Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A really cool link

I think this site will become even better as we get closer, so I'm linking to it for the sake of any readers who care about basketball (that's Ek and J-Lew, I think). I found this link on TrueHoop. Henry Abbott really is an amazing blogger.

I read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution a lot these days

Okay, I really do read the AJC most days. Specifically, I check the Braves blog on the online version. It's a great place to catch up on my only non-west coast team. But today I was reading Sekou Smith's response to some of the trade scenarios that have been thrown around. I actually don't like many of them, and I think they're all pretty unlikely. Smith says about the same. The reason I'm mentioning it here is because of this paragraph that gets me really excited. In fact, it's the main reason I still lean heavily towards Oden over Durant.
The only team worth talking to about a possible trade is Portland. And since we all know they don’t plan on giving up the No. 1 pick in this draft, those conversations would be brief (I love LaMarcus Aldridge and I’d take he and Jarrett Jack in a heartbeat for the No. 3. But do you really think the Blazers would trade this kid, a 7-footer with an impressivhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gife face-up game and a high ceiling, with an opportunity to pair he and Greg Oden together like the New Millennium version of Duncan and Robinson? What are you crazy?) and probably end with laughter on both ends of the line.
That's the exact thing I've been thinking, and it's just too good an idea to pass up. The rest of Smith's post is actually really good in general about how to build a good basketball team. I think his description fits almost exactly what Kevin Pritchard and Portland did last year.

Here's one more trade scenario that's out there, and I still think some from of this is more likely than partnering with Atlanta in any way (thanks to a comment J-Lew left on this blog a while ago). This goes back to the idea that the Bulls need a legitimate low-post scorer. I don't know if I want to trade Randolph, but Chicago seems like the location that would work best (with Washington a close second). That being said, I'm happy that Kevin Pritchard is doing this.

Monday, May 28, 2007

There goes the neighborhood

Three of the men in my family drove off this morning. My dad was driving his truck, his dog Morty in the cab with him. My brother was in the fifth wheel being pulled by my dad, his cat in the bedroom with him. My grandpa was in the U-Haul, his dog in the cab with him. They were heading north and then east, to my parents' new home in Arlington, Oregon--"the booming metropolis of Arlington," as my dad always calls it. My grandma had left about an hour earlier, and my mom won't be leaving until Friday of this week. As two dogs and a cat pulled out of the driveway with three other Carlton men I felt my stomach clench up. I've moved out of my parents' house quite a few times. In 2000 when I left for Wheaton College I felt as though I was moving out. Each summer after that it still felt a bit like moving out. When I packed up my stuff and drove to Phoenix, well, that was moving out. When I left to start school at Fuller Theological Seminary, that was also moving out. Even last summer, when I packed up to drive the hour north to Eugene to start at the University of Oregon, I was moving out. But for every time I've moved out of that house I've moved back in. Every time until today. And even though I've moved out about once a year since 2000, my mom and dad had never moved out of our house. Until today.

I know that change is what happens in life. I also know my tendency to get sentimental and my distaste for that sentimentality. But I think I'm on the cusp of turning weepy at the slightest provocation. I know that the stress of finishing my program, trying to solidify my job for next year, getting ready to take a big certification test, and figuring out what I'm teaching for the next few weeks could be contributing to my emotional imbalance. But I think I am legitimately sad about moving out of our house. We moved in about ten years ago, which means I lived in that house longer than any other in my life. And even when I was moving in and out, it was still home base. I'm excited for my parents, and I'm moving to Los Angeles anyway, but there's still something really sad about leaving a place that has been very much my home for the last ten years.

