Friday, October 29, 2010

Personal Favorite Ten Hip-Hop Artists

I thought about ranking a top-10 but I'm not comfortable putting any over another. Competition (on behalf of the Almighty Dollar) has ruined  music across the board, but this is especially true in hip-hop (as far as I know); for this reason I'm not putting one ahead of another.

(For the record, when I make an extreme statement using the word 'ever' or something of the like, it's in reference to hip-hop, not music in general.)

I'll also do one specifically for DC artists next.

The number one qualification of an artist is to be true to himself/herself. That's a simple fact. The complication of this is how do you define 'self'? To me, it's a reflection of the "nature vs nurture" argument; meaning it's equal parts A) one's personal position on things relative to B) the society in which they live. Additionally, I feel that an artist has a responsibility to the self and the society to question whatever power structure is relevant (meaning not just government).

Why am I stating this here? Because I don't think anyone has ever fit that bill like Pac did. Towards the end he showed that he recognized that he had gotten carried away by his romanticism of "Thug Life" and was moving towards clarifying it... that's an extraordinarily over-simplified summation of the situation that ultimately led to his assassination, but I don't feel like writing about it.

The first hip-hop song I can actually pinpoint as being the one that first made me a fan:

Admittedly I gravitated towards Snoop at first, but the seeds were planted.

Long story short, Wale is the first artist that I decided, purely on my own, was worth listening to. I started listening in 2006 and while most of the people around me echoed the "aw you only listen to him because he's from DC" nonsense (yep...), I simply responded with "if you have a problem, TURN OFF YOUR STATION." He's strayed a bit from the path he laid for himself in the first few years (of my fanhood), but not so far that it really matters. He'll get there. He's a beast lyrically, and when he works with the producers that actually know him (Best Kept Secret, for one) he has a truly great and unique sound.

Also, NOBODY HAS BETTER SPORTS REFERENCES. I dare you to prove otherwise. I swear I'll finish cataloging those soon ha.

I went through an embarrassing G-Unit phase and Cam'ron was there to pull me out. I've never been to Harlem (which could possibly change sometime in the next 3 months) but from everything I know, Cam fits that "nature vs nurture" bill to the T; he IS Harlem. Contrary to what too many like to believe, he's also one of the most creative lyricists I know of, and he's fucking hilarious to boot. I just wish he'd tap into his inner artist a bit more, rather than always being that hustler-first. But that wouldn't be him, so can't really complain.

After Wale, these guys are unquestionably the first artist/group that I've "discovered" on my own. Truly inspiring work. Just listen to the music. If it's not immediately apparent, you're just not a hip-hop fan. Simple as that. One of my favorite verses ever is by Will Spitwell on 'Do You' (second verse).

"Live.. from the center of the Earth.. seven light-years below sea level we go.. welcome to Stankonia.. the place from which all funky thangs come."

Honestly, their popularity is quite astounding to me. So is the wide recognition that Andre 3000 is better than Big Boi. Sometimes I think it's because people don't truly get it, but they're ultimately refreshing pieces of knowledge.

In the competition-driven industry of the last 20 years, by my criteria, Nas is Jordan. He has crazy mastery of the English language (and everything in lyricism that comes with it), real subject matter that relates both to the streets he comes from and the overall society in which he lives, and a desire to better the world with his art. Many argue that that desire is too strong and personally I sometimes find myself on the fence about it, but I definitely lean towards his side. Ultimately, that's needed.

Lupe Fiasco
If Nas is Jordan, Lupe is Kobe. I need to finish my Kanye West:Vince Carter write-up, and next on my list will be Nas/Lupe:Jordan/Kobe. I promise I'll get these all finished up soon.

Bobby Ray
Enough of BoB. It's boring. But not only is it boring, it's an obvious (not necessarily direct, though) compromise to his music for the Atlantic Slave Trade Organization, er, Atlantic Records. Just go to his BoB vs Bobby Ray mixtape and listen to the 2nd half, then you tell me if most of that album is who he really is.

THIS is BoB, or Bobby Ray, or whoever he is, from long before he had an album out:


Just look at that cover art. They might be too much for some, I dunno, but the music is as beautiful as it is awe-inspiring. Listen:

This is sort of a recent revelation, but Curren$y is the man leading the independent charge. Just watch this video, and remember, that he was signed to "Young Money" or whatever the fuck they called themselves then, and told 'em to fuck off. RESPECT FOR THAT.

What officially put him over the top for me? Of course, sports references. They're not nearly as prevalent in his lyrics as Wale, but his might be even more arbitrary (Yancey Thigpen!)

Big K.R.I.T.
I only wanted to do ten but I had to add in one more. For one, to show how much of a rolling list this is. But more importantly - and I realize the gravity of this statement - K.R.I.T. is as close to 2Pac as there's been since his murder, this close to the mainstream ear. He's also going the independent route (for now, at least...) and he's currently touring with Curren$y. K.R.I.T. stands for King Remembered In Time, which is cool... again, just listen to the music. It speaks for itself far better than I ever could, obviously.

Just found this one, too:

Wiz Khalifa
Again, to show how the list is a rolling one; he was where KRIT is now. Going with my basketball/hip-hop theme, I had Wiz labeled as Durant after releasing his great project, Kush and Orange Juice. Since then he joined Atlantic and put out a single (entitled 'Black and Gold') that is extremely disappointing not only because it's so commercially bland, but for a song that references Pittsburgh in the title, you can't actually find anything about the city in the song. After Kush and OJ came out I said it was great but I hoped he didn't plateau, and it's looking dangerously as if that's indeed the case. Instead of Kevin Durant (I'm hoping this'll be KRIT) I'm now calling him Tyreke Evans, which was a better fit all along anyway (and another write-up for the future).

