Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Video: Terrell Owens Talks to ESPN

Hi all. Sorry, but I'm not yet ready to publish Part 2 of my Blogging for Dollars series. I got a lot of good responses, and I'm trying to figure out how best to present the material for your reading pleasure. So for now, watch the video of Terrell talking to ESPN (thanks to blog friend Modi from Sports on My Mind for finding it, make sure to read the Cowboys coverage there) and I hope to have Part 2 up tomorrow morning.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Blogging for Dollars in a Recession: Challenges and Opportunities

One story I haven't seen yet is how the economic downturn is affecting sports bloggers. There are conflicting reports on how the recession is affecting blog revenue so far. On the one hand, Nick Denton, founder of Gawker Media (parent of Deadspin) is on record as saying "We were up 39% in the year to November -- but even we are planning on a 40% decline in the ad market over the course of the cycle," and ""We're not starting any new blogs--better to err on the side of pessimism." B5media and Gawker are both changing the way they pay bloggers to be less dependent on page views, and thus in many cases paying bloggers less.

However, studies show that spending on Internet advertising (and thus, blog revenue) will increase during this downturn. For example, Zenith claims that "online’s share of the overall market globally will go from 8.6% in 2007 to 13.8% in 2010, up from a previous prediction of 13.6%." So what will the actual economic effect be on blogs in regards to revenue, stories covered, resources, and traffic? I asked a few blog entrepreneurs and contract bloggers for their opinions on how this economic downturn will affect their business. Surprisingly, the overall mood was optimistic, but with a few caveats.

Part 1: Cautious Optimism from Blog Entrepreneurs
One of the biggest concerns for me is how this recession will affect the reader. For example, Jason from TheBigLead said the following:
"Outside of the obviously polarizing topics - hatred of the BCS, Kobe or LeBron, the Cowboys - I'm finding some of the most popular links to be the the economy-related ones I add to the roundup each morning. I've been trying to closely follow the economy for the last couple years, and when I began posting obscure doom and gloom links in January, the emails started to pour in from the casual sports fans who tune into the site for the humor more than the nuts and bolts." (emphasis mine)

The question is, do more concerned readers mean less page views? Overall, big blog sites appear to be meeting their growth targets. Brian from AwfulAnnouncing believes that because the Internet is so important to most readers, they'll cut the Internet (and their connection to blogs) last when looking to save money.
"I personally don't think that the recession will ultimately affect Sports Blogs on a whole...I do think that most readers check blogs at work to kill time, and in turn, a lot less when they're at home. If workforces are being trimmed across the Country, that could lead to less hits, but I don't see that as something that would hurt the more widely read sites out there.

Another side of things is with people losing their jobs, one of the necessary tools needed to find a new one is the Internet. So those who are looking to trim excess spending probably won't be getting rid of their connection. In the end, I think there might be a small downturn across the board, but Internet entities will be some of the least hurt by the economy." (emphasis mine)
Part 2: Contract Bloggers Anticipate Minor Challenges
Many bloggers who get paid do so as part of a larger site umbrella, whether that's Rick Chandler at Deadspin or one of the many contributors at AOL Fanhouse. I asked some of those bloggers for their thoughts on how the economic downturn would affect them.

Dan from Red Sox Monster , which is affiliated with Western Massachusetts news, seemed reasonably optimistic about the future of sports blogs, even though he also alerted me to Nick Denton's pessimism on the future of blogs in this market and the Zenith study I quoted above:
"Media of all kinds have taken a hit with the sour economy, and it stands to reason that blogs would be no different. However, there are plenty of reports out there that suggest Web revenue is still growing...If we can take those sort of reports seriously, it'd seem to me that blogs -- especially established blogs -- will still be OK."
Stephanie Stradley, who blogs both for AOL Fanhouse and the Houston Chronicle, told me it becomes even more important to write stories that bring in revenue and traffic--even if the blogger isn't particularly interested in a given topic. For example, I'm sure some sports bloggers may be bored of writing about Erin Andrews or the Burress story by now, but as long as the hits are there, the stories will get written. She said the following:
"All companies are looking to cut costs, so as a writer you have to be someone who is adding value. Value in blog terms means being a worthwhile destination and page hits. Different writers get page hits in different ways, but certainly some sorts of stories beg for page views, even if you don't really feel like writing about it." (emphasis mine)
Jon Pyle of has done contract work for sites such as Sports Illustrated and the National Lampoon. He was probably the most optimistic blogger I spoke to, as he felt that bloggers are already used to overcoming adversity and limited resources.
"But being accustomed to doing more with less, bloggers are poised to flourish in uncertain economic times while journalists struggle to adapt. Perhaps a case of Darwinism at its best (or worse, depending on your perspective). It's not that bloggers are better writers by any stretch of the imagination but they are uniquely equipped to survive in the impending "new" media environment."
Part 3: A Rise in New Blogs and Contract Blog Work?
The fact that intrigued me the most in my limited interviews is that all the contract bloggers I spoke to thought that there might either be more work for contract bloggers, or more blogs starting during the recession.

For example, Stephanie told me that
"One way the economic downturn can help blogging is that as a group, sports bloggers are much cheaper to employ than traditional sportswriters. AOL Sports, for example, has shifted in featuring its sports bloggers more and less on its contract sportswriters. Sports bloggers can provide tons of web-friendly content for relatively less money." (emphasis mine)
Dan mused if some of the readers who make jokes from their office chairs may finally take the plunge and become bloggers:
"One piece I am curious about is how many new bloggers will pop up due to layoffs. Journalists have made the jump for a couple of years, due to the weak newspaper job market, but what about all those other fields where frustrated writers are now being laid off.

The comment sections of blogs like The Big Lead and Deadspin and filled with lawyers and businessmen stuck at a desk all day wishing they could provide dime-store sports analysis and fart jokes and get paid for it. What better time to give it a try than when you have nothing better to do than look for a new job that could take months to find? " (emphasis mine)
Finally, Jon Pyle was the most enthusiastic of all the people I spoke to. He believes that the economic downturn will accelerate the trend toward using the web for news and information
"The impact of the economic downturn on blogs will be almost completely positive. Blogs should start to get more hits as people spend less money going out and more time at home in front of their computer. Not to mention all the unemployed folks sitting at home searching for jobs. People my age (26) probably value their internet service more than cable... especially now that your computer can essentially serve as your TV/DVD Player/Phone/Checkbook.

Since people are likely to spend more time on Al Gore's information super highway, the increased hits translate to advertising money for blogs. That means profitable blogs while newspapers and magazines are laying off staff wholesale, which will probably translate into better mainstream opportunities for bloggers. Bloggers are prolific writers, marketing/advertising savvy and cheaper than a "real journalist" which will give mainstream corporations a good return on their minimal financial investment without cutting content. To paraphrase the Simpsons, if you can't get a real writer get their "cheap [blogger] equivalent". By the way, if any big companies are looking for a blogger... I might be available." (emphasis mine)
Overall, then, it looks like paid bloggers are suprisingly optimistic about their future in the midst of this downturn. But what about bloggers who just blog for fun, and the many readers who make it possible for bloggers to get paid? On Wednesday, I'll publish Part 2 of this series. I'll focus on reactions from bloggers who blog as a hobby (i.e. for free) and from readers whose blog-reading habits may be affected by the economy, so feel free to e-mail me if you fall in either category and have an opinion to share.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Is Steve Nash a System QB?

I wrote out an expanded version of my video take on the Phoenix Football Suns over at Sports on My Mind. Comment there on the story--I'm just re-pasting it here because I like to keep a record of my writings in one place.


I’ve enthusiastically followed the Suns this year, because they have a fascinating cast of characters. They have four players who have been major stars at one point or another (Grant Hill, Steve Nash, Shaq, and Amare Stoudamire), and they just added the athletic Jason Richardson to their squad. The Suns finally have lowered expectations, as most prognosticators only picked them to finish 6th or 7th in the West. At one point they had the second-best record in the West. And yet this team has been surrounded by turmoil from the beginning. Why is that?

