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?


Friday, March 21, 2008

Jesus Plays Sports: New York Times Strikes Out

I've already voiced my displeasure with the New York Times for their over-coverage of Ashley Alexandra Dupre. They made an anonymous woman into a minor celebrity, somewhat against her will (although I'm sure she'll profit down the road in some way), and turned what was a governor's scandal into a promotional vehicle for a prostitute. But I recently was made aware of more poor coverage from the New York Times. It is disappointing, because I used to be a voracious reader of the NYT; but I can't put up with UnCerebral Bias.

Warning: the following material contains Christian bias! I always try to be clear when my demographic details or core beliefs may shade my coverage of a story. I of course have done my best to look at the story fairly, but if you object to this perspective, this is your signal to quietly X this blog post and go elsewhere. On the other hand, it's Good Friday, so you should be able to tolerate it today (if ever), right?

Murray Chass tries his best to portray "Faith Nights" in baseball as an underhanded evangelism tool. He uses the provocative title that "Is a Night Devoted to Faith Really About the Money?", and I'm sure he was hoping to find a right-wing, crazy-Christian plot to save the dirty souls of baseball fans across America. But his story fails to answer his own question! There are no surprise testimonies, no hawking of literature in the stands, and no compulsory attendance. John Smoltz doesn't pause before pitching the top of the 5th to announce "I still am going to pitch, but first, let me give you my Christian testimony for an hour and ask you to repent!". The T-shirt guns don't send "Jesus-Wis-Er" knock-off shirts into the stands, and the cheerleaders and ball girls aren't replaced by nuns. Despite the absence of a smoking gun piece of evidence, Chass slurs Faith Nights with weak analogies and high-minded quotes about separating church and baseball. It's a shame the Times let him use them as a platform.

I've been to one of those Faith Nights before. You wait 30 minutes after the game is done for it to start. Trust me, no one is still there who doesn't want to be there, unless perhaps someone is so drunk that they're still sleeping it off in their seats 30 minutes after the game. I would cheerfully submit that even Murray might concede that a "Faith Night" might do such a degenerate some good.

Perhaps I haven't proved my point well enough. Let's take a quote from the end of the article:
Why should teams be in the business of promoting any particular religion?
Some clubs, like the Mets, hold heritage nights: black history, Latino, Irish, Jewish, Polish. But those are ethnic celebrations, not religion based.
“It’s just a way for a team to reach people in another way,” High said, meaning a different way of luring fans.
The idea has caught on in baseball because clubs want to sell tickets. That’s why Major League Baseball will never halt faith nights. Anything for a few dollars more. But it has no place in baseball. Baseball crowds are made up of people of all faiths and no faith. No segment should be singled out.

Do you see how he contradicts himself? First, he disproves his own title, by saying that MLB IS in it only for the money. Second, he makes an argument that no segment should be singled out...while admitting that there are plenty of promotions to target ethnicities (and gender). How are those not exclusionary? Would Mr. Chass be brave enough to show some consistency, and object to Hispanic Night, Family Night, or Pride Night? How non-hispanic, single, or non-homosexual people might feel singled out or ignored on such nights? No, of course not, because that would sound like bigotry. why didn't this piece sound like bigotry to the Times' editors? Consistent standards is all I ask for, seriously. (That's why I'm not sure I agree completely with the Mark Cuban boycottsuggested by esteemed colleague Jordi Scrubbings; at least Mark is being consistent, although he is acting unfairly in my opinion).

If fans were subjected to a bait-and-switch; if they were showing up to what they thought were a baseball game, only to be held hostage to listen to a sermon--I would object. True belief can't grow from coercion. But Faith Nights are labeled as such, and no faith content is occurring during the games itself. If some fans are so threatened by Faith Nights, then they can avoid that 1 out of 81 games, right?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bloggolalia: Covering the Bob Costas Comments

I'm feeling under the weather today, so I'll try to be brief for once. By now, you've surely read about the Bob Costas statements. What dismays me about Bob Costas' comments is that all the people who should have paid him no mind were offended. It reminds me of school, where the teacher will admonish the class for not studying and doing poorly on the test...and the only people who are offended or react are the kids who got A's! They're not the ones who should take offense. This topic has come up several times in the sports bloggosphere, and there's a depressing sameness about it all:

1. Mainstream columnist takes aim at the bloggosphere, but fails to separate the portion of Internet sports talk that really is ignorant, offensive, and lowers the level of discourse from the Internet bloggers/commenters who do high-class work.
2. Blogger who has standards and writes well takes offense and e-mails the mainstream columnist.
3. They get into a fight or argument, and both sides look worse off afterward. (And why do bloggers post the e-mails afterward? Yeah, yeah, you raised your "blog cred" by fighting with a member of the MSM, and the e-mails prove it. I'm not impressed.)

