It is the dog days of summer and from a sports perspective arguably the worst time of year. I find myself scouring the web looking for tidbits of info on anything and everything sports related. Has Steven Jackson re-signed with the Rams? Has the Brett Favre saga ended? Did Terence Kinsey finally sign?
It’s slim pickings out there right now for basketball fans. I am waiting in anticipation for the Olympics to start but even that won’t be enough because the games start at such bizarre hours. Unless I kick the habit of checking ESPN.com every morning when I wake up then watching the games, knowing the outcome, becomes a little less enjoyable.
As a result of my restlessness and my expanded internet searching I have stumbled across some interesting items. Some of them you may have seen, others you may not have. If there is one thing these things have in common it’s that they all make me go "hmmmm…."
Gilbert Arenas – No Wonder You Are Not Welcome on Team USA
In some ways I give a lot of credit to Gilbert Arenas. His story is well known and he has earned the right to sign a $100 million dollar plus contract. He is not worth it, but he has earned the right. How he spends that money is also up to him, even if it means designing a pool worth more than the salaries of the 1200 autoworkers laid off at GM plants over the past few months.
As many of you know Arenas has a blog on NBA.com. He is much like Chris Bosh in that he is very comfortable with the internet and using it as a platform to increase visibility and in turn, marketability. Gilbert has ruffled a few feathers since he started blogging and many of you will remember him discounting Jose Calderon and his accomplishments around All-Star time.
Well this week Arenas has outdone himself and has shown just how truly out of touch people can be when they do make it rich. In his latest post Gil touches on a number of topics including his pool’s design plans. To quote from his blog:
"Then I’ll have my personal shark tank that’s going to be in my basement. My basement used to be my weight room but I’m converting it to a shark tank. I cut a whole wall out down there and replaced it with a 10,000 gallon shark tank. That’s going to be my aggressive tank, only filled with bullhead sharks. If anybody knows what a bullhead shark is, it’s the No. 1 killing shark in America. It can go in salt water and it can go in fresh water. I’m going to have a salt water tank so I can have my eels and my stingrays too.
I’m going to have three bullheads in there. I originally wanted six, but the guy who has to clean it once a week said that he’s not going to get in the tank with six of them, he’ll get in with three. Once they get big enough, I’ll have to get rid of them. The guy who cleans the tank actually goes and catches the sharks himself, because you know, these sharks you can’t just go buy, they’re illegal."
Hopefully this is not a reflection of the education Gil received while attended the University of Arizona. Does Arenas not realize (a) that at a time when the US Economy is being brutalized that discussing his shark tanks is simply poor taste, and (b) that announcing you are going to have illegal pets probably isn’t the best idea?! Dude, you might as well call Pest Control and invite them over for tea and crumpets.
Of course Gil’s fascination with sharks is greatly overshadowed by his discussion on American Politics. He writes:
"It’s hard for me to vote, because since I’ve been in the NBA I’ve been in the upper class so I’ve been a Republican. If you have any type of money, you’re a Republican, period."
Right Gilbert, because there are no other topics to discuss other than taxes. He then continues with this gem:
"There’s another reason I don’t vote – I don’t want jury duty. If you’re not registered to vote, you can’t get jury duty. I know that campaign Diddy had a couple years ago, "Vote or Die," yeah if the alternative is jury duty, I’m going to die."
I am pretty speechless about this one. In one of the most important US Presidential elections you are NOT voting because of jury duty. No wonder you were no longer wanted on the US team, you might be the worst representative of a country…well ever. The scary part is some people will read his blog and think he has a point. This is moronic.
How You Define Experience
One site I have visited for the first time this week is Hoopsworld.com. I won’t be going back after having read this piece. Grades are a funny thing and I am not one to shy away from the fact that we here at the HQ have been criticized and questioned when we dole out mid-season and final grades. That being said we have always graded on actual results.
Apparently others don’t care to do the same. In the article the author gives the Roko signing an incomplete while doles out a B for the Will Solomon signing and chalks up the difference to experience. Like 64 games makes you "experienced".
There seems to be a lot of doubt about Roko’s experience. Let’s get one thing perfectly clear, he has experience. He has played professional basketball since 2000. That is eight years of pro-ball. That’s more than Lebron, more than Amare and more than Shane Battier. I am not comparing Roko to these guys and not denying that it is a different game over there, but I find it hard to believe that Solomon should be considered any more experienced than Roko.