Quite honestly, I think that Steve Nash and Amare Stoudamire are the problem here. Remember, Amare wooed Steve to Phoenix by telling him that they could win championships together. The two have become the NBA’s version of Manning to Harrison. Steve Nash is the perfect QB for the D’Antoni system. But is Steve Nash really a glorified system QB? His numbers this year are not that far off from his numbers of the last five years. But we have Grant Hill comparing Steve to a hummingbird trapped in a plastic bag. We have Steve moping around that Raja Bell was traded and complaining that the team is in a “dark place.” With all these budding poets on the Phoenix Suns roster vying for new metaphors to describe how bad things are, you’d think the team had started 2-7 or so like the Mavs. But instead, they’ve been north of .500 for most of the season. What gives?

And let’s not forget Amare Stoudamire’s sulking. Before the season began, I picked the Suns as my dark horse, because I thought Amare was due for a break-out year. He finally has his legs most of the way back from microfracture surgery, and he has Shaq to take off most of the pressure. But did anyone else read his column in the back of Slam magazine? He spent most of it remembering Mike D’Antoni like some college kid pining for his ex-girlfriend who went to study in Europe. Not one good word for Coach Porter in the whole thing–just a lot of “well, I’ll have to adjust to his system.” Come on, Terry Porter’s one of the NBA good guys–why is Amare moping like a wide receiver who isn’t getting enough touches?

And finally, we have Shaq. Terry Porter was wisely pushing the Suns to establish Shaq early on in games. This makes a lot of sense; establish Shaq in the low post early in the game, when he’s fresh. After he wears out teams in the half-court, spend the second-half pushing the ball. It’s just like NFL teams that run early to set up play-action later in the game. I love this strategy! It should work! But oddly, the Suns were turning the ball early at a huge rate while trying to do so (something like 9.7 turnovers in the first half, 6.8 in the second half, according to Henry Abbott of What’s the use of getting the ball to your “big back” if there’s just going to be fumbles and turnovers?

Ok, I’m getting carried away with my football analogy, ha. But it fits, don’t you think? Steve Nash and Amare Stoudamire as the system QB and his talented but lazy wide receiver? (Defense? what’s that?). Shaq as the bruising Jerome Bettis-type back? Anyway, the question is, is Jason Richardson part of the solution or problem? Here’s another guy who wants the ball a lot; can he make this work in Phoenix? I say yes, it should work; Jason is hungry to win and he probably welcomes a move back to the Western Conference. But I thought Porter’s strategy for the Suns should work…and so far it seems like his stars are themselves sabotaging the strategy before it has a chance. It’s only been one-fourth of the season, and yet Steve and Amare appear determined to mourn the demise of the 7-seconds-or-less offense for 7 months or more!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Your Phoenix "Football" Suns

I love my analogies, and I think I finally figured out what the trouble is in Phoenix. Click the video to see just how badly I mix my basketball and football analogies.

I'm just starting out with video*, so I appreciate your feedback.

*Of course, I don't count my various starring roles in childhood home videos in the role of "Annoying kid with overbite", "Baby who won't shut up", and "Obnoxious sullen teenager", ha.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lebron James Dunk Collection vs. the Toronto Raptors

Credit for these tasty Youtube treats goes to Hoop Heads North, which provides great NBA coverage from a Canadian perspective. If you like Toronto, you should subscribe to their Raptor-centric Youtube channel, from which these videos are embedded. Good work, guys.

Lebron's ability to steal the ball and get out quickly on the break has always been great, but in these videos from last night's Cavaliers-Raptors game, he takes things to another level.
Two back-to-back LBJ dunks to START the game. Yes, that preceding sentence is correct. Notice how Big Z smartly throws the pass ahead of Lebron to let him catch up to it.

Lebron cuts off the passing lane to Bosh and makes the guards attempting to get the ball look like junior high players. He finishes with a Karl Malone tribute move:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sports Blog Remixes

In the past year a lot of my sports blog friends and enemies have switched blog addresses, or retired for some time only to suddenly begin posting again. There have also been a few interesting new blogs--or at least they are new to me. Here's a partial list:

Fellow Cleveland fan Scott combined with some other Cleveland fans to create a Cleveland sports blog powerhouse at ; read this if you like any Cleveland teams. I'm still waiting for the WFNY tailgating event, though.

Previous interview subject This Suit is Not Black is back at the AOL Fanhouse making videos again. Her fellow Fanhouse Minute alumnus Alana G is also posting at her own site. I, of course, am busily trying to steal video-making secrets from both--they make it look so easy! is once again open for business, as Bruce brings the Pain(e) (groan, I know, I know) on a semi-weekly basis with Colts football analysis. He knows his football very well, and I, never having played the sport, learn a lot by reading his columns.

The mad scientist/genius behind has finally found his true passion: baked potatoes. When not madly shilling for the powerful Idaho spud lobby, he takes some time to talk about airplanes, Jennifer Spano, and Blackberry. Check it out.

Claude Johnson is still giving thoughtful, clever analysis over at The Black Fives Blog. Check out some of the merchandise he has for sale; there's a discount during the holiday season! He's also started a spin-off site dedicated to Obama's love of basketball at . I think the cleverness of this idea is off the charts. Once there's a big story on Obama playing basketball, or Obama is seen shooting hoops at the White House, Google searches will lead people to the page.

By the way, one of the big secrets of blogging is writing an article about a hot topic before it becomes hot. This site's hits are often fueled by an old article I wrote about Amy K Nelson of No one else has written much about her, so each time she appears on ESPN, my site views spike. So think about it; what topic is still out there, unclaimed, that you could take and own?

Oh, before I forget, Delinda also has an interesting blog where she follows the charity efforts of athletes. If you like hot male athletes and sizzling acts of generosity, ha, make this a stop on your Internet superhighway travels.

I'm still working on a big Phoenix Suns piece, but I can't quite find the time to do it justice. Hopefully I can run it on Friday, or run another story I'm working on. By the way, if you haven't commented in a while, drop me a line if you're still reading. I always like to stay in touch with my readers and make sure my writing is entertaining or educating someone out there.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Testing the Facebook Invasion of Deadspin, Part 2

Part 1 is here. Deadspin commenters believed the Ali Caps character to be a real person, so they had failed my first test. Rest in peace, MR CAPS. With Ali Caps gone, only John Anderson was left.

Comment 4: John Anderson, on Afternoon Blogdome. I left a rather ordinary comment about David Gerrard's headwear.

Reaction from Commenters:
None. I hesitate to call it a win for the commenters, as it was rather far down the page, and not many commenters visit Afternoon Blogdome. But I'll be sporting and count it as a point.

Comment 5: John Anderson, on Afternoon Blogdome. GhostsoftheSCupcountry left a comment mocking the new Facebook users, so I played the part of a grieved Facebook commenter with a nice passive-aggressive comment:

Reaction from Commenters: Look at those comments after mine. Looks like the Facebook newbie is getting pushed around on his first day on the Deadspin schoolyard.


Comment 6/7: John Anderson on Afternoon Blogdome. I continued the conversation in the thread by jokingly replying "Don't tase me, bro!" in response to the idea of tagging Facebook commenters. I then made a quick correction below that I meant "tag", not "taze", and that I was still trying to learn how to comment. Would the Deadspin commenters try to now drive my inept Facebook self out?

Reaction from Commenters:

It appears that old-school Deadspin and Facebook newbies can make peace after all! Some of the same people who were most irritated by Ali Caps were willing to help out a slightly confused Facebook user. I concede.


Thus ends my little test of Deadspin. I think the new Facebook infiltration will actually work just fine as long as everyone just takes a deep breath and avoids obvious trolls like MR CAPS. Thanks to all the Deadspin commenters who were unwittingly a part of the prank. Seriously, the Deadspin commenter base has some very funny, smart people in it, and I hope it remains that way for years to come.

Testing the Facebook Invasion of Deadspin

After the announcement that Facebook users would be allowed to comment on Deadspin, many Deadspin users reacted in horror. How dare the hoi polloi mix with Deadspin commenters! After all, won't every single person on the Internet rush to be a part of Deadspin if given the opportunity?! I hate to break it to them, but the answer is "no". After about two weeks of fun, Deadspin will return to normal, and it will actually help get some new talent into the comment section after some weeding-out. I'm in favor of the move. Still, when confronted with so much free paranoia, I had to investigate further.

