(They would have been earlier bullets, but my computer and I? We're not getting along today.)
If Shaquille O'Neal isn't going to dunk this ball, what is he going to dunk?
Jason Richardson once wanted to play in the NHL. The Charlotte Observer's David Scott: "'All my father figures were passing away,' said Richardson. 'It was really tough on me." Since [uncle Tyrone] Bowen died on a basketball court, Jason couldn't bring himself to continue playing the sport. Instead, he took up hockey, telling his mother he wanted to become one of the first African American players in the NHL. That lasted for about six months because he outgrew his skates and couldn't afford a new pair. One day at about 6 a.m., Richardson-Cook was awakened by the sound of a ball bouncing. Jason was playing basketball again.
Portland won a very strange overtime game last night. Mike Barrett, writing on the teams' official website: "Milwaukee had 92 field goal attempts in the game, as compared to only 71 for Portland. Normally, you give your opponent 21 more attempts and there's no way you come out on top. Most of that was due to the fact that the Blazers allowed the Bucks to grab 16 offensive rebounds and then won the 2nd-chance points battle 25 to 11. Milwaukee also scored 52 points in the paint, as compared to Portland's 22. The Blazers also allowed Milwaukee's Mo Williams to strike for 26 second-half points, on his way to 33 for the game." Another factor in that game: four or five referee calls at the end of regulation and overtime looked shaky in slow motion. They could have all been good, but they also could have all been, well, not so good.
Malik Rose wants the team to keep him inactive so that he can stay in better shape. The New York Post's Marc Berman writes: "Rose believes he can better stay in shape by being inactive rather than sitting on the bench, waiting to get a call if there's foul trouble. If Rose knows he's inactive, he can do his full complement of weightlifting and workouts as he tries to stay in shape in case he is traded or there's an injury." Also, Stephon Marbury will not play tonight, having realized that he came back too quickly after his father's death.
There's a bit of a flareup in the debate about race and IQ, and I find Malcolm Gladwell's contribution most interesting.
A list of funny NBA names, as described by the Seattle Weekly's Mike Seely (there are plenty more): "Fennis Dembo, Dolph Schayes, Uwe Blab, Sweetwater Clifton, Kermit Washington, Vinny Del Negro, Fat Lever, Bimbo Coles, Otis Birdsong, Carlos Boozer, Foots Walker, Slick Watts, Bumper Tormohlen, Smush Parker, Jack Tingle ..."
A reporter expects William Wesley to be a presence in the University of Illinois basketball program, citing Wesley's ties with Deron Williams and Illinois assistant coach Jerrance Howard. And that same reporter goes into more detail about Wesley.
If you get tired of how much I talk about the Portland Trail Blazers, don't click this.
Golden State of Mind got a nice look at Andrew Bynum: "I gotta say that Bynum looks very very good. This was one of the best games of his career, but the guy looks smooth, poised, and has a major presence down low. He's very strong down there and is pretty athletic too. He had this nice little spin on the block where he elevated over Al and banked a little 4 footer. It looked like he'd been doing that for many years, but I think he just added it to his arsenal this year. If Bynum keeps getting stronger, works on his low post game, he's going to be scary in a few years."
Yardbarker recently invited several bloggers to a conference call with Baron Davis. The blog Fear the Beard wrote up a fascinating part of the call: "... Especially for cats that are coming out of the 'hood, what would you tell them to bring with them and never lose? And what would you tell them to leave behind? I'd tell them to take they heart. You know, take what got them out. Take that same drive, that hunger, and use that. As far as what your craft is, you know, be real on the court. Be real on the field. And from that point, look to empower people that want to be empowered in a positive way. But at the same time, keepin' it real has lost its meaning. 'Cause being real is being honest with yourself. A lot of guys, you know, they come from bad and negative situations. And sometimes they just want to continue to perpetuate that stereotype. And it's not cool, 'cause you don't make it that way. And me being from the 'hood-growing up in South Central and being around gangs, and you know, doing everything that I did in my childhood? If it wasn't for me going the right way, then I probably wouldn't have made it. You know, if I would have stayed a gangster, or continued to have kept it gangster, I wouldn't have made it. You know, a lot of times we just have to be honest and real with ourselves and then take that and bring it back to the 'hood and create positivity in our neighborhoods instead of continuing the negative stereotypes." Golden State of Mind is all over that call, too.
