4:11 in this "highlight" clip, we witness Pumaman's continuation of the Nick Anderson tradition - one later followed up by Vinsanity in the same uniform!!!!

For those who are not yet following the amazing Hardwood Paroxysm on Twitter, here's a recap of the breaking insanity in Orlando:

12:45 PM EST - CBS Sports reports via the New York Times's Howard Beck that Stan Van Gundy tells press Pumaman Dwight Howard has asked for the outspoken coach to be fired.  Seconds later, Dwight walks up to him and puts his arm around the bench boss in a vote of "confidence."

Since then, HP has retweeted quite a few gems on the developing situation, while...THE OFFICIAL ORLANDO MAGIC WEBSITE HAS JUST ACTUALLY POSTED A VIDEO OF THIS.  And CBS has graciously provided full quotes for those who need more evidence that even Bill Russell never was this sullen.

To quote Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles, "Nothing's wrong as far as I can see!!!!!!!"

And now on to the retweets:

- HP himself compares this central Florida workplace to Office Space, leading to quite a few comedic lines!!!!

- Marc Stein points out that this is basically a point-of-no-return for Stan.

- Someone comments they really DO want to hear The Big Voskuhl, er, Shaq Fu's input on this.

- With Mr. Howard's obvious choking history, and locker room toxicity, one wonders why he is not disliked as much as King Crab.  In similar vein is this wry analysis by Ken Berger of CBS.

- A comparison between this and Magic Johnson getting Paul Westhead fired in LA - oh, except Magic had a title AND Finals MVP already.  Again, watch the Youtube at top to see what Pumaman has so far for "signature Finals performances."

- The Orlando Pinstriped Post blog provides comprehensive coverage of the unfolding mess.

- Maybe Magic management regrets this whole, "let's tell Stan" thing.

- Stan knows where he stands: "It’s 12:02 right now. If they want to fire me at 12:05, I’ll go home and find something to do. I’ll have a good day."

Yep, this is the look of a man who enjoys being subverted by a clutch-time disappointment

- Not forgotten: Stan's past coaching travails in the Sunshine State.

- A silver lining to all of this - BETTER TV COMMENTARY.

- HP himself not exactly impressed with those Magic fans who think Mr. Howard has handled the situation with class, decorum, and tact.

- Some guy from the Wall Street Journal found today's press junket...awkward.

- From Holly MacKenzie - Tony Allen defends his coach!  And Holly appreciates Stan's Pepsi swag.

Yeah.  What an hour this has been.  The National Basketball Association: It's FANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5:49 PM EST - Latest HP retweet - now both Van Gundy and his team are NOT making themselves available for the media in the usual pre-game slot.  Locker room closed.  Interesting that they all were rather willing to open their mouths just 5 hours ago...

7:46 PM EST - HP now retweets this rather obvious note, that Stan has felt the demands and pressure from Pumaman ALL season long.

8:43 PM EST - Just saw this quote from lacktion artist Ishmael Smith:

“My mom loves soap operas, so for me to be a part of one is pretty special,” Smith joked. 

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jo noah

Ron Artest versus Coffee: I know, I know. It's a day late and it could have happened to almost any player. But it happened to Ron Artest. And these things always seem to happen to him, you know?

Derrick Rose's stalker: This is also a day late. Basketbawful reader GabV sent in a picture of a dude checking out D-Rose's buttocks before the Bulls-Heat game. I'll go one further and provide video of the dude taking a picture of Derrick's butt. I...have nothing more to say.

Erik Spoelstra: After (rather foolishly) outting some unnamed players for crying after a nationally televised home loss to the Bulls on Sunday, Spoelstra could have manned up and said something like, "What happens in our locker room should stay in our locker room. I know that and, from now on, it will. No further comments." Instead, he took the easier and more predictable way out: Blame the media.

The embattled Heat coach claimed his remarks were taken out of context and blamed the media for over analyzing his comments. Neither Spoelstra nor any of the Heat's players revealed Sunday or after Monday's practice who actually shed tears in the locker room following the 87-86 loss to the Bulls.

Spoelstra even went as far as to backtrack a bit from his original comments and said Monday that he wasn't certain that he saw actual tears when the team gathered immediately after the game.

"This is a classic example of sensationalism, looking for a headline," Spoelstra said after the team's two-hour film session and workout on Monday at AmericanAirlines Arena. "I really think you guys are probably reaching for this. Guys were very emotional about it in the locker room. Heads were down. I saw glossy eyes, but that's about it. I think everything else is probably an exaggeration."
An exaggeration? That would seem a little more credible if 'Spo hadn't immediately offered up the whole "crying" thing of his own free will and without any prompting whatsoever from the always-looking-for-a-headline media.

