With talk about the Great Free Agent Summer of 2010 reaching a fever pitch, it seemed as if half the teams across the league had begun shedding payroll in hopes of joining the LeBron Sweepstates. A few carefully chosen words from King James could have calmed the hornets nest. Instead, LeBron grabbed a nearby stick and started whacking the hornets next while screaming "nanny nanny boo boo!" Said James: "If you guys want to go to sleep right now and not wake up until July 1, 2010, then go ahead because it’s going to be a big day. It's probably going to be one of the biggest days in free-agent history in the NBA." Oh yes he most certainly did.
The majority of the media was content to, at most, give LeBron a tiny slap on the wrist for seemingly displaying a general lack of loyalty to his team and his team's city. Not Chuck Barkley. He took a jackhammer to the King's wrist. Said Sir Charles: "If I was LeBron James, I would shut the hell up. I'm a big LeBron fan. He's a stud. You gotta give him his props. I'm getting so annoyed he's talking about what he's going to do in two years. I think it's disrespectful to the game. I think it's disrespectful to the Cavaliers." Here, here, Chuck! I couldn't agree more.
The elevator in Chris Bosh's condominium: Bosh made it to Air Canada Centre with less than an hour before the Raptors' game against the Hawks, but at least he had a good excuse: he spent 50 minutes trapped in an elevator at his downtown condo. Bosh said the car stopped, trapping him and two strangers, just after he got on at the 28th floor. Of his brief time in captivity, Bosh said: "I sat and reflected on life and just chilled." How very Zen-like. Note that Bosh said he tried to force the door open, but totally failed. "I tried my superhuman strength but it wasn't opening." Two words, Chris: weight room.
The Thunder's franchise-record losing streak: Mike Miller hit the game-winner with 0.1 seconds left as the Timberwolves sent the Thunder to a franchise record-tying 14th straight loss. That's some historic suck, right there. Said Kevin Durant: "It's definitely frustrating when you lose at the buzzer. It doesn't matter if you're not on a win streak. Any team would hate to lose like this." Yeah. But especially when the phrase "franchise-worst losing streak" is stamped on the loss, right Kevin?
Record-setting home cookin': During the Lakers 114-107 win over the Mavericks, L.A. recorded a mere eight fouls, the fewest by the franchise since it moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles for the 1960-61 season. The previous low was nine (which happened on March 28, 1973, at Golden State). The Mavericks became the second straight Lakers opponent that didn't attempt a free throw in the first quarter. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.
Knicks versus Warriors -- a.k.a. The Night Defense Died: The 138-125 shootout was everything you'd expect from two utterly defenseless teams. The Knicks set a Madison Square Garden record for most first-half points (82), Chris Duhon had a franchise-record for assists (22), and David Lee had career highs in points (37) and rebounds (21). It was the first 30-20 game in regulation for a member of the Knicks since Patrick Ewing had 36 points and 21 rebounds against Philadelphia on January 23, 1994. How bad was it? Well, at one point, Lee alley-ooped to himself on the fast break. No, really.
Said Golden State's Jamal Crawford: "They had 82 points at half, so that's a lot." Yes, Jamal, that really is a lot, isn't it?
Ramon Sessions, defensive poster boy: Por Ramon. He became one of he earliest recipients of LeBron's monster at-the-basket swats.
Andre Miller's broken ankles: This catastrophic injury took place at the hands of Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose. But it was a veteran fall. Or was it...a veteran fail?
The end of Starbury's wedded bliss with the Knicks: Stephon Marbury -- the 2007-08 runaway winner of my Least Valuable Player award -- stunned the world by announcing that his "marriage" with the New York Knicks is over. Yeah. That's like walking in on your father banging the maid on your mother's corpse and then having him calmly explain that daddy and mommy won't be living together anymore: you probably had that one figured out already. Here's some of the choice quotage from Starbury's exclusive interview with the New York Post. Better sit down with a big box of Kleenex. This one's a tear-jerker of epic proportions.
"I sat there for three weeks and didn't say one word. I didn't hear one of my teammates say, 'Why isn't Stephon Marbury playing? This is a good system for him, even to play with the second unit and bring more firepower.'
