Filed under: Recap
Well, that went about as according to plan. God, I hate Kentucky. I guess, in a literal sense, we did play a basketball game last night. I mean that we put five guys on the court wearing jerseys emblazoned with Kansas on the front, subbed them in and out for other guys wearing the same jerseys, for 40 minutes of intermittent play. In the most basic, fundamental sense, yes, we played a basketball game last night.
In a real world, larger concept sense, we did not play basketball. We played witness to a demolition akin to throwing a particularly bouncy corpse into a minefield. It was impressive just how many mines we were able to detonate before finally coming to rest in a pile of blood and guts. Steve Smith, Sr. was wrong. The Ravens/Panthers wasn’t a game for goggles. This was.
Fuck my life. That was a horror show IRL.
Final Score: Kansas 40-72 Kentucky
The Good: Well, I guess we got shots. Unfortunately, they were blocked. Hard. Because fuck Kentucky and their deck stacking, what with ten NBA player platoon bullshit. It was really fucking nice of them to let us crack the 40 plateau (barely), since there was a hellaciously long stretch there where that didn’t seem like a possibility. I don’t know. What else can I say? No one fouled out? I mean, if I’d been anally skewered by Gregor Clegane’s broad sword, I probably would have started throwing punches. So, kudos to you guys for not lowering yourselves like us base plebes.
The Bad: No one fouled out, which robbed the world of a bench clearing brawl and a chance for Toupee to coldcock Scumbag on national television. And that’s a travesty.
Withering Bill Self Quote of the Night: Smirnoff with one rock in hand, Toupee saunters to the dais. He glances around the room at the shellshocked reporters gathered to ask how many bodies there are in the locker room. He opens his mouth, as if to speak and pauses. He chuckles. He takes a long draw from his high ball, finishing it one go. A reporter raises his hand, to ask a question, as the lone rock slides and clicks against Self’s teeth. The tension in the room has reached a breaking point, one that somehow increase as he takes the ice cube and crushes it in his teeth. The sound of shattering ice causes the high ball glass to shatter too. Or was he crushing it. No one will ever know, as Toupee opens his mouth and speaks, unprovoked by a question from the media:
We never once did anything that resembled a team offense at all and I hope they were the primary reason why. I knew that we haven’t practiced well or done some things real well, but I didn’t think it would be like this. No matter how bad we shot it the first half we actually proved that we could shoot it a heck of a lot worse in the second.
Having spoken, he points to the first reporter that blinks. Stormin’ Norman Roberts and Kurtis “Blow” Townsend materialize from nowhere, slit the reporter’s throat and hold him in place, whispering the most horrifying things into his ear until he stops kicking. And then it is over.
Man of the Match Award: Tyler Self for an insanely efficient stab at starting a fight. One minute, one foul. Go get ‘em, tiger.
Looking Ahead: Nothing like a home game against Rider to make you feel good about yourself. Well, good enough that you don’t remember that our next three games are one of those Thanksgiving tourney things and we’ll be playing in a cafeteria. But it is on a tropical island. But it’s a cafeteria. Anyway, Rider. Going to be a fun one!
Filed under: Preview
Yesterday, I was supposed to have my third follow up visit with my orthopedic surgeon regarding that whole shattered collar bone thing. Supposed to because, well, I forgot. Like most mornings, I woke up to my alarm playing the wonderful breakdown of Aphex Twin’s “Boy/Girl” but it was earlier than usual. Not thinking about the fact that I’d set it to be an hour earlier, I set it to snooze, went back to sleep, then ended up getting up at my usual time. I fixed my Aeropress coffee1 plus a travel mug and went to work on autopilot. You know, a Monday, so I’m not totally with it, in terms of remembering things like “third followup with orthopedic surgeon about that major surgery.”
When I got to work, I accidentally popped open my Contigo mug sideways2. The bottom of the mug clearly says “do not open sideways because this thing will keep your shit hot for four-plus hours and hot things develop pressure and that scalding hot liquid will spray everywhere, like your third iPhone in six months3.” I think you can guess what happened after that. I managed to get the coffee off of it quickly and it seems to be fine. Keep in mind, I’m still oblivious to the whole skipping a doctor’s appointment thing.
Until my boss walks by my desk.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
“Wo…rk…ing?” I responded, confused.
“Don’t you have a doctor’s appointment? In Brooklyn?”
Shit. I did.
Throw in the fact that the tupperware I put my yogurt in let all the yogurt water out all over the bag I brought to carry my food and an apple with moldy core rot and you could say it was a mixed bag of bad things this morning. Nothing life ending, but still enough to make you wonder why you bother getting out of bed at all.
But as a man who believes in some kind of cosmic balance, I’m going to take this as a sign that, maybe, things are going to be even more awesome today. Like beating Kentucky awesome.
To think I kicked this season off trying to pretend like there are no omens in basketball.
Official Name: University of Kentucky
Derisive Nickname: The Undeserving
Signature Win: Beating national powerhouse Buffalo by 20. Anytime an anomalously experienced Kentucky team eeks out a win against a world beater like Buffalo after being down five at halftime, that’s a quality win. One that’s definitely going to tip the scales in Big Blue’s favor come Selection Sunday4.
Key Players: The Undeserving this year are shockingly experienced and running a pretty long bench. What’s wrong, Cal? That NBA Combine thing you ran didn’t attract enough one-and-doners5? Where’s your Anthony Davis now King Scumbag!?
Kidding! In looking at the stat lines for these guys, I was shocked that only one guy is averaging less than 10 MPG with fully ten players in double-digit minutes. While I’d like to say that Willie Caullie-Stein6 or Alex Pythress or the Harrison Twins or any of the touted frosh on this roster are truly worrisome, the guy that I’m looking at with teeth chattering is Dakari Johnson. This a man amongst boys. He’s 7′ and 255 lbs. averaging 9.5/12.5 boards. That’s frightening. Given that we don’t seem to have a big bruiser on the interior7, we’re going to approach the Johnson matchup with a don’t fuck up and pray we contain him. Unless Cliff makes a mid-season leap in five days, I see a long night in our immediate future.