In an odd--and forced--way it resembles this summer for the Blazers and for us as fans. About ten years Bob Whitsitt decided to begin making his mark on the Blazers. The problems didn't start right away, but it was kind of like moving into a weird neighborhood. Actually, it was more like having your neighborhood change in front of you. Some of the people you knew well stuck around, while others moved away. The new neighbors were okay, but they didn't fit the neighborhood's personality. All of the sudden houses are being remodeled, big fences are going up, and people are competing to see who can have the nicest car in the driveway. It's still a decent place to live, but something has changed a lot. Even after Whitsitt resigned in 2003, the neighborhood still felt weird. It was like the new guys wanted to just force people out of the neighborhood instead of turning the neighborhood into the kind that would draw our kind of crowd. Last year was the year in which the right crowd started making their impact, and I don't think Pritchard's role with the team is coincidental to that. His emphasis on building a "culture" is exactly what was needed to rebuild the neighborhood.

Now there's a chance to solidify the neighborhood. I still don't know if we should draft Oden or Durant. Both guys seem like they'd be the type of neighbors I'd want near me. But I do know that the possibility of being good soon can't be allowed to push our culture out the window.

Hopefully my brother doesn't push the cat out the window. It's unlikely, since he really likes that cat, but she was screaming at him as soon as they pulled out. The cat doesn't like moving, and it's never lived anywhere but in our old house. My brother knew he'd need to ride back there to keep her calm, but he realized a few miles into the trip that it wasn't going to be tough. He called to tell me he was going to build a barricade in front of the door. Sometimes it takes doing things like that, because people are afraid to change everything even if what is new is better. I'm not saying that's the case with this move, but that is the case with the Blazers. Either way, June 28 will mark the beginning of a new and exciting era in Portland basketball. It's pretty scary right now, even though it doesn't seem like we can go wrong. Hopefully Pritchard continues to show himself as the best young GM in sports, and helps our neighborhood grow as he keeps the culture the same. We can celebrate with a block party like the one they had in Portland 30 years ago.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

In review

I was just looking at a few of my old posts about the Blazers, and I found a few things interesting. One interesting thing was that I was really focused on adding Oden to this team early in the season. I actually posted a starting lineup in picture form at one point. Looking back at that, all the picture links are still good but one: Zach Randolph. Maybe I should replace that picture with Lamarcus. I should also replace the picture of Martell with somebody else. I'm not sure who, but probably not him. Travis Outlaw, maybe? Rashard Lewis, maybe? After the lottery, all the sudden the idea of picking up Lewis seems much better to me. Much better.

NBA draft lottery running diary.

5:33 PM I’m here live at my friend Josh’s house on the hill. I showed up a little late after working hard to find a venue and then driving like mad up the hill that overlooks Roseburg. I spent most of the day playing the draft lottery game at school, when I wasn’t teaching (of course). I’m really nervous right now. I started carrying my keys on the Trail Blazers lanyard I got during the 2005-2006 season a few days ago, and I’m wearing my Zach Randolph jersey over the Jordan T-shirt I was given to wear while I made my blindfolded free throw during that same game in 2005. I don’t believe that objects affect luck, and I’m not sure if these objects would do the trick even if I did believe that. Still, I’m doing everything I can think to do.

5:39 PM David Stern is explaining the suspensions and reason for the rule that led to the suspension. Well done by the Godfather. Now he gets to gush about how well his new age-limit rule has worked. Let’s all give David Stern a round of applause. Wait, I can’t hear my clapping over Stern’s self-congratulating.

5:41 PM I just got sick to my stomach when they showed the envelopes as we went to commercial. Ugh. This is driving me crazy. Coming into the draft I didn’t think I cared if we got one of the top two picks. I was confident in the young talent already assembled and the young GM doing the assembling. I still am, but now I’m jittery again about the possibility of having someone like Oden or Durant on our team. Wait, not just someone like them, one of those actual two players. And then there’s the insane idea that somehow we could give up everyone but Rodriguez, Roy, and Aldridge to get those two guys.

5:45 PM They’re announcing the representatives for each team right now. I can’t wait until we get to Brandon Roy, but first the host has to chat with Larry Bird. They just showed a Maloof, and surprisingly he didn’t have a mixed drink with him. Here it is, Brandon Roy and Randy Foye were just announced. They’re talking about what it would have been like to be on the other team. LAME. Roy answered it well, though. Dominique Wilkins is here too, and I feel for J-Lew as the Hawks could get two picks, or perhaps none.

