Category Archives: NBA

At least I am not a Knicks fan (or when an NBA team reaches the Tyson Zone)

Disaster has struck Manhattan and it has nothing to do with an overwrought Avengers-like movie plot device.  The New York Knicks, due in part to unrealized expectations of a signature NBA franchise in the signature American city, are in a most dangerous place.  The following headlines currently adorn espn.com main news section:

“Reports: Wife alleges Felton threatened her”

“J.R. Smith: Headband tug only an illusion”

“Dirk drops Knicks on buzzer-beater”

The horrifying thing is that this is just one day in the house that James Dolan built and things could get a whole lot worse.  On a roster that features Metta “malice in palaces” World Peace (for now), Kenyon “dark alley all-time great” Martin (providing the NBA aggressive unrest for over a decade), and J.R. “I love childish behavior!” Smith, and the ensuing departure of Carmelo “there is no way I am sticking around for this” Anthony, anything is possible.  I am genuinely scared.  Stay tuned.

NBA All-Star Saturday Redux

It feels like every year the NBA tries to “revamp” All-Star Saturday Night.  It has been eons since the glory years of Larry Bird outright Three-Point Shootout win guarantees and dunking duels between the game’s elite1, and the NBA desperately wants to rediscover some of this shine and sparkle again.  The All-Star Legends Game is resting in peace (there were far too many player injuries) and the Rookie/Sophomore game has been moved to Friday night.  Left in their places are the Shooting Stars Challenge (a longstanding failed attempt to include WNBA players in NBA All-Star festivities2) and the Skills Challenge that does not ask players to stretch themselves beyond a basic middle school dribbling and passing drill.  The Three-Point Shootout has been the night’s highlight for some time, but it too often lacks a degree of drama (certainly not of degree of the Bird and Craig Hodges years).  With the exception of some Blake Griffin car acrobatics a few years ago, the Dunk Contest, once the main event, has been stale for some time, often muddled by a cast of either relative unknown participants3 or players that need far less of the spotlight4, an ever changing judging system that over the years makes less and less sense, and an open timed format where missed dunks are allowed and any competitive momentum is allowed to dissipate.

Per usual (but often misguided) attempt to improve, the NBA again made some tweaks to spice up this year’s affair.  A handful did work, most blatantly did not, and a few left me questioning the professional acumen of the organizers from the NBA office.  Here are my thoughts on what to keep from this year’s All-Star Saturday Night, what to immediately eliminate, and some suggestions to change this potentially dynamic experience for the better.

ELIMINATE…Nick Cannon as an MC.  I get that he hosts on television for a living, but I just don’t get why he hosts on television for a living.  His question and answer sessions with event winners were excruciating to watch and poisoned any potential positive momentum earned on the court.

KEEP…any situation that allows fathers and sons to participate together.  Why not take the conceit further?  Who wouldn’t have wanted to see a two on two battle between the Currys (Dell and Stephen) and the Hardaways (Tim and Tim Jr.)?  Why not let them all participate in the Three-Point Shootout?  Next year bring in the Robinsons (Glenn and Glenn Jr.) and the Thompsons (Klay and Mychal) and make into a father-son round robin tournament.  There is so much viewing pleasure here, NBA!

Tim Hardaway

ELIMINATE…any opportunity for Ben McLemore to “act.”  He made Shaquille O’Neal look like Daniel Day-Lewis.

Ben McLemore and Shaquille O'Neal

KEEP…the money ball location choice in the Three-Point Shootout.  This strategic element will improve with more experience (many participants did not seem to use it well), but it does add an appreciated new dimension to the night’s best event.

KEEP…the East versus West motif, but make it actually matter.  Bring in Team Captains (perhaps LeBron and Durant) and have them coach their conference participants on each event.  It will mean something if there is a greater incentive for winning the night.