As you could guess, I couldn't resist such a golden opportunity to see just how angrily Deadspinners would react to the unwashed Facebook masses in their midst. So I created two Facebook accounts. The first was "John Anderson", a relatively normal Facebook user who would make relatively funny comments. I wondered if the Deadspin commenters would put up with even a halfway decent commenter from Facebook such as John Anderson. For the record, here's the profile pic I used (not sure if this could be seen on Deadspin or not). Ah, college kids.

The second was "Ali Caps", a, um, not so normal Facebook user. As regular readers of this blog know (wait, do I have those?), MR CAPS is a returning character on this blog (see past posts here) that types smack in ALL CAPS and refers to himself in the third person ala Rickey Henderson. As you can guess, hardly any commenter on the Internet is both that megalomaniac and dumb (to use all caps) at the same time. And you can also tell it's a joke because of the name itself (Ali Caps = ALL CAPS). Would the Deadspin commenters be subtle enough to detect the obvious bait from Ali Caps, or would they take his writings seriously? Here's his photo:

Comment #1, John Anderson, on the High School Football story about cheerleaders passing along cellphone pics. It's a relatively funny, slightly lewd comment--perfect for Deadspin.

Reaction from commenters: Confusion. Hockey Mountain makes a good Deadspin in-joke about Fred Hickman, but if I just got to Deadspin from Facebook, the humor is wasted, right? Others thought I was trying to make a Miss South Carolina joke. Still, overall the reaction was fair. It's hard to react to someone if you don't know their joke style.


Comment 2: John Anderson, on the Tennessee Titans story. Comment on Kid Canada's comment about there being too much Tennessee content.

Reaction from commenters:

Ah, the sweet smell of commenter paranoia...smells like victory!


Comment #3: ALI CAPS, on the post about Bill Stewart's press conference. I left an intentionally sarcastic comment that Bill Stewart made me want to move to West Virginia, like so:

Reaction from commenters: Ten frustrated and irritated replies. Highlights:
"I think I'm beginning to understand why Iracane quit."
"WV has more crackers than a NABISCO factory."
"Mr Hafner is not amazed that Mr Caps' commenting ability has been disabled."


Reaction from Pete, Deadspin Combudsman:
My commenting was disabled in about 10 minutes. However, my ability to update my status was not disabled. So I posted this gem:
I followed up with the following e-mail to Pete (an approximation):

Sadly, Pete has yet to fall for this by returning my e-mail. I sent the following follow-up e-mail to him:


Sincerely, MR All CAPS"

The bait is well-placed; surely Pete can't resist crushing MR CAPS' ambitions of blog commenting nirvana via e-mail, right? I'll be happy to publish it if he does fall for it, but for now, I admit defeat.

UPDATE: But wait! Later on in the same post, Combudsman Pete couldn't help himself, and dropped an F-Bomb on MR CAPS. Yes! I have salvaged a tie after all.


Part 2 is here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bloggolalia: Who are the Top 3 Sports Blog Commenters?

I've always hammered away at how comments make such a big difference for blogs. They increase the amount of time people spend at your site, and also can rescue a poor post. How many of you have ever skipped/skimmed a post on a sports blog and just went straight to the comments because that was more interesting? I have.

With that in mind, it seems like many previous commenting stars comment a lot less, because they eventually went on to start their own blogs. Given the loss in talent, who are the top commenters in sports blogland today? You can nominate someone who comments mainly at one or two sites, or you can nominate someone for all-around excellence. Nominate them for humor, nominate them for great analysis, or nominate them for general all-around craziness. Who's on your list? Is it Spencer096? Hef? Gourmet Spud? Big Man? Unsilent Majority? Sports-Pun? Camp Tiger Claw? Cobra? Suss? WWTSM? Big Daddy Drew? Sportsgal116? Temple 3? All right, enough of the question marks, but let me know.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Terry Porter's Attempt to Rescue the Sinking Suns

Before I start talking about the Suns, a little news about my favorite NBA team, the Cavaliers. One of the benefits of Thanksgiving break was some free time to watch the Cleveland Cavaliers, especially the Cavs-Warriors game. Mo Williams and Delonte West are making a huge difference to the Cavs. Having extra ball-handlers and shooters frees up Lebron in ways that Eric Snow and Larry Hughes never could. I was also impressed by their unselfishness. When reputed gunners like Wally and Mo are willing to give up nearly open 3's just to pass to Lebron and Danny, respectively, for completely open 3's, something different is going on!

Your random photo accompaniment for today: Shaq figurines/cut-outs and the people who pose with them. Yes, there's a joke about Shaq looking a little stiff nowadays in there somewhere...and yes, even Shaq's cut-out gets more ladies than sports bloggers do, ha.
soooo me and matt went into the nba store in nyc and there was a lifesize bobble head of shaq

But I doubt you came here to be drenched with my Cavs-centric drool. In the last five games, the Warriors have scored 100, 111, 97, 125, and 129 points. Those numbers resemble the glory days of the Phoenix Suns, and sound great...except that the Warriors have gone 0-5 during that time span. It was a little sad to see the Warriors players against the Cavs. It was one dribble and shoot, one dribble and shoot, over and over again. Their running game was completely shut down, and so they were unable to execute in the half-court.


Watching the game convinced me that Terry Porter is doing the right thing to go away from the running game in Phoenix. Steve Nash and Amare Stoudamire have been complaining and sighing in the press about the demise of the 7 seconds or less offense. But they are wrong, and Terry Porter is right.

me and shaq

The Suns lack the athletes to run the 7-second-or-less offense anymore. They used to have clear athletic advantages at most positions (Amare Stoudamire, Shawn Marion, Joe Johnson, even Steve Nash is more athletic than you think) over the average NBA team. Those players could run and play major minutes without getting tired. But now, Steve Nash, Grant Hill, and Shaq are old, and the bench is young. The running game isn't a good fit for what this team does best. The team instead has to rely on its new advantage: the big-man pairing of Shaq and Amare.

me givin shaq some love

Shaq has had a disturbing tendency to drift early in the season. But with Terry Porter making him more of a focus offensively, Shaq has been forced to get in shape quickly. He's even doing yoga, of all things. An unhappy Shaq can be a destructive force on any team--just ask the Lakers and Heat. By getting Shaq on board early, Terry Porter is giving himself a better chance at success.

Shaq aint got nothin on me

Plus, the Suns will need Shaq's post-up game in the playoffs. The running game is less successful in the playoffs, when no team is coming to Phoenix on the second night of a back-to-back, and teams can focus their preparation on Phoenix. Oh, the Suns should still run when they can. But as I said above, their athletes no longer have the advantage over other teams as they once did.

Me, Shaq, Amanda, and Meredith

I believe that Coach Porter will return to the running game more in the coming months. This will satisfy Steve and Amare and make it seem like he's an open-minded coach. But by forcing the Suns to include Shaq in the offense early, he's also made sure that he'll have a motivated, alert Shaq for the whole season. And come play-off time, when the Suns need to get baskets in the half-court, they can go to Shaq in the post. Or, if the Suns are really lucky, Robin Lopez will rapidly improve, leading to the Suns being able to run when Robin is in the game and then going more to a half-court offense when Shaq is in the game. That would be a difficult team to stop. Although I have no idea if Robin will become a decent NBA player, the pairing of Amare and Robin, with Robin playing the hard-working Robin to Amare's high-scoring Batman (sorry, couldn't resist), has a lot of potential.

yao shaq me

However, I have to wonder if Terry Porter will have enough time to work his excellent plan of getting the young guys decent playing time and establishing Shaq. Come play-off time, those moves will pay off. But right now, Phoenix is coming off home losses to Miami and New Jersey. The perimeter players and Amare will complain. Shaq's passing will continue to need improvement, and Amare will struggle in the high post. I'm concerned that Terry Porter will be fired before he gets a chance to make his plan work. Is Steve Kerr willing to stand behind his choice? We'll see in the next two months.

me and shaq

By the way, the Suns are merely my team of choice to follow in the 2008-2009 season. For regular Suns content, see the following:
Bright Side of the Sun
Ben's Suns Blog

The Shaq figure pictures that didn't quite make the post.
Me and Shaq

Me and shaq

me and naim in front of shaq

michelle shaq and me

me with shaq


me and shaq


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

NBA Videocast: Who can Beat Boston or Los Angeles?

