Sunday, September 28, 2008

Get to know your Training Camp Blazers...poetically

Ah, the life of an NBA training camp add-on. They are not rich. They are not famous. These men can reach out and touch the NBA dream, but are seldom allowed to grasp it. They cling to a sliver of hope while trying not to think about the odds. All one has to do is play better than he has ever played in his life, and pray that it is enough.

I usually spend a couple hours massaging google to discover who these men are. (What?) Then I discovered a better way. It is the same strategy used to avoid any work on poetry assignments back in school; the haiku.

In a humble homage to Russ Bengston's NBA haiku work, I present to you informational 5-7-5(ish) inspired by the lives of Jamaal Tatum, Luke Jackson, Shavlik Randolph, and Steven Hill.

Jamaal Tatum:
Keeping his dreadlocks
Wants to start a clothing line
Likes to pose shirtless

Luke Jackson:
Saw you in high school
Saw you destroy the Pac-10
The League? Not so much

Shavlik Randolph:
Thought you were foreign
Even when you were at Duke
Thanks, wikipedia

Steven Hill:
4 and 3 last year
But seven feet, two forty-five
I wish I were big

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Akeem Scott speaks to DeceptivelyQuick

There is no non-Blazer related player that gets as much ink many pixels on DeceptivelyQuick as the venerable Akeem Scott. If you are not up on your DQ history and/or just want some entertainment, I recommend devouring the Akeem Scott archives.

H.T. recently gave us an excellent recap of the game that saw Akeem Scott's Honka Playboys facing off in a preseason contest against Petteri Koponen's new squad, Virtus Bologna. Honka plays in the Finnish league, which you may not have heard much about. Virtus Bologna, on the other hand, plays in a well known Italian league. They are the team that made news when they signed Earl Boykins to a league high $3.5 million a year. Honka won the game. Although only a preseason match up, it was certainly a step towards getting more recognition for Finnish basketball.

If your lazy American eyes are as lazy as my American eyes, you may have missed Boykin's line in the box score: 12 points, 4 rebs, and 4 assists. Respectable for a debut with a new team on a new continent.

Then take a peak at Akeem Scott's line: 17 points, 2 rebounds, 3 steals. And the upset victory.

In addition to the victory being great for Finnish basketball and Honka, it was an impressive display by Akeem Scott. He has now gone up against an NBA player and walked away victorious, which is something. I figured it would be a good time to catch up with the man. My words in italics.

Nice job introducing Earl Boykins to pro ball in Europe. What was it like going up against a him?

Thanks, it was fun playing against Earl Boykins. To know he played with Allen Iverson and against other guards like Steve Nash, Chris Paul and so on. It was good to know I can go the distance with him in a basketball game, and maybe I am even better than him!! But with that said I respect him and his game. He has open doors for many small guards all over the world!! AND HE DESERVE THE RESPECT FOR THAT.

What are your personal and team goals for this season? Next season? Career? Life???

I will tell you my team goals first, because my team come before me.
To get better every game as a team and to make our bench stronger ever practice, our bench is young but these young guys are hungry for minutes and will get lots of playing time this season because of their hard work.
Our second team goal is to win the Finnish CUP. Our third team goals is to stay FINNISH NATIONAL CHAMPS!!
My goal is to become a really good point guard this year. As far as my career goes, I just want to become one of the best guards Europe has ever seen play. So I plan on moving to ITALY, SPAIN, GREECE or maybe even France to prove my point. As far as Life goes, I just want Good Money, a couple of houses and cars and two beautiful women who wants to live with me at the same time!!!

How often do you get back to the States? What do you miss most while you are in Europe?

I go back to the states every summer. when I am in Europe the things i miss most about the states are my family, snowcrabs and shrimps, and playing my PS3 with my boys back home and talking trash in Mario's barber shop about sports (new york giants for life).

What do you miss most about Europe when you're in the States?

when i am in the states, the thing I miss most about Europe is the people, you guys and girls are all cool. and yall feel like family to me. and plus it feels good when your a CHAMP in a country. Finland is my Country oooooowwwww!!! and yes i am proud of that.

