typical Ginobili

The San Antonio Spurs: Nothing makes a team look old and creaky quite like facing a young, running, gunning team on the road on the second night of back-to-backs. And that's exactly what happened to the "new-look" Spurs last night.

Sure, Tim Duncan (28 points, 16 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks) tortured the Bulls like they had just cut off his mom's head, Mrs. Voorhees-style. But the rest of the Spurs? Well, if you're a San Antonio fan, watching them get walked all over by a less-talented Bulls team had to be almost as disturbing as these Robert Pattinson underwear:

pattinson undies
Why, God? Why?

On the subject, come on, Twighlight fans. Is this kind of stuff really necessary? Isn't it bad enough that your beloved book-turned-movie series has finalized the emasculation of the American vampire -- which was begun by Anne Rice, by the way -- turning the former terrifying creatures of the night into day-walking teddy bears who spend more time planning for the prom than kicking ass without plastering your hunky star's vamp face onto the casing intended for a male crotch? Why not just write some fan fiction where Edward blows somebo...oops, too late.

How did all this start, anyway? Oh, right. So the Spurs not named Tim Duncan sucked ass last night. Tony Parker (former Finals MVP) and Manu Ginobili (who really, really needs to just shave his damn head) combined to shoot 7-for-22. The team was slaughtered on the offensive boards in the first half, giving up 10 for 19 second-chance points going Chicago's way. For the game, the Bulls (a notoriously bad rebounding team last season) outrebounded the Spurs 52-44 (including 15-8 on the offensive glass) and had a 23-12 edge in second-chance points.

Despite Ducan's 13-for-19 performance, the Spurs shot 42 percent for the game, 19 percent from downtown (4-for-21) and only 65 percent from the line (15-for-23).

Richard Jefferson: He was San Antonio's biggest offseason acquisition...and through two games, he's their biggest bust. This went somewhat unnoticed because the Spurs thrashed the Hornets on opening night, but Jefferson stunk it up in his first game for his new team (5 points, 1-for-7). He wasn't much better in his second game, scoring only 9 points on 3-for-9 shooting. I understand that it's going to take him time to adjust to Pop's system, but Jefferson has looked like a poor fit so far.

John Salmons: The Fish Man is supposed to be the Bulls' replacement for Ben Gordon (and Gordon's 20+ points per game). Well, Chicago fans who freaked out when management let Gordon walk had their fears partially justified last night. Salmons went 3-for-15 from the field and 1-for-9 from three-point range. It was like Gordon had left behind his shot selection but not his shot-making ability. For John's sake, let's, uh, hope it was the San Antonio defense.

Greg Oden: Last night featured a classic Greg Oden game. Minutes limited by foul trouble? Check. (22 minutes, 5 fouls) Limited offense? Check. (6 points, 2-for-5 shooting) Enough rebounding and shot-blocking in abbreviated PT to seemingly justify the continuing myth that Oden could be a elite center? Check. (9 boards, 2 blocks) But still, that's pretty disappointing for a former number one overall pick's third season, right?

But wait, there's more. With Portland trailing 95-94 with five seconds left, Greg stepped up to the line with a chance to tie the game or give his team the lead. And he shanked 'em both. Oh dear, free throw fail. And, yeah, it kinda cost his team the game. Said Oden: "This is a tough one. I definitely stepped up there with confidence thinking I was going to hit both and it didn't go that way. I put this loss on me. I need to step up and make those."

The Portland Trail Blazers: Don't put 100 percent of this loss on Oden, though. The Blazers shot 34 percent from the field. It's a little hard to win when you shoot that poorly, especially when your top two players (Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge) combine to go 10-for-31. So I'm wagging my finger at the whole team here.

Nate McMillan, unintentionally dirty quote machine: This nomination comes from Alex B., who lives all the way in Romania. After his team lost last night, Nate paid some unintentionally dirty homage to Carmelo Anthony's 41 points: "The guy showed tonight what he's all about. [The Nuggets] basically gave him the ball and rode him."

The Official (Short) Lacktion Report (by Chris): No night is too brief for lacktion:

Spurs-Bulls: Theo Ratliff's unproductive stint expired after 2:43, but not before he dropped down a foul for a +1 suck differential, also good for the very first Madsen-level Voskuhl of the year at 1:0!

Nuggets-Blazers: While the living embodiment of Geritol bricked from the charity stripe, Denver's Malik Allen mushroomed into a four-second Super Mario!!!!!!

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Check out this item from the ESPN.com NBA Rumors page. Noah ready to bang, ESPN? Really?! Of course, look at Joakim's zany smile...maybe he really is ready to bang! Seriously.

ready to bang

Mucho thanks to Basketbawful reader Garron for the head's up.

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Coach of the Year baby
Hey, look! It's the proposed 2009-10 NBA Coach of the Year...now 0-2.

The Philadelphia 76ers: The Orlando Magic were without Rashard Lewis, who was suspended for 10 games after testing positive for an elevated level of testosterone (I always knew he was on 'rhoids!), but it hardly mattered. The Sixers had to outscore the Magic 37-22 in the fourth quarter just to make the final score (120-106) look respectable. Philly actually enjoyed a 30-17 advantage in free throw attempts -- on the road no less -- but they missed nine of them, in addition to letting Orlando shoot a blistering 57 percent from the field and 55 from downtown. I guess "hand in the face" is a lost art in the City of Brotherly Love.

sad sixers
Can't you feel the love tonight?

Elton Brand: Philly's big free agent acquisition of 2008 was a big splatter of fail last season, but the return of a healthy Brand was supposed to make the Sixers a vastly improved team this season. Har, har. Elton looked just as bad as he did in the games he actually appeared in last year, scoring only 8 points on 2-for-7 shooting to go with 6 boards. For all the bad luck of the Clippers, it now appears that Brand's backstabbing farewell in free agency was actually a good thing.

The Indiana Pacers: Danny Granger (31 points, 10-for-18, 5-for-10 on threes) was brilliant in a double-digit loss. I may have to cut-and-paste that line for 50 or so Pacers games this season.

Best out-of-context picture of the night: This one is still making me laugh, especially the ref's fist pump.

what the eff

Fun with box scores: RensTheRipper writes: "ESPN are into it already, giving a beautiful double negative 'non-unsportsmanlike technical' to Solomon Jones as he rampaged against his old team. I can't believe he committed a sportsmanlike technical. Thank you ESPN, I can't not non-dislike you for brilliant commentary."


The Cleveland Craboliers: So...the preseason pick for "best team in basketball" is now 0-2 for the first time since the 2004-05 season. But...but...they have the reigning Coach of the Year, the reigning MVP, and the supposed Most Dominant Ever! After getting punked by the Celtics at home in the season opener, the Crabs traveled to Toronto and lost to the Raptors by double-digits despite a 23/11/12 triple-double from King Crab. The Mistake by the Lakers shot a woeful 35 percent from the field despite adding one of the best inside players of all time. Speaking of which...

Shaq: The Big Creaky scored 12 points and grabbed 7 boards. Not exactly MDE material. He also failed to register a block or hit a free throw (0-for-3). Meanwhile, Chris Bosh -- whom the Big Mouth last season referred to as "the RuPaul of Big Men" -- had 21 points and 16 rebounds. Note that Shaq had by far the worst plus-minus score of the night (-25).

More bawful from Shayan of the Raptors blog Mediocre Forever: "What a season opener here in Toronto. I remember reading recently on Basketbawful about a comment from a reader saying how Big Z and Shaq are the slowest front court EVER to grace an NBA floor. And then tonight, I watched Andrea Bargnani, who went bonkers and was unstoppable (actually the referees stopped him with BS fouls forcing him to the bench), run circles around Big Z and the Big Geritol (God I love that nickname). It was like back in elementary school on the playground where everyone's outrunning the fat kid." Jinkies.

The New York Knicks: I thought canning Isiah after the 2007-08 season was supposed to improve the Knicks? If last night's 22-point drubbing -- during which New York shot 38 percent, missed 29 three-pointers, and let their opponent shoot nearly 57 percent -- is any indication, it's going to be a looooong season for Knicks fans. Again. Especially when you consider they have basically no chance whatsoever of landing LeBron next summer. Sorry, but you know it's true.

Nate Robinson: 0-for-8 from the field, 0-for-5 from beyond the arc, 1 point. Remember all the "The Knicks really need to resign Nate Robinson" noise from the offseason? As always, I'm just sayin'.

The Los Angeles Clippers: Can I get a "they are who we thought they were"? Despite playing at home and shooting almost 56 percent from the field, the Clippers lost 109-107 to a Suns team that now has to start Channing Frye at center. The biggest reason The Other L.A. team failed yet again was because they couldn't contain Steve Nash, who scored 15 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead layup with five seconds left in the game. The second-biggest reason the Clips lost? Probably the 12 missed free throws (15-for-27).

Fun fact: The run 'n gun Suns had 2 fast break points...for the game.

Steve Nash, quote machine: On his game-winning shot: "I went to the old-white-guy-at-the-YMCA shot and I was lucky to make something happen."

The Memphis Grizzlies: Opening the season at home, the Baby Bears shot 36 percent, bonked nine free throws and got hammered by the Pistons 96-74. And here's a sad little factoid for you: "The Grizzlies set an NBA record with their ninth consecutive season-opening loss, breaking the previous record of eight set by Atlanta from 1999-2006." Historic fail.

Lionel Hollins, inspirational quote machine: Here's what the Memphis coach had to say after his team got drubbed: "It was generally a bad night shooting. [Our players] just have to come down to Earth and realize winning in the NBA is very difficult, and it takes a lot of work and effort. Our young guys were like deer in headlights."

The New Orleans Hornets: It can't feel good to shoot 50 percent as a team and lose by almost 20. But hey, scoring only 13 points in the first quarter can do that to you. Remember how, two seasons ago, the Hornets were the Team of the Future? I guess the future was now for the 2007-08 Hornets. Too bad they didn't know that at the time. But hey, Chris Paul is awesome, so they still have that going for them...which is nice.

Peja Stojakovic: He came off the bench to play only 20 minutes, scoring 4 points on 1-for-2 shooting. Hey, wasn't Peja supposed to be a pretty big cog in the New Orleans machine? Too much whoring around, I guess.

