“Did you ever pull up to a red light, and go a little bit too far into the intersection? Just a few extra feet? So you put the car in reverse and back up just a little bit. And then you forget the car is in reverse? And so you sit there, innocently, waiting for the light to change…At this point, you are truly an accident waiting to happen.” – George Carlin
At 42 years old, I’m at a point in my life where one of my main goals is to minimize the likelihood of physical trauma. Now that doesn’t mean I avoid physical activity. Quite the contrary – I jog, play basketball, golf, and workout. But these days, my injuries tend to be, and should be, “old person” injuries, such as:
- Twisting my ankle while trying to jump four inches into the air to catch a football, or
- Aggravating my hip because my golf swing has “a little too much follow-through,” or
- Tweaking my back trying to make a moderately aggressive move in a basketball game
What my injuries are not supposed to be, however, are “idiot” injuries – the ones that cause everyone who learns of them to say “Well, if you were doing that, of course you were going to get hurt.”
Despite my consistent effort to avoid “idiot” injuries, sometimes life gets a little too stagnant, so I decide to tempt fate. This past Summer, I went tubing. After my kids all went, it was my turn. A few minutes into the ride, I realized what a singular, enormous talent I was in the art of reclining on a rubber doughnut. When the tube drifted into the perilous waters outside the wake of the boat, I had this method of angling my body in such a way that I could absolutely, positively not be thrown. Feeling unshakably confident about my ability, I proceeded to taunt the speed boat driver with hand signals indicating I was bored, disappointed, and altogether unimpressed with her inability to give me an exciting ride.
Ten seconds later I was flying head first into the face of a six foot wave at 40 miles per hour. I still don’t know how I’m alive.
Now let’s get into sub-categories of the “idiot” injury: the tubing incident, for example, can be classified as “Idiot Arrogant.” Two weeks ago, I discovered a heretofore unknown sub-category that shall be classified as “Idiot Ignorant.” Idiot Ignorant can be particularly dangerous because you don’t even realize you’re doing something treacherous, even as you’re doing it.
Look, it seemed completely natural and safe for me to try to hone my basketball skills by dribbling a basketball up and down an indoor court with my eyes closed. I mean, Luke Skywalker blocked lasers without looking, and how many Kung Fu masters in the movies have been able to catch punches and annihilate adversaries while blindfolded? Lots.
So I had Hollywood on my side.
And I had a system – 12 dribbles would take me from one end of the court to the other if I was running casually, and it would take 10 dribbles when I was hauling ass. Now, of course I would open my eyes with a few dribbles remaining. I needed to give myself time to slow down, make a 180-degree turn, and proceed in the other direction.
I mean, I’m not stupid.
As a man over 40, perhaps the most valuable lesson I have learned from my great basketball exercise experiment is that I can literally fall asleep anywhere. I mean, I always knew I could dose off on the couch, at work, at church – you know, boring places. But now I know that I can literally fall asleep while running and dribbling a basketball.
Cut to me wandering the court, all alone, dazed and confused, swiping at my face, wondering why my hands are covered in blood. The hit didn’t knock me out, which was fortunate because the amount of plasma that purges from the bridge of one’s nose when it bursts in half, particularly in the midst of vigorous cardiovascular exercise, is easily enough to suffocate a man.
I slowly realized what had happened, and the breadth of my stupidity crystallized in my head. You were running up and down a basketball court with your eyes closed. OF COURSE this happened.
The gym where I had been doing this is, appropriately, attached to a church. As I walked out of the gym into the bright lights of a carpeted hallway, I met the man who sits at the front desk.
“Do you have any ice?” I said, trying to contain the horror movie pulsing from my face.
The man looked at me, then at the gymnasium doors, then at me again. He knew that only I had entered that gym. He also knew that inside that the gym was nothing but a basketball court. There was no workout room, no chin up bar, no rope ladder, no small firearm shooting range – nothing but a court.
“I couldn’t even begin to explain what just happened,” I said.
As the man hastened off, I went to the bathroom, stood at the sink, ran water that swirled crimson down the drain like that scene from Psycho, and looked into the mirror, my glazed-over eyes still trying to focus.
