Category Archives: NBA

Rondo Suspension Just Not Enough

“I am proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man,” Kennedy told Yahoo Sports on Sunday night. “I am following in the footsteps of others who have self-identified in the hopes that will send a message to young men and women in sports that you must allow no one to make you feel ashamed of who you are.”

The information shrapnel from this WojBomb is not that Bill Kennedy is gay. Sadly, the story is about the ugly and hateful personal derogation by Rajon Rondo against Kennedy, disguised as a routine (at least for Rajon) ejection temper tantrum. Rondo’s shameful denigration of Kennedy is inexcusable and embarrassing. As a professional in a professional sport whose progressive innovations continue to trend set among its peers, there is no room for Rondo’s dirty verbal play in today’s NBA. A one-game suspension seems like a painless wrist slap for the four-time All-Star and rejuvenated assist highlight reel. In full disclosure, let’s just say I have not been a fan of Bill Kennedy’s eighteen years in black and white (his refereeing skills have always been the bane to many a Celtics fan, coach, and player), but c’mon, Rajon. It is just inconceivable that an NBA player shamed another fellow NBA professional to come out. Thank you to Bill Kennedy for your honesty, strength, and courage amid this maelstrom of hate. There is a place for you (and even your mediocre refereeing!) in the association.

Rondo’s responses today don’t really get the point.

Frustration and emotion often reveal our actual feelings. What else was he trying to do but offend and disrespect?

Today, Rajon Rondo may have lost a long-time, loyal fan.

Boris Diaw Passing – High Art

There isn’t anyone quite like Boris Diaw. On the remarkable precipice of another San Antonio Spurs NBA Championship (there is no conceivable way that Miami can win three games in a row unless 2014 Dwyane Wade can miraculously become 2006 Dwayne Wade again and the Spurs forget how to play basketball), the much maligned meal enjoyer and Charlotte Bobcats reject has become my favorite Spur not named Manu for his ability to paint the most beautiful form of basketball art. Always a sucker for passing greatness (growing up on Larry Bird did that to the youthful malleability of yours truly), Mr. Diaw IS one of the modern greats.

This behind-the-back to Tiago Splitter in Game 3 is only the icing on his gorgeous assist cake career:

As Boris has often done in the offseason (French food can be heavy at times!), you are hereby invited to indulge…

The Worst: Donald Sterling racism is nothing new

The firestorm of media coverage since TMZ first “reported” the audio recording of (allegedly) Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his “mistress” V. Stiviano is justified. Despite any recording tomfoolery that may have taken place (there are many layers of shade here), Donald Sterling’s racist comments are undeniably appalling and disturbing. When Adam Silver delivers the potential nuclear option (a provision in the bylaws that allows for the full rescinding of ownership) later this afternoon as many suggest he will, I will support the decision.  What makes this all the more troubling is that Donald Sterling’s racism has been reeking havoc in the Clippers organization and throughout his real estate endeavors for decades and until now, little has been done about it.

Bomani Jones wrote a piece for Page 2 of titled “Donald Sterling’s racism should be news” back in 2006 and talks about it on yesterday’s Dan Le Batard Show (a worthiest listen). This stuff has been going on for years, so although I appreciate the current outpouring of righteous denouncement, we all must ask ourselves why it is this new recording (potentially part of a extortion plot) and not all of the awful things this man has done before that has inspired such outrage. As a lifelong committed NBA fan, I have always known that Donald Sterling was both a horrific owner and an awful human being. It is hard to imagine that an NBA-lifer like Doc Rivers is just finding out about his owner’s deplorable nature now. Racism coalesces next to our complacency, so we must continue to consciously converse on these subjects in all arenas of our lives. Something has got to change and I wish that it took something other than a sketchy TMZ recording to do so.

Donald Sterling – I hope today is your last day as an owner of an NBA team. You are not welcome in my beloved NBA. Good riddance. Your expulsion has been a long time coming.

