Above all else, I am thankful for Ron Artest's hair.
I spent Thanksgiving weekend furiously celebrating the many things I'm thankful for. This blog. The people who read it. My disproportionately large manhood. Ron Artest's hair. And of course the fact that George Lucas will spend an eternity being tormented by the demons in Movie Hell for making Greedo shoot first in his updated version of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
So instead of the usual Friday-Saturday-Sunday breakdown, I'm going to do a quick hits Worst of the Weekend post where I actually comfort the weekend's biggest losers...reminding them about all they have to be thankful for.
Antoine Walker: Forced into retirement because no team wanted him. Arrested under suspicion of DUI. Arrested again for allegedly writing bad checks on gambling debts. Financial crisis. And just when you thought things couldn't get any worse: slumlord. Just goes to show you, Former Employee Number 8 wasn't only careless about his shot selection. But be thankful, Antoine, because you currently rank seventh all-time in three-point field goal attempts (4,264). So what if you only made 1,386 of them! After all, hitting 30 percent of your threes is as good as hitting 50 percent of your twos.
Ricky Rubio: Not only did he kinda-sorta sink the hopes and dreams of Minnesota fans, he participated in this nipple-revealing photoshoot. (Thanks to Geert for the link. I think.) But I'm sure that nipple fetishists everywhere are very thankful for Ricky's, er, modeling career.
The Cleveland Cavaliers: Sure, they lost to the Bobcats in Charlotte as Gerald Wallace (31 points, 14 rebounds, 3 steals) outplayed King Crab (25 points, 6 turnovers), but at least they got Shaq back! I'm sure him coming back and them losing is purely coincidental...
Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler: Boris looked fantastic when he was playing with Steve Nash. Tyson looked amazing when paired with Chris Paul. But against the Crabs, these two starters combined for 4 points, 6 rebounds and 9 fouls. But they are tall! And that is something you cannot teach.
The Miami Heat: The Heat suffered through a winless weekend, losing in Miami to the Washington Wizards Generals (who had been 1-6 on the road going into the game) and the Boston Celtics. The Heat are now only 6-5 at home. But at least they have a home.
The Philadelphia 76ers: Like the Heat, Philly endured a double dose of fail, dropping a home game to the Hawks (100-86) and a roadie to the Spurs (97-89). But remember: they stole Elton Brand away from the Clippers back in the summer of 2008. (If you can call overpaying him by about $30 million "stealing." In related news, Brand missed both games with a sore right hammy.) And if that's not enough to be thankful for, the Sixers are mulling over the possibility of unretiring the recently retired Allen Iverson! It's not often a superstar gets the chance to disappoint the same franchise twice. Let's king our fingers crossed that this happens.
The Boston Celtics: Rajon Rondo may hitting only 38 percent of his foul shots, and Rasheed Wallace might be shooting a dismal 28 percent (27-for-96) from three-point range, but back-to-back wins over the defenseless Craptors and the struggling Heat should make everybody forget about those things. For now.
Update! Dan B. e-mailed in another reason we should be thankful for 'Sheed. Quotes like this one about Hedo Turkoglu: "They've got to know that he's a damn flopper. That's all Turkododo do. Flopping shouldn't get you nowhere. He acts like I shot him. That's not basketball, man. That's not defense. That's garbage, what it is. I'm glad I don't have too much of it left."
Ray Allen: 'Sheed's misguided long-distance shooting has been pretty good camouflage for Ray Allen's brick-a-rama. After Sunday's 1-for-7 three-point bonk-a-palooza against the Heat, Jesus Shuttlesworth is knocking down only 30 percent (22-for-73) of his treys. So Ray-Ray should be thankful that Wallace is taking all the heat on this front.
Rajon Rondo: This is about the worst possible play a team could ask for from their supposed All-Star point guard...but damn if it didn't make me gigle. Thank you for that, Rajon.
Paul Pierce: The Truth may have come off as a classless thug by kneeing Chris Bosh in the man region and then giving him the stink eye...
...but that dunk had grace and power! It had me jumpin' outta my seat! (Please tell me somebody recognizes this reference to NBA Live 2007. Please.)
The Indiana Pacers: Their 113-92 home loss to the Dallas Mavericks was Indy's fifth loss in six games -- and the sole win in that stretch was at home versus the Clippers -- but the Pacers do play in the same city as Brad's Brass Flamingo, home of the $10 lap dance. Strip club connoisseurs will realize what a great value that is.
The New York Knicks: Sunday's 114-102 loss to the Magic in New York dropped the Bricks to 3-14 on the season (including 1-8 in Madison Square Garden). But when they lost 128-125 in Denver, they gained a little notoriety. Carmelo Anthony scored a career-high 50 points against them, which means "two of the last three 50-point games have come against the Knicks (Anthony, Dwyane Wade last season) and four of the last 10 such games have come against the Knicks, dating back to Kobe Bryant and LeBron James' performances at Madison Square Garden last season." People of New York rejoice! People love playing against your beloved Bricks! Rejoice I say!
