NBA General

Around the Rim: Spurs and Suns get even more physical

Nash is mad as hell and he’s not
gonna take it anymore!

1. Wait; who won that game?
If you decided to turn in early last night and skip out on the end of Game 4 between San Antonio and Phoenix then shame on you. The Spurs were in control for almost the entire game, but almost was just enough space that the Suns needed and they put together a late surge that closed an 11 point gap and gave Phoenix a 104-98 victory that tied up the series at two games apiece. It was a stunning turn of events in SA as it looked like the Spurs were ready to take a commanding 3-1 advantage but it quickly fell apart as Tim Duncan got nailed to the bench with his fifth foul. As the game was coming to an end tempers began to flare as Robert Horry delivered a hard forearm shot that sent Steve Nash flying into the scorers’ table. A brief melee broke out with Horry, Nash and Raja Bell but the situation was quickly diffused as Horry was ejected from the game. However, what could prove to be quite costly was Amare Stoudemire‘s and possibly Boris Diaw‘s decisions to leave the bench area when the scuffle broke out. If David Stern decides to go by the book then their actions are worthy of an automatic one game suspension.

2. Cavs advance; well, almost

The Nets stuck around until the final buzzer but when the horn sounded it was Cleveland who had grabbed a 3-1 lead in the series and put themselves in an excellent position to finish this thing off at home on Wednesday. LeBron James is just one little victory away from etching his name into Cavaliers history by taking the team to their third conference finals ever. It has been 17 long, long, long years since the Cavs last made an appearance in Eastern Conference’s big show. And New Jersey made it a lot easier than it should have been as the Nets’ big three just couldn’t get anything going offensively because they combined for a pathetic 11-of-48 from the field. Sorry, Jay-Z, but that’s just not gonna cut it when King James is exploding for 30 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Cleveland fans finally have some positive postseason memories to hold on to; hopefully Michael Jordan’s runner over Craig Ehlo hasn’t been too damaging over the years.

3. Could Larry Brown and Greg Oden be a package deal?
It looks like Larry Brow is the top candidate for the open head coaching gig with the Grizzlies, but in typical Larry Brown fashion he’s not making any decisions until he’s sure he’s going to get exactly what he wants. And apparently what Brown wants is the same thing that every coach is desires, Greg Oden. The draft lottery will be held on May 22 which means that we should know exactly where the ol’ ball coach stands by the time the last logo gets pulled from its oversized envelope. Memphis has a great chance of grabbing the top pick which would give the Grizz a solid core for the Yoda-like guru to mentor into young Jedi masters. But the journeyman doesn’t have the patience these days to groom some stick figure into the defensive stopper that his systems so desperately require. It’s an all or nothing situation for Memphis in this year’s lottery. But, then again, we can’t imagine the Grizzlies being too disappointed if Kevin Durant falls into their laps.

Monday’s Player of the Day: Steve Nash @ San Antonio 41 min, 24 pts (FG: 8-12, 3FG: 2-3, FT: 6-8), 2 reb, 15 ast

Buzzer Beater: After two long years of singing the praises of Steve Nash, today we finally usher in a new era of elite as Dirk Nowitzki dons the MVP crown and reduces Nash from “reigning” to “former” MVP. Dirk will probably be so stoked during his press conference that he starts doing his best impersonation of German sensation David Hasselhoff during his acceptance speech. Not! But if Dirk started mumbling while picking at a plate of food with his shirt off, you’d have to admit that it would make for some entertaining television. Hell, we couldn’t really blame the guy if he did show up to the ceremony in a drunken stooper just like his childhood hero. It’s gotta be rough when your best friend and the previous MVP is still ballin while you’re having to pretend to be happy and smile for the cameras when all Dirk really wants to do is hide under a rock until training camp begins.

NBA General

Around the Rim: The Warriors’ grip slips

1. Another fight to the finish
The Warriors were down by 21 points in the first half of Tuesday’s Game 5 against Dallas, but a 3-point barrage helped them fight all the way back and take the game to another exciting finish. In the end, despite the fantastic comeback by Golden State, it was Dirk Nowitzki and his boys who barely made it off their home floor with a win, 118-112. Dallas was finally able to prevent the Warriors from getting all the way to the hoop in transition but it almost didn’t matter as GS went 16-of-35 from behind the arc. Now, the Warriors will take a 3-2 lead back to Oakland where a rowdy arena full of yellow-shirted fans will be going bonkers in hopes of seeing the first ever No. 1 vs. No. 8 upset in a seven game series. Golden State better treat this like a Game 7 because they won’t win in Dallas should the series return.

