Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Open Bias: Are Endorsement Dollars Ruining Sports?

I won't be near a computer Friday, so I will post my question to you now. Are endorsement dollars controlling sports?

It seems like Nike and Gatorade run the NBA, college, and high school basketball by now...and look at how TV warps the Olympics, for example, just so that the American market can see sports in prime time. Worse, players now get paid more from endorsements rather than from the teams. Their true loyalty is now to a brand, not a ball club. What really should be more important to Lebron James, the Cavs money or Nike's money? Michael Jordan has already proven athletes can market well after retirement on the strength of a good brand name.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Jesus Plays Sports: William Wesley + 100 Posts of Moderately Cerebral Bias

This is my 100th post of Moderately Cerebral Bias on Blogger, so I figured I'd give you a chance to tell me what you liked and didn't like about the first 100. Shoot your mouth off in the comment section or send me an e-mail; what types of posts were your favorites?

I was quite inspired by the William Wesley story on TrueHoop. William Wesley is...oh, go read the link first, too hard to explain here.

Anyway, if you don't recall, Jesus Plays Sports is a series where I apply some Christian worldview/thought on an issue of sports. William Wesley intrigued me because of two abilities that I found noteworthy. He has become wealthy and well-regarded because he serves others and doesn't ask for anything for himself. "Worldwise Wes" also excels at finding talented people at their most humble points and then growing with them as they grow. Now, before you read the rest of this; William Wesley is not a role model per se. However, I'm going to have a "White Hat" approach in writing this blog.

William Wesley's servant attitude has turned him into a leader for very wealthy, athletic basketball players. Read the article in GQ; note how LBJ, an occasionally cocky young man, speaks of WW with so much respect. I find this intriguing because I see Jesus' recommendation that "Whoever wants to become great among you must become the least" and think "How is that possible?" How can one become a leader by being a servant? Well, there's an intriguing story that Jesus tells about a steward who uses his position of power to do favors for lots of his friends when he is about to be fired. The idea of the story is that by your generosity, you can create a network of friends and people who will then take care of you when you have needs; Jesus then relates that spiritually.

That's exactly what WW has done; by serving athletes and entertainers, he has now gained a network of favors that he can selectively tap. Note, for example, how WW is able to call Jay-Z and Beyonce on the spot to talk to Leandro. You can bet that happened only because WW had served Jay-Z in the past and thus earned the right to call on Jay-Z for an occasional favor. When you serve first and then ask later, you have earned the right to be heard. Of course, the challenge such a person has is not to smack around people who take and take and never give back, ha.

I could see this working for sports blogs, too. If you constantly supply more popular blogs with story material that they desperately need to keep up with their 4+ posts per day cycle, guess what? When you want a link for your blog, they are going to give you one, just to keep your flow of stories going. If you comment on other sites and help make someone else's blog better, then they will be more open to your requests as well. Another example of this perspective is Deadspin; I really think Will Leitch's allowing comments on his posts and letting some of his readers get some of the credit on the site was a gutsy gamble. By allowing others to be funny on his material, even possibly at his expense, the blog became a lot better. Now true, not just ANYONE could comment, but it still was a risk.

The other part of William Wesley's story that I find inspiring is his ability to grow with his clients. It's not hard to impress a 15-year-old Lebron James, but it is difficult to impress the multimillionaire 22-year old Lebron James. In addition, William Wesley has managed to keep Allen Iverson in line, and you know that can't be by cracking the whip on him. After that initial contact with the athlete when they were teens, William Wesley has been able to continue solving clients' problems at a very high level even as his clients grow in wealth and ability.

A criticism that many 20-somethings level (fairly, I'm afraid) at churches is that the church is not growing with the person. Games that were "super-cool!" when you are 15 aren't so cool when you're 25. Unless a religious worldview can grow and meet needs at all stages of life, including those of single people in their 20's and 30's, what good is it? That is the real test, and WW has managed to master the test and make it look easy. My hat's off to him, and I hope I can be as hard-working and talented in achieving my goals as WorldWide Wes.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bloggolalia: Is Blog Athlete Coverage Better than the Mainstream?

I wanted to give you an open question to discuss that has been irritating me lately. The topic is how athletes are covered on blogs. Frankly, I think the blog world isn't doing any better than the much-maligned ESPN at covering athletes and understanding their positives and negatives.

