Friday, June 29, 2007
1. Dallas will overreact to their first round exit by making a stupid trade. We’ve seen them do this before. When they lost barely got by a banged-up Sacramento team and lost to the Spurs, they naturally assumed they had to get bigger inside and traded away the person who got them past Sacramento and was the big shot taker that Dallas has always needed: Nick Van Exel. Dallas didn’t do anything again until Van Exel was replaced by a player of a similar mold: Jason Terry. Now, that they’ve gone down to 8th seed Golden State, they’re going to overreact by adjusting their team to the one that beat them, instead of trying to run with the team to beat. It’s the stupidest possible move and one they can’t help but make.
2. Golden State will fail to build on their surprising season. We’ve seem them do this before. Not only that, it always happens when a team catches the league by surprise one year, but next year, everyone’s ready for them. Hell, it happened in their own division this year, or did everyone forget about the Clippers? I know I did.
3. Shawn Marion will be traded and exposed. And if it doesn’t happen this year, this one will happen at some point, because the media has convinced this man that he’s better than he really is. They’ve also convinced all of you of the same thing. Listen, Shawn Marion is an amazing athlete with freakishly long arms, who can get off the ground quicker than most and has a nose for the ball and can play in the lights. But there’s always a guy like that in the league. Would you really build your offense around him, though? Would you depend on him to put your team on his back and score 25-30 a night? Not with that jump shot, you shouldn’t. But at least one general manager is going to do exactly that.
4. Billy Knight will waste at least ONE of the Hawks’ draft picks. The situation has turned out too well for Billy Knight to deal with properly. He’s going to blow it, because he can’t help himself. I assure you, one of those picks (picks 3 and 11) is going to be wasted on a player that we don’t need. The guy might be a good player, too. But when his name is called, the fourteen Hawks fans left are going to slap their heads in unison. I’ll go so far as to name the name that will likely be called: Either Brandan “the Neo-Marion” Wright or Joakim “Camby 2K8” Noah. He can’t help himself. He just can’t. (Note: I proved to be wrong here.)
5. Detroit will no longer be a championship-level team. Oh, yeah. It’s so over. Flip Saunders is still your coach and still incapable of making adjustments and coaching defense. Some hapless GM is going to be suckered into paying Chauncey Billups that big deal. Rasheed Wallace might have actually worn out his welcome. Chris Webber is not the be-all, end-all. Your starting point guard might actually be Carlos Delfino, who’s not a bad player, but also isn’t a starter. Don’t get me wrong…this isn’t going to be a bad team. They’ll win 50 games or so. But threatening for the championship? No, that ship has sailed.
6. Antoine Walker and Gary Payton are history in Miami. Obviously, this team has to get younger, because Shaq’s days are numbered and they’ve got to become a more up-tempo team to run with Dwyane Wade. Also, judging by the way this team went out (injuries aside), we saw a team age 40 years in about 8 months. I don’t believe they’ll get much in the draft, so the only choice is to make trades. And the only thing they have that can even be considered “trade bait” is Antoine Walker. Who would want him? I don’t have all the answers, but a team like Minnesota is screaming for help to keep KG from leaving. And Gary Payton will likely be thrown in to make the numbers work. Honestly, I’m shocked they made it through last season without being traded.
7. Kobe is going to have a meltdown. When I actually made this list, Kobe hadn’t started making trade demands yet. I wrote this list one night, put it down and forgot I even wrote it. Two weeks passed, and we’ve seen Kobe demand a trade, recant the statement, demand it again, and trash his GM and back-up center to perfect strangers on the street, who videotaped the whole thing. I’d say that counts as a meltdown.
8. So will Kevin Garnett. Well, another meltdown, anyway.
9. Allen Iverson will be playing elsewhere. Because I just can’t see the Iverson/Carmelo Anthony team-up ending in any way other than a fight.
10. Cleveland will be overhauled. Let’s face it, they were lucky to even be in the Finals. And unless they want to keep taking beatings like the one they just took, they’d better make some moves, and fast. Let’s start with a coaching upgrade.
Honorable mention – Dwight Howard still won’t have any post moves. What are they teaching these kids in high school? Does anyone have any old tapes of Hakeem Olajuwon or Kevin McHale? Can they let Dwight Howard borrow them over the weekend or something?