But hey, why take responsibility for your words when you can foist the responsibility onto someone else?

Update! Miami Heat late-game fail compilation: From the SportsPickle via chris:

Stan Van Gundy, quote machine: "I do chuckle a little bit when [members of the Heat] complain about the scrutiny they get. My suggestion would be if you don't want the scrutiny, you don't hold a championship celebration before you've even practiced together. It's hard to go out yourself and invite that kind of crowd and celebration and attention, and then when things aren't going well, sort of bemoan the fact that you're getting that attention."

The New Orleans Hornets: This was one of those classic "Give Them Credit" games. New Orleans was without Chris Paul (concussion) and Trevor Ariza (strained left adductor), and playing on the second night of back-to-back road games in the final game of a five-game road trip. Yet somehow, with their backs against the wall and fighting against the odds, the Hornets tied the game at 77-77 with 3:18 remaining...

...and they never scored again.

Said David West: "I thought we played well enough to win. We had the game right where we wanted it at 77-77 with 3-something to go. We couldn't convert down the stretch. We didn't have enough offense."

New Orleans shot 36.3 percent from the field and gave up 19 points off 11 turnovers. Oh, and Derrick Rose had almost as many assists (9) as the Hornets did as a team (10). As the Fun Police would say: "There's only one set of prints on this ball."

The New Orleans Hornets' uniforms: Mardi Gras is supposed to inspire people to drink and eat to excess, and women to flash their boobs for a five dollar set of beads. Not this. No, not this.

The Orlando Magic: This was another "Give Them Credit" game. The Magic were playing without Dwight Howard, who was serving a one-game suspension for earning his 16th technical foul of the season against the Bulls on Friday night. And, after falling behind by as many as 14 points, they fought back and nearly had a chance to win. I emphasize the "nearly" part of that last sentence. Orlando was doomed by careless turnovers: The Magic bobbled the ball away 19 times, and the Frail Blazers ended up with 10 more shot attempts and eight more free throw attempts. And Portland won by four points.

Said Jason Richardson: "We played really hard, gave it our all, but it just didn't come up at the end. We weren't taking care of the ball. ... They just kept reaching in and knocking the ball out of our hands. You can't win the game when you have 19 turnovers."

Jameer Nelson: The line: 21 minutes, 2 points, 1-for-7, 4 assists, 5 turnovers.

Said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy: "The only guy that had a really bad night was Jameer. He had a really, really bad night."

Don't hold back, coach. Give it to us straight.

Stan Van Gundy: You knew he was going to bitch about Dwight's suspension, right? Basketbawful reader Robert M. did.

Van Gundy quoted an Elias Sports Bureau statistic Monday that notes Howard has been fouled 593 times this season without any of those calls being labeled flagrant.

Asked if the Magic had a case to the league office about whether they feel Howard has been excessively fouled, Van Gundy said he thinks outside input doesn't carry much weight at the league office.

"This is the system David Stern and his minions like it," Van Gundy said. "So that's the system you have...I certainly can't have an opinion because David Stern, like a lot or leaders we've seen in this world lately, don't really tolerate other people's opinion or free speech or anything. So I'm not really allowed to have an opinion. So it's up to him.

"He decides and he likes the system he has."

Howard is serving a one-game suspension Monday night against the Trail Blazers after picking up his 16th technical of the season against Chicago on Friday. For every two technicals he receives the remainder of the season he also must sit out a game.

"I think he has settled down," Van Gundy said. "He's gotten two (technicals) in the last month (and) he hasn't gotten any for arguing. His problems were early in the year when he got a lot of arguing calls. Lately what he's gotten is two for retaliating for hits he's taken after the whistle and I think to be quite honest he's already had great restraint on those plays.

"... You guys can estimate how many of those were hard hits and how many of those were above the shoulders. ... I would say his control is amazing."
The Charlotte Bobcraps: The Clippers entered last night's game 5-25 on the road and 4-16 without Eric Gordon. Plus they're, you know, the Clippers.

Didn't matter. The Bobcraps are just that bad. Gerald Wallace is playing for the Frail Blazers now. Stephen Jackson was out with a strained hammy. And Charlotte has now lost five in a row. It's their longest fail streak since dropping seven straight last season.

There were a lot of reasons they didn't win, but bricking nine freebies in a five-point loss has gotta string.

Vinny Del Negro, coach of the year candidate: "We'll take the win on the road, but we have to have a tougher mentality on the road. We seem to have it more at home. But we need everybody to play at a high level and not worry about minutes and statistics and who has the ball."

The Utah Jazz: "We're not here to have fun. We're not here to enjoy the nightlife. We're not here to get away from Utah. We're here to take care of business and we didn't play like that tonight."

