tag tat
I look for any reason to re-post Greg Ostertag's Fred Flintstone tattoo.

Thanks to the wonders of Google, I noticed that today marks the 50th anniversary of The Flintstones. That, of course, gave me a perfect reason to re-post Greg Ostertag's wicked-awesome Fred Flintstone tat, which ranks second only to Brad Miller' Scrappy Doo tattoo in the all-time list of "Ridiculous Tattoos on White NBA Players."

Third place? Jason William's White Boy knuckle tat. Or Whit Eboy, depending on how you look at it. Classic.

Anyway, while we're here, I might as well post some more Flintstones-related bawful. For instance, take this video from the old NES Flintstones game. This is the kind of crap -- along with abominations like Deadly Towers -- that made me fear electricity during my teens.

Seriously, wouldn't you love to see Fred and Enemy
as playable characters in the new NBA Jam game?

(Random aside: Back in the day, my buddy Statbuster actually gave me Deadly Towers as a birthday gift. You have to understand that, in the early 1990s, receiving a video game as a gift from a friend was virtually unheard of. I was shocked and honored. Until I put that thing into my Nintendo. Jamming a live rat full of rabies into the console would have been more humane and far less dangerous to my psyche. The best part? Statbuster refuses to admit this ever happened. He literally wiped it from his memory. I should probably do the same.)

Then there are these super-cool Flintstones-inspired Nike high top shoes. Really, Nike? Really? If I wore these to my pickup league, I think even the most passive person there would be compelled to beat me to a gruesome and bloody death with my own footwear. And I would thank them for it.

flintstone shoe
Only $109.99 on eBay! What are you waiting for??

Happy birthday, Flintstones.

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bawful vs italy
Can you pick out the Americans?

Editor's note: I am critically behind in e-mail. How critical? I'm seriously considering abandoning my e-mail address and starting new. I keed. But seriously, I'm way behind. If you've e-mailed me and not received I response, it's not because I don't love you. Know that.

Buon giorno, everybody.

Evil Ted and I just returned from another work trip in Pisa, Italy. During last year's trip, our primary goal -- other than that whole "work" thing -- was to find a pickup basketball game. We very much wanted to match our American basketball skills against the skills of our Italian counterparts. You know, for the sake of, uhm, international relations. Yeah.

Well, we failed. Utterly. Here's the proof.

This year? Great success! Our Italian supervisors, perhaps out of guilt for making us once again trek across the sea to learn things we could have figured out over Skype, worked relentlessly to find a way for us to play basketball during out visit. And by "worked relentlessly" I actually mean they figured out someone in the Pisa office has a weekly pickup basketball group.

It took a few days of asking around, but we managed to set up a game for the first Friday of our trip. The thing about pickup ball in the Pisa area is that there aren't really any courts you can just walk onto. Rather, there are gymnasiums where you can reserve court time by the hour. Unfortunately, we were unable to reserve the court in Pisa -- as far as anyone told us, there's only one court there -- so our Pisan co-worker Tim reserved a court in nearby Livorno for the low, low price of 50 Euros.

The day of the big game, Tim came by our "desk" for a little shop talk. (I put desk in quotes because it was more like a long wooden table with a bank of computers. Kind of the computer software version of a sweatshop. Very Orwellian.) It quickly became obvious that Tim takes his basketball quite seriously. He gave us incredibly detailed scouting reports on everybody who would be playing: Who could shoot, who could drive, who crashed the boards, who like to run, etc. He even told us that one guy was a lefty, so we needed to adjust for that. It was all very thorough.

Tim also let us know that he was pretty good...and that he hated to lose. He claimed to be a brutal smack talker who didn't mind getting in people's face and playing hard, hand-checking defense. To illustrate this point, he pushed me hard in the chest. Just so we were clear.

(For the record, I always get a chuckle when a pickup baller tells me he hates to lose. It's always good to know when somebody can't be included in the massive hoards of people who enjoy losing. You don't want to play with those people.)

Evil Ted and I listened without offering any description of our abilities. After all, there was no sense in tipping our hands and letting our soon-to-be opponents prepare for us. That and we were starting to get nervous. Were we in over our heads? Tim's description made his group sound like some very serious ballers. What if we got schooled? That would be humiliating. Especially since our secret fantasy was to establish our American basketball dominance.

Friday after work, we rushed back to our hotel and switched into our basketball duds, after which we rushed right back to the office to meet our co-worker Brent, who had agreed to give us a ride to Livorno. On the way to the court, we picked up Brent's son and his son's friend, who (as Tim had warned us) liked to run.

Before we arrived, Brent told us not to expect an American-style gym. He was right. If you didn't already know the building housed a basketball court, you'd never guess it in a million years. Honestly, the outside looked like an old Roman ruin crossed with something out of a Nightmare on Elm Street movie. If I hadn't been with some locals, I wouldn't have ventured inside...or anywhere near it for that matter. It looked seedy and dangerous, and I couldn't imagine what state the court would be in.

Turns out, the court was pretty nice. It was regulation size (by which I mean international regulation size). The floor was painted cement, which was odd, but it was fairly tacky and provided decent traction. Rather than the rectangle you see on standard American courts, the painted area was a trapezoid. The ball was severly overinflated and the rims were a tight and tempermental as any rims I've ever used. ET and I were the first ones on the court shooting around before the game, and we chucked up some pretty spectacular bricks. I couldn't even get my patented hook shot down. Ever shot was clunking off the back iron or rattling out.

Our nervousness was on the rise.

After some light warming up and stretching, the other players slowly ambled onto the court. Two people were late, so we started with four-on-four. Tim and someone we didn't know divided up the players. That someone we didn't know suggested a team of me, Evil Ted, Tim, and a blocky, slow-footed man named Robert. Tim was not happy about this. He felt the talent was weighted on the other team, particularly since they were mostly young gunners. Tim thought they were going to run us off the court. He demanded that when the other guys showed up, our team would get the better of the two.

Due to our team's presumed defensive shortcomings, Tim called for a zone. "We cannot stay with them man-to-man," he insisted. I was positioned at the bottom of the zone directly under the basket. Before the first check in, Tim looked at me very seriously and said: "Don't let me down."

No pressure.

Now, before I describe the game itself, I should probably say a few things about how it was played relative to American pickup ball. Rather than a game of ones (for standard two-point shots) and twos (for three-pointers), the scoring was by standard twos and threes. But here was the weird thing: Rather than keep a specific score -- for example, 10-7, or whatever -- each team kept track of how many they were ahead or behind. For instance, assume a team was ahead by that 10-7 score. They would yell out "Plus three!" Our hosts explained this method is easier than tracking the actual score.

Hey, when in Pisa, right?

Here's another weird thing. Rather than always checking the ball in at the top of the key, the ball was immediately checked in wherever play had been stopped. If the ball went out of bounds on the baseline, the team with possession would simply throw it back into play and go. Foul under the basket? Quickly throw the ball inbounds and go. This process took some getting used to.

Okay, so those were the only major logistical differences. But the style of play was also vastly different.

The first 5-10 minutes was nothing but fastbreaking. Seven seconds or less? Try four seconds or less. It was run-run-shoot, rebound or inbound, run-run-shoot, rebound or inbound, run-run-shoot, etc. Just mad sprinting up and down the court. After that initial burst, things slowed down and it became more of a standard half court game.

That half court offense was like nothing I've experienced before. It was like 1940s basketball. There was no physical contact. None. It was like everybody was surrounded by a personal force field. That's not to say people didn't play up on each other and contest shots. But when I went into the post, or crashed the boards, I wasn't getting hacked, held, poked, pushed, etc. like I'm used to in the U.S. I never really thought of my usual weekly pickup league as being all that physical, but now? Let's just say it was something of a culture shock to be posted down low without a forearm in my back or a knee up my ass.

The halfcourt plays basically had two options: The Drive and The Whip. The Drive was a simple, straight ahead, bull-in-the-China-shop stampede toward the hoop that either ended in a layup attempt or an overly elaborate pass back out to the perimeter. The Whip was where the ball would whip around to various stationary players until a wide open shot was created against our zone. And that shot, when it came, was always a long-range set shot.

I have to tell you, as the foundation of our zone, I felt like Bill Russell. For the most part, I simply rotated around the paint forming a wall between the basket and anybody who chose to drive. During the first several minutes, I blocked six or seven shots. I mean, guys just came straight at me. No juking. No fancy-schmancy circus shots. They just made a head-on assault on the basket, seemingly determined to shoot the ball directly through my waiting hands.

Once my Russell-like presence was established, our opponents became increasingly reluctant to attack the rim. And when they did, they were taking these awkward, windmill-style layups that were usually way off the mark (although, admittedly, a few did go in).

The thing that struck me about the moves I was seeing is that they were all very linear. There wasn't much in the way of zig-zagging or hotdogging with the ball. Nobody was overdribbling. It was either a straight drive or a pass to comebody cutting or standing wide open. It seemed very fundamental and unselfish.

It seemed bizarre.