There are some blogs that make their living from mocking athletes for being stupid. This is irritating because too often, their inferiority or nerd complex is showing. The idea is "Well, I'll never has as much money or girls as Athlete X, but hey, I can form complete sentences better, and I know not to put up my most embarrassing pictures on Myspace!" Congratulations; you have that in common with the majority of the population. Really, grow out of your leftover high school angst already.

It annoys me the most in two ways. One is when this type of attitude is used towards young athletes; some guy suddenly becomes famous when before no one cared who he was, still has some embarrassing pictures up somewhere doing what most 20-somethings do, and voila! Let's make fun of the 21-year-old for being young and dumb or ogle the babes on his page. The second is when this type of attitude has a certain flavor of racism. So a black athlete uses some slang that makes no sense to us country folk, or a foreign player makes an analogy that sounds really silly to us, or an athlete may not spell well. What does it look like when we mock them for those things? Not classy, I can tell you that. Mainstream media usually isn't allowed to get away with this athlete-hating behavior overtly, but the blogs are worse, in my opinion. I'm not saying there's no room for mockery; but targets have to be chosen carefully.

The other side of blogging is bloggers who'll defend any athlete, any time, for anything. Now look, we know that any media likes to set up heroes and villains to make stories more interesting. That's unfortunately part of the game. But worse than having some antagonists is having zero antagonists. Every athlete is a great guy! or hot! or something! It's just the media or his posse who makes him look bad! You'd like Charles Manson if only you'd spent some time with him and got to see the side the media isn't talking about! Ok, maybe not the last part. But you get my point. One can enjoy music or cinema or whatever while still realizing that not all musicians are gods or all actresses are angels or what not. Sometimes the media is calling someone a jerk because they ARE a jerk.

My question to you is, am I exaggerating the state of affairs? Is it my Friday grouchiness coming out? Or is it really that bad out there?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

AV Wednesday, Extended Edition: Joe Thomas's Aunt is Back!

Here's an interesting video for you; you may know of the Two Michelles, those NFL-blogger females who were shockingly left out of my female blogging duo post. Of course, Michelle is my favorite of the two (groan, yes, that was an awful yet irrestible joke).

Anyway, Tall Michelle scored an interview with...Joe Thomas's uncle and aunt! Yes, the Joe Thomas aunt. Although actually, the uncle deserves his share of credit too for being an interesting person. And note the Joe Thomas T-shirts with his face...yet Tall Michelle seems suspiciously unaware of who Joe Thomas is, ha. That section of the video is at the 3:25 mark. The entire Draft Day saga of the Two Michelles is here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

AV Wednesday*: Nice Red Sox Fans Exist! + Punchout

Yes, I know, my title is an oxymoron already. But bear with me; after the deadspin posts on drunk Red Sox fans, their existence was rather uncertain. However, after a thorough scouring of the 'Tube, I have discovered the existence of one Red Sox fan that even Yankees and Mets fans might be able to tolerate:

Surprising, isn't it? Now guys, to keep our man cover intact, remember, you can't post and say that this is cute. Make sure to grumble or mutter at the absence of grown lady videos in the comment section. It'll be our little secret that you may have actually enjoyed that video.

EDIT: OK, this was too funny not to add: Mike Tyson's Punchout video acted out for the present day.

* For the record, I've decided to actually put some structure on this blog. As of this millisecond, the following plan is in motion:
Mondays are perspective posts (i.e. Jesus/Newton/Freud Plays Sports or Open Letters) and commenting on weekend sports events.
Wednesdays are Audio-Visual posts (pictures and videos of cool sports stuff and athletes, including, possibly, yours truly. I don't want to jinx it, so no details yet about my potential project, but I think you might enjoy it.)
Fridays are Bloggolalia and Open Bias posts (in which I discuss how the media (mainstream or blogs) has covered a sports story this week, and ask you for your opinion). I think this format will help emphasize what makes my blog interesting and unique. I do enjoy guest bloggers on occasion, so if you have any ideas, shoot me an e-mail and maybe you too can be read by thousands! err, dozens! cousin Wilbur and Google searchers who can't spell well?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Terry Hoeppner Link has been skillfully covering the Indiana football coach story. Sadly, Terry Hoeppner has now passed away. Here's the link to the short cobrabrigade article about it, and I encourage my readers to keep an eye out for the full report from Bruce Paine later on the Cobra Brigade site.
UPDATE: The full article is now up, and it's as informative as you would expect from Bruce Paine. Check it out, very interesting.