Keys to Victory: Playing more like we did in the spurts of brilliance would be a great start. But that’s a lot to ask from a young team. Hopefully, we’re just smart and control the game, keeping it to our pace. If we can also pair some of the more potent offensive outbursts from guys like Graham and Gentleman Tailor with the swarming, turnover-to-transition defense we got going in the second half, I think there’s a chance to edge the Undeserving tonight. But that’s a big if.
Delicious Local (to the enemy) Beer to Avoid: Given that craft brewing seems to be new to LExington and none of the places Google spit out sell up here in the Northeast, I don’t have an opinion on Lexington beers. It probably doesn’t help that you couldn’t pay me enough money to set foot in that dumpster fire of a city…but if I were, I would be interested to check out this Lemongrass American Wheat from West Sixth Brewing. The description sounds right up my alley since I’m a sucker for any and all wheat beers. If you’re kidnapped and escape captivity in the woods near Lexington, check them out and give me a detailed description, because I’ll never know what it tastes like otherwise.
Lion Slayer vs. Wildcat: Embiid’s foot’s broken, so he’s not playing for the second worst team in the Association8 and besides, he doesn’t rock the Crimson and Blue anymore. Suggestions for an updated section here are welcome.
1 – If you’ve never enjoyed the delicious coffee that the Aeropress delivers, you’re missing out. About a year and a half ago, I went back to Larry for my friend Jana’s wedding. I crashed with my college roommate who had, since I’d seen him last at his own wedding, become something of a coffee snob (sorry, Joe, not a bad thing, since I’m one, too!). He introduced me to the Aeropress which essentially makes espresso. But better. It’s a little strong coming out of the tube, so I highly recommend doubling the liquid and going Americano. Trust me, shit’s tight. Tastes like chocolate coffee all day, every day. Back
2 – It’s apparently product placement day around the Long Distance Jayhawk offices! If only I were popular enough to get these things for free. Back
3 – Yeah…more product placement, but in my litany of shit from the other day, I forgot to mention that I had an iPhone 5S with a shattered screen and I left it in a cab. I paid full price for a replacement about six weeks before the 6 got announced. Which seemed kind of okay since I could have reupped and gotten the discount on the 6 whenever I wanted. Which naturally meant that I left the second 5S in the back of yet another cab and had to burn that discount rate on a replacement 5S. Because I’m a fucking baby who can’t be without a smart phone for up to three weeks, apparently. Back
4 – I really, really hope some Kentucky fan stumbles on this blog and flips shit about that one. I know it’ll happen because their retrograde university confers degrees like University of Phoenix, so they’re probably not savvy enough to click the hyperlink to this footnote. Or they’re too busy fighting another Kentucky fan, since I’ve seen that happen. At Madison Square Garden, no less. Back
5 – I might lose my cred around these parts, but Anthony Davis is an incredible basketball player. Schuyler, feel free to let that barf out of your mouth. Saw the Brow with the Pellies last year and he was…like an alien. Like nothing I’ve ever seen before. He’s a freak of nature that deserves all the money, endorsement deals, eventual MVPs and Championships coming to him. Speaking the NBA mill in Lexington, Bill and Jalen broke down what an all-Kentucky NBA team would look like in the most recent Grantland Basketball Hour. It’s pretty sick to think about what that team would be able to do on the court. Jalen also points out the staggering amount of money these guys have made. Look, I get that Cal is bad for college ball, but if you’re a young kid with legit NBA prospects, why would you go anywhere else? Being a one-and-done at Rupp Arena is basically a one-way ticket to swimming in a Scrooge McDuck pool of money. Back
6 – I’m all for the three name thing, I think it’s great11 since it gives you the automatic three initial nickname. But man, Willie Caullie-Stein’s name is really hard to say since I always want it to end with another -e word. Like Willie Caullie-Steiny. Back
7 – I touched on it during the Gauchos recap but we were punished inside by Williams on the offensive end. I fear what happens when we don’t box out against a guy like Johnson. Back
8 - I mean, the Sixers are bad and trying to be that way. The Lakers have taken bad to a whole other level. Greater minds than mine have put (digital) ink to (digital) paper about this topic, but the Lakers complete ineptitude is a whole other level. Whereas the Sixers are impossible to watch without wanting to bleach the images from your eyeballs, the Lakers are basically the basketball equivalent of the ending of the Snakes and Barrels episode of Metalocalypse. What they’re accomplishing is breathtaking in it’s putridness. I’m looking forward to a shit ton of things with the Lakers this year, chief among them whether Kobe sticks to his assertion that he’ll stop jacking shots once he passes Jordan on the all-time scoring list. Something tells me he won’t and he’ll continue to take all the shots. All. The. Shots. And I want him to. The look on his face during Lakers games tells me that we might be witnessing someone actually playing until their heart stops, be it from exhaustion or sheer frustration. Every Lakers game is Must See TV. Back
9 – Did I mention I got a doctorate in science over the off season? Because that should be a pretty big clue that nope. Back
10 – I think we’re better than the year we took them on at MSG (again, where I saw some Kentucky fans fight each other) and later took them on in the 2012 Championship, but I didn’t see anything against Santa Barbara that screams we’ve got this one. We both have a nice mixture of young guns and experienced players, I just don’t think ours is as good as Kentucky’s. Without going back through the archives, I’m pretty sure this is the only time I’ve picked against us in one of these. Back
11 – And suffixes on jerseys, which I’m pretty sure God’s Team is leading the league in this season with Mason III, Selden Jr., and Oubre Jr. Why doesn’t everyone on the team come up with something to tack on? I just wish we had a graduate transfer player who could write something like “future PhD.” one the end of his name. Back
Filed under: Recap
I went for a run last night. This, in and of itself, isn’t noteworthy. What is noteworthy is that going out on Sunday evening after a weekend that involved a few beers, a shit ton of Dinosaur Barbecue, and a burger, I was pretty far removed from light, fuel foods and more in the territory of sweating rib grease. It wasn’t my best run.
But halfway through, as I was struggle-facing through the second mile, I started to chuckle. Earlier in the NBA season, basketball Twitter was having a lot of fun at the expense of recently-paleo LeBron. Mostly, they were ribbing on him for looking gassed early in games. I guess because he didn’t have any carbs in his system or something. Maybe I did paleo wrong over the weekend, but I can totally commiserate with Bronny there.
It’s tough to keep up a solid effort during a workout when there’s delicious Wango Tango sauce sweating out of your eyeballs.