Can we please, please stop repeating this dumb cycle? Here are some ideas:
1. Some bloggers need to stop being so humble. Bloggers can't say "aww shucks, I'm just a guy writing about sports and hoping people like it" anymore. First, that statement makes you no different then, say, the Internet commenter who viciously and without proof slurs his team's starting center on a forumboard. Second, if it was really that easy, why can't any old blogger get 20,000+ hits a month? Bill Simmons' comment about not needing to have locker room coverage to be relevant and that only paying attention to games matters was a huge mistake. If that's really true, Bill Simmons is easily replacable by any of my readers, and they can earn his money.

2. Bloggers need to crack down on what they can control. For example, although it's rare, I appreciate that Deadspin will ban a commenter on occasion. (Rob wrote a nice essay confirming that some of what Bob said is relevant, check it out.) Don't tolerate hateful, dishonest people on your site as contributors, commenters, or even on your blog roll. Make it clear that you have no wish or desire to be coupled with such sites or people. I don't remember taking an oath to defend all bloggers regardless of quality--do you?! It hurts our reputation when we make it easy for the mainstream media to lump us into one nebulous category of "Internet sports people." Let's make it clear that there's a difference.

Now, of course, there's limits to what you can do. I'm not recommending visiting the worst forumboards, comment sections, and blogs and flaming everyone in sight because they don't share your membership to Mensa, your enlightened thoughts, or what not. But do what you have the right to do already. If enough of us do this, we can change the public perception about sports fans on the Internet.

3. Take the good parts out of criticism, and use it to make your blog/comments better. Bloggers who refuse to acknowledge that criticism has any veracity come off as thin-skinned and arrogant, just as the MSM does when they do the same. Bob Costas made a great point when he said the following:

My commentary was aimed solely at a portion of Internet sports discourse, an unfortunately large portion, that consists of nothing more than potshots, ad hominem arguments, ignorance and invective. No one who is familiar with the general tone of public discourse, whether it be sports, politics, whatever, can honestly deny that much. It comes from that direction.

Do I agree with everything else he said? No. But this part is definitely correct, and pretending that the Internet is filled with polite, classy sports fans is impossible.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Artist of the Week: American Sign Language Videos

I wanted to feature some categories of videos I enjoy watching on Youtube. One recent addition is American (or any language, really) Sign Language. I love the liveliness in their face as they talk. The face can now be entirely used for emotion and communication, because the mouth no longer is speaking. And because I am no longer using my ears to hear their voice, I can understand more by watching their face. You may not be able to watch the entire video without being bored, but you will be surprised at how long these people will hold your attention. Check out for even more videos.

American female does ASL version of the Three Little Pigs:

A young man from Samoa, now in the US, introduces himself to the world. There's something strangely haunting about this video, due to the poor lighting. As I watched it, it felt as if I was watching the last man on earth, quietly making a record for historical purposes. He also has a passionate video encouraging young people to vote that you should check out at his account.

Canadian art student talks about criticism in the arts. I strongly urge you to click on the video and read the transcript; she makes intelligent points. Or, watch a much shorter video that shows the beauty of Canada in winter from her view;

Monday, March 17, 2008

NBA Monday: Team Performances after the Trading Deadline

UPDATE: Please see new information at the bottom of this post.

How have teams that made a deal soon before or on the trading deadline been performing since that date? After all, one would think that a few teams would show instantaneous improvement after acquiring such good players for so little. It's only been about 10-12 games since the deadline, but that should be enough to show improvement, right?

Let's compare team records before and after the Trading Deadline of February 22nd. To adjust records for when the acquired players had actually arrived, I'll be using games from February 24th until today. I labeled the results as being mixed if the winning percentage before 2/24 was within 5% of the winning percentage after 2/24.