All the teams that didn't draft DeJuan Blair: How in the world did this kid slip to the second round of this year's NBA draft? I was screaming for the Bulls to choose him -- twice -- but hey fell and fell until the Spurs gleefully plucked him out of the pool of dwindling talent at 37. Good call. Last night, Blair played 23 minutes off the bench, scoring 14 points (7-for-10), grabbing 11 boards (5 offensive) and even dishing out 3 assists. Hornets coach Byron Scott called Blair a "monster" and added: "You know, a 6-5, 6-6 center who comes in and plays 22 minutes and gets 14-11 is pretty impressive," Scott said. "Especially for a rookie."

"Nobody can go 82-0" is the new early-season excuse: I heard or read this about a dozen times the last few days after season-opening losses: well, teams can't go 82-0, so losing is kinda-sorta okay. Eh?! The latest of these quotes comes from Chris Paul, who said, "We hoped to go 82-0, but we knew it wasn't too feasible."

The New Jersey Nets: Dear God, this team sucks. They were bad last season with Vince Carter...and replacing him with Courtney Lee didn't exactly cause a spike in their talent level. And so it's not shocking that they opened the season by losing to a lowly Timberwolves team that wasted the fifth pick in this year's NBA draft on a kid who's probably never going to play for them and had to squeeze 20 minutes out of Brian "How In The Hell Is This Guy Still In The League" Cardinal (who actually had 7 points on 3-for-4 shooting to go with 4 boards, an assist and a steal). Mind you, Minnesota shot only 36 percent from the floor and went only 1-for-7 from the Land of Three. Of course, New Jersey was 0-for-8 from downtown, so I guess long-distance shooting was a bit of a wash.

The Nets might have won if they hadn't given up 18 offensive boards and committed 22 turnovers for 24 points going the other way. Brook Lopez -- who had 27 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks for the Nets -- said: "We just got kind of careless with the ball. I definitely did. I turned the ball over three or four times. The last little span ended up costing us the game, obviously."

Fun fact that's not all that surprising: The Nets haven't won a game in Minnesota since November 23, 2002.

Fun fact that may cause milk to shoot out your nose (if you're drinking any): Get this: "The Timberwolves finished the game on a 24-6 run and are now 9-2 in their last 11 season openers. They're also 11-2 all-time in season openers played at home, the best such record in the NBA." Who knew?! If only opening night was every night for the poor T-Wolves.

Rafer Alston: This dude was so stoked last year when he got traded to the Magic. Well, if last night's box score is any indication, he's much less stoked to be playing for the Nets. Alston logged 23 minutes and finished with 3 assists, 3 turnovers and zero points on 0-for-2 shooting. I hereby dub him "Skip 2 My Gak."

Update! The Minnesota starting frontcourt: From NarSARSsist: "Bawful -- I think some praise is much deserved for the Minnesota starting front line. Not only did Al Jefferson and Ryan Gomes combine for 19 points (5-for-20) and only 8 boards with 7 fouls, they also managed to get outrebounded by every small T-Wolf except Sasha Pavlovic. In addition, they even made Man Chair...errr Chairman Yi look good with 17 points and 12 rebounds." Praise given.

The Charlotte Bobcats: The runner up (to the Clippers) for last night's "They Are Who We Thought They Were" award. I would say that the Bobcats travelled to Boston for a historic defeat, but I'm not sure any of the Charlotte players actually, you know, showed up. Let's go ahead and call 'em the Charlotte Body Doubles okay? Alrighty then, so the Body Doubles shot 31 percent from the field, got blanked from downtown (0-for-10), missed 12 free throws (13-for-25) and committed 21 turnovers (which the Celtics transfigured into 24 points). By the end of the night, the BDs had scored only 59 points. Not only was that a franchise low for one game, it was the lowest point total for an opener in NBA history since the advent of the shot clock (1954-55). Guh. I think that just made all the milk in Charlotte curdle.

Larry Brown, quote machine: When asked whether he'd ever coached a team that scored in the 50s, Brown said: "I don't known if they call that coaching. Our team wasn't prepared. Weren't ready to play. That's nobody's fault but the coach." Those are nice sentiments, and it's sweet that he would try to cover his players' asses, but you don't coach height, and Tyson Chandler -- who's supposed to be pretty close to seven feet tall -- went 0-for-5 and didn't score. (It sure is harder to dump in points when Chris Paul isn't feeding you alley-oops, eh, Tyson? I can tell you this much: his performance last night probably earned Chicago Bulls management a huge sigh of relief. "See," John Paxson must have been thinking, "we were right to get rid of that guy way back when.")

Also, fellow starters Gerald Wallace (3-for-9), Boris Diaw (3-for-7), Stephen Graham (2-for-11) and Raymond Felton (3-for-11) all shot like hell and combined for 14 turnovers and only 5 assists (2 for Diaw and 3 for Felton). Their combined plus-minus score was -120. Seriously.

Brian Scalabrine: Veal earned a DNP-CD in a 33-point blowout? Really?! And remember: the Celtics are already down one member of their frontcourt rotation (Big Baby). Can somebody explain why the guy who got several starts when Kevin Garnett went down last season can't even get off the bench in garbage time? I mean, garbage time is Scalabrine Time, baby! I mean, right? Not last night, it wasn't. Update! My bad. Apparently, he's hurt.

Update! Tommy Heinsohn: An anonymous commenter said: "I think Tommy Heinsohn should get a mention for WotN. During a loose ball, Kevin Garnett landed on Raymond Felton's head, opening up a pretty nasty cut on his lip, which required 15 stitches. While Felton was laying on the ground motionless covering his face, Heinsohn was yelling, "That should be a three second violation on Felton!" It's funny in retrospect being Felton wasn't seriously injured, but I think Tommy finally crossed the line last night that separated passionate home announcer and sociopath." The only thing I can say here -- and it's not really a defense of Tommy -- is that Heinsohn crossed the line into sociopathy yeeeeeeears ago.

Stephen Jackson, "he just doesn't get it" quote machine: After dissing his team and demanding a trade during the offseason, Captain Jack was met with boos in the Warriors' home opener. Said Jax: "It is what it is. I don't expect everybody to love me. I heard it but I didn’t let it affect my game at all. To each his own. I've been booed many times. This isn't the first time." And, uh, doesn't that sorta tell you something, Cap?

The Official Lacktion Report by Chris: Not everybody can get a little action, but plenty of NBAers can get a little lacktion...

Crabs-Raptors: While Tarence Kinsey's crawling has been sorely missed on the shores of Lake Erie, Toronto's human victory cigar Marcus Banks admired a Power Glove for 25 seconds to accrue a Mario.

Knicks-Heat: New York's Jordan Hill climbed a brick wall in 1:45 on his way to a suck differential of +1 via missed shot.

Kings-Thunder: Donte Greene of the Kings averaged one miscue a minute - a brick, giveaway, and foul - for +3 in 3:37.

Suns-Clippers: Steve Novak turned the dial all the way to eleven on Guitar Hero for his Wii, pounding out 11 seconds of rhythm in his first Mario of the year.

Jazz-Nuggets: Jerry Sloan may never win Coach of the Year, due to his smart usage of a staff of lacktators. With Kyrylo Fesenko slumping into usefulness, Sloan quickly assembled a trio of time-wasters to warm the bench for the new season, starting with Wesley Matthews, who was crushed with youthful disappointment through a brick and block in 5:12 that resulted in a +2. The Jazz's 2009 first rounder, Eric Maynor, became the first baller to earn an interview with Robin Leach, after taking home a 2.85 trillion fortune. Finally, the ever-unmemorable Kosta Koufos spun into a brick in just 45 seconds, leading to a Mario AND a +1!

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I have a new favorite video of all time. Watch as Phil Jackson, in all his infinite and goofy whiteness, tries to fist bump his franchise player. Only Kobe leaves poor Phil hanging, so P-Jax is forced to pass it off by fist bumping his own face. I kid you not. If you don't laugh at this, then welcome to the past, T-1000. And no, I have not seen that boy.

A great many thanks to Basketbawful reader Nick N. for sending in the link.

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Boston Celtics

Thanks to Stephanie G. for today's pic.

The Cleveland Craboliers: On paper, Cleveland's talent level is off the charts, particularly after the additions of Shaq, Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon. They got to open the season at home, where they lost only twice last season. Less than seven minutes into the first quarter, Shaq hit his third consecutive field goal to put the Crabs up 21-7. They earned (if you want to call it that) a 32-26 advantage at the line and scored 20 points off Boston's 14 turnovers. And, of course, King Crab himself was (as always) scary good (38 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 4 blocks).

I guess what I'm trying to say is: the Crabs had every reason to win this game. Only...they didn't. Meanwhile, Boston ended an 11-game losing streak in Cleveland (including playoff games) and "snapped a 16-game skid by visiting teams in games between the Eastern powers who figure to meet again sometime in May or June." Yeah, I know. Who keeps track of this stuff?

Anyway, the Celtics showed once again that offensive firepower -- however awesome, again, on paper -- can and will wilt under furious defensive pressure. The Boston D held the Cleveland O to 41 percent shooting, in part because Mike Brown didn't add many new wrinkles to his generic "Give LeBron the ball and let everybody watch" offense set, unless you count occasionally posting Shaq as a new wrinkle. Speaking of the Big Geritol...

Shaq: He looked unstoppable in the first quarter and finished with a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds). But from the second quarter on, the Celtics got away with single coverage as Kendrick Perkins simply pushed the Big Creaky off his sweet spots and forced him, as Doug Collins put it, "to make shots." Which he didn't, going 1-for-5 in the second half and missing both of his free throws. But that wasn't the worst of it. They Celtics turned him into the Big Defensive Liability in the closing minutes, putting Shaq into pick-and-roll situations and watching him fail to cover. As a result of the Big Slow Poke deficiencies, Paul Pierce got open for a couple clutch buckets that helped boil the Crabs.

Quick quiz: From Stephanie G.: "Quick: name a C/PF combo slower than Shaq/Big Z. Any year will do."

The Cleveland bench: The preseason talk that wasn't about Shaq and LeBron was about how freaky deep the Crabs are. Well, Boston's reserve corps outscored Cleveland's pine riders 26-10. In fact, Rasheed Wallace (12 points, 3-for-6 from downtown) outscored the Crabs' bench by himself. By game's end, the Cleveland reserves had more fouls (7) than field goals (3-for-11).

The Big Excuse Machine: Said Shaq: "We'd like to start off 1-0, but there are 100 games left. We'll be fine. I've been on teams that started 0-1, 0-5, 5-0, 10-0. Nothing matters unless you win the whole thing." Everybody remember that if the Crabs don't win the whole thing.