Final Score: Santa Barbara 59-69 Kansas
The Good: Our freshmen stepped up in huge spurts through out the game. Devonte’ Graham’s performance, in particular, was cause for early optimism with God’s Team. After hitting a dagger that I swore was a three, he caught a Magna outlet on a defensive board that he turned into an assist for Greene. I can’t stress enough how beautiful that play was. Even before the announcers said anything, I muttered that there weren’t numbers in the break and we’d have to settle for burning ten seconds of shot, then run some kind of set. But Graham…Graham had other ideas. Seeing the numbers, he slashed into the center of the lane, drawing all three defenders to him before stopping and dishing to Greene on a catch-and-shoot triple. That was some Derron Williams level shit right there.
Maybe I’ve become jaded by the last couple years of Kansas hoops and our lack of a real point, but as someone who loves point play, I loved that move. Graham could be the antidote to the shit show that has been the point guard spot for the last couple of years1. Obviously, small sample size, yadda yadda. If Graham can play like that even 70% of the time, he’s going to be knocking on the door of starting spot.
Which brings up a point I thought about as Brennan fucking Greene started: there’s no way that continues, right? Greene’s not an offensively bad player, but he’s also not a world beater. Somewhere between Landen Lucas and Connor Teahan. Which isn’t a good look for a starter. I’m looking forward to the day he gets to be the second unit heat check guy and we run the three-headed hydra of Mason-Selden-Graham.
Speaking of Renegade Cop, our defense in the second half was considerably better than the first, including two back to back steals that turned into easy transition buckets. The first was a thing of team-ball beauty. First, Magna strips the ball and outlets it to Renegade Cop for a layin. But rather than let the play settle, Traylor follows through for a tip in that doesn’t exist. Mason made it, but I’m glad that just in case, Mari was there for the putback. That’s the kind of shit people are talking about when they talk bullshit about “heart” and “hustle.”
The Bad: Defense in the first half was shaky. Stretches were good, but our guys were getting abused by Alan Williams down low. It’s going to be a long season for God’s Team on the inside if we’re running Mari against the opposing team’s center. For the bulk of college teams, it won’t be an issue since most centers are nominally so. But any bruiser that we encounter is going to punish us inside. Alexander looked good, but he’s going to need some seasoning. If he rounds into a force, I’m cautiously optimistic that it won’t be a huge issue.
Further on that, though, is the fact that we were in a too-tight eight point contest, despite the Gauchos only managing to shoot 27% in the first. By my calculations, Santa Barbara was missing a crazy number of shots, but getting a ton of easy putbacks. That’s not a sustainable way to play defense, especially since there was a lacksidaisical approach towards boxing out all night.
Final disappointment: what happened to Toupee’s claim that we were going to be a three-point bombing machine, in the mold of the Reed-Morningstar tandem? Two for ten doesn’t quite strike fear in the hearts of opponents and if we can’t abuse bigger teams inside, we should be prepared for some pretty long nights of nail-biting excitement2.
Withering Bill Self Quote of the Night: Sometimes, you have to track a little dirt in the place to get the dub:
We need to develop an identity. We’re going to need to win games muddy.
Could be a long season, guys. Maybe time to buckle the fuck up.
Man of the Match: Manga Mari was all over the place. Sure, it was a little uncontrolled, like a sophomore year T-Rob, but you gotta love the kid’s hustle. He was everywhere, ripping down ten boards, a pair of blocks, and that steal that turned into a wonderful Renegade Cop layup. Sure, he could have gotten the gaudy stat line of the Gentleman Tailor, but I’ll take a hustle-heart guy looking like a whirling dervish anytime over a Seven-Time All-Star Joe Johnson-esque double-double.
Looking Ahead: We’ve got a Kentucky team that’s supposedly the best in the world. You’re so fucking good, Wildcats, why are you struggling to top Buffalo? I’m no Buffalo hoops expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s a 40-point ass stomping on a silver platter. Get out of here with your 19-point nonsense.
1 – I say that in full understanding that I was (and still would be) a champion for Tharpalooza. I don’t think he was an offensively bad point guard, by any stretch of the imagination. But when you’re comparing him to the Aaron Mileses and Sherron Collinses of the world, then it becomes harder to say he’s a good point guard with a straight face. I hope he’s doing well wherever he is these days and that he’s in a place where it’s totally chill to have your hook up candids posted on Twitter for everyone to say “What a baller” instead of “What a problem case.” Back
2 – Hashtag sad face. Back
Filed under: Preview
The other day at work, I was listening to Glass Boys by Fucked Up. It’s a strange record by a band that I love. Rather than record the drums like, you know, normal people, they decided to record like four drum tracks for every song. The end result is a pretty intense feel of claustrophobic drumming and Damian Abraham bellowing…well, who fucking knows. The guy’s mostly unintelligible. What Glass Boys did was send me down a rabbit hole of classic Fucked Up tracks. I went to go-tos like “Black Albino Bones” from Chemistry of Common Life, as well as the title track from that record. Such good shit on that one. Well, if you’re into Canadian hardcore bands that write epic concept records with like eight minute long songs. You know, if you’re into shit like that.
At some point, I cued up the album before Glass Boys, David Comes to Life. I listened through the first four tracks before getting to “Turn the Season.” That’s when something hit me that so rarely shows up in my life: emotions1.
You see, over the summer, my girlfriend broke up with me. I can’t say that I was really good at being in a relationship, probably at all, but definitely in the final six months of that relationship. I took for granted a lot of things and didn’t put in nearly the amount of time that needed to be put in. Because I’m an asshole, probably. The thing is that I’d slept on David Comes to Life for a couple months after it came out. Despite loving Fucked Up, I just never got around to listening to it2. When I first started talking to Alex, she mentioned that she really liked that record, so I bought it and, naturally, I became obsessed3. I especially loved “Turn the Season.”
While we were getting to know each other through email, I was dog sitting for Schuyler and Patrick. Every time I took the dog out, I’d bring the headphones along with me and listen to that cut. It became a song that I very closely related to the beginning of something4. It’s a great song, regardless of the association.
But, hearing it at work, I was struck by a feeling of sadness. Maybe I hadn’t processed the end of the relationship very well. I’d managed to move on somewhat quickly and thought that was a sign that subconsciously, I had moved on. But maybe I hadn’t.