Lakers acquire Pau Gasol:
Memphis Grizzlies:
Record before February 24th: 14-41
Record on/after February 24th: 1-9
Improvement? NO

LA Lakers:
Record before February 24th: 38-17
Record on/after February 24th: 7-4
Improvement? MIXED (69% Win vs. 64% Win)

Heat acquire Shawn Marion, Suns acquire Shaquille O'Neal:
Miami Heat:
Record before February 24th: 9-45
Record on/after February 24th: 2-9
Improvement? MIXED (17% Win vs. 18% Win)

Phoenix Suns:
Record before February 24th: 38-17
Record on/after February 24th: 6-5
Improvement? NO

Nets acquire Devin Harris, Mavericks acquire Jason Kidd:
New Jersey Nets:
Record before February 24th: 25-31
Record on/after February 24th: 3-7
Improvement? NO (45% Win vs. 30% Win)

Dallas Mavericks:
Record before February 24th: 36-19
Record on/after February 24th: 8-4
Improvement? MIXED (65% Win vs. 67% Win)

Cavs acquire Ben Wallace from Bulls, Wally Szerbiak from Sonics, Bulls acquire Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden from Cavs:
Cleveland Cavaliers:
Record before February 24th: 31-24
Record on/after February 24th: 7-5
Improvement? MIXED (67% Win vs. 65% Win)

Chicago Bulls:
Record before February 24th: 22-32
Record on/after February 24th: 4-7
Improvement? MIXED (41% Win vs. 36% Win)

Seattle Supersonics:
Record before February 24th: 15-39
Record on/after February 24th: 1-12
Improvement? NO

Spurs acquire Kurt Thomas from Sonics:
San Antonio Spurs:
Record before February 24th: 37-17
Record on/after February 24th: 7-5
Improvement? NO

Seattle Supersonics:
Record before February 24th: 15-39
Record on/after February 24th: 1-12
Improvement? NO

The results? 5 teams showed mixed improvement since 2/24, and 5 teams showed a definite slump in record since 2/24. The best improvement in record was the 2% increase in winning percentage from the Dallas Mavericks. The results indicate that teams should be careful of expecting instant improvement from deadline deals, as it is clearly not happening. Even the Lakers, Spurs, and Mavericks, who were definitely perceived as having won their deals in the short-term, have not shown clear improvement. And in the ultra-competitive West, where seeding is everything, making any deal at all near the deadline may be a huge mistake. Those teams fighting for play-off seeding will now have to play excellent basketball over the remaining 15 games or so just to break even on the deal. Sure, trades may be worthwhile for play-off matchups; but trades hurt your seeding for those match-ups.

UPDATE: I decided to update the post with the details of what I said in the comments, so I don't get the same comments over and over again from readers invited to "feel free to poke holes" in my argument. The Lakers fans have been at their passionate best to ask me to consider the wonders of Pau, and run the numbers for 10 games immediately after the trade was consummated, rather than after the trading deadline. I defend my original choice of using the same timeline for all teams. The reasons were so that I could be absolutely sure that all traded players were now on their new teams, and (ironically enough) to defend myself against charges of having picked favorable timelines. But since the Pau trade happened 3 weeks before the deadline, the Lakers fans have a fair point in asking for a new timeline. I re-ran the numbers based on 10 games after the trade.

The Lakers went 9-1 during the 10 games in which Pau played for the Lakers immediately after the trade. (For the record, during that streak they only beat (and played) two teams with winning records: Phoenix on the night they debuted Shaq, and Orlando. But, the games were mostly on the road.) Thus, the Laker record definitely shows strong improvement immediately after trading for Pau Gasol. That means that 1 of the 10 teams I surveyed, the team (Lakers) that supposedly ripped off the other trading partner the most (Grizzlies), was the only one that showed improvement. Does that invalidate my main result, which was "The results indicate that teams should be careful of expecting instant improvement from deadline deals, as it is clearly not happening"? I think not. I'll take 9 out of 10 odds of success any day of the week. But the Lakers fans made a good point that deserved to be heard, and so I updated this post. Whatever this blog's many, many faults are, I hope intentionally suppressing the truth will never be one of them.

And for the record, commenter Boney jokingly asked me to run the Pistons numbers after acquiring Juan Dixon. It's 40-15 without him, 8-3 with him, for identical 73% Win percentages. Believe it or not, I think that acquiring Juan Dixon was a great move to bolster a traditionally thin Pistons backcourt. He's been giving them 10 mpg and shooting at a 47.2% clip from the field. If he can play well enough to stay in the shortened play-off rotation, maybe Chauncey, Tay, and Rip won't be as tired in the play-offs this year. It is my opinion that this is an overlooked reason why the Pistons fell to the Cavs last year.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Is Will Leitch leaving Updated Answer: No.