An Open Letter to Amanda Beard

Unlike some other blogs, Moderately Cerebral Bias is written by only one person. Thus, he must fake multiple personality disorder when he wants another voice on his blog. Today, it's a 14-year-old female swimmer and a male chauvanist writing Amanda Beard, the Olympic swimmer who recently posed for Playboy magazine, with a special MC Postscript.

Dear Amanda,
Hi! I'm really excited for your photoshoot!!! That's great! I'm a swimmer too at my high school, but I am not even CLOSE to being as good as you! And now you're showing the boys that us swimmers are hotties too. You go girl! But I'm a little confused. You did this to show people what an athlete's body looks like, right? I thought your shoot was going to be really cool because of that! No airbrushing or anything. You know, you'd show people what it looks like to be FIERCE and FINE even if you have birthmarks! But, um...your photoshoot skin looks perfect. Where are the scars? Where is the weird tan from the goggles for swimming? It doesn't look like me at all. Oh well. Maybe I'll have perfect skin like that when I get older, and the boys will like me. For now, it's back to the pool. Can you sign my poster from the magazine and return it? Your fan, Michelle Bias.

Dear Future Kitchen Inhabitant Amanda,
I have to admit, you had me concerned. You female athletes and career women were ruining what Hef and thousands of men like him worked so hard for all these years. Women were making noises about "careers" and "taking care of myself" and "don't need men." But Hef didn't get that excellent taste in loungewear by doing nothing, uh-uh. Now, you women realize that "career" is just another step on the long road to becoming a sex object for males. Hef wins again! It's just another clever strategem in the War Between the Sexes. We've just modified the system so now it's "Sex Object and...Athlete" or "Sex Object and...Engineer" instead of just plain old "Sex Object"! Oh, it's cute to think that you're "empowered" by working for Hef, but I ask you, who is your boss? who is your audience? Why it is men, and men again. And if taking naked pictures of yourself is "empowering", why don't you do it for free? Belinda from Accounting still is not falling for my logic on this. Ah, Amanda, it's days like these that makes me happy to be the pig I am. Now, how about a little more skin next time? Perhaps a video?
Signed, Male Pig Bias.

And finally, a word from MC himself:
Dear Amanda. As if it wasn't hard enough already to convince people I liked the WNBA and women's volleyball as sports in their own right, now this. Thanks but no thanks for making sure to perpetuate the bias that women cannot be appreciated in their own right for what they do unless they are hot/sexy too. Cheers, MCBias.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Casual Z, Baby

This picture of Zydrunas Ilguskas makes me smile (click for larger view)

To avoid an unfair hint of scandal (the caption for the photo said that the girl asked Z to take the picture with her), I blocked out the girl.

Now that the series is over, let's revisit my Finals Predictions:
1. Ginobili stinks in crunch time... Well, there was that awful Game 3. But if he doesn't make those free throws in Game 4, Damon Jones 3 ties or wins the game, perhaps. WRONG
2. Familiarity may cause scoring to be very low in this series... RIGHT
3. The Spurs are older than you think...IRRELEVANT I do think Duncan wore down some as the series wore on, but it didn't matter.
4. Lebron will wear Bowen down as the series goes on...WRONG
5. The Cavs's offense will have success luring Tim Duncan out of rebounding position with Z and/or Donyell...WRONG
6. Tony Parker will be able to penetrate at will, but Manu will not. RIGHT Manu didn't have a bad series, but Tony certainly had a great one.
7. Key players for the Spurs: Oberto. WRONG
8. Key players for the Cavs: Z. RIGHT Once Z started playing better at home, this became a series.
9. Prediction: Spurs in 6 (Winning Games 1,3,4, and 6)...ALMOST RIGHT There's that nagging Game 2, ha.

Oh, and hail to the champs: while not a Spurs fan, I do appreciate their skills, as I did here and here. But I maybe, just maybe, am bitter enough to post a picture of Tony Parker where he reminds me of Mr. Bean, ha:

Linda, Tony  Parker and Sabrina

Best Brains in Sports?