ELIMINATE…the Skills Challenge as it currently exists.  These are world class NBA players.  Why not treat them as such?  If you are going to have a skills competition, include higher level professional skills.  Perhaps include a full court behind the back pass or a free-style creative dribbling battle.  We know point guards are skillful with the ball, but who doesn’t want to see some NBA big men showing some handle in the open floor?  If the NBA is really “fantastic” and “amazing,” why include a Skills Competition that is staid, dull, and boring?

ELIMINATE…WNBA participation.  Period.

KEEP…retired player participation, but go further with it.  As the NBA loves to (rightfully so) honor its past (although these Mount Rushmore conversations are a bit silly), the All-Star Weekend is such a unique opportunity to bring in past rivalries to compete again in some creatively themed events.  Who changes the channel for a John Starks versus Nick Anderson clutch shooting competition?

ELIMINATE…the Shooting Stars Challenge all together.  No one wants to watch a WNBA player, a former NBA player, and a current NBA player heave half court shots to beat an arbitrary clock.

ELIMINATE…Dunk Contests that end unexpectedly.  After John Wall’s impressive dunk of the night, the event was suddenly over.  Did John Wall win?  Did the East win?  I was so confused.

KEEP…a judges panel that features Dominique Wilkins, Magic Johnson, and Julius Erving.

ELIMINATE…going down the judges line one by one in the Dunk Contest to hear who they voted for.  Poor Dr. J, so ready to unleash a zinger or two, was asked to always reveal his answer third (no thanks to Nick Cannon), so that by the time it was his turn, the winner had already been determined by Dominique and Magic’s votes.  If voting matters, and it could, present it effectively.

KEEP…Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller as Three Point Shootout analysts.  I felt like I was listening to a master class.

Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller

KEEP…teams in the Dunk Contest.  Until the anti-climactic ending, there was a bit more intrigue this year, wondering who was going to face who in the battle rounds.

ELIMINATE…the freestyle round of the Dunk Contest.  There were too many missed dunks.  Hold these participants to a higher standard.

ELIMINATE…on that note, missed dunks in general.

ELIMINATE…events, besides a hypothetical “the best mid-range jumper for a big,” that Chris Bosh could potentially win.  Chris Bosh has won enough already.

Shooting Stars

The “Celebrity” Game is also in need of a bit of a facelift.  The involvement of Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan as a player and Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose as coaches are great places to start.  Here are three other suggestions:

ELIMINATE…Kevin Hart as your go-to and, as deemed by ESPN, “A List” celebrity for the Celebrity Game.  He is not “A-List,” he is annoying, and should not be asked to return.

ELIMINATE…a Celebrity Game that forces me to look up who some of its participants are.  It stretches the meaning of the word “celebrity” to an unwanted extent.

KEEP…Zach Lowe involved.  This man is a genius.  “Get Lowe…”

Simmons, Lowe, and Snoop Dogg


  1. Sirs Jordan and Wilkins. 
  2. Could you imagine any NBA player returning the favor at the WNBA All-Star weekend? 
  3. See Jeremy Evans. 
  4. You can certainly throw Dwight Howard and Nate Robinson into this mix.  Do ex-players count?  If so, we have all seen enough Kenny Smith MC performances to last us a lifetime. 

And the first NBA coach to get fired goes to…

What do Julius Erving, Andrew Toney, Moses Malone, Mo Cheeks, and Bobby Jones all have in common? Not one of them is currently an NBA head coach.

At a certain point, as Mike Woodson once found out, coaches have a say in Josh Smith’s shot selection. Something had to give and Joe Dumars oversaw the 2004 Pistons championship so, until further notice, he has inexplicable job security.

Let’s Get A Few Things Off My Chest: MLK Day Edition

From time to time, I need to get a few things off my chest…this is the first installment of 2014.

• I have never been a regular viewer of network Late Night television (SNL is the exception) and struggle with the traditional monologue/guest/guest/lesser known guest format, but this may have to change (at least through the DVR access point).  I watched the Jimmy Fallon Best of Late Night Primetime Special last week and was thoroughly entertained and impressed.  He does some hilarious things, especially with any form of musical parody, any collaboration with Justin Timberlake, and any time the Roots are involved (I never would have known that the band I struggled to connect with on those spring days on Foss Hill at Wesleyan would become the house band of The Tonight Show!).  I am all in on Jimmy as the host of The Tonight Show and am ready to see what Seth Myers will do with Late Night.  In the branches of the Lorne Michaels tree of comedy prosperity I trust.