Fantastic use of NBA Hotspots images to show how players like LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, and Dirk Nowitzki and getting better or worse shooting the ball. The numbers show Rondo has discovered an impressive mid-range game.
Many statheads have taken issue with David Berri of the Wages of Wins who does not value creating shooting opportunities as much as others. Tom Ziller's latest back and forth on FanHouse includes his explanation of why Kobe Bryant is more valuable than Andrew Bynum, despite Berri's numbers: "Creating a shot isn't just throwing balls at the rim, as Berri has argued before. It means handling the ball, likely passing the ball more, making decisions. At this point in the season, Bynum records more turnovers, fewer a
ssists and fewer free throws than Kobe for every shot taken. Meanwhile, 60% of Bynum's makes are assisted versus 40% of Kobe's. Right now, the typical positive Bynum possession results from a) good position by Bynum, b) a good pass from a teammate, c) a finish by Bynum. Tremendous and valuable, yes. A typical positive Kobe possession: a) find or create some space, b) make a decision on shooting versus passing, c) execute. A little more room for error, no? If Bynum doesn't get position, he doesn't get the initial pass and doesn't use the possession. Kobe has little such luxury. He can pass backwards to the point guard or something, sure. But it's probably coming right back to him. (You'll notice this when you see 10% of Kobe's shots come with less than 3 seconds on the shot clock. Only 22% of these makes are assisted.) Eventually, being the team's central shot creator, Kobe's going to have to create."
Brian Windhorst of the Akron Beacon-Journal: "The Bobcats are about the fifth team that I've seen that uses that Kanye West Stronger song during their intros. That includes the Cavs. C'mon NBA, how about some original thinking. In general, NBA intros have become very, very lame and that includes the Q, where this year's version is below their previous standard. Here's what happens in every arena: There's a bunch of highlights where the crowd just watches and doesn't cheer spliced in with players in boring setup shots clowning around or looking mean, then there's some smoke or fireworks and they announce the names with piped in crowd noise. Not that I could do it better, I'm just saying all of them have gotten boring."
Michael Grange of the Canada's Globe and Mail: "Not a big tattoo guy. Not opposed to them, but I could never figure out what to get that I wouldn't want to change a week later, so I am going through life sans ink. I will let you know if that changes any time soon. I will say this: If I was from the rough side of Amityville, N.Y., like Mike James, and I had overcome considerable odds to make the NBA, like Mike James, and I had arms like Mike James, damn straight I'd have a tattoo on my right should that read: The Amityville Horror. I just would. Say what you want about Mike James, but that is one cool tattoo."
Glimmers of good news in Minnesota, where the team has played well against tired Phoenix and overconfident Atlanta. There has been some lineup tinkering too, as Britt Robson of The Rake describes: "The two pieces that haven't changed are Jefferson and either Jaric or Telfair at the point. Of the other three spots, those losing time are Rashad McCants, Ryan Gomes, and one of the centers in the committee. Those benefiting from the new world order are Brewer, Smith, and the Telfair/Jaric combo. What do these changes create? The first thing that jumps out is rebounding. Brewer's nonstop motor enables him to defend the perimeter and still slash for defensive boards; Smith is the opposite, a player whose forte is grinding for position on the offensive glass. With at least one sidekick pounding the glass at either end, there is less boxing out of Jefferson. The result is that in the past seven quarters, Minnesota has grabbed 81 percent of the eligible rebounds on its defensive boards and 42 percent of the caroms on their own missed shots. In the past two games, Smith has 12 offensive rebounds, Brewer has 24 on the defensive end and Jefferson has battled for enough of the leftovers to average 14 rpg."
I was fixing to write a column about how it's just amazing that Gilbert Arenas is calling out his NBA co-workers for not taking the big money teams are offering them. But Kelly Dwyer wrote essentially that same post, so go read his!
Come hell or high water, Bill Davidson will never sell the Pistons. The papers are reportedly in place for his family to take over ownership eventually.