There are so many other names I'd wanna mention, but that's a decent list. I'm about to give myself a history lesson anyway and listen to nothing but pre-turn-of-the-century stuff, a breather from the smog that is mainstream music is desperately needed.

Best Dunks of the 2009-2010 NBA Season

Soooooooo what has now officially become a yearly right of passage for the start of the NBA season has prompted me to finally do this. Just videos (hyperlinked for Facebook purposes) and a brief description. IT AIN'T A SEASON UNTIL PAUL MILLSAP GETS POSTERIZED!!!

LAWD'AV MERCY. But in my opinion this wasn't quite as good as last year's...

Paul Millsap would be a great QB. You know how people always say a great QB doesn't think about his past interceptions? Well Paul here went on to have a good enough season to convince the Jazz to let Carlos Boozer walk after getting baptized here.

THAT'S HOW YOU FUCKIN' DO IT! My personal favorite. First we get to see LeBron get stuffed by Jermaine O'Neal (aged 31 going on 91), then Varejao get destroyed doing what he loves most: attempting to take a charge. Add Wade's stepover and subsequent proclamation on how things are done... classic.

I saw this lived and kept rewinding the DVR for a good half hour. I was the biggest Ty Lawson supporter I knew and I never saw this one coming.

But of course, the coup de grĂ¢ce:

The title and description are hilarious. Equally as hilarious is this "interview" Jared Dudley conducted after the game:

"When J-Rich first tossed me the ball, my first thought was, 'I hope he jumps.' ... Once I caught it, I sized him up - he jumped - and, uhhh, just went over top of him."




Forgot about this Derrick Rose assault on Goran Dragic's soul

Friday, October 22, 2010

2010-2011 NBA Preview - Bill Simmons Syndrome

Fuck Bill Simmons.

I like the (concept of the) trade machine, though. I just don't think anything I plug into it is anything more than the work of a hyperactive mind. So without further ado here's the first ridiculous trade of the year, a whopping 7-teamer that is SURE TO HAPPEN between the Washington Bullets, Orlando Magics, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, Denver Nuggets, Charlotte Bobcats and Utah Jazz. BOOM.

(Note that I can't actually use the trade machine for this gem of a deal.)


Bullets get: Vince Carter
Magics get: Gilbert Arenas, Andre Iguodala
76ers get: Brandon Bass, JR Smith, Troy Murphy, Kris Humphries
Nets get: Jameer Nelson, Carmelo Anthony, Elton Brand
Nuggets get: Derrick Favors, Andre Kirilenko
Bobcats get: Devin Harris, Quinton Ross
Jazz get: Boris Diaw

(And the monies pretty much work out. Hence the inclusion of Kris Humphries and Quinton Ross)


Seems like getting rid of Gil has to be done, as much as it pains me to say it. I('d) wish him all the best - and Orlando would be perfect, especially in this scenario. Buy out Wince and go about your business, 'cause I don't see how he'd be any better inside that locker room than Gil (supposedly) is.

First off, Bass is wasting valuable time in the depths of Orlando's bizarre offense, so he has to be traded somehow. I want to see the Gil/Larry Hughes backcourt recreated and Gil/Iggy would effectively do that. No brainer for Orlando.

Iggy and Evan Turner won't mesh well. It sounds cliche by now but I've been saying it since day one. And in this scenario, they get rid of Elton Brand's nightmare of a deal, and get back a bunch of expiring contracts. Plus, Bass gives 'em a lot of what they wanted out of Brand anyway, only he's younger/more fit to play on the run. Find a couple first rounders (which I'm not including in this deal) and this can work.

Melo and Jameer? Yea, I think that's worth taking on Brand's deal. And who knows, maybe he can resuscitate his career somewhat. He'd be a great fit.

Here, not only do they get what they originally would've got under that four-team deal, but they also move the $6 million owed to JR Smith (something they're looking to do). It's not the greatest, but it's not too bad, either (with the picks that, again, I'm not including).

As I said previously, I love Devin Harris in Charlotte. They need a scorer with Stephen Jackson getting old.


I have no idea why I just wrote this PLEASE START THE SEASON NOW

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

2010-2011 NBA Preview - Reasons To Get League Pass

Adam Morrison asserts his will on the defensive 
end against the Cavs' Christian Eyenga.

So I got mine today, and before jumping in to the real previews I'll give reasons to get NBALP. I should get a commission for the +/- 1 person who this sways.

Atlanta Hawks - Josh Smith. Joe Johnson. This team is really kinda boring. GET A POINT GUARD. Jamal and Jordan Crawford on the same team could get crazy.

Boston Celtics - Rajon Rondo is obvious, he's borderline can't miss. But with Shaq and Nate Robinson, this team looks like it's gonna have some fun. Who knows, maybe a last hurrah for all these old guys.

Charlotte Bobcats - Gerald Wallace is about as anti-hipster as it gets when it comes to league all-stars. And it's awesome.

Chicago Bulls - Even with the additions, Chicago is gonna surprise people. Derrick Rose is worth the price of admission, alone.

Cleveland Cavaliers - JJ Hickson is in for a big year. Maybe.

Dallas Mavericks - Dirk is a marvel to watch, this is obvious. Roddy Buckets was BY FAR the most underutilized player in the league last year. JJ Barea? Really? Hopefully that changes.

Denver Nuggets - It's still the same Denver squad. So what if Chris Anderson (returning 12/1) and Kenyon Martin (1/1) are out. Al Harrington to the rescue! Ty Lawson is a beast.

Detroit Pistons - Uhhh... I'm looking forward to watching Greg Monroe develop.

Houston Rockets - Yao Ming is back. I hope Patrick Patterson gets a shot to play.

Golden State Warriors - Now they have a coach, and a 20-10 big man to help down low. Stephen Curry looks like Steve Nash 2.0 with some defensive grit. Definitely gonna be fun to watch.