I taped this two weeks ago. It's not that great, but since it's the day before vacation and your standards for content are low, I'll re-post it here. Hey, at least my shirt is kind of cool. More videos like this (ok, better than this) to come. Let me know what you think by e-mail or comment.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shaq and Amare take on Oden, Shaq talks about Kobe

As most of you know, I'm a Cavs fan, but I always like to follow a team in the other conference. The Phoenix Suns are my adopted Western Conference team this year. Thus, you'll be seeing a fair amount of posts about them. With characters like Shaq, Amare, Nash, and Grant Hill, I think they'll stay an interesting team on and off the court.

First, check out this video of Greg Oden going up against Shaquille O'Neal and Amare Stoudamire. Much thanks to tommyhtc for putting this up on Youtube. Greg shows some occasional flashes of skill, but he obviously still has work to do. (Check out Shaq's nice moves toward the end of the video--Shaq's looking light on his feet this year).

Second, check out Shaq and Steve Nash being interviewed before the Suns game. Shaq makes an interesting choice of fingers to wipe off his face around 1:08. Also, hear Shaq claim that he and Kobe just like to keep the media guessing about their relationship (around 2:30). The one thing that bothers me about Steve Nash (around 5:00) is how tired he already looks. It's only November, Steve!

I probably won't be back posting until after Thanksgiving break. Hope you all have a good break, and don't forget, even in this messed-up economy, most of us have a lot to be thankful for.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Lebron James 2010 Story Turns 2008.

Many of you have already seen the Deadspin story on Adrian Wojnarowski and Amar's argument. But I thought it was only fair to add some details that Deadspin wasn't able to cover. In the interests of full disclosure, yes, I am a Cavs fan, and yes, I have criticized Adrian before for his lack of integrity on covering the Lebron story. But no, I don't approve of the strong language Amar used, either.

First, as to the matter of Adrian's not being able to find Amar's e-mail address. I wanted to contact Amar this summer to ask him some questions about the Cavs. It's the first and last time I've talked to him. I was able to find his e-mail address via Google in 5 minutes. Apparently that makes me a better reporter than Adrian Wojnarowski! Seriously, Adrian gets paid to do reporting, and he can't find an e-mail address? The call to Amar's number was clearly meant to intimidate Amar right back. Did Adrian have a right to fight fire with fire? Sure. But don't pretend Adrian "couldn't find" Amar's e-mail address.

Second, Adrian has tried to twist every NBA trade story to be about Lebron. Please look at Adrian's archive. Since the start of the NBA season, he has written 13 NBA stories. Remember, Adrian's supposed to be a national columnist for Yahoo!, covering the NBA as a whole. How many of his stories do you think mention Lebron James leaving the Cavs? 5. That means that nearly 40% of Adrian Wojnarowski's stories on the NBA are devoted to suggesting that Lebron might leave the Cavaliers! No bias there, right? After losing his storyline that Lebron would surely go to the Nets, he now is plugging in any team with cap room as a possible destination for Lebron.

Now, I do believe the Knicks might be competitive for Lebron James. But Peter King had some good things to say about the future of the NBA in his column today:

"a. If I read one more story about where LeBron James might play two years from now, I'm going to puke.

b. Really: In what other sport are the next two seasons rendered totally meaningless for a cornerstone-of-the-league franchise like the New York Knickerbockers?"

And later:
"What if LeBron James rips up his knee before then? What if Dwyane Wade, another prospective free-agent who turns 29 in the 2010-11 season, continues to have knee trouble? Here's my question for the NBA: Do you mean to tell me it's good for your game that a team is going to play the next 164 games with an eye not on the present, but on the future? And what about the Cavaliers? Why would their fans show any loyalty to James as he drops all these hints about playing out the string in Cleveland? It's an ugly, stupid, fan-abusing situation. Fans should rebel, not kneel and bow to Knick management and say, "Oh, we are not worthy!''"

If things are so ugly in 2008, what will the atmosphere be like in 2010? Please, just let me enjoy two more years of Lebron in peace, ok? After that, if he wants to leave, I am ok with that. He's a grown man, and I thank him for so many great years. But I've had enough with the biased coverage from so many columnists just looking to stir up their home fans. Again, I don't condone Amar's words, but I hope this post helped you understand why some of us Cleveland fans are angry at the Lebron 2010 coverage.

EDIT TO ORIGINAL at 3:15 EST: Just to make my views absolutely clear, physical threats against sports writers are always wrong. I think Amar went too far in that area. Perhaps he meant to joke, but it certainly didn't come across that way in the original post. END EDIT.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Love is a Game: Help, I'm Losing to a Girl!

This is the first in an occasional series about the intersection of love and sports.

I once had a second date at a basketball court. She made the mistake of mentioning her previous basketball career to me, and thus somehow we decided that our second meeting should involve some hoops. She was my height (about six feet tall), but lighter than I am.

We started by playing some shooting games like Around the World, and I lost pretty badly. I wasn't too worried about that, though. I've never been that great of a jump shooter. Then...I asked her if she wanted to play a game of 1-1. She agreed, but said she was kind of tired, so I agreed to play only to 7 by 1's and 2's.
I started the game by giving her a fair amount of room, and she took and nailed a jump shot. 1-0.

I missed a jump shot, and after some length of time she hit another jump shot over my sort of outstretched arms. It was lazy defense. No big deal, though--I knew already she could shoot jump shots. 2-0.

I somehow blew a lay-up. Knowing she could shoot outside jumpers, I forced her to dribble inside...and she made a lay-up. 3-0!

Now at this point, I was getting a little nervous. The game was only to 7, after all. So I pressed a little, missed another jump shot. She got the ball, and I guarded her a little harder than before, forcing her to make an adjustment to her game. She then executes a mini-fadeaway jump shot. Swish!

It's 4-0, and I am in huge trouble. I had no idea she had a fadeaway in her arsenal! I can block that move, but it'll be harder because she's my height. Playing lazy defense will no longer be good enough.

Here's the deal. If this was a skinny but talented guy my height, there would be no question what strategy I would use. I would body him up when I was on defense, attack his dribble, and jump as high and as close to him as I could to block those jumpers. On offense, I would take every shot to the lane, and try to score off put-backs even if the initial post-up would fail. But this was a girl who wasn't talking trash and who I was trying to earn another date with. Plus, she deserves to win this game, and will win unless I start playing physical and blocking her jump shots.

So what would you do? What's more important, the game or the girl? And by the way, it's even more complicated because some girls would love it if the game got more physical. Other girls would hate a more physical game and think that it was a creepy jerk move by a win-at-all-costs malcontent. At this point, I had only met her once before, and have no idea which way she would react.

I'll post what I decided in the comments after I get your opinions on what I should have done. And yes, this does somewhat parallel That 70's Show episode where Donna keeps beating Eric in basketball.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Bias is Back

Hello everyone. I've decided to resume posting here. I enjoyed my full-time experience at Sports on My Mind. But I realized that I really didn't have the time anymore to do the lengthy, content-rich articles that Sports On My Mind is known for. So I'll still be posting over there on occasion when I have longer articles, but is my regular blog for now.

That said, I'm excited to be back! In the next few weeks, I'll be importing some of my articles over from SOMM that I previously neglected to cross-post. You'll also be seeing more video and audio on here than before. Hopefully the two or three of you who are still subscribed will return, and we can have our usual fun talking about the weird and wonderful world of sports. Happy blog-reading, MCBias.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Blog Update: Leitch vs. Bissinger

Hi folks. As you may guess, I had some passionate opinions on the Bissinger-Leitch dispute this week. You can tell by the titles that I was not so sure that bloggers won this round as some of my blogging colleagues were:
Will Leitch, Bob Costas, and the Blog Revolution that Never Was

A Template for Blogger-Media Interactions, Plus Bissinger-Leitch Links

I'm a little saddened for MSM and blogs alike after that dispute. Let's just say that it's a good thing for us blogs that Buzz's anger obscured some of his more relevant points. Also, there's little doubt in my mind that Bob Costas set up Will to be skewered on that panel.

