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Monday Bullets

  • Remembering Detroit's Bill Davidson, one of the best owners in sports.

  • A PG-13 Canadian cartoon case that basketball has always been about the shoes.

  • And a John McPhee New Yorker essay explaining that basketball's roots are really in lacrosse: "One player to the next, the ball moves two, three, four times before you set a pick, roll, take a no-look pass, and go to the hoop for a layup. Are you playing basketball? No. You could be, of course, every term and move alike. But this is lacrosse, which is essentially the same game -- an assertion that loses a good deal of its novelty in the light of the fact that James Naismith, best known for inventing basketball, in 1891, and writing and publishing basketball's original rules, in 1892, was a lacrosse player. A Canadian, he had played lacrosse in the eighteen-eighties at McGill, and also for the New York Lacrosse Club. Lacrosse and basketball are siblings of soccer, hockey, and water polo. When the rules of ice hockey were written, in the eighteen-seventies, a model they followed was lacrosse."

  • In an ad commemorating Larry Bird and Magic Johnson's legendary college performances, they are portrayed in their NBA colors.

  • John Krolik of Cavs the Blog on former Cavalier Larry Hughes: "Larry's back! And he's going 6-17 with three assists! That's the guy we know! I swear, seeing him go left for a step-back 21-footer and then pump fake, escape dribble, and throw up a 21-footer made me grin. If he makes those shots 20% of the time, I'd be shocked. And those are his Go-To Moves. Also featured: a bricked lefty layup and free throw. Larry was playing all the old hits in the Q tonight."

  • Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns: "I really wonder where Vegas will set the over-under line the next time the Suns and Warriors renew acquaintances. On Sunday the line was put at 244, a ridiculously high total, but Phoenix and Golden State bettered that with seven minutes to spare in an offensive showdown in which the Suns ran to a 154-130 victory propelled by 56 fast-break points, the most for any team since the league began tracking the stat in 1997."

  • Dr. Richard Lapchick has examined the academic progress rate (APR) of NCAA basketball teams. (Read the whole press release.) "There is again some positive academic news for the tournament teams when we examine the APR. The APR figures showed significant improvement in that only 21 tournament teams (32 percent) have an APR score below 925. This is far better than the 35 men's teams (54 percent) below the 925 score in 2008. NCAA President Myles Brand's academic reform package is working. Nonetheless, the continuing significant disparity between the academic success between African-American and white men's basketball student-athletes is deeply troubling. One of higher education's greatest failures is the persistent gap between African-American and white basketball student-athletes in particular and students in general. The good news is that the gaps are narrowing slightly and that the actual graduation rates of African-American basketball student-athletes are increasing.”

  • The Celtics turn in a miserable show, and you have to wonder -- if you're going to drop a few games to bad teams because of injuries, why not rest Paul Pierce and at least have something to show for the losses?

  • Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune on what may have been the fastest ejection in NBA history: "As Tim Buckley from the Deseret News can attest, I predicted Jerry Sloan's ejection from Sunday's game before it even started. You could just see it coming how frustrated Sloan was after Saturday's triple-overtime loss to Miami. Now 2:12 into the game? I don't think anybody could have called that."

  • Dave from BlazersEdge with an interesting look at how pace is not the same as points: "Portland generates fewer possessions per game than anyone else in the league. But because the Blazers don't turn the ball over they're actually 22nd in field goals attempted with those possessions. Their 8th place standing in field goal percentage and 6th place in three-point percentage means they get bumped up to 19th in field goals made and 15th in points generated overall. They don't use a lot of possessions in a game but they don't waste possessions either. Each one is measured and effective. In fact to throw one more stat at you, the Blazers are second only to the L*kers, and that by a nose, in points generated for every 100 possessions. That's exactly what you need when you play at a measured pace: offensive efficiency. Now let's return to the Grizzlies. Memphis is 23rd in the league in pace. That's seven spots higher than the Blazers. However they turn the ball over more and end up 27th in field goals attempted -- five spots lower than Portland. But wait, there's more! The Grizzlies are 22nd overall in field goal percentage and 28th in three-point percentage, sinking both their field goals made and points per game to 29th. How efficient are they with their relative paucity of possessions? 29th in the league, ahead of only the Clippers."

  • Stephen Curry, folk hero, sadly absent from the NCAA tournament.

  • Jason Quick of the Oregonian: "All indications from trainers and coaches are that [Greg] Oden is nearing a return, perhaps later in the week."

  • If the Pacers make the playoffs, they can thank hometown writer Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star for the bulletin-board material: "Some of you probably look at the standings and think the Pacers still have a chance at making the playoffs because they're only 2 1/2 games out of the last playoff spot. Don't kid yourself. Grab the nearest white towel in your house, ball it up and throw it in the middle of the floor as a sign of giving up. The Pacers are done."

  • Sports means a lot of things to a lot of people. And some part of that definition, I think, is agreeing to a certain set of rules. Life, you see, is messy and not all that fun to watch. But sports are pretty clean and simple. The rules keep it that way. Some of those rules are against violence, and I have argued against too much violence in basketball. In making that case on the phone the other day, I used an insane example, saying that of course we'd all agree that players ought not to carry guns on the playing field. Then, today I see that something just like that really happened at a soccer game in Iraq. A player was about to score a game-tying goal -- he had only the keeper to beat -- when he was shot and killed. A more fundamental violation of the spirit of sports I could not i
    magine.