Indiana Pacers - Danny Granger operating with a real point guard in Darren Collison and a developing center in Roy Hibbert (don't laugh). Should be interesting.

Los Angeles Clippers - Blake Griffin has looked like an ANIMAL... in preseason. This team has a bunch of pieces, so it'll be very interesting to see how it all blows up. Or they'll play to their potential and be very exciting.

Los Angeles Lakers - Who wouldn't want to watch the best team in the NBA?

Memphis Grizzlies - Rudy Gay motivated to prove he's worthy of max money he got, OJ Mayo eager to get that max money, up-and-coming Marc Gasol, ZACH RANDOLPH... Memphis has it all.

Miami Heat - ...................

Milwaukee Bucks - They reloaded, resigning John Salmons AND acquiring Corey Maggette (who I'll be watching to see if he was the steal of the offseason or not). Oh, and that Brandon Jennings kid.

Minnesota Timberwolves - Michael Beasley, I guess? I do hope he gets a shot to put up inconsequential all star numbers up there.

New Jersey Nets - 'Melo would've put 'em up there. Still, Terrence Williams is explosive, Devin Harris is healthy, Brook Lopez is Brook Lopez... maybe Derrick Favors will play some, too.

New Orleans Hornets - Chris Paul.

New York Knicks - It's Mike 'Antoni with a much better point guard in Rey Felton (even if he ain't ideal) and he's reunited with Amar'e Stoudemire. Even if Stoudemire can't create plays for anyone but himself, having guys like Danilo Gallinari move down the list of primary scorers will only help.

Oklahoma City Thunder - Do I really need to say anything?

Orlando Magic - Dwight Howard spent a week working with Hakeem. Hope it worked.

Philadelphia 76ers - Doug Collins said Jrue Holiday would be a top 5 point guard this year. I don't really know what to say to that, but the young guard did impress at the end of last year.

Phoenix Suns - Maybe the only other team where Hedo Turkoglu could actually do some damage. I want to see how Josh Childress looks after his stint overseas. And Steve Nash is always Nashtastic. (Sorry, ha)

Portland Trail Blazers - MAYBE THIS IS ODEN'S YEAR! Or maybe you'll have to settle for Nicholas Batum and maybe Jerryd Bayless (finally) getting even more minutes, which isn't a bad consolation prize.

Sacramento Kings - Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins. Easy. Dunno if they'll win any games, but definitely a nice draw.

San Antonio Spurs - A healthy Manu, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Brazillian rookie Tiago Splitter make for an interesting lineup. Celtics of the West, in that they're an old team that just may have found a second wind. Also ALONZO GEE.

Toronto Raptors - DeMar DeRozan is gonna turn some heads this year, watch.

Utah Jazz - For all his talents, I HATE seeing Carlos Boozer on the screen, with his Etan Thomas-like faux-energy. Now Al Jefferson takes his place as the primary post-scorer, and if you remember back a couple years (I do so trust me), Jefferson's post game was called "the best in the league." Deron Williams is pretty good, too.

Washington Bullets - Yi Jianlian has looked very impressive in his time in DC. Filling in due to injury, Nick Young played extremely well, scoring as many as 24 points in games. JaVale McGee was a borderline Team USA finalist. And Andray Blatche is looking to show that his numbers post-Jamison were no fluke. Oh, and there's that rookie and that veteran guard... what were their names? Ah, yes: Trevor Booker and Cartier Martin. Should be a blast.

Of course, the real draw in DC is ADAM MORRISON.

Concussions in America's Pastime

I'll be brief. If I'm not mistaken, last night's Titans-Jaguars game had higher TV ratings than Cliff Lee's soon-to-be legendary decimation of the Yankees. What does that mean? It means that the "baseball is America's pastime" idea is more ridiculous than the term "student-athlete." Football is America's pastime and if you really think about it, this country identifies with the NFL almost in its entirety, from the gross misappropriation of funds (rookie contracts) to the military-style regimental nature of the sport itself. (Not to mention "America's Team" the Dallas Cowboys bottoming out at the hands of an oil tycoon...)

Anyway, the topic of concussions has come up, after this beautiful hit by Dunta Robinson on DeSean Jackson:

I just don't see why Robinson was penalized. Was it a terrifying hit? Absolutely. Was it extremely dangerous? Damn right it was, especially for Robinson to be leading with his crown like that. But was it malicious? Considering it was DeSean Jackson it very well could have been, but unless you can read minds there's no evidence on the tape supporting that. Plus, Jackson is 175 pounds, of course he's gonna get demolished when another NFL player is able to connect with him like Dunta did. When I play basketball and what would've generally been a no-call on most sends me to the ground, I get back up and continue playing. If you enter the field of play with grown men, YOU ACCEPT THE CONSEQUENCES. If your weight automatically puts you at physical risk, that's on you. Nobody forces me to play basketball, and nobody forces DeSean Jackson to play football.

BOTTOM LINE: This is the nature of the beast. If you can't handle seeing a play like this, pick a new sport to watch. Injuries are a part of physical exertion. The whole point of these sports is to push the limits of the body. You can't toe a metaphorical line, especially not in this arena. In order to find out where that line is, it has to be crossed. That's what sports are. Especially contact sports.

(To be clear, James Harrison deserves to be fined and deserves to be suspended. He has a history of dirty hits, and I have no problem punishing him. And he's a rat. I don't know how Robinson can be penalized instantly but Harrison gets a free pass, TWICE. Oh, right... nevermind...)