"When things got bad and then worse, guys like Quentin Richardson say, 'I don't consider him a teammate. He let his teammates out to dry.' He didn't care I was his teammate when I was banished. They left me out for dead. It's like we're in a foxhole and I'm facing the other way. If I got shot in the head, at least you want to get shot by the enemy. I got shot in the head by my own guys in my foxhole. And they didn't even give me an honorable death.
"Mike [D'Antoni] had no intentions of me playing basketball here. He gave me straight disrespect. It was beyond disrespect. He put in (Danilo) Gallinari, whose back is messed up and (who) didn't participate at all in training camp ahead of me (in the season opener). That's saying, 'I'm letting you have it right now.' He was sticking it to me. He knew I was in my contract year and did everything they asked me to do. He's not trying to help me. He's trying to hurt me."
Bob Delaney, David Guthrie, Gary Zielinski: Things got a little wacky in Boston when the Celtics hosted the Orlando Magic and the refs demanded that everyone respect their authori-tah. I'll let Basketbawful reader Garron take this one: "The officiating crew last night was weird. The calls were fine, but technicals were everywhere. Eight were called in total, four by referee Bob Delaney. In fact, during a timeout Delane called a double technical on Sam Cassell, who was just sitting at the end of the bench and had to be sent out. Then during the next timeout there was a technical called on Rondo...in the MIDDLE of a timeout while Rondo was in the huddle. Other weird technicals were called on Stan Van Gundy (for arguing a call) and Rashard lewis who, after making a very difficult behind the backboard circus shot, pumped his fist in the air."
When asked why he received his technical, Rondo said: "I don't know. Everyone got a technical." Added Doc Rivers: "This was one interesting game. A lot of technicals. I better be quiet before I get a technical." Now, regarding Same Cassell...
Sam Cassell amazing technical fouls: Sam I Am did not appear in a single game during the 2008-09 campaign, which means he finished the season with more technicals (2) and ejections (1) than minutes played (zero). During Boston's December 1st game against Orlando, he was bounced from the bench for complaining about a foul that David Guthrie called on Perkins. Said Rivers: "I told him he took a bullet for me, because I thought it was on me and I wasn't saying anything, so I was upset. I think they were trying to clean the game up. There was a lot of complaining going on. Unfortunately, when that's happening, the first guy who talks gets the tech. And Sam was that guy."
Ron Artest, video blog superstar: Anything involving Ron Artest really has to be seen to be believed. So, you know, watch this.
Kenyon Martin, word-eating machine: Owned. Owned. Owned. Let me say it again. Owned. As Basketbawful reader Raza put it: "Since K-Mart said after the Nuggets beat the injury-riddled Spurs the classic quote "I don't let Tim do what he wants to do. Never have and never will," I was hoping you guys would bring up Duncan's stat line tonight (21 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 blocks, and a steal) to go with that idiotic quote." Consider it done, Raza.
Miki Moore, awesome quote machine:Best quote ever: "Would you let someone go into your house, smack your wife around, make a sandwich and change the channel on your TV? We're disgusted with ourselves." If you need me, I'll be making love to this quote for the rest of the day. Thank you.
Big Crybaby: After Boston's starters had built a big lead at home against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Boston reserves sort of let the Blazers back into the game. During a timeout, Kevin Garnett grabbed Glen Davis by the arm and gave him a little ear candy, after which Davis sat on the bench with a towel over his head trying not to cry. Trying...and failing.
This is how Baby explained it: "I'm not embarrassed. I'm not embarrassed at all. I'm emotional about the game. That's one of my best features -- being emotional, playing out there with passion. Sometimes it's not always good passion. Sometimes it's bad, but that's just me being young. You have to learn how to funnel that emotion and keep it inside until you put it out. We had to call a timeout because of the lack of intensity we were bringing on the floor. And I was mad at myself that I had a big part (in that). I feel like I have a big part of funneling the defense and bringing the energy to the time. I held myself high and my teammates held me high and accountable for that. I'm just an emotional player, man. I kind of catch myself wanting to be perfect a lot, and I can't be perfect, so I kind of get upset with myself. I am an emotional guy. It's one of my upsides and my downfalls, you know?"
And this is what Doc Rivers had to say on the subject of crying: "If you took a charge in my career from (Charles) Barkley, you probably cried afterward." Awesome. Too bad Baby didn't take a charge from Sir Charles.