Here are some of my favorite Jimmy Fallon clips:

An a cappella version of “Can’t Stop”:

The “Sesame Street Theme” with childhood instruments:

A lip sync battle between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Stephen Merchant:

The “History of Rap” performed by Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon:

The “Reading Rainbow” theme sung by the Doors:

• Yes, yesterday’s Patriots AFC Championship game loss to the Denver Broncos was a disappointment (and a crushing blow to a potential Super Bowl hosting party gig), the grieving period will be short-lived.  As a lifelong Boston sports fan, I have both experienced my share of devastating losses (I am looking at you 2008 Super Bowl, 2003 ALCS, 2010 NBA Finals…I could go on) and thankfully, an embarrassment of the richest successes beginning with the first time Brady and Belichick combined forces almost twelve years ago.  The 2013-2014 New England Patriots overachieved amidst a who’s who of best player loss to injury (Gronk, Wilfork, Mayo, and most recently, Talib), free agency (Welker, Woodhead) and incarceration for murder (the increasingly vile tale of Aaron Hernandez).  The defensive offsides penalty had already been thrown on much of this free play of a season, so to even be within one win of the Super Bowl was something to celebrate.  Yesterday, the best football team won.  As Bill Belichick’s full calendar of 2014 draft preparation already shows, it is time to move on to next season.

• The Oscar nominations woke up the West Coast Thursday morning with some surprise inclusions, notable omissions, and endless questions about what the rationale behind the decision to have Chris Hemsworth (“a super hero amongst us”) announce them could have been.  My strongest lingering takeaways:

The Academy dug The Wolf of Wall Street.  With acting nominations for Leonardo DiCaprio (an on the fence possibility going in) and Jonah Hill (considered to be even further on the outside looking in), Martin Scorsese’s eighth directing nomination, and a Best Picture nomination among the field of nine, there is a renewed momentum for this relative latecomer to the awards season party.  After his Golden Globe win and facing a field that does not feature once thought to be juggernaut competition from the likes of Tom Hanks and Robert Redford, I think he has a legitimate shot at winning his first Academy Award.

Speaking of Tom Hanks, his exclusion from the Best Actor race is the hardest omission for me to stomach.  His performance in Captain Phillips (nondescript New England accent aside) was vintage Hanks and deserved to be recognized.

I was most pleased that Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen were nominated for Best Song, but it made me uncomfortable when Cheryl Boone Isaacs had to say, “You may know them better as U2.”  Would she have had to similarly qualify the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?

I have six movies to see before the March 2 ceremony in order for me to have fulfilled my viewing quota in the six major categories (Best Picture, Best Actor and Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Actress, Best Director).  Those movies are, in order from “I want to see you” to “this matinee feels like a chore”: 1. Her (always on my list), 2. Dallas Buyer’s Club (I am all in on the “2014 Year of McConaughey” train), 3. August: Osage County (my all-time favorite stage play but not sure about the film version), 4. Nebraska (“Will Forte!”), 5. Philomena (one of those trailers that does not inspire, but the words from mouth that I have heard have been universally praising), 6. Blue Jasmine (I am not sure I want to have a relationship with Woody Allen pictures going forward).

• The second episode of Real World: Ex-Plosion may have been slightly more tolerable than the first, but I am still struggling.  Any chance that Doug will return for more tomfoolery?

• Sherlock came back to US audiences last night and was a most welcome return.  Perhaps as a consequence, it took me two sittings to get through the second episode of the more melancholic and morose True Detective.  I couldn’t help but think that I had already watched the true detective.

• In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, this lullaby of hope never loses its power.  It’s also by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen:

Finally, welcome back Captain Rajon Rondo.  We missed you.

David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about MTV’s “The Challenge,” pop culture, and the NBA for Bishop and Company.

