This could be a bit aggressive considering we were once two wins away from going to the NBA Finals, but I dare say that this moment in Timberwolves history provides more reason for Wolves fans to be excited about our team than any other point. We are currently blessed with a talented young core that hopefully can “grow up” together and blossom into a title contender within the next few years. With so much to be excited about, I thought I’d share precisely what I love most about each of our young core guys, which I’ll define as under 30 and could factor in to our potential future playoff runs.
If you’ve read my work before, you know that I can get fired up. Yeah, I write a lot of stupid stuff completely in jest, basically hoping to get other people going, but every now and then, I legitimately have to get some things off of my chest. This blog would be one of those times. I don’t know how I can get so worked up every year about the NBA screwing up the All-Star team selections, but it’s become an annual ritual, and it will continue to happen until Adam Silver finally comes to his senses and lets me fix everything about the NBA, including allowing me to pick the All Star teams each year. Continue Reading
The National Basketball Association just may be the most popular league in the entire world. Soccer is by far the number one sport in the world, but soccer fans are divided in following one of the top leagues like the Premier League, La Liga, or Bundesliga. I guess if you count the Champions League the NBA isn’t quite number one, but either way, David Stern, along with the help of Magic, Larry, and Michael took a league that was hardly alive and made it known by every sports fan in the world. So one would think the wonderful Association wouldn’t need to be fixed. Well, just like how the NBA cares, so does your favorite blogger about his favorite league, and as we head into Adam Silver’s first full season as commissioner, here are my ways to fix the NBA so it can be even more perfect than it already is. Continue Reading
Okay, so I just woke up from my postgame nap after getting up at 6:30 this morning to watch TJ Oshie and USA hockey vanquish the Russkies on their home ice, and I’ve decided to get back in the saddle and end my blog’s ridiculous drought of posts. I’m overflowing with patriotism and after watching the NBA’s Rising Stars challenge last night and the rest of NBA All Star Weekend looming, I’m in the perfect mood to write a blog I’ve had on my mind for about a week now.
I was watching Olympics last weekend and I noticed that Norway was stocking up on medals in nordic skiing and gaining the lead in the medal count, and I thought, it’s such bullshit that a country being the best at a stupid fringe sport like cross country skiing gets to rack up tons of medals because of the multiple events in the same sport and multiple entrants in each event for the same country. I think we can all agree that it’s silly that a team sport competition like basketball (or hockey, if we want to be topical) takes about two weeks to determine a winner, and then that gold medal counts as one medal in the count. Lame. Unfair. Team sports absolutely should be worth more, but also there should be more events for basketball, which I guess 3 on 3 is on its way, but 1 on 1 should absolutely be an event, and you could even throw in 3 point shooting and dunk contest. If they can judge triple axels they can judge 360 windmills. Now, on top of adding these extra events, why should the US be limited to one team in basketball? We’re so much better than everybody else, why should we be forced to settle for one gold when we could easily sweep the podium and shut out the Spaniards, Argentinians and Frenchies. So here is my triple Dream Team, if you will, or as I called it in the title: The 3 Headed Monster of USA Basketball.
I should mention that in choosing these teams, I tried to keep the squads young, much like actual Team USA, but I kept the vets that have been playing lately. The other big thing is I assumed everyone is healthy. Obviously Rose, Kobe, Westbrook, etc. are battling injuries right now, but the hope would be that in 2016 they would all be 100% and good to go. This is a fantasy, after all, so I can make that rule. Okay, now, here are the teams.
|Team Red||Team White||Team Blue|
|G||J. Wall||Rondo||K. Irving|
|G||B. Beal||Korver||K. Thompson|
|G/F||L. Stephenson||Iguodala||Jimmy Buckets|
|F||G. Monroe||K. Leonard||Bosh|
|F/C||A. Drummond||D. Jordan||B. Lopez|
Tell me, how is Spain beating any of those teams? I know they would stack their roster while we’re taking the risk of wearing a bit thin, but the beauty of these rosters is that they’re structured with more natural pecking orders of who’s getting the ball in late game situations and I’ve even sprinkled in some specialists. Let’s analyze these teams a bit more.