UPDATE as of 3:43 PM – Adam Silver initiated the unprecedented nuclear option. Donald Sterling has been banned for life from the NBA and has been fined $2.5 million. Sterling is not allowed “to attend any NBA games or practices, be present at any Clippers office or facility, or participate in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team.” Sterling also will be barred from attending any Board of Governors meetings and participating in any other league activity. It will then take 75 percent of the owners to force Sterling to sell. Silver is confident that he will get the votes.

Let’s Get a Few Links Off My Chest: The Challenge Hibernation Edition

To my few loyal readers who may not be as interested in the minutia and the “inside the competitor’s studio” unrelenting coverage of all things The Challenge, do not fear: my pop culture and sports identity has not lost its mojo (a fair presumption). The reality of covering the “Fifth Major American Professional Sport” (that also happens to be a TV show) full-time is that other writing takes a little bit of a backseat. With so much going on (NBA Playoffs! Game of Thrones! Colbert taking over Late NightThe remarkable cultural ascendancy of Billy on the Street!), I thought I could at least send you to the right places.

Without further ado, let us get a few links off my chest…

I am not sure I would call this the “greatest shot in playoff history” as some have suggested…

(greatness demands higher stakes than Game 2 of a first round series), but I would be hard pressed to find a more incredible basketball play and the replays only make it look better.

Beno Udrih’s reaction non-reaction (at 0:18) says everything.

For the record, this remains my favorite playoff basketball play that I ever seen (you are really watching what greatness is all about)…

Speaking of Larry Legend, Jalen and Bill have an interesting chat about LeBron’s place in the “greatest forward of all-time conversation…

They both reluctantly argue (and subsequently mourn) that if LeBron wins his third championship this season, he passes Bird on the all-time forward list. I may not be there yet, but this is not an erroneous argument by any means. LeBron, beginning the playoffs in his eleventh season, is already right there. Incredible.

While were still in the land of Larry, somebody finally got into a fistfight with Lance Stephenson, and, not so surprisingly, it was Evan Turner (not exactly anyone’s favorite teammate). Despite a decisive game 2 victory against the Hawks, Pacers championship aspirations are in a whole lot of trouble. At least Roy Hibbert isn’t for sale on Amazon.Roy-Hibbert-Cover

I had the pleasure of watching the epic game 1 showdown between Houston and Portland. Is there a more fun glue guy/crowd pleaser/enforcer in the league right now than Patrick Beverley? This is his response to being hit with a Mo Williams flagrant foul.

Thunder fans may object, but you have to love what this guys brings to the table.

If Patrick Beverley had played in 1980s, he would have been a perfect insertion to the Pistons. I certainly loathed the “yellow, gutless way” they did things, but it is hard not have some respect for the Bad Boys of Detroit as a compelling and dynamic basketball team (I had forgotten how eloquent Isiah Thomas is and how bizarre Adrian Dantley seems to be).

There have been many great 30 for 30 documentaries, but I am not sure one resonated (or provided a greater opportunity to relive and reminisce) more than this one.

Thank goodness for Robert Parish’s revenge enactment (start at 0:17). Amazingly, he was not ejected. Respect.

That’s what you do, Paul Pierce. That’s why the Celtics miss you so much.

On to the other spectrum popular culture, Season 4 of Game of Thrones has already been responsible for its share of reactions (SPOILER ALERT!) and has further proved why Westeros is apparently the worst place to have a wedding. This week brought out some mixed opinions about the transfer of a book scene to television. I am still ruminating on the ramifications of the scene in question and as a television viewer first and foremost (I have only read the first book and aim to stay at least two books behind because I enjoy watching the television show too much), I will wait to see where Mr. Weiss and Benioff take me, but for now, if you are watching, read Andy Greenwald because he writes amazing things about an amazing television show.

My feeling after watching this video: I think we may be witnessing the birth of a political star…

The future of late night is bright with these two. John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight debuts Sunday night on HBO. I remember his final The Daily Show with a nostalgic fondness.

Speaking of Late Night television, I admittedly have never been a Letterman guy. This is entirely a byproduct of my age (too young), my sensibility (I appreciate a different type of comedic irreverence), and my late night habits during formative late night habit-forming years (I have been a loyal follower of The Daily Show, an affinity that first awakened to the brilliant laughter and learning combination in college). Notwithstanding, I get it. I get why and how Letterman inspired a generation and why he is justifiably a comedic and television legend. Bill Simmons carves out a beautiful piece of prose to put all in perspective. Stephen Colbert (a Daily Show disciple on his own right) is the worthiest of replacements and will add to the already thriving renaissance of the medium.