Here's my issue: The NFL's decision to levy fines and suspensions as a deterrent to these types of hits is not only counterintuitive to the sport itself, but it's actually dangerous to the players as well. People are drawn to football for one reason: hitting. You can conjure up rationalizations about strategy and skill, but without the pads you're playing and watching ultimate frisbee. Which means you're NOT playing or watching ultimate frisbee because ultimate firsbee is for tree-huggers. We've seen how the quality of basketball has dipped (significantly) as the NBA has implemented rules to effectively criminalize defense, and we're talking about a game who's essence is putting the ball in the basket; scoring points. Now we're moving towards disallowing hitting in football?

These measures will make players much more tentative on the field. Not only will this make defenses less effective, but it will create MORE INJURIES. You see it all the time; once an athlete is unsure of his movements on the field that is the precise instant he shreds his knee. All this is doing is implementing a theoretical quick fix that will ultimately serve to exacerbate the problem at hand. America's pastime, indeed.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

2010-2011 NBA Preview - MAX PLAYERS

There aren't too many. I'll list the ones who are there, and then the ones who are just short. And I'll try not to talk about John Wall, though if I were Ted Leonsis I'd give him at least a 10% share of the entire franchise if he promised to never leave.

LeBron James
Has to be the first guy on this list. There's no single player that's easier to build a team around, and there's no single player who will bring in the type of money that 'Bron will. He comes off as a douche because his "team" is a sack of shit, but nobody seems to care so why should you?

If I had the chance to sign pick anyone on this list, I'd first go to LeBron and tell him exactly how I felt about how his career has gone. I'd tell him I want more of "The LeBrons" (which were awesome - someone's gotta explain to me why that was ended) and less of "The Decision." After he sits silently as Maverick Carter and that World Wide Wes clown jerk each other off I'd make a phone call to...

Kevin Durant
If I had my pick of the bunch I'm taking KD. He has a clearly defined role as the top scoring option, he's the perfect image for your franchise cornerstone and, most importantly, he's THE MAN. My franchise is winning titles with integrity, continuity and hard work, and Durant is the embodiment of all three.

Dwyane Wade
The arena in which Dwyane Wade is playing in a given night = WHERE AMAZING HAPPENS. The most electric superstar in the business, and a big-city swagger/off-court persona unmatched by anyone in the league. Hard to deny it.

Chris Paul
Kinda tough to put him in front of Kobe, but he's got a great (public) personality and in a league dominated by point guards, he's definitely the flashiest.

Kobe Bryant
Purely by virtue of age. He's got a few years left, but not too many. He's still as good as it gets, and you're gonna win with him without question. But if you don't put a team around him, he'll probably just retire (he's not killing himself anymore unless a ring is within his grasp).

Dwight Howard
This is where it gets tricky, because from the standpoint of playing ability, Dwight hasn't showed he's worth this. But as far as branding and such? No doubt about it.


That's it. Six players. You could make a case for a few more (which I'll do in a sec) but if you really wanna call it how it is, that's the list. As for the rest...


Deron Williams
He could prove himself worthy this year. But the Jazz MUST win on the road. MUST. Though it's really tough to justify a max deal in the 29th rated TV market in the league. I think.

Brandon Roy
Well first, he needs to be 100% healthy. But he doesn't really have the personality to warrant max dollars. The game could get there, but they're gonna have to be title contenders before doling out that kind of cash.

Steve Nash
I mean, he IS the Suns, and has been for several years now. He was within a bullshit Amar'e suspension of the NBA Finals, so it's tough to say you can't win with someone with such poor defensive ability. But still, no dice. Especially not now, at his age.

Dirk Nowitzki
Same as Nash.

Rajon Rondo
Gotta figure out how to shoot. If he somehow does, no question about it.

Carmelo Anthony
I wanted to see how he did on a team by himself (like New Jersey), because I don't think he's quite there. He might be, but he hasn't shown it. He put a huge dent in his marketability early on with the whole 'Stop Snitchin' thing, which doesn't help. But he could easily get there. One way or another, he's getting those max dollars after the season.

Derrick Rose
Let me just say that I think that by the end of the year he'll join the top six.

NFL Week 6 Bettor's Guide

With another week like this I'm finished. Won't even spend too much time on this one. Thank all that is good and holy for basketball season.

W/L: 6-7 (40-35)
ATS: 3-9 (30-42-2)
O/U: 6-7 (38-36-1)

San Diego Chargers (-8.5)
O/U 45
Gimme the Chargers. Chargers 35 Rams 17

Kansas City Chiefs
O/U 45
45 is too high considering the Texans have a solid run defense. I think Mario Williams will win 'em the game, but I'm taking the points. Chiefs 20 Texans 24

Baltimore Ravens
O/U 44.5
I must be missing something... Ravens 28 Patriots 17

New Orleans Saints (-4.5)
O/U 43.5
Drew Brees is hurt, and showing how deserving he really is of MVP consideration. I'm not really sure how to call this one. I'll go Saints 24 Tampa Bay 20

Atlanta Falcons
O/U 42.5
This'll be a fun game to watch. Really wish Vick were playing, but as of now it appears that he's not (ditto for LeSean McCoy), so... Falcons 31 Eagles 27

Detroit Lions
O/U 44.5
This is the defense everyone was expecting. Young Matt Stafford is in for a hellish day. Lions 14 Giants 35

Cleveland Browns
O/U 37.5
Ha. Nice tune up for the rapist. Not so nice welcome to the NFL for Colt McCoy. Browns 0 Steelers 37 (only to show how ugly it's gonna get ha)

Seattle Seahawks
O/U 38
Not in Seattle. Also don't think Jay Cutler had any viable brain cells to begin with so any concussion-related symptoms will be a non-factor. Seahawks 10 Bears 27

Miami Dolphins
O/U 46
Concussed Aaron Rodgers (thanks to the QB killing Redskins defense) means trouble for the Pack. Dolphins 20 Packers 17

New York Jets (-3)
O/U 41.5
Looks like Revis isn't playing and all Denver can do is throw. Knowshon returns, too. So I'm taking the over. Jets 24 Broncos 20

