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Wednesday Bullets

  • The big PG-13 Esquire profile of LeBron James, Maverick Carter, and their business plans. It's fascinating, and a must-read. Entertaining and surprising. Make you think. And you know what it made me think? I think James and Carter are two decades late. They're building a deity brand, on the Jordan model. But that model needed the world to see you through the adoring eyes of skilled TV producers -- and as long as you wore the right clothes and smiled at the right time nobody would scrutinize your nightlife too much. Now the world knows there are no deities. TV producers aren't sole gatekeepers anymore. Everyone is fallible and human. On the upside, however, these days everyone is also connected -- literally e-mailable. To me the great appeal of athletes in 2008 is that they are human. They are facing the same kinds of hassles we all face. And yet they still manage to fly. That's the story the next great basketball icon will tell.

  • Doubtless some NBA players lost some money in the markets this week. But if you don't need your investment money anytime soon, and plan to do a lot more investing, crashes are good. For a short while, everything you want to invest in is on sale. Buy low and sell high, right? The problem comes if you need to sell now, and young people with big incomes usually don't have to sell. I'm more worried about people who were planning to use the 401k money to pay those medical bills.

  • The Latest Word's Joe Tone rarely gets picked to play pickup at his local gym: "I wait patiently for one of my fellow ballers to invite me to join the game. They rarely do. There is a freakish lack of communication on pick-up basketball courts. Also, I'm a midget. Not literally, but almost literally -- short enough that sperm banks won't take my sperm (seriously; look it up). So I shoot around until they realize that playing with a little person is better than playing with nine people. (Not everyone realizes this, but you only need a majority). Eventually, after much debate over the rules and the duration of the game - how are there no uniform rules for these things by now? -- we play. I drain a three-pointer early, causing one of the black guys to begin calling me by the name of some notable white shooter, usually Steve Kerr. As in: 'Do him, Steve Kerr!' 'You can't leave Steve Kerr open like that, baby!' 'That's Steve Kerr right there!' I never know what to call the black guy back."

  • Gotta learn French.

  • Rudy Fernandez is moving to the U.S.A. with a posse: His mom.

  • Hollis Copeland is a former Knick who made it to a second career on Wall Street. In basketball, his calling card was shutting down big-scoring forwards. On Wall Street, in this market, he's havig to use that same kind of tenacity.

  • Ryan Schwan of Hornets247 just trashes the Grizzlies: "Flat out, the Grizzlies will be pushing to have one of the worst records of all time. Their veterans are the worst sort of dregs: Greg Buckner, Antoine Walker, and Marko Jaric. Useless, Cancer, Slacker. Their frontcourt is horribly weak. Marc Gasol -- if he makes a successful transition to the U.S. -- is a good Oberto-like backup big, but other than Marc, there's no one to rebound or play in the paint. Darko has finally developed ... into a foul- and injury-prone stiff. Hakim Warrick and Darrell Arthur provide no post presence and combined weigh as much as Marc Gasol, and the new Iranian import Haddadi is both raw and twenty-three, a bad combination. The Memphis guards aren't going to be tremendously better. O.J. Mayo was simply not that good in college, and I already have doubts he'll ever be a top tier shooting guard in the league, much less be one in his rookie season. Mike Conley showed last year he was injury prone and merely okay when he wasn't hurt, Kyle Lowry showed he was fierce but limited, and Javaris Crittenton showed ... well not a lot because he played so little -- which is its own indictment. That leaves Rudy Gay. He's a good scorer, but he's not all-around good, and he's probably not even a franchise player. Put him on the Hornets, and I'd rank him as only the fourth best player behind Paul, West and Chandler. And that's my entire problem with these Grizzlies. They have one player who could start for most of the teams of the league(Gay), four players that would be in a nine-man rotation because they are young and show promise(Conley, Lowry, Mayo, Gasol) and that's it. If they break 15 wins this season, I'll be impressed."

  • Bethlehem Shoals of FreeDarko (PG-13) has some talking points about Josh Howard's latest mishandling of his freedom of speech: "I am not suprised that some African-Americans have some animosity toward the United States of America. Are you?" So far, I have yet to see any bloggers really upset at Howard. This is more typical.

  • Checking in on Basketbawful's experiments with strength shoes.

  • David Thorpe is chatting right now, and angered some Kobe Bryant fans by saying that Shaquille O'Neal would go down in history as the better of the two. They responded various ways, then Thorpe said: "Shaq is top 3 all time in terms of pure dominance. His stats are unreal. Here on earth, we consider such things."

  • You want to help your local university recruit a top player? Here's the playbook.

  • Can't give you a great reason why, but I think you might want to read this.

  • Mark Cuban: "Has the irony of 3 of largest companies in the country who make their money giving financial and insurance advice to companies and individuals, are facing ruin from the advice they gave themselves ? If this isnt a lesson to every individual who is taking advice from an investment firm, i dont know what is."

  • Your barber can bring you success. Even an NBA team of your own.

  • Rumblings about Andrei Kirilenko possibly going back to Russia. The Jazz, who are facing tough financial decisions about core players, would certainly love to lose Kirilenko's big contract.

  • Words of wisdom from Coach Wooden. He hates lying.

  • Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com is watching the Blazers scrimmage, and saw this from LaMarcus Aldridge: "With Steven Hill out of town, Aldridge was the only big available to go up against Greg Oden. No offense to GO, but LA took him to school, at least out on the perimeter. Aldridge, knowing he'd have a tough time going blow-for-blow and toe-to-toe with Oden in the block, took the rook out to the three-point line and started displaying some skills that I had never seen before, namely the cross-over dribble. You ever see Aldridge dance at the three-point line before shaking his man? Me neither, but I saw it yesterday. Aldridge, with the clear advantage in foot speed, beat Oden in a variety of ways by showing off a handle that I didn't even know he possessed. He'd go between the legs over and over, just getting in that cross-over rhythm, before eventually throwing a jab step to get Oden off-balance. Once that was accomplished, Aldridge would either pull up for the long-range jumper (which he hit over and over again) or drive baseline. Think And1 mix-tape, but without the extreme ankle-breaking, and with 6-11 versus 7-0. It's not like Oden was getting embarrassed, but you could tell Aldridge was just feeling it. The highlight of the run was Aldridge crossing over Oden near the baseline, driving to the hoop, avoiding Travis Outlaw's block attempt, then finishing with the reverse layup. So pretty."