Shelden Williams: Teams don't usually let former fifth overall draft picks (as Williams was for the Hawks in 2006) just walk away. But Atlanta did, and for good reason. This kid has a debilitating case of Kwame Hands. Seriously, I haven't seen that many good passes go careening off a player's hands since John Stockton was feeding Greg Ostertag back in the late 90s. Does Shelden pre-soak his hands in Crisco before games? It sure seemed like it.

Update! Rajon Rondo: I almost forgot about how he got crab-blocked last night. Don't be bringing that weak, one-handed, cotton candy stuff, Rajon.

Fun with box scores: Basketbawful reader Murcy says: "NBA.com thinks Woody Allen is on the Celtics."

woody allen

The Dallas Mavericks: Last season, the Washington Wizards were an NBA-worst 6-35 on the road. That didn't matter last night, as they smacked down the Mavs in Dallas by a score of 102-91. The Mavericks have now lost two straight season openers and three of their last four.

Der Blond Bombermeister scored a game-high 34 points but, as so often seems to be the case, didn't get the support he needed. Outside of Nowiztki, the Dallas O blew chucks, as the Mavs shot 39 percent as a team. Note that, excluding Jason Kidd (who had 6 dimes), the Dallas starters registered one lonely assist.

Shawn Marion: He had 16 points and 7 rebounds, but I find it interesting that the Mavs were -17 points when he was on the floor. Let's keep an eye on this.

Jason Kidd, super-dramatic quote machine: "[Nowitzki] would be dead by Christmas if we're going to let him be the offense. Our team defense stunk. We didn't rebound the ball well. Everything we're supposed to do well was a no-show tonight."

The Houston Rockets: I'll give them points for scrappiness, but if last night's 96-87 loss is any indication, the Rockets may end up leading the league in hard-fought losses this season. I mean, can you really expect better than 37 percent shooting from a group of roleplayers? Speaking of which...

Tracy McGrady: Knee-Mac is still in absentia due to recovery from microfracture surgery. I would now like a show of hands from everybody who's surprised about this. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

The Blazers Butterfingers: Portland might have won by 20+ points if they'd been able to hold on to the rock. The Blazers committed 26 turnovers, which is the most lost balls they've had since the 2007-08 season. On that subject...

Greg Oden: The big fella didn't do much scoring (2 points, 1-for-3), but he helped dominate with 12 boards and 5 blocks. Of course, he offset some of that good play by bobbling the ball away a game-high 7 times. I guess, like Shelden Williams, he had a case of the Kwame Hands. He also had, not surprisingly, 5 fouls.

The Los Angeles Clippers: What can you say? They are who we thought they were, you know?

You should have run, Blake. You should have run.

Amazingly, the Clips actually could have won this game had they not committed 20 turnovers (including 9 in the first quarter), thereby giving the Lakers 24 bonus points. That's kind of a big deal in a seven-point loss. Said Baron Davis: "We really felt we could've won this game. If you take away a lot of mistakes that we made at the end of the first quarter and all the turnovers we had, it would've been a different ballgame." Speaking of Davis...

Baron Davis: Get ready to be shocked. I'm serious. Get ready. Okay, are you ready. Here goes: Baron is hurt already. Good luck finding the socks that just got blown off your feet. Speaking of feet, B-Dizzle has a bruised right foot, which might explain the 1-for-10 shooting. How much did the Clippers spend on this guy again...? Oh, right: $65 million for five years.

Ron Artest's offense: Crazy Pills went 3-for-10 from the field, 1-for-5 from beyond the arc, and 3-for-7 from the line. Maybe he should spend more time at shooting practice and less time at the barber shop.

Artest hair

Here's a closer look, courtesy of Dan B.

more artest hari

Ron-Ron did have a game-high plus-minus score of +14 though. Does that make him the Lakers' MVP? On the other end of the spectrum was...

Luke Walton: In three minutes of lacktion (0-for-1, 1 steal), the Son of Walton managed to earn himself a team-worst plus-minus score of -8. Good thing Mitch Kupchak locked this kid up for five years at the low, low price of only $30 million back in the summer of '07. But at least he's not:

Adam Morrison: DNP-CD. 'Nuff said.


General 'bawfulry: From Wild Yams:

Despite the win, if I was a Celtics fan I'd be a bit worried for one reason alone: KG doesn't look good at all. It might be just rust though, that's definitely plausible. But it didn't look like KG's timing was off, it looked to me like he had hardly any of his athleticism and explosiveness out there. I had to keep reminding myself to watch what he was doing because for long stretches he was just... invisible. Boston's so loaded that they'll be able to hide whatever shortcomings KG might have (if he's indeed gonna continue to play like this), but against Orlando or LA/SA in the playoffs, they're gonna need him to be what he used to be if they want to have a chance to win.

If I was a Cleveland fan I'd be plain worried cause that team doesn't look to be good enough to be considered one of the 5 "true contenders" this year. It's the same ol' story: LeBron and a bunch of minnies. Shaq looks to be a really, really poor fit for that team, and Mike Brown is totally clueless about what to do (which is why once again the offense is to give it to LeBron at the top of the key and let him create everything). Orlando and Boston will lay treadmarks all over the Cavs if this is all they've got.

The Lakers looked either disinterested or just out of sorts due to the ring ceremony (or Artest's hair or Odom's new bride or take your pick). LA's bench was plain awful tonight, though that'll probably change a bit when Gasol comes back and Odom is a reserve again. Nevertheless, as I said after the first preseason game, if Artest is gonna be that unselfish and Bynum is gonna be that dominant, it's gonna be very, very hard to beat this Laker team. As always though, it was against the Clippers so take it all with a grain of salt. Too bad due to the uber-cushy Laker schedule to start the year, it's really gonna be a while before we'll get to see what they're made of (unless they collapse, that is, then we'll know they're just way overrated).

Greg Oden -- 26 minutes, 2 points, 5 fouls, 7 turnovers. Combined with the Vanilla Godzilla and LaMarcus "5 years/$70m" Aldridge, the supposedly imposing Blazer frontline was only able to score 15 points combined against a miniscule Houston frontline of Chuck Hayes, Luis Scola and Carl Landry.

Wasn't Dallas supposed to be much improved this year?

Lacktion report (by Chris):

The opening tip-off has arrived, so bring out the awful Craig Sager suits! Get paranoid over labor unrest! Conjure all the rumors of King Crab signing in Brooklyn come summer 2010! And don't forget figuring out which team honcho will be out on the street in 15 months, via that person's unlucky acceptance of the Coach of the Year award! But of course, in order for this to be officially another year in the life of the Association...

we've gotta have lacktion, and luckily some of the usual suspects were available to aim as low as they possibly could. Again.

So let's focus on our only honorees for October 27th...

Wizards-Mavs: Washington's Javale McGee kicks off this season of lacktion with his tribute to the unemployed plumber from the Peachtree State, taking a 42-second moment of silence (on the scoresheet) to put down the very first Mario of the year. Helping the Wizards out in their winning effort was Dominic McGuire, who fouled twice for a +2 suck differential in 2:20.

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Big Dummy

...unlike Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who apparently broke his thumb "in an altercation with a former college teammate." Davis needs surgery to repair the damaged digit and could miss up to two months. Oh, and he might be suspended, too. Said Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck:

"We'll deal with it. I'm not going to call him 'Big Baby' anymore. He's Glen. He needs to act like Glen. We'll decide what to do once I talk to him, once we talk to him today. It's very likely he'll be suspended. And he'll have some time to think about it. It'll be a message, a teachable moment for the rest of the guys on the team."

Uh, sure, Wyc. But...who exactly on the Celtics needs to be taught not to injure themselves in fights with former college teammates? I sort of assumed that was a given, but maybe not. Also, I'm sure that calling him "Glen" instead of "Big Baby" will totally force him to grow up. In the meantime, I have a new entry for the Basketbawful Dumb Injury Hall of Shame.

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Clippers fail
Stop looking so surprised. The Clippers define fail.

I couldn't help but spit up a little when I read this part of Bill Simmons' 2009-10 NBA preview:

The Clippers are going to be good. The parts fit. They have size, shooting and rebounding. They can play fast or slow. Their best player (Baron Davis) is motivated again. They have the Gordon/Griffin combo, only the NBA's best young inside/outside combo. They have a bench. They have cap flexibility (only $36 million committed next season). This is a playoff team. I'm telling you. And as I've written many times, Clipperland remains the most logical 2010 LeBron destination on paper. It's true.
Mind you, this is the same guy who wrote an open letter to Blake Griffin warning him about the dangers of playing for the Clippers. His exact words:

Run. Just start running. Run for your life. Run like the star of a horror movie. Don't turn around. Run and keep running.
Well, Simmons was right to warn Griffin (and laughably wrong to predict they'll be good)...because this year's number one overall draft pick will miss up to six weeks weeks with a broken knee cap:

Griffin apparently broke his kneecap during the Clippers' final exhibition game against New Orleans last Friday, perhaps after a dunk that left the power forward wincing in pain. The team initially said Griffin only had a sore left knee, making him questionable for the opener, before revealing the break.
Mind you, "back in six weeks" does not mean "back to 100 percent in six weeks." For the last time: Can we all just stop being surprised when this stuff happens to the Clippers?

Bonus quote: If you check out Kevin Arnovitz' season preview at ClipperBlog, you'll notice the following quote from yours truly in the "No You Can't" section: "The best thing the Clippers can say about the last 25 or so years is 'At least some terrible hell beast hasn't risen from the sea and eaten our team.' Yet." See? Even a month ago when I wrote that line, I already knew they are who we thought they were...

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Mike "Dumbleavy" Coach of the Year? It could totally happen. Trust me.

Samahn from Italia wrote in to say: "I saw this and immediately thought of 'bawful. Special wag of the finger goes to Chris Sheridan and Royce Webb of ESPN.com for predicting that Mike Dunleavy will get Coach of the Year. Wow...I'm speachless. This is the same guy who, well, you know. Please but shame on these two ESPN writers and forever ingrave them in the 'bawful archives!

Actually, that preduction may not be too far out there. Let's look at some recent CoY recipients:

1. Mike Brown (2008-09): Subsequently outcoached in the Eastern Conference Finals, marking one of the only times in league history a team had both the MVP and the Coach of the Year yet failed to reach the NBA Finals.

2. Sam Mitchell (2006-07): Subsequently fired by the Raptors only 17 games into the 2008-09 season after a 39-point loss to the Denver Nuggets.