Oakland Raiders
O/U 42
Just bomb the bay. Frank Gore should have a huge game, though. And it was good to see Crabtree get involved last week. Raiders 16 49ers 24

Dallas Cowboys
O/U 44.5
I really wish Dez Bryant would start making plays. He's been oh-so-close every game. I almost forgot Randy Moss was on this team, so yea, gimme Minny. Cowboys 24 Vikings 28

Indianapolis Colts (-3)

O/U 44
In the 'what else is new' storyline of the league, our o-line is a mess. McNabb is good at avoiding pressure but even more likely to throw balls in the dirt than in those situations, and the run game is virtually non-existent. But I gotta ride with my 'Skins as Orakpo does his thang. By the way, Laron Landry has gotta be the most physically intimidating human being on the planet. Colts 21 Redskins 24

Tennessee Titans (-3)

O/U 45
I'm calling this one purely on the hope that Vince can power my fantasy squad to a victory this week. Titans 28 Jaguars 20

2010-2011 NBA Preview - Top 10 Point Guards

I love point guards. I do wish that the absurd trend of making the NBA as soft as possible didn't necessitate a star PG in virtually every style of NBA offense, but it still allows some talented players really shine. To be very clear, I'd rather have a slower game where defense is allowed than the joke brand of basketball the NBA is bordering on today. But I still love point guards.

I'm also gonna be called a homer including John Wall's on the list, but I don't care, and I put him lower than I wanted to. It's ok, though. You'll see. And for the record, John Wall is the #1 reason why I'm getting League Pass. And he alone will be worth every penny.

10. John Wall - I have never been more sure of a #1 pick. Ever. I guess I was sure of LeBron but because I've seen how LeBron has turned out, and because I'm much better at reading people/personalities than I was in 2003, I'm 100% convinced that Wall will absolutely tear the league to shreds. (Actually I was pretty convinced about Derrick Rose, too.) Take some Rajon Rondo and some Dwyane Wade, and sprinkle in a little Kevin Durant, and you get John Wall. The Rookie of the Year Award is his to lose to injury, as is a surefire hall of fame career.

Now pardon me while I throw salt over my shoulder, knock on wood, and do whatever the hell else I need to do to remove that colossal jinx I just placed upon him.

9. Stephen Curry - Curry is a preordained Golden Child. Best way of describing him. I have to see how he does outside of the blacktop offense Golden State ran before I put him higher than this, but he put up some absurd numbers at the end of last year.

8. Russell Westbrook - He was a huge part of the US winning the World's, and there were games in the Lakers series where he (looked like he) was the best player on a court shared with Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. He's another one of those guys on my list from the first time I saw him play at UCLA, but I don't know how effective he'd be on a team that isn't quite as stacked as the Thunder. Still, he belongs up here.

7. Chauncey Billups - The General. He's similar to Westbrook in that I doubt his production on a team that isn't quite as loaded as the Nuggets are. But Billups is as good a leader as there is in the NBA and you can't ask for much else out of your lead guard, especially when your best player wants off the team and JR Smith, Kenyon Martin (and now Al Harrington haha) are on the team. I'm also really glad that Ty Lawson gets to be his understudy. PERFECT match.

6. Brandon Jennings - Here's where the bona-fide franchise point guards begin. He was on my list as a junior in high school and he definitely hasn't disappointed. From dropping 50 to leading the BUCKS to the playoffs to already being one of the best defensive point guards in the game, there's a lot to like. Love that he's signed to Under Armour ha.

5. Rajon Rondo - If he can find any semblance of a shooter's touch the rest of the league is in serious trouble.

4. Steve Nash - I wish I could put him higher up on this list but he's a turnstile on defense. He's a wizard, though.

3. Derrick Rose - I know some people will take issue with this, but you'll see. Especially once Boozer comes back. The knock on him was a lack of a consistent perimeter shot, but he's worked tirelessly on his shooting and once he gets comfortable with his shot during the grind of the NBA season, he'll be utterly untouchable.

2. Chris Paul - I actually think CP3 is the only point guard worth a max contract (as of now) but in my opinion that doesn't translate to being the best player. But I dunno. Maybe he's 1b. He's just not a good defender, regardless of what the steals say. I guess that doesn't really matter anymore, but I'd like it to. And it's my list. And D-Will owns him head-to-head.

1. Deron Williams - The most complete point guard the league has at the moment. I think he'll be called upon as a scorer more this year which should mean a little more freelance and the ability to showcase his abilities a bit more. I wish he'd win on the road more, but I really think Al Jefferson is gonna be a huge difference for them.

2010-2011 NBA Preview - Top 10 Shooting Guards

I already know I'm gonna catch some flak for (at least) one of these guys but I don't give any type of a shit.

10. Gilbert Arenas - Yep. Hope this is right. Hope this is too low. It COULD be... it SHOULD be... *sigh*

9. Stephen Jackson - Doesn't get enough credit. He's getting up in age and I'm not sure if he actually has another 20/game season in him but I'll give him his props for now. Devin Harris would've been huge. If they really balked at giving up DJ Augustin to get Harris something's wrong.

8. Monta Ellis - Amazing talent, but if Gilbert Arenas was too much of a tweener to ever be successful with, Ellis shouldn't even be in the NBA. He's fun to watch, definitely; much better suited coming off the bench, though. We'll see how he fares on an offense with a coach who stays awake during games.

7. OJ Mayo - I really wish Memphis had taken Tyreke Evans instead of Thabeet like logic dictated. Sounds unconventional - because it is - but that's my personal ideal type of backcourt. Whatever. It doesn't seem like Mayo will be the complete offensive player he showed flashes of at the end of his USC stint, not any time soon at least. But he's one the most complete all-around 2-guards in the NBA and I think he'll make a real jump if he attacks the basket more as he's promised.