As the man returned with the ice, the rush of blood slowed, and my shock and pain turned quickly to shame and embarrassment. I wanted nothing more than to get out. I remember seeing drops of blood on the basketball court, and assumed I had also left a stain or two in the nice carpet of the church hallway, but I had to leave. I could not stay in that place one minute longer.
Clutching a bloody bag of ice to my face, I headed out the front door, crossing paths with a well-dressed elderly couple who were coming into the Church for a function of some sort.
“Oh, dear,” the woman said. “Do you have a bloody nose?”
“Not really,” I said, and as I got closer and the pair got a better look, I felt the need to say: “I was doing an exercise I’ve done before, and it went wrong…”
I think I hoped for the words “It’s an exercise I’ve done before” to absolve me of stupidity. But I wasn’t fooling anyone. A person could manage to survive scuba diving in shark infested waters dressed in a Lady Gaga meat suit, but that doesn’t make it ok to do.
I’m driving home. At a red light, I rummage through my workout bag for my cell phone.
“Honey?” I say.
“Yes,” my wife says.
“I went to the church, and nobody was there tonight,” I say. “Basketball must’ve been cancelled or something.”
“Ok,” she says. “Coming home?”
“Yeah,” I say. “Hey…uhm…I kind of hurt myself practicing.”
“Twist your ankle or something?” she says.
“No…uhm…I was doing this thing where I dribble up and down the court with my eyes closed, and I kind of ran into the wall with my face.”
“You there?” I say.
“Yeah, very funny,” I say. “Look, can you just start getting all of our first aid stuff out? I’m gonna need to get bandaged up.”
She’s still laughing, and I can hear my oldest son in the background saying “What did he do?” And she tells him and there’s more laughing. Mind you, they don’t even know the extent of the damage. Sure, it’s just my nose, which is inherently funny, but what if I knocked out all my teeth, or…ruptured an eyeball or something?
“Is this an exercise you…heard about from someone?” she says. “Or did you come up with it yourself?”
“I came up with it myself,” I say. “Nobody else is doing it.”
“For good reason, apparently,” she says, still laughing.
I will say that on the few occasions I had performed this exercise without incident, I believed I had discovered something truly groundbreaking in the realm of basketball training. How many people were doing this? Not many.
I never did, however, think I would choose to introduce it to my son’s basketball team, which I coach. After all, they were just 11-year-olds and could never perform such a difficult task correctly, like me – savant of advanced sports training.
“Look, could you just be ready when I get home?” I say to my wife. “My nose is pretty bloody.”
“Ok, we’ll be ready,” she says, and then musters as much concern in her voice as she can to say: “Be careful driving home.”
The long and the short of it is: I was ok. I didn’t need stitches. My nose was not altered – mainly because it hit the wall straight on – and if it was broken, it was not in any more pain than my ego.
I guess I can take solace in the fact that there was no security camera in the basketball court to capture my moment of painful humiliation forever. But if I had to guess what it probably looked like, I would imagine it was this (except with my face turned forward):
I leave you with this: If I ever collide with anything or anyone for any reason, and I remark: “That was like running into a brick wall,” take heed, for I know of what I speak.
This is the Timberwolves year. I know, I know, last year was supposed to be their year. But this time they mean it for real...I think. And of course when I say this is their year, I don't mean contending for a championship. Rather, just making the playoffs. The past few seasons have been rough, and now I feel they've earned the right to be the sacrificial lambs to the Lakers or the Thunder in the first round. How does that saying go? Give a room full of monkeys a bunch of typewriters and enough time, and they'll eventually produce Shakespeare. Welp, it appears King Kahn has tinkered and toyed with his roster enough that the T-wolves actually look decent on paper. Also, in his fiddling I think he's managed to make the Timberwolves even whiter than before. If he hadn't offered Nic Batum that disgustingly large contract I might have even thrown up the race card.