So said Al Jefferson after Utah gave up 40 points in the first quarter, trailed by as many as 31 points and eventually lost 131-109. While the Jazz were committing 20 turnovers, the Knicks were shooting 56 percent from the field (including 13-for-26 from downtown) and registering 35 assists on 46 baskets.

But that's not all. From Elias Sports Bureau:

Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony combined for 46 of the Knicks 66 points when the two were on the floor together. When the two players were on the court together New York outscored Utah 66-35. Even more impressive, out of the 19 shots they took combined while on the floor together, they missed only three (16-19, 84.2 pct).

Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire both scored early and often eclipsing the 30-point mark before the 4th quarter began. They are just the 5th pair of teammates over the last 5 seasons to do so. While this has been rare to the NBA, Carmelo Anthony is no stranger to the feat as he has been involved in 3 of the 5 occurences, including both times it has happened this season.
The Jazz have now lost nine of their last 11 games and are tied or ninth place in the West. The ship, as they say, be sinking.

Said Utah coach Tyrone Corbin: "As individuals, as a group, as a franchise, that's embarrassing the way we came out and played tonight. Even if you lose a game, you can lose with some dignity. I don't think this loss tonight did anybody any good."

Somewhere Jerry Sloan is happy he retired. Speaking of Sloan...

Jerry Sloan, complete and total badass: (via Ball Don't Lie) KFAN's Tony Abbott interviewed Jerry's son, Brian, and Abbott revealed the following awesomeness during said interview:

Someone shoots an elk on a mountain hunting trip that Karl Malone had helped them arrange and Jerry and Tony walk up to it. "In a split second, this bull elk jumps up and comes at me full bore at about 10 yards. I'm a sitting duck. Your dad, without a blink, steps in front of me, pulls up [his old rifle that he got for $80 at a garage sale], puts a bullet in this elk's chest, and it falls at my feet. I have no chance to even react. I turn and look at your dad and he looks at me and he goes, 'That's as good as a fast break.'"
Like I said: Complete and total badass.

Al Jefferson: From Ross Siler (via Dan B.): "Has any player ever duplicated Al Jefferson's feat tonight: 36 points, 12 rebounds, team outscored by 33 points while he was on court?"

Carmelo Anthony, quote machine: "We're not going to shoot like that, I don't think. There's not going to be a game where we only miss six or seven shots combined. We hope we go out there and score 30 points and we win and everybody else contributes in their own way, but for me personally, I don't want to do that. I don't want to put that pressure on me to go out there and say that I want to score 30 points a night. I'm past that now."

Amar''''''e Stoudemire, quote machine: "Myself and Carmelo can score 1-on-1 with ease, but to get other players involved and play team basketball is the ultimate goal for us and tonight it worked out very well."

STAT check: Amar'''''e had zero assists.

The Minnesota Timberwolves: Brian Cardinal scored a season-high 12 points. The Timberwolves lost by three points. I know this may sound elementary, but teams that can't contain "The Custodian" won't win many games. In possibly related news, Minnesota's record is now 15-50...worst in the Western Conference.

Said Dallas coach Rich Carlisle: "Without Cardinal, I don't think we'd have won the game. His activity, rebounds, loose balls, deflections, shot-making completely turned the game around."

Rebounds, coach? Cardinal finished with zero boards. Had three steals, tho'.

Kevin Love (23 points and 17 rebounds) got his 51st double-double in a row, which, according the AP recap, is tied with Moses Malone in 1978-79 for the longest streak since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976. And Malone's streak spanned two seasons, so Love's is the longest single-season streak.

The Target Center crowd even chanted "M-V-P!" for him. How cute. Batshit crazy. But cute.

Said Love: "I'd be jumping for joy if we were winning and everybody was playing great, including myself. I'm just going out there and playing hard and it is just kind of happening for me. But it is kind of an afterthought because we aren't winning."

The Oklahoma City Thunder: They let the Care Bears shoot 52 percent from the field, score 21 fast break points and 68 points in the paint, and build a 17-point lead before making a failed fourth quarter rally.

Defense? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Said Thunder coach Scott Brooks: "We got down 17 because our defensive effort wasn't where it needed to be. We gave them too many easy layups and points around the paint. We got back into it because we made some shots, but we still weren't playing the defense that it takes to win in this league."

At least he knows.

The Sacramento Kings: Congrats to Rick Adelmen Adelman, who tied Dick Motta for 10th on the NBA's career coaching victories list (935). Among the top 10 in wins, only Phil Jackson and Red Auerbach have better winning percentages than Adelman (.605).

Bet you never would've guessed that.

Said Adelman: "It means a lot to me. If you take a look at all those names up there [on the top-10 list], they are some of the best coaches."

