ball with their back to the basket and could score with a hook - thus not facing the basket. Pretty much no one scores with his back completely turned to the basket.

The new kind of center became more popular with the influx of european players. European centers often can shoot the 3 ball (from Sabonis to Okur). Little by little more and more centers started to prefer getting the ball farther away from the basket while facing the basket and instead of going to the rim they'd shoot a J.

These guys don't like to back down people to get better position, don't like to get the ball with their back to the basket, don't have a hook shot. But they do have range on their J. Yet this keeps them out of the paint reducing opportunities for layups/dunks and offensive rebounds.

Again, I think the idea that centers used to bulldoze their way to the basket is a result of watching Shaq as a dominant center for so many years. Apparently his fat ass has its own gravitational field that can distort reality and the trajectory of small asteroids.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Dunkside - I get much of your point. However, I argue with the way you kind of exchanged "back to the basket" with a one-dribble guy. You make the statement that Shaq and Barkley were the back-downers, and I agree with that. They almost started that painful, ungainly reverse lumber that resulted in a facial of some sort.

Many of those elite center caught the ball with the back to the rim, and then did one of those awesome moves (mentioned yesterday). They just didn't take 15 seconds or longer to take their move.

Also, IMHO Zo doesn't belong on that list. He's a tier down, with Rik Smits and a few others. He was quite good, but never unstoppable like the others. I'll let one of the stat nerds on this site back me up or prove me wrong. But overall I agree about the center quality that doesn't exist today.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Dunkside: We (or at least I) didn't mean bulldoze in the pound it for 20 seconds then shoot because they have no other moves kind of way. I just used it to differentiate Hakeem from centers who would operate mostly with their back to the basket and face up when it is what the defense gave them.

The whole discussion started because I said yesterday I didn't consider Robinson or Olajuwon (and I'd add Ewing into the mix, his name never came up) "classic" post-up players like Wes Unseld, Kevin McHale, etc because they prefered to begin their offense by facing up their man once they had the ball.

I'll admit the Shaq effect is powerful (though Mourning was most definitely a pound-pound-shoot player and Mutombo never had much of a post game) and that players have never really been 100% back to the basket/knock their defender over, but I think there's a difference between a center who begins most of his half court attacks with his back to the basket and one who begins most of his by facing his man. The moves that are available to each are completely different.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I know it's late, but can we start an official Love Mayo watch?

Since AnacondaHL lambasted me for saying that Love is a good player and MAY POSSIBLY be a "better pick" than OJ Mayo, Love has been playing up to his draft status. Last night he had 21 and 11, and that isn't all that much of an anomaly these days. The big surprise is that he ONLY got 11 rebs.

(although, honestly, to even compare the two is ludicrous given their contrasting strengths and weaknesses- it's almost like comparing a 3/4 ton pickup to a sports car...)

I mean, if we have a Yao watch (and he's playing well considering his injuries and such this year), and a Greg Oden watch, why not a Love Mayo watch? (I just like saying "Love Mayo"- :D)

word verification- barbuds


Anonymous Anonymous said...
Wow we got a nice Center debate going. In regards to bulldozing vs. finesse I wanna show 2 vidoes


This is a 53 point game Shaq had as a member of the magic. He made it look easy. He either dunked, rebounded then dunked or just turned around on Laettner and put it up. He had a few jump hooks as well


This is a 50 point game Alonzo Mourning had. Zo too had a lot of dunks but he did his damage with hooks. He was also rewarded by Hardaway by running up court and getting easy lay-ups. Zo was an amazing running center

so watch carefully and compare. I chose these 2 because I feel they are somewhat rare. These are two very different forms of dominance but dominance nonetheless.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
By the way all, this has been the best discussion in a long time. I've enjoyed debate w/o the hate.

Let's all get together and manlove it up. No pictures though. I can't top my claim to fame with the pic that's already on this site.

I've never dug Shaq in the post. At least Barkley had to work for it. Shaq just threw his weight around. And what the most disappointing thing about Shaq is that he hasn't evolved over his career. The really great players changed as their bodies aged. Malone learned to shoot a killer 16 footer. MJ learned the turnaround (a new weapon from the wipe-and-drive). Hell, McHale started shooting 3s (and really well!). Can anyone name one thing that Shaq does now that he couldn't in the second year of his career?

Since the center debate is still going on here...