See UPDATE at the bottom of this post.

Hidden in AJ Daulerio and Bill Conlin's excellent column about the Phillies was this gem:

"A.J. Daulerio will be the senior writer at Deadspin starting March 31."

The only commenter who noticed this sentence was Ian of Sox and Dawgs, and thus I want to credit him for helping bring it to my attention.

While it's unclear what changes this will mean for Will Leitch, it's clear that Will will be less involved in after 3/31. The quote refers to AJ as "the" senior writer, after all. As to what this will mean for's's hard to say. I would just comment that like Favre, Will will be leaving at or near the top of his game instead of being pushed out. That makes me happy, for his sake, even though fans of the site may be temporarily upset or annoyed.

UPDATE: I spoke to Will Leitch to see if I could update this speculative column either way with some facts. Turns out, Will will remain at the site in the same role, and a new role of "senior writer" is being created for AJ. I'm still impressed at how much content Will and Rick were able to publish for just two people, but another columnist or two will help them out quite a bit, I'm sure. So instead of switching out one name for another, Deadspin will have at least 3 full-time writers, which should help them remain at/near the top of the sports blog landscape.

SmartSports 3/13/08

As always, please do send me links to smart stories in sports news, and comment/e-mail if you like this feature. I always have a lot of ideas in my head, so I could kill this idea and move to something else if my readers aren't too excited about this. (That's code for "I'm lazy and really, really bad at hyperlinking, so let me have an excuse to quit!").

This article in the OC Register spoke about how NFL players are getting business training from some of the nation's top schools.

Continuing the coincidental business theme for the week, see a discussion on how newspapers lost the web war. It's a very relevant topic for bloggers, and the article is written for the average person. Try it out.

Finally, check out this WSJ video on the pressures of recruiting.

D-Wil is the first blogger I've seen to make the connection between Arlen Specter, Comcast campaign donations, and Arlen's one-man assault on the NFL for various and sundry crimes. I've never cared for Arlen ever since his rudeness to Anita Hill. To hear he's attacking the NFL because Comcast (who is legendary for their poor customer service) paid him makes sense to me. And D-Wil's account is supported by some links in the comments that you should also check out.

At first, I thought I had written the best review of God Save the Fan so far. Then, I read the Deadspin Book Club's entry and bumped myself down to second. It's a bad week for the ol' ego (and a good week for common sense), as at best my review of GSTF is third. Look at this review from Noel Murray of the Onion!
I have to excerpt some of the better quotes for you to prove its insight:

As a blog, Deadspin sometimes betrays its own principles by treating sports so flippantly that the site's writers are the ones taking the fun out of sports. But as a book, God Save the Fan is smart, funny, and largely consistent in its philosophy.

See, there is a difference! I'm not crazy for noticing it in my review!
and later on:
If there's a major lapse in God Save the Fan's worldview, it's that Leitch romanticizes "the fan" too much. He conveniently forgets--probably because Deadspin comments are moderated--that fans too often ruin sports by behaving like louts and bigots.

Although I sometimes disagree with the tone or style of Deadspin commentland, I quickly realized the intelligence of a majority of the commenters. That's not par for the sporting course.

Tech Tool: Congoo is yet another news aggregation site among the hundreds that already cover the web. But the reason I like it is the way it groups the top news stories of the day. If there's a big sports story out there, I don't want to read just one paper's take on what happened; I like getting a menu. In its design, Congoo is almost like a Google News/CNN mash-up, showing all the top stories but allowing you to see multiple sources for each story. I found out that there had been some interesting developments in the Sean Taylor murder case by perusing the sports section of Congoo.

Flawed Logic:
Like I said, I'm leaving the bloggers alone for a little while, but had to speak out on another topic. Outside the realm of sports, but I was displeased to see the New York Times linking to the Myspace of Eliot Spitzer's call girl friend. The logic used to defend such actions insults my intelligence. Just because I make a Myspace page doesn't mean I'm inviting the whole world in to berate me. I'm saddened to see all the mean comments left on her site (although others tried to help her by telling to get a lawyer, make the page private, and otherwise defend herself). Now this girl has to deal with thousands of ignorant strangers rushing to call her "whore" while pretending that their pejoratives indicate a courageous act.

