Friday, February 29, 2008

Speaking of a lack of Blazers talk...

Considering this is a blog about the Blazers, I'm noticing there has been a startling lack of Blazer related stuff getting thrown around here recently. My bad. I'm not certain why this happened, but I'm sure it has something to do with the Blazers being hard to watch when missing both their MVP and their NMVP.

I suppose I could've written about how bad thing will suck under these conditions. Or I could've rehashed the optimism of "playing without Roy and James gives the other guys a great opportunity" thing. Eh. Maybe I've hit a blogger-rookie wall of sorts.

As I'm refocusing, I'll just go ahead and spew up some random things circling my mind at the moment. Maybe some will grow into full individual posts at some point:
  • Have the Blazers given up on Sergio? Hear me out on this. The guy has been getting inconsistent play all season, and averaging just 9.3 minutes per game. But over the last 5 games, he's averaged just 6 minutes per. Factor in the strong perimeter need the Blazers have had recently with injuries to James Jones and Brandon Roy, and it seems even more strange. Its only 5 games, and Sergio never has gotten many minutes, but its something to keep an eye on. After a disappointing summer league/training camp, has Nate finally convinced KP this guy won't work?
  • I like Von Wafer. Yes, I was sad to see Taurean Green go. But Wafer has some things going for him. Before the Clippers game I heard Jason Quick say he was brought in as a practice player. Because, you see, Roy previously had to spend scrimmages being guarded by Sergio or Green and this just wasn't very representative of actual games. My take is that it seemed to be working just fine. But thats me. Then Wafer came out and impressed in that ugly win against the Clippers after only one practice with the team (while Sergio collected another DNP). I hope we get to see more Wafer down the stretch.
  • The Draft. Knowing KP is KP it is extremely hard not to be excited for the draft and beyond. What will they do with those picks, anyways? I'll be trying to keep tabs on things.
  • LaMarcus. Remember this? Aldridge's first real full-season has had some expected ups and downs. Lately though, he's seemed a little different. I'm not sure if he's trying to step up in Roy's absence, or if things clicked for him, but the man has shown a new kind of consistent aggressiveness. It would be a great sign to see him keep this up when Roy comes back, and for the rest of his career.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Biggest News Ever

My inbox had two messages from Finland today: one from BlueForest and one from H.T. They both were informing me of the of a certain amazing development related to Akeem Scott and Petteri Koponen. I read them both many times to make sure this was not some very random fantasy dream sequence. Yes, Akeem Scott is officially a Honka Playboy. Finally. I hope Koponen appears on Akeem's youtube videos very soon. I'm eager to see how this all turns out.

UPDATE: I'm sorry. I resisted the Jay-Z & R. Kelly references the first time around. I'm only human. Scott & Koponen feels like this:

Bigger than an album. Indeed.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The TrueHoop Bump

When Henry Abbot is desperate to fill out his daily bullets over at TrueHoop, DeceptivelyQuick links that I bombard the guy with will show up on occasion. This site gets linked to by others every now and again these days, but its still fun stuff to see this obscureness grace other more high-traffic screens. I thought I'd share the effects:

Yeah, last Friday the 3 second video of Greg Oden's Frohawk was interesting enough for thousands to check out the link in the daily bullets. I'm no mathemagician, but going from 79 unique visitors to 2,468 is like a 100% increase at least. Thanks to Henry for the support, and to those of you who like it here even when it isn't cool.

Obama Understands Future Blazer Dominance

But he doesn't enjoy Greg Oden's frohawk. I'm so conflicted.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What Would David Stern Do?

Ah H.T. has come through once again. This time to let us know that pro-basketball in Finland has problems, too. Its not all just salmon and saunas. Its like, 85% salmon and saunas, and 16% heartbreak. And 5% better public schools. My head hurts. Keep your head up H.T., as a survivor of the "JailBlazer" era I can say it gets better...eventually.