Al Harrington and Chris Duhon, last-second choke machines: The Knicks were down 3 points to the Hawks in Atlanta, but they had the ball and a chance to tie things up in the final seconds. Naturally, they failed in a typically embarrassing (read that: Knick-like) fashion: After a timeout, Harrington eschewed an open shot to drive and kick it out to Duhon, who himself passed up an open shot and shoveled it back to Harrington, who was had forced to rush up a last-second three that wasn't even close. It was a classic case of NBA hot potato, where nobody wanted to take the final shot. Check it (at the 1:57 mark):
Duhon admitted afterward that he should have taken the shot. "I just hesitated. I saw them coming at me real fast. For whatever reason, I just didn't shoot the ball. I should have shot the ball. It was a great play." Harrington also suffered some post-game non-shooter's remorse: "It was designed for me to catch and shoot. It was a great play, because I was open. I don't know, I just, when I turned and looked, I didn't feel comfortable enough so I tried to get it to somebody else." Fail.
Derrick Rose and the Apple of Doom: Rose was forced to miss a non-game-day practice after cutting himself under the elbow on his left forearm. In bed. From a knife he used to slice an apple. Said Rose: "Silly accident this morning. I went to get a bottle of water, forgot the knife was there and sat down and sliced my arm. I panicked when it first happened. I called [Bulls trainer Fred Tedeschi]. We got it stitched up about 8 [a.m.]. It was a large wound, but they healed it up. I'm good. I could have practiced, but they told me to wait until [today]. I can still dribble, shoot, do all that stuff. I'm hoping they'll let me play."
Of course, a lot of people wanted to know what "really" happened, since Rose's story sounds too bizarre to be true (kind of like the time I got run over by a horse while riding my bike). But, in my experience, it's the weird stories that totally ARE true. And Rose isn't worried about what other people think. "It's the truth, so I'm not worried about [people not believing him]. I called my mom, and she was like, what are you doing? It was just a freak accident. I was very scared. I'm going to get somebody else to cut [the apple]. I'm not cutting it no more." Ah, to live in a world where, after a freak apple-cutting accident, you can respond not by simply being more careful next time, but by hiring someone to peel apples for you for the rest of your life. Awesome.
The Incredible Darko: This was one of the truly great moments of the 2008-09 season. I'll let some Basketbawful readers set this up. First, Brian S. said: "One minute, 24 seconds into the game, WHILE THE ANNOUNCERS ARE SAYING HOW WELL HE GUARDS YAO, Darko has committed 2 fouls and is now out of the game. He can't even do well during the one minute and 24 seconds people are talking nicely about him." Then Quinton A. said: "DUDE!!!! MILICIC!!!! JERSEY!!!! Just coming out of halftime, Darko picked up his fourth foul gaurding Yao, which he responded to by promptly getting a tech then going to the bench and ripping his jersey straight down the middle, Serbian Superman style." Oh yes he most certainly did.
Darko finished with 5 points, 5 rebounds, 5 fouls, and two jersey halves in 10 minutes. Although Victor correctly pointed out that: "Poor Darko. That's 15 and 15 if you extrapolate to 30 minutes!" He only needed more time. Alas. Also, Trev provided the following graphic, which he found on SpursTalk.com: The Incredible Darko. You wouldn't like him when he's angry. Or, frankly, any other time.
I'm Gay (For Gilbert Arenas): How does something like this even happen?
Devin Harris and the Great Stat Curse of 2008: Devin Harris was so flipping happy about the Nets' 11-8 record that he uttered words that would soon become infamous on this site: "We knew we were going to be a playoff team." Oh Devin...it was still early December and your team was only three games above .500. It might have been a little early to be talking about the postseason.
Vince Carter: Mr. "Stab 'Em In The Back" tormented his former team earlier in the season, only to completely fall apart the next time he faced them: 3 points on 0-for-13 shooting. It was the worst shooting performance of his career and the first time that he failed to make a shot from the field when playing at least 10 minutes. "Fail" doesn't quite do this event justice does it?