I don’t know. I was feeling something and, honestly, I didn’t like it.
The thing is that running it back so many times, I realized that, like a lot of Fucked Up songs, the music sounds optimistic, anthemic, something that you would use to get ready to punch through a wall. But the lyrics…man, the lyrics. That shit’s sad5. The song is basically David dealing with the death of Veronica. The music lifts you up, but the lyrics are centered around David dealing with Veronica’s death.
(And he said) “I have never been as happy as I am today”,
(But then the seasons turned and the darkness came)
“So when it all falls apart I will have peace in my heart”
(Try to think of the healing that comes out of the pain).
“Try to redeem myself for mistakes in advance”,
(The sun will always shine after the rain)
“I know that when I fall down I’ll get another chance”
(Just wipe away the tears and try again).
See what I mean? If you listen to the song in the video link above, tell me you don’t feel like you’re eight feet tall when that part comes up. But, I mean, that’s not optimistic shit.
Which is something I didn’t really think about back then, when I was listening to it all the time. I was hooked to the line “Never been as happy as I am today.” But the rest of it is a hard look in the mirror about how, maybe, the choices you’ve made fucked something up (heh) or that you’re really the reason for the bad things that happen around you.
So, I got through the deep dive into depressing songs. But I definitely feel like I understand my own role in the breakup. Action by inaction, I suppose6.
In previous seasons, I liked to draw some kind of portent out of crazy weather or something weird that happened to me. Because I’m like that, you know? I wanted to draw on the whole breakup thing or the fact that I shattered my collar bone back in August, but I don’t think these things have anything to do with whether or not the Jayhawks are going to have a good season.
That’s just the truth.
I don’t have any control over Kansas, yet I act like I do. I wear lucky shirts, I consider my KU hat to be the most important pice of apparel I own. None of that has any impact on the play of my favorite team. And neither does snow on Halloween, a breakup, or a shattered collar bone.
The only thing that matters are the 15 guys on the roster and what they want to do. Do they want to win? Do they want to prove that Kansas isn’t some hearty winter rose, wilting with the first thaw of spring? Or will they live up to the choker reputation that we (unfarily, duh) get pretty much every March. What matters is the returning guys, notably Gentleman Tailor, Shape Shifting Lizard Man Eyes, and Renegade Cop. What matters are the departing guys, Maple Jordan and Hinrich Mathers. What matters are the new dudes who don’t even have nicknames yet, so they get their names regular here: Oubre, Graham.
What matters is that Toupee is still there, running the show like a portly, hair piece wearing Napoleon.
What matters is that it matters to us, the faithful. I don’t put any stock in my trip down to Depressionville or my newly robotic collar bone. We’re going to do what we’re going to do, and we, the fans, are along for the ride.
I’m glad this shit’s back. I needed this. Let’s get it done tonight. Gauchos are going down.
1 – Yeah, emotions. Those things that regular folks have, but I tend to not have. Part of me worries that maybe I’m really a sociopath and I can’t admit it. Another part of me worries that I’m tamping down emotions and I’m going to boil over one day in a meltdown. So, if you read about a crazy Jayhawk fan going Charles Whitman, it totally wasn’t me. I’m just an asshole that doesn’t deal with emotions. Or something. Man, that got fucking dark. Moving on. Back
2 – People who knew me in college would probably find that inconceivable since I was a cliche of hipster tropes. I bought music weekly, pretty much. Lovegarden was probably the most often visited place on Mass St. for me. But, for whatever reason, I moved to New York and my music listening fell off a cliff. I’ve been trying to get back into it. For a while there, I was really bad about getting and proselytizing new music. Life happens, I guess. Back
3 – It should be pointed out that Fucked Up pretty much sounds the same all the time. They’re so fucking good that writing a staggering number of similar sounding songs isn’t an issue for them. Unlike some bands, it works for them. Kind of like Every Time I Die. Just keep churning out those hits and I’ll keep listening to them, guys. Back
4 – At the time, we were just emailing, having not met each other in real life. I guess that’s what happens in this crazy digital world when a mutual friend wants to set you up. I’d pass some kind of contrarian judgement on the exercise, but at the same time, I ended up in a relationship with her for two and a half years. Back
5 - David Comes to Life is about a guy named David who works in a light bulb factory. Like I said, this band is really into elaborate concept records. Anyway, David and a woman named Veronica, who’s some kind of anarchist, fall in love, then plot to bomb the light bulb factory. David feels an intense dread that something bad will happen, a dread rewarded when Veronia is blown up. Then, they find out that there’s a puppet master named Ocatvio running the story. Through a whole shit ton of songs (there’s like 20 cuts on this record), David is wrecked by Veronica’s death, but ultimately decides that knowing her was good, rewarding. Which is the conclusion drawn in the excellent album closer “Lights Come Up” (fun side note: the album ends with the same amplifier feedback that starts the album, and given that the whole thing is conceived as a story being narrated, implies that the story never really ends, just goes back to the beginning). Anyway, I thought that the plot was kind of important, so keep this shit in mind when you go back up to the top. Back
6 – To be fair, I probably put too much importance on basketball, especially at the end, than the relationship itself. Tough thing to admit on a blog ostensibly devoted to basketball, but that’s the truth. The real question is: can I learn from that mistake? I don’t know. We’ll see what happens during Kansas basketball season. Back
Filed under: Uncategorized
If you know me, you know that I love the NFL. College ball has its charms, but the pro game has better athletes, more compelling story lines, and some of the most inventive strategists in all of sports. But off the field, the NFL is – to put it mildly – flawed. The league’s scorched Earth business practices make Mr. Burns look like the Ralph Nader, and the alacrity with which Roger Goodell deep-sixed damning evidence connecting football to irreversible brain damage put the commissioner in a class with Oliver North. I’m jaded enough now that when the league pulls some stupid shit, I just laugh it off. That is until Roger Goodell decided to take his I-am-a-human-shit-sandwich act to a whole other level.
The very notion that you had to see the video of Ray Rice cold-cocking his then-fiancee-now-wife in order to make a sweeping gesture is sickening. Did you see the aftermath video?Because we all did and somehow we were able to come to the conclusion that Janay Rice not slip into a diabetic coma in that elevator. Her then-fiancee-now-husband was not agitated because he feared for her safety. No. Just no. Any person who can conjure up just one shred of logical reasoning would see the video from outside the elevator and conclude that Ray Rice did something horrific in there. And he did, as the video TMZ bore out.