We've called you a Renaissance Man because you seem to have a lot of interests.If you couldn't play pro ball, what profession would you be known for?

If i could not play pro basketball, i would be know as a Pro Football Player. I am better in football, then I am in Basketball now!!! but if could not play a sport, I would be a hip hop artist or Actor. I need the camera in my life!!

with that said i would like to say to my people out there. Thanks for making me feel at home. this year is going to be a fun year with all new youtube clips and blogs. So if you dont mind putting this next thing in, I want to be called the PEOPLE'S CHAMP. look, the people love me out here and I love them even more. They want a show and I bring the show right to them. If they had a choice to bring me back every year, the people would bring me back ever year and guess what? I would comeback every year to give the PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT!!! ACTION.


Akeem also has a blog worth checking out at This year is going to be good.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Koponen vs Honka

H.T. checks in with an update on our man The Finnagler, featuring an impressive upset for his old team...

The Finnish national team ended their Eurobasket qualification games with
a 88-73 victory over Hungary last Saturday. The national team players
returned to their clubs in the beginning of the week. Finland's
starting point guard Petteri Koponen didn't have to go far away,
because his newest team, Virtus Bologna, had arrived to Finland to
play a preseason game against Koponen's former team and last spring's
Finnish champion, Honka Playboys.

Koponen played a grand total of 10:57 minutes in his debut with Virtus
, finishing with four rebounds, one assist and one turnover.
Koponen missed both of his field goal attempts and admitted that it's
wasn't the easiest possible game for him.

"I've been practicing with my new team for just a couple of times
now. It's hard to call a play when I can only memorize a few of the
games in my new team's playbook", said Koponen.

"In the final quarter I finally realized my four years with Honka are
over. I've spent some great seasons with these fine players here and
now it's all over."

Virtus Bologna apparently expected to cruise to an easy victory and
was shocked when point guard Akeem Scott led Honka to a 20-9 start.
Virtus got back into the game with Jamie Arnold netting consecutive
treys, but it was Honka that took control of the game.

Honka maintained a 1-5 point lead for the first fifteen minutes of
second half with Kimmo Muurinen dominating in the low post and Jukka
Matinen draining his shots effectively and clinched the game with a
11-0 run in the middle of fourth quarter, opened by Monte Cummings
dunk and ended by Ben Perkins' consecutive jumpers.

- Honka outplayed us, simply and clearly. They came in ready to play,
we didn't. Luckily this is just a preseason game. We will have to be
ready once Serie A begins, stated Virtus coach Renato Pasquali.

Honka coach Mihailo Pavicevic demanded respect for the job well done
and said Finnish basketball has reached higher level than any Finnish
basketball viewer would admit.

- It's time to start respecting Finnish basketball and Finnish
players. Our starting five is on a good European level and the
subtitute players will have the whole regular season to develop.

Virtus Bologna and Petteri Koponen will return to Italy this Friday.
Season 2008/2009 will be 20-year old Koponen's first as a
professional. Koponen won the Finnish MVP award last season after
averaging 19 points, 3,9 assists, 3,4 rebounds and 1,8 steals a game
while draining 56,4 % of his 2pt attempts and 42,6 % of his 3pt

In eight Eurobasket qualification games this summer, Koponen averaged
12,8 points, 2,9 assists and 2,5 rebounds a game while making 84,4 %
of his free throw attempts.

Honka Playboys - Virtus Bologna 86-74 (43-40)

Honka: Kimmo Muurinen 11/10/4ast, Akeem Scott 17/2/3 stl, Ben Perkins
11/3/3 stl, Sasu Salin 5/0, Monte Cummings 18/5, Petri Heinonen 6/2,
Jukka Matinen 18/2, Eldar Skamo 0/0.