Pictured: Timberwolves war room on draft night
Minnesota did a fine job of taking out the trash. The most notable departure was that of Michael Beasley. Under all those tattoos lies a pretty decent player. 19.5 pts and 7.2 rbs for his career. But the past few years he's gotten the reputation as a chucker. And after drafting Derrick Williams it was only a matter of time before Beas would find himself on his third team in his young professional career. The other piece of human garbage that was flung to the curb was Wesley Johnson. I honestly have no clue why he's employed as a professional athlete in the National Basketball Association. Wesley Johnson can't shoot, pass, dribble, rebound, defend, catch, hustle, or set screens. The only thing he excels at is looking like one of those coffee aliens from Men in Black.
Ready or not Phoenix. Here we come!!!
Even if Brandon Roy misses the entire season with injury, the T-wolves still benefit from addition by subtraction. Speaking of which, Mr. Roy has unretired and is now playing for the team that originally drafted him. Let’s see if I've got this...David Kahn drafted Brandon Roy and then traded him when he was healthy. Now he's signed him back but only this time Roy's knees are a loose shoe string away from shattering into a thousand pieces. Roy will also join Andrei Kirilenko in making his return following a brief hiatus. AK-47 spent the last season in mother Russia where he presumably spent hours in the bathroom grooming his lesbian hairdo.
Gotta hand it to Russia. Not too many countries would be cool with men and women playing on the same team.
If the Timberwolves are to make the playoffs, they'll need two things. One being strong play from Nikola Pekovic and also, for Ricky Rubio to pick up where he left off last season. For those keeping score, you will notice that I didn't mention Kevin Love. That was not a mistake. For you see...Kevin Wesley Love is overrated. I know that last statement probably sent many readers into a tizzy, but it’s true. Yes, yes, I get it. He scores a bunch of points and grabs a bunch of rebounds. I'm not saying Kevin Love sucks, I'm just saying he has the same impact on a team as say...Monta Ellis. He's David Lee with sprinkles on top. Last season Love was 23rd among power forwards in field goal percentage (.448). That’s a hair above Al Harrington. Also, with 2.3 turnovers per contest, Love is near the bottom of all power forwards narrowly edging out Demarcus Cousins. But the biggest issue I have with Love is the fact that he has never even sniffed the playoffs. Lets follow this timeline shall we...
June 2008-Kevin Love is drafted and the Timberwolves continue to suck
December 2011-Ricky Rubio joins the team and the Timberwolves look like a playoff contender
March 2012-Ricky Rubio gets hurt
March 2012-Kevin Love and the Timberwolves go right back to being terrible
I don't expect him to single handedly win a championship. However plenty of stars have managed to drag their teams into the post season despite a serious lack of talent on the roster. Just ask Lebron, Kobe, CP3, Wade, Dirk, Dwight, Bosh, Nash, Aldridge, and Garnett. And like I said, Love hasn’t even SNIFFED the postseason. If the T-wolves make the playoffs it won't because Kevin Love racked up 50 double doubles, it'll be because Ricky Rubio orchestrated the offense and dodged the injury bug.
“The first thing you notice about New Orleans are the burying grounds - the cemeteries - and they're a cold proposition, one of the best things there are here. Going by, you try to be as quiet as possible, better to let them sleep. Greek, Roman, sepulchers- palatial mausoleums made to order, phantomesque, signs and symbols of hidden decay - ghosts of women and men who have sinned and who've died and are now living in tombs. The past doesn't pass away so quickly here.
You could be dead for a long time” - Bob Dylan
"The past doesn't pass away so quickly here. You could be dead for a long time” For all thirty five New Orleans Hornets fans, Mr. Dylan speaks the chilling truth. The departure of Chris Paul left the Hornets with a chasm of unquenchable bawfulness. However when news came that Eric Gordon would be sent to New Orleans as part of the swap, a glimmer of hope shinned down upon Big Easy. Gordon, the explosive shooting guard, was one of the league best up and coming stars. This bashful baller had just completed a season where he averaged 22.3 ppg and 4.4 ast. After playing in just two of the first six games, Gordon would go on to miss nearly three straight months with an injured right knee. During this span, the Hornets new franchise player would be none other than...Chris Kaman...No, Carl Landry?...Nah...Errmm.... AH. Jarret Jack.
You said we were in this together man. YOU SAID WE WERE IN THIS TOGETHER!!!