5:48 PM I’m going to throw up. Adam Silver is announcing each pick now.
14 – Clippers
13 – Hornets
12 – 76ers
(so far everything is good)
11 – Pacers
10 – Kings
9 – Bulls
8 – Bobcats
7 – Timberwolves
6 – Bucks
5 – Celtics
( I can’t type right now…I’m so nervous)
4 – Grizzlies
(I’m really happy for J-Lew, but I really can’t type very well. I’m that nervous. Holy crap, this is ridiculous. I’m done typing in all caps, but wow. I am so tense.)

5:54 PM Oh geez, this is absolutely ridiculous. Number three goes to ATLANTA…HAHAHAHAHAHA. This is crazy. We just got the first pick in the draft. This is unbelievable. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.


Brandon is doing a great job of doing this interview. Wow. What a huge relief. This is really amazing.

Sports Guy, school, and the lottery

It's lunch right now at school, and I'm so excited for the draft lottery that I had to write a quick post.

The Sports Guy wrote about basketball karma today, and I think membership in the cult of Boston effected this article in every way. I think that my membership in a similar group of Blazer fans biases me. Even so, it's hard for me to see how the Celtics can rate so highly on the "overdue good karma." This is a team that strip mined other franchises for talent over the course of its history. I don't have a problem with it, but I think that balances some of the things that have happened to Boston in the last 20 years.

In addition, I would think a Boston fan would be even more sensitive to the plight of long-running "nearly there" teams. Yeah, it was something to be proud of when the Blazers just kept making the playoffs. But it often felt like we kept just making the playoffs.

My last bone to pick with the SG is how he ranked Portland. The Blazers had nearly as much bad luck as any team this year. The luck might not have been the reason they finished in the lottery, but it definitely affected the outcome. Injuries to all sorts of players--including but not limited to the stars--cost Portland at least a few wins. The Blazers also have shown that their current front office competency is much higher than a four. How could the level of devastation be only a four? We're celebrating the 30th anniversary of the only championship this city has ever seen, and the SG himself talked about what happened to the team in his column about The Breaks of the Game. I know my bias is clear (always), but I think the Blazers should be higher on his list.

I've been playing the lottery simulator a lot on ESPN.com today, and I've come up with my ideal situation:

  • 1. Blazers
  • 2. Blazers
  • 3. Hawks
  • and so on
  • 11. Hawks

Of course, I don't even know how Portland could pull that off. So instead, I'll say this:

Portland 1 or 2, and Boston and Atlanta between the other two of the top three picks, with Atlanta keeping pick 11 as well.

The Sports Guy has influenced me enough to care that the Celtics get something really good in this draft. I care about J-Lew's team and would like him to have something really positive to think about this off-season. And I want Portland to draft Oden or Durant (or both...who knows?).

Worst possible scenario? I wouldn't like the Blazers to fall, but that wouldn't be the worst. The worst would be if the Hawks lost both of their first round picks and the Bulls or Timberwolves got a top three pick as well. I would be really upset if that happened.

I plan on finding a place to watch the lottery tonight. If I do, you can count on a running diary of the event.

Monday, May 21, 2007

It's too bad I'm short, slow, and bad at basketball

This post at OregonLive is what I've been waiting for my whole life. Too bad I've been waiting for it instead of training for it. Oops.

The Blazers used to dunk...a lot

I saw this video thanks to Henry at TrueHoop. I always loved Rasheed, but this video shows part of the reason that other Blazers fans used to like him too. Hopefully tomorrow's lottery will help us get into position to continue moving towards the type of team that can dunk with the best of 'em.

I wanted to link to this post, too, because I really enjoyed it for it's positive points about both Phoenix and San Antonio, two teams I really appreciate. (That one is courtesy of TrueHoop as well.)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Another non-US center for Portland?

