Posted on: June 13, 2009 4:52 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2009 5:16 pm

Stan Van Gundy vs. ... me?

No way. Berger's wrong. Sorry, Ken. I like a good pot-stirring as much as the next guy, but there's no way SVG -- whom I like -- was talking about me in the money quote near the end of Berger's blog today.

The quote came about as SVG was discussing his team's ability to bounce back, time after time after time, and used that to defang the theory that Orlando has choked away this series. (My theory, by the way.) Anyway, here's the key part of the quote:

"It's an amazing quality some people have to be able to ignore every piece of evidence and fact and still have their opinion."

No way SVG is talking about me, because I didn't ignore facts. I listed them:

Courtney Lee's miss in Game 2. All those free throws in Game 4. All the missed shots in the final seven minutes. The turnovers. Jameer Nelson's brain lock that allowed Derek Fisher to tie the game at the end of regulation.

I don't know who SVG was talking about, but it wasn't me. Except the part about "amazing quality." I have plenty of those. You see my new mugg shot? It only gets better, the farther south you go.
Category: NBA
Posted on: June 12, 2009 5:03 pm

Pietrus doesn't belong on the court in Game 5

I'm stunned. Stunned. Orlando's Mickael Pietrus clubbed the Lakers' Pau Gasol in the worst manner at the end of Game 4:

1. When Gasol wasn't looking;

2. When Gasol was vulnerable in the air;

3. When the play was over;

4. When the game was over;

5. Violently, with two hands balled into fists and two forearms delivered into Gasol's back.

Yet the NBA decided not to suspend Pietrus for Game 5, because the NBA decided that foul wasn't flagrant enough.

Fine, NBA, but we'd all have more respect for your decision if you'd just come out and say it -- you want there to be a semblance of drama entering Game 5, and without Pietrus, there would be no drama at all. Pietrus has been Orlando's most consistent guard on offense and defense, and without him, the Magic would have to defend Kobe Bryant with Courtney Lee and give Pietrus' offensive looks to J.J. Redick. And nobody wants to see any of that.

Shame on you, NBA. Pietrus is apparently a decent guy and a clean player, usually, but that foul was beyond flagrant. For the NBA to study it, and determine otherwise, makes me question the intelligence and -- worse -- the integrity of the NBA's leadership.
Category: NBA
Posted on: June 11, 2009 2:23 pm

About my "confrontation" with Jameer Nelson ...

ORLANDO, Fla. -- That's what people are calling it. A "confrontation." I was on a radio show here in Orlando this morning, clearly a desperate show that doesn't care about its listeners if they're putting me on the air, and I was told the "confrontation" had been a source of discussion in Orlando recently.

I love it.

But it's bullcrap.

There was no "confrontation." Yes, I asked Jameer some rather uncomplimentary questions after Game 3 -- story is here -- and we went back and forth for a minute, but it was civil. And better yet, afterward, before walking away, I patted him on the knee (awww) and said, "I appreciate you taking that the right way. I knew you would."

That's why I did it.

Because Nelson could handle it.

I wouldn't have done it to Rasheed Wallace, for example, because that would have been poking a snake with a stick. He would have lashed back, and it would have made for an interesting story, but what purpose would it serve? Being confrontational just for the sake of being confrontational is stupid, and no matter what you hear, I don't do that.

Except for one time ...

Jameer Nelson was a class kid at Saint Joseph's, and he's a class man in the NBA, and I knew he could handle my questions. So I asked them.

No confrontation.

Lucky for him. Because I could kick his ...


(Not really.)
Category: NBA
Posted on: June 9, 2009 6:05 pm

Live from Orlando ... did Courtney Lee choke?

ORLANDO, Fla. -- In case anyone was wondering, I'm at Game 3 of the NBA Finals tonight. And in case anyone wasn't wondering ... I'm at Game 3 of the NBA Finals tonight.

This'll be my first meeting with our NBA writer, Ken Berger, who had better show the proper respect when he meets me. We'll see.

Meantime, here's a great point from Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, who wrote about a topic I had considered writing on (a few days ago) as well: Did Courtney Lee choke, or did he not? I was going to agree with Bianchi, by the way. That shot was a lot harder than a mere "lay-up."
Category: NBA
Tags: Courtney Lee
Posted on: June 7, 2009 5:59 pm

Clearly I need more confidence ...

Because I could never imagine writing roughly 2,500 words or more as a daily column. Bill Simmons has made a career of it, and I'll be damned if I can explain that, but I can't worry about that B.S. because I'm still so flabbergasted by this one. It's by Jay Mariotti of AOL FanHouse, and it starts with a frankly brilliant examination of Phil Jackson's chameleon side -- but then it goes ... and goes ... and goes. It's the typical length of one of his columns, and since I'm delving into some media critiques, I'll delve into him. Just a little. Just to examine his length.

Of his COLUMNS, people.

