Screw You, Yi

July 5, 2007

If you’re going to come play in the NBA, you should have to play for the team that drafts you. Period.

Yi Jianlian seems to think the rules don’t apply to him, and he’s trying to force a trade from Milwaukee. So far the Bucks are holding firm, writes Marty Burns, and I say good for them. As Burns notes:

After all, what is the point of having a draft if players don’t have to report to their new teams?

What if Greg Oden refused to play in Portland? Or Kevin Durant in Seattle?

You have no inherent right to play in a large market where there are lots of Asian people, Yi. Suck it up and go play in Milwaukee.

In other NBA news, the Phoenix Suns have signed Grant Hill, in a move that puzzles me–they already have Jalen Rose riding the bench, and Hill isn’t any better at this point, in my estimation. I’m also excited to see the debut of the new-look Portland Trailblazers Friday night as they take on the Celtics scrubs in the Las Vegas Summer League. I wonder what the over/under is for Oden dunks on Leon Powe?


Karma and the NBA Draft Lottery

May 23, 2007

As a bitter Celtics fan today, I will try to keep this brief. The NBA draft lottery results show that tanking is undoubtedly wrong because even when you debase your franchise by throwing the season on purpose, you just get more ping pong balls, which is no guarantee of later success (one would’ve thought the Celtics had learned this lesson a decade ago, but I digress…). The bad karma kept Memphis, Boston, and Milwaukee from reaping the reward for their disgusting display during the 2006-07 campaign, and I think there is some amount of justice in that.

Congratulations to Portland fans, who will team a franchise center with their other good young players to make a run at the playoffs next year and probably for a decade to come. The interesting question for the Blazers is whether they now choose to deal the troubled Zach Randolph and move LaMarcus Aldridge to PF with Oden at center. That team could use a veteran mentor-type, even if they have to trade Randolph for a lot less than his scoring and rebounding would suggest he’s worth.

Seattle also won last night, with Durant likely heading to that franchise, wherever it ends up playing. Bill Simmons indicated this might save NBA basketball in that city in his column yesterday (I await his depressing column this afternoon on the results), and the major question for the Sonics will now be whether Rashard Lewis becomes expendable in free agency. Durant could project as a 3 or 4 in the pros, and if the Sonics keep Lewis, the trio of Lewis, Durant, and Ray Allen could be an exceedingly entertaining, prolific offensive group.

I know there are other guys in the draft who could end up being pretty good too, and the Celtics could get a nice player at #5, but this is all pretty hard to take right now. When your team blows the season on purpose, you feel like there damn well better be some reward for enduring the taunts of your friends about an 18-game losing streak.

MORE: Henry Abbott says not to assume Portland will take Oden necessarily. Eric Wilbur says the Celtics are now officially irrelevant.


Gloating Part II

April 3, 2007

So I was right in predicting a Florida-Ohio State national final and a Florida victory. Where’s my prize? This at least proves that I am a better predictor of sporting events than marshmallows.

The CBS coverage was the usual. Billy Packer obsessed over the big guys getting winded the entire game — aren’t these guys barely 20 years old and able to run around for forty minutes? — and Jim Nantz obsessed over everyone’s parents. After the game was over, an uneasy Nantz and Packer stood by while an excitable Joakim Noah made no sense. You know, I think he’s right: Packer and Nantz probably did have no idea what he was talking about (at least he didn’t start dancing this time). Nantz ignored the rant and plowed ahead by asking MOP Corey Brewer about his father.

Florida wins

The game itself was unspectacular as the Gators used their balanced attack to wear down Ohio State for the win. Every time Ohio State looked ready to get close in the second half, Florida would score off a loose ball on some back-breaking play. It must have sucked to watch this for Ohio State fans. Greg Oden put up strong stats (25 points, 12 boards) in defeat, even prompting Packer to suggest he might win MOP honors. It was probably enough to cement his #1 NBA Draft status by showing he could produce in the biggest college game there is. Nantz picked Al Horford (18 points, 12 boards) for MOP honors, and both broadcasters proved wrong as Brewer was chosen.

The result is leading to all sorts of discussion about the back-to-back titles and Florida’s place in history. I’ll leave that one to the experts and simply note that it must be pretty sweet to be a Gator fan these days. It reminds me of the “cup runneth over” feeling I had when the Red Sox and Patriots held championships simultaneously a few years back.


NCAA Gloating/Prediction

April 1, 2007

Look at that, it’s Florida and Ohio State for the national championship, just as I predicted before the tournament began. Not that it was a surprise pick, by any stretch — lots and lots of people picked these teams, which were the top two seeds in the entire tournament. But it shows I’m not completely clueless, which is nice.

It’s rather strange to have the college football and college basketball championship games be the same matchup of schools three months apart. Of course Florida dominated the football game in January, as well as the regular-season basketball game back in December. So much for the premise that so-called “football schools” can’t be basketball powers.

I foresee Florida cutting down the nets again, as I originally picked, based on superior depth and experience. The Georgetown game last night showed Ohio State’s vulnerability inside if Greg Oden is in foul trouble, as he has been so often in the tournament. Florida has three big guys it rotates inside that can cause problems, and if you clamp down on them defensively Florida will knock down threes, as they showed against UCLA in the other national semifinal. I think the Buckeyes will need a superhuman effort by Oden to control the paint so that they can extend their defense in order to win, and I don’t quite see that happening.


Oden’s Block Beats Tennessee

March 23, 2007