The Minnesota Timberwolves: When the Suns blistered them 120-95 at home on Friday night, the Timberwolves dropped their 15th straight game following a season-opening 2-point victory over the still winless New Jersey Nyets (more on them later). It marked the second-longest fail streak in franchise history, leading rookie Jonny Flynn to lament: "Losing is like a form of depression. It wears on you and it drains energy out of you. You can see it all on your face. I think tonight it really started getting to us."
Well, apparently it got to them in a good way! The Denver Nuggets had won 11 straight against Minny and 17 straight at home. On Sunday, Carmelo Anthony dropped 19 on the T-Wolves in the first quarter, and the Nuggets led by 17 in the first half and by 14 at the break. But...the Timberwolves won 106-100! I really think this is the win that will turn the Minnesota's season around. Okay, not really.
The Memphis Grizzlies: They may have ended the weekend by choking away an 18-point lead, getting outscored 33-7 in the fourth quarter and losing 98-88 to the Los Angeles Clippers, but they started the weekend with a 106-96 road win over the Portland "Team of the Future" Trail Blazers. That's one more win than anybody probably expected the Griz to finish the weekend with.
Mike Dunleavy Sr.: He sucks and we all know it...but he still became the 21st coach in NBA history to win 600 games thanks to back-to-back wins over the injury-plagued Pistons and the Iverson-free Grizzlies. They can take his pride, his dignity and even his job. But they can never, ever take that away from him. Ever.
Oh, and as Wild Yams pointed out: "According to basketball-reference.com Mike Dunleavy may be "celebrating" another coaching milestone as soon as this week, as he is only two losses shy of 700 for his career. Go Mike go!"
The Portland Trail Blazers: Their winless weekend may have consisted of an ugly, double-digit home loss to the Grizzlies and an uglier, double-digit road loss to the Jazz, but they are so young that they could still be the Team of the Future two or three seasons from now! Eventually, their present is going to catch up with their future, and the NBA had better watch out when that happens.
Greg Oden: His 9 personal fouls over the weekend boosted his league-leading total to 78...a full 10 fouls more than second-place Dwight Howard. Sure, it looks bad, and it kinda is bad, but at least he gets to lead the league in a category. How many players can say they ever led the league in any one category? I know, right?!
(Actually, Oden also currently leads the league in FG% and total blocks. But still.)
The Atlanta Hawks: On Sunday, the Dirty Birds faced off against a Pistons team that was without Ben Gordon, Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. Detroit used a starting lineup of Jason Maxiell, Jonas Jerebko, the Mummy of Ben Wallace, Chucky Atkins and Rodney Stucky...and won! The Pistons owned the trenches, outrebounding Atlanta 53-27 and outscoring them 60-38 in the painted rectangle. The Mummy of Ben Wallace snared 18 boards, including 11 on the offensive end. By comparison, the Hawks as a team had 6 offensive rebounds. But on the bright side, Atlanta will continue to be overrated by fans and experts right up until their inevitable playoff elimination. And not many teams get to be overrated for a full season.
The Toronto Raptors: Their 113-94 home loss to the Phoenix Suns may have been their fourth straight double-digit defeat, but the Craptors rank 29th in Opponents PPG (109.1) and 30th in Defensive Rating (116.9 Points Allowed Per 100 Possessions), marking them as perhaps the worst defensive team in the league...quite a feat in a league with the Bricks and Warriors.
The New Jersey Nyets: Honestly, I'm not sure what the Nyets have to be thankful for at this point. That their genitals aren't on fire? That they aren't covered in crawling insects? That they aren't Clippers? And even those are all a bit of a stretch...because New Jersey's winless weekend -- which included a blowout loss to the Kings in Sacramento -- made it official: 0-17 to start the season, a.k.a. a tie (with the 1988-89 Miami Heat and the 1998-99 Los Angeles Clippers) for the worst start in NBA history.
Apparently, 0-16 finally trumped the 13-0 start to this coaching career, because Lawrence Frank was finally fired after the Nyets' loss to the Kings. And yeah, I'd say it was long past time for a reboot. Larry finished his coaching career with a record of 225-242...212-242 since his initial 13-0 surge, which holds the league record for "Greatest and Most Successful Dead Coach Bounce of All-Time."
By the way, Chris suggested via e-mail that this could still be part of the Devin Harris stat curse. Last season when the Nyets started out 11-8, Devin uttered this immortal line: "We knew we were going to be a playoff team." Of course, the Nyets then finished 34-48 and well out of the playoffs. And with this 0-17 start, New Jersey is now 23-57 since Harris' fateful prediction. For those of you who like math, that's a winning percentage of FAIL.