Honorable mention 2 – Daniel Gibson will be next year’s Elliott Perry. Because there’s always that one player who has the breakout season until teams start bothering to play defense against him. You remember Elliott Perry, right? Neither do I. In fact, Charles Barkley was his best damn friend and he hasn’t mentioned him on TV since 1995.
Honorable mention 3 – The patch of hair on Drew Gooden’s hair will continue to mystify me. Seriously. What the hell is it?
The running theme of the night, as always, is the stupidest justification for drafting a player, “upside potential,” whatever that means. I never understood why you’d draft a player who MIGHT be good, instead of drafting a player who’s good already. But before I drop 10,000 words on why Brandan Wright should have stayed at North Carolina, let me talk a little about the other running theme of the night (or at least, the lottery picks): The inability to shoot.
There were 14 players in the lottery and of those 14, the only ones who didn’t catch the comment from Jay Bilas about working on their shot was Kevin Durant (because that’s what he does), Greg Oden (because he’s never more than 5 feet from the basket at any given time), and Al Horford (because…ditto). Now, here’s what I don’t get: How do you get this far in your basketball career and can’t shoot?
All I’m saying is what were you doing all that time when you were alone on the playground or in the gym? Were you tongue-kissing the ball or just humping it? How do you spend that much time playing ball and still can’t shoot? Hell, I’ve never even played organized ball and I can shoot. I just fail to understand how in three years at Florida, Joakim Noah (I’m coming back to you shortly, sir) can’t shoot consistently. I fail to understand how in FOUR years at Texas A&M, Acie Law IV isn’t a better shooter. As a college ballplayer, chances are that at least 8 hours out of every day, you’re doing something that involves a basketball. If you seriously call yourself practicing, how is it that you can’t shoot?
And they wonder why the Europeans are coming along like they are. Does anyone out there have that old Dr. J basketball fundamentals tape? Anyone?
It was interesting hearing some of the backhanded comments about the GMs. Danny Ainge got trashed by Stephen A. Smith (he kept using the word “atrocious”), and the word that they wanted to use to describe the GM in Milwaukee was “stupid,” but they couldn’t say it. Billy Knight received a pass, but Lord knows why, and they should have just called Billy King “dead man walking.” I’m still not over the Allen Iverson situation, either. And I’m still not done talking about Kevin McHale. It’s quite simple, really…when you have a dominant point guard, go get a big man. When you have a dominant big man, go get a point guard. You shouldn’t have to have one half of the puzzle in place for 10 years and wait for him to start demanding a trade before you realize this. I don’t blame Kobe Bryant for what he’s doing at all. There needs to be a revolt against stupidity in the front office.
Anyway, getting to the draft…
1. Greg Oden – Portland Trailblazers. The most unsurprising pick since LeBron James in 2003.
2. Kevin Durant – Seattle Supersonics. The most unsurprising pick since Greg Oden.
3. Al Horford – Atlanta Hawks. A good pick that’s only tempered by the fact that Billy Knight has drafted this man at least two other times in the last two years under an assumed name. The difference is, this time he’s actually a good player.
4. Mike Conley, Jr. – Memphis Grizzlies. Other than the fact that I wouldn’t have been mad at the Hawks for taking him, I have nothing really to say about this pick. I am surprised that this team is still in existence, though.
Jeff Green – Boston Celtics. He was traded to Seattle along with Wally S. and Delonte West for Ray Allen and Glen “Big Baby” Davis. Admittedly, I haven’t seen Jeff Green play outside of the highlights on that one shot that he hit in the NCAA Tournament, and Glen Davis has only impressed me because I’m surprised that a grown man will let other grown men call him “Big Baby” to his face. I will say that this trade doesn’t make sense for Boston, mainly because they’ve already got Ray Allen on their team. His name is just Paul Pierce. They’ve also already got Allen Ray, which I think is hilarious. Plus, they gave up the one decent point guard that they had in Delonte West. I swear, I wouldn’t trust Danny Ainge to put together a 100-piece puzzle correctly, let alone an NBA team.