I've also been posting faithfully about the NBA play-offs with daily Q & A sessions. Feel free to chime in in the comments; I'd love to see more of you visiting the comment section at SOMM. To see a full list of my NBA posts, please follow along with my category on Sports on My Mind: will let you see all my past writings. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More New Posts

I want to ask all my long-time readers to read this piece I wrote: I finally came clean with why I write the way I do. Read Why I Write, and maybe now you'll understand why I was willing to give so much time to obscure athletes and sports, or why I quietly spent so much time responding to the writings of others and pushing the bloggosphere in various directions.

To see a full list of my NBA posts, please follow along with my category on Sports on My Mind: will let you see all my past writings. There's a special video treat there as well that long-time readers may enjoy (or be horrified by, ha). Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Notification of New Blog Posts

Until the end of the month, I will be posting links I write from here so that my readers know where I have gone. After that, there will be no new posts on this blog. I would ask that you keep your subscription to this blog, because if the new blog doesn't work out, we'll be returning to our separate blogs. However, you can feel free to take down any Moderately Cerebral Bias links and replace them with my new home.

I posted the following articles this week at SOMM, and will be covering the Cavs-Wizards and Spurs-Suns series there:
BlogTalk: Let On-line Bygones be Bygones
NBA Play-off Preview: Spurs (3) vs Suns (6)
NBA Play-off Preview: Cleveland (4) vs. Washington (5)

In conclusion, I would like to thank all of you who have read, commented, or e-mailed about the site. I don't blog for my ego or reputation. I'm not here to get famous or get a job in journalism; in fact, I want to avoid either fate. I blog because I want to connect with intelligent, funny sports fans and share different perspectives with them. For the most part, I have found such fans in my comment section. Thank you so much, and I hope that you can also support my on-line move.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

MCBias Site Update

Ok, enough fake drama, because the real news is dramatic enough. I have moved to Sports on My Mind. For the last four months, I've been quietly exploring blog partnerships with many of my favorite sports bloggers. I believe that the time when a solo blogger could make a difference is passing, if it isn't already gone. Although my traffic in the last two months has been higher than ever before, I also realized that the blogger environment was changing. Smaller bloggers were being snapped up by the big sites, or quitting the game altogether. What blog sites need are several writers, united around a common theme and keeping a site updated with content. And after weeks of searching, I suddenly was offered a great opportunity to partner with some of the most intelligent and unique sports bloggers I know.

I'm excited to be joining D-Wil (formerly of, Modi (formerly of, and StopMikeLupica (formerly of on the new site. We are different in racial heritage, in beliefs, in sports preferences, and in writing style. But we are united by the value we place on finding the hidden stories and getting the big story right, even (or should I say especially?) if it doesn't fit mainstream biases.

I'm trying not to make this announcement sound as if I am insulting other media or bragging; that's just disrespectful. Let me just say that if you want a different perspective on the big sports stories of the day, a perspective that is willing to challenge ordinary thinking and so-called common sense, you will find it on this site. Come with an open mind and read us all at Sports on My Mind. I'll be posting temporary links to my material there for the next few weeks before making my move there permanent. I hope you will join me there!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

MCBias is on the Move

Some of you may remember my announcement in March that I would have some site news soon about moving to another blog. That time is now. I know my readership is low this time of the week, so I'll make the big announcement and tell you all the details on Thursday. Until then, feel free to scour the Internet and see if you can find my next blogging home! No, I won't tell you, go find it, it's more fun that way.

Monday, April 14, 2008

NBA Mondays: Ron Artest the Businessman...and Singer?

I think Ron Artest is doing his best to learn how to make a better man of himself. And even though he's had some hard times due to ignorance when Ron first came in the league, I think that 5 years down the road we'll be talking about Artest with a lot more respect than he gets now.
For example, read this article in the Wall Street Journal about how Ron Artest is managing his entourage. I credit The Big Lead for bringing this to my attention. Here are some excerpts:

"There are so many people that have figured out how to get money from athletes legally that when you have friends that you think might be capable of doing something, your first instinct is to give them a shot," says Mr. Artest, 28, who taught himself to do his own taxes and accounting several years ago using Quicken, after a series of bad experiences with professionals. (His business-management agency now handles his accounting.)

Ron is teaching himself computer software, which shows some motivation. This may explain why he wanted to work at Circuit City--he just likes technology a lot, I think. And later...
Mr. Artest says he doesn't regret the opportunities he was able to give his friends. However, he adds, he did learn one lesson: "I wasn't running it as a business, as it should have been run."
Ron is trying to make himself into a businessman in the right way. I commend him for it, and hope that fans won't forever hold that incident in Detroit against him. But on the other hand, I like the slightly crazy side of Ron too. Here is a video that I don't believe any major sports blog has linked to yet, from Ron's time with the Pacers. Ron pulls down Paul Pierce's shorts...and then sings an apology to Paul afterward!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Your (Not-so?) Lovable Los Angeles Lakers

I have a confession to make. I was (deep breath) a Laker hater. While others ooo'ed and ahh'ed over the three-peat a few years ago, I was busily hoping for someone to grab Rick Fox's oiled mane and slam him to the ground, or irritatingly quoting Robert Horry's shockingly low regular season averages and complaining that the Lakers got all the breaks. However, I have decided to reform and love this current edition of (bad cultural reference alert!) the Jackson Five. Haha! But seriously folks, are they not...


Again?! Look, there's nothing insane about me giving this batch of Lakers a chance! The only time I am insane is when I write you into my posts. Please see yourself out.


It wasn't for Internet mating! Besides, there's nothing wrong with what two consenting Ethernet cables do in the privacy of their packaging.


Ok, ok, that was pretty corny. Let me leave you speechless with my brilliant reasons why the Lakers roster is worth loving. First, you can't talk about the Lakers without mentioning Kobe Bryant. The man has overcome personal adversity and the criticism of an unusually vocal cast of haters to be an MVP candidate and lead the Lakers to compete for the Western Conference. I find his story to be uniquely American as he has recovered from his fall from grace. It's almost like the Prodigal Son or something.


Oh come on, Kobe rape jokes are so tired! I admit that what happened in that Colorado hotel room was possibly a crime. But I also think his crime was more the result of her aggression in tracking him down and wanting to spend time with him rather than some sort of cold-blooded rape plans on his part. And are we going to bring that case up for the rest of his life?


Thanks for making me nauseous. Let's move on, ok? I know you won't have anything bad to say about Pau Gasol. The kind bearded giant is a class act whose arrival has fueled the Lakers surge to the top of the conference.


The Grizzlies are a mess. Sometimes divorce is necessary for the sake of the kids, you know?


We're over our alloted quota of rape jokes for the day, which is ZERO. Moving on, what about Lamar Odom? He's a nice guy whose daughter died, and I love the quirkiness of his left-handed offensive game.


I cannot. But your argument is that Lamar is bad because Lamar is boring? If that's the best you can do, I'm going to win this case that the Lakers are lovable yet. I still haven't mentioned Derek Fisher yet, otherwise known as my hole card. How can you not love this hard-working Christian veteran player?


Unfounded paranoia coupled with irrational hatred is no way to go through life. I grant you that it's surprising how little people are talking about the point guard match-ups in the play-offs. In the last games the Lakers played against each team, Paul had 27 pts and 17 assists, and Deron went 26 and 12.

But let's talk about that Laker bench. Quite a few decent guys on that bench with heartwarming stories. You have NBA tradition with Luke Walton and Cody Karl, European sharp-shooters in Sasha and Vladimir, and the heart-warming story of Ronny Turiaf's struggles with heart problems. What's not to love?



I don't have lady parts either, so I could care less about the looks of the bench. All right, enough about the players. Let's talk about Phil Jackson. He has overcome hip surgery and...wait, what's happening? I feel a warm feeling in the pit of my stomach! My palms are getting sweaty! I can't feel my face! What is it? I have had this feeling before, but I can't remember why it happens.