Kind of a "Captain Obvious" quote, but I'll let it go. He was emotional.

As for the Kings, they trailed by as many as 30 points before losing 123-101. At home. So, uh, when are they moving to Anaheim?

Said Sactown coach Paul Westfail: "You've got to guard somebody. You can't give up 30-point quarters every quarter and expect to win. Our defense was not good enough really ever to give us a chance to hang around in the game."

Added DeMarcus Cousins: "We have a tendency to panic and just try to do things on our own. We are not going to get back into the game that way and we're not going to win games that way. We have to play the whole game together."

In possibly related news, Cousins took 20 shots and committed 4 turnovers while registering only 3 assists. Further related is the fact that Cousins has 57 more turnovers on the season (181) than assists (124). Oh, and he leads the league with 242 personal fouls. That's 23 more than fifth-place Amar''''''e Stoudemire.

Chris's Uncanny Two-Line Lacktion Ledger:

Clippers-Bobcats: DeAndre Jordan jacked up two boards in 17:10 with three fouls for a 3:2 Voskuhl as the Clips' starting big!

For Charlotte, Joel Przybilla negated three boards in 10:18 with a brick, four fouls, and a turnover for a 5:3 Voskuhl.

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Pro tip: Try catching the basketball with your hands, not your face

Hard to follow up that Evil Ted post, but I don't have kids to be awesome in any videos I might do, so that's understandable, right?

Worst of the Night in Pictures:
"Dear God! They're shutting down the buffet early!!!"

Lessons in How Not To Look Intimidating, starring Jason Terry

Nationally Televised Games:
Suns at Celtics, NBA TV, 7:30pm: Apparently the key is to keep the ball away from Channing Frye in the last seconds of the game. Good to know.

Rockets at Clippers, 10:30pm: Right now, the Rockets are like Willie Nelson -- they just can't wait to get on the road again. (However, I assume they smoke much less marijuana than Willie Nelson.)

All The Other Games:
Bulls at Hawks, 7pm: The Bulls and Hawks face each other three times in the next three weeks. So let's just hope this gets us off to a good start. Otherwise, it could be a long few weeks.

Spurs at Cadavers, 7pm: The Spurs are missing Tony Parker, but the Cadavers are missing a decent basketball team. Advantage: San Antonio.

Warriors at Wizards Generals, 7pm: I think this speaks volumes: ESPN's preview page of this game doesn't include a preview.

Timberwolves at Pistons, 7:30pm: All right! A chance for Darko Milicic to show the Pistons what they missed by giving up on him!

Hornets at Knicks, 7:30pm: Wait a second... you mean to tell me the Knicks have given up over 106 points per game playing Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony together while being coached by Mike D'Antoni? Who could have ever seen this coming???

Pacers at Thunder, 8pm: Interesting note about the Pacers: Mike Dunleavy is their second highest paid player. And you wonder why this team is fighting for an 8 seed in the East.

Bobcraps at Nuggets, 9pm: I'm a bit confused. Does Charlotte even have a plan, or do they just make this stuff up as they go along? Does MJ care either way?

Frail Blazers at Kings, 10pm: Three words: Power Balance Arena. Sigh. Also, via the Onion: DeMarcus Cousins Worried He Might Have Locker Room Cancer.

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Nightmare Ant
Nightmare Ant may eat your brains and rape your soul, but at least he'll look good doing it
(h/t JE Skeets)

Go read Bruce Arthur's fantastic look back at The Decision for some perspective acquired over time.

Speaking of time, this isn't basketball related, but it is sports related at least. Today's the 10th anniversary of Mario Lemieux's comeback after retiring from the NHL in 1997 to battle Hodgkin's lymphoma. Watch this clip from his comeback game and be ready to get hit with a sonic wave of applause when he first skates onto the ice:

Bad. Ass.

Lemieux notched an assist just 33 seconds into the game, then scored the brilliant goal you see at 3:10 in this clip en route to a 1 goal, 3 assist outing. Not bad for a guy who hadn't played competitive hockey in three years and was just coming back from friggin' cancer. If you aren't terribly familiar with hockey, Lemieux is easily the second greatest player in history, and if he didn't have such a string of health issues (spinal disc herniation, Hodgkin's lymphoma, chronic tendinitis of a hip-flexor muscle, chronic back pain, and atrial fibrillation), he perhaps would have matched or beaten many of Wayne Gretzky's records despite playing quite a bit of his career in the "dead puck" era when scoring paces were much lower than the mid 1980s or today. Oh, and fun fact: Lemieux is the only person ever to win the Stanley Cup as both a player and an owner. Woo.

Worst of Christmas Weekend in Pictures:

"Hey Pau, whaddya think of my new sneakers?"