Probably the most stacked starting lineup, thus, they have a less experienced bench. Even though LeBron is obviously the centerpiece of this team, I don’t think there’s any question that Chris Paul would assume the leadership role. Funny thing about this team is that we don’t have a true power forward in the starting lineup, but both Melo and LeBron are big small forwards, and LeBron can guard all five positions so this doesn’t concern me in the least. Here are a couple lineups I foresee:
Crunch Time: Howard, LeBron, Melo, Harden, Paul (with Stephenson/Harden exchanging defense for offense in certain situations)
Small Ball Sharpshooting: Aldridge, Melo, Parsons, Beal, Paul
Lockdown D/Full Court Press: Howard, LeBron, Stephenson, Wall, Paul
Big Lineup: Howard, Aldridge, LeBron/Melo, Harden, Wall
One thing about this lineup is it is lacking in shooters maybe just a tad, but Melo tends to be very efficient in international play, and LeBron James really covers up so many of a team’s deficiencies that I tend to not worry about much with him involved in any lineup. With this starting lineup, this team probably looks like the A Team, so I’ve given Coach K the reigns after his years of service to USA Basketball, even if he is the evil face of Dook basketball.
We’re getting the old dynamic duo of Phil and Kobe back together! If they can get 5 Larry O’Brien trophies why can’t they get one gold medal, right? Here are some lineups I like:
Crunch Time: Starters. Korver for George for free throws if we’re protecting a slim lead with the ball. Rondo for Westbrook potentially if Russell is being difficult.
Small Ball/Sharpshooting: Love, Leonard, Korver, Kobe, Lillard
Lockdown D/Full Court Press: Hibbert/Jordan, Griffin, 2 of Leonard/George/Iguodala for the 2 and 3 spots, Westbrook (Jordan for pressing, Hibbert ideal for halfcourt)
I could see Kobe and Westbrook clashing a bit at times since they both need the ball so much, but that’s why we have Rondo as a trustworthy caretaker of the offense if we have to give Russell the hook. I think Phil is far more capable of handling Westbrook’s dynamic personality than Scott Brooks anyhow, so I don’t worry too much.
My dark horse squad, the blue team. Can’t go wrong with the Slim Reaper as your go-to guy with the year he’s currently having. And D Wade is coming off the bench a la his magnificent Redeem Team performance. Let’s look at some lineups.
Crunch Time: Starters, but I’d maybe go with Curry at point, and Wade at 2 if we want a little more defense in some games.
Small Ball/Sharpshooting: Bosh, Durant, Thompson, Curry, Irving (my favorite small ball lineup of all of them)
Lock Down D/Full Court Press: Chandler, Davis, Butler, Wade/Thompson, Rose
Big Lineup: Chandler/Lopez, Cousins, Durant, Thompson, Rose/Wade
I don’t see a single downside to this lineup. It’s probably the one that fits together the best with all of its pieces. Popovich is the perfect coach to tinker with those lineups, too. And much like Team Red with LeBron, any weakness you think you might see kind of fades away if you plug in Durant.
So who got snubbed? Deron Williams comes to mind. Josh Smith, maybe. Taj Gibson is a personal favorite that I left off. You can let me know in the comments.
So the final question is, who wins the gold? I think Team Red would be the odds on favorite in Vegas, but I personally would put my money on Team Blue. They’d probably be the best value bet and I just want to roll with Popovich and my guy Derrick Rose. But let me know who you think and vote!
The realm of sports is one full of arguments. Since not everything is quantifiable, and you can pick and choose certain statistics to make your argument, debates about the comparisons of players and teams are an exercise in futility. Rarely is someone won over by a clever argument. People stay rooted in their opinions, but hey, at least you passed the time with a shouting match or two. Well, here’s the ultimate debate that can be neither won nor lost by anyone: who are the best and worst sports commentators? There’s no way to measure this one at all, so it comes down to pure preference. Sounds like a great idea for a blog post to me!