No, it''s my Lakers hatred! It's back! Phil Jackson is an aging hippie who discarded his parents' Christianity for some vague Zen Buddhist teachings that justified his drug use! Despite fawning specials on his coolness during half-time, the only thing "hip" about Phil Jackson was recently replaced via surgery! Rather than take time off and re-unite with his second wife, he rushed to take the Laker job and hook up with the owner's daughter! He intentionally manipulated Kobe and the public perception of Kobe just so he could stay on Shaq's good side! He plays mind games with everyone, even beating up on the hard-working Horace Grant just so that the team would rally around Horace! Being some sort of psycho-babble guru in the NBA is like being the smartest student in a special ed class--who is his competition anyway? If it were not for having so many Hall-of-Famers on his team, he would not have won all those rings! WOO!!!


Phew, that was close. I almost made it through the entire Lakers roster, too. It's hard to hate the Laker players, but Phil Jackson is my Anti-Love. Ready for the NBA play-offs, MR CAPS?


Zero, just like real life, and it'll be you sending the desperate messages. Good luck with that.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bloggolalia: Vote for me in Lozo's Tournament!

I need your vote in Lozo's "The Suckiest Sports Blog that Ever Sucked" tournament, going on all day today. I am matched up against a blog that covers minor league baseball. Can you believe it--a blog with a focus? A blog that is NOT a sloppily put-together casserole of NBA coverage, female athletes, Christian bias, and Youtube videos that are neither funny nor sexy? It's as if I'm intentionally covering all the subjects that do NOT result in a sports blog. ( I? Don't think that a few of my topic choices are not deliberate rebellions against mainstream bias...)Don't allow me to continue in this irrational behavior! Vote for me here! I expect to get at least into the round of 16, people!

I dislike being an apologist for Lozo, because I certainly disagree with him on other matters. But people who are criticizing him for holding this tournament or claiming this is a publicity stunt--get a life. Sure, several of Lozo's posts have been publicity stunts in the past (cough lamefakeWillFarrellinterview cough). But this post does performs a service of sorts. Some blogs have gotten fat and lazy, and refuse to be creative anymore. This tournament helps call some of those blogs out for cheating their readers. How can you be against blog accountability to their readers? You can talk all you want about how blogs are not accountable to the media, to athletes, etc., and I'll respect that to some extent. But if you try to convince me that blogs have no responsibility to their readers, I will fight you on that. So go enjoy the tournament, and vote for those lazy blogs!

Ok, that's my last post on the tournament until maybe the Sweet 16, promise. I think. Is it obvious by now that I don't care that much about college basketball, the Masters, or baseball?

Monday, April 7, 2008

NBA Mondays: NCAA Version

I was prepared to take Tyler Hansbrough and Kevin Love seriously as NBA prospects if they took their teams to the Final Four. Remember, neither Gonzaga's Adam nor Duke's JJ was able to do so during their POY seasons. But I think the NBA will still have to wait for its Blue Collar Hero. Who is the Blue Collar Hero? He is usually a white American, looks human enough that the average fan can identify with him, but still has a certain amount of expertise on the basketball court. Let's face it; many fans buy tickets not only to enjoy the artistry of the game, but to see someone succeed who looks and seems a lot like them. #1 on the Blue Collar Hero list is, of course, Larry Bird, but other Blue Collar Heroes have included John Stockton and Tom Chambers.

So what candidates does the NBA have for this vital position? Kirk Hinrich? Steve Nash, if everyone will forget he's Canadian? Chris Kaman, if one looks past the haircut? White Americans have never had fewer reasons to identify with the league. I'd like to pretend this doesn't matter to anyone, but I am sure it does.

Your Random NBA photos are of Eddy Curry.
Yeah So I Met the Knicks

Secondly, Craig Holcomb, a white former recruiter for Iona, was allegedly fired for having a black wife. I am usually suspicious about the veracity of such stories. However, this old NY Post article seems to indicate that Craig performed well at his position:

It started after the 2004 season when the administration, in a power struggle with Ruland, forced out three assistant coaches, including Craig Holcomb, an established recruiter. Iona already had Burtt and Soliver, so an upheaval of the coaching staff was like a spot of rust on the base of a support beam - easy to overlook.

"Craig was really plugged into the AAU programs," said one source. "Losing him set them back at least one season, probably two."

eddie curry!
Unfortunately, it does seem as if Craig was unjustly fired after all. I hope Iona has the decency to settle this now and give him the money he deserves, instead of going to trial and further embarrassing themselves. We shall see...
Me and Christine with Eddy Curry (#34)...he's got some watch!
Oh, and finally, go to this interview with George Clooney, in which he breaks down the baller skills of Jim from the Office and Tom Cruise. George Clooney was a former high school basketball center on a very bad team. On a talk show, George admitted that they were terrible and played many homecoming basketball games.
Us with Eddie Curry

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Bloggolalia: Blog Burnout

I can't help but notice how many of my fellow bloggers (myself included) are starting to feel a little burned-out. Blogging by its very nature can be a solitary, lonely enterprise. One writes stories for people to read, but does not actually communicate with those people except through comments or maybe e-mail.

For example, look at how AJ Daulerio's arrival at Deadspin has re-invigorated Will and Rick. Deadspin defintely was seeming burned out to me for the last three months. Part of it was Will's book tour, but Will and Rick seemed genuinely tired. They wouldn't say so themselves, but I think now that AJ is on board, they realize just how thin they were stretched before he arrived. However, with AJ around, Will's writing had extra bite to it all week long. He even said in the last post on Friday "It's nice having Daulerio around, isn't it?" Since Will can be a little understated, I'm pretty sure what he really meant was "AJ, IF I HAD TO SPEND ANOTHER MOMENT TALKING TO MYSELF ON THIS BLOG, BLOOD WOULD BE SHED" haha.

Or, take the writings of Lozo. In-between body part jokes and odes to Sarah Chalke, he pointed out that anger fuels blogging, and that he's running a little low. See the following:

What was I saying? Oh yeah. What's up with me? I think I might be too happy to blog on a consistent basis these days. Let's face it -- my power comes from my anger. I've said it once and I'll say it a million times -- it's always more interesting to read a blog by someone who is complaining about not getting laid than it is about a guy who is getting laid, whether he's constantly talking about or not...
But the point of that analogy is the happier you get in real life (apparently being in a relationship makes people happy) the less fun your blog gets. This problem affects approximately .5 percent of the population. I am in that sliver. So what's a boy to do?

Lozo tried to fix his anger shortage by starting a "Suckiest Sports Blog that ever Sucked" tournament. I'm a 12-seed (upon request), and to say I'm excited is an understatement. Let the hating, err, healing begin! I definitely have a love-hate relationship with the best blogs out there. Please, go vote on Lozo's blog all week long. I expect to at least pull the 5-12 upset, people! Don't you realize that this blog is about nothing but the NBA, female athletes, Christian stuff, and Youtube videos? It's as if I have deliberately picked the least popular options to blog about. I'm a shoo-in for the Sweet 16! haha.

So what's the point of this post? I think that as bloggers, we need to be aware of burnout. Slow down your posting when you feel burn-out coming on, or post about something fun and/or new. (Expect fewer posts from me in the next month, along those lines). Talk to more people/more bloggers when you feel burn-out coming on, so you don't feel quite so isolated and solitary. That's not much, but it's a start. Do you all have other ideas?

Oh, and Final Four picks: North Carolia vs. Memphis in the last game, Memphis wins it all. I know Memphis plays in a weak conference--but they have one loss and have received little respect all year long. I think that might be enough, especially since Roy Williams will be exhausted after beating Kansas. Don't think that won't affect his coaching performance in the next game.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Artist of the Week: Emma Russack

There are a lot of talented singers and instrumentalists (if that's the right word) on Youtube. This month I will try to feature them as much as possible. First up is the Australian, Emma Russack. Subscribe to her YouTube channel here. I like that she plays the guitar and sings at the same time, and she has a smoky? Bluesy? whatever you want to call it voice.

Here she is singing "Swimming", a song she wrote herself; the song has nearly 1,000,000 views.

