Sunday, August 28, 2005

Jeremy: Pulling a Clarett

I wonder if one day we'll use the name Clarett not as a name, but instead as a verb. Isn't it possible that one day I might say something to Jeffrey like: "I think he's going to pull a Clarett." Pulling a Clarett would be when an athlete shows glimpses of greatness, but the amount of hype surrounding him/her, most it of self-produced, or the fact that the athlete thinks they are above the law or the system, could be too big for said athletes proverbial britches.
Maurice Clarett has managed to make a bed that nobody wants to lie in. Here's a guy who had one good college season and suddenly he believed he was the second coming of Walter Payton. Suddenly he thought he was bigger than the system (he wasn't) and he was going to be the next great pro running back in the NFL (he's not).
But all of the illegal money, all of the under-the-table agreements, all of the high weight weigh-ins, all of the too-slow 40 yard dashes, and all of the doubts that Maurice Clarett seemed to talk his way out of... none of those things matter today because today Maurice Clarett was cut from the Denver Broncos. The team that was willing to take a chance on the guy who nobody else wanted to take a chance on, was today proven that they made a bad choice.
Do you think now people will finally stop judging Clarett on one good college season? Do you think that they will finally see him for who he is: an underachieving waste of talent who has no right to have his name on the back of an NFL jersey because he didn't even have the strait forward decency to appreciate and honor the terrific God-given football talent that he had and just play the game and let the results speak themselves? Or will some other team be dumb enough to give him a chance to screw it up again?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Jeff: Thanks for clearing that up, Sam!

Did you think I was just making wild assumptions about what a terrible trade that was for the Wolves? Of course not! Why, just ask Sam Cassell what he thinks of getting traded to the Clippers! He tells all in an interview with Steve Aschburner of the startrib , and backs up my point on what a terrible trade this was.

"If they think Marko Jaric is a replacement for me, they're out of their minds," Cassell said of the Wolves management. "I'm happy for him. I'm happy he got paid. But that's not an upgrade. As players, we know."

- Right you are, Sammy!

"Minnesota never got out of the first round until I got there," Cassell said. "Then when I got hurt, everybody knew [my value]. I don't take things personally. I know I was accused [of selfishness]. Spree and I came in as 'rebels.' But they had to blame somebody."

- Um, ok hold on a second there, Sammy. I was with you on the whole "I'm worth more than Marko thing", but this? First of all, if Minny's point guards hadn't gotten hurt the previous 2 seasons, they would have gotten out of the first round. And knowing your value when you got hurt? You were healthy most of last year and the team still sucked, and the fact you were whining about a new contract for one decent season before the year even started? Well I think that whining and your on-court performance gave us a pretty good idea of your value. As did the fact McHale couldn't trade you for a pair of sweaty gym sock (Ok, ok, bad example since "trading" "drafting" or "being a GM" isnt really one of McHale's strong points). And as for looking for somebody to blame for last year? They DID blame somebody and it wasn't you or your good buddy Spree- it was Flip Saunders, one of the best coaches in the NBA! Yeah your genius boss McHale decided to throw his supposed best friend under the bus because the alternative, which would have been shipping the real problems, you and Spree, out of town on the first bus, train, or scooter, would have reflected poorly on ol' Kev. Boy hopefully you can redeem yourself with one last comment here, because with talk like that, I'm almost thinking that as bad as that deal was, it's just good to get rid of you.

"I'm going to have a hell of a year," Cassell said. "That's not even my concern. I just wish it was with my main man, Kevin Garnett. We made each other better. He made me an All-Star; I made him an MVP."

Whoa whoa whoa did you just say you MADE KG an MVP? Really? Hmmmm you know on second thought, Sammy, don't let the door hit you on the back of that alien-looking-head of yours on the way to LA.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Jeff: Foreign Relations

If you find yourself sitting at something called a "cafe" sipping tea or coffee with your pinky up, I'm about to offend you. If you smoke 5 packs of unfiltered cigarettes a day, you're headed for a coughing fit of anger any minute. If you enjoy wearing jeans that cut off the circulation at the ankles, t-shirts that are 5 sizes too small, or purposefully buy clothes with a healthy amount of pink in them, well you're not going to be very happy with me either. Generally if you fit this description you're either a) metrosexual or b) European, and really, we're splitting hairs to tell them apart. Although my thoughts for today are meant for the latter group, any man who considers themselves part of the former and gets offended, I have no sympathy for you. Let's be honest: if you take longer to get ready than your spouse/girlfriend, have more than a bar of soap and bottle of shampoo in your shower (a razor and shaving cream are also viable shower products as long as you're only using them on your face), or enjoy any of the other things listed above, well, a little honesty could do you some good. But I digress. After the Wolves' trade of Sam Cassell AND a #1 pick for Euro guard Marko Jaric, I've had enough. I cannot and will not stand for this anymore, and it must be said:

Someone please tell me WHY you would ever draft or trade for a European player in the NBA?!?!? (And yes that includes Tony Parker) WHY?