2. Marie Elie wants to be a rookie again

The Charlotte Bobcats are in need of a head coach to turn the franchise around and Larry Brown has been rumored to be in the running for the position. Brown has evolving pretenders into contenders for his entire career (minus that New York thing of course), but apparently the Cats aren’t quite ready to enter the cocoon. Well, maybe they are just exploring all their possible options because on Tuesday Charlotte interviewed former Rocket great Mario Elie for the head coaching vacancy. Elie might have potential but he’s not going to be taking this crummy team to the playoffs anytime soon. If the Bobcats decide to save some cash and go with Elie they can give their post season dreams the kiss of death.

3. Raptors almost blow a lead of Jurassic proportions
Game 5 between the Raptors and the Nets turned out to be a lot closer than anyone expected, especially Toronto’s fans. The Raptors were up by 17 in the second half but almost gave it away as New Jersey got to within two points at the final buzzer, 98-96. But hey, a win is a win and when you’re facing elimination you’ll take `em any way they come. Four of the five Toronto starters finished the game with double figures in scoring, the only one not to reach that plateau was T.J. Ford who went down in the first quarter after getting walloped and flopped on by Vince Carter. Eh, no biggie; Jose Calderon came off the bench to score a team-high 25 points to go along with eight assists. With a 3-2 Nets’ lead the series will shift back to Jersey for Game 6; maybe Chris Bosh will figure out how to be a post season All-Star by then after going just 3-11 for 11 points in the last game. Guess it was good that Ford got injured so Calderon could save the day.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Dirk Nowitzki vs. Golden State 40 min, 30 pts (FG: 7-15, 3FG: 2-3, FT: 14-15), 12 reb, 3 ast, 1 blk

Buzzer Beater: Chauncey Billups will become a free agent at the end of the year and there are tons o’ teams who are desperate to add the former Finals MVP to their squad. One unexpected team to be making at run at Billups is the former champs turned first round sweep victims, the Miami Heat. Now, talk about a dynamic duo in the backcourt; Billups and Dwyane Wade would make quite the formidable threat as the Heat tried to bounce back from their fall from grace. Personally, we don’t care where Chauncey ends up as long as it’s not with that retarded PA in Detroit as he stutters out Mr. Big Shot’s first name. Hell, we’d rather see Billups suit up with Memphis than stick around for another year of Detroit’s gi-gi-gi-gimmick.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Experiencing Technical Difficulties

1. Tech Vet
The NBA is buckling down on players complaining to officials, and technical fouls are on the rise as a result. Leading the way is the poster child for badmouthing, Rasheed Wallace, who has received four technical fouls and has one ejection on the year. While players, especially Wallace, are known to get out of line from time to time, all the blame can’t be placed on them. Referees are becoming far too whistle happy as they attempt to lay down the law early on in the season. Players argue that refs are removing the passion from the game; the league office says that they understand the emotional aspect of the game and that any heat of the moment reactions will not be penalized. However, the numbers tell a different story. In the first 51 games, 62 technicals were issued to 46 different players. Last season, through 50 games, only 20 technicals were issued. “It’s almost to the point where I’m like, well, I don’t want to go too hard because I am going to get psyched up and get a tech,” said Wallace. While Wallace has never been a model citizen, he has also never been swayed from playing with emotion, so if Sheed’s losing his passion for the game then something is definitely wrong with the system.

2. No Refunds
What is wrong with this picture? The New York Knicks, a 2-3 team that has not won 40 games in any of the past five seasons, have the highest payroll in the league, spending a whooping $140,595,134 for 2006-07. More than $45 million more than any other team! Chicago made the playoffs last year, added a high profile center in Ben Wallace to their lineup and is expected to compete for a division title this year, and the team’s salary is only $52,861,780. The ridiculous overpaying of players, regardless of talent level, is simply further proof that New York is currently the poorest run organization in the NBA. While it’s true that money talks, it, obviously, doesn’t motivate. At least Atlanta at $44,363,696 and Charlotte at $33,418,833 can afford to be pathetic.

3. Contract Sport
The Knicks were ordered to pay former head coach Larry Brown $18.5 million out of the over $40 million that was left on his contract when the team fired him after his team went 23-59. David Stern was made the arbiter of the case due to a clause in Brown’s contract. After 15 hours of testimony over a two day period, Stern was able to get both sides to settle. Gregg Popovich and George Karl are two coaches that have expressed concern over the way the ruling affects coaches in the future and whether a precedent has now been set. Coaches believe that their salaries should be guaranteed unless it is otherwise written within their contracts. Players receive full salaries despite poor performance or injury, so why shouldn’t a coach? New York was a poorly assembled team before Brown’s arrival, and to expect him to turn a group of b-ball toads into the 2004 Pistons or even the 1988 Jayhawks in one season is ridiculous. The Knicks organization offered him the deal, the Knicks organization fired him before his contract was up and the Knicks should be forced to pay Brown the remainder of his cash. Then again, Zeke always was a threat to pick somebody’s pocket