Here she sings "Party at the Lonestar", a song she wrote herself.

In this video, she wears blue while covering Neil Young's "My, my, hey, hey (Out of the Blue"

Finally, here's a live performance that is poorly filmed, but it fits with the song, which is titled "Sweet Smog Children"

Monday, March 31, 2008

NBA Mondays: Coaching Comparison of Eastern and Western Conferences

I was just thinking about this on my way into work this morning. Do you realize who coaches the top four teams in the East this season?
1. Doc Rivers. Career Highlight: Losing in the first round of the play-offs, done four times.
2. Flip Saunders. Career Highlight: Losing in the first round of the play-offs seven years in a row, and then losing the conference finals series for his last three play-offs tries. Cheer up Detroit fans! Only four more lost conference finals to go!
3. Stan Van Gundy. Career Highlight: Lost in second round his first year, then lost in conference finals in his second year.
4. Mike Brown. Career Highlight: Lost in second round his first year, then lost in the NBA Finals in his second year.

So we have one NBA Finals appearance between all four coaches...and that belongs to the most inexperienced, Mike Brown. We have two younger coaches who might be future coaching gurus in Stan and Mike. However, usually future coaching gurus don't allow themselves to get run out of town the year the team wins the championship (Stan) or refuse to have any offensive strategy whatsoever (Mike; yeah, I'm a bitter Cavs fan, so?).

Let's compare those coaches to the top four coaches in the Western conference, shall we?
1. Byron Scott. Career Highlight: Two NBA Finals appearances in his first three years.
2. Gregg Poppovich. Career Highlight: Four NBA Championships.
3. Phil Jackson. Career Highlight: Eight NBA Championships.
4. Jerry Sloan. Career Highlight: Two NBA Finals appearances.

I believe this may be the main reason why the West is so much better than the East. The West has all the good coaches! It doesn't get any better when you look at the next four teams for each conference, either. The West trots out Mike D'Antoni, Rick Adelman, George Karl, and Avery Johnson. Those coaches combined have two NBA Finals appearances, or one more than the top four coaches in the East have.

NBA Mondays: The Killer Instinct

First, a preamble before I ramble. I don't like talking about myself on here, because I've noticed a familiar pattern befalls male sports bloggers who talk about their lives. At first, people respond in a favorable manner; that's partly because the sports blogger tells his most interesting stories first. Then, after some period of time, readers start competing with the writer, or they make fun of their quirks (i.e. Will's t-shirts, Matt's skin tone, BDD's weight, etc.). That's ok to a certain extent, but then readers start judging all of the writer's output by his personal anecdotes ("only a man who owns a cat would say that", or some other nonsense). Also, it's hard for a writer to stop writing about themselves once they start, and writers tend to be so oblivious to their personal biases. Besides, do you really want to know that I've watched more than one episode of the Miley and Mandy Show in my life, or that Tavis Smiley may be my favorite late night talk-show host? See? Really, you don't want to know more. Here's all you need to know about me; I am a former high school athlete, I tend to favor the underdog and/or minority because I often perceive myself as one, I'm a Christian, and I'm a fan of most Ohio teams. That outlines my main biases well enough so that you can be properly aware of them. However, I'll talk about myself briefly for this post.

Your NBA player random photos are of Zydrunas Ilguskas this time.
cAVS game 022

A few weeks ago, I was at the gym playing a game of pickup basketball. I was having an unusually good day, having hit 3 of 3 from behind the arc and having nutmeg'ed (sorry, soccer term) two of the other team's players. (The secret is to charge directly at the defender, then push the ball through their legs at the last possible moment and run past them to get the ball). I owed my success to our very good post player, who was drawing double-teams that allowed me to get open. (I also have a theory that my recent weight gain is acting as ballast, ha, allowing me to get better arc on my 3-balls). At the end of the game, I got the ball one last time behind the arc. However, as I prepared to shoot, a little voice said something like "3 of 3 is good enough for today" and I missed the shot! They rebounded my miss, went down and scored, and beat us by 11-9.

Me and Zydrunas

That's what the killer instinct is about to me; the ability to view things in an illogical, unbalanced manner on the court. Whether you are 7 of 8 or 1 of 8, you believe that you will make the next shot, and that you deserve the last call. It's also a state of unnatural focus. I lacked the killer instinct, and thus I was unable to maintain my basketball zone where I could not miss, and started to doubt.

Zydrunas and The Girls

Now, an interesting question when surveying the NBA teams is, which guys have the killer instinct? The fact is, you don't want your role players to have a true killer instinct, else they'll be taking the shot that your star should be taking. On the other hand, to be a role player in the NBA, you must have been a star somewhere. So you probably do have somewhat of a killer instinct.

Another interesting question is how one feels about teammates with killer instincts. There's a mercilessness and lack of grace that is strongly identified with the killer instinct. Look at how Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant would at times mercilessly heckle inferior players, to the point of ruining some talented teammates. Is that bad attitude worth the superior performance? I have to say, from the male athletes I have known, the better the player was, the bigger jerk the player was. Do you put up with the abuse in practice, or challenge them?

Zydrunas Ilgauskas

A final question is, do you really want a chaplain in basketball? I once sat down and tried to investigate for each sport whether you would want religious players or not. (This is highly sacriligious and nonsensical, FYI). I decided that baseball should defintely have chaplains; baseball requires a lot of patience and perseverance, which are definitely religious traits. Even football seems to benefit from religion; the top-down nature of religion meshes well with the top-down nature of football, where many sacrifice without crowds knowing their names. I don't know if I'd want my defenders to be religious, but on the other hand a safety who knows the power of forgiveness is less likely to fret over being burned on a play and thus lose his confidence. But what about basketball? The game is so creative and quick that I don't see a natural connection to religious traits. Could a major star be religious and still keep that killer instinct? After all, much of the killer instinct relies on a certain level of arrogance and confidence that seems mutually exclusive with religion.

Bob and Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Friday, March 28, 2008

Rick will Pawn your Noobs

I love this video for, oh, about 100 million reasons. Just a few: the white hoodies in the beginning that look stolen from a Klansman convention, the grainy vhs highlights of a stranger's wrestling career, the last minute of this video where the crowd erupts, the multiple occasions where Rick lifts people off their feet and slams them hard (2:46 especially), the ref slides and exaggerated motions (watch at :44, oh my!)...oh dear. I don't understand the wrestling culture, but this was fun to watch.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It's Lebron's World, I'm Just Blogging in it

Part I: Lebron James for MVP!
The MVP race is hotly contested this year, and the two frontrunners appear to be Lebron James and Kobe Bryant. However, many Kobe supporters are trying to put forth an argument that because Kobe has been previously overlooked for MVP awards in other years, he should get a "make-up MVP" this year. Are you kidding me? So you are recommending we shaft Lebron just so we can make up for having shafted Kobe? Then who will we shaft when we give Lebron HIS make-up MVP? I've appreciated Kobe's talents for years; just take a look at my past posts about Kobe Bryant. But I cannot support such faulty logic. If that's the best argument that Kobe supporters can make, then I vote for Lebron...although we all know that the real MVP is Chris Paul, right? Name the second-best player on that Hornets team.

Part 2: NYC Bias Rears its Ugly Head
Speaking of faulty logic regarding Lebron James, Adrian Wojnarowski's article in Yahoo! Sports does not deserve the respect it has gotten. The article is about Lebron James and Jay-Z being friends and the chances that Jay-Z will lure Lebron to the Nets. First, this is old news for us Cleveland fans, and frankly, we don't care. Adrian is a writer located in New Jersey, and he's writing about Lebron coming to the New Jersey Nets. Any potential bias there? The best he can do is dig up Sonny Vaccaro to do Sonny's usual job of unabashed enthusiasm about anything and everything. And what does Jay-Z have to say about the issue?

"How amazing would that be? I tell people all the time, he’s my friend first. If Cleveland is building a championship team around him then my advice is to stay there. If it’s the Nets who are building a championship team that could be around him then my advice is to come to the Nets."