3. Avery Johnson (2005-06): Subsequently fired following the 2007-08 season because the Mavs needed a fresh start. I'm sure those three consecutive humiliating playoff losses had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

4. Mike D'Antoni (2004-05): Subsequently "allowed to pursue employment opportunities elsewhere" by the Suns following the 2008-09 season and yet another painful playoff loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

4. Hubie Brown (2003-04): Subsequently retired 12 games into the 2004-05 season because, dear lord, the man is an ancient mummy creature! And why spend your twilight years coaching the Grizzlies, you know?

5. Rick Carlisle (2001-02): Subsequently fired after the 2002-03 season so the Pistons could hire Larry Brown...and win the 2004 NBA title.

6. Doc Rivers (1999-00): Subsequently fired during the 2003-04 season after his Magic squad started the year 1-10. Note that he continued to suck in Boston until Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen arrived to save him.

7. Mike Dunleavy (1998-99): And we come full circle! Subsequently fired after the 2000-01 season. From the actual press release: "Mike Dunleavy was dismissed as coach of the Portland Trail Blazers tonight, taking the fall for an underachieving team that failed to win a playoff game despite an NBA-record $89.7 million payroll."

Did I mention that Jerry Sloan still hasnt' won a Coach of the Year award despite a 1137-751 (.602) record and 12 50-win seasons? Oh, and in 21 years of coaching in Utah, the Jazz have have a losing record exactly...once.

So, to sum up, the state of the NBA Coach of the Year award is an absolute joke. As such, it would not surprise me in the least if Mike Dunleavy won it this year...and was subsequently fired within two seasons. After all, as you can see, history tends to repeat itself.

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I'll let you be the judge. (But here's a hint: Yes. Or, at least, I hope it's the worst. Heaven help us if it isn't.) Also, is that The Big O Face or The Big Constipation Face? Or...is it both?!

ugly ass NBA jacket

Hat Tip: From Andy Gray's excellent SI Vault Photo twitter account, via Dan B., who said: " can't get over this picture. It made me actually laugh out loud at work. I mean, they didn't even have jackets this ugly in the early 90s when MC Hammer still had gainful employment."

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the original man love
The original man love pic. I guess now we know why Isiah avoided the lips...

As you may or may not know, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson have "co-written" a book together. (That is, they probably did a lot of talking while author Jackie MacMullen did the actual writing.) It's called When The Game Was Ours, and it comes out on November 4th. However, it's already making headlines...by making Isiah Thomas want to kick Magic's ass. The two main points of contention are:

1. Isiah spread rumors that Magic was gay or bisexual...or so Magic believes: Remember back in 1991 when Magic tested positive for HIV and had to retire? Magic's agent Lon Rosen claims Isiah told him: "I keep hearing Magic is gay." When Rosen reminded Isiah that the two men were friends and that Isiah knew him better than anyone, Isiah allegedly replied, "I know, but I don't know what he's doing when he's out there in L.A." In the book, Magic responds to this story by saying, "Isiah kept questioning people about it. I couldn't believe that. The one guy I thought I could count on had all these doubts. It was like he kicked me in the stomach.''

2. Magic (along with Michael Jordan) co-blocked Isiah from making the 1992 Olympic Dream Team: Said Magic: "Isiah killed his own chances when it came to the Olympics. Nobody on that team wanted to play with him. ... Michael didn't want to play with him. Scottie [Pippen] wanted no part of him. Bird wasn't pushing for him. Karl Malone didn't want him. Who was saying, 'We need this guy?' Nobody.''

You can kind of see how this happened, right? Magic hears that Isiah might kinda-sorta wonder whether he's gay in 1991, because science at that time had proven that only homosexuals and junkies got AIDS. When he hears what Isiah might have kinda-sorta said, Magic gets pissed but doesn't say anything, because it's uncomfortable to address rumors that your best friend thinks you might want to put his penis in your mouth. When 1992 rolls around and it's time for him to stand behind Isiah's inclusion on the Dream Team, Magic exacts his revenge by helping to keep one of the best point guards of all time off the greatest team of all time. And now, after all these years, Magic decides "clears the air" in a book about his rivalry with Larry Bird. Without telling Isiah in advance.

Sounds pretty fifth grade, right?

There's only one problem with Magic's claims and assumptions. Isiah denies questioning Magic's sexuality, mostly because his own brother, Gregory Thomas, had HIV. Said Thomas: "What most people don't know is, before Magic had HIV, my brother had HIV. My brother died of HIV, AIDS, drug abuse. So I knew way more about the disease, because I was living with it in my house.''


You know what this reminds me of? More fifth grade stuff. You have two best friends (Magic and Isiah) and one bitter enemy to both of them (Bird). Only, by some strange twist of fate, one of the bosom buddies (Magic) becomes friends with the enemy (Bird). Suddenly, the other bosom buddy (Isiah) is on the outside looking in...and wondering what in the hell happened. But of course boys don't talk about their feelings, so the two former friends just drift apart. By 8th grade (or in this case almost two decades later), one former friend (Isiah) finally hears through the grapevine (or in this case a book prepared for mass distribution) that his old buddy thinks all kinds of bad things about him based on stuff that may not even be true.

Ah, children.

Here are some of Isiah's responses to all this. Regarding the Dream Team cock-block:

"I'm glad that he's finally had the nerve and the courage to stand up and say it was him, as opposed to letting Michael Jordan take the blame for it all these years. I wish he would have had the courage to say this stuff to me face to face, as opposed to writing it in some damn book to sell and he can make money off it.''
Regarding the "I said Magic's gay" rumors:

"Magic acted and responded off some really bad information that he got. Whatever friendship we had, I thought it was bulls--- that he believed that. Let me put it to you this way: If he and I were such close friends, if I was questioning his sexuality, then I was questioning mine too. That's how idiotic it is.

"They weren't going to let Magic play in the All-Star Game; all the players were coming out [against him]. You know how that all got turned around? I had a meeting with all of the players -- because I was president of the players' association -- and I told them not only was he going to play, but we were going to shake his hand and give him a hug. And I was the first to shake his hand and hug him and give him a kiss, to let people know that's not how the virus is spread. And you can go back and check at the players' association. Call Charlie Grantham [the former union executive director and COO] and ask him how Magic got to play in the All-Star Game. Ask him who called the meeting.

"I don't discriminate. I don't believe any race or ethnic group or social group should be discriminated against, because I have been discriminated against, and I know it would be wrong for me to discriminate. I think Magic has been misled on a lot of things, and unfortunately this has been another one of them. I am hurt and disappointed that he has chosen to believe others as opposed to his closest friends. And I think you can go back and look in that era and see who his closest friends were, and who his closest friends are now. At that time, I don't consider Lon Rosen to be one of his closest friends; he was one of his business advisers making money off him."
Believe it or not, I feel a little bad for Isiah. The dude has been having a pretty rough decade or so. Misfortune and tragedy -- much of it self-imposed -- have dogged him at every turn. If you think about it, this all started in 1987 when he said that if Larry Bird was black he's be just another good player. Then, after a couple championships, he walked off the court without congratulating the Bulls after the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. Then he bombed as Toronto's GM. Then there was the CBA debacle. Then Larry Bird fires him as coach of the Indiana Pacers. Years later, he gets fired again after almost destroying the New York Knicks. Then he allegedly tries to commit suicide and says it was actually his daughter who did it. Now this.

Bad times all around.

It's hard to blame 1991 Magic Johnson for being upset. After all, back then being diagnosed with HIV was like a death sentence. And, frankly, it was easy to believe that Isiah would say something stupid like "I don't know what he's doing when he's out there in L.A." in light of his previous comments about Bird. And yeah, maybe he was too emotionally wrung out to deal with it by the time the original Dream Team was being put together. I get all that. What I don't get is why it's taken Magic -- who's healthy and has seemingly long since come to terms with his HIV-positive status -- so long to speak up. And, really, he should have told Isiah directly before putting it into a book that's not even about Isiah.

But if The Magic Hour taught us anything, it's that Magic doesn't always make the best decisions. Oh well. I guess it's better to have man-loved and lost...than to have never man-loved at all.

Update! I had to add this comment from BleedingHeartPessimist: "I can just picture Larry Bird, sitting in his Birdcave, looking at a giant flow chart entitled "Plan to Destroy Isiah and Magic", crossing off another box, and chuckling to himself."

Update again! More high comedy from Hilary:

Michael Jordan probably saw it as Magic letting him take credit, not the fall.

Top Secret Meeting of Dream Team Players

Magic: He's not my BFF anymore. That is so 1990.

Larry: I never liked him either.

Karl Malone: Speaking of manlove, if he gets on, my basketball other half is probably going to be left off. Down with Isiah!

Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen: We vote however Michael says, and everyone knows how he froze Michael out during that All-Star game.

Jordan: I want him off the team, too, but on one condition.

All: What?

Jordan: He thinks I'm the one behind everything. He gets to sit at home all summer and think about how if he would have acknowledged my greatness, he could have been on the greatest team ever. The biggest mistake anyone can ever make is not acknowledging my greatness, you know. And I never forget, and I will dedicate the rest of my life to humiliating anyone foolish enough to motivate me by -- anyone got a pen? This is good stuff, and I want to save it for my hall of fame induction speech.

Malone: Make sure John gets to be the other point guard, and he'll make up something about wanting to be brought into the hall of fame by another small dominant guard so Isiah can be there in person when you make the hall of fame speech!

Jordan: Deal!

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The Chicago Bulls were on their way to England a couple weeks ago when Derrick Rose celebrated his 21st birthday. As you can see, great fun was had by all. Well, as much fun as you can have eating cake on a plane that's rocketing over the Atlantic ocean.

But wait, there's more. Or, at least, there's going to be more. Apparently, ClubNet360 is throwing D-Rose an "official" birthday party this Saturday. Here's the suitably dramatic promo graphic:

D-Rose Bday 1
Apparently, Derrick's birthday party will be extra flame-y.

The venue hasn't been announced yet, but the event page promises it'll be one of the "HOTTEST BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS" of the year. How can they promise it'll be so darn hot? By importing hot babes of course! To that end, ClubNet360 put an add on craigslist looking for models who would like to work the gig.

craigslist ad

Let's see...I'm over 21 years old and enjoy going to clubs. I'm able to attend and host weekly events and socialize / network with new people. I'm energetic, outgoing, presentable. I have an electronic presence and transportation. I'm so in!