Sports Illustrated has a gallery of the best brains in sports. Most of their choices are pretty decent. However, I can't believe David Robinson is not on that list. Decent SAT, and the man made himself into a great scorer after growing into his height late and being at a non-traditional hoops school (Navy). And Sidney Crosby? He's way too young, and at best what he does is instinctual, not truly a great brain. I disagree. What do you think about their list?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

MCBias Interviews: This Suit is Not Black

After seeing the fun that The Big Lead, Pyle of List, The Big Picture, and others had in interviewing media types and bloggers, I decided to join in if I could find bloggers worth featuring. I wanted to get answers to questions that smaller, mediocre bloggers like myself care about. I found a blogger worth featuring in the witty Kristine of This Suit is Not Black fame. Kristine is one of the people who helped inspire me to blog, and I really wanted the opportunity to introduce her to more people in the blogging community. That, and I am a sucker for tall ex-volleyball players. So here are 20 Mediocrely Cerebral questions for a MCBias favorite. (Expletives get the #### treatment; of course, I can’t stop the uncouth among you from playing “Obscene Mad Libs” at the top of your lungs in your very own cubicle or domicile.) Be your usual classy selves in the comment section, readers.

1. What was your background in sports and writing before blogging?
I graduated with a degree in sports journalism, believe it or not. It was the last of the five majors I tried (6 if you count “undeclared”) and I still managed to graduate on time. I finally settled on journalism because I wanted to be a VJ at MTV (no judgment). But at Springfield College - highly regarded for grooming the nation's top physical educators - it is impossible to find a major unrelated to sports. So journalism became sports journalism. From there I went into radio and ended up at ESPN Radio in Bristol (clearly foregoing the whole MTV career path when I realized it blew). I left the World Wide Leader when an opportunity arose in New York City for a radio prep service (ask me what that is later). I started up the sports column for the service and when I didn't get a raise at my yearly review I rebelled by starting up This Suit is Not Black which I would write from work – because #### the man, that’s why. And as of two weeks ago, I am a fulltime writer for the service, which sadly cuts down on the time I can write for TSINB. It's bittersweet, really, but there you have it: the short, short version. I hope it was coherent.

2. You could be a pro at any sport of your choosing, but you’d only make 50% of your current salary. Deal?
No #### deal. I can barely live off of my current salary and I highly doubt, “Coach, I can’t go to practice today, I have to waitress” would work very well.

3. I know you were a commenter on for a while before you started your own blog. What convinced you to take the plunge into blogging?
I realized that writing for the prep service, though a great step back into print from radio, was still incredibly stifling. And after reading all of the different blogs out there, I found that the work done by those writers was what similar to what I was looking to do. So that helped convince me. As did the fact that I can be as big of a bitch on my site as I’d like without possibly losing my job.

4. How do you find material to blog about? It sounds like such an easy question, but all the excellent writing in the world can’t save a boring rehash of yesterday’s news.
I try not to rehash too much. I’ve found a few untapped sites that are goldmines for stories about retards or retarded events. However, if I see something on one of the more well known sites that I think I can put a good spin on, I’m definitely going to use it.

5. You can be present at one sporting event, past, present, or future; where do you go?
There are a lot of sporting events that give me the chills when I think about them. Off the cuff I can think of about 7 events in Red Sox history that I'd love to have been present for. But I have choose Jason McElwain’s 6 three-pointers in the last three minutes of his senior game. It’s even better than Rudy.

6. You worked at ESPN for some time, and although I’d love to hear more about that one time with that one ESPN personality, I understand that professional etiquette may restrain you, ha. But on the off-chance it doesn’t, spill the beans, sister! How gory is it within the bowels of the Worldwide Leader? And do you find the fascination of outsiders with ESPN at all weird now that you’ve worked there?
As much as I hate to disappoint (not really), I had not one problem working at ESPN. I never encountered one TV or radio personality who made me uncomfortable in any way. That being said, I was aware of the environment I was working in and am not easily insulted or offended – qualities that may have helped. My boss was very clear that I could go to him if I had any problem with sexual harassment whatsoever, though I never did. I'm certainly not saying all those guys are saints – what they do on their own time is their business – but as far as the way they treated me, never a problem. Steve Levy was able to provide me with the most embarrassing moment in my professional career, though, I will say that. And both he and Harold Reynolds signed a graduation card for my younger brother. Can’t hate guys for being nothing but nice.

7. You’ve done a good job of getting larger blogs like and to link to you. Tell us what made those blogs you wrote worth linking to, and how you went about getting the links.
I think you're asking me to tell you what made me choose the blog posts I sent out? Based on that question, here's my answer: The one criterion I have is that I will not send stories that I've already seen on another blog. After that, it's not up to me what I think is worth linking to. Basically, I email both Deadspin and With Leather without abandon or shame. Probability says that the more stories I send, the better the chance of one getting chosen for use. Ultimately, the editors of those sites choose what they deem worthy, I just add to the material they sift through.