That's it?! That's the smoking gun? That statement is so obvious that anyone but the most die-hard Nets or Cavs fan would say the same. I tell you what. If, come 2010 and the expiration of Lebron's contract, the Nets have a better team than the Cavs, I'll pack Lebron's bags out of town myself! He's tried for seven years to bring a championship to Cleveland; I don't think he owes us any more than that, if he can do better elsewhere. Of course, I can talk about packing Lebron's bags knowing full well that New Jersey will be dealing with the rotting corpse of Vincenzo Carter and the overpaid shooting of Richard Jefferson for years to come. Let's just say I'm pretty confident that Lebron will be staying in Cleveland.

Part Three: The Vogue Cover displays Athletism Bias
Finally...the Vogue cover with Lebron and Gisele has been attracting a lot of controversy. I first read an article objecting to the pose from D-Wil, and since then other articles have been published by other writers. I went to my local grocery store and checked out the magazine. Inside, there are two elegant pictures of Lebron and Gisele that I wish had been used instead. (Check out the photo of Gisele and Lebron with the basketballs--I love Gisele's work of sharing in Lebron's game and yet making it her own by using an unconventional pose.)

That said, I think what happened with the cover was not racism, but "Athletism". That is why it's been hard for some of my black journalist friends to make the argument for racism, although a lot of us do feel something is wrong with the cover. Lebron was portrayed as an animal or as a less-than-intelligent being, because he's an athlete. These portrayals unfortunately tend to fall more on the black athlete than athletes of other races.

What's even worse about the cover is how it functions as a "bait-box." If you express outrage about the cover, you just help Vogue sell more magazine copies and people brand you as an extremist (which isn't so bad, by the way; since when has normal accomplished anything?!), because it's not 100% clear that racism has occurred. If you let it go, Vogue gets away with portraying a black athlete as more animal than human. It's so galling! You're in trouble either way as a writer.

Part Quattro: Vindication.
I took a lot of heat for my blog suggesting that Nike was trying to use "god marketing" to promote Lebron James. Please go back and read a recent comment that was posted there. I of course can't guarantee the veracity of "peter", but it's nice to get some confirmation from what seems to be a well-placed source that what I write is trustworthy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Artist of the Week: Jessie Cantrell

Black 20 News is a Youtube feature that lets you know the interesting Internet and technology news of the week. The hostess, Jessie Cantrell, is funny (she also does comedy in her spare time) and attractive without coming across as vapid or insincere. Ok, the part where she says "I love you" at the end of the show is insincere, but nerd-boys with fragile egos eat that stuff up. ("If I close my eyes, I can pretend it's my mother saying that instead of what she usually said, which was 'Put away those Star Wars toys and go outside!'.").

It's worth your time: here are a few clips from the show. Plus, you can always "borrow" news stories from the videos and post them on your blog! Err, wait, I only thought that, not said that. None of you do that, right? Right?!

1. Jessie interviews the Naked Cowboy of New York City fame regarding his lawsuit of the M&M commercial.

2. Jessie hosts last week's show--note the basketball passing commercial.

3. Jessie shows you a site (watch middle of video) that allows you to view blocked web-sites at work and elsewhere. Of course, Moderately Cerebral Bias is so virtuous that it would never be blocked...what do you mean, it's not blocked because no one cares?! (fake cry).

4. There's a running joke on the show about Jessie torturing her interns. Here she is killing them. Mmmm, hot, bullet-driven, sexy death. What's that? Most guys don't have a fantasy about being gunned down by a brunette during her wild killing spree? Um, I've said too much.

Monday, March 24, 2008

NBA Monday: Is There More to the Cuban Blogger Ban? & Bill Simmons is Kobe Bryant?

It's a scattered news and notes column today. By the way, can someone tell me why the NCAA's are better than...high school boys basketball state tournaments? I'm disturbed that I enjoyed the boys high school basketball tournaments on TV more than the NCAA tournament this year. No awkward TV time-outs, no all-knowing or overbearing announcers, and a focus on letting the game tell the story. How refreshing! And the game is much more "pure" at the high school game than at the college level. I'm just curious to hear if anyone out there actually prefers high school basketball to other levels. (Important NBA games are still #1 to watch for me, but high school may be #2 now, followed by college men's #3, WNBA #4, and pick-up #5).

Me with Gary Payton

Because this post is so mediocre, I'm filling it with random Gary Payton candid shots. Of course, let me pay appropriate homage to the masters of inserting intriguing photos in NBA articles--Free Darko. I believe what I'm doing is different, and hope they agree, but I want to respect and acknowledge innovators who were first with related ideas.

Cuban Blogger Ban
I found myself wondering today why Cuban had banned bloggers from the locker room. Surely there had to be more to the story than what I had learned so far? After all, Cuban himself is a blogger; so how could he ban bloggers and decrease coverage of his team? The link points to a call for a blog ban on Cuban by Jordi Scrubbings.

detroit girls with gary payton at magic convention

I listened to Cuban chat with Bob Costas on Saturday. He all but admitted that the "lack of space" reason was an excuse, and that he is not sure what blogger criteria to set to sort through blogger applications for locker room access. He also made a few comments about blogging having been around for 12 years in one form or another and how it was really no big deal anymore. Quite honestly, I have to agree with him on this; what, you've never heard of Geocities? Live Journal? Even those elementary AIM profile pages? Software has made it easier to publish, and broadband Internet speeds have allowed us to embed videos, but those are about the only real changes I see, except that the mainstream reader is more aware of blogs.

gary payton @ roscoe's chicken and waffle

However, turns out that is warning that there is more to this story than you think. Before I get into the details, how many views do you think got in February? 50,000? 500,000? No, the total is 3,300,000! I used to read this site often because SLAM online would link to them. Anyway, they are claiming the following:

"And finally – yes, you heard this here first, too: There is something more to the story of the DMNews-blogger being banned from the Mavs locker room. And while the paper has turned itself into a martyr here, when the truth emerges, it will be interesting to see if the real story is covered with the same intensity as the first-blush story."

I wish I could hyperlink to the story, but I was unable to find a permalink for the story. Just search "blog" on their page, it's around 3/19 or so. Dallas Basketball has been a reputable site for a while. I'd suggest keeping an open mind on the blogger ban for a few more days and seeing what further news does come out of this story. They give a clue as to why the blogger(s) got banned on their page, but I'll let you find it.

gary payton loves us

And please do visit! I dislike it if a blogger rips much of their post material from another site and then gives very little attribution in the post itself. I'm only posting this because I think not enough sports bloggers have read that info on their site (it was only one of several footnotes, so it may have been ignored).

Matt, Me, Gary Payton, Chuck and Jeremy

Bill Simmons is Kobe Bryant
I recently realized that one of the reasons we judge Bill Simmons so harshly is how alone he is at (That and he keeps trying to write about other topics than basketball...please Bill, that's your best sport! His columns improved as soon as the Patriots and Red Sox were done, am I not right?) Look at who used to write for Page 2--literary legends like Hunter Thompson and David Halberstam, or unique, already-respected voices like Ralph Wiley. When they died, they really were not replaced, and ESPN decided to go with numbers over quality. ESPN didn't even replace Dan Shanoff, to some extent. So no wonder we judge Bill more harshly now--he has no protection in the line-up over there. But it's Bill's fault too, in some ways; he's willing to be the big fish in the ESPN pond instead of one of several fish at, say, Yahoo!. Here's how I came to that conclusion.

Hell yeah for meeting Gary Payton from the MIAMI HEAT at PF Chang's!!!!!!!

Listen to the Bill Simmons podcast with Ric Bucher if you haven't already done so, especially around the 19:00 mark. Ric Bucher makes an analogy asking Bill what he would do if he had been Kobe Bryant. Ric essentially says the following: What if you signed a contract with ESPN with originally good writers around you, but then ESPN stuck you with low-quality writers and told you "you're our cash cow, deal with it, but we won't let you go" and you couldn't leave while watching Yahoo! get all these good writers? Bill laughed awkwardly and admitted this hits close to home.

This isn't my blog column, but imagine for a moment how sports blog history changes if ESPN would have fully funded Page 2 and Page 3 in 2005-2008 the way they did at the start. Would Deadspin and The Big Lead ever have gotten a foothold in sports blogging?