Of course, offense was where we had the most fun. I have to tell you, I've never in my life played with so little physical contact. I'm not trying to obsess over this, but it was huge. I'm a reasonably skilled big man, and I was the tallest person in the gym that night. As a result, I got layup after layup after layup. It's not that guys weren't contesting, but seriously, try going up over someone several inches shorter than you without getting touched. You're going to convert a lot of shots that way. I felt like Wilt Chamberlain.

(The lack of contact, and the expectations of it, was evident both ways. I lightly brushed somebody on his way to the hoop and he immediately stopped and started jabbering in Italian. I asked Tim for a translation. "He says you killed him," he said. Really? I wasn't even sure I touched him.)

Another thing was, when people blocked out, there man didn't try to forcibly shove them off their spot. They just tried to find another open spot from which to pursue the ball. There was one guy who kind of shoved me once. I shoved back, and that was it. Nobody got physical with me again for the rest of the night.

This set the stage for some serious board crashing, not only by me, but by Evil Ted as well. ET is a guard, and he usually stays out on the perimeter. When he realized how free and open the paint area was, he started going after the basketball. In 12 years of playing with him, I think I'd seen him try to tip in a shot maybe once. Maybe. That night, he attempted three tips and converted two. And I have to admit, they were pretty wicked tips.

We also ran. Well, I should say, I ran and ET hit me Peyton Manning style for easy layups. It basically went like this: I'd grab a rebound on our end, shuffle the ball to ET, sprint past everybody, and receive a loooong pass from ET for the open zero footer. During one stretch, we did this three or four plays in a row. It was like nobody there had seen a full court pass before.

We killed our opponents. Badly. It was +3, then +9, then +18, then...we just stopped keeping score. About three quarters through the game, Brent got hurt, so Tim switched sides to go five-on-four against us.

We still killed them.

Okay, here's the last weird thing. When our hour was up, everybody just stopped. Like, stopped mid-play. Everywhere I've ever played in the States, people try to wring every last second out of a game, typically running over the alotted time. So seeing people willingly walk off the court when there was nobody waiting and no obvious reason to call it quits was kinda strange.

I got a ridiculous amount of praise after the game. Guys were high-fiving me. Somebody told me I should try out for the Italian league. Tim joked (in a somewhat irritated voice) that I had a "triple-triple" (I assume he meant points and rebounds). I have to admit, it felt good.

Not for Tim, though. He was our ride to the train station so we could get back to Pisa. Only he stormed out of the gym. We had jog to catch up. Turns out he was frustrated that he hadn't played better (or maybe that me and ET had played so well). He told us that we could expect better from him next time. And to be shut down. (As a follow up, he showed up to work on Monday and greeted us with, "Good morning, ladies.")

It didn't matter. We were stoked. And we couldn't wait for next week's rematch.

Only it never happened. There were trips and schedules, and nothing could be worked out. We never got the chance to prove we were legit. For all we knew, we might have simply been First Night Superstars. It's possible our Italian foes would have figured out our games and put it to us. We'll never know.

And unless we go back and find another group of Italian pickup ballers, we'll never know if we were genuinely good or just good relative to our competition. And that's okay.

It was just fun to hoop it up overseas.

As a postscript to this story, I officially got back from Italy late last Friday night and played my first American pickup game on Sunday morning. Within 20 minutes, I had a busted lip. Yep. Didn't miss the extra physical contact.


As you may have surmised by my lack of updates, it's been a little while since I've played any NBA 2K10. Partially this is because it's just hard to get into it during the off-season. Not to mention NHL 11 is pretty friggin' sweet. However, I've also had an increasingly common system error on my PC that causes the game to spontaneously freeze to a black screen for two or three seconds, then finally reload at the pause menu. I've traced it back to a hardware conflict of some sort, but nobody can seem to pinpoint what causes this because it's a very generic error. It's frustrating since it really disrupts the flow of the game (though at least it's not as bad as a racing game where I've already gone off track and crashed into the barriers by the time the game recovers), and the error is getting more and more frequent.

Needless to say, this has kind of zapped my desire to continue my current NBA 2K10 My Player career, especially since I have recently gotten a PS3 and we're so close to the release NBA 2K11 and it's competitor NBA Elite 11 (formerly NBA Live). Or not. Keep reading...

The NBA 2K11 demo was recently released on the Xbox360 and Playstation 3, roughly three weeks prior to the game's scheduled October 5th release. I have, however, only played the demo once because the demo is crap.

Don't get me wrong. The game itself isn't necessarily crap, and I actually expect it to be pretty good. I loved NBA 2K10, and theoretically it should only be better with the addition of the Michael Jordan modes, plus fixes and improvements to the addictive My Player mode, not to mention any other polishing and fine-tuning. The problem is the demo's lack of options. As in any options. At all. You get to play five minutes of action as the Lakers against the Celtics in Pro difficulty with all the defaults, and no commentary. That's it. You have to play as the Lakers. You have to play with the annoying broadcast-style camera. You have to use the default control scheme and default difficulty levels (which make blocks and steals far too frequent).


As you might have guessed, I was none too pleased with being forced to play on the same team as Kobe (I felt like a much shorter, much less athletic, and much less successful Luke Walton for five minutes, though I did spend roughly as much time on an actual basketball court as he did during the playoffs). Aside from that, it seems like a pretty solid game. Okay, yes, your players' speed being restricted to either running or crawling like you are being weighed down by the gravity on Jupiter, and the graphics used for the ball itself are disturbingly, oddly shiny like it was doused in a layer of baby oil. But beyond that, I'm looking forward to buying this title.

Lucky me, I suppose, since it looks like it'll be a little while before I could buy NBA Elite 11 even if I wanted to. EA Sports has officially delayed the release of NBA Elite 11, while in the interim NBA Live 10 will be updated via free downloadable content for the 2010-2011 NBA season. Also, the PS3 and Xbox360 versions of NBA Jam that were supposed to be included with Elite will now be separate releases, though we still don't have the details of how they're going to handle that. (However, the Wii version of NBA Jam still is set to be released on October 5th. So that's nice.)

The explanation given by EA Sports president Peter Moore is vague at best, but it boils down to the actual response from the general public to the playable demo -- it's crap. It's buggy, the new control scheme is not being very well-received (it's not as bad as some people claim, especially if you've played NHL 11 with its similar new controls scheme, but it's still needing improvement), and the game is buggy and lacking polish.

And seriouly, did I mention the bugs? Check out this video (NSFW audio):

Fast-forward to 3:00 into the video. Trust me.

What the fuck, indeed.

I'll be interested to see what the final version of NBA Elite 11 looks like, assuming it ever actually sees the light of day. I personally thought it didn't play that bad, and the graphics looked okay (if a little shiny) to me, but there are quite a few dissenting opinion out there. Looks like EA's got some serious programming to do.

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rasheed wallace rule
'Sheed responds to the new Rasheed Wallace Rule.

Rasheed Wallace Rule (ruh-sheed' wah'-luhs rool) noun. The informal name for the new NBA-mandated guidelines for technical fouls related to "overt" player reactions to referee calls.

According to ESPN's Henry Abbott, referees have been instructed to call a technical for:

Players making aggressive gestures, such as air punches, anywhere on the court.

Demonstrative disagreement, such as when a player incredulously raises his hands, or smacks his own arm to demonstrate how he was fouled.

Running directly at an official to complain about a call.

Excessive inquiries about a call, even in a civilized tone.
Refs can also consider dropping the T-Bomb on players who "use body language to question or demonstrate displeasure" and "take the long path to the official" (that is, walking across the court to make their case). Just guessing here, but I bet laughing at calls is also off limits.

Usage example: Did 'Sheed know The Rasheed Wallace Rule was going into effect this season? Maybe that's why he decided to hang up his jock.

Word History: At TrueHoop, Abbott noted that a similar set of rules were implemented prior to the 2006-07 season. (I called those guidelines "The Rasheed Wallace Rule" even back then.) After a very short enforcement period, those rules were forgotten almost as thoroughly as Pauly Shore's entire misbegotten career.

So the big question is: Will they stick around this time? I doubt it. But if they do, we may never see another montage quite like this:

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Practicing is about all Morrison did in L.A.

Let me state up front that I wanted this entry to be about Ron Artest. See, I'm still bitter. Still bitter that he couldn't keep it together when he was on the Bulls. And I'm very bitter about his time with the Pacers: Not only did the infamous Pacers-Pistons brawl he started ruin Indy's last serious shot at a title, he did it during Reggie Miller's final season. Then, after Pacers GM Larry Bird gave him a second chance, Ron-Ron began the season by asking for a couple months off to promote his rap album (his request was declined)...and then he demanded a trade (that request was granted).

The Pacers are still recovering, both financially -- they're losing about $30 million a year and the city of Indianapolis recently granted the team a $33 bailout just to keep them from leaving town -- and in terms of oncourt success. Seriously, it's starting to look like the Pacers may never be good ever again.

Thank you, Ron Artest. Thank you very much.