4. The Big Boo-Boo
Shaquille O’Neal has been bitten by the injury bug after playing in only two games and has now missed two games. Shaq missed 23 games last year after an injury early in the season, and while the Heat’s main concern is having O’Neal ready for the playoffs, they certainly don’t want to have to rely on Dwyane Wade to shoulder the load as he did last season. Wade had to step-up and carry the seven foot giant on several occasions last year when O’Neal played like a Datsun instead of a Diesel; including the Finals where Wade averaged 34.7 per game and chauffeured Shaq to his fourth championship parade. Pat Riley would love to have Superman and Flash at 100 percent because, this year, the weight of an aging franchise with a target on it’s back might be too much to overcome for any one hero.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Gilbert Arenas vs. Indiana 32 min, 40 pts (FG: 14-20, 3FG: 4-6, FT: 8-9), 1 reb, 4 ast, 3 stl

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Chicago (2-2) @ Cleveland (2-2) This could be a preview of the eastern conference championship in the next few years. Both teams are up and coming and both are trying to be the team to take the central division away from the Pistons. LeBron James will have to get past a four time defensive player of the year, Ben Wallace, if he is going to provide fans with one of his aerial showcases at the rim. Tim Duncan knows from personal experience that being defensive minded isn’t always enough to keep from appearing on the wrong end of one of James’ highlight dunks.

New York Knicks

We should be so lucky as to work for the Knicks


Do you want to make money for doing nothing? Would you like to sit at home all day and watch the cash rolling in? Then apply now to be part of the Knicks organization! It’s simple. Just convince Isiah Thomas and James Dolan that you have what it takes to be a Knickerbocker and then do a horrible job. They won’t simply fire you, they’ll pay you money to go away! Brilliant.

Today, the Knicks bought out Jalen Rose’s contract for $15M. Jalen Rose is such a waste of space that the Knicks would rather pay him $15M than have him in uniform this year for his $16.7M salary. We’re not sure what that says about the Knicks or Jalen Rose.

Meanwhile, David Stern also negotiated the settlement of Larry Brown’s contract. Remember Larry Brown? He was fired for doing a tremendously shitty job with $40M left on his contract. Instead of taking his firing as a defeat, Larry decided to ask for $52M. To paraphrase Nick Hornby, that’s like getting rejected by a girl attempting to reach second and trying for third base instead.

Part of the settlement required that neither side discuss the dollar amount but legal experts think LB will get over $30M. So there you have it folks, the Knicks probably paid at least $45M today to tell two people to stop working for them. Hey New York fans, how’s your cable bill these days?

[NY Daily News]: Larry, Knicks bury hatchet

[NY Daily News]: Rose: $15M to walk away
[Miami Herald]: Heat eyes Jalen Rose

New York Knicks

Larry Brown is just getting greedy

Needs another $12.5M for a
new sweater

When Larry Brown was fired from the New York Knicks after a disaster of a season, we figured that Larry would demand the rest of his contract to be paid up and then they’d settle for something close to $41 million but not quite. Well it turns out that Larry Brown thinks he deserves more than the full $50 for his one year of service. On top of the remainder of his $50M contract, LB has asked for another $12.5M for “liquidated damages” and attorneys fees.

Let’s see, $62.5M for 23 wins works out to $2.7M per win. Isn’t it amazing that Larry Brown actually thinks he deserves MORE money for getting fired? Most people would just slink away with a $41M lump sum check and call it a day but not Larry, he wants to collect the money “the right way”. Sadly some other team will be desperate enough to hire Larry Brown to turn their franchise around and Larry will collect yet another paycheck. The man is a genius.


New York Knicks

James Dolan is the worst owner is sports

When people talk about bad owners, it usually conjures up the image of the miserly bean counter who won’t spend any money to make the team any better. However, sometimes it’s the guy who will spend any amount of money but has no clue what he’s doing and continually sabotages the team with his mistakes. The poster boy for clueless ownership is James Dolan.

At a press conference today, Dolan cemented his status with the following:

  • Told the press that Isiah Thomas had one year to turn the team around or he will be fired. Something which Thomas didn’t appear to be aware of.
  • Said that Larry Brown wanted to release 6 players whose contracts totalled $180M. Among the 6 were Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury, and Jerome James. Note that the NBA has guaranteed contracts.
  • Said that wanting to release those 6 players was Larry Brown’s way of forcing Dolan to fire him. Accused Brown of having no intention of coaching more than one year when he signed the five year contract with the Knicks.

Let’s just focus on his ultimatum to Isiah Thomas shall we? It’s fine to put Isiah on notice in private but calling him out in public? First, it puts undue pressure on Isiah and will become a press conference question after every game in the second half of the season. Second, how is Isiah supposed to motivate his team (we actually don’t think he can anyway) if, say, they are struggling by the all-star break and the players know that he’ll get fired by the end of the season. Why bother busting you hump for a coach who won’t be there? They didn’t do it for Larry Brown, who’s actually a good coach, they won’t do it for Isiah Thomas.

