Monday, April 16, 2007

NBA Musings

OK, I've got a braindump of various and sundry NBA-related items that have caught my eye in the past few weeks. Away we go...

1. FANTASY BASKETBALL SCHEDULING
If you notice any tension around The Painted Area these days, that's because proprietors Jay Aych (Team: the LarryMerchantMarines) and M. Haubs (Team: the Jimmy Goldsteins) are squaring off in the finals of our fantasy basketball league.

I'm going to make a plea to the powers that be that fantasy basketball adopt the fantasy football model of scheduling. In football, most leagues have their "Super Bowl" in Week 16, and take Week 17 off because many teams are likely to rest their starters and throw everything out of whack.

Same thing happens in the League - I wish fantasy hoops could just push things back and have head-to-head leagues finish up with a week-and-a-half left in the season. Yeah, it's sour grapes from me b/c KG is my meal ticket (but I'm still winning so far!), but really, lineups are so screwed up around the league right now that it makes it a little lame. To that end, thank god I picked up Walter Herrmann last week!

2. EJECT JOE CRAWFORD
Most of these items are things I've noted over the past few weeks, but I just have to comment on that awful ejection today - truly one of the worst I've ever seen.

I am so sick of Joey Crawford and his gigantic ego.
I love these postgame comments from that pompous ass:
    Crawford disagreed, saying that "[Duncan] was complaining the whole game."

    "
    And then he went over to the bench and he was over there doing the same stuff behind our back," Crawford said. "I hit him with one (technical) and he kept going over there, and I look over there and he's still complaining. So I threw him out."

    Crawford spoke to a pool reporter before Duncan spoke to the media. Asked about Duncan not thinking he deserved to be tossed, Crawford said: "That's his opinion. He said nothing when he was walking off the court and he called me a piece of (expletive). Is that nothing?"

First of all, Duncan was not "still complaining" before the second tech - the camera was on him, he was laughing and didn't say a word. And the logic in the last comment is truly rich, criticizing Duncan for having the gall to say something untoward after being thrown out for absolutely nothing.

Here's my issue - the conventional wisdom is something similar to how Mike Breen described it on air: That Joey Crawford sure has been one of the best officials for a long time, but geez, sometimes he has a quick trigger.

My point is this: he's really NOT one of the best officials in the league, he's constantly letting his huge ego getting in the way of how he calls games, and what's worse is that he gets assigned to such big games. And that's the biggest problem I have with NBA referees: they're assigned based on seniority more than merit.

It's widely considered that Bennett Salvatore completely handed Game 5 of the Finals over to Miami last year with a series of dubious calls. My issue is not that Salvatore was in on a conspiracy, I don't believe that for a second. My issue was amazement that he could be anywhere near the Finals after completely blowing Game 4 of the Suns-Lakers series in the first round, handing L.A. the game with the most egregiously bad officiating in last year's playoffs. Why was he allowed to officiate any more playoff games last year, much less a Finals game?!

I've seen some talk that perhaps Crawford will be suspended. I don't think that is the proper course of action. I think the guy should just be judged unfit to officiate the NBA Finals on merit because he can't control his ego and pulls stunts like today's far too often.

There was a lot I didn't agree with in this rant from Bill Simmons after Game 5 in June, but I did completely concur with this thought: with 7 games spread out over two weeks, why can't we just choose the best 3 refs and let them call all the Finals games?

3. PIP GEM
Loved this quote from Scottie Pippen in a recent interview on NBA.com about the '95-96 Bulls, re: whether he had reservations about Chicago acquiring Dennis Rodman after the physical Bulls-Pistons matchups:
    "I had moved on from that and buried the hatchet that I was going to knock his ass out with."

4. RANDOM JOHN AMAECHI NOTE
Random note from a Newsday story about Meech from about a month ago that may only be of interest to me - Amaechi said that the only two former NBA players who've reached out to him are Sam Perkins and Matt Maloney.

Furthering my perception that Big Smooth is a cool cat.