And yet I can't do it. I can't include Artest in my list of Worst NBA Champions. There are two reasons for this. First, he may well have been the difference between the Lakers winning the title or succumbing to their hated rivals. He didn't have a good playoffs -- his shooting was turrible (39% from the field, 29% in threes), he missed 16 of his 38 fouls shots, and he gave up 110 points per 100 possessions -- but he made crucial contributions in the Finals. Namely, slowing down Paul Pierce and hitting some key shots, particularly near the end of Game 7. It's not inaccurate to suggest the Lakers might not have won without him.

Secondly, there's ample reason to suggest that Artest really is batshit crazy. And as funny as it is when Ron freaks out and mistakes mushrooms in his yard for giant, deadly snake eggs, the reality seems to be that his struggles with mental health are both genuine and organic. Much as I hate to admit it, I actually felt something close to joy for the guy when he thanked his psychiatrist after the Lakers won the title. After all, here was a man who had escaped the hell of his own mind to achieve a very real, very public redemption.

As a Pacers fan, I hated him. As a human being, I applauded him.

So Ron gets a free pass this time around. Instead, I turn my attention to The 'Stache: Adam John Morrison.

I almost feel bad about picking on Morrison. God knows he's been picked on enough during his brief and highly unsuccessful NBA career. I say "unsuccessful" relative to the expectations placed on him. Of course, his so-called lack of success has earned him two NBA championships and almost $17 million in cold, hard cash. Man...I wish my epic fails were more like Morrison's.

Still, his fall from grace has been long, hard, and face-first into the giant Palm of Destiny. After all, he was a great player in college. Wait. Scratch that. He was a great scorer in college. During his third and final season at Gonzaga, he led the nation in scoring by averaging 28.1 PPG while shooting almost 50 percent from the field and nearly 43 from downtown. As Wikipedia recounts: "He had 13 games of 30-plus points, with five of them over 40. His scoring totals against teams in the "major" conferences are no less impressive; he averaged 28.5 points in 11 such games. On February 18, Morrison recorded a career high 44 (including 37 in the second half alone) points against Loyola Marymount Lions in a winning effort."

Dude could put the biscuit in the basket.

During his final game as a college student -- versus UCLA in the Sweet Sixeen -- Morrison led the Zags with 24 points. Unfortuantely for Adam, UCLA came back from a 17-point deficit and literally stole the game in the final seconds. Heartbreak City, baby. Before the game had even ended, Morrison started to cry. Then, when it was finally over, he flopped on the ground, pulled his jersey over his head, and wept like a wee little baby. Here's the entire spectacle:

It was an ugly scene. And as you could see, his tantrum prevented him from helping give his team a chance at the end...and he took some serious shit for it. Not enough to keep him from becoming an NBA lottery pick. But still.

Of course, there were legitimate concerns regarding his NBA prospects. He was slow. He was slightly awkward and not particularly athletic. Despite his size (6'8"), he didn't rebound very well (only 5.1 RPG for his college career and 5.5 during his final season). He didn't do much to make his teammates better either (to wit: during his final season at Gonzaga, he averaged about 20 FGA and almost 10 FTA but only 1.7 APG). And his ability make the transition to the pros was seriously questioned:

While Morrison’s dominance at the college level can’t be questioned, many still doubt how his game will translate to the next level. Morrison has a certain amount of deceptive quickness to his game, but is he a good enough athlete to be a star in the NBA?

With how hard Morrison has to work to get shots at the college level, can he create offense against the Ron Artests and Bruce Bowens of the NBA? While the caliber of defender guarding Morrison has made little difference during his time at Gonzaga, it remains to be seen whether he has the footspeed or overall athleticism to succeed as an all-around scorer at the next level.

The other hole in Adam Morrison’s game can be easily observed on the defensive end. Morrison clearly reserves most of his energy for his scoring expoits, and tends to coast on defense most of the time. Gonzaga will often switch into zone defenses so teams can’t exploit him on that end.

While Morrison has solid defensive instincts when he is focused, it is generally perceived that the lack of footspeed will really hurt in one-on-one situations on the defensive end. Morrison may very well be able to create his own shot in the NBA, but it is hard to see him being able to stay in front of the freak athletes occupying the wing position in the NBA. It is likely that whichever team ends up drafting Morrison will have to come up with a defensive gameplan that covers for Morrison’s shortcomings on that end.
Despite the many doubts, Michael Jordan -- in one of his first acts as Manager of Basketball Operations of the Charlotte Bobcats -- made Morrison the third overall selection in the 2006 NBA Draft...ahead of guys like Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay and Rajon Rondo, not to mention a scad of other servicable roleplayers (J.J. Redick, Ronnie Brewer, Boobie Gibson, Paul Milsap, etc.).

Morrison's entry into the Association led to some semi-brilliant NBA Live commercials:

There was also one about his mustache that I can't figure out how to embed. Unfortunately, these commericals -- filmed before he had played a single NBA game -- turned out to be the best part of his entry into the league.

Morrison had a rough rookie season -- 11.8 PPG, 37% FGP, 33% 3P% -- and lost his starting job after only 23 games because of bad shooting and worse defense. By all accounts, Morrison spent the offseason working himself into terrific shape only to tear the ACL in his left knee during a preseason game, which forced him to sit out the entire 2007-08 season. When Adam returned for the the 2008-09 campaign, he had regressed (4 PPG, 35% FGP). It didn't help that the 'Cats new coach, Larry Brown, hated Morrison's defense and preferred strong drives to willowy three-pointers. At the trade deadline, he was shipped to L.A., where he passed out enough Gatorade and handed out enough clean towels during timeouts to become an NBA champion.

There were rumors Morrison might not return for the 2009-10 season, that the Lakers might trade him or buy out his contract. No dice. L.A. held onto him because, by all accounts, he was a hard worker and a diligent practice player. And ideal 12th man. But not a rotation player.

In all, Morrison appeared in only 31 games. He never played more than 16 minutes and 53 seconds. For the season, he took 85 shots and scored only 74 points. His season high was seven points. In 25 of his games, he scored five points or less. In 10 of his games, he didn't score at all. His shooting percentages were 37 percent from the field and 23 percent from beyond the arc.

His postseason contributions were even more limited. He appeared in exactly two first round playoff games: He logged four minutes in the Lakers' 110-89 Game 4 loss in Oklahoma City, and he put in eight minutes worth of work during L.A.'s 111-87 home win in Game 5.

And that was it. Those were his final minutes of PT as a member of the Lakers. When Morrison's contract expired this summer, Mitch Kupchak let him know his services were no longer required. He worked out with a few teams -- the Bulls and Celtics, for instance -- and it appears he might be hooking up with the Washington Wizards. Which, honestly, is great, because -- like I said -- he appears to be a focused, determined player who is well-liked by his teammates.

Just ask Kobe Bryant: "[The fact that Morrison couldn't crack the rotation] is a testament to our team, honestly, because Adam can really play. He can really, really go. For him to take a step back and to do things like that really helped us get to that championship level."

Considering how rarely Kobe doles out praise, that's really saying something. And it gets to the point of this post. Unlike some of the other Worst NBA Champions, Morrison wasn't a locker room cancer, or someone who put himself ahead of team goals, or someone who bragged about accomplishments he was barely a part of, or a huge douchebag. It seems he was a character guy who took his role with the team very seriously but simply wasn't good enough to keep his job.

Or even get in a real game.

No, Morrison wasn't a bad guy. He was -- and is -- a walking, talking, non-playing cautionary tale. He had a truly memorable college career, but he went bust in the NBA. It's not his fault. It's not like he didn't try. And I'm sure it's something that's pretty hard to take. It would have to be.

But he has a ring.

Update! Bonus video: Morrison's 2010 NBA Finals highlights (via Wild Yams):

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He has more rings than Jerry West and Oscar Robertson.
And he's dating Maria Sharapova. Nope...life isn't fair.

This may be hard for you to believe right now, but during the summer of 2008, there was some serious drama about whether or not the Lakers would be able to re-sign Sasha Vujacic, a.k.a. The Machine. So much so, in fact, that he was threatening to take his talents to South Beach Europe. No, really.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Lakers reserve guard Sasha Vujacic, a restricted free agent, is prepared to leave the team and accept an offer from a European team in the next few days if the Lakers don't make him an offer he deems fair, according to a source in the Vujacic camp who spoke only on the condition of anonymity.

The source said Vujacic is seeking a multiyear deal from the Lakers averaging about $5 million a year. Vujacic was hoping for a six-year deal, but anticipated it could be a shorter contract.


Because the Lakers are over the luxury tax, they would be assessed an amount equal to any sum they spend over it.

Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak has been negotiating with Vujacic's agent, Rob Pelinka.

"We are very aware of the global market as it has changed over the years. It was our desire to bring Sasha and Ronny back. It continues to be our desire to bring Sasha back," Kupchak said Thursday after hearing of Vujacic's ultimatum. "However, with the ever-changing marketplace that Europe has become, a player, in order to cover his bases, can negotiate with his NBA team and, at the same time, have a plan that allows him to have the possibility of going overseas."
I loved it. Loved it, I tell you. Especially the "according to a source in the Vujacic camp who spoke only on the condition of anonymity" part. It may as well have said, "according to Sasha Vujacic, who is posing as a member of his make-believe camp and therefore needs to speak only on the condition of anonymity."