Sideline Reporters – They may be the sports broadcasting equivalent to the appendix, but I’ll rate them anyhow.
Ric Bucher – Actually has meaningful inside information for the viewers during NBA games.
Craig Sager – I love his crazy suits gimmick. Sports is entertainment, and that’s what he provides.
Erin Andrews – I think every male sports fan in America has had a crush on her at some point.
Tiki Barber – He’s so disliked by everybody, that NBC demoted him to the lowly sideline reporter. I don’t care to notice if he’s doing a good job or not, I just don’t like him.
Tony Siragusa – He’s just a giant ball of unintentional comedy. I don’t care if he’s paid in pregame meals only, it’s too much for the amount of actual work he puts in screwing around on the sidelines.
In-Studio Analysts – They seem to be multiplying.
NBA on TNT crew – Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Shaq, and of course, everybody’s favorite: Charles Barkley. These guys have great knowledge of the NBA as past players, and better yet, they’re hilarious personalities.
FOX NFL Sunday crew – Terry Bradshaw and Michael Strahan are the standouts for actually being interesting personalities, but overall, they’re the most solid NFL group out there.
Chris Berman – This may be sacrilege to some, but I’ve never been a “Boomer” guy. Whether it’s “He Could…Go…All…The…Waaayyy!” or “Whoop!” or changing the volume and tone of his voice like he’s doing a Jiminy Glick impersonation, I’m not impressed.
Emmitt Smith – He didn’t last too long in his role at ESPN. Here’s why.
Color Commentators – Who’s the blow-hardiest of them all?
Bill Raftery – Raftery always shines the brightest during the Big Dance, where he always uses my favorite calls like “Onions!” or “With a kiss!” and of course, he’ll always be remembered for “Send it in Jerome!” It’s hard to find someone who loves his job more than this guy.
Jon Gruden – I get it, he’s a bit over the top. He gushes over each and every quarterback he covers, and everything is described in superlatives. But that’s why I love him. He throws caution to the wind, and I find his unbridled enthusiasm contagious and mesmerizing.
Jeff Van Gundy – Somebody needs to tell this guy he’s not a comedian. Although, despite his failed stand-up act while broadcasting, and his terrible basketball opinions, I still find this hilarious.
Phil Simms – Bland. Somehow never ceases to annoy me when he doesn’t pronounce the “h” in “him” (sounds like “eem”). And finally, he and his partner Jim Nantz are huge AFC homers, and they also both won’t stop lavishing Bill Belichick and Tom Brady with heaps of praise.
Dick Vitale – I have hated the Dook Blue Devils for almost my entire life, and that’s largely where my distaste of Mr. Vitale stems from. On the surface, it may seem like disliking Vitale makes me a hypocrite since I just praised Raftery and Gruden. I contend that while Gruden and Raftery do get a little over the top sometimes, they both add a lot of great bits of wisdom and analysis during the game, while Vitale is more of a cartoon character at this point. He’s obligated to say as many of his ridiculous made up terms like “PTPer” and “Diaper Dandy” as possible during a 2 hour broadcast while still leaving enough time to shout “Awesome baby!” from the top of his lungs 50 times. Oh yeah, and he loves Dook and Coach K way too much.
Play-by-Play Guys – Whatever would we do without them?
Gus Johnson – Gus is like a play-by-play volcano. He’ll calmly describe the action with his catchphrases like “Rise and fire” and “Pure”, but when a game’s excitement level rises, Gus erupts! And boy does he ever! And then once he reaches that level, he just may not ever stop screaming into the microphone, but I love it. Check out this sweet Gus Johnson soundboard.
Kevin Harlan – His voice is God’s gift to sports fans. He gets nearly as excited as Gus when a great play is made, but he manages to stay coherent. I’m somewhat biased in Harlan’s favor since he used to be the voice of the Timberwolves, but he’s clearly worthy of this honor as he is TNT’s #2 NBA guy (behind the legendary announcer I’m about to mention next) and also scores bonus points for having the versatility to call football on the radio for Westwood One. That’s excellence in two sports and two different types of media.