Shaq Sneak Attack!

76ers Nuggets Basketball
Uh, hey Birdman, I think you missed a spot. I can still see an inch of skin on your left pec...

The Bosh unhinges its jaw to devour its pray whole. It is a dangerous predator from a medium range, but is highly allergic to paint

Trail Blazers Warriors Basketball
"Really? We lost to the Warriors on Christmas? Really?"

Playing on Christmas Van Gundy
Stan Van Gundy throws a temper tantrum upon learning all he got for Christmas from David Stern was a bunch of neckties

Nationally Televised Games:
Craptors at Grizzlies, NBA TV, 8pm: Zach Randolph has more double-doubles this season than the entire Craptors team. I just died a little inside.

All The Other Games:
Magic at Nyets, 7pm: Now that the Magic have taken down the mighty Celtics in a super ugly game, do they actually show up for this one, or do we have a hilarious letdown game? Even Stan Van Gundy said "Hopefully we don't get full of ourselves."

Pistons at Bobcraps, 7pm: The Charlotte Bobcraps may suck, but at least they'll be entertaingly sucky from now on. New coach Paul Silas had this to say: "I want to bring some energy to this ball club. I want us to get up and down and let it all hang out. If they don't want to get up and down, they can come sit down by me."

Hawks at Bucks, 8pm: Are you ready for more Earl Boykins playing time? Enjoy it while it lasts, because the time he gets to play seriously meaningful minutes may be (wait for it...) short.

Yeah, I'm sorry.

Hornets at Timberwolves, 8pm: The 863rd sign your team sucks: STATS LLC adds the qualifier "only" in this sentence from the game preview: "Minnesota has lost six straight to New Orleans by an average of only 7.5 points since a 116-108 home victory on Jan. 23, 2009."

Mavericks at Thunder, 8pm: Did you know Dirk Nowitzki has passed Larry Bird for 25th on the NBA's all-time scoring list? Unreal.

Wizards Generals at Rockets, 8:30pm: Good news/bad news for Rockets fans. Bad news? They're considering trading Yao. What will Houston ever do without a 7'6" dude riding a stationary bike giving spectators fistbumps? But moving on... the good news? Kevin Martin is on fire. Marc Stein noted in his power rankings that the Elias stats guys discovered Discount Store "is on pace to become the first player to lead the league in total FTs and 3s made in a season."

Frail Blazers at Jazz, 9pm: The Blazers are a crappy road team, and their two wins in the entire past decade in Salt Lake City don't bode well for tonight's game.

Clippers at Kings, 10pm: Chris passed along this great link: Tom Ziller compares age versus success, considering only meaningful players to avoid artifically skewing the numbers. In general (with Oklahoma being a major exception), young teams suck. And yep, the Purple Paupers are young. And they definitely suck. And yet, as Chris also noted, front row tickets to this game will set you back just over $1000 apiece. Mind... reeling...

76ers at Warriors, 10:30pm: The Warriors haven't won three games in a row since April 1-5, 2009. Hey Philly, this would be a nice late Christmas gift for the Warriors organization, just FYI.

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Pacers Heat Basketball
Don King at a Heat game? This seems appropriate

Dennis Rodman is really good at three things:
1) Rebounding
2) Being crazy
3) Receiving oral sex while conducting a radio interview.

Yes, there is an mp3 clip of this interview. It is amazing. Dennis gets interrupted mid-sentence by a woman's voice and giggling, the interview gets absolutely derailed, and comedic gold is delivered. One highlight:
Rodman: "What are you doing? What are you doing? (pause) This girl is really active. (laughing and mumbling) Oh my Lord she’s going at it right now dude. Whatever, go ahead.”
Interviewer: (Brief awkward pause) (laughs) "Dennis, you're a trip right now."
The interviewer sums it up well later: "This is exactly what I expected this to be." Rodman responds very well: "Life is awesome."

In less awesome news, NBA players' association executive director Billy Hunter said Monday he is "99 percent sure" there will be a lockout next summer...

Worst of the Night in Pictures:

Magic Spurs Basketball
Holy shit, the reboot of "Twins" looks awesome
(Caption via Czernobog)

Hornets Clippers Basketball
Even when winning, Vinny Del Negro still reeks of failure

Nuggets Warriors Basketball
Oh, what did we ever do without Birdman in our lives?

Nuggets Warriors Basketball
Nice to see the Warriors back on their usual path

Nationally Televised Games:
Bulls at Lakers, NBA TV, 10:30pm: The Lakers are leading the NBA at 112.5 points per game. I was unaware the Bulls' circus trip involved stepping in a time machine to go play the Showtime Lakers...