5. WARRIORS = GOOD
Ever since I watched that Warriors-Suns game a couple weeks ago, I've been a Golden State believer. It just struck me that, when these guys are healthy, man they have some talent. Check out the rotation:

B. Davis
J. Richardson
S. Jackson
A. Harrington
A. Biedrins
M. Ellis
M. Pietrus
M. Barnes

Yes, they desperately need some help inside, but I mean, you're talking four guys who've averaged over 18 points in the last couple seasons, two big-time up-and-comers, and two more athletic glue guys off the bench.

By my count, these guys are 13-4 in the games in which all four of their big guns have played, and also, they haven't been under 110 pts since March 20. Jay Aych thinks I'm crazy but I say they take two off of Dallas in the first round.

6. VEGAS PERSPECTIVE
Big appearance for Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman in front of the NBA Board of Governors coming up. David Stern has always been adamant that NBA games need to be taken off the books before they could get a franchise, but it seems like the winds have changed sufficiently that Vegas could win approval with the compromise that just the Vegas team would be off the board.

As such, I was very surprised to see that a recent "proposal" from Goodman offered no concessions whatsoever.

The LA Times has a Vegas blog, The Movable Buffet, by Richard Abowitz, which I thought offered the interesting perspective of a Vegas resident who argues that the city has matured and doesn't need a gambling-for-franchise trade the way it might have a decade ago:
    This is purely speculative. But I think there was a time, not too long ago, say, 1999, when the resort corridor would have considered banning betting on the entire NBA in exchange for a Las Vegas basketball franchise. That, at least, was the mood in the community when I moved here. Some might argue, All-Star weekend's controversies are responsible for this change in attitude. But I think that things changed on that score some time ago. These days and in this century, Las Vegas resorts lack any incentive or need to compromise with the NBA. Las Vegas keeps growing, and recent arrivals have no memory of this town as a shady, frontier or mob town. They moved to Las Vegas already with a total grasp of the mainstream American embrace this city has enjoyed the past few years from cable television to the stock market. And, to them, even the desire for this ban by the NBA, reads like an insult from another era; and one that Las Vegas is no longer insecure enough to feel the need to flatter in exchange for the dubious legitimacy conferred on a city by a professional sport's franchise.

7. NBA TV: THE GOOD AND THE BAD
My favorite and least-favorite production features of NBA games on TV currently both occur on NBA TV.

Cheers: I absolutely love the way the graphics update below the score bar at the bottom of the screen. The numbers provided are unbelievably thorough and they're invariably smart and perfectly in synch with the action. And they are completely unintrusive down under the score bar. The way on-screen graphics oughta be.

Jeers: I know I'm not breaking news here but that beeping shot-clock countdown has just gotta go.

8. CLASSIC UNIS
Three "Hardwood Classics" uniforms which need to become their team's main gear again:
i. The Spurs' silver home jerseys - so much more life than the white ones (and let's not even talk about the pastel era...)

ii. The Cavs' wine-and-gold heyday - that piping is just so sweet, how can you pass it up?...

iii. Warriors - Two words: The City. Five more words: Number inside of cable car. I know they play in Oakland and I don't care - these are the greatest unis in NBA history and need to come back.


9. RACE AND NBA RATINGS
On the blog Sports Media Watch, I found this post which looked back at NBC's decision to drop the NBA fascinating. It cited a 2001 Variety story which made no bones about the fact that the racial makeup of NBA ratings was a significant factor.

A related post broke down the share of African-Americans in the ABC TV audience of last year's Finals.

10. RYAN ON THE '57 FINALS
Of course, The Painted Area's old man sent this one in: Bob Ryan on the 1957 Finals, when the Celtics won their first championship in a 125-123 double-OT Game 7.

11. NEW BOOK: 1984 DRAFT
A new book coming soon from NY newspaper scribe Filip Bondy has a compelling subject - it's called Tip-Off: How the 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball Forever. That was MJ, Hakeem, Stockton and Barkley in case you'd forgotten.

We'll see if it's better received than Bondy's last foray into NBA book-writing....

12. AMHERST-WILLIAMS
Last D3 post, I swear. I didn't find this story from SI's Tim Layden about his trip to an Amherst-Williams game until recently. Even though our archrivals beat us that day, it's still a nice snapshot of D3 basketball. And it's OK, because the good guys won in the end - my national championship T-shirt just arrived in the mail, baby!

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