Saturday, March 31, 2007

Billy Packer, Walter Herrmann, and the Revenge of Zach Randolph

Its Final Four Day, and I'm watching UCLA v. Florida as I write this. Watching the Pac-10 this year, I've come to expect this smothering UCLA defense. Whats never fails to impress me is their amazing ability to block out. After Florida misses a shot, watching the Bruins go to work is pretty fun. Joakim Noah was just boxed all the way out of bounds on a recent shot. Nice.

I don't root for UCLA often, but I'm really hoping they win today as I have had my fill of Noah's constant chest thumping and screaming, not to mention the constant cuts to his dad sporting the latest crazy Euro tennis player attire.

There was another interesting thing I noticed during today's Final 4 CBS Broadcast, and it came from Billy Packer (who as we all know, doesn't give a fuck what you think of him, which is awesome). If you need a quick reminder, Bill Simmon's article for is a good summary of the man who is the Voice of the Final 4.

Anyways, Jim Nantz (blah) asked the mandatory question towards the end of the Georgetown v. Ohio State game, and the conversation basically went like this:

"So Billy, what do you think of the Oden/Hibbard matchup we just saw?"

Billy: "Well, neither dominated the game. It wasn't Walton versus Kareem or Russell out there."

Nantz (blah): "Right, like many are quick to say they belong with them already. But do you see the potential for them to join that company someday?"

...crickets chirping for a few wonderful seconds of total silence......

Billy: "No."

Nantz (blah): "No!?!?!?!?!?!?! Errrrrgeeee My robot brain cannot handle opinions outside of the mainstream school of basketball thought!!!! SAVE ME BILLY!"

Billy: "I just think those players were just a different type."

And then instead of starting a good conversation that wasn't lame banter and making the same points over and over again, Nantz (blah) just rebooted his hard drive and moved on to talk about something else. Too bad Nantz sucks, I would have enjoyed hearing Billy's opinions about these two players. Nantz's ability to keep broadcasts free of originality and interesting topics is truly amazing.

Moving on, Zach Randolph is shutting it down for the rest of the year. I want him gone anyways, and I want the Blazers to lose more games to improve the outside chances of nabbing Durant, so this should be a good thing. But as of right now, I'm in the playoffs of fantasy basketball. Randolph is on my team. I had to pick up this guy as a replacement. There's only one explanation for this timing, Z-BO (or at the least, some posse member) reads my blog and is trying to sabotage me. Z-BO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (yelling while shaking fists at the sky)

Friday, March 30, 2007

Arenas wants you to understand...

Another great blog from Gilbert....

I've been a big fan of his, but I'm not claiming it was always like that. It was not until his second season in the League that I noticed him and decided to pay attention. It wasn't for any of the goofy stuff you hear about, at that point all I knew was what I saw on the court. His game was enough for me. Analysts started talking about him when they could, and the chatter has been on the incline ever since, although it seems to have plateaued in the last couple months.

Then with his increased shine, I learned more stories. A lot of people didn't know how to take it. All I saw was a man that wasn't afraid to have fun with the growing spotlight that his game put him under, he's himself. Its pretty sad, but in a world of vanilla press conferences and players viewing themselves as a brand, guys like Gilbert are incredibly refreshing and probably doing the league a world of good.

There's a lot of things I want to say about Mr. Arenas, but I'm way too tired right now to really get into it. Hopefully this blog will remind me to circle back to that one day.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I didn't mean for it to be this way...

This blog is quickly becoming a strictly trade Zach promotion. This isn't so bad, I just thought I had more things on my mind. You can't blame me, because how the Blazers handle Zach is currently the most important factor that will decide the future of the franchise. If they move him, and oh my god they should move him, what will they get in return? Go for some vets? Go for more youth? Just clear as much cap as possible? As of this moment I'm leaning on that third option. Give this young core at least a whole Randolph-free year, let them grow and develop more. Then hopefully the picture will be a little more clear as to what the Blazers really need to be back amongst the elite teams. Then wait for the right pieces to come along and deploy the cap space.

Good news, I'm not crazy. Dwight Jaynes from the Portland Tribune also noted how so many Blazer fans inexplicably continue to have Zach's back....If you have time, read some of the comments, people really don't like Dwight right now. How dare he report such things about Z-Bo! Let me get on my soapbox so these fans can hear me, the game isn't all about numbers stupid! Zach's inability to defend and play team-ball on either end are monumental issues on the court. He doesn't fit the style of the younger players because he's slow and can't get up and down with them, not to mention previously mentioned team-offense issues (as in he can't be involved in a motion offense, and can't consistently pass out of double teams, watch a game and note how when Zach gets the rock all the pinwheels stop-this crushes the rhythm of those other 4 guys). Off the court, well, do I really have to go there? I'm spent.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

3-0, Thanks Zach! March Madness???