It smacks of brand protection and willful ostrich syndrome to conclude otherwise. Two games was a travesty,a mile-high middle finger to the NFL’s female fans. Rice should have been suspended indefinitely immediately, if not banned for life outright. Because fuck that, Mr. Goodell. FUCK THAT. Rice’s actions have no place in the world at large and they absolutely have no place in your league. Your gold-plated TV deal does not absolve you of exhibiting a modicum of human decency. You could have taken a stance months ago, meting out a punishment that would have shown this behavior to be unacceptable to the players in your league and the rest of the world. You could have said this kind of behavior is unacceptable. But instead you decided to arbitrarily pull a number out of a hat. Two games seemed reasonable to you? Really? And to pretend like the league never saw the video (riiiiight) and therefore couldn’t come to a real decision – it’s just pathetic.
I know it’s been done to death, point of comparison and such, but let’s just look at some other famous suspensions. Pete Rose was a gambler1. He’ll never get in the Hall of Fame because he liked to wager on games. Eight Chicago White Sox players received a ban for life from Kennisaw Mountain Landis on flimsy evidence of taking money to fix the 1919 World Series. Michael Vick was given an indefinite suspension2. You know, for the whole dogfighting thing3, sick in it’s own right. A recent example, oft brought up these days, is Josh Gordon. Who smoked pot and failed two drug tests4. Because pot totally gives you an edge on the ol’ gridiron. What the NFL is saying, to take the preceding examples as precedent is that women rate somewhere below, in no particular order:
- Poor bastards who had the misfortune of playing for a notoriously tight fisted asshole5, who thought that cheating for money in a child’s game masquerading as adult employment was a preferable course
Doesn’t that seem fundamentally fucked to you, Gooddell?
So, how do I continue to watch and support a sport that considers itself above the law and clearly couldn’t give two shit about half its potential fans7? I don’t know.
I really don’t know.
Fuck you, Roger Goodell for not using your position to make a statementtk8fn until you’d seen the video. Seriously, man, fuck you. No one thought that she had just slipped. And to pretend like the league never saw the video (which I think is a lie) and therefore couldn’t come to a real decision, so you go with two games is pathetic.
The only thing I’ve seen that made me feel better was Katie Nolan calling out pretty much everyone. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. It might restore a little faith in humanity.
1 – I know it’s a different sport, as is the second example. Bear with me, since I would define this as setting something of precedent within the fiefdoms of professional sports. Back
2 – Subsequently lifted, thanks to good behavior and a modicum of contrition. Whether or not the contrition was sincere will be left up to higher arbiters of moral rectitude than myself. Back
3 – You could, perhaps, make a case that Vick was convicted in federal court and served federal prison time for his crimes, which makes it more of a “proven asshole” situation. But, given the media shit show and the fact that NFL was trotting out ads about Matt Hasselbeck being a great father around that time, I’m pretty sure they would have suspended him no matter what. Because the NFL has perpetually dealt with an image problem. Back
4 – As you’re all probably aware, Gordon is currently serving a 16 game suspension when, if he weren’t playing in the NFL and living in the kush-y confines a few of our more forward thinking states, he’d probably be employee of the month. Back
5 – Charles Comisky. In the interest of disclosure, yes, I root for the White Sox. Back
6 – Not to puff up my favorite commish, Adam Silver, but Goodell could take a page from Nosferatu over there. Sure, the NBA (and let’s not kid ourselves, all serious NBA fans) knew that Sterling was a loathsome pile of human garbage, but what did Silver do when presented with the tape? He made a swift and decisive action, forcing out an owner that his predecessor seemed unwilling or incapable of kicking out. Back
7 – Again, legal in a fair number of states at this point. Maybe you could envision some kind of Reefer Madness alternate reality or maybe an R. Crumb-esque stoned-out hippie, but the reality is that most people give zero fucks about pot at this point. Normal, fully functioning human beings managed to puff, puff, pass without being a blight on society. Certainly, most forward thinkers on the issue would consider pot smoking to be approximately 4,293 rungs above Dog Fighting Aficionado in the realm of character traits. This is made all the more sad when Domestic Abuser is apparently more socially acceptable in the NFL’s mind than casual toker. Back
Filed under: NBA
On Wednesday night, I went to the Yankees game. The night before, I’d been present for the Nets’ home finale against the Knicks where the product put on display was a horrific affront to the good name of basketball. The Nets seemed completely disinterested in the game on all fronts, beginning from the opening tip. Sure, the assault on the purity of the game weathered some FARTDOG1 and a pair of back-to-back Plumblebum dunks to put it away. I mean…Iman fucking Shumpert got the dunk of the year, in my book, after demolishing a tomahawk that was ooped to him off the backboard. On a fast break.
It was a brutal, dispirited affair that I likened to a hostage situation. Having paid for the ticket months ago2, I felt compelled to go, which made it all the more painful to endure such a shellacking. I started to try and find silver linings, like the possibility that JR Smith would net 42 points then spend the postgame interview trying to explain that he did it on purpose since it was Jackie Robinson Day. A claim that would seem dubious, given that he still managed to jack up like five more threes before the final buzzer.
Anyway, I left almost immediately after the Shumpert dunk. Fuck that shit. Stick around to see Marquis “Black Angel of Death, in Either Direction” Teague pretend like he isn’t pissed that he’s fourth on the depth chart as his teammates punt the ball out of bounds? The problem with the game was that I realized, with the starting lineup and our inability to try to stop a Knicks team with nothing but pride on the line, what we were doing.
We were doing our goddamnest to avoid meeting up with Chicago in the first round3. Because we hate fun, I guess. Or the Raps are a better matchup. I already knew what was going to happen against Cleveland on Wednesday, which is why I went to the Yankees game with some friends. We started all bench players, only used seven guys, and got smoked. I had more fun watching some baseball than I would have watching the Nets fuck their way to a shortsighted attitude towards the Playoffs.