One of the best facets of the Internet is its immediacy, and its quickness. Its efficiency. You click a link or you don't. You stay inside the link or you move on. But what you don't do, for the most part, is click a link and then settle down to read 2,500 words -- which is about like reading 12 typed pages. The Internet wasn't made for that. Not really.

Simmons gets by with it, with even longer columns than 2,500 words, and I won't pretend to understand the allure of that. But then, I don't understand the allure of wine, either. It tastes like grape-flavored rubbing alcohol to me, minus the grape, but people (claim to) love it. Maybe it's an acquired taste. Wine, I mean. And Bill Simmons. And Jay Mariotti.

Maybe it's hubris, too. Let's be honest, and call it what it is. Any writer who says to himself on a daily basis, "I need 2,500 words to get this point across," has more confidence than I do. And by confidence, I mean ego. And by ego, I mean self-love.

And I love me some me, but good grief ... I've written 267 words to this point, and I'm starting to get twitchy. I've written enough. It's time to dismount this blogg item, so here comes the dismount:

Read me. Because I'm better than Mariotti or Simmons? Hell if I know.

But I know I'm smaller.

In column length, people. Column length.

Category: NBA
Posted on: June 2, 2009 3:40 pm

More media mishmash on LeBron

I've been over this once before, but the need has arisen to say this again. And to expound on the motives behind those who would critique the LeBron Incident. So here goes:

LeBron James didn't owe anyone a handshake or a media interview after his Cleveland team was eliminated from the NBA playoffs by Orlando. Two more writers have weighed in, both against LeBron. Bill Rhoden from The New York Times, and Michael Wilbon from the Washington Post. Wilbon did it better, but then, you already knew that.

But they're both wrong, in my opinion. Clearly I have the minority opinion, but the minority opinion can be the right opinion. Here's an example, by Brandeis. Moving on ...

Here's what bugs me the most about this whole LeBron Incident: Has anybody stopped to see who's the most mad at LeBron? I have. And I'll tell you who's the most mad at him:

1. The media. We've decided this is a big deal, so it is a big deal. And we're mad. That's what we do.

2. Basketball fans who object to LeBron's alleged greatness. Kobe fans are using this to hammer LeBron. Michael Jordan fans are, too. Fans of other players, challengers to King James' throne, care about this.

3. There is no third option. See the first two.

So what we have here is the tail wagging the dog. I'm convinced, and this is completely my opinion of course, that the average fan doesn't think James was being a poor sport, but a hurting sport, when he left the court amid the confetti. And the average fan understands that hurt carried over long enough to explain why James wouldn't speak to the media. As if James, great player or not, owed it to the media or fans to "explain himself" after the game. What he owed us was his best effort on the floor during the game, and he gave it. Speaking afterward is a bonus, and he chose not to give us that bonus. Boo-freaking-hoo.

Shut up, media. Lecture the world about something else the average fan really cares about. Like steroids ruining baseball.

That was sarcasm.

Category: NBA
Posted on: June 1, 2009 11:03 am

LeBron's quiet so the media whines

Reason No. 673 why people dislike the sports media: The LeBron James Incident.

You've heard about it. After Cleveland lost Saturday to Orlando, James left the court without shaking the Magic's hands. Then he left the locker room without speaking to the media.

Tsk, tsk, LeBron!

Gag me.

It's not just that story in the L.A. Times. It's everywhere. When the players are too chummy with the opposition, hugging before basketball games or hanging out around the batting cage before baseball games, it suggests "no competitive fire." But when James is so passionately upset that his team didn't win, and he immediately leaves the floor and then the arena, he has "no class."

What a bunch of crap. Orlando had just advanced to the NBA Finals on its own floor. Confetti and fireworks and whatever else were going off. Leaving the court as quickly as possible doesn't mean James is a poor sport. It means he's hurting.

Blowing off the media ... I can live with that, too. There is no on/off switch on passion and disappointment. There is no established time frame. James was stinging, and after dealing with the media all season, he didn't want to deal with it -- with us -- on this night. Big deal.

Category: NBA
Posted on: May 31, 2009 9:46 am

Dwight Howard behaved himself!

This was the Dwight Howard I was expecting to see in Cleveland. This was the Dwight Howard we all think we know. It's the Dwight Howard we should see almost every time he plays.

This Dwight Howard in Game 6 on Saturday night was not the same guy I wrote about Friday, when I said the Magic's superstar center had way too much Rasheed Wallace in him. And I wasn't talking about a multi-colored goatee. I was talking about Howard's whining and bullying, things I'd seen too much of in the Eastern Conference finals, things I'd seen to the point where I had to write this about it.

Maybe he listened?

Jeez, I don't want to give myself too much, or any, credit. But I know for a fact that Magic officials were talking -- unhappily -- about my story before Saturday's Game 6. And then Howard went out and didn't utter a peep when he was called for fouls. Didn't complain when Cleveland wasn't called for fouls. Didn't throw an elbow or stare ominously at anyone.

Maybe it's a coincidence. I can live with that. I just want to see this Dwight Howard more, the one from Game 6.
Category: NBA
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