Read my earlier posts, and tell me the latest on Zach Randolph is hurting the cause. This is only further evidence of a pattern of behavior that leads to nothing positive. There's nothing wrong with going to a Strip Club (well, maybe when you're taking time away from the team to supposedly grieve there is, but that's another topic), but the players who seem to go out and do these things a lot are more likely to end up in a bad situation. The Pacers, Pacman Jones, Damien Nash, I could keep going, but I think you get the point.

While Zach reminding us that he's an idiot probably helps in convincing other fans (and hopefully management) that he should be gone, it probably hurts his trade value. He hadn't gotten any kind of negative attention for a while, and we were hearing murmurs of a maturing Z-Bo. The more likely scenario: journalists hadn't caught him doing anything lately. We should've traded him before the deadline. With Zach, you are always living on borrowed time.

Reading through the comments left by readers after the article is interesting. A lot of people still have Zach's back, but the seeds of doubt are getting a little sunlight. The main reason I want him gone is because his style of play doesn't fit with the more mobile, active young guys. He does what he does, and thats all he does. No defense (why is nobody pointing this out more?), no movement on the offensive end (without the ball), and he is still struggling with adopting Coach Nate's crazy "pass the ball when you are double teamed" idea consistently.

The fact that he's insists on being a negative attention magnet is just another big reason to ship him off. This small window of time that has been Zach's bereavement has reinforced few things:

1) The Blazers can win (and in a style that is much more fun to watch) without Zach.

2) Zach is still an idiot.

3) Lamarcus Aldridge can play!

This time could go a long way in showing team management that Zach is not someone they need to hold onto. The timing of Zach taking a leave to grieve, the team subsequently going 3-0 in his absence, and Zach pulling a Zach once again should bolster the case. Oh ya, and LaMarucs Aldridge is averaging 21 ppg, 9 rebounds, 2.3 blks, and 0.33 turnovers in Zach's absence. Looking at all of this, how can you not want to trade Zach?

The more likely scenario that ends up getting Zach out of town? Lamarcus and Roy becoming bigger and bigger stars and having an increasing amount of offense geared towards them, leading Zach to pout and demand a trade. Hmmm, yet another reason to trade him before he demands it and we get less than we could by acting now.

Of course, I've been wrong before.

Off the topic, I have to vent about the NCAA's. Great games in the Sweet 16, and I'm realizing Jay Bilas is a prophet. I think it was him who I heard say on a bracket show before the tourney that there would be less upsets this year, due largely to the NBA's age limit creating more of a talent gap in college basketball. Well sir, you are correct. The average seed in the Elite 8 is 1.625 (shout out to Wisconsin!). The games have been great and competetive, with the higher seed usually winning out. This has done a slight hatchet job on my bracket, but beyond that I'm wondering if our days of regular big upsets and frequent Cinderellas are over. I wonder what Jay thinks...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

arguably hating the underdog, and mamba camps.

Kobe gets love

Wow, reading this article sends my head running in several directions at once. Firstly, let me say that I'm not a Kobe fan. I'm not a constant Kobe hater either. The lengths some people go to hate Kobe is surpassed only by the pedestal the Mamba lovers put him on. These two polarized camps are engaged in a battle that is pushing each other farther and farther from center. Maybe this article is just the latest manifestation of this. It's a strange thing to watch play out, and it must seem unbelievably insane to Kobe himself, who is just playing his ass off the best way he knows how.

What first attracted me to the Kobe article though, was that's front page link called him "arguably the greatest scorer ever." Hm. I know it's pointless to still bring this up, but its pretty annoying to throw "greatest ever" around. To paraphrase Kipp from Napoleon Dynamite's response to use of the term, like anybody could ever know that.

My newer beef with the Kobe link is the use of "arguably." Another tired tool used by everyone trying to puff someone or something up to levels they know it really doesn't achieve. It does make things easier though, so I may get behind it. Arguably, Dave McMenamin looks like a leprachaun.