See, I’d much rather have taken the Bulls in the first round. Sure, the Raptors will probably be an easier matchup, one that we’ll take in fewer games than if we were to take on the Thibbedeauian Bulls4. Here’s the rub: in an effort to win a series, we’ve set fire to the forest so we can reveal the crazy army of Dothraki on the other side. I would have taken the Bulls, honestly, because I think the experience of the Nets could top the reeling, deathspiraling Pacers. Now? We get to play a fun Toronto team that we’ll top in five, probably. Then get smoked by the Heat in the second round5. The organization, from top to bottom, wants to win a single round so badly that they’re willing to completely jeopardize future rounds to that end.
Anyway, for those interested, I’m going to give short thoughts and predictions on the first round series below. I went ahead and made predictions for the entire Playoffs. If you’re a betting type, I suggest you go against everything I predict. If I picked your favorite team, I’m so sorry.
8 Atlanta Hawks v. 1 Indiana Pacers - What’s wrong with the Pacers? Probably not too much that a thrashing of the lowly Hawks couldn’t cure. That’s been the narrative around the Pacers for more or less the back end of the season. And to be fair, they haven’t looked like the same team that gave us a fucking great series against the Defending Evil Empire last Eastern Conference Finals. That said, the Hawks are fucking garbage. I’ve seen them twice and other than Kyle Korver being cartoonishly tall to be listed as a shooting guard, there’s little inspiring about them. Shit…they’re in the Playoffs and the Suns, who were a wonderful story in addition to being fun to watch and featuring both of the Morrii, are staying home this April. Bummer town. Make the Hawks pay, Indy. Do it for Markieff and Marcus.
Pacers in 5
5 Washington Wizards v. 4 Chicago Bulls - It would be just like the Bulls to make a deep run in the Playoffs after losing Rose for a second straight season. Right? I’m not crazy to see Thibbs flipping the bird to expectations and bone crushing his way to an ECF meeting with the Evil Empire. Washington’s been a kind of fun, kind of meh team all season. Too up and down, in terms of play for the Bulls who are going to keep these games to sub-165 combined points. Trust me, this is going to be a tough series to watch. Just trust me on this pick and skip the games.
Bulls in 5
6 Brooklyn Nets v. 3 Toronto Raptors - Oh, this old chestnut! How I’ve missed you experience v. youthful athleticism narrative. It’s been a while, buddy. Sit down, tell me how you’ve been. Yeah? That’s great, man. Remember the last time you came over? And we turn the sound up until it felt like we were two months in the future? Welcome to the future, man. It’s going to be loud. Because, honestly, we’re not going to have too much to cheer after we hang for the next ten days. Hopefully that whole double tax thing won’t keep you from getting stronger.
Nets in 6
7 Charlotte Bobcats v. Miami Heat - The good news: America is going to have a chance to get acquainted with cartoon stickman Chris Douglas-Roberts on nationally televised games. The bad news: you’ve got four games to enjoy that shit.
Miami in 4
8 Dallas Mavericks v. 1 San Antonio Spurs - One last showdon in the Lone Star between Dirk and Duncan. If you’re not excited to see the final act of this play, you’re missing out. There’s no way that this one goes down easy for the Spurs. But it will go down, eventually. Because when Pop talks about how he loves a little red win while diagramming plays, that’s a euphemism for drinking the blood of babies. The eternal youth their rich platelets give him, it’s what keeps his mind young and sharp
Spurs in 6
5 Portland Trailblazers v. 4 Houston Rockets - Outside of my rooting interest in the Ballers, this is the matchup I’m most amped about. Both of these teams are fun, frisky teams. Both are a treat to watch, especially if you’re really into free flowing hoops. Love this matchup so much. I’d love to call for the upset. Hell, I’m tempted to call it. But I saw the Rockets earlier this season a Barclays and it is really, really hard to put into words what they look like. It’s like a barrage of brutal, efficient shooting. They space the floor. They gun. They have little fear. And they’re fast. So. Fucking. Fast. Portland’ll make it interesting, but expect at least one Rockets curbstomping of the Blazers before Houston moves on to the next round.
Rockets in 6
6 Golden State Warriors v. 3 Los Angeles Clippers - I love Steph Curry. He enters the game in Heat Check mode. It’s really fun to watch him test the waters of 35-footers. Mostly because he hits them. I’m pretty sure this is going to be a tightly contest series, on a game-by-game basis. But the Clips are due. Like a millenium of futility? And now they have a fun, great team featuring Deandre Jordan playing like he’s been on 10x multiplier all season. CP3 is CP3. Blake’s a fucking god of dunks that’s decided to round out his game to flummox opponents. It’ll be a short series, but I doubt it’ll be short on drama.
Clippers in 5
7 Memphis Grizzlies v. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder - Did you check my totally filled out bracket up there? Did you? No way Durant is missing the inevitable match up with Harden. Not because he’s not buds with the Beard. No, this is narrative. America craves their narrative. Plus, I want Durant to face Harden, beat him, then win a title so a certain sporty guy writer can stop beating that dead horse. The beard’s a fucking monster, but Durant’s a whole other genus of basketball massacre artist. Also, the Grizz? They’re good. They’re just standing in the way of destiny.
Thunder in 6
One final thought. I know a lot of you coming here are fans of God’s Team. Maybe you fall in the camp of not watching the NBA. Maybe you only pay attention to the Playoffs. Maybe you should start watching the NBA, since it’s like college, but without the oftentimes sloppy play. That’s an argument for another day. Whatever your reason for being here, I suggest you pick a team now. I can certainly dissuade you from picking the Nets. We’re not doing shit now6. Nor in the future. Honestly, if you have no rooting interest, I can whole-heartedly recommend the Thunder. They feature Durant, riding high on an MVP caliber season in addition to being the most fascinating player I’ve ever seen in real life. They’re good. Real good. And they’re my pick to go all the way. Get on the bandwagon before it leaves you in the dust.