Yi Jianlian – Milwaukee Bucks. I really have no clue how to process this one, because I didn’t see China play in the World Championships, and even if I did, I wouldn’t have known who the hell I was looking at. I do know that the Chinese Consulate prevented Milwaukee from seeing him workout and that the GM of Milwaukee has never actually seen him play. It was stated that he was going off the word of his father, Del Harris, who coaches for the Mavericks and was a one-time coach of the Chinese National Team. This can’t end well for the Bucks.
Corey Brewer – Minnesota. Great defender, can’t shoot. Kevin Garnett is probably on top of the tallest building in Minneapolis (7 stories) with a pistol and a bottle of Grey Goose, demanding that the Wolves trade him or the “distraught multi-millionaire gets it.”
Brandan Wright – Charlotte. I think Michael Jordan just saw that he played for Carolina and decided to take him. It’s not like the Bobcats have actual NEEDS or anything. Then, while being interviewed, Wright said that Jordan didn’t want any of him in one-on-one. Jordan woke up just long enough from beating his friends in PokerGolf to ship Wright off to Golden State for Jason Richardson. The ESPN guys wondered why Charlotte would trade Wright for Richardson. I wondered why Golden State would trade Richardson for Wright. I’d rather have to consistent athletic two-guard over the vanishing, skinny, power forward who’s useless outside of six feet and can be pushed over by a strong wind.
9. Joakim Noah – Chicago Bulls. I screamed out of anger when I heard this pick, because now I have to spend the next decade supporting the last player I wanted them to draft. Anyone who’s ever heard me talk about Joakim Noah knows that I’m not that big on him, and that’s mostly because I see him becoming the next Marcus Camby. And if I wanted that, I wouldn’t have been begging the Bulls to deal Tyson Chandler. See, we need a low-post scorer in Chicago and Joakim Noah is everything but. He’s my prime example of guys in this draft who can’t shoot. The guys we have down low right now are Ben “Complaining about the offense, but never taking the time to work on anything offensive” Wallace, Tyrus “The coordination of a drunk baby horse” Thomas, PJ Brown (I got nothing bad to say about him), and Michael “One-Man Buffet Line” Sweetney. The problem is, the only true low-post scorers in this draft got picked at 1 and 3. And somewhere between my blood curdling scream and laying in my bed, stroking my Chicago Bulls pillow for comfort, I began to accept that, at the very least, Noah will fit in with what the Bulls are doing. But he better not suck…I know that.
The rest of the draft….
Acie Law IV – (11) Atlanta Hawks. At least now we know how the Salim Stoudamire/Royal Ivey/Anthony Johnson logjam is going to end. And speaking of Stoudamire, I find it funny that Acie Law is the exact same player as he is. Does Billy Knight actually know who he has on his team? Billy, have you actually met the players you drafted or do you just wipe your memory clean from draft to draft?
Thaddeus Young (12) – Philadelphia 76ers. It’s going be really awkward seeing him play, because I’m still not used to hearing someone call out my name on TV. At least he spells it correctly. Other than that, I think this kid and Javaris Crittenton should have stayed in school. They couldn’t even get Georgia Tech to win consistently in the ACC. I hope they don’t expect Young to get them over the hump, even in the saddest of all NBA conferences.
The Knicks/Blazers Trade – Finally, Isiah Thomas is on the positive end of a deal. The Knicks get Zach Randolph and a few others, The Blazers get Channing Frye and Steve Francis. I just want to know how he tricked someone into giving up a legitimate big man for so little. Well, I shouldn’t so “so little.” I mean, Steve Francis is a huge headache when he goes outside of the offense on every play. Isn’t he supposed to be the point guard?
The guy who hit them was an illegal alien. He jumped out of the truck and fled the scene with his wife and child. He was caught later that day and is currently being held on a $51,000 bond for a variety of charges. None of them are “vehicular manslaughter,” because apparently, Mississippi doesn’t have that crime on its books. Hopefully, this time he’ll be deported.
“This time,” you ask? Oh, yeah…this time.
On June 17, he was arrested for DUI and driving without a license. He shouldn’t have even been in the country on June 24. But he was. And as a result, two people are dead.