The biggest hurdle facing Ukic is not his lack of experience. He has played in big games with high stakes and in front of crazy fans. He has played with and against some of the best players in the world. The biggest hurdle Roko faces is the adjustment off the court. Much like when Calderon came over it’s the lifestyle and the cultural hurdles that will be the hardest thing for Ukic to get over. Having Calderon on the team will only lessen this burden as he has been through the rough transition. Sure there will be adjustments to make as between the European game and the NBA game, but don’t be mistaken, Ukic is not coming over green. He should be able to handle the 12-15 minutes a game admirably.
Now if Calderon goes down to injury then we have a different story. Running a team, let alone an NBA team is not something either Calderon or Solomon have experience with.
Speaking of Europe…
The Lure of $50 million
You know there is little to discuss NBA wise when you see this headline:
Yeah, no kidding! We have talked about the European issue at length here and there are undoubtedly some concerns. Some concerns are more serious than others. This however is not one of them. Of course if someone offered Lebron $50 million a year he would consider Europe. He would be MENTAL not too. If you know the facts however it is clear that the chances of this happening are very remote for a variety of reasons. If you read the update to this article you will see how stupid it is to even be reporting on these things.
Of course if you are Lebron’s Agent you have to look into these things.
Speaking of Agents…
Elton Brand owes David Falk a Few Nice Dinners
Why is everyone on the 76ers band wagon all of a sudden with the signing of Brand while questioning the trade Colangelo made for Jermaine O’Neal. It doesn’t make sense. Last time I checked Brand is coming back from a devastating injury and just signed what could be an absolutely cap crippling contract while Jermaine O’Neal from all accounts has truly taken his time to get 100% healthy. Although O'Neal has a mammoth contract this same contract could easily become one of the most highly sought after assets when the 2010 off-season rolls around. You can’t tell me the Knicks don’t want to clear 22 million or so off the books to make a run at Lebron (unless of course he signs in Europe!).
I loved Elton Brand when he was in Clipperdom, but I have my doubts about how effective he is going to be, at least right out of the gate. Achilles injuries are tough to bounce back from and the fact is the tough fans of Philadelphia are going to expect big things right away. I think expectations around this team have been set too high. At this moment I am taking Jermaine O’Neal and his contract over Elton Brand’s any day of the week.
The Elton Brand signing did however make the Atlantic Division a much tougher one. Just look at the PF position alone with Bosh, Brand, KG, Randolph and…Stromile Swift? It’s going to be a battle every time these guys match-up against each other. The biggest advantage for the Raps though is that as these guys battle it out JO will be matching up against much weaker opponents in Eddy Curry, Dalembert, Perkins and Brook Lopez.
And while on the PF topic…
CB4 and the Olympic Spirit
It's weird to see Bosh on this team at times as he's really the ninth or maybe eighth man. After the starting five, coach K usually goes with Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Michael Redd or Deron Williams depending on match-ups and needs. With the US's size at the wings, both Lebron James and Carmello Anthony (two of the starting five) can play the 4 or even 5 spots depending so both CB4 and Carlos Boozer don't necessarily get a lot of burn.
But that's not to say that this is a bad thing for Raptors' fans when you think about it. CB4 will still get some amazing experience, a nice summer workout, and probably won't have to log the minutes of say a Kobe or a King James. He's averaging about 13 minutes a game, and about 8 points a match, but is shooting a solid percentage and looks pretty fluid mixed in with the rest of this incarnation of the Dream Team.
More than Bosh, it's going to be very interesting to see this Team USA in action. They've looked pretty good so far in all five games that I've seen, but hardly dominant. (Beating down a beleaguered team Canada hardly counts.) Defensively the team can shut other clubs down but it's on the offensive end that I've seen some concerns. At times, as was the case against the Aussies, the team relies too much on its one-on-one athleticism and the offense stagnates. With only Michael Redd as a hired gun, sometimes when the team is firing blanks, the opposition can hang around. Australia did this yesterday and at the same time, ran back-screens and cuts to the hoop that left the US in the dust. We saw Greece do this a few years ago so it's going to be very important for Coach K and co. to emphasize much better offensive execution.