Just a few weeks ago, Finnish tabloid media began buzzing after Iiro Tenngren (PF/C, 6-8", 1979, Vanderbilt) of Finnish basketball league leader ToPo was caught with the possession of cocaine. Tenngren had been one of the most surprising domestic players in the Finnish League of 07/08 season,averaging 12,5 points and 5,0 rebounds a game. Even though Tenngren has been known to have a Rasheed Wallace -like temper, he had been able to keep himself under control for most of the season.

Tenngren's cocaine case is still going on. Tenngren was tested by ToPo and test results were negative, but it is unlikely that Tenngren can escape the future charges which will be held against him. He returned to ToPo's roster February 16th. It's too early to say how the charges will affect Tenngren's game, but the case has already casted a shadow upon ToPo's otherwise great season.

Yesterday the Finnish media got interested in basketball again, when Jerald Fields (PF/C, 6-8", 1982, East Tennessee State) of ToPo and Monte Cummings(SF/SG, 6-4", 1976, Florida State) of Honka were both tested positive with cannabis. Fields was having a great season with ToPo with 14,8 points, 9,6 rebounds, 2,2 assists, 1,9 blocks and 1,8 steals a game while Cummings was enjoying his sixth season in Finland averaging 15,1 points, 5,1 rebounds, 2 assists and 1,7 steals. Both guys were clearly among the profile players of Finnish League and replacing them will be extremely difficult for their teams.

After going downhill for a decade, Finnish basketball began to gain some respect in 2006/2007, when Petteri Koponen was drafted to the NBA and Finnish national team crushed Romania to get back to European A-division. Last two weeks have been tragic for Finnish basketball and it is likely that getting sponsors will be difficult when the next season approaches. Finnish Basketball Association and both teams have reacted in a professional fashion, releasing Fields and Cummings and taking a strong stand against drugs.

Case Tenngren will take a long time to solve, but it is already clear that Fields and Cummings will be banned from finishing the season in Finland. Because both players were caught for the first time, they will probably find employers in Finland in near future. In 1999, ToPo's power forward Greg Joyner (PF, 6-7", 1959, Middle Tennessee State) was tested positive for cannabis, but just two years later he made his debut in Finnish national team in front of cheering audience. Monte Cummings has told the Finnish media that he is interested in getting a Finnish citizenship one day, so it is possible he'll follow the footsteps of Joyner.

Here's a clip of Monte doing his thing in 2007 Finnish semi-finals (Honka #11) (Editor's Note: Disregard that Finnagler dunk attempt in the beginning, just block it out):

A quick update on the Finnish league standings and some standouts:

1. TOPO, HELSINKI (33-28-5)
Tyson Patterson (PG, 5-9", 1978, Appalachian State, USA) Pts 15,3 As 5,0 Reb
4,2 St 2,6
Timo Heinonen (SF, 6-6", 1981, Pussihukat, FIN) Pts 13,4 Reb 4,6 St 1,0

Jukka Matinen (SF, 6-8", 1978, Keravan Kori-80, FIN) Pts 18,5 Reb 4,4
Petteri Koponen (PG, 6-4", 1988, MaSu Basket, FIN) Pts 18,4 As 3,8 Reb 3,4
St 1,8

3. KOUVOT, KOUVOLA (33-23-10)
Corey Smith (SF/PF, 6-5", 1983, Vanderbilt, USA) Pts 21,4 Reb 8,1 As 2,3 St 2,3
Tuomas Iisalo (SG/SF, 6-5", 1982, Loviisan Hokki, FIN) Pts 13,4 Reb 3,1As
1,9 St 1,0

4. TEAM LAPPEENRANTA (16-11-5) *
Adrian Henning (PF, 6-9", 1982, Austin Peay, USA) Pts 22,3 Reb 7,9 St 2,4 As
1,6 Bl 1,6
Petri Virtanen (SG/PG, 6-0", 1980, Säynätsalon Riento, FIN) Pts 15,8 As 4,4
Reb 2,5 St 1,8

5. NAMIKA LAHTI (33-18-15)
Pierre Jallow (C, 6-8", 1979, William Jewell College, Gambia) Pts 14,7 Reb
8,4 As 0,8 St 0,8 Bl 0,5
Ville Mäkäläinen (SF, 6-4", 1985, Namika Lahti, FIN) Pts 14,0 Reb 4,6 As 2,6
St 1,3