I know bringing this up isn’t going to bring them back, but that doesn’t change the fact that it pisses me off. He. Should not. Have been here. Period. So to anyone who believes that there shouldn’t be a crackdown on illegal aliens in this country, tell that to Chris, Denise, Jeanette, Ron, and Francis. Those are their children. I’m sure they’d love to hear your reasoning.
You know, I’ve never been to Central America. From what I read about it, it seems to be pretty rough and corrupt at virtually all levels of government. And from what I understand, traffic laws there are more of a suggestion, not the law of the land. “Hey, you might wanna stop at that sign…unless you don’t want to.”
Now, the actual evidence of that, I’ve seen with my own eyes. There is a huge Latin population here in Atlanta, and I’ve almost been run over a ton of times and I’d say 5 times out of 10, it’s by someone of Latin descent. And I’m not saying that to say that Latinos can’t drive, because I know that most of them probably can. I’m saying that where they come from, the country probably doesn’t put the same emphasis on stopping at a red light that ours does. Hell, just a month ago, the front of my car was almost torn off by a guy who ran a red light. He was driving a white van with ladders on top of it. I didn’t see the guy, but based on what he was riding in and where I was (Buford Hwy aka Nuevo Mexico 2), I’m willing to bet that he was Latino.
Just to show that I’m not bigoted, back in 2003, I was almost hit at the intersection of Columbia Dr. and McAfee Rd (aka “The Hood”) by a guy in an SUV with chrome rims, who ran a red light. I didn’t see that guy either, but I’d bet you both the hands I’m typing this with that he was black.
Getting back to my point, if you were not from here, but took the time to come here legally, chances are you’d know the traffic laws a little better than you do. Yeah, I know a lot of people from here ignore little things like signaling before making a lane change (and you have no idea how much I hate that), but at least they were told. People who are driving illegally most likely have no idea about that. I’ll bet you the two extra hands I won in the last bet that they had no clue about that when they were driving around down in El Salvador. And if they did, who the hell cared?
So when this guy made his U-turn in the middle of Hwy 49, he probably had no clue about things like looking for motorcycles before doing it. I don’t know how well motorcycles sell south of the border, but the numbers can’t be that high. In fact, he was citing for “failing to yield.” Perhaps, if he’d come here legally, he would have learned about yielding.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
This is probably the most high-profile story that wrestling has been a part of since Vince McMahon's steroid trial. Ironically enough, steroids has brought the attention back to wrestling again. In fact, steroids seems to be the only thing that gets mainstream attention for professional wrestling.
And because of this tragedy, everyone is an expert on wrestling. Usually, the only thing you can get out of the average person on wrestling is a dismissive "that's so fake." But now, everyone's a virtual encyclopedia. Why, everyone knows that 63 wrestlers under 45 have died since 1980!
The "sport" that no one cares about and only stupid people with a missing chromosome watch suddenly has all these "caring" eyes on it. There's all this moral outrage about the rampant steroid abuse in wrestling and how the government needs to get involved to clean up this "pseudo-sport" that only "inbred hicks" watch.
So, to the mainstream media and everyone who doesn't watch wrestling, but insists on commenting about all this, I got two words for you...
Only wrestling fans are going to know what the hell I was just talking about.
See, what's wrong here is, the people on the outside don't know the culture of wrestling. They don't understand what these men go through. All they do is write them off as fat guys in tights pretending to hit each other. They don't acknowledge them as professional athletes who work the most brutal schedule in sports.
None of this is justification for what Chris Benoit did, but it is me pointing out the media's hypocrisy. For instance, where was their moral outrage when Brian Pillman died in his hotel room? Where was the concern when Owen Hart fell from the rafters of the Kemper Arena? Where was the slightest mention of John "Earthquake" Tenta's cancer?
But all of these men have been thrown on the list of wrestlers who have died of steroid abuse.
Fact: Wrestlers live a hard life.
Fact: A ton of wrestlers have died young in the last 20 years.
Fact: There are a lot of wrestlers who abuse drugs of all sorts.
Query: Did all of these wrestlers die of using steroids?