Although I think that prostitution is an inappropriate career, I also strongly disagree with the blanket condemnation of every prostitute as being less than human. The New York Times Metro people will win Pulitzers by dragging every piece of newsworthiness out of this girl's sad life, leaving her in a heap with her life even more messed up than before. But they won't care; they'll be off to the next story! Yeah for journalism! Which leads to a possible Bloggolalia topic; is it right to use Myspace/Facebook/Webshots to gain info on athletes? I certainly have used those tools in the past. But I'm starting to wonder about the ethics of such actions, and if there is such a thing as a "right to privacy."

Question for Debate: Is Oscar De La Hoya the most well-rounded athlete of all time? The evidence is the boxing titles to prove his athletic exploits, the Latin Grammy to prove his musical abilities, and the millions of dollars in promotion of sports events and his part ownership in MLS to prove his business savvy. The MLS acquisition sounds dumb at first, but suppose soccer one day becomes a major sport in the US. Then the investment will at least double in value.

EDIT: I owe Michael David Smith a link, as that's where the MLS info comes from. The "Is Oscar the most well-rounded?" idea is 100% mine, but I still owe the hard-working MDS a link for providing the inspiration. Thanks to Matthew for reminding me of that. All of you, feel free to jog my memory if you think I miss an attribution; I want to write this site the right and fair way.

Monday, March 10, 2008

NBA Mondays: The Barkley Video

Bryan and I dissected our feelings on the Barkley video where he criticizes Christians over at As I usually do on here when I employ demographic bias, I'm warning? notifying? you that we're both Christians and thus our commentary will be biased in that way.

My suspense-filled move to another site will not happen this week. KSK rejected my idea for a storyline around "Eddie the Happy Referee's Neighborhood." Apparently they don't have an opening for NFL fiction aimed at children--who knew?! Sigh. Don't they know how long it took me to photoshop black stripes onto the white T-shirt for the illustrations?! Heartless, I tell you, heartless.

Hmm, drag out the suspense for the one reader that cares (thanks, Google Search Robot!) or stop stringing my readers along? Let's just say that the move is currently cryogenically frozen, but could begin wiggling again in the near future. It's alive! Besides, it's fun pretending (?!) to be a pathetic blogger attempting to leech on to various web-sites and being rejected. Whose site should I hypothetically attempt to latch on to next?

Eh, I may give myself the week off from blogging. But if any video can buy your temporary forgiveness (or sharpen your thankfulness for my absence, whichever), this NBA video can. It's Reggie Miller, Chuck Person, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and many more on NBA "Freedom of Speech"--also known as trash talking. Anyone know where the original is from?

UPDATE: The Money Shot gives the Miami Heat a well-deserved tongue lashing(obscene language warning).

Friday, March 7, 2008

SmartSports 03/05/08

Welcome to SmartSports, a new feature to highlight intelligent, out-of-the-box thinking in sports. Please send me the smart sports articles you find, and I'll include them in next week's SmartSports links.

Mainstream Links:
One woman's attempt to make it to the Olympics in switching her citizenship.

I apologize for a bit of bias, but I included the follow-up to the Sarah Pavan story:
The stories have elicited a flood of feedback aimed at all involved, both positive and negative. Traffic on Web sites featuring the articles has increased. New York Times columnist William Rhoden even inquired about the issue.
Yes! (pumps fist) That's exactly what I hoped would happen when I funneled the story to The Big Lead--people like William Rhoden would make calls. I'm not going to pretend I broke the story nationally or anything, but being a part of this makes me smile.

An absolutely gorgeous interactive media production in Play magazine where Jeff Gundy describes the defenses used to contain the likes of Steve, Kobe, Lebron, and Yao.

Blogstream Links:
I know, I know, I already pumped them on Monday, but Garbage Time All Stars has a great Yao Ming cartoon up that makes an excellent point about Internet discourse. Spewing unmitigated hate, even about famous people, can hurt people's feelings. (Mitigated hate, on the other hand, is more than welcome.).

This isn't really a blog, but if you haven't seen the Remember the ABA site, you are missing out!

Stop Mike Lupica talks about blog feuds--educational. Now that bloggers can occasionally expect to get paid, expect blogging feuds to increase.