Or maybe not. The ad doesn't say "women only," but I'm guessing I have too much sausage for ClubNet360's (not to mention D-Rose's) tastes. But I RSVP'd for the party anyway...and my RSVP has already been confirmed! Here are the details:

This Event Is Already Abuzz In The City!!! Celebrities Are CONFIRMED! The NBA's Rookie Of The YEAR & Reigning NBA Skills Champion Will Have An ALL-Star Birthday Celebration. The Entire Chicago Bulls Team Will Attend This Ultra Plush Event...as Well As Some Of Chicago's Most Famous Celebrities. This $30 Million 2 Level Venue Provides An Atmosphere Like No Other...Built Around Elegance...There's No Finer Venue In Chicago. This Is An Event That You Don’t Want To Miss...A Portion Of The Proceeds From This Event Will Benefit Charities.


Guest List Includes: Vince Vaughn, Judge Greg Mathis, Jeremy Piven, Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, Derrick Byars, Aaron Gray, Brad Miller, Chris Richard, James Johnson, Jannero Pargo, Jerome James, Taj Gibson
Lindsey Hunter
I simply cannot wait to meet Aaron Gray, Chris Richard and Derrick Byars. Time to get my tux pressed! Seriously, though, since when are Vince Vaughn and Judge Greg Mathis "Chicago's most famous celebrities"? That's kinda sad if you think about it. Couldn't ClubNet360 at least have gotten Adam Baldwin or that guy who played Ross in Friends?

The weirdest thing about this is that Derrick Rose is so shy and unassuming, I can't imagine him even going to a party like this much less being the guest of honor. I guess it's like they say: you always have to watch out for the quiet ones.

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...for Mario West -- a.k.a. Super Mario, a.k.a. Mario "The Mario" West, a.k.a. THE Mario West -- who was unceremoniously cut by the Atlanta Hawks today.

Goodbye Mario
Mario West may never be scored on by LeBron James again.
Think about that. Did you get cold chills? Me too...me too.

Mario did more than inspire a new word of the day that revolutionized the way we report lacktion. This kid stuck around the NBA -- alongside the best basketball players in the world -- on sheer determination and effort.

If I worked as hard at my job as Mario did at his, I'd probably be typing this post from my secret Moon Base while Kate Beckinsale frolicked in my space pool and my pet dogs feasted on the bones of my enemies. Huh. I wonder if Mario would be interested in an internship opportunity now that he's unemployed...

Hat Tip: To everyone who e-mailed or commented to me about this sad news.

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So your team captain has been banned for the rest of the season because he attacked a fan during one of your country's most prestigious basketball tournaments. And this incident also happened to take place during your league's 35th anniversary celebrations. What do you do?

If you're the Burger King Whoppers, you make him your BK Player of the Week! No, really. Check out their Web site...or this screen grab. Take special notice of Arboleda's stats (or lack thereof). Congratulations, Wynne!

PotW 2

I'd been wondering what was up with Arboleda's 'tude, but then I looked at his team bio. Check this out: "Played three seasons from the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) under Laguna Lakers (1998-2000)...." That's the problem! He's a former Laker! That explains it.

Thanks to Basketbawful reader Sam for the head's up and the screenshot.

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Here's further proof, in case you needed it, that American basketball players in general and Ron Artest in particular don't have exclusive rights to The Crazy®: Wynne Arboleda of the Philippine Basketball Association recently made sports headlines you probably haven't read by attacking a courtside fan. Apparently, the fan -- Alain Katigbak -- "shouted profane words" at Arboleda after he committed his second flagrant foul during the PBA 2009-10 Philippine Cup. The second flagrant was turrible, but you can see a replay of the first flagrant foul at the 1:10 mark. It's definitely dirty enough to earn Arboleda a few profane words...and maybe even a short prison sentence. You know, unless the Philippines are a desolate, Mad Max-style wasteland. Although if that is the case: sweet!

Awesome, right? Even more awesome is the name of Arboleda's team: the Burger King Whoppers, formerly known as the Burger King Titans, the Air21 Express, and the FedEx Express. But awesomest of all is the fact that Arboleda was the team captain of the Whoppers and the son-in-law of the team owner. Not exactly the behavior you expect from a team leader, or anyone not infected with rabies for that matter. I'm sure Alain Katigbak didn't expect it. As hottie sideline reporter Patricia Hizon said, "no one ever really thinks that could happen to them." (Memo to the NBA: it's time to start importing sideline reporters from the Philippines. I understand that "all the ballaz around the world" love Cheryl Miller and everything, but I'd replace her with Hizon faster than Zach Randolph would skip an optional practice session.)

As a postscript to the incident, PBA Comissioner Sonny Barrios took a page out of David Stern's notebook and suspended Arboleda for the rest of the 2009-10 season without pay. It's the heaviest sanction in PBA history. Sound familiar, Pacers fans? Despite this harsh punishment, the PBA can't be too upset about Arboleda's freakout, considering the fact that it's been great for business: "Figures made available showed a 55.78 percent increase in sales during the Oct. 11 opener, which also hit a remarkable 108.45 percent increase in attendance compared to the same period of last year's Philippine Cup." Let's fight? Them's fightin' words!

Meanwhile, Arboleda issued a rather remorseless non-apology: "I take full responsibility and express regret over the unfortunate incident. My action was provoked by the incessant name-calling and cursing uttered by the said fan particularly to me each time I was within hearing distance. Even as I apologize to Alain Katigbak and his family, as well as the PBA fans, at the same time, I raise an appeal on behalf of other players to the PBA to recognize that provocations and invectives directed towards specific players unnecessarily test our limitations."

Translation: "I might have dispensed the contents of that can of Whup Ass, but the fan opened it."

Getting back to the Burger King Whoppers thing, I'm lovin' it. (Sorry for lifting your dandy slogan, McDonald's.) And the PBA is chock full of fun team names, like the Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, and the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters. Now those are some teams I could get behind.

I can only hope this imperialist expansion of American products into Filipino basketball naming conventions continues. Maybe someday residents of the Philippines will be able to watch thrilling matchups like the Vagisil All-Natural Douchebags versus the Tampax Panty Liners, or the Oscar Meyer All-Beef Foot Longs versus the Little Ceasar's Hot 'N Readys. It'll be like The Age of Aquarius: Part II.

Bonus Fun Fact: According to his Wikipedia page, Arboleda is known as "The Snatcher" because of his ability to snatch balls. And I don't mean in a Reggie Evans kind of way.

More Bonus Fun: Here's a list of violent spectator incidents in sports. My personal favorite is the women's suffrage activist who was trampled to death by a horse. Who knew horses were so violently opposed to equal rights for women? I guess you could say they really put the "rage" in "suffrage." Sorry. I had to do it.

Hat tip: Thanks to Basketbawful reader Grizzly for the head's up.

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I know what you're saying: "Of course I want hair like Pistol Pete Maravich! But how can a mortal man ever have hair so glorious?"

Well, it's easier than you think. Here's how to do it:

1. Grow your hair nice and floppy.

2. Use Vitalis Dry Control!

Warning: May make you painfully (perhaps even dangerously) 70s.

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A scene from Shaun of the Dead or a Larry Hughes jump shot sighting?

From TrueHoop: "On a more positive note, Larry Hughes of the Knicks hit a jump shot with 8:30 remaining to snap his 0-for-18 slump to start the preseason. Hughes finished 1-for-3, upping his accuracy rate to 5 percent in New York's five exhibition games." That's the Big Shot Larry we know and loath.

But don't worry, Knicks fans. After all, Big Shot Larry says he isn't worried about his cold shooting: "I haven't been getting a lot of shots that I want and making shots that I want. But it's the preseason. I think I'm getting limited minutes and not getting into a rhythm. But it will come. I've played in this league a long time. I'm not concerned." Well, you know what John Cusack would say: when they tell you not to panic, that's when you RUN!!

Man, it's the a good thing the Knicks are only paying him $13,655,268 this season. Wait...oh God...

Thanks to both Erick and Hogey for the head's up.

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It's almost regular season time, and you know what that means: the return of man love! Basketbawful reader Clifton sent in this preseason pic of Channing Frye hugging Martell Webster as if his loins depended on it. That O-face is a sure sign that Frye has really been missing his Portland teammates.

chan love

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victory screen

Further reading: Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24. Also check out the official Livin' Large FAQ, Cast List, Flow Chart 1.0, Flow Chart 2.0 and Parts 1 and 2 of the Livin' Large Epilogue.

Well, this is it: the final installment of Livin' Large. Many thanks to everybody who has been following and enjoying the series. You people drove this series. I guarantee this story would have been much shorter and much less interesting without all the encouragement. And for the people who have just wanted it to be over for one reason or another, consider your wish granted. Mat's tale is near the bottom, so if that's why you're here, scroll waaaaaaay down.

The Larry Bird shorts

Between my sophomore year in high school and my junior year in college, I probably wore my Larry Bird shorts more than 1,000 times. Easy. Maybe even close to 1,500. This is mostly because I wore them at night when I was chilling out or whatever.

Unfortunately, the graphics and lettering weren't stitched on. It was one of those iron-on numbers. Now, if I had washed them using a gentle cycle and maybe let their air dry, they might have lasted. But I was a teenage male. That meant my method of doing laundry consisted of jamming everything I wasn't currently wearing into the washing machine, choosing the maximum strength cycle, pouring in about half a bottle of detergent, pressing start, and praying that overloading the washing machine didn't cause it to break or explode.

So, naturally, after a great many washings -- but probably far fewer than they deserved -- the Larry Bird parts of the Larry Bird shorts peeled off completely. Once they had been reduced to nothing more than a pair of faded navy blue shorts, I tossed 'em.

The VHS basketball video collection

I still have it. Oh yes. In bags and boxes and stuffed into an entertainment center in my spare room. I need to convert those bad boys to DVD. I should probably do it soon before they're lost forever. It just takes so much damn time. Maybe next year. Of course, I seem to say that every year...

Bonus story: Evil Ted

By now, most of you know about Evil Ted, my pickup buddy and occasional contributor to Basketbawful. Even though he isn't part of this story, how we met is related to the end of my college career. Shortly before I finished my second degree, I started looking for jobs, mostly in Chicago. I had a couple jobs in the queue -- one a public relations position, the other an hourly technical writing job -- when I got a callback for an entry level tech writing gig in the Chicago loop. I drove into Chicago for the interview, which was conducted by the senior tech writer at that company...none other than Evil Ted.