I feel an rant coming on. I will control myself, because that rant would need its own blogging community (Unlike Fred Hickman, who as described earlier needs only his own blog, basically to explain whats up with those glasses). I know they're the NBA and they have to do what they have to do, but sometimes it's like they are trying to suck with those articles. Blandness acheived and perfected. The Clyde Drexler post game interview of websites. By the way, although I have not yet succumbed, he is putting me at risk for being sucked into Dancing With the Stars by being on there. I'm not real happy about this. In the interests of fairness, does have good box scores, stats, and the Arenas blog is there.

Switching topics, I was watching a little Southern Illinois vs. Kansas today. I have Kansas losing in the Finals in my bracket, so I was a big fan of them today. Then I realized every hoops fan fiber in my body was telling me to root for the Salukis during the game. The underdog, the overachiever, the scrapper. To my surprise, having a bracket filled out has been probably been undermining all of this for years. I'm not in any kind of pool with money on the line. Wow, if a meaningless bracket I filled out on yahoo can alter my behavior so much, my integrity as a real fan of the game has officially been compromised. I have nowhere to go with this topic, I just wanted to share my self-disgust. And of course, I'll continue doing the bracket thing.

Here's an article worth your time, Image paranoia is getting the best of the NBA. Ok, so she arguably gets carried away with comparing the current state of the NBA to period immediately after 9/11. Try not to let that discredit the whole article, there's some good points.

"People who believe the NBA is full of thugs will think that way no matter what. The NBA could play Paul Anka at every arena, ban rappers from NBA games, enforce haircuts and short shorts, but that isn't going to stop hip-hop fans from loving the game.

If anything, the NBA's tactics are only heightening the perception that the league is 'full of thugs.'"


What else happened in the NBA tonight that I could blog about, hmmmmm. Oh yeah, the Blazers won again without Z-Bo. Another point for the Trade Zach Movement.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Further Proof

I've been screaming all year for the Blazers to trade Zach Randolph. There are two obvious reasons:

1) He doesn't fit with the other young, talented players on the team (he's slow down iso on a team that wants to be more active, that deserves to be more active).

2) His value is at an all time high: he hasn't gotten into any new legal trouble, his numbers are great, his knee appears to be fine, and he's emerging as a leader. Looking at Zach's history, how long will all this continue?

What could the Blazers get for Randolph? He does still has that huge contract. Even so, it's hard not to believe somebody would bite on a Randolph deal. To my surprise, so many Blazer fans seem to be against the idea. An even larger number think about it, but the notion is still a little too uncomfortable. After all, Zach is the anchor. He's the closest thing to a star on the team at this moment. He's been around, we know him, and he produces.

I see this discomfort at the idea breaking down a little. See, since Zach didn't play against the Wizards the other night (attending a funeral), we got a glimpse at what these Blazers look like sans-ZBO. Here's the box score: Blazers vs Wiz. Sure last time these teams played (in Washington no less), the Blazers had Randolph and blew out the Wiz. But if you saw this was beautiful, active, loose basketball. The wheels of Blazernation started turning...

As I combed TrueHoop, I found some validation in the closing line (after describing the game):
"...who wants to make Portland an offer for Zach Randolph?"

TrueHoop is influential, Henry Abbott is revered amongst Blazer fans especially. This could be the starting point of swaying public opinion on a Zach Randolph trade. We really need Abbott to write something about how trading Randolph could land the final pieces to what would be an incredible team.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Lottery! I'm a LaFan! Fred Hickman! Kenny!

That heartbreaker in L.A., then the blowout in Portland. The Oregonian was gloom and doom the next day (what? seriously? SHOCKING!!!). Blazer fans as a whole seem to be down a little bit as a result of the recent losing. After getting over the initial sick feelings of seeing Portland blown out by the Sonics, at home, with Ray Allen playing a bad game, I'm actually happy. Everyone wants Portland to make the playoffs. Why? So we can get our heads beat in during the first round? Don't give me the "learning experience" of losing in the playoffs speech. I want one more year of lottery. Give me a shot. Give me a legit, NBA ready 3 if you can. Give me one more piece. Thaddeus Young? Sure. An outside chance at Oden or Durant? Yes please! Jianlian? Umm, maybe.

Put it this way, what sounds better: Getting swept and dominated by Dallas, thereby gaining this "great experience" I've been hearing about...Or one of the top 14 players of this year's allegedly stocked draft? Let's think playoffs in a year or two, and let the competent Blazers draft system try to snag another top gem.