6. Manu Ginobili - Until he actually breaks down I'll give him all the credit in the world, even if he is a flopping queen.

5. Tyreke Evans - 'Reke marks the last player I'll ever second-guess myself about. Somehow, after his season at Memphis, I convinced myself that he didn't have 'it' and wouldn't cross that greatness threshold. WRONG. I remember seeing him and Lance Stephenson duel at the Elite 24 game at Rucker and came away wildly impressed with both. He ain't a point guard tho. Not unless you wanna call Dwyane Wade a point guard.

4. Joe Johnson - Why must he be satisfied with being the player he is? You can't just decide "oh, it's playoff time, I'm gonna put my team on my back" and expect to deliver. YOU CAN'T TURN GREATNESS ON AND OFF. Wouldn't be shocked if Evans (and Mayo, for that matter) overtakes him.

3. Brandon Roy - The injury thing worries me, a lot (remember, he came back earlier than advised for the playoffs), but Roy is a great player otherwise. Finishing 3rd to Wade and Kobe is pretty solid.

2. Dwyane Wade - The NBA's slogan 'Where Amazing Happens' was made specifically for Dwyane Wade. I'm convinced. This is how you fuckin' do it.:

1. Kobe Bryant - Here's the deal. If Kobe and Jordan switched shoes, Mamba would be the GOAT and Jordan would be the villainous figure of today.

I get it's not quite that simple, but it's closer than most are willing to recognize.

2010-2011 NBA Preview - Top 10 Small Forwards

The small forward position is ridiculously top heavy. Andre Iguodala is listed as a 2 but I put him here anyway 'cause his skills are better suited here. Whatever.

10. Danilo Gallinari - Told you. He's actually pretty good and is still only entering his 3rd year, in Coach 'Antoni's system no less. Wouldn't be surprised to see him average around 20/game this year.

9. Terrence Williams - I have a rolling list of personal favorites and this guy has been on it since he was a freshman at Louisville in '05-'06. He's just a player. Basically Josh Smith in a G/F body, which would actually make him a better prospect if Smoove wasn't the best shot-blocker EVER. But I have high expectations for T-Will. Very high. If only I was drafting for Minnesota, I would've had Brandon Jennings and Terrence Williams instead of Jonny Flynn and the empty promise of Ricky Rubio #WordAapp.

8. Andre Iguodala - He'd be a great #2 or #3 on a good team and probably be ranked higher than this if he were, but as the #1 on a shit 6ers squad he doesn't really shine as much as he could. He's highly skilled and if Jrue Holiday continues to progress the way he did at the end of last year Iggy could be in for a nice year.

7. Paulina Pierce - Without question my most despised player in the NBA (Damon Jones, the King of the Coattail Riders, is out of the league, right?). Which is crazy, because he used to be one of my favorites. Now I wish the guy who stabbed him had finished the job. OK, that's kinda harsh, but still, WHAT A GODDAMN CLOWN. Somehow he still has the ability to put an entire Celtics offense on his back when they need it (offensive sets-be-damned), so I'll give him a shred of credit for that.

6. Gerald Wallace - The fact that he could average 18/game with such an awful offensive repertoire is a testament to how ferocious he is. It's rarely ever pretty but he's still a marvel to watch (even if, looking back, he effectively ended Gilbert Arenas' career...).

5. Danny Granger - I still haven't seen much of him, but he always jumped out on the rare occasions I did watch the Pacers. Maybe that was because he played with Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy and Jeff Foster and Roy Hibbert (ha)... well you see where I'm going with this. He is the prototypical swingman, and having Darren Collison running the offense should put him back around the top of the scoring list.

4. Rudy Gay - Another guy who's been on my list since he was a freshman. I got to see him shine against Brandon Roy (and lose to George Mason) in the regional finals in '06 and I was convinced that he should be the #1 pick in the draft (from what I remember he was Jordan's guy, too. NOT ADAM MORRISION DEAR GOD). Anyway, I like his game a lot, and I think he'll be ready to prove that he's worth the max deal he just signed.

3. Carmelo Anthony - How can a player be both overrated and underrated? I don't really know (actually I don't really care to analyze) but that's 'Melo in a nutshell. He is as close to a max player as someone can ever get without actually being worth a max deal. He's the most versatile scorer in the league, he became a CONSISTENT rebounder last year (he's a beast on the offensive glass), and he can shut anyone down when he wants to. Operative phrase, unfortunately.

2. Kevin Durant - THE EPITOME OF THE TERM 'FRANCHISE PLAYER.' If ever there was a messianic figure in these dark NBA days, THIS IS IT. I'm not even kidding. Also this. Ha.

1. LeBron James - The most revolutionary talent in the (recent) history of sports other than Mike Vick. I hope he figures it out. If he continues on the path he's on he could break every single statistical record and win 10 championships and still be the most disappointing player of all time.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

2010-2011 NBA Preview - Top 10 Power Forwards

Most notable about this list is the absence of Kevin Garnett. I just don't see how he fits any more. He's a great player, and extremely valuable to the Celtics, but that's irrelevant here. He just isn't as good as the ten listed. I also left Al Horford off this list, but here's another mention because he's better than some of these guys.

This list also makes it very apparent how little defense is valued in today's NBA. I'm not sure what Stern and 'em are doing up in their ivory tower but it's slowly killing the game.

10. David West - See what I mean? West is a good player, and his numbers will go up with a healthy Chris Paul (as anyone's would). He can still go off for 40 on some nights. Next.

9. Kevin Love - OUTLET PASSING. I'll never let that go. He's impressed me, though, I didn't think he'd be a nightly double-double but he's just about there. Jefferson leaving means he's pretty much the man for them now. That's not a role he's suited for, but the T'wolves aren't going anywhere anyway.