Marv Albert – Bizarre personal issues aside, Marv is the best in the business. He balances articulate description of the action while letting the game breathe. He knows when to keep an even keel, and when to ramp up the intensity when a big play goes down. He correctly defers to his color commentator for technical basketball info, and you can’t deny the man has a voice of solid gold for the broadcast booth. Lastly, you have to acknowledge the accomplishment that was his voice being used as the model for the NBA Jam announcer.
Bob Costas – I look up to my dad a lot, and so ever since my father declared that he strongly disliked Bob Costas, it’s been easy for me to despise him. And since I’ve grown old enough to come up with opinions completely on my own, it hasn’t been tough to stick with that stance toward him. To be honest, his play-by-play acumen isn’t that bad, it’s more of his interviews and monologues that annoy me so much that I can’t stand to hear his voice anymore. Go away, Bob.
Joe Buck – He’s arrogant, smug, and bland. Joe Buck infamously called the “helmet-catch” play in Super Bowl XLII, and it sounded more like he was calling a game of croquet. Of course, I also have personal reasons for not liking him, because I think his description of the Randy Moss fake mooning incident at Lambeau was the beginning of a massive overreaction that was part of the reason why my favorite football player of all time was run out of town. I may or may not have a problem with holding grudges.
Al Michaels – To me, Al Michaels is the worst play-by-play guy in all of sports. You may ask yourself, “How can this be? Look at his resume. He uttered ‘Do You Believe in Miracles!?!’ for crying out load.” I realize all that. He’s obviously somewhat popular, otherwise why would he keep getting jobs? But to me, Al is a pioneer in the worst of ways. I believe that he is the originator of a disturbing trend among play-by-play guys today: Interjecting their own opinions and commentaries on the game as if they are somehow “experts” or stand on some sort of moral high ground. Al has called so many football games in his life, that he actually thinks that he knows more about the game than the coaches, the refs, his partner in the booth, etc. It drives me crazy when he attempts to analyze the X’s and O’s of the game. Suppose he has absorbed that knowledge through his work over the years; it’s still against the natural structure of a broadcast booth for him to try and do the color commentator’s job. To top it all off, Al just plain talks too much. He’s a TV guy, and yet he attempts to describe every play with so much detail that he must think all of his audience is blind (perhaps he should switch to radio). I can’t wait until this guy retires.
There are loads of announcers that I didn’t bother mentioning, mainly out of apathy. I lean towards disliking most of them, but for the most part they just aren’t good or bad enough to care about. So if you’re disappointed that I didn’t mention someone for their greatness or incompetence, or perhaps you hate my opinions on who’s good, bad, or ugly, let me know.
Who’s got an appetite for some opinionated takes on a variety of topics? I hope you are if you’re reading this.
I know that this is a couple weeks old now, but I still wanted to weigh in on it. I’m annoyed on multiple levels of this story, but the one that annoys me the most is that girls are allowed to compete in male sports to begin with. You can tell me all that Title 9 nonsense that she wouldn’t have an opportunity to compete in a female equivalent sport if she weren’t allowed to wrestle, and my response is: tough. Play a girls sport. You’re a girl. Just so we’re clear, I think girls do deserve opportunities to compete in athletics, but Title 9 only protects girls and women; it doesn’t protect equality for all. Boys are still not allowed to play girl sports if there isn’t a male equivalent (such as volleyball in my home state of Minnesota). If you come back with, “well that would be unfair, because boys are stronger and more athletic”, then isn’t that the reasoning for why girls shouldn’t be competing physically with boys in the first place? As the boy in Iowa stated, wrestling is a “combat sport” and can get “violent” at times. As boys we’re taught from an early age that the last thing on earth you should ever do is be violent towards a girl. I’m glad that the boy stayed true to his convictions and refused to hurt her, but it’s disappointing that he cost himself a chance at a state title, and that the Iowa high school league would put him in that awkward predicament. I also wonder what the kid meant when he cited his faith for the reasoning of not competing against the girl. The general assumption has been that he’s some sort of Christian, and yet, I can’t think of any amount of scripture that singles out violence towards women as wrong, over violence as a whole as wrong. If the sport is so very violent that it’s a safety risk, then perhaps from a Biblical point of view it shouldn’t be a sport at all. Just so you know, I don’t believe that, I’m just challenging the kid’s statement. Anyhow, shame on all you girl wrestlers, football players, and even you Amanda Bynes, along with all the organizations that allow this injustice to continue.