I'm not sure if anyone will talk about it, but Raef called out Darius Miles in the Oregonian the other day. Well sort of. In my mind, for sure. Raef is talking about the being injured/wouldn't be playing even if he wasn't injured situation, and talks about how other guys in the league would just sit around and pick up their check. Actually, he adds "guys on this team." It reminded me of how Darius has dropped from our collective Blazer consciousness. We gave up caring enough to hope a while ago, this is evidence that we gave up caring enough to hate. Ouch.

Raef Article

Here's a cool article about Kenny Smith, my favorite NBA analyst of all-time. He's one of the few that consistently brings insight. I really miss his back page SLAM articles.

Kenny Smith

Fred Hickman's glasses are out of control. I think I could write a 9 million word blog about this. In fact, I could start a blog called I couldn't find a picture through my research that does it justice (I typed "fred hickman" into google image search), but if you've ever seen anything involving him on ESPN you know what I'm talking about. Then I wanted to know more about the man behind the nearly novelty glasses, so I checked him out on wikipedia, in a mostly heterosexual way. Here's an interesting passage:

"Hickman actually went bald on an episode of SportsCenter on September 21, 2006."

Ummmm, It's official, let the curiosity continue.....

Fred Hickman on Wikipedia

The best blog you never read

....was yesterday during Maryland vs. Butler. It was St. Patrick's Day. I made the incredible insight that lots of people in Portland drink coffee. Then my computer froze and all was lost. A sad day for us all.

Friday, March 16, 2007

3/16/07 - Watching Blazers vs. Lakers

Oh my god, somebody ISN'T watching the NCAA Tournament??? I switched over because I got frustrated when Villanova lost to Kentucky. I'm not really sure why.

The first thing I wish people would notice more is how the Lakers are experimenting with dimming the lights in the crowd during some of their games...

......Zach Randolph just dunked! The planets are aligning my friend.

...but I digress, I think that it is pretty cool (the lights thing, Z-BO dunking is not exactly poetry in motion). It makes it seem to be more like a stage. I wish the Blazers would try this so I could experience how it effects the experience of actually being there. I wonder, does it make the crowd more quiet? Like they're at the movies or something? Does that in turn weaken the homecourt advantage? The NBA should do some decibel testing, its hard to tell.

....Jack had a nice assist a few minutes ago, followed by a nice 3, and is playing good D. While I'm on it, anyone else noticing how Jack is unjustly becoming an afterthought since Sergio's emergence? When I hear talk of the Blazer's "great young nucleus," Jack's name seems to be getting mentioned less and less. I know Sergio is very good and very fun to watch, but let's keep in mind that Jack is currently finishing up just his SECOND year in the league. He runs the team well, and is pretty tough, he's veteranish already. He's like a lower-middle class man's Chauncey Billups, with Upper-middle class man's Chauncey Billups potential.

If your gonna throw anybody's name out of the "future" conversation, make it Zach's. I know he puts up the best numbers and all that right now, but aren't we talking future? He's the one who I have to watch stall the offense possession after possession (he likes to "size up" the defense, which involves holding the ball for 3-5 seconds and looking around before deciding what to do). And he's the last remaining guy who holds the very likely odds of continuing the "Jailblazer" stuff. He's having a GREAT season, numbers and leadership wise. Sounds like a great time to get something that will fit better with the big picture. I do love his favorite thing to mention whenever he gets in trouble, you know what I'm talking about. The whole "Portland is just a really small town with nothing going on so they pay a lot of attention to us cause they got nothing else to pay attention to" thing. Oh my bad Zach, you're right, it is OUR FAULT. I'm pretty sure in ANY NBA city, when the teams best player punches a teammate in the face, street races downtown, or is somehow implicated in a sex-scandal, its news. A lot of us really care about this team, forgive us for noticing when you continually decide to mess it up.

......Outlaw, back-to-back great dunks, followed by a silky baseline J. The enigma continues.

Another thing about the Lakers, I'm never going to get over Phil sitting on his throne. I mean "his throne" literally. Seriously, that chair he sits in on the sidelines is HUGE and nobody outside of the Blazers announcers and myself seems to talk about it enough. His shoulders are above his assistant's heads. Do you really buy the idea that he needs this for medical reasons? They should be poking fun of this on Sportscenter.

..........Udoka from the corner. How can you not love Udoka? I really hope he gets a good multi-year contract at the end of the year. And I hope Dan Dickau leaves. I also seem to be the only non-Dickau fan, at the last game I went to everytime he got the ball everyone around me was screaming "Shoot it Dan!!!!!" To be fair, they later redeemed themselves by a great discussion on how much Jamaal Magloire sucks ("As long as he doesn't get the ball, he's cool." So true, so true).