Virtus: Sharrod Ford 2/2, Petteri Koponen 0/4, Bret Blizzard 9/1,
Jamie Arnold 20/3, Alex Righetti 3/1, Earl Boykins 12/4/4 ast,
Guilherme Giovanni 2/5, Roberto Chiracig 4/3, Andre Langford 14/2,
Dusan Vukcevic 8/3.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy Rudy Fernandez Day

In case you haven't heard, Rudy Fernandez will be arriving at Portland International Airport soon. Consistent with the hysteria with which Rip City citizens have surrounded the man, a mass of folks plan on showing up (2) to greet him. Driving into the DeceptivelyQuick satellite HQ this morning, I heard local sports radio urging people to take an early lunch and head to the airport to cheer for the man. The hype tornado continues.

I hate to ruin a good hero-worship session, but I am starting to feel like I am either the last sane Blazer fan or the only insane one. I am still confused as to why nobody is at least discussing his apparent ignorance (1 , 2).

When that infamous slant-eyed photo hit the news, I looked forward to reading some of Rip City’s premier bloggers discuss the photograph. I was sure it was coming. It seemed important given Rip City’s obsession with Rudy, with having “good guys” on the team, and with the sizable and growing Asian population in the Portland-metro area.

I was naive.

Obviously, not all blogs could be expected to delve into the issue. For example, the ones earning pay checks from Paul Allen. Indeed, Trail Blazers Center Court wasn’t about to touch the controversy. In a bit of unintentional comedy, on August 12th, shortly after the photo hit major spots like Deadspin, Center Court posted an entry entitled “Everything you need to know about Rudy Fernandez in four pictures.” The most famous picture to date featuring Rudy was not included. Must not be important.

Center Court has the excuse of being team owned, as does Mike Barrett’s Blog. It was far more disappointing to me to see how the controversy was covered by Rip City blogs that are Vulcan-free. The best of these are Blazers Edge and the Oregonlive Blazers Blog. These places are where to turn to read talented writers who don’t have anything in their job descriptions related to towing the Blazers company line. Their importance can’t be emphasized enough. And they both ignored this.

Dave and Ben, the excellent Blazers Edge writers, have combined for 66 stories to date that carry the Rudy Fernandez tag. You can spend hours in the archives devouring in depth analyses of Rudy’s game. You won’t find one discussing the photo. All the site has to offer on the topic is a thread posted by a commentor. The comments are great on Blazers Edge, but the bulk of us visit the site interested in what Dave and Ben have to say. We’re still waiting. We’re still waiting for Sean Meagher at Oregonlive to give us his perspective as well.

For a fan base that screamed of a need for "good guys" for years, why the free pass for Rudy? Do we just want to ignore the negativity for a while and bask in the warm fuzziness? Maybe. Is it related to the fact that Rudy's skin color is close to the vast majority of Blazer fans? I hope not. It would sure be interesting to hear what others have to say.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

OK, so what do YOU want?!?!?

No secret that posting around here has been slowing down, but things are truly at a creep in Rip City right now. Try as I might, I have trouble getting excited about discussing who will get the 15th roster spot. Or should I talk about this? Yeesh.

Historically, when times get lean, I've called on the DeceptivelyQuick readership to submit blog posts of their own. We've had some good results. So again I call on everyone to submit any kind of entry you like to me via email (take the link above) and we'll see what happens. Please help. I'm down to sharing random youtube clips.

Some slacks and some gators on the way home! Damn I wish this man were a Blazer.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

DeceptivelyQuick to NY

No, not to cover the seemingly imminent Z-Bo trade (assist to Slam), although maybe I should. It is pretty amazing that someone will still trade for Zach Randolph given everything we know, right? But hey, you get 20ish and 10! And this is what else you get!*
Sounds great! See you Monday.

*Defense, passing, and winning not included.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Rudy Fernandez finds life outside his bubble scary

I'm so happy I added Dwight Jaynes' blog to my links list, it is well worth your perusal.

He pointed out a Spanish language interview checking in with Rudy Fernandez at the NBA's version of new employee orientation (google translated, Dwight's take here).

The article covers Rudy's shock over things that are "barbaric" to him. You know, gold-diggers, family asking for money, and people who know drug addicts.