All The Other Games:
Cavaliers at Pacers, 7pm: The Pacers have fallen into the zig-zag pattern of win-loss-win-loss, etc. They just upset the hell out of the Heat, so I look forward to seeing them drop a load in their collective pants and lose this game by 20 points.

Hawks at Nyets, 7pm: Six game winning streak, then losing 6 of the next 8. I don't pretend to understand this Atlanta Hawks team, and I don't really plan on figuring them out before the end of the year. Nobody cares about Atlanta anyway -- just look at the people who play NBA 2K11 and which teams they use!

76ers at Wizards Generals, 7pm: I'm just going to quote BadDave here: "Is this not the absolute best bawful season we've had since bawful hit the air? It's a veritable cornucopia of terrible ball." And just think! We're still only in November!

Bobcraps at Knicks, 7:30pm: This just further supports BadDave's argument.

Pistons at Mavericks, 8:30pm: One team is good at defense, and the other is not. Go ahead and guess which one has a better record. (waits for answer) How did you know???

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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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Oddly enough, it took Alvin Gentry 55 years to discover he has fingers

Over the weekend, my buddy Jeff and I took a quick roadtrip up to Toledo, Ohio for a stock car race. After seeing countless righteous vans and rusted trucks with plywood tailgates, we got to our hotel just in time to see Stan Van Gundy get obliterated by Kevin Garnett, complete with that tremendous slow-motion replay from the floor level camera. You have no idea how happy this made me.

Worst of the Weekend in Pictures:

"Oh God! I'm sitting on Ron Jeremy's lap!"


Steve Nash is such a badass that he transmitted the pain from his jacked-up nose to Jason Richardson just so Richardson could appreciate how much of a badass he really is

All The Games:
Magic at Celtics - ESPN, 8:30pm
Celtics lead series 3-0

Boston fans know not to get too comfortable with a 3-0 lead. Just look at the epic collapse by the Bruins in the NHL Eastern Conference Semifinals this year. They blew a 3-0 series lead against a Flyers team that practically had to put ads on Craigslist for a starting goalie thanks to the injury bug. However, this Boston basketball team looks a little more motivated, a little more disciplined, and a little less complacent than that Bruins team. The Magic are the ones who look like they don't really want to be there. If you didn't know this article was on a satire-only site, you might actually believe it for a minute.

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What a weekend! And in particular, what a Sunday! Tim Clark won The Players Championship for his first ever PGA Tour title (which means he can stop being referred to as the most successful golfer to have never won a tournament). Dallas Braden pitched the 19th perfect game in MLB history. Rajon Rondo made The Leap and is finally being recognized as one of the league's best young talents. Steve Nash proved that depth perception is overrated. And I only got to see a few minutes of each piece of sports history thanks to family all getting together to celebrate Mother's Day. Don't get me wrong, Mom, I love you, but the timing of this really sucked.

If you can somehow peel yourself away from the video of Rajon Rondo racking Varejao squarely in the man region with a flying basketball, you ought to watch this video that was posted on Deadspin this morning:

Scalabrine high five... DENIED.

Worst of the Night in Pictures:

(Spins wheel) "Left foot on... blue!"

Dancin' LeBron does a variation on The Robot

KG does not approve

Aww, how sweet!

What's going on with the Spurs' guards? Did they have some Fizzy Lifting Drink?

While the Celtics throw basketballs at the opposition's man region to slow them down, the Hawks take a more direct approach

If you knew nothing about basketball, you'd laugh in my face if I told you this guy dominated the Spurs

A four pack of Stan Van Gundy comedy!

All The Games:
Magic at Hawks - TNT, 8:00pm
Magic lead series 3-0

Al Horford commenting on the current state of Atlanta team chemistry: "It's OK. At times, it can be really good. Other times, not so good. There are ups and down. We have a lot of good guys on the team. We mesh to a certain extent. I just think sometimes, when things don't go our way, everybody seems to crawl into their own little hole."

Jeez. Way to waste all of your talent, Hawks. Since somebody's going to dearly overpay for Joe Johnson next season, it'll be interesting to see what happens to this trainwreck team. In the meantime, however, break out the broom, 'cause the Hawks are about to get swept.

Lakers at Jazz - TNT, 10:30pm
Lakers lead series 3-0

The Jazz keep trying to make this series interesting, but are just delaying the inevitable. It's really annoying to get my hopes up, then piss them all away in the last minute or two of the game, guys. Either win one, or just get this crap done so we can move on to the conference finals. Thanks in advance.

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The first round of the NBA playoffs is enough to drive anybody insane

Between the first round of the NBA playoffs, the first round of the NHL playoffs, the NFL draft, and a wicked sinus infection, I am confusd and exhausted. And now I see that Stan Van Gundy (the same guy who complained about the schedule earlier this year when his team had to play on Christmas Day) is complaining about the first round playoff schedule having too many off days. Look, I don't necessarily disagree, but damn. I don't know how much more basketball compressed into each day I can handle!