Damon Williams (SF/SG, 6-7", 1973, Southern Colorado, USA) Pts 23,8 Reb 11,5
As 4,1 St 1,8
Damion Dantzler (PF, 6-8", 1976, Louisville, USA) Pts 16,9 Reb 11,1 As 1,7
St 1,0

Glenn Stokes (PG, 5-7", 1976, American University, USA) Pts 19,8 Reb 4,0 As
2,9 St 2,5
Jussi Kumpulainen (PF, 6-9", 1976, Kisa Nokia, FIN) Pts 12,9 Reb 8,8 St 1,5
As 1,1

8. JOENSUUN KATAJA (34-14-20)
Andre Foreman (SF, 6-6", 1969, Salisbury, USA) Pts 16,9 Reb 6,2 As 1,5 St
1,5 Bl 0,9
Louis Hinnant (SG/PG, 6-4", 1984, Boston College, USA) Pts 17,6 Reb 5,1 As
4,6 St 1,3

9. PORVOON TARMO (34-14-20)
Mark McCarroll (C/PF, 6-10", 1980, Pittsburgh, USA) Pts 18,1 Reb 12,9 Bl 1,9
As 0,8 St 0,8
Esa Mäki-Tulokas (SF, 6-6", 1982, LIU-Brooklyn, FIN) Pts 13,8 Reb 5,1 As 1,9
St 0,9

10. KTP BASKET, KOTKA (34-13-21)
Steve Smith (PF/SF, 6-7", 1981, Iona, USA) Pts 21,6 Reb 8,5 St 1,4 As 0,9
Toni Ilmonen (SG/PG, 6-2", 1977, Äänekosken Huima, FIN) Pts 14,1 Reb 1,5 As
1,1 St 0,8

11. KARHU, KAUHAJOKI (33-9-24)
Eric Washington (SG, 6-4", 1974, Alabama, USA) Pts 22,9 Reb 9,6 St 1,3 As 1,0
Darryl Hudson (PG/SG, 6-4", 1985, Howard, USA) Pts 20,0 Reb 5,8 As 2,8 St 0,7

Nick Wallery (PF/C, 6-7", 1981, Albany State, USA) Pts 21,1 Reb 12,6 As 1,8
St 1,2 Bl 1,2
Chris Hester (SG/SF, 6-3", 1979, Eastern Washington, USA) Pts 19,4 Reb 7,6
As 3,6 St 1,9

* Lappeenranta only plays 50% of Finnish League games because the team
participated in FIBA EuroCup

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Terrell Brandon is a Man of Action

The city of Portland loves Terrell Brandon. Why not? He's from here, loves it here, and seems to be a very good human being. Injuries ended his All-Star NBA career too soon, but the guy doesn't need basketball to be a success. These days he plays lots of tennis, has investments in the community, and organizes cool events like a high school basketball tournament on MLK Day. Add crime-fighting to that list. Wow.

Friday, February 22, 2008

You Deserve an Akeem Scott Weekend

I am forever grateful to Finnish Underground Consultant H.T. for introducing this blog to Akeem Scott. If you haven't reveled in the videos found in that link, I recommend you to stop depriving yourself of entertainment. After a week of trade deadline craziness, it seems like a good idea to try and relax this weekend with some good Akeem entertainment. Here's some new videos including him signing autographs for some giant Finnish children, endorsing novelty-sized chocolate, and cooking on the World's smallest stove. Akeem Scott: Renaissance Man.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Greg Oden: Frohawk Supporter

I saw this during the game against Seattle and immediately scrambled to capture some video evidence. I swear to you this grainy glimpse is indeed a Greg Oden frohawk. Guitar Hero and rehab are officially no longer enough to keep this man occupied, he's moved on to hair experimentation:

Of course, this could just be a sign of Greg becoming more indie-Portland. In case you don't know, this city leads the nation in white people with dreadlocks and hipster mullets per capita. Whatever the case, if it helped this guy run a marathon, I'm all for it.

