Rabid Sun: Drafting Misery for Steve since 2005
Time for another update from Paul McL, the flea-bitten son of the bitter Arizona cur that is Suns fandom. His topic is nothing new: we have been robbed of a Steve Nash championship mostly because his owners sucked at the draft. I’ll let Paul tell you just how much it can blow to be an NBA diehard in the desert.
Joe is right: an NBA draft pick in the double digits is worse than no pick at all, thanks to the guaranteed contracts that God has seen fit to bestow upon even the least first-rounder. That said, quantum physicists, alchemists, and a few savvy GMs are intrigued by a mystical yet dependable process that can turn such drossy players into basketball gods: having the Phoenix Suns sell the pick in question for cash.
Draftees the Suns have sold for cash in the Nash era:
Luol Deng (also on the board: Andre Iguodala)
Serge Ibaka (essentially; the pick was a desperate bribe to Seattle for taking Kurt Thomas and getting the Suns under the tax)
All draftees who’ve played for the Suns in the Nash era:
The Other Griffin
That’s right: the Suns traded away an entire 45-win rotation* for like $15 million while keeping an entire 5-win roster on the team. It was worth it, though: the cash earned and saved from the trades was used to secure the long-term signatures of…Boris Diaw**…and…Marcus…Banks***……………………………….
These facts have been reported more widely than Julian Assange’s rape accusations, sure, but they’re still so hilarious that I just bit off the head of a small rodent and drank in the heat of its blood to distract myself.
*The two Spaniards kind of suck in the abstract but would have been borderline All-Stars on a team like the SSOL Suns.
**After his solitary non-horrendous season.
***After his solitary non-horrendous season.
They Are All Jeryl Sassers
I wanted to run down the Magic’s last 10 years of draft picks as a way of demonstrating the absolute futility of relying on anything but the first pick in the draft as a way to revitalize your team’s dreams. But let’s face it, there’s only so many ways you can make fun of people like Travis Deiner and Steven Hunter until things get repetitive; even Fran Vazquez jokes start to seem a bit old after another year of “like an old man in a brothel, he’s coming in the next year” one-liners. Face it: your team is going to draft Jeryl Sasser, 2001 22nd Pick in the NBA Draft, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t even make fun of them for very long, the way you can a nice shitty first pick, like the Kandi Man or Bargs. And that is what makes these middling middle picks so maddening: they rob us of our very nourishment as NBA fans, self-mockery. Basketball Reference says Jeryl even started four games in 02-03 for the Magic, but I remember nothing. His 204 points scored for my favorite team went into a total vacuum of mid-00’s mediocrity. It seems Jeryl even had a 26/10 with four steals in a loss at Boston in 2003 (starting lineup: Sasser, Mike Miller, P-Gat, J. Vaughn, and a portly Shawn Kemp), yet he never played another NBA game after that season. Now, he’s a baller in Kuwait, where he was on the Kuwait League Champion Al Arabi in 2008. Good for Jeryl. Bad for us: your GM, the person entrusted with your sports sanity, is in the process of sifting through future National Basketball League MVPs to pick one for you to pin your hopes on. If your team has a pick in the teens or the 20’s, I say, don’t even bother. Not because the player they pick has a low chance of contributing something positive to your team. You already knew that. Ignore him because he will probably not even matter enough for you to make fun of how much he sucks. Consider: the NBA, as a whole, can’t even be bothered to make fun of Wesley Johnson and Evan Turner for being wildly disappointing, and they’ve only been around for a year! It’s an old story now.
Of course, maybe you’ll get lucky, your team will draft Jimmer Fredette, and you’ll get comedy bonuses on a Dan Dickau scale for years to come. Otherwise, better off being the Orlando Magic, spared the trouble of any first round hopes at all.
The Five Trendiest Twitter Feeds of the 2010-11 NBA Season
Because if you’re only reading blogs, you’re getting the news secondhand. Here are five folks you must follow:
@mdotbrown - The Timberwolves are a terrible team backed by a bizarre organization. You follow them the way one might follow a Hootie & The Blowfish reunion tour: it’s not whether they succeed or not, but the new ways they manage to fail. As the point person for web coverage of the team, @mdotbrown liveblogs from this Titanic with the bitter grace one might expect from someone very intelligent whom fate has otherwise doomed.