Speaking of SVG...

Worst of the Night in Pictures:

Is Stan Van Gundy rehearsing for a bit part in a movie about 1940s Germany?

"Hey! You better not make that tasteless joke!"
Woah, okay, sorry! Calm down Stan!

Hey, didn't we just see this picture yesterday?

We're several days into the playoffs, and yet somehow this is our first example of anything even resembling accidental man love

All The Games:
Crabs at Bulls - TNT, 7:00pm
Crabs lead series 2-0

Thanks to other obligations, I won't be able to see this game tonight. As a fan of competitive basketball, I'm not exactly heartbroken. Plus I won't have to hear LeBron talk about how much he loves Chicago AND Cleveland. I hate hearing outright lies. Nobody loves Cleveland, LeBron.

Lakers at Thunder - TNT, 9:30pm
Lakers lead series 2-0

Scott Brooks was voted NBA Coach of the Year recently. A couple of Thunder fans understand what this means. The power of the Coach of the Year curse is strong, my friends.

Suns at Frail Blazers - NBA TV, 10:00pm
Series tied 1-1

In surprisingly pleasant news, Nicolas Batum's shoulder injury isn't as severe as feared, and he is a game-time decision for Game 3. However, it still has to really torment the Portland fans who have endured 13 Blazers missing a combined 311 regular-season games this season. They've had more guys down than the antagonists in a Chuck Norris movie.

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Golden State is just full of morale

Have you ever wondered what Stan Van Gundy would look like without a mustache? Or with mutton chops? Here's your opportunity: The Interactive Stan Van Gundy Makeover. (Thanks Basketbawful reader Big Aaron)

Seriously, that link is a must-click. Go check it out. It's bound to be more fun than 99% of tonight's games.

In news that should be shocking to absolutely nobody that reads this blog, Isaiah Rider is a damn trainwreck and has been arrested again. For some reason, he thought it would be a good idea to kidnap his one-month-old son Isaiah Rider IV. For those keeping score at home, this is the fourth time this month that Rider has been in trouble with the law. I would detail his other run-ins with Johnny Law, but I don't feel like wearing out my keyboard.

Also, some tidbits from this story:
1) The Lakers are so bored that DJ Mbenga convinced Ron Artest he wasn't crazy enough and needed to dye his hair blond.
2) Lamar Odom wants to grow a playoff beard and also dye it blond.
3) Phil Jackson is already working the refs and trying to play mind games with Kevin Durant.

Worst of the Night in Pictures:
Apparently Mbenga decided Artest wasn't crazy enough. Never thought I'd type those words...

Alright, that's it. I'm going shopping for a bright purple suit.

With all that's going on with the Bulls and VDN right now, do I really need to caption this?

Aren't you glad Nellie's going to be back next year?

Nationally Televised Games:
Grizzlies at Thunder: We have eleven games starting tonight at 8pm. And this is the one ESPN is airing? Could be worse, I suppose. At least it isn't a Pacers-Bullets game or something.

Suns at Jazz: So what's been the secret to the Suns' success this year? Take a look:

All The Other Games:
Crabs at Hawks: The Hawks know the Crabs won't give a crap about this game and LeBron will be resting again. Maybe the Hawks will repay the favor by showing some southern hospitality and take the Crabs to this place. Now that's my kind of restaurant.

Spurs at Mavericks: Ooh, a potential first round preview game. If the Mavs win, the Spurs will be dropped to the #7 seed.

Hornets at Rockets: The last time the Rockets played, we got to see a classic revenge game from Kevin Martin. In this game, however, we have absolutely nothing to look forward to.

Bucks at Celtics: The last game between these teams was intense like a playoff game. And it's possible that these teams will face each other in the first round if the Heat lose tonight to help the Bucks get the #5 seed...

Nyets at Heat: ...Yeah. So much for that #5 seed, Milwaukee. Have fun playing the Hawks in the first round!

Pistons at Timberwolves: Ugh.

76ers at Magic: A victory here and the Magic will lock up home court advantage if they have an NBA Finals rematch against the Lakers. Nice to know at least one team has some reason to show up for this game.

Pacers at Bullets: Oh, damn it all. What a horrible game. (For perspective, I believe it won't even be televised!) On behalf of another Washington team:

Bricks at Craptors: The Craptors can still get into the postseason with a win here and a Bulls loss tonight. Bosh is out, and Weems is a game-time decision. However, their opponent is STILL the Bricks, so hold your heads up guys! There's still a chance you'll get to lose another four games in a row before you get to call it a season.