Yes, they may not be the most incredible pre-publicity images I have seen, but they are still images from Jurassic World!Jurassic World

Bryce-Dallas-Howard Director-Chair

While on the subject of Steven Spielberg properties…will a collaboration with Tony Kushner be his next project or will it be a collaboration with Tom Hanks? I will gladly take both.

Coldplay is making me very excited for their new album, Ghost Stories, out May 19-20. Every song they have put out thus far simultaneously sounds entirely unique and yet eerily connected to one another as if from some carefully constructed masterwork. The latest release (as a live BBC performance) of “Oceans” furthers this trend:

I have tried and failed to read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter follow up, The Casual Vacancy, four times now. The “right timing” stars have never aligned. Maybe this just announced HBO miniseries will quell the trend.

The Leftovers debuts this summer on HBO and has Damon Lindelof’s stamp written all over it. The long awaited return to television by The Lost showrunner presents something extraordinary.

Finally, two games in, and LaMarcus Aldridge’s 2014 postseason is OUT OF CONTROL. Whether the Blazers win the series or not (Houston is heading back to Portland down 2-0), Aldridge’s rise to one of the game’s elite players (and mid-range jumper master) has already happened.

RANK EVERYTHING: Vacation Destinations (compiled from the hometowns of Spurs players)

This is the second installment of a new features series called RANK EVERYTHING.  In each installment, I will take a topic or category from pop culture and sports, no matter how essential (all-time favorite NBA players, a Lost character fantasy draft), random (best use of the name Walter), or essentially random (the third tracks off every U2 album a.k.a. The “With or Without You/One” Battle to the death), and make a ranking on a given scale or set of criteria.  Some rankings will be of manageable length (10-20), some rankings may be of a slightly unmanageable length (if I ever get around to my Top 100 movies, albums, or TV show lists), and some rankings may feature only one or two items (For example – Best/Strangest Use of “World” when an NBA player changes his name: 2. Metta World Peace [formally Ron Artest]; 1. World B Free [formally Lloyd Free]).  The goal: to rank everything.

One additional note: rankings will always count down: the lower the number, the [insert given adjective/qualifer here] the item.

RANK EVERYTHING: Vacation Destinations (compiled from the hometowns of the current members of the San Antonio Spurs)

The Vacation Destinations will be based on a hypothetical ten day trip during a time of year of my choice. Travel time will be considered. The ranking is entirely subjective.

The why: On my way to work a few days ago, while considering last Thursday night’s loss to OKC that ended the Spurs incredible streak of nineteen straight wins (their last previous loss was back on February 21!), I went down a rabbit hole of Spurs related thoughts. I am astounded by their fifteen years of excellent basketball. I am in awe of their system, of the genius of Gregg Popovich (what I would do to get an inside look inside his brilliant basketball mind), and of the culture of winning that they continue to foster. Always a compilation of international players, it has been a while since the years of Fabricio Oberto, Rasho Nesterovic, and Beno Udrih. I wondered: Do the Spurs still have as high a number of international players (another consistent attribute of the “House that Popovich and Duncan Built” success story) as they usually do? The answer: Yes they do. Five of fourteen players on the Spurs current roster were born in the United States (six if you count Tim Duncan’s U.S. Virgin Islands place of birth). This means that at least eight of their players came of age elsewhere (a remarkable number). I began to think about a hypothetical summer road trip in which Pop takes the team on a tour of every player’s hometown (and you know if this would contribute to more wins, he would decide to embark on such a trip in a time period shorter than his average sideline reporter television interview). This fantastic idea led to the topic for this second installment of “Rank Everything.” Without further ado…

14) North Babylon, NY (hometown of Danny Green)Danny Green

Why North Babylon? I am sure it is a lovely town…North Babylon High

Why not North Babylon? It is in the middle of Long Island and not on the coast; A “vacation” and the headline “Squatters are spoiling North Babylon” do not mix so well together