8. I enjoy your self-depreciating humor on your site about women, making comments such as “Great find by The Big Lead this morning that further proves the woman's place is in the kitchen.” Because you don’t identify yourself as a female on the site, how many guys, if any, didn’t get that it was a joke?
I think that anyone who read that sentence and didn't pick up on the joke came across my site by accident and won't be returning which, frankly, is probably better for the both of us.

9. I know you’re a Red Sox fan, so I have to pick on you once. David Ortiz gets traded for Derek Jeter tomorrow. Do you have a heart attack, and how long does it take for you to become a fan of Derek Jeter?
This is a #### question which I will not dignify with an answer.

10. Now that you’ve been in blogging for a few months and met some bloggers, are the stereotypes true about bloggers being white, male, unemployed, socially awkward losers living at home?

11. Tom Brady after Bridget and Gisele: tarnished or not?
He can have sex with whomever he wants to, it was the Yankees hat that tarnished him.

12. To you, what is the reward of blogging? It amazes me sometimes that so many people in their 20’s and 30’s are willing to waste parts of the best years of their lives to type out entries just so they can get a couple “Nice post, dawg” type comments. It’s more than just that, right?
It’s not much more than that. Honestly, though, I write between 15-18 stories daily for my prep service, but if I don't write one good blog post I feel like my day's been a waste. The blog is my voice, my creativity, my brainchild as opposed to my company’s voice, my company’s creativity, my company’s brainchild. So as much as I’d like to say I do it for myself (and maybe my mom), it's a cool feeling to have someone like what I, even if that makes me lame.

13. As a native Massachusettsian (I’ll use the nice term, ha), what do you think of the Sports Guy? Does he represent Boston correctly?
He is a Boston fan, so he can’t represent himself incorrectly.

Blogger Superlatives:
14. You’ve been sentenced to 90 days in jail for various petty crimes, and are incarcerated with one sports blogger. If you had a choice, who would it be?
Matt over at With Leather. I've met him before and I feel like I could make it 90 days without wanting to kill him or myself.

15. Which blogger/site do you think is most likely to write a book? No, you can’t say Will, ha.
I don't really feel I can answer this one. I know a few who are going to write books, but that's not information for me to give out. And I don't want to insult anyone by not choosing them, etc. So I'm going to answer safely and say I’m going to get a book deal because I'm #### awesome.

16. What are your thoughts on the Hot Blogger contest? (
I think it's sexist. I think it completely degrades those men and the talents that they bring forward as writers. And I think it turns them into nothing but pieces of meat. I couldn’t love it more. I just wish I had thought of it first.

17. Which blogger/site is the craziest fan of his/her team?
I haven’t a breeze.

18. Which blogger/site is the funniest?
What Would Tyler Durden Do. It's not sports, but it's like, With Leather's sister site and it's fan-####-tastic.

19. Most creative blogger/site?
Kissing Suzy Kolber or Girls Gone Sports. Those chicks are no joke – at both sites.

20. Pick your own question to answer.
Do I hope to someday get paid for my blog? ####, yea.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cavs-Spurs, Game 4 Scouting Report: 2007 Cavs vs. 1991 Bulls

I'll be rolling out some interesting interviews over the next week, so check in. But first, an interesting observation for you (click for larger photo)

I realize this series is over for most people, but I wanted to defend the Cavs against the charge that they are one of the worst teams to ever make the Finals. I'll compare them to...the 1991 Bulls. Check the data for yourself here: Bulls and Cavs.

Top Players
Michael Jordan (30.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 6.1 apg), Scottie Pippen (21.0, 7.7, 7.0) vs.
Lebron James (27.3, 6.7, 6), Larry Hughes (14.9, 3.8, 3.7). Clearly, the Bulls have the edge here, although Lebron is closer to MJ, already, than you think. The shocking stat for me is how little Larry Hughes contributes in terms of steals and blocks.
Edge: Bulls

Supporting Cast
Horace Grant (14.2, 10.0), Bill Cartwright (8.0,5.1), BJ Armstong (9.9, 3.2) vs. Sasha Pavlovic (9.0, 2.4), Drew Gooden (11.1,8.5), Zydrunas Ilguskas (11.9,7.7). Here, I think the Cavs at least draw even. BJ is slightly better than Sasha statistically, but Sasha has a height advantage on him. This was before Chicago had big guards; I think the Cavs would have a decent edge on that. Z is much better than Cartwright. Horace is better than Drew. As well, the Cavs have two half-decent scorers to the Bulls one scorer.
Edge: Cavs