ODEN FROHAWK UPDATE: Kelly Dwyer! over at Yahoo! also appreciates Oden's hair-art, and features an especially dashing photo.

Taurean Green: I Will Always Remember How I Wanted To Love You


First of all, I have nothing against Von Wafer. He can theoretically help fill in for James Jones (I'll take KP's word on that). He's young and athletic. I like him on this team.

Taurean Green never got his chance with Portland, but he got considerable burn on this blog. Let the record show, I'm convinced he'll be a good NBA player. I'll miss him. Allow me to rant about why.

Of course, we'll start with the two NCAA Championships. The guy is a winner. He's tough, can run a team, can defend, and is smart. But he's kinda small, and the NBA wasn't impressed.

So Green went to Orlando and destroyed the pre-draft camp. Still no love, he fell to Portland in the second round. Flash forward to summer league. If you didn't know how good Sergio was supposed to be, you would swear Green was Portland's best pointguard on that team. That is when he wasn't being forced to play shooting guard.

Flash forward to training camp. Nates says the pointguard minutes are up for grabs. Taurean Green again shines, and Nate tells the media Green will win some games for the team, and that his performance in training camp has pushed Sergio out of the rotation.

Flash forward to the regular season. Green is not playing. Blazers send him down to the D-League. He dominates. He gets called back to the team. He sits. He gets traded.

A guy who has impressed at every opportunity has a good shot at making it. Hopefully he'll get a better break in Denver. Keep your eyes open.

Trade Deadline Day

The trade deadline officially came and went, and there were actually some deals at the buzzer. The Blazers were involved in one, which I'll get to later (it might get dusty in here). But first let us acknowledge those former Blazers shipped off yet again today:

  • Everyone's favorite metrosexual undersized shooting guard Juan Dixon traded from Toronto to Detroit for Primo Brezec. I always liked Juan. This will truly reshape basketball as we know it.
  • Ah, tragic Bonzi Wells memories, how you haunt me. This guy would be an All-Star if the NBA didn't have guaranteed contracts. Anyways, I'm sure he's happy to have a new opportunity to wreck yet another team's chemistry. He was sent from Houston to New Orleans for Bobby Jackson.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Have a Blog? Sounds Lucrative!

I started this blog for a combination of reasons, although I can't remember which of them were the biggest contributors. I had a passion for a game and a team. I had a soul-crushing job in a cubicle that I liked to escape from. I really wanted people to understand that Zach Randolph needed to be traded.

I still have the passion, but have since found a more palatable career. Zach Randolph's traveling comedy show was taken elsewhere. Now Deceptively Quick is something fun that I want to keep going, even as my free time continues to shrink. The concept of profit never entered my mind. This is about love, man.

As time went along, more people started kicking around the site. Believe it or not, Deceptively Quick has become a moderately popular for an obscure little sports blog. In a twist I never saw coming, this lead to some companies expressing interest in advertising on the site.

Maybe this is a sort of natural step in the life of a sports blog (totally independent and obscure--> independent with a solid readership and some advertising profit-->complete coporate takeover/sellout), but it has me pretty confused. The idea of getting paid for something you have happily been doing for free is an odd one. However, I do understand that money is nice. I'd like to be introduced to more of it.

I recently pursued an offer, driven more by curiosity than greed. I'm glad I did, because it was hilarious. After soul-searching and internal debate over putting up links to people who pay me, I got an offer to receive $150 for placing a small advertisement on the site. For six months. This is also known as $25 a month. Look out D.Miles!

The market has told me how much this blog is worth. Roughly the cost of a new DVD. Still certifiably obscure, it reminded me of a line from this skit:

Oh and by the way, I said no to the deal. We all have our price, and you'll have to pay at least $26 a month to grace this blog. At least.

Tim Kisner Leaves Finland

H.T. dropped me a line that went like this:

"Polish euroleague team Prokom bought Tim Kisner for the remainder of the season. He will be missed in Espoo."