A little taste of North Babylon culture:

13) Concord, NH (hometown of Matt Bonner)Matt Bonner

Why Concord? Concord is a lovely, quintessential New England state capital; It is within driving distance from my house; It was originally settled by a man named Ebenezer; Matt Bonner is awesome; There is a statue of the esteemed President Franklin Pierce “downtown”Concord, NH

Why not Concord? New Hampshire’s “Live free or die” motto doesn’t ever sit well; Ten days is a long time to spend vacationing in Concord, NH; the Massachusetts (blatant bias) Concord is better; The Concord police force needs to chill

A little taste of Concord culture:

12) Ontario, CA (hometown of Jeff Ayres – the artist formally known as Jeff Pendergraph)Jeff Ayres

Why Ontario? Ontario has an airport; Ontario sports the self-professed largest mystery murder dinner show in America; Ontario has an annual “Pancake Breakfast and Car show” and are notable pioneers for even considering this concept; Landon Donovan is a resident; By all accounts, it is kind of a beautiful placeOntario, CA

Why not Ontario? The last edition of Kenny Rogers Roasters closed in 2011 and this the saddest of news; known as the “gateway to Southern California” – gateways to places are never as fun as the places themselves; Jeff Ayres is not exactly the most compelling member of the San Antonio Spurs

A little taste of Ontario culture:

11) Riverside, CA (hometown of Kawhi Leonard)Kawhi Leonard

Why Riverside? The birthplace of the CA citrus industry; the largest Mission Revival building in the country; 47 minute drive to the Pacific; Riverside has 28 neighborhoods and neighborhoods are wonderful to exploreRiverside, Ca

Why not Riverside? Referred to as a “smog belt” – pollution is a problem; It is close, but still a 47 minute drive to the ocean in Los Angeles is not a 47 minute drive; This annual Dickens festival seems more creepy than cool

A little taste of Riverside culture:

10) Irvine, CA (hometown of Austin Daye)Austin Daye

Why Irvine? The weather is almost always sunny and warm; The presence of an In-N-Out Burger; Some cool movies have filmed there; Will Ferrell is a resident; I always liked Austin’s father Darren Daye; It is the safest big city in the country (populations over 100,000)Irvine, CA

Why not Irvine? In 1918 there were 60,000 acres of lima beans grown on the Irvine Ranch – I don’t like lima beans; Irvine is apparently the home to Jim Rome and Aubrey O’Day

A little taste of Irvine culture:

9) Canberra, Australia (hometown of Patty Mills)Patty Mills

Why Canberra? Canberra has tried to do some wonderful environmental things with greenhouse gas emissions and waste; The Shine Dome; Home to the National Folk Festival and the Royal Canberra Show and who doesn’t want to attend an agricultural show with rides – there is “so much fun to be had”Canberra

Why not Canberra? It’s not Sydney or Melbourne; The flight to get there is going to take an incredibly long time; Although close, Canberra is not on the ocean; Winter in Canberra is winter; “That’s no harbor, that’s a lake (a fake lake!)”; A great place to be a bureaucrat

A little taste of Canberra culture:

8) Joinville, Brazil (hometown of Tiago Splitter)Tiago Splitter

Why Joinville? The climate is “always relatively hot”; interesting history of German descendants; The only city other than Moscow to house a branch of the Bolshoi Ballet; Home to the “world’s largest dance festival”Joinville

Why not Joinville? Close, but not on the water; not the most diverse city in Brazil; It is far from Sau Paulo and even further from Rio; the tragic fights at a football game in December are not too welcoming to tourists

A little taste of Joinville culture:

7) Toronto, Canada (hometown of Cory Joseph)

Cory Joseph

Why Toronto? Toronto has both an American and European flavor; It is the manageable kind of large metropolis that you can experience on a ten day vacation; Rob Ford as a menace to society and as a perfect example of Tyson Zone potential; Rob Ford press conferences; the pronunciation of the word “Toronto” with a Canadian accentToronot

Why not Toronto? Rob Ford; The fact that the people of Toronto seem to tolerate Rob Ford; The Raptors and Blue Jays are usually really bad; The cold in the winters is really cold