Paxson (who was a starter, but I'm putting him on the bench for the sake of comparison) and Stacey King are the Bulls' first two players off the bench. Except for Paxson, no one on the Bulls bench would go on to have any additional play-off succes. The Cavs, on the other hand, actually have some play-off veterans (Eric Snow) and young talent (Anderson Varajeo, Daniel Gibson) on their bench.
Edge: Cavs

In a matchup of 2-year coaches, Phil Jackson is shrewd enough to surround himself with veteran coaches (such as Tex Winter) while Mike Brown has few veteran coaches on staff.
Edge: Bulls

I believe the Bulls would win if they have home-court, but I just wanted to point out that even the 1991 Bulls may not be better than this Cavs team. Don't let the injury to Larry Hughes fool you. This is not in the top half of Finals teams, but look at some of the teams that have made it before. 2002 Nets? 2000 Pacers? You can't tell me that the Cavs aren't close to that level of talent.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cavs-Spurs, Game 3 Scouting Report

Sigh. Those were some brutal games. Makes me want to rant like a teenage girl. Since I am not, a substitute.

You tell them, Taylor! Let's see...nope, still not ready to type words.

Um...still no words. I would just remind you that Tony Parker has looked this good before in the first two games of a series; .4, anyone? Spurs fans don't need a reminder of what I'm talking about, do they? Hey, if you want to go to the Cavs Watch Party for Game 3 in Cleveland, send an e-mail to for more info.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Gisele Bundchen has "Bad Religion"
Wow, just wow. What can I add to an article like that in which Gisele takes on her boyfriend's religion (Catholic) on nearly every possible point in regards to sexuality? I think she stopped short of calling for gay priests. But not by much.

So apparently Gisele may have been pregnant with Tom Brady's baby after all, but aborted it? But wait, that would mean Tom Brady didn't use a condom, and Gisele said contraceptives should be mandatory! Ah, I love it when the conversation shifts from "You should allow X, people deserve the right to choose!" to "X is state law, people have no right to choose!". Fascist principles are so cute when models explain them! And I mean, if someone as famous as Gisele doesn't know any virgins, then they must not exist, because models are like, all-knowing scientists. And models are so cosmopolitan and worldly-wise too! They travel to all those cities in large packs, where I've heard they occasionally have deep, soulful conversations on philosophy with locals. Conversations like "No I don't want any food, please, just the gum" and "You poor man, how do you stand it, wearing non-branded clothing?" Yes, Gisele is definitely right and fashionable, again! Hmm, I wonder what the fashion is in hell this time of year--are shoulder pads making a comeback there too? ;-)

Quick Finals Prediction

It's still the second quarter of Game 1, so I suppose I'll squeeze out my predictions quickly here:
1. Ginobili stinks in crunch time. I base this on watching him single-handedly throw away a game a few years ago and last year's foul on Dirk. Quietly file away this fact when he throws away a game in the Finals.
2. Coach Mike still uses San Antonio play names for some of his team's plays. Familiarity may cause scoring to be very low in this series; neither team cracked 90 in the two games this year, I believe.
3. The Spurs are older than you think. After Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili (and Oberto, I think), they rely on a veteran crew of 30+ types.
4. Lebron will wear Bowen down as the series goes on. Bowen has neither a height advantage or a strength advantage, and Lebron will attempt to be physical with him before Bruce can take out a knee or something.
5. The Cavs's offense will have success luring Tim Duncan out of rebounding position with Z and/or Donyell, and the Cavs are good rebounders. For once, the Cavs' lack of a low-post scoring option is not as damaging as it was in the Pistons' series.
6. Tony Parker will be able to penetrate at will, but Manu will not.
7. Key players for the Spurs: Oberto. Duncan needs help against the Cavaliers' versatile group of big men.
8. Key players for the Cavs: Z. I say the big men determine this series.
9. Prediction: Spurs in 6 (Winning Games 1,3,4, and 6), but this may be their last deep play-off run. I've been wrong in most of my predictions, and yes, I'm hoping to be wrong again.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

NBA Finals: Yes, Pistons Fans, There Is a Conspiracy

I have been playing connect-the-dots ever since Coach Mike's odd press conference after Game 5. Here is what he said:

"Q. Did you say anything differently?
COACH BROWN: No. A good friend of mine told me, he said, "Tell your team to see if they can score three layups before the first time-out, and see if that would help." So I told the team that; I don't know if they did it or not, but that's the only thing new that I said to them, "Hey, guys, let's see if we can score three layups before the first timeout." I guess it worked. My friend might have a little bit of insight.