(Please note that I am not throwing all foreign players into this. South Americans, like Argentenian Manu Ginobili, would be a welcomed edition to any team, and players from the continent of Africa have faired well. I remember Hakeem being pretty good. China? If you think Yao Ming will ever be a true go-to player, well...)

Euros have been coming into the NBA since the early '90's, with players like the late Drazen Petrovic, and the somehow-still-alive-despite-chain-smoking-during-timeouts-Vlade Divac. More and more every year we hear about the Euros and their fundamentals, their ball-movement (insert own joke here) and how they look REALLY good in practice for the Uzbekastan Wednesday night men's league. Well that's all fine and good, but let's look at the contribution of Euro's when it really matters--the NBA Playoffs:

They are as follows...

...hang on...

...wait for it...

...ok so upon further review, Euro's have as much value in the playoffs as a single man at a women's college softball tournament. From Vlade to Peja and even ol' Dirk right on down, Euro's have had little to no impact when it matters most. And this is not just a phenomenon that applies to basketball. This little sport called hockey used to annually host a tournament, or "playoff" if you will, to determine a true champion for their sport. The winning team received the Stanley Cup. The best player in these playoffs received the Conn Smythe award as the most outstanding player. How many non-North Americans have won this award in the roughly 80 years it's been handed out? Two, both Swedes (Pete Forsberg and Nik Lidstrom). And that's it.

(Americans have won it a grand total of once, but I'm letting that go since a Canadian has never won an NBA Finals MVP. But say what you will about him not deserving the regular season MVP-and I would agree- but Steve Nash was all-world against Dallas and San Antonio. And another Canadian, Bill Wennington, made a sizeable contribution to some of those Bulls championship teams. Don't believe me? What would the three-headed-white-center have been without Wennington? And the fact he was the only man wearing the full-grown beard? Well let's just say it's starting to turn into a glass case of emotions here just thinking about it so I'll leave it at that.)

I don't care how good a player is in the regular season, but if he can't step it up and play well in the playoffs then, call me crazy, he's not a guy I want on my team. Or at least not one I'm investing big dollars in, or using a lottery pick or even a 1st round pick on. I've been over this before but give me a good North American player that's proven his talents in college, rather than some Euro who looks good in warmups and has good fundamentals but is lacking, um, well, I believe the Spanish word is cahones. And I have yet to see a Euro really strap on a pair of these in the playoffs.

So I find out Friday night, from none other than the Jer himself, who happened to be live on location from North Dakota, that the Wolves had traded Cassell to the Clips for Marko Jaric. Ok, I'm a little shocked because this means Kevin McHale has entered the digital era and gotten himself a cell phone AND found time to use it in between rounds of golf. Amazing. Then Jer drops the other shoe by mentioning good ol' Kev threw in a 1st round pick... and I think this is the part where I dropped the phone.

Hear me out on this: Sam Cassell is a detriment to the team, and was one of two parts that helped completely sabotage last season (again let me point out that the Wolves fired a top-5 NBA coach instead of getting rid of Sam and Spree &/or the man who brought them there-the Big Ugly Sweater). But he is now entering the final year of his contract, which means he's VERY tradeable. Jamal Mashburn hadn't played in two seasons but was still traded last year, and you can count on one hand the number of minutes Big Dog Robinson (who probably couldn't start for his alma mater Purdue let alone an NBA team right now) played last year and he still got traded. Why? Final year of their contracts. So McHale has a valuable commodity, and he throws it away for a Euro guard (which automatically means he plays no defense whatsoever) who can't make decisions well enough to run the point but doesn't shoot well enough to play 2 guard. Ok so that makes the deal bad enough. BUT TO THROW IN A 1ST ROUND PICK?!?!?!?!?!

I need a moment here....

...ok I'm at least able to type. Look, McHale is now not only the worst GM in the Twin Cities, he's the worst in sports. Period. When Elgin Baylor and the CLippers rips you off, you are officially the worst. And guess what? He's going to be GM until he dies!!!!!! I'm debating whether we should tell him that in professional sports, your team gets a first round pick every year, and there are teams, even right here in your own league, who use them to develop good players and teams! A crazy concept, I know. but then again, considering he's used #1's on Endi Ebi, and this year passed on guys like Danny Granger (2005 NBA rookie of the year), Gerald Green (perenial all-star in 4 years or less), and Hakim Warrick (double-double machine when put beside Garnett), maybe the Wolves are better off without draft picks.