Bulls at Bobcats: Well, the Bobcats may have nothing to play for, but coach Larry Brown isn't going to give the Bulls a free pass: "It will be a meaningful game for Chicago, so we're going to have to go out and try to win. It wouldn't be right just to go out and play." I have to admit, I kind of respect that.

Lakers at Clippers: Well, if there's ever been a chance for the Clippers to build some momentum, this has to be it. Then again, considering the Clippers and they are who we thought they were, they'll probably go and do something Clippery and lose this game by 30 points or something.

Warriors at Frail Blazers: If you're trying to lock up the #6 seed, the Warriors HAS to be on your short list of desired opponents, right?

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Doesn't this picture make you sad we didn't have any NBA games yesterday?

I hate Duke. Sigh. Let's move on.

Golden State Warriors head coach Don Nelson is just one victory away from becoming the NBA's all-time leader in wins as a coach. Of course this record says nothing of his actual success since it ignores his multitude of losses, but it's still a relatively impressive accomplishment I suppose. But is it that big of a deal? As noted by Marc Stein:
One win away from becoming the NBA's all-time winningest coach, with a game forthcoming Tuesday night against the eminently beatable Washington Wizards, Nelson has canceled the Golden State Warriors' morning shootaround.

Reason being: Nelson has managed, through some of wife Joy's connections, to arrange a pregame private tour of the White House for the 23-win Warriors.
Nellie, I salute you for giving us all years and years of entertainment, and for giving Basketbawful one more reason to exist. Sadly Don Nelson also says in the interview for that article that he plans to retire after one more season. At least we still have another full year to enjoy his bawfulness.

In other news, holy freaking crap:

I knew that pro-level athletes were obviously able to run faster than the average person, but holy crap. I had no idea just how stupidly fast the human body can go. I think I ran out of breath and got cramps just from watching that video.

One last aside before we delve into the pictures from the weekend. This is completely and totally not basketball related, but is definately worth passing along. I found an article that claims there is a Sandra Bullock/Jesse James sex tape. The best quote from the article:
The alleged tape reportedly includes James smearing feces on Bullock’s upper lip during various types of anal sex, lots of profanity hurled from both parties, and a leather clad James, sporting a Hitler mustache with brown hat with a swastika, ramming a handcuffed Bullock’s bottom with a shotgun in his left hand.
...wow. That sounds even more intense than the virtual mind sex Sandra Bullock's character had with Sly Stallone in Demolition Man.

Worst of the Weekend in Pictures:

Is there anything more awkward looking than Stan Van Gundy holding a basketball?

..yes, there is.

Thank you, Rockets assistant coach John Sigma, for giving us one of the saddest facepalms in a while

Elton Brand, Defensive Master

John Kuester attempts to will the ball into the hoop with his mind powers

LeBron and Delonte West attempt to... yeah, I have no idea what they're doing

Geordi La Forge is Captain Jack's favorite Star Trek character

Shh... it's naptime

Who wants to break it to Carlos Boozer that he isn't Superman?

All The Games:
Craptors at Crabs: These last few games of the regular season are effectively meaningless for Cleveland, while Toronto needs some wins to lock up a chance to lose to the Crabs in the first round of the playoffs. However, the Craptors are still the Craptors, so they'll probably lose this one anyway.

Pistons at 76ers: Eleven consecutive losses. Damn. This is the second time this season Detroit's had double-digit losing streaks. It's almost just sad at this point.

Warriors at Wizards Generals Bullets: To be fair, this game really is a good opportunity for Nellie to get that milestone win...

Hawks at Bobcats: The Bobcats are trying to stay healthy, and failing. Lately Captain Jack has been hampered by injuries to his hamstring, ankle, elbow, and hand. In related news, team doctors confirmed his ligaments and muscles are actually made of Silly Putty and vaginal fluid.

Celtics at Knicks: Nate Robinson didn't play against the Crabs. Was Doc Rivers saving him for an epic revenge game against the Knicks?! (Nah.)

Bucks at Bulls: I just thought about seeing Andrew Bogut's elbow injury. I'm just gonna go over here and dry heave for a moment...

Rockets at Grizzlies: During the first three games of their current road trip, the Rockets have allowed 122 PPG. It's a shame they don't have a "D" in their name that I can remove.

Thunder at Jazz: The Thunder have won all three of their games against the Jazz this season, yet Accuscore gives the Jazz an 80% chance of victory. This is why I hate math.

Spurs at Kings: The Spurs will be without the services of Tony Parker and George Hill against the Purple Paupers. Meanwhile, Sacramento's on a seven-game losing streak, and as of the last time I checked, they are still the Purple Paupers. I'll allow you to draw your own conclusions.

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