Q. Who was the friend?
COACH BROWN: I can't tell you."

Odd, but not that weird for the man who gives his offensive plays extra-long names so other teams can't recognize the same fake pick-and-roll on the 3rd time in a row it's called. (Oops, gave it away!) But who was that friend? Clearly, there must be a reason why Coach Mike concealed his identity. Was it someone no longer on the Cavs payroll? Or perhaps a veteran player like Eric Snow?

Whoever that friend was, it was great advice. All series long, Cleveland had been struggling against the Pistons in the 3rd quarter. Suddenly, in Games 5 and 6, Cleveland played Detroit even in both quarters (19-18 Cavs in their two point victory, 18-19 Detroit in the Game 6 victory.

Here, perhaps is a clue, courtesy of the NY Times:
“We have a great relationship,” Brown said, referring to Popovich, for whom he spent three years as an assistant, earning a championship ring in 2003. “We talk from time to time. He’ll call and check up on me, I’ll call and ask for advice. He’ll call to say ‘good win,’ and I’ll do the same."

That's something, but really, Brown wouldn't call Popovich for advice knowing that beating the Pistons meant facing the Spurs, right? Isn't that tampering by Popovich, because by helping Brown, he's influencing what team he'll play in the Finals? But you say there's no proof that Popovich was still advising Brown when they were going to soon oppose each other in the play-offs. Wrong!

Brian Windhorst finishes the story:
"Even during the Eastern Conference finals against the Pistons as the Spurs were fighting to eliminate the Utah Jazz, Popovich was serving as a mentor with routine phone calls."

I now am 90% sure that Coach Popovich was that friend. I'm not media, so I have no way of learning the final 10%. But it certainly appears as if Popovich would rather face the Cavaliers rather than the Pistons in the Finals. I'm a Cavs fan, but I still think that was wrong for Pop to help once the Spurs were clearly the Cavs next opponent if they won. I fear that much of the improvement to Coach Mike was also due to Pop's calls of advice, and that the Cavs are now doomed against the Spurs. PuppetMaster Popovich is on the other side now, and he'll give Coach Mike enough string to hang himself with, I'm sure. Anyone disagree?

Silly Bias: Female Blogging Duos

Gentlemen, the day we hoped for is finally here; attractive ladies have descended on sports blogland, two by two, as on Noah's ark when the, bad analogy. Not that sports blogland was devoid of feminine beauty (braces for hate mail from other bloggers), of course. We all know that the end of the world must be nigh when this occurs. Excuse me while I barricade myself in my apartment to prevent their romantic onslaughts; I sorrow when the petite brunnettes get trampled. I must prepare myself for the last days of my stay on earth, and...Wait, that's not going to happen until 2515? My canned food will only last until 2009! That said, while I await the hordes from a feminine Armageddon, here's a few videos to tide you over.

Competition on the blogging front! Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are going to crash the blogging party...and then leave when they find out that they're the only girls there. Just kidding, fellow lady bloggers! Hmm, I wonder if Sue and Diana would consent to a guest post from everyone's favorite MC? Somehow, I think not.

Speaking of female blogging duos, there's a real shocker in this one around the 20-second mark, and it's not what the screen capture shows, either.

To evade the Viacom Nazis who object to blatant thievery of their content (the nerve!), hit up this link:
You don't even know how excited this made me (or you know, and realize I should get a life, heh.) Sadly, my exhaustive 3-day Google marathon found no actual blogs for Jessica Biel or Sarah Silverman. Count me among the 2% who'd rather see their blog than watch them fake-kiss. (Of course, that's because I plan to get a kiss for myself due to insightful, thoughtful blog comments that the rest of you would never think of. Stuff like "Jessica, with those biceps, do you prefer the cream or the clear in your steroid use?" See, that's what really gets the ladies; personal questions that show you really are paying attention! Um, wait...maybe not.)