Mind you, these crazy demands were issued shortly after Vujacic got used by Ray Allen like a Clorox Wipe on a stripper pole...during a critical possession of the NBA Finals no less:

Anyway, the possibility of losing Vujacic to some foreign team actually got some people worked up. People like Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie. Okay, not really. Dwyer was kidding. Most likely. But I distinctly remember reading some Lakers fan posts urging Kupchak to build a wall of money around the United States over which Vujacic would never be able to escape.

On July 25, 2010, that's exactly what Kupchack did:

Lakers restricted free agent guard Sasha Vujacic has agreed to a three-year, $15 million contract after emerging last season as a key member of the Western Conference champions.

"We felt Sasha made great progress in this past year, and our coach showed great confidence in playing him the second half of the season," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said Friday in confirming the agreement, first reported by the Riverside Press-Enterprise. "Assuming he continues to work as hard during the offseason as he has in the past, I don't see any reason that trend wouldn't continue."

The 24-year-old Vujacic averaged a career-high 8.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 72 games this season, and 8.1 points 2.2 rebounds and 0.8 assists while playing in all 21 playoff games.

Vujacic drew national attention June 10, scoring a career playoff high 20 points including a crucial 3-pointer with a little under two minutes remaining in the Lakers' 87-81 victory over the Celtics in Game 3 of the NBA finals.
Hey, sure, why not? Vujacic had been pesky on defense and a pretty reliable shooter on offense (45% from the field and 43 percent on threes). He had that good Finals game. And the fans loved Sasha. Even Kobe Bryant loved Sasha. Just ask...Sasha:

"They are my team. They brought me over from Europe and I feel at home in this organization and in LA. Everywhere I'd go, Lakers fans would say to me, 'Please re-sign, you have to come back Machine.' And that really gave me a warm feeling about it."


"It's always kind of been older brother, younger brother with Kobe and I. Kobe called me on the first day of free agency and said, 'I love you and we all need you. But whatever you decide, I'll stand by your decision.' Then he called me on the last day I was deciding and at the end of the conversation, we both said, 'Let's do it.'"
Wow. With all that love, and the newfound riches, there was nothing holding Vujacic back from having the best season of his career. Nothing except the fact that he wasn't really all that good to begin with.

During the 2008-09 season, Sasha regressed. His scoring average dropped 3 PPG and his shooting went to hell (38% from the field, 36 from downtown). His decline into a pasty mass of useless man-flesh highlighted the only potential vulnerability in L.A.'s championship hopes: Lack of depth at the guard position.

In all fairness to Vujacic -- I can't believe I'm even typing those words -- he did start the season with a fractured ankle (as an anonymous reader reminded me). That would qualify as a setback. Said Vujacic: "I realize that it is what it is. You've got to play it smart. And, it's going to be OK. Right now, it's just a little bit frustrating."

Even more so for Lakers fans, Sasha.

If Vujacic's regular season was a failure -- and let's face it, he managed to disappoint on a team with the perpetually disappointing Luke Walton and Adam Morrison -- his playoffs were the rotten cherry on the poop sundae of his career. Vujacic logged 250 minutes over 23 postseason games and was, without a doubt, the most cadaverous of the active Lakers (Morrison wasn't on the playoff roster). He averaged only 3 PPG on 26 percent shooting. His PER was 4.2. He compiled an Offensive Rating of 82 and a Defensive Rating of 104. He finished the playoffs with a Win Share of -0.1, tied with D.J. Mbenga for worst on the team. And at least Mbenga had an excuse: He only played 16 postseason minutes. All I know is finishing with a negative Win Share score on a championship team is a pretty bad sign. Much like waking up with a pit bull's mouth clamped to your genitals is a bad sign.

What's more, Vujacic's performance in the championship series nearly earned him "Legally Deceased" status. In five Finals games, Sasha scored exactly zero points on 0-for-6 shooting. His series totals were: 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover and 3 fouls. It's like the Magic paid him off to suck. (Huh. That sounded bad.) The only thing he didn't do was whack Kobe Bryant in the knee with a baseball bat.

Money well-spent, Mitch.

Beyond his general uselessness in his team's championship cause, Vujacic just bugs the shit out of me. He's one of the biggest, creepiest, most annoying douchebags in the NBA. If not the biggest. As Stormin' Normam Disciple of Not Qualified To Comment said: "This whiny, flopping, jabbering idiot pisses everyone off." That's right: Everyone. Even teammates. I mean, the dude tried to start some junk at practice with Adam Morrison of all people (said Kobe: "A lot of meowing going on out there. The claws coming out.")

Seriously, his teammates can't stand him:

I mean, really:

And again:

Aaaaand again:

And don't think it's only his teammates. Remember when Carmelo Anthony tried to choke a bitch? Check it:

And let's not forget this ill-timed nonsense from the 2010 Western Conference Finals...

...which almost earned him a death sentence from Kobe:

I don't think he was joking. Considering what Kobe's legal team has done for him in the past, I'm surprised Sasha didn't enter witness protection.

So yeah. I have a little extra emnity for this basketball waste product. It's bad enough the guy is being paid millions to mop the Lakers bench with his Eurotrash ass. He's also a miserable excuse for a human being. God, I hate that guy.

But he has a ring. In fact, he's got two.


Update! Sincere apologies for not linking to the Vujachicks site, something so utterly bawful it is retroactively erasing cool things from our reality even as you read these words. As of this writing, several classic Atari 2600 games no longer exist...but that damn E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial game still does. Thanks, Vujachicks.

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Sorry it's been a few days since the last post in this series.

I also apologize for skipping the 2006-07 San Antonio Spurs. There just wasn't anybody in that group who really stood out as a Worst NBA Champion. And I spent literally minutes thinking about it. You know, between reading picking out bellybutton lint and Googling "Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus."

So since I copped out on naming the worst winner from the '07 Spurs, I am handing out the ultra-rare co-Worst NBA Champion award to Brian Scalabrine and Scot Pollard. Because we hear at Basketbawful take our quotas very seriously.

These fine examples of the inequites of human life appeared in a grand total of 70 games for the 2007-08 Boston Celtics (22 for Samurai Scot and 48 for the Ginger Ninja). Scal logged more minutes (517 to 173) but Pollard was the better shooter (52% to 30%). And although the raw numbers put Brian (1.8 PPG, 1.6 RPG) and Scot (1.8 PPG, 1.7 RPG) in a statistical dead heat, Pollard had the higher PER (8.7 to 5.7). They both finished the season with 0.6 Win Shares.

But enough about the regular season. With all due respect to Jim Mora, let's talk about playoffs. And that's where these two men have something in common. You know, besides their stunning whiteness and strangely similar Wikipedia pictures. They both logged exactly zero postseason minutes for the '08 Celtics.

Zero. Zilch. Nada.

"But Basketbawful," you say, "Didn't the Celtics beat the Lakers by 39 points in the series clincher? Surely Brian and Scot made at least a cameo appearance."

Nope. They were both left off Boston's playoff roster.

Of course, that didn't stop Scalabrine from showing off his ring with impunity:

Ring count: Brian Scalabrine 1. Charles Barkley, Dominique Wilkins,
Elgin Baylor, John Stockton, Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing 0.

Ditto for Pollard. Warning: Don't look too closely at Craig Sager's freaky thumbnail:

But I'm gonna go ahead and give Scal and Pollard 1a. and 1b. status, respectively. Brian earned it. With this post-championship press conference:

When Brian Scalabrine becomes the voice of victory, something has gone horribly wrong.

Anyway, Pollard went out on top, retiring after his one and only title. Scalabrine hung on for a couple seasons, but the summer of 2010 -- during which Darko "Manna From Heaven" Milicic got a $20 million contract -- left Brian jobless.

And here we are.

Pollard is best known for bad hair, telling kids to do drugs on live TV, and inciting Cheryl Miller into her infamous "ballahz around the world" speech. Meanwhile, according to ESPN's Tom Haberstroh, Scalabrine is the worst player in Celtics history.

But they have rings.

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I keep glancing over at the calendar on my cubicle wall while at work, and I keep looking at the date on my phone the rest of the time. We're getting so close to the start of the NBA season, even if it feels like a million years from now (which is, coincidentally, the same timeframe as when we can expect the Clippers to return to the playoffs).

Kevin Durant just picked up Team USA on his back and carried them to a FIBA world championship (America, fuck yeah!). Aside from further ripping the hearts out of Seattle basketball fans and leaving Portland fans cursing Greg Oden's name, that means we're left without any actual basketball activity for a few weeks. So what is there to do with that downtime??? The same thing we do every year -- make horrible predictions!