Sadly, it appears friend of the blog Tim Kisner is moving on. In case you're new here, Tim is an American who had a standout NCAA career before taking his career to Europe. He's provided us with a lot of insights on teammate Petteri Koponen, as well as filling us in on being an American pro-basketball player in Finland. It was obvious he liked living there, so a return someday wouldn't surprise me. He would always talk to us, and we love when players do that. Good luck Tim.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

All Star Quote of the Night

From my man Reggie Miller, in a discussion of the greatness of Chris Paul:

"He has great leadership for his size."

Awesome. By the way, good looking RoyBot.

You're Right, the Dunk Contest DOES SUCK

Just kidding. I won't get too into it again, but I think the evidence that the dunk contest is alive and thriving is pretty clear. I'd like to think this would quiet all the odd All Star Hate, but I'm not sure anything will. I wouldn't be surprised to hear them couch this as an anomaly. At least All Star Hating just got a little harder.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Blazers vs Dallas and a Merciful Reprieve

Well, that was fun. As has been well documented, Portland tends to be pretty bad without NMVP James Jones, and remember he's out 3-5 weeks. Plenty of time for the team to figure out how to win without him, or for the wheels to fall off completely.

The good thing about the beating from Dallas is that it means we have mercifully reached the end of all this losing. Well, not the end. More like a much needed dunk-contest filled break until the losing resumes on the nineteenth. I'll take it.

If you want a fun distraction, be sure to get on board with the Hillsboro Flying Tostadas. I hear good things.

The Portland Chinooks Fold: My Heart Breaks

The Portland Chinooks of the IBL won't be playing this season. I'm sad about this, as this year was shaping up to be especially random, even by IBL standards. I fell in love the small-time nuttiness of this league. The games are $5 to get in. They sell cans of pop out of a cooler. They throw lots of alley-oops. They had God Shammgod. They had a former Pac-10 Standout and son of a Blazer great. They had a guy who I used to beat in pickup games when he played small college ball. Some random force in the universe brought them all together to play basketball in mostly highschool gyms and be sponsored by local restaurants. My love for the Chinooks assured me that my obsession over this game had not yet turned the corner to snobbery. Now it could all be gone.

On the flip side, this opens up the Portland market for my IBL team. It costs about $10,000 to start a franchise up, and if the Portland market is open I imagine they'd want a team here. I dream big you see.

The money will come from my favorite local restaurant chain, a 24-hour Mexican joint by the name of Muchas Gracias. In honor of their generous sponsorship I'll name my team after one of my favorite menu items, The Flying Tostadas. If you're a Muchas fan, you may object, claiming that the Oregon Burrito is the signature item and thus deserves top consideration in all team-naming discussions. After careful consideration, I think that the athleticism implied by the word flying is a better fit for a basketball team. And we move on.

Having such sponsorship, it may not maximize revenue to have the team play home games at Portland State University as the Chinooks have done. No parking, the pains of trying to get somewhere downtown, and a disinterested student body sound like a bad way to fill up the stands. Plus the Chinooks folded, so deviating from their strategy is a good idea in general. To avoid the pitfalls of downtown and satisfy my generous sponsor, I suggest we play in the much more Latino-friendly suburb of Hillsboro. No, not Hillsborough. Hillsbo-r-o is densely populated and easily accessible via quite the public transportation system. Mix in a healthy dose of local business and diversity, you got yourself a sustainable franchise.

The Hillsboro Flying Tostadas. You heard it hear first.

And if you feel like I wasted all your time by making you read this, take heart. Its not like there's anything else going on.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

James Jones: NMVP

It has been well documented that Brandon Roy is this team's Everything. We know this. But for the sake of a blog-post on a slow day, who would you dub the team's Next Most Valuable Player? Aldrdige? Outlaw? Maybe in the future. This season I don't think there can be much doubt that it is James Jones. I bring this up now because the internet is madly in love with the man at the moment, just read this amazingly air tight case that popped up on TrueHoop. And, if I may link to myself for a moment, here's an excerpt from a December 13th entry after the Blazers beat the Warriors:

No coincidence all this winning has coincided with James Jones finding his groove. He continues to shoot at a ridiculous clip, and that threat has allowed other guys (most notably Brandon Roy) to operate much more effectively. Veteran savvy, deep stroke, better than you think defense, James Jones is absolutely huge for this team. By the way, in an oddly recent pop-culture reference, the Rose Garden people play a sample from rapper Mike Jones "Mr. Jones" whenever James scores. I was pleased indeed.