1 – For those unfamiliar with FARTDOG, it’s something from Seth at Posting and Toasting that essentially means that the Knicks’ guards let opposing guards drop career numbers on them. Because they’re the Knicks. And they’re terrible. On a related note, if you’re a fan of this blog and want someone who’s kind of, sort of the same caliber of writing (doom, gloom, funny nicknames, and shit), then I’d highly recommend Posting and Toasting7. I don’t particularly like the Knicks, but I read P&T pretty much every day. The best part is, I didn’t even realize I was kind of biting Seth’s style, since I didn’t even know it existed till this season! Back
2 – It was part of the Blue Nights promotion that was meant to honor the Dodgers, while giving us plebes a discounted rate to a bunch of meaningless games at the end of the season. Of course, imagine my surprise as the Knicks game started to seem like it might have some meaning, for the Knickerbockers anyway. Of course, Knicks gonna Knicks and they had the good sense to get eliminated on a night off three days in advance, robbing me of at least getting to see the possibility that the Ballers’ third unit and KG would allow pride to carry the day. Oh, well. C’est la vie. Other appropriate cliches. Back
3 – If you’re not a fan of the Association or one of these “I only watch college because it’s…something…not those gold hoarding muscles masses” types, you missed out on a fun first round series last year. I vividly remember the triple OT game where Nate Robinson went bonkers, scoring 12 points on his own to erase Brooklyn’s lead. Hell, Gerald Wallace attempted to take him out of the game on a screen in the backcourt he didn’t see coming. Nate Rob looked like he’d shit his pants afterwards. Still killed us in that one. What a fun series, even if the Ballers ended up losing. Back
4 – Who, by the way, could have punted the season after D-Rose went down. Think about it: Rose goes down, they could have just lost a shit ton of games, then gotten a Parker/Wiggins/Randle to slot into their team with Rose/Noah. Noah’s contract goes up at the end of next season (I think), but one year with those two and a touted rookie? They could have just continued their run of excellent teams. Instead, they trade Luol Deng and proceeded to finish in the top half of the Eastern Playoffs. Thibbedeau is insane. Like lunatic insane. Pride means more to that man than stockpiling for the future. It’s almost admirable.Back
5 – Anyone want to mention the Nets’ sweeping of the Heat in the regular season? Come on, raise your hand. I won’t be harsh. Okay, look, we swept the Heat. And that was fucking rad. Fun games, especially the last one where Plumbles managed to block The Best Basketball Player in the World on a game winning dunk. That was awesome, believe me. But it means nothing. If you think for a second that King James doesn’t watch a YouTube of the block every night of this potential series to get psyched up, you don’t know how embarrassed he wants to make poor Mason. I predict that the first time Plumlee checks into the game, LeBron dunks on him. Then, dunks on him every play that he’s on the court until he’s suffering from PTSD and Kidd keeps slipping him laudanum to keep him from slitting his wrist on the sidelines. Fuck…this could get brutal. Back
6 – Or in the future, for that matter. All the talk about the Ballers Down the Street having experience doesn’t mean much when we’ve built a team full of supreme flight risks. Truth is a free agent after this season (the optimist in me likes to think that Pierce would come back to Brooklyn for like two years, just to try and finish what he started). Big Ticket could retire at the end of the year. We still have Joe “Paint Drying has Waaaaay More Personality” Johnson’s albatross of a contract. Ditto Lopez, who we’re paying so much for the next seeming million years that there’s no way we stick with the crazy small ball that’s worked this season in favor of Plumbles. The future is bleak. We went all in on a team that’s going to get get cleaved in half by the vengeful battle axe of Miami. Bummer. We won’t see a rookie after Plumlee on the squad in my lifetime, since the only course of action now is to keep overpaying aging stars and unloading draft picks or try tanking in a market that’ll probably abandon the team during an extended rebuilding period (read: more than this year’s disastrous start to the season, or more commonly called “more than one season”). It’s going to be rough. Back
7 – On a somewhat related note, P&T is the SBNation Knicks’ blog. It’s incredible, top to bottom. Every post is like a Jimi Hendrix-esque, LSD-in-the-bandana “Voodoo Chile” kalidescopic journey through the tourture of a putrid season. Meanwhile, the Nets Daily is a sort of staid, boring run through of what happens in and around the Nets organization. I’m sure the writers over there are great guys, but it lacks the panache of a P&T. Back
Filed under: March Madness
[Editor’s Note - Still taking questions about the previous season for a postseason recap. You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Here’s part 2 of the official Long Distance Jayahawk March Sadness Sweet Sixteen preview. If you missed part 1, you can check it out here. Technically, I’m writing this on Wednesday night, so this intro isn’t going to touch on how terribly I did with my picks last night. Just assume that some of my more emotion based picks were probably dogs. Ultimately, we know nothing about who will win. You can pretend like you do. You do not. Also, as with Part 1, I’m going ahead and giving you my Elite Eight picks and my Final Four. You know, since I’m writing this in the future and I don’t plan on writing anything over the weekend.
Tennessee Volunteers vs. Michigan Wolverines (7:15pm, CBS) - This would be much more fun if Bruce Pearl hadn’t disgraced his way out of college ball for a couple years. I’m glad his spray tan is going to be patrolling the sidelines again1, especially if it tranlslates to Auburn being competitive at hoops. Do I trust this Volunteers team to take care of Stauskas and the Wolverines? Am I still bitter about last year? We were, according to the win probability chart I’ve seen bouncing around Twitter, supposed to win that fucking game all the way until it went to overtime. After that, we were toast. I’m pretty sure karma exists and the god’s were pretty pissed about the Prophet cock punching our season into the ether. Yeah, I’m about to make a pick to make me feel better.
Kentucky Wildcats vs. Louisville Cardinals (9:45pm, CBS) - That 2012 Kentucky team is the exception to the one-and-done hitman squad being able to win a title. The exception. Not the rule. I don’t know that we’ll necessarily see another team like that in the next couple of years. The stars just have to align in a way that I think is 99% dumb luck. Naturally, Slimeball will be the head coach for that next team, as he was in 2012 and he was for the 2008 TEAM REDACTED2. However, I don’t think that team is going to be taking the court against a Pitino led Cardinals who returned Russdiculous and Kevin Love, Jr. They’ve been there. I think Randle’s got more talent in his left nut than most of the Louisville team. But I think experience trumps talent in this one.
ELITE EIGHT: Tennessee vs. Louisville - Tennessee can’t pull this off without their oompa loompa colored head coach. They’ve had a good run. Scenes from an Italian Restaurant’s going to be getting one step closer to adding on to that shoulder piece he got last year.
Connecticut Huskies vs. Iowa State Cyclones (7:27pm, TBS) - I teaser trailered it in the last piece, sure, but I like Iowa State. Sure, Georges Niang was a beast on the inside, but I kind of feel like they’ll be going full-on 2013 Louisville here. Sure, the Ware injury is a horrifying thing, one I hope to never have to see again. But, that injury galvanized the Cardinals. Iowa State’s winning this one for Ames is Georges.