Nearly every sportswriter in the country will dish out their mindless prognostications about the upcoming season in the next few weeks, so why don't we beat them to the punch? Besides, who cares about making simple predictions like who will win the championship? I know you guys can do better than that. There are more bawful things to consider, like who will be the first player to get busted for possession this season? How many crab dribbles will LeBron get away with in the first month of the season? Post your thoughts in the comments. I'm sure it will be fun to look back at them after the season's done!

Sorry if you were going to predict that the Minnesota Timberwolves will take out a full page ad in the back of the newspaper to inform their fans that the team will suck again this year -- you're too late. This already happened. (And since I got the link to that article from a Simmons tweet, I feel I must include this: KAAAHHHNNN!!!)

Also, another potential prediction of "When Shaq will do something so crazy that it seems Artestian" has been ruined. Shaq got a nice little head-start on us by bringing the crazy even before I could finish writing this post. According to a lawsuit, The Big Defendent misunderstood the phrase Hack-a-Shaq, and is therefore being accused of computer hacking, destroying evidence and attempting to frame an employee by planting child pornography on his computer.

You'll need to read the article to get a full appreciation for how amazing this is, but I'll give you a brief rundown: Shawn Darling, who worked as Shaq's personal IT guy a few years ago, basically accuses Shaq of doing lots of illegal activities trying to cover up a myriad of affairs. These activities include hacking into voicemails, changing phone passwords, throwing a PC with evidence on it into a lake, illegally obtaining restricted info on mistresses through people he knows in law enforcement, and finally this gem: "At that point, Darling claims Shaq sent him threatening messages, tried to break into his voicemail and enlisted the help of an active Arizona detective to master a computer program that would allegedly allow him to frame Darling for possession of child pornography so that Shaq could confiscate the computer holding evidence of his affair with Lopez."

So getting back to my previous point before being interrupted by so much bawful... we'd love to hear your predictions for this season. Head to the comments section and have fun!

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Ever since Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James made The Group Decision to take their talents to South Beach -- which totally wasn't collusion in any way -- almost everybody outside of South Beach has been taking pot shots at the three of them and the Miami Heat organization.

Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy suggested that Bosh was acting like Wade's bitch ("Well, he's been following him around for two weeks like his lapdog.") while Magic GM Otis Smith openly questioned the existence of LeBron's testicles ("I thought he was, I guess, more of a competitor.")

The Super Friends even got busted on by NBA legends like Charles Barkley ("I thought that his little one-hour special was a punk move. I thought them dancing around on the stage was a punk move, and I thought he should've stayed in Cleveland. Him joining Dwyane Wade's team was very disappointing to me."), Magic Johnson ("We didn't think about [joining forces] cause that's not what we were about. From college, I was trying to figure out how to beat Larry Bird."), Larry Bird ("I remember back in my days, I'd rather play against Earvin Johnson than play with him.") and Michael Jordan ("There's no way, with hindsight, I would've ever called up Larry [Bird], called up Magic [Johnson] and said, 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team.'").

Of course, Barkley twice jumped ship (from Philly to Phoenix to Houston) for better championship opportunities, while Magic (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott, etc.), Bird (Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, etc.) and Jordan (Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, coach Phil Jackson, etc.) had their fair share of legendary sidekicks.

Anyway, Pat Riley is feeling a little pissy about all the judgement:

"I take a little umbrage to some of the things that came from people in our game who, all of a sudden, have become the moral conscious or moral authority on the decision of every team or some individual might make," Riley said Friday during a conference call with South Florida writers. "I know one thing: Our team will be ready. And I think that's the way we can answer all the critics."

"Charles Barkley, to me, went way, way, way over the top taking these personal attacks. Calling these guys a bunch of punks is a personal attack," Riley said. "For him to say that is wrong."

"I thought that (what Smith said) was an absolutely stupid remark. He never made any kind of comment like that when he signed Rashard Lewis and brought him from Seattle (in 2007) with a $128 million contract," Riley said.
Mind you, during the 1984 NBA Finals, Riley referred to McHale and the Celtics as "thugs." He also gave Jackson the rasberries during the Knicks-Bulls rivalry. Ditto for Jeff Van Gundy during the Heat-Knicks rivalry. And we all know about how he stabbed Stan Van Gundy in the back in taking over Miami's coaching job a few years back. So I'm not sure why he's casting stones now. Neither does Van Gundy:

"I thought it was pretty typical. I was kind of amused by it, especially reading down through the interview," Van Gundy said. "He goes into Charles Barkley, me and Otis and then says he doesn't worry about what people say. Wait, you called the press conference, you went off and everybody and you don't care what people say? Clearly, he cares a great deal about what people say. I was laughing when I saw that."

"Pat's thing calling Otis' remarks stupid, I don't think they were any different than what several ex-players who played when Otis did had to say. They looked at the game differently back then and backed up what we said," Van Gundy said. "The position LeBron and Bosh took isn’t necessarily wrong, but it's different from what (Michael) Jordan, Magic (Johnson) and Larry Bird would have done. Otis was a part of that generation -- he wasn't at that level -- but that's the way those players looked at (James and Bosh going to Miami). Those (former players) wouldn't have tried to team up. So what Otis said wasn't a stupid remark. Unless of course you have a different opinion than Pat, then apparently it's stupid."

"Whether it's appropriate to do it or not (to pass judgments) is another issue, but if it's OK for Pat to do it he shouldn't be judging other people," Van Gundy said. "Pat was upset that he and his guys have gotten some criticism and he's sensitive and the funniest part of the whole thing is him saying he doesn’t worry about what people say. My question is then, 'Why did you go and call your own press conference?'"

"Pat getting onto people for making moral judgments made me laugh," Van Gundy continued. "I was with Pat when we had all of those Knicks series and he had no problem making moral judgments on my brother. What I read into that was that I guess Pat is the only one allowed to make those moral judgments and the rest of us can't do that. I guess we didn't realize that Pat's the only allowed to do that."
Wow. I haven't seen bickering like this since watching two teenage girls get into a slapfight over the last Twilight hoodie at Spencer's.

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A couple days ago, ESPN's Marc Stein revealed the Eastern Conference rosters for the new NBA Jam game. Most teams have three current players and at least one legend, although some teams (such as the Charlotte Bobcats and Milwaukee Bucks) are legendless.

(Sorry, Big Dog. You didn't make the legends cut.)

Some of the legends made me laugh (Glen Rice and Rony Seikaly for the Heat), some made me want to cry (Detlef Schrempf for the Pacers instead of Reggie Miller or Rik Smits), and still others left me scratching my shaved head (Larry Johnson is a Knicks legend...really?!).

Other notables: No Jordan. Penny Hardaway isn't one of Orlando's legends (that honor goes to Nick "The Brick" Anderson and Scott Skiles). Manute Bol is Washington's sole legend. The Pistons somehow got four current players (Richard Hamilton, Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon). Oh, and Bill Laimbeer is a Detroit legend...so we all get one more chance to thug him.

I gotta admit, I'm stoked. Can't wait to find out the Western Conference lineups. Any legends predictions? Any Eastern Conference legends you would have liked to see (I was thinking Wilt Chamberlain for Philly myself).

Btw, the Raptors don't have a legend presumably because (giggle) Vince Carter is still, like, an active player and stuff (he's on the Magic's Jam roster). But they do have their mascot! (H/T Sorbo, Mladen and chris)


worst nba champs - walker
Note that, in his championship wallpaper, Antoine is waving a towel.

On August 2, 2005, the Miami Heat acquired Antione Walker in a five-team, 13-player deal that went down as the largest trade in NBA history. And get this: The trade included Greg Ostertag! I kid you not. I can think of no better way to begin this post.

Anyway, here are the details:

Walker traded by the Boston Celtics to the Miami Heat; the Memphis Grizzlies traded Greg Ostertag (whom they had received from the Sacramento Kings) to the Utah Jazz; the Miami Heat traded Qyntel Woods, Alberto Miralles, a 2006 2nd round draft pick (Edin Bavcic) and a 2008 2nd round draft pick (Nikola Pekovic) to the Boston Celtics; the Miami Heat traded Eddie Jones to the Memphis Grizzlies; the Miami Heat traded Rasual Butler to the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets; the Utah Jazz traded Curtis Borchardt to the Boston Celtics; the Utah Jazz traded Raul Lopez to the Memphis Grizzlies; and the Utah Jazz traded Kirk Snyder to the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets.
Now that's some serious player movement. Actually, it's more like a bowel movement, considering the players involved. But I digress.

The Walker acquisition was part of Heat GM Pat Riley's "all-in" attempt to win a championship before Shaq aged himself out of dominance. To that end, Riley also brought in Gary Payton, Jason Williams and James Posey. Riley believed his team was in an all-or-nothing situation...and history has proven he was right.

Some people might say this is an unfair selection. After all, it could be argued that 'Toine made reasonably significant contributions to the 2005-06 Miami Heat (in fact, Basketbawful reader Arouet did just that in yesterday's comments section).