A truly savvy addition to this young team. He gives exactly what the team needs to win games. Great. Wait a second. He's making $2.9 million this season in a league where players earn an average of about $5 million. Portland has given him an opportunity to prove how helpful he can be. He has an opt-out option after the season, and with his stock so high, I imagine it could be a trail worth blazing. Will it lead out of town?

Jones likes being on this team. He likes being appreciated. He likes being one of the vets. But will Portland be willing to pay more than someone else? The choice may come down to love or money. Money has quite a winning percentage in this scenario.

Along with possibly being outbid by another team, Portland also faces the risk of a championship level team luring Jones away. Portland looks to be on the path to contending one day, but at age 27, I'm not sure Jones fits that timetable. Even if he decided to re-sign, could he do so in good faith that he's in the team's long-term plans? He's in his prime now. He brings savvy, defense, and shooting. These are qualities that often describe a title contender's "final piece." Top level teams will be very interested in this man. Players take this route from time to time.

So what will Mr. Jones choose? Love? Money? Rings? Tough call at this point, but attractive offers are likely to materialize. He is putting himself in a position to choose his own path, a big measure of success in this league. NMVP, tough decisions come with the territory.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Blazers and the Playoffs, Neat Idea

When the win streak hit double digits earlier this season, a whole mess of fans and analysts started talking playoffs. Why not? The team was even on pace to secure homecourt in the first round, and you definitely don’t rattle off 13 straight by accident. It was all part of this young squad’s meteoric rise to the top. Funny thing about that cliche, I’ve always known meteors to be more famous for crashing downward and flaming out. This hasn’t quite been a meteoric fall, but all that playoff talk has certainly died down. That improbable winning-induced euphoria showed us a glimpse of what this team is on a path to become. The rest of the season (the 5-12 start, the 3-7 last ten, the not having won back to back since January 9th) is telling us to back away from assuming that this young team has really arrived so early.

Right now Portland has the tenth best record in the West, good for third in the Northwest Division. Of the two teams ahead of them, Utah is 9-1 and Denver is 7-3 over their last ten. When you factor in that veteran playoff teams usually start cranking it up a notch after the All-Star Break, the once firm belief that had Portland playoff bound seems a little more fanciful. Charles was right.

Then again, we could get ambushed by another improbable win streak. For better or worse (mostly better) this team has a habit of surprising us. This ship could be righted. Of course, it was never supposed to be so right in the first place. Maybe it is still on course. All we really know is that I’ve carried this crappy ship analogy too far. I hear the argument that missing the playoffs this season can help the long-term, nobody is mad at adding a lottery pick to Kevin Pritchard’s arsenal. I also hear the argument that early success and playoff experience would add significantly to the maturity of the team. I’ll leave that argument to Blazers Edge. Enjoy the ride.

Friday, February 8, 2008

No Roybot, Big Opportunity

So it's official that family-issues will keep Brandon Roy from participating in tonight's game at Detroit. It will certainly be hard for the Blazers to beat a top veteran squad like Detroit on the road without their Everything, but there is a bigger opportunity here.

Usually when teams focus on stopping Brandon Roy, its on the other Blazers to knock down the open shots such a strategy provides. Tonight there's no Roy, and a very good defense. This means a huge chance to learn how to operate without RoyBot's help. With an eye to the future, it would be very good for this team to get this figured out sooner rather than later. Sometimes Roy will be in foul-trouble, sometimes he'll be off, sometimes he'll be clamped down. In these situations it would help to have confidence and a plan in place. Seeing which individual players step up will be interesting, but I think the most important development is how the team as a whole responds and what they take away from the experience. Big game.