Draft Nights

On the night of June 24, 1998, I flew a transatlantic flight from Boston to Frankfurt, Germany en route to a most wonderful three week high school trip through Prague, Krakow, and Berlin.  This European expedition was one of the most formidable experiences of my high school years, solidifying and furthering my passions for history, travel, and white chocolate magnum bars.  I have some striking memories from the trip – winning a competitive ultimate frisbee game on a field by Hradcany Castle, alluding locals on a paddle boat on the Vltava River, entering a gas chamber at Auschwitz, sitting alone for hours in Wenceslas Square people watching – yet the one memory that has stuck with me the longest and now, fifteen years later, will forever be the most significant, occurred in the terminal at Logan Airport waiting for our flight.

Although thrilled and privileged to be able to travel to Europe in such a way, a part of me was disappointed that I would miss most of the NBA draft.  Probably second to only Christmas Eve growing up, the NBA draft was my favorite night of the year.  My die hard Celtics fandom began at the earliest of ages (few four year olds remember the 1986 title run so well) and especially since the Bird (1992), McHale (1993), and Parish (1994) departures, the NBA draft represented a glimmer of hope for the Celtics to find their way again as the most storied and successful franchise in professional sports.  Some recent horrible selections of useless stiffs (hello Acie Earl and Eric Montross) followed by the M.L. Carr tank-a-thon in 1996-1997 in a failed attempt to have a shot at Tim Duncan (five four titles in San Antonio later) led Boston to bring in what was thought to be (I was genuinely excited) our great savior.  Rick Pitino jumped on board as coach, president, vice president, media instigator, player agitator, and impatience advocate in 1997 hoping to steer the Tim Duncan bandwagon, but found himself instead with the third and sixth picks.  He selected Chauncey Billups third (but promptly traded him in February for Kenny Anderson because Pitino didn’t like Billups’ progress as a point guard and leader – Billups went on to be an All-Star, NBA Finals MVP, and Hall of Fame candidate) and Ron Mercer sixth (an overall disappointing NBA career plagued by injuries).  Along with Antoine Walker, the enigmatic, wiggly, lovable, super talented, four point shot proponent, the Celtics entered the 1998 Draft on what seemed to be a promising upswing.

Back at the airport on the night of June 24, the Celtics had the tenth pick, and I remember hoping that I would be there to see it on one of the bar TVs near our gate.  Our flight was at 8:30, so, depending on what time we boarded, I wasn’t sure we were going to be there for it.  Many prognosticators predicted the great Paul Pierce to be selected second by the host city Grizzlies (in Vancouver at the time) or third by Denver.  I remember hoping that we would get a player like Bryce Drew from Valparaiso (he played the role of Cinderella in a memorable game in the 1998 NCAA tournament) or Pat Garrity from Notre Dame who was essentially Steve Novak 1.0.  It was inconceivable that a collegiate stud like Pierce would be available at 10.  After Vancouver selected Mike Bibby at 2 and Denver selected Pierce’s Kansas (and future Celtics) teammate Raef LaFrentz at 3, the remote possibility of Pierce becoming a Celtic began to take flight.  The next four selections (Antawn Jamison to Toronto and then Vince Carter to Golden Slate, traded for each other later that night, followed by the late Robert Traylor to the Mavs, Jason Williams to the Kings) filled specific needs for those specific teams (or so I thought).  There was no way that Philadelphia at no. 8 would let a potential All-Star like Pierce go by.  I remember heading into Philly’s pick thinking that maybe the Celtics could get this big German kid who reminded some of Larry Bird if Milwaukee passed (see Dirk Nowitzki – also traded that night to Dallas in exchange for the rights to Tractor Traylor).  When David Stern’s “with the eighth pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Larry Hughes” echoed through the Logan Airport lounge, the opportunity to get Pierce (or at least the promising Nowitzki, little did we all know) finally became real.  Milwaukee selected Dirk, and then, this beautiful moment happened, just minutes before I had to board my flight (too bad I missed the Pistons pick Bonzi Wells at 11)…

Last night, painfully and appropriately on the night of the 2013 NBA Draft, Paul Pierce was no longer a member of the Boston Celtics (I am aware that the actual deal cannot be consummated until July 10, but this agreement is as good as done).  As a person who literally grew from a boy to a man during these past fifteen (at times tumultuous, but ultimately so rewarding) years, this era of my life symbolically has come to a close.  Thank you Paul for embodying what it truly means to be a Boston Celtic.