It's gotten so bad that even the soulless Kobe Bryant said: "You don't wish that on anybody. That's tough."
But I suppose the Nyets should be thankful they're "only" tied for the worst start ever. As long as they beat the Mavericks at home on Wednesday...
Update! Rafer Alston: Basketbawful reader Rainbow Brite provided a comment of thanks for this ego-ectomy of Rafer Alston. It's not shameful when, say, LeBron James swoops in from behind to swat your layup. But when Jordon freaking Farmar does it? You have failed, Rafer. You have failed.
Friday lacktion report: From Chris: "So Thanksgiving became the first day of the 2009-10 National Basketball Association season in which lacktion did not occur. That one-day vacation from vacuousness proved temporary however..."
Crabs-Bobcats: Delonte West ordered 2.45 trillion (2:28) in bling for the royal crustacean's entourage!
Hawks-Sixers: Zaza Pachulia gave the dirty birds a +2 suck differential in 4:27 via giveaway and foul, also counting as a 2:0 Voskuhl.
Raptors-Celtics: Sonny Weems made a significant fossil fuel find for a 2 trillion for the dinos, while Brian Scalabrine negated an assist in 2:08 with two fouls for a 2:0 Voskuhl.
Clippers-Pistons: Steve Novak continues to rack up the riches with a 2.05 (2:04) trillion that brings him to 7 trillioncombined in two straight games! Teammates Mardy Collins and Ricky Davis took some of Novak's new-found wealth to purchase a couple of Game and Watch collectors sets as 14-second Mario Brothers.
Spurs-Rockets: Theo Ratliff's stock options expired with a 1.05 trillion (1:04) return in capital gains, while fellow San Antonio resident Malik Hairston rode Yoshi briefly for a 19 second Mario.
Bucks-Thunder: Francisco Elson had a nationally-televised +1 via foul in 6:17, which also counted as a Madsen-level 1:0 Voskuhl.
Suns-Wolves: Jarron Collins earned two boards for Phoenix in 8:42, only to give up the rock once and foul twice for a 3:2 Voskuhl.
Nyets-Kings: Sean Williams made two blocks and two boards in 12:26, but bricked once and added a turnover and three fouls for a 4:2 Voskuhl.
Saturday lacktion report: Did I mention that I'm thankful Chris kept sending lacktion reports from vacation?
Bobcats-Generals: As Larry Brown took a break from begging the Canswer to return to his life as a professional SWAC, using some free time to coach Charlotte's basketball charlatans, he found his evening a relaxing and pleasant vacation from his current vocation due to the "matchup" against Washington. Gerald Henderson bricked once in 3:53 for a +1 suck differential, while DeSagana Diop joined the fray as a human victory cigar with a +2 via brick and foul in 2:41 that also counted as a 2:0 Voskuhl.
Mavs-Crabs: Matt Carroll did Mark Cuban proud by finding himself in a wonderland of wealth after a 2.8 trillion (2:47) takedown, while teammate Rodrigue Beaubois started a sloppy 9:14 stint with three bricks (one from the Terminal Tower) and a rejection for a +4. Darnell "Lacktion" Jackson did not live up to his name tonight by pinching out a needless assist, so fellow crustacean Jawad Williams stepped up to the plate and cooked a catch of 1.8 trillion (1:48).
Blazers-Jazz: Kosta Koufos provided celebratory tobacco for Jerry Sloan tonight, bricking once in 2:15 for a +1.
Magic-Bucks: Dan Gadzuric's starting appearance as Milwaukee's big man netted him a board in 4:01, but two bricks and four fouls led to a 4:1 Voskuhl.
Sunday lacktion report: And finally...
Hawks-Pistons: Joe Smith tossed an unmemorable brick in 4:48 for a +1 suck differential.
Suns-Raptors: As solar power put the dinos to extinction yet again, Robin Lopez gained enough garbage time to accrue negative stats, losing the rock four times in 6:26 and adding two fouls for a +6 that provided what appears to be an Association-leading Voskuhl ratio of 6:0!!!!!!!!
Grizzlies-Clippers: Steve Novak makes it three straight nights of lacktion by setting Tetris on turbo mode for a 9 second Super Mario!!!!!
Magic-Knicks: Brandon Bass used sleight of hand to pull 2.4 trillion (2:25) out of a hat.
Celtics-Heat: Despite a field goal in 6:29, Miami's Joel Anthony fouled thricely for a 3:2 Voskuhl.
Hornets-Kings: Ime Udoka unwrapped his copy of Ms. Pac-Man for a 30 second Mario to celebrate Sacramento maintaining its .500 record.