I remember only two things from that initial interview. First, ET actually asked me, "If you were a tree, what tree would you be?" When I hesitated to answer, he said, "A horny maple, perhaps?" That was my introduction to ET's rather strange brand of humor. The second thing I remember is rocking the hell out of the interview. I drove back to school utterly convinced that I had that job in the bag. And because the opportunity with that particular company had impressed me so much, I immediately called the other two companies I had interviewed with and turned down their offers. That was on a Thursday.

On Friday morning, ET called me at precisely 8:13 a.m., waking me up in the process. "Hi, this is Ted," he began. "I wanted to thank you for coming in yesterday, but I'm afraid we won't be able to use you at this time. However, we will keep your resume on file in case there's another opening in the future."

Oh shit.

I wigged out. In less than a day, I had gone from what I had thought were three guaranteed jobs to none. There was only a month and a half until graduation. And I had recently become estranged from my mom, so I didn't have the option of moving back home and looking for a job when the school year ended. I either had to find a job or, well, that was the only option.

That same day, several friends got together to celebrate getting jobs. I felt like such a schmuck. I went home that night and spent the evening preparing 50 or so resumes and cover letters, which I dropped in the mail the next morning. That was on a Saturday.

On Sunday morning, I decided to write a thank you letter to Ted for the interview because, well, that's what I had been taught to do. As I was writing it, I suddenly came to a horrifying realization: I had used an old version of my resume and cover letter template the previous day. That meant the contact information -- home address, e-mail address, phone number -- were all wrong. Even if any of those 50-plus places wanted me to come in for an interview, they wouldn't be able to contact me.

Now I wigged out a second time. But even in that wigged out haze, I decided to go ahead and write that thank you letter. I pulled out my printer with shaking hands and immediately dropped it to the ground, where it broke into pieces that, like Humpty Dumpty, could not be put back together again. I stormed out of my room and stalked down to the dorm's computer lab. I cranked out the thank you letter, jammed it into an envelope, and stuffed it into the outgoing mail box at the dorm's post office. Then I set about looking for other job openings.

On Monday morning, my phone rang at about a quarter after 8 a.m., waking me up yet again. It was Ted. "Yeah, so things have changed, and I was wondering if you wanted to come in for a second interview."

Hardly believing my own luck, I said, "Yes, absolutely."

When I arrived on Wednesday morning, ET said, "You're going to talk to a couple of the managers, but first, we need to talk about something." ET pulled my thank you letter out of his pocket. Two things were circled with red magic marker. One was his name, which was misspelled. The other was the company name, which was also misspelled. Because I hadn't expected to ever hear from ET again, and because I had been so wigged out about the botched resumes and cover letters, I had written that thank you letter in haste without giving any though to actually proof reading it. Bad, bad, bad mistakes for a would-be technical writer.

"Should I be worried about this?" ET asked.

Head prickling with sweat, I replied, and this is an exact quote, "That is a terrible faux pas. It won't happen again."

"That's all I needed to hear," ET said.

I then interviewed with a lovely woman named Leanne (after which I was certain the job was mine) and a seemingly scary guy named John (after which I was sure the job was not mine). ET and I had a wrap-up chat, during which we uncovered our mutual love of Larry Bird. Then I made the long drive back to school.

The next morning, ET called and offered me the job. I accepted, and I've been with that company ever since.

As a postscript, ET later admitted that I had been his first choice based on qualifications but that he had extended an offer to a female applicant because he thought he would be more comfortable working with a woman (less intimidating). Only she turned down the offer shortly after ET had called to say the company didn't need me, which forced him to call me back the next day for the second interview.

"Thank God she turned me down," ET once said. "Hiring her would have been a big mistake."

I agree.

Aimee (and other random stories)

When Mat moved out a week into the second semester of my freshman year, I was thrilled for several reasons, not the least of which was that I suddenly had a single room. And that meant unlimited time alone with Aimee, if I could ever get her to visit me at school. That dream died a couple weeks later when Aimee broke up with me.

At the time, Aimee was pledging a sorority, and there was a dance. Apparently, it was important to attend the dance with a guy who was pledging a frat at the same school. So she planned to go with some guy that wasn't me. I found this out via her roommate, Latrisse, which led to some ugly words first to Latrisse and then to Aimee. One thing led to another, and suddenly I was single again.

But I wasn't buying it. After all, Aimee had said she loved me. I figured she was just confused and needed some time. Besides, we'd already made plans to attend the Residence Hall Formal at my school a couple weeks later. She agreed to keep up her end of that bargain, so Nathan and I drove down to Indy, picked her up, and brought her back to my school. As was customary, I presented her with a corsage. When I tried to get sentimental about it, she reminded me, "You do realize going to this dance doesn't mean we're back together?" Talk about a buzz kill.

We went out do dinner with my friend Joe, his girlfriend, Andrea, his girlfriend's sister, and the sister's date. We went to dinner at -- of all places -- Olive Garden. (Sorry, Nancy.) Then there was the dance. Let me just say it's really, really awkward to spend the night dancing with someone who recently broke up with you because she had been kinda-sorta cheating on you. But here's the funny part. At one point in the evening, we ran across Susan, who was newly single and there with her friend Josh (who was even more hopelessly infatuated with her than I was). Susan asked what was up with Aimee, and I said we were there as "just friends." So Susan asked for a dance with me, at which Aimee grabbed onto me like I was the last lifeboat of the Titanic. The girls stared at each other for a few seconds until Susan broke the tension by saying, "Maybe later, then." Aimee may not have wanted me...but she didn't want Susan to have me either. It was an all-around rotten time. And it was one of the last times I saw Aimee that semester.

So I was rid of Mat and had my own room, but I was much more miserable than I had been during the first semester. I moped through those months in a haze, particularly after Susan started dating Stu. I did end up going on one date. I had a study buddy named Jen, and in the process of calling her I'd gotten friendly with her roommate, Miranda. I asked her out for the Saturday night of a major party weekend at my school. (Hint: it revolves around a go-cart race.) She agreed, and we were having a pretty good time (even though I almost threw up after a ride on the Gravitron) until we stopped back at my dorm for a s'mores roast. Some lonely guy who lived at my dorm started whining to us (but mostly her) about not having anybody to hang out with. Feeling sorry for him, Miranda invited him to join us for the evening. He happily agreed and didn't leave our side for the rest of the night. I was pissed -- particularly in light of how Aimee had rejected me -- and we didn't go out again.

Summer came, and I went back home to a new step-father, a new house, and a new temp job with the Kokomo Parks and Recreation Department. It was a real joy, let me tell you. Four days a week, I had to use a push mower to trim sections of the many parks in Kokomo -- believe it or not, that little burg has 27 parks! -- and one day a week I had to help empty garbage drums at the parks. Trash duty. It was the worst. Basically, another guy and I had to life these 55 gallon cans over our head and shake the hell out of them over the edge of a garbage truck until all the trash fell out. Only the cans were rusty, full of holes (out of which leaked a horrifying substance we dubbed "trash juice"), and covered with giant, biting ants. Oh, and there were bees, too.

Another note about the trash runs. Two things you found lots of in park trash cans were dead pets and porn. Apparently, people who didn't want to bury their deceased pets or pay a vet to take care of the remains would simply drive by the park and dump them into a trash can. This happened all the time. Furthermore, in the pre-Internet porn era, guys who wanted a quick peek at tits would simply buy a dirty magazine, flip through it at the park, and then throw it away. I kid you not. These magazines always ended up in the back of the park trucks. There were hundreds of porn magazines stashed behind the seats of those trucks...which sure helped pass the time on breaks.

(Funny side note: One week, one of the KPRD guys and I were riding on the back of the trash truck when we saw this total hottie reading by herself under a tree. The guy, Jason, said, "Hey, maybe I should go ask her out." To which I replied, "What are you going to say?! Hey, baby, I don't pick up trash every day. Most of the time, I mow grass!" He cracked up...and didn't ask the girl out.)

Anyway, a week into the glorious summer break, Aimee called me up and asked me out. When we got together, she said she loved me, had made a mistake, and wanted to get back together. So back together we got. For a whole two weeks. That's when she (again) hit me right between the eyes. We were talking on the phone one night, and I suggested doing something or other the next night, to which she replied, "Oh, right. Uh, I'm going to be busy tomorrow night." When I suggested doing whatever it was the night after, she said, "Uhm, I'm actually going to be busy for about a week. And we probably won't get to talk much, maybe not at all."

For a week?! Whaaaaaaaa...?! Apparently, she had -- like her roommate Latrisse -- gotten addicted to online chatting during her second semester and met some dude who attended school at the Citadel. He had immediately made plans to visit her over the summer...plans she intended to let him keep. She explained that he maybe kinda-sorta thought the trip was romantic, and she wanted to spare his feelings by not revealing that we had gotten back together. As you can probably guess, that went over with me like a dead cat sandwich, so we broke up yet again.

I ended up spending the summer mostly just working and hanging out with friends, and semi-dating Cindy. Right before school started back up, Aimee and I got together, and she told me she intended to remain single during her sophomore year. I said fine, and that I would more than enjoy my freedom. Which I did, for about a week. But after a steamy game of Truth or Dare, a date with Cindy the Woman, and a made date with Susan, Aimee called. Or, as BadDave would put it, summoned me. And, sucker that I was, I went.

And we got back together.

I will say this. It wasn't the worst mistake of my life. In fact, that sophomore year ended up being the best and happiest year I spent dating Aimee. We never broke up. We had great times...times you get to share with another person only once in a lifetime. It wasn't all violins and roses, but it was close. To me, anyway. I'm sure BadDave remembers it differently. But I felt like the things we shared that year not only justified all the bad things that had happened before but also foreshadowed a long and happy life together.

Things started going bad the next summer. Originally, I was going to work at my college and live with BadDave over the break. But that failed for a couple reasons. First, BadDave got taken down by a stat curse. He had spent most of our sophomore year mocking me for spending so much time with Aimee, for letting her keep me "prisoner" on the weekends, while stating and restating emphatically that he would never let a woman control him that way. Well, guess who else was staying at school over the summer? BadDave's girlfriend. And guess who expected BadDave to spend every night with her? Yup. In the two weeks I stayed at school, BadDave and I hung out exactly zero times.