8. David Lee - So now we get to see how much of his numbers were inflated by Mike 'Antoni's system. I actually think he'll be fine. Not worth a max deal (this is why it's hard for me to fully get behind the players in this labor issue - and you already know I want to), but hey, 20 and 10 players don't grow on trees.

7. Zach Randolph - Conditioning and shot selection. Not exactly things you'd expect to see on a list of ZeBo's strengths. And yet, there they are (at least last year). Crazy, I know. He was the most important part of Memphis' turnaround last year.

6. Josh Smith - I wouldn't have put him on this list before last year, just because you really couldn't call him a power forward. But he developed a very nice post game last year (and stopped jacking up jumpers), and became quite the player. He can't be in the top 5, but if it was based on listed position and talent alone, he would be.

5. Carlos Boozer - I hate this guy. A lot. He's a clown. But he IS a great player (when healthy). He's good for 20 and 10 and he's one of the best passing bigs in the league.

4. Chris Bosh - Meh. By virtue of his numbers on a team where he was virtually all alone he's up here. Don't get me wrong, he's a great player, but he didn't deserve a max deal either. None of these guys do, really. Except, maybe, for...

3. Amar'e Stoudemire - I'm looking forward to seeing how he does without Nash. My guess, he puts up the best numbers of his career. And the Knicks will miss the playoffs, because you can't win with a star in possession of the tunnel vision that STAT has (1.0 assists last year... UNACCEPTABLE).

2. Dirk Nowitzki - It's wrong that the second best "power" forward doesn't know how to play defense or rebound all that well. But he's an impossible matchup and really a thing of beauty to watch when he's on point. I really wish he had gone to Phoenix, but what can you do.

1. Pau Gasol - Speaking of "power" forwards... Pau is a great player, should be a hall of famer when he's finished. Not gonna bad mouth him here.

Oh, and hey, watch this. Ha.

2010-2011 NBA Preview - Top 10 Centers

Soooo... NBA is back. Preseason is here. I like basketball.


I'm leaving Yao off the list because I just need to see him play first. Also leaving Al Horford off this list because, at 6'9", he really isn't a center. And I don't like him.

10. DeMarcus Cousins - Samuel Dalembert is missing the first month of the season so Cousins will get his shot to play early. The fact that a rookie can crack the top-10 doesn't say too much about the depth of the position, and the fact that he could easily finish top-5 says even less. But it also says a lot about Cousins, who is a BEAST. He'll definitely have his struggles, but at the end of the season he'll be right up there with John Wall as two of the best rookies in the business. 

9. Chris Kaman - Kaman actually stayed healthy last year and had a pretty good year putting up 18.5 points and 9.3 rebounds. Honestly I haven't seen him play much so I won't say much, but I've liked what I've seen, especially as a passer.

8. Nene - I've caught shit for it before but I think Nene is the most skilled center in the league. He'd be much more highly valued if he had a bigger role on his team. Then again, maybe he wouldn't handle it well. I don't know. But he's a solid rebounder, good defender, great passer, good finisher around the basket, he can put the ball on the floor and has great footwork... he really doesn't have any weaknesses. He always comes up with big plays when the Nuggets need 'em. But alas, 14 and 7 won't really warrant anything higher than #8.

7. Joakim Noah - I'd like to put him higher but his offensive game is ugly. Really ugly. It's more effective than it appears, but it's still not good at all (tho he's a very good passer). But he's a great rebounder and defender, and his energy is as contagious as anyone's on this list which is why he's this high.

6. Brook Lopez - 19 points, 9 rebounds, almost 2 blocks and 2.3 assists, 50% from the field and 80% from the line. That was on an AWFUL Nets team with no point guard. Devin Harris is healthy, Terrence Williams is a year better, Anthony Morrow and Troy Murphy spreading the floor... look for a nice year from Lopez.

5. Marc Gasol - Weird, right? Young Gasol is a much tougher version of his all-star brother. He doesn't have the shooting touch Pau does, but he's a better rebounder, stronger defender and he's a similarly proficient passer. Hope Memphis can afford to pay him and Mayo after that deal they gave Rudy Gay. (Ha when they can't pay OJ he can always come to DC when Gil inevitably leaves.)

4. Tim Duncan - Enough of the power forward thing, he's a center, end of story (I also didn't wanna add another center to the list). Write down 18, 10 and 3, and with Brazilian rookie Tiago Splitter finally hitting the league who knows how much better Duncan's numbers could look.

3. Andrew Bogut - The Aussie really stepped it up in the shot-blocking department last year, averaging nearly 3 blocks/game after January 1. Supposedly he won't be 100% healthy all season which probably makes this ranking a little too high, but he earned it when he was playing last season.

2. Al Jefferson - Liberated from the Minnesota ice cap, expect a return to the 23 and 11 he put up in 2008-09. He's a lot better than Carlos Boozer, who routinely put up 19 and 10. I dunno if it's fair to list him at center, but he's listed as Utah's starter (with Paul Milsap finally starting at the 4). Should be an interesting year in Utah.

1. Dwight Howard - He's been working with The Dream so as to improve on his nightmarish post skills. Apparently he has the moves, the issue is confidence. Always nice to have your franchise player who's unsure of himself with the ball in his hands. He's still the best center in the NBA though.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

NFL Week 5 Bettor's Guide

Been a crazy week so due to constraints (time and other) I'll do this quickly, before last week's review. Last week was bad. Again.