Monday, June 4, 2007

Coaching Postscript, Cavs-Pistons

I can't believe the Detroit Pistons double-teamed LBJ so much in Game 6, when he clearly left it all on the floor in Game 5. The Pistons actually should have stuck with single coverage on Lebron. I felt that too many of Flip's moves were those of a man protecting his job. Sure it looks good to double-team Lebron after Game 5's performance, and the talking heads were calling for that sort of thing. But it was the wrong move. I've actually started to wonder, though, if Flip playing his starters into the ground in Game 5 wasn't an intentional move of genius. Usually, if you're the veteran team, I would think that you would want to draw out the series, thinking that you have more practice in winning games when they matter. However, I think Flip knew that the Pistons could not afford a Game 7, even if experience and home-court should play in their favor.

Everyone keeps bashing the Cavs line-up, and I agree the starting five is weak. But what's great is that at nearly every position, there's a young and old player to balance each other out. Z and Anderson. Drew and Donyell. Eric and Daniel. The Sasha/Larry/Damon/Lebron mix as well. That's an underrated strength for a team to have, and it wore the Pistons down. If Mike Brown sticks with the hottest hand(s) for playing time in the Finals rather than resorting to veterans, this team could beat the Spurs. Also, Mike Brown's offense may be a mess, but would you look at that D?! No shot-blocker, little press (I'd love to see the Cavs take a page from the Bulls and press in the frontcourt with those big guards), and their best "name" defender may be the oft-injured Larry Hughes. The act may seem to be smoke and mirrors, but it's executed at a level that would impress Hollywood, Vegas, and Broadway.

Cavaliers-Pistons Scouting Report After Game 6

By now everyone knows what happened, and that I get to talk about the Cavs for another week at least. But while you're buyingtickets for the Finals, I want to revisit the Pistons.

Have you ever known someone who overcame great obstacles in life? They came to America with nearly nothing, and now they're making six figures...or they were addicted to smoking, and kicked the habit cold turkey by themselves...or they were 5'7" and slow and still started on a state championship basketball team? People put them down, said they would never amount to anything, and instead this person rose up and shut everyone down. Great story, right? But then, have you ever been there for the fall, when they threw it all away for no good reason at all and went back to the squalor and mediocrity of the bad old days? Not too many movies are made about the fall of a champion (although there are quite a few country songs, I'm sure!).

That's how I feel about the Pistons. In 2003-2005, a group of red-ticketed, discount players came together.
Chauncey wasn't supposed to ever become a point guard in the NBA.
Rip was too soft and couldn't play with Michael Jordan.
Ben was an undrafted offensive liability and had been tried at the #3, #4, and #5 spots without ever finding a true home.
Rasheed was a hothead whose tantrums would never allow him to be a part of a championship team.
Antonio's knees were shot, and he couldn't even help the Knicks.
Tayshaun was too skinny and weak to ever make a decent contribution to an NBA team.

They overcame these weaknesses, and quite frankly the 2004 and 2005 Pistons helped me to seriously care about the NBA again. I was tired of the years where the favorite at the beginning of the year always won at the end of the year. It was about time that some sort of upset occurred. The NBA season had become nothing more than a season-long coronation ceremony for the agreed-upon champion. Then the Pistons beat the Lakers, and I got more and more excited with every game of that series.

But now? Go back and read those descriptions I had for each of the players. Realize that in this series, EACH Piston reverted to the stereotype about him. It's so depressing. I am glad that the Cavaliers won, but I do feel bad for the Pistons. Where was the heart? How could Rasheed get himself thrown out like that? It was such a selfish act; it was almost like he wanted an excuse for losing, as if it doesn't count as a loss for him if he wasn't on the floor.

And Flip Saunders and Joe Dumars also failed the team in some ways. You're telling me Joe Dumars couldn't have dealt Nazr Muhammed for Steve Blake or some other back-up point guard? You're telling me that Flip Saunders couldn't find time for any substitutes off that bench? I still think Carlos Delfino, Flip Murray, and Jason Maxiell needed to play longer than they did, and that the older Detroit players got worn out way too quickly. Tayshaun looked bad in Game 1 and never improved, yet Delfino stayed nailed to that bench. I could say more, but Boney said it much better, several games before the series ended.

One last comment. Did anyone else realize during that 20-minute scoreboard delay that the shot for Larry Hughes' foot was wearing off? That 20-minute delay was a gift for the Pistons, as it shut up the home crowd as well. That makes the Piston collapse all the more surprising to me.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Cavaliers-Pistons Scouting Report After Game 5

A picture is worth a 1000 words...I do believe the Cavs will close out the Pistons in Cleveland on Saturday. The Pistons made the classic mistake of building their squad to stop one team (Miami, more specifically Shaq) and are paying dearly for their lack of backcourt bench support.