(Side story: Earlier that year, during a rare visit from Greg, I had -- at his urging -- invited over some girl we had met in a chat room. The beast, a girl named Annie, came over and threw herself at me, basically offering to be my NSA sex slave. I turned that offer down, and if you'd seen that monster, you'd know why. Anyway, the first night of living-with-BadDave-but-not-really-living-with-him, I was skulking around the apartment by myself feeling annoyed. I opened the front door just as someone else was opening the door of the apartment across the hall. It was Annie. "Matt!" she squealed. "I can't believe it! What luck! Now I have somebody to hang out with!" I said, "Uh, yeah, I'm busy." She said, "How about I make you dinner sometime?" I said, "Uh, sure, just knock." And I never answered that door again. Fortunately I moved in a couple weeks. The funny thing is, years later, when visiting BadDave at the dorm he was an R.A. at, I ran into Annie again. She was now a senior dating a freshman at BadDave's dorm. Not all that surprising. Freshman guys will have sex with almost anything that isn't tied down or on fire. And if it's on fire, they'll probably put it out and have sex with it. Anyway, I digress.)

Then, out of the blue, my grandma got sick and was diagnosed with cancer. It didn't look like she was going to make it, so I moved home to be there for her and the rest of my family. (Fortunately, Grandma 'Bawful pulled through and is still with us today.) But money was an issue, so I ended up getting two full-time jobs. By day, I moved furniture. By night, I stacked piles of newspapers onto wooden skids and then pulled those skids from one room into another. Basically, I was working from about 5 a.m. (or earlier) to midnight (or later) at two very physically demanding jobs. Aimee got off work around 1 a.m., so I met up with her for an hour or two, got an hour or two of sleep, and started over the next day. I did that for the rest of the summer. It nearly killed me.

I basically became a zombie. I shuffled from place to place doing what I had to do, but my brain was usually a blank slate. If I wasn't working or actively engaged in some kind of activity, I would fall asleep. My body got beaten up. I ended up with busted ribs, a torn shoulder muscle, countless ugly bumps and bruises, and aches and pains of every variety. But I was in a situation where I either earned money for school or I didn't go to school, so I endured that schedule...even as it wreaked havoc with my personal life.

Aimee and I barely got time to see each other as it was, and I was barely alive when we did see each other. Naturally, she began to feel neglected. One night, I even fell asleep while we were making out. "Okay, this is getting ridiculous," she said. She wasn't wrong.

I worked right up to the day I moved back to school. I literally got off work, loaded up my car, and drove to my dorm. BadDave had already moved all of our stuff back into the room from the on-campus apartment he had been staying in. But he wasn't there, having opted to spend the night at his girlfriend's place rather than try to arrange the mess that was our room. The place was a shambles. I spent maybe five minutes trying to move things around before I just broke down and started crying. Looking back, I think I was having a nervous breakdown. Three months of getting only a couple hours of sleep a night combined with working two physically grueling jobs had literally almost destroyed me, both mentally and physically. I was a mess. And I had let my relationship with Aimee fall into disrepair.

It didn't seem to matter at first. We were still together, and things seemed mostly normal. But the drifting apart process had already begun, and it continued over the course of the first semester and into the second. Sure enough, we broke up about midway through the second semester. I found out from her sweet mate, who had developed a crazy crush on me (that's a story in itself), that Aimee had started dating someone else before we had officially broken up. I never found out whether the "before we had broken up" part was true, but she was dating the guy. And she ended up going to Mexico to hang with him over the summer. Oh, and he was two years younger than I was, which really pissed me off for some reason.

I turned my attention to Susan, but as you know from the second part of this epilogue, that didn't work out. So by the time Aimee got back from Mexico at the end of the summer, I was open to pretty much whatever. We spent a weekend together at my school, taking advantage of the fact that I was now an R.A. and therefore had my own room. We even went out dancing with Susan and Brett, and Aimee made sure to impress upon Susan that we were an item in a way that only a girl dancing up on a guy in a crowded club can.

We might have officially become a couple again, but Aimee was spending the semester in Washington D.C. That was fine by me, because I was really into Susan. The only problem being, of course, that Susan was dating someone else and preparing to move to Seattle. When she made plans to see her boyfriend, Torrey, over our fall break, I made plans to visit Aimee in D.C. What a disaster that was.

So here's what happened. I made plans to leave on a Wednesday night after a major Statistics exam. That morning, I was driving to Kokomo to pick up some things Aimee wanted from her parents' house when my car broke down. I ended up walking five or six miles until some guy in an old pickup truck offered to drive me the rest of the way to Kokomo. I had the car towed to my mechanic, and he told me that some kind of air flow module was busted and that my car wouldn't be repaired until they could special-order the part. Suddenly I had no way to get to D.C. But I was determined.

My grandparents drove me back to school. The clock was ticking. I looked into airfare, but the cheapest ticket I could find was $700. I didn't have that kind of money, so I looked into Greyhound. There actually was a bus leaving my town for D.C. that night at 7:30 p.m. My exam began at 7:00 p.m. I figured that gave me 20 minutes to take the exam, after which my buddy Jeremy (who would be waiting outside) would drive me to the bus depot. Nooooo problem.

Problem. The T.A.'s giving the exam didn't hand out the test form until almost 7:20. I now had five minutes to take the exam. I did the only thing I could think of: I checked every C on the Scantron form, handed it in, and left. I thereby disproved that particular Urban Legend by failing the exam. Yay me.

The Greyhound trip lasted 24 hours, during which time I had to transfer buses seven or eight times. I sat next to every freak you could imagine and some you couldn't. One woman had bloody bandages on her feet and started to punch me when I tried to sit down (it was the last seat left on the bus). There was one guy who told me his best friend had recently been eaten by a bear while he was forced to watch. Another dude said he was a construction worker and claimed that he had just seen a man get disintegrated by touching a damaged electrical box. "All that was left," he said, "was boots and dust.” At one stop, this hillbilly family came in with eight or 10 garbage bags that were acting as their luggage. They stowed them in some seats and then walked off the bus. While they were gone, some people kicked their bags into the aisle and took over the seats. When the hillbillies returned, a brawl broke out and the bus had to be evacuated. It rained the entire trip.

By the time I reached D.C., I was exhausted. Aimee had convinced me to rent a room so we could have privacy. Only she ended up not staying with me. And she was so busy with school that we barely hung out at all. Except for one day of sight-seeing and one night of pub crawling, I felt like I was more or less on my own. And then I had to take the Greyhound back to Indiana. By the time I returned, I was ready to shoot myself in the head.

The semester ended and Susan moved away. Shortly after that, Aimee came calling. She told me she had made mistakes, that she hadn't treated me the way I deserved. I told her hell no she hadn't, and that I was done being her whipping boy. She said it wasn't going to be like that anymore, that she was going to show me what love was. It was pretty dramatic. And I believed her, so we got back together once again. For most of the rest of that semester, things were great. In some ways, they were even better than that fabled sophomore year. Aimee was putting her all into our relationship. She wrote me letters. She made a huge deal out of my birthday. She made a couple surprise trips to see me. When I got stuck doing R.A. duty over Spring Break, she came and stayed with me, even jumping in to help clean up a hallway that got flooded when a pipe broke.

I really thought we had finally become the couple I had always wanted us to be. Aimee had never been so sensitive, so loving. We started to talk openly about life after college. Marriage came up. There was one little snag. We were both about to graduate. Because my R.A. job was earning me a full ride, I had decided to attend grad school. But there was more to it than that. During the first semester, BadDave -- who was an R.A. at another dorm -- told me that he was going for a Staff Resident position. Staff Residents were basically the bosses of the R.A.'s. I had no interest in doing that at my dorm. Why take on the extra responsibility? I had enough on my plate. But then -- and this shocked the hell out of me -- BadDave laid down some trash talk. The implication seemed to be that maybe I wasn't up to the task...that maybe I wouldn't even be able to become a Staff Resident if I wanted to be. He further suggested that I hadn't put in the same amount of work at being an R.A. as he had.

To be fair, he was probably right about that last part. I was a good R.A., but BadDave took it all much more seriously than I did. Which makes sense, since he's now in Residence Life. But even though I didn't care, I couldn't stand by and let a challenge go unanswered, even if it was a gentle challenge from my best friend. I went for the Staff Resident position at my dorm and I got it. But, when the position was offered, my dorm's assistant manager asked me as a personal favor to only accept if I honestly planned to stay at least one more year. In other words: don't back out.

I agreed. But Aimee didn't like that. She wanted to go straight from undergrad to law school, and she wasn't planning to stay in Indiana to do it. But I was bound by my word...plus I had been accepted into a graduate program. We came up with a compromise. I was holding off on going to grad school and instead use my fifth year to complete a second undergrad degree. She would live in town and work that year, after which I would get a job wherever she was going to law school. I'd support her through law school, and then she'd support me through grad school. It was a good plan. And, like many good plans, it was destined to fail.

A few weeks before the end of the school year, Aimee dropped a bomb on me. She rather casually mentioned that she'd be living in Texas soon.

Once I'd picked my chin up off the floor, I said, "Wh...what? Texas?! What are you talking about?!"

"Oh, you know," she said, "I got that law internship in Texas. I told you that."

"Uh, no you didn't. I'm pretty sure I'd remember something like that."

"No, I know I told you," she said. "You must have forgotten."

Not friggin' likely. But that was that. She moved to Texas. We kept in touch. She told me about some guy she was dating, and how he broke her heart, and how the situation reminded her of that Jewel song Foolish Games. This made me want to throw up. In fact, it still does a little bit.

During my fifth year, out of bitterness, I started dating like crazy. Friends said I should install a revolving door in my room. I wish I could say that being off the leash was rewarding, but it wasn't. I was pulling out of the funk around Christmas time Aimee returned to Indiana to visit family. We spent a week or so together, capped off by a weekend in my staff resident apartment. She professed her love to me and vowed to finish her next assignment (she was at that time doing travelling consulting) and then move to my town until I graduated, after which we would start a life together. She seemed so earnest that I bit, hook, line and sinker. I remember watching her drive off and thinking, "It's finally going to happen."

Can you believe I fell for it again?

Aimee had promised to call me when she got to where she was going, but she never did. I knew she hadn't died, because her parents would have contacted me. I had to conclude she had chosen not to call. So I tracked her down. This was before you could Google people and places of employment, so it took me two weeks to find her through the company she was working for. She was staying in a hotel in Minnesota. I called her room dozens of times, but no one ever answered and she never responded to my messages. I just kept calling, more out of anger than anything else. I wanted answers.

After a couple of hundred calls, the woman at the front desk said she felt bad for me. "Are you...with...this woman?"

"Supposedly," I said.