For the season, Walker averaged 12.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 2.0 APG while shooting a career-high 43.5 percent from the field (yes I said "career high 43.5 percent") and 35.8 percent from downtown (which was the third-best mark of his career). He was the team's fourth leading scorer and his Player Efficiency Rating of 14.4 (which was fifth best on the team) ranked him somewhere between "in the rotation" and a "pretty good player."

So why am I picking Walker? History, dear readers. History.

The Boston Celtics selected Antoine with the sixth overall pick of the 1996 NBA Draft, ahead of players like Kobe Bryant (the 13th pick) and Steve Nash (the 15th pick). He was supposed to revive a Celtics squad that had won only 33 games the season before. The Walker Hype Machine led to the following totally awesome commercial:

Unfortunately, that commercial represented one of the last times Employee Number 8 ever went to the basket. During his rookie season, 'Toine led the C's in points (17.5) and rebounds (9.0)...but Boston actually dropped from 33 wins to 15. That's right: Adding Walker made the Celtics 18 games worse.

Of course, in all fairness to Walker, the Celtics were tanking in hopes of winning the Tim Duncan lottery. Unfortunately, they had stiff competition from the Vancouver Grizzlies (who went 14-68), the San Antonio Spurs (David Robinson missed 51 games and their leading scorer for the season was a one-foot-in-the-grave Dominique Wilkins) and the Philadelphia 76ers (who managed only 22 wins with a trio of Allen Iverson, Jerry Stackhouse and Derrick Coleman).

We all know how this turned out. The Spurs got the first pick and and took Duncan with it. The Sixers got the second pick and wasted it on Keith Van Horn. The Celtics actually had the third and sixth picks (the latter of which was acquired in a trade with the Mavericks that involved, giggle, Eric Montross).

Tracy McGrady was available...but Boston didn't pick him. (Knee-Mac went ninth.) With the third pick, the Celtics wisely took Chauncey Billups. Sadly, they traded Billups the very next season (along with Dee Brown, Roy Rogers and John Thomas) to the Toronto Raptors for Kenny Anderson, Popeye Jones and Zan Tabak. Boston fans can thank Rick Pitino for that bullshit.

With the sixth pick, they unwisely selected Ron Mercer, who lasted a season and a half before getting shipped to Denver (with Popeye Jones and Dwayne Schintzius) for Danny Fortson, Eric Washington, Eric Williams and a 2001 1st round draft pick (Kedrick Brown). Thanks again, Pitino.

So I guess it wasn't all Walker's fault that the Celtics continued to suck. And he was a workhorse of sorts. During his second season, he played all 82 games, averaging 22.4 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 3.3 APG and 1.7 SPG. Unfortunately, he was still a rather inefficient scorer (42% from the field, 31% from downtown, 64% from the line). What's more, despite all the steals, his individual defense wasn't great. Those two things -- inefficient O, shaky D -- were recurring trends for Walker, who never once finished a season with a better Offensive Rating than Defensive Rating. In fact, his finished his career with an O-Rating of 97 and a D-Rating of 105.

That's right: 'Toine was worth -8 points per 100 possessions over his career.

Whatever discipline Walker had under coach Pitino disappeared when Jim O'Brien took over during the 2000-01 season. That campaign began a stretch of three straight seasons in which Antoine led the league in three-point field goal attempts: 603 (or 7.4 per game) in 2000-01, 645 (8.0 per) in 2001-02, and 582 (7.5 per) in 2002-03. Unbelievably, he still couldn't get his Offensive Rating over 100 (it was a dismal 92 during the 2002-03 season...which might explain why his Offensive Win Share score was -1.6).

Walker's inefficiency was (partially) masked by O'Brien's run-and-gun offense (O'Brien was doing the whole Seven Seconds or Less thing years before Mike D'Antoni "invented" it and "made" Steve Nash). So his averages (20-ish PPG, 8-ish RPG and 5-ish APG) earned him a spot on the 2002 and 2003 Eastern Conference All-Star Teams. In fact, I believe it was during one of those All-Star weekends when 'Toine was famously asked why he took so many threes, to which he infamously responded "Because there are no fours."


During the second round of the 2003 NBA playoffs, Boston got swept by the New Jersey Nets. Walker was terrible during that sweep, going 23-for-67 (34 percent) from the field and 3-for-15 (20 percent) from beyond the arc. Remember: Walker was known for being a shooter. I can't stress this enough.

The Celtics decided it was time to go in a new direction. On August 4, 2004, 'Toine (along with Tony Delk) was sent to Dallas for Raef LaFrentz, Chris Mills, Jiri Welsh and a 2004 first round draft pick. Mind you, LaFrentz -- who had averaged 9.3 PPG and 4.8 RPG the previous season -- still had six years and almost $70 million left on his contract. That's how badly the Celts -- GM Danny Ainge in particular -- wanted to get rid of Walker.

And Walker was pissed about it:

"I didn't have a relationship with [Danny Ainge, the team's new director of basketball operations and a former Celtic], period. They're going to say cap reasons and this and that. But anybody who knows basketball knows this was a personal situation. He didn't like me. It's either him or the owners. Somebody didn't like me.

"I figured I had too much power for them. I think I had too many friendships off the court. I think he felt he couldn't have a relationship with me. And I just think he never had a high regard for my game. He's entitled to that opinion. I'm 99 percent sure coach [Jim] O'Brien didn't want me to leave."
Maybe...maybe not. As far as I could tell, the C's were united in their desire to exile their All-Star forward:

In a news conference at the Celtics' training facility, Ainge denied that the move was personal, but then allowed that Walker's strong personality was a factor. Ainge said Walker's outspoken presence may have "stifled" the leadership of other Celtics.

"Antoine had a grasp on our franchise," Ainge told The Globe. "If Antoine is Michael Jordan, it's OK to have a grasp. If Antoine is Larry Bird, it's OK to have a grasp, or Bill Russell. I think those players had grasps on their franchises.

"But I didn't perceive Antoine's grasp on us as a positive thing."

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck also denied the deal was made because of a personality conflict.

"It was a unanimous recommendation from everybody involved in basketball," Grousbeck told The Globe. "The two people that [owner] Steve Pagliuca and I met with on Saturday, Jim O'Brien and Danny Ainge, both recommended the deal. The coaching staff, the scouts, player personnel, and Danny unanimously backed the deal. It was not personal."

It has been well-documented that Ainge, in his capacity as a television analyst, had been critical of Walker and his style of play.

"I think Antoine Walker is an excellent player and he's done an excellent job in this organization," Ainge told The Globe. "This is simply basketball. This has nothing to do with anything personal. I don't know Antoine except from basketball observation, from a fan, coaching, and general managing perspective. Maybe I didn't have as high a regard for his game as he had for his game, but I certainly respect Antoine Walker as a player."
Still, things could have been worse for Walker. He was joining a Mavericks team that had won 60 games the season before (which tied the Spurs for best in the league) and led the Association in Offensive Rating (110.7 points scored per 100 possessios). But in the 2003 Western Conference Finals, the Mavericks had lost to the Spurs in six games.

Now, it's worth noting that Dirk Nowitzki got hurt in Game 3 of that series and didn't play again. So who knows what might have happened with a healthy Nowitzki. Still, Mark Cuban was freaked out enough to pull an "all-in" stunt of his own, bringing in both Walker and Antawn Jamison.

The stunt failed. Oh how it failed.

Despite Walker's 27 percent three-point shooting, Dallas once again led the league in Offensive Rating (112.1) but their Defensive Rating fell from ninth in 2002-03 to 26th in 2003-04. The team had no depth and was forced to rely on bench players like Josh Howard (a rookie), Eduardo Najera (declared "legally useless" by productivity scientists) and Shawn Bradley (a.k.a. NBA bitch). Worse, the chemistry the Mavs had displayed the previous season was blown to hell. The result: Dallas dropped from 60 wins to 52, finished third in their own division (barely ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies) and got schooled by the Sacramento Kings in the first round of the playoffs.

That was the end of the Walker Era in Dallas...not to mention the Nash and Jamison Eras. The Mavs traded 'Toine Dallas (again with Tony Delk) to the Atlanta Hawks for Alan Henderson, Jason Terry and a future first round draft pick. Walker was actually leading Atlanta in points (20.4) and rebounds (9.4), and he was second in assists (3.7) and steails (1.2), but the Hawks still wanted nothing to do with him (these days that kind of production would have earned him a six-year, $119 million contract).

So at the trade deadline, Atlanta shipped Walker back to the Celtics for Tom Gugliotta, Gary Payton, Michael Stewart and a 2006 first round draft pick (which became Rajon Rondo after the Hawks traded it to the Suns who traded it back to the Celtics). Supposedly, Walker was brought in to bolster Boston's playoff run...only the Celtcs lost in the first round to the post-Brawl Indiana Pacers. Even worse, the C's lost Game 7 in Boston by the humiliating score of 97-70.

So Walker had failed as a) a savior, b) a roleplayer, and c) a returning hero. Which brings us full circle to his time with the Heat and why I can't stomach the fact that Antoine Walker has more NBA titles than Charles Barkley, Dominique Wilkins, Elgin Baylor, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Steve Nash, John Stockton, and whoever else you want to name.