I almost felt sorry for the Hornets this past season. At 89.6 points per contest their offensive futility was only trumped by the Charlotte Bobcats. They were a scrappy bunch, but that only amounted to a last place finish in the Western Conference. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the Hornets pretty much threw in the towel right after Eric Gordon went down with his long term injury. I suspicious person may think that they weren’t putting forth their best effort in order to secure the number 1 pick. A cynical bastard may even think that Chris Kaman was shut down for a large portion of the season in order to suck on purpose. But I’m not saying those things. I’m just pointing out what some people may be thinking…….
I'm just gonna move my mouth and make it look like I'm coaching. I just need you guys to stare at me and nod.
The season ended, and Hornets GM Dell Demps went right to work. In June he traded Emeka Okafur and Trevor Ariza to the Wizards for Rashard Lewis and a second round pick. Ten days later they bought out that monstrosity of a contract for $14 million, which ended up saving New Orleans about $9 million dollars. Demps also matched the $58 million dollar offer sheet on Eric Gordon. $14.5 million dollars per year is a lot of cheese for a guy whose body may or may not be made of rice paper. I like Gordon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if all the Hornets got from him were Joe Johnson like results. Their last major free agent signing came with the addition of Ryan Anderson. After putting up 16 and 7, Demps locked up the Most Improved Player for about $34 million dollars.
Its OK. I hear the cherry blossoms in DC are breathtaking.
Remember when I suggested that some people may think that the Hornets threw the season? Well, it paid off. New owner Tom Benson was as happy as a clam when he watched his team grab the number 1 pick in the draft. Predictably, New Orleans selected Kentucky’s Anthony Davis. Davis was absolutely dominant in his lone season as a Wildcat. The Hornets are getting a guy who will be a total force on defense. I watched him shut down post players and then step out on the perimeter and strip point guards. Think Kevin Garnett with more mobility. With the tenth pick, the Hornets took Duke’s Austin Rivers. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a guy come into the league and be hated as much as this kid. He’s got the prima donna label spot welded on his forehead for now. He’s supposed to play point guard it seems. If that’s the case then he’s already set up for failure. Rivers obviously has a score first mentality. Adding him next to Gordon, who isn’t exactly known as passer will probably lead to a lot of frustration on Monty Williams’ part.
Kaman's league leading Ugly Per Minute Rating is in danger.
Davis and Rivers are nice additions. Robin Lopez should help beef up the post. And perhaps Anderson can continue playing well like he did the last season. The Hornets should be an entertaining group, but I wouldn't expect too many wins. Personally, I'm most looking forward to the eventual Rivers coaching clash and the ensuing fallout. What can I say? I love drama.
Well, we all know what to do when our team wins a championship:
We cheer, high five those in immediate vicinity, order more alcohol for the party, drink heavily and make high-pitched yodeling noises, and urinate around the perimeter of our home to mark our territory.
Then maybe we make a few calls to like-minded people and assure each other that we knew all year that we had the best team, but were too magnanimous and classy to openly gloat about such things. We recall our favorite plays of the championship game, and talk about how we felt the moment it all came together and our team clinched the top prize in its sport.
Some people - not myself - call fans of other teams and light-heartedly gloat, claiming to be just joking, but deep down knowing there's a profound satisfaction to having something to hold over other fans, if only until next season begins.
Then we clean up: Clean up after the party, launder that piece of rotten-animal-corpse-smelling clothing we didn't wash all year out of superstition, shave that atrocious "playoff hockey beard" that has been collecting remnants of every meal we've eaten for the past six months. Just kidding - who watches hockey???
And finally, perhaps the best part, we order the commemorative DVD, allowing us to relive highlights of our team's magical year in super slow motion high-definition with a dramatic baritone announcer touting our team's stalwart effort, magical chemistry and unwavering spirit.
But what about when your team loses? And worse, what about when they get really, really close to their ultimate goal, and then fail? What then? Well, you can drink heavily (yes, you do that when you win as well, but now it's much more subdued, and is accompanied by repeated variances of the phrase "we'll be better next year"). Or, like me, you can choose to try to create something positive out of something awful. For example, after the Celtics lost to the Lakers in the 2010 Finals, I dealt with the pain by blogging an entire comedic novel about trying to follow the seven-game series while on a family trip out West.
