2008: The Off-Season of the NBA’s Discontent

October 2, 2008

by The Angry Sports Bastard… The NBA season is long but judging by the news coming from the police blotters and bonehead moves by members of the brotherhood the off-season is longer. NBA players have too much money and time and clearly don’t know how to spend either wisely. It seems like a millennium ago The Big Ticket (Kevin Garnett to the uneducated) emitted his primal scream and led the Boston Celtics to the championship. Since then the league has had several issues to deal with, not all of them good. Sure, you had the Olympic Team in Beijing treating their opponents like a junior varsity team, running lay up lines around the competition, but after that it’s been one black eye after another.

NBA commissioner David Stern’s had to earn his money over the summer fending off allegations and accusations his league is rampant with thugs and gamblers. As hard as he tries to paint former referee Tim Donaghy as one “rogue” official it’s difficult to convince the average fan that something is not right in Denmark. He’s going to have to do better than that. Where there’s smoke there’s fire and something is lurking behind the grassy knoll. If Donaghy is Lee Harvey Oswald, Stern is probably praying someone steps up and assumes the role of Jack Ruby.

Dallas Mavericks forward Josh Howard is not a household name and you’d be hard-pressed to pick him out of a police line-up but judging by his recent actions that’s just where you might find him next. During the playoffs he admitted he smokes marijuana. I’m not really sure this is news since Charles Barkley admitted in 2001 that 60% of NBA players spark one up from time to time. Then on July 31, Howard’s charged with speeding and reckless driving. His most recent misstep, dissing the American national anthem claiming, “The Star Spangled Banner is going on. I don’t celebrate this [expletive]. I’m black” has everyone up in arms. I’ll say this for Howard, he’s nothing if not amusing but the league doesn’t think his actions are funny. Let’s see if the refs give this guy a call all year.

It’s not just referees and seasoned veterans who are running afoul of the law. Rookies, guys who have never even played an exhibition game are getting in on the act. Nothing says, “Welcome to the NBA” more than being busted in a hotel room with women and the “smell of marijuana” lingering in the air at a rookie symposium. (Imagine going to a company retreat and your boss finding you with strippers in your hotel room). Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers (fined $20,000 each) and Michael Beasley (fined $50,000) are lighter in the wallet today and chalk their misadventure up as being simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Closer to home it’s time to see if Bryan Colangelo’s European experience will finally come to fruition with the Toronto Raptors. Since the Jays and Argos pissed their season away and the Maple Leafs will forever be in rebuilding mode, the Raptors are the only local team with a remote chance of making any noise in the post season. (Sorry Toronto FC fans but I still can’t call what I see at BMO Field professional soccer). With the addition of Jermaine O’Neal to take the pressure off Chris Bosh and the subtraction of the surly T.J. Ford it’s Jose Calderon’s car to drive full-time. (Let’s just hope that like your 16-year-old he doesn’t crash it the first night you hand him the keys).

You’ve been great. Keep listening to Devo.

The beautiful game?

June 23, 2008

by The Angry Sports Bastard…

Now that Euro 2008 has moved into the semi-finals stage I can’t wait for this little tournament to be over. I’m not going to act like some of those in the mainstream media – you know who you are – who feel it is their lot in life to bash football (I’m not going to dummy it down and call it soccer) just so “Joe from Woodbridge” will call into their silly radio show. Get over yourself. I like international football. Sorry but that thing they are trying to sell in Toronto (Toronto FC) or Vancouver (Whitecaps) is simply not world class; these guys are playing in the MLS for a reason.

Worldwide, football is know as “the beautiful game” but from where I’m standing she’s just a three dressed up as a nine; simply a waste of my time. (Shameless Trooper plug). Watching these games made me understand just why North Americans will never gravitate to football.