.........Zach is doing his mid 90's throwback iso-hold the ball for 15 seconds thing. Brick. It hurts more because he's on my fantasy team.

One last Lakers thing. Kobe may hate White guys. Mike Miller was the first to feel this. Ginobili. Jaric. If I were up against the Lakers in the playoffs, I would take any White guy on the roster and stick him on Kobe. Then of course, Kobe hits him in the face. He's suspended the rest of the game, given his history maybe a couple games of the series. Well, to get the League to give Mamba a multi-game suspension would be hard. It would have to be REALLY bad. You would have to get a REALLY White guy. Now I know why the Blazers signed Luke Schenscher.
....Things are getting chippy! Roy just hit a clutch lay-up and Odom went jawing at the Blazers bench, then Kobe and Jack were in a man-off stare. I love it, the Blazers don't lay down these days. Pride. I also love the Blazers announcers, "Thats the rookie of the year LA Lakers, and don't you forget it!" They hate the Lakers as much as I do. I hear a lot of people complain about announcers, but the Mikes bring it. They're way homer, which is actually more amusing than annoying to me. They were still complaining about a non-call against Roy at a game 2 weeks later. They're funny and passionate, it works. Keep it up fellas.
.....Mamba the 3 to tie. Zach misses a J badly on the attempt to break the tie. On to OT. Kobe has 56.
.....Aldridge a beautiful turnaround jumper from the baseline. Wow. I remember a guy from saying the Blazers have the 3 best rookies in the league. Maybe, but I would say they have 3 of the top 5. We gotta keep Millsap and Bargnani in there somewhere.
.....Play by play Mike notes how Blazers vs. Lakers games are always close, and that this is a great rivalry. I wish I had friends who liked the Lakers so I could verify that they view this as a rivalry. Actually I don't. But honestly, this could be one of those "rivalries." You know, where only one side views it as a rivalry. I remember when it was no doubt a rivalry (notice, no quotes!), I'm not sure it still is.
......Color commentator Mike giving a speech about how he doesn't throw the label "Warrior" often, but Ime Udoka is definitely a Warrior. Awesome. Webster just hit a clutch 3. Team Mike is still complaining about the refs. I love this. I'm explaining to my girlfriend that my blog is an attempt to save her from this stream of consciousness I have to voice about basketball. She's not interested. Blazers lose.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Birth of Deceptively Quick...

I realized I should maybe do a post about what this blog is all about. If for no other reason than for me to figure it out for myself. Basically, there's a lot of things in the world of basketball to talk about, and there's already multiple blogs for each one. Upon reflection, I think I started this blog for the following reasons:

1) I bought a new laptop, and I need to justify the purchase by using it a lot.

2) I recently graduated college and now I "just work." After multiple years of doing the work all you can/study all you can/have fun all you can cycle that is the modern college life for many (I don't know a whole lot of folks who had that "college experience" I hear about: lots of drinking/hanging out, go to class every once and a while/party party party. An increasing number of us have to grind hard to make it, wake up people!) Basically, I need another outlet for my thoughts and energy.

3) I am planning to go work abroad in the coming months, and I have this idea that blogging about basketball will help me feel connected to some familiarity in what will be a very unfamiliar place. Don't get me wrong, I'm going there to experience as many new things as I can. But my idea is that being able to sit down and write about the world I know will be comforting from time to time.

4) Oh ya, and I'm selfish. I think MY ideas should be out there more. There are things I think people don't talk about enough, and I'll try to focus on those. This is a good format for me to feel like I'm getting my own ideas out, whether anybody reads them or not.

If you follow sports, the name of the blog probably has a pretty obvious source. Just in case you're not, its the common way sports announcers (aka "experts") like to refer to White players who are athletic. I'm not mad about it, I'm not hoping to make any grand social commentary. I just always thought it was funny. I wanted to call this "Thinking Man's Basketball," because thats was a funny (to me) way I used to explain why I was a big fan of Temple's team when John Chaney was there. Then I realized people might take it to mean I'M the thinking man, and then the bar would be set too high. So I settled on deceptively quick.

I'm a big fan of the game of basketball itself. My favorite NBA team is the Portland Trailblazers, and I've always had a soft spot for the Indiana Pacers as well. I'm not sure where this blog will head, but as of now I'm happy to have the placenta wiped off.