That was one thing, but...
...to all you fans out there, I must advise you, you can take this method of forced optimism too far.
Heed my warning: If in response to your football team losing a second Superbowl in four years causes you to script and direct a short film with puppets beating the unholy hell out of each other, seek psychiatric assistance immediately - or at least until after you have completed your post-production work. Furthermore, if your theme revolves around the classic final scene of a 1982 boxing movie starring Sly Stallone, Carl Weathers, and Mr. T, I would suggest you shoot me an e-mail, because I probably already have a lot of the props and stuff you would need to get that done.
Dallas, Dallas, Dallas...What the hell happened? One minute they're making it rain on free agents, the next, they're rummaging through the bargain bin in search of cheap rentals. With Dirk recently turning 34, the Mavs desperately need to land another superstar that can carry the franchise for another 10+ years. So a reasonable person would assume that Mark Cuban of all people would have seen the monumental importance of signing a player like Deron Williams. Well rather than standing on Deron's doorstep at 12:01 am July 1st, Cubes was on the west coast getting ready to film Shark Tank...friggin Shark Tank. To make matters worse, The Mavs didn't even offer Deron the max. (The max being $75 million for 4 years for a free agent changing teams under the current CBA) So after that half assed attempt, Mark Cuban fed everyone a few lines of bullshit about how teams can no longer operate the same as they used to with the new CBA. Teams will be having fire sales in a few years once the luxury tax kicks in...yadda, yadda, yadda. Something tells me the Lakers won't give two shits about the luxury tax as they continue to raise banners. The other reason why his current stance total bullshit, is because the Mavericks were trying to do the very same thing that the Lakers, Knicks, and Heat are doing. Load up on top flight stars. (Okay, maybe Chandler and Bosh aren't top flight, but you get what I'm saying) Cuban would have gladly paid any and all luxury taxes if the Mavs could have landed Dwight Howard and Deron Williams to go along with Dirk Nowitzki. YARRGHHH!!!!
Enjoy it now Kobe. In a few years you guys won't be able to keep the lights on.
The three best things about this offseason for the Mavs...
1. They claimed Elton Brand off of the amnesty wire for pennies on the dollar.
2. They landed OJ Mayo for less than market value.
3. They finally rid themselves of Brendan I-think-I-am-a-small forward-watch-me-try-to-dribble-and-hop-step-my-way-to-the-hoop-but-I-can't-because-I-suck-now-pay-me-$50 million dollars Haywood.
Get ready to taste my step back jumper!!!
There seems to be a buzz amongst some of my friends and coworkers. That buzz happens to be centered around Darren Collison. Many look at him and see the speed, the athleticism, and the ability to thrive in a pick n roll environment. I however, am far too cynical to share such a view. First off, he lost his starting job to George Hill. The last thing I remember about him, was that he took a picture of his dong and sent it to some chick while he was still with the Spurs. After signing Hill to a long term contract, the Pacers had to decide what to do with Collison. Well they looked at Collison, then they looked towards DJ Augustin, then they looked back at Collison again...and eventually they chose the starting point guard for the worst team in NBA history. The Mavericks are getting a guy who couldn't keep a job backing up a guy who should be a back up.
Pictured: Mavericks home opener 2012
Dallas also signed Chris Kaman on a one year deal. Ok, is he better than Haywood? Yes. But that’s like saying you're the smartest guy in special ed...That’s like saying you're the hottest guy at fat camp...That’s like saying you're the best burger flipper this side of the Mississippi. I predict that Kaman will spend half the season in the trainer's room. The other half, he'll be getting posterized by every guy looking to make Sport Center.
Advanced stat geeks are raving about his Ugly Per Minute Rate
If you couldn't already tell I'm not very pleased with the way this summer went down for my beloved Mavericks. They compiled a squad of rent-a-players. At best I see them as nothing more than a 7th seed. Worst case scenario, they miss the playoffs all together. And even then, the front office will find a way to screw up the lottery pick. Which reminds me...the Mavs passed up on Perry Jones III and Jared Sullinger. If either one turns out to be a stud, I might need to be talked down from a ledge.