Speaking of Everything, he was recently interviewed at a local Shari's by ESPN (no expense spared for our hero!). That reminds me of a funny story. My Dad once ordered a salad there--delicious and nutritious--good choice. Until he pulled what he thought was an especially chewy piece of lettuce out of his mouth. Used bandaid.

Did I say funny? I meant disgusting. My bad. Maybe thats why Brandon doesn't touch his food.

UPDATE: Well, so much for that.

UPDATED UPDATE: Yeah, it was kinda like this:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Someone Sign Viktor Khryapa

Only vaguely Blazer related at this point, but I just heard Viktor Khryapa got cut from the Bulls. He has been a fan favorite in Chicago much like he was in Portland, but the Bulls decided they just don't need his 3 points and 2 rebounds per game anymore. Cheer up, he wasn't getting burn anyways. Free Khryapa movement no longer needed.

He can play. He was first-team all Eurobasket tournament last summer when he and his comrades took the gold. He's 6'9, a good athlete, only 25, has some all-around skills, and hustles. It would be really nice to see him sign with an NBA team that will actually use him. Of course, this probably means signing with a terrible team, which means lots of losing. The alternative is to return to Russia, where he's famous and would get paid, and be the man.

I don't know much about the guy (does anyone? His wikipedia entry has 76 words-let us in Viktor!), but unless he has the burning desire to still play in the NBA the Russia homecoming seems pretty likely. That would be unfortunate. While I don't exactly go out of my way to watch him play, for some reason I like knowing that I could.

UPDATE: Pretty amazing discussion of Viktor going on in this thread over at Blogabull. I'm trying to join, but having log-in issues. Send my love.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Impending DOOM

A couple days ago I joked that Brad Miller and Hedo Turkoglu being named players of the week was a sign of the apocalypse. Hardee-har-har.

Now this is happening. Wow. Suffice to say, I'm heading to Costco to stock up on bottled water and Wal Mart to stock up on ammunition. Anyone know how to build a bunker?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Blazers Edge Meets it's Finnish Destiny

A certain Finnish Underground Consultant you may be familiar with has written an excellent Petteri Koponen update, complete with an interview with the Finnagler himself, over at Blazers Edge. I recommend checking it out.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The All-Star Post With an Abraham Lincoln Reference

The cold being here and the NFL finale coming to pass is an exciting trigger for me. Now random sports fans (and people who write words about sports) begin to turn their fickle heads to give the NBA the much desired look-back. Whew, just in time for the upcoming All-Star Game Festivities (when in doubt, capitalize everything).

Unfortunately, if you’re like me and absolutely love the ASGF, this may not go well. Every year I forget that a healthy chunk of these people just want to give a reminder that the league is in a perennial state of decline. I once sat through a conversation with a dilettante who spoke with the confidence of a purist; he enlightened me that the dunk contest was boring and irrelevant. Almost makes me wish it was still football season.

Vince Carter proved that the death of the dunk contest had been greatly exaggerated about eight years ago. A logical person might think that would stop a hater or two, at least for a while. Nope.

You can try to debate the issue. You can try reason. How many classic dunks has this contest given us since Vince? Jason Richardson. Josh Smith. Iggy. JR Smith. Dwight. I’ll stop because I’m tired of putting in links. Still, in my personal history of defending this event, such logic has failed to convince.

NBA haters in general are an odd bunch. Like Lincoln’s obsession to march on Richmond (yes, I’m making this analogy), they launch failed attempt after failed attempt and disregard advice from those advocating another perspective. Of course, Lincoln eventually listened, and the war was over. That would be a key difference. No listening here, and no end in sight. Real haters rarely get out of siege mode.

Talk all you want about the NBA’s growing global profile, about huge stars and great talents that will ensure interest for years. About young teams on the rise, about a changing style, about beauty. It won’t matter.

I’m officially retired from this argument, and I would hope some of those on the other side will grow weary at some point. Perhaps hibernation between the end of the Super Bowl and the start of spring training would be a worthy avenue to pursue. That way you can have sufficient distraction from this loathsome league and spare us your crotchety venom.