W/L: 9-5 (34-28)
ATS: 6-8 (27-33-2)
O/U: 7-7 (32-29-1)

(+270) Denver Broncos
O/U 38.5
I'm not sure what to make of these Broncos but traveling east to Baltimore's top rated pass defense should bring 'em back to earth, though 7 points seems like a sucker bet to me. Broncos 16 Ravens 20

(-110) Jacksonville Jaguars
O/U 41
CJ Spiller. Jaguars 24 Bills 28

(+265) Kansas City Chiefs
O/U 45
Matt Cassel scares the shit outta me against Freeney and Mathis, but to my surprise he's been sacked fewer times than any QB not named Romo (thanks to roughly 324 holds on Brian Orakpo). Still like Indy, and they'll probably cover, but I'm taking the points anyway against that run defense. Chiefs 24 Colts 30

(+135) St. Louis Rams
(-155) DETROIT LIONS (-3)
O/U 42.5
Interesting game, I like the Lions at home. Rams 17 Lions 24

(-160) Atlanta Falcons (-3)
O/U 41.5
Peyton Hillis is hurt. Is that really an issue? Falcons 27 Browns 17

(+245) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
O/U 38
Tampa keeps winning on the road but they can't stop the run and Cedric Benson is legit. Buccaneers 13 Bengals 27

(EVEN) Chicago Bears
O/U 33
Well it ain't goin over, not without Cutler playing (TODD COLLINS MIX with the start haha DEAR GOD). I can't imagine a more pathetic QB showdown. You know what, I refuse to pick this game since I'll be forced to get this trash instead of Skins-Packers (which I'm only now realizing FUCK). SUE ME.

(-135) Green Bay Packers (-2.5)

(O/U 44
Brian Orakpo finally has a game where he doesn't get held 90% of the time he's on the field. I hope. WELCOME TO THE NFL RYAN TORAIN. Packers 27 Redskins 31

(+135) New York Football Giants
(-155) HOUSTON TEXANS (-3)
O/U 47.5
Should definitely go over. I guess I'll take Houston but I really don't know. Giants 24 Texans 28

(-280) San Diego Chargers (-6.5)
O/U 45
McFadden is likely out and both Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews ran well last week; Oakland can't stop the run. I didn't even mention Phil Rivers. Chargers 34 Raiders 17

(+255) Tennessee Titans
(-310) DALLAS COWBOYS (-7)
O/U 41.5
I can't see this not going over. Dez Bryant is healthy (hopefully a factor - for me, anyway) and Chris Johnson is due for a big game. Titans 20 Cowboys 28

(-290) New Orleans Saints (-7)
O/U 44.5
Seven? Brees is hurt and I've made the Brees/Nash comparisons on several occasions (both obscenely indispensable, given their respective offensive systems). But 'Zona is shit. But they'll run the ball and they are at home... nah. Saints 34 Cardinals 16

(+155) Philadelphia Eagles
(-175) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (-3.5)
O/U 38
Kevin Kolb. I hope I'm wrong since I have to start him. Eagles 16 49ers 24

(+162) Minnesota Vikings
(-185) NEW YORK JETS (-4)
O/U 39
I think Moss (and him being in a new system) against Revis (and his hammy) will be the difference. I want Moss to win that matchup ('cause Revis needs to watch his damn mouth) but I hate Favre. Shucks. Vikings 14 Jets 17

Friday, October 1, 2010

LeBron and Race

If anything, THIS is racist.

I'm not gonna say much because JA Adande, Jason Whitlock, and of course Bethlehem Shoals covered pretty much all of what I'd say (Adande had the best direct approach, Whitlock probably went a bit over the top ha, Shoals looking outside the set box). There are a couple things I just want to touch on in writing. First, about the point Shoals brings up about separating The Decision from the actual decision.

I'm going on record saying that the decision was the only one that was really available. Cleveland sucks, in every conceivable way, and LBJ would've been justified in saying just that. So I fully support him going to Miami with a top-3 and top-20 player. I'm all for players dictating the league, because I AM A FAN OF THE PLAYERS. Anything that takes power away from The Money, I jump een eet. If you have a problem, turn off your station.

(Interesting note, if the NBA institutes a hard cap, Bosh is probably out the door. Sucks for him ha.)

The biggest thing I hate about LeBron's decision is that playing NBA 2K11 against bad players is gonna suck because that team will be next-to-unstoppable. Bullshit.

The Decision was fucking stupid, obviously, and represents everything that is wrong with LeBron and the for-profit NBA (which bred LeBron). But I don't watch ESPN and only go to the website if I'm directed to a specific article, and as you can plainly see my knowledge of the goings-on of the sporting world is hardly lacking. So if you have an issue with the endless media coverage, there's a solution for you: STOP WATCHING. Word of mouth via blogs and social networking (of ALL kinds) is all you need. If you miss a story, odds are someone else didn't and will catch you up. Simple. Additionally, by pledging your undying support to ESPN you give them a blank check to run whatever bullshit they feel like running.

(I'm not saying necessarily cut ESPN out entirely. For many sports fans this is impossible, because there's not enough time in the day to catch everything that goes on. But ESPN is the devil, and far from the only source of sports-related news. I'm sensing a parallel here, too...)

Anyway... I didn't see the interview itself but from what I understand, LeBron said simply that race is always an issue. His shitbrained "team" seems to be the source of all these missteps (this Maverick Carter character is apparently the one who unequivocally stated that race was a significant factor in the public's reaction, which really is an offensive notion on several levels). Long story short, money corrupts the sanctity of everything. How many of these assholes are around if 'Bron hadn't been a ready-made cash cow since birth?

I want to say that I do feel bad for LBJ in this sense, because there probably isn't a single person in his life for any other reason than money. Including his mother. That is inhuman.

(By the way, it's this type of media attention that makes these athletes afraid to speak up on real issues, on which they (obviously) do present a unique perspective.)

I think that pretty much covers everything. In summation, fuck LeBron, fuck mass media, and fuck the needless pursuit of extreme excess. And if you don't agree with that, well, fuck you, too.


This would almost be funny if 'Bron had played the cards properly...