We can’t wait for the vegas over/under on number of Knicks wins next season. We’re going to peg it at 25.

[NY Post]: Thomas gets fair warning
[NY Daily News]: Dolan places Isiah on deck

New York Knicks

Larry Brown Fired! Isiah Thomas takes over Team Titanic


After months of speculation, the Knicks made it official today and fired Larry Brown after just one year. Taking over will be Isiah Thomas who now wears three hats: coach, GM, sexual harasser.

The buyout of Brown’s contract could cost the Knicks as much as $40M. James Dolan issued this statement.

Larry has had a long and storied career. We hired him last summer with the expectation that he would be with the Knicks for a long time. Sometimes decisions work and sometimes they don’t. After careful consideration, despite the best intentions from everyone involved, this current structure did not work for us last season and I did not think it was going to improve next season.

We’re waiting for Vegas to post the over/under on the number of wins for the Knicks next season but one thing we know for sure, NY residents can expect a rise in Cablevision prices. Meanwhile, in Boston, Philly, New Jersey, and Toronto, coaches and GMs rejoice.

[ESPN]: Knicks fire Brown, name Thomas new coach

All Other Sports

Odds and Ends for Tues May 23 2006: You know what the problem with old people is?

Perfect game… whatever. His
turn signal is still on.

They’re making the rest of us look bad. Rex Cooper, an 81 year old, bowled a perfect game at the Simi Valley’s Brunswick Valley Bowl. Why are there so many stories of old guys bowling perfect games and hitting holes in one? It’s probably God’s way of rewarding them for living so long.

In other news…

[NY Post] Speaking of old guys… Larry Brown goes to work.

[Miami Herald]: FSU rescinds basketball scholarship from recruit who was arrested for having cocaine “in the crack of his buttocks”.

[YAY Sports]: Why does Dirk Nowitzki have shaved pits?

[NOLA]: NBA awards New Orleans All-Star Game for 2008

[Jes Gobez]: Edmonton fans drinking up all the beer

[The Baseball Journals]: How the $450 million sale of the Nationals equals $100 million

New York Knicks

Larry Brown is smarter than James Dolan

Larry Brown’s agent said that LB is not going anywhere and that he will either coach the Knicks or be fired. It might seem foolish to turn down a $25M buyout but why settle for $25M when you can get fired and get the whole $40M?

In Brown’s world, it’s better to be fired than to be thought of as a quitter. Either way, there will be a few GMs lining up to hire Brown as their next coach but if he’s fired, it’s the stupidity of the Knicks management, not because he quit on his team. He’ll just tell the next GM that it’s not until the second year of his plan, after he’s torn the team down, that the players start buying into his system and he can rebuild it back up.

Larry will end up getting 3 paychecks for 1 job. Man that guy is a genius. Everyone knows Larry’s M.O. yet they fall for it every time. Larry is all about Larry. The money, the accolades, the ego. It turns out Larry Brown is the T.O. of the NBA. Sure he’ll get you results but you’ll end up with a ton of grief dealing with his crap.

[NY Daily News]: Knicks a real horror show

New York Knicks

Just when you thought Team Titanic couldn’t get worse

Who’s the sucker?

MSG Chairman James Dolan is reportedly going to buy out Larry Brown’s $50M contract and have Isiah Thomas coach the team. If the 2005-2006 season (23-59) for the New York Knicks was like hitting the iceberg, then this news is like a meteor striking the ship while capsized.

We laugh at the Yankees for paying about $2M per win but if Brown gets bought out for the entire amount, that works out to about $2.2M per win just to pay the coach. Money, meet toilet.

Let’s talk about Isiah Thomas first. Here’s a guy who couldn’t coach a talented Indian Pacers team out of the first round of the playoffs, who got dismissed by the Pacers, and who bankrupted and destroyed an entire league. Now Dolan wants to get rid of his hall of fame coach so that Zeke can get even less out of the league’s highest payroll? If Isiah Thomas gets the job, it’s only a matter of time before Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury fight each other to the death to decide who runs the asylum. The rest of the Atlantic division must be rejoicing at this news.

Now, let’s talk about Larry Brown. Has anyone else in the league been able to get paid by more people for doing less? He got Detroit to pay him $7M to leave and now he’s going to get NY to pay him up to $40M to take a job elsewhere. Here’s a note to the kids everywhere. Your goal in life is not to make a lot of money. Your goal in life is to get such a good reputation that you can screw over franchise after franchise and still have people lining up to hire you. Sacramento, you’re next up.

[NY Daily News]: Money must grow
in Dolan’s Garden