@DevineBoston - If anyone had cared about Twitter two years ago, @KDonHoops would have been number one on this list back then. Now, his junior partner at Ball Don’t Lie has become the public face of their stats-backed, cool-kid swagger, proving that you can be smart about basketball and post really stupid pics all in the same 140 characters. In short, this is the popular kid the smart kids hated most, because he happened to be pretty damn bright as well.
@mhaubs - His blog came into its own in 2010 with its endlessly quoted previews of every single aspect of the FIBA World Championships and subsequent thoughtful analysis of the results. Now, his best output are his tweets, quick shots at targets served on a platter, almost too easy for other, more obtuse commenters to hit. But if Mark Jackson says something stupid, @mhaubs is the first place to look for the perfect one-word reply you almost thought of, but didn’t.
@netw3rk - A Knicks fan who has survived by developing the kind of brutal humor that a fan of a troubled team requires. His hardened shell of wit glistens in the rapid lights of gamenight live tweets, reflecting back black comments that remind us all we will suffer as he does, laughing on the way to basketball hell.
@HPBasketball - The Pitchfork of basketball tweeters: if Matt Moore mentions your name, you’ve made it, one way or another, even if it’s only for the purposes of a fleeting dismissal. A reply from him is a tease; maybe next time, he’ll get in a full-fledged argument with him, and you will gain a bitter fortune of followers as he rightly tears your weak-ass arguments apart.
@darrenrovell - For all those fools who think that if they know how the league’s business operates, the resulting entertainment product will somehow be less painful.
The Miami Heat Have Never Won the NBA Championship
As an Orlando Magic fan, the idea that we were not the first team to win an NBA Championship in this great state does not make me die a little inside, because Shaq already killed everything when he left. However, the Heat’s 2006 championship does fill the walking corpse of my fandom with rage, especially with Shaq as one of its primary instruments. Yes, the Finals were tainted by horrendous refereeing, but still the result stood.
However, given the sheer force of the Mavericks’ complete and utter revenge, down to the Game 6 victory on the opposing team’s court, I feel that a plausible argument can be made that the Heat’s NBA Championship can be obliterated from the record. At the very least, we can say that there is now a separate trophy which the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat pass back and forth, as they are destined to meet the other each time they reach the NBA finals. This trophy, the Bevetta Cup, is similar to the Larry O’Brien in many ways, except that it is made of pythons. Just like Dick Bavetta is.
So let the record show that there were no NBA champions in 2006 or 2011, as the Finals in both years were played for a more sinister title.
The Trendiest Blogs of the 2010-11 NBA Season
If you want a list of the best NBA blogs, I’m your great uncle will be happy to e-mail you a list he was forwarded at his AOL.com account. If you want a list of the blogs people are referencing in-between recording podcasts about Bismack Biyombo’s similarities to Saer Sene.
5. NBA Playbook - Every heavy reader of guitar-driven rock blogs subscribes to at least one gear-related site, even if they have no idea how to tell fuzz from reverb. You can then pretend that there is some technical, educational desire behind your mindless devotion to My Bloody Valentine. In the same way, NBA Playbook allows me to pretend that screaming at Gilbert Arenas for taking a 27-footer is based on my deep knowledge of ball rotation, not merely a belief that life is short, cruel, and unfair.
4. Ridiculous Upside - As you know, being a true follower of anything requires that you know more about what’s next than what’s happening now. The D-League is the indie label of sports, and its so close to being regarded as cool you can almost see the Mad Ants and Valley Vipers jerseys showing up in the background of your favorite Lupe Fiasco video. Scott Schroeder does an excellent job of acting like we are all idiots for not knowing about Trey Johnson and DeShawn Sims, and then explaining why they are already yesterday’s news.
3. The Sports Guy (no I will not link to Grantland) - Look, we all get issues of Spin delivered to our house so we can stack them up in the corner and say, “I’m saving them to read when I sell out.” Bill Simmons started this business, and now it is our duty as metabasketballers to follow the flaming wreck of his hipness on its delicate arc through the sky. Current calculations say it will crash sometime in 2014, outside of Madison Square Garden, just after Amare, Carmelo, and Chris Paul have beaten the Rondo-“led” Celtics in a March blowout.