Look: Walker was an inefficient ballhog who preferred chucking up ridiculous shots to attacking the rim. In the rare event he did make it to the line, he tended to brick his free throws. I mean, honestly, how does a "shooter" hit only 63 percent of his foul shots for his career? The most frustrating thing was that Walker had a solid set of NBA skills. If he'd had a higher basketball IQ, and a more realistic grasp of his place among the NBA elite, he could have been a truly great player.

Instead, he piggybacked his way to a championship in Miami. During the 2006 playoffs, Walker took more treys than any other player (148 of 'em) despite shooting only 32 percent from three-point range. He averaged 13 PPG, but he was the only Heat rotation player to have an Offensive Rating below 100 (it was 97) and an negative Offensive Win Share score (-0.2). And his postseason PER of 10.6 was seventh on the team behind Dwyane Wade, Shaq, Alonzo Mourning, Udonis Haslem, James Posey and Jason Williams.

During Miami's four wins in the Finals, Walker went 6-for-17, 5-for-11, 2-for-7, and 6-for-17. Oh, and he was 3-for-21 on threes. So, yeah. He wasn't exactly lighting it up. Again remember: HE WAS A SHOOTER.

The next season, Riley suspended Walker for being too fat. The season after that, Riley had the same complaint before saying "fuck it" and trading 'Toine (with Michael Doleac, Wayne Simien and a 2009 first round pick) to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Mark Blount and Ricky Davis.

Think about that: Riley preferred having Mark Blount and Ricky Davis over Antoine Walker. If that doesn't say everything, nothing will.

Anyway, you know the rest of this sad story. Walker played about half a season in Minnesota (14.9 PPG, 36% shooting, 32% on threes) before the Timberwolves told him to just stay home. Unable to come to a buyout agreement, the T-Wolves shipped him to Memphis the next summer. After a few months of paying him to sit at home eating Twinkies, the Grizzlies decided to pay him $9 million to go away forever.

Which is more or less what he did. But his name was still in the news because of his ongoing legal problems (from Wikipedia):

On January 5, 2009, Walker was arrested for suspicion of drunk driving at Miami Beach. He had been driving with his headlights off and reportedly had a strong odor of alcohol. His case is still pending and thus has not been convicted.

On July 15, 2009, Walker was charged with three felony counts of writing bad checks related to gambling debts he had incurred at three Las Vegas casinos. Walker was arrested on July 15 at Harrah's Casino in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The charges stemmed from over $800,000 in gambling debts. Walker was in Tahoe to play in the American Century Celebrity Golf Classic the following day.

On June 30, 2010, Walker entered a plea of not guilty on felony bad check charges stemming from his failure to pay $770,000 in gambling losses to Caeser's Palace and two other casinos in Las Vegas, Nevada, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Then there was his bankruptcy (again from Wikipedia):

On May 18, 2010, Walker filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in the Southern District of Florida (Miami) as case number 10-23558 with total assets of $4.3 million and debts of $12.7 million. The filing listed four pieces of real estate including a $2.3 million Miami home that is underwater with a mortgage of $3.6 million, and three other properties in Chicago, one listed for $1.4 million. Nazr Mohammed paid half the fee of Walker's bankruptcy attorney.
Mind you, this is a guy who made almost $110 million in salary alone. And did I mention he was a slumlord too?!

His professional and financial lives were so totally screwed that he actually signed on to play with a Puerto Rican team called the Guaynabo Mets for $7,000 a month. Only the Mets cut him after eight games...during which he went 6-for-27 from downtown. Sorry. I had to.

Now Walker is trying to make an NBA comeback. Supposedly, "four to six" teams are interested in him. I can't imagine for what, unless these teams need some poor sap to sample room service on the road so their star player doesn't end up with food poisoning.

In the end, my problem with Walker is that he wasted so much: talent, potential, money, and so many opportunities. He failed to rejuvenate the Celtic legacy (some might say he even dejuvenated it). He failed to push the Mavericks over the hump. He failed...whatever the hell the Hawks were trying to do (those dysfunctional bastards). He squandered vast, almost unimaginable amounts of money. He couldn't stay out of the way of the law. And he put human beings in danger with criminally careless property mismanagement. The whole Walker story is one giant, goddamned shame.

But he has a ring.

Update! Bonus video: Basketbawful reader zyth sent in video of the Walker Shimmy. How could I omit his shimmy from this post? Inexcusable.

But wait, there's more. How 'bout an example of 'Toine's brilliant shot selection:

Triple team? SHOOT IT, ANTOINE!!

And 'cause chris demanded it:

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worst nba champ - robinson

Many of you either know or have guessed that I attended Purdue University. As it so happened, my freshman year coincided with Glenn Robinson's final season as a Boilermaker.

I have to tell you: Robinson was a college basketball beast. As his NBA.com bio points out, he was nicknamed "Big Dog" for his oncourt ferocity. During that 1993-94 season, Robinson was...

...named the 1994 National Player of the Year by Associated Press/Rupp, United Press International, the Sporting News, Basketball America, Basketball Times, Basketball Weekly, CBS-TV/Chevrolet, ESPN and ABC analyst Dick Vitale, NABC/Kodak, Naismith and the RCA/U.S. Basketball Writers Association...recipient of the John R. Wooden Award as the nation's top college basketball player...led the NCAA and the Big Ten in scoring and rebounding averages of 30.3 ppg and 10.1 rpg respectively...also the unanimous Big Ten Player of the Year by coaches and media, in addition to being selected the conference's Male Athlete of the Year...first player to lead the Big Ten in scoring and rebounding in the same season since Minnesota's Mychal Thompson accomplished the feat in 1977-78...his 1,030 overall points that year and 560 conference points were single-season scoring records...the total of 1,030 points ranked 13th best for a single-season in NCAA Division I history...became the 15th Division I player all-time to score 1,000 in a season...finished his career at Purdue with the fourth-highest scoring average ever at 27.5 ppg...led the Boilermakers in scoring in 56 of his 62 contests and recorded 31 career double-doubles (pts/rebs)...his 44 points against Kansas (3/24/94) was a school record for an NCAA Tournament game.
But it wasn't just the numbers. Robinson's performances were overwhelming. Drives. Dunks. All manner of crazy shots that routinely went in. And, most importantly, victories.

And yet...there were warning signs I didn't pick up on back then. Minor ones. Like despite the fact that he was so physically dominant, he loved taking jump shots, jacking up more than six three-pointers a game. Sure, he hit almost 40 percent of his treys, but he was always a little too ready to chuck 'em up...which is why he shot less than 50 percent overall against competition he quite simply owned. Furthermore, he averaged only 1.9 assists, meaning he was too busy creating offense for himself to do it for his teammates. And he averaged more than four turnovers per game.

Still, like I said, he was a beast. His coach and comb-over master, Gene Keady, said that Robinson was "an absolute warrior on the court, especially the practice court. If all my players practiced with the same intensity and listened to his coaches as he does, my job would be much easier."

Sounds positively Kevin Garnett-esque, right? And Keady was a straight-shooting hardass of a coach, so I had no reason to suspect that Robinson didn't have that desire and killer instinct that separate the Michael Jordans from the Harold Minors. When he decided to turn pro rather than play out his senior season at Purdue, I was absolutely convinced that Big Dog was going to become the NBA's next major force.

The Milwaukee Bucks had the first overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft, and Robinson was the obvious number one pick, even in a draft that featured Grant Hill, Jason Kidd and Eric Montross (good call on that one, Celtics). And so Robinson became the first Boilermaker to be chosen number one overall since Joe Barry Carroll (also known as "Joe Barely Cares") in 1980. That fact was pretty ominous...and it was a sign of things to come.

See, Robinson submitted some pretty serious demands. Specifically: a 13-year, $100 million contract, to which the Bucks responded by spitting out their champagne and stuttering "Wha...what the fuuuuuuuuu...."

The Bucks wanted Robinson. Desperately. But not desperately enough to commit to that kind of deal. So Robinson held out until the beginning of training camp, when he and the Bucks finally agreed on a 10-year, $68 million contract that set an all-time record as the richest rookie contract ever. That record still stands, mostly because Robinson's deal freaked people out so much that the league instituted a salary cap for rookies the very next season.

Generally speaking, you'd prefer for a player to force a rule change through his, you know, play.

Big Dog had a pretty good rookie season: 21.9 PPG (10th in the league and number one among rookies), 6.4 RPG (second among rookies), 2.5 APG, 1.4 SPG (second among rookies), and 45.1 percent shooting. He even cut down on his three-point attempts (only 3.4 per game), although his accuracy dropped to 32.1 percent. He was also sixth in Usage Percentage. Unfortunately, he also led the league in total turnovers (313).

Even more unfortunately, the Bucks weren't winning. So even though he earned two Rookie of the Month awards (in December and April) and made the All-Rookie First Team, he finished third in balloting for Rookie of the Year, behind co-winners Hill (19.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.8 SPG) and Kidd (11.7 PPG, 7.7 APG, 5.4 RPG, 1.9 SPG), who supposedly had better all-around seasons.