Rudy, this may surprise you, but not all people are children of professional basketball players. Family members ask for money!? Shocking! Some people have drug addicts in their family!? Like on TV?! Mercy! The world outside your cozy bubble can be scary indeed, Rudy.

This interview, coupled with the infamous photo, are leading me to form a certain perception of Rudy Fernandez. Hopefully there is something lost in translation here and I'm wrong, but the dude is giving off the vibes of straight up ignorance.

Rudy may want to pay particular attention to those media training sessions. How long until he gets a little Bogut-ey? The countdown begins!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Throwback post! Also, I'm lazy

Any questions regarding recent posting activity can be answered by visiting this DeceptivelyQuick entry from exactly one year ago. The US Open remains the sporting event I'd most like to attend that I haven't already.

By the way, I like the Djokovic impressions as much as the next guy, but don't forget who started that stuff:

Plus if all this Beijing hangover business is real, the best press conference athlete in the world could steal himself a slam. Back to the TV I go!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

On that Outlaw wanting more shots thing

We have all read it by now. In fact, the Travis-saying-he-wants-more-shots issue has been pretty much covered (1, 2). If not for my hyena streak I would probably leave it alone at this point, but I can't resist the possibility of crumbs on the carcass. Yummy carrion.

Outlaw will experience a little backlash from some fans over this. But what did he do, really?

1) He used human reasoning ability to deduct that adding offensive perimeter talents Bayless and Fernandez will result in a diminished role for him in the offense.

2) He was concerned about this.

3) He voiced these concerns to a reporter.

The problem is not #1, all Outlaw is guilty of here is possessing some logical thinking ability.

Perhaps the issue is #2. Surely, a true team-player would be happy to welcome additional talent to the roster. If it means reduced individual achievement, that is a small sacrifice for the ultimate goal of team success.

Before you buy that consider Outlaw's position. He struggled until last season, when he broke out and experienced the first sustained on-court success of his career. He is still young, and probably rightly believes his ability is still growing. I can understand how Outlaw feels that he is finally on the cusp of something very good. In a way, he has had the rug pulled from underneath his feet. He has the right to be a little upset about the deal. Would you really want a player that in his heart would be truly happy to be less involved with the team?

Then we come to issue #3, which caused this whole mini-storm. Outlaw showed candor we don't see all that often. Actually, such public honesty and openness will be very rare on this team that is stacked with some self-aware and conscientious talent. Maybe he knew management and MacMillan would be deaf to his concerns, and decided to go public with his hissy. Perhaps Outlaw will learn a lesson from this and go Clyde Drexler with the media from now on. Speculation is fun.

Whatever his motivation, Outlaw is well within the normal range of human reaction to his situation. We are reminded, once again, that these people are human beings after all. He isn't living up to some idealized expectation that probably doesn't exist. We don't want normal humans with insecurities to play on our team. It ruins the whole illusion.

Speaking of insecurities, please believe Outlaw has them. Sometimes he says things that taken literally can definitely give off the vibe of another athlete with delusions of grandeur. As Dave says from Blazers Edge:

If you had a Ferrari, you’d want to drive it fast sometimes. You may understand the need for a speed limit. You may agree with it. But when most of your life is spent driving 65 it’s hard not to envy a guy in Germany who can drive 120 whenever he wants. I mean, it’s a Ferrari, dude. Travis is pretty sure he’s a Ferrari. And looking at some of the things he’s able to do on the court it’s hard to disagree.

I'm not so sure Travis actually thinks of himself in this way. On the court, his sporadic confidence issues have been noted by many. His bluster seems more likely to be an attempt to deny these insecurities than to reflect his true feelings. Is it outlandish to think Outlaw feels a bit threatened by the arrival of Bayless and Fernandez? Would such a feeling be abnormal?

The broad underlying issue from all of this is how the Blazers will handle being stacked with so much talent. Not just any talent, but the young, ambitious, and flourishing variety. The type that wants to get shots and shine. The organization has excelled at obtaining such wealth of personnel, now we get to see how adept they are at managing it.