Saturday, January 19, 2008

Hold The Mayo

Alright, let's run through a few hoops odds & ends quickly:

In my life as a basketball fan, there are few things I am more loathe to do than to admit I agree with the disagreeable human being named Billy Packer. Yet, I have to say I concur 100% with this statement Packer made during today's UCLA-USC game: "O.J. Mayo is a good player. He is not a great player."

I have now watched Mayo play several times as a high school and college player, and I have yet to fully understand the fuss. He clearly has excellent physical gifts, with very good size, strength and athletic ability for his position, and all reports seem to indicate that he is wise and mature beyond his years off the court.

That said, I find that he plays with a shockingly low basketball IQ, highlighted (lowlighted?) by a very poor sense of shot selection. He's only 20 of course, so he has plenty of time to develop. I just think he has a long way to go mentally before he'll be able to contribute as an effective, efficient NBA guard, much less to become an NBA All-Star.

From Blog-a-Bull (whom we also love), commenting on Wednesday's Heat-Bulls game:

"But no dunk was more satisfying than Veektor with a reverse (on a bullet pass from Tyrus), followed by Mike Tirico laughing it off only to be chastised by Hubie Brown for disrespecting a pivotal member of the Russian national team."

So, the NBA has once again released its top 10 teams and players in terms of jersey sales on and at the NBA Store in Manhattan.

It's that last part that amuses me to no end. As much as midtown Manhattan is a top destination for tourists from around the country and the world, I still believe that a disproportionate number of people who shop at a retail store in New York are from the New York metropolitan area.

And I believe that the evidence to back me up is pretty clear: Stephon Marbury has the no. 9 selling jersey and the Knicks are the no. 3 team overall! Give me a break! As much as New York sports teams have an outsized profile, there's no way that that's an accurate measure of the popularity of that player and that team in 2007-08.

Here are some greatest hits through the years:
- April 2006 (i.e. the "Larry Brown Year"): Marbury ranks no. 5, Knicks rank no. 2
- Dec. 2003 (my personal favorite): Allan Houston ranks no. 9 despite not having been an All-Star since 2001, and never having been a particularly stylish player.

I'm just saying, I wish they could release just the numbers so we could get an accurate read on how the country and the world thinks, because I do think it's an interesting list. I also have my suspicions that Celtics, Nets and Sixers are consistently overrated on the list b/c of their proximity to New York. I just want a real list.

(Hat tip on both of the above to KD's 10-Man Rotation)

An addendum to our love note to Bill James in the fall.... As I'm writing here on Jan. 19, halfway through the NBA season, I'm wondering if Mr. James could kindly inform me who the predetermined NBA champion for 2007-08 is.

Is it Boston or Detroit, maybe? How about one of the five teams within 1.5 games of first place in the Western Conference? Any love for the Cavs, whose record is pretty good with LeBron in the lineup?

I'd just like to know the predetermined winner so that I can stop watching, and more importantly, so the players can stop trying.