The 6 Wolves fans that are left now officially know what it's like to be the 6 New Orleans Saints fans: in a state of eternal mediocrity with no hope of getting better or worse. But hey, at least McHale signed summer-league wonder Nikolai Tschsightitgjruewhfjdvili!! He scored 25 points in ONE FREAKING GAME THIS SUMMER!!!! His previous 3 actual NBA seasons? Slim and none.

In the end though, no matter how frustrated or upset I get, no matter how many dumb moves McHale makes, it really doesn't matter: he's not going anywhere, and neither are the Wolves.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Jeff: NFC South

4. New Orleans Saints (7-8 wins)
Who says you have to be successful to have job security? You either need a) dirty pictures of your boss (the only explanation for Kevin McHale's apparent lifetime contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves) or b) be average enough for long enough that people just stop caring. The latter would refer to head coach Jim Hasslet and the New Orleans Saints. The team has averaged 8.5 wins the last three seasons, and have won a grand total of ONE playoff game in the team's history (and it didn't come under Hasslet). They've had the same coach, same QB, same running back, same wideout, and the same mediocre defense for the fourth year running, and you know what? Nobody in New Orleans cares. Probably because the team is headed for another season of mediocrity, and there's no reason it's going to change. Welcome to the Aints.

3. Atlanta Falcons (8-9 wins)
Who's more overrated than Mike Vick? Well yeah other than Peyton Manning, I mean? Hey, I'm well aware Mike Vick is the greatest athlete to ever play the position, because I see and hear it on every game broadcast, radio station, website, magazine article or anything else covering the NFL. And yes, he's a lot of fun to watch. But he's NOT a great quarterback. Not yet. And he may never be. But don't worry, we'll continue to hear plenty about him. As for the rest of the team, Vick still has noone reliable to throw to besides TE Alge Crumpler, they don't give TJ Duckett the ball enough (and really why would you want to give it to a 250 pound battering ram 25 times a game instead of the smurf Warrick Dunn?), and the defense will come back to earth a little. Not a bad team at all and they could very well make the playoffs, it's just they're in a really good divison, and well somebody has to finish 3rd.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-10 wins)
The Bucs are back, or at least close to it. Losing Sapp and Lynch hurt in the short term but it had to be done, and considering Derrick Brooks' level of play, they obviously made the right choice on which aging defensive superstar to keep. The D doesn't have the big names yet, but still has some very good players. As always, the question in The Bay is on offense. They haven't made a ton of changes from an offense that as struggled the past few seasons- oh except for FINALLY getting a franchise running back. Yes, I think Caddy Williams makes a huge difference. Yes I think he runs for at least 1300 yds and 10+ TD's. Ronnie Brown may have gone a little higher in the draft, but there's a reason Cadillac was the starter at Auburn and he'll prove in with the Bucs. Griese's game management has improved, and the solid-but-not-spectacular receivers will continue to produce. Not the league's most exciting teams but they'll be one of the most improved.

1. Carolina Panthers (10-11 wins)
THey have 17 good running backs, the league's best defensive line-and probably the best overall defense- AND an experienced, effecient quarterback? Yeah it's little wonder this is the chic pick for the NFC this year. The Panth absolutely made the right move by letting all-pro wideout Mushin Muhammed walk to the Bears in free-agency. His blocking will be missed more than his pass catching, as Mushin's on the wrong side of 30, and they have plenty of capable hands waiting to receive the passes he got last year-especially if Steve Smith is all the way back from injury. If 246 pound rookie tailback Eric Shelton isn't starting by midseason, John Fox needs his head examined.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Jer: 3 Guesses Who I'm Talking About

You know, it's just so hard to get a trade deal done in the NBA. I mean, it's just so difficult to get all of the numbers to work and the talents to match up. It's just, it's just that it's not that easy these days and...oh wait, apparently Pat Riley doesn't think it's too difficult. Turns out in the last two years he's made trades that landed his team the most dominant player in the game and a top 20 guy in the league. Hmmmm, must not be too hard huh? Maybe it's just too hard for a guy who sucks in the front office and spends too much time on the practice floor getting buddy buddy with his players. I imagine it would be difficult to make a trade when you are completely inept at doing a job that you are paid millions of dollars to do. And anyway, why does it matter? If you know you can't lose your job, no matter how bad you are at it, why put more time in at the office than the golf course? I think I figured out why we got Dewayne Casey for a coach: because he's the only guy that was left that would play for a man that is completely incompetant when it comes to assembling a team. Draftpicks, free agents... worthless!!!

My work here is done...