For some Celtics fans, their most formative Celtics eras were led by Cousy and Sharman, Russell, Havlicek and Cowens, or Bird, McHale, and Parish.  My Celtics were led by Paul Pierce.  We will miss you, no. 34.

David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about MTV’s The Challenge, pop culture, and the NBA for Bishop and Company.

Let’s Get a Few Things Off My Chest – Boston Celtics Edition

From time to time, I need to get a few of things off of my chest…this is the second installment…

 The extreme surreality of yesterday’s Celtics live viewing experience is staggering to think about.  As I recall each iteration of the 12:30 PM – 4:00 PM EST telecast a day later, I remain dumbfounded.  Beginning with the sudden announcement of the late game scratch, to when the news of Rajon Rondo’s ACL tear went from twitter rumors to Doris Burke confirmations (courtesy of Celtics PR guru Jeff Twiss), to watching Bill Simmons bury his head during the half-time show in fear of the worst, to how Celtics’ on-court play kept matching the defending champs in regulation and then into two overtimes in what had to be the biggest win of the season, and finally to post game questions about who knew what when, I am still awestruck by all that happened.  Although we are not sure which dominoes are now going to fall in wake of the devastating Rondo injury news, January 27, 2013 will always be one of the most unforgettable and emotional days etched in my long history with the Boston Celtics.
• It is no surprise that Jackie MacMallun was at the center of the information flow on this infamous day.  Based on her account, she was responsible for sharing the news with Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat bench and even more bizarrely, with Rajon Rondo himself (who had yet to hear the MRI results).  Again, this is another bizarre element to this story.
• One of the most dramatic aspects of yesterday’s information flow concerned the Celtics players who did not know about Rajon’s season ending injury until after the game.  Watch Paul Pierce’s reaction when Doris Burke shares the fateful news…
• Where do we go from here?  I am choosing, at least for a few days, to take a breath (yesterday took a lot out of me) before I can properly put into prospective the ramifications that this injury may have on our current version (and the KG era for that matter) of the Boston Celtics.  If you want to read what the smartest NBA writer alive has to say, read Zach Lowe here on Grantland.com.  Be warned: much time is given to scenarios in which Paul Pierce is traded.
• Removing my intellectualized viewing of the NBA and looking at this situation as just a pure fan, I am going to miss watching Rajon Rondo play basketball for as long as he is injured.  There is no player in the modern NBA who I enjoy watching more.  His incredible court sense and passing ability are wholly unique and can only be matched by a handful of players in the history of the league.  Let us hope that Rondo is made of the same ilk as Adrian Peterson (if anyone is, it is Rondo), and can recover quickly and even better than before.  It is no surprise that Rondo was walking on a torn ACL for a few days and just thought he was nursing a minor hamstring.
• Finally, the Boston Globe sneakily released this article on Robert Parish a few days ago.  It is a must read for any fan of the 1980s Celtics who have wondered what ever happened to the Chief.  This is pretty sad stuff, especially his feelings about his ex-teammates.
It is a sad day in Celtics nation.  Rajon, get better soon.
David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about pop culture and the NBA for Bishop and Company.  He writes weekly TV columns on Afterbuzztv.com and his weekly THE CHALLENGE: BATTLE OF THE SEASONS Power Rankings can be read on Derek Kosinski’s ultimatechallengeradio.com.
 

Let’s Get a Few Things Off My Chest…Episode 1

From time to time, I need to get a few of things off of my chest…this is the first installment…

• In a span of just a few days last week, Britney Spears announced that she will not be returning to the X Factor (not a surprise, she was a disaster), that her engagement to Jason Trawick was off, and that she may be signing on to headline her own Las Vegas show.  All of this is troubling news for a person who seemed to be mounting a promising career comeback.  I wish her the best.