I was absolutely dumbfounded when I saw the story on ESPN.com. Apparently, Iran thinks that a logo (pictured below) for the 2012 Olympic games being held in London is “racist”, because it resembles the word “ZION”, which is a Biblical reference to the city of Jerusalem. Let’s take a look at this logo, for starters.
I don’t know if they read bottom to top and right to left in Farsi, but even if they do, the numbers don’t really resemble ZION to me. Wouldn’t 2012 resemble ZOIZ? But if you want to say 2012 resembles something racist, how is that the logo’s fault? The games fell on 2012, what are we supposed to do? Second of all, how is the word “Zion” racist? So it refers to Jerusalem in the Bible. So what? How is that hating on or glorifying any race? It’s referring to a place. A place where many Muslims (I’m sure not that many Iranians) live. The lines of race and religion get all blurred in that part of the world, so that’s why I brought that up, but the word “Zion” itself is not discriminatory. Finally, this is the world’s message to Iran: Huh? Do you guys even compete in the Olympic games? Okay, have fun by yourselves. We don’t care! Fun fact: Michael Phelps won 4 times as many medals in Beijing than the entire country of Iran did.
3. Wisconsin labor protests
I’m not aware enough to know all of what’s going on there, but I still have an opinion (wow, I just opened the doors for people to call my take ignorant, didn’t I?). I’m skeptical of the Republicans’ side saying that these moves are just to balance the budget, since the unions have expressed interest in making cuts, as long as they can save their collective bargaining. I’m accusing the Republicans of playing politics. My reaction is: cool. Countless other occupations all survive with fair wages and benefits without collective bargaining in place for the employees, so these ones will too. The only reason they have these great benefits and wages that are more than the state can sustain is due to collective bargaining. Sounds to me like they’re fixing the source of the problem, and it works out for them politically, because the unions are a bunch of Democrats. The Democrats are fighting just as hard to save the unions because it works out for them politically. It makes sense. What doesn’t make sense, is legislators running and hiding because they’re afraid of losing. What a bunch of bed wetters. I wish Teddy Roosevelt was here to whip them into shape.
4. NFL Lockout Looming
I think I’m the only guy in the world who’s rooting for the NFL to not have a season next year. This is motivated by two things: My team is abysmal right now, and so I don’t feel like I’d miss another 6-10 season, and also I’m annoyed by the NFL trying to dominate my life. Goodell has pissed me off from the moment he took the commissioner’s office, and I want the NFL to be humbled by a lockout under his regime. I want my draft Saturday back with rounds 1-3! I don’t care about players’ “conduct detrimental to the league”! I want decent Super Bowl half time and National Anthem performers. I don’t want 18 games, and I don’t need the owners making more money. I am in favor of a rookie pay scale similar to the NBA’s. So, I side with players in this dispute. They’re the ones who’s livelihood is on the line out on the field, and their careers last far shorter than the average owner owns a team.
5. NBA: Best shape its been in since Jordan
I don’t like the dumb argument that having these super teams hurts the league. It’s going to make the playoffs unbelievably entertaining, and already this regular season has been fantastic, as long as you’re not watching a Pacers versus Bobcats matchup. Part of my motivation for cheering for the NFL lockout is that so the NBA can get their labor dispute fixed quickly, have a season next year and steal a bunch of the NFL’s popularity while it’s up for grabs. This may be a pipe dream, but if you just watch the games, you’d know how good it is and what you’re missing out on when you’re watching the Pro Bowl pregame instead of Laker-Celtics. I do think the best thing for the league would be to contract and improve the quality of play altogether, but I’ll cover that in a later post.