Friday Bullets

  • After decades covering sports for a daily newspaper, veteran reporter Steve Aschburner can not join the chorus decrying the state of online sports journalism.

  • Watch this video, and assess this statement: If he wanted to, Tony "teardrop" Parker could have Allen Iverson-like stats.

  • Allen Barra of the Wall Street Journal on Pat Riley's presentation: "The bottom line, of course, when assessing Pat Riley's greatness is that he has won five NBA championships, four with the Lakers and one with the Heat -- or, as his best player, Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, once quipped, 'one for every time he's been on the cover of GQ.' Actually, Mr. Riley has made the cover of that magazine only three times, but that was enough to earn him the nickname 'GQ.' His other moniker is 'Slick,' derived from his hairstyle, which he once told Entertainment Weekly he maintained with 'water, Sebastian High-Contrast gel, and High-Contrast Hair Spray. The whole thing takes about a minute and a half, and you couldn't mess it up with a sledge hammer.' Mr. Riley's fashion sense is as famous as his hair. According to a story that he doesn't deny, Mr. Riley walked into the dining room of a posh hotel in shirtsleeves on a hot summer night and the maitre d' tried to give him a 'house jacket' to wear into dinner. Mr. Riley didn't like the style of the navy sportscoat, walked back to his room and called for room service. His wardrobe, he once revealed, is 'about 90% Armani.' 'He doesn't mind that 'Slick' nickname,' says Mr. Abdul-Jabbar, 'but he secretly loves to be called 'GQ.''"

  • ESPN did not ask me to post this, I swear. It's from Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "ESPN's news magazine show 'E:60' will feature a story about Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen, formerly of the Milwaukee Bucks, whose family is facing challenges off the court. Flora Allen-Hopson, Allen's mother, and Derek Hopson, Allen's stepfather, have spent more than two years in a witness protection program, after the attempted murder of Hopson, a psychologist. The husband of the former wife of Hopson, Ernest Garlington, a counselor of at-risk kids, organized the attempted murder of Hopson. Recently, Garlington was sentenced to 33 years in prison on five counts of conspiracy to commit murder. 'E:60' will air at 6 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN."

  • As the NBA prepares for competition committee meetings, where Commissioner Stern has promised various different kinds of playoff pairings and seedings will be discussed, the Warriors' broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald reiterates his call for some fairly radical realignment that addresses many goals, including reducing miles traveled. I think reducing travel, with more regional play, makes great sense. One of the NBA's most precious resources is the energy and enthusiasm the players have for the game. Fly hundreds of thousands of miles a year and see how peppy you feel. Also, at some point David Stern's stated concerns about global warming could come into play.

  • After Game 1 of Hornets vs. Spurs, TrueHoop reader Tim wrote: "I'm nonplussed at Pop's rotation for the game -- namely, giving an inordinate number of minutes to the ghost of Robert Horry while (essentially) not playing Ime Udoka. Inexplicable. And stupid. For game 2, I'd like to see Bowen on Peja and Parker on Paul, come what may." Coach Popovich didn't listen to Tim for Game 2, and the Spurs lost again. Last night, however, we saw Dr. Tim's prescription take effect! Ryan Schwan of Hornets247 on the results: "Paul scored 35 on 15-25 shooting and had 9 assists with one turnover. He spent more time in the paint than almost anyone else on the floor, unleashing his hesitation dribble and crossover to get right to the top of the dotted circle multiple times. Duncan was unwilling to lay off Chandler to challenge him for fear of the alley-oop, and it resulted in Paul drilling a layup line." However ... "The Spurs perimeter defense was much improved by leaving Bowen on the perimeter and letting Ginobili track Peterson. Surprise? Peterson and Peja combined to shoot 3-10 and get two threes."

  • Powerful idea from the Painted Area: "LeBron James filling the lane on the fast break is about as physically unstoppable as Shaq was down on the low block in his prime. As much talk as there is about whether D'Antoni is the best fit in Chicago or Toronto or New York or Dallas, doesn't he actually make the most sense in Cleveland? Is there any team that needs to be relentlessly fast breaking more than the Cavs?"

  • For a decent early chunk of last night's Celtics vs. Cavaliers game, Zydrunas Ilgauskas was the best basketball player on the planet. A few other things I noticed: Little Delonte West blocked Kendrick Perkins at one end, and then stole the ball from him at the other end immediately after. Good chance that exchange involved some trash-talking.

  • Also, something I keep meaning to write about: A very strange moment in any broadcast comes when the crowd, angered by some referee's call, starts chanting "bulls---" in unison. At home, watching on TV, you sure can hear it! And here's the weird thing: It's too offensive for the public, right? The kind of thing that's not allowed on TV. But it essentially is the public making that noise. Can the public be too offensive for the public? This is why I'm glad no one is doing anything about it.

  • Remember how LeBron James fixed his jumper last summer? Somebody broke it again.

  • As we transitioned, last night, from the first game (Boston vs. Cleveland) to the second (New Orleans vs. San Antonio) I felt things changed dramatically in one respect: In the second game of the night, there was good spacing on the offensive end of the floor. In the first one, everything was all jammed up, like standing in line at the airport security checkpoint.

  • Reebok honcho Chris Rivers shares some thoughts with Basketball Times about the NBA and NCAA's plan to overhaul basketball development in the United States: "If college coaches and universities can have million-dollar shoe contracts and multimillion-dollar all-school deals, why are the July shoe camps being 'redflagged' as something that isn't good for the game? If the NCAA seems so concerned with a certain element that surrounds youth basketball, why have such a high percentage of college coaches evolved from this same system?" (Via Money Players)

  • Mike Zarren vs. LeBron James.

  • Jared Reiner tells us (I don't know that it's PG-13, but it's boozy) that it is, in fact, possible to throw an orange 110 yards from a fourth-floor hotel balcony into the ocean.

  • The Jazz aren't talking like quitters.

  • Michael Grange of the Globe and Mail: "There was one in the second quarter when [Chris Paul] ran a pick-and-roll around the foul line with Chandler. Duncan and Parker came out to trap – contain is probably a better word – and Paul headed for the baseline, bringing both defenders with him. Meanwhile Kurt Thomas had rotated to pick up Chandler and had pretty decent inside position, taking away a lob at the rim or any obvious passing angle. The reasonable play for Paul would have been to skip the ball out the three-point line or elbow area where Thomas' man, David West was lurking. The Spurs had defended this pretty well. So Paul looks right at West (I'm guessing) and Thomas shifts his weight getting ready to leave Chandler and get back to West, where the ball is headed, right? This is good defence. Except that in the instant that Thomas shifted his weight Paul slips a dirty little bounce pass (Paul uses a lot of bounce passes) along the baseline and gets a now open Chandler for a lay-up. This is the Spurs, a cohesive, veteran team who are expert defenders. They had assigned three guys to cover two, and with one late look-off Paul undressed them for a lay-up. The key here is that Paul looked in the direction that Thomas was concerned about – he wanted to get back to his man, so as soon as Paul looked like he was going to make the 'expected' pass, he was ready to go. Once he leaned he was committed and Chandler was open. Is it possible to find this play on YouTube? I'd love to link to it. It wasn't even the 'best' play Paul made, but just an example of how elevated a level he plays at. There was nothing he did athletically in this moment that any good high school player couldn't have managed. But like one of those girl Judo experts who can throw guys twice their weight, Paul generated a lay-up by using the Spurs defensive discipline and awareness against them. Special stuff, and if you love basketball you are obligated to watch this guy play, end of story."