Of course, the voting was skewed by a few factors. In Kidd's favor was the fact that his Mavericks improved from 13 wins in 1993-94 to 36 wins in 1994-95 (Robinson's Bucks only improved from 20 wins to 34 wins). Hill's Pistons improved by only eight wins (20 to 28), but Grant's apparently selflessness was considered a stark contract from the me-first Robinson, who held a proverbial gun to his team's head and held out for an historic contract.

Still, considering the slow-it-down and grind-it-out era in which he was playing, the numbers from Robinson's rookie season seemed to mark him as a superstar in the making. What nobody could have known at the time was that Robinson had already more or less hit his peak as a player. He would average a few more points (23.4 in 1997-98) and rebound a little more (setting a career high with 6.9 RPG in 20001-01), shoot somewhat better from the field (47.2 percent in 1999-00) and downtown (39.2 percent in 1998-99), but his career averages (20.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.7 APG, 45.9 percent shooting from the field and 34 percent from downtown) were pretty indicative of what he gave the Bucks year-in, year-out.

And hey, those are solid numbers. Guys have made All-Star teams with worse stats than that, and, in fact, Robinson made a couple of those (in 2000 and 2001). But honestly, those results were pretty disappointing for somebody whom people expected to become a Jordan-like player.

So what happened with Glenn? My first roommate out of college, who was also a Purdue alum, liked to say, "Glenn got $100 million coming out of college and spent it all on Twinkies." Robinson wasn't fat, exactly, but he did look a little soft. He played like it too. I mean, here was a physical specimen who averaged only 4.4 free throw attempts per game over his career. As his career progressed, he took jump shots more and more and attacked the basket less and less. Robinson became the master of the midrange jumper...kind of like Luol Deng before Luol Deng was Luol Deng.

His defense was soft too, which helps explain why his career Defensive Rating (107 points given up per 100 possessions) was higher than his Offensive Rating (102 points scored per 100 possessions).

Eventually, the Bucks got better, although it had as much to do with the additions of Ray Allen and Sam Cassell as it did with Robinson. That trio was good enough to almost make the NBA Finals in 2001, but they were upended by the Philadelphia 76ers (not to mention some very questionable officiating) in the Eastern Conference Finals. Robinson lasted only one more season in Milwaukee before being traded to the Atlanta Hawks for Toni Kukoc, Leon Smith and a 2003 first round draft pick that would become T.J. Ford.

In Atlanta, Robinson was who we thought he was -- 20.8 PPG and 6.6 RPG, just like clockwork. But even though he led the team in scoring, ranked second in assists and steals, and came in third in rebounding, that wasn't good enough for the 2002-03 Hawks (these days, that kind of output would have earned him a six-year, $119 million contract). So Atlanta included in in a four-team trade: Robinson and a 2006 second round pick that became Boobie Gibson were sent to the Sixers; the Minnesota Timberwolves sent Terrell Brandon to the Hawks; the New York Knicks traded Latrell Spreewell to the Timberwolves; the Sixers shipped a 2007 first round pick to the Hawks while sending Randy Holcomb, Keith Van Horn and a bag of cash to the Knicks.

In theory, Philly had finally found the long sought-after second option for Allen Iverson. Only Big Dog had never been paired with a ball hog like The Answer. Not surprisingly, his stats took a big hit (16.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 44 percent shooting). To make matters worse, he missed 40 games that season (including the last 20): three because of suspension and 37 due to injury (first a left ankle sprain and then right elbow surgery).

The following season, Robinson didn't play a single game for the Sixers. Supposedly, this was due to injury, but the scuttlebutt was that Philly coach Jim O'Brien refused to play him (which was true) and that Robinson up and left the team (which was also true, but that was actually due to the fact that his mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and, sadly, passed away during the season). And so on February 24, 2005, he was traded to the New Orleans Hornets for Jamal Mashburn and Rodney Rogers. Then, on March 1, the Hornets waived him. A little over a month after that, he was signed by the San Antonio Spurs.

You might be tempted to say, "Huh, wha...?!" But the move made sense, in an "Oh, shit, we are in panic mode" kind of way. See, at the time, Tim Duncan and Devin Brown (who had become an important offensive component for that team) were hurt, and the Spurs -- who after much begging were finally turned down by Karl Malone -- were literally praying for offense. As Gregg Popovich said after the signing: "He's a heck of a shooter, and we have some nights where we have trouble getting it into the hole."

Like most of the rest of the world, the Spurs were dubious about whether Big Dog could adjust to, you know, passing the rock and playing D. Said Popovich:

"I had him set up pretty good, I think. [The Spurs' players] were expecting a black hole. You know, somebody [who] as soon as he caught the ball, it was gone; never see it again. I said, 'I want you guys to make sure that you give him an opportunity to learn defense and all of that; but trust me, all he's going to do is shoot it every time he touches it. You're going to have to be very patient (with him).' We had him set up that way. He's smart. He came in and it might have taken him, you know, five minutes before he shot (the ball). He took a whole five minutes! In that five minutes, they saw him try to play D, so they accepted it."
Said Robinson: "This is one of the best teams in the NBA. All I have to do is to come in and help out. ... This is a new beginning."

Well...sort of. In his nine regular season games as a Spur, Robinson averaged 10.0 PPG and 2.7 RPG in 17.4 MPG. Which was about right: His Per 36 stats were 20.6 PPG and 5.5 RPG...pretty much right on target with his career Per 36 minute numbers of 20.2 PPG and 5.9 RPG.

And about that defense? Pop wasn't worried about it: "The good thing is, he's intelligent and he understands the game. He'll pick up the team-defense concept, so he won't have to be the best individual defender."

It was kind of true: In that (admittedly small) nine-game sample, Robinson had an Offensive Rating of 106 and a Defensive Rating of 100. It was the one and only time in his career that Glenn scored more points per 100 possessions than he gave up. He even squeezed out one last Big Dog game: 23 points (on 9-for-11 shooting) in 22 minutes against the Grizzlies on April 18. It was the last 20-point game he ever had.

Then came the playoffs.

During San Antonio's road to the title, Robinson appeared in 13 games, playing 8.7 MPG and averaging 3.8 PPG, 1.6 RPG and 0.1 APG while shooting 35.6 percent from the field (16-for-45) and 30 percent from downtown (3-for-10). His Effective Field Goal Percentage was 38.9, his PER was 11.7, and he scored 97 points per 100 possessions while giving up 101. He managed a Win Share of 0.2.

During the NBA Finals against Detroit, Glenn appeared in only three of the seven games. The first three. In Game 1, he actually provided a small spark off the bench: 6 minutes, 2 points, 3 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Those would be his only positive contributions of the series. Robinson was a non-factor in Game 2, mostly because he didn't check in until there were about three minutes left and the Spurs were up by 22 points (he went 0-for-1 from the field and committed a turnover). Afterward, Robinson said:

"Man, I'm happy. All I have to do is just be available. Just like in Game 1. If I'm needed, just give them a little spark. And leave the rest up to the guys.

"I'm going to get a chance in one of these games. People know what I can do. People understand the things that I've been going through, and I'm still moving. That's why the minutes don't bother me. I'm gearing up for next season."
That "next season" never came. After a token appearence in Game 3 -- 5 minutes, 0-for-2 from the field, 0-for-1 from beyond the arc, all zeroes across the box score -- Robinson never again logged a single minute for the Spurs. I mean, he celebrated like a mother fucker when San Antonio won the title in Game 7, but the Spurs didn't ask him back. No other team signed him. And Big Dog quietly faded into retirement.

That was way back in 2005. Meanwhile, Hill and Kidd -- who beat Robinson out for Rookie of the Year way back in 1995 -- are still in the league. Last season, they both made significant contributions to 50-win teams. Hill even played in the Western Conference Finals.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. Robinson was supposed to be The Man. I can't tell you exactly why it didn't happen. I mean, I can point out the flaws in his game. I can suggest that there might have been a lack of killer instinct. Too many mid-range jumpers, not enough all-out attacks on the basket. Too much money too soon. Maybe even too many Twinkies. I guess we'll never know for sure.

What I do know is that, as a Glenn Robinson fan and a former Boilermaker, watching him dance around like a maniac during the Spurs' championship celebration made me feel kind of ashamed. Because, honestly, in my foolish youth, I believed Robinson would be winning multiple titles as the leader of his team. I thought he could be a Larry, Magic or Michael-level player.

Maybe I'm projecting. Maybe I should be more disappointed in myself than I am in Glenn. Maybe I'm just embarrassed because my basketball acumen failed me when I was evaluating him. But I'm not the only person who got hoodwinked. There are an awful lot of people who feel -- despite the 20+ PPG average over his 11 seasons -- that Glenn Robinson failed to live up to his potential.

But -- unlike Hill and Kidd -- he has a ring.

Update! Bonus video: This is must-see Basketbawful TV: Robinson putting Basketbawful mascot Greg Ostertag in his poster.

And again:

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