I want to take a moment to deviate from the script and remember StillaJew. He's a Yaysports reader who passed away in a car accident--and he was only in college. I hope he's found peace and paradise in the afterlife.

Tech Tips:
Hit up It allows you to create your own search engine to search up to 25 sites of your choice. Good way to figure out what the sports blog movers-and-shakers are saying on any given topic.

Flawed Blog:

I must be one surly boy this week, because I had five blogs in my crosshairs this week for different reasons. However, I have a sad confession to make. I'm going to have to remove this section from the smartsports posts temporarily. There are two ways to improve the level of sports blog discourse--feature thoughtful writers, and go after those writers who are not thinking. I originally wanted to do both.

However, I wanted to go after only writers who were good or well-known in this section--I didn't think it was fair to attack those writers who would not change anyway or were ignorant. But by criticizing good writers, now I'm making them look bad, and not helping raise the level of discourse. Plus, I'm concerned that people will take this as me trying to bring down better writers in some sort of jealous basement couch-gnawing rage. So I'm not going to mention specific writers' posts unless the offense is egregious, and instead going to make a comment about my own thoughts.

When inequities in coverage or praise exist, it's easy to go after the one receiving unfair honor or benefit. For example, when most blogs praised Charles Barkley for pointing out that Christians are hypocritical and judgmental, I wanted to go after Charles at first. I felt that had he attacked any other group, he would have been sternly reprimanded, maybe even fired.

However, a better way may be to instead use that injustice to argue for more equality. If Charles is allowed to go after Christians on their weak points, than I should feel free to criticize, say, rich athletes who don't give back to the community in similar terms. So instead of making it look like I hate Charles and attacking the person, I use him to gain an opportunity to expand my own free speech rights. And he becomes proof that one should be free to criticize a group based on its actions, as long as one doesn't stray into criticizing such a group for its existence or unchangeable characteristics.

Or, take how Brett Favre is glorified as a great quarterback when his resume reads like that of the typical black QB experience (great athlete who didn't throw much as a QB in high school, almost converted to a DB in college, and then seen as an athletic freak in Atlanta rather than true QB, among other points). That glorification can be used to argue that when the next freakishly athletic yet unpolished black QB comes along, he deserves the longer leash and the praise that Brett received. After all, take away Brett's picture, and you would think we were talking about, say, Kordell Stewart or Randall Cunningham. That may be an overstatement, but you get the idea. (Seriously, go over to Wikipedia and read his entry; he fits several of the traditional biases associated with black QB's.)

I certainly will argue against blatant inequity when I see it, especially when it disagrees with my biases (being honest). But the ways in which we can argue against injustice are numerous. Personally speaking, I shall try to add new weapons to my arsenal.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Response to "Is There a Sports Blogging Glass Ceiling" Post

The original post did not make the clean point I had hoped to make. It has been deleted. It's critical to remember that when arguing issues and ethics, real people are also involved.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Artist of the Week: Elie Seckbach

I was originally going to do another set of videos, but Elie name-dropped me in a video. So in the interests of relentless self-promotion, I'm posting ES today. I first met Elie the way I do all my Internet friends; through being overly opinionated and disagreeing with them, ha. But since then, I've enjoyed his videos and fine work. He recently hit 2,100,000 Youtube views; congrats, Elie! Subscribe to his channel at ESNEWS.

Elie answers a lot of questions here with some honest opinions about Ron Artest, Kevin Garnett, Shaq, Kobe Bryant, and Stephen Jackson that may surprise you. My questions are featured around the 3 minute mark. I also love his quote about "if you're religious be yourself, if not, don't claim to be."

Here are some of Elie's greatest hits:
Gilbert Arenas on Kobe Bryant:

Shaq, D-Wade:

NBA players Hanukkah Greetings:

By the way, I'll clear up some of the RAMPANT, WIDESPREAD, err, non-existent speculation about my move; it's not to Ladies... They wouldn't let me join, um, I mean, I was never interested to begin with. Try a more logical guess, if you wish, below; I'm curious if anyone can get it right.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Not-so-Blind Item: MC Bias is on the Move

Which unfamous blogger whose initials are M.C.B. is moving to a new blog next Monday? This guy. I've enjoyed being an independent blogger. However, I finally realized that I couldn't get the most out of blogging without being a part of some sort of blog family. I will still keep this blog, never fear, but my posts will be up in a different location.