First of all there’s just not enough scoring. When a 2-1 score is considered an offensive explosion you know you have problems. It’s bad enough that about 50% of school kids are taking some attention deficit disorder drug but now they are being asked to tune in for 90 minutes to see two goals? Not going to happen. Then there is this whole notion of extra time and if nothing is decided it’s the dreaded penalty kicks. That would be like an NFL game ending in a field goal contest; a baseball game being decided on a home run derby; a hockey game ending in a shoot out. What? They already do this in the NHL? Shows you how out of touch that league is.

Another issue I have with the game are the rules regarding substitutions. Let me see if I have this straight. Each team carries a roster of 23 players – enough for two teams – yet they are only allowed to make three substitutions in a game. You want goals? Get fresh bodies in there. When the lone striker has gone from walking (which he does 95% of the time anyway) to crawling on his hands and knees, well you get the picture.

Finally, and this infuriates me more than anything else, the offside rule. I’ll cut a cheque to anyone who can explain offside to me. I barely made it through high school English so I’m looking for the Coles Notes version. Defense in football is a whole line of defenders throwing up their arms to signal that the guy who just got on the end of the only scoring play I’ve seen in over thirty minutes is really offside. Are they players or referees? I won’t even get into the rolling around on the pitch that takes place when the slightest challenge is made.

Note: Notice how I can easily weave in the language of soccer into my writing. Reading this you might actually think I know what I’m talking about.

The best part of Euro 2008? It’s got to be the English commentators. The men and women on this side of the pond could learn a thing or two from these cats. Primarily, that it doesn’t take three knuckleheads in a booth falling all over each other, talking at about 120 mph to deliver play-by-play and analysis. Hey, sometimes silence is golden.

You’ve been great. Keep listening to Thin Lizzy.

Eldrick (Tiger to the rest of you)

June 20, 2008

by The Angry Sports Bastard…

Now that Eldrick’s (Tiger to the rest of you) has shut it down for the rest of the 2008 golf season, let’s see which Tour player steps up and assumes the title of number 2 in the world rankings. For years now the rest of the weak-kneed Tour players have been whining about how many Tour wins they woulda, shoulda, coulda had if only Eldrick was out of the picture. Well, here is their chance. It’s getting to the point where any Tour win by another player is quickly followed by the question: Was Eldrick in the field? If no, just go ahead and put an asterisk in the record book. Let’s face it. The distance between Woods and the next best player is almost as wide as the gap between Michael Strahan’s front teeth. So who are the possible heirs to the runner-up throne?

Phil Mickelson
For all his wonderful skill Lefty seems to think he is so much smarter than every player on Tour. How does he explain not jamming a driver into his bag to tackle a course over 7,000 yards long? Knowing how Phil operates I wouldn’t have been surprised if he pulled out a sand wedge at the 612 yard par 5. Remember, he said it: “I am such an idiot.” This guy is more obsessed with earning style points and in all honesty hasn’t gotten the job done. Watching him throw up all over himself with a quadruple bogey 9 on the 13 hole on Saturday was classic.

Sergio Garcia
Remember when Garcia was being heralded as the one to stand up and challenge Eldrick? It’s still waiting for that to happen – once. He’s not even close by half.

Adam Scott
Scott shrivelled up faster at the U.S. Open than a man who forgot to take his Cialis. (Screw Viagra. I’ve been told on good advice that Cialis guarantees better results – for up to 36 hours. The little blue pills can’t beat that).

Rory Sabbatini
Insert punch line here.

In fact, after hearing that Woods was playing on one leg (torn ACL and walking about 20 miles over four days on a surgically repaired knee) the rest of the field should be embarrassed. If I were Tim Finchem, Commissioner of the PGA Tour, I would take away the Tour card of half the players and send them back to Q School. I actually heard some trained chimp who steals network television money by reading a teleprompter ask, “Do you think he’ll make the cut?” To quote the great philosopher Ozzie Guillen, manager of the Chicago White Sox, “Please.”

You’ve been great. Keep listening to Greenfield Main