A little taste of Toronto culture:

6) Bahia Blanca, Argentina (hometown of Manu Ginobili)Manu Ginobili

Why Bahia Blanca? The city was founded as a fortress! There is a daily train to nearby (relatively) Buenos Aires; There are two zoos! Manu Ginobili is a national treasure – any place that Manu Ginobili calls home is a place I want to visit; It is on the Atlantic OceanBahía BlancaWhy not Bahia Blanca? Although a port city, you have to travel a little ways to get to real beaches for swimming

A little taste of Bahia Blanca culture:

5) Cormeilles-en-Parisis, France (hometown of Boris Diaw)Boris Diaw

Why Cormeilles-en-Parisis? It is where Boris Diaw is from (this should say it all); A quiet suburb of Paris? Yes, please; It has an awesome fortCormeilles-en-Parisis

Why not Cormeilles-en-Parisis? It is landlocked; You are inevitably going to want to take transport to Paris during many of your ten days

A little taste of Cormeilles-en-Parisis culture:

4) San Giovanni in Persiceto, Italy (hometown of Marco Belinelli)Marco Belinelli

Why San Giovanni in Persiceto? It’s in Italy; There is a castle where you can stay; Some of its history goes back to the year 728; There was a healthy anti-facist resistance force during World War II; It’s in ItalySan Giovanni in Persiceto

Why not San Giovanni in Persiceto? It is not on the water and is a little bit of a distance from larger cities; It may be a better place to live than a place to vacation

A little taste of San Giovanni in Persiceto culture:

3) Bruges, Belgium (hometown of Tony Parker)

Tony Parker

Why Bruges? “One of the most romantic places I have been to” – Deniz; Sometimes referred to as the “Venice of the North” because of its canal system; The city is about 1300 years old; Most of its medieval architecture is still intact; The city still employs a full-time carillonneur to work the bells of the 13th Century belfry; If you want to live history (as I do!) on your San Antonio Spurs player hometown trip, Bruges may be your best choiceBruges

Why not Bruges? Bruges is known for its lace – I am not sure this is a good thing; The recent movie In Bruges starring Colin Farrell put me to sleep

A little taste of Bruges culture:

2) Christiansted, Saint Croix, US Virgin Islands (hometown of Tim Duncan)Tim Duncan

Why Christiansted? Christiansted has a near perfect tropical climate for beach activities; Alexander Hamilton was once a resident and then moved to New York and helped found the United States; Tim Duncan was once a resident and then moved to San Antonio to begin a fifteen years (and counting!) NBA dynasty; Christiansted has some cays and cays are awesome; Island hopping!Christiansted

Why not Christiansted? Hard to avoid its checkered history as a Danish colony town built by African slaves; Tropical paradise is not the right vacation for all

A little taste of Christiansted culture:

1) Gisborne, New Zealand (hometown of Aron Baynes)

Aron Baynes

Why Gisborne? The possibility that there is a “Sir Guy”; Beautiful beaches with great surf; The annual Rhythm and Vines Music Festival; Gisborne often makes skinny dipping world record attempts; Potential for Lord of the Rings sites day trips; First city in the world to see the sun each day (for part of the year)Gisborne

Why not Gisborne? It is a trek to get there

A little taste of Gisborne culture:

What do you all think?  Did I underrate any destinations? Did I overrate any destinations?  How would your rankings differ?

Some NBA nights matter more than others…

And they do.  Yes, eighty two games is a long season and one off night or one blowout win is not going to make a dramatic standings difference.  Yes, early season marquee matchup games are often over-hyped and over discussed (Who can forget the unnecessary backlash after the first Big Three era Heat game did not go so well in Boston in 2010?).  Yes, sitting through any 76ers game at this point is a punishment that fits somewhere among descriptors “cruel,” “unusual,” and “depressing.”  The NBA regular season has too many games and too many nights that are mere afterthoughts of a much too long season (certainly in terms of games) that doesn’t find its full gallop until closer to the end of the race.  In a season where an average team’s intent to “tank” seems to be as pervasive as any attempts to “win,” this has been a particular problem in the 2013-2014 NBA season.