The fact is, Curt Hennig died of a cocaine overdose. The Junkyard Dog died in a car accident. Brian Pillman died from mixing painkillers and alcohol. Eddie Guerrero died of heart failure after years of previous drug abuse. Bruiser Brody was stabbed to death. Owen Hart died from a fatal fall. John Tenta died of cancer. Two of the Von Erichs killed themselves. Crash Holly choked on his own vomit. Chris Candido died of a blood clot becoming lodged in his heart. Yokozuna and Andre the Giant both died from heart failure due to their size. I believe Big John Studd died from the same thing. Dino Bravo was shot to death. Gorilla Monsoon died due to complications from diabetes.
That's a significant amount of deaths, but none of them involved steroids. That's not to say that none of them ever used steroids, that's just to say that steroids didn't kill any of them.
So next time you hear that particular stat come flying out of the mouth from some Bush-loving conservative, consider what the cause of death actually was. Yes, wrestling has it's problems that need to be taken care of. No one's denying that. But what wrestling doesn't need is the bitching and screaming of people who can't be bothered pay any attention to it when people aren't dying.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Chris Benoit is a murderer. Allegedly.
But then, he also killed himself, so I guess he won't be giving us any answers anytime soon.
I don't know why he did what he did and neither does anyone else. I do know that the news that he was dead shocked and hurt a lot of people. I know that there was a lot of speculation that THIS is exactly what went down in that house. As a result, I really don't know how I feel about Chris Benoit anymore.
As a wrestler, Chris Benoit, as far as I'm concerned was one of the five or six best wrestlers the world had ever seen. He was one of the wrestlers that could have a great match with almost anyone, and that made him a go-to guy when you wanted to get a guy some credibility amongst fans. He was constantly on the move in the ring, and there was never a wasted motion. He was one of the guys who actually made wrestling look real from time to time.
As a man, I never knew much about him. He wasn't one of those guys whose personality shone through. He was pretty much a blank slate, unlike Eddie Guerrero, who died two years before and was one of Benoit's best friends.
But now, Benoit, the man doesn't seem to be measuring up to Benoit, the wrestler. In fact, Benoit, the man doesn't seem to be measuring up to some of the junkies, abusers, pimps, and child molesters in the wrestling business.
ALLEGEDLY, Chris Benoit strangled his wife, Nancy (formerly known as Woman back in WCW), and smothered their 7 year old son, Daniel before hanging himself in the weight room. I say "allegedly," because that's what you're supposed to do at this stage, but let's face it. He did it. The cops said that they found him hanging in the weight room, and it doesn't take long for cops to verify that someone was strangled OR smothered. I'm sure we've all seen enough procedural cop shows to know that. So for all intents and purposes, he did it. The only questions are "Why?" and "What drugs was he on?"
As a result, the name Chris Benoit, instead of going down as one amongst wrestling's royalty, is probably going to be vilified from here on out. In the wrestling business, Chris Benoit could pretty much write his own ticket forever. Now, it's hard to even respect his accomplishments in the ring.
WWE.com has already taken down his bio, pulled his merchandise, and has removed almost every mention of him from their website and I'm sure many wrestling fans are becoming more and more confused as to how to react as this news become public. I know I am. I want to mourn him, but not like this.
Wrestling fans are a pretty forgiving lot, even back when we thought it was real. Heels would run down the fans every week, but when they turned face, they'd be cheered like nothing ever happened. Some, like Ric Flair, would turn every few months, and still get cheered like he didn't just have Sting jumped a couple of weeks ago.
The wrestlers that died of drug abuse, the Curt Hennigs, the Miss Elizabeths, and so on, were all treated as saints when they died. Jake "the Snake" Roberts, a notorious crackhead, is still beloved, even though his drug use is public knowledge. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who allegedly beat his wife, still receives the loudest cheers when he enters the arena, even more than the current champ, John Cena.
But I don't see Chris Benoit's legacy ever having a favorable slant again. At least, not in our lifetimes. Not after going out like this.
And because he went out like this, I can't mourn him. I just can't. Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig was one of my all-time favorite wrestlers, but after finding out he died from a cocaine overdose, I had to let go any of that. I don't have sympathy for drug users. I have even less for murderers. Even if I did think he was one of the greatest wrestlers ever.