2. The Basketball Jones - Even if you find the daily content too pop or too easy, the wall of hardwood sound consisting of Trey Kerby, J.E. Skeets, Tas Melas, Holly MacKenzie and a whole host of other writers reminds us all too much of our favorite Veruca Salt song (or possibly Blondie’s later albums) to ignore. When you’re at the point of trying to decide which member of Sleater Kinney to compare a blogger to (I think I have to settle on Carrie for Holly), you know you must be reading something good.
1. Lit & Basketball - In the future, when we stop watching sports because the starving mediasphere believes games only get in the way of controversy-rich press conferences, sites like Evan Dunlop’s will be the only way to see the fine poetry that once coursed through the league’s vains. P.S. I already have dibs on “Romance Novels & Basketball”, so don’t even try it.
Here We Stay, because who doesn’t love a good lost cause? Disqualified because they are a Facebook page, and Facebook is no longer trendy.
STATS Hoops Blog, brilliant for its few months of existence, but seemingly dead on the vine. So much hype, I’m surprised they weren’t on the cover of NME.
It is Time to Get Depressed about the Mavs Winning
Here are the reasons why!
The salary cap has done nothing to prevent owners from buying a title.
Pat Riley masterfully manipulated the salary cap to sign three amazing players; Mark Cuban treated it like a German prostitute in the hands of the Czar’s troops. If you can throw 880 million dollars at the likes of Shawn Bradley and Desagna Diop, you are going to eventually stumble upon Tyson Chandler. Conclusion: Sam Presti is fucked, as no amount of genius gets you the money to try out eight different Sam Perkinses in order to find the right one.
Having insanely good players on your team does not in any way guarantee you a title.
The two most talented NBA players are on the Heat. The Mavs feature one top-20 superstar and a bunch of one-dimensional washed-up old men. So, of course, the Heat got crushed. Conclusion: Chris Paul is not going to save your team, Los Porlandoyork. You will still lose to the Hawks even after they trade Josh Smith, because Joe Johnson has “put in the work.”
The regular season is meaningless.
Everyone picked the Dallas Mavericks to be eliminated in the first round. This is not because we are haters. It is because the Mavericks were in the second tier of teams, both statistically and observationally, for most of the NBA Season. The only thing they seemed to be good at was crushing the Heat. Here’s the worst part, though. It’s not that people will say “statistics don’t matter.” It’s that people will go back and try and find the statistical clues to the victory, after the fact. Hundreds of paid professionals look at these statistics every damn day; if the evidence was there, we would have seen it in one form or another. Let’s stop pretending that there is some great quantitative order behind this victory and take it for what it is: God’s Pyrrhic victory over the Decision, the cost of which was the demolition of all sense in basketball. 20 years from now people will look at this roster and say, “what the fuck?” and we will still have no way to explain how this team was better than the Blazers, Lakers, Thunder, and Heat.
Especially annoying twitter analysis about this unforeseen victory.
Regardless of who wins the NBA title, Twitter fills with smug assessments of the typical NBA blogger’s views on why the result ultimately validates his or her work, from those who predicted the outcome (not bloody likely in this case), to those who say their failure to predict it just shows that all the reasons *they* watch the NBA (and not you, you slavering fan-idiot) were clearly on display in this epic clash between two titans. To all the people posting some variation of “I love this game”: Fuck off. Unless you’re from Dallas, in which case I say: Fuck way the hell off. You love this game only because you won, and my jealousy burns like 1000 suns.
The endless whining about how too many articles are about the Heat instead of the Mavs.
Now that the Mavs have won a title, they are even more boring than before. Their ineptitude was their most interesting quality. Dirk Nowitzki’s impossible jumpers can only be admired so many times. LeBron’s failure is our own failure, and Americans especially should be concerned with its broader implications about the role of a superpower in a globalized world. Don’t whine about it unless you’re currently writing a Jason Terry bio piece yourself.
Deshawn Stevenson, NBA Champion.
Good season everyone!