"Well," she began, "then you should probably know, she's staying with a man. And I'm pretty sure they're together. Like, you know..."

"I get it," I said.

"I'll tell you what," she said. "I'm going to tell her it's an emergency and she has to take the call. Hold on."

I held on.

"Hello?" It was Aimee. She sounded suspicious.

"Hey babe," I said, and it took every ounce of free will not to scream or sound angry. "Man, I was starting to think something bad had happened to you."

"Oh, well, I'm fine," she said.

"I love you," I said.

"Thanks," she replied.

"Thanks? Don't you mean 'I love you too'?"

"Sure," she said.

"Say it," I demanded.

"No. Why are you trying to force me to say it? It should come naturally."

"Because I know you're there with some guy, and that's why you won't say it, why I haven't heard from you in weeks. Right?"

She didn't reply. I unloaded holy hell on her and hung up. Then I ransacked my room. Chairs, couches, tables, trash cans...everything went flying. And once I calmed down, I was fine. Like, I felt better than I had felt in years. That's one of the funny things about relationships. You never know the last straw is going to be until it gets dropped on your back. But when it happens, you know. You just know.

However, the story wasn't quite over. A few months after I moved to Chicago, I got a phone call from Aimee. "Guess what?" she said. "I just moved to Chicago!"

She came over to my apartment and made her pitch. "I moved her to be with you," she said. "Please take me back."

I didn't take her back. I had moved on. It was over. I think Aimee had difficulty believing that, and even more difficulty accepting it. Which isn't surprising. She probably thought I'd keep taking her back forever and ever. I had told her that before with words, and I had taught her that with my actions. But our relationship was finally and irrevocably over. A couple months later, she moved back to Texas.

Over the course of Livin' Large, there have been two schools of thought: that Aimee was a bitch and that I was an idiot to keep getting back together with her.

Regarding that first school of thought: yes, Aimee did a lot of stupid and even cruel things. However, I don't think that made her a bad person. In fact, the situation reminds me of the fable of the scorpion and the frog. In case you don't know it, here it is: a scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, "How do I know you won't sting me?" The scorpion says, "Because if I do, I will die too." The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp "Why?" The scorpion shrugs and says, "It’s my nature."

The point isn't that Aimee was a scorpion, simply that it was not in her nature (at that time) to commit to things. She constantly wanted new experiences, to meet new people and do new things. When she had an impulse, she followed it. When she tried to live a more conventional lifestyle, things didn't work out. Because she loved me and saw me as someone worthy of spending her life with, she tried to fight her nature. I also tried to make her change her nature through persuasion, manipulation, etc. See, my nature was to seek stability, which ran counter to her desire for freedom from commitment.

Any relationship predicated on the need for one or both people to change on a fundamental level is doomed to failure.

As for why I was "stupid" enough to keep taking her back, well, I was brought up to believe that if you loved somebody, you had to be willing to sacrifice anything to be with them. I hadn't yet learned that love alone can't sustain a relationship, and that sometimes loving someone means letting them go for the good of everybody involved.

Aimee and I kept in touch for a few years, but eventually it all just faded away. I still keep in semi-regular contact with her parents, whom I have always thought the world of. Particularly her father, George, whom I've written about on this site and consider one of the top three men I've ever known. But I never ask them about Aimee, and they never tell me anything about her. It's like an unspoken agreement or something. A high school friend recently told me she's currently working as a viticulturist in California.

Believe it or not, I did have a brief e-mail exchange with Aimee a year ago. I received an auto-generated e-mail from a high school reunion Web site that somebody had just searched for my name, and that person lived in the last place I remembered Aimee living in. A few days later, after her birthday, I received another auto-generated e-mail that the person who had searched for my name just had a birthday. So I figured what the heck, and I sent a short happy belated birthday e-mail to her last known (to me) e-mail address. A few days later, I received a brief response, basically saying hello and asking what was new with me. I sent a long reply...and never heard back.

Maybe it's better that way.


After dropping the Shelly bomb on him, Mat and I never spoke face-to-face again. I saw him at various times, like when he was riding his bike around campus or hanging out at the local bars (always with an unreasonably hot girl in tow).

Susan spoke to him once. She and her roommate Jen (who was mildly obsessed with Mat) ran into him at a party. Jen asked if he remembered me (this was during my sophomore year). Mat said, "Yeah, that guy's a loser." Then Susan (according to Jen) went off on him. I always appreciated that.

Mat spent his freshman season as a redshirt. In the ensuing three years, he went on to become one of the school's greatest basketball busts. Here was a seven-footer with Shaq size who simply could not play. Watching him try was like watching an elephant attempt to ice skate up hill. Mat had no feel for the game, no sense of how to play it. The physical skills were there. He just didn't get basketball.

During his senior season -- by which time he was playing alongside another future NBA All-Star -- Mat made token appearances in 13 games, averaging 0.5 PPG (on 33 percent shooting), 0.5 RPG, 0.1 APG and 0.0 BPG in 2.5 MPG. And that was his best statistical season.

When I finished my first degree after my fourth year, I went ahead and walked through the graduation ceremony (mostly because my mom insisted on it). There were two lines of graduates going into the building. By some strange twist of fate, Mat was standing almost directly across from me in the other line. Some guy behind me remarked to his buddy, "Hey, look, it's Mat [Last Name]. They dude actually graduated?" The buddy replied, "Apparently. But I don't see any honor cords on his gown." Then they both burst out laughing. That was just one of the many jokes Mat was the butt of during his college career.

I lost track of Mat after he graduated. However, I was back on campus a year or so after I graduated and happened to be in a bar where the men's basketball coach was doing a radio show. He mentioned that Mat was playing pro basketball in Africa. "He told me he scored 25 points last night," the coach said. "I was shocked. I don't think that kid scored 25 points while he was here. And that includes practices!" And the running joke continued.

In 2003, Mat showed up to the annual midnight magic event for a men's basketball alumni game. And here's the shocker: Mat played 20 minutes and finished with eight points, 2 boards, an assist and a steal for the white squad. Despite his best-ever performance in the name of his former school, the black squad won 47-44.

A few years ago, when Basketbawful was still very new, I decided I wanted to do a post about Mat. Yep. Just one post. I still have the draft in an old Microsoft Word file titled "The Worst Basketball Player I Ever Lived With." It's awful. I basically tried to cram the entire Livin' Large series into about 1,500 words. It lost a lot of its charm, mostly because it was hard to provide perspective and context to a lot of the situations. But that isn't why I failed to complete it. Originally, I wanted input from Mat himself. So, to that end, I spent a few weeks trying to track him down on the Internet.

After quite a bit of effort, I finally found an e-mail address. In my initial e-mail, I didn't explicitly state that I was his former roomie, but I used an address that was basically my first and last name followed by a number. I figured either he'd put two and two together -- although, admittedly, math wasn't among his strengths -- or he wouldn't. I basically said I was interested in knowing more about his college experience and asked whether he could share stories, stats and maybe some pictures with. To my great surprise, Mat replied two days later. He said he'd be happy to share the information with me, but that he was busy coaching a girl's basketball team in Europe. He promised to send me a lengthy reply the first chance he got. A week or so went by and I didn't get any e-mails, so I sent a short message asking if he still intended to write back. He replied the next day that he would as soon as he got a chance. This went on for a month or so until he simply stopped replying.

I was bummed. I had been this close to getting inside information from the protagonist of my story...and it fell through. I kept searching for information about him on the 'Net, but I never came up with anything substantial about his college career or his life after.

So I sat on the story. I would go back to it every so often and give it another try. But it quickly became apparent that I could never squeeze the entire saga into one post. That's when I got the idea of doing a series. By that time I was working for Deadspin. I pitched the story, it got rejected, and so I sat on it yet again. Then, this summer, I sat down at my computer and started fresh.

Oddly enough, writing the Livin' Large story helped me find out that Mat is currently (it appears) an MMA fighter. It seems fitting. Although the one fight I saw was rather sad, I can only presume that someone with his size and strength can probably kick some major ass. Then again, it sure seemed like someone with his size should be able to grab a rebound, so who knows.

I also came by what appeared to be Mat's current e-mail address. Yes, I sent an e-mail. Yes, I explained who I was and why I was writing. No, I never heard back. I figure that either he never received the e-mail (bogus address?) or he actually heard about or read some of the Livin' Large series and wanted nothing to do with it. It's too bad. I would have dearly loved to get his feedback, even if it was negative. In fact, especially if it was negative. I think Mat deserves his chance at a retort. And if I ever hear back from him, he can have it. I will post whatever he has to say, completely unedited, on this site.

Just don't hold your breath.

In the final analysis, Mat and I were, simply put, a bad match. I suppose that, had I been less into studying and more into partying, I would have loved living with him. Plenty of freshman men in our dorm thought I had the best possible situation. I'm sure Mat was just as unhappy with me as I was with him. He was the villain in my story, and I was the villain in his.

The school

I love my school. To this day, I still bleed school colors. So many memories...fountain runs, studying in the engineering mall, saying "hello" to people on the Hello Walk, sand volleyball outside my first dorm, the giant map in the memorial union, the late and lamented Stripe Shop, the brick buildings, the way the campus came alive on football weekends, Breakfast Club, the bars that are gone (like Kazoos and T.A. Toms), sitting in Harry's with BadDave from noon until close munching the free popcorn and drinking toxic amounts of beer, working out and balling at the Co-Rec, working for the school paper, climbing the clock tower, intramural sports, the residence hall formals, on and on and on again.

Those were and always will be some of the best years of my life. I will always feel like my life, my real life, began in college. I can't imagine having gone anywhere else. I imagine most people feel the same way.

And yet...sometimes I think about what-ifs. I actually received a full ride from Indiana State University in my original chosen major of journalism. Obviously, I chose to go elsewhere. Now most people, when they imagine having chosen another path for themselves, they tend to think, "Wow, I wouldn't have done this thing, or I wouldn't have met that person." What I usually think is this: had I gone to ISU instead, I likely would have met people who would have become my friends for life, made a different best friend, and fallen in love with other women. Those people are out there right now...people I would have shared the best times of my life with. But I'll never meet them. We'll live and die never knowing the other person's name, or if they even existed at all. That always gets me for some reason.

Of course, if I'd gone to ISU, I never would have lived with Mat, and there would have been no Livin' Large, maybe even no Basketbawful. So even though rooming with Mat was the worst five-month living experience I ever had, I'd say things worked out for the best in the end.

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