Vinsanity pouted his way out of the postgame press conference, leaving his coach and teammates to make his excuses for him. Said Lawrence Frank: "Unfortunately, you have nights like that. It's just one of those things where they have everyone in the paint, so they're giving you the jump shot. It's not just him. We couldn't buy a shot." Added Devin Harris: "He had a tough night. I know he probably takes this a little bit harder against his former team. We're all going to have those nights." Exactly. Everybody had a worst game of their career.
Elton Brand and the Philadelphia 76ers: When the Sixers spent ONE BEEEELION DOLLARS to acquire Elton Brand during the summer of 2008, they were supposed to challenge the Celtics for Eastern Conference supermacy. But by mid-December, the only "challenge" was their battle to reach .500. Then, as if to add more misfortune to the Sixers' season of woe, Elton Brand suffered a shoulder dislocation after attempting to block a shot by Bucks forward Luc Mbah a MouteLabia mud charm toucher. Brand went up, up, up and then fell down, down, down. Hard. The best part: he got whistled for the foul. Brand would play only six more games during the season. And, sadly, Philly ended up playing better WITHOUT him.
Toronto Raptors Bingo: Because their season really was this bad:
Mark Cuban: I just love when this guy suffers. His Mavericks fell victim to a classic "See what you lost" revenge game when Devin Harris exploded for for 41 points, 13 assists, and 3 steals. As a result, the Nets crushed Dallas 121-97. Here's video of the New Jersey fans chanting "Thank you Cuban!" when Harris was removed with 2:11 remaining.
And here, courtesy of Stephanie G, is a beautiful animated .gif of Mark's reaction:
Of course, in true Mark Cuban fashion, he had to try and get the last word: "I guess when you don't care about your own team you talk about someone on the other team, right? I guess that's what Nets fans are all about. I think the goal of everybody in New Jersey is to be a general manager. So I can understand why they want to share their expertise." Gee, Mark, that's pretty glib for a guy who ditched Steve Nash right before his back-to-back MVP seasons, then used the Nash money to give Erick Dampier a $73 million contract, traded Harris for the rapidly aging Jason Kidd, committed $32 million to DeSagana Diop in the summer of 2008, etc. I'm just sayin'...
Andrei Kirilenko: This was, by far, one of the most egregious flops of the season. I kinda hope his wife revoked that whole "once a year" deal based solely on this.
Kevin Fehr, Phil Robinson, Steve Javie: How is it that the three blind mice all missed this four-step travel by Thaddeus Young? HE TOOK FOUR FULL STEPS, GUYS. It wasn't even a close one. I mean, his first step was OUTSIDE the three-point arc. Don't take my word for it...
The New Jersey Nets: On December 29, the Nets dropped yet another home game, this time to the Chicago Bulls, a team that had lost seven straight on the road (and 14 of 17 this season) and hadn't won in New Jersey since 2001 (which totals 13 losses in a row there). The Nets -- who at that point were 5-12 at the Izod Center, the second-worst home record in the East behind Washington's 4-12 -- had then lost four in a row at home and seven of eight since Devin Harris' "We knew we were going to be a playoff team" proclamation. And they aren't dropping squeakers, either. During this stretch they've lost to the Wizards by 20, the Knicks by 12, the Raptors by 22, the Jazz by 11, the Rockets by 23, the Bobcats by 8 and now the Bulls by 13. You'll notice that four of those teams are sub-.500 (and three of them are VERY sub-.500). And the Bulls were without starters Drew Gooden and Luol Deng. Damn.
What does Vince Carter think about the New Jersey's home struggles" Said Vinsanity: "I try not to worry about it." Well, good. I'd hate for losing to be weighing on his mind or anything.
Celtics versus Blazers: One of the final games of 2008 had a circus-like quality to it. At one point, the Blazers had six players on the floor during the second quarter. They didn't notice it. The refs didn't notice it. KG sure noticed it, though. Didn't matter. Portland scored -- which'll happen when you have an extra-man advantage -- and was then assessed a technical foul. But, by rule, the basket they scored counted. Bizarre.
On top of that weirdness, we were treated to more superdickery from Garnett. First, he tried to elbow Travis Outlaw in the head after Outlaw flushed on him...
...then, a few plays later, he elbowed LaMarcus Aldridge. Twice.
That's a good way to end up on Santa's "Naughty List," KG.