• For all you Celtics doubters out there, Avery Bradley’s return has finally allowed the Danny Ainge offseason roster blueprint for success to take flight.  Rotations are crisp, players seem to understand their roles from night to night, the bench has been reinvigorated (especially Jeff Green, Sully, and Courtney Lee and Jason Terry at least in the M.L. Carr role off the court, his on court play has left something to be desired), and the defense seems to finally be coming around (even without KG on the court).  Speaking of defense, please watch Avery Bradley play on ball defense.  I was at the Rockets game the other night and his work on James Harden was simply incredible (James Harden by the way is even more of an offensive stud in person).

• I hope Rajon Rondo “adapts” because he is just too special of a player to be missing games every few months because of his uncontrolled emotional tomfoolery (although his arm grab of Kris Humphries in KG’s defense remains a season highlight – Humphries has been pretty much MIA in Brooklyn ever since).

Rajon Rondo after the Kris Humphries altercation

• Brian Billick may be the worst football color analyst I have ever heard.  His comments this weekend in Atlanta was either comically inaccurate or painfully obvious.  Why is it that the NBA seems to find incredible on-air talent (Barkley, Jeff Van Gundy), but the NFL coach or player transition yields so few breakout stars?  Thank goodness Ray Lewis will be joining the media ranks next year (and hopefully immediately after Sunday’s game).

• This year’s Golden Globes ceremony were quite enjoyable.  Tina and Amy could not have been more wonderful as hosts (although why they couldn’t have been more active in the latter half of the show is an awards show conundrum – no offense, but is anyone pining for a Jeremy Irons intro?) and the program had its share of memorable moments.  I was struck by the elegance of Daniel Day-Lewis, the grace of both Ben Affleck and his beautiful wife Jennifer Garner, how Bill Clinton was the biggest star in the room, and how uncomfortable Quentin Tarantino makes me feel.  Jodie Foster’s speech was something special, but to say I fully understood it would be a house of lies (congrats Don Cheadle on your unexpected win!).  Also, what was going on with that Mel Gibson stuffed animal hamster moment besides creepiness?  Here is my highlight of the night:

• The Oscar nominations had their share of omissions (Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow for Best Director) and pleasant surprises (Beast of the Southern Wild had a nice go of it), but one point of true disappoint are the zero nominations for The Dark Knight Rises.  It may be an imperfect motion picture that to many (of which I am not one) did not live up to The Dark Knight, but Christopher Nolan’s epic trilogy conclusion deserves some sort of recognition.

• Speaking of Christopher Nolan, excitement for Interstellar has officially begun.

• Wednesday nights (and my week for that matter) are just not the same without The Challenge.  I would love the suits at MTV to finally create a seasonal structure for this unofficial fifth professional sport (a fall and spring season perhaps).  Why hasn’t this happened yet?

The Challenge...you are missed
The Challenge…you are missed

• Girls is back (season 2 premiered on Sunday night while simultaneously winning some Golden Globes) and if you haven’t joined the party yet, it is time.

• The NBA Countdown pre-game show on ESPN featuring Michael Wilbon, Jalen Rose, Magic Johnson, and Bill Simmons has wrestled the “best pre-game show” crown from Inside the NBA (still struggling when Shaq expresses himself verbally).

• FInally, here is an assignment if you have cable: do a search for Fuse network or Funny or Die’s Billy on the Street and sign up for a season pass.  You will not laugh harder over a thirty minute period than watching Billy’s incredible on the street games and conversations.  For now, here is a “Quizzed in the Face” from a recent episode:

David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about pop culture and the NBA for Bishop and Company.  He writes weekly TV columns on Afterbuzztv.com (next up, Fox’s “The Following”) and his weekly THE CHALLENGE: BATTLE OF THE SEASONS Power Rankings can be read on Derek Kosinski’s ultimatechallengeradio.com.