In response to Ek's comments on the last post: I agree that the real problem is the reffing in general around the league, and not just what happened in that great series. I complained enough this season about what happened in various Blazer games, but I'm sure you're right about being able to find video evidence in every game of bad officiating. Unfortunately our satellite went haywire just as the playoffs were getting goohttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifd, so I didn't see hardly any of the other playoff games, which means I missed the Tayshaun call to which you're referring. I love Sheed, but it's always fun to watch him go nuts.

The draft lottery is on Tuesday, and I can't wait to see what Portland gets. Yesterday I read a little about Yi Jianlian and watched some video of him on YouTube. Just now I watched the ESPN video about him. I'm apt to compare people more favorably than they deserve with big names. Still, I couldn't help but see the similarities between him and Garnett. What's even better--or worse, if it isn't true--is that he reminded me of a young Sabonis. There's nobody better in my mind, which means I'm already sold on him as a potential pick if we can't get Oden or Durant. This is the video I watched on YouTube, picked especially for placement here because the song is so good. I've included a video of Sabonis at the bottom. I know that I've put this up before, but it's just so good and he holds such a high position in my mind that I have to include it every once in a while.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A few of us are wondering

I already went crazy on the Kay House wall talking about the Suns-Spurs series, but I found this online today and thought I should share it. I don't think the Spurs are in any way innocent in this series, but I think it's ridiculous that many people are painting the Spurs as big-time thugs. As the Sports Guy has said many times, the Suns get away with moving screens all the time. It's the basis of their offense. This video just shows a few other ways they try to gain an extra edge. As the SG said in his column the other day, professional basketball players don't accidentally do things, so anyone who is emphatic that Bowen--a dirty player--is playing like Bill Laimbeer should at least be willing to entertain the thought that he's not the only one.

One last note before the video: I believe this video is from the game in which Horry sent Nash to the ground. If that's the case, I think his check is even more important. He was responding to the hit put on him by Amare, which looks to be about the same as the one he put on Nash. Horry doesn't sell it as well, isn't a two-time MVP, didn't hit the scorer's table, and is bigger than Nash, but that shouldn't change the penalty for the hit. Full disclosure: I began hating the Suns while living in Phoenix, because I couldn't stand most of the fans in that city, and I have cheered for the Spurs (unless they're playing the Blazers) since I can remember liking the NBA. I am most certainly biased.

Monday, May 07, 2007

More Kirilenko

I've only watched a few minutes of the Warriors-Jazz game tonight, but it's been enough to see AK-47 dominate the floor. With a little less than ten minutes to go in the second quarter, AK has five blocks already. I think Sloan might realize how much they need this guy and what he brings to their team, so that the Blazers would not be able to get him in some incredible trade.

I spent a lot of time the other night trying to write a post about fixing the Lakers. It included trading Kobe and starting over around Lamar and a few other guys. I gave up for three main reasons: 1) as Dave at Blazer's Edge has said, it doesn't make sense to spend energy talking about the Lakers, 2) it was getting really hard to figure out how to actually make things work, and 3) I was starting to get sick to my stomach thinking so much about the Lakers.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Raging against the machine

This Sunday I missed something that I had vague hopes of witnessing: Rage Against the Machine played another show. They are probably one of my favorite bands, mixing prophetic/scathing lyrics, perfect instrumentation, loads of technical skill, and as much groove as a rock band can handle. I'm listening to them right now to commemorate what I didn't get to see. The picture here is from Deadspin and shows the great Adam Morrison rocking out at the Rage show. It turns out that they're touring this summer on the Rock the Bells tour. If there's any way I can make one of those four shows--which are most likely already sold out--I want to try.

Today was my first day as a teacher in which I had to be at school on a day in which there had been a threat--or the perception of a threat--of violence. The day went well, and the administration did a good job of checking out the whole thing and letting us know that there didn't really seem to be cause for concern. Even so, it was a weird feeling at times, and it was frustrating that so many students were gone because of fear.

Two things to end: if for some reason you read this and not my friend James' blog, go check it out. It's frequently very good, although it isn't frequently updated. I'm finally settling into my reading of God's Politics by Jim Wallis. So far I like it, and I'm looking forward to being energized about teaching because of what he has to say.