I thought it would be entertaining to see how well my readers know me. Where do you think I would go if I did move blogs? Take your guesses in the comment section, and you'll know the answer on Monday. Cheers, MC Bias.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Luck of the Nets: It's Gotta Be the (New) Jersey

Is it me, or does Jason Kidd's new girlfriend Hope Dworaczyk look a lot like Joumana? They have the same vibe of the not quite white, not quite Latina woman with long dark hair. Hmm...although I definitely think Hope is cute, that's not what I'm talking about when I refer to the luck the New Jersey Nets have had over the last five years.

Photo credit to James Crump/Getty Images.

Anyway, over the last 7 years the Nets have had a ridiculous number of lucky personnel guesses. Here's just a short list:
Nets trade Eddie Griffin to Houston for Richard Jefferson, Jason Collins, and Brandon Armstrong. Since when does an NBA team trade down in the draft for much lower picks? Sadly, Eddie's dead now, while RJ is playing like a star. And for the record, Richard Jefferson is not gay.

Nets trade Stephon Marbury to Phoenix for Jason Kidd. If Amare, Stephon, and Shawn all got along and stayed healthy, this trade wouldn't look quite so good. But at the time, this trade seemed like a win for Phoenix; they shipped a troubled guard with image issues out for at least equal, if not superior talent. (Marbury was coming off a year where he scored nearly 24 ppg for the Nets).

Your random NBA candid photo target for this week is Kyle Korver (amusingly, though, I just realized he's a former Nets draft pick. Go figure.) Sorry the picture is rotated incorrectly, but the "Jesus Hates the Yankees" shirt was too funny to pass up.
me kyle and bone

Nets refuse to resign Kenyon Martin. Remember, Bruce Ratner, the Nets owner, even apologized for this later on. So what happens? Kenyon goes to Denver, and promptly falls apart phyically. His best season in Denver barely matches his 3rd best season in New Jersey. Talk about dodging a bullet! And not signing Kenyon leads to...

Nets trade Alonzo Mourning and change for Vince Carter. According to this SI article, Mourning himself did his best to force the trade, and accused the Nets of trying to ruin his career and health by overplaying him when he returned from injury. He also slammed them for not resigning Kenyon New Jersey turns him into Vince Carter! Ridiculously good luck, yet again, because Mourning turns out to be only half as good as he was before the kidney trouble.

Nets pass on Shareef Abdul Rahim, August 2005. Shareef was 29-ish at the time, coming off a 16 ppg season with Portland, and had never been on a decent team. There was good reason to believe he would blossom if paired with Kidd, and the Nets desperately needed an inside presence. Then, weird stuff happened during the physical, the Nets pass...and Shareef also falls apart in Sacramento.

Me and Kyle Korver!! I love the caption on this one. She was at Applebee's, saw him coming out of the restroom, and cornered him for a picture.

Nets trade Kidd, forward Malik Allen and swingman Antoine Wright to Dallas for 24-year-old point guard Devin Harris, forwards DeSagana Diop and Trenton Hassell, guard Maurice Ager, two future first-round draft picks, $3 million and semi-retired former Net Keith Van Horn, whose rights the Mavericks own.
This last one is probably just as good as the rest; the Nets trade an aging coach killer (what, you think Byron Scott fell by himself? He was pushed!), front office meddler (him and Joumana both) and wife beater for a much younger point guard, picks, cash, and a chance to lure Diop into staying in New Jersey. It's outright theft, and was even before it looks like Avery and Jason may not get along.

Oh, and let's not forget the Nets turning non-lottery first-round draft picks into serviceable big men like Nenad Kristic, Josh Boone, and Sean Williams. Again--quick, give me a list of big men drafted low in the first round who did anything at all in the NBA? Zach Randolph and Carlos Boozer? That's about it off the top of my head. In addition, Josh and Sean went to college, they didn't fall just because they were high school players.

At this rate, the Nets will trade Vince Carter to Cleveland for Lebron James, sigh. What's most interesting to me is how little the Nets have actually accomplished in the regular season. Quick, what do you think is the max number of season wins for the Nets in the last 7 years? We're talking about a team with 2 Finals appearances...and they only broke 50 wins once, at the grand total of 52. Lucky! And for the record, if you are a Nets fan, go over to, where Becky and Ben will take care of you.

EDIT: Check out the NBA cartoons at