Here is a little video from a while ago of Hakeem:


Anonymous Anonymous said...
It really has been a fun discussion. I don't get a chance to talk basketball beyond "Dude cheer up, the Lakers lost!" very often, and its kept me from focusing TOO much at work which is always a good thing.

Zo is one of the best running centers I've seen both on offense and defense. He would run his way into easy baskets then run back before his man got there and kept him from getting position easily. His offensive repertoire was limited (half hooks and jumpers basically) but he always fought, scraped and battled his way into at least 20 points. To me he's that rarest of players, the kind that has somehow managed to be both overrated and underrated.

As for Shaq...the guy is an athletic freak. One of the strongest, most agile players in the history of the league. You're right though: his awareness has improved drastically but his game hasn't evolved at all since his second year. When he came in he could shoot a few turnaround jumpers and fade-aways. As he got bigger and bigger he realized he didn't have to as he could just push people back and dunk on their face. He has never been my kind of player but I can't fault him for playing to his strengths. I can certainly fault him for being an egomaniacal underachieving loudmouth who complains about Stan Van Gundy having ridden his coattails when he himself has asked for trades out of Miami and Phoenix when the going got tough, however.

Blogger Unknown said...
Update! Ramon Sessions or the refs (depending on your point of view): From Junior: "No comments about the play #7? For me it was goaltending, but since it wasn't called it, the play becames a ego-ectomy that Sessions will never forget and will think twice before trying a jumper in front of D12." That was a close one, so I can see why the refs blew it. (Unless, of course, it was a belated makeup call for that three-seconds violation from the Magic-Crabs game.) But, since the goaltending was allowed, then yeah, I'll go with the ego-ectomy.

that was charlie bell not ramon sessions by the way

Anonymous Anonymous said...
do we keep this discussion going here or move it in the comments of a more recent post ?

regardless, i am a big fan of zo. in no way is he just another rik smits. the guy managed to hold his own in an era ruled by elite centers despite being severely undersized (at 6'10 he was giving up 2-4 inches since all other centers were at least 7 ft tall).

he was not an offensive monster, but he put up 20-10 or around that. however it was his ferocity on D that won me over. the guy didn't know how to quit.

watch the 2006 finals, game 6 and tell me who was the better center: shaq or zo ? who wanted it more ? who played harder ? the guy who took half a season off to rest, or the guy with a kidney transplant ?

when his knee got blown out he refused to be carried on a stretcher wanting to make his last exit from the court on his own feet. that's old school toughness. you just know he threw up in his own mouth when he saw shaq take a dive.

one other thing about zo: maybe he would have become more dominant had he not gotten ill. he got diagnosed with focal glomerulosclerosis just when he was about to turn 30. if this happened to hakeem, the 93-94 and 94-95 seasons when he had his most dominant seasons wouldn't have happened. he'd remain in history as a really good center, but we would have missed the best he had to offer. i'm ont saying that zo would have reached hakeem's level, but i think he was about to take his game to a higher level. he was 2nd in voting for mvp in '99 and had he been healthy in a weak east it's easy to imagine he could have lead the heat to the finals and won the mvp (say instead of iverson in 2001).

so, baddave, show me some love for zo. the guy totally deserves it, i promise you.

hellshocked - unfortunately i didn't have access to the nba till the early 90's and even if i would have, i would have probably been too young to watch (or at least remember wes unseld and mchale). but from what i saw on highlight mixes of mchale, a lot of time he either took a dribble to start his move, he pivoted a lot, he did the up and under move (which requires you to face the basket at one point) and shot hooks.

the thing is that unless you have really deep position in the low post, to score you can take a jumper, a way too long hook that would give your coach a coronary or you have to get closer to the basket. this means that you either back down you opponent, or you have to face the basket and take a dribble or 2.

but since i haven't seen those guys play, i can't compare them with the likes of hakeem. in any case, it seemed to me hakeem played a lot more with his back to the basket than robinson did. hakeem may have turned and faced the opponent as soon as he got the ball, but this was just to set up his move: a drop step, a spin move, the shake, a huge array of pump fakes etc. he started facing the opponent, but he usually had his back turned to the basket before taking his shot.

"Can anyone name one thing that Shaq does now that he couldn't in the second year of his career?"

swallow fully grown adult coyotes in one gulp ?
influence the tide ?