We can get back to enjoying our All-Star Game Festivities in peace. The game itself, the dunk contest, 3-point shootout, skills competition, I’ll even watch whatever weird WNBA synergy thing they awkwardly throw on this year (but mostly out of spite).

And next season, Brandon Roy in the skills competition, please.

Apocalypse Now

Just thought I would pop in and let you all know that the end of days could be closer than you think. Adjust your lives accordingly.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Pro Basketball in Finland

Finnish Underground insider H.T. provides us with an insightful perspective on some inner-oddities of basketball in Finland. This most recent entry is compelling, especially with the supplemental videos. As he notes, the videos were originally meant to be for marketing purposes. Considering that was the goal, the clips are pretty amazing. Beyond the profanity and sex-talk, there's some provocative human narratives being told here. Enjoy.

Finnish league team Porvoon Tarmo was in trouble before the2006/2007 season. After finishing 11th out of twelve teams and narrowly securing its place in the 06/07 campaign in spring 2006, a lot of player movement happened. American players Damen Maddox and Rashad Bell left town and their fellow countryman, coach Carl Woodard, left as well. Starting shooting guard Roni Leimu moved to Iceland to play professionally and sixth man Jarno "Nate" Nissinen signed a one-year contract with league newcomer, Team Componenta.

Building a competitive team after collapse turned out to beextraordinarily hard. Tarmo was able to sign Finnish role players Mikael Holme (6-3", 1979) and Ville-Pertti Lind (6-6", 1980), but everybody knew those two guys weren't exactly the kind of players that would be able to challenge Honka Playboys or reigning champion Lappeenranta. Young, energetic coach Tomi Kaminen lured promising point guard prospect Eero Levä (5-11", 1986)to the town of Porvoo, but more had to be done. Most of Finnish free agents were already gone when season was approaching. A full-scale panic seemed to be agreat option.

But then, a miracle happened. Finnish Basketball Association shinedgreat mercy upon the below-average teams of Finnish League stating, that during the season 2006/2007, there wouldn't be a maximum amount of foreign players to use. Because Tarmo wanted to stay competitive, they brought in twelve non-domestic players during the season and preseason. Some of them got booted before the preseason games, and a total of seven (7) stayed until the last game of the playoffs. This is the final list:

BROWN, Dathon (SF, 6-8", 1973, Fort Valley State, USA)
DeWITZ, Nick (PF, 6-8", 1982, Oregon State, USA)
FIRIC, Gordan (SG, 6-5", 1970, Bosnia-Herzegovina)
GERWIG, Nathan (C, 6-8", 1983, Kent State, USA)
GREENE, Daryl (PG, 6-0", 1980, Niagara, USA)
HESTER, Chris (SG, 6-4", 1979, Eastern Washington, USA)
JAABER, Luqman (PG, 5-10", 1983, Virginia Union, USA)
LIPKE, Tom (SG, 6-4", 1986, Braunschweig, Germany)
McDADE, Ryan (PF, 6-8", 1980, Northern Arizona, USA)
MIMS, Karlton aka (PG, 6-2", 1980, Washburn University of Topeka, USA)
MUELLER, Joshua (PG, 5-11", 1982, South Dakota, USA)
NIXON, Joe (SG, 6-4", 1980, DePauw, USA)
+ a couple of African guys whose names I never got to know.

So, what's so darn interesting about all this? Well, new-look Tarmo
also signed some marketing staff just to polish the look of the team, which had taken a nose-dive after one season of glory (or, well, a place in the league semi-finals). One of the great ideas of the new marketing staff was to get a camera crew to Porvoo to follow the players and coaches of the team in every single game and practice and even during off-days. For some reason, the planned reality TV Show never aired but we have to be thankful; there are some fantastic teasers about Tarmo's 2006/2007 campaign in YouTube (in case you didn't get it from the intro, these may not be safe for work-Ed.).

Friday, February 1, 2008

Roy All-Star

In case you haven't heard. Judging by the fact that it is plastered on the front page of the Oregonian this morning I'd say people are pretty pumped around these parts.

Past Blazer All-Stars.

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