Pick: Iowa State
Michigan State Spartans vs. Virginia Cavaliers (9:57pm, TBS) - Lupe Izzo will be furiously praying the rosary in the stands. I can feel it. The over/under on crowd shots which include her has to be 10.5, right? She’s a fixture of tournament games for the Spartans, more so even than the ridiculous Sparty mascot. However, I feel like Virginia has this one. Izzo’s squad is good, but not the brutal team they usually are. And despite pundits and announcers trying to jam the whole “peaking at the right time” narrative down my throat, pointing to Izzo being a master of getting his team to peak at the right time, I just don’t feel like that’s a real thing. If it were, shouldn’t he, the coach who gets his team to peak at the right time every year, have won literally every championship since at least 2000? He’s a good coach, but all that peaking isn’t going to help them topple the most stealth #1 seed left in the bracket.
ELITE EIGHT: Iowa State vs. Virginia - If you looked at my bracket yesterday, you’ll notice that Kansas is the only Final Four team I had that’s been bounced. Then, I picked against one of them yesterday by ejecting Arizona. Not happening this time around. Cyclones are going roll Virginia for a trip to the Final Four. Huzzah to the Real Mayor of Ames!
Pick: Iowa State
1 - I have to say that the show-cause penalty has to be the most insane thing in any employment field ever. Basically, the NCAA can’t, I suppose, bar you from being hired to coach basketball. But they can certainly kneecap your ability to effectively do it by barring you from recruiting. Which is what happened to Pearl. I’m sure I’ve discussed it here before, but it’s crazy to me because, let’s say that something came up like a coach died or had to take a leave of absence. A team could have hired Pearl to finish out the year, knowing full well that he wouldn’t have been able to continue, since he wouldn’t have been able to recruit. How crazy is that? Back
2 - Sometimes, I wonder about what it’s like to be other fanbases. Like, do they feel better about their team’s success? Do they actually have a leg to stand on, in terms of true tournament success? Specifically, Kentucky and the oh-so-lovely (read: completely irrational and, save for a lone VCU fan in 2011, most likely to take issue with literally anything I say about Kentucky, including the Kentucky Derby, which I love!) Obviously, Kentucky has the edge in championships, but keep in mind that five of them came during the easier pre-expasion era (ten of UCLA’s eleven titles came prior to ’85 expansion). I enjoy rooting for a perennially competitive team, one that wins a lot, one that excels so often, even in talent poor years. What we have is better to me than being a Kentucky fan. I couldn’t imagine having to be that defensive about my favorite team. Here’s another thing that, to me is important. Since the expansion of the tournament to 64+ teams, with the competition and the road to titles become considerably more arduous, we’ve won two titles. In title order, here are all the teams with multiple titles since expansion:
- Four Titles: Duke (’91, ’92, ’01, ’12)
- Three Titles: Kentucky (’96, ’98, ’12); North Carolina (’93, ’05, ’09); Connecticut (’99, ’04, ’11)
- Two Titles: Kansas (’88, ’08); Florida (’06, ’07), Louisville (’86, ’13)
Jesus, I can’t believe I remembered nearly all of those, including the years (did some fact checking, but I almost had UConn with two…I always forget that ’99 title and Louisville’s ’86 title). To put that in perspective, everyone’s favorite “ready for March” team, Michigan State has won one (’00) and appeared in another (’09). Outside of the above list, no one else has won more than a single title since the ’85 tourney and the 64 team field. The tournament is impossible to win. It takes skill, talent, luck, and probably a healthy does of black magic. Also of note is that only half the teams listed above did it with a single coach:
- Duke (Coach K),
- Florida (Bayou Billy)
- Connecticut (your incorrigible drunk uncle from Braintree, MA Jim Calhoun)
Benedict Williams is close, netting two for the Tar Heels (’05, ’09…and you couldn’t have thrown us a bone in 15 years?) with the ’93 title belonging to the Untouchable, Dean Smith. Scenes From an Italian Restaurant Pitino did it with two teams (Kentucky in ’96, Louisville in ’13) and Kentucky did it with three coaches (Pitino in ’96, Tubby Smith in ’98, Calipari in ’12). So, given that, in the 30 years since expansion, 19 titles belong to seven schools, speaks to their dominance, sure, but that’s still seven schools! Keep in mind none of those schools, especially Duke, has more than four alone should prove how impossibly difficult it is to actually win the tournament. If your sole motivation for following God’s Team is to see us win National Championships, it’s going to be a long, perpetually disappointing series of Marches3.
Would I love more titles? Of course. Who wouldn’t? But to have two when so many other teams (including UCLA, king shit of championship mountain) haven’t gotten more than one titles in this era, I feel like we’ve made a solid showing. If we’re measuring ourselves against all the titles in another program’s history, there’s honestly no chance we’ll ever catch up. Winning’s too fucking hard. My buddy Andrew and I have often talked about being in the tournament every year, guaranteed, or having an assured title then flaming out. For my money, some of my favorite teams failed to win it all (love, loved the 2002-03, 2009-10, and 2011-12 vintages the same as 2007-08). I’d take making the tournament and loving the team over the flip side of winning it all one year and getting punted for the Not In Tournament’s first round in the following year. That’s true embarrassment. All that said, I think Andrew put it was better thusly: “And let me tell you something you already know – I would rather swim the length of the Gowanus Canal than root for UK. There’s no program on Earth that I’d care to imitate less.” For those not in the know, Gowanus Canal is a Superfund site. Back
3 - One other, quick tangent: my parents are Carolina fans. Die hard. I was born a year after Carolina won the first championship of their lifetimes (’82, predating expansion and quite a while since they’d graduated). In my lifetime, their team has just one more than Kansas. They’ve been through some rough, rough times. Like the Matt Doherty era, when the players openly revolted after a barftastic season (naturally paving the way for Benedict to his alma mater, but hey!). They’ve spent a lot of Marches not seeing their team win it all. That’s the status quo, as long as the road is as hard as it is. The tournament is a crap shoot. It’s easier if you embrace it and enjoy the titles when they come and let the losses roll off (unless it’s UNI or VCU, in which case, never forget). Back