Last night was an exception to this way too common rule.  Of the three games broadcast nationally on TNT (an NBA Finals Heat vs. Spurs rematch, an LA battle between the Clippers and Lakers) and over the magical NBA League Pass invention (a thrilling offensive showdown between two teams with awkward weather related and plural/singular confused names – Suns and Thunder), one was an extreme blowout that speaks to the Tank-tastic state of the NBA, one was a savvy veteran defensive shutdown that has major big picture implications, and one was a close fought nail-biter that could be a first round playoff preview. Last night in the NBA mattered.  Here’s a quick game by game breakdown of why:

Spurs 111 – Heat 87

Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker

The final score, the most lopsided Heat defeat of the season, was a lot worse than it had to be after the Heat seemed to entirely fall apart in the middle of the fourth quarter.  LeBron may see the “popular with no one” sleeve addition to uniforms as part of the problem, but this does not give enough credit to the unrelenting and consistent excellent basketball that has come out of Tim Duncan and the San Antonio basketball team for the last 15 (!!!) years.  Every year seems to be the time for the Spurs to take a step or two backwards, but as game’s like last night continue to prove, the Spurs will again be in the mix to win an NBA Championship this spring.  After taste testing Duncan and Pop’s fifth title in Game 6 last year (Parker and Ginobili’s fourth) before Ray Allen went all “I am the best three point shooter of all-time for a reason on us,” this may have been the season to finally regress a little bit, but clearly not so fast.  Despite wonderful roster flexibility, a necessity against the Western Conference juggernaut row that they will have to face to get back to the Finals, and more experience playoff experience than any other potential opponent, it is not going to be an easy journey (especially now that Scott Brooks realizes that injured or not, Kendrick Perkins largely injures his team on the floor).  I just hope by now we have learned not to count out the San Antonio Spurs.

Suns 128 – Thunder 122

Gerald Green

Fact: It is March 7.

Fact: The Phoenix Suns are still in position to make the playoffs (currently in the seventh seed and a game and a half out of sixth despite losing Eric Bledsoe to injury for the past two months).

Fact: If you haven’t seen them, the Phoenix Suns are one of the most entertaining teams to watch play basketball.

Fact: According to the people who talk and write about the NBA for a living, Jeff Hornacek is the frontrunner to win Coach of the Year.

Fact: According to the people who talk and write about the NBA for a living, Goran Dragic is a legitimate third-place vote for MVP after LeBron and Durant.

Fact: Gerald Green had the following stat line last night: 41 minutes, 12-22 shooting, 8-13 from three, 9-11 on free throws, 41 points.  Again, this a fact (Yes it is 2014 and yes this is not some alternate universe in which the former Slam Dunk champion has become a perennial All-Star.  Yes, this is still Gerald Green).

Clippers 142 – Lakers 94 (and it wasn’t even that close)


In case math is not your forté, the Clippers beat the Lakers last night by 48 points (Wesley Johnson had a -40 +/-).  The neo-rivalry that had been a little feisty since David Stern dictated the end of the Chris Paul to Lakers trade a few years ago officially blew up in this Tank-errific demolition clinic.  These aren’t your NBA Champion Lakers and maybe even more so, these aren’t your cursed, Donald Sterling owned Clippers.  The balance of power in LA professional basketball reached the most extreme polarity it its history last night.  These Clippers are a legitimate threat in the West.

Monday night TV: when amazing happens

Television the night after the Oscars can often be a little bit anticlimactic.  Apparently the following and diversified artists didn’t get the memo.

“Hey Kevin Durant.  I am not going to give up that MVP so easily.” – LeBron James (hypothetically), after scoring 61 points against the Charlotte Hornets to-be

Gonzo stopped by Jimmy Kimmel to promote Muppets Most Wanted and discuss best practices for chicken relationships.

One night after the “Adele Dazeem” incident, Idina Menzel spent some time with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots playing kid instruments.  Yes, she knows what it means to “let it go.”

And finally, The Daily Show has a new correspondent.  Welcome to the NBC sitcom star and late night talk show of your own farm system, Jordan Klepper.